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At the opening of our story, Mother Ceres is busy tending to the harvest of wheat, corn, rye, and barley; her daughter, Proserpina, begs to go to the seaside while her mother tends to the crops of the world. Mother Ceres hesitantly agrees but warns Proserpina, "The sea nymphs are good creatures, and will never lead you into any harm. But you must take care not to stray away from them, nor go wandering about the fields by yourself. Young girls, without their mothers to take care of them, are very apt to get into mischief." After visiting with the sea nymphs, Proserpina does exactly what her mother feared—she wanders into the forest. Innocently, she looked for and gathered beautiful flowers. One shrub was especially beautiful and seemed to grow new blossoms as Proserpina looked at it, almost as if to tempt her to come closer. It was so wondrous that she almost felt the urge to run away from it. She chided herself for her silliness and decided to pull the shrub and plant it for her mother. As she pulled the shrub, a hole began to form and kept "spreading wider and wider, and growing deeper and deeper, until it really seemed to have no bottom; and all the while, there came a rumbling noise out of its depths, louder and louder, and nearer and nearer, and sounding like the tramp of horses' hoofs and the rattling of wheels. She soon saw a team of four sable (black) horses, snorting smoke out of their nostrils, and tearing their way out of the earth with a splendid golden chariot whirling at their heels. They leaped out of the bottomless hole, chariot and all; and there they were, tossing their black manes and flourishing their black tails, close by the spot where Proserpina stood." In the chariot, a gloomy but handsome man rubbed his eyes as if he had never seen the sunshine. When he saw Proserpina, he beckoned for her to come to him. "Do not be afraid," said he, with as cheerful a smile as he knew how to put on. "Come! Will you not like to ride a little way with me, in my beautiful chariot?" Proserpina's first thought was to call for her mother, but her voice was too quiet to be heard by anyone other than the richly dressed man in the chariot. "Indeed, it is most likely that Ceres was then a thousand miles off, making the corn grow in some far distant country. Nor could it have helped her poor daughter for the stranger leaped to the ground, caught the child in his arms, and again mounted the chariot, shook the reins, and shouted to the four black horses to set off." As they rode on, the stranger did his best to comfort her. "I promise not to do you any harm. What! you have been gathering flowers? Wait till we come to my palace, and I will give you a garden full of prettier flowers than those, all made of pearls, and diamonds, and rubies. Can you guess who I am? They call my name Pluto; and I am the king of diamonds and all other precious stones. The one thing which my palace needs is a merry little maid, to run upstairs and down, and cheer up the rooms with her smile. And this is what you must do for King Pluto." It is my opinion that even King Pluto had never been happy in his palace, and that this was the true reason why he had stolen away Proserpina, in order that he might have something to love, some sunshine in his dark world. They were now on a dark and gloomy road, beyond the reach of sunshine. "We are just entering my dominions. Do you see that tall gateway before us? When we pass those gates, we are at home. And there lies my faithful mastiff at the threshold. Cerberus! Cerberus! Come hither, my good dog!" "Will the dog bite me?" asked Proserpina, fearing the three-headed dog. "What an ugly creature he is!" "O, never fear," answered her companion. "He never harms people, unless they try to enter my dominions without being sent for, or to get away when I wish to keep them here. Down, Cerberus! Now, my pretty Proserpina, we will drive on." Next they crossed over the River Lethe, a magical stream that makes people forget every care and sorrow. Pluto offered Proserpina a sip, which she refused. "I had a thousand times rather be miserable with remembering my mother, than be happy in forgetting her. That dear, dear mother! I never, never will forget her. I will neither drink that nor anything else. Nor will I taste a morsel of food, even if you keep me forever in your palace." To tempt Proserpina to eat a morsel and thereby trap her into staying forever, King Pluto sent for his cook who came up with a menu of sweets, seasoned meats, and rich pastries. Which describes the character of Mother Ceres in the excerpt? Protagonist Antagonist Dynamic Static