PARIS AND NONE
HEN Peleus the mortal married silver-footed Thetis, the
fair nymph of the sea, great was the rejoicing among
the gods and men; for Peleus was a brave warrior and a
mighty man, and well deserved to have for a wife a
child of the Immortals. To his marriage-feast he bade
all the gods and goddesses, and they left their seats
on calm Olympus, and came down to Pelion where he
dwelt, a band of shining ones, to do honour to the
mortal whom they loved. One alone of them all he had
not asked—Eris, the black-browed Goddess of
Strife, for at his wedding-feast he wished to have
happiness and joy, and no dark looks to mar the
gladness of his board. But he looked to find shame in
the heart of one who knew not shame. As it was, she
came unasked, and great was the sorrow that her coming
brought, both to him and to his wife and all the fair
land of Hellas. For she sowed the seed of discord
which blossomed to the blood-red flower of war, in
which the mightiest and the best of two great nations
fell through ten long years of strife, and among them
was Achilles, the swiftest and bravest of mortal
 men, the son whom Thetis bore to Peleus to be a comfort
to him in his old age, and to succeed him when he died.
But as it was, Achilles died
in battle far from his native land
in the prime and flower of his manhood.
Now the manner in which Eris wreaked her vengeance was
in this wise.
When the marriage-feast was drawing to its close and
the gladdening wine had unlocked the lips and opened
the hearts of the revellers, above all the din and
clatter there rang through the hall a harsh, discordant
laugh like the rattle of thunder before the storm. A
dead silence fell upon them all, and every eye was
turned towards the place from whence that fearful laugh
had come. In the shade of the doorway stood a tall
gaunt figure wrapped all about in black. Above her
head she held a blood-red torch that flickered madly in
the breeze, and cast upon her face the shadow of her
wild elf-locks. Her cheeks were pale as ashes and her
lips were thin and blue, but her eyes shone bright as
red-hot coals. When she saw the hall silent and
trembling before her, she laughed aloud once more and
waved the torch above her.
"Ha! ha!" she cried. "you give me a cold welcome, my
masters. But I am kinder than you. I give, and take
nothing in return. See here, I bring seasoning to your
feast, and much joy may you have of it."
Thereupon she drew from her bosom an apple all of gold,
and hurled it in their faces on the board. It rolled
along the tale like a ball of light, and stopped in the
centre before Peleus, the king of the feast. The eyes
of all the guests followed it full of amazement and
delight, for it was wondrous fair to look upon.
 "I see you like my gift," cried
Eris. "Let her keep it who deserves it best.
Farewell. I stay not where I came unbidden."
Then she turned upon her heel, and strode away into the
blackness of the night.
When she had gone, Peleus put forth his hand and took
the apple. It was of pure gold, the outermost parts of
white gold pale as straw, and the cheeks of red gold
bright as poppies, and across it was written in shining
letters, "For the Fairest."
As Peleus read the words aloud he looked slowly round
"O lady goddesses," he asked, "to which of you shall I
Thereupon arose a strife of tongues, and all the
harmony and good-fellowship of the feast was gone, for
one said one thing and one another, and each one in her
heart wished to have it for her own. But the claim of
three stood out above that of all the rest.
"I am the Queen of Heaven," said Hera, "and the mother
of gods and man. The apple is mine by right."
"I am the giver of knowledge and wisdom," said Pallas
Athene, "and through me all things are perfected, and
the wrong is put to right. The apple should be mine."
"I am the Goddess of Love," said Aphrodite, "I am life
itself. My claim is the best of all."
As Peleus looked on them he knew not to which of them
he should give it, for each in turn seemed fairest.
And he was wily withal, and knew he could not give it
to one without angering the other two against him. So
"O lady goddesses, who am I that I should judge
 between you? Choose you your own judge from among the
sons of men, and he shall give the apple to her he
deems the fairest."
Then they consulted together, and chose Paris, the son
of Priam, King of Troy; for he was the fairest of all
mortal men, and would know how to judge between them.
And they left the halls of Peleus with a smile upon
their lips, but in their hearts was envy and hatred
where there had once been sympathy and love; for the
apple of discord had fulfilled the purpose of her who
Now Paris was the second son of Priam and Hecuba, and
brother of Hector, the pride of Troy. The night before
he was born his mother dreamed a dreadful
dream—that she had given birth to a firebrand
which set all Troy aflame. In terror she sent for her
child Cassandra, the priestess of Apollo, whose word
came always true. And she told her dream, and asked
what it could mean. Then Apollo raised from
Cassandra's eyes the veil that hides the future, and
she told her mother the meaning of that dream.
"In mine ears," she cried, "there sounds the din of
battle and the clash of arms. I see round Troy the
foemen's tents, and their ships drawn up upon the
shore. I see Scamander's stream run red with blood.
Through the desolate streets slinks one whose manhood
has departed, and who shuns the eyes of his fellow-men,
for he prized a woman's arms above his country's
honour. That man is the son that thou shalt bear, and
he shall be the curse of Troy."
When Priam the king heard these words his heart was
filled with anger.
"No son of mine," he cried, "shall bring shame and
 destruction on my city. When the child is born he
shall be cast out upon the mountains to die ere his
eyes can see the light."
So, notwithstanding his mother's entreaties, as soon as
the child was born he was given to Agelaus the herdsman
to cast out upon the hills. And he took him up to
Gargarus, the topmost peak of Ida, and there he left
him to die of cold and hunger, or to be torn in pieces
by the beasts of prey.
