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|Story III. - Theseus||Charles Kingsley|
Part III - How Theseus Slew The Minotaur
|Page 2 of 3||
But Theseus stood before Minos, and they looked each other in the face. And Minos bade take them to prison, and cast them to the monster one by one, that the death of Androgeos might be avenged. Then Theseus cried -
'A boon, O Minos! Let me be thrown first to the beast. For I came hither for that very purpose, of my own will, and not by lot.'
'Who art thou, then, brave youth?'
'I am the son of him whom of all men thou hatest most, AEgeus the king of Athens, and I am come here to end this matter.'
And Minos pondered awhile, looking steadfastly at him, and he thought, 'The lad means to atone by his own death for his father's sin;' and he answered at last mildly -
'Go back in peace, my son. It is a pity that one so brave should die.'
But Theseus said, 'I have sworn that I will not go back till I have seen the monster face to face.'
And at that Minos frowned, and said, 'Then thou shalt see him; take the madman away.'
And they led Theseus away into the prison, with the other youths and maids.
But Ariadne, Minos' daughter, saw him, as she came out of her white stone hall; and she loved him for his courage and his majesty, and said, 'Shame that such a youth should die!' And by night she went down to the prison, and told him all her heart; and said -
'Flee down to your ship at once, for I have bribed the guards before the door. Flee, you and all your friends, and go back in peace to Greece; and take me, take me with you! for I dare not stay after you are gone; for my father will kill me miserably, if he knows what I have done.'
And Theseus. stood silent awhile; for he was astonished and confounded by her beauty: but at last he said, 'I cannot go home in peace, till I have seen and slain this Minotaur, and avenged the deaths of the youths and maidens, and put an end to the terrors of my land.'
'And will you kill the Minotaur? How, then?'
'I know not, nor do I care: but he must be strong if he be too strong for me.'
Then she loved him all the more, and said, 'But when you have killed him, how will you find your way out of the labyrinth?'
'I know not, neither do I care: but it must be a strange road, if I do not find it out before I have eaten up the monster's carcase.'
Then she loved him all the more, and said - 'Fair youth, you are too bold; but I can help you, weak as I am. I will give you a sword, and with that perhaps you may slay the beast; and a clue of thread, and by that, perhaps, you may find your way out again. Only promise me that if you escape safe you will take me home with you to Greece; for my father will surely kill me, if he knows what I have done.'
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