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Title: A Young Macedonian in the Army of Alexander the Great
Author: Church, Alfred John
Language: English
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[Illustration: THE DEPARTURE.]



                                    A
                            YOUNG MACEDONIAN
                            _IN THE ARMY OF_
                           ALEXANDER THE GREAT

                                 BY THE
                       REV. ALFRED J. CHURCH, M.A.
        _Lately Professor of Latin in University College, London_

                      _With Sixteen Illustrations_

                                 LONDON
                         SEELEY AND CO. LIMITED
                          ESSEX STREET, STRAND
                                  1890



The visit of Alexander to Jerusalem is recorded by Josephus only. The
fact that it is not mentioned by Arrian, who had contemporary diaries
before him, by Quintus Curtius, or by Diodorus Siculus, certainly throws
some doubt upon it. But it must be remembered that Jerusalem was not more
interesting than any other Syrian town to these writers. Bishop Westcott
thinks that Josephus’s narrative may be true, and I am content to make
this opinion my defence for introducing the incident into my story.

                                                                    A. C.



CONTENTS


      CHAP.                                   PAGE

         I. A WRONG                              1

        II. A REVENGE                            9

       III. PREPARATIONS                        24

        IV. AT TROY                             40

         V. AT THE GRANĪCUS                     48

        VI. HALICARNASSUS                       60

       VII. MEMNON                              73

      VIII. AT SEA                              83

        IX. IN GREECE AGAIN                     98

         X. AT ATHENS                          114

        XI. A PERILOUS VOYAGE                  122

       XII. ON THE WRONG SIDE                  137

      XIII. DAMASCUS                           150

       XIV. MANASSEH THE JEW                   162

        XV. ANDROMACHÉ                         173

       XVI. TO JERUSALEM                       180

      XVII. TYRE                               190

     XVIII. THE ESCAPE                         204

       XIX. THE HIGH PRIEST                    213

        XX. FROM TYRE TO THE TIGRIS            226

       XXI. ARBELA                             237

      XXII. AT BABYLON                         251

     XXIII. A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE          261

      XXIV. VENGEANCE                          273

       XXV. DARIUS                             284

      XXVI. INVALIDED                          294

     XXVII. NEWS FROM THE EAST                 300

    XXVIII. THE END                            315



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    THE DEPARTURE                    _Frontispiece_

    ALEXANDER THE GREAT                         18

    ALEXANDER AND DIOGENES                      36

    BARSINÉ                                     82

    APOLLO AND CHEIRON                         102

    DEMOSTHENES                                108

    DARIUS                                     134

    ALEXANDER AND BUCEPHALUS                   146

    THE TREASURE CARAVAN                       156

    THE SWING                                  160

    HUNTING                                    220

    AMMON                                      224

    THE COMPANIONS                             248

    IN THE GARDENS OF BABYLON                  258

    THE BANQUET AT MARACANDA                   304

    THE INDIAN BACCHUS                         312



A YOUNG MACEDONIAN



CHAPTER I

A WRONG


The “Boys’ Foot-race” at the great games of Olympia, celebrated now for
the one hundred and eleventh time since the epoch of Corœbus, has just
been run, and the victor is about to receive his crown of wild olive.
The herald proclaims with a loud voice, “Charidemus, son of Callicles
of Argos, come forward, and receive your prize!” A lad, who might have
been thought to number seventeen or eighteen summers, so tall and well
grown was he, but who had really only just completed his fifteenth year,
stepped forward. His face was less regularly handsome than those of the
very finest Greek type, for the nose was more arched, the chin more
strongly marked, and the forehead more square, than a sculptor would
have made them in moulding a boy Apollo; still the young Charidemus had
a singularly winning appearance, especially now that a smile shone out
of his frank blue eyes and parted lips, lips that were neither so full
as to be sensual, nor so thin as to be cruel. The dark chestnut curls
fell clustering about his neck, for the Greek boy was not cropped in the
terrier fashion of his English successor, and the ruddy brown of his
clear complexion showed a health nurtured by clean living and exercise. A
hum of applause greeted the young athlete, for he had many friends among
the young and old of Argos, and he was remarkable for the worth that—

            “appears with brighter shine
    When lodged within a worthy shrine”[1]

—a charm which commends itself greatly to the multitude. As Charidemus
approached the judges a lad stepped forward from the throng that
surrounded the tribunal, and exclaimed, “I object.”

All eyes were turned upon the speaker. He was immediately recognized as
the competitor who had won the second place, a good runner, who might
have hoped for victory in ordinary years, but who had had no chance
against the extraordinary fleetness of the young Argive. He was of a
well-set, sturdy figure; his face, without being at all handsome, was
sufficiently pleasing, though just at the moment it had a look which
might have meant either sullenness or shame.

“Who is it that speaks?” said the presiding judge.

“Charondas, son of Megasthenes, of Thebes,” was the answer.

“And what is your objection?” asked the judge.

“I object to Charidemus, alleged to be of Argos, because he is a
barbarian.”

The sensation produced by these words was great, even startling. There
could scarcely be a greater insult than to say to any one who claimed
to be a Greek that he was a barbarian. Greeks, according to a creed
that no one thought of questioning, were the born rulers and masters of
the world, for whom everything had been made, and to whom everything
belonged; barbarians were inferior creatures, without human rights, who
might be permitted to exist if they were content to minister to the
well-being of their masters, but otherwise were to be dealt with as so
many noxious beasts.

An angry flush mounted to the young runner’s face. A fierce light flashed
from his eyes, lately so smiling, and the red lips were set firmly
together. He had now the look of one who could make himself feared as
well as loved. His friends were loud in their expressions of wrath. With
an emphatic gesture of his hand the judge commanded silence. “Justify
your words,” he said to the Theban lad.

For a few moments Charondas stood silent. Then he turned to the crowd, as
if looking for inspiration or help. A man of middle age stepped forward
and addressed the judge.

“Permit me, sir, on behalf of my son, whose youth and modesty hinder him
from speaking freely in your august presence, to make a statement of
facts.”

“Speak on,” said the judge, “but say nothing that you cannot prove. Such
charges as that which we have just heard may not be lightly brought.”

“I allege that Charidemus, said to be of Argos, is not in truth the son
of Callicles, but is by birth a Macedonian.”

The word “Macedonian” produced almost as much sensation as had been made
by the word “barbarian.” The Macedonians were more than suspected of
compassing the overthrow of Greek liberties.

“Where is your proof?” asked the judge.

“There will be proof sufficient if your august tribunal will summon
Callicles himself to appear before it and make confession of what he
knows.”

The judge accordingly commanded that Callicles should be called. The
summons was immediately obeyed. A man who was approaching old age, and
whose stooping form and shrunken limbs certainly showed a striking
contrast to the blooming vigour of Charidemus, stood before the judges.
The president spoke.

“I adjure you, by the name of Zeus of Olympia, that you tell the truth.
Is Charidemus indeed your son?”

The man hesitated a moment. “I adopted Charidemus in his infancy.”

“That proves your affection, but not his race,” said the judge in a stern
voice. “Tell us the truth, and prevaricate no more.”

“He was the son of my sister.”

“And his father?”

“His father was Caranus of Pella.”

“A Macedonian, therefore.”

“Yes, a Macedonian.”

“Why then did you enter him as your son for the foot-race?”

“Because I had adopted him with all due formalities, and in the eye of
the law he is my son.”

“But that did not make him a Greek of pure descent, such as by the
immemorial custom of these games he is bound to be.”

A hum of approval went round the circle of spectators, whilst angry
glances were cast at the Argive and his adopted son. Only the sanctity of
the spot prevented a show of open violence, so hateful had the name of
Macedonian become.

Callicles began to gather courage now that the secret was out. He
addressed the judges again.

“You forget, gentlemen, that in the time of the war with the Persians
Alexander of Macedon was permitted to compete in the chariot-race.”

“True,” replied the judge, “but then he showed an unbroken descent from
the hero Achilles.”

“Just so,” rejoined Callicles, “and Caranus was of the royal kindred.”

“The blood may easily have become mixed during the hundred and forty
years which have passed since the days of Alexander. Besides, that which
may be accepted as a matter of notoriety in the case of a king must be
duly proved when a private person is concerned. Have you such proof at
hand in regard to this youth?”

Callicles was obliged to confess that he had not. The presiding judge
then intimated that he would consider the matter with his colleagues, and
give the decision of the court probably in less than an hour. As a matter
of fact, the consultation was a mere formality. After a few minutes the
judges reappeared, and the president announced their decision.

“We pronounce Charidemus to be disqualified as having failed to prove
that he is of Hellenic descent, and adjudge the prize to Charondas the
Theban. We fine Callicles of Argos five minas[2] for having made a false
representation.”

Loud applause greeted this judgment. Such was the feeling in force at
that time that any affront that could be offered to a Macedonian was
eagerly welcomed by a Greek audience. Very likely there were some in the
crowd who had felt the touch of Philip’s “silver spears.”[3] If so, they
were even louder than their fellows in their expressions of delight.

It would be difficult to describe the feelings of dismay and rage which
filled the heart of the young Charidemus as he walked away from the
tribunal. As soon as he found himself alone he broke out into a violent
expression of them. “A curse on these cowardly Greeks,” he cried; “I am
heartily glad that I am not one of them. By Zeus, if I could let out the
half of my blood that comes from them I would. They dare not meet us in
the field, and they revenge themselves for their defeats by insults such
as these. By Ares, they shall pay me for it some day; especially that
clumsy lout, who filches by craft what he could not win by speed.”

If he had seen the way in which the young Theban received the prize that
had been adjudged to him in this unsatisfactory way, he would have
thought less hardly of him. Charondas had been driven into claiming the
crown; but he hated himself for doing it. Gladly would he have refused to
receive it; gladly, even—but such an act would have been regarded as an
unpardonable impiety—would he have thrown the chaplet upon the ground. As
it was, he was compelled to take and wear it, and, shortly afterwards, to
sit out the banquet given by his father in his honour. But he was gloomy
and dissatisfied, as little like as possible to a successful competitor
for one of the most coveted distinctions in Greek life. As soon as he
found himself at liberty he hastened to the quarters of Charidemus and
his father, but found that they were gone. Perhaps it was as well that
the two should not meet just then. It was not long before an occasion
arose which brought them together.



CHAPTER II

A REVENGE


Four years later Charidemus found the opportunity of revenge for which he
had longed in the bitterness of his disappointment. It was the evening of
the day which had seen the fall of Thebes. He had joined the army, and,
though still full young to be an officer, had received the command of a
company from Alexander, who had heard the story of his young kinsman, and
had been greatly impressed by his extraordinary strength and agility.
He had fought with conspicuous courage in the battle before the walls,
and in the assault by which the town had been carried. When the savage
sentence[4] which Alexander permitted his Greek allies to pass on the
captured city, had been pronounced, the king called the young man to him.
“Thebes,” he said, “is to be destroyed; but there is one house which I
should be a barbarian indeed if I did not respect, that is the house of
Pindar the poet. Take this order to Perdiccas. It directs him to supply
you with a guard of ten men. I charge you with the duty of keeping the
house of Pindar and all its inmates from harm.”

Charidemus saluted, and withdrew. He found no great difficulty in
performing his duty. The exception made by the Macedonian king to the
general order of destruction was commonly known throughout the army, and
the most lawless plunderer in it knew that it would be as much as his
life was worth not to respect the king’s command. Accordingly the flag,
which, with the word “Sacred” upon it, floated on the roof of the house,
was sufficient protection, and the guard had nothing to do.

The young officer’s first care had been to ascertain who were the inmates
of the house that were to have the benefit of the conqueror’s exemption.
He found that they were an old man, two women of middle age who were
his daughters, and a bright little boy of some six years, the child of
another daughter now deceased. He assured them of their safety, and was
a little surprised to find that even after two or three days had passed
in absolute security, no one attempting to enter the house, the women
continued to show lively signs of apprehension. Every sound seemed to
make them start and tremble; and their terror seemed to come from some
nearer cause than the thought of the dreadful fate which had overtaken
their country.

On the fifth day the secret came out. For some reason or other Charidemus
was unusually wakeful during the night. The weather was hot, more than
commonly so for the time of year, for it was now about the middle of
September, and, being unable to sleep, he felt that a stroll in the
garden would be a pleasant way of beguiling the time. It wanted still
two hours of sunrise, and the moon, which was some days past the full,
had only just risen. He sat down on a bench which had been conveniently
placed under a drooping plane, and began to meditate on the future, a
prospect full of interest, since it was well known that the young king
was preparing for war against Persia. His thoughts had begun to grow
indistinct and unconnected, for the sleep which had seemed impossible in
the heated bed-chamber began to steal over him in the cool of the garden,
when he was suddenly roused by the sound of a footstep. Himself unseen,
for he was entirely sheltered from view by the boughs of the plane-tree,
he commanded a full view of the garden. It was not a little to his
surprise that in a figure which moved silently and swiftly down one of
the side paths he recognized the elder of the two daughters of the house.
She had with her, he could perceive, an elderly woman, belonging to the
small establishment of slaves, who carried a basket on her arm. The lower
end of the garden was bounded by a wall; beyond this wall the ground
rose abruptly, forming indeed part of one of the lower slopes of the
Acropolis. It puzzled him entirely when he tried to conjecture whither
the women were going. That they should have left the house at such an
hour was a little strange, and there was, he knew, no outlet at that
end of the garden; for, having, as may be supposed, plenty of time on
his hands, he had thoroughly explored the whole place. Watching the two
women as far as the dim light permitted, he lost sight of them when they
reached the laurel hedge which served as an ornamental shelter for the
wall. His instincts as a gentleman forbade him to follow them; nor did he
consider it part of his military duty to do so. Nevertheless, he could
not help feeling a strong curiosity when about an hour afterwards the two
women returned. With the quick eye of a born soldier, he observed that
the basket which the attendant carried swung lightly on her arm. It was
evident that it had been brought there full, and was being carried back
empty. He watched the two women into the house, and then proceeded to
investigate the mystery. At first sight it seemed insoluble. Everything
looked absolutely undisturbed. That the women could have clambered over
the wall was manifestly impossible. Yet where could they have been? If,
as he supposed, the basket had been emptied between their going and their
returning, what had been done with its contents? They were certainly
not above ground, and they had not been buried—in itself an unlikely
idea—for the soil was undisturbed. He had walked up and down the length
of the wall some half-dozen times, when he happened to stumble over the
stump of an old laurel tree which was hidden in the long grass. In the
effort to save himself from falling he struck his hand against the brick
wall with some smartness, and fancied that a somewhat hollow sound was
returned. An idea struck him, and he wondered that it had not occurred
to him before. Might there not be some hidden exit in the wall? There
was too little light for him to see anything of the kind, but touch
might reveal what the sight could not discover. He felt the surface
carefully, and after about half-an-hour’s diligent search, his patience
was rewarded by finding a slight indentation which ran perpendicularly
from about a foot off the top to the same distance from the bottom. Two
similar horizontal indentations were more easily discovered. There was,
it was evident, a door in the wall, but it had been skilfully concealed
by a thin layer of brickwork, so that to the eye, and even to the touch,
unless very carefully used, it suggested no difference from the rest of
the surface. This discovery made, another soon followed, though it was
due more to accident than to any other cause. The door opened with a
spring, the place of which was marked by a slight hollow in the surface.
Charidemus stumbled, so to speak, upon it, and the door opened to his
touch. It led into an underground passage about five or six yards long,
and this passage ended in a chamber which was closed by a door of the
ordinary kind. Opening this, the young soldier found himself in a room
that was about ten feet square. In the dim light of a lamp that hung from
the vaulted ceiling, he could see a couch occupied by the figure of a
sleeper, a table on which stood a pitcher and some provisions, a chair,
and some apparatus for washing. So deep were the slumbers of the occupant
of the room that the entrance of the stranger did not rouse him from
them, and it was only when Charidemus laid his hand upon his shoulder
that he woke. His first impulse was to stretch out his hand for the sword
which lay under his pillow; but the young Macedonian had been beforehand
with him. Unarmed himself, for he had not dreamt of any adventure when
his sleeplessness drove him into the garden, he had promptly possessed
himself of the weapon, and was consequently master of the situation.

The next moment the two men recognized each other. The occupant of this
mysterious chamber was Charondas, the Theban, and Charidemus saw the
lad who had, as he thought, filched away his prize, lying unarmed and
helpless before him.

The young Theban struggled into a sitting posture. Charidemus saw at once
that his left arm was disabled. His face, too, was pale and bloodless,
his eyes dim and sunken, and his whole appearance suggestive of weakness
and depression.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, though the question was needless; it
was clear that the young man had taken part in the recent fighting, and
was now in hiding.

“I scarcely know; but I suppose life is sweet even to one who has lost
everything; and I am too young,” he added with a faint smile, “to relish
the idea of Charon and his ferry-boat.”

“Are you of the lineage of Pindar?”

“I cannot claim that honour. The husband of old Eurytion’s sister, and
father of the little Creon, whom you have seen doubtless, was my kinsman;
but I am not related to the house of Pindar by blood. No; I have no more
claim to the clemency of Alexander than the rest of my countrymen.”

The young Macedonian stood lost in thought. He had often imagined the
meeting that would take place some day, he was sure, between Charondas
and himself. But he had never dreamt of it under such circumstances as
these. He was to encounter him on the battle-field and vanquish him,
perhaps overtake him in the pursuit, and then, perhaps, spare his life,
perhaps kill him—he had never been quite able to make up his mind which
it should be. But now killing him was out of the question; the man could
not defend himself. And yet to give him up to death or slavery—how
inexpressibly mean it seemed to him!

“I have no right,” said the young Theban, “to ask a favour of you. I
wronged you once——”

“Stop,” interrupted Charidemus, “how came you to think of doing such a
thing? It was shameful to win the prize in such a way.”

“It is true,” said the other; “but it was not of my own will that I came
forward to object. Another urged me to it, and he is dead. You know that
our cities give a handsome reward in money to those who win these prizes
at the games; and we were very poor. But I could have trampled the crown
in the dust, so hateful was it to win by craft what you had won by speed.”

“Well, well,” said Charidemus, who now had greater prizes than Olympia
could give before his eyes, “it was no such great matter after all;” and
he held out his hand to the wounded lad.

“Ah!” said the other, “I have no right to ask you favours. Yet one thing
I may venture on. Kill me here. I could not bear to be a slave. Those
poor women, who have risked their lives to save me, will be sorry when
they hear of it, and little Creon will cry; but a child’s tears are
soon dried. But a slave—that would be too dreadful. I remember a poor
Phocian my father had—sold to him after the taking of Crissa, of which,
I suppose, you have heard—as well bred a man as any of us, and better
educated, for we Thebans, in spite of our Pindar, are not very clever.
What a life he led! I would die a hundred times over sooner than bear it
for a day! No, kill me, I beseech you. So may the gods above and below
be good to you when your need comes! Have you ever killed a man?” he
went on. “Hardly, I suppose, in cold blood. Well, then, I will show you
where to strike.” And he pointed to a place on his breast, from which,
at the same time, he withdrew his tunic. “My old trainer,” he went on,
“taught me that. Or, if you would sooner have it so, give me the sword,
and I dare say that I can make shift to deal as straight a blow as will
suffice.”

The young Macedonian’s heart was fairly touched. “Nay,” he said, after
a brief time given to thought, “I know something that will be better
than that. If it fail, I will do what you will. Meanwhile here is your
sword; but swear by Zeus and Dionysus, who is, I think, your special god
at Thebes, that you will not lift it against yourself, till I give you
leave. And now, for three or four hours, farewell.”

That morning, as Alexander was sitting with his intimate friend
Hephaestion, at a frugal meal of barley cakes and fruit, washed down with
wine that had been diluted, sweetened, and warmed, the guard who kept
the door of the chamber, a huge Illyrian, who must have measured nearly
seven feet in height, announced that a young man, who gave the name of
Charidemus, craved a few minutes’ speech with the king.

A more splendid specimen of humanity than the Macedonian monarch has
seldom, perhaps never, been seen. In stature he did not much surpass
the middle height, but his limbs were admirably proportioned, the very
ideal of manly strength and beauty. His face, with well-cut features and
brilliantly clear complexion, showed such a model as a sculptor would
choose for hero or demigod. In fact, he seemed a very Achilles, born
again in the later days, the handsomest of men,[5] the strongest, the
swiftest of foot.

“Ah!” said the king, “that is our young friend to whom I gave the charge
of Pindar’s house. I hope no harm has happened to it or him. To tell you
the truth, this Theban affair has been a bad business. I would give a
thousand talents that it had not happened. Show him in,” he cried out,
turning to the Illyrian.

“Hail, sire,” said Charidemus, saluting.

“Is all well?”

“All is well, sire. No one has offered to harm the house or its inmates.
But, if you will please to hear me, I have a favour to ask.”

“What is it? Speak on.”

“I beg the life of a friend.”

“The life of a friend! What friend of yours can be in danger of his
life?”

[Illustration: ALEXANDER THE GREAT.]

Charidemus told his story. Alexander listened with attention, and
certainly without displeasure. He had already, as has been seen, begun to
feel some repentance and even shame for the fate of Thebes, and he was
not sorry to show clemency in a particular case.

“What,” he cried, when he heard the name of the lad for whom Charidemus
was making intercession. “What? was it not Charondas of Thebes who
filched from you the crown at Olympia? And you have forgiven him? What
did the wise Aristotle,” he went on, turning to Hephaestion, “say about
forgiveness?”

“Sire,” said Hephaestion, “you doubtless know better than I. You profited
by his teaching far more than I—so the philosopher has told me a thousand
times.”

“Well,” rejoined the king, “as far as I remember, he always seemed a
little doubtful. To forgive showed, he thought, a certain weakness
of will; yet it might be profitable, for it was an exercise of
self-restraint. Was it not so, my friend?”

“Just so,” said Hephaestion. “And did not the wise man say that if one
were ever in doubt which to choose of two things, one should take the
less pleasant. I don’t know that I have ever had any experiences of
forgiveness, but I certainly know the pleasure of revenge.”

“Admirably said,” cried the king. “Your request is granted,” he went on,
speaking to Charidemus. “But what will you do with your friend?”

“He shall follow you, sire, when you go to conquer the great enemy of
Hellas.”

“So be it. Mind that I never repent this day’s clemency. And now
farewell!”

The young man again saluted, and withdrew.

But when he unfolded his plan to the Theban, he found an obstacle which
he might indeed have foreseen, but on which, nevertheless, he had not
reckoned. Charondas was profoundly grateful to his deliverer, and deeply
touched by his generosity. But to follow the man who had laid his country
in the dust—that seemed impossible.

“What!” he cried, “take service with the son of Philip, the hereditary
enemy of Hellas!”

“Listen!” said Charidemus; “there is but one hereditary perpetual enemy
of Hellas, and that is the Persian. Since the days of Darius, the Great
King has never ceased to scheme against her liberty. Do you know the
story of the wrongs that these Persians, the most insolent and cruel of
barbarians, have done to the children of Hellas?”

“Something of it,” replied Charondas; “but in Thebes we are not great
readers; and besides, that is a part of history which we commonly pass
over.”

“Well, it is a story of nearly two hundred years of wrong. Since Salamis
and Platæa, indeed, the claws of the Persian have been clipped; but
before that—it makes my blood boil to think of the things that they did
to free-born men. You know they passed through Macedonia, and left it
a wilderness. There are traditions in my family of their misdeeds and
cruelties which make me fairly grind my teeth with rage. And then the way
in which they treated the islands! Swept them as men sweep fish out of a
pond! Their soldiers would join hand to hand, and drag the place, as if
they were dragging with a net.”

“They suffered for it afterwards,” said Charondas.

“Yes, they suffered for it, but not in their own country. Twice they
have invaded Hellas itself; and they hold in slavery some of the sons of
Hellas to this day. But they have never had any proper punishment.”

“But what do you think would be proper punishment?” asked the Theban.

“That Hellas should conquer Persia, as Persia dreamt of conquering
Hellas.”

“But the work is too vast.”

“Not so. Did you never hear how ten thousand men marched from the Ægean
to the Euxine without meeting an enemy who could stand against them?
And these were mere mercenaries, who thought of nothing but their pay.
Yes, Persia ought to have been conquered long ago, if your cities had
only been united; but you were too busy quarrelling—first Sparta against
Athens, and then Thebes against Sparta, and Corinth and Argos and the
rest of them backing first one side, and then the other.”

“It is too true.”

“And then, when there seemed to be a chance of something being done, luck
came in and helped the Persians. Alexander of Pheræ had laid his plans
for a great expedition against the King, and just at the moment when they
were complete, the dagger of an assassin—hired, some said, with Persian
gold—struck him down. Then Philip took up the scheme, and worked it out
with infinite patience and skill; and lo! the knife again! Well, ‘all
these things lie upon the knees of the gods.’ Alexander of Pheræ was
certainly not strong enough for the work, nor, perhaps, Philip himself.
And besides, Philip had spent the best years of life in preparing for it,
and was scarcely young enough. But now the time has come and the man.
You must see our glorious Alexander, best of soldiers, best of generals.
Before a year is over, he will be well on his way to the Persians’
capital. Come with me, and help him to do the work for which Hellas has
been waiting so long. Your true country is not here, among these petty
states worn out with incessant strifes, but in the new empire which this
darling of the gods will establish in the East.”

“Well,” said the Theban, with a melancholy smile, “anyhow my country is
not any longer here. And what you tell me seems true enough. To you, my
friend, I can refuse nothing. The life which you have saved is yours. I
will follow you wherever you go, and, perhaps, some day you will teach me
to love even this Alexander. At present, you must allow, I have scarcely
cause.”

Thus began a friendship which was only to be dissolved by death.



CHAPTER III

PREPARATION


About six months have passed since the events recorded in my last
chapter. Charidemus had reported to Alexander so much of the young
Theban’s answer as it seemed to him expedient to communicate; and the
king had been pleased to receive it very graciously. “I am glad,” he
said, “that you will have a friend in your campaigns. I should like to
have such friendships all through my army. Two men watching over each
other, helping each other, are worth more than double two who fight each
for his own hand. You shall be a captain in the Guards.[6] I can’t give
your friend the same rank. It would give great offence. My Macedonians
would be terribly annoyed to see a young untried Greek put over them. He
must make his way. I promise you that as soon as my men see that he is
fit to lead, they will be perfectly willing to be led by him. Meanwhile
let him join your company as a volunteer. He can thus be with you. And I
will give orders that he shall draw the same pay and rations as you do.
And now that is settled,” the king went on, “I shall want you with me for
a little time. Your friend shall go to Pella, and learn his drill, and
make himself useful.”

This accordingly had been done. Charondas had spent the winter in Pella.
In this place (which Alexander’s father had made the capital of his
kingdom) the army was gathering for the great expedition. A gayer or
more bustling scene could not well be imagined, or, except the vast
array which Xerxes had swept all Asia to bring against Greece a century
and a half before, a stranger collection of specimens of humanity.
Savage mountaineers from the Thracian Highlands, and fishermen from
the primitive lake-villages of Pæonia, jostled in the streets with
representatives of almost every city of Greece, the Lesser Greece which
was the home of the race, and the Greater Greece which had spread its
borders over the shores of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which had
almost touched with its outposts the Caspian on the east and the Pillars
of Hercules on the west. The prospect of a booty such as passed all the
dreams of avarice, the hope of ransacking the treasuries into which
all Asia had poured its wealth for generations, had drawn adventurers
from all points of the compass. The only difficulty that the recruiting
officers had was in choosing. The king was determined that the strength
of his army should be his own Macedonians. A sturdy race, untouched by
the luxury which had corrupted the vigour of more civilized Greece, they
supplied a material of the most solid value. Nor was it now the rough,
untempered metal that it had been a generation before. Philip had wrought
it by years of patient care into a most serviceable weapon, and it only
remained for his son to give its final polish and to wield it.

So complete was the organization left behind him by the great king, that
such recruits as were needed to make up the necessary numbers of the
army of Asia—and none but tried soldiers were recruited—easily fell into
their proper places. The preparation of siege trains, of such machines
as battering-rams and the like, of the artillery of the time, catapults,
small and great, some used for throwing darts and some for hurling
stones, was a more laborious business. The equipment of the army was far
from complete. Every anvil in Macedonia was hard at work. Of provisions
no great store was prepared. The king counted for supplying his needs in
this direction in the country which he was about to overrun. The military
chest was empty, or worse than empty; for Philip, who always preferred
the spear of silver to the spear of steel, had left little but debt
behind him. The personal baggage of the army was on the most moderate
scale. Never was there a force which gave a better promise of being able
to “march anywhere,” and more amply fulfilled it.

Charondas, as it may easily be imagined, did not find the time hang
heavily on his hands. His drill was easily learnt; he had served in the
Theban infantry, the best in the world till it was dispossessed of its
pride of place by the admirable force created by the military genius of
Philip. But after this there was no lack of employment. Being a clever
young fellow, who quite belied the common character of his countrymen
for stupidity, and as modest as he was clever, he soon became a great
favourite, and found himself set to any employment that required a little
more tact and management than usual. When business permitted, there was
always amusement in plenty. The lakes and marshes round Pella swarmed
with wild geese and swans; and there were woods which might always be
reckoned upon as holding a wild boar, and in which a bear might sometimes
be found.

Such had been the employment of the last six months.

