The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 613 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 3.

CHAPTER X

The madness from above.—­The bow of Ulysses.—­The slaughter.—­The conclusion.

When daylight appeared, a tumultuous concourse of the suitors again filled the hall; and some wondered, and some inquired what meant that glittering store of armour and lances which lay on heaps by the entry of the door; and [to] all that asked Telemachus made reply, that he had caused them to be taken down to cleanse them of the rust and of the stain which they had contracted by lying so long unused, even ever since his father went for Troy; and with that answer their minds were easily satisfied.  So to their feasting and vain rioting again they fell.  Ulysses by Telemachus’s order had a seat and a mess assigned him in the door-way, and he had his eye ever on the lances.  And it moved gall in some of the great ones there present, to have their feast still dulled with the society of that wretched beggar as they deemed him, and they reviled and spurned at him with their feet.  Only there was one Philaetius, who had something a better nature than the rest, that spake kindly to him, and had his age in respect.  He coming up to Ulysses, took him by the hand with a kind of fear, as if touched exceedingly with imagination of his great worth, and said thus to him, “Hail! father stranger! my brows have sweat to see the injuries which you have received, and my eyes have broke forth in tears, when I have only thought that such being oftentimes the lot of worthiest men, to this plight Ulysses may be reduced, and that he now may wander from place to place as you do; for such who are compelled by need to range here and there, and have no firm home to fix their feet upon, God keeps them in this earth, as under water; so are they kept down and depressed.  And a dark thread is sometimes spun in the fates of kings.”

At this bare likening of the beggar to Ulysses, Minerva from heaven made the suitors for foolish joy to go mad, and roused them to such a laughter as would never stop, they laughed without power of ceasing, their eyes stood full of tears for violent joys; but fears and horrible misgivings succeeded:  and one among them stood up and prophesied:  “Ah, wretches!” he said, “what madness from heaven has seized you, that you can laugh? see you not that your meat drops blood? a night, like the night of death, wraps you about, you shriek without knowing it; your eyes thrust forth tears; the fixed walls, and the beam that bears the whole house up, fall blood; ghosts choak up the entry; full is the hall with apparitions, of murdered men; under your feet is hell; the sun falls from heaven and it is midnight at noon.”  But like men whom the gods had infatuated to their destruction, they mocked at his fears, and Eurymachus said, “This man is surely mad, conduct him forth into the market-place, set him in the light, for he dreams that ’tis night within the house.”

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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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