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Title: An Egyptian Princess, Volume 3.

Author: Georg Ebers

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AN EGYPTIAN PRINCESS, Part 1.

By Georg Ebers

Volume 3.



CHAPTER VII.

Psamtik went at once from his father's apartments to the temple of the
goddess Neith.  At the entrance he asked for the high-priest and was
begged by one of the inferior priests to wait, as the great Neithotep
was at that moment praying in the holiest sanctuary of the exalted Queen
of Heaven.

     [The temples of Egypt were so constructed as to intensify the
     devotion of the worshipper by conducting him onward through a series
     of halls or chambers gradually diminishing in size.  "The way
     through these temples is clearly indicated, no digression is
     allowed, no error possible.  We wander on through the huge and
     massive gates of entrance, between the ranks of sacred animals.  The
     worshipper is received into an ample court, but by degrees the walls
     on either side approach one another, the halls become less lofty,
     all is gradually tending towards one point.  And thus we wander on,
     the sights and sounds of God's world without attract us no longer,
     we see nothing but the sacred representations which encompass us so
     closely, feel only the solemnity of the temple in which we stand.
     And the consecrated walls embrace us ever more and more closely,
     until at last we reach the lonely, resonant chamber occupied by the
     divinity himself, and entered by no human being save his priest."
     Schnaase, Kunstaeschirhtc I. 394.]

After a short time a young priest appeared with the intelligence that his
superior awaited the Prince's visit.  Psamtik had seated himself under
the shadow of the sacred grove of silver poplars bordering the shores of
the consecrated lake, holy to the great Neith.  He rose immediately,
crossed the temple-court, paved with stone and asphalte, on which the
sun's rays were darting like fiery arrows, and turned into one of the
long avenues of Sphinxes which led to the isolated Pylons before the
gigantic temple of the goddess.  He then passed through the principal
gate, ornamented, as were all Egyptian temple-entrances, with the winged
sun's disc.  Above its widely-opened folding doors arose on either side,
tower-like buildings, slender obelisks and waving flags.  The front of
the temple, rising from the earth in the form of an obtuse angle, had
somewhat the appearance of a fortress, and was covered with colored
pictures and inscriptions.  Through the porch Psamtik passed on into a
lofty entrance-chamber, and from thence into the great hall itself, the
ceiling of which was strewn with thousands of golden stars, and supported
by four rows of lofty pillars.  Their capitals were carved in imitation
of the lotus-flower, and these, the shafts of the columns, the walls of
this huge hall, and indeed every niche and corner that met the eye were
covered with brilliant colors and hieroglyphics.  The columns rose to a
gigantic height, the eye seemed to wander through immeasurable space, and
the air breathed by the worshippers was heavy with the fragrance of Kyphi
and incense, and the odors which arose from the laboratory attached to
the temple.  Strains of soft music, proceeding from invisible hands,
flowed on unceasingly, only occasionally interrupted by the deep lowing
of the sacred cows of Isis, or the shrill call of the sparrow-hawk of
Horus, whose habitations were in one of the adjoining halls.  No sooner
did the prolonged low of a cow break like distant thunder on the ear, or
the sharp cry of the sparrow-hawk shoot like a flash of lightning through
the nerves of the worshippers, than each crouching form bent lower still,
and touched the pavement with his forehead.  On a portion of this
pavement, raised above the rest, stood the priests, some wearing ostrich-
feathers on their bald and shining heads; others panther-skins over their
white-robed shoulders.  Muttering and singing, bowing low and rising
again, they swung the censers and poured libations of pure water to the
gods out of golden vessels.  In this immense temple man seemed a dwarf in
his own eyes.  All his senses even to the organs of respiration, were
occupied by objects far removed from daily life, objects that thrilled
and almost oppressed him.  Snatched from all that was familiar in his
daily existence, he seemed to grow dizzy and seek support beyond himself.
To this the voice of the priests directed him and the cries of the sacred
animals were believed to prove a divinity at hand.

Psamtik assumed the posture of a worshipper on the low, gilded and
cushioned couch set apart for him, but was unable to pay any real
devotion, and passed on to the adjoining apartment before mentioned,
where the sacred cows of Isis-Neith and the sparrow-hawk of Horus were
kept.  These creatures were concealed from the gaze of the worshippers by
a curtain of rich fabric embroidered with gold; the people were only
allowed an occasional and distant glimpse of the adorable animals.  When
Psamtik passed they were just being fed; cakes soaked in milk, salt and
clover-blossoms were placed in golden cribs for the cows, and small birds
of many-colored plumage in the beautifully-wrought and ornamented cage of
the sparrow-hawk.  But, in his present mood, the heir to the throne of
Egypt had no eye for these rare sights; but ascended at once, by means of
a hidden staircase, to the chambers lying near the observatory, where the
high-priest was accustomed to repose after the temple-service.

Neithotep, a man of seventy years, was seated in a splendid apartment.
Rich Babylonian carpets covered the floor and his chair was of gold,
cushioned with purple.  A tastefully-carved footstool supported his feet,
his hands held a roll covered with hieroglyphics, and a boy stood behind
him with a fan of ostrich-feathers to keep away the insects.

The face of the old man was deeply lined now, but it might once have been
handsome, and in the large blue eyes there still lay evidence of a quick
intellect and a dignified self-respect.

His artificial curls had been laid aside, and the bald, smooth head
formed a strange contrast to the furrowed countenance, giving an
appearance of unusual height to the forehead, generally so very low among
the Egyptians.  The brightly-colored walls of the room, on which numerous
sentences in hieroglyphic characters were painted, the different statues
of the goddess painted likewise in gay colors, and the snow-white
garments of the aged priest, were calculated to fill a stranger not
only with wonder, but with a species of awe.

The old man received the prince with much affection, and asked:

"What brings my illustrious son to the poor servant of the Deity?"

"I have much to report to thee, my father;" answered Psamtik with a
triumphant smile, "for I come in this moment from Amasis."

"Then he has at length granted thee an audience?"

"At length!"

"Thy countenance tells me that thou hast been favorably received by our
lord, thy father."

"After having first experienced his wrath.  For, when I laid before him
the petition with which thou hadst entrusted me, he was exceeding wroth
and nearly crushed me by his awful words."

"Thou hadst surely grieved him by thy language.  Didst thou approach him
as I advised thee, with lowliness, as a son humbly beseeching his
father?"

"No, my father, I was irritated and indignant."

"Then was Amasis right to be wrathful, for never should a son meet his
father in anger; still less when he hath a request to bring before him.
Thou know'st the promise, 'The days of him that honoreth his father shall
be many.'

     [This Egyptian command hears a remarkable resemblance to the fifth
     in the Hebrew decalogue, both having a promise annexed.  It occurs
     in the Prisse Papyrus, the most ancient sacred writing extant.]

In this one thing, my scholar, thou errest always; to gain thine ends
thou usest violence and roughness, where good and gentle words would more
surely prevail.  A kind word hath far more power than an angry one, and
much may depend on the way in which a man ordereth his speech.  Hearken
to that which I will now relate.  In former years there was a king in
Egypt named Snefru, who ruled in Memphis.  And it came to pass that he
dreamed, and in his dream his teeth fell out of his mouth.  And he sent
for the soothsayers and told them the dream.  The first interpreter
answered: 'Woe unto thee, O king, all thy kinsmen shall die before thee!'
Then was Snefru wroth, caused this messenger of evil to be scourged, and
sent for a second interpreter.  He answered: 'O king, live for ever, thy
life shall be longer than the life of thy kinsmen and the men of thy
house!'  Then the king smiled and gave presents unto this interpreter,
for though the interpretations were one, yet he had understood to clothe
his message in a web of fair and pleasant words.  Apprehendest thou?
then hearken to my voice, and refrain from harsh words, remembering that
to the ear of a ruler the manner of a man's speech is weightier than its
matter."

"Oh my father, how often hast thou thus admonished me!  how often have I
been convinced of the evil consequences of my rough words and angry
gestures!  but I cannot change my nature, I cannot .  .  ."

"Say rather: I will not; for he that is indeed a man, dare never again
commit those sins of which he has once repented.  But I have admonished
sufficiently.  Tell me now how thou didst calm the wrath of Amasis."

"Thou knowest my father.  When he saw that he had wounded me in the
depths of my soul by his awful words, he repented him of his anger.  He
felt he had been too hard, and desired to make amends at any price."

"He hath a kindly heart, but his mind is blinded, and his senses taken
captive," cried the priest.  "What might not Amasis do for Egypt, would
he but hearken to our counsel, and to the commandments of the gods!"

"But hear me, my father! in his emotion he granted me the life of
Phanes!"

"Thine eyes flash, Psamtik! that pleaseth me not.  The Athenian must die,
for he has offended the gods; but though he that condemns must let
justice have her way, he should have no pleasure in the death of the
condemned; rather should he mourn.  Now speak; didst thou obtain aught
further?"

"The king declared unto me to what house Nitetis belongs."

"And further naught?"

"No, my father; but art thou not eager to learn ... ?"

"Curiosity is a woman's vice; moreover, I have long known all that thou
canst tell me."

"But didst thou not charge me but yesterday to ask my father this
question?"

"I did do so to prove thee, and know whether thou wert resigned to the
Divine will, and wert walking in those ways wherein alone thou canst
become worthy of initiation into the highest grade of knowledge.
Thou hast told us faithfully all that thou hast heard, and thereby
proved that thou canst obey--the first virtue of a priest."

"Thou knewest then the father of Nitetis?"

"I myself pronounced the prayer over king Hophra's tomb."

"But who imparted the secret to thee?"

"The eternal stars, my son, and my skill in reading them."

"And do these stars never deceive?"

"Never him that truly understands them."

Psamtik turned pale.  His father's dream and his own fearful horoscope
passed like awful visions through his mind.  The priest detected at once
the change in his features and said gently: "Thou deem'st thyself a lost
man because the heavens prognosticated evil at thy birth; but take
comfort, Psamtik; I observed another sign in the heavens at that moment,
which escaped the notice of the astrologers.  Thy horoscope was a
threatening, a very threatening one, but its omens may be averted, they
may .  .  ."

"O tell me, father, tell me how!"

"They must turn to good, if thou, forgetful of all else, canst live alone
to the gods, paying a ready obedience to the Divine voice audible to us
their priests alone in the innermost and holiest sanctuary."

"Father, I am ready to obey thy slightest word."

"The great goddess Neith, who rules in Sais, grant this, my son!"
answered the priest solemnly.  "But now leave me alone," he continued
kindly, "lengthened devotions and the weight of years bring weariness.
If possible, delay the death of Phanes, I wish to speak with him before
he dies.  Yet one more word.  A troop of Ethiopians arrived yesterday.
These men cannot speak a word of Greek, and under a faithful leader,
acquainted with the Athenians and the locality, they would be the best
agents for getting rid of the doomed man, as their ignorance of the
language and the circumstances render treachery or gossip impossible.
Before starting for Naukratis, they must know nothing of the design of
their journey; the deed once accomplished, we can send them back to
Kush.--[The Egyptian name for Ethiopia.]  Remember, a secret can never be
too carefully kept!  Farewell."  Psamtik had only left the room a few
moments, when a young priest entered, one of the king's attendants.

