“Telemachus bids you, heedful Eurycleia, to lock the hall’s close-fitting doors; and if a woman from the inner room hears moaning or a strife within our walls, let her not venture forth, but stay in silence at her work.”
Such were his words; unwinged, they rested with her. She locked the doors of the stately hall. Then silently from the house Philoetius stole forth and straightway barred the gates of the fenced court. Beneath the portico there lay a curved ship’s cable, made of biblus plant. With this he lashed the gates, then passed indoors himself, and went and took the seat from which he first arose, eyeing Ulysses. Now Ulysses already held the bow and turned it round and round, trying it here and there to see if worms had gnawed the horn while its lord was far away. And glancing at his neighbor one would say,—
“A sort of fancier and a trickster with the bow this fellow is. No doubt at home he has himself a bow like that, or means to make one like it. See how he turns it in his hands this way and that, ready for mischief,—rascal!”
Then would another rude youth answer thus: “Oh, may he always meet with luck as good as when he is unable now to bend the bow!”
So talked the suitors. Meantime wise Ulysses, when he had handled the great bow and scanned it closely,—even as one well skilled to play the lyre and sing stretches with ease round its new peg a string, securing at each end the twisted sheep-gut, so without effort did Ulysses string the mighty bow. Holding it now with his right hand, he tried its cord; and clear to the touch it sang, voiced like the swallow. Great consternation came upon the suitors. All faces then changed color. Zeus thundered loud for signal. And glad was long-tried royal Ulysses to think the son of crafty Cronos had sent an omen. He picked up a swift shaft which lay beside him on the table, drawn. Within the hollow quiver still remained the rest, which the Achaians soon should prove. Then laying the arrow on the arch, he drew the string and arrow notches, and forth from the bench on which he sat let fly the shaft, with careful aim, and did not miss an axe’s ring from first to last, but clean through all sped on the bronze-tipped arrow; and to Telemachus he said,—
“Telemachus, the guest now sitting in your hall brings you no shame. I did not miss my mark, nor in the bending of the bow make a long labor. My strength is sound as ever, not what the mocking suitors here despised. But it is time for the Achaians to make supper ready, while it is daylight still; and then for us in other ways to make them sport,—with dance and lyre; for these attend a feast.”
He spoke and frowned the sign. His sharp sword then Telemachus girt on, the son of princely Ulysses clasped his right hand around his spear, and close beside his father’s seat he took his stand, armed with the gleaming bronze.