HOW ODYSSEUS MET WITH NAUSICAA
 IN the land of the Phaeacians there dwelt no
more beautiful, nor any sweeter maiden, than
the king's own daughter. Nausicaa was her
name, and she was so kind and gentle that
every one loved her.
To the land of the Phaeacians the North
Wind had driven Odysseus, and while he lay
asleep in his bed of leaves under the olive-trees,
the goddess Athene went to the room in
the palace where Nausicaa slept, and spoke to
her in her dreams.
'Some day thou wilt marry, Nausicaa,' she
said, land it is time for thee to wash all the
fair raiment that is one day to be thine.
Tomorrow thou must ask the king, thy father,
for mules and for a wagon, and drive from
the city to a place where all the rich clothing
may be washed and dried.'
 When morning came Nausicaa remembered
her dream, and went to tell her father.
Her mother was sitting spinning yarn of
sea-purple stain, and her father was just going
to a council meeting.
'Father, dear,' said the princess, 'couldst
thou lend me a high wagon with strong
wheels, that I may take all my fair linen to
the river to wash. All yours, too, I shall take,
so that thou shalt go to the council in linen
that is snowy clean, and I know that my five
brothers will also be glad if I wash their fine
clothing for them.'
This she said, for she felt too shy to tell her
father what Athene had said about her getting
But the king knew well why she asked. 'I
do not grudge thee mules, nor anything else,
my child,' he said. 'Go, bid the servants
prepare a wagon.'
The servants quickly got ready the finest
wagon that the king had, and harnessed the
best of the mules. And Nausicaa's mother
filled a basket with all the dainties that she
knew her daughter liked best, so that Nausicaa
 and her maidens might feast together. The
fine clothes were piled into the wagon, the
basket of food was placed carefully beside
them, and Nausicaa climbed in, took the whip
and shining reins, and touched the mules.
Then with clatter of hoofs they started.
When they were come to the beautiful, clear
river, amongst whose reeds Odysseus had knelt
the day before, they unharnessed the mules
and drove them along the banks of the river to
graze where the clover grew rich and fragrant.
Then they washed the clothes, working hard
and well, and spread them out to dry on the
clean pebbles down by the seashore.
Then they bathed, and when they had bathed
they took their midday meal by the bank of
the rippling river.
When they had finished, the sun had not
yet dried the clothes, so Nausicaa and her
maidens began to play ball. As they played
they sang a song that the girls of that land
would always sing as they threw the ball to
one another. All the maidens were fair, but
Nausicaa of the white arms was the fairest
 From hand to hand they threw the ball,
growing always the merrier, until, when it was
nearly time for them to gather the clothes
together and go home, Nausicaa threw it very
hard to one of the others. The girl missed
the catch. The ball flew into the river, and, as
it was swept away to the sea, the princess and
all her maidens screamed aloud.
Their cries awoke Odysseus, as he lay asleep
in his bed of leaves.
'I must be near the houses of men,' he said;
'those are the cries of girls at play.'
With that he crept out from the shelter of
He had no clothes, for he had thrown them
all into the sea before he began his terrible
swim for life. But he broke off some leafy
branches and held them round him, and walked
down to where Nausicaa and her maidens
Like a wild man of the woods he looked, and
when they saw him coming the girls shrieked
and ran away. Some of them hid behind the
rocks on the shore, and some ran out to the
spits of yellow sand that jutted into the sea.
 But although his face was marred with the
sea-foam that had crusted on it, and he looked
a terrible, fierce, great creature, Nausicaa was
too brave to run away.
Shaking she stood there, and watched him
as he came forward, and stood still a little way
Then Odysseus spoke to her, gently and
kindly, that he might take away her fear.
He told her of his shipwreck, and begged her
to show him the way to the town, and give him
some old garment, or any old wrap in which
she had brought the linen, so that he might
have something besides leaves with which to
I have never seen any maiden half so beautiful
as thou art,' he said. 'Have pity on me,
and may the gods grant thee all thy heart's
Then said Nausicaa: 'Thou seemest no evil
man, stranger, and I will gladly give thee
clothing and show thee the way to the town.
This is the land of the Phaeacians, and my
father is the king.'
To her maidens then she called—
 'Why do ye run away at the sight of a man?
Dost thou take him for an enemy? He is only
a poor shipwrecked man. Come, give him food
and drink, and fetch him clothing.'
