He hadn’t expected to come across anyone out in the glen. He often came out here when he wanted to be alone to write his music. Though he was known to bring a nymph here from time to time. He was busy writing the notes to his song when he felt the ever so slight prick at his side. He looked up and around until he spied her in the bushes.
She froze when she saw him. For she had recognized who he was and for a moment was frightened. He set down and looked at her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had eyes like a deer and hair that fell down over her shoulders in golden waves. It truly was love at first sight.
He set down his lute and approached her cautiously. “It’s alright, I won’t hurt you. Can you tell me your name?”
“Daphne. That’s a beautiful name.”
“Thank you.” She said with barely a whisper. “You play the lute beautifully, sir.”
“Let’s dispense with the formalities shall we. Please, call me Apollo. Come, sit by me. I’ll play for you.”
Cautiously she moved from the bushes to sit near Apollo but not too close. They spent the rest of the afternoon talking and listening to him play music.
It’s impossible to hide from a god, or avoid him, as Daphne so learned. It wasn’t long after that afternoon in the glen that Apollo began to show up in her village. First, it was just for a visit, to see how his new friend was. Then it was to play in the tavern, he was a gifted musician and the villagers thought it was a treat to hear him play. At first she thought of him as just a friend but then as his visits carried on she grew concerned that he wanted more than just friendship. It worried her. She tried to distance herself she tried to make sure that he knew they were only friends, nothing more, but he would hear none of it.
Every visit brought an opportunity and an excuse to spend time with her. One day while she was out for berries Apollo appeared with all of his usual swagger.
“It’s quite convenient, no one else seems to be around.”
She smiled. “I wouldn’t say that it is a convenience, so much as a coincidence.”
She turned her back to him to continue picking the berries. He came up from behind, close enough to be a lover. “I don’t believe in coincidences.”
He kissed her neck letting his mouth linger as his hands slowly slid down her arms. She wiggled away.
“Come now. You know what my intentions were and you know you want this.”
He took a step closer. Daphne took a step back. “I told you. I made a vow. I will not break it. I can’t
give you what you want. I can only give you my friendship.”
He looked upon her like a wolf stalking his prey. “I do believe I can change your mind.” He said in almost a growl.
The world froze while the two eyed each other, the predator and the prey. Then she ran. She ran as if her life depended on it. She wove through the trees daring not to look behind her knowing that he was close in his chase.
She wasn't paying close enough attention however, for she tripped on a branch and started to fall…she was caught, by Apollo.
“Please, let me go.”
“How could you!” he shook her violently by the shoulders. “You made me believe that you could
love me. You made me think!”
“Please. You’re hurting me.” She begged.
“There are consequences for women like you.”
“Mother! Mother help me!!” She called in her panic.
Apollo was blown back and watched helplessly as Daphne was transformed into a laurel tree right before his eyes.