AN EGYPTIAN PRINCESS.
By Georg Ebers
The next day Nitetis removed to the country-house in the hanging-gardens, and began a monotonous, but happy and industrious life there, according to the rules laid down by Croesus. Every day she was carried to Kassandane and Atossa in a closely shut-up litter. Nitetis soon began to look upon the blind queen as a beloved and loving mother, and the merry, spirited Atossa nearly made up to her for the loss of her sister Tachot, so far away on the distant Nile. She could not have desired a better companion than this gay, cheerful girl, whose wit and merriment effectually prevented homesickness or discontent from settling in her friend’s heart. The gravity and earnestness of Nitetis’ character were brightened by Atossa’s gaiety, and Atossa’s exuberant spirits calmed and regulated by the thoughtful nature of Nitetis.
Both Croesus and Kassandane were pleased and satisfied with their new daughter and pupil, and Oropastes extolled her talents and industry daily to Cambyses. She learnt the Persian language unusually well and quickly; Cambyses only visited his mother when he hoped to find Nitetis there, and presented her continually with rich dresses and costly jewels. But the highest proof of his favor consisted in his abstaining from visiting her at her house in the hanging-gardens, a line of conduct which proved that he meant to include Nitetis in the small number of his real and lawful wives, a privilege of which many a princess in his harem could not boast.
The grave, beautiful girl threw a strange spell over this strong, turbulent man. Her presence alone seemed enough to soften his stubborn will, and he would watch their games for hours, his eyes fixed on her graceful movements. Once, when the ball had fallen into the water, the king sprang in after it, regardless of his costly apparel. Nitetis screamed on seeing his intention, but Cambyses handed her the dripping toy with the words: “Take care or I shall be obliged to frighten you again.” At the same time he drew from his neck a gold chain set with jewels and gave it to the blushing girl, who thanked him with a look which fully revealed her feelings for her future husband.
Croesus, Kassandane and Atossa soon noticed that Nitetis loved the king. Her former fear of this proud and powerful being had indeed changed into a passionate admiration. She felt as if she must die if deprived of his presence. He seemed to her like a, glorious and omnipotent divinity, and her wish to possess him presumptuous and sacrilegious; but its fulfilment shone before her as an idea more beautiful even than return to her native land and reunion with those who, till now, had been her only loved ones.
Nitetis herself was hardly conscious of the strength of her feelings, and believed that when she trembled before the king’s arrival it was from fear, and not from her longing to behold him once more. Croesus, however, had soon discovered the truth, and brought a deep blush to his favorite’s cheek by singing to her, old as he was, Anacreon’s newest song, which he had learnt at Sais from Ibykus