An aged man at this moment was seen making his way through the crowd, as if endeavoring to find admittance into the presence of the king. His venerable appearance served to make for him room.
“We meet again, Apgomer!” cried Daniel, in a familiar, friendly voice: and then to the king he said:
“This is my good friend Apgomer, O king, one of the few friends of my early days. He hath words to communicate to the king, in the presence of this throng, that will give thee to understand clearly that this law was prepared on purpose to ensnare thy servant Daniel.”
“Let my worthy friends, Fraggood and Kinggron, with their four companions, the princes, stand in this direction!” said the king, with an angry expression of countenance.
The conspirators, with paleness gathering on their brows, obeyed, and tremblingly stood facing the king.
“Now, O Daniel, thy friend Apgomer may give his testimony before the king.”
“O king, live forever!” said Apgomer. “This day thy servant is fourscore and ten years old. From the days of my childhood have I dwelt in Babylon; and never for any long period have I departed hence. Soon thy servant shall leave this world of sorrow—I stand on the verge of the grave. At this time, with deep soberness, I appeal to the God that dwelleth in light for the sincerity of my purpose in thus appearing before my lord the king. My words will be few, therefore, O king, I pray thee hear me patiently.
“These men who now stand before thee and by whose continual importunity thou gavest thy signature for the arrest of thy servant Daniel, are wicked and deceitful men, and with lying words have they deceived thee, O king. Their secret devices are well known to thy servant. With mine own ears have I listened to their midnight plotting; and from their own lips have I learned their fixed purpose to destroy the innocent without cause, even thy servant Daniel. For many months, O king, these cruel men have sought an occasion against the first president, and after having failed in every other point, they thought at last of this.
“I heard the plot described at midnight recently while resting in the public garden. The conspiracy was led by Fraggood and Kinggron. They were assisted by a number of the princes, among whom are Bimbokrak and Scramgee. This foul movement has been going on for many a day, but until last week the conspirators could not agree on a plan. At last, Prince Scramgee brought forward a scheme, which met with the cordial approval of the rest. And who but the chief evil spirit of the universe could have put in his heart such a horrible measure? It was in effect that a law be enacted that anyone who prayed to the God of Israel should be cast into the lions’ den. When I made thy servant Daniel acquainted with the plot against his life, his only reply was: