DISCLAIMER: Although history owns Herodotus, the version herein is owned by Renn. Pics, along with Hecuba, Gabrielle and Lila.
Are You THE Herodotus?
"Bang, bang, bang, bang!"
Hecuba's eyes flipped open and she inwardly cursed at whoever was pounding on their door in the middle of the night. Herodotus groaned and rolled toward her.
"Herodotus, wake up."
"Bang, bang, bang!"
Her husband pulled the covers up over his head. He had been milling everyone in Potadeia's grain into flour for a fortnight. The whole family had been pitching in, and they were exhausted.
Hecuba sat up in the bed, and pulled a shift on. She lit the small oil lamp that sat on the wooden table in their bedroom, and padded out to see who on earth dared to wake them all at this hour during milling season.
Lila was already up, but hung back, waiting for her mother to open the door. After all, it could be robbers, or a warlord attacking the village, or ...no, she wouldn't...
Hecuba yanked the door open and there on the doorstep, with fire in her eyes, and her hair cut short, wearing next to nothing, was her oldest daughter.
"Gabrielle, what in the name of all the gods are you doing?"
"Where is he?", she demanded. Her voice sounded like someone used to being obeyed. Time to disabuse her of that notion.
"Come in, and be quiet. You know it's milling season, and your poor father had been working from before sunrise to after sunset. Or had you forgotten with all your gallavanting around?"
Gabrielle looked at Hecuba, raised one eyebrow, and dared to sneer at her own mother.
"Speaking of gallavanting, I just got back from Eygpt," started Gabrielle.
"Oh, Eygpt! I always wanted to know what Eygpt was like," enthused Lila.
"Ask Daddy. Apparently he knows all about it," said Gabrielle.
Hecuba's heart sank. Herodotus was in trouble now. Oh well, time to pay the piper. Hecuba went into the bedroom to wake her husband. Herodotus moaned, and opened sleepy, red eyes.
"Who is it?", he asked.
"At this time of night? What is wrong with that child? Tell her to go to sleep and I'll talk about it in the morning, whatever it is. Are you sure it's Gabrielle?"
Hecuba smiled and nodded.
"She didn't get married again, did she?"
"Not that she has mentioned, no. It has to do with her just comming back from Eygpt," said Hecuba.
Herodotus closed his eyes, and leaned back into the pillow.
"She always did have terrible timing," he groaned. "I'm getting up. She's like a terrier with a bone. She's not going to let it rest--or us, until she hears the whole story."
"Then I might as well fix us something to eat."
With that, Hecuba went into the pantry, and started gathering ingredients for a late night meal. She ignored both daughters, who stood in front of the firepit, blinking at her. She was happy to see Gabrielle, really she was. It was just that Gabrielle mixed with her family like oil with water.
Hecuba put olives in her bowl, some dried figs, cheese, and bread. There was stew bubbling on the banked fire, ready for just such an emergency, and Hecuba felt a pang of remorse that she hadn't known, as usual, that Gabrielle was coming, because she would have made some nutbread.
Honestly, she loved her eldest daughter, the trouble is none of them could ever quite figure out what to do with her. Gabrielle was a dreamer, a poet, a scrappy kid who was forever into mischief--and when she ran off, Hecuba feared for her life. Headstrong, impatient...all the traits Hecuba loved in her husband.
Hecuba cut the cheese, while Gabielle talked quietly with Lila. It was a nice lull before the storm. Speaking of which, Herodotus, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes, stumbled into the front room. His tunic was askew, he was unshaven, and his feet were bare. Hecuba smiled in spite of herself. Gabrielle puffed up like a banty rooster.
"There you are. Daddy, I just got back from Eygpt. All the people in Elephantine were talking about a Greek man who had visited there. He asked them for their stories and wrote them on scrolls. And do you know what his name was?"
Herodotus ducked a little, then glared at Gabrielle. He turned from her slightly, rolling his eyes and tapping his foot.
"Yeah, Herodotus was his name.", said Herodotus.
"It was you, Daddy. All this time, I felt bad about running away and going on adventures. I felt guilty about my scrolls. And you..."Gabrielle poked her father with her forefinger "You did the same thing when you were my age."
Gabrielle kept poking, and Herodotus turned a pleading look at Hecuba. "Tell your daughter to stop that."
"They said you traveled the Known World--from Livonia to Eygpt, and even into the lands of the barbarians. And you never said a word about it." Gabrielle poked Herodotus again.
"Stop poking me. Will you stop!", said Herodotus.
"Gabrielle," said her mother.
Gabrielle crossed her arms over her chest. She and Herodotus glared at each other. "Where are they, Daddy?", she asked.
