Far away on the other side of the world, in one of the great wealthy cities of China, there once lived a poor tailor called Mustapha. He had a wife whom he loved dearly and an only son whose name was Aladdin.
But, sad to say, although the tailor was good and industrious, his son was so idle and bad that his father and mother did not know what to do with him. All day long he played in the streets with other idle boys, and when he grew big enough to learn a trade he said he did not mean to work at all. His poor father was very much troubled, and ordered Aladdin to come to the workshop to learn to be a tailor, but Aladdin only laughed, and ran away so swiftly that neither his father nor mother could catch him."Alas!" said Mustapha sadly, "I can do nothing with this idle boy." And he grew so sad about it, that at last he fell ill and died. Then the poor widow was obliged to sell the little workshop, and try to make enough money for herself and Aladdin by spinning.
Now it happened that one day when Aladdin was playing as usual with the idle street boys, a tall, dark, old man stood watching him, and when the game was finished he made a sign to Aladdin to come to him."What is thy name, my boy?" asked this old man, who, though he appeared so kind, was really an African Magician. "My name is Aladdin," answered the boy, wondering who this stranger could be. "And what is thy father's name?" asked the Magician. [pg 60] "My father was Mustapha the tailor, but he has been dead a long time now," answered Aladdin.
"Alas!" cried the wicked old Magician, pretending to weep, "he was my brother, and thou must be my nephew. I am thy long-lost uncle!" and he threw his arms round Aladdin's neck and embraced him."Tell thy dear mother that I will come and see her this very day," he cried, "and give her this small present." And he placed in Aladdin's hands five gold pieces. Aladdin ran home in great haste to tell his mother the story of the long-lost uncle. "It must be a mistake," she said, "thou hast no uncle." But when she saw the gold she began to think that this stranger must be a relation, and so she prepared a grand supper to welcome him when he came. They had not long to wait before the African Magician appeared, bringing with him all sorts of fruits and delicious sweets for desert. "Tell me about my poor brother," he said, as he embraced Aladdin and his mother. "Show me exactly where he used to sit." Then the widow pointed to a seat on the sofa, and the Magician knelt down and began to kiss the place and weep over it. The poor widow was quite touched, and began to believe that this really must be her husband's brother, especially when he began to show the kindest interest in Aladdin. "What is thy trade?" he asked the boy. "Alas!" said the widow, "he will do nothing but play in the streets." Aladdin hung his head with shame as his uncle gravely shook his head. "He must begin work at once," he said. "How would it please thee to have a shop of thy own? I could buy one for thee, and stock it with silks and rich stuffs." Aladdin danced with joy at the very idea, and next day set out with his supposed uncle, who bought him a splendid suit of clothes, and took him all over the city to show him the sights. [pg 61]
The day after, the Magician again took Aladdin out with him, but this time they went outside the city, through beautiful gardens, into the open country. They walked so far that Aladdin began to grow weary, but the Magician gave him a cake and some delicious fruit and told him such wonderful tales that he scarcely noticed how far they had gone. At last they came to a deep valley between two mountains, and there the Magician paused."Stop!" he cried, "this is the very place I am in search of. Gather some sticks that we may make a fire."
Aladdin quickly did as he was bid, and had soon gathered together a great heap of dry sticks. The Magician then set fire to them, and the heap blazed up merrily. With great care the old man now sprinkled some curious-looking powder on the flames, and muttered strange words. In an instant the earth beneath their feet trembled, and they heard a rumbling like distant thunder. Then the ground opened in front of them, and showed a great square slab of stone with a ring in it.By this time Aladdin was so frightened that he turned to run home as fast as he could, but the Magician caught him, and gave him such a blow that he fell to the earth. "Why dost thou strike me, uncle?" sobbed Aladdin.
"Do as I bid thee," said the Magician, "and then thou shalt be well treated. Dost thou see that stone? Beneath it is a treasure which I will share with thee. Only obey me, and it will soon be ours."As soon as Aladdin heard of a treasure, he jumped up and forgot all his fears. He seized the ring as the Magician directed, and easily pulled up the stone.
"Now," said the old man, "look in and thou wilt see stone steps leading downwards. Thou shalt descend those steps until thou comest to three great halls. Pass through them, but take care to wrap thy coat well round thee that thou mayest touch nothing, for if thou dost, thou wilt die instantly. When thou hast passed through the halls thou wilt come into a garden of fruit-trees. Go through it until thou seest a niche with a lighted lamp in it. Put the light out, pour forth the oil, and bring the lamp to me."[pg 62] So saying the Magician placed a magic ring upon Aladdin's finger to guard him, and bade the boy begin his search.
Aladdin did exactly as he was told and found everything just as the Magician had said. He went through the halls and the garden until he came to the lamp, and when he had poured out the oil and placed the lamp carefully inside his coat he began to look about him.
He had never seen such a lovely garden before, even in his dreams. The fruits that hung upon the trees were of every color of the rainbow. Some were clear and shining like crystal, some sparkled with a crimson light and others were green, blue, violet, and orange, while the leaves that shaded them were silver and gold. Aladdin did not guess that these fruits were precious stones, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, but they looked so pretty that he filled all his pockets with them as he passed back through the garden.The Magician was eagerly peering down the stone steps when Aladdin began to climb up. "Give me the lamp," he cried, stretching his hand for it. "Wait until I get out," answered Aladdin, "and then I will give it thee." "Hand it up to me at once," screamed the old man angrily. "Not till I am safely out," repeated Aladdin.
Then the Magician stamped with rage, and rushing to the fire threw on it some more of the curious powder, uttered the same strange words as before, and instantly the stone slipped back into its place, the earth closed over it, and Aladdin was left in darkness.
This showed indeed that the wicked old man was not Aladdin's uncle. By his magic arts in Africa he had found out all about the lamp, which was a wonderful treasure, as you will see. But he knew that he could not get it himself, that another hand must fetch it to him. This was the reason why he had fixed upon Aladdin to help him, and had meant, as soon as the lamp was safely in his hand, to kill the boy.As his plan had failed he went back to Africa, and was not seen again for a long, long time.
But there was poor Aladdin shut up underground, with no [pg 63] way of getting out! He tried to find his way back to the great halls and the beautiful garden of shining fruits, but the walls had closed up, and there was no escape that way either. For two days the poor boy sat crying and moaning in his despair, and just as he had made up his mind that he must die, he clasped his hands together, and in doing so rubbed the ring which the Magician had put upon his finger.In an instant a huge figure rose out of the earth and stood before him. "What is thy will, my master?" it said. "I am the Slave of the Ring, and must obey him who wears the ring." "Whoever or whatever you are," cried Aladdin, "take me out of this dreadful place."
Scarcely had he said these words when the earth opened, and the next moment Aladdin found himself lying at his mother's door. He was so weak for want of food, and his joy at seeing his mother was so great, that he fainted away, but when he came to himself he promised to tell her all that had happened."But first give me something to eat," he cried, "for I am dying of hunger." "Alas!" said his mother, "I have nothing in the house except a little cotton, which I will go out and sell." "Stop a moment," cried Aladdin, "rather let us sell this old lamp which I have brought back with me." Now the lamp looked so old and dirty that Aladdin's mother began to rub it, wishing to brighten it a little that it might fetch a higher price. But no sooner had she given it the first rub than a huge dark figure slowly rose from the floor like a wreath of smoke until it reached the ceiling, towering above them. "What is thy will?" it asked. "I am the Slave of the Lamp, and must do the bidding of him who holds the Lamp."
The moment the figure began to rise from the ground Aladdin's mother was so terrified that she fainted away, but Aladdin managed to snatch the lamp from her, although he could scarcely hold it in his own shaking hand."Fetch me something to eat," he said in a trembling voice, for the terrible Genie was glaring down upon him. [pg 64] The Slave of the Lamp disappeared in a cloud of smoke, but in an instant he was back again, bringing with him a most delicious breakfast, served upon plates and dishes of pure gold.
By this time Aladdin's mother had recovered, but she was almost too frightened to eat, and begged Aladdin to sell the lamp at once, for she was sure it had something to do with evil spirits. But Aladdin only laughed at her fears, and said he meant to make use of the magic lamp and wonderful ring, now that he knew their worth.
As soon as they again wanted money they sold the golden plates and dishes, and when these were all gone Aladdin ordered the Genie to bring more, and so they lived in comfort for several years.
Now Aladdin had heard a great deal about the beauty of the Sultan's daughter, and he began to long so greatly to see her that he could not rest. He thought of a great many plans, but they all seemed impossible, for the Princess never went out without a veil, which covered her entirely. At last, however, he managed to enter the palace and hide himself behind a door, peeping through a chink when the Princess passed to go to her bath.The moment Aladdin's eyes rested upon the beautiful Princess he loved her with all his heart, for she was as fair as the dawn of a summer morning. "Mother," he cried when he reached home, "I have seen the Princess, and I have made up my mind to marry her. Thou shalt go at once to the Sultan, and beg him to give me his daughter." Aladdin's mother stared at her son, and then began to laugh at such a wild idea. She was almost afraid that Aladdin must be mad, but he gave her no peace until she did as he wished.
So the next day she very unwillingly set out for the palace, carrying the magic fruit wrapped up in a napkin, to present to the Sultan. There were many other people offering their petitions that day, and the poor woman was so frightened that she dared not go forward, and so no one paid any attention to her as she stood there patiently holding her bundle. For a whole week she had gone every day to the palace, before the Sultan noticed her.[pg 65] "Who is that poor woman who comes every day carrying a white bundle?" he asked. Then the Grand Vizier ordered that she should be brought forward, and she came bowing herself to the ground.
She was almost too terrified to speak, but when the Sultan spoke so kindly to her she took courage, and told him of Aladdin's love for the Princess, and of his bold request, "He sends you this gift," she continued, and opening the bundle she presented the magic fruit.
A cry of wonder went up from all those who stood around, for never had they beheld such exquisite jewels before. They shone and sparkled with a thousand lights and colors, and dazzled the eyes that gazed upon them.
The Sultan was astounded, and spoke to the Grand Vizier apart. "Surely it is fit that I should give my daughter to one who can present such a wondrous gift?" he said....Now when three months were ended, Aladdin's mother again presented herself before the Sultan, and reminded him of his promise, that the Princess should wed her son.
"I ever abide by my royal word," said the Sultan; "but he who marries my daughter must first send me forty golden basins filled to the brim with precious stones. These basins must be carried by forty black slaves, each led by a white slave dressed as befits the servants of the Sultan."Aladdin's mother returned home in great distress when she heard this, and told Aladdin what the Sultan had said. "Alas, my son!" she cried, "thy hopes are ended." "Not so, mother," answered Aladdin. "The Sultan shall not have long to wait for his answer." Then he rubbed the magic lamp, and when the Genie appeared, he bade him provide the forty golden basins filled with jewels, and all the slaves which the Sultan had demanded.
Now when this splendid procession passed through the streets on its way to the palace, all the people came out to see the sight, and stood amazed when they saw the golden basins filled with sparkling gems carried on the heads of the great black slaves. And when the palace was reached, and the slaves [pg 66] presented the jewels to the Sultan, he was so surprised and delighted that he was more than willing that Aladdin should marry the Princess at once."Go, fetch thy son," he said to Aladdin's mother, who was waiting near. "Tell him that this day he shall wed my daughter."
But when Aladdin heard the news he refused to hasten at once to the palace, as his mother advised. First he called the Genie, and told him to bring a scented bath, and a robe worked in gold, such as a King might wear. After this he called for forty slaves to attend him, and six to walk before his mother, and a horse more beautiful than the Sultan's, and lastly, for ten thousand pieces of gold put up in ten purses.
When all these things were ready, and Aladdin was dressed in his royal robe, he set out for the palace. As he rode along on his beautiful horse, attended by his forty slaves, he scattered the golden pieces out of the ten purses among the crowd, and all the people shouted with joy and delight. No one knew that this was the idle boy who used to play about the streets but they thought he was some great foreign Prince.
Thus Aladdin arrived at the palace in great state, and when the Sultan had embraced him, he ordered that the wedding feast should be prepared at once, and that the marriage should take place that day."Not so, your Majesty," said Aladdin; "I will not marry the Princess until I have built a palace fit for the daughter of the Sultan." Then he returned home, and once more called up the Slave of the Lamp.
"Build me the fairest palace ever beheld by mortal eye," ordered Aladdin. "Let it be built of marble and jasper and precious stones. In the midst I would have a great hall, whose walls shall be of gold and silver, lighted by four-and-twenty windows. These windows shall all be set with diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones, and one only shall be left unfinished. There must also be stables with horses, and slaves to serve in the palace. Begone, and do thy work quickly."
And lo! in the morning when Aladdin looked out, there [pg 67] stood the most wonderful palace that ever was built. Its marble walls were flushed a delicate pink in the morning light, and the jewels flashed from every window.
Then Aladdin and his mother set off for the Sultan's palace, and the wedding took place that day. The Princess loved Aladdin as soon as she saw him, and great were the rejoicings throughout the city.
The next day Aladdin invited the Sultan to visit the new palace, and when he entered the great hall, whose walls were of gold and silver and whose windows were set with jewels, he was filled with admiration and astonishment."It is the wonder of the world," he cried. "Never before have mortal eyes beheld such a beautiful palace. One thing alone surprises me. Why is there one window left unfinished?" "Your Majesty," answered Aladdin, "this has been done with a purpose, for I wished that thine own royal hand should have the honor of putting the finishing touch to my palace." The Sultan was so pleased when he heard this, that he sent at once for all the court jewelers and ordered them to finish the window like the rest.
The court jewelers worked for many days, and then sent to tell the Sultan that they had used up all the jewels they possessed, and still the window was not half finished. The Sultan commanded that his own jewels should be given to complete the work; even when these were used the window was not finished.
Then Aladdin ordered the jewelers to stop their work, and to take back all the Sultan's jewels as well as their own. And that night he called up the Slave of the Lamp once more, and bade him finish the window. This was done before the morning, and great was the surprise of the Sultan and all his workmen.
Now Aladdin did not grow proud of his great riches but was gentle and courteous to all, and kind to the poor, so that the people all loved him dearly. He fought and won many battles for the Sultan, and was the greatest favorite in the land.
But far away in Africa there was trouble brewing for Aladdin. The wicked old Magician who had pretended to be Aladdin's uncle found out by his magic powers that the boy had not [pg 68] perished when he left him underground, but had somehow managed to escape and become rich and powerful.
"He must have discovered the secret of the lamp," shrieked the Magician, tearing his hair with rage. "I will not rest day or night until I shall have found some way of taking it from him."
So he journeyed from Africa to China, and when he came to the city where Aladdin lived and saw the wonderful palace, he nearly choked with fury to see all its splendor and richness. Then he disguised himself as a merchant, and bought a number of copper lamps, and with these went from street to street, crying, "New lamps for old."As soon as the people heard his cry, they crowded round him, laughing and jeering, for they thought he must be mad to make such an offer.
Now it happened that Aladdin was out hunting, and the Princess sat alone in the hall of the jeweled windows. When, therefore, she heard the noise that was going on in the street outside, she called to her slaves to ask what it meant.Presently one of the slaves came back, laughing so much that she could hardly speak. "It is a curious old man who offers to give new lamps for old," she cried. "Did any one ever hear before of such a strange way of trading?" The Princess laughed too, and pointed to an old lamp which hung in a niche close by. "There is an old enough lamp," she said. "Take it and see if the old man will really give a new one for it." The slave took it down and ran out to the street once more, and when the Magician saw that it was indeed what he wanted, he seized the Magic Lamp with both his hands. "Choose any lamp you like," he said, showing her those of bright new copper. He did not care now what happened. She might have all the new lamps if she wanted them. Then he went a little way outside the city, and when he was quite alone he took out the Magic Lamp and rubbed it gently. Immediately the Genie stood before him and asked what was his will. [pg 69] "I order thee to carry off the palace of Aladdin, with the Princess inside, and set it down in a lonely spot in Africa." And in an instant the palace, with every one in it, had disappeared, and when the Sultan happened to look out of his window, lo! there was no longer a palace to be seen. "This must be enchantment," he cried. Then he ordered his men to set out and bring Aladdin to him in chains.
The officers met Aladdin as he was returning from the hunt, and they immediately seized him, loaded him with chains, and carried him off to the Sultan. But as he was borne along, the people gathered around him, for they loved him dearly, and vowed that no harm should befall him. The Sultan was beside himself with rage when he saw Aladdin, and gave orders that his head should be cut off at once. But the people had begun to crowd into the palace, and they were so fierce and threatening that he dared not do as he wished. He was obliged to order the chains to be taken off, and Aladdin to be set free.As soon as Aladdin was allowed to speak he asked why all this was done to him. "Wretch!" exclaimed the Sultan, "come hither, and I will show thee." Then he led Aladdin to the window and showed him the empty space where his palace had once stood. "Think not that I care for thy vanished palace," he said. "But where is the Princess, my daughter?" So astonished was Aladdin that for some time he could only stand speechless, staring at the place where his palace ought to have been. At last he turned to the Sultan. "Your Majesty," he said, "grant me grace for one month, and if by that time I have not brought back thy daughter to thee, then put me to death as I deserve."
So Aladdin was set free, and for three days he went about like a madman, asking every one he met where his palace was. But no one could tell him, and all laughed at his misery. Then he went to the river to drown himself; but as he knelt on the bank [pg 70] and clasped his hands to say his prayers before throwing himself in, he once more rubbed the Magic Ring. Instantly the Genie of the Ring stood before him."What is thy will, O master?" it asked. "Bring back my Princess and my palace," cried Aladdin, "and save my life." "That I cannot do," said the Slave of the Ring. "Only the Slave of the Lamp has power to bring back thy palace." "Then take me to the place where my palace now stands," said Aladdin, "and put me down beneath the window of the Princess." And almost before Aladdin had done speaking he found himself in Africa, beneath the windows of his own palace.
He was so weary that he lay down and fell fast asleep; but before long, when day dawned, he was awakened by the song of the birds, and as he looked around his courage returned. He was now sure that all his misfortunes must have been caused by the loss of the Magic Lamp, and he determined to find out as soon as possible who had stolen it.
That same morning the Princess awoke feeling happier than she had felt since she had been carried off. The sun was shining so brightly, and the birds were singing so gaily, that she went to the window to greet the opening day. And who should she see standing beneath her window but Aladdin!
"Princess," said Aladdin, "I must recover this lamp, and [pg 71] thou shalt help me. To-night when the Magician dines with thee, dress thyself in thy costliest robes, and be kind and gracious to him. Then bid him fetch some of the wines of Africa, and when he is gone, I will tell thee what thou shalt do."
So that night the Princess put on her most beautiful robes, and looked so lovely and was so kind when the Magician came in, that he could scarcely believe his eyes. For she had been sad and angry ever since he had carried her off.
"I believe now that Aladdin must be dead," she said, "and I have made up my mind to mourn no longer. Let us begin our feast. But see! I grow weary of these wines of China, fetch me instead the wine of thy own country."
Now Aladdin had meanwhile prepared a powder which he directed the Princess to place in her own wine-cup. So when the Magician returned with the African wine, she filled her cup and offered it to him in token of friendship. The Magician drank it up eagerly, and scarcely had he finished when he dropped down dead.
Then Aladdin came out of the next chamber where he had hidden himself, and searched in the Magician's robe until he found the Magic Lamp. He rubbed it joyfully, and when the Genie appeared, ordered that the palace should be carried back to China, and set down in its own place.
The following morning, when the Sultan rose early, for he was too sad to take much rest, he went to the window to gaze on the place where Aladdin's palace had once stood. He rubbed his eyes, and stared wildly about.
"This must be a dream," he cried, for there stood the palace in all its beauty, looking fairer than ever in the morning light.
Not a moment did the Sultan lose, but he rode over to the palace at once, and when he had embraced Aladdin and his daughter, they told him the whole story of the African Magician. Then Aladdin showed him the dead body of the wicked old man, and there was peace between them once more.
Full of revenge, this younger brother started for China, determined to punish Aladdin and steal the Magic Lamp for himself. As soon as he arrived he went in secret to the cell of a holy woman called Fatima, and obliged her to give him her robe and veil as a disguise. Then to keep the secret safe he killed the poor woman.
Dressed in the robe and veil, the wicked Magician walked through the streets near Aladdin's palace, and all the people as he passed by knelt and kissed his robe, for they thought he was indeed the holy woman.
As soon as the Princess heard that Fatima was passing by in the street, she sent and commanded her to be brought into the hall, and she treated the supposed holy woman with great respect and kindness, for she had often longed to see her."Is not this a fine hall?" she asked, as they sat together in the hall of the jeweled windows.
"It is indeed most beautiful," answered the Magician, who kept his veil carefully down, "but to my mind there is one thing wanting. If only thou couldst have a roc's egg hung in the dome it would be perfect."As soon as the Princess heard these words she became discontented and miserable, and when Aladdin came in, she looked so sad that he at once asked what was the matter. "I can never be happy until I have a roc's egg hanging from the dome of the great hall," she answered. "In that case thou shalt soon be happy," said Aladdin gaily, and taking down the lamp, he summoned the Genie. But when the Slave of the Lamp heard the order his face grew terrible with rage, and his eyes gleamed like burning coals.
