“You can now judge of the depth of my esteem, Rhodopis; I am committing into your hands all that makes life precious to me; for even my native land has ceased to be dear while she submits so ignominiously to her tyrants. Will you then restore tranquillity to an anxious father’s heart, will you—?”
“I will, Phanes, I will!” cried the aged woman in undisguised delight. “You are not asking me for any thing, you are presenting me with a gift. Oh, how I look forward already to their arrival! And how glad Sappho will be, when the little creatures come and enliven her solitude! But this I can assure you, Phanes, I shall not let my little guests depart with the first Thracian ship. You can surely afford to be separated from them one short half-year longer, and I promise you they shall receive the best lessons, and be guided to all that is good and beautiful.”
“On that head I have no fear,” answered Phanes, with a thankful smile. “But still you must send off the two little plagues by the first ship; my anxiety as to Psamtik’s revenge is only too well grounded. Take my most heartfelt thanks beforehand for all the love and kindness which you will show to my children. I too hope and believe, that the merry little creatures will be an amusement and pleasure to Sappho in her lonely life.”
“And more,” interrupted Rhodopis looking down; “this proof of confidence repays a thousand-fold the disgrace inflicted on me last night in a moment of intoxication.—But here comes Sappho!”
Five days after the evening we have just described at Rhodopis’ house, an immense multitude was to be seen assembled at the harbor of Sais.
Egyptians of both sexes, and of every age and class were thronging to the water’s edge.
Soldiers and merchants, whose various ranks in society were betokened by the length of their white garments, bordered with colored fringes, were interspersed among the crowd of half-naked, sinewy men, whose only clothing consisted of an apron, the costume of the lower classes. Naked children crowded, pushed and fought to get the best places. Mothers in short cloaks were holding their little ones up to see the sight, which by this means they entirely lost themselves; and a troop of dogs and cats were playing and fighting at the feet of these eager sight-seers, who took the greatest pains not to tread on, or in any way injure the sacred animals.
[According to various pictures on the Egyptian monuments. The mothers are from Wilkinson III. 363. Isis and Hathor, with the child Horus in her lap or at her breast, are found in a thousand representations, dating both from more modern times and in the Greek style. The latter seem to have served as a model for the earliest pictures of the Madonna holding the infant Christ.]
The police kept order among this huge crowd with long staves, on the metal heads of which the king’s name was inscribed. Their care was especially needed to prevent any of the people from being pushed into the swollen Nile, an arm of which, in the season of the inundations, washes the walls of Sais.