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loved him than all the gold that could be piled up between the earth
and sky.

He began to wring his hands and to wish that he was the poorest man in
the wide world, if the loss of all his money might bring back the rosy
color to his dear child's face.

While he was in despair he suddenly saw a stranger standing near the
door, the same visitor he had seen yesterday for the first time in his
treasure-room, and who had granted his wish.

"Well, friend Midas," he said, "pray how are you enjoying your new
power?"

Midas shook his head. "I am very miserable," he said.

"Very miserable, are you?" exclaimed the stranger. "And how does that
happen: have I not faithfully kept my promise; have you not everything
that your heart desired?"

"Gold is not everything," answered Midas, "and I have lost all that my
heart really cared for."

"Ah!" said the stranger, "I see you have made some discoveries since
yesterday. Tell me truly, which of these things do you really think
is most worth - a cup of clear cold water and a crust of bread, or
the power of turning everything you touch into gold; your own little
daughter, alive and loving, or that solid statue of a child which
would be valued at thousands of dollars?"

"O my child, my child!" sobbed Midas, wringing his hands. "I would not
have given one of her curls for the power of changing all the world
into gold, and I would give all I possess for a cup of cold water and
a crust of bread."

"You are wiser than you were, King Midas," said the stranger. "Tell
me, do you really wish to get rid of your fatal gift?"

"Yes," said Midas, "it is hateful to me."

"Go then," said the stranger, "and plunge into the river that flows at
the bottom of the garden: take also a pitcher of the same water, and
sprinkle it over anything that you wish to change back again from gold
to its former substance."

King Midas bowed low, and when he lifted his head the stranger was
nowhere to be seen.

You may easily believe that King Midas lost no time in getting a
big pitcher, then he ran towards the river. On reaching the water
he jumped in without even waiting to take off his shoes. "How
delightful!" he said, as he came out with his hair all dripping, "this
is really a most refreshing bath, and surely it must have washed away
the magic gift."

Then he dipped the pitcher into the water, and how glad he was to see
that it became just a common earthen pitcher and not a golden one as
it had been five minutes before! He was conscious, also of a change in
himself: a cold, heavy weight seemed to have gone, and he felt light,
and happy, and human once more. Maybe his heart had been changing into
gold too, though he could not see it, and now it had softened again
and become gentle and kind.

Midas hurried back to the palace with the pitcher of water, and the
first thing he did was to sprinkle it by handfuls all over the golden
figure of his little daughter. You would have laughed to see how the
rosy color came back to her cheeks, and how she began to sneeze and
choke, and how surprised she was to find herself dripping wet and her
father still throwing water over her.

You see she did not know that she had been a little golden statue, for
she could not remember anything from the moment when she ran to kiss
her father.

King Midas then led his daughter into the garden, where he sprinkled
all the rest of the water over the rose-bushes, and the grass, and the
trees; and in a minute they were blooming as freshly as ever, and the
air was laden with the scent of the flowers.

There were two things left, which, as long as he lived, used to remind
King Midas of the stranger's fatal gift. One was that the sands at
the bottom of the river always sparkled like grains of gold: and the
other, that his little daughter's curls were no longer brown. They had
a golden tinge which had not been there before that miserable day when
he had received the fatal gift, and when his kiss had changed them
into gold.




CADMUS

ADAPTED BY C.E. SMITH


Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix, the three sons of King Agenor, were
playing near the seashore in their father's kingdom of Phoenicia, and
their little sister Europa was beside them.

They had wandered to some distance from the King's palace and were now
in a green field, on one side of which lay the sea, sparkling brightly
in the sunshine, and with little waves breaking on the shore.

The three boys were very happy gathering flowers and making wreaths
for their sister Europa. The little girl was almost hidden under the
flowers and leaves, and her rosy face peeped merrily out among them.
She was really the prettiest flower of them all.

While they were busy and happy, a beautiful butterfly came flying
past, and the three boys, crying out that it was a flower with wings,
set off to try to catch it.

Europa did not run after them. She was a little tired with playing all
day long, so she sat still on the green grass and very soon she closed
her eyes.

