The Spartan Twins
Lucy (Fitch) Perkins
Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Mary Meehan
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
THE SPARTAN TWINS
By Lucy Fitch Perkins
LIST OF CHARACTERS
I. COMPANY AT THE FARM
II. THE STRANGER'S STORY
III. THE SHEPHERDS
IV. SOWING AND REAPING
V. THE TWINS GO TO ATHENS
VI. THE FESTIVAL OF ATHENA
VII. HOME AGAIN
THE SPARTAN TWINS
_The Characters in this Story are_:--
MELAS, a Spartan living on the Island of Salamis, just off the coast of
Greece. He is Overseer on the Farm of Pericles, Archon of Athens.
LYDIA, Wife of Melas, and Mother of Dion and Daphne.
DION and DAPHNE, Twin Son and Daughter of Melas and Lydia.
CHLOE, a young slave girl, belonging to Melas and Lydia. She had been
abandoned by her parents when she was a baby, and left by the roadside to
die of neglect or be picked up by some passer-by. She was found by Lydia
and brought up in her household as a slave.
ANAXAGORAS, "the Stranger," a Philosopher,--friend of Pericles.
PERICLES, Chief Archon of Athens.
LAMPON, a Priest.
A Priest of the Erechtheum.
DROMAS, LYCIAS, and Others, Slaves on the Farm of Pericles.
Time: About the middle of the Fifth Century B.C.
[Illustration: Plan of home of the Spartan Twins]
COMPANY AT THE FARM
One lovely spring morning long years ago in Hellas, Lydia, wife of
Melas the Spartan, sat upon a stool in the court of her house, with her
wool-basket beside her, spinning. She was a tall, strong-looking young
woman with golden hair and blue eyes, and as she twirled her distaff and
twisted the white wool between her fingers she sang a little song to
herself that sounded like the humming of bees in a garden.
The little court of the house where she sat was open to the sky, and the
afternoon sun came pouring over the wall which surrounded it, and made a
brilliant patch of light upon the earthen floor. The little stones which
were embedded in the earth to form a sort of pavement glistened in the
sun and seemed to play at hide and seek with the moving shadow of Lydia's
distaff as she spun. On the thatch which covered the arcade around
three sides of the court pigeons crooned and preened their feathers, and
from a room in the second story of the house, which opened upon a little
gallery enclosing the fourth side of the court, came the _clack clack_ of
As she spun, the shadow of Lydia's distaff grew longer and longer across
the floor until at last the sunlight disappeared behind the wall, leaving
the whole court in gray shadow.
Under the gallery a large room opened into the court. The embers of a
fire glowed dully upon a stone hearth in the center of this room, and
beyond, through an open door, fowls could be seen wandering about the
farm-yard. Suddenly the quiet of the late afternoon was broken by a
medley of sounds. There were the bleating of sheep, and the tinkle of
their bells, the lowing of cattle and the barking of a dog, the soft
patter of bare feet and the voices of children.
Then there was a sudden squawking among the hens in the farm-yard,
and through the back door, past the glowing hearth and into the court,
rushed two children, followed by a huge shepherd dog. The children were
blue-eyed and golden-haired, like their Mother, and looked so big and
strong that they might easily have passed for twelve years of age, though
they really were but ten. They were so exactly alike that their Mother
herself could hardly tell which was Dion and which was Daphne, and, as
for their Father, he didn't even try. He simply said whichever name came
first to his lips, feeling quite sure that the children would always be
able to tell themselves apart, at any rate. Daphne, to be sure, wore
her chiton a little longer than Dion wore his, but when they were running
or playing games she often pulled it up shorter through her girdle, so
even that was not a sure sign.
Lydia looked from one of them to the other as the children came bounding
into the court, with Argos, the dog, barking and leaping about them, and
smiled with pride.
"Where have you been, you wild creatures?" she said to the twins, "I
haven't seen you since noon," and "Down, Argos, down," she cried to the
dog, who had put his great paws in her lap and was trying to kiss her on
"We've been down in the field by the spring with Father," Dion shouted,
"and Father is bringing a man home to supper!"
"Company!" gasped Lydia, throwing up her hands. "Whoever can it be at
this time of the day and in such an out of the way place as this? And
nothing but black broth ready for supper! I might have had a roast
fowl at least if only I had known. Where are they now?"
"They are coming down the road," said Dion. "They stopped to see the
sheep and cattle driven into the farm-yard. They'll be here soon."
Lydia thrust her distaff into the wool-basket by her side and rose
hastily from her stool. "There's no time to lose," she said. "The
Stranger will not wish to linger here if he expects to reach Ambelaca
to-night. It is a good two miles to the village, and he'll not find a
boat crossing to the mainland after dark. I am sure of that,
unlessperhaps he has one waiting for him there."
As she spoke, Lydia drew her skirt shorter through her girdle and started
for the hearth-fire in the room beyond. "Shoo," she cried to the hens,
which had followed the children into the house and were searching
hopefully for something to eat among the ashes, "you'll burn your toes as
like as not! Begone, unless you want to be put at once into the pot! Go
for them, Argos! Dion, you feed them. They'll be under foot until they've
had their supper, and it's time they were on the roost this minute!
Daphne, your face is dirty; go wash it, while I get the fire started and
see if I can't find something to eat more fitting to set before a guest."
While the children ran to carry out their Mother's orders, Lydia herself
seized the bellows and blew upon the embers of the fire. "By all the
Gods!" she cried, "there's not a stick of wood in the house." She dropped
the bellows and ran into the court. From the room above still came the
_clack clack_ of the loom. Lydia looked up at the gallery of the second
story and clapped her hands.
"Chloe, Chloe," she called. The clacking suddenly stopped, and a young
girl with black hair and eyes and red cheeks came out of the upper room
and leaned over the balcony rail.
"Did you want me?" she asked.
"Indeed I want you!" answered her mistress. "Company is coming to supper
and there is nothing in the house fit to set before him! Hurry and bring
some wood. There's not even a fire!"
There was a sound of hasty footsteps on the stair, and Chloe disappeared
into the farm-yard. In a moment she was back again with a basket of wood,
which she placed beside the hearth. Lydia knelt on the floor and laid the
wood upon the coals. Then she blew upon them energetically with the
bellows. Chloe knelt beside her and blew too, but not with bellows. The
ashes flew in every direction.
"Mercy!" cried Lydia, "you've a breath like the blasts of winter! You
will blow the sparks clear across the court and set fire to the thatch if
you keep on! Come! Get out the oven and start a charcoal fire! We can
bake barley-cakes, at least, and there are sausages in the store-room.
See if there is fresh water in the water-jar."
"There isn't a drop, I know," said Daphne. "I took the last to wash my
"Was there ever anything like it?" cried Lydia. "Fresh water first of
all! Run at once to the spring, Chloe. I '11 get the oven myself. Daphne,
you take the small water-jar and go with Chloe."
As Chloe and Daphne, with their water-jars on their shoulders, started
out of the back door for the spring, the door at the front of the court
opened, and Melas entered with a tall, bearded man wearing a long cloak.
The moment she heard the door move on its hinges, Lydia stood up straight
and tall beside her hearth-fire, and, at a sign from her husband, came
forward to greet the Stranger.
"You are welcome," she said, "to such entertainment as our plain house
affords. I could wish it were better for your sake."
"I shall be honored by your hospitality," said the Stranger politely,
"and what is good enough for a farmer is surely good enough for a
philosopher, if I may call myself one."
"Though you are a philosopher, you are also, no doubt, an Athenian,"
replied Lydia, "and it is known to all the world that the feast of the
Spartan is but common fare for those who live delicately as the Athenians
"I bring an appetite that would make a feast of bread alone," answered
Melas, a tall brown-faced man with a brown beard, now spoke for the first
"There is no haste, wife," he said. "The Stranger will spend the night
under our roof. It is not yet late. While you get supper, we will rest
beneath the olive trees and watch the sun go down behind the hills."
"Until I can better serve you, then," Lydia replied; and the two men went
out again through the open door, and sat down upon a wooden bench which
commanded a view of the little valley and the hills beyond.
Meanwhile, within doors, Lydia dropped the stately dignity of her company
manners and became once more the busy housewife. When Chloe and Daphne
returned from the spring, she had barley-cakes baking in the oven, and
sausages were roasting before the hearth-fire. A kettle of broth steamed
"How good it smells!" cried Dion, when he came in with Argos from the
farm-yard. "I could eat a whole pig myself. Do cook a lot of sausages,
Mother. I am as hungry as a wolf."
"And you a Spartan boy!" said his Mother reprovingly. "You should think
less of what you put in your stomach! Plain fare makes the strongest men.
It is only polite to give a guest the best you have, but that's no excuse
for being greedy and wanting to stuff yourself every day."
"Well, then," said Dion, "I wish Hermes, if he is the god who guides
travelers, would bring them this way oftener. I'd like to be a strong
man, but I like good things to eat, too, and when we have company, we
have a feast."
His Mother did not answer him; she was too busy.
She sent Chloe to the closet for a jar of wine, and some goat's-milk
cheese, and she herself went upstairs to get some dried figs from the
store-room. Daphne followed Chloe to the closet, and for a moment there
was no one beside the hearth-fire but Dion and Argos, and the sausages
smelled very good indeed.
"I wonder if she counted them," thought Dion to himself, as he looked
longingly at them. And then almost before he knew it himself he had
snatched one of the sausages from the fire and had bitten a piece off the
end! It was so very hot that it burned both his fingers and his tongue
like everything, and when he tried to lick his fingers, he let go of the
sausage, and Argos snapped it up and swallowed it whole. It burned all
the way down to his stomach, and Argos gave a dreadful howl of pain and
dashed through the door out into the farm-yard. Dion heard his Mother's
footsteps coming down the stair. He thought perhaps he'd better join
When Lydia reached the hearth-fire once more, only Daphne was in the
room. She set down the basket of figs and knelt to turn the sausages. She
had counted them and she saw at once that one was missing. She was
shocked and surprised, but she guessed what had become of it. Mothers
are just like that. She rose from her knees and looked around for the
culprit. She saw Daphne.
"You naughty boy!" she said sternly to Daphne. "What have you done with
"I didn't do anything with it; I never even saw it," cried poor Daphne.
"And, besides that, I'm not a naughty boy. I'm not a boy at all! I'm
"Where's Dion, then?" demanded Lydia.
"I don't know where he is," said Daphne. "I didn't see him either, but I
heard Argos howl as if some one had stepped on his tail. Maybe he took
Lydia went to the door and looked out into the farm-yard. Away off in the
farthest corner by the sheep-pen she saw two dark shadows.
"Come here at once," she called.
Dion and Argos both obeyed, but they came very slowly, and Argos had his
tail between his legs. Lydia pointed to the fire.
"Where is the other sausage?" she inquired, with stern emphasis.
"Argos ate it," said Dion.
"Open your mouth," said his Mother. She looked at Dion's tongue. It was
all red where it was burned.
"I suppose Argos took it off the fire and made you bite it when it was
hot," said Lydia grimly. "Very well, he is a bad dog and cannot have any
sausage with his supper. And a boy that hasn't any more manners than a
dog can't have any either. And neither one can be trusted in the kitchen
where things are cooking. Go sit on the wood-pile until I call you."
She put both Dion and Argos out of doors and turned to her cooking again.
"Supper is nearly ready," she called at last to Chloe. "You and Daphne
may bring out the couch and get the table ready."
Under the arcade in the court there was a small wooden table. Chloe and
Daphne lifted it and brought it near the fire. Then they brought a plain
wooden bench that also stood under the thatch and placed it beside the
table. They arranged cushions of lamb's wool upon the bench, and near the
foot set a low stool. Daphne brought the dishes, and when everything was
ready, Lydia sent Chloe to call her husband and the Stranger, while she
herself went out to the farm-yard. She found Dion and Argos sitting side
by side on the wood-pile in dejected silence.
"Come in and wash your hands," she said to Dion. "If you get yourself
clean, wrists and all, you may have your supper with us, but remember, no
sausage. You have had your fingers with your food." This is what mothers
used to say to their children in those days, because there were no knives
or forks, and often not even spoons, to eat with.