Herodotus sighed. He gave Hecuba a look, and she knew the game was over. He slumped his shoulders.
"In the trunk in my shop."
"Good, I want to read them.", Gabrielle took Lila's lamp from her and turned toward the door.
"You'll read them tommorrow. Eat, and we'll tell you both the story,"said Hecuba.
She finally got them all settled at the table, and put the food in front of them. They attacked their supper like a family of wolves.It made Hecuba proud that she could always prepare something her whole family liked. The stew wasn't all that good to her, though, because she knew what Gabrielle's reaction to their story was likely to be. Hecuba pushed her food around in her plate with her spoon. Herodotus caught her eye and gave her an encouraging smile.
With his plate empty, Herodotus leaned back in his chair and looked from Lila to Gabrielle. He cleared his throat, as he always did when he was about to say something important.
"You know I was born in Halicarnassus." Both girls nodded. Herodotus took a deep breath, looked at Hecuba and went on. "I wanted nothing more than to see the world. I shipped out with friends from home, and started visiting all the Greek colonies. Then we saw the mainland. It was there I met Sophocles, and we hooked up as traveling companions.
We kept hearing about Eygpt, so we went to Elephantine. The people told such interesting stories. I only believed about half of them, but I wanted the people back home to see them too, so I wrote down everything people told me. I checked a lot of the wilder ones myself. Some were true, as you have seen, I'm sure."
Here he turned to Gabrielle, who nodded in agreement. Lila's eyes were growing rounder with each sentence. She was clearly astonished by her father's hidden history.
"Well, Eygpt was so much fun, that we went on to the Arabian frontier, Babylon, and way off to the Exampaios--in Scythia. All the people had different customs. They told me some shall we say, "imaginative" stories...like the one-eyed Arismaspians, who live in the north and live by stealing gold from griffins. I just don't believe people can be born with one eye as a tribe."
Gabrielle humphed and Herodotus inclined his head like a dog listening to a sound only he can hear.
"So, Miss Known-World Traveler, have you seen them?", he asked.
Gabrielle smirked. Such an unattractive habit in an otherwise pretty girl. She leaned towards her father.
"I have seen a Cyclops. I had to talk him out of eating me for his dinner."
Lila gave a startled gasp.
"I don't mean Cyclopses. They are giants. I mean people our size. I never saw any."
"Well, in that case...You traveled with Sophocles? I saw him two years ago. He was quite the ladies man," said Gabrielle.
Herodotus gave Hecuba a desperate look, obviously not liking where this conversation was going. When it had come time to discuss the facts of life with the girls, Herodotus had nearly died of embarrassment, and it had fallen to their mother to teach them. The man hated talking about personal matters like sex with his children.
"Do you want to hear how I met your father?", asked Hecuba.
"Yes!", said Lila. Gabrielle grinned at her. Lila was an incurable romantic.
Hecuba gave her husband a flirtacious smile, and launched into her story.
"I was part of the Trojan colony in Livonia. We were a small group and all the young men I knew were boring. I was about the marry a fellow my parents had picked out for me, when these two handsome men from Greece arrived. One had every single girl falling all over each other to impress him. The other was asking for everyone's stories and writing them down. I was fascinated. I offered myself as his assistant. I found people with good stories, and took him to record them. He was really cute."
Herodotus blushed mightily while the girls laughed. Hecuba reached over the table and patted his arm.
"Two weeks later, I left with him as his wife. We traveled down toward Greece, and Sophocles wanted to try his wings as a playwrite, so your father and I found this nice little village in Macedonia, and we settled in. The people here didn't like your father's hobby. They turned cold and distant when he talked about his adventures, so, I asked him to put his scrolls away."
Gabrielle had tears in her eyes. He gently took her father's hand.
"I'm sorry Daddy. I never understood until today."
The rooster crowed just then, and Gabrielle stood. Herodotus tried to stand, but staggered a bit from exhaustion.
"You go back to bed, Daddy, I'll do the milling. Lila and I can manage most of it ourselves, and Momma can help too."
Herodotus looked at Hecuba and Lila. Hecuba had to swallow the lump in her throat to say, "Yes, go back to bed. You deserve your rest." Lila hugged him and helped him up. Herodotus was halfway to his bed when he turned and looked at Gabrielle.
"You're sure? You have been traveling for days."
"Compaired with my usual life, it will be a vacation."
Hecuba watched HIS daughter go out to the mill and hitch up the donkey. She turned and looked at Lila, who was busy clearing up the table.
"Momma, however did you tame Daddy?", she asked. And Hecuba knew she was thinking of a certain male friend of Gabrielle's.
Hecuba patted HER daughter's hand.
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