Then said Telemachus, ’Mother, can it be that thy heart is so hard? Here is my father, and thou wilt not go to him nor question him at all.’
Said Penelope, ’My mind is amazed and I have no strength to speak, nor to ask him aught, nor even to look on him face to face. If this is indeed Odysseus who hath come home, a place has to be prepared for him.’
Then Odysseus spoke to Telemachus and said, ’Go now to the bath, and make thyself clean of the stains of battle. I will stay and speak with thy lady mother.’
‘Strange lady,’ said he to Penelope, ’is thy heart indeed so hard? No other woman in the world, I think, would stand so aloof from her husband who, after so much toil and so many trials, has come back after twenty years to his own hearth. Is there no place for me here, and must I again sleep in the stranger’s bed?’
Said Penelope, ’In no stranger’s bed wilt thou lie, my lord. Come, Eurycleia. Set up for him his own bedstead outside his bed-chamber.’
Then Odysseus said to her, speaking in anger: ’How comes it that my bed can be moved to this place and that? Not a bed of that kind was the bed I built for myself. Knowest thou not how I built my bed? First, there grew up in the courtyard an olive tree. Round that olive tree I built a chamber, and I roofed it well and I set doors to it. Then I sheared off all the light wood on the growing olive tree, and I rough-hewed the trunk with the adze, and I made the tree into a bed post. Beginning with this bed post I wrought a bedstead, and when I finished it, I inlaid it with silver and ivory. Such was the bed I built for myself, and such a bed could not be moved to this place or that.’
Then did Penelope know assuredly that the man who stood before her was indeed her husband, the steadfast Odysseus—none other knew of where the bed was placed, and how it had been built. Penelope fell a-weeping and she put her arms round his neck.
‘O Odysseus, my lord,’ she said, ’be not angry with thy wife. Always the fear was in my heart that some guileful stranger should come here professing to be Odysseus, and that I should take him to me as my husband. How terrible such a thing would be! But now my heart is freed from all doubts. Be not angry with me, Odysseus, for not throwing myself on thy neck, as the women of the house did.’
Then husband and wife wept together, and Penelope said, ’It was the gods did this to us, Odysseus—the gods who grudged that we should have joy of the days of our youth.’
Next they told each other of things that happened in the twenty years they were apart; Odysseus speaking of his own toils and sorrows, and Penelope telling what she had endured at the hands of the wooers. And as they told tales, one to the other, slumber came upon them, and the dawn found them sleeping side by side.