“Have I no voice in the matter?” said Rhodopis, smiling through her tears.
On hearing these words, Bartja and Sappho each took one of her hands, and gazed entreatingly into her face. She rose to her full stature, and like a prophetess exclaimed: “Eros, who brought you to each other, Zeus and Apollo defend and protect you. I see you now like two fair roses on one stem, loving and happy in the spring of life. What summer, autumn and winter may have in store for you, lies hidden with the gods. May the shades of thy departed parents, Sappho, smile approvingly when these tidings of their child shall reach them in the nether world.”
Three days later a densely packed crowd was once more surging round the Sais landing-place. This time they had assembled to bid a last farewell to their king’s daughter, and in this hour the people gave clear tokens that, in spite of all the efforts of the priestly caste, their hearts remained loyal to their monarch and his house. For when Amasis and Ladice embraced Nitetis for the last time with tears—when Tachot, in presence of all the inhabitants of Sais, following her sister down the broad flight of steps that led to the river, threw her arms round her neck once more and burst into sobs—when at last the wind filled the sails of the royal boat and bore the princess, destined to be the great king’s bride, from their sight, few eyes among that vast crowd remained dry.
The priests alone looked on at this sad scene with unmoved gravity and coldness; but when the south wind at last bore away the strangers who had robbed them of their princess, many a curse and execration followed from the Egyptians on the shore; Tachot alone stood weeping there and waving her veil to them. For whom were these tears? for the play-fellow of her youth, or for the handsome, beloved prince?
Amasis embraced his wife and daughter in the eyes of all his people; and held up his little grandson, Prince Necho, to their gaze, the sight eliciting cries of joy on all sides. But Psamtik, the child’s own father, stood by the while, tearless and motionless. The king appeared not to observe him, until Neithotep approached, and leading him to his father, joined their hands and called down the blessing of the gods upon the royal house.
At this the Egyptians fell on their knees with uplifted hands. Amasis clasped his son to his heart, and when the high-priest had concluded his prayer, the following colloquy between the latter and Amasis took place in low tones:
“Let peace be between us for our own and Egypt’s sake!”
“Hast thou received Nebenchari’s letter?”
“A Samian pirate-vessel is in pursuit of Phanes’ trireme.”
“Behold the child of thy predecessor Hophra, the rightful heiress of the Egyptian throne, departing unhindered to a distant land!”
“The works of the Greek temple now building in Memphis shall be discontinued.”