Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources
Page: 50Then the Argonauts sailed onward and met with many other marvelous incidents, any one of which would make a story by itself. At one time they landed on an island and were reposing on the grass, when they suddenly found themselves assailed by what seemed a shower of steel-headed arrows. Some of them stuck in the ground, while others hit against their shields and several penetrated their flesh. The fifty heroes started up and looked about them for the hidden enemy, but could find none nor see any spot on the whole island where even a single archer could lie concealed. Still, however, the steel-headed arrows came whizzing among them; and at last, happening to look upward, they beheld a large flock of birds hovering and wheeling aloft and shooting their feathers down upon the Argonauts. These feathers were the steel-headed arrows that had so tormented them. There was no possibility of making any resistance, and the fifty heroic Argonauts might all have been killed or wounded by a flock of troublesome birds without ever setting eyes on the Golden Fleece if Jason had not thought of asking the advice of the oaken image.
[Pg 88] So he ran to the galley as fast as his legs would carry him.
"O daughter of the Speaking Oak," cried he, all out of breath, "we need your wisdom more than ever before! We are in great peril from a flock of birds, who are shooting us with their steel-pointed feathers. What can we do to drive them away?"
"Make a clatter on your shields," said the image.
On receiving this excellent counsel, Jason hurried back to his companions (who were far more dismayed than when they fought with the six-armed giants) and bade them strike with their swords upon their brazen shields. Forthwith the fifty heroes set heartily to work, banging with might and main, and raised such a terrible clatter that the birds made what haste they could to get away; and though they had shot half the feathers out of their wings, they were soon seen skimming among the clouds, a long distance off and looking like a flock of wild geese. Orpheus celebrated this victory by playing a triumphant anthem on his harp, and sang so melodiously that Jason begged him to desist, lest, as the steel-feathered birds had been driven away by an ugly sound, they might be enticed back again by a sweet one.
While the Argonauts remained on this island they saw a small vessel approaching the shore, in which were two young men of princely demeanor, and exceedingly handsome, as young princes generally were in those days. Now, who do you imagine these two voyagers turned out to be? Why, if you will believe me, they were the sons of that very Phrixus, who in his childhood had been carried to Colchis on the back of the golden-fleeced ram. Since that time Phrixus had married the king's daughter, and the two young princes had been born and brought up at Colchis, and had spent their play days on the outskirts of the grove, in the center of which the Golden Fleece was hanging upon a tree. They were now on their way[Pg 89] to Greece, in hopes of getting back a kingdom that had been wrongfully taken from their father.