For a time she listened to the sea, which sounded, she thought, just
like a voice saying, "Hush, hush," and telling her to go to sleep. But
if she slept at all it was only for a minute. Then she heard something
tramping on the grass and, when she looked up, there was a snow-white
bull quite close to her!

Where could he have come from? Europa was very frightened, and she
started up from among the tulips and lilies and cried out, "Cadmus,
brother Cadmus, where are you? Come and drive this bull away." But her
brother was too far off to hear her, and Europa was so frightened that
her voice did not sound very loud; so there she stood with her blue
eyes big with fear, and her pretty red mouth wide open, and her face
as pale as the lilies that were lying on her golden hair.

As the bull did not touch her she began to peep at him, and she saw
that he was a very beautiful animal; she even fancied he looked quite
a kind bull. He had soft, tender, brown eyes, and horns as smooth
and white as ivory: and when he breathed you could feel the scent of
rosebuds and clover blossoms in the air.

The bull ran little races round Europa and allowed her to stroke his
forehead with her small hands, and to hang wreaths of flowers on his
horns. He was just like a pet lamb, and very soon Europa quite forgot
how big and strong he really was and how frightened she had been.
She pulled some grass and he ate it out of her hand and seemed quite
pleased to be friends. He ran up and down the field as lightly as a
bird hopping in a tree; his hoofs scarcely seemed to touch the grass,
and once when he galloped a good long way Europa was afraid she would
not see him again, and she called out, "Come back, you dear bull, I
have got you a pink clover-blossom." Then he came running and bowed
his head before Europa as if he knew she was a King's daughter, and
knelt down at her feet, inviting her to get on his back and have a
ride.

At first Europa was afraid: then she thought there could surely be no
danger in having just one ride on the back of such a gentle animal,
and the more she thought about it, the more she wanted to go.

What a surprise it would be to Cadmus, and Phoenix, and Cilix if they
met her riding across the green field, and what fun it would be if
they could all four ride round and round the field on the back of this
beautiful white bull that was so tame and kind!

"I think I will do it," she said, and she looked round the field.
Cadmus and his brothers were still chasing the butterfly away at the
far end. "If I got on the bull's back I should soon be beside them,"
she thought. So she moved nearer, and the gentle white creature looked
so pleased, and so kind, she could not resist any longer, and with a
light bound she sprang up on his back: and there she sat holding an
ivory horn in each hand to keep her steady.

"Go very gently, good bull," she said, and the animal gave a little
leap in the air and came down as lightly as a feather. Then he began a
race to that part of the field where the brothers were, and where they
had just caught the splendid butterfly. Europa shouted with delight,
and how surprised the brothers were to see their sister mounted on the
back of a white bull!

They stood with their mouths wide open, not sure whether to be
frightened or not. But the bull played round them as gently as a
kitten, and Europa looked down all rosy and laughing, and they were
quite envious. Then when he turned to take another gallop round the
field, Europa waved her hand and called out "Good-by," as if she was
off for a journey, and Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix shouted "Good-by"
all in one breath. They all thought it such good fun.

And then, what do you think happened? The white bull set off as
quickly as before, and ran straight down to the seashore. He scampered
across the sand, then he took a big leap and plunged right in among
the waves. The white spray rose in a shower all over him and Europa,
and the poor child screamed with fright. The brothers ran as fast as
they could to the edge of the water, but it was too late.

The white bull swam very fast and was soon far away in the wide blue
sea, with only his snowy head and tail showing above the water. Poor
Europa was holding on with one hand to the ivory horn and stretching
the other back towards her dear brothers.

And there stood Cadmus and Phoenix and Cilix looking after her and
crying bitterly, until they could no longer see the white head among
the waves that sparkled in the sunshine.

Nothing more could be seen of the white bull, and nothing more of
their beautiful sister.

This was a sad tale for the three boys to carry back to their parents.
King Agenor loved his little girl Europa more than his kingdom or
anything else in the world, and when Cadmus came home crying and told
how a white bull had carried off his sister, the King was very angry
and full of grief.

