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By Barry Unsworth

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When the nod came they moved quickly apart to the limits of the space. And now for a while it was as if they had decided to mock each other by imitation, circling with knees flexed, shoulders lowered in a crouch, spear points dipping slightly. For a space of time that was brief enough, but seemed protracted to Calchas, watching with the fascination of the fearful, the two circled each other on the shingle. They were lost to everything, they had stepped into a private world, from which only one would emerge to the life he had left – the waves, the painted hulls, the shit on the wind.

Perhaps it works the other way, too,' he said. ' But Chasimenos said nothing to this and did not stay to listen to more, turning abruptly on his heel and disappearing round the side of the tent. However, there was comedy in this that made up for the rudeness; the guards were taken quite by surprise and had to go lumbering after him, hoisting their spears awkwardly. Measured movement, a certain stateliness, were necessary for a person under escort; but Chasimenos, used to scuttling down palace corridors with no company but his own intriguing mind, had yet to learn this.

Naturally, the children will want a father to be just, especially since they can't achieve justice themselves. Zeus was cloud-gatherer, rain-giver, thunderer. Where did the justice come in? He glanced across at Menelaus' patchy face. That reference to the uncleanness and evil habits of Asians, had it been a dig at him? On the whole, he thought not. The representative Asian was still Paris, who had seduced Menelaus' wife while he was away at a funeral and then run off to Troy with her. All the same, these outbursts were getting more frequent all the time and more wide-ranging.

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