"Vile wretch!" he shrieked, "have I not given thee all thy wishes, and now dost thou ask me to kill my master, and hang him as an ornament in thy palace? Thou deservest truly to die; but I know that the request cometh not from thine own heart, but was the suggestion of that wicked Magician who pretends to be a holy woman."With these words the Genie vanished, and. Aladdin went at once to the room where the Princess was awaiting him.[pg 73] "I have a headache," he said. "Call the holy woman, that she may place her hand upon my forehead and ease the pain." But the moment that the false Fatima appeared Aladdin sprang up and plunged his dagger into that evil heart. "What hast thou done?" cried the Princess. "Alas! thou hast slain the holy woman." "This is no holy woman," answered Aladdin, "but an evil Magician whose purpose was to destroy us both."
So Aladdin was saved from the wicked design of the two Magicians, and there was no one left to disturb his peace. He and the Princess lived together in great happiness for many years, and when the Sultan died they succeeded to the throne, and ruled both wisely and well. And so there was great peace throughout the land.II
It was New Year's day in Persia, the most splendid feast-day of all the year, and the King had been entertained, hour after hour, by the wonderful shows prepared for him by his people. Evening was drawing on and the court was just about to retire, when an Indian appeared, leading a horse which he wished to show to the King. It was not a real horse, but it was so wonderfully made that it looked exactly as if it were alive.
"Your Majesty," cried the Indian, as he bowed himself to the ground, "I beg thou wilt look upon this wonder. Nothing thou hast seen to-day can equal this horse of mine. I have only to mount upon its back and wish myself in any part of the world, and it carries me there in a few minutes." Now the King of Persia was very fond of curious and clever things, so he looked at the horse with great interest."It seems only a common horse," he said, "but thou shalt show us what it can do." Then he pointed to a distant mountain, and bade the Indian to fetch a branch from the palm-trees which grew near its foot. [pg 74]
The Indian vaulted into the saddle, turned a little peg in the horse's neck, and in a moment was flying so swiftly through the air that he soon disappeared from sight. In less than a quarter of an hour he reappeared, and laid the palm-branch at the King's feet."Thou art right," cried the King; "thy enchanted horse is the most wonderful thing I have yet seen. What is its price? I must have it for my own."
The Indian shook his head. "Your Majesty," he said, "this horse can never be sold for money, but can only be exchanged for something of equal value. It shall be thine only if thou wilt give me instead the Princess, your daughter, for my wife."At these words the King's son sprang to his feet. "Sire," he cried, "thou wilt never dream of granting such a request." "My son," answered the King, "at whatever cost I must have this wonderful horse. But before I agree to the exchange, I would wish thee to try the horse, and tell me what thou thinkest of it."
The Indian, who stood listening to what they said, was quite willing that the Prince should try the Enchanted Horse, and began to give him directions how to guide it. But as soon as the Prince was in the saddle and saw the peg which made the horse start, he never waited to hear more. He turned the screw at once, and went flying off through the air."Alas!" cried the Indian, "he has gone off without learning how to come back. Never will he be able to stop the horse unless he finds the second peg." The King was terribly frightened when he heard the Indian's words, for, by this time, the Prince had disappeared from sight. "Wretch," he cried, "thou shalt be cast into prison, and unless my son returns in safety, thou shalt be put to death."
Meanwhile the Prince had gone gaily sailing up into the air until he reached the clouds, and could no longer see the earth below. This was very pleasant, and he felt that he had never had such a delicious ride in his life before. But presently he [pg 75] began to think it was time to descend. He screwed the peg round and round, backwards and forwards, but it seemed to make no difference. Instead of coming down he sailed higher and higher, until he thought he was going to knock his head against the blue sky.
What was to be done? The Prince began to grow a little nervous, and he felt over the horse's neck to see if there was another peg to be found anywhere. To his joy, just behind the ear. He touched a small screw, and when he turned it, he felt he was going slower and slower, and gently turning round. Then he shouted with joy as the Enchanted Horse flew downwards through the starry night, and he saw, stretched out before him, a beautiful city gleaming white through the purple mantle of the night.
Everything was strange to him, and he did not know in what direction to guide the horse, so he let it go where it would, and presently it stopped on the roof of a great marble palace. There was a gallery running round the roof, and at the end of the gallery there was a door leading down some white marble steps.The Prince began at once to descend the steps, and found himself in a great hall where a row of black slaves were sleeping soundly, guarding the entrance to a room beyond.
Very softly the Prince crept past the guards, and lifting the curtain from the door, looked in. And there he saw a splendid room lighted by a thousand lights and filled with sleeping slaves, and in the middle, upon a sofa, was the most beautiful Princess his eyes had ever gazed upon.
She was so lovely that the Prince held his breath with admiration as he looked at her. Then he went softly to her side, and, kneeling by the sofa, gently touched her hand. The Princess sighed and opened her eyes, but before she could cry out, he begged her in a whisper to be silent and fear nothing."I am a Prince," he said, "the son of the King of Persia. I am in danger of my life here, and crave thy protection." Now this Princess was no other than the daughter of the King of Bengal, who happened to be staying alone in her summer palace outside the city. "I will protect thee," said the Princess kindly, giving him[pg 76] her hand. Then she awoke her slaves and bade them give the stranger food and prepare a sleeping-room for him. "I long to hear thy adventures and how thou camest here," she said to the Prince, "but first thou must rest and refresh thyself."
Never before had the Princess seen any one so gallant and handsome as this strange young Prince. She dressed herself in her loveliest robes, and twined her hair with her most precious jewels, that she might appear as beautiful as possible in his eyes. And when the Prince saw her again, he thought her the most charming Princess in all the world, and he loved her with all his heart. But when he had told her all his adventures she sighed to think that he must now leave her and return to his father's court."Do not grieve," he said, "I will return in state as befits a Prince, and demand thy hand in marriage from the King thy father." "Stay but a few days ere thou goest," replied the Princess. "I cannot part with thee so soon." The Prince was only too willing to wait a while, and the Princess entertained him so well with feasts and hunting-parties that day after day slipped by, and still he lingered. At last, however, the thought of his home and his father's grief made him decide to return at once.
"My Princess," he said, "since it is so hard to part, wilt thou not ride with me upon the Enchanted Horse? When we are once more in Persia our marriage shall take place, and then we will return to the King thy father."
So together they mounted the Enchanted Horse and the Prince placed his arm around the Princess and turned the magic peg. Up and up they flew over land and sea, and then the Prince turned the other screw, and they landed just outside his father's city. He guided the horse to a palace outside the gates, and there he left the Princess, for he wished to go alone to prepare his father.
Now when the Prince reached the court he found every one dressed in brown, and all the bells of the city were tolling mournfully.
Great was the surprise of the Indian when, instead of having his head cut off as he had expected, he was allowed to go free with his wonderful horse. He asked what adventures had befallen the Prince, and when he heard of the Princess who was waiting in the palace outside the gates, a wicked plan came into his head.He took the Enchanted Horse, and went straight to the palace before the King's messengers could reach it. "Tell the Princess," he said to the slaves, "that the Prince of Persia has sent me to bring her to his father's palace upon the Enchanted Horse." The Princess was very glad when she heard this message, and she quickly made herself ready to go with the messenger. But alas! as soon as the Indian turned the peg and the horse flew through the air, she found she was being carried off, far away from Persia and her beloved Prince. All her prayers and entreaties were in vain. The Indian only mocked at her, and told her he meant to marry her himself. Meanwhile the Prince and his attendants had arrived at the palace outside the gates, only to find that the Indian had been there before them and had carried off the Princess.
The Prince was nearly beside himself with grief, but he still [pg 78] hoped to find his bride. He disguised himself as a dervish and set off to seek for her, vowing that he would find her, or perish in the attempt.
By this time the Enchanted Horse had traveled many hundreds of miles. Then, as the Indian was hungry, it was made to descend into a wood close to a town of Cashmere.
The men on horseback came riding at once to her aid, and she quickly told them who she was, and how the Indian had carried her off against her will. Then the leader of the horsemen, who was the Sultan of Cashmere, ordered his men to cut off the Indian's head. But he placed the Princess upon his horse and led her to his palace.
Now the Princess thought that her troubles were all at an end, but she was much mistaken. The Sultan had no sooner seen her than he made up his mind to marry her, and he ordered the wedding preparations to be begun without loss of time.
In vain the Princess begged to be sent back to Persia. The Sultan only smiled and fixed the wedding-day. Then when she saw that nothing would turn him from his purpose, she thought of a plan to save herself. She began talking all the nonsense she could think of and behaving as if she were mad, and so well did she pretend, that the wedding was put off, and all the doctors were called in to see if they could cure her.But whenever a doctor came near the Princess she became so wild and violent that he dared not even feel her pulse, so none of them discovered that she was only pretending. The Sultan was in great distress, and sent far and near for the cleverest doctors. But none of them seemed to be able to cure the Princess of her madness.
All this time the Prince of Persia was wandering about in search of his Princess, and when he came to one of the great cities of India, he heard every one talking about the sad illness [pg 79] of the Princess of Bengal who was to have married the Sultan. He at once disguised himself as a doctor and went to the palace, saying he had come to cure the Princess.The Sultan received the new doctor with joy, and led him at once to the room where the Princess sat alone, weeping and wringing her hands. "Your Majesty," said the disguised Prince, "no one else must enter the room with me, or the cure will fail." So the Sultan left him, and the Prince went close to the Princess, and gently touched her hand. "My beloved Princess," he said, "dost thou not know me?"
As soon as the Princess heard that dear voice she threw herself into the Prince's arms, and her joy was so great that she could not speak.
"We must at once plan our escape," said the Prince. "Canst thou tell me what has become of the Enchanted Horse?"
"I find that the Princess has somehow been infected by the magic of the Enchanted Horse," he said. "If thou wilt have the horse brought out into the great square, and place the Princess upon its back, I will prepare some magic perfumes which will dispel the enchantment. Let all the people be gathered together to see the sight, and let the Princess be arrayed in her richest dress and decked with all her jewels."
So next morning the Enchanted Horse was brought out into the crowded square, and the Princess was mounted upon its back. Then the disguised Prince placed four braziers of burning coals round the horse and threw into them a perfume of a most delicious scent. The smoke of the perfume rose in thick clouds, [pg 80] almost hiding the Princess, and at that moment the Prince leaped into the saddle behind her, turned the peg, and sailed away into the blue sky.But as he swept past the Sultan, he cried aloud, "Sultan of Cashmere, next time thou dost wish to wed a Princess, ask her first if she be willing to wed thee."
So this was the manner in which the Prince of Persia carried off the Princess of Bengal for the second time. The Enchanted Horse never stopped until it had carried them safely back to Persia, and there they were married amid great rejoicings.But what became of the Enchanted Horse? Ah! that is a question which no one can answer. III
In the city of Bagdad, far away in Persia, there lived a poor man called Hindbad. He was a porter, and one hot afternoon, as he was carrying a very heavy load, he stopped to rest in a quiet street near a beautiful house which he had never seen before. The pavement outside was sprinkled with rose-water, which felt very cool and pleasant to his hot, weary feet, and from the open windows came the most delicious scents which perfumed all the air.
Hindbad wondered who lived in this beautiful house, and presently he went up to one of the splendidly dressed servants, who was standing at the door, and asked to whom it belonged. The servant stared in amazement.
"Dost thou indeed live in Bagdad and knowest not my master's name?" he said. "He is the great Sindbad the Sailor, the man who has sailed all round the world, and who has had the most wonderful adventures under the sun."
Now Hindbad had often heard of this wonderful man and of his great riches, and as he looked at the beautiful palace and saw the splendidly dressed servants it made him feel sad and envious. As he turned away sighing, to take up his load again, he looked up into the blue sky, and said aloud:[pg 81]
"What a difference there is between this man's lot and mine. He has all that he wants, and nothing to do but to spend money and enjoy a pleasant life, while I have to work hard to get dry bread enough to keep myself and my children alive. What has he done that he should be so lucky, and what have I done that I should be so miserable?"Just then one of the servants touched him on the shoulder, and said to him: "My noble master wishes to see thee, and has bidden me fetch thee to him."
The poor porter was frightened at first, for he thought some one might have overheard what he had been saying, but the servant took his arm and led him into the great dining-hall. There were many guests seated round the table, on which was spread a most delicious feast, and at the head of the table sat a grave, stately old man with a long white beard. This was Sindbad the Sailor. He smiled kindly on poor frightened Hindbad, and made a sign that he should come and sit at his right hand. Then all the most delicious things on the table were offered by the servants to Hindbad, and his glass was filled with the choicest wine, so that he began to feel it must all be a dream.But when the feast was over Sindbad turned to him and asked him what it was he had been saying outside the window just before he came in. Then Hindbad was very much ashamed, and hung his head as he answered: "My lord, I was tired and ill-tempered, and I said foolish words, which I trust thou wilt now pardon."
"Oh," replied Sindbad, "I am not so unjust as to blame thee. I am indeed only sorry for thee. But thou wert wrong in thinking that I have always led an easy life, and that these riches came to me without trouble or suffering. I have won them by years of toil and danger."
Then turning to his other guests he said, "Yes, my friends, the tale of my adventures is enough to warn every one of you never to go in search of wealth. I have never told you the story of my voyages, but if you will listen I will begin this very night."So the servants were ordered to carry home the porter's load, that he might stay in Sindbad's palace that evening and listen to the story. [pg 82]
"My father left me a great deal of money when I was a young man, but I spent it so quickly and foolishly that I began to see it would soon all be gone. This made me stop and think, for I did not like the idea of being poor. So I counted up all the money that remained, and made up my mind that I would trade with it. I joined a company of merchants, and we set sail in a good ship, meaning to go from place to place, and sell or exchange our goods at whatever towns we stopped. And so began my first voyage.
"For the first few days I could think of nothing but the heaving of the waves; but by and by I began to feel better, and never again was I at all unhappy upon the sea. One afternoon, when the wind had suddenly dropped and we were lying becalmed, we found ourselves near a little low green island, which looked like a meadow, and only just showed above the sea. The captain of the ship gave us permission to land, and presently we were all enjoying ourselves on the green meadow. We walked about for some time and then sat down to rest, and some of us set to work to light a fire, that we might make our evening meal.
"But scarcely had the fire begun to burn, when we heard loud shouts from the ship warning us to come back at once, for what we had taken to be an island was indeed the back of a sleeping whale. My companions all rushed to the boats, but before I could follow them the great monster dived down and disappeared, leaving me struggling in the water.
"I clung to a piece of wood which we had brought from the ship to make the fire, and I could only hope that I would soon be picked up by my companions. But alas! there was so much confusion on board that no one missed me, and as a wind sprang up the captain set sail, and I was left alone at the mercy of the waves.
"All night long I floated, and when morning came I was so tired and weak that I thought I must die. But just then a great wave lifted me up and threw me against the steep side of an island, and to my joy I managed to climb the cliff and rest on the green grass above.
"Soon I began to feel better, and as I was very hungry I went [pg 83] to look for something to eat. I found some plants which tasted good, and a spring of clear water, and having made a good meal, I walked about the island to see what I would find next.
"Before long I came to a great meadow where a horse was tied, and as I stood looking at it, I heard men's voices which sounded as if they came from under the earth. Then from an underground cave a man appeared, who asked me who I was and where I came from. He took me into the cave where his companions were, and they told me they were the grooms belonging to the King of the island, whose horses they brought to feed in the meadow. They gave me a good meal, and told me it was very lucky that I had come just then, for next day, they meant to return to their master, and would show me the way, which I could never have found for myself.
"So we set off together early next morning, and when we reached the city I was very kindly received by the King. He listened to the story of my adventures, and then bade his servants see that I wanted for nothing.
"As I was a merchant I took great interest in the shipping, and often went down to the quay to see the boats unload. One day when I was looking over a cargo which had just been landed, what was my astonishment to see a number of bales with my own name marked on them. I went at once to the captain and asked him who was the owner of these bales of goods.
"'Ah!' replied the captain, 'they belonged to a merchant of Bagdad called Sindbad. But he, alas! perished in a dreadful way soon after we sailed, for with a number of people belonging to my ship he landed on what looked like a green island, but which was really the back of a great sleeping whale. As soon as the monster felt the warmth of the fire which they had lighted on his back, he woke up and dived below the sea. Many of my men were drowned, and among them poor Sindbad. Now I mean to sell his goods that I may give the money to his relations when I find them.'
"But presently, when I had told him all that had happened to me, and when the other merchants from the ship knew me to be the true Sindbad, he was overjoyed, and ordered that the bales should be at once given to me.
"Now I was able to give the King a handsome present, and after I had traded with my goods for sandal-wood, nutmegs, ginger, pepper and cloves, I set sail once more with the kind old captain. On the way home I was able to sell all my spices at a good price, so that when I landed I found I had a hundred thousand sequins."My family were delighted to see me again, and I soon bought some land and built a splendid house, in which I meant to live happily and forget all the troubles through which I had passed."
Here Sindbad ended the story of his first voyage. He ordered the music to strike up and the feast to go on, and when it was over he gave the poor porter Hindbad a hundred gold pieces and told him to come back at the same time next evening if he wished to hear the tale of the second voyage.Hindbad went joyfully home, and you can imagine how happy the poor family were that night. Next evening he set out once more for Sindbad's house, dressed in his best clothes. There he enjoyed a splendid supper as before, and when it was over Sindbad said:
"I was very happy for some time at home, but before long I began to grow weary of leading an idle life. I longed to be upon the sea again, to feel the good ship bounding over the waves, and to hear the wind whistling through the rigging.
"So I set to work at once and bought all kinds of goods that I might sell again in foreign lands, and then, having found a suitable ship, I set sail with other merchants, and so began my second voyage.
"We stopped at many places, and sold our goods at a great profit, and all went well until one day when we landed on a new island. It was a most beautiful place, fair as the garden of Eden, where exquisite flowers made a perfect rainbow of color and delicious fruits hung in ripe clusters above.[pg 85]
"Here, under the shadow of the tree, I sat down to rest and to feast my eyes upon all the loveliness around. I ate the food I had brought with me, drank my wine, and then closed my eyes. The soft music of the stream which flowed close by was like a song in my ears, and, before I knew what I was doing, I fell asleep.
"I cannot tell how long I slept, but when at last I opened my eyes, I could not see my companions anywhere, and when I looked towards the sea, to my horror I found the ship was gone. It was sailing away, a white speck in the distance, and here was I, left alone upon this desert island. I cried aloud and wrung my hands with grief, and wished with all my heart that I had stayed safely at home. But what was the use of wishing that now?
"So I climbed into a high tree, and looked around to see if I could by any means find a way of escape from the island. First I looked towards the sea, but there was no hope for me there, and then I turned and looked inland. The first thing that caught my eye was a huge white dome, that seemed to rise from the center of the island, unlike anything I had ever seen before.
"I climbed down the tree, and made my way towards the white dome as quickly as I could, but when I reached it, it puzzled me more than ever. It was like a great smooth ball, much too slippery to climb, and into it there was no door or entrance of any sort. I walked round and round it, wondering what it could be, when suddenly a dark shadow fell upon everything and it grew black as night.
"I gazed upwards in great fear, and knew that the shadow was cast by a great bird with outspread wings hovering over the place where I stood and shutting out heaven's light. As I looked, it suddenly came swooping down, and sat upon the white dome."Then it flashed into my mind that this must be the bird which I had heard sailors talk of, called a roc, and the smooth white ball must be its egg.
"Quick as thought, I unbound my turban, and twisted it into a rope. Then I wound it round and round my waist, and [pg 86] tied the two ends tightly round the roc's leg, which was close to where I stood."'It will fly away soon, and carry me away with it off this desert island,' I said to myself joyfully.
"And sure enough, before very long I felt myself lifted off the ground, and carried up and up until it seemed as if we had reached the clouds. Then the huge bird began to sink down again, and when it reached the ground I quickly untied my turban, and set myself free.
"I was so small, compared to the roc, that it had never even noticed me, but darted off towards a great black object lying near, which it seized with its beak and carried off. Imagine my horror when I looked again and saw other dark objects, and discovered that they were great black snakes.
"Here was I, in a deep valley, with mountains rising sheer up on every side, and nothing to be seen among the rocks but those terrible black snakes.
"'Oh!' I cried, 'why did I ever try to leave the desert island? I have indeed only come into worse misfortune.'
"As I looked around, I noticed that the ground was strewn with sparkling stones, which seemed to quiver with light, and when I looked nearer, I found they were diamonds of extraordinary size, although lying about like common pebbles. At first I was delighted, but they soon ceased to please me, for I feared each moment I might be seized by one of the terrible snakes.
"These snakes were so large that they could easily have swallowed an elephant, and although they lay quiet during the day, and hid themselves for fear of the roc, at night they came out in search of food. I managed to find a cave among the rocks before nightfall, and there I sat in fear and trembling until morning, when I once more went out into the valley.
"As I sat thinking what I should do next, I saw a great piece of raw meat come bounding down into the valley, from rock to rock. Then another piece followed, and another, until several large pieces lay at my feet.
"Then I remembered a tale which travelers had told me about the famous Diamond Valley. They said that every [pg 87] year, when the young eagles were hatched, merchants went to the heights above, and rolled down great pieces of raw meat into the valley. The diamonds on which the meat fell would often stick into the soft flesh, and then when the eagles came, and carried off the meat to feed their young ones, the merchants would beat them off their nests, and take the diamonds out of the meat."I had never believed this wonderful tale, but now indeed I knew it to be true, and felt sure that I was in the famous Diamond Valley.
