Going on with his wonderful narrative
, he informed the maidens that as strange
as ever happened was when he fought with Geryon, the six-legged man. This was a very odd and frightful
sort of figure
, as you may well believe. Any person, looking at his tracks in the sand or snow, would suppose
that three sociable
companions had been walking along together. On hearing his footsteps at, a little distance
, it was no more than reasonable
to judge that several
people must be coming. But it was only the strange
man Geryon clattering onward, with his six legs!
Six legs, and one gigantic
body! Certainly, he must have been a very queer monster
to look at; and, my stars, what a waste
When the stranger
had finished the story of his adventures, he looked around at the attentive
faces of the maidens.
"Perhaps you may have heard of me before," said he, modestly. "My name is Hercules!"
"We had already guessed it," replied the maidens; "for your wonderful
deeds are known all over the world. We do not think it strange
, any longer, that you should set out in quest
of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Come, sisters, let us crown the hero
Then they flung beautiful wreaths over his stately
head and mighty
shoulders, so that the lion's skin was almost entirely covered with roses. They took possession
of his ponderous
club, and so entwined it about with the brightest, softest, and most fragrant
blossoms, that not a finger's breadth
of its oaken substance
could be seen. It looked all like a huge bunch of flowers. Lastly, they joined hands, and danced around him, chanting words which became poetry
of their own accord
, and grew into a choral song, in honor
of the illustrious
And Hercules was rejoiced, as any other hero
would have been, to know that these fair
young girls had heard of the valiant
deeds which it had cost him so much toil
and danger to achieve
. But, still, he was not satisfied
. He could not think that what he had already done was worthy
of so much honor
, while there remained any bold
or difficult adventure
to be undertaken.
"Dear maidens," said he, when they paused to take breath, "now that you know my name, will you not tell me how I am to reach the garden of the Hesperides?"
"Ah! Must you go so soon?" they exclaimed. "You—that have performed so many wonders, and spent such a toilsome
life—cannot you content
yourself to repose
a little while on the margin
of this peaceful
Hercules shook his head.
"We will then give you the best directions we can," replied the damsels. "You must go to the sea-shore, and find out the Old One, and compel
him to inform
you where the golden apples are to be found."
"The Old One!" repeated
Hercules, laughing at this odd name. "And, pray
, who may the Old One be?"
"Why, the Old Man of the Sea, to be sure!" answered one of the damsels. "He has fifty daughters, whom some people call very beautiful; but we do not think it proper
to be acquainted with them, because they have sea-green hair, and taper
away like fishes. You must talk with this Old Man of the Sea. He is a sea-faring person, and knows all about the garden of the Hesperides; for it is situated in an island
which he is often in the habit
Hercules then asked whereabouts
the Old One was most likely
to be met with. When the damsels had informed him, he thanked them for all their kindness,—for the bread and grapes with which they had fed him, the lovely flowers with which they had crowned him, and the songs and dances wherewith they had done him honor
,—and he thanked them, most of all, for telling him the right
set forth upon his Journey.
But, before he was out of hearing, one of the maidens called after him.
"Keep fast hold of the Old-One, when you catch him!" cried she, smiling, and lifting her finger to make the caution
. "Do not be astonished
at anything that may happen. Only hold him fast, and he will tell you what you wish to know."
Hercules again thanked her, and pursued his way, while the maidens resumed their pleasant labor
of making flower-wreaths. They talked about the hero
, long after he was gone.
"We will crown him with the loveliest of our garlands," said they, "when he returns hither
with the three golden apples, after slaying the dragon with a hundred heads."