that this youth and the murderer of Van Berchem were
MARBOT AND THE YOUNG COSSACK 109
the sons of a powerful Cossack chief who, having lost a
leg at Austerlitz, could no longer fight except by proxy.
As he looked at the thin and delicate face of the boy
before him, Marbot understood that the cold and hard-
ships of war would speedily carry him to the grave also,
so he desired both to be set at liberty.
This was almost more than the old tutor had dared
to hope, and as he left the tent he bade farewell to their
captor in these words :
' When she thinks of her elder son, the mother of
these tw r o boys will curse you, but when she gazes at the
younger she will bless you, arid your mother too, because
you have spared her only remaining child.'
From Marbot's Memoirs-
HERACLES THE DRAGON -KILLER.
Two little boys lay in one cradle in the city of Thebes.
The world was very new to them, for they had only
opened their eyes on it a few hours before, and most
babies would have been as sleepy and helpless as little
blind kittens. But Heracles and Iphicles were much
wiser as well as much bigger than other babies, and
Alcmena their mother and her maids already felt half
afraid of them, as people often are of what they do not
' Leave me now, I would rest,' said Alcmena, leaning
back on her pillows, and soon she was asleep, with the
children lying in the cradle in a corner of the room. Not a
sound could be heard, when suddenly from under a chest
against the wall two long thin black shapes moved
noiselessly across the floor. When they reached the
cradle they reared themselves up, one on each side, and
darted their flat heads and forky tongues at the
Iphicles shrank back with a cry, but Heracles sat up,
and seizing the snakes in his hands crushed the life out of
them. They were dead before they had time to sting,
but, dead as they were, Iphicles was sorely frightened,
and his shrieks brought back his mother's maidens, who
lifted the horrible things out of the cradle. Great was
the wrath of AJcmena when, waking, she heard what had
befallen her sons, and she spoke many hard words to
the women whose duty it was to watch over them, not
HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLED 111
knowing that the serpents had been sent by a wicked
enchantress, who hated Alcmena because she had such
a brave and strong child as Heracles, while she herself
had none. In the old Greek story, told several
thousand years ago, this wicked enchantress is called
Hera, the wife of their god Zeus, but the real truth is
that she was just a cross old fairy or witch.
This time her wicked plan of sending the two serpents
had failed. They could not frighten the child Heracles,
and he was too strong for them. Then the witch thought
of a magical spell by which she compelled Heracles to
112 HERACLES THE' DRAGON-KILLER
do everything that he was told to do by a little weak
cowardly king named Eurystheus, who reigned over
another city of Greece called Mycenae. It was a small
town, but very strongly built ; the walls and the gate,
made of enormous stone, are still standing, and great
loads of golden ornaments worn by the old kings
have been found in their graves.
There was not a boy in all Greece so big and strong
as Heracles, or one who could wrestle so well and shoot so
straight at a mark. As to other lessons, his tutor was
a wise person called Cheiron, who had the body and legs
of a horse and the head and chest of a man. He and
Heracles were very fond of each other, and when they
were tired of talking, Cheiron would give the boy a ride
on his back, or they would run a race, and the kind old
centaur took care to let Heracles win sometimes.
Heracles was not more than seventeen when the fame
of his strength had spread so far throughout Greece that
kings of the great cities began to send for him to help
them in getting rid of their enemies, whether man or
beast. By this time he was the servant of Eurystheus, and
he seldom had time to help anyone because Eurystheus
sent him to do so many dangerous things, always
hoping that in one adventure or another he would
fail and be killed, to please the enchantress.
One day Eurystheus said to him ' Messengers have
arrived from my people at Nemaea to tell me that a huge
lion has come down from the mountains and nightly
carries off some of their goats, or even their children.
Go, therefore, and destroy him, or it will be ill for
you.' And Heracles, taking his bow and arrows and
a thick club, hastened to obey. No adventure could
have suited him better. It needed both strength and
cunning, for no spear could pierce the lion's hide, nor
any sword- thrust wound him. Therefore Heracles
dared not attack the beast in open fight, but met
him where the trees grew close upon the mountain
HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER 113
side, and he could gain shelter among them. Thus,
dealing a blow with his club in the face of the lion, and
instantly leaping quickly aside behind a rock or a tree
JH RIDE ON THE: CENTAUR'S BACK~[p
trunk, he drove the lion step by step back into a cavern ;
then throwing himself on the great beast before he had
time to spring, strangled him in his arms as he had done
the serpents. When the lion struggled no more Heracles
114 HERACLES THE DRAGON -KILLER
knew he was dead, and took the skin to cover himself, for
it was different from other skins, and he who wore it was
safe from all weapons.
