|The Odyssey for Boys and Girls|
|by Alfred J. Church|
|Lively retelling of Homer's Odyssey, telling of the wanderings of Ulysses and his adventures with the giant Cyclops and the enchantress Circe as he makes his way home to his beloved Ithaca. There, after slaying the suitors who have been wooing his wife Penelope, he is reunited with his family after twenty long years. Ages 8-12 |
 THE nurse went to the queen's bed-room with the good news.
She ran with all the speed that she could, even
stumbling in her haste. She found the queen asleep,
for she had been awake for a long time, and was weary.
And now the nurse stood by her head, and said: "Awake,
dear child, and see what you have longed to see for so
many years. Ulysses has come back, and has slain the
wicked men who troubled you."
But Penelopé answered: "Surely, dear nurse, the gods
have taken away your senses. Why do you mock me,
waking me out of the sweetest sleep that I have ever
had since the day when Ulysses sailed away to Troy? Go
to the other women, and leave me. If one of them had
done this to me, I would have punished her, but you I
The nurse answered: "I do not mock
 you, dear
child. It is indeed true that Ulysses is here. The
stranger with whom you talked is he. Your son knew it,
but hid the matter that the Suitors should be taken
Then Penelopé was glad, and fell upon the old woman's
neck, saying: "Tell me now the truth. Has he indeed
come back? And how did he, being but one, contrive to
slay so many?"
"That," said the nurse, "I do not know. We women sat
together amazed, hearing the groaning of men that were
being slain. Then some one fetched us, and I found
Ulysses standing among the dead, and these lay piled
one on the other. Truly you would have rejoiced to see
him, so like was he to a lion, stained as he was with
blood and the labour of the fight. And now the women
here are washing the hall, and cleansing it with
sulphur. But come; now is the end of all your grief,
for the husband whom you so longed to see has come
But Penelopé began again to doubt. "Dear nurse," she
said, "be not too sure. Great, indeed, would be my joy
if I could see him. But this cannot be he; it is some
 has taken the shape of a man that he may
punish the Suitors for the wrong that they have done."
Then said the nurse: "What is this that you say? That
your husband cannot have come back, when he is already
in the house? Truly you are slow to believe. Now hear
this proof, a thing that I saw with my own eyes. It is
the scar of the wound that a wild boar gave him, when
he was yet a lad. I saw it when I washed his feet, and
I would have told it to you, but he put his hand on my
mouth and would not suffer me to speak, for so he
thought it best."
Penelopé said: "I am in great doubt. Nevertheless, I
will go into the hall and see the dead Suitors, and the
man, whoever he be, that has slain them."
So she dressed herself and went down, and sat in a dark
part of the hall, while Ulysses stood by the pillar,
waiting till his wife should speak to him. But she was
in great doubt. Sometimes she seemed to know him, and
sometimes not, for he was still in his rags, not having
suffered the women to give him new clothes.
 Telemăchus said: "Mother, you are indeed an evil
mother, for you sit away from my father, and will not
speak to him. Surely your heart must be harder than a
Ulysses answered: "Let be, Telemăchus; your mother
will know the truth in good time. But now let us hide
this slaughter for a while, lest the friends of these
dead men come against us. Let there be music and
dancing in the hall. Men will say, 'This is for the
wedding of the queen.' "
So the minstrel played and the women danced. Then
Ulysses went to the bath, and washed himself, and put
on new clothes, and came back to the hall; also Athené
made him fairer and younger, such as he was when he
left his home to go to Troy. And he stood by his wife,
and said: "Surely, O lady, the gods have made you
harder of heart than all other women. Would any other
wife have kept away from her husband, when he came back
after twenty years?"
But Penelopé still doubted. Then Ulysses said: "Hear
now, Penelopé, and know that it is indeed your husband
whom you see. I will tell you a thing that you will
 There was an olive there in the inner
court of this house, which had a trunk of about the
bigness of a pillar. Round this I built a room, and I
roofed it over, and put doors upon it. Then I lopped
all the boughs of the olive, and made the tree into a
bedpost. And I joined the bedstead on to this post,
and adorned it with gold, and silver, and ivory. Also
I fastened it together with a band of leather which had
been dyed with purple: whether the bedstead is still
in its place, or whether some one has moved it—but it
was not an easy thing to move—I do not know, but this
was as it used to be in old time."
THE MEETING OF ULYSSES AND PENELOPE
Then Penelopé knew that he was indeed her husband; and
she ran to him, and kissed him, saying: "Pardon me, my
lord, that I was so slow to know you; I was afraid, for
men have many ways of deceiving, lest some one should
come, saying falsely that he was my husband. But now I
know that in truth you are he and not another."
So they wept over each other, and kissed each other.
Thus did Ulysses come home at last after twenty years.
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