Citation
A wonder book for girls & boys

Material Information

Title:
A wonder book for girls & boys
Uniform Title:
Wonder book for girls and boys
Alternate title:
Wonder book for girls and boys
Creator:
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
Crane, Walter, 1845-1915 ( Illustrator )
James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co ( Publisher )
Riverside Press (Cambridge, Mass.) ( Printer )
H.O. Houghton & Company ( Printer )
Elizabeth Robins Pennell Collection (Library of Congress)
Place of Publication:
London
Publisher:
Osgood, McIlvaine & Co.
Manufacturer:
Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass. ; H.O. Houghton & Company
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 210 p., [19] leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 24 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Mythology, Greek -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Mythology, Classical -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Children's stories ( lcsh )
Children's stories -- 1892 ( lcsh )
Fantasy literature -- 1892 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1892
Genre:
Children's stories
Fantasy literature ( rbgenr )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
United States -- Massachusetts -- Cambridge
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by Nathaniel Hawthorne ; with 60 designs by Walter Crane.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026630843 ( ALEPH )
ALG4038 ( NOTIS )
02916033 ( OCLC )
75314016 ( LCCN )

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Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.





mee author has long been of opinion that
many of the classical myths were capable of
being rendered into very capital reading for chil-
dren. In the little volume here offered to the
public, he has worked up half a dozen of them,
with this end in view. A great freedom of treat-
ment was necessary to his plan; but it will be ob-
served by every one who attempts to render these
legends malleable in his intellectual furnace, that
they are marvellously independent of all tempo-
rary modes and circumstances. They remain es-
sentially the same, after changes that would affect
the identity of almost anything else.

He does not, therefore, plead guilty to a sac-
rilege, in having sometimes shaped anew, as his
fancy dictated, the forms that have been hallowed
by an antiquity of two or three thousand years.
No epoch of time can claim a copyright in these
immortal fables. They seem never to have been
made; and certainly, so long as man exists, they
can never perish; but, by their indestructibility
itself, they are legitimate subjects for every age to
clothe with its own garniture of manners and sen-
timent, and to imbue with its own morality. In

Vv



vi PREFACE

the present version they may have lost much of
their classical aspect (or, at all events, the author
has not been careful to preserve it), and have per-
haps assumed a Gothic or romantic guise.

In performing this pleasant task, for it has
been really a task fit for hot weather, and one of
the most agreeable, of a literary kind, which he
ever undertook, — the author has not always
thought it necessary to write downward, in order
to meet the comprehension of children. He has
generally suffered the theme to soar, whenever
such was its tendency, and when he himself was
buoyant enough to follow without an effort. Chil-
dren possess an unestimated sensibility to what-
ever is deep or high, in imagination or feeling, so
long as it is simple likewise. It i is only the arti-
ficial and the complex that bewilder them.

Lenox, Fly 15, 1851.







PAGE

THE GORGON’S HEAD.
TANGLEWOOD PorcH. — Introductory to The Gorgon’s

Head 5
THE GoRGON’S HEAD i 3 : ; 7
TANGLEWOOD Porcu. — After the Sey . ; ; - 39
THE GOLDEN TOUCH.
SHADOW Brook. — Introductory to The Golden Touch . 42
THE GOLDEN TOUCH : : A ; ‘ 46
SHADOW Brook. — After the Sc : ‘ : ; . 69

THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN.
TANGLEWOOD PLAy-Room.— Introductory to The Para-

dise of Children . : , : : i ; 3 33
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN . 6 ; . 78
TANGLEWOOD PLAy-Room. — After the uae . ; . Too

THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES.
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE. — Introductory to The Three

Golden Apples . , . ; ‘ : i . 102
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES. ; , : - 109
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE. — After the Sane. ; : - 136

THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER.
THE HIL- fe! to The Miraculous

Pitcher : : 5 ; : ; 5 - I40

THE MIRACULOUS Dreier : 4 . . : - 144

THE HILL-Sipe.— After the Story . ; , : - 170
THE CHIMERA.

BaLp-Summir. — Introductory to The Chimera . . Ly 2

THE CHIMERA . . - i : peel 7.0)

BaLp-Summir. — After the con : ; : . - 206
vii









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Half-Title . ; : .
Frontispiece — Bellerophon on Pegasus:
Title °
Preface
Tailpiece . 7 : ; . : °
Contents
List of Designs
Tailpiece
Headpiece — TANGLEWOOD Porcu .
THE GORGON’S HEAD — ees
Perseus and the Graie . , .
Perseus armed by the N ympus ; ° . .
Perseus and the Gorgons
Perseus showing the “Gorgon’ Ss Head
Tailpiece :
Headpiece — TANGLEWOOD PorcH, After the Story
Tailpiece s
Headpiece — SHADOW Brook
THE GOLDEN TOUCH — Headpiece
The Stranger appearing to Midas
Midas’ Daughter turned to Gold
Midas with the Pitcher _.
Tailpiece :
Headpiece — SHADOW BROOK, After the Story
Tailpiece 3
Headpiece = Dancin woop PLAY- Room
Tailpiece
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN — Headpiece
Pandora wonders at the Box . .
Pandora desires to open the Box
Pandora opens the Box .
Tailpiece
ix

vii



x LIST OF DESIGNS

Headpiece— TANGLEWooD PLay-Room, After the Story
Headpiece — TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE
Tailpiece : ‘
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES —Headpiece :
Hercules and the Nymphs
Hercules and the Old Man of the Sea :
Hercules and Atlas
Tailpiece
Headpiece- TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE, After the Stacy
Tailpiece ;
Headpiece — THE Hitt SIDE
Tailpiece .
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER — -Headpiece
Philemon and Baucis : ;
The Strangers in the Village
The Strangers entertained
Tailpiece
Headpiece — THE Hitt-Spe, After the Story
Tailpiece ; . , 6
Headpiece — BALD SuMMIT
Tailpiece :
THE CHIMERA— Ee rresapiccee
Bellerophon at the Fountain
Bellerophon slays the Chimera
Tailpiece
Headpiece — BALD SuMmrr, ‘After the Story
Tailpiece



. 136

. 140

. 148

. 169

- 175

» I00

102

. 108

109

- I12

120

. 126

135

139

143

. 144

144
158

170

sea

172

176

« 180

200

- 205

206

+ 210





INTRODUCTORY TO
THE GORGON’S HEAD

ENEATH the porch of the
} country-seat called Tangle-
‘} wood, one fine’ autumnal
morning, was assembled a
merry party of little folks,
with a tall youth in the midst of them. They
had planned a nutting expedition, and were impa-
tiently waiting for the mists to roll up the hill-
slopes, and for the sun to pour the warmth of
the Indian summer over the fields and pastures,
and into the nooks of the many-colored woods.
There was a prospect of as fine a day as ever
gladdened the aspect of this beautiful and com-
fortable world. As yet, however, the morning
mist filled up the whole length and breadth of
the valley, above which, on a gently sloping em-
inence, the mansion stood.

This body of white vapor extended to within
less than a hundred yards of the house. It com-
pletely hid everything beyond that distance, ex-
cept a few ruddy or yellow tree-tops, which here

I







INTRODUCTORY TO
THE GORGON’S HEAD

ENEATH the porch of the
} country-seat called Tangle-
‘} wood, one fine’ autumnal
morning, was assembled a
merry party of little folks,
with a tall youth in the midst of them. They
had planned a nutting expedition, and were impa-
tiently waiting for the mists to roll up the hill-
slopes, and for the sun to pour the warmth of
the Indian summer over the fields and pastures,
and into the nooks of the many-colored woods.
There was a prospect of as fine a day as ever
gladdened the aspect of this beautiful and com-
fortable world. As yet, however, the morning
mist filled up the whole length and breadth of
the valley, above which, on a gently sloping em-
inence, the mansion stood.

This body of white vapor extended to within
less than a hundred yards of the house. It com-
pletely hid everything beyond that distance, ex-
cept a few ruddy or yellow tree-tops, which here

I





2 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

and there emerged, and were glorified by the early
sunshine, as was likewise the broad surface of the
mist. Four or five miles off to the southward
rose the summit of Monument Mountain, and
seemed to be floating on acloud. Some fifteen
miles farther away, in the same direction, ap-
peared the loftier Dome of Taconic, looking blue
and indistinct, and hardly so substantial as the
vapory sea that almost rolled overit. The nearer
hills, which bordered the valley, were half sub-
merged, and were specked with little cloud-
wreaths all the way to their tops. On the whole,
there was so much cloud, and so little solid earth,
that it had the effect of a vision.

The children above-mentioned, being as full of
life as they could hold, kept overflowing from the
porch of Tanglewood, and scampering along the
gravel-walk, or rushing across the dewy herbage
of the lawn. I can hardly tell how many of these
small people there were; not less than nine or
ten, however, nor more than a dozen, of all sorts,
sizes, and ages, whether girls or boys. They were
brothers, sisters, and cousins, together with a few
of their young acquaintances, who had been in-
vited by Mr. and Mrs. Pringle to spend some of
this delightful weather with their own children at
Tanglewood. Iam afraid to tell you their names,
or even to give them any names which other chil-
dren have ever been called by; because, to my
certain knowledge, authors sometimes get them-
selves into great trouble by accidentally giving the
names of real persons to the characters in their
books. For this reason I mean to call them Prim-



TANGLEWOOD PORCH 3

rose, Periwinkle, Sweet Fern, Dandelion, Blue
Eye, Clover, Huckleberry, Cowslip, Squash-Blos-
som, Milkweed, Plantain, and Buttercup; although,
to be sure, such titles might better suit a group
of fairies than a company of earthly children.

It is not to be supposed that these little folks
were to be permitted by their careful fathers
and mothers, uncles, aunts, or grandparents, to
stray abroad into the woods and fields, without
the guardianship of some particularly grave and
elderly person. Oh, no,indeed! In the first sen-
tence of my book, you will recollect that I spoke
of a tall youth, standing in the midst of the chil-
dren. His name —(and I shall let you know his
real name, because he considers it a great honor
to have told the stories that are here to be printed)
—his name was Eustace Bright. He was a stu-
dent at Williams College, and had reached, I
think, at this period, the venerable age of eigh.
teen years; so that he felt quite like a grandfather
towards Periwinkle, Dandelion, Huckleberry,
Squash - Blossom, Milkweed, and the rest, who
were only half or a third as venerable as he. A
trouble in his eyesight (such as many students
think it necessary to have, nowadays, in order to
prove their diligence at their books) had kept him
from college a week or two after the beginning
of the term. But, for my part, I have seldom met
with a pair of eyes that looked as if they could see
farther or better than those of Eustace Bright.

This learned student was slender, and rather
pale, as all Yankee students are; but yet of a
healthy aspect, and as light and active as if he had



4 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

wings to his shoes. By the by, being much ad-
dicted to wading through streamlets and across
meadows, he had put on cowhide boots for the
expedition. He wore a linen blouse, a cloth cap,
and a pair of green spectacles, which he had as-
sumed, probably, less for the preservation of his
eyes than for the dignity that they imparted to
his countenance. In either case, however, he
might as well have let them alone; for Huckle-
berry, a mischievous little elf, crept behind Eus-
- tace as he sat on the steps of the porch, snatched
the spectacles from his nose, and clapped them
on her own; and as the student forgot to take
them back, they fell off into the grass, and lay
there till the next spring.

Now, Eustace Bright, you must know, had won
great fame among the children, as a narrator of
wonderful stories; and though he sometimes pre-
tended to be annoyed, when they teased him for
more, and more, and always for more, yet I really
doubt whether he liked anything quite so well as
to tell them. You might have seen his eyes twin-
kle, therefore, when Clover, Sweet Fern, Cowslip,
Buttercup, and most of their playmates, besought
him to relate one of his stories, while they were
waiting for the mist to clear up.

“Ves, Cousin Eustace,” said Primrose, who was
a bright girl of twelve, with laughing eyes, and a
nose that turned up a little, “ the morning is cer-
tainly the best time for the stories with which you
so often tire out our patience. We shall be in
less danger of hurting your feelings, by falling
asleep at the most interesting points, — as little
Cowslip and I did last night!”





BEL Cae OE ET EN Tres Pn are sat



TANGLEWOOD PORCH 5

“ Naughty Primrose,” cried Cowslip, a child of
six years old; “I did not fall asleep, and I only
shut my eyes, so as to see a picture of what. Cousin
Eustace was telling about. His stories are good
to hear at night, because we can dream about
them asleep; and good in the morning, too, be-
cause then we can dream about them awake. So
I hope he will tell us one this very minute.”

“ Thank you, my little Cowslip,” said Eustace ;
“certainly you shall have the best story I can
think of, if it were only for defending me so well
from that naughty Primrose. But, children, I
have already told you so many fairy tales, that
I doubt whether there is a single one which you
have not heard at least twice over. I am afraid
you will fall asleep in reality, if I repeat any of
them again.”

“ No, no, no!” cried Blue Eye, Periwinkle, Plan-
tain, and half a dozen others. “ We like a story
all the better for having heard it two or three
times before.”

And it is a truth, as regards children, that a
story seems often to deepen its mark in their in-
terest, not merely by two or three, but by num-
berless repetitions, But Eustace Bright, in the
exuberance of his resources, scorned to avail him-
self of an advantage which an older story-teller
would have been glad to grasp at.

“It would be a great pity,” said he, “if a man
of my learning (to say nothing of original fancy)
could not find a new story every day, year in and
year out, for children such as you. I will tell you
one of the nursery tales that were made for the -



6 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

amusement of our great old grandmother, the
Earth, when she was a child in frock and pinafore.
There are a hundred such; and it is a wonder to
me that they have not long ago been put into pic-
ture-books for little girls and boys. But, instead
of that, old gray-bearded grandsires pore over
them in musty volumes of Greek, and puzzle
themselves with trying to find out when, and how,
and for what they were made.”

“Well, well, well, well, Cousin Eustace!” cried
all the children at once; “talk no more about
your stories, but begin.”

“ Sit down, then, every soul of you,” said Eus-
tace Bright, “ and be all as still as so many mice.
At the slightest interruption, whether.from great,
naughty Primrose, little Dandelion, or any other,
I shall bite the story short off between my teeth,
and swallow the untold part. But, in the first
place, do any of you know what a Gorgon is?”

“TI do,” said Primrose.

“Then hold your tongue!” rejoined Eustace,
who had rather she would have known nothing
about the matter. “ Hold all your tongues, and
I shall tell you a sweet pretty story of a Gorgon’s
head.”

And so he did, as you may begin to read on
the next page. Working up his sophomorical
erudition with a good deal of tact, and incurring
great obligations to Professor Anthon, he, never-
theless, disregarded all classical authorities, when-
ever the vagrant audacity of his imagination im-
pelled him to do so.















HEA

44ERSEUS was the son of
Danaé, who was the daughter
of a king. And when Per-
seus was a very little boy,
some wicked people put his
mother and himself into a
chest, and set them afloat
upon the sea. The wind blew freshly, and drove
the chest away from the shore, and the uneasy
billows tossed it up and down; while Danaé
clasped her child closely to her bosom, and dreaded
that some big wave would dash its foamy crest
over them both. The chest sailed on, however,
and neither sank nor was upset; until, when night
was coming, it floated so near an island that it got
entangled in a fisherman’s nets, and was drawn
out high and dry upon the sand. The island was
called Seriphus, and it was reigned over by King
Polydectes, who happened to be the fisherman’s
brother.

This fisherman, I am glad to tell you, was an
exceedingly humane and upright man. Heshowed
great kindness to Danaé and her little boy; and
df



8 THE GORGON’S HEAD

continued to befriend them, until Perseus had
grown to be a handsome youth, very strong and
active, and skillful in the use of arms. Long be-
fore this time, King Polydectes had seen the two
strangers — the mother and her child — who had
come to his dominions in a floating chest. As
he was not good and kind, like his brother the
fisherman, but extremely wicked, he resolved to
send Perseus on a dangerous enterprise, in which
he would probably be killed, and then to do some
great mischief to Danaé herself. So this bad-
hearted king spent a long while in considering
-what was the most dangerous thing that a young
man could possibly undertake to perform. At
last, having hit upon an enterprise that promised
to turn out as fatally as he desired, he sent for the
youthful Perseus.

The young man came to the palace, and found
the king sitting upon his throne.

“ Perseus,” said King Polydectes, smiling craft-
ily upon him, “you are grown up a fine young
man. You and your good mother have received
a great deal of kindness from myself, as well as
from my worthy brother the fisherman, and I sup-_
pose you would not be sorry to repay some of it.”

“Please your Majesty,” answered Perseus, “I
would willingly risk my life to do so.”

“ Well, then,” continued the king, still with a
cunning smile on his lips, “ I have a little adven-
ture to propose to you; and, as you are a brave
and enterprising youth, you will doubtless look
upon it as a great piece of good luck to have
so rare an opportunity of distinguishing yourself.



THE GORGON’S HEAD 9

You must know, my good Perseus, I think of
getting married to the beautiful Princess Hippo-
damia; and it is customary, on these occasions, to
make the bride a present of some far-fetched and
elegant curiosity. I have been a little perplexed,
I must honestly confess, where to obtain anything
likely to please a princess of her exquisite taste.
But, this morning, I flatter myself, I have thought
of precisely the article.”

“ And can I assist your Majesty in obtaining
it?” cried Perseus, eagerly.

“You can, if you are as brave a youth as I be-
lieve you to be,” replied King Polydectes, with
the utmost graciousness of manner. “ The bridal
gift which I have set my heart on presenting to
the beautiful Hippodamia is the head of the Gor-
gon Medusa with the snaky locks; and I depend
on you, my dear Perseus, to bring it tome. So,
as I am anxious to settle affairs with the princess,
the sooner you go in quest of the Gorgon, the
better I shall be pleased.”

“T will set out to-morrow morning,” ‘answered
Perseus.

“Pray do so, my gallant youth,” rejoined the
king. “ And, Perseus, in cutting off the Gorgon’s
head, be careful to make a clean stroke, so as not
to injure its appearance. You must bring it home
in the very best condition, in order to suit the
exquisite taste of the beautiful Princess Hippo-
damia.”

Perseus left the palace, but was scarcely out of
hearing before Polydectes burst into a laugh; be-
ing greatly amused, wicked king that he was, to



10 , THE GORGON’S HEAD

find how readily the young man fell into the snare.
The news quickly spread abroad that Perseus had
undertaken to cut off the head of Medusa with
the snaky locks. Everybody was rejoiced; for
most of the inhabitants of the island were as
wicked as the king himself, and would have liked
nothing better than to see some enormous mis-
chief happen to Danaé and her son. The only
good man in this unfortunate island of Seriphus
appears to have been the fisherman. As Perseus
walked along, therefore, the people pointed after
him, and made mouths, and winked to one another,
and ridiculed him as loudly as they dared.

“ Ho, ho!” cried they; “ Medusa’s snakes will
sting him soundly!”

Now, there were three Gorgons alive at that
period; and they were the most strange and ter-
rible monsters that had ever been since the world
was made, or that have been seen in after days,
or that are likely to be seen in all time to come.
I hardly know what sort of creature or hobgoblin
to call them. They were three sisters, and seem
to have borne some distant resemblance to women,
but were really a very frightful and mischievous
species of dragon. It is, indeed, difficult to ima-

‘ne what hideous beings these three sisters were.
Why, instead of locks of hair, if you can believe
me, they had each of them a hundred enormous
snakes growing on their heads, all alive, twisting,
wriggling, curling, and thrusting out their ven-
omous tongues, with forked stings at the end!
The teeth of the Gorgons were terribly long
tusks; their hands were made of brass; and their



al citar es

seein ahaa



THE GORGON’S HEAD Ir

bodies were all over scales, which, if not iron, were
something as hard and impenetrable. They had
wings, too, and exceedingly splendid ones, I can
assure you; for every feather in them was pure,
bright, glittering, burnished gold, and they looked
very dazzlingly, no doubt, when the Gorgons were
flying about in the sunshine.

But when people happened to catch a glimpse
of their glittering brightness, aloft in the air, they
seldom stopped to gaze, but ran and hid them-
selves as speedily as they could. You will think,
perhaps, that they were afraid of being stung by
the serpents that served the Gorgons instead of
hair, — or of having their heads bitten off by their
ugly tusks,— or of being torn all to pieces by
their brazen claws. Well, to be sure, these were
some of the dangers, but by no means the greatest,
nor the most difficult to avoid. For the worst
thing about these abominable Gorgons was, that,
if once a poor mortal fixed his eyes full upon one -
of their faces, he was certain, that very instant, to
be changed from warm flesh and blood into cold
and lifeless stone!

Thus, as you will easily perceive, it was a very
dangerous adventure that the wicked King Poly-
dectes had contrived for this innocent young
man. Perseus himself, when he had thought
over the matter, could not help seeing that he had
very little chance of coming safely through it, and
that he was far more likely to become a stone
image than to bring back the head of Medusa
with the snaky locks. . For, not to speak of other
difficulties, there was one which it would have



12 THE GORGON’S HEAD

puzzled an older man than Perseus to get over.
Not only must he fight with and slay this golden-
winged, iron-scaled, long-tusked, brazen-clawed,
snaky-haired monster, but he must do it with his
eyes shut, or, at least, without so much as a glance
at the enemy with whom he was contending.
Else, while his arm was lifted to strike, he would
stiffen into stone, and stand with that uplifted arm
for centuries, until time, and the wind and weather,
should crumble him quite away. This would be
a very sad thing to befall a young man who
wanted to perform a great many brave deeds, and
to enjoy a great deal of happiness, in this bright
and beautiful world.

So disconsolate did these thoughts make him,
that Perseus could not bear to tell his mother
what he had undertaken to do. He therefore
took his shield, girded on his sword, and crossed
over from the island to the mainland, where he
sat down in a solitary place, and hardly refrained
from shedding tears.

But, while he was in this sorrowful mood, he
heard a voice close beside him.

“ Perseus,” said the voice, “ why are you sad?”

He lifted his head from his hands, in which
he had hidden it, and, behold! all alone as Per-
seus had supposed himself to be, there was a
stranger in the solitary place. It was a brisk, in-
telligent, and remarkably shrewd-looking young
man, with a cloak over his shoulders, an odd sort
of cap on his head, a strangely twisted staff in
his hand, and a short and very crooked sword
hanging by his side. He was exceedingly light



THE GORGON’S HEAD 13

and active in his figure, like a person much accus-
tomed to gymnastic exercises, and well able to
leap or run. Above all, the stranger had such a
cheerful, knowing, and helpful aspect (though it
was certainly a little mischievous, into the bar-
gain), that Perseus could not help feeling his
spirits grow livelier as he gazed at him. Besides,
being really a courageous youth, he felt greatly
ashamed that anybody should have found him
with tears in his eyes, like a timid little school-
boy, when, after all, there might be no occasion
for despair. So Perseus wiped his eyes, and an-
swered the stranger pretty briskly, putting on as
brave a look as he could.

“JT am not so very sad,” said he, “ only thought-
ful about an adventure that I have undertaken.”

“Oho!” answered the stranger. “Well, tell
me all about it, and possibly I may be of service
to you. I have helped a good many young men
through adventures that looked difficult enough
beforehand. Perhaps you may have heard of me.
I have more names than one; but the name of
Quicksilver suits me as well as any other. Tell
me what the trouble is, and we will talk the mat-
ter over, and see what can be done.”

The stranger’s words and manner put Perseus
into quite a different mood from his former one.
He resolved to tell Quicksilver all his difficulties,
since he could not easily be worse off than he
already was, and, very possibly, his new friend
might give him some advice that would turn out
well in the end. So he let the stranger know, in
few words, precisely what the case was, — how



14 THE GORGON’S HEAD

that King Polydectes wanted the head of Medusa
with the snaky locks as a bridal gift for the beau-
tiful Princess Hippodamia, and how that he had
undertaken to get it for him, but was afraid of
being turned into stone.

« And that would be a great pity,” said Quick.
silver, with his mischievous smile. “ You would
make a very handsome marble statue, it is true,
and it would be a considerable number of centu-
ries before you crumbled away ; but, on the whole,
one would rather be a young man for a few years
than a stone image for a great many.”

“Oh, far rather!” exclaimed Perseus, with the
tears again standing in hiseyes. “And, besides,
what would my dear mother do, if her beloved
son were turned into a stone?”

“Well, well, let us hope that the affair will not
turn out so very badly,” replied Quicksilver, in an
encouraging tone. “I am the very person to
help you, if anybody can. My sister and myself
will do our utmost to bring you safe through the
adventure, ugly as it now looks.”

“Your sister?” repeated Perseus.

“Yes, my sister,” said the stranger. “ She is
very wise, I promise you; and as for myself, I
generally have all my wits about me, such as they
are. If you show yourself bold and cautious, and
follow our advice, you need not fear being a stone
image yet awhile. But, first of all, you must polish
your shield, till you can see your face in it as dis-
tinctly as in a mirror.”

This seemed to Perseus rather an odd begin-
ning of the adventure; for he thought it of far



THE GORGON’S HEAD 15

more consequence that the shield should be strong
enough to defend him from the Gorgon’s brazen
claws, than that it should be bright enough to
show him the reflection of his face. However,
concluding that Quicksilver knew better than
himself, he immediately set to work, and scrubbed
the shield with so much diligence and good-will,
that it very quickly shone like the moon at har-
vest-time. Quicksilver looked at it with a smile,
and nodded his approbation. Then, taking off
his own short and crooked sword, he girded it
about Perseus, instead of the one which he had
before worn.

“No sword but mine will answer your pur-
pose,” observed he; “the blade has a most ex-
cellent temper, and will cut through iron and
brass as easily as through the slenderest twig.
And now we will set out. The next thing is to
find the Three Gray Women, who will tell us
where to find the Nymphs.”

“ The Three Gray Women!” cried Perseus, to

whom this seemed only a new difficulty in the
path of his adventure; “ pray who may the Three
Gray Women be? I never heard of them be-
fore.”
“ They are three very strange old ladies,” said
Quicksilver, laughing. ‘“ They have but one eye
among them, and only one tooth. Moreover, you
must find them out by starlight, or in the dusk of
the evening; for they never show themselves by
the light either of the sun or moon.”

“ But,” said Perseus, “why should I waste my
time with these Three Gray Women? Would it



16 THE GORGON’S HEAD

not be better to set out at.once in search of the
terrible Gorgons?”

“No, no,” answered his friend. “There are
other things to be done, before you can find your
way to the Gorgons. There is nothing for it but
to hunt up these old ladies; and when we meet
with them, you may be sure that the Gorgons are
not a great way off. Come, let us be stirring!”

Perseus, by this time, felt so much confidence in
his companion’s sagacity, that he made no more
objections, and professed himself ready to begin
the adventure immediately. They accordingly
set out, and walked at a pretty brisk pace; so
brisk, indeed, that Perseus found it rather difficult
to keep up with his nimble friend Quicksilver.
To say the truth, he had a singular idea that
Quicksilver was furnished with a pair of winged
shoes, which, of course, helped him along marvel-
ously. And then, too, when Perseus looked side-
ways at him, out of the corner of his eye, he
seemed to see wings on the side of his head; al-
though, if he turned a full gaze, there were no
such things to be perceived, but only an odd kind
of cap. But, at all events, the twisted staff was
evidently a great convenience to Quicksilver, and
enabled him to proceed so fast, that Perseus,
though a remarkably active young man, began to
be out of breath.

“Here!” cried Quicksilver, at last, —for he
knew well enough, rogue that he was, how hard
Perseus found it to keep pace with him, —“ take
you the staff, for you need it a great deal more
than I. Are there no better walkers than your-
self in the island of Seriphus?”





THE GORGON’S HEAD iy

“TI could walk pretty well,” said Perseus, glan-
cing slyly at his companion’s feet, “if I had only
a pair of winged shoes.”

“We must see about getting you a pair,” an-
swered Quicksilver.

But the staff helped Perseus along so bravely
that he no longer felt the slightest weariness. In
fact, the stick seemed to be alive in his hand, and
to lend some of its life to Perseus. He and
Quicksilver now walked onward at their ease,
talking very sociably together; and Quicksilver
told so many pleasant stories about his former ad-
ventures, and how well his wits had served him
on various occasions, that Perseus began to think
him a very wonderful person. He evidently knew
the world; and nobody is so charming to a young
man as a friend who has that kind of knowledge.
Perseus listened the more eagerly, in the hope of
brightening his own wits by what he heard.

At last, he happened to recollect that Quick-
silver had spoken of a sister, who was to lend her
assistance in the adventure which they were now
bound upon.

“Where is she?” he inquired. “Shall we not
meet her soon?”

“ All at the proper time,” said his companion.
“ But this sister of mine, you must understand, is
quite a different sort of character from myself.
She is very grave and prudent, seldom smiles,
never laughs, and makes it a rule not to utter a
word unless she has something particularly pro-
found to say. Neither will she listen to any but
the wisest conversation.”



ig. .THE GORGON’S HEAD

“Dear me!” ejaculated Perseus; “I shall be
afraid to say a syllable.”

“She is a very accomplished person, I assure
you,” continued Quicksilver, “and has all the arts
and sciences at her fingers’ ends. In short, she is
so immoderately wise that many people call her
wisdom personified. But, to tell you the truth,
she has hardly vivacity enough for my taste; and
I think you would scarcely find her so pleasant
a traveling companion as myself. She has her
good points, nevertheless; and you will find the
benefit of them, in your encounter with the Gor-

ons.”

By this time it had grown quite dusk. They
were now come to a very wild and desert place,
overgrown with shaggy bushes, and so silent and
solitary that nobody seemed ever to have dwelt or

journeyed there. All was waste and desolate, in |

the gray twilight, which grew every moment more
obscure. Perseus looked about him, rather dis-
consolately, and asked Quicksilver whether they
had a great deal farther to go.

“ Hist! hist!” whispered his companion. “ Make
no noise! This is just the time and place to meet
the Three Gray Women. Be careful that they do
not see you before you see them; for, though
they have but a single eye among the three, it is
as sharp-sighted as half a dozen common.eyes.”

“ But what must I do,” asked Perseus, “ when
we meet them?”

Quicksilver explained to Perseus how the
Three Gray Women managed with their one eye.
They were in the habit, it seems, of changing it



THE GORGON’S HEAD 19

from one to another, as if it had been a pair of
spectacles, or — which would have suited them
better — a quizzing-glass. When one of the three
had kept the eye a certain time, she’took it out of
the socket and passed it to one of her sisters,
whose turn it might happen to be, and who im-
mediately clapped it into her own head, and en-—
joyed a peep at the visible world. Thus it will
easily be understood that only one of the Three
Gray Women could see, while the other two were
in utter darkness; and, moreover, at the instant
when the eye was passing from hand to hand,
neither of the poor old ladies was able to see a
wink. I have heard of a great many strange
things, in my day, and have witnessed not a few ;
but none, it seems to me, that can compare with
the oddity of these Three Gray Women, all peep-:
ing through a single eye.

So thought Perseus, likewise, and was so as-
tonished that he almost fancied his companion
was joking with him, and that there were no such
old women in the world.

_ You will soon find whether I tell the Miccith or
no,” observed Quicksilver. “Hark! hush! hist!
hist! There they come, now!”

_ Perseus looked earnestly through the dusk of
the evening, and there, sure enough, at no great
distance off, he descried the Three Gray Women.
The light being so faint, he could not well make
out what sort of figures they were; only he dis-
covered that they had long gray hair; and, as they
came nearer, he saw that two of them had but the
empty socket of an eye, in the middle of their



20 - THE GORGON’S HEAD

foreheads. ° But, in the middle of the third sister's
forehead, there was a very large, bright, and pier-
cing eye, which sparkled like a great diamond in a
ring; and so penetrating did it seem to be, that
Perseus could not help thinking it must possess
the gift of seeing inthe darkest midnight just as
perfectly as at noonday. The sight of three per-
sons’ eyes was melted and collected into that sin-
gle one.

Thus the three old dames got along about as
comfortably, upon the whole, as if they could all
see at once. She who chanced to have the eye in
her forehead led the other two by the hands, peep-
ing sharply about her, all the while; insomuch
that Perseus dreaded lest she should see right
through the thick clump of bushes behind which
he and Quicksilver had hidden themselves. My
stars! it was positively terrible to be within reach
of so very sharp an eye!

But, before they reached the clump of bushes,
one of the Three Gray Women spoke.

« Sister! Sister Scarecrow!” cried she, “ you
have had the eye long enough. It is my turn
now!” ts

“ Let me keep it a. moment longer, Sister Night-
mare,” answered Scarecrow. “I thought I hada
glimpse of something behind that thick bush.”

“Well, and what of that?” retorted Night-
mare, peevishly. “Can’t I see into a thick bush
as easily as yourself? The eye is mine as well as
yours; and I know the use of it as well as you,
or may be a little better. I insist upon taking a
peep immediately!”

tra Dn us ine eh iii



THE GORGON’S HEAD 2z

But here the third sister, whose name was
Shakejoint, began to complain, and said that it
was her turn to have the eye, and that Scarecrow
and Nightmare wanted to keep it all to them-
selves. To.end the dispute, old Dame Scarecrow
took the eye out of her forehead, and held it forth
in her hand. —

“ Také it, one of you,” cried she, “and quit this
foolish quarreling. For my part, I shall be glad
of alittle thick darkness. Take it quickly, how-
ever, or I must clap it into my own head again!”

Accordingly, both Nightmare and Shakejoint -

put out their hands, groping eagerly to snatch the
eye out of the hand of Scarecrow. But, being
both alike blind, they could not easily find Where
Scarecrow’s hand was; and Scarecrow, being now
just as much in the dark as Shakejoint and Night-
mare, could not at once meet either of their hands,
in order to put the eye into it. Thus (as you will
see, with half an eye, my wise little auditors), these
good old dames had fallen into a strange perplex-
ity. For, though the eye shone and ‘glistened
like a star, as Scarecrow held it out, yet the Gray
Women caught not the least glimpse of its light,
and were all three in utter darkness, from too im-
patient a desire to see.

Quicksilver was so much tickled at beholding
Shakejoint and Nightmare both groping for: the
eye, and each finding fault with Scarecrow and
one another, that he could scarcely help laughing
aloud.

“ Now is your time!” he whispered to Perseus.
“ Quick, quick! before they can clap the eye into



22 THE GORGON’S HEAD

either of their heads. Rush out upon the old
ladies, and snatch it from Scarecrow’s hand!”

In an instant, while the Three Gray Women
were still scolding each other, Perseus leaped
from behind the clump of bushes, and made him-
. self master of the prize. The marvelous eye, as
he held it in his hand, shone very brightly, and
seemed to look up into his face with a knowing
air, and an expression as if it would have winked,
had it been provided with a pair of eyelids for
that purpose. But the Gray Women knew no-
thing of what had happened; and, each suppos-
ing that one of her sisters was in possession of
the eye, they began their quarrel anew. At last,
as Perseus did not wish to put these respectable
dames to greater inconvenience than was really
necessary, he thought it right to explain the mat-
ter,

“ My good ladies,” said he, “ pray do not be an-
gry with one another. If anybody is in fault, it
is myself; for I have the honor to hold your very
brilliant and excellent eye in my own hand!”

“You! you have our eye! And who are you?”
screamed the Three Gray Women, all in a breath;
for they were terribly frightened, of course, at
hearing a strange voice, and discovering that their
eyesight had got into the hands of they could not
guess whom. “Oh, what shall we do, sisters?
what shall we do? We are all in the dark! Give
us our é€ye! Give us our one, precious, solitary
eye! You have two of your own! Give us our
eye!”

“Tell them,” whispered Quicksilver to Perseus,







‘THE GORGON’S HEAD 23

“that they shall have back the eye as soon as they
direct you where to find the Nymphs who have
the flying slippers, the magic wallet, and the hel-
met of darkness.”

“My dear, good, admirable old ladies,” said
Perseus, addressing the Gray Women, “ there is
no occasion for putting yourselves into such a
fright. I am by no means a bad young man.
You shall have back your eye, safe and sound,
and as bright as ever, the moment you tell me
where to find the Nymphs.”

“The Nymphs! Goodness me! sisters, what
Nymphs does he mean?” screamed Scarecrow.
“There are a great many Nymphs, people say;
some that go a-hunting in the woods, and some
that live inside of trees, and some that have a
comfortable home in fountains of water. We
know nothing at all about them. We are three
unfortunate old souls, that go wandering about in
the dusk, and never had but one eye amongst us,
and that one you have stolen away. Oh, give it
back, good stranger!— whoever you are, give it
back !”

All this while the Three Gray Women were
groping with their outstretched hands, and trying
their utmost to get hold of Perseus. But he took
good care to keep out of their reach.

“My respectable dames,” said he, — for his
mother had taught him always to use the greatest
civility, —“ I hold your eye fast in my hand, and
shall keep it safely for you, until you please to tell
me where to find these Nymphs. The Nymphs,
I mean, who keep the enchanted wallet, the flying



24 THE GORGON’S HEAD

slippers, and the —what is it? —the helmet of in-
visibility.”

“ Mercy on us, sisters! what is the young man
talking about?” exclaimed Scarecrow, Night-
mare, and Shakejoint, one to another, with great
appearance of astonishment. “A pair of flying
slippers, quoth he! His heels would quickly fly
higher than his head, if he were silly enough to
put them on. And a helmet of invisibility! How
could a helmet make him invisible, unless it were
big enough for him to hide under it? And.an
enchanted wallet! What sort of a contrivance
may that be, I wonder? No, no, good stranger!
we can tell you nothing of these marvelous things.
You have two eyes of your own, and we have but
-a single one amongst us three. You can find out
such wonders better. than three blind old crea-
tures, like us.”

Perseus, hearing them talk in this way, began
really to think that the Gray Women knew no-
thing of the matter; and, as it grieved him to
have put them to so much trouble, he was just on
the point of restoring their eye and asking par-
don for his rudeness in snatching it away. But
Quicksilver caught his hand.

“Don’t let them make a fool of you!” said he.
“ These Three Gray Women are the only persons
in the world that can tell you where to find the
Nymphs; and, unless you get that information,
you will never succeed in cutting off the head of
Medusa with the snaky locks.. Keep fast hold
of the eye, and all will go well.”

As it turned out, Quicksilver was in the right.



THE GORGON’S HEAD 25

There are but few things that people prize so
much as they do their eyesight; and the Gray
Women valued their single eye as highly as if it
had been half a dozen, which was the number
they ought to have had. Finding that there was
no other way of recovering it, they at last told
Perseus what he wanted to know. No sooner
had they done so, than he immediately, and with .
the utmost respect, clapped the eye into the va-
cant socket in one of their foreheads, thanked
them for their kindness, and bade them farewell.
Before the young man was out of hearing, how-
ever, they had got into a new dispute, because he
happened to have given the eye to Scarecrow,
who had already taken her turn of it when their

trouble with Perseus commenced. a

It is greatly to be feared that the Three Gray
Women were very much in the habit of disturbing
their mutual harmony by bickerings of this sort;
which was the more pity, as they could not con-
veniently do without one another, and were evi-
dently intended to be inseparable companions.
As a general rule, I would advise all people,
whether sisters or brothers, old or young, who
chance to have but one eye amongst them, to cul-
tivate forbearance, and not all insist upon peeping
through it at once.

Quicksilver and Perseus, in the mean time, were
making the best of their way in quest of the
Nymphs. The old dames had given them such
particular directions, that they were not long in
finding them out. They proved to be very dif-
ferent persons from Nightmare, Shakejoint, and



26 THE GORGON’S HEAD

Scarecrow; for, instead of being old, they were
young and beautiful; and instead of one eye
amongst the sisterhood, each Nymph had two éx-
ceedingly bright eyes of her own, with which she
looked very kindly at Perseus. They seemed to
be acquainted with Quicksilver; and, when he
told them the adventure which Perseus had under-
taken, they made no difficulty about giving him
the valuable articles that were in their custody.
In the first place, they brought out what appeared
to be a small purse, made of deerskin and curi-
ously embroidered, and bade him be sure and keep
it safe. This was the magic wallet. The N ymphs
next produced a pair of shoes, or slippers, or san-
dals, with a nice little pair of wings at the heel of
each.
“Put them on, Perseus,” said Quicksilver.
“ You will find yourself as light-heeled as you can
desire for the remainder of our journey.”
So Perseus proceeded to put one of the slippers

on, while he laid the other on the ground by his
“side. Unexpectedly, however, this other slipper
spread its wings, fluttered up off the ground, and
would probably have flown away, if Quicksilver
had not made a leap, and luckily caught it in the
air. '

“ Be more careful,” said he, as he gave it back
to Perseus. “It would frighten the birds, up
aloft, if they should see a flying slipper amongst
them.”

When Perseus had got on both of these won-
derful slippers, he was altogether too buoyant to
tread on earth. Making a step or two, lo and









THE GORGON’S HEAD 27

behold! upward he popped into the air, high
above the heads of Quicksilver and the Nymphs,
and found it very difficult to clamber down again.
Winged slippers, and all such high-flying con-
trivances, are seldom quite easy to manage until
one grows a little accustomed to them. Quick-
silver laughed at his companion’s involuntary ac-
tivity, and told him that he must not be in so
desperate a hurry, but must wait for the invisible
helmet.

The good-natured Nymphs had the helmet, with
its dark tuft of waving plumes, all in readiness to
put upon his head. And now there happened
about as wonderful an incident as anything that
I have yet told you. The instant before the hel-
met was put on, there stood Perseus, a beautiful
young man, with golden ringlets and rosy cheeks,
the crooked sword by his side, and the brightly
polished shield upon his arm,—a figure that
seemed all made up of courage, sprightliness, and
glorious light. But when the helmet had de-
scended over his white brow, there was no longer
any Perseus to be seen! Nothing but empty air!
Even the helmet, that covered him with its invisi-
bility, had vanished !

“Where are you, Perseus? ” asked Quicksilver.

“Why, here, to be sure!” answered Perseus,
very quietly, although his voice seemed to come
out of the transparent atmosphere. “Just where
I was a moment ago. Don’t you see me?”

“ No, indeed!” answered his friend. “You are
hidden under the helmet. But, if I cannot see
you, neither can the Gorgons. Follow me, there-



28 THE GORGON’S HEAD

fore, and we will try your dexterity in using the
winged slippers.”

With these words, Quicksilver’s cap spread its
wings, as if his head were about to fly away from
his shoulders; but his whole figure rose lightly
into the air, and Perseus followed. By the time
they had ascended a few hundred feet, the young
man began to feel what a delightful thing it was
to leave the dull earth so far beneath him, and to
be able to flit about like a bird.

It was now deep night. Perseus looked up-
ward, and saw the round, bright, silvery moon,
and thought that he should desire nothing better
than to soar up thither, and spend his life there.
Then he looked downward again, and saw the
earth, with its seas and lakes, and the silver courses
of its rivers, and its snowy mountain-peaks, and
the breadth of its fields, and the dark cluster of
its woods, and its cities of white marble; and, with
the moonshine sleeping over the whole scene, it
was as beautiful as the moon or any star could be.
And, among other objects, he saw the island of
Seriphus, where his dear mother was. Some-
times he and Quicksilver approached a cloud that, —
at a distance, looked as if it were made of fleecy
silver; although, when they plunged into it, they
found themselves chilled and moistened with gray
mist. So swift was their flight, however, that, in
an instant, they emerged from the cloud into the
moonlight again. Once, a high-soaring eagle flew
right against the invisible Perseus. The bravest
sights were the meteors, that gleamed suddenly
out, as if,a bonfire had been kindled in the sky,





‘gas

THE GORGON’S HEAD 29

and made the moonshine pale for as much as a
hundred miles around them.

As the two companions flew onward, Perseus
fancied that he could hear the rustle of a garment
close by his side; and it was on the side opposite
to the one where he beheld Quicksilver, yet only
Quicksilver was visible.

“Whose garment is this,” inquired Perseus,
“that keeps rustling close beside me in the
breeze?” .

“Oh, it is my'sister’s!” answered Quicksilver.
“She is coming along with us, as I told you she
would. We could do nothing without the help
of my sister. You have no idea how wise she is.
She has such eyes, too! Why, she can see you,
at this moment, just as distinctly as if you were
not invisible; and Ill venture to say, she will be
the first to discover the Gorgons.”

By this time, in their swift voyage through the
air, they had come within sight of the great ocean,
and were soon flying over it. Far beneath them,
the waves tossed themselves tumultuously in mid-
sea, or rolled a white surf-line upon the long
beaches, or foamed against the rocky cliffs, with
a roar that was thunderous, in the lower world;
although it became a gentle murmur, like the
voice of a baby half asleep, before it reached the
ears of Perseus. Just then a voice spoke in the
air close by him. It seemed to be a woman’s
voice, and was melodious, though not exactly what
might be called sweet, but grave and mild.

“ Perseus,” said the voice, “there are the Gor-
gons.”



30 THE GORGON’S HEAD

“ Where?” exclaimed Perseus. “I cannot see
them.”

“On the shore of that island beneath you,” re-
plied the voice. “A pebble, dropped from your
hand, would strike in the midst of them.”

“TI told you she would be the first to discover
them,” said Quicksilver to Perseus. “And there
they are!”

