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- An Egyptian Princess, Volume 8. - 2/11 -
cried the physician again, rising to his full height, breathing hard as he said the words, and gazing down on the dying girl. "Curse those wretches, girl! that curse will do more in gaining mercy from the judges of the dead, than thousands of good works!" And as he said this he seized her hand and pressed it violently.
Nitetis looked up uneasily into his indignant face, and stammered in blind obedience, 'I curse."
"Those who robbed my parents of their throne and lives!"
"Those who robbed my parents of their throne and their lives," she repeated after him, and then crying, "Oh, my heart!" sank back exhausted on the bed.
Nebenchari bent down, and before the royal physicians could return, kissed her forehead gently, murmuring: "She dies my confederate. The gods hearken to the prayers of those who die innocent. By carrying the sword into Egypt, I shall avenge king Hophra's wrongs as well as my own."
When Nitetis opened her eyes once more, a few hours later, Kassandane was holding her right hand, Atossa kneeling at her feet, and Croesus standing at the head of her bed, trying, with the failing strength of old age, to support the gigantic frame of the king, who was so completely overpowered by his grief, that he staggered like a drunken man. The dying girl's eyes lighted up as she looked round on this circle. She was wonderfully beautiful. Cambyses came closer and kissed her lips; they were growing cold in death. It was the first kiss he had ever given her, and the last. Two large tears sprang to her eyes; their light was fast growing dim; she murmured Cambyses' name softly, fell back in Atossa's arms, and died.
We shall not give a detailed account of the next few hours: it would be an unpleasant task to describe how, at a signal from the principal Persian doctor, every one, except Nebenchari and Croesus, hastily left the room; how dogs were brought in and their sagacious heads turned towards the corpse in order to scare the demon of death;--how, directly after Nitetis' death, Kassandane, Atossa and their entire retinue moved into another house in order to avoid defilement;--how fire was extinguished throughout the dwelling, that the pure element might be removed from the polluting spirits of death;--how spells and exorcisms were muttered, and how every person and thing, which had approached or been brought into contact with the dead body, was subjected to numerous purifications with water and pungent fluids.
The same evening Cambyses was seized by one of his old epileptic attacks. Two days later he gave Nebenchari permission to embalm Nitetis' body in the Egyptian manner, according to her last wish. The king gave way to the most immoderate grief; he tore the flesh of his arms, rent his clothes and strewed ashes on his head, and on his couch. All the magnates of his court were obliged to follow his example. The troops mounted guard with rent banners and muffled drums. The cymbals and kettle-drums of the "Immortals" were bound round with crape. The horses which Nitetis had used, as well as all which were then in use by the court, were colored blue and deprived of their tails; the entire court appeared in mourning robes of dark brown, rent to the girdle, and the Magi were compelled to pray three days and nights unceasingly for the soul of the dead, which was supposed to be awaiting its sentence for eternity at the bridge Chinvat on the third night.
Neither the king, Kassandane, nor Atossa shrank from submitting to the necessary purifications; they repeated, as if for one of their nearest relations, thirty prayers for the dead, while, in a house outside the city gates Nebenchari began to embalm her body in the most costly manner, and according to the strictest rules of his art.
[Embalming was practised in three different ways. The first cost a talent of silver (L225.); the second 20 Minae (L60.) and the third was very inexpensive. Herod. II. 86-88. Diod. I. 9. The brain was first drawn out through the nose and the skull filled with spices. The intestines were then taken out, and the body filled in like manner with aromatic spices. When all was finished, the corpse was left 70 days in a solution of soda, and then wrapped in bandages of byssus spread over with gum. The microscopical examinations of mummy-bandages made by Dr. Ure and Prof. Czermak have proved that byssus is linen, not cotton. The manner of embalming just described is the most expensive, and the latest chemical researches prove that the description given of it by the Greeks was tolerably correct. L. Penicher maintains that the bodies were first somewhat dried in ovens, and that then resin of the cedar-tree, or asphalte, was poured into every opening. According to Herodotus, female corpses were embalmed by women. Herod. II. 89. The subject is treated in great detail by Pettigrew, History of Egyptian Mummies. London. 1834. Czermak's microscopical examinations of Egyptian mummies show how marvellously the smallest portions of the bodies were preserved, and confirm the statements of Herodotus on many points. The monuments also contain much information in regard to embalming, and we now know the purpose of nearly all the amulets placed with the dead.]
For nine days Cambyses remained in a condition, which seemed little short of insanity. At times furious, at others dull and stupefied, he did not even allow his relations or the high-priest to approach him. On the morning of the tenth day he sent for the chief of the seven judges and commanded, that as lenient a sentence as possible should be pronounced on Gaumata. Nitetis, on her dying-bed, had begged him to spare the life of this unhappy youth.
