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Chapter 1 - The Three Golden Apples | Chapter 2 - The Pomegranate Seeds | Chapter 3 - The Chimaera | Chapter 4 - The Golden Touch | Chapter 5 - The Gorgon's Head | Chapter 6 - The Dragon's Teeth | Chapter 7 - The Miraculous Pitcher | Chapter 8 - The Paradise of Children | Chapter 9 - The Cyclops | Chapter 11 - The Giant Builder | Chapter 12 - How Odin Lost His Eye

Chapter 6 - The Dragon's Teeth



 

Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix, the three sons of King Agenor, and their
little sister Europa (who was a very beautiful child) were at play
together, near the seashore, in their father's kingdom of Phoenicia.
They had rambled to some distance from the palace where their parents
dwelt, and were now in a verdant meadow, on one side of which lay the
sea, all sparkling and dimpling in the sunshine, and murmuring gently
against the beach. The three boys were very happy, gathering flowers,
and twining them into garlands, with which they adorned the little
Europa. Seated on the grass, the child was almost hidden under an
abundance of buds and blossoms, whence her rosy face peeped merrily out,
and, as Cadmus said, was the prettiest of all the flowers.

Just then, there came a splendid butterfly, fluttering along the meadow;
and Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix set off in pursuit of it, crying out
that it was a flower with wings. Europa, who was a little wearied with
playing all day long, did not chase the butterfly with her brothers, but
sat still where they had left her, and closed her eyes. For a while, she
listened to the pleasant murmur of the sea, which was like a voice
saying "Hush!" and bidding her go to sleep. But the pretty child, if she
slept at all, could not have slept more than a moment, when she heard
something trample on the grass, not far from her, and peeping out from
the heap of flowers, beheld a snow-white bull.

And whence could this bull have come? Europa and her brothers had been a
long time playing in the meadow, and had seen no cattle, nor other
living thing, either there or on the neighbouring hills.

"Brother Cadmus!" cried Europa, starting up out of the midst of the
roses and lilies. "Phoenix! Cilix! Where are you all? Help! Help! Come
and drive away this bull!"

But her brothers were too far off to hear; especially as the fright took
away Europa's voice, and hindered her from calling very loudly. So there
she stood, with her pretty mouth wide open, as pale as the white lilies
that were twisted among the other flowers in her garlands.

Nevertheless, it was the suddenness with which she had perceived the
bull, rather than anything frightful in his appearance, that caused
Europa so much alarm. On looking at him more attentively, she began to
see that he was a beautiful animal, and even fancied a particularly
amiable expression in his face. As for his breath--the breath of cattle,
you know, is always sweet--it was as fragrant as if he had been grazing
on no other food than rosebuds, or, at least, the most delicate of
clover blossoms. Never before did a bull have such bright and tender
eyes, and such smooth horns of ivory, as this one. And the bull ran
little races, and capered sportively around the child; so that she quite
forgot how big and strong he was, and, from the gentleness and
playfulness of his actions, soon came to consider him as innocent a
creature as a pet lamb.

Thus, frightened as she at first was, you might by and by have seen
Europa stroking the bull's forehead with her small white hand, and
taking the garlands off her own head to hang them on his neck and ivory
horns. Then she pulled up some blades of grass, and he ate them out of
her hand, not as if he were hungry, but because he wanted to be friends
with the child, and took pleasure in eating what she had touched. Well,
my stars! was there ever such a gentle, sweet, pretty, and amiable
creature as this bull, and ever such a nice playmate for a little girl?

When the animal saw (for the bull had so much intelligence that it is
really wonderful to think of), when he saw that Europa was no longer
afraid of him, he grew overjoyed, and could hardly contain himself for
delight. He frisked about the meadow, now here, now there, making
sprightly leaps, with as little effort as a bird expends in hopping from
twig to twig. Indeed, his motion was as light as if he were flying
through the air, and his hoofs seemed hardly to leave their print in the
grassy soil over which he trod. With his spotless hue, he resembled a
snowdrift, wafted along by the wind. Once he galloped so far away that
Europa feared lest she might never see him again; so, setting up her
childish voice, she called him back.

"Come back, pretty creature!" she cried. "Here is a nice clover
blossom."

And then it was delightful to witness the gratitude of this amiable
bull, and how he was so full of joy and thankfulness that he capered
higher than ever. He came running, and bowed his head before Europa, as
if he knew her to be a king's daughter, or else recognised the important
truth that a little girl is everybody's queen. And not only did the bull
bend his neck, he absolutely knelt down at her feet, and made such
intelligent nods, and other inviting gestures, that Europa understood
what he meant just as well as if he had put it in so many words.

"Come, dear child," was what he wanted to say, "let me give you a ride
on my back."

At the first thought of such a thing, Europa drew back. But then she
considered in her wise little head that there could be no possible harm
in taking just one gallop on the back of this docile and friendly
animal, who would certainly set her down the very instant she desired
it. And how it would surprise her brothers to see her riding across the
green meadow! And what merry times they might have, either taking turns
for a gallop, or clambering on the gentle creature, all four children
together, and careering round the field with shouts of laughter that
would be heard as far off as King Agenor's palace!

"I think I will do it," said the child to herself.

And, indeed, why not? She cast a glance around, and caught a glimpse of
Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix, who were still in pursuit of the
butterfly, almost at the other end of the meadow. It would be the
quickest way of rejoining them, to get upon the white bull's back. She
came a step nearer to him, therefore; and--sociable creature that he
was--he showed so much joy at this mark of her confidence, that the
child could not find it in her heart to hesitate any longer. Making one
bound (for this little princess was as active as a squirrel), there sat
Europa on the beautiful bull, holding an ivory horn in each hand, lest
she should fall off.

"Softly, pretty bull, softly!" she said, rather frightened at what she
had done. "Do not gallop too fast."