"Have I listened well, father?"  he enquired of the old man.

"Perfectly, my son.  Nothing of that which passed between Amasis and
Psamtik has escaped thine ears.  May Isis preserve them long to thee!"

"Ah, father, a deaf man could have heard every word in the ante-chamber
to-day, for Amasis bellowed like an ox."

"The great Neith has smitten him with the lack of prudence, yet I command
thee to speak of the Pharaoh with more reverence.  But now return, keep
thine eyes open and inform me at once if Amasis, as is possible, should
attempt to thwart the conspiracy against Phanes.  Thou wilt certainly
find me here.  Charge the attendants to admit no one, and to say I am at
my devotions in the Holy of holies.  May the ineffable One protect thy
footsteps!"

     [Isis, the wife or sister of Osiris, is the phenomena of nature, by
     means of which the god is able to reveal himself to human
     contemplation.]

               ..................................

While Psamtik was making every preparation for the capture of Phanes,
Croesus, accompanied by his followers, had embarked on board a royal
bark, and was on his way down the Nile to spend the evening with
Rhodopis.

His son Gyges and the three young Persians remained in Sais, passing the
time in a manner most agreeable to them.

Amasis loaded them with civilities, allowed them, according to Egyptian
custom, the society of his queen and of the twin-sisters, as they were
called, taught Gyges the game of draughts, and looking on while the
strong, dexterous, young heroes joined his daughters in the game of
throwing balls and hoops, so popular among Egyptian maidens, enlivened
their amusements with an inexhaustible flow of wit and humor.

     [The Pharaohs themselves, as well as their subjects, were in the
     habit of playing at draughts and other similar games.  Rosellini
     gives its Rameses playing with his daughter; see also two Egyptians
     playing together, Wilkinson II.  419.  An especially beautiful
     draught-board exists in the Egyptian collection at the Louvre
     Museum.  The Egyptians hoped to be permitted to enjoy these
     pleasures even in the other world.]

     [Balls that have been found in the tombs are still to be seen; some,
     for instance, in the Museum at Leyden.]

"Really," said Bartja, as he watched Nitetis catching the slight hoop,
ornamented with gay ribbons, for the hundredth time on her slender ivory
rod, "really we must introduce this game at home.  We Persians are so
different from you Egyptians.  Everything new has a special charm for us,
while to you it is just as hateful.  I shall describe the game to Our
mother Kassandane, and she will be delighted to allow my brother's wives
this new amusement."

"Yes, do, do!"  exclaimed the fair Tachot blushing deeply.  "Then Nitetis
can play too, and fancy herself back again at home and among those she
loves; and Bartja,"  she added in a low voice,  "whenever you watch the
hoops flying, you too must remember this hour."

"I shall never forget it," answered he with a smile, and then, turning to
his future sister-in-law, he called out cheerfully, "Be of good courage,
Nitetis, you will be happier than you fancy with us.  We Asiatics know
how to honor beauty; and prove it by taking many wives."

Nitetis sighed, and the queen Ladice exclaimed, "On the contrary, that
very fact proves that you understand but poorly how to appreciate woman's
nature!  You can have no idea, Bartja, what a woman feels on finding that
her husband--the man who to her is more than life itself, and to whom she
would gladly and without reserve give up all that she treasures as most
sacred--looks down on her with the same kind of admiration that he
bestows on a pretty toy, a noble steed, or a well-wrought wine-bowl.
But it is yet a thousand-fold more painful to feel that the love which
every woman has a right to possess for herself alone, must be shared with
a hundred others!"

"There speaks the jealous wife!"  exclaimed Amasis.  "Would you not fancy
that I had often given her occasion to doubt my faithfulness?"

"No, no, my husband," answered Ladice, "in this point the Egyptian men
surpass other nations, that they remain content with that which they have
once loved; indeed I venture to assert that an Egyptian wife is the
happiest of women.

     [According to Diodorus (I. 27) the queen of Egypt held a higher
     position than the king himself.  The monuments and lists of names
     certainly prove that women could rule with sovereign power.  The
     husband of the heiress to the throne became king.  They had their
     own revenues (Diodorus I. 52) and when a princess, after death, was
     admitted among the goddesses, she received her own priestesses.
     (Edict of Canopus.)  During the reigns of the Ptolemies many coins
     were stamped with the queen's image and cities were named for them.
     We notice also that sons, in speaking of their descent, more
     frequently reckon it from the mother's than the father's side, that
     a married woman is constantly alluded to as the "mistress" or "lady"
     of the house, that according to many a Greek Papyrus they had entire
     disposal of all their property, no matter in what it consisted, in
     short that the weaker sex seems to have enjoyed equal influence with
     the stronger.]

Even the Greeks, who in so many things may serve as patterns to us,
do not know how to appreciate woman rightly.  Most of the young Greek
girls pass their sad childhood in close rooms, kept to the wheel and
the loom by their mothers and those who have charge of them, and when
marriageable, are transferred to the quiet house of a husband they do
not know, and whose work in life and in the state allows him but seldom
to visit his wife's apartments.  Only when the most intimate friends and
nearest relations are with her husband, does she venture to appear in
their midst, and then shyly and timidly, hoping to hear a little of what
is going on in the great world outside.  Ah, indeed! we women thirst for
knowledge too, and there are certain branches of learning at least, which
it cannot be right to withhold from those who are to be the mothers and
educators of the next generation.  What can an Attic mother, without
knowledge, without experience, give to her daughters?  Naught but her
own ignorance.  And so it is, that a Hellene, seldom satisfied with
the society of his lawful, but, mentally, inferior wife, turns for
satisfaction to those courtesans, who, from their constant intercourse
with men, have acquired knowledge, and well understand how to adorn it
with the flowers of feminine grace, and to season it with the salt of a
woman's more refined and delicate wit.  In Egypt it is different.  A
young girl is allowed to associate freely with the most enlightened men.
Youths and maidens meet constantly on festive occasions, learn to know
and love one another.  The wife is not the slave, but the friend of her
husband; the one supplies the deficiencies of the other.  In weighty
questions the stronger decides, but the lesser cares of life are left
to her who is the greater in small things.  The daughters grow up under
careful guidance, for the mother is neither ignorant nor inexperienced.
To be virtuous and diligent in her affairs becomes easy to a woman, for
she sees that it increases his happiness whose dearest possession she
boasts of being, and who belongs to her alone.  The women only do that
which pleases us! but the Egyptian men understand the art of making us
pleased with that which is really good, and with that alone.  On the
shores of the Nile, Phocylides of Miletus and Hipponax of Ephesus would
never have dared to sing their libels on women, nor could the fable of
Pandora have been possibly invented here!"

     [Simonides of Amorgos, an Iambic poet, who delighted in writing
     satirical verses on women.  He divides them into different classes,
     which he compares to unclean animals, and considers that the only
     woman worthy of a husband and able to make him happy must be like
     the bee.  The well-known fable of Pandora owes its origin to
     Simonides.  He lived about 650 B. C.  The Egyptians too, speak very
     severely of bad women, comparing them quite in the Simonides style
     to beasts of prey (hyenas, lions and panthers).  We find this
     sentence on a vicious woman: She is a collection of every kind of
     meanness, and a bag full of wiles.  Chabas, Papyr.  magrque Harris.
     p.  135.  Phocylides of Miletus, a rough and sarcastic, but
     observant man, imitated Simonides in his style of writing.  But the
     deformed Hipponax of Ephesus, a poet crushed down by poverty, wrote
     far bitterer verses than Phocylides.  He lived about 550 B. C.  "His
     own ugliness (according to Bernhardy) is reflected in every one of
     his Choliambics." ]

"How beautifully you speak!"  exclaimed Bartja.  "Greek was not easy to
learn, but I am very glad now that I did not give it up in despair, and
really paid attention to Croesus' lessons."

Who could those men have been," asked Darius, "who dared to speak evil of
women?"

"A couple of Greek poets," answered Amasis, "the boldest of men, for I
confess I would rather provoke a lioness than a woman.  But these Greeks
do not know what fear is.  I will give you a specimen of Hipponax's
Poetry:

              "There are but two days when a wife,
               Brings pleasure to her husband's life,
               The wedding-day, when hopes are bright,
               And the day he buries her out of his sight."

"Cease, cease,"  cried Ladice stopping her ears, that is too had.  Now,
Persians, you can see what manner of man Amasis is.  For the sake of a
joke, he will laugh at those who hold precisely the same opinion as
himself.  There could not be a better husband.

"Nor a worse wife," laughed Amasis.  "Thou wilt make men think that I am
a too obedient husband.  But now farewell, my children; our young heroes
must look at this our city of Sais; before parting, however, I will
repeat to them what the malicious Siuionides has sung of a good wife:

         "Dear to her spouse from youth to age she grows;
          Fills with fair girls and sturdy boys his house;
          Among all women womanliest seems,
          And heavenly grace about her mild brow gleams.
          A gentle wife, a noble spouse she walks,
          Nor ever with the gossip mongers talks.
          Such women sometimes Zeus to mortals gives,
          The glory and the solace of their lives."

"Such is my Ladice! now farewell!"

"Not yet!"  cried Bartja.  "Let me first speak in defence of our poor
Persia and instil fresh courage into my future sister-in-law; but no!
Darius, thou must speak, thine eloquence is as great as thy skill in
figures and swordsmanship!"

"Thou speakst of me as if I were a gossip or a shopkeeper,"--[This
nickname, which Darius afterwards earned, is more fully spoken of]--
answered the son of Hystaspes.  "Be it so; I have been burning all this
time to defend the customs of our country.  Know then, Ladice, that if
Auramazda dispose the heart of our king in his own good ways, your
daughter will not be his slave, but his friend.  Know also, that in
Persia, though certainly only at high festivals, the king's wives have
their places at the men's table, and that we pay the highest reverence to
our wives and mothers.  A king of Babylon once took a Persian wife; in
the broad plains of the Euphrates she fell sick of longing for her native
mountains; he caused a gigantic structure to be raised on arches, and the
summit thereof to be covered with a depth of rich earth; caused the
choicest trees and flowers to be planted there, and watered by artificial
machinery.  This wonder completed, he led his wife thither; from its top
she could look down into the plains below, as from the heights of
Rachined, and with this costly gift he presented her.  Tell me, could
even an Egyptian give more?"

