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Classic Myths

Page: 40

"Day and night Argus watched, never sleeping except with two eyes at a time. He was as faithful as fifty soldiers.

"But he loved music, and the friends of the prisoner knew it. So they sent some one to him who could play upon the harp and sing, thinking that perhaps Argus might be charmed to sleep.

"This player's name was Mercury, and he was so quick that some thought he wore wings on his feet. If he did wear them, he could take them off when he liked, for he was just a plain shepherd in a sheepskin coat and sheepskin sandals when Argus saw him.

"If he had come with a spear, or with bow and arrow, Argus would have been ready to keep him out, but Mercury was too bright for that.

"No, he was just a plain shepherd, and he sat down in a field near the one Argus was in, to watch his sheep. While he sat there, he played such sweet music that Argus said, 'Bring your sheep into my field and we will watch together.'

"That was just what Mercury had planned. So he was not very long in getting his sheep into the field with Argus. There the two lay in the shade of the trees and told stories, and Mercury played and watched the green eyes of Argus, while Argus watched the prisoner.

"One night Mercury played so softly, so sweetly, that for one minute every one of the hundred green eyes of Argus closed, the watchman nodded, and in that minute Mercury struck him on the neck and cut off his head. Then the prisoner was free. Juno took the green eyes of Argus and put them on her pet bird, the peacock."

"Oh, Jack, I don't believe a word of it."

"I don't, either," said Jack, "but these stories are both more than two thousand years old, and I shouldn't wonder if some one did believe them a long time ago."


THE GIFT OF THE OLIVE TREE

Greek

"Has everything a name, father?" asked a wide-awake boy one day.

"Everything I know of has a name," answered the father.

"What is the name of this stone, then?"

"The name of the stone you have just picked up happens to be granite."

"I believe you made that up, father, just because I asked you so quickly. Really is it granite? Has a rock a name?"

"Why, certainly, my boy. It seems strange that a boy of ten does not know granite when he sees it."

"But you lived in the country, father, when you were a boy, and I have been here hardly a month. Oh, here is another kind of stone; what is this?"

The father cracked the bit of rock so as to get a fresh surface and then answered:

"Common white quartz, Harold. You are giving me easy specimens, which is lucky for both of us."

"Why, father, where did you learn all their names?"

"I don't know all their names. I know only the most common ones. To find the names of some kinds of rock or stone I should need quite an outfit, such as you may have seen in the high-school laboratory."


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