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The Spartan Twins
by Lucy (Fitch) Perkins
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"It isn't so very far to drop," whispered Dion. "I've dropped from the balustrade into the court lots of times at home."

"All right," said Daphne, "You drop first, and I'll follow."

Dion turned, stuck his head out as far as possible, and looked in every direction. Then he let himself down from the sill, hung to it for a moment by his hands, and dropped like a cat to the ground. He flattened himself against the wall of the temple, and in another moment Daphne was safe beside him.

"Now," whispered Dion, "we'll run like everything around behind the temple to the statue of Athena."

Hand in hand through the moonlight they sped, and were soon in the shadow of the great bronze statue.

"Let's wait here a minute and look around," whispered Dion.

They crouched down in the shadow and looked back. Their hearts almost stopped beating when they saw two cloaked figures emerge from the temple, and they recognized Lampon and the priest of the Erechthcum. The two men passed so near the statue that the children could plainly hear their voices, though they spoke in low tones.

"We will wait at the head of the street of the Amphorae," they heard Lampon say. "He is sure to pass that way. It will relieve my tongue to tell him some things in the guise of a common ruffian which I could not say as a priest."

"You did well to recognize those brats," said the priest of the Erechtheum. "They might have upset all our plans if we had not kept them safe."

The two brats behind the statue shook their fists at the retreating figures. They waited until the sound of footsteps had died away, and then they made a quick dash from the shadow and flew down the incline up which the procession had come in the morning. In a moment they were at the bottom. They could just see the dark figures of the priests disappearing toward the north. The children shrank back again into the shadow.

"What shall we do next?" said Daphne. "We don't know our way anywhere at all. We don't even know where our uncle lives."

"What was the name of that rich man at whose house they said Pericles was going to the banquet?" asked Dion, with a sudden inspiration.

"Oh, dear," said Daphne, "I can't think. Let me see. Hip—-Hip—"

"Ponicus," finished Dion, "that's it! Surely any Athenian would know where a rich man like Hipponicus lives. We must just go along until we meet some one we can ask."

"Suppose we should meet Lampon!" shuddered Daphne.

"We shan't," said Dion; "they've gone off that way. They are going to the street of the Amphorae. We should recognize that street. It has the long row of vases, don't you remember? We went through it this morning."

"If we can find the house of Hipponicus and warn Pericles about the priests, I'm sure he'll take care of us," said Daphne.

Encouraged by this thought, the two children passed boldly out of the shadow and ran westward. They passed a few people, but for the most part, the street was deserted, and they met no one they dared speak to. At last they came to the city wall and a gate.

"Now what shall we do?" murmured Daphne. "We can't go any farther this way."

"Why, I know this place," Dion whispered joyfully. "It's the gate that opens into the paved road to the Piraeus. It's the very gate we came through this morning! The luck is surely with us now."

"Let's stay here and speak to the first person that comes along," said Daphne. "I'm sure it will be the right one."

The two children waited with beating hearts. A tall figure now appeared walking toward the gate, followed by a slave carrying a torch. As the man drew near, the children went boldly out to meet him.

"Can you tell us the way to the house of Hipponicus?" asked Dion politely.

The man stopped, and the slave held the torch so his master could see the faces of the children.

"By all the Gods," said the man, "what are you children doing out here at this time of the night?"

"The Stranger! Anaxagoras!" cried Daphne. "Oh, I knew Athena would help us!" and the two children threw themselves into his arms, so great was their relief and joy.

They told him the whole story of their adventure on the Acropolis and why they wanted to find the house of Hipponicus.

"Well," said Anaxagoras, when they had finished, "I live in the Piraeus. I was on my way home, but now I shall go with you to the house of Hipponicus, and you shall tell your story to Pericles himself."



VII

HOME AGAIN

Under the guidance and protection of Anaxagoras and the slave, the children were soon ushered into the court of the richest house in Athens, and then Anaxagoras sent a message to Pericles, who was dining with a group of men in a large room opening off the court. When the slave opened the door of the banquet-room, the children caught a glimpse of men reclining on couches, with wreaths about their heads, and heard for an instant the sound of laughter and gay voices. The smell of food came also, and the Twins sniffed the delicious odor hungrily. Soon Pericles appeared, wearing a wreath upon his brow, and, as Daphne thought, looking more like a God than ever. Anaxagoras told him the story which the Twins had told to him.