"I had quite given up all hope of escape, for there was no possible way of climbing out of the valley, but as I watched the eagles carry off the lumps of raw meat, I thought of a plan, and hope revived.
"First of all I searched around, and filled all my pockets with the biggest diamonds I could find. Then I chose out the largest piece of meat and fastened myself securely to it, with the rope made out of my turban. I knew that the eagles would soon come for more food, so I lay flat on the ground, with the meat uppermost, and holding on tightly, I waited for what would happen next. I had not long to wait before a gigantic eagle came swooping down. It seized the meat and carried it and me swiftly up, until it reached its nest high among the mountain rocks. And no sooner had it dropped me into the nest, than a man climbed out from behind the rock, and with loud cries frightened the eagle away. Then this man, who was the merchant to whom the nest belonged, came eagerly to look for his piece of meat. When he saw me, he started back in surprise and anger."'What doest thou here?' he asked roughly. 'How dost thou dare to try and steal my diamonds?'
"'Have patience,' I answered calmly, 'I am no thief, and when thou hast heard my story thou wilt pity and not blame me. As for diamonds, I have some here which will more than make up to thee for thy disappointment.'
"Then I told him and the other merchants all my adventures, and they cast up their eyes to heaven in surprise at my courage, and the wonderful manner in which I had managed to escape [pg 88] so many dangers. Pulling out a handful of diamonds, I then passed the precious stones round among them, and they all declared them to be the finest they had ever seen.
"Then we all set off for the nearest port, where we found a ship ready to carry us home. We had many adventures on the way, but at last we reached our journey's end, and when I had sold my diamonds, I had so much money that I gave a great deal to the poor, and lived in even greater splendor than before."
Here Sindbad paused, and ordered that another hundred gold pieces should be given to Hindbad, and that he should depart. But next evening when the guests had all assembled and Hindbad had also returned, Sindbad began once more to tell them a story of his adventures.
"This time," began Sindbad, "I stayed at home for the space of a whole year, and then I prepared to set out on another voyage. My friends and relations did all in their power to prevent my going, but I could not be persuaded, and before long I set sail in a ship which was about to make a very long voyage.
"Nothing went well with us from the beginning. We were driven out of our course by storms and tempests, and the captain and pilot knew not where we were. When at last they found out in which direction we had drifted, things seemed in a worse state than ever. We were alarmed to see the captain suddenly pull off his turban, tear the hair from his beard, and beat his head as if he were mad."'What is the matter?' we asked, gathering round him. "'Alas!' he cried, 'we are lost. The ship is now caught in a dangerous current from which nothing can save her and [pg 89] us. In a very few moments we shall all be dashed to pieces.' "No sooner had he spoken than the ship was carried along at a tremendous speed straight on to a rocky shore which lay at the foot of a steep mountain.
"But although the ship was dashed to pieces, we all managed to escape, and were thrown with our goods and some provisions high on to the rocky strip of shore. Here we found the scattered remains of many wrecks, and quantities of bones bleached white in the sun.
"'We may prepare ourselves for death,' said the captain mournfully. 'No man has ever escaped from this shore, for it is impossible to climb the mountain behind us, and no ship dare approach to save us.'
"One thing that surprised me greatly was a river of fresh water which flowed out of the mountain, and, instead of running into the sea, disappeared into a rocky cavern on the other side of the shore. As I gazed into the mouth of this cavern I saw that it was lined with sparkling gems, and that the bed of the river was studded with rubies and diamonds and all manner of precious stones. Great quantities of these were also scattered around, and treasures from the wrecked ships lay in every corner of the shore.
"One by one my companions died as they came to the end of their food, and one by one I buried them, until at last I was left quite alone. I was able to live on very little, and so my food had lasted longer."'Woe is me!' I cried, 'who shall bury me when I die? Why, oh! why was I not content to remain safe and happy at home?'
"As I bemoaned my evil fate I wandered to the banks of the river, and as I watched it disappear into the rocky cave a happy thought came to me. Surely if this stream entered the mountain it must have an opening somewhere, and if I could only follow its course I might yet escape.
"Eagerly I began to make a strong raft of the wood and planks which were scattered all over the shore. Then I collected as many diamonds and rubies and as much wrecked treasure as [pg 90] my raft would hold, and took my last little store of food. I launched the raft with great care, and soon found myself floating swiftly along until I disappeared into the dark passage of the cavern.
"On and on I went through the thick darkness, the passage seeming to grow smaller and narrower until I was obliged to lie flat on the raft for fear of striking my head. My food was now all gone, and I gave myself up for lost, and then mercifully I fell into a deep sleep which must have lasted many hours. I was awakened by the sound of strange voices, and jumping up, what was my joy to find I was once more in heaven's sunshine."The river was flowing gently through a green, pleasant land, and the sounds I had heard were the voices of a company of negroes who were gently guiding my raft to the bank. "I could not understand the language these negroes spoke, until at last one of their number began to speak to me in Arabic.
"Peace be to thee!' he said. 'Who art thou, and whence hast thou come? We are the people of this country, and were working in our fields when we found thee asleep upon the raft. Tell us, then, how thou hast come to this place.'
"I pray thee, by Allah." I cried, 'give me food, and then I will tell thee all.' "Then the men gave me food, and I ate until my strength returned and my soul was refreshed, and I could tell them of all my adventures."'We must take him to the King,' they cried with one voice. "Then they told me that the King of Serendib was the richest and greatest king on earth, and I went with them willingly, taking with me my bales and treasures.
"Never had I seen such splendor and richness as at the court of the King of Serendib, and great was his kindness towards me. He listened to the tale of my adventures with interest, and when I begged to be allowed to return home, he ordered that a ship should be made ready at once. Then he wrote a letter with his own hand to the Caliph, our sovereign lord, and loaded me with costly gifts.[pg 91] "Thus, when I arrived at Bagdad, I went at once to the court of the Caliph, and presented the letter and the gift which the King had sent.
"This gift was a cup made out of a single ruby lined inside with precious stones, also a skin of the serpent that swallows elephants, which had spots upon its back like pieces of gold, and which could cure all illnesses."The Caliph was delighted with the letter and the gift. "'Tell me, O Sindbad,' he said, 'is this King as great and rich as it is reported of him?'
"'O my Lord,' I said, 'no words can give you an idea of his riches. His throne is set upon a huge elephant and a thousand horsemen ride around him, clad in cloth of gold. His mace is of gold studded with emeralds, and indeed his splendor is as great as that of King Solomon.'
"The Caliph listened attentively to my words, and then, giving me a present, he allowed me to depart. I returned home swiftly to my family and friends, and when I had sold my treasures and given much to the poor, I lived in such peace and happiness that my evil adventures soon seemed like a far-off dream."
So Sindbad finished the story, and bade his guests return the next evening as usual. And next day, when all the guests were once more seated at the table and had finished their feasting, Sindbad began the story of his last voyage."I had now made up my mind that nothing would tempt me to leave my home again, and that I would seek for no more adventures. "One day, however, as I was feasting with my friends, one of my servants came to tell me that a messenger from the Caliph awaited my pleasure. "'What is thy errand?' I asked when the messenger was presented to me. "'The Caliph desires thy presence at once,' answered the messenger. "Thus was I obliged to set out immediately for the palace.
"'Sindbad,' said the Caliph, when I had bowed myself to the ground before him, 'I have need of thy services. I desire [pg 92] to send a letter and a gift to the King of Serendib, and thou shalt be the bearer of them.'"Then indeed did my face fall, and I became pale as death. "'Commander of the Faithful,' I cried, 'do with me as thou wilt, but I have made a vow never to leave my home again.' "Then I told him all my adventures, which caused him much astonishment. Nevertheless, he urged me to do as he wished, and seeing that there was no escape, I consented.
"I set sail at the Caliph's command, and after a good voyage I at last reached the island of Serendib, where I received a hearty welcome. I told the officers of the court what my errand was, and they led me to the palace, where I bowed myself to the ground before the great King."'Sindbad,' he said kindly, 'thou art welcome. I have often thought of thee, and wished to see thy face again.'
"So I presented the Caliph's letter, and the rich present he had sent, which pleased the King well. When a few days had passed, I begged to be allowed to depart, and after receiving many gifts I once more set sail for home.
"But alas! the return journey began badly. We had not sailed many days, when we were pursued by pirates, who captured the ship, and took prisoners all those who were not killed. I, among others, was carried ashore and sold by a pirate to a rich merchant."'What is thy trade?' asked the merchant when he had bought me. "'I am a merchant,' I answered, 'and know no trade.' "'Canst thou shoot with a bow and arrow?' asked my master. "This I said I could do, and putting one in my hand he led me out to a great forest and bade me climb into a high tree. "'Watch there,' he said, 'until thou shalt see a herd of elephants pass by. Then try to shoot one, and if thou art fortunate, come at once and tell me.'
"All night I watched, and saw nothing, but in the morning a great number of elephants came thundering by, and I shot several arrows among them. One big elephant fell to the [pg 93] ground, and lay there while the rest passed on; so, as soon as it was safe, I climbed down and carried the news to my master. Together we buried the huge animal and marked the place, so that we might return to fetch the tusks.
"I continued this work for some time, and killed many elephants, until one night I saw to my horror that the elephants, instead of passing on, had surrounded the tree in which I sat, and were stamping and trumpeting, until the very earth shook. Then one of them seized the tree with his trunk, and tore it up by the roots, laying it flat on the ground.
"I was almost senseless with terror, but the next moment I felt myself gently lifted up by an elephant's trunk, and placed on his back. I clung on with all my might, as the elephant carried me through the forest, until at last we came to the slope of a hill, which was covered with bleached bones and tusks.
"Here the elephant gently laid me down, and left me alone. I gazed around on this great treasure of ivory, and I could not help wondering at the wisdom of these animals. They had evidently brought me here to show me that I could get ivory without killing any more of their number. For this, I felt sure, was the elephants' burying-place.
"I did not stay long on the hill, but gathering a few tusks together I sped back to the town, that I might tell my tale to the merchant. 'My poor Sindbad,' he cried, when he saw me, I thought thou wert dead, for I found the uprooted tree, and never expected to look upon thy face again.'"Great was his delight when I told him of the Hill of Ivory, and when we had gone there together, and he saw for himself the wonders I had described, he was filled with astonishment.
"'Sindbad,' he cried, 'thou too shalt have a share of this great wealth. And first of all I shall give thee thy, freedom. Until now, year by year have all my slaves been killed by the elephants, but now we need no longer run any risks, for here is ivory enough to enrich the whole island.'
"So I was set free, and loaded with honors, and when the trade winds brought the ships that traded in ivory, I bade good-by to the island, and set sail for home, carrying with me a great cargo of ivory and other treasures.[pg 94] "As soon as I landed I went to the Caliph, who was overjoyed to see me. "'Great has been my anxiety, O Sindbad,' he said, 'for I feared some evil had befallen thee.' "When, therefore, I had told him of my adventures, he was the more astonished, and ordered that all my story should be written in letters of gold, and placed among his treasures. "Then I returned to my own house, and ever since have remained at home in peace and safety."
Thus Sindbad finished the story of his voyages, and turning to Hindbad, he said: "And now, friend Hindbad, what dost thou think of the way I have earned my riches? Is it not just that I should live in enjoyment and ease?"
"O my lord," cried Hindbad, bowing before Sindbad, and kissing his hand, "great have been thy labors and perils, and truly dost thou deserve thy riches. My troubles are as nothing compared to thine. Long mayest thou live and prosper!"
Sindbad was well pleased with this answer, and he ordered that Hindbad should dine every day at his table, and receive his golden pieces, so that all his life he might have reason to remember the adventures of Sindbad the Sailor.
"Of all mortal men thou art the most beautiful, Paris, and to thee do we come for judgment. Tell us which of us is the fairest of all, and to that one whom thou so deemest, give this golden apple."So spake Hera, and placed in the hand of Paris an apple of purest gold.
Again she spake: "If to me, Hera, queen of goddesses, and wife of mighty Zeus, king of all the gods, thou dost grant the prize of loveliness, Power immeasurable shall be thine. King shalt thou be of the lands where the gray dawn rises, and king even to where the red sun goes down. A hundred peoples shall call thee lord."She was silent, and the voice of Athene, fair and pure as a silver moonbeam, broke the stillness of the starless night. "To me award the prize," she said, "and wise as the gods shalt thou be. With me as thy friend and guide, all things will be possible to thee." [pg 96] Last of all, standing in a rosy light, as of the dawning sunlight in the spring, spoke Aphrodite. "What are Power and Wisdom, fair Paris?" she pled. "Wisdom and Power bring no joy at last. I will give thee Love, and for thy wife thou shalt have the fairest woman in all the world." And Paris, the melody of her voice still in his ears, as he gazed spellbound on her face of wondrous beauty, handed to Aphrodite the golden prize.
So was it that the wrath of the gods came upon Paris, son of Priam. For Hera and Athene, filled with rage, vowed to be revenged upon Paris and all his race, and made all the gods pledge themselves to aid them in their vengeance.
Across far seas sailed Paris, with Aphrodite as his guide, to Sparta, where Menelaus was king.
When to Sparta there came Paris, with eyes blue as the sea, and hair that gleamed like gold on his purple robe, gallant and brave, and more beautiful than any mortal man, glad was the welcome that he had from Menelaus.And when Paris gazed on Helen's face, he knew that in all the world there was no woman half so fair as the wife of Menelaus. Then did Aphrodite cast her magic upon Helen. No longer did she love her husband, nor did she remember little Hermione, her own dear child.
When Paris spoke to her words of love, and begged her to flee with him, and to be his wife, she knew only that she loved Paris more than all else. Gladly she went with him, and in his redprowed ship together they sailed across the green waves to Troyland, where Mount Ida showed her snowy crown high above the forests.An angry man was Menelaus when he found that Paris had stolen from him the fair wife who was to him as his own heart. To his elder brother Agamemnon, overlord of all the Greeks, he went and told his grievous tale. [pg 97] And from far and wide did the Greek hosts gather, until a hundred thousand men and eleven hundred fourscore and six ships were ready to cross the seas to Troyland. Many were the heroes who sailed away from Greece to punish Paris and his kin, and to bring back fair Helen to her own land. Few there were who came home, for ten long years of woe and of spilling of blood came to the men of Greece and of Troy from the fatal beauty of Helen the queen. II
That night both gods and men slept long; only Zeus, king of the gods, lay wakeful, pondering in his heart how best he might do honor to Achilles. "I shall send a Dream to beguile Agamemnon," at length he resolved.Then did he call to a Dream, for by Dreams the gods sent their messages to mortal men.
"Go now, thou evil Dream," said Zeus, "go to where Agamemnon sleeps in his tent near to his fleet ships, and tell him every word as I shall tell it thee. Bid him call to arms with speed his warriors, for now he shall take the strong city of Troy."
To the tent of Agamemnon sped the Dream. Taking the form of the old warrior who had striven to make peace between Agamemnon and Achilles, the Dream stooped over the sleeping warrior, and thus to him it spoke:
"Sleepest thou, Agamemnon? Ill fits it for the overlord of so mighty a host to sleep all through the night. From Zeus I come, and to thee he sends this message: 'Call to arms with speed thy warriors, Agamemnon, for now shalt thou take the strong city of Troy.'"Off then sped the Dream, winging its way like a strip of gray mist aloft to Mount Olympus. Then Agamemnon awoke from sleep, and the voice of the Dream still rang in his ears. [pg 98]
Speedily he arose from his bed, donned his fair tunic, cast around him his great cloak, and bound his sandals on his feet. Then over his shoulder he cast his silver-studded sword, and with the scepter of his house, token of his overlordship, in his hand, he went down to where the Greek ships lay, and called a council together.To his lords he told what had befallen him as they slept. "Call to arms!" had been the message from Zeus. "Call to arms! for victory shall be thine." Then said the old warrior in whose likeness the Dream had come: "My friends, had any other told us this dream we might deem it false; but to our overlord the Dream hath come. Let us then call our men to arms."
So did all the lords follow his counsel, and quickly did the Greeks obey their summons. Like bees that pour from out their nests in some hollow rock, and fly to where the spring flowers grow most sweet, even so did the warriors pour forth from their ships and their huts by the sea. Loudly they shouted as they came, till all the earth echoed. Nine heralds sought to quiet them, but it was long before they would cease their noise, and sit silent to listen to the voice of Agamemnon their lord.
Then did Agamemnon prove his people. "Ill hath Zeus dealt with us, my friends," he said. "To us he promised ere we sailed hither that victory should be ours. But nine years have passed away, and our ships' timbers have rotted, and the rigging is worn. In our halls our wives and children still sit awaiting us, yet are we no nearer victory than we were on the day that we came hither. Come then, let us flee with our ships to our dear native land, for never shall Troy be ours."So spake Agamemnon, and stirred the hearts of all that had not heard his secret council.
As the high sea-waves are swayed by the winds that rush upon them from the east and from the south, even so the Greek host was swayed. And even as the west wind sweeps over a cornfield and all the ears bow down before the blast, so were the warriors stirred.[pg 99] Shouting, they hastened down to their ships. And the dust rose up in clouds from under their hurrying feet. Quickly did they prepare their ships, and gladly did they make them ready to sail homeward across the bright salt sea. Then would the Greeks have returned, even though fate willed it not. But Hera spoke to Athene.
"Shall we indeed allow the Greeks thus to flee homeward?" she cried. "Shame it will be to us if Helen is left, in Troy, and Paris goes unpunished. Haste, then, and with thy gentle words hold back the men from setting forth in their ships for their own homeland."Down from the peaks of Olympus darted the bright-eyed Athene, clown to where the dark ships were being dragged to the launching ways. By his ship stood Odysseus of the many devices, and heavy of heart was he. As one who speaks aloud the thoughts of another, so then to Odysseus spake the fair goddess who was ever his guide.
"Will ye indeed fling yourselves upon your ships and flee homeward to your own land?" she said. "Will brave Odysseus leave Helen, for whose sake so many Greeks have died, to be the boast of the men of Troy? Hasten, then, and suffer not the Greeks to drag their ships down to the sea."
At the sound of the voice of Athene, Odysseus cast away his mantle and ran to meet Agamemnon. From him he received the scepter of overlordship, and bearing it he went among the ships.Whenever he saw a chief, he would say to him with gentle words: "Good sir, it fits thee ill to be a coward. Stay, now, for thou knowest not what is the will of Agamemnon. He is only making trial of thee. Hold back then thy people, and anger him not." But when Odysseus met a common man hasting to the ships, with his scepter he smote him, saying: "Sit still, sir, and listen to the words of thy betters. No warrior art thou, but a weakling. One king only hath Zeus given to us. Hearken then to the will of Agamemnon!" [pg 100] Thus did Odysseus rule the people, driving them back from the ships to where sat Agamemnon. And the noise they made in returning was as the noise of mighty waves of the sea, when they crash upon the beach and drive their roaring echoes far abroad.
Silence came upon them as they sat themselves down before Agamemnon and their lords. Upon all but one did silence fall. Thersites, bandy-legged, round-shouldered, lame of one foot, with ugly head covered with scanty stubble, most ill-favored of all men in the host, would not hold his peace.Shrilly he poured his upbraidings upon Agamemnon.
"What lackest thou now?" he cried. "Surely thy huts are full of the spoils we have brought to thee each time we have taken a town. What more dost thou want? Soft fools, women, not men, are ye Greeks, else would ye return home now with the ships, and leave this fellow here in Troyland gorging himself on the spoils for which he himself hath never fought. To brave Achilles hath he done dishonor, a far better man than he!"Straight to the side of Thersites came the goodly Odysseus.
"Hold thy peace," he sternly said. "Plainly I tell thee that if ever again I find thee raving as thou hast raved now, I myself will strip off thy mantle and tunic, with shameful blows beat thee out of the assembly, and send thee back weeping to the ships."
So spake Odysseus, and with his scepter smote Thersites on his back and shoulders. And Thersites bowed down, and big tears fell from his eyes, and a bloody weal from the golden scepter stood up from his back. Amazed he sat down, and in pain and amazement he wiped away a tear. The others, though they were sorry, laughed at his bewilderment."Many are the good deeds of Odysseus," said they, "but never did he do a better deed than when he stopped the tongue of this prating railer." Then spake Odysseus, scepter in hand.
"Surely it is the wish of the Greeks to make thee the most despised of all kings, great Agamemnon," he said, "for like young children or mourning women do they wail that they must [pg 101] go home. Nine years have we stayed in this land, and small wonder is it that we long for our homes again. Yet shameful would it be to wait so long and to return with empty hands. Be of good heart, my friends, and wait a little, for surely Troy shall be ours. Do ye forget, on the day that we set sail for Troyland, the mighty portent that we saw? As we offered sacrifices to the gods beneath a fair plane-tree whence flowed clear water, a snake, blood-red on the back and dreadful to look upon, glided from beneath the altar and darted to the tree. On the tree's topmost bough was a sparrow's nest, and in it eight tender nestlings, over which the mother bird spread her wings. Pitifully did the little ones cheep as the snake swallowed them all, and pitifully cried the mother as she fluttered over her nestlings. But of her, too, did the snake lay hold, coiling himself round her and crushing her life out. Then did the god who sent this sign show us that a sign from the gods in truth it was, for he turned the snake into stone. And Chalcas, our soothsayer, told us then the meaning of the sign. 'Nine years,' said he—for nine birds did the snake slay—'shall ye fight in Troyland, but in the tenth year the city shall fall before you.' So then, let us abide here, until we have taken the great city!"When Odysseus had ceased to speak, the Greeks shouted aloud, until the ships echoed the praises of the goodly Odysseus.
