Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 686 pages of information about Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12).

When Perseus saw the King, he flew upon him and cried, “Tyrant! is this thy mercy to strangers and widows?  Thou shalt die.”  And because he had no sword he caught up the stone hand-mill, and lifted it to dash out Polydectes’s brains.

But his mother clung to him, shrieking, and good Dictys too entreated him to remember that the cruel King was his brother.

Then Perseus lowered his hand, and Polydectes, who had been trembling all this while like a coward, let Perseus and his mother pass.

So Perseus took his mother to the temple of Athene, and there the priestess made her one of the temple sweepers.  And there they knew that she would be safe, for not even Polydectes would dare to drag her out of the temple.  And there Perseus and the good Dictys and his wife came to visit her every day.

As for Polydectes, not being able to get Danae by force, he cast about how he might get her by cunning.  He was sure he could never get back Danae as long as Perseus was in the island, so he made a plot to get rid of him.  First he pretended to have forgiven Perseus, and to have forgotten Danae, so that for a while all went smoothly.  Next he proclaimed a great feast and invited to it all the chiefs and the young men of the island, and among them Perseus, that they might all do him homage as their King, and eat of his banquet in his hall.

On the appointed day they all came, and as the custom was then, each guest brought with him a present for the King.  One brought a horse, another a shawl, or a ring, or a sword, and some brought baskets of grapes, but Perseus brought nothing, for he had nothing to bring, being only a poor sailor lad.

He was ashamed, however, to go into the King’s presence without a gift.  So he stood at the door, sorrowfully watching the rich men go in, and his face grew very red as they pointed at him and smiled and whispered, “And what has Perseus to give?”

Perseus blushed and stammered, while all the proud men round laughed and mocked, till the lad grew mad with shame, and hardly knowing what he said, cried out: 

“A present!  See if I do not bring a nobler one than all of yours together!”

“Hear the boaster!  What is the present to be?” cried they all, laughing louder than ever.

Then Perseus remembered his strange dream, and he cried aloud, “The head of Medusa the Gorgon!”

He was half afraid after he had said the words, for all laughed louder than ever, and Polydectes loudest of all, while he said: 

“You have promised to bring me the Gorgon’s head.  Then never appear again in this island without it.  Go!”

Perseus saw that he had fallen into a trap, but he went out without a word.

Down to the cliffs he went, and looked across the broad blue sea, and wondered if his dream were true.

“Athene, was my dream true?  Shall I slay the Gorgon?” he prayed.  “Rashly and angrily I promised, but wisely and patiently will I perform.”

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Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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