But there was no answer nor sign, not even a cloud in the sky.
Three times Perseus called, weeping, “Rashly and angrily I promised, but wisely and patiently will I perform.”
Then he saw afar off a small white cloud, as bright as silver. And as it touched the cliffs, it broke and parted, and within it appeared Athene, and beside her a young man, whose eyes were like sparks of fire.
And they came swiftly towards Perseus, and he fell down and worshiped, for he knew they were more than mortal.
But Athene spoke gently to him and bade him have no fear. “Perseus,” she said, “you have braved Polydectes, and done manfully. Dare you brave Medusa the Gorgon?”
Perseus answered, “Try me, for since you spoke to me, new courage has come into my soul.”
And Athene said, “Perseus, this deed requires a seven years’ journey, in which you cannot turn back nor escape. If your heart fails, you must die, and no man will ever find your bones.”
And Perseus said, “Tell me, O fair and wise Athene, how I can do but this one thing, and then, if need be, die.”
Then Athene smiled and said, “Be patient and listen. You must go northward till you find the Three Gray Sisters, who have but one eye and one tooth amongst them. Ask them the way to the daughters of the Evening Star, for they will tell you the way to the Gorgon, that you may slay her. But beware! for her eyes are so terrible that whosoever looks on them is turned to stone.”
“How am I to escape her eyes?” said Perseus; “will she not freeze me too?”
“You shall take this polished shield,” said Athene, “and look, not at her herself, but at her image in the shield, so you may strike her safely. And when you have struck off her head, wrap it, with your face turned away, in the folds of the goat-skin on which the shield hangs. So you bring it safely back to me and win yourself renown and a place among heroes.”
Then said Perseus, “I will go, though I die in going. But how shall I cross the seas without a ship? And who will show me the way? And how shall I slay her, if her scales be iron and brass?”
But the young man who was with Athene spoke, “These sandals of mine will bear you across the seas, and over hill and dale like a bird, as they bear me all day long. The sandals themselves will guide you on the road, for they are divine and cannot stray, and this sword itself will kill her, for it is divine and needs no second stroke. Arise and gird them on, and go forth.”
So Perseus arose, and girded on the sandals and the sword.
And Athene cried, “Now leap from the cliff and be gone!”
Then Perseus looked down the cliff and shuddered, but he was ashamed to show his dread, and he leaped into the empty air.
And behold! instead of falling, he floated, and stood, and ran along the sky.