Lydia didn't invite Argos in, but he came anyway, and lay down beside the
fire with his nose on his paws, just where people would be most likely to
stumble over him.
When Melas and the Stranger came in, they sat down side by side on the
couch. Chloe knelt before them, took off their sandals, and bathed their
feet. Then the Stranger loosened his long, cloak-like garment, and he and
Melas reclined side by side upon the couch, their left elbows resting
on the lamb's-wool cushions. Chloe moved the little table within easy
reach of their hands, and Lydia took her place on the stool beside the
couch. It was now quite dark except for the light of the hearth-fire.
The Twins had been brought up to be seen and not heard, especially when
there was company, and as Dion was not anxious to call attention to
himself just then, the two children slipped quietly into their places on
the floor by the hearth-fire just as Melas and the Stranger dipped their
bread into their broth and began to eat.
It must be confessed that Melas seemed to enjoy the black broth much
more than his guest did, but the stranger ate it nevertheless, and when
the last drop was gone, the men both wiped their fingers on scraps of
bread and threw them to Argos, who snapped them up as greedily as if his
tongue had never been burned at all. Then Chloe brought the sausages hot
from the fire, and barley-cakes from the oven. When she had served the
men and had explained that these cakes were really not so good as her
barley-cakes usually were, Lydia gave the Twins each one, and she gave
Daphne a sausage. She just looked at Dion without a single word.
He knew perfectly well what she meant. He munched his barley-cake in
mournful silence, and I suppose no sausage ever smelled quite so good to
any little boy in the whole world as Daphne's did to Dion just then.
However, there were plenty of barley-cakes, and his mother let him have
honey to eat with them, which comforted Dion so much that when the
Stranger began to talk to Melas, he forgot his troubles entirely. He
forgot his manners too, and listened with his eyes and mouth both wide
open until the honey ran off the barley-cake and down between his
fingers. Then he licked his fingers!
No one saw him do it, not even his Mother, because she too was watching
the the inhabitants of the little farm. They lived so far from the sea,
and so far from highways of travel on the island, that the Twins in all
their lives had seen but few persons besides their own family and the
slaves who worked on the farm. The Stranger was to them a visitor from
another world--the great outside world which lay beyond the shining blue
waters of the bay. They had seen that distant world sometimes from a
hill-top on a clear day, but they had never been farther from home
than the little seaport of Ambelaca two miles away.
"How is it," the Stranger was saying to Melas, "that you, a Spartan, live
here, so far from your native soil, and so near to Athens? The Spartans
have but little love for the Athenians as a rule, nor for farming either,
I am told."
"We love the Athenians quite as well as they love us," answered Melas;
"and as for my being here, I have my father to thank for that. He was a
soldier of the Persian Wars and settled here after the Battle of Salamis.
I grew up on the island, and thought myself fortunate when I had a chance
to become overseer on this farm."
"Who is the owner of the farm?" asked the Stranger.
"Pericles, Chief Archon of Athens," answered Melas.
"You are indeed fortunate to be in his service," said the Stranger. "He
is the greatest man in Athens, and consequently the greatest man in the
world, as any Athenian would tell you!"
"Do you know him?" asked Dion, quite forgetting in his interest that
children should be seen and not heard.
Lydia shook her head at Dion, but the Stranger answered just as politely
as if Dion were forty years old instead of ten.
"Yes," he said, "I know Pericles well. I went with him only yesterday to
see the new temple he is having built upon the great hill of the
Acropolis in Athens. You have seen it, of course," he said, turning to
"No," answered Melas. "I sell most of my produce in the markets of the
Piraeus, and go to Athens itself only when necessary to take fruit and
vegetables to the city home of Pericles. There is no occasion to
go in the winter, and the season for planting is only just begun. Perhaps
later in the summer I shall go."
"When you do," said the Stranger, "do not fail to see the new building on
the sacred hill. It is worth a longer journey than from here to Athens, I
assure you. People will come from the ends of the earth to see it some
day, or I am no true prophet."
"Oh," murmured Daphne to Dion, "don't you wish we could go too?"
"You can't go. You're a girl!" Dion whispered back. "Girls can't do such
things, but I'm going to get Father to take me with him the very next
time he goes."
Daphne turned up her nose at Dion. "I don't care if I am a girl," she
whispered back. "I'm no Athenian sissy that never puts her nose out of
doors, I can do everything you can do here on the farm, and I guess I
could in Athens too. Besides, no one would know I'm a girl; I look just
as much like a boy as you do. I look just like you."
"You do not," said Dion resentfully. "You can't look like a boy."
"Ail right," answered Daphne, "then you must look just like a girl, for
you know very well Father can't tell us apart, so there now."
Dion opened his mouth to reply, but just then his Mother shook her head
at them, and at the same moment Chloe, coming in with the wine-jar,
stumbled over Argos and nearly fell on the table. Argos yelped, and
Dion and Daphne both laughed. Lydia was dreadfully ashamed because Chloe
had been so awkward, and ashamed of the Twins for laughing. She
apologized to the Stranger.
"Oh, well," said the Stranger, and he laughed a little too, even if he
was a philosopher, "boys will be boys, and those seem two fine strong
little fellows of yours. One of these days they'll be competing in the
Olympian games, I suppose, and how proud you will be if they should bring
home the wreath of victors!"
"They are as strong as the young Hercules, both of them," Melas answered,
"but one is a girl, so we can hope to have but one victor in the family
"Perhaps two would make you over proud," said the Stranger, smiling, "so
it may be just as well that one is a girl, after all."
Dion sat up very straight at these words, but Daphne hung her head. "I do
wish I were a boy too," she said, "they can do so many things a girl is
not allowed to do. They get the best of everything."
"That must be as the Gods will," said the Stranger kindly. "And Spartan
women have always been considered just as brave as men, even if they
aren't quite as big. Anyway, some of us have to be women because we can't
get along without women in the world."
Two bright spots glowed in Lydia's cheeks, and she twirled her distaff
faster than ever. "I should think not, indeed," she said. "Men aren't
much more fit to take care of themselves than children!"
Melas and the Stranger laughed, and the Stranger turned to Daphne.
"Don't you remember, my little maid, how glad Epimetheus was to welcome
Pandora, even if she did bring trouble into the world with her?" he
"No," said Daphne, "I don't know about Pandora. Please tell us about
Lydia rose and glanced up at the stars. "It's getting near bed-time," she
said to the Twins; and to the Stranger she added, "You must excuse the
boldness of my children. They are brought up so far out of the world they
scarcely understand the reverence due men like yourself. You must not
permit them to impose upon your kindness."
"I will gladly tell them about Pandora if you are willing," said the
Stranger. "The fine old tales of Hellas should be the birthright of every
child. They will live so long as there are children in the world to hear
them and old fellows like myself to tell them."
"If you will be so gracious then," said Lydia, "but first let us prepare
ourselves to listen."
She signed to Chloe, who immediately brought a basin and towel to the
Stranger and Melas. When they had washed their hands, she carried away
the basin and swept the crumbs into the fire, while Lydia filled cups
with wine and water and set them before her husband and his guest. Then
wood was piled upon the fire, and Lydia seated herself beside it once
more with her distaff and wool-basket, while Chloe crept into the shadow
behind her mistress's chair, and the Twins drew nearer to her footstool.
When everything was quiet once more, the Stranger lifted his wine-cup.
"Since we are in the country," he said, "we will make our libation to
Demeter, the Goddess of the fields. May yours be fruitful, with her
blessing." He poured a little wine on the earthen floor as he spoke.
There was a moment of reverent silence. Then while the flames of the
hearth danced upward toward the sky and the stars winked down from above,
the Stranger began his story.
THE STRANGER'S STORY
"Long, long ago, when the earth was young and the Gods mingled more
freely with men than they do to-day, there lived in Hellas a beautiful
youth named Epimetheus. I am not quite sure that he was the very first
man that ever lived, but at any rate he was one of the first, and he was
very lonely. The world was then more beautiful than I can say. The sun
shone every day in the year, flowers bloomed everywhere, and the earth
brought forth abundantly all that he needed for food, but still
Epimetheus was not happy. The Gods saw how lonely he was and they felt
sorry for him.
"'Let us give him a companion,' said Zeus, the father of all the Gods.
'Even sun-crowned Olympus would be a desolate place to me if I had to
live all alone.' So the Gods all fell to hunting for just the right
companion to send to poor lonely Epimetheus, and soon they found a lovely
maiden whose name was Pandora. 'She's just the right one,' said
Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. 'See how beautiful she is.' 'Yes,'
said Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, 'but she will need more than beauty
or Epimetheus will tire of her. One cannot love an empty head forever,
even if it is a beautiful one. I will give her learning and wisdom.'
"'I will give her a sweet voice for singing,' said Apollo. In this way
each one of the Gods gave to Pandora some wonderful gift, and when the
time came for her departure from Olympus, where the Gods dwell, these
gifts were packed away in a marriage-chest of curious workmanship,
and were taken with her to the home of Epimetheus.
"You can imagine how glad Epimetheus was to receive a bride so nobly
endowed, and for a time everything went very happily upon the earth. At
last, one sad day, a dreadful thing happened.
"Pandora had been told by the Gods that she must not open the box, lest
she lose all the blessings it contained.
"But she was curious. She wished to see with her own eyes what was in it,
and one day, when Epimetheus was away from home, she lifted the corner of
the lid! Out flew the gifts of the Gods! She tried her best to close the
lid again, but before she could do so, the blessings had flown away in a
"Poor Pandora! She sat down beside the box and wept the very first tears
that were ever shed in this world. While she was weeping and blaming
herself for her disobedience and the trouble it had caused, she heard a
little voice, way down in the bottom of the box.
"'Don't cry, dear Pandora!' the little voice said. 'You can never be
quite unhappy when I am here, and I am always going to stay with you; I
am Hope.' So Pandora dried her tears, and no matter how full of sorrow
the world has been since, there has never been a time when Hope was gone.
If that time should ever come, the world would be a desolate place
When he had finished the story, no one said anything at all for a minute,
and then Daphne looked up at the Stranger.
"Is that really the way all the troubles began?" she asked. "Because if
it isn't, I think it's mean to blame everything on poor Pandora."
"Why, Daphne!" said her Mother in a shocked voice; but the Stranger only
"I should not be surprised if Epimetheus were to blame for a few things
himself," he said, stroking his beard. "Anyway, I'm sure he felt he would
rather have Pandora and all the troubles in the world than to live
without her, and men have felt the same way ever since."
"Well, then," began Daphne, her eyes shining like two blue sparks, "why
"Daphne! Daphne!" cried Lydia warningly. "You are talking too much for a
The Stranger nodded kindly to Lydia. "Let her speak," he said. Daphne
"Didn't Athena say Epimetheus would get tired of Pandora if she had an
"Yes," admitted the Stranger, "the story certainly runs that way."
"And have men felt like that ever since too?" Daphne asked.
"Yes, I think so," answered the Stranger. "Certainly women need wisdom
now as much as Pandora did."
"Then why don't they let us learn things the same as boys," gasped
Daphne, a little frightened at her own boldness. "Dion's always telling
me I can't do things or go to places because I am a girl. I want to know
things if I _am_ a girl. I can't try for the Olympian games and I can't
even go to see them just because I am a girl." She stopped quite
Melas and Lydia and Dion were all too astonished to speak. Only the
Stranger did not seem shocked. He drew Daphne up beside him.
"My dear," he said, "a child can ask questions which even a philosopher
cannot answer. I do not know myself why the world feels as it does, but
it certainly has always seemed to be afraid to let women know too much.
It has always seemed to prefer they should have beauty rather than
"Yes, but," urged Daphne, "I don't see why I can't try for the games too,
when I am big enough. I can run just as fast as Dion and do everything he
Melas smiled. "Daphne is true to her Spartan blood," he said. "The girls
used to compete in the games at Sparta."
The Philosopher stroked Daphne's hair. "So your name is Daphne," he said,
smiling, "And you can run fast and you have golden hair! Did you know it
was to the fleet-footed nymph Daphne with golden hair that we owe the
victor's crown at the Olympian games, even though no woman may wear it?"
