But before they had finished their meal, and while yet Menelaus the king was showing them the treasures that were near, the lady Helen came into the high hall—Helen for whom the Kings and Princes of Greece had gone to war. Her maids were with her, and they set a chair for her near where Menelaus was and they put a rug of soft wool under her feet. Then one brought to her a silver basket filled with colored yarn. And Helen sat in her high chair and took the distaff in her hands and worked the yarn. She questioned Menelaus about the things that had happened during the day, and as she did she watched Telemachus.
Then the lady Helen left the distaff down and said, ’Menelaus, I am minded to tell you who one of these strangers is. No one was ever more like another than this youth is like great-hearted Odysseus. I know that he is no other than Telemachus, whom Odysseus left as a child, when, for my sake, the Greeks began their war against Troy.’
Then said Menelaus, ’I too mark his likeness to Odysseus. The shape of his head, the glance of his eye, remind me of Odysseus. But can it indeed be that Telemachus has come into my house?’
‘Renowned Menelaus,’ said Peisistratus, ’this is indeed the son of Odysseus. And I avow myself to be the son of another comrade of yours, of Nestor, who was with you at the war of Troy. I have been sent with Telemachus to be his guide to your house.’
Menelaus rose up and clasped the hand of Telemachus. ’Never did there come to my house,’ said he, ’a youth more welcome. For my sake did Odysseus endure much toil and many adventures. Had he come to my country I would have given him a city to rule over, and I think that nothing would have parted us, one from the other. But Odysseus, I know, has not returned to his own land of Ithaka.’
Then Telemachus, thinking upon his father, dead, or wandering through the world, wept. Helen, too, shed tears, remembering things that had happened. And Menelaus, thinking upon Odysseus and on all his toils, was silent and sad; and sad and silent too was Peisistratus, thinking upon Antilochos, his brother, who had perished in the war of Troy.
But Helen, wishing to turn their minds to other thoughts, cast into the wine a drug that lulled pain and brought forgetfulness—a drug which had been given to her in Egypt by Polydamna, the wife of King Theon. And when they had drunk the wine their sorrowful memories went from them, and they spoke to each other without regretfulness. Thereafter King Menelaus told of his adventure with the Ancient One of the Sea—the adventure that had brought to him the last tidings of Odysseus.
Said Menelaus, ’Over against the river that flows out of Egypt there is an Island that men call Pharos, and to that island I came with my ships when we, the heroes who had fought at Troy, were separated one from the other. There I was held, day after day, by the will of the gods. Our provision of corn was spent and my men were in danger of perishing of hunger. Then one day while my companions were striving desperately to get fish out of the sea, I met on the shore one who had pity for our plight.