The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tales of Troy

Page: 92

'Is that thy counsel, O stranger?' said Penelope.

'It is my counsel,' said Odysseus.

'I thank thee for thy counsel,' she said. 'And now farewell, for I must go to my rest. And do thou lie down in the vestibule, in the bed that has been made for thee.'

So Penelope spoke, and then she went to her chamber with her handmaidens. And in her bed she thought over all the stranger had told her of Odysseus, and she wept again for him.



ll night Odysseus lay awake, tossing this side and that, as he pondered on how he might slay the wooers, and save his house from them. As soon as the dawn came, he went into the open air and, lifting up his hands, prayed to Zeus, the greatest of the gods, that he might be shown some sign, as to whether he would win victory or meet with defeat.

And then, as he was going within the house, he heard the voice of a woman who ground barley-meal between stones. She was one of twelve, but the other women had fallen asleep by the quern-stones. She was an ancient, wretched woman, covered all over with the dust of the grain, and, as Odysseus came near her, she lifted up her hands and prayed in a weak voice:

'O Zeus, even for miserable me, fulfil a prayer! May this be the last day that the wooers make their feast in the house of Odysseus! They have loosened my knees with the cruel toil they have made me undergo, grinding for them the barley for the bread they eat. O Zeus, may they to-day sup their last!'

Thus the quern-woman spoke, as Odysseus crossed his threshold. He was glad of her speech, for it seemed to him her words were an omen from Zeus, and that vengeance would soon be wrought upon the proud and hard-hearted men who wasted the goods of the house and oppressed the servants.