Then suddenly his ears were opened and he heard the sound of running water. And Perseus laughed for joy, and leapt down the cliff and drank of the cool water, and ate of the dates, and slept on the turf, and leapt up and went forward again, but not toward the north this time.
For he said, “Surely Athene hath sent me hither, and will not have me go homeward yet. What if there be another noble deed to be done before I see the sunny hills of Hellas?”
So Perseus flew along the shore above the sea, and at the dawn of a day he looked towards the cliffs. At the water’s edge, under a black rock, he saw a white image stand.
“This,” thought he, “must surely be the statue of some sea-god. I will go near and see.”
And he came near, but when he came it was no statue he found, but a maiden of flesh and blood, for he could see her tresses streaming in the breeze. And as he came closer still, he could see how she shrank and shivered when the waves sprinkled her with cold salt spray.
Her arms were spread above her head and fastened to the rock with chains of brass, and her head drooped either with sleep or weariness or grief. But now and then she looked up and wailed, and called her mother.
Yet she did not see Perseus, for the cap of darkness was on his head.
In his heart pity and indignation, Perseus drew near and looked upon the maid. Her cheeks were darker than his, and her hair was blue-black like a hyacinth.
Perseus thought, “I have never seen so beautiful a maiden, no, not in all our isles. Surely she is a king’s daughter. She is too fair, at least, to have done any wrong. I will speak to her,” and, lifting the magic hat from his head, he flashed into her sight. She shrieked with terror, but Perseus cried, “Do not fear me, fair one. What cruel men have bound you? But first I will set you free.”
And he tore at the fetters, but they were too strong for him, while the maiden cried, “Touch me not. I am a victim for the sea-gods. They will slay you if you dare to set me free.”
“Let them try,” said Perseus, and drawing his sword he cut through the brass as if it had been flax.
“Now,” he said, “you belong to me, and not to these sea-gods, whosoever they may be.”
But she only called the more on her mother. Then he clasped her in his arms, and cried, “Where are these sea-gods, cruel and unjust, who doom fair maids to death? Let them measure their strength against mine. But tell me, maiden, who you are, and what dark fate brought you here.”
And she answered, weeping, “I am the daughter of a King, and my mother is the Queen with the beautiful tresses, and they call me Andromeda. I stand here to atone for my mother’s sin, for she boasted of me once that I was fairer than the Queen of the Fishes. So she in her wrath sent the sea-floods and wasted all the land. And now I must be devoured by a sea-monster to atone for a sin which I never committed.”