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The Gorgons's Head

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FC: The Gorgon's Head By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1: PERSEUS was the son of Danae, who was the daughter of a king. And when Perseus was a very little boy, some wicked people put his mother and himself into a chest, and set them afloat upon the sea.

3: This fisherman was a good man with a good heart. He showed great kindness to Danae and her little boy until Perseus had grown to be a handsome youth, very strong and skillful in the use of arms. | It floated so near an island that it got entangled in a fisherman's nets, and was drawn out high and dry upon the sand. The island was called Seriphus, and it was reigned over by King Polydectes, who happened to be the fisherman's brother.

4: King Polydectes was not good and kind, like his brother the fisherman, but extremely wicked. He resolved to send Perseus on a dangerous enterprise, in which Perseus would probably be killed.

5: "Perseus," said King Polydectes, "you are grown up a fine young man and your mother have received great kindness from myself, as well as from my brother the fisherman. I suppose you would not be sorry to repay some of it." | "Please your Majesty," answered Perseus, "I would willingly risk my life to do so." So the King told Perseus that he wished to obtain the head of the Gorgon Medusa with the snaky locks, which was to be the bridal gift of his future wife, the beautiful Princess Hippodamia. "I will set out to-morrow morning," answered Perseus.

6: The news quickly spread abroad that Perseus had undertaken to cut off the head of Medusa with the snaky locks. Everybody was rejoiced; for most of the inhabitants of the island were as wicked as the king himself, and would have liked nothing better than to see some enormous mischief happen to Danae and her son.

7: They were three sisters, and seem to have borne some distant resemblance to women, but were really a very frightful and mischievous species of dragon. They had each of them a hundred enormous snakes growing on their heads, all alive, twisting, wriggling, curling, and thrusting out their venomous tongues. | Now, there were three Gorgons alive at that period; and they were the most terrible monsters that had ever been since the world was made.

8: The worst thing about the Gorgons was that, if once a poor mortal fixed his eyes full upon one of their faces, he was certain, that very instant to be changed into cold and lifeless stone! | Perseus came to realize that he had very little chance of coming safely through it. Not only must he slay this snaky-haired monster, but he must do it with his eyes shut, or, at least, without so much as a glance at the enemy with whom he was contending.

9: Sorrowful Perseus took his shield, girded on his sword, and crossed over from the island to the mainland, where he sat down in a solitary place. Here, he met a stranger named Quicksilver, who offered to help Perseus. "I am the very person to help you, if anybody can," said Quicksilver.

10: "First of all, you must polish your shield, till you can see your face in it as distinctly as in a mirror." Then he gave Perseus his own short and crooked sword. "No sword but mine will answer your purpose. The blade has a most excellent temper, and will cut through iron and brass as easily as through the slenderest twig."

11: "And now we will set out to find the Three Gray Women, who will tell us where to find the Nymphs." | "They are three very strange old ladies. They have but one eye among them, and only one tooth. Moreover, you must find them out by starlight, or in the dusk of the evening; for they never show themselves by the light either of the sun or moon."

12: Quicksilver explained to Perseus how the Three Gray Women managed with their one eye. They were in the habit, it seems, of changing it from one to another, as if it had been a pair of spectacles. When one of the three had kept the eye a certain time, she took it out of the socket and passed it to one of her sisters, whose turn it might happen to he, and who immediately clapped it into her own head, and enjoyed a peep at the visible world. | Upon reaching the dwelling of the Three Gray Women, Perseus managed to snatch the eye from them while they were passing it amongst themselves.

13: "You! you have our eye! And who are you?" screamed the Three Gray Women, for they were terribly frightened, of course, at hearing a strange voice, and discovering that their eyesight had got into the hands of they could not guess whom. Perseus assured them that he would return the eye if they told them where to find the Nymphs, which they eventually did. And so, he returned the eye.

14: Quicksilver and Perseus set on their way in quest of the Nymphs. | The Nymphs were young and beautiful, and they made no difficulty about giving Perseus the valuable articles he would need to help him defeat the Medusa; The flying slippers, the magic wallet, and the helmet of invisibility. Next, Quicksilver and Perseus were off to find the Gorgons.