Then said Agamemnon: "Go now, all of you, and eat, that ye may be ready for battle. Let each man sharpen well his spear and see to his shield, and see to it that the horses are well fed and the chariots prepared. And whomsoever I see minded to stay far away from the fight, beside the ships here by the sea, for him shall there be no hope hereafter, but he shall be food for dogs and for birds of prey."And when Agamemnon had spoken, the shouts of the Greeks were as the thunder of mighty breakers on a reef when the winds blow high. Quickly then they scattered, and kindled fires, and made their evening meal, and offered sacrifices to the gods, praying for escape from death in the coming battle. [pg 102] To Zeus did Agamemnon offer his sacrifice and to the mighty god he prayed: "Great Zeus, god of the storm-cloud, let not the sun set nor the darkness fall until I have laid low the palaces of Troy and burned down its walls with fire."
So he prayed, but as yet Zeus heeded not his prayer. Then did the Greeks gather themselves together to battle, and among them went the bright-eyed Athene, urging on each one, and rousing in each man's heart the joy of strength and of battle.As the red and golden blaze of a fire that devours a mighty forest is seen from afar, so was seen from afar the dazzling gleam of their bronze armor as they marched. Like wild geese and cranes and swans that in long-drawn strings fly tirelessly onward, so poured they forth, while the earth echoed terribly under the tread of men and horses.
As flies that swarm in the spring when the herdsmen's milk-pails are full, so did the Greeks throng to battle, unnumbered as the leaves and the flowers upon which they trod in the flowery plain by the banks of the river Scamander.III
Like the mist that rolls from the crest of the mountains until no man can see in front of him further than the cast of a stone, so did the dust rise in clouds under the tread of the warriors' feet as they marched across the plain.Front to front did the two armies stand at last, and from the Trojan ranks strode forth Paris the godlike, he who robbed Menelaus of her who was to him most dear. [pg 103]
From the shoulders of Paris swung a panther's skin. He bore a curved bow and sword, and, brandishing two bronze-headed spears, he challenged all the chieftains of the Greek host to fight him, man to man, in mortal fight.As a hungry lion rejoices to see a great-horned stag coming to be his prey, even so did Menelaus rejoice when he saw Paris, the golden-haired and blue-eyed, stride proudly forth. Straightway, in his armor, did Menelaus leap from his chariot to the ground. But when Paris saw him to whom he had done so sore a wrong, his heart was smitten. As a man who, in a mountain glen, suddenly sees a deadly snake and shrinks away from it with shaking limbs, even so did Paris shrink back among his comrades. Scornfully did Hector his brother behold him.
"Fair in face thou art!" said Hector, "but shamed I am by thee! I ween these long-haired Greeks make sport of us because we have for champion one whose face and form are beautiful, but in whose heart is neither strength nor courage. Art thou a coward? and yet thou daredst to sail across the sea and steal from her husband the fair woman who hath brought us so much harm. Thou shalt see what sort of warrior is he whose lovely wife thou hast taken. Thy harp and thy golden locks and fair face, and all the graces given to thee by Aphrodite, shall count for little when thou liest in the dust! Cowards must we Trojans be, else thou hadst been stoned to death ere this, for all the evil thou hast wrought."Then answered Paris:
"No word hast thou said that I do not deserve, brave Hector. Yet scorn not the gifts of golden Aphrodite, for by his own desire can no man win the love and beauty that the goddess gives. But let me now do battle with Menelaus. Make the Trojans and the men of Greece sit down, while Menelaus and I fight for Helen. Let him who is conqueror have her and all that is hers for his own, and let the others take an oath of friendship so that the Greeks may depart in peace to their own land, and in peace the Trojans dwell in Troy."Greatly did Hector rejoice at his brother's word. His [pg 104] spear grasped by the middle, he went through the Trojan ranks and bid the warriors hold back. But as he went, the Greeks shot arrows at brave Hector and cast stones. "Hold! hold! ye Greeks," called Agamemnon. "Hector of the glancing helm hath somewhat to say to us." In silence, then, the two armies stood, while Hector told them the words of Paris his brother. When they had heard him, Menelaus spoke:
"Many ills have ye endured," he said, "for my sake and because of the sins of Paris. Yet now, I think, the end of this long war hath come. Let us fight, then, and death and fate shall decide which of us shall die. Let us offer sacrifice now to Zeus, and call hither Priam, King of Troy. I fear for the faith of his sons, Paris and Hector, but Priam is an old man and will not break faith."
Then were the Greeks and the Trojans glad. They came down from their chariots, and took off their arms, and laid them on the ground, while heralds went to tell Priam and to fetch lambs and a ram for the sacrifice.While they went, Hera sent to Troy Iris, her messenger, in the guise of the fairest daughter of Priam.
To the hall where Helen sat came lovely Iris. And there she found Helen, fairest of women, her white arms swiftly moving back and forward as she wove a great purple web of double wool, and wrought thereon pictures of many battles of the Greeks and the men of Troy.
"Come hither, dear lady," said Iris, "and see a wondrous thing. For they that so fiercely fought with each other, now sit in silence. The battle is stayed; they lean upon their shields, and their tall spears are thrust in the earth by their sides. But for thee are Menelaus and Paris now going to fight, and thou shalt be the wife of the conqueror."
So spake lovely Iris, and into the sleeping heart of Helen there came remembrance, and a hungry longing for her old home, and for Menelaus, and her father and mother, and for little Hermione, her child.The tears rolled down her cheeks, but quickly she hid her [pg 105] face with a veil of fair linen, and hastened out, with her two handmaidens, to the place where the two armies lay. At the Scæan gates sat Priam and other old warriors. As Helen, in her fair white robes, drew near, the old men marveled at her loveliness.
"Small wonder is it," said they, "that Trojans and Greeks should suffer hardships and lay down their lives for one so beautiful. Yet well would it be for her to sail away upon the Greek ships rather than stay here to bring trouble upon us now, and upon our children hereafter."Then Priam called to Helen:
"Come hither, dear child, and sit beside me, that thou may'st see the man who once was thy husband, and thy kinsmen, and thy friends. No blame do I give to thee for all our woes, but only to the gods who have chosen thee to be the cause of all this bloodshed."Then did Priam ask her the names of the mighty heroes who stood by their spears in the Grecian ranks, and Helen, making answer to him, said:
"Dear father of Paris, my lord, would that I had died ere I left my own land and my little child, and all those that I loved, and followed thy son hither. Agamemnon, a goodly king and a mighty spearsman, is the Greek warrior whose name thou dost ask. Brother of him who was my husband is he. Ah! shameless me, who did leave mine own."
Of Odysseus also, and of many another warrior of great stature and brave looks, did Priam make inquiry. And Helen told him all she knew, while tears of longing stood in her eyes.
"My two brethren, Castor, tamer of horses, and Polydeuces, the skilful boxer, I do not see," she said; "mayhap they have not crossed the sea." For she knew not that her two brothers lay dead in her own beautiful land.Then was the sacrifice to Zeus offered, and the vows made between Agamemnon and Priam, King of Troy. When the sacrifice and vows were accomplished, Priam in haste mounted his chariot and drove away.
"Verily will I return to windy Ilios," said the old man, "for I cannot bear to watch the fight between Menelaus and my own [pg 106] dear son. But only Zeus and the gods know which one of them is to fall."
Then Hector and Odysseus marked out a space for the fight, and into a bronze helmet Hector placed two pebbles and shook them in the helmet, looking behind him. And the pebble of Paris leapt out the first, so that to him fell the lot to cast first his spear of bronze.
Then did Paris arm himself. Greaves of beauteous fashioning he placed upon his legs, and fastened them with silver ankle-clasps. Over his shoulders he put his silver-studded sword of bronze and his great shield. On his head he placed a helmet with nodding crest of horsehair, and in his hand he grasped his strong spear. In like manner did Menelaus arm himself.One moment did they stand face to face, wrath and hatred in their hearts, their spears gripped firm in their hands. Then did Paris hurl his spear and smite the shield of Menelaus. But the shield was strong and the spear could not pierce it. His hand lifted up for the cast, Menelaus looked upwards and called to Zeus.
"Grant me revenge, great Zeus!" he cried. "On him that hath done me grievous wrong, grant me vengeance, so that all men hereafter may shudder to wrong one who hath treated him as his honored guest."Then hurled he his mighty spear. Through the bright shield it went, and through the shining breastplate, tearing the tunic of Paris on his thigh. But Paris swerved aside, and so escaped death. Then Menelaus drew his silver-studded sword and drove it crashing down upon the helmet of Paris. But in four pieces was the sword shattered, and fell from the hand of Menelaus.
"Surely art thou the most cruel of all the gods, Zeus!" angrily he cried. "My spear is cast in vain, and my sword shattered, and my vengeance is still to come!"
So saying, he leapt upon Paris. By the crest on his helmet he seized him, and, swinging him round, he dragged him towards the Greek host. The embroidered strap beneath the helmet of Paris strangled him, and so he would have shamefully died, had not Aphrodite marked his plight. Swiftly did she burst [pg 107] the leather strap, and the helmet was left empty in the grasp of Menelaus.
But Aphrodite snatched Paris up, and in thick mist she hid him, and bore him away to his own home. Like a wild beast Menelaus strode through the host, searching for him. But no Trojan would have hidden him, for with a bitter hatred did the men of Troy hate Paris, most beautiful of mortal men.Then said Agamemnon: "Hearken to me, ye Trojans. Now hath Menelaus gained the victory. Give us back Helen, and all that is hers, and pay me the recompense that ye owe me for all the evil days that are gone." So spake he, and glad were the shouts of the Greeks as they heard the words of their king. IV
From where the battle still raged went Hector, son of Priam. At the oak-tree by the gates of Troy there came running to meet him wives and daughters of those who fought. For eagerly did they long for tidings of many a warrior who now lay dead on the field.When he reached the beautiful, many-pillared palace of his father, his mother came to meet him. His hand she took in hers, and gently spoke she to him. "Art thou wearied that thou hast left the battle, Hector, my son?" she said. "Let me bring thee wine that thou may'st be refreshed and yet gain strength."
"Bring me no wine, dear mother," said Hector, "lest it take from me the strength and courage that I have. Rather go thou to the temple of Athene and offer her sacrifices, beseeching that she will have mercy on Troy and on the wives of the Trojans and their little children. So may she hold back Diomedes the destroyer. I go to Paris—would that he were dead!"And the mother of Hector straightway, with other old women, the mothers of heroes, offered sacrifices and prayers to Athene. But Athene paid no heed. [pg 108] To the palace of Paris, his mighty bronze spear in his hand, then strode Hector. Paris, the golden-haired, sat in a room with Helen, idly handling his shining shield and breastplate and curved bow. In bitter scorn spoke Hector to his brother. "Our people die in battle for thy sake!" he cried, "while here thou sittest idle. Up then, ere the enemies that thou hast made for us burn our city to the ground!" And Paris answered: "Justly dost thou chide me, Hector. Even now hath Helen urged me to play the man and go back to battle. Only let me put on my armor, and soon will I overtake thee." Never a word did Hector answer him. But to Hector did Helen then speak:
"Brother Hector," she said, "unworthy am I to be sister of thine. Would that I had died on the day I was born, or would that the gods who have brought me this evil had given me for a husband one who was shamed by reproach and who feared dishonor. Rest thee here, my brother, who hast suffered so much for the sake of wretched me and for the sin of Paris. Well I know that for us cometh punishment of which men will sing in the far-off years that are yet to come."
"Of thy love, ask me not to stay, Helen," answered Hector. "For to help the men of Troy is my whole heart set, and they are now in want of me. But rouse this fellow, and make him hasten after me. I go now to see my dear wife and my babe, for I know not whether I shall return to them again."In his own house Hector found not his fair wife Andromache, nor their little babe. "Whither went thy mistress?" he asked in eagerness of the serving-women.
"Truly, my lord," answered one, "tidings came to us that the Trojans were sorely pressed and that with the Greeks was the victory. So then did Andromache, like one frenzied, hasten with her child and his nurse to the walls that she might see somewhat of what befell. There, on the tower, she stands now, weeping and wailing."Back through the streets by which he had come then hastened [pg 109] Hector. And as he drew near the gates, Andromache, who had spied him from afar, ran to meet him. As, hand clasped in hand, Andromache and Hector stood, Hector looked silently at the beautiful babe in his nurse's arms, and smiled. Astyanax, "The City King," those of Troy called the child, because it was Hector his father who saved the city. Then said Andromache:
"Dear lord, thy courage will bring thee death. Hast thou no pity for this babe nor for thy wife, who so soon shall be thy widow? Better would it be for me to die if to thee death should come. For if I lose thee, then sorrow must for evermore be mine. No father nor mother have I, and on one day were my seven brothers slain. Father and mother and brother art thou to me, Hector, and my dear loved husband as well. Have pity now, and stay with thy wife and thy little child."
"All these things know I well, my wife," answered Hector, "but black shame would be mine were I to shrink like a coward from battle. Ever it hath been mine to be where the fight was fiercest, and to win glory for my father's name, and for my own. But soon will that glory be gone, for my heart doth tell me that Troy must fall. Yet for the sorrows of the Trojans, and of my own father and mother and brethren, and of the many heroes that must perish, grieve I less bitterly than for the anguish that must come upon thee on that day when thou no longer hast a husband to fight for thee and a Greek leads thee away a prisoner. May the earth be heaped up high above me ere I hear thy crying, Andromache!"So spake Hector, and stretched out his arms to take his boy.
But from his father's bronze helmet with its fiercely nodding plume of horsehair the babe shrank back in terror and hid his face in his nurse's breast. Then did the little City King's father and his sweet mother laugh aloud, and on the ground Hector laid his helmet, and taking his little son in his arms he kissed him and gently dandled him. And as he did so, thus Hector prayed to Zeus and all the gods:
"O Zeus and all ye gods, grant that my son may be a brave warrior and a great king in Troyland. Let men say of him [pg 110] when he returns from battle, 'Far greater is he than his father,' and may he gladden his mother's heart."Then did Hector lay his babe in Andromache's arms, and she held him to her bosom, smiling through her tears. Full of love and pity and tenderness was the heart of Hector, and gently he caressed her and said:
"Dear one, I pray thee be not of over-sorrowful heart. No man shall slay me ere the time appointed for my death hath come. Go home and busy thyself with loom and distaff and see to the work of thy maidens. But war is for us men, and of all those who dwell in Troyland, most of all for me."
So spake Hector, and on his head again he placed his crested helmet. And his wife went home, many times looking back to watch him she loved going forth to battle, with her eyes half blinded by her tears.
Not far behind Hector followed Paris, his armor glittering like the sun, and with a laugh on the face that was more full of beauty than that of any other man on earth. Like a noble charger that has broken its bonds and gallops exultingly across the plain, so did Paris stride onward."I fear I have delayed thee," he said to his brother when he overtook him.
"No man can speak lightly of thy courage," answered Hector, "only thou hast brought shame on thyself by holding back from battle. But now let us go forward, and may the gods give the Greeks into our hands."
So went Hector and Paris together into battle, and many a Greek fell before them on that day.
While round the dark ships of Greece the fierce fight raged, Achilles, from afar, listened unmoved to the din of battle, and watched with stony eyes the men of Greece as they fell and died on the reddened ground.To him came Patroclus. [pg 111]
"Why dost thou weep, Patroclus?" asked Achilles. "Like a fond little maid art thou that runs by her mother's side, plucking at her gown, hindering her as she walks, and with tearful eyes looking up at her until the mother lifts her in her arms. Like her, Patroclus, dost thou softly weep."Then Patroclus, heavily groaning, made answer:
"Among the ships lie the bravest and best of the men of Greece, sore wounded or dead. Pitiless art thou, Achilles, pitiless and unforgiving. Yet if thou dost still hold back from the battle, give me, I pray thee, thine armor, and send me forth in thy stead. Perchance the Trojans may take me for the mighty Achilles, and even now the victory be ours."Then said Achilles, and heavy was his heart within him:
"These Greeks took from me my well-won prize, Patroclus. Yet let the past be past; no man may keep his anger for ever. I have said that until the men of Troy come to burn my own ships I will hold me back from the battle. But take you my armor; lead my men in the fight, and drive from the ships the men of Troy. But to others leave it to chase them across the plain."
Even as Achilles spoke, the strength of mighty Ajax had come to an end, and with furious rush did the Trojans board the ships. In their hands they bore blazing torches, and up to the sky rushed the fiercely roaring flames.Then cried Achilles, smiting his thighs: "Haste thee, Patroclus! They burn the ships! Arm thyself speedily, and I will call my men!" Corslet and shield and helmet did Patroclus swiftly don, and girded on the silver-studded sword and took two strong lances in his hand. In the chariot of Achilles he mounted, and Automedon, best and bravest of charioteers, took the reins. Swift as the wild west wind were Bayard and Piebald, the two horses of Achilles, and in the side harness was Pedasus, a horse only less swift than they. Gladly did the men of Achilles meet his call to arms, for fierce as wolves were they. "Many times hast thou blamed me," cried Achilles, [pg 112] "because in my wrath I kept ye back from battle. Here for ye now is a mighty fight, such as ye love." To battle they went, and while Patroclus led them forth, Achilles in his tent offered up an offering to Zeus. Like wasps that pour forth from their nests by the wayside to sting the boys who have stoned them, so now did the Greeks swarm from their ships. Before the sword of Patroclus fell a mighty warrior, and when the men of Troy saw the shining armor of Achilles in his own chariot their hearts sank within them.
Out of the ships were they driven, the fire was quenched, and back to the trench rolled the tide of battle. In the trench writhed many a horse and many a man in dying agonies. But clear across it leaped the horses of Achilles, and close to the walls of Troy did Patroclus drive brave Hector before him.
His chariot then he turned, and headed off the fleeing Trojans, driving them down to the ships. Before the furious rush of his swift steeds, other horses were borne off their feet, other chariots cast in ruins on the ground, and men crushed to death under his wheels. Chief after chief did Patroclus slay. A mighty destroyer was he that day.One only of the chiefs of Troy kept his courage before the destroyer who wore the shining arms of Achilles. "Shame on ye!" cried Sarpedon to his men, "whither do ye flee? I myself will fight this man who deals death and destruction to the Trojan host." From their chariots leaped Sarpedon and Patroclus.
With the first cast of his spear Patroelus missed Sarpedon, but slew his charioteer. Then did Sarpedon cast, and his spear whizzed past Patroclus, and smote the good horse Pedasus. With a dreadful scream Pedasus fell, kicking and struggling, in the dust. This way and that did the other two horses plunge and rear, until the yoke creaked and the reins became entangled. But the charioteer leaped down, with his sword slashed clear the traces from Pedasus, and the horses righted themselves.
Once again did Sarpedon cast his spear, and the point flew over the left shoulder of Patroclus. But Patroclus missed not. [pg 113] Through the heart of Sarpedon sped the fiercely hurled spear, and like a slim tree before the axe of the wood-cutter he fell, his dying hands clutching at the bloody dust.Furious was the combat then over the body of Sarpedon. One brave warrior after another did Patroclus lay dead.
And more terrible still was the fight because in the ranks of the men of Troy there fought now, in all-devouring wrath, the god Apollo.
Nine men, good warriors all, did Patroclus slay; then, waxing bolder, he tried to climb the very walls of Troy.
Against Patroclus did Hector then drive his war-horses, but Patroclus, leaping from his chariot, hurled at Hector a jagged stone. In the eyes it smote the charioteer of Hector, and the slain man dropped to the ground."How nimble a man is this!" jeered Patroclus. "How lightly he diveth! Were this the sea, how good an oyster-seeker would this fellow be!" Then from his chariot leaped Hector and met Patroclus, and the noise of the battle was as the noise of a mighty gale in the forest when great trees fall crashing to the ground.
When the sun went down, victory was with the Greeks. Three mighty charges did Patroclus make, and each time he slew nine men. But when, a fourth time, he charged, Apollo met him. In thick mist he met him, and Patroclus knew not that he fought with a god. With a fierce downstroke from behind, Apollo smote his broad shoulders, and from off his head the helmet of Achilles fell with a clang, rattling under the hoofs of the horses. Before the smiting of the god, Patroclus stood stricken, stupid and amazed. Shattered in his hands was the spear of Achilles, and his mighty shield clanged on the ground.Ere he could know who was the smiter, a Trojan ally drove a spear between his shoulders, and Patroclus, sore wounded, fell back. Marking his dismay, Hector pressed forward, and clean [pg 114] through his body drove his bronze spear. With a crash Patroclus fell. "Thou that didst boast that thou wouldst sack my town, here shall vultures devour thee!" cried Hector. And in a faint voice Patroclus made answer:
"Not to thee do I owe my doom, great Hector. Twenty such as thou would I have fought and conquered, but the gods have slain me. Yet verily I tell thee that thou thyself hast not long to live. Even now doth Death stand beside thee!"As he spoke, the shadow of Death fell upon Patroclus. No more in his ears roared the din of battle; still and silent for ever he lay. VI
Then did Achilles moan aloud. On the ground he lay, and in his hair he poured black ashes. And the sound of his terrible lament was heard by his mother, Thetis, the goddess, as she sat in her palace down under the depths of the green sea.Up from under the waves swiftly came she to Achilles, and tenderly did she listen while he poured forth to her the tale of the death of his dear comrade. Then said Thetis: "Not long, methinks, shall Hector glory in the armor that was thine, for Death presseth hard upon him. Go not forth [pg 115] to battle, my son, until I return, bearing with me new and fair armor for thee." But when Thetis had departed, to Achilles in his sorrow came Iris, fair messenger of the gods.
