Hades, the king of the Underworld, sat on his lonely throne one day and wished that something could make his world a nicer place to live. The Underworld was cold and dark and dreary, and the sun never shined there.
No one ever came to visit Hades because the gates of the Underworld were guarded by Cerberus, a huge three-headed dog. Cerberus looked so fierce that he scared everyone away.
It made Hades very grumpy to be the king of such a cold and lonely world. "I need a companion who will bring joy to this dark, dreary place," said Hades. This gave Hades an idea.
He decided to disguise himself as a poor, lonely traveler and go up to the earth's surface. There he would be able to find a companion. He would find someone who could help him make the Underworld a happier place to live.
Upon the earth lived Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Demeter had a beautiful daughter named Persephone. Persephone had long, golden hair and rosy cheeks, and happiness followed her wherever she went. Demeter loved her daughter very much, and she was always full of joy when Persephone was near.
When the goddess of the harvest was happy, the whole world bloomed with life. The fields and orchards were always full of crops to be harvested.
Persephone loved to run through the fields and help Demeter gather food for the people of the earth. But best of all, she loved to play in the apple orchards. There, she could climb the apple trees and pick large, juicy apples to eat.
When Hades was visiting the earth, he saw Persephone playing in an apple orchard. He had never seen such a beautiful girl!
Hades stood in his disguise at the edge of the orchard and watched Persephone as she swung on the branches of the trees. Finally, Persephone saw Hades standing nearby.
In his tattered cloak, he looked like a poor and hungry traveler. Persephone was always generous, so she picked several apples from the tree and climbed down to meet him. "Please," said Persephone, "take these apples. They will give you strength for your journey."
Hades thanked Persephone for the apples and went on his way. "I must bring her to the Underworld!" he thought to himself. "It could never be a gloomy place with such a kind and beautiful queen as this!" Then Hades returned to the Underworld.
The next morning, Persephone decided to pick some apples for her mother. She ran to her favorite orchard and began picking the ripest apples she could find.
Suddenly there was a great rumble, and the ground split open before her! Out from below the earth charged two fierce, black horses pulling a dark chariot behind them. On the chariot rode Hades, wearing the black armor of the Underworld.
Persephone tried to run away, but Hades was too quick for her. He caught her and took her away with him in his chariot to the Underworld.
The ground closed back up behind them. Not a trace of Persephone was to be seen except a few of the apples she left behind.
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