||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 5
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||circlet, grueling, hippodrome, stabled, maintain, racer, eleventh, glossy, procession, illegal, chariot, harness, groom, warning, victory, alongside
||Go Belen, Go Arsen, Go Calix
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By Mary L. Bushong
1 Aetos pushed the black, curling hair out of his eyes. The sun was already rising in the early morning Greek sky. He took a deep breath. The air was full of scents and smells. Most of all, it was full of excitement. It was the first day of the events at Olympia. He would have his first chance to race in the Olympics!
2 Calix nickered behind him. Aetos remembered his master's warning not to take his eyes off the horses. Victory depended on his care of them. His glance flicked over the others. The team of four stallions were stabled side by side. Their glossy grey bodies had been carefully matched for size, stride, and color.
3 Aetos popped a handful of olives into his mouth. He chewed thoughtfully and wondered what he would do if he won. His master had promised him a portion of the prize money. The chariot race was the only event with a prize men were willing to die for, and many did. It was tempting to dream, but right now he needed to get ready.
4 The slave boys assigned to groom and care for each horse had done their jobs. There was not a speck of dirt to be seen on the rippling bodies. It was not long before the time came to race.
5 Argus, the fastest, most experienced racer, was placed in the trace to the far left. The turns in the hippodrome were tight to the left, and that horse would know best how to guide the others through the twelve grueling laps.
6 Then came Belen and Arsen, with Calix to the far right to fill out the team. Calix was Aetos' favorite. He spent one moment more making sure the harness was right. Then he leapt up into the light wooden chariot and gathered the reins into his hands.
7 Aetos joined the procession of other charioteers as the horses pranced and tossed their heads. They were ready to run and wanted to go NOW. Aetos made sure his feet were firmly in the keepers made to hold them secure. Those keepers and his balance were the only things that would keep him in the chariot.
8 He glanced around looking for the other three teams his master had entered. He could not see them ahead. They could be close behind. Today, twenty chariots raced for glory.
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