He had the skin made neatly into a kind of short
tunic, the hind legs passing over his shoulders, and the
head hanging down in front over his thighs.
As he returned through the city of Nemaea, dressed
in the lion's skin, the villagers came out to praise him
for their deliverance, but when he again stood before
Eurystheus he found that there was more work for him
' The nine-headed monster which dwells in the
marshes of Lerna southwards on the sea has poisoned
with its breath the fishermen who live by the coast,
till there is no man to sail his boat on the waters. Let
it be your task to destroy that beast, as you did the
lion ; only take heed that it does not destroy you. Out
of the nine heads there is one that cannot die, and as
to the others, for every one that you cut off two more
will spring forth, so that the slaying of the lion is but
child's play to this adventure.'
Thus spoke Eurystheus, and Heracles mounted his
chariot, which was driven by his nephew lolaus, son of
Iphicles. Together they drove many miles south of
Mycenae, taking counsel how best to overcome the nine-
headed monster. Anxiously they gazed over the
marshes of Lerna, but nothing did they see of him, only
traces of vast feet and claws in the soft mud, and
flowers drooping and withered, as if some poisonous
breath had touched them. At last they traced the
marks of the feet down to the sea shore where huge
rocks were tumbled together, as if giants had played
' He is in there,' whispered lolaus, ' but how shall
we get him out ? '
' Let us make a fire, and heat the bronze tips of our
arrows in it till they are red hot,' said Heracles, ' and
HERACLES THE DRAGON -KILLER 115
we will shoot them into his skin till it stings. But,
first, pick up those branches of trees which are lying
about, and kindle them till they burn brightly, and
as fast as I cut off one head lay the flaming boughs
on the place, lest the two heads grow again.' And they
two lit the fire, out of sight of the monster's lair, that
he might not spring on them before they were ready.
At length the arrows were red hot, and the logs
' I will climb up here,' said Heracles, ' and shoot
the arrows through this crevice, and when he is awake
and coming forth, I will stand behind that rock, with
my sword drawn, so that his breath may not poison me
as he rushes by'
But the hydra's skin was tough, and the first arrows
shot by Heracles fell harmless. So he bade lolaus
gather fresh logs and heap them on the fire, while he
himself held his arrows in it till they glowed red hot.
Then he returned to the crevice and rained down the
arrows thick and fast, till the monster rose up with
a roar, and sleepily looked about him, to see whence
fell this terrible hail of blows. At that, Heracles hastily
leaped down and, drawing his sword, signed to lolaus
to hold ready his burning branch.
Yet, though no more arrows fell, those that were
lodged in the creature's hide began to prick him sorely,
and snorting loudly with pain he dashed out of his
lair, crashing through a small tree that grew at the
entrance. Heracles swung his sword and struck, and
the head nearest him rolled on the ground, but lolaus
missed his aim with the branch, and two heads vomiting
fire took the place of the dead one. Again Heracles
struck, and this time lolaus was quicker and, laying
his brand on the spot where the heads had been, stopped
the growth of fresh ones.
And so the fight went on, and never did Heracles
take part in so terrible a combat. Luckily for him, the
116 HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER
hydra was big and clumsy, and his heavy body was
hard to turn, for both Heracles and lolaus were
forced to keep behind him, lest the poisonous breath
LHERACLES - FIGHTS -THE HYDRPr
from the heads should overcome them. Swiftly though
they sprang from one side to the other, their blows
sometimes failed to hit, but at length eight of the heads
were lying on the ground, and there remained only the
HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER 117
ninth, which they knew could not die. Then the battle
raged more fiercely than before, and Heracles was
very weary and had less strength for it. Now lolaus
could not help him, and he must trust to himself, and with
the loss of his eight heads the hydra seemed to have
grown lighter and more nimble. Had it not been for
the skin of the Nemaean lion, which Heracles wore
about him, he could never have gained the day ; but
covering his head with the skin, so that he could escape
the monster's breath, he gave a mighty stroke at the
soft part under the neck, and the head which could
not die went to join its fellows.
