فصل 26

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فصل 26

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

Chapter Twenty-six THREE DAYS WE STAYED upon that shore. We made no oars and patched no sails. We caught fish and picked fruit, and looked for nothing but what we found at our fingers’ ends. I laid my palm on his stomach, feeling it rise and fall with his breath. His shoulders were wiry with muscle, the back of his neck roughened with sunburn. I did tell him those stories. By the fire, or the morning’s light, when our pleasures were set aside. Some of it was easier than I thought it would be. There was a kind of joy in drawing Prometheus for him, in making Ariadne and Daedalus live again. But other parts were not so easy, and sometimes as I spoke an anger would come over me, and the words would curdle in my mouth. Who was he to be so patient, while I spilled my blood? I was a woman grown. I was a goddess, and his elder by a thousand generations. I did not need his pity, his attention, anything. “Well?” I would demand. “Why don’t you say something?” “I am listening,” he would answer. “You see?” I said, when I was finished with the tale. “Gods are ugly things.” “We are not our blood,” he answered. “A witch once told me that.”

On the third day he cut new oars, and I transformed waterskins and filled them, then gathered up fruit. I watched him rig the sail with easy competence, check the hull for any leaks. I said, “I don’t know what I was thinking. I cannot sail a boat. What would I have done if you hadn’t come?” He laughed. “You would have gotten there eventually, it just would have taken some of your eternity. Where do we go next?” “A shore, east of Crete. There is a small cove, half sand, half rocks, and a scrub forest in sight, and hills. Overhead, at this time of the year, the Dragon seems to point the way.” He raised his eyebrows. “If you get me close enough, I think I will be able to find it.” I watched him. “Are you going to ask what is there?” “I do not think you want me to.” Less than a month we had spent together, yet he seemed to know me better than anyone who had ever walked the world. It was a smooth voyage, the wind fresh and the sun still shy of its blistering summer heat. At night, we made our camp on whatever shores we could find. He was used to living like a herder, and I found I did not miss my gold and silver bowls, my tapestries. We roasted our fish on stick-ends, I carried fruits in my dress. If there was a house, we might offer services in return for bread and wine and cheese. He carved toys for children, patched skiffs. I had my salves, and if I kept my head covered, I could pass for an herbwoman coming to ease their aches and fevers. Their gratitude was simple and plain, and ours was the same. No one knelt. While the boat sailed beneath the blue-arched sky, we would sit together on the boards talking of the people we had met, the coastlines we passed, the dolphins that followed us for half the morning, grinning and splashing at our rails. “Do you know,” he said, “that before coming to Aiaia, I only left Ithaca once?” I nodded. “I have seen Crete and some islands on the way, and that is all. I have always wished to go to Egypt.” “Yes,” he said. “And Troy, and the great cities of Sumeria.” “Assur,” I said. “And I want to see Aethiopia. And the North as well, the ice-ribbed lands. And Telegonus’ new kingdom in the West.” We looked out over the waves, and a silence hung between us. The next sentence should be: let us go together. But I could not speak that, not now and perhaps not ever. And he would keep silent, for he did know me well. “Your mother,” I said. “Do you think she’ll be angry at us?” He snorted. “No,” he said. “She likely knew before we did.” “I would not be surprised if we come back and find her a witch.” It always made me happy to startle him, to see his evenness blown wide. “What?” “Oh, yes,” I said. “She has eyed my herbs from the beginning. I would have taught her, if there had been time. I will wager with you.”

“If you are so sure, I do not think I will take your odds.” At night we crossed the hollows of each other’s skin, and when he slept I would lay beside him, feeling the warmth where our limbs touched, watching the soft pulse at his throat. His eyes had creases, and his neck had more. When people saw us, they thought I was younger. But though I looked and sounded like a mortal, I was a bloodless fish. From my water I could see him, and all the sky behind, but I could not cross over.

