A Book of Myths

Page: 85

From that time the world went well with Latona. Down to the seashore she came, and when she held out her arms in longing appeal to the Ægean islands that lay like purple flowers strewn, far apart, on a soft carpet of limpid blue, Zeus heard her prayer. He asked Poseidon to send a dolphin to carry the woman he loved to the floating island of Delos, and when she had been borne there in safety, he chained the island with chains of adamant to the golden-sanded floor of the sea.

And on this sanctuary there were born to Latona twin children, thereafter to be amongst the most famed [Pg 173] of the deathless gods—the god and goddess, Apollo and Diana.

“... Those hinds that were transformed to frogs
Railed at Latona’s twin-born progeny,
Which after held the sun and moon in fee.”


Yet are there times, as we look at the squat, bronze bodies of the frogs—green-bronze, dark brown spotted, and all flecked with gold, the turned-down corners of their wistful mouths, their very exquisite black velvety eyes with golden rims—when the piteous croaks that come forth from their throats of pale daffodil colour do indeed awake a sympathy with their appeal against the inexorable decrees of destiny.

“We did not know! We did not understand! Pity us! Ah, pity us! Krroak! krroak! krroak!

[Pg 174]


In the solitudes of the hills we find her, and yet we may come on her unawares in the din of a noisy city. She will answer us where the waves are lashing themselves against the rugged cliffs of our own British coast, or we may find her where the great yellow pillars of fallen temples lie hot in the sun close to the vivid blue water of the African sea. At nightfall, on the lonely northern moors, she mimics the cry of a wailing bird that calls for its mate, but it is she who prolongs the roll of the great organ in a vast cathedral, she who repeats the rattle and crack and boom of the guns, no matter in what land the war may be raging. In the desolate Australian bush she makes the crash of the falling limb of a dead gum tree go on and on, and tortures the human being who is lost, hopelessly lost, and facing a cruel death, by repeating his despairing calls for help. Through the night, in old country-houses, she sports at will and gives new life to sad old tales of the restless dead who restlessly walk. But she echoes the children’s voices as they play by the seashore or pick primroses in the woods in spring, and when they greet her with laughter, she laughs in merry response. They may fear her when the sun has gone down, and when they are left all alone they begin to dread her mockery. Yet the nymph who [Pg 175] sought for love and failed to gain what she sought must surely find some comfort on those bright days of summer and of spring when she gives the little children happiness and they give her their love.