Daphne shook her head. "I don't know what you mean," she said.
"I mean this," said the Stranger. "It is said that once upon a time
Apollo himself loved a beautiful nymph named Daphne. But Daphne did not
love Apollo even though he was a God, and when he pursued her she ran
away. She was as swift as the wind, but Apollo was still more swift, and
when she saw that she could not escape him by flight, she prayed to her
father, who was a river god, and, to protect her, he changed her form by
magic. Her arms became branches, her golden hair became leaves, and her
feet took root in the ground. When Apollo reached her side, she was no
longer a beautiful maiden, but a lovely laurel tree. Apollo gathered some
of the shining leaves and wove them into a wreath. 'If you will not be my
bride,' he cried, 'you shall at least be my tree and your leaves shall be
my crown,' and that is why at the games over which Apollo presides, the
victor is still crowned with laurel. It was Apollo himself who gave us
the custom and made it sacred. So, my little maid," he finished, "you
give us our crowns even though you may not win them for yourselves, don't
you see? Isn't that almost as good?"
"Maybe it is," sighed Daphne, thoughtfully, "but anyway I'd like to try
it the other way." Then she slid from the Stranger's side to her Mother's
footstool, and sat down with her head against her Mother's knee.
"You are sleepy," said Lydia, stroking her hair. "It is time you children
were in bed."
"Oh, Mother," pleaded Dion, "please let him tell just one more story. It
isn't late, truly." Then he turned to their guest. "Those were very good
stories," he said, "but they were both about girls. Won't you please tell
me one about a boy?"
"Very well," said the Stranger, "if your Mother will let me, I will tell
you the story of Perseus and how the great Goddess Athena helped him to
cut off the Gorgon's head with its writhing snaky locks! There's a story
for you! And if you don't believe it is true, some day, when you go
to Athens with your Father, you can see the Gorgon's head, snakes and
all, on the breastplate of the Goddess Athena, where she has worn it ever
"Is it the real Gorgon's head?" asked Dion breathlessly, "all snakes and
blood and everything?"
"No," said the Stranger, laughing, "the blood of the Gorgon dried up long
ago. It is a sculptured head that adorns the breastplate of Athena."
Then the Twins and Chloe listened with open mouth and round eyes to
another of the most wonderful stories in the world, while Lydia forgot to
spin and the wine-cup of Melas stood untouched within reach of his hand.
Even Lydia forgot all about time, and when the story was finished, the
moon had already risen and was looking down upon them over the wall.
Lydia pointed to it with her distaff.
"See, children," she said, "the Goddess Artemis herself has come to light
you to bed. Thank your kind friend and say good-night."
The next morning Dion was wakened by feeling a cold wet nose wiggling
about in the back of his neck. It was Argos' nose. Dion knew it at once.
He had felt it before.
"Go away, Argos," he said crossly. He pulled the sheepskin coverings of
his bed closer about his ears and turned over for another nap.
But Argos was a good shepherd dog and he knew that his first work that
morning was to round up the Twins. So he gamboled about on his four
clumsy paws and barked. Then, seeing that Dion had no intention of
getting up, he seized the sheepskin covers and dragged them to the
"Bow-wow," he said.
Dion sat up shivering. "Good dog," said Dion, "go away from here; go wake
"Bow-wow, bow-wow," said Argos, and bounded off to Daphne's room to wake
Dressing took only a minute, for the children each wore but one garment,
and there were no buttons; so, though they were sleepy and their fingers
were cold and clumsy, they appeared in the court while the roosters in
the farm-yard were still crowing and the thrushes in the olive trees were
in the midst of their sunrise song. Chloe had already gone out to feed
the chickens. Lydia was bending over the hearth-fire, and their Father
was just saying good-bye to the Stranger at the door of the court, and
pointing out to him the road to the little seaport town.
"You will probably find a boat going over to the Piraeus some time
to-day," he said, "and as they usually go early in the morning, it is
well for you to make an early start from here. May Hermes speed you
on your way."
"Farewell," said the Stranger, "and if ever a philosopher can serve a
farmer, you have but to ask in the Piraeus for the home of Anaxagoras. I
thank you for your hospitality," and with these words he was gone.
Melas had eaten his breakfast of bread and wine with his guest before
dawn, and was now ready for the day's work in the fields. The slaves of
Pericles were already in the farm-yard, yoking the oxen, milking the
goats, and getting out the tools. There were pleasant early sounds all
about, but the Twins hovered over the hearth-fire, for the morning was
chill; and Dion yawned. Lydia saw him.
"Come," she said briskly, "wash your faces! That will wake you up, if you
are still sleepy. And then I'll have a bite for you to eat, and some
bread and cheese for you to carry with you to the hills."
"Are we going to the hills?" asked Dion.
"Yes," said Melas. "To-day you must watch the sheep. Dromas has to help
me plough the corn-field. You are old enough now to look after the flock
and bring the sheep all safe home again at night. Come, move quickly!
'Still on the sluggard hungry want attends.'"
"They were up too late," said Lydia. "If they can't wake up in the
morning they must go to bed very early every night."
When Dion and Daphne heard their Mother say that, they became at once
quite lively, and were soon washed and ready for their breakfast, which
was nothing but cold barley-cakes left over from the night before and a
drink of warm goat's milk. When they had eaten it, Daphne put the bread
and cheese which Lydia had wrapped up in a towel for their luncheon in
the front of her dress and they were ready to start.
Melas and Dromas, the shepherd, were waiting for them at the farm-yard
gate when the Twins came bounding out of the back door, Dion with a
little reed pipe in his hand and Daphne carrying a shepherd's crook. The
sheep were huddled together at the gate, waiting to be let out.
"Be sure you keep good watch of that old black ewe," said Dromas to the
Twins as he went to open the gate. "She is a wanderer. I never saw a
sheep like her. She is always straying off by herself. Quarrelsome too.
Argos knows she has to be watched more than the others, and sometimes
when she goes off by herself and he goes after her, she just puts her
head down and butts at him like an old goat The wolves will get her one
of these days, as sure as my name is Dromas."
"Are there wolves in the hills?" asked Daphne.
"Maybe a few," answered Dromas, "but they don't usually come round when
they see the flock together, and a good dog along. You needn't be
"I'm not afraid of anything," said Daphne proudly, and then the gate was
opened, the sheep crowded through, and Dion and Daphne with Argos fell in
behind the flock, and away they went toward the hills, to the music of
Dion's pipe, the bleating of the sheep, and the tinkling of their bells.
The children followed the cart-path westward for some distance, and then
left it to drive the flock up the southern slope of a rocky high hill,
where the grass was already quite green in places and there was good
pasture for the sheep. It was still so early in the morning that the sun
threw long, long shadows before them, when they reached the hill pasture,
though they were then two miles from home. The pasture was a lonely
place. Even from the hill-tops there were no houses or villages to be
seen. Far, far away toward the east they could see the olive and fig
trees around their own house. On the western horizon there was a glimpse
of blue sea. In a field nearer they could barely make out two brown
specks moving slowly back and forth. They were oxen, and Dromas was
ploughing with them. It was so still that the children could plainly
hear the breathing of the sheep as they cropped the grass, and the ripple
of the little stream which spread out into a shallow river and watered
the valley below.
The hillside was bare except for shrubs and a few trees, but there were
wonderful places to play among the rocks. Dion proposed that they play
robber cave in a hollow place between two large boulders; but as he
insisted on being the robber, and Daphne wouldn't play if she couldn't be
the robber half the time, that game had to be given up.
Then Daphne said, "Come on! Let's play Apollo and Daphne! I'm Daphne
anyway, and I can run like the wind. You can be Apollo, only I know you
can't catch me! I can run so fast that even the real Apollo couldn't
Dion looked scared.
"Don't you know the Gods are all about us, only we can't see them?" he
demanded. "Apollo may have heard what you said, and if he should take a
notion to punish you for bragging, I guess you'd be sorry. Maybe he'll
turn you into a tree just like the other Daphne."
"Pooh," said Daphne. "I'm not afraid. I should think the Gods wouldn't
have time to listen to everything little girls say! They can't be very
busy if they do."
Dion was horrified. "That's a wicked thing to say," he said. "You must
never speak that way of the Gods. Oh dear! This is bound to be an unlucky
day. This morning when Argos woke me, I was having a bad dream! That's a
very bad sign."
"It's a sign you ate too much last night," said Daphne. She said it very
boldly, but really she was beginning to feel a little frightened too, for
every one she knew believed in such signs and omens.
"Come along out of this place, anyway," said Dion. "Let's go somewhere
else and play. Let's go to the brook."
The two children came out of their cave between the rocks and started
toward the little stream, which was hidden from them by bushes. The sheep
were all grazing contentedly along the hillside, the old black ewe
browsing in the very middle of the flock. Argos was sitting on the
hill-top in the sunshine, watching them, with his tongue hanging
out. The sun was now quite high in the sky and the day was warm. The
children paddled in the water and built a dam, and sent fleets of leaves
down the stream, and played knuckle-bones on a flat rock beside it, until
at last they were hungry, and then they ate their bread and cheese.
When they had finished the last crumb, Daphne curled herself up on the
flat rock with her head on her arm.
"I'm so sleepy," she said. "I can't keep awake another minute."
You see, they had been up ever so many hours then, and the sunshine was
very warm, and the bees buzzed so drowsily in the sunshine!
"You and Argos watch the sheep," she begged, and was asleep before you
could say Jack Robinson.
Dion came out of the bushes and counted the flock like a careful
shepherd. They were all there, and Argos was still on watch.
"I'll lie down a little while, too," said Dion to himself, "but I won't
go to sleep. I'll just look at the sky."
He stretched himself out beside Daphne and watched the white clouds
sailing away overhead, and in two minutes he was asleep too.
How long they slept the children never knew. They were awakened at last
by a long, long howl, which seemed to come from the other side of the
hill. They sat up and clutched each other in terror. There was an
answering howl from Argos, and mingled with it they heard the dull thud
of many feet, the bleating of sheep, and the frightened cries of lambs.
"The sheep are frightened. There's a stampede!" cried Dion.
The two children plunged through the bushes and gazed about them. The
whole flock had disappeared! Their bells could be heard in a mad jangle
of sound from the farther side of the hill, Argos was barking wildly.
"Come on," shouted Dion, springing out of the bushes, "We must get them
"Suppose it is a wolf!" shrieked Daphne, tumbling after him.
"We'll have to get the sheep back even if it is a bear," cried Dion, and
he tore away over the crest of the hill and down the farther slope.
Daphne followed after him, as fast as she could run.
The sheep were already a long distance away, in a region of the hills
which the children had never seen before in their lives, but they did not
stop to think of that. All they thought was that the sheep must be
brought back at any cost. They could see Argos barking and circling round
the frightened flock, and away in the distance a huge wild creature was
just disappearing into the woods.
On the children ran, over rocks and through briars, until at last they
reached the sheep, whose flight Argos had already checked. Dion ran
beyond to turn them back, while Daphne herded them on one side and Argos
on the other. When they had the flock together and quiet once more, the
children counted them.
"There's one missing!" cried Daphne, aghast. "And it's the old black ewe!
What will Father say?"
"It's all your fault," said Dion. "I told you you would have bad luck if
you spoke about the Gods the way you did. I shouldn't wonder if that
wasn't really a wolf that we saw. It may have been Pan himself! Or it may
have been Apollo, and he meant to show you that you can't run even as
fast as a sheep!"
"Anyway, the old black ewe is gone."
"Oh dear! Oh dear! What shall we do?" mourned Daphne.
By this time the sun was low in the sky, and it was late afternoon.
"The first thing to do is to get home as fast as we can," said Dion.
"Which way is home?" said Daphne.
Dion looked about him. "I don't know," he said. "Maybe Argos does. Here
Argos! Good dog! Take 'em home! Home Argos! Home!"
Argos wagged his tail, and ran around behind the flock.
"Bow-wow, bow-wow," he barked, and nipped the heels of the wether. In a
short time he had the whole flock moving toward a hollow between the
hills. As they trotted along behind the sheep, Daphne struck her hands
together in dismay.
