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The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 73

Then his heart grew great within him, and he said, ‘If I were king of such a land I would rule it wisely and well in wisdom and in might, that when I died all men might weep over my tomb, and cry, “Alas for the shepherd of his people!”’

And Aithra smiled, and said, ‘Take, then, the sword and the sandals, and go to Ægeus, king of Athens, who lives on Pallas’ hill; and say to him, “The stone is lifted, but whose is the pledge beneath it?” Then show him the sword and the sandals, and take what the Gods shall send.’

But Theseus wept, ‘Shall I leave you, O my mother?’

But she answered, ‘Weep not for me. That which is fated must be; and grief is easy to those who do nought but grieve. Full of sorrow was my youth, and full of sorrow my womanhood. Full of sorrow was my youth for Bellerophon, the slayer of the Chimæra, whom my father drove away by treason; and full of sorrow my womanhood, for thy treacherous father and for thee; and full of sorrow my old age will be (for I see my fate in dreams), when the sons of the Swan shall carry me captive to the hollow vale of Eurotas, till I sail across the seas a slave, the handmaid of the pest of Greece. Yet shall I be avenged, when the golden-haired heroes sail against Troy, and sack the palaces of Ilium; then my son shall set me free from thraldom, and I shall hear the tale of Theseus’ fame. Yet beyond that I see new sorrows; but I can bear them as I have borne the past.’

Then she kissed Theseus, and wept over him; and went into the temple, and Theseus saw her no more.

p. 172PART II
HOW THESEUS SLEW THE DEVOURERS OF MEN

So Theseus stood there alone, with his mind full of many hopes. And first he thought of going down to the harbour and hiring a swift ship, and sailing across the bay to Athens; but even that seemed too slow for him, and he longed for wings to fly across the sea, and find his father. But after a while his heart began to fail him; and he sighed, and said within himself—

‘What if my father have other sons about him whom he loves? What if he will not receive me? And what have I done that he should receive me? He has forgotten me ever since I was born: why should he welcome me now?’

Then he thought a long while sadly; and at the last he cried aloud, ‘Yes! I will make him love me; for I will prove myself worthy of his love. I will win honour and renown, and do such deeds that Ægeus shall be proud of me, though he had fifty other sons! Did not Heracles win himself honour, though he was opprest, and the slave of Eurystheus? Did he not kill all robbers and evil beasts, and drain great lakes and marshes, breaking the hills through with his club? Therefore it was that all men honoured him, because he rid them of their miseries, and made life pleasant to them and their children after them. Where can I go, to do as Heracles has done? Where can I find strange adventures, robbers, and monsters, and the children of hell, the enemies of men? I will go by land, and into the mountains, and round by the way of the Isthmus. Perhaps there I may hear of brave adventures, and do something which shall win my father’s love.’


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