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paring to rush upon Jason. Then Jason did as bis friend Medea had told him. He took a great stone and threw it
and when the armed men saw it they all rushed to seize it ; so I think it must have been a beautiful block of marble, or some precious stone. Then they all began to quarrel for it among themselves, and to cut and thrust at each other; and as fast as a fresh one got his feet out of the earth, he ran to join the fight, and thus, in a short time, they had all killed one another. Meanwhile Jason went about the field cutting off the heads of those who were just coming up. In this way the armed men were all destroyed, and King Ætes was quite furious; but Medea and the heroes and the bystanders rejoiced heartily. The next morning Jason went to King Ætes, and asked for the golden fleece. The king would not give it him, and told him to come for it another time; but he secretly intended to have Jason murdered. And Medea told Jason this, and told him besides that he must fetch the golden fleece himself, or he would never get it. Now, the fleece was nailed to an oak, and at the foot of the oak lay a dragon who never slept, and who ate up any one that tried to touch the fleece except King Ætes; and the dragon was immortal, so that Medea could not help Jason to kill him. But he was very fond of sweet cakes, so Medea
Jason honey cakes in which she had mixed a sleeping potion ; and Jason took them and threw them to him, and the foolish dragon ate them all up and fell asleep directly. Then Jason drew out the nails which fastened the fleece to the tree, hid it under his cloak, and carried it on board his ship. And Medea went with him, and he married her, and took her to Greece. When Medea came to Thessaly with Jason she made old Æson young again, so that his white hair grew black, and his teeth came again, and all his strength returned, and he lived many years after; but she caused Pelias to die, so that Æson was king again in his stead.
When Jason had done ploughing he went to King Ætes and asked for the dragon's teeth, and Ætes gave him a brazen helmet quite full of teeth ; and Jason went and scattered them with his hand all over the field. And when he had done he went and lay down to rest till evening, for he was very tired. [Translated from the German of BERTHOLD NIEBUHR by
THE STORY OF ST. GEORGE OF ENGLAND,
ONE OF THE SEVEN CHAMPIONS OF CHRISTENDOM.
ST. GEORGE, the patron saint of Merrie England, was carried off, says the story, when a child by a wicked fairy, who took him across the seas and shut him
in her strong cave in the midst of a dark forest. Here she kept him for many years, using bim very cruelly; but the boy was patient, and learned to bear pain without complaining, so that the wicked fairy was in truth training him up to be a great man, and making him brave as a hero. Not content with being unkind to him herself, she ordered a dwarf, who also lived in a cave, to beat and tease the boy as much as he could. But St. George would not revenge himself on the poor dwarf; on the contrary, he did him a kindness as often as he had the chance. At last, one day when the wicked fairy was absent, the dwarf said to the prince: “Know, my good friend, that though I seem to you but a miserable
dwarf, I am a fairy in disguise. It is true I am not so powerful as the wicked fairy who keeps us here in prison ; but wait patiently, I shall yet be able to set you free.” The young prince thanked the fairy, and his hopes were raised by her promise; but he had yet many years to wait. These years were spent by the good dwarf in teaching the boy all princely knowledge,—to ride, and wield the sword, and poise the lance. Thus it was that, when he was a man, there was no knight to be found equal to St. George.
One day the friendly dwarf spoke thus to the prince : “Know, my prince, that our wicked enemy sleeps but once in a hundred years; but then she sleeps for a whole week. All her power depends on the silver wand she carries; but when she sleeps she hides this away so carefully, that it is difficult indeed to discover it. However, we must try, for this is our only chance of escape.” The young prince's heart beat high with hope as he heard these words, for he pined to escape from this dreary cavern. Day after day they followed the wicked fairy, to see where she would place the silver wand—in vain; for when at last she fell asleep they could nowhere find it. High and low the prince and the dwarf searched in every gloomy passage and dark corner of the cavern, but no silver wand was to be seen. The prince looked among her robes and her jewels, among her gold and silver, and her rich armour; no wand could he find. The days passed on, and still both searched,
, and still they searched in vain.
Five days bad thus passed away; the sixth day came, and that too ended, and they had not found the wand; they became very anxious, and searched more diligently than ever, for on that day the bad fairy was to awake. As the prince passed along a winding dark passage of the cavern, he saw at the end, by the light of his torch, a golden door. With
repeated blows he broke it open. A steep flight of rugged stone steps led winding upwards, he knew not where. Up he went, on and on; sometimes the stair went round and round, then it went straight on. Presently a door would bar his way, and he forced it open ; then a long, long passage would appear, and more stairs, but he never paused even to take breath, and his friend the dwarf was at his heels and urged him on. At last the light of day burst upon him, and he found himself in a magnificent temple of alabaster, on the top of a lofty mountain. From the windows of this temple he could see many miles of lovely country-cities and fields, rivers and vineyards, quiet little villages and noble castles.
He was so delighted with all that he saw that he forgot the silver wand and the wicked fairy; but the sound of a church bell rising up from the valley reminded him where he was, and that the hour was fast approaching when the terrible fairy would awake. He turned again to renew his search, when, on a velvet cushion lying on a marble table, he beheld the silver wand for which he had so long sought. Hə seized it at once.
“ Follow me," said the dwarf, hurrying back; “no time is to be lost.” Down the steps they ran, faster and faster, half leaping down a whole flight at a time. The bottom was reached at last, but the golden door had closed again. In vain they pushed and strove,-it remained closely shut. At last the prince touched it with his silver wand. Instantly it flew open. Along the cavern they ran, and at
, last they reached the chamber where the fairy lay sleeping. She was just beginning to awake; her eyes were about to open.
“Strike! strike !” said the dwarf, and the prince struck the bed with his wand. The bed began to sink; down, down it went, amid fearful shrieks and cries; the
room was filled with vapour, the cavern rocked, and when at last all was still, the prince found himself out in the thick forest, and by his side a charming fairy, who said to him, with a smile, “ You see I am no longer a dwarf.” The prince was much pleased to see this, but when he turned to look for the cavern it was nowhere to be seen.
The good fairy now led him away to a castle of brass where other prisoners lay as unhappy as they had been. Here they found six noble champions with their squires, and they set them all free. They were the champions of Scotland, Wales and Ireland; of France, and Italy, and Spain; and glad indeed were they to mount their horses and ride away in freedom. The fairy brought out a horse for St. George, and this horse was called Bayard. Then she took him to a room in the castle, and chose him a suit of armour of the purest steel, and gave him a sword that would overcome in every fight. She bade him use his sword to defend his country, to punish the evil doer, to protect the innocent; and with that she sent him forth. St. George and the other knights rode till they came to a wide plain, in the centre of which was a brazen pillar. Here seven roads met, and each of them choosing a different road, they parted company, and went forth in search of adventures.
Though cruelly treated, they were, on the whole, patient, and instead of spending the time in useless complainings they searched anxiously for the wand, and in their difficult search they reached a magnificent alabaster palace, from which they had a view of cities, and fields, and vineyards.