The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,207 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

Cephalus, though he had lost his dog, still continued to take delight in the chase.  He would go out at early morning, ranging the woods and hills unaccompanied by any one, needing no help, for his javelin was a sure weapon in all cases.  Fatigued with hunting, when the sun got high he would seek a shady nook where a cool stream flowed, and, stretched on the grass, with his garments thrown aside, would enjoy the breeze.  Sometimes he would say aloud, “Come, sweet breeze, come and fan my breast, come and allay the heat that burns me.”  Some one passing by one day heard him talking in this way to the air, and, foolishly believing that he was talking to some maiden, went and told the secret to Procris, Cephalus’s wife.  Love is credulous.  Procris, at the sudden shock, fainted away.  Presently recovering, she said, “It cannot be true; I will not believe it unless I myself am a witness to it.”  So she waited, with anxious heart, till the next morning, when Cephalus went to hunt as usual.  Then she stole out after him, and concealed herself in the place where the informer directed her.  Cephalus came as he was wont when tired with sport, and stretched himself on the green bank, saying, “Come, sweet breeze, come and fan me; you know how I love you! you make the groves and my solitary rambles delightful.”  He was running on in this way when he heard, or thought he heard, a sound as of a sob in the bushes.  Supposing it some wild animal, he threw his javelin at the spot.  A cry from his beloved Procris told him that the weapon had too surely met its mark.  He rushed to the place, and found her bleeding, and with sinking strength endeavoring to draw forth from the wound the javelin, her own gift.  Cephalus raised her from the earth, strove to stanch the blood, and called her to revive and not to leave him miserable, to reproach himself with her death.  She opened her feeble eyes, and forced herself to utter these few words:  “I implore you, if you have ever loved me, if I have ever deserved kindness at your hands, my husband, grant me this last request; do not marry that odious Breeze!” This disclosed the whole mystery:  but alas! what advantage to disclose it now!  She died; but her face wore a calm expression, and she looked pityingly and forgivingly on her husband when he made her understand the truth.

Moore, in his “Legendary Ballads,” has one on Cephalus and Procris, beginning thus: 

    “A hunter once in a grove reclined,
       To shun the noon’s bright eye,
     And oft he wooed the wandering wind
       To cool his brow with its sigh
     While mute lay even the wild bee’s hum,
       Nor breath could stir the aspen’s hair,
     His song was still, ‘Sweet Air, O come!’
       While Echo answered, ‘Come, sweet Air!’”


Juno and her rivals, Io and Callisto—­Diana and Actaeon—­Latona and the rustics

Project Gutenberg
The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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