The Dancer from Atlantis

The Dancer from Atlantis by Poul Anderson

Book: The Dancer from Atlantis by Poul Anderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Poul Anderson
Tags: Science-Fiction
and
     son of the tradition?
    They must, Reid thought hopelessly. Their names are associated with the fall of Knossos and the conquest of Crete. And Knossos
will
fall. Crete
will
be overrun, in our very near future, when Atlantis goes down.
    The bronze sword he hung at his waist was from Aegeus, leaf-shaped, well-balanced, lovely and deadly. He could not fault the
     royal pair for stinginess.
    He found Theseus waiting in the hall. Except for slaves tidying up, it felt cavernously empty and still after last evening’s
     carousal. (Torch-flare; fire roaring on a central hearthstone less loudly than the chants, footstampings, lyres and syrinxes
     and drums, shouts and brags that filled the smoky air; dogs snapping after bones flung them off trestle tables; servants scurrying
     to keep the winecups filled; and through it all, Theseus seated impassive, quietly questioning the strangers.) ‘Rejoice, my
     lord,’ Reid greeted.
    ‘Rejoice.’ The prince lifted a muscle-corded arm. ‘I thought you might like to be shown our countryside.’
    ‘You are most kind, my lord. Ah … my friends—?’
    ‘My captain Diores is taking the warriors Uldin and Oleg to his estate. He’s promised them horses, and they in turn have promised
     to show the use of that saddle with footrests which Uldin brought’
    And he’ll pump them, Reid reflected, and he’ll try to split them off from Erissa and me…. Stirrups weren’t invented till millennia
     after this, were they? I read that somewhere. They were what made heavy cavalry possible. Suppose they catch on, here and
     now – what then?
    Can time be changed? Does Erissa’s Thalassocracy have to die? Must I really leave her, in an eerie kind of incest, for her
     younger self?
    If not … will the future grow into a different shape from what I knew? Will my Pamela ever be born? Will I?
    He tried to summon his wife’s image and found that harder to do than it should have been, these few days after he was lost
     from her.
    Theseus said, ‘Come,’ and led the way outside. He was broad in proportion to his height, but he walked lightly. Fair-skinned,
     tawny of hair and beard, his blunt-nosed, full-lipped features were handsome. The eyes were remarkable, set well apart and
     of an amber hue, leonine eyes. For the outing he had exchanged his gaudily embroidered festive garments for plain gray wool.
     He kept his golden headband, though, the golden brooch at his throat and bracelet on his thick wrist.
    While the wind was brisk outdoors, it was not yet an autumn gale, and the clouds it sent scudding were white. Their shadows
     swept over a huge landscape, mountains to north and northwest, the Saronic Gulf to the south and west. Across those few miles,
     against blue-green whitecaps, Reid made out a cluster he could recognize as boathouses and beached ships at the Piraeus. A
     dirt road from there to here cut a brown streak through stubblefields and dusty-green olive orchards. The whole Attic plain
     was similarly dappled with agriculture. At a distance he noticed two large houses and their outbuildings that must belong
     to wealthy men, and numerous smallholder cottages. Groves of oak or poplar usually surrounded them. The mountains were densely
     forested. This was not his Greece.
    He noticed how full of birds the sky was. Most he couldn’t name except in general terms, different kinds of thrush, dove,
     duck, heron, hawk, swan, crow. Thus far men hadn’t ruined nature. Sparrows hopped among the courtyard cobblestones. Besides
     dogs, the animals were absent that would have wandered around a farm, swine, donkeys, sheep, goats, cows, chickens, geese.
     But workers bustled among the buildings which defined the enclosure. A household this big required plenty of labor, cleaning,
     cooking, milling, baking, brewing, spinning, weaving, endlessly. Most of the staff were women, and most had young children
     near their bare feet or clinging to their worn shifts: the next generation of slaves. However,

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