The king remained a few moments in deep thought, then answered: “I knew what thou wouldst ask, and will fulfil thy desire: but I would rather thou hadst asked the half of my treasures. A thousand voices within warn me that I am about to do an unworthy deed and a ruinous—ruinous for myself, for thee, the kingdom and our house. Reflect before acting, and remember, whatever thou mayst meditate against Phanes, not a hair of Rhodopis’ head shall be touched. Also, that the persecution of my poor friend is to remain a secret from the Greeks. Where shall I find his equal as a commander, an adviser and a companion? He is not yet in thy power, however, and I advise thee to remember, that though thou mayst be clever for an Egyptian, Phanes is a clever Greek. I will remind thee too of thy solemn oath to renounce the grandchild of Rhodopis. Methinks vengeance is dearer to thee than love, and the amends I offer will therefore be acceptable! As to Egypt, I repeat once again, she was never more flourishing than now; a fact which none dream of disputing, except the priests, and those who retail their foolish words. And now give ear, if thou wouldst know the origin of Nitetis. Self-interest will enjoin secrecy.”
Psamtik listened eagerly to his father’s communication, indicating his gratitude at the conclusion by a warm pressure of the hand.
“Now farewell,” said Amasis. “Forget not my words, and above all shed no blood! I will know nothing of what happens to Phanes, for I hate cruelty and would not be forced to stand in horror of my own son. But thou, thou rejoicest! My poor Athenian, better were it for thee, hadst thou never entered Egypt!”
Long after Psamtik had left, his father continued to pace the hall in deep thought. He was sorry he had yielded; it already seemed as if he saw the bleeding Phanes lying massacred by the side of the dethroned Hophra. “It is true, he could have worked our ruin,” was the plea he offered to the accuser within his own breast, and with these words, he raised his head, called his servants and left the apartment with a smiling countenance.
Had this sanguine man, this favorite of fortune, thus speedily quieted the warning voice within, or was he strong enough to cloak his torture with a smile?
ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:
Avoid excessive joy as well as complaining grief
Cast off all care; be mindful only of pleasure
Creed which views life as a short pilgrimage to the grave
Does happiness consist then in possession
Happiness has nothing to do with our outward circumstances
In our country it needs more courage to be a coward
Observe a due proportion in all things
One must enjoy the time while it is here
Pilgrimage to the grave, and death as the only true life
Robes cut as to leave the right breast uncovered
The priests are my opponents, my masters
Time is clever in the healing art
We live for life, not for death