She looked to where Penelope was sitting, so that she might make a sign to her. But Penelope had her eyes turned away. Odysseus put his hand on Eurycleia’s mouth, and with the other hand he drew her to him.
‘Woman,’ he whispered. ’Say nothing. Be silent, lest mine enemies learn what thou knowest now.’
‘Silent I’ll be,’ said the nurse Eurycleia. ’Thou knowest me. Firm and unyielding I am, and by no sign will I let anyone know that thou hast come under this roof.’
So saying she went out of the hall to fetch water in the place of that which had been spilt. She came back and finished bathing his feet. Then Odysseus arranged the rags around his leg to hide the scar, and he drew the bench closer to the fire.
Penelope turned to him again, ‘Wise thou art, my guest,’ she said, ’and it may be that thou art just such a man as can interpret a dream that comes to me constantly. I have twenty geese in the yard outside. In my dream I see them, and then a great eagle flies down from the mountains, and breaks their necks and kills them all, and lays them in a heap in this hall. I weep and lament for my geese, but then the eagle comes back, and perching on a beam of the roof speaks to me in the voice of a man. “Take heart, O wife of Odysseus,” the eagle says, “this is no dream but a true vision. For the geese that thou hast seen are thy wooers, and I, that appeared as an eagle, am thy husband who will swiftly bring death to the wooers.” Then the dream goes, and I waken and look out on the daylight and see my geese in the courtyard pecking at the wheat in the trough. Canst thou interpret this dream?’
‘Lady,’ said Odysseus, ’the dream interprets itself. All will come about as thou hast dreamed.’
‘Ah,’ said Penelope, ’but it cannot now, for the day of my woe is at hand. I am being forced by my parents to choose a husband from the wooers, and depart from the house of Odysseus.’
‘And how wilt thou choose from amongst them?’ said Odysseus.
‘In this way will I make choice,’ said Penelope. ’My husband’s great bow is still in the house. The one who can bend that bow, and shoot an arrow through the holes in the backs of twelve axes set one behind the other—him will I choose for my husband.’
Said Odysseus, ’Thy device is good, Penelope, and some god hath instructed thee to do this. But delay no longer the contest of the bow. Let it be to-morrow.’
‘Is that thy counsel, O stranger?’ said Penelope.
‘It is my counsel,’ said Odysseus.
‘I thank thee for thy counsel,’ she said. ’And now farewell, for I must go to my rest. And do thou lie down in the vestibule, in the bed that has been made for thee.’
So Penelope spoke, and then she went to her chamber with her handmaidens. And in her bed she thought over all the stranger had told her of Odysseus, and she wept again for him.