|By and by,
instead of the
wretched caves among the rocks, there was a little town on the top of
hill, with neat houses and a market place; and around it was a strong
with a single narrow gate just where the footpath began to descend to
plain. But as yet the place had no name.
while the king
and his wise men were sitting together in the market place and planning
how to make, the town become a rich, strong city, two strangers were
in the street. Nobody could tell how they came there. The guard at the
gate had not seen them; and no man had ever dared to climb the narrow
without his leave. But there the two strangers stood. One was a man,
other a woman; and they were so tall, and their faces were so grand and
noble, that those who saw them stood still and wondered and said not a
The man had
a robe of purple
and green wrapped round his body, and he bore in one hand a strong
with three sharp spear points at one end. The woman was not beautiful,
but she had wonderful gray eyes; and in one hand she carried a spear
in the other a shield of curious workmanship.
the name of this
town?" asked the man.
stared at him
in wonder, and hardly understood his meaning. Then an old man answered
and said, "It has no name. We who live on this hill used to be called
but since King Cecrops came, we have been so busy that we have had no
to think of names."
this King Cecrops?"
asked the woman.
"He is in
the market place
with the wise men," was the answer.
"Lead us to
him at once,"
said the man.
Cecrops saw the two
strangers coming into the market place, he stood up and waited for them
to speak. The man spoke first:
Neptune," said he,
"and I rule the sea."
"And I am
Athena," said the
woman, "and I give wisdom to men."
that you are planning
to make your town become a great city," said Neptune, "and I have come
to help you. Give my name to the place, and let me be your protector
patron, and the wealth of the whole world shall be yours. Ships from
land shall bring you merchandise and gold and silver; and you shall be
the masters of the sea."
makes you fair
promises," said Athena; "but listen to me. Give my name to your city,
let me be your patron, and I will give you that which gold cannot buy:
I will teach you how to do a thousand things of which you now know
I will make your city my favorite home, and I will give you wisdom that
shall sway the minds and hearts of all men until the end of time."
bowed, and turned
to the people, who had all crowded into the market place. "Which of
mighty ones shall we elect to be the protector and patron of our city?"
he asked. "Neptune offers us wealth; Athena promises us wisdom. Which
and wealth!" cried
as many others.
when it was plain
that the people could not agree, an old man whose advice was always
stood up and said:
mighty ones have only
given us promises, and they have promised things of which we are
For who among us knows what wealth is or what wisdom is? Now, if they
only give us some real gift, right now and right here, which we can see
and handle, we should know better how to choose."
true! that is true!"
cried the people.
then," said the
strangers, "we will each give you a gift, right now and right here, and
then you may choose between us."
gave the first gift.
He stood on the highest point of the hill where the rock was bare, and
bade the people see his power. He raised his three-pointed spear high
the air, and then brought it down with great force. Lightning flashed,
the earth shook, and the rock was split half way down to the bottom of
the hill. Then out of the yawning crevice there sprang a wonderful
white as milk, with long slender legs, an arching neck, and a mane and
tail of silk.
had never seen
anything like it before, and they thought it a new kind of bear or wolf
or wild boar that had come out of the rock to devour them. Some of them
ran and hid in their houses, while others climbed upon the wall, and
others grasped their weapons in alarm. But when they saw the creature
quietly by the side of Neptune, they lost their fear and came closer to
see and admire its beauty.
"This is my
gift," said Neptune.
"This animal will carry your burdens for you; he will draw your
he will pull your wagons and your plows; he will let you sit on his
and will run with you faster than the wind."
OUT OF THE
THERE SPRANG A WONDERFUL CREATURE