Menelaus stood outside the burning city,
his arms crossed, listening to Agamemnon's shouted
orders and the screams of the dying. He had already ceased to notice the all-pervasive
smell of ash. He waited, and eventually the anticipated messenger arrived.
"We have her. She is among the other valued prisoners."
The king nodded and turned, walking briskly to where the captured were kept, scanning their sooty faces for her familiar face. At last he saw her, hardly less beautiful for her disarray, huddled away from the other captives' reproachful glares.
For a moment he could not speak; then bitterness won out over love, and he said, "How good to have you back, my wife."
She looked down and did not reply, retaining what scraps of dignity she could. He cupped her chin in one hand and lifted her eyes to meet his own, asking, "Was it your intention, to precipitate such ruination? You knew, surely, that I would follow you. Perhaps you imagined that stone walls could withstand the fury of a scorned heart."
"I did not want this."
He stood, and turned away from her. "That doesn't matter now."