This is a chapter of Evergreen Stories by W. M. L. Hutchinson. It includes the following stories: King Midas and His Strange Adventures — Alcestis, the Noble Wife — The Real Helen — Cupid and Psyche — The Vision of Er
The Real Helen has the following chapters: 1. Teucer’s Destiny after Troy | 2. Teucer Finds the Real Helen | 3. The Truth about Helen | 4. Menelaus Finds Out about Helen | 5. Helen’s Escape Plan | 6. The Egyptian King, Befooled | 7. The Moral of the Egyptian Princess
The galley was no sooner out of sight than Theoclymenus hastened to the women’s quarter of the palace, eager to discuss his new happiness with his sister. He would have sought her before, but in his zeal he had himself superintended the lading of the ship with treasures worthy of his magnificence. With some vexation, he learned from her women that the princess desired to be alone. In this, however, there was nothing unusual, for Theonoe spent much of her time in seclusion, reading and meditating the mystic lore of ancient scrolls, written by the hands of priests. The king himself never ventured to disturb her at these studies; so he betook himself to the shore again, there to wait Helen’s return with what patience he could.
Lower and lower sank the sun towards his ocean bed, and still no sail appeared in the offing; and still, though he grew more and more impatient, no misgiving crossed the king’s mind. He wished a hundred times over that Greek custom did not require Helen to make her funeral offerings so far from land, but that was the only reason for her delay that occurred to him.
What, then, was his amazement when he heard the patter of many bare feet behind him; and turning, saw the whole crew of the galley running along the shore toward the palace! With a furious cry, he rushed to intercept them; and at sight of him, the slaves threw themselves on their faces, as giving themselves up for lost.
“Dogs, and sons of dogs!” he shouted, “what means this? Where is the ship? Where is Queen Helen? If harm has come to her, you shall all be flayed alive. Where is she, I say… Why do you not answer me, wretches?”
But the slaves only groveled round his feet, speechless with terror. Transported with rage, the king seized the nearest by the throat, uttering horrid threats and brandishing his dagger; at that moment a hand touched his shoulder, and the calm voice of Theonoe said: “Forbear, my brother; these men are guiltless. Be not so unkingly as to visit on them the act of others, but promise them life and favor if they declare the truth.”
“You know, Theonoe,” he answered, “that your word is law with me. Let them arise then, and speak without fear. You there, the steersman, say on, and say quickly.”
Then the slaves rose up, no longer trembling; they cast on Theonoe such adoring looks as they might on a protecting goddess, and the steersman told his tale with a good courage.
“Oh, sun of Egypt,” he said, “by your august command I and my fellows obeyed the Greek queen as we should have done yourself. Now, when we had gone but a little way, she said to me, ‘Turn the ship about, friend, and steer as this sailor bids you,’ and the shipwrecked sailor directed our course to the far side of the isle, where the great cavern is, and the water is deep inshore; there he made me bring the ship to land. Then, indeed, we smelt treason for behold, some fifty men ran to us out of the cavern, whom we perceived to be Greeks. But the sailor said to us, ‘Fear nothing; these are comrades of mine who have likewise escaped out of the shipwreck. Let them come aboard to help in the work before us.’ So they came and immediately that villain sailor bade them take up the swords and spears that were piled on the deck. Then he cried, ‘Out of the galley, Egyptians, or you are all dead men!’… Alas, Lord, what could we do against those ruffians — unarmed as we were, and they great sturdy fellows everyone? They flew upon us like lions; they thrust us overboard at the sword’s point… yet more in mirth than anger, to speak truly, for loudly they laughed as we fell splash into the water and swam ashore for our lives. They took our places at the oars and backed the galley out with mighty strokes. As they put her head to sea, Queen Helen waved to us from the deck, and laughed right merrily… and that most accursed of all sailors took her in his arms and kissed her.”
Theoclymenus bounded where he stood. “The vile traitress!” he cried. “Then all her story was a lie — a plot to escape me! But the man, her accomplice — whence came he, who is he?”
Classicsness 🎙️ the podcast about Classics
Subscribe gratis on your favorite platform and get the new episodes pushed right to your device as soon as they’re published!
Right now, we’re telling myths for all audiences!
“Do you not guess?” said Theonoe. “Menelaus himself. This much was true, that he was shipwrecked off our coast, whither storms had driven him, not without divine providence. As for the rest — ask yourself, my brother, why his wife dared not tell you he was here alive.”
“I may rather ask you,” said the king, bitterly, “why, knowing their plot, you suffered them to befool and laugh to scorn the brother who loves you so well.”
“And whom I love not less well,” she answered, tenderly, “as I hope to prove. Come, Theoclymenus, let us go in the sun has set, and your evening banquet is waiting. Come, this once I will break my rule of abstinence and share your meal and afterward I shall have much to say to you.”