Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: Case of the Constant Chatterbox
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Herc had been using his brain quite a lot, solving cases for the Hercules Detective Agency. But he needed exercise for his muscles as well. A quick jaunt into town would not do it. Herc was the strongest half god half mortal in the world. He did not wish to lose his incredible strength. Or his reputation.
Hercules began exercising in the courtyard behind his hut, making happy grunting sounds as he lifted and lowered an especially large and heavy tree branch that the Minotaur had dragged home for him from the woods. Normally, his friend Tor (the Minotaur) would be in the courtyard exercising with him, but the Minotaur was off visiting friends in the nearby polis of Oropus. Perhaps you've heard of Team Herc? No? No matter. Anyway, that's how Tor had made so many friends in the polis of Oropus, training Team Herc for the Olympics. The Oropusians would be delighted if Tor would move to their polis permanently, but Tor, although he loved to visit, preferred to keep his home in the hut his good friend Herc had built for him on the back side of Herc's courtyard.
Herc was keeping fit when he heard an odd whimpering sound. The wind? Possibly. Herc flexed his muscles. There it was again. Herc paused to listen. Was that sobbing? Herc put down his tree branch and went to investigate. Much to his surprise, he found a young lady, propped against his fence, crying with heartbroken sobs into her shawl.
Herc did not realize how unusual it was to see a Greek woman alone. Herc was used to goddesses who went where they wanted, with whomever they wanted, to do whatever they wanted. Many goddesses were quite bossy. But the women of ancient Greece behaved quite differently. Greek women did not leave their houses much unless they were visiting the public fountains to fill a jug with fresh water, or selling vegetables in the marketplace, or visiting a temple, and even then, they needed their husband to give them permission. But Hercules did not know that.
"Oh Hercules, you must save me!" she might have said. Herc was not quite sure. He could hardly understand what she was saying through her sobs.
"Pardon me, miss ..." Hercules started.
"You must save me!" hiccupped the young woman. It was a hard hiccup, a hiccup that probably hurt. She threw her arms around one of his legs. (She was after all sitting on the ground.) "Please save me!"
Hercules bend down and picked her up until she was standing on her own two feet.
"What is the prob ..." Herc tried once more.
"Hercules," she talked right though him. "I want to hire you and The Hercules Detective Agency. I don't have much money, but I am a really good seamstress, so if you have any tunics that need mending I can do that."
To Hercules, that seemed like a fine proposition. He was always ripping out seams in his tunics from rescuing animals, and people, too. Having someone around who could fix them was something he really needed. But first he had to find out her problem. It occurred to Herc that she was still talking and sobbing and wringing her hands. If she had explained her problem, he had missed it.
"What I need to know," Herc started to say.
"Oh Hercules, the man my parents arranged for me to marry has run off to became a merchant adventurer. And I don't know why. It's true our marriage was arranged, but we've known each other since we were children. He cares about me I know. He is such a sweet man and we really did look like a great match."
"Well," started Hercules again.
"And now he has joined a ship's crew down at the pier. They leave in the morning. Can you do something?" cried the young woman.
"I think…." started Hercules
"Oh, please, please, Hercules. Please go see if you can find out why he is leaving me."
"I'll see what I can do," Herc said loudly over her sobs. It was pure self-preservation.
"Thank you, Hercules, thank you."
Hercules quickly made his way to the port and found the ship. It did not take him long to locate the young man in question.
"Young man," Hercules began, in a voice that sounded exhausted. "I have just been with your bride to be."
"I am so sorry if she troubled you," was his abrupt response. "But did you spent some time with her?
"Then you can see my problem. In every other way we are a great match and our families would both profit from our union, but Hercules, not being able to get in a single sentence would be sheer torture. I could not live that way."
"Why did you agree to marry her then?" Herc asked.
"She wasn't always like this. I thought at first she was just nervous. But she just cannot stop talking."
Hercules thought for a moment. "I need to do some investigating," he said. "Don’t run off to sea just yet. Give me a couple of days."
"Okay," the young man decided. "But I have to be in hiding. She will find me if I don't hide."
Since the Minotaur was away visiting, his hut was empty. "I have just the place," grinned Herc.
Hercules took the young man back to his hut and stashed him behind his house, in the Minotaur's hut, knowing no one, not even a desperate young woman, would search inside his giant bulldog’s hut.
Hercules then hurried to the young woman's family home. He was going to talk to the family, but he could hear the young woman talking and sobbing inside. He paused to consider his options.
It was then that he noticed her home was separated from the rest of the village by a tiny babbling brook. There on the bank of the brook stood another young woman. Hercules looked again. It was not a young woman. It was a water sprite, a beautiful, young water sprite. Water sprites were magical beings who lived in brooks and lakes and rivers and streams, but never puddles. Puddles were too small. People could not see or hear water sprites, nor land sprites for that matter. But Herc could. He was half god after all.
The sprite saw Hercules and was about to dive back into the water when Hercules called out.
"Beautiful water sprite, don’t run. It is I, Hercules, who has come to talk to you."
The sprite waited for Hercules to come near.
"Hercules, what can I do for one of Greece's greatest heroes?"
"Lovely water sprite, I need some information. Did you cast a babbling spell upon the young woman who lives in this house," Herc pointed.
