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Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 568 pages of information about Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12).

And when a full year was past, she led Theseus up again to the temple and bade him lift the stone, but he could not.

Then she sighed again and said the same words again, and went down and came again next year.  But Theseus could not lift the stone then, nor the year after.

He longed to ask his mother the meaning of that stone, and what might be underneath it, but her face was so sad that he had not the heart to ask.

So he said to himself, “The day shall surely come when I will lift that stone.”

And in order to grow strong he spent all his days in wrestling and boxing, and hunting the boar and the bull and the deer among rocks, till upon all the mountains there was no hunter so swift as Theseus, and all the people said, “Surely the gods are with the lad!”

When his eighteenth year was past, Aithra led him up again to the temple and said, “Theseus, lift the stone this day, or never know who you are.”

And Theseus went into the thicket and stood over the stone and tugged at it, and it moved.

Then he said, “If I break my heart in my body it shall come up.”  And he tugged at it once more, and lifted it, and rolled it over with a shout.

When he looked beneath it, on the ground lay a sword of bronze, with a hilt of glittering gold, and beside it a pair of golden sandals.

Theseus caught them up and burst through the bushes and leapt to his mother, holding them high above his head.

But when she saw them she wept long in silence, hiding her fair face in her shawl.  And Theseus stood by her and wept also, he knew not why.

When she was tired of weeping Aithra lifted up her head and laid her finger on her lips, and said, “Hide them in your cloak, Theseus, my son, and come with me where we can look down upon the sea.”

They went outside the sacred wall and looked down over the bright blue sea, and Aithra said, “Do you see the land at our feet?”

And Theseus said, “Yes, this is where I was born and bred.”

And she asked, “Do you see the land beyond?”

And the lad answered, “Yes, that is Attica, where the Athenian people live!”

“That is a fair land and large, Theseus, my son, and it looks towards the sunny south.  There the hills are sweet with thyme, and the meadows with violet, and the nightingales sing all day in the thickets.  There are twelve towns well peopled, the homes of an ancient race.  What would you do, Theseus, if you were king of such a land?”

Theseus stood astonished, as he looked across the broad bright sea and saw the fair Attic shore.  His heart grew great within him, and he said, “If I were king of such a land, I would rule it wisely and well, in wisdom and in might.”

And Aithra smiled and said, “Take, then, the sword and the sandals and go to thy father AEgeus, King of Athens, and say to him, ’The stone is lifted!’ Then show him the sword and the sandals, and take what the gods shall send.”

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