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Alfred J. Church

Now it chanced that Menelaus had made a great feast that day, for his daughter, the child of the fair Helen, was married to the son of Achilles, to whom she had been promised at Troy; and his son had also taken a wife. And the two wayfarers stayed their chariot at the door, and the steward spied them, and said to Menelaus:—

“Lo! here are two strangers who are like the children of kings. Shall we keep them here, or send them to another?”

And when the suitors had departed, Ulysses spake to Telemachus, saying: “Come now, let us hide away the arms that are in the hall. And if any of the suitors ask concerning them, thou shalt say, 'I have put them away out of the smoke, for they are not such as they were when Ulysses departed, for the breath of fire hath marred them. And for this cause also have I put them away, lest ye should quarrel and wound one another when ye are heated with wine; for the sight of iron tempteth a man to strike.' So shalt thou speak to the suitors.”

The next day Menelaus said to Telemachus: “For what end hast thou come hither to fair Lacedaemon?”

Then Telemachus said: “I have come to ask if thou canst tell me aught of my father. For certain suitors of my mother devour my goods, nor do I see any help. Tell me truly, therefore; knowest thou anything thyself about my father, or hast thou heard anything from another?”

And Menelaus answered:—

Ulysses laid him down to sleep in the gallery of the hall. On a bull's hide he lay, and over him he put fleeces of sheep that had been slain for sacrifice and feast, and the dame that kept the house threw a mantle over him.

And he slept not, for he had many thoughts in his heart, but turned him from side to side, thinking how, being one against many, he might slay the suitors in his hall.

Again the gods sate in council on high Olympus, and Athene spake among them, saying:

“Now let no king be minded to do righteously, for see how there is no man that remembereth Ulysses, who was as a father to his people. And he lieth far off, fast bound in Calypso's isle, and hath no ship to take him to his own country. Also the suitors are set upon slaying his son, who is gone to Pylos and to Lacedaemon, that he may get tidings of his father.”

Then spake Ulysses among the suitors: “This labour has been accomplished. Let me try at yet another mark.”

And he aimed his arrow at Antinous. But the man was just raising a cup to his lips, thinking not of death, for who had thought that any man, though mightiest of mortals, would venture on such a deed, being one among many? Right through the neck passed the arrow-head, and the blood gushed from his nostrils, and he dropped the cup and spurned the table from him.

[Footnote: Nau-sic'-a-a.]

Meanwhile Athene went to the city of Phaeacians, to the palace of Alcinous [Footnote: Al-cin'-o-us.], their King. There she betook her to the chamber where slept Nausicaa, daughter of the King, a maiden fair as are the gods. The goddess stood above the maiden, in the likeness of a girl that was of equal age with her, and had found favour in her sight.

Eurycleia went to the chamber of her mistress, bearing the glad tidings. She made haste in her great joy, and her feet stumbled one over the other. And she stood by the head of Penelope, and spake, saying: “Awake, dear child, and see with thine eyes that which thou hast desired so long. For, indeed, Ulysses hath come back, and hath slain the men that devoured his substance.”

Nausicaa came to her father's house, and there her brothers unyoked the mules from the wagon, and carried the garments into the house; and the maiden went to her chamber, where a nurse kindled for her a fire, and prepared a meal.

At the same time Ulysses rose to go to the city; and Athene spread a mist about him, for she would not that any of the Phaeacians should see him and mock him. And when he was now about to enter the city, the goddess took upon herself the shape of a young maiden carrying a pitcher, and met him.

Meanwhile, Ulysses went forth from his palace to the dwelling of Laertes, that was in the fields. There the old man dwelt, and a woman of Sicily cared for him. And Ulysses spake to his son and to the shepherds, saying: “Go ye into the house and prepare a meal of swine's flesh, as savoury as may be; and I will make trial of my father, whether he will know me. For it may well be that he hath forgotten me, seeing that I have been now a long time absent.”

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