When I take up again the thread of my story the two friends had met at
Sestos,[7] from which place the army was preparing to cross into the
Troad. They had much to tell each other. Charidemus, who had joined the
army only the night before, was anxious to learn many military details
which Charondas had had the opportunity of acquainting himself with. His
own story was interesting, for he had been with Alexander and had also
had a mission of his own, and had some notable experiences to relate.
This is an outline of his narrative:

“After we parted, I went with the king to Megara. Hephaestion was urgent
with him to go to Athens; but he refused. He would give no reasons; in
fact, I never saw him so abrupt and positive; but I think that I know
the cause. It is certain that there would have been trouble, if he had
gone. The Athenians are the freest-spoken people in the world, and the
king felt, I am sure, that it would be more than he could do to command
himself, if he should hear himself, and still more hear his father,
insulted. And besides, he had something very unpleasant to say, the sort
of thing which any one would sooner say by another man’s mouth than by
his own. He was going to demand that the ten men who had been his worst
enemies among the statesmen and soldiers of Athens should be given up to
him. I was at table with him when the envoys from the city came back with
their answer. He had them brought into the room where we were. No one
could have been more polite than was the king. ‘Be seated, gentlemen,’
he said; and he ordered the pages to carry round cups of wine. Then he
poured a libation from his own goblet. ‘To Athené,’ he cried, ‘Athené the
Counsellor, Athené the Champion,’ and took a deep draught at each title.
The envoys stood up, and followed his example. ‘And now, gentlemen, to
business,’ he went on. ‘You have brought the prisoners, of course. I
mean no harm to them; but I don’t care to have them plotting against me
while I am away.’ ‘My lord,’ said the chief of the embassy—and I could
see him tremble as he spoke, though his bearing was brave enough—‘my
lord, the Athenian people, having met in a lawful assembly, and duly
deliberated on this matter, has resolved that it cannot consent to your
demand. The ten citizens whom you named in your letter have not been
convicted of any crime; and it would not be lawful to arrest them.’ I
saw the king’s face flush when he heard this answer; and he half started
up from his seat. But he mastered himself by a great effort. ‘Is that
so?’ he said in a low voice; ‘then I shall have to come and take them.
You hear that, gentlemen? Tell those who sent you what they must look
for.’ And he took up the talk with us just at the point at which it had
been broken off when the envoys were announced. But he was not as calm
as he looked. One of his pages told me that he did not lie down to sleep
till it wanted only two hours of dawn. All night the lad heard the king
pacing up and down in his chamber. The wall of partition was very thin,
and he could not help hearing much that he said. ‘A set of scribblers
and word-splitters, to dare to set themselves up against me! I’ll fetch
the villains, if I have to go for them myself; and if I go, it will be
the worse for all of them!’ Then his mood changed. ‘I can’t have another
business like the last! Thebes was bad enough, but Athens—no it is
impossible. Even the Spartans would not put out the “eye of Greece”;[8]
and I must not be more brutal than a Spartan. And then to make another
enemy among the Immortals! It is not to be thought of. The wrath of
Bacchus is bad enough; and I have sinned against him beyond all pardon.
But the wrath of Athené!—that would be a curse indeed; for it would be
the ruin both of valour and counsel.’ So he went on talking to himself
till the best part of the night was spent. Well, two days afterwards
there came another embassy from Athens. This time they had a man of sense
with them, one who knew how to make the best of things, and who, besides,
was a special favourite of the king. This was Phocion, who, as I daresay
you know, had the sense to accept the inevitable, and counselled peace
with us, when the so-called patriots were raving for war. The king was
as gracious as possible to him. ‘Ah! my dear friend,’ he cried, as soon
as he saw him, ‘I am indeed glad to see you. Now I know that I have an
intelligent person to deal with, and I am quite sure that we shall have
no difficulty in settling matters on a satisfactory footing. Well, what
have you got to tell me? What proposition do you make? You may be sure
that I will accept anything in reason.’ ‘Sir,’ said Phocion—a singularly
venerable-looking man, by the way—‘the Athenians beg you not to take it
ill if they are unwilling to break their laws even to win your favour; at
the same time they are ready to do anything to satisfy you!’ ‘Ah! I see,’
said the king; ‘anything but what I want. But hearken: I have thought the
matter over, and have come to this conclusion: I won’t ask your people to
give anybody up. It is a thing that has an evil look; and, upon my word,
I think the better of them for refusing. At the same time, I can’t have
my enemies plotting against me when my back is turned. You may keep your
speakers, and they may talk against me as much as they please. They did
not hurt my father much, and I do not suppose that they will hurt me.
But as to the soldiers, that is another matter. They must go. I don’t
want to have them myself; but they must not stop at Athens. If you can
promise so much for those who sent you, then I shall be satisfied.’ ‘You
are as moderate,’ said Phocion, ‘as I always expected you would be. I can
promise what you demand. Indeed, the two soldiers are gone already.’[9]
‘That is well,’ said the king. ‘Perhaps it is all that I ought to have
asked for at the first. Yes; tell your countrymen that I honour them for
their courage, and that I don’t forget what they have done for Greece.
If it had not been for them we should be slaves beneath the heel of the
Persian this day. And tell them that if anything happens to me, it is
they who are to take my place, and be the leaders of Greece. They were
so once, and it may be the pleasure of the gods that they should be so
again.’”

“Ah!” interrupted Charondas, smiling, “your king knows how to use his
tongue as well as he knows how to use his sword. That will flatter the
Athenians to the top of their bent. After that they are Alexander’s
firm friends for ever. But to take his place—what an idea! If they only
knew it, it was the cruellest satire. They have orators, I allow. I
heard two of them when I was a boy. I thought that nothing could beat
the first—Æschines, I think they called him—till the second got up. Good
gods! that man could have persuaded me of anything. Demosthenes, they
told me, was his name. But as for a general, they haven’t such a thing,
except it be this same Phocion, and he must be close upon seventy.[10]
They have no soldiers even, except such as they hire. They used to be
able to fight, though they were never a match for us. You shrug your
shoulders, I see, but it is a fact; but now they can do nothing but
quarrel. But I am interrupting you. Go on.”

“Well,” continued Charidemus, “from Megara we went on to Corinth.
There the king held a great reception of envoys from all the states.
I acted, you must know, as one of his secretaries, and had to listen
to the eloquence of all these gentlemen. How they prevaricated, and
lied, and flattered! and the king listening all the while with a gentle
smile, as if he were taking it all in, but now and then throwing in a
word or putting a question that struck them dumb. These were the public
audiences. And then there were the private interviews, when the envoys
came one by one to see what they could get for themselves. What a set of
greedy, cringing beggars they were, to be sure. Some put a better face on
it than others; but it was the same with all—gold; gold, or office, which
of course, means gold sooner or later. I used to want to be thought a
Greek, but I never——”

He stopped abruptly, for he had forgotten to whom he was talking.
Charondas smiled. “Speak your mind,” he said, “you will not offend me.”

“Well,” continued the Macedonian, “there was at least one man at Corinth
whom I could honestly admire. I had gone with the king and Hephaestion
to dine with a rich Corinthian. What a splendid banquet it was! The king
has no gold and silver plate to match what Xeniades—for that was our
host’s name—produced. The conversation happened to turn on the sights of
Corinth, and Xeniades said that, after all, there was not one of them
could match what he had to show. ‘Can we see it?’ asked Alexander. ‘Not
to-day, I am afraid,’ said our host, ‘but come to-morrow about noon,
and I can promise you a good view.’ Accordingly the next day we went.
Xeniades took us into the open court inside his house, and showed us a
curious little figure of a man asleep in the sunshine. ‘That,’ said he,
‘is the one man I know, or ever have known, who never wanted anything
more than what he had. Let me tell you how I came to know him. About
thirty years ago I was travelling in Crete, and happened to stroll into
the slave-market at Gnossus. There was a lot of prisoners on sale who had
been taken by pirates out of an Athenian ship. Every man had a little
paper hanging round his neck, on which were written his age, height, and
accomplishments. There were cooks, tailors, tent-makers, cobblers, and
half-a-dozen other trades, one poor wretch who called himself a sculptor,
the raggedest of the lot, and another, who looked deplorably ill, by
the way, who called himself a physician. They were poor creatures, all
of them. Indeed, the only one that struck my fancy was a man of about
fifty—too old, of course, in a general way, for a slave that one is going
to buy. He certainly was not strong or handsome, but he looked clever.
I noticed that no occupation was mentioned in his description; so I
asked him what he could do. “I can rule men,” he said. That seemed such
a whimsical answer, for certainly such a thing was never said in the
slave-market before, that I could do nothing less than buy the man. “You
are just what I have been wanting,” I said. Well, to make a long story
short, I brought him home and made him tutor to my children, for I found
that he was a learned man. He did his work admirably. But of late he
has grown very odd. He might have any room in my house, but you see the
place in which he prefers to live,’ and he pointed to a huge earthenware
vat that had been rolled up against the side of the house. ‘But let us
go and hear what he has to say.’ Well, we went, and our coming woke the
old man. He was a curious, withered, bent creature, nearly eighty years
old, our host said, with matted white hair, eyes as keen as a hawk’s,
and the queerest wrinkles round his mouth. ‘Who are you?’ he said. ‘I am
Alexander, King of Macedonia,’ said the king. ‘I am Diogenes the Cynic,’
said the old man. ‘Is there anything that I can do for you?’ asked the
king. ‘Yes; you can stand out of the sunshine.’ So the king stood aside,
whereupon the old man curled himself up and went to sleep again. ‘Well,’
said the king, ‘if I were not Alexander, I would gladly be Diogenes.’
‘You may well say so, my lord,’ said Xeniades; ‘that strange old creature
has been a good genius in my house.’”

“And what became of you after the king came back to Pella?” asked
Charondas.

“I stayed behind to do some business which he put into my hands. Most
of the time I spent in Argos, where I was brought up, and where I have
many friends, but I paid visits to every town of importance in the
Peloponnesus. I may say so much without breaking any confidence, that it
was my business to commend the Macedonian alliance to any people of note
that I might come into contact with. I was very well received everywhere
except in Sparta. The Spartans were as sulky as possible; in fact, I was
told to leave the city within a day.”

[Illustration: ALEXANDER AND DIOGENES.]

At this point the conversation of the two friends was interrupted by
the entrance of one of Alexander’s pages. The lad—he was about sixteen
years of age,[11]—saluted, and said “a message from the king.” The two
friends rose from their seats and stood “at attention” to receive the
communication. “The king commands your attendance to-morrow at sunrise,
when he goes to Troy.” His errand done, the lad relaxed the extreme
dignity of his manner, and greeted the two young men in a very friendly
way. “Have you heard the news,” he asked, “that has set all the world
wondering? The statue of Orpheus that stands in Pieria has taken to
sweating incessantly. The priest thought it important enough to send a
special messenger announcing the prodigy. Some of the old generals were
very much troubled at the affair,” went on the young man, who was by
way of being an _esprit fort_, “but luckily the soothsayer[12] was equal
to the occasion. ‘Let no one be troubled,’ he said, ‘it is an omen of
the very best. Much labour is in store for the poets, who will have to
celebrate the labours of our king.”

“Well,” said Charidemus, who was a well-educated young man, and had a
certain taste in verse, “our friend Chœrilus,[13] with all that I have
seen of him and his works, will have to sweat very hard before he can
produce a decent verse.”

“Very true,” said the page, “but why Orpheus should trouble himself about
such a fool as Chœrilus passes my comprehension. Now, if you want a
really good omen, my dear Charidemus, you have one in the king’s sending
for you. That means good luck if anything does. There are very few going.
Perdiccas, Hephaestion, half-a-dozen of us pages (of whom I have not
the luck to be one), the soothsayer, of course, with the priests and
attendants, and a small escort make up the company.”

“And where is he going?” asked the two friends together.

“To the ruins of Troy. And now farewell.”



CHAPTER IV

AT TROY


Early as it was when our hero passed through the camp on his way to the
point from which the king’s galley was to start, everything was in a
great bustle of preparation. More than a hundred and fifty vessels of war
and a huge array of trading ships of every kind and size were standing as
near the shore as their draught would permit, ready to receive the army
and to transport it to the Asiatic shore. The munitions of war and the
artillery had been already embarked, relays of men having been engaged
on this part of the work for some days past. The pier was crowded with
horses and their attendants, this being the only spot from which the
animals could be conveniently put on ship-board. Alexander, however,
contemplated mounting some part of his cavalry with chargers to be
purchased on the soil of Asia, and, with that extraordinary faculty for
organization and management that was as marked in him as was his personal
courage, had provided that there should be no delay in procuring a proper
supply. The soldiers themselves were not to go on board till everything
else had been arranged.

The king’s galley, which was the admiral’s own ship, presented a striking
appearance. At the stern stood Alexander, a splendid figure, tall and
stately, and clad in gilded armour. The pages, wearing purple tunics
with short cloaks richly embroidered with gold thread, were clustered
about him on the after deck, while, close at hand, conspicuous in their
sacrificial white garments, stood the priest and his attendants. All the
crew wore holiday attire, and every part of the vessel was crowned with
garlands.

At a signal from the king the galley pushed off from the shore; the
fugleman struck up a lively strain of martial Dorian music; the rowers,
oarsmen picked for strength and endurance from the whole fleet, struck
the water with their oars in faultless time, while Alexander himself held
the rudder. At first he steered along the shore, for he was bound for
the southern extremity of the peninsula, on which stood the chapel of
Protesilaüs,[14] the hero who, whether from self-sacrifice or ill-luck,
had expiated by his death the doom pronounced on his people. Reaching
the place he went ashore, followed by his companions and attendants,
and, after duly performing sacrifice to the hero, returned to his ship.
The prow was then turned straight to the opposite coast. In mid-channel
the music of the fugleman’s flute ceased, and the rowers rested on their
oars. Leaving the rudder in the charge of Hephaestion, the king advanced
to sacrifice the milk-white bull, which, with richly gilded horns and
garlands of flowers hanging about its neck, stood ready for the rite. He
plucked some hair from between the horns, and duly burned them on the
coals of a brasier, and then sprinkled some salted meal and poured a few
drops of wine on the animal’s forehead. The attendants meanwhile plunged
knives into its throat, and caught the streaming blood in broad shallow
dishes.[15] The entrails were then duly examined by the soothsayer,
who, after an apparently scrupulous investigation, declared that they
presented a singularly favourable appearance. This done, the king took a
golden cup from the hand of an attendant, and after filling it with the
choicest Chian wine, poured out libations to Poseidon, the sea-god, and
to the sisterhood of the nymphs, imploring that they would continue to
him and to his companions the favour which they had shown to the Greek
heroes of old times. His prayer ended, he flung the goblet, as that which
should never be profaned by any meaner function, into the stream of the
Hellespont.

These ceremonies ended, a very brief space of time sufficed to bring the
galley to the “Harbour of the Achæans,” the very spot which tradition
asserted to have been the landing-place of the host of Agamemnon. The
king was the first to leap ashore. For a moment he stood with his spear
poised, as if awaiting an enemy who might dispute his landing; then, no
one appearing, stuck the weapon in the ground, and implored the favour of
Zeus and the whole company of the dwellers in Olympus on the undertaking
of which that day’s work was the beginning. Then followed a number of
remarkable acts. They were partly, one cannot doubt, intended for effect,
the performances of a man who desired above all things to pose as the
representative of Greek feeling, to show himself to the world as the
successor of the heroes who had championed Greece against the lawless
insolence of Asia. But they were also in a great degree the expression of
a genuine feeling. Alexander had a romantic love for the whole cycle of
Homeric song and Homeric legend. A copy of the Iliad was the companion
of all his campaigns; he even slept with it under his pillow. It was
his proudest boast that he was descended from Achilles; and now he was
actually performing in person the drama which had been the romance of
his life. His first visit was to the temple of Athené that crowned the
hill, identified at least by the inhabitants of the place[16] with the
Pergama of ancient Troy. The walls of the temple were adorned with suits
of armour, worn, it was said by the guardians of the place, by heroes who
had fought against Troy. The king had several of these taken down, not
intending to wear them himself, but meaning to have them carried with
him during his campaigns, a purpose which was afterwards fulfilled. He
left instead his own gilded armour, and added other valuable offerings to
the temple. From Athené’s shrine he went to the palace of Priam, where
his guides showed him the very altar of Zeus at which the old king was
slaughtered by the savage son of Achilles. But this son was an ancestor
of his own, and he felt himself bound to expiate by offering sacrifice
the wrath which the murdered man might feel against the descendant of the
murderer. The sight which crowned the glories of the day was the tomb and
monumental column of Achilles. It was the practice of pilgrims to this
sacred spot to strip off their garments, anoint themselves, and run naked
round the mound under which the great hero reposed. “Happy Achilles,” he
cried, when the ceremony was finished; “who didst find a faithful friend
to love thee during life, and a great poet to celebrate thee after death.
The friend is here,” he went on, turning with an affectionate gesture to
Hephaestion, “but the poet——” and he was thinking, it may be possible, of
the unlucky Chœrilus.

Nothing adverse had occurred from morning to evening, but those who
were responsible for the success of the operation had been profoundly
anxious. Sentinels stood on the highest ground at the western end of the
Hellespont, to watch the seas both toward the south and the west for the
first signs of the approach of a hostile squadron, but not a sail was to
be seen; and the tedious and dangerous operation of transferring the army
from one continent to the other had been executed in safety. A squadron
of agile Phœnician galleys, driven by resolute captains on that helpless
crowd of transports, might have wrought irreparable damage, and even
crushed the undertaking in its first stage. This would have been done if
the Persian king had listened to his wisest counsellors; but it was not
to be. Then, as ever, it was true, “Whom the gods will ruin they first
strike with madness.”

The army bivouacked that night, as it best could, on or near the shore.
Next morning it marched past the king in battle array. A more perfect
instrument of war the world had never seen. Skirmishers, light infantry,
cavalry, all were as highly disciplined and as admirably equipped
as the lavish expenditure of trouble and money could make them. But
the irresistible strength of the force was in its famous phalanx.
Each division—there were six of them that passed that day under their
general’s eyes—had a front file of 128 men, while the files were sixteen
deep. Every soldier in this compact body of more than two thousand men
carried the huge Macedonian pike. It was twenty-two feet in length, being
so weighted that the fifteen feet which projected beyond the bearer were
fairly balanced by the six behind him. The pikes of the second rank,
which stood three feet behind the first, projected twelve feet before
the line, those of the third nine, of the fourth six, of the fifth
three. The other ranks sloped their pikes upward, over the shoulders
of their comrades, to form a sort of protection against missiles that
might be discharged against them. The whole presented a most formidable
appearance; and its appearance was not more formidable than its actual
strength. It was cumbrous; it could not manœuvre with ease; it could not
accommodate itself to difficult ground. But on ground of its own, and
when it could bring its strength to bear, it was irresistible. The best
infantry of Greece, though led by skilful generals, and fighting with
desperate courage, had been crushed by it. Long afterwards, when the
Macedonian army was but the shadow of its former self, the sight of the
phalanx could still strike terror into the conquerors of the world.[17]

Alexander’s eyes were lighted up with pride as the massive columns
marched past him. “Nothing can resist them,” he cried; “with these I
shall conquer the world.”[18]



CHAPTER V

AT THE GRANĪCUS


The army now marched slowly eastward, covering scarcely eight miles a
day. Alexander was not commonly a general who spared his troops; but he
was, for the present, almost timidly careful of them. A large Persian
force had, as he knew from his spies, been massed for several weeks
within striking distance of his point of disembarkation. Thanks to the
supineness or pride of the Persian leaders, he had been allowed to make
good his footing on Asian soil without opposition; but he would not be
suffered, he knew perfectly well, to advance without having to force his
way. He wanted to fight his first battle with every advantage on his
side; a victory would produce an immense impression in Western Asia, a
check on the other hand would be almost fatal. To bring his army into the
field perfectly fresh and unimpaired in numbers was, for the present,
his chief object. About noon on the fourth day his scouts came racing
back, with the intelligence that the Persians were posted on the right or
eastern bank of the Granīcus, a torrent-like stream which came down from
the slopes of Ida. A halt was immediately called, and a hasty council
of war held. The general opinion of the officers summoned, as expressed
by Parmenio, was to delay the attack till the following day. The king,
who was as ready to over-rule his advisers as great generals commonly
are, decided to fight at once. His men were flushed with high spirits
and confidence. Their strength had been so carefully husbanded that they
would be still perfectly fresh after a few more miles marching. The
king’s only fear was lest the enemy should decamp before he came up with
them. “I thanked the gods,” he said, in announcing his decision to the
council, “that the enemy did not offer me battle when I was landing my
army. I shall thank them not less fervently, if the enemy do offer it now
when I am better prepared to meet them than I shall ever be again.”

It was about an hour from sunset when Alexander, who was riding in
advance with a small staff, came in sight of the Persian army. It
was, indeed, but a single mile distant; and through the clear air,
unencumbered by the smoke of modern artillery, every detail of its
formation could be distinctly seen. The bank was lined with cavalry. On
the right were the Medes and Bactrians, wearing the round-topped cap,
the gaily-coloured tunic, and the scale armour which were distinguishing
parts of their national dress; the Paphlagonians and Hyrcanians,
equipped in much the same way, occupied the centre. Memnon the Rhodian,
the ablest of the counsellors of Darius, of whom we shall hear more
hereafter, shared with a Persian satrap the command of the right. He
had a few Greek troopers with him, but most of his men were Asiatics.
These were, however, the best horsemen that the vast empire of Darius
could send into the field. The descendants of the Seven Deliverers,[19]
with the flower of the Persian youth, in all the pride of a caste that
claimed to rule more than a hundred provinces, stood in all the splendour
of their gilded arms, to dispute the passage of the river. The stream,
greatly diminished indeed from its volume in early spring, when it is
swollen by the melting snows of Mount Ida, but not yet dwindled to the
slender proportions of summer,[20] was flowing with considerable volume.
The ford was many hundred yards in length, and for all this distance the
right bank opened out into level ground. The whole of this was occupied
by the cavalry. On the rising ground behind, marking the extreme limit
reached by the floods of water, or, rather, of early spring, the
infantry, both Greek and Asiatic, were posted in reserve. Mounted on
his famous steed Bucephalus, the king rode along the line, addressing
a few words of encouragement to each squadron and company as he passed
it, and finally placed himself at the head of the right division of the
army. (There were, it should be remembered, but two divisions.) For some
minutes the two armies stood watching each other in silence. Then, as the
Persian leaders recognized the presence of Alexander on the right wing of
his own force—and it was easy to distinguish him by his gilded arms, his
splendid charger, and the movement of the line as he rode along it—they
began to reinforce their own left. The fame of his personal prowess had
not failed to reach them; and they knew that the fiercest struggle would
be where he might be in immediate command. Alexander saw the movement,
and it hastened his own action. If he could catch his antagonists in
the confusion of a change he would have them at a disadvantage. The
word to advance was given, and the whole army moved forward towards the
river, the right wing being somewhat in advance. Here was the famous
_corps d’élite_, a heavy cavalry regiment that went under the name of
the “Royal Companions.” This was the first to enter the river. A number
of javelin-throwers and archers covered them on either flank; and they
were followed by some light horse, and by one of the regiments of light
infantry. This happened to be Charidemus’s own; he had begged and
obtained permission to return to his place in its ranks.

The van of the attacking force made its way in fair order through the
stream. The bottom was rough and uneven, full of large stones brought
down by winter floods, with now and then a hole of some depth, but there
was no mud or treacherous sand. The first onset on the defenders of the
further bank was not successful. A line of dismounted troopers stood
actually in the water, wherever it was shallow enough to allow it; on the
bank above them (the summer bank, as it may be called, in distinction
from that mentioned before as the limit of the winter floods) was ranged
a dense line of horsemen, two or three files deep. The combatants below
plied their swords, or thrust with their short spears; those above them
showered their javelins upon the advancing enemy, and these, not only
finding their footing insecure, but having to struggle up a somewhat
steep ascent, failed to get any permanent hold on the coveted bank. The
few who contrived to make their way up were either slain or disabled,
and the rest were thrust back upon the troops that followed them. These
were of course checked in their advance, and it was not till the king
himself at the head of the main body of his army took up the attack that
there appeared a prospect of success. Then indeed the tide of battle
began to turn. For the first of many times throughout these marvellous
campaigns the personal strength, the courage, the dexterity in arms of
Alexander, a matchless soldier as well as a matchless general, changed
the fortune of the day. He sprang forward, rallying after him his
disheartened troops, struck down adversary after adversary, and climbed
the bank with an agility as well as a daring which seemed to inspire his
companions with an irresistible courage. What a few minutes before had
seemed impossible was done; the first bank of the Granīcus was gained.
But the battle was not yet won. The Persians had been beaten back from
their first line of defence, but they still held the greater part of
the level ground in what seemed overwhelming force. And now they could
deliver charges which with the superior weight of horses and men might
be expected to overthrow a far less numerous foe. Again Alexander was in
the very front of the conflict. His pike had been broken in the struggle
for the bank. He called to one of the body-guards, a man whose special
office it was to hold his horse when he mounted or dismounted, and asked
for another. The man, without speaking, showed him his own broken weapon.
Then the king looked round on his followers, holding high the splintered
shaft. The appeal was answered in an instant. This time it was a Greek,
Demaratus of Corinth, who answered his call, and supplied him with a
fresh lance. It was not a moment too soon. A heavy column of Persian
horse was advancing against him, its leader, Mithradates, son-in-law
of Darius, riding a long way in advance of his men. Alexander spurred
his horse, charged at Mithradates with levelled pike, struck him on the
face, and hurled him dying to the ground. Meanwhile another Persian noble
had come up. He struck a fierce blow at the king with his scymetar, but
in his excitement almost missed his aim, doing no further damage than
shearing off the crest of the helmet. Alexander replied with a thrust
which broke through his breastplate, and inflicted a mortal wound. There
was a third antagonist behind, but his arm was severed by a sword-cut
from a Macedonian officer just as it was in the act of delivering a blow.
The _mêlée_ however, still continued with unabated fury. The Persian
nobles pressed forward with a reckless courage; and it was not till
almost every leader had fallen that the cavalry gave way.

In other parts of the field the resistance had been less obstinate.
The _élite_ of the Persian army had been brought together to oppose
Alexander, and the remainder did not hold their ground with the same
tenacity. When the phalanx, after meeting no opposition in making the
passage of the river, formed again on the other shore, and made its way
over the level ground, it encountered no resistance. All the defending
force either had perished or was scattered in a wild flight over the
plain.

A force, however, still remained unbroken, which, had it been properly
handled, might have been found a serious difficulty for the conquerors.
The infantry had remained, during the conflict just described, in
absolute inaction on the rising ground, watching without attempting to
share in the battle that was being fought on the plain below. They had
no responsible leader; no orders had been issued to them. The Persian
nobles had felt, in fact, so blind a confidence in the strength of their
own special arm, the cavalry, that they had treated this important part
of their resources with absolute neglect. And yet, not to speak of the
native troops, there were not less than ten thousand Greek mercenaries,
resolute, well-armed men, got together and supported at a vast expense,
who were never utilized in the struggle, but simply left to be
slaughtered. These now remained to be dealt with. The king had recalled
his cavalry from their pursuit of the flying Persians, and had launched
them against the unprotected flanks of the Greek infantry. Not content
with what he had already done in the way of personal exertion—and it was,
perhaps, his one defect that he was incontrollably eager in his passion
for “drinking the delight of battle,” he charged at the head of the
troopers, and had a horse killed under him by a thrust from a mercenary’s
lance. This horse was not the famous Bucephalus, which, as it had fallen
slightly lame in the course of the battle, he had exchanged for another
charger. While he was waiting for another horse to be brought to him,
the light infantry came up, and with it Charidemus and his Theban friend.
“Ah!” cried the king, recognizing the two comrades, with whom indeed
he had exchanged a few words several times on the march from the place
of landing, “the crowns of victory have fallen so far to the horsemen;
now it is your turn.” He had scarcely spoken when he remembered that
one at least of the two might find former friends or even kinsmen in
the hostile ranks, for many Thebans, he knew, had, after the fall of
their city, taken service with Persia. With the thoughtful kindness that
distinguished him till his temper had been spoilt by success and by
absolute power, he devised for the young man an escape from so painful
a dilemma. Hastily improvising a reason for sending him away from the
scene of action he said, “You must be content to help me just now as an
_aide-de-camp_: run to Parmenio[21] with all the speed you can command
and deliver to him this tablet. It contains some instructions which I
should like him to receive at once.” As a matter of fact the instructions
contained nothing more than this, “Keep the messenger with you till the
battle is over.”

The final struggle of the day, from which the young Theban thus
unconsciously received his dismissal, was fierce, but not protracted. The
light-armed infantry, following the charges of the cavalry, acquitted
themselves well, and Charidemus especially had the good luck to attract
the notice of Alexander by the skilful way in which he disposed of a
huge Arcadian. But the mercenaries continued to hold their own till the
phalanx came up. The native levies which supported them broke in terror
at the sight of that formidable array of steel; and even the hardy Greeks
felt an unaccustomed fear. Some indeed, having served all their time in
Asia, had never seen it in action before. With slow resistless advance
it bore down upon the doomed survivors of the infantry. The front ranks
fell before it; the rest stood for a few moments, wavered, and then broke
up in hopeless confusion. Two thousand were admitted to quarter; some
escaped by feigning death as they lay amidst the piles of their comrades’
corpses; but more than half of the ten thousand perished on the field.

