Classic Myths

Page: 39

Here again was something no man had ever seen. But Daedalus, instead of being proud of his nephew, was angrier than before.

"You will be claiming that you are greater than Daedalus, who first sailed through the air, ungrateful boy," said his uncle.

"I have only tried to help you," answered Perdix.

Not long after this, when the two were in a tall building, Daedalus gave Perdix a push that sent him headlong toward the ground. The goddess Minerva, who loves learning, saw him falling and changed him into a partridge before he touched the earth. Unlike Daedalus, he has always kept his wings.

Perdix, the partridge, builds his nest low on the ground and stays in low branches. Perhaps he is afraid he may not be saved from another fall if he goes again into high places.

JUNO AND HER PEACOCK. From an ancient fresco

"You know the peacock was once an animal that hasn't a very sweet voice," said Jack.

"No, I don't know, but Charlie Green's pet donkey makes a better noise than this bird. There, I am glad he has stopped."

"Shall I tell you a story?" asked Jack.

"Once upon a time a donkey felt that he was much abused just because his coat was rough and his face and shape were so homely; so he begged of Jupiter to make him into something beautiful. In a short time he was changed into a peacock and, looking down upon his fine feathers, began to sing. But, oh, the trouble he was in then! He had forgotten to have his voice changed, too, and it was the same old donkey voice that he had always had."

"That's a funny story, Jack. It seems to me that mother told us that a long time ago."

"Then I know another story of how the eyes came into the peacock's feathers."

"You are a queer boy, Jack. Those eyes were always there."

"Oh, no, they were not, Kate. You watch the young peacock chickens, and I'll prove my story, or part of it, anyway. Don't you remember that at first they are a dull brown, and then, when they are about a year old, they begin to show a little green? They are three years old before the eyes begin to show in the feathers. You are a queer girl to forget that."

"Well, tell your story, and I will see if it is a good one." So Jack began:

"Argus was a watchman. His great eyes were like green balls, but with fifty little eyes in each. Yes, he had a hundred eyes, and never more than two went to sleep at once. He could see even better in the night than in the daytime, so he was a fine watchman.

"Once Argus was told to watch a certain prisoner who could not be shut in a room, but had to be left in a field. Not once was he to lose sight of this prisoner. If he did, every one of his hundred eyes would be taken from him.