men would not
take "No!" for an answer, however. They could not believe that she
meant it, and so they kept coming and staying until the woods of
were full of them, and there was no getting along with them at all. So,
when she could think of no other way to get rid of them, Atalanta
them together and said:
to marry me, do
you? Well, if any one of you would like to run a race with me from this
mountain to the bank of the river over there, he may do so; and I will
be the wife of the one who outruns me."
all the young fellows.
listen!" she said.
"Whoever tries this race must also agree that if I outrun him, he must
lose his life."
long faces they
all had then! About half of them drew away and went home.
you give us the
start of you a little?" asked the others.
"I will give you the start by a hundred paces. But remember, if I
any one before he reaches the river, he shall lose his head that very
others now found
that they were in ill health or that business called them home; and
they were next looked for, they were not to be found. But a good many
had had some practice in sprinting across the country stayed and made
their minds to try their luck. Could a mere girl outrun such fine
as they? Nonsense!
And so it
happened that a
race was run almost every day. And almost every day some poor fellow
his head; for the fleetest-footed sprinter in all Greece was overtaken
by Atalanta long before he could reach the river bank. But other young
men kept coming and coming, and no sooner had one been put out of the
than another took his place.
there came from a
distant town a handsome, tall young man named Meilanion.
better not run with
me," said Atalanta, "for I shall be sure to overtake you, and that will
be the end of you."
about that," said
Meilanion, before coming
to try his chance, had talked with Venus, the queen of love, who lived
with Jupiter among the clouds on the mountain top. And he was so
and gentle and wise that Venus took pity on him, and gave him three
apples and told him what to do.
all was ready
for the race, Atalanta tried again to persuade Meilanion not to run,
she also took pity on him.
sure to overtake
you," she said.
right!" said Meilanion,
and away he sped; but he had the three golden applies in his pocket.
gave him a good
start, and then she followed after, as swift as an arrow shot from the
bow. Meilanion was not a very fast runner, and it would not be hard for
her to overtake him. She thought that she would let him get almost to
goal, for she really pitied him. He heard her coming close behind him;
he heard her quick breath as she gained on him very fast. Then he threw
one of the golden apples over his shoulder.
there was anything
in the world that Atalanta admired, it was a bright stone or a pretty
of yellow gold. As the apple fell to the ground she saw how beautiful
was, and she stopped to pick it up; and while she was doing this,
gained a good many paces. But what of that? In a minute she was as
behind him as ever. And yet, she really did pity him.
the second apple over his shoulder. It was handsomer and larger than
first, and Atalanta could not bear the thought of allowing some one
to get it. So she stopped to pick it up from among the long grass,
it had fallen. It took somewhat longer to find it than she had
and when she looked up again Meilanion was a hundred feet ahead of her.
But that was no matter. She could easily overtake him. And yet, how she
did pity the foolish young man!
heard her speeding
like the wind behind him. He took the third apple and threw it over to
one side of the path where the ground sloped towards the river.
quick eye saw that it was far more beautiful than either of the others.
If it were not picked up at once it would roll down into the deep water
and be lost, and that would never do. She turned aside from her course
and ran after it. It was easy enough to overtake the apple, but while
was doing so Meilanion gained upon her again. He was almost to the
How she strained every muscle now to overtake him! But, after all, she
felt that she did not care very much. He was the handsomest young man
she had ever seen, and he had given her three golden apples. It would
a great pity if he should have to die. And so she let him reach the
of course, Atalanta
became Meilanion's wife. And he took her with him to his distant home,
and there they lived happily together for many, many years.