"A very neat plot! Is it not?" said Pericles gravely, when Anaxagoras had finished.

"They said something about you too," said Daphne, lifting her eyes to Anaxagoras.

"Indeed!" said Anaxagoras. "So I am in it, too! What did they say?"

"They said you were an old fox," said Daphne. The two men laughed.

"I trust I may live up to their opinion of me," said Anaxagoras.

Then Pericles looked at the children and laid his hand gently upon their tousled heads.

"So you ran alone through Athens at night to warn me, did you?" he said. "And you have been in great danger for my sake? I shall know how to deal with those two pious old serpents of the Acropolis. Thanks to you, I shall not fall into their coils. And Pericles does not forget an obligation. Now, my little Spartans," he added, tipping up their chins and looking at their pale and pinched faces, "it's time you had something to eat!"

He clapped his hands and a slave appeared. "Say to Hipponicus that two friends of Pericles are in the court, and he begs that they may be served there with the best the house affords."

The slave disappeared and soon returned bringing such a feast as the Twins had never tasted in their whole lives before. Pericles waited, talking quietly with Anaxagoras, until their hunger was partly appeased, and then he spoke to them again.

"Now, my brave Spartans," he said, "since you have been so considerate of my safety, it is well that I should look after yours. Have you any idea where your Father may be found? He is probably searching the town for you."

"We were to spend the night at the house of my Uncle Phaon, the stone-cutter," said Dion, "but we don't know where he lives."

"Phaon," said Pericles, stroking his beard. "Is he not a workman in the shop of Phidias the sculptor? He has a stone-cutter of that name, and, now I think of it, he is called Phaon the Spartan."

"That must be my uncle," said Dion, "but I don't know where he lives. I have never been to Athens before, and Uncle Phaon does not come to the farm."

"We can find out from Phidias," said Anaxagoras, and, turning to his slave, he said, "Run quickly to the house of Phidias and say to him that Pericles the Archon wishes to know where to find the house of Phaon the stone-cutter."

The slave sped away and returned in a short time with the message that Phaon lived near the northwest gate. "And I know the way there," added the slave.

"Very well," said Anaxagoras. "We will take these children there. Then I will await you at your house, Pericles, for I wish to hear the end of the story, and to know how you deal with those two old traitors."

"Now that I know their purpose," said Pericles, "it is easy to defeat it! I shall return no word to their abuse. When I reach my house, I shall politely offer my assailant the escort of my slave, to light him home with his torch."

Anaxagoras laughed heartily.

"Good," he cried, "and humorous as well. A torch to light up their evil faces is the last thing in the world they would wish to have. You could not devise a more perfect plan to foil their wicked schemes."

"I wish all plots might be as easily frustrated," said Pericles gravely. Then, turning to the children, he added kindly: "You have nothing further to fear. My good friend Anaxagoras and his slave will see you safely to your uncle's house, and he will surely know where to find your Father."

"You won't let Lampon catch us and sell us for slaves, will you?" begged Daphne, shuddering. "They said they would sell us in Alexandria."

Pericles' brow darkened. "They threatened that, did they?" he exclaimed. "The wretches shall not lay a finger on you! Pericles the Archon has said it. And now you must hurry away. Your Father will be torn with anxiety until he sees you again. To-morrow morning I shall send a messenger to your uncle's house with a package for you, which you must not open until you are safe at home again. And when you grow up to be strong, brave men, I shall expect you to be generals in the army of Athens at the very least."

"I can't grow up to be a strong, brave man," said Daphne in a very small voice. "I wish I could. But I'm a girl."

"A girl!" cried Pericles in amazement, "and so brave! Surely then you will at least be the mother of heroes some time. But after this stay more quietly at home, my child. Women should have no history." And he disappeared through the door into the banquet-hall.

