Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: The Magic Earrings
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
One rainy day Hercules was relaxing in his hut. It looked like he was going to be able to take a day off and relax.
While he was relaxing, there was a loud knocking at his door. “Looks like relax time is over," he said to himself.
Hercules answered the door. Standing there was a very distinguished older gentleman. Hercules had never seen this man, but he looked very familiar.
"Hercules," said the man. "I need your help."
Hercules recognized the voice immediately. To his great surprise, it was Zeus.
“What can I do for you Father?" Hercules asked.
"You know it is me?" asked Zeus, with surprise. "What gave it away?"
"Your voice, sir. But never mind. What do you need?"
"Are you going to invite me in?"
"Of course," Hercules said, flustered. "Father, please, come in." He had never been so grateful that he had taken time only yesterday to pick up the place.
His father sat on the edge of the seat of one chair and stared at his son. He thought a moment without saying anything. Hercules waited. He knew that trick. He'd used that trick. It was Zeus who had taught him that trick. So he waited quietly.
His father sighed. "You perhaps have noticed that Hera and I do occasionally fight and then make up," said Zeus.
Hercules said nothing. He waited.
His father squirmed uncomfortably. "This time we had a real humdinger of a fight. It was my fault. I admit that. I knew I needed a special gift to make up with her."
Hercules stopped himself from saying, "I can help you with that," and managed not to say anything.
His father knew exactly what Hercules was doing by sitting quietly. He was waiting to hear the problem. Zeus flashed his son a quick glance of respect. He had taught him well.
"So," his father continued. His voice had picked up a bit of warmth. "I had Poseidon make me a special pair of pearl earrings. Magic earrings."
Hercules nodded. He had stayed quiet as long as he felt necessary to get things moving. "Sounds like a great present. So why do you need me?"
His father flicked him a glance of impatience. "I am getting to that." Zeus sighed heavily. "I placed the earrings in my belt pouch. Then I decided to take a quick tour though the marketplace in Athens and get some flowers as well. While I was there, I lost my pouch." Zeus sighed again. "That was bad for two reasons. First, the magic earrings may have fallen into mortal hands, and second, you know how Poseidon talks." His voice grew heavy, as if exhausted. "Sooner or later, he will tell Hera about the earrings and then she will ask me where they are. If I don't have them, she will think I gave them to some mortal woman to woo her. You know how ridiculously jealous she is. Another fight in the making and this time I am truly innocent. But she will never believe me. It won't help to ask Poseidon to make another pair. He'll still talk. I need to get those earrings back."
While Zeus had been talking, Hercules had been thinking. One thing he thought was that Zeus was so much more likable today.
"Okay, Dad," nodded Hercules. "I will find them for you. What is their magic power? Knowing that might help me find them."
Zeus nodded. "These earrings allow you to overhear any conversation no matter how far away as long as you can see the people talking."
The two men looked at each other in perfect understanding.
"Wow," said Hercules. "That is some power. Hera will love them."
Zeus looked around for the first time, having passed his problem onto his son. "It looks really nice in here, Hercules. It looks different. It looks .... bigger."
"Hephaestus owed me a favor and this is how he paid it. He built a hidden wing and doubled my space."
"Did he bring his talking tools," his father asked with a smile.
"He did. They drove me crazy. But it was worth it."
"It looks so much smaller from the outside."
"He had me plant tall trees in front of the new wing so it is hidden from the front, to give me both space and privacy."
"Your home is not a hut anymore, son. It's a villa!" Zeus said with a touch of amusement. "Something you said you'd never live in."
His father straightened. Back to business. "So you'll take my case," his father announced firmly.
"Yes of course."
"And work on it right away."
"Yes of course."
"Then I'll be going." His father hesitated. "It was good to see you, son." He added, "Don't be a stranger." And disappeared without bothering to use the door. Thinking about it, Hercules was surprised he had knocked on his door in the first place.
Thanks to Hephaestus, Hercules now had a back door. The Minotaur used it. "Was that Zeus?" he whispered. "The Zeus. What did he want?"
"My help," Hercules announced in a bit of a daze. "I have to go to Athens." He stumbled backwards and ended up sitting in his chair by the fire.
The Minotaur touched his shoulder. "Hercules, look at me. Your father needs your help," the Minotaur said slowly. "You need to go to Athens."
