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The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Page: 63

‘Who are you, strange maiden? and what is the meaning of your prayer?’

‘I am Medeia, daughter of Aietes, and I saw my countrymen here to-day; and I know that they are come to find me, and take me home to die some dreadful death.’

Then Arete frowned, and said, ‘Lead this girl in, my maidens; and let the kings decide, not I.’

And Alcinous leapt up from his throne, and cried, ‘Speak, strangers, who are you? And who is this maiden?’

‘We are the heroes of the Minuai,’ said Jason; ‘and this maiden has spoken truth. We are the men who took the golden fleece, the men whose fame has run round every shore. We came hither out of the ocean, after sorrows such as man never saw before. We went out many, and come back few, for many a noble comrade have we lost. So let us go, as you should let your guests go, in peace; that the world may say, “Alcinous is a just king.”’

But Alcinous frowned, and stood deep in thought; and at last he spoke—

‘Had not the deed been done which is done, I should have said this day to myself, “It is an honour to Alcinous, and to his children after him, that the far-famed Argonauts are his guests.” But these Colchi are my guests, as you are; and for this month they have waited here with all their fleet, for they have hunted all the seas of Hellas, and could not find you, and dared neither go farther, nor go home.’

‘Let them choose out their champions, and we will fight them, man for man.’

‘No guests of ours shall fight upon our island, and if you go outside they will outnumber you. I will do justice between you, for I know and do what is right.’

Then he turned to his kings, and said, ‘This may stand over till to-morrow. To-night we will feast our guests, and hear the story of all their wanderings, and how they came hither out of the ocean.’

So Alcinous bade the servants take the heroes in, and bathe them, and give them clothes. And they were glad when they saw the warm water, for it was long since they had bathed. And they washed off the sea-salt from their limbs, and anointed themselves from head to foot with oil, and combed out their golden hair.


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