The maidens came back from their hiding-places,
and fetched some of the garments of
Nausicaa's brothers which they had brought to
wash, and laid them beside Odysseus.
Odysseus gratefully took the clothes away,
and went off to the river. There he plunged
into the clear water, and washed the salt crust
from off his face and limbs and body, and the
crusted foam from his hair. Then he put on
the beautiful garments that belonged to one
of the princes, and walked down to the shore
where Nausicaa and her maidens were waiting.
So tall and handsome and strong did Odysseus
look, with his hair curling like hyacinth
flowers around his head, that Nausicaa said to
her maidens: 'This man, who seemed to us so
dreadful so short a time ago, now looks like a
god. I would that my husband, if ever I have
one, should be as he.'
Then she and her maidens brought him food
 and wine, and he ate hungrily, for it was many
days since he had eaten.
When he had finished, they packed the linen
into the wagon, and yoked the mules, and
Nausicaa climbed into her place.
'So long as we are passing through the
fields,' she said to Odysseus, 'follow behind
with my maidens, and I will lead the way. But
when we come near the town with its high
walls and towers, and harbours full of ships,
the rough sailors will stare and say, "Hath
Nausicaa gone to find herself a husband
because she scorns the men of Phaeacia who
would wed her? Hath she picked up a ship-wrecked
stranger, or is this one of the gods
who has come to make her his wife?" Therefore
come not with us, I pray thee, for the
sailors to jest at. There is a fair poplar grove
near the city, with a meadow lying round it.
Sit there until thou thinkest that we have had
time to reach the palace. Then seek the palace—any
child can show thee the way—and when
thou art come to the outer court pass quickly
into the room where my mother sits. Thou wilt
find her weaving yarn of sea-purple stain by the
 light of the fire. She will be leaning her head
back against a pillar, and her maidens will be
standing round her. My father's throne is
close to hers, but pass him by, and cast thyself
at my mother's knees. If she feels kindly
towards thee and is sorry for thee, then my
father is sure to help thee to get safely back to
thine own land.'
Then Nausicaa smote her mules with the
whip, and they trotted quickly off, and soon
left behind them the silver river with its
whispering reeds, and the beach with its yellow
Odysseus and the maidens followed the
wagon, and just as the sun was setting they
reached the poplar grove in the meadow.
There Odysseus stayed until Nausicaa should
have had time to reach the palace. When she
got there, she stopped at the gateway, and her
brothers came out and lifted down the linen,
and unharnessed the mules. Nausicaa went
up to her room, and her old nurse kindled a fire
for her and got ready her supper.
When Odysseus thought it was time to
follow, he went to the city. He marvelled at
 the great walls and at the many gallant ships
in the harbours. But when he reached the
king's palace, he wondered still more. Its
walls were of brass, so that from without, when
the doors stood open, it looked as if the sun or
moon were shining within. A frieze of blue
ran round the walls. All the doors were made
of gold, the doorposts were of silver, the
thresholds of brass, and the hook of the door was
of gold. In the halls were golden figures of
animals, and of men who held in their hands
lighted torches. Outside the courtyard was a
great garden filled with blossoming pear-trees
and pomegranates, and apple-trees with shining
fruit, and figs, and olives. All the year round
there was fruit in that garden. There were
grapes in blossom, and grapes purple and ready
to eat, and there were great masses of snowy
pear-blossom, and pink apple-blossom, and
golden ripe pears, and rosy apples.
At all of those wonders Odysseus stood and
gazed, but it was not for long; for he hastened
through the halls to where the queen sat in
the firelight, spinning her purple yarn. He
fell at her knees, and silence came on all
 those in the room when they looked at him,
so brave and so handsome did he seem.
'Through many and great troubles have I
come hither, queen,' said he; 'speed, I pray
you, my parting right quickly, that I may come
to mine own country. Too long have I suffered
great sorrows far away from my own friends.'
Then he sat down amongst the ashes by the
fire, and for a little space no one spoke.
At last a wise old courtier said to the king:
'Truly it is not right that this stranger should
sit in the ashes by the fire. Bid him arise,
and give him meat and drink.'
At this the king took Odysseus by the hand
and asked him to rise. He made one of his
sons give up his silver inlaid chair, and bade
his servants fetch a silver basin and a golden
ewer that Odysseus might wash his hands.
