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Title: The Golden Hope - A Story of the Time of King Alexander the Great
Author: Fuller, Robert H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Golden Hope - A Story of the Time of King Alexander the Great" ***

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THE GOLDEN HOPE

  _A STORY OF THE TIME OF
  KING ALEXANDER THE GREAT_



BY

ROBERT H. FULLER



NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1905,

By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.


Set up and electrotyped.  Published March, 1905.  Reprinted May, 1906.



Norwood Press

J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



"_For what was all his war in Asia after the death of Philippus, but
tempests, extreme heats, wonderful deep rivers, marvellous high
mountains, monstrous beasts for greatness to behold, wild savage
fashions of life, change and alteration of governors upon every
occasion, yea treasons and rebellions of some?  At the beginning of his
voyage, Greece did yet lay their heads together, for the remembrance of
the wars that Philippus made upon them: the towns gathered together:
Macedonia inclined to some change and alteration: divers people far and
near lay in wait to see what their neighbours would do: the gold and
silver of Persia flowing in the orators' purses, and governors of the
people did raise up Peloponnese: Philippus' treasure and coffers were
empty, and the debts were great.  In despite of all these troubles, and
in the middest of his poverty, a young man, but newly come to man's
estate, durst in his mind think of the conquest of Asia, yea of the
empire of the whole world, with thirty thousand footmen and five
thousand horse, ... howbeit he was furnished with magnanimity, with
temperance, with wisdom, and valour: being more holpen in this martial
enterprise, with that he had learned of his tutor Aristotle, than with
that which his father Philippus had left him....  In Alexander's
actions they see, that his valiantness is gentle, his gentleness
valiant: his liberality, husbandry, his choler soon down, his loves
temperate, his pastimes not idle, and his travels gracious.  What is he
that hath mingled feasting with wars, and military expeditions with
sports?  Who hath intermingled in the middest of his besieging of
towns: and in the middest of skirmishes and fights, sports, banquets,
and wedding songs?  Who was ever more enemy to those that did wrong,
nor more gracious to the afflicted?  Who was ever more cruel to those
that fought, or more just unto suppliants?_"

--NORTH'S _Plutarch_.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

       I.  THREE FRIENDS MEET
      II.  WARNING FROM THE GODS
     III.  ARISTON LAYS A PLOT
      IV.  THE VOICE OF DEMOSTHENES
       V.  THE BANQUET
      VI.  SYPHAX EARNS HIS REWARD
     VII.  THE RESPONSE OF THE ORACLE
    VIII.  THE THUNDERBOLT FALLS
      IX.  THE DOOM OF THEBES
       X.  CHARES BARTERS HIS SWORD
      XI.  THAIS
     XII.  MENA READS A LETTER
    XIII.  THE UNQUENCHABLE FIRE
     XIV.  ACROSS THE HELLESPONT
      XV.  THAIS AND ARTEMISIA
     XVI.  IN THE CAMP OF THE MERCENARIES
    XVII.  THE TRAGEDY OF THE MARSH
   XVIII.  GREEK AND BARBARIAN
     XIX.  THE ROUT OF THE SATRAPS
      XX.  MENA MAKES A DISCOVERY
     XXI.  PHRADATES TRIUMPHS
    XXII.  THE VISION OF DANIEL, THE VICEROY
   XXIII.  IN THE WHIRLWIND'S TRACK
    XXIV.  THE GORDIAN KNOT
     XXV.  BESSUS COMES TO BABYLON
    XXVI.  THE GREAT KING IS ANGRY
   XXVII.  NATHAN KEEPS HIS WORD
  XXVIII.  BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY
    XXIX.  THE SLUICE GATE
     XXX.  LEONIDAS UNDERTAKES A MISSION
    XXXI.  ALEXANDER IS SURPRISED
   XXXII.  THE WORLD AT STAKE
  XXXIII.  THE CHESTNUT MARE
   XXXIV.  IN THE PAVILION OF THE QUEENS
    XXXV.  PHRADATES MAKES A WAGER
   XXXVI.  TYRE ACCEPTS THE CHALLENGE
  XXXVII.  THE JEST OF KING AZEMILCUS
 XXXVIII.  MENA REVEALS A SECRET
   XXXIX.  JOEL BRINGS BAD NEWS
      XL.  THE GAP OF DEATH
     XLI.  PRINCE HUR'S COUNTERPLOT
    XLII.  A TRAITOR IN PURPLE
   XLIII.  THI KING TAKES HIS REVENGE
    XLIV.  THE REVOLT OF THE ISRAELITES
     XLV.  MOLOCH CLAIMS HIS SACRIFICE
    XLVI.  THE PASSING OF A GOD
   XLVII.  SYPHAX SQUARES HIS ACCOUNT
  XLVIII.  THAIS GIVES A FEAST
    XLIX.  CHARES FINDS REST
       L.  PROMISES FULFILLED
      LI.  AMID FRAGMENTS OF EMPIRE



THE GOLDEN HOPE



CHAPTER I

THREE FRIENDS MEET

Athens was rousing herself from sleep.  The beams of the morning sun
bathed the rugged sides of Mount Hymettus and lightened the dark
foliage that clothed the nearer wooded slopes of Lycabettus.  The low,
flat-roofed houses of the city were still nothing more than blurred
masses of gray in the shadow; but presently a ray touched the point of
Athene's spear, and the flood of orange light flowed over the
Acropolis.  Its temples and statues were enveloped in a radiance which
fused the rich, harmonious colors of column and cornice and melted the
massive outlines into a resplendent whole, rising immortal from the
gloom at its base.

Thin curls of smoke mounted here and there above the housetops,
straight up toward the limitless turquoise vault of the sky.  The
vivifying freshness of the new-born day was in the air.

There was a clatter of hoofs in the Street of Pericles, and two young
men, followed by three mounted servants, swung into view.

"By Zeus, Leonidas!" cried the foremost of the riders, drawing rein and
pointing to the Acropolis, "that is worth riding all night to see!"

"You mean the sunrise?" the other asked, also coming to a halt.
"Pshaw!  You may see that any day without sitting up for it."

"Not I!" said his companion, laughing.  "I love the lamps too well."

Leonidas shrugged his square shoulders.  "It's not the lamps you love,
Chares," he returned dryly.  "But why are we idling here?  Unless we
make haste, Clearchus will be out of bed before we can surprise him."

"Come on, then!" Chares cried, urging his tired horse.  "By Heracles!
what's that?"

The three servants had ridden forward in advance of their masters.
From the direction they had taken, the young men heard a confusion of
angry voices, mingled with oaths.  In another moment they saw that the
street was blocked by a gorgeous litter borne on the shoulders of four
sturdy slaves and surrounded by a dozen more, some of whom carried
torches which burned pale in the morning light.  The litter-bearers had
refused to draw aside, and the guard was attempting to turn the
horsemen back.  Evidently some youth had been overtaken at his revelry
by the dawn and was now being carried home by slaves who had followed
his example at the wine-cup.

A bustling little man, with close-cropped hair and the sharp-nosed face
of a fox, was shaking his sword in the faces of the riders.

"Back with you!  Back!" he shouted.  "Do you seek to halt the noble
Phradates?  Back, while you may!"

The curtains of the litter parted, and a young man's face, crimson with
wrath and wine, appeared at the opening.  He wore upon his head a
wreath of wilted roses, which had slipped sidewise over one ear.

"What is the matter, Mena?" he called thickly.  "Cut the rascals down!"

The three servants hesitated, looking back to their masters for
instructions.

"Here is sport!" Chares cried, his eyes sparkling.  "Let us ride
through them!  They need a lesson."

Leonidas made no answer, but shook his bridle rein free and plunged his
spurs into the flanks of his horse.

"Way!  Way!" Chares cried in a mighty voice, as they thundered down
upon the obstinate group.  "Follow us, my lads!" he shouted to the
servants as he swept past.

The officious man with the sharp nose dropped his sword and scrambled
up the steps of a house, but before the rest could follow his example
the five horsemen were among them, and they were rolling under foot
with their torches.  Chares swerved his horse skilfully against the
litter in such a manner that it was overturned.  Its occupant pitched
head foremost into the street, and the litter fell on top of him,
burying him beneath a mass of curtains and silken cushions, among which
he struggled like some gigantic insect caught in a web.

"You shall pay for this!" he gasped from the wreckage, shaking his fist
after the little cavalcade.  "I am Phradates!"

Chares laughed until the street echoed, and even Leonidas could not
forbear a smile when he glanced back upon the havoc their passage had
caused.

"We must ask Clearchus who this fellow is," Chares said.  "Here is the
house."

He sprang down in front of a dwelling of white marble and ran to the
gate.

"Hola!" he shouted.  "Let us in!  Do you intend to keep your master's
guests all day at his door?  Open, then!"

After a slight delay there was a sound of falling bars, and the grating
swung back, revealing a drowsy slave in the entrance.

"Is it you, my master?  Enter; you are welcome," the man said, bowing
before Chares.

"Is Clearchus awake?" Chares demanded eagerly.

"I think not, sir," the slave replied.

"Then we will rouse him!" Chares cried, running across the outer court
and into the house.  Leonidas followed more deliberately, leaving the
attendants to care for the horses.

Chares did not stop to return the greeting of the slave who opened the
house door for him, but dashed through the corridor that led to the
inner court, shouting at the top of his voice: "Clearchus!  Wake up,
sluggard, and feed the hungry, or the Gods will turn their faces from
you!  Dreamer, where art thou?"

Just as he emerged from the corridor to the spacious inner court, the
young man came suddenly upon a fresh-faced slave girl, who was busied
with some early duties about the broad cistern filled with lotus
flowers.

"Aphrodite, as I live!" Chares cried, throwing his arms about her and
kissing her on the lips with a smack.  The girl fled, laughing and
blushing, to the women's quarters, and at the same moment the master of
the house, awakened by the uproar, appeared on the threshold of his
chamber.

"Chares!" he cried, coming forward with outstretched hands.  "Who else
could it be, indeed!"

"Oh, Clearchus," Chares said, "what hardships and perils we have passed
to reach thee!"

"And here is Leonidas," said the Athenian, freeing himself from the
embrace of Chares as the second of his guests entered the court.  "Both
my brothers here!  For this I owe a sacrifice of thanksgiving which I
shall not fail to pay.  But what fortunate chance brings you to Athens?"

"We were sitting quietly enough in Thebes, talking of you," Leonidas
replied, "when this madcap declared that he would not live another day
without seeing you and that he intended to make you give him breakfast.
Piso, who was with us, fell into dispute with him, offering to wager
twenty minæ that we could not ride here before midday.  Chares
maintained that he would wake you this morning or forfeit the stake,
and here we are."

"And so you have ridden all night?" Clearchus asked.

"All night, amid dangers and darkness, only to see you!" Chares replied
gayly, throwing his arm around his friend's shoulder.  "And now, have
you anything to eat in the house?  I am like a famished wolf."

"Come with me," Clearchus said, leading the way into a large room
opening from the left of the court.  The sunlight streamed in from the
garden outside, over rich Persian carpets which covered the floor.  The
walls were frescoed with scenes from the Iliad of Homer, drawn with
marvellous skill.  Painted statuettes stood in niches of stone.  Chairs
and tables of ebony, cypress, and cedar were scattered through the
room, and soft couches invited rest.  Clearchus struck a bell, and a
grave man of middle age appeared in the doorway.

"Send us food, Cleon," Clearchus said.

The steward withdrew, and two younger slaves entered.  They quickly
divested Chares and Leonidas of their riding cloaks and swords and
washed their hands in bowls of scented water, drying them upon linen
towels.  They were followed by other slaves bearing trays of cold fowl,
bread, and wine.

"This seems like getting home," Chares exclaimed, throwing himself upon
one of the couches and leaning back luxuriously upon the cushions of
down which the slaves hastened to arrange behind him while he helped
himself to food from the table.  "By the Gods, Clearchus, unless you
stop growing handsome, Phœbus will be jealous of you!"

The Athenian flushed like a girl.  He was a clean-cut, clear-eyed young
man, hardly more than twenty-one years old, with a face and figure that
might have served as a model for Phidias himself.  Although slender,
his form was graceful, with the ease that comes only from well-trained
muscles.  Brown curls covered his head, and the glance of his dark eyes
was steady and straightforward, with a singular earnestness.  His
expression was thoughtful and his mouth betrayed a sensitive delicacy.

His parents had died when he was still a lad.  His father, Cleanor,
bequeathed to him an immense fortune, amassed in the mines, which had
been managed by his uncle, Ariston, until he became of age.  His wealth
made him envied by the fashionable young men of Athens, but he had few
friends among them.  He cared nothing for their drinking-bouts,
cock-fights, and gaming, and he had no ambition in politics except to
do his duty as a citizen of Athens.  Deep in his heart he worshipped
the city and her glorious achievements, especially those of the
intellect, with fanatical devotion.

Chares, too, belonged to a family of wealth and influence, for his
father, Jason, had been one of the foremost men in Thebes.  In height
he stood more than six feet, and the knotted muscles of his arms
indicated enormous strength.  He was buoyant, light-hearted,
irresponsible, and pleasure-loving.  His affection for the Athenian,
whom he had known from boyhood, was the strongest impulse in him.

They had first met Leonidas at the Olympic Games, where he won the
laurel crown in the chariot race, and they had there admitted him to
their friendship.  Different as they were from each other, there seemed
little in common between either of them and the swarthy Lacedæmonian
who lay eating silently while they chattered gossip of mutual
acquaintances.  Leonidas was rather below the middle stature, all bone
and sinew, practised in arms, and inured to hardships from his
childhood by the unbending discipline of Sparta.  His dark hair grew
low down on his forehead and his black eyes were set deep under
overhanging brows.  He neither shared nor wished to understand the
delight which Clearchus felt in a perfect statue or a masterpiece of
painting.  He scorned the philosophers and poets.  Upon the
questionable pleasures to which Chares gave his days and nights, he
looked with good-natured contempt.  The narrow prejudices of his
country were ingrained too deeply in his character to be disturbed by
any change of surroundings.  He valued more highly the consciousness
that in his veins ran a few drops of the blood of the Lion of
Thermopylæ than all the riches of the world.

In each of the three young men who met in the house of Clearchus were
typified many of the characteristics of the states to which they
belonged.  Athens, Thebes, and Sparta in turn had held the supremacy in
the little peninsula to which the civilized world was confined.
Contrasted as they were, there was still a bond between them that had
been welded by centuries of association.

"Tell me," Clearchus said, after their hunger had been somewhat
appeased, "what is the news of Thebes?  Are the Macedonians still
perched in the Cadmea?"

"They are," Chares replied lazily.  "We are still in the grasp of the
barbarian; but our plotters are at work and they tell me that soon we
shall break it."

"Do you mean they are planning revolt?" Clearchus asked eagerly.

"Don't get excited," the Theban responded.  "It will give you
indigestion.  They have revolted already, thanks to the gold your city
sent them, and the barbarians are eating their corn in the citadel just
at present, waiting for something to turn up."

"But that means war, Chares," Clearchus exclaimed.

"Well," Chares replied, "that will give Leonidas a chance to clear the
rust from his sword.  You know he is in the market."

"That is true," the Spartan said in response to Clearchus' glance of
inquiry.  "No man can live on air.  I follow my profession where there
is work to be done."

There was nothing disgraceful in this avowal.  If his own country was
at peace, a Greek soldier might sell his sword to the highest bidder,
as did Xenophon, without reproach.

"And I suppose you, too, will be fighting, Chares?" said Clearchus.

"As to that, I don't know," the Theban answered, stretching himself
with a yawn.  "Perhaps the best thing that could happen to us would be
to have the Macedonian conquer and rule.  It would put an end to our
own wars.  If matters go on as they have been going, all three of us
may be trying to cut each other's throats before the month is out."

"No," Clearchus exclaimed, "that cannot be, because you must promise me
to stay here and drink at my wedding feast at the next new moon."

"What, Clearchus! you are going to be married?" Chares cried, springing
from his couch.  "Who is she?"

"Artemisia, daughter of Theorus," Clearchus answered.  "She is the most
beautiful--"

"Ho, Cleon, Cleon!  Where are you?" Chares shouted at the top of his
voice.  "Cleon, I say!"

The steward ran into the room in alarm.

"Bring wine of Cyprus, quickly!" Chares cried, waving his arms.

Cleon vanished with a smile, and Chares hastened to embrace his friend
with a fervor that threatened to crack his ribs.  Leonidas grasped him
warmly by the hand, and both showered congratulations upon him.

"We pledge thee!" Chares cried, taking the wine that Cleon brought in a
great beaker of carved silver and raising it to his lips, after
spilling a portion of its contents in libation.

"May the Gods give thee happiness!" Leonidas said, drinking deep in his
turn.

"Neither war, famine, nor pestilence shall take us from thee until thou
art married," Chares cried, half in jest.  "We swear it, Leonidas, by
the head of Zeus!"

"We swear it!" the Spartan echoed, and each of them again pressed the
young man's hand.

"I expected no less of you," Clearchus said, smiling into the faces of
his companions.  "It makes my heart glad to know that you will be with
me.  But after your long ride you must both be used up.  I will leave
you to get an hour or two of sleep before the Assembly which has been
called for this afternoon to hear what Demosthenes has to say upon our
policy toward Macedon.  You will want to hear him, of course."

"Go, Clearchus," Chares said, laughing.  "That is a long speech to tell
us that you would like to be rid of us while you go to your Artemisia.
Come back in time for the bath, that's all."



CHAPTER II

WARNING FROM THE GODS

A few miles west of Athens, in the suburb of Academe, dwelt Melissa,
aunt and guardian of Artemisia.  She was an invalid, bedridden for the
greater part of the year, and she had chosen to live in the country
that she might not be disturbed by the city noises.  She had never
married, and no departure from the routine of her well-ordered house
was permitted.  She loved her niece; but she was not sorry to have her
marry, because, as she said, her own hold upon life was so uncertain,
and besides, the match was a brilliant one.

Her household consisted of Philox, her steward, who had managed her
affairs for a score of years, Tolmon, her gardener, and a dozen women
slaves who, like their mistress, had passed the prime of life.

In Melissa's old-fashioned garden Artemisia, with two little slave
girls to help her, was at work over a hedge of roses.  She had not yet
reached her nineteenth year.  Her soft, light brown hair was gathered
in a knot at the back of her head, showing the graceful curve of the
nape of her neck and half revealing the little pink lobes of her ears.
Her forehead was low and smooth and broad, with delicately arched
brows, a shade darker than her hair.  Her eyes were blue and the color
in her cheeks was heightened by her exertions in bringing the straying
rose stems into place.  The folds of her pure white chiton left her
warm arms bare to the shoulder and defined the youthful lines of her
supple figure.  As she stooped among the flowers, handling them with
gentle touches, she seemed preoccupied, and her glance continually
wandered from her task.

Agile as monkeys, the slave girls darted about her, pelting each other
with blossoms and uttering peals of shrill laughter.  Their short white
tunics made their swarthy skins darker by contrast.

The garden was set in a tiny meadow beside the river Cephissus.  It was
shut in on both sides by groves of olive and fig trees, against whose
dark foliage gleamed the marble front of the house to which it
belonged.  The sunlight swept the smooth emerald of the turf, touched
the brilliant hues of the flowers, and flashed back from the rippling
river beyond.

"Oh, mistress, there's a beautiful butterfly!  Oh, please, may I catch
him?" cried one of the little girls.

"Hush, chatterbox," said Artemisia; "come and help me here."

"Ouch, that awful thorn!  Look, mistress, how my finger bleeds," the
other girl said, holding up her small brown hand.

"Will you never end your nonsense?" the young woman asked in affected
despair.  "See, Proxena, we have not half finished."

"Don't be angry with us, mistress; see who's coming!" Proxena cried,
taking her wounded finger from her mouth and pointing with it toward
the house.

Clearchus must have ridden fast to arrive so soon after leaving his
friends.  Artemisia, hastily plucking a half-blown rose, went forward
to meet him, while the little slave girls remained behind, peeping
slyly with sidelong glances and whispering to each other while they
pretended to busy themselves with their work.

"Greeting, Artemisia, my Life!" Clearchus said, taking her hands in his.

"Greeting, Clearchus; I am glad to see thee," she replied.

"How beautiful thou art and how fortunate am I, my darling," the young
man said radiantly.  "Dost thou love me, Artemisia?"

"Thou knowest well that I do, Clearchus," she answered reproachfully.
"Why dost thou ask?"

"For the joy of hearing thee say it once more," he said, laughing.
"There is nothing the Gods can give that could be sweeter or more
precious to me, and to add the last touch to my happiness, Chares and
Leonidas came this morning and have promised to stay until our wedding."

They had been strolling toward the grove at the edge of the meadow,
where a bench of carved stone, overhung with trailing vines, was set in
the shade in such a position as to permit its occupants to look out
over the garden and the river.  They sat down side by side and
Clearchus slipped his arm about Artemisia's waist.  Evidently, with the
subtle sense of a lover, he detected a lack of responsiveness, for he
bent forward and gazed anxiously into her face.  He saw that it was
troubled.

"What is the matter, my dearest?" he asked in sudden alarm.

She hesitated for a moment.  "Oh, Clearchus, I fear that we are too
happy," she said at last in reply.

"Why do you say that?" he asked, drawing her closer to him.  "Why
should any of the Gods wish us harm?  We have not failed in paying them
honor, and we have transgressed in nothing."

Artemisia hid her face in her hands and her head drooped against his
shoulder.  He held her still closer and kissed the soft coils of her
hair, awaiting an explanation.

"What is it, Artemisia?" he asked quietly.  "You are tired and nervous
and overwrought, and some foolish fancy has crept into your heart to
trouble you.  Tell me, my dearest; thou canst have no sorrow that is
not mine as well as thine."

"Clearchus, my husband," she said, without moving from her position or
lifting her face, "thou art strong and I am but a weak girl.  Whatever
may come, I shall always be thankful that thou didst love me.  I am
thine--heart and mind, body and spirit, here and in the
hereafter--forever."

"Why dost thou speak so, my Soul?" Clearchus asked in alarm.  "What has
happened?  Surely we shall be married at the new moon."

"I do not know, Clearchus--all that I know is that I love thee and
shall love thee always.  A warning from the Gods has been sent to me."

She lifted her face and clasped her hands in her lap.  Her eyes were
wet and her lips were tremulous as those of a helpless child who awaits
a blow.

"What was it, my Life?" Clearchus asked gently.

"I was in a strange house," she replied, looking straight before her as
though she could see the things that she described.  "It was a house of
many rooms, some filled with lights and some so dark I could not tell
what was in them.  I heard the sound of voices, of laughter, and of
weeping, but I could see nobody.  Thou wert there, I knew, and I was
seeking thee with my heart full of terror; for something told me I
would not find thee.  It was dreadful--dreadful, Clearchus!"

She paused and clung to him for a moment as though in fear of being
torn from his side.

"I do not know how long I wandered through passages and chambers," she
resumed, "but at last I reached a corridor that had rows of pillars on
either side.  At the end was a crimson curtain, beyond which men and
women were talking.  As I stood hesitating in the empty corridor,
suddenly I heard thy voice among the rest.  I could not mistake it,
Clearchus.  Joy filled my heart.  Thou didst not know I was there nor
what peril I was in.  I felt that I had but to lift the curtain--thou
wouldst see me and I would be saved.  I ran forward, crying out to
thee; but before I reached the curtain, rough men came from between the
pillars and thrust me back, drowning my voice with shouting and
laughter.  I threw myself on my knees before them and prayed them not
to stop me.  They answered in words that I could not understand.  My
heart was breaking, Clearchus!  The light beyond the crimson curtain
grew dim, and outside I could hear a roaring like a great storm.  The
pillars were shaken and the walls crumbled, and I woke crying thy name."

The young man's face had grown unusually grave and thoughtful as he
listened to the recital of the dream.  No man or woman of his time who
believed in anything ever thought of doubting that the visions of sleep
were divine communications to mortals.  Statesmen directed the course
of nations and generals planned their campaigns in accordance with the
interpretation of these revelations.

"What does it mean, Clearchus?  You are wiser than I," Artemisia said
anxiously.  "If I am separated from thee, I shall die."

"The men who halted you seemed to be barbarians?" Clearchus asked
thoughtfully.

"Thus they seemed," she replied.  "I could not understand their speech,
and their clothes were not our fashion."

"I know not what it means, Artemisia," Clearchus said at last.  "We are
in the hands of the Gods.  I shall ask the protection of Artemis and
offer her a sacrifice.  To-morrow we must be married.  I do not dare to
wait for the new moon, for I must be near you to protect you.  Then,
whatever may come, we will meet it together."

"Perhaps the dream was meant for me alone," Artemisia said tenderly.
"I cannot bear to bring you into danger."

"Hush, Artemisia!" Clearchus said reprovingly.  "I would rather a
thousand times die with thee than live without thee."

With a sigh, she let her head rest on his shoulder.

"I care not what may happen so that thou art with me," she said; "then
I can feel no fear."

"Artemisia," Clearchus said suddenly, "go not out again to-day.  I
shall tell Philox to guard thee well until to-morrow.  Hast thou told
Melissa of the dream?"

"No, for I wished to tell thee first and she is so easily frightened,"
Artemisia said.

"Then say nothing to her about it," the young man replied.

One of the little slave girls ran up to them at this moment and stood
before them, twisting her fingers together and waiting to be spoken to.

"What is it, Proxena?" Artemisia asked.

"The morning meal is waiting, mistress," said the child, and sped away
again.



CHAPTER III

ARISTON LAYS A PLOT

Ariston, uncle of Clearchus and formerly guardian of his fortune, sat
at his work-table before a mass of papyri closely written with
memoranda and accounts.  His house stood by itself in a quarter of the
city that had once been fashionable but now was occupied chiefly by the
poorer class of citizens.  Its front was without windows and its stone
walls were yellowed and stained with age.  Its seclusion seemed to be
emphasized by the bustle of life that surrounded it and in which it had
no part.

The room in which Ariston sat was evidently used as an office, for rows
of metal-bound boxes of various shapes and sizes were piled along its
walls.  A statuette of Hermes stood in one corner upon its pedestal,
and its sightless eyes seemed bent upon the thin, gray face of the old
man as he leaned with his elbows upon the top of the table, polished by
long use.  Lines of care and anxiety showed themselves at the corners
of his mouth and about his restless eyes.  The light of the swinging
lamp that illuminated the small room, even in the daytime, made shadowy
hollows at his temples and beneath his cheek-bones.

Little was known of the personal concerns of the old man in Athens.
Although he mingled with the other citizens without apparent reserve,
he never discussed his own affairs.  The general impression was that he
was a good Athenian who had been faithful to the trust reposed in him,
and who had won a modest competence of his own for the support of his
age.  This idea was encouraged by the parsimonious habits of his life
and by the trifling but cautious ventures that he sometimes made in the
commercial activity of the city.  His most conspicuous characteristic,
in the minds of his acquaintances, was his mania for gathering
information concerning not only Athens and Greece, but distant lands
and strange peoples as well.  This was looked upon as a harmless and
even useful occupation, and it accounted for his evident fondness at
times for the company of strangers, who, no doubt, contributed to the
satisfaction of his curiosity.

Great would have been the astonishment if some orator had announced to
the Athenian Assembly that the humble old man was really one of the
richest citizens of Athens, as well as the best informed concerning the
plans and hopes of the rulers of the world and of the probable current
of coming events.  Laughter would have greeted the assertion that much
of the merchandise which found its way to the Piræus belonged to him
and that the profits realized from the sale of silks and spices, corn
and ivory, went into his coffers.  Yet these statements would have been
true a year before.  In Athens the rich were required to contribute to
the public charges in proportion to their wealth, and the saving that
Ariston was able to effect by making his investments abroad and
concealing them through various stratagems from the knowledge of his
neighbors was sufficient, in his opinion, to compensate him for the
trouble and the risks that such a course involved.  He would rather
have suffered his fingers to be hacked off one by one than part with
the heavy, shining bars of gold that his prudence and foresight had
amassed.

If the history of each separate coin and bar could have been told, it
would have revealed secrets which their master had forced himself to
forget.  Some of them were the price of flesh and blood; some had been
gained by violence upon the seas or among the trackless wastes of the
desert; some had been won at the expense of honor and truth; for in his
earlier years Ariston had been both bold and unscrupulous in his
cunning, and his craving for riches had always been insatiable.  As his
years and his wealth increased he became more circumspect and
conservative.  He even sought to expiate some of his earlier faults by
furtive sacrifices to the Gods, and especially to Hermes, whose image
he cherished.

But the Gods had turned their faces from him, and his repentance, if
repentance it could be called, had been unavailing.  Misfortune had
come upon him, and calamity seemed always to be lying in wait for him.
If his vessels put to sea, they were sunk in storms or captured by
pirates.  His factories and warehouses were burned; his caravans were
lost; his debtors defaulted; and if he purchased a cargo of corn, its
price at the Piræus was certain to be less than the price he had paid
for it in the Hellespont.  One after another the precious bars which
had cost him so much to obtain were sent to save doubtful ventures and
losing investments, until at last all were gone.  Sitting in his dingy
room, on the day of the arrival of Chares and Leonidas at the house of
Clearchus, he was at last in a worldly sense what his neighbors thought
him to be; and the marble face of Hermes, with its painted eyes, smiled
malignly at him from its corner.

But there was still hope left to him.  Although the widespread web of
his enterprises had been rent and torn by misfortune, there yet
remained enough to build upon securely if he had but a few more of the
yellow bars to tide over his present distress.  Without them he might
keep afloat for a few months longer; but the end would be utter ruin.
At least he still owned the great dyeing establishment in Tyre, which
had never failed to yield him a handsome revenue.  He recalled how he
had taken it from Cepheus for one-fourth its real value.  It was no
concern of his that Cepheus had stolen it from young Phradates.  What
did the details of the transaction matter now, since they were known
only to himself and to Cepheus, who would not be likely to reveal them,
and to Mena the Egyptian, the young man's steward?  Mena had stolen so
much himself from the spendthrift that he would never dare to tell what
he knew.  And yet the fellow had it in his power to rob Ariston of the
last remnant of his fortune.

A discreet knock interrupted Ariston's reflections.  He brushed his
parchments and papyri hastily into an open box that stood beside his
chair and closed the lid.  "Enter!" he commanded.

An aged slave opened the door.  "Mena, of Tyre," he said.

Cold sweat broke out on Ariston's forehead, but he gave no outward sign
of his consternation.  "Bring him hither," he directed.

The Egyptian, who had been watching the sluggish goldfish floating in
the weed-grown cistern of the court, entered the room with an air of
importance.  He turned his alert face, with its sharp, inquiring
features, upon Ariston.

"Greeting!" he said, extending his hand.  "It is long since we have
seen thee in Tyre."

"Yes," Ariston replied, leading him to a seat opposite his own, "I am
getting too old for travel."

"You have indeed grown older since I saw you last," Mena said, looking
at him attentively.  "I hope it is not because Fortune has been unkind."

Ariston winced, and the change in his expression was not lost upon the
shrewd Egyptian.

"What brings you here?" he asked, shifting the subject.

"We are travelling, my beloved master and I," Mena answered.

"Phradates is with you, then?" the old man asked with an alarm that he
was unable to conceal.

The steward paused before he answered, gazing at Ariston with eyes half
closed and a faint smile upon his lips.

"Phradates is here," he said at last.  "I know of what you are
thinking.  We have been friends too long to have secrets from each
other.  You need have no fear.  Cepheus is dead and I have too many
causes to despise Phradates to take his part."

He paused again and suddenly his face became convulsed with a spasm of
hatred.

"I could strangle him!" he cried, clenching his hands as though he felt
his master's throat beneath his fingers.

Ariston breathed more freely.  At any rate, his property in Tyre was
safe.

"Why don't you do it, then?" he asked coolly.

"Because the time has not yet come!" Mena replied fiercely.  "For every
insult that he has given me and for every blow that he has made me
feel, he shall suffer tenfold!  His fortune is dwindling, and in the
end it will be mine.  Then let him ask Mena for aid!"

"I did not know that you had so much courage," Ariston remarked.

"I have not watched you in vain," Mena replied, "and it is to you that
I now come for assistance."

"To me!" Ariston exclaimed.

"To you," Mena repeated.  "Be not alarmed, for what I have to propose
will be for our mutual benefit.  Phradates has been throwing money
right and left since we set out from Tyre.  Great sums he spent in
Crete and still greater in Corinth.  Since his arrival here he has been
fleeced without mercy.  You will understand that I have tried to
protect him, but merely to save him from injury.  He might have lost
his life only this morning had I not been there to guard him from an
attack by two desperate characters with a crowd of slaves, who set upon
us while we were returning from the dice.  Luckily, I succeeded in
beating them off, but the noble Phradates was thrown from his chair and
his noble nose was battered.  Soon he will be in want of more money.
Of the property that remains to him, he has quarries on Lebanon, which
employ a thousand slaves, silk mills in Old Tyre, where as many more
are kept busy, and a score of ships in the trade with Carthage.  He
believes the value of the quarries and the mills to be only half what
it really is and reports have been made to him that two-thirds of the
vessels of his fleet have been lost.  All this he will pledge for
anything that it will bring when he learns that his money is gone.  It
is for us to get possession of that pledge.  I have a few talents, but
not enough.  I will take care that the loan is never repaid and our
success is certain.  What do you say?"

Ariston looked at the statue of Hermes.  It was a fancy of his that he
could draw either a favorable or an adverse augury from the expression
on the face of the God as it showed in the wavering light of the lamp.
He could detect no change in the mocking smile that seemed to hover
about the marble lips.  It left him with no conclusion.

"What you have told me," he said to Mena, "makes it necessary for me to
tell you something in return.  I am a ruined man."

"Ruined!  You!" Mena exclaimed incredulously.

"It is true," Ariston replied.  "Of all that I had, nothing remains to
me intact except the dye-house in Tyre and a small fleet of corn ships
that has but now arrived from the Euxine.  The worst is that I have
debts that must be met if I am to save other ventures."

"But you have the property of your nephew to draw upon," Mena suggested.

"I had it," the old man said, "but it was turned over to him more than
a year ago.  Since then all my losses have befallen."

"But you are his heir," the Egyptian replied meaningly.  "Is he
married?"

"No; but he soon will be," Ariston replied.

The two men exchanged glances, reading each other's thoughts in their
eyes.  Neither cared to put into words what was in his mind.

"Leave it to me," Ariston said at last.  "I think it can be managed.
Clearchus knows nothing of my affairs, and if I can once more get
control of the property all will be well.  I think we may safely assume
that he will not marry.  For the rest, we must wait and see.  Let us
talk of this pledge that Phradates is to make for our security."

He produced his tablets and a stylus and the conspirators were soon
buried in a mass of calculations.  When Mena took his leave, every
detail had been arranged.

Hardly had Mena disappeared in the direction of the Agora when a man of
unusual stature, with brawny arms and a heavy black beard, turned into
the street in which Ariston lived and stood staring doubtfully about
him.  There was a hint of the sea in his sunburned face and rough
garments.

"If you are looking for the Piræus, my friend, you will not find it
here," said a fruit dealer who chanced to meet him.

"What do you know of the Piræus, grasshopper?" returned the stranger,
halting and looking at the merchant with contempt.  "I am searching for
the house of Ariston, son of Xenas.  Do you know where in this accursed
street it is?"

"Tut, tut; fair words, my friend," the merchant replied, carefully
keeping his distance.  "What do you want with Ariston?"

"That is his affair and mine, but not yours," growled the stranger.

"I'll warrant it is nothing good," the fruit dealer said, "but you will
find his house at the end of the street, near the wall."

Without stopping to thank him, the stranger strode on in the direction
that he had indicated.  The merchant stood for a moment gazing after
him, wondering whence he came and what he wanted; but finding no answer
to these questions in his own mind, he shook his head like a man who is
assured of the existence of something that should not be and continued
on his way to his shop in the Agora to relate his suspicions.

Ariston himself came to the door in response to the stranger's knock.
He was admitted at once and without a word.  Ariston led him in silence
to his own room and seated him in the chair that Mena had occupied half
an hour before.  Instead of summoning a slave, the old man went himself
to fetch a flask of wine and a trencher of bread and cheese.

"Can it be done?" he asked in an eager voice, leaning forward in his
favorite attitude with his elbows on the table while the other ate and
drank.

"It can be done, but it will not be easy," his guest replied.

"Not easy to carry off a woman who has only slaves to guard her?"
Ariston exclaimed.  "Are your men cowards, then, Syphax?"

"No, my men and I are not cowards, old Skinflint," Syphax said, "but
you may as well understand now that we do not intend to risk our lives
for nothing."

He delivered this speech with the blustering air of a bully, gazing
boldly into the old man's face.  Ariston, naturally of small stature,
looked more than ever shrunken and withered in contrast with his
companion; but at the sound of the other's threatening tone, his face
hardened and there came a cold gleam into his eyes.

"I am glad you are not afraid, Syphax," he said in a voice so soft that
it sounded almost caressing.  "Have you forgotten Medon?  Your eyes saw
his death.  He was a brave man, too, your old chief.  I think I can
hear him yet as he called upon the Gods in his torture.  They could not
help him.  Poor Medon!"

The face of Syphax paled under its tan at the recollection that Ariston
had conjured up and an involuntary shudder ran through him.  His bold
eyes wavered before the persistent stare of the little old man, whom he
could have crushed in one of his hands.

"What are you willing to pay?" he asked hoarsely, pushing away his food
half finished.

"You would do it for nothing, if I asked you, Syphax," the old man
replied, still in the same soft voice, "but I have no wish to be hard
with you.  This is a matter in which I have a deep interest and I am
willing to pay well for it.  When you have taken her safely on board,
you will sail to Halicarnassus, where you will search out Iphicrates,
son of Conon, and give him this letter.  If he finds you have done your
work well, he will pay you a talent in silver.  But if the girl has
been harmed in any way, not a drachma will you get and worse will
befall you than befell Medon."

"The work is worth five times as much," Syphax grumbled with downcast
eyes, "but I suppose I have no choice."

"None, my dear Syphax, and I am a poor man," said Ariston.  "Let us
regard the matter as settled.  Now, how do you intend to proceed?"

Syphax roused himself like a man whose professional skill has been
called upon.

"The house stands thus," he said, indicating its position on the table
with a huge finger.  "On this side is the grove where I and a dozen of
my men will lie hidden with the litter.  One of my fellows will scale
the roof and let himself down inside.  He will open the door to us and
the thing will be over in a moment."

"Where will you embark?" the old man asked, nodding approval.

"My ship will be lying off-shore with a boat in waiting.  We will carry
her in the litter to this spot, about two stadia beyond the Piræus,
which we shall have to pass.  We shall make the attack soon after the
middle watch of the night when the moon will be low."

"You should have been a general, Syphax," the old man said.  "You have
a better head for strategy than most of those the Athenians employ.  Go
to your work and forget nothing.  I must attend the Assembly, where
Demosthenes is to stir up the citizens against Alexander, son of
Philip.  They say the boy is dead."

"Alexander dead!" Syphax exclaimed.

"The story is that he was killed by the Illyrians, and Demosthenes has
a man who saw him die," Ariston replied indifferently.  "I think the
man is lying and that Demosthenes knows it.  But these affairs have
nothing to do with you.  Be off to your business."

When the adventurer had gone, Ariston returned to his room and prepared
to write.  From his expression of content, it was evident that he was
satisfied with what had been done.

"To Iphicrates, son of Conon," his letter ran.  "I am sending to you
Syphax, a freebooter from Rhodes, who will deliver to you a young
woman.  You will take her into your house and guard her with care until
you hear from me again.  Syphax will present to you an order for a
talent of silver.  Defer the payment until you have the girl, and then
do with him as you will.  As a pirate and a robber, he has richly
merited death.  May the Gods protect you."

As Ariston was carefully sealing this letter, a gaunt, sour-visaged
woman entered the room.  She was his wife and the one person on earth
in whom he had confidence.  Like most secretive men with whom duplicity
is a daily study, he sometimes felt the need of telling the truth, if
only to note the effect of his schemes upon another's mind.  But even
to his wife, whose covetousness was equal to his own, he never revealed
all that was in his brain.  Her lonely life was spent in a constant
endeavor to piece out from what he imparted to her the full extent of
his plans.  She admired his intellect, but deep in her heart she feared
him, and, womanlike, she was tormented by the suspicion that somewhere
she had a rival to whom he told what he concealed from her.  The
consciousness of her own deficiency of charms made her manner all the
more harsh and forbidding.  As soon as she entered the room she noted
that he was in an easy mood, and she made haste to take advantage of it.

"Who were these men?" she asked.  "What are you about now?"

"Affairs of state, Xanthe, that are not for women to know," he said
mockingly.

"All that concerns you concerns me," she replied.  "Am I to do the work
of a slave here like a mole in the dark?  Who are these women you were
talking of with that evil-looking man?"

"So you were listening!" Ariston said with a frown.

"Yes, I was, if you must know it," Xanthe said defiantly.  "Do you
think I am to know nothing?  If you had consulted more freely with me
before, we would not now be the paupers that we are, and many times I
have told you this, but you will not listen to me because I am a woman."

There was something in this remonstrance that made an impression upon
Ariston's mind, smarting as he was over the loss of his fortune.  It
might have been better, after all, if he had told her more.

"We were talking of only one woman," he said, with an impulse of
frankness.  "She is Artemisia."

"Artemisia!" Xanthe exclaimed.  "Don't try to deceive me.  Why should
you wish Artemisia to be carried off?  Is not Clearchus to make her his
wife?"

"It is for that very reason," Ariston replied.  "I do not wish him to
do so."

"Why not?" Xanthe demanded in a tone of suspicion.

"Sit down and let us talk rationally," Ariston said.  "Suppose they
marry and have children.  His property would be lost to us forever."

"That is true," Xanthe assented.  "I had not thought of that, and we
need it so much more than he.  If he should die, would it belong to us?"

"It would," her husband answered, "and now you know why I wish to
prevent the marriage."

He rose, and she aided him to adjust the folds of his himation.

"I am going to the Assembly," he said.  "If we have war with Macedon,
the price of corn will advance.  Look to the house and let none enter
while I am away."

It was not until after he had gone that Xanthe began to wonder how she
and Ariston were to profit by preventing the marriage, since their
nephew would still be alive and in the possession of his property.  It
could not be that Ariston intended to have him slain.  She shuddered at
the thought, for she was fond of Clearchus, and he had always been kind
to her.  Besides, such a crime could not be committed without almost
certain detection.  Ariston must have formed some other scheme for
bringing about his object.  She reproached herself for not having
questioned him on this point while he was in a frame of mind to answer.
The opportunity might not occur again and she could only guess at what
was to come.  The half-confidence that he had given her left her more
watchful and suspicious than ever.

Syphax meantime had found his way back to the Agora and was about to
enter a wine-shop when he felt some one pluck him by the elbow.
Glancing back, his eyes met those of Mena.

"Ah, my fox," he exclaimed, "what brings you to Athens?"

"Necessity and my master," Mena replied.  "And you?"

Syphax shook his head and made as if to move away, but Mena was not to
be denied.  An hour later they were still together, sitting side by
side in a corner of the wine-shop, and it was fortunate for Ariston
that the Egyptian was his ally instead of his enemy, for all that
Syphax could tell, he knew.



CHAPTER IV

THE VOICE OF DEMOSTHENES

In the Theatre of Dionysus the citizens of Athens were gathering for
the purpose of deciding whether to break their treaty with Macedon and
by one stroke revenge upon Alexander the wrongs and humiliations that
his father had made them suffer.  Ariston walked through the spacious
Agora, surrounded by colonnades and embellished by the statues of
heroes and the Gods.  The shopkeepers and merchants were closing their
places of business and joining in the human tide that was setting all
in the same direction.

Everywhere Ariston heard repeated the assertion that Alexander was
dead.  The news was announced in tones of joy, and invariably it was
accompanied by an expression of desire for war while the enemy was
still unprepared.  There seemed to be only one opinion among the
people.  It was manifested in the clamor of gay and careless confusion
that betrayed the nervous tension of the throng.

Ariston's face became more thoughtful as he proceeded.  He had no doubt
of what the Assembly would do if unchecked, and he foresaw the downfall
of his plans.  A declaration of war with Macedon would be fatal.
Whatever the issue of such a conflict might be, it would certainly
delay Alexander's invasion of Persia and keep Clearchus at home.  He
must be rid of Clearchus at all hazards, and without violence.

Moreover, he knew that the report of Alexander's death was false.  It
was impossible that any person in Athens should have been able to
obtain information later than that which had been brought to him.  He
felt assured that the young king was fighting his way out of Illyria,
with every prospect of escape, and that the report of his death had
been started by Demosthenes as a stratagem to dispose the minds of the
people to war.  By preventing the success of this plan, he reflected,
he would not only be serving his own ends, but also performing a public
service.  Such a coincidence had happened rarely enough in his career.

But he knew it would be useless to attempt any contradiction of the
report at that moment.  He was too thoroughly acquainted with the
characteristics of his countrymen to think of it.  They wished to
believe and they would not allow that wish to be thwarted.  He must
watch and wait.

Pushing through the chattering crowd, he entered the Theatre.  Before
him, in a great semicircle, hewn partly out of the solid rock of the
southeastern pitch of the Acropolis, he saw row on row and tier above
tier of his fellow-citizens,--the brilliant, unstable, cowardly,
heroic, passionate, generous, cruel democracy of Athens.  Above them
towered the crag which they had crowned with triumphs of art and
architecture beyond the power of the world to equal, guarded by the
wonderful Athene, whose creator they had sent to die in prison.  On the
left the great temple of Olympian Zeus raised its massive fluted
columns.  In the Theatre where they sat their fathers had hissed or
applauded the masterpieces of tragedy and comedy.  The babel of talk
and of light-hearted laughter, the shifting of many-hued garments under
the intense blue arch of the sky, reminded Ariston of the fickle sunlit
waves of the Ægean.

The cloud that for years had overshadowed Athens had been removed.
Philip, the tenacious, subtle, resourceful monarch of barbarous
Macedon, had fallen under the dagger of Pausanias, who had doubtless
been inspired by the Gods to punish him for his crimes against the
Athenians.  Little by little, with a purpose that never swerved, he had
made himself master of their fairest possessions.  Time and again they
had sought to shake him off with brief outbursts of restless fury; but
he held what he had won, and in the lull that followed the storm he had
never failed to creep nearer to their citadel.  His advance seemed to
them as inevitable as fate.

Now he was gone, resigning his power and his ambitions to his son,
Alexander, a boy of twenty years, whom all Athens knew as a foolish and
rash youth.  After laying claim to the honors that his father had
forced the states of Hellas to bestow upon him, he had marched into the
unknown wilderness of the north with his army and there had perished.
His fate had been told only in rumors at first, but had not Demosthenes
talked with a fugitive from the Macedonian camp, who had seen him fall
beneath a stone?  Every Athenian felt that the time had come to place
the name of his city once more at the head of the civilized world.
Already the Thebans, aided by their subsidies, had risen against the
barbarian garrison and had shut the Macedonians in the Cadmea.  The
reverses of the past had been forgotten and the lively imaginations of
the Athenians had carried them halfway to the goal of their hopes.

Ariston gazed about him at the shifting throng as though in search of
some one.  The priests of Ceres, Athene, and Zeus stood talking in
groups with the officials of the city, or had already taken their
places in the cushioned marble arm-chairs, with curved backs, that
formed the first row of seats.  Presently the old man caught sight of
Clearchus, and his friends, Chares and Leonidas.  With them sat a young
man of singular appearance whom Ariston did not recognize.  He wore a
splendid mantle of purple, embroidered with gold, a profusion of rings
flashed upon his fingers, and the odor of costly perfumes hung about
him like a cloud.  It seemed as though he sought in his costume to make
up for the deficiencies of nature, for in figure he was short and
stout, with legs and arms of disproportionate slenderness, and his
narrow eyes were set beneath a square forehead from the top of which
the hair had been shaved.

"Greeting, uncle," Clearchus said cordially, as the old man forced his
way toward them.

Ariston sat down on the broad marble step in the space that Clearchus
made for him.  He found himself between his nephew and the stranger.

"This is Aristotle of Stagira, but more recently of Pella," Clearchus
said.  "He can talk to you by the hour, if he chooses, about Alexander,
whom you so much admire."

"Is he really dead, as they say he is?" Ariston asked doubtfully.

"I do not know," lisped Aristotle.  "It is his habit always to expose
himself in battle."

"Can he make himself master of Hellas?" Ariston asked again.

"Only the Gods can answer that," Aristotle replied.  "It is safe to say
that what human ambition can accomplish, he will do.  He was my pupil,
and there are those who maintain that he knows more than his master!"

Although the philosopher spoke with a smile, there was a trace of irony
in his tone that did not escape the alert Athenian.

"You hear that?" he cried, turning to Clearchus.  "Here is a boy who
begins by conquering his instructor.  Where will he end?"

"They say he has ended already, up there among the savages," Chares
said lazily.

"I'll lay you a box of Assyrian ointment that Alexander is still
alive," Aristotle said.

"It's a wager," the Theban cried.  "And the box shall be of gold."

"There goes Callicles.  Hi, there, old Twenty Per Cent!" cried a youth
who was sitting in front of them.

"By the Styx, I wish I had what I owe him!" Chares remarked fervently.

A young man with oiled and curled ringlets, wearing a long silken robe,
and carrying a cane inlaid with mother-of-pearl, pushed toward them,
followed by a slave laden with cushions for him to sit upon.

"Do you know what Phocus has done now?" he asked in an affected voice.

"No," said Chares, coldly.

"He happened to go to the Lyceum the other day, and he overheard
Theodorus, the atheist, say that if it was praiseworthy to ransom a
friend from the enemy, it would also be commendable to rescue a
sweetheart from bondage.  What does he do but buy Tryphonia her freedom
from old Mnemon.  He vows that he will marry her."

Having imparted this bit of gossip, the youth lounged away to repeat it.

"Who is that young man with the red chiton?" Leonidas asked.

"He is Ctesippus, son of Chabrias," Clearchus replied.  "He has spent
twenty thousand talents of gold since his father died--he and Phocus
together.  He thinks he knows more about war than his father knew.  He
drives poor Phocion almost distracted with his advice whenever there is
a campaign; and Phocion endures it because he is his father's son."

Throughout the Theatre rose the hum of gossip and malicious small talk.
Chares listened with indolent contempt.  Leonidas studied the faces of
the men who had won distinction in war, such as Diopethes, Menestheus,
and Leosthenes, whom Clearchus pointed out to him.  Aristotle continued
to lisp to Ariston concerning Macedon.  The attention of the crowd was
diverted by the arrival of the Lexiarchs with their scarlet cords.
Stretching them across the narrow streets, they had been driving the
stragglers into the Assembly like sheep.  The laggard whose garments
showed a trace of the dye with which the cords were covered was forced
to pay a fine.

"Look; there's Phaon with the red stripe on his back!" Chares cried,
standing up to get a better view.

A roar of laughter greeted the victim as he entered and his name was
repeated from all sides.

"Were you asleep, Phaon?  Did your wife keep you at home?  You should
drink less wine in the morning!" shouted his acquaintances.

Another unfortunate came to divert attention from Phaon, and still
others, until all the citizens were accounted for.  The tumult was
succeeded by a hush as the white-robed priests solemnly advanced into
the open space in the middle of the semicircle, carrying a bleating
lamb.  After an invocation to Athene, they cut the animal's throat
before the altar and sprinkled its blood in every direction upon the
pavement.  The oldest of the priests then stood forth, raised his
hands, and looking upward, cried the accustomed formula:--

"May the Gods pursue to destruction, with all his race, that man who
shall act, speak, or plot anything against this State!"

The priests then slowly withdrew, and a herald mounted the bema to
announce, on behalf of the Proedri, the occasion of the Assembly.  He
declared the question to be whether the treaty with Macedon should be
maintained or set aside, and he added that the Senate of the Areopagus
had referred the matter to the decision of the people without
expressing its opinion.

He was followed by a second herald, representing the Epistate, who,
with a loud voice, called upon any citizen above the age of fifty years
to speak his mind, others to follow in accordance with their ages.  As
he ceased and descended, all eyes were turned toward a portion of the
Theatre where sat a gray-haired man, with shoulders slightly stooped, a
sloping forehead, and a retreating chin, partly hidden by a
close-cropped beard.

"Demosthenes!  Demosthenes!" came from every part of the horseshoe.

The man to whom Athens turned in this crisis of her affairs sat unmoved
and apparently oblivious to the demand of the crowd.  Accustomed as
they were to the oratorical combats of the Theatre, the citizens
understood that Demosthenes had determined to reserve to himself the
advantage of speaking last.  They turned, therefore, to his chief
opponent and called upon Æschines.

With an affectation of carelessness, Æschines ascended the bema and
plunged at once into his argument, like a man who speaks what first
occurs to his mind.  The burden of his contention was that Athens was
bound by her oath to observe her treaty with Macedon.  To break it, he
declared, would be to sink to the depth of dishonor and to make the
name of the city a byword throughout the world.  As he elaborated point
after point in his reasoning, all tending to confirm and enforce his
conclusions, it was plain that he was making an impression in spite of
the fact that all who heard him knew that he had been in Philip's pay.
He painted in dark colors the cost and danger of the war that would
follow the violation of the treaty and closed with a florid appeal for
constancy and forbearance, which he called the first of virtues.

He was succeeded by the dandy, Demades, whose robes of embroidered
linen trailed upon the ground, but who sustained the argument against
war with sledge-hammer blows of rhetoric.  Glaucippus, Eubulus,
Aristophon, and other orators, less famous, sat nodding their heads
among their pupils and admirers, who clustered about them criticising
or commending each period that fell from the lips of the speakers.

Watching the effect of the speeches, the partisans of Demosthenes,
fearful that it might be disastrous to permit his opponents to hold the
attention of the people any longer, renewed their shouts for him.  The
Assembly joined them.  It had heard enough of the peace party, and it
was eager to know how Demosthenes would answer.

There had been hardly any cessation of the talk and laughter.  Many
persons even moved about through the audience, chatting with their
friends, and the Scythians, whose duty it was to maintain order, did
not venture to interfere with them.  Everywhere there was talk of the
advantages of peace.  The fever for war had cooled before the logic of
oratory.  Ariston, keenly attentive to all that was passing, was among
those who left his place and wandered about the amphitheatre, pausing
here and there to exchange a few words with an acquaintance.  Behind
him, like a ripple on the surface of a lake, there spread through the
crowd the news that the story of Alexander's death was a falsehood
contrived by the friends of Macedon to entrap the republic into war.

Before the old man had returned to his seat, the contradiction had
reached Demosthenes, elaborated into every semblance of truth.  He saw
that it was believed and that he had been robbed of the main theme of
his speech; for he could not prove that Alexander was dead.  In
response to the cries of the multitude, he rose, and there was no
pretence in the reluctance with which he walked with head bent toward
the benia, considering what he should say.  As he ascended, the
shouting died away, and for the first time there was absolute stillness
in the Theatre.

"Athenians!" he began, in a voice of moderate pitch, but of a resonant
tone that carried it to all parts of the circle, "by all means we
should agree with those who so strenuously advise an exact adherence to
our oaths and treaties--if they really believe what they say.  For
nothing is more in accord with the character of democracy than the
maintenance of justice and honesty.  But let not the men who urge us to
be honest, embarrass us and our deliberations by harangues which their
own actions contradict."

Ariston glanced about him with alarm, which was intensified as the
orator, with consummate skill, built up the argument that, having bound
himself by the treaty to maintain the liberties of Greece, Alexander
had violated his oath by reinstating the tyrants of Messene and by
disregarding other specific clauses.  Artfully exaggerating the
Macedonian aggressiveness, recalling by flattering allusions the great
days of Athens, raising the hope of victory if war should be declared,
Demosthenes presented the situation to the Assembly in such a light as
to make it seem that Athens not only had a right to take up arms
against Macedon, but that it was her plain duty to begin the attack.
This impression grew out of his words without apparent effort to convey
it.  There was nothing in his speech to indicate that he was a special
pleader presenting only one side of the case.  He seemed the
personification of candor and fairness.  As his voice and gestures
became more animated, and the flood of his marvellous eloquence swept
over them, it appeared to his fellow-citizens that the men who had
given expression to the desire for peace must be charlatans or worse,
who had been bribed by Macedonian gold, as in fact many of them had
been, to betray them into the hands of the enemy.  In words that none
but he knew how to choose, he raised the spectre that had been laid by
the death of Philip and made it more threatening than it had ever been
before.

Under the magic spell of his voice old thoughts and feelings stirred
and woke in the hearts of the Athenians.  For an hour they became once
more the men of Platæa and Salamis and of the hundred bloody fields
upon which they had measured their strength with that of their ancient
foes from the Peloponnesus.  Their former greatness of soul flamed up
like a flash from a dying fire.

While Demosthenes spoke, not a word was uttered in the group around
Clearchus.  The young man sat with flushed cheeks and shining eyes,
tingling with a desire to sacrifice life itself, if need there were, to
revenge the wrongs of Athens and crush the insolent Macedonian.
Leonidas listened with hands clenched and with every nerve at tension,
like a hound of pure race straining at his leash toward the quarry.
Aristotle was gravely attentive, and even Chares, though he could not
be aroused from his lazy pose, followed the oration with evident
enjoyment.

When Demosthenes ended and came down from the bema, the Assembly drew a
long breath, and instantly each man fell to discussing with his
neighbor what was best to be decided.  Suddenly they realized with
astonishment that Demosthenes had failed to propose any decree and that
they had nothing before them upon which they might vote.

"I thought he was going to tell us how Alexander died!" Demades sneered.

"What has become of his witness of whom we have heard so much?" a
leather-dealer asked.

"He is afraid to propose war!  He has offered no decree!" another
citizen cried.

These questions and a hundred others were discussed on every side with
a violence that swept away all semblance of dignity or restraint.  The
factions quarrelled like children, and more than once came to blows in
their eagerness, making it necessary for the Scythians of the public
guard to separate them.  At last the herald of the Epistate demanded in
due form whether the Assembly desired any decree to be proposed.  Far
less than the required number of six thousand hands were raised in the
affirmative, and the gathering was dissolved, eddying out of the
enclosure in turbulent disorder.

"Is that all?" asked Chares, rising and stretching himself with a yawn.

"That is all," Clearchus replied sadly.

"With a phalanx of ten thousand brave men I could take your Acropolis,"
Leonidas remarked, measuring the height above his head.

"Yes, but where could you find them?" Aristotle said.

"Who knows?  Perhaps in the camp of Alexander," the Spartan replied.

Ariston had slipped away into the crowd.



CHAPTER V

THE BANQUET

On their way from the Theatre, Clearchus informed his friends of his
decision to be married on the morrow.

"Then we must feast to-night!" Chares cried promptly.

"Very well," Clearchus said, "but you will have to make the
arrangements for me, as I have other things to do."

"Aristotle will take charge of the food and wine," said the Theban,
eagerly, "if he is willing to assume such a responsibility; and I will
provide the entertainment and send out the invitations.  What do you
say?"

"Good," Clearchus replied; "that is, if Aristotle agrees."

"I am willing," said the Stagirite.

"It is settled, then," Chares declared.  "Come, Leonidas, I shall need
your help.  Let us get to work."

It was hardly sunset when the guests who had been bidden by Chares
began to assemble at the house of Clearchus.  A crimson awning had been
drawn over the peristylium and the soft light of scores of lamps shone
upward against it.  Shrubs and flowering plants partly hid the marble
columns.  Medean carpets had been spread upon the floor.  The tables,
each with its soft couch, had been arranged in two parallel lines,
joined at one end by those set for the host and the most honored of the
guests.  At the farther end of the space thus enclosed a fountain flung
up a stream that sparkled with variegated colors.

All had been prepared under the direction of Aristotle in such a manner
as to gratify the senses without jarring upon the most sensitive taste.
The masses of color and the contrasts of light and shade were grouped
with subtle skill to create a pleasing impression.  Slaves walked
noiselessly across the hall, appearing and vanishing in the wall of
foliage, bearing dishes of gold and of silver and flagons filled with
rare wines.  Softly, as from a distance, sounded the music of flutes
and citharse.

Clearchus and his guests, crowned with wreaths of myrtle, reclined upon
the couches.  Their talk ran chiefly upon the events of the day and the
contest of oratory in the Assembly.

"You Athenians ought to pass a law banishing all your speakers," Chares
drawled.  "Then there might be some chance that you would adopt a
policy and stick to it.  As it is, the infernal skill of these men
makes you believe first one thing and then another, until you end by
not knowing what to think."

"You mean we have plenty of counsellors but no counsel," Clearchus
replied.

"That's it, exactly," Chares said.  "And that man, Demosthenes, will
bring you to grief yet, some day."

"All your states have had their turn of power," Aristotle said, "and
none has been able to keep it.  There is another day coming and it will
be the day of the Macedonian.  He dreams of making you all one."

"Let him keep away from my country with his dreams," Leonidas remarked.

"There spoke the lion!" laughed Clearchus.  "Stubborn to the last."

"Did you hear what old Phocion said when he came out of the Theatre?"
asked a young man with a shrill voice who sat on the right.

"No; what was it?" Clearchus inquired.

"Demosthenes wanted to know what he thought of his oration," the
narrator said.  "You know Demosthenes likes to hear himself praised and
he would almost give his right hand for a compliment from Phocion, the
'pruner of his periods,' as he calls him.  'It was only indifferent,'
the old fellow told him, 'but good enough to cost you your life.'  You
should have seen how pale Demosthenes grew; but Phocion put his hand on
his shoulder and said, 'Never mind; for this once, I think I can save
thee.'"

"They say Phocion is an honest man," Chares remarked.

"So he is," Aristotle replied.  "And one of few."

The young men who had assembled to honor the occasion listened eagerly
to every word that fell from the lips of the man whose keen deductions
and daring speculations had begun to open new pathways in every branch
of human wisdom.  The rivalry between the philosophers in Athens was
even more keen than that between the orators, and each had his school
of partisans and defenders.

"Honesty is truth," said Porphyry, a young follower of Xenocrates, who
had succeeded Plato in the Academy.  "But what is truth?  Have you
Peripatetics discovered it yet?"

"We are seeking, at least," Aristotle replied dryly, feeling that an
attempt was being made to entrap him.

"Democritus holds that truth does not exist," Porphyry ventured,
unabashed.

"Yes, and Protagoras maintains that we are the measure of all things
and that everything is true or false, as we will," the Stagirite
rejoined.  "They are unfortunate, for if there were no truth, there
would be no world.  As for the Sceptics, they have not the courage of
their doctrines; for which of them, being in Libya and conceiving
himself to be in Athens, would think of trying to walk into the Odeum?
And when they fall sick, do they not summon a physician instead of
trusting to some person who is ignorant of healing to cure them?  Those
who search for truth with their eyes and hands only shall never find
it, for there are truths which are none the less true because we cannot
see nor feel them, and these are the greatest of all."

"We might know the truth at last if we could find out what animates
nature," Clearchus said.  "Why do flowers grow and bloom?  Why do birds
fly and fishes swim?"

"The marble statues of the Parthenon would have remained blocks of
stone forever had not Phidias cut them out," Aristotle responded.  "It
was Empedocles who taught us that earth, air, fire, and water must form
the limits of our knowledge; but who believes him now?"

"Do you hold, then, with Anaxagoras of Clazomene, that all things are
directed by a divine mind?" Porphyry asked.

This question was followed by a sudden hush while Aristotle considered
his answer.  All present had heard whispers that the Stagirite in his
teaching was introducing new Gods and denying the power of the old
divinities.  This was the crime for which Socrates had been put to
death and Pericles himself had found it difficult to save Aspasia from
the same fate when a similar charge was preferred against her.
Aristotle felt his danger, for he knew that the jealous and powerful
priesthood would be glad to catch him tripping, as indeed it did in
later years.

"It was Hermotimus, I think, who first proposed that doctrine," he said
slowly, "and I have noticed that Anaxagoras employs it only when no
other explanation of what he sees is left him."

There was a murmur of applause at this reply, which suggested the
necessity for supposing the existence of an overruling intelligence
without committing the philosopher to such a belief.  The young
Academician seemed crestfallen, but by common consent the topic was
abandoned as too dangerous and the conversation became more general.

Clearchus could not wholly conceal the anxiety that filled his mind.
He started at every unexpected sound and turned his face toward the
entrance, where he had posted a slave with orders to bring him word
instantly should any message for him arrive.  His mood did not escape
his friends, who, without knowing the reason for it, urged wine upon
him in the hope of raising his spirits and for the same reason
themselves drank more freely than usual.

Chares had promised something new in the way of amusement, but he
refused to tell what it was to be.  Consequently there was a flutter of
expectation when the attendants removed the last course, washing the
hands of the guests for the seventh time, and leaving only wine and
sweetmeats before them.

First came a Scythian with a trained bear, which performed a series of
familiar tricks.  Aristotle watched the animal with the most minute
attention, directing notice to several of its characteristics and
explaining their meaning.  The music then struck into a louder and
livelier air and six young girls, in floating garments of brilliant
hue, performed a graceful dance of intricate figure.  There was no
novelty in this and Chares became the target for good-natured
reproaches, which he received smilingly.  The dancing girls gave place
to a swarthy Indian juggler, whose feats of magic delighted the
spectators and evoked cries of wonder and admiration.

As the juggler retired gravely, it was noticed that Aristotle, unused
to so much wine, had dropped quietly off to sleep.  By command of
Clearchus, two stalwart slaves carried him away to bed, while his
companions at the board drank his health.

"All this is very well, Chares," Porphyry complained, "but I thought
you were going to show us something new."

"Pour a libation to Aphrodite!" the Theban replied, sprinkling a few
drops from his goblet and draining what remained.

The others followed his example, nothing loath.

From behind a mass of blossoms came a young woman and stood before the
sparkling fountain with her chin slightly raised and a smile upon her
lips.  She wore a chiton of shimmering, transparent fabric from the
looms of Amorgos.  The coils of her tawny hair were held in place by
jewelled pins which were her only adornment.  There was a confident
expression of sensuous content on her face and a slight smile parted
her lips as she saw the involuntary admiration that she inspired.

Through the golden cobweb that covered without hiding it, her firm
flesh glowed warmly.  The curves of her shoulders and breast and the
rounded fulness of her lithe limbs were as perfect as a statue.  As
Clearchus gazed upon her with the delight in pure beauty which was so
strong in him, he was beset by an elusive sense of familiarity for
which he tried in vain to find some explanation.  He was certain that
he had never seen the girl before.  Had there been nothing else to
assure him of this, he knew that he never would have forgotten her
eyes.  Like the eyes of a predatory animal, they shot back the light in
reflected gleams of fleeting topaz.

Crouched at her side lay a leopard, his body pressed flat against the
rich carpet in which her white feet were buried.  He wore a golden
collar with a slender chain, the end of which she held between her
fingers.  The beast glanced restlessly from side to side in his strange
surroundings, twitching his tail with nervous uneasiness.

In the light that bathed her from head to foot, the young woman posed
for a moment to allow the spectators to feel the full effect of her
beauty.

"Thais!  Thais!" cried several of the guests, in accents of intense
astonishment.

"Is it really Thais?" Clearchus asked, turning to Chares.  "How did you
ever persuade her to come?"

The Theban smiled, but made no reply.  Thais had only recently begun to
attract attention, but her fame had already eclipsed that of other
popular favorites in Athens.  Sculptors and painters had declared her
the most beautiful woman in all Hellas.  Poets had made verses in her
honor, likening her to Hebe and Aphrodite.  Her house was thronged
daily with the youth of fashion.  She had become the latest sensation
in a city greedy for all that was new.

Little was known of her beyond the fact that she had been reared and
educated in all the accomplishments of her profession by old Eunomus,
one of the most skilful of all the Athenian dealers in flesh and blood.
Where he had found her he refused to tell.  Everybody had heard that
Alcmæon had purchased her freedom a short time before his death, paying
Eunomus half her weight in gold, and that he had made comfortable
provision for her when his last illness seized him and he knew that he
must die.  The only regret that he had expressed was that he must leave
her behind him.

Left in an independent position, Thais had shown herself capricious.
None of the young men who hung about her could boast of any successes.
A few had ruined themselves in their efforts to gain her favor, and one
had even drunk hemlock and crept to her door to die.  Clearchus,
although he had never before seen her, had heard enough of her to feel
astonished at her presence.  He could not understand how Chares had
been able to induce her to come, like a mere dancing girl, for their
amusement, unless he had offered her an enormous sum of money.  Knowing
the reckless character of his friend, the thought alarmed him.

"You have ruined yourself!" he whispered to the Theban.  "What did you
promise the woman?"

"Not an obol, on my honor, O youth of simple heart!" Chares replied,
laughing.

"Then how did you get her to come?" Clearchus asked.  "You do not know
her."

"I invited her," Chares replied; "and she accepted.  I suppose it was a
woman's whim.  I did not ask her."

Slaves ran forward with a number of sword blades set in blocks of wood
in such a manner as to enable them to stand upright.  These they
arranged symmetrically upon the carpet at equal distances from each
other, so as to form a lozenge pattern with its point toward Thais.
Dropping the end of the chain by which she held the leopard, as the
music changed to a rhythmic cadence, the young woman began to tread in
and out between the swords.  Her movements were so light and graceful
that she seemed hardly to touch the carpet, threading her way from side
to side to the quickening measure.  The leopard crept closer to the
line of steel and watched her with glowing eyes.  Faster and faster
grew the measure, and faster grew her motions, until she was whirling
among the blades, which flickered like blue flames as her shadow
intercepted the light.  A misstep would have sent her down to her death
upon one of the points which she seemed to regard no more than if they
had been so many flowers.  The company watched her with a suspense that
was breathless.  Suddenly the music ceased, and she stood before them
unharmed at the upper point of the lozenge.  There was a glow on her
cheeks and her bosom panted from her exertions.  The guests broke into
cries of admiration, casting their wreaths of myrtle at her feet; but
she had eyes only for Chares, who lay looking at her with a lazy smile.
She frowned and bit her lip.

"Did I not do it well?" she demanded.

"Excellently well," Chares replied.

"Is that all?" she asked in a tone of disappointment.

Before he could make any reply there came a frantic knocking at the
door outside the house.  Clearchus started forward with an exclamation
of alarm.  The man whom he had placed on guard ran in, terror stricken,
followed by Tolman, one of the slaves from Melissa's house in Academe.

"Oh, my master!" Tolman cried, throwing himself at the feet of
Clearchus.

"Artemisia!" the young man demanded.

"They have carried her off," Tolman said, "and Philox, the steward, is
slain!"

"Horses, Cleon!  Bring swords and armor!" Clearchus shouted.

"Who has done this?" Chares asked.

"I know not," Clearchus replied; "we were forewarned; but it would be
better for them had they never been born."

"Fetch me a jar of water," Chares cried, pushing aside the guests, who
had left their places and were crowding around Clearchus to learn the
news.  When a slave brought a jar of cold water, the Theban plunged his
head into it to clear his brain and shook off the drops from his yellow
hair.  "Now my armor!" he said.

Leonidas was already occupied in putting on the light accoutrement of a
horseman, and, although he said nothing, there was a look of expectant
joy on his harsh face.

Thais, who had drawn to one side, stood for a moment, and then seeing
that she had been forgotten, slipped away unnoticed.  Some of the
guests hastened to their homes to arm themselves and follow the three
friends, while others remained behind to discuss the event.  Clearchus
said a hasty farewell, and in a few moments from the arrival of the
slave the three young men, followed by Cleon, were racing down to the
city gate.

Into the open country they dashed, Clearchus leading the way, while the
others spurred madly in their effort to keep pace with him.  The sun
had not yet risen when they wheeled into the gateway and drew rein at
Melissa's villa.  The place seemed deserted, for the terrified servants
had closed and barred the doors, fearing a renewal of the attack.  It
was several minutes before they were able to gain an entrance.

The frightened women pressed around Clearchus, wailing and beating
their breasts and trying all at once to tell him the story of what had
happened.  The young man waved them aside and ran to the room where
Philox lay.  The faithful old steward had received a dagger thrust in
the breast and was unconscious.  Clearchus then sought Melissa; but in
the extremity of her fright she had locked herself in her apartments
and refused to open the door.

Finding that nothing was to be learned in that quarter, Clearchus
sternly commanded the women to be silent and answer his questions.
Trembling, they obeyed, and he managed to make them tell how the
marauders had scaled the walls of the house with a ladder and how
Philox had fallen while trying to prevent them from admitting their
confederates.  They had pillaged the house of everything that they
could carry.  Artemisia had fainted when they laid their hands upon her
to take her away, but they had placed her in a litter which they seemed
to have ready for the purpose.  As nearly as the women were able to
judge, they had gone southward, and as soon as they were out of sight,
Tolman had ridden to the city to give the alarm.

"They are making for the harbor," Leonidas cried.  "We shall catch them
yet!"

Clearchus felt two small cold hands clasp his own, and glancing down he
saw Proxena, one of Artemisia's little slave girls, with her
tear-stained face upturned to his.

"Please, master," she sobbed, "bring back our mistress, Artemisia!"

The young Athenian could not speak, but he lifted the child quickly and
kissed her.  In another moment they were off in the pursuit.



CHAPTER VI

SYPHAX EARNS HIS REWARD

Clearchus led the way through brake and thicket and across tilled
fields, bearing off slightly to the southwest so as to avoid the Long
Walls that joined the city to the Piræus, where he knew the robbers
would not dare to venture.  They crossed the winding Cephissus by the
Sacred Way, skirting the hills that overlook the harbor.  It seemed
hours to the young man before they emerged upon the brow of a slope
that fell away to the rocky beach.

Directly below them was a small inlet from which a boat filled with men
was putting out toward a weather-beaten galley that lay a short
distance offshore.

"There she is!" Chares cried, pointing to a blotch of white in the bow
of the boat.

"We are too late!" Clearchus groaned, as he measured with his eye the
widening gap between the boat and the shore.  Despair and helpless rage
surged up in his heart as they dashed recklessly down the slope.

"Come back!" he shouted desperately.  "Twenty talents of ransom!"

The distance was too great for his words to be distinguished, although
his voice evidently reached the boat.  Artemisia heard it and stretched
her arms toward him.  She struggled to rise, but the sailors held her
in her seat.  The steersman turned his bearded face toward the shore
and shouted out a rough command.  The boat continued on toward the
galley, whose sails were already spread for flight.

"They are not all gone!" Leonidas cried eagerly.  "See there!"

A second boat lay in the inlet with its nose in the sand, while its
crew hurriedly stowed away the litter.  As Clearchus looked, they
completed this task and prepared to push off.

The three young men leaped from their horses, but the boat was now
launched.  One of the mariners waded into the water, pushing at her
stern to give her headway, while the others got out their oars.

"You come too late, idlers!" the seamen cried mockingly as their
pursuers leaped down over the rocks to the narrow strip of sand that
fringed the inlet.  "You should rise earlier in the morning."

The man who had been pushing at the stern of the boat was up to his
waist in water.  "Pull me in, lads, she has way enough!" he said; but
as he gathered himself to spring, Leonidas plunged in after him and
clutched him by the ankle.  Paying no more attention to his struggles
than he would have given to those of some fish that he had taken, the
Spartan dragged the spluttering wretch back to the beach.  The crew of
the boat hesitated for a moment as though doubtful whether to attempt a
rescue, but Leonidas settled their doubts by thrusting his sword into
the man's throat.

A cry of rage and a volley of threats came from the boat as the sailors
witnessed the fate of their comrade.  In giving vent to their
indignation, they lost valuable seconds of time.  So narrow was the
inlet that the boat was still within easy javelin cast of the shore.
Clearchus ran along the beach abreast of it, promising a fabulous
reward to the men who should bring back the captive.

"Seek the girl in the slave markets," was all the reply that he could
get, "and see that you come not too late a second time!"

"I promise that you shall not be punished!" the Athenian cried in
despair.  "At least lend us your boat, or take us with you to the
galley."

"If you want our boat, come out and get it!" one of the sailors cried
in derision.

