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THE ENCHANTED ISLAND
LYSSES and his crew arrived at another island, and lived for
two or three days upon its shores. Then Ulysses
climbed a hill and saw in the center of the isle a
palace almost hidden in trees.
Much trouble had made him careful. He went down to his
men and said, "I see in the distance a noble house, but
none of us can tell what creatures may live there. We
will divide into two parties. I shall stay with one
half on the shore near our vessels; the other half will
go forward and find out what land this is and what
welcome we may hope for."
There were forty-four of the crew, besides Ulysses and
his lieutenant. The latter with twenty-two men went up
into the island. They saw the palace among the trees,
a stately building, with smoke rising from the kitchen
chimneys. That made them glad, for they were hungry.
As they drew near the house a number of wild beasts
came running toward them. There were lions, tigers,
wolves, and other fierce creatures. The sailors were
brave men, and they prepared to fight. But these
creatures, though they roared and howled, did no harm.
In fact, they seemed to be very friendly.
The companions of Ulysses went on and reached the  portico of the house. The doors were open, and they
heard the sound of a loom and of voices singing. Even
royal ladies wove in those days, and this seemed like a
safe and comfortable house. But the lieutenant thought
it best to be careful. He said to the men, "Somebody
must watch. Go in and see what is there. I will wait
behind this pillar until you come and tell me that all
The crew entered the wide doors. A smiling lady,
attended by her maidens, met them and gave them
"Come freely in," she said. "I see by your looks that
you are mariners who have sailed far and suffered much.
This is a house of rest for such. My maids will show
you to the dining-hall, where you can feast at your
The poor sailors were very happy to be so well
received. They were placed on couches, and food and
wine were brought to them. They ate and drank heartily
and were full of joy.
Then the lady said sharply, "Look at me!" They lifted
up their eyes, a little heavy with feasting, and say
her looking angrily at them. In her hand she held a
long and slender rod.
"You were beasts when you came," she said, "and now you
shall be beasts forever. Go to the sty and join your
She struck every one of the men a sharp blow with her
rod. Each saw his companions changed, in an instant,
into swine. All found themselves wallowing and
grunting on the floor. The girls took sticks and drove
these creatures out of the palace and into the pigpen.
 There, with many more of their kind, they were fed on
acorns and other swinish food.
The lieutenant ran down to the ship and told the
dreadful story. Ulysses said, "This calls for my help.
Stay here, all of you. I will go alone."
On the way he met the god Hermes, who told him that
this was the enchanted island of Circe, a powerful
witch, who delighted in trapping men and changing them
into beasts. The lions, tigers, bears, and wolves had
once been human, but the cup and rod of Circe had made
them what they now were.
"Do not risk yourself in that palace," said Hermes.
"Sail away with the men you have left and find some
safer land than this."
"Run away and leave my poor companions in a pigsty?"
cried Ulysses. "Never! I will set them free or share
"Very well," said Hermes. "I like to see a man stand
by his friends. I will help you."
He plucked a flower and gave it to Ulysses. "That is a
moly," he said, "and it is a charm against all kinds of
magic. Keep it in your hand and smell it often."
Ulysses went to the palace. Circe came to meet him and
said with smiles, "This is the king! I know you by
your noble bearing. This must be the great Ulysses.
You are welcome to my poor house. It is yours more
than it is mine."
"Madam," he said, "where are my friends? They came
here to-day, and I am now seeking them. I trust they
have not met with any harm."
 "Any harm!" she answered. "No harm could touch them in
my palace. Come in and eat and drink. My maidens will
lead you them to your friends, and you can all be happy
Ulysses followed her and ate and drank but kept the
moly in his hand and smelled it often.
At last, the witch struck him with her rod. "Too
long," she said, "too long you keep that human shape,
of which you are not worthy. Go, join your companions
in the sty, and wallow with them in there."
Ulysses leaped from the couch and drew his sword.
"No!" he cried. "Wicked witch, whom gods hate and men
fear, you have met your master. Give me back my
friends in their natural shapes, or you shall die."
He caught her by the hair and raised her glittering
"Spare me," she said, "and I will do all your bidding.
You are wise and brave, fit to be my master. I will
The pigs were brought from the sty. Circe used some
magic words and touched them with her rod. They stood
up as sailors, just as they had been. Then the other
men were called up from the shore, and all feasted
together. But Ulysses always kept the moly with him,
and watched that Circe should not deceive him.