But when the Fates have spoken, their word shall surely
come to pass, whatever man may do. And so it fell out
now. A she-bear, whose cubs the hunters had killed,
found the child, and for five days and five nights she
suckled him, and kept him safe and warm. On the sixth
day Agelaus passed that way once more, looking to find
the child dead, if any trace of him remained. But lo!
nestled in the moss and fallen leaves, the babe lay
sweetly sleeping. Then he marvelled greatly in his
"Surely," he thought, "this can be no common babe, and
it is the will of Heaven that he should live."
So he picked him up in his arms, and carried him home
to his wife, for long had they prayed the gods in vain
for children. And they brought him up as their own
son, and called his name Paris. As soon as he could
walk, he would go out with his foster-father on the
mountains, and keep watch over the flocks and the
herds, and he grew to be a tall and comely lad. For he
breathed the pure sweet air of heaven, and bathed in
Ida's rippling streams. Nor did he lack courage and
strength withal. If ever a mountain lion, made bold by
hunger, came down upon the flocks and carried off a
sheep or a goat, whilst the herdsmen fled in
 terror for their lives, he would come up and fight him
single-handed with his knife and his shepherd's staff,
and it was not the lion that came off best in that
fight. So famous did he become for his strength and
prowess that all about the countryside men called him
Alexander, defender of men.
Now it came to pass one summer's day that he had walked
for many a long mile across the treeless downs, and at
length he turned, hot and thirsty, into the shade of
the forest. Soon he came upon a mountain stream that
danced foaming over the stones, and he drank of its
waters gladly, and bathed in a clear brown pool; then,
tired out, he cast himself upon the bank and fell
When he awoke, the trunks of the pine-trees stood out
purple against the sunset, and the evening light cast
over all things a glamour of mystery. He rubbed his
eyes, thinking he must still be dreaming; for out of
the stream beside him there rose a wondrous form of a
maiden clad all in misty white. Her hair was like
fallen beech-leaves when the sun shines on them through
the trees, and her eyes were like the changing river
that reflects the light of heaven. She stood before
him motionless, and gazed down upon him where he lay.
OUT OF THE STREAM BESIDE HIM THERE ROSE A WONDROUS FORM OF A MAIDEN CLAD ALL IN MISTY WHITE.
"O most wonderful," he whispered, "who art thou?"
"I am none," she answered, and her voice was like
the music of the brook—"none, the daughter
of Cebren, the river god, whose stream runs dancing at
your feet from the side of wooded Ida. O fairest of
mortals, I am lonely in these mountain glades; let me
watch thy flocks with thee."
Then she came towards him with both her hands out-
out-  stretched stretched. And Paris took her cool white hands in his.
Fair as the crescent moon, she bent over him and raised
him from his knees, and they looked deep into each
other's eyes and loved, as the young and pure alone can
love. From that day forth they watched his flocks
together on the wooded slopes, and wandered hand in
hand through the forests and across the smooth green
lawns of Ida.
Meanwhile, since the day when Priam had given his child
to be exposed upon the mountains, many a circling year
had passed, and the day drew on which, if his son had
lived, he would have held great games and feasted in
honour of his reaching years of manhood. And Priam's
heart within him smote him when he thought of the
innocent babe, and he cast about in his mind how he yet
might do him honour.
"Perchance I acted hastily," he thought, "and by care
and good example my son might after all have been a
blessing to his city and to me. But the dead are dead,
and I cannot call him back to life. Yet will I honour
him as best I may, that in the world below they may
know he is a king's son and not utterly forgotten."
So he ordered great funeral games to be held in honour
of his son, who had died without a name upon the
mountains. Far and wide throughout the land the
tidings went, and the lists were made ready, and rich
prizes brought together for the victors. Among them
was to be a bull, the strongest and finest from all the
herds of Priam. The herdsman drove down their finest
cattle to the city for the king himself to chose, and
he chose a mighty beast which Agelaus had bred and
reared. Now it chanced that this bull was the
favourite of Paris out of all the
 cattle under his charge, and he loved him as some men
love a dog. When he heard that Agelaus had given him
to be a prize in the games, he waxed exceeding wrath.
"If he is to be any man's prize," he cried, "I shall be
But Agelaus laughed at him.
"Who art thou," he said, "a foundling and a shepherd's
foster-son, to enter in the lists against the sons of
"Sons of kings or sons of crows, I care not," he
answered. "My arms are as strong and my feet are as
swift as theirs any day. I shall enter for the lists."
The old man chuckled at his words, for he loved the
lad, and was proud of his strength and beauty.
"The gods be praised! he muttered. "The mountain air
has not dulled his spirit, nor dried up the royal blood
in his veins."
But none was sad when she heard of his resolve.
"Ah, Paris," she begged, "as thou lovest me, leave me
not to enter these games."
"But I will come back to thee, beloved. What
difference can it make?" he asked.
"In my heart pale fear is sitting," she replied. "I
know that if thou goest, it will be the beginning of
woes for thee, and for me, and for all thy native
"Nay, thou art over fearful. Thou shalt see, I will
come back with my bull, and thou and I will be happy
together, as we have always been."