The words were still on his lips when a great stone fell into the water
close beside the prow, dashing the spray into the faces of the crew.
Clearchus looked up in astonishment and saw Chares standing on the
crest of the ledge of rock that rose behind the strip of sand.  The
Theban held another huge and jagged missile poised above his head.
With a mighty effort he hurled it at the boat.  Uttering cries of
terror the sailors attempted to sheer out of the way, but in their
confusion, their splashing oars neutralized each other.  The great
stone, which a man of ordinary strength could not have moved, turned
ponderously in the air and struck the gunwale amidships with a crash
that tore out the planks in splinters.  In an instant the boat filled
and went down, leaving the crew struggling among the floating fragments
of the litter.

Several of the men, who seemed unable to swim, disappeared beneath the
surface.  Others struck out for the beach, only to meet death on the
swords of Chares and Clearchus on one side, and of Leonidas, who had
run around to the opposite shore of the bay to intercept those who
sought to escape in that direction.

One man only, a fellow of powerful frame, seeing the fate that awaited
him on land, swam boldly for the open sea, preferring to take his
chance of being picked up there rather than face death upon the sand.

"Leave him to me!" Chares cried, stripping off his chiton.

Without hesitation, he plunged into the sea, holding his sword in his
left hand and swimming with his right.

"Take him alive!" Clearchus shouted.  "We may learn something from him!"

The chase was short, for although the Theban carried a weapon, the
sailor was encumbered by his garments.

"Wait, my friend, I have something to say to thee," Chares said,
pricking the man with his sword point.

Like a wild beast, the sailor turned in desperation as though to make a
struggle for his life.  He looked with bloodshot eyes into the Theban's
smiling face.

"You have only one chance of seeing to-morrow's sun," Chares said
coolly.  "Swim before me to the shore and make up your mind on the way
to tell all that you know of what has happened."

"Will you spare my life?" the man asked.

"That depends," Chares replied, "but I promise you that I will not
spare it unless you obey without question."

"There is no help for it," the man muttered, and he swam sullenly back
to the beach, where Leonidas quickly secured his arms behind him.

"There is still a chance of capturing the galley," the Spartan said to
Clearchus.  "Ride quickly to the Piræus and hire a vessel to put out
after her.  We will bring this fellow in."

Clearchus dashed away toward the harbor, but, as it happened, there was
no vessel that could take up the chase with any chance of success.  The
galley was running before a fresh southwest wind, and although still
visible, she was already distant.  Of the ships in port, some were
newly arrived and were heavily laden, while others were discharging
their cargoes.  Clearchus offered any price to the captain who should
overtake the fugitive and bring Artemisia back, but the offer was made
in vain.  The best that he could do was to charter six of the swiftest
ships that were available to take up the pursuit as soon as they could
be made ready.

While he was concluding these arrangements, Chares and Leonidas arrived
with the prisoner.  The man said that the galley had just returned from
a piratical cruise on the coast of Lucania and was under the command of
Syphax.  He had joined the crew at Locri, he said, and knew nothing
about the abduction excepting that they were all to be well paid for
it.  He was unable to tell what port the galley expected to make after
leaving Attica.

Although he was examined later under torture, the man could reveal no
more.  He was thrown into prison to be used as a witness against his
companions should they be caught.  The last of the vessels that
Clearchus sent on the chase was out of the harbor before nightfall, and
the young man, feeling that he had done all that he could do, rode back
to the city overwhelmed by his loss.  Chares and Leonidas sought in
vain to comfort him.  His self-reproach at having left Artemisia
unguarded after the warning of the dream was too poignant.  He shut
himself up to avoid the acquaintances who flocked about him to offer
their sympathy and to learn the details of his sorrow.  They questioned
the slaves when they found the doors closed against them and then ran
to tell what they had learned in the baths, the barber shops, and the
gaming houses, greedy of gossip.  Ariston, after making certain that
his part in the plot had not been discovered, came to visit his nephew
and was admitted.

"We have no defence against the will of the Gods when it falls heavily
upon us save one," he said.

"What is that?" Clearchus asked.

"Patience," the old man responded.

"Patience!" Clearchus exclaimed, striding back and forth with clenched
fists.  "Yes, I will have patience!  I will have patience to seek
Artemisia to the ends of the world until I have found her!  And I will
have patience until every man who is concerned in this attack upon us
has paid for it with his life.  I will be patient!"

Ariston blanched at this outburst, but immediately recovered himself.
"Alas!  What can you do alone?" he asked mournfully.

"He will not be alone, for Chares and I will be with him," Leonidas
said quietly.  "We have sworn it."

"I will not advise against it," Ariston said with a sigh.  "But it may
be that the galleys you have sent out will bring the robbers back.  You
must not forget that you have duties to the State.  The times are
troubled and your fortune is great."

"My own affairs must come first at present," Clearchus said bluntly.
"As for my fortune, of what use is it to me without Artemisia?  I must
ask you to take charge of it once more for me.  I shall give you full
power, and if I come not back I desire that it shall be devoted to the
public good as you may see fit."

"I am an old man," Ariston said, with mock hesitation, "but I cannot
refuse the trust under the circumstances if you require it of me.  Yet,
why dost thou leave Athens?"

"How can I remain here?" Clearchus exclaimed.  "My suffering is too
great.  But I knew you would not refuse me," he added in a calmer
voice, clasping his uncle by the hand.

"Doubtless they have carried her to some one of the Eastern cities,"
Ariston said reflectively.  "That is where this Syphax would most
naturally go, as it seems his hope is to get money.  I will write to
such friends as I have there to be on the watch."

Clearchus groaned.  "It will be too late, I fear, before thy letters
can reach them," he said.  "I know not what to do nor where to turn."

"Here is Aristotle; let us consult him," Chares said as the philosopher
entered.

Aristotle listened attentively while Clearchus and his friends related
all the circumstances of Artemisia's abduction.  He asked many
questions regarding the particulars of the dream of warning that had
preceded the attack.

"Some things we know and others we can guess," he said at last.  "Only
the Gods know all.  The world is wide.  I pity thee, Clearchus, my
friend, with all my heart, and I wish that I might aid thee.  It is
clear that the warning came from Artemis.  I advise thee to seek
counsel from Phœbus, her brother.  Thou art not an unworthy disciple
of his, for thy heart is pure and thy hands are clean.  Thou lovest the
poets and music.  Go to him with faith and perhaps he will aid thee."

Hope appeared upon the face of the young Athenian.  "I will go," he
said.  "The great God himself loved Daphne and lost her.  He may take
compassion on me.  Chares shall remain here and set all things in order
so that we may act quickly if a sign should be given.  Will you come
with me, Leonidas, to Delphi?"

"I will," said the Spartan, "and let us go at once; for I can see that
thy heart is sick."



CHAPTER VII

THE RESPONSE OF THE ORACLE

Clearchus and Leonidas rode out of Attica across the olive-bearing
plains, and up the rugged spurs and ridges which flank the mountain of
Cithæron, upon whose rocky slopes Antiope wailed as an infant, and the
rash Pentheus was torn to pieces by women to the end that the power of
Dionysius might be established.  They halted for a brief space at the
fortress of Phyle, the key that had opened to Thrasybulus his native
land and enabled him to give it freedom.  Leonidas admired the great
walls built of square blocks of stone laid one upon another without
mortar and fitted so exactly that the joints would scarcely be seen.

Teleon, captain of the guard which was stationed at this gateway, was a
friend of Clearchus.  He gave them bread and wine, while the young
Athenian told him of his misfortune.  After expressing his sympathy,
Teleon inquired eagerly for the news of Athens.

"Will the Assembly send troops to the aid of Phœnix and Prothytes,
who have raised the revolt in Thebes?" he asked.  "You know they now
hold the city, and my spies tell me that they are preparing for any
attack that may be made upon them."

Clearchus gave him an account of the indecisive meeting of the Assembly
on the preceding day.

"All Athens believes the boy king is dead," he said, referring to
Alexander.  "What is your opinion, Teleon?"

"That, too, is the belief in Thebes," the captain replied.  "I know
not; but if it proves to be so, Thebes is free."

"And if not?" Clearchus asked.

"If not, there will be fighting," Teleon predicted, "and may Zeus
inspire the Macedonian to attack us here!"

From the slope beyond Phyle the young man saw the Bœotian plain
spread out before them, and beyond, in the purple distance, the rocky
ramparts of Phocis.  There, glowing rose-colored in the evening light,
shone the snow-clad crest of Parnassus.  Clearchus' heart swelled as he
looked upon the goal in which his hope was centred.

"We must be there to-morrow," he said eagerly.

"The God will not run away!" Leonidas replied.

They plunged down the mountain slope into the shadows, which deepened
under the plane trees as they advanced, until the winding track was
almost hidden before them.  The moon rose as they emerged upon the
plain that had so often drunk the life-blood of Hellas.  At Thespiæ
their horses could go no further, and they halted for the night.

Although the road from Thebes was better, they had purposely avoided
the city, fearing that the disturbances there might delay them.  They
found Thespiæ full of rumors of the Theban uprising.  Some said that
the Macedonians in the Cadmea had been put to the sword; others that
the peace party had gained the upper hand and was awaiting the arrival
of Alexander.  Leonidas, who listened eagerly to all that was said, was
surprised to find that the report of the young king's death was
discredited in the town.  There were even men who insisted that he was
on his way through Thessaly at the head of his army, ready to strike.

The Spartan sighed and looked wistfully over his shoulder in the
direction of Thebes as they took horse at sunrise.  At evening,
begrimed with dust, they toiled up the last ascent that led to Delphi,
the terraced city among the sacred cliffs--the Navel of the World.

As Clearchus gazed upward at the twin columns of the Phædriades rising
side by side a thousand feet above the temple in the cool gray
twilight, the fever of anxiety in his blood left him and his pulses
beat more slowly.  The strong masonry of the outer wall, which enclosed
and seemed to hold from slipping down the mountain side the buildings
clustered about the lofty terrace, on which the temple stood close
under the towering cliffs, shut in the shrine that for centuries all
Hellas had looked upon as hallowed.  Awe came upon him in the presence
of the great Mystery.  There were scoffers in Athens who laughed at all
religion.  There were philosophers in the world who taught that the
existence of the Gods was a foolish dream.  Why had Phœbus permitted
the Phocians to seize his treasure and to profane his altar, they
asked, if he really existed?

Clearchus put the same question to himself as he looked down upon the
Cirrhæan fields that had been consecrated to the God and condemned to
lie waste forever in his honor.  The Phocians had desecrated them by
cultivation.  When condemned by the Amphictyons at the instance of
their enemies, the Thebans, they had seized the shrine and the
treasure-houses.  Though they had prospered for a time, in the end
Philomelus and Onomarchus had been slain and the Phocians broken and
scattered.  The sacrilege had been punished, but Philip had been
brought into Hellas as the champion of the God and the chief instrument
of his wrath.  Thebes had been placed beneath his feet.

What was to be the end?  Was the fate of the city that had driven the
Phocians to their crime to be worse than that of their victims?
Clearchus, as he thought of these things, was chilled with an
indefinable dread of the Invisible Presence whose home was among the
silent and Titanic crags that made the utmost triumphs of human art and
skill laid at their feet seem as transitory as the work of children
fashioned in sand.  He felt that here the mighty purpose of the Unseen
was being worked out, deliberate and irresistible, before which the
races of men were as nothing.

They did not enter the city that night, but turned aside to the house
of Eresthenes, who had been a guest-friend of Clearchus' father.  The
old man was overjoyed to see them.  After the evening meal he sought
the priests of the temple and brought back word that the oracle might
be consulted next day if the sacrifice proved propitious.

Clearchus slept soundly.  In the morning he purified himself, according
to the rule, in the clear, cold waters of the Castalian Font hung about
with votive offerings in marble and bronze placed there by grateful
pilgrims to the shrine.  Eresthenes gave him fresh garments, with the
garland of olive and the fillet of wool which suppliants were required
to put on.

Guided by the old man, the two friends ascended the wide marble
staircase that led to the great stone platform at the southeast corner
of the lower terrace, where ceremonial processions were accustomed to
form before entering the sacred enclosure.  Passing through the gate,
they advanced between treasure-houses upon which the most famous
sculptors of the world had lavished their skill.  Among these and the
dwellings of the priests and the chief men of the place were set scores
of columns and statues, the offerings of centuries from kings and
princes.  Across the lower terrace the way led them to the next higher,
with a sharp turn to the right at the great stone sphinx which guarded
the passage through the second wall.  They continued up the slope to
the final platform, on which the temple stood resplendent with color.

Entering between the great columns, Eresthenes and Leonidas left
Clearchus to the care of the priests--grave men of advanced age who
were under the direction of Agias.  They led the Athenian to the
apartment of the chief priest, a venerable minister whose age had
passed one hundred years.  He sat in his marble arm-chair, propped by
cushions.  His white beard flowed over his breast, and his thin hands
lay crossed in his lap.  He raised his dim eyes and fixed them upon the
face of his visitor.

"What wilt thou, Thrasybulus, who comest back to me from beyond the
tomb?" he asked in a quavering voice.

The attendant priests glanced at each other in surprise, but none of
them dared to reply.

"Speak, Thrasybulus; I am an old man," the chief priest said.

"Thrasybulus has been dead these fifty years, Father," Agias said.
"This is Clearchus, an Athenian, who comes as a suppliant to the
oracle."

"He is like Thrasybulus!" the old man muttered, bowing his head.  "It
seems but yesterday that he stood before me."  He paused for a moment
and then continued with an effort: "Art thou pure of heart?  Art thou
free from the sins of the flesh?"

"I am," Clearchus replied firmly.

"Then pass into the presence of the God who knoweth all and who doth
not forget!" said the patriarch, closing his eyes wearily.

Clearchus bowed and was about to turn away, when the old man roused
himself once more.

"Come hither, boy, and let me look at thee!" he said.  "My sight is
growing dim."

Clearchus knelt at his feet, and the aged priest placed his hand on his
head, stroking his hair and peering into his face.

"So like Thrasybulus!  It was only yesterday!" he said to himself.
"The storm comes and the world is changing.  Thou shalt see thrones
made empty and nations perish; but the God will remain until a greater
cometh.  Clearchus art thou called?  It may be so; but to me thou art
Thrasybulus.  Go thy ways.  The God will be kind to thee."

Although the other priests were evidently struck by this unusual scene,
they made no comment, but led Clearchus into the dim interior of the
temple.  On every hand, between the columns and against the walls,
gleamed statues and vessels of precious metals, exquisite in design and
workmanship, that the Phocians had not dared to remove from the house
itself of the God.  Before them stood a group of young women in snowy
robes with fillets in their hair.  They were chanting a hymn of slow
and solemn measure.

They ceased their chant as the priests entered with Clearchus, and two
of them advanced, leading between them one of the three priestesses of
the temple.  The Pythia was a woman of middle age, slender of figure,
with large gray eyes that seemed to look at Clearchus without seeing
him.  Her thin cheeks still retained the fresh color of youth, and her
lips, of a deep red, moved gently as though she were whispering to
herself.

Looking about him with eyes grown accustomed to the semidarkness,
Clearchus saw a slightly raised platform of white marble toward the
rear of the temple.  Three shallow steps led to a broad slab, in the
middle of which was a cleft.  Through this orifice curled a pale,
fleeting vapor, which rose like transparent smoke for the height of a
man above the platform before it vanished.  It came from the stone in
puffs and spirals which swayed, now this way, now that, with a
peculiarly irregular and capricious impulse like the balancing of a
coiled serpent.

Over the cleft was set a low tripod, the legs of which were formed of
intertwined snakes wrought in gold so cunningly that every scale seemed
reproduced in the bright metal.  The jewelled eyes of the reptiles
twinkled through the vapor which alternately hid and revealed them.

Slowly and solemnly the priestesses led the Pythia to the foot of the
platform, where they gave her hands to two of the most venerable of the
priests, whose office it was to conduct her to the tripod.  Her lips
formed themselves into a smile as she mounted the steps and the women
resumed their chanting.

As she took her place upon the tripod and the priests descended,
leaving her alone, a sudden thunderstorm burst above the towering crags
which overhung the shrine.  The wind roared down between the Phædriades
with mighty strength, and a crash of thunder, leaping and reverberating
from rock to cliff, shook the temple to its foundations.

"Zeus is speaking to the son of Latona!" murmured Agias, and all bowed
their heads in reverence.

Filled as he was with awe, Clearchus felt reassured by the calm
demeanor of the priests.  He fixed his eyes on the Pythia, who remained
seated on the tripod with her hands loosely folded in her lap,
oblivious alike to the storm and to her surroundings.  The chill vapor
seemed to grow more dense.  At times it hid her entirely, wrapping her
in its cold embrace.  The color deepened in her cheeks and the smile
left her parted lips.  With dilated pupils she gazed over the heads of
the little group before her.  Gradually her face assumed a troubled
expression and her tongue began to frame broken words and fragmentary
sentences the purport of which Clearchus could not understand.
Suddenly she half raised her hands as though she would cover her eyes
and her face contracted as with a spasm of pain.

"Evohe!  Phœbus!" she cried in a wailing voice.

"Ask thy question--the God is here!" Agias whispered, pushing Clearchus
toward the platform.

The young man found himself standing alone in the dread Presence,
gazing upon the Pythia, who was no longer a woman, but an instrument in
the hands of the God.  The vapor curled about her and encircled her in
swiftly changing, fantastic forms.  Her gray eyes looked out into his,
fixed and steadfast, and the tension of the influence which possessed
her convulsed her features.  Dead silence reigned throughout the vast
and shadowy interior of the temple.

Clearchus tried to frame the question that he had prepared but the
words refused to come.  The awe of his surroundings paralyzed his
speech.

Suddenly the dear, wistful face of his love seemed to appear to him
amid the folds of the rolling mist, filled with sorrow and yearning.
His fear left him.  All else, even life itself, was as nothing before
the fierce desire of his heart.

"Where shall I find Artemisia?" he cried, stretching out his arms
before the whirling cloud which hid the priestess in its embrace.

There was a moment of suspense, in which he could hear the dull rushing
of the torrent that filled the sluices, overflowing with the rain, on
either side of the temple.  The priests leaned forward attentively to
catch the reply, each holding a tablet of wax and a stylus with which
to record any words that the Pythia might utter.  Clearchus stood
motionless, his arms still outstretched, gazing with straining eyes
upon the lips of the priestess.  She writhed upon the tripod as though
in agony.  Her eyes were set and glassy and a slight foam showed itself
upon her mouth.  Then came her voice, strained and strange, through the
eddies of the vapor:--

"Seek in the track of the Whirlwind--there shalt thou find thy Beloved!"

Her eyes closed, and a shuddering sigh issued from her bosom.  The two
priests who had placed her upon the tripod hastened forward and bore
her from the platform.  She had lost consciousness completely.  Her
head drooped upon her shoulder and her face was as pale as death.  The
old men gave her in charge of the women, who ran forward to receive her
and quickly carried her into their own apartments.

A great joy filled Clearchus.  "She is safe!  She is safe!  And I shall
find her!" he said to himself, following the silent priests out of the
temple.  As they passed out into the portico he looked back over his
shoulder at the platform where the God had manifested himself.  The
swift storm had swept over and the sun was shining again.  A gleam of
his light fell upon the curling mist and Clearchus saw it tinged with
the prismatic colors of the rainbow.



CHAPTER VIII

THE THUNDERBOLT FALLS

Leonidas and Eresthenes stood in the portico of the temple awaiting the
return of Clearchus.

"All is well!" the young man cried, throwing his arms around Leonidas
in the excess of his joy.

"Shall we find her?" the Spartan asked anxiously.

"Yes; the God has promised it," Clearchus replied.

"Where is she?" Leonidas asked quickly.

Clearchus hesitated and his face fell.  The oracle had not told him
where she was.

"What did the God mean when he spoke of the Whirlwind's track?" he
asked, turning to the priests.

"We know no more than thou," Agias replied.  "The answer given to thee
is more definite than any we have had in these later times.  That is a
good omen.  Be content and doubtless the God will choose his own way to
make all clear to thee."

Clearchus was troubled, but he thanked the priests and arranged for the
bestowal of an offering of ten talents of gold.  He was about to take
his leave when a man with mud-stained garments came running up the
steep incline to the temple.  He was one of the agents or messengers
that the priests maintained in every large city of Greece to keep them
informed of events.  The knowledge which they brought, added to that
which came with visitors to the oracle from all parts of the world,
made Delphi the centre of intelligence and enabled the servants of the
God, if need there was, to supplement his answers from their own
understanding.

The man halted breathless before the white-clad group that stood in the
sunlight between the columns awaiting him.

"It is Cimon," Agias said.  "What news dost thou bring--speak!"

"Alexander is before the walls of Thebes with his army!" the messenger
panted.

"Whence came he?" Agias demanded.

"Out of the mountains of Thessaly--like a whirlwind!" Cimon replied.
"Before men had time to learn of his approach, he was there."

"Like a whirlwind, you say?" Agias repeated, glancing at Clearchus.

"Like a whirlwind, indeed," the messenger replied, "and panic holds the
city!"

"Thy question is answered, my son," said Agias, quietly.

Clearchus was amazed.  He had believed that the words of the Pythia
were to be taken in their literal sense, and he had resolved to consult
Aristotle in the matter on his return to Athens.  But when Agias called
his attention to the reply of the messenger, who could have had no
knowledge of the prophecy, he could not doubt that a metaphor had been
intended.  The plans of the young Macedonian monarch at once acquired a
new and intense interest in his mind and he listened eagerly to Cimon's
story.

"The Thebans are divided," said the messenger.  "They know not whether
to surrender their city and earn their pardon, or to give defiance to
the young king.  The last they had heard of him was that he had been
slain in battle at Pelium by the blow of a club.  You know already that
the citizens rose when Phœnix and Prothytes came back from Athens
and that they besieged the Macedonian garrison in the Cadmea.  Athens
sent money and promised an army.  The Bœotarchs ordered the walls to
be made strong and a barricade to be built inside so that even if the
walls should fall, they would still be able to defend themselves.
Fugitives from Onchestris brought the first news that Alexander and his
army were there.  Even then the city would not believe it was the
Hegemon himself, but maintained that it must be Antipater or the
Lyncestian namesake of the king.  For how, they asked, could the dead
come to life?"

"Nothing is beyond the power of the Gods," Agias said sententiously.

"We expected a swift attack," Cimon continued, "but it was not until
the next day that the army came within sight of the city and encamped
north of the walls.  The Thebans sent their cavalry and light troops to
meet them.  This was only a skirmish, but the soldiers brought word
that Alexander, indeed, was there.  Some of them who knew him had seen
him directing the Macedonian troops.

"We found this to be true when the Macedonians moved their camp around
to the main gate.  The soldiers of the garrison in the Cadmea
recognized their king and cried out to us that Alexander had come to
avenge them.  Still he did not attack, but sent a herald to say that he
would forgive all that had been done if the city would yield itself and
send him Phœnix and Prothytes to be punished."

"And what was the answer?" Agias asked.

"There were many who favored accepting the terms," Cimon replied,
"especially since aid from Athens had been cut off; but the exiles who
had returned to raise the revolt declared that the king was afraid.
Should he have the boldness to attack the walls, they promised that he
would be beaten and that Thebes would send a garrison to Pella instead
of having one in the Cadmea."

"They are desperate men," the old priest said.

"But they won the people," Cimon replied, "and it was resolved to
fight.  So matters stood when I slipped out of the northern gate last
night to bring you word."

"You have done well, Cimon," Agias said.  "Dost thou think the city
will escape?"

"That I cannot tell," the messenger answered.  "It has corn enough for
a siege; but Alexander's army contains thirty thousand footmen and a
troop of horse, besides ballistæ and battering-rams which they were
setting up when I left."

"The walls are strong," Agias said, reflecting.  "Well, go to thy rest.
Thou hast need of it."

Clearchus and his friends had enough to talk about as they walked down
from the temple.

"One thing is certain," said the young Athenian.  "We must go at once
to Thebes."

"That we must do if only to see the fighting," Leonidas replied.

"What if the Dragon's Teeth should win?" Eresthenes suggested.

"They cannot," Leonidas said.  "The man who could make the march that
Alexander made is a general as well as a king.  There is no Epaminondas
in Thebes now."

"What will become of Chares' mother and his family if the city falls?"
Clearchus exclaimed, stopping short.

"Have I not heard him say that his father formed a guest-friendship
with Philip when the Macedonian was left in Thebes as a hostage?"
Leonidas replied.

"Yes," Clearchus admitted, "but that may be forgotten by his son if all
they say concerning Philip's death be true."

"Then we must remind him," Leonidas said, "and that is another reason
why we must go to Thebes."

Eresthenes gave the young men a cordial good-speed when they left him
in the morning to set out for the beleaguered city.  They descended
from the mountains and entered the fertile plains of Bœotia, through
which they rode all day without finding a sign of war.  The farmers
went about their work and the shepherds were pasturing their flocks as
peacefully as though there were no such things as armies and slaughter.
More than once they stopped to ask news of the siege, but the people of
the plain could tell them nothing.  Many of them had not heard that
Alexander was before the city; others had indeed heard the rumor, but
convinced that they themselves were safe, they took no interest in it.

Evening was drawing on and they had approached to within a few miles of
the city when they met a rider whose horse was dripping with sweat.

"Ho, there; what news of Thebes?" Leonidas shouted as he passed.

The man looked at them, but made no answer.  He bent low on the neck of
his horse and his cloak flew out behind him like the wings of a huge
bird.

"There has been a battle," Leonidas said.  "Was he Theban or
Macedonian?"

Burning with impatience, they urged their horses to the crest of a low
hill, where they came suddenly upon half a dozen cavalrymen, who had
halted in a small grove to bind up a wound which one of their number
had received in the shoulder.

"What has happened?" Leonidas asked, drawing rein beside them.

"Know you not that the city has fallen?" one of the soldiers replied.
"The accursed Macedonians forced us in through the gates and came in
with us.  Not a soul is left alive in Thebes, and my wife and children
were there!"

"And that is where you should be," the Spartan replied contemptuously.

The poor fellow burst into tears at this reproach as he thought of the
fate of his little family.  Clearchus, touched by his grief, drew out
his purse and gave it to him.

"If they are still living, this may aid you to ransom them," he said.

As the two friends proceeded they now began to meet other bands of
fugitives straggling along the road.  Most of them fled silently, often
looking back over their shoulders as if in dread of pursuit.

"Cowards!" said Leonidas, scornfully.

"Life is sweet to all of us," Clearchus remonstrated, thinking of
Artemisia.

"To such as these it should be bitter!" the Spartan replied.

They were rounding a turn in the road as he spoke, and before the words
were well out of his mouth they found themselves entangled in a rabble
of horsemen, who were retreating before a fierce attack.

"In here, quickly!" Leonidas cried, urging his horse back among the
trees beside the road.

They had barely time to gain this shelter before the rush of plunging
horses and shouting men went past them.  The Thebans were evidently
making a desperate attempt to rally, and just beyond the spot where the
two were concealed they halted, wheeled, and stood at bay.

But before they had accomplished this manœuvre the foremost of the
pursuers, headed by a young man riding a powerful chestnut horse, swept
into sight.  The leader, in his excitement, had distanced his troop.
Clearchus and Leonidas, who, from their position in the elbow of the
road, were able to see in both directions, realized that he was
galloping straight into an ambush.  Leonidas started forward to warn
him, but it was too late.  The Thebans had regained their order, and
with a wild shout they charged back around the curve.

Either the unexpectedness of the onset caused the chestnut to swerve,
or his rider tried to pull him up too suddenly, for he stumbled and
went to his knees.  The young man was pitched headforemost into the
underbrush and fell almost at the feet of Leonidas.

Some of the Theban troopers saw the accident and rushed upon him with
cries of triumph.  They were confronted by Leonidas and Clearchus, who
stood over the prostrate figure with drawn swords.  Surprise caused the
Thebans to hesitate, and this saved the lives of all three; for the
Macedonian riders, thundering down upon the Thebans at full speed,
struck them and tore them to pieces.  Horse and man went down before
that fierce charge, which left nothing behind excepting the dead and a
handful of wounded, whose cries for mercy were cut short by a
sword-thrust.  The survivors fled without looking behind them.

"Where is Ptolemy?" shouted one of the Macedonians, a bearded man who
seemed to be second in command.  "Who has seen the captain?"

"He rode in advance," one of the troopers replied.

"If we do not bring him back, we shall have to answer for it to the
king, and you know what that means," the first man said.

"He is here!" Clearchus called from the thicket.

The bearded lieutenant and several others hastily dismounted and
carried their captain out into the road.  He was still unconscious.

"Who are you?" the lieutenant demanded gruffly, looking at the two
young men with suspicion.

"I am Clearchus of Athens, and this is Leonidas of Sparta," Clearchus
replied.

"Of Athens!" the man said sneeringly.  "Go back to your city and tell
the cowards who live there that we are coming!"

"As you came once before--with Xerxes!" the young Athenian answered
quickly.

The lieutenant's face grew livid and he whipped out his sword.

"Cut their throats!  Kill them!" the troopers cried angrily, pressing
closer.

Like a flash, Leonidas bestrode the form of the captain, sword in hand.

"I am of Sparta!" he cried boastfully.  "My country never saw the face
of Philip, nor shall it look upon that of his son, who calls himself
the Hegemon of all Hellas.  Put away your swords, or here is one whose
funeral you will celebrate to-morrow!"

He placed the point of his blade at the captain's throat as he spoke.
The men of Macedon dared not move.

"Listen to reason!" Clearchus said hastily.  "We are without armor, as
you see.  We saved the life of your captain, and we are on our way to
Thebes to see Alexander on matters of importance.  Take us with you and
let your king deal with us.  This is no time nor place for brawling."

"You are right," the lieutenant said sullenly.  "Let it be as you say."

He sheathed his sword, and the others followed his example, though with
an ill grace.  The captain had begun to recover his senses.  His skull
must have been tough to have resisted the shock of his fall without
cracking.

"Why are you letting me lie here?" he demanded.  "Where is the enemy?"

"Scattered and gone, excepting these that you see," the lieutenant
replied, pointing to the bodies.

"Then get me on a horse and back to camp," the captain ordered.

As they rode the lieutenant explained the presence of Clearchus and
Leonidas.  The captain frankly gave them thanks when he learned that
they had protected him while he lay helpless.

"I am Ptolemy," he said, "and since you desire to see Alexander, I will
take you to him.  I owe you much and the day may come when I shall be
able to repay you."



CHAPTER IX

THE DOOM OF THEBES

The plain where once the sons of Niobe lay weltering had borne its last
harvest of slaughter.  On every side Leonidas and Clearchus noted the
ghastly evidences of battle.  Darkness fell before Ptolemy's troop
reached the shattered gates of Thebes.  Men with torches in their hands
wandered through the streets strewn with corpses, seeking plunder among
the dead or searching for the bodies of friends.  Neither sex nor age
had been spared when Perdiccas hewed his way into the city.  The very
altars of the Gods were crimsoned with the vengeance taken by the
Phocians, the Platæans, and the Bœotians for the centuries of cruel
oppression that they had suffered from the rapacious brood of the
Dragon.

Mothers lay dabbled in blood, with their infants beside them, struck
down in flight.  The market-place was heaped with bodies, showing how
desperate had been the final stand of the Theban soldiers.  The streets
were littered with household gear that had been dragged in wantonness
from despoiled homes.

The plundering was not yet finished.  Bands of soldiers were still
searching for booty in the remoter quarters of the city, where their
progress could be traced by the sound of their drunken laughter,
mingled with the screams of their victims.

Macedonian guards paced the walls and cut off all hope of escape.  The
wretched inhabitants, driven into the highways, sought concealment in
dark angles and narrow lanes, cowering in silence.

Here and there a woman, rendered desperate by her anguish, walked with
dishevelled hair, heedless of insult, seeking her children among the
slain in the hope that she might find them still alive.

Clearchus felt his heart grow faint at the thought that Artemisia might
be exposed to the frightful chances of such a sack.  Phœbus himself,
he thought, might be unable to protect her, since here the temples of
the Gods had been profaned.  An old man in priestly robes stood out
before them with trembling hands upraised.

"Vengeance, O Zeus!" he cried aloud.  "Vengeance upon those who have
violated the sanctuary of Dionysus, thy son!  May they--"

"Silence, Graybeard!" growled a soldier, striking him across the mouth
with his fist.

The old man reeled from the blow and shrank away into the shadow.

"You'll choke if you ever try to drink wine again, Glaucis!" a comrade
cried, laughing.

"Dionysus will forgive me soon enough for a sacrifice," Glaucis
returned.  "Never fear!"

Ptolemy learned that Alexander had gone to the Cadmea and thither he
led Clearchus and Leonidas after he had dismissed his men, eager to
take their share in the pillage.  They found the young king in a large,
bare room in the lower part of the citadel.  He had not yet laid aside
his armor, which was dented and scratched by use.

When they entered, he was giving orders to his captains, who stood
grouped about him.  Clearchus looked at him with eager interest.  He
saw a well-proportioned, athletic figure, no taller than his own.  The
handsome beardless face glowed with the warm blood of youth and a smile
parted the full red lips.  There was no trace of fatigue in the young
king's attitude, despite the labors of the day, and his movements were
alert and decisive.  He looked even more youthful than his twenty-one
years as he stood among his leaders, some of whom were veterans of
Philip's campaigns, grizzled with service.  But in spite of his youth,
there was a confidence in his bearing that left no doubt of who was
master.

Clearchus felt himself strangely drawn to the young man whom all
Hellas, with the exception of Sparta, acknowledged as its champion, and
who was about to assail that great power beyond the Hellespont, whose
limits were unknown and before whom Greece had stood in dread since the
days of Great Cyrus.  The Athenian found the "boy king" very different
from the arrogant, mean-spirited upstart that the orators of his city
had painted him.

"Stop the plundering," Alexander said to his captains.  "Even the
Bœotians must be satisfied by this time.  Let the men go back to the
camp, and see that order is maintained.  The Ætolians and the Elæans
are on the march and reënforcements are coming from Athens.  There may
be more work to do to-morrow."

As the officers left him to execute his commands, Alexander turned to
Ptolemy with hands outstretched.

"I am glad to see you safe!" he said.  "You charged bravely before the
gate, and I feared that something might have happened that would
deprive me of your aid when we march into Persia."

Ptolemy's bronzed face reddened with pleasure as he heard the praise of
the young king.

"I went in pursuit of the enemy's cavalry," he said.

"Is it likely that any of those who escaped will be able to rally?"
Alexander asked.

"They are scattered in every direction and think only of flight,"
Ptolemy replied.

"That is well," Alexander said.  "We shall be the better able to deal
with the others when they come.  Who are these that you have brought to
me?"

He turned toward the two young men, who had been standing at a little
distance, and looked them frankly in the eyes.

"This is Clearchus, an Athenian, and this, Leonidas of Sparta," Ptolemy
replied, presenting them in turn.

Alexander's face clouded at the names of the two most powerful of the
states that opposed him in Greece, and Ptolemy hastened to add: "They
saved my life when my horse stumbled in the pursuit, and they have a
request to make of you."

"You have done me a great service," Alexander said kindly.  "What is it
that you desire?"

"We ask clemency for the family of Jason, on behalf of Chares, his son,
whom we left behind in Athens," Clearchus replied.

"And why is he not in Thebes?" Alexander asked quickly.

"Because he did not know that you were coming," Clearchus said.  "Had
he been aware of the danger, he would not have been absent.  We heard
of your arrival while we were in Delphi, and we made all haste to
remind you that Jason was a guest-friend of your father, Philip."

"Orders have been given that the guest-friends of Macedon shall be
spared, both in their lives and their property," Alexander replied.
"What did you in Delphi?"

Clearchus told him briefly how Artemisia had been stolen and of the
response of the oracle.

"Love must be a strong passion," the young king said thoughtfully.

"I would give all that I possess to recover Artemisia," Clearchus
replied.  "Nor would I be willing to exchange my hope of finding her
for the wisdom of Aristotle or even for the hopes of Alexander."

"So you know Aristotle," Alexander said.  "He is a wonderful man.  Were
I not Alexander, I would envy him." He looked curiously at Clearchus as
he spoke, as though he were considering something that he did not
understand.  "So that is what they call love," he continued, "and I and
my army are the Whirlwind of which the God spoke."  He beckoned to an
attendant.  "Call Aristander!" he said.

He made Clearchus repeat his story to the famous soothsayer.
Aristander listened attentively, stroking his chin with the tips of his
fingers as his custom was.

"What do you think of it?" Alexander asked, when Clearchus had
finished.  Everybody knew the confidence that he placed in the words of
the prophet and that he never took an important step against his advice.

"Full credit must be given to the oracle," Aristander said, turning his
blue eyes upon the young king, "and I think that the priests of the
temple were right in their interpretation, since the message brought
and the title given could have had no other meaning.  As the maid was
carried away by sea, she was probably taken to some island or to one of
the cities on the coast of Asia.  The Whirlwind's track must needs lead
thither, and since the maid is to be set free, it is clear that the
Whirlwind shall prevail."

"Then the oracle is propitious!" Alexander exclaimed.  "What is your
plan?" he added to Clearchus.

"I shall obey the oracle and follow in thy track," the Athenian
replied.  "If thou wilt permit me, I myself will become a part of the
Whirlwind."

Alexander looked at him with the unquenchable fire of enthusiasm in his
eyes.

"Thou art welcome!" he said.  "And you, my friend of stubborn Sparta?"
he continued to Leonidas.

"I go with Clearchus," the Spartan responded briefly.

"You shall be of my Companions," Alexander cried, placing his hand upon
a shoulder of each.  "The world grows old and we have been wasting our
strength in foolish quarrels with each other while the tiger has been
lying there across the water, waiting to devour us.  We shall show him
that the spirit of Hellas still lives, although Troy has fallen, and we
will do deeds that shall be sung by some new Homer as worthy too of a
place beside those of Achilles and Ajax and Agamemnon.  Yes, and we
will bring back a fleece more precious than that which the Argonauts
sought.  I promise you that the Whirlwind's track shall be long enough
and broad enough to lead you to your heart's desire, whatever it may
be.  Ptolemy, I count these men among my friends and I give them into
your charge."

Clearchus and Leonidas felt their hearts swell at the young king's
words and his lofty generosity, but before they could thank him, they
were interrupted by a commotion at the door.

"Out of the way!  I will see him!  I care not how late it is," an angry
voice exclaimed.

"It is Chares, son of Jason," Clearchus said.  "How comes he here?"

Alexander quietly signed to the guard, and the Theban strode into the
room, clad in armor that clashed noisily as he walked.  He looked
neither to the right nor left, but went straight to Alexander.

"I am come to remind the King of Macedon of the ties of hospitality,"
he said boldly, in a voice more fitted to a demand than a petition.

Alexander measured his great stature with admiration in his glance,
noting that the armor, gold-inlaid, was crusted with mud and grime like
his own.

"Thy name might be Hector," he said.

The Theban, ignorant of the young king's train of thought and of what
had gone before, imagined that he saw mockery in this remark.  His face
flushed darkly.

"My name is Chares!" he said haughtily.  "Jason, my father, was the
friend of Epaminondas, who furnished thy father with the weapons that
thou hast used against us this day.  I come not to thee on my own
behalf, but on that of my mother and sisters, who were shut in here
when the attack came."

"You are too late!" the young king said composedly.

Chares staggered and his face blanched.  "Too late!" he exclaimed
hoarsely.  "Does Alexander, then, make war upon women?"

"I say you came too late," Alexander replied, "and doubly so; for your
friends, here, were more prompt than you, and yet even they were tardy."

"My friends!" Chares cried in bewilderment, seeing Leonidas and
Clearchus for the first time.

"Alexander speaks the truth," Clearchus said quickly.  "We are all too
late, because he had already given orders for the safety of your
family."

"I ask your forgiveness; I spoke without understanding," Chares said,
turning to the king.

"Thou hast courage," Alexander said with a smile, "but I would not
choose thee as my envoy on a delicate mission.  Thou wert not here to
defend thy home?"

"Because I knew not that there was need," Chares admitted.  "I am
sorry."

"And I am glad," the young king rejoined, "for hadst thou been inside
the walls, I fear I might have lost men whom I cannot spare.  Didst
thou come from Athens?"

"I left Athens with the army," Chares answered, "but it halted on the
frontier when news arrived that Thebes had fallen."

"Then there will be no more fighting!" Alexander exclaimed, turning to
Ptolemy.  "I am glad of it.  Greet thy mother for me, Chares, and tell
her to fear nothing.  Ptolemy will conduct you."

Escorted by the Macedonian captain, the three friends descended from
the citadel.  Order had been restored in the city as though by magic.
Only the military patrols and the bodies of the dead remained in the
streets.  The living had been driven into their houses, taking the
wounded with them.  The plunderers had retired to the camp outside the
walls.

Chares strode eagerly in advance, asking many questions regarding the
experiences of his friends in Delphi.  The house of Jason, a mansion
built near the northern end of the city, had been saved by its location
from the desperate fighting that had taken place about the southern
gate and in the market-place.  They found a guard stationed at the door.

"You see that the king is as good as his word," Ptolemy said.  "You
will find nothing disturbed here."

"How could he have remembered his friends in the heat of the attack?"
Chares asked.

"He forgets nothing," the captain replied, "neither friend nor enemy."

Chares urged the Macedonian to enter, but Ptolemy declined on the
ground of fatigue and left them.  The slave at the gate went wild with
joy when he caught sight of his young master.  He had been waiting in
momentary expectation of being summoned forth to the death that he was
convinced awaited everybody in the city.

Chares hastened to the women's court, where he found his mother and
sisters robed in white and surrounded by their maids, who were trying
to spin, although their fingers trembled so that they could hardly hold
the distaff.  The widow of Jason, a woman with silvery hair and a face
that was still beautiful, sat calmly in the midst of the group,
awaiting with quiet courage what might befall.  She rose with composure
to greet her son and his companions.

"You are safe, mother!" Chares exclaimed, clasping her in his arms.
"Alexander has given his word that you shall be unharmed!"

"You have seen him?" she returned.  "That is well.  You may go to your
rest.  Nothing shall harm you," she added, dismissing her maidens.



CHAPTER X

CHARES BARTERS HIS SWORD

What was to be the fate of Thebes?  The minds of the wretched
inhabitants of the city were diverted from their sorrows as they asked
each other this question on the morning after the battle.  The dead had
been removed from the streets.  The wounded had been cared for.  The
enemy had withdrawn outside the walls, after posting guards in
sufficient numbers to suppress any rising that the Thebans might be
desperate enough to attempt.

All eyes were directed toward the Cadmea, within whose gray walls the
punishment that was to be visited upon the city was being discussed.
One citizen suggested that a heavy fine would be exacted.  Another
declared he had heard that the Thebans would be forbidden to bear arms.
A dozen similar conjectures were made and canvassed before news came
from the Cadmea that Alexander had left the Phocians, the Platæans, and
the Bœotians, his allies, to impose the sentence.  This announcement
was received in gloomy silence; for more than one Theban recalled how
his city in her day of pride had blotted out Orchomenus and Platæa and
sold their people into bondage.

The anxious watchers in the streets at last saw a stir in the crowd
that waited outside the gates of the citadel.  The portals opened, and
the victorious generals, surrounded by waving standards, came out and
began to descend from the rock.  The spectators below saw the Thebans
scatter before them, tossing their arms above their heads and rending
their garments.  A hush full of dread fell upon the city.

"Thebes must perish!  Her walls must go down!" cried one from above
with a despairing gesture.

"We are to be sold for slaves!" shouted another, halting upon a parapet
and making a trumpet of his hands.

The tidings were received with incredulity, followed by stupefaction.
The blow had fallen, and it was worse than even the least sanguine
prophet had predicted.  The generals, as they rode toward the gates of
the city, were followed by men who fell on their knees and begged for
quarter.  No heed was paid to their prayers, and the escort of soldiers
thrust them back with jeers.

Alexander remained in the Cadmea, where Chares and a handful of the
most prominent Thebans, who had been able to establish guest-friendship
with the royal house of Macedon, sought him to intercede for the city.
They found him alone, sitting with his chin in his hand.  They recalled
to him the glorious deeds of Thebes, dwelt upon the misery that the
sentence would inflict upon the innocent, and warned him that all
Hellas would reproach him if he permitted it to be carried into effect.
They admitted the fault of the city and asked forgiveness.

The young king heard them through without stirring.

"All that you have said to me," he replied when they had finished, "I
have already said to myself.  Thebes has been false to her oath.  I
pardoned her as did Philip, my father.  The sentence is not mine, but
that of my allies, and what cause they have, you know.  Can I ask them
to forget?"

Terror ran with the news through all Greece.  The Athenians, the
Ætolians, and the Elæans, who had encouraged the rebellion with money
and promises of further aid, hastily recalled their troops and sent
ambassadors to sue for mercy.  Demosthenes was chosen to plead for
Athens, but when he had advanced on his journey as far as Mount
Cithæron, his courage failed him and he turned back.  The young king
sent a messenger to Athens calling upon the Athenians to deliver eight
of their orators who had been foremost in stirring up the people
against Macedon, and the name of Demosthenes stood at the head of the
list.

In the Assembly that was called to consider this demand Demosthenes won
the day by repeating the fable of how once the wolves asked the sheep
to deliver to them their watch-dogs and how, when the demand had been
granted, they fell upon the defenceless flock.  But so great was the
fear of Alexander among the people that they might, after all, have
sent the orators to Thebes had not the men who were threatened hired
Demades with a fee of five talents to offer himself as an intermediary.
The offer was accepted and Alexander yielded.

The escape of Demosthenes through the intercession of his inveterate
enemy and the mysterious disappearance of Thais were the talk of the
city when Chares arrived with his two friends, bringing his family with
him.  Clearchus received them into his house, where they were to remain
during his absence from Athens in search of Artemisia, following the
directions of the oracle.  Ariston was much disappointed when his
nephew refused to exact any rental from his friend.  He had taken
charge of Clearchus' fortune again, and it grieved him that any
possible source of income should be neglected.  But Clearchus knew that
Chares had need of all his resources; for his mother had drawn up a
list of the friends of the family who had been forced to remain in
Thebes, telling him that he must purchase them and thus save them from
slavery, even if it should take all they possessed in the world.  As
the list was long, Clearchus deemed it wise not only to place his house
at the disposal of Jason's widow, but to make provision for its
maintenance out of his own income while he should be away.

He paid no attention to the grumbling of his uncle, who affected to
look upon this generosity as little short of madness.  He said so much
to dissuade the young man from his plan, that Clearchus at last was
forced to remonstrate with him.

"One would think that you were on the brink of ruin," he said, "instead
of being one of the richest men in Athens, if reports that I have begun
to hear lately are true."

"Who says that?" Ariston demanded sharply.  "He lies, whoever repeats
such things.  Whenever you hear it, if you love me, say that it is not
true.  If such stories should get to be believed, that accursed
Demosthenes will be forcing me to fit out a trireme for some of his
wild schemes.  The times are so troubled that what little I have been
able to save by my frugality for the support of my age I am likely to
lose."

He was not unwilling to have his nephew believe that he was at least
moderately rich, for had Clearchus known the straits his uncle was in,
his suspicions might have been aroused.  With his mind full of the loss
of Artemisia, there was small chance that he would discover anything.

Like vultures upon a deserted field of battle the slave-dealers
gathered at the great market of flesh and blood at Thebes.  The sale of
the population of the city had been delayed so as to insure a good
attendance; for Alexander had need of the money that it was expected to
yield with which to defray the cost of his expedition against the Great
King.  Speculators, traffickers by wholesale, and agents from every
considerable mart in the world, to say nothing of amateurs, flocked to
the city.  It was not so much the fact that thirty thousand men and
women were to be offered and the consequent probability of low prices
that drew them as the quality of the victims.  It was easy enough to
purchase slaves in almost any number, but there was a vast difference
between ignorant barbarians, captured in distant raids, and the
population of one of the oldest and most cultured of the Grecian
cities.  And no comparison was to be made between girls who had been
destined to slavery from their cradles and the Theban maidens reared in
the shelter of luxury and ease.

It had been expected that it would take several days to dispose of the
prisoners, but so numerous were the buyers that the Macedonians decided
to attempt it in one day.  For greater convenience, the captives were
separated into companies of about five hundred and brought out upon the
plain before the city, where most of the dealers had pitched their
tents.  Each division was guarded by a squad of soldiers commanded by
an officer, whose duty it was to conduct the auction of the group under
his care.

No outcry was permitted among the hapless population.  Mothers clasped
their children in their arms, weeping softly over them.  Some awaited
their fate with sullen resignation.  Others looked for a prodigy to
restore them to freedom and their city.  A report had gone abroad that
Dionysus would appear in person and forbid the sale.  On all sides rose
the murmur of his name in tones of entreaty or reproach.  With anxious
eyes, the believers scanned the sky and the barren hillsides for some
sign, they knew not what.  None was vouchsafed.  Their God had deserted
them.

In order that the friends whom he was to ransom might not be lost in
the confusion, Chares had obtained consent that they be assembled in
one group.  They came last out of the city, clad in garments of
mourning and moving in heavy-footed procession.  Lest he should raise
false hopes, Chares had made a secret of his plans.  The prisoners
fully expected to pass into the possession of strangers.  Old men of
grave face and dignified bearing, who had spent their lives in the
service of the city and whose names were known throughout Greece, led
the way.  Behind them walked their women, proud of bearing and
accustomed to the privileges of rank and wealth.  Some of the matrons
led daughters who looked with terror upon the strange scenes that met
their eyes.  Orphaned children clung to each other in fear, while here
and there new-made widows, whose husbands had been slain when the
strength and vigor of the city were cut off in a day, walked sadly and
alone.

When all had been herded within the ring formed by the guard, the
Macedonian captain who was to conduct the sale of the group that
contained Chares' friends mounted briskly upon a block of stone and
announced the terms prescribed for buyers.  Payment was to be made in
all cases in cash, and the purchaser was to have immediate possession.
Chares took a position facing the auctioneer in a knot of dealers who
were searching for some fortunate speculation.  These men looked upon
the unhappy Thebans with professional keenness, exchanging comments
among themselves.

"That's a fine old fellow with the white beard," said one.  "He looks
as though he might have money out at interest somewhere."

"Probably he's only a philosopher," another said scornfully.  "For my
part, I shall buy that thin one.  He has been living on bread and water
all his life and he must have a snug sum buried.  Trust me to make him
dig it up!"

"There seem to be some marketable girls here," observed a third.  "I
find the Medes will pay a better price for them if they have a pedigree
as well as good looks."

Mena, the Egyptian, prying about through the crowd, examined the
captives with speculative eyes.  Suddenly he caught sight of a figure
that caused him to stop and stare.  It was that of a young woman,
veiled, who seemed to be seeking to conceal herself behind the other
prisoners.

"Who is she?" he asked of one of the guard when he had recovered from
his astonishment.

"She is down on our list as Maia, daughter of Thales," the man replied.

Mena seemed puzzled.  "I must find out more about this," he said to
himself, taking his stand at a point of vantage.  "Besides, there may
be a chance here to turn a profitable investment."

The chatter ceased as the captain opened a roll of papyrus containing
the names of the prisoners and announced that the sale was about to
begin.  The old man with the white beard was the first to be brought
forward.  He proved to have been one of the Bœotarchs.

"How much am I offered for him?" the captain cried.  "He is old, but
his wisdom is all the greater for that."

"Five drachmæ!" shouted a countryman in a patched and faded cloak.  "He
gave a decision against me once in a lawsuit."

Everybody laughed at this reason for making a bid, but the farmer
seemed in deadly earnest.

"Five minæ!" Chares said quietly.  There was no other bid and the sale
was made.

Then came a slender girl with yellow hair and blue eyes that were
swollen with weeping.  Her chiton of fine linen clung in graceful folds
to her slim figure, and she trembled so violently that she could
scarcely stand.

"She ought to fill out well if she lives," said one of the merchants,
stroking his beard, while he examined her carefully.  "But it's always
a risk to buy them so young."

"She might be trained to dance," said Mena, who had elbowed his way
into the crowd.  "It's worth trying if she goes cheap.  Fifty drachmæ!"

"Five minæ!" Chares said again.

"That's ten times what she is worth!" Mena exclaimed, turning angrily
upon the Theban.  "Are you trying to prevent honest men from making a
living?"

"Let honest men speak for themselves," Chares retorted.

The laugh that followed filled the Egyptian with rage.  He was cunning
enough to wait until Chares had made several more purchases, and at
prices far above the market value of the captives.  Mena guessed that
the Theban intended to outbid all who opposed him.  He resolved to be
revenged by making him pay dearly for his purchases.  It happened that
the next offering was a man whose name was not on Chares' list.  Out of
mere good nature he bid two hundred and fifty drachmæ for him.

"Five minæ!" the Egyptian shouted, doubling the bid with the intention
of forcing Chares to go higher.

But Chares was silent, and no other bidder appeared.  Mena, who did not
have the money that he had offered, shifted uneasily, looking at Chares.

"I see you have some sense," he cried at last.  "You are afraid to bid
against me!"

Chares made no reply.

"He is yours," the auctioneer said, addressing Mena.  "Step this way
with your money!"

"Wait!" screamed the Egyptian.  "I withdraw the bid!  The man is lame!"

"Do you mean to accuse me of trying to cheat you?" roared the
Macedonian captain.

"Perhaps you didn't notice it," the Egyptian faltered.

"Away with him!" cried the soldier.

While the prisoner was being awarded to Chares, two men led Mena out of
the circle, amid the jeers of the spectators.  At a safe distance,
under pretence of seeing whether he really had the money he had
offered, they took from him all that he possessed and divided it
between themselves before they let him go.

"I'll make him sorry for this!" Mena said, shaking his fist at Chares.
"I know what I know; but why do they call her Maia?"

Burning with rage, the Egyptian slunk away in search of his master,
Phradates, whom he found wandering idly among the scattered groups of
captives.

"Oh, Phradates, thou hast been insulted!" Mena cried, breathlessly.

"How so, dog?" Phradates demanded, his face darkening as he spoke.

The Phœnician's figure was tall and well knit, although the
profusion of jewels and golden chains that he wore, and his garments of
rich silk, woven with gold thread, gave him an effeminate look.  His
face might have been handsome had it not been marred by an expression
of haughty insolence which betrayed the weakness upon which Mena
intended to play.

He had been sent into Greece by Azemilcus and the Tyrian Council in the
guise of a rich young man on his travels, but with the real object of
discovering the plans and strength of Alexander.  Tyre was nominally
tributary to the Great King, but the only sign of her dependence was
the payment of a small annual tribute.  In all matters of moment she
managed her own affairs.  It was important, therefore, for her rulers
to have exact knowledge of what was going forward in Greece, so that
they might shape their course as seemed best for their own advantage.

Mena noted the flush on his master's cheek and foresaw the success of
his scheme of revenge.

"It occurred to my poor mind," he explained volubly, "that your
Highness would be pleased with a slave from this city of rats, which,
nevertheless, contains some charming maidens.  I learned that they had
assembled all the prisoners of gentle birth in one place together.  I
went there and examined them for you.  Among them I found a girl of
rare beauty and when I asked concerning her, they told me she was Maia,
daughter of Thales, one of the chief men in the city.  Such a form as
she has!--with hair like copper and a glance that would--"

"Will you never finish?" Phradates asked angrily.

"I chose her for your Highness and gave command that she be reserved
until I could find you to claim her," Mena continued.  "But it seems a
Theban, whom they call Chares, had resolved to buy her for himself.  I
told him that I had spoken for the girl in your name.  'Let the Tyrian
hound go back to his dye-vats,' he said.  'The girl is mine and he
shall not have her while I have an obol left!'  He said much more
against the people of Tyre and yourself in particular that I will not
offend your Highness by repeating.  I am sorry that I lost the girl,
for there is no other like her among the captives."

"Where is she?" Phradates demanded abruptly.

"If your Highness will deign to follow, I will conduct you to her,"
Mena replied with alacrity.

"Lead on!" Phradates commanded.  "And then fetch quickly the gold we
borrowed from the old Athenian."

Chares had purchased all the prisoners on his list excepting the girl
called Maia, and the soldiers were leading her forward when Mena and
Phradates arrived.  The young woman's face and head were muffled in a
silken scarf, and her figure was concealed beneath a cloak.

"Give place!" cried Mena, bustling officiously into the crowd.  "Make
way for the noble Phradates!"

One of the soldiers raised the scarf long enough for the Phœnician
to see the young woman's face.  Her beauty evidently made a deep
impression upon him, for his expression changed and he seemed hardly
able to take his eyes from her.

"Where is this Chares?" he inquired, at last, staring about him.

Mena indicated the Theban with a nod, and then, noticing that all eyes
were turned upon his master, he bawled out: "Make room for Phradates of
the royal blood of Tyre!"

"Do you want to sell him?" asked the auctioneer.

The Phœnician's face became purple and he turned angrily upon Mena,
but the alert Egyptian had slipped away to fetch the gold.

"Three talents for the girl!" Phradates cried.

"Five talents!" Chares answered.

The spectators, who had long ago ceased to think of bidding against the
Theban, drew a deep breath and looked from one contestant to the other.
Maia alone seemed indifferent.  A tress of her hair had fallen upon her
shoulder.  She twisted it back into place.  Chares had not seen her
face when the soldier lifted her veil and his attention was now centred
upon his opponent.

"Seven talents!" Phradates shouted, fixing his eyes defiantly upon
Chares.

"Eight!" the Theban answered, without hesitation.

This was more than all the other captives in the group had brought.
The crowd began to hum with excitement.  Phradates looked over his
shoulder and saw Mena leading four slaves who carried bags of gold.

"Ten talents!" he cried.

"All bids must be paid in cash," the auctioneer said warningly.

Every face was turned toward Chares, who had called his steward and was
consulting with him.  "How much have we left?" the Theban asked.  The
man made a rapid calculation on his tablets.

"You have ten talents and thirty minæ," he replied.  "That is the end."

"I bid ten talents and thirty minæ," Chares said promptly, addressing
the auctioneer.

It was evident to all that he could go no further.  Would Phradates be
able to outbid him?  The Phœnician hesitated and turned to Mena.

"He has won," the slave whispered.  "You have only ten talents.  If you
had beaten him, we should have starved to death."

"Then we will starve!" Phradates replied.  "I demand that the gold be
weighed!"

"You have that right," the auctioneer admitted.  "Bring out the scales."

The scales were brought and the gold was poured into the broad pans
which hung suspended from their framework of wood.  The glittering
heaps increased until each pan overflowed with the precious coins and
ingots.  When all was in readiness for the test, they held a fortune
such as few men in all Greece possessed.  The spectators devoured it
with their eyes, pressing against the soldiers in the hope of getting a
better view.  The maiden, Maia, who was the object of the rivalry, was
forgotten.

The scales oscillated slowly and at last settled deliberately on the
side toward Chares.  The tale was correct and his last thirty minæ had
given him the victory.  The crowd broke into a cheer.

"Are you satisfied?" asked the Macedonian captain.

"No!" Phradates shouted.  A red spot glowed on his cheeks and his
fingers trembled as he stripped off his rings and his chains of gold.
He placed the ornaments on his side of the scales.  "I bid thirteen
talents," he declared.

"Payments are to be made in money," Chares remonstrated.  "Who can tell
what these trinkets are worth?"

"We may accept them at a true valuation," the captain decided.

He summoned a jeweller of Corinth, who examined the rings with care,
and announced his readiness to take them at a sum sufficient to make up
the total of the Phœnician's offer.

"Phradates wins!" shouted the spectators, cheering the Tyrian with all
the enthusiasm that they had shown to his rival a moment before.

The Theban stood silent.  He had nothing more to offer.  He raged
inwardly at his defeat, for he felt that his honor was involved.  While
he stood hesitating, nobody seemed to notice a young Macedonian soldier
of athletic figure and fresh complexion who had stopped on the
outskirts of the crowd and stood listening, with his head slightly
inclined to one side.

Suddenly Chares strode forward and threw his sword upon the scales.
The weight of the steel caused the balance to sway decisively toward
him.

"I bid fifteen talents!" he cried.  "Let my sword make up the weight of
gold that is lacking."

Phradates laughed mockingly.  "Let me have the girl," he said.  "It is
time to end this child's play.  There is no place in the world where a
sword is worth three talents."

"Except here," a voice behind him said quietly.

Phradates turned, and his eyes met those of the soldier who had been
lingering on the edge of the ring of spectators.

"Here!" the Phœnician exclaimed angrily.  "And who is there here to
give such a price for it?"

"I will," the soldier replied with a smile.

"You will, indeed!" Phradates echoed.  "And who are you?"

"My name is Alexander," the soldier said.

Phradates turned to the crowd, which had fallen back a little and now
stood strangely silent.

"Who is this insolent fellow?" he cried.  "Why do you allow him to
interfere here?" he demanded of the captain.

The captain made no reply, and nobody in the throng ventured to answer.
Phradates felt deserted.  He stood with Chares and the soldier beside
the gold-laden scales, beyond which waited Maia, with her eyes fixed
upon the face of the newcomer.

"Is there no fair dealing in this land of thieves?" Phradates cried,
losing his temper absolutely.  "The girl is mine!  Deliver her to me in
accordance with your agreement and let me go.  You have your price and
it is enough!"

He made a step forward as though to seize Maia, but the soldier blocked
his path.

"I am Alexander, as I told you," he said, slightly raising his voice.
"I will tell you more.  You are Phradates of Tyre, sent here by your
king and your Council to spy out my strength and learn my plans.  You
have used the eyes and ears of your slaves.  Take what you have learned
to King Azemilcus, and with it take also this message: Alexander, King
of Macedon, sends word that he is coming with his companions to offer
sacrifice to Heracles in his temple, known in the city of Tyre as the
temple of Melkarth.  Let him prepare the altar."

Phradates read in the faces of the crowd that the youth who spoke so
confidently to him was indeed the king.  Nevertheless, he could not
wholly stifle his rage.

"Has your army wings, Macedonian?" he asked insolently.  "The walls of
Tyre are both high and strong."

"What is the fate of spies in your country?" Alexander replied.  "You
are spared to bear my message.  Must I choose another?"

There was something in the tone of these words that brought Phradates
to his senses like a plunge into cold water.

"We shall meet elsewhere," he said, casting a look of hatred at Chares,
who stood smiling at his discomfiture.

"If we do not, I shall never cease to regret it," the Theban replied.

Mena had been hurriedly putting his master's gold into the sacks in
which he had brought it.  The waiting slaves took it up and followed
Phradates back to his tent.

"What was it all about?" Alexander asked, glancing from Chares to Maia.

"I wished to buy her as a present to my mother, as I have bought nearly
five hundred of our friends to-day," Chares replied.

Alexander took up the sword from the scales and drew it from its sheath.

"It is a good blade," he said, "and I would not deem its price too high
if your arm was to wield it in my cause."

"Was not that included in the purchase?" Chares asked, surprised.  "I
have made my bargain and I will live up to it."

"No," said Alexander, gently, "I will not have such an arm at a price.
I am no Cyrus to attack the power of Persia with hired weapons.  The
spirit and the hope that goes with us are not to be bought with gold.
Come to me at Pella, if you will, with Clearchus and the Spartan, as
soon as your affairs will permit.  But if you come, let it be of your
free will and not in payment of a debt."

"I will come," Chares said simply.

Day was drawing to a close over the plain where the people of Thebes
had paid the final penalty for their rebellion.  The multitude that had
assembled to witness the last scene was melting away.  Some of the
unfortunates had found friends like Chares to rescue them; but the
greater part of the thousands who were sold that day had become the
property of strangers.  On every side rose the sound of wailing and
lamentation.  Wives clung sobbing to their husbands until torn from
them by their masters.  Children wept for mothers they would see no
more.

In the gathering twilight camp-fires began to glow.  Slave-dealers
bargained and chaffered over their purchases.  Melancholy processions
moved away into the darkness.  Men fettered together gazed back
silently but with bursting hearts upon the dark mass of the Cadmea,
where it rose, black and huge, against the crimson sky.  The air
reverberated with the crash of falling houses and walls as the soldiers
labored by the light of torches to level the city to the earth.  A pall
of dust and smoke hung suspended above them.  Thebes had become a
memory.

The captives purchased by Chares had been led away by his attendants as
fast as each sale was made.  When Alexander and the Macedonian soldiers
moved off he was left alone with Maia.  He had scarcely glanced at her
during his duel with Phradates.  She stood before him now with bent
head, submissively, and he fancied that she was drooping from weariness.

"Come," he said kindly, extending his hand toward her.

The girl did not move, but as he approached she raised the scarf that
hid her face and her eyes met his.

"Thais!" he exclaimed.  "How did you get here?  Where is Maia?"

There was a tone of displeasure in his voice, and the smile faded from
the young woman's lips.

"Maia is safe enough," she returned, raising her head proudly.

"But where is she?" he persisted.

She hesitated and her eyes fell.  A warm flush mounted to her cheeks.

"I bought her place," she murmured, "and you have bought me."

The Theban stared a moment in bewilderment, but as her meaning dawned
upon him he threw back his head and laughed, a little recklessly.
Thais bit her lip and then suddenly burst into tears.



CHAPTER XI

THAIS

Chares sat in the house of Thais in Athens, idly watching the lithe
motions of the tame leopard as it worried an ivory ball.  Its mistress
lay at full length on a low couch of sandalwood looking at the Theban
with eyes half closed.

"What are you going to do with me?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" he replied.

"Am I not your slave?" she said softly.  "Have you not ruined yourself
to buy me?"

"That is true," he said, stroking his chin and examining her
reflectively.  "You are my most costly possession!"

"Well?" she insisted.

"And I shall not be here to guard you," he continued.  "Who knows what
may happen?"

She drew through her slender fingers the silken fringe of the crimson
shawl that was twisted about her waist.

"You have not asked me why I went to Thebes," she said at last.

"No," he replied, looking at her inquiringly.

"I wanted to see Maia," she said, looking at him innocently.  "I had
heard so much of her beauty."

"Oh," he said, smiling.  "What did you think of her?"

"I did not see her," Thais replied.  "Is she beautiful?"

"Let me see," Chares said, studying the walls as though in an effort to
remember.  "She has black hair and her eyes too are dark, I think.  Her
forehead is low and broad and her nose is straight.  Perhaps her mouth
might be thought a little too wide, but her chin is beautifully rounded
and her shoulders and neck are perfect.  Yes, I think she might be
called beautiful."

"Chares," Thais said timidly, "do you love her?"

Chares laughed.  "How can a man make love without an obol that he can
call his own?" he replied.

"Are you wholly ruined, then?" she asked.

"I haven't enough left to buy you a singing thrush," he replied gayly.

"But you have me and all that is mine," she said softly.

"Not even you!" he answered.  He drew a scroll from the folds of his
chiton and tossed it into her lap.  She opened it slowly and read a
release legally executed, giving her back her freedom and placing her
in the enjoyment of all her possessions.  Chares watched her with an
expectant smile as her eyes followed the written lines.  When she had
ended, she raised herself on her elbow and gazed earnestly at him for a
moment with dilated eyes.  Then, without a word, she buried her face in
the cushions and her form was shaken with sobs.  As the scroll fell
from her hand the leopard pounced upon it and began tearing it with his
teeth.

"What is the matter with you, Thais?" Chares asked in a tone of
displeasure.

"Why did you buy me?" she replied, without lifting her head.

"To save you from falling into the hands of the Phœnician, of
course," he replied impatiently.

"Then I wish you had not done it," she sobbed.

"Listen to reason, Thais!" Chares said in a graver tone.  "It is I who
am no longer free.  I have sold my sword and I am in bonds to the
Macedonian."

He paused, but she made no answer, although her weeping ceased.

"Were it not so," he continued, "why should I stay here?  This is not
my city and these are not my people.  I have neither, now that Thebes
is no more.  Clearchus and Leonidas are going with Alexander, as I have
told you.  Would you have me lag behind?  There will be fighting and
danger, glory and spoil.  Shall I not share them?"

"You may be killed," Thais said faintly, showing her tear-stained face.

"Zeus grant that it be not until I have met Phradates on the field of
battle!" he exclaimed.

"Is there nothing, then, that you care for in Athens?" she asked
dolefully.

"Thou knowest well that I love thee, Thais," he replied.  "Thou knowest
that it will tear my heart to leave thee behind.  But it is the Gods
who have decided for us and we have no choice.  Were there no other
reason for my going, Clearchus will have need of me in his search for
Artemisia, and that would be enough to forbid my remaining here."

"Then I will go, too!" Thais cried, leaping from the couch and standing
defiantly before him.

Chares returned her look with an indulgent smile.  Her exquisitely
moulded form was outlined under the clinging folds of her garment.  Her
tiny feet, with their pink little heels, looked as though they had
never rested upon the earth.  Her hair fell about her rounded neck and
dimpled shoulders like spun copper.  Her red lips and pearly teeth
seemed made to feast on dainties.  Physically she was as sensitive and
delicate as a child; but her eyes shone with a fire that betrayed
indomitable spirit.

"What will you do when it snows?" the Theban asked mockingly.

She threw herself down on her knees on the floor beside him, taking his
hand in hers and pressing it against her glowing cheek.

"Chares!  Chares!  My master!  I love thee!" she murmured.  "The blind
God at whose power I laughed so often when I was in his mother's
service has stricken me through the heart.  My soul is naked before
thee.  I cannot have thee leave me.  If thou dost, I shall die.  I will
go to the ends of the earth with thee.  I will suffer hardships to be
near thee.  Thou art all I have.  I am thy slave, and I do not wish to
be free."

Chares felt her tears upon his hand.  He lifted her face and kissed her.

Suddenly she sprang to her feet and began to pace backward and forward
on the many-colored carpet that was spread upon the floor.  The leopard
stopped tearing at the parchment and followed her with his eyes.

"Is it my fault that I am--what I am?" she cried.  "Am I to blame
because my life has not been like that of other women?  They are
shielded from the world and ignorant of what is good and what is bad.
Have I committed a fault in fulfilling the will of the Gods, from whom
there is no escape?  For the evil done by others must I pay the
penalty?"

"Of course not," Chares said consolingly, scarcely knowing what she
meant or how to answer her.  Her passion took him by surprise.  She
stood before him glowing in every limb with youth and beauty, her chin
raised and her lips parted in scorn, as though defying the world to
accuse her.

"Who cast me adrift?" she went on vehemently.  "You talk of going into
Asia to aid Clearchus in his search for Artemisia.  Very well, I will
go with you and search too, for I also wish to find Artemisia.  She is
my sister!"

"What do you mean, Thais?  Are you mad?" Chares exclaimed.

"It is the truth," she replied.  "I forced old Eunomus to tell me only
last night.  He has the proofs and he has promised to deliver them to
me, for a certain sum, of course.  I am the daughter of Theorus, who
caused me to be exposed because I was a girl.  The old pander found me,
as he has found many another in his time, and--and--he made of me what
you see me."

She threw herself once more upon the couch to ease her grief among the
crimson cushions.  Chares knew not what to say.  He distrusted the
story told by Eunomus, for he knew the wretch was capable of doing
anything for money.  But, after all, what if the tale were true?  He
was fond of Thais, of course.  How could a man help being fond of a
young and beautiful woman who loved him?  There was Aspasia, who had
ruled Athens and all Hellas through Pericles.  There was the son of
Phocion, who had actually married a girl no better than Thais.  Still,
what had been could not be changed; and even if Thais was the daughter
of Theorus, that fact could make no difference.

Thais raised her head from the pillows as though she had read his
thoughts.  Her eyes were softened with tears.

"Is it my fault," she pleaded, "that my sister has the love of an
honorable man and will be married to him, while I--I can never hope for
such a marriage?  I know it, Chares, and I do not ask it.  All I ask is
that you will permit me to go with you.  I am tired, since I knew you,
of my life here.  Without meaning to do so, you have opened my eyes to
new things.  I am what I am; but, in spite of all, I am still a
woman--more a woman perhaps, than Artemisia, my sister, whom I have
never seen.  Let me go with you, Chares, to share your dangers and your
glory, to nurse you if you are wounded, and to stand beside your
funeral pyre and watch my heart turn to ashes if you are killed.  I
cannot bear to be left behind.  The weariness and the waiting would
surely kill me.  Let me go with thee, my Life, for I think neither of
us will see Athens again."

Chares felt deep pity for the unfortunate girl stir in his heart.  The
strength of his emotion troubled his careless nature.

"There, there," he said, anxious to pacify her.  "Don't make gloomy
predictions.  You shall come."

She nestled into his arms and laid her head upon his shoulder.

"I shall never know greater happiness," she said, with a sigh of
content; and then, changing her tone, "They say the women of the Medes
are very beautiful.  You will not make me jealous, will you, Chares?"

He laughed and kissed her, looking into her eyes.  "Small need have you
to fear the Medean women!" he said.



CHAPTER XII

MENA READS A LETTER

"They have gone," said Ariston, on his return home one evening.

"Who have gone?" his wife inquired.

"Clearchus and his two friends, Chares and the Spartan," the old man
replied.  "They set out for Pella this afternoon to join the Macedonian
army.  Fortune has smiled upon us once more and I think there will be a
turn in our affairs."

Ariston made no attempt to hide his satisfaction.  His shoulders no
longer stooped, and his step was light.  A hundred schemes were running
through his head for repairing the disasters that had brought him so
low.  For all practical purposes he was again the richest man in
Athens, and with the gold at his command he imagined that it would be
easy for him to regain his feet.

"You must be cautious," Xanthe said anxiously.  "You know that at any
time Clearchus may demand an account."

"Yes, but he will not," Ariston replied, pinching her withered cheek.
"He will never return to trouble us.  I have news of what the Great
King is doing and unless the Gods themselves interfere to save
Alexander, he will be crushed as soon as he has crossed the Hellespont.
The Persians will meet him there in such numbers that there can be no
escape for him.  None who follow him will return.  By Hermes, I feel
almost young again!"

He entered his workroom briskly and sat down at the table.  Producing a
roll of papyrus, he broke the seal, slipped off the wrapping, and
spread the document out before him.

"Iphicrates to Ariston," he read.  "Greeting: I have obeyed your
instructions.  Syphax brought me the girl.  I dismissed him with
promises after she had told me that she had no complaint to make
against him.  I am convinced that he is a rogue and that he will live
to be crucified.  For Artemisia, she remains in my household.  I have
told her that I am awaiting a suitable opportunity to send her back to
Athens; but I have put her off from time to time with excuses.  She has
lost flesh since she came hither, and if she is to be sold, I think it
would be best not to delay too long, as her value will be less than if
she were offered now.  She has written many letters, which I promised
to forward for her.  One of these I send you with this; the others have
been destroyed.

"It is expensive for me to maintain her as you directed.  It has cost
me already one talent and twenty drachmæ, which leaves me in your debt
six talents, eleven drachmæ, and thirty minæ.  Please make this
correction in our account.

"There is talk here that Alexander, the Macedonian, is preparing to
lead an army against this city.  Nobody doubts that he will be
defeated, since Parmenio could accomplish nothing.  Memnon, the
Rhodian, has been here, strengthening the fortifications and exercising
the soldiers, but of this there is no need; for all the armies of
Greece could not take this place, even though they should invest it by
land and sea.  May the Gods keep you in good health!  Farewell."

"He has cheated me out of a talent, at least!" Ariston muttered.  "The
old skinflint!"

He turned his attention to a second roll of papyrus, which had been
enclosed in the first.

"My Beloved," it ran.  "Why hast thou not answered the letters I have
sent thee, or come thyself to take me home?  Clearchus, my Life, I know
thou hast not forgotten me, although it seems ages since I last saw
thee.  Each day I watch and wait for a word from thee, only one little
word, but none has come.  I try to keep up my courage, thinking that
perhaps thou art seeking me elsewhere and that thou hast not received
my letters.  I do not doubt thee, Clearchus, but I am weary of waiting
for thee and my heart is sick.  When shall I hear thy voice and see thy
face again?  I pray each night and morning to Artemis to give thee back
to me.  My love, my love, may the Gods, who know all things, keep thee
safe!  While I live, I am thine.  Farewell."

A smile played about the corners of Ariston's thin lips as he thrust
the papyrus into the flame of the lamp and held it over the brazier
until it was consumed.  He did the same with the epistle that
Iphicrates had sent to him, and then plunged into his accounts.

