'The Lamb With The Golden Fleece' | Circle Round 3020:53

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

To listen to the three stories mentioned in this episode, click here, here, and here.
Once upon a time…

As soon as you heard those words, your ears probably perked up, right?

There’s just something so magical about being swept up into a story.

And on today’s episode, we’ll meet three friends whose passion for telling stories… changes their entire future! This week, our story is called “The Lamb With the Golden Fleece.” It was inspired by a folktale that’s been told for years and years in Iraq, a country in the Middle East.

Voices on this episode include Laura Gardner, Maizy Scarpa, Jacob Yeh, Evan Casey, and Kathleen Chalfant.  If you enjoy theater, dance, music, painting and poetry, Kathleen is collaborating with SummerScape Dance on a multimedia production of T-S Eliot’s “Four Quartets” at Bard College, in July.

“The Lamb With the Golden Fleece” was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir and edited by executive producer, Jessica Alpert. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn; she’s the one who created those wonderful coloring pages you’ll find HERE.

Story continues below

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That’s it for this season of Circle Round. We’ll be back on June 5th with a whole new batch of stories! In the meantime, you’ll still hear from us each week, as we present some of our favorite tales from season one. And you can catch up on episodes you missed by subscribing to Circle Round on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you have a moment, write us a review; it helps other people find Circle Round.

ADULTS! Print THIS OUT so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening
Think back to all the Circle Round stories you’ve heard this season. Did one particularly draw you in? Maybe you really related to one of the characters or you liked the music or the plot had you on the edge of your seat!

Think about which Circle Round story most resonated with you then tell us about it! Have a grown-up use the voice-memo app on a smartphone to record you talking about your favorite tale. You can talk for a few seconds, or a few minutes. Then have your grown-up email us what you said! Our address is

Story Transcript
NARRATOR: Ari, Amelia and Omar were as close as three friends could be. They came from the same village, they loved the same foods, and they all shared a passion… for telling stories.

After they graduated from the local university, Ari, Amelia and Omar decided to set out together and travel the world.

First, though, they wanted to earn some money, to help pay for their travels. On the first day of their job search, they met... a farmer. She was seeking someone to tend her sheep for the winter.

FARMER: The work days are long, and the weather is cold, but the three of you will make a great team. There’s just one thing: my village has fallen on hard times, so... I cannot repay you. Well, not with money, anyway. But if you work for me until the spring… when all the new lambs are born… you may each choose one lamb to call your own!

NARRATOR: Ari, Amelia and Omar decided the deal sounded fair enough. So all winter long they tended the flock of sheep. While they worked, they spun grand tales of the extravagant lives they would one day lead.

ARI: Friends, I’m going to be so rich, I’ll have seven different beds: one to sleep on each night of the week!

AMELIA: You think that’s rich, Ari? I’m going to be so wealthy, I’ll have twelve houses: one to live in each month of the year!

OMAR: Ari, Amelia, you’re not dreaming big enough! I’m going to be so well-off, I’ll have three-hundred-and-sixty-five shirts, and hats, and pairs of pants and shoes, so that I’ll never wear the same thing twice! I’ll be known as “Omar, the best-dressed man in the world!”

ARI, AMELIA, OMAR: (laughter)

NARRATOR: This went on all winter. In the spring, the lambs were born. The tiny creatures were all soft as a cloud and white as the snow, except... for one.

ARI: Is it just me, or is that lamb…

AMELIA: It can’t be!

OMAR: It’s… golden!!!!

NARRATOR: It was true! Among the farmer’s cuddly, little lambs was one that was golden as the sun!

FARMER: Ari. Amelia. Omar. When winter began, I promised each of you you could choose your own lamb. Now, the lambs are here. So... which one do you pick, Ari?

NARRATOR: Ari answered without hesitation.

ARI: Me? I choose the golden lamb! The golden one!

FARMER: And Amelia? Which one do you choose?

AMELIA: There’s no question! I want the golden one, too!

FARMER: Omar? How about you?

OMAR: I can’t deny it: the golden one! I want the lamb with the golden fleece!

