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 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!”