"What else do you think I have done?" she cried. "I've left my crook in
the robber's cave!"
"And I left my pipe there, too," Dion wailed.
"We can't get them to-night anyway," sobbed Daphne. "We could never find
the place! And besides, it is too late. It will be dark before we get
They trudged along behind Argos and the sheep in dismal silence. Argos
did not seem at all in doubt about the way home. He drove the sheep
through the hollow between the hills and across two fields, and brought
them out at last upon a roadway.
"This must be the road that goes by the house," cried Dion joyfully. For
answer Daphne pointed toward the east. There some distance ahead of them
was Dromas driving the oxen home from the day's ploughing.
Daphne clapped her hands for joy. "I knew Argos would find the way!" she
The bright colors of the sunset were just fading from the sky when they
reached the farm-yard gate. Dromas had gone in before them with the oxen,
and Melas himself was waiting to let them in and to count the sheep.
"Where is the old black ewe?" he said sternly to the Twins, when the last
sheep had passed through the gate.
"We don't know," sobbed Daphne. "We lost her. We lost the crook, and
Dion's little pipe, too. A wolf frightened the flock, and they ran away,
"_Maybe_ it was a wolf," said Dion darkly.
Then the Twins told the whole story to their Father. Melas did not say
much to them. He was a man of few words at any time, but he made them
feel very much ashamed. And when Lydia heard the things Daphne had said
about the Gods, they felt worse than ever, at least Daphne did.
That night, before the family went to bed, Melas kindled a fire upon the
little altar which stood in the middle of the court and offered upon it a
handful of barley, and prayed to Pan and to Apollo that Daphne might be
forgiven for her wicked words.
SOWING AND REAPING
The children were not allowed again to take the sheep to the hills. "They
are not to be trusted," said Melas. "They are the sort of shepherds that
go to sleep and let the wolves find the flock. They are not real
Dion and Daphne felt this as a terrible reproach. Dromas now had to go
with the sheep, and so could no longer help with the other farm work, and
the ploughing and sowing of the corn-field had to be finished by Melas
himself. The Twins did their best to help. When Melas scattered the
grain, they followed with rakes and scratched a layer of earth over the
seeds. The crows watched the planting with much interest.
"Look at them," cried Dion to his Father one afternoon. "There are five
of them on that tree yonder, and the minute we get to one end of the
field they begin to scratch up the grain at the other."
"We'll fix them," said Melas shortly.
He sent the Twins to the house for sticks and straw and his old worn-out
sheepskin cloak and hat, and when they came back, Melas stuck two long
sticks of wood in the ground and bound a cross piece to them with strips
of leather. Then he wound the sticks with straw, and made a round bundle
of straw at the top. He tied it all securely with thongs. Then he dressed
it with the sheepskin and put on the hat. When it was done, it was the
scariest looking scarecrow you ever saw!
"I guess that will frighten the crows!" said Dion, as he gazed at it
admiringly. "It just about scares me."
"Caw, caw, caw!" screamed a crow.
A crow was flying right over his head! Dion shook his fist at him. "You
old thief!" he cried.
"I know one more thing we can do," said Daphne. "Lycias told me about
it." She got a small piece of bark and made a little amulet of it. She
punched a hole through one end and put a leather string through it.
Neither she nor Dion could write, so when she had explained what must
be done Melas himself took a sharp stone and scratched a curse upon crows
in the soft bark. When it was done Daphne hung it about the neck of the
scarecrow. "There," said Melas grimly, "I don't believe he'll go to sleep
on the job. He's a Spartan scarecrow! Now let's go home to supper, and
to-morrow we'll see how it works."
The next morning the very first thing the Twins did was to rush out to
the field and there, right on top of the scarecrow were three black
crows, and more were on the ground eating up the seed!
"After all we did, just look at them!" cried Dion.
"Caw, caw," screamed the crows.
"You don't suppose Father made a mistake, and wrote a blessing instead
of a curse on that amulet?" said Daphne anxiously. They ran back to the
house as fast as they could go. Melas was just coming out of the
farm-yard with a pruning-hook in his hand.
"Oh, Father," cried Dion, "the crows are roosting all over the scarecrow.
Maybe he wasn't a Spartan scarecrow after all."
"Anyway, he seems to have gone to sleep on the job," added Daphne.
Melas stared at the crows in angry silence. "You children will have to
get your clappers then, and just drive the old thieves away," he said at
last, "You will have to spend the day in the field watching them. I've
got to work in the vineyard. The vines must be pruned."
The Twins had not yet had their breakfast and they were hungry. So they
ran to the kitchen, seized some barley-cakes and a little jar of milk,
and in a few minutes were back again in the field. They sat down with
the wooden clappers beside them, and ate their breakfast in the company
of the scarecrow. All day long they watched the grain and rattled their
clappers, or threw clods at the black marauders. It was lively work, and
although they did not like it, they remembered the black ewe and stuck
faithfully at it all through the long day.
When the sun was high overhead, Lydia brought them some figs and cheese
and a drink of goat's milk. She also brought a message. This was the
message. "Father says you are to stay here until after dark. You are to
hunt around until you find a toad, and when you find it, you must be
sure not to let it get away from you. He is going to put a magic spell on
the field to keep the crows away, but the spell will not work except in
the dark. So you must stay here until he comes."
Between keeping off the birds and hunting for the toad, the Twins spent a
busy afternoon. And after the toad was found it was no joke to try to
keep it. It was a wonderful hopper and nearly got away twice. At dusk the
crows flew away to their nests, and the children were alone in the field
until the twilight deepened into darkness. Owls had begun to hoot and
bats were flying about, when at last they saw three dim, shadowy figures
coming across the field.
The shadowy figures were Melas, Lydia, and Chloe. Lydia bore a jar, which
she placed beside the scarecrow in the middle of the field. Melas took
the toad in his hand, formed the others in line, and then solemnly headed
the procession as the five walked slowly round the entire field, carrying
the toad. When they got back to the scarecrow again, Melas put the toad
in the jar and sealed it. Then he buried the jar in the middle of the
field, beside the scarecrow.
"There," said Lydia, when it was done, "that's the very strongest spell
there is. If that doesn't protect the corn, I don't know another thing to
Whether it was the scarecrow, or the curse, or the spell, I cannot say,
but it is certain that the corn grew well that summer, and when harvest
time came, Melas was so proud of his crop that he decided to have an
extra celebration. So one day in late summer every one on the entire
farm rose with the dawn and hastened to the fields. It was the twelfth
day of the month, which was counted a lucky day for harvesting, and every
one was gay, as, with sickles in hand, slaves and master alike entered
the field of ripe grain. Melas and two other men led the way, cutting the
stalks and leaving them on the ground to be gathered into sheaves and
stacked by others who followed after.
Meanwhile Lydia, Chloe, and the other women prepared an out-of-door
feast. A calf had been killed and cut up for cooking, and in the
afternoon a huge fire was built. Lydia had charge of the cooking. She set
great pieces of meat before the fire to roast, and told the children to
sit by and turn them often to keep them from burning. Dion and Daphne
also brought wood for the fire, while the slave women mixed cakes of meal
and baked them in the ashes, or went to the spring for water, or carried
refreshing drinks to the workers in the field.
It was sundown when the last sheaf was stacked and Melas gave the signal
to stop work. Chloe at once brought cool water from the spring to the
tired harvesters, and when they had washed their hot hands and faces,
Melas made a rude altar of stones, kindled a fire upon it, and, calling
the people together, offered upon it a handful of the new grain and made
a prayer of thanks to Demeter, the Goddess of the fields, for the rich
harvest. When this was done, the feast was ready. The meat and cakes and
wine were passed to the men by the women, and when they had been well
served, the women too sat down under a tree and ate their supper. It was
a gay party. After supper there were jokes and songs, and Dromas played
upon his shepherd's pipe, until the night came on and the moon showed her
round face over the crest of the hills.
Then Lycias, the oldest slave of all, began to tell stories. He had seen
the battle of Salamis, and he told how he had watched the Persian ships
go down, one after another, before the victorious Greeks. "And the King
sat right on the high rocks north of the Piraeus and saw 'em go down," he
chuckled. "It was a great sight."
When Lycias had finished his story, Dromas told the tale of how the God
Pan had appeared to a shepherd he knew, as he was watching his sheep
along on the hills. "It's all true," he declared, as the story ended. "I
knew the man myself. All sorts of things happen when you're out alone on
The fire, meanwhile, had died down to a heap of brands and gleaming
coals, and Melas told the Twins to bring some wood to replenish it. They
had been gone only a short time on this errand when the group around the
fire was amazed to see them come darting back into the circle, all out of
breath and with eyes as big as saucers.
"What is it?" cried Lydia, springing to her feet.
"We don't know," gasped Dion. "It's big--and black--and there's two of
it. It's right out by the brush-pile."
"We were just going to get an armful of brush," added Daphne, "when all
of a sudden there it was--right beside us! We didn't wait to see it any
more. We just ran like everything!"
Lydia poked the coals into a blaze and peered out into the surrounding
"It was wolves, I'll go bail," cried Lycias, and he started at once to
climb a tree.
"Wolves!" shrieked Chloe, and got behind her mistress. The Twins were
already holding to her skirts.
"Wolves!" howled the slaves, "a whole pack of them!" and as there was
nothing for them to climb, each hastily tried to get behind some one
else. In the struggle Dromas got crowded back and sat down on a hot coal.
He hadn't many clothes on, so he got up very quickly, and the next howl
he gave was not wholly on account of wolves. Only Lydia and Melas stood
their ground beside the fire. Melas waved a burning brand in the air and
shouted at the top of his lungs, "Fools! Rabbits! Don't you know wolves
won't come near a fire?" but nothing soothed the frightened slaves.
Something was coming, and if it wasn't wolves, they thought it was likely
to be a worse creature. They could see two black figures bounding along
in the moonlight, and behind them came a huge dog, barking with all his
might. Bang into the row of cowering slaves they ran, and the biggest
black thing roared "baa," and the little one bleated "maa," right into
Dromas' ear. The "whole pack of wolves" was just the old black ewe and
her little black lamb. Argos was chasing them and when he came tearing
into the circle about the fire and saw the sheep safe with Dromas, he sat
down panting, with his tongue hanging out, and looked very much pleased
with himself. Dromas seized the lamb in his arms.
"It's a fine young ram," he cried, "and it's nothing short of a miracle
that the wolves haven't got it, and its mother too, long before this!'
"I always said that old ewe was bewitched," quavered Lycias. "It's magic,
I say. And the lamb is as black as Erebus too. No good will come of
"Come, come! We must take them up to the farm-yard at once," said Melas,
"before the old sheep takes it into her head to run away again. Dromas,
you and Argos attend to her, and I'll carry the lamb myself."
"We will all go," said Lydia. "It is time for bed anyway." So the remains
of the feast were gathered up, the fire was put out, and the whole
company trailed back over the hill to the farm-house, Melas at the head
of the procession, carrying the lamb in his arms. When the old sheep was
corraled once more with the flock, and the slaves had gone home to their
huts, Melas came in from the farm-yard with the lamb. He seemed strangely
"Light the fire on the hearth, wife," he said to Lydia. "There's
something queer about this lamb."
Lydia uncovered the coals, laid on some wood, and blew the fire to a
blaze. By its light Melas examined the lamb carefully. Then he said to
Lydia, who stood near with the Twins, "This ram has but one horn!"
"It can't be!" gasped Lydia. "Whoever heard of a ram with only one horn?"
"Feel it," said Melas briefly. Lydia felt it.
"By all the Gods," she cried, "here is a strange thing!"
"Let us feel," begged Dion and Daphne. They both felt. There was only one
little budding horn to be found, and that was right in the middle of the
"What does it mean?" cried Lydia. "Is it a miracle? Is it a portent? Does
it mean good luck or bad luck?"
"I don't know," said Melas. "Only a priest could tell that."
"Then take it to a priest," said Lydia.
"It is not my sheep," said Melas. "It belongs to Pericles."
"Then you must take it to him and let him decide what shall be done with
it," cried Lydia. "And go soon, I beg of you. I don't wish to have the
creature in the house. It may be bewitched. It may bring all kinds of bad
luck to us."
