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Hermes

from Nature Myths And Stories For Little Children





AEolus was the father of all the winds, great and small.

Long ago, they all lived happily together in a dark cave near the sea.

On holidays, North Wind, South Wind, East Wind and West Wind and their
faithful sisters, came home and told of their travels.

The whirlwinds performed their most wonderful feats, and the zephyrs
sang their sweetest songs.

These holidays, however, did not come often.

There were no idle children in the family of AEolus.

They swept and dusted the whole world. They carried water over all the
earth. They helped push the great ships across the ocean.

The smaller winds scattered the seeds and sprinkled the flowers, and did
many other things which you may find out for yourselves.

Indeed, they were so busy that AEolus was often left alone in his dark
home for several days at a time.

He was glad when one summer morning a baby came to the cave.

The baby's name was Hermes, but AEolus called him "Little Mischief,"
because he was so little and so full of tricks.

Zeus was Hermes' father and his mother was the beautiful Queen Maia. She
was often called "Star of Spring," because people thought that wherever
she stepped flowers sprang from under the snow.

AEolus loved Hermes dearly. He taught him many secrets which only the
winds know.

Hermes was a wise baby and understood all that AEolus told him.

When he was only two days old he could run and whistle as well as North
Wind.

One day while he was very young he climbed out of his cradle and ran
down to the seashore.

There he found an old tortoise shell. He picked it up and put a row of
holes along each edge of the shell.

Through these holes he wove some reeds which he found upon the seashore.
Then he blew softly upon the reeds.

The birds heard such wonderful music that they stopped to listen. The
leaves on the trees began to dance, and nodded to the flowers to keep
still.

The waves on the shore caught the tune and have been singing it ever
since.

Hermes had invented the lyre and brought a new kind of music into the
world. He soon tired of his lyre and went back to his cradle in the
cave.

As he lay there he could see a beautiful blue meadow with many white
cows upon it.

Hermes knew that the cows belonged to his brother, King Apollo.

"What fun," thought he, "I will go and make the cows run."

Off he ran after them until he was tired and out of breath.

Then he drove them all backward into a cave, and fastened them in.

King Apollo soon missed the cows and searched all the meadow for them.

He traced them to the cave, but when he came closer to it, he found that
all the tracks led from the opening, not into it.

Near the cave he saw an old man who told him that he had seen the cows.

He said that with them he had seen a baby with wings on his cap and
heels.

Apollo knew at once that the baby was his brother, Hermes.

He went straight to the cave of AEolus. There was Hermes in his cradle
playing with the shell just like any other baby.

Apollo was angry and commanded him to stop laughing and crowing and tell
him where the white cows were.

Hermes only picked up the shell and breathed softly upon it.

Apollo forgot his anger and everything but the beautiful music. He took
Hermes in his arms and kissed him and begged him to teach him his
secret.

Hermes was glad to be so easily forgiven. He gave Apollo the lyre and
taught him many ways to play upon it. Apollo was soon able to make even
sweeter music than Hermes, and he afterwards became the god of music.

He was so thankful to Hermes for his gift that he gave him a wonderful
rod called the caduceus.

Whatever Hermes touched with the rod became wise, loving and unselfish.
One time he saw two hissing serpents about to spring at each other in
fury.

He touched them with the caduceus. Instantly they twined themselves
lovingly around the rod and never again left it.

Apollo also gave Hermes charge over all the cows in the blue meadow.
Hermes loved the cows and often took them with him on his journeys.

He was a wild youth and a great traveler, and so it happens that in
nearly all the countries of the world Hermes and his white cows have
been seen.





Next: Iris' Bridge

Previous: Prometheus



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