"Unto windy Ilios will the Trojans drag the body of Patroclus unless thou comest now. Thou needst not fight, Achilles, only show thyself to the men of Troy, for sore is the need of Patroclus thy friend."
Then, all unarmed, did Achilles go forth, and stood beside the trench. With a mighty voice he shouted, and at the sound of his voice terror fell upon the Trojans. Backward in flight they went, and from among the dead did the Greeks draw the body of Patroclus, and hot were the tears that Achilles shed for the friend whom he had sent forth to battle.All that night, in the house of the Immortals, resounded the clang of hammer on anvil as Hephaistus, the lame god, fashioned new arms for Achilles. Bronze and silver and gold he threw in his fire, and golden handmaidens helped their master to wield the great bellows, and to send on the crucibles blasts that made the ruddy flames dance. No fairer shield was ever borne by man than that which Hephaistus made for Achilles. For him also he wrought a corslet brighter than a flame of fire, and a helmet with a golden crest.
And in the morning light did Thetis dart down from snowy Olympus, bearing in her arms the splendid gift of a god.
Glad was Achilles as he put on the armor, and terrible was his war-cry as he roused the Greek warriors. No man, however sore his wounds, held back when the voice of Achilles called him to the fight once again. Wounded was Agamemnon, overlord of the Greeks, but forth also came he. And there, while the sun rose on many a warrior who would fight no more, did Achilles and Agamemnon speak as friends once again, their long strife ended.
Hungry for war, with Achilles as their leader, did the Greeks then meet the Trojans on the plain. And as a fierce fire rages through the forest, its flames driven by the wind, so did Achilles in his wrath drive through the host of Troy.[pg 116] Down to the Scamander he drove the fleeing Trojans, and the water reddened with blood, as he smote and spared not. Merciless was Achilles; pitilessly did he exult as one brave man after another was sent by him to dye red the swift flood of the Scamander. At length, at his lack of mercy, did even the river grow wrathful. "Choked is my stream with dead men!" it cried, "and still thou slayest!"
But when Achilles heeded not, in fierce flood the river up-rose against him, sweeping the slain before it, and in furious spate seeking to destroy Achilles. But as its waves smote against his shield, Achilles grasped a tall elm, and uprooting it, cast it into the river to dam the torrent. For the moment only was the angry river stayed. In fear did Achilles flee across the plain, but with a mighty roar it pursued him, and caught him.To the gods then cried Achilles, and to his aid came Athene, and close to the walls of Troy again did Achilles chase the Trojan men. From the city walls old Priam saw the dreadful things Achilles wrought. And when, his armor blazing like the brightest stars of the sky, he drew near, and Hector would have gone to meet him, in grief did Priam cry to his dearly loved son: "Hector, beloved son, I pray thee go not alone to meet this man; mightier far than thou is he."
But all eager for the fight was Hector. Of all the men of Troy he alone still stood unafraid. Then did the mother of Hector beseech him to hold back from what must surely mean death. Yet Hector held not back, but on his shining shield leaned against a tower, awaiting the coming of the great destroyer.
And at last they met, face to face, spear to spear. As a shooting-star in the darkness so flashed the spear of Achilles as he hurled it home to pierce the neck of Hector. Gods and men had deserted Hector, and alone before the walls of Troy he fell and died.[pg 117]
Thus ended the fight. For twelve days did the Greek host rejoice, and all through the days Hector's body lay unburied. For at the heels of swift horses had the Greeks dragged him to the ships, while from the battlements his mother and his wife Andromache watched, wailing in agony, with hearts that broke.Then at length went old Priam to the camp of the Greeks. And before Achilles he fell, beseeching him to have mercy and to give him back the body of his son. So was the heart of Achilles moved, and the body of Hector ransomed; and with wailing of women did the people of Troy welcome home their hero. Over him lamented his old mother, for of all her sons was he to her most dear, and over him wept, with burning tears, his wife Andromache. And to his bier came Helen, and with breaking heart did she sob forth her sorrow:
"Dearest of my brothers," she said, "from thee have I heard neither reproach nor evil word. With kind words and gentle heart hast thou ever stood by me. Lost, lost is my one true friend. No more in Troyland is any left to pity me."
On lofty funeral pyre then laid they the dead Hector, and when the flames had consumed his body his comrades placed his white bones in a golden urn, and over it with great stones did they raise a mighty mound that all might see where he rested.Yet still was the warfare between Greeks and Trojans not ended.
To Achilles death came in a shaft from the bow of Paris. By a poisoned arrow driven at venture and at dark midnight from the bow of an outcast leper was fair Paris slain. While winter snow lay white on Ida, in Helen's arms did his life ebb away.Then came there a day when the Greeks burned their camp and sailed homeward across the gray water.
Behind them they left a mighty horse of wood, and the men of Troy came and drew it into the city as trophy and sign of victory over those who had made it. But inside the horse were [pg 118] hidden many of the bravest warriors of Greece, and at night, when the Trojans feasted, the Greeks came out of their hiding-place and threw open the gates.And up from the sea came the Greek host, and in fire and in blood fell the city of Troy.
Yet did not Helen perish. Back to his own kingdom by the sea Menelaus took her, to reign, in peace, a queen, she who had brought grief and death to so many, and to the city of Troy unutterable woe.
Telemachus loved his beautiful mother, Penelope, but his heart always longed for the hero father whom he could only dimly remember. As time went on, he longed more and more, for evil things came to pass in the kingdom of Odysseus.
The chiefs and lords of Ithaca admired Penelope for her beauty. They also coveted her money and her lands, and when Odysseus did not return, each one of these greedy and wicked men wished to marry her and make his own all that had belonged to brave Odysseus."Odysseus is surely dead," they said, "and Telemachus is only a lad and cannot harm us."
So they came to the palace where Penelope and Telemachus lived, and there they stayed, year in, year out, feasting and drinking and wasting the goods of Odysseus. Their roughness and greed troubled Penelope, but still more did they each one daily torment her by rudely asking: "Wilt thou marry me?"At last she fell on a plan to stop them from talking to her of marriage. In the palace hall she set up a great web, beautiful and fine of woof. Then she said, "When I have finished weaving this robe I shall give you my answer." Each day she worked at it, but each night, when the wooers [pg 120] slept, she undid all that she had done during the day. So it seemed to the wooers as if the robe would never be finished. Penelope's heart was heavy, and heavy, too, was the heart of Telemachus. For three weary years, while Odysseus was imprisoned on the island of Calypso, the mother and son pined together.
One day Telemachus sat at the door of the palace sadly watching the wooers as they drank and reveled. He was thinking of the brave father that he feared was dead, when there walked up to the door of the courtyard a stranger dressed like a warrior from another land.
The stranger was the goddess Athene. At the same time that she gained leave from the gods to set Odysseus free, they had agreed that she should go to Ithaca and help Telemachus. But she came dressed as a warrior, and not as a beautiful, gray-eyed, golden-haired goddess with golden sandals on her feet.
Telemachus rose up and shook her kindly by the hand, and led her into the hall. He took from her the heavy bronze spear that she carried, and made her sit down on one of the finest of the chairs, in a place where the noise of the rough wooers should not disturb her.
"These men greedily eat and drink, and waste my father's goods. They think the bones of Odysseus bleach out in the rain in a far land, or are tossed about by the sea. But did my father still live, and were he to come home, the cowards would flee before him. Tell me, stranger, hast thou come from a far-off country? Hast thou ever seen my father?"
Athene answered: "Odysseus still lives. He is a prisoner [pg 121] on a sea-girt island, but it will not be long ere he escapes and comes home. Thou art like Odysseus, my son. Thou hast a head like his, and the same beautiful eyes."
When Athene spoke to him so kindly and so hopefully, Telemachus told her all that was in his heart. And when the wickedness and greed of the wooers was made known to her, Athene grew very angry."Thou art in sore need of Odysseus," she said. "If Odysseus were to come to the door now with lance in hand, soon would he scatter those shameless ones before him." Then she told Telemachus what he must do. "To-morrow," said she, "call thy lords to a council meeting, and tell the wooers to return to their homes." For himself, she told him to fit out a ship with twenty oars-men, that he might sail to a land where he should get tidings of his father. "Thou art tall and handsome, my friend," she said. "Be brave, that even in days to come men may praise thy name." "Thou speakest as a father to a son. I will never forget what thou hast said," said Telemachus.
He begged Athene to stay longer, and wished to give her a costly gift. But she would not stay, nor accept any present. To Telemachus she had given a gift, though he did not know it. For into his heart she had put strength and courage, so that when she flew away like a beautiful bird across the sea she left behind her, not a frightened, unhappy boy, but a strong, brave man. The wooers took no notice of the comings and goings of the strange warrior, so busy were they with their noisy feast. As they feasted a minstrel played to them on his lyre, and sang a song of the return of the warriors from Troyland when the fighting was over.From her room above, Penelope heard the song, and came down. For a little, standing by the door, she listened. Then she could bear it no longer, and, weeping, she said to the minstrel: "Sing some other song, and do not sing a song of return from Troyland to me, whose husband never returned." [pg 122] Then Telemachus, in a new and manly way that made her wonder, spoke to his mother:
"Blame not the minstrel, dear mother," he said. "It is not his fault that he sings sad songs, but the fault of the gods who allow sad things to be. Thou art not the only one who hast lost a loved one in Troyland. Go back to thy room, and let me order what shall be, for I am now the head of the house."In the same fearless, manly way he spoke to the wooers:
"Ye may feast to-night," he said; "only let there be no brawling. To-morrow meet with me. For once and for all it must be decided if ye are to go on wasting my goods, or if I am to be master of my own house and king in mine own land."
The wooers bit their lips with rage, and some of them answered him rudely; but Telemachus paid no heed, and when at last they returned to their houses, he went upstairs to his own room. The old woman who had nursed him when he was a child carried torches before him to show him the way. When he sat down on his bed and took off his doublet, she folded and smoothed it and hung it up. Then she shut the door with its silver handle, and left Telemachus, wrapped in a soft fleece of wool, thinking far into the night of all that Athene had said to him.
When day dawned he dressed and buckled on his sword, and told heralds to call the lords to a council meeting. When all were assembled he went into the hall. In his hand he carried a bronze spear, and two of his hounds followed him, and when he went up to his father's seat and sat down there, the oldest men gave place to him. For Athene had shed on him such a wondrous grace that he looked like a young god.
"Never since brave Odysseus sailed away to Troyland have we had a council meeting," said one old lord. "I think the man who hath called this meeting is a true man—good luck go with him! May the gods give him his heart's desire."So good a beginning did this seem that Telemachus was glad, and, burning to say all that had been in his heart for so long, he rose to his feet and spoke.
Of the loss of his father he spoke sadly, and then, with burning words, of the cowardly wooers, of their feastings and [pg 123] revelings and wasting of his goods, and of their insolence to Penelope and himself.
When he had thus spoken in rage and grief, he burst into tears.
"Penelope is to blame, and no other. For three years she has deceived us. 'I will give you my answer when I have finished weaving this robe,' she said, and so we waited and waited. But now that three years have gone and a fourth has begun, it is told us by one of her maids that each night she has undone all she has woven during the day. She can deceive us no longer. She must now finish the robe, and tell us whom she will marry. For we will not leave this place until she has chosen a husband."Then, once again, with pleading words, Telemachus tried to move the hearts of the wooers. "If ye will not go," at last he said, "I will ask the gods to reward you for your wickedness."
As he spoke, two eagles flew, fleet as the wind, from the mountain crest. Side by side they flew until they were above the place of the council meeting. Then they wheeled about, darted with fury at each other, and tore with their savage talons at each other's heads and necks. Flapping their great wings, they then went swiftly away and were lost in the far distance.Said a wise old man: "It is an omen. Odysseus will return, and woe will come upon the wooers. Let us make an end of these evil doings and keep harm away from us."
"Go home, old man," angrily mocked the wooers. "Prophesy to thine own children. Odysseus is dead. Would that thou hadst died with him. Then thou couldst not have babbled nonsense, and tried to hound on Telemachus in the hope that he may give thee a gift."To Telemachus they said again: "We will go on wasting thy goods until Penelope weds one of us."
Only one other beside the old man was brave enough to speak for Telemachus. Fearlessly and nobly did his friend [pg 124] Mentor blame the wooers for their shamelessness. But they jeered at him, and laughed aloud when Telemachus told them he was going to take a ship and go to look for his father."He will never come back," said one, "and even were Odysseus himself to return, we should slay him when he came." Then the council meeting broke up, and the wooers went again to revel in the palace of Odysseus. Down to the seashore went Telemachus and knelt where the gray water broke in little white wavelets on the sand.
"Hear me," he cried, "thou who didst speak with me yesterday. I know now that thou art a god. Tell me, I pray thee? how shall I find a ship to sail across the misty sea and find my father? For there is none to help me."
Swiftly, in answer to his cry, came Athene.
"Be brave. Be thy father's son," she said. "Go back to thy house and get ready corn and wine for the voyage. I will choose the best of all the ships in Ithaca for thee, and have her launched, and manned by a crew, all of them willing men."Then Telemachus returned to the palace. In the courtyard the wooers were slaying goats and singeing swine and making ready a great feast. "Here comes Telemachus, who is planning to destroy us," they mocked. "Telemachus, who speaks so proudly—- angry Telemachus." Said one youth:
"Who knows but what if he goes on a voyage he will be like Odysseus, and never return. Then will we have all his riches to divide among ourselves, and his house will belong to the man who weds Penelope."
Telemachus shook off the jeering crowd, and went down to the vaulted chamber where his father's treasures were kept. Gold and bronze lay there in piles, and there were great boxes of splendid clothes, and casks of wine. The heavy folding doors of the treasure chamber were shut day and night, and the old nurse was the keeper of the treasures.Telemachus bade her get ready corn and wine for the voyage. "When my mother has gone to rest I will take them away," he said, "for this night I go to seek my father across the sea." [pg 125] At this the old nurse began to cry.
"Do not go, dear child," she wailed. "Thou art our only one, and we love thee so well. Odysseus is dead, and what canst thou do, sailing far away across the deep sea? As soon as thou art gone, those wicked men will begin to plot evil against thee. Do not go. Do not go. There is no need for thee to risk thy life on the sea and go wandering far from home."
"Take heart, nurse," said Telemachus. "The goddess Athene has told me to go, so all will be well. But promise me not to tell my dear mother that I am gone until she misses me. For I do not wish to mar her fair face with tears."The nurse promised, and began to make ready all that Telemachus wished.
Meantime Athene, in the likeness of Telemachus, found a swift-sailing ship, and men to sail it. When darkness fell, she sent sleep on the wooers and led Telemachus down to the shore where his men sat by their oars.
To the palace, where every one slept and all was still and quiet, Telemachus brought his men. None but the old nurse knew he was going away, but they found the food and wine that she had got ready and carried it down to the ship. Then Athene went on board, and Telemachus sat beside her. A fresh west wind filled the sails and went singing over the waves. The dark water surged up at the bow as the ship cut through it. And all night long and till the dawn, the ship sailed happily on her way.
At sunrise they came to land, and Athene and Telemachus went on shore. The rulers of the country welcomed them and treated them well, but could tell nothing of Odysseus after the siege of Troy was over. Athene gave Telemachus into their care, then, turning herself into a sea-eagle, she flew swiftly away, leaving them amazed because they knew she must be one of the gods.
While Telemachus sought for news of his father in this kingdom, and the kingdoms near it, the wooers began to miss him at their feasts. They fancied he was away hunting, until, one day, as they played games in front of the palace, the man whose ship Athene had borrowed came to them."When will Telemachus return with my ship?" he asked. [pg 126] "I need it that I may cross over to where I keep my horses. I wish to catch one and break him in." When the wooers heard from him that Telemachus had sailed away with twenty brave youths, in the swiftest ship in Ithaca, they were filled with rage. At once they got a ship and sailed to where they might meet Telemachus in a strait between Ithaca and another rocky island. "We will slay him there," said they. "We will give him a woful end to his voyage in search of his father."
When Penelope heard this, and knew that her son was perhaps sailing to his doom, her heart well-nigh broke. She wept bitterly, and reproached her maidens with not having told her that Telemachus had gone.
"Slay me if thou wilt," said the old nurse, "but I alone knew it. Telemachus made me promise not to tell thee, that thy fair face might not be marred by weeping. Do not fear, the goddess Athene will take care of him."
Thus she comforted her mistress, and although she lay long awake that night, Penelope fell asleep at last. In her dreams Athene came to her and told her that Telemachus would come safely home, and so Penelope's sad heart was cheered.
While she slept the wooers sailed away in a swift, black ship, with spears in their hands and murder in their hearts. On a little rocky isle they landed until the ship of Telemachus should pass, and there they waited, that they might slay him when he came.II
While yet Telemachus sought news of his father, Odysseus was well-nigh home. On that misty morning when he found himself in Ithaca, and did not know it, because the gray fog made everything seem strange and unfriendly, Odysseus was very sad as he sat beside the moaning sea.
Then came Athene, and drove the mist before her, and [pg 127] Odysseus saw again the land that he loved, and knew that his wanderings were past. She told him the tale of the wooers, and of the unhappiness of Penelope and Telemachus, and the heart of Odysseus grew hot within him."Stand by me!" he said to the goddess. "If thou of thy grace wilt help me, I myself will fight three hundred men." "Truly I will stand by thee," said Athene, "and many of the greedy wooers shall stain the earth with their blood."
She then told Odysseus how the wooers were to be destroyed, and Odysseus gladly agreed to her plans. First she made him hide far in the darkness of the cave, under the olive-tree, all the gold and bronze ornaments and beautiful clothes that had been given to him in the land of Nausicaa.
Then she touched him with her golden wand. In a moment his yellow hair fell off his head; his bright eyes were dim; his skin was withered and wrinkled, and he had a stooping back and tottering legs like a feeble old man. His clothes of purple and silver she changed into torn and filthy old rags, and over his shoulders she threw the old skin of a stag with the hair worn off.
"Go now," said Athene, "to where thy faithful swineherd sits on the hill, watching his swine as they grub among the acorns and drink of the clear spring. He has always been true to thee and to thy wife and son. Stay with him and hear all that he has to tell, and I will go and fetch home Telemachus.""When thou didst know all, why didst thou not tell Telemachus?" asked Odysseus. "Is he, too, to go wandering over stormy seas, far from his own land?" "Telemachus will be a braver man for what he has gone through," said Athene. "No harm shall come to him, although the wooers in their black ship wait to slay him."
Then Athene flew across the sea, and Odysseus climbed up a rough track through the woods to where the swineherd had built himself a hut. The hut was made of stones and thorn-branches, and beside it were sties for the swine made in the same way. The wooers had eaten many swine at their daily feasts, but thousands remained. These the swineherd tended, with three men and four fierce dogs to help him.[pg 128]
At an open space on the hill, from whence he could look down at the woods and the sea, Odysseus found the swineherd sitting at the door of his hut making himself a pair of sandals out of brown ox-hide.
When the swineherd's dogs saw a dirty, bent old man toiling up the hill, they rushed at him, barking furiously. Up they leapt on him and would have torn him to pieces if their master had not cast away his ox-hide, dashed after them, scolded them and beaten them, and then driven them off with showers of stones.
"If my dogs had killed thee I should have been for ever ashamed," he said to Odysseus, "and without that I have enough sorrow. For while my noble master may be wandering in a strange land and lacking food, I have to feed his fat swine for others to eat."
So speaking, he led Odysseus to his hut. He laid some brushwood on the floor, spread over it the soft, shaggy skin of a wild goat, and bade Odysseus be seated. Then he went out to the sties, killed two sucking pigs, and roasted them daintily. When they were ready he cut off the choicest bits and gave them to Odysseus, with a bowl of honey-sweet wine.While Odysseus ate and drank, the swineherd talked to him of the greed and wastefulness of the wooers, and in silence Odysseus listened, planning in his heart how he might punish them. "Tell me thy master's name," he said at length. "I have traveled in many lands. Perchance I may have seen him, and may give thee news of him." But the swineherd answered:
"Each vagrant who comes straying to the land of Ithaca goes to my mistress with lying tales of how he has seen or heard of my master. She receives them all kindly, and asks many questions, while tears run down her cheeks. You, too, old man, would quickly make up a story if any one would give thee some new clothes. My master is surely dead, and wherever I may go I shall never again find a lord so gentle."Then said Odysseus: "My friend, I swear to thee that Odysseus shall return. [pg 129] In this year, as the old moon wanes and the new is born, he shall return to his home."
When the other herds returned that evening they found Odysseus and their master still deep in talk. At night the swineherd made a feast of the best that he had, and still they talked, almost until dawn. The night was black and stormy, and a drenching rain blotted out the moon, but the swineherd, leaving Odysseus lying in the bed he had made for him, with his own thick mantle spread over him, went outside and lay under a rock that sheltered him from the storm, keeping guard on the white-tusked boars that slept around him. And Odysseus knew that he had still at least one servant who was faithful and true.
