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
Everyone knows how the Greeks laid siege for ten long years to the city of Troy to win back Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, for her husband, the king of Sparta. It was Paris, a son of the old Trojan king, who stole her away from home; and because of her beauty, neither king nor folk would heed the warnings of the seers and wise men that the wrath of the gods would fall on Troy unless they gave up Helen. Year after year the war went on; the flower of both armies fell in battle; the losses and hardships of the besieged grew ever greater; but still they would not hear of giving Helen back. Even those who were ready to curse her forgot all the woes she had brought on Troy whenever they looked on her face. Once the elders of the city, grave and ancient men, were sitting together on the ramparts when Helen passed by, and one said to another, “Small blame to the Greeks and Trojans that they have fought and suffered those many years for the sake of such a woman as this, for she is like an immortal goddess to look upon.” So great was the power of Helen’s beauty on all who beheld it.
In the tenth year, Troy fell; the Greeks sacked and burned the city, and put every male to the sword, sparing neither old men nor infants in their lust for revenge. The aged king himself was slain at his household altar. But now the divine wrath was turned from the vanquished to the victors, for the gods, to whom vengeance belongs, hate all such as exact it beyond due measure. Therefore, when the Greeks sailed for home, a fearful tempest arose, which wrecked some of their ships and scattered the rest far and wide over the deep, so that they lost their course and only reached port after long toil and peril. Moreover, there were few of their kings and captains who did not find disaster waiting for them when they came home at last.
But there was one chief who had shed no blood save in fight, nor plundered any temple, and had refused any share in the spoil. This was Teucer, son of Telamon, and brother to that Ajax who was the strongest and bravest of all the Greeks, except divine Achilles. Now after Achilles was slain, his heavenly armor was to be awarded by vote to the next best warrior in the host; but Odysseus by cunning wiles prevailed on the Greeks to award him that prize of honor; and this unjust disgrace so disordered the mind of Ajax that he died by his own sword. And Teucer, though he fought on till Troy was taken, being under oath so to do, would have no share in the victory of those who had so wronged his beloved brother; he set sail before any of them, and the gods gave him swift and safe passage to his home in the island called Salamis. But when old Telamon heard that his favorite son, Ajax, was dead, he was filled with rage against Teucer and reviled him as a coward and traitor for not having saved his brother or else died in his defense. Nor would he listen to another word of Teucer’s story, but fiercely bade him get to sea again, for he should never set foot in Salamis while he, Telamon, lived.
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Then sadly the young man turned to his followers —bold seamen all— and asked them to do him the last service of rowing him over to the near mainland. But there was no chief in the Greek host more loved by his men for courage and kindness than he; and they all cried out, “Let us go with Teucer, comrades! Shame on us if we desert him! Up sail and to sea — Teucer shall be our captain and lead us to a new home.”
And seeing they would take no denial, Teucer thanked them from a full heart, and when they had re-victualed the ship they set out on their voyage of adventure.