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From Myths and Legends of all nations
Start of Story
by Logan Marshall.
Age suitability 8 Plus
"Well, and what of that?" retorted Nightmare, peevishly. "Can't I see
into a thick bush as easily as yourself? The eye is mine as well as
yours; and I know the use of it as well as you, or maybe a little
better. I insist upon taking a peep immediately!"
But here the third sister, whose name was Shakejoint, began to
complain, and said that it was her turn to have the eye, and that
Scarecrow and Nightmare wanted to keep it all to themselves. To end
the dispute, old Dame Scarecrow took the eye out of her forehead and
held it forth in her hand.
"Take it, one of you," cried she, "and quit this foolish quarreling.
For my part, I shall be glad of a little thick darkness. Take it
quickly, however, or I must clap it into my own head again!"
Accordingly, both Nightmare and Shakejoint put out their hands,
groping eagerly to snatch the eye out of the hand of Scarecrow. But
being both alike blind, they could not easily find where Scarecrow's
hand was; and Scarecrow, being now just as much in the dark as
Shakejoint and Nightmare, could not at once meet either of their hands
in order to put the eye into it. Thus (as you will see with half an
eye, my wise little auditors) these good old dames had fallen into a
strange perplexity. For, though the eye shone and glistened like a
star as Scarecrow held it out, yet the Gray Women caught not the least
glimpse of its light and were all three in utter darkness from too
impatient a desire to see.
Quicksilver was so much tickled at beholding Shakejoint and Nightmare
both groping for the eye, and each finding fault with Scarecrow and
one another, that he could scarcely help laughing aloud.
"Now is your time!" he whispered to Perseus. "Quick, quick! before
they can clap the eye into either of their heads. Rush out upon the
old ladies and snatch it from Scarecrow's hand!"
In an instant, while the Three Gray Women were still scolding each
other, Perseus leaped from behind the clump of bushes and made himself
master of the prize. The marvelous eye, as he held it in his hand,
shone very brightly, and seemed to look up into his face with a
knowing air, and an expression as if it would have winked had it been
provided with a pair of eyelids for that purpose. But the Gray Women
knew nothing of what had happened, and each supposing that one of her
sisters was in possession of the eye, they began their quarrel anew.
At last, as Perseus did not wish to put these respectable dames to
greater inconvenience than was really necessary, he thought it right
to explain the matter.
"My good ladies," said he, "pray do not be angry with one another. If
anybody is in fault, it is myself; for I have the honor to hold your
very brilliant and excellent eye in my own hand!"
"You! you have our eye! And who are you?" screamed the Three Gray
Women all in a breath; for they were terribly frightened, of course,
at hearing a strange voice and discovering that their eyesight had got
into the hands of they could not guess whom. "Oh, what shall we do,
sisters? what shall we do? We are all in the dark! Give us our eye!
Give us our one precious, solitary eye! You have two of your own! Give
us our eye!"
"Tell them," whispered Quicksilver to Perseus, "that they shall have
back the eye as soon as they direct you where to find the Nymphs who
have the flying slippers, the magic wallet and the helmet of
"My dear, good, admirable old ladies," said Perseus, addressing the
Gray Women, "there is no occasion for putting yourselves into such a
fright. I am by no means a bad young man. You shall have back your
eye, safe and sound, and as bright as ever, the moment you tell me
where to find the Nymphs."
"The Nymphs! Goodness me! sisters, what Nymphs does he mean?" screamed
Scarecrow. "There are a great many Nymphs, people say; some that go a
hunting in the woods, and some that live inside of trees, and some that
have a comfortable home in fountains of water. We know nothing at all
about them. We are three unfortunate old souls that go wandering about
in the dusk and never had but one eye amongst us, and that one you have
stolen away. Oh, give it back, good stranger!--whoever you are, give it
All this while the Three Gray Women were groping with their
outstretched hands and trying their utmost to get hold of Perseus. But
he took good care to keep out of their reach.
"My respectable dames," said he--for his mother had taught him always
to use the greatest civility--"I hold your eye fast in my hand and
shall keep it safely for you until you please to tell me where to find
these Nymphs. The Nymphs, I mean, who keep the enchanted wallet, the
flying slippers and the what is it?--the helmet of invisibility."
"Mercy on us, sisters! what is the young man talking about?" exclaimed
Scarecrow, Nightmare and Shakejoint, one to another, with great
appearance of astonishment. "A pair of flying slippers, quoth he! His
heels would quickly fly higher than his head if he was silly enough to
put them on. And a helmet of invisibility! How could a helmet make him
invisible, unless it were big enough for him to hide under it? And an
enchanted wallet! What sort of a contrivance may that be, I wonder?
No, no, good stranger! we can tell you nothing of these marvelous
things. You have two eyes of your own and we have but a single one
amongst us three. You can find out such wonders better than three
blind old creatures like us."
Perseus, hearing them talk in this way, began really to think that the
Gray Women knew nothing of the matter; and, as it grieved him to put
them to so much trouble, he was just on the point of restoring their
eye and asking pardon for his rudeness in snatching it away. But
Quicksilver caught his hand.
"Don't let them make a fool of you!" said he. "These Three Gray Women
are the only persons in the world that can tell you where to find the
Nymphs, and unless you get that information you will never succeed in
cutting off the head of Medusa with the snaky locks. Keep fast hold on
the eye and all will go well."
As it turned out, Quicksilver was in the right. There are but few
things that people prize so much as they do their eyesight; and the
Gray Women valued their single eye as highly as if it had been half a
dozen, which was the number they ought to have had. Finding that there
was no other way of recovering it, they at last told Perseus what he
wanted to know. No sooner had they done so than he immediately and
with the utmost respect clapped the eye into the vacant socket in one
of their foreheads, thanked them for their kindness and bade them
farewell. Before the young man was out of hearing, however, they had
got into a new dispute, because he happened to have given the eye to
Scarecrow, who had already taken her turn of it when their trouble
with Perseus commenced.