In the evening, before dark, the bear came again and carried the child to her own den under the shelter of a rock where vines and wild flowers grew; and every day after that she came and gave the child food and played with it. And all the bears on the mountain learned about the wonderful cub that had been found, and came to see it; but not one of them offered to harm it. And the little girl grew fast and became strong, and after a while could walk and run among the trees and rocks and brambles on the round top of the mountain; but her bear mother would not allow her to wander far from the den beneath the rock where the vines and the wild flowers grew.
One day some hunters came up the mountain to look for game, and one of them pulled aside the vines which grew in front of the old bear’s home. He was surprised to see the beautiful child lying on the grass and playing with the flowers which she had gathered. But at sight of him she leaped to her feet and bounded away like a frightened deer. She led the hunters a fine chase among the trees and rocks; but there were a dozen of them, and it was not long till they caught her.
The hunters had never taken such game as that before, and they were so well satisfied that they did not care to hunt any more that day. The child struggled and fought as hard as she knew how, but it was of no use. The hunters carried her down the mountain, and took her to the house where they lived on the other side of the forest. At first she cried all the time, for she sadly missed the bear that had been a mother to her so long. But the hunters made a great pet of her, and gave her many pretty things to play with, and were very kind; and it was not long till she began to like her new home.
The hunters named her Atalanta, and when she grew older, they made her a bow and arrows, and taught her how to shoot; and they gave her a light spear, and showed her how to carry it and how to hurl it at the game or at an enemy. Then they took her with them when they went hunting, and there was nothing in the world that pleased her so much as roaming through the woods and running after the deer and other wild animals. Her feet became very swift, so that she could run faster than any of the men; and her arms were so strong and her eyes so sharp and true that with her arrow or her spear she never missed the mark. And she grew up to be very tall and graceful, and was known throughout all Arcadia as the fleet-footed huntress.
II. THE BRAND ON THE HEARTH.
Now, not very far from the land of Arcadia there was a little city named Calydon. It lay in the midst of rich wheat fields and fruitful vineyards; but beyond the vineyards there was a deep dense forest where many wild beasts lived. The king of Calydon was named OEneus, and he dwelt in a white palace with his wife Althea and his boys and girls. His kingdom was so small that it was not much trouble to govern it, and so he spent the most of his time in hunting or in plowing or in looking after his grape vines. He was said to be a very brave man, and he was the friend of all the great heroes of that heroic time.