While Odysseus dwelt with the swineherd, Athene sought Telemachus and bade him hasten home. Speedily Telemachus went back to his ship and his men. The hawsers were loosed, the white sail hauled up, and Athene sent a fresh breeze that made the ship cut through the water like a white-winged bird. It was night when they passed the island where the wooers awaited their coming, and in the darkness none saw them go by.
By daybreak they reached Ithaca, and Telemachus, as Athene had bidden him, sent on the men to the harbor with the ship, but made them put him ashore on the woody coast near the swineherd's dwelling.
With his bronze-shod spear in his hand, Telemachus strode up the rocky path. Odysseus and the swineherd had kindled a fire, and were preparing the morning meal, when Odysseus heard the noise of footsteps. He looked out and saw a tall lad with yellow hair and bright eyes, and a fearless, noble face. "Surely here is a friend," he said to the swineherd. "Thy dogs are not barking, but jump up and fawn on him."The swineherd looked, and when he saw his young master he wept for joy. "I thought I should never see thee more, sweet light of my eyes," he said. "Come into my hut, that I may gladden my heart with the sight of thee."
He then spread before him the best he had, and the three [pg 130] men ate together. Although Odysseus seemed only a poor, ragged, old beggar, Telemachus treated him with such gentleness and such courtesy that Odysseus was proud and glad of his noble son. Soon Telemachus sent the swineherd to tell Penelope of his safe return, and while he was gone Athene entered the hut. She made herself invisible to Telemachus, but beckoned to Odysseus to go outside."The time is come for thee to tell thy son who thou art," she said, and touched him with her golden wand. At once Odysseus was again a strong man, dressed in fine robes, and radiant and beautiful as the sun. When he went back into the hut Telemachus thought he was a god. "No god am I," said Odysseus; "I am thy father, Telemachus."
And Odysseus took his son in his arms and kissed him, and the tears that he had kept back until now ran down his cheeks. Telemachus flung his arms round his father's neck, and he, too, wept like a little child, so glad was he that Odysseus had come home.All day they spoke of the wooers and plotted how to slay them.
When the swineherd returned, and Athene had once more changed Odysseus into an old beggarman, he told Telemachus that the wooers had returned, and were so furious with Telemachus for escaping from them, that they were going to kill him next day.At this Telemachus smiled to his father, but neither said a word. Next morning Telemachus took his spear and said to the swineherd: "I go to the palace to see my mother. As for this old beggar-man, lead him to the city, that he may beg there." And Odysseus, still pretending to be a beggar, said:
"It is better to beg in the town than in the fields. My garments are very poor and thin, and this frosty air chills me; but as soon as I am warmed at the fire and the sun grows hot, I will gladly set out."[pg 131]
Down the hill to the city strode Telemachus. When he came to the palace, his old nurse, whom he found busy in the hall, wept for joy. And when Penelope heard his voice, she came from her room and cast her arms round him and kissed his face and his eyes, and said, while tears ran down her cheeks:"Thou art come, sweet light of my eyes. I thought I should never see thee more."
Then Telemachus, looking like a young god, with his spear in his hand and his two hounds following at his heels, went to the hall where the wooers sat. To his friend Mentor he told his adventures, but he looked on the wooers with silence and scorn.
Soon Odysseus and the swineherd followed him to the city. A beggar's bag, all tattered, was slung round the shoulders of Odysseus. In his hand he carried a staff. Men who saw him, tattered and feeble, mocked at him and his guide. But Odysseus kept down the anger in his heart, and they went on to the palace. Near the doorway, lying in the dirt, thin and old and rough of coat, lay Argos, the dog that long ago had been the best and fleetest that had hunted the hares and deer with Odysseus.
When he heard his master's voice he wagged his tail and tried to crawl near him. But he was too feeble to move. He could only look up with loving, wistful eyes that were almost blind, and thump his tail gladly. So glad was he that his faithful heart broke for joy, and before Odysseus could pat his head or speak a kind word to him, old Argos rolled over dead.
There were tears in the eyes of Odysseus as he walked past the body of his friend. He sat down on the threshold leaning on his staff, and when Telemachus sent him bread and meat from his table he ate hungrily. When the meal was over he went round the hall begging from the wooers. Some gave him scraps of broken meats, others called him hard names and bade him begone, and one of them seized a footstool and struck him with it.But Odysseus still kept down the anger in his heart, and went back to his seat on the threshold with his beggar's bag full of the scraps that had been given to him. [pg 132] As he sat there, a common beggar, well known for his greed and impudence, came to the palace. "Get thee hence, old man," said he to Odysseus, "else I shall knock all thy teeth from thy head."
More, too, he said, rudely and roughly, and at last he struck Odysseus. Then Odysseus could bear no more, and smote him such a blow on his neck that the bones were broken, and he fell on the ground with blood gushing from his mouth. Odysseus dragged him outside by the heels, and propped him, with his staff in his hands, against the courtyard wall."Sit there," he said, "and scare off dogs and swine."
The wooers laughed and enjoyed the sport, and gave gifts of food to the sturdy old beggar, as they took Odysseus to be. All evening they feasted and drank, but when night fell they went to their own homes.When they were gone Odysseus and Telemachus carried all the helmets and swords and sharppointed spears that stood in the hall, away to the armory and hid them there.
Then Telemachus went to his room to rest, but Odysseus sat in the hall where the servants were clearing away the remains of the feast. While he sat there, Penelope came with her maids and rested on a chair In front of the glowing wood fire on which the servants had piled fresh logs.She talked kindly and gently to the old beggar-man, and bade the old nurse bring water to wash his weary feet.
Now, once long ago, a wild boar that he hunted had torn the leg of Odysseus with his tusk, and as the old nurse washed his feet she saw the scar. In a moment she knew her master, and cried out. The brazen bath fell with a clang on the floor, and the water was spilt."Thou art Odysseus," she said; "I did not know thee, my dear child, until I found the scar."
Penelope must have heard her glad cry, had not Athene at that moment made her deep in thoughts of other things. Quickly Odysseus bade the old nurse be silent, and the old woman obeyed him.
Before Penelope went to rest she said sadly to Odysseus: [pg 133] "I feel that the end is drawing near. Soon I shall be parted from the house of Odysseus. My husband, who was always the best and bravest, used to set up the twelve axes ye see standing here, and between each axe he shot an arrow. I have told the wooers that I shall marry whichever one of them can do the like. Then I shall leave this house, which must be for ever most dear to me."Then answered the old beggar-man: "Odysseus will be here when they shoot. It will be Odysseus who shoots between the axes."
Penelope, longing for his words to be true, went up to her room and lay crying on her bed until her pillows were wet. Then Athene sent sleep upon her eyelids and made her forget all her sorrows.Odysseus, too, would have tossed all night wide awake, with a heart full of anger and revenge, had not Athene gently laid her hands on his eyes and made him fall asleep.
Next day the wooers came to the palace, and with rough jest and rude word they greeted Odysseus.
"Who harms this man must fight with me," said Telemachus, and at that the wooers shouted with laughter.
"I see your hands and knees shrouded in blackness! I see your cheeks wet with tears! The walls and the pillars drip blood; the porch is full of shadows, and pale ghosts are hastening out of the gray mist that fills the palace."At this the wooers laughed the more, for they thought the man was mad. But, as in a dream, he had seen truly what was to come to pass.
Weeping, Penelope then brought forth from the armory the great bow with which Odysseus had shot in years that were past. Her heart was full of love for Odysseus, and she could not bear to wed another.Telemachus then threw aside his red cloak and ranged out the bronze axes. One by one the wooers tried to move the great bow and make it drive a swift arrow before it. One by one they failed. [pg 134]
And when it seemed as if no man there was strong enough to move it, Odysseus took it in his hands, and between each axe he shot an arrow. When the last arrow was shot he tore off his rags, and in a voice that rang through the palace he cried to Telemachus: "Now is it time to prepare supper for the wooers! Now, at last, is this terrible trial ended. I go to shoot at another mark!"With that he shot an arrow at the wooer who had ever been the most insolent and the most cruel. It smote him in the throat, his blood dripped red on the ground, and he fell dead. The others gave a great cry of rage, but Odysseus looked at them with burning eyes, and with a voice that made them tremble he cried: "Ye dogs! ye said I should never return, and, like the traitors ye are, ye have wasted my goods and insulted my queen. But now death has come for you, and none shall escape."
In vain did the cowards, their faces pale with fear, beg for mercy. Mercy there was none that day. It was useless for those who drew their swords and rushed on Odysseus to try to slay him, for ere their swords could touch him, his bow had driven sharp arrows into their hearts.
One of the servants of the palace treacherously climbed into the armory and brought spears and shields and helmets for the wooers. But even that did not daunt Odysseus and his son. Telemachus, with his spear, slew man after man. When his arrows were done Odysseus also snatched a spear, and they fought side by side. Beside them fought the swineherd and one other man, and they all fought the more fearlessly because, all the time, Athene put fresh courage in their hearts.
There were four men to very many others when that fight began. When it was ended the floor ran with blood, and Odysseus, like a lion at bay, stood with the dead bodies of the wooers piled in heaps around him and his face and hands stained with blood.
At first Penelope would not believe her. Too good did it seem to be true. Even when she came down and saw Odysseus leaning against a tall pillar in the light of the fire, she would not believe what her own eyes saw."Surely, mother, thy heart is as hard as stone," said Telemachus. "Dost thou not know my father?" But Penelope saw only a ragged beggar-man, soiled with the blood of the men he had slain, old and ugly and poor.
Then Athene shed her grace upon Odysseus, and once more he was tall and strong and gallant to look upon, with golden hair curling like hyacinth flowers around his head. And Penelope ran to him and threw out her arms, and they held each other close and wept together like those who have suffered shipwreck, and have been tossed for long by angry seas, and yet have won safely home at last.And when the sun went down that night on the little rocky island of Ithaca in the far seas, the heart of Odysseus was glad, for he knew that his wanderings were ended. [pg 136]
Long, long ago, before even your grandfather's father was born, there lived in the town of York a boy whose name was Robinson Crusoe. Though he never even saw the sea till he was quite a big boy, he had always wanted to be a sailor, and to go away in a ship to visit strange, foreign, faroff lands; and he thought that if he could only do that, he would be quite happy.
But his father wanted him to be a lawyer, and he often talked to Robinson, and told him of the terrible things that might happen to him if he went away, and how people who stopped at home were always the happiest. He told him, too, how Robinson's brother had gone away, and had been killed in the wars.
So Robinson promised at last that he would give up wanting to be a sailor. But in a few days the longing came back as bad as ever, and he asked his mother to try to coax his father to let him go just one voyage. But his mother was very angry, and his father said, "If he goes abroad he will be the most miserable wretch that ever was born. I can give no consent to it."
Robinson stopped at home for another year, till he was nineteen years old, all the time thinking and thinking of the sea. But one day when he had gone on a visit to Hull, a big town by the sea, to say good-by to one of his friends who was going to London, he could not resist the chance. Without even [pg 137] sending a message to his father and mother, he went on board his friend's ship, and sailed away.
But as soon as the wind began to blow and the waves to rise, poor Robinson was very frightened and seasick, and he said to himself that if ever he got on shore he would go straight home and never again leave it.
He was very solemn till the wind stopped blowing. His friend and the sailors laughed at him, and called him a fool, and he very soon forgot, when the weather was fine and the sun shining, all he had thought about going back to his father and mother.
But in a few days, when the ship had sailed as far as Yarmouth Roads on her way to London, they had to anchor, and wait for a fair wind. In those days there were no steamers, and vessels had only their sails to help them along; so if it was calm, or the wind blew the wrong way, they had just to wait where they were till a fair wind blew.
While they lay at Yarmouth the weather became very bad, and there was a great storm. The sea was so heavy and Robinson's ship was in such danger, that at last they had to cut away the masts in order to ease her and to stop her from rolling so terribly. The Captain fired guns to show that his ship wanted help. So a boat from another ship was lowered, and came with much difficulty and took off Robinson and all the crew, just before their vessel sank; and they got ashore at last, very wet and miserable, having lost all their clothes except what they had on.But Robinson had some money in his pocket, and he went on to London by land, thinking that if he returned home now, people would laugh at him.
In London he made friends with a ship's captain, who had not long before come home from a voyage to the Guinea Coast, as that part of Africa was then called; and the Captain was so pleased with the money he had made there, that he easily persuaded Robinson to go with him on his next voyage.
So Robinson took with him toys, and beads, and other things, to sell to the natives in Africa, and he got there, in exchange for these things, so much gold-dust that he thought he was soon going in that way to make his fortune.[pg 138] And therefore he went on a second voyage.
But this time he was not so lucky, for before they reached the African coast, one morning, very early, they sighted another ship, which they were sure was a pirate. So fast did this other vessel sail, that before night she had come up to Robinson's ship, which did not carry nearly so many men nor so many guns as the pirate, and which therefore did not want to fight; and the pirates soon took prisoner Robinson and all the crew of his ship who were not killed, and made slaves of them.
The pirate captain took Robinson as his own slave, and made him dig in his garden and work in his house. Sometimes, too, he made him look after his ship when she was in port, but he never took him away on a voyage.For two years Robinson lived like this, very unhappy, and always thinking how he might escape.
At last, when the Captain happened one time to be at home longer than usual, he began to go out fishing in a boat two or three times a week, taking Robinson, who was a very good fisher, and a black boy named Xury, with him.
One day he gave Robinson orders to put food and water, and some guns, and powder and shot, on a big boat that the pirates had taken out of an English ship, and to be ready to go with him and some of his friends on a fishing trip.
But at the last moment the Captain's friends could not come, and so Robinson was told to go out in the boat with one of the Captain's servants who was not a slave, and with Xury, to catch fish for supper.Then Robinson thought that his chance to escape had come.
He spoke to the servant, who was not very clever, and persuaded him to put more food and water on the boat, for, said Robinson, "we must not take what was meant for our master." And then he got the servant to bring some more powder and shot, because, Robinson said, they might as well kill some birds to eat.
When they had gone out about a mile, they hauled down the sail and began to fish. But Robinson pretended that he could not catch anything there, and he said that they ought to go further out. When they had gone so far that nobody on shore [pg 139] could see what they were doing, Robinson again pretended to fish. But this time he watched his chance, and when the servant was not looking, came behind him and threw him overboard, knowing that the man could swim so well that he could easily reach the land.Then Robinson sailed away with Xury down the coast to the south. He did not know to what country he was steering, but cared only to get away from the pirates, and to be free once more.
Long days and nights they sailed, sometimes running in close to the land, but they were afraid to go ashore very often, because of the wild beasts and the natives. Many times they saw great lions come roaring down on to the beach, and once Robinson shot one that he saw lying asleep, and took its skin to make a bed for himself on the boat.
At last, after some weeks, when they had got south as far as the great cape that is called Cape Verde, they saw a Portuguese vessel, which took them on board. It was not easy for Robinson to tell who he was, because he could not talk Portuguese, but everybody was very kind to him, and they bought his boat and his guns and everything that he had. They even bought poor Xury, who, of course, was a black slave, and could be sold just like a horse or a dog.
So, when they got to Brazil, where the vessel was bound, Robinson had enough money to buy a plantation; and he grew sugar and tobacco there for four years, and was very happy and contented for a time, and made money.
But he could never be contented for very long. So when some of his neighbors asked him if he would go in a ship to the Guinea Coast to get slaves for them, he went, only making a bargain that he was to be paid for his trouble, and to get some of the slaves to work on his plantation when he came back.
Twelve days after the ship sailed, a terrible storm blew, and they were driven far from where they wanted to go. Great, angry, foaming seas broke over the deck, sweeping everything off that could be moved, and a man and a boy were carried overboard and drowned. No one on the ship expected to be saved.This storm was followed by another, even worse. The wind [pg 140] howled and roared through the rigging, and the weather was thick with rain and flying spray.
Then early one morning land was dimly seen through the driving rain, but almost at once the vessel struck on a sand-bank. In an instant the sails were blown to bits, and flapped with such uproar that no one could hear the Captain's orders. Waves poured over the decks, and the vessel bumped on the sand so terribly that the masts broke off near the deck, and fell over the side into the sea.
With great difficulty the only boat left on the ship was put in the water, and everybody got into her. They rowed for the shore, hoping to get perhaps into some bay, or to the mouth of a river, where the sea would be quiet.
But before they could reach the land, a huge gray wave, big like the side of a house, came foaming and thundering up behind them, and before any one could even cry out, it upset the boat, and they were all left struggling in the water.
Robinson was a very good swimmer, but no man could swim in such a sea, and it was only good fortune that brought him at last safely to land. Big wave after big wave washed him further and further up the beach, rolling him over and over, once leaving him helpless, and more than half drowned, beside a rock.But before the next wave could come up, perhaps to drag him back with it into the sea, he was able to jump up and run for his life. And so he got safely out of the reach of the water, and lay down upon the grass. But of all on board the ship, Robinson was the only one who was not drowned. II
When he had rested a little, Robinson got up and began to walk about very sadly, for darkness was coming on; he was wet, and cold, and hungry, and he did not know where to sleep, because he was afraid of wild beasts coming out of the woods and killing him during the night.[pg 141]
But he found that he still had his knife in his pocket, so he cut a big stick to protect himself with. Then he climbed into a tree which had very thick leaves, and there he fixed himself among the branches as well as he could, and fell sound asleep.
In the morning when he awoke, the storm was past, and the sea quieter. To his surprise, he saw that the ship had been carried in the night, by the great seas, much nearer to the shore than she had been when the boat left her, and was now lying not far from the rock where Robinson had first been washed up.
By midday the sea was quite calm, and the tide had gone so far out that he could walk very near to the ship. So he took off his clothes and swam the rest of the way to her. But it was not easy to get on board, because the ship was resting on the sand, and lay so high out of the water that Robinson could not reach anything by which he could pull himself up.At last, after swimming twice round the vessel, he saw a rope hanging over, near the bow, and by its help he climbed on board.
Everything in the stern of the ship was dry, and in pretty good order, and the water had not hurt the provisions much. So he took some biscuits, and ate them as he looked about, and drank some rum, and then he felt better, and stronger, and more fit to begin work.
First of all, he took a few large spars of wood, and a spare topmast or two, that were on the deck. These he pushed overboard, tying each with a rope to keep it from drifting away. Then he went over the side of the ship, and tied all the spars together so as to make a raft, and on top he put pieces of plank across. But it was long before he could make the raft fit to carry the things he wanted to take on shore.
At last, after much hard work, he got on to it three of the seamen's chests, which he had broken open, and emptied, and he filled these with bread, and rice, and cheese, and whatever he could find to eat, and with all sorts of things that he thought he might need. He found, too, the carpenter's tool-chest, and put it on the raft; and nothing on the whole ship was of more use to him than that.Then he set about looking for clothes, for while he had been [pg 142] on the ship, the tide had risen and had washed away his coat and waistcoat and shirt, which he had left lying on the sand. Guns and pistols also, and powder and shot, he took, and two rusty old cutlasses.
Now the trouble was to reach land, for the raft had no mast nor sail nor rudder, and was too heavy and clumsy to be pulled by Robinson with the broken oars that he had found. But the tide was rising, and slowly she drifted nearer and nearer, and at last was carried up the mouth of a little river which Robinson had not seen when he was on shore.
There was a strong tide running up, which once carried the raft against a point of land, where she stuck for a time, and very nearly upset all the things into deep water. But as the tide rose higher, Robinson was able to push her into a little bay where the water was shallow and the ground beneath flat, and when the tide went out there she was left high and dry, and he got everything safely ashore.
The next thing that Robinson did was to climb a hill, that he might see what sort of country he was in, and find out if there were any other people in it. But when he got to the top, he saw to his sorrow that he was on an island, with no other land in sight except some rocks, and two smaller islands far over the sea. There were no signs of any people, and he saw nothing living except great numbers of birds, one of which he shot. But it was not fit to eat, being some kind of hawk.After this, with the chests and boards that he had brought on shore, he made a kind of hut to sleep in that night, and he lay there on the sand very comfortably.
Day by day now for some time Robinson swam out to the ship, and made fresh rafts, loading them with many stores, powder and shot, and lead for bullets, seven muskets, a great barrel of bread, three casks of rum, a quantity of flour, some grain, a box of sugar, sails and ropes and twine, bags of nails, and many hatchets. With one of the sails he made himself a good tent, in which he put everything that could be spoiled by rain or sun. Around it he piled all the casks and other heavy things, so that no wild beast could very easily get at him.
In about a fortnight the weather changed; it blew very hard [pg 143] one night, and in the morning the ship had broken up, and was no more to be seen. But that did not so much matter, for Robinson had got out of her nearly everything that he could use.
Now Robinson thought it time to find some better place for his tent. The land where it then stood was low and near the sea, and the only water he could get to drink tasted rather salt. Looking about, he found a little plain, about a hundred yards across, on the side of a hill, and at the end of the plain was a great rock partly hollowed out, but not so as quite to make a cave. Here he pitched his tent, close to the hollow place in the rock. Round in front of the tent he drove two rows of strong stakes, about eighteen inches apart, sharpened at top; and he made this fence so strong that when it was finished he was sure that nothing could get at him, for he left no door, but climbed in and out by a ladder, which he always hauled up after him.
Before closing up the end, Robinson hauled inside this fence all his stores, his food and his guns, his powder and shot, and he rigged inside a double tent, so better to keep off the hot sun and the rain.
