On his way back, Bartja met Darius and Zopyrus, who had followed at once on hearing of their friend’s secret departure. They little guessed that instead of encountering an enemy, Bartja had met his first love. Croesus reached Sais a short time before the three friends. He went at once to the king and informed him without reserve of the events of the preceding evening. Amasis pretended much surprise at his son’s conduct, assured his friend that Gyges should be released at once, and indulged in some ironical jokes at the discomfiture of Psamtik’s attempt to revenge himself.
Croesus had no sooner quitted the king than the crown-prince was announced.
Amasis received his son with a burst of laughter, and without noticing Psamtik’s pale and troubled countenance, shouted: “Did not I tell thee, that a simple Egyptian would find it no easy task to catch such a Greek fox? I would have given ten cities to have been by, when thy captive proved to be the stammering Lydian instead of the voluble Athenian.”
Psamtik grew paler and paler, and trembling with rage, answered in a suppressed voice: “Is it well, my father, thus to rejoice at an affront offered to thy son? I swear, by the eternal gods, that but for Cambyses’ sake that shameless Lydian had not seen the light of another day. But what is it to thee, that thy son becomes a laughing-stock to these beggarly Greeks!”
“Abuse not those who have outwitted thee.”
“Outwitted! my plan was so subtly laid, that . . .
“The finer the web, the sooner broken.”
“That that intriguing Greek could not possibly have escaped, if, in violation of all established precedents; the envoy of a foreign power had not taken it upon himself to rescue a man whom we had condemned.”
“There thou art in error, my son. We are not speaking of the execution of a judicial sentence, but of the success or failure of an attempt at personal revenge.”
“The agents employed were, however, commissioned by the king, and therefore the smallest satisfaction that I can demand of thee, is to solicit from Cambyses the punishment of him who has interfered in the execution of the royal decrees. In Persia, where men bow to the king’s will as to the will of a god, this crime will be seen in all its heinousness. The punishment of Gyges is a debt which Cambyses owes us.”
“But I have no intention of demanding the payment of this debt,” answered Amasis. “On the contrary, I am thankful that Phanes has escaped. Gyges has saved my soul from the guilt of shedding innocent blood, and thine from the reproach of having revenged thyself meanly on a man, to whom thy father is indebted.”
“Wilt thou then conceal the whole affair from Cambyses?”
“No, I shall mention it jestingly in a letter, as my manner is, and at the same time caution him against Phanes. I shall tell him that he has barely escaped my vengeance, and will therefore certainly endeavor to stir up the power of Persia against Egypt; and shall entreat my future son-in-law to close his ears to this false accuser. Croesus and Gyges can help us by their friendship more than Phanes can injure by his hatred.”