After this nothing was left but to collect the spoils and to bury the
dead. This latter duty Alexander caused to be performed with special
care. The enemy received the same decent rites of sepulture as were
accorded to his own men.

Late that night, for it was already dark before the battle was over, the
two friends sat talking in the tent which they shared over the events of
the day.

“What think you of our king now?” said the young Macedonian. “Was there
ever such a warrior?”

“No,” returned the Theban. “I compared him in my mind with our own
Epaminondas. Epaminondas was as brave; but he was less possessed with the
passion for fighting. Our great general felt it his duty to do everything
that a common soldier could be asked to do; he thought it a part of a
general’s work; and, consequently, he was lost to his country when he
was most needed. The life for which ten thousand talents would have been
but a poor equivalent was expended in doing something for which one that
would have been dear at a score of drachmas would have sufficed.[22] It
has always been a puzzle to me, but doubtless so wise a man must have
known what was best. But to your king the fighting is not a duty but a
pleasure. He is greedy of it. He grudges it to others. He would like to
do all of it himself. Yes; you are right, he is an incomparable warrior.
He is a veritable Achilles. But I tell you he won my heart in quite
another way to-day. I have been thinking over his sending me on that
message, and I can see what he meant. I did in fact see more than one
face that I knew opposite to me, and though I should have done my duty,
I hope, it was a terrible dilemma. The general who can think of such a
thing on a battle-field, the king who can remember a humble man like
myself, is one to be honoured and loved. Yes, after to-day I can follow
your Alexander everywhere.”

Charidemus grasped his hand, “The gods send us good fortune and a
prosperous issue!” he exclaimed.



CHAPTER VI

HALICARNASSUS


It is no part of my purpose to tell again in detail what has been so
often told before, the story of the campaigns of Alexander. The victory
of the Granīcus had far-reaching results. It is scarcely too much to
say that it gave all Lesser Asia to the conqueror. The details of the
battle had been of a singularly impressive kind. It was a veritable hero,
men said, a manifest favourite of heaven, who had come to overthrow
the kingdom of Cyrus. He was incomparably skilful in counsel; he was
irresistible in fight. And then, as a matter of fact, so totally had
the beaten army disappeared, the Great King had no force on the western
side of the Taurus[23] range that could pretend to meet the invaders
in the field. Here and there a city or a fortress might be held for
him, but the country, with all its resources, was at the mercy of the
invaders; and the fortresses, for the most part, did not hold out.
The terror of this astonishing success was upon their governors and
garrisons, and there were few of the commanders who did not hasten
to make terms for themselves. The capital of the satrapy of Phrygia,
with all its treasures, was surrendered without a struggle. But a more
surprising success, a success which astonished Alexander himself, was
the capitulation of Sardis. He had not hoped to take it without a long
blockade, for an assault was impossible except the garrison should be
utterly negligent or faithless, and yet he got it without losing a single
soldier or wasting a single day. The Persian governor, accompanied by the
notables of the city, met him as he was advancing towards the walls, and
surrendered everything to him.

What he felt himself he expressed when the next day he inspected the
capabilities of the city, notoriously the strongest place in Lesser Asia,
which had fallen so unexpectedly into his hands. The town, he said, might
have been held for a long time by a resolute garrison; but the citadel,
with its sheer descent on every side and its triple wall was absolutely
impregnable. “Well,” he went on, turning to Hephaestion, “well might
old Meles have neglected to carry his lion’s cub round such a place as
this!”[24]

A garrison of Argive soldiers was left to hold the place. Alexander,
who, like all generals of the very first ability, possessed a gift for
remembering everything, had not forgotten that Charidemus had many
friends and connections in Argos, and offered the young man the post of
second in command, but was not at all displeased when he refused it. “You
are right,” he said, “though I thought it well to give you the choice.
But a young man like you is fit for something better than garrison
duty. You wish to follow me then? to see Susa and Babylon, and Tyre and
Jerusalem, and Egypt, perhaps India.” As he said this last word a cloud
passed over his face. It brought back what to his dying day was the great
remorse and terror of his life, the fate of Thebes and the dreaded anger
of Bacchus, that city’s patron god. For was not Bacchus the conqueror of
India, and who could hope to be under his ban, and yet safely tread in
his footsteps?

“Young man,” he said, “thank the gods that they have not made you a king,
or given you the power to kill and to keep alive.”

Ephesus was won as easily as Sardis had been; Miletus refused to
surrender, but was taken by storm a few days after it had been invested.
The only place of any real importance that remained in the west of
Lesser Asia was Halicarnassus. But the capture of this town would, it
was evident, be a task of difficulty. Memnon, now Commander-in-chief
of the Persian forces in the west, had thrown himself into it. It was
strongly placed and strongly fortified, Memnon himself, who was a
skilful engineer, having personally superintended the improvement of the
defences; and it could not be attacked by sea, for the Persian fleet,
which had been prevented from helping Miletus by being shut out from
the harbour, held the port of Halicarnassus in great force. Under these
circumstances, the fall of the town would be nearly as great a blow to
the Great King, as had been the signal defeat of his army at the Granīcus.

Alexander’s first experience was encouraging. He had scarcely crossed the
borders of Caria when he was met by the Carian princess, Ada. The army
had just halted for the midday meal, and Alexander with his staff was
sitting under a tree when the approach of the visitor was announced by
one of his outriders. Shortly afterwards she arrived, and, alighting from
her litter, advanced to salute the king.

The princess was a majestic figure, worthy, at least in look, of the
noble race from which she sprang. She was nearly seventy years of age,
and her hair was white; but her face was unwrinkled, her form erect,
and her step light and vigorous. Alexander, who had not forgotten to
make himself acquainted with Carian politics, advanced to meet her, and
kissed her hand. “Welcome, my son, to my land,” she said, as she kissed
him on the cheek. She then seated herself on a chair which a page had
set for her, and told her story. Briefly, it was a complaint against her
brother and the Persian king who had dispossessed her of her throne.
“My brother took it; the Great King has supported him in his wrong. My
ancestors fought for his house at Salamis, and was faithful to it when
others failed; and this is his gratitude. It is enough; we Carians have
never been slaves, and, if he will not have us for friends, we will be
enemies.[25] One fortress the robber has not been able to filch from me.
That is yours, and all that it contains. My people love not these Persian
tyrants, and they will help you for my sake. One favour I ask. The gods
have not given me the blessing of children; will you be my son? I shall
be more than content, for the gods could scarcely have allowed me an
offspring so noble.”

Alexander kneeled before her; “Mother,” he said, “give me your blessing.
I have now another wrong to avenge on these insolent Persians. And
remember that Caria, when I shall have wrested it from the hand of these
usurpers, is yours.”

The siege of Halicarnassus was a formidable undertaking. A wall of
unusual height and strength surrounded the town, and the wall was
protected by the outer defence of a moat, more than forty feet wide and
twenty deep. Two citadels overlooked the town; and the besieged, besides
being well provided with food and ammunition, had the command of the sea.
The harbour, itself strongly fortified, was occupied by the Persian fleet.

The first efforts of the besiegers failed. An attack on the north-east of
the town was repulsed with loss; and an attempt to take the neighbouring
town of Myndos, from which Alexander hoped to operate with advantage
against Halicarnassus, was equally unsuccessful. The king then moved his
army to the west side of the town, and commenced the siege in regular
form. The soldiers, working under the protection of pent-houses, which
could be moved from place to place, filled up the ditch for a distance of
seven hundred yards, so that their engines could be brought up close to
the walls.

But these operations took time, and the army, intoxicated by its rapid
success—in the course of a few weeks it had conquered the north-western
provinces of Lesser Asia—loudly murmured at the delay which was keeping
it so long before the walls of a single town.

About a month after the commencement of the siege, Parmenio, who was in
chief command of the infantry, gave a great banquet to the officers of
the light division, at which Charidemus, in virtue of his commission, and
his Theban friend, by special invitation, were present. The occasion was
the king’s birthday, and Alexander himself honoured the entertainment
with his company for a short time in the earlier part of the evening. He
was received, of course, with enthusiastic cheers, which were renewed
again and again when he thanked the guests for their good will, and ended
by pledging them in a cup of wine. Still a certain disappointment was
felt when he withdrew without uttering a word about the prospects of the
siege. There had been a general hope that he would have held out hopes of
an immediate assault. The fact was that the battering rams had levelled
to the ground a considerable distance of the wall, including two of the
towers, and that a third tower was evidently tottering to its fall. If
many of the older soldiers would have preferred to wait till the breach
should have been made more practicable, the common opinion amongst the
younger men was that the place might be stormed at once.

When the king had left the banqueting tent, there was a general
loosening of tongues among the guests. The senior officers, sitting near
Parmenio at the upper end of the table, were sufficiently discreet in
the expression of their opinions, but the juniors were less prudent and
self-restrained.

“What ails our Achilles?” cried one of them, Meleager by name, who had
been applying himself with more than common diligence to the wine-flask.
“Is he going to play the part of Ulysses? If so, we shall have to wait
long enough before we find our way into Troy. And if a single town is to
keep us for months, how many years must we reckon before we can get to
Susa? The breach, in my judgment, is practicable enough; and unless we
are quick in trying it, the townsmen will have finished their new wall
behind it, and we shall have all our labour over again.”

A hum of applause greeted the speaker as he sat down. A noisy discussion
followed as to the point where the assault might be most advantageously
delivered. When it was concluded—and this was not till a polite message
had come down from the head of the table that a little more quiet
would be desirable—it was discovered that Meleager and his inseparable
friend Amyntas had left the tent. This was sufficiently surprising, for
they were both deep drinkers, and were commonly found among the latest
lingering guests wherever the wine was good and plentiful.

“What has come to the Inseparables?” asked one of the company. “Has the
wine been too much for them? Meleager seemed a little heated when he
spoke, but certainly not more advanced than he usually is at this hour.”

The next speaker treated the suggestion with contempt. “Meleager,” he
said, “and Amyntas, too, for that matter, could drink a cask of this
Myndian stuff without its turning their brains or tying their tongues.
It may be as good as they say for a man’s stomach, but there is not much
body in it. No; they are up to some mischief, you may depend upon it.”

“Run to the tent of Meleager,” said the officer who sat at the lower end
of the table to one of the attendants, “and say that we are waiting for
him.”

The lad went on the errand and returned in a few minutes. He brought
back the news that neither of the occupants of the tent were there; and
he added an interesting piece of information which, being an intelligent
young fellow, he had gathered on his way, that they had been seen to come
back, and to go out again with their weapons and armour.

“It was odd,” said Charidemus, who had his own idea about the matter,
“that Meleager had nothing to say about the place where the breach might
be best stormed, when we consider the speech he made.”

Some one here remarked that he had observed the two Inseparables
whispering together while the discussion was going on.

“Then,” cried Charidemus, “depend upon it, they have gone to make a try
for themselves.”

“Impossible!” said one of the guests. “What, these two! They cannot have
been such madmen!”

“If they have,” laughed another, “this Myndian vintage must be more
potent, or our friends’ brains weaker, than Pausanias thinks.”

But the incredulity with which this astonishing suggestion was at first
received soon gave way to the belief that it was not only possibly, but
even probably, true. The two friends were notorious dare-devils; and the
fact that they had taken their arms with them was, considering that they
were neither of them on duty for the night, almost conclusive.

“Run to Parmenio’s tent,” said Charidemus’ superior officer to him, “and
tell him what we suppose.”

The young man overtook the general before he had reached his quarters,
and told his story. Parmenio, as may be supposed, was greatly annoyed
at having his hand forced in this way. “The Furies seize the hot-headed
young fools! Are they in command or am I—not to speak of the king? They
have made their pudding; let them eat of it. I shall not risk any man’s
life on such hare-brained follies.”

As he was speaking, the king himself, who was making a nightly round
among the men’s quarters, came up. Parmenio told him the story, and was
not a little surprised at the way in which he took it.

“Ah,” said the king, “perhaps they are right. After all, we must be
audacious, if we are to succeed. Life is short, and the world is large;
and if we are to conquer it, we cannot afford to wait. It is madness,
as you say; but sometimes madness is an inspiration of the gods.
Perhaps, after all, they will have shown us the way. Anyhow, they must
be supported. Go,” he went on, addressing himself to Charidemus, “and
get all the volunteers you can to follow at once. And you, Parmenio, get
three companies under arms at once.”

The young officer found that the king’s commands had been anticipated.
The volunteers were ready, and, hurrying up at the double, found that
they had just come in time. Meleager and Amyntas had been at first
astonishingly successful. So absolutely unlooked-for was their attack,
that the party told off by the commander of the garrison to defend the
weak point in the defences of the city was taken completely by surprise.
Man after man was cut down almost without resistance, and the survivors,
who did not realize that their assailants were but a simple pair, began
to retire in confusion. But such a panic naturally did not last long.
The clash of swords attracted other defenders from the neighbouring
parts of the walls, and the Inseparables found themselves hard pressed.
They had indeed been parted by the rush of the enemy. Amyntas had set
his back against a broken piece of wall, and was defending himself with
desperate courage against some half-dozen assailants; Meleager had been
forced about twenty yards backwards, and at the moment of the arrival of
the Macedonian volunteers, had been brought to his knees by a blow from
the sword of a Theban refugee. A furious conflict ensued. Reinforcements
hurried up from within the walls, and for a time the besiegers were
forced back. But when the regular Macedonian infantry appeared upon
the scene, the aspect of affairs was changed, and the garrison could
no longer hold their own. Indeed, it became evident that if proper
preparations had been made, the town might have been taken there and then.

“You see that the madmen were inspired after all,” said Alexander to
Parmenio.

Meanwhile one of the two original assailants was in serious danger. The
tide of battle had left him stranded, so to speak, and alone, and a
disabling wound on the right knee prevented him from regaining the line
of his friends. His companion saw his predicament, and rushed to his
help, followed by a score of Macedonians, among whom were Charidemus and
Charondas. The rescue was successfully effected, but not without loss.
By this time the sky had become overcast, and the darkness was so thick
that it was necessary to suspend the attack. The signal for retreat was
accordingly sounded, and the besiegers hastened to retire within their
lines. At this moment a missile discharged at random from the walls
struck Charidemus on the head with a force that at once prostrated him
on the ground. Charondas, who was close by him when he fell, lifted
him on to his shoulders, and carried him as well as he could. But the
burden of a full-grown man—and the young Macedonian was unusually tall
and broad—was considerable, not to speak of the additional weight of his
armour, and Charondas, who had been slightly wounded in the course of the
struggle, fainted under the exertion. Partially recovering consciousness,
he struggled on for a few paces in the hope of getting help. Then he lost
his senses again. When he came to himself he was in the camp, but about
his friend nothing was known. The soldier who had carried the Theban off
had supposed him to be alone, and had unwittingly left his companion to
his fate.



CHAPTER VII

MEMNON


Charidemus was partially stunned by the blow. He retained, however, a
dim consciousness of what followed, and found afterwards, from such
information as he was able to obtain from friends and enemies, that his
impressions had not deceived him. First, then, he was aware of being
carried for a certain distance in the direction of the besiegers’ lines;
and, secondly, of this motion ceasing, not a little to his immediate
relief, and of his being left, as he felt, in peace. It was a fact, we
know, that his companion endeavoured to carry him off, and did succeed in
doing so for a few yards; we know also how he was compelled to abandon
his burden. The Macedonian’s next impression was of being carried exactly
the opposite way. He had even an indistinct remembrance of having passed
through a gateway, and of a debate being held over him and about him, a
debate which he guessed but with a very languid interest indeed—so spent
were all his forces of mind and body—might be to settle the question
of his life or death. After this, he was conscious of being carried
up a steep incline, not without joltings which caused him acute pain;
sometimes so overpowering as to make him, as he was afterwards told, lose
consciousness altogether. Finally came a feeling of rest, uneasy indeed,
but still most welcome after the almost agonizing sensations which had
preceded it. This condition lasted, as he subsequently learnt, for nearly
three days and nights, causing by its persistence, unbroken as it was by
any hopeful symptoms, no small fears for his life. Relief was given by
the skill of a local physician, possibly the Diopeithes whose name and
praise still survive among the monuments of Halicarnassëan worthies which
time has spared and modern research disinterred.[26]

This experienced observer discovered that a minute splinter of bone
was pressing on the brain, and removed it by a dexterous operation.
The patient was instantaneously restored to the full possession of his
senses. Diopeithes (so we will call him) thought it best, however, to
administer a sleeping draught, and it was late in the morning of the
following day before the young man could satisfy his curiosity as to the
events which had befallen him.

One thing indeed became evident to him at almost the very moment of his
waking. He knew that he must be in one of the two citadels of the town,
for he could see from his bed, and that in a way which showed it to be
slightly below him, the splendid building which, under the name of the
Mausoleum, was known as one of the “Seven Wonders of the World.” It was
then in all the freshness of its first splendour, for little more than
ten years had passed since its completion. The marble steps which rose in
a pyramid of exquisite proportions shone with a dazzling whiteness. The
graceful columns with their elaborately sculptured capitals, the finely
proportioned figures of Carian and Greek heroes of the past, the majestic
lions that seemed, after the Greek fashion, to watch the repose of the
dead king, and, crowning all, Mausolus himself in his chariot reining in
the “breathing bronze” of his four fiery steeds—these combined to form
a marvel of richness and beauty. After nature and man had wrought their
worst upon it for fifteen hundred years, a traveller of the twelfth
century could still say, “It was and is a wonder.” What it was as it came
fresh from the hand of sculptor and architect it would be difficult to
imagine.

Charidemus was busy contemplating the beauties of the great monument when
a slave entered bringing with him the requisites for the toilet. After a
short interval another presented himself with the materials of a meal, a
piece of roast flesh, a loaf of bread, cheese, a bunch of dried grapes,
a small flagon of wine, and another of water, freshly drawn from the
well, and deliciously cool.

By the time the prisoner had done justice to his fare, a visitor entered
the apartment. In the new-comer he recognized no less important a
personage than the great Memnon himself. Charidemus had seen him at
the Granīcus, making desperate efforts to stem the tide of defeat; and
he knew him well by reputation as the one man who might be expected
to hold his own in a battle against Alexander himself. Memnon was a
man of about fifty, of a tall and commanding figure, with bright and
penetrating eyes, and a nose that, without wholly departing from the
Greek type, had something of the curve which we are accustomed to
associate with the capacity of a leader of men. But he had a decided
appearance of ill-health; his cheeks were pale and wasted, with a spot of
hectic colour, and his frame was painfully attenuated. He acknowledged
the presence of his prisoner with a very slight salutation, and after
beckoning to the secretary who accompanied him to take a seat and make
preparations for writing, proceeded to put some questions through an
interpreter. He spoke in Greek, and the interpreter, in whom Charidemus
recognized a soldier of his own company, translated what he said into the
Macedonian dialect.

The first question naturally concerned his name and rank in Alexander’s
army. Charidemus, who indeed spoke Macedonian with much less fluency
than he spoke Greek, ventured to address his answer directly to the
great man himself. The effect was magical. The cold and stern expression
disappeared from the commander’s face, and was replaced by a pleasant and
genial smile.

“What!” he cried, “you are a Greek, and, if I do not mistake the
accent—though, indeed, an Athenian could not speak better—you are a
Dorian.”

Charidemus explained that his mother was an Argive woman, and that he had
spent all his early years in the Peloponnese.

“Then I was right about the Dorian,” said the Memnon, in a still more
friendly tone. “My heart always warms to hear the broad ‘a’ of our common
race; for we are kinsmen. I came, as I daresay you know, from Rhodes. But
come, let us have a chat together; we can do without our friends here.”

He dismissed the secretary and the interpreter. When they were gone, he
turned to Charidemus. “Now tell me who you are. But, first, are you quite
sure that you are strong enough for a talk? Diopeithes tells me that he
has found out and removed the cause of your trouble; and he knows his
business as well as any man upon earth; but I should like to hear it from
your own lips.”

The young man assured him that he was perfectly recovered, and then
proceeded to give him an outline of the story with which my readers are
already acquainted.

“Well,” said Memnon, when the end was reached, “I have nothing to
reproach you with. For the matter of that, you might, with much more
reason, reproach me. Why should I, a Greek of the Greeks, for I claim
descent from Hercules himself,” he added, with a smile, “why should I
be found fighting for the Persians, for the very people who would have
turned us into bondmen if they could? Ask me that question, and I must
confess that I cannot answer it. All I can say is that I have found the
Great King an excellent master, a generous man who can listen to the
truth, and take good advice, which is more, by the way, than I can say
for some of his lieutenants. And then his subjects are tolerably well
off; I don’t think that they improve their condition by coming under the
rule of Spartan warriors or Athenian generals, so far as I have had an
opportunity of seeing anything of these gentlemen. What your Alexander
may do for them, if he gets the chance, is more than I can say. But I am
quite sure that if he manages to climb into the throne of the Great King,
he will not find it a comfortable seat.”

After a short pause, during which he seemed buried in thought, the
commander began again. “I won’t ask you any questions which you might
think it inconsistent with your duty to your master to answer. In fact,
there is no need for me to do so. I fancy that I know pretty nearly
everything that you could tell me. Thanks to my spies I can reckon to a
few hundreds how many men your king can bring into the field; I have a
shrewd idea of how much money he has in his military chest, and of how
much he owes—the first, I am quite sure, is a very small sum, and the
second a very big one. As for his plans, I wish that I knew more about
them; but then you could not help me, if you would. But that he has great
plans, I am sure; and it will take all that we can do, and more too,
unless I am much mistaken, to baffle them.”

He paused, and walked half-a-dozen times up and down the room, meditating
deeply, and sometimes talking in a low voice to himself.

“Perhaps you may wonder,” he began again, “why, if I don’t expect to get
any information out of you, I don’t let you go. To tell you the plain
truth, I cannot afford it. You are worth something to me, and we are not
so well off that I can make any present to my adversaries. Macedonian
or Greek, you are a person of importance, and I shall have to make use
of you—always,” the speaker went on, laying his hand affectionately on
the young man’s shoulder, “always in as agreeable and advantageous a way
to yourself as I can possibly manage. Perhaps I may be able to exchange
you; but for the present you must be content to be my guest, if you
will allow me to call myself your host. I only wish I could entertain
you better. I can’t recommend a walk, for your friends outside keep
the place a little too lively with their catapults. Books, I fear, are
somewhat scarce. Halicarnassus, you know, was never a literary place. It
produced one great writer, and appreciated him so little as positively
to drive him away.[27] As for myself, I have not had the opportunity or
the taste for collecting books. Still there are a few rolls, Homer and
our Aristophanes among them, I know, with which you may while away a few
hours; there is a slave-boy who can play a very good game of draughts,
if you choose to send for him; and you can go over the Mausoleum there,
which is certainly worth looking at. And now farewell for the present! We
shall meet at dinner. I, as you may suppose, have got not a few things to
look after.”

With this farewell Memnon left the room, but came back in a few moments.
“I am half-ashamed,” he said, in an apologetic tone, “to mention the
matter to a gentleman like yourself; still it is a matter of business,
and you will excuse it. I took it for granted that you give me your word
not to escape.”

Charidemus gave the required promise, and his host then left him, but
not till he had repeated in the most friendly fashion his invitation to
dinner. “We dine at sunset,” he said, “but a slave will give you warning
when the time approaches.”

Charidemus found the literary resources of his quarters more extensive
than he had been led to expect. By the help of these, and of a long and
careful inspection of the Mausoleum, he found no difficulty in passing
the day.

Dinner was a very cheerful meal. The party consisted of four—the two
to whom my readers have not yet been introduced being Barsiné, a lady
of singular beauty, and as accomplished as she was fair; and Nicon, an
Athenian of middle age, who was acting as tutor to Memnon’s son. Nicon
was a brilliant talker. He had lived many years in Athens, and had heard
all the great orators, whose manner he could imitate with extraordinary
skill. Plato, too, he had known well; indeed, he had been his disciple,
one of the twenty-eight who had constituted the inner circle, all of
them duly fortified with the knowledge of geometry,[28] to whom the
philosopher imparted his most intimate instructions. Aristotle, not to
mention less distinguished names, had been one of his class-fellows.
But if Nicon’s conversation was extraordinarily varied and interesting,
it was not more than a match for Barsiné’s. Charidemus listened with
amazement to the wit and learning which she betrayed in her talk—betrayed
rather than displayed—for she had no kind of ostentation or vanity about
her. Her intelligence and knowledge was all the more amazing because she
was a Persian by birth, had the somewhat languid beauty characteristic of
her race, and spoke Greek with an accent, delicate indeed, but noticeably
Persian. Memnon seemed glad to play the part of a listener rather than a
talker; though he would now and then interpose a shrewd observation which
showed that he was thoroughly competent to appreciate the conversation.
As for the young Macedonian, he would have been perfectly content to
spend the whole evening in silent attention to such talk as he had never
heard before; but Nicon skilfully drew him out, and as he was a clever
and well-informed young man, he acquitted himself sufficiently well.

[Illustration: BARSINÉ.]



CHAPTER VIII

AT SEA


It was not for long, however, that Charidemus was destined to enjoy these
somewhat lonely days, and evenings that seemed only too short. About a
week after the day on which he made his first acquaintance with Memnon
and his wife, he was roused from his sleep about an hour before dawn by a
visit from the governor himself.

“Dress yourself at once,” said Memnon, “I will wait for you.”

“We can hold the place no longer,” the governor explained to his
prisoner, as they hurried down the steep path that led from the citadel
to the harbour. “I am leaving a garrison in the citadels, but the town is
lost. Luckily for me, though not, perhaps, for you, I have still command
of the sea.”

The harbour was soon reached. Memnon’s ship was waiting for him, and put
off the moment the gangway was withdrawn; the rest of the squadron had
already gained the open sea.

“You must make yourself as comfortable as you can on deck; the ladies
have the cabin. Happily the night is fine, and our voyages hereabouts are
not very long. The Ægean is the very Elysium of fair-weather sailors.”

Charidemus rolled himself up in the cloak with which, at Memnon’s
bidding, a sailor had furnished him, and slept soundly, under one of the
bulwarks, till he was awakened by the increasing heat of the sun. When
he had performed as much of a toilet as the means at his disposal would
permit, he was joined by Memnon, and conducted to the after-deck, where
the breakfast table had been spread under an awning of canvas.

Presently the ladies appeared. Barsiné was one of them; the other was a
very beautiful girl, who may have numbered thirteen or fourteen summers.
“My niece, Clearista,” said Memnon, “daughter,” he added in a whisper,
“of my brother Mentor;” and then aloud, “The most troublesome charge that
a poor uncle was ever plagued with.” The damsel shook her chestnut locks
at him, and turned away with a pout, which was about as sincere as her
uncle’s complaint. The next moment a lad of ten, who had been trailing a
baited hook over the stern, made his appearance. This was Memnon’s son,
another Mentor. His tutor, the Nicon, whose acquaintance we have already
made, followed him, and the party was now complete.

It was Clearista’s first voyage, and her wonder and delight were beyond
expression. The sea, calm as a mirror, and blue as a sapphire, under
a cloudless sky; the rhythmic dash of the oars as they rose and fell
in time to the monotonous music of the fugleman standing high upon the
stern; the skimming flight of the sea-birds as they followed the galley
in the hope of some morsels of food; the gambols of a shoal of dolphins,
playing about so near that it seemed as if they must be struck by the
oars or even run down by the prow—these, and all the sights and sounds
of the voyage fairly overpowered her with pleasure. Everything about her
seemed to breathe of freedom; and she had scarcely ever been outside the
door of the women’s apartments, or, at most, the walks of a garden. Who
can wonder at her ecstasy? Memnon and Barsiné looked on with indulgent
smiles. Young Mentor, who had seen a good deal more of the world than had
his cousin, felt slightly superior. As for Charidemus he lost his heart
on the spot. Child as she was—and she was young for her years—Clearista
seemed to him the most beautiful creature that he had ever beheld.

The day’s companionship did not fail to deepen this impression. With a
playful imperiousness, which had not a touch of coquetry in it, the girl
commanded his services, and he was more than content to fetch and carry
for her from morning till night. He brought her pieces of bread when it
occurred to her that she should like to feed the gulls; he baited her
hook when she conceived the ambition of catching a fish; and he helped
her to secure the small sword-fish which she was lucky enough to hook,
but was far too frightened to pull up. When the sun grew so hot as to
compel her to take shelter under the awning the two told each other their
stories. The girl’s was very brief and uneventful, little more than the
tale of journeys, mostly performed in a closed litter, from one town to
another; but the young man thought it profoundly interesting. He, on
the other hand, had really something to tell, and she listened with a
flattering mixture of wonder, admiration, and terror. Towards evening
the unwonted excitement had fairly worn her out, and she was reluctantly
compelled to seek her cabin.

Our hero was gazing somewhat disconsolately over the bulwarks when he
felt a hand laid upon his shoulder. He turned, and saw Memnon standing
behind him with a somewhat sad smile upon his face.