     [This stupendous erection is said to have been constructed by
     Nebuchadnezzar for his Persian wife Amytis.  Curtius V.  5.
     Josephus contra Apion. I.  19.  Antiquities X. II. 1.  Diod. II. 10.
     For further particulars relative to the hanging-gardens, see later
     notes.]

"And did she recover?"  asked Nitetis, without raising her eyes.

"She recovered health and happiness; and you too will soon feel well and
happy in our country."

"And now," said Ladice with a smile, what, think you, contributed most
to the young queen's recovery?  the beautiful mountain or the love of the
husband, who erected it for her sake?"

"Her husband's love," cried the young girls.

"But Nitetis would not disdain the mountain either," maintained Bartja,
"and I shall make it my care that whenever the court is at Babylon, she
has the hanging-gardens for her residence."

"But now come," exclaimed Amasis, "unless you wish to see the city in
darkness.  Two secretaries have been awaiting me yonder for the last two
hours.  Ho! Sachons! give orders to the captain of the guard to accompany
our noble guests with a hundred men."

"But why? a single guide, perhaps one of the Greek officers, would be
amply sufficient."

"No, my young friends, it is better so.  Foreigners can never be too
prudent in Egypt.  Do not forget this, and especially be careful not to
ridicule the sacred animals.  And now farewell, my young heroes, till we
meet again this evening over a merry wine-cup."

The Persians then quitted the palace, accompanied by their interpreter,
a Greek, but who had been brought up in Egypt, and spoke both languages
with equal facility.

     [Psamtik I. is said to have formed a new caste, viz.: the caste of
     Interpreters, out of those Greeks who had been born and bred up in
     Egypt.  Herod. II. 154.  Herodotus himself was probably conducted by
     such a "Dragoman."]

Those streets of Sais which lay near the palace wore a pleasant aspect.
The houses, many of which were five stories high, were generally covered
with pictures or hieroglyphics; galleries with balustrades of carved and
gaily-painted wood-work, supported by columns also brightly painted, ran
round the walls surrounding the courts.  In many cases the proprietor's
name and rank was to be read on the door, which was, however, well closed
and locked.  Flowers and shrubs ornamented the flat roofs, on which the
Egyptians loved to spend the evening hours, unless indeed, they preferred
ascending the mosquito-tower with which nearly every house was provided.
These troublesome insects, engendered by the Nile, fly low, and these
little watch-towers were built as a protection from them.

The young Persians admired the great, almost excessive cleanliness, with
which each house, nay, even the streets themselves, literally shone.  The
door-plates and knockers sparkled in the sun; paintings, balconies and
columns all had the appearance of having been only just finished, and
even the street-pavement looked as if it were often scoured.

     [The streets of Egyptian towns seem to have been paved, judging from
     the ruins of Alabastron and Memphis.  We know at least with
     certainty that this was the case with those leading to the temples.]

But as the Persians left the neighborhood of the Nile and the palace, the
streets became smaller.  Sais was built on the slope of a moderately high
hill, and had only been the residence of the Pharaohs for two centuries
and a half, but, during that comparatively short interval, had risen from
an unimportant place into a town of considerable magnitude.

On its river-side the houses and streets were brilliant, but on the hill-
slope lay, with but few more respectable exceptions, miserable, poverty-
stricken huts constructed of acacia-boughs and Nile-mud.  On the north-
west rose the royal citadel.

"Let us turn back here," exclaimed Gyges to his young companions.  During
his father's absence he was responsible as their guide and protector, and
now perceived that the crowd of curious spectators, which had hitherto
followed them, was increasing at every step.

"I obey your orders," replied the interpreter, "but yonder in the valley,
at the foot of that hill, lies the Saitic city of the dead, and for
foreigners I should think that would be of great interest."

"Go forward!"  cried Bartja.  "For what did we leave Persia, if not to
behold these remarkable objects?"

On arriving at an open kind of square surrounded by workmen's booths,
and not far from the city of the dead, confused cries rose among the
crowd behind them.

     [Artisans, as well among the ancient as the modern Egyptians, were
     accustomed to work in the open air.]

The children shouted for joy, the women called out, and one voice louder
than the rest was heard exclaiming: "Come hither to the fore-court of the
temple, and see the works of the great magician, who comes from the
western oases of Libya and is endowed with miraculous gifts by Chunsu,
the giver of good counsels, and by the great goddess Hekt."

"Follow me to the small temple yonder," said the interpreter, "and you
will behold a strange spectacle."  He pushed a way for himself and the
Persians through the crowd, obstructed in his course by many a sallow
woman and naked child; and at length came back with a priest, who
conducted the strangers into the fore-court of the temple.  Here,
surrounded by various chests and boxes, stood a man in the dress of a
priest; beside him on the earth knelt two negroes.  The Libyan was a man
of gigantic stature, with great suppleness of limb and a pair of piercing
black eyes.  In his hand he held a wind-instrument resembling a modern
clarionet, and a number of snakes, known in Egypt to be poisonous, lay
coiling themselves over his breast and arms.

On finding himself in the presence of the Persians he bowed low, inviting
them by a solemn gesture to gaze at his performances; he then cast off
his white robe and began all kinds of tricks with the snakes.

He allowed them to bite him, till the blood trickled down his cheeks;
compelled them by the notes of his flute to assume an erect position and
perform a kind of dancing evolution; by spitting into their jaws he
transformed them to all appearance into motionless rods; and then,
dashing them all on to the earth, performed a wild dance in their midst,
yet without once touching a single snake.

Like one possessed, he contorted his pliant limbs until his eyes seemed
starting from his head and a bloody foam issued from his lips.

Suddenly he fell to the ground, apparently lifeless.  A slight movement
of the lips and a low hissing whistle were the only signs of life; but,
on hearing the latter, the snakes crept up and twined themselves like
living rings around his neck, legs and body.  At last he rose, sang a
hymn in praise of the divine power which had made him a magician, and
then laid the greater number of his snakes in one of the chests,
retaining a few, probably his favorites, to serve as ornaments for his
neck and arms.

The second part of this performance consisted of clever conjuring-tricks,
in which he swallowed burning flax, balanced swords while dancing, their
points standing in the hollow of his eye; drew long strings and ribbons
out of the noses of the Egyptian children, exhibited the well-known cup-
and-ball trick, and, at length, raised the admiration of the spectators
to its highest pitch, by producing five living rabbits from as many
ostrich-eggs.

The Persians formed no unthankful portion of the assembled crowd; on the
contrary, this scene, so totally new, impressed them deeply.

They felt as if in the realm of miracles, and fancied they had now seen
the rarest of all Egyptian rarities.  In silence they took their way back
to the handsomer streets of Sais, without noticing how many mutilated
Egyptians crossed their path.  These poor disfigured creatures were
indeed no unusual sight for Asiatics, who punished many crimes by the
amputation of a limb.  Had they enquired however, they would have heard
that, in Egypt, the man deprived of his hand was a convicted forger, the
woman of her nose, an adulteress; that the man without a tongue had been
found guilty of high treason or false witness; that the loss of the ears
denoted a spy, and that the pale, idiotic-looking woman yonder had been
guilty of infanticide, and had been condemned to hold the little corpse
three days and three nights in her arms.  What woman could retain her
senses after these hours of torture?--[Diodorus I. 77.]

The greater number of the Egyptian penal laws not only secured the
punishment of the criminal, but rendered a repetition of the offence
impossible.

The Persian party now met with a hindrance, a large crowd having
assembled before one of the handsomest houses in the street leading to
the temple of Neith.  The few windows of this house that could be seen
(the greater number opening on the garden and court) were closed with
shutters, and at the door stood an old man, dressed in the plain white
robe of a priest's servant.  He was endeavoring, with loud cries, to
prevent a number of men of his own class from carrying a large chest out
of the house.

"What right  have you  to rob my master?" he shrieked indignantly.
"I am the guardian of this house, and when my master left for Persia (may
the gods destroy that land!) he bade me take especial care of this chest
in which his manuscripts lay."

"Compose yourself, old Hib!"  shouted one of these inferior priests, the
same whose acquaintance we made on the arrival of the Asiatic Embassy.
"We are here in the name of the high-priest of the great Neith, your
master's master.  There must be queer papers in this box, or Neithotep
would not have honored us with his commands to fetch them."

"But I will not allow my master's papers to be stolen," shrieked the old
man.  "My master is the great physician Nebenchari, and I will secure his
rights, even if I must appeal to the king himself."

"There," cried the other, "that will do; out with the chest, you fellows.
Carry it at once to the high-priest; and you, old man, would do more
wisely to hold your tongue and remember that the high-priest is your
master as well as mine.  Get into the house as quick as you can, or to-
morrow we shall have to drag you off as we did the chest to-day!"  So
saying, he slammed the heavy door, the old man was flung backward into
the house and the crowd saw him no more.

The Persians had watched this scene and obtained an explanation of its
meaning from their interpreter.  Zopyrus laughed on hearing that the
possessor of the stolen chest was the oculist Nebenchari, the same who
had been sent to Persia to restore the sight of the king's mother, and
whose grave, even morose temper had procured him but little love at the
court of Cambyses.

Bartja wished to ask Amasis the meaning of this strange robbery, but
Gyges begged him not to interfere in matters with which he had no
concern.  Just as they reached the palace, and darkness, which in Egypt
so quickly succeeds the daylight, was already stealing over the city,
Gyges felt himself hindered from proceeding further by a firm hand on his
robe, and perceived a stranger holding his finger on his lips in token of
silence.

"When can I speak with you alone and unobserved?"  he whispered.

"What do you wish from me?"

"Ask no questions, but answer me quickly.  By Mithras," I have weighty
matters to disclose."

"You speak Persian, but your garments would proclaim you an Egyptian."

"I am a Persian, but answer me quickly or we shall be noticed.  When can
I speak to you alone?"

"To-morrow morning."

"That is too late."

"Well then, in a quarter of an hour, when it is quite dark, at this gate
of the palace."

"I shall expect you."

So saying the man vanished.  Once within the palace, Gyges left Bartja
and Zopyrus, fastened his sword into his girdle, begged Darius to do the
same and to follow him, and was soon standing again under the great
portico with the stranger, but this time in total darkness.

"Auramazda be praised that you are there!"  cried the latter in Persian
to the young Lydian; "but who is that with you?"

"Darius, the son of Hystaspes, one of the Achaemenidae; and my friend."

The stranger bowed low and answered, "It is well, I feared an Egyptian
had accompanied you."

"No, we are alone and willing to hear you; but be brief.  Who are you and
what do you want?"

"My name is Bubares.  I served as a poor captain under the great Cyrus.
At the taking of your father's city, Sardis, the soldiers were at first
allowed to plunder freely; but on your wise father's representing to
Cyrus that to plunder a city already taken was an injury to the present,
and not to the former, possessor, they were commanded on pain of death to
deliver up their booty to their captains, and the latter to cause
everything of worth, when brought to them, to be collected in the market-
place.  Gold and silver trappings lay there in abundance, costly articles
of attire studded with precious stones  .  .  ."

