"It's Pegasus!" shouted Bellerophon.
At first, Bellerophon thought the reflection in the fountain was that of a huge white bird. When he looked up, he was thrilled to see it was a winged horse. It was the famous and beautiful Pegasus. Bellerophon saw Pegasus glide down out of the sky on his silver wings. He landed on the bank near the fountain and began to drink. Bellerophon watched from his hiding place behind a nearby bush. In his hand, he held the magic golden bridle which the goddess Athene had given him.
"Pegasus is a wild horse," Athene explained. "No one has ever ridden on his back. But if you put this bridle on him, he will become tame."
Bellerophon had waited for Pegasus for many months. The winged horse did not come often to the fountain. Now Bellerophon could see the wait had been very worthwhile. With his powerful wings and a strong back, Pegasus was a magnificent steed. He was the only horse strong and swift enough to carry Bellerophon in his great task of killing the monster, Chimera. Chimera was a truly horrible creature. It had the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent. It breathed fire and flames and for years it had been carrying off animals and small children. Chimera's fiery breath burned down forests, fields of grain and whole villages and left them nothing but heaps of ashes.
Bellerophon had resolved to kill this dreadful monster, but he needed Pegasus to help him. First, though, he had to tame Pegasus. Bellerophon waited until the winged horse was chewing grass by the fountain. Then he ran swiftly towards him, took one great leap and landed on the horse's back.
Pegasus was so alarmed that he launched himself into the sky at once. Up and up he went until he had taken Bellerophon above the clouds. Bellerophon clung on tightly all the way. Pegasus made tremendous efforts to dislodge him. He dived. He shot upwards again. he kicked his hind legs. He reared up. It was no use. Bellerophon remained firmly on his back.
Pegasus turned his head and tried to sink his teeth into Bellerophon's arm.
That was when Bellerophon managed to slip the magic bridle over Pegasus immediately became calm. He stopped throwing himself about the sky and now, when he looked at Bellerophon all the wild fury had gone from his eyes. Instead, Pegasus gave his rider the look of an animal who knew and loved the man who was his master.
Bellerophon pressed his knees into Pegasus' sides. In response to this signal, the horse took him gliding down to the ground again. Bellerophon dismounted and went over to the spot where he had left the weapons with which he intended to kill Chimera.
Then he climbed on to Pegasus' back once more and murmured, "Now, my splendid steed, let us seek Chimera!" '
It did not take long to find the monster. Bellerophon soon saw burnt and blackened fields below him.
'This is Chimera's evil work,' he thought. 'The monster cannot be far away.'
Bellerophon saw it sitting on a mountain slope above the fields, grinning with satisfaction at the devastation it had caused.
"Chimera has not seen us, Pegasus!" Bellerophon whispered. "We can surprise it. Now, my beauty, one of your swift, speedy dives we must reach Chimera quickly!"
Pegasus put his head down. As he swooped towards the Earth, Bellerophon held his bow firm and steady in one hand and a bunch of arrows in the other.
"Slow down now, Pegasus," he whispered. Pegasus obeyed and slowed down until he was hovering just above Chimera's head. Swiftly, Bellerophon fitted the first of his arrows on to his bowstring.
Just then, Chimera looked up. A terrible hatred and fury glittered in its eyes and the lion's mouth opened to let forth a huge blast of flame and smoke.
The flames shot up, almost enveloping Bellerophon and Pegasus in scorching heat. It was now or never.
Bellerophon released the first arrow, snatched up another, placed it in the bowstring and released the string a second time. Again and again, the bowstring twanged and a deadly shower of arrows began to pour down upon Chimera. Soon, the monster was festooned with arrows and shrieking in pain. As it shrieked, flames blasted out of its lion's mouth. In vain, Chimera threshed about, trying to shake off the arrows. Then it raised its head huge tongues of flame at Bellerophon.
Bellerophon released the last of the arrows and told Pegasus, "A little higher, my beautiful steed. I must be out of reach of Chimera's fire while I prepare for my final attack."
Obediently, Pegasus beat his wings faster and lifted Bellerophon up into the air, away from Chimera's shooting flames. Bellerophon reached down to where a bag hung from his saddle and pulled out a huge lump of lead. He placed the lead on the end of his spear and made sure it was firmly fixed.
Bellerophon looked down to where Chimera was hurling itself about in fearful pain. He was waiting for the moment when the monster looked up and tried to reach him again with its blazing breath. Bellerophon watched closely.
Then came the moment he was waiting for. The lion's head started to move up.
"Take me down, Pegasus!" Bellerophon shouted.
Just as Pegasus reached the right spot above Chimera, its head lifted up and its huge mouth opened. At once, Bellerophon plunged his spear deep into Chimera's mouth. There was a ghastly sizzling and boiling sound from inside the monster's jaws. The monster gave a fearful, shrieking howl that pierced Bellerophon's ears.
"The lead's melting!" Bellerophon cried triumphantly.
He pulled the spear out and saw that the lump of lead had gone. The fire in Chimera 's mouth was so great that it had melted the metal. In dreadful agony, Chimera rolled on to the ground and threw itself about as the lead flowed down its throat and burned its insides away. The howls got louder and louder until at last, it gave one final shudder and lay still.
Smoke began to rise from its dead body. Before long, fire broke through its hide and Chimera was enveloped in a blanket of flame. The fire burned for a long time. Afterwards, all that was left was a pile of black, smoking ashes.