“Melancholy, my young friend?” he said. “Well, I have something to
tell you that may cheer you up. I did not forget you yesterday when
we left the town. Of course it would not have done to let your people
get any inkling of my plans. If they had guessed that we were going to
evacuate the place, they might have given us a good deal of trouble in
getting off. So instead of sending any message myself, I left one for
the commander of the garrison to send as soon as we were safely gone.
Briefly, it was to say that I was ready to exchange you for any one of
four prisoners-of-war whom I named—I might have said all four without
making a particularly good bargain, for, if you will allow a man who
is old enough to be your father to say so, I like your looks. If they
accepted—and I cannot suppose for a moment that they will hesitate—they
were to send out a boat with a flag of truce from Miletus, where we shall
be in two hours’ time or so, if the weather holds good. Then we shall
have to say good-bye.”

“I shall never forget your kindness,” cried Charidemus.

“Well, my son, some day you may be able to make me or mine a return for
it.”

“Command me,” answered the young man in a tone of unmistakeable
sincerity; “you shall be heartily welcome to anything that I can do for
you or yours.”

“Listen then,” said Memnon. “First, there is something that you can do
for me. Perhaps it is a foolish vanity, but I should like to be set right
some day in the eyes of the world. You will keep what I am going to tell
you to yourself till you think that the proper time for telling it is
come. I shall be gone then, but I should not like those that come after
me to think that I was an incompetent fool. Well, then, your king never
ought to have been allowed to land in Asia. We could have prevented it.
We had the command of the sea. We had only to bring up the Phœnician
squadron, which was doing nothing at all, and our force would have been
perfectly overwhelming. Look at the state of affairs now! Your king has
positively disbanded his fleet. He knew perfectly well that it had not a
chance with ours, and that it was merely a useless expense to him. Just
as we could now prevent him from returning, so we could have prevented
him from coming. For, believe me, we were as strong in ships six months
ago as we are now, and I urged this on the king with all my might. He
seemed persuaded. But he was overborne. Some headstrong fools, who
unfortunately had his ear, could not be content, forsooth, but they must
measure their strength with Alexander. So he was allowed to come, to land
his army without losing a single man. Still, even then, something might
have been done. I knew that we could not bring an army into the field
that could stand against him for an hour. The Persians never were a match
for the Greeks, man to man; and besides, the Persians are nothing like
what they were a hundred and fifty years ago. And the Greek mercenaries
could not be relied upon. They were the scum of the cities, and many of
them no more Greeks than they are gods. Any man who had a smattering
of Greek, and could manage to procure an old suit of armour, could get
himself hired; and very likely the only thing Greek about him was his
name, and that he had stolen. Well, I knew that such as they were, and
without a leader, too—even the best mercenaries without a leader go for
very little—they would be worth next to nothing. So I went to Arsites,
who was satrap of Phrygia, and in chief command, and said to him, ‘Don’t
fight; we shall most infallibly be beaten. There is nothing in Asia that
can stand against the army which we have allowed Alexander to bring over.
Fall back before him; waste the country as you go, burn the houses;
burn even the towns, if you do not like to detach men enough to hold
them. Don’t let the enemy find a morsel to eat that he has not brought
himself, or a roof to shelter him that he does not himself put up. And
then attack him at home. He has brought all the best of his army with
him. What he has left behind him to garrison his own dominions is very
weak indeed, poor troops, and not many of them. And then he has enemies
all round him. The Thracians on the north are always ready for a fight,
and in the south there are the Greeks, who hate him most fervently, and
have a long score against him and his father, which they would dearly
like to wipe out. Half the men that you have with you here, and who will
be scattered like clouds before the north-wind, if you try to meet him
in battle, will raise such a storm behind him in his own country that he
will have no choice but to turn back.’ Well, Arsites would not listen
to me. ‘If you are afraid,’ he said, ‘you can go, you and your men; we
shall be able to do very well without you. As for wasting the country and
burning the houses, the idea is monstrous. The king has given it into
my sole keeping, and there it shall be. Not a field shall be touched,
not a house shall be burnt in my province. As for dividing the army,
and sending half of it into Europe, it is madness. What good did Darius
and Xerxes get by sending armies thither? No—the man has chosen to dare
us on our ground, and we will give him a lesson which he and his people
will never forget.’ I urged my views again, and then the fellow insulted
me. ‘Of course,’ he said, ‘it does not suit you to put an end to the
war. The more it is prolonged, the more necessary you will be thought.’
After that, of course, there was nothing more to be said. We fought, and
everything happened exactly as I had foretold. Then the king made me
commander-in-chief; but it was too late. I shall be able to do something
with the fleet, of course; I shall get hold of some of the islands; but
what good will that do when your Alexander is marching, perhaps, on Susa?”

He paused for a while, and took a few turns upon the deck, then he began
again.

“As for myself, the end is very near; I have not many months to live. I
should like to have measured my strength with this Alexander of yours
without having a pack of incompetent satraps to hamper me. Perhaps it is
as well for me and my reputation that I never shall. You know my name is
not exactly a good omen. He calls himself the descendant of Achilles, and
verily I can believe it. Any one who saw him fighting by the river bank
on the day of the Granīcus might well have thought that it was Achilles
come to life again, just as he was when he drove the Trojans through the
Xanthus. How gloriously handsome he was! what blows he dealt! Well, you
remember—though I don’t think it is in Homer,[29] that there was another
Memnon who fought with the son of Peleus, and came off the worse; and I
might do the same. Doubtless it was in the fates that all this should
happen. I have felt for some time that the end was coming for the Great
King; though, as I think I told you the other day, I am not at all sure
that the change from Darius to Alexander will be for the better. And
now for my present concerns. My wife and child are going to Susa. It is
the way with the Persians to take a man’s family as hostages when they
put him into a place of trust. Under other circumstances I might have
refused. If the Persians wanted my services they must have been content
to have them on my own terms. As it is, I do not object. My people will
be safer there than anywhere else where I can put them. And that sweet
child Clearista will go with them. But I feel troubled about them; they
have that fatal gift of beauty. Good Gods, why do ye make women so fair?
they break men’s hearts and their own. And there is little Mentor too. My
elder sons—children, you will understand, of my first wife—can take care
of themselves; but my wife and my niece and the dear boy are helpless.
Now what I want you to promise is that, if you can, you will protect
them. Your Alexander may reach Susa; I think he will; I do not see what
there is to stop him. If he does, and you are with him, think of me, and
do what you can to help them.”

The young man felt a great wave of love and pity surge up in his heart as
this appeal was made to him.

“By Zeus and all the gods in heaven,” he cried, “I will hold them as dear
as my own life.”

“The gods reward you for it,” said Memnon, wringing his young friend’s
hand, while the unaccustomed tears gathered in his eyes.

Then silence fell between the two. It was interrupted by the approach of
a sailor.

“My lord,” said the man, addressing himself to Memnon, “there is a boat
coming out from Miletus with a flag of truce.”

“Ha!” cried Memnon, “they are sending for you. Well I am sorry to part.
But it is for your good, and for mine too, for I trust you as I would
trust my own son.”

Turning to the man who had brought the message, he said, “I expected the
boat. Tell the captain from me to lie to till she boards us.”

When the little craft drew near enough for the occupants to be
distinguished, Memnon burst into a laugh. “Ah!” he said, “they have put
a proper value on you, my young friend. They have positively sent all
four. I did not like, as I told you, to ask for more than one; but here
they all are. It is not exactly a compliment to them; but they won’t mind
that, if they get their freedom.”

Very shortly afterwards the boat came alongside; and a Macedonian officer
climbed up the side of the galley. He made a profoundly respectful
salutation to Memnon, and then presented a letter. The document ran thus:

    “_Alexander, King of the Macedonians, and Commander of the
    United Armies of the Hellenes to Memnon, Commander of the
    Armies of the King, greeting._

    “_I consent to the exchange which you propose. But as I would
    not be as Diomed, who gave brass in exchange for gold, I send
    you the four prisoners whom you mention, in exchange for
    Charidemus the Macedonian. Farewell._”

The letter had been written by a secretary, but it had the bold
autograph of Alexander, signed across it.

“My thanks to the king your master, who is as generous as he is brave,”
was the message which Memnon gave to the officer in charge. The four
exchanged prisoners now made their way up the side of the ship, were
courteously received by Memnon, and bidden to report themselves to the
captain.

“Will your lordship please to sign this receipt for the prisoners?” said
the Macedonian officer.

This was duly done.

“Will you drink a cup of wine?” asked Memnon.

The officer thanked him for his politeness, but declined. He was under
orders to return without delay.

“Then,” said Memnon, “your countryman shall accompany you directly. You
will give him a few moments to make his adieus.”

The Macedonian bowed assent, and the two descended into the cabin.
Barsiné was sitting busy with her needle by the side of a couch on which
Clearista lay fast asleep.

“Our young friend leaves us immediately,” said Memnon to his wife; “I
proposed an exchange, as you know, and it has been accepted. The boat is
waiting to take him ashore. He is coming to say farewell.”

“We are sorry to lose you,” said Barsiné, “more sorry, I fancy, than you
are to go.”

“Lady,” said Charidemus, “you put me in a sore strait when you say such
a thing. All my future lies elsewhere; but at least I can cherish the
recollection of your kindness. Never, surely, had a prisoner less reason
to wish for freedom.”

“And now,” said Memnon, in as light a tone as he could assume, “I should
like to give our young friend a keepsake. It is possible that you may
meet him at Susa.”

“Meet him at Susa,” echoed Barsiné, in astonishment, “how can that be?”

“My darling,” returned Mentor, “if our people cannot make any better
stand against Alexander than they did at the Granīcus, there is no reason
why he should not get to Susa, or anywhere else for that matter.”

Barsiné turned pale, for lightly as her husband spoke, she knew that he
meant something very serious indeed.

“Yes,” continued her husband, “you may meet him there, and he may be able
to be of some use to you. I give him, you see, this ring;” he took, as
he spoke, a ring set with a handsome sapphire from a casket that stood
near. “If he can help you I know he will come himself, if anything should
hinder him from doing that, he will give it to some one whom he can
trust. Put yourself and your children in his hands, or in the hands of
his deputy.”

“Oh! why do you talk like this?” cried Barsiné.

“Darling,” replied Memnon, “it is well to be prepared for everything.
This invasion _may_ come to nothing. But if it does not, if Alexander
does make his way to the capital—well, it is not to me you will have to
look for help; by that time I shall——”

The poor woman started up and laid her hand upon the speaker’s mouth.

“Good words, good words!” she cried.

He smiled. “You are right, for as your favourite Homer says:

    “‘In sooth on the knees of the gods lieth all whereof we speak.’

And now give him something yourself that he may remember you by.”

She detached a locket that hung round her neck, and put it into his hand.
He raised it respectfully to his lips.

“And Clearista—she might spare something. Artemis bless the child!
how soundly she sleeps!” said Memnon, looking affectionately at the
slumbering girl. And indeed the voices of the speakers had failed to
rouse her. Exquisitely lovely did she look as she slept, her cheek tinged
with a delicate flush, her lips parted in a faint smile, her chestnut
hair falling loosely over the purple coverlet of the couch.

“The darling won’t mind a curl,” said Memnon; “put that in my wife’s
locket, and you will remember both of them together;” and he cut off a
little ringlet from the end of a straggling lock.

One of the sailors tapped at the cabin door.

“Yes; we are coming,” said Memnon. The young man caught Barsiné’s hand
and pressed it to his lips; he knelt down and imprinted a gentle kiss on
Clearista’s right hand. She smiled in her sleep, but still did not wake.
A few moments afterwards he was in the boat, Memnon pressing into his
hand at the last moment a purse, which he afterwards found to contain a
roll of thirty Darics and some valuable jewels. In the course of an hour
he stepped on to the quay of Miletus, a free man, but feeling curiously
little pleasure in his recovered liberty.



CHAPTER IX

IN GREECE AGAIN


On landing at Miletus Charidemus found a letter from the king awaiting
him. After expressing his pleasure that he had been able to regain
services that were so valuable, and paying him the compliment of saying
that he considered the exchange had been very much to his own advantage,
Alexander continued, “I desire to see you so soon after you have regained
your liberty as you can contrive to come to me. You can journey either by
land or sea. In either case you have at your disposal all that you may
need. But I should advise that you come by sea, for I expect by the time
within which you can probably reach me to be not far from the coast of
Syria. The gods preserve you in the future as they have in the past!”

The officer in charge of the garrison of Miletus held very decidedly the
same opinion as the king. “You can understand,” he said, when Charidemus
went to report himself, “that the country is at present very unsettled.
When such an army as that we fought with at the Granīcus is broken up,
a great number of the men naturally become brigands. I do not doubt but
that every forest between here and Lycia is full of them. Even without
the brigands, the roads would hardly be safe. At present, you see, it is
all an enemy’s country, except where we have garrisons. No; you could
not travel without danger, unless I gave you all my garrison for an
escort. Of course there are risks by sea. In the first place, it is very
late for a voyage; and then there are Phœnician cruisers about. Still I
should strongly recommend this way of going; and, by good luck, I can
put the very fastest ship and the very best captain that we have at your
disposal. I will send for him, and you shall hear what he says.”

In about an hour’s time, accordingly, the captain presented himself, a
weather-beaten sailor, somewhat advanced in years, if one might judge
from his grizzled hair and beard, but as vigorous and alert as a youth.
He made light of the difficulty of the time of the year. “Give me a good
ship and a good crew, and I will sail at any time you please from one
equinox to the other; and let me say that you will not find a better ship
than the _Centaur_ between here and the Pillars of Hercules. As for the
crew, I can warrant them. I have trained them myself. And I am not much
afraid of Phœnician cruisers. Of course accidents may happen; but I know
that in a fair fight or a fair chase, the _Centaur_ and its crew can
hold their own against anything that ever came out of Tyre or Sidon. And
now, my good sir, when can you start? The sooner the better, I say, for
the Persians are busy just now in the north, and we may very well get to
our journey’s end without any trouble at all.”

Charidemus said that he had nothing to keep him in Miletus, and that
the speedier the start the better he would be pleased. Before sunrise
next morning, accordingly, the _Centaur_ was on its way, with a fresh
following breeze from the north that spared the rowers all trouble.
Halicarnassus was passed towards evening, and Rhodes the next day,
brilliant in the sunshine with which its patron, the sun-god, was said
always to favour it. The wind here began to fail them somewhat, as their
course became more easterly; but the sea was calm, and the rowers,
an admirably trained crew, who acknowledged no equals in the Western
Mediterranean, got over distances that would have seemed incredible to
their passenger had he not been an eye-witness of their accomplishment.
Pleusicles, the captain, was in high spirits, and brought out of the
store of his memory or his imagination yarn after yarn. He had begun
his seafaring life nearly forty years before under the Athenian admiral
Iphicrates—he was an Æginetan by birth—and had seen that commander’s
brilliant victory over the combined fleets of Sparta and Syracuse.[30] He
had been in every naval battle that had been fought since then; first
in the service of Athens, and then, either from some offence given or
from unpunctuality in the matter of payment, going over to Philip of
Macedon. Intervals of peace he had employed in commercial enterprises.
He knew the Mediterranean from end to end, from Tyre to the Pillars,
from Cyrene to Massilia. From Massilia, indeed, he had gone on his most
adventurous voyage. A Greek traveller, Pytheas by name, had engaged
him for an expedition which was to explore regions altogether unknown.
Pleusicles related how they had sailed through the Straits of Calpe[31]
into the immeasurable Ocean beyond, how they had with difficulty forced
their way through leagues of matted sea-weed, and had come after months
of difficult travel to an island in the northern sea, a land of much
rain and little sunshine, where on a narrow strip of open ground between
vast forests and the sea the natives cultivated some precarious crops
of corn.[32] Of so much Pleusicles had been himself an eye-witness:
but there were greater marvels of which he knew only by hearsay, a yet
remoter island surrounded by what was neither land nor sea nor air, but
a mixture of all, one huge jelly-fish, as it were, and a tribe with whom
amber, a rare and precious thing among the Greeks, was so abundant that
it was used as firewood.

On the third day the _Centaur_ reached Patara on the Lycian coast, and on
the next the Greek city of Phaselis. Here Charidemus found the king, who
was engaged in one of those literary episodes with which he was wont to
relieve his military life. The pride of Phaselis was its famous citizen,
Theodectes, poet and orator. He had been the pupil, or rather the friend,
of Aristotle. As such Alexander had known him when he himself had sat
at the feet of the great philosopher. Indeed, though there was as much
as twenty years difference between their ages, the prince and the poet
had themselves been friends. Theodectes had died the year before in the
very prime of life, and his fellow-citizens had exerted themselves to do
him all possible honour. They had given the commission for his statue to
Praxiteles, the first sculptor of the time, paying him a heavy fee of
two talents,[33] a sum which severely taxed their modest resources. The
statue had just then been set up. And now, by a piece of singular good
fortune, as they thought it, the townsfolk had the future conqueror of
Asia to inaugurate it. The king took a part in the sacrifice, crowned the
statue with garlands, was present with some of his principal officers
at the representation of a tragedy by the deceased author, and laughed
heartily at the concluding farce in which the story of the healing of
Cheiron, the Centaur, was ludicrously travestied.

[Illustration: APOLLO AND CHEIRON.]

Early the next day Charidemus was summoned to the royal presence. The
king greeted him with more than his usual kindness, and proceeded to
explain the business in which he proposed to employ him. “I am going
to send you,” he said, “first to Greece, and then home; I have not the
same reason,” he went on, with a smile, “that I had with Ptolemy and his
detachment, that they were newly married.[34] But for the next three
months or so there will be very little doing here, and you can be more
profitably employed elsewhere. First, you must go to Athens. You will be
in charge of an offering which I am sending to the goddess, three hundred
complete suits of armour from the spoils of the Granīcus. You should be
a _persona grata_ there. You are half an Argive, and the Argives have
always been on good terms with the Athenians. And then you speak good
Greek. If I were to send one of my worthy Macedonians they would laugh
at his accent; he might lose his temper, and all the grace of the affair
would be lost. That, then, is your mission, as far as the world sees it;
you will take sealed instructions about other matters which you will not
open till you have crossed the sea.... The offering is all ready; in
fact, it was lying shipped at Miletus when you landed there. But I wanted
to see you, and to be sure also that you received my instructions. These
you shall have at sunset. When you have received them, start back at
once.”

Punctually at sunset one of the royal pages brought a roll of parchment
sealed with the royal seal. Charidemus, who had been waiting on board the
_Centaur_ for it, gave a formal receipt for it, and within half an hour
was on his way westward. The good ship and her picked crew had better
opportunities for showing their mettle than had occurred on the eastward
journey. Things were easy enough as long as they were under the lee of
the Lycian coast; but at Rhodes a strong head wind encountered them; and
it was only after a hard struggle of at least twelve days, during which
even the bold Pleusicles thought more than once of turning back, that
they reached Miletus. By that time the weather had changed again; and
the voyage to Athens, though undertaken with fear and trembling by the
captains of the heavily-laden merchantmen that carried the armour, was
prosperous and uneventful.

Charidemus spent about a month in Athens, finding, as might have been
expected, a vast amount of things to interest, please, and astonish him.
Some of the impressions made upon him by what he saw and heard may be
gathered from extracts taken from letters which he wrote at this time to
his Theban friend.

“ ... The armour has been presented in the Temple of Athené Polias. A
more splendid spectacle I have never seen. They told me that it was
almost as fine as the great Panathenæa, the grand triennial festival
of which I dare say you have heard. The _Peplos_ was not there nor the
_Basket-bearers_[35]—I missed, you see, the chance of seeing the beauty,
though I saw the rank and fashion of Athens. But the magistrates were
there, in their robes of office, headed by the King Archon, and, behind
them a huge array of soldiers in complete armour, good enough to look
at, but poor stuff in a battle, I should fancy—indeed the Athenians have
long since done most of their fighting, I am told, by paid deputies.
The best of these troops was a battalion, several thousands strong, of
the ‘youths,’ as they called them. Students they are who do a little
soldiering by way of change after their books. They can march, and they
know their drill; and they are not pursy and fat, as are most of their
elders. Their armour and accoutrements are excellent. If their wits
are only as bright as their shields and their spear-points, they must
be clever fellows in the lecture-room. And the Temple itself! I simply
have not words to describe it and its splendours. And then there was
the great statue of the goddess outside the Temple; I had never seen it
close at hand, though I remember having had the point of the lance which
she holds in her hand and the crest of her helmet pointed out to me as I
was sailing along the coast. But the effect of the whole when one stands
by the pedestal is overpowering. Its magnificent stature—it is more
than forty cubits high[36]—its majestic face, its imposing attitude—she
is challenging the world, it would seem, on behalf of her favourite
city—all these things produce an impression that cannot be described.
It is made, you must understand, of bronze, and the simplicity of the
material impressed me more than the gorgeous ivory and gold of the Athené
Polias, as they call her. While I am talking about statues I must tell
you about one which I was allowed to see by special favour; it is made
of olive wood, and is of an age past all counting; the rudest shape that
can be imagined, but extraordinarily interesting. The keeper of the
Temple where it is (not the same as that of which I have been speaking,
but called, by way of distinction, the Old Temple) have a story that it
fell down from heaven. In the evening there was a great banquet in the
Town-hall, a very gorgeous affair, with delicacies brought from all the
four winds—pheasants from the Black Sea, and peacocks, and dolphins, and
I know not what in flesh, fish, and fowl. Of course the special Attic
dishes were prominent—honey, figs, and olives—and there were a great
choice of vintages. I was amazed at the abundance and luxury of the
entertainment, and could not help thinking that there was a great deal
of foolish waste. Far more interesting to me than the dishes and the
drinks were the guests. I do not mean the magistrates and generals, for
they had nothing particularly distinguished about them; I mean those who
have a permanent seat at the table. You must know that the Athenians have
an excellent custom of rewarding men who have done conspicuously good
service to the state by giving them such a seat. Of course I saw Phocion
there. I had seen him before in the king’s camp; and he has been very
civil and serviceable to me. I sat next to a veteran who was the oldest
of the public guests, and must have numbered fully a hundred years. What
a storehouse of recollections the old man’s mind was! Of recent things
and persons he knew nothing. When I was speaking of our king he stared
blankly at me. But he remembered the plague—his father and mother and all
his family died of it, he told me. His first campaign was in Sicily. He
had been taken prisoner and thrust into the stone quarries of Syracuse.
He could not bear to think, he told me, even now of the horrors of
the place. Then he had fought at Œgos-Potami,[37] and I know not where
else. His last service, I remember, was at Mantinea, where he was in
command of an Athenian contingent. He was seventy years old then, he
told me, but as vigorous, he boasted, as the youngest of them. He saw
your Epaminondas struck down, though he was not very near. And he was a
disciple of Socrates. ‘To think,’ he said, ‘that I should be dining here
at the State’s expense, and that he had the hemlock draught! I remember,’
he went on, ‘when he was put on his trial and had been found guilty, and
the president asked him to name his own penalty, he mentioned this very
honour that I enjoy. He deserved it much better, he said, for showing
his countrymen how foolish and ignorant they were, than if he had won a
victory at Olympia. What a stir of rage went through the assembly when he
said it! It quite settled the matter for the death penalty. And now here
am I and he—well he has his reward elsewhere, if what he always said is
true—and that I shall soon know.’ A most interesting old man is this, and
I must try to see him again.”

[Illustration: DEMOSTHENES.]

A week or two afterwards, he wrote again.

“I have seen Demosthenes. A young Athenian with whom I have become
acquainted introduced me to him. At first he was cold and distant. It
is no passport to his favour to be a Macedonian. Afterwards he became
sufficiently friendly, and we had much talk together. He is not as
hopeful as I am about the king’s undertaking. He thinks, indeed, that
it will succeed, though, very likely, in his heart he wishes that it
may not. But he does not expect much good from it. ‘So Greece, you
think,’ he said to me one day, ‘will conquer Persia. I doubt it. I don’t
doubt indeed that your Alexander will overrun Asia from one end to the
other. Philip was a great soldier, and his son is a greater, while your
Macedonians are the stuff out of which armies rightly so called are made.
Persia, on the other hand, is thoroughly rotten, and will fall almost
at a touch. But this is not the same thing as Greece conquering Persia.
No; Persia will conquer Greece; we shall be overwhelmed with a flood of
eastern vices and servilities. True Greece will perish, just as surely as
she would have perished had the bow triumphed over the spear at Marathon
or Platæa. But this will scarce be welcome to you,’ and he broke off.
Still what he said has set me thinking. Only I do believe that our king
is too thorough a Greek to be spoilt. But we shall see.

“I hoped to hear the great man speak, but was disappointed. He very
seldom speaks now. The fact is there are no politics in Athens; and
for the plaintiffs and defendants in civil causes the orators write
speeches, but do not deliver them. That the parties concerned have to
do themselves. I heard, it is true, a speech of Demosthenes, but it
was spoken by a very commonplace person, and, you will understand, was
made commonplace to suit him. Of course it would not do to put a piece
of eloquence into the mouth of some ordinary farmer or shipbuilder.
Everybody knows that the suitors do not write the speeches, but still the
proprieties have to be observed.

“The plaintiff in this case—his name was Ariston—had a very strange and
piteous story to tell. Unfortunately there was something about the man
that moved the court irresistibly to laughter. (The court, you must know,
is the strangest that the wit or folly of man ever devised—a regular mob
of thousands of men who shout and groan if anything displeases them,
and chatter or fall asleep if they are pleased to find the proceedings
dull.) Well, Ariston was an eminently respectable man; his hair and beard
carefully arranged without being in the least foppish, and his cloak and
tunic quite glossy; and the indignities of which he had to complain were
so out of keeping with all that he looked that it was almost impossible
not to be amused. His story was this, put briefly:

“Three years before (_i.e._, just before King Philip’s death) he had been
sent on outpost duty to the frontier. The sons of a certain Conon were
his neighbours in the bivouac, wild young fellows who began drinking
after the midday meal, and kept it up to nightfall. ‘Whereas,’ said he
in a dignified tone which raised a roar of laughter, ‘I conducted myself
there just as I do here.’ The young men played all sorts of drunken
tricks on Ariston and his messmates, till at last the latter complained
to the officer in command. The officer administered a severe reprimand,
which did, however, no manner of good, for that very night the ruffians
made an attack on Ariston’s tent, gave him and his friends a beating, and
indeed, but for the timely arrival of the officer in command, might have
killed them. Of course when the camp broke up there was not a little bad
blood between the parties to the quarrel. Still, Ariston did nothing more
than try his best to steer clear of these troublesome acquaintances. One
evening, however, as he was walking in the market-place with a friend,
one of Conon’s sons caught sight of him. The young fellow, who was tipsy,
ran and fetched his father, who was drinking with a number of friends
in a fuller’s shop. The party rushed out; one of them seized Ariston’s
friend and held him fast, while Conon, his son, and another man, caught
hold of Ariston himself, tore his cloak off his back, tripped him up,
and jumped upon him, as he lay in the mud, cutting his lip through, and
closing up both his eyes. So much hurt was he that he could not get up
or even speak. But he heard Conon crowing like a cock to celebrate his
victory, while his companions suggested that he should flap his wings,
by which they meant his elbows, which he was to strike against his sides.
Other things he heard, but they were so bad that he was positively
ashamed to repeat them to the court. At last some passers-by carried him
home, where there was a terrible outcry, his mother and her domestics
making as much ado as if he had been carried home dead. After this came
a long illness in which his life was despaired of. When he had told his
story he gravely controverted what he supposed would be Conon’s defence,
that this was a quarrel of hot-headed deep-drinking young men; that
both parties were gay young fellows who found a pleasure in roaming the
streets at night, and playing all kinds of pranks on passers-by, and
that the plaintiff had no business to complain, if he happened to get
the worst of it. He was no roisterer, Ariston said, with a solemnity
which convulsed the court. Indeed, the idea that such a paragon of
respectability should be anything of the kind was sufficiently amusing.
However, he won his cause, and got thirty minas damages, or will get them
if he can manage to make Conon pay, a thing which, the friend who took me
into court tells me, is more than doubtful.

“You see, my dear Charondas, that there are other people besides
philosophers in Athens. Indeed, from all that I could make out, though
clever and learned men come to the city from all parts, the Athenians
themselves seldom show any genius. As for those noisy, roistering young
fellows, there are numbers of them in the streets at night. I have seen
them myself, again and again, though they have never molested me. Indeed,
they keep far enough away from any one who is likely to give them a warm
reception. I cannot help thinking that, whatever Demosthenes may say,
they would be better employed if they were following our king.”



CHAPTER X

AT ATHENS


In addition to his formal duties as commissioner in charge of the
offering to the goddess, Charidemus was entrusted with special messages
from Alexander to his old teacher, Aristotle, who had been a resident at
Athens for now about two years. He found the philosopher in his favourite
haunt of the Lyceum[38] just after he had dismissed his morning class
of hearers. Aristotle was somewhat slight and insignificant in person,
but he had a singularly keen and intelligent face. His appearance, as
far as dress was concerned, was rather that of a man of the world than
of a thinker. In fact, it was almost foppish. His hair was arranged with
the greatest care. His dress was new and fashionable in cut; and his
fingers were adorned with several costly rings. Charidemus could not
help thinking what a remarkable contrast he presented to the eccentric
being whom he had seen in his tub at Corinth. But in the great man’s talk
there was not a vestige of affectation or weakness. Charidemus was struck
with the wide range of subjects which it embraced. There was nothing
in the world in which he did not seem to feel the keenest interest. He
cross-examined the young man as to the features of the countries which
he had traversed, the products of their soil, the habits of the natives,
in a word, as to all his experiences. He expressed a great delight at
hearing of the rich collection of curious objects which the king was
making for him, and exhorted his young visitor never to let either the
duties or the pleasures of a military life interfere with his persistent
observation of nature. “If the king’s designs are carried out,” he said,
“if the gods permit him to go as far as I know he purposes to go, he and
those who go with him will have the chance of solving many problems which
at present are beyond all explanation. This is a world in which every one
may do something; and I implore you not to miss your chance. Mind that no
_fact_, however insignificant it may seem, is unworthy of attention. Once
the followers after wisdom began with theories; I begin with facts, and I
take it that I cannot have too many of them.”

