And Perseus went on boldly, past many an ugly sight, till he heard the rustle of the Gorgons’ wings and saw the glitter of their brazen claws. Then he knew that it was time to halt, lest Medusa should freeze him into stone.
He thought awhile with himself and remembered Athene’s words. Then he rose into the air, and held the shield above his head and looked up into it, that he might see all that was below him.
And he saw three Gorgons sleeping, as huge as elephants. He knew that they could not see him, because the hat of darkness hid him, and yet he trembled as he sank down near them, so terrible were those brazen claws.
Medusa tossed to and fro restlessly in her sleep. Her long neck gleamed so white in the mirror that Perseus had not the heart to strike. But as he looked, from among her tresses the vipers’ heads awoke and peeped up, with their bright dry eyes, and showed their fangs and hissed. And Medusa as she tossed showed her brazen claws, and Perseus saw that for all her beauty she was as ugly as the others.
Then he came down and stepped to her boldly, and looked steadfastly on his mirror, and struck with his sword stoutly once, and he did not need to strike again.
He wrapped the head in the goat-skin, turning away his eyes, and sprang into the air aloft, faster than he ever sprang before.
And well his brave sandals bore him through cloud and sunshine across the shoreless sea, till he came again to the gardens of the fair maidens.
Then he asked them, “By what road shall I go homeward again?”
And they wept and cried, “Go home no more, but stay and play with us, the lonely maidens.”
But Perseus refused and leapt down the mountain, and went on like a sea-gull, away and out to sea.
HOW PERSEUS MET ANDROMEDA
So Perseus flitted onward to the north-east, over many a league of sea, till he came to the rolling sandhills of the desert.
Over the sands he went, he never knew how far nor how long, hoping all day to see the blue sparkling Mediterranean, that he might fly across it to his home.
But now came down a mighty wind, and swept him back southward toward the desert. All day long he strove against it, but even the sandals could not prevail. And when morning came there was nothing to be seen, save the same old hateful waste of sand.
At last the gale fell, and he tried to go northward again, but again down came the sandstorms and swept him back into the desert; and then all was calm and cloudless as before.
Then he cried to Athene, “Shall I never see my mother more, and the blue ripple of the sea and the sunny hills of Hellas?”
So he prayed, and after he had prayed there was a great silence.
And Perseus stood still awhile and waited, and said, “Surely I am not here but by the will of the gods, for Athene will not lie. Were not these sandals to lead me in the right road?”