Hero Tales

Page: 13

And men say that Arethusa, the nymph, was afterwards changed into a fountain; and that to this day, in the far-off island of Ortygia, that fountain gushes from the rocks in an unfailing, crystal stream. But Orsilochus, the babe forgotten by his father, grew to manhood, and in course of time became the king of the seafaring people of Messene.



"There is a cavern somewhere on Mount Pelion larger by far and a thousand times more beautiful than this; but its doorway is hidden to mortals, and but few men have ever stood beneath its vaulted roof. In that cavern the ever-living ones who oversee the affairs of men, once held high carnival; for they had met there at the marriage feast of King Peleus, and the woods and rocks of mighty Pelion echoed with the sound of their merry-making. But wherefore should the marriage feast of a mortal be held in such a place and with guests so noble and so great? I will tell you.

"After Peleus had escaped from a plot which some wicked men had made for his destruction, he dwelt long time with me, who am his grandfather. But the days seemed long to him, thus shut out from fellowship with men, and the sun seemed to move slowly in the heavens; and often he would walk around to the other side of the mountain, and sitting upon a great rock, he would gaze for long hours upon the purple waters of the sea. One morning as thus he sat, he saw the sea nymph Thetis come up out of the waves and walk upon the shore beneath him. Fairer than a dream was she—more beautiful than any picture of nymph or goddess. She was clad in a robe of green silk, woven by the sea maidens in their watery grottoes; and there was a chaplet of pearls upon her head, and sandals of sparkling silver were upon her feet.

"As Peleus gazed upon this lovely creature, he heard a voice whispering in his ear. It was the voice of wise Athena.

"'Most luckless of mortal men,' she said, 'there is recompense in store for those who repent of their wrong-doing, and who, leaving the paths of error, turn again to the road of virtue. The immortals have seen thy sorrow for the evil deeds of thy youth, and they have looked with pity upon thee in thy misfortunes. And now thy days of exile and of sore punishment are drawing to an end. Behold the silver-footed Thetis, most beautiful of the nymphs of the sea, whom even the immortals have wooed in vain! She has been sent to this shore, to be won and wedded by thee.'

"Peleus looked up to see the speaker of these words, but he beheld only a blue cloud resting above the mountain-top; he turned his eyes downward again, and, to his grief, the silver-footed Thetis had vanished in the waves. All day he sat and waited for her return, but she came not. When darkness began to fall he sought me in my cave hall, and told me what he had seen and heard; and I taught him how to win the sea nymph for his bride.