Straight downward, two or three thousand feet
below him, Perseus perceived a small island, with
the sea breaking into white foam all around its
rocky shore, except on one side, where there was
a beach of snowy sand. He descended towards
it, and, looking earnestly at a cluster or heap of
brightness, at the foot of a precipice of black
rocks, behold, there were the terrible Gorgons!
They lay fast asleep, soothed by the thunder of
the sea; for it required a tumult that would have
deafened everybody else to lull such fierce crea-
tures into slumber. The moonlight glistened
on their steely scales, and on their golden wings,
which drooped idly over the sand. Their brazen
claws, horrible to look at, were thrust out, and
clutched the wave-beaten fragments of rock, while
the sleeping Gorgons dreamed of tearing some
poor mortal all to pieces. The snakes that served
them instead of hair seemed likewise to be asleep ;
although, now and then, one would writhe, and
lift its head, and thrust out its forked tongue,
emitting a drowsy hiss, and then let itself subside
among its sister snakes.

The Gorgons were more like an awful, gigantic
kind of insect, — immense, golden-winged beetles,’



THE GORGON’S HEAD 31

or dragon-flies, or things of that sort,—at once
ugly and beautiful, —than like anything else;
only that they were a thousand and a million
times as big. And, with all this, there was some-
thing partly human about them, too. Luckily for
Perseus, their faces were completely hidden from
him by the posture in which they lay; for, had he
but looked one instant at them, he would have
fallen heavily out of the air, an image of senseless
stone.

“ Now,” whispered Quicksilver, as he hovered
by the side of Perseus, — “now is your time to
do the deed! Be quick; for, if one of the Gorgons
should awake, you are too late!”

“Which shall I strike at?” asked Perseus,
drawing his sword and descending a little lower.
“ They all three look alike. All three have snaky
locks. Which of the three is Medusa?”

It must be understood that Medusa was the
only one of these dragon-monsters whose head
- Perseus could possibly cut off. As for the other
two, let him have the sharpest sword that ever
was forged, and he might have hacked away by
the hour together, without doing them the least
harm.

“ Be cautious,” said the calm voice which had
before spoken to him. “One of the Gorgons is
stirring in her sleep, and is just about to turn
over. That is Medusa. Do not look at her!
The sight would turn you to stone! Look at the
reflection of her face and figure in the bright mir-
ror of your shield.” ;

Perseus now understood Quicksilver’s motive



32 THE GORGON’S HEAD

for so earnestly exhorting him to polish his
shield. In its surface he could safely look at
the reflection of the Gorgon’s face. And there

it was, — that terrible countenance, — mirrored in, .

the brightness of the shield, with the moonlight
falling over it, and-displaying all its horror. The
snakes, whose venomous natures could not alto-
gether sleep, kept twisting themselves over the
forehead. It was the fiercest and most horrible
face that ever was seen or imagined, and yet with
a strange, fearful, and savage kind of beauty in it.
The eyes were closed, and the Gorgon was still in
a deep slumber ; but there was an unquiet expres-
sion disturbing her features, as if the monster was
troubled with an ugly dream. She gnashed her
white tusks, and dug into the sand with her bra-
zen claws.

The snakes, too, seemed to feel Medusa’s
dream, and to be made more restless by it. They
twined themselves into tumultuous knots, writhed
fiercely, and uplifted a hundred hissing heads,
without opening their eyes.

“ Now, now!” whispered Quicksilver, who was
growing impatient. “Make a dash at the mon-
ster!”

“ But be calm,” said the grave, melodious voice
at the young man’s side. “ Look in your shield,
as you fly downward, and take care that you do
not miss your first stroke.”

Perseus flew cautiously downward, still keep-
ing his eyes on Medusa’s face, as reflected in his
shield. The nearer he came, the more terrible
did the snaky visage and metallic body of the



“a

Y/N

u





THE GORGON’S HEAD 33

monster grow. At last, when he found himself
hovering over her within arm’s length, Perseus
uplifted his sword, while, at the same instant, each
separate snake upon the Gorgon’s head stretched
threateningly upward, and Medusa unclosed her
eyes. But she awoke too late. The sword was
sharp; the stroke fell like a lightning-flash ; and
the head of the wicked Medusa tumbled from her
body!

Agaehy done!” cried Quicksilver. “ Make
haste, and clap the head into your magic wallet.”

To the astonishment of Perseus, the small em-
broidered wallet, which he had hung about his
‘neck, and which had hitherto been no bigger than
a purse, grew all at once large enough to contain
Medusa’s head. As quick as thought, he snatched
it up, with the snakes still writhing upon it, and
thrust it in.

“Your task is done,” said the calm voice.
“Now fly; for the other Gorgons will do their
utmost to take vengeance for Medusa’s death.”

It was, indeed, necessary to take flight; for
Perseus had not done the deed so quietly but that
the clash of his sword, and the. hissing of the
snakes, and the thump of Medusa’s head as it
tumbled upon the sea-beaten sand, awoke the
other two monsters. There they sat, for an ine
stant, sleepily rubbing their eyes with their bra-
zen fingers, while all the snakes on their heads
reared themselves on end with surprise, and with
venomous malice against they knew not what.
But when the Gorgons saw the scaly carcass of
‘Medusa, headless, and her golden wings all ruf-



34 THE GORGON’S HEAD

fled, and half spread out on the sand, it was really
awful to hear what yells and screeches they set
up. And then the snakes! They sent forth a
hundred-fold hiss, with one consent, and Medusa’s
snakes answered them out of the magic wallet.

No sooner were the Gorgons broad awake than
they hurtled upward into the air, brandishing
their brass talons, gnashing their horrible tusks,
and flapping their huge wings so wildly that
some of the golden feathers were shaken out, and
floated down upon the shore. And there, perhaps,
those very feathers lie scattered, till this day. Up
rose the Gorgons, as I tell you, staring horribly
about, in hopes of turning somebody to stone.
Had Perseus looked them in the face, or had he
fallen into their clutches, his poor mother would
never have kissed her boy again! But he took
good care to turn his eyes another way; and, as
he wore the helmet of invisibility, the Gorgons
knew not in what direction to follow him; nor
did he fail to make the best use of the winged
slippers, by soaring upward a perpendicular mile
or so. At that height, when the screams of those
abominable creatures sounded faintly beneath
him, he made a straight course for the island of
Seriphus, in order to carry Medusa’s head to King
Polydectes.

I have no time to tell you of several marvelous
things that befell Perseus, on his way homeward ;
such as his killing a hideous sea-monster, just as it
was on the point of devouring a beautiful maiden ;
nor how he changed an enormous giant into a
mountain of stone, merely by showing him the



THE GORGON’S HEAD 35

head of the Gorgon. If you doubt this latter
story, you may make a voyage to Africa, some
day or other, and see the very mountain, which is
still known by the ancient giant’s name.

_ Finally, our brave Perseus arrived at the island,
where he expected to see his dear mother. But,
during his absence, the wicked king had treated
Danaé so very ill that she was compelled to make
her escape, and had taken refuge in a temple,
where some good old priests were extremely kind
to-her. These praiseworthy priests, and the kind.
hearted fisherman, who had first shown hospitality
to Danaé and little Perseus when he found them
afloat in the chest, seem to have been the only
persons on the island who cared about doing
right. All the rest of the people, as well as King
Polydectes himself, were remarkably ill-behaved,
and deserved no better destiny than that which
was now to happen.

Not finding his mother at home, Perseus went
straight to the palace, and was immediately ush-
ered into the presence of the king. Polydectes
was by no means rejoiced to see him; for he had
felt almost certain, in his own evil mind, that the
. Gorgons would have torn the poor young man to
pieces, and have eaten him up, out of the way.
However, seeing him safely returned, he put the
best face he could upon the matter and asked
Perseus how he had succeeded.

“ Have you performed your promise?” inquired
he. “ Have you brought’ me the head of Medusa
with the snaky locks? If not, young man, it will -
cost you dear; for I must havé a bridal present



36 THE GORGON’S HEAD

for the beautiful Princess Hippodamia, and there
_is nothing else that she would admire so much.”

“ Yes, please your Majesty,” answered Perseus,
in a quiet way, as if it were no very wonderful
deed for such a young man as he to perform. “I
have brought you the Gorgon’s head, snaky locks
and all!”

“Indeed! Pray let me see it,” quoth King
Polydectes. “It must be a very curious spectacle,
if all that travelers tell about it be true!”

“Your Majesty is in the right,” replied Perseus.
“It is really an object that will be pretty certain
to fix the regards of all who look at it. And, if
your Majesty think fit, I would suggest that a
holiday be proclaimed, and that all your Majesty’s
subjects be summoned to behold this wonderful
curiosity. Few of them, I imagine, have seen.a
Gorgon’s head before, and perhaps. never may
again!”

The king well knew that his subjects were an
idle set of reprobates, and very fond of sight-seeing,
as idle persons usually are. So he took the young
man’s advice, and sent out heralds and messen-
gers, in all directions, to blow the trumpet at the
street-corners, and in the market-places, and wher-
ever two roads met, and summon everybody to
court. Thither, accordingly, came a great multi-
tude of good-for-nothing vagabonds, all of whom,
out of pure love of mischief, would have been
glad if Perseus had met with some ill-hap in his
encounter with the Gorgons. If there were any
better people in the island (as I really hope there.
may have been, although the story tells nothing







THE GORGON’S HEAD 37

about any such), they stayed quietly at home, mind-
ing their business, and taking care of their little
children. Most of the inhabitants, at all events,
ran as fast as they could to the palace, and shoved,
and pushed, and elbowed one another, in their
eagerness to get near a balcony, on which Perseus
showed himself, holding the embroidered wallet
in his hand.

On a platform, within full view of the balcony,
sat the mighty King Polydectes, amid his evil
counselors, and with his flattering courtiers ina
semicircle round about him. Monarch, counsel-
ors, courtiers, and subjects, all gazed eagerly to-
wards Perseus.

“Show us the head! Show us the head!”
shouted the people; and there was a fierceness in
their cry as if they would tear Perseus to pieces,
unless he should satisfy them with what he had to
show. “Show us the head of Medusa with the
snaky locks!”

A feeling of sorrow and pity came over the
youthful Perseus.

“OQ King Polydectes,” cried he, “and ye many
people, I am very loath to show you the Gorgon’s
head!”

« Ah, the villain and coward!” yelled the peo-
ple, more fiercely than before. © He is making
game of us! He has no Gorgon’s head! Show
us the head, if you have it, or we will take your
own head for a football!”

The evil counselors whispered bad advice in
the king’s ear; the courtiers murmured, with one
consent, that Perseus had shown disrespect to



38 THE GORGON’S HEAD

their royal lord and master; and the great King
Polydectes himself waved his hand, and ordered
him, with the stern, deep voice of authority, on
his peril, to produce the head.

‘Show me the Gorgon’s head, or I will cut off
your own!”

And Perseus sighed.

“ This instant,” repeated Polydectes, “or you
die!”

“ Behold it, then!” cried Perseus, in a voice
like the blast of a trumpet.

And, suddenly holding up the head, not an
eyelid had time to wink before the wicked King
Polydectes, his evil counselors, and all his fierce
subjects were no longer anything but the mere
images of a monarch and his people. They were
all fixed, forever, in the look and attitude of that
moment! At the first glimpse of the terrible
head of Medusa, they whitened into marble!
And Perseus thrust the head back into his wallet,
and went to tell his dear mother that she need no
longer be afraid of the wicked King Polydectes.





‘ € ‘PORCH 'H]

NY



\ \ JAS not that a very fine story?” asked Lus-

tace.
“Oh, yes, yes!” cried Cowslip, clapping her
hands. “ And those funny old women, with only

one eye amongst them! I never heard of any-
thing so strange.”

“As to their one tooth, which they shifted
about,” observed Primrose, “there was nothing so
very wonderful in that. I suppose it was a false
tooth. But think of your turning Mercury into
Quicksilver, and talking about his sister! You
are too ridiculous!”

“ And was she not his sister?” asked Eustace
Bright. “If I had thought of it sooner, I would
have described her as a maiden lady, who kept a
pet owl!”

“Well, at any rate,” said Primrose, “ your story
seems to have driven away the mist.”

And, indeed, while the tale was going forward,
the vapors had been quite exhaled from the land-

39



40 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

scape. A scene was now disclosed which the
spectators might almost fancy as having been
created since they had last looked in the direction
where it lay. About half a mile distant, in ‘the
lap of the valley, now appeared a beautiful lake,
which reflected a perfect image of its own wooded
banks, and of the summits of the more distant
hills. It gleamed in glassy tranquillity, without
the trace of a winged breeze on any part of its
bosom. Beyond its farther shore was Monument
Mountain, in a recumbent position, stretching al-
most across the valley. Eustace Bright compared
it to a huge, headless sphinx, wrapped in a Persian
shawl; and, indeed, so rich and diversified was the
autumnal foliage of its woods, that the simile of
the shawl was by no means too high-colored for
the reality. In the lower ground, between Tan-
glewood and the lake, the clumps of trees and
borders of woodland were chiefly golden-leaved or
dusky brown, as having suffered more from frost
than the foliage on the hillsides,
Over all this scene there was a genial sunshine,
intermingled with a slight haze, which made it

unspeakably soft and tender. Oh, what a day of.

Indian summer was it going to be! The children
snatched their baskets, and set forth, with hop,
skip, and jump, and all sorts of frisks and gam-
bols ; while Cousin Eustace proved his fitness to
preside over the party, by outdoing all their antics,
and performing several new capers, which none
of them could ever hope to imitate. Behind went
a good old dog, whose name was Ben. He was
one of the most respectable and kind-hearted of



TANGLEWOOD PORCH 41

quadrupeds, and probably felt it to be his duty not
to trust the children away from their parents with-
out some better guardian than this feather-brained
Eustace Bright.















\ INTRODUCTORY TO
€ THE GOLDEN TOUCH

} T noon, our juvenile party ~
assembled in a dell, through
| the depths of which ran a
ff little brook. The dell was
MC lt =} narrow, and its steep sides,
from the margin of the stream upward, were
thickly set with trees, chiefly walnuts and chest-
nuts, among which grew a few oaks and maples.
In the summer time, the shade of so many clus-
tering branches, meeting and intermingling across
the rivulet, was deep enough to produce a noon-
tide twilight. Hence came the name of Shadow
Brook. But now, ever since autumn had crept
into this secluded place, all the dark verdure was
changed to gold, so that it really kindled up the .
dell, instead of shading it. The bright yellow
leaves, even had it been a cloudy day, would
have seemed to keep the sunlight among them ;
and enough of them had fallen to strew all the
bed and margin of the brook with sunlight, too.
Thus the shady nook, where summer had cooled

42













\ INTRODUCTORY TO
€ THE GOLDEN TOUCH

} T noon, our juvenile party ~
assembled in a dell, through
| the depths of which ran a
ff little brook. The dell was
MC lt =} narrow, and its steep sides,
from the margin of the stream upward, were
thickly set with trees, chiefly walnuts and chest-
nuts, among which grew a few oaks and maples.
In the summer time, the shade of so many clus-
tering branches, meeting and intermingling across
the rivulet, was deep enough to produce a noon-
tide twilight. Hence came the name of Shadow
Brook. But now, ever since autumn had crept
into this secluded place, all the dark verdure was
changed to gold, so that it really kindled up the .
dell, instead of shading it. The bright yellow
leaves, even had it been a cloudy day, would
have seemed to keep the sunlight among them ;
and enough of them had fallen to strew all the
bed and margin of the brook with sunlight, too.
Thus the shady nook, where summer had cooled

42



SHADOW BROOK _ 43

herself, was now the sunniest spot anywhere to -
be found. :

The little brook ran along over its pathway of
gold, here pausing to form a pool, in which min-
nows were darting to and fro; and then it hurried
onward at a swifter pace, as if in haste to reach
the lake; and, forgetting to look whither it went,
it tumbled over the root of a tree, which stretched
quite across its current. You would have laughed
_to hear how noisily it babbled about this accident.
And even after it had run onward, the brook still
kept talking to itself, as if it were in a maze. It
was wonder-smitten, I suppose, at finding its dark
dell so illuminated, and at hearing the prattle and
merriment of so many children. So it stole away
as quickly as it could, and hid itself in the lake.

In the dell of Shadow Brook, Eustace Bright
and his little friends had eaten their dinner. They
had brought plenty of good things from Tangle-
wood, in their baskets, and had spread them out
on the stumps of trees and on mossy trunks, and
had feasted merrily, and made a very nice dinner
indeed. After it was over, nobody felt like stir-

ring.
“We will rest ourselves here,” said several of
the children, “while Cousin Eustace tells us an-
other of his pretty stories.”

Cousin Eustace had a good right to be tired, as
well as the children, for he had> performed great
feats on that memorable forenoon. Dandelion,
Clover, Cowslip, and Buttercup were almost per-
suaded that he had winged slippers, like those
which the Nymphs gave Perseus; so often had



44 SHADOW BROOK

the student shown himself at the tiptop of a nut-
tree, when only a moment before he had been
standing on the ground. And then, what showers
of walnuts had he sent rattling down upon their
heads, for their busy little hands to gather into
the baskets! In short, he had been as active as a
squirrel or a monkey, and now, flinging himself
down on the yellow leaves, seemed inclined to
take a little rest.

But children have no mercy nor consideration
for anybody’s weariness; and if you had but a
single breath left, they would ask you to spend it
in telling them a story.

“Cousin Eustace,” said Cowslip, “that was a
very nice story of the Gorgon’s Head. Do you
think you could tell us another as good? ”

“Yes, child,” said Eustace, pulling the brim of
his cap over his eyes, as if preparing for a nap.
“Ican tell you a dozen, as good or better, if I
choose.”

“O Primrose and Periwinkle, do you hear what
he says?” cried Cowslip, dancing with delight.
“Cousin Eustace is going to tell us a dozen bet-
ter stories than that about the Gorgon’s Head!”

“I did not promise you even one, you fool-
ish little Cowslip!” said Eustace, half pettishly.
“ However, I suppose you must have it. This is
the consequence of having earned a reputation!
I wish I were a great deal duller than I am, or

_ that I had never shown half the bright qualities ©

with which nature has endowed me; and then I
might have my nap out, in peace and comfort!”
But Cousin Eustace, as I think I have hinted



SHADOW BROOK 45

before, was as fond of telling his stories as the
children of hearing them. His mind was in a
free and happy state, and took delight in its own
activity, and scarcely required any external im-
pulse to set it at work.

How different is this spontaneous play of the
intellect from the trained diligence of maturer
years, when toil has perhaps grown easy by long
habit, and the day’s work may have become essen-
tial to the day’s comfort, although the rest of the
matter has bubbled away! This remark, however,
is not meant for the children to hear.

Without further solicitation, Eustace Bright
proceeded to tell the following really splendid
story. It had come into his mind as he lay look-
ing upward into the depths of a tree, and. observ-
ing how the touch of Autumn had’ transmuted
every one of its green leaves into what resembled
the purest gold. And this change, which we have
all of us witnessed, is as wonderful as anything
that Eustace told about in the story of Midas.






ETO)



TCS)





@)








Viet

Fd





CE upon a time, there lived
a very rich man, and a king
besides, whose name was M1i-
dass)"and. he Jhad.a. little
daughter, whom nobody but
myself ever heard of, and
whose name I either never
knew, or have entirely forgotten. So, because I
love odd names for little girls, I choose to call
her Marygold.

This King Midas was fonder of gold than of
anything else in the world. He valued his royal
crown chiefly because it was composed of that
precious metal. If he loved anything better, or
half so well, it was the one little maiden who
played so merrily around her father’s footstool.
But the more Midas loved his daughter, the more
did he desire and seek for wealth. He thought,
foolish man! that the best thing he could possi-
bly do for this dear child would be to bequeath
her the immensest pile of yellow, glistening coin,
that had ever been heaped together since the world
was made. Thus, he oe all his thoughts and

4

LQ)



THE GOLDEN TOUCH _ 47.

all his time to this one purpose. If ever he hap-
pened to gaze for an instant at the gold-tinted
clouds of sunset, he wished that they were real
gold, and that they could be squeezed safely into
his strong box. When little Marygold ran to
meet him, with a bunch of buttercups and dande-
lions, he used to say, “ Poh, poh, child! If these
flowers were as golden as they look, they would
be worth the plucking!”

And yet, in his earlier days, before he was so _
entirely possessed of this insane desire for riches,
King Midas had shown a great taste for flowers.
He had planted a garden, in which grew the big-
gest and beautifullest and sweetest roses that any
mortal ever saw or smelt. These roses were still
growing in the garden, as large, as lovely, and as
fragrant,as when Midas used to pass whole hours
in gazing at them, and inhaling their perfume.
But now, if he looked at them at all, it was only
to calculate how much the garden would be worth
if each of the innumerable rose-petals were a thin
plate of gold. And though he once was fond of
music (in spite of an idle story about his ears,
which were said to resemble those of an ass), the
only music for poor Midas, now, was the chink of
one coin against another.

At length (as people always grow more and
more foolish, unless they take care to grow wiser
and wiser), Midas had got to be so exceedingly
unreasonable, that he could scarcely bear to see
or touch any object that was not gold. He made
it his custom, therefore, to pass a large portion of
every day in a dark and dreary apartment, under



48 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

ground, at the basement of his palace. It was
here that he kept his wealth. To this dismal hole
— for it was little better than a dungeon — Midas
betook himself, whenever he wanted to be partic-
ularly happy. Here, after carefully locking the
door, he would take a bag of gold coin, or a gold
cup as big as a washbowl, or a heavy golden bar,
or a peck-measure of gold-dust, and bring them
from the obscure corners of the room into the one
bright and narrow sunbeam that fell from the
dungeon-like window. He valued the sunbeam
for no other reason but that his treasure would
not shine without its help. And then would he
reckon over the coins in the bag; toss up the bar,
~ and catch it as it came down; sift the gold-dust
through his fingers; look at the funny image of
his own face, as reflected in the burnished circum-
ference of the cup; and whisper to himself, “O
Midas, rich King Midas, what a happy man art
thou!” But it was laughable to see how the
image of his face kept grinning at him, out of the
polished surface of the cup. It seemed to be
aware of his foolish behavior, and to have anaughty
inclination to make fun of him.

Midas called himself a happy man, but felt that
he was not yet quite so happy as he might be.
The very tiptop of enjoyment would never be
reached, unless the whole world were to become
his treasure-room, and be filled with yellow metal
which should be all his own.

Now, I need hardly remind such wise little
people as you are, that in the old, old times, when
King Midas was alive, a great many things came



THE GOLDEN TOUCH 49

to pass, which we should consider wonderful if
they were to happen in our own day and country.
And, on the other hand, a great many things take
place nowadays, which seem not only wonderful
to us, but at which the people of old times would
have stared their eyes out. On the whole, I re- .
gard our own times.as the strangest of the two;
but, however that may be, I must go on with my
story.

Midas was enjoying himself in his treasure-".
room, one day, as usual, when he perceived a
shadow fall over the heaps of gold; and, looking
suddenly up, what should he behold but the figure
of a stranger, standing in the bright and narrow
sunbeam! It was a young man, with a cheerful
and ruddy face. Whether it was that the imagi-
nation of King Midas threw a yellow tinge over
everything, or whatever the cause might be, he
could not help fancying that the smile with which
the stranger regarded him had a kind of golden
radiance in it. Certainly, although his figure in-
tercepted the sunshine, there was now a brighter
gleam upon all the piled-up treasures than before.
Even the remotest corners had their share of it,
and were lighted up, when the stranger smiled, as
with tips of flame and sparkles of fire.

As Midas knew that he had carefully turned
the key in the lock, and that no mortal strength
could possibly break into his treasure-room, he, of
course, concluded that his visitor must be some-
thing more than mortal. It is no matter about
telling you who he was. In those days, when the
earth was comparatively a new affair, it was sup-



50 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

posed to be often the resort of beings endowed
with supernatural power, and who used to interest
themselves in the joys and sorrows of men, women,
and children, half playfully and half seriously.
Midas had met such beings before now, and was
not sorry to meet one of them again. The stran-
ger’s aspect, indeed, was so good-humored and
kindly, if not beneficent, that it would have been
unreasonable to suspect him of intending any mis-
chief. It was far more probable that he came to
do Midas afavor. And what could that favor be,
unless to multiply his heaps of treasure?

‘The stranger gazed about the room; and when
his lustrous smile had glistened upon all the golden
objects that were there, he turned again to Midas.

“Vou are a wealthy man, friend Midas!” he
observed. “I doubt whether any other four walls,
on earth, contain so much gold as you have con-
« trived to pile up in this room.”

* “T have done pretty well, — pretty well,” an-
swered Midas, in a discontented tone. “ But,
after all, it is but a trifle, when you consider that
it has taken me my whole life to get it together.
If one could live a thousand years, he might have
time to grow rich!” .

“ What!” exclaimed the stranger. “ Then you
are not satisfied? ”

Midas shook his head.

“ And pray what would satisfy you?” asked the
stranger. “ Merely for the curiosity of the thing,
I should be glad to know.”

Midas paused and meditated. He felt a pre-
sentiment that this stranger, with such a golden







THE GOLDEN TOUCH 52

lustre in his good-humored smile, had come hither
with both the power and the purpose of gratifying
his utmost wishes. Now, therefore, was the for-
tunate moment, when he had but to speak, and
obtain whatever possible, or seemingly impossible
thing, it might come into his head to ask. So he
thought, and thought, and thought, and heaped
up one golden mountain upon another, in his
imagination, without being able to imagine them
big enough. At last, a bright idea occurred to
King Midas. It seemed really as bright as the
glistening metal which he loved so much.

Raising his head, he looked the lustrous stran-
ger in the face.

“ Well, Midas,” observed his visitor, “I see that
you have at length hit upon something that will
satisfy you. Tell me your wish.”

“It is only this,” replied Midas. “I am weary
of collecting my treasures with so much trouble,
and beholding the heap so diminutive, after I have
done my best. I wish everything that I touch to
be changed to gold!”

The stranger’s smile grew so very broad, that it
seemed to fill the room like an outburst of the
sun, gleaming into a shadowy dell, where the yel-
low autumnal leaves —for §0 looked the lumps
ris particles of gold — lie strewn in the glow of
ight.

“The Golden Touch!” exclaimed he. “You
certainly deserve credit, friend Midas, for striking
out so brilliant a conception. But are you quite
sure that this will satisfy you?”

“ How could it fail?” said Midas.



52 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

“ And will you never regret the possession of
it?”

“ What could induce me?” asked Midas. “I
ask nothing else, to render me perfectly happy.”

“ Be it as you wish, then,” replied the stranger,
waving his hand in token of farewell. “ To-mor-
row, at sunrise, you will find yourself gifted with
the Golden Touch.”

The figure of the stranger then became exceed-
ingly bright, and Midas involuntarily closed his
eyes. On opening them again, he beheld only
one yellow sunbeam in the room, and, all around
him, the glistening of the precious metal which he
had spent his life in hoarding up.

Whether Midas slept as usual that night, the
story does not say. Asleep or awake, however,
his mind was probably in the state of a child’s, to
whom a beautiful new plaything has been prom-
ised in the morning. At any rate, day had hardly
peeped over the hills, when King Midas was broad
awake, and, stretching his arms out of bed, began
to touch the objects that were within reach. He
was anxious to prove whether the Golden Touch
had really come, according to the stranger’s prom-
ise. So he laid his finger on a chair by the bed-
side, and on various other things, but was griev-
ously disappointed to perceive that they remained
of exactly the same substance as before. Indeed,
he felt very much afraid that he had only dreamed
about the lustrous stranger, or else that the latter
had been making game of him. And what a mis-
erable affair would it be, if, after all his hopes,
Midas must content himself with what little gold



THE GOLDEN TOUCH 53

he could scrape together by ordinary means, in-
stead of creating it by a touch!

All this while, it was only the gray of the morn-
ing, with but a streak of brightness along the
edge of the sky, where Midas could not see it.
He lay in a very disconsolate mood, regretting
the downfall of his hopes, and kept growing sad-
der and sadder, until the earliest sunbeam shone
through the window, and gilded the ceiling over
his head. It seemed to Midas that this bright
yellow sunbeam was reflected in rather a singular
way on the white covering of the bed. Looking
more closely, what was his astonishment and de-
light, when he found that this linen fabric had
been transmuted to what seemed a woven texture
of the purest and brightest gold! The Golden
Touch had come to him with the first sunbeam!

Midas started up, in a kind of joyful frenzy, and

ran about the room, grasping at everything that -

happened to be in his way. He seized one of the.
bed-posts, and it became immediately a fluted .
golden pillar. He pulled aside a window-curtain,
in order to admit a clear spectacle of the wonders
which he was performing; and the tassel grew
heavy in his hand, —a mass of gold. He took up
a book from the table. At his first touch, it as-
sumed the appearance of such a splendidly bound
and gilt-edged volume as one often meets with,
nowadays; but, on running his fingers through
the leaves, behold! it was a bundle of thin golden
plates, in which all the wisdom of the book had
grown illegible. He hurriedly put on his clothes,
and was enraptured to see himself in a magnifi-



54 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

cent suit of gold cloth, which retained its flexi-
bility and softness, although it burdened him a
little with its weight. He drew out his handker-
chief, which little Marygold had hemmed for him.
That was likewise gold, with the dear child's neat
and pretty stitches running all along the border,
in gold thread !

Somehow or other, this last transformation did
not quite please King Midas. He would rather
that his little daughter's handiwork should have
remained just the same as when she climbed’ his
knee and put it into his hand. .

But it was not worth while to vex himself about
a trifle. Midas now took his spectacles from his
pocket, and put them on his nose, in order that
he might see more distinctly what he was about.
In those days, spectacles for common people had
not been invented, but were already worn by kings ;
else, how could Midas have had any? To his
great perplexity, however, excellent as the glasses
were, he discovered that he could not possibly see
through them. But this was the most natural
thing in the world; for, on taking them off, the
transparent crystal turned out to be plates of yel-
low metal, and, of course, were worthless as spec-
tacles, though valuable as gold. It struck Midas
~ as rather inconvenient that, with all his wealth, he
could never again be rich enough to own a pair
of serviceable spectacles.

“It is no great matter, nevertheless,” said he to
himself, very philosophically. “We cannot expect
any great good, without its being accompanied
with some small inconvenience. The Golden







THE GOLDEN TOUCH gs

Touch is worth the sacrifice of a pair of specta-
cles, at least, if not of one’s very eyesight. My
own eyes will serve for ordinary purposes, and little
Marygold will soon be old enough to read to me.”

Wise King Midas was so exalted by his good
fortune, that the palace seemed not sufficiently
spacious to contain him. He ‘therefore went
downstairs, and smiled, on observing that the bal-
ustrade of the staircase became a bar of burnished
gold, as his hand passed over it, in his descent.
He lifted the door-latch (it was brass only a mo-
ment ago, but golden when his fingers quitted it),
and emerged into the garden. Here, as it hap-
pened, he found a great number of beautiful roses
in full bloom, and others in all the stages of lovely
bud and blossom. Very delicious was their fra-
grance in the morning breeze. Their delicate
blush was one of the fairest sights in the world;
so gentle, so modest, and so full of sweet tranquil-
lity, did these roses seem to be. j

But Midas knew a way to make them far more
precious, according to his way of thinking, than
roses had ever been before. So he took great
pains in going from bush to bush, and exercised
his magic touch most indefatigably; until every
individual flower and bud, and even the worms at
the heart of some of them, were changed to gold.
By the time this good work was completed, King
Midas was summoned to breakfast; and as the
morning air had given him an excellent appetite,
he made haste back to the palace.

What was usually a king’s breakfast in the days
of Midas, I really do not know, and cannot stop



56 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

now to investigate. To the best of my belief, how-
ever, on this particular morning, the breakfast
consisted of hot cakes, some nice little brook
trout, roasted potatoes, fresh boiled eggs, and
coffee, for King Midas himself, and a bowl of
bread and milk for his daughter Marygold. At
all events, this is a breakfast fit to set before a
king; and, whether he had it or not, King Midas
could not have had a better.

Little Marygold had not yet made her appear-
ance. Her father ordered her to be called, and,
seating himself at table, awaited the child’s com-
ing, in order to begin his own breakfast. To do
Midas justice, he really loved his daughter, and
loved her so much the more this morning, on ac-
count of the good fortune which had befallen
him. It was not a great while before he heard
her coming along the passageway crying bitterly.
This circumstance surprised him, because Mary-
gold was one of the cheerfullest little people whom
you would see in a summer’s day, and hardly shed
a thimbleful of tears in a twelvemonth. When
Midas heard her sobs, he determined to put little
Marygold into better spirits, by an agreeable sur-
prise; so, leaning across the table, he touched his
daughter’s bowl (which was a China one, with
pretty figures all around it), and transmuted it to
gleaming gold.

Meanwhile, Marygold slowly and disconsolately
opened the door, and showed herself with her
apron at her eyes, still sobbing as if her heart
would break.

“How now, my little lady!” cried Midas.





THE GOLDEN TOUCH 57

“Pray what is the matter with you, this bright
morning? ”

Marygold, without taking the apron from her
eyes, held out her hand, in which was one of the
roses which Midas had so recently transmuted.

“Beautiful!” exclaimed her father. “ And
what is there in this magnificent golden rose to
make you cry?”

“ Ah, dear father!” answered the child, as well
as her sobs would let her; “it is not beautiful, but
the ugliest flower that ever grew! As soon as I
was dressed I ran into the garden to gather some
roses for you; because I know you like them,
and like them the better when gathered by your
little daughter. But, oh dear, dear me! What
do you think has happened? Such a misfortune!
All the beautiful roses, that smelled so sweetly
and had so many lovely blushes, are blighted and
spoilt! They are grown quite yellow, as you see
this one, and have no longer any fragrance!
What can have been the matter with them?”

“Poh, my dear little girl,—pray don’t cry
about it!” said Midas, who was ashamed to con-
fess that he himself had wrought the change
which so greatly afflicted her. “Sit down and
eat your bread and milk! ‘You will find it easy
enough to exchange a golden rose like that
(which will last hundreds of years) for an ordinary
one which would wither in a day.”

“I don’t care for such roses as this!” cried
Marygold, tossing it contemptuously away. “It
has = smell, and the hard petals prick my
nose!



58 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

The child now sat down to table, but was so

occupied with her grief for the blighted roses that
she did not even notice the wonderful transmuta-
tion of her China bowl. Perhaps this was all the
better; for Marygold was accustomed to take
pleasure in looking at the queer figures, and
‘strange trees and houses, that were painted on
the circumference of the bowl; and these orna-
ments were now entirely lost in the yellow hue of
the metal.

Midas, meanwhile, had poured out a cup of
coffee, and, as a matter of course, the coffee-pot,
whatever metal it may have been when he took
it up, was gold when he set it down. He thought
to himself, that it was rather an extravagant style
of splendor, in a king of his simple habits, to
breakfast off a service of gold, and began to be
puzzled with the difficulty of keeping his treasures
safe. The cupboard and the kitchen would no
longer be a secure place of deposit for articles so
valuable as golden bowls and coffee-pots.

Amid these thoughts, he lifted a spoonful of
coffee to his lips, and, sipping it, was astonished
to perceive that, the instant his lips touched the
liquid, it became molten gold, and, the next mo-
ment, hardened into a lump!

“Ha!” exclaimed Midas, rather aghast.

“What is the matter, father?” asked little
Marygold, gazing at him, with the tears still
standing in her eyes. oo

“Nothing, child, nothing!” said Midas. “Eat
your milk, before it gets quite cold.”

He took one of the nice little trouts on his







THE GOLDEN TOUCH 59

plate, and, by way of experiment, touched its tail
with his finger. To his horror, it was immediately
transmuted from an admirably fried brook-trout
into a gold-fish, though not one of those gold-
fishes which people often keep in glass globes, as
ornaments for the parlor. No; but it was really
a metallic fish, and looked as if it had been very
cunningly made by the nicest goldsmith in the
world. Its little bones were now golden wires;
its fins and tail were thin plates of gold; and there
were the marks of the fork'in it, and all the deli-
cate, frothy appearance of a nicely fried fish, ex-
actly imitated in metal. A very pretty piece of
work, as you may suppose; only King Midas,
just at that moment, would much rather have had
areal trout in his dish than this elaborate and
valuable imitation of one.

“ T don’t quite see,” thought he to himself, “ how
I am to get any breakfast.”

He took one of the smoking-hot cakes, and had
scarcely broken it, when, to his cruel mortifica-
tion, though, a moment before, it had been of the
whitest wheat, it assumed the yellow hue of Indian
meal. To say the truth, if it had really been a hot
Indian cake, Midas would have prized it a good
deal more than he now did, when its solidity and
increased weight made him too bitterly sensible
that it was gold. Almost in despair, he helped
himself to a boiled egg, which immediately under-
went a change similar to those of the trout and
the cake. The egg, indeed, might have been
mistaken for one of those which the famous
oose, in the story-book, was in the habit of lay-



60 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

ing; but King Midas was the only goose that had
anything to do with the matter.

“ Well, this is a quandary!” thought he, lean-
ing back in his chair, and looking quite enviously
at little Marygold, who was now eating her bread
and milk with great satisfaction. “Such a costly
breakfast before me, and nothing that can be
eaten |”

Hoping that, by dint of great dispatch, he
might avoid what he now felt to be a considerable
inconvenience, King Midas next snatched a hot
potato, and attempted to cram it into his mouth,
and swallow it ina hurry. But the Golden Touch
was too nimble for him. He found his mouth
full, not of mealy potato, but of solid metal,
which so burnt his tongue that he roared aloud,
and, jumping up from the table, began to dance
and stamp about the room, both with pain and
affright. Ls

«Father, dear father!” cried little Marygold,
who was avery affectionate child, “pray what is
the matter? Have you burnt your mouth?”

“ Ah, dear child,” groaned Midas, dolefully, “ I
don’t know what is to become of your poor fa-
ther!”

And, truly, my dear little folks, did you ever
hear of such a pitiable case in all your lives?
Here was literally the richest breakfast that could
be set before a king, and its very richness made
it absolutely good for nothing. The poorest la-
borer, sitting down to his crust of bread and cup
of water, was far better off than King Midas,
whose delicate food was really worth its weight in





THE GOLDEN TOUCH 6x

gold. And what was to be done? Already, at
breakfast, Midas was excessively hungry. Would
he be less so by dinner time? And how rav-
enous would be his appetite for supper, which
must undoubtedly consist of the same sort of in-
digestible dishes as those now before him! How
many days, think you, would he survive a con-
tinuance of this rich fare?

These reflections so troubled wise King Midas,
that he began to doubt whether,. after all, riches
are the one desirable thing in the world, or even
the most desirable. But this was only a passing
thought. So fascinated was Midas with the glit-
ter of the yellow metal, that he would still have
refused to give up the Golden Touch for so pal-
try a consideration as a breakfast. Just imagine
what a price for one meal’s victuals! It would
have been the same as paying millions and mil-
lions of money (and as many millions more as
would take forever to reckon up) for some fried
trout, an egg,a potato, a hot cake, and a cup of
coffee !

“ It would be quite too dear,” thought Midas.

Nevertheless, so great was his hunger, and the
perplexity of his situation, that he again groaned
aloud, and very grievously too. Our pretty Mary-
gold could endure it no longer. She sat, a mo-
ment, gazing at her father, and trying, with all the
might of her little wits, to find out what was the
matter with him. Then, with a sweet and sorrow-
ful impulse to comfort him, she started from her
chair, and, running to Midas, threw her arms af-
fectionately about his knees. He bent down and



60:1 - THE GOLDEN TOUCH

kissed her. He felt that his little daughter’s love
was worth a thousand times more than he had
gained by the Golden Touch.

“ My precious, precious Marygold!” cried he.

But Marygold made no answer.

Alas, what had he done? How fatal was the
gift which the stranger bestowed! The moment
the lips of Midas touched Marygold’s forehead,
a change had taken place. Her sweet, rosy face,
so full of affection as it had been, assumed a glit-
tering yellow color, with yellow tear-drops con-
gealing on her cheeks. Her beautiful brown
ringlets took the same tint. Her soft and tender
little form grew hard and inflexible within her
father’s encircling arms. Oh, terrible misfortune !
The victim of his insatiable desire for wealth, lit-
tle Marygold was a human child no longer, but a
golden statue!

Yes, there she was, with the questioning look
of love, grief, and pity, hardened into her face.
It was the prettiest and most woeful sight that
ever mortal saw. All the features and tokens of
Marygold were there; even the beloved little
dimple remained in her golden chin. But the
more perfect was the resemblance, the greater was
the father’s agony at beholding this golden image,
which was all that was left him of a daughter. It
had been a favorite phrase of Midas, whenever he
felt particularly fond of the child, to say that she
was worth her weight in gold. And now the
phrase had become literally true. And now, at
last, when it was too late, he felt how infinitely a
warm and tender heart, that loved him, exceeded







THE GOLDEN TOUCH 63

in value all the wealth that could be piled up be-
twixt the earth and sky!

It would be too sad a story, if I were to tell you
how Midas, in the fullness of all his gratified de-
sires, began to wring his hands and bemoan him-
self; and how he could neither bear to look at
Marygold, nor yet to look away from her. Except
when his eyes were fixed on the image, he could
not possibly believe that she was changed to gold.
But, stealing another glance, there was the precious
little figure, with a yellow tear-drop on its yellow
cheek, and a look so piteous and tender, that it
seemed as if that very expression must needs
soften the gold, and make it flesh again. This,
however, could not be. So Midas had only to
wring his hands, and to wish that he were the
poorest man in the wide world, if the loss of all
‘his wealth might bring back the faintest rose-color
to his dear child’s face.

While he was in this tumult of despair, he
suddenly beheld a stranger standing near the
door. Midas bent down his head, without speak-
ing; for he recognized the same figure which had
appeared to him, the day before, in the treasure-
room, and had bestowed on him this disastrous
faculty of the Golden Touch. The stranger’s
countenance still wore a smile, which seemed
to shed a yellow lustre all about the room, and
gleamed on little Marygold’s image, and on the
other objects that had been transmuted by the
touch of Midas.

“Well, friend Midas,” said the stranger, “ pray
how do you succeed with the Golden Touch?”



64 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

Midas shook his head.

_ “Tam very miserable,” said he.

“Very miserable, indeed!” exclaimed the stran-
ger. “And how happens that? Have I not
faithfully kept my promise with you? Have you
not everything that your heart desired?”

“Gold is not everything,’ answered Midas.
“And I have lost all that my heart really cared
for.”

“Ah! So you have made a discovery, since
yesterday ?” observed the stranger. “ Let us see,
‘then. Which of these two things do you think
is really worth the most, — the gift of the Golden
Touch, or one cup of clear cold water?” :

“O blessed water!” exclaimed Midas. “ It will
never moisten my parched throat again!”

“ The Golden Touch,” continued the stranger,
“or a crust of bread?”

“ A piece of bread,” answered Midas, “is worth
all the gold on earth!”

“ The Golden Touch,” asked the stranger, “or
your own little Marygold, warm, soft, and loving
as she was an hour ago?”

“Oh, my child, my dear child!” cried poor
Midas, wringing his hands. “I would not have
given that one small dimple in her chin for the
power of changing this whole big earth into a
solid lump of gold!”

“You are wiser than you were, King Midas!”
said the stranger, looking seriously at him.
“ Your own heart, I perceive, has not been entirely
changed from flesh to gold. Were it so, your
case would indeed be desperate. But you appear



THE GOLDEN TOUCH 65

to be still capable of understanding that the com-
monest things, such as lie within everybody’s
grasp, are more valuable than the riches which so
many mortals sigh and struggle after. Tell me,
now, do you sincerely desire to rid yourself of this
Golden Touch?”

“It is hateful to me!” replied Midas.

A fly settled on his nose, but immediately fell .
to the floor; for it, too, had become gold. Midas
shuddered.

“ Go, then,” said the stranger, “and plunge into
the river that glides past the bottom of your gar-
den. Take likewise a vase of the same water, and
sprinkle it over any object that you may desire to
change back again from gold into its former sub-
stance. If you do this in earnestness and sin-
cerity, it may possibly repair the mischief which
your avarice has occasioned.”

King Midas bowed low; and when he lifted his
head, the lustrous stranger had vanished.

You will easily believe that Midas lost no time
in snatching up a great earthen pitcher (but, alas
me! it was no longer earthen after he touched
it), and hastening to the river-side. As he scam-
pered along, and. forced his way through the
shrubbery, it was positively marvelous to see how
the foliage turned yellow behind him, as if the
autumn had been there, and nowhere else. On
reaching the river’s brink, he plunged headlong
in, without waiting so much as to pull off his
shoes.

“Poof! poof! poof!” snorted King Midas, as
his head emerged out of the water. “Well; this



66 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

is really a refreshing bath, and I think it must
have quite washed away the Golden Touch. And
now for filling my pitcher!”

As he dipped the pitcher into the water, it glad-
dened his very heart to see it change from gold
into the same good, honest earthen vessel which
it had been before he touched it. He was con-
scious, also, of a change within himself. A cold,
hard, and heavy weight seemed to have gone out
of his bosom. No doubt, his heart had been grad-
ually losing its human substance, and transmuting
itself into insensible metal, but had now softened
back again into flesh. Perceiving a violet, that
grew on the bank of the river, Midas touched it
with his finger, and was overjoyed to find that the
delicate flower retained its purple hue, instead of
undergoing a yellow blight. The curse of the
Golden Touch had, therefore, really been removed
from him. .