"Quick, quick, our time is short," interrupted Gyges.

"You are right.  I must be more brief.  By keeping for myself an
ointment-box sparkling with jewels, taken from your father's palace, I
forfeited my life.  Croesus, however, pleaded for me with his conqueror
Cyrus; my life and liberty were granted me, but I was declared a
dishonored man.  Life in Persia became impossible with disgrace lying
heavily on my soul; I took ship from Smyrna to Cyprus, entered the army
there, fought against Amasis, and was brought hither by Phanes as a
prisoner-of-war.  Having always served as a horse-soldier, I was placed
among those slaves who had charge of the king's horses, and in six years
became an overseer.  Never have I forgotten the debt of gratitude I owe
to your father; and now my turn has come to render him a service."

"The matter concerns my father? then speak--tell me, I beseech you!"

"Immediately.  Has Croesus offended the crown prince?"

"Not that I am aware of."

"Your father is on a visit to Rhodopis this evening, at Naukratis?"

"How did you hear this?"

"From himself.  I followed him to the boat this morning and sought to
cast myself at his feet."

"And did you succeed?"

"Certainly.  He spoke a few gracious words with me, but could not wait to
hear what I would say, as his companions were already on board when he
arrived.  His slave Sandon, whom I know, told me that they were going to
Naukratis, and would visit the Greek woman whom they call Rhodopis."

"He spoke truly."

"Then you must speed to the rescue.  At the time that the market-place
was full."

     [The forenoon among the Greeks was regulated by the business of the
     market.  "When the market-place begins to fill, when it is full,
     when it becomes empty."  It would be impossible to define this
     division of time exactly according to our modern methods of
     computation, but it seems certain that the market was over by the
     afternoon.  The busiest hours were probably from 10 till 1.  At the
     present day the streets of Athens are crowded during those hours;
     but in Summer from two to four o'clock are utterly deserted.]

"Ten carriages and two boats, full of Ethiopian soldiers under the
command of an Egyptian captain, were sent off to Naukratis to surround
the house of Rhodopis and make captives of her guests."

"Ha, treachery!"  exclaimed Gyges.

"But how can they wish to injure your father?"  said Darius.  "They know
that the vengeance of Cambyses--"

"I only know," repeated Bubares, "that this night the house of Rhodopis,
in which your father is, will be surrounded by Ethiopian soldiers.  I
myself saw to the horses which transport them thither and heard Pentaur,
one of the crown-prince's fan-bearers, call to them, 'Keep eyes and ears
open, and let the house of Rhodopis be surrounded, lest he should escape
by the back door.  If possible spare his life, and kill him only if he
resist.  Bring him alive to Sais, and you shall receive twenty rings of
gold.'"

     [It is no longer a matter of question, that before the time of the
     Persians, and therefore at this point of our history, no money had
     been coined in Egypt.  The precious metals were weighed out and used
     as money in the shape of rings, animals, etc.  On many of the
     monuments we see people purchasing goods and weighing out the gold
     in payment; while others are paying their tribute in gold rings.
     These rings were in use as a medium of payment up to the time of the
     Ptolemies.  Pliny XXXIII.  I.  Balances with weights in the form of
     animals may be seen in Wilkinson.  During the reigns of the
     Ptolemies many coins were struck.]

"But could that allude to my father?"

"Certainly not," cried Darius.

"It is impossible to say," murmured Bubares.  "In this country one can
never know what may happen."

"How long does it take for a good horse to reach Naukratis?"

"Three hours, if he can go so long, and the Nile has not overflowed the
road too much."

"I will be there in two."

"I shall ride with you," said Darius.

"No, you must remain here with Zopyrus for Bartja's protection.  Tell the
servants to get ready."

"But Gyges--"

"Yes, you will stay here and excuse me to Amasis.  Say I could not come
to the evening revel on account of headache, toothache, sickness,
anything you like."

"I shall ride Bartja's Nicaean horse; and you, Bubares, will follow me on
Darius's.  You will lend him, my brother?"

"If I had ten thousand, you should have them all."

"Do you know the way to Naukratis, Bubares?"

"Blindfold."

"Then go, Darius, and tell them to get your horse and Bartja's ready!
To linger would be sin.  Farewell Darius, perhaps forever!  Protect
Bartja!  Once more, farewell!"




CHAPTER VIII.

It wanted two hours of midnight.  Bright light was streaming through the
open windows of Rhodopis' house, and sounds of mirth and gaiety fell on
the ear.  Her table had been adorned with special care in Croesus' honor.

On the cushions around it lay the guests with whom we are already
acquainted: Theodorus, Ibykus, Phanes, Aristomachus, the merchant
Theopompus of Miletus, Croesus and others, crowned with chaplets of
poplar and roses.

Theodorus the sculptor was speaking: "Egypt seems to me," he said, "like
a girl who persists in wearing a tight and painful shoe only because it
is of gold, while within her reach he beautiful and well-fitting slippers
in which she could move at ease, if she only would."

"You refer to the Egyptians' pertinacity in retaining traditional forms
and customs?"  asked Croesus.

"Certainly I do," answered the sculptor.  "Two centuries ago Egypt was
unquestionably the first of the nations.  In Art and Science she far
excelled us; but we learnt their methods of working, improved on them,
held firm to no prescribed proportions, but to the natural types alone,
gave freedom and beauty to their unbending outlines, and now have left
our masters far behind us.  But how was this possible? simply because the
Egyptians, bound by unalterable laws, could make no progress; we, on the
contrary, were free to pursue our course in the wide arena of art as far
as will and power would allow."

"But how can an artist be compelled to fashion statues alike, which are
meant to differ from each other in what they represent?"

"In this case that can be easily explained.  The entire human body is
divided by the Egyptians into 21 1/4 parts, in accordance with which
division the proportion of each separate limb is regulated.  I, myself,
have laid a wager with Amasis, in presence of the first Egyptian
sculptor, (a priest of Thebes), that, if I send my brother Telekles, in
Ephesus, dimensions, proportion and attitude, according to the Egyptian
method, he and I together can produce a statue which shall look as if
sculptured from one block and by one hand, though Telekles is to carve
the lower half at Ephesus, and I the upper here in Sais, and under the
eye of Amasis."

     [These numbers, and the story which immediately follows, are taken
     from Diodorus I. 98.  Plato tells us that, in his time, a law
     existed binding the Egyptian artists to execute their works with
     exactly the same amount of beauty or its reverse, as those which had
     been made more than a thousand years before.  This statement is
     confirmed by the monuments; but any one well acquainted with
     Egyptian art can discern a marked difference in the style of each
     epoch.  At the time of the ancient kingdom the forms were compressed
     and stunted; under Seti I. beauty of proportion reached its highest
     point.  During, and after the 20th dynasty, the style declined in
     beauty; in the 26th, under the descendants of Psammetichus, we meet
     with a last revival of art, but the ancient purity of form was never
     again attained.]

"And shall you win your wager?"

"Undoubtedly.  I am just going to begin this trick of art; it will as
little deserve the name of a work of art, as any Egyptian statue."

"And yet there are single sculptures here which are of exquisite
workmanship; such, for instance, as the one Amasis sent to Samos as a
present to Polykrates.  In Memphis I saw a statue said to be about three
thousand years old, and to represent a king  who built the great Pyramid,
which excited my admiration in every respect.  With what certainty and
precision that unusually hard stone has been wrought! the muscles, how
carefully carved! especially in the breast, legs and feet; the harmony of
the features too, and, above all, the polish of the whole, leave nothing
to be desired."

"Unquestionably.  In all the mechanism of art, such as precision and
certainty in working even the hardest materials, the Egyptians, though
they have so long stood still in other points, are still far before us;
but to model form with freedom, to breathe, like Prometheus, a soul into
the stone, they will never learn until their old notions on this subject
have been entirely abandoned.  Even the pleasing varieties of corporeal
life cannot be represented by a system of mere proportions, much less
those which are inner and spiritual.  Look at the countless statues which
have been erected during the last three thousand years, in all the
temples and palaces from Naukratis up to the Cataracts.  They are all of
one type, and represent men of middle age, with grave but benevolent
countenances.  Yet they are intended, some as statues of aged monarchs,
others to perpetuate the memory of young princes.  The warrior and the
lawgiver, the blood-thirsty tyrant and the philanthropist are only
distinguished from each other by a difference in size, by which the
Egyptian sculptor expresses the idea of power and strength.  Amasis
orders a statue just as I should a sword.  Breadth and length being
specified, we both of us know quite well, before the master has begun his
work, what we shall receive when it is finished.  How could I possibly
fashion an infirm old man like an eager youth? a pugilist like a runner
in the foot-race? a poet like a warrior?  Put Ibykus and our Spartan
friend side by side, and tell me what you would say, were I to give to
the stern warrior the gentle features and gestures of our heart-ensnaring
poet."

"Well, and how does Amasis answer your remarks on this stagnation in
art?"

"He deplores it; but does not feel himself strong enough to abolish the
restrictive laws of the priests."

"And yet,"  said the Delphian, "he has given a large sum towards the
embellishment of our new temple, expressly, (I use his own words) for the
promotion of Hellenic art!"

"That is admirable in him," exclaimed Croesus.  "Will the Alkmaeonidae
soon have collected the three hundred talents necessary for the
completion of the temple?  Were I as rich as formerly I would gladly
undertake the entire cost; notwithstanding that your malicious god so
cruelly deceived me, after all my offerings at his shrine.  For when I
sent to ask whether I should begin the war with Cyrus, he returned this
answer: I should destroy a mighty kingdom by crossing the river Halys.
I trusted the god, secured the friendship of Sparta according to his
commands, crossed the boundary stream, and, in so doing, did indeed
destroy a mighty kingdom; not however that of the Medes and Persians, but
my own poor Lydia, which, as a satrapy of Cambyses, finds its loss of
independence a hard and uncongenial yoke."

"You blame the god unjustly," answered Phryxus.  It cannot be his fault
that you, in your human conceit, should have misinterpreted his oracle.
The answer did not say 'the kingdom of Persia,' but  'a kingdom' should
be destroyed through your desire for war.  Why did you not enquire what
kingdom was meant?  Was not your son's fate truly prophesied by the
oracle? and also that on the day of misfortune he would regain his
speech?  And when, after the fall of Sardis, Cyrus granted your wish to
enquire at Delphi whether the Greek gods made a rule of requiting their
benefactors by ingratitude, Loxias answered that he had willed the best
for you, but was controlled by a mightier power than himself, by that
inexorable fate which had foretold to thy great ancestor, that his fifth
successor was doomed to destruction."