"Paris," she said, "that I know will never be, if once
thou joinest in the games. I can see but dimly into
the future, but this much at least I know: that if thou
 war shall beat about the walls of Troy like a wave of
the sea, and from the midst of the battle I see thee
carried forth wounded unto death. Ah, Paris, leave the
bull for a weaker man, and go not down!"
"Nay, I cannot hearken to such foolishness. What war
can come if I go to Troy for the sake of a bull?"
"The cause of the war I know not, but come it surely
will. O Paris, in that day come back to me, and I will
heal thee of thy hurt! I know the use of herbs, for
many a strange charm has my father taught me, and if
any life is left in thee, I will call it back. But
best of all, stay with me now, and go not down to the
And, weeping, she threw her arms about his neck; but
nothing she could say would stop him.
So when the day came he went down into the city, and
entered for the lists with the flower of the land, and
all the folk marvelled who he might be. For he was
tall and exceeding fair, and they had never seen his
face before. When the turn came for his match, he set
his teeth and wrestled like a young lion, for the bull
that was the pride of his flock; and the strength of
his adversaries was turned to weakness. With joy in
his heart, he came forward to take his prize; and a
loud cheer rose to heaven, for the people were glad
that he had won. And the king's heart went out of him
as he gave the prize, for he was the age his son would
have been had he lived.
"Young man," he said, "who art thou, and who is thy
"I am Paris, the foster-son of Agelaus the herdsman,"
 "Is thine own sire dead, then?" asked Priam.
"O king, thou askest me riddles I cannot answer," said
Paris, "seeing I know not even who mine own sire may
"This is a strange matter," said the king, and in spite
of himself his heart beat fast within him.
Now Cassandra the prophetess, his daughter, was
standing by his side, and the time had come for her to
"O king," she said, "thou hast not far to seek for the
father of this lad."
"What meanest thou?" asked Priam.
"Put thy hands upon the lad's shoulders, and look into
his eyes, and thou shalt see the image of his father,"
Trembling between hope and fear, the old king bent
forward from his seat and put his hands upon the young
"Can it be—can it really be my own son?" he
"Thy son he is," replied Cassandra, "and no other
man's. The Fates decreed that he should live, and he
"My son, my son!" cried the king, and fell upon his
neck. "How I have longed for thee, and my soul has
been weighed down with the burden of thy death! Now in
mine old age the gods have given thee back to me, and
my heart is glad. For thou art brave and fair, my son,
and any father would be proud of thee, nor fear that
ever thou shouldst bring dishonour on the land."
Once again the old man fell upon the neck and kissed
him; and Hecuba, his mother, held him in her arms, and
 wept tears of joy over the child she had given up for
the dead. His brothers and his sisters crowded round,
and all the people; and some raised him on their
shoulders, and with songs and shouts of joy they took
him to the palace of Priam. There they clothed him in
rich raiment, as befitted a king's son, and held a
great feast in his honour; for every man was glad that
one so fair and noble had been spared to bring honour
to the land of Troy. Cassandra alone sat silent amidst
the revelry, for her heart was cut in two. When she
looked upon her brother's fair young face, she was glad
that he had lived; yet ever before her eyes there
floated the vision she had seen the night before he was
born—a vision of war, unmanliness and
death—and she knew that vision would come true.
When she thought of it she shuddered and almost wished
him dead, and in her heart she cursed that fatal gift
of prophesy which brought her nought but grief. Verily
in her case knowledge was not a thing of joy.
When the guests had departed, the old king took his son
"I have set a place apart for thee, my son," he said,
"and from this day forth thou must live with thy
kinsfolk in the palace."
"I will live with thee right gladly, my father," he
answered, "but my days I will spend upon the mountains
as of yore, and keep watch over thy flocks and herds.
For I love the beasts and the mountain air, and
methinks in a city I should pine for want of my old
The form of none rose up before his eyes; but
that he hid from his father.
"Thou mayest live as best pleases thee, my son,"
 said Priam, "and I will give thee many goodly flocks
and herds of cattle for thine own."
So it came to pass that, though Paris was a prince and
son of the King of Troy, there was small change in his
manner of life, save that now he lived in his father's
palace instead of the herdsman's hut. For in those
days it was thought no shame even for a prince to be a
shepherd, and keep watch over his own flocks and herds.
It was soon after this that the strife arose among the
goddesses about the apple that Eris had cast in their
midst at the marriage-feast of Peleus. And Zeus sent
down Iris, the swift-footed messenger of Heaven, to
tell Paris of the charge that was laid on him, and to
bear him the golden apple. Down the path of the
rainbow she sped, the road whereby she always went to
and fro betwixt gods and men. Her shining robes flew
out behind her, and the wings upon her feet and
shoulders glanced like lightning in the sky. At early
down, while the dew lay bright upon the ground, she
came and stood in the path as Paris was driving his
flocks to pasture. In one hand she held the staff that
Zeus had given her, to show she was the messenger of
Heaven, and in the other she held the golden apple.
"O fairest of mortals," she said, "I have been sent to
thee by Zeus, who rules on high. In heaven there is a
war between the three great goddesses as to which of
them shall have the prize of beauty, this apple thou
seest in my hand. And they have appointed thee to be
the judge between them. Hold thyself ready, then, for
this day at noon they will come to thee here on the
lonely heights of Ida."