Having got the child on his back, the animal gave a leap into the air,
and came down so like a feather that Europa did not know when his hoofs
touched the ground. He then began a race to that part of the flowery
plain where her three brothers were, and where they had just caught
their splendid butterfly. Europa screamed with delight; and Phoenix,
Cilix, and Cadmus stood gaping at the spectacle of their sister mounted
on a white bull, not knowing whether to be frightened or to wish the
same good luck for themselves. The gentle and innocent creature (for who
could possibly doubt that he was so?) pranced round among the children
as sportively as a kitten. Europa all the while looked down upon her
brothers, nodding and laughing, but yet with a sort of stateliness in
her rosy little face. As the bull wheeled about to take another gallop
across the meadow, the child waved her hand, and said, "Good-by,"
playfully pretending that she was now bound on a distant journey, and
might not see her brothers again for nobody could tell how long.

"Good-by," shouted Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix, all in one breath.

But, together with her enjoyment of the sport, there was still a little
remnant of fear in the child's heart; so that her last look at the three
boys was a troubled one, and made them feel as if their dear sister were
really leaving them forever. And what do you think the snowy bull did
next? Why, he set off, as swift as the wind, straight down to the
seashore, scampered across the sand, took an airy leap, and plunged
right in among the foaming billows. The white spray rose in a shower
over him and little Europa, and fell spattering down upon the water.

Then what a scream of terror did the poor child send forth! The three
brothers screamed manfully, likewise, and ran to the shore as fast as
their legs would carry them, with Cadmus at their head. But it was too
late. When they reached the margin of the sand, the treacherous animal
was already far away in the wide blue sea, with only his snowy head and
tail emerging, and poor little Europa between them, stretching out one
hand toward her dear brothers, while she grasped the bull's ivory horn
with the other. And there stood Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix, gazing at
this sad spectacle, through their tears, until they could no longer
distinguish the bull's snowy head from the white-capped billows that
seemed to boil up out of the sea's depths around him. Nothing more was
ever seen of the white bull--nothing more of the beautiful child.

This was a mournful story, as you may well think, for the three boys to
carry home to their parents. King Agenor, their father, was the ruler of
the whole country; but he loved his little daughter Europa better than
his kingdom, or than all his other children, or than anything else in
the world. Therefore, when Cadmus and his two brothers came crying home,
and told him how that a white bull had carried off their sister, and
swam with her over the sea, the king was quite beside himself with grief
and rage. Although it was now twilight, and fast growing dark, he bade
them set out instantly in search of her.

"Never shall you see my face again," he cried, "unless you bring me back
my little Europa, to gladden me with her smiles and her pretty ways.
Begone, and enter my presence no more, till you come leading her by the
hand."

As King Agenor said this, his eyes flashed fire (for he was a very
passionate king), and he looked so terribly angry that the poor boys did
not even venture to ask for their suppers, but slunk away out of the
palace, and only paused on the steps a moment to consult whither they
should go first. While they were standing there, all in dismay, their
mother, Queen Telephassa (who happened not to be by when they told the
story to the king), came hurrying after them, and said that she, too,
would go in quest of her daughter.

"Oh no, mother!" cried the boys. "The night is dark, and there is no
knowing what troubles and perils we may meet with."

"Alas! my dear children," answered poor Queen Telephassa, weeping
bitterly, "that is only another reason why I should go with you. If I
should lose you, too, as well as my little Europa, what would become of
me?"

"And let me go likewise!" said their playfellow Thasus, who came running
to join them.

Thasus was the son of a seafaring person in the neighbourhood; he had
been brought up with the young princess, and was their intimate friend,
and loved Europa very much; so they consented that he should accompany
them. The whole party, therefore, set forth together; Cadmus, Phoenix,
Cilix and Thasus clustered round Queen Telephassa, grasping her skirts,
and begging her to lean upon their shoulders whenever she felt weary. In
this manner they went down the palace steps, and began a journey which
turned out to be a great deal longer than they dreamed of. The last that
they saw of King Agenor, he came to the door, with a servant holding a
torch beside him, and called after them into the gathering darkness:

"Remember! Never ascend these steps again without the child!"

"Never!" sobbed Queen Telephassa; and the three brothers and Thasus
answered, "Never! Never! Never! Never!"

And they kept their word. Year after year King Agenor sat in the
solitude of his beautiful palace, listening in vain for their returning
footsteps, hoping to hear the familiar voice of the queen, and the
cheerful talk of his sons and their playfellow Thasus, entering the
door together, and the sweet, childish accents of little Europa in the
midst of them. But so long a time went by, that, at last, if they had
really come, the king would not have known that this was the voice of
Telephassa, and these the younger voices that used to make such joyful
echoes when the children were playing about the palace. We must now
leave King Agenor to sit on his throne, and must go along with Queen
Telephassa and her four youthful companions.

They went on and on, and travelled a long way, and passed over mountains
and rivers, and sailed over seas. Here, and there, and everywhere, they
made continual inquiry if any person could tell them what had become of
Europa. The rustic people, of whom they asked this question, paused a
little while from their labours in the field, and looked very much
surprised. They thought it strange to behold a woman in the garb of a
queen (for Telephassa, in her haste, had forgotten to take off her crown
and her royal robes), roaming about the country, with four lads around
her, on such an errand as this seemed to be. But nobody could give them
any tidings of Europa; nobody had seen a little girl dressed like a
princess, and mounted on a snow-white bull, which galloped as swiftly as
the wind.

I cannot tell you how long Queen Telephassa, and Cadmus, Phoenix, and
Cilix, her three sons, and Thasus, their playfellow, went wandering
along the highways and bypaths, or through the pathless wildernesses of
the earth, in this manner. But certain it is, that, before they reached
any place of rest, their splendid garments were quite worn out. They all
looked very much travel stained, and would have had the dust of many
countries on their shoes, if the streams, through which they waded, had
not washed it all away. When they had been gone a year, Telephassa threw
away her crown, because it chafed her forehead.

"It has given me many a headache," said the poor queen, "and it cannot
cure my heartache."

As fast as their princely robes got torn and tattered, they exchanged
them for such mean attire as ordinary people wore. By and by they came
to have a wild and homeless aspect; so that you would much sooner have
taken them for a gypsy family than a queen and three princes, and a
young nobleman, who had once a palace for their home, and a train of
servants to do their bidding. The four boys grew up to be tall young
men, with sunburnt faces. Each of them girded on a sword, to defend
themselves against the perils of the way. When the husbandmen, at whose
farmhouses they sought hospitality, needed their assistance in the
harvest field, they gave it willingly; and Queen Telephassa (who had
done no work in her palace, save to braid silk threads with golden ones)
came behind them to bind the sheaves. If payment was offered, they shook
their heads, and only asked for tidings of Europa.

"There are bulls enough in my pasture," the old farmers would reply;
"but I never heard of one like this you tell me of. A snow-white bull
with a little princess on his back! Ho! ho! I ask your pardon, good
folks; but there never was such a sight seen hereabouts."

At last, when his upper lip began to have the down on it, Phoenix grew
weary of rambling hither and thither to no purpose. So, one day, when
they happened to be passing through a pleasant and solitary tract of
country, he sat himself down on a heap of moss.

"I can go no farther," said Phoenix. "It is a mere foolish waste of
life, to spend it, as we do, in always wandering up and down, and never
coming to any home at nightfall. Our sister is lost, and never will be
found. She probably perished in the sea; or, to whatever shore the white
bull may have carried her, it is now so many years ago, that there would
be neither love nor acquaintance between us should we meet again. My
father has forbidden us to return to his palace; so I shall build me a
hut of branches, and dwell here."

"Well, son Phoenix," said Telephassa, sorrowfully, "you have grown to
be a man, and must do as you judge best. But, for my part, I will still
go in quest of my poor child."

"And we three will go along with you!" cried Cadmus and Cilix, and their
faithful friend Thasus.

But, before setting out, they all helped Phoenix to build a
habitation. When completed, it was a sweet rural bower, roofed overhead
with an arch of living boughs. Inside there were two pleasant rooms, one
of which had a soft heap of moss for a bed, while the other was
furnished with a rustic seat or two, curiously fashioned out of the
crooked roots of trees. So comfortable and homelike did it seem, that
Telephassa and her three companions could not help sighing, to think
that they must still roam about the world, instead of spending the
remainder of their lives in some such cheerful abode as they had here
built for Phoenix. But, when they bade him farewell, Phoenix shed
tears, and probably regretted that he was no longer to keep them
company.

However, he had fixed upon an admirable place to dwell in. And by and by
there came other people, who chanced to have no homes; and, seeing how
pleasant a spot it was, they built themselves huts in the neighbourhood
of Phoenix's habitation. Thus, before many years went by, a city had
grown up there, in the centre of which was seen a stately palace of
marble, wherein dwelt Phoenix, clothed in a purple robe, and wearing a
golden crown upon his head. For the inhabitants of the new city, finding
that he had royal blood in his veins, had chosen him to be their king.
The very first decree of state which King Phoenix issued was, that if
a maiden happened to arrive in the kingdom, mounted on a snow-white
bull, and calling herself Europa, his subjects should treat her with the
greatest kindness and respect, and immediately bring her to the palace.
You may see, by this, that Phoenix's conscience never quite ceased to
trouble him, for giving up the quest of his dear sister, and sitting
himself down to be comfortable, while his mother and her companions went
onward.

But often and often, at the close of a weary day's journey, did
Telephassa and Cadmus, Cilix and Thasus, remember the pleasant spot in
which they had left Phoenix. It was a sorrowful prospect for these
wanderers, that on the morrow they must again set forth, and that, after
many nightfalls, they would perhaps be no nearer the close of their
toilsome pilgrimage than now. These thoughts made them all melancholy at
times, but appeared to torment Cilix more than the rest of the party. At
length, one morning, when they were taking their staffs in hand to set
out, he thus addressed them:

"My dear mother, and you good brother Cadmus, and my friend Thasus,
methinks we are like people in a dream. There is no substance in the
life which we are leading. It is such a dreary length of time since the
white bull carried off my sister Europa, that I have quite forgotten
how she looked, and the tones of her voice, and, indeed, almost doubt
whether such a little girl ever lived in the world. And whether she once
lived or no, I am convinced that she no longer survives, and that
therefore it is the merest folly to waste our own lives and happiness in
seeking her. Were we to find her, she would now be a woman grown, and
would look upon us all as strangers. So, to tell you the truth, I have
resolved to take up my abode here; and I entreat you, mother, brother,
and friend, to follow my example."

"Not I, for one," said Telephassa; although the poor queen, firmly as
she spoke, was so travel worn that she could hardly put her foot to the
ground--"not I, for one! In the depths of my heart, little Europa is
still the rosy child who ran to gather flowers so many years ago. She
has not grown to womanhood, nor forgotten me. At noon, at night,
journeying onward, sitting down to rest, her childish voice is always in
my ears, calling, 'Mother! mother!' Stop here who may, there is no
repose for me."

"Nor for me," said Cadmus, "while my dear mother pleases to go onward."

And the faithful Thasus, too, was resolved to bear them company. They
remained with Cilix a few days, however, and helped him to build a
rustic bower, resembling the one which they had formerly built for
Phoenix.

When they were bidding him farewell, Cilix burst into tears, and told
his mother that it seemed just as melancholy a dream to stay there, in
solitude, as to go onward. If she really believed that they would ever
find Europa, he was willing to continue the search with them, even now.
But Telephassa bade him remain there, and be happy, if his own heart
would let him. So the pilgrims took their leave of him, and departed,
and were hardly out of sight before some other wandering people came
along that way, and saw Cilix's habitation, and were greatly delighted
with the appearance of the place. There being abundance of unoccupied
ground in the neighbourhood, these strangers built huts for themselves,
and were soon joined by a multitude of new settlers, who quickly formed
a city. In the middle of it was seen a magnificent palace of coloured
marble, on the balcony of which, every noontide, appeared Cilix, in a
long purple robe, and with a jewelled crown upon his head; for the
inhabitants, when they found out that he was a king's son, had
considered him the fittest of all men to be a king himself.

One of the first acts of King Cilix's government was to send out an
expedition, consisting of a grave ambassador and an escort of bold and
hardy young men, with orders to visit the principal kingdoms of the
earth, and inquire whether a young maiden had passed through those
regions, galloping swiftly on a white bull. It is, therefore, plain to
my mind, that Cilix secretly blamed himself for giving up the search for
Europa, as long as he was able to put one foot before the other.

