The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 7

Then the fisherman took Danae by the hand, and lifted her out of the chest, and said—

‘O beautiful damsel, what strange chance has brought you to this island in so flail a ship? Who are you, and whence? Surely you are some king’s daughter; and this boy has somewhat more than mortal.’

And as he spoke he pointed to the babe; for its face shone like the morning star.

But Danae only held down her head, and sobbed out—

‘Tell me to what land I have come, unhappy that I am; and among what men I have fallen!’

And he said, ‘This isle is called Seriphos, and I am a Hellen, and dwell in it. I am the brother of Polydectes the king; and men call me Dictys the netter, because I catch the fish of the shore.’

Then Danae fell down at his feet, and embraced his knees, and cried—

‘Oh, sir, have pity upon a stranger, whom a cruel doom has driven to your land; and let me live in your house as a servant; but treat me honourably, for I was once a king’s daughter, and this my boy (as you have truly said) is of no common race. I will not be a charge to you, or eat the bread of idleness; for I am more skilful in weaving and embroidery than all the maidens of my land.’

And she was going on; but Dictys stopped her, and raised her up, and said—

‘My daughter, I am old, and my hairs are growing gray; while I have no children to make my home cheerful. Come with me then, and you shall be a daughter to me and to my wife, and this babe shall be our grandchild. For I fear the Gods, and show hospitality to all strangers; knowing that good deeds, like evil ones, always return to those who do them.’

So Danae was comforted, and went home with Dictys the good fisherman, and was a daughter to him and to his wife, till fifteen years were past.


Fifteen years were past and gone, and the babe was now grown to be a tall lad and a sailor, and went many voyages after merchandise to the islands round. His mother called him Perseus; but all the people in Seriphos said that he was not the son of mortal man, and called him the son of Zeus, the king of the Immortals. For though he was but fifteen, he was taller by a head than any man in the island; and he was the most skilful of all in running and wrestling and boxing, and in throwing the quoit and the javelin, and in rowing with the oar, and in playing on the harp, and in all which befits a man. And he was brave and truthful, gentle and courteous, for good old Dictys had trained him well; and well it was for Perseus that he had done so. For now Danae and her son fell into great danger, and Perseus had need of all his wit to defend his mother and himself.