 She spoke, and threw the apple at him, and he caught it
deftly, as a player catches a ball. And wind-footed
Iris sped back by the rainbow path as swift as she had
"This is passing strange," thought Paris, as he gazed
at the apple in his hand, and read the words inscribed
upon it—"For the Fairest." There it lay, smooth
and shining, a sure token that he had not been
dreaming. So he took it and showed it to none,
and told her what Iris, the messenger of the gods, had
said to him. When none heard it she was filled
"Cast it at their feet, Paris, when they come to thee,"
she begged, "and say thou canst not set thyself up to
be a judge of the Immortals."
"Nay, that would anger them against me," he said; for
in his heart he was proud to have been chosen out of
all the sons of men.
"I tell thee it will bring thee trouble if thou doest
it, and to me sorrow unspeakable," said she.
"Did the winning of the bull bring sorrow either to
thee or to me?" he asked scornfully.
none was silent under his rebuke, though she knew
her foreboding would come true. When the sun was
almost high in the heavens, she came to him softly
where he lay on the grass and kissed his hand.
"Zeus grant thee wisdom in thy judgment, Paris," she
said, and glided away swiftly through the trees, that
he might not see the tears in her eyes.
Then his heart smote him for his scornful words, and he
rose up hastily from the ground and called to her,
 But she answered him not, and when he looked for her
among the trees, he could find no trace of her. Now it
was close upon noon, and he hastened back to the glade,
where Iris had bidden him stay, and waited for the
coming of the goddesses. In the clear bright light of
noontide they came and stood before him in the shade of
the forest trees; and he fell on his knees before them,
filled with wonder and awe, and cast his eyes upon the
ground, for he was afraid to look upon such majesty and
beauty. Thereupon they drew near to him and bade him
not be afraid, but rise and give his judgment. So he
rose from his knees and looked upon them; and minute
after minute passed, while still he gazed, for he could
not make up his mind, so passing fair was each.
"Ah, lady goddesses," he said at last, "take the apple
and divide it into three, for I cannot say who is the
fairest among you."
"Nay, that may not be," they said; "thou must give it
to one, and one alone."
As he still hesitated, Hera spoke.
"Look well upon me, Paris," she said. "I am the Queen
of Heaven, and wife of Zeus almighty, and all power and
might is in my hands. I can give thee kingship and
sovereignty, and dominion over many peoples. See to it
that my might is for thee, and not against."
As she spoke his heart turned cold with fear, and from
terror he would have given her the apple. But as he
was about to stretch forth his hand, Pallas Athene
"O Paris, what is power without wisdom? Purple and
gold, and to sit where others kneel—all these
things make not a king. But to walk by the light of
 where others grope in darkness—this can make a
slave a ruler of kings. This can I give thee."
Then the voice of reason within him prompted him to
give the apple to her; but once again he was withheld,
as Aphrodite spoke.
"Power and wisdom, Paris? What are these but empty
words at which men vainly grasp? I can give thee that
which all men covet—the fairest of women for
The music of her voice made the blood rush like fire
through his veins, and his heart was melted within him.
"O Aphrodite," he cried, and fell at her feet, "thou
art fairest. Beside love, what is power, what is
wisdom? I give thee the apple, O thou fairest among
As she stretched forth her hand towards him to take the
apple, a mist fell over his eyes, and he knew no more.
When he awoke the apple and the goddesses had vanished
away, and none was bending over him weeping.
"Alas," she said, "my father, whose stream runs at thy
feet, has told me thy choice, Paris, and I am come to
bid thee farewell."
"Farewell, none? Why farewell?" he cried, and
stretched out his arms to her. The flame of Aphrodite
still burned in his heart, and to his eyes none
had never looked more fair than now.
"Because of Aphrodite's promise," she answered.
"Ah, none!" he cried, and took her in his arms,
"now I know what that promise meant. Thou art the
fairest of women, and thou art mine, beloved, and
Aphrodite's promise was fulfilled ere she made it."
"Nay, nay, that is not what she meant. I may be
 fair, Paris, yet I am no woman, but a child of the
mountain waters. One day thou wilt forget me, and thy
heart will turn to thine own kind. In that day
Aphrodite has promised that the fairest of women shall
be thine, and she shall surely keep her word."
"Thou art woman enough for me," he said, "and I shall
never want any other than thee." He kissed her, and
comforted her as best he could. The hours fled like
minutes, the moon rose high in heaven, and one by one
the stars came out, yet still they sat and talked of
love, and of how they would be faithful to each other
always. In like manner day after day passed by, and no
two lovers in all the land were happier than Paris and
Now it chanced that about this time Menelaus, King of
Sparta, came to Troy, at the command of the oracle at
Delphi. For a year past his land had been laid waste
by a grievous famine, and when he inquired the cause of
it, the oracle bade him to go to Troy and offer
sacrifices at the tomb of Lycus and Chimæreus, the
sons of Prometheus, for until their spirits were
appeased the land of Sparta would be barren, and her
sons would die of hunger in her streets. So Menelaus
set sail for Troy, and Priam and all his house received
him with joy. They held great feasts in his honour,
and treated him hospitably, as befitted the king of a
mighty people. When he had performed his task, and the
time had come for him to return, he said to Priam,
"My friend, thou hast treated me right royally, and I
in my turn would fain to do thee some service. Say,
wilt thou not sail with me to Sparta, and see my
 shineth as the sun for splendour, and Helen, my wife,
who is the fairest in a land where women are fairer
than all other women?"
But Priam shook his head.
