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Old Greek Stories

Page: 49

"My daughters are having a game of ball in the garden," said old King OEneus. "Wouldn't you like to put away your arrows and your spear, and go and play with them?"

Atalanta shook her head and lifted her chin as if in disdain.

"Perhaps you would rather stay with the queen, and look at the women spin and weave," said OEneus.

"No," answered Atalanta, "I am going with the warriors to hunt the wild boar in the forest!"

How all the men opened their eyes! They had never heard of such a thing as a girl going out with heroes to hunt wild boars.

"If she goes, then I will not," said one.

"Nor I, either," said another.

"Nor I," said a third. "Why, the whole world would laugh at us, and we should never hear the end of it."

Several threatened to go home at once; and two brothers of Queen Althea, rude, unmannerly fellows, loudly declared that the hunt was for heroes and not for puny girls.

But Atalanta only grasped her spear more firmly and stood up, tall and straight, in the gateway of the palace. Just then a handsome young man came forward. It was Meleager.

"What's this?" he cried. "Who says that Atalanta shall not go to the hunt? You are afraid that she'll be braver than you-that is all. Pretty heroes you are! Let all such cowards go home at once."

But nobody went, and it was settled then and there that the maiden should have her own way. And yet the brothers of Queen Althea kept on muttering and complaining.

For nine days the heroes and huntsmen feasted in the halls of King OEneus, and early on the tenth they set out for the forest. Soon the great beast was found, and he came charging out upon his foes.


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