Between the Dragon and Telemachus, we did at last find my old shore. It was morning when we reached the narrow bay, my father’s chariot halfway to its peak. Telemachus held the anchor stone. “Drop, or draw onto the sand?” “Drop,” I said. Hundreds of years of tides and storms had changed the shoreline’s shape, but my feet remembered the sand’s fineness, the rough grass with its burrs. In the distance drifted faint gray smoke and the sound of goat bells. I passed the jutting rocks where Aeëtes and I used to sit. I passed the forest where I had lain after my father burned me, now only a stand of straggling pines. The hills I had dragged Glaucos up were crowded with spring: strawflowers and hyacinths, lilies, violets, and sweet rock roses. And at their center, the small clutch of yellow flowers, sprung from Kronos’ blood. The old humming note rose up as if in greeting. “Do not touch them,” I said to Telemachus, but even as the words were out, I realized how foolish they were. The flowers could do nothing to him. He was himself already. I would not see a hair changed. Using my knife, I dug up each stalk by its roots. I wrapped them with soil in strips of cloth and settled them in the darkness of my bag. There was no more reason to linger. We hauled up the anchor and pointed the prow towards home. The waves and islands passed but I scarcely saw them. I was drawn taut as an archer sighting against the sky, waiting for the bird to flush. On the last evening, when Aiaia was so close I thought I could smell her blooms drifting on the sea air, I told him the story that I had kept back, of the first men who had come to my island, and what I had done to them in return. The stars were very bright, and Vesper shone like a flame overhead. “I did not tell you before because I did not want it to lie between us.” “And now you do not mind if it does?” From the darkness of my bag, the flowers sang their yellow note. “Now I want you to have the truth, whatever comes.” The light salt breeze rifled in the shore-grass. He was holding my hand against his chest. I could feel the steady beat of his blood. “I have not pressed you,” he said. “And still I will not. I know there are reasons you cannot answer me. But if—” He stopped. “I want you to know, if you go to Egypt, if you go anywhere, I want to go with you.” Pulse by pulse, his life passed under my fingers. “Thank you,” I said.

Penelope met us on Aiaia’s shore. The sun was high, and the island bloomed wildly, fruits swelling on their branches, new green growth leaping from every crook and crevice. She looked at ease amid that profusion, waving to us, calling her greetings. If she noticed a change between us, she said nothing. She embraced us both. It had been quiet, she said, no visitors, yet not quiet at all. More lion cubs had been born. A mist had covered the east bay for three days, and there had been such a torrent of rain that the stream burst its banks. Her cheeks showed her blood as she talked. We wound past the glossy laurels, the rhododendrons, through my garden and the great oak doors. I breathed my house’s air, thick with the clean smell of herbs. I felt that pleasure the bards sing of so often: homecoming. In my room the sheets of my wide, gold bed were fresh as they ever were. I could hear Telemachus telling his mother the story of Scylla. I left and went barefoot to walk the island. The earth was warm beneath my feet. The flowers tossed their bright heads. A lion followed at my heels. Was I saying farewell? I was pointed up into the sky’s wide arch. Tonight, I thought. Tonight, beneath the moon, alone. I came back when the sun was setting. Telemachus had gone to catch fish for dinner, and Penelope and I sat at the table. Her fingertips were stained green, and I could smell the spells in the air. “I have long wondered something,” I said. “When we fought over Athena, how did you know to kneel to me? That it would shame me?” “Ah. It was a guess. Something Odysseus said about you once.” “Which was?” “That he had never met a god who enjoyed their divinity less.” I smiled. Even dead he could surprise me. “I suppose that is true. You said that he shaped kingdoms, but he also shaped the thoughts of men. Before him, all the heroes were Heracles and Jason. Now children will play at voyaging, conquering hostile lands with wits and words.” “He would like that,” she said. I thought he would too. A moment passed, and I looked at her stained hands on the table before me. “And? Are you going to tell me? How goes your witchery?” She smiled her inward smile. “You were right. It is mostly will. Will and work.” “I am finished here,” I said, “one way or another. Would you like to be witch of Aiaia in my place?”

“I think I would. I think I truly would. My hair, though, it is not right. It looks nothing like yours.” “You could dye it.” She made a face. “I will say instead it has gone gray from my haggish sorceries.” We laughed. She had finished the tapestry, and it hung behind her on the wall. That swimmer, striking out into the stormy deep. “If you find yourself in want of company,” I said, “tell the gods you will take their bad daughters. I think you will have the right touch for them.” “I will consider that a compliment.” She rubbed at a smudge on the table. “And what about my son? Will he be going with you?” I realized I felt almost nervous. “If he wants to.” “And what do you want?” “I want him to come,” I said. “If it is possible. But there is a thing which still lies before me to be done. I do not know what will come of it.” Her calm gray eyes held mine. Her brow was arched like a temple, I thought. Graceful and enduring. “Telemachus has been a good son, longer than he should have been. Now he must be his own.” She touched my hand. “Nothing is sure, we know that. But if I had to trust that a thing would be done, I would trust it to you.”

I carried our dishes away, washed them carefully until they shone. My knives I whetted and laid each in its place. I wiped down the tables, I swept the floor. When I came back to my hearth, only Telemachus was there. We walked to the small clearing we both loved, the one where a lifetime ago we had spoken of Athena. “The spell I mean to do,” I said. “I do not know what will happen when I cast it. It may not even work. Perhaps Kronos’ power cannot be carried from its soil.” He said, “Then we will go back. We will go back until you are satisfied.” It was so simple. If you want it, I will do it. If it would make you happy, I will go with you. Is there a moment that a heart cracks? But a cracked heart was not enough, and I had grown wise enough to know it. I kissed him and left him there.

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