The remaining guests surveyed these two departing men in silent wonder. As they stood there, silently listening, the sound of two horses galloping swiftly away fell on their ear, and after a longer interval a prolonged whistle from the Nile and a cry of distress.
“Where is Knakias?” said Rhodopis to one of her slaves.
“He went into the garden with Phanes and the Persian,” was the answer, and as it was being spoken, the old slave re-entered, pale and trembling.
“Have you seen my son?” cried Croesus. “Where is Phanes?”
“I was to bid you farewell from them both.”
“Then they are gone.—Whither? How was it possible?” . . .
“The Athenian and the Persian,” began the slave, “had a slight dispute in the anteroom. This over, I was told to divest both of their robes. Phanes then put on the stranger’s trousers, coat and girdle; on his own curls he placed the pointed Persian cap. The stranger wrapped himself in the Athenian’s chiton and mantle, placed the golden circlet above his brow, caused the hair to be shaved from his upper lip, and ordered me to follow him into the garden. Phanes, whom in his present dress, none could imagine to be other than a Persian, mounted one of the horses still waiting before the gate; the stranger called after him, ’Farewell Gyges, farewell beloved Persian, a pleasant journey to thee, Gyges!’ The servant, who had been waiting, followed on the other horse. I could hear the clatter of arms among the bushes, but the Athenian was allowed to depart unmolested, the soldiers, without doubt, believing him to be a Persian.
“On returning to the house the stranger’s orders were: ’Accompany me to Phanes’ bark, and cease not to call me by the Athenian’s name.’ ’But the boatmen will betray you,’ I said. ‘Then go alone to them,’ he answered, ‘and command them to receive me as their master, Phanes.’ Then I prayed him to allow me to take the dress of the fugitive and become a prey to the pursuers; but he would by no means allow this, and said my gait and carriage would betray me. There alas! he spoke truly, for only the free man can walk erect; the neck of the slave is bent; the schools in which the noble and the freeborn learn grace and beauty of movement are not for him. And so it must remain, the children must be even as the fathers; can the unclean onion-root produce a rose, or the unsightly radish a hyacinth? Constant bondage bows the neck of the slave, but the consciousness of freedom gives dignity to the stature.”
“But what has become of my son?” interrupted Croesus.
“He would not accept my poor offer, and took his seat in the bark, sending a thousand greetings unto thee, O king! I cried after him, ‘Farewell Phanes! I wish thee a prosperous journey, Phanes!’ At that moment a cloud crossed the moon; and from out the thick darkness I heard screams, and cries for help; they did not, however, last long, a shrill whistle followed, then all was silent; and the measured