Xanthe had never been quick-witted, and the monotonous round of her
labors had dulled even her natural perceptions.  At the bottom of her
heart she believed her husband to be the cleverest man in the world.
She did not pretend to fathom his schemes.  The twistings and windings
of his subtle mind confused and bewildered her, and she had no thread
by which to trace the labyrinth.  While she had long ago ceased to try
to follow him, the fact that she did not know all that he was doing
tended to make her suspicious, and her distrust, as is usual with women
of limited intelligence, took the form of jealousy.

In their forty years of married life Ariston had never given her the
slightest cause for such an emotion.  Among his few weaknesses there
was none for women, whom he despised as mere machines or treated as
commodities.  But notwithstanding its lack of result, Xanthe, year
after year, maintained her vigil, ever seeking what she most dreaded to
find.

Of late her husband's cares and advancing age had given her a feeling
of security, but the revival of his spirits at the departure of his
nephew sent her mind back again to the well-worn track.  Could it be
that he was deceiving her after all?

This idea laid siege to her thoughts with recurrent insistence.  What
had she to attract so brilliant a man?  Her mirror showed her a
wrinkled brow and hollow cheeks.  She turned away from it with
bitterness in her heart.  The wonder was that he had ever loved her;
but that was years ago.  She could not blame him if he sought a younger
and fairer companion for his hours of relaxation.  Other men did the
same, and men were all alike.

Tormenting herself with these thoughts, the unfortunate woman passed a
sleepless night, and rose determined to know the worst.  As soon as
Ariston had gone out, she entered his workroom.  Her search brought her
at last to the brazier, where she found the charred fragments of the
letters from Halicarnassus.  Unluckily one corner of Artemisia's
missive to Clearchus had not been wholly burned.  She bore it in
triumph to her own apartments and set herself to the task of
deciphering its contents.  The very fact that her husband had sought to
burn the letter was enough in her excited frame of mind to convince her
that her suspicions were correct.  It remained only to establish the
proof.

She succeeded in making out a few words, but she could derive no
meaning from them.  Study them as she would, her skill failed her.  The
tantalizing thought that knowledge was within her grasp and eluding her
filled her with rage.  She was still puzzling over the fragment when
she was interrupted by a knocking at the door.  On the threshold stood
the sharp-faced Egyptian whom she had so often seen with her husband.

"Is Ariston here?" he demanded.

She told him that her husband was away from home.

"Then I will wait for him," Mena returned coolly, pushing past her into
the house.  "He told me to see him without fail and he will soon be
here."

There was no help for it now that he was inside the house.  Xanthe led
him to a bench beside the cistern and gave him fruit and wine.  The
thought occurred to her that he might be able to read the riddle that
had baffled her.  There could be no harm in showing him the fragment,
she reasoned, since it could tell him nothing, although to her it could
reveal so much.  The temptation was strong, and after all the
opportunity was too good to be lost.

"Can you read this for me?" she asked, placing the blackened papyrus
before him.

He took it up and studied it curiously.

"Where did you find it?" he demanded, shifting his beadlike eyes
quickly to hers.

"The wind blew it into the court, here," she stammered, taken aback by
the question.  "I wondered what it might be."

His glance continued to rest upon her face for an instant before it
went back to the fragment.  It was easy enough for him to read them
both, and a malicious smile twitched his mouth as he understood that
Ariston had a jealous wife.  The idea struck him as distinctly
ridiculous.  More in idleness than with any direct purpose, excepting
that of making mischief, he determined to humor her mood.

"It is difficult to understand," he said, looking carefully at the
papyrus, "as it seems to have been burned.  But here it says: 'When
shall I hear thy voice and see thy face?' and here: 'While I live, I am
thine.'  It sounds like a poet, but the writing is that of a woman.
You seem to have surprised some romantic love affair.  You probably
have some amorous youth among your neighbors whom a girl is foolish
enough to adore."

Xanthe's forebodings had suddenly become realities.  Ariston, then, was
deceiving her, and she had not been mistaken in him.  Of that, she was
now certain.  He had probably always deceived her and she had been a
fool ever to believe him.  Her world seemed coming to an end.

"Why do you say that the letter was sent to a young man?" she asked.
"Might it not have been an old one?"

"I dare say," the Egyptian replied carelessly.  "Old men are often the
worst in these matters."

"This girl, whoever she may be, seems very much in love with him,"
Xanthe remarked.

"No doubt," Mena said, watching her with increasing amusement, "and
probably he has a wife of his own.  Why else should he burn the letter?"

Xanthe winced at this thrust, although she had no idea that Mena had
fathomed what was in her mind.  "At any rate, he cannot marry her," she
said, as though thinking aloud.

"The old one might die, you know," Mena suggested.  "Such things have
been known to happen at the right moment."

These words were accompanied by a look so full of meaning that poor
Xanthe felt a chill of apprehension.  She did not trust herself to say
more, but carried away the fragment to her own room, where she
concealed it.

Mena's hint had fallen upon fertile ground.  She went over the
situation again and again in her mind, coming always to the same
conclusion.  That Ariston was carrying on an intrigue with some girl
was now certain; for it never occurred to her that the letter might not
have been intended for him.  It seemed certain to her also that her
husband would seek to rid himself of her so that he might marry her
rival.  Mena was right.  Such things had happened more than once and
poison was the easiest way.  If she should die, who was there to ask
what had caused her death?  Nobody.  She began to take infinite
precautions regarding her food, tasting nothing that she had not
herself prepared; yet she felt that she was in hourly danger in spite
of all she could do.  When nothing happened to her, she concluded that
her husband's failure to attempt her life was due solely to the fact
that his plans were not yet ripe.  When all was ready, he would kill
her and flee with Clearchus' fortune to some distant land, where he
could meet the abandoned creature upon whom his affections had fallen.
She knew only too well that he was capable of anything in the
furtherance of his selfish schemes.  Thus her folly led her on until at
last she came to regard her imaginings as truth confirmed.  But if she
was to be murdered, she thought, at least she would prevent him from
enjoying the fruit of his wickedness.  She would write to Clearchus and
tell him all.

When she had reached this conclusion, she lost no time in carrying it
into execution.  But it was long since she had used the stylus and she
was forced to confine herself to the barest outline of what she wished
to say.  After many failures, she finally produced the following:--

"Clearchus: Iphicrates has Artemisia in Halicamassus.  My husband is a
beast who wants to poison me.  If you hear that I am dead, you will
know why, and I hope you will see that he is punished.  Go to
Halicamassus, and when you get her, keep her safe.  Iphicrates is a
wicked man and he should be killed.  If my husband does not poison me,
make no accusation against him."

Xanthe sealed this letter and hid it away until a chance should offer
to send it to her nephew.  She felt much easier, as though the fact
that she had written it were in some way surety for her safety.
Several weeks passed before she found the opportunity for which she had
been looking.  At last she learned that Callias, son of a widow of her
acquaintance, had joined a mercenary troop that was being raised in
Athens.  She gave the letter to his mother to be delivered to Clearchus
in Pella, but Callias, having received part of his pay in advance,
could not tear himself away from his friends in Athens until the gold
was spent.  Consequently the letter was not delivered until after
Macedon and Persia had met at the Granicus.



CHAPTER XIII

THE UNQUENCHABLE FIRE

It was a clear, bright spring day when the three friends rode into
Pella.  The new sap was beginning to swell the buds, and the fresh
green of the grass was gleaming hopefully on sunny slopes.  Chares had
been singing snatches of love songs since early morning when they set
out on the last stage of their journey.  Even Clearchus forgot his
anxiety in the thought that he was drawing nearer to Artemisia, and the
grim Leonidas had smiled more than once at the sallies of the
light-hearted Theban.

In the Macedonian capital on every side was the stir of animation and
preparation.  Recruits were being drilled for the army.  Messengers
were hastening hither and thither.  Ambassadors were coming and going
with their trains.  They gazed with admiration at the solid buildings,
designed with a stately magnificence which, in its own way, was as
impressive as the marble embodiments of Athenian genius.  Everywhere
were the evidences of a young and strong people, buoyant,
self-confident, energetic, and fearless.  No idlers blocked the
streets.  Every man had something to do and was doing it.  The tide of
vigorous life flowed strong through the city as in the veins of a young
oak tree.

It was not strange that Pella should have swarmed with activity on that
day in spring.  Within the boundaries of the rugged little state, half
Hellenic and half barbarian, a vast project, supported by a sublime
confidence, was taking shape.  It had been formed and nursed by the
crafty and far-seeing Philip, whether as a possibility or as a stroke
of policy to bring Hellas under his control none could say.  Now it had
suddenly become a reality.  The great empire of Persia, which covered
the world from the shores of the Euxine to the sources of the Nile, and
from the Ægean to limits undefined, beyond the regions of mystery
through which the Indus flowed, was to be invaded.  It had endured for
centuries as an immense and impregnable power.  Fierce tribes dwelt in
the fastnesses of its snow-clad mountains, numberless caravans crept
across its scorching deserts, gigantic cities flourished upon its
fertile plains.  Nations were lost among the uncounted millions of its
population.  Its wealth surpassed the power of imagining, and about the
throne of the Great King, whose slightest wish was the unchangeable law
of all this vast dominion, stood tens of thousands of the bravest
warriors in the world, ready at a sign to lay down their lives for him.

What had Persia to fear from the handful of peasants turned soldiers
who had made a boy their king?  Why should Darius feel any uneasiness
concerning the projects of a rash young man who already owed more than
he could pay?  To be sure, he had made himself the Hegemon of Hellas,
with the exception of Sparta, but everybody knew that he had forced the
older states to bestow the title upon him against their will and that
they were waiting only until his back should be turned to fall upon
him.  With the slender resources at his command, how could he hope to
hold Greece in subjection and at the same time to subdue an empire
which had more Hellenic mercenaries alone upon its pay-roll than the
sum total of his entire army?  Surely, the Great King must be himself
despised if he did not look with contempt upon such mad ambition.

Something of the force of this reasoning assailed the mind of Clearchus
as he lay down that night on the hard pallet that had been assigned to
him by Ptolemy in the barracks of the Companion Cavalry.  The immensity
of the obstacles to be overcome oppressed him, and he began once more
to doubt whether, after all, there could be any hope of success for the
young king.  He fell asleep, to see in his dreams the pale face of
Artemisia framed in her unbound hair.

His mind was still clouded with misgiving when he went next morning
with Chares and Leonidas to pay his respects at the palace; but they
were dispelled like mists before the morning sun when he stood face to
face with Alexander.  In the inspiring presence of the young leader no
doubts could live.  He radiated confidence as a fire radiates warmth.
Every glance of his sympathetic eyes, every tone of his voice, revealed
a certainty of the future that was beyond peradventure.

The palace was the centre of the activity that was filling the city.
Generals and captains, agents, princes, hostages, ambassadors, and
messengers swarmed in its halls.  Here stood the gray-haired Antipater,
who had been appointed by Alexander regent of Macedon and guardian of
Greece during his absence, talking with citizens of Corinth who had
come to consult him concerning proposed changes in their civil
government.  There was old Parmenio, fresh from his campaign in Mysia,
giving his orders for the disposition of a company of mercenaries who
had arrived that morning.

There were travellers from the Far East, who had been summoned to tell
what they knew of the cities, rivers, and mountains through which the
Macedonian march would lie and of the character of the peoples who were
to be encountered.  There were contractors for horses and supplies
anxious to provide the army with subsistence.  There were soothsayers
and philosophers, slaves, attendants, and courtiers; and among them
all, with banter, jest, and laughter, walked the young nobles of
Macedon, bosom friends of the king, who had defied Philip for his sake
and were now reaping their reward.  There were Hephæstion, son of
Amyntas, Philotas, son of Parmenio, Clitus, Crateras, Polysperchon,
Demetrius, Ptolemy, and a score of others, in spirits as brave as their
attire, as though they were about to start upon a holiday excursion
instead of a desperate venture into the unknown.

Alexander recognized the three friends immediately and gave them
cordial greeting.

"So you have come to follow the Whirlwind," he said, laughing, as
though the simile pleased him.  "It will soon be launched now."

"We have come to take any service that you may give us," Chares replied.

"You are enrolled in the Companion Cavalry," Alexander informed them.

They gave him their thanks for this mark of favor, for the Companions
contained the flower of the kingdom, young men of distinguished
families, who were admitted freely into Alexander's confidence as his
friends.

"I have just been giving away the security for my debts," Alexander
said, smiling at Chares.  "I saw you spend your last obol to purchase
the liberty of your friends at Thebes.  You trusted to the chance of
war to bring your fortune back to you, but I have gone further than
you, for I have staked my honor.  As you see me, I am worth some
thirteen hundred talents less than nothing."

"But what have you left for yourself?" the Theban asked.

"My hopes," Alexander replied.

"They say the Medes have gold in plenty," Leonidas observed
reflectively.

"Never fear," Alexander replied, laughing.  "What are our debts of
to-day in comparison with our riches of to-morrow?  The Companions are
all following my example.  We set out with only our swords and our
courage--and our golden hope!"

Again he laughed, and calling Philotas to him he turned to Clearchus.

"The queen, my mother," he said, "has heard the story of Artemisia and
of what they told you at Delphi.  She desires to see you.  Philotas
will take you to her."

Philotas led the way through courts and colonnades to the women's wing
of the palace, where Olympias held sway.  As they went, Clearchus
recalled all he had heard of Alexander's mother--how it was averred
that a great serpent was her familiar, and the tales of her passionate
and revengeful nature that had caused her to order the babe of
Cleopatra, who had supplanted her in the affections of her husband, to
be torn from the arms of its mother and killed in her sight before she
herself was slain.  He had heard also of her devotion to religious
mysteries and especially of her skill in the secret rites of the
Egyptian magicians.

As they neared the queen's apartments, Clearchus was astonished to hear
a woman's voice raised in anger, followed by the sound of blows and
pitiful cries for mercy.  He paused in embarrassment, but Philotas drew
him on.

"Do not be disturbed," said his guide; "the queen is probably
chastising one of her slaves."

He ushered the young Athenian into a large room furnished with
luxurious magnificence.  Before them stood Olympias, with a rod of
ebony in her grasp, and at her feet upon the silken carpet crouched a
weeping girl with bare white shoulders, marked with red where the rod
had fallen.  The queen turned upon them with blazing anger in her great
black eyes and the wrathful color on her cheeks.

"Who enters here unbidden?" she demanded sternly, and then in a milder
tone she added: "Is it you, Philotas?  These girls will kill me yet
with their stupidity.  I wish I could drown them all in the sea!  Ah!"

She swung up the rod and brought it down upon a great vase of
Phœnician glass, which flew into a thousand fragments.  She laughed
and threw the rod from her.

"There, now I feel better!" she exclaimed, drawing a long breath.  "You
may go, Chloe.  Dry your eyes, child; you shall have your freedom.  Who
is this whom you have brought me, Philotas?"

"It is Clearchus, the Athenian, whom the king sends," Philotas answered.

"I remember," she said quickly, turning to Clearchus.  "You were robbed
of your sweetheart.  Do you love her very much?"

"I love her better than my life," Clearchus replied simply.

"Will you never grow weary of her and cast her off, as Philip did me?"
she persisted.

"If I find her, I will never willingly let her go out of my sight
again," the young man declared.

"But did not the Pythia tell you that you would find her if you
followed my son?" she inquired.

"The oracle instructed me to follow the Whirlwind," Clearchus said,

"Tell me about it," Olympias commanded, seating herself upon a couch.
She made him relate his experience with the oracle in the minutest
detail, asking many questions that indicated her lively curiosity.  She
then inquired of Artemisia's personal appearance, her age, and family.

"Wait here for me," she said finally, and left them alone in the room.

"She seems hardly older than Alexander," Clearchus remarked.

"Appearances are sometimes deceitful," Philotas replied dryly,
"especially when they are assisted by art."

The queen was absent for more than half an hour.  She seemed tired when
she returned.

"I have consulted the Gods," she said, "and you will find her if your
heart remains true and strong.  The priestess of Apollo told the truth."

"I thank you for giving me this consolation," Clearchus said eagerly,
hoping that she would tell him more; but she began pacing thoughtfully
backward and forward, with bent head, apparently forgetful of his
presence.

Suddenly she stopped before him and smiled, rather wistfully he
thought.  He almost fancied that there were tears under the fringe of
her dark lashes.  "Farewell," she said.  "May the Gods protect you--and
Alexander, my son."

She resumed her walk, and the young man left the apartment in silence.
Clearchus tried in vain to analyze the strange impression that she had
made upon him, but for many days her smile, half sad, and her
mysterious dark eyes, with the living spark in their depths, continued
to haunt him.



CHAPTER XIV

ACROSS THE HELLESPONT

Upon Bucephalus, whose proud spirit he alone had known how to tame,
Alexander led his army out of Pella.  The great charger tossed his head
and uttered a shrill neigh, which sounded like a trumpet-call of
defiance to the whole world, as he issued forth from the gate of the
city.  Many a Macedonian wife and mother, standing upon the walls,
dashed the tears from her eyes that day as her gaze followed the lines
of the troops, striving until the last to distinguish the form that
perhaps she would see no more.

The young king drew aside, with his captains about him, upon a low hill
a short distance from the city.  The sunlight flashed upon his gilded
armor and upon the double white plume that swept his shoulders.  With
swelling hearts, the men saluted him as they marched by, horse and
foot, squadron and company, thirty thousand in all.  The bronzed faces
of the veterans of Philip's wars lighted up as they heard his son call
one or another of them by name, and the countenances of the younger
soldiers flushed with pride and pleasure at his smile of approval.
Last came the baggage and provision trains and the great siege engines,
lumbering after the army on creaking wheels.

Alexander turned to Antipater and gave him his hand.  "I would that
thou, too, wert coming with us to share in our victories," he said.
"Remember, all our trust is in thee.  Be just and firm."

"I will remember," the old general replied, his stern face softening.
"Return when and how thou wilt; thou shalt find all as thou hast left
it to-day."

Alexander turned to go, but a cry of "The queen!" caused him to halt.
A chariot drawn by foaming horses drew up before him.  He sprang from
his horse and ran forward to receive Olympias in his arms.

"My son!  My son!" she cried, looking into his face with streaming eyes.

"Hush!" he said gently.  "Do not forget that you are the queen!"

"But I am still a woman and thy mother," she replied.  "How can I
suffer thee to leave me?"

"I will send for thee from Babylon," he said consolingly.

"Thou goest to victory and to glory," she said.  "Of that I have no
fear; but thy mother's heart is filled with sorrow!  Kiss me yet again!"

Alexander embraced her and led her back to the chariot.  He stood
looking after her with bared head, until, escorted by Antipater, she
disappeared in the city gate.  His heart went out to the jealous, fiery
woman's spirit, whose great love for him made her ever faultless in his
eyes.  Something told him, as it had told her, although neither had
confessed it, that they would never look upon each other again.

In another moment he was astride of Bucephalus and off after the army.
Clearchus, riding with Chares and Leonidas in their company of the
Companions, saw him dash past with a smile on his eager face.

Along the northern shore of the Ægean, and always within sight of its
blue waters, they marched for twenty days until they crossed the Melas
and came to the Hellespont, beyond which they could see the mountains
of Phrygia, with the snow-capped summit of Mount Ida towering above the
rest.  Before them, across the strait, lay the promised land.  Wheeling
south to Sestos, they met the fleet that had kept them company along
the coast.  There Alexander left Parmenio to take the army over to
Abydos, while he pushed on with the Companions to Elæus.

He himself steered the foremost of the ships that carried them across
the strait to Ilium.  In mid-channel they offered sacrifice to Poseidon
and the Nereids, and as they neared Cape Segeium the king hurled his
javelin upon the sand, and leaping into the water in full armor, dashed
forward to the Persian beach.  From every ship rose cries of emulation
as the Companions plunged in after him and strove with each other to
see which of them should first follow him to the shore.

Upon the battle-field where the terrible Achilles had raged among the
Trojans when the Greeks of olden time sought revenge for Helen's
immortal shame, the Companions celebrated with feasting and with games
the fame of the Homeric heroes.  These exercises, filling their minds
with thoughts of wondrous deeds, were a fitting prelude for the mighty
task that lay before them.

Through their camp the rumor ran from sources none could trace that
beyond the mountains lay the Persian host in countless numbers.
Arsites, Phrygia's satrap, and the cruel Spithridates, ruler of Lydia
and Ionia, were said to be in command.  Memnon of Rhodes, the story
went, was at the head of an Hellenic mercenary force more numerous than
Alexander's entire army.

No attempt was made to check the spread of these tidings.  If the
thought of possible defeat crossed the mind of any of the Companions,
he was careful not to give it utterance.  In their talk around their
camp-fires they assumed that the first battle was already won and their
plans ran forward into the heart of Persia.  What mattered it whether
the enemy was many or few?  Had not the Ten Thousand, whose exploits
Xenophon related, shown to the world that one Greek soldier was better
than a hundred barbarians?

But in the intervals of the celebration Alexander talked long with
Ptolemy.  The truth was, they knew not what preparations had been made
to receive them nor what force had been sent against them.  The scouts
who had gone out weeks in advance had either failed to return or could
not tell them what they wished to know.

Clearchus was sitting with Leonidas discussing Xenophon's account of
the death of Cyrus when a messenger brought them word that the king
desired to see them.  They followed at once to Alexander's tent, where
they found Chares awaiting them.

"You have heard the rumors of the enemy's advance," Alexander began.
"I wish to know how strong he is in both horse and foot, how many
Greeks he has with him, where they will fight in the line, and who are
the commanders.  To win this information will be the first service of
danger and difficulty in the campaign.  Which of you is willing to
undertake it?"

"I am!" cried the three young men with one voice.

"Why not send us all?" Clearchus said.  "Then if one of us falls, two
will remain, and if two are lost, the third may still be able to reach
you."

"Be it so," Alexander replied, smiling.  "We shall join the army at
once and march along the coast, as you see upon this map, to the
Granicus.  There I think you should be able to rejoin me and there I
shall look for you."

He rolled up the map and handed it to Leonidas.  "This may serve for
your guidance," he said.  "I shall place you under no instructions, for
I do not think you need them."

He rose and shook each of them by the hand.  "Farewell," he said, "and
be not rash, for I shall have need of you hereafter."

Some of the Macedonians cast envious eyes at them as they came out of
the pavilion.  Young Glycippus, who was in the same company with them,
joined them as they passed.

"What is going on?" he asked.

"The king wanted to ask me whether I thought Ajax or Achilles was the
better fighter," Chares answered gravely.

"What did you tell him?" Glycippus inquired.

"I told him that Ajax, in my opinion, was the better with the sword,"
the Theban said.  "He did not like it because, you know, he claims
descent from the son of Thetis."

"Yes," the young man said eagerly.  "And he has taken Achilles' armor
from the temple here, leaving his own in its place."

"He had it on while he was talking with us," Chares said.  "It fits him
well enough.  You know he has ordered Ilium to be rebuilt."

"Has he?" cried Glycippus.  "That is news," and he hurried off to tell
it.

"That, at least, has the merit of being true," Chares said.  "Ptolemy
told me while I was waiting for you."

"First of all we must choose a leader," Clearchus said when they were
alone in their tent.  "I vote for Leonidas."

"And so do I," Chares added heartily, clapping the Spartan on the back.

Leonidas protested, but his friends refused to give way, pointing out
that to him Alexander had given the map.  They persuaded him at last to
yield.

"My idea is that we shall go as peltasts and as though we were seeking
the Persian camp to take service under Memnon," he said.  "Get rid of
that gaudy armor of yours, Chares."

"What, must I part with my mail?" the Theban exclaimed, glancing down
at the glittering links that covered his broad breast.  He was
inordinately proud of this display.  "What shall I do with it?" he
asked dolefully.

"Throw it into the sea," Leonidas suggested in an uncompromising tone.

"Some rascal is sure to steal it if I leave it here," Chares grumbled,
as he divested himself of the armor.

At nightfall the three slipped out of the camp in the guise of
light-armed footmen, each with a round shield at his back, two javelins
in his hand, and a short sword at his side.  As soon as they were safe
from observation Leonidas struck out briskly for the northern slopes of
Mount Ida, and they quickly vanished into the darkness.



CHAPTER XV

THAIS AND ARTEMISIA

Through her window in the house of Iphicrates in Halicarnassus,
Artemisia could see the blue waters of the harbor and beyond them the
massive gray walls of the Royal Citadel.  For weeks she had watched the
merchant ships coming and going, bringing their freights from Tyre and
Egypt and even from beyond the Pillars of Heracles, and many times had
her eyes filled with tears at the thought that perhaps one or another
of them might be bound for the Piræus.  She imagined Clearchus
questioning the master and the sailors on their arrival at the port of
Athens, seeking to learn from them whether they had seen in their
wanderings the ship that had borne her away.

At times her sorrow was made more bitter by doubts that forced
themselves upon her mind in spite of her repeated resolve not to admit
them.  They whispered that Clearchus had given her up for lost and had
forgotten her.  Perhaps at first, they said, he had been eager in his
search; but when all his efforts were in vain and he could find no
trace of her, he had become gradually resigned to her loss, occupied as
he was with the cares of his estate.  Why else had he paid no heed to
her letters?

When such evil ideas tormented her, Artemisia could no longer endure
the sight of the glancing sails and the quivering waters of the harbor.
She hid her face in her hands and her embroidery slipped unheeded to
the floor.

But always she put the black thoughts from her and turned again to her
faith in her lover.  He was brave and true.  It could not be that he
had forgotten.  It must be that her letters had never reached him.
Then she pictured him wandering in distant lands in search of her, or
sailing from city to city in hope of finding the men who had taken her
away.  When in this mood, she would watch every sail as it emerged from
the misty distance in the belief that it might be bringing him to her
at last.  But as the days went by her cheeks lost their roundness and
shadows darkened beneath her eyes.  Her gaze grew more wistful and
unconsciously more hopeless as she looked out upon the harbor, and more
and more her hands lay idle in her lap.

Day after day her thoughts trod the same round.  "He will come to-day,"
she said to herself in the morning.  "Surely, to-day he is coming."
Her pulses quickened at every footfall, and she started at every
strange voice.  When twilight fell and he had not come she whispered to
herself: "He will come to-morrow!" but to-morrow faded into yesterday
and he came not.

Gradually her gentle spirit lost its courage and its hope under the
repeated buffets of disappointment.  She drooped like a flower whose
roots can find no water, and even her nightly prayer to Artemis, the
Virgin Goddess, failed at last to bring peace to her troubled mind.

One morning she was aroused from the lethargy into which she had fallen
by a change in the scene with which she had become so monotonously
familiar.  Instead of the usual merchant ships, the harbor was filled
with warlike vessels with brazen beaks and banks of oars on either
side.  The wharves were covered with soldiers in armor.  Hundreds of
men were unloading bales and boxes which were being carried to the
Acropolis, to the Citadel of Salmacis, or to the Royal Citadel.

The streets were filled with strange men, some of them wearing cloaks
of gay color, with plumed helmets, others in shining coats of mail,
with swords at their sides.  Throughout the city rose the hum of
activity and the bustle of preparation.  Artemisia, ignorant of the
invasion of Alexander, wondered what the reason could be.  She imagined
that the barbarians might be planning another attack upon Greece, and
she reflected that this might bring Clearchus into danger.  All her
thoughts and all her hopes centred in him.

In the midst of her conjectures some one knocked at her door.  She had
found it necessary to keep it fastened as a precaution against the
unexpected entrances of Iphicrates.  He came into the room with a smile
on his fat face, glancing furtively from side to side out of his
restless little eyes, which always reminded her of the eyes of a pig.
He sat down wheezing from the exertion of his climb.  His neck carried
a triple roll of fat at the back and his bullet head looked like a mere
knob affixed to the shapeless mass of his body.

Artemisia attributed to his unfortunate physical appearance the
nameless aversion that she felt for him, and she sought to overcome it,
for he had always been considerate of her.

"City is full of soldiers," he gasped, wiping his forehead.

"Is there to be war?" Artemisia asked.

"They say Alexander will try to cross the Hellespont," he replied,
attempting a shrug.

"And will he come here?" she inquired.

He caught the eagerness in her voice and his eyes grew cunning among
their wrinkles.  "Perhaps," he replied.  "Who can tell?  These Asiatic
dogs laugh at him, but they may find themselves mistaken.  We Greeks
know how to fight."

"Why are they sending their army here?" she persisted.

"It is Memnon of Rhodes," he told her.  "He is a great general, but the
Persians do not trust him.  He is on his way to the north with his
troops."

"Can you not send me back to Athens before the war begins?" Artemisia
pleaded.

"My dear child," he exclaimed with a gesture of despair, "it is
impossible.  All my plans have failed.  The war has already begun.  The
Persian fleet holds the sea, and if you attempted to leave now, you
would be captured and sold as a slave.  You know how I have tried to
grant your wish.  Only yesterday I thought that at last I had found the
vessel for which I had been looking, and I had hoped to earn your
gratitude.  But now--all is at an end while the war lasts.  If they
overthrow the Macedonians in the north, it will be short."

"I do not wish it," Artemisia said decisively.  "I prefer to remain
here.  I hope that Alexander will win, and when he comes, I shall be
free."

"You are free now," Iphicrates said reproachfully.  "You know that I
have kept you in seclusion only for your own safety and that I have
done all I could do to console you."

"Yes, yes; I know," she replied hastily.  "I have no complaint to make
against you.  You have tried to be kind."

"If the Macedonians should come after all, you may be able to repay
me," Iphicrates continued, reaching the real purpose of his visit.  "In
time of war men are likely to judge hastily, and it may be that old
Iphicrates will have to look to you for protection as you have looked
to him."

"What have you to fear?" Artemisia asked in surprise.  "And why do you
think that I may be able to protect you?"

"It is possible that some of your countrymen may be with the army," he
replied evasively.  "But they may not come here, even if they win in
the north."

He rose with some difficulty from his chair.  "Is there anything you
want?" he inquired.  "You know that if I can give it to you, you have
only to ask."

"There is nothing," Artemisia said, and the mockery of her answer
struck her to the heart.

Artemisia's mind was diverted for a time by the activity in the city,
which seemed at least to portend a change; but soon the novelty wore
off, and although the soldiers did not go away, she fell once more into
the listless mood against which she found it so difficult to struggle.

When she least expected it, the change came.  A disturbance arose in
the narrow street before the house which led up from the harbor.  There
was a medley of cries and shouting, and Artemisia, leaning from her
window, saw the street below her filled with a throng of men who had
met in conflicting currents at the turn of the way.  In the midst of
the press lay a litter, whose gilded frame was curtained with crimson
silk.  It had been overturned by collision with a chariot in which one
of the generals had been proceeding toward the harbor.  Beside the
litter Artemisia saw the form of a young woman.  Her robe was of
shimmering saffron, and her copper-colored hair, broken from its coil,
lay spread upon the pavement.

While she looked, the general, whose chariot had been the cause of the
mishap, descended and stood beside the prostrate figure.  Glancing
about him in evident embarrassment, his eyes met her own as she leaned
from the casement.  Brief as the meeting was, she felt the piercing
power and directness of his glance.  He turned quickly to his escort
and gave a brief command, motioning toward the house of Iphicrates as
he spoke.  As he resumed his place in his chariot, the soldiers lifted
the unconscious woman into the litter and bore it to the door of the
house, followed by a curious crowd.

Artemisia heard them enter and the sound of voices, among which she
recognized that of Iphicrates raised in whining protest.

"I have no room for her here," he cried.

"Then you will make room," was the rough reply.  "It is Memnon who
gives the order, do you understand?  He directed that the young woman
who lives here should care for her.  Where is she?"

"There is no young woman here," Iphicrates replied glibly.  "The
general must have been mistaken."

"Lying will not help you," the soldier replied.  "I saw her myself.
Call her quickly if you want to save your skin."

Artemisia did not wait to be summoned.  She descended the stairs and
went in among the soldiers.

"Carry her to the room above, and I will see that she is cared for,"
she said quietly.

The young captain to whom the execution of Memnon's order had been
entrusted looked at her with frank admiration.

"By Zeus!" he said, "I wish I had been run over myself.  Take her up,
litter and all," he added to his men, "and be quick about it."

With some difficulty the soldiers carried the litter with its burden up
the staircase.

"If he makes any trouble for you on account of this, report it to the
general," the captain said to Artemisia, indicating Iphicrates with a
nod.  "And tell her when she recovers," he continued, nodding toward
the litter, "that Memnon desired to express his regrets."

Without waiting for an answer, he wheeled and tramped down the stairs,
followed by his men.  Artemisia was already bending over the young
woman.  There was a bruise where the back of her head had struck the
pavement, but otherwise she seemed to have escaped unhurt.  Her
wonderfully thick hair had evidently broken the force of the blow.  She
recovered her senses at the first touch of the cold water with which
Artemisia bathed her temples.

"Where am I?" she asked, opening her eyes.

"You are safe and with friends," Artemisia assured her.

"Am I much hurt?" she asked, without attempting to move.

"I think not," Artemisia said.  "Your head is bruised."

"Is my face scarred?" was the next question.

"It is not even scratched," Artemisia replied, smiling.

The strange woman's lips parted in a responsive smile.  "Then it might
have been worse," she said.

With Artemisia's assistance she walked to a couch, where the young girl
made her comfortable with pillows.  Presently, under Artemisia's
ministrations, she fell asleep.  Artemisia sat watching her even
breathing and wondering who she could be.  A great ruby flamed upon her
finger, and heavy chains of gold encircled her white throat.  Her tiny
feet were shod with silken sandals and her yellow chiton disclosed the
rounded grace of her delicate limbs and the willowy suppleness of her
figure.  She must be some great lady, in spite of her youth, Artemisia
thought, innocently, and she felt drawn to her in a manner that she
hardly understood.  If only she would stay, she would be a friend in
whom confidence might be placed and whose sympathy would be a help.
But of course she would go away as soon as she was able to move.
Artemisia sighed in her loneliness.

When the stranger woke, however, she seemed in no hurry to go.  She
declared that the pain in her head had left her, and, turning lazily on
her side, she studied her surroundings.

"Whose house is this?" she asked.

"It belongs to Iphicrates," Artemisia said.

"To Iphicrates?" the strange woman replied with sudden interest and in
evident astonishment.  "And--are you his daughter?"

"No; I am of Athens; my name is Artemisia," the girl replied.

Her companion's head fell back among the pillows and her gaze rested
upon Artemisia's face.  So intent was the look that Artemisia grew
uncomfortable under it.

"Why do you look at me so strangely?" she asked at last.

"Pardon me," the other replied, letting her eyes fall.  "I have heard
of you."

"Then you, too, are of Athens?" the girl cried joyfully, throwing
herself on her knees beside the couch and taking the strange woman's
hand.  "You have heard of Clearchus?  Is he--living?"

"He is living, and he loves thee," the stranger replied, as though
reading what was in her mind.

A great gladness rushed through Artemisia's being.  An immeasurable
load was suddenly lifted from her heart.  She put her face down upon
the edge of the couch and wept for sheer gratitude.  The strange woman
said nothing, but her hand rested lightly on the soft brown hair, and
she stroked the bent head with gentle fingers.

The door opened without noise, and the bulk of Iphicrates advanced
gradually into the room.  As his cunning eyes took in the scene before
him an anxious look overspread his face.

"I came to see if you were better," he muttered, in a tone of apology.

The strange woman raised her body slightly on the couch and extended
her hand toward the door.

"Go!" she said briefly.

Iphicrates hesitated and cleared his throat, trying to meet the
scornful gaze directed upon him.  Finally he mustered up his courage
with an effort.

"This is my house," he said doggedly.

"Go," the stranger repeated in a tone of unutterable contempt.  "Must I
speak again?"

Iphicrates slowly turned and went, slinking from the room before the
blaze of her anger like a beaten hound.

"Why are you so hard upon him?" Artemisia asked.

"Because he deserves it," the stranger said.  "Has he not held you
captive here?"

"Who art thou who knowest so much of my affairs?" the girl demanded
suddenly.

"I am thy--"  The word "sister" trembled upon her tongue, but she
checked it.  "I am thy protectress," she said.  "Men call me Thais."

A blush rose to her cheek as she uttered the name and felt the clear
blue eyes of the young girl upon her own.

"Thais?" Artemisia repeated, searching in her memory.  "I have heard
the name in Athens, but I forget when and where.  I think they said you
were beautiful, and indeed you are."

"Is that all they said of me?" Thais returned.

"I think that is all; I do not remember more," Artemisia replied.

Thais felt relieved.  Her sister would learn soon enough who and what
she was.  She hoped that when the knowledge came Artemisia would love
her enough to grant her forgiveness.  She had broken with her old life.
Why drag it with her wherever she went?

"Why did you come here?" Artemisia continued.

"I came in search of you, and the Gods have given you to me," Thais
said.

Artemisia nestled beside her companion on the broad couch while Thais
told her of all that had happened in Athens since she had been carried
away by Syphax and his crew.  In her narration she omitted the feast in
the house of Clearchus and passed lightly over details that might have
given Artemisia a clew to her identity.  She described Clearchus'
despair at her loss and his vain effort to find some trace of her.  She
told how he had consulted the oracle and of her own adventure in Thebes
when Chares had given his fortune to save her from Phradates.  Then the
young men had joined the army and left her alone in Athens.

"Chares consented that I should meet him here," she went on.  "He said
that women would not be allowed to follow the army to its first battle.
It is there the greatest danger lies; for if they win there, they will
hold all the western provinces of the Persian empire."

"And if they lose?" Artemisia asked anxiously.

"If they lose," Thais replied slowly, "then we shall return to Athens.
But they will not.  The Gods are faithful to their promises.  I had
intended to wait until the battle had been fought, but Mena, the same
who set Phradates upon me in Thebes, found me out.  From him I
discovered that you were here in the care of Iphicrates, and I came."

Artemisia kissed her.  "I would have died if you had not come," she
said simply.  "But how did Mena know where I was?"

"He would not tell me and I did not wait to learn," Thais said.

"Will he not find out where you have gone and inform Phradates?" the
young girl suggested.  "Would it not be better to leave this house and
conceal ourselves somewhere?"

"I have thought of that," Thais replied.  "I cannot leave the city,
since I am to meet Chares here; and if we were to go to some other
house, Iphicrates would know where we were.  The Rhodian general sent
me here and Iphicrates fears me.  As for Phradates," Thais smiled
slightly, "we need not try to avoid him, for he loves me.  He is my
slave."

"Do you love Chares much?" Artemisia asked.

Thais threw her arms around her and crushed her in a fierce embrace.
"Love him!" she cried.  "To the last drop of my blood--in every fibre
of my body!  He is my God!  If I lay dead before him, my eyes would see
him, as they do now."

"I think you love him as much as I love Clearchus, only differently,"
Artemisia said.  "Does he love you?"

"As much as he can," Thais replied.  "There will always be more of the
boy than the man in him; but he loves me more than any other."

Thais rose and went to the litter, where, from its hiding place among
the cushions, she drew forth a bag of leather which she emptied upon
the couch.  Artemisia uttered a cry of delight.  Rubies, emeralds,
diamonds, sapphires, and gems of turquoise lay spread before her in a
glittering heap.

"There is our fortune," Thais said.  "We shall not want, at least for
the present."



CHAPTER XVI

IN THE CAMP OF THE MERCENARIES

Sometimes running and sometimes walking, Leonidas led Clearchus and
Chares all night through the foot-hills of Mount Ida.  It was not until
day was breaking and they were thoroughly exhausted that he halted at a
spot well advanced upon the northeastern slopes of the great mountain.
They found themselves at the bottom of a rocky ravine, shaded by
evergreens, through which trickled a shallow brook.

"Let us eat and sleep," Leonidas said, and in ten minutes they were
lying wrapped in their cloaks in the shelter of a thicket.

Leonidas was awake and had aroused his friends before noon.  Although
the country was wild and thinly settled, they pushed forward with
caution, fearing that they might stumble upon some Persian outpost.
For the same reason, they skirted the hillsides instead of keeping to
the valleys, where it would have been easier to advance, and the wisdom
of this precaution was made manifest before they had gone far.  The
keen eyes of Leonidas caught a drift of smoke above the tree-tops.
Advancing cautiously along a ridge, they found an abrupt declivity
which permitted them to look down upon a camp-fire about which were
gathered twenty or thirty men.

From the variety of their weapons and costumes, the Spartan judged them
to be shepherds and farmers who had been sent out by the Persian
commanders as scouts.  They were under the command of an officer who
wore a conical cap, linen trousers, and a flowing garment of yellow and
blue, with wide sleeves.  In his hand he carried a whip of rawhide, and
his only other weapon was a dagger which he wore at his waist.  The
party had evidently halted for its midday meal.

Seeing that the Persians did not suspect their presence, the three
spies crept behind a huge bowlder which had fallen from the face of the
cliff behind them and hung poised on a ledge above the camp.  They
hoped to learn something from the talk of the men around the fire, but
their conversation seemed to be carried on in a dialect with which they
were not familiar.  While Leonidas and Clearchus were watching, one on
either side of the rock, Chares, crouched behind it, began idly to
examine the mass of stone.  It was taller than the stature of a man and
shaped like a rough sphere.  Ferns grew from its crevices and around
its base, showing that it had hung there for years.  It was separated
from the cliff by a narrow passage, and its outer side overhung the
ledge upon which it had been caught.

Chares measured the great rock with his eye and then quietly stretched
himself down upon the ledge behind it, with his feet against the cliff
and his shoulders against the stone.  As he put forth his enormous
strength, slowly a crack appeared in the earth at the base of the
stone.  The delicate plumes of fern that grew from the moss on its
summit began to nod gently, although the air was still.  The crack
widened and there was a sound of the snapping of slender roots.
Clearchus and Leonidas, intent upon the scene below, noticed nothing.
Suddenly the great bowlder seemed to start forward of its own motion.
It hung balanced for an instant and then plunged from the ledge,
bounding down the steep hillside with long leaps, rending everything in
its path.

With shouts of alarm, the soldiers scattered in every direction, but
their leader tripped on the long skirt of his gaudy robe and fell face
downward beside the fire.  Before he could rise, the great stone was
upon him.  It rolled over his prostrate form and came to rest.

Leonidas turned to discover what had happened and saw Chares lying with
his head in the hole where the stone had been, shaking with laughter.
Without losing a moment, the Spartan dragged him to his feet and ran
swiftly back along the way they had come.  It was impossible to avoid
being seen.  There was a cry from below, and half a dozen arrows struck
against the cliff about them as they passed.  Luckily, they succeeded
in gaining shelter in safety.

The Spartan's face was pale with anger.  "If you had done that in my
country, nothing could save you!" he said to Chares.

"Why?  What have I done?" the Theban asked in surprise.

"You have endangered the safety of the whole army and run the risk of
bringing the expedition to failure," Leonidas answered hotly.  "I say
nothing of ourselves, but we have been seen, and what you have done to
no purpose may cost us our lives."

"That is true," the Theban said, filled with remorse.  "I didn't stop
to think."

"You made me leader," Leonidas continued bitterly.  "If I am to lead,
you must obey my orders.  If not, lead on yourself, and I will show you
how to obey."

Clearchus peered down into the ravine and saw the Persians gathered
about the motionless body of their chief, debating with many
gesticulations.

"They are not thinking of pursuit," he said.  "Come, I will answer for
Chares that he will be more careful in future.  Let it pass.  We have
no time to lose."

The Spartan made no reply, but turned and led the way once more toward
the east.  They did not halt again until the mountain was at their
backs, its peaks cutting a giant silhouette of purple in the crimson
evening sky.  After a brief rest they struck out along a water-course
which brought them at daybreak to a larger stream that they judged to
be the Granicus.

As they advanced, the hills became smaller and the country more open.
They met several companies of the Persians, some with wagon trains and
some on foraging expeditions; but when they explained that they were
Greek mercenaries on their way to join Memnon, they were permitted to
pass unmolested, since it was extremely unlikely that any of the
Macedonians could have advanced so far inland.  Finally, late in the
afternoon, they reached an opening between the hills which gave them
sight of a broad, rolling plain, through which the river ran like a
band of silver.  Far away they could see the tents of the Persian camp,
spread out like a white city, and, a little to the right, a dark
square, which they took to be the earthwork surrounding the camp of the
Greek mercenaries.  Although the Persians made use of the Greeks, they
were so jealous of them that they always made them camp apart.
Encounters between them were not uncommon, even when they were fighting
in the same cause.

Descending to the plain, the three friends lost sight of the camp, but
they took the river for their guide, knowing that it must bring them to
their destination.  They passed farms and cottages, from which the
women peeped curiously at them, the men having been drafted into the
army.  They were emerging from a pasture behind a farm-house rather
larger and more prosperous-looking than its neighbors, when they heard
a commotion in which they distinguished the shouting of Greeks.
Running forward, they found two foraging parties from the rival camps
in angry dispute for the possession of a drove of cattle.  The Greeks
had found the cattle and were about to drive them away when the Persian
party came up and demanded them.

Words led to blows.  The Greeks were heavily outnumbered, and although
they fought stubbornly, it was clear that they would be unable to hold
their ground.

"Here is our chance," Leonidas cried.  "Memnon!  Memnon!"

He drew his sword and rushed into the conflict, with Clearchus and
Chares behind him, shouting at the top of their lungs.  The Greeks,
encouraged by their unexpected succor, made a stand, while the
Persians, not knowing how large a force was upon them, ceased to follow
up their advantage.

"Drive in the sheep with the cattle," Chares cried, catching up a heavy
stake from a hayrick and swinging it around his head with both hands.
"Don't let them escape!"  He brought the stake down upon the Persian
heads like a gigantic flail.

Leonidas and Clearchus forced themselves into the thick of the fight,
thrusting and hewing with their swords.  The Greek foragers, regaining
their courage, ran in after them.  The Persians were unable to
withstand the charge.  They broke and fled down the road toward their
camp in disorder, leaving half a dozen of their number upon the field.

"Praise be to Zeus, the Preserver!" said the lochagos, or captain, who
was in command of the mercenaries.  "Where did you come from?"

"From Antandrus," Leonidas replied promptly, "to join the army of
Memnon."

"By the horn of Dionysus, you came in time!" the captain cried, wiping
his sword.  "But I have been long away from home.  Is it the fashion
there now to fight with stakes for weapons?"

He looked at Chares, whose mighty onslaught had aroused the admiration
of the soldiers.

"It is the fashion there, as it always has been, to fight with whatever
comes to hand when Greeks are in danger," Chares said with dignity.
"But do you suppose, now, that there is a skin of wine in that house?"

"No harm in looking," the captain replied.  "Get the cattle together if
you expect to eat before you sleep," he added to his men and led the
way into the house.

There were only women inside--the farmer's wife and two daughters, all
in a flutter of fear.  Chares, ignorant of their language, began by
kissing each of them, which served somewhat to dispel their alarm.
When the captain produced a bag of gold pieces and announced that he
would pay for everything they took, they became quite at ease and
readily brought the skin of wine that Chares demanded.

Having finished the wine in great good humor and settled their account,
the party set off to the camp, driving the cattle before them.  Around
their camp-fire that night the three Companions learned all there was
to know of the Persian army.  Under Memnon, there were nearly twenty
thousand Greek mercenaries drawn from the entire Hellenic world and
including thieves, fugitives, murderers, and runaway slaves.  The
Persian force was equal in number to the army of Alexander and
consisted mainly of cavalry.  It was made up of picked men, the best
troops of the empire.  With the satraps Arsites and Spithridates were
many of the great nobles of the realm, among them Atizyes, satrap of
Greater Phrygia, Mithrobarzanes, hipparch of Cappadocia, Omares, and
others who were renowned for their bravery and high standing with the
Great King.

"They think it will be a holiday affair," the honest captain said
contemptuously.  "We Greeks know better.  They are encumbered with wine
and women for the feast that they intend to celebrate after they have
won their victory, and they are already quarrelling among themselves
for places at the board; but their greatest contention is over what
shall be done with Alexander when he is led before Darius, loaded with
chains, to answer for his boldness.  They have invented more new
punishments than would destroy the entire army."

"Why are they so certain of winning?" Clearchus asked.  "I have heard
the Macedonians are good fighters."

"So they are," the captain replied heartily; "but the best troops of
Persia are here, and the young nobles cannot bring themselves to
believe that common men can stand against them.  Why, they are even
predicting that the army of Alexander will run away before a blow has
been struck."

"You don't seem to care over much for our friends," Chares remarked
with a yawn.

"Nor they for us," the captain said.  "You saw what happened this
afternoon.  They think they can get along without us and they do not
intend to let us have any share in the victory if they can help it.  I
believe we shall win if it is true that Alexander has only half as many
men as we; but they will never win without our assistance."

"I suppose we shall fight in the centre," Clearchus suggested.

"I don't know," the captain exclaimed.  "Nobody seems to know.  If they
take Memnon's advice, they will not risk all on a battle now.  There is
no need of it.  All we have to do is to fall back, leaving nothing to
eat behind us, and the Macedonians will starve to death.  But the
nobles will not listen to reason.  They want glory, and so they insist
upon a battle where the advantage will be all with the other side.
They called Memnon a coward in the council this afternoon for proposing
to retreat, and now they are at it again over yonder."

He pointed to a gayly colored pavilion in the middle of the Persian
camp, where the council feast was being held.  It looked like a
strange, gigantic mushroom, glowing with interior light.

"They even jeer at us for throwing up breastworks," the captain added
bitterly.  "They have left their own camp defenceless, to show how
brave they are.  Perhaps they will be glad enough to take refuge in
ours before they are through!"

"We must find out what the decision of the council is," Leonidas
whispered, as they rolled themselves in their cloaks, "and then the
next thing will be to get away."



CHAPTER XVII

THE TRAGEDY OF THE MARSH

It was after midnight when the council ended and the generals returned
to the mercenary camp.  Chares and Clearchus had long been slumbering,
but Leonidas, feeling his responsibility as leader, had deemed it his
duty not to yield to his fatigue until the camp was still.

The story of what had occurred in the council spread quickly through
the mercenary army next morning.  Memnon had returned in a rage.  He
had warned the satraps of their folly in expecting an easy victory and
had advised them again to fall back, laying waste the country as they
went, so that the Macedonians would be forced to give battle on
disadvantageous terms and when they had been disheartened by privation.

This suggestion had been treated with scorn by the Persians.  They had
taunted Memnon with cowardice and the satrap Arsites had flatly refused
to permit a single house in his province to be destroyed.

"If the Greeks wish to earn their pay without fighting," he had said,
"let them stand idly by and see how brave men can conquer."

Thereupon all the Persian nobles had shouted assent and it had been
decided to proceed without delay to crush the invasion by forcing a
battle.

This was the news that was told through the camp of the Greeks and
discussed with bitter comment by groups of soldiers.

"I wish I was back with my wife and children," said a sturdy Locrian.
"These dogs know nothing of war."

"I shall stay here, no matter what they do," remarked an Athenian, with
a shrug.  "Hemlock does not agree with me."

"Wait until the phalanx strikes them," said a hoplite from Syracuse.
"I'll wager that the date-eaters will sing a different song when the
sarissa begins to tickle their ribs."

"You would suppose that these fellows would like to see the barbarians
beaten," Chares muttered to Clearchus.

"Hush," said Leonidas.  "We know all that we came to learn.  What we
have to do now, is to get out as soon as we can.  The army cannot be
far away and unless we can reach it before it arrives, the day may be
lost.  If we give the Persians time, they may yet change their minds.
All depends upon an immediate attack, while their forces are divided.
We must get away at once.  How are we to manage it?"

"Why, walk away, of course," Chares said.  "Who is to stop us?"

"That will not do," Leonidas replied.  "You know the order that nobody
shall straggle from the camp.  There is too much danger of getting into
a brawl with the Persians."

"If a foraging party is going out, we might join it," Clearchus
proposed.

"That is worth trying," the Spartan assented; "wait here until I find
our friend, the captain."

It happened that the same foraging party that they had joined the day
before was going out again.  Leonidas asked permission to join it.

"You have not yet been enrolled," the grizzled captain objected, "but
come along if you wish; we may need the big fellow with the stake.
I'll leave three of my men behind and you can take their places."

Leonidas breathed more freely when they were out of the camp, with the
most dangerous part of the mission accomplished.  They were forced to
cross the Granicus and to walk five or six miles on the other side
before they met with any success in their search for provisions.  At
last they discovered a flock of sheep, of which they took possession.
All was in readiness for the return march when Leonidas, Chares, and
Clearchus approached the captain.

"We have decided that we will not join the army," Leonidas announced.
"We have seen enough of this war.  We are going back to the coast."

"I don't know about that," the captain said, scratching his head.

"We are not enrolled," Leonidas reminded him.

"That is true," said the honest fellow, "but you have been in the camp."

"Well, we are not going back," the Spartan said deliberately.  "Are you
going to try to force us?  There are thirteen of you and only three of
us, but if you want a fight, you can have it.  We don't intend to risk
our lives for such leaders as Arsites.  Which shall it be--shall we go,
or shall we fight for it?"

"Let them go," interposed one of the soldiers who had drawn near to
learn what the controversy was about.  "They saved us yesterday.  I
have half a mind to go with them myself.  I would if I had my pay."

"Yes, let them go, if they wish," others chimed in.  "They are not
enrolled."

"Farewell," Leonidas said, sheathing his sword and extending his hand
to the captain.  "You can say we were killed in a skirmish with the
Persians if you like."

"That's it, I'll say you were killed," the captain exclaimed in a tone
of relief, clasping the proffered hand.  "Only, you will not come
back?" he asked doubtfully.

"Never fear," cried Chares, giving him a slap on the back that almost
felled him to the ground.  "If we do, we'll swear you told the truth."

So they turned north and passed on, while the remainder of the party
drove in the sheep to camp.

It was mid-afternoon when they separated from the mercenary company,
and they had no means of knowing how many miles they would have to
travel before they fell in with the Macedonian army.

"Now for it," cried Leonidas, swinging his shield over his shoulder.
"Come on!"

Before they had gone far, they found themselves descending a long slope
toward what seemed to be a wide stretch of marshland extending as far
as they could see.  It was covered with long, dry rushes, which rustled
and bent before the strong breeze.  The brown expanse apparently had
once been a lake, for in the distance they could catch the gleam of
water; but the greater part of the basin had dried, and the reeds had
sprung up as the water receded.

"It looks like a swamp," Clearchus said, anxiously scanning the plain.
"How are we to pass?"

"It seems dry enough now," Leonidas replied.  "We will cross it if we
can find no better way; but let us look first for a road."

Facing to the east, they skirted the edge of the rushes for more than a
mile without finding an opening or coming within sight of the end.

"I'm afraid we shall have to try to get through," Leonidas said at
last, halting on a tongue of land which extended some distance into the
marsh.  "We can't afford to waste much more time."

The question was decided for them in a manner that left them no choice.
As they stood in doubt, shouts came from their rear, and turning, they
saw a company of horsemen at the top of the slope, half a mile away,
bearing down upon them at a breakneck gallop.  Their long lances and
flowing garments showed them to be Persians.

"You were right in saying that we had no time to waste, Leonidas,"
Chares exclaimed.  "What are you going to do about this?  I am anxious
to take orders."

For answer, the Spartan set off at a run for the marsh.  It was evident
that the Persians had seen them and were aiming to attack them at a
distance from the camps, where the affair would remain undiscovered.

With the wind blowing in their faces, the three young men plunged in
among the reeds.  The dry stalks met above their heads and whistled
about their ears.

"Go first!" commanded Leonidas, standing aside for Chares to pass.

The Theban took the lead, tearing like a wild bull through the
crackling stems.  Clearchus followed at his heels and Leonidas brought
up the rear, retaining for himself the post of danger.  Although their
figures were hidden, they knew their pursuers would have no trouble in
following them, for they left a broad trail, and, moreover, the
elevation of the backs of their horses would enable the barbarians
easily to mark their progress by the waving of the rushes.

For a mile and two miles the race continued without a word being
spoken.  The Persians had ridden headlong into the marsh after them and
were slowly gaining upon them, although the speed of their horses was
checked by the rushes, which caused them to stumble, and by the
softness of the ground, into which their hoofs sank to the fetlock at
every stride.

Clearchus was panting for breath and he heard Leonidas breathing hard
behind him.  Sweat streamed from the face and neck of Chares, who broke
the path.  The Athenian knew that the pace could not be maintained much
longer.

Still another half mile they struggled on with the endless brown walls
of reeds before them and around them.  Long ago they had cast away
their javelins and their shields, which caught in the reeds and
hindered them.  Even if they could find a barrier behind which to make
a stand, they knew they would have no chance for their lives against
the enemy, who outnumbered them six to one and had the advantage of
being mounted.

Clearchus thought of Artemisia, and his temples throbbed with anguish
as he nerved himself to fresh effort.  Was he never to see her again?
His bones would bleach in the middle of that vast morass and she would
not know.  He thought of the high-spirited young king who had sent them
to obtain information that might save his army from destruction and the
hopes of Greece from ruin.  On them alone might depend the result of
the battle that was to be fought and the destiny of two nations.

He saw Chares stumble once and again.  His own muscles were benumbed by
the long strain.  The shouting at their backs was growing louder and
more near and he could hear the thudding of the hoofs upon the spongy,
black soil.

"Stop!" Leonidas gasped behind him, and looking over his shoulder,
Clearchus saw that the Spartan had fallen to his knees.

"Back, Chares," he shouted.  "The end has come!"

The Theban halted and they both ran back to Leonidas, drawing their
swords with a fierce determination to defend themselves to the last.

"Beat down the rushes!" Leonidas cried hoarsely.  "Let in the wind!"

They saw that he held his flints in his hands and that a tiny blaze was
flickering up from a heap of rushes which he had crushed into a
tinder-like mass.

They understood his plan and hope returned to them.  Like madmen, they
trampled the reeds to the right and left.  A puff of wind came through
and caught the darting tongue of fire.  It leaped upward so suddenly
that the Spartan's hair was singed before he had time to draw back.  In
an instant, it seemed, a sheet of flame flung itself into the air above
the reed-tops, casting off a thin swirl of bluish smoke.  With
incredible swiftness the fire swept from them straight down upon their
pursuers, leaving behind it a rapidly widening wake of black.

"Scatter it!" cried Leonidas, seizing the blazing reeds and throwing
them in every direction.  The others followed his example, spreading
the fire as far as they could to the right and left so as to make it
impossible for the Persians to evade it by avoiding its path.

As soon as the barbarians saw the first smoke, they halted, hesitated
for a moment, and then turned wildly back in the hope of escaping by
the way they had come.  The Greeks had taken a position on the charred
ground, where they themselves were safe from the flames, and were
awaiting the result, sword in hand.

The conflagration, as it gathered headway, seemed to become a monster
animated by a living spirit.  One broad sheet of flame swept high into
the air, roaring like a hungry beast, and throwing up clouds of smoke
that hid the southern sky.  With deadly swiftness it devoured the lake
of reeds before it, leaving behind a bare and level plain of ashes from
which here and there rose smoky spirals.  It seemed to create a
scorching gale stronger even than the wind that had fanned it into
life.  It rushed forward by great leaps and bounds, pausing now and
then over some especially tempting thicket of reeds, and then starting
up far in advance.

In vain the three young men tried to learn what had become of the
pursuers upon whom Leonidas had let loose their terrible ally.
Grasping their swords, they stood back to back amid the drifting smoke,
striving to look beyond the flaming wall.  The wave of fire reached the
slope from which they had fled, lingered there for a few moments, and
then vanished as quickly almost as it had sprung into existence.  The
smoke blew away over the uplands in a bellying cloud.  Gazing through
its rifts, they could see nothing of the Persians.  They seemed to have
disappeared as completely as though the earth had swallowed them.

"Where are they?" exclaimed Clearchus in bewilderment.

"They must have escaped," Leonidas replied.

"No, by Zeus, I see them!" Chares cried, pointing to a group of
blackened mounds about halfway from where they stood to the edge of the
marsh.

One of the mounds stirred as he spoke, and they saw that he was right.
It was one of the horses.  The animal tried to raise itself on its fore
legs, gave a scream of agony, and fell back among the cinders.

Without a word, the three Companions turned away.  While the fire had
fled rapidly before the wind, it had made little progress in other
directions.  It was still eating into the rushes behind them and on
either side and they were surrounded by it, excepting where it had
swept back to the slope.  To return in that direction would be to run
new risk of capture.  They were prisoners.

They looked at each other.  Their faces and garments were black with
smoke and ashes.

"What would they say if they could see you in the Agora in Athens
looking like that?" Chares asked of Clearchus.

"They would ask me the price of charcoal, I suppose," the Athenian
replied, laughing.

They moved slowly after the receding fire, choosing their path with
caution and halting every few yards to wait until the ground had cooled.

"We shall not get out in time!" Leonidas groaned.

"Don't be too sure," Clearchus cried.  "Look at that."  He extended his
hand, upon which a drop of water had fallen.

"Rain!" cried the Spartan, joyfully.  "The Gods be thanked!"

It was rain, indeed.  The drops were falling all around them, making
little puffs in the hot ashes and hissing on the embers.  The wind
shifted further to the east and brought a refreshing dampness to their
faces, crimsoned by the stifling atmosphere which they had been forced
to breathe.  There was a muttering of thunder, then a nearer crash
overhead, and they saw the storm striding across the plain in a long,
sweeping curve.  They lifted their faces to it and drew deep breaths,
letting the water trickle through their hair and down their bodies.
Steam rose from the blackened expanse all about them.  Gaps began to
appear in the hissing circle of fire.  The red tongues flickered and
went out.

"There is yet time," Leonidas cried, and in a few moments they were
once more among the reeds, heading for the northern margin of the swamp.



CHAPTER XVIII

GREEK AND BARBARIAN

Alexander was riding upon Bucephalus, with Parmenio at his side.
Behind them rode the light-hearted pages and the grave generals,
followed by the Companions and the infantry, winding like an enormous
snake along the road that led southward to the Granicus.

The young king seemed preoccupied.  He glanced restlessly to the right
and left where scouting parties were beating the country to guard
against surprise and in the hope of finding some trace of the enemy.

"The Persians cannot be far away now," he said to Parmenio.  "Do you
think they will wait for us?"

"If they were wise, they would fall back and draw us away from our
supplies," the old general replied.

"They must fight," Alexander exclaimed.

"I have no doubt they will," Parmenio answered, with the shadow of a
smile upon his lips.

Alexander glanced sharply at him and was silent, riding with bent head
as though debating with himself.  There was something in the veteran's
tone that jarred upon him.

"I wish Leonidas, Chares, and Clearchus were here," he said at last.

"Perhaps they have taken service under Memnon," Parmenio suggested
dryly.

"Is there none that you trust?" Alexander said sharply.  "They are not
deserters; but they may have been killed."

"That is possible," the old man replied.

"I care not so much for the Persians," Alexander continued, "but I
would like to know how many men Memnon has and what spirit they are in."

A small party of the scouting horsemen appeared before them in the road.

"It is Amyntas himself," Alexander said, catching sight of them.  "What
has the Lyncestian found?"

"Either stragglers or prisoners," Parmenio replied, shading his eyes
with his palms.  "They seem to be negroes."

"We will put them to the torture," Alexander said, with satisfaction.
"They may be able to tell something of what we wish to know."

He urged Bucephalus forward to meet the skirmishers, who halted to
await his arrival.

"What have you here, Amyntas?" he asked.

"Three men who seemed to be wandering about the Country," Amyntas
replied.  "They are Greeks, but they refuse to give any account of
themselves excepting to Alexander."

One of the three prisoners, short and strong of build, stood forward
and saluted.  Alexander looked hard at him and then at the other two.
His face cleared and he laughed aloud.

"Order a halt," he said.  "Let the men rest and eat.  Leave the
prisoners to me."

He gave his horse to a groom and led the way to a wide-spreading oak
tree a short distance from the road.

"I thought you had been either killed or captured," he said to the
prisoners.  "Leonidas, what have you learned?"

"Everything," the Spartan replied.

"How many soldiers has Memnon?" the young king asked.

"Twenty thousand," was the reply.

"Will they fight?" Alexander inquired.

"No, because the Persians will not let them," Leonidas said.  "Memnon
advised a retreat, but the satraps laughed in his face and gave him
permission to watch them win the battle."

"What think you of that, Parmenio?" Alexander exclaimed.  "He gave them
the same advice you would have given had you been there.  They have
refused it.  The day is ours!"

With hasty questions he brought out the whole story of the expedition.
The plan of battle formed itself in his mind as he listened, walking
back and forth before them.  His eyes flashed and his cheeks glowed red.

"You have done well," he said to the three friends, when they had
finished.  "Your horses are waiting for you.  Refresh yourselves and
put on your armor, for you will need it before the sun goes down."

"I hope nobody has stolen my breastplate," Chares muttered.

Alexander continued to pace backward and forward with his head inclined
a little to the left, as was his wont when in thought.  Parmenio
watched him closely, but did not venture to speak.  Amyntas, who had
ridden forward after surrendering his prisoners, now returned at a
gallop.

"The barbarians await us on the opposite side of the river," he said.

"Your prisoners have already told me," Alexander replied.  "Is the
stream fordable?"

"Not directly in front of their line," the cavalryman replied.  "There
is shallow water above and below them, but the stream is swift."

"Call the council," Alexander said quietly, turning to Parmenio.

Heralds bore the order down the road beside which the army lay at rest.
The commanders left their stations and came forward, singly and in
groups, gathering about their leader.  In few words he set the
situation before them.

"Shall we attack them now or to-morrow?" he asked.

"Let us fight now!" the captains shouted.

But Parmenio frowned and shook his head.  "My advice is to wait," he
said boldly.  "Already it is late and we must cross the river to reach
the enemy.  They have chosen their own ground.  The men are weary with
their march."

"No, no!" the younger men shouted.

"As for the river," Alexander replied, "the Hellespont would blush for
shame if we stood waiting on the banks of such a stream as this after
having crossed the other.  It is true that we have little time, and
that is the more reason that we should make the most of it.  We will
fight now."

His decision was received with a burst of cheers.  He waited with a
smile until the clamor of approval had ceased.

"Comrades and Macedonians!" he continued, "we are about to face the
Mede.  If we win here, we win all.  I say to you that we shall win.  I
ask you only to be worthy of yourselves.  Fight this day as the heroes
fought before the walls of Ilium.  Their shades are with us.  Your
names shall be linked forever with theirs.  Here we shall reap the
first harvest of our hope."

"Lead us, Alexander!  We shall win!" the captains shouted.

They ran back to spread the news among the soldiers, who received it
with such enthusiasm that even the anxious face of Parmenio brightened.
In another half hour the army was again in motion with Alexander in the
van, wearing the helmet with the white plumes that swept his shoulders.

When they reached the river, they saw the Persians drawn up on the
opposite bank in a long, deep line.  The front of the enemy was gay
with banners flaunting in the sun and resplendent with the
multi-colored finery of the Persian lords.  The Greeks could hear the
braying of their trumpets and the shouts of their commanders as the
dense masses of their cavalry wheeled into position to meet the attack.
At sight of Alexander a high-pitched, long-drawn cry ran from one end
of their line to the other, rising and falling in derision.

There was no answer from the Greeks.  The young king drew aside to a
point of vantage and threw a rapid glance at the barbarian host.  He
saw that the river before them broadened into a pool, over whose quiet
surface the swallows were skimming.  Immediately in front of him the
water foamed and gurgled over a shallow, and a similar break ended the
pool below.  The opposite bank rose steeply from the water's edge to
the wide declivity upon which the Persians had taken their stand.
Behind them Memnon's mercenaries had been posted as a reserve and to be
spectators of the punishment which the barbarians were to inflict upon
their countrymen.

"Leonidas was right," Alexander exclaimed, pointing to the mercenaries.
"See, we shall not have to meet the spears of the Greeks.  Form the
line, Parmenio."

Squadron and company emerged from the road and wheeled into their
positions in silence under the direction of their captains.  Clearchus,
Chares, and Leonidas were riding with Ptolemy's troop when a page
sought them and they saw Alexander beckoning.

"Do not forget that you are to fight with Alexander to-day," he said,
as they rode up.

Leonidas flushed with pride and Chares threw a satisfied glance at the
gorgeous breastplate which he had recovered safely.  They took their
places in the cluster of young Macedonians behind the king.

Amyntas, with his light horsemen, was posted on the extreme right,
beyond the left of the Persian line.  Ptolemy, with the heavy cavalry,
stood next, and Alexander, with seven squadrons of the Companions, the
best and bravest of his army, supported him on the left.  Then came the
terrible phalanx, rank on rank, its sarissas standing up to four times
the height of a man, like a giant field of corn.  Farther down the
river, in the left wing, where Parmenio commanded, was the dashing
Thessalian horse, with the riders of Thrace and the Greek allies,
supported by other squadrons of foot-soldiers.

Quickly and calmly, as though forming for a parade, the line extended
itself and stood still.  Behind its centre the catapults and ballistæ
were posted, with their strings tightened and their great arms drawn
back, ready to hurl their bolts or to discharge their missiles.

A sudden hush fell on both sides of the river.  The jeers of the
Persians died away and their banners stirred lazily in the light air.
The Macedonians stood facing them like an army of statues.  Alexander
touched his horse with the spur and rode slowly down the line alone to
see that all was in readiness.  As he passed he spoke to the captains,
calling them by name.

"Nicanor," he said, "let your men prove themselves men once more
to-day!  Perdiccas, fight for the honor of Hellas!  Cœnus, there are
no cowards among your followers; fight now as you never fought before!
Remember Macedon!"

So the young king reached the left of the array, where he gave his
final instructions to Parmenio, and galloped back to his place on the
right with his double white plume streaming behind him.

Gazing across the narrow stream, the veterans of Macedon saw the pride
of Persia awaiting their onset.  The great struggle for which they had
been making ready through years of toil was about to be brought to an
issue.  There rose before them a vision of the farms and villages among
the rugged Macedonian hills where their wives and children awaited
them.  They set their teeth upon the thought that defeat would leave
the road to their homes unguarded.  They pictured the shame of
returning as hunted fugitives, with the barbarians at their heels--how
sullen Sparta would exult and fickle Athens blaze up in revolt.  It
would be better to die there on the banks of the foreign river than to
incur such disgrace.

To all minds came the thought that the fate of the world was hanging in
the balance, and all eyes turned to Alexander.  The young king, cool
and confident, had regained his position at the head of the Agema.  He
raised his hand and away on the right the army heard the clear notes of
a trumpet sounding the charge.

Amyntas, with his gallant lancers, galloped down the slope and dashed
into the river, which foamed about the knees of the plunging horses.

Again the trumpet-call quavered in the air, and Ptolemy's squadrons
followed Amyntas with a clanking of armor and a jangling of scabbards.

On the opposite shore the Persians raised their fierce, defiant shout
and rushed eagerly forward to meet the charge.  A flight of arrows rose
from the archers posted upon the hillside in their rear and converged
in a glittering shower upon the ford.

Then along the dreaded phalanx of the Greeks ran a swelling murmur.
The forest of sarissas began to move toward the river.  Louder rose the
chant until it drowned the clash of arms and the shouts of the
barbarian host.  It was the solemn pæan from twelve thousand bearded
throats, calling upon the Gods of Hellas for their aid.  The hearts of
the Greeks in the mercenary camp on the heights across the river
tightened as the deep-toned chorus rolled up to them and for a time
they avoided looking into each other's eyes.

Enormous darts, ponderous balls of lead, and jagged stones were hurled
against the Persian line from the death-dealing engines in the rear of
the Greek position.  Amyntas was struggling hand to hand in the foaming
ford.  The battle was joined.



CHAPTER XIX

THE ROUT OF THE SATRAPS

Again and yet again Amyntas was thrust back from the other shore,
slippery with mud and clay, while deadly gusts of arrows and javelins
beat upon him.  Jealous of glory, the young Persian nobles crowded with
reckless daring to the brink and overwhelmed him by the weight of their
numbers.  But they could not drive him off.  He clung to the attack
with the stubborn tenacity that knows not defeat, refusing to abandon
the stream, although his lines were broken and his men were falling
around him.

Alexander, watching the battle like a hawk, saw the desperate situation
into which he had thrown Amyntas.  "Enyalius!" he shouted, calling upon
the God of War by the name that the Homeric heroes had used before
Ilium; "Enyalius!  Follow me, Macedonians!"

The Agema swept down the slope behind the waving plumes of white and
struck the river into foam.  The disordered ranks of Amyntas raised a
breathless cheer as it passed, heading straight for the thickest of the
fight.  There was a splintering of shafts, a crash of steel upon steel,
and from the fierce vortex of the battle rose cries of rage and agony.

Clearchus fastened his eyes upon the double white plume which fluttered
before them.  He heard the cry "Alexander!  Alexander!" run from lip to
lip through the Persian host and saw its squadrons rushing down to meet
the onset.

A lean, swarthy man, wearing a head-dress that glittered with jewels,
aimed a blow at him with his curved sword.  The Athenian threw himself
back upon his horse to avoid the stroke and thrust the man through the
side with his lance.

Alexander was fighting in the foremost rank amid a flashing circle of
steel.  The Persian courtiers threw themselves upon the Macedonian
spears in their eagerness to reach the king and win the honors which
they knew would be bestowed upon the fortunate man who should slay him.
The young leader seemed heedless of his danger.  Twice he spurred his
horse up the treacherous bank and twice he was hurled back.  The river,
from shore to shore, was filled with soldiers fending off as best they
might the merciless rain of darts and arrows.  The moment was critical.
Unless the Agema could gain footing on the Persian side, the day was
lost.

"We must end this," roared Chares above the turmoil.  "Down with them!
Alexander!"

He drove his bloody spur deep into the flank of his powerful steed.
The tortured animal leaped at the bank and staggered upward against the
living wall that barred the way.  A score of swords struck at him, and
the polished shield that the Theban held above his head rang beneath
the blows that were showered upon it.  The great roan gained the top of
the bank, but a spearman buried a javelin in his broad chest and his
knees gave way.  As he fell, Chares leaped from his back and stood firm.

"Alexander!" he cried again, in a mighty voice that rose above the din
of conflict like the roar of a lion at bay.  His long sword, so heavy
that a man of ordinary strength could hardly wield it, though he used
both hands, swept on this side and on that in whistling circles.  Down
went horse and rider before it like grain within the compass of a
sickle.  For a moment a space was cleared, and in the next the double
plume of white flaunted before his eyes as Alexander passed him, and
the Theban knew that the shore had been won.  The Agema, like a wedge,
struck far into the Persian ranks and held there, driven home by the
weight of troops behind it.

Mithridates, son-in-law of Darius, infuriated by this success, ordered
a charge which should sweep the Macedonians back into the river.
Followed by Rhoisakes, his brother, and by a throng of nobles he hurled
himself upon the stubborn mountaineers, aiming straight for Alexander.
Chares, who was in the path of the avalanche, was swept aside.  His
shield was shattered upon his arm by the blow of a mace which also
broke the fastenings of his helmet.  A shout of warning rose from the
Agema as it wheeled to face the attack.  With sword upraised,
Mithridates rushed upon Alexander; but the king's tough lance pierced
the scales of his armor before he could deliver his stroke.  The prince
fell from his horse and rolled beneath the flying hoofs.  Rhoisakes,
thundering behind him, aimed a blow with his keen battle-axe which
shore away the king's crest and half the double plume.  At the same
moment the satrap Spithridates attacked Alexander from behind, but
before his arm could fall, dark Clitus, with an upward stroke, severed
his wrist so that his hand, still grasping his hilt, leaped into the
air.  Rhoisakes met his brother's fate upon Alexander's spear.  Dismay
filled the Persian ranks.  The charge was broken.  "Enyalius!"
Alexander shouted, and the Agema thundered up the slope against the
disordered barbarians.

Clearchus and Leonidas fought close behind Alexander.  The Athenian was
never afterward able to recall the details of that desperate struggle.
His remembrance was a confused blur of thrust and parry, of shouting
and confusion.  Suddenly, out of the shifting throng, the proud,
flushed face of Phradates appeared to him as in a dream.  The young
man's gaze was fixed and he seemed to be striving to extricate his
horse from the press that hemmed him in.  Struck by the expression of
rage and hate that convulsed his features, Clearchus followed the
direction of his glance and saw Chares, with bare head and on foot,
holding two adversaries in check with his sword.  Blood flowed from a
wound upon his cheek, reddening his shoulder and dimming the lustre of
his armor.  He had been left behind by the cavalry, and the space
around him was clear except for the two riders, who had thought to find
him an easy victim.