Then he began to dig into the rock, which was not very hard, and soon behind his tent he had a cave in which he thought it wise to stow his gunpowder, about one hundred and forty pounds in all, packed in small parcels; for, he thought, if a big thunderstorm were to come, a flash of lightning might explode it all, and blow him to bits, if he kept the whole of it in his tent.
Robinson was now very comfortable, and as he had saved from the wreck two cats and a dog, he did not feel quite so lonely. He had got, also, ink and pens and paper, so that he could keep a diary; and he set up a large wooden cross, on which he cut with his knife the date of his landing on the island— September 30, 1659; and every day he cut a notch on the post, with a longer one each Sunday, so that he might always know how the months and years passed.As for food, he found that there were many goats on the island, and numbers of pigeons, and he had no difficulty in shooting as many as he needed.
But now he saw that his tent and cave were too small for all the things he had stowed in them, so he began to make the cave [pg 144] bigger, bringing out all the rock and soil that he cut down, and making with it a kind of terrace round the inside of his stockade. And as he was sure that there were no wild beasts on the island to harm him, he went on tunneling to the right hand till he broke through the rock outside his fence.
Then he began to hang things up against the side of the cave, and he even made shelves, and a door for the outside entrance. This was a very difficult job, and took him a long time; for, to make a board, he was forced to cut down a whole tree, and chop away with his axe till one side was flat, and then cut at the other side till the board was thin enough, when he smoothed it with his adze. But in this way, out of each tree he would only get one plank. He made for himself also a table and a chair, and finally got his castle, as he called it, in very good order.
With all his care, however, there was one thing that he forgot, and that was, when he had made the cave so much bigger, to prop it, so as to keep the roof from falling in. And so one day he got a terrible fright, and was nearly killed, by a huge bit of the soft rock which fell and buried many of his things. It took weeks of hard work afterwards to clear away the fallen rubbish, and to cut beams strong enough to prop the roof.
Every day, all this time, he used to climb up the hill and look around over the lonely waters, hoping, always hoping, that some morning he might see the sails of a ship that would take him home. But none ever came, and sometimes the tears ran down his cheeks because of the sorrow he felt at being so utterly alone. At times even, he thought in his misery that if he only had any kind of a boat, it would be better to sail away, and chance reaching other land, rather than to stop where he was. By and by, however, he grew less unhappy, for he had plenty of work to do.III
Now about this time, when Robinson had been some months on the island, heavy and constant rain began to fall, and sometimes [pg 145] weeks would pass without a single dry day. He found that instead of there being spring, summer, autumn, and winter, as in England, the seasons in his island were divided into the wet and the dry. There was no cold weather, no winter. It chanced that just before this first rain began, Robinson had emptied out some refuse from bags which had once held rice, and other grain, and he had forgotten all about having emptied them. So he was very much astonished to find, some time afterwards, both barley and rice growing near his tent, in the shade of the rock. The ears, when ripe, he kept to sow again, and from this very small beginning, in the course of a few seasons, he had a great quantity of grain, both for food and for sowing. But this meant every year much hard work, for he had no plow nor harrow, and all the ground had to be dug with a clumsy spade, made from a very hard, heavy wood that grew on the island.
At first Robinson could not grind the grain that he grew, nor make bread from it. If he could have found a large stone, slightly hollow on top, he might, by pounding the grain on it with another round stone, have made very good meal. But all the stones he could find were too soft, and in the end he had to make a sort of mill of hard wood, in which he burnt a hollow place, and on that he pounded the grain into meal with a heavy stick.
Baking he did by building a big fire, then raking away the ashes, and putting the dough on the hot place, covered with a kind of basin made of clay, over which he heaped the red ashes. In this way very good bread can be made.
Before the rainy season was over, and just after he had finished the fence round his tent, one day when Robinson was at work in the cave, all of a sudden the earth began to fall from the roof, and the strong props he had put in cracked in a way which frightened him terribly. At the same time there was a curious moaning, rumbling noise, that he could not understand. He rushed out, and so afraid was he that the roof was falling in, and that he should be buried, that he got over the fence and began to run.But he was even more frightened when he found that all the ground was shaking. Then he knew that this was an earthquake. [pg 146]
Three times there came violent shocks; a huge rock about half a mile away fell with a great noise like thunder, and the sea was churned up as if by a whirlwind. Robinson was sick with the movement of the ground, and trembling with the dread of being swallowed by the earth as it cracked and gaped; and after the noise and shaking were over, he was too frightened to go back to his tent, but sat where he was, all the time expecting another shock.
Suddenly a furious wind began to blow, tearing up trees by the roots, and lashing the water till nothing could be seen but foam and flying spray. The air was full of branches and leaves torn off by the hurricane, and birds in hundreds were swept helpless out to sea. In about three hours, as suddenly as it had begun, the wind fell, and there was a dead calm, followed by rain such as Robinson had never before seen, which soaked him to the skin, and forced him to return to the cave, where he sat in great fear.
For long after this he was very uneasy, and made up his mind to shift his quarters as soon as he could find a better place for his tent. But the earthquake had one good result, for what remained of the wreck was again thrown up by the sea, and Robinson got more things out of it which were useful to him, and for days he worked hard at that. One day, too, when he was on his way to the remains of the ship, he came on a large turtle, which he killed, and this gave him plenty of good food, for besides the flesh, there were, inside the animal, many eggs, which she had come to the shore to lay in the sand, as is the habit of turtles, and which Robinson thought were even better than hen's eggs.
Now a few days after he had got so wet in the heavy rain, though the weather was hot, Robinson felt very cold and shivery, and had pains all over his body, and at night he dreamed terrible dreams. The following day, and many days, he lay very ill with fever and ague, and hardly knew what he was doing. So weak was he, that he believed he was dying, and there was no one to give him water to quench his thirst, nor to help him in any way. His only medicine was rum, in which he had soaked tobacco. It was very nasty, and made him sick, but it [pg 147] also made him sleep for more than a whole day and a night, and he woke much better, and able to walk about a little, though for a fortnight he was too weak to work. From this illness he learned not to go out more than he could help during the rainy season.
When he was again quite strong, Robinson started to explore the island better than he had yet done, and he found many things growing, of which he made great use afterwards, tobacco, sugarcane, and all manner of fruits, among them grapes, which he used to dry to raisins in the sun in great quantities.
Near the spot where the most fruit grew, he built a hut, and round it, for safety, he put a double fence made of stakes cut from some of the trees near at hand. During the next rainy season these stakes took root, and grew so fast that soon nothing of the hut could be seen from outside the hedge, and it made so good a hiding-place, that Robinson cut more stakes of the same kind, and planted them outside the fence around his first dwelling; and in a year or two that also was quite hidden from view. The twigs of this tree, too, were good for making baskets, of which he had been in great need.
When he had finished all this work, he started again to go over the rest of the island, and on his way across, from a hill, the day being very clear, he saw high land a great way off over the water, but whether it was another island, or the coast of America, he could not be sure.
When he reached the other side of his island Robinson found the beach covered with turtles in astonishing numbers, and he thought how much better off he would have been if he had been cast ashore here, for not only would the turtles have supplied him with plenty of food, but there were far more birds than on the part of the island where he had been living, and far more goats. During the journey back to his castle he caught a young parrot, which, after a long time, he taught to speak and to call him by his name. It was so long since he had heard any voice, that it was a comfort to listen even to a parrot talking.
Now, the sight which Robinson had had of the far distant land raised in him again the great longing to get away from this [pg 148] island where he had been so long alone, and he wished greatly for a boat. He went over to the remains of the boat in which he and the others had tried to come ashore when their ship struck on the sand-bank, and which had been flung far up on the beach by the sea, and he worked for weeks trying to repair her and to get her into the water. But it was all of no use; he could not move her.
Then, he thought, "I'll cut down a tree, and make a new boat." This he fancied would be easy, for he had heard how the Indians make canoes by felling a tree and burning out the inside. "If they can do it, then surely I can do it even better," he thought. So he looked about, and chose a huge tree which stood about a hundred yards from the water, and with great labor in about three weeks he had cut it down.
Four months Robinson worked at this boat, thinking all the time of what he would do when he reached the far distant land, and much pleased with himself for the beautiful boat he was making. Day after day he trimmed and shaped it, and very proud he was when it was finished and lay there on the ground, big enough to carry twenty men.
Then he started to get her into the water. But that was quite another thing. By no means in his power could he move her an inch, try as he might. She was far too big. Then he began to dig a canal from the sea to the boat; but before he had got much of that work done, he saw clearly that there was so much earth to dig away, that, without some one to help him, it must take years and years before he could get the water to the boat. So he gave it up, and left her to lie and rot in the sun and the rain—a great grief to him.IV
By the time that Robinson had been four years on the island, all his clothes had become very ragged, and he had hardly anything that could be called a hat. Clothes he must have, [pg 149] for he could not go naked without getting his skin blistered by the hot sun, and he was afraid of getting a sunstroke if he went about without a hat.
Now he had kept all the skins of the goats, and other animals, such as hares and foxes, that he had shot; and from these, after many failures, at last he made a hat and coat of goatskin, and a pair of short trousers, all with the hair outside, so as to shoot off the wet when it rained. The hat was very tall, and came to a sharp peak on top, and it had a flap which hung down the back of his neck. Robinson also, with much trouble, made of the skins an umbrella which he could open and shut; and if his clothes and his umbrella, and especially his hat, were not very good to look at, they were useful, and he could now go about in any weather.
During the next five years nothing out of the common happened, and Robinson's time was mostly taken up with the getting of food, the yearly sowing and reaping of his crops, and the curing of his raisins. But towards the end of that time he made another attempt to build a boat, and this time he made one much smaller than the first, and though it took him nearly two years to finish, in the end he got her into the sea. She was not big enough for him to try to sail in to the far-off land that he had seen, and he used her only for cruising about the shores of his own island, and for fishing. In her he fixed a little mast, on which he rigged a small sail, made from a bit of one of the old ship's sails, and, using a paddle to steer with, he found that she sailed very well. Over the stern he fixed his big umbrella, to shade him from the sun, like an awning.
Eager to go all round the island, one day Robinson put a lot of food on board, and, taking his gun, started on a voyage. All went well till he came to the east end of the island, where he found that a ledge of rocks, and beyond that a sand-bank, stretched out to sea for eight or nine miles. Robinson did not like the idea of venturing so far in a boat so small, and he therefore ran the boat ashore, and climbed a hill, to get a good view of the rocks and shoals before going near them. From the hill, he saw that a strong current was sweeping past the [pg 150] sand-bank, which showed just clear of the water, and on which the sea was breaking; but he thought there was an eddy which would swing him safely round the point, without bringing him near the breakers. However, that day and the next, there was a good deal of wind blowing in the direction contrary to the current, which, of course, raised a sea too big for a small boat, so Robinson stopped on shore where he was.
On the third day it was calm, and he set off. But no sooner had he come abreast of the sand-bank than he found himself in very deep water, with a current running like a mill-race, which carried the boat further and further away from the land, in spite of all that he could do with his paddle. There was no wind, and the sail was useless.
Now he gave himself up for lost, for the harder he worked, only the further away seemed the boat to be swept. The island was soon so far off that Robinson could hardly see it, and he was quite exhausted with the hard struggle to paddle the boat against the current. He was in despair, and giving up paddling, left the boat to drift where she would. Just then a faint puff of wind touched his cheek, and Robinson hurriedly hoisted his sail. Soon a good breeze blew, which carried him past a dangerous reef of rocks. Here the current seemed to divide, the part in which he now was began to swing round towards the island, and he plucked up heart again, and with his paddle did all he could to help the sail. Robinson felt like a man who is set free after he has been told that he must die; he could almost have wept for joy. Miles and miles he sailed, steadily getting nearer to the land, and late in the evening at last he got ashore, but on the other side of the point that he had tried to round in the morning. He drew up his boat on the shore of a little cove that he found, and when he had made her fast, so that the tide could not carry her away, there among the trees he lay down, and slept sound, quite worn out.
In the morning he again got on board, and coasted along close inshore, till he came to a bay with a little river running into it, which made a very good harbor for the boat. Here he left her, and went on foot.[pg 151]
Soon he found that he was not far from a spot that he had once before visited, and by afternoon he arrived at the hut which he called his country-house. Robinson got over the fence by the ladder, as usual, pulling it up after him, and then he lay down to rest in the shade, for he was still very weary from the hard work of the day before. Soon he fell asleep. But what was his surprise in a little time to be awakened by a voice calling, "Robin! Robin Crusoe! where are you?" At first he thought he was dreaming. But still the voice went on calling:"Where are you, Robin?"
Up he jumped, trembling with fright and wonder, for it was so long since he had heard any voice but his own that he fancied it must be something more than human that he now listened to. But no sooner had he risen than he saw, sitting on the tree near to him, his parrot, which must have flown all the way from Robinson's other house, where it had been left. It was talking away at a great rate, very excited at again seeing its master, and Robinson hardly knew whether to be more relieved or disappointed that it was only the bird that had called him.
For about a year after this Robinson kept to his own side of the island, and employed his time chiefly in working on his land, and in making dishes and pots of clay. These he had now learned to burn properly. Pipes, too, he made, and they were a great comfort to him, for he managed to cure very good tobacco from the wild plants that grew around. And as he feared lest his powder might begin to run short, he thought much over ways whereby he could trap goats for food, instead of shooting them. After many trials, the best plan, he decided, was to dig holes, which he covered with thin branches and leaves, on which he sprinkled earth, so that when anything heavy passed over, it must fall into the pit. By this means he caught many, and the kids he kept and tamed, so that in no great time he had quite a large herd of goats. These he kept in various small fields, round which from time to time he had put fences.
ROBINSON SEES A FOOTPRINT ON THE SAND, FINDS A CAVE, AND RESCUES FRIDAY
All this time Robinson had never gone near his canoe, but now the longing came on him to go over to where he had left her, though he felt that he should be afraid again to put to sea in her. This time, however, when he got to the hill from which he had watched the set of the current the day that he had been carried out to sea, he noticed that there was no current to be seen, from which he concluded that it must depend on the ebb and flow of the tide. Still, he was afraid to venture far in the canoe, though he stopped some time at his country-house, and went out sailing very often.
One day when Robinson was walking along the sand towards his boat, suddenly, close to the water, he stopped as if he had been shot, and, with thumping heart, stood staring in wonder and fear at something that he saw. The mark of a naked foot on the sand! It could not be his own, he knew, for the shape was quite different. Whose could it be?
He listened, he looked about, but nothing could he hear or see. To the top of a rising ground he ran, and looked all around. There was nothing to be seen. And though he searched everywhere on the beach for more footmarks, he found none.Whose footprint could it be? That of some man, perhaps, he thought, who might come stealing on him out from the trees, or murder him while he slept.
Back to his house he hurried, all the way in a state of terror, starting every now and again and facing round, thinking he was being followed, and fancying often that a stump or a bush was a man, waiting to spring on him. That night he slept not at all, and so shaken was his nerve that every cry of a night-bird, even every sound made by an insect or a frog, caused him to start with fear, so that the perspiration ran down his brow.
As day followed day, however, and nothing happened, Robinson began to be less uneasy in his mind, and went about [pg 153] his usual work again. But he strengthened the fence round his castle, and cut in it seven small loopholes, in which, fixed on frames, he placed loaded muskets, all ready to fire if he should be attacked. And some distance from the outside of the fence he planted a thick belt of small stakes, so that in a few years' time a perfect thicket of trees and bushes hid all trace of his dwelling.
Years passed quietly, and nothing further happened to disturb Robinson, or to make him think more of the footprint that had frightened him so much. But he kept more than formerly to the interior of the island, and lost no chance of looking for good places to hide in, if he should ever need them. And he always carried a cutlass now, as well as his gun and a couple of pistols.
One day it chanced, however, that he had gone further to the west of the island than he had ever done before, and, looking over the sea, he fancied that he saw, at a great distance, something like a boat or a long canoe, but it was so far off that he he could not be sure what it was. This made him determine that always in future he would bring with him to his lookout-place the telescope which he had saved from the wreck.
The sight of this supposed boat brought back his uneasiness to some extent, but he went on down to the beach, and there he saw a sight which filled him with horror. All about the shore were scattered men's skulls and bones, and bits of burnt flesh, and in one place were the remains of a big fire. Robinson stood aghast, feeling deadly sick. It was easy for him to know the meaning of the terrible sight. It meant that cannibals had been there, killing and eating their prisoners; for when the natives of some parts of the world go to war, and catch any of their enemies, it is their habit to build a fire, then to kill the prisoners and feast on their roasted bodies, eating till they can eat no more. Sometimes, if the man they are going to eat is too thin, they keep him, and feed him up, till they think he is fat enough.
Now Robinson knew all this, though he had never yet met any cannibals. And when he looked around he saw many bones lying about. They were so old that it seemed certain [pg 154] to him that all those years he had been living on an island which was a regular place for the natives to come to for such feasts. Then he saw what a mercy it was that he had been wrecked on the other side of the island, to which, he supposed, the cannibals never came, because the beach was not so good for them to land on.
Full of horror, Robinson hurried back to his house, and for almost two years he never again came near that part of the island where the bones lay, nor ever visited his boat. But all the time he kept thinking how he might some day kill those cannibals while they were at their feast, and perhaps save some of the poor men whom they had not yet killed.
Now one day when Robinson was down in the bottom of the valley, cutting thick branches to burn for charcoal, he cleared away some undergrowth at the foot of a great rock, in which, near the ground, there was a sort of hole, or opening. Into this hole Robinson squeezed, not very easily, and found himself in a cave of good size, high enough, at least, to stand up in. It was quite dark, of course, to him coming in from the sunlight, and he turned his back to the entrance to feel his way further in, when suddenly, from the back of the cave he saw two great fiery eyes glaring at him. His very hair bristled with fright, for he could only think that it must be the Devil at least that he saw; and through the mouth of the cave he fled with a yell.
But when he got into the bright sunshine he began to feel ashamed of his panic, and to reason with himself that what he had seen must be only his own fancy. So, taking up a big burning branch from his fire, in he went again.
Before Robinson had taken three steps he stopped, in almost as great a fright as at first. Close to him he heard a great sigh, as if of some one in pain, then a sound like a muttering, as of words that he could not understand; again another deep sigh. Cold sweat broke out all over him, and he stepped back trembling, yet determined this time not to run away.Holding his torch well over his head, he looked around, and there on the floor of the cave lay a huge old he goat, gasping for breath, dying, seemingly of mere old age. He stirred him with his toe to see if he could get him out of [pg 1 55] the cave, but the poor beast could not rise, and Robinson left him to die where he was.
Now that he had got over his fright, Robinson looked carefully about him. The cave was small, not more than twelve feet across at its widest, but he noticed at the far end another opening. This was so low down, however, that he had to creep on his hands and knees to get in, and without a better light than the burning torch, he could not see how far it went. So he made up his mind to come again.
Robinson had long before this made a good supply of very fair candles from the tallow of the goats he had killed, and next day he returned to the cave with six of these, and his tinder-box to light them with. In those days there were no matches, and men used to strike a light with a flint and steel, and tinder, which was a stuff that caught fire very easily from a spark.
Entering the cave, Robinson found, on lighting a candle, that the goat was now dead. Moving it aside, to be buried later, he went down on his hands and knees, and crawled about ten yards through the small passage, till at last he found himself in a great chamber, the roof of which was quite twenty feet high. On every side the walls reflected the light of his candle, and glittered like gold, or almost like diamonds, he thought. The floor was perfectly dry and level, even on the walls there was no damp, and Robinson was delighted with his discovery. Its only drawback was the low entrance; but, as he decided to use the cave chiefly as a place to retreat to if he should ever be attacked, that was in reality an advantage, because one man, if he had firearms could easily defend it against hundreds.
At once Robinson set about storing in it all his powder, except three or four pounds, all his lead for making bullets, and his spare guns and muskets. When moving the powder, he thought he might as well open a barrel which had drifted ashore out of the wreck 'after the earthquake, and though water had got into it, there was not a great deal of damage done, for the powder had crusted on the outside only, and in the inside there was about sixty pounds weight, quite dry and good. This, with what remained of the first lot, gave him a very large supply, enough to last all his life.[pg 156]
For more than two-and-twenty years Robinson had now been in the island, and he had grown quite used to it, and to his manner of living. If he could only have been sure that no savages would come near him, he felt almost that he would be content to spend all the rest of his days there, to die at last, as the goat he found in the cave had died, of old age.
At times, when his spirits were more than usually low, when the burden of the lonely years pressed most heavily upon him, Robinson used to think that surely if the savages could come to his land, he could go to theirs. How far did they come? Where was their country? What kind of boats had they? And so eager to go was he sometimes, that he forgot to think of what he would do when he got there, or what would become of him if he fell into the hands of the savages. His mind was utterly taken up with the one thought of getting to the mainland, and even his dreams were of little else.
One night, when he had put himself almost into a fever with the trouble of his mind, he had lain long awake, tossing and moaning, but at last he had fallen asleep. And he dreamed, not as he had usually done of late, that he was sailing to the mainland, but that as he was leaving his castle in the morning he saw on the shore two canoes and eleven savages landing, and that they had with them another man, whom they were just about to kill and eat, when suddenly the prisoner jumped up and ran for his life. And in his dream Robinson fancied that the man came running to hide in the thicket round the castle, and that thereupon he went out to help him. Then in the dream, the savage kneeled down, as if begging for mercy, and Robinson took him over the ladder into the castle, saying to himself, "Now that I've got this fellow, I can certainly go to the mainland, for he will show me what course to steer, and where to go when we land." And he woke, with the joyful feeling that now at last all was well. But when he was wide awake, and knew that it was only a dream after all, poor Robinson was more cast down than ever, and more unhappy than he had been during all the years he had lived on the island.
