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THE WANDERER'S RETURN
HEN Ulysses awoke he did not know where he was. But the
friendly Athene came as usual and told him many things.
He had been gone for twenty years, and most people
thought he must be dead. A hundred princes had visited
his wife, Penelope, asking her to marry them. As she
could not marry all, and did not wish to marry any,
they had agreed among themselves to stay at her palace
until she made up her mind to choose one of them. Then
the rest would go away.
Penelope believed that her husband was alive. To put
off these troublesome suitors she said, "When my
maidens and I have finished this piece of embroidery, I
will say who shall be my husband."
It was a very large cloth, and although the girls
worked hard, it was never near being done. Penelope
and her maidens picked out at night all the stitches
they had put in by day.
Athene made Ulysses look like a beggar, and he went up
to the palace. Nobody noticed him except the
swineherd, who gave him some foot and rest.
Telemachus, the son of Ulysses, came in, and Athene
changed the beggar back to his real self. The young
man did not know his father, but they soon became
 acquainted. They planned to get rid of the troublesome
suitors. The son was to go in as usual, and the father
would come as a beggar, who would tell stories to pay
for his dinner.
So it was done. As Ulysses went through the courtyard,
an old dog lifted his head, crawled forward, and licked
the stranger's feet. He remembered his master, with
whom he had so often hunted twenty years before.
The princes were in high glee. They ate and drank and
joked, and one of them struck the beggar with a stool.
They declared that they would not be put off any
longer. Penelope must decide that day. Her son said
they were right, but a trial of skill must first be
held. Each must shoot with a bow, and he whose arrow
went through twelve rings set in a row should have the
prize. An old bow belonging to Ulysses was brought
into the hall, with plenty of arrows. All other
weapons were taken away.
Telemachus tried to bend the bow so as to string it,
but could not. Prince after prince tried in vain. The
beggar said, "Let me try. Believe me, poor as I am
now, I was a soldier once, and these old arms may still
have some strength."
The suitors were angry, but Telemachus said it could do
no harm to let the old man try. Ulysses took the bow,
bent it, and fastened the cord. He picked up an arrow,
fitted it to the string, and sent it darting through
the twelve rings.
The suitors were astonished. Ulysses shouted, "My
son, my swineherd, every friend of mine, to my
side! I am Ulysses; I am the master here."
Telemachus and the servants hurried for arms, which
they had hidden not far away. They stood beside
Ulysses, and the princes saw themselves ensnared. They
rushed to the doors, but found them fastened. Then
they drew together at one end of the hall, panting like
wild beasts that are caught in a trap. They had
nothing to fight with, not even a dagger.
"We are defeated," they said. "Open your doors, and
give us liberty to go to our homes. We will trouble
you no more."
"No!" said Ulysses, who was no longer a beggar, but
stood like a king before them. "No! You will trouble
me no more! I shall take care of that. Here in my
palace you have lived and feasted, eating my substance,
abusing my servants, making my wife miserable with your
hated offers. You thought me dead, but I live and have
come to my own again. Dear wife and son, I am your
protector. See, I drive these enemies before me as the
stormwind drives withered leaves!"