‘I have come to see thee, friend Eumaeus,’ said Telemachus, ’for before I go into the City I would know whether my mother is still in the house of Odysseus, or whether one of the wooers has at last taken her as a wife to his own house.’
‘Thy mother is still in thy father’s house,’ Eumaeus answered. Then Telemachus came within the courtyard. Odysseus in the guise of the old beggar rose from his seat, but the young man said to him courteously: ‘Be seated, friend. Another seat can be found for me.’
Eumaeus strewed green brushwood and spread a fleece upon it, and Telemachus seated himself. Next Eumaeus fetched a meal for him—oaten cakes and swine flesh and wine. While they were eating, the swineherd said:
’We have here a stranger who has wandered through many countries, and who has come to my house as a suppliant. Wilt thou take him for thy man, Telemachus?’
Said Telemachus, ’How can I support any man? I have not the strength of hand to defend mine own house. But for this stranger I will do what I can. I will give him a mantle and doublet, with shoes for his feet and a sword to defend himself, and I will send him on whatever way he wants to go. But, Eumaeus, I would not have him go near my father’s house. The wooers grow more insolent each day, and they might mock the stranger if he went amongst them.’
Then said Odysseus, speaking for the first time, ’Young sir, what thou hast said seems strange to me. Dost thou willingly submit to insolence in thine own father’s house? But perhaps it is that the people of the City hate thee and will not help thee against thine enemies. Ah, if I had such youth as I have spirit, or if I were the son of Odysseus, I should go amongst them this very day, and make myself the bane of each man of them. I would rather die in mine own halls than see such shame as is reported—strangers mocked at, and servants injured, and wine and food wasted.’
Said Telemachus, ’The people of the City do not hate me, and they would help me if they could. But the wooers of my mother are powerful men—men to make the City folk afraid. And if I should oppose them I would assuredly be slain in my father’s house, for how could I hope to overcome so many?’
‘What wouldst thou have me do for thee, Telemachus?’ said the swineherd.
‘I would have thee go to my mother, friend Eumaeus,’ Telemachus said, ‘and let her know that I am safe-returned from Pylos.’
Eumaeus at once put sandals upon his feet and took his staff in his hands. He begged Telemachus to rest himself in the hut, and then he left the courtyard and went towards the City.
Telemachus lay down on his seat and closed his eyes in weariness. He saw, while thinking that he only dreamt it, a woman come to the gate of the courtyard. She was fair and tall and splendid, and the dogs shrank away from her presence with a whine. She touched the beggar with a golden wand. As she did, the marks of age and beggary fell from him and the man stood up as tall and noble looking.