"I am an old man, Menelaus, and my travelling days are
done. But if thou wouldst truly do me a service, thou
wilt take with thee my son Paris as thy guest. He is
of an age now to travel and see strange lands, and I
could not entrust him to better hands than thine. Say,
wilt thou take him or no?"
"I will take him right gladly," answered Menelaus,
"seeing that since I cannot have thyself, no other man
would please me so well as thy son. Bid the young man
be ready, and he shall sail with me and my folk."
When Paris heard the news, he was glad; for never in
his life had he set foot outside the land of Troy, and
he longed to see the riches of Menelaus and all the
wonders of his palace in Sparta. Ere the sun had risen
he was in the woods of Ida telling none of the
voyage he must take.
"Nay, grieve not, beloved," he said, as she turned her
face sadly away; "for a few short months I must leave
thee, but I will come back to thee with many a long
tale of the wonders I have seen. There is nought like
travel to make a man hold up his head among his
fellows, and the seeing of strange things that others
have not seen."
"There is nought like travel," she said, "to make a man
forget his home, and love the new things better than
"Dost thou think me so faithless, none?"
"Many men are faithful till they meet temptation," she
 "Had I listened to thee, I should still have been a
shepherd on the mountains, knowing neither kith nor
"It would have been happier so," said she.
"none, I must not heed thy fears. Remember, I am
a king's son, and I must live my life as befits a man,
and not be ever held back by a woman's arms."
"The gods grant thou mayest always think so, Paris.
Fare thee well, then; I will stay thee no longer, but I
will watch for thy coming as never woman watched
before. If evil fortune befall thee, Paris, come back
to me, and I will save thee."
So, with many a promise not to forget her, but to come
back to her as soon as might be, he left her and set
sail with Menelaus.
And they crossed the blue Ægæan and came to
glorious Sparta, lying low among the circling hills.
And Menelaus made his guest welcome, and showed him all
the splendours of his palace, with its inlaid columns
and its frieze of gold and blue. His stable and horses
did he show him, and the stadium where the races were
run and his treasure-house beneath the ground. Last of
all he took him to Helen, his wife.
Now Helen, fairer than the sun in heaven, was sitting
among her maidens, and when her lord and Paris entered,
she rose from her chair and came forward with a smile
to greet them. In the curve of her neck, in the gleam
of her hair, there was magic, and a witchery about her
face and form that no man could withstand; for she was
the fairest of all women under the sun, that ever had
been or ever should be in time to come. Many a man in
 day loved Helen of Sparta, and many a man did she love
in return; for so the gods had made her, exceeding fair
and exceeding fickle, a joy and a curse among men.
As Paris looked upon her, her beauty reached his heart
like the fumes of wine, and he forgot himself and his
native land and none; he forgot all pride and
manliness, and the ties of honour that bound him to his
host—all but his passion for Helen. Day and
night he thought of her and of her alone, and of how he
might make her his own; and day and night he plotted
and planned, and at last he gained his end. For
Aphrodite, true to her word, helped him, as she alone
could do, and kindled in the heart of Helen an
answering flame, making her for the time being love
Paris more than Menelaus, her lord, or any other man.
And she cast dust in the eyes of Menelaus, so that he
saw not how the two lived only for each other, nor
suspected his guest of any treachery. So one dark
night they fled away together to Gythium, and from
thence they sailed to Cranaë, and were wedded, and
had joy of their love, forgetful of all else.
none, meanwhile, wandered lonely about the woods
and groves of Ida. With a heavy heart she had watched
the ships of Menelaus sail away, and now, day by day,
she would go down to the shore and look out across the
sea towards Hellas. High up on a rock she would sit
and sigh for him.
"Ah, Paris, between thee and me lies many a weary
league of barren waters and many a misty mountain
chain. But my heart is with thee in that strange new
land. Oh, Paris, forget me not, but come back to me
Thus would she sigh day by day; but he came not.
 Month after month passed by, but still he came not, nor
any news of him, and his father and all the city were
troubled to know what might have befallen him. So they
manned a ship, and sent it out to Sparta to get news,
and in time it returned home to tell how Paris and
Helen had fled from Menelaus, and how Menelaus had set
out in pursuit, and had followed them to the land of
Egypt. After that no man knew where they had gone, or
whether, perchance, Paris and Menelaus had met in
deadly battle and fallen each by the other's hand, or
what might have chanced. All the land was plunged in
woe to think that Paris had so forgotten his honour as
to steal away the wife of his host. But still they
kept watch by day and by night, in case he should come
back and be persuaded to give her up and make what
amends he could.
Paris, meanwhile, with Helen, had fled before Menelaus
from Egypt, and had taken refuge in Phnicia; and
when he traced them there, they fled once more and took
ship to return to Troy; for they could not live for
ever as wanderers on the face of the earth. With the
silence of shame the folk received them at the harbour,
and amid silence, that spoke more than words, they made
their way through the city and came and stood before
Priam in his halls, with eyes downcast upon the ground.
Now Priam had heard of their coming, and had prepared
in his mind a wrathful speech wherewith to greet his
son and the woman who had led him astray. But when he
looked upon Helen his wrath melted away like frost
before the sun; for she looked like a fair lily that
some careless hand has half plucked from its stem, so
that its head hangs drooping towards the dust. Even so
did she stand, with
 the tear-drops falling from her eyes. And all the
wrathful words faded from his mind, so that he spoke
quite otherwise than he had planned.