Charidemus then put to the philosopher a question on Greek politics,
which he had been specially instructed to ask. It was, in effect,
whether Alexander had any reason to dread a coalition of the Greek
states taking advantage of his occupation in his schemes of conquest to
assail him in the rear. “I stand aloof from politics,” was the answer
of Aristotle. “No one, either now, or when I was in this city before,
ever heard me express an opinion on any political subject; no one ever
ventured to put me down as a Macedonian or an anti-Macedonian partisan.
But though I stand aloof, I observe, and observe, perhaps, all the
better. Tell the king that he need have no fear of a coalition against
him. Here in Athens there will be no movement in that direction. The
parties are too equally balanced; and the patriots, even if they were
stronger than they are, would not stir. As for Sparta, it is sullen and
angry; but the Spartans have long since lost their vigour. No; tell
the king that his danger is at home. His mother and his regent[39] are
deadly foes. He must be friendly to both, and this it will require all
his practical wisdom to do. And let him beware of plots. Plots are a
poisonous weed that grows apace in an Eastern soil. And he has theories
about men which may be a source of peril to him. I have often told him
that there are two races, the free by nature and the slave by nature,
races which are pretty well equivalent, I take it, to Greeks and
barbarians. He thinks that he can treat them both as equal. I fear that
if he tries the experiment he will alienate the one and not conciliate
the other. But it is useless to talk on this subject. If I have not been
able to persuade him. I do not suppose that you can. But you can at least
tell him from me to beware.”

From Athens Charidemus went to Pella. Alexander was perfectly well aware
of the state of affairs at home. The letters of his mother, Olympias,
had been full of the bitterest complaints against Antipater the regent,
and the ill-feeling between the two was a source of serious danger,
especially in view of the concealed disaffection of some of his own
kinsmen. Charidemus, whose sagacity and aptitude for affairs the king’s
penetration had noticed, came to observe these facts for himself. This
was, in fact, the secret errand which Alexander had entrusted to him. No
one would suspect that a serious political mission had been confided to
one so young; the fact that he had been brought up in Greece had detached
him from native parties; in fact, he would have especially favourable
opportunities of observing the set of feeling in Macedonia, while he was
engaged in his ostensible occupation of looking after the reinforcements
and stores which were to be sent out to Alexander in the spring.

Whilst he was thus employed he found the winter pass rapidly away. At
the same time he had no particular reason for regretting his absence
from the army. It was engaged in the important but tedious work of
establishing a perfectly solid base of operations. Alexander felt that
he must have Lesser Asia thoroughly safe behind him, and he employed
the earlier part of the year[40] in bringing about this result. But the
romantic part of the expedition was yet to come. The great battle or
battles which the Persian king was sure to fight for his throne were yet
in the future. The treasures of Persepolis and Ecbatana, Babylon, and
Susa, were yet to be ransacked; and all the wonders of the further East
were yet to be explored. A letter from Charondas, which was put by a
courier into the young man’s hand on the very eve of his departure from
Pella, will tell us something about the doings of the army during this
interval. It ran thus—

    “You have missed little or nothing by being at home during our
    winter campaign. For my part I have not so much as once crossed
    swords with an enemy since I saw you last. Our experiences
    repeat themselves with a curious monotony. There are
    strongholds in the country which might give us an infinitude of
    trouble; but, after a mere pretence of resistance, they yield
    themselves without a blow. Hear what happened at Celenæ as a
    specimen of all. The town itself was unwalled—I cannot help
    thinking, by the way, that walls often do a town more harm than
    good—but the citadel was impregnable. I never saw a place which
    it would be more absolutely hopeless to attack. The garrison
    was ample; they were provisioned, as we have afterwards
    discovered, for two years, and there was a never-failing spring
    within the walls. Yet the king had a message the very next day
    after he occupied the town, offering to surrender the place
    if within sixty days no succour should come from Darius. And
    surrendered it was. Here was one of the strongest positions
    in Asia, and it did not cost us a single arrow, much less a
    single life. The fact is these people have no country to fight
    for. The natives have changed masters again and again; and the
    mercenaries would quite as soon receive pay from one side as
    the other, and naturally prefer to be with that which gives the
    hardest knocks.

    “At Gordium we had a very interesting experience. There is
    a strange story connected with the place which an old Greek
    merchant who had lived there for many years told me. It was
    something of this kind:

    “There was once—some four hundred years ago, as nearly as I
    could make out—a certain Gordius in this country. He was a poor
    peasant, cultivating a few acres of his own land. One day as
    he was guiding his plough with two oxen before him, an eagle
    settled on it, and kept its place till the evening. The man
    went to Telmissus, a town famous for its soothsayers, to find
    out, if he could, what this marvel might mean. Outside the
    gate of Telmissus he met a girl; and finding that she, too,
    practised the soothsaying art, he told her his story. ‘Offer a
    sacrifice to King Zeus of Telmissus,’ she said. This he did,
    the girl showing him how he should proceed, and afterwards
    becoming his wife. For many years nothing happened, not indeed
    till Gordius’ son by this marriage had grown up to manhood. At
    this time there were great troubles in Phrygia, and the people,
    inquiring of an oracle how they might get relief, received this
    answer:

        “Phrygians, hear: a cart shall bring
        To your gates your fated king.
        He, ’tis writ, shall give you peace;
        Then shall Phrygia’s troubles cease.”

    The people had just heard this answer when Gordius, who had
    come into the town on some ordinary business of his farm,
    appeared in the market-place riding on his cart with his wife
    and son. He was recognized at once as the person pointed out
    by the oracle, and named with acclamations as the new king of
    Phrygia. The first thing that he did was to take the cart with
    its yoke to the temple of Zeus the King, and tie the two to the
    altar. Whoever should untie the knot of this fastening, a later
    oracle declared, should be king of all Asia.

    “This was the story which I heard, and which, of course,
    reached the king’s ears. The rumour ran through the army that
    the king was going to try his fortune, and the next day the
    temple was crowded with chiefs of the country and with officers
    of our own army. The Phrygians, we could see, believed the
    whole story implicitly; our people did not know what to think.
    There is not much faith now-a-days in such things. Still there
    was a general feeling that the king had better have left the
    matter alone. Well, it was as ugly a knot as ever was seen.
    No one could possibly discover where the cord began or where
    it left off. For a time the king manfully struggled with the
    puzzle. Then as it defied all his efforts, one could see the
    angry colour rising in his cheeks, for he is not used to be
    baffled by difficulties. At last he cried, ‘The oracle says
    nothing about the way in which the knot is to be undone. If
    I cannot untie it, why should I not cut it?’ And in a moment
    he had his sword out, dealt the great tangle a blow such as
    he might have delivered at a Persian’s head, and cleft it in
    two as cleanly as if it had been a single cord—there was not a
    shred left hanging on either side. Did he fulfil the decree of
    fate, or cheat it? Who can say? This, however, must be pretty
    clear to every one by now, that there is no knot of man’s tying
    which that sword will not sever. But there are knots, you know,
    dearest of friends, that are not of man’s tying. May he and we
    have safe deliverance out of them!”



CHAPTER XI

A PERILOUS VOYAGE


It had been originally arranged that Charidemus should rejoin the army at
Gordium, where Alexander was giving his men a few days’ rest after their
winter’s campaign, while he waited for the reinforcements from Macedonia,
the fresh levies, that is, and the newly-married men who had been allowed
to spend the winter at home. But circumstances occurred which made a
change of plan necessary. Some heavy siege engines which were to have
gone with the troops were not finished in time. The men could not wait
till they were ready, for the very good reason that they were being
themselves waited for. Nor could they be sent after the army, for means
of transport were wanting. The only alternative was to send them by
water, a very convenient arrangement as far as easiness of carriage was
concerned, but, seeing that the Persians were decidedly superior at sea,
not a little hazardous. However they had to go somehow, and by sea it was
determined to send them, Tarsus being the port of destination, as being
a city which Alexander had good reasons for believing would easily fall
into his hands.

Ten merchantmen had been chartered by the regent to convey the machines.
All were provided with a certain armament. This, however, was to be
used only in case of extreme necessity; for protection against ordinary
attacks the fleet had to rely upon its convoy, two ships of war, the
_Dolphin_ and the _Lark_. Charidemus was second in command of the
_Dolphin_.

Everything seemed to conspire against the unlucky enterprise. First,
the workmen were intolerably slow. Then, when everything had at last
been finished, some of the machinery was seriously damaged in the
process of shipping. And, finally, when at last the squadron got under
weigh, the _Lark_ was run by a drunken steersman on a rock that was at
least ten feet above the water, and that in broad daylight. Happily
she was only a few hundred yards from the mouth of the harbour when
the disaster occurred, and the crew by desperate exertions were able
to get her into shallow water before she went down. But the diver who
inspected the damage reported that at least a month would be wanted
before the necessary repairs could be completed. To wait a month was
a sheer impossibility, and there was not another war-ship at hand, so
bare had the harbours been stripped to supply transport for the army of
Asia. There was, therefore, nothing for it but for the _Dolphin_ to
undertake the whole duty of the convoy. But the chapter of accidents was
not yet finished. On the fourth night of the outward voyage Chærephon,
the _Dolphin’s_ captain, had been talking to his second-in-command. The
latter had just left him to go below when he heard a cry and a splash.
He ran to the vessel’s side, and was just in time to see the captain’s
white head above the water in perilous proximity to the oars, which the
rowers were plying at the time at full speed. The signal to back water
was immediately given, and obeyed without loss of time; but the captain
was never seen again. He was known to have been an excellent swimmer, and
it is very probable that he had been struck by one of the oars.

Charidemus found himself in command of the fleet, a promotion that was
as unwelcome as it was unexpected. As soon as it was light the next
day, he signalled to the captains of the merchantmen that he wished
for a conference. The captains accordingly came on board; he laid the
situation before them, and asked their advice. The consultation ended in
his choosing the most experienced among them as his sailing master. What
may be called the military command he was compelled to retain in his own
hands. It was evident that they were both unfit and unwilling to exercise
it.

For some days the voyage was continued under favourable conditions. A
brisk breeze by day spared the rowers all labour, and this daily rest
enabled them to utilize the calm moonlight nights. To the war-ship,
with its superior speed, progress was easy enough; and the crews of
the merchantmen, under the stimulus of a promised reward if Tarsus was
reached within a certain time, exerted themselves to the utmost to keep
up with her.

The squadron touched at Patara, where Charidemus found some much desired
intelligence about the movements of the Persian fleet. The main body, he
heard, was still in the Northern Ægean; but there was a small detachment
cruising about Rhodes, with the object, it was supposed, of intercepting
any eastward-bound ships. It was quite possible, the Persians having an
highly organized spy system, that the voyage of the _Dolphin_ was known
to them. The enemy was, of course, to be avoided if possible, as an
engagement would be sure to end in loss. The old sailor whom Charidemus
had taken as his prime minister, had intervened with some sagacious
advice. “The Phœnicians,” he said, “will be sure to watch the channel
between Rhodes and the mainland. The best way, therefore, of giving them
the slip, will be to turn your ships’ heads due south. I think, sir,”
he went on, “that we sailors are far too fond of hugging the shore. The
shore, it seems to me, is often more dangerous than the open sea. For us,
sir, under present circumstances, it is so most certainly.”

The signal to sail south was accordingly hoisted on board the _Dolphin_,
and obeyed, though not, it may be supposed, without much surprise by the
merchant vessels. The result was a complete success. The Phœnicians, as
Charidemus afterwards learnt, must have been encountered had he followed
the usual route. As it was, he saw nothing of them.

After sailing about thirty miles on a southerly tack the course of the
squadron was changed to the eastward. Before long Cyprus was sighted,
and, by the old sailor’s advice, passed on the left hand. They had just
rounded the eastern extremity of the island (now called Cape Andrea),
and had Tarsus almost straight before them to the north, and not more
than ninety miles distant, when they found that their adventures were
not yet over. Two craft hove in sight which the experienced eye of
the sailing master at once recognized as Cilician pirates. Charidemus
immediately resolved on his plan of action, a plan which he had indeed
already worked out in his mind in preparation for the emergency that had
actually occurred. He signalled to the merchantmen to scatter, and then
make the best of their way to their destination. This done he ordered
his own steersman to steer straight for the enemy. The pirates had not
anticipated any such bold manœuvre, and in their anxiety to prevent the
escape of the merchantmen had parted company. The distance between the
two Cilician galleys was now so great that Charidemus was sure that
he could get at close quarters with the nearest of the two before the
more remote could come up to help her consort. He had the advantage
of the wind behind him, and putting up all his sails, while he bade
his fugleman strike up his liveliest and quickest tune, he bore down
with all the speed that he could make on the enemy. The issue of the
engagement was scarcely doubtful. The pirate was a long craft, very low
in the water, and crowded with men. Able to row and sail with unusual
speed, it could always count on overtaking the cumbrous and slow-moving
traders, who, when overtaken, could be boarded with irresistible force.
But the pirates were not prepared to meet an attack from a strongly built
and well equipped man-of-war. Indeed, they were obviously paralyzed by
the surprise of so bold a movement. In any case they would not have
been a match for the _Dolphin_, a vessel of much superior weight, and
furnished with a powerful ram. As it was, the pirate captain acted with
a vacillation that ensured his destruction. When it was too late, he
resolved to fly, and, if possible, to join his consort. The resolve might
have been judicious had it been taken earlier; as it was, it had a fatal
result. The crew were flurried by finding themselves in circumstances
so unusual—for they were not accustomed to stand on the defensive—and
were slow and clumsy in executing the captain’s order. The consequence
was that the _Dolphin_ struck the pirate craft, and cut it down to the
water’s edge. No sooner had the blow been delivered than Charidemus
gave the signal to back-water. The pirates, if they were only given a
chance to board, might well change the fortunes of the day, so numerous
were they, so well armed, and so experienced in boarding attacks. All
such chance was gone when the _Dolphin_ had got fifty yards away. With
mainmast broken, and the oars of one side shattered to pieces, the pirate
ship could not attempt to pursue. So damaging indeed had been the blow
that all the efforts of the crew, and of the consort ship which hurried
up to give help, were wanted to keep the vessel afloat.

Late in the evening of the following day, and without meeting with any
further adventure, Charidemus reached the mouth of the Cydnus. That
night he anchored with his charges inside the bar, and the next day made
his way up to the city of Tarsus, which was situated, I may remind my
readers, some seven or eight miles from the mouth of the river.

The new-comers found the city in a state of consternation. The king
was dangerously ill. Some said that he was dying. Now and then it was
whispered that he was dead. The cause of his malady was simple enough.
After a long march under a burning sun—for Alexander had a passion for
sharing all the fatigues as well as all the dangers of his men—he had
plunged into the Cydnus, an ice-cold stream, fed by the melting snows
from the Cilician Highlands. But the maladies of great men are not so
easily accounted for. There were mysterious rumours of poison, nor could
Charidemus forget the sinister hints which he had heard from Aristotle.
It was possible, he could not help thinking, that Persian drugs, aided by
Persian gold, might have had something to do in bringing about this most
untoward event.

After reporting his arrival, and the safe conveyance of the munitions
of war which had been under his charge, Charidemus made his way to the
quarters of his regiment, and was heartily welcomed by his comrades.
He had, of course, much to tell, but it was impossible at that time to
discuss any topic but the one absorbing subject of the king’s illness.

“The king’s doctors have refused to prescribe for him,” said Charondas,
“nor am I surprised. A couple or so of gold pieces if you succeed, and to
lose your head if you fail, is not a fair bargain.”

“Is there any news, Polemon?” was the general cry, as a young officer
entered the room.

“Yes,” said the new-comer, “but whether it is good or bad is more than I
can say. Philip the Acarnanian has consented to prescribe for the king.”

“Philip is an honest man,” cried the young Theban. “He and his father
before him were great friends of ours.”

“Apollo and Æsculapius prosper him!” said one of the company, and the
prayer was heartily echoed by all who were present.

Hour after hour bulletins of the king’s condition were issued. They were
cautiously worded, as such documents commonly are, but there was nothing
encouraging about them. The general fear grew deeper and deeper as the
day wore slowly on.

“Let us go and see Philip,” said Charondas to his friend, as they were
sitting together in gloomy silence after their evening meal. “I think
that he will admit us when he hears my name, and we shall at least know
all that is to be known.”

The friends found the physician’s house strongly guarded. So excited were
the soldiers that there was no knowing what they might not do. Were a
fatal result to follow, the guard itself would hardly be able to protect
the unfortunate man. Charondas obtained, as he had expected, admission
for himself and his companion by the mention of his name. The first sight
of the physician was curiously reassuring. He was perfectly calm and
confident. “What about the king?” was the question eagerly put to him.
“Do not fear,” was the quiet reply, “he will recover.” Just as he spoke
a slave entered the room with a communication from the attendants of the
king. The physician read it with unmoved face, and after taking a small
phial from a case of medicines, prepared to follow the messenger.

“Wait for me here,” he said, “I shall be back shortly, and shall have
something to tell you.”

The friends sat down, and waited for an hour, an hour as anxious as any
that they had ever spent in their lives. At the end of that time Philip
came back. In answer to the inquiries which they looked rather than put
into words, he said—

“He goes on well; it is just as it should be. He had to be worse before
he could be better. And he is young, and strong, and the best of
patients. He deserves to get well, for he trusts his physician. Such
patients I very seldom lose. When I gave him the medicine that I had
mixed, he took it, and drank it without a word. Afterwards—mark you,
afterwards—he handed me a letter which some one had sent him. ‘I had been
bribed by Darius’—that was the substance of it—‘to poison him.’ Now, if
I had had that letter before I prescribed, I should have hesitated. I
do not think I should have ventured on the very potent remedy which I
administered. And yet there was nothing else, I felt sure, that could
save his life. Yes, as I said, he deserves to live, and so he will. He
has been very near the gates; but I left him in a healthy sleep, and,
unless something untoward happens, from which Apollo defend us, he will
be well before the new moon.”

The physician’s prophecy was fulfilled. The king, when the crisis of the
fever was once successfully passed, recovered his strength with amazing
quickness. The solemn thanksgiving for his recovery actually was fixed,
so accurate had been the Acarnanian’s foresight, for the day of the new
moon.

The thanksgiving was a great festival, kept with greater heartiness than
such celebrations commonly are. That the army was delighted to recover
their heroic leader need not be said; but their joy was equalled by that
of the townsfolk of Tarsus. This city, though Assyrian in origin,[41]
had become thoroughly Greek in sentiment and manners, and was already
acquiring something of the culture which afterwards made it the eastern
rival of Athens. It was proportionately impatient of Persian rule, and
hailed the Macedonian king as a genuine deliverer. The festivities of the
day were crowned by a splendid banquet, at which Alexander entertained
the chief citizens of Tarsus and the principal officers of the army. He
was in the act of pledging his guests when an attendant informed him that
a stranger, who was apparently a deserter from the Persian army, had
urgently demanded to see him, declaring that he had information of the
greatest importance to communicate.

“Bring him,” cried the king. “Something tells me that this is a lucky
day, and that the gods have not yet exhausted their favours.”

The stranger was brought in between two soldiers. A more remarkable
contrast to the brilliant assemblage of the royal guests could hardly
have been imagined. His face was pale and haggard, his eyes bloodshot,
his hair unkempt, his dress—the one-sleeved tunic of a slave—worn and
travel-stained. The splendour of the scene into which he had been brought
seemed to overpower him. He reeled and would have fallen, but that the
soldiers on either side held him up.

“Give him a draught of wine,” cried the king.

A page handed him a brimming goblet of Chian. He drained it, and the
draught brought back the light to his eyes and the colour to his cheek.

“And now,” said the king, “tell us your story. But first, who are you,
and whence do you come?”

“My name is Narses,” said the man, “I am a Carian by birth. I was the
slave of Charidemus the Athenian.”[42]

“And you have run away from your master,” interrupted the king, who began
to think that the man was only a common deserter, hoping to get a reward
for information that was probably of very little value.

“The gods forbid!” said the man. “There was never a better master, and
I had been a thankless knave to leave him. No, my lord, Charidemus the
Athenian is no more.”

“How so?” asked the king. “Tell us what you know.”

[Illustration: DARIUS.]

“The Persian king held a great review of his army in the plain of
Babylon. First he numbered them, sending them into a sort of camp,
surrounded by a ditch and rampart, that was reckoned to hold ten thousand
men. I watched them march in and out, my lord, for I was then with my
master, for the whole of a day from sunrise to sunset. As they came out
they took their places on the plain, stretching as far as I could see and
further too. ‘What think you of that?’ said King Darius to my master,
when the last detachment had marched out, ‘what think you of that? are
there not enough there to trample these insolent Greeks under foot?’ My
master was silent; at last he said, ‘Does my lord wish me to speak what
is in my heart?’ ‘Speak on,’ said the king. Then my master spoke out:
‘This is a splendid sight, I confess. No one could have believed that
there could have been gathered together so great, so splendid a host. And
I can well believe that there is no people in Asia but would see it with
fear and a very just fear too. But the Macedonians and the Greeks are
a very different race. You have nothing here that can be matched for a
moment with the solidity of their array, with their discipline, with the
speed and order of their movements. If you want my advice, my lord king,
it is this: It is only in Greece that you can find men who can stand
against Greeks. Send these useless crowds away. Take the silver and gold
with which they make all this useless display, and use it to hire men who
can really fight.’ There was a perfect howl of rage from all the Persian
nobles who were standing by, when my master said this. Some of them shook
their fists at him; some drew their scymetars. As for the king himself he
was as furious as any of them. He jumped up from his seat, and caught my
master by the throat. ‘Take him away,’ he shouted to the guards who stood
behind his throne, ‘take him away, and behead him.’ My master’s face did
not change one whit. ‘You asked for the truth, my lord,’ he said, ‘but
it does not please you. When it comes to you, not in word but in deed,
it will please you less. Some day you will remember what has been said
to-day, and Charidemus will be avenged.’ After that the executioners led
him away, and I saw him no more.”

“And about yourself,” said the king, “how came you hither?” There was a
fierce light in the man’s eyes as he answered this question. “My lord,”
he said, “the king divided all that belonged to my master between the
executioners. I watched my time, and the day after his death I plunged my
dagger into the heart of one of the ruffians; I wish that I could have
plunged it into the king’s. Then I escaped.”

“To-morrow,” said the king, “you shall tell me in what way you came, and
what you saw on the road. Just now you are only fit for rest. Treat
him well, and take care of him,” he went on to the attendants. “And
now, gentlemen,” he said to his guests, “said I not well that the gods
had good tidings for me on this day? What could be better than this? If
the choice had been given me, I could have chosen nothing more to be
desired—Darius means to give battle.”



CHAPTER XII

ON THE WRONG SIDE


The good fortune of Alexander was not yet exhausted; indeed, if it was
to be called good fortune at all, it remained with him in a remarkable
way up to the very end of his career. It was a distinct gain that the
Persian king had abandoned the waiting policy of Memnon, and, in a
haughty self-confidence that, as has been seen, brooked no contradiction,
resolved to give battle to the invader; but there was a yet greater gain
remaining behind. Not only was he going to give battle, but he was going
to give it exactly in the place which would be the least advantageous to
himself and the most advantageous to his antagonist. How this came about
will now be explained.

Alexander called a hurried council of war after the banquet to consider
the intelligence which had been just brought to him. He expounded to his
lieutenants at length the views which he had briefly expressed at the
banqueting hall. If Darius was in the mind to fight, their policy was
to give him the opportunity that he desired as soon as possible. The
suggestion was received with enthusiasm by the majority of the officers
present; but there was a small minority, led by Parmenio, that ventured
to dissent. Parmenio was the oldest and most experienced general in the
army, numbering nearly fifty campaigns. He had often been extraordinarily
successful, and Philip had trusted him implicitly.

“I have never been able to find more than one general,” the king had been
wont to remark, “and that general is Parmenio.” Accordingly his voice had
no little weight. Even Alexander had at least to listen. The substance of
his counsel on the present occasion was this: “Let us fight by all means;
but let us fight on our own ground. If we march to attack Darius on the
plains where he has pitched his camp, we shall be giving him all the
advantage of place; if we wait here till he comes to attack us here, this
advantage will be ours.”

Alexander listened with respectful attention, but was not convinced.
“We cannot afford to wait,” he said, “an invader must attack, not be
attacked. But perhaps we shall be able to combine your policy, which I
allow to be admirable, and mine, which I hold to be necessary.”

The event justified the hope. We may attribute the result to good
fortune; but it was probably due to the extraordinary power of guessing
the probable action of an antagonist, which was one of Alexander’s most
characteristic merits as a general.

To put the thing very briefly, the king’s idea was this. Let Darius
once get the impression that the invaders were hanging back, and in his
overweening confidence in his own superior strength, he would abandon his
favourable position, and precipitate an attack. And this is exactly what
happened.

The Macedonian army was formed into two divisions. With one of them
Parmenio hurried on to occupy the passes from Cilicia into Syria. There
were strong places which might have been easily defended; but it was not
Darius’s policy to hinder the advance of an enemy whom he felt sure of
being able to crush; and the garrisons retired according to order when
the Macedonian force came in sight.

Some little time after, Alexander himself followed with the rest of his
army, taking the same route, and overtaking Parmenio’s force at a place
that was about two days’ march beyond the passes.

And now came the extraordinary change of policy on the part of Darius
which Alexander, with a sagacity that seemed almost more than human,
had divined. The delay of the Macedonian king in advancing from Cilicia
had produced just the impression which apparently it had been intended
to produce. Darius imagined, and the imagination was encouraged by the
flatterers who surrounded him, that his enemy was losing confidence,
that though he had routed the king’s lieutenants, he shrank from meeting
the king himself. And now the one prevailing idea in his mind was that
the invader must not be permitted to escape. Accordingly, though his
ablest counsellors sought to dissuade him, he broke up his encampment on
the level ground which suited so admirably the operations of his huge
army, and hurried to get into the rear of Alexander. He blindly missed
the opportunity that was almost in his hands of cutting Alexander’s army
in two, and took up a position wholly unsuited to the character of his
forces, but which had the advantage, as he thought, of cutting off the
enemy’s retreat.

And now that I have explained the antecedent circumstances of the great
struggle that followed, I must return to the fortunes of Charidemus and
his friend. A rapid march performed under a burning sky had caused not
a little sickness in the army, and Alexander had left his invalids at
Issus, a delightful little town which had the advantage of enjoying both
sea and mountain air. A detachment was told off to protect the place, and
as Charondas was among the sick, Charidemus, though always anxious to be
with the front, was not altogether displeased to be left in command.

But the change in the Persian plan brought terrible disaster on the
occupants of Issus. It was an unwalled town, and, even had it been
strongly fortified, it could not have been defended by the couple of
hundred men under Charidemus’s command. When the Persians appeared, for
it was naturally in their line of march, there was nothing for it but
to capitulate and to trust to the mercy of the conquerors. Unhappily
the Persian temper, always pitiless when the vanquished were concerned,
had been worked up into furious rage by recent disasters. Many of the
prisoners were massacred at once; those whose lives were spared were
cruelly mutilated, to be sent back, when the occasion served, to the camp
of Alexander, as examples of the vengeance which the audacious invaders
of Asia might expect.

Charidemus and his Theban friend, with such other officers as had been
captured, were brought before the king himself. Charondas, happily for
himself, was recognized by a Theban exile, who had attached himself to
the fortunes of Darius, and who happened to be a distant relative of
his own. The man made an effort to save him. “O king,” he said, “this
is a kinsman and a fellow-citizen. I saw him last fighting against the
Macedonians. How he came hither I know not, but I beseech you that you
will at least reserve him for future inquiry. Meanwhile I will answer for
his safe custody.”

Darius, whose naturally mild temper had been overborne by the savage
insistence of the Persian nobles, signified assent; and Charondas, who
had not been asked to renounce his allegiance, or indeed questioned in
any way, did not feel himself constrained in honour to reject the chance
of escape.

No one now remained to be dealt with but Charidemus himself, who as the
chief in command had been reserved to the last.

“Of what city are you?” asked the king.

“Of Argos,” replied the prisoner, who was certainly glad to be able to
make this answer without departing from the truth. To have avowed that he
was a Macedonian would probably have sealed his fate at once.

“And your name?”

“Charidemus.”

The king was evidently struck by this answer. Though he had given the
order for the execution of the unhappy Athenian whose death has been
already related, and, indeed, had been the first to lay hands upon him,
the deed had been out of keeping with his character, and he had already
repented of it.

“Knew you your namesake of Athens?” he went on.