NARRATOR: The farmer smiled.

FARMER: Well, there’s only one golden lamb, and there are three of you. So you must decide amongst yourselves who shall get the lamb with the golden fleece.

NARRATOR: The three friends were stuck. They knew that whoever got the lamb could sell it at the market, and make tons of money! Enough money to start a new journey… and a new life!

That’s when Omar... had an idea.

OMAR: Ari! Amelia! how about this? What do you say we venture to the capital city, and take our case to the judge there? She’s famous for being the wisest person around. Perhaps she can decide which one of us deserves the lamb with the golden fleece!

AMELIA: That’s a great idea, Omar.

ARI: I agree! Let’s go!

NARRATOR: So… golden lamb in hand… the three friends set out for the capital city. All the way there, they argued over which one of them most deserved such a treasure. When they reached their destination, they stood before the judge… a tall woman with a billowing black robe flowing to the ground... and explained their situation.

JUDGE: Hmmmm… you three do have quite the situation on your hands, don’t you?  Tell me, Ari: why do you think you deserve the lamb with the golden fleece?

ARI: Well, Your Honor, it’s simple. I should get the lamb because I am the eldest. Aren’t we taught all the way from childhood to respect our elders? What better sign of respect than to allow me, the eldest, to have the lamb?

JUDGE: You make an interesting point, Ari. Now you, Amelia: why do you think you deserve the lamb with the golden fleece?

AMELIA: I deserve it, Your Honor, because I am the most clever! If I got that lamb, and sold it, I could think of all sorts of brilliant ways to put the money to use! Ways no one else could dream up in a million years!

JUDGE: I see, I see. And how about you, Omar? Why do you think you deserve the lamb with the golden fleece?

OMAR: In short, it’s because I am the most patient, Your Honor. Give me that lamb, and I’ll take my time figuring out the best way to make use of it. You won’t see any rash decisions from me!

NARRATOR: The judge furrowed her brow and rubbed her hands together for a moment. At last, she spoke.

JUDGE: There is no doubt: I have a tough decision ahead of me. You’ve all stated your cases so eloquently. In fact, it’s clear to me that each one of you has an extraordinary gift for words. So extraordinary, in fact, that I shall let that gift be the deciding factor.

NARRATOR: The three friends were confused.

AMELIA: ‘Words,’ Your Honor?

OMAR: With all due respect, how can a ‘gift for words’ decide anything?

ARI: ...Especially a decision as tricky as this one?

NARRATOR: The friends knew the judge must have some brilliant plan up her sleeve, but what could it be? What do you think the judge means when she says “words” will decide who wins the lamb with the golden fleece?

We’ll find out… after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir, and today’s story is called “The Lamb With the Golden Fleece.”

When we left off, a wise judge was deciding which of three friends — Ari, Amelia, and Omar — would win a lamb with golden fleece. The friends all loved telling stories. And the judge told them that their gift for words would determine who got the lamb.

JUDGE: Alright, my friends. Here is what you must do. You must each tell me a story. And whichever of you tells the best tale? You shall be the winner! The lamb with the golden fleece shall be yours.

NARRATOR: Now, remember: Ari, Amelia and Omar had been sharing stories with one another their entire lives. So they had a lot of practice. Ari, the eldest, stepped forward and bowed.

ARI: If it please Your Honor, I shall share the first story.

JUDGE: Yes, please, Ari! I am all ears.

ARI: Well, once upon a time, there was a woman — a farmer -- who wanted more than anything... to have children. One night, she wished upon a star for some kids... and her wish... was granted! In fact, when she got home, she had one-hundred kids waiting for her! But she and her husband worried about all those mouths to feed, so the woman made a bet with a dragon… a dragon who had piles and piles of gold in his lair! Whichever of the two could prove they were stronger, that’s who would get the gold. [fade down and maintain beneath host narration that follows] So the woman told the dragon that she was so strong, she could lift up a boulder and throw it straight into the moon. The dragon, of course, didn’t believe her. When he threw the first boulder, it went sailing up into the sky and far, far away!