When the Twins, accompanied by Anaxagoras and the slave, finally reached the house of their uncle, they found the door open and people hurrying excitedly to and fro, carrying torches in their hands. In the court of the house stood Melas, talking with Phaon and his wife.

"I have searched every nook and cranny of the Acropolis," Melas was saying. "I do not see how they could have escaped me."

"It's a punishment of the Gods," said the wife of Phaon. "You should not have let Daphne run the streets like a boy. It's against nature. No decent Athenian girl would be allowed to. I never put my nose out of my Mother's house exeept on the days of women's festivals until I was married."

"But, my dear," said Phaon mildly, "you forget the Spartans are different."

"I should say they were!" snapped the wife of Phaon, "and now they may see what comes of it. It's my opinion these wild children have fallen off the cliffs on the north side of the Acropolis."

Melas shuddered, sank down upon a stool, and hid his face. Just at that moment there was a sudden rush of feet behind him and he felt four arms flung about his neck. Spartan though he was, Melas trembled, and his eyes were wet as he clasped his children in his arms, Anaxagoras stood in the doorway a moment smiling at the happy group, and then gently slipped away without waiting for any thanks.

Early the next morning a basket addressed to the "brave children of Melas the Spartan, from Pericles the Archon," was delivered by a slave at the door of Phaon. The Twins had been eagerly expecting it, and when it arrived they were no less eager to start for home, since Pericles had told them not to open it until they were under their own roof once more. Their aunt, the wife of Phaon, was filled with curiosity to know the contents. Moreover, since she had learned the whole story of the night before and knew that the children had won the favor and were now under the avowed protection of Pericles, her respect for them and for Spartans in general had greatly increased.

"Let us see what gifts the great Pericles has sent you!" she cried, when the package came.

"No, no," said Daphne hastily. "He said we should not open it until we got home."

"Very well, then," said the wife of Phaon, sulkily, "only then I shall never see what's in it."

"Well," said Daphne piously, "you remember about Pandora, don't you? I wouldn't dare open it until the time comes!"

To this the aunt could make no reply, Melas, too, had no wish to linger in Athens after the experience of the day before. The children were in terror of meeting Lampon, and Melas himself felt it would be a great load off his mind to get them safely back to their quiet house on Salamis once more and into their Mother's care. So they bade Phaon and his wife good-bye and started before noon for the Piraeus.

At the dock they found the boat ready for its return journey across the bay. Nearby was the large black hull of an African ship, bound for Alexandria. Dion pointed to it.

"Suppose we were on that this minute," he said to Daphne, and Daphne covered her eyes and shook with horror at the mere thought of it.

It was nearly night when the three weary wanderers climbed the last hill and turned from the roadway into the path which led to the old farm-house. Lydia was standing in the doorway with Chloe behind her, smiling, and Argos came bounding out to meet them, wagging his tail and barking for joy.

It was a happy party that gathered around the hearth fire that night. Lydia had prepared a wonderful feast to greet the travelers. There were roast chicken, and sausages too, and goat's milk, and figs. They opened the basket by fire-light, and if all the Christmases of your whole life had been rolled into one, it couldn't have been more wonderful to you than the gifts of Pericles were to Dion and Daphne. There was a soft robe of scarlet for each of them, with golden clasps to fasten it. There were a purse of gold coins and two beautiful parchment books—all written by hand, for of course there were no printed books in those days. There were gifts for their Father and Mother, too, and, best of all, a letter written with Pericles' own hand and addressed to "Euripides the Poet, of Salamis." With it came a note to Melas, saying he might read the letter, as he wished him to know its contents. This was the letter:—

"Pericles the Archon to Euripides the Poet, Greetings.

"The bearers of this letter are friends of mine who have rendered me a great service. By their timely warning I was enabled to foil a plot to make me appear to the public as an enemy of the Gods. As sufficient recompense I commend them to your friendship. No greater service can be rendered Athens than to raise up noble and patriotic defenders. To this end I commit these children to your guidance, the girl no less than the boy. Give them, I beg, the benefit of your wisdom, since they have proven themselves worthy of such honor, and Athens shall one day thank you for this service."

