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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/74

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

her that she was fairer than the sea-beauty, Atergatis, and for this Neptune had decreed that all the land of the Ethiopians should be drowned and destroyed unless Andromeda was delivered up as a sacrifice to the dreadful sea-monster. When Perseus, dropping down to learn why this maiden was chained to the rocks, heard from Andromeda's lips the story of her woes, he laughed with joy. Here was an adventure just to his liking, and besides, unlike his previous adventures, it involved the fate of a beautiful woman with whom he was already in love. Could he save her? Well, wouldn't he! The sea-monster might frighten a kingdom full of Ethiops, but it could not shake the nerves of a hero from Greece. He whispered words of encouragement to Andromeda, who could scarce believe the good news that a champion had come to defend her after all her friends and royal relations had deserted her. Neither could she feel much confidence in her young champion's powers when suddenly her horrified gaze met the awful monster of the deep advancing to his feast! But Perseus, with a warning to Andromeda not to look at what he was about to do, sprang with his winged sandals tip into the air. And then, as Charles Kingsley has so beautifully told the story—

"On came the great sea-monster, coasting along like a huge black galley, lazily breasting the ripple, and stopping at times by creek or headland to watch for the laughter of girls at their bleaching, or cattle pawing on the sand-hills, or boys bathing on the beach. His great sides were fringed with clustering shells and sea-weeds, and the water gurgled in and out of his wide jaws as he rolled along, dripping and glistening in the beams of the morning sun. At last he saw Andromeda, and shot forward to take his prey, while the waves foamed white behind him, and before him the fish tied leaping.

"Then down from the height of the air fell Perseus like a shooting-star—down to the crest of the waves, while Andromeda hid her face as he shouted. And then there was silence for a while,

"At last she looked up trembling, and saw Perseus springing toward her; and instead of the monster, a long, black rock, with the sea rippling quietly round it."

Perseus had turned the monster into stone by holding the awful head of Medusa before his eyes; and it was fear lest Andromeda herself might see the Gorgon's head, and suffer the fate of all who looked upon it, that had led him to forbid her watching him when he attacked her enemy. Of course he married her, and of course Cassiopeia, Andromeda's mother, and Cepheus, her father, gave their daughter's rescuer a royal welcome, and all the Ethiops rose up and blessed him for ridding the land of the monster. And now, if we choose, we can, any fair night, see the principal characters of this old romance shining in starry garb in the sky. Aratus saw them there in his day, more than two hundred years before Christ, and has left this description in his "Skies," as translated by Poste: