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Page 377

GREAT AMERICAN AUTHORS
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

I. HERCULES SEEKS THE GARDEN OF THE HESPERIDES
Did you ever hear of the golden apples that grew in the garden of the Hesperides? Ah, those were such apples as would bring a great price by the bushel if any of them could be found growing in the orchards of nowadays! But there is not, I suppose, a graft of that wonderful fruit on a single tree in the wide world. Not so much as a seed of those apples exists any longer.
And even in the old, old, half-forgotten times, before the garden of the Hesperides was overrun with weeds, a great many people doubted whether there could be real trees that bore apples of solid gold upon their branches. All had heard of them, but nobody remembered to have seen any. Children, nevertheless, used to listen open-mouthed to stories of the golden apple tree, and resolved to discover it when they should be big enough. Adventurous young men who desired to do a braver thing than any of their fellows set out in quest of this fruit. Many of them returned no more; none of them brought back the apples. No wonder that they found it impossible to gather them! It is said that there was a dragon beneath the tree with a hundred terrible heads, fifty of which were always on the watch while the other fifty slept.
In my opinion, it was hardly worth running so much risk for the sake of a solid golden apple. Had the apples been sweet, mellow, and juicy, indeed, that would be another matter. There might then have been some sense in trying to get at them, in spite of the hundred-headed dragon.

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