King Midas hastened back to the palace; and,
I suppose, the servants knew not what to make
of it when they saw their royal master so carefully
bringing home an earthen pitcher of water. But
that water, which was to undo all the mischief that
his folly had wrought, was more precious to Midas
than an ocean of molten gold could have been.
The first thing he did, as you need hardly be told,
was to sprinkle it by handfuls over the golden
figure of little Marygold.

No sooner did it fall on her than you would
have laughed to see how the rosy color came back
to the dear child’s cheek! and how she began to
sneeze and sputter!—and how astonished she







THE GOLDEN TOUCH 67

was to find herself dripping wet, and her father
still throwing more water over her !

“ Pray do not, dear father!” cried she. “See
how you have wet my nice frock, which I put on
only this morning!”

For Marygold did not know that she had been
a little golden statue; nor could she remember
anything that had happened since the moment
when she ran with outstretched arms to comfort
poor King Midas.

Her father did not think it necessary to tell
his beloved child how very foolish he had been,
but contented himself with showing how much
wiser he had now grown. For this purpose, he led
little Marygold into the garden, where he sprin-
kled all the remainder of the water over the rose-
bushes, and with such good effect that above five
thousand roses recovered their beautiful bloom.
There were two circumstances, however, which, as
long as he lived, used to put King Midas in mind
of the Golden Touch. One was, that the sands of
the river sparkled like gold; the other, that little
Marygold’s hair had now a golden tinge, which he
had never observed in it before she had been
transmuted by the effect of his kiss. This change
of hue was really an improvement, and made
Marygold’s hair richer than in her babyhood.

When King Midas had grown quite an old
man, and used to trot Marygold’s children on his
knee, he was fond of telling them this marvelous
story, pretty much as I have now told it to you.
And then would he stroke their glossy ringlets,
and tell them that their hair, likewise, had a rich



68 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

shade of gold, which they had inherited from their
mother.

“And to tell you the truth, my precious little
folks,” quoth King Midas, diligently trotting the
children all the while, “ever since that morning,
I have hated the very sight of all other gold, save
this!”








ELL, children,” inquired Eus-
tace, who was very fond of
eliciting a definite opinion.
from his auditors, “did you
ever, in all your lives, listen
to a better story than this of
‘The Golden Touch’?”
“Why, as to the story of King Midas,” said
saucy Primrose, “it was a famous one thousands
of years before Mr. Eustace Bright came into the
world, and will continue to be so long after he
quits it. But some people have what we may call
‘The Leaden Touch,’ and make everything dull
and heavy that they lay their fingers upon.”
“You are a smart child, Primrose, to be not
yet in your teens,” said Eustace, taken rather
aback by the piquancy of her criticism. “But
you well know, in your naughty little heart, that
I have burnished the old gold of Midas all over
anew, and have made it shine as it never shone
before. And then that figure of Marygold! Do
you perceive no nice workmanship in that? And
how finely I have brought out and deepened the
69



70 SHADOW BROOK

moral! What say you, Sweet Fern, Dandelion,
Clover, Periwinkle? Would any of you, after
hearing this story, be so foolish as to desire the
faculty of changing things to gold?”

“T should like,” said Periwinkle, a girl of ten,
“to have the power of turning everything to gold
with my right forefinger; but, with my left fore-
finger, I should want the power of changing it
back again, if the first change did not please me.
And I know what I would do, this very after-
noon!”

“ Pray tell me,” said Eustace.

“Why,” answered Periwinkle, “I would touch
every one of these golden leaves on the trees with
my left forefinger, and make them all green again;
so that we might have the summer back at once,
with no ugly winter in the mean time.”

“O Periwinkle!” cried Eustace Bright, “there
you are wrong, and would do a great deal of mis-
chief. Were I Midas, I would make nothing
else but just such golden days as these over and
over again, all the year throughout. My best
thoughts always come a little too late. Why did
not I tell you how old King Midas came to Amer-
ica, and changed the dusky autumn, such as it is
in other countries, into the burnished beauty
which it here puts on? He gilded the leaves of
the great volume of Nature.”

“ Cousin Eustace,” said Sweet Fern, a good lit-
tle boy, who was always making particular inquiries
about the precise height of giants and the littleness
of fairies, “ how big was Marygold, and how much
did she weigh after she was turned to gold?”



SHADOW BROOK 71

“She was about as tall as you are,” replied Eus-
tace, “and, as gold is very heavy, she weighed at
least two thousand pounds, and might have been
coined into thirty or forty thousand gold dollars.
I wish Primrose were worth half asmuch. Come,
little people, let us clamber out of the dell, and
look about us.”

They did so. The sun was now an hour or
two beyond its noontide mark, and filled the great
hollow of the valley with its western radiance, so
that it seemed to be brimming with mellow light,

and to spill it over the surrounding hill-sides, like

golden wine out of a bowl. It was such a day
that you could not help saying of it, “ There never
was such a day before!” although yesterday was
just such a day, and to-morrow will be just such
another. Ah, but there are very few of them in
a twelvemonth’s circle! It is a remarkable pecul-
iarity of these October days, that each of them
seems to occupy a great deal of space, although
the sun rises rather tardily at that season of the
year, and goes to bed, as little children ought, at
sober six o'clock, or even earlier, We cannot,
therefore, call the days long; but they appear,
somehow or other, to make up for their shortness
by their breadth ; and when the cool night comes,
we are conscious of having enjoyed a big armful
of life, since morning.

“ Come, children, come!” cried Eustace Bright.
“ More nuts, more nuts, more nuts! Fill al] your
baskets ; and, at Christmas time, I will crack them
for you, and tell you beautiful stories! ”

So away they went; all of them in excellent

ad



72 SHADOW BROOK

spirits, except little Dandelion, who, I am sorry
to tell you, had been sitting on a chestnut-bur,
and was stuck as full as a pincushion of its
prickles. Dear me, how uncomfortably he must
have felt !










“4)TANGLEWOOD PLAY-
4 }| ROOM. INTRODUCTORY
H} TO THE PARADISE OF
BY CHILDREN

4, HE golden days of October
passed away, as so many other
? Octobers have,and brown No-
vember likewise, and the greater part of chill De-
cember, too. At last came merry Christmas, and
Eustace Bright along with it, making it all the
merrier by his presence. And, the day after his
arrival from college, there came a mighty snow-
storm. Up to this time, the winter had held back,
and had given us a good many mild days, which
were like smiles upon its wrinkled visage. The
grass had kept itself green, in sheltered places,
such as the nooks of southern hill-slopes, and along
the lee of the stone fences. It was but a week or
two ago, and since the beginning of the month,
that the children had found a dandelion in bloom,
on the margin of Shadow Brook, where it glides
out of the dell.
But no more green grass and dandelions now.
73








“4)TANGLEWOOD PLAY-
4 }| ROOM. INTRODUCTORY
H} TO THE PARADISE OF
BY CHILDREN

4, HE golden days of October
passed away, as so many other
? Octobers have,and brown No-
vember likewise, and the greater part of chill De-
cember, too. At last came merry Christmas, and
Eustace Bright along with it, making it all the
merrier by his presence. And, the day after his
arrival from college, there came a mighty snow-
storm. Up to this time, the winter had held back,
and had given us a good many mild days, which
were like smiles upon its wrinkled visage. The
grass had kept itself green, in sheltered places,
such as the nooks of southern hill-slopes, and along
the lee of the stone fences. It was but a week or
two ago, and since the beginning of the month,
that the children had found a dandelion in bloom,
on the margin of Shadow Brook, where it glides
out of the dell.
But no more green grass and dandelions now.
73



94 TANGLEWOOD PLAY-ROOM

This was such a snow-storm! Twenty miles of
it might have been visible at once, between the
windows of Tanglewood and the dome of Taco-
nic, had it been possible to see so far among the
eddying drifts that whitened all the atmosphere.
It seemed as if. the hills were giants, and were
flinging monstrous handfuls of snow at one an-
other, in their enormous sport. So thick were the
fluttering snow-flakes, that even the trees, mid-
way down the valley, were hidden by them the
greater part of the time. Sometimes, it is true,
the little prisoners of Tanglewood could discern
a dim outline of Monument Mountain, and the
smooth whiteness of the frozen lake at its base,
and the black or gray tracts of woodland in the
nearer landscape. But these were merely peeps
through the tempest.

Nevertheless, the children rejoiced greatly in
the snow-storm. They had already made ac-
quaintance with it, by tumbling heels over head
into its highest drifts, and flinging snow at one
another, as we have just fancied the Berkshire
mountains to be doing. And now they had come
back to their spacious play-room, which was as big
as the great drawing-room, and was lumbered
with all sorts of playthings, large and small. The
biggest was a rocking-horse, that looked like a
real pony; and there was a whole family of
wooden, waxen, plaster, and china dolls, besides
rag-babies ; and blocks enough to build Bunker
Hill Monument, and nine-pins, and _ balls, and
humming-tops, and battledores, and grace-sticks,
and skipping-ropes, and more of such valuable



TANGLEWOOD PLAY-ROOM 18

property than I could tell of in a printed page.
But the children liked the snow-storm better than
them all. It suggested so many brisk enjoy-
ments for to-morrow, and all the remainder of the
winter. The sleigh-ride; the slides down hill into
the valley; the snow-images that were to be
shaped out; the snow-fortresses that were to be
built; and the snowballing to be carried on!

So the little folks blessed the snow-storm, and
. were glad to see it come thicker and thicker, and
watched hopefully the long drift that was piling
itself up in the avenue, and was already higher
than any of their heads.

“Why, we shall be blocked up till spring!”
cried they, with the hugest delight. “ What a pity
that the house is too high to be quite covered up!
The little red house, down yonder, will be buried
up to its eaves.”

“You silly children, what do you want of more
snow?” asked Eustace, who, tired of some novel
that he was skimming through, had strolled into
the play-room. “It has done mischief enough
already, by spoiling the only skating that I could
hope for through the winter. We shall see no-
thing more of the lake till April; and this was to
have been my first day upon it! Don’t you pity
me, Primrose? ”

“Oh, to be sure!” answered Primrose, laugh-
ing. “ But, for your comfort, we will listen to an-
other of your old stories, such as you told us un-
der the porch, and down in the hollow, by Shadow
Brook. Perhaps I shall like them better now,
when there is nothing to do, than while there were



76 TANGLEWOOD PLEAY-ROOM

nuts to be gathered, and beautiful weather to en-
Oo on : :
Tisunen, Periwinkle, Clover, Sweet Fern, and
as many others of the little fraternity and cousin-
hood as were still at Tanglewood, gathered about
Eustace, and earnestly besought him for a story.
The student yawned, stretched himself, and then,
to the vast admiration of the small people, skipped
three times back and forth over the top of a chair,
in order, as he explained to them, to set his wits
in motion.

“ Well, well, children,” said he, after these pre-
liminaries, “ since you insist, and Primrose has set
her heart upon it, I will see what can be done for
you. And, that you may know what happy days
there were before snow-storms came into fash-
ion, I will tell you a story of the oldest of all old
times, when the world was as new as Sweet Fern’s
bran-new humming-top. There was then but one
‘season in the year, and that was the delightful
summer; and but one age for mortals, and that
was childhood.”

“T never heard of that before,” said Primrose.

“Of course, you never did,” answered Eus-
tace. “It shall be a story of what nobody but
myself ever dreamed of,—a Paradise of chil-
dren, — and how, by the naughtiness of just such
a little imp as Primrose here, it all came to no-
thing.”

So Eustace Bright sat down in the chair which
he had just been skipping over, took Cowslip
upon his knee, ordered silence throughout the
auditory, and began a story about a sad naughty



Full Text


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X ee be



Ginza tornler

so aN oo)
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HWW}LONDON:OSGOOD:
LA-MicILV AINE-&-CO..-
MDCCCXCII






The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S. A.
Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.


mee author has long been of opinion that
many of the classical myths were capable of
being rendered into very capital reading for chil-
dren. In the little volume here offered to the
public, he has worked up half a dozen of them,
with this end in view. A great freedom of treat-
ment was necessary to his plan; but it will be ob-
served by every one who attempts to render these
legends malleable in his intellectual furnace, that
they are marvellously independent of all tempo-
rary modes and circumstances. They remain es-
sentially the same, after changes that would affect
the identity of almost anything else.

He does not, therefore, plead guilty to a sac-
rilege, in having sometimes shaped anew, as his
fancy dictated, the forms that have been hallowed
by an antiquity of two or three thousand years.
No epoch of time can claim a copyright in these
immortal fables. They seem never to have been
made; and certainly, so long as man exists, they
can never perish; but, by their indestructibility
itself, they are legitimate subjects for every age to
clothe with its own garniture of manners and sen-
timent, and to imbue with its own morality. In

Vv
vi PREFACE

the present version they may have lost much of
their classical aspect (or, at all events, the author
has not been careful to preserve it), and have per-
haps assumed a Gothic or romantic guise.

In performing this pleasant task, for it has
been really a task fit for hot weather, and one of
the most agreeable, of a literary kind, which he
ever undertook, — the author has not always
thought it necessary to write downward, in order
to meet the comprehension of children. He has
generally suffered the theme to soar, whenever
such was its tendency, and when he himself was
buoyant enough to follow without an effort. Chil-
dren possess an unestimated sensibility to what-
ever is deep or high, in imagination or feeling, so
long as it is simple likewise. It i is only the arti-
ficial and the complex that bewilder them.

Lenox, Fly 15, 1851.




PAGE

THE GORGON’S HEAD.
TANGLEWOOD PorcH. — Introductory to The Gorgon’s

Head 5
THE GoRGON’S HEAD i 3 : ; 7
TANGLEWOOD Porcu. — After the Sey . ; ; - 39
THE GOLDEN TOUCH.
SHADOW Brook. — Introductory to The Golden Touch . 42
THE GOLDEN TOUCH : : A ; ‘ 46
SHADOW Brook. — After the Sc : ‘ : ; . 69

THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN.
TANGLEWOOD PLAy-Room.— Introductory to The Para-

dise of Children . : , : : i ; 3 33
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN . 6 ; . 78
TANGLEWOOD PLAy-Room. — After the uae . ; . Too

THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES.
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE. — Introductory to The Three

Golden Apples . , . ; ‘ : i . 102
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES. ; , : - 109
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE. — After the Sane. ; : - 136

THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER.
THE HIL- fe! to The Miraculous

Pitcher : : 5 ; : ; 5 - I40

THE MIRACULOUS Dreier : 4 . . : - 144

THE HILL-Sipe.— After the Story . ; , : - 170
THE CHIMERA.

BaLp-Summir. — Introductory to The Chimera . . Ly 2

THE CHIMERA . . - i : peel 7.0)

BaLp-Summir. — After the con : ; : . - 206
vii






se



t



















ag
Â¥~
CS
=
re * a ES,
%


Half-Title . ; : .
Frontispiece — Bellerophon on Pegasus:
Title °
Preface
Tailpiece . 7 : ; . : °
Contents
List of Designs
Tailpiece
Headpiece — TANGLEWOOD Porcu .
THE GORGON’S HEAD — ees
Perseus and the Graie . , .
Perseus armed by the N ympus ; ° . .
Perseus and the Gorgons
Perseus showing the “Gorgon’ Ss Head
Tailpiece :
Headpiece — TANGLEWOOD PorcH, After the Story
Tailpiece s
Headpiece — SHADOW Brook
THE GOLDEN TOUCH — Headpiece
The Stranger appearing to Midas
Midas’ Daughter turned to Gold
Midas with the Pitcher _.
Tailpiece :
Headpiece — SHADOW BROOK, After the Story
Tailpiece 3
Headpiece = Dancin woop PLAY- Room
Tailpiece
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN — Headpiece
Pandora wonders at the Box . .
Pandora desires to open the Box
Pandora opens the Box .
Tailpiece
ix

vii
x LIST OF DESIGNS

Headpiece— TANGLEWooD PLay-Room, After the Story
Headpiece — TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE
Tailpiece : ‘
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES —Headpiece :
Hercules and the Nymphs
Hercules and the Old Man of the Sea :
Hercules and Atlas
Tailpiece
Headpiece- TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE, After the Stacy
Tailpiece ;
Headpiece — THE Hitt SIDE
Tailpiece .
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER — -Headpiece
Philemon and Baucis : ;
The Strangers in the Village
The Strangers entertained
Tailpiece
Headpiece — THE Hitt-Spe, After the Story
Tailpiece ; . , 6
Headpiece — BALD SuMMIT
Tailpiece :
THE CHIMERA— Ee rresapiccee
Bellerophon at the Fountain
Bellerophon slays the Chimera
Tailpiece
Headpiece — BALD SuMmrr, ‘After the Story
Tailpiece



. 136

. 140

. 148

. 169

- 175

» I00

102

. 108

109

- I12

120

. 126

135

139

143

. 144

144
158

170

sea

172

176

« 180

200

- 205

206

+ 210


INTRODUCTORY TO
THE GORGON’S HEAD

ENEATH the porch of the
} country-seat called Tangle-
‘} wood, one fine’ autumnal
morning, was assembled a
merry party of little folks,
with a tall youth in the midst of them. They
had planned a nutting expedition, and were impa-
tiently waiting for the mists to roll up the hill-
slopes, and for the sun to pour the warmth of
the Indian summer over the fields and pastures,
and into the nooks of the many-colored woods.
There was a prospect of as fine a day as ever
gladdened the aspect of this beautiful and com-
fortable world. As yet, however, the morning
mist filled up the whole length and breadth of
the valley, above which, on a gently sloping em-
inence, the mansion stood.

This body of white vapor extended to within
less than a hundred yards of the house. It com-
pletely hid everything beyond that distance, ex-
cept a few ruddy or yellow tree-tops, which here

I


2 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

and there emerged, and were glorified by the early
sunshine, as was likewise the broad surface of the
mist. Four or five miles off to the southward
rose the summit of Monument Mountain, and
seemed to be floating on acloud. Some fifteen
miles farther away, in the same direction, ap-
peared the loftier Dome of Taconic, looking blue
and indistinct, and hardly so substantial as the
vapory sea that almost rolled overit. The nearer
hills, which bordered the valley, were half sub-
merged, and were specked with little cloud-
wreaths all the way to their tops. On the whole,
there was so much cloud, and so little solid earth,
that it had the effect of a vision.

The children above-mentioned, being as full of
life as they could hold, kept overflowing from the
porch of Tanglewood, and scampering along the
gravel-walk, or rushing across the dewy herbage
of the lawn. I can hardly tell how many of these
small people there were; not less than nine or
ten, however, nor more than a dozen, of all sorts,
sizes, and ages, whether girls or boys. They were
brothers, sisters, and cousins, together with a few
of their young acquaintances, who had been in-
vited by Mr. and Mrs. Pringle to spend some of
this delightful weather with their own children at
Tanglewood. Iam afraid to tell you their names,
or even to give them any names which other chil-
dren have ever been called by; because, to my
certain knowledge, authors sometimes get them-
selves into great trouble by accidentally giving the
names of real persons to the characters in their
books. For this reason I mean to call them Prim-
TANGLEWOOD PORCH 3

rose, Periwinkle, Sweet Fern, Dandelion, Blue
Eye, Clover, Huckleberry, Cowslip, Squash-Blos-
som, Milkweed, Plantain, and Buttercup; although,
to be sure, such titles might better suit a group
of fairies than a company of earthly children.

It is not to be supposed that these little folks
were to be permitted by their careful fathers
and mothers, uncles, aunts, or grandparents, to
stray abroad into the woods and fields, without
the guardianship of some particularly grave and
elderly person. Oh, no,indeed! In the first sen-
tence of my book, you will recollect that I spoke
of a tall youth, standing in the midst of the chil-
dren. His name —(and I shall let you know his
real name, because he considers it a great honor
to have told the stories that are here to be printed)
—his name was Eustace Bright. He was a stu-
dent at Williams College, and had reached, I
think, at this period, the venerable age of eigh.
teen years; so that he felt quite like a grandfather
towards Periwinkle, Dandelion, Huckleberry,
Squash - Blossom, Milkweed, and the rest, who
were only half or a third as venerable as he. A
trouble in his eyesight (such as many students
think it necessary to have, nowadays, in order to
prove their diligence at their books) had kept him
from college a week or two after the beginning
of the term. But, for my part, I have seldom met
with a pair of eyes that looked as if they could see
farther or better than those of Eustace Bright.

This learned student was slender, and rather
pale, as all Yankee students are; but yet of a
healthy aspect, and as light and active as if he had
4 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

wings to his shoes. By the by, being much ad-
dicted to wading through streamlets and across
meadows, he had put on cowhide boots for the
expedition. He wore a linen blouse, a cloth cap,
and a pair of green spectacles, which he had as-
sumed, probably, less for the preservation of his
eyes than for the dignity that they imparted to
his countenance. In either case, however, he
might as well have let them alone; for Huckle-
berry, a mischievous little elf, crept behind Eus-
- tace as he sat on the steps of the porch, snatched
the spectacles from his nose, and clapped them
on her own; and as the student forgot to take
them back, they fell off into the grass, and lay
there till the next spring.

Now, Eustace Bright, you must know, had won
great fame among the children, as a narrator of
wonderful stories; and though he sometimes pre-
tended to be annoyed, when they teased him for
more, and more, and always for more, yet I really
doubt whether he liked anything quite so well as
to tell them. You might have seen his eyes twin-
kle, therefore, when Clover, Sweet Fern, Cowslip,
Buttercup, and most of their playmates, besought
him to relate one of his stories, while they were
waiting for the mist to clear up.

“Ves, Cousin Eustace,” said Primrose, who was
a bright girl of twelve, with laughing eyes, and a
nose that turned up a little, “ the morning is cer-
tainly the best time for the stories with which you
so often tire out our patience. We shall be in
less danger of hurting your feelings, by falling
asleep at the most interesting points, — as little
Cowslip and I did last night!”


BEL Cae OE ET EN Tres Pn are sat



TANGLEWOOD PORCH 5

“ Naughty Primrose,” cried Cowslip, a child of
six years old; “I did not fall asleep, and I only
shut my eyes, so as to see a picture of what. Cousin
Eustace was telling about. His stories are good
to hear at night, because we can dream about
them asleep; and good in the morning, too, be-
cause then we can dream about them awake. So
I hope he will tell us one this very minute.”

“ Thank you, my little Cowslip,” said Eustace ;
“certainly you shall have the best story I can
think of, if it were only for defending me so well
from that naughty Primrose. But, children, I
have already told you so many fairy tales, that
I doubt whether there is a single one which you
have not heard at least twice over. I am afraid
you will fall asleep in reality, if I repeat any of
them again.”

“ No, no, no!” cried Blue Eye, Periwinkle, Plan-
tain, and half a dozen others. “ We like a story
all the better for having heard it two or three
times before.”

And it is a truth, as regards children, that a
story seems often to deepen its mark in their in-
terest, not merely by two or three, but by num-
berless repetitions, But Eustace Bright, in the
exuberance of his resources, scorned to avail him-
self of an advantage which an older story-teller
would have been glad to grasp at.

“It would be a great pity,” said he, “if a man
of my learning (to say nothing of original fancy)
could not find a new story every day, year in and
year out, for children such as you. I will tell you
one of the nursery tales that were made for the -
6 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

amusement of our great old grandmother, the
Earth, when she was a child in frock and pinafore.
There are a hundred such; and it is a wonder to
me that they have not long ago been put into pic-
ture-books for little girls and boys. But, instead
of that, old gray-bearded grandsires pore over
them in musty volumes of Greek, and puzzle
themselves with trying to find out when, and how,
and for what they were made.”

“Well, well, well, well, Cousin Eustace!” cried
all the children at once; “talk no more about
your stories, but begin.”

“ Sit down, then, every soul of you,” said Eus-
tace Bright, “ and be all as still as so many mice.
At the slightest interruption, whether.from great,
naughty Primrose, little Dandelion, or any other,
I shall bite the story short off between my teeth,
and swallow the untold part. But, in the first
place, do any of you know what a Gorgon is?”

“TI do,” said Primrose.

“Then hold your tongue!” rejoined Eustace,
who had rather she would have known nothing
about the matter. “ Hold all your tongues, and
I shall tell you a sweet pretty story of a Gorgon’s
head.”

And so he did, as you may begin to read on
the next page. Working up his sophomorical
erudition with a good deal of tact, and incurring
great obligations to Professor Anthon, he, never-
theless, disregarded all classical authorities, when-
ever the vagrant audacity of his imagination im-
pelled him to do so.












HEA

44ERSEUS was the son of
Danaé, who was the daughter
of a king. And when Per-
seus was a very little boy,
some wicked people put his
mother and himself into a
chest, and set them afloat
upon the sea. The wind blew freshly, and drove
the chest away from the shore, and the uneasy
billows tossed it up and down; while Danaé
clasped her child closely to her bosom, and dreaded
that some big wave would dash its foamy crest
over them both. The chest sailed on, however,
and neither sank nor was upset; until, when night
was coming, it floated so near an island that it got
entangled in a fisherman’s nets, and was drawn
out high and dry upon the sand. The island was
called Seriphus, and it was reigned over by King
Polydectes, who happened to be the fisherman’s
brother.

This fisherman, I am glad to tell you, was an
exceedingly humane and upright man. Heshowed
great kindness to Danaé and her little boy; and
df
8 THE GORGON’S HEAD

continued to befriend them, until Perseus had
grown to be a handsome youth, very strong and
active, and skillful in the use of arms. Long be-
fore this time, King Polydectes had seen the two
strangers — the mother and her child — who had
come to his dominions in a floating chest. As
he was not good and kind, like his brother the
fisherman, but extremely wicked, he resolved to
send Perseus on a dangerous enterprise, in which
he would probably be killed, and then to do some
great mischief to Danaé herself. So this bad-
hearted king spent a long while in considering
-what was the most dangerous thing that a young
man could possibly undertake to perform. At
last, having hit upon an enterprise that promised
to turn out as fatally as he desired, he sent for the
youthful Perseus.

The young man came to the palace, and found
the king sitting upon his throne.

“ Perseus,” said King Polydectes, smiling craft-
ily upon him, “you are grown up a fine young
man. You and your good mother have received
a great deal of kindness from myself, as well as
from my worthy brother the fisherman, and I sup-_
pose you would not be sorry to repay some of it.”

“Please your Majesty,” answered Perseus, “I
would willingly risk my life to do so.”

“ Well, then,” continued the king, still with a
cunning smile on his lips, “ I have a little adven-
ture to propose to you; and, as you are a brave
and enterprising youth, you will doubtless look
upon it as a great piece of good luck to have
so rare an opportunity of distinguishing yourself.
THE GORGON’S HEAD 9

You must know, my good Perseus, I think of
getting married to the beautiful Princess Hippo-
damia; and it is customary, on these occasions, to
make the bride a present of some far-fetched and
elegant curiosity. I have been a little perplexed,
I must honestly confess, where to obtain anything
likely to please a princess of her exquisite taste.
But, this morning, I flatter myself, I have thought
of precisely the article.”

“ And can I assist your Majesty in obtaining
it?” cried Perseus, eagerly.

“You can, if you are as brave a youth as I be-
lieve you to be,” replied King Polydectes, with
the utmost graciousness of manner. “ The bridal
gift which I have set my heart on presenting to
the beautiful Hippodamia is the head of the Gor-
gon Medusa with the snaky locks; and I depend
on you, my dear Perseus, to bring it tome. So,
as I am anxious to settle affairs with the princess,
the sooner you go in quest of the Gorgon, the
better I shall be pleased.”

“T will set out to-morrow morning,” ‘answered
Perseus.

“Pray do so, my gallant youth,” rejoined the
king. “ And, Perseus, in cutting off the Gorgon’s
head, be careful to make a clean stroke, so as not
to injure its appearance. You must bring it home
in the very best condition, in order to suit the
exquisite taste of the beautiful Princess Hippo-
damia.”

Perseus left the palace, but was scarcely out of
hearing before Polydectes burst into a laugh; be-
ing greatly amused, wicked king that he was, to
10 , THE GORGON’S HEAD

find how readily the young man fell into the snare.
The news quickly spread abroad that Perseus had
undertaken to cut off the head of Medusa with
the snaky locks. Everybody was rejoiced; for
most of the inhabitants of the island were as
wicked as the king himself, and would have liked
nothing better than to see some enormous mis-
chief happen to Danaé and her son. The only
good man in this unfortunate island of Seriphus
appears to have been the fisherman. As Perseus
walked along, therefore, the people pointed after
him, and made mouths, and winked to one another,
and ridiculed him as loudly as they dared.

“ Ho, ho!” cried they; “ Medusa’s snakes will
sting him soundly!”

Now, there were three Gorgons alive at that
period; and they were the most strange and ter-
rible monsters that had ever been since the world
was made, or that have been seen in after days,
or that are likely to be seen in all time to come.
I hardly know what sort of creature or hobgoblin
to call them. They were three sisters, and seem
to have borne some distant resemblance to women,
but were really a very frightful and mischievous
species of dragon. It is, indeed, difficult to ima-

‘ne what hideous beings these three sisters were.
Why, instead of locks of hair, if you can believe
me, they had each of them a hundred enormous
snakes growing on their heads, all alive, twisting,
wriggling, curling, and thrusting out their ven-
omous tongues, with forked stings at the end!
The teeth of the Gorgons were terribly long
tusks; their hands were made of brass; and their



al citar es

seein ahaa
THE GORGON’S HEAD Ir

bodies were all over scales, which, if not iron, were
something as hard and impenetrable. They had
wings, too, and exceedingly splendid ones, I can
assure you; for every feather in them was pure,
bright, glittering, burnished gold, and they looked
very dazzlingly, no doubt, when the Gorgons were
flying about in the sunshine.

But when people happened to catch a glimpse
of their glittering brightness, aloft in the air, they
seldom stopped to gaze, but ran and hid them-
selves as speedily as they could. You will think,
perhaps, that they were afraid of being stung by
the serpents that served the Gorgons instead of
hair, — or of having their heads bitten off by their
ugly tusks,— or of being torn all to pieces by
their brazen claws. Well, to be sure, these were
some of the dangers, but by no means the greatest,
nor the most difficult to avoid. For the worst
thing about these abominable Gorgons was, that,
if once a poor mortal fixed his eyes full upon one -
of their faces, he was certain, that very instant, to
be changed from warm flesh and blood into cold
and lifeless stone!

Thus, as you will easily perceive, it was a very
dangerous adventure that the wicked King Poly-
dectes had contrived for this innocent young
man. Perseus himself, when he had thought
over the matter, could not help seeing that he had
very little chance of coming safely through it, and
that he was far more likely to become a stone
image than to bring back the head of Medusa
with the snaky locks. . For, not to speak of other
difficulties, there was one which it would have
12 THE GORGON’S HEAD

puzzled an older man than Perseus to get over.
Not only must he fight with and slay this golden-
winged, iron-scaled, long-tusked, brazen-clawed,
snaky-haired monster, but he must do it with his
eyes shut, or, at least, without so much as a glance
at the enemy with whom he was contending.
Else, while his arm was lifted to strike, he would
stiffen into stone, and stand with that uplifted arm
for centuries, until time, and the wind and weather,
should crumble him quite away. This would be
a very sad thing to befall a young man who
wanted to perform a great many brave deeds, and
to enjoy a great deal of happiness, in this bright
and beautiful world.

So disconsolate did these thoughts make him,
that Perseus could not bear to tell his mother
what he had undertaken to do. He therefore
took his shield, girded on his sword, and crossed
over from the island to the mainland, where he
sat down in a solitary place, and hardly refrained
from shedding tears.

But, while he was in this sorrowful mood, he
heard a voice close beside him.

“ Perseus,” said the voice, “ why are you sad?”

He lifted his head from his hands, in which
he had hidden it, and, behold! all alone as Per-
seus had supposed himself to be, there was a
stranger in the solitary place. It was a brisk, in-
telligent, and remarkably shrewd-looking young
man, with a cloak over his shoulders, an odd sort
of cap on his head, a strangely twisted staff in
his hand, and a short and very crooked sword
hanging by his side. He was exceedingly light
THE GORGON’S HEAD 13

and active in his figure, like a person much accus-
tomed to gymnastic exercises, and well able to
leap or run. Above all, the stranger had such a
cheerful, knowing, and helpful aspect (though it
was certainly a little mischievous, into the bar-
gain), that Perseus could not help feeling his
spirits grow livelier as he gazed at him. Besides,
being really a courageous youth, he felt greatly
ashamed that anybody should have found him
with tears in his eyes, like a timid little school-
boy, when, after all, there might be no occasion
for despair. So Perseus wiped his eyes, and an-
swered the stranger pretty briskly, putting on as
brave a look as he could.

“JT am not so very sad,” said he, “ only thought-
ful about an adventure that I have undertaken.”

“Oho!” answered the stranger. “Well, tell
me all about it, and possibly I may be of service
to you. I have helped a good many young men
through adventures that looked difficult enough
beforehand. Perhaps you may have heard of me.
I have more names than one; but the name of
Quicksilver suits me as well as any other. Tell
me what the trouble is, and we will talk the mat-
ter over, and see what can be done.”

The stranger’s words and manner put Perseus
into quite a different mood from his former one.
He resolved to tell Quicksilver all his difficulties,
since he could not easily be worse off than he
already was, and, very possibly, his new friend
might give him some advice that would turn out
well in the end. So he let the stranger know, in
few words, precisely what the case was, — how
14 THE GORGON’S HEAD

that King Polydectes wanted the head of Medusa
with the snaky locks as a bridal gift for the beau-
tiful Princess Hippodamia, and how that he had
undertaken to get it for him, but was afraid of
being turned into stone.

« And that would be a great pity,” said Quick.
silver, with his mischievous smile. “ You would
make a very handsome marble statue, it is true,
and it would be a considerable number of centu-
ries before you crumbled away ; but, on the whole,
one would rather be a young man for a few years
than a stone image for a great many.”

“Oh, far rather!” exclaimed Perseus, with the
tears again standing in hiseyes. “And, besides,
what would my dear mother do, if her beloved
son were turned into a stone?”

“Well, well, let us hope that the affair will not
turn out so very badly,” replied Quicksilver, in an
encouraging tone. “I am the very person to
help you, if anybody can. My sister and myself
will do our utmost to bring you safe through the
adventure, ugly as it now looks.”

“Your sister?” repeated Perseus.

“Yes, my sister,” said the stranger. “ She is
very wise, I promise you; and as for myself, I
generally have all my wits about me, such as they
are. If you show yourself bold and cautious, and
follow our advice, you need not fear being a stone
image yet awhile. But, first of all, you must polish
your shield, till you can see your face in it as dis-
tinctly as in a mirror.”

This seemed to Perseus rather an odd begin-
ning of the adventure; for he thought it of far
THE GORGON’S HEAD 15

more consequence that the shield should be strong
enough to defend him from the Gorgon’s brazen
claws, than that it should be bright enough to
show him the reflection of his face. However,
concluding that Quicksilver knew better than
himself, he immediately set to work, and scrubbed
the shield with so much diligence and good-will,
that it very quickly shone like the moon at har-
vest-time. Quicksilver looked at it with a smile,
and nodded his approbation. Then, taking off
his own short and crooked sword, he girded it
about Perseus, instead of the one which he had
before worn.

“No sword but mine will answer your pur-
pose,” observed he; “the blade has a most ex-
cellent temper, and will cut through iron and
brass as easily as through the slenderest twig.
And now we will set out. The next thing is to
find the Three Gray Women, who will tell us
where to find the Nymphs.”

“ The Three Gray Women!” cried Perseus, to

whom this seemed only a new difficulty in the
path of his adventure; “ pray who may the Three
Gray Women be? I never heard of them be-
fore.”
“ They are three very strange old ladies,” said
Quicksilver, laughing. ‘“ They have but one eye
among them, and only one tooth. Moreover, you
must find them out by starlight, or in the dusk of
the evening; for they never show themselves by
the light either of the sun or moon.”

“ But,” said Perseus, “why should I waste my
time with these Three Gray Women? Would it
16 THE GORGON’S HEAD

not be better to set out at.once in search of the
terrible Gorgons?”

“No, no,” answered his friend. “There are
other things to be done, before you can find your
way to the Gorgons. There is nothing for it but
to hunt up these old ladies; and when we meet
with them, you may be sure that the Gorgons are
not a great way off. Come, let us be stirring!”

Perseus, by this time, felt so much confidence in
his companion’s sagacity, that he made no more
objections, and professed himself ready to begin
the adventure immediately. They accordingly
set out, and walked at a pretty brisk pace; so
brisk, indeed, that Perseus found it rather difficult
to keep up with his nimble friend Quicksilver.
To say the truth, he had a singular idea that
Quicksilver was furnished with a pair of winged
shoes, which, of course, helped him along marvel-
ously. And then, too, when Perseus looked side-
ways at him, out of the corner of his eye, he
seemed to see wings on the side of his head; al-
though, if he turned a full gaze, there were no
such things to be perceived, but only an odd kind
of cap. But, at all events, the twisted staff was
evidently a great convenience to Quicksilver, and
enabled him to proceed so fast, that Perseus,
though a remarkably active young man, began to
be out of breath.

“Here!” cried Quicksilver, at last, —for he
knew well enough, rogue that he was, how hard
Perseus found it to keep pace with him, —“ take
you the staff, for you need it a great deal more
than I. Are there no better walkers than your-
self in the island of Seriphus?”


THE GORGON’S HEAD iy

“TI could walk pretty well,” said Perseus, glan-
cing slyly at his companion’s feet, “if I had only
a pair of winged shoes.”

“We must see about getting you a pair,” an-
swered Quicksilver.

But the staff helped Perseus along so bravely
that he no longer felt the slightest weariness. In
fact, the stick seemed to be alive in his hand, and
to lend some of its life to Perseus. He and
Quicksilver now walked onward at their ease,
talking very sociably together; and Quicksilver
told so many pleasant stories about his former ad-
ventures, and how well his wits had served him
on various occasions, that Perseus began to think
him a very wonderful person. He evidently knew
the world; and nobody is so charming to a young
man as a friend who has that kind of knowledge.
Perseus listened the more eagerly, in the hope of
brightening his own wits by what he heard.

At last, he happened to recollect that Quick-
silver had spoken of a sister, who was to lend her
assistance in the adventure which they were now
bound upon.

“Where is she?” he inquired. “Shall we not
meet her soon?”

“ All at the proper time,” said his companion.
“ But this sister of mine, you must understand, is
quite a different sort of character from myself.
She is very grave and prudent, seldom smiles,
never laughs, and makes it a rule not to utter a
word unless she has something particularly pro-
found to say. Neither will she listen to any but
the wisest conversation.”
ig. .THE GORGON’S HEAD

“Dear me!” ejaculated Perseus; “I shall be
afraid to say a syllable.”

“She is a very accomplished person, I assure
you,” continued Quicksilver, “and has all the arts
and sciences at her fingers’ ends. In short, she is
so immoderately wise that many people call her
wisdom personified. But, to tell you the truth,
she has hardly vivacity enough for my taste; and
I think you would scarcely find her so pleasant
a traveling companion as myself. She has her
good points, nevertheless; and you will find the
benefit of them, in your encounter with the Gor-

ons.”

By this time it had grown quite dusk. They
were now come to a very wild and desert place,
overgrown with shaggy bushes, and so silent and
solitary that nobody seemed ever to have dwelt or

journeyed there. All was waste and desolate, in |

the gray twilight, which grew every moment more
obscure. Perseus looked about him, rather dis-
consolately, and asked Quicksilver whether they
had a great deal farther to go.

“ Hist! hist!” whispered his companion. “ Make
no noise! This is just the time and place to meet
the Three Gray Women. Be careful that they do
not see you before you see them; for, though
they have but a single eye among the three, it is
as sharp-sighted as half a dozen common.eyes.”

“ But what must I do,” asked Perseus, “ when
we meet them?”

Quicksilver explained to Perseus how the
Three Gray Women managed with their one eye.
They were in the habit, it seems, of changing it
THE GORGON’S HEAD 19

from one to another, as if it had been a pair of
spectacles, or — which would have suited them
better — a quizzing-glass. When one of the three
had kept the eye a certain time, she’took it out of
the socket and passed it to one of her sisters,
whose turn it might happen to be, and who im-
mediately clapped it into her own head, and en-—
joyed a peep at the visible world. Thus it will
easily be understood that only one of the Three
Gray Women could see, while the other two were
in utter darkness; and, moreover, at the instant
when the eye was passing from hand to hand,
neither of the poor old ladies was able to see a
wink. I have heard of a great many strange
things, in my day, and have witnessed not a few ;
but none, it seems to me, that can compare with
the oddity of these Three Gray Women, all peep-:
ing through a single eye.

So thought Perseus, likewise, and was so as-
tonished that he almost fancied his companion
was joking with him, and that there were no such
old women in the world.

_ You will soon find whether I tell the Miccith or
no,” observed Quicksilver. “Hark! hush! hist!
hist! There they come, now!”

_ Perseus looked earnestly through the dusk of
the evening, and there, sure enough, at no great
distance off, he descried the Three Gray Women.
The light being so faint, he could not well make
out what sort of figures they were; only he dis-
covered that they had long gray hair; and, as they
came nearer, he saw that two of them had but the
empty socket of an eye, in the middle of their
20 - THE GORGON’S HEAD

foreheads. ° But, in the middle of the third sister's
forehead, there was a very large, bright, and pier-
cing eye, which sparkled like a great diamond in a
ring; and so penetrating did it seem to be, that
Perseus could not help thinking it must possess
the gift of seeing inthe darkest midnight just as
perfectly as at noonday. The sight of three per-
sons’ eyes was melted and collected into that sin-
gle one.

Thus the three old dames got along about as
comfortably, upon the whole, as if they could all
see at once. She who chanced to have the eye in
her forehead led the other two by the hands, peep-
ing sharply about her, all the while; insomuch
that Perseus dreaded lest she should see right
through the thick clump of bushes behind which
he and Quicksilver had hidden themselves. My
stars! it was positively terrible to be within reach
of so very sharp an eye!

But, before they reached the clump of bushes,
one of the Three Gray Women spoke.

« Sister! Sister Scarecrow!” cried she, “ you
have had the eye long enough. It is my turn
now!” ts

“ Let me keep it a. moment longer, Sister Night-
mare,” answered Scarecrow. “I thought I hada
glimpse of something behind that thick bush.”

“Well, and what of that?” retorted Night-
mare, peevishly. “Can’t I see into a thick bush
as easily as yourself? The eye is mine as well as
yours; and I know the use of it as well as you,
or may be a little better. I insist upon taking a
peep immediately!”

tra Dn us ine eh iii
THE GORGON’S HEAD 2z

But here the third sister, whose name was
Shakejoint, began to complain, and said that it
was her turn to have the eye, and that Scarecrow
and Nightmare wanted to keep it all to them-
selves. To.end the dispute, old Dame Scarecrow
took the eye out of her forehead, and held it forth
in her hand. —

“ Také it, one of you,” cried she, “and quit this
foolish quarreling. For my part, I shall be glad
of alittle thick darkness. Take it quickly, how-
ever, or I must clap it into my own head again!”

Accordingly, both Nightmare and Shakejoint -

put out their hands, groping eagerly to snatch the
eye out of the hand of Scarecrow. But, being
both alike blind, they could not easily find Where
Scarecrow’s hand was; and Scarecrow, being now
just as much in the dark as Shakejoint and Night-
mare, could not at once meet either of their hands,
in order to put the eye into it. Thus (as you will
see, with half an eye, my wise little auditors), these
good old dames had fallen into a strange perplex-
ity. For, though the eye shone and ‘glistened
like a star, as Scarecrow held it out, yet the Gray
Women caught not the least glimpse of its light,
and were all three in utter darkness, from too im-
patient a desire to see.

Quicksilver was so much tickled at beholding
Shakejoint and Nightmare both groping for: the
eye, and each finding fault with Scarecrow and
one another, that he could scarcely help laughing
aloud.

“ Now is your time!” he whispered to Perseus.
“ Quick, quick! before they can clap the eye into
22 THE GORGON’S HEAD

either of their heads. Rush out upon the old
ladies, and snatch it from Scarecrow’s hand!”

In an instant, while the Three Gray Women
were still scolding each other, Perseus leaped
from behind the clump of bushes, and made him-
. self master of the prize. The marvelous eye, as
he held it in his hand, shone very brightly, and
seemed to look up into his face with a knowing
air, and an expression as if it would have winked,
had it been provided with a pair of eyelids for
that purpose. But the Gray Women knew no-
thing of what had happened; and, each suppos-
ing that one of her sisters was in possession of
the eye, they began their quarrel anew. At last,
as Perseus did not wish to put these respectable
dames to greater inconvenience than was really
necessary, he thought it right to explain the mat-
ter,

“ My good ladies,” said he, “ pray do not be an-
gry with one another. If anybody is in fault, it
is myself; for I have the honor to hold your very
brilliant and excellent eye in my own hand!”

“You! you have our eye! And who are you?”
screamed the Three Gray Women, all in a breath;
for they were terribly frightened, of course, at
hearing a strange voice, and discovering that their
eyesight had got into the hands of they could not
guess whom. “Oh, what shall we do, sisters?
what shall we do? We are all in the dark! Give
us our é€ye! Give us our one, precious, solitary
eye! You have two of your own! Give us our
eye!”