15: Quicksilver's cap spread its wings, as if his head were about to fly away from his shoulders; but his whole figure rose lightly into the air, and wearing the winged flying slippers, Perseus followed. | In their swift voyage through the air, they had come within sight of the great ocean, and were soon flying over it. Far beneath them, the waves tossed themselves tumultuously in mid-sea, or rolled a white surf-line upon the long beaches.

16: Straight downward, Perseus perceived a small island. He descended towards it, and behold, there were the terrible Gorgons. They lay fast asleep. | Luckily for Perseus, their faces were hidden from him by the posture in which they lay. | "Be cautious. One of the Gorgons is stirring in her sleep, and is just about to turn over. That is Medusa. Do not look at her! The sight would turn you to stone! Look at the reflection of her face and figure in the bright mirror of your shield." Perseus now understood the reason to polish his shield. In its surface he could safely look at the reflection of the Gorgon's face.

17: Perseus flew cautiously downward, still keeping his eyes on Medusa's face, as reflected in his shield. At last, when he found himself hovering over her within arm's length, Perseus uplifted his sword, while, at the same instant, each separate snake upon the Gorgon's head stretched threateningly upward, and Medusa unclosed her eyes. | But she awoke too late. The sword was sharp; the stroke fell like a lightning-flash; and the head of the wicked Medusa tumbled from her body!

18: To the astonishment of Perseus, the magic wallet grew all at once large enough to contain Medusa's head. He snatched it up, with the snakes still writhing upon it, and thrust it in. "Your task is done. Now fly; for the other Gorgons will do their utmost to take vengeance for Medusa's death." He made a straight course for the island of Seriphus, in order to carry Medusa's head to King Polydectes.

19: When Perseus arrived at the island, the king had treated his mother so very ill that she escaped to a temple where some good old priests were extremely kind to her. Perseus went straight to the palace to see the king. "Have you performed your promise?" inquired he. "Yes, please your Majesty," answered Perseus. "I have brought you the Gorgon's head, snaky locks and all!" "Indeed! Pray let me see it," quoth King Polydectes. Perseus replied, "I would suggest that all your Majesty's subjects be summoned to behold this wonderful curiosity." The King agreed and Perseus would display the head for all of them.

21: On a platform, within full view, sat King Polydectes, his counsellors, Monarch, courtiers, and subjects, all gazed eagerly towards Perseus. "Show us the head! Show us the head!" shouted the people "Behold it, then!" cried Perseus, in a voice like the blast of a trumpet. And suddenly, at the first glimpse of the terrible head of Medusa, they whitened into marble! And Perseus thrust the head back into his wallet, and went to tell his dear mother that she need no longer be afraid of the wicked King Polydectes.

23: Links to images used http://files.vector-images.com/clipart/perseus1.gif http://karenswhimsy.com/public-domain-images/perseus/images/perseus-1.jpg http://www.dragoart.com/how-to-draw-medusa-t187-1.htm http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/gft/img/ http://www.jasonink.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/head.jpg http://images.elfwood.com/art/h/a/harding73/gorgon.jpg http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r304/EkMonique/MedusaTile29jul07.jpg http://northstargallery.com/stone/mon153web.jpg http://www.mainlesson.com/books/hawthorne/wonder/zpage026.gif http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31FYZF14B1L._SL500_AA273_.jpg http://www.heritage-history.com/books/hawthorne/wonder/zpage022.gif http://www.wordinfo.info/words/images/Hermes-med.gif http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Mabie-MythsEveryChildShouldKnow/pages/070-Perseus-and-the-Gorgon-Head/070-Perseus-and-the-Gorgon-Head-q75-500x375.jpg http://www.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/3104948/2/istockphoto_3104948_medusa_head_comic_style.jpg http://karenswhimsy.com/public-domain-images/ancient-greek-fashion/images/ancient-greek-fashion-1.jpg http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Mabie-MythsEveryChildShouldKnow/pages/047-The-Gorgon's-head/047-The-Gorgon's-head-q75-500x343.jpg

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  • Title: The Gorgons's Head
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