The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children
Page: 28Then he took the quoits, and hurled them, five fathoms beyond all the rest; and the people shouted, ‘Further yet, brave stranger! There has never been such a hurler in this land.’
Then Perseus put out all his strength, and hurled. But a gust of wind came from the sea, and carried the quoit aside, and far beyond all the rest; and it fell on the foot of Acrisius, and he swooned away with the pain.
Perseus shrieked, and ran up to him; but when they lifted the old man up he was dead, for his life was slow and feeble.
Then Perseus rent his clothes, and cast dust upon his head, and wept a long while for his grandfather. At last he rose, and called to all the people aloud, and said—
Then he told them how the prophecy had declared that he should kill his grandfather, and all the story of his life.
And when they died, the ancients say, Athené took them up into the sky, with Cepheus and Cassiopoeia. And there on starlight nights you may see them shining still; Cepheus with his kingly crown, and Cassiopoeia in her ivory chair, plaiting her star-spangled tresses, and Perseus with the Gorgon’s head, and fair Andromeda beside him, spreading her long white arms across the heaven, as she stood when chained to the stone for the monster.
All night long, they shine, for a beacon to wandering sailors; but all day they feast with the Gods, on the still blue peaks of Olympus.
p. 60STORY II.—THE ARGONAUTS
I have told you of a hero who fought with wild beasts and with wild men; but now I have a tale of heroes who sailed away into a distant land, to win themselves renown for ever, in the adventure of the Golden Fleece.
Whither they sailed, my children, I cannot clearly tell. It all happened long ago; so long that it has all grown dim, like a dream which you dreamt last year. And why they went I cannot tell: some say that it was to win gold. It may be so; but the noblest deeds which have been done on earth have not been done for gold. It was not for the sake of gold that the Lord came down and died, and the Apostles went out to preach the good news in all lands. The Spartans looked for no reward in money when they fought and died at Thermopylæ; and Socrates the wise asked no pay from his countrymen, but lived poor and barefoot all his days, only caring to make men good. And there are heroes in our days also, who do noble deeds, but not for gold. Our discoverers did not go to make themselves rich when they sailed out one after another into the dreary frozen seas; nor did the ladies who went out last year to drudge in the hospitals of the East, making themselves poor, that they might be rich in noble works. And young men, too, whom you know, children, and some of them of your own kin, did they say to themselves, ‘How much money shall I earn?’ when they went out to the war, leaving wealth, and comfort, and a pleasant home, and all that money can give, to face hunger and thirst, and wounds and death, that they might fight for their country and their Queen? No, children, there is a better thing on earth than wealth, a better thing than life itself; and that is, to have done something before you die, for which good men may honour you, and God your Father smile upon your work.