“Tell them,” whispered Quicksilver to Perseus,

‘THE GORGON’S HEAD 23

“that they shall have back the eye as soon as they
direct you where to find the Nymphs who have
the flying slippers, the magic wallet, and the hel-
met of darkness.”

“My dear, good, admirable old ladies,” said
Perseus, addressing the Gray Women, “ there is
no occasion for putting yourselves into such a
fright. I am by no means a bad young man.
You shall have back your eye, safe and sound,
and as bright as ever, the moment you tell me
where to find the Nymphs.”

“The Nymphs! Goodness me! sisters, what
Nymphs does he mean?” screamed Scarecrow.
“There are a great many Nymphs, people say;
some that go a-hunting in the woods, and some
that live inside of trees, and some that have a
comfortable home in fountains of water. We
know nothing at all about them. We are three
unfortunate old souls, that go wandering about in
the dusk, and never had but one eye amongst us,
and that one you have stolen away. Oh, give it
back, good stranger!— whoever you are, give it
back !”

All this while the Three Gray Women were
groping with their outstretched hands, and trying
their utmost to get hold of Perseus. But he took
good care to keep out of their reach.

“My respectable dames,” said he, — for his
mother had taught him always to use the greatest
civility, —“ I hold your eye fast in my hand, and
shall keep it safely for you, until you please to tell
me where to find these Nymphs. The Nymphs,
I mean, who keep the enchanted wallet, the flying
24 THE GORGON’S HEAD

slippers, and the —what is it? —the helmet of in-
visibility.”

“ Mercy on us, sisters! what is the young man
talking about?” exclaimed Scarecrow, Night-
mare, and Shakejoint, one to another, with great
appearance of astonishment. “A pair of flying
slippers, quoth he! His heels would quickly fly
higher than his head, if he were silly enough to
put them on. And a helmet of invisibility! How
could a helmet make him invisible, unless it were
big enough for him to hide under it? And.an
enchanted wallet! What sort of a contrivance
may that be, I wonder? No, no, good stranger!
we can tell you nothing of these marvelous things.
You have two eyes of your own, and we have but
-a single one amongst us three. You can find out
such wonders better. than three blind old crea-
tures, like us.”

Perseus, hearing them talk in this way, began
really to think that the Gray Women knew no-
thing of the matter; and, as it grieved him to
have put them to so much trouble, he was just on
the point of restoring their eye and asking par-
don for his rudeness in snatching it away. But
Quicksilver caught his hand.

“Don’t let them make a fool of you!” said he.
“ These Three Gray Women are the only persons
in the world that can tell you where to find the
Nymphs; and, unless you get that information,
you will never succeed in cutting off the head of
Medusa with the snaky locks.. Keep fast hold
of the eye, and all will go well.”

As it turned out, Quicksilver was in the right.
THE GORGON’S HEAD 25

There are but few things that people prize so
much as they do their eyesight; and the Gray
Women valued their single eye as highly as if it
had been half a dozen, which was the number
they ought to have had. Finding that there was
no other way of recovering it, they at last told
Perseus what he wanted to know. No sooner
had they done so, than he immediately, and with .
the utmost respect, clapped the eye into the va-
cant socket in one of their foreheads, thanked
them for their kindness, and bade them farewell.
Before the young man was out of hearing, how-
ever, they had got into a new dispute, because he
happened to have given the eye to Scarecrow,
who had already taken her turn of it when their

trouble with Perseus commenced. a

It is greatly to be feared that the Three Gray
Women were very much in the habit of disturbing
their mutual harmony by bickerings of this sort;
which was the more pity, as they could not con-
veniently do without one another, and were evi-
dently intended to be inseparable companions.
As a general rule, I would advise all people,
whether sisters or brothers, old or young, who
chance to have but one eye amongst them, to cul-
tivate forbearance, and not all insist upon peeping
through it at once.

Quicksilver and Perseus, in the mean time, were
making the best of their way in quest of the
Nymphs. The old dames had given them such
particular directions, that they were not long in
finding them out. They proved to be very dif-
ferent persons from Nightmare, Shakejoint, and
26 THE GORGON’S HEAD

Scarecrow; for, instead of being old, they were
young and beautiful; and instead of one eye
amongst the sisterhood, each Nymph had two éx-
ceedingly bright eyes of her own, with which she
looked very kindly at Perseus. They seemed to
be acquainted with Quicksilver; and, when he
told them the adventure which Perseus had under-
taken, they made no difficulty about giving him
the valuable articles that were in their custody.
In the first place, they brought out what appeared
to be a small purse, made of deerskin and curi-
ously embroidered, and bade him be sure and keep
it safe. This was the magic wallet. The N ymphs
next produced a pair of shoes, or slippers, or san-
dals, with a nice little pair of wings at the heel of
each.
“Put them on, Perseus,” said Quicksilver.
“ You will find yourself as light-heeled as you can
desire for the remainder of our journey.”
So Perseus proceeded to put one of the slippers

on, while he laid the other on the ground by his
“side. Unexpectedly, however, this other slipper
spread its wings, fluttered up off the ground, and
would probably have flown away, if Quicksilver
had not made a leap, and luckily caught it in the
air. '

“ Be more careful,” said he, as he gave it back
to Perseus. “It would frighten the birds, up
aloft, if they should see a flying slipper amongst
them.”

When Perseus had got on both of these won-
derful slippers, he was altogether too buoyant to
tread on earth. Making a step or two, lo and



THE GORGON’S HEAD 27

behold! upward he popped into the air, high
above the heads of Quicksilver and the Nymphs,
and found it very difficult to clamber down again.
Winged slippers, and all such high-flying con-
trivances, are seldom quite easy to manage until
one grows a little accustomed to them. Quick-
silver laughed at his companion’s involuntary ac-
tivity, and told him that he must not be in so
desperate a hurry, but must wait for the invisible
helmet.

The good-natured Nymphs had the helmet, with
its dark tuft of waving plumes, all in readiness to
put upon his head. And now there happened
about as wonderful an incident as anything that
I have yet told you. The instant before the hel-
met was put on, there stood Perseus, a beautiful
young man, with golden ringlets and rosy cheeks,
the crooked sword by his side, and the brightly
polished shield upon his arm,—a figure that
seemed all made up of courage, sprightliness, and
glorious light. But when the helmet had de-
scended over his white brow, there was no longer
any Perseus to be seen! Nothing but empty air!
Even the helmet, that covered him with its invisi-
bility, had vanished !

“Where are you, Perseus? ” asked Quicksilver.

“Why, here, to be sure!” answered Perseus,
very quietly, although his voice seemed to come
out of the transparent atmosphere. “Just where
I was a moment ago. Don’t you see me?”

“ No, indeed!” answered his friend. “You are
hidden under the helmet. But, if I cannot see
you, neither can the Gorgons. Follow me, there-
28 THE GORGON’S HEAD

fore, and we will try your dexterity in using the
winged slippers.”

With these words, Quicksilver’s cap spread its
wings, as if his head were about to fly away from
his shoulders; but his whole figure rose lightly
into the air, and Perseus followed. By the time
they had ascended a few hundred feet, the young
man began to feel what a delightful thing it was
to leave the dull earth so far beneath him, and to
be able to flit about like a bird.

It was now deep night. Perseus looked up-
ward, and saw the round, bright, silvery moon,
and thought that he should desire nothing better
than to soar up thither, and spend his life there.
Then he looked downward again, and saw the
earth, with its seas and lakes, and the silver courses
of its rivers, and its snowy mountain-peaks, and
the breadth of its fields, and the dark cluster of
its woods, and its cities of white marble; and, with
the moonshine sleeping over the whole scene, it
was as beautiful as the moon or any star could be.
And, among other objects, he saw the island of
Seriphus, where his dear mother was. Some-
times he and Quicksilver approached a cloud that, —
at a distance, looked as if it were made of fleecy
silver; although, when they plunged into it, they
found themselves chilled and moistened with gray
mist. So swift was their flight, however, that, in
an instant, they emerged from the cloud into the
moonlight again. Once, a high-soaring eagle flew
right against the invisible Perseus. The bravest
sights were the meteors, that gleamed suddenly
out, as if,a bonfire had been kindled in the sky,


‘gas

THE GORGON’S HEAD 29

and made the moonshine pale for as much as a
hundred miles around them.

As the two companions flew onward, Perseus
fancied that he could hear the rustle of a garment
close by his side; and it was on the side opposite
to the one where he beheld Quicksilver, yet only
Quicksilver was visible.

“Whose garment is this,” inquired Perseus,
“that keeps rustling close beside me in the
breeze?” .

“Oh, it is my'sister’s!” answered Quicksilver.
“She is coming along with us, as I told you she
would. We could do nothing without the help
of my sister. You have no idea how wise she is.
She has such eyes, too! Why, she can see you,
at this moment, just as distinctly as if you were
not invisible; and Ill venture to say, she will be
the first to discover the Gorgons.”

By this time, in their swift voyage through the
air, they had come within sight of the great ocean,
and were soon flying over it. Far beneath them,
the waves tossed themselves tumultuously in mid-
sea, or rolled a white surf-line upon the long
beaches, or foamed against the rocky cliffs, with
a roar that was thunderous, in the lower world;
although it became a gentle murmur, like the
voice of a baby half asleep, before it reached the
ears of Perseus. Just then a voice spoke in the
air close by him. It seemed to be a woman’s
voice, and was melodious, though not exactly what
might be called sweet, but grave and mild.

“ Perseus,” said the voice, “there are the Gor-
gons.”
30 THE GORGON’S HEAD

“ Where?” exclaimed Perseus. “I cannot see
them.”

“On the shore of that island beneath you,” re-
plied the voice. “A pebble, dropped from your
hand, would strike in the midst of them.”

“TI told you she would be the first to discover
them,” said Quicksilver to Perseus. “And there
they are!”

Straight downward, two or three thousand feet
below him, Perseus perceived a small island, with
the sea breaking into white foam all around its
rocky shore, except on one side, where there was
a beach of snowy sand. He descended towards
it, and, looking earnestly at a cluster or heap of
brightness, at the foot of a precipice of black
rocks, behold, there were the terrible Gorgons!
They lay fast asleep, soothed by the thunder of
the sea; for it required a tumult that would have
deafened everybody else to lull such fierce crea-
tures into slumber. The moonlight glistened
on their steely scales, and on their golden wings,
which drooped idly over the sand. Their brazen
claws, horrible to look at, were thrust out, and
clutched the wave-beaten fragments of rock, while
the sleeping Gorgons dreamed of tearing some
poor mortal all to pieces. The snakes that served
them instead of hair seemed likewise to be asleep ;
although, now and then, one would writhe, and
lift its head, and thrust out its forked tongue,
emitting a drowsy hiss, and then let itself subside
among its sister snakes.

The Gorgons were more like an awful, gigantic
kind of insect, — immense, golden-winged beetles,’
THE GORGON’S HEAD 31

or dragon-flies, or things of that sort,—at once
ugly and beautiful, —than like anything else;
only that they were a thousand and a million
times as big. And, with all this, there was some-
thing partly human about them, too. Luckily for
Perseus, their faces were completely hidden from
him by the posture in which they lay; for, had he
but looked one instant at them, he would have
fallen heavily out of the air, an image of senseless
stone.

“ Now,” whispered Quicksilver, as he hovered
by the side of Perseus, — “now is your time to
do the deed! Be quick; for, if one of the Gorgons
should awake, you are too late!”

“Which shall I strike at?” asked Perseus,
drawing his sword and descending a little lower.
“ They all three look alike. All three have snaky
locks. Which of the three is Medusa?”

It must be understood that Medusa was the
only one of these dragon-monsters whose head
- Perseus could possibly cut off. As for the other
two, let him have the sharpest sword that ever
was forged, and he might have hacked away by
the hour together, without doing them the least
harm.

“ Be cautious,” said the calm voice which had
before spoken to him. “One of the Gorgons is
stirring in her sleep, and is just about to turn
over. That is Medusa. Do not look at her!
The sight would turn you to stone! Look at the
reflection of her face and figure in the bright mir-
ror of your shield.” ;

Perseus now understood Quicksilver’s motive
32 THE GORGON’S HEAD

for so earnestly exhorting him to polish his
shield. In its surface he could safely look at
the reflection of the Gorgon’s face. And there

it was, — that terrible countenance, — mirrored in, .

the brightness of the shield, with the moonlight
falling over it, and-displaying all its horror. The
snakes, whose venomous natures could not alto-
gether sleep, kept twisting themselves over the
forehead. It was the fiercest and most horrible
face that ever was seen or imagined, and yet with
a strange, fearful, and savage kind of beauty in it.
The eyes were closed, and the Gorgon was still in
a deep slumber ; but there was an unquiet expres-
sion disturbing her features, as if the monster was
troubled with an ugly dream. She gnashed her
white tusks, and dug into the sand with her bra-
zen claws.

The snakes, too, seemed to feel Medusa’s
dream, and to be made more restless by it. They
twined themselves into tumultuous knots, writhed
fiercely, and uplifted a hundred hissing heads,
without opening their eyes.

“ Now, now!” whispered Quicksilver, who was
growing impatient. “Make a dash at the mon-
ster!”

“ But be calm,” said the grave, melodious voice
at the young man’s side. “ Look in your shield,
as you fly downward, and take care that you do
not miss your first stroke.”

Perseus flew cautiously downward, still keep-
ing his eyes on Medusa’s face, as reflected in his
shield. The nearer he came, the more terrible
did the snaky visage and metallic body of the
“a

Y/N

u


THE GORGON’S HEAD 33

monster grow. At last, when he found himself
hovering over her within arm’s length, Perseus
uplifted his sword, while, at the same instant, each
separate snake upon the Gorgon’s head stretched
threateningly upward, and Medusa unclosed her
eyes. But she awoke too late. The sword was
sharp; the stroke fell like a lightning-flash ; and
the head of the wicked Medusa tumbled from her
body!

Agaehy done!” cried Quicksilver. “ Make
haste, and clap the head into your magic wallet.”

To the astonishment of Perseus, the small em-
broidered wallet, which he had hung about his
‘neck, and which had hitherto been no bigger than
a purse, grew all at once large enough to contain
Medusa’s head. As quick as thought, he snatched
it up, with the snakes still writhing upon it, and
thrust it in.

“Your task is done,” said the calm voice.
“Now fly; for the other Gorgons will do their
utmost to take vengeance for Medusa’s death.”

It was, indeed, necessary to take flight; for
Perseus had not done the deed so quietly but that
the clash of his sword, and the. hissing of the
snakes, and the thump of Medusa’s head as it
tumbled upon the sea-beaten sand, awoke the
other two monsters. There they sat, for an ine
stant, sleepily rubbing their eyes with their bra-
zen fingers, while all the snakes on their heads
reared themselves on end with surprise, and with
venomous malice against they knew not what.
But when the Gorgons saw the scaly carcass of
‘Medusa, headless, and her golden wings all ruf-
34 THE GORGON’S HEAD

fled, and half spread out on the sand, it was really
awful to hear what yells and screeches they set
up. And then the snakes! They sent forth a
hundred-fold hiss, with one consent, and Medusa’s
snakes answered them out of the magic wallet.

No sooner were the Gorgons broad awake than
they hurtled upward into the air, brandishing
their brass talons, gnashing their horrible tusks,
and flapping their huge wings so wildly that
some of the golden feathers were shaken out, and
floated down upon the shore. And there, perhaps,
those very feathers lie scattered, till this day. Up
rose the Gorgons, as I tell you, staring horribly
about, in hopes of turning somebody to stone.
Had Perseus looked them in the face, or had he
fallen into their clutches, his poor mother would
never have kissed her boy again! But he took
good care to turn his eyes another way; and, as
he wore the helmet of invisibility, the Gorgons
knew not in what direction to follow him; nor
did he fail to make the best use of the winged
slippers, by soaring upward a perpendicular mile
or so. At that height, when the screams of those
abominable creatures sounded faintly beneath
him, he made a straight course for the island of
Seriphus, in order to carry Medusa’s head to King
Polydectes.

I have no time to tell you of several marvelous
things that befell Perseus, on his way homeward ;
such as his killing a hideous sea-monster, just as it
was on the point of devouring a beautiful maiden ;
nor how he changed an enormous giant into a
mountain of stone, merely by showing him the
THE GORGON’S HEAD 35

head of the Gorgon. If you doubt this latter
story, you may make a voyage to Africa, some
day or other, and see the very mountain, which is
still known by the ancient giant’s name.

_ Finally, our brave Perseus arrived at the island,
where he expected to see his dear mother. But,
during his absence, the wicked king had treated
Danaé so very ill that she was compelled to make
her escape, and had taken refuge in a temple,
where some good old priests were extremely kind
to-her. These praiseworthy priests, and the kind.
hearted fisherman, who had first shown hospitality
to Danaé and little Perseus when he found them
afloat in the chest, seem to have been the only
persons on the island who cared about doing
right. All the rest of the people, as well as King
Polydectes himself, were remarkably ill-behaved,
and deserved no better destiny than that which
was now to happen.

Not finding his mother at home, Perseus went
straight to the palace, and was immediately ush-
ered into the presence of the king. Polydectes
was by no means rejoiced to see him; for he had
felt almost certain, in his own evil mind, that the
. Gorgons would have torn the poor young man to
pieces, and have eaten him up, out of the way.
However, seeing him safely returned, he put the
best face he could upon the matter and asked
Perseus how he had succeeded.

“ Have you performed your promise?” inquired
he. “ Have you brought’ me the head of Medusa
with the snaky locks? If not, young man, it will -
cost you dear; for I must havé a bridal present
36 THE GORGON’S HEAD

for the beautiful Princess Hippodamia, and there
_is nothing else that she would admire so much.”

“ Yes, please your Majesty,” answered Perseus,
in a quiet way, as if it were no very wonderful
deed for such a young man as he to perform. “I
have brought you the Gorgon’s head, snaky locks
and all!”

“Indeed! Pray let me see it,” quoth King
Polydectes. “It must be a very curious spectacle,
if all that travelers tell about it be true!”

“Your Majesty is in the right,” replied Perseus.
“It is really an object that will be pretty certain
to fix the regards of all who look at it. And, if
your Majesty think fit, I would suggest that a
holiday be proclaimed, and that all your Majesty’s
subjects be summoned to behold this wonderful
curiosity. Few of them, I imagine, have seen.a
Gorgon’s head before, and perhaps. never may
again!”

The king well knew that his subjects were an
idle set of reprobates, and very fond of sight-seeing,
as idle persons usually are. So he took the young
man’s advice, and sent out heralds and messen-
gers, in all directions, to blow the trumpet at the
street-corners, and in the market-places, and wher-
ever two roads met, and summon everybody to
court. Thither, accordingly, came a great multi-
tude of good-for-nothing vagabonds, all of whom,
out of pure love of mischief, would have been
glad if Perseus had met with some ill-hap in his
encounter with the Gorgons. If there were any
better people in the island (as I really hope there.
may have been, although the story tells nothing

THE GORGON’S HEAD 37

about any such), they stayed quietly at home, mind-
ing their business, and taking care of their little
children. Most of the inhabitants, at all events,
ran as fast as they could to the palace, and shoved,
and pushed, and elbowed one another, in their
eagerness to get near a balcony, on which Perseus
showed himself, holding the embroidered wallet
in his hand.

On a platform, within full view of the balcony,
sat the mighty King Polydectes, amid his evil
counselors, and with his flattering courtiers ina
semicircle round about him. Monarch, counsel-
ors, courtiers, and subjects, all gazed eagerly to-
wards Perseus.

“Show us the head! Show us the head!”
shouted the people; and there was a fierceness in
their cry as if they would tear Perseus to pieces,
unless he should satisfy them with what he had to
show. “Show us the head of Medusa with the
snaky locks!”

A feeling of sorrow and pity came over the
youthful Perseus.

“OQ King Polydectes,” cried he, “and ye many
people, I am very loath to show you the Gorgon’s
head!”

« Ah, the villain and coward!” yelled the peo-
ple, more fiercely than before. © He is making
game of us! He has no Gorgon’s head! Show
us the head, if you have it, or we will take your
own head for a football!”

The evil counselors whispered bad advice in
the king’s ear; the courtiers murmured, with one
consent, that Perseus had shown disrespect to
38 THE GORGON’S HEAD

their royal lord and master; and the great King
Polydectes himself waved his hand, and ordered
him, with the stern, deep voice of authority, on
his peril, to produce the head.

‘Show me the Gorgon’s head, or I will cut off
your own!”

And Perseus sighed.

“ This instant,” repeated Polydectes, “or you
die!”

“ Behold it, then!” cried Perseus, in a voice
like the blast of a trumpet.

And, suddenly holding up the head, not an
eyelid had time to wink before the wicked King
Polydectes, his evil counselors, and all his fierce
subjects were no longer anything but the mere
images of a monarch and his people. They were
all fixed, forever, in the look and attitude of that
moment! At the first glimpse of the terrible
head of Medusa, they whitened into marble!
And Perseus thrust the head back into his wallet,
and went to tell his dear mother that she need no
longer be afraid of the wicked King Polydectes.


‘ € ‘PORCH 'H]

NY



\ \ JAS not that a very fine story?” asked Lus-

tace.
“Oh, yes, yes!” cried Cowslip, clapping her
hands. “ And those funny old women, with only

one eye amongst them! I never heard of any-
thing so strange.”

“As to their one tooth, which they shifted
about,” observed Primrose, “there was nothing so
very wonderful in that. I suppose it was a false
tooth. But think of your turning Mercury into
Quicksilver, and talking about his sister! You
are too ridiculous!”

“ And was she not his sister?” asked Eustace
Bright. “If I had thought of it sooner, I would
have described her as a maiden lady, who kept a
pet owl!”

“Well, at any rate,” said Primrose, “ your story
seems to have driven away the mist.”

And, indeed, while the tale was going forward,
the vapors had been quite exhaled from the land-

39
40 TANGLEWOOD PORCH

scape. A scene was now disclosed which the
spectators might almost fancy as having been
created since they had last looked in the direction
where it lay. About half a mile distant, in ‘the
lap of the valley, now appeared a beautiful lake,
which reflected a perfect image of its own wooded
banks, and of the summits of the more distant
hills. It gleamed in glassy tranquillity, without
the trace of a winged breeze on any part of its
bosom. Beyond its farther shore was Monument
Mountain, in a recumbent position, stretching al-
most across the valley. Eustace Bright compared
it to a huge, headless sphinx, wrapped in a Persian
shawl; and, indeed, so rich and diversified was the
autumnal foliage of its woods, that the simile of
the shawl was by no means too high-colored for
the reality. In the lower ground, between Tan-
glewood and the lake, the clumps of trees and
borders of woodland were chiefly golden-leaved or
dusky brown, as having suffered more from frost
than the foliage on the hillsides,
Over all this scene there was a genial sunshine,
intermingled with a slight haze, which made it

unspeakably soft and tender. Oh, what a day of.

Indian summer was it going to be! The children
snatched their baskets, and set forth, with hop,
skip, and jump, and all sorts of frisks and gam-
bols ; while Cousin Eustace proved his fitness to
preside over the party, by outdoing all their antics,
and performing several new capers, which none
of them could ever hope to imitate. Behind went
a good old dog, whose name was Ben. He was
one of the most respectable and kind-hearted of
TANGLEWOOD PORCH 41

quadrupeds, and probably felt it to be his duty not
to trust the children away from their parents with-
out some better guardian than this feather-brained
Eustace Bright.












\ INTRODUCTORY TO
€ THE GOLDEN TOUCH

} T noon, our juvenile party ~
assembled in a dell, through
| the depths of which ran a
ff little brook. The dell was
MC lt =} narrow, and its steep sides,
from the margin of the stream upward, were
thickly set with trees, chiefly walnuts and chest-
nuts, among which grew a few oaks and maples.
In the summer time, the shade of so many clus-
tering branches, meeting and intermingling across
the rivulet, was deep enough to produce a noon-
tide twilight. Hence came the name of Shadow
Brook. But now, ever since autumn had crept
into this secluded place, all the dark verdure was
changed to gold, so that it really kindled up the .
dell, instead of shading it. The bright yellow
leaves, even had it been a cloudy day, would
have seemed to keep the sunlight among them ;
and enough of them had fallen to strew all the
bed and margin of the brook with sunlight, too.
Thus the shady nook, where summer had cooled

42
SHADOW BROOK _ 43

herself, was now the sunniest spot anywhere to -
be found. :

The little brook ran along over its pathway of
gold, here pausing to form a pool, in which min-
nows were darting to and fro; and then it hurried
onward at a swifter pace, as if in haste to reach
the lake; and, forgetting to look whither it went,
it tumbled over the root of a tree, which stretched
quite across its current. You would have laughed
_to hear how noisily it babbled about this accident.
And even after it had run onward, the brook still
kept talking to itself, as if it were in a maze. It
was wonder-smitten, I suppose, at finding its dark
dell so illuminated, and at hearing the prattle and
merriment of so many children. So it stole away
as quickly as it could, and hid itself in the lake.

In the dell of Shadow Brook, Eustace Bright
and his little friends had eaten their dinner. They
had brought plenty of good things from Tangle-
wood, in their baskets, and had spread them out
on the stumps of trees and on mossy trunks, and
had feasted merrily, and made a very nice dinner
indeed. After it was over, nobody felt like stir-

ring.
“We will rest ourselves here,” said several of
the children, “while Cousin Eustace tells us an-
other of his pretty stories.”

Cousin Eustace had a good right to be tired, as
well as the children, for he had> performed great
feats on that memorable forenoon. Dandelion,
Clover, Cowslip, and Buttercup were almost per-
suaded that he had winged slippers, like those
which the Nymphs gave Perseus; so often had
44 SHADOW BROOK

the student shown himself at the tiptop of a nut-
tree, when only a moment before he had been
standing on the ground. And then, what showers
of walnuts had he sent rattling down upon their
heads, for their busy little hands to gather into
the baskets! In short, he had been as active as a
squirrel or a monkey, and now, flinging himself
down on the yellow leaves, seemed inclined to
take a little rest.

But children have no mercy nor consideration
for anybody’s weariness; and if you had but a
single breath left, they would ask you to spend it
in telling them a story.

“Cousin Eustace,” said Cowslip, “that was a
very nice story of the Gorgon’s Head. Do you
think you could tell us another as good? ”

“Yes, child,” said Eustace, pulling the brim of
his cap over his eyes, as if preparing for a nap.
“Ican tell you a dozen, as good or better, if I
choose.”

“O Primrose and Periwinkle, do you hear what
he says?” cried Cowslip, dancing with delight.
“Cousin Eustace is going to tell us a dozen bet-
ter stories than that about the Gorgon’s Head!”

“I did not promise you even one, you fool-
ish little Cowslip!” said Eustace, half pettishly.
“ However, I suppose you must have it. This is
the consequence of having earned a reputation!
I wish I were a great deal duller than I am, or

_ that I had never shown half the bright qualities ©

with which nature has endowed me; and then I
might have my nap out, in peace and comfort!”
But Cousin Eustace, as I think I have hinted
SHADOW BROOK 45

before, was as fond of telling his stories as the
children of hearing them. His mind was in a
free and happy state, and took delight in its own
activity, and scarcely required any external im-
pulse to set it at work.

How different is this spontaneous play of the
intellect from the trained diligence of maturer
years, when toil has perhaps grown easy by long
habit, and the day’s work may have become essen-
tial to the day’s comfort, although the rest of the
matter has bubbled away! This remark, however,
is not meant for the children to hear.

Without further solicitation, Eustace Bright
proceeded to tell the following really splendid
story. It had come into his mind as he lay look-
ing upward into the depths of a tree, and. observ-
ing how the touch of Autumn had’ transmuted
every one of its green leaves into what resembled
the purest gold. And this change, which we have
all of us witnessed, is as wonderful as anything
that Eustace told about in the story of Midas.



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Viet

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CE upon a time, there lived
a very rich man, and a king
besides, whose name was M1i-
dass)"and. he Jhad.a. little
daughter, whom nobody but
myself ever heard of, and
whose name I either never
knew, or have entirely forgotten. So, because I
love odd names for little girls, I choose to call
her Marygold.

This King Midas was fonder of gold than of
anything else in the world. He valued his royal
crown chiefly because it was composed of that
precious metal. If he loved anything better, or
half so well, it was the one little maiden who
played so merrily around her father’s footstool.
But the more Midas loved his daughter, the more
did he desire and seek for wealth. He thought,
foolish man! that the best thing he could possi-
bly do for this dear child would be to bequeath
her the immensest pile of yellow, glistening coin,
that had ever been heaped together since the world
was made. Thus, he oe all his thoughts and

4

LQ)
THE GOLDEN TOUCH _ 47.

all his time to this one purpose. If ever he hap-
pened to gaze for an instant at the gold-tinted
clouds of sunset, he wished that they were real
gold, and that they could be squeezed safely into
his strong box. When little Marygold ran to
meet him, with a bunch of buttercups and dande-
lions, he used to say, “ Poh, poh, child! If these
flowers were as golden as they look, they would
be worth the plucking!”

And yet, in his earlier days, before he was so _
entirely possessed of this insane desire for riches,
King Midas had shown a great taste for flowers.
He had planted a garden, in which grew the big-
gest and beautifullest and sweetest roses that any
mortal ever saw or smelt. These roses were still
growing in the garden, as large, as lovely, and as
fragrant,as when Midas used to pass whole hours
in gazing at them, and inhaling their perfume.
But now, if he looked at them at all, it was only
to calculate how much the garden would be worth
if each of the innumerable rose-petals were a thin
plate of gold. And though he once was fond of
music (in spite of an idle story about his ears,
which were said to resemble those of an ass), the
only music for poor Midas, now, was the chink of
one coin against another.

At length (as people always grow more and
more foolish, unless they take care to grow wiser
and wiser), Midas had got to be so exceedingly
unreasonable, that he could scarcely bear to see
or touch any object that was not gold. He made
it his custom, therefore, to pass a large portion of
every day in a dark and dreary apartment, under
48 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

ground, at the basement of his palace. It was
here that he kept his wealth. To this dismal hole
— for it was little better than a dungeon — Midas
betook himself, whenever he wanted to be partic-
ularly happy. Here, after carefully locking the
door, he would take a bag of gold coin, or a gold
cup as big as a washbowl, or a heavy golden bar,
or a peck-measure of gold-dust, and bring them
from the obscure corners of the room into the one
bright and narrow sunbeam that fell from the
dungeon-like window. He valued the sunbeam
for no other reason but that his treasure would
not shine without its help. And then would he
reckon over the coins in the bag; toss up the bar,
~ and catch it as it came down; sift the gold-dust
through his fingers; look at the funny image of
his own face, as reflected in the burnished circum-
ference of the cup; and whisper to himself, “O
Midas, rich King Midas, what a happy man art
thou!” But it was laughable to see how the
image of his face kept grinning at him, out of the
polished surface of the cup. It seemed to be
aware of his foolish behavior, and to have anaughty
inclination to make fun of him.

Midas called himself a happy man, but felt that
he was not yet quite so happy as he might be.
The very tiptop of enjoyment would never be
reached, unless the whole world were to become
his treasure-room, and be filled with yellow metal
which should be all his own.

Now, I need hardly remind such wise little
people as you are, that in the old, old times, when
King Midas was alive, a great many things came
THE GOLDEN TOUCH 49

to pass, which we should consider wonderful if
they were to happen in our own day and country.
And, on the other hand, a great many things take
place nowadays, which seem not only wonderful
to us, but at which the people of old times would
have stared their eyes out. On the whole, I re- .
gard our own times.as the strangest of the two;
but, however that may be, I must go on with my
story.

Midas was enjoying himself in his treasure-".
room, one day, as usual, when he perceived a
shadow fall over the heaps of gold; and, looking
suddenly up, what should he behold but the figure
of a stranger, standing in the bright and narrow
sunbeam! It was a young man, with a cheerful
and ruddy face. Whether it was that the imagi-
nation of King Midas threw a yellow tinge over
everything, or whatever the cause might be, he
could not help fancying that the smile with which
the stranger regarded him had a kind of golden
radiance in it. Certainly, although his figure in-
tercepted the sunshine, there was now a brighter
gleam upon all the piled-up treasures than before.
Even the remotest corners had their share of it,
and were lighted up, when the stranger smiled, as
with tips of flame and sparkles of fire.

As Midas knew that he had carefully turned
the key in the lock, and that no mortal strength
could possibly break into his treasure-room, he, of
course, concluded that his visitor must be some-
thing more than mortal. It is no matter about
telling you who he was. In those days, when the
earth was comparatively a new affair, it was sup-
50 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

posed to be often the resort of beings endowed
with supernatural power, and who used to interest
themselves in the joys and sorrows of men, women,
and children, half playfully and half seriously.
Midas had met such beings before now, and was
not sorry to meet one of them again. The stran-
ger’s aspect, indeed, was so good-humored and
kindly, if not beneficent, that it would have been
unreasonable to suspect him of intending any mis-
chief. It was far more probable that he came to
do Midas afavor. And what could that favor be,
unless to multiply his heaps of treasure?

‘The stranger gazed about the room; and when
his lustrous smile had glistened upon all the golden
objects that were there, he turned again to Midas.

“Vou are a wealthy man, friend Midas!” he
observed. “I doubt whether any other four walls,
on earth, contain so much gold as you have con-
« trived to pile up in this room.”

* “T have done pretty well, — pretty well,” an-
swered Midas, in a discontented tone. “ But,
after all, it is but a trifle, when you consider that
it has taken me my whole life to get it together.
If one could live a thousand years, he might have
time to grow rich!” .

“ What!” exclaimed the stranger. “ Then you
are not satisfied? ”

Midas shook his head.

“ And pray what would satisfy you?” asked the
stranger. “ Merely for the curiosity of the thing,
I should be glad to know.”

Midas paused and meditated. He felt a pre-
sentiment that this stranger, with such a golden

THE GOLDEN TOUCH 52

lustre in his good-humored smile, had come hither
with both the power and the purpose of gratifying
his utmost wishes. Now, therefore, was the for-
tunate moment, when he had but to speak, and
obtain whatever possible, or seemingly impossible
thing, it might come into his head to ask. So he
thought, and thought, and thought, and heaped
up one golden mountain upon another, in his
imagination, without being able to imagine them
big enough. At last, a bright idea occurred to
King Midas. It seemed really as bright as the
glistening metal which he loved so much.

Raising his head, he looked the lustrous stran-
ger in the face.

“ Well, Midas,” observed his visitor, “I see that
you have at length hit upon something that will
satisfy you. Tell me your wish.”

“It is only this,” replied Midas. “I am weary
of collecting my treasures with so much trouble,
and beholding the heap so diminutive, after I have
done my best. I wish everything that I touch to
be changed to gold!”

The stranger’s smile grew so very broad, that it
seemed to fill the room like an outburst of the
sun, gleaming into a shadowy dell, where the yel-
low autumnal leaves —for §0 looked the lumps
ris particles of gold — lie strewn in the glow of
ight.

“The Golden Touch!” exclaimed he. “You
certainly deserve credit, friend Midas, for striking
out so brilliant a conception. But are you quite
sure that this will satisfy you?”

“ How could it fail?” said Midas.
52 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

“ And will you never regret the possession of
it?”

“ What could induce me?” asked Midas. “I
ask nothing else, to render me perfectly happy.”

“ Be it as you wish, then,” replied the stranger,
waving his hand in token of farewell. “ To-mor-
row, at sunrise, you will find yourself gifted with
the Golden Touch.”

The figure of the stranger then became exceed-
ingly bright, and Midas involuntarily closed his
eyes. On opening them again, he beheld only
one yellow sunbeam in the room, and, all around
him, the glistening of the precious metal which he
had spent his life in hoarding up.

Whether Midas slept as usual that night, the
story does not say. Asleep or awake, however,
his mind was probably in the state of a child’s, to
whom a beautiful new plaything has been prom-
ised in the morning. At any rate, day had hardly
peeped over the hills, when King Midas was broad
awake, and, stretching his arms out of bed, began
to touch the objects that were within reach. He
was anxious to prove whether the Golden Touch
had really come, according to the stranger’s prom-
ise. So he laid his finger on a chair by the bed-
side, and on various other things, but was griev-
ously disappointed to perceive that they remained
of exactly the same substance as before. Indeed,
he felt very much afraid that he had only dreamed
about the lustrous stranger, or else that the latter
had been making game of him. And what a mis-
erable affair would it be, if, after all his hopes,
Midas must content himself with what little gold
THE GOLDEN TOUCH 53

he could scrape together by ordinary means, in-
stead of creating it by a touch!

All this while, it was only the gray of the morn-
ing, with but a streak of brightness along the
edge of the sky, where Midas could not see it.
He lay in a very disconsolate mood, regretting
the downfall of his hopes, and kept growing sad-
der and sadder, until the earliest sunbeam shone
through the window, and gilded the ceiling over
his head. It seemed to Midas that this bright
yellow sunbeam was reflected in rather a singular
way on the white covering of the bed. Looking
more closely, what was his astonishment and de-
light, when he found that this linen fabric had
been transmuted to what seemed a woven texture
of the purest and brightest gold! The Golden
Touch had come to him with the first sunbeam!

Midas started up, in a kind of joyful frenzy, and

ran about the room, grasping at everything that -

happened to be in his way. He seized one of the.
bed-posts, and it became immediately a fluted .
golden pillar. He pulled aside a window-curtain,
in order to admit a clear spectacle of the wonders
which he was performing; and the tassel grew
heavy in his hand, —a mass of gold. He took up
a book from the table. At his first touch, it as-
sumed the appearance of such a splendidly bound
and gilt-edged volume as one often meets with,
nowadays; but, on running his fingers through
the leaves, behold! it was a bundle of thin golden
plates, in which all the wisdom of the book had
grown illegible. He hurriedly put on his clothes,
and was enraptured to see himself in a magnifi-
54 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

cent suit of gold cloth, which retained its flexi-
bility and softness, although it burdened him a
little with its weight. He drew out his handker-
chief, which little Marygold had hemmed for him.
That was likewise gold, with the dear child's neat
and pretty stitches running all along the border,
in gold thread !

Somehow or other, this last transformation did
not quite please King Midas. He would rather
that his little daughter's handiwork should have
remained just the same as when she climbed’ his
knee and put it into his hand. .

But it was not worth while to vex himself about
a trifle. Midas now took his spectacles from his
pocket, and put them on his nose, in order that
he might see more distinctly what he was about.
In those days, spectacles for common people had
not been invented, but were already worn by kings ;
else, how could Midas have had any? To his
great perplexity, however, excellent as the glasses
were, he discovered that he could not possibly see
through them. But this was the most natural
thing in the world; for, on taking them off, the
transparent crystal turned out to be plates of yel-
low metal, and, of course, were worthless as spec-
tacles, though valuable as gold. It struck Midas
~ as rather inconvenient that, with all his wealth, he
could never again be rich enough to own a pair
of serviceable spectacles.

“It is no great matter, nevertheless,” said he to
himself, very philosophically. “We cannot expect
any great good, without its being accompanied
with some small inconvenience. The Golden




THE GOLDEN TOUCH gs

Touch is worth the sacrifice of a pair of specta-
cles, at least, if not of one’s very eyesight. My
own eyes will serve for ordinary purposes, and little
Marygold will soon be old enough to read to me.”

Wise King Midas was so exalted by his good
fortune, that the palace seemed not sufficiently
spacious to contain him. He ‘therefore went
downstairs, and smiled, on observing that the bal-
ustrade of the staircase became a bar of burnished
gold, as his hand passed over it, in his descent.
He lifted the door-latch (it was brass only a mo-
ment ago, but golden when his fingers quitted it),
and emerged into the garden. Here, as it hap-
pened, he found a great number of beautiful roses
in full bloom, and others in all the stages of lovely
bud and blossom. Very delicious was their fra-
grance in the morning breeze. Their delicate
blush was one of the fairest sights in the world;
so gentle, so modest, and so full of sweet tranquil-
lity, did these roses seem to be. j

But Midas knew a way to make them far more
precious, according to his way of thinking, than
roses had ever been before. So he took great
pains in going from bush to bush, and exercised
his magic touch most indefatigably; until every
individual flower and bud, and even the worms at
the heart of some of them, were changed to gold.
By the time this good work was completed, King
Midas was summoned to breakfast; and as the
morning air had given him an excellent appetite,
he made haste back to the palace.

What was usually a king’s breakfast in the days
of Midas, I really do not know, and cannot stop
56 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

now to investigate. To the best of my belief, how-
ever, on this particular morning, the breakfast
consisted of hot cakes, some nice little brook
trout, roasted potatoes, fresh boiled eggs, and
coffee, for King Midas himself, and a bowl of
bread and milk for his daughter Marygold. At
all events, this is a breakfast fit to set before a
king; and, whether he had it or not, King Midas
could not have had a better.

Little Marygold had not yet made her appear-
ance. Her father ordered her to be called, and,
seating himself at table, awaited the child’s com-
ing, in order to begin his own breakfast. To do
Midas justice, he really loved his daughter, and
loved her so much the more this morning, on ac-
count of the good fortune which had befallen
him. It was not a great while before he heard
her coming along the passageway crying bitterly.
This circumstance surprised him, because Mary-
gold was one of the cheerfullest little people whom
you would see in a summer’s day, and hardly shed
a thimbleful of tears in a twelvemonth. When
Midas heard her sobs, he determined to put little
Marygold into better spirits, by an agreeable sur-
prise; so, leaning across the table, he touched his
daughter’s bowl (which was a China one, with
pretty figures all around it), and transmuted it to
gleaming gold.

Meanwhile, Marygold slowly and disconsolately
opened the door, and showed herself with her
apron at her eyes, still sobbing as if her heart
would break.

“How now, my little lady!” cried Midas.


THE GOLDEN TOUCH 57

“Pray what is the matter with you, this bright
morning? ”

Marygold, without taking the apron from her
eyes, held out her hand, in which was one of the
roses which Midas had so recently transmuted.

“Beautiful!” exclaimed her father. “ And
what is there in this magnificent golden rose to
make you cry?”

“ Ah, dear father!” answered the child, as well
as her sobs would let her; “it is not beautiful, but
the ugliest flower that ever grew! As soon as I
was dressed I ran into the garden to gather some
roses for you; because I know you like them,
and like them the better when gathered by your
little daughter. But, oh dear, dear me! What
do you think has happened? Such a misfortune!
All the beautiful roses, that smelled so sweetly
and had so many lovely blushes, are blighted and
spoilt! They are grown quite yellow, as you see
this one, and have no longer any fragrance!
What can have been the matter with them?”

“Poh, my dear little girl,—pray don’t cry
about it!” said Midas, who was ashamed to con-
fess that he himself had wrought the change
which so greatly afflicted her. “Sit down and
eat your bread and milk! ‘You will find it easy
enough to exchange a golden rose like that
(which will last hundreds of years) for an ordinary
one which would wither in a day.”

“I don’t care for such roses as this!” cried
Marygold, tossing it contemptuously away. “It
has = smell, and the hard petals prick my
nose!
58 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

The child now sat down to table, but was so

occupied with her grief for the blighted roses that
she did not even notice the wonderful transmuta-
tion of her China bowl. Perhaps this was all the
better; for Marygold was accustomed to take
pleasure in looking at the queer figures, and
‘strange trees and houses, that were painted on
the circumference of the bowl; and these orna-
ments were now entirely lost in the yellow hue of
the metal.

Midas, meanwhile, had poured out a cup of
coffee, and, as a matter of course, the coffee-pot,
whatever metal it may have been when he took
it up, was gold when he set it down. He thought
to himself, that it was rather an extravagant style
of splendor, in a king of his simple habits, to
breakfast off a service of gold, and began to be
puzzled with the difficulty of keeping his treasures
safe. The cupboard and the kitchen would no
longer be a secure place of deposit for articles so
valuable as golden bowls and coffee-pots.

Amid these thoughts, he lifted a spoonful of
coffee to his lips, and, sipping it, was astonished
to perceive that, the instant his lips touched the
liquid, it became molten gold, and, the next mo-
ment, hardened into a lump!

“Ha!” exclaimed Midas, rather aghast.

“What is the matter, father?” asked little
Marygold, gazing at him, with the tears still
standing in her eyes. oo

“Nothing, child, nothing!” said Midas. “Eat
your milk, before it gets quite cold.”

He took one of the nice little trouts on his




THE GOLDEN TOUCH 59

plate, and, by way of experiment, touched its tail
with his finger. To his horror, it was immediately
transmuted from an admirably fried brook-trout
into a gold-fish, though not one of those gold-
fishes which people often keep in glass globes, as
ornaments for the parlor. No; but it was really
a metallic fish, and looked as if it had been very
cunningly made by the nicest goldsmith in the
world. Its little bones were now golden wires;
its fins and tail were thin plates of gold; and there
were the marks of the fork'in it, and all the deli-
cate, frothy appearance of a nicely fried fish, ex-
actly imitated in metal. A very pretty piece of
work, as you may suppose; only King Midas,
just at that moment, would much rather have had
areal trout in his dish than this elaborate and
valuable imitation of one.

“ T don’t quite see,” thought he to himself, “ how
I am to get any breakfast.”

He took one of the smoking-hot cakes, and had
scarcely broken it, when, to his cruel mortifica-
tion, though, a moment before, it had been of the
whitest wheat, it assumed the yellow hue of Indian
meal. To say the truth, if it had really been a hot
Indian cake, Midas would have prized it a good
deal more than he now did, when its solidity and
increased weight made him too bitterly sensible
that it was gold. Almost in despair, he helped
himself to a boiled egg, which immediately under-
went a change similar to those of the trout and
the cake. The egg, indeed, might have been
mistaken for one of those which the famous
oose, in the story-book, was in the habit of lay-
60 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

ing; but King Midas was the only goose that had
anything to do with the matter.

