On hearing this name Psamtik grew restless; Croesus expressed a wish to form the acquaintance of the Thracian matron, of whom AEsop had related so much that was praiseworthy; and, as the other guests, many of whom had lost consciousness through excessive drinking, were leaving the hall, the dethroned monarch, the poet, the sculptor and the Spartan hero made an agreement to go to Naukratis the next day, and there enjoy the conversation of Rhodopis.
On the night following the banquet just described, Amasis allowed himself only three hours’ rest. On this, as on every other morning, the young priests wakened him at the first cock-crow, conducted him as usual to the bath, arrayed him in the royal vestments and led him to the altar in the court of the palace, where in presence of the populace he offered sacrifice. During the offering the priests sang prayers in a loud voice, enumerated the virtues of their king, and, that blame might in no case light on the head of their ruler, made his bad advisers responsible for every deadly sin committed in ignorance.
They exhorted him to the performance of good deeds, while extolling his virtues; read aloud profitable portions of the holy writings, containing the deeds and sayings of great men, and then conducted him to his apartments, where letters and information from all parts of the kingdom awaited him.
Amasis was in the habit of observing most faithfully these daily-repeated ceremonies and hours of work; the remaining portion of the day he spent as it pleased him, and generally in cheerful society.
The priests reproached him with this, alleging that such a life was not suited to a monarch; and on one occasion he had thus replied to the indignant high-priest: “Look at this bow! if always bent it must lose its power, but, if used for half of each day and then allowed to rest, it will remain strong and useful till the string breaks.”
Amasis had just signed his name to the last letter, granting the petition of a Nornarch—[Administrator of a Province]—for money to carry on different embankments rendered necessary by the last inundation, when a servant entered, bringing a request from the crown-prince Psamtik for an audience of a few minutes.
Amasis, who till this moment had been smiling cheerfully at the cheering reports from all parts of the country, now became suddenly serious and thoughtful. After long delay he answered: “Go and inform the prince that he may appear.”
Psamtik appeared, pale and gloomy as ever; he bowed low and reverentially, on entering his father’s presence.
Amasis nodded silently in return, and then asked abruptly and sternly: “What is thy desire? my time is limited.”
“For your son, more than for others,” replied the prince with quivering lips. “Seven times have I petitioned for the great favor, which thou grantest for the first time to-day.”