“I knew him well, my lord. He was the guest-friend of my mother’s father.”

Darius turned round to the Persian noble, a scion of one of the great
Seven Houses, who stood behind his seat, and said, “Keep this man safe as
you value your own head.”

The Persian took him by the hand, and led him to the king’s quarters,
where he committed him to the safe keeping of his own personal attendants.

The next morning the army resumed its march, following the same route
that had been taken a few days before, but in an opposite direction, by
Alexander, crossed the Pinarus, a small stream which here runs a short
course, from the mountains to the sea, and encamped on its further or
northern shore.

Though the young Macedonian’s life had been saved for the moment, he
was still in imminent danger. The clemency of the king had not approved
itself to his courtiers, though the habit of obedience had prevented
them from questioning his orders. Indeed all the Greeks about the royal
person were regarded by the Persian nobles with jealousy and suspicion.
So strong were these feelings that Darius, though himself retaining full
confidence in their attachment and fidelity, thought it best to send
them all away before the anticipated battle should take place. They were
accordingly despatched under the protection of a strong detachment of
troops of their own nation to Damascus, whither a great portion of the
royal treasure and of the large retinue which was accustomed to follow
the Persian king had been already sent. Charondas of course accompanied
his Theban kinsman, while Charidemus remained under the immediate
protection of the king.

Alexander, when his scouts brought in the intelligence of the Persian
movement in his own rear, had hardly been able to believe that his
anticipations had been so speedily and so completely fulfilled. That
Darius would leave his position on the plain he had hoped; that he would
crowd his enormous forces into a place where not a third of them could
possibly be used, seemed almost beyond belief. Yet it was undoubtedly
true. A light galley was sent out from the shore to reconnoitre, and what
the sailors saw fully confirmed the news. Across the bay of Issus was a
distance of little more than ten miles, though the way by land between
the two armies may have been nearly double as much, and it was easy to
descry the thronging multitudes of the Persian host, crowding, as far as
could be seen, the whole space between the mountain and the sea. The day
was now far advanced. But Alexander would not lose an hour in seizing the
great opportunity thrown in his way. The soldiers were ordered to take
their evening meal at once, and to be ready to march afterwards.

It is, however, with the preparations of the Persians that we are now
concerned. Informed of the approach of Alexander, and perhaps somewhat
shaken in his confidence by the news, Darius resolved to await the attack
where he was, that is, behind the stream of the Pinarus. His main line
was formed of ninety thousand heavy-armed infantry. A third of these
were Greek mercenaries, and occupied the centre; the rest were Asiatics
armed in Greek fashion. Darius himself took his place in the centre
behind his Greek troops. It was in them, after all, notwithstanding the
jealousy of his nobles, that he put his chief confidence. The cavalry
were massed on the right wing, that end of the line which was nearest
to the sea, for there alone was there any ground suitable for their
action. On the left wing, reaching far up the mountain side, were twenty
thousand light-armed troops who were to throw themselves on the flank
of the Macedonians when they should attempt to cross the stream. Of
these, indeed, nothing more need be said. They did not attempt to make
the movement which had been assigned to them; but remained inactive,
easily held in check by a handful of cavalry which was detached to watch
them. Behind this line of battle, numbering, it will have been seen,
somewhat more than a hundred thousand men, stood a mixed multitude, swept
together from all the provinces of the vast Persian Empire. This mass
of combatants, if they may be so called, already unwieldy, received the
addition of fifty thousand troops, who had been sent to the southern bank
to cover the formation of the line, and who were brought back when this
formation was completed. There was no room for them in the line, and they
were crowded into the endless multitude behind.

It was a novel experience for Charidemus to watch, as he was compelled
to do from his place behind the chariot of Darius, the advance of the
Macedonian army. He saw them halted for a brief rest, and watched the men
as they took their morning meal. Then again he saw them move forward at a
slow pace, preserving an admirable regularity of line. Never before had
he had such an opportunity of observing the solidity of their formation;
never before had he been so impressed with the conviction of their
irresistible strength. Finally, when the front line had come within a
bow-shot of the river he observed Alexander himself gallop forward on his
famous charger, turn with an animated gesture to the line behind him, and
advance at a gallop, followed by the cavalry and light-armed foot, while
the phalanx moved more slowly on, so as not to disturb the regularity of
array on which its strength so much depended.

[Illustration: ALEXANDER AND BUCEPHALUS.]

The terror which this rapid movement caused in the Persian left cannot be
described. It was all the more startling because the Macedonian advance
had before seemed slow and even hesitating. Nothing less than a panic set
in among the troops against whom this sudden attack was delivered. The
heavy-armed Asiatics had the equipment and, in a degree, the discipline
of European troops, but they wanted their coolness and steadfastness.
Before they had felt the thrust of a pike, or the blow of a sword,
before even a missile had reached them, they wavered, broke, and turned
to fly. The huge multitude behind them caught the infection of panic.
So narrow was the space in which they had been crowded together that
movement was almost impossible. A scene of frightful terror and confusion
followed. The fugitives struggled fiercely with each other—had they
shown as much energy in resisting the enemy, they might have changed
the fortune of the day. They pushed aside the weak, they trampled
pitilessly on the fallen. In less than half an hour from the beginning
of the Macedonian charge the whole of the left wing of the Persians was
a disorganized, helpless mass. It is true that the rest of the army
did not show the same shameful cowardice. The Greeks in the centre
stood their ground bravely, and held the division that attacked them in
check for some time. Then assailed in the rear by the Macedonian right
returning from their own easy victory, they cut their way through the
opposing lines and made good their escape. The Persian cavalry on the
right wing also behaved with courage, crossing the river, and charging
the Thessalian horse on the Macedonian left. But the miserable weakness
of the Persian king rendered all their bravery unavailing. When he saw
the line of the Asiatic heavy-armed waver and break, and perceived that
his own person was in danger, he turned precipitately to flee, and his
escort of cavalry followed him, Charidemus being swept away by the
rush, without having a chance to extricate himself. Before long the
ground became so rough that the chariot had to be abandoned, and the king
mounted on horseback, leaving in his hurry his shield and bow behind him.
The flight was continued at the fullest speed to which the horses could
be put till the king felt sure that for the time at least he was safe
from pursuit. He then called a halt, and made his disposition for the
future. His own destination was Thapsacus,[43] where there was a ford
over the Euphrates, and whence he would make his way to Babylon. The
greater part of the escort, of course, accompanied him. The young Persian
noble, Artabazus by name, to whose charge Charidemus had been committed,
was to make his way to Damascus, with instructions for the officers who
had been left there in charge of the treasure and retinue. To the young
Macedonian the king addressed a few words of farewell. “Truly,” he said,
“the Athenian is avenged already. Well; I seem to owe you something
for his sake. Take this ring,” and he drew, as he spoke, a signet-ring
from his finger. “It may help you in need; perhaps, too, you will have
the chance of helping some whom I cannot help. My wife and child are,
doubtless by this time, in your king’s hands, for they can hardly have
escaped. I can trust him. But there are others whom you may find at
Damascus. When they see this ring it will be proof that they may put
faith in you.” Then turning to Artabazus, he went on, “Guard this man’s
life as you would your own.”



CHAPTER XIII

DAMASCUS


Whether Charidemus would have reached his destination in safety in the
company of his Persian guardians may well be doubted. Artabazus himself
seemed well disposed to him. The young noble had spent some time in
Greece, having been attached to more than one embassy sent to that
country, spoke the language with ease and fluency, and had at least
some outside polish of Hellenic culture. But the troopers were genuine
barbarians, exasperated to the last degree by their recent defeat, who
would have had little scruple in wreaking their vengeance on unprotected
Greeks. Happily for Charidemus, he was not long exposed to the dangers of
the journey. Alexander, with his usual energy, had already taken measures
to secure Damascus. Parmenio was instructed to push forward to that city,
where it was well known that an immense spoil awaited the conquerors.
The treasure captured in the Persian camp had not been very large[44];
the bulk had been left in Syria, and it was important to get hold of it
without delay.

Parmenio lost no time in executing his commission. His main body would
require two or three days’ preparation before it could march; but some
light horse was sent on at once to cut off any fugitives who might be
making their way from the field of Issus to the Syrian capital. It was
at one of the fords of the Upper Orontes that this detachment came in
sight of Artabazus and his companions. The river had been swollen by a
heavy fall of rain among the hills, and was rolling down in a turbid and
dangerous-looking stream. The troopers, catching sight of the Macedonian
cavalry, as it came in sight over the brow of a neighbouring hill,
rushed helter-skelter into the ford, without giving a thought either to
their chief or their prisoner. The leader’s horse, a young untrained
animal, refused to enter the water. Twice, thrice was he brought to the
brink, but he could not be induced to go in. Meanwhile the pursuers had
come within a stone’s-throw of the water. Artabazus saw that escape was
hopeless, and he disdained to surrender. He turned his horse from the
stream, drew his scymetar from its gilded sheath, and threw himself
furiously upon the nearest horseman. The man raised his shield to ward
off the blow, but the good Damascus blade sheared off three or four
inches of the tough bull’s hide, and inflicted a deadly wound on the spot
so often fatal, where the lappet of the helmet joined the coat-of-mail.
The next moment the Persian’s horse was brought to the ground by the
thrust of a lance, and the rider, as he lay entangled in its trappings,
received a mortal wound from a second blow of the same weapon.

Charidemus, who had been sitting on his horse, a passive spectator of the
scene just described, now came forward to report himself to the officer
in command. There was no need, he found, to explain who he was, for the
officer happened to be an old acquaintance, and warmly congratulated
him on his escape. “Many thanks,” said Charidemus, “but see whether you
cannot save your prisoner there alive. He is of one of the Seven Houses,
and should be worth a ransom almost royal.”

The officer leapt from his horse, and examined the prostrate man. “He
is past all help,” was the verdict, after a brief examination, “Not
Æsculapius himself could heal him. But he seems to want to speak to you;
I thought I heard him whisper your name.”

In a moment Charidemus was on his knees by the dying man’s side, and put
his ear to his lips. The words that he caught were these: “Damascus—the
street of the coppersmiths—Manasseh the Jew.” With that his utterance
failed; there were a few convulsive gasps for breath, a faint shiver, and
then all was over.

It was not a time for much funeral ceremony. A shallow grave was scooped
in the sand by the river side, and the body, stripped of armour and
weapons, but allowed to retain cloak, tunic, and sandals, was hastily
covered over. All the valuables that were found upon the dead were
considered to be the booty of the troop; but Charidemus purchased a
bracelet, a chain, and a ring. He could not help thinking that the dying
man had wished to entrust some commission to him. These articles might at
least help to identify him.

After crossing the Orontes, the party halted for the night, and by the
bivouac-fire Charidemus told his story, and heard, in his turn, many
particulars of the great fight which it had been his strange fortune to
see from the side of the vanquished. “We gave you up for lost,” said his
new companion, who, by the way, was no less distinguished a person than
Philotas, son of Parmenio. “A few poor wretches found their way back into
the camp; but those brute-like barbarians had shorn off noses, ears, and
hands. Many died of loss of blood on the way, and some only just lived
long enough to get within the lines. The survivors told us that all the
officers had been killed. But you seem a special favourite of the gods.
They must surely be keeping you for something great. And your Theban
friend—what of him? I hope that Pylades escaped as well as Orestes.”

“Yes, by good luck,” said Charidemus, “a Theban exile who was with
Darius recognized him, and saved his life. He is, I take it, at Damascus
by this time.”

“Where we shall soon find him, I hope,” returned Philotas. “That is the
place we are bound for; and if the stories that the deserters tell us are
only half true, we shall have rare sport then. My father is in command of
the main body; but we will take care to keep well ahead of the old man,
and have the first sight of the good things.”

The party had yet more than two hundred miles to ride before reaching
their journey’s end. Weak as they were—for they did not number in all
more than two hundred men—they pushed on in supreme indifference to any
possible danger. Danger indeed there was none. The country was stripped
of troops, for every available soldier had been swept off by the levies
to swell the host that had been gathered only to be scattered to the
winds at Issus. A few indeed had found their way back, but these were
glad to bury their weapons, and to forget that they had ever wielded them
for so unlucky a cause. As for raising them again against these wonderful
warriors from the west, before whom the armies of the Great King had
melted as snow melts in the sun, that would be madness indeed. Philotas’s
party met with no opposition; indeed, as far as the Syrian population
showed any feeling at all, the new-comers seemed to be welcomed. The
Persians had not made themselves beloved, and a change of masters might,
it was felt, be a change for the better.

It was about a fortnight after crossing the Orontes that the detachment
came in sight of Damascus. They were gazing with delight, as so many
travellers have gazed, at the City of Gardens, when a Syrian lad came up
to the party, and contrived with some difficulty to make them understand
that he had a message to deliver to their chief. Accordingly he was
conducted into the presence of Philotas, and put into his hands a small
roll of paper. It proved to be a communication from the Persian governor
of Damascus. The lad, when further questioned by the help of a peasant
who acted as interpreter, said that he had been sent with orders to
deliver the letter into the hands of the first Macedonian officer whom he
might be able to find. It was thus:—

“_Oxathres, Governor of Damascus, to the Lieutenant of the Great and
Victorious Alexander, into whose hands this may fall. Seeing that the
Gods have so manifestly declared that they adjudge the kingdom of
Asia to the great Alexander, it becomes the duty of all their dutiful
servants and worshippers to respect their decree. Know, therefore, that
great treasures of King Darius, lately deposited by him in this city
of Damascus, are now about to be conveyed away by certain disloyal and
ill-disposed persons by way of Tadmor._”

“We shall have plenty of time to cut them off,” remarked Philotas
on reading the communication, “for they have the longer distance to
travel, and must move slowly. How will they travel, Philip?” he went on,
addressing a sub-officer, who had been in the country before.

“If they go by way of Tadmor,” replied the man, “they must cross the
desert, and will use camels; we had best be beforehand with them, before
they get far on the way.”

Philotas accordingly gave orders to his troop to start immediately. They
took an eastward direction, and by sunset had reached a point on the road
which would necessarily have to be passed by a caravan journeying from
Damascus. The keeper of the inn, one of the shelters for travellers which
the Persian Government had provided along the principal roads, informed
them that nothing of the kind described had as yet passed.

[Illustration: THE TREASURE CARAVAN.]

It was about sunset next day before the caravan appeared. It was
accompanied by a small escort of Persian soldiers, who, however, made no
attempt to defend their charge. Indeed, they showed so little surprise
or alarm at the appearance of the Macedonian troops that Philotas could
hardly help suspecting that the whole business had been contrived,
the removal of the treasure being only a feint, by means of which the
governor of the city hoped to get some credit with his new masters.
The packages with which the animals were loaded bore the royal seal.
These Philotas thought it best not to disturb. The Persian soldiers were
disarmed, and, as it would cause the party inconvenient delay were they
to be encumbered with prisoners, dismissed. They gave a promise not to
serve again, and as they were all of the unwarlike Syrian race, were very
likely to keep it. The caravan was then turned back by the way on which
it had come, and Damascus was reached without any further incident.

Philotas had been right when he anticipated that the city would be a prey
of extraordinary richness. The camp which had fallen into the hands of
the conquerors at Issus had seemed to these simple and frugal soldiers
the _ne plus ultra_ of luxury, while Darius and his nobles probably
fancied that they had limited what they had brought with them to the very
narrowest and most necessary requirements in furniture and followers.
It was at Damascus that the invaders discovered in what sort of state
the Great King travelled when he was not actually in the face of the
enemy. There was a vast amount of gold,[45] though this was small in
comparison with what afterwards fell into Alexander’s hands; but it was
the extraordinary number of ministers to the pleasures of the court that
struck the new-comers with astonishment. Parmenio, giving a catalogue of
his captures to the king, enumerates the following:

    329 Singing-girls.
     46 Male chaplet-makers.
     77 Cooks.
     29 Kitchen-helpers, perhaps turnspits (“pot-boilers” is the word
          in the original).
     13 Makers of milk puddings.
     17 Strainers of wine.
     40 Perfume makers.

And these belonged to the royal establishment alone! The great nobles had
establishments, not, indeed, on so large a scale, but still incredibly
magnificent and costly. The booty in treasure and slaves that was at the
disposal of the conquerors was simply beyond all reckoning.

After an interview with the governor, whom he thanked with perfect
gravity for his timely communication, Philotas thought it better to
encamp his men outside the city, and there await the arrival of the main
body under his father. Some disaster might happen if he allowed his
frugal campaigners free access to a place so full of temptations.

Charidemus, who indeed was not strictly under his command, was not
prevented from visiting the city. His first inquiries were for Charondas,
whom he found in the company of his compatriot, and whose release
from the nominal custody in which he had been kept he obtained without
difficulty.

He had not, we may be sure, forgotten Barsiné, and, still less, the young
Clearista; and he had good reason for believing that they were both in
Damascus. Memnon, he remembered, had spoken of sending his wife and his
niece to Susa, nominally as hostages, really to remove them as far as
possible from the scene of war. Doubtless this had been done. But Darius,
he heard, had carried the hostages with him in his train, and when he
had resolved to risk a battle, had sent them to Damascus. The difficulty
was in finding them. Not only was the city so crowded with the harems
of the great Persian nobles that the search would in any case have been
difficult, but it was impossible to ask questions. The Persians shut up
their wives and daughters with a jealous care, and the Greeks about the
Court had adopted their customs. Even intimate friends never spoke to
each other about the women of their families. For two young soldiers to
go about making inquiries about certain high-born ladies was a thing not
to be thought of. If they were so rash as to do it, they certainly would
get no answer. The idea of meeting them in public only suggested itself
to be put aside. At any time it would have been most unlikely. Ladies of
high rank never went out but in carriages, and then they were closely
veiled. As things were then, with an invading army in possession of the
town, it was extremely unlikely that they would go out at all.

[Illustration: THE SWING.]

Once, indeed, our hero fancied that chance had given him a clue. The
two friends had wandered down a lane shaded on either side by the
trees that overhung it from two high-walled gardens, and leading down
to one of the streams that make Damascus a mass of greenery. A flash
of something bright moving amidst the foliage of the trees caught the
eye of Charidemus. It disappeared, and then again became visible, to
disappear once more as quickly. It was a minute or two before the young
man realized that what he saw shining so brightly in the sunshine was
the hair of a girl who was swinging between two trees. More he could
not see from where he stood, or from any part of the lane, so thick,
except in one small spot, was the foliage. Even to climb the wall would
not have served him. But the glimpse was enough. Charondas was both
incredulous and amused when his friend asserted that this particular tint
of auburn was to be found on no head throughout Persia and Greece save
on Clearista’s alone. They were arguing the point when a huge negro,
carrying some gardening tools, issued from a door in the wall of the
opposite garden. He made a clumsy salutation to the two young soldiers,
but eyed them with an expression of suspicion and dislike. The next time,
and that was not later than the following day, that the friends sought
to make their way to the same spot, they found the entrance to the lane
barred by a quite impracticable gate. That flash of auburn hair in the
sunshine might have been a clue; but if so, the clue seemed to have been
lost.



CHAPTER XIV

MANASSEH THE JEW


The two friends had been talking after their supper about the repulse
of the morning, and were now musing over the problem before them in a
perplexed silence, when Charidemus started up from his seat, and brought
down his hand with an emphatic blow upon the table. “I have it,” he
cried, “Manasseh the Jew!”

Charondas had heard the story of the combat by the ford of the Orontes,
and of the confidence, or what, if time had allowed, would have been the
confidence, of the dying Persian; but he did not see the connection of
the name with the subject of their discussion. “How can the Jew serve,
you?” he said.

“I am told,” answered Charidemus, “that the Jew knows everything. Anyhow
I feel that I have got hold of a clue. I am driven to despair by having
to climb up what I may call a perfectly blank wall, without a single
crevice or crack to put my foot in. Here is something that may give me
a hold. This Manasseh is doubtless a man of some importance, one who
has dealings with great people. What Artabazus wanted me to do for him,
what I am to say to Manasseh, or Manasseh is to say to me, I have not an
idea. But still I feel that there is something. There will be some kind
of relation between us; he will recognize the chain and bracelet; he will
see that Artabazus trusted me. Perhaps I shall be able to help him, and
perhaps he will be able to help me. Anyhow I shall go.”

“And you had better go alone,” suggested Charondas.

“Perhaps so,” replied the Macedonian.

It was not difficult to find Manasseh. The Jews had a quarter of their
own in Damascus which they had occupied, though not, it may be supposed,
without some interruptions, for several centuries.[46] In this quarter
Manasseh was one of the leading inhabitants, and Charidemus was at once
directed to his dwelling. The exterior of the Damascus houses seldom gave
much idea of what the interior was like. You entered by an unpretending
door in a mean-looking front, and found something like a palace within.
Manasseh’s dwelling surprised the visitor in this way. It was built
round a spacious quadrangle, in the centre of which a fountain played,
surrounded by orange, pomegranate, and myrtle trees. The ground floor of
the building was occupied by a colonnade. Above this was the apartment of
the family, furnished with a splendour and wealth known only to a few.
Chance comers and visitors on business Manasseh the Jew was accustomed
to see in a plainly-furnished room close to the gate. The Jews were even
then beginning to learn that painful lesson of prudence as regarded the
display of their wealth which afterwards they had so many reasons to
practise.

Manasseh was civil to his visitor, whom, from a hasty survey of his
person, he conjectured to be an impecunious young officer, whose object
was to borrow some money, for the Jews had already begun to follow the
trade of money-lender. When Charidemus produced the chain and bracelets
which had belonged to Artabazus, Manasseh’s first impression was that
they were articles offered by way of security for an advance. He took
them up in a careless way to examine them, but his look and manner
changed at a nearer inspection.

“How came you by these?” he asked, and his voice was stern and even
menacing.

The Macedonian told the story with which my readers are already
acquainted. “What more Artabazus would have told me,” he went on to say,
“I know not. He had only strength to utter your name, and the place where
I might find you. But I felt bound to come. It was clear that for some
reason he wished it; and it was the least I could do for him.”

“You have done well, sir,” said the Jew. “Pardon me if I had harsher
thoughts of you. And now, let me think.”

Manasseh walked up and down the room several times in an agitation that
contrasted strangely enough with the cool and business-like air which he
had worn at the beginning of the interview. Then he paused.

“Young man,” he said, “you are not, I know, of my faith, and I cannot ask
you, as I would ask one of my own race, to swear by the God of Israel.
But I have lived long enough among the Gentiles to know that there are
oaths which bind them as surely as to swear by the Lord binds a son of
Abraham. And I have learnt, too, that there is among them, even as there
is among us, that which is stronger than all oaths, the sense of right
and truth in the heart. I believe that you are one of those who have this
sense; I seem to see it in your face; you have shown it by coming here
to-day on this errand. A man who keeps his word to the dead will not
break it to the living. I will trust you. And now listen to my story.
The dead man whose chain and bracelets you have brought here to-day was,
I may say, my friend. Between his race and mine there has been a close
tie for many generations. He, indeed, as I dare say you know, was of
one of the noblest houses of Persia, and we were of the captivity of
Judah. Still my fathers have done some service for his in times past, as,
indeed, his have done for mine. You would not care to hear how it was;
but, believe me, it was so. We of the house of Israel can sometimes do
more than the world would think. But enough of this; let me go on to that
which concerns the present. The sister of this Artabazus is Barsiné, who
was the wife and is the widow of Memnon the Rhodian.”

Charidemus gave an unmistakeable start when he heard the name.

“What!” cried the Jew, “you know her?”

Charidemus in as few words as possible related how he had been taken
prisoner at Halicarnassus, and had there made the acquaintance of Memnon
and his family.

The Jew’s face lighted up when he heard it. “You make my task easier. I
now feel that I can speak to you, not only as to a man of honour, but as
to a friend. When Memnon sent his wife and his niece—you saw the niece?”

The young man assented, not without the consciousness of a blush.

“When Memnon sent his wife and niece to court, Artabazus made interest
with the king that they should be allowed to reside here in Damascus,
rather than at Susa. The climate was better, and there were other
reasons. I may tell you, though I dare say you had an opportunity of
seeing so much for yourself, that Artabazus, like his sister, had had a
Greek bringing up, and that there were some things in Persian ways that
did not please him or her. Well, being in high favour with the king, he
got his request. Barsiné and the girl were sent to this city her brother
making himself responsible for them. I found a home for them; and I
have managed their affairs. A few weeks since the king, as you know,
sent all his harem here, all his hostages and guests, in fact, all his
establishment of every sort and kind. Then came his defeat at Issus, and
now everything belongs to the conquerors. I had hoped that Barsiné and
her niece might have lived quietly here till these troubles were passed.
If all this crowd of men and women and slaves had been left at Susa
it might have been so. But the situation is changed. They too must be
included in any list of the prisoners that have come into the possession
of your king. I have been thinking over the matter long and anxiously.
Once or twice it has occurred to me to send them away. But whither was I
to send them? What place is out of the reach of your arms?”

He paused, overpowered by the perplexities of the situation. “God of
Israel,” he cried, “what am I to do?”

“What says the Lady Barsiné herself?” interposed the Macedonian. “I
judged her, when I was in her company, to be one who could very well
think for herself.”

“She is so,” said Manasseh, “and in any case she must be told of her
brother’s death. Come to me again, if you will, in two days’ time, and
come after dark. It is as well to be secret.”

Charidemus took his leave, just a little touched in conscience by the
Jew’s praises. He felt that he had gone on an errand of his own, in
which, indeed, he had succeeded beyond all his hopes; and he was ashamed
to be praised for a loyalty to the dead which had certainly been quite
second in his thoughts.

He did not fail, it may be supposed, to present himself at the appointed
time. The Jew greeted him warmly, and said, “The Lady Barsiné wishes to
see you. Let us go; but not by the street. It would be well that neither
you nor I should be seen.”

He led the way into the garden. There was light enough, the moon having
now risen, for Charidemus to catch a glimpse of spacious lawns, terraces
ornamented with marble urns and balustrades, and trees of a stately
growth. His guide conducted him down a long avenue of laurel, and another
of myrtle, that ran at right angles with the first. At the end of the
second they came to a small door in the wall. This brought them into a
lane which the Macedonian seemed to recognize, so far as was possible
in so different a light, as that into which he and his companion had
strayed three days before. Almost facing the gate by which they had gone
out was another in the opposite wall. This opened into another garden,
arranged similarly to that which they had just left, but much smaller.
The house had no front to the street, but stood pavilionwise in the
centre of the enclosure. Manasseh knocked, or rather kicked, at a small
postern door. When this had been cautiously opened a few inches, the
bolts having been withdrawn but the chain remaining fastened, the Jew
gave his name, which was evidently a sufficient password, the chain being
immediately withdrawn by the porter.

“The Lady Barsiné awaits you,” said the man, and led the way down a
richly carpeted passage on which their footsteps fell in perfect silence,
to a room which was evidently the library. By the side of the hearth,
on which a small fire of cedar-wood was burning, was a chair of ebony
richly inlaid with ivory. Close to this stood a citron table, on which
was a silver lamp and a roll of manuscript, which a curious eye might
have found to be the “Dirges” of Pindar. Book-cases and busts were ranged
round the walls, which were hung with embroidery representing the contest
of Athena and Poseidon, a design copied from the West Pediment of the
Parthenon. One wall of the room, however, was occupied by a replica of
Protogenes’s great masterpiece, “The Piping Satyr.”

The room was empty when the two visitors were shown into it; but in the
course of a few minutes Barsiné appeared. Grief had robbed her of the
brilliant bloom of her beauty, but had given to her face a new and more
spiritual expression. When Charidemus last saw her she might have been a
painter’s model for Helen, a Helen, that is, who had not learnt to prefer
a lover to a husband; now she was the ideal of an Andromaché. She caught
hold of Manasseh’s hand, and lifted it to her lips, and then turned to
greet his companion. She had been prepared for his coming, but the sight
of him overcame her self-control. She was not one of the women who sob
and cry aloud. Persian though she was—and the Persians were peculiarly
vehement in the expression of their grief—she had something of a Spartan
fortitude; but she could not keep back the big tears that rolled silently
down her cheeks.

“It is a sad pleasure to see you,” she said at last, addressing the
Macedonian, when she had recovered her voice. “My Memnon liked you well;
he often spoke of you after you left us; and now I find that my dear
brother liked you and trusted you also. I know you will help me if you
can. Have you any counsel to give to the most unhappy of women?”

“Alexander,” said the Macedonian, “is the most generous of conquerors.
I would say, Appeal to his clemency and compassion. I know that he
respected and admired your husband. I have heard him say—for he has
often deigned to talk of such things with me—that Memnon was the
only adversary that he feared in all Asia. ‘Whether or no I am an
Achilles’—these, lady, were his very words—‘he is certainly a Hector.’ Go
to him, then, I say—he comes to-morrow or the next day—throw yourself at
his feet. Believe me, you will not repent of it.”

“Oh, sir,” cried the unhappy woman, “that is hard advice for the widow
of Memnon and the daughter of Artabazus to follow. To grovel before him
on the ground as though I were a slave! It is more than I can bear. Oh!
cannot I fly from him to some safe place? Tell me, father,” and she
caught Manasseh’s hand, “you know everything, tell me whither I can go.
Should I not be out of his reach in Tyre?”