"It is just as likely to bring good luck as bad," said Melas.
"Is Father really going to take the lamb to Athens?" asked Dion.
"Yes," answered Melas, with surprising promptness, "to-morrow."
"Oh," cried Dion and Daphne at the same instant, "_please_ let me go
"No," said Lydia at once, but Melas said, "Not so fast, wife. Seek
guidance of the Gods. The children would learn much from such a journey,
and their chances for learning are few. We should be gone but two days,
if the sea is calm."
Lydia was silent for a moment while the Twins stood by breathless with
suspense. At last she said, "Well,--if the Gods so will,--we will seek an
omen. You could spend the night at the house of my brother, Phaon, the
stone-cutter, I suppose. I have seen him but seldom since he married his
Athenian wife, but no doubt he would make you welcome for the night."
She rose slowly as she spoke, and threw a handful of grain upon the
family altar, at the same time praying to Hermes, the God of travelers,
for guidance. Then she ran round the court with her hands over her ears,
and as she came back to the group beside the hearth, suddenly uncovered
them again. The Twins were talking together in low tones.
"Oh, do you suppose they will let _me_ go?" Daphne was saying to Dion,
and just at that moment Lydia took her hands from her ears. "Go" was the
first word she heard.
"The omen is favorable," cried Lydia. "You are to go! I prayed to Hermes,
then closed my ears, well knowing that the first word I should hear when
I uncovered them would be the answer to my prayer. That word was 'Go.'
Hasten to bed, my children, for you must make an early start to-morrow."
Daphne could scarcely believe her ears. Not a word had been said about
her staying at home because she was a girl! She flew upstairs to bed lest
some one should suddenly think of it.
THE TWINS GO TO ATHENS
In the gray dawn of the following morning Lydia stood in the doorway of
her house and watched the three figures disappear down the road toward
the little seaport town of Ambelaca. Melas walked ahead, carrying the
lamb wrapped in his cloak, and the Twins followed, bearing between them a
basket in which Lydia had carefully packed two dressed fowls, some fresh
eggs, and a cheese, to be taken to the home of Pericles, besides bread
and cheese for Melas and the children. The Twins were so excited they
would have danced along the road instead of walking if it hadn't been
for the basket, but every time Daphne got too lively, Dion said,
"Remember the eggs," and every time Dion forgot and skipped, Daphne said
the same thing to him.
They had gone nearly a mile in this way, when the road took them to the
crest of a hill, from the top of which it seemed as if they could see the
whole world. Just below them lay the little seaport town of Ambelaca, and
beyond it the blue waters of the bay sparkled and danced in the morning
breeze. On the farther side of the bay they could see the white buildings
of the Piraeus, and beyond that in the distance was a chain of blue
mountains over which the sun was just peeping. That sight was so
beautiful that the children set down their basket, and Melas too stood
still to gaze.
"Those blue mountains beyond the Piraeus are the hills of Athens," said
Melas. "The one with the flat top is the sacred hill of the Acropolis.
And right down there," he added, pointing to a white house on a near-by
hill-top, overlooking the sea, "is the house of Euripides, the Poet. He
has come from the noise and confusion of the city to find a quiet refuge
"Does he write real poetry?" asked Daphne.
"They say he does," answered Melas, "though I never read any of it
"I wish I could write," sighed Daphne, "even if it wasn't poetry! Even if
it were only curses to hang around a scarecrow's neck. I'd like to
"Girls don't need to know how to write," said Melas. "It doesn't make
them any better housekeepers. I don't even see how Dion is going to
learn. There are no schools in Salamis."
"Oh dear!" thought Daphne, "there it is again." But she said nothing and
followed Melas down the hill and into the village street.
Soon they found themselves at the dock where the boat was tied. There
were already passengers on board when the Twins and their Father arrived.
There were two farmers with baskets of eggs and vegetables, and there was
an old woman with a large bundle of bread. Next to her sat a fisherman
with a basket of eels. They were all going to the market in the Piraeus
to sell their produce. Melas with the lamb in his arms climbed in beside
one of the farmers and sat facing the fisherman. Dion sat next to him
with the basket on his knee, and Daphne had to sit beside the fisherman
and the eels. The eels squirmed frightfully, and Daphne squirmed too
every time she looked at them. She was afraid one might get out and wrap
itself around her legs. They did look so horribly like snakes, and Daphne
felt about snakes just as most girls do. However, she knew it was useless
to say anything. There was no other seat for her, and so she remembered
that she was a Spartan and tried not to look at them.
When they were all seated, the rowers took their places on the
rowing-benches, the captain gave the signal, and off they went over the
blue waters toward the distant shore. For a time everything went
smoothly. There was no sound but the rattling of the oarlocks, the chant
of the rowers as they dipped their oars, and the rippling of the water
against the sides of the boat. Up to this time the black lamb had lain
quietly in Melas' arms, but now something seemed to disturb him. He
lifted his head, gave a sudden bleat, and somehow flung himself out of
Melas' arms directly into the basket of eels! Such a squirming as there
was then! The eels squirmed, and the lamb squirmed, and if his legs had
not been securely tied together he undoubtedly would have flopped right
into the water, and then this story would never have been written.
The fisherman gave an angry roar. "Keep your miserable lamb out of my eel
basket," he shouted.
Melas had not waited to be told. He had already seized the lamb, but it
struggled hard to get away, and between the lamb and the eels there was a
disturbance that threatened to upset the boat.
"Sit still," roared the captain. "Have you no sense? Do you all want to
go to the bottom?"
"May Poseidon defend us!" cried the old woman with the bread. "I've no
wish to be made into eel-bait."
"Nor I," said one of the farmers angrily. "You'd better kill your lambs
before you take them to market," he said to Melas; "it will be safer for
the rest of us."
"The lamb is not for market," Melas answered. "I would not dare kill it.
It bears a portent on its brow!"
"A portent?" gasped the old woman.
"May all the Gods defend us! What portent?" Melas pointed to the horn.
"It has but one horn," he said.
They all became still at once. They all looked at the lamb. They all felt
of his horn. Their eyes grew big.
"There was never such a thing known," said the farmer.
"Whose is the lamb?" asked another. "Is it yours?"
"No," said Melas, "it belongs to Pericles the Archon. It was born on his
farm. I am taking it to him so that he may decide what to do with it."
"A portent on the farm of Pericles?" cried the old woman. "I'll warrant
it will be read as favoring him, since he already has a world at his
feet. May the Gods forgive me, but it seems to me they are often more
partial than just."
"Hush, woman," said one of the farmers. "Speak no ill of the Gods, not
until we are safe on the land at any rate."
The woman snapped her mouth shut. The farmers and the fisherman settled
themselves as far away as possible from the Twins and Melas, and nothing
more was said until the boat touched the other shore, and all the
passengers scrambled out upon the dock. The farmers and the fisherman and
the old woman all hastened away to the marketplace, and when they reached
it, they must have kept their tongues busy, for as Melas and the Twins
passed through it on their way to Athens a few moments later, they were
followed by a crowd of curious people who wanted to see the lamb and who
had a great deal to say about what such a miracle might mean.
Melas paid little attention to them, but hastened on his way, and soon
they reached the eastern edge of the town and started along the paved
road which ran from the Piraeus to Athens proper. This road was nearly
five miles long and ran between two high walls of stone some distance
apart. The curious crowd left them at this point and the three walked on
alone through olive orchards and past little vineyards, toward Athens.
"Nobody could get lost on this road," said Dion to his Father, "not even
if he tried! He couldn't get over the walls."
"What are the walls for?" asked Daphne. "It seems silly to build high
walls like this right out in the country."
"Not so silly when you think about it," answered Melas. "These walls were
built by Pericles, so that if any enemy should make an invasion, Athens
would always have a safe access to the sea. Without that she could be
starved within her own walls in a very short time."
"Pericles must be almost as powerful and wise as the Gods themselves, I
should think," said Daphne.
"He does all these things by the help of the Gods, without doubt," said
When they were halfway on their journey to the city, Dion suddenly let
down his side of the basket with a thump.
"Remember the eggs!" cried Daphne sharply, but Dion did not seem to hear.
"Look! Look!" he cried and pointed toward the east. There against the
sky, on the top of the sacred mountain, stood a gigantic figure shining
in the sun.
"What is it?" cried both children at once.
"That is the bronze statue of Athena, the Goddess who gives protection to
Athens," said Melas.
"Did Pericles make that too?" asked Daphne.
Melas laughed. "No," he said; "you must not think Pericles made
everything you may see in Athens. Great as he is, he is not a sculptor."
"Oh, oh," cried Dion, "I want to see the Gorgon's head with snaky locks.
Don't you remember the Stranger said it was on the breastplate of the
"Ugh," said Daphne, shuddering. "I don't believe I'd like it. It must
look just like eels."
"Come, come," said Melas. "At this rate you won't have a chance. The day
will be gone before we know it."
The Twins picked up the basket, and the three marched on toward the city,
and it was not long before they had entered the gate and were passing
along closely built-up streets to the home of the greatest man in Athens.
"This is the place," said Melas at last, stopping at one of the houses.
"This isn't Pericles' house, is it?" cried Daphne. "Why, I thought it
would be the biggest house in Athens, and it looks just like the others."
"Pericles does not put on much style," said Melas, as he lifted the
knocker on the door. "He is too great to need display. He cares more
about fine public buildings for the city than about making his neighbors
envious by living better than they do. Just get the idea out of your head
that greatness means wealth and luxury, or you are no true Spartans, nor
even good Athenians."
As he said this, Melas let the knocker fall. The door was immediately
opened by a porter, who looked surprised when he saw Melas and the Twins.
"What brings you in from the farm?" he said.
"I wish to see your mistress, the wife of Pericles," said Melas, with
dignity. "I have business of importance."
"Come in, come in," said the porter, grinning good-naturedly; "and you,
too, little boys," he added graciously to the Twins, and led the way into
the house. Dion was just opening his mouth to explain that Daphne wasn't
a boy, but Daphne poked him in the ribs and shook her head at him. "Let
him think so," she said, jerking her chiton up shorter through her
They were ushered through a passageway into the court of the house, and
there the porter left them while he went to call his mistress. The house,
though little different from the other houses of well-to-do Athenians,
was still much finer than anything the Twins had ever seen. The floor was
of marble, and the altar of Zeus which stood in the center of the court
was beautifully carved. The doorways which opened into the various rooms
of the house were hung with blue curtains. A room opening into the court
at the back had a hearth-fire in the middle of it, much like that in the
children's own home. Soon a door in the back of the house opened, and
Telesippe, the wife of Pericles, appeared. She was a large coarse-looking
woman, and with her were three boys, her own two and Alcibiades, a
handsome lad, who was a ward of Pericles and a member of his family.
Melas approached her and opened his cloak.
"Why, Melas, what have you there?" cried Telesippe in amazement, as she
saw the little black rain.
"A portent, Madam," said Melas with solemnity. "This ram, born on your
husband's farm, is a prodigy, it has but one horn. I have brought it to
you, that the omen might be interpreted. I trust it may prove a favorable
Telesippe looked at the lamb and turned pale. She struck her hands
together. The porter and another slave at once appeared.
"Go to the temple and bring Lampon, the priest," she said to the slave;
and to the porter she added, "and you, the moment the priest arrives,
call your master."
The slave instantly disappeared, and the porter went back to his post by
the entrance. Although Telesippe was evidently disturbed and anxious
about the portent, she now turned her attention to the basket, which Dion
and Daphne had placed before her, and when their luncheon had been taken
out, she called a slave woman and gave the fowl and the eggs and cheese
into her care.
The three boys, meanwhile, crowded around Melas and the lamb and asked
questions of all sorts about it and about the farm. It seemed but a short
time when the porter opened the door once more and ushered in the priest.
The Twins had never seen a priest, since there were none on the island,
and they looked with awe upon this man who could read omens and interpret
dreams. He was a tall, spare man with piercing dark eyes. He was dressed
in a long white robe, and wore a wreath of laurel upon his brow, and his
black hair fell over his neck in long, straggling locks.
