A Book of Myths

Page: 58

“No others know where they dwell,” he said. “Tell me, I pray thee, the way that I may find them.”

But the Grey Women were kin to the Gorgons, and hated all the children of men, and ugly was their evil mirth as they mocked at Perseus and refused to tell him where Medusa might be found.

But Perseus grew wily in his desire not to fail, and as the eye passed from one withered, clutching hand to another, he held out his own strong young palm, and in her blindness one of the three placed the eye within it.

Then the Grey Women gave a piteous cry, fierce and angry as the cry of old grey wolves that have been robbed of their prey, and gnashed upon him with their toothless jaws.

And Perseus said: “Wicked ye are and cruel at heart, and blind shall ye remain forever unless ye tell me where I may find the Gorgons. But tell me that, and I give back the eye.”

Then they whimpered and begged of him, and when they found that all their beseeching was in vain, at length they told him.

“Go south,” they said, “so far south that at length thou comest to the uttermost limits of the sea, to the place where the day and night meet. There is the Garden of the Hesperides, and of them must thou ask [Pg 114] the way.” And “Give us back our eye!” they wailed again most piteously, and Perseus gave back the eye into a greedy trembling old hand, and flew south like a swallow that is glad to leave the gloomy frozen lands behind.

To the garden of the Hesperides he came at last, and amongst the myrtles and roses and sunny fountains he came on the nymphs who there guard the golden fruit, and begged them to tell him whither he must wing his way in order to find the Gorgons. But the nymphs could not tell.

“We must ask Atlas,” they said, “the giant who sits high up on the mountain and with his strong shoulders keeps the heavens and earth apart.”

And with the nymphs Perseus went up the mountain and asked the patient giant to guide him to the place of his quest.

“Far away I can see them,” said Atlas, “on an island in the great ocean. But unless thou wert to wear the helmet of Pluto himself, thy going must be in vain.”