So saying, she went down from the upper chamber, and much her heart pondered whether she should stand aloof and question her dear husband, or whether she should go up to him, and clasp and kiss his head and hands. But when she had come in and had passed over the stone threshold, she sat down opposite Odysseus in the light of the fire
beside the further wall; but he was sitting by a tall pillar, looking down, and waiting to see whether his noble wife would say aught to him, when her eyes beheld him. Howbeit she sat long in silence, and amazement came upon her soul; and now with her eyes she would look full upon his face, and now again
she would fail to know him, for that he had upon him mean raiment. But Telemachus rebuked her, and spoke, and addressed her:
“My mother, cruel mother, that hast an unyielding heart, why dost thou thus hold aloof from my father, and dost not sit by his side and ask and question him?
No other woman would harden her heart as thou dost, and stand aloof from her husband, who after many grievous toils had come back to her in the twentieth year to his native land: but thy heart is ever harder than stone.”
Then wise Penelope answered him:
“My child, the heart in my breast is lost in wonder, and I have no power to speak at all, nor to ask a question, nor to look him in the face. But if in very truth he is Odysseus, and has come home, we two shall surely know one another more certainly;
for we have signs which we two alone know, signs hidden from others.”
So she spoke, and the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus smiled, and straightway spoke to Telemachus winged words:
“Telemachus, suffer now thy mother to test me in the halls; presently shall she win more certain knowledge.
But now because I am foul, and am clad about my body in mean clothing, she scorns me, and will not yet admit that I am he. But for us, let us take thought how all may be the very best. For whoso has slain but one man in a land, even though it be a man that leaves not many behind to avenge him,
he goes into exile, and leaves his kindred and his native land; but we have slain those who were the very stay of the city, far the noblest of the youths of Ithaca
. Of this I bid thee take thought.”
Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Do thou thyself look to this, dear father; for thy
counsel, they say, is the best among men, nor could any other of mortal men vie with thee. As for us, we will follow with thee eagerly, nor methinks shall we be wanting in valor, so far as we have strength.”