THE GOLDEN FLEECE
HEY brought Jason into a hall where Æson, his father, waited.
Very strange did this old and grave-looking man appear to him.
But when Æson spoke, Jason remembered the tone of his father's voice and he clasped him
to him. And his father knew him even without the sight of the
ruby ring which Jason had upon his finger.
Then the young man began to tell of the centaur and of his life
upon the Mountain Pelion. As they were speaking together Pelias
came to where they stood, Pelias in the purple robe of a king and
with the crown upon his head. Æson tightly clasped Jason as if
he had become fearful for his son. Pelias smilingly took the hand
of the young man and the hand of his brother, and he bade them
both welcome to his palace.
Then, walking between them, the king brought the two into the
feasting hall. The youth who had known only the forest and the
mountainside had to wonder at the beauty and the
magnifi-  cence of all he saw around him. On the walls were bright pictures; the
tables were of polished wood, and they had vessels of gold and
dishes of silver set upon them; along the walls were vases of
lovely shapes and colors, and everywhere there were baskets
heaped with roses white and red.
The king's guests were already in the hall, young men and elders,
and maidens went amongst them carrying roses which they strung
into wreaths for the guests to put upon their heads. A
soft-handed maiden gave Jason a wreath of roses and he put it on
his head as he sat down at the king's table. When he looked at
all the rich and lovely things in that hall, and when he saw the
guests looking at him with friendly eyes, Jason felt that he was
indeed far away from the dim spaces of the mountain forest and
from the darkness of the centaur's cave.
Rich food and wine such as he had never dreamt of tasting were
brought to the tables. He ate and drank, and his eyes followed
the fair maidens who went through the hall. He thought how
glorious it was to be a king. He heard Pelias speak to Æson, his
father, telling him that he was old and that he was weary of
ruling; that he longed to make friends, and that he would let no
enmity now be between him and his brother. And he heard the king
say that he, Jason, was young and courageous, and that he would
call upon him to help to rule the land, and that, in a while,
Jason would bear full sway over the kingdom that Cretheus had
So Pelias spoke to Æson as they both sat together at the king's
 high table. But Jason, looking on them both, saw that the eyes
that his father turned on him were full of warnings and mistrust.
After they had eaten King Pelias made a sign, and a cupbearer
bringing a richly wrought cup came and stood before the king. The
king stood up, holding the cup in his hands, and all in the hall
waited silently. Then Pelias put the cup into Jason's hands and
he cried out in a voice that was heard all through the hall,
"Drink from this cup, O nephew Jason! Drink from this cup, O man
who will soon come to rule over the kingdom that Cretheus
All in the hall stood up and shouted with delight at that speech.
But the king was not delighted with their delight, Jason saw. He
took the cup and he drank the rich wine; pride grew in him; he
looked down the hall and he saw faces all friendly to him; he
felt as a king might feel, secure and triumphant. And then he
heard King Pelias speaking once more.
"This is my nephew Jason, reared and fostered in the centaur's
cave. He will tell you of his life in the forest and the
mountains—his life that was like to the life of the half gods."
Then Jason spoke to them, telling them of his life on the
Mountain Pelion. When he had spoken, Pelias said:
"I was bidden by the oracle to beware of the man whom I should
see coming toward me half shod. But, as you all see, I have
brought the half-shod man to my palace and my feasting hall, so
little do I dread the anger of the gods.
"And I dread it little because I am blameless. This youth, the
 son of my brother, is strong and courageous, and I rejoice in his
strength and courage, for I would have him take my place and
reign over you. Ah, that I were as young as he is now! Ah, that
I had been reared and fostered as he was reared and fostered by
the wise centaur and under the eyes of the immortals! Then would
I do that which in my youth I often dreamed of doing! Then would
I perform a deed that would make my name and the name of my city
famous throughout all Greece! Then would I bring from far
Colchis, the famous Fleece of Gold that King Æetes keeps guard
He finished speaking, and all in the hall shouted out, "The
Golden Fleece, the Golden Fleece from Colchis!" Jason stood up,
and his father's hand gripped him. But he did not heed the hold
of his father's hand, for "The Golden Fleece, the Golden Fleece!"
rang in his ears, and before his eyes were the faces of those who
were all eager for the sight of the wonder that King Æetes kept
Then said Jason, "Thou hast spoken well, O King Pelias! Know, and
know all here assembled, that I have heard of the Golden Fleece
and of the dangers that await on any one who should strive to win
it from King Æetes's care. But know, too, that I would strive to
win the Fleece and bring it to Iolcus, winning fame both for
myself and for the city."
When he had spoken he saw his father's stricken eyes; they were
fixed upon him. But he looked from them to the shining eyes of
the young men who were even then pressing around
 where he stood.
"Jason, Jason!" they shouted. "The Golden Fleece for Iolcus!"
"King Pelias knows that the winning of the Golden Fleece is a
feat most difficult," said Jason. "But if he will have built for
me a ship that can make the voyage to far Colchis, and if he will
send throughout all Greece the word of my adventuring so that all
the heroes who would win fame might come with me, and if ye,
young heroes of Iolcus, will come with me, I will peril my life
to win the wonder that King Æetes keeps guard over."
He spoke and those in the hall shouted again and made clamor
around him. But still his father sat gazing at him with stricken
King Pelias stood up in the hall and holding up his scepter he
said, "O my nephew Jason, and O friends assembled here, I promise
that I will have built for the voyage the best ship that ever
sailed from a harbor in Greece. And I promise that I will send
throughout all Greece a word telling of Jason's voyage so that
all heroes desirous of winning fame may come to help him and to
help all of you who may go with him to win from the keeping of
King Æetes the famous Fleece of Gold."
So King Pelias said, but Jason, looking to the king from his
father's stricken eyes, saw that he had been led by the king into
the acceptance of the voyage so that he might fare far from
Iolcus, and perhaps lose his life in striving to gain the wonder
that King Æetes kept guarded. By the glitter in Pelias's eyes he
knew the truth. Nevertheless Jason would not take back one
that he had spoken; his heart was strong within him, and he
thought that with the help of the bright-eyed youths around and
with the help of those who would come to him at the word of the
voyage, he would bring the Golden Fleece to Iolcus and make
famous for all time his own name.
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