Hercules blinked. "Yes, of course!" and left immediately for the city.
It did not take long for Hercules to find out about a new merchant in town who always seemed to know about the best deals, and which merchant in the market was the best place to go to buy something. All it took was a beard trim at the best barber shop in Athens. Barber shops were the places to go to hear all the gossip. It was not his normal barber, but Hercules was quite pleased with the result. Everyone in the barber shop recognized Hercules. He was hard to overlook. They were a bit shy at first, but soon they were all babbling at once, all of them eager to fill Hercules in on all the latest gossip.
Feeling confident he now knew who might have the earrings, Hercules next went in search of the merchant he had heard about. He found him sitting on an overturned basket, crying.
Hercules loomed over him. His shadow covered the man in darkness. The man looked up. "Hercules! Is it really you? You're just who I need!" He wiped his nose with his sleeve and pulled his cap down tightly to better cover his ears.
This was not the reaction Hercules had expected. He sat down so he would not look quite as large or quite as threatening. "How can I help?" Hercules asked gently. He needed to get the magic earrings if the man had them, as he rather suspected he did, but his first instinct was to help.
The man was eager to share his story. It bubbled out of him. "I was a pickpocket in the Athens market," he told Hercules without worry or shame, although being a pickpocket was a crime. "I was very good," the man went on. "I was never caught, you know," the man said with a touch of pride. "One day, I stole a pouch off a rich looking man. Inside, I found a pair of earrings. Here in Athens we wear a great deal of jewelry, both men and women. These were especially beautiful. They seemed to sparkle. It was like looking out at the ocean. I tried them on. I found I could hear people from a great distance. I could hear people talking about what they had bought and what they carried with them to leave in the temples. It made my life as a pickpocket so much easier. I knew just who to rob," he explained happily.
Hercules nodded. He could easily understand why such information might be of value to a pickpocket.
"But then, I heard two men talking about how they were going to cheat a third. I decided to warn their victim. He gave me a reward! I started listening in on other conversations about business deals. I found ways to cut myself in. I was making lots of money. But Hercules, I also heard conversations that I never wanted to hear. Men planning to rob and kill others. I did try to warn people, but they did not believe me. I was drawing attention to myself. It's very difficult to be a successful pickpocket if people are staring at you."
Hercules nodded in agreement. He could see how that might be a problem. But mostly, he knew this was the most bizarre conversation he had ever had, but he needed those earrings. If he was sure the man was wearing them, he might grab them and run. But what if he had the earrings hidden somewhere else. His best bet was to listen.
"I tried to give up the earrings, but they always came back. I tried throwing them in the ocean. I thought the ocean might keep them because of the pearls. But it was no use. I can't sell them. No one wants to buy them. I even tried to give them away, but that only made people suspicious. Hercules, please help me. Please take these earrings away, far away, far enough so they can't find their way back. Or find someone to remove the spell as they are obviously enchanted."
"I can do that," Hercules agreed. The man took off his cap, removed the earrings from his ears, and gave them to Hercules with relief.
Once Hercules took the earrings, he felt the spell leave the pickpocket and settle on him. But, being half god, it had no effect on him. "How odd," Hercules thought to himself. "Why put a spell that only affects mortals on a pair of earrings meant for a goddess?" Hercules knew his father had done stranger things than that, but still, it was very odd.
"Hercules," the pickpocket was saying. "I truly am the best pickpocket in all of Athens. If someday you find you need the services of a pickpocket, you can find me here. You can count on me."
"Thank you. That's something to remember," Hercules told the man as politely as possible.
Without wasting any time, Hercules took the earrings to Zeus who was quite thankful, although he did not say so. His face said it for him.
Hercules returned home. He was about to write up the details of the case - he had already named it The Case of the Magic Earrings - when something occurred to him. Zeus had acted as if he had just lost the earrings. But the pickpocket acted as if he had worn the earrings for some time. The only thing that made sense was that his father had lied to him. Nothing unusual about that, but why? What was his father hiding? It was most mysterious. Hercules decided to leave the case file empty. Instead, he wrote himself a note on the cover of the file. The note read: WHY?
Hercules was not sure whether he was protecting his father or himself, but in either case, this file was finished. Although the case had a name, the folder remained empty. Hercules tucked it away, hidden in the stack of other case files from the Hercules Detective Agency. And went back to relaxing.