He crept out from under the thicket, covering his nakedness with leafy boughs that he broke off the trees. And when he saw the girls in the meadow he wanted to go to them to beg for their help. But when they looked on him they were terribly frightened and they ran this way and that way and hid themselves. Only Nausicaa stood still, for Pallas Athene had taken fear from her mind.
Odysseus stood a little way from her and spoke to her in a beseeching voice. ’I supplicate thee, lady, to help me in my bitter need. I would kneel to thee and clasp thy knees only I fear thine anger. Have pity upon me. Yesterday was the twentieth day that I was upon the sea, driven hither and thither by the waves and the winds.’
And still Nausicaa stood, and Odysseus looking upon her was filled with reverence for her, so noble she seemed. ’I know not as I look upon thee,’ he said, ’whether thou art a goddess or a mortal maiden. If thou art a mortal maiden, happy must thy father be and thy mother and thy brothers. Surely they must be proud and glad to see thee in the dance, for thou art the very flower of maidens. And happy above all will he be who will lead thee to his home as his bride. Never have my eyes beheld one who had such beauty and such nobleness. I think thou art like to the young palm-tree I once saw springing up by the altar of Apollo in Delos—a tree that many marvelled to look at. O lady, after many and sore trials, to thee, first of all the people, have I come. I know that thou wilt be gracious to me. Show me the way to the town. Give me an old garment to cast about me. And may the gods grant thee thy wish and heart’s desire—a noble husband who will cherish thee.’
She spoke to him as a Princess should, seeing that in spite of the evil plight he was in, he was a man of worth. ‘Stranger,’ she said, ’since thou hast come to our land, thou shalt not lack for raiment nor aught else that is given to a suppliant. I will show thee the way to the town also.’
He asked what land he was in. ‘This, stranger,’ she said, ’is the land of the Phaeacians, and Alcinous is King over them. And I am the King’s daughter, Nausicaa.’
Then she called to her companions. ‘Do not hide yourselves,’ she said. ’This is not an enemy, but a helpless and an unfriended man. We must befriend him, for it is well said that the stranger and the beggar are from God.’
The girls came back and they brought Odysseus to a sheltered place and they made him sit down and laid a garment beside him. One brought the jar of olive oil that he might clean himself when he bathed in the river. And Odysseus was very glad to get this oil for his back and shoulders were all crusted over with flakes of brine. He went into the river and bathed and rubbed himself with the oil. Then he put on the garment that had been brought him. So well he looked that when he came towards them again the Princess said to the maids: