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From Myths and Legends of all nations
Start of Story
by Logan Marshall.
Age suitability 8 Plus
Perseus by this time felt so much confidence in his companion's
sagacity that he made no more objections, and professed himself ready
to begin the adventure immediately. They accordingly set out and
walked at a pretty brisk pace; so brisk, indeed, that Perseus found it
rather difficult to keep up with his nimble friend Quicksilver. To say
the truth, he had a singular idea that Quicksilver was furnished with
a pair of winged shoes, which, of course, helped him along
marvelously. And then, too, when Perseus looked sideways at him out of
the corner of his eye, he seemed to see wings on the side of his head;
although, if he turned a full gaze, there were no such things to be
perceived, but only an odd kind of cap. But at all events, the twisted
staff was evidently a great convenience to Quicksilver, and enabled
him to proceed so fast that Perseus, though a remarkably active young
man, began to be out of breath.
"Here!" cried Quicksilver at last--for he knew well enough, rogue that
he was, how hard Perseus found it to keep pace with him--"take you the
staff, for you need it a great deal more than I. Are there no better
walkers than yourself in the island of Seriphus?"
"I could walk pretty well," said Perseus, glancing slyly at his
companion's feet, "if I had only a pair of winged shoes."
"We must see about getting you a pair," answered Quicksilver.
But the staff helped Perseus along so bravely that he no longer felt
the slightest weariness. In fact, the stick seemed to be alive in his
hand and to lend some of its life to Perseus. He and Quicksilver now
walked onward at their ease, talking very sociably together; and
Quicksilver told so many pleasant stories about his former adventures
and how well his wits had served him on various occasions that Perseus
began to think him a very wonderful person. He evidently knew the
world; and nobody is so charming to a young man as a friend who has
that kind of knowledge. Perseus listened the more eagerly, in the hope
of brightening his own wits by what he heard.
At last, he happened to recollect that Quicksilver had spoken of a
sister who was to lend her assistance in the adventure which they were
now bound upon.
"Where is she?" he inquired. "Shall we not meet her soon?"
"All at the proper time," said his companion. "But this sister of
mine, you must understand, is quite a different sort of character from
myself. She is very grave and prudent, seldom smiles, never laughs and
makes it a rule not to utter a word unless she has something
particularly profound to say. Neither will she listen to any but the
"Dear me!" ejaculated Perseus; "I shall be afraid to say a syllable."
"She is a very accomplished person, I assure you," continued
Quicksilver, "and has all the arts and science at her fingers' ends.
In short, she is so immoderately wise that many people call her wisdom
personified. But to tell you the truth, she has hardly vivacity enough
for my taste; and I think you would scarcely find her so pleasant a
traveling companion as myself. She has her good points, nevertheless;
and you will find the benefit of them in your encounter with the
By this time it had grown quite dusk. They were now come to a very
wild and desert place, overgrown with shaggy bushes and so silent and
solitary that nobody seemed ever to have dwelt or journeyed there. All
was waste and desolate in the gray twilight, which grew every moment
more obscure. Perseus looked about him rather disconsolately and asked
Quicksilver whether they had a great deal farther to go.
"Hist! hist!" whispered his companion. "Make no noise! This is just
the time and place to meet the Three Gray Women. Be careful that they
do not see you before you see them, for though they have but a single
eye among the three, it is as sharp-sighted as half a dozen common
"But what must I do," asked Perseus, "when we meet them?"
Quicksilver explained to Perseus how the Three Gray Women managed with
their one eye. They were in the habit, it seems, of changing it from
one to another, as if it had been a pair of spectacles, or--which
would have suited them better--a quizzing glass. When one of the three
had kept the eye a certain time, she took it out of the socket and
passed it to one of her sisters, whose turn it might happen to be, and
who immediately clapped it into her own head and enjoyed a peep at the
visible world. Thus it will easily be understood that only one of the
Three Gray Women could see, while the other two were in utter
darkness; and, moreover, at the instant when the eye was passing from
hand to hand, none of the poor old ladies was able to see a wink. I
have heard of a great many strange things in my day, and have
witnessed not a few, but none, it seems to me, that can compare with
the oddity of these Three Gray Women all peeping through a single eye.
So thought Perseus, likewise, and was so astonished that he almost
fancied his companion was joking with him, and that there were no such
old women in the world.
"You will soon find whether I tell the truth or no," observed
Quicksilver. "Hark! hush! hist! hist! There they come now!"
Perseus looked earnestly through the dusk of the evening, and there,
sure enough, at no great distance off, he descried the Three Gray
Women. The light being so faint, he could not well make out what sort
of figures they were; only he discovered that they had long gray hair,
and as they came nearer he saw that two of them had but the empty
socket of an eye in the middle of their foreheads. But in the middle
of the third sister's forehead there was a very large, bright and
piercing eye, which sparkled like a great diamond in a ring; and so
penetrating did it seem to be that Perseus could not help thinking it
must possess the gift of seeing in the darkest midnight just as
perfectly as at noonday. The sight of three persons' eyes was melted
and collected into that single one.
Thus the three old dames got along about as comfortably, upon the
whole, as if they could all see at once. She who chanced to have the
eye in her forehead led the other two by the hands, peeping sharply
about her all the while; insomuch that Perseus dreaded lest she should
see right through the thick clump of bushes behind which he and
Quicksilver had hidden themselves. My stars! it was positively
terrible to be within reach of so very sharp an eye!
But before they reached the clump of bushes, one of the Three Gray
"Sister! Sister Scarecrow!" cried she, "you have had the eye long
enough. It is my turn now!"
"Let me keep it a moment longer, Sister Nightmare," answered
Scarecrow. "I thought I had a glimpse of something behind that thick