No sooner had he entered the court and taken his place beside the
altar than the blue curtains of a door at the right parted and a tall
noble-looking man entered the room. Dion and Daphne knew at once that it
must be Pericles. No other man, they thought, could look so majestic.
Their knees shook under them, and they felt just as you would feel if you
were suddenly to meet the President of the United States. Pericles was
not alone. A man also tall, and wearing a long white cloak, followed
him through the curtains and joined the group about the altar.
"The Stranger!" gasped Daphne to Dion in a whisper. "Don't you remember?
He said he knew Pericles!"
The Stranger spoke to Melas and laid his hand playfully upon the heads of
"These are old friends of mine," he said to Pericles. "I stayed at their
house one night last spring."
Pericles had already greeted the priest. Now he smiled pleasantly at the
children, and spoke to Melas.
"I hear a miracle has occurred on my farm," he said.
For answer Melas showed the lamb, which now began to jump and wriggle in
"There can be no doubt that the portent concerns the Great Archon," said
the priest solemnly. "See how the ram leaps the moment he appears!"
Pericles beckoned to the Stranger. "What do you think of this,
Anaxagoras?" he said, smiling.
"I am no soothsayer," answered the Stranger, smiling too. "The priest is
the one to expound the riddle."
Lampon now came forward, and, with an air of importance, pulled a few
hairs from the lamb's fleece, and laid them upon the live coals of the
altar. He watched the hair curl up as it burned and bent his ear to
listen. "It burns with a crackling sound," he said; "the omen is
therefore favorable to your house, O Pericles. Instead of two horns, the
animal has but one! Instead of two factions in Athens, one favorable to
Pericles, one opposed, there will henceforth be but one! All the city
will unite under the leadership of Pericles the Olympian."
"The Gods be praised!" exclaimed Telesippe, with fervor.
The priest clapped his hands and bowed his head, and Dion saw him peer
cautiously through the tangled locks which fell over his face to see how
Pericles had taken this prophecy. The Great Archon was standing quietly
beside Anaxagoras, and neither one gave any sign of being impressed by
the oracle. The priest scowled under his wreath.
"What shall be done with the ram?" asked Telesippe, when Lampon again
lifted his head.
"Let it be sent to the temple as an offering. Since it is black it must
be sacrificed to the Gods of the lower world," answered the priest.
Telesippe at once called a slave. Melas gave the ram into his hands; the
priest received a present of money from Pericles, and, followed by the
slave with the ram, disappeared through the doorway.
"You did well to bring the ram to me at once," said Pericles to Melas
when the door closed behind the priest. "Take this present for your
pains," and he placed a gold-piece in Melas' hand. "And these little
boys," he added, smiling pleasantly at the Twins, "they too have done
their share in bringing the portent. They must have a reward as well." He
gave them each a coin, and, when he had received their thanks, at once
left the house, followed by Anaxagoras. The Twins and Melas then said
good-bye to Telesippe and the boys and took their leave.
When they turned the corner into the next street, Melas said with a sigh,
"There, that's off my mind. And I hope there will be no more miracles for
"If it would take us to the house of Pericles every time, I'd like them
at least once a week!" cried Dion, looking longingly at the coin Pericles
had given him.
"So would I," Daphne added fervently. "Even if Pericles didn't give us
anything at all, I'd come to Athens just to look at him! He looks just
like the Gods. I know he does."
Melas laughed. "You're just like the Athenians," he said, "They call him
the Olympian because they feel the same way about him. Give me your
coins," he added. "I will put them in my purse for safe-keeping."
"Anyway," said Daphne, as she and Dion gave their Father the money, "I'm
glad the portent was favorable to Pericles. The old woman on the boat was
right. She said it would be."
THE FESTIVAL OF ATHENA
The day had begun so early that it was still morning when Melas and the
Twins left the house of Pericles and took their way toward the Agora,
which was the business and social center of Athens. Here were the markets
where everything necessary to the daily life of the Athenians was sold.
The Twins had never dreamed there were so many things to be found in the
world. Not only were there fruits, meats, fish, vegetables, and flowers,
but there were stalls filled with beautiful pottery or with dyed and
embroidered garments gorgeous in color, and even with books. The books
were not bound as ours are. They were written on rolls of parchment and
were piled up in the stalls like sticks of wood. Around the marketplace
there were arcades supported by marble columns, and ornamented by rows of
bronze statues. In the center stood a magnificent altar to the twelve
Gods of Olympus, whom the people of Hellas believed to be the greatest of
their many Gods. There were temples opening on the Agora, and beyond
the temples there were the hills of Athens, with the Sacred Mount of the
Acropolis, the holiest of all holy places, bounding it on the south.
Melas had seen all these sights before, but to the Twins it was like
stepping right into the middle of an enchanted world. Melas took them
each by the hand, and found an out-of-the-way corner near a stall where
young girls were selling wreaths, and there they ate their luncheon,
while they watched the people swarming about them.
The flowers-sellers, the bread-women, and some flute-girls were almost
the only women in sight, but the whole Agora was full of men. There were
fathers of families buying provisions for the day. Each was followed by a
slave with a basket, for no Athenian gentleman would carry his own
packages. There were always slaves to do that. There were grave men in
long cloak-like garments with fillets around their heads who walked back
and forth talking together. There were boys, followed by their
"pedagogues," old slaves who carried their books for them, and saw to it
that their young charges got into as little mischief as possible, as they
went about the streets.
Suddenly at some signal which neither Melas nor the Twins saw, the whole
crowd began to move toward the south.
"Where are they going?" asked Dion.
"Listen to that little Spartan savage," said one of the wreath-sellers,
laughing. "He doesn't even know it's the regular festival of Athena. Run
along, bumpkin, and see the sights."
Melas gave the girl a black look. He didn't like to have Dion called a
"Spartan savage," nor a "bumpkin" either, but he knew very well Spartans
might expect scant courtesy in Athens, so he said nothing, but he rose
from his corner at once and, telling the children to follow, started
after the crowd.
They reached the steep incline which led up to the Acropolis, and, still
following the crowd, had gone part way to the summit, when there was a
mighty pushing and jostling among the people, and loud voices cried,
"Make way for the sacred procession." The crowd parted, and Melas and
the Twins were pushed back toward one side, but as they were lucky enough
to be on the border of the crowd, instead of being pressed farther back,
they were able to see the sacred procession of the Goddess Athena as it
mounted the long slope and disappeared through the great gate.
In one of the oldest temples on the Acropolis, called the Erechtheum,
there was an ancient wooden statue of Athena which the Athenians believed
had fallen from heaven. It was very sacred in their eyes, and every year
they celebrated a festival when the robes and ornaments of the statue
were taken off and cleaned. This year the maidens of Athens had
embroidered a new and beautiful robe, and it was being carried in state
to the temple to be offered to the Goddess and placed upon her statue.
The Twins had never seen so many people in all their lives before. The
procession was headed by some of the chief men of Athens, and foremost
among them the children recognized Pericles. Near him walked Anaxagoras
the Philosopher, with Phidias, the great sculptor, and Ictinus, the
architect of the new temple of which the Stranger had told the Twins on
the spring evening so long before. There were also Sophocles the
dramatist and Euripides the poet. Melas recognized them all, for they
were known to every one and he had seen them at the house of Pericles or
walking about the Agora on previous journeys. He pointed them out to the
"That queer snub-nosed man back of Sophocles is Socrates the
philosopher," he said. "He is a friend of Pericles also, though he is
poor and queer, and is always standing about the market-place talking to
any one who will listen to him."
"Are there two philosophers in Athens?" asked Dion. "I thought Anaxagoras
was the philosopher."
Melas laughed. "Philosophers are as thick in Athens as bees in a hive,"
he said, "and poets too."
The beautiful embroidered robe, borne on a chariot shaped like a ship,
now appeared in the procession, and the crowd breathed a long sigh of
wonder and admiration as it passed. Then came a long row of young
girls bearing baskets and jars upon their shoulders. They were followed
by older women, for women were allowed to take part in this festival.
After them came youths on horseback, and then more youths leading
garlanded oxen for the sacrifice. The procession was so long that the end
of it was still winding through the streets below some time after the
head had reached the top of the incline. Right up the steep slope it
streamed, between the gaping crowds massed on either side, and when the
very end of it had passed out of sight, the people closed in behind it
and swarmed over the level height of the sacred hill.
Melas and the children pushed their way with the others, but the crowd
was so great and the movement so slow that when at last they got near the
sacred altars before the Erechtheum, the ceremonies were over and the air
was already filled with smoke and the smell of roasting meat.
It was late afternoon before the feasting was over, and, meanwhile, the
entire hill-top of the Acropolis was covered with moving crowds. As a
part of the festival, there were all sorts of games and side shows. Dion
and Daphne were so busy watching sword-swallowers, and tumblers, and men
performing all sorts of strange and wonderful tricks, they almost forgot
entirely the Gorgon's head with the snaky locks, which the Stranger had
told them about, and which Dion so much wished to see. Daphne was the
first to remember it.
"I'm going to see the new temple that Pericles is building over there.
Don't you want to see it, too?" said Melas to the Twins. "Where?" said
Dion. Melas pointed to a great heap of marble blocks toward the southern
side of the Acropolis. It was then that Daphne thought about the statue.
"Dion wants to see the Gorgon's head," she said.
"Well, then," answered Melas, "hurry up about it, for it is getting late
and we must soon be starting for your uncle's house."
The two children trotted away toward the great bronze statue near the
entrance without another word, and it was not until they were quite out
of sight that Melas remembered he had not told them where to meet him.
"I shall find them by the statue anyway," he said to himself, and went on
examining the foundations of the Parthenon.
Meanwhile the children ran round to the front of the statue and gazed up
at the breastplate of the Goddess, upon which Phidias had carved the
Gorgon's head. There it was with its staring eyes and twisting locks,
looking right down at them.
"Ugh! I don't like it a bit better than I thought I should," said Daphne,
covering her eyes. "It's worse than eels."
"I'd rather see the man swallowing swords any day," answered Dion. "Let's
go and see if we can't find him again," and off they went toward a crowd
of people gathered about a little booth beyond the Erechtheum.
It was not until they had seen him swallow swords twice and eat fire
once, and the conjurer had begun to pack his things to go away that the
Twins thought at all about time. When at last they woke up to the fact
that the sun was setting behind the purple hills, and looked about them,
there were very few people left on the Acropolis, and their Father was
nowhere to be seen. The two children ran as fast as they could go to the
place where the Parthenon was building, but there was no one there. Even
the workmen had gone. Then they ran back and looked down the long incline
up which the procession had come in the morning, but Melas was not to be
seen. The Twins returned to the statue of Athena, but no one awaited them
there. The Gorgon's head looked down at them with its dreadful staring
eyes, and Daphne thought she saw one of the snaky locks move.
"Oh, let's run," she cried.
"Where?" asked Dion.
"I don't know," said Daphne. "Anywhere away from here! Let's go back to
the Erechtheum. Perhaps Father will be there looking for us."
They went all round the old temple, which was partly in ruins, and when
they found no trace of their Father, sat down miserably upon the steps of
the great porch of the Maidens on the southern side. It was called the
Porch of the Maidens because, instead of columns of marble, statues of
beautiful maidens supported the roof. Daphne looked up at them.
"They look strong, like Mother," she said. "It doesn't seem quite so
lonesome here with them. Maybe we shall have to stay here all night."
"Don't you think we could find Uncle Phaon's house by ourselves?" asked
"Oh," cried Daphne, shuddering, "never! We couldn't even by daylight, and
now it is almost dark."
"Anyway," said Dion, "we're safer being lost here than anywhere else in
Athens. It's where the Gods live. Maybe they'll take care of us."
"We might sacrifice something on an altar," said Daphne, "and pray, the
way Father does."
"We haven't a thing to sacrifice," answered Dion. "We haven't anything to
eat even for ourselves."
