[Asphalte—Nearly all authorities, ancient as well as modern, report that bitumen, which is still plentifully found in the neighborhood of Babylon, was used by the Babylonians as mortar. See, besides the accounts of ancient writers, W. Vaux, ‘Nineveh and Persepolis’. Burnt bitumen was used by Assyrians for cement in building.]
Here Croesus was lifted from his horse, and approaching the carriage, exclaimed: “Here we are at length at the last station! That high tower which you see on the horizon is the celebrated temple of Bel, next to the Pyramids, one of the most gigantic works ever constructed by human hands. Before sunset we shall have reached the brazen gates of Babylon. And now I would ask you to alight, and let me send your maidens into the house; for here you must put on Persian apparel, to appear well-pleasing in the eyes of Cambyses. In a few hours you will stand before your future husband. But you are pale! Permit your maidens to adorn your cheeks with a color that shall look like the excitement of joy. A first impression is often a final one, and this is especially true with regard to Cambyses. If, which I doubt not, you are pleasing in his eyes at first, then you have won his love for ever; but if you should displease him to-day he will never look kindly on you again, for he is rough and harsh. But take courage, my daughter, and above all, do not forget the advice I have given you.” Nitetis dried her tears as she answered: “How can I ever thank you, O Croesus, my second father, my protector and adviser, for all your goodness? Oh, forsake me not in the days to come! and if the path of my life should lead through grief and care, be near to help and guide me as you did on the mountain-passes of this long and dangerous journey. A thousand times I thank thee, O my father!”
And, as she said these words, the young girl threw her arms around the old man’s neck and kissed him tenderly.
On entering the court-yard, a tall stout man, followed by a train of Asiatic serving-maidens, came forward to meet them. This was Boges, the chief of the eunuchs, an important official at the Persian court. His beardless face wore a smile of fulsome sweetness; in his ears hung costly jewelled pendents; his neck, arms, legs and his effeminately long garments glittered all over with gold chains and rings, and his crisp, stiff curls, bound round by a purple fillet, streamed with powerful and penetrating perfumes.
Making a low and reverential obeisance before Nitetis, and holding, the while, his fat hands overloaded with rings before his mouth, he thus addressed her: “Cambyses, lord of the world, hath sent me to thee, O Queen, that I may refresh thy heart with the dew of his salutations. He sendeth thee likewise by me, even by me the lowest of his servants, Persian raiment, that thou, as befitteth the consort of the mightiest of all rulers, mayest approach the gates of the Achaemenidae in Median garments. These women whom thou seest are thy handmaidens, and only await thy bidding to transform thee from an Egyptian jewel into a Persian pearl.”