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- An Egyptian Princess, Volume 9. - 9/9 -


command, my Sovereign, but in virtue of the full powers you once gave me, I have ordered the grandson of Amasis to be the executioner's first victim. You have just heard the sound of a horn; that was the sign that the last heir to the Egyptian throne born on the shores of the Nile has been gathered to his fathers. I am aware of the fate I have to expect, Cambyses. I will not plead for a life whose end has been attained. Croesus, I understand your reproachful looks. You grieve for the murdered children. But life is such a web of wretchedness and disappointment, that I agree with your philosopher Solon in thinking those fortunate to whom, as in former days to Kleobis and Biton, the gods decree an early death.

[Croesus, after having shown Solon his treasures, asked him whom he held to be the most fortunate of men, hoping to hear his own name. The sage first named Tellus, a famous citizen of Athens, and then the brothers Kleobis and Biton. These were two handsome youths, who had gained the prize for wrestling, and one day, when the draught- animals had not returned from the field, dragged their mother themselves to the distant temple, in presence of the people. The men of Argos praised the strength of the sons,--the women praised the mother who possessed these sons. She, transported with delight at her sons' deed and the people's praise, went to the statue of the goddess and besought her to give them the best that could fall to the lot of men. When her prayer was over and the sacrifice offered, the youths fell asleep, and never woke again. They were dead. Herod. I, 31. Cicero. Tuscul. I. 47.]

"If I have ever been dear to you, Cambyses--if my counsels have been of any use, permit me as a last favor to say a few more words. Psamtik knows the causes that rendered us foes to each other. Ye all, whose esteem is worth so much to me, shall know them too. This man's father placed me in his son's stead at the head of the troops which had been sent to Cyprus. Where Psamtik had earned humiliation, I won success and glory. I also became unintentionally acquainted with a secret, which seriously endangered his chances of obtaining the crown; and lastly, I prevented his carrying off a virtuous maiden from the house of her grandmother, an aged woman, beloved and respected by all the Greeks. These are the sins which he has never been able to forgive; these are the grounds which led him to carry on war to the death with me directly I had quitted his father's service. The struggle is decided now. My innocent children have been murdered at thy command, and I have been pursued like a wild beast. That has been thy revenge. But mine!--I have deprived thee of thy throne and reduced thy people to bondage. Thy daughter I have called my slave, thy son's death-warrant was pronounced by my lips, and my eyes have seen the maiden whom thou persecutedst become the happy wife of a brave man. Undone, sinking ever lower and lower, thou hast watched me rise to be the richest and most powerful of my nation. In the lowest depth of thine own misery--and this has been the most delicious morsel of my vengeance--thou wast forced to see me--me, Phanes shedding tears that could not be kept back, at the sight of thy misery. The man, who is allowed to draw even one breath of life, after beholding his enemy so low, I hold to be happy as the gods themselves I have spoken."

He ceased, and pressed his hand on his wound. Cambyses gazed at him in astonishment, stepped forward, and was just going to touch his girdle-- an action which would have been equivalent to the signing of a death- warrant when his eye caught sight of the chain, which he himself had hung round the Athenian's neck as a reward for the clever way in which he had proved the innocence of Nitetis.

[The same sign was used by the last Darius to denote that his able Greek general Memnon, who had offended him by his plainness of speech, was doomed to death. As he was being led away, Memnon exclaimed, in allusion to Alexander, who was then fast drawing near: "Thy remorse will soon prove my worth; my avenger is not far off." Droysen, Alex. d. Grosse, Diod. XVII. 30. Curtius III. 2.]

The sudden recollection of the woman he loved, and of the countless services rendered him by Phanes, calmed his wrath his hand dropped. One minute the severe ruler stood gazing lingeringly at his disobedient friend; the next, moved by a sudden impulse, he raised his right hand again, and pointed imperiously to the gate leading from the court.

Phanes bowed in silence, kissed the king's robe, and descended slowly into the court. Psamtik watched him, quivering with excitement, sprang towards the veranda, but before his lips could utter the curse which his heart had prepared, he sank powerless on to the ground.

Cambyses beckoned to his followers to make immediate preparations for a lion-hunt in the Libyan mountains.

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Between two stools a man falls to the ground Human beings hate the man who shows kindness to their enemies Misfortune too great for tears Nothing is more dangerous to love, than a comfortable assurance Ordered his feet to be washed and his head anointed Rules of life given by one man to another are useless


An Egyptian Princess, Volume 9. - 9/9

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