They were so tired and hungry and discouraged by this time that they
didn't say another word. They just sat still in the gathering darkness,
and wished with all their hearts that they had never come to Athens at
They were startled by hearing footsteps above them on the porch. The
stone balustrade was so high, and the children were crouched so far below
it near the ground, that they could not be seen by people above unless
they should lean over the balustrade and look down. The twins snuggled
closer together in the darkness and kept very still. Suddenly they heard
voices above them; there were two men on the porch talking together in
low tones. One was the voice of Lampon the priest; the children both
recognized it at once.
"Look over there," it was saying. "Pericles is building new temples in
Athens, to the dishonor and neglect of the oldest and most sacred of all.
Pericles does not fear the Gods, even though they have raised him to
his proud position. He is a traitor to our holy office, and I hate him."
"You speak strongly," said the other voice.
"It isn't only that he neglects the old temples and refuses to restore
them, but he actually builds a new one before our eyes on this holy
hill," went on the voice of Lampon. "It is not only an impiety in itself,
but an affront to you and your holy office. I myself saw his scorn and
indifference this very day. I was called to his house by his pious wife
to see a prodigy. A ram was brought from his country estate that had but
one horn,--a marvel, truly!"
"How did you read the portent?" asked the other voice.
"As favorable to him, of course," answered Lampon. "What else could I do
with Pericles himself watching me, and with that old fox of an Anaxagoras
by his side?"
"The Gods punish people who do not believe in them," said the other
voice, "and we are the priests of the Gods. Should we not do all we can
to bring such wicked men to justice?"
"Yes, but," said Lampon, "the people adore Pericles. They would not
believe evil of him. We must act carefully, lest we ourselves receive the
blow that we aim at him."
"I have found out that he went to the boat-race at the Piraeus this
afternoon," answered the voice of the other priest, "and after that he
goes to a banquet at the house of the rich Hipponicus, and will return
late to his home. If we could waylay him and make him angry, he might say
something blasphemous to us, not knowing we were priests. He might even
offer us violence! Disrespect to a priest is disrespect to the Gods, and
no man in Athens, not even Pericles, can insult the representatives of
the Gods and live."
"A good idea, truly, and worthy of the priest of Erechtheus," said the
voice of Lampon.
"We will doff our priestly robes and appear as men of the people.
Pericles must not suspect who we are, or of course he will be too clever
to allow himself to speak the insults we know only too well he would like
to offer us as priests. We can each be witness for the other; and he
cannot deny our report."
If Daphne had not sneezed just at this moment, everything that happened
after that would almost surely have been quite different. But she did
sneeze! The air was damp and chill, she was sitting on a cold stone step,
and a loud "kerchoo" suddenly startled the two plotters on the porch. The
children were so frightened they could not move, but they rolled up their
eyes, and over the edge of the balustrade they saw two shadowy heads
looking down at them.
"Who's there?" said the voice of Lampon.
The children were too frightened to answer.
"Bring a torch," cried the voice of the other priest, and soon the two
heads were again hanging over the balustrade and a torch in the hand of
Lampon threw light on the upturned faces of the Twins.
"Who are you?" said the priest of the Erechtheum, "and what are you doing
here at this hour, you miserable little spies?"
"Oh, please, we aren't spies at all," cried Dion. He didn't know what a
spy was, but he thought it safe to say he wasn't one. "We are lost."
"Come up here at once." It was Lampon who spoke.
The children, half dead with terror, went round to the other side of the
porch, climbed the steps to the entrance, and stood trembling before the
priests. Lampon lifted his torch and looked at them carefully.
"Didn't I see you this morning at the house of Pericles?" he asked
sternly. The Twins nodded.
"Who sent you here?" he asked.
"Nobody sent us. We're lost," cried poor Daphne.
"Humph!" said the other priest. "That's a likely story."
"Did you hear what we were talking about?" asked Lampon. He took Dion by
the shoulder, and as he did not answer at once, shook him.
"Come, yes or no," he said.
"Ye-e-es," stammered Dion.
The two priests looked at each other, and Lampon said: "They are the
children of the farmer who brought the lamb to Pericles. They live on his
"It will be a long time before they see the farm again," answered the
other shortly. "They say they are lost. Very well, we will see to it that
those words are made true. What do you say to shipping them to Africa?
They would make a pretty pair of slaves, and a ship sails for Alexandria
to-morrow. It can easily be arranged. I know the captain."
"A good idea!" said Lampon. "Since these children are in a sense wards of
Pericles, they are for that reason the more likely to be enemies of the
Gods. It would be an act of piety to send them where they could do no
harm by betraying the secrets of the temple."
The children were speechless with fright. Their two captors pushed them
roughly before them into the temple and drove them through the great
gloomy interior, lighted only by a few torches, to a small closet-like
room somewhere in the rear. As they walked, huge black shadows cast by
the torch of Lampon danced grotesquely before them. At the closet the two
priests stopped to unlock the door.
"Here is a safe harbor for you for the night," said Lampon, as he pushed
the children into the closet. "To-morrow we may find a yet safer place
for you," and with these words he locked them in.
The children were so exhausted by hunger and fright that, even though
they were Spartans, they sat down on the cold stone floor and wept in
each other's arms.
"Oh, Mother, Mother," sobbed Daphne, "why did we ever leave you?"
"Don't you remember," said Dion, struggling with his tears, "that the
signs were favorable? It must be all right somehow, for the word Mother
heard was 'Go.'"
"If I only hadn't sneezed!" sobbed Daphne.
"But a sneeze is always a good sign," said Dion.
"Well, anyway," said Daphne bravely, though her voice shook and her teeth
chattered, "crying won't do any good. Let's feel around and see if there
is anything in this room."
It was dark, except for a gray patch of dim light from a window high up
in the wall. Dion and Daphne kept close together and went carefully round
the room, feeling the wall with their hands. Dion stumbled against
something. It was a chest where the priests' robes were kept.
"Do you suppose we could move it?" whispered Daphne. "If we could, maybe
we could look out of the window and see where we are."
They both got on the same side of it and pushed with all their strength.
The chest moved a little and made a horrible screeching sound on the
"Sh-sh-sh," whispered Daphne, as if the chest could hear. They held their
breath to listen for footsteps. There was no sound outside. They waited a
little while and pushed again. Again the chest screeched, and again they
stopped to listen. After many such efforts it was finally moved under
the window, and the two sprang up on the top of it to look out. By
standing on tiptoe they could just see over the sill. There was no glass,
for there was no window-glass anywhere at that time, and the cool night
air blew in on their faces. The Acropolis was bathed in moonlight. There
was no sound outside, and no one in sight anywhere. Apparently the world
was asleep. Suddenly the stillness was broken by the hoot of an owl, and
they could see the great bird flying toward them.
"It's Athena's own bird," whispered Dion, "and it's flying from the east.
That means good luck. Oh, maybe we can get away from this dreadful place
"Let's pray to Athena," quavered Daphne. "We can't sacrifice, but maybe
she'll hear us just the same."
The two little prisoners spread their hands toward the sky, and Dion
whispered, "Help us, O Athena, just the way you helped Perseus kill the
"Give us wisdom to get out of this place and to save Pericles from these
wicked men," added Daphne.
"Sh-sh," whispered Dion, "they're priests."
"They are wicked, anyway, whatever they are, to want to kill Pericles,"
said Daphne stoutly. Then she added: "Maybe that's why we're here! Maybe
we could warn him about the priests if we could just get out. Anyway,
we're Spartans, and we've got to stop crying and do our best."
Dion put his hands on the window-sill and gave a jump.
"I believe I could get up here if you'd give me a boost," he said.
"But how shall I getup?" asked Daphne. "There'll be nobody to boost me."
"I'll pull you," said Dion.
"You might fall out backwards, or fall in head first doing it," said
"Let's try, anyway," said Dion.
Daphne boosted, and Dion climbed, and in another minute he was sitting on
the window-sill with one foot hanging down outside and the other firmly
braced against the side of the window. He held on with his left hand and,
leaning over, was able with his right to clasp Daphne. She hooked her
left arm on his, put her hand on the sill and leaped. The next instant
she was lying on her stomach over the sill, and Dion was helping her to a
"It isn't so very far to drop," whispered Dion. "I've dropped from the
balustrade into the court lots of times at home."
"All right," said Daphne, "You drop first, and I'll follow."
Dion turned, stuck his head out as far as possible, and looked in every
direction. Then he let himself down from the sill, hung to it for a
moment by his hands, and dropped like a cat to the ground. He flattened
himself against the wall of the temple, and in another moment Daphne was
safe beside him.
"Now," whispered Dion, "we'll run like everything around behind the
temple to the statue of Athena."
Hand in hand through the moonlight they sped, and were soon in the shadow
of the great bronze statue.
"Let's wait here a minute and look around," whispered Dion.
They crouched down in the shadow and looked back. Their hearts almost
stopped beating when they saw two cloaked figures emerge from the temple,
and they recognized Lampon and the priest of the Erechthcum. The two men
passed so near the statue that the children could plainly hear their
voices, though they spoke in low tones.
"We will wait at the head of the street of the Amphorae," they heard
Lampon say. "He is sure to pass that way. It will relieve my tongue to
tell him some things in the guise of a common ruffian which I could not
say as a priest."
"You did well to recognize those brats," said the priest of the
Erechtheum. "They might have upset all our plans if we had not kept them
The two brats behind the statue shook their fists at the retreating
figures. They waited until the sound of footsteps had died away, and then
they made a quick dash from the shadow and flew down the incline
up which the procession had come in the morning. In a moment they were at
the bottom. They could just see the dark figures of the priests
disappearing toward the north. The children shrank back again into
"What shall we do next?" said Daphne. "We don't know our way anywhere at
all. We don't even know where our uncle lives."
"What was the name of that rich man at whose house they said Pericles was
going to the banquet?" asked Dion, with a sudden inspiration.
"Oh, dear," said Daphne, "I can't think. Let me see. Hip---Hip--"
"Ponicus," finished Dion, "that's it! Surely any Athenian would know
where a rich man like Hipponicus lives. We must just go along until we
meet some one we can ask."
"Suppose we should meet Lampon!" shuddered Daphne.
"We shan't," said Dion; "they've gone off that way. They are going to the
street of the Amphorae. We should recognize that street. It has the long
row of vases, don't you remember? We went through it this morning."
"If we can find the house of Hipponicus and warn Pericles about the
priests, I'm sure he'll take care of us," said Daphne.
Encouraged by this thought, the two children passed boldly out of the
shadow and ran westward. They passed a few people, but for the most part,
the street was deserted, and they met no one they dared speak to. At last
they came to the city wall and a gate.
"Now what shall we do?" murmured Daphne. "We can't go any farther this
"Why, I know this place," Dion whispered joyfully. "It's the gate that
opens into the paved road to the Piraeus. It's the very gate we came
through this morning! The luck is surely with us now."
"Let's stay here and speak to the first person that comes along," said
Daphne. "I'm sure it will be the right one."
The two children waited with beating hearts. A tall figure now appeared
walking toward the gate, followed by a slave carrying a torch. As the man
drew near, the children went boldly out to meet him.
"Can you tell us the way to the house of Hipponicus?" asked Dion
The man stopped, and the slave held the torch so his master could see the
faces of the children.
"By all the Gods," said the man, "what are you children doing out here at
this time of the night?"
"The Stranger! Anaxagoras!" cried Daphne. "Oh, I knew Athena would help
us!" and the two children threw themselves into his arms, so great was
their relief and joy.
They told him the whole story of their adventure on the Acropolis and why
they wanted to find the house of Hipponicus.
"Well," said Anaxagoras, when they had finished, "I live in the Piraeus.
I was on my way home, but now I shall go with you to the house of
Hipponicus, and you shall tell your story to Pericles himself."
Under the guidance and protection of Anaxagoras and the slave, the
children were soon ushered into the court of the richest house in Athens,
and then Anaxagoras sent a message to Pericles, who was dining with a
group of men in a large room opening off the court. When the slave opened
the door of the banquet-room, the children caught a glimpse of men
reclining on couches, with wreaths about their heads, and heard for an
instant the sound of laughter and gay voices. The smell of food came
also, and the Twins sniffed the delicious odor hungrily. Soon Pericles
appeared, wearing a wreath upon his brow, and, as Daphne thought, looking
more like a God than ever. Anaxagoras told him the story which the Twins
had told to him.
