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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 54

A

nd while he rested the goddess, Pallas Athene, went to the City of the Phæacians, to whose land Odysseus had now come.

She came to the Palace of the King, and, passing through all the doors, came to the chamber where the King's daughter, Nausicaa slept. She entered into Nausicaa's dream, appearing to her in it as one of her girl-comrades. And in the dream she spoke to the Princess:

'Nausicaa,' she said, 'the garments of your household are all uncared for, and the time is near when, more than ever, you have need to have much and beautiful raiment. Your marriage day will be soon. You will have to have many garments ready by that time—garments to bring with you to your husband's house, and garments to give to those who will attend you at your wedding. There is much to be done, Nausicaa. Be ready at the break of day, and take your maidens with you, and bring the garments of your household to the river to be washed. I will be your mate in the toil. Beg your father to give you a wagon with mules to carry all the garments that we have need to wash.'

So in her dream Pallas Athene spoke to the Princess in the likeness of her girl-friend. Having put the task of washing into her mind, the goddess left the Palace of the King and the country of the Phæacians.

Nausicaa, when she rose thought upon her dream, and she went through the Palace and found her father. He was going to the assembly of the Phæacians. She came to him, but she was shy about speaking of that which had been in her dream—her marriage day—since her parents had not spoken to her about such a thing. Saying that she was going to the river to wash the garments of the household, she asked for a wagon and for mules. 'So many garments have I lying soiled,' she said. 'Yes and thou too, my father, should have fresh raiment when you go forth to the assembly of the Phæacians. And in our house are the two unwedded youths, my brothers, who are always eager for new washed garments wherein to go to dances.'

Her father smiled on her and said, 'The mules and wagon thou mayst have, Nausicaa, and the servants shall get them ready for thee now.'

He called to the servants and bade them get ready the mules and the wagon. Then Nausicaa gathered her maids together and they brought the soiled garments of the household to the wagon. And her mother, so that Nausicaa and her maids might eat while they were from home, put in a basket filled with dainties and a skin of wine. Also she gave them a jar of olive-oil so that they might rub themselves with oil when bathing in the river.

Young Nausicaa herself drove the wagon. She mounted it and took the whip in her hands and started the mules, and they went through fields and by farms and came to the river-bank.

The girls brought the garments to the stream, and leaving them in the shallow parts trod them with their bare feet. The wagon was unharnessed and the mules were left to graze along the river side. Now when they had washed the garments they took them to the sea-shore and left them on the clean pebbles to dry in the sun. Then Nausicaa and her companions went into the river and bathed and sported in the water.

When they had bathed they sat down and ate the meal that had been put on the wagon for them. The garments were not yet dried and Nausicaa called on her companions to play. Straightway they took a ball and threw it from one to the other, each singing a song that went with the game. And as they played on the meadow they made a lovely company, and the Princess Nausicaa was the tallest and fairest and noblest of them all.

Before they left the river side to load the wagon they played a last game. The Princess threw the ball, and the girl whose turn it was to catch missed it. The ball went into the river and was carried down the stream. At that they all raised a cry. It was this cry that woke up Odysseus who, covered over with leaves, was then sleeping in the shelter of the two olive trees.


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