"You shall never see my face again," he cried, "unless you bring back
my little Europa. Begone, and enter my presence no more till you come
leading her by the hand;" and his eyes flashed fire and he looked so
terribly angry that the poor boys did not even wait for supper, but
stole out of the palace wondering where they should go first.

While they were standing at the gate, the Queen came hurrying after
them. "Dear children," she said, "I will come with you."

"Oh no, mother," the boys answered, "it is a dark night, and there is
no knowing what troubles we may meet with; the blame is ours, and we
had better go alone."

"Alas!" said the poor Queen, weeping, "Europa is lost, and if I should
lose my three sons as well, what would become of me? I must go with my
children."

The boys tried to persuade her to stay at home, but the Queen cried so
bitterly that they had to let her go with them.

Just as they were about to start, their playfellow Theseus came
running to join them. He loved Europa very much, and longed to search
for her too. So the five set off together: the Queen, and Cadmus,
and Phoenix, and Cilix, and Theseus, and the last they heard was King
Agenor's angry voice saying, "Remember this, never may you come up
these steps again, till you bring back my little daughter."

The Queen and her young companions traveled many a weary mile: the
days grew to months, and the months became years, and still they found
no trace of the lost Princess. Their clothes were worn and shabby, and
the peasant people looked curiously at them when they asked, "Have you
seen a snow-white bull with a little Princess on its back, riding as
swiftly as the wind?"

And the farmers would answer, "We have many bulls in our fields, but
none that would allow a little Princess to ride on its back: we have
never seen such a sight."

At last Phoenix grew weary of the search. "I do not believe Europa
will ever be found, and I shall stay here," he said one day when they
came to a pleasant spot. So the others helped him to build a small hut
to live in, then they said good-by and went on without him.

Then Cilix grew tired too. "It is so many years now since Europa was
carried away that she would not know me if I found her. I shall wait
here," he said. So Cadmus and Theseus built a hut for him too, and
then said good-by.

After many long months Theseus broke his ankle, and he too had to
be left behind, and once more the Queen and Cadmus wandered on to
continue the search.

The poor Queen was worn and sad, and she leaned very heavily on her
son's arm. "Cadmus," she said one day, "I must stay and rest."

"Why, yes, mother, of course you shall, a long, long rest you must
have, and I will sit beside you and watch."

But the Queen knew she could go no further. "Cadmus," she said, "you
must leave me here, and, go to the wise woman at Delphi and ask her
what you must do next. Promise me you will go!"

And Cadmus promised. The tired Queen lay down to rest, and in the
morning Cadmus found that she was dead, and he must journey on alone.

He wandered for many days till he came in sight of a high mountain
which the people told him was called Parnassus, and on the steep
side of this mountain was the famous city of Delphi for which he was
looking. The wise woman lived far up the mountain-side, in a hut like
those he had helped his brothers to build by the roadside.

When he pushed aside the branches he found himself in a low cave, with
a hole in the wall through which a strong wind was blowing. He bent
down and put his mouth to the hole and said, "O sacred goddess, tell
me where I must look now for my dear sister Europa, who was carried
off so long ago by a bull?"

At first there was no answer. Then a voice said softly, three times,
"Seek her no more, seek her no more, seek her no more."

"What shall I do, then?" said Cadmus. And the answer came, in a hoarse
voice, "Follow the cow, follow the cow, follow the cow."

"But what cow," cried Cadmus, "and where shall I follow?"

And once more the voice came, "Where the stray cow lies down, there is
your home;" and then there was silence.

"Have I been dreaming?" Cadmus thought, "or did I really hear a
voice?" and he went away thinking he was very little wiser for having
done as the Queen had told him.

I do not know how far he had gone when just before him he saw a
brindled cow. She was lying down by the wayside, and as Cadmus came
along she got up and began to move slowly along the path, stopping now
and then to crop a mouthful of grass.

Cadmus wondered if this could be the cow he was to follow, and he
thought he would look at her more closely, so he walked a little
faster; but so did the cow. "Stop, cow," he cried, "hey brindle,
stop," and he began to run; and much to his surprise so did the cow,
and though he ran as hard as possible, he could not overtake her.

So he gave it up. "I do believe this may be the cow I was told about,"
he thought. "Any way, I may as well follow her and surely she will lie
down somewhere."