"A very neat plot! Is it not?" said Pericles gravely, when Anaxagoras had
"They said something about you too," said Daphne, lifting her eyes to
"Indeed!" said Anaxagoras. "So I am in it, too! What did they say?"
"They said you were an old fox," said Daphne. The two men laughed.
"I trust I may live up to their opinion of me," said Anaxagoras.
Then Pericles looked at the children and laid his hand gently upon their
"So you ran alone through Athens at night to warn me, did you?" he said.
"And you have been in great danger for my sake? I shall know how to deal
with those two pious old serpents of the Acropolis. Thanks to you, I
shall not fall into their coils. And Pericles does not forget an
obligation. Now, my little Spartans," he added, tipping up their chins
and looking at their pale and pinched faces, "it's time you had something
He clapped his hands and a slave appeared. "Say to Hipponicus that two
friends of Pericles are in the court, and he begs that they may be served
there with the best the house affords."
The slave disappeared and soon returned bringing such a feast as the
Twins had never tasted in their whole lives before. Pericles waited,
talking quietly with Anaxagoras, until their hunger was partly appeased,
and then he spoke to them again.
"Now, my brave Spartans," he said, "since you have been so considerate of
my safety, it is well that I should look after yours. Have you any idea
where your Father may be found? He is probably searching the town for
"We were to spend the night at the house of my Uncle Phaon, the
stone-cutter," said Dion, "but we don't know where he lives."
"Phaon," said Pericles, stroking his beard. "Is he not a workman in the
shop of Phidias the sculptor? He has a stone-cutter of that name, and,
now I think of it, he is called Phaon the Spartan."
"That must be my uncle," said Dion, "but I don't know where he lives. I
have never been to Athens before, and Uncle Phaon does not come to the
"We can find out from Phidias," said Anaxagoras, and, turning to his
slave, he said, "Run quickly to the house of Phidias and say to him that
Pericles the Archon wishes to know where to find the house of Phaon the
The slave sped away and returned in a short time with the message that
Phaon lived near the northwest gate. "And I know the way there," added
"Very well," said Anaxagoras. "We will take these children there. Then I
will await you at your house, Pericles, for I wish to hear the end of the
story, and to know how you deal with those two old traitors."
"Now that I know their purpose," said Pericles, "it is easy to defeat it!
I shall return no word to their abuse. When I reach my house, I shall
politely offer my assailant the escort of my slave, to light him home
with his torch."
Anaxagoras laughed heartily.
"Good," he cried, "and humorous as well. A torch to light up their evil
faces is the last thing in the world they would wish to have. You could
not devise a more perfect plan to foil their wicked schemes."
"I wish all plots might be as easily frustrated," said Pericles gravely.
Then, turning to the children, he added kindly: "You have nothing further
to fear. My good friend Anaxagoras and his slave will see you safely to
your uncle's house, and he will surely know where to find your Father."
"You won't let Lampon catch us and sell us for slaves, will you?" begged
Daphne, shuddering. "They said they would sell us in Alexandria."
Pericles' brow darkened. "They threatened that, did they?" he exclaimed.
"The wretches shall not lay a finger on you! Pericles the Archon has said
it. And now you must hurry away. Your Father will be torn with anxiety
until he sees you again. To-morrow morning I shall send a messenger to
your uncle's house with a package for you, which you must not open until
you are safe at home again. And when you grow up to be strong, brave
men, I shall expect you to be generals in the army of Athens at the very
"I can't grow up to be a strong, brave man," said Daphne in a very small
voice. "I wish I could. But I'm a girl."
"A girl!" cried Pericles in amazement, "and so brave! Surely then you
will at least be the mother of heroes some time. But after this stay more
quietly at home, my child. Women should have no history." And he
disappeared through the door into the banquet-hall.
When the Twins, accompanied by Anaxagoras and the slave, finally reached
the house of their uncle, they found the door open and people hurrying
excitedly to and fro, carrying torches in their hands. In the court of
the house stood Melas, talking with Phaon and his wife.
"I have searched every nook and cranny of the Acropolis," Melas was
saying. "I do not see how they could have escaped me."
"It's a punishment of the Gods," said the wife of Phaon. "You should not
have let Daphne run the streets like a boy. It's against nature. No
decent Athenian girl would be allowed to. I never put my nose out of my
Mother's house exeept on the days of women's festivals until I was
"But, my dear," said Phaon mildly, "you forget the Spartans are
"I should say they were!" snapped the wife of Phaon, "and now they may
see what comes of it. It's my opinion these wild children have fallen off
the cliffs on the north side of the Acropolis."
Melas shuddered, sank down upon a stool, and hid his face. Just at that
moment there was a sudden rush of feet behind him and he felt four arms
flung about his neck. Spartan though he was, Melas trembled, and his eyes
were wet as he clasped his children in his arms, Anaxagoras stood in the
doorway a moment smiling at the happy group, and then gently slipped away
without waiting for any thanks.
Early the next morning a basket addressed to the "brave children of Melas
the Spartan, from Pericles the Archon," was delivered by a slave at the
door of Phaon. The Twins had been eagerly expecting it, and when it
arrived they were no less eager to start for home, since Pericles had
told them not to open it until they were under their own roof once more.
Their aunt, the wife of Phaon, was filled with curiosity to know the
contents. Moreover, since she had learned the whole story of the night
before and knew that the children had won the favor and were now under
the avowed protection of Pericles, her respect for them and for Spartans
in general had greatly increased.
"Let us see what gifts the great Pericles has sent you!" she cried, when
the package came.
"No, no," said Daphne hastily. "He said we should not open it until we
"Very well, then," said the wife of Phaon, sulkily, "only then I shall
never see what's in it."
"Well," said Daphne piously, "you remember about Pandora, don't you? I
wouldn't dare open it until the time comes!"
To this the aunt could make no reply, Melas, too, had no wish to linger
in Athens after the experience of the day before. The children were in
terror of meeting Lampon, and Melas himself felt it would be a great
load off his mind to get them safely back to their quiet house on Salamis
once more and into their Mother's care. So they bade Phaon and his wife
good-bye and started before noon for the Piræus.
At the dock they found the boat ready for its return journey across the
bay. Nearby was the large black hull of an African ship, bound for
Alexandria. Dion pointed to it.
"Suppose we were on that this minute," he said to Daphne, and Daphne
covered her eyes and shook with horror at the mere thought of it.
It was nearly night when the three weary wanderers climbed the last
hill and turned from the roadway into the path which led to the old
farm-house. Lydia was standing in the doorway with Chloe behind her,
smiling, and Argos came bounding out to meet them, wagging his tail and
barking for joy.
It was a happy party that gathered around the hearth fire that night.
Lydia had prepared a wonderful feast to greet the travelers. There were
roast chicken, and sausages too, and goat's milk, and figs. They opened
the basket by fire-light, and if all the Christmases of your whole life
had been rolled into one, it couldn't have been more wonderful to you
than the gifts of Pericles were to Dion and Daphne. There was a soft robe
of scarlet for each of them, with golden clasps to fasten it. There were
a purse of gold coins and two beautiful parchment books--all written by
hand, for of course there were no printed books in those days. There were
gifts for their Father and Mother, too, and, best of all, a letter
written with Pericles' own hand and addressed to "Euripides the Poet, of
Salamis." With it came a note to Melas, saying he might read the letter,
as he wished him to know its contents. This was the letter:--
"Pericles the Archon to Euripides the Poet, Greetings.
"The bearers of this letter are friends of mine who have rendered me a
great service. By their timely warning I was enabled to foil a plot to
make me appear to the public as an enemy of the Gods. As sufficient
recompense I commend them to your friendship. No greater service can be
rendered Athens than to raise up noble and patriotic defenders. To this
end I commit these children to your guidance, the girl no less than
the boy. Give them, I beg, the benefit of your wisdom, since they have
proven themselves worthy of such honor, and Athens shall one day thank
you for this service."
And so it was that Dion and Daphne, the Spartans, not only mastered the
learning of their time, but also became the friends of Pericles the
Athenian and of Euripides the Poet, and perhaps now wander with them in
the Elysian Fields.
* * * * *
A study period for the working out of the pronunciation of the more
difficult names and words will be the only preparation for reading _The
Spartan Twins_ needed by the average fifth grade class. The story can
usually be read at sight in the sixth grade.
It will admirably supplement the study of Greek History in these grades.
The essential thing is for the teacher to provide the proper background
for the story. The value in the history of the Greeks lies in the lessons
of bravery and of love of country that it brings us, and in the
inspiration and beauty of the myths, dramas, poems, and orations, the
statues and temples that survive to our time. The fundamental aim in its
study in the fifth and sixth grades is not so much to store the child's
mind with details as to make such impressions as will guide him to a
later appreciation of why we remember the Greeks, and what we have
learned from them.
In these days of a "new internationalism," the teacher's most immediate
duty is to bring her pupils to a realization of what Americanism and
democracy mean, and that each is a development from the past. To do this,
she should explain that before there were immigrants, there were
discoverers and colonists, from Spain, England, and France; and that
these countries had their origin in colonies from Rome, herself a colony
from Greece. The teacher should explain that the spirit in these ancient
cities that inspired colonization, trade, and empire was the inherent and
ineradicable desire of men, first, for the opportunity of ruling
themselves, and then to establish bonds of union against foreign
aggression. Children will then perceive that the ancient Greeks were men
quite like ourselves; and that they began the ways of government which we
have, and which our forefathers brought to America. So much for what we
learned from the Greeks.
As to why we remember them, let the teacher recall the stories already
familiar through supplementary reading in literature, the Golden Fleece,
Hercules, the Siege of Troy, the Wanderings of Ulysses; let her point out
Greek cities which still exist, Athens, Marseilles, Alexandria,
Constantinople; let her tell the stories of Marathon, of Leonidas and
Thermopylae, and of Salamis; let her show pictures of Athens, the most
splendid city of ancient Greece, of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the
Venus of Milo, the Hermes of Praxiteles, the Discus Thrower, and so on.
This book affords opportunity to contrast the way in which children were
brought up in Sparta with the way in which they were brought up in
Athens. The ideals of these two city-states also may be contrasted.
Although cities might have separate interests, it should be shown that
throughout Greece there were interests in common, of which the people
were reminded through the Olympic games.
The teacher is referred to the following volumes for further assistance
in re-creating the atmosphere of ancient Greece:--
Tappan's _The Story of the Greek People_, _Old World Hero Stories_, and
_Our European Ancestors_; Hawthorne's _Wonder-Book_ and _Tanglewood
Tales_; Peabody's _Old Creek Folk Stories_; Bryant's translation of the
_Odyssey_ and of the _Iliad_; Palmer's translation of the _Odyssey_;
Hopkinson's _Greek Leaders_; Plutarch's _Alexander the Great_; Marden's
_Greece and the Ægean Islands_; Hurll's _Greek Sculpture_ and _How to
Show Pictures to Children_; _Masterpieces of Greek Literature_.
Like all the other Volumes in the "Twins Series," _The Spartan Twins_
furnishes ample subjects for dramatization. The unique illustrations
should be of assistance, and other illustrations in most of the books
referred to above also will help to show scenery, costumes, furniture,
The story will suggest many topics for class discussion, and in addition
such questions as the following will help the pupils to visualize the
Greece of the past:--
1. Why would ancient Greece have been a pleasant country to live in?
2. How would it affect your home town if it were shut off from all
3. Judging from the Greek stories, what sort of men did they regard as
heroes? What sort of men do we regard as heroes to-day?
4. In the stories of gods and heroes, are there scenes that would make
5. Imagine you are Pericles, and make a speech telling the Athenians why
they ought to beautify their city.
6. What could be done to beautify the place in which you live?
7. Which one of the Greeks or their heroes do you regard as the greatest
8. What was good and what was not good in the training of the Spartan
9. In what respects was the training of the Athenian boys better?
10. How do the ideas of one child become known to other children? How
do the ideas of one country become known to other countries?
11. Had the Greeks good reasons for emigrating?
12. Imagine that you are an ancient Greek and tell why you became a
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