The Heroes or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children
Page: 83So he went up the holy stairs, and into the Acropolis, where Ægeus’ palace stood; and he went straight into Ægeus’ hall, and stood upon the threshold, and looked round.
And there he saw his cousins sitting about the table at the wine: many a son of Pallas, but no Ægeus among them. There they sat and feasted, and laughed, and passed the wine-cup round; while harpers harped, and slave-girls sang, and the tumblers showed their tricks.
Then the Pallantids saw him, and called to him, half-drunk with wine, ‘Holla, tall stranger at the door, what is your will to-day?’
‘I come hither to ask for hospitality.’
‘Then take it, and welcome. You look like a hero and a bold warrior; and we like such to drink with us.’
‘I ask no hospitality of you; I ask it of Ægeus the king, the master of this house.’
At that some growled, and some laughed, and shouted, ‘Heyday! we are all masters here.’
‘Then I am master as much as the rest of you,’ said Theseus, and he strode past the table up the hall, and looked around for Ægeus; but he was nowhere to be seen.
The Pallantids looked at him, and then at each other, and each whispered to the man next him, ‘This is a forward fellow; he ought to be thrust out at the door.’ But each man’s neighbour whispered in return, ‘His shoulders are broad; will you rise and put him out?’ So they all sat still where they were.
A servant ran and told Ægeus, where he sat in his chamber within, by Medeia the dark witch-woman, watching her eye and hand. And when Ægeus heard of Troezene he turned pale and red again, and rose from his seat trembling, while Medeia watched him like a snake.
‘What is Troezene to you?’ she asked. But he said hastily, ‘Do you not know who this Theseus is? The hero who has cleared the country from all monsters; but that he came from Troezene, I never heard before. I must go out and welcome him.’
So Ægeus came out into the hall; and when Theseus saw him, his heart leapt into his mouth, and he longed to fall on his neck and welcome him; but he controlled himself, and said, ‘My father may not wish for me, after all. I will try him before I discover myself;’ and he bowed low before Ægeus, and said, ‘I have delivered the king’s realm from many monsters; therefore I am come to ask a reward of the king.’