Clearchus read the thought in the dark face of the Phœnician.
Phradates had recognized his rival and was bent upon taking him at a
disadvantage.  The Athenian turned to warn Chares of his peril, but
Phradates shot out of the crowd in advance of him and spurred down upon
his enemy, bending low upon the neck of his fleet Arabian horse.

"Ho, Chares!  Guard thyself!" Clearchus shouted, realizing that he
would be too late.

The cry reached the ears of the Theban, who turned his head for an
instant and saw Phradates rushing upon him.  He leaped forward and
hewed one of his adversaries from the back of his horse.  The other
closed in, aiming a blow with his sword that Chares had barely time to
catch upon his own blade.  The shoulder of the leaping horse hurtled
against him, causing him to stagger and drop his point.

"I have thee, dog!" screamed Phradates.

So intent was the Phœnician upon his ignoble revenge that he had not
seen Clearchus, spurring desperately to overtake him.  The Athenian
heard his shout of triumph and his heart failed.

"I cannot reach him in time!" he groaned.

In a few more strides, Chares would be at the mercy of his foe.
Phradates raised his arm to strike at the defenceless head.  There was
one chance of stopping him and one only.  Clearchus hurled his sword at
the Phœnician.  The hilt of the whirling blade struck Phradates on
the arm with such force that, with a cry of pain, he let fall the sword
from his benumbed fingers.

"Not this time, Phœnician!" Chares shouted, as Phradates swooped
past him.  "Go back to Tyre and await my coming; for I follow!"

Clearchus leaped down from his horse and recovered his sword with the
intention of pursuing Phradates, but he saw at a glance that the
attempt would be useless.  The Phœnician, unarmed as he was, fled
toward the Persian lines too fast to be overtaken.

He looked around for the second of the two horsemen with whom Chares
had been engaged when Phradates attacked him, but the man was nowhere
to be seen.  He turned to his friend and embraced him.

"You were just in time," Chares said.

"Thank the Gods!" Clearchus replied.  "This is no place to die.  I
think the battle is ours."

Phradates, riding at full speed, passed through the Persian lines and
galloped up the slope.  Here and there a Persian horseman saw him go
and followed.  Others, and still others, joined the flight until, like
a dam that goes down before the swollen current of a river in spring,
the barbarian squadrons wavered and broke, streaming up the hill
disordered and panic-stricken, with death at their heels.  Their only
thought was to save themselves.

Slaughter took the place of conflict.  Grim and silent the Macedonian
cavalry and the Thessalian horse rode among the fugitives with swords
that knew no mercy.  In that disastrous rout the pride of Persia's
chivalry was dragged in the dust, and the courtier deemed himself
fortunate who escaped to tell of his own dishonor.

Past the camp of the despised Greek mercenaries who had been bidden to
watch the defenders of the Great King conquer or die, ran the barbarian
rabble, with the wolves of Macedon tearing at their flanks.  Southward
they fled, leaving behind a broad track of the wounded and the dying,
and scattering as they went until no semblance of the Persian army
remained.  Sweet in their ears at last was the music of the trumpet
notes that withdrew the pursuit and left them free to take breath.

The mercenaries stood before their camp, unmoved amid the panic,
awaiting the command to fight or flee.  The order never came.  Memnon
had fought beside the Persian generals and had been swept away with
them, leaving his army to its fate.  Below them the Greeks saw the
Macedonian phalanx re-forming its ranks, with the cavalry, of which
they had none, upon its wings.

"Why should we die for these cowards?" they said, one to another.
"They have deserted us and we are free."

They stretched out their hands in supplication toward Alexander.

"Grant us our lives, O king!" they cried.

"They surrender," Parmenio said.  "They are ready to join us.  Why not
accept them?  It will cost many lives to punish them."

Alexander's brow darkened.  "They are traitors to Greece," he said.  "I
will have none in my army who has raised his hand against his country."

The deep phalanx rolled onward to the chant of the pæan, and the
despairing mercenaries knew that they could expect no quarter.

"Let us die like Greeks, since we must die," their captains exhorted.
"There is no escape for us."

The phalanx dashed upon them with a rending shock.  The long sarissas
tore through their ranks; but they stood firm, giving blow for blow,
and calling upon each other not to disgrace their name.  They even
forced the veterans of Macedon to recoil, and the phalanx surged back
like a mighty wave that dashes itself against a sounding cliff and
returns with renewed strength.

Had only the foot-soldiers, with whom they could fight on equal terms,
been arrayed against them, the issue might have remained in doubt; but
the cavalry, against which they had no defence, fell upon their rear
ranks with terrible effect.  Their squares were broken; their captains
fell; disordered and without guidance, they went down before lance and
sword, fighting to the last.

Alexander's horse was killed under him while he was leading the cavalry
charge upon the left, and for the second time that day he narrowly
escaped with his life.

"They fought like men," he said sadly to Ptolemy.  "I wish they had
been with us instead of against us, for they were Greeks."

He gave command to stop the carnage.  Where the mercenary line had
stood the dead lay in heaps, friend and foe together.  A few of the
mercenaries who had been cut off from the main body by the cavalry had
succeeded in making their escape; but of the twenty thousand whom
Memnon had led, eighteen thousand never left that bloody field.  At
least, they had shown the barbarians how to die.

"It will be harder for Darius to hire Greeks to fight for him after
this," Chares remarked, as he reined in his horse beside his two
friends and dismounted.

"They were of our race, after all," Clearchus said, regretfully.

"They were not cowards," Chares assented, nodding his head in approval,
"and we have lost more men than we could spare.  Here is a fellow, now,
who might have amounted to something."

He pointed to the body of a young man who lay with his broken sword
beside him.  His pale face was calm and his wide eyes stared upward at
the crimson evening sky.  His corselet had been broken, disclosing the
end of a thin roll of papyrus.  Chares drew it out and broke the seals.

"He may have been a poet," he said, handing the roll to Clearchus.
"Read it!"

The Athenian glanced at the writing and uttered a quick exclamation.

"Artemisia is in Halicarnassus!" he cried.

"What do you mean?" Chares demanded.

"This is a letter from Xanthe to me," Clearchus said, and he proceeded
to read the lines that his unhappy aunt had written with so much toil.

"Who is this Iphicrates?" Leonidas asked.

"I know not," Clearchus replied eagerly, "but if it be the will of the
Gods we shall learn.  Let us seek the king at once!"



CHAPTER XX

MENA MAKES A DISCOVERY

Mena, the Egyptian, had found a good excuse for remaining in Athens
during the fighting, but after the battle of the Granicus Phradates had
summoned him to Halicarnassus.  He was sitting in a wine-shop,
discussing topics of moment with his host.  His restless mind, ever on
the alert for intelligence that he might turn to account, was gathering
information concerning the city.

"Memnon is an able general," he said.  "If they had let him lead, the
war would have been over by this time."

"I wish they had, then," the host replied, drawing his cup.  "That
battle on the Granicus came near to ruining me, there were so many of
my debtors who did not return."

"You can make up your loss by raising your prices when the siege begins
here," the Egyptian observed.

"Do you think there will be a siege?" the other asked anxiously.

"Of course," Mena replied.  "Do you expect Alexander to turn back now
that the northern provinces are his?  But with Memnon here, he will
have his trouble for his pains."

"I don't know," the shopkeeper said, shaking his head.  "They say these
Macedonians are wonderful fighters, and I am not sure, after all, that
I want to see them beaten.  Blood is thicker than water, and this is a
Greek city, when all is said, even though it pays tribute to Darius.  I
can't see how we should be worse off under Alexander than we are now.
The Persians are robbers, and my grandfather was a Bœotian."

"Would you have the city surrender?" Mena demanded, in affected
surprise.

"No, of course not," the shopkeeper said hastily, taking his cue from
his customer, after the manner of his kind.  "No, I would never
surrender, for our walls are so strong and high that the Macedonians
will never get through them; but we might make terms," he added
cautiously.

His embarrassment was relieved by a boy who came to tell him that two
strangers who had just entered the shop desired to speak with him.  He
excused himself to the Egyptian, whose sharp eyes followed him as he
went to obey the summons.  He could not suppress a start of surprise
when he saw who had sent it.  The two men had taken their places at a
remote table, evidently not wishing to be remarked.  They wore the garb
of light-armed foot-soldiers and their accoutrement seemed much the
worse for rough usage.  One of them was of great size and strength,
with blue eyes and yellow hair which curled about his temples.  The
other was smaller and more delicate in appearance.  The cunning
Egyptian recognized them in an instant.  They were Clearchus and Chares.

Mena knew the two young men had set out with the army of Alexander, and
that they must have had some purpose in coming to Halicarnassus.
Either they had found some clew, he thought, to Artemisia's hiding
place, or they had been sent forward from the army as spies.  He
gradually shifted his position so that he might watch their
conversation with the host without danger of being recognized.  Their
talk lasted long enough for Chares to drain a huge measure of wine,
after which the keeper of the shop bowed them out and returned to Mena.

"They were two Athenians," he said.  "They wanted to know where
Iphicrates lives."

"Who is Iphicrates?" Mena asked innocently.

"He is an old rascal who makes his living out of the necessities of
others," the shopkeeper replied.  "I dare say they want to borrow money
from him.  They will have to pay well for it!"

"Did they say they wanted money?" queried Mena.

"No, they did not say why they wished to see him," was the reply.

The wily Mena drew from his companion all that he knew about
Iphicrates.  He found the house without difficulty and easily learned
the details of the accident that had befallen Thais.  With this
information and with what he already knew of Artemisia's disappearance,
he soon found out all the rest.

"Chares and Clearchus will attempt to rescue the two women," he
reflected.  "If they succeed, Clearchus will return to Athens and
Ariston will be stripped of all he has.  He will undoubtedly be thrown
into prison besides.  That must not happen, now, at any rate.  Chares
will probably go with Clearchus, and my worthy master will lose, not
only his revenge, but the girl that he makes himself such a fool over.
Of course he would blame me for that.  This Iphicrates is a
money-lender, therefore he must have money.  Let me see."

Mena's further cogitations led him to Phradates, whom he found playing
at the dice with a party of mercenary captains, who were robbing him
without shame.  The Egyptian drew him aside.

"I will deliver Chares into thy hands to-night," he said, "and give
thee Thais to-morrow."

"Are you drunk?" Phradates asked bluntly.

"I mean exactly what I say," Mena replied with dignity, and he related
all that he had discovered.

"My turn has come sooner than I expected," Phradates cried exultingly.
He lost no time in seeking Memnon, with whom he held a long
consultation.

Save for the military patrols, the streets of Halicarnassus were
deserted that night when Chares and Clearchus approached the dwelling
of Iphicrates.  They kept the darker side of the way and advanced with
caution, halting at every sound.  They had laid aside their weapons,
which they knew would be useless in case of attack and which might
excite suspicion should they be noticed.  In front of the house they
stopped to listen.  Not a sound broke the stillness and nobody was in
sight.  In one of the upper windows a light was burning.

"She is there!" Clearchus said, pointing to the gleam.

"How shall we make her understand who we are?" Chares asked.

Clearchus picked up a pebble from the street and tossed it at the
window.  The first trial failed, but at the second the stone entered
the opening.

"Back now until we see her!" the Theban said, drawing Clearchus into an
angle of the opposite wall.

In a moment a woman's head, with hair unbound, appeared at the window
against the light.

"It is Artemisia!" Clearchus cried, unable to control himself in the
rush of his joy.  He started forward and stood in the full moonlight
with his arms outstretched.

"Artemisia!" he called softly.

"Clearchus, my love, is it thou?" she replied, in the same tone.

"Yes, we have come to save thee," he answered.  "Canst thou come to us?"

"I will try," she said.  "Thais is here with me."

She vanished from the window, and Clearchus advanced eagerly toward the
door.  Before he had taken three steps a score of men seemed to rise
out of the ground around him.  The trap set by Phradates had been
sprung.

"Seize them!" the Tyrian cried in a shrill voice.

In an instant, Clearchus had been overcome.  Chares, who had remained
in the angle of shadow, sprang forward with a cry of rage.  He reached
Phradates before the soldiers could stop him, and dealt the Tyrian a
blow that sent him down in an inanimate heap ten yards away; but, as he
did so, a dozen men leaped upon him and bore him to the earth.

Clearchus was struggling like a madman with his captors, but to no
purpose.

"They have us," the Theban said coolly.  "Let us show ourselves men."

With a groan Clearchus submitted; and the guard, having bound their
arms behind them, dragged them to their feet.

"At least, that Phœnician coward has his deserts," Chares exclaimed
with a laugh, glancing at the senseless form of his enemy.  "I hope I
have killed him!"

Part of the guard marched them quickly away, while the rest remained
behind to care for Phradates.  As long as the house could be seen,
Clearchus kept his eyes upon the window, hoping for another glimpse of
Artemisia, but he saw her not.

It was necessary for the soldiers who had stayed behind with Phradates
to summon a physician before he could be brought back to consciousness.
His life had been saved by the fact that he threw up his right hand to
protect himself from Chares' terrible blow.  The bones of his wrist had
been broken and splintered so badly that the physician doubted whether
he would ever be able to use his hand again.

In the morning Iphicrates received orders to join the citizen levy that
had been raised to defend the walls of the city; and Phradates, with a
retinue of slaves and attendants, took possession of the house.  The
money-lender protested bitterly against the service demanded of him,
but his entreaties were in vain.  He had not even time to make
provision for the security of his valuables before he was hurried away,
and he was forced to accept the assistance which the sympathetic Mena
pressed upon him.  He revealed to the Egyptian, with many lamentations,
the hiding-places of his hoard, promising to reward him liberally if he
would bring it to him.  Mena found not only the gold of which
Iphicrates had spoken, but much more that had been so cunningly
concealed in the walls of the house that Iphicrates had deemed it
unnecessary to allude to it.  So expeditious was Mena's search that he
was able to report to Iphicrates, before nightfall, that the soldiers
had anticipated him and had carried everything away.

"I am ruined!" cried the wretched man, turning pale and wiping the
drops from his brow.  "The savings of a lifetime of toil have been
taken from me!  Ah, the robbers!  Would that I had them here before me!"

"Take hope," Mena replied soothingly.  "The fortunes of war may bring
thee more than thou hast lost, and it is better, at any rate, that thy
gold should have fallen into the hands of thy friends rather than into
those of the Macedonians."

"I have no friends," Iphicrates wailed.  "I will appeal to Memnon
himself!"

"Give yourself no concern about that," the Egyptian replied hastily.
"I have already complained to my master, and he has promised to see
that the soldiers are punished.  He is generous, and he feels that it
was partly his fault that this misfortune has come upon thee."

Iphicrates clasped his hand and thanked him with tears.  Mena left him
to his drill and hastened to make provision for the secret conveyance
of the gold to Tyre.  Phradates remained in ignorance of the whole
transaction, having matters of more importance to occupy his thoughts
than the ruin of an old miser.

Artemisia passed the night in an agony of suspense and weeping.  Thais
did her utmost to comfort her, though her own heart was scarcely less
troubled than that of her younger companion.  It was by representing
that, weak as they were, they might be the only persons in the city who
could aid Clearchus and Chares, and that they must not abandon
themselves to despair that she finally persuaded Artemisia to sleep.
While she talked, her swift mind was busy with plans.  She had heard
that the Persian officials were venal, and that anything in the empire
might be had for a price.  She knew that the purchase of a general or a
viceroy was beyond her means, but she hoped that the jailers who had
the two young men in charge, whoever they were, might be bribed by her
jewels to let them escape.  It was with a kind of exaltation that she
made a mental account of the gems, thinking that the price she had paid
for them might not have been in vain.  The question that most occupied
her mind was what temper Phradates would be in, for she doubted not
that he would seek to take advantage of her situation.  Finding
Artemisia quiet at last, she lay down and resolutely closed her eyes.

As soon as the Tyrian had occupied the house, his slaves brought food
and wine in his name to the young women.  Thais accepted it.

"Tell thy master that we have no women to dress us," she said.

"How can you receive anything from that man?" Artemisia exclaimed
indignantly, when the slaves had gone.

"If I had my wish, I would drive this through his heart," Thais
replied, catching up a small dagger that she sometimes carried in her
bosom.  "My desire to aid Chares and Clearchus is no less strong than
thine; but we are women and we must fight as we can, not as we would.
So hide thy grief if thou canst, for it will win pity neither for them
nor for thee."

Artemisia looked at her splendid beauty, heightened by the smouldering
fire in her eyes.  "I feel that I am a child," she said, embracing her.
"I know nothing of the world and I am afraid.  I will trust thee in all
things."

Thais returned her caress.  "Our lovers are in the net," she said, "but
you remember in the story that it was the mouse that freed the lion.
If Phradates sends us the women, he is still my slave, though we are in
his power, and we may hope.  Now, let us eat."

They had scarcely finished when Mena knocked at the door and ushered in
two women of Cyprus, with gleaming black eyes and slender, agile forms.
"My master, the noble Phradates, sends you these," he said, bowing low
before Thais.

"Phradates hath our thanks," she replied gravely.  "Tell him that we
hope to express our gratitude to him in person."

Mena withdrew, and Thais immediately commanded the women to dress her
and Artemisia.  To this task she gave her whole attention, directing
every step with the minutest care, to the least fold of the saffron
chiton.  She chose for her adornment a topaz necklace that seemed to
sparkle with inward fire.  Artemisia she robed simply in white, with a
white rose in her soft, brown hair.

There was an unwonted stir in the house.  Slaves came and went with
messages.  The sound of men's voices rose from below.  Thais was
restless and uneasy.  She paced backward and forward, stopping now and
then before the polished mirror to examine once more the lustrous coils
of her hair, or the arrangement of her silken chiton.  She seemed
expectant, and at every footfall turned her face toward the door; but
the morning wore on, and Phradates did not come.  Finally she sent one
of the Cyprian women down, on pretence of fetching water, to learn what
was going on.  The woman returned with the news that the Tyrian was
there, but of Chares and Clearchus she could learn nothing.

Thais hesitated for a moment.  "Go down again," she said at last, "and
tell Phradates that we are ready to receive him."

The woman took the message, but she came back almost immediately,
saying that Phradates had left the house.

Thais stamped her foot.  "Then we must wait," she said regretfully.  "O
that I were a man this day!"



CHAPTER XXI

PHRADATES TRIUMPHS

The morning sun, shining from a cloudless sky, danced upon the rippling
harbor before the eyes of the two prisoners as they were led to the
Royal Citadel where Memnon had established himself.  The Rhodian had
been placed in command of all the western border of the empire after
the disaster on the Granicus, and his authority was nominally supreme.

They were conducted to an antechamber of the council room to await
their turn.  They found themselves surrounded by a throng in which the
Greeks far outnumbered the barbarians.  Sullen looks were levelled at
them by the officers who came and went.  Ephialtes, who had been exiled
from Athens, smiled at them mockingly.  Neoptolemus, the Lyncestian,
and Amyntas, son of Antiochus, who had been concerned in the murder of
Philip, Thrasybulus, and others who had become exiles from their native
land for various crimes, passed them in the crowd of civil and military
officials whose faces and garb indicated the widely scattered races
that they represented.

"See," Clearchus said to Chares.  "There goes the Tyrian!"

Phradates was making his way through the hall, holding his head high
and ignoring the salutes that were offered to him.  He wore a
magnificent cloak of purple, under which he concealed his maimed right
arm, and his spurs clanked on the marble floor.

"They are the same spurs he used to get away with from the battle,"
Chares observed.  "He seems to be a person of some importance here, and
that will do us no good."

"He has us this time safely enough," Clearchus said bitterly.

"That is true," Chares replied.  "I wish I had struck him harder!  His
head must be of iron."

"Do you think the oracle was accomplished when we found Artemisia?"
Clearchus inquired anxiously.

"I do not know," the Theban replied, "but only Phœbus can save us
now."

"Come along," the captain of the guard said roughly, "the general is
waiting for you."

He led them into the council room, where Memnon sat behind a table
littered with documents.  With him were Orontobates, Phradates, and a
few of the higher officers.  The famous Rhodian raised his head from
the letter that he had been reading and looked keenly at the two young
men.

"You are charged with being spies of the Macedonian," he said abruptly.
"What have you to reply?"

"It is not true," Chares answered.  "We are here on private business
alone."

"He lies!" Phradates broke in.  "I saw them both at Thebes in the army
of Alexander, and again in the battle of the Granicus.  They are spies!"

"What he says is partly true," Chares replied coolly, "but it also true
that we are not spies and that he knows it.  We have left the army of
Alexander."

"Why did you come here?" Memnon asked.

"We came in search of Artemisia, a young woman of Athens," Clearchus
said.  "She was stolen before the war began.  We followed the army in
obedience to the oracle at Delphi for the purpose of finding her.  When
we learned that she was here, we came hither to seek her."

"It is all false," Phradates cried.  "Put them to the torture and they
will reveal the truth!"

"Spoken like a Phœnician," Chares said scornfully, "but it is only
among savages that they torture free men.  Do you remember, Tyrian,
what was done to you when you came as a spy to Thebes?"

Phradates bit his lip and was silent.

"Alexander sent thee back to Tyre," Chares continued, "and he gave thee
a message to deliver to thy king, Azemilcus.  Hast thou forgotten it?
He told thee to bid him prepare the altar in the temple of Heracles,
for that he was coming with his army to make sacrifice there.  He is on
his way."

Chares spoke boldly, and the threat conveyed in his words had an
evident effect upon the minds of the men who heard him.  Many of them,
like Phradates, had seen with their own eyes the impetuous charge of
the Macedonians across the Granicus, and they knew in their hearts that
the Great King had no troops that could have withstood it.  Sardis,
Ephesus, Miletus, and all the Carian cities in the north had fallen,
and the mutterings of the approaching storm were all about them.  Would
the great walls of Halicarnassus, upon which they had been toiling,
give them shelter?  Misgiving seized their minds, and they looked
questioningly at each other and at Memnon.  None could read what was
passing in the thoughts of the wily Rhodian, but no doubt he reflected
upon the jealousy of the Persians, his masters, which had forbidden him
to lead his Greeks into the battle of the Granicus and which still
encompassed him, all the more vigilant because of his promotion.  He
must have thought, too, of his wife and children, hostages in the hands
of Darius.  He knew that Clearchus and Chares had told the truth.
Would it not be well to have two young men of influence in Greece and
on terms of intimacy with Alexander to speak for him in case of need?

With his eyes on Memnon's furrowed face, Clearchus, with the subtle
intelligence of an Athenian, divined something of what was passing in
his mind.

"Say no more," he whispered to Chares.  "He will save us if he can."

Memnon at last raised his head and glanced about him.  "I am inclined
to think that the story these men tell is true," he said deliberately.

An angry murmur rose from the crowd, and Phradates' face flushed darkly.

"Who was the girl in the litter?" said Ephialtes.  "Was she this
Artemisia whom they were seeking?"

There was a sneer in the exile's tone that brought the blood to Chares'
cheek.

"She was not," he answered.  "She was Thais.  You may have seen her,
Ephialtes, before they drove you from Athens."

"Thais?" Thrasybulus said.  "Why not send for her?  She may be able to
tell whether these speak truth or falsehood."

"Let her be brought before us," Memnon commanded.  "Remove the
prisoners until she comes.  My Lord Orontobates, I wish to consult with
you concerning the disposition of the fleet."

Clearchus and Chares were conducted back to the antechamber, while a
tall, handsome man, wearing the headdress and insignia of a Persian
noble of high rank, bent beside the Rhodian over a map which showed the
coast on either side of the city.  Although Memnon had been made
general and civil governor of the western provinces, he well knew that
Orontobates had been placed beside him to watch every act of his, and
that the Great King was bound, even though it might be against his own
judgment, to take the word of the Persian before that of the mercenary.
It was no wonder that the brow of the general was thoughtful and his
face careworn, surrounded as he was by traps and pitfalls, and with the
terrible army that he had been chosen to defeat drawing hourly more
near.

They were still studying headland and bay when Thais and her escort
arrived.  As if by accident, she took her position full in the sunlight
that streamed in through a lofty window cut in the gray stone wall of
the fortress.  There was a stir of surprise in the room as she entered,
and the gaze of every man was bent upon her.  The bright flood touched
the coils of her hair and filled them with changing gleams.  It bathed
her face in a rich glow, warm and delicate as the blush upon the petals
of a rose.  The folds of her chiton, leaving bare the rounded grace of
her neck and the swell of her bosom, swept down to her little white
feet, shod with saffron sandals, and revealed the firm curves of her
figure, youthful, erect, and elastic as a wand of willow.  The yellow
light sparkled and ran through the topaz chain that rose and fell with
her breathing.

As she stood there, a butterfly danced in upon the sunlight, fluttered
about her head, and finally settled upon her hair, slowly opening and
shutting its red-brown wings, mottled with darker spots.  Like a sudden
breeze in a ripened field of grain, a whisper of admiration and
superstitious wonder ran through the room.  Thais raised her eyes, and
the shadow of a smile parted her crimson lips, showing the pearly gleam
of her teeth.

Thus for a moment she stood in the sunlight before the gaze of the
assemblage that thronged about the Rhodian general.  The flower of her
womanhood seemed to exhale a nameless, sensuous fascination, like the
strange perfume of a rare exotic, the spell of which was longing and
desire.

"Bring in the prisoners," Memnon said.

Clearchus and Chares were led into the room before Thais.  She turned
to them with a swift warning in her glance that stopped the words of
protest on the lips of the Theban.

"Leave them to me," her eyes seemed to say.

"Do you know these men?" Memnon asked courteously.

"I know them," she assented, in a voice that sounded singularly sweet
and timid.  "They are Chares, who was of Thebes, and Clearchus, of
Athens."

"Can you tell what brought them here?" Memnon asked.

"They left Athens in search of Artemisia, as all Athens knows," Thais
returned.

Her answer had substantiated the story of the prisoners.  Memnon turned
inquiringly to Orontobates.

"It may be that this is some trick," the Persian said softly, in his
own tongue.  "Who knows that they have not concerted this story for
this occasion?"

"My lord's suspicion is just," Thais returned, smiling upon Orontobates
and addressing him in his own language; "but he will observe that I
have not seen these men since they left Athens, and, indeed, I did not
know they were here."

"Then why did you come here yourself?" Orontobates asked, returning her
smile.

"I came because I learned that Artemisia was here, and I, too, wished
to find her," Thais replied.

Orontobates shook his head incredulously.  "If this young woman, for
whom all Athens seems to be seeking, is here in Halicarnassus,
doubtless she can be found," he remarked.

"My lord is right," Thais said quietly, "for I have found her."

"Shall we send for her?" Memnon asked, turning to Orontobates, who sat
thoughtfully stroking his beard, "or shall we set the prisoners free?"

"Thou knowest that Darius commanded us to send him our captives, so
that he might learn for himself concerning the Macedonians," the
Persian replied.  "We have had few to send, and I think he would like
to question these men.  By their own confession, they have been in
Alexander's army.  Dost thou not think it might be well to obey the
command relating to them?"

Memnon saw that if he refused he might be charged with disobedience to
the Great King, whose lightest word was law, and he could not afford to
take the risk.

"Thy words are wise," he said smoothly, hiding the anger that he felt
at the Persian's interference.  "It shall be as thou hast said.  Take
away the prisoners," he added to the guard, "and let them be sent
to-night to Babylon with the messenger who is to carry my letters to
King Darius, my master,--may he live forever!"

"It is well," said Orontobates, with a shade of mockery in his voice.

Clearchus' face grew pale.  The thought that Artemisia was so near and
that he was about to be separated from her, perhaps forever, without
being permitted to see her again, was a blow under which he staggered.

"Why send us both?" Chares demanded, restraining himself with an
effort.  "I know all that Clearchus knows, and I will tell it freely to
the Great King if you will let him go free."

"Two are better than one," Orontobates said.  "Thou wilt tell what thou
knowest, whether freely or not."

"Take them away," Memnon said harshly, "and see that they speak with
nobody before their departure."

Thais followed them with her eyes to the door, where Chares turned his
head and smiled at her.  She gave him back the smile bravely; but as he
passed out of her sight her face changed and became like marble.  Her
eyes sought those of Orontobates, and she spoke to him in an even voice
that vibrated with the intensity of her passion.

"I am a woman, O Persian," she said, "but I say to thee and to thy
master that if harm befalls either of these men, the proudest palaces
of thy kings shall be their funeral pyre."

A dead hush followed this defiance, and all eyes were turned upon the
Persian in expectation of an outbreak; but Orontobates merely smiled
upon her as though she were a petulant child and turned again to the
study of the maps spread out before him.



CHAPTER XXII

THE VISION OF DANIEL, THE VICEROY

Silent and thoughtful in the midst of the swarthy Arabian guard
commanded by Nathan the Israelite, who bore Memnon's letters to the
Great King, Clearchus and Chares rode out of the eastern gate of
Halicarnassus.  Even the Theban's buoyant nature for once was subdued.
They were going to what seemed certain death, and they were leaving
behind them those they loved most on earth.

To Clearchus this thought was unbearable.  He cared not what happened,
now that the last hope of rescuing Artemisia was gone.  What would
become of her?  Who could aid her now?  He rode with his head sunk on
his breast, seeing and hearing nothing of what went on around him.  A
low fever filled his veins, dulling his senses and leaving him only
half conscious of their situation.  At times he imagined it was all a
dream, from which he would awake, still free to continue the search for
his lost love.  Then a realization of the truth would return to him,
and he groaned aloud in his despair.

The response of the oracle of Delphi, which had supported him, now
seemed like a mockery.  It had been fulfilled, he thought, when in
truth he found Artemisia in the track that Alexander's army was to
follow.  The Gods had made him their sport, and he fancied them smiling
down from the heavens upon his agony.  The light of the sun became
hateful to him.

So he rode, mile after mile and day after day, in listless and inert
abandonment to his fate.  Who could resist the will of the Gods?  He
ate almost nothing, and his strength wasted visibly, while lines of
suffering deepened on his face.

In vain Chares sought to rouse him.  He returned patient answers to the
arguments of the Theban, but his power of effort was gone.  In the
first stages of their journey Chares watched over him constantly to
prevent him from destroying himself in his despair.

Through Lycia, Pisidia, and Cilicia they passed, finding fresh relays
of horses at each station along the great highway that had been
established by the predecessors of Darius.  Through the Amanic Gates
they galloped at last, and paused at Thapsacus, on the banks of the
mighty Euphrates, where, more than a century and a half before, the Ten
Thousand had halted in their desperate dash upon Babylon.

Chares had long ago recovered his cheerful temper.  Of what lay before
them when they reached the Persian capital he had ceased to think.  The
condition of Clearchus, and the fact that they had advanced so far
toward the heart of the Persian empire, made escape practically
impossible.  The Theban was regarded rather as a comrade than an enemy
by the Arabs of the guard, and his unfailing good nature made the long
journey seem less wearisome.

With Nathan he had formed a solid friendship.  The young Israelite,
browned by the sun and wind, was naturally taciturn and inclined to
silence.  His form was active and sinewy, and his muscles seemed always
on the alert.  In his dark eyes burned the mystic intelligence and
indomitable earnestness of his race.  He rode usually in advance of the
little troop, and, although often he seemed wrapped in contemplation,
nothing ever escaped him.  The contrast between him and the careless,
talkative Theban, with his laughing blue eyes and yellow hair, was as
complete as possible; and it may have been this very difference in
their temperaments that drew them together.

Nathan showed an extraordinary interest in all that related to
Alexander, even in his personal appearance and what he had said on this
or that occasion.  He would listen by the hour while Chares talked of
the young Macedonian king, his people, and his court.  No suspicion
entered the Theban's mind that Nathan was seeking information for the
use of his superiors in Babylon.  He would have dismissed such a
thought as unjust.  The Israelite inquired little about Alexander's
army, and seemed rather desirous of forming in his own mind a portrait
of the young leader.  That he reflected deeply upon what Chares told
him was shown by the questions that he asked from time to time for the
purpose of enabling him to fill out some incomplete detail.

Chares sometimes wondered whether the interest that Nathan displayed in
Alexander could have any religious bearing.  He had heard from
Aristotle of the mysterious and peculiar belief of the Israelites, who
worshipped only one God, and who would not suffer an image of Him to be
set up in their temple; but his ideas regarding their faith were
confused with stories of a hundred other equally insignificant tribes.

His attention was aroused one day by a sudden change in the young
Israelite.  He became both restless and abstracted.  Often he returned
no answer to the questions that the Theban put to him, and there seemed
to be an unusual luminous depth in his dark eyes.  At times his lips
moved as though he were conversing with unseen companions.  There was a
strangeness in his actions and expression that caused even the heedless
Theban to feel a vague uneasiness.  Toward nightfall, Clearchus, as
though drawn by some undefinable bond of sympathy, rode forward and
took his place beside Nathan.  It was the first time that this had
happened since they left Halicarnassus, and Chares watched them with
amazement.  Neither spoke, but each appeared conscious of the other's
presence, and Chares imagined that there was more animation in
Clearchus' glance when they halted for the night.  At the same time he
had a dim sense that something was going on between them that he could
not understand.

After the evening meal Nathan sat before the tent that he always
occupied with his two prisoners when they spent the night away from
human habitation.  Clearchus lay beside him, with his head resting on
his hand.  The Arabs were sleeping in a group beside the tethered
horses.

In the measureless depths of the sky the great stars blazed with a
steady light.  Strange cries of night birds came from the broad river,
sweeping silently past them in the darkness.  The howl of a jackal
sounded faintly in the distance.

Nathan's face was turned toward the south, as though his eyes could see
there the walls of the city in whose narrow streets he had played with
his companions as a boy.  Presently he began to speak.

"He will requite His enemies and those who scorn Him," the Israelite
said.  "Terrible is His wrath!"

"Is He more powerful than Zeus?" said Clearchus, seeming to comprehend
what Nathan meant.

"Yea," Nathan answered solemnly.  "Thy Gods are as nothing before Him.
Baal He overthrew in Babylon with all his brood."

"I have heard that it was the Persians and not thy people who smote
Nebuchadnezzar," Clearchus replied.  "Is He the God of the Persians,
too?"

"They paid Him honor under the name of Ormazd," the Israelite replied.
"While they were faithful to Him, nothing could stand against them; but
they have turned their faces from Him, and their time has come.  He
hath weighed them in His balance, one by one--Chaldean, Egyptian,
Assyrian, Phœnician, and Mede.  He hath given the victory into their
hands; and one by one hath He smitten them until they were humbled in
the dust.  There is no God but God."

"What hath He done for thee?" the Athenian asked.

"He hath delivered me out of the snares of mine enemies," Nathan
replied earnestly, "even when they compassed me about in wrath.  Once
and again hath He brought my people out of bondage because they
worshipped Him alone.  He hath made good His promise.  He hath never
failed us in our hour of need.  By the mouths of His holy men hath He
given us knowledge of that which is to come; and now once more He will
show to the sons of men His wrath and His favor.  He shall put down the
mighty from their seats."

Chares saw that Nathan's hands were trembling as they lay clasped upon
his knees and that drops of moisture glistened upon his forehead.

"His word was given to Daniel, viceroy of the Great King, Belshazzar,
in the palace at Susa by the waters of the river Ulai in the time of my
fathers' fathers," the Israelite continued.  "The mysteries of the
future were laid bare to him by Gabriel, Jehovah's servant; and behold,
he saw standing before the river, a ram with two horns; and the two
horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher came
up last.  He saw the ram pushing westward and northward and southward,
so that no beasts might stand against him.  Neither was there any that
could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will and
became great.  Lo, these are the words of Daniel, the viceroy.

"And as he stood considering, behold, an he goat came from the West on
the face of the whole earth and he touched not the ground.  And the he
goat had a great horn between his eyes; and that was thy king, who
cometh.  And while Daniel looked, he saw the he goat come close to the
ram and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast
him down to the ground and stamped upon him, and there was none that
could deliver the ram from him.  These things were seen of Daniel in
olden times; and the hour is at hand."

There was silence for a moment, and then Clearchus said slowly:--

"If it is written that Alexander shall overthrow the Great King, why
dost thou lead us captives to Babylon?"

"I know not," Nathan replied, "but the command was laid upon me, and it
is Jehovah's will that I should obey.  Were it not so, He would have
told me.  How can we know His ways?  Who are we that we should question
His wisdom?  Yet in the end, I have faith that it will be well with
thee; for to Him nothing is impossible."

It was long before Clearchus closed his eyes in sleep that night.  He
lay looking upward at the tranquil and steadfast stars and revolving in
his mind the words of the Israelite.  Could it be that a Divinity
greater than all others existed in the universe, whose will ruled all
things?  The idea took possession of him, and at the same time hope was
renewed in his breast.  The Gods whom he had honored had deserted him;
perhaps the God of Israel could help him.



CHAPTER XXIII

IN THE WHIRLWIND'S TRACK

Long before Nathan with his captives reached the Persian capital, the
sentinels upon the towers of Halicarnassus gave warning of the approach
of Alexander's army.  Fresh from the storming of stubborn Miletus, the
Macedonians advanced against the lofty walls which sheltered the army
of Memnon, nearly as numerous as their own.  At the first alarm the
braying of trumpets sounded through the city, and soldiers filled the
streets, marching quickly towards the Mylasan Gate.

Iphicrates, perched high on the walls with the corps of citizen
defenders to which he belonged, watched the regular troops making ready
for their sally.  He held a spear in his hand and a sword was buckled
about his fat sides.

"I wish I was with them," said a youth beside him, little more than a
boy, gazing down upon the array.

"It's cooler up here--and safer too," the old money-lender muttered,
wiping his brow.

"They will cut the Macedonians to pieces," the boy exclaimed, "and I
shall have no part in the victory."

"Patience!" Iphicrates answered.  "Thy chance will come, perhaps."

The boy turned and looked outward towards the attacking army.  "They
have stopped," he cried.  "They are afraid!"

Iphicrates shaded his eyes with his hand.  The Macedonians indeed had
halted amid the clouds of dust that their feet had raised and they
seemed to be in some confusion.  At that moment the gate was thrown
open and the garrison emerged in a wide, glittering column.  The walls
rang with cheers.  The column advanced, wheeled, and deployed in a
long, deep line, confronting the enemy.  It was evidently Memnon's plan
to strike a blow that might prove decisive while the Macedonians were
still wearied from their march and before they were able to form.  His
archers sent a flight of arrows towards the Macedonian ranks and his
spearmen prepared to charge.

Then behind the dust-cloud rose a sound that seemed to the watchers
upon the walls like the murmur of a mighty river.  The advance guard of
the Macedonians scattered, and in its place appeared the solid front of
the phalanx with its forest of sarissas.

"What are they singing?" asked the boy, gazing wide-eyed upon the
changing scene.

"It is the pæan; they are calling upon the Gods," Iphicrates replied,
again mopping his face.

"It is like a tragedy in a theatre," the boy said, catching his breath
in the intensity of his excitement.  "Look!  Who is that?"

Across the front of the Macedonians rode a man upon a great black horse
that curvetted and tossed the foam from his bit.  The rider's armor
flashed through the dust and his white plumes nodded from his helmet.

"That must be Alexander himself," Iphicrates replied.  "Ah, here they
come!"

Louder rose the pæan as the phalanx swept forward.  The space that
divided the two armies seemed to shrink away until they almost touched.
Then, as with one impulse, the sarissas of the foremost Macedonian
ranks dropped forward, until their points were level with the breasts
of the foe, and were driven home by the impulse of the charge.  The
lines of the defenders bent, swayed, and broke.  Order gave place to
confusion.  Here and there small parties began to run back toward the
gate they had left so bravely half an hour before.

"We are beaten!" sobbed the boy on the wall.

"It is cooler up here," Iphicrates replied mechanically.  A chill ran
through his bulk as though he already felt the edge of the swords that
were rising and falling in the hands of the victors.

The swiftest of the fugitives, throwing away their weapons, had already
dashed panting through the gate.  Others crowded behind them, and the
opening quickly became choked by a mass of men who trampled each other
in their eagerness to get inside the walls.  The cavalry and
light-armed troops of the Macedonians pressed close at their heels,
giving them no respite from their terror.

Of the army of Halicarnassus hardly a remnant would have escaped had
not the rain of missiles and arrows from the walls checked the
Macedonian advance.  As soon as the enemy was within range the order
was given to the archers and slingers, of whom there were thousands
posted upon the ramparts.  They showered stones and arrows upon the
pursuing force, and the catapults sent huge darts buzzing down among
the close-packed squadrons.

The boy beside Iphicrates was twanging away with his bow as fast as he
could fit his arrows to the cord.

"I hit one!" he cried, following the course of a shaft with his eyes.
"I saw him fall!  He went right over backward!"

He began shooting again with renewed ardor.

Meantime a few squadrons of the bravest men in Memnon's forces rallied
and made a brief stand before the gate.  They succeeded in halting the
Macedonians long enough to enable their comrades to swarm through to
safety; but soon they were swept off their feet and hurled back toward
the battlements.  To their dismay, they found the great gate closed
against them.  They were cut down as they ran hither and thither,
seeking in vain for a place of refuge.

Iphicrates watched the butchery with horrible fascination.  His face
was mottled, and the spear in his hand shook like a blade of corn.

"Cowards!" cried the boy with flashing eyes, "why did they not let them
in?"

A shout of warning sounded along the crest of the wall.  The Macedonian
slingers and archers had turned their weapons against it, and they
swept the parapet with a deadly storm that drove the defenders to
shelter.  The hissing of the arrows and the humming of the balls of
lead from the slings filled the air.  The boy beside Iphicrates uttered
a cry, threw up his arms, and fell with a red mark on his forehead.

"Mother!" he murmured, and lay still.

Iphicrates dropped to his hands and knees and crawled away, shaking
with the palsy of fear.

There was little sleep in Halicarnassus that night.  Soldier and
citizen labored together, and morning found them still toiling upon the
walls, preparing for what they knew was to come.  The city was in the
iron grip of the siege.

By day and by night the great walls crumbled before the unremitting
assaults of the enemy.  The Macedonians filled in the wide ditch,
raised mounds and towers, and burrowed beneath the foundations of the
defences like moles.  There was no lack of provisions in the city, for
Memnon's fleet came and went with nothing to oppose it, bringing corn
and supplies as they were needed.  It had been the hope of the
inhabitants that Alexander would withdraw when he had measured the
difficulty of the task before him.  They had ground for the belief that
disturbances might be fomented in Greece that would cause him to turn
his attention to that quarter.  But their plans miscarried.  Antipater
held Greece with a firm hand and the siege continued.

No man was permitted to lay aside his armor, for the Macedonians
attacked at every hour.  Again and again the city was roused in the
dead of night by the crash of falling battlements, and the defenders
were obliged to guard some new breach while they repaired the damage as
best they might.  They made frequent sallies, attacking the formidable
engines that had been constructed by the enemy.  Several of them were
destroyed in this way, but they were replaced by new ones more powerful
than their predecessors.

Orontobates sent urgent messages to his master, Darius, telling him of
the desperate situation and begging for succor; but none came.  What
was one city, rich and populous though it might be, to a monarch who
counted his cities by the thousand?  The brave garrison was left to its
fate, fighting obstinately against its doom.  The faces of the men grew
haggard with watching and anxiety.  Custom and order were forgotten.
Rich and poor, slave and freeman, labored side by side against the
inevitable; and ever, like men swimming against the current, they felt
the resistless pressure bearing them down.

Artemisia and Thais, shut up in the house of Iphicrates, awaited the
result of the siege.  The younger woman was overcome at first when she
learned that Clearchus was to be sent to Babylon, but Thais managed to
convince her that he was in no danger, and a message that was brought
to them before the siege began went far to revive her hope.  One of the
Cyprian women came back from the market with a basket of grapes.  She
said that a young man had followed her and asked her whether she did
not belong to Thais.  She replied that she did.

"Then tell her," the stranger said, "that Nathan the Israelite bids her
have no fear."

With that, he vanished in the crowd, and she brought the message.

They learned without much difficulty who Nathan was, and the mysterious
message consoled them.  Artemisia spoke of it with a childlike faith
that touched Thais' heart.

"When they return, they will rejoin the army of Alexander," she said.
"If we could only escape to the Macedonians."

"We shall manage it in some way," Thais replied.  "Leave it to me."

Phradates, whose broken wrist prevented him from taking part in the
fighting, came often to visit them.  He had never forgotten his glimpse
of the face of Thais as it appeared in the great slave market before
the ruined city of Thebes.  His defeat that day was rendered more
bitter in the recollection by the thought that she had been a witness
of it.  The face had haunted him until it had become a part of his
life.  After her return to Athens he had dogged her footsteps until he
was called away to join the army of the satraps.

When he saw her again before Memnon's tribunal, the fascination of her
beauty took complete possession of him.  His anger against Chares was
forgotten, and he was even glad when his rival was sent to Babylon
instead of being condemned to death.  He believed that the Theban would
never come back, and the execution of the prisoners in Halicarnassus
might have proved an insurmountable barrier between him and Thais.

Phradates knew that he had the young woman in his power, but he could
not bring himself to make use of this advantage.  He would not force a
triumph; he must have a complete surrender.  Day by day he hoped to
obtain it.  He found a half promise in her words, a suggestion of
tenderness in her manner, and at times an implied appeal to his
generosity that made his hope almost a certainty.  When he grew
impatient, the fear of losing her entirely restrained him.  Thus he
fell more and more completely under her domination, like a man who sips
a narcotic, yielding by little and little to its power, until his will
to resist is gone, and he gives himself wholly to its subtle
intoxication, unwittingly a captive.

After one of her interviews with him, Thais often threw herself down,
disgusted with the part that she was forced to play.  She grew angry at
Artemisia's failure to understand the necessity of what she was doing.
When the smile faded from her lips as the door closed upon the
Phœnician, she found Artemisia's eyes fixed upon her in sorrowful
reproach.

"Why do you look at me like that?" she exclaimed petulantly.  "Speak
out, if you must!"

Artemisia bent her head and remained silent.

"Do you think I love him?" Thais demanded scornfully, coming close to
her.  "Do you believe that I am false to Chares?  Tell me, if you do."

"I do not," Artemisia replied hesitatingly.  "Only it seems to me--"

"It seems to you that I do it too well," Thais exclaimed, completing
her thought.  "What would you do if you were shut up with an untamed
tiger?  You may give thanks to your Artemis in your innocence that I
have been able so far to hold this one in check."

"Forgive me," Artemisia cried, embracing her.  "I know you must, and
yet--I am sorry for it, my sister."

Artemisia often made use of this title, never dreaming how true it was,
and it always awakened a pang of tenderness in Thais' heart.  She
returned the embrace and forgave her, although she felt that Artemisia
could not really understand, try as she might.

"I wish the siege would end!" Thais said wearily.  "If you knew how
much I loathe all this, you would have more pity."

Her wish was granted at last.  Even the most hopeful inhabitant of the
city understood that neither flesh nor stone could hold out much longer
against the dogged Macedonian assault.  Memnon knew that unless the
battering rams and catapults could be destroyed the city must fall.
There were breaches in the massive walls and the great towers were
tottering.  If he could gain a little more time, reinforcements might
arrive and compel Alexander to raise the siege.  Mustering his best
remaining troops, he poured them out of the Triple Gate and through the
gaps in the wall upon the works of the enemy.  The attack was repulsed
without accomplishing its object; and when the garrison sought to
regain the defences, scores were slain at the wall and hundreds more in
the moat, where they were precipitated by the breaking of the bridge
leading to the gate.

It was plain that the end was at hand.  The Rhodian felt that the city
was at the mercy of the young king, and he hastened to take advantage
of the respite that Alexander's forbearance allowed him.  At midnight
after this last defeat the evacuation began.  The troops were withdrawn
to the Royal Citadel and to the Salmacis, where they could still remain
in touch with their ships.  The greater part of the population fled to
the harbor and sought escape in the merchant vessels which were putting
to sea.  Azemilcus, king of Tyre, who had been acting with the fleet,
made ready a trireme in which to send home the wounded among the
Tyrians.  He placed it under the command of Phradates.

Thais learned from the slave women that the young Phœnician was
making ready to depart in haste.

"If we are to escape, we must do it now," she said hurriedly to
Artemisia.  "He will try to take us with him."

"Can we not refuse to go?" Artemisia replied.

"No," Thais responded.  "To refuse him would be to open his eyes, and
he would certainly take us by force.  Flight is our only hope."

She gathered her jewels into a packet and placed it in her bosom.  She
then ordered the women to muffle them in long cloaks that concealed
their faces.

"Go down and find out who is there," she said.

One of the women brought word that Phradates had gone to the harbor to
see that all was in readiness, and that Mena was also absent.  Thais
led the way boldly down the stairs and out of the house, followed by
Artemisia and the two women.  The slaves who were at work below stared
at them, but in the absence of their master none ventured to stop them.
They gained the street in safety, and were immediately swept away in
the clamoring, terror-stricken streams of fugitives who were pouring
toward the harbor.  A lofty tower that had been built beside the Triple
Gate was on fire.  The flames roared up the sides of the structure,
bursting from its windows and loopholes, and converting it into a
gigantic torch.  They spread quickly to the houses nearest the walls,
sending volumes of reddened smoke rolling over the harbor.  The howling
of dogs mingled with the shouts of men and the wailing of women who
clasped their children to their breasts.

Iphicrates left the walls with his comrades in arms and plunged into
the crowded streets.  He had intended to seek his own house in the hope
of finding some remains of his hoard untouched; but the panic seized
him, and he changed his direction.  He determined to gain the Royal
Citadel, which he knew was to be defended against the Macedonians.
Thinking only of his own safety, he forced his way through the press,
pushing women and children aside in his haste.  Blinded by the terror
that possessed him, he took no heed of a small, dark-skinned man with
sharp features who reeled back from the thrust of his elbow.  Even if
he had noticed that the figure fell in behind him, following his
footsteps like a shadow, he would have taken him only for one of the
fugitives.

Steeped in the contagion of fear, the money-lender hardly noticed where
he went.  He soon became exhausted by his struggle with the crowd, and
he heaved a sigh of relief when he found himself at last in a street
that was comparatively deserted.  He overlooked the fact that the few
persons whom he met were hurrying the other way, and it was not until
he was brought to a halt by a blank wall that he recognized his
surroundings.  He had entered a road from which there was no outlet.

He halted in dismay.  The shadow behind him glided into a doorway and
crouched out of sight.  The street was hemmed in by tall buildings that
had been emptied of their tenants, and the light of the burning tower
flickered redly upon the upper walls, increasing the gloom below.  A
sense of loneliness and desertion smote him.  He felt himself suddenly
cut off from human companionship.  His heart beat thickly and heavily.
He seemed to be strangling under the oppression of a nameless and
deadly horror.

He turned and rushed back in the direction whence he had come.  As he
passed the doorway within which the shadow had disappeared, a light
form bounded out upon him.  There was a flash of steel; a lean arm was
thrust forward and seemed to touch him lightly on the back beneath his
shoulder.  He fell upon his face with a choking cry; the shadow leaped
over him, fled, and vanished, leaving him motionless where he lay.

Thais and Artemisia were borne forward in the crowd without power to
choose the direction of their flight.  In the frantic masses of
humanity, all fighting toward the harbor, they saw women and children
trampled underfoot; and they clung to each other in desperation,
knowing that if they fell, they would never be able to rise.  The
maddened crowd swept them on to the wharves, where the agitated waters
of the harbor spread before them like a lake of blood in the glare of
the conflagration.

Utterly bewildered and unable to extricate themselves, the young women
were drawn hither and thither by the eddies of the mob as it rushed
feverishly from one vessel to another, seeking means of escape.
Suddenly they found themselves wedged in before a double line of
soldiers drawn up before the gangway of a trireme, the sides of which
loomed dark above their heads.  Torches shed a smoky light upon the
agonized faces of the throng, held at bay by the spears of the guard.
Warning shouts rose from the darkness, followed by a swaying motion of
the crowd which divided before the rush of a compact body of men making
toward the vessel.  Thais and Artemisia felt themselves crushed forward
against the living barrier until they could hardly breathe.  They heard
the shouting and cursing of the soldiers advancing from the rear into
the circle of torchlight.  The pressure became unbearable.  They had
given themselves up for lost, when, before they knew what was taking
place, they were seized and borne upward.  Thais recovered her senses
to find herself seated upon the deck of the trireme, with Artemisia's
head in her lap.

"Why did you run away?" asked a familiar voice reproachfully.

She looked up and saw Phradates standing before her.  "It is fate!"
flashed through her mind.

"We thought you had deserted us, and we were frightened," she replied.

"I searched everywhere for you," he said.  "Astarte must have guided
you here."

He turned and commanded the sailors to cast off.  The great vessel
swung slowly from the wharf, leaving behind the mass of unhappy
fugitives, some of whom cursed her, while others stretched out their
arms toward her, praying to the last to be taken on board.  Artemisia
was revived by the cooler air of the harbor.

"Where are we?" she asked faintly, opening her blue eyes.

"We are on the Phœnician trireme, bound, I suppose, for Tyre," Thais
answered bitterly.  "No, it was not my doing," she continued, replying
to her sister's glance of surprise and question.  "I had no more part
in it than you this time.  It is the will of the Gods."

The trireme pointed her brazen beak toward the entrance of the harbor.
The banks of oars which fringed her sides in three rows, one above the
other, like the legs of some gigantic water insect, caught the waves,
and the panic-stricken city began to glide away from her stern.  A
fishing boat, laden with fugitives, drifted across her path.  The sharp
prow struck the side of the hapless little craft and cut through it
like a knife.  For a brief moment the screams of women and children
rose out of the darkness, and then the voices were stifled.

Artemisia hid her face on Thais' shoulder and wept; but Thais, gazing
back on the fiery city, saw the great tower reel and fall, clothed in
flame from base to summit.  The roar of turmoil and terror sounded in
her ears, and she smiled.  The red light danced in her eyes, making
them gleam like opals as she turned them upon Phradates.

"They say thy city hath strong walls, Phœnician," she said.  "Thou
wilt have to build them still stronger, I think."

"They are strong," Phradates answered proudly; "but we shall not need
them, for between us and Alexander stand a million men, ready to lay
down their lives for their king."

Thais raised her white arm and extended it toward the stricken city.

"What shall withstand the Whirlwind?" she said.

In the stern of the trireme sat Mena, gazing thoughtfully back at the
city and wiping the stains from the blade of his dagger.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE GORDIAN KNOT

Alexander kept the anniversary of his departure from Macedon in the
city of Gordium, surrounded by his army, on the wind-swept uplands of
Phrygia.  He reached the place through the drifted snows that blocked
the passes of the Taurus and the rugged hills of Pisidia, subduing on
his way the tribes that had held them for ages, to whom the Great King
himself had deemed it wise to render tribute in exchange for peace.

Looking backward, the young leader of men saw the Ægean coast and all
the territory west of the mountains subject to his rule.  To the rich
and prosperous Grecian cities by the sea he had restored their ancient
rights, and the hostages of the barbarians thronged his camp.  He had
made a beginning, and his heart had confidence in the end.

Parmenio came from Sardis, bringing the troops that had wintered there,
with the siege train and abundance of supplies.  Alexander resolved to
rest until the roads should be settled so that he might strike another
blow.  In games and feasting and martial exercises his army passed the
breathing space permitted before the onslaught.  The camp was filled
with jests devised by the detachments that under Alexander had
conquered stubborn Salagassus, at the expense of the men who had been
idling in Sardis and who were accused of having grown white-faced and
soft in their luxury.  Parmenio's men, in turn, took their revenge in
quips levelled at the young married men, who had been allowed to go to
their homes across the Hellespont and who now returned, bringing the
latest news and gossip of Pella and squadrons of eager recruits.

Leonidas had risen high in the favor of the young king, who had seen
his courage tested in the winter campaign.  He had become one of the
Table Companions, with command of a squadron of cavalry, and even the
proud young Macedonian nobles, jealous of intrusion, had ceased to look
down upon him as an outsider and had taken him into their circle.  Of
all the stories told in the camp, none was more often repeated than
that which related how the Spartan had held the light-armed troops when
they were taken in ambush by the fierce mountaineers before Salagassus,
until Alexander could lead the phalanx to their rescue.

But Leonidas showed no elation.  On the contrary, he seemed more grim
and taciturn than ever.  Gladly would he have given both favor and
command if he could have seen Clearchus and Chares ride into camp
unharmed.  Since they started for Halicarnassus, he had heard nothing
of them, and it was the general opinion in the army that they were
lost.  The Spartan had few friends and none to take the place of these
two.  His grief for them was the deeper because he would not show it.
Though it gnawed at his heart like the stolen fox, he gave no sign.
One night, at table, the jest turned upon Amyntas, who had purchased
gilded armor.

"You are as vain as Chares the Theban," one of the Thessalian officers
said to him, laughing.

Leonidas sought the man out next day.  "You have insulted my friend,
who is not here.  I think you are sorry for it," he said quietly.

The young captain laughed, looking down upon the Spartan from his six
feet of stature.

"You think too much," he replied contemptuously.

With a bound, Leonidas caught him by the throat in a grip that was like
that of a bulldog's jaws.  In vain the Thessalian sought to break his
hold.  His face grew black and his tongue protruded.

"I think you are sorry," Leonidas repeated coolly.

The other, feeling his senses leaving him, made an affirmative motion,
and the hands that gripped his throat relaxed.

"Thou shouldst speak no ill of those who cannot answer," the Spartan
said, turning away and leaving the young man to recover his breath.

When this incident reached the ears of Alexander, as everything that
happened in the camp was sure to do, the king smiled.

"I suppose you would serve me in the same fashion if I should be
unfortunate enough to make such a jest," he said.

"The king does not mock brave men," Leonidas replied.

Alexander laid his hand on the Spartan's shoulder.  "I am Alexander,"
he said, "but I envy Chares and Clearchus.  I wish I had such a friend
as they have."

"Thou hast many," the Spartan replied.  "Wrong them not; but thou hast
small need of mortal friends since the Gods are with thee."

"That is true," Alexander said simply.  He knew that nine-tenths of the
army believed indeed that the Gods had taken him under their
protection.  He seemed to them, in fact, to be himself almost like one
of the immortals in the beauty of his face and form, his perfect
courage, and his unerring judgment.  While the graybeards at home, the
philosophers and statesmen, were predicting failure for him and
demonstrating by precedent and logic that his success was impossible,
he had succeeded.  Already he had wrested from the Great King the
colonies of Greece that for centuries had groaned under Persian
oppression, and while he had not yet stood face to face with the mighty
power that he had attacked, he had confounded the prophets of evil and
proved their wisdom to be no better than folly.  When his captains
looked into his face, ruddy with youth and strength, his smooth brow,
unmarked by a line of care, and felt the charm of his glance,
remembering what he had done, it was impossible for them to think that
he was only a man like themselves.

So when it became known, after the preparations for the southward march
in search of the Great King had been completed, that Alexander had
determined to attempt the loosening of the knot that King Gordius had
bound, there were few of his followers who doubted that he would
accomplish it.  For ages this knot had defied all attempts to guess its
secret.  The farmer, Gordius, driving his oxen into the city, found
himself suddenly raised to the throne.  Tradition told how he had tied
the neap of his cart to the porphyry shaft in the midst of the temple
and how it had been declared that whoso should unbind it should become
lord of all Asia.  In the reign of King Midas, his son, friend of the
great God Dionysus, whose touch had changed the sands of the Pactolus
to gold, many had essayed the task and had failed.  In subsequent years
a long line of ambitious princes and scheming kings had made the
attempt, seeking to propitiate the God with rich gifts, but none had
succeeded.  More lately, few had tried the knot, for the Great King
watched the shrine, and those who were bold enough to tempt Fortune
there soon found themselves summoned to his court, where they were
taught how unwise it was for the weak to aspire to the dominions of the
strong.

It was knowledge of all this that led the soldiers to regard
Alexander's trial of the knot as no less important than a great battle.
If the knot should yield to him, there would no longer be any doubt of
what the Gods intended.

Parmenio, with the caution born of age, shook his head when the king
told him of his project.

"What will you gain?" he asked.  "The army already has complete
confidence in you, and if you fail, some of it will be lost."

"Dost thou believe we shall conquer Darius?" Alexander demanded.

"With the aid of the Gods, I think we shall," Parmenio replied.

"And dost thou not believe in the prophecy regarding the knot?"
Alexander asked again.

Parmenio hesitated and looked confused.  "It is very old," he said at
last, "and we know not whence it came."

"Thy faith is weak," the young leader said severely.  "Fear not; the
cord shall be loosed."

Before the ancient temple the army was drawn up in long lines, archers
and slingers, spearmen and cavalry, find the phalanx in companies and
squadrons.  Alexander, mounted on Bucephalus, rode slowly along the
ranks, splendid in his armor, with the double plume of white brushing
his shoulders on either side.  He halted before the temple, where the
robed priests stood ready to receive him.  Every eye was upon him as he
leaped to the ground and turned his face to the army.

"I go to test the prophecy, whether it be true or false," he cried, in
a clear voice.  "Wait thou my return."

Followed by his generals and by Aristander, the soothsayer, he entered
the portals of the temple after the priests.  They led him to the spot
where the cart was fastened to the pillar.  Its rude construction
indicated its great age.  Its wheels were sections of a tree trunk cut
across.  Its body was carved with strange figures of forgotten Gods and
monsters, colored with pigment that time had dimmed.  Its long neap was
tied at the end to the shaft of stone with strips of cornel bark, brown
and stiff with age and intertwined in curious folds that left no ends
visible.

Alexander looked to the chief priest.  "What is the prophecy?" he
demanded.

The old man unrolled a parchment written over with dim characters, and
read.

"To that man who shall loose the knot bound by King Gordius under
direction of the high Gods," he quavered, "shall be given the realm of
Asia from the southern ocean to the seas of the North.  Once only may
the trial be made.  Thus saith the God."

Outside the temple the soldiers stood silent in their ranks awaiting
the result.  As the aged priest ceased reading and rolled up the
parchment, Alexander drew closer to the magic knot and examined it,
while the others fell back in a wide circle.  Between the priests there
passed a covert glance of understanding as though they said to each
other, "Here is another who will fail, and more gifts will come!"  The
young king saw that no man could ever disentangle the convolutions of
the fastening without tearing the bark.  Avoiding even a pretence of
attempting the impossible, he drew his sword.  The astonished priests
started forward with a cry of protest, but before they could interfere,
the flashing blade fell and the neap of the ancient cart clattered to
the stone floor.

"The knot is loosed," Alexander said quietly, sheathing his sword.

"The God greets thee, Lord of Asia!" the chief priest declared in a
solemn tone, bowing his head.

Rushing out of the temple, the generals repeated Alexander's words to
the army.

"The knot is loosed!  The knot is loosed!  We shall conquer!" ran the
joyful cry through all the ranks, and the young king, listening within
the temple, knew that the hour for decisive action was at hand.



CHAPTER XXV

BESSUS COMES TO BABYLON

Clearchus and Chares gazed with wonder upon the mighty walls of
Babylon, raising their sheer height from the surface of the Euphrates
until the soldiers who paced the lofty parapet seemed like pygmies
against the sky.  The little cavalcade, stained with weeks of travel,
entered the city through a long archway tunnelled in the wall and
flanked on either side by enormous winged lions carved in granite.

Nathan reported to the captain of the gate, who detailed a lieutenant
to escort him to the palace.  Chares snorted his disgust as the young
man took his place at the head of the troop.  His beardless face was
touched with paint, and his eyebrows were darkened with pigment.  His
hands were white and soft.  His flowing robe of blue silk swept
downward on either side below his feet, which were encased in buskins
with long points.  He glanced superciliously at the two prisoners.

"See that they do not try to get away here in the city," he lisped to
Nathan.  "It might be hard to find them--there is such a dirty rabble
here since the Great King himself decided to take the field."

"Have no fear," Nathan replied quietly.

"Fear?" the lieutenant laughed.  "That word, as you will find, is not
known here.  Ride behind me and let your men surround these two dogs."

He adjusted his long robe and inhaled a breath of perfume from a flask
of scent that he carried in his left hand while he gathered up his
reins with the other.  Chares could restrain himself no longer.

"So we are dogs, are we?" he roared, so suddenly that the lieutenant
almost fell from his horse.  "Has no one told you that we Greeks have
to be fed?  Lead on, or I will make half a meal off thy miserable
carcass, though how magpie will agree with me, I know not."

"Seize him!  Seize him!  He talks treason!" screamed the lieutenant,
scarce knowing what he said.  He looked at Nathan's men, who made no
move to obey, but the gleam of their white teeth as they smiled at his
agitation brought him to his senses.  With an air of offended dignity,
he set his horse in motion, and the little troop clattered away into
the city.

Inside the vast circumference of the wall they found streets along
which stood magnificent dwellings surrounded by trees and gardens.  So
ample was the enclosure that ground enough remained unoccupied between
the houses to sustain the population, if necessary, upon its harvests.
Great temples reared their towers above the roofs.  Gay chariots and
gilded litters passed or met them.  Now and then a curious glance was
directed toward them, but beyond this they seemed to attract no
attention.  Everybody was too intent upon his own business or pleasure
to give more than a passing thought to the sun-browned soldiers who
rode wearily behind the brightly accoutred lieutenant of the guard.

As they advanced the streets became narrower and the houses stood close
together, with no space between them for gardens.  Shops and bazaars
appeared on either hand, filled with a bustling, chaffering throng.
The young Greeks saw a strange medley of nations.  Swarthy Egyptians
elbowed dusky merchants from beyond the Indus.  Phœnicians and Jews
drove bargains with large-limbed, blue-eyed men of the North, who wore
shaggy skins upon their shoulders and carried long swords at their
belts.  This part of the city was given over entirely to foreigners,
for among the Persians the old belief still prevailed that no man could
buy or sell without being dishonest, and falsehood was held in
religious abhorrence by the conquerors of the Medes.

Darius was collecting the host which he purposed to lead against
Alexander and with which he intended to crush the adventurous invader.
Military trappings were to be seen everywhere.  The summons of the
Great King had brought within the walls an enormous influx of strangers
from every corner of the empire.

Chares and Clearchus aroused more curiosity as they rode through the
narrower streets of the commercial quarter, where they were forced to
proceed more slowly because of the throngs.  They were soon recognized
as of the race of the enemy.

"See the Greeks!" cried a bare-legged urchin in a shrill voice.

"By Ormazd, that is a big one!" said a soldier in a lounging group,
pointing to Chares.

"Granicus!  Granicus!  Kill the Greeks!" a woman screamed from the top
of one of the flat-roofed houses.

Her imprecation caused a stir among the idlers, who pressed forward to
learn what was the matter and to obtain a better view.  The rumor ran
that there was to be fighting, and customers poured out of booth and
bazaar to see it.  They came good-naturedly, but in such numbers that
they quickly blocked the way and brought the troop to a halt.  Some
mischievous boys began to pelt the horses with pebbles, causing them to
rear and plunge.  One of the animals kicked a man in the crowd, who
struck at the rider with his staff.  The Arab lunged back with the butt
of his lance.  The crowd drew out of the way, jeering and laughing.

Meanwhile the woman on the roof continued her cry.  "Kill the Greeks!"
she screamed.  "Slay them!  Remember the Granicus, where they slew my
son!"

Her words were taken up and repeated by other women who leaned from the
house-tops on either side of the street.  The crowd continued to
gather, those behind pushing the foremost against the plunging horses.
Several were trampled upon.

"Go away," commanded the lieutenant.  "Stand back, you hounds; these
are prisoners for the king."

"Prisoners!" howled the mob.  "Kill the prisoners!  Burn the murderers!
They would assassinate the king!"

The crowd showed signs of becoming inflamed.  Some of the bolder
spirits made a rush for the horsemen, seeking to pull them down and
break the circle that the Arabs had formed about the two Greeks.  The
impact swept the little party into an angle between two houses, from
which there was no escape save through the multitude.  The women began
to shower sticks and tiles upon them from the roofs.  It became
necessary for them to raise their shields to protect their heads from
the missiles.

Nathan turned to the lieutenant, who, with a blanched face, had shrunk
back against the wall.

"Do you intend to stay here?" he demanded sternly.  "Draw your sword
and lead us.  We must cut our way out.  My prisoners are for Darius and
not for these."

"They are too many," the lieutenant whined, with chattering teeth.

"Then give him your sword, since you are afraid to use it," Nathan
said, pointing to Chares.  The Theban snatched the weapon from the
young man's hand.

A javelin hissed through the air, cast by some soldier in the throng,
and stood quivering in the beams behind their heads.  Clearchus pulled
it out and took possession of it.

The mob still held back, agitated by conflicting currents.  The idlers
who had instigated the attack in a spirit of wantonness had no stomach
for fighting, and were struggling backward through the press, seeking a
safe distance.  Their places were taken by reckless and half-drunken
soldiers, who had grown weary of inactivity in the city and were eager
for any excitement, even though they obtained it at the risk of their
lives.  Many of them were little more than savages whose innate
ferocity was aroused by the mere sight of blood.  Some had received
cuts and bruises when the rush was made.  The voice of the mob changed
from a tone of banter to a menacing cry for revenge.

Nathan saw that the non-combatants had succeeded in extricating
themselves, and that the men who now faced them carried weapons in
their hands and were preparing to use them.  The situation was
perilous.  His handful of soldiers were outnumbered by more than a
hundred to one.  The mob was momentarily being reënforced from the
wine-shops and the alleys that honeycombed the district.  It was plain
that there was no escape unless rescue should come quickly.

He raised himself on his horse and anxiously scanned the faces of the
crowd that had pressed back out of harm's way and now stood in
expectant silence.  He knew that through the years that had passed
since the Captivity, many thousands of his race had continued to dwell
in Babylon and that the trade of the city was chiefly in their hands.
He saw their keen dark eyes looking on indifferently from beneath the
awnings that shaded the entrances of their shops.  To them he
determined to appeal.

"Israel!  Israel!" he shouted, raising his open palm above his head.
"In the name of Jehovah, I call upon thee!  To the rescue!"

His cry rang clear in the momentary hush of expectation and reached the
ears for which it was intended.  Upon the outskirts of the mob men
turned to their neighbors.  "He is one of us!  We must save him!" they
said, one to another.  "Israel!  Israel!"  The rallying shout spread
through the dense masses of men into streets where Nathan's voice had
not penetrated.  It ran like a spark in a field of dry corn.  Bearded
men and dark-skinned youths left their occupations and sprang forward,
snatching up such weapons as they found nearest to their hands.  There
was a second shifting of the crowd as they pushed their way toward the
front, pressing in a great circle upon the ring of soldiers who were
hemming Nathan in.

This ring was composed mainly of the fiercest and wildest fighting men
in all the Persian Empire.  It represented the extremes of the Great
King's dominions.  Yellow-haired Scyths, clad in the skins of animals,
stood side by side with gigantic negroes from the mysterious forests of
Ethiopia.  Their language was unknown to each other, but they had been
brought together into a fleeting comradeship by the irresistible and
savage desire which, they held in common for excitement and slaughter.

The Jews attacked this formidable band without hesitation, hurling
fragments of stone, earthen pots, and even the merchandise that had
been displayed in the shops.  The unexpected assault caused a momentary
diversion.  The Scyths and Ethiopians turned and charged into the
crowd, striking with their swords and war clubs indiscriminately at
friend and foe.  Chares tossed the long hair back from his eyes.

"Your friends came just in time," he said to Nathan, "but it would be
ungrateful for us to let them fight alone.  Forward, Clearchus!"

With the Athenian at his side, he swung his horse into the street and
dashed upon the nearest of the Scyths, a giant whose voice had been
bellowing encouragement to his companions.  The lieutenant's gilded
sword fell upon the knotted cords of the man's neck, and he went down
like some great tree in his own northern forests.  His long blade
slipped from his hand, and the Theban, stooping from the back of his
horse and holding by the mane, caught it up.

"Ha!" Chares cried, swinging the heavy weapon above his head, "now we
can get at them."

The Arabs, headed by Nathan, had followed the Greeks and were fighting
beside them in a compact body.  The Jews outside the circle had come to
close quarters and were hacking and thrusting with daggers and
butchers' knives.  Their charge had been so sudden that the Scyths were
nearly broken, but they recovered themselves almost instantly.  A
species of madness seemed to possess them.  They closed in like a pack
of wolves, fighting with each other to get near enough to strike a blow.

News of the outbreak had spread far into the city.  From every side,
thousands drew toward the scene of the battle, driving in the crowds
that were seeking to keep their distance.  They pressed upon the Jews
and forced them helplessly against the weapons of their enemies.  The
number of the Scyths was momentarily increased by the arrival of their
friends.

Nathan saw that the fight was hopeless.  The Israelites, badly armed
and undisciplined, were melting away.  The only chance of escape lay in
regaining the angle in the wall where they had first taken refuge, and
from which they might be able to enter one of the houses.

Chares was wielding the great Scythian sword with both hands.  Whoever
was thrust within its sweep went down.  Its tempered edge shore through
bone and metal, and no parry availed to turn it aside.  Clearchus
fought at his shoulder with his javelin, protecting him against attack
in the rear.

"Back!" Nathan shouted to them.  "We cannot face the odds.  We must
seek the wall!"

"You are right," Chares answered without turning his head.  "We are
coming.  I wish Alexander were here!"

He cut down a negro who had succeeded in getting within the thrust of
Clearchus' lance.

"This is better than Granicus," he panted, as the man rolled upon the
ground.

Clearchus made no reply, and Chares saw that his face was drawn and
pale.  It was clear that he was becoming exhausted.  The Theban was
filled with sudden alarm.

"To the wall!" he cried, wheeling his horse.  "Bear up for a little
yet, and we will show these beasts how Greeks can die!"

They recovered their position with difficulty, followed by the howling
Scyths and negroes.  Half the Arab escort had been killed, and Nathan
was bleeding from a wound in the thigh, though he still fought
gallantly.  Chares alone was both unwearied and unscathed.  He seemed
endowed with the strength of ten men as he faced the fierce onset.  His
aspect as he turned at bay with uplifted sword caused the Scyths for an
instant to hesitate.  Then they charged, clustering around the little
band like a swarm of angry bees, pushing each other forward and
striking over one another's shoulders.  It was clear that the conflict
could not last much longer.  Nathan knew that, once they were down in
that seething and raging mob, they would meet a frightful death.  His
flesh shuddered at the thought of what was to come.

"Down with them!  Down with the Greek dogs!  They give way!" yelled the
mob.

Clearchus glanced at the sea of distorted faces, white, yellow, and
black, and saw thousands of eyes glaring hungrily at them.  A strange
indifference took possession of him.  Why should he strive?  What
mattered it now whether the God of Nathan was mightier than the Gods of
Greece?  Not even the Gods could save them.  If Artemisia were dead, he
would meet her presently in the Elysian Fields.  If she were living,
sooner or later she would join him in the land of shades beyond Styx.
There he would tell her how his heart had suffered.  It was easier to
die than to live, since now he must die.

"It is finished, Chares; we will go together," he called to the Theban.

"Not until I get this one!" Chares replied grimly, nodding toward a man
who crouched before him just beyond the reach of his sword.

The squat figure was bent for a spring.  The man wore a leopard skin
across his muscular shoulders and his little green eyes were fastened
ferociously upon the Theban, watching for an opening.  Clearchus
thought he had never seen anything more repulsive than the flat, broad
face, with its strong, yellow teeth showing like fangs.  As he looked
he heard Nathan's voice beside him.

"O Lord, my God, save now Thy servant, if such be Thy will; for without
Thee, I perish!" cried the Israelite, in an accent of despair.

"Here he comes!" Chares shouted.

The figure of the crouching Scyth bounded forward, and his bright
sword, keen as a razor, flashed in the air.

"I have him!" Chares cried exultingly.  His long blade hissed downward
as he spoke, and the ugly round head rolled in the dirt.  The stroke
was followed by a roar of rage from the Scyths, among whom the man had
evidently been a leader of importance.

"Come on!" the Theban called to them, tauntingly.  "Cowards, why do you
wait?"

The challenge seemed to goad them to desperation.  They came with a
rush in which they threw aside all caution.  The remnant of the little
troop was hurled violently backward.  Chares' sword rose and fell
without a pause; Nathan and the men who remained to him cut and thrust
at the faces of their foes; and even Clearchus, roused by the instinct
of self-preservation, plied his javelin.  The end had come, and nothing
remained but to die bravely.

