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by [?]

Fourteen years only have passed since our twentieth century began. In those fourteen years how many a father’s and mother’s heart has bled for the death of gallant sons, greatly-promising, greatly-daring, who have sought to rule the skies? With wings not well enough tried, they have soared dauntlessly aloft, only to add more names to the tragic list of those whose lives have been sacrificed in order that the groping hands of science may become sure, so that in time the sons of men may sail through the heavens as fearlessly as their fathers sailed through the seas.

High overhead we watch the monoplane, the great, swooping thing, like a monster black-winged bird, and our minds travel back to the story of Icarus, who died so many years ago that there are those who say that his story is but a foolish fable, an idle myth.

Daedalus, grandson of a king of Athens, was the greatest artificer of his day. Not only as an architect was he great, but as a sculptor he had the creative power, not only to make men and women and animals that looked alive, but to cause them to move and to be, to all appearances, endowed with life. To him the artificers who followed him owed the invention of the axe, the wedge, the wimble, and the carpenter’s level, and his restless mind was ever busy with new inventions. To his nephew, Talus, or Perdrix, he taught all that he himself knew of all the mechanical arts. Soon it seemed that the nephew, though he might not excel his uncle, equalled Daedalus in his inventive power. As he walked by the seashore, the lad picked up the spine of a fish, and, having pondered its possibilities, he took it home, imitated it in iron, and so invented the saw. A still greater invention followed this. While those who had always thought that there could be none greater than Daedalus were still acclaiming the lad, there came to him the idea of putting two pieces of iron together, connecting them at one end with a rivet, and sharpening both ends, and a pair of compasses was made. Louder still were the acclamations of the people. Surely greater than Daedalus was here. Too much was this for the artist’s jealous spirit.

One day they stood together on the top of the Acropolis, and Daedalus, murder that comes from jealousy in his heart, threw his nephew down. Down, down he fell, knowing well that he was going to meet a cruel death, but Pallas Athene, protectress of all clever craftsmen, came to his rescue. By her Perdrix was turned into the bird that still bears his name, and Daedalus beheld Perdrix, the partridge, rapidly winging his way to the far-off fields. Since then, no partridge has ever built or roosted in a high place, but has nestled in the hedge-roots and amongst the standing corn, and as we mark it we can see that its flight is always low.

For his crime Daedalus was banished from Athens, and in the court of Minos, king of Crete, he found a refuge. He put all his mighty powers at the service of Minos, and for him designed an intricate labyrinth which, like the river Meander, had neither beginning nor ending, but ever returned on itself in hopeless intricacy. Soon he stood high in the favour of the king, but, ever greedy for power, he incurred, by one of his daring inventions, the wrath of Minos. The angry monarch threw him into prison, and imprisoned along with him his son, Icarus. But prison bars and locks did not exist that were strong enough to baffle this master craftsman, and from the tower in which they were shut, Daedalus and his son were not long in making their escape. To escape from Crete was a less easy matter. There were many places in that wild island where it was easy for the father and son to hide, but the subjects of Minos were mostly mariners, and Daedalus knew well that all along the shore they kept watch lest he should make him a boat, hoist on it one of the sails of which he was part inventor, and speed away to safety like a sea-bird driven before the gale. Then did there come to Daedalus, the pioneer of inventions, the great idea that by his skill he might make a way for himself and his son through another element than water. And he laughed aloud in his hiding place amongst the cypresses on the hillside at the thought of how he would baffle the simple sailormen who watched each creek and beach down on the shore. Mockingly, too, did he think of King Minos, who had dared to pit his power against the wits and skill of Daedalus, the mighty craftsman.