On and on they went. Cadmus thought the cow would never stop, and
other people who had heard the strange story began to follow too, and
they were all very tired and very far away from home when at last the
cow lay down. His companions were delighted and began to cut down wood
to make a fire, and some ran to a stream to get water. Cadmus lay
down to rest close beside the cow. He was wishing that his mother
and brothers and Theseus had been with him now, when suddenly he was
startled by cries and shouts and screams.

He ran towards the stream, and there he saw the head of a big serpent
or dragon, with fiery eyes and with wide open jaws which showed rows
and rows of horrible sharp teeth. Before Cadmus could reach it, the
monster had killed all his poor companions and was busy devouring
them. The stream was an enchanted one, and the dragon had been told to
guard it so that no mortal might ever touch the water, and the people
round about knew this, so that for a hundred years none of them had
ever come near the spot.

The dragon had been asleep and was very hungry, and when he saw Cadmus
he opened his huge jaws again, ready to devour him too. But Cadmus was
very angry at the death of all his companions, and drawing his sword
he rushed at the monster. With one big bound he leaped right into the
dragon's mouth, so far down that the two rows of terrible teeth could
not close on him or do him any harm. The dragon lashed with his tail
furiously, but Cadmus stabbed him again and again, and in a short time
the great monster lay dead.

"What shall I do now?" he said aloud. All his companions were dead,
and he was alone once more. "Cadmus," said a voice, "pluck out the
dragon's teeth and plant them in the earth."

Cadmus looked round and there was nobody to be seen. But he set to
work and cut out the huge teeth with his sword, and then he made
little holes in the ground and planted the teeth. In a few minutes the
earth was covered with rows of armed men, fierce-looking soldiers with
swords and helmets who stood looking at Cadmus in silence.

"Throw a stone among these men," came the voice again, and Cadmus
obeyed. At once all the men began to fight, and they cut and stabbed
each other so furiously that in a short time only five remained alive
out of all the hundreds that had stood before him. "Cadmus," said
the voice once more, "tell these men to stop fighting and help you
to build a palace." And as soon as Cadmus spoke, the five big men
sheathed their swords, and they began to carry stones, and to carve
these for Cadmus, as if they had never thought of such a thing as
fighting each other!

They built a house for each of themselves, and there was a beautiful
palace for Cadmus made of marble, and of fine kinds of red and green
stone, and there was a high tower with a flag floating from a tall
gold flag-post.

When everything was ready, Cadmus went to take possession of his new
house, and, as he entered the great hall, he saw a lady coming slowly
towards him. She was very lovely and she wore a royal robe which shone
like sunbeams, with a crown of stars on her golden hair, and round her
neck was a string of the fairest pearls.

Cadmus was full of delight. Could this be his long lost sister Europa
coming to make him happy after all these weary years of searching and
wandering?

How much he had to tell her about Phoenix, and Cilix, and dear Theseus
and of the poor Queen's lonely grave in the wilderness! But as he went
forward to meet the beautiful lady he saw she was a stranger. He
was thinking what he should say to her, when once again he heard the
unknown voice speak.

"No, Cadmus," it said, "this is not your dear sister whom you have
sought so faithfully all over the wide world. This is Harmonia,
a daughter of the sky, who is given to you instead of sister and
brother, and friend and mother. She is your Queen, and will make happy
the home which you have won by so much suffering."

So King Cadmus lived in the palace with his beautiful Queen, and
before many years passed there were rosy little children playing in
the great hall, and on the marble steps of the palace, and running
joyfully to meet King Cadmus as he came home from looking after his
soldiers and his workmen.

And the five old soldiers that sprang from the dragon's teeth grew
very fond of these little children, and they were never tired of
showing them how to play with wooden swords and to blow on a penny
trumpet, and beat a drum and march like soldiers to battle.




PROSERPINA

ADAPTED BY C.E. SMITH


Mother Ceres was very fond of her little daughter Proserpina. She did
not of ten let her go alone into the fields for fear she should be
lost. But just at the time when my story begins she was very busy.
She had to look after the wheat and the corn, and the apples and the
pears, all over the world, and as the weather had been bad day after
day she was afraid none of them would be ripe when harvest-time came.