' Quick ! into that hole,' panted Heracles, and
lolaus dragged it by the mane, which seemed alive,
and thrust it in.
' The rock,' gasped Heracles once more, for he
trembled with fatigue so that he could hardly speak,
and together they pushed the rock on top of the hole,
and the immortal head was imprisoned for ever.
' I should be lying by it if it had not been for thee,
lolaus,' said Heracles when he had rested for a little ;
' but now yoke the horses to the chariot, I have some-
what to do ' ; and while lolaus did his bidding, he
drew out his arrows from the carcase of the hydra,
and dipped each in his blood, so that henceforward
no wound that these arrows made could ever be healed.
After that he put one of the heads in his wallet, as a
token for Eurystheus.
But the king of Mycenae scowled as he listened to
the tale of Heracles, and instead of the praise the hero
had expected, for he gloried in his strength, Eurystheus
spoke cold words.
' It is nought, Heracles, for the monster would
be alive now had not lolaus helped you. I have another
task for you which this time you must accomplish
alone. Go and capture the boar which has overrun
Arcadia, and bring it alive to me.' And with wrath in
his heart, Heracles set forth.
118 HERACLES THE DRAGON -KILLER
Out from the land of Argolis he went, and across
the plain of Mantinea, till he reached the mountains
of Arcadia, where snow was lying soft and thick ; but
the boar was not there. Hastening to the nearest
village, he asked tidings of him, and was told that a
few days since he had passed that way carrying off
children, as well as goats and sheep, who were straying
in the road. From place to place Heracles followed
the boar, and the tale was always the same, but he
only came up with him in the west of Arcadia, on the
banks of the river Alpheus. How he longed to shoot
some of his poisoned arrows at this ravager of homes,
but Eurystheus had commanded that he was to be
taken alive, and Heracles had no power to disobey.
Then began a weary chase of the beast, when Heracles
tried to steal up to the boar in his sleep, and throw a
noosed rope round his neck ; but it was Heracles who
slept and not the boar, and more than once he only
awoke in time to save himself by flight from the great
tusks that were so near him. Still, in the end, he con-
trived to force the boar back and back, till they reached
the mountains which looked into Argolis.
Here at last the boar showed signs of fatigue. He
was used to resting for many days at a time after his
hunting, and Heracles had allowed him but little rest,
and no food. In the beginning of the chase he had
seemed tireless, but now he and Heracles appeared to
have changed places, and he felt as if he could walk no
more. It was so difficult, too, for the boar to drag his
feet up hill through this soft snow ; before long he
should have to give in. And then, blind with weariness,
he stumbled and fell, and the chance of Heracles had
As Heracles returned to Mycenae with his prisoner,
roped up so that he limped on one fore and one hind
leg, the people ran out of their houses to stare at their
fallen enemy, and to offer their thanks to his captor.
HE'RACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER ll'j
But when the two had passed through the gates of the
city, and stood before the king himself at the entrance
of the palace, Eurystheus fled with a cry of fear.
' Save me ! Save me ! ' he cried, almost dead with
fright at the sight of the hideous creature ; and he ran
dow r n steps leading to cellars under his palace, and hid
himself in a huge pot, where he remained sitting until
Heracles had taken away the boar.
' Never let such monsters come inside the city
again,' said he. ' When next Heracles conquers any-
thing I will behold it from the walls.'
Curious to say, that though Heracles was obliged,
by the magic spells, to do whatsoever Eurystheus com-
manded him, the king hardly dreaded the boar himself
more than he did his servant ; and no sooner had Heracles
overcome one foe than his master looked out for another
who might remove him far from Mycenae. So w r hen he
at length felt sure that he could leave his pot without
the risk of being swallowed up in the jaws of the beast,
or being gored to death by his terrible tusks, he ordered
Heracles to be summoned to his presence.
' In the lake of Stymphalus, which lies in the land
of Arcadia/ said Eurystheus, 'dwell the man-eating
birds, with claws and beaks of brass, who can shoot
the brazen feathers of their wings as if they were
arrows. They live on a high rock with sides as smooth
as glass, so that none can climb it. The king of that
country is my friend, and he has sent messengers to
beg that you w^ould help him, for his bravest warriors
have been carried away in the claws of these monsters.'