"In the first days of my adversity I needed those words far more than
now," interrupted Croesus.  "There was a time when I cursed your god and
his oracles; but later, when with my riches my flatterers had left me,
and I became accustomed to pronounce judgment on my own actions, I saw
clearly that not Apollo, but my own vanity had been the cause of my ruin.
How could 'the kingdom to be destroyed' possibly mean mine, the mighty
realm of the powerful Croesus, the friend of the gods, the hitherto
unconquered leader?  Had a friend hinted at this interpretation of the
ambiguous oracle, I should have derided, nay, probably caused him to be
punished.  For a despotic ruler is like a fiery steed; the latter
endeavors to kick him who touches his wounds with intent to heal; the
former punishes him who lays a hand on the weak or failing points of his
diseased mind.  Thus I missed what, if my eyes had not been dazzled, I
might easily have seen; and now that my vision is clearer, though I have
nothing to lose, I am far more often anxious than in the days when none
could possibly lose more than I.  In comparison with those days, Phryxus,
I may be called a poor man now, but Cambyses does not leave me to famish,
and I can still raise a talent for your temple."

Phryxus expressed his thanks, and Phanes remarked "The Alkmaeonida; will
be sure to erect a beautiful edifice, for they are rich and ambitious,
and desirous of gaining favor with the Amphiktyons, in order, by their
aid, to overthrow the tyrants, secure to themselves a higher position
than that of the family to which I belong, and with this, the guidance of
state-affairs."

"Is it true, as people say," asked Ibykus, "that next to Agarista with
whom Megakles received so rich a dowry, you, Croesus, have been the
largest contributor to the wealth of the Alkmaeonidae?"

"True enough," answered Croesus laughing.

"Tell us the story, I beg," said Rhodopis.

"Well," answered Croesus, "Alkmaeon of Athens once appeared at my court;
his cheerfulness and cultivation pleased me well, and I retained him near
me for some time.  One day I showed him my treasure-chambers, at the
sight of which he fell into despair, called himself a common beggar and
declared that one good handful of these precious things would make him
a happy man.  I at once allowed him to take as much gold away as he could
carry.  What think you did Alkaemmon on this? sent for high Lydian
riding-boots, an apron and a basket, had the one secured behind him, put
the others on, and filled them all with gold, till they could hold no
more.  Not content with this, he strewed gold-dust in his hair and beard
and filled his mouth to that extent that he appeared in the act of
choking.  In each hand he grasped a golden dish, and thus laden dragged
himself out of the treasure-house, falling exhausted as he crossed the
threshold.  Never have I laughed so heartily as at this sight."

"But did you grant him all these treasures?"  said Rhodopis.

"Yes, yes, my friend; and did not think even then, that I had paid too
dearly for the experience that gold can make fools even of clever men."

"You were the most generous of monarchs," cried Phanes.

"And make a tolerably contented beggar," answered Croesus.  "But tell me,
Phryxus, how much has Amasis contributed to your collection?"

"He gave fifty tons of alum."

"A royal gift!"

"And the prince Psamtik?"

"On my appealing to him by his father's munificence, he turned his back
on me, and answered with a bitter laugh: 'Collect money for the
destruction of your temple, and I am ready to double my father's
donation!'"

"The wretch!"

"Say rather: the true Egyptian!  to Psamtik everything foreign is an
abomination."

"How much have the Greeks in Naukratis contributed?"

"Beside munificent private donations, each community has given twenty
minae."

"That is much."

"Philoinus, the Sybarite, alone sent me a thousand drachmm," and
accompanied his gift with a most singular epistle.  May I read it aloud,
Rhodopis?"

"Certainly," answered she, "it will show you that the drunkard has
repented of his late behaviour."

The Delphian began: "Philoinus to Phryxus: It grieves me that at
Rhodopis' house the other night I did not drink more; for had I done so
I should have lost consciousness entirely, and so have been unable to
offend even the smallest insect.  My confounded abstemiousness is
therefore to blame, that I can no longer enjoy a place at the best table
in all Egypt.  I am thankful, however, to Rhodopis for past enjoyment,
and in memory of her glorious roastbeef (which has bred in me the wish to
buy her cook at any price) I send twelve large spits for roasting oxen,
--[Rhodopis is said to have sent such a gift to Delphi.  Herod.]--and beg
they may be placed in some treasure-house at Delphi as an offering from
Rhodopis.  As for myself, being a rich man, I sign my name for a thousand
drachmae, and beg that my gift may be publicly announced at the next
Pythian games.  To that rude fellow, Aristomachus of Sparta, express my
thanks for the effectual manner in which he fulfilled my intention in
coming to Egypt.  I came hither for the purpose of having a tooth
extracted by an Egyptian dentist said to take out teeth without causing
much pain.

     [The Egyptian dentists must have been very skilful.  Artificial
     teeth have been discovered in the jaws of mummies.  See Blumenbach
     on the teeth of the ancient Egyptians, and on mummies.]

Aristomachus, however, knocked out the defective tooth and so saved me
from an operation, the thought of which had often made me tremble.  On
recovering consciousness, I found that three teeth had been knocked into
my mouth, the diseased one and two others, which though healthy, would
probably at some future time have caused me pain.  Salute Rhodopis and
the handsome Phanes from me.  You I invite to an entertainment at my
house in Sybaris, this day year.  We are accustomed to issue invitations
somewhat early, on account of my necessary preparations.  I have caused
this epistle to be written by my slave Sophotatus in an adjoining
chamber, as merely to behold the labor of writing causes cramp in my
fingers."

A burst of laughter arose at these words, but Rhodopis said: "This letter
gives me pleasure; it proves that Philoinus is not bad at heart.  Brought
up a Sybarite" .  .  .  She was suddenly interrupted by the voice of a
stranger, who had entered unperceived, and, after apologizing to the
venerable hostess and her guests for appearing without invitation among
them, continued thus: "I am Gyges the son of Croesus; and it has not been
merely for pastime, that I have ridden over from Sais in two hours lest I
should arrive too late!"

"Menon, a cushion for our guest!" cried Rhodopis.  "Be welcome to my
house and take some repose after your wild, thoroughly Lydian, ride."

"By the dog, Gyges!" exclaimed Croesus.

     [An oath of Rhadamanthus used in order to avoid mentioning the names
     of the gods.  Schol.  Aristoph.  Aves.  520.]

"What brings thee here at this hour?  I begged thee not to quit Bartja's
side .  .  .  But how thou look'st!  what is the matter? has aught
happened? speak, speak!"

In the first moment Gyges could not answer a word.  To see his beloved
father, for whose very life he had been in such anxiety, a safe and happy
guest at this rich banquet, seemed to rob him of his speech a second
time.  At last, however, he was able to say: "The gods be praised, my
father, that I see thee safe once more!  Think not I forsook my post
thoughtlessly.  Alas! I am forced to appear as a bird of evil omen in
this cheerful assembly.  Know at once, ye guests, for I dare not lose
time in preparing my words, that a treacherous assault awaits ye!"

They all sprang up as if struck by lightning.  Aristomachus silently
loosened his sword in its scabbard; Phanes extended his arms as if to
discern whether the old athletic elasticity still dwelt there.

"What can it be?--what is their design?"  echoed from all sides.

"This house is surrounded by Ethiopian soldiers!"  answered Gyges.
"A faithful fellow confided to me that the crown-prince had designs on
one of your number; he was to be taken alive if possible, but killed if
he resisted.  Dreading lest thou shouldst be this victim, my father,
I sped hither.  The fellow had not lied.  This house is surrounded.  My
horse shied on reaching your garden-gate, Rhodopis, jaded as he was.  I
dismounted, and could discern behind every bush the glitter of weapons
and the eager eyes of men lying in ambush.  They allowed us, however, to
enter unmolested."

At this moment Knakias rushed in crying, "Important news!  On my way to
the Nile to fetch water with which to prepare the wine-cup, I have just
met a man who, in his haste, nearly ran over me.

     [The water of the Nile has a very agreeable flavor.  It is called by
     one traveller the champagne among the waters.  The ladies of the
     Sultan's harem send for this water even from Constantinople, and the
     Arabs say, that if Mahomet had drunk thereof he would have desired
     to live for ever.]

It was an Ethiop, one of Phanes' boatmen, and he tells that just as he
sprang out of the boat to bathe, a royal bark came alongside and a
soldier asked the rest of the crew in whose service they were.  On the
helmsman answering, 'in Phanes' service,' the royal boat passed on
slowly.  He, however, (the rower who was bathing), seated himself in fun
on the rudder of the royal boat, and heard one Ethiopian soldier on board
say to another, 'Keep that craft well in sight; now we know where the
bird sits, and it will be easy to catch him.  Remember, Psamtik has
promised us fifty gold rings if we bring the Athenian to Sais dead or
alive.'  This is the report of Sebek, who has been in your service seven
years, O Phanes."

To both these accounts Phanes listened calmly.  Rhodopis trembled.
Aristomachus exclaimed, "Not a hair of your head shall be touched, if
Egypt perish for it!"  Croesus advised prudence.  A tremendous excitement
had mastered the whole party.

At last Phanes broke silence, saying: "Reflection is never more necessary
than in a time of danger.  I have thought the matter over, and see
clearly that escape will be difficult.  The Egyptians will try to get
rid of me quietly.  They know that I intend going on board a Phoecean
trireme, which sets sail for Sigeum at a very early hour to-morrow
morning, and have therefore no time to lose, if they will seize me.  Your
garden, Rhodopis, is entirely surrounded, and were I to remain here, your
house would no longer be respected as a sanctuary; it would be searched
and I taken in it.  There can be no doubt that a watch has been set over
the Phoecean ship also.  Blood shall not be shed in vain on my account."

"But  you  dare  not  surrender!"  cried  Aristomachus.

"No, no, I have a plan," shouted Theopompus the Milesian merchant.  "At
sunrise to-morrow a ship sails for Miletus laden with Egyptian corn, but
not from Naukratis, from Canopus.  Take the noble Persian's horse and
ride thither.  We will cut a way for you through the garden."

"But," said Gyges, "our little band is not strong enough to carry out
such an attempt.  We number in all ten men, and of these only three have
swords; our enemies, on the other hand, number at least a hundred, and
are armed to the teeth."

"Lydian!"  cried Aristomachus, "wert thou ten times more fainthearted
than thou art, and were our enemies double their number, I at least, will
fight them!"

Phanes grasped his friend's hand.  Gyges turned pale.  This brave warrior
had called him fainthearted; and again he could find no words to answer;
for at every stirring emotion his tongue failed him.  Suddenly the blood
mounted to his face; his words came quickly and with decision: "Athenian,
follow me! and thou, Spartan, who art not wont to use words heedlessly,
call no man fainthearted again before thou knowest him.  Friends, Phanes
is safe,  Farewell, father!"

The remaining guests surveyed these two departing men in silent wonder.
As they stood there, silently listening, the sound of two horses
galloping swiftly away fell on their ear, and after a longer interval a
prolonged whistle from the Nile and a cry of distress.

