Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

once more.

all things from their sight; so, when the sun was risen, they knew that they could not leave the island of Helios, and they dragged their ship up on the beach to a cave where the nymphs dance, and where their seats are carved in the living rock. Then Odysseus warned them

O friends, hunt not the cattle in this land, for they are flocks of the great god Helios, who sees and hears all things.

All that day the storm raged on, and at night it ceased not from its fury. Day by day they looked in vain to see the waters go down, until the moon had gone through all her changes. Then the food and the wine which the Lady Kirkê gave to them was all spent, and they knew not how they might now live. All this time none had touched the sacred cattle, and even now they sought to catch birds and fishes, so that they might not hurt the herds of Helios. Wearied in body and faint in heart, Odysseus wandered over the island, praying to the undying gods that they would shew him some way of escaping; and when he had gone a long way from his comrades, he bathed his hands in a clear stream, and prayed to all the gods, and they sent down a sweet sleep on his eyelids, and he slept there on the soft grass, forgetting his cares and sorrows.

But while Odysseus was far away, Eurylochos gathered his comrades around him, and began to tempt them with evil words. "O friends,' he said, 'long have ye toiled and suffered ; listen now to my words. There is no kind of death which is not dreadful to weak and mortal men; but of all deaths there is none so terrible as to waste away by slow, gnawing hunger. Wherefore let us seize the fairest of the cattle of Helios, and make a great sacrifice to the undying gods who dwell in the wide

[ocr errors]

heaven; and when we reach our home in Ithaca, we will build a temple to Helios Hyperiôn, and we will place in it rich and costly offerings, and the fat of rams and goats shall go up day by day to heaven upon his altar. But if he will, in his anger, destroy a ship with all its men for the sake of horned cattle, then rather would I sink by one plunge in the sea, than waste away here in pain and hunger.'

Then, with loud voices, all his comrades cried out that the words of Eurylochos were good, and they hastened to seize the fairest cattle of Helios. Soon they came back, for they fed near at hand, fearing no hurt, and dreading not the approach of men. So they made ready the sacrifice, and sprinkled soft oak leaves over the victims, for they had no white barley in their ship. Then they prayed to the gods, and smote the cattle, and, flaying off the skin, placed the limbs in order, and poured the water over the entrails, for they had no wine to sprinkle over the sacrifice while it was being roasted by fire. So, when the sacrifice was done, they sat down and feasted richly.

But Odysseus had waked up from his sleep, and as he drew near to the bay where the ship was drawn up on the shore, the savour of the fat filled his nostrils; and he smote his hand upon his breast, and groaned aloud, and said : O father Zeus, and ye happy gods who know not death, of a truth ye have weighed me down by a cruel sleep, and my comrades have plotted a woeful deed while I was far away!

Woeful was the sight as Odysseus drew nigh to the ship, and to his comrades who stood round the burntoffering. With fierce and angry words they reviled each other, and they looked with a terrible fear on the victims

ز

which they had slain ; for the hides crept and quivered as though still the life were in them, and the flesh moaned as with the moan of cattle, while the red flame curled up round it. For six days they feasted on the shore, and on the seventh day the wind went down, and the sea was still.

Then they dragged the ship down to the water, and sailed away from the land; but when they had gone far, so that they could see only the heaven above and the wide sea around them, then the dark cloud came down again, and Zeus bade the whirlwind strike the ship of Odysseus. High rose the angry waves, and the fierce lightnings flashed from the thick cloud. Louder and louder shrieked the storm, till the ropes of the mast and sail snapped like slender twigs, and the mast fell with a mighty crash, and smote down the helmsman, so that he sank dead beneath the weight. Then the ship lay helpless on the waters, and the waves burst over her in their fury until all the men were swept off into the sea,

and Odysseus only was left. The west wind carried the battered wreck at random over the waters, and when its fury was stilled, the south wind came and drove Odysseus, as he clung to the mast, near to the whirlpool of Charybdis and the caves of the greedy Skylla. For nine days and nights he lay tossed on the stormy water till his limbs were numbed with cold, and he felt that he must die; but on the tenth day he was cast upon the shore, and so he reached the island where dwelt the Lady Calypso.

THE NEW YEAR.

1. Ring out wild bells to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light:

The year is dying in the nightRing out wild bells, and let him die.

2. Ring out the old, ring in the new;

Ring, happy bells, across the snow;

The year is going, let him goRing out the false, ring in the true.

3. Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more ;

Ring out the feud of rich and poor Ring in redress to all mankind.

4.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite ;

Ring in the love of truth and right Ring in the common love of good.

5. Ring out old shapes of foul disease;

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of oldRing in the thousand years of peace.

6. Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand :

Ring out the darkness of the land ; Ring in the Christ that is to be.

A BOY'S ADVENTURES AMONG THE

SEA-CAVES.

A TALE OF THE CROMARTY COAST.

It was on a pleasant spring morning that, with my little curious friend beside me, I stood on the beach opposite the eastern promontory, that with its stern granitic wall, bars access for ten days out of every fourteen to the wonders of the Doocot; and saw it stretching provokingly out into the green water. It was hard to be disappointed, and the caves so near. The tide was a low neap, and if we wanted a passage dry-shod, it behoved us to wait for at least a week; but neither of us understood the philosophy of neap-tides at that period. I was quite sure I had got round at low water with my uncles not a great many days before, and we both inferred that if we but succeeded in getting round now, it would be quite a pleasure to wait among

inside, until such time as the fall of the tide should lay bare a passage for our return. Α. narrow and broken shelf runs along the promontory, on which, by the assistance of the naked feet, it is just possible to creep. We succeeded in scrambling up to it, and then, crawling outwards on all-fours—the precipice, as we proceeded, beetling more and more formidable from above, and the water becoming greener and deeper below-we reached the outer point of the promontory; and then, doubling the cape on a still narrowing margin-the water, by a reverse process, becoming shallower and less green as we advanced inwards—we

the caves

« PreviousContinue »