"Yes, Hercules, I had to. For several years now, the daughter of the house has come down to the banks of this brook and talked to me."
"But sprite, how can this be? How can she see and hear you? Is she a goddess?"
"No, she is my friend. She thinks she is talking to herself, but she is actually talking to me. We have laughed and sung together. She has practiced sewing in the shade of these trees that line my brook. We have become best friends. But now Hercules, our friendship is threatened. She has a marriage contract. The young man she is contracted with is a wonderful young man and I would normally be truly happy for her to have such a good marriage. But Hercules, if she marries, she will move away into his house. Since I cannot leave my brook, her moving will break up our friendship. I will have no one to talk to or sing with or laugh with. I can not allow that to happen. So I cast a spell upon her making her impossible to live with. The marriage contract will be cancelled and she will remain here with me. I know it sounds selfish but she will be happy. She will have me. And I will have her. We will be friends forever. Friends are so important," babbled the water spirit. "Don't you agree?"
Hercules thought of his two best friends, Tor (the Minotaur) and Dionysus (god of wine, comedy, and vegetation, amongst other things.) Friends were very important, and he did agree, but friendships had to be made and kept in the right way. There was no place for selfishness in friendship.
"Water sprite," Hercules said gently. His voice was pitying. "How do you think she will feel when I tell her that you cast this spell upon her? Will she ever be able to trust you again? Can she still be your friend?"
The sprite gazed up at Hercules woefully. Tears filled her eyes. "I never thought of that. Hercules, you are so wise. I never ever meant her harm, and I never wanted to hurt our friendship. I will remove the spell at once."
Waving her hands in an intricate pattern and murmuring soft words that Hercules could not hear, the sprite acted. "There," she said. "The spell is ended. Now I will have no one to talk to, no one to laugh with and sing with. No friends at all," the sprite said miserably. "I live in such a tiny stream. It comes up from the ground over there,' she pointed. "And does down in the ground over there," she pointed in the opposite direction. "I will live all alone, in-between. Will you come and visit me sometimes?" she begged.
Hercules thought for a moment, then laughed and said “I can do better than that. I have the perfect solution. Being the strongest man in the world has some benefits. And I do need the exercise."
Hercules immediately set to work digging what looked like a long ditch. Before long he had connected the brook with the nearest river. "There sprite," he smiled at her excitement. "Using this path, you can visit with many other sprites that live in and near this mighty river. You can make new friends and sing and laugh and be happy as you were meant to be. And of course I'll visit you. If I can find you," Herc grinned. "If you're not so busy with all your friends that you do not even notice me."
"Oh my," the sprite gasped, as the river water rushed into the brook and blended with her home. "It's cold!' she giggled. "And quite refreshing! Thank you O mighty Hercules," sang the sprite. "You have saved me."
Hercules rushed back to his home and retrieved the young man from the Minotaur's hut. He took him to the home of his soon to be bride. The young man was greeted by a shy, quiet, lovely young woman, whose eyes, which were just a bit red still, sparkled with love. "I am so glad you came back," she said softly. And that was all she said. Herc could hear the happiness in her voice. So could her young man. He gave her a dazzling smile. "Me too," he mumbled. "Me too."
"Remember," said Hercules to the young lady. "I have some mending for you to do." He doubted very much that the young couple had heard him. Ah well, he would remind her later, with an armful of ripped and torn tunics.
When Herc got home, the Minotaur had already arrived back.
"Herc!" said the Minotaur, sounding both glad to see him and alarmed. "Has someone been in my hut? Things are not as I left them."
Herc poked his head in the door. "Are you sure? It looks normal to me," Herc shrugged, then grinned at his friend. "So tell me about your trip. How is everyone?"
"I have so much to tell you," the Minotaur sighed happily. "Do you remember ...."
Herc held up one hand. "Wait!" Herc jerked his head towards his hut. "I'll make us supper while you tell me all about it." The two good friends rounded the corner and disappeared inside, the Minotaur already talking a mile a minute.
Hercules did not know this, but he had done the women of the village of the tiny brook a great service. Now that their brook flowed into a river, the water was no longer safe for drinking or cooking. The women would have to leave their homes and go into town to get water at the public fountains. It was heavy to carry the water. But the trips to get water twice each day would allow the women to see their friends and catch up on the news. Since they had to visit the town anyway to get water, their husbands would probably not object when they asked to combine a trip to the fountains with the occasional selling of surplus vegetables in the marketplace. The women were very grateful to Hercules for giving them the opportunity to enjoy this new freedom. The young bride-to-be was the most grateful of all. She would soon marry, and move into her husband's house. As for the water sprite, almost immediately, she had met other sprites and had made good friends already. Thanks to Hercules, life was good. They all agreed.
Late that night, when the Minotaur had finally talked himself out, catching Hercules up on all the news from their friends in Oropus, and had returned to his own hut to tuck himself into bed, Hercules propped his feet up. He thought about the young couple, and the water sprite, and so many others. He thought how lucky he was to be able to help others find friends, and to have such fine friends of his own. Herc smiled to himself as he named this case "The Case of the Constant Chatterbox". He filed it away with other case files of the Hercules Detective Agency. And went to bed.