Classic Myths

Page: 38

Finally, Icarus, too, could sail like a pigeon, and if the night had not been so dark it would have been great fun to see these two new birds fly out of that tower window.

Keeping their wings so close to each other that they almost touched, they flew away over houses and fields. Before the sun came out, Daedalus told his boy to be careful to keep near him. "Don't fly too near the sun, for the heat will melt the wax, nor too low, for the damp will wet the feathers. Keep close to me."

When the morning dawned they saw the men plowing in the fields stop work to look at them. Shepherds left their flocks and ran miles to see where those strange birds were going. No one could tell who they were. It was grand to be so free and to fly so swiftly.

An eagle saw them and flew near. They felt the breeze from his powerful wings, and swifter went their own. The eagle, frightened, turned and mounted toward the sun. Icarus forgot his father's warning and followed. Daedalus flew on and on, thinking his boy was beside him. Up, up went Icarus swifter than the eagle and swept proudly past him toward the sun. The next instant he felt his wings loosen and droop.

Just then, Daedalus, who was miles away, turned his head, for he heard the boy call him.

"Icarus, Icarus, where are you?" his father shouted. There was no answer, but the mass of feathers in the blue sea below told the story. Flying down, Daedalus searched till he found the body, and, tenderly laying it in the earth he wept that he had ever thought of wings.

The land where this happened was wild, and only savage beasts lived in it, so Daedalus flew away to Sicily. There he built a temple and on its walls hung up his wings forever.

He became so proud of his own success that he believed no one else could invent anything. He was willing, though, to teach others all he knew, and sister, living near, sent her son, Perdix, to him to learn what he could.

This boy was quick to see, to hear, and to learn, and he could invent things himself.

One day when Daedalus was slowly cutting through a log with an ax, the boy showed him how much quicker he could do it with a saw he had made. No one had ever heard of a saw before, and Daedalus was angry.

"Who told you how to make this?" he asked.

"I brought home yesterday the backbone of a great fish cast up by the sea, and I made this like it, but of iron; that is all," said Perdix.

Another time Daedalus was trying to draw a perfect circle. Thirteen times he tried and failed.

"Take my irons, if you will not be angry with me," said Perdix, and he handed him a pair of compasses.