In vain did the cowards, their faces pale with fear, beg for mercy. Mercy there was none that day. It was useless for those who drew their swords and rushed on Odysseus to try to slay him, for ere their swords could touch him, his bow had driven sharp arrows into their hearts.
One of the servants of the palace treacherously climbed into the armory and brought spears and shields and helmets for the wooers. But even that did not daunt Odysseus and his son. Telemachus, with his spear, slew man after man. When his arrows were done Odysseus also snatched a spear, and they fought side by side. Beside them fought the swineherd and one other man, and they all fought the more fearlessly because, all the time, Athene put fresh courage in their hearts.
There were four men to very many others when that fight began. When it was ended the floor ran with blood, and Odysseus, like a lion at bay, stood with the dead bodies of the wooers piled in heaps around him and his face and hands stained with blood.
When all lay dead, the old nurse gave a great cry of joy.
“Rejoice in thy heart, old nurse,” said Odysseus. “It is an unholy thing to rejoice openly over slain men.”
The nurse hastened to Penelope’s room.
“Penelope, dear child!” she cried, “Odysseus is come home, and all the wooers lie dead.”
At first Penelope would not believe her. Too good did it seem to be true. Even when she came down and saw Odysseus leaning against a tall pillar in the light of the fire, she would not believe what her own eyes saw.
“Surely, mother, thy heart is as hard as stone,” said Telemachus. “Dost thou not know my father?”
But Penelope saw only a ragged beggar-man, soiled with the blood of the men he had slain, old and ugly and poor.
Then Athene shed her grace upon Odysseus, and once more he was tall and strong and gallant to look upon, with golden hair curling like hyacinth flowers around his head. And Penelope ran to him and threw out her arms, and they held each other close and wept together like those who have suffered shipwreck, and have been tossed for long by angry seas, and yet have won safely home at last.
And when the sun went down that night on the little rocky island of Ithaca in the far seas, the heart of Odysseus was glad, for he knew that his wanderings were ended.
By Daniel Defoe
ADAPTED BY JOHN LANG
HOW ROBINSON FIRST WENT TO SEA; AND HOW HE WAS SHIPWRECKED
Long, long ago, before even your grandfather’s father was born, there lived in the town of York a boy whose name was Robinson Crusoe. Though he never even saw the sea till he was quite a big boy, he had always wanted to be a sailor, and to go away in a ship to visit strange, foreign, far-off lands; and he thought that if he could only do that, he would be quite happy.