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knowest not whether thou art to return or to abide here; for there
is strife in heaven, and Zeus this very day will sit in solemn conclave
on thee. Hera, who erst was thy bitter foe, is now grown kind, and
is willing to bring thee and thy wife safe home, that Hellas may learn
that the marriage of Paris was all a sham, assigned to him by Cypris;
but Cypris fain would mar thy homeward course, that she may not be
convicted, or proved to have bought the palm of beauty at the price
of Helen in a futile marriage. Now the decision rests with me, whether
to ruin thee, as Cypris wishes, by telling my brother of thy presence
bere, or to save thy life by taking Hera's side, concealing thy coming
from my brother, for his orders are that I should tell him, whensoe'er
thou shouldst reach these shores. Ho! one of you, go show my brother
this man is here, that I may secure my safety.
HELEN Maiden, at thy knees I fall a suppliant, and seat myself in
this sad posture on behalf of myself and him, whom I am in danger
of seeing slain, after I have so hardly found him. Oh! tell not thy
brother that my husband is returned to these loving arms; save us,
I beseech thee; never for thy brother's sake sacrifice thy character
for uprightness, by evil and unjust means bidding for his favour.
For the deity hates violence, and biddeth all men get lawful gains
without plundering others. Wealth unjustly gotten, though it bring
some power, is to be eschewed. The breath of heaven and the earth
are man's common heritage, wherein to store his home, without taking
the goods of others, or wresting them away by force. Me did Hermes
at a critical time, to my sorrow, intrust to thy father's safe keeping
for this my lord, who now is here and wishes to reclaim me. But how
can he recover me if he be slain? How could thy sire restore the living
to the dead? Oh! consider ere that the will of heaven and thy father's
too; would the deity or would thy dead sire restore their neighbour's
goods, or would they forbear? restore them, I feel sure. It is not,
therefore, right that thou shouldst more esteem thy wanton brother
than thy righteous father. Yet if thou, prophetess as thou art and
believer in divine providence, shalt pervert the just intention of
thy father and gratify thy unrighteous brother, 'tis shameful thou
shouldst have full knowledge of the heavenly will, both what is and
what is not, and yet be ignorant of justice. Oh! save my wretched
life from the troubles which beset it, granting this as an accession
to our good fortune; for every living soul loathes Helen, seeing that
there is gone a rumour throughout Hellas that I was false unto my
lord, and took up my abode in Phrygia's sumptuous halls. Now, if I
come to Hellas, and set foot once more in Sparta, they will hear and
see how they were ruined by the wiles of goddesses, while was no traitress
to my friends after all; and so will they restore to me my virtuous
name again, and I shall give my daughter in marriage, whom no man
now will wed; and, leaving this vagrant life in Egypt, shall enjoy
the treasures in my home. Had Menelaus met his doom at some funeral
pyre, with tears should I be cherishing his memory in a far-off land,
but must lose him now when he is alive and safe? Ah! maiden, I beseech
thee, say not so; grant me this boon, I pray, and reflect thy father's
justice; for this is the fairest ornament of children, when the child
of a virtuous sire resembles its parents in character.
LEADER Piteous thy pleading, and a piteous object thou! But I fain
would hear what Menelaus will say to save his life.
MENELAUS I will not deign to throw myself at thy knees, or wet mine
eyes with tears; for were I to play the coward, I should most foully
blur my Trojan fame. And yet men say it shows a noble soul to let
the tear-drop fall in misfortune. But that will not be the honourable
course that I will choose in preference to bravery, if what I shall
say is honourable. Art thou disposed to save a stranger seeking in
mere justice to regain his wife, why then restore her and save us
likewise; if not, this will not be the first by many a time that I
have suffered, though thou wilt get an evil name. All that I deem
worthy of me and honest, all that will touch thy heart most nearly,
will I utter at the tomb of thy sire with regret for his loss. Old

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