“Stay with me, and thou shalt never grow old and never die,” said Calypso.
A great homesickness had seized Odysseus, but no escape came for eight years. Then Athene begged the gods to help him. They called on Hermes, who commanded Calypso to let him go. She wanted him to stay with her but promised to send him away. She told him to make a raft which she would furnish with food and clothing for his need.
He set out and in eighteen days saw the land of the Phaeacians appear. But when safety seemed near, Poseidon, the sea-god, returned from his wanderings and would have destroyed him had it not been that a fair sea-nymph gave him her veil to wind around his body. This he did and finally reached the shore.
HOW ODYSSEUS MET WITH NAUSICAA
In the land of the Phaeacians there dwelt no more beautiful, nor any sweeter maiden, than the King’s own daughter. Nausicaa was her name, and she was so kind and gentle that every one loved her.
To the land of the Phaeacians the north wind had driven Odysseus, and while he lay asleep in his bed of leaves under the olive-trees, the goddess Athene went to the room in the palace where Nausicaa slept, and spoke to her in her dreams.
“Some day thou wilt marry, Nausicaa,” she said, “and it is time for thee to wash all the fair raiment that is one day to be thine. To-morrow thou must ask the King, thy father, for mules and for a wagon, and drive from the city to a place where all the rich clothing may be washed and dried.”
When morning came Nausicaa remembered her dream, and went to tell her father.
Her mother was sitting spinning yarn of sea-purple stain, and her father was just going to a council meeting.
“Father, dear,” said the Princess, “couldst thou lend me a high wagon with strong wheels, that I may take all my fair linen to the river to wash. All yours, too, I shall take, so that thou shalt go to the council in linen that is snowy clean, and I know that my five brothers will also be glad if I wash their fine clothing for them.”
This she said, for she felt too shy to tell her father what Athene had said about her getting married.
But the King knew well why she asked. “I do not grudge thee mules, nor anything else, my child,” he said. “Go, bid the servants prepare a wagon.”
The servants quickly got ready the finest wagon that the King had, and harnessed the best of the mules. And Nausicaa’s mother filled a basket with all the dainties that she knew her daughter liked best, so that Nausicaa and her maidens might feast together. The fine clothes were piled into the wagon, the basket of food was placed carefully beside them, and Nausicaa climbed in, took the whip and shining reins, and touched the mules. Then with clatter of hoofs they started.
When they were come to the beautiful, clear river, amongst whose reeds Odysseus had knelt the day before, they unharnessed the mules and drove them along the banks of the river to graze where the clover grew rich and fragrant. Then they washed the clothes, working hard and well, and spread them out to dry on the clean pebbles down by the seashore.