It seemed to Clearchus that they would be able to hold out for only a
moment longer, when without apparent, reason the attack suddenly
slackened.  The Scyths drew back, leaving a circle of dead and wounded
under the wall.  The mass of humanity that blocked the street swayed
and gave way with a roar of warning and of fear.  The mob was all in
motion.  It seemed to be fleeing before some danger, the nature of
which the objects of its attack were unable to guess.  It rushed past
the angle in the wall where Nathan and his prisoners had taken refuge,
carrying the struggling Scyths along with it.

"What is happening?" Clearchus gasped.

Nathan was too nearly exhausted to reply.  He shook his head as a sign
that he did not know, but the answer was not long delayed.

The beat of trampling hoofs and the thunder of rolling wheels was
mingled with the roar of panic, and in an instant the street was filled
from side to side with close ranks of wild-looking horsemen.

"Way for Bessus!  Make way for the noble viceroy!" they shouted,
striking right and left with their rawhide whips.

They rode into the mob with reckless indifference, and all who were
unfortunate enough to be unable to get out of their way were trampled
under the hoofs of the galloping horses.

"They are the Bactrians," Nathan panted.  "We are saved."

From their sheltering angle, the Greeks watched the horsemen go past.
Every man seemed an athlete, and the riders sat upon the backs of their
horses as though they had grown there.  Behind them, after a brief
interval, rumbled a heavy war chariot drawn by four black steeds.  In
this ponderous vehicle, beside the charioteer, stood a corpulent man,
with an enormously thick neck and a heavy jaw that gave an aspect of
sternness to his dark face.  He paid no heed to the lifeless forms over
which the wheels of his chariot rolled, and he seemed deaf to the cries
of pain uttered by the wretches who had been maimed beneath the hoofs
of his guard.  Clearchus' eyes for a moment met those of the viceroy
and he felt a chill strike through him, as though he had touched some
monstrous reptile unawares.

The passage of the Bactrians effectually cleared the street, but Nathan
deemed it wise to fall in behind them lest the attack should be
renewed.  As they were about to start, a thought occurred to Chares.

"Where is the lieutenant?" he asked.

"He is there," Nathan replied, pointing to a heap of the slain.

The body of the young man lay a little apart from the rest, with the
paint still on its cheeks and a gaping wound in its chest.

"So his cowardice did not save him," Chares said.  "Let us go."

"Come, then," Nathan replied, and behind the chariot of Bessus, they
arrived at the gates which gave entrance to the enclosure in which
stood the royal palace.



CHAPTER XXVI

THE GREAT KING IS ANGRY

At the approach of Bessus the great bronze gates in the palace wall
swung wide, and he rode through them, followed by his Bactrians.
Nathan halted at the entrance, which he found in charge of a guard of
his own race.  The gray-haired captain in command rushed forward with a
cry of joy.

"Where hast thou been?" he cried, embracing Nathan as he dismounted.
"Art thou sound and whole?"

"Nearly so," Nathan replied, showing the cut on his thigh, which
fortunately was not deep and had ceased to bleed.  "How is it with
Israel?"

They walked apart, talking in low tones.  The Arabs and the two
prisoners threw themselves on the turf inside the gate and waited.
Through the swaying branches of the trees they could catch glimpses of
the massive walls of many buildings standing in stately magnificence
amid the verdure.  At a distance, above roof and tree-top, rose the
famous Hanging Gardens of the Great King, built in terraces, gay with
wonderful flowers and strange plants brought from the ends of the
world.  Crystal streams flashed in waterfalls from the summit,
following winding artificial channels, beside which stood statues of
marble.

The two Greeks noticed that Nathan and the captain glanced at them from
time to time as they talked, and they felt that they were the subjects
of the conference.  Finally Nathan came toward them, bringing the
captain with him.

"This is Ezra," he said.  "He knows what I know.  Obey him in all
things.  When the time comes, I shall be near; but now I must leave
you."

He offered his hand and the two Greeks shook it warmly.  Then with a
word to his Arabs, who followed him with their horses, he led the way
down a side path and vanished in the thickets.

"Where is he going?" Clearchus asked.

"To the barracks," Ezra replied.  "Darius keeps a guard here of ten
thousand men, who are known as the Immortals, because their ranks are
always full."

"The palace is almost a city," Clearchus said, looking about him with
curiosity.  "We have many cities at home that are smaller."

"It has need to be," Ezra replied.  "The Great King usually has fifteen
thousand guests at his table, and the number now is greater because he
is preparing for war."

"Will he really take the field, then?" Chares asked.

"He is mustering his army," the captain answered, "and he will lead it
to battle.  The result is in the hands of God."

"I could tell thee, Jew, what the result will be," Chares said dryly.
"By Dionysus, what a place to plunder!  Where are you going to take us?"

"I shall deliver you to Boupares, governor of the palace, who has
charge of the prisoners and of the hostages," Ezra said.  "So long as
you make no attempt to escape, you will have a considerable amount of
freedom.  There are some of our people among the guards, and one
especially named Joel, who will tell you of what is being done.  Of
yourselves you can accomplish nothing; but we can do much.  You are to
leave everything to us.  Joel you may trust, but it will be your part
to wait in patience."

"When shall we be summoned before the king?" Clearchus asked.

"Perhaps to-morrow, perhaps a month from now, and possibly not at all,"
Ezra replied.  "It is never known in advance what he will do."

So the two friends passed into their captivity in the palace of Darius.
As Ezra had said, their confinement did not prove a hardship to them.
They were placed with hundreds of others in a remote wing near the
river wall.  They had baths, a large court for games and exercise, and
abundance of slaves to provide for their wants.  The Israelites among
their guards supplied them privately with the news of the court.  The
winter months passed pleasantly enough, considering their situation.
Clearchus, whose mind was filled with doubt concerning the fate of
Artemisia, had his days of gloom and despair; but there was nothing to
be done, and the light-hearted resignation of Chares saved him from
utter despondency.

Of the numerous company held by Boupares to await the pleasure of the
Great King, many knew not why they had been brought thither.  Some of
them had been there for years.  Others received the royal summons on
the morrow of their arrival and did not return.  There were princes
from the distant East, who had been suspected of a desire to throw off
the Persian yoke; there were adventurers from Athens, merchants from
Sicily, dusky chieftains from the sources of the Nile--a strange
mixture of tongues and races, in, which every part of the huge,
unwieldy empire was represented.

"I feel as though we were in the cave of Polyphemus," Clearchus said.
"Who can tell whose turn will come next?"

"At any rate, the king is not a Cyclops--he cannot eat us," Chares
replied.  "Here comes Joel; now we shall get the latest news."

The young man approached them with the affectation of carelessness that
it was necessary to assume to disarm suspicion.  The palace swarmed
with the Eyes and Ears of the king, spies and informers whose identity
was unknown even to the most trusted of the courtiers.  He must be
cunning indeed who could frame and bring to fruition a plot that could
escape their observation.  A word from one of them, even though founded
upon suspicion, often brought death.

"Well?" Chares said, when Joel reached at last the spot where they were
standing, out of hearing of the others.  "Repeat for us the murmurs of
this whispering gallery."

"It is in fact a gallery in which every whisper is heard," the Hebrew
said, smiling.  "But there is great news to-day; Pharnaces has been
condemned to death, and all his family must die with him."

"What has he done?" Clearchus asked.  "Is he not one of the most
powerful of the nobles and a favorite with the king?"

"Yes," Joel replied, "and why the sentence was passed no one knows
excepting the king himself."

"But will he have no trial?" Clearchus persisted.  "Will they not tell
him what charge is laid against him?"

Joel shrugged his shoulders.  "The sentence has been passed," he said,
"and not even the Great King, who made it, can change it now.  We have
been trying to discover what the accusation was.  Pharnaces wanted to
be viceroy of Bactria, and he had been gathering evidence with which to
destroy Bessus.  It must be that Bessus managed to reach the king
first; but what means he had of accomplishing this, we do not know.
Perhaps he bribed one of the king's Eyes.  It must have cost him
something, but Bessus could do it if any one.  If he did not work
through the spies, he may have persuaded the Magi to discover some
treason in the stars and then to accuse Pharnaces.  Bessus is on good
terms with the Medean priests, for he lets them do what they like in
his province."

"This Bessus must be a dangerous man," Clearchus said.

"Only because he has force and daring," Joel replied.  "He does what
every other man would like to do.  There is not a satrap or viceroy in
the empire who does not desire his neighbor's ruin.  It has been worse
since these fire-worshipping priests began to get back into favor
again.  Our wise men say that it was an evil day for the kings of this
land when they allowed these men to wean their minds from Ormazd and
set up their idols in Babylon.  But now there is no God too false to
obtain worship here.  Even Baal and Astarte have their temples, and
they are beginning to bring in the Egyptian brood of deities.  The cup
is filling fast, and they must drink it when Jehovah wills."

The young man's voice sank to a tone of awe as he pronounced the
dreadful name, and he glanced about him as though he half expected a
thunderbolt to fall.  It did not escape the Athenian perception of
Clearchus that the Jew seemed to regard the terrible presence as real
and actual.  His earnestness formed a striking contrast with his usual
affectation of the easy and cynical manner of the court.

"We laugh and jest here in the palace," he went on, "but each man's
hand is against his neighbor.  Faith and honor are lost.  Servants
betray their masters and sons lead their parents to death.  What knows
the Great King of all this?  He lives behind a screen, where thieves
and rascals make him their tool.  These plotters play upon him as they
do upon Sisygambis, the queen mother, who has almost as much power as
her son; or upon Statira, his queen, the most beautiful of women.  The
gynæceum is a nest of intrigues.  His stewards and keepers and
cup-bearers have each their price, and they do not scruple to take it.
A whisper or a look may send a man to his death.  Give me a chance with
a sword in my hand and let me see the man who strikes me!  I hate this
treacherous game in the dark!"

"Well spoken, my lad!" Chares said.  "But what about this queen,
Statira--is she so very beautiful?"

"They say she is the fairest woman in the world," Joel answered, "and
that the Great King is the handsomest of men.  I have never seen her,
or I would not be here now.  It is death to look upon the face of one
of the king's women, even by accident."

"They seem to be very particular!" Chares grumbled.

"I dare say they have their reasons," Joel said.  "But I have not told
you all the news.  The king has had a dream, and he believes that the
Gods have promised him the victory over Alexander.  The Chaldeans have
told him so."

"What was the dream?" Clearchus asked uneasily.

"It was proclaimed this morning," Joel said.  "Darius dreamed that when
he had come within sight of the Macedonians, their army suddenly burst
into flame and all the troops were consumed, so that nothing but their
ashes remained where they had been.  And then he thought he saw
Alexander, dressed like one of the lords of the household, standing
ready to serve him.  But when he went into the Temple of Baal,
Alexander vanished utterly and was seen no more.  From this the learned
men of the Chaldeans say that Baal will give the battle to Darius and
will remove Alexander from his way.  So the king has ordered sacrifices
to Baal and has promised him a great temple of stone after the victory."

Clearchus looked troubled, and even Chares shook his head.

"Wait," Joel went on eagerly, noticing their concern.  "I have told you
the interpretation of the Chaldeans.  Our wise men have also considered
the dream, and they read it differently.  They say that the army on
fire means that the Macedonians shall win great glory, and that the
appearance of Alexander as a lord of the household, in the same dress
that Darius wore before he became king, signifies that he will gain
victories, as Darius did.  This is the interpretation of the priests of
our race, to whom are revealed the things that are to be."

"I know not which is right," Clearchus said, "but I wish Aristander was
here."

"Nathan bade me tell you to have no fear," Joel said confidently.  "He
also wished me to tell you that Phradates the Tyrian has come to court."

"Phradates here!" Chares exclaimed.  "Why did you not say so before?
There will be trouble for us."

"Nathan talked with the Phœnician and learned much," Joel continued.
"Halicarnassus has fallen and Memnon is dead.  Phradates is seeking
command of the fleet for Azemilcus, the Tyrian king."

"Did Nathan say nothing of Artemisia and Thais?" Clearchus inquired, in
a trembling voice.

"Oh, yes," said Joel, "I had forgotten.  He told me to say that
Phradates had carried them by force to Tyre in his galley after the
fall of Halicarnassus and that he is in love with Thais.  This he
learned from one of our people who was with the Tyrian; and he learned
further that as yet no harm has befallen the young women."

"We must go!" Clearchus exclaimed.  "Tell Nathan so at once.  Tell him
that if he cannot release us, we will release ourselves.  We must be on
our way to Tyre to-morrow."

"Quietly," Chares said, placing his hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Not so loud.  You forget!"

"Did you not hear what he said?" Clearchus demanded impatiently.
"Artemisia is in Tyre and in the power of Phradates!"

"So is Thais, and she is in the greater danger," Chares said, "if what
Joel tells us is true; but we shall never see either of them again
unless we are discreet."

There was a stir in the great hall of the building as the inmates
gathered from the various smaller apartments.  "The king has sent a
summons!" Joel said, hastening away.

"Do not forget my message," Clearchus insisted.

"I will deliver it," Joel responded over his shoulder.

Chares and Clearchus joined the main body of prisoners, who were
assembled in the hall.  They found there Boupares himself, with scribes
bearing the register of the inmates of the place.  The governor
scrutinized the lists with care, selecting from among them the names of
prisoners, who were called by a crier.  Each man, as he heard his name,
stepped forward to await the directions of Boupares.

"Amyntas of Macedon!" shouted the crier, and a small, thin man with a
sallow face stood out from the rest.

"Charidemus of Corinth!" the crier called.

"They are asking only for the Greeks," remarked a tall Assyrian.

"Maybe our turn has come," Clearchus said.

"Clearchus of Athens!" the crier shouted.  "Chares of Thebes!"

The two young men advanced and joined the waiting group.

"That is all," Boupares said, handing the lists to the scribes.
"Follow me to the audience chamber."

Through the long, pillared courts and vast halls of the palace he
conducted the prisoners.  On every side were evidences of the
expenditure of limitless wealth and measureless labor.  Row after row
of polished columns sprang a hundred feet to the echoing roof.  Great
sculptures adorned the walls.  The floors were inlaid with mosaics of
variegated pattern.  Thousands of attendants came and went among the
crowds of courtiers.

At last they arrived at the audience chamber and were admitted.  Here
the talk and laughter ceased and voices sank to a whisper.  They were
in the presence of the Great King, the most powerful and absolute of
all monarchs.  The walls of the lofty apartment were covered with
plates of gold for half their height, and above these were paintings in
which the king was depicted slaying lions in hand-to-hand combat, or
driving his enemies before him in his war chariot.  Between the pillars
hung rich curtains of crimson, green, and violet, and the floor was
hidden beneath silken carpets.

At the end of the room, under a purple canopy, stood a throne of gold
and ivory, inlaid with precious stones.  The perfume of myrrh and
frankincense filled the air.

Standing before the throne, from which he had just arisen, the Greeks
beheld Darius, the last of the Archæmenian kings.  His tall, well-built
figure was clad in a long Medean robe of rich silk, purple, embroidered
with gold, and confined at the waist by a broad girdle of gold, from
which hung his dagger in its sheath of lapis lazuli.  His feet were
shod in yellow shoes with long points.  On his head he wore the
citaris, which he alone might wear, with the royal diadem of blue and
white.  Jewels flashed in his ears, and about his neck hung a heavy
collar of great rubies and pearls.

Never, Clearchus thought, had he seen a face more handsome and haughty
than that of Darius, as he stood before his throne, with his blue eyes
and light brown beard, carefully trimmed.  He looked like what he
was--the master of the world.  His expression, although full of
dignity, was slightly weary as he listened to the petition of a man who
knelt before him, with bowed head, in the attitude of a suppliant.

With a scarcely perceptible movement of his hand, the king dismissed
the petitioner, who rose to his feet and walked backward, with his head
still bowed, to a group of officials who stood at one side of the
apartment.  Chares gripped Clearchus by the arm.

"It is Phradates!" he said.

It was indeed the Phœnician, who had doubtless been pressing the
suit of Azemilcus for command of the Ægean fleet.  His proud face was
humbled, and drops of perspiration stood on his forehead.  The king
turned his eyes slowly to the Greeks and made a sign to Boupares to
advance.  The nobles who were ranged on either side of the throne, the
king's fan and cup bearers, his generals and the master of his
household, remained with stolid faces.

Boupares prostrated himself before the throne, kissing the floor.

"Are these the Greeks for whom I sent thee?" the king asked
indifferently.

"They are, my lord," Boupares replied.

"Let them come near," Darius said.

Some of the prisoners prostrated themselves before the king as they had
seen Boupares do.  Others remained standing, and among these were
Clearchus and Chares.  Darius looked at them, and a slight frown
appeared upon his brow.

"Who are they?" he asked, turning to Boupares.

The governor designated each of the captives by name, adding a few
particulars by way of identification.

"Clearchus, an Athenian, and Chares, a Theban," he said.  "They have
served in the army of the Macedonian, and they were sent to the king
from Halicarnassus by Memnon."

"Why have they been permitted to live?" Darius demanded, his face
darkening at the name of the lost city.

"Because Memnon believed they could give the king information,"
Boupares answered humbly, "and when captured they had left the army of
Alexander."

"What manner of man is this Alexander?" Darius asked, turning his face
to the Greeks.

"He is a king," Chares answered quietly.

"How can he hope to meet me, with his handful of men?" Darius asked
again.

"He remembers Cyrus, thy ancestor," Chares replied boldly.

These answers made an evident impression on Darius, whose face lost its
listless expression.  Many questions he put to the Greeks, who made no
attempt to conceal anything from him, knowing that others could give
him the information that he desired if they refused, and that refusal
would mean immediate death.  Finally the king could think of nothing
more to ask.

"I am about to march against thy Alexander," he said.  "Who will win
the victory?"

"Victory is the gift of the Gods, O king," Clearchus said quickly.
"Dost thou wish flattery, or a frank reply, without concealment?"

"Speak freely," Darius said, raising his head in pride.

"Then, unless thou canst make thy army equal to his in discipline and
spirit, thy numbers will not avail," the Athenian said.

Darius' face flushed, and a murmur of protest rose from the watchful
courtiers.

"Is that thy opinion, too?" the king asked, turning to Chares.

"The ocean himself must break upon the rock," the Theban said.

"And thine?" the king continued, addressing Charidemus, the Corinthian.

"It is, O king," Charidemus replied.

Phradates had been watching the face of Darius.  He had recognized his
enemies as soon as they entered the audience chamber and had resolved
to deal them a blow if the chance presented itself.  When he saw the
frown on the brow of the king and caught the gleam of anger in his eye,
he believed he might safely act.  He stepped forward and again
prostrated himself at the steps of the throne.

"Speak!" said Darius, looking down upon him.

"My lord, I know these men for spies," he said.  "I was in
Halicarnassus when they were captured just before I received the wound
that so nearly cost me my life.  Memnon, for reasons that I do not
presume to guess, wished to save them.  They mock at thee and seek to
create doubt of the promise that the Gods have given thee by spreading
fear of the result among thy men.  Every Greek well knows that
Alexander cannot stand against thee and that he will never dare to meet
thee in battle."

Phradates had cunningly formed his speech so as to assign a motive to
the adverse predictions of the Greeks which would save the pride of the
king, and yet, if he accepted it, would leave only one course open to
him.  Darius did not hesitate.

"They are spies!" he said angrily to Boupares.  "Why did you bring them
to me?  Take them away and let them be questioned under the torture.
Perhaps then they will tell the truth."

Darius turned, and Phradates shot a look of triumph at the two friends.
Chares shook off the hand of the guard and was about to speak when
Clearchus checked him.

"Silence," he whispered earnestly, "or we shall both be killed at once!"

Chares controlled himself with an effort, and the guards, under the
direction of the crestfallen Boupares, led them away.  Instead of
conducting them to their former quarters, Boupares ordered that they be
confined in the dungeons that lay beyond.  These were built in a
structure of massive masonry and consisted of cells with heavily barred
doors at which sentries were stationed.  Into one of the darkest of the
cells they were thrust, and the grating was bolted behind them.



CHAPTER XXVII

NATHAN KEEPS HIS WORD

Clearchus and Chares shivered in the chill of the dungeon.  By the
glimmer of light that entered through a narrow opening above their
heads, they saw that the place was quite bare.  There was nothing but
the stone floor under their feet and the four stone walls that shut
them in.

"What think you, Chares?" Clearchus said, with the shadow of a smile.
"Nathan will never be able to rescue us from here."

"It does not look hopeful," the Theban replied, "but let us see."

He made a careful examination of the walls, finding everywhere the
solid stone unbroken.  The only openings in the cell were the tiny
window and the door.  The window was out of reach and so narrow that
not even a cat could have squeezed through.  Chares halted at the door
and examined the bars.  They were of hammered iron, as thick as the
shaft of a lance, and rendered stronger by two cross-bars, welded from
side to side.  The Theban tested them gently with his hands and shook
his head.

"The blacksmith who forged them was a good workman," he said.

At that moment they heard the step of the sentry outside in the
passageway.  The man carried at his girdle a bunch of great keys that
rattled as he walked.  He was armed with a short spear with a long,
keen blade.  He halted at the door of the cell.

"What are you doing there?" he said gruffly to Chares.  "Get back!"

"No need to be angry, my friend," Chares returned good-naturedly,
falling back from the door.  "What are you going to do to us?"

The jailer's brutish face assumed an expression of pleasure that was
evidently unfeigned.

"You know you are to be tortured to-morrow," he said, "and we do those
things thoroughly here.  I shall help.  They could not get along
without me."

"I suppose you are used to it," Chares ventured.

"My father taught me," the man replied proudly.  "There is none in the
empire better with the rack than I.  And he showed me how to draw the
band about a man's forehead until his eyes stick out of his head and
his skull cracks like an egg, and all without killing him.  Very few
know the secret."

"And when you are through with the torture, what then?" asked Chares.

"Why, then you will die by the boat," the jailer replied.

"Do you mean we shall be drowned?" Chares inquired.

The jailer laughed harshly.  "That would be too easy," he said.  "Death
by the boat has nothing to do with the water, as you will find.  They
will place you in the shallop with your head, arms, and feet outside.
Then they will cover you with honey and place another boat upside down
over you.  This will leave your head and hands free through the holes.
The ants and the flies are fond of honey.  I have known men to live a
week in their snug wooden jackets; but they usually go crazy after a
few days, when the ants begin to eat them."

"That is very interesting," Chares remarked.  "When will they begin the
torture?"

"To-morrow morning," the man replied, "and I advise you to get a sound
sleep; you will be able to stand the pain better."

He passed on down the corridor, humming to himself as though his mind
were filled with pleasant thoughts.

"That is a nice prospect," Chares said, turning away from the grating.
"I wonder what Nathan intends to do?"

"We can only wait," Clearchus replied.  "I think we had better pretend
that we are asleep, so that your friend the sentinel will at least let
us alone."

They stretched themselves upon the stone floor and waited, talking in
whispers.  With nightfall, the prison grew utterly dark, excepting in
the corridor, where the surly guard lighted oil lamps, set at intervals
in niches in the wall.  These made brief spaces of light in the gloomy
passageway, through which the man went and came with monotonous tread.
There was silence in that part of the prison where they were,
indicating that the other condemned cells were vacant.  For a time the
sound of voices reached them faintly through the slit in the wall, but
these gradually ceased as the night advanced.

One of the lamps had been set directly opposite their cell, but its
feeble glimmer hardly extended to the bars of their cage, although it
rendered objects in the corridor dimly distinct.

Hour followed hour, and each seemed like a week to the young Athenian.
Chares, overcome by drowsiness, had fallen asleep at his side.
Clearchus wondered at the careless nature of his friend that permitted
him to close his eyes in the face of so horrible a death.  He had no
doubt that Nathan would seek to rescue them, but he knew not when nor
how.  Perhaps he would attempt intercession with Darius.  Perhaps he
would defer the trial until the morning.  What if he should fail?
Clearchus was far from being a coward, but his nerves shrank from the
thought of the torture and the lingering agony that would follow before
death came to set them free.  The very idea of death, since now he knew
that Artemisia was living and in need of him, filled his heart with
anguish.

As he lay gazing into the corridor, with his head upon his hand, he
recalled her face as it had appeared to him in the happy garden in
Academe, with the sunlight on her hair and the color of the wild rose
in her cheeks.  He remembered how her blue eyes had looked into his
with sweet wistfulness and how the tears dimmed them when she told him
of the fears that had beset her.  The tears rose to his own eyes at the
remembrance, and he ground his teeth as he thought of his helplessness.
Why had he not trusted the prevision of her finer perceptions, half
ethereal as they were?  Why had he not remained to defend her and to
prevent the train of misfortunes which had followed?

The sentinel paused at the door of the cell for a moment in passing.
He noted the deep breathing of Chares and resumed his march with a
yawn.  Clearchus listened, mechanically counting his steps until he
should reach the spot where they were to turn.  Suddenly a sound came
to his ears that caused him to sit up and listen intently.  There were
other footfalls in the corridor.  They were advancing in the track of
the sentinel from the direction of the entrance.

The Athenian's pulses bounded.  Help had come.  He stretched out his
hand to rouse Chares, but in an instant he reflected that there was
evidently no effort at concealment on the part of the newcomer.  The
steps were careless and deliberate.  Probably they were made by another
guard, who had come to relieve the bloodthirsty wretch outside.  His
hope sank as suddenly as it had arisen and he let his hand fall.

"Why should I awaken him?" he thought.  "Let him sleep."

Slowly the steps advanced.  Clearchus crept to the door of the cell and
peered out through the grating.  A man's figure was approaching along
the passage.  It was Nathan.  Clearchus rose quickly to his feet and
shook Chares by the shoulder.

"Silence!" he whispered.

The Theban rubbed his eyes and stretched his great limbs.

"Where am I?" he muttered.  "Oh, yes, I remember.  What has happened?"

"Nathan is here," Clearchus said.

Chares was on his feet with a bound, and both stood listening
breathlessly.

Nathan had reached the dim circle of light before their cell.  His keen
black eyes were glancing to the right and left at the dark gratings.

"We are here!" Clearchus whispered through the bars.

The Israelite turned his face toward them and smiled, trying to
distinguish them in the darkness.  In his hand he carried a roll of
papyrus.

"Be ready!" he said, in a scarcely audible tone.

"Who are you?" the sentinel demanded, catching sight of Nathan for the
first time.

Nathan halted close to the bars of the cell and awaited his approach
without reply.

"What are you doing here?" the man asked gruffly as he approached.

"I have an order for you," Nathan replied coolly, unrolling the papyrus
as he spoke.  "Read it."

The man took the papyrus in his hand and looked at it.  Then he glanced
cunningly at Nathan.

"What does it mean?" he growled, handing it back.  "I cannot read."

This was evidently a contingency that had not entered into Nathan's
calculations.

"It is signed by Boupares--here, do you see!" he said, holding the
writing under the jailer's nose.

"Well, what then?" the man asked suspiciously.

"It is an order," Nathan continued.  "You are to deliver the Greek
prisoners to me immediately."

"What are you going to do with them?" the jailer asked.

"Boupares desires to talk with them before they are examined," Nathan
explained.

"I shall not give them up," the jailer replied, with the air of a man
who has made up his mind.  "If Boupares wishes to see them, let him
come here.  They were sent to me under the seal of the king himself,
and this order of yours has no seal.  Do you think I want to be boiled
alive as my comrade was last month?  I can hear his yells yet, for I
helped to do it.  You can tell Boupares what I have said, and now be
off."

Like most ignorant men when they think, or pretend to think, that they
are being imposed upon, the jailer raised his voice to a bullying
shout.  Nathan looked apprehensively over his shoulder toward the
entrance of the prison.  The harsh tone echoed between the narrow walls
and might be easily heard at the gate, where several men were stationed.

"Give me your keys," he said quietly.  "You know the penalty for
disobeying an order."

The jailer stepped to the door of the cell and stood defiantly, with
his back against the bars.

"I will not give them!" he said.

From within the cell the man's figure was outlined against the light of
the lamp.  Chares moved forward in the darkness behind him with
noiseless tread, and his fingers closed suddenly around the jailer's
throat.  The wretch gasped once and threw up his chin, struggling
convulsively to free himself from the iron clutch that encircled his
neck.  His struggles were in vain.  The Theban drew him silently back
against the bars.  His feet scuffled on the stone floor, and his short
spear clattered from his hand.

"Take the keys," Clearchus whispered.

Nathan quickly detached the keys from the jailer's belt and unlocked
the door of the cell.  Clearchus slipped through the open door, picking
up the jailer's spear as he went.  Chares relaxed his hold, and the
man's body slipped in a huddled heap to the floor.

"Come," said the Israelite.  "We have no time to lose."

What he said was true.  From the direction of the entrance came the
sound of voices and the flickering of a torch danced upon the walls.

"Neshak!  Ho, Neshak, where are you?" called a voice.

"They are seeking the jailer," Nathan whispered.  "Come!"

He darted down the corridor into the darkness, with the two Greeks at
his heels.  At the end of a dozen yards they turned quickly to the
left, up a flight of stairs, and then through other passageways, until
they reached a second short stairway and emerged upon the roof.

They stood panting and listening beside the head of the stair.  Above
them the wide arch of the sky was sown with stars.  From the black
opening at their feet came a confused sound of cries and shouting.

"They have found the jailer's body," Nathan said.  "I fear we are lost.
It shall be as Jehovah wills!"

He drew a short sword from its sheath at his side.

"Is there no other way to the roof?" Clearchus asked.

"No other way," Nathan replied; "but how can we hope to hold this
against them?"

The Athenian looked about him.  The roof was built of huge slabs of
stone, fitted together without mortar, and there was nothing that might
serve as even a temporary barricade.

"If we could only raise one of these," he said, stooping over one of
the slabs.

"Not ten men could do it," Nathan replied, shaking his head.

"Let us see," said Chares.

He thrust his fingers under the stone and set his feet wide apart.  The
muscles of his back and arms rose in ridges.  The veins of his neck
swelled like knotted cords.  The great stone stirred in its bed.

Clearchus and Nathan dropped their weapons and bent eagerly to assist
him.  The ponderous mass heaved slowly upward, tilting toward the
opening that led to the stairway.  From the sound of the voices within
they knew that their pursuers were close at hand.

"Life or death!" groaned Chares, the sweat streaming from his body like
rain.  "Now!"

The mighty stone rose inch by inch upon its edge, standing higher than
the heads of the three men, who were now behind and beneath it.  Their
pursuers had evidently halted on the stairs, expecting the opening to
the roof to be defended.  Puzzled by the silence, they seemed to be
concerting a plan of attack.  Suddenly they sprang upward with a shout,
thrusting forward their spears and crowding for the aperture.

The great slab stood upright, balancing on its lower end.  While a man
might draw breath, it hung motionless, and then it toppled over upon
the opening from the stairs.

The foremost of the pursuers saw it and with inarticulate cries sought
to retreat.  They were too late.  The heavy mass crashed down upon
their heads and covered the opening.  Nathan and Clearchus fell forward
with it and lay gasping.  Chares swayed upon his feet and his head
reeled.  The blood dripped from the ends of his fingers, where it had
burst from beneath his nails.  Faintly from under the stone issued
cries of agony, as though some of the guard had been caught there and
held fast by mangled limbs.

Nathan staggered to his feet and groped for his sword.  "Now for the
wall," he cried.  "We may yet escape!"



CHAPTER XXVIII

BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY

As Clearchus lay upon the broad slab, the voices of his friends seemed
to him faint and far away.  He tried to rise, but a strange languor
weighed him down.  Chares seized him and dragged him to his feet.

"Wake up!" cried the Theban.  "We still have a chance.  You tremble
like a girl."

Clearchus gathered his senses with an effort of will, and the two
Greeks followed Nathan across the roof toward the great wall, against
which the prison was built.

Nathan led them straight to the foot of a narrow flight of steps,
roughly hewn in the masonry and scarcely discernible a few yards away.
Up these he climbed with the agility of a cat.  Clearchus, still faint
and dizzy, hesitated for a moment, gazing at the sheer height that
towered above his head.

"Forward!" Chares cried behind him.  "It is our only hope."

Clearchus set his feet in the narrow steps and followed Nathan,
carrying the jailer's spear in his left hand and clinging to each
projection with his right.  More than once his feet slipped and Chares
saved him from falling.  The steps wound upward almost perpendicularly,
and it was evident that they were rarely used, for in places the soft
brick had crumbled, leaving wide gaps.

"Look up!" Chares cried desperately, as Clearchus halted at one of
these dangerous points.  "Look up--and remember Artemisia, whom thou
alone canst save!"

He had touched the right chord at last.  The Athenian's brain cleared
at the mention of Artemisia's peril, and he forgot his own.  The wall
no longer seemed to waver before his eyes.  All doubt of his ability to
pass where Nathan had passed before him vanished from his mind, and he
gained the top with an even pulse.

They paused for a moment to get their bearings.  Far beneath them they
saw the starlight trembling on the broad sweep of the Euphrates, beyond
which for miles lay a level country, dotted with trees and fields.
Behind them spread the sleeping city, an endless succession of roofs
and towers.  Here and there a torch glimmered like a firefly.  The
crest of the wall, upon which they stood and where four chariots might
have been driven abreast without crowding, was apparently deserted.

The sound of shouting rose from the direction of the prison.  They saw
a cluster of torches issue from the main entrance and scatter in every
direction.

"They are giving the alarm," Nathan said, "but I think we shall have
time to disappoint them.  There is a rope waiting for us where the
river touches the wall, and at its lower end we shall find a boat."

The river was several hundred yards distant from the spot where they
stood.  Before they could reach the place where the rope was concealed,
they must traverse nearly a quarter of a mile.  Between them and safety
stood one of the guard-houses built for the sentries whose duty it was
to patrol the wall night and day.  Still worse, they must pass the
entrance of a broad flight of steps that led downward into the city and
formed the usual means of ascent to the top of the wall.

It had been Nathan's plan to come up by these steps and gain the rope
without passing the guard-house.  The obstinacy of the jailer had
disarranged everything.  It was of the first importance that they
should reach the rope before the sentinels on the wall could learn what
had happened, or the guards from below could mount.

Like shadows they sped along the top of the wall, holding as near as
possible to the outer edge so as not to be seen from the city.  Outside
the guard-house a sentry stood, craning his neck to see what was going
on beneath him to cause all the shouting.  They stole by behind his
back without arousing his attention.

They had fled past the head of the stairway and were congratulating
themselves on their good fortune when they came suddenly face to face
with a returning sentry, slowly pacing his beat.  The man was as much
surprised as they and seemed in doubt as to whether they were friends
or foes.  Before he could make up his mind, Chares gripped him by the
throat and the broad blade of the jailer's spear buried itself in his
heart.  He had uttered no cry.  Chares dragged the body under the
parapet that had been built where the wall overhung the river to
protect the defenders from the archers who might be sent to attack the
city from ships.

Crouching in the shadow of this elevation, they went on at a slackened
pace, expecting every moment to come upon the rope.  It was nowhere to
be found.  The shouting from the city now came clearly up from the
staircase as the guards ascended.  Finally Nathan paused and looked
doubtfully about him.

"It should be very near here," he said, "but I do not see it."

"Then there is nothing for it but to take as many of them with us as we
can," Chares said, rising to his full height.  "Zeus, how my back
aches!  I hate this skulking."

Apparently the sentinel at the guard-house whom they had passed
understood at last what was the matter.  He roused the rest of the
guard.  Clearchus and Nathan pulled Chares down into the shadow.  They
were so near that they could hear what was said.

"Captives have escaped!  They are coming up by the prison stairway!"
the man told his companions in an excited voice.  "They are asking us
to stop them.  Boupares himself is on his way up."

The men came tumbling out of the guard-house and ran to the inner edge
of the wall, shouting down with much gesticulation that they would meet
the fugitives.  Then they hastened back toward the prison.

"Much good that will do them," Chares laughed.

"We have still a few moments," Clearchus said.  "Where was the rope to
be?"

"Here--opposite the Tower of Baal," Nathan replied.

"Look on the outside of the wall; it may be there," the Athenian
suggested.

Nathan climbed upon the parapet and looked over.

"Here it is," he cried joyfully.  "Follow me!"

As he spoke, he slipped over the edge of the wall and vanished.

"Follow him, Chares," Clearchus said.  "Go quickly!"

"You first," the Theban answered doggedly.

"No," Clearchus answered with firmness.  "It is my turn to guard the
rear.  I shall not stir until you are over the wall."

"Very well, have your way," Chares replied.

He vaulted upon the parapet and looked down.  The rope had been
attached to a bar of iron driven firmly into the bricks near the
coping, and it dangled from between his feet into the gulf beneath him.
The cord seemed slender to sustain his weight, but there was no time in
which to test it.  Swinging himself over the edge, he grasped the bar
and then the rope, letting himself down hand over hand, with his feet
against the rough surface of the wall.  From the twitching of the cord
in his hands, he knew that Nathan had not yet reached the bottom.  He
wondered how long it would be before the rope would break and send him
headlong into the dark abyss.

Clearchus, left alone behind the parapet, flattened his body in the
shadow and waited.  He had seen Chares begin his descent, and he knew
that the rope would not sustain the weight of all three at the same
time.  He resolved to allow Chares an opportunity to reach the foot of
the wall before he himself started down.  He counted upon the mistake
that the sentries had made, in going back to the prison staircase in
their search, to give him time.

Hardly had Chares disappeared before a company of soldiers, with
torches in their hands, emerged from the head of the great stairway.
The glare searched every corner on top of the wall, and the Athenian
saw that concealment was no longer possible.

He knew that he must act promptly.  The faces of the new arrivals were
turned toward the sentinels, who were still engaged in searching about
the prison stairway.  It could be only a few moments before the
futility of further effort in that direction must become evident to
them, and the hunt would turn toward where he lay.

Should he attempt to gain the great staircase and slip into the city,
where the Israelites might hide him, at least for a time?  It would be
impossible to evade the soldiers who were still coming up.  He
dismissed the idea from his mind.

Possibly he could escape along the southern stretch of wall.  Beyond
him at a distance there seemed to be a bridge, or causeway, connecting
the wall with the enormous mass of earth and bricks that upheld the
Hanging Gardens.  The groves of palms and the tangle of shrubbery that
crowned the Gardens might conceal him, even though the place was within
the precincts of the palace itself.

He was about to try this plan and had already partly risen to put it
into execution, when he saw the guard turning out at a station between
him and the causeway.  His chance of flight in that direction was cut
off.

He could hear the chafing of the rope against the bricks on the other
side of the parapet.  Chares was still lowering himself toward the
river.  To try the rope now would be not only to endanger the lives of
his two friends by overstraining the cord, but to reveal their mode of
escape and expose them to certain death, since the guard would lose no
time in cutting it.

Clearchus felt that he had been caught in a trap from which there was
no outlet.  He thought of the words the jailer had used in describing
the death allotted to them.  He thought of Artemisia, defenceless in
Tyre.  A vision of the life he had hoped to lead in the pleasant city
of his birth, with her at his side, flitted through his mind.  The Gods
had bestowed upon him the hope of happiness that was not to be
fulfilled.  Chares would tell Artemisia how he died.  At least she
would know that he had given his life for his friend.

So ran the young man's thoughts as he lay awaiting the moment of
discovery.  His mind was made up.  They would never take him back to
the prison.  Perhaps his friends might recover his body and give it
burial amid the groves beyond the river.

Although the time seemed long, in reality only a few minutes passed
before the portly form of Boupares, supported on either side by a
stalwart soldier, appeared upon the platform at the head of the broad
stair.  The governor was out of breath and also out of patience.  The
knowledge that he would find it difficult to account for the loss of
the prisoners weighed upon his mind.

The guards crowded about him with explanations and excuses.  No trace
could be found of the fugitives, they told him.  It was certain they
had not reached the top of the wall.  If they had, they must have
wings, since they had disappeared, leaving no trace.

"Search, you dogs!" Boupares gasped.  "A thousand darics to the man who
finds them!"

The moment was at hand.  Clearchus unclasped the fibula that fastened
the chiton upon his shoulder and drew his feet out of his sandals.

There was a cry from one of the guards.  He had found the body of the
sentinel.  A group gathered about it to see.  It was proof that the
fugitives had passed along the wall, and all eyes were directed toward
the Athenian's hiding-place.

Clearchus let fall his garments and with a bound gained the top of the
parapet.  The red light of the torches shone full upon his naked
figure, gleaming against the dark sky, as perfect in every line as the
form of Phœbus Apollo.  For an instant the soldiers were dumb with
astonishment and superstitious dread.  The shape had appeared where
there had been nothing a moment before.  It seemed to them that it must
be that of a God.  Then one of them caught sight of the abandoned
chiton and the spell was broken.

"Seize him!  Strike him down!" they cried.

"Take him alive!" bellowed Boupares.

Clearchus turned his back upon them and gave a single glance at the
wide sweep of water that eddied and gurgled at the foot of the great
wall, how far below him he dared not guess.  A javelin hissed past him
and was swallowed by the darkness.  With muscles as firm as steel, he
took two steps forward and shot out from the dizzy height.

He heard the cry of astonishment and involuntary alarm from the
soldiers behind him.  The light of the torches flashed in his eyes, and
then fled suddenly upward.

He looked down upon the wrinkled surface of the river.  The impetus of
his leap had carried him out beyond the slope of the wall, and he saw
that he would strike the water as he had planned, instead of being
dashed to pieces.

The rushing air blinded him like a mighty wind.  He heard its roar in
his ears.  Mechanically he pressed the palms of his hands together
below his head, and stiffened and straightened his body so that it
might offer no surface of resistance in the plunge.  Then he knew no
more.

Faintly the cry of the guards floated downward.  Their torches twinkled
over the parapet.  Chares, who, with aching arms, was clinging to the
last few fathoms of the rope, looked upward.  So did Nathan, pausing in
his task of fitting a pair of oars to the rowlocks of a small boat that
he had pushed out from the wall.

They saw the form of Clearchus as it shot downward from the sky.  They
saw it strike the water not twenty feet from them, leaving a circle of
foam, with hardly a splash to mark where it had fallen, so straight and
true was its descent.

Chares let the end of the rope slip through his hands and leaped into
the boat.  With a few rapid strokes Nathan brought the little craft to
the centre of the widening ripple, where the bubbles were still rising.
Both leaned over the gunwale, straining their eyes for sight of the
body in the dark water.

A minute passed, and another, while they held their breath.  Then
Nathan uttered a cry.

"There he is!" he shouted, pointing downward.

It was only a glimmer of white under the ripple, which showed for an
instant and was gone; but Chares plunged from the boat and disappeared
beneath the surface.  When he rose, he held the body of his friend
across his arm, hanging limp and apparently lifeless.  Nathan drew it
into the boat and then helped Chares to his place in the stern.

"Is he dead, think you?" the Theban asked, taking the form across his
knees as though it were that of a child.

"There is no mark on him; he may be only stunned," Nathan replied,
resuming his oars.

Chares gazed at the pale face, with the dripping hair streaming back
from its temples, and, bending forward, placed his ear over the heart.

"It beats," he cried.  "He lives!  Pull away, Nathan, and let the
jackals howl!"

Arrows and javelins struck the water around the boat, but there was
little danger from the marksmen above, unless some missile should find
them by chance.  The craft was almost indistinguishable from the top of
the wall.

Nathan worked hard at the oars, while Chares rolled the body of
Clearchus on his knees.  Then he rubbed the pale limbs briskly and by
no means gently until the blood began to circulate again.  At last
Clearchus opened his eyes and drew a deep breath.

"Is this the Styx?" he asked faintly.  "Is the story true then, after
all?"

"Not yet," Chares replied, with a laugh.  "Your time has not yet come.
You are dreaming."

Clearchus turned his head and saw the precipice of the mighty wall,
rising black toward the stars and crowned with the red glow of the
torches.

"Did I dive from there?" he asked wonderingly; "or is that, too, a
dream?"

"It is no dream," Chares replied, "but a deed that will be told
throughout the army for the Companions to envy.  Give me the oars,
Nathan; I need exercise."

Nathan yielded the oars, and the tough blades bent as the Theban threw
his weight upon them.  The boat sped through the water toward a grove
of trees that stood like a patch of darker shadow on the other shore.
From behind they could hear the clank of levers, and they knew the
river-gate was being opened.  Boupares had ordered pursuit; but they
were a mile away before the first of the biremes shot out from the
portal.  A few minutes more and they had reached the friendly grove and
entered the mouth of one of the numerous canals which formed a network
through the plain as complicated as the Cretan labyrinth.

"Now let them search," said Nathan.  "I would not stand in Boupares'
shoes to-morrow!"



CHAPTER XXIX

THE SLUICE GATE

Cautiously and in silence they threaded their way from one branch of
the canal to another, through the fields of grain and vegetables that
spread like a vast garden for miles across the low country.  Here and
there along the banks were farmers' huts, and occasionally they passed
through the estate of a Persian landowner who followed agriculture as
the noblest pursuit in which a man could engage, according to the
teachings of his religion.  In many places the canal was shut in on
both sides by reeds which reached a height of ten, or even fifteen,
feet.

They had proceeded for perhaps two hours and had made so many turns
that the Greeks had long ago lost all idea of direction, when they
reached a cluster of date-palms.  Nathan guided the boat to a
landing-place, and they stepped ashore.

"Jonathan, are you there?" he called softly.

"I am here," replied a guarded voice, and from among the trees stood
forth the figure of an old man.  "Pull your boat ashore and follow me,"
he said briefly.

They lifted the boat out of the canal and concealed it carefully among
the rushes.  The old man conducted them along a narrow path which
brought them to a group of farm buildings, among which stood a large
country house.  They entered by the rear and passed through several
dark passages until they came to a door, before which Jonathan halted
and knocked.  A deep voice from within bade them enter.  They found
themselves in a large, dimly lighted room, the walls of which were
lined with cases filled with rolls of papyrus.  On a long table stood a
shaded lamp among scattered papyri, half unrolled, and the materials
for writing.

A man of venerable appearance, with a spreading white beard, which
reached his girdle, rose from the table to greet them.

"This is Nehemiah, whose ancestor was Daniel the prophet, viceroy of
Babylon," Nathan said.  "These are the Greeks, Clearchus of Athens and
Chares of Thebes, concerning whom I wrote thee," he added, turning to
the old man.

"You are welcome in this house," Nehemiah said gravely.  "Jonathan,
bring food and wine."

He gathered the manuscripts tenderly from the table and laid them away,
setting chairs for his guests.  While the refreshment was being
prepared Nathan related the adventures of their escape, to which the
old man listened with close attention.

"Thou hast done well," Nehemiah said, when Nathan came to the end.  "I
have been considering that which thou told me, of the vision of the
viceroy in the third year of Belshazzar, at Susa, by the River Ulai,
and verily do I believe that thou art right.  The rough he-goat is come
out of the West, and for the kingdom of Persia, the time of its end is
at hand.  I have examined the writings of Daniel, in which, as Gabriel
ordered him, he shut up the vision two hundred years ago.  The kingdom
of Israel is bound to the Archæmenian line; but if thou canst win for
thy people the favor of the he-goat, thou mayst be the means of saving
them."

"I shall try," Nathan replied simply.

"Thou wilt understand," Nehemiah continued, addressing himself to
Clearchus, "that if I am to aid you, it must be done in secret.  It is
evident that you are in need of rest," he added, glancing at Chares,
who was nodding over the golden goblet that he had emptied.  "A hue and
cry will be raised for you, but I think I can keep you safe until you
have gained strength for your long journey."

Having dismissed Jonathan, he took up the lamp and led them to a hidden
chamber in the upper part of the house, where he left them.  They fell
asleep at daybreak and woke at nightfall.  After they had eaten,
Nehemiah provided them with fresh garments and with horses of the
Nisæan breed, the fleetest in his stable, and gave them weapons.  He
also furnished them with money for their flight.

"My men have brought me word from the city of your escape," he said,
"and the Great King is filled with wrath.  Ten of the guard were
crucified this morning at the gates; but Boupares so far has not been
arrested.  All the court is talking about Clearchus' plunge from the
wall.  It is thought that Beltis herself must have borne him up, and it
is even said that the Goddess was seen in the air beside him.  Her
priests will make the most of it, and, should you be taken, this may be
turned to account."

"What knowest thou of the pursuit, father?" Nathan asked.

"They have sent out a thousand horsemen to search the plain on this
side of the river," the old man replied.  "Thou wilt use caution and
hold to the unfrequented ways until the chase slackens.  For the rest,
put thy trust in the Most High.  He will save thee out of their hands
if He so wills it.  Farewell."

They rode into the night under the stars, bearing away from the river,
and keeping to paths known to Nathan among the reeds and groves.  At
frequent intervals they came upon one or another of the canals which
intersected the plain in all directions.  Chares and Clearchus were
filled with wonder at the enormous amount of labor that had been
expended in digging the great ditches which carried the water of the
river for irrigating the plain, and at the system of reservoirs by
which it was stored for the dry season.  Some of these formed lakes of
considerable size, dammed by great gates built of timber that could be
raised or lowered by means of levers.

As they proceeded westward toward the desert which lay between them and
the land of Israel, the level country was broken by low ridges and
hills, between which wound the canals.  Vegetation became less
luxuriant and the houses less frequent.

Twice at the beginning of their ride they heard parties of horsemen
near them, whom they took to be detachments of the searchers.  Once
they turned aside into a crossroad just in time to avoid a meeting.
But as they approached nearer to the border between the waste and the
cultivated bottom lands, no sounds reached their ears excepting the
trampling of their own horses, and they began to hope that they had
left their pursuers behind.

"Tell me, Clearchus," Chares said, after a period of reflection, "is
there any truth in what they say about you?"

"What do you mean?" Clearchus replied.

"Why, about this Beltis, you know.  Is it true that you are a modern
Endymion?"

"I don't know anything about her," Clearchus said.

"I thought you had more confidence in me," the Theban continued
reproachfully.  "If you think I shall say anything about it when we
reach Tyre, you are mistaken.  I hope I know enough to hold my tongue
about such delicate matters.  Is she as handsome as they say she is?"

"Listen!" whispered Nathan, holding up his hand and drawing rein.

The others came to a halt.  They had been riding up a shallow valley
along one of the canals.  Beside them rose a low ridge which separated
them from the next depression.  Beyond this ridge they could hear the
beating of hoofs and the jingling of bridles.  From the sound they
judged that twenty or thirty horsemen were advancing in a direction
parallel to their own.

"The roads join half a mile farther on," Nathan whispered.  "It is more
than likely that they will turn back along this one."

"Then we must make a dash for it and get there first," Chares said.
"Come on, I feel as though a race would do me good!"

"We might cross the ridge and fall in behind them," Clearchus suggested.

"Don't spoil sport; and besides, they would surely see us," Chares
replied.  "Forward!  Is not thy Beltis with us?"

Without waiting for a reply he struck in his spurs and darted forward,
with the others thundering at his heels.  The party beyond the ridge,
hearing the hoof-beats, also broke into a gallop, evidently being
acquainted with the fact that the roads converged.  Their horses,
however, were no match for the Nisæans.  Neck and neck, with long, even
strides, they raced up the road and swept past the meeting point while
the pursuers were still a hundred yards away.

Nathan looked back and recognized the uniform of the palace guard.  The
detachment consisted of men who, he knew, were both brave and skilful,
and who would not relinquish the chase while a chance of success
remained.  Their numbers made it impossible to think of facing them.
There was nothing for it but to keep on.

Beyond the point where the roads joined the ridges became higher and
steeper, drawing together until there was barely room for the track
beside the canal.  It was no longer practicable to leave the valley,
because to climb the acclivity that shut them in on either side would
have been difficult work for a footman, and it was out of the question
for horses.  The gorge turned and twisted between the hills.  Although
Nathan had never travelled this road before, he drew comfort from the
fact that the canal still flowed sluggishly beside them.  It must lead
them eventually, he believed, to more open country.

They had ridden a little more than a mile through this defile, which
seemed once to have been the bed of a stream, when Chares, who was in
the lead, drew up with a cry of dismay.  Further progress was barred by
a steep dam of earth and stone.  In the middle of the dam was the usual
gate, built of heavy timbers and planks.  The water spurted through the
cracks into the bed of the canal.

"It looks as though we should have to make a stand here," the Theban
cried.  "We cannot surmount this."

"Are you anxious to die?" Clearchus said.  "They would get above us on
the banks and spear us like so many frogs."

Nathan had thrown himself from his horse.  He ran to the gate.  As he
had expected, he found a narrow foot-path leading upward beside it.

"Come along," he cried.  "Here is a way up.  Leave the horses where
they are."

Down the valley behind them they could hear the shouting of the guards,
racing with each other in the narrow road in their eagerness to claim
the great reward that Boupares had offered for the capture of the
fugitives.

Clearchus and Chares dismounted and scrambled after Nathan up the path.
Their horses, deserted by their riders in the darkness, neighed shrilly
and strove to follow, digging their hoofs into the sand and gravel,
which fell in showers into the canal.

At the top of the path a large reservoir spread placidly far to the
right and left in a basin surrounded by low hills.

Nathan ran to the gate and knocked out the wooden pins that held it in
place.  It rose a few inches, and the water began to gush and gurgle
beneath it.  The Israelite seized a lever and thrust it into its notch,
calling to Clearchus and Chares to do the same on the other side.

The pursuit had almost reached the foot of the gate when the leader of
the detachment, a young man with a handsome face, saw that his horse
was splashing through the rising water and realized the danger that
threatened them.  He gave a sharp command to halt.  He glanced quickly
forward, and then back along the way they had come, as though
considering what course to take.

No time was allowed him for decision.  Nathan, Clearchus, and Chares
strained at the levers.

With a sharp creak the heavy gate was loosened, and the flood that
rushed beneath it helped to force it upward.

Roaring angrily, the water foamed into the gorge, filling it from side
to side with a torrent ten feet deep that dashed impatiently against
the walls of the tortuous channel.

The guardsmen had no chance to escape.  Like men of straw, they were
lifted, horse and rider together, whirled over and over, and swept down
the valley on the crest of the yellow wave.  Their cries were choked in
the rush of the water.

Nathan and Clearchus dropped their levers and stood gazing at the
surface of the turbid stream.  Chares joined them.

"It is a pity," he said regretfully.  "They deserved a better death.  I
wish we could have had a bout with them; but it may be all for the
best.  Let them go as a sacrifice to My Lady Beltis.  By Dionysus, she
has given us back our horses, too!  Look here!"

One of the Nisæans had gained the top of the dam and another was close
behind him.  The third had been overtaken by the flood and was
struggling piteously for a foothold with his fore feet.  Chares caught
him by the bit and dragged him up to safety.  They mounted and struck
off at random among the hills, seeking to get as far away as possible
before daylight should break.

This was the only direct encounter that they had with the soldiers of
the pursuit.  Skirting the desert, they made their way northward and
westward until all danger of capture had passed.  Once, in seeking to
cross an arm of the sandy waste, they went astray and nearly perished
from thirst.  On another occasion they were surrounded by a band of
robbers, from whom they barely escaped.  This last adventure took place
on the eastern slope of Mount Amanus on the borders of Cilicia, where
they arrived after a month of wandering.  It was here that they began
once more to hear the name of Alexander and to feel the currents of the
mighty storm that was gathering on the flank of the empire of Darius.



CHAPTER XXX

LEONIDAS UNDERTAKES A MISSION

Down from the Phrygian plateau, through a land that glowed with the
touch of autumn, marched the Macedonian host, with Alexander at its
head.  On a clear October night the army halted at the foot of the
rugged and forbidding crags of the Taurus.  Leonidas with his cavalry
troop followed the young king in the attack upon the Cilician Gates,
which scattered the guard stationed there and opened the way into the
satrapy of Cilicia.

From one of the captives taken at the pass, Alexander learned that the
satrap Arsames had planned to plunder the city of Tarsus and retreat
into Syria with his spoil.  While the main body of the troops was still
filing through the pass, he gathered a chosen body of cavalry and light
infantry and swooped like a falcon upon the town.  The Spartan rode
that day at the head of his squadron for fifty miles; and Arsames,
abandoning all thought of plunder, deemed himself fortunate to escape
with his garrison.

It was here that Alexander fell ill from bathing in the icy waters of
the Cydnus, and the rumor spread through the army that his life was in
danger.  Grief and anxiety pervaded the camp.  The toughest of the
veterans, with tears in their eyes, gathered before the house in which
he lay, demanding news of his condition.  The physicians came and went
with grave faces and in silence.

Although his fever ran high, Alexander insisted upon receiving his
friends as usual and attending to his affairs.  One day came a letter
from Parmenio, who had been sent forward with a strong detachment to
secure the southern pass into Syria through the Amanic range.  The
young king read it thoughtfully, and Leonidas noticed that he thrust it
under his pillow without discussing its contents as his custom was.

A conference of the physicians was being held to consider the king's
malady, for it was evident that some decisive measure must be taken if
the fever was to be checked.  In this consultation a dispute arose
between Philip of Acarnania and the other physicians.  Philip
maintained that a strong remedy should be given, but when he named the
potion that he proposed to administer, his colleagues declared that
they would have no part in it, holding the opinion that the drugs would
surely kill the patient.

Hearing the voices raised in controversy, Alexander demanded the
reason.  He called the doctors before him and listened to all they had
to say.

"Will this draught of which you speak enable me to ride Bucephalus in
three days?" he asked of Philip.

"I will answer for it," the Acarnanian replied.

"Compound it, then, for me," the young king said.  "When it is ready, I
will take it."

He turned his face away and the physicians left him.  During the
interval of waiting he talked with Clitus, Philotas, Leonidas, and
others of his Companions concerning the Trojan war, but, noting their
evident anxiety, he broke off to rally them upon it.

"Do not think," he said, laughing, "that we have come so far and
endured so much to stop here.  There is many a campaign yet before us."

When Philip came, bringing an earthen bowl containing a liquid which
steamed with an odor of spices, he raised himself on his couch and drew
Parmenio's letter from under his pillow.  As he took the bowl from the
physician, he handed him the letter.

"Read it!" he said quietly, setting the potion to his lips.

With his eyes on Philip he slowly drank the medicine.  The physician
glanced at the letter and grew pale, but he returned Alexander's gaze
without flinching.

"Drink and be of good cheer," he said.  "I tell thee this after having
read this charge against me."

He returned the letter as he spoke.

"I have drunk already," Alexander replied; and then, turning to Clitus,
he bade him read what Parmenio had written.

"Beware of Philip, your physician," the letter ran.  "I am informed
that he hath been bribed by the Great King with the promise of a
thousand talents and the hand of his daughter to poison thee.  I beg of
thee to take nothing that he may offer."

Scowling brows were turned toward the physician, who was busying
himself unconcernedly in heaping fresh coverings upon his patient.

"Let no man interfere," Alexander said sternly.  "Where I have placed
my trust, no other shall doubt."

This warning was sufficient to restrain the Companions, even when they
saw their leader lying like a dead man beneath the blankets, with
closed lids and a pulse that was scarcely perceptible.  But Philip
never moved his watchful eyes from the pale face, and when he saw drops
of perspiration rolling down the forehead a slight smile of
satisfaction appeared upon his lips.  His confidence and the faith that
the young king had placed in him had been justified; for an hour later
Alexander came out of his faintness, and, although weak, the fever had
left him.  He was able next day to show himself to the soldiers, and a
few days later to lead them against the bandits who infested the
southern part of the province, routing them from their fastnesses and
scattering to the four corners of the earth those who escaped the
sword.  On his return he received news that Ptolemy and Astander had
defeated Orontobates and captured the Salmacis and the Royal Citadel of
Halicarnassus.  He celebrated this victory and his recovery with
sacrifice and games after the ancient manner.

Suddenly across the country like wildfire spread the news that Darius
was approaching with an army so great that none might count its
numbers.  When inquiry was made, no man could tell whence the story had
come.  Alexander questioned many who were brought before him, but all
gave him the same answer.

"The Great King is coming," they said.  "Where he is we know not, nor
when he will be here.  All that we can say is that he is on the way,
for the Syrians told us, and they learned it from the travellers and
traders of the South."

Then came a shape of man who had once been a Corinthian.  His tongue
had been cut out and his ears and nose shaved away.  He could only nod
his head and weep when they asked him of the approach of the Persian
monarch.

Alexander sent for Leonidas.  The Spartan came with an impassive face,
and stood awaiting his orders.

"They say Darius is on the march," he said.  "Where he is and of what
his army consists, no one can tell me.  Choose what men you like and go
to Parmenio at the Syrian Gates, where I purpose to join him with the
army as soon as the march can be made.  Find the Persian and bring me
word there of the things that I should know."

"It shall be done," Leonidas replied.

On the evening of the fourth day after the order had been given,
Leonidas, with fifteen men of his troop, whose courage had been tested
in the campaign against the Pisidians, took leave of Parmenio and rode
out upon the rolling plains beyond the Syrian Gates.  He had learned
that Darius was at Sochi, two days' march away, but when he arrived
there, he found only hills and fields from which the harvests had been
stripped as if by locusts, and a city where starvation reigned.

Here he learned much of the numbers and character of the host that had
left such a track of desolation.  From Sochi he bore away toward the
left and the mountains, and on the third day overtook the Persian
horde, whose camp-fires stretched for miles across the plain.

Although thousands of camp followers and women had been left behind in
Damascus in charge of Cophenes, together with the greater part of the
luxurious equipage of the courtiers, and of the treasure in gold and
silver, which six hundred mules and three hundred camels could scarcely
carry, there still remained an enormous train in the rear of the army.

Leonidas soon ascertained everything concerning the army of Darius and
its composition that it was necessary for him to know; but he was
astonished to find that the Great King had passed beyond the Syrian
Gates, near which Alexander had expected to find him, and that he was
still marching northward.  This march puzzled the Spartan.  It carried
the Persian army each day farther from its base of supplies at
Damascus, and apparently did not give the Great King a better battle
ground than the one he had left behind at Sochi.  He determined to keep
the army in sight, at least until he had reached the Amanic Gates.
There was the only other entrance from Syria into Cilicia, and through
them Leonidas planned to carry the information that he had gathered to
Alexander, who would be awaiting him in the southern pass.  As the
Persian horde advanced, he found that he was being pressed toward the
wooded slopes of the mountain range.  At last, as the enemy showed no
intention of halting, he resolved to strike for the Amanic Gates, not
daring to delay his report longer.

He soon became entangled among the rocky spurs and ravines.  At last he
believed that he had reached the pass, and advanced far into the
mountains before some shepherds told him of his mistake.  Following
their directions, he crossed a lofty ridge and descended into the true
pass on the evening of the second day after his departure from the
Persian army.  Darkness overtook him, and he was forced to encamp
halfway up the precipitous slope of the valley.  Before sunrise next
day he roused his men and led them down toward the broad road below,
which followed a watercourse.

In their descent, Leonidas and his men entered a belt of timber that
for a short time hid the road from their view.  They burst their way
through the undergrowth, to find themselves face to face with a troop
of horsemen whom Leonidas recognized at once as belonging to the army
of Darius.

"The Persians have entered the pass," was the thought that flashed
through his mind before he considered his own danger.  That Darius
would seek to enter Cilicia instead of accepting battle upon the Syrian
plains was a possibility that had never even been discussed in the
Macedonian councils.  Leonidas realized that if Alexander had carried
out his plan of marching to the Syrian Gates, far to the southward, the
Persian army was about to place itself between him and the territory
that he had conquered, cutting off his line of retreat.  The safety of
the Macedonians might depend upon his reaching Alexander in time to
give him warning.

He gave a rapid glance at the Persians who confronted him.  There were
thirty or forty of them.  Far below he caught a glimpse of the plain,
where miles of troops, horse and foot, were crawling like ants toward
the pass.  The enemy gave him no time to see more.  They raised an
exultant shout and dashed upon him with lowered lances.  Although
Leonidas and his men fought with desperation, the Spartan realized that
they were not strong enough to hold their ground.  The mere weight of
their opponents forced them back, inch by inch, until their horses were
struggling on the brink of the slope to the bed of the stream.

"Let us die where we stand!" Leonidas shouted.  "Remember that we are
Greeks!  Forward, forward!"

He plunged in among the Persians, thrusting at their faces, and his men
were enabled to gain a few feet in the space that he had cleared.  The
relief was only momentary, for the Persians surrounded them on three
sides and the chasm was in their rear.

The captain of the Persian troop had not mingled in the contest.
Hovering in the background, he urged on his men, taking care to keep
out of danger.  Leonidas saw him as he wheeled, raising his arm to give
a command.  The sun flashed upon the glittering links of his gilded
corselet.  The Spartan hurled his lance at the mark with all the
strength in his body.  Straight flew the point of steel and split the
brazen links, like a bolt from a catapult.  The captain toppled from
his horse and lay with his face in the dust.  It was a final effort.  A
few moments more and all would be over.

Suddenly from the glen out of which Leonidas and his men had emerged
rode a man upon a powerful black charger.  In his hand he carried a
lance of unusual length.  His yellow hair tossed about his shoulders,
and his blue eyes turned eagerly toward the righting.

"Leonidas!" he shouted.  "Strike home!  We are here!"

Behind him rode two companions.  At sight of them the Spartan's brow
cleared.

"Chares!  Clearchus!" he cried.

Their coming turned the tide of the conflict.  The Persians, ignorant
of how many more might be following them, turned and fled down the pass
before the new arrivals could strike a blow.

Leonidas embraced his friends.  Of the Greeks who had fallen, only one,
a young man of Caria, who had been stunned by a blow from a mace, was
still alive.  Clearchus caught his horse, and they lifted him upon its
back.

"What brings you here?" Chares asked of Leonidas.  "Where is Alexander?"

"That I will tell you later," the Spartan replied.  "Look yonder!"

He pointed over the tree-tops on the lower slopes at the innumerable
host that was creeping toward the mountain side.

"The Persians are about to cross the pass," he said.  "Alexander and
the army are in danger of being cut off, and we alone can save them."

"If Darius crosses the pass, it will be in our footsteps," Chares said.
"Let us be off."

Of the men who had followed Leonidas down the mountain at daybreak,
only four remained.

"Lead on, Leonidas," Clearchus said.  "You are in command again."

The Spartan turned his horse's head up the pass and the others fell in
behind him.  They rode unchallenged, for the defile had not yet been
occupied by the Persian force.  From every new elevation they could see
the endless lines of infantry and cavalry slowly drawing together far
below them, until they passed at noon through a narrow way between
lofty and beetling cliffs, and saw Cilicia lying before them, with the
blue horizon of the sea in the distant southwest.



CHAPTER XXXI

ALEXANDER IS SURPRISED

In the second watch of the night, the Macedonian outposts challenged
four men whose horses were flecked with foam.  The strangers came from
the direction of Issus, along the narrow and rugged road that led
southward through the Syrian Gates, between the mountains and the sea.
Alexander had led his army that day through the pass, and it was
encamped at Myriandrus.  In the moonlight the sentinels saw that the
strangers were grimy with dust and that their faces were grim and gray
with fatigue.

"I am Leonidas, of the Companions," said one of the riders who seemed
to be the leader.  "Lead me to the general in charge."

They were conducted to Ptolemy, son of Lagus, who immediately
recognized Leonidas.  He greeted Chares and Clearchus with surprise.
The Spartan led him aside.

"Darius is at Issus," he said.

Ptolemy stared at him incredulously.

"The Persians behind us!" he exclaimed.  "You must be dreaming!"

"No," Leonidas replied.  "All day we have fled before them."

"The king must know at once," Ptolemy said.  "Follow me."

He led the way through the sleeping camp to Alexander's tent, in which
a lamp was burning.  A sentinel stood before it in full armor.

"What is your business?" he demanded.

"I must speak with the king," Ptolemy replied.

"The king left orders that he must not be disturbed.  Wait until the
morning," the man said calmly.

"I will take the responsibility," Ptolemy retorted angrily.  "Stand
aside!"

"You cannot pass," the soldier answered, without moving.

"What is this?" Alexander inquired, raising the curtain of the tent.
He held in his hand a copy of the Iliad, in which he had been reading.
"Is it you, Ptolemy--and Leonidas?  Enter."

They followed him into the tent, which contained nothing save his
weapons and a couch spread upon the ground.

"Clearchus and Chares back again!" the young king cried in a tone of
satisfaction.  "You have much to tell me; but first I must hear what
Leonidas brings."

"Darius and his army have passed the Amanic Gates and are now at
Issus," Leonidas said briefly.

The smile left Alexander's lips.

"How many men has he?" he asked.

"Five hundred thousand, of whom thirty thousand are mercenaries of
Greek blood," Leonidas answered.

"They are in our rear," Alexander said, half to himself.  He began to
pace backward and forward, with his hands behind his back and his head
inclined slightly toward his left shoulder.  Although the startling
news brought to him by the Spartan had taken him wholly by surprise,
his decision was swift.  Before he had made three turnings, his entire
plan of campaign had been changed.

"The Gods have delivered them into our hands!" he said in a tone of
conviction.  "I dared not expect such good fortune.  In the narrow
plain of Issus, their army will defeat itself.  The victory is ours."

His face was radiant and he spoke joyously, like a man whose mind has
been relieved of a great anxiety; but his eyes were fastened upon the
face of Ptolemy.  Alexander had not failed to note the expression of
apprehension that his lieutenant wore.  He saw it vanish before the
warmth of his own confidence.  He felt that he would be able to avert
any feeling of panic that might arise in the army at the unexpected
turn of events.

"This is good news you bring," he said to Leonidas, "and I am repaid
for waiting."

He glanced sharply at the sunken eyes and bloodless lips of the Spartan
and spoke to the sentinel.

"Tell them to bring food and wine at once," he commanded.

The young king's eyes fell upon Nathan, apparently for the first time.

"Who is this?" he asked.  "Come forward."

The Israelite had been standing in the background, watching Alexander's
face with a gaze of peculiar intensity.

"This is Nathan, who led us captive from Halicarnassus," Clearchus
replied.  "He saved us when we were condemned to death in Babylon, and
his aid enabled us to assist Leonidas in escaping from the Persians so
as to bring you his news.  He wishes to take service under you, and at
your leisure to tell you of certain prophecies concerning you that were
inspired by the God of Israel."

"It is well," Alexander said.  "He will serve with you and Chares in
the squadron that Leonidas commands.  Ptolemy, send a thousand of your
men to hold the pass behind us, until we come."

Alexander insisted that the young men should eat the food that was
brought into the tent in obedience to his order.  While they were
satisfying their hunger, he plied them with questions concerning Darius
and his army, the character of his men and their commanders, and the
formation and resources of the country about Babylon.  It was late when
he finally permitted them to retire.

In the morning Alexander called a general council of his leaders to
impart to them the information that Leonidas had brought.  He gave it
without comment, foreseeing that its first effect would be to arouse
uncertainty and dismay that must be overcome before the men would be
fit for battle.

The council was held in the open air in front of Alexander's tent.
There came the captains of the Companions and of the phalanx and the
generals of the allies.  About them pressed the rank and file of the
army, curious to learn the cause of the summons.  Parmenio stood beside
Alexander, his furrowed face grave with thought.

All eyes were turned upon the countenance of the young king, glowing
with confidence and enthusiasm.

"Darius and his army are behind you, at Issus," he announced.  "I have
called you together to learn your opinions as to what we should do.
Let each speak freely."

For a moment the soldiers stood in silence, looking doubtfully at each
other.  Then a murmur of uneasiness rose among them.  They had expected
to find the enemy on the Syrian plains, and behold, he was in their
rear.

"Parmenio," Alexander said, "what is your mind?"

"We must fight," the old general replied, carefully and slowly.  "The
Persians are between us and our homes.  They can enslave the Greek
cities of the coast that we have set free.  But they are so many that
they cannot wait.  Hunger will force them to attack us on our own
ground.  Let us wait until that time comes and then give them battle."

His words caused a brief stir of approval, but the great mass of men
remained silent.

"What is your advice, Ptolemy, son of Lagus?" Alexander demanded.

"It is true that Darius is in our rear," Ptolemy responded, "but it is
also true that we are between him and his empire, that we have come to
conquer.  Let us march upon Babylon and take the city.  The road lies
open before us."

A shout arose and a clashing of swords upon shields.  It was evident
that Ptolemy's rashness found more favor than Parmenio's caution.

One after another the generals and captains gave their opinions, some
agreeing with the older leader and some with the younger.  When all had
spoken Alexander seemed to meditate for a moment.

"O men of Hellas!" he cried, raising his head and looking into their
eyes, "we came to avenge the ancient wrongs that these barbarians
inflicted upon our fathers.  Remember Darius, son of Hystaspes; how he
brought his ships to your coasts and was defeated at Marathon.
Remember Xerxes and the victory of Salamis.  Never in the memory of man
have we been free from Persian attack; and when they no longer dared to
face us, they have sent their gold to corrupt our leaders and turn us
one against the other.  For these insults and injuries, their empire is
forfeit; for the Gods have grown weary of their treachery.

"What has happened when we met them, sword in hand?  In the long list
of their attacks upon us, they have had nothing but defeat.  Did not
the Ten Thousand march to the very gates of Babylon?

"I say to you that the Gods have wearied of the barbarian.  We were
marching to meet Darius upon the plain, where the vast number of his
army might have encompassed us.  We were willing to allow him to choose
his own ground, but the Gods would not have it so.  They have blinded
his eyes and led him to us almost as a sacrifice.  Nothing remains but
to strike the blow.

"O men of Macedon, my friends and companions, liberators of Greece, the
hour of our triumph is near.  At the Granicus we overthrew the army of
a viceroy; now we are to meet the army of the Great King himself.

"It is Persia that awaits our onset at Issus.  There have the Gods
assembled the might and power of the empire and it stands like corn
ripe for the reaper.  The sheaves of this harvest shall be of gold that
the barbarians have gathered for us as bees gather honey.

"Heroes of Hellas! from your iron hands none can wrest victory unless
you will it!  For yourselves and your children you are about to win
fame that shall endure through the ages.  I have never led you to
defeat, and now I promise you the victory!"

Dead silence reigned while Alexander artfully made his appeal to the
immemorial hatred of Persia, pointed out the advantage that Darius had
given them, and raised the hope of fame and spoil.  As he finished, a
cry rent the air that showed he knew his men.

"Alexander!  Alexander!" they shouted.  "Lead us!"

With swelling hearts, the generals and captains pressed forward to
grasp his hand and swear to lay down their lives for him.  He greeted
them each by name, reminding them of their bravest deeds and making
each man feel that the result of the battle might depend upon him
alone.  The council broke up, spreading its enthusiasm through the
camp.  On all sides the soldiers fell to polishing their weapons and
boasting of what they would do when they faced the army of Darius.

That day was devoted to preparation.  Alexander had sent a scouting
party of picked men to sail up the coast and learn the disposition of
the enemy's force.  This expedition returned at nightfall and reported
that the wounded and invalid soldiers who had been left in Issus had
been cruelly slain by order of Darius and their bodies impaled along
the shore.  Rage filled the army at this news and hardened the resolve
of the men to die rather than forego their victory and revenge.

The trumpets sounded at the first flush of dawn, and by sunrise the
army was flowing back through the Syrian Gates to the field where the
fate of the world was to be decided.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE WORLD AT STAKE

With the sea on their left and the mountain cliffs on their right,
Clearchus and Nathan rode on either side of Chares in the front rank of
the squadron of Companion cavalry commanded by Leonidas.  The crisp
November air and the excitement of the coming battle made their blood
tingle and raised their spirits to a pitch of reckless gayety.  The
Spartan rode in advance, without turning his head or moving a muscle
under the fire of jokes that Chares directed at him.

Presently the cliffs ended and the mountain barrier curved away inland,
leaving a plain of greensward and shingle, flooded with sunlight.

"There they are!" Clearchus cried eagerly.

Straight before them, perhaps three miles away, they saw a confused
mass of gleaming banners and the glint of countless spears.  The
shallow Pinarus, flowing down from the mountains, rippled across the
level, and on its further bank, where the ground was high, the Great
King had taken his stand.  For a mile and a half, from the hills to the
sea, the plain was blocked by a living rampart, gay with the pomp of
Oriental splendor.

As the squadrons of Macedonian cavalry emerged from the pass, they
wheeled to the right and formed their line close to the lower slopes of
the mountain.

"Here come the men of Thessaly," Chares cried.

Their plumes fluttering in the breeze, the Thessalian horse poured out
of the pass and ranged themselves behind the Companions.

