A Book of Myths

Page: 61

“Lo! he comes!” she cried. “Save me! ah, save me! I am so young to die.”

Then Perseus darted high above her and for an instant hung poised like a hawk that is about to strike. Then, like the hawk that cannot miss its prey, swiftly did he swoop down and smote with his sword the devouring monster of the ocean. Not once, but again and again he smote, until all the water round the rock was churned into slime and blood-stained froth, and until his loathsome combatant floated on its back, mere carrion for the scavengers of the sea.

Then Perseus hewed off the chains that held Andromeda, and in his arms he held her tenderly as he flew with her to her father’s land.

Who so grateful then as the king and queen of Ethiopia? and who so happy as Andromeda? for Perseus, [Pg 120] her deliverer, dearest and greatest hero to her in all the world, not only had given her her freedom, but had given her his heart.

Willingly and joyfully her father agreed to give her to Perseus for his wife. No marriage feast so splendid had ever been held in Ethiopia in the memory of man, but as it went on, an angry man with a band of sullen-faced followers strode into the banqueting-hall. It was Phineus, he who had been betrothed to Andromeda, yet who had not dared to strike a blow for her rescue. Straight at Perseus they rushed, and fierce was the fight that then began. But of a sudden, from the goatskin where it lay hid, Perseus drew forth the head of Medusa, and Phineus and his warriors were turned into stone.

For seven days the marriage feast lasted, but on the eighth night Pallas Athené came to Perseus in a dream.

“Nobly and well hast thou played the hero, O son of Zeus!” she said; “but now that thy toil is near an end and thy sorrows have ended in joy, I come to claim the shoes of Hermes, the helmet of Pluto, the sword, and the shield that is mine own. Yet the head of the Gorgon must thou yet guard awhile, for I would have it laid in my temple at Seriphos that I may wear it on my shield for evermore.”

As she ceased to speak, Perseus awoke, and lo, the shield and helmet and the sword and winged shoes were gone, so that he knew that his dream was no false vision.

Then did Perseus and Andromeda, in a red-prowed galley made by cunning craftsmen from Phœnicia, sail away westward, until at length they came to the blue [Pg 121] water of the Ægean Sea, and saw rising out of the waves before them the rocks of Seriphos. And when the rowers rested on their long oars, and the red-prowed ship ground on the pebbles of the beach, Perseus and his bride sought Danaë, the fair mother of Perseus.