Slowly Heracles departed from the presence of
Eurystheus and took his way towards Arcadia. But
as he went he pondered in his mind how best he should
overcome the man-eating birds whose armour of brass
no spear could break. One plan after another he thought
of, but all seemed hopeless. Only one thing was clear ;
120 HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER
he must not let the birds catch sight of him, or he, too,
would fall a victim.
* What could he do ? ' It seemed quite hopeless.
Then all at once he knew. ' If I can't kill them, at any
rate I can frighten them from the country,' he mur-
mured to himself; and he turned aside. to a village in
the hills, and stopped at a small house.
' I want you to fashion me a brazen rattle which
shall make so great and terrible a noise that they who
hear it shall be deaf to the day of their death,' he said
to the man w r ho opened the door to him.
; That can I do with ease,' was the answer ; ' wait
for a few hours, and you shalt carry it away with
All that day Heracles sat in the sun, his club by
his side, and his lion's skin on the ground before him,
till in the evening the man came out, bearing with him
the brazen rattle.
' If you would only have a little noise,' he ex-
plained, ' pull out this pin ; if a great one, pull out
this ; if one to sound to the ends of the world, then pull
out all the pins together. And now, farewell.'
Heracles mounted his chariot well pleased, and his
horses flew swift as the wind, till at noon next day he
reached Stymphalus. There he jumped down and
w r alked cautiously round the lake, keeping in the
shadow of the tall reeds which grew along the edge.
At length he saw the rock of which Eurystheus had
told him, and the sun's rays caught something bright
and glistening on the top.
Those are the birds,' he thought, ' and they are
moving. Perhaps they are getting ready to seek their
prey. If they hunt in the village they will fly past here ;
I will hide myself in this clump of bulrushes, and it
may be that I can knock one or two of the hindermost
with my club.'
Thinking thus, he stepped in the water where the
HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER 121
reeds stood thickest, choosing a place from which he
could catch sight of the rock of the birds. Next he
took some wax from his wallet, and put a piece in each
ear, and then, pulling out ail the pins in the brazen
rattle, he whirled it round, his eyes fixed on the rock.
HERACLES FIGHTS THE STYMPHAL1ANJ BIRDS
With a screech nearly as loud as the noise of the rattle,
if Heracles had only been able to hear it, they sprang
up, turning round and round, not knowing what it
was or w r here that dreadful sound came from. Back-
wards and forwards they flew, hoping to escape from
122 HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER
it, yet still the shrieking, roaring noise followed them.
At last, in despair, they darted low across the lake
towards the rushes where Heracles lay hidden, the
rattle in his left hand, the club in his right.
On they came, flying low, and Heracles let all pass
but two. Then he swung his club, and quick as lightning
he struck first one and then the other, till they fell into
the water and were drowned, the noise of the rattle
stifling their cries. The rest, not knowing, flew on
and on and on, and never stopped till they reached a
desert island in the Black Sea, where they could hear
the rattle no more.
To tell the tale of all the deeds of Heracles would
fill a book, for always as fast as he had accomplished
one, Eurystheus sent him forth to do another. Now
it was to get the girdle of the queen of the Amazons,
a race of warlike women, for the princess his daughter ;
now it was to bring a mad bull from the far-off isle of Crete
to Mycenae ; now it was to clean in a single day the
farmyard of Augeas, king of Elis, where he kept three
thousand cattle. If he succeeded, Heracles was to have
three hundred of the finest sheep and oxen for himself.
But when he turned the river Alpheus right across the
yard, leaving the stones as white and shining as those
at the bottom of the sea, the king refused to fulfil his
promise, saying that Heracles was only the servant
of Eurystheus, and therefore could claim no reward.
Far better would it have been for Augeas if he had
kept his word, for in wrath Heracles slew him and his
sons also. These and many more things he did, and at
last the spell cast over him by the goddess was ended,
and he was free.
It was then that he performed a deed very different
from any of the tasks which Eurystheus had set him,
or indeed from any which he had wrought for himself.