Then the phalanx appeared, marching rank after rank, with the precision
of a machine.  The lancers under Protomachus and Aristo's Pæonians, who
had been thrown forward in advance of the cavalry, raised a shout as
the scarred veterans, each holding his long sarissa erect and bearing
his heavy shield across his shoulder, followed the proud Agema.

While the phalanx was forming on the left of the cavalry there was a
movement among the Persians.

"They are coming!" Chares shouted.

Clearchus and Nathan saw a large body of horse and foot advance across
the river.  Although in numbers they exceeded the entire Macedonian
army, their departure from the main body of the Persians seemed to make
no diminution in its size.  They halted as soon as they had crossed the
stream and from the host beyond came the bray of trumpets and the
hoarse murmur of many voices.

"They are taking their positions," Nathan said.  "They will not attack."

His conjecture proved correct, for in half an hour the troops that had
advanced fell back again across the river through openings that had
been left for them in the wings of the main force, and the glittering
front of the Persian army was revealed, drawn up in battle array.

The Macedonians had continued to advance slowly across the plain,
forming as they went, so that only half a mile now separated them from
the Persians.  Nathan's eyes sought the centre of the enemy's line.

"There he is!" he exclaimed, pointing with his finger.

Clearchus followed the direction he indicated and saw a blotch of
variegated color, above which fluttered many standards.

"Who is it?" he asked.

"Darius," Nathan replied.  "You can see his Medean robe of
purple--there, just beneath that golden banner."

"What troop is that about him?" inquired Chares.

"They are the princes and the nobles of the court," the Israelite
answered.  "Oxathres, the Great King's brother commands them."

"I wonder whether Phradates is there!" Clearchus said.

"I hope so!" Chares exclaimed, in a voice that came from his heart.

"There, in front of Darius, are his Greek mercenaries," Nathan
continued.  "Leonidas told the truth when he said there were thirty
thousand of them.  Those heavy-armed troops on each side of the centre
are the Cardaces.  And, look, there is the cavalry, there on the beach.
That is the flower of the Persian army.  Nabazarnes leads it."

"We met some of those blossoms at the Granicus," Chares remarked.  "It
did not take them long to wither; but there is a whole garden of them
yonder, and our line seems rather slender compared with theirs."

The Persian horse was massed on the smooth, hard beach in an enormous
wedge which looked as though it might be able, by weight alone, to
scatter the squadrons of Greek cavalry under Parmenio which were
opposing it on the left wing of the Macedonian army.  Evidently this
discrepancy had struck the attention of Alexander, for, while Chares
spoke, the Thessalians quietly left their places in the line and
trotted around behind the phalanx to reënforce the allies.

"There goes the sickle that will reap the roses of Darius," Chares
said, gazing after them longingly.  "Phœbus!  I wish I were with
them!"

"You will find plenty to do here," Clearchus said.  "There are a few
men over there on the hill who will have to be cared for."

He pointed to the slope on the right, where some twenty thousand of the
Cardaces were drawn up, far in advance of the Persian line, near the
foot of the mountain.

"They intend to try our flank when we advance," the Theban observed.
"I didn't know the Persians had so much sense."

"They are going to get a little exercise first," Clearchus said as the
flare of trumpets sounded down the line.

Immediately a body of light-armed foot-soldiers and cavalry detached
itself from the right wing and advanced up the hill toward the
Cardaces.  The eyes of both armies were upon them and a cheer ran along
the Macedonian ranks, from the hillside to the sea.

The Cardaces wavered slightly.  They had evidently not expected so
prompt an attack.  The leaders of the Macedonian force could be seen
riding or running in advance of the various divisions, and the men
followed as steadily as though the charge were merely an exercise
drill.  They paused to send a flight of arrows and stones among the
Cardaces, who, being armed only with lances and swords, had no means of
replying.  To charge down the hill meant that they would be annihilated
by the Macedonian army.  To remain where they were was to be slain
piecemeal by the darts and arrows.  They began to retire slowly upward
out of the zone of fire.

Their retreat was greeted from the Macedonian lines by a roar that
sounded like the booming of the surf upon the rocks.  The peltasts and
archers continued to press them until they had been forced into a
position where they were no longer a menace to the rear of the army.
The light-armed troops were then recalled, leaving two squadrons of
Companions, containing about three hundred men, to hold the twenty
thousand in check if they should attempt a charge.  They performed the
task imposed upon them.  Nothing more was heard of the isolated
Cardaces that day.

As the detachment returned down the hill and resumed its place in the
ranks, the commotion in the long, thin line that stretched away to the
sea gradually ceased.  The soldiers stood motionless behind their
captains.

Alexander, riding Bucephalus, gave his final commands to Parmenio on
the beach where the Thessalians waited with the allied cavalry to meet
the attack of the Persian horse.  Then he turned and came slowly up
along the line, drawing rein here and there to speak a word of
confidence and encouragement.  His double white plume floated over his
shoulders, and the sunlight flashed upon his coat of mail.

When he reached the right wing he addressed the Companions with his
familiar smile.

"Do not forget," he said, "that a part of your accustomed duty is to
set an example to the rest.  I shall lead the Agema.  Keep near me, for
I may need you.  Whether we win or lose, let it be with glory."

He turned his face toward the Persians and scanned with care the dense
masses of troops who stood waiting beyond the Pinarus, in lines so deep
that he could not see their rear.  His eyes lingered upon the centre,
where Darius, his rival for the mastery of the world, was standing.  On
the left of the Great King, the course of the stream bent backward, and
the formation of the Persian army followed its course.  The left of the
Greek mercenaries, upon whom Darius relied to win the battle, rested in
this elbow of the river.

"There is the vital spot," Alexander said.  "If we can gain a foothold
on that bank, have no fear of what may happen elsewhere.  It will be
easier than it was at the Granicus."

"The cavalry is coming," said Clitus, pointing toward the beach.

Alexander turned and saw the gayly caparisoned squadrons of the Persian
right dashing into the river.  The foam splashed about the knees of the
horses and a forest of lances waved and tossed in the air.

"There is work for Parmenio," the young king remarked as the head of
the column gained the shore.

He glanced once more along the Persian front, but the movement on the
beach did not extend to the main force.  It was clear that Darius
intended to compel him to begin the infantry battle.

Alexander cantered down to the right of the phalanx, where he
dismounted and placed himself at the head of the Agema.  On the beach
the Thessalians met the shock of the tremendous body of cavalry that
had been launched against them.  The impact bore them back, but even
that rushing avalanche of horses and men could not break them.  It
dashed against their wall of steel, recoiled, and rolled on again, in
successive waves, continually strengthened from the rear as fresh
squadrons crossed the stream.

The Macedonian line quivered with eagerness.  A page darted from
Alexander's side along the front of the phalanx and spoke a word to
Ptolemy, son of Lagus.  Another sped to the Companions.

"Advance," he cried, "and charge when the king leads!  This is the
order!"

"Here we go!" cried Chares, clapping Nathan on the back with a blow
that nearly hurled him from his horse.  "Stick to Leonidas!  He will
find the best of the fighting for us, or we will drown him in the
river!"

"The phalanx is moving!" Clearchus cried with shining eyes.

A dull throbbing beat through the air and the heavy centre started
slowly forward, each man touching the arm of his neighbor and keeping
step in parade order.  The cadence of voices began to mingle with the
drum beat and the wild music of the trumpets.

As they advanced, Clearchus gazed eagerly at the Persian line, every
nerve stretched to the point of physical pain.  He saw in the centre
the ranks of the Greek mercenaries, ten times as deep as those of the
phalanx, standing grim and motionless, in strange contrast with the
restless flutter of the heterogeneous masses that surrounded them on
three sides.  He blushed to think that, when Persia stood at bay,
Greeks could be found to range themselves with her against their own
country.  The thought passed through his mind that Alexander was right
after all, and that Demosthenes and those who aided him to fan the
flame of hostility to Macedon at home were really acting the part of
traitors, not only to Athens, but to all Greece.

He turned his eyes to Alexander, whose plumes shone in the front rank
of the Agema.  This had now almost reached the Pinarus.  Suddenly from
the phalanx rose the deep-toned pæan, summoning the Gods of Hellas to
protect their own.  The mighty chant drowned the throbbing of the drums
and the uproar of the battle on the beach.  As it rose and swelled, it
filled the plain and rolled back in echoes from the mountain sides.
There was something in it stern and inflexible, that thrilled
Clearchus' heart and lifted him to the plane of self-forgetfulness.

The Agema reached the river.  The pæan gave way to a wild shout as the
slow advance of the phalanx changed to a rush, and the Macedonian line
dashed into the rain of javelins, darts, and arrows that was poured
upon it from the Persian side of the stream.



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE CHESTNUT MARE

The phalanx swept into the shallow bed of the river.  The Greek
mercenaries who confronted it on the western bank, nerved by the hope
of gaining the immense reward promised by the Great King, and knowing
that his eyes were upon them, met its shock with courage.  Clearchus
heard the fierce shouts with which they closed and saw the line of the
phalanx bend and sway as it pressed upward to gain a foothold.

"Hot work," cried Chares, who was galloping beside him.  "By Zeus, the
king leads!"

Alexander, surrounded by young men whose hearts were as high as his
own, struck the left of the stubborn mercenary line where the curve in
the river half exposed its flank.  The Agema split its way in between
the files, tearing asunder everything before it.

"Follow the Whirlwind!" shouted Clearchus; but his voice was lost in
the wild cry of the charge.

Clearchus was conscious of being carried swiftly forward without
guidance or volition of his own.  The water of the Pinarus splashed in
his face.  A blaze of color spread confusedly before his eyes where the
Persians stood awaiting the charge on the terrace above.  An arrow
struck his breast and rebounded from his armor.  Javelins fell all
around him.

"Now!" he heard the voice of Chares shouting.  "Now for it!" and his
horse began scrambling up the bank with the others.

On his right and left the Companions rushed upward like a torrent.  He
grasped his lance more firmly, but he had no occasion to use it.  The
Persians gave way, crumpling back upon each other in a disordered mob.
Behind them in vain their captains plied the terrible knotted whips
with which they sought to hold the men to their work.

Showers of darts and arrows continued to fall from the rear, striking
friend and foe without distinction, but the Persian troops who were
directly exposed to the Macedonian attack huddled together like sheep.
They were prevented from fleeing only by the fact that they were hemmed
in by the dense ranks of their own host.  Through them the Companions
raged at will, clearing a space into which the archers and slingers
pressed with shouts of triumph.

Above the turmoil the Macedonian trumpets rang out high and clear, and,
in obedience to their command, the Companions swerved to the left,
leaving the light-armed troops to hold what they had gained.  Clearchus
saw that their charge had torn away the support from the left of the
Greek mercenary cohorts, leaving them wholly unprotected.  He caught
sight of the Agema and the other hypaspists, struggling hand to hand
with the mercenaries, and beyond them the phalanx, which he was
surprised to find had not yet succeeded in gaining a lodgement on the
west bank of the river.

"There's something worth fighting," Chares cried to Nathan, waving his
lance at the mercenaries.  "They are Greeks," he added proudly.  "Come
on, and we will show you what a real battle is like."

The Companions had partially regained the order which they had lost in
the charge.  They now faced the mercenary flank at right angles to the
front of both armies.  Again the trumpet notes launched them forward.
Again the wild cheer arose, ending in a grinding shock.  The momentum
of the charge carried the Companions far into the exposed flank of the
mercenaries; but this time no panic and no yielding followed.  Although
hard pressed in front by the furious and unremitting onslaught of the
Agema and the hypaspists, where Clearchus again caught the gleam of
Alexander's floating plumes, the hirelings stood their ground until
death overcame them.  Facing half about, they met as well as they could
the attack of the Companions to which the cowardice of their allies had
laid them open.  But not even their courage could save them,
unsupported and without generalship as they were, from the impetuous
determination of Alexander.

Into the living wall the Macedonians hewed their way, foot by foot.
Alexander raged like a tiger, knowing that here the battle was to be
lost or won.  The phalanx was all but broken.  Away on the beach the
Thessalians had been borne back by the impenetrable masses of the
Persian cavalry and were holding the enemy in check only by a series of
desperate and reckless charges.  At that moment Darius was triumphant
everywhere excepting at the bloody curve in the river where Alexander
led in person.

It seemed to Clearchus that for hours they were locked in that
desperate struggle without being able to advance.  His lance was broken
and the hand in which he held his sword was numb.  Beside him he saw
the broad shoulders of Chares heave and fall as he delivered his blows.
The lust of battle seemed to flame in the Theban's veins like a fever.
Again and again the mercenaries leaped upon him to pull him down.  His
sword was everywhere.

"He is mad!" thought Clearchus, and so indeed he seemed.

Nathan fought beside him, cool and wary, parrying and thrusting with
sinews of steel.  His eyes glowed with excitement held in check, and a
flush tinged the sunburned olive of his cheek.

Little by little, the Companions worked their way toward the
hypaspists, until at last the cavalry and the foot fought side by side,
with Alexander at their head.  So fierce was the conflict that flesh
and blood could not long sustain it.  The flank attack finally threw
the left of the mercenaries into confusion, which gradually extended
until the ranks that opposed the phalanx began to waver.  A mighty
quiver ran through the hireling force.  Its resistance weakened and it
gave ground.

With a wild shout the phalanx rushed up the river bank.  The mercenary
lines were hurled backward.  The wall was broken.

Among the swirling eddies of men and plunging horses, Clearchus found
himself close to Alexander.  He saw the young king, sword in hand, his
armor dimmed with dust and blood, pause for a moment with heaving
breast to note the final charge of the phalanx.  As soon as he saw the
straightened lines and caught sight of the sarissas rising above the
river bank, followed by the grim faces of his veterans, he turned and
directed his gaze in the opposite direction, toward Darius.

The Great King had not shifted his ground since the beginning of the
battle.  He still stood, erect and proud, in the golden chariot with
its four white steeds, whose jewelled bridles were held by slaves.  His
long robe, in folds of lustrous purple, floated from his shoulders.  In
his hand he held an idle bow, inlaid with pearl.  He looked unmoved
upon the slaughter that was going on before his eyes, but when the
mercenary line gave way, he turned to his brother Oxathres.

"Is that the courage of which these Greeks boast so much?" he asked.

Oxathres shrugged his shoulders.

"They are dogs," he replied.  "Wait until the Macedonian has spent his
strength upon them, and we will show him what it is to meet Persian
steel.  Look yonder, O king!"

He waved his hand toward the sea beach, where the Persian cavalry had
pushed Parmenio and the Thessalians back from the river's mouth.

"So will we do to them here," he said contemptuously.

A cupbearer brought Darius a goblet, gleaming with precious stones and
filled with the wine that only the royal lips might taste.  The Great
King drank it deliberately and turned again to the battle.

"What is that handful of horsemen there on the left?" he asked.

"They are called the Companion cavalry," Oxathres answered.  "They are
said to be brave men."

"Who is leading them?" Darius asked again.

"Alexander, who wears the white plumes," his brother replied.  "He is
mounting.  They are about to charge."

"Will he dare to attack us here?" Darius queried anxiously.

"Grant, O Beltis, that he may!" Oxathres said fervently.  "Then we
shall have him at our mercy."

"What shall I do with him when he has been captured?" Darius asked.

"O king, may you live forever!" Oxathres exclaimed.  "Many have fallen
this day.  Crucify him beside his fellow-robbers on the shore as a
warning to all the world."

"Could I so treat a king?" Darius asked doubtfully.

"Thou couldst treat him so, for he is no true king," Oxathres urged.
"Thou knowest the stories of his birth."

"So then shall it be," Darius said.  "Give the necessary orders."

At that moment the steward of the king's household forced his way
through the nobles and prostrated himself, kissing the dust before the
chariot.

"Speak," Darius commanded.

"O king of kings!" the man said, "Sisygambis, thy mother, and the Queen
Statira sent me to know if thou wert safe, and to ask when thou wilt
return to them."

"Tell them to have no fear," Darius said confidently.  "Let them make
ready to attend the banquet in my pavilion at the going down of the
sun."

Darius glanced again at the Companions, who were forming for the charge
under cover of the advancing phalanx, and let his eyes sweep slowly
over his own forces.  Around him stood princes and governors of
provinces, satraps, viceroys, and generals.  His personal guard of ten
thousand horse was drawn up on either side, while in front of him, so
disposed as not to obstruct his view of the battle, were ranged the
Immortals, ten thousand of the bravest soldiers of his empire.

In an open space behind his chariot stood a group of white-robed
priests around a massive altar of silver from which rose the pale blue
perfumed smoke of the eternal fire.  Mithra, Darius believed, would
never forsake his votaries or permit his fire to be extinguished.

"They are coming," the Great King said tranquilly, having completed his
inspection.  "Look, Oxathres, Baal has stricken them with madness!"

He leaned forward in his chariot, fixing his eyes upon the white plumes
that his brother had said distinguished his rival.  Between him and the
Macedonians stood a solid barrier of men, every one of whom was ready
to die if by so doing he could save his master so much as a scratch.

"If they will persist in their folly," Oxathres said, "let them come."

The Companions tore their way through the remnant of the mercenary
line.  Onward they came, trampling and scattering a squadron of Scyths
as if their weapons had been the toys of children.  They reached the
Immortals.  Darius drew a breath of relief.  There they must stop at
last.

But no!  The white plumes still advanced, and behind them came a
widening stream of horses and men.  It seemed as though nothing could
stand against them.  The Immortals were scattered like chaff from a
threshing-floor.

Oxathres changed color.  He turned and spoke to his trumpeter.  The
brazen note that followed warned the nobles to make ready for a charge.
The heart of many a silk-robed courtier who had been boasting all day
of the deeds he would do when his chance came grew sick at the sound.
The time had come.

Darius hastily dismounted from his heavy chariot, leaving his mantle
behind him, and took his place in another chariot, drawn by two horses
only and more easily manageable.  At a sign from Oxathres, a groom
advanced, leading a beautiful chestnut mare, who tossed her head with
distended nostrils, neighing for her foal, which had purposely been
left behind beyond the Amanic Gates in Syria.  The groom took his place
in silence beside the chariot.

"Shall I lead the charge?" Darius asked.

"Thy servants beg of thee not to deprive them of the glory that awaits
them," Oxathres replied.

Darius waved his hand in assent.  Already the nobles in the outer
circle of the royal guard were struggling for their lives with the
Companions.  The charge had been delayed too long and there was no time
now to make it.  Nothing was left but defence.

Darius saw the white plume tossing like a fleck of foam on the crest of
an advancing wave.  He fitted an arrow to his bow and drew it to the
head.  The loosened shaft struck the satrap Arsames and passed through
his body.

Princes and nobles fought breast to breast with the sons of Macedonian
herdsmen.  There was no longer question of rank or power, of birth or
riches, but only of who had the braver heart and the stronger arm.  The
eminence on which the Great King had posted himself to witness the
punishment of the invaders at his leisure was clothed in slaughter.
His favorites were rolling in the dust under the feet of their maddened
horses.  For the first time in his life, the monarch looked in the face
of peril, and his spirit quailed before the test.

Out of the struggle Oxathres came galloping, breathless and with blood
upon his armor.

"Save thyself, brother!" he cried, forgetting the royal titles in his
haste.  "The battle is lost!  Mount and fly while there is yet time!"

Darius sprang from his chariot and threw himself upon the back of the
chestnut mare, whose silken flanks trembled with excitement.  A bound
and she was beside the smoking altar, from which the priests had
already fled.  In her ears rang the anxious call of her foal, and the
brute instinct of her mother-love saved that day the King of Kings, who
was leaving his own wife and children and the queen his mother to the
mercy of his enemies.

Straight as an arrow, leaping every obstacle that came in her way, the
mare darted through the confused squadrons of the reserves toward the
Amanic Gates.  Behind her thundered prince and satrap, each intent upon
saving himself at whatever cost.

"The king flees!  The king flees!"  The cry rose in a hundred tongues
throughout the Persian host.  The tens of thousands of troops who had
not been called upon to strike a blow because there had been no room
for them in the fighting line melted away as if by magic.  The plain
was filled with men streaming toward the mountains or the sea, seeking
some place of refuge.  Here a body of Scyths, clad in shuggy skins,
retreated sullenly; there a band of dark-skinned Libyans ran like a
herd of frightened cattle, casting away their clubs and stone-tipped
spears; Arabs, Egyptians, Indians, Assyrians, fled in panic, each man
seeking to place his neighbor behind him.  Collisions were frequent,
and more than one unfortunate was hacked down because he stood in the
way of some savage comrade in arms.

The men who were actually engaged in fighting did not at first perceive
that they were being left to their fate.  As soon as they discovered
the desertion of the reserves, many of them threw down their weapons
and sued for mercy.  A portion of the Greek mercenaries alone
maintained a semblance of discipline, though broken into several
bodies.  They fell back, still facing their enemies, toward the
seashore, in search of ships to carry them away.

To the Persian cavalry, that had borne back Parmenio, the news of
defeat came last of all.  They alone still held an advantage, and it
was bitter for them to be forced to abandon it.  But without support
they were powerless.  The phalanx wheeled in upon them, threatening to
drive them into the sea.  Finally they too relinquished hope and joined
the rout.

Then through all the plain and up the mountain slopes rode squadrons of
Macedonian horse, cutting down the fugitives.  The Thessalians there
took merciless revenge for their losses.  The earth was encumbered with
corpses.

When the trumpets at nightfall recalled the scattered and weary bands
of executioners, nothing of the vast army of Darius remained on the
plain excepting the spoil and the dead, over whom the jackals snarled
and howled.  And down the Syrian slope of the pass, bathed in sweat,
galloped the fleet-limbed chestnut mare, with Darius upon her back.



CHAPTER XXXIV

IN THE PAVILION OF THE QUEENS

On the night after the battle, rough soldiers of the phalanx slept in
garments of fine wool wrought with gold, clasping in their hands
necklaces of jewels in which the glow of the camp-fires danced and
flashed.  Chares had decked himself in a long cloak of scarlet, upon
which strange patterns were worked in silver.  A collar of emeralds
encircled his arm, and bracelets of gold gleamed upon his wrists.

"These are for Thais," he said proudly, opening a strip of linen and
displaying to Clearchus a collection of gems that sparkled with varying
hues.

"You are a barbarian at heart," the Athenian said.  "Come, let us join
the king.  Leonidas waits for us."

Alexander sat upon his foam-streaked horse in the golden glow of the
sunset.  He had removed his white-plumed helmet, and the cool air
bathed his temples.  There was a new flash of pride in his eyes as he
gazed upon the field of his triumph.  The last orders had been given,
the wounded had been cared for, and Parmenio had been despatched to
Damascus, with a swift body of horse, to take possession of the Persian
stores and treasure before they could be removed.

"Now let Demosthenes put on mourning!" Alexander exclaimed.  "Come, let
us see what provision Darius has made for us."

Followed by his Table Companions, he led the way toward the great
pavilion, which none had dared to enter before him.  At the entrance
stood the chariot from which the Great King had looked upon the wreck
of his hopes.

"Here is the royal mantle," Alexander remarked, spreading out the
purple robe, stiff with gold.  He tossed it back into the chariot,
which he ordered to be removed.

Like a troop of boys, the Macedonians entered the great pavilion.
Light from a hundred lamps filled the tent.  Rich carpets had been
spread upon the ground, and embroidered hangings divided the interior
into a succession of rooms destined for the use of the Great King.
From one to another Alexander led the way, making no attempt to conceal
his wonder at the evidences of luxury that he there encountered for the
first time.

In the first apartment, they found a wardrobe consisting of suits of
armor inlaid with gold and silver; garments of silk and linen; helmets,
shoes, parasols, mirrors, and a litter of utensils the uses of which
were unknown to the Companions.

"I wonder what my old governor, Leonidas, would say to this?" Alexander
cried.  "He would never allow me clothing enough to keep me warm in
winter."

Next they entered the treasure-chamber, filled with chests of cedar,
bound with iron and brass.  Several of these chests had been forced
open, apparently by faithless slaves; but the rapidity of the
Macedonian victory had not allowed them to carry away more than a very
small part of the treasure.  The boxes contained golden coins bearing
the stamp of Darius, and evidently fresh from the mint.

"Here is balm for the wounded," Alexander said, lifting a handful of
the coins and permitting them to fall back in a glittering stream.

Beyond this, they found the bed upon which Darius was to have reposed
from the fatigues of the day.  It was a mass of down, covered with silk
and linen of the finest texture, and hung with silken curtains, fringed
with gold.  Adjoining the bedchamber was the scented bath in an
enormous vessel of solid gold.  Near it stood rows of crystal vases and
jars of Phœnician glass, containing unguents and rare perfumes,
compounded of priceless ingredients after formulæ known only to the
body-servants of the Persian kings.

"This is what gave us the battle," Alexander said, pointing to the
enervating array.

He pushed aside the last curtain and stood in the banquet room.  Along
its sides tables had been spread, flanked by rich couches and covered
with dishes of massive gold and silver.  At one side of the room was a
canopied couch, higher and more magnificent than the others.  The
tables had been prepared before the flight of the attendants.  Royal
wine sparkled in goblets of crystal and beakers of gold.  Hephæstion
found the kitchen and reported that all the materials for the feast
were in readiness.

"Let our cooks take charge of them," Alexander said.  "I bid you all to
sup with me here to-night."

This idea was received with eager applause and in an hour the
preparations had been made.  The Macedonians, wearing garlands of oak
leaves, stretched themselves upon the gorgeous couches and partook of
the strange dishes that were set before them by the pages.  Goblets
were filled and emptied and beakers were drained.  Each man began to
relate the deeds of valor he had performed on the battle-field,
explaining in great detail how, but for him, the day would have been
lost.  Alexander alone, who had led them to victory, had nothing to say
of himself, though he talked with Ptolemy, son of Lagus, Perdiccas, and
Philotas of the mistakes that Darius had made.

Aching muscles and smarting wounds were forgotten under the influence
of the wine and in the vainglorious rehearsal of the battle.  The
Macedonians began to feel that the world lay at their feet, and their
minds were uplifted by dreams of endless conquest.  The pavilion rang
with laughter and was filled with the babel of tongues.

Suddenly, amid the jesting, the voices of women raised in lamentation
penetrated the tent.  The merriment was hushed, and every head was
turned toward the sounds.  Alexander despatched a page to learn the
cause and the lad breathlessly brought word that Sisygambis, the Great
King's mother, and Statira, his wife, were bewailing his death.

"Come, Hephæstion," Alexander said gravely, rising from the royal
couch.  "Let us reassure them."

Looks of intelligence and furtive smiles were exchanged as the two
young men left the pavilion; but none dared venture upon open comment.
From the beginning of war, the women of the vanquished had been counted
as part of the victor's spoil.

Following the direction of the sorrowful sounds, Alexander discovered a
smaller pavilion in the rear of the first.  At its doorway stood a dark
and stalwart figure, erect and motionless as a statue.

Upon the approach of the young king, the silent guardian fell with his
face to the earth and remained motionless.

"Who art thou?" Alexander asked, looking down upon him.

"I am Tireus," the man replied.  "I guard the women."

"Why didst thou not save thyself when thy master fled?" the young king
inquired.

"Because the women could not flee," Tireus replied simply.

Alexander reflected for a moment.  "Rise!" he said at last.  "Had thy
master possessed more servants like thee, he would not have lost his
empire.  Thou art chief eunuch.  Keep thy charge, and if any molest
thee, make thy complaint to me.  Go now and ask if Alexander may be
admitted."

Tireus had risen, but instead of obeying, he fell again upon his knees,
stretching his hands toward Alexander in supplication that he dared not
put into words.

"Go," Alexander said, understanding his meaning.  "They have nothing to
fear."

Tireus went, returning in a moment to draw aside the curtain so that
the young king might enter.  The wailing had ceased.

Alexander and Hephæstion found themselves under a silken canopy of
crimson.  The floor of the pavilion was covered with thick carpets,
woven in bright colors and laid one upon another.  Silver lamps
suspended from above diffused a soft light.

Huddled together in the middle of the tent upon heaps of cushions lay a
crowd of women in attitudes of despair.  Their white arms and shoulders
gleamed through their dishevelled hair.  Their eyes were heavy with
weeping.  They seemed like a flock of doves that had been caught in a
snare and were awaiting with palpitating breasts the coming of the
fowler.

A woman of mature years rose from the group and threw herself at the
feet of Hephæstion, mistaking him for the king, because he was taller
than Alexander and still wore his armor.  She was Sisygambis, the queen
mother.

"Mercy!" she cried, with streaming eyes.  "Thou hast slain my son.
Have pity upon his mother and his innocent wife."

"I am not the king!" Hephæstion exclaimed, hastily stepping back.

"I am blinded by my sorrow!" Sisygambis replied, turning to Alexander
in confusion.  "Pardon me, I pray thee, in the name of thy own mother,
Olympias!"

Alexander stooped and raised her gently by the hand.

"Thy son lives," he said.  "Be not alarmed that you mistook my friend
for me, for Hephæstion is also an Alexander."

Sisygambis looked earnestly into the boyish face before her.

"Is Darius still alive?" she asked beseechingly.  "Is it true?  I am
his mother.  Do not deceive me!"

"He is alive and he is free," the young king replied.  "He escaped into
Syria."

With a cry of joy, Statira rose from among her women, clasping in her
hand the chubby fist of her child.  The heavy masses of her dark hair
framed a face of pure oval.  The color flooded her cheeks, and her eyes
shone in fathomless depths of mystery and life.  As his glance met
hers, Alexander was conscious of a thrill such as he had never felt
before.  His pulses were disturbed, and he felt his face flush.  With
an effort he mastered the unaccustomed emotion.

"Alexander does not make war upon women," he said quietly.  "For your
own sakes, I must carry you with me; but you are as safe as though you
were still in your palace in Babylon.  Your household shall remain with
you.  Command as freely as you did yesterday, and fear nothing."

"How shall we repay you?" Statira exclaimed, attempting to kneel at his
feet.

"By ceasing to grieve," he replied.  "Remember that you are still a
queen."

The infant son of Darius looked at him with round eyes of wonder.
Alexander took the child in his arms and kissed him.

"Come, Hephæstion," he said, turning to go.  The Macedonian, whose gaze
had been fixed upon Statira with an intensity that rendered him
oblivious to everything else, roused himself and followed.  As they
passed from the pavilion, they heard a murmur of women's voices in
silvery notes of astonishment and admiration.

Alexander was silent and thoughtful when he resumed his place at the
head of the banquet table.  The Companions were impatient to learn the
details of his visit.

"Is the queen as beautiful as they say?" Perdiccas ventured at last.

The young king frowned slightly, and the hand in which he held his
goblet trembled.

"Whoever in future speaks to me of the beauty of Statira, wife of
Darius," he said, "that man is no longer my friend.  Let it be known to
the army that she is to be treated with all the respect due to a queen.
He who forgets shall be punished."

He glanced at Hephæstion, who flushed and looked another way.  For a
moment there was silence in the tent, and then the laughter and talk
flowed on as though nothing had occurred to interrupt them.



CHAPTER XXXV

PHRADATES MAKES A WAGER

Phradates stood on the broad stone wharf in the Sidonian Harbor of
Tyre, amid a group of young men whose costly garments and jewelled
fingers showed them to belong to the rich families of the richest city
in the world.  Upon the edge of the wharf were gathered a score of
older men, clad in sombre robes, over which spread their silvery
beards.  They wore close-fitting caps and heavy golden chains.  Each
carried a short rod of ebony and ivory as a token of authority.  They
were the elders, members of the council of King Azemilcus, who was
absent with the fleet of Autophradates, the Persian admiral.

The basin of the harbor formed a deep bay, shut in on the seaward side
by lofty walls, built of huge blocks of squared stone laid in gypsum.
On the right, facing north, was a narrow opening in the barrier,
forming a passage flanked by long breakwaters.  The circumference of
the harbor was ringed by a succession of stone wharves, where hundreds
of merchant vessels were moored, their sails furled against their
masts.  They were discharging their cargoes or taking on lading for new
voyages.  Lines of men, half naked, ran backward and forward between
the ships and the great warehouses, carrying bales upon their heads.
The sailors, chanting monotonous songs, were emptying the holds of the
ships or storing away the fresh cargoes.

"There's an old tub that looks as though she had seen service," cried
one of the young men.  "Let us see where she has been."

They strolled across to a vessel whose weather-beaten sides and patched
sails told of rough usage.

"Whence came you?" demanded the youth, addressing the brown-faced
master, who stood at the gangway, superintending the discharge of his
cargo.

"From the Cassiterides," the man replied.

"Where are they?" the youth asked, gazing at the bright ingots of tin
that the sailors were dragging to the deck.

"They are in the western seas," the master answered, "so far that
Carthage seems but a stone's throw away.  Three months we were beaten
northward by storms, and the waves of the great ocean ran higher than
the walls of the city.  At last we came to the land of long days, where
the men have yellow hair and blue eyes and the women are more beautiful
than light.  By the favor of Baal, we were enabled to obtain a store of
amber that is created there by the sun, in exchange for beads of glass.
This we dedicated to the God, and after we had got our tin on board, he
brought us back under his protection."

The young men listened, open-mouthed.  From their boyhood, they had
been accustomed to drink in such tales of mystery and wonder along the
wharves of the city, nursing the bold spirit of adventure that was born
in every Phœnician.  They plied the master with questions.  What
monsters of the sea had he seen?  What were the customs of the men of
the North?  Was it true that they devoured strangers who fell into
their hands?  The mariner told them of enormous water snakes and
dragons, but his marvellous tales were interrupted by a cry from the
walls, where lookouts were always posted to scan the sea.  The state
trireme had been sighted.  She was returning from Sidon, bringing
Prince Hur and the ambassadors whom the council had despatched to
Alexander.  The council was now awaiting their return.

At the signal from the walls, work was suspended throughout the city
and the population crowded to the harbor.  Merchants with their tablets
clasped in their hands, dyers with their arms stained to the elbow,
metal workers, artisans, laborers, and soldiers of the garrison,
thronged to the water front by thousands to learn the answer of the
Macedonian.  A vast murmur of expectation and speculation rose from the
people.

Presently, through the entrance of the harbor, the trireme could be
seen, making for the opening between the sea-walls, over which the
waves were dashing in spurts of white spray.  Urged by its three banks
of oars, rising and falling in unison, the vessel ran swiftly into the
harbor.

Headed by Prince Hur, the son of Azemilcus, the ambassadors were
standing grave and silent upon the deck.  At sight of their anxious
faces a hush fell upon the crowd.  The pilot gave a sharp command, the
oars churned backward in the water, and the long trireme swung into her
mooring.  The ambassadors descended to the wharf and spoke in low tones
to the elders of the council.

Was it peace or war?  War!  The news ran through the crowd and into the
city as ripples spread across the face of a pool when a stone falls.
Turmoil and confusion followed.  What had Alexander said?  Would the
other Phœnician cities join with Tyre to repel him?

They had deserted her.  Tyre must stand alone.  Strato, son of
Gerostratus, king of Adradus, had surrendered.  Byblos had capitulated.
Sidon had opened her gates to the Macedonians.

"We offered submission according to our instructions," said the chief
of the ambassadors, to the council.  "Alexander accepted it and bade us
tell you it was his purpose to offer sacrifice in the temple of
Melkarth, who, he says, is really Heracles, and his ancestor.  We
replied that Tyre could not admit strangers within her walls, but that
Melkarth had an older temple on the mainland, where he might offer
sacrifice.  'Tell your council,' he said, 'that I and my army will
offer sacrifice to Melkarth upon his altar within the walls of New
Tyre.  Bid them make ready the temple.  It is for them to say what the
victims shall be.'  That was all."

"You did well; let us consider," said Mochus, the eldest of the council.

They walked in slow and silent procession to the palace of the king in
the southern quarter of the town and disappeared within its gates.

The city continued to seethe like a huge caldron.  Its unwonted stir
attracted the attention of Thais and Artemisia, on the housetop, where
they had gone as usual to take the air after midday.  The two young
women stood side by side, close to the parapet of the roof, looking
down into the narrow streets, where men came and went like ants whose
nest has been disturbed.  The strong sea-breeze blew out Thais' crimson
robe into gleaming folds, and the sun glistened upon the burnished
copper of her hair.  Rich color glowed in her cheeks and in her scarlet
lips.  The immortal vitality of the salt breeze and of the crisply
curling waves seemed in her.  She laughed aloud.

"I wonder what is the matter?" she said.  "These Phœnicians are
afraid of their own shadows."

Artemisia smiled.  Her chiton of fine white wool, edged with purple,
outlining her figure, indicated that it had lost some of its roundness.
Her face was pale; blue veins showed through the transparent skin of
her temples.

"I hope it means something good for us," she said, slipping her arm
around her sister's waist.  "When shall we get away from this hateful
city?"

"The time will come, child," Thais said soothingly.  "You shall see him
again; I know it."

It was a conversation that had been repeated many times.  Artemisia
drew a sigh that caught in her throat in a little sob.

"Oh, Thais, if I could feel his strong arms around me only once," she
said, "I think I could die in thankfulness."

"Do not talk of dying," Thais replied reprovingly.  "See, the world is
beautiful!"

They stood in silence for a moment, gazing at the scene, which was
indeed beautiful, as Thais had said.  On three sides the sea flashed
and sparkled with white-capped waves before the southwest wind.  On the
east a channel, half a mile in width, divided the mainland from the
island upon which the new city was built.  Beyond the strait lay the
city of Old Tyre, with its wide circle of walls.  There, as in the new
town, thousands of pieces of cloth--linen, woollen, cotton, and
silk--fresh from the vats of the dyers, were hung to dry in the sun.
The juice of the shell-fish had lent them rich hues of blue, violet,
crimson, scarlet, and the peculiar shade of purple known as "royal"
that for ages had made the city famous.  Hundreds of fishing and
trading vessels were drawn up along the wharves or upon the beach.

Behind the old city, three miles from the beach, rose Mount Lebanon,
clothed to its snow-clad summits with the foliage of pine, cedar, oak,
and sumach.  Its mighty barrier stretched north and south into the
misty distance, leaving always between its base and the shore a narrow
strip of level land that was given up to tillage.

From the elevation where they stood, the young women looked upon other
roofs, filling the space inside the walls, which rose from the sea for
one hundred and fifty feet, with towers at every curve and angle.  They
could see the Sidonian Harbor on their right and the Egyptian Harbor
opposite to it on their left, both crowded with masts and connected by
a canal spanned by movable bridges.

Before them rose the towers and cupolas of the Temple of Melkarth, and
near it the wide Eurychorus, or market-place.  Farther south was the
huge dome of the Temple of Baal, and there, too, was the royal palace,
with its many terraces crowned by a lofty citadel.  Agenor's Temple was
on the north, overlooking the Sidonian Harbor.  Near the western wall
was an oasis of verdure which marked the gardens attached to the
voluptuous Temple of Astarte, where, through the foliage of palm and
rhododendron, shone the marble columns of her habitation.

Phradates had caused a striped awning to be erected upon the roof.
Beneath this was spread a gay Babylonian carpet, with couches and
silken cushions.  Shrubs and flowering plants stood in great vases of
stone, screening the enclosure from the eyes of the curious.  All the
other housetops of the quarter were occupied in a similar manner, thus
enabling the population to escape the heat of the lower levels, from
which the breeze was excluded by the height of the walls.  The space
inside the city was so crowded that the houses rose many stories, and,
excepting those belonging to wealthy persons, each sheltered scores of
families.

"It is a proud city," Thais said musingly.

"Yes," Artemisia replied.  "Proud, and cruel, and heartless!"

She shivered as she spoke.  Thais beckoned to one of the women, who
stood at a respectful distance, talking in low tones with a slender,
dark-skinned man, whose cunning eyes gleamed like those of a rat.  He
was Mena the Egyptian.

"Fetch a wrap," Thais said to the slave girl who answered her summons.

The girl brought a shawl of cashmere and laid it around Artemisia's
shoulders.

"Something tells me that our captivity will soon be over," Thais said.
"Things cannot last much longer as they are."

There was a meaning in her words that Artemisia did not grasp.  Since
the flight from Halicarnassus, they had been confined in the house of
Phradates, whose passion for Thais had increased until it burned like
fever in his veins.  The end must have come long ago had it not been
for the frequent absences that had been forced upon the young man by
the needs of the city and the commands of the Great King.  As matters
stood, even Thais' resources had been taxed to hold him in check.
Hitherto she had fed him with hopes, playing upon his weaknesses and
keeping him in a state of subjection from which she knew surrender
would set him free.  She made a gesture of impatience and began walking
up and down between rows of young orange trees.

"I don't know what has come over me," she said.  "I am as restless as
one of the sea-gulls yonder."

She listened a moment to the cries and commotion in the streets.

"Mena!" she cried.  "Come here!"

The Egyptian advanced slowly, with an indefinable insolence in his
bearing.

"Find out what is causing all this excitement in the city and bring me
word," Thais said.

"Why should my lady be interested?" Mena replied coolly, with a smile
that showed his white teeth.

Thais wheeled as though she had been stung.  She looked at the Egyptian
with head erect, and there was something in her eyes that caused his to
fall before them.

"Mena," she said softly, "do not think that, because you are set to
watch me, you are my master.  Go, or I swear by Astoreth that you shall
be flayed alive from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet."

Mena gasped, and moistened his dry lips with his tongue.

"Pardon," he stammered.  "I did not mean--"

"I know well what you meant," Thais returned.  "Go!"

He turned and went.  Thais grasped a branch of the shrubbery and tore
it away, crumpling the leaves in her hands and scattering them in a
bruised shower at her feet.

"How long must I put up with the insolence of this slave and his
master?" she exclaimed.  The opalescent animal light gleamed in her
eyes as she turned them northward, and she paced backward and forward
with impatient strides like a captive lioness.  "I hate them!" she
cried.  "How many times have I been tempted to end it!"

She thrust her hand into her bosom and drew out her tiny dagger, whose
hilt was studded with rubies that sparkled like drops of blood.

"Hush, Thais, some one is coming!" Artemisia said.

Thais quickly hid the dagger and turned to greet Phradates.  He came
forward with a smile, and the smile with which she met him had no trace
in it of the anger that had so shaken her but a moment before.

"Great news!" the young man cried.  "Alexander is coming!"

Artemisia caught her breath, and for an instant her head swam.

"Tell us," Thais said.  "We are dying to hear all about it.  You know
we have had no news since the battle of Issus, where the Great King, as
you call him, was beaten by one who seems to be greater."

There was a spice of malice in her voice that evidently annoyed the
Phœnician.

"Yes, through the treachery of the Greeks," he replied, frowning.
"Darius will depend upon his own people next time, and you will see
then what will happen."

"But what has Alexander been doing since the battle?" Thais asked.

"He might have advanced upon Babylon with nobody to oppose him,"
Phradates said.  "Of course, he would not have been able to capture the
city, but at least he will never have a better chance to try it.  He
was afraid to make the attempt.  He has been marching down the coast
instead, and there has been no more fighting, because all the northern
cities have surrendered to him."

"Well?" Thais said, listening with parted lips.

"In the absence of King Azemilcus," the Phœnician continued, "the
council deemed it best to offer terms for the present.  They sent an
embassy, accompanied by the prince, to tell Alexander that he had
nothing to fear from Tyre so long as he did not interfere with us."

"What was his reply?" Thais demanded quickly.

"What do you suppose?" Phradates said.  "He had the impudence to
announce that Melkarth was the same as your Heracles, and that as
Heracles was of his family, he proposed to offer sacrifice in the
temple here.  The embassy told him flatly that Tyre had never admitted
the Persians, and that we should not admit him.  Everybody knows that
if we should let him in here, he would do what he did in Ephesus when
he took possession of the city under pretence of offering sacrifice to
Artemis."

"But where is Darius?" Thais asked.

"He is in Babylon," said Phradates.  "He sent a letter to Alexander
after the battle of Issus, asking freedom for his wife and family.  He
wrote as one king to another, proposing peace and alliance; but your
Alexander, to his sorrow, refused the terms.  He pretends that he has
already conquered all Asia, and he had the boldness to tell the Great
King that he would liberate Statira and her children if Darius would
come as a suppliant to ask it."

"The Gods fight with him," Thais said, after a pause.  "It would be
better for Tyre to open her gates."

The young Phœnician laughed scornfully.

"The walls of Tyre will crumble and fall into the sea before he offers
his sacrifice," he exclaimed.  "I will wager anything I possess against
your looking-glass that he will weary of his task before a stone has
been loosened."

"You do not know Alexander," Thais replied.

"Thais," the young man said earnestly, "I will wager what is more
precious to me than gold.  Thou knowest that I love thee."

"You have told me so," she replied demurely.

"You have been for months in my power," he went on, "and I have not
sought to force your inclination.  Let us now abide by the result of
the siege that Alexander is threatening.  On the day that he gives over
his attempt to enter Tyre, thou shalt be mine.  Until that day comes I
shall ask nothing of thee.  Is it a bargain?"

"You will not keep your promise," Thais said doubtfully.  Her
reluctance made the young man more eager.

"Mena!" he called, "bring wine and two doves at once."

When the Egyptian returned, Phradates said to Thais, "See, I am ready
to bind myself by oath if thou wilt do likewise."

"I am ready," Thais replied.

The sacrifice was made and the mutual bond was completed.  As the blood
of the doves trickled upon the stones, Phradates called Astarte to
witness his covenant.  Thais drew a breath of relief, for she knew that
no Phœnician, even the most depraved, would dare to disregard such
an oath.

The sun went down in crimson splendor, and lamps began to twinkle in
the city.  Still the council prolonged its deliberations, and still the
anxious merchants waited outside the doors of the palace to learn its
decision.



CHAPTER XXXVI

TYRE ACCEPTS THE CHALLENGE

The entire population of Tyre was at work before dawn on the day
following the return of the ambassadors.  The council had decided to
accept Alexander's challenge.  As the first measure of preparation, it
ordered the abandonment of the Old City on the mainland and the removal
of its residents to the New City.  In order to make room for them, a
fleet was to be sent to Carthage, carrying women and children.  This
fleet was to return with such aid as the strong colony of the West
might be willing to give.

Huge flatboats and a multitude of smaller craft plied backward and
forward between the harbors and the mainland.  The brilliant stuffs
that had been hanging in the sun were gathered into bales.  Here was a
boat laden with the contents of a glass factory: huge amphoræ, delicate
vases, cylinders, scarabs, beads, and amulets of a hundred iridescent
hues.  Beside it came another vessel, carrying a freight of iron,
bronze, and copper, wrought into armor and household furnishings.
Other ships brought Syrian cotton and embroideries; white wool and wine
of Helbon; corn, honey, balm, and oil from Israel; ivory, ebony,
spices, and perfumes from Arabia; lead and tin from the mines of Spain;
cedar chests filled with Babylonian embroideries; elephant, lion,
leopard, and deer skins from Africa.  These precious commodities were
stored in the warehouses.

All the public granaries were filled to overflowing, and what grain
could not be brought away was destroyed.  At the close of the second
day, the ancient parent city, from which had sprung such a brood of
flourishing daughters, and which more than once had defied the might of
the great empire beyond the mountain, lay deserted.  Silence and
foreboding pervaded the New City as the Tyrians looked across the
strait at the empty houses in which many of them had been cradled.

There was little time for despondency.  The labor of preparation had
been only begun, and the task of making ready the vessels destined for
Carthage went forward briskly.

A swift galley was sent to King Azemilcus, who immediately deserted the
Persian fleet with all his ships and returned to take charge of the
defence of the city.  His arrival was the signal for great rejoicing,
for his warships would insure command of the sea to Tyre, since
Alexander had none with which to oppose them.

At last the departure of the fleet destined for Carthage could be
delayed no longer.  The scouting ships brought word that the Macedonian
army had left Sidon and taken up its march southward.  Thousands of
women and children, accompanied by the aged and infirm, crowded aboard
the merchant vessels that had been pressed into service.  Husbands said
farewell to their wives, and fathers took their children in their arms
for perhaps the last time.  One by one the ships were towed out of the
harbor and spread their sails for their long flight to the West.  The
streets were filled with weeping.

Not all the women and children were sent away, even of the better
class; for, in spite of the precautions taken by the council, no Tyrian
believed that the city was really in danger.  Its possession of the sea
would prevent famine, and even if Alexander should succeed in reaching
its walls, he would never be able to break through them.

While the slanting sails of the departing fleet still glimmered on the
horizon, the watchers on the walls of Tyre saw the sun glinting from
the armor of the Macedonian array.  Presently bands of horsemen dashed
up to the walls of the Old City, circled around them, and rode boldly
through the open gates.  They seemed astonished to find the place
deserted.  The Phœnicians hurled shouts of derision at them from the
walls across the water, scornfully inviting them to try the strait.

Thais' lip curled as she watched this demonstration.  She stood
motionless among the whispering leaves which hedged the roof of
Phradates' house, gazing intently at the advancing army.

"Will they ever be able to cross to us?" Artemisia said.

"There come the Companion cavalry!" Thais exclaimed, shading her eyes.

The troop made a brave showing as it advanced toward the Old City with
flying pennants, the manes of the horses tossing free.

"And there is the phalanx!" Artemisia cried, clasping her hands.

The lines emerged, rank after rank, from the dust-clouds.  Behind them
came more cavalry and then the light-armed troops, followed by wagons
and a long train of pack animals.  The streets of the Old City became
animated again, though not with Phœnicians.  The soldiers swarmed
through the houses, choosing their quarters and freeing themselves from
their burdens.  Smoke began to curl up from the chimneys.

A group of men came down to the water front and made a long survey of
the walls of the New City.  Thais fixed her eyes upon them, leaning
over the parapet.  Suddenly she caught Artemisia's arm.

"I see him!" she cried.  "There he is."

"Who is it?  Where?" Artemisia asked, bewildered.

"Chares!" Thais replied.  "Do you see that crimson cloak and his yellow
hair?  O my hero!"

Artemisia trembled and her cheek grew pale.

"If that is Chares, then Clearchus must be there too," she faltered.
"Oh, Thais, are you sure?"

She strove to look, but the tears that dimmed her eyes prevented her
from seeing anything clearly.

"I am certain," Thais replied.  "Who else could it be?  There is no
other in the army so strong and handsome as he.  Look! he is signalling
to us."

The figure in crimson stood forward from the rest, his cloak, inflated
by the wind, swelling back from his shoulders.  He waved his hand
toward the city.  Thais tore off her saffron shawl and waved it in
return, forgetting that, while he stood alone, to him she was one of
thousands who were moving on the walls and the house-tops.

"I suppose you would bring them over if you could!" sneered a voice
behind her.  It was Phradates, who had approached unnoticed.

"Can you blame me if I want to win my wager?" Thais replied, smiling.

"I am half sorry I made it," the Phœnician said sullenly.

Thais saw that he was angry and she leaned toward him until he felt her
warm breath upon his cheek.

"If I lose, I will pay!" she whispered, in a tone that only he could
hear.

A dark flush mounted to his cheek.

"It will not be long," he returned confidently.

"I would not be too sure of that," she replied, with a blush, giving
him a sidelong glance under her lashes.

Phradates could not understand why he had not long ago given free rein
to his passion.  More than once he had called himself a fool for his
forbearance and resolved in his own mind to end it; but when the time
came for putting his plans into execution, he found them halted by an
indefinable barrier that he could not break.  It surprised him that
this could have happened.  All his life it had never occurred to him to
restrain himself.  He was master of one of the greatest fortunes in
Tyre, and with him to wish was to have.  Moreover, he had learned
Thais' history, so far as it was generally known, and it seemed to him
ridiculous that an Athenian dancing girl should succeed so long in
holding him at arm's length.  But now he must keep his oath.

Next day, and for many days thereafter, Tyre sat and watched the slow
development of the scheme that had been laid for her destruction.  She
saw the Macedonian army tear down the walls of the Old City and convey
them, block by block, to the water front, where they were cast into the
sea.  Soon the beginning of a broad causeway began to jut out from the
shore, pointing like a huge finger at the angle of the city wall,
midway between the two harbors, which was nearest to the mainland.
Detachments of soldiers brought in squads of men from the surrounding
country, who were set at work with the army upon the mole.  Piles of
cedar were driven into the sand.  Earth was brought in baskets and
poured over the stones.  When the waves washed it away, trees were
dragged from the mountain side and thrown in with their leaves and
branches to hold it in place.  Acres of rushes were cut and laid upon
the soil to bind it.  Foot by foot the causeway lengthened.  On the
shore could be seen men building towers and battering rams, catapults,
and ballistæ.

Alexander's figure became so familiar to the Tyrians that even the
children could point him out.  He was seen everywhere, overlooking and
superintending the work in all its details.  One day he was missed, and
the next, smoke was observed drifting up from the rocky fastnesses of
Lebanon, which the Tyrians knew had been held for centuries by untamed
robber bands, who had exacted toll from their caravans and even from
the convoys of the Great King.  Their spies on shore brought them word
that the robbers had attacked Alexander's scouting parties and he had
gone to punish them.  Tyre laughed at the idea that he could take the
impregnable strongholds among the crags, but the columns of smoke
continued to rise farther and farther back among the mountains; and
when Alexander reappeared on the mole, at the end of a week, the news
came that the robbers had been harried and hunted out of their caves
until not a vestige of them remained.  Tyre wondered, and a vague
uneasiness crept into the city.

The mole had advanced almost within bow-shot of the wall when the city
woke from its lethargy of contempt and began to bestir itself.  Towers
were erected on the wall opposite the causeway, and the wall itself was
raised.  The engineers and their workmen, whose skill was famed
throughout the world, fashioned new machines for repelling the expected
attack.

When the Macedonians had covered more than half the distance between
the shore and the wall, the Phœnicians began to resist their
advance.  The catapults were brought into play.  These were great bows
of tough wood, set in a solid framework.  The strings of twisted gut
were drawn back by a windlass, and huge arrows, made of iron and
weighing two or three hundred pounds, were fitted to the groove
prepared for them.  The string was released by drawing a trigger as in
a cross-bow, and the missile sped to the mark.

The catapults were reënforced by the ballistæ.  In a frame of heavy
beams an arm was set, with a great spoon at one end, while the other
was held firmly in twisted cords.  By means of a rope wound about a
roller the arm was drawn back, and a stone or a ball of metal was
placed in the spoon.  Suddenly freed, the arm flew up until it was
halted by a cross-beam of the framework, when the missile left it and
hurtled through the air toward the mole.

While darts and stones were showered upon the causeway from the walls,
vessels attacked it from both harbors, filled with archers and
slingers, who drove the workmen back.  Tyre was jubilant.  Alexander,
she thought, must now surely abandon his foolish enterprise.

Work on the causeway was indeed halted for a time, but only long enough
to permit the Macedonians to contrive means of defence.  Two great
towers were built and pushed out to the end of the mole.  These were
tall enough to dominate the wall.  They were provided with catapults
and ballistæ, with which to answer and silence those of the Tyrians,
and were manned by soldiers, who from their height were able to reach
the decks of the triremes that were sent to annoy them.  For further
protection, palisades of timber and movable breastworks were
constructed on the mole, and pushed forward as it advanced.

Work was resumed, and the long causeway crept nearer and nearer to the
city.  By order of the council, under cover of night, sponge and pearl
divers were sent to the mole in small vessels.  With cords in their
hands they plunged into the water and fastened them to the foundation
stones of the mole, which the crews on board the boats pulled away.

But in spite of all these devices, the mole continued to lengthen.

Still the Tyrians remained confident.  The council hit upon a plan to
destroy the towers, and when all was ready the people flocked to the
walls to witness its execution.  Artemisia and Thais watched from the
roof, where, day after day, for weeks, they had counted the inches of
progress made on the mole and calculated how long it would be before
the structure could reach the wall.

"See!" cried Artemisia.  "They are going to try to burn the towers."

An old transport, that had been used for carrying horses, emerged
clumsily from the Sidonian Harbor, towed between two triremes.  The
wide deck was heaped with dry wood, which had been saturated with
bitumen and intermixed with straw.  From the yards of the masts
caldrons filled with sulphur, naphtha, and oil were suspended by
chains.  Upon the deck stood rows of naked men, each holding in his
hand a blazing torch.

Slowly and laboriously the ship was guided through the choppy sea to a
point directly to windward of the end of the mole.  A strong northwest
breeze sang through her rigging, and her stern had been filled with
ballast until her bow stood almost out of the water.  Sailors went
aloft and set two small sails to give her headway.  The triremes cast
off, and she swam straight for the northern tower.

The two women had watched the preparations with the most intense
excitement.  As the fire-ship neared the mole, gathering speed as she
went, they saw a volley of huge stones shoot from the towers in her
direction.

"They are trying to sink her," Thais said breathlessly.

"Zeus grant that they may succeed!" cried Artemisia.

Some of the stones struck the ship, scattering her load of
combustibles; but they failed to check her approach.  The best marksmen
in the army strove to pick off her crew.  The divers raised shields,
from which the arrows harmlessly rebounded.

When the ship had come within a few fathoms of the mole, the men on
board of her scattered blazing oil into the caldrons swinging from her
yards and thrust their torches into the heaps of material that lay upon
her deck.  Then they plunged into the sea and swam back to the city.
The steersman followed, and the next instant the transport, sending
before her a roaring banner of flame, ran high upon the mole at the
foot of the northern tower.

A mighty shout arose from the walls of Tyre as the spectators saw the
flames wrap themselves around the tower, shrivelling up the green skins
of cattle that had been hung to protect it.  The soldiers swarmed down
through the smoke and fire like rats, leaping from the lower stories in
their haste.  In a moment the lofty structure was sending out red
tongues from every loophole and window.  A great cloud of black smoke
rolled from the end of the mole toward the shore.

Thais and Artemisia saw the Greeks driven back from the towers and from
the defences which had protected the work.  Presently the fire attacked
these and ran across to the second tower.  The transport still lay with
her nose in the rocks, belching flames that were streaked with green
and blue and white as they fed upon the various substances which had
been stored in her hull.

Dashing down from the windward side, the Tyrian vessels tore away such
of the work as had escaped the conflagration, while the bowmen on their
decks sent flights of arrows upon the huddled workmen who had been
forced back by the heat and smoke.  The towers fell one after the other
with a crash into the sea, which hissed into steam as the glowing
timbers sank.  In an hour nothing was left at the end of the causeway
but the blackened ruin and part of the transport, through whose ribs
the waves washed.

"The time is at hand," Phradates said to Thais, with a smile full of
meaning.

"Not yet," she exclaimed, smiling.  "The siege has only begun.  I told
you you did not know Alexander."

Nevertheless, secretly her heart was full of misgivings, and the slave
women who waited upon her that night found her hard to please.



CHAPTER XXXVII

THE JEST OF KING AZEMILCUS

Tyre was delirious with joy over the success of the attack on the
towers, for the city was convinced that now, at last, the Macedonians
would depart.  Feasts were given in the great houses, processions wound
through the streets, and sacrifices of thanksgiving were offered in all
the temples.  In order to strike terror into the hearts of the enemy,
twenty Macedonian prisoners were put to death upon the walls with
lingering tortures, and their mangled bodies were cast into the sea.
Hourly the Tyrians expected to see the besieging army evacuate Old Tyre
and march away.

Their rage knew no bounds when a boat bearing two heralds put out from
the shore and entered the Sidonian Harbor.  The young men whom it
contained, Galas and Cleanor, pages of Alexander and members of
distinguished Macedonian families, were greeted with jeers by the
people.  They were escorted by a strong guard to the royal palace,
where King Azemilcus and the council awaited them.

They bore themselves calmly and proudly under the insults of the mob
and the hostile scrutiny of the council.  They met without fear the
gaze of the Tyrian king, who sat upon his throne in the chamber of
state.  The light fell upon the old man's cunning and wrinkled face and
touched the heads of the councillors, some silvery white and others
showing hardly a trace of gray.  Their eyes, in which cruelty lurked
like a coiled snake, were fixed upon the heralds.  The king opened his
thin lips.

"Speak!" he said softly.

"Alexander, lord of Asia, sends his greeting to King Azemilcus and the
people of Tyre," Galas began in a clear voice.  "He calls upon you to
surrender your city into his hands."

A murmur rose like a growl from the council.  King Azemilcus stroked
his chin gently with his jewelled fingers, as if to hide the smile that
played about his mouth.

"If ye do not this," Galas continued, raising his head, "Alexander,
lord of Asia, bids me say that for thy walls, they shall become as the
walls of Thebes, thy city shall be given to plunder, and the sea-gull
shall build his nest in thy harbors.  If ye would find mercy for your
wives and your children, for yourselves and your possessions, ye must
seek it now."

He ceased and stood awaiting their answer.  There was dead silence in
the chamber.  Azemilcus continued to stroke his chin, glancing at the
youths and then at his advisers with an amused expression in his eyes.

"You may retire," he said at last, "while we consider what reply we
shall send."

The youths were conducted to an anteroom, while the lean king laid
before the council the jest that he had been revolving in his mind.  It
was received with approbation, and the reply to Alexander was written
upon parchment in two copies, one for each of the heralds.  When all
was in readiness the council rose.

"Come with us," Azemilcus said to the heralds.  "We desire to show you
our city before we send you back to Alexander."

Talking pleasantly, he led the way through the citadel to the top of
the wall, pointing out the temples and the various objects of interest
as they went.  The boys looked down with wonder from the dizzy height
upon the sea, crawling and lapping far below them.  They examined the
engines of war and the piles of ammunition that had been assembled upon
the landward side of the defences.  Upon the mainland they could see
their comrades and the gangs of laborers at work upon the mole.

They scarcely noticed that soldiers and citizens were gathering about
them, occupying every point of vantage and pressing forward with nods
and winks as if to a spectacle where a humorous surprise was in store.

"And now," Azemilcus said, smiling pleasantly upon the two heralds,
"you shall hear our answer to the king."

He beckoned to a scribe, who stepped forward and read from a parchment
so that all might hear.

"King Azemilcus and the people of Tyre greet Alexander the Pretender,"
read the scribe.  "If he be lord of Asia, Tyre is his.  Let him come
and take it."

The two boys looked blankly at the king, and a great shout of laughter
went up from the multitude upon the wall.  At another sign from
Azemilcus, two soldiers roughly seized each of the heralds.

"What does this mean?" Galas demanded indignantly.

"Be not angry," Azemilcus replied, still with his soft smile.  "We have
wasted so much time in sight-seeing that no doubt Alexander is growing
impatient.  We will send you back to him more quickly than you came, so
that his anger may be turned from us."

Amid shouts of delight from the crowd, the heralds were bound hand and
foot with cords.  Their knees were drawn up to their chests and lashed
there so as to make their bodies as compact as possible.  Finally a
copy of the reply to Alexander was attached to their right hands.

"King of Tyre!" Galas said, when the soldiers had done their work, "you
have broken the faith of nations.  For our death, if for nothing else,
shall your city fall and become an evil memory among men.  Even your
Gods shall withdraw from you.  Farewell!"

Neither of the lads had uttered a cry as the rawhide thongs, drawn too
tightly, cut into their flesh.  Galas turned his head as well as he
could and spoke to his younger companion.

"Cleanor, we have been friends," he said.  "Now we are about to die.
Be brave for the honor of Macedon!  I go with you."

"Do not fear, Galas; I promise," the other replied, and no more words
passed between them.

The soldiers were busily preparing two of the immense ballistæ.
Inserting levers in holes in the ends of the rollers, they turned the
wooden cylinders backward, slowly winding up the rope that was attached
to the casting arm and drawing it back into a horizontal position.  The
tough rope strained and the framework of beams creaked as the great
arms were forced into place.

When the wide spoons of wrought iron were ready, the boys were lifted
and placed in them.  The spectators, irritated because the victims did
not beg for mercy, howled threats and insults at them.  This abuse
brought no response, and fearful lest the courage of the lads might
create a bad impression, Azemilcus ended the sport by ordering the
ballistæ to be discharged.

Throwing their weight suddenly upon the cords that drew the triggers,
the soldiers released the arms of the machines, which sprang upward and
crashed against the cross-beams.  The bodies of the heralds, hurled
with frightful velocity into the air, shot outward and upward.  Galas
fell upon the end of the mole.  Cleanor was dashed to pieces on the
jagged rocks beside him.

A savage outcry rang from the wall across to the Macedonian camp.
Soldiers ran forward and took up the two bodies, bearing them tenderly
to the shore.

"Alexander has his answer!" Azemilcus said, with a chuckle.  "Let us go
to dinner."



CHAPTER XXXVIII

MENA REVEALS A SECRET

On the night after the slaughter of the heralds, the galleys sent to
Carthage returned with a courteous message that it would be impossible
for the colony to send assistance.  Ambassadors who had been despatched
to other Phœnician towns, demanding aid, were equally unsuccessful.
Tyre must stand or fall alone.  Her brood turned its back upon her.

This indifference created a disagreeable feeling in the city.  The joy
over the destruction of the Macedonian works was transformed into
uneasiness.  Instead of abandoning the siege, the army of Alexander had
begun a new mole, twice as wide as the first, and so directed that the
wash of the waves, which before had been a serious obstacle, was
rendered harmless.  It was apparent that the young king intended to
keep his word.

Several of the inhabitants of the city reported that in dreams they had
seen the great bronze image of Melkarth rise from its seat in his
temple and stretch its hands over the walls toward the Macedonian camp,
calling upon Alexander to enter.  There was a consultation of the
priests.  The enormous statue was bound with chains to the pillars of
the temple and huge spikes were driven through its feet into the floor.
Nevertheless, the Tyrians were apprehensive and spoke of Melkarth as
"the Alexandrine."  The ominous words of the herald, Galas, when he
declared that the Gods of Tyre would desert her, were remembered and
repeated.  The people began to think that perhaps they had gone too far.

Time failed to remove this impression.  The new mole continued to
advance, and one hazy afternoon the watchmen on the walls caught sight
of a fleet of warships approaching from the north.  The flag of Sidon
fluttered from their masts and the beleaguered city concluded that at
last reinforcements had been sent.  But instead of entering the
Sidonian Harbor, the vessels sheered off and came to anchor in front of
the Macedonian camp.

The gloom of the city deepened when Enylus, king of Byblos, and
Gerostratus, king of Adradus, added their fleets to that of Sidon.  All
three were Phœnician cities.  Rhodes sent ten ships and Cyprus later
added one hundred and twenty, under command of Prytagoras.

For every Tyrian ship, Alexander now had three; and among them were
vessels of the largest size, some with four banks of oars and some even
with five.  They were manned by sailors of Phœnician stock, whose
skill upon the water equalled that of the Tyrians themselves.  As soon
as the fleet had gathered, it sailed in battle order toward the mouth
of the Sidonian Harbor, from which the Tyrian navy came out to meet it.
But when Azemilcus saw the overwhelming force opposed to him, his heart
failed, and he gave the order to retreat into the harbor, the entrance
of which he caused to be blocked with huge chains behind which were
moored as many Tyrian vessels as would lie in the passage side by side.

Tyre was no longer mistress of the sea.  She stood forsaken amid the
waters, gray and deserted, like a lioness in her last refuge,
encompassed by the hunters.  The mole crept ever nearer to the wall,
and Macedonian captains, cruising around the city, gazed hungrily at
the battlements.

The inhabitants understood that nothing but a miracle could save the
city.  They turned to their Gods.  In ancient times they had never
failed in the observance of their worship, but as they waxed strong and
gained knowledge of the world, scepticism had found a lodgement in
their hearts.  The ceremonials had been neglected by many who either
did not believe or had grown careless.  The offerings diminished.  More
than once the sacrifice of the first-born to Baal-Moloch had been
omitted.  The worship of Astoreth, it is true, had been maintained; but
it was clear that the Goddess was not powerful enough to rescue them.
Baal was angry and must be propitiated.

Phradates became more and more downcast and sullen as misfortune
gathered about the city.  The cruelty that was a part of his
Phœnician heritage rose to the surface.  His slaves were lashed for
the slightest fault, or even for no fault at all.  Some of them he
ordered put to death.  Terror filled the great house, with its spacious
rooms hung with embroideries, beautiful with paintings and statues, its
rare glass, and its treasures of gold and of amber.

One evening, when a languid southern breeze stirred the silken
curtains, the young Phœnician entered the apartments occupied by
Artemisia and Thais.  Artemisia sat by the window, gazing at the
brilliant stars that seemed so near and yet so immeasurably far away.
The two young women had been talking of Chares and Clearchus; but a
silence had fallen between them.  Thais lay on a couch of cedar,
burying her fingers in the thick fur of a Persian cat, which purred
with half-shut eyes under her caress.

Phradates threw himself into a chair in an attitude of weariness and
dejection.  Thais shot a glance at him and went on stroking the cat.

"Do you believe in the Gods?" the young man asked.

"Artemisia does," Thais replied lazily, with a tantalizing smile.

"Why?" Phradates demanded, turning to the younger sister.

Artemisia turned her eyes wonderingly upon his troubled face.

"I cannot tell you," she replied slowly, as though searching for a
reason.  "I have always believed in them and I have passed through many
dangers unharmed.  I think Artemis has protected me, for I love her.  I
have no fear, since I am in her hands."

"We do not worship her," Phradates said.  "With us, the moon belongs to
Astoreth, who is the same as your Aphrodite, and she has lost her
power."

"Are you sure of that?" Thais asked.

The young man looked at her and his expression changed.

"I am sure of nothing," he said thickly.

"Except?" Thais suggested, looking into his eyes and leaning forward on
her arm so that the necklace of pearls slid across her bosom, half
revealed under the folds of her robe.

"Except that I love you!" he responded.

Thais fell back upon her cushions and began again to stroke the cat.

"You should not insult the Goddess," she said.

"By Melkarth, I think you are she!" Phradates cried.

"Perhaps," she admitted, smiling and nodding her head.

Phradates stared at her for a moment as though he half believed it, and
then, rising abruptly, left the room.  His brain seemed obscured.  He
could think of nothing but his love for her.  The emotion that
possessed him mastered every faculty, and even the approaching ruin of
the city seemed trivial in comparison with it.  Yet there was his oath!

At the door of his chamber he encountered Mena.

"Master, the council is sitting," the Egyptian said.

"What is that to me?" Phradates replied harshly.

"They have decided to offer sacrifice to Baal-Moloch," Mena continued,
following him into the apartment.

"They should have thought of that before," said Phradates.  "Where will
they find children now fit for an offering?  They have all been sent to
Carthage.  No wonder Moloch is angry."

"This has been considered by the council," Mena continued.  "Esmun, the
chief priest, has told them that there are still enough of the
first-born left among the Jews, who, as you know, refused to send their
families away."

"But the Jews will not give them as a willing sacrifice, and without
that it will be of no avail," Phradates replied impatiently.  "Why do
you tell me all this?"

"The council intends to find means of forcing them to make the
sacrifice willingly," Mena persisted; "but Esmun declares that this
will not be enough to calm the God.  Baal demands a virgin of noble
birth to be given to him before he will aid the city."

Phradates laughed.  "Where do they expect to find her?" he asked
scornfully.

"She must be pure and beautiful," Mena continued.  "It is announced
that he who will bring such an offering will do the city a great
service."

"What do you mean?  Speak out, dog!" Phradates exclaimed, catching an
undertone of significance in the Egyptian's voice.

"Thou hast such a maiden," the slave said hesitatingly.

"Thais!" the young man cried.  "Never.  The city may perish first!
Have you dared to suggest this?"

He drew his dagger and made a step toward Mena, who cowered before him
with hand uplifted.

"No, no; not Thais," he hastened to say.  "Think, master, how could she
meet the conditions?  Not Thais!"

Phradates paused with the dagger still in his hand.

"Wait until you have heard me?" the slave continued, in a whining
voice.  "It was not Thais, but the Athenian maiden, who was in my
thoughts."

"No!" Phradates thundered; "does not Thais love her as her own sister?"

"Consider for a moment," Mena urged insinuatingly, watching the young
man's face with cunning eyes.  "Hast thou not been generous toward
these captives?"

"What of that?" the Tyrian asked.

"And they have betrayed thee by entrapping thee into an oath," Mena
said.  "I would not have thee break it; but what will not the Lady
Astoreth grant to him who saves her shrine from pollution and
destruction?  She will release thee from thy vow."

He paused to note the effect of his words.  Phradates remained silent
and thoughtful.

"It is not for me, a slave, to tell thee what thou shouldst do," Mena
went on, "but it has seemed to me that there has lately been a spell
upon thy mind.  Thou art not now what thou wast a month ago.  What the
cause is and what must be the cure, thou knowest; but thou art bound by
thy oath."

Again he paused, but as Phradates showed no sign of resentment, he
continued.

"Master, thou canst not win thy wager," he said.  "Tyre is lost.  It
may be next week, and it may not be until next year; but the Macedonian
is too deeply engaged here to withdraw.  There is no hope excepting
through the Gods alone, who might send a pestilence upon our enemies if
they so willed it.  Thou knowest that the battering rams are pounding
upon the wall, and that they have already weakened it.  On the southern
side it cannot stand much longer unless something happens to put an end
to the attack.  Obtain release from thy vow before it is too late.  Our
time may be short."

Phradates shuddered and covered his face with his hands.

"I think Thais really loves thee," the Egyptian continued artfully.
"It is the presence of the other that restrains her, because she is
ashamed to show her love before her.  If Artemisia were away, she would
grieve, it is true, but she would recover.  It is not needful that thou
shouldst give her up.  The priests take whom they will for sacrifice.
Thou mightest even defend her, which would commend thee to Thais and
earn her gratitude."

"Get thee gone!" Phradates shouted, suddenly springing to his feet.

Mena fled noiselessly down the stairs and out of the house.  Once in
the street, he clapped his hands together and laughed.

"I will show them what it is to insult Mena!" he cried.

He made his way through the narrow streets and across the canal to the
southern part of the city, beyond the Temple of Baal.  The slow and
regular beat of the great rams, at work upon the massive wall, throbbed
in the air.  Mena plunged into a network of lanes, in which the houses
had a meaner look than in the quarter he had left behind.  He proceeded
cautiously, halting from time to time as though he feared that he might
be followed.  Finally, under the shadow of the wall, he reached a low
house within which lights were burning.  He pushed open the door and
entered.  The room in which he found himself was filled with men, young
and old, who sat at tables upon which stood flagons of red wine.  Some
of the company were engaged in earnest discussion across the tables.
In one corner a sea captain was relating the strange adventures of a
distant voyage.  Elsewhere men exchanged jests and laughter over their
wine.  While the occupants of the room bore a general resemblance in
feature to the Phœnicians, a glance was sufficient to show that they
were not of Phœnician blood, and the language they spoke was Hebrew.

There was a momentary hush when Mena appeared, but apparently he was
known, for the interrupted talk immediately flowed on again.  A man of
middle age, whose black, crisp beard was streaked with gray, came
forward to welcome the Egyptian.

"Which wine will you have to-night?" he asked, conducting him to a
table where already a younger man was sitting.

"The wine of Cyprus," Mena cried.  "You are as gay here to-night,
Simon, as though there were no such place in the world as Macedon."

Simon shrugged his shoulders.  "Would our tears mend the walls?" he
asked.  "What is to be, will be."

He went to fetch the wine, and Mena turned to his companion at the
table.

"Where have you been, Joel?" he asked.  "I have not seen you for a
week.  One would say that you had been on shore, if it were possible to
get there."

He directed his shrewd glance at the young man.  Joel laughed, and his
dark eyes rested upon those of the Egyptian.  He had an easy
distinction of manner, acquired at the court of Darius.  After the
escape of Nathan, Chares, and Clearchus, his company had marched with
the Great King; but it had been detailed to help guard the women and
the treasure left behind at Damascus while the army went on to
destruction at Issus.  After the defeat, he visited Jerusalem and then
came to Tyre, where he had relatives.

"What would you give to know where I have been?" he demanded mockingly.

"Perhaps I know already," the cunning Egyptian replied.  "Why is it
that the Jews are so indifferent to the siege?  Why do they expect to
escape the sword or the slave-market when the walls fall?  Tell me
that."

Simon returned with the wine, which he set before Mena.  While the Jews
knew him to be a slave, they did not disdain to associate with him,
because his influence over Phradates was so great that he was a bondman
only in name.  Besides, he had more than once given them information of
value, and they were not accustomed to neglect any means of defence.

Joel paused and seemed to reflect before he answered.

"Perhaps it is because we are under the protection of Jehovah," he
replied at last.  "If He does not save us, nothing can."

