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


Page 396

GREAT AMERICAN AUTHORS
THE THREE GOLDEN APPLES

Oh, my sweet little people, you have no idea what a weight there was in that same blue sky which looks so soft and aerial above our heads! And there, too, was the bluster of the wind, and the chill and watery clouds, and the blazing sun, all taking turns to make Hercules uncomfortable. He began to be afraid that the giant would never come back. He gazed wistfully at the world beneath him and acknowledged to himself that it was a far happier kind of life to be a shepherd at the foot of a mountain than to stand on its dizzy summit and bear up the firmament with his might and main. For, of course, as you will easily understand, Hercules had an immense responsibility on his mind, as well as a weight on his head and shoulders. Why, if he did not stand perfectly still and keep the sky immovable, the
sun would perhaps be put ajar! Or, after nightful, a great many of the stars might be loosened from their places and shower down like fiery rain upon the people's heads! And how ashamed would the hero be if, owing to his unsteadiness beneath its weight, the sky should crack and show a great fissure quite across it!
I know not how long it was before, to his unspeakable joy, he beheld the huge shape of the giant, like a cloud, on the far-off edge of the sea. At his nearer approach Atlas held up his hand, in which Hercules could perceive three
magnificent golden apples as big as pumpkins, all hanging from one branch.
" I am glad to see you again," shouted Hercules when the giant was within hearing. "So you have got the golden apples?" .
"Certainly, certainly," answered Atlas; "and very fair apples they are. I took the finest that grew on the tree, I assure you. Ah, it is a beautiful spot, that garden of the Hesperides! Yes, and the draaon with a hundred heads is a

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