"Where is Knakias?"  said Rhodopis to one of her slaves.

"He went into the garden with Phanes and the Persian," was the answer,
and as it was being spoken, the old slave re-entered, pale and trembling.

"Have you seen my son?"  cried Croesus.  "Where is Phanes?"

"I was to bid you farewell from them both."

"Then they are gone.--Whither?  How was it possible?" .  .  .

"The Athenian and the Persian," began the slave, "had a slight dispute in
the anteroom.  This over, I was told to divest both of their robes.
Phanes then put on the stranger's trousers, coat and girdle; on his own
curls he placed the pointed Persian cap.  The stranger wrapped himself in
the Athenian's chiton and mantle, placed the golden circlet above his
brow, caused the hair to be shaved from his upper lip, and ordered me to
follow him into the garden.  Phanes, whom in his present dress, none
could imagine to be other than a Persian, mounted one of the horses still
waiting before the gate; the stranger called after him, 'Farewell Gyges,
farewell beloved Persian, a pleasant journey to thee, Gyges!'  The
servant, who had been waiting, followed on the other horse.  I could hear
the clatter of arms among the bushes, but the Athenian was allowed to
depart unmolested, the soldiers, without doubt, believing him to be a
Persian.

"On returning to the house the stranger's orders were: 'Accompany me to
Phanes' bark, and cease not to call me by the Athenian's name.'  'But the
boatmen will betray you,' I said.  'Then go alone to them,' he answered,
'and command them to receive me as their master, Phanes.'  Then I prayed
him to allow me to take the dress of the fugitive and become a prey to
the pursuers; but he would by no means allow this, and said my gait and
carriage would betray me.  There alas! he spoke truly, for only the free
man can walk erect; the neck of the slave is bent; the schools in which
the noble and the freeborn learn grace and beauty of movement are not for
him.  And so it must remain, the children must be even as the fathers;
can the unclean onion-root produce a rose, or the unsightly radish a
hyacinth?  Constant bondage bows the neck of the slave, but the
consciousness of freedom gives dignity to the stature."

"But what has become of my son?"  interrupted Croesus.

"He would not accept my poor offer, and took his seat in the bark,
sending a thousand greetings unto thee, O king!  I cried after him,
'Farewell Phanes!  I wish thee a prosperous journey, Phanes!'  At that
moment a cloud crossed the moon; and from out the thick darkness I heard
screams, and cries for help; they did not, however, last long, a shrill
whistle followed, then all was silent; and the measured strokes of oars
were the only sounds that fell on my ear.  I was on the point of
returning to relate what I had seen, when the boatman Sebek swam up once
more and told as follows: The Egyptians had caused a leak to be made in
Phanes' boat, and at a short distance from land it had filled and began
to sink.  On the boatmen crying for help, the royal bark, which was
following, had come up and taken the supposed Phanes on board, but had
prevented the rowers from leaving their benches.  They all went down with
the leaking boat, the daring Sebek alone excepted.  Gyges is on board the
royal boat; Phanes has escaped, for that whistle must have been intended
for the soldiers in ambush at the garden-gate.  I searched the bushes,
the soldiers were gone, and I could hear the sound of their voices and
weapons on their way back to Sais."

The guests listened with eager attention to this tale.  At its close a
mingled feeling of relief and anxiety was felt by all; relief that their
favorite companion had escaped so fearful a danger, anxiety for the brave
young Lydian who had risked his life to save him.  They praised his
generosity, congratulated Croesus on possessing such a son, and finally
agreed in the conclusion, that, when the crown-prince discovered the
error into which his emissaries had fallen, he must certainly release
Gyges, and even make him compensation for what he had suffered at their
hands.

The friendship already shown by Amasis, and the fear in which he
evidently stood of the Persian power, were the thoughts which had power
to calm Croesus, who soon left, in order to pass the night at the house
of Theopompus, the Milesian merchant.  At parting, Aristomachus said:
"Salute Gyges in my name; tell him I ask his forgiveness, and hope one
day either to enjoy his friendship, or, if that cannot be, to meet him as
a fair foe on the field of battle."

"Who knows what the future may bring?"  answered Croesus giving his hand
to the Spartan.




CHAPTER IX.

The sun of a new day had risen over Egypt, but was still low in the east;
the copious dew, which, on the Nile, supplies the place of rain, lay
sparkling like jewels on the leaves and blossoms, and the morning air,
freshened by a north-west wind, invited those to enjoy it who could not
bear the heat of mid-day.

Through the door of the country-house, now so well known to us, two
female figures have just passed; Melitta, the old slave, and Sappho, the
grandchild of Rhodopis.

The latter is not less lovely now, than when we saw her last, asleep.
She moves through the garden with a light quick step, her white morning
robe with its wide sleeves falling in graceful drapery over her lithe
limbs, the thick brown hair straying from beneath the purple kerchief
over her head, and a merry, roguish smile lurking round her rosy mouth
and in the dimples of her cheeks and chin.

She stooped to pick a rose, dashed the dew from it into the face of her
old nurse, laughing at her naughty trick till the clear bell-like tones
rang through the garden; fixed the flower in her dress and began to sing
in a wonderfully rich and sweet voice--

                    Cupid once upon a bed
                    Of roses laid his weary head;
                    Luckless urchin! not to see
                    Within the leaves a slumbering bee.
                    The bee awak'd--with anger wild
                    The bee awak'd, and stung the child.
                    Loud and piteous are his cries;
                    To Venus quick he runs, he flies;
                    "Oh mother!  I am wounded through--
                    "I die with pain--in sooth I do!
                    "Stung by some little angry thing.
                    "Some serpent on a tiny wing,
                    "A bee it was--for once, I know,
                    "I heard a rustic call it so."

"Isn't that a very pretty song?"  asked the laughing girl.  "How stupid
of little Eros to mistake a bee for a winged snake!  Grandmother says
that the great poet Anacreon wrote another verse to this song, but she
will not teach it me.  Tell me, Melitta, what can there be in that verse?
There, you are smiling; dear, darling Melitta, do sing me that one verse.
Perhaps though, you don't know it yourself?  No?  then certainly you
can't teach it me."

"That is a new song," answered the old woman, evading her darling's
question, "I only know the songs of the good old times.  But hark! did
not you hear a knock at the gate?"

     [The last lines which contain the point of this song are:

                    Thus he spoke, and she, the while,
                    Heard him with a soothing smile;
                    Then said, "My infant, if so much
                    "Thou feel the little wild bee's touch,
                    "How must the heart, ah!  Cupid be,
                    "The hapless heart that's stung by thee?"

     --Translation from one of Anacreon's songs]

"Yes, of course I did, and I think the sound of horses' hoofs too.  Go
and see who seeks admission so early.  Perhaps, after all, our kind
Phanes did not go away yesterday, and has come to bid us farewell once
more."

"Phanes is gone," said Melitta, becoming serious, "and Rhodopis has
ordered me to send you in when visitors arrive.  Go child, that I may
open the gate.  There, they have knocked again."

Sappho pretended to run in, but instead of obeying her nurse's orders,
stopped and hid herself behind a rose-bush, hoping to catch sight of
these early guests.  In the fear of needlessly distressing her, she had
not been told of the events of the previous evening, and at this early
hour could only expect to see some very intimate friend of her
grandmother's.

Melitta opened the gate and admitted a youth splendidly apparelled, and
with fair curling hair.

It was Bartja, and Sappho was so lost in wonder at his beauty, and the
Persian dress, to her so strange, that she remained motionless in her
hiding-place, her eyes fixed on his face.  Just so she had pictured to
herself Apollo with the beautiful locks, guiding the sun-chariot.

As Melitta and the stranger came nearer she thrust her little head
through the roses to hear what the handsome youth was saying so kindly in
his broken Greek.

She heard him ask hurriedly after Croesus and his son; and then, from
Melitta's answer, she gathered all that had passed the evening before,
trembled for Phanes, felt so thankful to the generous Gyges, and again
wondered who this youth in royal apparel could possibly be.  Rhodopis had
told her about Cyrus's heroic deeds, the fall of Croesus and the power
and wealth of the Persians, but still she had always fancied them a wild,
uncultivated people.  Now, however, her interest in Persia increased with
every look at the handsome Bartja.  At last Melitta went in to wake her
grandmother and announce the guest, and Sappho tried to follow her, but
Eros, the foolish boy whose ignorance she had been mocking a moment
before, had other intentions.  Her dress caught in the thorns, and before
she could disengage it, the beautiful Bartja was standing before her,
helping her to get free from the treacherous bush.

Sappho could not speak a word even of thanks; she blushed deeply, and
stood smiling and ashamed, with downcast eyes.

Bartja, too, generally so full of fun and spirit, looked down at her
without speaking, the color mounting to his cheeks.

The silence, however, did not last long, for Sappho, recovering from her
fright, burst into a laugh of childish delight at the silent stranger and
the odd scene, and fled towards the house like a timid fawn.

In a moment Bartja was himself again; in two strides he reached the young
girl, quick as thought seized her hand and held it fast, notwithstanding
all her struggles.

"Let me go!"  she cried half in earnest and half laughing, raising her
dark eyes appealingly to him.

"Why should I?"  he answered.  "I took you from the rose-bush and shall
hold you fast until you give me your sister there, the other rose, from
your bosom, to take home with me as a keepsake."

"Please let me go," repeated Sappho, "I will promise nothing unless you
let my hand go."

"But if I do, you will not run away again?"

"Certainly not."

"Well, then, I will give you your liberty, but now you must give me your
rose."

"There are plenty on the bush yonder, and more beautiful ones; choose
whichever you like.  Why do you want just this one?"

"To keep it carefully in remembrance of the most beautiful maiden I ever
saw."

"Then I shall certainly not give it to you; for those are not my real
friends who tell me I am beautiful, only those who tell me I am good."

"Where did you learn that?"

"From my grandmother Rhodopis."

"Very well, then I will tell you you are better than any other maiden in
the whole world."

"How can you say such things, when you don't know me at all?  Oh,
sometimes I am very naughty and disobedient.  If I were really good I
should be indoors now instead of talking to you here.  My grandmother
has forbidden me ever to stay in the garden when visitors are here, and
indeed I don't care for all those strange men who always talk about
things I cannot understand."

"Then perhaps you would like me to go away too?"

"Oh no, I can understand you quite well; though you cannot speak half so
beautifully as our poor Phanes for example, who was obliged to escape so
miserably yesterday evening, as I heard Melitta saying just this minute."

"Did you love Phanes?"

"Love him?  Oh yes,--I was very fond of him.  When I was little he always
brought me balls, dolls ninepins from Memphis and Sais; and now that I am
older he teaches me beautiful new songs."

     [Jointed dolls for children.  Wilkinson II. 427. Note 149.  In the
     Leyden Museum one of these jointed toys is to be seen, in very good
     preservation.]

