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Bk II:676-707 Mercury, Battus and the stolen cattle.
The demi-god, son of Philyra, wept, and called to you for help in vain, O lord of Delphi. You could not re-call mighty Jupiter's command, and, if you had been able to, you were not there. You lived in Elisand the Messenian lands. That was the time when you wore a shepherd's cloak, carried a wooden crook in your left hand, and in the other a pipe of seven disparate reeds. And while your thoughts were of love, while you played sweetly on your pipe, your cattle, unguarded, strayed, it is said, into the Pylian fields. There, Mercury Atlantiades, son of Maia, saw them and by his arts drove them into the woods and hid them there. Nobody saw the theft except one old man, well known in that country, whom they called Battus. He served as guardian of a herd of pedigree mares, for a rich man Neleus, in the rich meadows and woodland pastures. Mercury found him and drawing him away with coaxing hand said "Whoever you are, friend, if anyone asks if you have seen any of these cattle, say no, and so that the favour is not unrewarded, you can take a shining heifer for your prize!" and he handed it over.
The fellow accepted it and replied, "Go on, you are safe. That stone would betray you quicker than I," and he even pointed out a stone. Jupiter's son pretended to go, but soon returned in another form and voice, saying, "Countryman, if you have seen any cattle going this way, help me, and don't be silent, they were stolen! I'll give you a reward of a bull and its heifer." The old man, hearing the prize doubled, said, "They were at the foot of the mountain, and at the foot of the mountain is where they are." Atlantiades laughed. "Would you betray me to myself, you rascal? Betray me to myself?" And he turned that deceitful body to solid flint, that even now is called "touchstone," the "informer," and unjustly the old disgrace clings to the stone.
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