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fresh strength with every fall, he lifted him in his arms quite off the earth, so that he could not touch it even with his feet, and pressed him so tight in his arms that he died.

At last he came to Atlas, the huge giant who stood on the edge of the earth, and carried the vault of heaven on his shoulders, so that it might not fall upon the world and crush it. Atlas was brother to the father of Hesperides, so Hercules begged him to persuade his nieces to give him the apples. This was not because Hercules was afraid of the dragon, for he knew he could kill him, but because he did not like to take the apples by force from the nymphs. So Atlas went to the Hesperides, and while he was gone Hercules supported the heavens on his shoulders. And the Hesperides gave three apples to Atlas, and told him to give them to Hercules, on condition that he would promise to restore them; for everybody knew that Hercules always did what he had promised. When Atlas came back he wanted to leave Hercules there, to stand and carry the vault of heaven for ever; but Hercules threatened to let it fall; upon which Atlas took it on his back again and gave Hercules the apples. Hercules carried them to Eurystheus, telling him at the same time that he had promised to give them back again. Now Eurystheus wished very much to keep them, but he knew that if he did Jupiter would allow Hercules to punish him ; so he gave them back to Hercules, who sent them to the Hesperides. And this was the eleventh labour.

And now there was only one more labour to be accomplished, after which Hercules was to be free, and Eurystheus would have no right to command him any more. Eurystheus bade him fetch the dog Cerberus out of Hades.

Then Hercules went to Tænarus, a high rocky promontory in Greece; and between the rocks there were clefts and caverns through which one could descend into the infernal regions. Hercules entered one of these, and went on and on till he came to the River Styx, which flowed all round Hades, where Pluto was king. Over this river there was no bridge—only a ferry-boat in which Charon ferried backwards and forwards; and Charon said that Hercules was too big and heavy, and would sink his boat. However, he was forced to obey and ferry him over, and Mercury went with Hercules to show him the way. On the opposite side of the river Medusa, a Gorgon, appeared before him, the sight of whose head turned to stone all who were afraid of her; but she could not frighten Hercules, and he drew his sword upon her and she fled. At length he came to Cerberus, who would have torn to pieces any other living man, but when he saw Hercules he howled and hid himself under Pluto's throne. Then Hercules wished to offer a sacrifice to the gods; so he took a bull from a great herd belonging to Pluto. Pluto and Proserpine greeted Hercules kindly, and told him he was quite welcome to take Cerberus with him if he was able, and would promise to bring him back again. Now Cerberus was as large as an elephant, and had three heads and a mane of snakes, and his tail was a huge serpent; but Hercules put on the armour Vulcan had given him, and wound his lion's skin tightly round him, and seized Cerberus by the throat and dragged him away; and though the serpent, which was the dog's tail, kept biting him, he did not let him go, but went up through all the caverns by which he had descended; and when Cerberus saw the light of day he became quite furious, and the foam dropped from his mouth, and wherever it fell there sprang up poisonous plants which kill those who eat them. All who saw Cerberus fled, and Eurystheus hid himself at the sight of him. Then Hercules took him back

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again, and gave him to Charon, who ferried him back to the other side of the Styx. This was the twelfth and last labour of Hercules, and having accomplished that he was free again. But his father did not choose that he should live in ease and pleasure, without using the strength he had given him to punish the wicked and to help the oppressed; on the contrary, he bade him labour hard so long as he was on earth, and, above all, restrain his anger; and when he failed to do so, he was to bear the punishment for it with patience, as he had done while serving Eurystheus; and Jupiter promised that if he was obedient till the end of his life, he would receive him into Olympus and reward him richly for all he had endured on earth. Hercules might easily have punished the wicked Eurystheus for all his illusage, but he knew that he had endured his service as a chastisement; so he departed from Tiryns without doing him any harm.

This was the twelfth and last labour of Hercules, and having accomplished that he was free again. But his father did not choose that he should live in ease and pleasure, without using the strength he had given him to punish the wicked and to help the oppressed; on the contrary, he bade him labour hard so long as he was on earth, and, above all, restrain his anger; and when he failed to do so, he was to bear the punishment for it with patience, as he had done while serving Eurystheus ; and Jupiter promised that if he was obedient till the end of his life, he would receive him into Olympus and reward him richly for all he had endured on earth.

EPITAPH ON A HARE

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,

Nor swifter greyhound follow, Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,

Nor ear heard huntsman's hollo!

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,

Who, nursed with tender care, And to domestic bounds confined,

Was still a wild Jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took

His pittance every night, He did it with a jealous look,

And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,

And milk, and oats, and straw; Thistles, or lettuces instead,

He used to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regaled,

On pippin's russet peel;
And when his juicy salads failed,

Sliced carrot pleased him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,

Whereon he loved to bound, To skip and gambol like a fawn,

And swing himself around.

His frisking was at evening hours,

For then he lost his fear,
But most before approaching showers,

Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round rolling moons

He thus saw steal away, Dozing out all his idle noons,

And every night at play.

I kept him for his humour's sake,

For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,

And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath this walnut shade,

He finds his last long home;
And waits, in snug concealment laid,

Till gentler Puss shall come.

She, still more aged, feels the shocks

From which no care can save, And, partner once of Tiney's box,

Must soon partake his grave.

COWPER.

I kept him for his humour's sake,

For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,

And force me to a smile.

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