"As a parting gift he brought me a tiny Sicilian lapdog, which I am going
to call Argos, because he is so white and swiftfooted.  But in a few days
we are to have another present from the good Phanes, for .  .  .  There,
now you can see what I am; I was just going to let out a great secret.
My grandmother has strictly forbidden me to tell any one what dear little
visitors we are expecting; but I feel as if I had known you a long time
already, and you have such kind eyes that I could tell you everything.
You see, when I am very happy, I have no one in the whole world to talk
to about it, except old Melitta and my grandmother, and, I don't know how
it is, that, though they love me so much, they sometimes cannot
understand how trifles can make me so happy."

"That is because they are old, and have forgotten what made them happy in
their youth.  But have you no companions of your own age that you are
fond of?"

"Not one.  Of course there are many other young girls beside me in
Naukratis, but my grandmother says I am not to seek their acquaintance,
and if they will not come to us I am not to go to them."

"Poor child! if you were in Persia, I could soon find you a friend.
I have a sister called Atossa, who is young and good, like you."

"Oh, what a pity that she did not come here with you!--But now you must
tell me your name."

"My name is Bartja."

"Bartja! that is a strange name!  Bartja-Bartja.  Do you know, I like it.
How was the son of Croesus called, who saved our Phanes so generously?"

"Gyges.  Darius, Zopyrus and he are my best friends.  We have sworn never
to part, and to give up our lives for one another," and that is why I
came to-day, so early and quite in secret, to help my friend Gyges, in
case he should need me."

"Then you rode here for nothing."

"No, by Mithras, that indeed I did not, for this ride brought me to you.
But now you must tell me your name."

"I am called Sappho."

"That is a pretty name, and Gyges sings me sometimes beautiful songs by a
poetess called Sappho.  Are you related to her?"

"Of course.  She was the sister of my grandfather Charaxus, and is called
the tenth muse or the Lesbian swan.  I suppose then, your friend Gyges
speaks Greek better than you do?"

"Yes, he learnt Greek and Lydian together as a little child, and speaks
them both equally well.  He can speak Persian too, perfectly; and what is
more, he knows and practises all the Persian virtues."

"Which are the highest virtues then according to you Persians?"

"Truth is the first of all; courage the second, and the third is
obedience; these three, joined with veneration for the gods, have made us
Persians great."

"But I thought you worshipped no gods?"

"Foolish child! who could live without a god, without a higher ruler?
True, they do not dwell in houses and pictures like the gods of the
Egyptians, for the whole creation is their dwelling.  The Divinity, who
must be in every place, and must see and hear everything, cannot be
confined within walls."

"Where do you pray then and offer sacrifice, if you have no temples?"

"On the grandest of all altars, nature herself; our favorite altar is the
summit of a mountain.  There we are nearest to our own god, Mithras, the
mighty sun, and to Auramazda, the pure creative light; for there the
light lingers latest and returns earliest."

     [From Herodotus (I. 131 and 132.), and from many other sources, we
     see clearly that at the time of the Achaemenidae the Persians had
     neither temples nor images of their gods.  Auramazda and
     Angramainjus, the principles of good and evil, were invisible
     existences filling all creation with their countless train of good
     and evil spirits.  Eternity created fire and water.  From these
     Ormusd (Auramazda), the good spirit, took his origin.  He was
     brilliant as the light, pure and good.  After having, in the course
     of 12000 years, created heaven, paradise and the stars, he became
     aware of the existence of an evil spirit, Ahriman (Angramainjus),
     black, unclean, malicious and emitting an evil odor.  Ormusd
     determined on his destruction, and a fierce strife began, in which
     Ormusd was the victor, and the evil spirit lay 3000 years
     unconscious from the effects of terror.  During this interval Ormusd
     created the sky, the waters, the earth, all useful plants, trees and
     herbs, the ox and the first pair of human beings in one year.
     Ahriman, after this, broke loose, and was overcome but not slain.
     As, after death, the four elements of which all things are composed,
     Earth, Air, Fire and Water, become reunited with their primitive
     elements; and as, at the resurrection-day, everything that has been
     severed combines once more, and nothing returns into oblivion, all
     is reunited to its primitive elements, Ahriman could only have been
     slain if his impurity could have been transmuted into purity, his
     darkness into light.  And so evil continued to exist, and to produce
     impurity and evil wherever and whenever the good spirit created the
     pure and good.  This strife must continue until the last day; but
     then Ahriman, too, will become pure and holy; the Diws or Daewa
     (evil spirits) will have absorbed his evil, and themselves have
     ceased to exist.  For the evil spirits which dwell in every human
     being, and are emanations from Ahriman, will be destroyed in the
     punishment inflicted on men after death.  From Vuller's Ulmai Islam
     and the Zend-Avesta.]

"Light alone is pure and good; darkness is unclean and evil.  Yes,
maiden, believe me, God is nearest to us on the mountains; they are his
favorite resting-place.  Have you never stood on the wooded summit of a
high mountain, and felt, amid the solemn silence of nature, the still and
soft, but awful breath of Divinity hovering around you?  Have you
prostrated yourself in the green forest, by a pure spring, or beneath the
open sky, and listened for the voice of God speaking from among the
leaves and waters?  Have you beheld the flame leaping up to its parent
the sun, and bearing with it, in the rising column of smoke, our prayers
to the radiant Creator?  You listen now in wonder, but I tell you, you
would kneel and worship too with me, could I but take you to one of our
mountain-altars."

"Oh! if I only could go there with you! if I might only once look down
from some high mountain over all the woods and meadows, rivers and
valleys.  I think, up there, where nothing could be hidden from my eyes,
I should feel like an all-seeing Divinity myself.  But hark, my
grandmother is calling.  I must go."

"Oh, do not leave me yet!"

"Is not obedience one of the Persian virtues?"

"But my rose?"

"Here it is."

"Shall you remember me?"

"Why should I not?"

"Sweet maiden, forgive me if I ask one more favor."

"Yes, but ask it quickly, for my grandmother has just called again."

"Take my diamond star as a remembrance of this hour."

"No, I dare not."

"Oh, do, do take it.  My father gave it me as a reward, the first time
that I killed a bear with my own hand, and it has been my dearest
treasure till to-day, but now you shall have it, for you are dearer to me
than anything else in the world."

Saying this, he took the chain and star from his breast, and tried to
hang it round Sappho's neck.  She resisted, but Bartja threw his arms
round her, kissed her forehead, called her his only love, and looking
down deep into the eyes of the trembling child, placed it round her neck
by gentle force.

Rhodopis called a third time.  Sappho broke from the young prince's
embrace, and was running away, but turned once more at his earnest
entreaty and the question, "When may I see you again?" and answered
softly, "To-morrow morning at this rose-bush."

"Which held you fast to be my friend."

Sappho sped towards the house.  Rhodopis received Bartja, and
communicated to him all she knew of his friend's fate, after which the
young Persian departed for Sais.

When Rhodopis visited her grandchild's bed that evening, she did not find
her sleeping peacefully as usual; her lips moved, and she sighed deeply,
as if disturbed by vexing dreams.

On his way back, Bartja met Darius and Zopyrus, who had followed at once
on hearing of their friend's secret departure.  They little guessed that
instead of encountering an enemy, Bartja had met his first love.  Croesus
reached Sais a short time before the three friends.  He went at once to
the king and informed him without reserve of the events of the preceding
evening.  Amasis pretended much surprise at his son's conduct, assured
his friend that Gyges should be released at once, and indulged in some
ironical jokes at the discomfiture of Psamtik's attempt to revenge
himself.

Croesus had no sooner quitted the king than the crown-prince was
announced.



CHAPTER X.

Amasis received his son with a burst of laughter, and without noticing
Psamtik's pale and troubled countenance, shouted: "Did not I tell thee,
that a simple Egyptian would find it no easy task to catch such a Greek
fox?  I would have given ten cities to have been by, when thy captive
proved to be the stammering Lydian instead of the voluble Athenian."

Psamtik grew paler and paler, and trembling with rage, answered in a
suppressed voice: "Is it well, my father, thus to rejoice at an affront
offered to thy son?  I swear, by the eternal gods, that but for Cambyses'
sake that shameless Lydian had not seen the light of another day.  But
what is it to thee, that thy son becomes a laughing-stock to these
beggarly Greeks!"

"Abuse not those who have outwitted thee."

"Outwitted! my plan was so subtly laid, that .  .  .

"The finer the web, the sooner broken."

"That that intriguing Greek could not possibly have escaped, if, in
violation of all established precedents; the envoy of a foreign power had
not taken it upon himself to rescue a man whom we had condemned."

"There thou art in error, my son.  We are not speaking of the execution
of a judicial sentence, but of the success or failure of an attempt at
personal revenge."

"The agents employed were, however, commissioned by the king, and
therefore the smallest satisfaction that I can demand of thee, is to
solicit from Cambyses the punishment of him who has interfered in the
execution of the royal decrees.  In Persia, where men bow to the king's
will as to the will of a god, this crime will be seen in all its
heinousness.  The punishment of Gyges is a debt which Cambyses owes us."

"But I have no intention of demanding the payment of this debt," answered
Amasis.  "On the contrary, I am thankful that Phanes has escaped.  Gyges
has saved my soul from the guilt of shedding innocent blood, and thine
from the reproach of having revenged thyself meanly on a man, to whom thy
father is indebted."

"Wilt thou then conceal the whole affair from Cambyses?"

"No, I shall mention it jestingly in a letter, as my manner is, and at
the same time caution him against Phanes.  I shall tell him that he has
barely escaped my vengeance, and will therefore certainly endeavor to
stir up the power of Persia against Egypt; and shall entreat my future
son-in-law to close his ears to this false accuser.  Croesus and Gyges
can help us by their friendship more than Phanes can injure by his
hatred."

"Is this then thy final resolve?  Can I expect no satisfaction?"

"None.  I abide by what I have said."

"Then tremble, not alone before Phanes, but before another--before one
who holds thee in his power, and who himself is in ours."

"Thou thinkest to alarm me; thou wouldst rend the bond formed only
yesterday?  Psamtik, Psamtik, I counsel thee to remember, that thou
standest before thy father and thy king."

"And thou, forget not that I am thy son!  If thou compell'st me to forget
that the gods appointed thee to be my father--if I can hope for no help
from thee, then I will resort to my own weapons."

"I am curious to learn what these may be."

"And I need not conceal them.  Know then that the oculist Nebenchari is
in our power."

Amasis turned pale.

"Before thou couldst possibly imagine that Cambyses would sue for the
hand of thy daughter, thou sentest this man to the distant realm of
Persia, in order to rid thyself of one who shared thy knowledge of the
real descent of my, so-called, sister Nitetis.  He is still there, and at
a hint from the priests will disclose to Cambyses that he has been
deceived, and that thou hast ventured to send him, instead of thine own,
the child of thy dethroned predecessor Hophra.  All Nebenchari's papers
are in our possession, the most important being a letter in thine own
hand promising his father, who assisted at Nitetis' birth, a thousand
gold rings, as an inducement to secrecy even from the priests."