“ Well, this is a quandary!” thought he, lean-
ing back in his chair, and looking quite enviously
at little Marygold, who was now eating her bread
and milk with great satisfaction. “Such a costly
breakfast before me, and nothing that can be
eaten |”

Hoping that, by dint of great dispatch, he
might avoid what he now felt to be a considerable
inconvenience, King Midas next snatched a hot
potato, and attempted to cram it into his mouth,
and swallow it ina hurry. But the Golden Touch
was too nimble for him. He found his mouth
full, not of mealy potato, but of solid metal,
which so burnt his tongue that he roared aloud,
and, jumping up from the table, began to dance
and stamp about the room, both with pain and
affright. Ls

«Father, dear father!” cried little Marygold,
who was avery affectionate child, “pray what is
the matter? Have you burnt your mouth?”

“ Ah, dear child,” groaned Midas, dolefully, “ I
don’t know what is to become of your poor fa-
ther!”

And, truly, my dear little folks, did you ever
hear of such a pitiable case in all your lives?
Here was literally the richest breakfast that could
be set before a king, and its very richness made
it absolutely good for nothing. The poorest la-
borer, sitting down to his crust of bread and cup
of water, was far better off than King Midas,
whose delicate food was really worth its weight in


THE GOLDEN TOUCH 6x

gold. And what was to be done? Already, at
breakfast, Midas was excessively hungry. Would
he be less so by dinner time? And how rav-
enous would be his appetite for supper, which
must undoubtedly consist of the same sort of in-
digestible dishes as those now before him! How
many days, think you, would he survive a con-
tinuance of this rich fare?

These reflections so troubled wise King Midas,
that he began to doubt whether,. after all, riches
are the one desirable thing in the world, or even
the most desirable. But this was only a passing
thought. So fascinated was Midas with the glit-
ter of the yellow metal, that he would still have
refused to give up the Golden Touch for so pal-
try a consideration as a breakfast. Just imagine
what a price for one meal’s victuals! It would
have been the same as paying millions and mil-
lions of money (and as many millions more as
would take forever to reckon up) for some fried
trout, an egg,a potato, a hot cake, and a cup of
coffee !

“ It would be quite too dear,” thought Midas.

Nevertheless, so great was his hunger, and the
perplexity of his situation, that he again groaned
aloud, and very grievously too. Our pretty Mary-
gold could endure it no longer. She sat, a mo-
ment, gazing at her father, and trying, with all the
might of her little wits, to find out what was the
matter with him. Then, with a sweet and sorrow-
ful impulse to comfort him, she started from her
chair, and, running to Midas, threw her arms af-
fectionately about his knees. He bent down and
60:1 - THE GOLDEN TOUCH

kissed her. He felt that his little daughter’s love
was worth a thousand times more than he had
gained by the Golden Touch.

“ My precious, precious Marygold!” cried he.

But Marygold made no answer.

Alas, what had he done? How fatal was the
gift which the stranger bestowed! The moment
the lips of Midas touched Marygold’s forehead,
a change had taken place. Her sweet, rosy face,
so full of affection as it had been, assumed a glit-
tering yellow color, with yellow tear-drops con-
gealing on her cheeks. Her beautiful brown
ringlets took the same tint. Her soft and tender
little form grew hard and inflexible within her
father’s encircling arms. Oh, terrible misfortune !
The victim of his insatiable desire for wealth, lit-
tle Marygold was a human child no longer, but a
golden statue!

Yes, there she was, with the questioning look
of love, grief, and pity, hardened into her face.
It was the prettiest and most woeful sight that
ever mortal saw. All the features and tokens of
Marygold were there; even the beloved little
dimple remained in her golden chin. But the
more perfect was the resemblance, the greater was
the father’s agony at beholding this golden image,
which was all that was left him of a daughter. It
had been a favorite phrase of Midas, whenever he
felt particularly fond of the child, to say that she
was worth her weight in gold. And now the
phrase had become literally true. And now, at
last, when it was too late, he felt how infinitely a
warm and tender heart, that loved him, exceeded

THE GOLDEN TOUCH 63

in value all the wealth that could be piled up be-
twixt the earth and sky!

It would be too sad a story, if I were to tell you
how Midas, in the fullness of all his gratified de-
sires, began to wring his hands and bemoan him-
self; and how he could neither bear to look at
Marygold, nor yet to look away from her. Except
when his eyes were fixed on the image, he could
not possibly believe that she was changed to gold.
But, stealing another glance, there was the precious
little figure, with a yellow tear-drop on its yellow
cheek, and a look so piteous and tender, that it
seemed as if that very expression must needs
soften the gold, and make it flesh again. This,
however, could not be. So Midas had only to
wring his hands, and to wish that he were the
poorest man in the wide world, if the loss of all
‘his wealth might bring back the faintest rose-color
to his dear child’s face.

While he was in this tumult of despair, he
suddenly beheld a stranger standing near the
door. Midas bent down his head, without speak-
ing; for he recognized the same figure which had
appeared to him, the day before, in the treasure-
room, and had bestowed on him this disastrous
faculty of the Golden Touch. The stranger’s
countenance still wore a smile, which seemed
to shed a yellow lustre all about the room, and
gleamed on little Marygold’s image, and on the
other objects that had been transmuted by the
touch of Midas.

“Well, friend Midas,” said the stranger, “ pray
how do you succeed with the Golden Touch?”
64 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

Midas shook his head.

_ “Tam very miserable,” said he.

“Very miserable, indeed!” exclaimed the stran-
ger. “And how happens that? Have I not
faithfully kept my promise with you? Have you
not everything that your heart desired?”

“Gold is not everything,’ answered Midas.
“And I have lost all that my heart really cared
for.”

“Ah! So you have made a discovery, since
yesterday ?” observed the stranger. “ Let us see,
‘then. Which of these two things do you think
is really worth the most, — the gift of the Golden
Touch, or one cup of clear cold water?” :

“O blessed water!” exclaimed Midas. “ It will
never moisten my parched throat again!”

“ The Golden Touch,” continued the stranger,
“or a crust of bread?”

“ A piece of bread,” answered Midas, “is worth
all the gold on earth!”

“ The Golden Touch,” asked the stranger, “or
your own little Marygold, warm, soft, and loving
as she was an hour ago?”

“Oh, my child, my dear child!” cried poor
Midas, wringing his hands. “I would not have
given that one small dimple in her chin for the
power of changing this whole big earth into a
solid lump of gold!”

“You are wiser than you were, King Midas!”
said the stranger, looking seriously at him.
“ Your own heart, I perceive, has not been entirely
changed from flesh to gold. Were it so, your
case would indeed be desperate. But you appear
THE GOLDEN TOUCH 65

to be still capable of understanding that the com-
monest things, such as lie within everybody’s
grasp, are more valuable than the riches which so
many mortals sigh and struggle after. Tell me,
now, do you sincerely desire to rid yourself of this
Golden Touch?”

“It is hateful to me!” replied Midas.

A fly settled on his nose, but immediately fell .
to the floor; for it, too, had become gold. Midas
shuddered.

“ Go, then,” said the stranger, “and plunge into
the river that glides past the bottom of your gar-
den. Take likewise a vase of the same water, and
sprinkle it over any object that you may desire to
change back again from gold into its former sub-
stance. If you do this in earnestness and sin-
cerity, it may possibly repair the mischief which
your avarice has occasioned.”

King Midas bowed low; and when he lifted his
head, the lustrous stranger had vanished.

You will easily believe that Midas lost no time
in snatching up a great earthen pitcher (but, alas
me! it was no longer earthen after he touched
it), and hastening to the river-side. As he scam-
pered along, and. forced his way through the
shrubbery, it was positively marvelous to see how
the foliage turned yellow behind him, as if the
autumn had been there, and nowhere else. On
reaching the river’s brink, he plunged headlong
in, without waiting so much as to pull off his
shoes.

“Poof! poof! poof!” snorted King Midas, as
his head emerged out of the water. “Well; this
66 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

is really a refreshing bath, and I think it must
have quite washed away the Golden Touch. And
now for filling my pitcher!”

As he dipped the pitcher into the water, it glad-
dened his very heart to see it change from gold
into the same good, honest earthen vessel which
it had been before he touched it. He was con-
scious, also, of a change within himself. A cold,
hard, and heavy weight seemed to have gone out
of his bosom. No doubt, his heart had been grad-
ually losing its human substance, and transmuting
itself into insensible metal, but had now softened
back again into flesh. Perceiving a violet, that
grew on the bank of the river, Midas touched it
with his finger, and was overjoyed to find that the
delicate flower retained its purple hue, instead of
undergoing a yellow blight. The curse of the
Golden Touch had, therefore, really been removed
from him. .

King Midas hastened back to the palace; and,
I suppose, the servants knew not what to make
of it when they saw their royal master so carefully
bringing home an earthen pitcher of water. But
that water, which was to undo all the mischief that
his folly had wrought, was more precious to Midas
than an ocean of molten gold could have been.
The first thing he did, as you need hardly be told,
was to sprinkle it by handfuls over the golden
figure of little Marygold.

No sooner did it fall on her than you would
have laughed to see how the rosy color came back
to the dear child’s cheek! and how she began to
sneeze and sputter!—and how astonished she

THE GOLDEN TOUCH 67

was to find herself dripping wet, and her father
still throwing more water over her !

“ Pray do not, dear father!” cried she. “See
how you have wet my nice frock, which I put on
only this morning!”

For Marygold did not know that she had been
a little golden statue; nor could she remember
anything that had happened since the moment
when she ran with outstretched arms to comfort
poor King Midas.

Her father did not think it necessary to tell
his beloved child how very foolish he had been,
but contented himself with showing how much
wiser he had now grown. For this purpose, he led
little Marygold into the garden, where he sprin-
kled all the remainder of the water over the rose-
bushes, and with such good effect that above five
thousand roses recovered their beautiful bloom.
There were two circumstances, however, which, as
long as he lived, used to put King Midas in mind
of the Golden Touch. One was, that the sands of
the river sparkled like gold; the other, that little
Marygold’s hair had now a golden tinge, which he
had never observed in it before she had been
transmuted by the effect of his kiss. This change
of hue was really an improvement, and made
Marygold’s hair richer than in her babyhood.

When King Midas had grown quite an old
man, and used to trot Marygold’s children on his
knee, he was fond of telling them this marvelous
story, pretty much as I have now told it to you.
And then would he stroke their glossy ringlets,
and tell them that their hair, likewise, had a rich
68 THE GOLDEN TOUCH

shade of gold, which they had inherited from their
mother.

“And to tell you the truth, my precious little
folks,” quoth King Midas, diligently trotting the
children all the while, “ever since that morning,
I have hated the very sight of all other gold, save
this!”





ELL, children,” inquired Eus-
tace, who was very fond of
eliciting a definite opinion.
from his auditors, “did you
ever, in all your lives, listen
to a better story than this of
‘The Golden Touch’?”
“Why, as to the story of King Midas,” said
saucy Primrose, “it was a famous one thousands
of years before Mr. Eustace Bright came into the
world, and will continue to be so long after he
quits it. But some people have what we may call
‘The Leaden Touch,’ and make everything dull
and heavy that they lay their fingers upon.”
“You are a smart child, Primrose, to be not
yet in your teens,” said Eustace, taken rather
aback by the piquancy of her criticism. “But
you well know, in your naughty little heart, that
I have burnished the old gold of Midas all over
anew, and have made it shine as it never shone
before. And then that figure of Marygold! Do
you perceive no nice workmanship in that? And
how finely I have brought out and deepened the
69
70 SHADOW BROOK

moral! What say you, Sweet Fern, Dandelion,
Clover, Periwinkle? Would any of you, after
hearing this story, be so foolish as to desire the
faculty of changing things to gold?”

“T should like,” said Periwinkle, a girl of ten,
“to have the power of turning everything to gold
with my right forefinger; but, with my left fore-
finger, I should want the power of changing it
back again, if the first change did not please me.
And I know what I would do, this very after-
noon!”

“ Pray tell me,” said Eustace.

“Why,” answered Periwinkle, “I would touch
every one of these golden leaves on the trees with
my left forefinger, and make them all green again;
so that we might have the summer back at once,
with no ugly winter in the mean time.”

“O Periwinkle!” cried Eustace Bright, “there
you are wrong, and would do a great deal of mis-
chief. Were I Midas, I would make nothing
else but just such golden days as these over and
over again, all the year throughout. My best
thoughts always come a little too late. Why did
not I tell you how old King Midas came to Amer-
ica, and changed the dusky autumn, such as it is
in other countries, into the burnished beauty
which it here puts on? He gilded the leaves of
the great volume of Nature.”

“ Cousin Eustace,” said Sweet Fern, a good lit-
tle boy, who was always making particular inquiries
about the precise height of giants and the littleness
of fairies, “ how big was Marygold, and how much
did she weigh after she was turned to gold?”
SHADOW BROOK 71

“She was about as tall as you are,” replied Eus-
tace, “and, as gold is very heavy, she weighed at
least two thousand pounds, and might have been
coined into thirty or forty thousand gold dollars.
I wish Primrose were worth half asmuch. Come,
little people, let us clamber out of the dell, and
look about us.”

They did so. The sun was now an hour or
two beyond its noontide mark, and filled the great
hollow of the valley with its western radiance, so
that it seemed to be brimming with mellow light,

and to spill it over the surrounding hill-sides, like

golden wine out of a bowl. It was such a day
that you could not help saying of it, “ There never
was such a day before!” although yesterday was
just such a day, and to-morrow will be just such
another. Ah, but there are very few of them in
a twelvemonth’s circle! It is a remarkable pecul-
iarity of these October days, that each of them
seems to occupy a great deal of space, although
the sun rises rather tardily at that season of the
year, and goes to bed, as little children ought, at
sober six o'clock, or even earlier, We cannot,
therefore, call the days long; but they appear,
somehow or other, to make up for their shortness
by their breadth ; and when the cool night comes,
we are conscious of having enjoyed a big armful
of life, since morning.

“ Come, children, come!” cried Eustace Bright.
“ More nuts, more nuts, more nuts! Fill al] your
baskets ; and, at Christmas time, I will crack them
for you, and tell you beautiful stories! ”

So away they went; all of them in excellent

ad
72 SHADOW BROOK

spirits, except little Dandelion, who, I am sorry
to tell you, had been sitting on a chestnut-bur,
and was stuck as full as a pincushion of its
prickles. Dear me, how uncomfortably he must
have felt !







“4)TANGLEWOOD PLAY-
4 }| ROOM. INTRODUCTORY
H} TO THE PARADISE OF
BY CHILDREN

4, HE golden days of October
passed away, as so many other
? Octobers have,and brown No-
vember likewise, and the greater part of chill De-
cember, too. At last came merry Christmas, and
Eustace Bright along with it, making it all the
merrier by his presence. And, the day after his
arrival from college, there came a mighty snow-
storm. Up to this time, the winter had held back,
and had given us a good many mild days, which
were like smiles upon its wrinkled visage. The
grass had kept itself green, in sheltered places,
such as the nooks of southern hill-slopes, and along
the lee of the stone fences. It was but a week or
two ago, and since the beginning of the month,
that the children had found a dandelion in bloom,
on the margin of Shadow Brook, where it glides
out of the dell.
But no more green grass and dandelions now.
73
94 TANGLEWOOD PLAY-ROOM

This was such a snow-storm! Twenty miles of
it might have been visible at once, between the
windows of Tanglewood and the dome of Taco-
nic, had it been possible to see so far among the
eddying drifts that whitened all the atmosphere.
It seemed as if. the hills were giants, and were
flinging monstrous handfuls of snow at one an-
other, in their enormous sport. So thick were the
fluttering snow-flakes, that even the trees, mid-
way down the valley, were hidden by them the
greater part of the time. Sometimes, it is true,
the little prisoners of Tanglewood could discern
a dim outline of Monument Mountain, and the
smooth whiteness of the frozen lake at its base,
and the black or gray tracts of woodland in the
nearer landscape. But these were merely peeps
through the tempest.

Nevertheless, the children rejoiced greatly in
the snow-storm. They had already made ac-
quaintance with it, by tumbling heels over head
into its highest drifts, and flinging snow at one
another, as we have just fancied the Berkshire
mountains to be doing. And now they had come
back to their spacious play-room, which was as big
as the great drawing-room, and was lumbered
with all sorts of playthings, large and small. The
biggest was a rocking-horse, that looked like a
real pony; and there was a whole family of
wooden, waxen, plaster, and china dolls, besides
rag-babies ; and blocks enough to build Bunker
Hill Monument, and nine-pins, and _ balls, and
humming-tops, and battledores, and grace-sticks,
and skipping-ropes, and more of such valuable
TANGLEWOOD PLAY-ROOM 18

property than I could tell of in a printed page.
But the children liked the snow-storm better than
them all. It suggested so many brisk enjoy-
ments for to-morrow, and all the remainder of the
winter. The sleigh-ride; the slides down hill into
the valley; the snow-images that were to be
shaped out; the snow-fortresses that were to be
built; and the snowballing to be carried on!

So the little folks blessed the snow-storm, and
. were glad to see it come thicker and thicker, and
watched hopefully the long drift that was piling
itself up in the avenue, and was already higher
than any of their heads.

“Why, we shall be blocked up till spring!”
cried they, with the hugest delight. “ What a pity
that the house is too high to be quite covered up!
The little red house, down yonder, will be buried
up to its eaves.”

“You silly children, what do you want of more
snow?” asked Eustace, who, tired of some novel
that he was skimming through, had strolled into
the play-room. “It has done mischief enough
already, by spoiling the only skating that I could
hope for through the winter. We shall see no-
thing more of the lake till April; and this was to
have been my first day upon it! Don’t you pity
me, Primrose? ”

“Oh, to be sure!” answered Primrose, laugh-
ing. “ But, for your comfort, we will listen to an-
other of your old stories, such as you told us un-
der the porch, and down in the hollow, by Shadow
Brook. Perhaps I shall like them better now,
when there is nothing to do, than while there were
76 TANGLEWOOD PLEAY-ROOM

nuts to be gathered, and beautiful weather to en-
Oo on : :
Tisunen, Periwinkle, Clover, Sweet Fern, and
as many others of the little fraternity and cousin-
hood as were still at Tanglewood, gathered about
Eustace, and earnestly besought him for a story.
The student yawned, stretched himself, and then,
to the vast admiration of the small people, skipped
three times back and forth over the top of a chair,
in order, as he explained to them, to set his wits
in motion.

“ Well, well, children,” said he, after these pre-
liminaries, “ since you insist, and Primrose has set
her heart upon it, I will see what can be done for
you. And, that you may know what happy days
there were before snow-storms came into fash-
ion, I will tell you a story of the oldest of all old
times, when the world was as new as Sweet Fern’s
bran-new humming-top. There was then but one
‘season in the year, and that was the delightful
summer; and but one age for mortals, and that
was childhood.”

“T never heard of that before,” said Primrose.

“Of course, you never did,” answered Eus-
tace. “It shall be a story of what nobody but
myself ever dreamed of,—a Paradise of chil-
dren, — and how, by the naughtiness of just such
a little imp as Primrose here, it all came to no-
thing.”

So Eustace Bright sat down in the chair which
he had just been skipping over, took Cowslip
upon his knee, ordered silence throughout the
auditory, and began a story about a sad naughty
TANGLEWOOD PLAY-ROOM ai

child, whose name was Pandora, and about her
playfellow Epimetheus.

You may read it, word for word, in the pages
that come next.

















isl ‘THE -PARADISE- OF -CHILDRENg)

BONG, long ago, when this old
world was in its tender in-
@ | fancy, there was a child, named
| Epimetheus, who never had
either father or mother; and,
that he might not be lonely,
ee another child, fatherless and
motherless like himself, was sent from a far coun-
try, to live with him, and be his playfellow and
helpmate. Her name was Pandora.

The first thing that Pandora saw, when she en-
tered the cottage where Epimetheus dwelt, was a
great box. And almost the first question which she
put to him, after crossing the threshold, was this, —

“ Epimetheus, what have you in that box? iy

“My dear little Pandora,” answered Epime-
theus, “that is a secret, and you must be kind
enough not to ask any questions about iteelve
box was left here to be kept safely, and Ido not
myself know what it contains.”

“But who gave it to you?” asked Pandora.
« And where did it come from?”

“ That is a secret, too,” replied Epimetheus.

78




THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 19

“ How provoking!” exclaimed Pandora, pout-
ing her lip. “I wish the great ugly box were out
of the way!”

“Oh come, don’t think of it any more,” cried
Epimetheus. “ Let us run out of doors, and have
some nice play with the other children.”

It is thousands of years since Epimetheus and
Pandora were alive; and the world, nowadays, is
a very different sort of thing from what it was in
their time. . Then, everybody was a child. There
needed no fathers and mothers to take care of the
children ; because there was no danger, nor trou-
ble of any kind, and no clothes to be mended, and
there was always plenty to eat and drink. When-
ever a child wanted his dinner, he found it grow-
ing on a tree; and, if he looked at the tree in the
morning, he could see the expanding blossom of
that night’s supper; or, at eventide, he saw the
tender bud of to-morrow’s breakfast. It was a
very pleasant life indeed. No labor to be done,
no tasks to be studied; nothing, but sports and
dances, and sweet voices of children talking, or
carolling like birds, or. gushing’ out in merry
laughter, throughout the livelong day.

What was most wonderful of all, the children
never quarreled among themselves; neither had
they any crying fits; nor, since time first began,
had a single one of these little mortals ever gone
apart into a corner, and sulked. Oh, what a good
time was that to be alive in? The truth is, those
ugly little winged monsters, called Troubles, which
are now almost as numerous as mosquitoes, had
never yet been seen on the earth. It is probable
80 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

that the very greatest disquietude which a child
had ever experienced was Pandora’s vexation at
not being able to discover the secret of the mys-
terious box.

This was at first only the faint shadow of a
Trouble; but, every day, it grew’more and more
substantial, until, before a great while, the cottage
of Epimetheus and Pandora was less sunshiny
than those of the other children.

“Whence can the box have come?” Pandora
continually kept saying to herself and to Epime-
theus. “And what in the world can be inside of
it?”

“ Always talking about this box!” said Epime-
theus, at last; for he had grown extremely tired
of the subject. “I wish, dear Pandora, you would
try to talk of something else. Come, let us go
and gather some ripe figs, and eat them under the
trees, for our supper. And I know a vine that
has the sweetest and juiciest grapes you ever
tasted.”

“ Always talking about grapes and figs!” cried
Pandora, pettishly.

“ Well, then,” said Epimetheus, who was a very
good-tempered child, like a multitude of children
in those days, “let us run out and have a merry
time with our playmates.”

“Tam tired of merry times, and don’t care if
I never have any more!” answered our pettish
little Pandora. “And, besides, I never do have
any. This ugly box! I am so taken up with
thinking about it all the time. I insist upon your
telling me what is inside of it.”

THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 81

“As I have already said, fifty times over, I do
not know!” replied Epimetheus, getting a little
vexed. “ How, then, can I tell you what is in-
side?”

“You might open it,” said Pandora, looking
sideways at Epimetheus, “and then we could see
for ourselves.”

“Pandora, what are you thinking of?” ex-
claimed Epimetheus.

And his face expressed so much horror at the
idea of looking into a box, which had been con-
fided to him on the condition of his never opening
it, that Pandora thought it best not to suggest it
any more. Still, however, she could not help
thinking and talking about the box.

“ At least,” said she, “ you can tell me how it
came here.”

“Tt was just left at the door,” replied Epime-
theus, “just before you came, by a person who
looked very smiling and intelligent, and who could
hardly forbear laughing as he put it down. He
was dressed in an odd kind of a cloak, and had on
a cap that seemed to be made partly of feathers,
so that it looked almost as if it had wings.”

“ What sort of a staff had he?” asked Pandora.

“Oh, the most curious staff you ever saw!”
cried Epimetheus. “It was like two serpents
twisting around a stick, and was carved so natu-
rally that I, at first, thought the serpents were
alive.”

“TI know him,” said Pandora, thoughtfully.
“ Nobody else has such a staff. It was Quick-
silver; and he brought me hither, as well as the
82 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

box. No doubt he intended it for me; and, most
probably, it contains pretty dresses for me to wear,
or toys for you and me to play with, or something
very nice for us both to eat!”

“Perhaps so,” answered Epimetheus, turning
away. “ But until Quicksilver comes back and
tells us so, we have neither of us any right to lift
the lid of the box.”

“ What a dull boy he is!” muttered Pandora, as
Epimetheus left the cottage. “I do wish he had
a little more enterprise! ”

For the first time since her arrival, Epimetheus
had gone out without asking Pandora to accom-
pany him. He went to gather figs and grapes by
himself, or to seek whatever amusement he could
find, in other society than his little playfellow’s.
He was tired to death of hearing about the box,
and heartily wished that Quicksilver, or whatever
was the messenger’s name, had left it at some other
child’s door, where Pandora would never have set
eyes on it. So perseveringly as she did babble
about this one thing! The box, the box, and
nothing but the box! It seemed as if the box
were bewitched, and as if the cottage were not big
enough to hold it, without Pandora’s continually
stumbling over it, and making Epimetheus stum-
ble over it likewise, and bruising all four of their
shins, .

Well, it was really hard that poor Epimetheus
should have a box in his ears from morning till
night; especially as the little people of the earth
were so unaccustomed to vexations, in those happy
days, that they knew not how to deal with them.
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 83

Thus, a small vexation made as much disturbance
then, as a far bigger one would in our own times.

After Epimetheus was gone, Pandora stood
gazing at the box. She had called it ugly, above
a hundred times; but, in spite of all that she had
said against it, it was positively a very handsome
article of furniture, and would have been quite
an ornament to any room in.which it should be
placed. It was made of a beautiful kind of wood,
with dark and rich veins spreading over its sur-
face, which was so highly polished that little Pan-
dora could see her face in it. As the child had
no other looking-glass, it is odd that she did not
value the box, merely on this account.

The edges and corners of the box were carved
with most wonderful skill. Around the margin
there were figures of graceful men and women,
and the prettiest children ever seen, reclining or
sporting amid a profusion of flowers and foliage;
and these various objects were so exquisitely rep-
resented, and were wrought together in such
harmony, that flowers, foliage, and human beings
seemed to combine into a wreath of mingled
beauty. But here and there, peeping forth from
behind the carved foliage, Pandora once or twice
fancied that she saw a face not so lovely, or some-
thing or other that was disagreeable, and which
stole the beauty out of all the rest. Nevertheless,
on looking more closely, and touching the spot
with her finger, she could discover nothing of the
kind. Some face, that was really beautiful, had
been made to look. ugly by her catching a side-
way glimpse at it.
84 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

The most beautiful face of all was done in
what is called high relief, in the centre of the lid.
There was nothing else, save the dark, smooth
richness of the polished wood, and this one face
in the centre, with a garland of flowers about its
brow. Pandora had looked at this face a great
many times, and imagined that the mouth could
smile if it liked, or. be grave when it chose, the
same as any living mouth. The features, indeed,
all wore a very lively and rather mischievous ex-
pression, which looked almost as if it needs must
burst out of the carved lips, and utter itself in
words.

Had the mouth spoken, it would probably have
been something like this : —

“Do not be afraid, Pandora! What harm can
there be in opening the box? Never mind that
poor, simple Epimetheus! You are wiser than
he, and have ten times as much spirit. Open the
box, and see if you do not find something very
pretty!”

The box, I had almost forgotten to say, was fas-
tened; not by a lock, nor by any other such con-
trivance, but by a very intricate knot of gold cord.
There appeared to be no end to this knot, and ©
no beginning. Never was a knot so cunningly
twisted, nor with so many ins and outs, which.
roguishly defied the skillfullest fingers to disen-
tangle them. And yet, by the very “difficulty that
there was in it, Pandora was the more tempted to
examine the knot, and just see how it was made.
Two or three times, already, she had stooped over
the box, and taken the knot between her thumb
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 85

and forefinger, but without positively trying to
undo it.

“T really believe,” said she to herself, “that I
begin to see how it was done. Nay, perhaps I
‘could tie it up again, after undoing it. There
would be no harm in that, surely. Even Epime-
theus would not blame me for that. I need not
open the box, and should not, of course, without
the foolish boy’s consent, even if the knot were
untied.”

It might have been better for Pandora if she
had had a little work to do, or anything to employ
her mind upon, so as not to be so constantly
thinking of this one subject. But children led so
easy a life, before any Troubles came into the
world, that they had really a great deal too much
leisure. They could not be forever playing at
hide-and-seek among the flower-shrubs, or at blind-
man’s-buff with garlands over their eyes, or at
whatever other games had been found out, while
Mother Earth was in her babyhood. When life
is all sport, toil is the real play. There was ab-
solutely nothing to do. A little sweeping and
dusting about the cottage, I suppose, and the
gathering of fresh flowers (which were only too
abundant everywhere), and arranging them in
vases, — and poor little Pandora’s day’s work was
over. And then, for the rest of the day, there
was the box! :

After all, Iam not quite sure that the box was
not a blessing to her in its way. It supplied her
with such a variety of ideas to think of, and to
talk about, whenever she had anybody to listen!
- 86 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

When she was in good-humor, she could. admire
the bright polish of its sides, and the rich border
of beautiful faces and foliage that ran all around
it. Or, if she chanced to be ill-tempered, she could
give it a push, or kick it with her naughty little
foot. And many a kick did the box— (but it
was a mischievous box, as we shall see, and de- ~
served all it got)— many a kick did it receive.
But, certain it is, if it had not been for the box,
our active-minded little Pandora would not have
known half so well how to spend her time as she
now did.

For it was really an endless employment to
guess what was inside. What could it be, indeed?
Just imagine, my little hearers, how busy your
wits would be, if there were a great box in the
house, which, as you might have reason to sup-
pose, contained something new and pretty for
your Christmas or New Year’s gifts. Do you
think that you should be less curious than Pan-
dora? If you were left alone with the box, might
you not feel a little tempted to lift the lid? But
you would not do it. Oh, fie! No, no! Only,
if you thought there were toys in it, it would be
so very hard to let slip an opportunity of taking
just one peep! I know not whether Pandora ex.
pected any toys; for none had yet begun to be
made, probably, in those days, when the world it-
self was one great plaything for the children that
dwelt upon it. But Pandora was convinced that
there was something very beautiful-and valuable
in the box; and therefore she felt just as anxious
to take a peep as any of these little girls, here

THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 87

around me, would have felt. And, possibly, a lit-
tle more so; but of that I am not quite so certain.

On this particular day, however, which we have
so long been talking about, her curiosity grew so
much greater than it usually was, that, at last, she _
approached the box. She was more than half
determined to open it, if she could. Ah, naughty
Pandora!

First, however, she tried to liftit. It was
heavy; quite too heavy for the slender strength
of a child, like Pandora. She raised one end of
the box a few inches from the floor, and let it fall
again, with a pretty loud ‘thump. A moment
afterwards, she almost fancied that she heard
something stir inside of the box. She applied
her ear as closely as possible, and listened. Posi-
tively, there did seem to be a kind of stifled mur-
mur, within! Or was it merely the singing in
Pandora’s ears? Or could it be the beating of
her heart? The child could not quite satisfy
herself whether she had heard anything or no.
But, at all events, her curiosity was stronger than
ever.

As she drew back her head, her eyes fell upon
the knot of gold cord.

“Tt must have been a very ingenious person
who tied this knot,” said Pandora to herself.
“But I think I could untie it nevertheless. I
am resolved, at least, to find the two ends of the
cord.”

So she took the golden knot in her fingers, and
pried into its intricacies as sharply as she could.
Almost without intending it, or quite knowing
88 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

what she was about, she was soon busily engaged
in attempting to undo it. Meanwhile, the bright
sunshine came through the open window; as did
likewise the merry voices of the children, playing
at a distance, and perhaps the voice of Epime-
theus among them. Pandora stopped to listen.
What a beautiful day it was! Would it not be
wiser, if she were to let the troublesome knot
alone, and think no more about the box, but run
and join her little playfellows, and be happy?

All this time, however, her fingers were half
unconsciously busy with the knot; and happen-
ing to glance at the flower-wreathed face on the
lid of the enchanted box, she seemed to perceive
it slyly grinning at her.

“That face looks very mischievous,” thought
Pandora. “I wonder whether it smiles because
Iam doing wrong! I have the greatest mind in
the world to run away!”

But just then, by the merest accident, she gave
the knot a kind of a twist, which produced a won-
derful result. The gold cord untwined itself, as
if by magic, and left the box without a fasten-
ing.

© This is the strangest thing I ever knew!” said —
Pandora. “What will Epimetheus say? And
how can I possibly tie it up again?”

She made one or two attempts to restore the
knot, but soon found it quite beyond her skill. It.
had disentangled itself so suddenly that she could
not in the least remember how the strings had
been doubled into one another; and when she
tried to recollect the shape and appearance of the
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 89

knot, it seemed to have gone entirely out of her
mind. Nothing was to be done, therefore, but to
let the box remain as it was until Epimetheus
should come in.

“ But,” said Pandora, “ when he finds the knot
untied, he will know that I have done it. How
shall I make him believe that I have not looked
into the box?”

And then the thought came into her naughty
little heart, that, since she would be suspected of
having looked into the box, she might just as well
do so at once. Oh, very naughty and very foolish
Pandora! You should have thought only of doing
what was right, and of leaving undone what was
wrong, and not of what your playfellow Epime-
theus would have said or believed. And so per-
haps she might, if the enchanted face on the lid
of the box had not looked so bewitchingly-per-
suasive at her, and if she had not seemed to hear,
more distinctly than before, the murmur of small
voices within. She could not tell whether it was
fancy or no; but there was quite a little tumult of
whispers in her ear,— or else it was her curiosity
that whispered, — ;

“ Let us out, dear Pandora, — pray let us out!
We will be such nice pretty playfellows for you !
Only let us out!”

“What can it be?” thought Pandora. “Is
there something alive in the box? Well! — yes!
—JI am resolved to take just one peep! Only
one peep; and then the lid shall be shut down as
safely as ever! There cannot possibly be any
harm in just one little peep!”


90 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

But it is now time for us to see what Epime-
theus was doing.

This was the first time, since his little playmate
had come to dwell with him, that he had attempted
to enjoy any pleasure in which she did not par-
take. But nothing went right; nor was he nearly
so happy as on other days. He could not find
a sweet grape or a ripe fig (if Epimetheus had a
fault, it was a little too much fondness for figs) ;
or, if ripe at all, they were over-ripe, and so sweet
as to be cloying. There was no mirth in his
heart, such as usually made his voice gush out, of
its own accord, and swell the merriment of his
companions. In short, he grew so uneasy and
discontented, that the other ‘children could not
imagine what was the matter with Epimetheus.
Neither did he himself know what ailed him, any
better than they did. For you must recollect that,
at the time we are speaking of, it was everybody's
nature, and constant habit, to be happy. The
world had not yet learned to be otherwise. Not
a single soul or body, since these children were
firstsent to enjoy themselves on the beautiful
earth, had ever been sick or out of sorts.

At length, discovering that, somehow or other,
he put a stop to all the play, Epimetheus judged
it best to go back to Pandora, who was in a humor
better suited to his own. But, with a hope of
giving her pleasure, he gathered’ some flowers,
and made them into a wreath, which he meant to
put upon her head. The flowers were very lovely,
—roses, and lilies, and orange-blossoms, and a
great many more, which left a trail of fragrance
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN gi

behind, as Epimetheus carried them along; and
the wreath was put together with as much skill
as could reasonably be expected of a boy. The
fingers of little girls, it has always appeared to
me, are the fittest to twine flower-wreaths; but
boys could do it, in those days, rather better than
they can now.

And here I must mention that a great black
cloud had been gathering in the sky, for some
time past, although it had not yet overspread the
sun. But, just as Epimetheus reached the cottage
door, this cloud began to intercept the sunshine,
and thus to make a sudden and sad obscurity.

He entered softly; for he meant, if possible, to
steal behind Pandora, and fling the wreath of
flowers over her head, before she should be aware
of his approach. But, as it happened, there was
no need of his treading so very lightly. He might
have trod as heavily as he pleased, — as heavily
asa grown man, —as heavily, I was going to say,
as an elephant, — without much probability of
Pandora’s hearing his footsteps. She was too in-
tent upon her purpose. At the moment of his
entering the cottage, the naughty child had put
her hand:to the lid, and was on the point of open-
ing the mysterious box. Epimetheus beheld her.
If he had cried out, Pandora would probably have
withdrawn her hand, and the fatal mystery’of the
box might never have been known.

But Epimetheus himself, although he said very
little about it, had his own share of curiosity to
know what was inside. Perceiving that Pandora
was resolved to find out the secret, he determined
92 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

that his playfellow should not -be the only wise
person in the cottage. And if there were any-
thing pretty or valuable in the box, he meant to
take half of it to himself. Thus, after all his sage
speeches to Pandora about restraining her curi-
osity, Epimetheus turned out to be quite as foolish,
and nearly as much in fault, as she. So, when-
ever we blame Pandora for what happened, we
must not forget to shake our heads at Epimetheus
likewise.

As Pandora raised the lid, the cottage grew
very dark and dismal; for the black cloud had
now swept quite over the sun, and seemed to have
buried it alive. There had, for a little while past,
been a low growling and muttering, which all at
once broke into a heavy peal of thunder. But
Pandora, heeding nothing of all this, lifted the lid
nearly upright, and looked inside. It seemed as
if a sudden swarm of winged creatures brushed
past her, taking flight out of the box, while, at
the same instant, she heard the voice of Epime-
theus, with a lamentable tone, as if he were in
pain.
“Oh, I am stung!” cried he. “I am stung!
Naughty Pandora! why have you opened this ©
wicked box?” .

Pandora let fall the lid, and, starting up, looked —
about her, to see what had befallen Epimetheus.
The thunder-cloud had so darkened the room
that she. could not very clearly discern what was
in it. But she heard a disagreeable buzzing, as if
a great many huge flies, or gigantic mosquitoes,
or those insects which we call dor-bugs, and pinch-

B



THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 93

ing-dogs, were darting about. And, as her eyes
grew more accustomed to the imperfect light, she
saw a crowd of ugly little shapes, with bats’ wings,
looking abominably spiteful, and armed with ter-
ribly long stings in their tails. It was one of these
that had stung Epimetheus. Nor was it a great
while before Pandora herself began to scream, in
no less pain and affright than her playfellow, and
making a vast deal more hubbub about it. An
odious little monster had settled on her forehead,
and would have stung her I know not how deeply,
if Epimetheus had not run and brushed it away.
Now, if you wish to know what these ugly
things might be, which had made their escape out
of the box, I must tell you that they were the
whole family of earthly Troubles. There were
evil Passions ; there were a great many species of
Cares ; there were more than a hundred and fifty
Sorrows; there were Diseases, in a vast number
of miserable and painful shapes ; there were more
kinds of Naughtiness than it would be of any use
to talk about. In short, everything that has since
afflicted the souls and bodies of mankind had
been shut up in the mysterious box, and given to
Epimetheus and Pandora to be kept safely, in
order that the happy children of the world might
never be molested by them. Had they been faith-
ful to their trust, all would. have gone well. No
grown person would ever have been sad, nor any
child have had cause to shed a single tear, from
that hour until this moment. .
But—and you may see by this how a wron
act of any one mortal is a calamity to the whole

i
94 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

world — by Pandora’s lifting the lid of that miser-
able box, and by the fault of Epimetheus, too, in
not preventing her, these Troubles have obtained a
foothold among us, and do not seem very likely to
be driven away ina hurry. For it was impossible,
as you will easily guess, that the two children
should keep the ugly swarm in their own little
cottage. On the contrary, the first thing that
they did was to fling open the doors and windows,
in hopes of getting rid of them; and, sure enough,
away flew the winged Troubles all abroad, and so
pestered and tormented the small people, every-
where about, that none of them so muchas smiled
for many days afterwards. And, what was very
singular, all the flowers and dewy blossoms on
earth, not one of which had hitherto faded, now
began to droop and shed their leaves, after a day
or two. The children, moreover, who before
seemed immortal in their childhood, now grew
older, day by day, and came soon to be youths and
maidens, and men and women by and by, and aged
people, before they dreamed of such a thing.
Meanwhile, the naughty Pandora, and hardly
less naughty Epimetheus, remained in their cot-
tage. Both of them had been grievously stung,
and were in a good deal of pain, which seemed the
more intolerable to them, because it was the very
first pain that had ever been felt since the world
began. Of course, they were entirely unaccus-
tomed to it,and could have no idea what it meant.
Besides all this, they were in exceedingly bad hu-
mor, both with themselves and with one another.
In order to indulge it to the utmost, Epimetheus
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 95

sat down sullenly in a corner with his back to-
wards Pandora; while Pandora flung herself upon
the floor and rested her head on the fatal and
abominable box. She was crying bitterly, and
sobbing as if her heart would break.

Suddenly there was a gentle little tap on the
inside of the lid.

“ What can that be?” cried Pandora, lifting her
head.

But either Epimetheus had not heard the tap,
or was too much out of humor to notice it. At
any rate, he made no answer.

“You are very unkind,” said Pandora, sobbing
anew, “not to speak to me!”

Again the tap! It sounded like the tiny knuckles
of a fairy’s hand, knocking lightly and playfully
on the inside of the box.

“Who are you?” asked Pandora, with a little
of her former curiosity. “Who are you, inside of
this naughty box ? ”

A sweet little voice spoke from within, —

“Only lift the lid, and you shall see.”

“No, no,” answered Pandora, again beginning
to sob, “I have had enough of lifting the lid!
You are inside of the box, naughty creature, and
there you shall stay! There are plenty of your
ugly brothers and sisters already flying about
the world. You need never think that I shall be
so foolish as to let you out!”

She looked towards Epimetheus, as she spoke,
perhaps expecting that he would commend her
for her wisdom. But the sullen boy only mut-
tered that she was wise a little too late.
96 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

“ Ah,” said the sweet little voice again, “you
had much better let me out. I am not like those
naughty creatures that have stings in their tails.
They are no brothers and sisters of mine, as you
would see at once, if you were only to get a
glimpse of me. Come, come, my pretty Pandora!
I am sure you will let me out! ”

And, indeed, there was a kind of cheerful witch-
ery in the tone, that made it almost impossible to
refuse anything which this little voice asked. Pan-
dora’s heart had insensibly grown lighter at every
word that came from within the box. Epimetheus,
too, though still in the corner, had turned half
round, and seemed to be in rather better spirits
than before.

“My dear Epimetheus,” cried Pandora, “ have
you heard this little voice ?”

“Yes, to be sure I have,” answered he, but in
no very good humor as yet. “And what of it?”
“Shall I lift the lid again?” asked Pandora.

“ Just as you please,” said Epimetheus. “ You
have done so much mischief already, that perhaps
you may as well do a little more. One other
Trouble, in such a swarm as you have set adrift —
about the world, can make no very great differ-
ence.”

“You might speak a little more kindly!” mur-
mured Pandora, wiping her eyes.

“ Ah, naughty boy! ” cried the little voice within
the box, in an arch and laughing tone. “He
_ knows he is longing to see me. Come, my dear
Pandora, lift up the lid. I am in a great hurry to
comfort you. Only let me have some fresh air,
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 97

and you shall soon see that matters are not quite
so dismal as you think them!”

“ Epimetheus,” exclaimed Pandora, “ come what
may, I am resolved to open the box!”

“And as the lid seems very heavy,” cried
Epimetheus, running across the room, “I will
help you!”

So, with one consent, the two children again |
lifted the lid. Out flew a sunny and smiling little
personage, and hovered about the room, throwing
a light wherever she went. Have you never made
the sunshine dance into dark corners, by reflect-
ing it from a bit of looking-glass? Well,so looked
the winged cheerfulness of this fairy-like stranger,
amid the gloom of the cottage. She flew to
Epimetheus, and laid the least touch of her fin-
_ ger on the inflamed spot where the Trouble had
stung him, and immediately the anguish of it was
gone. Then she kissed Pandora on the forehead,
and her hurt was cured likewise.

After performing these good offices, the bright
stranger fluttered sportively over the children’s
heads, and looked so sweetly at them, that they
both began to think it not so very much amiss to
have opened the box, since, otherwise, their cheery
guest must have been kept a prisoner among
thost naughty imps with stings in their tails.

“Pray, who are you, beautiful creature?” in-
quired Pandora.

“Tam to be called. Hope!” answered the sun-
shiny figure. “And because I am such a cheery
little body, I was packed into the box, to make
amends to the human race for that swarm of ugly

’
98 THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN

Troubles, which was destined to be let loose
among them. Never fear! we shall do pretty
well in spite of them all.”

“Your wings are colored like the rainbow!”
exclaimed Pandora. “How very beautiful!” -

“Yes, they are like the rainbow,” said Hope,
“because, glad as my nature is, I am partly made
of tears as well as smiles.”

