“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.”
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.