As for Telephassa, and Cadmus, and the good Thasus, it grieves me to
think of them, still keeping up that weary pilgrimage. The two young men
did their best for the poor queen, helping her over the rough places,
often carrying her across rivulets in their faithful arms, and seeking
to shelter her at nightfall, even when they themselves lay on the
ground. Sad, sad it was to hear them asking of every passerby if he had
seen Europa, so long after the white bull had carried her away. But,
though the gray years thrust themselves between, and made the child's
figure dim in their remembrance, neither of these true-hearted three
ever dreamed of giving up the search.

One morning, however, poor Thasus found that he had sprained his ankle,
and could not possibly go a step farther.

"After a few days, to be sure," said he, mournfully, "I might make shift
to hobble along with a stick. But that would only delay you, and perhaps
hinder you from finding dear little Europa, after all your pains and
trouble. Do you go forward, therefore, my beloved companions, and leave
me to follow as I may."

"Thou hast been a true friend, dear Thasus," said Queen Telephassa,
kissing his forehead. "Being neither my son, nor the brother of our lost
Europa, thou hast shown thyself truer to me and her than Phoenix and
Cilix did, whom we have left behind us. Without thy loving help, and
that of my son Cadmus, my limbs could not have borne me half so far as
this. Now, take thy rest, and be at peace. For--and it is the first time
I have owned it to myself--I begin to question whether we shall ever
find my beloved daughter in this world."

Saying this, the poor queen shed tears, because it was a grievous trial
to the mother's heart to confess that her hopes were growing faint. From
that day forward, Cadmus noticed that she never travelled with the same
alacrity of spirit that had heretofore supported her. Her weight was
heavier upon his arm.

Before setting out, Cadmus helped Thasus build a bower; while
Telephassa, being too infirm to give any great assistance, advised them
how to fit it up and furnish it, so that it might be as comfortable as a
hut of branches could. Thasus, however, did not spend all his days in
this green bower. For it happened to him, as to Phoenix and Cilix,
that other homeless people visited the spot and liked it, and built
themselves habitations in the neighbourhood. So here, in the course of
a few years, was another thriving city with a red freestone palace in
the centre of it, where Thasus set upon a throne, doing justice to the
people, with a purple robe over his shoulders, a sceptre in his hand,
and a crown upon his head. The inhabitants had made him king, not for
the sake of any royal blood (for none was in his veins), but because
Thasus was an upright, true-hearted, and courageous man, and therefore
fit to rule.

But, when the affairs of his kingdom were all settled, King Thasus laid
aside his purple robe, and crown, and sceptre, and bade his worthiest
subject distribute justice to the people in his stead. Then, grasping
the pilgrim's staff that had supported him so long, he set forth again,
hoping still to discover some hoof mark of the snow-white bull, some
trace of the vanished child. He returned, after a lengthened absence,
and sat down wearily upon his throne. To his latest hour, nevertheless,
King Thasus showed his true-hearted remembrance of Europa, by ordering
that a fire should always be kept burning in his palace, and a bath
steaming hot, and food ready to be served up, and a bed with snow-white
sheets, in case the maiden should arrive, and require immediate
refreshment. And though Europa never came, the good Thasus had the
blessings of many a poor traveller, who profited by the food and lodging
which were meant for the little playmate of the king's boyhood.

Telephassa and Cadmus were now pursuing their weary way, with no
companion but each other. The queen leaned heavily upon her son's arm,
and could walk only a few miles a day. But for all her weakness and
weariness, she would not be persuaded to give up the search. It was
enough to bring tears into the eyes of bearded men to hear the
melancholy tone with which she inquired of every stranger whether he
could tell her any news of the lost child.

"Have you seen a little girl--no, no, I mean a young maiden of full
growth--passing by this way, mounted on a snow-white bull, which gallops
as swiftly as the wind?"

"We have seen no such wondrous sight," the people would reply; and very
often, taking Cadmus aside, they whispered to him, "Is this stately and
sad-looking woman your mother? Surely she is not in her right mind; and
you ought to take her home, and make her comfortable, and do your best
to get this dream out of her fancy."

"It is no dream," said Cadmus. "Everything else is a dream, save that."

But, one day, Telephassa seemed feebler than usual, and leaned almost
her whole weight on the arm of Cadmus, and walked more slowly than ever
before. At last they reached a solitary spot, where she told her son
that she must needs lie down, and take a good, long rest.

"A good, long rest!" she repeated, looking Cadmus tenderly in the
face--"a good, long rest, thou dearest one!"

"As long as you please, dear mother," answered Cadmus.

Telephassa bade him sit down on the turf beside her, and then she took
his hand.

"My son," said she, fixing her dim eyes most lovingly upon him, "this
rest that I speak of will be very long indeed! You must not wait till it
is finished. Dear Cadmus, you do not comprehend me. You must make a
grave here, and lay your mother's weary frame into it. My pilgrimage is
over."

Cadmus burst into tears, and, for a long time, refused to believe that
his dear mother was now to be taken from him. But Telephassa reasoned
with him, and kissed him, and at length made him discern that it was
better for her spirit to pass away out of the toil, the weariness, the
grief, and disappointment which had burdened her on earth, ever since
the child was lost. He therefore repressed his sorrow, and listened to
her last words.

"Dearest Cadmus," said she, "thou hast been the truest son that ever
mother had, and faithful to the very last. Who else would have borne
with my infirmities as thou hast! It is owing to thy care, thou
tenderest child, that my grave was not dug long years ago, in some
valley, or on some hillside, that lies far, far behind us. It is enough.
Thou shalt wander no more on this hopeless search. But when thou hast
laid thy mother in the earth, then go, my son, to Delphi, and inquire of
the oracle what thou shalt do next."

"O mother, mother," cried Cadmus, "couldst thou but have seen my sister
before this hour!"

"It matters little now," answered Telephassa, and there was a smile upon
her face. "I go now to the better world, and, sooner or later, shall
find my daughter there."

I will not sadden you, my little hearers, with telling how Telephassa
died and was buried, but will only say, that her dying smile grew
brighter, instead of vanishing from her dead face; so that Cadmus felt
convinced that, at her very first step into the better world, she had
caught Europa in her arms. He planted some flowers on his mother's
grave, and left them to grow there, and make the place beautiful, when
he should be far away.