“And will you stay with us,” asked Epimetheus,
“forever and ever?” :

“ As long as you need me,” said Hope, with her
pleasant smile, — “and that will be as long as you
live in the world, — I promise never to desert
you. There may come times and seasons, now
and then, when you will think that I have utterly
vanished. But again, and again, and again, when
perhaps you least dream of it, you shall see the
glimmer of my wings on the ceiling of your cot-
tage. Yes, my dear children, and I know some-
thing very good and beautiful that is to be given
you hereafter!”

“ Oh, tell us,” they exclaimed, —“tell us what
it is!”

“Do not ask me,” replied Hope, putting her
finger on her rosy mouth. “But do not despair, |
even if it should never happen while you live on
this earth. Trust in my promise, for it is true.”

“We do trust you!” cried Epimetheus and
Pandora, both in one breath.

And.so they did; and not only they, but so has
everybody trusted Hope, that has since been
alive. And to tell you the truth, I cannot. help
being glad — (though, to be sure, it was an un-
THE PARADISE OF CHILDREN 99

commonly naughty thing for her to do)—but I
cannot help being glad that our foolish Pandora
peeped into the box. No doubt — no doubt —
the Troubles are still flying about the world, and
have increased in multitude, rather than lessened,
and are a very ugly set of imps, and carry most
venomous stings in their tails. I have felt them
already, and expect to feel them more, as I grow
older. But then that lovely and lightsome little
figure of Hope! What in the world could we do
without her? Hope spiritualizes the earth; Hope
makes it always new; and, even in the earth’s
best and brightest aspect, Hope shows it to be
only the shadow of an infinite bliss hereafter.



























ee
CIA a
eR AZ





a) AFTER THE STORY

RIMROSE,” asked Eustace,
Hi pinching her ear, “how do
you like my little Pandora?
Don’t you think her the ex-
act picture of yourself? But
you would not have hesitated
half so long about opening the box.”

“Then I should have been well punished for
my naughtiness,” retorted Primrose, smartly ;
“for the first thing to pop out, after the lid was
lifted, would have been Mr. Eustace Bright, in
the shape of a Trouble.”

“Cousin Eustace,” said Sweet Fern, “did the
box hold all the trouble that has ever come into
the worid ?”

“ Every mite of it!” answered Eustace. “ This
very snow-storm, which has spoiled my skating,
was packed up there.”

“And how big was the box?” asked Sweet
Bernt

“ Why, perhaps three feet long,” said Eustace,

“two feet wide, and two feet and a half high.”
Io0o

MS Besta (ats WOOD-PLAY ROOM
TANGLEWOOD PLAY-ROOM ior

“ Ah,” said the child, “you are making fun of
me, Cousin Eustace! I know there is not trou-
ble enough in the world to fill such a great box |
as that. As for the snow-storm, it is no trouble
at all, but a pleasure; so it could not have been
in the box.”

“ Hear the child!” cried Primrose, with an air
of superiority. ‘“ How little he knows about the
troubles of this world! Poor fellow! He will
be wiser when he has seen as much of life as I
have.”

So saying, she began to skip the rope.

Meantime, the day was drawing towards its
close. Out of. doors the scene certainly looked
dreary. There was a gray drift, far and wide,
through the gathering twilight; the earth was as
pathless as the air; and the bank of snow over
the steps of the porch proved that nobody had
entered or gone out for a good many hours past.
Had there been only one child at the window of
Tanglewood, gazing at this wintry prospect, it
would perhaps have made him sad. But half a
dozen children together, though they cannot quite
turn the world into a paradise, may defy old
Winter and all his storms to put them out of
spirits. Eustace Bright, moreover, on the spur
‘of the moment, invented several new kinds of
play, which kept them all in a roar of merriment
till bedtime, and served for the next stormy day
besides.



HE snow-storm lasted an-
other day; but what became
of it afterwards, I cannot pos-
sibly imagine. At any rate,
it entirely cleared away dur-
ing the night; and when the
sun arose the next morning,

it shone brightly down on as bleak a tract of

hill-country, here in Berkshire, as could be seen
anywhere in the world. The frost-work had so
covered the window-panes that it was hardly pos-
sible to get a glimpse at the scenery outside.

But, while waiting for breakfast, the small pop-
ulace of Tanglewood had scratched peep-holes
with their finger-nails, and saw with vast delight
that— unless it were one or two bare patches
on a precipitous hill-side, or the gray effect of the
snow, intermingled with the black pine forest —
all nature was as white as a sheet. How exceed-
ingly pleasant! And, to make it all the better,

it was cold enough to nip one’s nose short off!

If people have but life enough in them to bear

it, there is nothing that so raises the spirits, and
102
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE . 103

makes the blood ripple and dance so nimbly,
like a brook down the slope of a hill, as a bright,
hard frost. . od
- No- sooner was breakfast over, than the whole
party, well muffled in furs and woolens, foundered
forth into the. midst of the snow. Well, what a
day of frosty sport was this! They slid down hill
into the valley, a hundred times, nobody knows
how far; and, to make it all the merrier, upset-
ting their sledges, and tumbling head over heels,
quite as often as they came safely to the bot-
tom. And, once, Eustace Bright took Periwinkle,
Sweet Fern, and Squash-Blossom, on the sledge
with him, by way of insuring a safe passage; and
down they went, full speed. But, behold, halfway
down, the sledge hit against a hidden stump, and
flung all four of its passengers into a heap; and,
_ on gathering themselves up, there was no little
Squash-Blossom to be found! Why, what could
have become of the child? And while they were
wondering and staring about, up started Squash-
Blossom out of a snow-bank, with the reddest
face you ever saw, and. looking as if a large scarlet
flower had suddenly sprouted up in midwinter.
Then there was a great laugh. oe
When they had: grown tired of sliding down
hill, Eustace set. the children to digging a cave in
the biggest snow-drift that they could find. Un-
luckily, just as it was completed, and the party
had squeezed themselves into the hollow, down .
came the roof upon their heads, and buried every |
soul of them alive! The next moment, up popped
all their little heads out of the ruins, and the tall
104 TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE

student’s head in the midst of them, looking hoary
and venerable with the snow-dust that had got
amongst his brown curls. And then, to punish
Cousin Eustace for advising them to dig such a
tumble-down cavern, the children attacked him in
a body, and so bepelted him with snowballs that
he was fain to take to his heels.

So he ran away, and went into the woods, and
thence to the margin of Shadow Brook, where he
could hear the streamlet grumbling along, under
great: overhanging banks of snow and ice, which
would scarcely let it see the light of day. There
were adamantine icicles glittering around all its
little cascades. Thence he strolled to the shore
of the lake, and beheld a white, untrodden plain
before him, stretching from his own feet to the
foot of Monument Mountain. And, it being
now almost sunset, Eustace thought that he had
never beheld anything so fresh and beautiful as
the scene. He was glad that the children were
not with him ; for their lively spirits and tumble-
about activity would quite have chased away his
higher and graver mood, so that he would merely
have been merry (as he had already been, the
whole day long), and would not have known the ©
loveliness of the winter sunset among the hills.

When the sun was fairly down, our friend Eus-
tace went home to eat his supper. After the
meal was over, he betook himself to the study
with a purpose, I rather imagine, to write an ode,
or two or three sonnets, or verses of some kind
or other, in praise of the purple and golden clouds
which he had seen around the setting sun. But,
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE Io5

before he had hammered out the very first rhyme,
the door opened, and Primrose and Periwinkle
made their appearance.

“Go away, children! I can’t be troubled with
you now!” cried the student, looking over his
shoulder, with the pen between his fingers.
“What in the world do you want here? I
thought you were all in bed!”

“ Hear him, Periwinkle, trying to talk like a
grown man!” said Primrose. “And heseems to
forget that I am now thirteen years old, and may
sit up almost as late as I please. But, Cousin
Eustace, you must put off your airs, and come
with us to the drawing-room. The children have
talked so much about your stories, that my father
wishes to hear one of them, in order to judge
whether they are likely to do any mischief.”

“Poh, poh, Primrose!” exclaimed the student,
rather vexed. “I don’t believe I can tell one of
my stories in the presence of grown people. Be-
sides, your father is a classical scholar; not that I
am much afraid of his scholarship, neither, for
I doubt not it is'as rusty as an old case-knife by
this time. But then he will be sure to quarrel
with the admirable nonsense that I put into these
stories, out of my own head, and which makes the
great charm of the matter for children, like your-
self. Noman of fifty, who has read the classical
myths in his youth, can possibly understand my
merit as a reinventor and improver of them.”

“ All this may be very true,” said Primrose,
“but come you must! My father will not open
his book, nor will mamma open the piano, till you
106 TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE

have given us some of your nonsense, as you very
correctly call it. So be a good boy, and come
along.”

Whatever he might pretend, the student was
rather glad than otherwise, on second thoughts,
to catch at the opportunity of proving to Mr.
Pringle what an excellent faculty he had in mod-
ernizing the myths of ancient times. Until
twenty years of age, a young man may, indeed,
_be rather bashful about showing his poetry and
his prose; but, for all that, he is pretty apt to
think that these very productions would place him
at the tiptop of literature, if once they could be
known. Accordingly, without much more resist-
ance, Eustace suffered Primrose and Periwinkle
to drag him into the drawing-room.

It was a large, handsome apartment, with a semi-
circular window at one end, in the recess of which
stood a marble copy of Greenough’s Angel and
Child. On one side of the fireplace there were
many shelves of books, gravely but richly bound.
The white light of the astral-lamp, and the red
glow of the bright coal-fire, made the room bril-
liant and cheerful; and before the fire, in a deep
arm-chair, sat Mr. Pringle, looking just fit to be
seated in such a chair, and in such a room. He
was a tall and quite a handsome gentleman, with
a bald brow; and was always so nicely dressed,
that even Eustace Bright never liked to enter his
presence without at least pausing at the threshold
to settle his shirt-collar. But ‘now, as Primrose
had hold of one of his hands, and Periwinkle of
the other, he was forced to make his appearance
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE 107

with a rough-and-tumble sort of look, as if he had
been rolling all day in a snow-bank. And so he
had.

Mr. Pringle turned towards the student be-
nignly enough, but in a way that made him feel
how uncombed and unbrushed he was, and how
uncombed and unbrushed, likewise, were his mind
and thoughts.

“ Eustace,” said Mr. Pringle, with a smile, “ I
find that you are producing a great sensation
among the little public of Tanglewood, by the
exercise of your gifts of narrative. Primrose
here, as the little folks choose to call her, and the
rest of the children, have been so loud in praise
of your stories, that Mrs. Pringle and myself are
‘really curious to hear a specimen. It would be
so much the more gratifying to myself, as the
stories appear to be an attempt to render the
fables of classical antiquity into the idiom of
modern fancy and feeling. At least, so I judge
from a few of the incidents which have come to
me at second hand.” _

“ You are not exactly the auditor that I should
have chosen, sir,’ observed the student, “for fan-
tasies of this nature.”

“ Possibly not,” replied Mr. Pringle. “TI sus-
pect, however, that a young author’s most useful
critic is precisely the one whom he would be least
apt tochoose. Pray oblige me, therefore.”

“Sympathy, methinks, should have some little
share in the critic’s qualifications,’ murmured
Eustace Bright. “ However, sir, if you will find
patience, I will find stories. But be kind enough
108 TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE

to remember that Iam addressing myself to the
imagination and sympathies of the children, not
to your own.”

Accordingly, the student snatched hold of the
first theme which presented itself. It was sug-
gested by a plate of apples that he happened to
spy on the mantel-piece. _





ID you ever hear of the golden
apples, that grew in the gar-
den of the Hesperides? Ah,
those were such apples as
would bring a great price, by
the bushel, if any of them
could be found growing in the

orchards of nowadays! But
there is not, I suppose, a graft of that wonderful
fruit on a single tree in the wide world. Not so
much as a seed of those apples exists any longer.

And, even in the old, old, half-forgotten times,
before the garden of the Hesperides was overrun
with weeds, a great many people doubted whether
there could be real trees that bore apples of solid
gold upon their branches. All had heard of them,
but nobody remembered to have seen any. Chil-
dren, nevertheless, used to listen, open-mouthed, -
to stories of the golden apple-tree, and resolved to
discover it, when they should be big enough. Ad-
venturous young men, who desired to do a braver
thing than any of their fellows, set out in quest —
of this fruit. Many of them returned no more;
none of them brought back the apples. No won-

Tog
Tio . THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

der that they found it impossible to gather them!
It is said that there was a dragon beneath the
tree, with a hundred terrible heads, fifty of which
were always on the watch, while the other fifty
slept.

In my opinion it was hardly worth running so
much risk for the sake of a solid golden apple.
Had the apples been sweet, mellow, and juicy, in-
deed that would be another matter. There might
then have been some sense in trying to get at
them, in spite of the hundred-headed dragon.

But, as I have already told you, it was quite a
common thing with young persons, when tired of
too much peace and rest, to go in search of the
garden of the Hesperides. And once the adven-
ture was undertaken by a hero who had enjoyed
very little peace or rest since he came into the
world. At the time of which I am going to speak,
he was wandering through the pleasant land of
Italy, with a mighty club in his hand, and a bow
and quiver slung across his shoulders. He was
wrapt in the skin of the biggest and fiercest lion
that ever had been seen, and which he himself
had killed; and though, on the whole, he was
kind, and generous, and noble, there was a good
deal of the lion’s fierceness in his heart. As he
went on his way, he continually inquired whether
that were the right road to the famous garden.
But none of the country people knew anything
about the matter, and many looked as if they
would have laughed at the question, if the stranger
had not carried so very big a club.

So he journeyed on and on, still making the
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES IIL

same inquiry, until, at last, he came to the brink
of a river where some beautiful young women sat
twining wreaths of flowers. .

“Can you tell me, pretty maidens,” asked the
stranger, “ whether this is the right way to the
garden of the Hesperides?” |

The young women had been having a fine time
together, weaving the flowers into wreaths, and
crowning one another’s heads. And there seemed
to be a kind of magic in the touch of their fingers,
that made the flowers more fresh and dewy, and
of brighter hues, and sweeter fragrance, while
they played with them, than even when‘ they had
been growing on their native stems. But, on
hearing the stranger’s question, they dropped all
their flowers on the grass, and gazed at him with
astonishment.

“The garden of the Hesperides!” cried one.
“We thought mortals had been weary of seeking
it, after so many disappointments. And pray, ad-
venturous traveler, what do you want there ? ”

“ A certain king, who is my cousin,” replied he,
“has ordered me to get him three of the golden
apples.”

“Most of the young men who go in quest of
these apples,” observed another of the damsels,
“desire to obtain them for themselves, or to pre-
sent them to some fair maiden whom they love.
Do you, then, love this king, your cousin, so very
much?”

“Perhaps not,” replied the stranger, sighing.
“ He has often been severe and cruel tome. But
it is my destiny to obey him.”
113 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

“ And do you know,” asked the damsel who had
first spoken, “ that a terrible dragon, with a hun-
dred heads, keeps watch under the golden apple-
tree?”

“ T know it well,” answered the stranger, calmly.
“ But, from my cradle upwards, it has been my
business, and almost my pastime, to deal with ser-
pents and dragons.”

The young women looked at his massive club,
and at the shaggy lion’s skin which he wore, and
likewise at his heroic limbs and figure; and they
whispered to each other that the stranger ap-
peared to be one who might reasonably expect
to perform deeds far beyond the might of other
men. But, then, the dragon with a hundred
heads! What mortal, even if he possessed a hun-
dred lives, could hope to escape the fangs of such
a monster? So kind-hearted were the maidens,
that they could not bear to see this brave and
handsome traveler attempt what was so very
dangerous, and devote himself, most probably, to
become a meal for the dragon’s hundred ravenous
mouths.

“Go back,” cried they all,— “go back to your
own home! Your mother, beholding you safe and
sound, will shed tears of joy; and what can ‘she
do more, should you win ever so great a victory?
No matter for the golden apples! No matter for
the king, your cruel cousin! We do not wish the
dragon with the hundred heads to eat you up!”

The stranger seemed to grow impatient at
these remonstrances. He carelessly lifted his
mighty club, and let it fall upon a rock that lay

THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 113

half buried in the earth, near by. With the force
of that idle blow, the great rock was shattered all
to pieces. It cost the stranger no more effort to
achieve this feat of a giant’s strength than for one
of the young maidens to touch her sister’s rosy
cheek with a flower.

“Do you. not believe,” said he, looking at the
damsels with a smile, “that such a blow would have
crashed one of the dragon’s hundred heads?”

Then he sat down on the grass, and told them
the story of his life, or as much of it as he could
remember, from the day when he was first cradled
in a warrior’s brazen shield. While he lay there,
two immense serpents came gliding over the
floor, and opened their hideous jaws to devour
him; and he, a baby of a few months old, had
griped one of the fierce snakes in each of his
little fists, and strangled them to death. When
_ he was but a stripling, he had killed a huge lion,
almost as big as the one whose vast and shaggy
hide he now wore upon his shoulders. The next
thing that he had done was to fight a battle with
an ugly sort of monster, called a hydra, which had
no less than nine heads, and exceedingly sharp

teeth in every one.

“ But the dragon of the Hesperides, you know,”
observed one of the damsels, “has a hundred
heads!”

_“Nevertheless,” replied the stranger, “I would
rather fight two such dragons than a single hy-
dra. For, as fast as I cut off a head, two others
grew in its place; and, besides, there was one of
the heads that could not possibly be killed, but
II4 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

kept biting as fiercely as ever, long after it was
cut off. So I was forced to bury it under a stone,
where it is doubtless alive to this very day. But
the hydra’s body, and its eight other heads, will
never do any further mischief.”

The damsels, judging that the story was likely
to last a good while, had been preparing a repast
of bread and grapes, that the stranger might re-
fresh himself in the intervals of his talk. They
took pleasure in helping him to this simple food;
and, now and then, one of them would put a sweet
grape between her rosy lips, lest it should make
him bashful to eat alone.

The traveler proceeded to tell how he had
chased a very swift stag, for a twelvemonth to-
gether, without ever stopping to take breath, and
had at last caught it by the antlers, and carried it
home alive. And he had fought with a very odd
race of people, half horses and half men, and had
put them all to death, from a sense of duty, in
order that their ugly figures might never be seen
any more. Besides all this, he took to himself
great credit for having cleaned out a stable.

“ Do you call that a wonderful exploit?” asked
one of the young maidens, with a smile. “ Any
clown in the country has done as much!”

“lad it been an ordinary stable,” replied the
stranger, “I should not have mentioned it. But
this was so gigantic a task that it would have
taken me all my life to perform it, if I had not
luckily thought of turning the channel of a river
through the stable-door. That did the business
in a very short time!”
THE THREE. GOLDEN APPLES Is

Seeing. how earnestly his fair auditors listened,
he next told them how he had shot some mon-
strous birds, and had caught a wild bull alive and
let him go again, and had tamed a number of very
wild horses, and had conquered .Hippolyta, the
warlike queen of the Amazons. We mentioned,
likewise, that he had taken off Hippolyta’s en-
chanted girdle, and had given it to the daughter
of his cousin, the king.

“Was it the girdle of Venus,” inquired the
prettiest of the damsels, “ which makes women
beautiful ?”

“No,” answered the stranger. “It had formerly
been the sword-belt of Mars; and it can only
make the wearer valiant and courageous.”

« An old sword-belt!” cried the damsel, tossing
her head. “Then I should not care about hav-
ing it!”

“You are right,” said the stranger.

Going on with his wonderful narrative, he in-
formed the maidens that as strange an adventure
as ever happened was when he fought with Ge-
ryon, the sixlegged man. This was a very odd
and frightful sort of figure, as you may well be-
lieve. Any person, looking at his tracks in the
sand or snow, would suppose that three sociable
companions had been walking along together.
On hearing his footsteps at a little distance, it
was no more than reasonable to judge that sev-
eral people must be coming. But it was only the
strange man Geryon clattering onward, with his
six legs!

Six legs, and one gigantic body! Certainly, he
116 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

must have been a very queer monster to look at;
and, my stars, what a waste of shoe-leather!

When the stranger had finished the story of his
adventures, he looked around at the attentive faces
of the maidens.

“Perhaps you may have heard of me before,”
said he, modestly. “My name is Hercules! z

“ We had already guessed it,” replied the maid-
ens; “for your wonderful deeds are known all
over the world. We do not think it strange, any
longer, that you should set out in quest of the
golden apples of the Hesperides. Come, sisters,
let us crown the hero with flowers!”

Then they flung beautiful wreaths over his
stately head and mighty shoulders, so that the
lion’s skin was almost entirely covered with roses.
They took possession of his ponderous club, and
so entwined it about with the brightest, softest,
and most fragrant blossoms, that not a finger’s
breadth of its oaken substance could be seen. It
looked all like a huge bunch of flowers. Lastly,
they joined hands, and danced around him, chant-
ing words which became poetry of their own ac-
cord, and grew into a choral song, in honor of the
illustrious Hercules.

And Hercules was rejoiced, as any other hero
would have been, to know that these fair young
girls had heard of the valiant deeds which it had
cost him so much toil and danger to achieve. But,
still, he was not satisfied. He could not think
that what he had already done was worthy of so
much honor, while there remained any bold or
difficult adventure to be undertaken.
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 117

“ Dear maidens,” said he, when they paused to
take breath, “now that you know my name, will
you not tell me how I am to reach the garden of
the Hesperides?”

“ Ah! must you go so soon?” they exclaimed.
“You — that have performed so many wonders,
and spent such a toilsome life — cannot you con-
tent yourself to repose a little while on the margin
of this peaceful river?”

Hercules shook his head.

“ T must depart now,” said he.

“We will then give you the best directions we
can,” replied the damsels. “You must go to the
sea-shore, and find out the Old One, and compel
him to inform you where the golden apples are to
be found.”

“ The Old One!” repeated Hercules, laughing
at this odd name. “ And, pray, who may the Old
One be?”

“ Why, the Old Man of the Sea, to be sure!”
answered one of the damsels. “ He has fifty daugh-
ters, whom some people call very beautiful; but
we do not think it proper to be acquainted with
them, because they have sea-green hair, and taper
away like-fishes. You must talk with this Old
Man of the Sea. He is a sea-faring person, and
knows all about the garden of the Hesperides ;
for it is situated in an island which he is often in
the habit of visiting.”

Hercules then asked whereabouts the Old One
was most likely to be met with. When the dam-
sels had informed him, he thanked them for all
their kindness, — for the bread and grapes with
118 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

which they had fed him, the lovely flowers with
which they had crowned him, and the songs and
dances wherewith they had done him honor, —
and he thanked them, most of all, for telling him
the right way, — and immediately set forth upon
his journey.

But, before he was out of hearing, one of the
maidens called after him.

“Keep fast hold of the Old One, when you
catch him!” cried she, smiling, and lifting her
finger to make the caution more impressive. “Do
not be astonished at anything that may happen.
Only hold him fast, and he will tell you what you
wish to know.”

Hercules again thanked her, and pursued his
way, while the maidens resumed’ their pleasant
labor of making flower-wreaths. They talked
about the hero, long after he was gone.

“We will crown him with the loveliest of our
garlands,” said they, “when he returns hither with
the three golden apples, after slaying the dragon
with a hundred heads.”

Meanwhile, Hercules traveled constantly on-
ward, over hill and dale, and through the solitary |
woods. Sometimes she swung:his club aloft, and
splintered a mighty oak with a downright blow.
His mind was so full of the giants and monsters
with whom it was the business of his life to fight,
that perhaps he mistook the great tree for a giant
or a monster. And so eager was Hercules to
achieve what he had undertaken, that he almost
regretted to have spent so much time with the
damsels, wasting idle breath upon the story of his
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 119g

adventures. But thus it always is with persons
who are destined to perform great things. What
they have already done seems less than nothing.
What they have taken in hand to do seems worth
toil, danger, and life itself.

Persons who happened to be passing through
the forest must have been affrighted to see him
smite the trees with his great club. With but a
single blow, the trunk was riven as by the stroke
of lightning, and the broad. boughs came rustling
and crashing down.

Hastening forward, without ever pausing or
looking behind, he by and by heard the sea roar-
ing at a distance. At this sound, he increased
his speed, and soon came to a beach, where the
great surf-waves tumbled themselves upon the
hard sand, in a long line of snowy foam. At one
end of the beach, however, there was a pleasant
spot, where some green shrubbery clambered up a
cliff, making its rocky face look soft and beautiful.
A carpet of verdant grass, largely intermixed with
sweet-smelling clover, covered the narrow space
between the bottom of the cliff and the sea. And
what should Hercules espy there, but an old man,
fast asleep !

But was it really and truly an old man? Cer-
tainly, at first sight, it looked very like one; but, |
on closer inspection, it rather seemed to be some
kind of a creature that lived in the sea. For,
on his legs and arms there were scales, such as
fishes have; he was web-footed and web-fingered,
after the fashion of a duck; and his long beard,
being of a greenish tinge, had more the appear-
120 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

ance of a tuft of sea-weed than of an ordinary
beard. Have you never seen a stick of timber,
that has been long tossed about by the waves, and
has got all overgrown with barnacles, and, at last
drifting ashore, seems to have been thrown up
from the very deepest bottom of the sea? Well,
the old man would have put you in mind of just
such a wave-tost spar! But Hercules, the instant
he set eyes on this strange figure, was convinced
that it could be no other than the Old One, who
was to direct him on his way.

Yes, it was the selfsame Old Man of the Sea
whom the hospitable maidens had talked to him
about. Thanking his stars for the lucky accident
of finding the old fellow asleep, Hercules stole on
tiptoe towards him, and caught him by the arm
and leg.

“Tell me,” cried he, before the Old One was
well awake, “which is the way to the garden of
the Hesperides ? ”

As you may easily imagine, the Old Man of
the Sea awoke in a fright. But his astonish-
ment could hardly have been greater than was
that of Hercules, the next moment. For, all of a
sudden, the Old One seemed to disappear out of
his grasp, and he found himself holding a stag
by the fore and hind leg! But still he kept fast
hold. Then the stag disappeared, and in its stead
there was a sea-bird, fluttering and screaming, ~
while Hercules clutched it by the wing and claw! —
But the bird could not get away. Immediately
afterwards, there was an ugly three-headed dog,
which growled and barked at Hercules, and

THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 121

snapped fiercely at the hands by which he held
him! But Hercules would not let him go. In
another minute, instead of the three-headed dog,
what should appear but Geryon, the six-legged
man-monster, kicking at Hercules with five of
his legs, in order to get the remaining one at
liberty! But Hercules held on. By and by, no
Geryon was there, but a huge snake, like one of
those which Hercules had strangled in his baby-
hood, only a hundred times as big; and it twisted
and twined about the hero’s neck and body, and
threw its tail high into the air, and opened its
deadly jaws as if to devour him outright; so that
it was really a very terrible spectacle! But Her-
cules was no whit disheartened, and squeezed the
great snake so tightly that he soon began to hiss
with pain.

You must understand that the Old Man of the
Sea, though he generally looked so much like the
wave-beaten figure-head of a vessel, had the power
of assuming any shape he pleased. When he
found himself so roughly seized by Hercules, he
had been in hopes of putting him into such sur-
prise and terror, by these magical transformations,
that the hero would be glad to let him go. If
Hercules had relaxed his grasp, the Old One
would certainly have plunged down to the very
bottom of the sea, whence he would not soon have
given himself the trouble of coming up, in order
to answer any impertinent questions. Ninety-
nine people out of a hundred, I suppose, would
have been frightened out of their wits by the
very first of his ugly shapes, and would have taken
122 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES.

to their heels at once. For, one of the hardest
things in this world is, to see the difference be-
tween real danger and imaginary ones. .

But, as Hercules held on so stubbornly, and
only squeezed the Old One so much the tighter
at every change of shape, and really put him to
no small torture, he finally thought it best to re
appear in his own figure. So there he was again,
a fishy, scaly, web-footed sort of personage, with
something like a tuft of sea-weed at his chin.

“ Pray, what do you want with me?” cried the
Old One, as soon as he could take breath; for it
is quite a tiresome affair to go through so many
false shapes. “Why do you squeeze me so hard ?
Let me go, this moment, or I shall begin to con-
sider you an extremely uncivil person !”

“My name is Hercules!” roared the mighty
stranger. “ And you will never get out of my
clutch, until you tell me the nearest way to the
garden of the Hesperides!”

When the old fellow heard who it was that had |
caught him, he saw, with half an eye, that it would
be necessary to tell him everything that he wanted
to know. The Old One was an inhabitant of .
the sea, you must recollect, and roamed about
everywhere, like other seafaring people. Of
course, he had often heard of the fame of Hercu-
les, and of the wonderful things that he was con-
stantly performing, in various parts of the earth,
and how determined he always was to accomplish
whatever he undertook. He therefore made no
more attempts to escape, but told the hero how
to find the garden of the Hesperides, and like-
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 123

wise warned him of many difficulties which must
be overcome, before he could arrive thither.

“ You must go on, thus and thus,” said the Old
Man of the Sea, after taking the points of the
compass, “till you come in sight of a very tall
giant, who holds the sky on his shoulders. “And
the giant, if he happens to be in the humor, will
tell you exactly where the garden of the Hesper-
ides lies.” :

“ And if the giant happens not to be in the hu-
mor,” remarked Hercules, balancing his club on
the tip of his finger, “ perhaps I shall find means
to persuade him!”

Thanking the Old Man of the Sea, and begging
his pardon for having squeezed him so roughly,
the hero resumed his journey. He met with a
great many strange adventures, which would be
well worth your hearing, if I had leisure to narrate
_them as minutely as they deserve.

It was in this journey, if I mistake not, that he
encountered a prodigious giant, who was so won-
derfully contrived by nature, that every time he
touched the earth he became ten times as strong
as ever he had been before. His name was An-
taeus. You may see, plainly enough, that it was
a very difficult business to fight with such a fel-
low; for, as often as he got a knock-down: blow,
up he started again, stronger, fiercer, and abler to
use his weapons, than if his enemy had let him
alone. Thus, the harder Hercules pounded the
giant with his club, the further he seemed from
winning the victory.. I have sometimes argued
with such people, but never fought with one.
I24 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES...

The only way in which Hercules found it possi-
ble to finish the battle, was by lifting Antzeus off
his feet into the air, and squeezing, and squeezing,
and squeezing him, until, finally, the strength was
quite squeezed out of his enormous body.

When this affair was finished, Hercules con-
tinued his travels, and went to the land of Egypt,
where he was taken prisoner, and would have
been put to death, if he had not slain the king
of the country, and made his escape. Passing
through the deserts of Africa, and going as fast
as he could, he arrived at last on the shore of the
great ocean. And here, unless he could walk on
the crests of the billows, it seemed as if his jour-
ney must needs be at an end.

Nothing was before him, save the foaming,
dashing, measureless. ocean. But, suddenly, as
he looked towards the horizon, he saw something,
a great way off, which he had not seen the mo-
ment before. It gleamed very brightly, almost as
you may have beheld the round, golden disk of
the sun, when it rises or sets over the edge of the
world. It evidently drew nearer; for, at every
instant, this wonderful object became larger and
more lustrous. At length, it had come so nigh
that Hercules discovered it to be an immense cup
or bowl, made either of gold or burnished brass.
How it had got afloat upon the sea is more than
I can tell you. There it was, at all events, rolling
on the tumultuous billows, which tossed it up and
down, and heaved their foamy tops against its
sides, but without ever throwing their spray over
the brim.
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 125

“T have seen many giants, in my time,” thought
Hercules, “ but never one that would need to drink
his wine out of a cup like this!”

And, true enough, what a cup it must have
been! It was as large —as large — but, in short,
I am afraid to say how immeasurably large it was.
To speak within bounds, it was ten times larger
than a great mill-wheel; and, all of metal as it
was, it floated over the heaving surges more lightly
than an acorn-cup adown the brook. The waves
tumbled it onward, until it grazed against the
shore, within a short distance of the spot where
Hercules was standing.

As soon as this happened, he knew what was
to be done; for he had not gone through so many
remarkable adventures without learning pretty
well how to conduct himself, whenever anything
came to pass a little out of the common rule. It
was just as clear as daylight that this marvelous
cup had been set adrift by some unseen power,
and guided hitherward, in order to carry Hercules
across the sea, on his way to the garden of the
Hesperides. Accordingly, without’ a moment’s
delay, he clambered over the brim, and slid down
on the inside, where, spreading’ out his lion’s
skin, he proceeded to take a little repose. He
had scarcely rested, until now, since he bade fare-
well to the damsels on the margin of the river.
The waves dashed, with a pleasant and ringing
sound, against the circumference of the hollow
cup; it rocked lightly to and fro, and the motion
was so soothing that it speedily rocked Hercules
into an agreeable slumber.
126 | THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

His nap had probably lasted a good while, when:
the cup chanced to graze against a rock, and, in
consequence, immediately resounded and _ rever-
berated through its golden or brazen substance,
a hundred times as loudly as ever you heard a
church-bell. The noise awoke Hercules, who in-
stantly started up and gazed around him, wonder-
ing whereabouts he was. He was not long in
discovering that the cup had floated across a great
part of the sea, and was approaching the shore of
what seemed to be anisland. And, on that island,
what do you think he saw? :

No; you will never guess it, not if you were to
try fifty thousand times! It positively appears to
me that this was the most marvelous spectacle
that had ever been seen by Hercules, in the whole
course of his wonderful travels and adventures.
It was a greater marvel than the hydra with nine
heads, which kept growing twice as fast as they
were cut off; greater than the sixlegged man-
monster ; greater than Antzeus; greater than any-
thing that was ever beheld by anybody, before or
since the days of Hercules, or than anything that
remains to be beheld, by travelers in all time to
come. — It was a giant!

But such an intolerably big giant! A giant as
tall as a mountain; so vast a giant, that the clouds
rested about his midst, like a girdle, and hung like
a hoary beard from his chin, and flitted before his
huge eyes, so that he could neither see Hercules
nor the golden cup in which he was voyaging.
And, most wonderful of all, the giant held up his
great hands and appeared to support the sky,

THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 127

which, so far as Hercules could discern through
the clouds, was resting upon his head! This does
really seem almost too much to believe.

Meanwhile, the bright cup continued to float
onward, and finally touched the strand. Just
then a breeze wafted away the clouds from before
the giant’s visage, and Hercules beheld it, with all
its enormous features; eyes each of them as big
as yonder lake, a nose a mile long, and a mouth
of the same width. It was a countenance terrible
from its enormity of size, but disconsolate and
weary, even as you may see the faces of many
people, nowadays, who are compelled to sustain
burdens above their strength. What the sky was
to the giant, such are the cares of earth to those
who let themselves be weighed down by them.
And whenever men undertake what is beyond the
just measure of their abilities, they encounter
precisely such a doom as had befallen this poor
giant.

Poor fellow! He had evidently stood there a
long while. An ancient forest had been growing
and decaying around his feet; and oak-trees, of
six or seven centuries old, had sprung from the
acorn, and forced themselves between his toes. .

The giant now looked down from the far height
of his great eyes, and, perceiving Hercules, roared
out, in a voice that resembled thunder, proceeding
out of the cloud that had just flitted away from
his face.

“Who are you, down at my feet there? And
whence do you come, in that little cup?”

“TI am Hercules!” thundered back the hero,
128 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

in a voice pretty nearly or quite as loud as the
giant’s own. “And Iam seeking for the garden
of the Hesperides!”

“Ho! ho! ho!” roared the giant, ina fit of
immense laughter. ‘That is a wise adventure,
truly!”

“ And why not?” cried Hercules, getting a lit-
tle angry at the giant’s mirth. “Do you think I
am afraid of the dragon with a hundred heads!”

Just at this time, while they were talking to-
gether, some black clouds gathered about the gi-
ant’s middle, and burst into a tremendous storm
of thunder and lightning, causing such a pother
that Hercules found it impossible to distinguish
aword. Only the giant’s immeasurable legs were
to be seen, standing up into the obscurity of the
tempest ; and, now and then, a momentary glimpse
of his whole figure, mantled in a volume of mist.
He seemed to be speaking, most of the time; but
his big, deep, rough voice chimed in with the re-
verberations of the thunder-claps, and rolled away
over the hills, like them. Thus, by talking out
of season, the foolish giant expended an incalcu-
lable quantity of breath, to no purpose; for the
thunder spoke quite as intelligibly as he. .

At last, the storm swept over, as suddenly as it
had come. And there again was the clear sky,
and the weary giant holding it up, and the pleas-
ant sunshine beaming over his vast height, and
illuminating it against the background of the
sullen thunder-clouds. So far above the shower
had been his head, that not a hair of it was moist-
ened by the rain-drops !
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 129

When the giant could see Hercules still stand-
ing on the sea-shore, he roared out to him anew.

“Tam Atlas, the mightiest giant in the world!
And I hold the sky upon my head!”

“So I see,” answered Hercules.“ But, can
you show me the way to the garden of the Hes-
perides?”

“ What do you want there?” asked the giant.

“I want three of the golden apples,” shouted
Hercules, “for my cousin, the king.”

“ There is nobody but myself,” quoth the giant,
“that can go to the garden of the Hesperides, and
gather the golden apples. If it were not for this
little business of holding up the sky, I would
make half a dozen steps across the sea, and get
them for you.”

“Youware very kind,” replied Hercules. “And
cannot you rest the sky upon a mountain?”

“None of them are quite high enough,” said
Atlas, shaking his head. “ But, if you were to
take your stand on the summit of that nearest
one, your head would be pretty nearly on a level
with mine. You seem to be a fellow of some
strength. What if you should take my burden
on your shoulders, while I do your errand for
you?”

Hercules, as you must be careful to remember,
was a remarkably strong man; and though it
certainly requires a great deal of muscular power
to uphold the sky, yet, if any mortal could be sup-
posed capable of such an exploit, he was the one.
Nevertheless, it seemed so difficult an undertak-
ing, that, for the first time in his life, he hesitated.
130 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

“Is the sky very heavy?” he inquired.

“ Why, not particularly so, at first,” answered the
giant, shrugging his shoulders. “ But it gets to
be a little burdensome, after a thousand years!”

“And how long a time,” asked the hero, “ will
it take you to get the golden apples?”

“Oh, that will be done in a few moments,”
cried Atlas. “I shall take ten or fifteen miles at
a stride, and be at the garden and back again
before your shoulders begin to ache.”

« Well, then,” answered Hercules, “I will climb
the mountain behind you there, and relieve you of
your burden.”

The truth is, Hercules had a kind heart of his
own, and considered that he should be doing the
giant a favor, by allowing him this opportunity
for a ramble. And, besides, he thought that it
would be still more for his own glory, if he could
boast of upholding the sky, than merely to do so
ordinary a thing as to conquer a dragon with
a hundred heads. Accordingly, without more
words, the sky was shifted from the shoulders of
Atlas, and placed upon those of Hercules.

When this was safely accomplished, the first
thing that the giant did was to stretch himself;
and you may imagine what a prodigious spectacle
he was then. Next, he slowly lifted one of his
feet out of the forest that had grown up around
it; then, the other. Then, all at once, he began
to caper, and leap, and dance, for joy at his free-
dom; flinging himself nobody knows how high
into the air, and floundering down again with a
shock that made the earth tremble. Then he
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 131

laughed — Ho! ho! ho! — with a thunderous roar
that was echoed from the mountains, far and near,
as if they and the giant had been so many rejol-
cing brothers. When his joy had a little subsided,
he stepped into the sea; ten miles at the first
stride, which brought him midleg deep; and ten
miles at the second, when the water came just
above his knees; and ten miles more at the third,
by which he was immersed nearly to his waist.
This was the greatest depth of the sea.

Hercules watched the giant, as he still went
onward; for it was really a wonderful sight, this
immense human form, more than thirty miles off,
half hidden in the ocean, but with his upper half
as tall, and misty, and blue, as a distant mountain.
At last the gigantic shape faded entirely out of
view. And now Hercules began to consider what
he should do, in case Atlas should be drowned in
the sea, or if he were to be stung to death by the
dragon with the hundred heads, which guarded
the golden apples of the Hesperides. If any such *
misfortune were to happen, how could he ever get
rid of the sky? And, by the by, its weight began
already to be a little irksome to his head and
shoulders.

“T really pity the poor giant,” thought Hercules.
“If it wearies me so much in ten minutes, how
must it have wearied him in a thousand years!”

O my sweet little people, you have no idea
what a weight there was in that same blue sky,
which looks so soft and aérial above our heads!
And there, too, was the bluster of the wind, and
the chill and watery clouds, and the blazing sun,
132 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

all taking their turns to make Hercules uncom-
fortable! He began to be afraid that the giant
would never come back. He gazed. wistfully at
the world beneath him, and acknowledged to him-
self that it was a far happier kind of life to be
a shepherd at the foot of a mountain, than to
stand on its dizzy summit, and bear up the firma-
ment with his might and main. For, of course,
as you will easily understand, Hercules had an
immense responsibility on his mind, as well as a
weight on his head and shoulders. Why, if he did
not stand perfectly still, and keep the sky immoyv-
able, the sun would perhaps be put ajar! Or,
after nightfall, a great many of the stars might be
loosened from their places, and shower down, like
fiery rain, upon the people’s heads! And how
ashamed would the hero be, if, owing to his un-
steadiness beneath its weight, the sky should
crack, and show a great fissure quite across it!

I know not how long it was before, to his un-
speakable joy, he beheld the huge shape of the |
giant, like a cloud, on the far-off edge of the sea.
‘At his nearer approach, Atlas held up his hand,
in which Hercules could perceive three magnifi-
cent golden apples, as big as pumpkins, all hang-
ing from one branch.

“Tam glad to see you again,” shouted Hercules,
when the giant was within hearing. “ So you
have got the golden apples?”

“Certainly, certainly,” answered Atlas; “and
very fair apples they are. I took the finest that
grew on the tree, I assure you. Ah! it is a beau-
fiful spot, that garden of the Hesperides. Yes;
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 1333

and the dragon with a hundred heads is a sight
worth any man’s seeing. After all, you had bet-
ter have gone for the apples yourself.”

“No matter,” replied Hercules. “You have
had a pleasant ramble, and have done the busi-
ness as well as I could. I heartily thank you for
your trouble. And now, as I have a long way to
go, and am rather in haste, — and as the king, my
cousin, is anxious to receive the golden apples, —
will you be kind enough to take the sky off my
shoulders again? ”

“ Why, as to that,” said the giant, chucking the
golden apples into the air twenty miles high, or
thereabouts, and catching them as they came
down, —“as to that, my good friend, I consider
you a little unreasonable. Cannot I carry the
golden apples to the king, your cousin, much
quicker than you could? As his majesty is in
such a hurry to get them, I promise you to take
my longest strides. And, besides, I have no fancy
for burdening myself with the sky, just now.”

Here Hercules grew impatient, and gave a
great shrug of his shoulders. It being now twi-
light, you might have seen two or three stars
tumble out of their places. Everybody on earth
looked upward in affright, thinking that the sky
might be going to fall next.

“ Oh, that will never do!” cried Giant Atlas,
with a great roarof laughter. “I have not let fall
sO many stars within the last five centuries. By
the time you have stood there as long as I did,
you will begin to learn patience!”

“What!” shouted Hercules, very wrathfully,
134 THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

“do you intend to make me bear this burden for-
ever?”

“ We will see about that, one of these dave? an-
swered the giant. “At all events, you ought not
to complain, if you have to bear it the next hun-
dred years, or perhaps the next thousand. I bore
it a good while longer, in spite of the back-ache.
Well, then, after a thousand years, if I happen to
feel in the mood, we may possibly shift about
again. You are certainly a very strong man, and
can never have a better opportunity to prove it.
Posterity will talk of you, I warrant it!”

“ Pish! a fig for its talk!” cried Hercules, with
another hitch of his shoulders. “Just take the
sky upon your head one instant, will you? I want
to make a cushion of my lion’s skin, for the weight
to rest upon. It really chafes me, and will cause
unnecessary inconvenience in so many centuries
as I am to stand here.”

“That’s no more than fair, and I’ll do it!”
quoth the giant; for he had no unkind feeling to-
wards Hercules, and was merely acting with a too |
selfish consideration of his own ease. “ For just
five minutes, then, Ill take back the sky. Only
for five minutes, recollect! I have no idea of
spending another thousand years as I spent the
last. Variety is the spice of life, say I.”

Ah, the thick-witted old rogue of a giant! He
threw down the golden apples, and received back
the sky, from the head and shoulders of Hercules,
upon his own, where it rightly belonged. And
Hercules picked up. the three golden apples,
that were as big or bigger than pumpkins, and
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES 135

straightway set out on his journey homeward,
without paying the slightest heed to the thunder-
ing tones of the giant, who bellowed after him to
come back. Another forest sprang up around
his feet, and grew ancient there; and again might
be seen oak-trees, of six or seven centuries old,
that had waxed thus aged betwixt his enormous
toes.

And there stands the giant to this day; or, at
any rate, there stands a mountain as tall as he,
and which bears his name; and when the thun-
der rumbles about its summit, we may imagine it
to be the voice of Giant Atlas, bellowing after
Hercules!











VOR Gis <

2 Cee Ake
STORY - Oi]





sk Ag 4) OUSIN EUSTACE,” de.
WN Led manded Sweet Fern, who
~\" Pea, had been sitting at the

mouth wide open, “ exactly
how tall was this giant ? ”

“O Sweet Fern, Sweet
Fern!” cried the student.
“Do you think that I was
there, to measure him with a yard-stick? Well,
if you must know to a hair’s-breadth, I suppose
he might be from three to fifteen miles straight
upward, and that he might have seated himself
on Taconic, and had Monument Mountain for a
footstool.”

