Books > Old Books >The Elson Readers Book Six (1910)


Page 380

GREAT AMERICAN AUTHORS
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

"Go back!" cried they all; "go back to your own home! Your mother, beholding you safe and sound, will shed tears of joy; and what can she do more, should you win ever so great a victory? No matter for the golden apples! No matter for the king, your cruel cousin! We do not wish the dragon with the hundred heads to eat you up."
The stranger seemed to grow impatient at these remonstrances. He carelessly lifted his mighty club and let it fall upon a rock that lay half-buried in the earth near by.
With the force of that idle blow the great rock was shattered all to pieces. It cost the stranger no more effort to achieve this feat of a giant's strength than for one of the young maidens to touch her sister's rosy cheek with a flower.
" Do you not believe," said he, looking at the damsels with a smile, "that such a blow would have crushed one of the dragon's hundred heads?"
Then he sat down on the grass and told them the story of his life, or as much of it as he could remember, from the day when he was first cradled in a warrior's brazen shield.
While he lay there, two immense serpents came gliding over the floor and opened their hideous jaws to devour him, and he, a baby of a few months old, had gripped one of the fierce snakes in each of his little fists and strangled them to death. When he was but a stripling, he had killed a huge lion, almost as big as the one whose vast and shaggy hide he now wore upon his shoulders. The next thing that he had done was to fight a battle with an ugly sort of monster called a hydra, which had no less than nine heads and exceedingly sharp teeth in every one of them.
"But the dragon of the Hesperides, you know," observed one of the damsels, "has a hundred heads!"
" Nevertheless," replied the stranger, "I would rather fight two such dragons than a single hydra. For as fast as

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