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(Part of The Gods of Pegāna by Lord Dunsany)

There be three broad rivers of the plain, born before memory or fable, whose mothers are three grey peaks and whose father was the storm. There names be Eimēs, Zānēs, and Segástrion.

And Eimēs is the joy of lowing herds; and Zānēs hath bowed his neck to the yoke of man, and carries the timber from the forest far up below the mountain; and Segástrion sings old songs to shepherd boys, singing of his childhood in a lone ravine and of how he once sprang down the mountain sides and far away into the plain to see the world, and of how one day at last he will find the sea. These be the rivers of the plain, wherein the plain rejoices. But old men tell, whose fathers heard it from the ancients, how once the lords of the three rivers of the plain rebelled against the law of the Worlds, and passed beyond their boundaries, and joined together and whelmed cities and slew men, saying: "We now play the game of the gods and slay men for our pleasure, and we be greater than the gods of Pegāna."

And all the plain was flooded to the hills.

And Eimēs, Zānēs, and Segástrion sat upon the mountains, and spread their hands over their rivers that rebelled by their command.

But the prayer of men going upward found Pegāna, and cried in the ear of the gods: "There be three home gods who slay us for their pleasure, and say that they be mightier than Pegāna's gods, and play Their game with men."

Then were all the gods of Pegāna very wroth; but They could not whelm the lords of the three rivers, because being home gods, though small, they were immortal.

And still the home gods spread their hands across their rivers, with their fingers wide apart, and the waters rose and rose, and the voice of their torrent grew louder, crying: "Are we not Eimēs, Zānēs, and Segástrion?"

Then Mung went down into a waste of Afrik, and came upon the drought Umbool as he sat in the desert upon iron rocks, clawing with miserly grasp at the bones of men and breathing hot.

And Mung stood before him as his dry sides heaved, and ever as they sank his hot breath blasted dry sticks and bones.

Then Mung said: "Friend of Mung! Go, thou and grin before the faces of Eimēs, Zānēs, and Segástrion till they see whether it be wise to rebel against the gods of Pegāna."

And Umbool answered: "I am the beast of Mung."

And Umbool came and crouched upon a hill upon the other side of the waters and grinned across them at the rebellious home gods.

And whenever Eimēs, Zānēs, and Segástrion stretched out their hands over their rivers they saw before their faces the grinning of Umbool; and because the grinning was like death in a hot and hideous land therefore they turned away and spread their hands no more over their rivers, and the waters sank and sank.

But when Umbool had grinned for thirty days the waters fell back into the river beds and the lords of the rivers slunk away back again to their homes: still Umbool sat and grinned.

Then Eimēs sought to hide himself in a great pool beneath a rock, and Zānēs crept into the middle of a wood, and Segástrion lay and panted on the sand—still Umbool sat and grinned.

And Eimēs grew lean, and was forgotten, so that the men of the plain would say: "Here once was Eimēs"; and Zānēs scarce had strength to lead his river to the sea; and as Segástrion lay and panted a man stepped over his stream, and Segástrion said: "It is the foot of a man that has passed across my neck, and I have sought to be greater than the gods of Pegāna."

Then said the gods of Pegāna: "It is enough. We are the gods of Pegāna, and none are equal."

Then Mung sent Umbool back to his waste in Afrik to breathe again upon the rocks, and parch the desert, and to sear the memory of Afrik into the brains of all who ever bring their bones away.

And Eimēs, Zānēs, and Segástrion sang again, and walked once more in their accustomed haunts, and played the game of Life and Death with fishes and frogs, but never essayed to play it any more with men, as do the gods of Pegāna.

Prev: Of Roon, the God of Going
Index: The Gods of Pegāna
Next: Of Dorozhand

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