“Oh, do not leave me yet!”
“Is not obedience one of the Persian virtues?”
“But my rose?”
“Here it is.”
“Shall you remember me?”
“Why should I not?”
“Sweet maiden, forgive me if I ask one more favor.”
“Yes, but ask it quickly, for my grandmother has just called again.”
“Take my diamond star as a remembrance of this hour.”
“No, I dare not.”
“Oh, do, do take it. My father gave it me as a reward, the first time that I killed a bear with my own hand, and it has been my dearest treasure till to-day, but now you shall have it, for you are dearer to me than anything else in the world.”
Saying this, he took the chain and star from his breast, and tried to hang it round Sappho’s neck. She resisted, but Bartja threw his arms round her, kissed her forehead, called her his only love, and looking down deep into the eyes of the trembling child, placed it round her neck by gentle force.
Rhodopis called a third time. Sappho broke from the young prince’s embrace, and was running away, but turned once more at his earnest entreaty and the question, “When may I see you again?” and answered softly, “To-morrow morning at this rose-bush.”
“Which held you fast to be my friend.”
Sappho sped towards the house. Rhodopis received Bartja, and communicated to him all she knew of his friend’s fate, after which the young Persian departed for Sais.
When Rhodopis visited her grandchild’s bed that evening, she did not find her sleeping peacefully as usual; her lips moved, and she sighed deeply, as if disturbed by vexing dreams.
On his way back, Bartja met Darius and Zopyrus, who had followed at once on hearing of their friend’s secret departure. They little guessed that instead of encountering an enemy, Bartja had met his first love. Croesus reached Sais a short time before the three friends. He went at once to the king and informed him without reserve of the events of the preceding evening. Amasis pretended much surprise at his son’s conduct, assured his friend that Gyges should be released at once, and indulged in some ironical jokes at the discomfiture of Psamtik’s attempt to revenge himself.
Croesus had no sooner quitted the king than the crown-prince was announced.
Amasis received his son with a burst of laughter, and without noticing Psamtik’s pale and troubled countenance, shouted: “Did not I tell thee, that a simple Egyptian would find it no easy task to catch such a Greek fox? I would have given ten cities to have been by, when thy captive proved to be the stammering Lydian instead of the voluble Athenian.”
Psamtik grew paler and paler, and trembling with rage, answered in a suppressed voice: “Is it well, my father, thus to rejoice at an affront offered to thy son? I swear, by the eternal gods, that but for Cambyses’ sake that shameless Lydian had not seen the light of another day. But what is it to thee, that thy son becomes a laughing-stock to these beggarly Greeks!”