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The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 76

Said Odysseus, 'Thou sayst that thy master will never return, but I notice that thou art slow to believe thine own words. Now I tell thee that Odysseus will return and in this same year. And as sure as the old moon wanes and the young moon is born, he will take vengeance on those whom you have spoken of—those who eat his substance and dishonour his wife and son. I say that, and I swear it with an oath.'

'I do not heed thine oath,' said Eumæus the swineherd. 'I do not listen to vagrant's tales about my master since a stranger came here and cheated us with a story. He told us that he had seen Odysseus in the land of the Cretans, in the house of the hero Idomeneus, mending his ships that had been broken by the storm, and that he would be here by summer or by harvest time, bringing with him much wealth.'

As they were speaking the younger swineherds came back from the woods, bringing the drove of swine into the courtyard. There was a mighty din whilst the swine were being put into their pens. Supper time came on, and Eumæus and Odysseus and the younger swineherds sat down to a meal. Eumæus carved the swineflesh, giving the best portion to Odysseus whom he treated as the guest of honour. And Odysseus said, 'Eumæus, surely thou art counselled by Zeus, seeing thou dost give the best of the meat even to such a one as I.'

And Eumæus, thinking Odysseus was praising him for treating a stranger kindly, said, 'Eat, stranger, and make merry with such fare as is here.'

The night came on cold with rain. Then Odysseus, to test the kindliness of the swineherd, said, 'O that I were young and could endure this bitter night! O that I were better off! Then would one of you swineherds give me a wrap to cover myself from the wind and rain! But now, verily, I am an outcast because of my sorry raiment.'

Then Eumæus sprang up and made a bed for Odysseus near the fire. Odysseus lay down, and the swineherd covered him with a mantle he kept for a covering when great storms should arise. Then, that he might better guard the swine, Eumæus, wrapping himself up in a cloak, and taking with him a sword and javelin, to drive off wild beasts should they come near, went to lie nearer to the pens.

When morning came, Odysseus said, 'I am going to the town to beg, so that I need take nothing more from thee. Send someone with me to be a guide. I would go to the house of Odysseus, and see if I can earn a little from the wooers who are there. Right well could I serve them if they would take me on. There could be no better serving-man than I, when it comes to splitting faggots, and kindling a fire and carving meat.'


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