“Lady,” said Manasseh, “I have put this question to myself many times,
and have not found an answer. I do not know how you can escape from
him. As for Tyre, I am not even sure that it will attempt to stand out
against him; but I am sure that if it does it will bitterly repent
it. She repented of having stood out against Nebuchadnezzar,[47] and
Nebuchadnezzar is to this man as a vulture is to an eagle. And there are
words, too, in our sacred books which make me think that an evil time is
coming for her. No! I would say, Do not trust yourself to Tyre. And would
you gain if you fled to the outer barbarians, to those that dwell by the
fountains of the Nile, if you could reach them, or to the Arabs? Would
they treat you, think you, better than he, who is at least half a Greek?”

“Let me think,” cried Barsiné, “let me have time.”

“Yes,” said Manasseh, “but not so much time as would rob your
supplication of all its grace. Go to him as a suppliant; let him not
claim you as a prisoner.”

Some little talk on other matters followed; but the conversation
languished, and it was not long before the visitors took their leave.



CHAPTER XV

ANDROMACHÉ


The next night Manasseh and Charidemus presented themselves at Barsiné’s
house. Both men were extremely anxious. Further delay, they felt, was
impossible. Any hour the unhappy lady might find whatever chance she
had irretrievably lost. They did not augur well for her decision that
she kept them waiting for nearly an hour after their coming had been
announced to her; nor from her first words when at last she appeared.

“The Macedonian has not yet come, has he?” she asked.

“Madam,” replied Charidemus, “the king arrived this afternoon.”

She wrung her hands in silence.

“And to-morrow the governor of the city will present him with the list of
the property and persons left here by King Darius. This will be compared
with the list already made by Parmenio.”

“But my name may not be in it,” she eagerly interposed.

“Madam,” said Manasseh, “do not flatter yourself with such a hope.
The widow of the man who commanded the Great King’s forces is far too
important a person to be forgotten. You may depend upon it that there is
no one in the whole kingdom, except, it may be, the wife and child of
Darius himself, whom the king is more bent on getting into his possession
than the widow of Memnon the Rhodian.”

“It is so, madam,” broke in Charidemus; “nay, I know that your name is
in Parmenio’s list, for Philotas his son showed it me. I entreat you to
act without delay. You should have seen the king on his first arrival.
To-night it is impossible. But go to-morrow, as early as may be, before
he sees the list—and he begins business betimes—that you may still seem
to have given yourself up of your own accord.”

Barsiné made no answer, but paced up and down the room in uncontrollable
agitation. At last she addressed the Macedonian.

“You know him; you do not speak by hearsay, or as courtiers who flatter a
king?”

“Madam,” replied Charidemus, “I have seen him at times when men show
their real selves—at the banquet and in the battle-field.”

“And he is merciful and generous? Strong he is and valiant, I know. My
Memnon used to say that he had not his match in the world, and he had
seen him fight. But he is one, you say, who can have compassion also, who
can pity the suppliant?”

“Madam,” said the young man, “I believe from my heart that he is.”

“Then I will go to him; I will throw myself at his feet; I will implore
his compassion for myself and my children.”

“There shall be no need for you to do so, lady,” said a voice from the
other end of the room.

At the same time the tapestry that covered another door was moved apart,
and Alexander himself stood before them. He was unarmed, except for a
light cuirass of richly gilded steel and a sword. His head was uncovered;
his hair, which he wore long after the fashion of the heroic age, fell
in golden curls about his neck. His face, with lustrous deep-blue eyes,
features chiselled after the purest Greek type, and fair complexion just
now flushed with a delicate rose, was of a beauty singularly attractive.

So unexpected, so startling was the sight that Manasseh and his young
companion could only stare in mute astonishment. Charidemus, as became
his soldierly instincts and habits, was the first to recover his
self-possession. He stood at attention, and saluted. Barsiné covered her
face with her hands.

Alexander gazed at the scene with a smile, enjoying, one may believe,
with a certain satisfaction the astonishment that his appearance had
caused. After a brief silence he spoke again. “I thank you, venerable
sir,” he began, addressing himself to Manasseh, “for the words of truth
that you have uttered, and the admirable advice that you have given to
the Lady Barsiné. It is true that there is no one in the whole kingdom of
Persia whom Alexander is more anxious to secure than the widow of Memnon
the Rhodian. Nor could you have given her better advice than that she
should surrender herself to me of her own free will. And you, my young
friend,” he went on, turning to Charidemus, “you I thank most heartily
for the praises that you have bestowed on my clemency. The gods grant
that I may always be not less worthy of them than I hope I am this day.
And now, lady, after that these gentlemen have spoken, as I trust, so
truly of me, let me speak for myself. But, first, will you permit me to
be seated?”

Barsiné murmured a half-audible assent, and the king took a chair
opposite to the couch on which she was reclining, and signed to the Jew
and Charidemus that they should seat themselves. They did so, first
respectfully withdrawing to the further end of the room.

The king went on: “Lady; you have never heard of me—save, it may be, from
Manasseh and Charidemus here—but as of an enemy, though I trust you have
heard no evil; let me now speak as a friend. Your husband fought against
me; it was not the will of the gods that he should succeed. Therefore
they first blinded the eyes of King Darius so that he could not see the
wisdom of his counsel; and then they shortened his days. Had he lived
I could not have been here to-day. But would it have been well that he
should succeed? He was a Greek, but he fought for Persia. Think you that
he wished in his heart that the Persian should triumph over Greece,
should be lord of Athens and Sparta, of Delphi and Olympia? I do not
forget, lady, that you are Persian by birth. Yes, but you are Greek in
soul, and you know in your heart that if one of the two must rule it must
be the Greek. But, believe me, I do not come to conquer, I come to unite.
Persians and Greeks are brothers, and, if the gods grant me my wish, they
shall be one nation of freemen with me for their chief. That your king
never could have been, nor, I may say, any Greek before me.

“This is my plan and hope; and now, lady, for the part that you can take
in completing and fulfilling it. I shall say it in a word. Be my wife.”

Barsiné was silent, and her face was still hidden in her hands; but her
neck flushed crimson.

“I am abrupt and hasty,” said Alexander, “kings must need be so when they
court. It were a happier lot for me, if I were one who could win for
himself, if it might be, by such means as lovers use, the heart of one so
beautiful and so wise. Still I would have you look on me as one who asks
rather than commands. What say you, most beautiful of women?”

“O, my lord,” stammered Barsiné, “I am not worthy.”

“Let that be my care,” said Alexander, “I know of none so worthy. It is
only you that have the right to question my choice.”

To say that Barsiné was overwhelmed by the situation in which she
found herself is to say but a small part of the truth. She had been so
much occupied with the thought of whether or no she should appeal to
Alexander’s compassion, that the idea of what might be the result of
her appeal had scarcely crossed her mind. If she had been conscious of
any definite hope, it was that she might be allowed to hide herself in
some retirement, where she might educate her son. And now what a destiny
was put at his feet! To be the wife of the conqueror of Asia! for who
could doubt that he would be this? She was confused, but it was not the
confusion of dismay. She was not a broken-hearted widow whose heart was
in her husband’s grave; and though she had really loved her Memnon, as
indeed he was worthy to be loved, life was not over for her. And what a
life seemed to be opening before her! And yet it was so sudden! And the
wooing was so imperious!

“My lord,” she began, “your commands——”

“Said I not,” broke in the king, “that I did not command, that I asked?
Now, listen to me. You are free; you shall do what you will. If you wish
to depart, depart you shall; and I will do my best to provide safely and
well for you and yours. But you must think of others. There is your son.
Though I come of the race of Neoptolemus, I am not of his temper; I could
not hurl a young Scamandrius from the wall,[48] however many the comrades
whom his father had slain. Not so; I will deal with him as it is fit that
I should deal with Memnon’s son. He shall learn to be like his father in
my camp. And your niece Clearista” (Alexander, as has been said before,
had the faculty of knowing everything), “we must find some more suitable
home for her. Perhaps our good friend Manasseh here can think of such.
And now, farewell; I shall come again, lady, and ask my answer.”

With a deep obeisance to Barsiné he left the room; and Manasseh and
Charidemus followed him.



CHAPTER XVI

TO JERUSALEM


The wooing of kings is commonly successful, and Alexander’s courtship
was no exception to the rule. It can hardly be said that Barsiné loved
him; but then it was not expected that she should. Her first marriage
had been, in a great degree, a matter of policy. The most brilliant and
able Greek of his day was a husband whom her father had been delighted
to secure for her. Even the Great King had exerted himself to further a
match which would help to secure so valiant a soldier for the defence of
his throne. She had come to love her Memnon indeed; but this was but an
instance of the kindly forgiveness which love often extends to those who
break his laws. Her new suitor was not one to be resisted. And, however
truly he might profess only to sue, circumstances made his suing a
command. If she accepted the liberty that he offered her, whither was she
to turn, her father and brother dead, and her country manifestly destined
to fall into a conqueror’s hand. At the same time the generosity of his
offer touched her heart. She might know in her own mind that her choice
was not free; but it soothed her woman’s pride to be told that it was.

Alexander’s feelings in the matter was a curious compound of various
sentiments. The woman attracted him; he found her more beautiful even
than common report had described her, and according to report, she, after
the Queen of Darius, was the most lovely of Persian women. Then the idea
of making the two nations, Greeks and Persians, into one, was really a
powerful motive with him,[49] and he thought it might be furthered by
this alliance. But beyond all doubt the master thought in his mind was
of a more sentimental kind. As has been said before, it delighted him
beyond all things to act Homer. And here was three of the parts ready
made to his hand. Memnon was Hector, as long as he lived the chief stay
of Persia, Persia being the heir of Troy; Barsiné was Andromaché, and he
was Achilles or the son of Achilles. In legend the son of Achilles had
taken Andromaché to wife; so would he; only he would play the part in
gentler and humaner fashion, as became one who had sat at the feet of the
greatest philosopher of the day.

A few days after the marriage had taken place, the king sent for
Charidemus to give him some instructions.

“You are to go to Jerusalem,” he said. “Manasseh the Jew counsels that
Clearista, the queen’s niece, should be sent thither. He seems to be
in the right. Certainly she cannot go with the army; and I know of no
place where she can be more safely bestowed than the city of the Jews.
Manasseh, too, has kinsfolk with whom she may sojourn. Of course she
must have an escort, and you will take two hundred horsemen with your
friend Charondas the Theban as the second in command. Then I have another
errand for you. I have a conviction that I shall have trouble with
Tyre. The other Phœnician cities, you know, have yielded. The Sidonians
actually asked me to choose a king for them, and I did, but I have
private information that Tyre means to hold out. If it does, I shall
find the Jews very useful. They can send me some soldiers, and their
soldiers, I am told, fight very well; but what I shall most want will be
provisions. Let them supply my army with these, and they shall not find
me ungrateful. This is what I want you to manage. You shall take a letter
from me to their High Priest—they have a curious fancy, I understand,
for being ruled by priests—which will state what I want. You will have
to back it up. Make them understand—and I have been told that they are
singularly obstinate—that I shall be better pleased if I can get what I
want peaceably, but that I mean to have it somehow.”

This commission was, as may be supposed, very much to the young man’s
taste. Though Jerusalem did not fill as great a space in the mind of a
Greek as it does in ours, it was a famous city, and Charidemus was glad
to have the chance of seeing it. Then this was his first independent
command. And, last not least, there was Clearista, and she was in his
charge! It was accordingly in the highest of spirits that he started.
It was reckoned to be about a six days’ journey if the traveller
followed the easiest and most frequented routes[50]; and six happier
days the young man had never spent. The care of Manasseh had provided
two companions for Clearista. One was an elderly lady, a kinswoman of
his own, Mariamne by name, the other one a girl about two years older
than the young lady herself, who was to act as her personal attendant.
Mariamne was carried in a litter; the two girls rode on donkeys.
Two sumpter mules followed with their baggage and effects. Half the
escort rode in front under the command of Charondas; of the other half
Charidemus took special command, but did not find his duties prevent
him from spending a considerable part of his time in the company of
his charge. At the end of each day’s journey the travellers reached
a caravanserai. The soldiers bivouacked in the spacious court-yards
of these places; the women had the best of such accommodation as the
building could furnish; and Mariamne always invited the two officers in
command to share their evening meal. These little entertainments seemed
to the guests to come to an end too soon; with so light a gaiety did
the talk flow on as they sat round the central brasier in the spacious
room of the caravanserai. There was still much of the unconsciousness of
childhood in Clearista. Her manner to Charidemus was perfectly frank and
sisterly, so unreserved, in fact, that it made it much easier for him to
keep his own secret. Still she had developed both in body and mind. Face
and form were more commanding, and seemed likely to more than fulfil all
their early promise of beauty. And a year of close companionship with
a cultured and thoughtful woman in Barsiné had taught her much. Nature
had given her a keen intelligence, and she had been now learning with
good result how to use it. Every day made Charidemus feel more strongly
that the happiness of his life was bound up in this young girl. But
he was lover enough to know that her heart was yet to be won. Her gay
friendliness, charming as it was, showed that she had not so much as
caught a glimpse of what was in his mind.

It could hardly, we may suppose, have been displeasing to the young
soldier-lover, if he had had some opportunity of showing his prowess
before his lady-love’s eyes, even, perhaps, of rescuing her from some
imminent peril. Nor indeed was the journey without some chances of this
kind. The Arabs of the desert, then as now, thought travellers a lawful
source of income, who might fairly be plundered, if they did not pay
for protection. These were the regular freebooters of the country, and
just then it swarmed with irregulars, fragments of the great host which
had been broken to pieces at Issus. Again and again, as the travellers
pursued their journey, little bands of suspicious looking horsemen might
be seen hovering near. Once, as they were making their way across the
fords of Jordan, an attack seemed imminent. A caravan was always most
helpless when it was struggling through a ford, and the Arabs knew their
opportunity. The vanguard had passed to the western side of the river,
and the convoy itself was in mid-stream, while the troopers of the
rearguard were tightening their saddle-girths and generally preparing to
enter the water. It was just the moment when, if ever, discipline was
relaxed, and the practised eye of the Arab chief who was wont to take
toll at that particular spot did not fail to observe it. His horsemen
had been lying in ambush in the jungle that skirted the narrow valley
of the river. Now they came galloping down, brandishing their spears and
uttering wild cries of defiance, till they had come within a bow-shot of
the caravan. Had there been the slightest sign of confusion or panic, the
feint would have been converted into a real attack. All troops would not
have stood firm, for the assailants outnumbered the escort by at least
two to one. But the men who had conquered at the Granīcus and at Issus
were not to be terrified by a horde of marauders. In a moment every man
was in his saddle, as cool and as steady as if he had been passing in
review under the eyes of his general on a field day. Clearista showed
herself a true soldier’s daughter, as Charidemus, while doing his part
as a leader, found time to observe. Her animal had just entered the
water when the charge was made. Instead of urging him on, she turned his
head again to the bank, at the same time signalling to her maid to do
the same. Many women would have striven in their panic to get as far as
possible from the enemy. A braver instinct bade her keep close to her
friends. To cross while fighting was going on would have distracted their
attention, even had there been no danger in attempting the ford without
help.

As a matter of fact not a blow was struck. The Arabs, then as now, loved
booty, but seldom cared to fight for it. They certainly did not think
of dashing themselves against the iron fence of the Macedonian pikes.
At a signal from the chief they checked themselves in full career, and
disappeared as suddenly as they had come.

The rest of the journey was accomplished without further adventure. It
was just about sunset on the sixth day when the Macedonians reached the
northern gate of the city. At the request of Charidemus, the gate-keeper
despatched a messenger with a letter for the High Priest with which
Manasseh had furnished him. In a short time an official appeared to whom
the Macedonian handed over his charges, taking for them a formal receipt.
He and his troopers remained for the night outside the walls in quarters
specially provided for the accommodation of foreign troops who might
approach the Holy City.

The next day he received an intimation that Jaddus the High Priest would
receive him. Jaddus had convened the Sanhedrim, or Hebrew Senate, and the
demands of Alexander had been considered. The substance of them, it must
be understood, was perfectly well known, though they had not yet been
formally made. There had been a long and fierce debate upon the matter,
but the Persian party, on whose side the High Priest had thrown all the
weight of his influence, had prevailed, and the Senate had resolved by a
large majority to reject the Macedonian’s demands.

The young envoy was introduced into the council chamber, and requested
to read the letter which it was understood he had brought from the king.
He read it, and it was translated, sentence by sentence into Hebrew by
an interpreter. He was then invited to address the Senate if he had
anything to urge upon them or to explain. This invitation he declined,
briefly remarking that the deeds of his master spoke more emphatically
and convincingly of the justice of his demands than any words of his
own could do. The question whether the demands of Alexander, King of
Macedonia, should or should not be granted was then put. As it had been
really decided before, the Senate had agreed to give an unanimous vote;
and the envoy, who was not behind the scenes, was not a little surprised
at the promptitude and decision with which a negative answer was given.

After announcing the result of the vote the High Priest addressed to the
envoy a short speech in justification, the substance of which he was to
convey to the Macedonian king.

“Tell your master,” he said, “that the children of Abraham desire to be
friends with all men, but allies of none. If Alexander has a quarrel with
any, let him pursue it with his own arms. The men of Tyre have given us
no offence; nay, rather they have been our friends for many generations.
When Solomon, son of David, built a house for the Lord, Hiram, King of
Tyre, helped him greatly in his work, sending him cedar-wood from Lebanon
and diverse other things, and skilful builders and artificers. And when
the Chaldæans burned with fire the house that Solomon had set up, and
Ezra the priest and Nehemiah the governor under Artaxerxes the king built
another in its place, then the men of Tyre helped us again. Therefore it
were unjust should we do aught to their prejudice. There is yet another
demand to which answer must be made. Your master says, ‘Pay me the
tribute that you were wont to pay to Darius.’ For the money we care not,
but the oath that we have sworn to the king we will not break. So long as
he lives, or till he shall himself loose us from it, so long will we be
faithful to it.”

The envoy received the message in silence, and left the council chamber.
A military guard conducted him to the gate, and in the course of a couple
of hours he was on his way with his command to join the main army. A week
later he was taking part in the investment of Tyre.



CHAPTER XVII

TYRE


It was a formidable task that Alexander had undertaken. Tyre was built
upon an island separated from the mainland by a channel half-a-mile
broad. Half of this channel was, indeed, shallow, but the other half,
that nearest to the city, was as much as twenty feet deep. The island
was surrounded by walls of the most solid construction, rising on one
side, that fronting the channel, to the enormous height of a hundred and
fifty feet. How was a place so strong to be taken, especially when the
besiegers had not the command of the sea?

Alexander’s fertility of resource did not fail him. A century and a half
before Xerxes had undertaken, or rather pretended to undertake,[51] the
construction of a mole from the mainland of Attica to the island of
Salamis. It was curiously in keeping with Alexander’s idea of retaliating
upon Persia its own misdoings that he should take one of its cities by
accomplishing in earnest what Xerxes had begun in pretence. Accordingly
he made preparations for constructing a great mole or embankment, which
was to be carried across from the mainland to the island. It was to be
seventy yards wide, and so, when completed, would give plenty of space
for carrying on operations against the walls.

Materials in abundance were at hand. The city of Old Tyre was on the
mainland. The greater part of it had been in ruins for many years, in
fact, ever since the siege by Nebuchadnezzar, and the rest was now
deserted by its inhabitants. From this plenty of stone and brick and
rubbish of all kinds could be obtained. Not far off were the forests of
Lebanon, contracted, indeed, within narrower limits than they had once
been, but still able to supply as much timber as was wanted. Of labour,
forced and free, there was no lack. The soldiers worked with a will, and
crowds of Syrian peasants were driven in from the neighbourhood to take
their part in the labour.

At first the operations were easy enough. The ground was soft so that the
piles could be driven in without any difficulty, and the water was so
shallow that it did not require much labour to fill up the spaces between
them. At the same time the Phœnician fleet did not venture, for fear of
running aground, to come near enough to damage or annoy the workmen.
It was when the embankment had been carried about half way across the
channel, and had touched the deeper water, that the difficulties began.
The men worked under showers of missiles, discharged from the ships and
even from the walls. The soldiers themselves, accustomed though they
were to risk their lives, did not ply their tools as promptly as usual;
the unwarlike peasants were simply paralyzed with fear. Though the king
himself was everywhere, encouraging, threatening, promising, sometimes
even putting his own hand to the work, little progress was made. So far
the advantage seemed to rest with the besieged. At the present rate
of advance Alexander would be as long making his way into the city as
Nebuchadnezzar had been.[52]

The next move was won by the besiegers. Two huge moveable towers were
constructed upon the finished portion of the mole. They were made of
wood, but the wood was covered with hides, and so made fireproof.
Catapults were placed on the top; from these such a fire of javelins,
bullets, and stones were kept up that the enemy’s ships could not
approach. Again the mole began to advance, the towers being moved
forwards from time to time so as to protect the newly finished portion.

It was now time for the Tyrians to bestir themselves, and they did so
effectually. A huge transport, originally made for carrying horses, was
filled with combustibles of every kind, caldrons of pitch and brimstone
being attached even to the yardarms of the masts. The stern was heavily
weighted with ballast, and the prow thus raised high above water. Taking
advantage of a day when the wind blew strongly on to the mole, the
Tyrians set light to the contents of this fire-ship, and after towing it
part of the way by a small ship on either side, let it drive towards the
embankment. It struck between the towers, the elevated prow reaching some
way over the top of the mole. The sudden shock, too, broke the masts, and
the burning contents of the caldrons were discharged. In a few moments
the towers were in a blaze, and all the work of weeks was lost.

It was now clear that without a fleet nothing could be done, and again
Alexander’s good fortune became conspicuous. Just at the critical time
when he most needed help, this help was supplied. The Persian fleet in
the Ægean had been broken up. Tyre had summoned back her own ships to
aid in her defence, and the other Phœnician cities had also recalled
their squadrons. But as these cities had submitted to Alexander their
ships were at his disposal. Other small contingents had come in, till he
could muster about a hundred men-of-war. Still he was not a match for the
Tyrians, the less so as these were by common consent the best of all the
Phœnician seamen. It was then that a decisive weight was thrown into his
side of the balance. The kings of Cyprus, a country which had no reason
to love the Persians, joined him, adding one hundred and twenty more
ships to his fleet. He could now meet his adversaries at sea on more than
equal terms.

It was necessary indeed before a battle could be ventured on to give
some time to discipline and practice. Many of the crews were raw and
unskilful, and the various contingents of which the fleet was composed
had never learnt to act together. Another great improvement, adding much
to the fighting force of the ships, was to put on board each of them a
small number of picked soldiers, who took the place of the marines in our
own navy. Charidemus and Charondas both found employment in this way, the
former being attached to the flag-ship, as it may be called, of the King
of Sidon, the latter to that of Androcles, Prince of Amathus in Cyprus.

After eleven days given to practice in manœuvring and general
preparation, Alexander sailed out from Sidon, where a _rendezvous_ had
been given to the whole naval force. The ships advanced in a crescent
formation, the king himself commanding on the right or sea-ward wing,
one of the Cyprian princes on the left; the latter skirted the shore as
closely as the depth of water permitted. The Tyrians, who now learnt for
the first time how great a fleet their enemy had succeeded in getting
together, did not venture to fight. They could do nothing more than
fortify the entrance to their two harbours, the Sidonian harbour, looking
to the north, and the Egyptian, looking to the south. Alexander, on the
other hand, established a blockade. The ships from Cyprus were set to
watch the northern harbour, those from the submitted Phœnician cities
that which looked to the south.

The Tyrians, however, though for the time taken by surprise, were
not going to give up without a struggle the command of the sea. They
came to the resolution to attack one of the blockading squadrons, and
knowing, perhaps, the skill and prowess of their fellow Phœnicians,
they determined that this one should be the contingent from Cyprus.
Each harbour had been screened from view by sails spread across its
mouth. Under cover of these, preparations were actively carried on in
that which looked towards the north. The swiftest and strongest of the
Tyrian ships, to the number of thirteen, were selected, and manned with
the best sailors and soldiers that could be found in the city. Midday,
when the Cyprian crews would be taking their noonday meal, and Alexander
himself, if he followed his usual practice, would be resting in his
tent, was fixed as the time for the attack. At midday, accordingly, the
thirteen galleys issued from the harbour mouth, moving in single file and
in deep silence, the crews rowing with muffled oars, and the officers
giving their orders by gesture. They had come close on the blockading
ships without being noticed, when a common signal was given, the crews
shouted, and the rowers plied their oars with all the strength that
they could muster. Some of the Cyprian ships had been almost deserted
by their crews, others lay broadside to; few were in a position to
make a vigorous resistance. Just at this moment, and long before his
usual time for returning, Alexander came back from his tent, and saw
the critical position of affairs. Prompt as ever, he manned a number of
the Cyprian ships that were lying at the mole, and sent for help to the
other squadron. The mouth of the northern harbour was promptly blockaded,
so that no more ships could get out to help the attacking galleys, and
these were soon assailed in the rear by a contingent from the blockading
squadron on the south side. The fortune of the day was effectually
restored, but some loss had already been sustained. Several of the
Cyprian ships had been sunk, and their crews either drowned or taken
prisoners. This had been the fate of the vessel of Androcles of Amathus.
The prince himself was drowned, and Charondas had very nearly shared his
fate. Weighed down by his armour, he could only just keep himself afloat
by the help of a spar which he had seized. A Tyrian sailor who saw him in
this situation was about to finish him with the blow of an oar, when an
officer, seeing that the swimmer must be a man of some rank, interfered.
The Theban was dragged on board, and, with some thirty or forty others,
three of whom were Macedonians or Greeks, carried back into the city.

When the losses of the day were reckoned up the first impression was
that Charondas had shared the fate of his captain. Later in the evening
the real truth was known. A Cypriote sailor, one of the crew of the lost
ship, had seen what had happened. He was supporting himself in the water
by holding on to a mass of broken timber, and, luckily for himself, had
not been observed. Two or three hours later he had been picked up by a
friendly vessel, but in such a state of exhaustion that he could give no
account of himself. It was not till late in the night that he recovered
his senses. Charidemus, who had refused to give up hope, was called to
hear the man’s story, and satisfied himself that it was true. But he
could not be sure that his friend had not better have been drowned than
been taken as a prisoner into Tyre.

His fears were greatly increased by the events of the next day.
Alexander, who had a great liking for Charondas, and whose conscience
was especially tender whenever anything Theban was concerned, sent a
herald early in the morning to negotiate an exchange of prisoners. The
man returned without succeeding in his mission. The Tyrians refused the
proposal, vouchsafing no other reason for their refusal except that they
had other uses for their prisoners.

Charidemus found himself that evening the next neighbour of a young
Sidonian noble, at a banquet which the king was giving to some of his
Phœnician allies. He asked him what he thought was the real meaning
of the somewhat obscure answer which the herald had brought back that
morning.

“I hope,” said the young man, “that there is no friend of yours among the
prisoners.”

“Yes, but there is,” was the answer. “The very dearest friend that I have
is in the city.”

The Sidonian—he was the son of the newly-appointed king of that
city—looked very grave. “I know something of these Tyrians and of their
ways, which indeed are not very different from ours. They mean to
sacrifice these prisoners to the gods.”

Charidemus uttered an exclamation of horror.

“Yes,” said the Sidonian, “it is shocking, but it is not so very long, as
I have read, since you Greeks did the same. But let that pass; you are
thinking what is to be done. Stop,” he went on, for Charidemus started up
from his seat, “you can’t take Tyre single-handed. And I think I might
help you. Let me consider for a few moments.”

After a pause he said, “You are ready, I take it, to risk a good deal for
your friend.”

“Yes,” cried the Macedonian, “my life, anything.”

“Well; we must get him out. Fortunately there are two or three days to
think about it. At least I hope so. There is always a great sacrifice to
Melkarth—your Hercules, as, I dare say, you know—on the new moon; and
they will probably reserve the principal prisoner for that. The moon is,
I know, four days short of being new. So we have time to think. Come
with me to my quarters, when we can leave this place, and let us talk the
matter over.”

It was not long before the two contrived to slip away from their places
at the table. When they found themselves alone, the prince began—

“We might get into Tyre, I think, unobserved.”

“_We_,” interrupted Charidemus in intense surprise. “Do _you_ think of
going with me?”

“Why not?” returned his companion. “I am fond of adventure, and this
really seems to promise very well. And I have other reasons, too; but
they will do another day when I will tell you my story. Of course you
must have some one with you who can speak the language; so that if you
are willing to have me for a comrade, I am ready.”

The Macedonian could only clasp the prince’s hand. His heart was too full
to allow him to speak.

“Well,” the other went on, “as I said, we might get in unobserved. There
is a way of clambering up the wall on the sea side—I lived, you must
know, for a year in Tyre, working in one of the dockyards.[53] Or we
might swim into one of the harbours at night. But the chances are very
much against us; and if we were to be caught, it would be all over with
us, and your friend too. And besides, supposing that we did get in, I
don’t see what we could do. No; we must take a bolder line; we must go
openly. We must make some plausible pretext; and then, having got in,
we will see what can be done for your friend. Now as for myself, there
is no difficulty. I have a good reason. You know we Sidonians took part
with your king. It seemed to us that we had no other choice, and that it
would have been downright folly to attempt to hold out against him. But
these Tyrians, though we are fighting against them, are, after all, of
our blood—you see I talk quite frankly to you—and, if things come to the
worst with them, as they must come, sooner or later, then we shall do our
best to save as many of them as we can. I have really a commission to
tell them this, and to warn them that, if the city is stormed, they must
make for our ships. But the question is—how are you to go?”