One hour later the sentence was submitted to the king for ratification. It ran thus: "Victory to the king! Inasmuch as Cambyses, the eye of the world and the sun of righteousness, hath, in his great mercy, which is as broad as the heavens and as inexhaustible as the great deep, commanded us to punish the crime of the son of the Magi, Gaumata, with the indulgence of a mother instead of with the severity of a judge, we, the seven judges of the realm, have determined to grant his forfeited life. Inasmuch, however, as by the folly of this youth the lives of the noblest and best in this realm have been imperilled, and it may reasonably be apprehended that he may again abuse the marvellous likeness to Bartja, the noble son of Cyrus, in which the gods have been pleased in their mercy to fashion his form and face, and thereby bring prejudice upon the pure and righteous, we have determined to disfigure him in such wise, that in the time to come it will be a light matter to discern between this, the most worthless subject of the realm, and him who is most worthy. We therefore, by the royal Will and command, pronounce sentence, that both the ears of Gaumata be cut off, for the honor of the righteous and shame of the impure."
Cambyses confirmed this sentence at once, and it was executed the same day.
[With reference to Gaumata's punishment, the same which Herodotus says was inflicted on the pretended Smerdis, we would observe that even Persians of high rank were sometimes deprived of their ears. In the Behistan inscription (Spiegel p. 15 and 21.) the ears, tongue and nose of the man highest in rank among the rebels, were cut off. Similar punishments are quoted by Brisson.]
Oropastes did not dare to intercede for his brother, though this ignominious punishment mortified his ambitious mind more than even a sentence of death could have done. As he was afraid that his own influence and consideration might suffer through this mutilated brother, he ordered him to leave Babylon at once for a country-house of his own on Mount Arakadris.
During the few days which had just passed, a shabbily-dressed and closely-veiled woman had watched day and night at the great gate of the palace; neither the threats of the sentries nor the coarse jests of the palace-servants could drive her from her post. She never allowed one of the less important officials to pass without eagerly questioning him, first as to the state of the Egyptian Princess, and then what had become of Gaumata. When his sentence was told her as a good joke by a chattering lamp-lighter, she went off into the strangest excitement, and astonished the poor man so much by kissing his robe, that he thought she must be crazed, and gave her an alms. She refused the money, but remained at her post, subsisting on the bread which was given her by the compassionate distributors of food. Three days later Gaumata himself, with his head bound up, was driven out in a closed harmamaxa. She rushed to the carriage and ran screaming by the side of it, until the driver stopped his mules and asked what she wanted. She threw back her veil and showed the poor, suffering youth her pretty face covered with deep blushes. Gaumata uttered a low cry as he recognized her, collected himself, however, in a moment, and said: "What do you want with me, Mandane?"
The wretched girl raised her hands beseechingly to him, crying: "Oh, do not leave me, Gaumata! Take me with you! I forgive you all the misery you have brought on me and my poor mistress. I love you so much, I will take care of you and nurse you as if I were the lowest servant-girl."
A short struggle passed in Gaumata's mind. He was just going to open the carriage-door and clasp Mandane-his earliest love-in his arms, when the sound of horses' hoofs coming nearer struck on his ear, and looking round he saw, a carriage full of Magi, among whom were several who had been his companions at the school for priests. He felt ashamed and afraid of being seen by the very youths, whom he had often treated proudly and haughtily because he was the brother of the high-priest, threw Mandane a purse of gold, which his brother had given him at parting, and ordered the driver to go on as fast as possible. The mules galloped off. Mandane kicked the purse away, rushed after the carriage and clung to it firmly. One of the wheels caught her dress and dragged her down. With the strength of despair she sprang up, ran after the mules, overtook them on a slight ascent which had lessened their speed, and seized the reins. The driver used his three-lashed whip, or scourge, the creatures reared, pulled the girl down and rushed on. Her last cry of agony pierced the wounds of the mutilated man like a sharp lance-thrust.
On the twelfth day after Nitetis' death Cambyses went out hunting, in the hope that the danger and excitement of the sport might divert his mind. The magnates and men of high rank at his court received him with thunders of applause, for which he returned cordial thanks. These few days of grief had worked a great change in a man so unaccustomed to suffering as Cambyses. His face was pale, his raven-black hair and beard had grown grey, and the consciousness of victory which usually shone in his eyes was dimmed. Had he not, only too painfully, experienced that there was a stronger will than his own, and that, easily as he could destroy, it did not he in his power to preserve the life of the meanest creature? Before starting, Cambyses mustered his troop of sportsmen, and calling Gobryas, asked why Phanes was not there.
"My King did not order . . ."
"He is my guest and companion, once for all; call him and follow us."
Gobryas bowed, dashed back to the palace, and in half an hour reappeared among the royal retinue with Phanes.
The Athenian was warmly welcomed by many of the group, a fact which seems
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