"My children," he said gently, "come hither to me."
"They came and knelt before him, and he laid his hands
upon their young shoulders, as they bowed their heads
and wept upon his knees.
"Ye have grievously sinned, my children," he said, "and
ye are learning, all too late, how bitter is the fruit
of sin. There is but one course before you. Paris,
give back the woman thou hast stolen, and make what
honourable amends thou canst. And thou, Helen, go home
with thy lord when he comes for thee, and be a faithful
wife to him always, and make him forget that ever thou
didst play him false."
"O King," she said, "thou knowest not what thou askest.
If thou givest me up to Menelaus he will slay me, or
else my life will be a dog's life in his halls; for his
heart is no softer than a flint, though his tongue be
smooth. O my father, cast me not out from thy halls.
If I have sinned in leaving Menelaus, shall I not sin
again in leaving Paris? Or shall my sin be less if I
flee from the man I love, to go with him I love not?
Who maketh two hearts to cleave together? Who put
Aphrodite all-powerful? Must we set at nought the will
of Heaven for the sake of laws that man has made? O
Priam, my father, forsake me not, but keep me in thy
And she clasped her hands about his knees and looked up
into his face. Beneath her gaze all his resolve gave
way, and he took her face between his hands and kissed
 "My Daughter," he said, "thou shalt stay with me as
long as it shall please thee."
Thus did it come to pass that she made her home in
Troy, and Priam, the king, became an accomplice in her
sin; for the gods had so made her that the hearts of
men were as wax between the fingers of Helen of Sparta.
In time came Menelaus, and stood in the halls of Priam,
and demanded back his wife. And they offered him a
ransom—gold and precious stones—but he
flung it back in their faces.
"Think you that gold can pay for a living soul?" he
cried? "Only a life can pay for a life, and many a
life shall you pay for the sake of Helen. Look to your
battlements and towers, O Priam; they must be strong
indeed to stand against the host that I shall bring
behind me from Hellas. Farewell, till we meet again in
And he strode from the hall in anger, and sailed away
to Sparta, to rouse up all the heroes of Hellas to take
part in his quarrel with Troy.
Meanwhile in Troyland the forge fires burnt night and
day, and the hammer rang loud upon the anvil. The
red-hot iron was drawn from the furnace and bound
hissing about the chariot-wheel; shields were stretched
and swords were fashioned, and the ash-tree was felled
upon the mountain for the handle of the tapering spear.
Among the men many a heart beat high with hope; for
what is there like war, if a man is brave and strong,
to bring him renown, and make his name live among his
fellows? But in the women's hall many a silent tear
was shed; for what is there like war to bring sorrow to
a woman's heart, when she sees her dear ones going
 to battle and knows not whether she shall ever look on
their faces again, or, perchance, see them carried home
with a gaping spear-wound in the side? And when the
battle is raging she can do nought but pray. So they
cursed Helen and her beauty in their hearts, and wished
that even now King Priam would send her back and stave
off the war from Troy.
But Paris and Helen cared for none of these things;
while others worked and wept, they dallied in each
other's arms and forgot all else, or hoped that when
Menelaus reached home his anger would cool, and that he
would find the kings of Hellas none too willing to
leave their lands for the sake of another's wife. But
in this they hoped in vain, and reckoned not how dear a
man may hold his country's honour. For one dark night
the hosts of Hellas pulled in to shore, and drew up
their boats upon the beach and pitched their camp, and
when the morning dawned their men were thick as flies
about the walls of Troy.
So did it come to pass that Cassandra's words came
true, and for many a weary year the tide of war surged
about the city like a wave of the sea, and Paris slunk
through the streets like a beaten cur, not daring to
look his fellows in the face. For they hated him
because he had brought war upon his country, and yet,
though the quarrel was of his own making, he was ever
the last to take the field and ever the first to
retreat. So low had his manhood sunk that he thought
far more of reaching Helen with an unbroken skin than
of winning fame upon the field of battle.
But one day matters reached a pass when Menelaus met
him face to face upon the field, and challenged him to
 single combat beneath the walls of Troy. He who should
kill his man should have Helen for wife, and the war
should end, and no more lives be spent in vain for the
sake of a quarrel that concerned but two. But Paris
thought of Helen waiting in her chamber, and looked
upon Menelaus, standing sword in hand before him,
strong as a lion in his wrath. Then his heart gave way
within him, and he turned and fled from the face of his
foe back into the ranks of the Trojans. He would have
fled from the fight altogether, but that in the path of
his retreat stood Hector; the nodding plumes waved
terrible upon his helmet and he leant on his two-handed
sword and frowned upon his brother, for he had seen how
he fled from Menelaus. When Paris saw him he fell back
ashamed, but Hector stood aside to let him pass.
"Thou chicken-hearted mannikin," he cried, "get thee
gone, and let others fight thy battle, that the courage
of the Trojans be not a by-word among the nations."
And Paris slunk past him with his eyes upon the ground
and went home to Helen in her chamber.
But when the fight was over Hector came and dragged him
from his hiding-place as a dog drags out a rat into the
"Thou smooth-faced deceiver," he said, "is this the way
a man should fight when he has sailed across the high
seas, and stolen away the fairest of women from a man
mighty in battle? Are we to make the name of Troy a
laughing-stock among our foes, and hang our heads in
shame when men shall say, 'In strength and might they
are like the immortal gods, these Trojans, but their
courage is the courage of deer, that flees swiftly
through the forest
 when he hears the bark of the hounds?' Thou coward,
would thou hadst never been born, or hadst died upon
the mountains ere there was time to bring dishonour on
And Paris trembled before his brother's wrath, but some
of his old manhood returned to him.