And so it was that Dion and Daphne, the Spartans, not only mastered the learning of their time, but also became the friends of Pericles the Athenian and of Euripides the Poet, and perhaps now wander with them in the Elysian Fields.

* * * * *

A study period for the working out of the pronunciation of the more difficult names and words will be the only preparation for reading The Spartan Twins needed by the average fifth grade class. The story can usually be read at sight in the sixth grade.

It will admirably supplement the study of Greek History in these grades. The essential thing is for the teacher to provide the proper background for the story. The value in the history of the Greeks lies in the lessons of bravery and of love of country that it brings us, and in the inspiration and beauty of the myths, dramas, poems, and orations, the statues and temples that survive to our time. The fundamental aim in its study in the fifth and sixth grades is not so much to store the child's mind with details as to make such impressions as will guide him to a later appreciation of why we remember the Greeks, and what we have learned from them.

In these days of a "new internationalism," the teacher's most immediate duty is to bring her pupils to a realization of what Americanism and democracy mean, and that each is a development from the past. To do this, she should explain that before there were immigrants, there were discoverers and colonists, from Spain, England, and France; and that these countries had their origin in colonies from Rome, herself a colony from Greece. The teacher should explain that the spirit in these ancient cities that inspired colonization, trade, and empire was the inherent and ineradicable desire of men, first, for the opportunity of ruling themselves, and then to establish bonds of union against foreign aggression. Children will then perceive that the ancient Greeks were men quite like ourselves; and that they began the ways of government which we have, and which our forefathers brought to America. So much for what we learned from the Greeks.

As to why we remember them, let the teacher recall the stories already familiar through supplementary reading in literature, the Golden Fleece, Hercules, the Siege of Troy, the Wanderings of Ulysses; let her point out Greek cities which still exist, Athens, Marseilles, Alexandria, Constantinople; let her tell the stories of Marathon, of Leonidas and Thermopylae, and of Salamis; let her show pictures of Athens, the most splendid city of ancient Greece, of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Venus of Milo, the Hermes of Praxiteles, the Discus Thrower, and so on.

This book affords opportunity to contrast the way in which children were brought up in Sparta with the way in which they were brought up in Athens. The ideals of these two city-states also may be contrasted. Although cities might have separate interests, it should be shown that throughout Greece there were interests in common, of which the people were reminded through the Olympic games.

The teacher is referred to the following volumes for further assistance in re-creating the atmosphere of ancient Greece:—

Tappan's The Story of the Greek People, Old World Hero Stories, and Our European Ancestors; Hawthorne's Wonder-Book and Tanglewood Tales; Peabody's Old Creek Folk Stories; Bryant's translation of the Odyssey and of the Iliad; Palmer's translation of the Odyssey; Hopkinson's Greek Leaders; Plutarch's Alexander the Great; Marden's Greece and the AEgean Islands; Hurll's Greek Sculpture and How to Show Pictures to Children; Masterpieces of Greek Literature.

Like all the other Volumes in the "Twins Series," The Spartan Twins furnishes ample subjects for dramatization. The unique illustrations should be of assistance, and other illustrations in most of the books referred to above also will help to show scenery, costumes, furniture, and utensils.

The story will suggest many topics for class discussion, and in addition such questions as the following will help the pupils to visualize the Greece of the past:—

1. Why would ancient Greece have been a pleasant country to live in?

2. How would it affect your home town if it were shut off from all others?

3. Judging from the Greek stories, what sort of men did they regard as heroes? What sort of men do we regard as heroes to-day?

4. In the stories of gods and heroes, are there scenes that would make good pictures?

5. Imagine you are Pericles, and make a speech telling the Athenians why they ought to beautify their city.

6. What could be done to beautify the place in which you live?

7. Which one of the Greeks or their heroes do you regard as the greatest man? Why?

8. What was good and what was not good in the training of the Spartan boys?

9. In what respects was the training of the Athenian boys better?

10. How do the ideas of one child become known to other children? How do the ideas of one country become known to other countries?

11. Had the Greeks good reasons for emigrating?

12. Imagine that you are an ancient Greek and tell why you became a colonist.

THE END

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