But Medeia called gently to him, and he stretched out his long spotted neck, and licked her hand. Then she made a sign to Orpheus, and he began his magic song.
And as he sung, the forest grew calm, and the leaves on every tree hung still, and the serpent’s head sank down and his coils grew limp, and his glittering eyes closed lazily, till he breathed as gently as a child.
Jason leapt forward warily and stept across that mighty snake, and tore the fleece from off the tree-trunk. Then the witch-maiden with Jason and Orpheus turned and rushed down to the bank where the Argo lay.
There was silence for a moment, when Jason held the Golden Fleece on high. Then he cried, “Go now, good Argo, swift and steady, if ever you would see Pelion more.”
And she went, as the heroes drove her, grim and silent all, with muffled oars. On and on, beneath the dewy darkness, they fled swiftly down the swirling stream, on and on till they heard the merry music of the surge.
Into the surge they rushed, and the Argo leapt the breakers like a horse, till the heroes stopped, all panting, each man upon his oar, as she slid into the broad sea.
Then Orpheus took his harp and sang a song of praise, till the heroes’ hearts rose high again, and they rowed on, stoutly and steadfastly, away into the darkness of the West.
HOW THE ARGONAUTS REACHED HOME
So the heroes fled away in haste, but Aietes manned his fleet and followed them.
Then Medeia, the dark witch-maiden, laid a cruel plot, for she killed her young brother who had come with her, and cast him into the sea, and said, “Ere my father can take up his body and bury it, he must wait long and be left far behind.”
And all the heroes shuddered, and looked one at the other in shame. When Aietes came to the place he stopped a long while and bewailed his son, and took him up and went home.
So the heroes escaped for a time, but Zeus saw that evil deed, and out of the heavens he sent a storm and swept the Argo far from her course. And at last she struck on a shoal, and the waves rolled over her and through her, and the heroes lost all hope of life.
Then out spoke the magic bough, which stood upon the Argo’s prow, “For your guilt, you must sail a weary way to where Circe, Medeia’s sister, dwells among the islands of the West; she shall cleanse you of your guilt.”
Whither they went I cannot tell, nor how they came to Circe’s isle, but at last they reached the fairy island of the West.
And Jason bid them land, and as they went ashore they met Circe coming down toward the ship, and they trembled when they saw her, for her hair and face and robes shone flame.
Then Circe cried to Medeia, “Ah, wretched girl, have you forgotten your sins that you come hither, where the flowers bloom all the year round? Where is your aged father, and the brother whom you killed? I will send you food and wine, but your ship must not stay here, for she is black with your wickedness.”