"Bah!" Mena exclaimed.  "Perhaps He can save your first-born from
Baal-Moloch!"

"What do you mean?" Joel returned quickly.

"I thought you Jews knew everything," the Egyptian said.  "Have you not
heard what Esmun told the council?  He has warned them that nothing but
a sacrifice can save the city, and the council has authorized it.
Where can they find children excepting here?"

"Is this true?" Joel demanded.

"It is true!" Mena declared.

Joel rose from the table and whispered to Simon, who ran to the chief
priest.  Messengers were sent to verify the news.  They brought
confirmation and the additional intelligence that the sacrifice would
take place on the second day.  Meantime Joel had returned to his place,
where Mena, as usual, had begun to grow garrulous with his wine.

"You know those two Greek girls my fool of a master holds in his
house?" he asked.

"What are they called--Thais and Artemisia?  You told me of them," Joel
responded.  "What of them?"

"Thais promised to have me flayed alive," Mena remarked.

"Well?" the young Hebrew said.

"So I am going to have Artemisia included in the sacrifice to Moloch,"
the slave said coolly.

Joel started but instantly restrained himself.

"What has that to do with Thais' promise?" he asked.

"Thais loves her," Mena explained.  "No doubt she will be glad to see
her in Moloch's arms!"

"How did you manage it?" Joel inquired carelessly.

"Why, I told you of the oath that Thais got from Phradates," Mena said.
"Well, I have convinced him that the only way in which he can win Thais
and at the same time obtain release from his oath is by having
Artemisia burned."

The Egyptian laughed at his own cleverness.  Joel sat making rings on
the table with the foot of his wine-glass.

"And what do you think?" Mena continued, recovering himself.  "The fool
threatened to stab me for it.  But he'll do it, never fear.  There is a
long score between him and me.  Unless I am mistaken, the time is at
hand when we shall have the reckoning.  There is one house in Tyre
where the Macedonians, when they come, will get little plunder.  Come
then to Memphis, and you will find Mena, with slaves of his own--and I
would not be surprised if Thais was among them.  Flayed alive, indeed!"

"Let us have wine!" Joel cried, making an almost imperceptible sign to
Simon that meant the substitution of a stronger vintage.  The wine was
brought, glowing like liquid amber in the flagon.  In half an hour Mena
was incoherently trying to explain that he knew the Jews were in
correspondence with Alexander's camp, although he could not tell how,
and begging Joel not to forget him when the city fell.  A little
longer, and two servants carried him to the house of Phradates.



CHAPTER XXXIX

JOEL BRINGS BAD NEWS

As soon as he was rid of the Egyptian, Joel beckoned to Simon.

"I must go ashore to-night," he said.  "The women are in danger, and if
anything is to be done to save them, it must be done now."

"The moon is shining; it will be dangerous," Simon said doubtfully.

"That cannot be helped; I must go," the young man declared.

Simon made no further remonstrance.  He took up a lamp and led the way
down a flight of stone stairs to the cellar, where great amphoræ of
wine, covered with dust and cobwebs, stood in the darkness.  Picking
his way between them, he advanced to the end of the cellar, where he
gave the lamp to Joel while he rolled aside one of the jars.  Then,
with some difficulty, he raised the slab upon which it had stood,
revealing a narrow opening in the floor and another flight of steps.
Down these they passed to a small chamber hewn in the rock.  Around its
sides ran a stone platform not more than three feet in width, and the
remainder of the floor space was occupied by a pool of water.

When the wall of the city was built, its base had been laid in such a
manner as to bridge a natural fissure in the rock below the water line.
Why this opening had been left, Simon did not know.  Possibly it had
been the intention of the architects to make it the outlet of a sewer.
If so, the plan had been abandoned, but the opening had been allowed to
remain.

Standing on the ledge of stone, Joel stripped off his clothing and
removed his sandals.  Simon took from a niche a small jar of oil and
rubbed him with the contents from head to foot, at the same time
instructing him how to proceed.

"When shall you return?" he asked.

"To-night, if I can," Joel replied.  "If not, then to-morrow night in
the third watch.  Farewell!"

"Farewell!" Simon replied, stepping back and raising his lamp so that
its light fell upon the pool.

Joel drew in a long breath, clasped his hands, and plunged
head-foremost into the water.  Simon placed the young man's clothing in
the niche, put away the oil jar, and ascended to the first cellar.  He
did not close the opening in the floor, but arranged the amphoræ so as
to conceal it, and returned to the room above.

The impetus of Joel's plunge carried him the length of the pool and
into the fissure under the wall.  He struck out vigorously, mindful of
Simon's instructions, and knowing that if his breath should fail while
he was below the masonry, nothing could save him.  With the tips of his
fingers he could feel the sides of the passage, and presently he became
aware of a motion in the water caused by the underwash of the waves
outside.  His head seemed bursting, and there was a ringing in his
ears.  He felt that he must suffocate unless he could get air.  He
began to swim upward through the water, dreading each moment to feel
his head strike the stones.  What if the passage had been closed?  None
had passed through it for years, and the defenders of the city were
constantly throwing down blocks of stone outside the walls.  Something
grazed his back.  He threw his arms upward, but his hands found no
obstruction.  He had cleared the entrance.

He lay on the surface of the water filling his lungs again and again,
and gazing up at the stars above the gray height of the wall against
whose grim base the swell lazily washed.  Half an hour later one of the
watch on a quinquereme that lay off the mouth of the Egyptian Harbor to
prevent the escape of any of the Tyrian vessels heard a voice under the
stern and saw the white gleam of Joel's shoulders in the water.

There was no sound in the Macedonian camp save the monotonous cries of
the sentinels when the young Israelite stepped from a small boat and
climbed the southern slope of the mole.  He looked back and saw Tyre,
standing in the sea like an island raised upon cliffs of stone and
crowned with a circle of light.

He made his way into the Old City, now hardly more than a bare ruin
since houses and temples had been tumbled into the strait to lengthen
the causeway.  He had been provided with the pass-word, and with the
assistance of the sentries he had little difficulty in finding the tent
that he sought.  He lifted the flap and entered.  Inside he could hear
the breathing of sleeping men, dominated by a tremendous snore that
sounded as though it must come from the throat of a giant.

"Peace be unto thee!" Joel cried, stumbling over the legs of one of the
sleepers.

"Thieves!" cried a stentorian voice, and the snoring suddenly ceased.

"It is I--Joel," the young man hastily announced.

"Joel!" exclaimed the voice of Nathan in the darkness.  "How came you
here?"

He slipped out of the tent and returned in a moment, blowing upon a
brand from a smouldering camp-fire.  With this he lighted an oil lamp
that swung from the central pole of the tent.  Then he threw his arms
around the young man and embraced him heartily.

Joel saw Clearchus and the lazy bulk of Chares, who looked at him
sleepily with his head propped on his elbow.  There was another man in
the tent whom he did not know--a man with firm shoulders and a square
jaw, who stood glowering at him with a sword in his hand.

"Put it away, Leonidas," Clearchus said, laughing.  "This is no Tyrian,
but our little jailer in Babylon.  How came you here?"

"I came from Tyre," Joel answered.

"From Tyre!" echoed Nathan and Clearchus.  "How did you escape?"

"I swam under the wall," Joel said, "and I bring you bad news."

"Artemisia!" Clearchus cried.  "Is she dead?"

"As yet she is unharmed," Joel replied.

"What is it, then?  Speak!" Clearchus cried.

Joel repeated what Mena had told him.

"Is it possible to return by the way you came?" Clearchus demanded.

"It is possible for a good swimmer, but it is dangerous," Joel replied.

"I shall return with you at once," Clearchus announced, and began to
belt on his sword.

"You are mad, Clearchus," Leonidas said, raising the flap of the tent.
"Dawn is breaking.  It would be broad daylight before you could reach
the walls."

"I am going, nevertheless," Clearchus answered calmly, continuing his
preparations.

"Do you think we are going to let you go alone?" Chares roared.  "No,
by Zeus; I am going, too!  I have something I wish to say to Thais."

He proceeded to arm himself, adjusting with care a breastplate inlaid
with gold.

"Wait!" cried Nathan.  "I have a better plan.  When does this sacrifice
take place?"

"It was to be on the second day," Joel replied.  "That will be
to-morrow."

"Then we have another night before us," Nathan said.  "Do you think my
people in Tyre will surrender their first-born to Moloch?  Not while
Jehovah reigns will they do that, nor will Jehovah permit the
sacrifice.  It would be folly to think of entering the city now.  We
should be discovered, and all would be ruined.  We can enter at
nightfall, if need be, and my people will join us to save their own.
Let us consult Alexander.  It may be that he will order the attack and
that Jehovah will give Tyre into his hands to-day.  At any rate, if it
is a question of dying, we can die to-morrow as well as now."

Leonidas nodded.  "You are right," he said.

"Are you satisfied, Clearchus?" Chares asked.

"Let it be as you will," the Athenian responded.



CHAPTER XL

THE GAP OF DEATH

Alexander listened to Joel's story and questioned him closely regarding
the disposition of affairs in the city.  He learned that supplies were
running low and that already the garrison was on half rations.  Joel
assured him that the feeling of discouragement and despair was
universal in the city.

"We will attack to-day," Alexander said to Clearchus, who stood waiting
in a fever of anxiety.  "If we can break the walls, Baal-Moloch will be
cheated of his sacrifice, but Melkarth will have his fill."

The fleet put forth from both sides of the mole, the oars of the rowers
flashing in the sun.  The great towers on the end of the mole, which
now extended to the wall of the city, were filled with men who showered
arrows and javelins upon the garrison so as to protect the huge
battering rams at work below.  These engines consisted of heavy beams,
one hundred feet long, ending in great rams' heads of bronze.  They
were suspended by chains from a framework that permitted them to swing
freely.  As many men as could grasp the short cords attached to the
sides of a beam labored to keep it oscillating with a regular motion.
With each downward swing, the bronze head, with its twisted horns,
dashed against the wall.  The impact ground the stones to powder, but
the wall was so thick and so strongly built that its joints remained
firm.

Alexander was reluctant to admit that the mole which he had constructed
with so much expenditure of time and labor was useless, and he
therefore kept the towers in action and the rams at work; but his real
hope of taking the city now lay elsewhere.  The wall on the seaward
side, where no attack had been deemed possible, was less solid than
toward the land.  Tests made by floating rams had shown that a breach
was practicable on the southwest and it was to this spot that the
attack was directed.

The Cyprian ships hovered about the northern side of the city.  Some
threatened the mouth of the Sidonian Harbor, while others sent flights
of arrows over the walls.  The fortress was encircled by a menacing
ring of vessels, which kept the attention of the garrison occupied,
while Alexander prepared for the assault, which was to be made at a
point where the masonry already showed cracks, and some of the stones
had been pushed out of place.

Towed by quinqueremes, the floating forts that the Macedonians had
built were brought slowly around to the southern wall.  Some carried
ballistæ and catapults and stores of darts and stones.  Others had
rams, scaling ladders, iron hooks, and siege implements of all kinds.
All were provided with shields to protect the men from missiles from
the walls.

One by one they swung into position and came to anchor.  The catapults
and ballistæ were placed two hundred yards from the wall, so as to
afford space for the flight of their projectiles.  The ships of war
moved backward and forward, while the archers and slingers swept the
towers and ramparts with a hissing hail of lead and steel.

Under cover of this protection, the rams and siege vessels pushed
forward.  Their crews made them fast to projections in the wall, and
soon the regular throbbing crash of the rams was heard, pounding on the
masonry.  The vessels with the ladders and scaling implements lay
waiting, with the bravest men in the army ready to spring to the
assault as soon as a breach should be opened.

The July sun lay warm on the heaving sea, and the heat rose in
shimmering waves from the wall.  Around and within the city the
shouting of men, the thudding of the rams, the creaking of the
machines, and the crash of stones cast by the ballistæ filled the air.

The garrison brought its engines along the broad parapet within range
of the ships, and hurled great blocks of stone at the besieging fleet.
Several of the smaller vessels were sunk.  Sometimes the stones met in
the air and burst into fragments.  The attack upon the wall was not
relaxed.  Finally a block was sufficiently exposed to permit the
grappling-irons to be fastened to its inner angles.  Strong ropes were
attached to it and carried out to a quinquereme.  The rowers bent to
their work, and the ropes lifted, dripping, from the water.  The block
held fast for a moment, and then came out of its bed like a cork out of
a bottle, rolling with a splash into the sea.

Amid the triumphant shouts of the Macedonians, a flatboat was pushed
forward and a hundred men attacked the weakened wall with levers and
bars of irons.  Some of them were crushed by the rocks toppled down
upon them from above, others were pierced by arrows; but when they
withdrew, a wide cavity yawned where they had been, exposing the inner
courses of masonry.

After them came the largest and heaviest of the rams.  Under its
tremendous blows the cavity deepened and widened until the wall above
it began to tremble.  It swayed, crumbled, and at last with a mighty
roar it fell, burying the ram and half the men who had been working it
under tons of broken stone.  The Macedonians, gazing through the gap
that was opened, saw the Temple of Baal-Moloch, with its dome and
towers, rising gloomily among the cypress trees that surrounded it.

With one impulse, the vessels carrying the shield-bearing guards and
the veterans of the Agema rushed in toward the breach.  The soldiers
leaped ashore.  Order was impossible upon such an insecure footing as
the tumbled blocks afforded.  Every man clung where he could, advancing
step by step, and protecting himself by holding his shield above his
head.

The Tyrians from the ends of the broken wall and from the top of the
slope where the gap had been made sent down flights of darts and
arrows.  In order to repel the storming party, they even loosened
portions of the wall that still held firm and hurled them down upon the
enemy.

Still the Macedonians pressed upward in the hope of winning the breach,
and holding it until reinforcements could arrive.  Ptolemy, son of
Lagus, and Black Clitus fought in the foremost ranks.  Beside them
Leonidas plied his sword, and with him were Clearchus and Chares.

"Ho, comrades!  Beware the stone!" the Theban shouted, as a loosened
block rushed toward them down the slope.

Leonidas started aside, but his foot slipped and he fell to his knees.
Chares caught his arm and dragged him away.  The fragment grazed him as
it hurtled past.

"Forward, men of Macedon!" Ptolemy cried.  "Alexander is watching you."

A breathless cheer from the struggling ranks behind him told him that
the soldiers were doing their best.  The stones of the fallen wall,
slippery with blood, rocked beneath their feet.  Some of the men were
caught in crevices between the blocks and their lives were crushed out,
or they were held there until a javelin put an end to their misery.
But those who escaped this peril pressed upward like wolves when the
quarry is in sight.  The exasperation of all the long months of the
siege, the accumulation of countless insults, and the joy of the battle
filled their hearts.

Leaping upon a swaying stone that raised him above the heads of his
companions, Chares held his shield aloft to deflect the darts and
arrows that fell upon it as thickly as the drops of a shower.

"Ohe!" he cried down the slope.  "Come on!  The victory is ours!"

Clearchus bounded up beside him, his face pale with eagerness, and
stared into the city.

"Where is she?  Where is she?" he cried, panting.

Chares laughed.  "Did you expect she would be waiting for you at the
top?" he asked.  "You will have to wait until we get inside."

The Athenian gazed at the lofty buildings, whose walls were pierced by
hundreds of windows.  If he only knew where to look!  From the
housetops fluttered countless scarfs of yellow, blue, and red.  Any one
of them might be hers.  He was bewildered.

The wall had fallen outward, leaving about twenty feet of its base
standing on the side toward the city.  Companies of Tyrian soldiers ran
toward the breach.  They placed ladders against the foot of the broken
wall and scrambled up into the gap like a swarm of ants to meet the
Macedonians.  Ptolemy saw them coming and uttered a joyful cry.

"Here they are," he shouted.  "Melkarth, take thy sacrifice of dogs!"

A conflict without quarter began on the crest of the gap.  The Tyrians
fought with desperation, knowing that if the enemy once gained a
lodgement in the city they were lost.  But in vain they hurled
themselves upon the head of the column, where Ptolemy and Clitus,
Chares and Clearchus, and a hundred more received them with the deadly
upward thrust of their swords, against which no armor was proof.  There
was no longer room for the Tyrians in the breach.  Those who had
ascended last were forced back, leaping or falling in their armor, the
weight of which broke their bones.  Mingled with the living, the dead
began to drop back through the breach.  The shouts of the victors
carried panic into the streets.

Tyre lay at the mercy of Macedon.  Looking down into the city, Ptolemy
saw the Tyrians hastily constructing barricades of furniture, casks,
litters, and such material as they were able to drag quickly together.

"Do they think that will save them, now that we hold this?" he said to
Clitus.

Clearchus leaned against a stone with great joy in his heart.  Tyre had
been won and Artemisia was saved.  The sight of Moloch's dark temple no
longer chilled his blood.  Baal must look elsewhere for victims.  The
weary months of longing were at an end.

So desperate had been the struggle in the breach that the Macedonians
had forgotten all else.  It was not until the pause before the final
charge into the city that they began to notice the rolling clouds of
black smoke that were drawing together toward the gap along those
portions of the wall that remained standing.  It rose in dark masses
against the sky, blotting out the sun as it spread seaward from the
parapet.  Under its gloomy canopy men were swarming in long processions
upon the top of the wall toward the gap, bearing caldrons of iron and
copper suspended from yokes across their shoulders.

"See!  They are going to provide us with shade," Clitus said.

Ptolemy looked, and his expression changed to one of alarm.

"Pitch and bitumen!" he exclaimed.  "The men will never be able to
stand it!"

A caldron rolled down into the gap, followed by another and another,
scattering their blazing contents as they came.  Wherever the bitumen
fell it continued to burn, giving out smoke in stifling volumes.  In a
few minutes the gap was obscured by suffocating clouds in which the
Macedonians groped blindly.  Every stone was covered with a coating of
the blazing substances.  Showers of molten lead and burning oil
descended from the walls.  The bitumen ate into the flesh of the
soldiers.  The lead and oil burned out their eyes.  Many of them fled
like living torches down the slope and plunged into the sea.  The gap
had become untenable.

Ptolemy saw that it would be impossible for reënforcements to reach
him.  He shook his sword at the city through the drifting smoke.
"Another day!" he shouted, and, turning, plunged down the blazing path.

Clearchus stood dazed as he saw his comrades turn back.

"Come!" Chares shouted.  "Do you want to be burned to death?"

"Cowards!" Clearchus cried, "why do you fly?  Do you not see that Tyre
is yours?"

He made a step toward the edge of the wall and would have leaped down
into the city had not Chares caught him with an iron grasp.

"Leonidas!" cried the Theban.

"Here!" the voice of Leonidas replied, and he appeared through the
smoke, smothering a patch of blazing pitch that had fallen upon his
bare shoulder.

"Clearchus has gone crazy," Chares said.  "Help me to carry him down."

"You shall not!" the Athenian cried.  "Traitors!  Set me free!"

Leonidas calmly twisted the sword out of his hand and threw it aside.
They lifted him between them, despite his struggles.  Suddenly his
muscles relaxed and his head fell backward.

"That's right," Chares said.  "He has fainted.  We can carry him better
so."

He threw the limp form over his shoulder and strode after Leonidas into
the black curtain, which had become so dense that it was impossible for
sight to penetrate it in any direction.  Sulphur and pepper had been
mixed in the caldrons, giving the smoke a pungent, choking quality.
Stumbling over jagged blocks of stone, and tripping upon the bodies of
the dead, Chares, with Clearchus in his arms, followed Leonidas through
that vale of death.  Blinded and gasping, they staggered to the edge of
the water.  They were the last to come alive out of the smoke.  They
were drawn upon one of the siege boats, and lay there until the
unwieldy vessel was towed out into the clear sunshine and safety.



CHAPTER XLI

PRINCE HUR'S COUNTERPLOT

Prince Hur, son of Azemilcus, sat in his house, which opened from the
courtyard of the palace.  In figure he was undersized, like his father,
with a delicate face and thin white hands, on one of which glittered a
great ruby.  Instead of the mocking smile that the king was accustomed
to wear, his expression was grave and serious.

With him were Esmun, chief priest of Baal-Moloch, on whose fat
countenance, with its pendulous jowls, sloth struggled with greed, and
Ariston, the Athenian.  Ariston's thin form was thinner and his face
more worn than on the day when he watched his nephew, Clearchus, ride
out of Athens, leaving him guardian of his fortune.  He had made free
use of this wealth, as he had planned, to save the remnants of his own;
but mischance had continued to follow him in everything he attempted.
So heavy were his losses that he rejoiced when he learned that
Clearchus had been sent to Babylon a prisoner.  The young man's return
to the army filled him with despair.  Involved as he was, only one hope
remained.  He would dispose of his great dye-works in Tyre, and the
proceeds of the sale would enable him to make a last attempt to save
himself.  While he was in Tyre, he also would collect the loan that he
had been forced to make to Phradates, and that the Phœnician had
never repaid.  If this plan failed, he would have to choose between
death and the punishment that would be visited upon the betrayal of his
trust.  Therefore he had come to Tyre, and there, by a final stroke of
misfortune, he had been imprisoned by the siege.

"I fear there is not much hope for us," Prince Hur said.  "Even though
we succeed in beating off these attacks, as we did to-day, sooner or
later we shall starve."

"Hast thou, too, lost faith in the power of Baal?" Esmun asked, in a
tone of reproof.

"I believe in him as much as you do yourself," the prince said.

"I may have deserved that reproach," the priest replied sadly.  "To my
shame, I confess it; but if I have allowed the name of Baal to be
lightly spoken in my presence, it was not because I did not believe.  I
thought that he was able to defend himself, as indeed he is.  I say to
you now that I know his power.  It has been shown over and over again.
If it should please him to save Tyre in her extremity, he will do it.
We shall know after the sacrifice."

"There will be no sacrifice," the prince said quietly.

Esmun stared at him open-mouthed, and Ariston started sharply.  The
Athenian was the first to recover himself.

"What does your Highness mean?" he asked.  "Doubtless you speak in
jest."

"I sent for you because I am in need of your advice," the prince
continued gravely.  "You are both men of the world and fitted to aid me
with your counsel; but what I am about to tell you must not be
repeated, even to yourselves.  Do you swear to keep the secret, no
matter what my decision may be?"

"We swear it," Ariston replied.

"And you?" the prince said to Esmun.

"By the head of Baal!" the priest declared.

"Azemilcus has resolved to deliver the city," the prince said, bending
forward and speaking in a tone scarcely above a whisper.

For an instant both his hearers were silent.  Ariston comprehended in a
flash that surrender would mean his ruin, since it would involve the
loss of his property.  Esmun was too astonished to think.

"What will the king receive in return?" the Athenian inquired.

"His life," Hur replied.  "He knows well that the city must be
destroyed, and that his people will be sold into slavery."

Esmun groaned.  He saw himself torn from his life of ease,
Baal-Moloch's temple in ruins, and nothing left for him but years of
servitude.

"How will the surrender be made?" Ariston asked.

"The king will order the fleets out of both harbors," the prince
explained.  "They will be destroyed, and care will be taken to leave
the harbor entrances unguarded."

"Does Alexander know this?" Esmun demanded.

"Not yet," said the prince.  "I am to go to him to-night with the
chancellor to make him the offer."

"Then you have consented to it?" the priest said.

"I was not asked to consent," the prince replied bitterly.  "You know
that the king is not in the habit of consulting me."

"Yet he proposes to take your inheritance from you!" Esmun exclaimed.
"If Baal intervenes, the city will be saved and you will be its king."

"Does the council know?" Ariston asked.

"It does not," Hur replied.

"There is only one course open to you," Esmun declared, roused as he
had not been since the long struggle that ended in raising him above
his rivals and placing him in a position that gave him almost as much
power as the king himself.  "Go with the chancellor, since to refuse
now would arouse suspicion.  Get proof of the king's treachery and lay
it at once before the council and the generals.  Azemilcus will be
dealt with according to their will, and you will be made king in his
stead.  That you may leave to me if you can obtain the proof; but it
must be strong."

"There would be no difficulty concerning the proof," the prince said
doubtfully.  "We are to bring Macedonians back with us to act as a
guard for the king.  They will be concealed in the palace so that they
will be able to insure his safety when the city falls.  Their presence
will be proof enough."

"Would it not be better to lay the whole affair before the council
now?" Ariston suggested.

"No," said Esmun decisively.  "The king would deny everything.  He
would accuse Hur of seeking his throne, and he would be believed.  We
must have the proof."

"I do not like to raise my hand against my father," Hur said
hesitatingly.

"Tyre is in danger," Esmun said solemnly.  "It is your duty to save her
if you can, and this duty comes before any tie of blood.  It is I,
chief servant of Baal, who tell you this."

"I shall not shrink," the prince responded, with sudden decision.

The sun was setting before the three completed the details of their
plan.  When Ariston left the prince, he was so wrapped in thought that
he did not recognize the brutal face of Syphax, who passed him with
three or four others of his own kind.

"Do you see that man?" the broken freebooter exclaimed, directing the
attention of his companions to the retreating form.  "I have a
settlement to make with him.  It was he who scattered my crew and
brought me to what I am.  I have sought him far, and now the Fates have
given him to me.  He shall pay the reckoning!"



CHAPTER XLII

A TRAITOR IN PURPLE

Although they had been repulsed, the Macedonians returned to their
camp, confident that Tyre could not much longer stand against them.
Alexander ordered the sacrifice of a black bull to Phœbus.  After a
careful examination of the entrails, Aristander, the soothsayer, sought
the king and spoke to him in private.

"Tyre will fall before the month ends," he said.  "Phœbus has
promised it."

"But the month will end to-morrow," Alexander replied, in astonishment.

"Nevertheless, there can be no doubt," Aristander declared.  "To-morrow
thou wilt be in possession of the city."

"Let us see what the army thinks," the king returned.

The news soon spread through the camp.  Some of the soldiers rejoiced
as though the promise had already been fulfilled, while others refused
to believe, declaring that the thing was impossible.  In order to save
the God from discredit, Alexander issued a proclamation extending the
month three days beyond its accustomed term.  With this the army was
satisfied.

Clearchus gave way to an agony of disappointment when he regained
consciousness to find himself on the siege boat with the walls of Tyre
receding from him.  Chares and Leonidas were obliged at first to
prevent him by force from throwing himself into the sea.  It was only
when the Theban reminded him that it was still possible for them to
enter the city that he became calmer.  He was for seeking the passage
through which Joel had emerged as soon as day ended, but the young
Israelite convinced him that such an attempt would surely be
frustrated.  The breach in the wall was only a short distance from the
passage and workmen would be engaged there, to say nothing of the guard
that would certainly be established.  He consented finally to yield to
his friends and await the third watch of the night.  This delay would
permit them to get a few hours of rest.

The sun went down in flaming glory, casting the long shadow of the
Tyrian walls across the Macedonian camp.  The thin smoke of a thousand
fires rose lazily in the quiet The soldiers ceased to recount their
escapes in the dreadful breach and stretched themselves on the ground.
Only in Alexander's tent a light continued to glow.

In the middle of the second watch, a small boat crept in from the
purple shadows of the sea and grated on the sand.  Two men stepped out
and turned their faces toward the camp.  By their features and dress
they were Phœnicians.  Of the first sentinel they met, they demanded
to be led to Alexander, and the reasons they gave caused the captain of
the guard to grant their request.

The captain emerged from the king's tent at the end of half an hour and
hurried away in the darkness.  He brought back with him Clearchus,
Chares, Leonidas, Nathan, and Joel.  The Theban was rubbing his eyes
and yawning over his interrupted slumbers.

"What is all this about?" he grumbled.  "Have we not done enough for
one day?  I wish this cursed city was in the bottom of the sea!"

"It is by the king's order," the captain reminded him.

They found Alexander stretched upon his couch and the two Phœnicians
seated before him.  From the expression of the king's eyes as they
sought his, Clearchus knew that something of moment was in his mind,
and his pale face brightened.

One of the strangers was Prince Hur, son of King Azemilcus.  The young
man seemed ill at ease, and his fingers played constantly with the
golden chain that he wore as a member of the council.  His companion
was older and more composed.  His lips were thin and his eyes were keen
and penetrating.

"Comrades," Alexander said, using the term that endeared him to every
soldier in his army, "I have a dangerous service to ask of you.  King
Azemilcus has dreamed that his city is about to fall, and we know that
his dream is true.  He has sent his son and his chancellor to us to ask
his life, and it has been granted to him.  But many things may happen
when the blood is hot with fighting, and it is necessary that
Macedonians be with him when we enter.  Therefore I wish you to go to
him and guard him when the time arrives.  You may conduct him to the
Temple of Melkarth, which will be set aside as a sanctuary.

"It has been promised that you shall pass unharmed into the city and
remain there in the palace until I come.  If this promise is not kept,
Azemilcus and all his family are to be crucified upon the walls as a
warning to those who may wish to break faith with Alexander."

The young king looked keenly at the Phœnicians.  The prince lowered
his eyes and moved uneasily.

"There is one thing more," Alexander continued.  "If any of you have
friends in the city whom you desire to protect, it is made a condition
of the safety of Azemilcus that he shall aid you by every means in his
power."

He glanced meaningly at Clearchus as he uttered these words, and the
young man's heart bounded with renewed hope.

They left the tent in silence.  The captain of the guard accompanied
them to the boat.

"Azemilcus is betraying his city," Chares whispered.

"We shall save Artemisia and rescue Thais," Clearchus replied, gripping
the arm of his friend.

They entered the boat and rowed silently to the Egyptian Harbor.  The
towering height of the wall swallowed the little craft in its shadow
and no sentinel challenged them.  They bent their heads as they glided
under the great guard-chains that stretched across the entrance of the
harbor, and threading their way among the shipping, they reached the
landing and disembarked.

Keeping to the left, the chancellor led them toward the palace.  More
than once they were forced to step aside to avoid the heaps of ruins
that told of the work done by the ballistæ.  As they advanced, the
great bulk of the palace rose before them above the wall, to which it
was joined and of which it formed a part.  As they advanced, the
chancellor was careful to keep in the deepest shadow, and his hand
shook as he fitted the key into a small door in the palace wall.

"We are safe!" he said to the prince as the door closed behind them.

"Very well," the young man replied, yawning; "I am going to bed."

He turned abruptly into a lateral passage and disappeared.  The
chancellor seemed in doubt for a moment whether to call him back, but
he decided to let him go.

"Follow me," he said to the Macedonians.

They groped their way upward after him along a winding stair that
seemed to be built into the city wall.  This slow progress continued
for many minutes without a glimmer of light until they reached what
appeared to be a windowless chamber.  There the chancellor left them,
bidding them wait until he had notified the king of their arrival.

He was absent so long that Leonidas began to grow uneasy.  He found the
chamber destitute of furniture and without doors save that by which
they had entered and that by which the chancellor had left them.  Both
were now secured.  This had been accomplished without attracting their
attention and it added to their uneasiness.

"We are like owls in a cage," Nathan said.  "We can do nothing but
wait."

"I do not like it," Leonidas replied.

"Nonsense," Chares remarked.  "They brought us here for a purpose and
we are of more use to them alive than dead.  Do you suppose that
Azemilcus is anxious to be crucified?"

"Perhaps not," the Spartan replied, "but it maybe that he has changed
his mind.  If he does not send for us soon, I think we had better try
the door."

Clearchus said nothing, but he paced impatiently back and forth across
the narrow room, pausing at every sound.  The night was passing and the
hour for the sacrifice to Moloch was drawing nearer.  Shut up in the
palace, they would be powerless to save Artemisia.  The moments seemed
hours to him.  At last he could bear the suspense no longer.

"We should never have permitted the chancellor to leave us!" he said,
and, striding to the door, he began to beat upon it with the hilt of
his sword until the metal of which it was composed rang like a bell.

There was no response.  The others joined him, raising a tumult loud
enough to be heard throughout the palace, but even then some time
elapsed before the bars were removed and the door swung open.  The
chancellor had returned alone, his face white and scared in the
flickering light of the lamp that he had set upon the stone floor while
he worked at the bars.

"Silence, or we are all lost!" he whispered imploringly, taking up the
lamp with a hand that trembled so that the oil spilled upon the floor.
"Do you want to invite death?"

"Don't talk to us of silence!" bellowed Chares, threatening the old man
with his sword.  "What do you mean by shutting us up here?  You have
yet to learn that it is not wise to keep the soldiers of Alexander
waiting.  Take us to your king."

"Yes, yes!" muttered the chancellor with chattering teeth.  "Follow me;
but in the name of Baal keep silence!  I fear they have heard you
already."

"Little I care if they have, whoever they are," the Theban exclaimed,
stalking after the chancellor, sword in hand.  "If you try any more of
your tricks, your head goes off like a chicken's."

They made several turns in the passage, ascended a last short flight of
steps, and came to a second door, which their guide pushed open.  They
followed him into a large room, hung with woven tapestries, carpeted
with silken rugs, and strewn with luxurious divans.  It was on the
southern side of the palace, with windows that looked out across the
wall toward the sea.  The light of the lamps was already yielding to
the gray dawn which silvered the surface of the water.

With his back to the window stood Azemilcus, king of the doomed city.
His thin white hair straggled from under a close-fitting cap to the
diamond collar which encircled his wrinkled throat.  A gorgeous robe of
crimson hid his shrunken figure.  He looked old and feeble, but his
eyes were as bright as jewels set in the head of a mummy.

"Welcome, gentlemen!" he said quietly, stretching forth a wasted hand
toward Chares, who was striding toward him with anger in his face.  "I
must ask your pardon for your detention; but we are prisoners here,
like yourselves."

Astonishment halted the Theban, who stood staring at the king as though
he had not heard aright.  Clearchus stepped forward.

"What do you mean?  Who has made you a prisoner?" he asked sharply.

The small king smiled with irony on his lips.

"I fear it can be only the prince, my son," he replied.

"The same one who helped to bring us here and who left us as soon as we
entered the palace?" Clearchus demanded.

"Yes," Azemilcus answered, crossing his hands and hiding them in the
wide sleeves of his robe.  "He is not sharp-witted, my son; and it
turns out that he still has hopes of saving Tyre so that he may reign
here in my place.  You see what they have been doing."

He stepped back and waved his hand toward the window.  Beneath them was
the breach that had been so desperately attacked and defended.  The
Tyrians had raised a new wall, nearly as thick and as high as the city
wall itself.  It formed a half-circle inside the gap, joining the main
wall at either end, so that an attacking force, seeking to storm the
breach, would be caught as in the bend of a bow.  Swarms of men were
still at work there by the light of torches.

The Athenian's heart sank.  It seemed to him impossible that after the
defeat of the preceding day, a second attack could succeed when the
breach had been repaired.  They were inside the city, it was true, but
they were only five against forty thousand.

For a moment there was silence in the room.  The bitter smile still
rested on the thin lips of the old king.  The chancellor stood
nervously rubbing his knuckles, first with one hand and then with the
other.  Leonidas examined the wall and the new work with an eye that
took in every detail.  He turned to the king.

"You know that if you try to deceive us, we will kill you," he said
quietly.

"Well?" the king replied, still with his thin smile.

"You say that it is your son who has shut you up," Leonidas continued.
"Why do you think so?"

"Because he alone, besides this man, knew that I had summoned you," the
king said.

Leonidas looked at the chancellor, whose ashen face grew a shade paler
under his scrutiny.

"You were about to betray your city and your son has betrayed you," the
Spartan said.

"That is a harsh way to put it," Azemilcus answered.  "The city was
lost already."

"Is it lost now?" Leonidas demanded, pointing to the new wall.

"Yes," said the old king.  "To-day, to-morrow, next month, it will
fall.  The Gods have deserted us.  The boy told me they would."

"It is not surprising that the Gods have deserted you," the Spartan
observed.  "But your son, who has conspired against you, knows that we
are here."

"Yes," the king admitted.

"And you kept us shut up while you were considering whether there was
not some way of getting rid of us so that we might not be found and
used as proof of your treachery," Leonidas continued.  "You were ready
to sacrifice us, who had come to save you, so that you might prove your
son a liar and defeat his attempt."

Azemilcus made no reply, but the smile left his lips and he glanced
furtively from side to side.  Chares muttered some words in his throat
that sounded like a curse.

"You are speaking to a king," Azemilcus said at last, drawing himself
up with an assumption of dignity and trying to meet the eyes of his
questioner.

"I am speaking to a fool!" Leonidas replied contemptuously.  "In order
to profit by his double perfidy, your son must have proof against you.
Who will believe him unless we are found?  It will be his first care to
produce us, and if he can do this, there will be no hope left for you.
Every moment that you kept us behind that door brought you nearer to
death."

He paused, and Azemilcus made no reply; but his smile came back and his
eyes wandered toward a table where a great flagon of wine had been set.

"There may yet be time to save ourselves and you," Leonidas continued.
"If you can get rid of us for the present, you will have nothing to
fear.  You can deny your son's story and it will be attributed to a
clumsy plot to overthrow you.  Is there no way out of the palace that
is not guarded?"

"None that I know," the king replied.

The chancellor uttered a clucking sound in his throat that seemed
involuntary.  Leonidas gripped him by the shoulder.

"Do you know a way?" he cried.  "Speak quickly."

The chancellor went down on his knees and raised his hands in
supplication.

"Mercy!" he wailed.  "Mercy!  I know--I have heard of a way!"

"Where does it lead?" Leonidas demanded fiercely.

"To the Temple of our Lord, Baal-Moloch," the old man whimpered.

King Azemilcus looked at his chancellor with his keen eyes and
sarcastic smile.

"Now I understand many things," he remarked dryly.

"Oh, my master, I took them!" the chancellor cried, with tears rolling
down his cheeks.  "Esmun made me do it.  He said Moloch demanded them."

"My rubies," the king said musingly.  "Well, never mind.  We will talk
of them hereafter."

"What is one piece of treachery, more or less, to you?" Leonidas said
roughly.  "Remain here.  Should you escape your son, we will seek you,
if we can, when those come whom you cannot escape.  If we do not
return, fly to the Temple of Melkarth and embrace his knees that you
may be spared.  Farewell!"

He dragged the chancellor to his feet.  The man was shaking so that he
could hardly stand.  Below them in the palace they could hear the tramp
of ascending footsteps and the sound of voices.

"They are coming; we cannot remain here," Nathan cried.

Leonidas snatched up the flagon of wine and hastily filled a golden cup
that he offered to the chancellor.

"Drink this," he said.  "It will give you strength."

Instead of taking the cup, the chancellor uttered a choking cry and
pushed it from him.

"Not that!" he gasped.  "See, I am strong!  I will lead you!"

He seemed indeed to have recovered from his weakness, for he stepped
briskly toward the door by which they had entered.  Leonidas looked at
him and then at the wine spilled upon the floor.

"Poisoned!" he exclaimed, and such a blaze of wrath gleamed in his eye
that the old king shrank back.

"So this was your plan for getting rid of us!" the Spartan said.

His grasp tightened about the hilt of his sword, and for an instant he
hesitated; but the tramp of the soldiers was close at hand and he
reflected that a dead king could not betray Tyre.  He sheathed his
sword and darted into the passage after his companions.  Azemilcus made
fast the door behind them and let the draperies fall over it.  Then he
turned with his mocking smile to face his accusers.



CHAPTER XLIII

THE KING TAKES HIS REVENGE

Azemilcus walked to the window and stood there leaning against the
frame.  Day was breaking, sullen and gray, in a wrack of flying clouds,
and the uneasy moaning of the sea sounded in his ears.

There Hur and Esmun, panting from their long climb, found him standing.
The prince carried a drawn sword in his hand and he glanced quickly
from side to side as he burst into the room.  Behind him came Ariston
and a guard of twenty or thirty soldiers, headed by one of the generals
of the garrison.  Hur had expected to find the Greeks.  He saw only his
father, leaning wearily in the window.  He stood abashed, looking at
Esmun as if for advice.

The old king remained motionless until all had entered, and then he
turned slowly and faced them.  The lines of his countenance, deepened
by months of anxiety, told of the strain he had passed through, and his
shrunken frame seemed aged and feeble in its magnificent robe of state.
His eyes met theirs steadily and frankly, yet with a look of sadness as
he gave them his greeting.

"Welcome, my son and gentlemen," he said.  "You come early to seek your
king; but in these times I know that ceremony must be disregarded.
What news do you bring?"

The authority in his tone and the dignity of his bearing, which most of
the men who stood before him had been accustomed from boyhood to
respect, had their effect.  The soldiers, who knew nothing of the plot,
stared wonderingly about them.  Ariston had prudently halted near the
door, and he now edged still farther into the background.

"Come, gentlemen!" the king said, finding that none replied to his
question.  "What is the news that brings you hither at this hour?  Do
not fear to tell me, since it is the lot of kings to share the dangers
and sorrows of their people.  Have I not done it for nearly fifty
years?"

He smiled somewhat sadly and waved his thin hand with a gesture that
seemed to dismiss all that he had done for the city as something for
which he required no return of gratitude.

"Do not hesitate," he continued, "because you would spare me.  It is
true that in all that now threatens us I have more to lose than you.  I
am ready, as you know, to sacrifice even life itself if that would save
the city.  Is it concerning the offering to Baal-Moloch that you desire
to consult me?"

He addressed himself to Esmun, recognizing in the priest the man from
whom he had most to fear.  He had scarcely glanced at his son, who
stood helpless, raging inwardly to find himself presenting the
appearance of a culprit caught in some fault, instead of the avenger
that he had expected to be.  Esmun looked at the prince and saw that
nothing was to be expected from him.  He took up the situation boldly,
relying upon his sacred office to protect him.

"It is true that I wished to consult you concerning the sacrifice to
Baal-Moloch, whom I serve," he said, "but we had still another reason
for coming.  We have been informed that a plot against your life has
been conceived.  It was told to us that certain Greeks had been brought
into the city by the treachery of your enemies, and we made all haste
to summon this guard to protect you in case of need.  It is said that
the assassins are even now in the palace.  If anything should happen to
your Highness, then, indeed, the city might despair.  In guarding thy
safety, we guard the safety of all."

The two men looked into each other's eyes.  The king read the threat
that lay behind Esmun's words and he took up the challenge.

"Why should they seek to destroy a man whose days are fast nearing
their close?" he asked.  "The death of one of these soldiers would
profit them more, since it would leave one less dauntless heart for
them to conquer.  It seems to me that the alarm is needless, although I
thank you for your care; and yet, I will not conceal from you that
there may after all be some basis for the story you have heard.  Within
the week, the crown rubies have been stolen, and it is clear that I
have some unfaithful servants.  Perhaps they have brought in the Greeks
to prevent detection and the punishment they deserve.  Search the
palace, and if the assassins are found, we will make an example of
them."

Esmun's heavy face quivered when the king spoke of the rubies, for his
words were accompanied by a look full of significance.  He knew that
the Greeks were in the city, but the willingness of the king to have
the search made indicated that they were no longer in the palace.  He
racked his brains to think what had become of them.

Ariston slipped out of the door and stole softly down the stairs.  The
astute Athenian saw that the counterplot had collapsed.

"You, my son, and you, Esmun, will remain with me while the guard makes
the search," the king said coolly, "and let us eat, for there is much
to be done to-day."

He engaged the priest in talk regarding the details of the sacrifice to
Baal while the soldiers dispersed through the palace and slaves brought
food.  To Hur he did not speak.  The general in charge of the guard at
last returned, saying that no trace of the presence of strangers in the
palace could be discovered.  He knew nothing of the secret passages,
and the prince did not venture, in his father's presence, to reveal
them.  Esmun, with the theft of the rubies in his mind, dared not
betray his knowledge of their existence.

"It is as I thought," the king said, dismissing the guard.  "I thank
you for your zeal."

The slaves had already withdrawn, since it was unlawful for any who had
not been initiated to be present while the mysteries of the worship of
Baal were being discussed.

"You seem downcast, my son!" the king said when he was left alone with
Hur and the priest.  He took his seat at the table, upon which the food
had been placed, and motioned them to a seat opposite to him.  "You
will never be a king," he continued, "until you learn how to conquer
failure.  I have noted a certain nervousness in you of late.  You
should overcome it.  Misfortune is half disarmed when you meet her in a
cheerful spirit."

Hur let his eyes fall, but he made no reply.  Esmun kept his gaze on
the king's face.

"Come!" Azemilcus said in the same bantering tone, "you do not eat.
You should leave the welfare of the city to me.  You thought you knew,
when you did not.  You should remember that kings do not always reveal
their purposes."

He filled his cup from the great flagon and pushed it toward them.

"Let us drink to the safety of Tyre," he said.

"To that I say amen," Esmun exclaimed, "and may the curse of Baal rest
upon all who seek to betray her!"

"So say I--be they high or low!" Hur echoed boldly.

The old king's eyes sparkled and he looked at them with the mocking
smile that they knew so well.

"Drink, then!" he said, spilling a few drops from his cup upon the
floor as a libation.

The others followed his example, Esmun with a muttered word of
invocation, and both drank off what remained.  The king was seized by a
violent fit of coughing that shook his withered frame and forced him to
set his cup down untasted.  As he did so Esmun rose to his feet.

The face of the priest was convulsed and purple and his eyes seemed
starting from his head.  He raised his clenched hands and made a
tottering step toward the king as though he would strike him with his
fists.  He struggled to speak, but no words issued from his throat.  He
reeled blindly and crashed down across the table like a slain bullock,
overturning it in his fall.  His eyes rolled up in his head and he lay
motionless.

The prince did not rise from his chair, but his fingers gripped
convulsively the carved arms of ebony and he writhed in agony.

"Father!" he gasped.

His form stiffened, his head fell back, and a slight foam appeared on
his lips.

Azemilcus drew the skirts of his robe around him and stepped carefully
across the litter caused by the wreck of the table, with its linen
cloth stained in the spilled wine that flowed from the shattered
flagon.  He walked quietly to the door and vanished between the crimson
curtains, leaving the two dead men alone in the room.



CHAPTER XLIV

THE REVOLT OF THE ISRAELITES

While Azemilcus was dealing with his enemies in his own way, the
wretched chancellor, shaking in every limb, conducted the Macedonians
back through the secret passage by which he had brought them to the
presence of the king.  Descending the winding stairs, they reached the
street level, where the old man opened a hidden door that led into a
narrow subterranean gallery.  They followed this for what seemed to
them a long distance in a stagnant atmosphere, heavy with dampness.  It
brought them at last to a slab of stone, from which hung a ring of iron.

Chares was forced to exert all his strength to turn this stone upon its
pivot.  They emerged from the passage into a small room with walls of
rough masonry and a door that was closed by a black curtain.  At the
request of the chancellor, the lamp was extinguished.

"Where are we?" Leonidas demanded.

"In the Temple of Baal," the old man whispered.  "This room is little
used by the priests.  They live on the other side."

The Spartan raised the curtain and looked into the gloomy interior of
the temple.  It was deserted and silent.

"What shall we do with this man?" he asked, turning to his companions,
and indicating the chancellor.

"We have no further use for him," Chares replied, placing his hand
suggestively upon his sword-hilt.

"Spare me!" the chancellor cried, falling upon his knees.  "I will tell
where the rubies are, and a great store of jewels besides.  They are
under the image of Baal.  Do not take my life!"

"He might betray us if we let him go," Leonidas said, paying no
attention to his supplications.

"I swear to you on the head of Baal that I will not," the old man cried
piteously.

"If he should betray us," Clearchus observed, "his own life would be
forfeit, because we should reveal the part he had in bringing us into
the city."

"Very well; you have most at stake," the Spartan said.  "Let him go."

The chancellor did not wait for further permission.  He disappeared
into the passage like an old gray rat escaped from a trap.

"I am half sorry we spared him after all," Leonidas said regretfully.
"Let us see where we are."

They passed through the curtained door and into the temple.  Twilight
reigned beneath the lofty dome where the bats were still flitting.
This semi-darkness was artfully preserved so that the fire, which was
the essential feature of the worship of Baal-Moloch, might be visible
and effective during the sacrifices.

The Greeks found themselves in a vast hall of oblong shape.  They were
standing upon a platform of stone, raised for the height of a man above
the main floor, to which a flight of broad and shallow steps descended.
A huge dark mass stood before them exactly under the dome, the sides of
which were pierced by narrow slits that admitted the light of day.
This mass was the misshapen idol of Baal.  The God was represented by a
hollow statue of iron and bronze, sitting upon a throne.  Its long arms
terminated in hands that rested with palms upturned beside its knees.
Its enormous head was inclined slightly forward, and the expression
upon its face was so cruel and malignant that Clearchus felt his blood
chilled as he gazed upon it and thought of the hecatombs of innocent
victims whose lives had been sacrificed to its ferocity.

There were larger and more splendid images of Baal in other
Phœnician cities, but none that was so venerated.  It had been
brought from the Temple of Baal-Moloch in the Old City on the mainland,
where for centuries it had been the guardian of the place, receiving
its sacrifices each year.  In the old days even the first-born of the
royal blood had been lifted in those blackened arms and rolled upon the
iron knees to be roasted alive.  The terrible face leaned above with
distended nostrils, as though to inhale the odor of burning flesh, and
thousands of mothers had watched its dreadful smile through the smoke
with songs of praise on their lips and death in their hearts, while
their babies writhed in agony in the pitiless embrace.  Baal would
accept no unwilling sacrifice, and the mother whose child was torn from
her breast to be given to the God, not only lost her infant but was
disgraced forever if she showed emotion while the rite was being
performed.

In spite of themselves, the Macedonians were oppressed by a kind of
superstitious dread as they looked at the grim visage that seemed to
sneer down upon them.

The great portals of the temple, at the other end of the hall, were
closed.  On either side were rows of dark columns upholding the roof,
which was painted to represent the heavens.  Dim shapes of monsters,
half beast and half human, appeared upon the walls.

The Greeks made a circuit of the temple but found no means of egress.
There were several anterooms similar to the one to which the
subterranean passage had led them.  These contained vestments, the
implements used in the ceremonials, and a store of scented wood, dry as
tinder, that furnished fuel for the sacrifices.  In one of the rooms
was a door which Joel believed connected with the building in which the
priests were housed.  The walls around the platform were draped with
heavy hangings of black that formed a background for the image.

"Let us take counsel," Nathan said, casting a look of hatred at the
idol.  "Jehovah will not permit this monster to triumph over Him."

They withdrew into their recess to consider a plan of action.

"One thing is certain," Leonidas said.  "Alone we can never prevent the
sacrifice."

"My people will help us," Nathan said.  "They will not give up their
first-born without fighting."

"How many are they?" Clearchus asked.

"There are ten thousand of them in the city," Joel replied; "but they
are not armed, excepting those who have been drafted to the defence of
the walls."

"I have more faith in Alexander than I have in your people," Chares
said bluntly.  "He will be in the city before this day ends, unless the
Gods have misled old Aristander."

"But will he come in time?" Leonidas asked.  "Let Nathan and Joel go to
the Israelites and rouse them to resist.  Tell them that Alexander is
coming and that he will protect them.  We three will stay here and
await the result."

To this the others gave their assent.  It seemed a desperate chance,
but it was all they had.  There was a small window in the antechamber,
high up in the wall.  Nathan climbed up to it on the shoulders of the
Greeks and looked through.

"There is nothing on this side but the cypress garden," he said.
"Farewell; you may be sure that we shall return, though we come alone."

He slipped through the window and dropped upon the turf outside.  Joel
followed him.  The three Greeks, left alone in the temple, looked into
each other's faces and Clearchus grasped his companions by the hand.

"You have placed your lives in peril for me," he said with emotion.
"Zeus grant that they be not demanded of you!"

"Pshaw!" Chares exclaimed, "are not our lives always in peril?  If we
must die, we shall die; and we are not permitted to choose where or
how.  When the Ferryman calls, we must go.  For my part, if thou
wouldst repay me, let me sleep, for my head is nodding."

Clearchus smiled, understanding his friend's aversion to any display of
feeling.  He embraced the Theban, who calmly lay down upon the stone
floor; his eyes closed, and he began to snore gently.

Leonidas, whose tough frame defied fatigue, and Clearchus, whose mind
was in a torment of doubt and suspense, stationed themselves behind the
curtain that hid the door and waited, talking in whispers.  They could
hear the patter of raindrops and by the rising wind outside they knew
that a storm was breaking over the city.  Its breath entered through
the slits in the dome, causing the dark hangings to sway against the
wall.  The gloomy temple seemed to be filled with mysterious
murmurings.  Some drops fell upon the image of Baal and ran glistening
down the bronze head and broad, sleek shoulders.

Nathan and Joel made their way through the cypress thickets and scaled
the wall of the temple garden.  They found themselves in a narrow
street which led them to a broader thoroughfare, where men were
hurrying to and fro in the rain.  Soldiers of the garrison, weary and
hollow-eyed, were going to the defences.  Citizens whose uneasy rest
had been cut short by the tension of dread were early abroad in search
of news.

"What of the enemy?" one of them asked of a soldier who was returning
from the walls.

"They are coming out to attack," the soldier replied.  "Their ships
have already left the shore, and the stones will soon be falling about
your ears."

"How much longer?" the citizen asked, with a groan.

"Ask that of the Gods," the soldier replied indifferently; "but I think
the end will be soon, unless Moloch relents."

Joel and Nathan passed on, their appearance attracting no attention in
a city where there were so many of their race.

"Hasten!" Nathan said.  "Alexander is coming!"

As they advanced toward the quarter occupied by the Israelites, the
streets became filled with people, nearly all of whom seemed to be
drawn in the same direction that they themselves were taking.  They
fell in with a man who strode on with knitted brows and lips
compressed.  By his appearance he was a Hebrew, and Nathan addressed
him in the Hebrew tongue.

"Whither goest thou?" he asked.

"To save the innocent from slaughter," the man replied fiercely.  "Come
with me if ye are men!"

"We will come with thee," Nathan said.

"There are the priests!" Joel exclaimed.

Half a dozen of the ministers of Baal, surrounded by a guard of
soldiers, came down a cross street.  They carried in their hands small
bundles of short cords with which to bind the limbs of their victims.
The crowd gave way before them, gazing at their black robes and stern,
fanatical faces with curiosity mingled with dread.

"May the curse of the Most High rest upon them!" the stranger cried,
shaking his fist.

He began to run in the direction of the open square used by the
Israelites as a market-place.  Nathan and Joel raced after him.  The
clamor of voices raised in bitter lamentation reached them.  They found
the square choked with a surging mass of men and women who clasped
little children to their breasts, seeking to protect them.  The rain
beat in their faces and the gusty wind tossed their garments.  Some
called upon their God, raising their hands toward heaven.  Others
shrieked the names of their offspring who had already been torn from
them.  Every house in the quarter was filled with weeping and cries of
despair.  The priests of Baal went hither and thither, seizing their
prey in the name of the law wherever they found it.

Nathan and Joel halted at the edge of the square.  The priests were
searching through the crowd, many of them concealing a tiny burden
beneath their robes of office.  Feeble wailings betrayed the nature of
these bundles.  They were the children of the Israelites, bound hand
and foot for the sacrifice.

While the young men stood looking, one of the priests discovered a
woman who crouched upon the ground with her face hidden in her
dishevelled hair.  He grasped her roughly by the shoulder and drew her
back, disclosing the fact that she had been shielding her baby beneath
her bosom.  The child raised its dimpled hands and tried to touch its
mother's wet cheeks.  The priest seized them and tore the infant from
her.  She clutched the skirt of his robe and followed him on her knees
through the mire, begging piteously for the child.

"You have so many already," she said, "and he is all I have!  Surely
Baal does not require my little one.  He will be appeased.  Give him
back to me!"

The priest turned and struck her upturned face with his clenched hand.
She uttered a cry of anguish and released his robe, falling back
senseless to the earth.

An inarticulate sound burst from the lips of the man who had guided
Nathan and Joel to the market-place.

"O Lord, my God!" he shouted, raising his hands to the leaden sky.  "I
had two children to be the staff and prop of my old age.  Wilt Thou
suffer them to be taken from me?  We have remained faithful to Thee; is
this to be our reward?"

Nathan was about to spring upon the guard that surrounded the priests
before him when the tall figure of an old man strode into the square.
His gaunt frame was clad in sackcloth, and his long white hair and
beard were blown in the wind.  He walked erect, without the aid of the
staff which he carried in his hand.  There was an air of authority and
even of majesty in his bearing.  The men and women nearest to him fell
upon their knees and stretched their hands toward him in supplication.
He did not glance at them and he seemed not to hear their prayers.  His
stern eyes swept the market-place and he spoke in a resonant voice that
rose above the tumult and caused it to die away.

"Why do ye lament, men of Israel?" he cried.  "Cease now your weeping
and rejoice.  For Tyre is fallen!  Her hour is come!"

"It is Pethuel, chief priest of the synagogue," Joel whispered to
Nathan, who was watching the old man with glowing eyes.

"Hearken unto me, O ye of little faith!" Pethuel continued, and the
silence spread until his words could be heard throughout the square.
"The worshipper of idols is cast down.  The day of clouds and thick
darkness is at hand.  Lo! they waxed a strong and a mighty people.  The
cities of the world feared them, and their ships followed the trackless
wastes of the sea.  There was none like to them in their greatness.

"Unto some they said, 'Go!' and unto others they said, 'Come!'  Verily,
their strength was like that of the lion, and they rejoiced in their
vessels of gold and silver.  It seemed to them that there would be no
ending.

"And lo! the end is upon them.  They are cast down; their walls are
overthrown, and their city is become a place of desolation.  Thus saith
the Lord God unto me, His servant, that I may tell it to my people and
bid them rejoice!

"He has delivered them out of the hands of their enemies as a bird from
the net of the fowler.  I said unto the Lord, 'Behold, the city of
abominations hath laid her hand upon Thy servants!  In the olden time,
did she spoil Israel and Juda and the pleasant valleys, wasting them
with fire and sword.  Then did Thy vengeance fall upon her, until of
her strong walls not one stone remained upon another.  But now she
presseth sore upon Thy people; wherefore help us, O Lord!'

"Hear ye, men of Israel!  Out of the darkness came a Voice like the
rushing of a mighty wind and the sound of many waters, and it filled
mine ears, saying: 'I am the Lord God of Hosts.  Inasmuch as ye have
been faithful unto Me and have bowed not before the work of man's
hands, therefore will I hearken unto you.  She has sown the wind, and
she shall reap the whirlwind.  Her fortresses and her strong places
shall be spoiled.  The weak shall perish with the strong, and the
mighty shall not deliver himself.  I will give her daughters to ruin
and her children shall be wanderers among the nations.  This will I do
for My people, that they be not put to scorn.  Say to them: "Take each
man his sword and let him slay; for who shall withstand the wrath of
the Most High?"'"

To Nathan it seemed that the veil that separates the seen from the
unseen had been rent away.  The voice that rang in his ears was no
longer the voice of Pethuel, but that of his Maker.  He felt himself
lifted up beyond the region of doubt, and a great gladness filled his
heart.

Pethuel paused before him and looked at him with a gaze that pierced
him through like fire.  The old man raised his staff and touched him on
the shoulder.  It seemed to Nathan an act of consecration.

"Lead thou them!" Pethuel cried in a loud voice.  "It is the command of
the Lord, thy God."

A compelling Power, greater than himself, seized upon the young
Israelite.  He no longer had any volition of his own.  He became an
instrument.

"Follow me, men of Israel!" he shouted, drawing his sword.  "Jehovah
gives the heathen into our hands!"

The hush was broken, and a great cry went up from the densely packed
market-place.  With one impulse, the crowd fell upon the soldiers and
priests who still remained in the square, the greater part having
already retreated toward the Temple of Baal-Moloch.  The Phœnicians,
greatly outnumbered, were able to make but a brief resistance.  Nathan
sprang forward and cut down the nearest soldier.  In the rush that
followed him, the guard was swept away, scattered, and destroyed
singly.  A score of children were rescued.  The priests were trampled
to the earth and torn limb from limb.  The square resounded with savage
cries.  The Israelites had been roused to frenzy.  The word of God was
upon them.

"To the temple!" Nathan shouted.  The cry ran through the mob which
surged into the narrow streets leading to the shrine of Baal-Moloch,
bearing down all before it.  The frightened priests heard it coming and
sent messengers to the walls, demanding succor.  Azemilcus ordered
soldiers to be detached to quell the disturbance, and the defence of
the city was still further weakened.

The fighting in the streets became desperate.  The Israelites scattered
and, by circuitous routes, pressed toward the temple.  They mounted to
the roofs, hurling all kinds of missiles from a great height upon the
heads of the guards.  The rain fell in blinding sheets.  It seemed to
the Tyrians that the entire Hebrew population of the city had suddenly
gone mad.  Ties of association were forgotten, and men who had been
friends for years struggled for each other's lives.

The tumult spread in every direction.  The soldiers were forced to fall
back and form a ring of defence around the temple.  Even then, they had
much ado to hold the crowd at bay, for the Israelites charged against
them without ceasing, recklessly throwing away their lives upon the
hedge of steel.

Great stones dropped from the sky continually.  Friend and foe were
crushed beneath them.  When they struck the walls of the houses, they
left gaping fissures through which the interior could be seen.  They
came from the engines upon the Macedonian ships that were renewing the
attack upon the city.



CHAPTER XLV

MOLOCH CLAIMS HIS SACRIFICE

Artemisia and Thais looked from their window at the scud of flying
clouds and beneath them the Macedonian fleet assembling south of the
city.  Thais' eyes danced with excitement, and Artemisia's cheeks were
flushed.

"This time we shall win!" Thais exclaimed, throwing her arms about her
companion.  "You are beautiful this morning, Artemisia; Clearchus will
be pleased with you."

The color in Artemisia's cheeks deepened and a happy smile parted her
lips.

"I shall make him leave the army," she said.  "Of course I am proud of
his bravery; but, after all, there are better things than to be always
killing other men."

She raised her chin with a charming affectation of pride.  "He is an
Athenian, you know," she added.

Thais frowned.  She found in Artemisia's words an implied reflection
upon Chares.

"Don't be silly," she replied.  "Do you want to make him one of those
curled idiots who spend their time in company with philosophers,
chasing shadows or trying to find out why crabs walk sidewise?  You
would wake up some day and find that one of them had proved to him that
there is no such thing as love.  Or perhaps you would rather have him a
dandy, with race-horses and a score of dancing girls to amuse himself
with!  Let him be a man, Artemisia; let him love you and fight his
enemies with all his heart.  For my part, if Chares talks of deserting
Alexander, he may look elsewhere for some one to love him; for I shall
not."

Artemisia listened to this outburst; but she shook her head, and a soft
light shone in her eyes.

"You want power and splendor," she said "but I would rather be alone
with Clearchus in a desert than sit beside him upon the throne of
Darius.  I will have no rival in his heart."

"And with half a dozen children around you," Thais said scornfully.
"You might as well complete the picture."

"Yes," Artemisia answered bravely, though she blushed as she said it,
"if the Gods permit it; and if the first is a boy, he shall be named
Chares."

Thais turned swiftly and kissed her, all her anger gone in a moment.

"There, sister, I did not mean it," she said.  "May the Gods give us
both our hearts' desire!"

She clapped her hands, and the tiring women who had been awaiting the
summons entered.

"Give me my saffron chiton," she cried, "and my topaz necklace.  We
shall have visitors to-day, girls."

She seated herself before a large mirror while the women dressed her
hair and robed her as she had directed.  They could not hide their
admiration when their task was finished and she stood before them like
a living image of gold.

But Artemisia chose a linen robe of pure white, unrelieved by color.
The spotless purity of her dress set off the delicate flush upon her
cheeks and the soft brown of her hair.

So eager were the young women that they were scarcely able to taste the
fruit and cakes that the servants set before them.  They kept jumping
up and running to the window to see what progress the Macedonian fleet
was making, and whether the attack had begun.

"What a storm!" Artemisia exclaimed.  "I wish it would stop; it hides
the ships."

"Zeus is fighting on our side to-day," Thais replied gayly, as a long
growl of thunder shook the walls of the house.  "Tell me, what is going
on in the city?" she added, turning to a Cretan maiden among the women.
The girl was beautiful in face and figure, although her expression was
one of sadness.  She had once ruled as favorite of Phradates, and it
was whispered in the household that she still loved him, in spite of
the fact that she had had a score of successors since her brief day of
ascendency.

"They are preparing a sacrifice to Baal-Moloch," she replied, "in the
hope of persuading him to aid them."

"What is this sacrifice?  I have never seen one," Thais asked.

"I do not know," the girl said.  "There has been none since I came to
Tyre."

"I know, mistress," another of the women volunteered.  She was a
Syrian, with a supple figure and bright black eyes, who had been a
slave from her infancy.

"Describe it, then," Thais said.

"Baal-Moloch is the most powerful God in the world," the woman said
volubly.  "His image is made of iron, and is terrible to look upon."
She shivered as she spoke.  "I never saw it but once, and that was when
the Babylonian king threatened to make war upon us.  We offered
sacrifice to prevent it, and Moloch would not permit him to come.  The
priests went about the city and took the children--even the little
babies--and carried them away to the temple.  When the doors were
opened, we could see Baal sitting there in the darkness.  There was a
fire inside of him, and his eyes glowed at us.  He reached his hands
down, and the priests gave him the children, one by one, and he lifted
them up and devoured them.  It was awful to think of those little
children!"

Artemisia listened with an expression of horror on her face.

"I do not see where they are going to get the children now," Thais
remarked.  "They have all been sent away."

"They are taking the children of the Israelites who remained here," the
Syrian explained, "and they say--at least, Mena says--they are going to
sacrifice a virgin, too.  Ugh!  I don't want to see it."

"Little good will it do them!" Thais exclaimed.  "Not even Baal can
save their city now."

"Hush!" the Syrian said, affrighted.  "He is a great God."

Sounds of commotion and of hurried footsteps in the lower halls of the
house interrupted them.  Thais listened.

"Go and see what it is," she commanded.

The Syrian went, and in a moment came flying back into the room with
terror on her face.

"Oh, my mistress!" she cried.  "Why did you speak so of Moloch?  His
priests are in the house!  Save us!"

"Silence!" Thais exclaimed, rising to her feet.  "You shall not be
harmed."

She raised her head proudly and faced the doorway, while the slave
women huddled behind her with frightened eyes.  Artemisia stood beside
her, trying to emulate her courage; but a strange sinking laid hold
upon her heart, and a mist swam before her eyes.

There was a rush of feet outside, and four black-robed men, followed by
a guard of soldiers, entered.  Their leader was a man of stern and
grave expression, whose eyes seemed to glow in his pale face with the
power of his compelling will.  He was Hiram, who had been chosen
hastily to act as chief priest when Esmun failed to return from the
royal palace.  His ascetic countenance contrasted strongly with the
gross faces of his followers, brutalized by self-indulgence.  The other
priests both feared and hated him, for it was said that Baal had
endowed him with powers that were beyond the understanding of man.

"What seek ye here?" Thais demanded, flashing a haughty glance at the
zealot.

He paid no heed to her and made no answer.  His dark eyes caught those
of her companion and held them.

"Artemisia!" he said, in a solemn voice that sounded like a summons,
"our Lord, Baal-Moloch, the Saviour, awaits thee!  Come with us to his
temple."

To Artemisia the words sounded far away; yet she heard them distinctly,
and they seemed to leave her no choice but to obey.  A deep sense of
peace crept over her as she looked into the fathomless eyes of the
priest, that were fixed steadfastly upon hers, and from which she could
not withdraw her own.  Dimly she felt that never again should she see
Clearchus or behold the land of Attica.  Never should she hear his
beloved voice or feel his arms around her, clasping her close to his
breast.  It was the will of the Gods.  Everything earthly seemed to
recede and fall away from her as in a dream, leaving her alone with the
grim priest, her master.  They two were floating upon a mighty current
that was bearing them, she knew not whither.  She was at peace, and all
was ended.  The terror she had felt a few moments before had left her.
It seemed remote and long ago, and she smiled to think of it and of how
foolish it had been.

Hiram saw her form droop and her muscles relax, and these signs of his
victory did not escape him.  The expression of his face did not change,
however, and he still kept his eyes fastened upon hers.  The sombre
figures of his subordinates stood motionless beside him, and the
soldiers of his guard, lean and weather-worn, blocked the doorway,
glancing now at the two young women and now at the slave girls cowering
in the background.

"Come with me!" Hiram said quietly, stretching his strong hand toward
Artemisia.

She made an uncertain step toward him, but Thais caught her by the arm
and drew her back.

"What do you mean by this mummery?" she cried, with blazing eyes.  "Get
thee gone and tell thy God that Artemisia is not for him!"

"Chafe not, daughter," Hiram replied calmly.  "The will of Baal must be
obeyed.  There can be no escape."

"You shall not have her!" Thais cried.  "Your creed demands a willing
sacrifice!"

"And she is willing," the priest said, in the same even tone.

"She is not!" Thais said.

"Follow me!" Hiram exclaimed, slightly raising his voice.

Artemisia made a feeble effort to obey, and Thais felt the arm that she
held draw away from her grasp.

"Sorcerer!" she cried desperately, retaining her hold, "she is not
willing of her own will.  Release her from thy spell!"

"She is willing," Hiram repeated, "and thou shalt see her place herself
voluntarily in the hands of the Giver of Life."

He made a slight sign, and the three priests who followed him stepped
forward.  One of them twisted Thais' hand from Artemisia's arm,
retaining her wrist in his clutch, while another seized her on the
opposite side, rendering her helpless.  The third took Artemisia gently
by the hand.  She offered no resistance, but suffered herself to be led
down the marble stairs with wide-open eyes that seemed to see nothing.
Thais followed between her captors.  Her face was pale to the lips, and
yellow flames danced in her eyes.

"Priest of Baal!" she said, "thou hast shown no mercy and none shalt
thou receive--neither thou nor thy God!"

"Blaspheme not," Hiram said; "the vengeance of our Lord is bitter."

"More bitter still shall be the vengeance of men," Thais exclaimed in
her despair, "and they are now beating at the walls who shall make thee
feel it!"

Hiram made no reply.  If he felt a misgiving, his face did not betray
it.  He led the way with measured tread down the staircase, followed by
his two captives and by the guard.

"Artemisia!" Thais cried in anguish, "speak to me!"

Artemisia made no response, nor did she turn her head.  It was evident
that she had not heard.  Laying aside her pride, Thais determined to
make a final effort.  When they reached the deserted entrance hall, she
raised her voice.

"Phradates!  Phradates!" she cried.  "Save us from these men!"

Her cry echoed through the recesses of the hall, but it brought no
response.

"Phradates!" Thais called again as the outer doors swung back,
revealing the wind-swept street.

This time a figure emerged from the marble columns.  It was that of
Mena the Egyptian, who advanced with a malicious smile upon his sharp
face.

"My master is upon the walls," he said impudently, though he bowed low.
"He is fighting to save the city from your friends."

Something of the suppressed triumph in his bearing struck the attention
of Thais, agitated as she was.

"Is this thy work?" she demanded, looking at him between narrowing
eyelids.  "Thou shalt pay for it, slave, upon the cross, to the last
drop of thy blood!"

"Thou dost me too much honor," Mena replied, bowing again in mock
humility.

"Come," said one of Thais' captors, roughly.  "Baal must not be kept
waiting."

The slanting rain smote their faces as they emerged into the street,
where throngs of men and women were crowding toward the Temple of
Moloch.  On this side, as yet, nothing could be seen of the fierce
conflict that was raging for the possession of the children in the
Hebrew quarter.  The sounds of it were lost in the rushing of the wind
and the crashing of the thunder.

The people of Tyre hastened forward in silence and with bowed heads.  A
nameless dread possessed them.  Amid the confusion wrought by man and
the elements, friends and neighbors touched shoulders without a glance
of recognition.  A weight of oppression seemed to dull their minds and
restrict their lungs.  They were like creatures that listen furtively
in hidden terror to catch the forewarning of some catastrophe, the
nature of which they know not.  All bonds were dissolved.  Husbands
became separated from their wives in the press and made no attempt to
rejoin them.

Even the priests of Moloch who followed Hiram were affected by the
universal uneasiness, and Thais felt the hands that clasped her wrists
tremble.  Hiram himself walked gravely and slowly, apparently oblivious
of what was going on about him.  He seemed indifferent alike to the
pelting of the storm and the danger from falling stones.  A mass of
rock plunged into the crowd close before him, crushing a man beneath
its ponderous weight.  The step of the pontiff did not waver, and he
passed the spot without so much as a glance at the mangled body pinned
down by the missile.  His consciousness of the protection of Moloch
freed him from all sense of personal danger.

The people made way for him in silence, huddling to the sides of the
street and closing in after the soldiers had passed.  Artemisia walked
with her eyes upon the sombre figure that strode before her.  Her face
was as colorless as the linen chiton that clung to her figure in the
rain, disclosing the maidenly outline of her bosom.  Her breathing was
even and regular, as though she were sleeping with open eyes.

Anger raged in Thais' breast as in that of a lioness, bound with
chains, which sees her cubs taken from her.  She knew the hopelessness
of struggling with her captors, for even if she could free herself, she
would still be powerless to rescue Artemisia.

Around the gloomy temple stood thousands of men and women, mournfully
and silently waiting in the rain for the procession to enter.  The
great bronze doors stood open, revealing the dark interior of the
building, where a few torches cast a flickering light upon the face of
the monstrous idol, whose cruel features seemed to be twisting
themselves with hideous grimaces.

Streamers of pale blue smoke were drawn through the apertures over the
head of the image by the wind, and the inside of the temple was filled
with a smoky haze that increased the obscurity.  This came from the
fire of scented wood that the priests had kindled in the body of the
idol.  They fed it continually from behind; and the faint smoke, rising
from carefully disposed openings in the breast and shoulders of the
figure, partially veiling its face, added to the mystery and solemnity
of the ceremony.

As Hiram approached the entrance, two lines of black-robed priests
issued silently to right and left, pushing back the crowd and forming a
lane which led up the two flights of shallow stone steps to the
doorway.  The spectators reverently bowed their heads.  Their faith in
the power of Baal, bred in them from infancy, was strong upon them, and
deep was their fear of his wrath.  Many times had he listened to their
prayers, and more than once had he refused to listen, permitting the
calamity that they besought him to avert.  But never since he had
become their God, at a time beyond the limit of tradition, had they
gone to him in such dreadful extremity.  Would he intervene, or would
he leave them to their fate?

All eyes were turned to the impassive face of Hiram, searching there
for an answer to the question that was in every mind.  The chief priest
gave no sign.  He paced slowly into the open space between the ranks of
the priests, his black vestments fluttering about him in voluminous
folds.  His eyes looked straight forward into the temple, seeking the
face of Baal.  In his footsteps walked Artemisia, her head now drooping
slightly, like a flower cut from its stem.  The priests began a slow
chant, so low that its words of praise could hardly be understood.

Halfway up the second flight of steps, behind the row of priests,
Pethuel appeared in the crowd.  He had managed somehow to reach the
temple in advance of his flock.  The rain glistened upon his white hair
and snowy beard.  Pressing forward as Hiram advanced, he raised his
voice above the mystic words of the chant.

"Priest of Baal!" he cried to his rival, "thy God is fled!  Behold, his
image shall be broken in thy temple.  The wrath of the Lord God of
Hosts is upon you; for the cup of Tyre's iniquities runneth over!"

He ceased and a murmur ran through the crowd; but no hand was raised
against the old man.  The priests looked at Hiram, who passed on
without so much as turning his eyes, and they continued their chant.
Not even when the brother who walked beside Artemisia was struck down
by an arrow on the threshold of the temple did Hiram pause.  The shaft,
falling obliquely, buried itself between its victim's shoulders, and he
fell upon his face in his death agony.  His comrades lifted him quickly
and bore him out of sight; but the people continued to gaze at the
stain of blood upon the stones where he had fallen.

As Artemisia and Thais vanished in the doorway, the sounds of conflict
caused by the rising of the Hebrews reached the temple.

"It is Alexander!" said one to another in the crowd, and because of the
words of Pethuel, the cry was more easily believed.  Panic seized upon
the multitude.  Thousands of those who had assembled fled back to their
homes.  Others ran toward the royal palace, and still others sought the
harbors.  Scores found refuge in the temple, fighting with each other
to enter first through the wide doorway.  The dread that had weighed
them down had taken shape.  The evil was upon them.



