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The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 49

Then Aietes’ race rushed up like a whirlwind, and his eyes flashed fire as he heard; but he crushed his anger down in his breast, and spoke mildly a cunning speech—

‘If you will fight for the fleece with my Colchians, then many a man must die. But do you indeed expect to win from me the fleece in fight? So few you are that if you be worsted I can load your ship with your corpses. But if you will be ruled by me, you will find it better far to choose the best man among you, and let him fulfil the labours which I demand. Then I will give him the golden fleece for a prize and a glory to you all.’

So saying, he turned his horses and drove back in silence to the town. And the Minuai sat silent with sorrow, and longed for Heracles and his strength; for there was no facing the thousands of the Colchians and the fearful chance of war.

But Chalciope, Phrixus’ widow, went weeping to the town; for she remembered her Minuan husband, and all the pleasures of her youth, while she watched the fair faces of his kinsmen, and their long locks of golden hair. And she whispered to Medeia her sister, ‘Why should all these brave men die? why does not my father give them up the fleece, that my husband’s spirit may have rest?’

And Medeia’s heart pitied the heroes, and Jason most of all; and she answered, ‘Our father is stern and terrible, and who can win the golden fleece?’ But Chalciope said, ‘These men are not like our men; there is nothing which they cannot dare nor do.’

And Medeia thought of Jason and his brave countenance, and said, ‘If there was one among them who knew no fear, I could show him how to win the fleece.’

So in the dusk of evening they went down to the river-side, Chalciope and Medeia the witch-maiden, and Argus, Phrixus’ son. And Argus the boy crept forward, among the beds of reeds, till he came where the heroes were sleeping, on the thwarts of the ship, beneath the bank, while Jason kept ward on shore, and leant upon his lance full of thought. And the boy came to Jason, and said—

‘I am the son of Phrixus, your Cousin; and Chalciope my mother waits for you, to talk about the golden fleece.’

Then Jason went boldly with the boy, and found the two princesses standing; and when Chalciope saw him she wept, and took his hands, and cried—‘O cousin of my beloved, go home before you die!’

‘It would be base to go home now, fair princess, and to have sailed all these seas in vain.’ Then both the princesses besought him; but Jason said, ‘It is too late.’


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