The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 53

And Idas the rash cried, ‘Let us draw lots who shall go in first; for, while the dragon is devouring one, the rest can slay him and carry off the fleece in peace.’ But Jason held them back, though he praised them; for he hoped for Medeia’s help.

And after awhile Medeia came trembling, and wept a long while before she spoke. And at last—

‘My end is come, and I must die; for my father has found out that I have helped you. You he would kill if he dared; but he will not harm you, because you have been his guests. Go then, go, and remember poor Medeia when you are far away across the sea.’ But all the heroes cried—

‘If you die, we die with you; for without you we cannot win the fleece, and home we will not go without it, but fall here fighting to the last man.’

‘You need not die,’ said Jason. ‘Flee home with us across the sea. Show us first how to win the fleece; for you can do it. Why else are you the priestess of the grove? Show us but how to win the fleece, and come with us, and you shall be my queen, and rule over the rich princes of the Minuai, in Iolcos by the sea.’

And all the heroes pressed round, and vowed to her that she should be their queen.

Medeia wept, and shuddered, and hid her face in her hands; for her heart yearned after her sisters and her playfellows, and the home where she was brought up as a child. But at last she looked up at Jason, and spoke between her sobs—

‘Must I leave my home and my people, to wander with strangers across the sea? The lot is cast, and I must endure it. I will show you how to win the golden fleece. Bring up your ship to the wood-side, and moor her there against the bank; and let Jason come up at midnight, and one brave comrade with him, and meet me beneath the wall.’

Then all the heroes cried together, ‘I will go!’ ‘and I!’ ‘and I!’ And Idas the rash grew mad with envy; for he longed to be foremost in all things. But Medeia calmed them, and said, ‘Orpheus shall go with Jason, and bring his magic harp; for I hear of him that he is the king of all minstrels, and can charm all things on earth.’

And Orpheus laughed for joy, and clapped his hands, because the choice had fallen on him; for in those days poets and singers were as bold warriors as the best.

So at midnight they went up the bank, and found Medeia; and beside came Absyrtus her young brother, leading a yearling lamb.