Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 77

"Shall I lead the dances, my father?"

"O my child, how I envy thee, that thou knowest naught! And now go into the tent; but first kiss me and give me thy hand, for thou shalt be parted from thy father for many days."

And when she was gone within, he cried, "O fair bosom and[Pg 136] very lovely cheeks and yellow hair of my child! O city of Priam, what woe thou bringest on me! But I must say no more."

Then he turned to the queen and excused himself that he wept when he should rather have rejoiced for the marriage of his daughter. And when the queen would know of the estate of the bridegroom he told her that his name was Achilles and that he was the son of Peleus by his wife Thetis, the daughter of Nereus of the sea, and that he dwelt in Phthia. And when she inquired of the time of the marriage, he said that it should be in the same moon, on the first lucky day; and as to the place, that it must be where the bridegroom was sojourning, that is to say, in the camp. "And I," said the king, "will give the maiden to her husband."

"But where," answered the queen, "is it your pleasure that I should be?"

"Thou must return to Argos and care for the maidens there."

"Sayest thou that I must return? Who then will hold up the torch for the bride?"

"I will do that which is needful. For it is not seemly that thou shouldst be present where the whole army is gathered together."

"Aye, but it is seemly that a mother should give her daughter in marriage."

"But the maidens at home should not be left alone."

"They are well kept in their chambers."

"Be persuaded, lady."

"Not so: thou shalt order that which is without the house, but I that which is within."

But now came Achilles to tell the king that the army was growing impatient, saying that unless they might sail speedily to Troy they would return each man to his home. And when the queen heard his name—for he had said to the attendant,[Pg 137] "Tell thy master that Achilles, the son of Peleus, would speak with him"—she came forth from the tent and greeted him and bade him give her his right hand. And when the young man was ashamed (for it was not counted a seemly thing that men should speak with women) she said:

"But why art thou ashamed, seeing that thou art about to marry my daughter?"

And he answered, "What sayest thou, lady? I cannot speak for wonder at thy words."

"Often men are ashamed when they see new friends and the talk is of marriage."

"But, lady, I never was suitor for thy daughter. Nor have the sons of Atreus said aught to me of the matter."

But the queen was beyond measure astonished, and cried, "Now this is shameful indeed, that I should seek a bridegroom for my daughter in such fashion."