Hero Tales

Page: 19

"Then he called his servants, and bade them go to the pastures on Mount Ida, and choose from the herds that were there the fattest and handsomest bull, to be given as a prize to the winner in the games. And he proclaimed through all Ilios, that on the third day there would be a great feast in his palace, and games would be held in honor of the little babe who had died twenty years before.

"Now, when the servants came to Mount Ida, they chose a bull for which Paris had long cared, and which he loved more than any other. He protested and would not let the beast be driven from the pasture until it was agreed that he might go to the city with it and contend in the games for the prize. But Oenone, the river nymph, wept and prayed him not to go.

"'Leave not the pleasant pasture lands of Ida, even for a day,' said she; 'for my heart tells me that you will not return.'

"'Think not so, my fair one,' said Paris. 'Did not Aphrodite promise that the most beautiful woman in the world shall be my wife? And who is more beautiful than my own Oenone? Dry now your tears; for when I have won the prizes in the games I will come back to you, and never leave you again.'

"Then the grief of Oenone waxed still greater. 'If you will go,' she cried, 'then hear my warning! Long years shall pass ere you shall come again to wooded Ida, and the hearts which now are young shall grow old and feeble by reason of much sorrow. Cruel war and many dire disasters shall overtake you, and death shall be nigh unto you; and then Oenone, although long forgotten by you, will hasten to your side, to help and to heal and to forgive, that so the old love may live again. Farewell!'

"Then Paris kissed his wife, and hastened, light of heart, to Troy. How could it be otherwise but that, in the games which followed, the handsome young shepherd should carry off all the prizes?

"'Who are you?' asked the king.

"'My name is Paris,' answered the shepherd, 'and I feed the flocks and herds on wooded Ida.'

"Then Hector, full of wrath because of his own failure to win a prize, came forward to dispute with Paris.

"'Stand there, Hector,' cried old Priam; 'stand close to the young shepherd, and let us look at you!' Then turning to the queen, he asked, 'Did you ever see two so nearly alike? The shepherd is fairer and of slighter build, it is true; but they have the same eye, the same frown, the same smile, the same motion of the shoulders, the same walk. Ah, what if the young babe did not die after all?'

"Then Priam's daughter, Cassandra, who had the gift of prophecy, cried out, 'Oh, blind of eye and heart, that you cannot see in this young shepherd the child whom you sent to sleep the sleep of death on Ida's wooded slopes!'