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THE SPARTAN TWINS
By Lucy Fitch Perkins
LIST OF CHARACTERS
I. COMPANY AT THE FARM
II. THE STRANGER’S STORY
III. THE SHEPHERDS
IV. SOWING AND REAPING
V. THE TWINS GO TO ATHENS
VI. THE FESTIVAL OF ATHENA
VII. HOME AGAIN
THE SPARTAN TWINS
The Characters in this Story are:—
MELAS, a Spartan living on the Island of Salamis, just off the coast of
Greece. He is Overseer on the Farm of Pericles, Archon of Athens.
LYDIA, Wife of Melas, and Mother of Dion and Daphne.
DION and DAPHNE, Twin Son and Daughter of Melas and Lydia.
CHLOE, a young slave girl, belonging to Melas and Lydia. She had been
abandoned by her parents when she was a baby, and left by the roadside to
die of neglect or be picked up by some passer-by. She was found by Lydia
and brought up in her household as a slave.
ANAXAGORAS, “the Stranger,” a Philosopher,—friend of Pericles.
PERICLES, Chief Archon of Athens.
LAMPON, a Priest.
A Priest of the Erechtheum.
DROMAS, LYCIAS, and Others, Slaves on the Farm of Pericles.
Time: About the middle of the Fifth Century B.C.
[Illustration: Plan of home of the Spartan Twins]
COMPANY AT THE FARM
One lovely spring morning long years ago in Hellas, Lydia, wife of
Melas the Spartan, sat upon a stool in the court of her house, with her
wool-basket beside her, spinning. She was a tall, strong-looking young
woman with golden hair and blue eyes, and as she twirled her distaff and
twisted the white wool between her fingers she sang a little song to
herself that sounded like the humming of bees in a garden.
The little court of the house where she sat was open to the sky, and the
afternoon sun came pouring over the wall which surrounded it, and made a
brilliant patch of light upon the earthen floor. The little stones which
were embedded in the earth to form a sort of pavement glistened in the
sun and seemed to play at hide and seek with the moving shadow of Lydia’s
distaff as she spun. On the thatch which covered the arcade around
three sides of the court pigeons crooned and preened their feathers, and
from a room in the second story of the house, which opened upon a little
gallery enclosing the fourth side of the court, came the clack clack of
As she spun, the shadow of Lydia’s distaff grew longer and longer across
the floor until at last the sunlight disappeared behind the wall, leaving
the whole court in gray shadow.
Under the gallery a large room opened into the court. The embers of a
fire glowed dully upon a stone hearth in the center of this room, and
beyond, through an open door, fowls could be seen wandering about the
farm-yard. Suddenly the quiet of the late afternoon was broken by a
medley of sounds. There were the bleating of sheep, and the tinkle of
their bells, the lowing of cattle and the barking of a dog, the soft
patter of bare feet and the voices of children.
Then there was a sudden squawking among the hens in the farm-yard,
and through the back door, past the glowing hearth and into the court,
rushed two children, followed by a huge shepherd dog. The children were
blue-eyed and golden-haired, like their Mother, and looked so big and
strong that they might easily have passed for twelve years of age, though
they really were but ten. They were so exactly alike that their Mother
herself could hardly tell which was Dion and which was Daphne, and, as
for their Father, he didn’t even try. He simply said whichever name came
first to his lips, feeling quite sure that the children would always be
able to tell themselves apart, at any rate. Daphne, to be sure, wore
her chiton a little longer than Dion wore his, but when they were running
or playing games she often pulled it up shorter through her girdle, so
even that was not a sure sign.
Lydia looked from one of them to the other as the children came bounding
into the court, with Argos, the dog, barking and leaping about them, and
smiled with pride.
“Where have you been, you wild creatures?” she said to the twins, “I
haven’t seen you since noon,” and “Down, Argos, down,” she cried to the
dog, who had put his great paws in her lap and was trying to kiss her on
“We’ve been down in the field by the spring with Father,” Dion shouted,
“and Father is bringing a man home to supper!”
“Company!” gasped Lydia, throwing up her hands. “Whoever can it be at
this time of the day and in such an out of the way place as this? And
nothing but black broth ready for supper! I might have had a roast
fowl at least if only I had known. Where are they now?”
“They are coming down the road,” said Dion. “They stopped to see the
sheep and cattle driven into the farm-yard. They’ll be here soon.”
Lydia thrust her distaff into the wool-basket by her side and rose
hastily from her stool. “There’s no time to lose,” she said. “The
Stranger will not wish to linger here if he expects to reach Ambelaca
to-night. It is a good two miles to the village, and he’ll not find a
boat crossing to the mainland after dark. I am sure of that,
unlessperhaps he has one waiting for him there.”
As she spoke, Lydia drew her skirt shorter through her girdle and started
for the hearth-fire in the room beyond. “Shoo,” she cried to the hens,
which had followed the children into the house and were searching
hopefully for something to eat among the ashes, “you’ll burn your toes as
like as not! Begone, unless you want to be put at once into the pot! Go
for them, Argos! Dion, you feed them. They’ll be under foot until they’ve
had their supper, and it’s time they were on the roost this minute!
Daphne, your face is dirty; go wash it, while I get the fire started and
see if I can’t find something to eat more fitting to set before a guest.”
While the children ran to carry out their Mother’s orders, Lydia herself
seized the bellows and blew upon the embers of the fire. “By all the
Gods!” she cried, “there’s not a stick of wood in the house.” She dropped
the bellows and ran into the court. From the room above still came the
clack clack of the loom. Lydia looked up at the gallery of the second
story and clapped her hands.
“Chloe, Chloe,” she called. The clacking suddenly stopped, and a young