The dream had, however, this result; that he saw his only plan to get away was, if possible, to rescue some day one of the [pg 157] prisoners whom the cannibals were about to kill, and in time get the man to help him to navigate his canoe across the sea.
With this idea, he set himself to watch, more closely than ever he had done before, for the savages to land, and during more than a year and a half he went nearly every day to his lookoutplace, and swept the sea with his telescope, in the hope of seeing canoes coming. But none came, and Robinson was getting terribly tired of the constant watch. Still he did not give up, for he knew that sooner or later the savages would land again.
Yet many months passed, and still they did not come, till one morning, very early, almost to his surprise, he saw no fewer than five canoes hauled up on the shore on his own side of the island. The savages who had come in them were nowhere to be seen. Now, he knew that always from four to six men came in each canoe, which meant that at least twenty, and perhaps as many as thirty men had landed.
This was a greater number than he cared to face, so he kept inside his castle, in great doubt what to do, but ready to fight, in case they should attack him.
When he had waited a long time and still could hear nothing of the savages, he climbed up his ladder and got to the top of the rock, taking great care not to show himself against the skyline. Looking through his glass, he saw that there were at least thirty savages, dancing wildly round a fire.
As he looked, some of the men left the others, and going over to the canoes dragged from' them two prisoners. One of these almost at once fell forward on his face, knocked down from behind, as it seemed to Robinson, with a wooden club, and two or three of the cannibals at once cut him open to be ready for cooking, while for a moment or two they left the other prisoner standing by himself.Seeing a chance of escape, the man made a dash for his life, running with tremendous speed along the sands straight for that part of the beach near Robinson's castle.
Now this alarmed Robinson very much, for it seemed to him that the whole of the savages started after the prisoner. He could not help thinking it likely that, as in his dream, this [pg 158] man would take shelter in the thicket round the castle, in which case Robinson was likely soon to have more fighting than he would relish, for the whole body of the cannibals would be on him at once.
As he watched the poor man racing for life, however, he was relieved to see that he ran much faster than his pursuers, of whom only three continued to run after him. If he could hold out for another mile or two there was little doubt that he would escape. Between the castle and the runners was the creek up which Robinson used to run his rafts from the wreck, and when the escaped prisoner came to that, he plunged in, and though the tide was full, with less than thirty powerful strokes he reached the other side, and with long easy strides continued his run. Of the men in pursuit, two also plunged in and swam through, but less quickly than the man escaping, being more blown with running, because of what they had eaten before starting. The third man stopped altogether, and went back the way he came.
Seeing the turn things were taking, it seemed to Robinson that now had come his chance to get a servant, and he resolved to try to save the life of the man who was fleeing from the cannibals. At once he hurried down the ladder, snatched up his two guns, and running as fast as he could, got between the man and his pursuers, calling out to him at the same time to stop. The man looked back, and the sight of Robinson seemed to frighten him at first as much as did the men who were trying to catch him. But Robinson again spoke, and signed to him with his hand to come back, and in the meantime went slowly towards the other men, who were now coming near. Then, rushing at the foremost, he knocked him senseless with the butt of his gun, for it seemed to him safer not to fire, lest the noise should bring the other cannibals around.
The second man, seeing his comrade fall, hesitated, and stopped, but Robinson saw when nearer to him that the savage had in his hands a bow and arrow with which he was just about to shoot. There was then no choice but to fire first, which Robinson did, killing the man on the spot.
Thereupon the man who had been chased by the others was [pg 159] so terrified by the flash and noise of the gun, and at seeing his enemy fall dead, that he stood stock still, trembling, and it was with great difficulty that Robinson coaxed him to come near. This at last he did, stopping every few paces and kneeling down. At length, coming close to Robinson, he again knelt, kissed the ground, and taking hold of Robinson's foot, set it on his head as it rested on the sand. While this was going on, Robinson noticed that the savage whom he had knocked down had begun to move, and to come to his senses. To this he drew the attention of the man whom he had rescued, who said some words that Robinson could not understand, but which sounded pleasant to an ear that had heard no voice but his own for more than twenty-five years. Next he made a motion with his hand, as if asking for the cutlass that hung at Robinson's belt, and when the weapon was given to him he ran at his enemy, and with one clean blow cut off his head. Then, laughing, he brought the head, and laid it with the cutlass at Robinson's feet.
But what caused most wonder to the man was how the savage whom Robinson shot had been killed at so great a distance, and he went to look as the body, turning it over and over, and looking long at the wound in the breast that the bullet had made, evidently much puzzled.
Robinson then turned to go away, beckoning to the savage to follow, but the man made signs that he would bury the two bodies in the sand, so that the others might not find them if they followed. With his hands he soon scraped holes deep enough to cover the bodies, and in less than a quarter of an hour there was hardly a trace left of what had happened.
Calling him away, Robinson now took him, not to his castle, but to the cave, where he gave him food and water; and then he made signs for him to lie down and rest, pointing to a bundle of rice straw.
Soon the man was sound asleep. He was, Robinson thought, a handsome and well-made man; the muscles of his arms and back and legs showed great strength, and all his limbs were beautifully formed. As near as Robinson could guess, he was about twenty-six years of age, with a good and manly face, [pg 160] and long black hair. His nose and lips were like those of a European, and his teeth were white and even. In color he was not black, but of a sort of rich chocolate brown, the skin shining with health, and pleasant to look upon.
ROBINSON TRAINS FRIDAY, AND THEY BUILD A LARGE BOAT; THEY RESCUE TWO PRISONERS FROM THE CANNIBALS
In a little while Robinson began to speak to him, and to try to teach him things. First he made him understand that his name was to be "Friday" (that being the day of the week when Robinson had saved him from a horrible death). Then he taught him the meaning of "Yes," and "No," and to call Robinson "Master."
Friday showed great quickness in learning. He seemed to be happy and contented, and free from trouble, except that the clothes which Robinson made him wear gave him at first great discomfort, for in those warm parts of the world the natives are not used to clothes, but always go about naked.
The day following that on which Robinson had saved Friday, they went out together to see if there were any signs of the cannibals still being on the island, but it was evident that they had gone away without troubling about the two men whom Robinson had killed.
For some time Robinson did not trust Friday, and did not allow him to sleep in the same part of his castle with himself, but kept him at night in a little tent outside the fence.
Friday was quite faithful, never sulky nor lazy, but always merry, and ready to do anything that Robinson told him.
At first when they went out in the woods together, Friday was terrified each time that Robinson's gun was fired. He had never seen anything like it, and it was more than he could understand how things could be killed merely by the noise and the flash of fire.
Friday told Robinson much about his country, and about his people, who he said were Caribs. And a great way [pg 161] "beyond the moon," by which he meant to the west, he said that white men lived who had beards such as Robinson wore. These white men, he said, had killed very many natives, from which Robinson fancied that they must be Spaniards, who about that time were very cruel to the people whose countries they had taken.
Robinson asked if Friday could tell him how he might get over to where the white men lived, and Friday said it would be very easy, if they had a big canoe, and again Robinson began to make plans and to hope to escape from the island.
Some time after this Robinson and Friday chanced to be on the high hill at the east end of the island. The day was very clear. Friday gazed long over the sea, and then began to jump and dance, pointing to the dim blue coast. "There my country! See! There my people live!" he said, his eyes sparkling with joy, and an eager light on his face.
After this, for a time Robinson was not easy in his mind about Friday. He had little doubt that if he could get back to his tribe, he would soon forget all he had been taught, might even return with a hundred or two of his friends, and kill and eat his master. But in this Robinson was very unjust to Friday, who had no such thoughts in his mind as those of which he was suspected. And this Robinson soon found out. One day he asked Friday if he would not be glad to be once more in his own land."Yes" said Friday; "very glad." "Would you eat man's flesh again?" "No, never," said Friday. Then Robinson asked why he did not go back. Friday said he would go if Robinson came too.
Then Robinson, who thought if he could reach other white men, he would finally reach England, began to build a boat in which to leave the island. Together he and Friday went to work to fell a tree, and Friday soon showed that he knew far better than Robinson the kind of tree best suited for boat-making. Robinson showed him how to use tools, and in a little more than a month the boat was finished. After the boat was put into the water, Robinson was astonished at Friday's skill in paddling so large a canoe.[pg 162]
"Will she do to go over in?" he asked, and Friday, grinning, said, "Yes, even if big wind blow." But Robinson did not mean to depend on paddling, and fitted the boat with a mast, sails and rudder.
Twenty-six years had passed since Robinson came to the island, and he still went on digging and sowing. One morning he sent Friday down to the beach for a turtle. Back he came in a great hurry, crying out, "Master! Master! over yonder, one, two, three canoe." Loading his guns, Robinson gave them to Friday to carry, while he armed himself with muskets, a cutlass, and a hatchet.
Robinson knew the savages had landed on the island to kill and eat their prisoners, so he resolved to prevent them if possible. To get at the savages without being seen, they had to go nearly a mile out of their way, and being heavily laden they could not go very fast. Reaching the place, they saw, from behind a clump of bushes, the white man bound hand and foot on the sand. There was no time to lose, and their first shot killed three and wounded five of the savages. Snatching up fresh guns, both fired again, before the savages who were not hurt could get on their feet, for they were so taken by surprise, that the poor wretches hardly knew what was happening. This time only two dropped, but many more were wounded.
While Friday kept on firing, Robinson ran to the white prisoner and cut his bonds. The man said he was a Spaniard and began to thank Robinson for what he had done. Robinson handed him the cutlass and a pistol, telling him, if he had any strength left, to go and do what he could against the savages. As soon as the man got the weapons in his hands, he ran with fury at the cannibals and cut two down, and with equal fury attacked the rest. With the Spaniard to help them, Robinson and Friday were soon able to clear the place of these dreadful cannibals, many of whom jumped into the sea.
Friday advised Robinson to take a canoe and go after them lest they return with hundreds of others to avenge the death of [pg 163] their friends. So the two ran to the beach and began to shove off a canoe. But to their surprise, on the bottom of the canoe lay another prisoner, an old man, tied so hard, neck and heels, that even when his bonds were cut he could not move.
No sooner did Friday look at him and hear him speak, than he began to dance and shout and laugh, and then kneeling down, rubbed noses with the savage (which is what these folks do instead of kissing each other), and he was so excited that for some time he could not explain what was the matter. As soon as he could speak, he told Robinson that the man whom they had found was his father.Both Friday's father and the Spaniard, who was worn out with fighting, had to be carried up to the castle. No cannibals were ever again known to visit this island. VII
Soon after this Robinson had a long talk with the Spaniard, who told him how he and his comrades had been wrecked four years since, on that part of the coast where Friday's tribe lived. He said that they were well treated by the natives, but that they were put to very great straits now for want of clothes, that their powder was finished, and that they had lost all hope of ever getting back to their own country. He himself, he said, had been captured in one of the many small wars that are always taking place among the various tribes.
It struck Robinson that it might be possible for him to get these men over to his island, provided that he could be sure of their good faith, and that when they came, they did not take the island from him by treachery. It was a risk, he thought, but then, if he got so many men, it would not be difficult to build a small ship that could carry them all to England.
So he asked the Spaniard if he would promise, and if he thought he could get his comrades to take an oath that, if Robinson helped them, they would look on him as their captain, and [pg 164] would swear to obey him in all things. The Spaniard readily promised for himself, and said that he was sure his comrades would keep faith.
It was arranged, therefore, that in about six months, when the next harvest was reaped, and there would be plenty of food for so many extra men, the Spaniard and Friday's father should go over to the mainland in one of the canoes which had been taken from the savages.Meantime, all hands set about the curing of very large quantities of raisins, and much other work was done to be in readiness for the coming of these men.
When the harvest was reaped, Robinson gave the Spaniard and Friday's father each a musket and a supply of powder and bullets, and loaded the canoe with food, enough to last them and the others about a fortnight, and the two men set off for the mainland in fine weather, and with a fair wind.
It was about eight days after this, and when Robinson had begun to look out for their return, that one morning very early, when Robinson was asleep, Friday came running in, shouting, "Master! Master! They come." Up jumped Robinson, and hurrying on his clothes, ran out.
Looking towards the sea, he soon made out a sailing-boat making for the shore, coming from the south end of the island, but still some miles away. This was not the direction from which the Spaniard and his comrades would come, nor were they likely to be in a sailing-boat. So Robinson took his telescope, and went to the top of the hill to see if he could make out who were on board, before they landed.Hardly had he got on to the hill when he noticed a ship at anchor some distance from the shore. She looked like an English vessel, he thought, and the boat like an English long-boat.
This was a wonderful sight to Robinson, but yet he was not easy in his mind. It was not a part of the world where an English ship was likely to come, because in those days they were nearly all Spanish vessels that traded in these seas, and the English and Spaniards were bitter enemies. What could an English ship be doing here? There had been no storm to drive her out of her course.[pg 165] Robinson feared that if she was English there must be something wrong about her. Perhaps, he thought, she was a pirate. So he was careful not to show himself or Friday.
Presently, as he watched, he saw the men in the boat run her ashore and draw her up on the beach, about half a mile from his castle. When they had landed, he could easily see through his glass that they were Englishmen.
There were eleven men, but three of them had their hands tied behind their backs, and were evidently prisoners. When the first four or five men had jumped ashore, they brought out these three, all the while ill-treating them, and behaving as if they meant to kill their prisoners. Friday was sure that they meant to eat them.Soon, without further harming the three men, the others scattered about among the trees near the shore, leaving the three sitting on the ground very sad-looking, but with their hands now untied.
At the time the boat was run aground, it was just high-water, and the two sailors who had been left in charge of her, and who had evidently been drinking too much rum, went to sleep, and never noticed that the tide was going out. When they woke, the boat was high and dry, and with all the strength of the whole crew they could not move her, because the sand at that part of the beach was very soft. This did not seem to trouble any of them very much, for Robinson heard one of the sailors shout, "Let her alone, Jack, can't ye? She'll float next tide."
All forenoon Robinson watched, and when the hottest time of the day had come, he noticed the sailors throw themselves down under the trees, and go to sleep, some distance away from the three prisoners.Then Robinson and Friday, taking their muskets and pistols, stole down cautiously behind the three men, to try to speak to them without the others knowing. Robinson had put on his goatskin coat and the great hairy hat that he had made for himself; and with his cutlass and pistols in his belt, and a gun over each shoulder, he looked very fierce.
The men did not see him till he spoke, and they were so [pg 166] startled by his wild look, and by the sight of two men armed to the teeth, that they nearly ran away. But Robinson told them not to be alarmed; he was an Englishman, and a friend, and would help them if they would show him how it could be done.
Then they explained to him what had happened. One of the three was Captain of the ship that lay at anchor off the island. Of the others, one was mate of the ship, and the third man was a passenger. The crew had mutinied, the Captain told Robinson, and had put him and the other two in irons, and the ringleaders in the mutiny had proposed to kill them. Now they meant to leave them on the island to perish.The Captain was so astonished at finding anybody there who proposed to help him, that he said in his wonder: "Am I talking to a man, or to an angel from heaven?"
"If the Lord had sent an angel, sir," said Robinson, "he would probably have come better clothed."
Then he asked if the boat's crew had any firearms, and was told that they had only two muskets, one of which was left in the boat. "The rest should be easy, then," Robinson said; "we can either kill them all, or take them prisoners, as we please."
Robinson made a bargain that if he saved the Captain from the mutineers, and recovered the ship, he and Friday were to be taken home to England in her, free of cost; and to this the Captain and the others agreed.
Then Robinson gave each of them a musket, with powder and ball, after which the Captain and the mate and the passenger marched towards the spot where the mutinous sailors lay asleep. One of the men heard them advance, and turning round, saw them, and cried out to his companions. But it was too late, the mate and the passenger fired, and one of the ringleaders fell dead. A second man also fell, but jumped up immediately and called to the others to help him. But the Captain knocked him down with the butt of his musket, and [pg 167] the rest of the men, seeing Robinson and Friday coming, and knowing they had no chance against five armed men, begged for mercy. Three others who had been straying about among the trees came back on hearing the shots, and were also taken, and thus the whole crew of the boat was captured.
The Captain and Robinson now began to think how they might recover the ship. There were on board, the Captain said, several men on whom he thought he could depend, and who had been forced by the others into the mutiny against their wills. But it would be no easy thing to retake the ship, for there were still twenty-six men on board, and as they were guilty of mutiny, all of them, if taken back to England, would most likely be hanged. Thus they were certain to make a fight for it.
The first thing that Robinson and the others now did was to take everything out of the boat— oars, and mast, and sail, and rudder; then they knocked a hole in her bottom, so that she could not float. While they were doing this, and drawing her still further up on the beach, they heard first one gun and then another fired by the ship as signals to the boat to return.As she of course did not move, Robinson saw through his glass another boat with ten men on board, armed with muskets, leave the ship, coming to bring the others back.
This was serious enough, for now Robinson and his party had to make plans whereby they might capture also this fresh boat's crew. Accordingly, they tied the hands of all the men they had first taken, and sent the worst of them to the cave under the charge of Friday and of one of the men that the Captain said was to be trusted, with orders to shoot any who tried to give an alarm or to escape. Then Robinson took his party and the rest of the prisoners into the castle, where, from the rock, they watched for the landing of the second boat.The Captain and mate were very nervous, and despaired of taking this fresh body of men, but Robinson was quite confident of success, and put heart into them by his cheerfulness.
Of the prisoners in his castle, there were two whom the Captain believed to be honest men, and on their promising solemnly to keep faith, and to fight for him, Robinson released them. The crew of the second boat, when they landed, were [pg 168] terribly surprised to find the first boat empty and stove in, and they were seen anxiously consulting what to do. Then they hallooed and fired volleys. Getting no reply, they were evidently alarmed, for they all jumped into their boat and began to pull off to the ship. In a few minutes, however, they seemed to change their minds, for again they landed, this time leaving three men in charge of the boat, and keeping her in the water. The other seven came ashore, and started in a body across the island to look for their lost comrades. But they did not care to go far, and soon stopped, again firing volleys and hallooing. Getting again no reply, they began to march back to the sea. Whereupon Robinson ordered Friday and the mate to go over the creek to the west and halloo loudly, and wait till the sailors answered. Then Friday and the mate were to go further away and again halloo, thus gradually getting the men to follow them away from shore.
This plan succeeded very well, for when the sailors, thinking they heard their missing friends hail, ran to find them, their way was stopped by the creek, over which they had to get the boat to carry them. They took with them, then, one of the three men whom they had left in the boat, and ordered the others to moor the boat to a tree, and remain there.
This was just what Robinson wanted. And, moreover, one of the men played still further into his hands, for he left the boat and lay down under a tree to sleep. On him the Captain rushed, and knocked him down as he tried to rise to his feet, whereupon the sailor left in the boat yielded, and more readily that he had joined the mutineers very unwillingly, and was now glad of the chance to rejoin his Captain.
Meantime Friday and the mate, by hallooing and answering, drew the rest of the boat's crew from hill to hill through the woods, till at last they had got them so far astray that it was not possible for them to find their way back before dark. When they did get back to where the boat had been left, and found the men whom they had left in her gone, they were in a terrible fright.
It was not difficult for Robinson and his men to surround [pg 169] them, and it chanced that the boatswain of the ship, who was the greatest villain of the lot, and the chief cause of all the trouble, walked in the darkness close to the Captain, who jumped up and shot him dead. The others then surrendered, believing what they were told, that they were surrounded by fifty armed men. All begged hard for their lives, and a few whom the Captain said he could trust were set at liberty on promising to help retake the ship. The others were bound and put in the cave.
Robinson and Friday remained on shore to look after the prisoners, while the Captain and the mate and the passenger, with those of the crew who were trustworthy, having patched up the damaged boat, pulled off in her and in the other to the ship, which they reached about midnight. When they were a short distance off, the Captain made one of the crew hail the ship and say that they had brought off the boat and the men they had gone in search of. Then both boats ran alongside at once, one on each side of the vessel, and before the mutineers knew what was happening they were overpowered, one or two of them being killed. Only one of the Captain's party was hurt, the mate, whose arm was broken by a musket-ball.
As soon as the ship was secured, the Captain ordered seven guns to be fired, that being the signal he had agreed to make to let Robinson know if he succeeded in taking the ship. Robinson's stay in the island had now come to an end, after more than twenty-eight years, for in a few days he and Friday sailed for England in the ship. Some of the mutineers were left on the island, and were afterwards joined by the Spaniard and his comrades, for whom Robinson left a letter.
Robinson did not forget, when he left, to take with him the money and gold bars he had got from the wreck of the Spanish ship, and he took also, as a memento, the goatskin coat and the great hairy hat. But the Captain was able before the ship sailed to give him proper clothing, the wearing of which at first put him to dreadful discomfort.The voyage was a long one, but they sighted the English coast at last.
It was thirty-five years since Robinson had set foot in [pg 170] England. And that morning, when at last, after the weary years of exile, he again saw his native land, he laid his head down on his arms and cried like a child.And, may be, you too some day may know the joy of coming home, out of the land of bondage.