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“We will then give you the best directions we can, replied the damsels. “You must go to the seashore, and find out the Old One, and compel him to inform you where the golden apples are to be found.”

“The Old One!” repeated Hercules, laughing at this odd name. “And, pray, who may the Old One be?”

?“Why, the Old Man of the Sea, to be sure!” answered one of the damsels. “You must talk with this

. Old Man of the Sea. He knows all about the garden 10 of the Hesperides; for it is situated in an island which he is in the habit of visiting.”

Hercules then asked whereabouts the Old One was most likely to be met with. When the damsels had

informed him, he thanked them for all their kindness, 15 and immediately set forth upon his journey.

But before he was out of hearing, one of the maidens called after him. "Keep fast hold of the Old One, when you catch him. Do not be astonished at anything that may happen. Only hold him fast, and he will tell

you 20 what you wish to know.'


Hastening forward, without ever pausing or looking behind, Hercules by and by heard the sea roaring at a a distance. At this sound, he increased his speed, and

soon came to a beach, where the great surf-waves 25 tumbled themselves upon the hard sand, in a long line of snowy foam. At one end of the beach, however, there was a pleasant spot, where some green shrubbery clambered up a cliff, making its rocky face look soft and beautiful. A carpet of verdant grass, mixed with sweetsmelling clover, covered the narrow space between the 5 bottom of the cliff and the sea. And what should he espy there, but an old man, fast asleep!

But was it really and truly an old man? Certainly, at first sight, it looked very like one; but, on closer inspection, it rather seemed to be some kind of a crea- 10 ture that lived in the sea. For on his legs and arms there were scales, such as fishes have; he was web-footed and web-fingered, after the fashion of a duck; and his long beard, being of a greenish tinge, had more the appearance of a tuft of seaweed than of an ordinary 15 beard. But Hercules, the instant he set eyes on this strange figure, was convinced that it could be no other than the Old One, who was to direct him on his way.

Yes, it was the selfsame Old Man of the Sea whom the hospitable maidens had talked to him about. Thank-20 ing his stars for the lucky accident of finding the old fellow asleep, Hercules stole on tiptoe toward him, and caught him by the arm and leg.

“Tell me,” cried he, before the Old One was well awake, “which is the way to the garden of the Hes-25 perides?

As you may easily imagine, the Old Man of the Sea

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him go.

awoke in a fright. But his astonishment could hardly have been greater than was that of Hercules, the next moment. For, all of a sudden, the Old One seemed to disappear out of his grasp, and he found himself holding a stag by the fore and hind leg! But still he kept fast 5 hold. Then the stag disappeared, and in its stead there was a sea bird, fluttering and screaming, while Hercules clutched it by the wing and claw! But the bird could not get away. Immediately afterwards, there was an ugly, three-headed dog, which growled and 10 barked at Hercules, and snapped fiercely at the hands by which he held him! But Hercules would not let

In another minute, instead of the threeheaded dog, what should appear but a six-legged monster, kicking at Hercules with five of his legs, in 15 order to get the remaining one at libery! But Hercules held on. By and by, the monster disappeared, but a huge snake took its place, like one of those which Hercules had strangled in his babyhood, only a hundred times as big; and it twisted and twined about the hero's 20 neck and body, and threw its tail high into the air, and opened its deadly jaws as if to devour him outright; so that it was really a very terrible spectacle ! But Hercules was no whit disheartened, and squeezed the great snake so tightly that he soon began to hiss 25 with pain.

You must understand that the Old Man of the Sea,

though he generally looked so much like the wavebeaten figurehead of a vessel, had the power of assuming any shape he pleased. When he found himself so roughly seized by Hercules, he had been in hopes of 5 putting him into such surprise and terror, by these magical transformations, that the hero would be glad to let him go.

If Hercules had relaxed his grasp, the Old One would certainly have plunged down to the

very bottom of the sea, whence he would not soon have 10 given himself the trouble of coming up, in order to answer any impertinent questions.

But, as Hercules held on so stubbornly, he finally thought it best to reappear in his own figure. So there

he was again, a fishy, scaly, web-footed sort of personage, 15 with something like a tuft of seaweed at his chin.

“Pray, what do you want with me?” cried the Old One, as soon as he could take breath.

“My name is Hercules !” roared the mighty stranger. “And you will never get out of my clutch until you

tel 20 me the nearest way to the garden of the Hesperides!”

When the old fellow heard who it was that had caught him, he saw, with half an eye, that it would be necessary to tell him everything that he wanted to know. “You

must go on, thus and thus,” said the Old Man of the Sea, 25 after taking ,

the points of the compass, “till you come in sight of a very tall giant, who holds the sky on his shoulders. And the giant, if he happens to be in the

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