The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 77

Then they hammered together till the greenwoods rang; but the metal was tougher than the pine, and Sinis’ club broke right across, as the bronze came down upon it. Then Theseus heaved up another mighty stroke, and smote Sinis down upon his face; and knelt upon his back, and bound him with his own cord, and said, ‘As thou hast done to others, so shall it be done to thee.’ Then he bent down two young fir-trees, and bound Sinis between them for all his struggling and his prayers; and let them go, and ended Sinis, and went on, leaving him to the hawks and crows.

Then he went over the hills toward Megara, keeping close along the Saronic Sea, till he came to the cliffs of Sciron, and the narrow path between the mountain and the sea.

And there he saw Sciron sitting by a fountain, at the edge of the cliff. On his knees was a mighty club; and he had barred the path with stones, so that every one must stop who came up.

Then Theseus shouted to him, and said, ‘Holla, thou tortoise-feeder, do thy feet need washing to-day?’

And Sciron leapt to his feet, and answered—‘My tortoise is empty and hungry, and my feet need washing to-day.’ And he stood before his barrier, and lifted up his club in both hands.

Then Theseus rushed upon him; and sore was the battle upon the cliff, for when Sciron felt the weight of the bronze club, he dropt his own, and closed with Theseus, and tried to hurl him by main force over the cliff. But Theseus was a wary wrestler, and dropt his own club, and caught him by the throat and by the knee, and forced him back against the wall of stones, and crushed him up against them, till his breath was almost gone. And Sciron cried panting, ‘Loose me, and I will let thee pass.’ But Theseus answered, ‘I must not pass till I have made the rough way smooth;’ and he forced him back against the wall till it fell, and Sciron rolled head over heels.

Then Theseus lifted him up all bruised, and said, ‘Come hither and wash my feet.’ And he drew his sword, and sat down by the well, and said, ‘Wash my feet, or I cut you piecemeal.’

And Sciron washed his feet trembling; and when it was done, Theseus rose, and cried, ‘As thou hast done to others, so shall it be done to thee. Go feed thy tortoise thyself;’ and he kicked him over the cliff into the sea.

And whether the tortoise ate him, I know not; for some say that earth and sea both disdained to take his body, so foul it was with sin. So the sea cast it out upon the shore, and the shore cast it back into the sea, and at last the waves hurled it high into the air in anger; and it hung there long without a grave, till it was changed into a desolate rock, which stands there in the surge until this day.