After performing this last sorrowful duty, he set forth alone, and took
the road toward the famous oracle of Delphi, as Telephassa had advised
him. On his way thither, he still inquired of most people whom he met
whether they had seen Europa; for, to say the truth, Cadmus had grown so
accustomed to ask the question, that it came to his lips as readily as a
remark about the weather. He received various answers. Some told him one
thing, and some another. Among the rest, a mariner affirmed, that, many
years before, in a distant country, he had heard a rumour about a white
bull, which came swimming across the sea with a child on his back,
dressed up in flowers that were blighted by the sea water. He did not
know what had become of the child or the bull; and Cadmus suspected,
indeed, by a queer twinkle in the mariner's eyes, that he was putting a
joke upon him, and had never really heard anything about the matter.

Poor Cadmus found it more wearisome to travel alone than to bear all his
dear mother's weight while she had kept him company. His heart, you will
understand, was now so heavy that it seemed impossible, sometimes, to
carry it any farther. But his limbs were strong and active and well
accustomed to exercise. He walked swiftly along, thinking of King Agenor
and Queen Telephassa, and his brothers, and the friendly Thasus, all of
whom he had left behind him, at one point of his pilgrimage or another,
and never expected to see them any more. Full of these remembrances, he
came within sight of a lofty mountain, which the people thereabouts told
him was called Parnassus. On the slope of Mount Parnassus was the famous
Delphi, whither Cadmus was going.

This Delphi was supposed to be the very midmost spot of the whole world.
The place of the oracle was a certain cavity in the mountain side, over
which, when Cadmus came thither, he found a rude bower of branches. It
reminded him of those which he had helped to build for Phoenix and
Cilix, and afterward for Thasus. In later times, when multitudes of
people came from great distances to put questions to the oracle, a
spacious temple of marble was erected over the spot. But in the days of
Cadmus, as I have told you, there was only this rustic bower, with its
abundance of green foliage, and a tuft of shrubbery, that ran wild over
the mysterious hole in the hillside.

When Cadmus had thrust a passage through the tangled boughs, and made
his way into the bower, he did not at first discern the half-hidden
cavity. But soon he felt a cold stream of air rushing out of it, with so
much force that it shook the ringlets on his cheek. Pulling away the
shrubbery which clustered over the hole, he bent forward, and spoke in a
distinct but reverential tone, as if addressing some unseen personage
inside of the mountain.

"Sacred oracle of Delphi," said he, "whither shall I go next in quest of
my dear sister Europa?"

There was at first a deep silence, and then a rushing sound, or a noise
like a long sigh, proceeding out of the interior of the earth. This
cavity, you must know, was looked upon as a sort of fountain of truth,
which sometimes gushed out in audible words; although, for the most
part, these words were such a riddle that they might just as well have
stayed at the bottom of the hole. But Cadmus was more fortunate than
many others who went to Delphi in search of truth. By and by, the
rushing noise began to sound like articulate language. It repeated, over
and over again, the following sentence, which, after all, was so like
the vague whistle of a blast of air, that Cadmus really did not quite
know whether it meant anything or not:

"Seek her no more! Seek her no more! Seek her no more!"

"What, then, shall I do?" asked Cadmus.

For, ever since he was a child, you know, it had been the great object
of his life to find his sister. From the very hour that he left
following the butterfly in the meadow, near his father's palace, he had
done his best to follow Europa, over land and sea. And now, if he must
give up the search, he seemed to have no more business in the world.

But again the sighing gust of air grew into something like a hoarse
voice.

"Follow the cow!" it said. "Follow the cow! Follow the cow!"

And when these words had been repeated until Cadmus was tired of hearing
them (especially as he could not imagine what cow it was, or why he was
to follow her), the gusty hole gave vent to another sentence.

"Where the stray cow lies down, there is your home."

These words were pronounced but a single time, and died away into a
whisper before Cadmus was fully satisfied that he had caught the
meaning. He put other questions, but received no answer; only the gust
of wind sighed continually out of the cavity, and blew the withered
leaves rustling along the ground before it.

"Did there really come any words out of the hole?" thought Cadmus; "or
have I been dreaming all this while?"

He turned away from the oracle, and thought himself no wiser than when
he came thither. Caring little what might happen to him, he took the
first path that offered itself, and went along at a sluggish pace; for,
having no object in view, nor any reason to go one way more than
another, it would certainly have been foolish to make haste. Whenever he
met anybody, the old question was at his tongue's end:

"Have you seen a beautiful maiden, dressed like a king's daughter, and
mounted on a snow-white bull, that gallops as swiftly as the wind?"

But, remembering what the oracle had said, he only half uttered the
words, and then mumbled the rest indistinctly; and from his confusion,
people must have imagined that this handsome young man had lost his
wits.

I know not how far Cadmus had gone, nor could he himself have told you,
when, at no great distance before him, he beheld a brindled cow. She was
lying down by the wayside, and quietly chewing her cud; nor did she take
any notice of the young man until he had approached pretty nigh. Then,
getting leisurely upon her feet, and giving her head a gentle toss, she
began to move along at a moderate pace, often pausing just long enough
to crop a mouthful of grass. Cadmus loitered behind, whistling idly to
himself, and scarcely noticing the cow; until the thought occurred to
him, whether this could possibly be the animal which, according to the
oracle's response, was to serve him for a guide. But he smiled at
himself for fancying such a thing. He could not seriously think that
this was the cow, because she went along so quietly, behaving just like
any other cow. Evidently she neither knew nor cared so much as a wisp of
hay about Cadmus, and was only thinking how to get her living along the
wayside, where the herbage was green and fresh. Perhaps she was going
home to be milked.

"Cow, cow, cow!" cried Cadmus. "Hey, Brindle, hey! Stop, my good cow."

He wanted to come up with the cow, so as to examine her, and see if she
would appear to know him, or whether there were any peculiarities to
distinguish her from a thousand other cows, whose only business is to
fill the milk pail, and sometimes kick it over. But still the brindled
cow trudged on, whisking her tail to keep the flies away, and taking as
little notice of Cadmus as she well could. If he walked slowly, so did
the cow, and seized the opportunity to graze. If he quickened his pace,
the cow went just so much the faster; and once, when Cadmus tried to
catch her by running, she threw out her heels, stuck her tail straight
on end, and set off at a gallop, looking as queerly as cows generally
do, while putting themselves to their speed.

