Old Greek Stories
Page: 48I do not suppose that Diana cared anything at all for the fruit or the grain; but it made her very angry to think that she should be forgotten.
"I'll show them that I am not to be slighted in this way," she said.
All went well, however, until the next summer; and the people of Calydon were very happy, for it looked as though there would be a bigger harvest than ever.
"I tell you," said old King OEneus, looking over his fields and his vineyards, "it pays to give thanks. We'll have another thanksgiving as soon as the grapes begin to ripen."
But even then he did not think of Diana.
The very next day the largest and fiercest wild boar that anybody had ever seen came rushing out of the forest. He had two long tusks which stuck far out of his mouth on either side and were as sharp as knives, and the stiff bristles on his back were as large and as long as knitting needles. As he went tearing along towards Calydon, champing his teeth and foaming at the mouth, he was a frightful thing to look at, I tell you. Everybody fled before him. He rushed into the wheat fields and tore up all the grain; he went into the vineyards and broke down all the vines; he rooted up all the trees in the orchards; and, when there was nothing else to do, he went into the pasture lands among the hills and killed the sheep that were feeding there. He was so fierce and so fleet of foot that the bravest warrior hardly dared to attack him. His thick skin was proof against arrows and against such spears as the people of Calydon had; and I do not know how many men he killed with those terrible razor tusks of his. For weeks he had pretty much his own way, and the only safe place for anybody was inside of the walls.
When he had laid waste the whole country he went back into the edge of the forest; but the people were so much afraid of him that they lived in dread every day lest he should come again and tear down the gates of the city.
"We must have forgotten somebody when we gave thanks last year," said King OEneus. "Who could it have been?"
And then he thought of Diana.
"Diana, the queen of the chase," said he, "has sent this monster to punish us for forgetting her. I am sure that we shall remember her now as long as we live."
Then he sent messengers into all the countries near Calydon, asking the bravest men and skillfullest hunters to come at a certain time and help him hunt and kill the great wild boar. Very many of these men had been with Meleager in that wonderful voyage in search of the Golden Fleece, and he felt sure they would come.
IV. THE HUNT IN THE FOREST.
When the day came which King OEneus had set, there was a wonderful gathering of men at Calydon. The greatest heroes in the world were there; and every one was fully armed, and expected to have fine sport hunting the terrible wild boar. With the warriors from the south there came a tall maiden armed with bow and arrows and a long hunting spear. It was our friend Atalanta, the huntress.