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The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 34

And Jason looked and saw the plains of Thessaly, where the Lapithai breed their horses; and the lake of Boibé, and the stream which runs northward to Peneus and Tempe; and he looked north, and saw the mountain wall which guards the Magnesian shore; Olympus, the seat of the Immortals, and Ossa, and Pelion, where he stood. Then he looked east and saw the bright blue sea, which stretched away for ever toward the dawn. Then he looked south, and saw a pleasant land, with white-walled towns and farms, nestling along the shore of a land-locked bay, while the smoke rose blue among the trees; and he knew it for the bay of Pagasai, and the rich lowlands of Hæmonia, and Iolcos by the sea.

Then he sighed, and asked, ‘Is it true what the heroes tell me—that I am heir of that fair land?’

‘And what good would it be to you, Jason, if you were heir of that fair land?’

‘I would take it and keep it.’

‘A strong man has taken it and kept it long. Are you stronger than Pelias the terrible?’

‘I can try my strength with his,’ said Jason; but Cheiron sighed, and said—

‘You have many a danger to go through before you rule in Iolcos by the sea: many a danger and many a woe; and strange troubles in strange lands, such as man never saw before.’

‘The happier I,’ said Jason, ‘to see what man never saw before.’

And Cheiron sighed again, and said, ‘The eaglet must leave the nest when it is fledged. Will you go to Iolcos by the sea? Then promise me two things before you go.’

Jason promised, and Cheiron answered, ‘Speak harshly to no soul whom you may meet, and stand by the word which you shall speak.’

Jason wondered why Cheiron asked this of him; but he knew that the Centaur was a prophet, and saw things long before they came. So he promised, and leapt down the mountain, to take his fortune like a man.

He went down through the arbutus thickets, and across the downs of thyme, till he came to the vineyard walls, and the pomegranates and the olives in the glen; and among the olives roared Anauros, all foaming with a summer flood.

And on the bank of Anauros sat a woman, all wrinkled, gray, and old; her head shook palsied on her breast, and her hands shook palsied on her knees; and when she saw Jason, she spoke whining, ‘Who will carry me across the flood?’

Jason was bold and hasty, and was just going to leap into the flood: and yet he thought twice before he leapt, so loud roared the torrent down, all brown from the mountain rains, and silver-veined with melting snow; while underneath he could hear the boulders rumbling like the tramp of horsemen or the roll of wheels, as they ground along the narrow channel, and shook the rocks on which he stood.


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