An Egyptian Princess — Complete eBook

Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 688 pages of information about An Egyptian Princess — Complete.

“I swear to you, father,” cried Gyges, “that Bartja has not left this garden for some hours.”

“And we confirm the same,” added Araspes, Zopyrus and Darius with one voice.

“You want to deceive me?” said Croesus getting very angry, and looking at each of them reproachfully:  “Do you fancy that I am blind or mad?  Do you think that your witness will outweigh the words of such men as Hystaspes, Gobryas, Artaphernes and the high priest, Oropastes?  In spite of all your false testimony, which no amount of friendship can justify, Bartja will have to die unless he flies at once.”

“May Angramainjus destroy me,” said Araspes interrupting the old man, “if Bartja was in the hanging-gardens two hours ago!” and Gyges added: 

“Don’t call me your son any longer, if we have given false testimony.”

Darius was beginning to appeal to the eternal stars, but Bartja put an end to this confusion of voices by saying in a decided tone:  “A division of the bodyguard is coming into the garden.  I am to be arrested; I cannot escape because I am innocent, and to fly would lay me open to suspicion.  By the soul of my father, the blind eyes of my mother, and the pure light of the sun, Croesus, I swear that I am not lying.”

“Am I to believe you, in spite of my own eyes which have never yet deceived me?  But I will, boy, for I love you.  I do not and I will not know whether you are innocent or guilty, but this I do know, you must fly, and fly at once.  You know Cambyses.  My carriage is waiting at the gate.  Don’t spare the horses, save yourself even if you drive them to death.  The Soldiers seem to know what they have been sent to do; there can be no question that they delay so long only in order to give their favorite time to escape.  Fly, fly, or it is all over with you.”

Darius, too, pushed his friend forward, exclaiming:  “Fly, Bartja, and remember the warning that the heavens themselves wrote in the stars for you.”

Bartja, however, stood silent, shook his handsome head, waved his friends back, and answered:  “I never ran away yet, and I mean to hold my ground to-day.  Cowardice is worse than death in my opinion, and I would rather suffer wrong at the hands of others than disgrace myself.  There are the soldiers!  Well met, Bischen.  You’ve come to arrest me, haven’t you?  Wait one moment, till I have said good-bye to my friends.”

Bischen, the officer he spoke to, was one of Cyrus’s old captains; he had given Bartja his first lessons in shooting and throwing the spear, had fought by his side in the war with the Tapuri, and loved him as if he were his own son.  He interrupted him, saying:  “There is no need to take leave of your friends, for the king, who is raging like a madman, ordered me not only to arrest you, but every one else who might be with you.”

And then he added in a low voice:  “The king is beside himself with rage and threatens to have your life.  You must fly.  My men will do what I tell them blindfold; they will not pursue you; and I am so old that it would be little loss to Persia, if my head were the price of my disobedience.”

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An Egyptian Princess — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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