All kinds of dainties to eat and drink he also
made them fetch, and the lords and the courtiers
who were there feasted along with Odysseus,
until it was time for them to go to their own
Before they went the king promised
Odysseus a safe convoy back to his own land.
 When he was left alone with the king and
queen, the queen said to him: 'Tell us who
thou art. I myself made the clothing that thou
wearest. From whence didst thou get it?'
Then Odysseus told her of his imprisonment
in the island of Calypso, of his escape, of the
terrible storm that shattered his raft, and of
how at length he reached the shore and met
'It was wrong of my daughter not to bring
thee to the palace when she came with her
maids,' said the king.
But Odysseus told him why it was that
Nausicaa had bade him stay behind.
'Be not vexed with this blameless maiden,'
he said. 'Truly she is the sweetest and the
fairest maid I ever saw.'
Then Odysseus went to the bed that the
servants had prepared for him. They had
spread fair purple blankets over it, and when
it was ready they stood beside it with their
torches blazing, golden and red.
'Up now, stranger, get thee to sleep,' said
they. 'Thy bed is made.'
Sleep was very sweet to Odysseus that night
 as he lay in the soft bed with warm blankets
over him. He was no longer tossed and beaten
by angry seas, no longer wet and cold and
hungry. The roar of furious waves did not
beat in his ears, for all was still in the great
halls where the flickering firelight played on
the frieze of blue, and turned the brass walls
Next day the king gave a great entertainment
for Odysseus. There were boxing and
wrestling and leaping and running, and in all
of these the brothers of Nausicaa were better
than all others who tried.
But when they came to throw the weight,
and begged Odysseus to try, he cast a stone
heavier than all the others, far beyond where
the Phaeacians had thrown.
That night there was feasting in the royal
halls, and the king's minstrels played and
sang songs of the taking of Troy, and of the
bravery of the great Odysseus. And Odysseus
listened until his heart could bear no more,
and tears trickled down his cheeks. Only the
king saw him weep. He wondered much why
Odysseus wept, and at last he asked him.
 So Odysseus told the king his name, and
the whole story of his adventures since he had
sailed away from Troyland.
Then the king and queen and their courtiers
gave rich gifts to Odysseus. A beautiful
silver-studded sword was the king's gift to
Nausicaa gave him nothing, but she stood
and gazed at him in his purple robes and felt
more sure than ever that he was the handsomest
and the greatest hero she had ever seen.
'Farewell, stranger,' she said to him when
the hour came for her to go to bed, for she
knew she would not see him on the morrow.
'Farewell, stranger. Sometimes-think of me
when thou art in thine own land.'
Then said Odysseus: 'All the days of my
life I shall remember thee, Nausicaa, for thou
hast given me my life.'
Next day a company of the Phaeacians went
down to a ship that lay by the seashore, and
with them went Odysseus. They carried the
treasures that had been given to him and put
them on board, and spread a rug on the deck
for him. There Odysseus lay down, and as
 soon as the splash of the oars in the water and
the rush and gush of the water from the bow of
the boat told him that the ship was sailing
speedily to his dear land of Ithaca, he fell into a
sound sleep. Onward went the ship, so swiftly
that not even a hawk flying after its prey
could have kept pace with her. When the
bright morning stars arose, they were close to
Ithaca. The sailors quickly ran their vessel
ashore and gently carried the sleeping
Odysseus, wrapped round in his rug of bright
purple, to where a great olive-tree bent its grey
leaves over the sand. They laid him under the
tree, put his treasures beside him, and left him,
still heavy with slumber. Then they climbed
into their ship and sailed away.
While Odysseus slept the goddess Athene
shed a thick mist round him. When he awoke,
the sheltering heavens, the long paths, and
the trees in bloom all looked strange to him
when seen through the greyness of the mist.
'Woe is me!' he groaned. 'The Phaeacians
promised to bring me to Ithaca, but they
have brought me to a land of strangers, who
will surely attack me and steal my treasures.'
 But while he was wondering what he should
do, the goddess Athene came to him. She
was tall and fair and noble to look upon, and
she smiled upon Odysseus with her kind
Under the olive-tree she sat down beside
him, and told him all that had happened in
Ithaca while he was away, and all that he must
do to win back his kingdom and his queen.
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