’He spoke and lifted up his spear and flung it at Achilles. Then the breath of a god turned Hector’s spear aside, for it was not appointed that either he or Achilles should be then slain. Achilles darted at Hector to slay him with his spear. But a god hid Hector from Achilles in a thick mist.’
’Then in a rage Achilles drove his chariot into the ranks of the war and many great captains he slew. He came to Skamandros, the river that flows across the plain before the city of Troy. And so many men did he slay in it that the river rose in anger against him for choking its waters with the bodies of men.’
’Then on towards the City, he went like a fire raging through a glen that had been parched with heat. Now on a tower of the walls of Troy, Priam the old King stood, and he saw the Trojans coming in a rout towards the City, and he saw Achilles in his armour blazing like a star—like that star that is seen at harvest time and is called Orion’s Dog; the star that is the brightest of all stars, but yet is a sign of evil. And the old man Priam sorrowed greatly as he stood upon the tower and watched Achilles, because he knew in his heart whom this man would slay—Hector, his son, the protector of his City.’
So much of the story of Achilles did Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, hear from the lips of King Menelaus as he sat with his comrade Peisistratus in the King’s feasting-hall. And more would Menelaus have told them then if Helen, his wife, had not been seen to weep. ’Why weepst thou, Helen?’ said Menelaus. ’Ah, surely I know. It is because the words that tell of the death of Hector are sorrowful to thee.’
And Helen, the lovely lady, said ’Never did Prince Hector speak a hard or a harsh word to me in all the years I was in his father’s house. And if anyone upbraided me he would come and speak gentle words to me. Ah, greatly did I lament for the death of noble Hector! After his wife and his mother I wept the most for him. And when one speaks of his slaying I cannot help but weep.’
Said Menelaus, ’Relieve your heart of its sorrow, Helen, by praising Hector to this youth and by telling your memories of him.’
‘To-morrow I shall do so,’ said the lady Helen. She went with her maids from the hall and the servants took Telemachus and Peisistratus to their sleeping places.
The next day they sat in the banqueting hall; King Menelaus and Telemachus and Peisistratus, and the lady Helen came amongst them. Her handmaidens brought into the hall her silver work-basket that had wheels beneath it with rims of gold, and her golden distaff that, with the basket, had been presents from the wife of the King of Egypt. And Helen sat in her chair and took the distaff in her hands and worked on the violet-coloured wool that was in her basket. And as she worked she told Telemachus of Troy and of its guardian, Hector.