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for as for the cows, the dark dust kept and showed their footprints leading towards the flowery meadow; [345] but he himself —bewildering creature —crossed the sandy ground outside the path, not on his feet nor yet on his hands; but, furnished with some other means he trudged his way —wonder of wonders! —as though one walked on slender oak-trees. [350] Now while he followed the cattle across sandy ground, all the tracks showed quite clearly in the dust; but when he had finished the long way across the sand, presently the cows' track and his own could not be traced over the hard ground. But a mortal man noticed him [355] as he drove the wide-browed kine straight towards Pylos. And as soon as he had shut them up quietly, and had gone home by crafty turns and twists, he lay down in his cradle in the gloom of a dim cave, as still as dark night, so that not even [360] an eagle keenly gazing would have spied him. Much he rubbed his eyes with his hands as he prepared falsehood, and himself straightway said roundly: `I have not seen them: I have not heard of them: no man has told me of them. I could not tell you of them, nor win the reward of telling.'”

[365] When he had so spoken, Phoebus Apollo sat down. But Hermes on his part answered and said, pointing at the Son of Cronos, the lord of all the gods:

“Zeus, my father, indeed I will speak truth to you; for I am truthful and I cannot tell a lie. [370] He came to our house to-day looking for his shambling cows, as the sun was newly rising. He brought no witnesses with him nor any of the blessed gods who had seen the theft, but with great violence ordered me to confess, threatening much to throw me into wide Tartarus. [375] For he has the rich bloom of glorious youth, while I was born but yesterday —as he too knows —, nor am I like a cattle-lifter, a sturdy fellow. Believe my tale (for you claim to be my own father), that I did not drive his cows to my house —so may I prosper— [380] nor crossed the threshold: this I say truly. I reverence Helios greatly and the other gods, and you I love and him I dread. You yourself know that I am not guilty: and I will swear a great oath upon it:—No! by these rich-decked porticoes of the gods. [385] And some day I will punish him, strong as he is, for this pitiless inquisition; but now do you help the younger.”

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