“Dear me!” ejaculated the good little boy,
with a contented sort of a grunt, “ that was a gi-
ant, sure enough! And how long was his little
finger?”

“As long as from Tanglewood to the lake,”
said Eustace.

“Sure enough, that was a giant!” repeated
Sweet Fern, in an ecstasy at the precision of these

_ 136



TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE 137

measurements. “ And how broad, I wonder, were
the shoulders of Hercules?”

“That is what I have never been able to find

out,” answered the student. “But I think they
must have been a great deal broader than mine,
or than your father’s, or than almost any shoulders
which one sees nowadays.”

“TI wish,” whispered Sweet Fern, with his
mouth close to the student’s ear, “that you would
tell me how big were some of the oak-trees that
grew between the giant’s toes.”

“They were bigger,” said Eustace; “than the
great chestnut-tree which stands beyond Captain
Smith’s house.”

“Eustace,” remarked Mr. Pringle, after some
deliberation, “I find it impossible to express
such an opinion of this story as will be likely to
gratify, in the smallest degree, your pride of au-
thorship. Pray let me advise you never more to
meddle with a classical myth. Your imagination
is altogether Gothic, and will inevitably Gothicize
everything that you touch. The effect is like be-
daubing a marble statue with paint. This giant,
now! How can you have ventured to thrust his
huge, disproportioned mass among the seemly
outlines of Grecian fable, the tendency of which
is to reduce even the extravagant within limits, by
its pervading elegance?”

“I described the giant as he appeared’ to me,”
replied the student, rather piqued. “And, sir, if
you would only bring your mind into such a rela-
tion with these fables as is necessary in order to
remodel them, you would see at once that an old
138 TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE

Greek had no more exclusive right to them than
a modern Yankee has. They are the common
property of the world, and of all time. The an-
cient poets remodeled them at pleasure, and held
them plastic in their hands; and why should they
not be plastic in my hands as well?”

Mr. Pringle could not forbear a smile.

“ And besides,” continued Eustace, “the mo-.-
ment you put any warmth of heart, any passion or
affection, any human or divine morality, into a
classic mould, you make it quite another thing from
what it was before. My own opinion is, that the
Greeks, by taking possession of these legends
(which were the immemorial birthright of man-
kind), and putting them into shapes of indestruc-
tible beauty, indeed, but cold and heartless, have
done all subsequent ages an incalculable injury.”

“Which you, doubtless, were born to remedy,”
said Mr. Pringle, laughing outright. “ Well,
well, go on; but take my advice, and never put
any of your travesties on paper. And, as your
next effort, what if you should try your hand on
some one of the legends of Apollo?”

“ Ah, sir, you propose it as an impossibility,”
observed the student, after a moment’s medita-
tion; “and, to be sure, at first thought, the idea
of a Gothic Apollo strikes one rather ludicrously.
But I will turn over your suggestion in my mind,
and do not quite despair of success.” __

During the above discussion, the children (who
understood not a word of it) had grown very
sleepy, and were now sent off to bed. Their
drowsy babble was heard, ascending the staircase,
TANGLEWOOD FIRESIDE 139

while a northwest wind roared loudly among the
tree-tops of Tanglewood, and played an anthem
around the house. Eustace Bright went back to
the study, and again endeavored to hammer out
some verses, but fell asleep between two of the
rhymes.


THE HILL-SIDE 143

Cousin Eustace, therefore, has decided to leave
Sweet Fern, Cowslip, Squash-Blossom, and Dan-
delion, at this point, midway up, until the return
of the rest of the party from the summit. And
because they complain a little, and do not quite
like to stay behind, he gives them some apples
out of his pocket, and proposes to tell them a
very pretty story. Hereupon they brighten up,
and change their grieved looks into the broadest
kind of smiles.

As for the story, I was there to hear it, hidden
behind a bush, and shall tell it over to you in the
pages that come next.





ND when, and where, do you
think we find the children
next? No longer in the win-
ter-time, but in the merry
month of May. No longer in
Tanglewood play-room, or at
Tanglewood fireside, but more
than halfway up a monstrous hill, or a mountain,
as perhaps it would be better pleased to have us
call it. They had set out from home with the
mighty purpose of climbing this high hill, even
to the very tiptop of its bald head. To be sure,
it was not quite so high as Chimborazo or Mont
Blanc, and was even a good deal lower than old
Graylock. But, at any rate, it was higher than a
thousand ant-hillocks or a million of mole-hills ;
and, when measured by the short strides of little
children, might be reckoned a very respectable
mountain.

And was Cousin Eustace with the party? Of
that you may be certain; else how could the book
go on astep farther? He was now in the middle

of the spring vacation, and looked pretty much as
140
THE HILL-SIDE 141

we saw him four or five months ago, except that,
if you gazed quite closely at his upper lip, you
could discern the funniest little bit of a mustache
upon it. Setting aside this mark of mature man-
hood, you might have considered Cousin Eustace
just as much a boy as when you first became ac-
quainted with him. He was as merry, as playful,
as good-humored, as light of foot and of spirits,
and equally a favorite with the little folks, as he
had always been. This expedition up the moun-
tain was entirely of his contrivance. All the way
up the steep ascent, he had encouraged the elder
children with his cheerful voice; and when Dan-
delion, Cowslip, and Squash-Blossom grew weary,
he had lugged them along, alternately, on his
back. In this manner, they had passed through
the orchards and pastures on the lower part of the
hill, and had reached the wood, which extends
thence towards its bare summit.

The month of May, thus far, had been more
amiable than it often is,and this was as sweet and
genial a day as the heart of man or child could
wish. In their progress up the hill, the small
people had found enough of violets, blue and
white, and some that were as golden as if they
had the touch of Midas on them. That sociablest
of flowers, the little Houstonia, was very abun-
dant. It is a flower that never lives alone, but
which loves its own kind, and is always fond of
dwelling with a great many friends and relatives
around it. Sometimes you see a family of them,
covering a space no bigger than the palm of your
hand; and sometimes a large community, whiten-
142 THE HILL-SIDE

ing a whole tract of pasture, and all keeping one
another in cheerful heart and life.

Within the verge of the wood there were col-
umbines, looking more pale than red, because
they were so modest, and had thought proper to
seclude themselves too anxiously from the sun.
There were wild geraniums, too, and a thousand
white blossoms of the strawberry. The trailing
arbutus was not yet. quite out of bloom; but it
hid its precious flowers under the last yeat’s with-
ered forest-leaves, as carefully as a mother-bird
hides its little young ones. It knew, I suppose,
how beautiful and sweet-scented they were. So
cunning was their concealment, that the children
sometimes smelt the delicate richness of their
perfume before they knew whence it proceeded.

Amid so ‘much new life, it was strange and
truly pitiful to behold, here and there, i in the fields
and pastures, the hoary periwigs of dandelions
that had already gone to seed. They had done
with summer before the summer came. Within
those small globes of winged) seeds it was autumn
now |

Well, but we must not waste our valuable pages
with any more talk about the spring-time and wild
flowers. There is something, we hope, more in- |
teresting to be talked about. If you look at the
group of children, you may see them all gathered
around Eustace Bright, who, sitting on the stump
of a tree, seems to be just beginning a story. The
fact is, the younger part of the troop have found
out that it takes rather too many of their short
strides to,measure the long ascent of the’ hill.
WEF LAY
: NET Cat NOK

SOE *
ror : y,
ALU S








i) NE evening, in times long
ago, old Philemon and his old
wife Baucis sat at their cot-
tage-door, enjoying the calm
and beautiful sunset. They
#\ had already eaten their frugal
— supper, and intended now to
spend a quiet hour or two before bedtime. So
they talked together about their garden, and their
cow, and their bees, and their grapevine, which
clambered over the cottage-wall, and on which
the grapes were beginning to turn purple. But
the rude shouts of children and the fierce barking
of dogs, in the village near at hand, grew louder
and louder, until, at last, it was hardly possible for
Baucis and Philemon to hear each other speak.

“ Ah, wife,” cried Philemon, “I fear some poor
traveler is seeking hospitality among our neigh-
bors yonder, and, instead of giving him food and
lodging, they have set their dogs at him, as their
custom is!”

“ Well-a-day!” answered old Baucis, “I do wish
our neighbors felt a little more kindness for their
144

THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 148

fellow-creatures. And only think of bringing up
their children in this naughty way, and patting
them on the head when they fling stones at stran-
gers!”

~« Those children will never come to any good,”
said Philemon, shaking his white head. “To tell
you the truth, wife, I should not wonder if some
terrible thing were to happen to all the people in |
the village unless they mend their manners. But,
as for you and me, so long as Providence affords
us a crust of bread, let us be ready to give half to
any poor, homeless stranger that may come along
and need it.”

“That’s right, husband!” said Baucis. “So
we will!”

These old folks, you must know, were quite
poor, and had to work pretty hard for a living.
Old Philemon toiled diligently in his garden, while
Baucis was always busy with her distaff, or making
a little butter and cheese with their cow’s milk, or
doing one thing and another about the cottage.
Their food was seldom anything but bread, milk,
and vegetables, with sometimes a portion of honey
from their beehive, and now and then a bunch of
grapes, that had ripened against the cottage wall.
But they were two of the kindest old people in the
world, and would cheerfully have gone without
their dinners, any day, rather than refuse a slice of
their brown loaf, a cup of new milk, and a spoon-
ful of honey, to the weary traveler who might
pause before their door. They felt as if such
guests had a sort of holiness, and that they ought,
therefore, to treat them better and more bounti-
fully than their own selves.
146 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

Their cottage stood on a rising ground, at some
short distance from a village, which lay in a hol-
low valley, that was about half a mile in breadth.
This valley, in past ages, when the world was new,
had probably been the bed of a lake. There,
fishes had glided to and fro in the depths, and
water-weeds had grown along the margin, and
trees and hills had seen their reflected images in |
the broad and peaceful mirror. But, as the waters
subsided, men had cultivated the soil, and built
houses on it, so that it was now a fertile spot, and-
bore no traces of the ancient lake, except a very
small brook, which meandered through the midst
of the village, and supplied the inhabitants with
water. The valley had been dry land so long,
that oaks had sprung up, and grown great and
high, and perished with old age, and been suc-
ceeded by others, as tall and stately as the first.
Never was there a prettier or more fruitful valley.
The very sight of the plenty around them should
have made the inhabitants kind and gentle, and
ready to show their gratitude to Providence by
doing good to their fellow-creatures.

But, we are sorry to say, the people of this
lovely village were not worthy to dwell in a spot
on which Heaven had smiled so beneficently.
They were a very selfish and hard-hearted people,
and had no pity for the poor, nor sympathy with
the homeless. They would only have laughed,
had anybody told them that human beings owe a
debt of love to one another, because there is no
other method of paying the debt of love and care
which all of us owe to Providence. You will
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 147

hardly believe what I am going to tell you. These
naughty people taught their children to be no
better than themselves, and used to clap their
hands, by way of encouragement, when they saw
the little boys and girls run after some poor
stranger, shouting at his heels and pelting him
with stones. They kept. large and fierce dogs,
and whenever a traveler ventured to show him-
self in the village street, this pack of disagreeable
curs scampered to meet him, barking, snarling,
and showing their teeth. Then they would seize
him by his leg, or by his clothes, just as it hap-
pened; and if he were ragged when he came, he
was generally a pitiable object before he had time
to run away. This was a very terrible thing to
poor travelers, as you may suppose, especially
when they chanced to be sick, or feeble, or lame, -
or old. Such persons (if they once knew how
badly these unkind people, and their unkind chil-
dren and curs, were in the habit of behaving)
would go miles and miles out of their way, rather
than try to pass through the village again.

What made the matter seem worse, if possible,
was that when rich persons came in their chariots,
or riding on beautiful horses, with their servants
in rich liveries attending on them, nobody could
be more civil and obsequious than the inhabitants
of the village. They would take off their hats,
and make the humblest bows you ever saw. If
the children were rude, they were pretty certain to
get their ears boxed; and as for the dogs, if a sin-
gle cur in the pack presumed to yelp, his master
instantly beat him with a club, and tied him up
148 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

without any supper. This would have been all
very well, only it proved that the villagers cared
much about the money that a stranger had in his
pocket, and nothing whatever for the human soul,
which lives equally in the beggar and the prince.

So now you can understand why old Philemon
spoke so sorrowfully, when he heard the shouts
of the children and the barking of the dogs, at the
farther extremity of the village street. There was
a confused din, which lasted a good while, and
seemed to pass quite through the breadth of the
valley.

“IT never heard the dogs so loud!” observed th
good old man.

“ Nor the children so rude!” answered his good

old wife.

They sat shaking their heads, one to another,
while the noise came nearer and nearer; until, at
the foot of the little eminence on which their cot-
tage stood, they saw two travelers approaching on
foot. Close behind them came the fierce dogs,
snarling at their very heels. A little farther off,
ran a crowd of children, who sent up shrill cries,
and flung stones at the two strangers, with all their
might. Once or twice, the younger of the two ~
men (he was a slender and very active figure)
turned about and drove back the dogs;with a staff
which he carried in his hand. His companion,
who was a very tall person, walked calmly along,
as if disdaining to notice either the naughty chil-
dren, or the pack of curs, whose manners the chil-
dren seemed ‘to imitate.

Both of the travelers were very humbly clad,

THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 149

and looked as if they might not have money
enough in their pockets to pay for a night’s lodg-
ing. And this, I am afraid, was the reason why
the villagers had allowed their children and dogs
to treat them so rudely.

“Come, wife,” said Philemon to Baucis, “let us
go and meet these poor people. No doubt, the
feel almost too heavy-hearted to climb the hill.”

“Go you and meet them,” answered Baucis,
“ while I make haste within doors, and see whether
we can get them anything for supper. A com-
fortable bowl of bread and milk would do wonders
towards raising their spirits.”

Accordingly, she hastened into the cottage.
Philemon, on his part, went forward, and extended
his hand with so hospitable an aspect that there
was no need of saying what nevertheless he did
say, in the heartiest tone imaginable, —

“ Welcome, strangers! welcome!”

“Thank you!” replied the younger of the two,
in a lively kind of way, notwithstanding his weari-
ness and trouble. “This is quite another greet-
ing than we have met with yonder in the village.
Pray, why do you live in such a bad neighbor-
hood?”

“ Ah!” observed old Philemon, with a quiet and
benign smile, “ Providence put me here, I hope,
among other reasons, in order that I may make
you what amends I can for the inhospitality of
my neighbors.”

“Well said, old father!” cried the traveler,
laughing; “and, if the. truth must be told, my
companion and myself need some amends. Those
150 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

children (the little rascals!) have bespattered us
finely with their mud-balls; and one of the curs
_has torn my cloak, which was ragged enough al-
ready. But I took him across the muzzle with
my staff; and I think you may have heard him
yelp, even thus far off.”

Philemon was glad to see him in such good
spirits; nor, indeed, would you have fancied, by
the traveler’s look and manner, that he was weary
with a long day’s journey, besides being disheart-
ened by rough treatment at the end of it. He
was dressed in rather an odd way, with a sort of
cap on his head, the brim of which stuck out over
both ears. Though it was a summer evening, he
wore a‘cloak, which he kept wrapt closely about
him, perhaps because his under garments were
shabby. Philemon perceived, too, that he had on
a singular pair of shoes; but, as it was now grow-
ing dusk, and as the old man’s eyesight was none
the sharpest, he could not precisely tell in what
the strangeness consisted. One thing, certainly,
seemed queer. The traveler was so wonderfully
light and active, that it appeared as if his feet
sometimes rose from the ground of their own ac-
cord, or could only be kept down by an effort.

“T used to be light-footed, in my youth,” said
Philemon to the traveler. “ But I always found
my feet, grow heavier towards nightfall.”

“ There is nothing like a good staff to help one
along,” answered the stranger; “and I happen to
have an excellent one, as you see.”

This staff, in fact, was the oddest-looking staff
that Philemon had ever beheld. It was made of
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER I5t

olive-wood, and had something like a little pair of
wings near the top. Two snakes, carved in the
wood, were represented as twining themselves
about the staff, and were so very skillfully exe-
cuted that old Philemon (whose eyes, you know,
were getting rather dim) almost thought them
alive, and that he could see them wriggling and
twisting,

“A curious piece of work, sure enough!” said
he. “A staff with wings! It would be an excellent
kind of stick for a little boy to ride astride of!”

By this time, Philemon and his two guests had
reached the cottage door.

“ Friends,” said the old man, “sit down and rest
yourselves here on this bench. My good wife
Baucis has gone to see what you can have for
supper. We are poor folks; but you shall be wel-
come to whatever we have in the cupboard.”

The younger stranger threw himself carelessly
on the bench, letting his staff fall, as he did so.
And here happened something rather marvelous,
though trifling enough, too. The staff seemed to
get up from the ground of its own accord, and,
spreading its little pair of wings, it half hopped,
half flew, and leaned itself against the wall of the
cottage. There it stood quite still, except that
the snakes continued to wriggle. But, in m
private opinion, old Philemon’s eyesight had been
playing him tricks again.

Before he could ask any questions, the elder
stranger drew his attention from the wonderful
staff, by speaking to him.

“Was there not,” asked the stranger, in a re-
152, THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

markably deep tone of voice, “a lake, in very
ancient times, covering the spot where now stands
yonder village?”

“ Not in my day, friend,” answered Philemon;
“and yet Iam an old man, as you see. There
were always the fields and meadows, just as they
are now, and the old trees, and the little stream
murmuring through the midst of the valley. My
father, nor his father before him, ever saw it other-
wise, so far as I know; and doubtless it will still
be the same, when old Philemon shall be gone
and forgotten! ”

“That is more than can be safely foretold,”
observed the stranger; and there was something
very stern in his deep voice. He shook his head,
too, so that his dark and heavy curls were shaken
with the movement. “Since the inhabitants of
yonder village have forgotten the affections and
sympathies of their nature, it were better that
the lake should be rippling over their dwellings
again!”

The traveler looked so stern that Philemon
was really almost frightened; the more so, that,
at his frown, the twilight seemed suddenly to grow
darker, and that, when he shook his head, there
was a roll as of thunder in the air.

But, in a moment afterwards, the stranger’s face
became so kindly and mild that the old man quite
forgot his terror. Nevertheless, he could not help
feeling that this elder traveler must be no ordi-
nary personage, although he happened now to be
attired so humbly and to be journeying on foot.
Not that Philemon fancied him a prince in dis-
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 153

guise, or any character of that sort; but rather
some exceedingly wise man, who went about the
world in this poor garb, despising wealth and all
worldly objects, and seeking everywhere to add
a mite to his wisdom. This idea appeared the
more probable, because, when Philemon raised
his eyes to the stranger’s face, he seemed to see
more thought there, in one look, than he could
have studied out in a lifetime.

While Baucis was getting the supper, the trav-
elers both began to talk very sociably with Phile-
mon. The younger, indeed, was extremely loqua-
cious, and made such shrewd and witty remarks,
-that the good old man continually “burst out
a-laughing, and pronounced him the merriest fel-
low whom he had seen for many a day.

“ Pray, my young friend,” said he, as they grew
familiar together, “ what may I call your name?”

“Why, I am very nimble, as you see,” answered
the traveler. “So, if you call me Quicksilver,
the name will fit tolerably well.”

“Quicksilver? Quicksilver?” repeated Phile-
mon, looking in the traveler’s face, to see if he
were making fun of him. “It isa very odd name!
And your companion there? Has he as strange
a one?”

“You must ask the thunder to tell it you!” re-
plied Quicksilver, putting on a mysterious look.
“ No other voice is loud enough.”

This remark, whether it were serious or in jest,
might have caused Philemon to conceive a very
great awe of the elder stranger, if, on venturing
to gaze at him, he had not beheld so much beneft-
154 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

cence in his visage. But, undoubtedly, here was
the grandest figure that ever sat so humbly beside
a cottage door. When the stranger conversed, it
was with gravity, and in such a way that Phile-
mon felt irresistibly moved to tell him everything
which he had most at heart. This is always the
feeling that people have, when they meet with
any one wise enough to comprehend all their good
and evil, and to despise not a tittle of it.

But Philemon, simple and kind-hearted old
man that he was, had not many secrets to dis-
close. He _ talked, however, quite garrulously,
about the events of his past life, in the whole
course of which he had never been a score of
miles from this very spot. His wife Baucis and
himself had dwelt in the cottage from their youth
upward, earning their bread by honest labor, al-
ways poor, but still contented. He told what ex-
cellent butter and cheese Baucis made, and how
nice were the vegetables which he raised in his
garden. He said, too, that, because they loved
one another so very much, it was the wish of
both that death might not separate them, but that
they should die, as they had lived, together. .

As the stranger listened, a smile beamed over
his countenance, and made its expression as sweet
as it was grand.

“You area good old man,” said he to Phile-
mon, “and you have a good old wife to be your
helpmeet. It is fit that your wish be granted.”

And it seemed to Philemon,:just then, as if the
sunset clouds threw up a bright flash from the
west, and kindled a sudden light in the sky.
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER I55

Baucis had now got supper ready, and, coming
to the door, began to make apologies for the
poor fare which she was forced to set before her
guests.

“Had we known you were coming,” said she,
“my good man and myself would have gone with-
out a morsel, rather than you should lack a better
supper. But I took the most part of to-day’s milk
to make cheese; and our last loaf is already half
eaten. Ah me! I never feel the sorrow of being
poor, save when a poor traveler knocks at our
door.” .

“All will be very well; do not trouble your-
self, my good dame,” replied the elder stranger,
kindly. “An honest, hearty welcome to a guest
works miracles with the fare, and is capable of
turning the coarsest food to nectar and ambro-
sia.” :

“A welcome you. shall have,” cried Baucis,
“and likewise a little honey that we happen to
have left, and a bunch of purple grapes besides.”

“Why, Mother Baucis, it is a feast!” ex-
claimed Quicksilver, laughing, “an absolute feast !
and you shall see how bravely I will play my part
at. it! I think I never felt hungrier in my life.”

“Mercy on us!” whispered Baucis to her hus-
band. “If the young man has such a terrible
appetite, I am afraid there will not be half enough
supper!”

They all went into the cottage.

And now, my little auditors,’shall I tell you
something that will make you open your eyes
very wide? It is really one of the oddest circum-
156 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

stances in the whole story. Quicksilver’s staff,
you recollect, had set itself up against the wall of
the cottage. Well; when its master entered the
door, leaving this wonderful staff behind, what
should it do but.immediately spread its little
wings, and go hopping and fluttering up the door-
steps! Tap, tap, went the staff, on the kitchen
floor; nor did it rest until it had stood itself on
end, with the greatest gravity and decorum, be-
side Quicksilver’s chair. Old Philemon, however,
as well as his wife, was so taken up in attending
to their guests, that no notice was given to what
the staff had been about.

As Baucis ‘had said, there was but a scanty
supper for two hungry travelers. In the middle
of the table was the remnant of a brown loaf, with
a piece of cheese on one’side of it, and a dish of
honeycomb on the other. There was a pretty
good bunch of grapes for each of the guests. A
moderately sized earthen pitcher, nearly full of
milk, stood at a corner of the board; and when
Baucis had filled two bowls, and set them before
the strangers, only a little milk remained in the
bottom of the pitcher. Alas! it is a very sad busi-.
ness, when a bountiful heart finds itself pinched
and squeezed among narrow circumstances.
Poor Baucis kept wishing that she might starve
for a week’ to come, if it were possible, by so do-
ing, to provide these hungry folks a more plenti-
ful supper.

And, since the supper was so exceedingly
small, she could not help wishing that their appe-
tites had not been quite so large. Why, at their
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 157

very first sitting down, the travelers both drank
off all the milk in their two bowls, at a draught.

“ A little more milk, kind Mother Baucis, if you
please,” said Quicksilver. “The day has been
hot, and I am very much athirst.”

“Now, my dear people,” answered Baucis, in
great confusion, “I am so sorry and ashamed!

But the truth is, there is hardly a drop more milk +"

in the pitcher. O husband! husband! why did n’t
we go without our supper ? ”

“Why, it appears to me,” cried Quicksilver,
starting up from table and taking the pitcher
by the handle, “it really appears to me that mat-
ters are not quite so bad as you represent them.
Here is certainly more milk in the pitcher.”

So saying, and to the vast astonishment of
Baucis, he proceeded to ‘fill, not only his own
bowl, but his companion’s likewise, from the
pitcher, that was supposed to be almost empty.
The good woman could scarcely believe her eyes.
She had certainly poured out nearly all the milk,
and had peeped in afterwards, and seen the bot-
tom of the pitcher, as she set it down upon the
table. .

“But I am old,” thought Baucis to herself,
“and apt to be forgetful. I suppose I must have
made a mistake, At all events, the pitcher can-
not help being empty now, after filling the bowls
twice over.”

“What excellent milk!” observed Quicksilver,
after quaffing the contents of the second bowl.
“Excuse me, my kind hostess, but I must really
ask you for a little more.” .
158 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

Now Baucis had seen, as plainly as she could
see anything, that Quicksilver had turned the
pitcher upside down, and consequently had poured
out every drop of milk, in filling the last bowl.
Of course, there could not possibly be any left.
However, in order to let him know precisely how
the case was, she lifted the pitcher, and made a
gesture as if pouring milk into Quicksilver’s bowl,
but without the remotest idea that any milk would
stream forth. What was her surprise, therefore,
when such an abundant cascade fell bubbling into
the bowl, that. it was immediately filled to the
brim, and overflowed upon the table! The two
snakes that were twisted about Quicksilver’s staff
(but neither Baucis nor Philemon happened to
observe this circumstance) stretched out their
heads, and began to lap up the spilt milk.

And then what.a delicious fragrance the milk
had! It seemed as if Philemon’s only cow must
have pastured, that day, on the richest herbage
that could be found anywhere in the world. I
only wish that each of you, my beloved little
souls, could have a bowl of such nice milk, at
supper-time ! ;

“And now a slice of your brown loaf, Mother
Baucis,” said Quicksilver, “and a little of that
honey!”

Baucis cut hima slice, accordingly; and though
the loaf, when she and her husband ate of it, had
been rather too dry and crusty to be palatable, it
was now as light and moist as if but a few hours
out of the oven. Tasting a’ crumb, which had
fallen on the table, she found it more delicious

THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 159

than bread ever was before, and could hardly be-
lieve that it was a loaf of her own kneading and
baking. Yet, what other loaf could it possibly be?

But, oh the honey! I may just as well let it
alone, without trying to describe how exquisitely
it smelt and looked. Its color was that of the
purest and most transparent gold ; and it had the
odor of a thousand flowers; but of such flowers
as never grew in an earthly garden, and to seek
which the bees must have flown high above the
clouds. The wonder is, that, after alighting on a
flower-bed of so delicious fragrance and immortal -
bloom, they should have been content to fy down
again to their hive in Philemon’s garden. ' Never
was such honey tasted, seen, or smelt. The per-
fume floated around the kitchen, and made it so
delightful, that, had you closed your eyes, you
would instantly have forgotten the low ceiling and
smoky walls, and have fancied yourself in an ar-
bor, with celestial honeysuckles creeping over it.

Although good Mother Baucis was a simple old
dame, she could not but think that there was
something rather out of the common way, in all
that had been going on. So, after helping the
guests to bread and honey, and laying a bunch of
grapes by each of their plates, she sat down by
Philemon, and told him what she had seen, in a
whisper.

“ Did you ever hear the like? ” asked she.

“ No, I never did,” answered Philemon, with a
smile. “And I rather think, my dear old wife,
you have been walking about in a sort of a dream.
If I had poured out the milk, I should have seen
160 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

through the business at once. There happened
to be a little more in the pitcher than you
thought, — that is all.”

« Ah, husband,” said Baucis, “say what you
will, these are very uncommon people.”

“Well, well,” replied Philemon, still smiling,
“perhaps they are. They certainly do look as if
they had seen better days; and I am heartily glad
to see them making so comfortable: a supper.”

Each of the guests had now taken his bunch of
grapes upon his plate. Baucis (who rubbed her
eyes, in order to see the more clearly) was of
opinion that the clusters had grown larger and
richer, and that each separate grape seemed to be
on the point of bursting with ripe juice. It was
entirely a mystery to her how such grapes could
ever have been produced from the old stunted
vine that climbed against the cottage wall.

“Very admirable grapes these!” observed
Quicksilver, as he swallowed one after another,
without apparently diminishing his cluster. “ Pray,
my good host, whence did you gather them?”

“From my own vine,” answered Philemon.
“ You may see one of its branches twisting across .
the window, yonder. But wife and I never thought
the grapes very fine ones.”

“T never tasted better,” said the guest. “ An-
other cup of this delicious milk, if you please, and
I shall then have supped better than a prince.” |

This time, old Philemon bestirred himself, and
took up the pitcher; for he was curious to dis-

-coyer whether there was any reality in the mar-
vels which Baucis had whispered to him. He
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 161

knew that his good old wife was incapable of
falsehood, and that she was seldom mistaken in
what she supposed to be true; but this was so
very singular a case, that he wanted to see into
it with his own eyes. On taking up the pitcher,
therefore, he slyly peeped into it, and was. fully
satisfied that it contained not so much as a sin-
gle drop. All at once, however, he beheld a little
white fountain, which gushed up from the bottom
of the pitcher, and speedily filled it to the brim
with foaming.and deliciously fragrant milk. It
was lucky that Philemon, in his surprise, did not
drop the miraculous pitcher from his hand.

“ Who are ye, wonder-working strangers?” cried
he, even more bewildered than his wife had been.

“Your guests, my good Philemon, and your
friends,” replied the elder traveler, in his mild,
deep voice, that had something at once sweet and
awe-inspiring in it. “Give me likewise a cup of
the milk; and may your pitcher never be empty
for kind Baucis and yourself, any more than for
the needy wayfarer!” /

The supper being now over, the strangers re-
quested to be shown to their place of repose.
The old people would gladly have talked ‘with
them a little longer, and have expressed the’ won-
der which they felt, and their delight at finding
the poor and meagre supper prove so much better
and more abundant than they hoped. But the
elder traveler had: inspired them with such rey-
erence, that they dared not ask him any questions.
And when Philemon drew Quicksilver aside, and
inquired how under the sun a fountain of milk
162 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

could have got into an old earthen pitcher, this
latter personage pointed to his staff.

“There is the whole mystery of the affair,”

uoth Quicksilver; “and if you can make it out,
I'll thank you to let me know. I can’t tell what
to make of my staff. It is always playing such
odd tricks as this; sometimes getting me a supper,
and, quite as often, stealing it away. If I had any
faith in such nonsense, I should say the stick was
bewitched!”

He said no more, but looked so slyly in their
faces, that they rather fancied he was laughing at
them. . The magic staff went hopping at his heels,
as Quicksilver quitted the room. When left alone,
the good old couple spent some little time in con-
versation about the events of the evening, and
then lay down on the floor, and fell fast asleep.
They had given up their sleeping-room to the
guests, and had no other bed for themselves, save
these planks, which I wish had been as soft as
their own hearts. —

The old man and his wife were stirring, betimes,
in the morning, and the strangers likewise arose
with the sun, and made their preparations to.
depart. Philemon hospitably entreated them to
remain a little longer, until Baucis could milk the
cow, and bake a cake upon the hearth, and, per-
haps, find them a few fresh eggs, for breakfast.
-The-guests, however, seemed to think it better to
accomplish a good part of their journey before
the heat of the day should come on. They, there-
fore, persisted in setting out immediately, but
asked Philemon and Baucis to walk forth with
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 163

them a short distance, and show them the road
which they were to take.

So they all four issued from the cottage, chat-
ting together like old friends. It was very re-
markable, indeed, how familiar the old couple
insensibly grew with the elder traveler, and how
their good and simple spirits melted into his, even
as two drops of water would melt into the illim-
itable ocean. And as for Quicksilver, with his
keen, quick, laughing wits, he appeared to dis-
cover every little thought that but peeped into
their minds, before they suspected it themselves.
They sometimes wished, it is true, that he had
not been quite so quick-witted, and also that he
would fling away his staff, which looked so mys-
teriously mischievous, with the snakes always
writhing about it. But then, again, Quicksilver
showed himself so very good-humored, that they
would have been rejoiced to keep him in their
cottage, staff, snakes, and all, every day, and the
whole day long.

“Ah me! Well-aday!” exclaimed Philemon,
when they had walked a little way from their
door. “If our neighbors only knew what a
blessed thing it is to show hospitality to stran-
gers, they would tie up all their dogs, and never
allow their children to fling another stone.”

“It isa sin and shame for them to behave SO,
— that it is!” cried good old Baucis, vehemently. _
“And I mean to go this very day, and tell some
of them what naughty people they are!”

“T fear,” remarked Quicksilver, slyly smiling,
“that you will find none of them at home.”
164 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

The elder traveler’s brow, just then, assumed
such a grave, stern, and awful grandeur, yet se-
rene withal, that neither Baucis nor Philemon
dared to speak a word. They gazed reverently
into his face, as if they had been gazing at the
sky.

“ When men do not feel towards the humblest
stranger as if he were a brother,” said the trav-
eler, in tones so deep that they sounded like those
of an organ, “they are unworthy to exist on earth,
which was created as the abode of a great human
brotherhood !”

“And, by the by, my dear old people,” cried
Quicksilver, with the liveliest look of fun and
mischief in his eyes, “where is this same village
that you talk about? On which side of us does
it lie? Methinks I do not see it hereabouts.”

Philemon and his wife turned towards the val-
ley, where, at sunset, only the day before, they had
seen the meadows, the houses, the gardens, the
clumps of trees, the wide, green-margined street,
with children playing in it, and all the tokens of
business, enjoyment, and prosperity. But what
was their astonishment! There was no longer
any appearance of a village! Even the fertile
vale, in the hollow of which it lay, had ceased to
have existence. In its stead, they beheld the
broad, blue surface of a lake, which filled the
great basin of the valley from brim to brim, and
- reflected the surrounding hills in its bosom with
as tranquil an image as if it had been there ever
since the creation of the world. For an instant,
the lake remained perfectly smooth. Then, a
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 165

little breeze sprang up, and caused the water to
dance, glitter, and sparkle in the early sunbeams,
and to dash, with a pleasant rippling murmur,
against the hither shore.

The lake seemed so strangely familiar, that the
old couple were greatly perplexed, and felt as if
they could only have been dreaming about a vil-
lage having lain there. But,the next moment,
they remembered the vanished dwellings, and the
faces and characters of the inhabitants, far too
distinctly for a dream. The village had been
there yesterday, and now was gone!

“Alas!” cried these kind-hearted old people,
“what has become of our poor neighbors? ”

“They exist no longer as men and women,”
said the elder traveler, in his grand and deep
voice, while a roll of thunder seemed to echo it at
a distance. “There was neither use nor beauty
in such a life as theirs; for they never softened or
sweetened the hard lot of mortality by the exer-
cise of kindly affections between man and man.
They retained no image of the better life in their
bosoms; therefore, the lake, that was of old, has
spread itself forth again, to reflect the sky!”

“And as for those foolish people,” said Quick-
silver, with his mischievous smile, “they are all
transformed to fishes. There needed but little
change, for they were already a scaly set of ras-
cals, and the coldest-blooded beings in existence.
So, kind Mother Baucis, whenever you or your
husband have an appetite for a dish of broiled
trout, he can throw in a line, and pull out half a
dozen of your old neighbors !”
166 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

« Ah,” cried Baucis, shuddering, “T would not,
for the world, put one of them on the gridiron !”

“No,” added Philemon, making a wry face,
“we could never relish them!”

« As for you, good Philemon,” continued the
elder traveler, — “and you, kind Baucis, — you,
with your scanty means, have mingled so much
heartfelt hospitality with your entertainment of
the homeless stranger, that the milk became an
inexhaustible fount of nectar, and the brown loaf
and the honey were ambrosia. Thus, the divin-
ities have feasted, at your board, off the same
viands that supply their banquets on Olympus.
You have done well, my dear old friends. Where- —
fore, request whatever favor you have most at
heart, and it is granted.”

Philemon and Baucis looked at one another,
and then, —I know not which of the two it was
who spoke, but that one uttered the desire of both
their hearts.

“ Let us live together, while we live, and leave
the world at the same instant, when we die! For
we have always loved one another!”

“ Be it so!” replied the stranger, with majestic
kindness. “Now, look towards your cottage!”

They did so. But what was their surprise on
beholding a tall edifice of white marble, with a
wide-open portal, occupying the spot where their
humble residence had so lately stood!

“ There is your home,” said the stranger, benefi-
cently smiling on them both. “Exercise your
hospitality in yonder palace as freely as in the
poor hovel to which you welcomed us last even-
ing.”
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 167

The old folks fell on their knees to thank
him; but, behold! neither he nor Quicksilver was
there.

So Philemon and Baucis took up their resi-
dence in the marble palace, and spent their time,
with vast satisfaction to themselves, in making
everybody jolly and comfortable who happened to
pass that way. The milk-pitcher, I must not for-
get to say, retained its marvelous quality of being
never empty, when it was desirable to have it full.
Whenever an _ honest, good-humored, and free-
hearted guest took a draught from this pitcher, he
invariably found it the sweetest and most invigo-
rating fluid that ever ran down his throat. But,
if a cross and disagreeable curmudgeon happened
to sip, he was pretty certain to twist his visage
into a hard knot, and pronounce it a pitcher of
sour milk!

Thus the old couple lived in their palace a
great, great while, and grew older and older, and
very old indeed. At length, however, there came
a summer morning when Philemon and Baucis
failed to make their appearance, as on other morn-
ings, with one hospitable smile overspreading
both their pleasant faces, to invite the guests of
over-night to breakfast. The guests searched
everywhere, from top to bottom of the spacious
palace, and all to no purpose. But, after a great
deal of perplexity, they espied, in front of the portal,
two venerable trees, which nobody could remem-
ber to have seen there the day before. Yet there
they stood, with their roots fastened deep into the
soil, and a huge breadth of foliage overshadowing
168 THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER

the whole front of the edifice. One was an oak,
and the other a linden-tree. Their boughs — it
was strange and beautiful to see — were inter-
twined together, and embraced one another, so
that each tree seemed to live in the other tree’s
bosom much more than in its own.

While the guests were marveling how these
trees, that must have required at least a century
to grow, could have come to be so tall and vener-
able in a single night, a breeze sprang up, and set
their intermingled boughs astir. And then there
was a deep, broad murmur in the air, as if the two
mysterious trees were speaking.

“Tam old Philemon!” murmured the oak.

“Tam old Baucis!” murmured the linden-tree.

But, as the breeze grew stronger, the trees both
spoke at once,— “Philemon! Baucis! Baucis !
Philemon!” — as if one were both and both were
one, and talking together in the depths of their
mutual heart. It was plain enough to perceive
that the good old couple had renewed their age,
and were now to spend a quiet and delightful
hundred years or So, Philemon as an oak, and
Baucis as a linden-tree. And oh, what a hospi-
table shade did they fling around them. When-
ever a wayfarer paused beneath it, he heard a
pleasant whisper of the leaves above his head, and
wondered how the sound should so much resemble
words like these : —

“ Welcome, welcome, dear traveler, welcome!”

And some kind soul, that knew what would
have pleased old Baucis and old Philemon best,
built a circular seat around both their trunks, |
THE MIRACULOUS PITCHER 169

where, for a great while afterwards, the weary, and
the hungry, and the thirsty used to repose them-
selves, and quaff milk abundantly out of the
miraculous pitcher. -

And I wish, for all our sakes, that we had the
pitcher here now!

x

es

ys
Spas
SRerrhe
as

\\ BY y





OW much did the pitcher
hold?” asked Sweet Fern.
“It did not hold quite a
quart,” answered the student;
“but you might keep pour-
5 ing milk out of it, till you

Bs 2X) should fill a hogshead, if you
pleased. The truth is, it would run on forever,
and not be dry even at midsummer, — which is
more than can be said of yonder rill, that goes
-babbling down the hill-side.”

“And what has become of the pitcher now?”
inquired the little boy.

“Tt was broken, I am sorry to say, about twenty-
five thousand years ago,” replied Cousin Eustace.
“ The people mended it as well as they could, but,
though it would hold milk pretty well, it was never
afterwards known to fill itself of its own accord.
So, you see, it was no better than any other
cracked earthen pitcher.”

“ What a pity!” cried all the children at once.

The respectable dog Ben had accompanied the

party, as did likewise a half-grown Newfoundland
170
THE HILL-SIDE 171

puppy, who went by the name of Bruin, because
he was just as black as a bear. Ben, being elderly,
and of very circumspect habits, was respectfully
requested, by Cousin Eustace, to stay behind with
the four little children, in order to keep them out
of mischief. As for black Bruin, who was him-
self nothing but a child, the student thought it
best to take him along, lest, in his rude play with
the other children, he should trip them up, and
send them rolling and tumbling down the hill.
Advising Cowslip, Sweet Fern, Dandelion, and
Squash-Blossom to sit pretty still, in the spot
where he left them, the student, with Primrose
and the elder children, began to ascend, and were
soon out of sight among the trees.






Bye ore att =~
MEY U OOS 7i4 4) 8 ear ica oe Ee








INTRODUCTORY TO
THE CHIMAERA

PWARD), along the steep and
wooded hill-side, went Eustace
Bright and his companions.
The trees were not yet in full
leaf, but had budded forth suf-

ficiently to throw an airy shadow, while the sun-

shine filled them with green light. There were
moss-grown rocks, half hidden among the old,
brown, fallen leaves; there were rotten tree-trunks,
lying at full length where they had long ago
fallen; there were decayed boughs, that had been
shaken down by the wintry gales, and were scat-
tered everywhere about. But still, though these
things looked so aged, the aspect of the wood was
that of the newest life; for, whichever way you
turned your eyes, something fresh and green was
springing forth, so as to be ready for the summer.

At last, the young people reached the upper
verge of the wood, and found themselves almost
at the summit of the hill. It was not a peak, nor

a great round ball, but a pretty wide plain, or

17

2
s
BALD-SUMMIT — 173
table-land, with a house and barn upon it, at some
distance. That house was the home of a solitary
, family ; and oftentimes the clouds, whence fell the
rain, and whence the snow-storm drifted down
into the valley, hung lower than this bleak and
lonely dwelling-place.

On the highest point of the hill was a heap of
stones, in the centre of which was stuck a long
pole, with a little flag fluttering at the end of it.
Eustace led the children thither, and bade them
look around, and see how large a tract of our
beautiful world they could take in at a glance.
‘And their eyes grew wider as they looked.

- Monument Mountain, to the southward, was
still in the centre of the scene, but seemed to have
sunk and subsided, so that it was now but an un-
distinguished member of a large family of hills.

Beyond it, the Taconic range. looked higher and
bulkier than before. Our pretty lake was seen,
with all-its little bays and inlets; and not that.
alone, but two or three new lakes were opening
their blue eyes to the sun. Several white villages,
each with its steeple, were scattered about in the.
distance. There were so many farm-houses, with
their acres of woodland, pasture, mowing-fields,
and tillage, that the children could hardly make
room in their minds to receive all these different
objects. There, too, was Tanglewood, which they
had hitherto thought such an important apex of
the world. It now occupied so small a space, that
they gazed far beyond it, and on either side, and
searched ‘a good while with all their eyes, before

discovering whereabout it stood.
174 BALD-SUMMIT.

White, fleecy clouds were hanging in the air,
and threw the dark spots of their shadow here and
there over the landscape. But, by and by, the
sunshine was where the shadow had been, and the
shadow was somewhere else.

Far to the westward was a range of blue moun-
tains, which Eustace Bright told the children
were the Catskills. Among those misty hills, he |
said, was a spot where some old Dutchmen were
playing an everlasting game of ninepins, and
where an idle fellow, whose name was Rip Van
Winkle, had fallen asleep, and slept twenty years
at astretch. The children eagerly besought Eus-
tace to tell them all about this wonderful affair.
But the student replied that the story had been
told once already, and better than it ever could be
told again; and that nobody would have a right
to alter a word of it, until it should have grown as
old as “ The Gorgon’s Head,” and “ The Three
Golden Apples,” and the rest of those miraculous
legends.

“ At least,” said Periwinkle, “ while we rest our-
selves here, and are looking about us, you can tell
us another of your own stories.”

“Yes, Cousin Eustace,” cried Primrose, “I ad-
vise you to tell us a story here. Take some lofty
subject or other, and see if your imagination will
not come up to it. Perhaps the mountain air
may make you poetical, for once. And no matter
how strange and wonderful the story may be, now
that we are up among the clouds, we can believe
anything.” .

“Can you believe,” asked Eustace, “ that there
was once a winged horse?”
BALD-SUMMIT 175

“Yes,” said saucy Primrose; “but I am afraid
you will never be able to catch him.”

“ For that matter, Primrose,” rejoined the stu-
dent, “I might possibly catch Pegasus, and get
upon his back, too, as well as a dozen other fel-
lows that I know of. At any rate, here is a story
about him ; and, of all places in the world, it ought
certainly to be told upon a mountain-top.”

So, sitting on the pile of stones, while the chil-
dren clustered themselves at its base, Eustace
fixed his eyes on a white cloud that was sailing
by, and began as follows.