"Thou speakest as all men speak who know not
Aphrodite's power," he said. "Nevertheless, if thou
wilt have it so, send forth a herald to Menelaus, and
tell him I accept his challenge, and will fight him for
the sake of Helen, his wife. And let the hosts of the
Achæans and the hosts of Troy lay down their arms,
and we two will stand up alone between them, and
whichsoever of us shall fall in death, his side shall
give up Helen to the victor; and the war shall cease,
and peace be made between the nations."
So Hector sent forth a herald to Menelaus, and the two
hosts drew close together on the plain till there was
but a narrow space between them, and they lay aside
their arms, and some lay upon the ground or sat, and
others stood behind to watch the fight in the midst.
And Paris put on his shining armour and his helmet with
the nodding plumes, and went and stood face to face
with Menelaus. In the sight of all the people Hector
"O Zeus, who rulest from on high, grant that he who is
the offender may fall in the fight, and his spirit flee
away to Hades, that the land may have peace and the
people rest from war."
And every man in his heart prayed likewise, for all
were sickened at the long years of fruitless strife.
Then Hector shook the lots in his helmet, to see who
should be the first to hurl his brazen spear, and the
 Paris fell forth upon the ground. And he brandished
his spear above his head, and hurled it with all his
might, and it crashed against the shield of Menelaus;
but the stout shield turned it aside, and it fell
powerless upon the ground. Thereupon Menelaus in his
turn hurled his spear, and it pierced through the
shield of his foe, and would have brought black death
to his heart had he not swerved aside, so that the
point but grazed his corselet. But Menelaus, seeing
his advantage, drew forth his sword and rushed upon
him, and felled him a mighty blow upon his helmet,
hoping to cleave it in two. But the sword shivered to
pieces in his hand as he struck. Then, with an oath,
he cast aside the hilt and leapt upon Paris, and seized
him by the horsehair plume upon his helmet, and dragged
him down. And the leathern thong that held the helmet
was drawn tight about his throat, so that the breath
was wellnigh squeezed out of him, and Menelaus was
bearing him in triumph towards the Achæan host.
But Aphrodite was mindful of her favourite, and, ere it
was too late, she made the stout ox-hide give way
beneath the weight of his body, and the helmet slipped
off his head. Then she wrapped a mist about his body,
so that no man should see him, and bore him away
through the midst of the Trojan host, and laid him upon
his bed. In the likeness of an aged dame she went and
stood beside Helen on the battlements, where she leant
with the other Trojan women looking down upon the
plain, and she told her how she had borne forth Paris
from the fight and saved him, and that now he lay upon
his bed and longed for her. So straightway Helen left
the others, and went and sat down by Paris. When she
saw him lying there,
 without so much as a scratch upon his body, she was
ashamed for him, and began to upbraid him.
MENELAUS WAS BEARING HIM IN TRIUMPH TOWARDS THE ACHæAN HOST.
"So thou hast come back from the battle, Paris, and
couldst not endure to stand up to god-like Menelaus.
Would that he had taken thee, for he is a better man
than thou art! Go forth now, thou craven, and
challenge him once more to battle, and stay thy ground
like a man. Lo! thou art vanished away like smoke from
the field, and both the hosts are making mock of thee."
Then her heart smote her for fear he should take her at
her word and go back, and she fell upon her knees
beside him, and took his hand in hers and wept.
"Ah, Paris," she cried, "go not forth, I pray thee, but
stay with me. I, even I, do bid thee stay, lest thou
fall by the hand of Menelaus, and I be left all
desolate without thee."
"Ah, Helen," he said, "upbraid me not, for I love thee
above all else. Some other day I will return and fight
with Menelaus, but now I will stay with thee, and we
will have joy of each other and forget all else."
So whilst Menelaus searched raging through all the
host, like a lion seeking for his prey, Paris and Helen
dallied in each other's arms, hidden from the eyes of
men. An ill reckoning would it have been for Paris had
the men of Troy known where to find him, for they hated
him like black death, and would have given him up to
the hands of Menelaus, to do by him as he would.
From that day forth Paris scarce dared to show his face
among his fellows; but when Hector urged him, and he
could stand out against his taunts no longer, he would
go forth into battle, but disguised as a common
 with no mark upon him of his rank and birth. So did he
hope to escape death and flee home as swift as might be
to the arms of Helen. In this he succeeded full well
for a time, but a day came when no disguise could save
him and he could not flee away. For in the ranks
against him stood mighty Philoctetes, with his bow and
his poisoned arrows. And he drew his bow and prayed to
Zeus in his heart,
"O Zeus almighty, that drivest the black thundercloud
before thee, do thou guide mine arrow aright, that it
may work havoc among our foes and bring glory to the
host of the Achæans. In thy hands I leave it."
