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courage. Already he had prayed to Venus, the goddess of love, and had offered rich sacrifices upon her altars.
“I will give you aid," the goddess had answered. “Take these three golden apples from the far-off gardens of the 5 Hesperides; and as you run, drop them, one at a time, that Atalanta may be tempted to stop to gather them."
And so Atalanta and Hippomenes took their places before the king.
At a signal each bounded forward even like the wild 10 forest deer.
On, on they sped, so light of foot, it was but as the sweeping by of a western wind.
The shouts of the people rent the air and cheered them
“Courage! Courage!” they cried.
And out it rolled beneath Atalanta's flying feet. Its rich color shone in the light. It was beautiful. Who could resist so rare a prize? And Atalanta stooped to reach the apple.
"Hippomenes with one great effort leaped forward, and 30 for one moment shot ahead. But soon again Atalanta was abreast of him.
"Again! Throw another," whispered Venus, who heard the heavy heaving of Hippomenes' breath.
“Hippomenes!” shouted the crowd of people, wild with excitement.
“The third apple! Now! Quick!” whispered Venus; and out rolled the last of the three golden apples.
Again Atalanta stooped to gather the wonderful fruit. It was one second lost. On, on the racers flew; and with one last bound, one last summoning of strength, Hippomenes fell prostrate upon the goal — Atalanta one half leap behind.
How the people cheered! And the king himself, glad in his heart for the beautiful youth, arose and swung his sceptre and summoned the servants of the palace to prepare a feast in honor of the victor.
But alas for Atalanta! The Oracle will not be defied. 15 And so it came about that, the ire of Venus being aroused
because the happy youth and maiden forgot for a time their benefactor, she sent a heavy punishment upon them.
In the midst of their happiness, a terrible change began to creep over them; their beauty, their grace, failed. Their 20 tall, handsome forms sank lower and lower to the earth;
their fair skins grew tough and hairy; and alas! they stood at last before each other transformed from human beings to wretched beasts — brave, though, even now — and, as lion and lioness, they lived to drag, for many a year,
the 25 golden chariot of Cybele.
268:4 Diana. The Roman goddess of hunting, the moon goddess. In Greek mythology she was known as Artemis.
270: 25 Cybele. The mother of the Olympian gods. She was known in Greek mythology as the “Great Mother of the Gods."
JASON AND THE GOLDEN FLEECE
The two little children of the king of Thessaly were playing in the broad, sunny fields. They were not very happy children, for their mother had been sent away into a distant land, and little care had they now that she was gone.
The poor mother, fearing that her children would fare ill indeed with no one but their cruel father to look after them, prayed to the good Minerva to save them from their sad fate.
Minerva, always glad to lend her aid and to comfort the 10 suffering, promised that she would find the children, and rescue them if she found them illy used.
It was on the morning of the great feast day that she found them; they were out in the sunny fields at play, but hungry and neglected.
“Poor children!” said Minerva; and instantly there appeared in the field close by a young sheep, upon whose back a golden fleece shone like the sunlight. It seemed a most playful sheep, for it ran towards the children, and leaped and frolicked with them as if inviting them to play.
“Let's climb upon its back, sister Helle,” said the boy Phrixos. "Perhaps the sheep will carry us across the fields."
“Dear sheep!” said Helle, patting its woolly head; and then the children climbed upon its back, Phrixos in front 25 and Helle clinging close to him behind.
Now this was just what the sheep — or Minerva, we should say, since it was she in disguise — wanted the children to do; for away in a far country there was a good king to whom Minerva meant to take the children.
“On, on the sheep sped. It was great fun, the children thought; but by and by they reached a great body of water. It was like an ocean, so the children thought, and poor little Helle began to tremble with fear.
“Hold tight!” cried Phrixos; but Helle was so little and was so frightened she could not hold; and before the sheep had reached the opposite shore the child lay in the bottom of the sea, and many a sea nymph was bending
over her in. pity that so beautiful a child should have come 10 to so sad an end.
Poor Phrixos, clinging with all his might to the shining wool, called upon the gods to save him from Helle's fate; and long before the sun had risen in the far-off east again,
the sheep had borne the lad safely even into the very palace 15 of the good king.
“What have we here?" cried the king, amazed at the sudden appearance of his strange guests.
Poor little Phrixos, trembling with fright, burst into tears. “Don't cry, little boy,” said the king kindly. 20“Come to me and tell me whence you came, poor child.”
Then Phrixos told his wonderful story, and the kind king, moved to tears of pity, gathered the little fellow up in his arms and bade him think no more about the past,
but to take up his home in the new kingdom into which 25 he had been borne. "I have no son of my own, Phrixos,"
said the king, “and you shall dwell with me here in our golden palace; you shall be as my own son, and the people shall call you Prince. By and by you will be a great man
- king, perhaps — and shall be famed throughout the 30 land."
Little Phrixos was comforted by the good king's kind words, and could he but have had his little sister with him again, would have been very happy.
The king ordered the golden fleece to be cut from the 35 sheep and to be hung in a grand hall in the palace, where
every one, in all the years to come, might see it and be reminded of the wonderful manner in which the little prince had been brought into the palace of the king.
The golden fleece, so precious did it seem in the sight 5 of the king, was guarded by a huge dragon that slept neither day nor night, so eager was it lest an opportunity for devouring a hero should be lost to it.
Now, there were kings in the country who envied the possessor of this golden fleece his good fortune, and every 10 year some daring youth, desirous of fame, would attempt
to overcome this dragon and carry away the golden fleece. But alas for the youths! A hundred had already found themselves helpless before the terrible creature, and never
one of them had ever returned to tell even the story of his 15 adventure.
But the Fates had decreed that the fleece should be carried away, nevertheless; and at last a youth grew up, whose mission it was to overcome the dragon.
The youth's name was Jason; and when he came for the 20 first time into the presence of King Pelias, the king turned pale and nearly fainted with terror.
“What is it?" asked Jason, innocently.
“One sandal! one sandal!” groaned the courtiers, looking down at his feet.
“Yes; I lost the other in crossing the river,” said. Jason.
“But there is a prophecy," said the people, “that our king shall be dethroned by a one-sandaled man."
“Never mind,” said Jason, laughing; "I have no wish to dethrone your king, and have not come for any such 30 purpose. I am only a youth just from school, where I have
been taught for years by the good Centaur Chiron. He has taught me to be brave, but he has not taught me to take from kings their kingdoms.”
These were fair words, and the people easily accepted 35 them. The king, however, was doubtful. “I will rid