So he went up from the sea, across the valley, through the vineyards and the olive groves, and across the river, toward Pelion, the ancient mountain, whose brows are white with snow.
He went up and up into the mountain, over marsh, and crag, and down, till the boy was tired and footsore, and AEson had to bear him in his arms till he came to the mouth of a lonely cave, at the foot of a mighty cliff.
Above the cliff the snow-wreaths hung, dripping and cracking in the sun. But at its foot, around the cave’s mouth, grew all fair flowers and herbs, as if in a garden. There they grew gaily in the sunshine and in the spray of the torrent from above, while from the cave came the sound of music, and a man’s voice singing to the harp.
Then AEson put down the lad, and whispered, “Fear not, but go in, and whomsoever you shall find, lay your hands upon his knees and say, ’In the name of Zeus, the father of gods and men, I am your guest from this day forth.’”
So the lad went in without trembling, for he too was a hero’s son, but when he was within, he stopped in wonder to listen to that magic song.
And there he saw the singer, lying upon bear-skins and fragrant boughs, Cheiron the ancient Centaur, the wisest of all beneath the sky.
Down to the waist he was a man, but below he was a noble horse. His white hair rolled down over his broad shoulders, and his white beard over his broad brown chest. His eyes were wise and mild, and his forehead like a mountain-wall. In his hands he held a harp of gold, and he struck it with a golden key. And as he struck, he sang till his eyes glittered and filled all the cave with light.
As he sang the boy listened wide-eyed, and forgot his errand in the song. At the last old Cheiron was silent, and called the lad with a soft voice.
And the lad ran trembling to him, and would have laid his hands upon his knees.
But Cheiron smiled, and drew the lad to him, and laid his hand upon his golden locks, and said, “Are you afraid of my horse’s hoofs, fair boy, or will you be my pupil from this day?”
“I would gladly have horse’s hoofs like you, if I could sing such songs as yours,” said the lad.
And Cheiron laughed and said, “Sit here till sundown, when your playfellows will come home, and you shall learn like them to be a king, worthy to rule over gallant men.”
Then he turned to AEson, who had followed his son into the cave, and said, “Go back in peace. This boy shall not cross the river again till he has become a glory to you and to your house.”
And AEson wept over his son and went away, but the boy did not weep, so full was his fancy of that strange cave, and the Centaur and his song, and the playfellows whom he was to see.
Then Cheiron put the lyre into his hands, and taught him how to play it, till the sun sank low behind the cliff, and a shout was heard outside.