When Cadmus saw that it was impossible to come up with her, he walked on
moderately, as before. The cow, too, went leisurely on, without looking
behind. Wherever the grass was greenest, there she nibbled a mouthful or
two. Where a brook glistened brightly across the path, there the cow
drank, and breathed a comfortable sigh, and drank again, and trudged
onward at the pace that best suited herself and Cadmus.

"I do believe," thought Cadmus, "that this may be the cow that was
foretold me. If it be the one, I suppose she will lie down somewhere
hereabouts."

Whether it were the oracular cow or some other one, it did not seem
reasonable that she should travel a great way farther. So, whenever they
reached a particularly pleasant spot on a breezy hillside, or in a
sheltered vale, or flowery meadow, on the shore of a calm lake, or along
the bank of a clear stream, Cadmus looked eagerly around to see if the
situation would suit him for a home. But still, whether he liked the
place or no, the brindled cow never offered to lie down. On she went at
the quiet pace of a cow going homeward to the barnyard; and, every
moment Cadmus expected to see a milkmaid approaching with a pail, or a
herdsman running to head the stray animal, and turn her back toward the
pasture. But no milkmaid came; no herdsman drove her back; and Cadmus
followed the stray brindle till he was almost ready to drop down with
fatigue.

"O brindled cow," cried he, in a tone of despair, "do you never mean to
stop?"

He had now grown too intent on following her to think of lagging behind,
however long the way, and whatever might be his fatigue. Indeed, it
seemed as if there were something about the animal that bewitched
people. Several persons who happened to see the brindled cow, and Cadmus
following behind, began to trudge after her, precisely as he did. Cadmus
was glad of somebody to converse with, and therefore talked very freely
to these good people. He told them all his adventures, and how he had
left King Agenor in his palace, and Phoenix at one place, and Cilix at
another, and Thasus at a third, and his dear mother, Queen Telephassa,
under a flowery sod; so that now he was quite alone, both friendless and
homeless. He mentioned, likewise, that the oracle had bidden him be
guided by a cow, and inquired of the strangers whether they supposed
that this brindled animal could be the one.

"Why, 'tis a very wonderful affair," answered one of his new companions.
"I am pretty well acquainted with the ways of cattle, and I never knew a
cow, of her own accord, to go so far without stopping. If my legs will
let me, I'll never leave following the beast till she lies down."

"Nor I!" said a second.

"Nor I!" cried a third. "If she goes a hundred miles farther, I'm
determined to see the end of it."

The secret of it was, you must know, that the cow was an enchanted cow,
and that, without their being conscious of it, she threw some of her
enchantment over everybody that took so much as half a dozen steps
behind her. They could not possibly help following her, though, all the
time, they fancied themselves doing it of their own accord. The cow was
by no means very nice in choosing her path; so that sometimes they had
to scramble over rocks, or wade through mud and mire, and were all in a
terribly bedraggled condition, and tired to death, and very hungry, into
the bargain. What a weary business it was!

But still they kept trudging stoutly forward, and talking as they went.
The strangers grew very fond of Cadmus, and resolved never to leave him,
but to help him build a city wherever the cow might lie down. In the
centre of it there should be a noble palace, in which Cadmus might
dwell, and be their king, with a throne, a crown and sceptre, a purple
robe, and everything else that a king ought to have; for in him there
was the royal blood, and the royal heart, and the head that knew how to
rule.

While they were talking of these schemes, and beguiling the tediousness
of the way with laying out the plan of the new city, one of the company
happened to look at the cow.

"Joy! joy!" cried he, clapping his hands. "Brindle is going to lie
down."

They all looked; and, sure enough, the cow had stopped and was staring
leisurely about her, as other cows do when on the point of lying down.
And slowly, slowly did she recline herself on the soft grass, first
bending her fore legs, and then crouching her hind ones. When Cadmus and
his companions came up with her, there was the brindled cow taking her
ease, chewing her cud, and looking them quietly in the face; as if this
was just the spot she had been seeking for, and as if it were all a
matter of course.

"This, then," said Cadmus, gazing around him, "this is to be my home."

It was a fertile and lovely plain, with great trees flinging their
sun-speckled shadows over it, and hills fencing it in from the rough
weather. At no great distance, they beheld a river gleaming in the
sunshine. A home feeling stole into the heart of poor Cadmus. He was
very glad to know that here he might awake in the morning, without the
necessity of putting on his dusty sandals to travel farther and farther.
The days and the years would pass over him, and find him still in this
pleasant spot. If he could have had his brothers with him, and his
friend Thasus, and could have seen his dear mother under a roof of his
own, he might here have been happy, after all their disappointments.
Some day or other, too, his sister Europa might have come quietly to the
door of his home, and smiled round upon the familiar faces. But, indeed,
since there was no hope of regaining the friends of his boyhood, or ever
seeing his dear sister again, Cadmus resolved to make himself happy with
these new companions, who had grown so fond of him while following the
cow.

"Yes, my friends," said he to them, "this is to be our home. Here we
will build our habitations. The brindled cow, which has led us hither,
will supply us with milk. We will cultivate the neighbouring soil, and
lead an innocent and happy life."

His companions joyfully assented to this plan; and, in the first place,
being very hungry and thirsty, they looked about them for the means of
providing a comfortable meal. Not far off, they saw a tuft of trees,
which appeared as if there might be a spring of water beneath them. They
went thither to fetch some, leaving Cadmus stretched on the ground
along with the brindled cow; for, now that he had found a place of rest,
it seemed as if all the weariness of his pilgrimage, ever since he left
King Agenor's palace, had fallen upon him at once. But his new friends
had not long been gone, when he was suddenly startled by cries, shouts,
and screams, and the noise of a terrible struggle, and in the midst of
it all, a most awful hissing, which went right through his ears like a
rough saw.

