Woman—your words, they cut me to the core! Who could move my bed?
There was a branching olive-tree inside our court, grown to its full prime, the bole like a column, thickset. Around it I built my bedroom, finished off the walls with good tight stonework, roofed it over soundly and added doors, hung well and snugly wedged. Then I lopped the leafy crown of the olive, clean-cutting the stump bare from roots up, planing it round with a bronze smoothing-adze— I had the skill—I shaped it plumb to the line to make my bedpost, bored the holes it needed with an auger. Working from there I built my bed, start to finish, I gave it ivory inlays, gold and silver fittings, wove the straps across it, oxhide gleaming red.
There’s our secret sign, I tell you, our life story! Does the bed, my lady, still stand planted firm?— I don’t know—or has someone chopped away that olive-trunk and hauled our bedstead off?
At those words a black cloud of grief came shrouding over Laertes. Both hands clawing the ground for dirt and grime, he poured it over his grizzled head, sobbing, in spasms. Odysseus’s heart shuddered, a sudden twinge went shooting up through his nostrils, watching his dear father struggle . . .