To the palace, where every one slept and all was still and quiet, Telemachus brought his men. None but the old nurse knew he was going away, but they found the food and wine that she had got ready and carried it down to the ship. Then Athene went on board, and Telemachus sat beside her. A fresh west wind filled the sails and went singing over the waves. The dark water surged up at the bow as the ship cut through it. And all night long and till the dawn, the ship sailed happily on her way.
At sunrise they came to land, and Athene and Telemachus went on shore. The rulers of the country welcomed them and treated them well, but could tell nothing of Odysseus after the siege of Troy was over. Athene gave Telemachus into their care, then, turning herself into a sea-eagle, she flew swiftly away, leaving them amazed because they knew she must be one of the gods.
While Telemachus sought for news of his father in this kingdom, and the kingdoms near it, the wooers began to miss him at their feasts. They fancied he was away hunting, until, one day, as they played games in front of the palace, the man whose ship Athene had borrowed came to them.
“When will Telemachus return with my ship?” he asked.
“I need it that I may cross over to where I keep my horses. I wish to catch one and break him in.”
When the wooers heard from him that Telemachus had sailed away with twenty brave youths, in the swiftest ship in Ithaca, they were filled with rage.
At once they got a ship and sailed to where they might meet Telemachus in a strait between Ithaca and another rocky island.
“We will slay him there,” said they. “We will give him a woful end to his voyage in search of his father.”
When Penelope heard this, and knew that her son was perhaps sailing to his doom, her heart well-nigh broke. She wept bitterly, and reproached her maidens with not having told her that Telemachus had gone.
“Slay me if thou wilt,” said the old nurse, “but I alone knew it. Telemachus made me promise not to tell thee, that thy fair face might not be marred by weeping. Do not fear, the goddess Athene will take care of him.”
Thus she comforted her mistress, and although she lay long awake that night, Penelope fell asleep at last. In her dreams Athene came to her and told her that Telemachus would come safely home, and so Penelope’s sad heart was cheered.
While she slept the wooers sailed away in a swift, black ship, with spears in their hands and murder in their hearts. On a little rocky isle they landed until the ship of Telemachus should pass, and there they waited, that they might slay him when he came.
HOW ODYSSEUS CAME HOME
While yet Telemachus sought news of his father, Odysseus was well-nigh home. On that misty morning when he found himself in Ithaca, and did not know it, because the gray fog made everything seem strange and unfriendly, Odysseus was very sad as he sat beside the moaning sea.