“I must leave Egypt in fourteen days, and cannot therefore receive them myself.
“My own intentions are to go to the Thracian Chersonese, where my uncle, as you know, has been called to fill a high office among the Dolonki. The children shall follow me thither; my faithful old slave Korax will remain in Naukratis on purpose to bring them to me.
“Now, if you will show to me that you are in deed and truth my friend, will you receive the little ones and take care of them till the next ship sails for Thrace? But above all, will you carefully conceal them from the eyes of the crown-prince’s spies? You know that Psamtik hates me mortally, and he could easily revenge himself on the father through the children. I ask you for this great favor, first, because I know your kindness by experience; and secondly, because your house has been made secure by the king’s letter of guarantee, and they will therefore be safe here from the inquiries of the police; notwithstanding that, by the laws of this most formal country, all strangers, children not excepted, must give up their names to the officer of the district.
“You can now judge of the depth of my esteem, Rhodopis; I am committing into your hands all that makes life precious to me; for even my native land has ceased to be dear while she submits so ignominiously to her tyrants. Will you then restore tranquillity to an anxious father’s heart, will you—?”
“I will, Phanes, I will!” cried the aged woman in undisguised delight. “You are not asking me for any thing, you are presenting me with a gift. Oh, how I look forward already to their arrival! And how glad Sappho will be, when the little creatures come and enliven her solitude! But this I can assure you, Phanes, I shall not let my little guests depart with the first Thracian ship. You can surely afford to be separated from them one short half-year longer, and I promise you they shall receive the best lessons, and be guided to all that is good and beautiful.”
“On that head I have no fear,” answered Phanes, with a thankful smile. “But still you must send off the two little plagues by the first ship; my anxiety as to Psamtik’s revenge is only too well grounded. Take my most heartfelt thanks beforehand for all the love and kindness which you will show to my children. I too hope and believe, that the merry little creatures will be an amusement and pleasure to Sappho in her lonely life.”
“And more,” interrupted Rhodopis looking down; “this proof of confidence repays a thousand-fold the disgrace inflicted on me last night in a moment of intoxication.—But here comes Sappho!”
Five days after the evening we have just described at Rhodopis’ house, an immense multitude was to be seen assembled at the harbor of Sais.
Egyptians of both sexes, and of every age and class were thronging to the water’s edge.