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Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 79

But the king was sore distracted, knowing not what he should say or do, for a terrible necessity was upon him, seeing that the army could not make their journey to Troy unless this deed should first be done. And while he doubted came Achilles, saying that there was a horrible tumult in the camp, the men crying out that the maiden must be sacrificed, and that when he would have stayed them from their purpose, the people had stoned him with stones, and that his own Myrmidons helped him not, but rather were the first to assail him. Nevertheless, he said that he would fight for the maiden, even to the utmost, and that there were faithful men who would stand with him and help him. But when the maiden heard these words, she stood forth and said, "Hearken to me, my mother. Be not wroth with my father, for we cannot fight against fate. Also we must take thought that this young man suffer not, for his help will avail naught and he himself will perish. Therefore I am resolved to die; for all Greece looketh to me; for without me the ships cannot make their voyage, nor the city of Troy be taken. Thou didst bear me, my mother, not for thyself only, but for this whole people. Wherefore I will give myself for them. Offer me for an offering, and let the Greeks take the city of Troy, for this shall be my memorial forever."

Then said Achilles, "Lady, I should count myself most happy if the gods would grant thee to be my wife. For I love thee well when I see how noble thou art. And if thou wilt, I will carry thee to my home. And I doubt not that I shall save thee, though all the men of Greece be against me."

But the maiden answered, "What I say, I say with full[Pg 140] purpose. Nor will I that any man should die for me, but rather will I save this land of Greece."

And Achilles said, "If this be thy will, lady, I cannot say nay, for it is a noble thing that thou doest."

Nor was the maiden turned from her purpose though her mother besought her with many tears. So they that were appointed led her to the grove of Artemis, where there was built an altar, and the whole army of the Greeks gathered about it. But when the king saw her going to her death he covered his face with his mantle; but she stood by him, and said, "I give my body with a willing heart to die for my country and for the whole land of Greece. I pray the gods that ye may prosper and win the victory in this war and come back safe to your homes. And now let no man touch me, for I will die with a good heart."

And all men marveled to see the maiden of what a good courage she was. And all the army stood regarding the maiden and the priest and the altar.


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