|A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys|
|by Nathaniel Hawthorne|
|Delightful retelling of six Greek myths to a crowd of energetic youngsters by a master storyteller. Includes The Gorgonís Head, The Golden Touch, The Paradise of Children, The Three Golden Apples, and The Miraculous Pitcher. Ages 9-12 |
PWARD, along the steep and wooded hill-side, went
Eustace Bright and his companions. The trees were not
yet in full leaf, but had budded forth sufficiently to
throw an airy shadow, while the sunshine filled them
with green light. There were moss-grown rocks, half
hidden among the old, brown, fallen leaves; there were
rotten tree-trunks, lying at full length where they had
long ago fallen; there were decayed boughs, that had
been shaken down by the wintry gales, and were
scattered everywhere about. But still, though these
things looked so aged, the aspect of the wood was that
of the newest life; for, whichever way you turned your
eyes, something fresh and green was springing forth, so
as to be ready for the summer.
At last, the young people reached the upper verge of
the wood, and found themselves almost at the summit of
the hill. It was not a peak, nor a great round ball,
but a pretty wide plain, or
 table-land, with a house
and barn upon it, at some distance. That house was the
home of a solitary family; and oftentimes the clouds,
whence fell the rain, and whence the snow-storm drifted
down into the valley, hung lower than this bleak and
On the highest point of the hill was a heap of stones,
in the centre of which was stuck a long pole, with a
little flag fluttering at the end of it. Eustace led
the children thither, and bade them look around, and
see how large a tract of our beautiful world they could
take in at a glance. And their eyes grew wider as they
Monument Mountain, to the southward, was still in the
centre of the scene, but seemed to have sunk and
subsided, so that it was now but an undistinguished
member of a large family of hills. Beyond it, the
Taconic range looked higher and bulkier than before.
Our pretty lake was seen, with all its little bays and
inlets; and not that alone, but two or three new lakes
were opening their blue eyes to the sun. Several white
villages, each with its steeple, were scattered about
in the distance. There were so many farm-houses, with
their acres of woodland, pasture, mowing-fields, and
tillage, that the children could hardly make room in
their minds to receive all these different objects.
There, too, was Tanglewood, which they had hitherto
thought such an important apex of the world. It now
occupied so small a space, that they gazed far beyond
it, and on either side, and searched a good while with
all their eyes, before discovering whereabout it stood.
 White, fleecy clouds were hanging in the air, and threw
the dark spots of their shadow here and there over the
landscape. But, by and by, the sunshine was where the
shadow had been, and the shadow was somewhere else.
Far to the westward was a range of blue mountains,
which Eustace Bright told the children were the
Catskills. Among those misty hills, he said, was a spot
where some old Dutchmen were playing an everlasting
game of ninepins, and where an idle fellow, whose name
was Rip Van Winkle, had fallen asleep, and slept twenty
years at a stretch. The children eagerly besought
Eustace to tell them all about this wonderful affair.
But the student replied that the story had been told
once already, and better than it ever could be told
again; and that nobody would have a right to alter a
word of it, until it should have grown as old as "The
Gorgon's Head," and "The Three Golden Apples," and the
rest of those miraculous legends.
"At least," said Periwinkle, "while we rest ourselves
here, and are looking about us, you can tell us another
of your own stories."
"Yes, Cousin Eustace," cried Primrose, "I advise you to
tell us a story here. Take some lofty subject or other,
and see if your imagination will not come up to it.
Perhaps the mountain air may make you poetical, for
once. And no matter how strange and wonderful the story
may be, now that we are up among the clouds, we can
"Can you believe," asked Eustace, "that there was once
a winged horse?"
 "Yes," said saucy Primrose; "but I am afraid you will
never be able to catch him."
"For that matter, Primrose," rejoined the student, "I
might possibly catch Pegasus, and get upon his back,
too, as well as a dozen other fellows that I know of.
At any rate, here is a story about him; and, of all
places in the world, it ought certainly to be told upon
So, sitting on the pile of stones, while the children
clustered themselves at its base, Eustace fixed his
eyes on a white cloud that was sailing by, and began as
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