His nap had probably lasted a good while, when the cup chanced to graze
against a rock, and, in consequence
resounded and reverberated through its golden or brazen substance
, a hundred times as loudly as ever you heard a church-bell. The noise awoke Hercules, who instantly started up and gazed around him, wondering whereabouts
he was. He was not long in discovering that the cup had floated across a great part of the sea, and was approaching the shore
of what seemed to be an island
. And, on that island
, what do you think he saw?
No; you will never guess it, not if you were to try fifty thousand times! It positively
appears to me that this was the most marvelous spectacle
that had ever been seen by Hercules, in the whole course of his wonderful
travels and adventures. It was a greater marvel
than the hydra with nine heads, which kept growing twice as fast as they were cut off; greater than the six-legged man-monster; greater than Antreus; greater than anything that was ever beheld by anybody, before or since the days of Hercules, or than anything that remains to be beheld, by travelers in all time to come. It was a giant!
But such an intolerably big giant! A giant as tall as a mountain; so vast
a giant, that the clouds rested about his midst, like a girdle, and hung like a hoary
beard from his chin, and flitted before his huge eyes, so that he could neither see Hercules nor the golden cup in which he was voyaging. And, most wonderful
of all, the giant held up his great hands and appeared to support the sky, which, so far as Hercules could discern
through the clouds, was resting upon his head! This does really seem almost too much to believe.
Meanwhile, the bright cup continued to float
onward, and finally touched the strand
. Just then a breeze
wafted away the clouds from before the giant's visage
, and Hercules beheld it, with all its enormous
features; eyes each of them as big as yonder
lake, a nose a mile Long, and a mouth of the same width
. It was a countenance
terrible from its enormity
of size, but disconsolate
, even as you may see the faces of many people, nowadays, who are compelled to sustain
burdens above their strength. What the sky was to the giant, such are the cares of earth
to those who let themselves be weighed down by them. And whenever men undertake
what is beyond the just measure
of their abilities, they encounter precisely
such a doom
as had befallen this poor giant.
Poor fellow! He had evidently stood there a long while. An ancient forest
had been growing and decaying around his feet; and oak-trees, of six or seven centuries old, had sprung from the acorn, and forced themselves between his toes.