THE STORY OF PHAETON
C. S. B. Adapted from the Greek myth.
 THERE was once a proud boy named Phaeton, who thought
he was able to do quite everything. But one day his
schoolmates laughed at him for being so proud, and
Phaeton ran home to his sisters and his mother—the
beautiful nymph, Clymene—crying: "Mother, mother, am I
not able to do everything?"
Clymene stroked his head sadly. She feared her boy
would meet with trouble, because he was so proud, but
she said: "Your father was Apollo. You should be as
great and strong as he. Go and ask the king of the sun
if you are able to do everything."
So Phaeton was happy once more, and he set out on a
long journey to the land of the sunrise. He traveled
for many days, until at last he found, at the top of a
steep mountain, the wonderful palace of the sun. Oh,
but it was beautiful!—all built and carved by the
skilled workman, Vulcan. It stood high, upon golden
columns, and it glittered with emeralds, and topazes,
and amethysts. The doors were made of silver, and the
ceilings were all of carved ivory. On the walls Vulcan
had set marvelous pictures of the earth, the sea, and
the sky. There were the woods, the rivers, and the
towns; the sea fairies riding on the fishes, or sitting
on the rocks to dry their sea-green hair. Last of all,
Vulcan had painted the sky and all the shining stars.
When Phaeton entered the great throne room the light
was so bright that it blinded him, for there was
Phoebus, the king of the sun, all dressed in purple and
sitting upon a throne which shone with diamonds.
 Near him stood his servants ready to do his bidding—the
Days, the Months, and the Years. Spring was there with
a wreath of flowers on her head. Summer stood near,
with a great sheaf of ripened grain in her arms.
Autumn's feet were stained with grape juice, and Winter
wore a mantle of ice and snow.
But in spite of all this splendor Phoebus reached out
his hand kindly to Phaeton. "What do you wish, my
son?" he asked.
"My father was Apollo," said Phaeton. "Am I not able to
"You may attempt mighty deeds," said Phoebus.
"Whatever you ask of me, that will I let you do."
Phaeton thought for a minute, and then he said: "For
one day I will drive the chariot of the sun!"
Then Phoebus was sorry that he had promised so much to
Phaeton. "My boy," he said, "none but myself may drive
the sun; not even Jupiter who hurls the thunderbolts.
The first part of the way is steep to climb, and the
middle part is so high to travel that I, myself, cannot
look down at the earth and seas beneath. The last part
of the journey is down so rapid a descent that you
would fall headlong. From morning till night the
heaven is turning around, and the stars twist about my
head. You must pass the Great Bear and the Small Bear;
the horns of the Bull; the Archer, who will shoot at
you; the Lion; and the Crab, who has such sharp claws.
My horses breathe fire, and they are so headstrong that
you could not drive them. Choose more wisely, my son,
than to ask me this."
But Phaeton was now bursting with pride. "I will
drive the sun," he said. So Phoebus led him out to the
chariot of the sun. Vulcan had built the chariot,
 also, with its axles of gold, and gold wheels
with silver spokes. All about the edge were
chrysolites and diamonds that dazzled and shone.
Phoebus led the horses from their stalls, and harnessed
them. Then he bathed Phaeton's face with sweet oils
that the sun might not burn him, and he fastened the
rays about Phaeton's head.
"My son, hold fast to the reins, and spare the whip,"
he said. "Follow the wheel tracks which you will see
in your path."
So Phaeton jumped into the chariot, and took the reins
in his hand. But the horses knew at once that it was
not their own master, Phoebus, who was driving them.
They stamped, and snorted, and breathed fire from their
nostrils. The chariot was light with only Phaeton in
it, so they jumped the bars of the Day, and they rushed
headlong through the clouds and away from the old road
they had always traveled.
Phaeton was frightened, indeed, but he could not stop
the horses. On and on they went! They scorched the
paws of the Great Bear and the Small Bear. Old Bootes,
who was quietly ploughing the skies, dropped his plough
and ran as far away as the north pole, in order to keep
cool. At last, right in his path, Phaeton saw the Crab
with his sharp claws spread out, and he was so
frightened that he forgot the names of his horses,
even, and he dropped the reins.
Then the horses dashed off wherever they liked. They
ran into the moon; they set the clouds to burning.
Down on the earth the mountains smoked, the forests
burst into flame, and the seas boiled. The rivers
began drying up; the crops were scorched black. I do
not know what would have happened in the end, had not
the mighty Jupiter just then thrust his
light-  ning sword through the clouds and hurled a great
thunderbolt at Phaeton. It stopped the horses at once,
who turned and went slowly back to the palace
of the sun; but poor Phaeton! Down, down he fell like a
shooting star, with his hair and clothing all on
fire—down—until he dropped in a deep river, and that
was the end of him!
For a long time his sisters and his mother, Clymene,
waited for him. At last his sisters changed to poplar
trees, which stood on the river bank and dropped tears
of amber into the water where Phaeton fell. And his
mother said, sadly:
"Phaeton was full of pride, but he failed in a great