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An Egyptian Princess — Volume 05 eBook

Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 58 pages of information about An Egyptian Princess Volume 05.

“In our country,” answered the envoy, “death makes all men equal.  The spirits of the king and the slave are of equal worth.  Your father was a great man, but we have undergone awful sufferings for his sake.  My tale is not yet ended.  After the death of Tomyris discord broke out among the Massagetae.  Two claimants for the crown appeared; half our nation fought for the one, half for the other, and our hosts were thinned, first by this fearful civil war and then by the pestilence which followed in its track.  We can no longer resist your power, and therefore come with heavy loads of pure gold as the price of peace.”

“Ye submit then without striking a blow?” asked Cambyses.  “Verily, I had expected something else from such heroes; the numbers of my host, which waits assembled on the plains of Media, will prove that.  We cannot go to battle without an enemy.  I will dismiss my troops and send a satrap.  Be welcome as new subjects of my realm.”

The red blood mounted into the cheeks of the Massagetan warrior on hearing these words, and he answered in a voice trembling with excitement:  “You err, O King, if you imagine that we have lost our old courage, or learnt to long for slavery.  But we know your strength; we know that the small remnant of our nation, which war and pestilence have spared, cannot resist your vast and well-armed hosts.  This we admit, freely and honestly as is the manner of the Massagetae, declaring however at the same time, that we are determined to govern ourselves as of yore, and will never receive laws or ordinances from a Persian satrap.  You are wroth, but I can bear your angry gaze and yet repeat my declaration.”

“And my answer,” cried Cambyses, “is this:  Ye have but one choice:  either to submit to my sceptre, become united to the kingdom of Persia under the name of the Massagetan province, and receive a satrap as my representative with due reverence, or to look upon yourselves as my enemies, in which case you will be forced by arms to conform to those conditions which I now offer you in good part.  To-day you could secure a ruler well-affected to your cause, later you will find in me only a conqueror and avenger.  Consider well before you answer.”

“We have already weighed and considered all,” answered the warrior, “and, as free sons of the desert, prefer death to bondage.  Hear what the council of our old men has sent me to declare to you:—­The Massageta; have become too weak to oppose the Persians, not through their own fault, but through the heavy visitation of our god, the sun.  We know that you have armed a vast host against us, and we are ready to buy peace and liberty by a yearly tribute.  But if you persist in compelling us to submit by force of arms, you can only bring great damage on yourselves.  The moment your army nears the Araxes, we shall depart with our wives and children and seek another home, for we have no fixed dwellings like yours, but are accustomed

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