Running toward the tuft of trees, he beheld the head and fiery eyes of
an immense serpent or dragon, with the widest jaws that ever a dragon
had, and a vast many rows of horribly sharp teeth. Before Cadmus could
reach the spot, this pitiless reptile had killed his poor companions,
and was busily devouring them, making but a mouthful of each man.

It appears that the fountain of water was enchanted, and that the dragon
had been set to guard it, so that no mortal might ever quench his thirst
there. As the neighbouring inhabitants carefully avoided the spot, it
was now a long time (not less than a hundred years, or thereabouts)
since the monster had broken his fast; and, as was natural enough, his
appetite had grown to be enormous, and was not half satisfied by the
poor people whom he had just eaten up. When he caught sight of Cadmus,
therefore, he set up another abominable hiss, and flung back his immense
jaws, until his mouth looked like a great red cavern, at the farther end
of which were seen the legs of his last victim, whom he had hardly had
time to swallow.

But Cadmus was so enraged at the destruction of his friends, that he
cared neither for the size of the dragon's jaws nor for his hundreds of
sharp teeth. Drawing his sword, he rushed at the monster, and flung
himself right into his cavernous mouth. This bold method of attacking
him took the dragon by surprise; for, in fact, Cadmus had leaped so far
down into his throat, that the rows of terrible teeth could not close
upon him, nor do him the least harm in the world. Thus, though the
struggle was a tremendous one, and though the dragon shattered the tuft
of trees into small splinters by the lashing of his tail, yet, as Cadmus
was all the while slashing and stabbing at his very vitals, it was not
long before the scaly wretch bethought himself of slipping away. He had
not gone his length, however, when the brave Cadmus gave him a sword
thrust that finished the battle; and, creeping out of the gateway of the
creature's jaws, there he beheld him still wriggling his vast bulk,
although there was no longer life enough in him to harm a little child.

But do not you suppose that it made Cadmus sorrowful to think of the
melancholy fate which had befallen those poor, friendly people, who had
followed the cow along with him? It seemed as if he were doomed to lose
everybody whom he loved, or to see them perish in one way or another.
And here he was, after all his toils and troubles, in a solitary place,
with not a single human being to help him build a hut.

"What shall I do?" cried he aloud. "It were better for me to have been
devoured by the dragon, as my poor companions were."

"Cadmus," said a voice--but whether it came from above or below him, or
whether it spoke within his own breast, the young man could not
tell--"Cadmus, pluck out the dragon's teeth, and plant them in the
earth."

This was a strange thing to do; nor was it very easy, I should imagine,
to dig out all those deep-rooted fangs from the dead dragon's jaws. But
Cadmus toiled and tugged, and after pounding the monstrous head almost
to pieces with a great stone, he at last collected as many teeth as
might have filled a bushel or two. The next thing was to plant them.
This, likewise, was a tedious piece of work, especially as Cadmus was
already exhausted with killing the dragon and knocking his head to
pieces, and had nothing to dig the earth with, that I know of, unless it
were his sword blade. Finally, however, a sufficiently large tract of
ground was turned up, and sown with this new kind of seed; although half
of the dragon's teeth still remained to be planted some other day.

Cadmus, quite out of breath, stood leaning upon his sword, and wondering
what was to happen next. He had waited but a few moments, when he began
to see a sight, which was as great a marvel as the most marvellous thing
I ever told you about.

The sun was shining slantwise over the field, and showed all the moist,
dark soil just like any other newly planted piece of ground. All at
once, Cadmus fancied he saw something glisten very brightly, first at
one spot, then at another, and then at a hundred and a thousand spots
together. Soon he perceived them to be the steel heads of spears,
sprouting up everywhere like so many stalks of grain, and continually
growing taller and taller. Next appeared a vast number of bright sword
blades, thrusting themselves up in the same way. A moment afterward, the
whole surface of the ground was broken up by a multitude of polished
brass helmets, coming up like a crop of enormous beans. So rapidly did
they grow, that Cadmus now discerned the fierce countenance of a man
beneath every one. In short, before he had time to think what a
wonderful affair it was, he beheld an abundant harvest of what looked
like human beings, armed with helmets and breastplates, shields, swords
and spears; and before they were well out of the earth, they brandished
their weapons, and clashed them one against another, seeming to think,
little while as they had yet lived, that they had wasted too much of
life without a battle. Every tooth of the dragon had produced one of
these sons of deadly mischief.

Up sprouted, also, a great many trumpeters; and with the first breath
that they drew, they put their brazen trumpets to their lips, and
sounded a tremendous and ear-shattering blast; so that the whole space,
just now so quiet and solitary, reverberated with the clash and clang of
arms, the bray of warlike music, and the shouts of angry men. So enraged
did they all look, that Cadmus fully expected them to put the whole
world to the sword. How fortunate would it be for a great conqueror, if
he could get a bushel of the dragon's teeth to sow!

"Cadmus," said the same voice which he had before heard, "throw a stone
into the midst of the armed men."

So Cadmus seized a large stone, and, flinging it into the middle of the
earth army, saw it strike the breast-plate of a gigantic and
fierce-looking warrior. Immediately on feeling the blow, he seemed to
take it for granted that somebody had struck him; and, uplifting his
weapon, he smote his next neighbour a blow that cleft his helmet
asunder, and stretched him on the ground. In an instant, those nearest
the fallen warrior began to strike at one another with their swords and
stab with their spears. The confusion spread wider and wider. Each man
smote down his brother, and was himself smitten down before he had time
to exult in his victory. The trumpeters, all the while, blew their
blasts shriller and shriller; each soldier shouted a battle cry and
often fell with it on his lips. It was the strangest spectacle of
causeless wrath, and of mischief for no good end, that had ever been
witnessed; but, after all, it was neither more foolish nor more wicked
than a thousand battles that have since been fought, in which men have
slain their brothers with just as little reason as these children of the
dragon's teeth. It ought to be considered, too, that the dragon people
were made for nothing else; whereas other mortals were born to love and
help one another.

Well, this memorable battle continued to rage until the ground was
strewn with helmeted heads that had been cut off. Of all the thousands
that began the fight, there were only five left standing. These now
rushed from different parts of the field, and, meeting in the middle of
it, clashed their swords, and struck at each other's hearts as fiercely
as ever.