NARRATOR: The judge’s eyes grew wide as Ari spun his tale. At last the young man finished.

ARI: [fade back up again] So, together, Stella and her children carried the gold into their home, one handful at a time. After counting it, they realized they had just enough so that they’d live comfortably, and never go hungry!

JUDGE: Bravo, Ari! Bravo! That was a marvelous story… one that will be difficult to equal. Amelia? Are you up to the challenge?

NARRATOR: Amelia stepped forward and bowed.

AMELIA: I am, Your Honor. There once was a young merchant who was so honest and generous, his customers always took advantage of him. But he wanted to prove he was good at his job, so he went out into the world with a bag of onions, which were so cheap, that only the best merchant could actually make any profit from them. Then one day, he got into a shipwreck! And he found himself in a kingdom that was full of diamonds! [fade down and maintain beneath host narration that follows] But it turned out that in this kingdom, onions were even more valuable than diamonds! So he went back home a very successful and wealthy man, which made his brother and sister jealous, so they decided to visit the kingdom with some garlic...

NARRATOR: The judge smiled as Amelia wove her yarn. Finally, she came to the end.

AMELIA: [fade back up again] So the brother and sister got the queen to take all their garlic. In exchange, she told them they’d get the most valuable thing in her kingdom. And when they got home? Their ship wasn’t full of silver or gold; it was full of onions!

JUDGE: (laughing) Simply fantastic, Amelia! (beat) But we have one last story to hear. Are you ready, Omar?

NARRATOR: Omar stepped forward and bowed.

OMAR: Readier than ever, Your Honor. Although my tale is the last, I promise: it shall not be the least.  It all began on an island far, far away, where there lived a very good, and very honest, fisherman. One day the fisherman met a mysterious stranger, who gave him a magic jar. All you had to do was ask the jar for something you needed, and it would give it to you. But once you had enough, you must tell it... to stop. Well, one day the man’s older brother… a very selfish, mischievous fellow… he decided he would steal the jar, and use it to get rich!  So he snuck into his brother’s house one night, grabbed the jar, and jumped into his boat to row back home. As he floated on the water, he ordered the jar to make him some salt. So the jar filled up and up and up...

NARRATOR: The Judge chuckled with delight as Omar shared the twists and turns of his tale. At last, Omar came to the end.

OMAR: [fade back up again] And because the bad brother never told the jar to stop, the salt spilled over the sides of the jar and into the boat! Before long, the boat, and the jar, sank deep, deep below the waters. The brother swam home empty-handed. And that is why, today, all of our oceans are salty!

NARRATOR: The judge smiled and clapped her hands.

JUDGE: Omar, Amelia, Ari… you’ve all told most excellent stories. All three of you!  But before I make my final decision about who gets the lamb with the golden fleece, there’s one more thing you must do. You must answer this question: if I were to choose you… and you sold the lamb… what would you do with the fortune you received from that sale? Ari, let’s have you go first.

ARI: Your Honor, that’s simple! I would rent a stall in the marketplace, and I’d open a shop. I would sell silks and spices and before long, I would be rich!

JUDGE: (considers) Mm-hmm. And you, Amelia? What would you do?

AMELIA: I would use the money to learn how to keep accounts, Your Honor. Then I could work for a rich businessperson and make my place in the world!

JUDGE: (considers) I see. And you, Omar? What is your answer?

OMAR: Were I to receive the lamb and sell it, Your Honor, I would travel abroad and bring back all sorts of rare, interesting things! I would sell them, and use my profits to buy even more rare, interesting things! Before long, my fortune would be made.

NARRATOR: The judge nodded thoughtfully. She began pacing in front of the three friends, her long black robe trailing along the ground behind her.

JUDGE: Ari, Amelia, Omar, you have provided fair answers to my question. And the stories you told… each one was different and special in its own way. But ultimately, they were all of equal excellence. Therefore, I have decided that I will take the lamb with the golden fleece... and sell it myself. I will divide the profits equally among the three of you. Is that acceptable to you all?

NARRATOR: Upon hearing the judge’s words, Ari, Amelia and Omar were surprised… and not very happy.

