POLYMESTOR Not yet; thy words maybe will declare it.
HECUBA May it grow as dear to thee as thou now art to me!
POLYMESTOR What is it that I and my children are to learn?
HECUBA There be ancient vaults filled full of gold by Priam's line.
POLYMESTOR Is it this thou wouldst tell thy son?
HECUBA Yes, by thy lips, for thou art a righteous man.
POLYMESTOR What need then of these children's presence?
HECUBA 'Tis better they should know it, in case of thy death.
POLYMESTOR True; 'tis also the wiser way.
HECUBA Well, dost thou know where stands the shrine of Trojan Athena?
POLYMESTOR Is the gold there? what is there to mark it?
HECUBA A black rock rising above the ground.
POLYMESTOR Is there aught else thou wouldst tell me about the place?
HECUBA I wish to keep safe the treasure I brought from Troy.
POLYMESTOR Where can it be? inside thy dress, or hast thou it hidden?
HECUBA 'Tis safe amid a heap of spoils within these tents.
POLYMESTOR Where? This is the station built by the Achaeans to surround
HECUBA The captive women have huts of their own.
POLYMESTOR It is safe to enter? are there no men about?
HECUBA There are no Achaeans within; we are alone. Enter then the
tent, for the Argives are eager to set sail from Troy for home; and,
when thou hast accomplished all that is appointed thee, thou shalt
return with thy children to that bourn where thou hast lodged my son.
(HECUBA leads POLYMESTOR and his children into the tent.)
CHORUS (chanting) Not yet hast thou paid the penalty, but maybe
thou yet wilt; like one who slips and falls into the surge with no
haven near, so shalt thou lose thy own life for the life thou hast
taken. For where the rights of justice and the law of heaven are one,
there is ruin fraught with death and doom. Thy hopes of this journey
shall cheat thee, for it hath led thee, unhappy wretch! to the halls
of death; and to no warrior's hand shalt thou resign thy life.
POLYMESTOR (within the tent) O horror! I am blinded of the light
of my eyes, ah me!
LEADER OF THE CHORUS Heard ye, friends, that Thracian's cry of woe?
POLYMESTOR (within) O horror! horror! my children! O the cruel blow.
LEADER Friends, new ills are brought to pass in yonder tent.
POLYMESTOR (within) Nay, ye shall never escape for all your hurried
flight; for with my fist will I burst open the inmost recesses of
LEADER Hark! how he launches ponderous blows! Shall we force an entry?
The crisis calls on us to aid Hecuba and the Trojan women. (HECUBA
enters, calling back into the tent.)
HECUBA Strike on, spare not, burst the doors! thou shalt ne'er replace
bright vision in thy eyes nor ever see thy children, whom I have slain,
LEADER What! hast thou foiled the Thracian, and is the stranger in
thy power, mistress mine? is all thy threat now brought to pass?
HECUBA A moment, and thou shalt see him before the tent, his eyes
put out, with random step advancing as a blind man must; yea, and
the bodies of his two children whom I with my brave daughters of Troy
did slay; he hath paid me his forfeit; look where he cometh from the
tent. I will withdraw out of his path and stand aloof from the hot
fury of this Thracian, my deadly foe. (POLYMESTOR rushes out. Blood
is streaming from his eyes.)
POLYMESTOR (chanting) Woe is me! whither can I go, where halt, or
whither turn? shall crawl upon my hands like a wild four-footed beast
on their track? Which path shall I take first, this or that, eager
as I am to clutch those Trojan murderesses that have destroyed me?
Out upon ye, cursed daughters of Phrygia! to what corner have ye fled
cowering before me? O sun-god, would thou couldst heal my bleeding
orbs, ridding me of my blindness!
Ha! hush! I catch their stealthy footsteps here. Where can I dart
on them and gorge me on their flesh and bones, making for myself wild