Myths That Every Child Should Know A Selection Of The Classic Myths Of All Times For Young People
Page: 157After that they rowed on steadily for many a weary day, till they saw a long high island, and beyond it a mountain land. And they searched till they found a harbour, and there rowed boldly in. But after awhile they stopped, and wondered; for there stood a great city on the shore, and temples and walls and gardens, and castles high in air upon the cliffs. And on either side they saw a harbour, with a narrow mouth, but wide within; and black ships without number, high and dry upon the shore.
Then Ancaius, the wise helmsman, spoke: "What new wonder is this? I know all isles, and harbours, and the windings of all the seas; and this should be Corcyra, where a few wild goatherds dwell. But whence come these new harbours, and vast works of polished stone?"
But Jason said: "They can be no savage people. We will go in and take our chance."
So they rowed into the harbour, among a thousand black-beaked ships, each larger far than Argo, toward a quay of polished stone. And they wondered at that mighty city, with its roofs of burnished brass, and long and lofty walls of marble, with strong palisades above. And the quays were full of people, merchants, and mariners, and slaves, going to and fro with merchandise among the crowd of ships. And the heroes' hearts were humbled, and they looked at each other and said: "We thought ourselves a gallant crew when we sailed from Iolcos by the sea; but how small we look before this city, like an ant before a hive of bees."
Then the sailors hailed them roughly from the quay:
"What men are you?—we want no strangers here, nor pirates. We keep our business to ourselves."
But Jason answered gently, with many a flattering word, and praised their city and their harbour, and their fleet of gallant ships. "Surely you are the children of Poseidon, and the masters of the sea; and we are but poor wandering mariners, worn out with thirst and toil. Give us but food and water, and we will go on our voyage in peace."
Then the sailors laughed and answered: "Stranger, you are no fool; you talk like an honest man, and you shall find us honest too. We are the children of Poseidon, and the masters of the sea; but come ashore to us, and you shall have the best that we can give."
So they limped ashore, all stiff and weary, with long ragged beards and sunburnt cheeks, and garments torn and weather-stained, and weapons rusted with the spray, while the sailors laughed at them (for they were rough-tongued, though their hearts were frank and kind). And one said; "These fellows are but raw sailors; they look as if they had been sea-sick all the day." And another: "Their legs have grown crooked with much rowing, till they waddle in their walk like ducks."