"Cadmus," said the voice again, "bid those five warriors to sheathe
their swords. They will help you to build the city."

Without hesitating an instant, Cadmus stepped forward, with the aspect
of a king and a leader, and extending his drawn sword amongst them,
spoke to the warriors in a stern and commanding voice.

"Sheathe your weapons!" said he.

And forthwith, feeling themselves bound to obey him, the five remaining
sons of the dragon's teeth made him a military salute with their swords,
returned them to the scabbards, and stood before Cadmus in a rank,
eyeing him as soldiers eye their captain, while awaiting the word of
command.

These five men had probably sprung from the biggest of the dragon's
teeth, and were the boldest and strongest of the whole army. They were
almost giants, indeed, and had good need to be so, else they never could
have lived through so terrible a fight. They still had a very furious
look, and, if Cadmus happened to glance aside, would glare at one
another, with fire flashing out of their eyes. It was strange, too, to
observe how the earth, out of which they had so lately grown, was
incrusted, here and there, on their bright breastplates, and even
begrimed their faces, just as you may have seen it clinging to beets and
carrots when pulled out of their native soil. Cadmus hardly knew whether
to consider them as men, or some odd kind of vegetable; although, on the
whole, he concluded that there was human nature in them, because they
were so fond of trumpets and weapons, and so ready to shed blood.

They looked him earnestly in the face, waiting for his next order, and
evidently desiring no other employment than to follow him from one
battlefield to another, all over the wide world. But Cadmus was wiser
than these earth-born creatures, with the dragon's fierceness in them,
and knew better how to use their strength and hardihood.

"Come!" said he. "You are sturdy fellows. Make yourselves useful! Quarry
some stones with those great swords of yours, and help me to build a
city."

The five soldiers grumbled a little, and muttered that it was their
business to overthrow cities, not to build them up. But Cadmus looked at
them with a stern eye, and spoke to them in, a tone of authority, so
that they knew him for their master, and never again thought of
disobeying his commands. They set to work in good earnest, and toiled so
diligently, that, in a very short time, a city began to make its
appearance. At first, to be sure, the workmen showed a quarrelsome
disposition. Like savage beasts, they would doubtless have done one
another a mischief, if Cadmus had not kept watch over them and quelled
the fierce old serpent that lurked in their hearts, when he saw it
gleaming out of their wild eyes. But, in course of time, they got
accustomed to honest labour, and had sense enough to feel that there was
more true enjoyment in living at peace, and doing good to one's
neighbour, than in striking at him with a two-edged sword. It may not be
too much to hope that the rest of mankind will by and by grow as wise
and peaceable as these five earth-begrimed warriors, who sprang from the
dragon's teeth.

And now the city was built, and there was a home in it for each of the
workmen. But the palace of Cadmus was not yet erected, because they had
left it till the last, meaning to introduce all the new improvements of
architecture, and make it very commodious, as well as stately and
beautiful. After finishing the rest of their labours, they all went to
bed betimes, in order to rise in the gray of the morning, and get at
least the foundation of the edifice laid before nightfall. But, when
Cadmus arose, and took his way toward the site where the palace was to
be built, followed by his five sturdy workmen marching all in a row,
what do you think he saw?

What should it be but the most magnificent palace that had ever been
seen in the world? It was built of marble and other beautiful kinds of
stone, and rose high into the air, with a splendid dome and a portico
along the front, and carved pillars, and everything else that befitted
the habitation of a mighty king. It had grown up out of the earth in
almost as short a time as it had taken the armed host to spring from the
dragon's teeth; and what made the matter more strange, no seed of this
stately edifice had ever been planted.

When the five workmen beheld the dome, with the morning sunshine making
it look golden and glorious, they gave a great shout.

"Long live King Cadmus," they cried, "in his beautiful palace."

And the new king, with his five faithful followers at his heels,
shouldering their pickaxes and marching in a rank (for they still had a
soldier-like sort of behaviour, as their nature was), ascended the
palace steps. Halting at the entrance, they gazed through a long vista
of lofty pillars that were ranged from end to end of a great hall. At
the farther extremity of this hall, approaching slowly toward him,
Cadmus beheld a female figure, wonderfully beautiful, and adorned with a
royal robe, and a crown of diamonds over her golden ringlets, and the
richest necklace that ever a queen wore. His heart thrilled with
delight. He fancied it his long-lost sister Europa, now grown to
womanhood, coming to make him happy, and to repay him, with her sweet
sisterly affection, for all those weary wanderings in quest of her since
he left King Agenor's palace--for the tears that he had shed, on parting
with Phoenix, and Cilix, and Thasus--for the heart-breakings that had
made the whole world seem dismal to him over his dear mother's grave.

But, as Cadmus advanced to meet the beautiful stranger, he saw that her
features were unknown to him, although, in the little time that it
required to tread along the hall, he had already felt a sympathy betwixt
himself and her.

"No, Cadmus," said the same voice that had spoken to him in the field of
the armed men, "this is not that dear sister Europa whom you have sought
so faithfully all over the wide world. This is Harmonia, a daughter of
the sky, who is given you instead of sister, and brothers, and friend,
and mother. You will find all those dear ones in her alone."

So King Cadmus dwelt in the palace, with his new friend Harmonia, and
found a great deal of comfort in his magnificent abode, but would
doubtless have found as much, if not more, in the humblest cottage by
the wayside. Before many years went by, there was a group of rosy little
children (but how they came thither has always been a mystery to me)
sporting in the great hall, and on the marble steps of the palace, and
running joyfully to meet King Cadmus when affairs of state left him at
leisure to play with them. They called him father, and Queen Harmonia
mother. The five old soldiers of the dragon's teeth grew very fond of
these small urchins, and were never weary of showing them how to
shoulder sticks, flourish wooden swords, and march in military order,
blowing a penny trumpet, or beating an abominable rub-a-dub upon a
little drum.

But King Cadmus, lest there should be too much of the dragon's tooth in
his children's disposition, used to find time from his kingly duties to
teach them their A B C--which he invented for their benefit, and for
which many little people, I am afraid, are not half so grateful to him
as they ought to be.
 

Dragon - from Google Images

Dragon - from Google Images
Dragon - from Google Images