HERACLES THE DRAGON -KILLER 125
In Thessaly lived Admetus, son of the King of
Pherse, a young man taller and stronger than any of
his fellows, who had sailed on board the Argo in search
of the Golden Fleece, and had joined in the chase of
the Calydonian boar. Of all the maidens of Greece,
none seemed so fair to Admetus as Alcestis, daughter
of Pelias, but her father turned away from his en-
treaties, declaring that none should be her husband
save the man who should yoke a team of lions and
bears to his chariot. So Admetus went away with a
sad heart, for he knew not how to accomplish the
bidding of Pelias.
With downcast eyes he wandered over the plain,
where he met with Apollo, the beautiful sun-god who
loved him, and with whom he had tended his sheep in
the flowery fields. And Apollo smiled when he heard
the tale of woe of Admetus, and bade him be of good
cheer, for he would catch the lions and bears and yoke
them to the chariot. This he c|id during the night,
and when Pelias rose from his bed he beheld them
yoked to the chariot in front of his house, and Admetus
standing by them.
Then, for very shame, he was forced to give Alcestis,
his daughter, to Admetus, and they went away and
lived happily together till Admetus fell ill of a mortal
Now it happened that when Admetus lay in his
cradle by the side of his mother, the spinning women
entered the room and looked at him, as they had looked
at the baby Meleager, and Apollo the sun-god came
with them. At his prayer they bestowed on Admetus
the gift of immortality he should never die if he could
find someone else to die instead of him. Alcestis, his
wife, knew this, so when she beheld him white and still on
his bed before her she feared nothing, 'for,' she thought,
' his father and mother are very old ; one is blind and
the other cannot hear, and nought in this world gives
126 HERACLES THE DRAGON-KILLER
them pleasure. Surely they will not refuse to go across
the dark river into Hades, and leave him to me, who
loves him so much ? ' But the old people said ' No ;
truly they could not enjoy the sun and all beautiful
things as once they did, but still life was worth some-
thing after all ; and if the gods willed that Admetus
their son should die well, die he must.'
Thus they spake ; and Alcestis returned to her
husband, and stood watching him while he slept.
' It is not true, my beloved ; you shall not die,
for I, thy wife, will go down into Hades instead of thee.
And the darkness of that underworld shall be bright
to me, remembering that you are in the sun.' So,
leaving him sleeping, she passed beyond the door, and
took her way to the underworld.
Soon all Greece had heard the story of Alcestis and
how, for love of her husband, she had entered the boat
of Charon the ferryman, and had crossed the river
Styx and dwelt among the shadows in the kingdom
of Hades ; and Heracles heard with the rest.
' I will fetch her back,' cried he, ' for the gods will
not suffer this thing to be, and they will show me the
path, and bid Charon bring us again into the light of
day.' And the gods listened, and sent Hermes to be
his guide, and together they crossed the river and
entered the fields of asphodel, where Alcestis was
' Come,' said Heracles, holding out his hand ; and
she came, and was led back by Heracles to the side of
HERACLES -BRlNGS-flLCESTIS - BflCK- FROM- HflDES
WHO was Old Jeffery ? What was Old Jeffery ?
Nobody has ever known, nobody can explain how he,
or it, first frightened, and then amused and then
wearied, the large, lively, and well-educated family of
a country clergyman. They did not live in a haunted
house. Old Jeffery was not the ghost of anyone who
had died in the house, for it was quite a new house,
recently built after a fire.
Nobody ever saw Old Jeffery ; unlike good children,
he was ' heard and not seen.'
THE WESLEY CHILDREN
First I must tell you who were the young people
and children that Old Jeffery played with, and some-
thing about their father and mother ; all of them were
very clever and remarkable people, well known in
their time, two of them becoming famous, but they were
not in the house when Old Jeffery played his pranks.
While queen Anne was still alive, and afterwards
when her cousin, George I., had newly come to the throne,
a large family of children were growing up in the rectory
of Epworth in Lincolnshire. Their father, Samuel Wesley,
was a man who had always depended on himself and
never troubled his friends to give him money or to find
him places. With 21, 16s. in his pocket he walked to
Oxford, and studied in Exeter College, earning money
130 OLD JEFFERY
by giving lessons to those richer and more ignorant
than himself, till he was old enough to be ordained.
Soon after he married Miss Susannah Annesley, who
was no more afraid of poverty than himself.
In all they had nineteen children, but many of them
died when they were babies, and only ten were living
at the time when the strange things happened that you