Hero Tales

Page: 24

"When Priam had finished his tale, he drew his seat still nearer mine, and looked into my face with anxious, beseeching eyes. Then he said, 'I have long wished to send a ship across the sea to bring my sister back to Troy. A dark-prowed vessel, built for speed and safety, lies now at anchor in the harbor, and a picked crew is ready to embark at any moment. And here is my son Paris, handsome and brave, who is anxious to make voyage to Salamis, to seek unhappy Hesione. Yet our seamen have never ventured far from home, and they know nothing of the dangers of the deep, nor do they feel sure they can find their way to Greece. And so we have a favor to ask of you; and that is, that when your ship sails to-morrow, ours may follow in its wake across the sea."

Here Menelaus paused as if in deep thought, and not until his listeners begged him to go on, did he resume his story.

[1]Menelaus, king of Lacedaemon, was the husband of Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. At the time of his marriage to Helen all the princes of Greece had vowed to support him against any enemy who should attempt to defraud him of his rights. This and the following story tell of his visit to Troy and its results.



"I was glad when King Priam made this request," continued Menelaus, "for, in truth, I was loath to part with Paris; and I arranged at once that he should bear me company in my own ship while his vessel with its crew followed not far behind.

"And so, being blessed with favoring winds, we made a quick voyage back to my own country. What followed is too sad for lengthy mention, and is in part already known to you. Need I tell you how I opened my halls to Paris, and left no act of courtesy undone that I might make him happy? Need I tell you how he was welcomed by fair Helen, and how the summer days fled by on golden wings; and how in the delights of Lacedaemon he forgot his errand to Salamis, and cared only to remain with me, my honored guest and trusted friend?

"One day a message came to me from my old friend Idomeneus. He had planned a hunt among the mountains and woods of Crete, and he invited me to join him in the sport. I had not seen Idomeneus since the time that we together, in friendly contention, sought the hand of Helen. I could not do otherwise than accept his invitation, for he had sent his own ship to carry me over to Crete.

"So I bade farewell to Helen, saying, 'Let not our noble guest lack entertainment while I am gone; and may the golden hours glide happily until I come again.' And to Paris I said, 'Tarry another moon in Lacedasmon; and when I return from Crete, I will go with you to Salamis, and aid you in your search for Hesione.'