CHAPTER XLVI

THE PASSING OF A GOD

Inside the Temple of Baal-Moloch the chant of the priests swelled to a
triumphant hymn of praise.  The throbbing of drums and the droning of
strange musical instruments increased the volume of sound.  It drowned
the uproar of the conflict between the guards and the Israelites, who
had reached the gardens of the temple, and it rose above the wailing of
the infants destined for the sacrifice.  The children were held by the
priests, who formed in a deep semicircle before the idol.  The throng
of devotees filled the body of the temple beyond their line and the dim
reaches of the arcades behind the rows of columns.

The pungent smell of smoke from the sacrificial fire was mingled with
the odor of incense that floated from censors swung by neophytes clad
in robes of scarlet.

Amid the crowd that burst into the temple in such numbers as to forbid
all semblance of the usual ceremonial order, rose the image of the
Giver of Life and its Destroyer, gigantic and terrible.  Its broad
breast glowed dull red, and a spurt of flame issued from its sneering
lips like a fiery tongue.  The terror that had driven the people into
the temple gave way to awe when they found themselves in the presence
of the God.  Many of the votaries fell upon their faces before the
colossal figure; others stretched their hands toward it in an agony of
supplication.  Sharp cries pierced the maddening pulsations of the
music.  The gusts of the storm, entering through the opening in the
temple roof, drove the smoke in eddies through the obscurity.

Hiram walked straight to the idol and prostrated himself upon the
lowest of the steps that rose to the platform on which it stood.  He
remained for a moment in silent prayer, and then, rising, he stretched
forth his arms and repeated the ancient formula that always preceded
the sacrifice, calling upon the God by the numerous titles that
signified his manifold attributes.

Artemisia stood behind him, within the half-circle of priests who held
back the eager crowd.  Her white garments gleamed pure and spotless
against the background of their sombre official robes.  Her head was
slightly bowed, and her hands were clasped lightly before her.  She
seemed utterly oblivious of her surroundings and the terrible fate that
awaited her.  Thais, firmly held by the priests who had brought her to
the temple, was stationed by her captors on the left hand of Baal, in a
position that prevented her eyes from meeting Artemisia's gaze.  The
angry color had faded from her cheeks.  She realized at last that
Artemisia was lost and that she herself must endure the agony of seeing
her perish.  Her face had grown haggard and drawn.

"Spare her, priest of Moloch!" she cried desperately, as Hiram ended
his invocation.  "Her death cannot save thy city.  Give her back to me,
and I promise thee thy safety and the safety of thy order.  If thou
needs must sacrifice a woman, let me be the victim.  I am fairer than
she, and I will be more acceptable to thy God.  See, I beg her life at
thy hands!"

She would have thrown herself upon her knees, but the priests
restrained her.  Hiram made no reply and paid no heed to her appeal.
Ascending the steps with a firm tread, he stood between the feet of the
idol and turned to the multitude, extending his hands over Artemisia's
head with the palms downward.  The chant ceased and the music died
away.  Only the frightened sobbing of the infants, whom the assistants
sought in vain to quiet, broke the silence within the temple.  Hiram
began to speak in a solemn and impressive voice.

"We bring thee, O Lord, a maiden, pure in heart," he said.  "We have
sinned against thee in our pride; upon her head we place our sins; take
thou her and forgive!"

He paused, and a wailing cry of supplication rose throughout the temple.

"We have neglected thy worship," Hiram went on.  "Upon her head be our
neglect; take her and forgive!  We have done those things that are
forbidden; upon her head be our disobedience to thy law; take her and
accept our atonement!  We have disregarded our oaths; upon her head be
our perfidy; receive her in quittance of our debt to thee.  Pardon us,
O Lord, in this our sacrifice to thee, all our many sins against thee,
and protect us out of thy mercy in this hour of our great peril!"

At the conclusion of the recital, he turned again to the God.  The arms
of the idol slowly sank and extended themselves until the outstretched
palms were brought together before the iron knees a few feet from the
floor.

"Artemisia!" the chief priest called imperatively.

With faltering steps she obeyed his command, advancing slowly until she
stood before the broad palms that seemed to tremble with impatience to
clasp her form.  In the deadly hush of expectancy, the fierce cries of
the Israelites, struggling with the soldiers outside the temple, could
be distinctly heard.  Hiram saw that haste was necessary if the
sacrifice was to be accomplished.

"Dost thou give thyself willingly for the sins of Tyre?" he demanded,
confident of his power.

Before she could answer a shriek rang through the temple.

"Deny him, Artemisia, my sister!" Thais cried.  "He is a sorcerer.  Do
not--"

Her voice was roughly stifled by the priests, her captors, but a
questioning murmur rose from the crowd.

"Answer!" Hiram said sternly, bending all the strength of his merciless
will upon her.

"Artemisia!  Do not answer!" cried another voice.  It was the voice of
a man, and it rang strong and clear, though it vibrated with anxiety.
It seemed to issue from the dark recesses behind the idol.  A stir of
astonishment broke the spell that had imposed silence upon the
worshippers.  Every eye strove to pierce the gloom of the sanctuary.
Hiram started, and his pallid face grew a shade paler.

"Artemisia!" came the clear voice again.  "Dost thou not hear me?"

Artemisia's eyes left those of the chief priest and looked beyond him
eagerly into the darkness.  The mask of impassiveness faded from her
face.  Her lips parted.

"Clearchus!" she cried.  "Where art thou?  Save me!  Save me!"

She threw up her arms with a despairing gesture, and sank upon the
platform beneath the terrible hands that were stretched to seize her.

"Alexander!  Alexander!" shouted Chares out of the darkness.  "Down
with the dogs!"

The words were followed by a cry of mortal agony from one of the
priests whose duty it was to feed the fire that roared inside the idol.
The Tyrians heard the sound of a brief commotion in the rear of the
temple, they saw the gleam of armor and of weapons, and the dark
hangings that veiled the innermost shrine were rent from the walls.
Armed men rushed across the platform and leaped down among the priests,
hewing at the holy ministers with flashing swords.

In the obscurity, the Tyrians fancied that an entire company of
Macedonians was upon them.  Those who had sought refuge there from the
Hebrew mob forgot the dangers that awaited them outside and surged
toward the entrance.  But the Israelites had scattered the soldiers in
the gardens, and they charged the doors just as the assemblage
attempted to force its way out.  The fugitives from the terrors of the
temple were struck down in heaps upon the threshold.

Hiram alone retained his presence of mind.  He had implicit faith in
the power of the terrible deity, in whose service he had spent the
greater part of his life, and absolute confidence in the efficacy of
sacrifice.  When he saw Artemisia fall and heard Chares' battle-cry, he
knew that all was lost unless the offering could be consummated.

Unmindful of his own danger, he bounded forward and raised the slim,
unconscious form in his arms.  Quickly he laid it upon the iron palms,
with a muttered prayer.  There was a sound of creaking chains, and the
hands ascended slowly, bearing upward the slender figure.  One bare,
white arm hung inertly between the iron fingers, and the snowy chiton
shone through the smoke against the dark bulk of the monstrous image.

Clearchus sprang out of the darkness and saw Artemisia raised aloft in
that pitiless grasp.  She was already beyond his reach.  A cold sweat
broke out upon his body.  He stood for an instant transfixed with
dread, unable even to cry out.  Every heart-beat brought her nearer to
that glowing metal surface, whose terrible heat he could feel upon his
face where he stood.

Hiram stepped forward to the edge of the platform and stretched out his
arms.  The glare of religious madness shone in his eyes.

"Peace, peace!" he cried to the struggling and shrieking mob, frantic
with fear.  "Baal-Moloch accepts the sacrifice.  Peace!  Profane not
his temple!"

His voice was drowned in a crash of thunder that seemed to rend the sky
across from mountain to sea.  Before it died, a huge mass of rock,
hurled from an engine of the Macedonian fleet, crashed through one of
the openings in the dome of the temple.  The ponderous missile struck
the masonry and bounded backward and downward in a shower of dislodged
stones upon the inclined head of the idol.

Moloch seemed to rise from his throne, as though about to stride from
the platform.  His iron arms flew apart, and the grim colossus lurched
forward down the steps, and fell with a clang of metal upon the marble
floor.

A sharp cry rose from the struggling crowd.  Those who witnessed the
downfall of the sacred image stood in doubt, unable to believe their
eyes.  The Israelites, unaware of what had happened, took advantage of
the moment to overcome the slight opposition of the Tyrians who still
faced them.  They rushed into the temple, crying aloud for the
restoration of their children.

In the wild confusion of their onslaught, many of the infants were
trampled to death.  Others were killed by the priests, who seemed
crazed by the fall of their idol.  At first they stood stupefied.
Hiram's voice was no longer heard.  They called upon him in vain.
Finally one of them ran to the fragments of the prostrate image.
Bending above it, he saw the distorted face of the chief priest gazing
up into his own.  The unfortunate man had been caught beneath the
breast of the God to whom he had offered so many innocents, and his
crushed body was being slowly roasted under the red-hot metal.

"Moloch has taken him!" the priest shouted, tossing his arms in the air.

He ran into the crowd, and, seizing one of the infants by the heels,
dashed out its brains against a pillar.  His example was followed by
others no less frantic than himself.

"Strike, brothers!" he cried.  "Baal has fallen!  The end is at--"

Before he could finish the sentence, Leonidas' sword pierced his
throat, and he fell upon the body of the child that he had slain.

Down the dim arcade, behind the pillars, strode the Spartan and Chares,
hacking and thrusting at the black-robed minions of Moloch.  They
showed no mercy.  Neither prayer nor entreaty availed.  They sought the
priests through the terrified crowd, and dragged them from every place
of concealment, until of all who had been in the temple not one
remained alive.

With the crash of the stone as it smote the idol, Clearchus realized
what had happened.  He saw the iron arms drop, and he leaped forward in
time to snatch Artemisia from their embrace.  The hot iron grazed his
body as the image fell.  Artemisia's pale, sweet face lay upon his
shoulder, and he clasped her close to his breast.  In the revulsion
from his despair he felt his muscles endowed with strength.

He smiled to see his friends dash past him, and he looked smilingly
upon the clamorous crowd in which every man fought for his life.  One
of the priests, whose face had been gashed to the bone, rushed upon
him, with hands extended, and tried to tear Artemisia from his arms.
The man was unarmed, and Clearchus thrust him through the breast.  He
sank and died without a moan.

Amid the fragments of Moloch's image, the fire that had been kindled in
the iron bosom flickered with blue and crimson tongues of flame.

Suddenly the crowd was split by a rush from the great doorway, and
Clearchus saw Nathan leading the Israelites into the temple.  With the
name of Jehovah upon their lips, the swarthy, black-eyed Hebrews poured
in, smiting the Tyrians and beating them down with merciless strokes in
the delirium of their exaltation.  They swept through the temple like
wolves through a sheepfold.  The floor was heaped with the dead, and
the stones were slippery with blood.  Nathan recognized the Athenian
and sprang to his side, shouting to his followers to strike and spare
not.

Into the midst of the confusion rushed the Hebrew women, seeking the
children who had been taken from them.  The uproar of conflict gave way
to the lamentations of mothers whose infants had been slaughtered.
Others, more fortunate, sat with their babes in their arms, kissing
them and feeling them over to discover whether they had been hurt.  One
young wife sat upon the steps at Clearchus' feet with her first-born
and only child.  Nathan recognized her as the woman who had been struck
down by the priest in the market-place.  The baby had been strangled
and was dead.

"Hush!" she said, in a crooning voice, and, covering the child's head
with her garment, she pressed its lips to her breast.  For an instant
she sat there, but the chill of the waxen mouth struck through her
heart.  She gave a startled glance at the baby's face, and then sprang
up with a scream of despair and rushed out of the temple into the
tempest, with the poor little body clasped in her arms.

Nathan called to Chares and Leonidas.  "Alexander is on the wall," he
said.  "The streets are filled with the Tyrians.  We must escape as we
came.  Listen!"

He held up his hand, and the Greeks became aware of a dull roaring that
filled the city like the humming of a gigantic hive of bees.

"Even here we shall not be safe," Nathan continued.  "Let us seek the
secret passage."

"Chares!" cried one from among the women, and Thais ran forward, with
her saffron robe torn so that half her perfect breast was exposed.  She
carried a dagger in her hand, and its blade was red; but her face shone
with joy.  The weapon fell from her grasp as she sprang to the Theban,
who lifted her like a child in his arms and kissed her.

"Come," he said, as he set her down, "let us go."

Turning their backs upon the throng of the living and the dead, they
descended into the secret passage and closed the entrance behind them.



CHAPTER XLVII

SYPHAX SQUARES HIS ACCOUNT

King Azemilcus stood at a window of his chamber, with the aged
chancellor at his side, looking out across the parapet of the wall.
They were alone in the room, for the king had ordered his guard to
await his commands in an outer apartment.  The window opened directly
upon the top of the wall, to which the royal palace was joined.  Often
during his long reign had the old king stood there, revolving his
schemes in his cunning brain, while the salt breeze cooled his temples.

Beneath his feet the stones trembled with the shock of the great
battering rams that were enlarging the breach in the wall west of the
palace.  In his ears sounded the tumult of the attack upon the two
harbors, where the Macedonian triremes were seeking to break the
barriers of chains.  He saw the Tyrian soldiers upon the battlements,
fighting against hope, with the valor of desperation.

The roar of falling masonry told him that the rams had done their work.
The breach had become a wide gap, extending beyond the ends of the
inner wall that had been built to block the assault.  The vessels lying
in wait drew nearer.  Flights of arrows and volleys of stones, great
and small, swept the defences.  Troop-ships, provided with drawbridges
at their prows, closed in at the breach.  The bridges fell, and streams
of men in armor began to flow across them.  They gained the breach and
held it.  They scaled the slope of fallen blocks and reached the top of
the wall.  The Tyrians were forced backward or hurled into the sea.

"That must be Alexander," the king remarked, noting the irresistible
vigor of the assault.

"Yes," the chancellor replied, "those are his plumes."

Alexander indeed was leading the charge along the wall toward the
palace, fighting in the forefront as his custom was, while the
shield-bearing guards pressed forward where he led.  Their triumphant
voices shouted his name.  At one of the towers upon the wall, between
the breach and the palace, the Tyrians made a stand, seeking to check
the advance of their foes.  The Macedonians hunted them out and drove
them to the next tower.  The battle raged in mid-air, and the bodies of
the slain fell either into the sea on one side or into the streets of
the city on the other.

"They will enter here," Azemilcus said.  "I think it is time to go."

"It is time!" the chancellor echoed, gazing upon the slaughter like a
man under the spell of a horrible fascination.

The king led the way into the large hall where the guard was stationed.
It consisted of a company of a hundred men under the command of a young
captain whose bronzed face and steady gaze showed that he was a veteran
in service despite his youth.  He had been pacing backward and forward
before his men, who stood at attention along the wall.  At sight of
Azemilcus he paused and saluted.  The old king placed a thin hand upon
his shoulder.

"I am going to the Temple of Melkarth," he said.  "Escort me thither."

The young man shook off the royal hand as though he felt contaminated
by its touch.

"Does your Majesty really mean to seek refuge with the Alexandrine?" he
asked indignantly.

"Yes," the king replied, "and I command you to come with me."

"Then I refuse!" the soldier exclaimed.  "I have two brothers yonder on
the wall, if they be still alive.  The Macedonians will try to enter
the palace, and if they succeed, the city is lost.  Go you to
Melkarth's temple if you will; but you go alone.  We remain here."

Azemilcus looked at the handsome face, flushed with anger, and his
inscrutable smile played about his lips.

"Thy father was my friend, and I have loved thee," he said.  "I would
save thee if I could, but youth is hot and hasty; have thy will if thou
must."

He began to descend the broad staircase, followed by the trembling
chancellor.

"There goes Tyre!" the young captain cried bitterly, "selfish and
treacherous to the last.  To the windows!  We may yet save him
honorably, though he does not deserve it."

They reached the seaward side of the palace in time to receive the
remnants of the Tyrian companies that had vainly striven to defend the
wall.  The captain's brothers were not among the fugitives.

It had seemed to the young officer that the entrances to the palace
from the wall might be held by a few men against any force that could
be brought up; but it was not within human power to resist the onrush
of the Macedonians.  The captain was slain by Ptolemy; half his men
fell with him, and the others fled down through the palace to the
streets with the Macedonians at their heels.

The noise of the battle spread from the palace through the city.  There
was the clash of steel and the hoarse shouting of men at barricades;
screams of women in fear and sharp cries of command mingled with the
trampling of many feet.  Save for the obstinate guard, the palace had
been left unprotected by the crafty old king, who was awaiting his
conqueror in the sanctuary of Melkarth's temple.  Alexander led the way
into the city with Hephæstion and Philotas.  Ptolemy, Perdiccas,
Clitus, Peithon, Glaucias, Meleager, Polysperchon, and a score more of
his Companions and captains swept after him, heading the scarred
veterans of Philip's wars,--phalangites, archers and javelin throwers,
Thessalian cavalry riders, and heavy-armed mercenaries.

Then in the city of Tyre, whose name for centuries had been a synonym
for power and pride, began a slaughter which lasted until nightfall.
Alexander ordered that the Israelites should not be molested and that
none should enter with violence the Temple of Melkarth; but he did not
seek to forbid his followers from taking revenge for the rigors and
hardships of the long siege.

At first the Tyrians fought desperately from street to street and from
square to square, falling back from one barrier to another; but this
resistance served only to whet the rage that drove the Macedonians on.
Fresh troops constantly landed from the fleet and poured in through the
palace.  The breach in the wall became a gateway.  The pitiless
squadrons hunted the defenders from lane and housetop, cutting them to
pieces.

In the Sidonian Harbor, seven ships were hastily manned, the chains
were let down, and the crews made a dash for the open sea.  They were
snapped up by the Cretan vessels which lay in wait beyond the
breakwater.  Three of them were sunk, and the rest were forced to
surrender.

In the house of Phradates the terrified slaves locked and barred the
doors by direction of Mena.  The master was fighting on the walls.
More than once parties of Macedonian soldiers demanded that the gates
be opened, but when no response was given, thinking perhaps that the
house was deserted and tempted by easier spoil, they passed on.  At
last came a Tyrian cry for admittance.  Mena looked from the wicket and
saw Phradates, supported by two soldiers.  His face was pale and his
helmet had been shattered.

"Open!" cried the soldiers.  "Your master has been wounded."

Several of the slaves started forward and laid their hands upon the
bars, but the Egyptian pushed them back.

"There is no longer master or slave in Tyre," he said.  "Each man must
think first of himself."

At the suggestion of Phradates the soldiers bore him to the rear of the
house, where there was a small door leading to the kitchens.  It was
opened by a white-haired crone, whose eyes were blinded with tears.

"Bring him in," she cried.  "I am his nurse."

"Take him, then," the soldiers said roughly, irritated by the delay.
"He owes us fifty darics for bringing him off, and we have our own to
save."

Upheld by the trembling arms of the old woman, Phradates staggered
across the threshold.  He could no longer feel the earth beneath his
feet.  If he could only rest a little!

"Is it you, mother?" he asked faintly.  "I must sleep."

"Yes, yes, master," the old woman replied through her sobs, "but not
here.  Come to your own chamber."

She tried to urge him toward the banqueting hall, but his steps grew
more uncertain and his weight became too great for her feeble strength.

"Mena!" she called.  "Mena, here is your master.  Come and help him!"

The Egyptian ran in furiously and closed the door that she had left
open in her anxiety.

"Do you want to have us all killed?" he demanded, turning upon the old
woman.  "Take that, my master, for the beatings you have given me!"

He plunged his dagger into the young man's defenceless side, and
Phradates sank to the floor.

"Thais!" he muttered, "where art thou?"

The old woman uttered a quivering cry and fell upon her knees beside
him, trying with her robe to stop the flow of blood.  Mena ran back to
the front of the house, leaving her alone with the body.

"Speak to me!  Speak to me!" she wailed, not knowing what she said; but
Phradates made no reply.

Tyre was in a turmoil of riot and license.  The real fighting was at an
end, but the soldiers were everywhere pillaging and drinking.  Costly
fabrics were trampled in the mud of the gutters.  Rare vases and
priceless statuary were shattered upon the pavements.  Rough
Thessalians ransacked the houses of rich merchants for gold and gems,
destroying with laughter and jests what they did not want.  The stifled
screams of women mingled with their voices.  Here a soldier emerged
from a great house with his arms full of rich silks.  Another shouted
to him that a hoard of gold had been discovered close at hand, and he
straightway dropped his burden that he might get his share of the more
convenient plunder.  There a man who had found a huge tusk of ivory
tried to carry it away on his shoulder, while his comrades wrestled
with him for it, uttering shouts of laughter as their fingers slipped
upon its polished surface.  Sometimes swords were drawn and blood
flowed over a bag of gold or a necklace of pearls.  Bands of
mercenaries paraded with wine-skins on their backs, singing the hymns
of Dionysus and squirting the precious vintage into each other's faces.
Gorged with blood, the army glutted itself in a delirium of indulgence.

In the universal license the baser elements of the city's population
joined in the pillage with none to hinder, for the Macedonians were too
intent upon their revenge to heed them.  Like Mena, slaves rose against
their masters, and entire families were slain for the sake of plunder
or to requite harsh treatment.  The prisons were broken open and their
inmates set at liberty.  The sailors about the harbors, who had been
kept inactive by the blockade of the fleet, desperate men from all
quarters of the sea, satisfied their ferocious appetites at will.  In
the frenzied carnival of lust and slaughter, neither age nor innocence
was spared.

The swirl of the battle drew Syphax and his companions from their
haunts among the great warehouses near the waterside, where they had
been drinking.  The bloated face of the freebooter grew purple with
eagerness as he heard the sounds of conflict and of panic spread
through the city.

"Ho, comrades!" he shouted, "to-day we pay ourselves for all we have
had to endure from Fortune!  The spoil lies ready for us."

"Break open the warehouses and load a ship with ivory and silk," cried
one of his followers.

"You are a fool," Syphax replied contemptuously.  "We should be sunk
before we could get out of the harbor.  Take nothing but gold and
jewels.  We can hide them until the time comes to escape.  Look there!"

An old man, a member of the council, came running toward them, glancing
back over his shoulder to see if he was being pursued.  Syphax grasped
him by the arm and tore the heavy golden chain of office from his neck.
The man made no resistance, but fled away without a word as soon as he
was released.

"This is what we want," Syphax cried, holding up the shining links.
"Be bold and follow me."

He set off toward a part of the city that the Macedonians seemed not
yet to have penetrated.  It was a quarter where many wealthy houses
stood, and the sailors were fortunate enough to arrive among the first
of the marauders.  In half an hour, each of them had collected a
fortune in gold and precious stones.  There was blood upon the hands of
Syphax and one of his men had a cut across his forehead when they came
out of the last house, carrying their spoil in small, heavy bundles.
The city was in its death-throes.  From harbor to harbor it had become
a vast shambles.

"Let us get back to the warehouses and bury what we have," one of the
seamen said.

Syphax looked about him, and his glance fell upon the house where he
had seen Ariston enter.  In their immediate vicinity there was yet no
sign of the enemy.  A cruel gleam entered the pirate's bloodshot eyes.

"Now that we are rich," he cried, "it is no more than fair that we
should pay our debts.  I have one yonder that must be discharged, and
to you I resign my share of whatever of value we may find inside."

"Lead on, then, but hasten," the sailors answered.

Syphax found the door bolted, as he had expected.  His men battered it
in with stones and rushed into the entrance hall.  The place seemed
deserted.  The sailors scattered through the house in search of booty,
but Syphax sought only his enemy.

The terrified family had taken refuge in an alcove on the third floor
of the house.  There one of the sailors found them and summoned his
chief with a joyful shout.  Ariston and his host stood at the entrance
of the recess, with swords in their hands to defend the women, a mother
and three daughters, who cowered behind them in the shadow with two
slave girls only, the rest of the household having fled.  The sailors
laughed at the two feeble old men who dared to oppose them.

"Spare our lives and you shall each receive five thousand talents of
gold," Ariston cried.  "I am Ariston of Athens, and I pledge myself to
the payment."

"We know what the pledges of Ariston are worth!" Syphax replied, his
face convulsed with hate and rage.

"We are lost, my friend," Ariston said, in a low voice, to his host,
recognizing the pirate.

"You bade me once to remember Medon," Syphax bellowed.  "I bid thee now
to remember him and the silver talent thou wert to give me for what was
done in Athens.  I have had no luck since; and now thou shalt pay for
all!"  He rushed upon Ariston, who tried to defend himself; but the
pirate easily disarmed him and dragged him out into the room.  The
master of the house fell beneath a shower of blows.

"Now for the harbor!  Our time is short," Syphax shouted, hurrying
Ariston with him down the stairs.

The screaming and prayers of the women mingled with sounds of brutal
merriment told him that his order was unheeded.

"Do you hear?" he roared.  "Come, I tell you, before it is too late!"

This time two of the wretches obeyed him, bursting from the room with
loud guffaws.  The others straggled after them, but several minutes
elapsed before they were all assembled for the sally.

"Why not do it here?" one of the sailors asked, indicating Ariston,
whose arm Syphax held in a firm grasp.

"Because I intend to make him remember Medon," the freebooter answered
savagely.  "You shall see sport when we reach the harbor."

A cold sweat covered Ariston's forehead, but he made no sound.  His ear
had caught the trampling of feet, and he hoped yet for rescue.

The sailors emerged into the street and turned toward the harbor.  Just
as they reached the first corner, a company of Thessalians, in pursuit
of a few Tyrian fugitives, ran into them.  No questions were asked.
The swords of the cavalrymen were already out, and they drove them into
the bodies of the men who were unfortunate enough to block their way.

Syphax alone had time to drop his booty and draw his sword.  He saw
that there was no escape.

"Thou hast been my evil genius," he cried to Ariston, "but at any rate
thou shalt go with me to the Styx."

He plunged his sword into the old man's side.  Before he could withdraw
it, a Thessalian blade cleft his skull.  Murderer and victim fell
together.

The storm had blown over.  The sinking sun shone crimson upon the
twisted clouds far across the sky.  In the quarter where the Israelites
dwelt, amid the mourning and rejoicing, Pethuel, the high priest,
raised his hands to heaven.

"Give thanks to Jehovah!" he cried.  "Our enemies have fallen and they
that mocked Him are no more!  Blessed be the name of the Lord!"



CHAPTER XLVIII

THAIS GIVES A FEAST

Down in the secret passage the fugitives from the Temple of Moloch
could hear no sound of the battle.  Leonidas had snatched one of the
perfumed censers from the hand of a quaking neophyte, and this shed a
glimmer of light as he led the way.

Artemisia came to her senses to find herself clasped in her lover's
arms.

"Clearchus!" she murmured, "may the Gods grant that this be not a
dream."

"It is no dream, my beloved!" the young man answered.  "I have found
thee at last."

"Dear heart, I have longed for thee so!" she said, with a little sigh
of content, as her arms stole around his neck.

Clearchus bent his head, and their lips met in the darkness.  Thais
heard the murmur of their voices.

"Oh, I have lost my sandal--and I am cold!" she exclaimed, in a tone of
distress.  "Chares, I am afraid you will have to carry me."

"You are so heavy," the Theban said, taking her in his arms.

"There, be careful, sir, or I shall make you set me down again," she
cried.

Leonidas uttered a sound that was something between a snort and a grunt
and signified disdain, whereupon Chares laughed until the narrow
passage rang.

Before they reached the palace it was in full possession of the
Macedonians.  They entered the room where the young men had left
Azemilcus the night before, and found a portion of the squadron
belonging to Leonidas busily searching there for plunder.  The men
stood open-mouthed when their captain appeared from behind the
hangings.  They looked like schoolboys caught in a forbidden frolic.

"Where is the king?" the Spartan demanded sternly.

"He is fighting down there," one of the soldiers replied, pointing from
the window.

Leonidas glanced down upon the city and saw the conflict raging in the
streets.

"Then what are you doing here?" he asked harshly.  "Fall in!"

"I will go with you," Nathan said.  "I must seek my people."

"You will find us here when you come back," Chares cried after them.
"We will fight no more to-day."

Leonidas overtook Alexander stamping out the last sparks of resistance
in the northern part of the city.  The young king, still glowing with
the ardor of battle, greeted him with a smile.

"Are Clearchus and Chares safe?" he asked.

"They await you in the royal palace with Artemisia and Thais," the
Spartan replied.

"Good!" Alexander cried.  "This will have to be celebrated.  Let us see
what has become of Azemilcus."

He led the way to the Temple of Melkarth, which was filled with
fugitives and suppliants.  The general feeling in the city that the God
was on the side of the Macedonians had led many to seek his protection
when no other remained.  Some of them were even striving to remove the
chains with which the image had been bound to the pillars.

Azemilcus and the chancellor came forward, surrounded by the priests of
the temple.  The two kings, one withered and shrunken and old, his
brain cankered by the cynical knowledge of experience, and the other,
in the fulness of his vigorous youth and generous enthusiasms, looked
into each other's eyes.  Alexander's face was grave and stern, but the
mocking smile still hovered about the lips of the older man.

"What have you to say?" Alexander said at last.

"I have been a king," Azemilcus replied, "but I am a king no longer.
What is your will?"

"You may live," Alexander replied coldly, "but you have never been a
king.  Where is your son?"

"He is dead," the old king answered, and his eyes wavered.

"I would rather be in his place than in thine," Alexander said shortly.
"Follow me."

Azemilcus shrugged his shoulders and gathered his robe more closely
around him.  To all who had sought refuge in the temple Alexander
granted safety, and then, having issued the necessary orders regarding
the city, he turned back to the palace.

The streets were encumbered with the dead.  The bodies lay in heaps
behind the broken barricades or scattered between them, where the
fugitives had been stricken as they fled before the fury of the
Macedonian charge.  A wounded Tyrian raised himself on his elbow while
the two kings passed, cursed Azemilcus, and died.

In the council room of the palace Alexander demanded from the
chancellor an accounting of the public treasure of Tyre, an enormous
sum in gold and silver, and gave it into the custody of his own
treasurer.  There, too, he received the reports of his captains, and
with marvellous quickness despatched the business that they brought
before him.  The greater part of the army he ordered back to the camp
on the mainland.

When nothing more remained to be done, he turned to Leonidas.

"Where are thy friends?" he asked.  "They seem to have forgotten me."

"I will fetch them," the Spartan replied.

He ran to the apartment where he had left the lovers, and burst in, to
find them nestled among the cushions, telling each other of all they
had endured.

"Come," he cried.  "The king has asked for you."

"Tell him that we will come presently," Chares said, but Thais promptly
boxed his ears and slipped out of the arm that encircled her waist.

"I don't suppose there is a woman in the palace to smooth my hair," she
exclaimed.

"Do you think Alexander will look at you?" Chares asked.  "He has more
important things to think about, indeed."

Nevertheless, Artemisia and Thais made Leonidas wait five minutes while
they aided each other to make the best appearance possible under the
circumstances, before they followed him to the great council chamber.
Artemisia entered shyly, casting down her eyes before the bold glances
of so many men; but Thais walked beside Chares with head erect, her red
lips parted in a smile, and a gleam of excitement dancing in her eyes.

With the license that Alexander permitted, the captains raised a shout
of welcome when Chares and Clearchus appeared.  Before Artemisia could
catch her breath, she was standing in front of Alexander, and Clearchus
was presenting her to him.

"She looks like a rosebud when the dew is on it," Clitus whispered to
Hephæstion.

"Don't be sentimental," the favorite answered.  "When did you become a
poet?"

"Not until this minute," Clitus replied.

Alexander himself was not free from embarrassment when he greeted
Artemisia, for he knew nothing of women, not yet having met Roxana; but
he took her hand and praised the bravery of Clearchus, at which she
blushed and smiled.

Thais looked the young king frankly in the face.  "We bid you welcome
to Tyre," she said.

There was something in the unconquerable vitality of her gaze that
reminded him of his mother, although Olympias' eyes were dark and the
eyes of this girl were yellow, if any color could be assigned to them
that seemed a blend of all.

"It was worth fighting for," he said, returning her look with
unconcealed admiration.  "But sometimes I wish I were not Alexander,"
he added, turning to Chares with a smile.

"And I thank the Gods that thou art indeed Alexander," the Theban
replied, drawing Thais closer to him.

The young king seemed to fall into a momentary revery, but it passed
quickly.

"You four shall be my guests to-night," he exclaimed.  "Azemilcus will
provide the feast."

"Do not trust him," Chares said, in a low voice.  "He tried to poison
us."

"If that be so, we will eat elsewhere," Alexander answered, frowning
and looking askance at the Tyrian.

"If you will permit me to manage it," Thais said, "Phradates shall
furnish the feast."

"Who is he?" Alexander asked.

"He was our captor here," Thais replied, "and he is a man of some good
qualities, though he has others also."

"He is the messenger whom you sent from Thebes to carry word to King
Azemilcus of your coming," Clearchus explained.

"I remember," Alexander said.  "I would like to see him again and ask
him whether he delivered the message.  So be it, then."

Bidding the Companions follow, Alexander suffered Thais to lead him to
the house of Phradates.  It was still closed and silent, but Chares and
Clearchus beat upon the door with their sword-hilts and demanded
admittance in the name of Alexander.  Mena, recognizing the king
through the wicket, thought it best to open, since he knew that
resistance would be in vain.  The door swung back, and he prostrated
himself at Alexander's feet.

"Welcome, O son of Philip," he said.  "The house of my master and all
that was his belong to the Conqueror of the Earth."

"Where is he that he does not himself receive me?" Alexander demanded.

"Alas, he is dead!" the Egyptian answered.  "He received a fatal wound
while fighting on the walls, and they brought him home.  He died in my
arms."

Mena affected to wipe tears from his eyes as he told of his master's
end.

"It is a lie!" the old nurse screamed, from among the slaves clustered
in the back of the hall.  They tried to stifle her voice, but Alexander
commanded her to come forward.

"What happened?" he asked briefly.

The old woman sank upon her knees and raised her hands in supplication.

"I was his nurse," she said, in her cracked and broken voice.  "They
brought him wounded to this door, and Mena--this man here--would not
permit him to enter.  He was not always kind to me, but I loved him;
for how often when he was little have I held him in my arms!  So I
stole away and brought him in by another door, thinking to save him,
for he was so weak from his wound.  And then Mena stabbed him, and he
died.  Vengeance, O king; thou art strong!"

"Thou shalt have it," Alexander said sternly.  "Is this true, dog?"

Mena tried to deny, but he could not speak.  His face turned ashen.

"I promised this man that he should be crucified," Thais said softly.

"Then let it be done now," Alexander said.

He motioned to his guard, who seized the Egyptian and held him fast.
"Were others concerned in this?" he demanded of the nurse.

"No others, my lord," the woman replied.

"Then let them have no fear," he said.  "They shall be unharmed.  I
give them and this house to Thais."

"Mercy!  Mercy!" cried Mena, finding his voice at last.  "It is all a
lie!"

"Take him away," Alexander said.  "I see you know how to punish," he
added, turning to Thais.

"I thank the king, both for that and for his gift to me," she replied
demurely.  "I was sold at Thebes."

By her order the slaves conducted Alexander to the bath and waited upon
the Companions who began to arrive.  She caused the body of Phradates
to be carried to his own chamber, where it was left in the care of the
old nurse.  With the aid of Artemisia, she superintended the
preparations for the feast, giving especial care to the selection of
the wines and to the decoration of the hall in which the tables were
spread.

Masses of oak leaves from the gardens of Melkarth's temple hid the
columns, and from among them shone hundreds of lamps and torches,
shedding their light upon the platters of gold and trenchers of silver,
interspersed with flagons of colored glass of the finest workmanship,
that weighed down the tables.  The couches were covered with silks of
many hues and piled with yielding cushions.

Pyramids of flowers from the roofs of the houses were disposed upon the
tables, and for each guest a wreath was prepared.  The warm,
perfume-laden air throbbed with the music of flutes breathed upon by
invisible musicians.

Thais had caused soldiers to be sent to the Temple of Astoreth, where
the priestesses, with many lamentations, supplied them with pheasants
from the sacred flock, and these, with abundance of fish from the
harbors, pastries, and sweetmeats, disguised the poverty of the larder.
Alexander was accustomed afterward to drive his cooks and stewards to
despair by commanding them to provide a banquet like the one that Thais
had given; for, try as hard as they might, he never could be brought to
give his approval, but persisted in declaring that the feast of Thais
remained unequalled.

The secret was that there never after came a time when the young king
was so well satisfied with himself and his fortune, when his friends
were so inspired, and when the future held so much promise.  The battle
of Issus had been won, and the strongest fortress in the world had been
taken.  The shores of the sea, from the Hellespont to the Nile, had
been conquered and held.  Alexander knew then that no power on earth
could stand against him.  He foresaw the overthrow of Darius and the
spread of his own dominion to the confines of the world.  Great
thoughts and limitless projects were stirring in his mind.  He felt
himself half a God, and he wondered at his own power.  There was yet no
bitterness of anxiety to contaminate the pleasure of anticipation,
which always in ambitious hearts so much exceeds that of realization.

The feelings that animated the young leader were shared in greater or
less degree by his followers.  Even Hephæstion forgot to sulk because
his place on the right of the king had been given to Artemisia.  Thais
sat on his left, and beyond her reclined the lazy bulk of Chares.  Each
man looked his neighbor frankly in the face, sure of his sympathy, and
all felt toward Alexander an affection and generous admiration in which
there was no selfish thought.

What wonder that, in after years, when suspicion and insidious pride
had poisoned the mind of the young king, and when the free-hearted
soldiers there gathered together had fallen away from each other, each
hoping evil to his comrade that he himself might profit thereby,--what
wonder that Alexander remembered the feast of Thais as the happiest of
his life?  But of the sorrows that were to come none then knew or even
guessed, unless it was old Aristander, to whom all paid honor because
his prophecy of the fall of Tyre, that the king himself had deemed
impossible, had been fulfilled.  And even Aristander was cheerful that
night beyond his custom, forgetting the future in the present.

So the young men rejoiced in their strength, in their hopes, and in the
honest affection that warmed their hearts toward each other.  The hall
was filled with laughter, and their jesting left no scars.  The wine
expanded and stimulated their minds instead of their passions, and when
Callisthenes, at Alexander's request, recited the immortal description
of the fall of Troy, the majestic periods of the epic drew tears of
emotion to their eyes, and every man of them became a hero.

"If I were to bid thee crave a gift at my hands, what would it be?"
Alexander asked of Artemisia.

She blushed, and her glance sought Clearchus.

"It would be one of thy soldiers, O king," she replied softly.

"That is much to ask of a general," Alexander said, affecting
hesitation.  "I would rather you had demanded his weight in gold; but
which one?"

"Here he is," said Artemisia, blushing still more deeply and laying her
hand in that of the Athenian.

"I suppose I must give him to thee," the young king said.  "Let the
chief priest of Melkarth be summoned."

"I will fetch him myself," Clearchus cried, leaping from his couch, and
he hurriedly left the hall amid the approving laughter of the company.

The priest was found, the marriage contract drawn and signed, and while
Alexander joined their hands, the words were spoken that made Clearchus
and Artemisia one.  The captains rose to their feet, each with a
brimming goblet, and they drank the health of the bride with a cheer
such as they had not given since they charged the squadrons of Darius.
With heart-felt freedom they showered good wishes upon their comrade,
and loud were their protests when Alexander broke up the feast to
return to the royal palace.

Leonidas remained, with a few men of his troop, to guard the house, and
he and Chares sat for hours with a flagon of wine between them, talking
of all that had passed since the day when they rode at dawn into Athens
in search of Clearchus.

In the lofty chamber where Artemisia and Thais had spent so many weary
days waiting for the coming of deliverance, Artemisia stood with
Clearchus at the window that looked toward the Macedonian camp.  The
cloud-wrack had vanished, and the sky was thickly sown with great stars
that seemed to look down upon them with friendly gaze.  The young man's
arm clasped his bride warm and close, and her dear head rested against
his breast.  He kissed the soft coils of her hair; but she lifted her
lips to his, and he saw that her blue eyes were swimming with tears of
happiness.


Leonidas, who had gone about his duties long before his friends were
stirring next morning, returned at midday and placed in Artemisia's
hands a mysterious package.

"This is Moloch's gift," he said.

When Artemisia opened it, out poured a magnificent double necklace of
rubies, so large and pure that she could not help kissing him, at which
the Spartan blushed like a boy.

"I found them under the idol," he said.  "For once, the chancellor told
the truth."



CHAPTER LXIX

CHARES FINDS REST

Again Alexander and Darius stood face to face, this time upon the plain
of Nineveh at Gaugamela, the Camel's House, beyond the swift Tigris.
Chares and Leonidas felt the chill of autumn in the air as they
strolled out upon the earthen ramparts that sheltered the Macedonian
camp.  The wide plain below them, where they knew the Persian host was
assembled, was shrouded in mist.

Both were silent, and both were thinking of Clearchus, whom they had
left behind in Egypt, in the new city that Alexander had founded at the
mouth of the Nile, giving it his own name.  There he was building the
house that was to shelter him and Artemisia amid its gardens, within
sight and sound of the sea; for when he learned of the wreck of his
fortune, he had no desire to return to Athens.

"We shall soon know who is master," the Spartan said, gazing toward the
mist-wrapped plain.

Chares followed his look indifferently, yawned, and stretched his arms.

"I believe I would rather go back to sleep than fight," he said.  "I
don't know what has come over me."

Leonidas shot him a quick glance, and it seemed to him that the
Theban's face had aged and grown grave over night.

"I wonder what Clearchus and Artemisia and little Chares are doing,"
Chares went on.  "I would like to see them again.  May the Gods give
them happiness!"

"Yes, and I shall be happy too when you have built your palace beside
them," Leonidas replied.  "It will have to be a palace, for Thais will
be satisfied with nothing less."

Chares smiled a little sadly and shook his head.

"That is not for me," he said.  "I shall never have a home and children
of my own."

"Nonsense!" the Spartan replied decisively.  "What is to become of
Thais, then?"

"I know not," Chares said reflectively.  "Watch over her, Leonidas, if
I am not there to do it.  She loves me."

"You talk like a sick man," Leonidas exclaimed, "yet you were never
better.  What is the matter with you?"

"Who can speak of to-morrow?" Chares replied.  "You know, Leonidas,
that I am not afraid, and yet somehow I care not.  You and Clearchus I
must leave sometime, and whenever that time comes, it will be a regret
to me; and Thais, of course, will grieve; but she will recover.  She is
not like Artemisia.  I think something is lacking in me.  I have taken
pleasure in life, but I am tired of everything.  My city exists no
more.  Perhaps I am being punished for taking service under the man who
destroyed it.  I do not know--or care.  Let be what will be."

"When you hear the trumpet, you will forget all this folly," Leonidas
said impatiently.  "You are young and you have everything to live for.
That palace will be built yet; and when our heads are gray, we shall be
sitting there, telling each other of this battle.  See, they are
waiting for us.  They have been there all night."

The mist was lifting in undulating billows and twisted scarfs of vapor,
floating away into the upper air.  Before them was mustered the might
of the greatest empire the world had ever seen.  Away to the left and
right spread the army of the Great King, a wilderness of bright plumes
and glittering helmets.  The spear-points, emerging from the mist,
caught the rays of the sun like diamonds.  Rank on rank they stood, so
deep that the young men could not distinguish where the files ceased.
Far on their right was the Bactrian cavalry and the Persian horse under
the cruel viceroy Bessus, who had unwittingly saved Chares and
Clearchus from the Babylonian mob.  They could make out the banners of
the Susians, the Albanians, the Hyrcanians, the fierce Parthians, the
Syrians, the Arachotians, the Cadusians, the Babylonian levies, the
haughty Medes, the dusky squadrons from beyond the Indus, the warriors
from the shores of the Red Sea, the Mesopotamians, the Armenians, the
Cappadocians, and the mongrel tribes of mixed blood.  From the
flaunting banners they could read the muster-roll of the nations that
bowed to the will of Darius.

In advance of the first rank stood a line of huge, swaying brown bulks.
They were the royal elephants, stationed there to drive a pathway
through the Macedonian army for the Great King.  Leonidas wondered at
their number and size.  On both sides of them stretched rows of
chariots, with axles and neaps that terminated in long, curved
scythe-blades.  Behind the elephants was the royal squadron of ten
thousand picked riders, and in its rear Darius had stationed himself,
surrounded by his kinsmen, and protected on either side by bodies of
Greek mercenaries.  All the plain in front of the vast array had been
made as level as a floor, so that the chariots might find no obstacle
in their advance.

"This will be the last battle," Chares said indifferently.  "If we win
here, the empire is ours."

"We shall win!" Leonidas exclaimed.

"I'm not so sure of that," Chares said, measuring the host of the enemy
with his eye.  "There are more of them than there were at Issus, and
here they have room to move."

A trumpet sent its bold notes from the Macedonian camp.  The call was
taken up by others, rose, and died away.  Presently the first squadron
of the phalanx wheeled out upon the plain, and began marching slowly
and in silence down the gentle slope toward the Persian van.

"We must get into our armor," Chares said, and the two friends hastened
down from the rampart.

The camp was swarming like a great beehive.  Rough shouts of greeting,
jests, and salutations were heard on every side as the soldiers hurried
to join their commands.  The army was in high spirits at the prospect
of a decisive grapple, but the heaviness that oppressed Chares' mind
refused to yield to the general enthusiasm.  He made his way through
the crowds to the purple pavilion set apart for Sisygambis, the mother
of Darius, and his children.  The beautiful Statira was no longer
there.  She had died in her captivity.

"I wish to speak with Thais," Chares said to the eunuch who guarded the
door.

He was admitted to an anteroom of the tent while a slave carried his
message.  Thais answered the summons quickly.  A proud smile parted her
lips when she saw the powerful form of the Theban, clad in resplendent
armor; but it vanished when she looked into his face.

He took her hands and bent down to kiss her, while the plumes of his
helmet fell about their heads.

"I have but a moment," he said.  "Farewell, Thais; you have loved me
better than I deserved."

"Chares!" she exclaimed, with a sinking of the heart that caused her
voice to flutter.  "Why do you speak to me like this?  I have loved you
and I do love you with all my heart--with all my heart!  Never have I
loved another, and I never shall.  Without you I should die!"

She stood on tiptoe and threw her arms around his neck.  "You are all I
have!" she cried, with a sob.

"Thais," he said, holding her close, "if I come not back to you,
promise me that you will accept what the Gods send.  They are wiser
than we."

To Thais it seemed as though the world was slipping away from her.  He
had gone to battle before, and she well knew its chances; but he was so
brave and strong that she had never really feared for him and for
herself.  What would become of her without him?  She remembered what
she had been before she knew him.  The future would be worse than a
void.  The thought of it stabbed her heart like a knife.

"If you come not back!" she cried, clinging to him with all her
strength.  "But you will come back, Chares--tell me that you will!
Tell me that you will come back for my sake.  I cannot let you go!"

"I will come back if the Gods permit it," he said, kissing her once
more, "but promise me, my love, for the time is short."

A trumpet sounded, and Thais understood that he must leave her.

"I promise," she said hastily, "but, O my heart, guard thyself in the
battle; for it is thy life and mine thou bearest!"

She felt his arms press her closely and tenderly, and then he was gone.
She turned slowly back to the inner rooms of the pavilion, where the
queen mother sat with her little grandson in her lap.  Sisygambis had
taken a fancy to her, especially since the death of her
daughter-in-law, whom Thais had tended in her illness.  She turned her
face toward her, stamped with traces of sorrow.

"What is happening?" she asked.

"They are marching out to battle," Thais replied.

"My son is there!" the queen said.  "May Astoreth have him in her care.
But whichever way the battle goes, either I or thou must weep.  Our
hearts are their playthings!"

As the Companions emerged from the camp, they passed through the ranks
of the Thracian infantry, left behind to protect it, and saw the
phalanx forming on the plain.  They swung into the battle line on its
right, behind the archers and the javelin men.  The Persians overlapped
them on both flanks by half a mile.

Never had Chares seen Alexander so confidently at ease as when he rode
along the line in his bright armor, his white plumes nodding as he
looked to see that all was in readiness.  His eye was clear and his
brow was untroubled in the face of those tremendous odds, although he
knew that his fate depended upon the issue of that day.  He took his
place beside Clitus on the extreme right wing of the army, with the
squadrons of Glaucias behind him.

There was a stir in the Persian host, and the terrible scythed
chariots, drawn by horses that were lashed to madness, bounded forward
across the interval that separated the two armies.  At the same time
the elephants began to move, and the Persian centre advanced to the
attack.

Chares had hardly time to note this movement before the Bactrian and
Scythian cavalry under Bessus swept down upon the Companions.
Alexander ordered Mœnidas and the Greek mercenary cavalry to meet
the charge.  The Greeks galloped bravely to oppose the onset, but the
rush of the Bactrians scattered them like chaff.  The Pœonian
cavalry under Aristo was then sent forward with better success.  The
wild troops of Bessus were curbed and forced back for a space, and
Chares could see the bull-necked viceroy raging among them in a frantic
endeavor to make them stand.  Finding all his efforts in vain, he
ordered the main body of the Bactrian cavalry, fourteen thousand in
all, to charge.  They left their place in the left of the Persian line
and thundered down upon the Pœonians like an avalanche.

Not until then did Alexander turn his face to the impatient Companions.
He raised his hand as a signal to make ready.  Each man gathered his
bridle reins more firmly, and tightened his grasp on his spear.  A page
scurried back to Aretes, who had been posted in the rear of the main
line as a protection to the flank, telling him to charge with his
splendid lancers.  Then the Companions rushed forward, with Alexander
at their head, and with their plumes fluttering like foam on the crest
of a wave.

Squadron by squadron, they tore into the enemy's lines, while Scyth and
Bactrian went down before them.  Swift and deadly as a falcon, Aretes
swooped upon Bessus' flank, throwing it into confusion.  But the
viceroy refused to yield, and the stubborn righting continued.

Meantime the dreaded scythe-bearing chariots had neared the phalanx,
which it was their task to break.  The soldiers clashed their spear
butts against their shields with a clangor that frightened many of the
horses beyond control.  The light-footed skirmishers in advance of the
line shot their arrows into the sides of the animals, or risked their
lives to sever the traces of their harness.  Some of the horses wheeled
and galloped back into the Persian horde.  Others were killed upon the
sarissas that pierced their necks.  A few of the chariots reached the
line, that opened hastily to let them through, and both horses and
charioteers were slain at leisure in the rear.

The elephants, from which the Great King had hoped so much, proved as
useless as the chariots.  Bewildered in the clamor raised by the
phalanx, and maddened by the wounds inflicted upon them by the archers,
they rushed about the field, trumpeting wildly, and trampling the
Persians in their search for escape.  Darius saw them, and his brow
clouded.

With the first stride of his horse when the Companions charged, Chares
felt his heart leap and the glow of joy in battle warm his veins.
Misgiving and foreboding fell from him.  He struck with mighty blows,
spurring his horse forward into the Bactrian ranks until he could go no
further.  When his squadron fell back to give place to another, he
refused to follow it, but remained there, fighting until the fresh
troop in its charge surrounded him and bore him forward.  Even when the
Bactrians began to give way, and Alexander, leaving them to Aretes,
directed the trumpeters to draw off the Companions, the Theban would
not go.  The young king, who happened to be near, spoke to him sharply.

"Obey orders!" he said.  "You shall have your fill of fighting."

Chares reluctantly complied.  His eyes were bloodshot and his face
flushed like that of a drunken man.  To ease the throbbing of his
temples, he loosed his helmet and threw it upon the ground.

Alexander's eye, keen as a hawk's, glanced along the front of the
Persian line, and his heart leaped as he saw a wide break in the ranks
just at the left of the centre, where Darius stood in his chariot.  The
Susians had shifted slightly toward Bessus, in order to give him their
support, and a gap had opened between them and the Greek mercenaries
who guarded the Great King on that side.  The Macedonians had been
ordered to fight in silence, so that the trumpets might be heard, and
now their varied notes rang across the field.  At the first signal, the
hypaspists under Nicanor detached themselves from the line and came
forward at a run.  Another call, another, and another, brought the
veterans of the phalanx swinging in behind them.  Rank on rank, the
tough fighting men of Cœnas, Perdiccas, Meleager, and Polyspherchon
fell in with the rapid precision of cool discipline, forming a solid
column that fronted toward the gap.

Alexander gave the word to the Companions to place themselves at the
head of this enormous wedge, and then, with a shout that rolled far
across the plain, it hurled itself against the Persian line.  Into the
gap rode the Companions, and after them pressed the heavy infantry.
The matchless horsemen struck at the heart of the Persian host; the
resistless charge of the men who followed them tore wide the wound.

Close to the snowy plumes that floated from Alexander's helmet in the
front rank of the Companions streamed the yellow hair of Chares.  The
Theban fought with the strength of fury.  His sword rose and fell, and
every blow carried a death wound.  A strange sense of unreality
possessed him.  He seemed to be fighting in a dream.  Suddenly, through
the dust and confusion of the trampled field, he caught sight of the
figure of Darius, and every sense became acute.  The Great King,
wearing the royal robe of purple over his armor, stood erect in his
chariot, shooting arrows into the Macedonian column.  Between him and
the Companions stood ten thousand Greek mercenaries.

Chares was seized by an overmastering and unreasoning rage against the
tall, handsome man who had brought the vast horde together to oppose
them.

"Darius!  Darius!" he shouted, and spurred his horse so fiercely that
the animal leaped forward, carrying his rider far into the mercenary
cohorts.  Alexander and the foremost of the Companions, among them
Leonidas, pressed in after him.  The Spartan shouted to him to be
cautious, but he might as well have warned the wind.  To right and left
swung the terrible sword, and every bound of the frantic horse carried
him farther forward.  The ranks of the mercenaries were cleft apart.
From every side blows were aimed at him, but the hireling troops were
prevented by those who came after from closing around him.

Chares saw nothing but the pale face of the Great King.  A sword gashed
his thigh, but he did not feel the wound.  An arrow pierced his
shoulder.  He snapped off the shaft so that it might not interfere with
the sweep of his arm.

Darius looked toward the left, and his eyes met those of the Theban.
He saw the strokes that were rained upon his armor; he saw the darts
that were aimed at him.  At every breath it seemed that he must go
down, and yet onward he came, and his gaze never left the royal
chariot.  The Great King noticed that his lips were stained with bloody
froth and that his hair was roped and matted with sweat.  A chill
settled about the monarch's heart.  It seemed to him that the
yellow-headed giant, whom nothing could stay, would surely reach him;
and yet he was incapable of movement.  Like a man bound hand and foot
by a nightmare, he stood awaiting his end.  The man was now so near
that he fancied he could hear the panting of his breath.  The warning
cries of his kinsmen sounded in his ears, and he knew that they were
trying to throw themselves before him.  Of all the Macedonian army he
feared only this one enemy.  Would he succeed in reaching the chariot?
No!  His horse had swerved aside.  Darius saw him grasp a javelin that
was being thrust at his breast, and wrest it from the hands of the man
who held it.  He was about to cast.  The Great King could see the
glitter of the point of steel.  Something grazed his arm, and the haft
of the weapon quivered across his heart, its blade buried in the side
of his charioteer.

Darius drew a shuddering breath of relief, and opened his eyes.  He saw
the great roan steed that bore his foe rear high above the heads of his
guard.  Its fore legs struck aimlessly at the air, and the face of its
rider was hidden in its tossing mane.  Then, with a scream of agony,
the horse fell backward, and a hundred mercenaries swarmed upon him,
thrusting and thrusting with their short swords.

The Great King was saved; but he knew that the battle, upon which he
had staked all, was lost.  He saw the eager faces of the Companions,
and beyond them the solid wall of the phalanx, sweeping nearer, like a
resistless tide.  He stepped across the body of his charioteer and
mounted a horse.  Before his feet were in the stirrups he heard the
ominous cry, "The king flees!" that had run before the rout at Issus,
and by the time he reached the spot where the rear guard of his army
should have been, the dust-cloud raised by hurrying hoofs and flying
feet obscured the sun.

Slowly, from among the dead, Chares raised himself, and gazed with
dimming eyes toward the place where the Great King had stood.  Only the
broken chariot and the dead were there, but far away he saw the ebbing
tide of the battle.  A smile flickered upon his lips, his head sank
upon the side of his brave horse, and his blue eyes closed.  "Sleep and
rest!" he thought, and the darkness swept over him.



CHAPTER L

PROMISES FULFILLED

In the great Hall of Xerxes, in Persepolis, the city whose streets had
never been trodden by the feet of an enemy since the first Cyrus
overthrew the Medes and founded the Achæmenian line, Alexander feasted
with his friends.  Two months had passed since the empire that Cyrus
won had been wrested from Darius at Gaugamela.  Susa had fallen, and
the might of Persia was shattered forever.

Terrace above terrace, from the limpid waters of the Araxes, fed
eternally by mountain snows, rose the wonderful palaces upon which the
revenues of generations had been lavished.  There the grandeur and
majesty of the masters of more than half the world had bloomed into
visible form.  There Cyrus and his successors had been accustomed to
seek refuge from the summer heat, and to lay aside the cares of empire
for luxurious days amid the myriad blossoms of their gardens and the
fairer flowers of their effeminate courts.

The huge monoliths of the Hall of the Hundred Columns reared themselves
from their hewn platform of stone.  Around them were grouped the
palaces of Cyrus and of Xerxes, of Artaxerxes and Darius, built of rare
woods and polished marble, brought from distant quarries with infinite
labor, that the eyes of the Great Kings might take delight therein.
Each monarch had striven to outdo his predecessor in beauty and
magnificence.

Broad staircases, guarded by colossal figures of soldiers, connected
terraces, upheld by retaining walls upon which were sculptured enormous
lions and bulls.

The palaces themselves were large enough to give an army lodgement.
Their walls and ceilings were adorned with paintings commemorating the
triumphs of the kings in war and in the chase.  Upon the sides of the
Hall of Xerxes, where the Macedonian captains were gathered at tables
laden with vessels of solid gold, the petulant monarch, who had
chastised the Hellespont with rods and who had given the temples of
Athens to the flames, was represented in his hunting chariot, receiving
the charge of a wounded lion.  In the light of countless torches, the
great paintings, the hangings, and the carpets spread upon the floor
formed a background of rich color for the snowy garments of the
banqueters.

Statues of ebony, lapis-lazuli, marble, and jade, brought from many a
captured city, gleamed against the lofty wainscoting of golden plates,
wrought into strange reliefs.

Alexander reclined upon a raised couch, covered with priceless
Babylonian embroidery.  In front of him the tables were arranged in the
form of an oblong, stretching the length of the hall, and beside them
lolled the veterans, crowned with wreaths of flowers whose perfume
mingled with the heavy scent of unguents and incense.  There were many
women at the feast, each sitting beside her chosen lord.  Some of them
had been taken as captives.  Others, released from the bondage of the
harem, had formed willing alliances with the conquerors.  They were
admitted to the banquet on terms of equality with the men, according to
the Macedonian fashion, and their light laughter, the brilliancy of
their eyes, and the flashing of the jewels with which they were
plentifully adorned lent a finishing touch of brightness to the scene.

But the beauty of the fairest representatives of a race famed for its
beauty paled before that of Thais, whose gilded chair was set next to
the couch of Ptolemy on Alexander's left.  It was not so much the
perfect grace of her form or the proud poise or her head, with its
masses of tawny hair, that gave her distinction, as the spirit that
shone in her eyes.  Beautiful as she was, she had changed since the
death of Chares.  There was a suggestion of imperious hardness in her
glance; she was less womanly, but more fascinating.  The hearts of men
turned to wax as they gazed upon her, even though something indefinable
warned them that their longing would find no response in her heart.
Yet warm vitality seemed to radiate from her, and the quick blood came
and went under her clear skin with each changing emotion.

Habituated to the stiff formalities of the Persian court, the deft
slaves who attended the Macedonians were astonished at the freedom of
their manners.  All the skill of the royal cooks was expended to
prepare the feast.  Scores of delicate dishes were brought in and set
before the Greeks, but the master of the kitchens was in despair at
their lack of appreciation.  They devoured what was offered to them, it
was true, but without a sign of the gastronomical discussion in which
the Persian nobles were wont to indulge.  The wine, however, was not
spared, and the keeper of the royal cellars groaned over the havoc
wrought among his precious amphoræ.  The provision for a twelvemonth
was exhausted, and still the thirst of the strangers seemed unabated.
In the last and most ancient of the Persian capitals they were
celebrating their triumph in their own way, and it was the way of men
whose vices were as strong as their virtues.

The conversation, animated from the first, became livelier as the
banquet progressed.  The soldiers called to each other from table to
table, pledging each other in goblets of amber and ruby wine as costly
as amber and rubies.  Faces were flushed and eyes grew bright.  The
stately hall echoed with laughter, in which the musical voices of the
women joined.  Old stories were told again, and time-worn jokes took on
the attraction of novelty.  The women provoked their guerdon of homage,
and it was paid to them on hand and lip with frank generosity.  The
brains of even the stoutest members of the company were whirling, and
some of the more susceptible to the influence of the wine began to slip
unsteadily away, amid the jeers of their comrades, in the hope that the
cool outer air would drive off their giddiness and enable them to see
the end.  Those who remained were all talking at once, boasting of
their deeds, with none to listen.

Alexander, weary of the din, called suddenly upon Callisthenes to speak
in praise of the Greeks.  The orator rose slowly from his place and
strode out into the open space between the tables.

"To whom shall I speak?" he demanded, gazing about him with an
expression of disgust upon the babbling captains.  "They are all mad
with vanity and wine."

"Speak then to Xerxes," Alexander replied, pointing to the wall, from
which the royal portrait seemed to look down upon them with a sneer.

Callisthenes obeyed.  At first his voice was unheeded; but as his
apostrophe gathered force, the chatter of talk died away around him,
and all eyes were turned upon him.

Calling upon the dead king by name, he magnified his power and told how
he had gathered the nations to the invasion of Hellas.  The failure of
his attempt he attributed to the jealousy of the Gods, who would not
permit destruction to fall upon the country that was to produce
Alexander.  He described the heroic stand of the Spartans at
Thermopylæ, and the victory of Salamis; and as he dwelt upon the
bravery of the Greeks in the face of those overwhelming odds, the hall
rang with the cheers of men who themselves knew what it was to fight
and to conquer.

"By thy command, O Xerxes!" the orator cried, extending his open palm
toward the portrait, "Hellas was made to blush in the flames that
devoured the temples of her Gods upon the Athenian Acropolis; but the
life of man is brief, while the Gods die not nor do they forget.  Look
down from thy chariot!  Alexander, the defender and avenger of Hellas,
holds thy dominions, and the nations that owned thy sway are bowed at
his feet.  Turn not thy face away; for the fire with which thou didst
insult and offend the Gods of Hellas hath flamed across all Persia,
until it hath reached thee at last!"

The rage that had been gathering in the breasts of the Macedonians at
the recital of the wrongs that Greece had suffered could be repressed
no longer.  Clitus leaped to his feet and hurled his golden beaker at
the painted face of Xerxes.  In an instant the hall was in an uproar.
The company rose with one accord and turned to Alexander, shouting for
revenge.  To their inflamed minds it seemed as though the injuries
inflicted by Xerxes were of yesterday.  The contagion caught the young
king, who sprang from his couch and stood gazing around him, seeking
some means of satisfying the desire for vengeance that swelled his
heart.

Thais had been watching his face with lips slightly parted and a
strangely intent look in her eyes, as though waiting for the moment to
carry into execution some project that she had formed in her mind.
While Alexander stood hesitating, she seized a blazing torch from its
socket in one of the columns.

"He burned our temples--let fire be his punishment!" she whispered,
thrusting the torch into Alexander's grasp.

"The Gods shall be avenged!" he cried, accepting her plan without
hesitation; for the wine he had drunk and the maddening clamor of his
followers had gone to his head.

He thrust the lighted torch against the draperies that hung behind him.
A cry of horror burst from the slaves and attendants as the flame
caught the heavy folds and ran upward in leaping spirals; but the cry
was lost in the fierce triumphant shout of the captains.  Every man
grasped a torch and ran to spread the conflagration.  The great Hall of
Xerxes was enveloped in flame and smoke so quickly that the
incendiaries themselves had barely time to escape.

Rushing from the doorways with the torches in their hands, the
Macedonians hastened from palace to palace, scattering destruction.
Clouds of smoke, glowing red above the leaping flames, rose over the
marvellous structures that had been reared with so much toil.  Tower
and terrace, porch and portico, were transformed into roaring furnaces
in whose heat the great columns cracked and fell with a noise like the
rumbling of thunder.  The lofty ceilings crashed down upon wonders of
art and precious fabrics.  The plates of beaten gold that lined the
walls melted and ran into crevices which opened in the marble floor.
Of the slaves, some perished in the flames; others fled with booty
snatched from the ruin; still others ran wildly into the darkness,
crying that the Macedonians were preparing to put to the sword all who
dwelt in the pleasant valley.

The banqueters, driven back by the heat, watched the conflagration with
shouts of joy while it slowly burned itself out, leaving only the gaunt
and blackened skeletons of the group of palaces that had been the
delight of the Great Kings.

Thais stood beside Ptolemy, beneath the wide branches of an oak where
the glare of the flames she had kindled threw her figure into strong
relief against the blackness.  She held herself proudly erect, and a
slight smile curved her lips as she saw the banners of flame leap
upward toward the stars.

"Why did you do it?" the Macedonian asked, with an accent of respect
that seemed out of place in a camp where women were held so cheap.

"I did it because of a promise that I gave to Orontobates when I was a
captive in Halicarnassus," Thais replied.  "I like to keep my word."

Something in her tone prevented the soldier, bold as he was, from
asking her what the promise had been.  She had already taught him when
to remain silent, and he had learned that he must either submit or
abandon hope of winning her.  As he stood, drinking in her beauty,
revealed in a new aspect by the firelight, he was puzzled to see her
head droop, while two tears slowly gathered upon her lashes.

"Farewell, Chares, my lover!" she was saying to herself.  "Upon thy
funeral pyre my heart, too, is turning to ashes!"

"Thais," Ptolemy whispered, moved by her emotion without knowing its
cause, "do not forget that I love thee!"

"I do not forget," she replied, "nor have I forgotten another promise
that I made; for I think the Gods have sent thee to me.  To-morrow I
will be thy wife; and when this war has reached its end, thou shalt
reign in Alexandria over Egypt with me at thy side."

"Thais!" Ptolemy exclaimed, clasping her at last in his arms.

So Thais, the Athenian dancing girl, kept her pledge; but through the
length and breadth of the land ran the news that the home of the Great
Kings had been laid in ashes, and men knew that, though Darius still
lived, his power indeed was gone forever.



CHAPTER LI

AMID FRAGMENTS OF EMPIRE

Clearchus and Artemisia were walking in the garden of their home in
Alexandria.  Between the trunks of the trees, at a distance, they could
see the roofs and towers of the populous city, and across the blue
water, which began where the slopes of verdure ended, they could watch
the white sails of ships bringing trade from all parts of the world.
Ten years had passed since the palaces of Persepolis had crumbled into
ashes.  Alexander had been dead three years, and his body lay in the
royal tomb at the mouth of the Nile, whither Ptolemy had brought it
from Babylon, when the empire was divided among the Macedonian generals
and he came to rule over Egypt in place of the rapacious Cleomenes.

Artemisia's figure had lost some of its girlish grace, but her blue
eyes retained their clearness and her cheeks the delicate flush of her
youth.  Clearchus, too, was heavier than he had been when he fought
among the Companions under Alexander, whom men were beginning to call
"the Great."

At a turn in the path Artemisia placed her hand upon his arm and
checked him.  The silvery voices of children came from a sunlit glade
among the shrubbery.  They saw a boy of eleven years, clad in a short
white tunic that left his arms and legs free, shooting with blunt
arrows at a target that hung against a tree.  Two little girls stood
watching him, and after each shot they ran with eager laughter to find
the arrow and fetch it back to him.  Their fair hair gleamed in the
sun.  Artemisia's eyes sought those of her husband, and a smile of
mother love transfigured her face.

"I am almost afraid to be so happy," she murmured.

Clearchus laughed.  "You need not fear, my heart," he replied.  "Do not
the Gods owe us something?  They are generous."

They heard a step on the gravel behind them, and Leonidas advanced with
a smile and hands outstretched.  He had changed little, excepting that
a few gray hairs appeared at his temples and the lines of his face had
deepened.

"Welcome, comrade!" Clearchus cried, running forward to meet him.
"Whence come you?  What news?"

"I come from the council in Syria," Leonidas answered, "and as for
news, there has been another division of the world."

"And Ptolemy?" Clearchus asked anxiously.

"He retains Egypt," the Spartan said.  "Antipater is regent, with
Macedonia and all Greece; Seleucus gets the satrapy of Babylon; and
Antigonus, Susiana, besides what he had."

"I hope we shall have peace at last," Artemisia said, glancing toward
the children.

"We shall have peace here, at all events," Leonidas said grimly.  "None
of the generals is desirous of sharing the fate of Perdiccas."

They sat down beneath a vine-grown trellis while Leonidas told them of
the events that had led to the new distribution of the empire,
describing the jealousies of the leaders and the ferment of revolt that
was working in Greece.

"When will they stop killing each other?" Artemisia said sadly.  "Has
not each of them more than enough without trying to rob the others?
Leave them to their quarrels, Leonidas; there is room enough for
another house here beside us, and we will find you a mistress for it."

Leonidas shook his head and sipped the wine that a slave had brought
for his refreshment.  He knew that she referred to the site that they
had reserved for Chares and Thais.

"It is too late," he replied, half regretfully.  "As we have lived, so
we must die."

Artemisia slipped her hand within that of Clearchus, while the Spartan
followed with his eyes the glancing sails of a vessel whose prow was
turned toward the north and the rugged hillsides of his native land.
Their reflections were interrupted by the children, who had tired of
their play and were seeking new diversion.

"Ho!  Uncle Leonidas," shouted the boy, swooping down upon the Spartan.
"Where did you come from?  Tell me about the death of King Darius!"

He sat down beside Leonidas and composed himself to listen.  The little
girls took Artemisia prisoner and led her away to see a nest they had
found, in which, they assured her, were funny little birds with no
feathers on their wings.  Leonidas, his eyes still on the receding
ship, began the story that he had often told before.  He related how
the army came to Ecbatana, the gem of cities, with its seven walls each
of a different color from the others, and each rising higher than the
one outside it, and how they found that the Great King had fled up into
the snow-capped mountains that overlook the Caspian Sea.  He had with
him Bessus, the treacherous; Oxathres, his own brother; Artabazus, the
first nobleman of Persia, who commanded the Greek mercenaries; and a
score more of the generals and viceroys who still remained constant to
his fortune.  He told how Darius wished to stand and fight among the
rugged passes, but the others would not allow it; how Artabazus,
suspecting their perfidy, besought him to trust himself to his Greeks,
to which the Great King consented for the morrow; and how that night
Bessus fettered him with golden chains and made him a prisoner in his
litter.

The boy listened with sparkling eyes intent upon the Spartan's face,
while Leonidas described how Alexander, finding the Persians ever
fleeing before him, had left the foot-soldiers behind and struck out
with the Companions across the desert to intercept them.  The lad held
his breath as he followed the desperate ride over the burning sands,
where one by one the horses stumbled and fell, gasping, until only
seventy riders remained.  His cheeks flushed when he heard how a
soldier had brought water to Alexander in his helmet, and how the young
king, thirsty as he was, refused to moisten his lips because there was
not enough for all.

Then came the charge of the seventy weary Macedonians in the gray of
the morning upon the camp of the sleeping Persians and the
panic-stricken flight of the cowardly army before them, too frightened
even to look back.  And there they found the Great King lying in his
litter, stabbed through and through by the order of Bessus, who had
hoped thus to win the favor of Alexander.

"And that was the end of Darius," the Spartan concluded.  "Alexander
was sorry for his death, and he spread his own cloak over him as he lay
there; but I think it was better for him to die then than to live
subject to another, remembering his former power.  He was unfortunate
in this, that he was not killed in battle, as all brave men should wish
to be.  He had an opportunity for that at Gaugamela, but he threw it
away."

A picture rose before the Spartan's memory of Chares, lying with his
broad shoulders against the side of his horse amid the dead, with a
smile upon his lips, and he sighed.

"You have never yet told me what became of Bessus," the boy said
coaxingly.  "Is he still alive?"

"No," Leonidas replied, his face darkening.  "He was betrayed in his
turn, and Alexander ordered him to be killed in the manner of the
Scyths when they punish traitors."

"What is that?" the boy asked.

"I shall not tell you," Leonidas said grimly, "but it was too good for
him!"

"There is Thais," Clearchus exclaimed.  "Run and fetch your mother," he
added to his son.

They rose and went to meet Thais, who was advancing slowly down an
avenue of trees.  Two enormous black eunuchs held a broad parasol above
her head, and other slaves followed her, both men and maids, forming a
train of escort.  When she saw Clearchus and Leonidas, she spoke a word
to her attendants, who halted, and she came forward alone.  The
sunlight, sifting through the branches that formed a green arch over
her head, touched the burnished coils of her hair, flashing from hidden
jewels and glancing upon the shimmering silk of her robes.

"She is more beautiful than ever," Leonidas said, gazing at her with
admiration.

"Yes, and she rules Ptolemy in everything," Clearchus replied.

"My friends!" Thais exclaimed, giving them her hands.  "It makes my
heart glad to see you; but where is Artemisia?"

"I have sent for her," Clearchus replied.

"Before she comes," Thais said, seating herself beneath the trellis and
lowering her voice, "I must tell you something.  The proofs for which I
sent to Athens have arrived, and there can no longer be any doubt that
we are sisters."

"She will be overjoyed," Clearchus said.

"I shall not tell her," Thais replied.

"Why not?" Leonidas asked bluntly.  "You are a queen now, or will be
one soon, and nobody thinks of--of the past."

"It is precisely because I intend to be a queen that I shall not tell
her," Thais continued.  "She could not love me more if she knew, and I
will not be the means of bringing danger upon her or her children.  We
know the fate that awaits the kinsmen of princes.  Did not Olympias
cause Cleopatra to be slain with her babe in her arms?  Has not Roxana
murdered Statira, and is not Roxana herself, with the young Alexander,
held in captivity?  Nevertheless, I will tell her if you desire, and it
shall be proclaimed throughout Egypt."

"May the Gods forbid!" Clearchus exclaimed.  "You are right, Thais.  It
must not be told."

"Then I will destroy the proofs," she said, "and remain, as I have
been, the first of my race."

All three were silent, thinking of the future, and Thais smiled
faintly, as though at that moment she were conscious of the wonderful
power that was to descend through her daughters, until it attained its
perfection in the irresistible charm of that Cleopatra who was to see
the conquerors of the world at her feet.  Yet she sighed as her eyes
met those of Clearchus.

"If only Chares were here!" she murmured.

"We know," the Athenian answered gravely, "and we do not blame you,
since all of us must bow to the will of the Gods."

"I thank you," she said simply.  "You have both been kind to me."

Artemisia joined them, holding one of her girls by either hand, while
young Chares followed with his bow, concerning which he wished to
consult Leonidas.  There, in the vine-grown arbor, they sat talking
until the shadows began to lengthen, and the afternoon drew to its
close.  Thais rose, lithe and graceful as an animal of the desert, and
the slaves, who had been watching her, in a bright-colored group, from
beneath the trees, scrambled to their feet.

"Come, Leonidas, the cares of state await us," she said.  "Remember
that you are a general now, and I am almost a queen, while these two
have nothing to do but waste their time in being happy."

"You will come again to-morrow?" Artemisia said, embracing her.

"Perhaps," replied Thais, and she moved away down the avenue with the
Spartan, toward the retinue of slaves who stood waiting to surround her.

Clearchus and Artemisia watched them until the foliage hid them from
sight, and then turned toward the house.  Artemisia noticed that a rose
bush, weighted with flowers, had swayed across the path, and she
stooped to put it back into place.  Clearchus slipped his arm about her
waist and kissed her.

"Silly!" she said, blushing, "everybody will see you."

"That cannot be helped," he retorted.  "You looked then just as you
looked in the garden in Academe that morning when I found you among
your roses--and I think I love you more now than I did then."

"We love each other more," Artemisia said softly, "because we did not
know then what it would be to lose each other."



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