Then he drew back the string, so that the mighty bow
was wellnigh bent in two, and the arrow sped with a
whirr far over the foremost ranks of the Trojans to the
rear part of the host. And it fell upon Paris, and
pierced between the joints of his armour right through
into his side. With a groan he fell, and black night
came over his eyes, and he lay as one dead upon the
field. When the fight was over, and either side was
gathering up the dead and wounded from the plain, they
came upon Paris among the rest; but till they had drawn
off his helmet they knew him not, for he was dressed as
a common soldier. When they saw who it was, they put
him reverently on a bier apart, for he was a king's
son, and had been a brave man once, and death can wipe
out many an old score of bitterness and hatred. So
they bore him upon their shoulders silently to the
palace of Priam his father, and laid him upon his
couch. And they brought him wine and cordials, for his
heart beat faintly still within his breast. For a
moment he revived, and spoke in broken whispers.
 "My friends, I am dying," he said, "and I would die in
the pure free air of heaven, away from cities and from
men and from shame. O my father, bid them carry me
forth upon Ida, and there let them leave me, and return
no more till they know the last breath must have gone
from my body. Then let them burn me there, where once
I was brave and free; and as the fire of my burning
shall die out, let my name die out from among
you—my name and my dishonour."
So did he speak, and fell back exhausted, with the
vision before his eyes of the groves of Ida and of
none, and how she rose from the waters and loved
him in the days of his innocent youth. And he
remembered her words:
"O Paris, in that day come back to me, and I will heal
thee of thy hurt."
And he wondered whether she would keep her word and
forgive him and heal him, so that they could go back to
their old life upon the mountains. But even if she
would not, he felt that he would rather die there than
in the airless city.
So they wrapped him about in warm coverings—for
it was winter-time, and the snow lay white upon the
ground—and carried him forth upon Ida. And they
placed a blazing torch above his head and left him on
the lonely heights, and the whispering pine-trees kept
watch above him as they tossed their arms in the cold
From the shadow of a boulder none watched the
procession wind back down the mountain-track, and when
they had passed out of sight she came forth from
 her hiding-place. The tale of Paris and Helen she knew
full well, and the reason for the war, for she had
listened to the talk of the shepherds on the mountains.
But still in her heart she loved Paris; and when she
saw him carried forth to die, she remembered how she
had promised to heal him of his hurt, for she knew many
a magic charm, and she could heal him if she would. So
now she drew near to him out of the forest, and bent
over his couch, and her red-gold hair fell soft about
his face. But the fire of fever burnt hot within him,
and he knew her not; but the face that came before his
wandering mind was the face of Helen.
"Helen!" he whispered, "Helen!"
At the sound of that hated name a great bitterness came
into the heart of none.
"Must I heal thee for the sake of Helen?" she cried,
and turned and fled through the darkened pines, on, on,
she knew not where, and threw herself at last upon the
grass and wept.
And so the torch burned low above his head and cast a
dim red glow upon the snow, and he died alone of his
fever upon the mountains, and she healed him not of his
The next morning came the young men from the city, and
the sons of Priam, and the old king himself, to the
place where Paris lay; for they knew full well that he
could not have lived out that night upon the mountains.
And they gathered together the pine-trunks which the
woodmen had left felled upon the ground, and heaped up
a great pyre, high upon the hills, so that the burning
of Paris might shine like a beacon fire in the sight of
 and of the Achæan host. When the pyre was built
they placed the body on it, and poured out wine and oil
upon the wood, and the old king stood and lifted up his
hands above his son.
"O father Zeus," he prayed, "who rulest upon Ida,
before thee do I burn the body of my son, and before my
friends and before my foes, that they both may see it.
May the wine which I pour forth upon his body be a
libation of peace, that by his death he may join
together in friendship those hands which by his sin he
made draw the sword upon each other. O Zeus almighty,
grant my prayer!"
The people bowed their heads as they heard, and the old
man poured forth the last libation. The salt tears ran
from his eyes and fell upon the body of his son, and
washed away from his mind all memory of his sin and
cowardice, and only the image of him remained as he had
been when he came in his youth and beauty for the
winning of the bull. So can the hand of death wipe out
all ugliness and wrong.
When the last libation had been poured, they set the
pyre alight, and in time it burned up bravely, for the
oil and the wine, and the breath of the north wind
blowing bleak across the mountain, made the flame burn
bright and clear; and the pyre of Paris shone like a
flaming star against the dull grey sky and over the
hills and plain lying silent beneath their pall of
snow. Far away across the valley none saw the
light, and knew that the body of him she loved, and
might have saved, lay perishing within the flames. All
too late, the bitterness in her heart died out, and
only the love remained, and she
 would have given all she knew to have healed Paris of
his hurt. With a wild cry she rushed, on the wings of
the storm-wind, down the valley and up the hillside,
and her white robes flew out behind her and the long
locks of her red-gold hair. Through the ranks of the
mourners she rushed and over the melting snow, through
the flames of the pyre, and cast herself upon the body
of Paris and put her arms around his neck. There, on
his last resting-place, she lay with him, and the
stifling smoke closed about her, and her spirit fled
away there, where his had gone before. The people
heard the cry, and saw her as she flew through their
midst; but they thought it was the shriek of the north
wind rushing over the hills, and to their eyes her
white robes and her flowing hair seemed but the
snowdrift, and last year's dead leaves whirled madly on
the wings of the storm. And so they knew nought of the
love of Paris and none, or of how she watched his
flocks with him when he was brave and free, or of how
she forgave him, all too late, and died with him in the
pyre which burned for a beacon of peace upon the
CAST HERSELF UPON THE BODY OF PARIS AND PUT HER ARMS AROUND HIS NECK.
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