NCE, in the old, old times
(for all the strange things
which I tell you about hap-
pened long before anybody
can remember), a fountain
gushed out of a hill-side,

3 in the marvelous land of
Greece. And, for aught I know, after so many
thousand years, it is still gushing out of the very
selfsame spot. At any rate, there was the pleas-
ant fountain, welling freshly forth and sparkling

adown the hill-side, in the golden sunset, when a

handsome young man named Bellerophon drew

near its margin. In his hand he held a bridle,

studded with brilliant gems, and adorned with a

golden bit. Seeing an old man, and another of

middle age, and a little boy, near the fountain,
and likewise a maiden, who was dipping up some
of the water in a pitcher, he paused, and begged
that he might refresh himself with a draught.

“This is very delicious water,” he said to the
maiden as he rinsed and filled her pitcher, after
drinking out of it. “Will you be kind enough to
tell me whether the fountain has any name?”

176
THE CHIMARA 77

“Yes; it is called the Fountain of Pirene,” an-
swered the maiden; and then she added, « My
grandmother has told me that this clear fountain

was once a beautiful woman; and when her son .
was killed by the arrows of the huntress Diana,’

she melted all away into tears. And so the water,
which you find so cool and sweet, is the sorrow
of that poor mother’s heart! ”

“T should not have dreamed,” observed the
young stranger, “that so clear a well-spring, with
its gush and gurgle, and its cheery dance out of
the shade into the sunlight, had so much as one

tear-drop in its bosom! And this, then, is Pirene? ©

I thank you, pretty maiden, for telling me its
name. I have come from a far-away country to
find this very spot.”

A middle-aged country fellow (he had driven
his cow to drink out of the spring) stared hard at
young Bellerophon, and at the handsome bridle
which he carried in his hand.

“ The water-courses must be getting low, friend,
in your part of the world,” remarked he, “ if you
come so far only to find the Fountain of Pirene.
But, pray, have you lost a horse? I see you carry
the bridle in your hand; and a very pretty one it
is with that double row of bright stones upon it.
If the horse was as fine as the bridle, you are
much to be pitied for losing him.”

“TI have lost no horse,” said Bellerophon, with
a smile. “But I happen to be seeking a very
famous one, which, as wise people have informed
me, must be found hereabouts, if anywhere. Do
you know whether the winged horse Pegasus still

a
178 THE CHIMARA

haunts the Fountain of Pirene, as he used to do
in your forefathers’ days?” :

But then the country fellow laughed. _

Some of you, my little friends, have probably
heard that this Pegasus was a snow-white steed,
with beautiful silvery wings, who spent most of
his time on the summit of Mount Helicon. He
was as wild, and as swift, and as buoyant, in his
flight through the air, as any eagle that ever
soared into the clouds. There was nothing else
like him in the world. He had no mate; he
never had been backed or bridled by a master;
and, for many a long year, he led a solitary and a
happy life.

Oh, how fine a thing it is to be a winged horse!
Sleeping at night, as he did, on a lofty mountain-
top, and passing the greater part of the day in the
air, Pegasus seemed hardly to be a creature of the
earth. Whenever he was seen, up very high
above people’s heads, with the sunshine on his
silvery wings, you would have thought that he
belonged to the sky, and that, skimming a little
too low, he had got astray among our mists and
vapors, and was seeking his way back again. It
was very pretty to behold him plunge into the
fleecy bosom of a bright cloud, and be lost in it,
for a moment or two, and then break forth from
the other side. Or, in a sullen rain-storm, when
there was a gray pavement of clouds over the
whole sky, it would sometimes happen that the
winged horse descended right through it, and the
glad light of the upper region would gleam after
him. In another instant, it is true, both Pegasus
eo

THE CHIMARA, 179

and the pleasant light would be gone away to.
gether. But any one that was fortunate enough
to see this wondrous spectacle felt cheerful the
whole day afterwards, and as much longer as the
storm lasted. ay '

In the summer-time, and in the beautifullest of
weather, Pegasus often alighted on the solid
earth, and, closing his silvery wings, would gallop
over hill and dale for pastime, as fleetly as the
wind. Oftener than in any other place, he had
been seen near the Fountain of Pirene, drinking
the delicious water, or rolling himself upon the
soft grass of the margin. Sometimes, too (but
Pegasus was very dainty in his food), he would
crop a few of the clover-blossoms that happened
to be sweetest.

To the Fountain of Pirene, therefore, people’s
great-grandfathers had been in the habit of going
(as long as they were youthful, and retained their
faith in winged horses), in hopes of getting a
glimpse at the beautiful Pegasus. But, of late
years, he had been very seldom seen. Indeed,
there were many of the country folks, dwelling
within half an hour’s walk of the fountain, who
had never beheld Pegasus, and did not believe
that there was any such creature in existence.
The country fellow to whom Bellerophon was
speaking chanced to be one of those incredulous
persons.

And that was the reason why he laughed.

“ Pegasus, indeed!” cried he, turning up his
nose as high as such a flat nose could be turned
up, — “ Pegasus, indeed! A winged horse, truly !
=

180 « THE CHIMARA

Why, friend, are you in your senses? Of, what
use would wings be to a horse? : Could, he drag
the plow so well, think you? To be sute, there
might be a little saving in the expense of shoes ;
but then, how would a man like to see his horse

flying out of the stable window ? — yes, or whisk-

ing up him above the clouds, when he only wanted
to ride to mill? No,no! I don’t believe in Peg- .,.
asus. There never was such a ridiculous kind of
a horse-fowl made!” ,

“T have some reason to think otherwise,” said
Bellerophon, quietly. ..

And then: he turned: to an old; gray: man, who
was leaning on a staff, and listening very atten-
tively, with his head stretched forward, and one
hand at his ear, because; for the last twenty years,
he had been getting rather deaf.

“And what say you, venerable sir?” inquired
he. “In your younger days, I should imagine,
you must frequently have seen the winged steed !”

“Ah, young’ stranger, my memory is very -
poord,” said the aged man. “When I was a lad,
if T remember rightly, I used to believe there was -
such a horse, and so did everybody else. But, -
nowadays, I hardly know what to think, and very
seldom think about the winged horse at all. If I
ever saw the creature, it was a long, long. while
ago; and, to tell you the truth, I doubt whether I
ever did see him. One day, to be sure, when I
was quite a youth, I remember seeing some hoof-
tramps round about the brink of the fountain.
Pegasus might have made those hoof-marks ; and
SO might some other horse.” .

THE CHIMERA 181

“And have you never seen him, my fair
maiden?” asked Bellerophon of the girl, who
stood with the pitcher on her head, while this |
talk went on. “ You certainly could see Pegasus,
if anybody can, for your eyes are very bright.”

“Once I thought I saw him,” replied the
maiden, with a smile and a blush. “ It was either
Pegasus, or a large white bird, a very great way
up in the air. And one other time, as I was
coming to the fountain with my pitcher, I heard
a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh
as that was! My very heart leaped with delight
at the sound. But it startled me, nevertheless;
so that I ran home without filling my pitcher.”

“That was truly a pity!” said Bellerophon.

And he turned to the child, whom I men-
tioned at the beginning of the story, and who was
gazing at him, as children are apt to gaze at
strangers, with his rosy mouth wide open.

“Well, my little fellow,” cried Bellerophon,
playfully pulling one of his curls, “I suppose you
have often seen the winged horse.”

“That I have,” answered the child, very readily.
“T saw him yesterday, and many times before.” -

“You are a fine little man!” ‘said Bellerophon,
drawing the child closer to him. “Come, tell me
all about it.”

“ Why,” replied the child, “I often come here
to sail little boats in the fountain, and to gather
pretty pebbles out of its basin. And sometimes,
when I look down into the water, I see the image
of the winged horse, in the picture of the sky that
is there. I wish he would come down, and take
182 THE CHIMAIRA

me on his back, and let me ride him up to the
moon! But, if I so much as stir to look at him,
he flies far away out of sight.”

And Bellerophon put his faith in the child, who
had seen the image of Pegasus in the water, and
in the maiden, who had heard him neigh so me-
lodiously, rather than in the middle-aged clown,
who believed only in cart-horses, or in the old
man who had forgotten the beautiful things of
his youth.

Therefore, he haunted about the Fountain of
Pirene for a great many days afterwards. He
kept continually on the watch, looking upward at
the sky, or else down into the water, hoping forever
that he should see either the reflected image of the
winged horse, or the marvelous reality. He held
the bridle, with its bright gems and golden bit,
always ready in hishand. The rustic people, who
dwelt in the neighborhood, and drove their cattle
to the fountain to drink, would often laugh at
poor Bellerophon, and sometimes take him pretty
severely to task. They told him that an able-
bodied young man, like himself, ought to have
better business than to be wasting his time in
such an idle pursuit. They offered to sell him a
horse, if he wanted one; and when Bellerophon
declined the purchase, they tried to drive .a bar-
gain with him for his fine bridle.

Even the country boys thought him so very
foolish, that they used to have a great deal of
sport about him, and were rude enough not to
care’a fig, although Bellerophon saw and heard
it. One little urchin, for example, would play ©
’ THE CHIMERA. 183

Pegasus, and cut the oddest imaginable capers,
by way of flying; while one of his schoolfellows
would scamper after him, holding forth a twist of
bulrushes, which was intended to represent Bel-
lerophon’s ornamental bridle. But the gentle -
’ child, who had seen the picture of Pegasus in the
water, comforted the young stranger more than
all the naughty boys could torment him. The
dear little fellow, in his play-hours, often sat down
beside him, and, without speaking a word, would
look down into the fountain and up towards the
sky, with so innocent a faith, that Bellerophon
could not help feeling encouraged.

Now you will, perhaps, wish to be told why it
was that Bellerophon had undertaken to catch
the winged horse. And we shall find no better
opportunity to speak about this matter than while
he is waiting for Pegasus to appear.

If I were to relate the whole of Bellerophon’s
previous adventures, they might easily grow into
a very long story. It will be quite enough to say,
that, in a certain country of Asia, a terrible mon-
ster, called a Chimera, had made its appearance,
and was doing more mischief than could be talked
about between now and sunset. According to
the best accounts which I have been able to ob-
- tain, this Chimzera was nearly, if not quite, the
ugliest and most poisonous creature, and the
strangest and unaccountablest, and the hardest
to fight with, and the most difficult to ran away
from, that ever came out of the earth’s inside. It
had a tail like a boa-constrictor ; its body was like
I do not care what; and it had three separate
184 THE CHIMERA .

heads, one of which was a lion’s, the second a
goat’s, and the third an abominably great snake’s.
And a hot blast of fire came flaming out of each
of its three mouths! Being an earthly monster,
I doubt whether it had any wings; but, wings or
no, it ran like a: goat and a lion, and wriggled
along like a serpent, and thus contrived to make
about as much speed as all the three together.

Oh, the: mischief, and mischief, and mischief
that this naughty creature did! With its flaming
breath, it could set a forest on fire, or burn up a
field of grain, or, for that matter, a village, with
all its fences and houses. It laid waste the whole
country round about, and used to eat up people
and animals alive, and cook ‘them afterwards in
the burning oven of its stomach. Mercy on us,
little children, I hope neither you nor-I will ever
happen to meet a Chimera!

While the hateful beast (if a beast we can any-
wise call it) was doing all these horrible things,
it so chanced that Bellerophon came to that part
of the world, on a visit to the king. The king’s
name was Iobates, and Lycia was the country
which he ruled over. Bellerophon was one of the ~
bravest youths in the world, and desired nothing
so much as to do some valiant and beneficent
deed, such as would make all mankind admire
and love him. In those days, the only way for a
young man to distinguish himself was by fighting
battles, either with the enemies of his country, or
with wicked giants, or with troublesome dragons,
or with wild beasts, when he could find nothing
more dangerous to encounter. King Iobates, per-
THE CHIMARA 185

ceiving the courage of his youthful visitor, pro-
posed to him to go and fight the Chimera, which
everybody else was afraid of, and which, unless it
should be soon killed, was likely to convert Lycia
into a desert. Bellerophon hesitated not a mo-
ment, but assured the king that he would either slay
. this dreaded Chimera, or perish in the attempt.

But, in the first place, as the monster was so
prodigiously swift, he bethought himself that he
should never win the victory by fighting on foot.
The wisest thing he could do, therefore, was to
get the very best and fleetest horse that could
anywhere be found. And what other horse, in
all the world, was half so fleet as the marvelous
horse Pegasus, who had wings as well as legs,
and was even more active in the air than on the
earth? To be sure, a great many people denied
that there was any such horse with wings, and
said that the stories about him were all poetry
and nonsense. But, wonderful as it appeared,
Bellerophon believed that Pegasus was a real
steed, and hoped that he himself might be for-
tunate enough to find him; and, once fairly
mounted on his back, he would be able to fight
_ the Chimeera at better advantage.

And this was the purpose with which he had
traveled from Lycia to Greece, and had brought
the beautifully ornamented bridle in his hand. It
was an enchanted bridle. If he could only suc-
ceed in putting the golden bit into the mouth of
Pegasus, the winged horse would be submissive,
and would own Bellerophon for his master, and fly
whithersoever he might choose to turn therein.
186 THE CHIMARA

But, indeed, it was a weary and anxious time,
while Bellerophon waited and waited for Pegasus,
in hopes that he would come and drink at the
Fountain of Pirene. He was afraid lest. King
Iobates should imagine that he had fled from the
Chimeera. It pained him, too, to think how much
mischief the monster was doing, while he himself,
instead of fighting with it, was compelled to sit
idly poring over the bright waters of Pirene, as
they gushed out of the sparkling sand: And as
Pegasus came thither’ so seldom in these latter
years, and scarcely alighted'there more than-once
in a lifetime, Bellerophon feared that he might
grow an old man, and have no strength left in his
arms nor courage in his heart, before the winged |
horse would appear. Oh, how heavily passes the
time, while an adventurous youth is yearning to
do his part in life, and to gather in the harvest
of his renown! How hard a lesson it is to wait!
Our life is brief, and how mueh of it is spent in
teaching us only this! * .

Well was it for Bellerophon’that the gentle child
had grown so fond of him, and'swas never ‘weary
of keeping him company. -Every morning the
child gave him a new hope to put in his bosom,
instead of yesterday’s withered one. , a

“ Dear Bellerophon,” he would cry, looking up
hopefully into his face, “I think -we shall see Peg-
asus to-day!”

And, at length, if it had not been for the little
boy’s unwavering faith, Bellerophon would have
given up all hope, and would have gone back to.
Lycia, and have done his best to slay the Chimera
THE CHIMAIRA 187

without the help of the winged horse. And in
that case poor Bellerophon would at least have
been terribly scorched by the creature’s breath,
and would most probably have been killed and
devoured. Nobody should ever try to fight an
earth-born Chimeera, unless he can first get upon
the back of an aerial steed.

One morning the child spoke to Bellerophon
even more hopefully than usual.

“ Dear, dear Bellerophon,” cried he, “I know
not why it is, but I feel’'as if we should certainly
see Pegasus to-day!” +. ms

And all that day he would not st# a step from
Bellerophon’s side; so they ate a crust of bread
together, and drank some of the water of the foun-
tain. In the afternoon, there they sat, and Bel-
lerophon had thrown his arm around the child,
who likewise had put one of his little hands into
Bellerophon’s. The latter was lost in his own
thoughts, and was fixing his eyes vacantly on the
trunks of the trees ‘that avershadowed the foun-
tain, and on the ‘grapevines that’ clambered u
among their branches. But the gentle child was
gazing down into the water; he was grieved, for
Bellerophon’s sake, that the hope of another day
should be deceived, like so many before it; and

__ two or three quiet tear-drops fell from his eyes,

and mingled with what were said to be the many
tears of Pirene, when she wept for her slain chil-
dren. .

But, when he least thought of it, Bellerophon
felt the pressure of the child’s little hand, and
heard a soft, almost breathless, whisper.
188 THE CHIMARA

“See there, dear Bellerophon! There is an
image in the water!”

The young man looked down into the dimpling
mirror of the fountain, and saw what he took to
be the reflection of a bird which seemed to be
flying at a great height in the air, with a gleam
of sunshine on its snowy or silvery wings.

“ What a splendid bird it must be!” said he.
“And how very large it looks, though it must
really be flying higher than the clouds!”

“It makes me tremble!” whispered the child.
“T am afraid to look up into the air! It is very
beautiful, and yet I dare only look at its image
in the water. Dear Bellerophon, do you not see
that it is no bird? It is the winged horse Pega-
sus!”

Bellerophon’s heart began to throb! He gazed
keenly upward, but could not see the winged crea-
ture, whether bird or horse; because, just then, it
had plunged into the fleecy depths of a summer
cloud. It was but a moment, however, before the
object reappeared, sinking lightly down out of the
cloud, although still at a vast distance from the
earth. Bellerophon caught the child in his arms,
and shrank back with him, so that they were both ~
hidden among the thick shrubbery which grew
all around the fountain. Not that he was afraid
of any harm, but he dreaded lest, if Pegasus
caught a glimpse of them, he would fly far.away,
and alight in some inaccessible mountain-top.
For it was really the winged horse. After they
had expected him so long, he was coming to
quench his thirst with the water of Pirene.
THE CHIMRA 189

Nearer and nearer came the aerial wonder, fly-
ing in great circles, as you may have seen a dove
when about to alight. Downward came Pegasus,
in those wide, sweeping circles, which grew nar-
rower, and narrower still, as he gradually ap-
proached the earth. The nigher the view of him,

the more beautiful he was, and the more mar-
velous the sweep of his silvery wings. At last,
with so light a pressure as hardly to bend the
grass about the fountain, or imprint a hoof-tramp
in the sand of its margin, he alighted, and, stoop-
_ing his wild head, began to drink. He drew in
the water, with long and pleasant sighs, and tran-
quil pauses of. enjoyment; and then another
draught, and another, and another. For, nowhere
in the world, or up among the clouds, did Pegasus
love any water as he loved this of Pirene. And
when his thirst was slaked, he cropped a few of
the honey-blossoms of the clover, delicately tasting
them, but not caring to make a hearty meal, be-
cause the herbage, just beneath the clouds, on the
‘lofty sides of Mount Helicon, suited his palate
better than this ordinary grass.

Atter thus drinking to his heart’s content, and,
in his dainty fashion, condescending to take a
little food, the winged horse began to caper to
and fro, and dance as it were, out of mere idle-
ness and sport. There never was a more playful
creature made than this very Pegasus. So there
he frisked, in a way that it delights me to think
about, fluttering his great wings as lightly as ever
did a linnet, and running little races, half ‘on earth
and half in air, and which I know not whether to
"190 THE CHIMERA

call a flight or a gallop. When a creature is per-
fectly able to fly, he sometimes chooses to run,
just for the pastime of the thing; and so did Peg-
asus, although it cost him some little trouble to
keep his hoofs so near the ground. Bellerophon,
meanwhile, holding the child’s hand, peeped forth
from the shrubbery, and thought that never was
any sight so beautiful as this, nor ever a horse’s
eyes so wild and spirited as those of Pegasus. It
seemed a sin to think of bridling him and riding
on his back.

Once or twice, Pegasus stopped, and snuffed
the air, pricking up his ears, tossing his head, and
turning it on all sides, as if he partly suspected
some mischief or. other. Seeing nothing, how-
ever, and hearing no sound, he soon began his
antics again. .

At length — not that he was weary, but only
idle and luxurious — Pegasus folded his wings,
and lay down on the soft green turf. But, being
too full of aerial life to remain quiet for many
moments together, he soon rolled over on his
back, with his four slender legs in the air. It was
beautiful to see him, this one solitary creature,
whose mate had never been created, but who
needed no companion, and, living a. great many
hundred years, was as happy as the centuries were
long. The more he did such things as mortal
horses are accustomed to do, the less earthly and —
the more wonderful he seemed. Bellerophon and
the child almost held their breath, partly from a
delightful awe, but still more because they dreaded
lest the slightest stir or murmur should send him
THE CHIMAIRA Igt

up, with the speed of an arrow-flight, into the
farthest blue of the sky.

Finally, when he had had enough of rolling
over and over, Pegasus turned himself about, and,
indolently, like any other horse, put out his fore
legs, in order to rise from the ground; and Bel-
lerophon, who had guessed that he would do so,
darted suddenly from the thicket, and leaped
astride of his back.

Yes, there he sat, on the back of the winged
horse !

But what a bound did Pegasus make, when, for _
the first time, he felt the weight of a mortal man
upon his loins! A bound, indeed! Before he
had time to draw a breath, Bellerophon found
himself five hundred feet aloft, and still shooting
upward, while the winged horse snorted and trem-
bled with terror and anger. Upward he went, up,
up, up, until he plunged into the cold misty bo-
som of a cloud, at which, only a little while be-
fore, Bellerophon had been gazing, and fancying
it a very pleasant spot. Then again, out of the
heart of the cloud, Pegasus shot down like a
thunderbolt, as if he meant to dash both himself
and his rider headlong against a rock. Then he
went through about a thousand of the wildest
caprioles that had ever been performed either by
a bird or a horse.

I cannot tell you half that he did. He
skimmed straight forward, and sideways, and
backward. He reared himself erect, with his
fore legs on a wreath of mist, and his hind legs
on nothing at all. He flung out his heels be-
192 ~THE CHIMERA

hind, and put down his .head between his legs,
with his wings pointing right upward. At about
two miles’ height above the earth, he turned a
somerset, so that Bellerophon’s heels were where
his head should have been, and he seemed to look
down into the sky, instead of up. He twisted
his head about, and, looking Bellerophon in the
face, with fire flashing from his eyes, made a ter-
rible attempt to bite him. He fluttered his
pinions so wildly that one of the silver feathers
was shaken out, and, floating earthward, was
picked up by the child, who kept it as long as he
lived, in memory of Pegasus and Bellerophon.

But the latter (who, as you may judge, was as
good a horseman as ever galloped) had been
watching his opportunity, and at last clapped the
golden bit of the enchanted bridle between the
winged steed’s jaws. No sooner was this done,
than Pegasus became as manageable as if he had
taken food, all his life, out of Bellerophon’s hand.
To speak what I really feel, it was almost a sad-’
ness to see so wild a creature grow suddenly so
tame. And Pegasus seemed to feel it so, like-
wise. He looked round to Bellerophon, with the |
tears in his beautiful eyes, instead of the fire that
so recently flashed from them. But when Bel-
lerophon patted his head, and spoke a few authori-
tative, yet kind and soothing words, another look
came into the eyes of Pegasus; for he was glad
at heart, after so many lonely centuries, to have
found a companion and a master.

Thus it always is with winged horses, and with
all such wild and solitary creatures. If you can
THE CHIMERA - ; 193

catch and overcome them, it is the surest way to
win their love. .

While Pegasus had been doing his utmost to
shake Bellerophon off his back, he had flown a
very long distance; and they had come within
sight of a lofty mountain by the time the bit was
in his mouth. Bellerophon had seen this moun-
tain before, and knew it to be Helicon, on the
summit of which was the winged horse’s abode. .
Thither (after looking gently into his rider’s face,
as if to ask leave) Pegasus now flew, and, alight-
ing, waited patiently until Bellerophon should
please to dismount. The young man, accord-
ingly, leaped from his steed’s back, but still held
him fast by the bridle. Meeting his eyes, how-
ever, he was so affected by the gentleness of his
aspect, and by the thought of the free life which
Pegasus had heretofore lived, that he could not
bear to keep him a prisoner, if he really desired
his liberty.

Obeying this generous impulse he slipped the
enchanted bridle off the head of Pegasus, and
took the bit from his mouth.

“Leave me, Pegasus!” said he. “Either leave
me, or love me.”

In an instant, the winged horse shot almost
out of sight, soaring straight upward from the
summit of Mount Helicon. Being long after
sunset, it was now twilight on the mountain-top,
and dusky evening over all the country round
about. But.Pegasus flew so high that he over-
took the departed day, and was bathed in the
upper radiance of the sun. Ascending higher
194 THE CHIMARA

and higher, he looked like a bright speck, and, at
last, could no longer be seen in the hollow waste
of the sky. And Bellerophon was afraid that he
should never behold him more. But, while he
was lamenting his own folly, the bright speck
reappeared, and. drew nearer and nearer, until it
descended lower than the sunshine; and, behold,
Pegasus had come back! After this trial there
was no more fear of the winged horse’s making
his escape. He and Bellerophon were friends,
and put loving faith in one another.

That night they lay down and slept together,
with Bellerophon’s arm about the neck of Peg-
asus, not as a caution, but for kindness. And
they awoke at peep of day, and bade one another
good morning, each in his own language.

In this manner, Bellerophon and. the wondrous
steed spent several days, and grew better ac-
quainted and fonder of each other all the time.
They went on long aerial journeys, and sometimes
ascended so high that the earth looked hardly
bigger than—the moon. They visited distant
countries, and amazed the inhabitants, who
thought that the beautiful young man, on the
back of the winged horse, must have come down
out of the sky. A thousand miles a day was no
more than an easy space for the fleet Pegasus
to pass over. Bellerophon was delighted with
this kind of life, and would have liked nothing
better than to live always in the same way, aloft
in the clear atmosphere ; for it was always sunny
weather up there, however cheerless and rainy
it might be in the lower region. But he could
THE CHIMERA 195

not forget the horrible Chimera, which he had
promised King Iobates to slay. So, at last, when
he had become well accustomed to feats of horse-
manship in the air, and could manage Pegasus
with the least motion of his hand, and had taught
him to obey his voice, he: determined to attempt
the performance of this perilous adventure.

At daybreak, therefore, as soon as he unclosed
his eyes, he gently pinched the winged horse’s ear,
in order to arouse him. Pegasus immediately
started from the ground, and pranced about a
quarter of a mile aloft, and made a grand sweep
around the mountain-top, by way of showing that
he was wide awake, and ready for any kind of an
excursion. During the whole of this little flight,
he uttered a loud, brisk, and melodious neigh, and
finally came down at Bellerophon’s side, as lightly
as ever you saw a sparrow hop upon a twig.

“ Well done, dear Pegasus! well done, my sky-
skimmer!” cried Bellerophon, fondly stroking the
horse’s neck. “And now, my fleet and beautiful
friend, we must break our fast. To-day we are to
fight the terrible Chimeera.”

As soon as they had eaten their morning meal,
and drank some sparkling water from a spring
called Hippocrene, Pegasus held out his head, of
his own accord, so that his master might put on
the bridle. Then, with a great many playful leaps
and airy caperings, he showed his impatience to
be gone; while Bellerophon was girding on his
sword, and hanging his shield about his neck, and
preparing himself for battle. When everything
was ready, the rider mounted, and (as was his
196 THE CHIMAIRA

custom, when going a long distance) ascended
five miles perpendicularly, so as the better to see
whither he was directing his course. He then
turned the head of Pegasus towards the east, and
set out for Lycia. In their flight they overtook
an eagle, and came so nigh him, before he could
get out of their way, that Bellerophon might
easily have caught him by the leg. Hastening
onward at this rate, it was still early in the fore
noon when they beheld the lofty mountains of
Lycia, with their deep and shaggy valleys. If
Bellerophon had been told truly, it was in one of
those dismal valleys that the hideous Chimera
had taken up its abode.

Being now so near their journey’s end, the
winged horse gradually descended with his rider;
and they took advantage of some clouds that were
floating over the mountain-tops, in order to con-
ceal themselves. Hovering on the upper surface
of a cloud, and peeping over its edge, Bellerophon
had a pretty distinct view of the mountainous part
of Lycia, and could look into all its shadowy vales
at once. At first there appeared to be nothing
remarkable. It was a wild, savage, and rocky —
tract of high,and precipitous hills. In the more
level part of the country, there were the ruins of
houses that had been burnt, and, here and there,
the carcasses of dead cattle, strewn about the pas-
tures where they had been feeding.

“ The Chimera must have done this mischief,”
thought Bellerophon. “ But where can the mon-
ster be?”

As I have already said, there was nothing re-
THE CHIMERA 197

markable to be detected, at first sight, in any of
the valleys and dells that lay among the precip-
itous heights of the mountains. Nothing at all;
unless, indeed, it were three spires of black smoke,
which issued from what seemed to be the mouth
of a cavern, and clambered sullenly into the atmos-
phere. Before reaching the mountain-top, these
three black smoke-wreaths mingled themselves
intoone. The cavern was almost directly beneath
the winged horse and his rider, at the distance of
about a thousand feet. The smoke, as it crept
heavily upward, had an ugly, sulphurous, stifling
scent, which caused Pegasus to snort and Bellero-
phon to sneeze. So disagreeable was it to the
marvelous steed (who was accustomed to breathe
only the purest air), that he waved his wings, and
shot half a mile out of the range of this offensive
vapor.

But, on looking behind him, Bellerophon saw
something that induced him first to draw the
bridle, and then to turn Pegasus about. He
made a sign, which the winged horse understood,
and sunk slowly through the air, until his hoofs
were scarcely more than a man’s height above the
rocky bottom of the valley. In front, as far off as
you could throw a stone, was the cavern’s mouth,
with the three smoke-wreaths oozing out of it.
_ And what else did Bellerophon behold there?

There seemed to be a heap of strange and ter-
rible creatures curled up within the cavern. .
Their bodies lay so close together, that Bellero-
phon could not distinguish them apart; but, judg-
ing by their heads, one of these creatures was a
198 THE CHIMARA

huge snake, the second a fierce lion, and the third
_ anugly goat. The lion and the goat were asleep;
‘the snake was broad awake, and kept staring
around him with a great pair of fiery eyes. But
—and this was the most wonderful part of the
matter — the three spires of smoke evidently is-
sued from the nostrils of these three heads! So
strange was the spectacle, that, though Bellero-
phon had been all along expecting it, the truth
did not immediately occur to him, that here was
the terrible three- headed Chimera. He had
found out the Chimera’s cavern. The snake, the
lion, and the goat, as he supposed them to be,
were not three separate creatures, but one mon-
ster!

The wicked, hateful thing! Slumbering as two
thirds of it were, it still held, in its abominable
claws, the remnant of an unfortunate lamb, — or
‘possibly (but I hate to think so) it was a dear little
boy, — which its three mouths had been: gnawing,
before two of them fell asleep !

All at once, Bellerophon started as from a
dream, and knew it to be the Chimera. Pegasus
seemed to know it, at the same instant, and sent |
forth a neigh, that sounded like the call of a
trumpet to battle. At this sound the three heads
reared themselves erect, and belched out great
flashes of flame. Before Bellerophon had time to
consider what to do next, the monster flung itself
out of the cavern and sprung straight towards
him, with its immense claws extended, and its
snaky tail twisting itself venomously behind. If
Pegasus had not been as nimble as a bird, both
THE CHIMARA 199

he and his rider would have been overthrown by
the Chimzera’s headlong rush, and thus the battle
have been ended before it was well begun. But
the winged horse was not to be caught so. In
the twinkling of an eye he was up aloft, halfway
to the clouds, snorting with anger. He shud-
dered, too, not with affright, but with utter dis-
gust at the loathsomeness of this poisonous thing
with three heads.

The Chimera, on the other hand, raised itself
up so as to stand absolutely on the tip-end of its
tail, with its talons pawing fiercely in the air, and
its three heads spluttering fire at Pegasus and his
rider. My stars, how it roared, and hissed, and
bellowed! Bellerophon, meanwhile, was fitting
his shield on his arm, and drawing his sword.

“ Now, my beloved Pegasus,” he whispered in
the winged horse’s ear, “thou must help me to
slay this insufferable monster; or else thou shalt»
fly back to thy solitary mountain-peak without
thy friend Bellerophon. For either the Chimzera
dies, or its three mouths shall gnaw this head of
mine, which has slumbered upon thy neck!”

Pegasus whinnied, and, turning back his head,
rubbed his nose tenderly against his rider’s cheek.
It was his way of telling him that, though he had
wings and was an immortal horse, yet he would
perish, if it were possible for immortality to perish,
rather than leave Bellerophon behind.

“T thank you, Pegasus,” answered Bellerophon.
“ Now, then, let us make a dash at the monster!”

Uttering these words, he shook the bridle; and
Pegasus darted down aslant, as swift as the flight
200 THE CHIMERA

of an arrow, right towards the Chimzra’s three-
fold head, which, all this time, was poking itself
as high as it could into the air. As he came
-! within arm’s-length, Bellerophon made a cut ate
the monster, but was carried onward by his steed,
before he could see whether the blow had been
successful. Pegasus continued his course, but
soon wheeled round, at about the same distance
from the Chimera as before. Bellerophon then
perceived that he had cut the goat’s head of the
; monster almost off, so that_it dangled downward
_ by the skin, and seemed quite dead.

But, to make amends, the snake’s head and the
lion’s head had taken all the fierceness of the dead
one into themselves, and spit flame, and hissed,
and roared, with a vast deal more fury than before.

“Never mind, my brave Pegasus!” cried Bel-
lerophon. “With another stroke like that, we
will stop either its hissing or its roaring.”

And again he shook the bridle. Dashing

-aslantwise, as before, the winged horse made
another arrow-flight towards the Chimera, and
Bellerophon aimed another downright stroke at
one of the two remaining heads, as he shot by.
But this time, neither he nor Pegasus escaped so
well as at first. With one of its claws, the Chi-
mera had given the young man a deep scratch in
his shoulder, and had slightly damaged the left
wing of the flying steed with the other. On his
part, Bellerophon had mortally wounded the lion’s
head of the monster, insomuch that it now hung
downward, with its fire almost extinguished, and

~ sending out gasps of thick black smoke. The

THE CHIMARA : 201

snake’s head, however (which was the only one >
now left), was twice as fierce and venomous as ever
before. It belched forth shoots of fire five hun-
dred yards long, and emitted hisses so loud, so
harsh, and so ear-piercing, that King Iobates
heard them, fifty miles off, and trembled till the
throne shook under him.

“ Well-a-day!” thought the poor king; “the
Chimera is certainly coming to devour me!”

Meanwhile Pegasus had again paused in the
air, and neighed angrily, while sparkles of a pure
crystal flame darted out of his eyes. How unlike
the lurid fire of the Chimzra! The aerial steed’s
spirit was all aroused, and so was that of Bellero-
phon.

“ Dost thou bleed, my immortal horse?” cried
the young man, caring less for his own hurt than
for the anguish of this glorious creature, that
ought never to have tasted pain. “The execrable
Chimera shall pay for this mischief with his last
head!”

Then he shook the bridle, shouted loudly, and
guided Pegasus, not aslantwise as before, but
straight at the monster’s hideous front. So rapid
was the onset, that it seemed but a dazzle and a
flash before Bellerophon was at close gripes with
his enemy. “

The Chimera, by this time, after losing its
second head, had got into a red-hot passion of
pain and rampant rage. It so flounced about,
half on earth and partly in the air, that it was im-
possible to say which element it rested upon. It
opened its snake-jaws to such an abominable
202 — THE CHIMARA

width, that Pegasus might almost, I was going to
say, have flown right down its throat, wings out-
spread, rider and all! At their approach it. shot
out a tremendous blast of its fiery breath, and
enveloped Bellerophon and his steed in a perfect
atmosphere of flame, singeing the wings of Peg-
asus, scorching off one whole side of the young
man’s golden ringlets, and making them both far
hotter than was comfortable, from head to foot.

But this was:nothing to what followed. .

When the airy rush of the winged horse had
brought him within the distance of a hundred
yards, the Chimera gave a spring, and flung its
huge, awkward, venomous, and utterly detestable
carcass right upon poor Pegasus, clung round him
with might and main, and tied up its snaky tail
into a knot! Up flew the aerial steed, higher,
higher, higher, above the mountain-peaks, above
the clouds, and almost out of sight of the solid
earth. But still the earth-born monster kept its
hold, and was borne upward, along with the crea-
ture of light and air. Bellerophon, meanwhile,
turning about, found himself face to face with the
ugly grimness of the Chimzera’s visage, and could.
only avoid being scorched to death, or bitten right
in twain, by holding up his shield. Over the
upper edge of the shield, he looked sternly into
the savage eyes of the monster.

But the Chimera was-so mad and wild with
pain, that it did not guard itself so well as might
else have been the case. Perhaps, after all, the
best way to fight a Chimeera is by getting as close
to it as you can. In its efforts to stick its hor-
THE CHIMARA . 203
rible iron claws into its enemy, the creature left
its own breast quite exposed ; and perceiving this,
‘Bellerophon thrust his sword up to the hilt into
its cruel heart. Immediately the snaky tail untied
its knot. The monster let go its hold of Pegasus,
and fell from that vast height, downward; while
the fire within its bosom, instead of being put out,
burned fiercer than ever, and quickly began to
consume the dead -carcass. Thus it fell out of
the sky, all aflame, and (it being nightfall before
it reached the earth) was mistaken for a shooting
star ora comet. But, at early sunrise, some cot-
tagers were going to their day’s labor, and saw, to
their astonishment, that several acres of ground
were strewn with black ashes. In the middle of
a field,.there was a heap of whitened bones, a great
deal higher than a haystack. Nothing else was
ever seen of the dreadful Chimera !

And when Bellerophon had won the victory, he
bent forward and kissed Pegasus, while the tears
stood in his eyes.

“Back now, my beloved steed!” said he.
“ Back to the Fountain of Pirene!”

Pegasus skimmed through the air, quicker than
ever he did before, and reached the fountain in a
very short time. And there he found the old
man leaning on his staff, and the country fellow
watering his cow, and the pretty maiden filling
her pitcher. ok

«“ T remember now,” quoth the old man, “ I saw
this winged horse once before, when I was quite
a lad. But he was ten times handsomer in those
days.”
204. 7 THE CHIMERA

“JT own a cart-horse, worth three of him!” said
the country fellow. “If this pony were mine, the
first thing I should do would be to clip’ his
wings!” — “e

But the poor maiden said nothing, for she had
always the luck to be afraid at the wrong time.
So she ran away, and let her pitcher tumble down,
and broke it, ~ +”

“Where is the gentle child,” asked Bellerophon,
“who used to keep me company, and never lost
his faith, and never was weary of gazing into the
fountain ? ”

“ Here am I, dear Bellerophon!” said the child,
softly.

For the little boy had spent day after day, on
the margin of Pirene, waiting for his friend to
come back; but when he perceived Bellerophon
descending through the clouds, mounted on the
winged horse, he had shrunk back into the shrub- ©
bery. He was a delicate and tender child, and
dreaded lest the old man and the country fellow
should see the tears gushing from his eyes.

“Thou hast won the victory,” said he, joyfully,
running to the knee of Bellerophon, who still sat
on the back of Pegasus. “I knew thou wouldst.”

“Yes, dear child!” replied Bellerophon, alight-
ing from the winged horse. “ But if thy faith had
not helped me, I should never have waited for
Pegasus, and never have gone up above the
clouds, and never have conquered the terrible
Chimera. Thou, my beloved little friend, hast
done it all. And now let us give Pegasus his
liberty.”
THE CHIMARA 205

So he slipped off the enchanted bridle from the
head of the marvelous steed.

“Be free, forevermore, my Pegasus!” cried he,
with a shade of sadness in his tone. “Be as free
as thou art fleet!”

But Pegasus rested his head on Bellerophon’s
shoulder, and would not be persuaded to take
flight.

“Well then,” said Bellerophon, caressing the
airy horse, “thou shalt be with me, as long as thou
wilt; and we will go together, forthwith, and tell
King Iobates that the Chimeera is destroyed.”

Then Bellerophon embraced the gentle child,
and promised to come to him again, and departed.
But, in after years, that child took higher flights
upon the aerial steed than ever did Bellerophon,
and achieved more honorable deeds than his
friend’s victory over the Chimera. For, gentle
and tender as he was, he grew to be a mighty
poet!





ANUSTACE BRIGHT told
} the legend of Bellerophon
with as much fervor and
animation as if he had really
been taking a gallop on the
winged horse. At the con-
clusion, he was gratified to
discern, by the glowing countenances of his audi-
tors, how greatly they had been interested. All
their eyes were dancing in their heads, except
those of Primrose. In her eyes there were posi-
tively tears; for she was conscious of something
in the legend which the rest of them were not yet
old enough to feel. Child’s story as it was, the
student had contrived to breathe through it the
ardor, the generous hope, and. the imaginative
enterprise of youth.

“I forgive you, now, Primrose,” said he, “ for all
your ridicule of myself and my stories. One tear
pays for a great deal of laughter.”

“Well, Mr. Bright,” answered Primrose, wiping
her eyes, and giving him another of her mischiev.

ous smiles, “it certainly does elevate your ideas,
206
- BALD-SUMMIT 207

to get your head above the clouds. I advise you
never to tell another story, unless it be, as at pres-
ent, from the top of a mountain.” :

“Or from the back of Pegasus,” replied Eus-
tace, laughing. “Don’t you think that I ‘suc-
ceeded pretty well in catching that wonderful
pony?”

“Tt was so like one of your madcap pranks!”
cried Primrose, clapping her hands. “I think I
see you now on his back, two miles high, and with
your head downward! . It is well that you have
not really an opportunity of trying your horseman-
ship on any wilder steed than our sober Davy, or
Old Hundred.”

“For my part, I wish I had Pegasus here, at
this moment,” said the student. “I would mount
him forthwith, and gallop about the country,
within a circumference of a few miles, making liter-
ary calls on my brother-authors. Dr. Dewey would
be within my reach, at the foot of Taconic. In
Stockbridge, yonder, is*Mr. James, conspicuous to
all the world on his:mountain-pile of history and
romance. Longfellow, I believe; is noteyet at the
Ox-bow, else the winged horse would neigh at the
sight of him. But, here-in Lenox, I should find
our most truthful novelist, who has made the scen-
ery and life of Berkshire all. her own. On the
hither side of Pittsfield sits Herman Melville, shap-
ing out the gigantic conception of his ‘ White
Whale, while the gigantic shape of Graylock
looms upon him from his study-window. Another
bound of my flying steed would bring me to the
door of Holmes, whom I mention last, because
208 BALD-SUMMIT

Pegasus would: certainly unseat me, the next
minute, and claim the poet as his rider.”

“Have we not an author for our next neigh-
bor?” asked Primrose. “That silent man, who
lives in the old red ‘house, near Tanglewood
Avenue, and whom we sometimes meet, with two
children at his side, in the woods or at the lake.
I think I have heard of his having written a poem,
or a romance, or an arithmetic, or a school-history,
or some other kind of a book.”

“ Hush, Primrose, hush!” exclaimed Eustace, in
a thrilling whisper, and putting his finger on his
lip. “Not a word about that man, even on a
hilltop! If our babble were to reach his ears,
‘and happen not to please him, he has but to fling
a quire or two of paper into the stove, and you,
Primrose, and I, and Periwinkle, Sweet Fern,
Squash-Blossom, Blue Eye, Huckleberry, Clover,
Cowslip, Plantain, Milkweed, Dandelion, and But-
tercup, — yes, and wise Mr. Pringle, with his un-
favorable criticisms on my legends, and poor Mrs.
Pringle, too, —would all turn to smoke, and go
whisking up the funnel! Our neighbor in the
red house is a harmless sort of person enough, for |
aught I know, as concerns the rest of the world :
but something whispers to’ me that he has a ter-
rible power over ourselves, extending to nothing
short of annihilation.”

“And would Tanglewood turn to smoke, as well
as we?” asked Periwinkle, quite appalled at the
threatened destruction. “And what would be-
come of Ben and Bruin?”

“Tanglewood would remain,” replied the stu-
BALD-SUMMIT 209

dent, “looking just as it does now, but occupied
by an entirely different family. And Ben and
Bruin would be still alive, and would make them-
selves very comfortable with the bones from the
dinner-table, without ever thinking of the good
times which they and we have had together!”

“What nonsense you are talking!” exclaimed
Primrose.

With idle chat of this kind, the party had al-
ready begun to descend the hill, and were now
within the shadow of the woods. Primrose gath-
ered some mountain-laurel, the leaf of which,
though of last year’s growth, was still as verdant
and elastic as if the frost and thaw had not alter-
nately tried their force upondts texture. Of these
twigs of laurel she twined a wreath, and took off
the student’s cap, in order to.place it on his brow.

“Nobody else is likely to crown you for your
stories,” observed saucy Primrose, “so take this
from me.” * : :

* Do not be too sure,” answered Eustace, look- |
ing really like a youthful poet, with the laurel:
among his glossy curls, “ that I shall not win other
wreaths by thes¢ wonderful and admirable stories.
I mean to spend all my leisure, during the rest of
the vacation, and throughout the summer term at
college, in writing them out for the press. Mr. J.
T. Fields (with whom I became acquainted when
he was in Berkshire, last summer, and who is a poet,
as well as a publisher) will see their uncommon
merit ata glance. He will get them illustrated,
I hope, by Billings, and will bring them before
the world under the very best of auspices, through


210 BALD-SUMMIT

the eminent house of Ticknor & Co. In about
. five months from this moment, I make no doubt
of being reckoned among the lights of the age!”

“Poor boy!” said Primrose, half aside. “ What
a disappointment awaits him!”

Descending a little lower, Bruin began to bark,
and was answered by the graver bow-wow of the
respectable Ben. They soon saw the good old
dog, keeping careful watch over Dandelion, Sweet
Fern, Cowslip, and Squash-Blossom. These little
people, quite recovered from their fatigue, had set
about gathering checkerberries, and now came
clambering to meet their play-fellows. Thus re-
united, the whole party went down through Luther
Butler’s orchard, and made the best of their way
home to Tanglewood.






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