"In whose hands are these papers?"  asked Amasis in a freezing tone.

"In the hands of the priesthood."

"Who speak by thy mouth?"

"Thou hast said it."

"Repeat then thy requests."

"Entreat Cambyses to punish Gyges, and grant me free powers to pursue the
escaped Phanes as it shall seem good in mine eyes."

"Is that all?"

"Bind thyself by a solemn oath to the priests, that the Greeks shall be
prevented from erecting any more temples to their false gods in Egypt,
and that the building of the temple to Apollo, in Memphis, shall be
discontinued."

"I expected these demands.  The priests have discovered a sharp weapon to
wield against me.  Well, I am prepared to yield to the wishes of my
enemies, with whom thou hast leagued thyself, but only on two conditions.
First, I insist that the letter, which I confess to have written to the
father of Nebenchari in a moment of inconsideration, be restored to me.
If left in the hands of thy party, it could reduce me from a king to the
contemptible slave of priestly intrigue."

"That wish is reasonable.  The letter shall be returned to thee, if....."

"Not another if! on the contrary, know that I consider thy petition for
the punishment of Gyges so imprudent, that I refuse to grant it.  Now
leave me and appear not again before mine eyes until I summon thee!
Yesterday I gained a son, only to lose him to-day.  Rise! I demand no
tokens of a love and humility, which thou hast never felt.  Go to the
priests when thou needest comfort and counsel, and see if they can supply
a father's place.  Tell Neithotep, in whose hands thou art as wax, that
he has found the best means of forcing me to grant demands, which
otherwise I should have refused.  Hitherto I have been willing to make
every sacrifice for the sake of upholding Egypt's greatness; but now,
when I see that, to attain their own ends, the priests can strive to move
me by the threat of treachery to their own country, I feel inclined to
regard this privileged caste as a more dangerous enemy to Egypt, than
even the Persians.  Beware, beware!  This once, having brought danger
upon Egypt through my own fatherly weakness, I give way to the intrigues
of my enemies; but, for the future, I swear by the great goddess Neith,
that men shall see and feel I am king; the entire priesthood shall be
sacrificed rather than the smallest fraction of my royal will!  Silence
--depart!"

The prince left, but this time a longer interval was necessary, before
the king could regain even outward cheerfulness sufficient to enable him
to appear before his guests.

Psamtik went at once to the commander of the native troops, ordered him
to banish the Egyptian captain who had failed in executing his revengeful
plans, to the quarries of Thebais, and to send the Ethiopians back to
their native country.  He then hurried to the high-priest of Neith, to
inform him how much he had been able to extort from the king,

Neithotep shook his head doubtfully on hearing of Amasis' threats, and
dismissed the prince with a few words of exhortation, a practice he never
omitted.

Psamtik returned home, his heart oppressed and his mind clouded with a
sense of unsatisfied revenge, of a new and unhappy rupture with his
father, a fear of foreign derision, a feeling of his subjection to the
will of the priests, and of a gloomy fate which had hung over his head
since his birth.

His once beautiful wife was dead; and, of five blooming children, only
one daughter remained to him, and a little son, whom he loved tenderly,
and to whom in this sad moment he felt drawn.  For the blue eyes and
laughing mouth of his child were the only objects that ever thawed this
man's icy heart, and from these he now hoped for consolation and courage
on his weary road through life.

"Where is my son?"  he asked of the first attendant who crossed his path.

"The king has just sent for the Prince Necho and his nurse," answered the
man.

At this moment the high-steward of the prince's household approached, and
with a low obeisance delivered to Psamtik a sealed papyrus letter, with
the words: "From your father, the king."

In angry haste he broke the yellow wax of the seal bearing the king's
name, and read: "I have sent for thy son, that he may not become, like
his father, a blind instrument in the hands of the priesthood, forgetful
of what is due to himself and his country.  His education shall be my
care, for the impressions of childhood affect the whole of a man's later
life.  Thou canst see him if thou wilt, but I must be acquainted with thy
intention beforehand."

     [Signet rings were worn by the Egyptians at a very early period.
     Thus, in Genesis 41. 42., Pharaoh puts his ring on Joseph's hand.
     In the Berlin Museum and all other collections of Egyptian
     antiquities, numbers of these rings are to be found, many of which
     are more than 4000 years old.]

Psamtik concealed his indignation from the surrounding attendants with
difficulty.  The mere wish of a royal father had, according to Egyptian
custom, as much weight as the strictest command.  After reflecting a few
moments, he called for huntsmen, dogs, bows and lances, sprang into a
light chariot and commanded the charioteer to drive him to the western
marshes, where, in pursuing the wild beasts of the desert, he could
forget the weight of his own cares and wreak on innocent creatures his
hitherto baffled vengeance.

Gyges was released immediately after the conversation between his father
and Amasis, and welcomed with acclamations of joy by his companions.  The
Pharaoh seemed desirous of atoning for the imprisonment of his friend's
son by doubling his favors, for on the same day Gyges received from the
king a magnificent chariot drawn by two noble brown steeds, and was
begged to take back with him to Persia a curiously-wrought set of
draughts, as a remembrance of Sais.  The separate pieces were made of
ebony and ivory, some being curiously inlaid with sentences, in
hieroglyphics of gold and silver.

Amasis laughed heartily with his friends at Gyges' artifice, allowed the
young heroes to mix freely with his family, and behaved towards them
himself as a jovial father towards his merry sons.  That the ancient
Egyptian was not quite extinguished in him could only be discerned at
meal-times, when a separate table was allotted to the Persians.  The
religion of his ancestors would have pronounced him defiled, had he eaten
at the same table with men of another nation.

     [Herodotus II. 41. says that the Egyptians neither kissed, nor ate
     out of the same dish with foreigners, nay, indeed, that they refused
     to touch meat, in the cutting up of which the knife of a Greek had
     been used.  Nor were the lesser dynasties of the Delta allowed,
     according to the Stela of Pianchi, to cross the threshold of the
     Pharaohs because they were unclean and ate fish.  In the book of
     Genesis, the brethren of Joseph were not allowed to eat bread with
     the Egyptians.]

When Amasis, at last, three days after the release of Gyges, declared
that his daughter Nitetis would be prepared to depart for Asia in the
course of two more weeks, all the Persians regretted that their stay in
Egypt was so near its close.

Croesus had enjoyed the society of the Samian poets and sculptors.  Gyges
had shared his father's preference for Greek art and artists.  Darius,
who had formerly studied astronomy in Babylon,  was one evening observing
the heavens, when, to his surprise, he was addressed by the aged
Neithotep and invited to follow him on to the temple-roof.  Darius, ever
eager to acquire knowledge, did not wait to be asked twice, and was to be
found there every night in earnest attention to the old priest's lessons.

On one occasion Psamtik met him thus with his master, and asked the
latter what could have induced him to initiate a Persian in the Egyptian
mysteries.

"I am only teaching him," answered the high-priest, "what is as well
known to every learned Chaldee in Babylon as to ourselves, and am thereby
gaining the friendship of a man, whose stars as far outshine those of
Cambyses as the sun outshines the moon.  This Darius, I tell thee, will
be a mighty ruler.  I have even seen the beams of his planet shining over
Egypt.  The truly wise man extends his gaze into the future, regards the
objects lying on either side of his road, as well as the road itself.
Thou canst not know in which of the many houses by which thou passest
daily, a future benefactor may not have been reared for thee.  Leave
nought unnoticed that lies in thy path, but above all direct thy gaze
upward to the stars.  As the faithful dog lies in wait night after night
for thieves, so have I watched these pilgrims of the heavens fifty years
long--these foretellers of the fates of men, burning in ethereal space,
and announcing, not only the return of summer and winter, but the arrival
of good and bad fortune, honor and disgrace.  These are the unerring
guides, who have pointed out to me in Darius a plant, that will one day
wax into a mighty tree."

To Bartja, Darius' nightly studies were especially welcome; they
necessitated more sleep in the morning, and so rendered Bartja's stolen
early rides to Naukratis, (on which Zopyrus, to whom he had confided his
secret, accompanied him), easier of accomplishment.  During the
interviews with Sappho, Zopyrus and the attendants used all their
endeavors to kill a few snipes, jackals or jerboas.  They could then, on
their return, maintain to their Mentor Croesus, that they had been
pursuing fieldsports, the favorite occupation of the Persian nobility.

The change which the power of a first love had wrought in the innermost
character of Bartja, passed unnoticed by all but Tachot, the daughter of
Amasis.  From the first day on which they had spoken together she had
loved him, and her quick feelings told her at once that something had
happened to estrange him from herself.  Formerly his behavior had been
that of a brother, and he had sought her companionship; but now he
carefully avoided every approach to intimacy, for he had guessed her
secret and felt as if even a kind look would have been an offence against
his loyalty to Sappho.

In her distress at this change Tachot confided her sorrows to Nitetis.
The latter bade her take courage, and the two girls built many a castle
in the air, picturing to themselves the happiness of being always
together at one court, and married to two royal brothers.  But as the
days went by, the visits of the handsome prince became more and more
rare, and when he did come, his behavior to Tachot was cold and distant.
Yet the poor girl could not but confess that Bartja had grown handsomer
and more manly during his stay in Egypt.  An expression of proud and yet
gentle consciousness lay beaming in his large eyes, and a strange dreamy
air of rest often took the place of his former gay spirits.  His cheeks
had lost their brilliant color, but that added to his beauty, while it
lessened hers, who, like him, became paler from day to day.

Melitta, the old slave, had taken the lovers under her protection.  She
had surprised them one morning, but the prince had given her such rich
presents, and her darling had begged, flattered and coaxed so sweetly,
that at last Melitta promised to keep their secret, and later, yielding
to that natural impulse which moves all old women to favor lovers, had
even given them every assistance in her power.  She already saw her
"sweet child" mistress of a hemisphere, often addressed her as "my
Princess" and "my Queen" when none were by to hear, and in many a weak
moment imagined a brilliant future for herself in some high office at the
Persian court.




ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

A kind word hath far more power than an angry one
Abuse not those who have outwitted thee
Cannot understand how trifles can make me so happy
Confess I would rather provoke a lioness than a woman
Curiosity is a woman's vice
I cannot .  .  .  Say rather: I will not
In this immense temple man seemed a dwarf in his own eyes
Know how to honor beauty; and prove it by taking many wives
Mosquito-tower with which nearly every house was provided
Natural impulse which moves all old women to favor lovers
Sent for a second interpreter
Sing their libels on women (Greek Philosophers)
Those are not my real friends who tell me I am beautiful
Young Greek girls pass their sad childhood in close rooms





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