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The Tenth Muse 6

“Father! The stranger-Sam-is upset. I’m afraid he’s going crazy! Taras thought he heard him speak Hittite, and then he just…snapped!”

“Is everyone safe?”

“He’s still in his room. He hasn’t done anything to hurt any of us, but he’s frightening me. One minute he’s very angry about something, then he calms down and seems like he’s about to cry.”

“Let me see him.” Pihas strode toward the guest room. Sam was sitting on the bed with his knees wrapped in his arms. He was mumbling something to himself. He tapped Taras on the shoulder. The boy and his sister backed out of the room.

Apaliunas, give me wisdom, Pihas prayed.

He took a moment to compose himself and then, as gently as possible, he began to speak.

“Sam? It’s me, Pihas. Remember? No one is going to hurt you.” He prayed he was telling the truth. If Zarpiyas and Kunawas got their way, there was no telling what might happen to his guest.

“Taras, you say our guest spoke to you in Hittite?” The priest kept his eyes on Sam as he spoke to his servant.

“Just a single word, master: ‘watar.'”

Sam interjected something in a piquant tone. Pihas gestured with his hand that he should settle down.

“At least it sounded like ‘watar.’ I remembered from your lessons, master. I told the girls and they said I should try to talk to him. So I asked him if he spoke Hittite. He said the word ‘Hittite’ back to me and then he came unhinged.”

Pihas studied Sam’s agitated expression.

“Sam, have you taken some grief from the Hittites? Is that why their name upsets you so?”

Sam launched into another monologue. Something about bread and almonds and wine-but these were the only proper words mixed into a whirlwind of gibberish.

“You gave him something to eat, I take it?”

“Yes, father. He seemed interested to know the names of the foods on his plate. Taras, Tuwatis and I tried to teach him. Was that a mistake, father?”

“Dear me, no, daughter! We must find a way to speak to him. If he can learn our language, or teach us his, that will be best for all of us.”

Pihas repeated the words Sam seemed to know, then he extended a hand. “What else, Sam?”

He took the priest’s meaning and scanned the room. “Door,” he said, pointing to the open doorway. “Bed” He patted his mattress. There was something else at that point in Sam’s own language. By his expression, he didn’t think very highly of his accommodations. He slapped the wall with his open palm and said, “Wall,” then gestured widely with both arms. “House.”

“That’s right, Sam. House. You are in the house of Pihas.” The priest was surprised Sam was so communicative. Was he returning to his senses, or had he picked up so many Luwian words in a single afternoon?

“The house of Pihas, do you understand?”

“House of Pihas,” he repeated.

“The house of Pihas is in the country of Wilusa.”

“Wilusa?” Sam gasped, then uttered something in his own barbaric tongue. He seemed suddenly angry at the priest, as if he didn’t believe him. But why would it be so incredible to be in the country of Wilusa? Pihas gestured for him to settle down.

“Where is your house? Where is the house of Sam?”

“House of Sam?” Pihas nodded. Praise Apaliunas, he understood.

Sam’s eyes darted back and forth. He seemed at a loss, then he pointed to a spot on the floor at the end of the reach of his right arm.

“House of Pihas,” he said again. “Wilusa?”

“That’s right, Sam. The house of Pihas is in Wilusa.”

He gestured at a different spot on the floor, just to the left of the first one. “Lemnos,” he said.

So he knows the Achaian name of the island just off the coast, Pihas thought. Is he a threat after all?

He pointed at a spot nearer the center of his body. “Ejiyan Si,” he said, making gestures with his hand like the rising and falling of waves. Pihas blurted, “The Sea! Yes, if this is Wilusa,” he pointed to the first spot Sam identified on the floor,” and this is the island the Achaians call Lemnos, then here is the Sea.”

Now Sam pointed to a spot directly in front of him. “Gris,” he said. Pihas looked at him, puzzled. “Ellas?” He muttered something, agitated once again, then tried again, sarcastically for some reason: “Akheya?

“Achaia,” Pihas said, supplying the Luwian word. “Please tell me you’re not from Achaia, Sam. It could be very bad for you if you are Achaian.”

Sam pointed a bit further to his left and said, “Theresto Fyurup. Itali, Frans…” He frowned when he realized Pihas wasn’t following. The priest knew nothing of lands to the west of Achaia. Might Sam’s people be their allies-or fellow victims of their aggression? If Zarpiyas thought Sam might be able to bring help from his country….

Sam now gestured with his left hand as he pointed to spots further and further away: “Yurup, Atlanti Koshen… Amerika. House of Sam in Amerika.” He began pleading with Pihas in his own language.

“If I could understand you, Sam, I would help you. Please believe that. But I don’t know what you’re saying.” The sun was now low in the sky. It had been a very long day.

“Are you hungry, Sam? Would you like to join us for supper?”

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1 Comment

  1. Craig says:

    Well, now that you have me hooked, Dr. P., I hope further installments are coming.

    Like

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