So this morning Mother Ceres put on her turban made of scarlet poppies
and got into her car. This car was drawn by a pair of winged dragons
which went very fast, and Mother Ceres was just ready to start, when
Proserpina said, "Dear mother, I shall be very lonely while you are
away, may I run down to the sands, and ask some of the sea-children to
come out of the water to play with me?"

"Yes, child, you may," answered Mother Ceres, "but you must take care
not to stray away from them, and you are not to play in the fields by
yourself with no one to take care of you."

Proserpina promised to remember what her mother said, and by the time
the dragons with their big wings had whirled the car out of sight she
was already on the shore, calling to the sea-children to come to play
with her.

They knew Proserpina's voice and came at once: pretty children with
wavy sea-green hair and shining faces, and they sat down on the wet
sand where the waves could still break over them, and began to make a
necklace for Proserpina of beautiful shells brought from their home at
the bottom of the sea.

Proserpina was so delighted when they hung the necklace round her neck
that she wanted to give them something in return. "Will you come with
me into the fields," she asked, "and I will gather flowers and make
you each a wreath?"

"Oh no, dear Proserpina," said the sea-children, "we may not go with
you on the dry land. We must keep close beside the sea and let the
waves wash over us every minute or two. If it were not for the salt
water we should soon look like bunches of dried sea-weed instead of
sea-children."

"That is a great pity," said Proserpina, "but if you wait for me
here, I will run to the fields and be back again with my apron full
of flowers before the waves have broken over you ten times. I long
to make you some wreaths as beautiful as this necklace with all its
colored shells."

"We will wait, then," said the sea-children: "we will lie under
the water and pop up our heads every few minutes to see if you are
coming."

Proserpina ran quickly to a field where only the day before she had
seen a great many flowers; but the first she came to seemed rather
faded, and forgetting what Mother Ceres had told her, she strayed
a little farther into the fields. Never before had she found such
beautiful flowers! Large sweet-scented violets, purple and white; deep
pink roses; hyacinths with the biggest of blue bells; as well as many
others she did not know. They seemed to grow up under her feet, and
soon her apron was so full that the flowers were falling out of the
corners.

Proserpina was just going to turn back to the sands to make the
wreaths for the sea-children, when she cried out with delight. Before
her was a bush covered with the most wonderful flowers in the world.
"What beauties!" said Proserpina, and then she thought, "How strange!
I looked at that spot only a moment ago; why did I not see the
flowers?"

They were such lovely ones too. More than a hundred different kinds
grew on the one bush: the brightest, gayest flowers Proserpina had
ever seen. But there was a shiny look about them and about the leaves
which she did not quite like. Somehow it made her wonder if this was
a poison plant, and to tell the truth she was half inclined to turn
round and run away.

"How silly I am!" she thought, taking courage: "it is really the most
beautiful bush I ever saw. I will pull it up by the roots and carry it
home to plant in mother's garden."

Holding her apron full of flowers with one hand, Proserpina seized the
large shrub with the other and pulled and pulled.

What deep roots that bush had! She pulled again with all her might,
and the earth round the roots began to stir and crack, so she gave
another big pull, and then she let go. She thought there was a
rumbling noise right below her feet, and she wondered if the roots
went down to some dragon's cave. Then she tried once again, and up
came the bush so quickly that Proserpina nearly fell backwards. There
she stood, holding the stem in her hand and looking at the big hole
which its roots had left in the earth.

To her surprise this hole began to grow wider and wider, and deeper
and deeper, and a rumbling noise came out of it. Louder and louder it
grew, nearer and nearer it came, just like the tramp of horses' feet
and the rattling of wheels.

Proserpina was too frightened now to run away, and soon she saw a
wonderful thing. Two black horses, with smoke coming out of their
nostrils and with long black tails and flowing black manes, came
tearing their way out of the earth, and a splendid golden chariot was
rattling at their heels.

The horses leaped out of the hole, chariot and all, and came close to



Online LibraryVariousYoung Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12) → online text (page 3 of 42)