Just over the ridge of the next mountain he met an old man who warned him not to go any farther. He said that close by a grove of pine trees, which he would soon pass on his way down the slope, there dwelt a robber named Sinis, who was very cruel to strangers.
“He is called Pine-bender,” said the old man; “for when he has caught a traveler, he bends two tall, lithe pine trees to the ground and binds his captive to them—a hand and a foot to the top of one, and a hand and a foot to the top of the other. Then he lets the trees fly up, and he roars with laughter when he sees the traveler’s body torn in sunder.”
“It seems to me,” said Theseus, “that it is full time to rid the world of such a monster;” and he thanked the kind man who had warned him, and hastened onward, whistling merrily as he went down towards the grove of pines.
Soon he came in sight of the robber’s house, built near the foot of a jutting cliff. Behind it was a rocky gorge and a roaring mountain stream; and in front of it was a garden wherein grew all kinds of rare plants and beautiful flowers. But the tops of the pine trees below it were laden with the bones of unlucky travelers, which hung bleaching white in the sun and wind.
On a stone by the roadside sat Sinis himself; and when he saw Theseus coming, he ran to meet him, twirling a long rope in his hands and crying out:
“Welcome, welcome, dear prince! Welcome to our inn—the true Traveler’s Rest!”
“What kind of entertainment have you?” asked Theseus. “Have you a pine tree bent down to the ground and ready for me?”
“Ay; two of them!” said the robber. “I knew that you were coming, and I bent two of them for you.”
As he spoke he threw his rope towards Theseus and tried to entangle him in its coils. But the young man leaped aside, and when the robber rushed upon him, he dodged beneath his hands and seized his legs, as he had seized Club-carrier’s, and threw him heavily to the ground. Then the two wrestled together among the trees, but not long, for Sinis was no match for his lithe young foe; and Theseus knelt upon the robber’s back as he lay prone among the leaves, and tied him with his own cord to the two pine trees which were already bent down. “As you would have done unto me, so will I do unto you,” he said.
Then Pine-bender wept and prayed and made many a fair promise; but Theseus would not hear him. He turned away, the trees sprang up, and the robber’s body was left dangling from their branches.
Now this old Pine-bender had a daughter named Perigune, who was no more like him than a fair and tender violet is like the gnarled old oak at whose feet it nestles; and it was she who cared for the flowers and the rare plants which grew in the garden by the robber’s house. When she saw how Theseus had dealt with her father, she was afraid and ran to hide herself from him.
“Oh, save me, dear plants!” she cried, for she often talked to the flowers as though they could understand her. “Dear plants, save me; and I will never pluck your leaves nor harm you in any way so long as I live.”