ARI: But, Your Honor! The three of us have already agreed: only one of us must get all the profits!

AMELIA: That way, at least one of us can go out and make his or her fortune in the world!

OMAR: So, with all due respect, if you divide the profits into three parts, none of us will have enough money to do anything!

NARRATOR: The judge stopped her pacing, and held up her hand.

JUDGE: Listen. I hear you. I do. But now you must hear me. I promise: each one of you shall have just what you need to start a rewarding new life. Now, wait here.

NARRATOR: The friends watched the Judge walk out of the room, her long robe trailing behind her. As soon as she was gone, they began to chatter.

AMELIA: What do you think the judge will bring when she comes back?

ARI: Well, surely that lamb is worth a fortune. So maybe she’ll come back with a chest of gold coins!

OMAR: Or two chests!

AMELIA: Or – better yet – three! One for each of us!

NARRATOR: The three friends began bouncing up and down with eagerness. When at last the judge returned, she was dragging a massive burlap sack.

JUDGE: Thank you for your patience, my friends. I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long.

ARI: Of course not, Your Honor! We can’t wait to see what you’ve brought back for us!

JUDGE: Ah! Well. Let me show you.

NARRATOR: The judge reached deep into the burlap sack. Ari, Amelia and Omar leaned forward, so excited their hands were trembling.

But when they saw what the judge took out of the sack, their excitement turned… to bewilderment.

OMAR: But that’s –

AMELIA: Wait a minute –

ARI: What?!?

NARRATOR: You see, out of the sack, the judge had not pulled a chest of gold coins.

Or two.

Or three.

No, she’d pulled out three warm cloaks… three sturdy pairs of shoes… and three loaves of fresh bread.

Ari, the eldest, stepped forward.

ARI: With all due respect, Your Honor… what about our money?!?

NARRATOR: The judge raised an eyebrow. Her lips curled into a smile.

JUDGE: My friends! I never promised you money! I only promised you what you would need... and that is exactly what I have given you.

OMAR: But cloaks... shoes... bread… what good are these things to us?

NARRATOR: The judge motioned for Ari, Amelia and Omar to come closer. She pointed at the cloaks.

JUDGE: These cloaks… they will protect you from the chill of night. And these shoes…?

NARRATOR: She motioned toward the sturdy footwear.

JUDGE: These shoes will carry you far!

AMELIA: And the bread? What about the bread?

JUDGE: The bread will nourish you on your journey, until you reach your next destination! And once you arrive, the people there will gladly fulfill your every need.

NARRATOR: The three friends were still perplexed.

OMAR: What do you mean, ‘fulfill our every need’? In exchange for what?

AMELIA: Omar’s right! We have no trade to practice. And without the money from the lamb with the golden fleece, it’s not like we have goods to sell!

ARI: That’s true, Amelia! I mean, what can we possibly offer these people, Your Honor? Leftover bread...?

NARRATOR: The judge looked at the three friends with twinkling eyes.

JUDGE: Don’t you see? Ari! Amelia! Omar! You three… are storytellers! You can offer the people your wonderful stories! Think about it. If I gave you money for the lamb with the golden fleece, what would you do with it? You would become businesspeople, you would become accountants. And there is a place in the world for these honorable occupations. But if you were to follow that path, what a waste it would be! The three of you were meant for something else – something more! (beat) You must not mourn for something you do not possess. Instead, celebrate the gifts you’ve been given! So, go forth, storytellers... and share your amazing gift with the world.

NARRATOR: And that’s exactly... what they did. Soon, Ari, Amelia and Omar were off to travel the world. Just as the judge predicted, wherever the young friends went, they were welcomed… well-fed… and well-cared-for... in exchange for the magnificent stories they told.

They never made enough of a fortune to buy seven beds, twelve houses or three-and-sixty-five pairs of pants – far from it! But the three friends were rich in other things. Like friendship. Contentment. And... most of all? They were rich in wisdom… the wisdom to appreciate the value of such priceless treasures.

Rebecca Sheir Twitter Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.