The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 77

'Nay, nay,' said Eumæus, 'do not go there, stranger. None here are at a loss by thy presence. Stay until the son of Odysseus, Telemachus, returns, and he will do something for thee. Go not near the wooers. It is not such a one as thee that they would have to serve them. Stay this day with us.'

Odysseus did not go to the town but stayed all day with Eumæus. And at night, when he and Eumæus and the younger swineherds were seated at the fire, Odysseus said, 'Thou, too, Eumæus, hast wandered far and hast had many sorrows. Tell us how thou earnest to be a slave and a swineherd,'T

here is,' said Eumæus, 'a certain island over against Ortygia. That island has two cities, and my father was king over them both.'

'There came to the city where my father dwelt, a ship with merchants from the land of the Phœnicians. I was a child then, and there was in my father's house a Phœnician slave-woman who nursed me. Once, when she was washing clothes, one of the sailors from the Phœnician ship spoke to her and asked her would she like to go back with them to their own land.'

'She spoke to that sailor and told him her story. "I am from Sidon in the Phœnician land," she said, "and my father was named Artybas, and was famous for his riches. Sea robbers caught me one day as I was crossing the fields, and they stole me away, and brought me here, and sold me to the master of yonder house."'

'Then the sailor said to her, "Your father and mother are still alive, I know, and they have lost none of their wealth. Wilt thou not come with us and see them again?"'

'Then the woman made the sailors swear that they would bring her safely to the city of Sidon. She told them that when their ship was ready she would come down to it, and that she would bring what gold she could lay her hands on away from her master's house, and that she would also bring the child whom she nursed. "He is a wise child," she said, "and you can sell him for a slave when you come to a foreign land."'

'When the Phœnician ship was ready to depart they sent a message to the woman. The sailor who brought the message brought too a chain of gold with amber beads strung here and there, for my mother to buy. And, while my mother and her handmaids were handling the chain, the sailor nodded to the woman, and she went out, taking with her three cups of gold, and leading me by the hand,'

'The sun sank and all the ways were darkened. But the Phœnician woman went down to the harbour and came to the ship and went aboard it. And when the sailor who had gone to my father's house came back, they raised the mast and sails, and took the oars in their hands, and drew the ship away from our land. We sailed away and I was left stricken at heart. For six days we sailed over the sea, and on the seventh day the woman died and her body was cast into the deep. The wind and the waves bore us to Ithaka, and there the merchants sold me to Laertes, the father of Odysseus.'