A thought struck Charidemus. He wondered indeed that it had not occurred
before. He showed the Sidonian the ring which King Darius had given him.
“Perhaps this may help me,” he said. The prince was delighted. “It is the
very thing,” he said. “You need not fear anything, if you have that with
you. The Tyrians will respect that, though the prisoners tell us that
they are very sore at being left all these months without any help from
the king. I should not profess to have any message from him. They have
been looking for help, not messages. No; I should recommend you simply to
show the ring. It will be a safe-conduct for you. Once in, we shall begin
to see our way.”

The next morning brought only too convincing a proof that the Sidonian
prince was right in his conjecture about the fate destined for the
prisoners. Three of these unhappy creatures were brought on to that part
of the city wall which faced the mole, and sacrificed as a burnt-offering
with all the formalities of Phœnician worship. The besiegers watched
the performance of the hideous ceremony with unspeakable rage in their
hearts. Their only comfort was to vow vengeance against the ruthless
barbarians who perpetrated such atrocities. The three victims, as far as
could be made out, were Cypriote sailors belonging to the ships that had
been sunk. Charidemus was able to satisfy himself that his friend was not
one of them.

It was arranged that the two adventurers should make their way that night
to one of the ships of war that guarded the entrance to the Sidonian
harbour. They were to put off after dark with every appearance of
secrecy, were to be pursued, and as nearly as possible captured, by a
Macedonian galley, and so were to present themselves to the besieged as
genuine fugitives.

The little drama was acted to perfection. The prince and Charidemus stole
out in a little boat from the land. A minute or so afterwards a hue and
cry was raised upon the shore, and a galley started in pursuit. The boat
was so nearly overtaken that its occupants jumped overboard, and swam to
the nearest Tyrian galley. No one who saw the incident could doubt that
it was a genuine escape.

The two companions were brought into the presence of Azemilcus, King
of Tyre. The king had been in command of the Tyrian squadron in the
Ægean fleet, and had seen Charidemus in Memnon’s company. By great good
fortune he had not happened to inquire in what character he was there.
So friendly had Memnon’s demeanour been to the young man that no one
would have taken him for a prisoner, and Azemilcus had supposed that he
was a Greek in the service of Persia, who was assisting Memnon in the
capacity of secretary or _aide-de-camp_. This recollection and the sight
of the ring perfectly satisfied him. Nor did he seem to doubt the real
friendliness of the Sidonian’s message. It seemed to him, as indeed it
was, perfectly genuine,[54] and he warmly thanked the two companions for
the risk they had run. They frankly explained that they had not really
meant to desert from the besieging army. Such a proceeding, indeed,
would have seemed suspicious in the critical condition of the city. They
had hoped, on the contrary, to come and return unobserved. As it was,
having been seen and pursued, they must stay and take their chance with
the besieged.

Azemilcus invited the two young men to be his guests at supper. He had
lived a good deal with Greeks, and spoke their language fluently, besides
having adopted some of their ways of thought. When the conversation
happened to turn on the sacrifices to Melkarth, he explained that he
had nothing to do with them, though without expressing any particular
horror or disgust. “The priests insist upon them, and though I don’t
like such things, I am not strong enough to resist. You see,” he went
on to explain, for the benefit of the Greek guests, “we Phœnicians are
much more religious than you, and if I were to set myself against an old
custom of this kind, it would very likely cost me my throne and my life.”

In the course of the conversation it came out that the victims intended
for sacrifice were kept in a chamber adjoining the Temple of Melkarth,
and that, as the Sidonian prince had supposed, the next great ceremony
would take place on the approaching new moon.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE ESCAPE


The two companions, at the prince’s request, shared the same room, and
sat up late into the night, considering what was next to be done. The
king’s palace, where they were quartered, almost adjoined the temple.
But, beyond the fact that they were near to the scene of their proposed
operations, they could see little light. A hundred plans were started,
discussed, and rejected, and they threw themselves down on their beds
as dawn began to steal through the windows of their apartment, with
a feeling of something like despair. They had come, however, to one
conclusion. The Sidonian was to pay a visit to the temple early on the
following morning. There would be nothing singular in his doing so.
In fact, it would be more remarkable if he did not. If Melkarth was
specially worshipped in Tyre, he was, at the same time, not without
honour in Sidon; and a prince of the reigning house, the heir, in
fact, to the throne, would be expected to pay his respects to the god.
Charidemus, on the other hand, it was felt, would do well to stop away.
The popular temper was angry and suspicious, and it would be well to
avoid anything that might irritate it.

The prince paid his visit accordingly, was present at the morning
sacrifice, and propitiated the priests of the temple by an offering
of twelve of the gold pieces with which he had prudently filled his
pockets. This, however, meant very little. A more hopeful fact, as
regarded their chances of success, was the discovery that one of the
temple attendants was an old acquaintance of the prince’s, like him a
Sidonian by birth, who had worked with him in the dockyards, and had now
found a easier place in one of the subordinate offices of the temple.
The prince suspected that the man had the charge of the victims, having
seen him carry what looked like a basket of provisions into one of the
ante-chambers of the temple, but, for fear of arousing suspicion, had
not made any inquiries on the subject. He had not even, for the present,
discovered himself to his old comrade. The question was, how far the man
could be trusted. If he betrayed them, all was lost; on the other hand,
could his help be secured, the prospect of escape for themselves and
Charondas was most hopeful. And they had large inducements to offer, a
handsome sum of money in hand, the promise of his life should the city
be taken, and the hope of future advancement in his profession. He might
be a fanatic. In that case all would be lost. But the presumption was
against the idea. Fanaticism is commonly found in those who worship in
a temple rather than in those who serve in it. He might, again, be a
coward. That would be equally fatal. But, if he were a man of average
temper and courage, who would be willing to rescue a fellow creature from
death, if he found himself well paid for doing it, things might go well.

It was finally agreed—indeed no prospect seemed to open out in any other
direction—that the prince should discover himself to the man, and sound
him. This was done, and with a result that was fairly satisfactory, as
far as it went. The man had been much impressed by the new dignity of
his former comrade, and still more by his condescension and kindness
in seeking him out, and he had been effusively grateful for a present
of half-a-score of gold pieces. Asked about his pay and his duties, he
had told his questioner that he had charge of the victims destined for
sacrifice, and had mentioned that he had several under his care at the
moment. He spoke of one in particular with a good deal of feeling. He was
a fine young fellow, and he was very sorry for him. It seemed a monstrous
thing to butcher him in this fashion. In the course of the conversation
it came out that there was a serious difficulty in the case. The care of
the victims was divided between two attendants, and the other, according
to the Sidonian’s account, was a brutal and fanatical fellow, who
gloated over the fate of his charges.

After long and anxious consideration a plan was finally decided upon,
subject, of course, to such modifications as circumstances might suggest.
The prince and Charidemus, the latter being disguised as a slave, were
to make their way into the temple, shortly before it was closed for the
night. Then, and not till then, the friendly attendant was to be taken
into confidence. He seemed a man whom the weight of a secret might very
likely so burden as to make him helpless, and who might be best won by
large bribes and offers made at the last moment. If the worst came to the
worst, he might be overpowered, a course that would certainly have to be
taken with his colleague.

There was a private way from the palace into the temple, which was almost
in darkness when the companions reached it. Whatever light there was came
from a single lamp that hung between the two famous pillars, one of gold,
and one, it was said, of emerald, which were the glory of the place and
the admiration of travellers.[55] Charidemus had no thoughts for anything
but the perilous task that he had in hand, though he carried away from
the place a general impression of vast wealth and barbaric splendour.

The friendly attendant came forward to meet the new-comers. The prince
caught him by the arm. “Swear,” he said, “by Melkarth, to help us, and
don’t utter another sound, or you die this instant.” The man stammered
out the oath.

“That is well,” said the prince, “we knew that we could trust you. You
shall have wealth and honour. When Alexander is master of Tyre, you shall
be priest of the temple. Now listen to what we want. We must have this
Greek prisoner who is to be sacrificed to the god at the feast of the new
moon. He is dear to our king, and must not die.”

At this moment the other attendant came up the central avenue of the
temple, of course utterly unsuspicious of danger. The prince, a young man
of more than usual muscular power, seized him by the throat. He uttered a
stifled cry, which, however, there was no one in the temple to hear. The
next moment he was gagged, bound hand and foot, and dragged into a small
side chapel, the door of which was fastened upon him from the outside.
His keys had previously been taken from him.

“Now for the prisoner,” said the prince.

The attendant led the way to a door that opened out from the north-east
corner of the temple, and this he unlocked. It led into a spacious
chamber well lighted by two lamps that hung from the arched ceiling.
Charondas was seated on a chair of ebony and ivory; all the belongings of
the place were handsome and even costly. Round his waist was a massive
chain of gold (the prisoners of the god could not be bound by anything
less precious), which was fastened to a staple in the wall. The attendant
unlocked it, using—for the lock was double—first his own key, and then
one that had been taken from the person of his colleague.

“Explanations afterwards,” whispered Charidemus; “now we must act.”

The prince looked inquiringly at the attendant. What was to be done
after the release of the prisoner was to be left, it had been agreed, to
circumstances. What the circumstances really were, no one knew so well as
this man.

“I have it,” cried the temple servant, meditating for a few moments, and
he led the way to a small chamber used for keeping the sacred vestments.
He then explained his plan.

“There is a small temple at the mouth of the southern harbour. If we can
get there, it will be something; and I think we can. Anyhow it is our
best chance.”

Charidemus and the prince were disguised as priests. So ample
were the robes that the figure of the person wearing them became
undistinguishable, while the tall mitre with which the head was covered
could be so worn that any slight difference of height would not be
observed. The attendant, when he had finished robing them, an operation
that of course he performed with a practised skill, pronounced that they
made a very good pair of priests. He wore his own official dress, and
arrayed the Theban in one that belonged to his comrade.

Thus equipped, the party set out, the pretended priests in front, and the
attendants behind, holding a canopy over their superiors. They made their
way at the slow and measured pace that befitted their profession to the
harbour temple, passed the guard which was set at the land entrance to
the port without challenge, and reached the sacred building without any
mishap.

They were now close to the water, and could even see the friendly ships
of the southern blockading squadron; but the guard ships by which the
mouth of the harbour was closed were between them and safety. The
question was, how these were to be passed. It was a question that had to
be answered without delay, for they could see from a window of the temple
which commanded a view of the whole harbour signs of commotion, such
as the flashing of torches, which indicated that their escape had been
discovered.

This indeed was the case. The king had sent an attendant a little after
sunset to summon his guests to the evening meal. He reported their
absence to his master, who, however, for a time suspected nothing. But
when a second messenger found them still absent, inquiries were made.
Some one had heard sounds in the temple, and the temple was searched;
after that everything else that had happened could be seen or guessed.

Nothing remained for the fugitives but to strip off their garments
and plunge into the water. Unfortunately the temple attendant was an
indifferent swimmer. A boat, however, was lying moored some thirty yards
from the shore, and this the party managed to reach. But by the time that
they had all clambered on board, a thing which it always takes some time
to do, the pursuers were within a hundred yards of the harbour-temple.

It must be explained that at each end of the row of ships by which the
harbour mouth was protected, was an empty hulk, and that between the hulk
and the pier side was a narrow opening only just broad and deep enough
for a boat to pass over. This the prince had observed on some former
occasion when he had been reconnoitring the defences of the harbour, and
he now steered towards it, the rowers tugging at their oars with all
their might. The boat had nearly reached the passage when the manœuvre
was observed. The crew of the nearest ship hastened to get on board the
hulk; but the distance between these two was too great for a leap, and
in the darkness the gangway commonly used could not be at once found.
At the very moment when it was put into position the boat had cleared
the passage. So shallow indeed was the water that the hinder part of the
keel had stuck for a few moments, but when the four occupants threw their
weight into the bow, which was already in deeper water, it floated over.

Happily the night was very dark. The sky was overcast, and it still
wanted a day to the new moon. Nor did the torches with which the whole
line of galleys was ablaze, make it easier to distinguish an object
outside the range of their light. Still the boat could be dimly seen,
and till it was beyond the range of missiles the fugitives could not
consider themselves safe. And indeed they did not wholly escape. Both
Charidemus and Charondas were struck with bullets that caused somewhat
painful contusions, the prince was slightly wounded in the hand, and the
attendant more seriously in the arm, which was indeed almost pierced
through by an arrow. A few more strokes, however, carried them out of
range, and they were safe.



CHAPTER XIX

THE HIGH PRIEST


It had only been in sheer despair that Tyre had held out after her fleet
lost the command of the sea. Able now to attack the city at any point
that he might choose, Alexander abandoned the mole which he had been at
such vast pains to construct, and commenced operations on the opposite
side of the island, against the wall that fronted the open sea. The
battering-rams were put on ship-board, and so brought to bear upon any
weak places that had been discovered; and of these the Tyrians, confident
of always being able to keep command of the sea, had left not a few. A
first attempt failed; a second, made on a perfectly calm day, succeeded,
and a considerable length of wall was broken down. A breach having
been thus made, the ships that bore the battering-rams were withdrawn,
and others carrying pontoons took their places. Two storming parties
landed, one commanded by an officer of the name of Admetus, the other
by Alexander in person. Admetus, who was the first to scale the wall,
was killed by the stroke of a javelin, but his party made good their
footing; and the king, landing his guards, was equally successful. The
defenders of the wall abandoned it, but renewed the fight in the streets
of the city. The battle raged most fiercely in the precincts of the
Chapel of Agenor, the legendary founder of Tyre. The building had been
strongly fortified, but it was taken at last, and the garrison was put to
the sword. Before nightfall all Tyre was in the hands of Alexander. The
king exacted a frightful penalty for the obstinate resistance which had
baffled him for nearly a year. But he respected the Temple of Melkarth,
where Azemilcus and a few of the Tyrian nobles had taken sanctuary, and
the Sidonian prince had the satisfaction of saving more than a thousand
victims from slavery or death. They took refuge in the galleys that were
under his command, and Alexander either did not know of their escape, or,
as is more probably the case, did not care to inquire about it. Hundreds
of the principal citizens were executed; the remainder, numbering, it is
said, thirty thousand, were sold as slaves.

Melkarth, whose city had been thus depopulated, was then honoured with
a splendid sacrifice. All the soldiers, in full armour, marched round
the temple; games, including a torch race, were held in the precincts;
while the battering-ram that had made the first breach in the wall, and
the galley that had first broken the boom guarding the harbour, were
deposited within the temple itself.

“And now,” said the king, at the banquet with which the great festival
of Melkarth was concluded, “we will settle with that insolent priest who
would not help us against these Tyrian rebels.”

“Sir,” said Hephaestion, “it is said that the god whom these Hebrews
worship is mighty.” And he went on to relate some of the marvels of
Jewish history of which he had lately been hearing.

The king, who had something of a Roman’s respect for foreign religions,
listened with attention. “Have you heard anything of this kind?” he went
on, addressing Charidemus. “Did your friend Manasseh tell you anything
like this?”

Charidemus, as it happened, had been greatly impressed by his
conversations with the Jew. The story of the end of Belshazzar, and of
the mysterious hand that came out upon the palace wall, as the impious
king sat with his nobles, drinking out of the sacred vessels of the
temple, and that wrote his doom in letters of fire, had particularly
struck him, and he now repeated it. Alexander heard it in silence,
sternly checking some scoff on which one of his younger courtiers
ventured when it was finished.

His resolve, however, to visit the seat of this formidable Deity was
strengthened rather than weakened; and on the following day he set out
with a select body of troops and a numerous retinue of native princes,
leaving the main body of the army in charge of Parmenio, to follow the
road which led to Egypt—which country he proposed next to deal with—over
the Maritime Plain of Palestine. The distance between Tyre and Jerusalem
was somewhat under a hundred miles, and was traversed in about six days.
It was the evening of the seventh when he reached the hill-top, now known
by the name of Scopus, or the Outlook, which is the northern spur of the
ridge of Olivet. Fronting him stood the Hill of Sion, crowned with the
Temple buildings, not yet, indeed, grown to the majestic strength which
they attained in later days, but still not wanting in impressiveness
and dignity. Below were the walls, now restored to their old strength,
which had withstood more than one conqueror in his march, and the city,
which, during more than a century of prosperity and peace, had more
than repaired the desolation of the last siege. Just then it was made
singularly picturesque by the greenery of the booths of branches, under
the shade of which the people were keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, and
which crowded every open space in the city.

But the attention of the visitors was arrested by a remarkable procession
that met them as they reached the crest of the hill. At the head of it
walked the High Priest, in all the magnificence of his robes of office.
He wore a long garment or tunic of blue, made of the finest linen, that
reached to below his knees. Below this were drawers of white linen,
while the feet were protected by sandals. The upper part of his person
was covered by the vestment known as the ephod, the tunic above described
being “the robe of the ephod.” The ephod was a mixture of gold, blue,
purple, and scarlet, and was richly embroidered. On each shoulder was a
large onyx, while the breast was covered with the splendid “Breastplate
of Judgment,” with its twelve precious stones, and round the waist was
the “girdle dyed of many hues with gold interwoven with it.” Round the
bottom of the robe of the ephod were pomegranates wrought in blue,
purple, and scarlet, and golden bells. Behind this gorgeous figure came
the priests in their robes of spotless white, and behind these again a
crowd of citizens in holiday attire.

The king stepped out from the ranks, and saluted the High Priest. So full
of respect was his gesture that his attendants expressed, or at least
looked, their surprise.

“I adore,” said the king, “not the priest, but the God whom he serves.
And this very man, clothed in these very robes, I now remember myself to
have seen in a dream before I crossed into Asia. I had been considering
with myself how I might best win the dominion over these lands, and he
exhorted me boldly to cross over, for he would himself conduct my army
and give me his blessing. Seeing him therefore this day I both thank the
God whose servant he is for that which I have already attained, and
beseech Him that I may attain yet more, even the fulfilment of all that
is in my heart.”

A solemn entry into the Temple, a sacrifice conducted by the king
according to the High Priest’s directions, and the offering of some
splendid gifts to the treasury followed, and the king did not fail to
enforce his compliments by conferring on his new subjects substantial
privileges. The Jews were henceforth to live under their own laws; every
seventh year, as they reaped no harvests, they were to pay no tribute;
the same immunity was to be extended to all of Jewish race that might
be found within the borders of the Persian kingdom. The High Priest,
on the other hand, engaged to furnish a contingent from his nation for
the Macedonian army. He only stipulated, and the king readily agreed,
that the recruits should not be required to do anything that might be at
variance with the law which they were bound to observe.

These matters concluded, Charidemus was summoned to the royal presence.

“Are you bent,” asked the king, “on going with me into Egypt?”

“To tell you the truth, my lord,” answered the young man, “I had not
thought of it one way or the other.”

“Well,” said Alexander, “I have something for you to do here. First, you
will take charge of the queen, who does not wish to travel just now.
Then I want you to recruit and drill some of these sturdy Jews for me.
They look like fine stuff for soldiers; and, if they are anything like
their fathers, they should fight well. The High Priest thinks that you
will do best in the Galilee country, where the people are not quite so
stiff about their law. But you can settle these matters with Hephaestion,
who knows my mind.”

Queen Barsiné, who was expecting shortly to become a mother, had made
interest with the king to have the young Macedonian put in charge of her
establishment, partly because she had great confidence in him, partly
because she had a kindly interest in his attachment to her niece, a
feeling which, of course, had not escaped her quick woman’s eyes.

The eight months that followed were, perhaps, the happiest that our hero
ever enjoyed. A little walled town on the western shore of the Sea of
Galilee had been chosen for Barsiné’s residence during her husband’s
absence in Egypt, and Charidemus was appointed its governor. He was in
command of a garrison of some hundred and fifty men, and had a couple
of light galleys at his disposal. His duties were of the lightest. Two
or three veterans, who had grown a little too old to carry the pike,
drilled under his superintendence a couple of thousand sturdy Galilæan
peasants, who had eagerly answered the summons to enlist under the
great conqueror’s banners. This work finished, he had the rest of his
time at his own disposal. The more of it he could contrive to spend with
Clearista, the happier of course he was. As long as the summer lasted,
and, indeed, far into the autumn, there were frequent excursions on the
lake, Clearista being accompanied by her _gouvernante_, the daughter of
a Laconian farmer, who had been with her from her infancy. The waters
then as now abounded with fish, and Charidemus was delighted to teach
his fair companion some of the secrets of the angler’s craft. As the
year advanced there was plenty of game to be found in the forests of the
eastern shore. The young Macedonian was a skilful archer, and could bring
down a running deer without risk of injuring the choice portions of the
flesh by an ill-aimed shaft. He found a keener delight in pursuing the
fiercer creatures that haunted the oak glades of Bashan, and many were
the trophies, won from wild boar and wolf and bear, that, to the mingled
terror and delight of Clearista, he used to bring back from his hunting
excursions. Nor were books wholly forgotten. Charidemus had always had
some of a student’s taste, and Barsiné had imparted to her niece some
of her own love of culture. The young soldier even began—so potent an
inspirer is love—to have literary ambitions. He wrote, but was too shy to
exhibit, poems about his lady’s virtues and beauty. He even conceived
a scheme of celebrating the victories of Alexander in an heroic poem,
and carried it out to the extent of composing some five or six hundred
hexameters which he read to the admiring Clearista. Unfortunately they
have been lost along with other treasures of antiquity, and I am unable
to give my readers a specimen.

[Illustration: HUNTING.]

Meanwhile little or nothing in which he would have cared to have a part
had been happening elsewhere. Alexander’s march through Egypt was not
a campaign, but a triumphal procession. The Persian satrap had made
no attempt at resistance, and the population gladly welcomed their
new masters. They hated the Persians, who scorned and insulted their
religion, and eagerly turned to the more tolerant Greek. So the country
was annexed without a blow being struck. Grand functions of sacrifice, in
which Alexander was careful to do especial honour to Egyptian deities,
with splendid receptions and banquets, fully occupied the time; and then
there was the more useful labour of beginning a work which has been the
most permanent monument of the conqueror’s greatness, the foundation
of the city of Alexandria. Charondas, who was attached to the king’s
personal suite, kept his friend informed of events by letters which
reached him with fair regularity. I shall give an extract from one of
these because it records the most important incident of the sojourn in
Egypt.

“Charondas to Charidemus, greeting.

“I have just returned safe—thanks to the gods—from a journey which I
thought more than once likely to be my last. Know that the king conceived
a desire to visit the Temple of Zeus Ammon, where there is an oracle
famous for being the most truth-speaking in the world. Not even the
Pythia at Delphi—so it is said—more clearly foresees the future, and a
more important matter, it must be confessed, more plainly expounds what
she foresees. The king took with him some five thousand men, many more,
in my judgment, than it was expedient to take, seeing that the enemy most
to be dreaded in such an expedition, to wit, thirst, is one more easily
to be encountered by a few than by a multitude. At the first we marched
westwards, keeping close to the sea, through a region that is desolate
indeed, and void of inhabitants, but rather because it has been neglected
by men than because it refuses to receive them. There are streams, some
of which, it is said, do not fail even when the summer is hottest, and
in some places grass, and in many shrubs. Thus we journeyed without
difficulty for a distance of about 1,600 stadia.[56] Then we turned
southward; and here began our difficulties and dangers. The difficulty
always is to find the right way, for such a track as there is will often
be altogether hidden in a very short space of time; and so it was with
us. The danger is lest the traveller, so wandering from the way, should
perish of hunger and thirst, for it is not possible that he should carry
much provision with him. How, then, you will ask, did we escape? Truly
I cannot answer except by saying that it was through the good fortune
of Alexander, not without the intervention of some Divine power. Many
marvellous things were told me about the means by which we were guided on
our way. Some averred that two serpents, of monstrous size, went before
the army, uttering cries not unlike to human speech. Of these I can only
aver that I neither saw nor heard them, and that I have had no speech
with any that did see or hear, although not a few have borne witness to
them second-hand, affirming that they had heard the story from those
that had been eyewitnesses. The same I am constrained to say concerning
the ravens which some declared to have been guides to the army. I saw
them not, nor know any that did see them. But I had some converse with a
native of these parts who was hired to be our guide. This man, I found,
trusted neither to serpents, whether dumb or not, nor to ravens, but to
the stars. And I noticed that he was much perplexed and troubled by what
seemed a matter of rejoicing to the rest of us, namely, that the sky
became overcast with clouds. We were rejoiced by the rain which assured
us that we should not perish of thirst; but he complained that his guides
were taken from him. Nevertheless, as the clouds were sometimes broken,
he was not wholly deprived of the help in which he trusted.

“Let it suffice, then, to say that we got safely to our journey’s end,
not without assistance from the gods. No more beautiful place have I
seen, though doubtless my pleasure in seeing it was the greater by reason
of the desolation of the region through which we had passed. It is, as
it were, an island in the sand, nowhere more than forty stadia across,
covered with olives and palms, and watered by a spring, the marvels
of which, unlike the serpents and the ravens, I can affirm of my own
knowledge. That it is coldest at noonday and hottest at midnight, I
have myself found by touching it. Or was this, you will perhaps say, by
contrast only, because my own body was subject to exactly the opposite
disposition? It may be so; nevertheless in such matters common tradition
and belief are not wholly without value.

“You will ask, What said the Oracle? To the king it said that without
doubt he was the son of Ammon; to others that they would do well, if
they reverenced him as being such. Whether more be intended by this
than what Homer says of Achilles and other great heroes that they were
Zeus-descended I cannot say. Many take it to be so, and some are not a
little displeased. Last night I heard two soldiers talking together on
this matter. ‘Comrade,’ said one to the other, ‘if I had King Philip
for my father, I should be content, nor seek another,’ ‘Aye,’ returned
the other, ‘thou sayest true. If Alexander be the chicken, truly Philip
was the egg.’ ‘But now,’ the first speaker went on, ‘but now they say
that the king’s father was this Ammon. Didst ever see such a god? It is
like a Pan with the goat-part uppermost. And who ever heard talk of a
hero that had Pan for his father? Nay, nay, I would liefer have a plain
honest Macedonian for my father, so he had head and legs like a man, than
all the Ammons in the world.’ So many talk in the camp, though there are
some who are ready to say and do anything that may bring advancement. But
these are dangerous matters to trust even to paper. We will talk of them,
if need be, when we meet. Till then, farewell!”

[Illustration: AMMON.]



CHAPTER XX

FROM TYRE TO THE TIGRIS


The pleasant sojourn on the shores of the Sea of Galilee came to an
end in the early summer of the following year. Charidemus was summoned
to meet the king at Tyre, where he was intending to complete his plans
for his next campaign, a campaign that would, he hoped, be decisive.
And it was arranged that the young man’s charges should accompany
him. Alexander had fixed on another residence for his wife and child.
(Barsiné, it should be said, had given birth to a son in the early part
of the winter.) His choice had fallen on Pergamos, one of the strongest
fortresses in his dominions. The fact is that schemes of conquest were
opening up before him which he felt would occupy him for many years.
The next campaign would complete the conquest of Persia proper, but the
eastern provinces would remain to be subdued, and after these, India,
and after India the rest, it might be said, of the habitable world, for
nothing less would satisfy his vast ambition. In Barsiné’s son he had an
heir, possibly not the heir who would succeed him, but still one who
might be called to do so. To place him in safety was a desirable thing,
and Pergamos, which was not far from the coast of the Ægean, with its
almost impregnable citadel, seemed an eligible spot.

Charidemus’s instructions were to make the best of his way with
his charges to Pergamos, and to rejoin the army with all speed, a
fast-sailing Sidonian vessel being assigned for the service. Both voyages
were accomplished with unusual speed. But it is probable that in any case
the first, made in such delightful company, would have seemed too short;
the second, with a decisive and exciting campaign in view, too long.

It was early in May when Charidemus left Tyre, and the end of July, when,
having accomplished his mission, he landed again at Sidon. Here he was
met by an invitation to the palace, where he had the pleasure of meeting
Charondas. The young man had been left behind when Alexander set out,
to complete his recovery from an attack of illness. King Abdalonymus
hospitably pressed the friends to prolong their stay with him for some
days. Charondas, he said, would be better for a little more rest, while
Charidemus wanted refreshment after his double voyage. At any other time
the offer would have been gladly accepted, for Abdalonymus was a very
striking personage. He had been little more than a day labourer when he
was suddenly raised to the throne; but power had done nothing to spoil
him. He was as frugal and temperate as ever; and he kept, rarest of
possessions in a palace, his common sense. The two friends, however, were
eager to set out. The army had already had ten days’ start of them, and
the bare idea of any decisive battle being fought before they had come up
with it was intolerable.

They were on horseback at dawn the next morning. Their road was up the
valley of the Leontes, and then, turning eastward, between the ranges of
Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. So far as the great ford over the Euphrates at
Thapsacus there could be no question as to their route. Practically there
was only one way, and that was the one which the army had taken. Arrived
at the ford they found that they had gained three days. A week still
remained to be made up, and this it seemed easy enough to do at the cost
of some extra labour and, possibly, a little risk. Darius, it was known,
had gathered a vast host more numerous even than that which had been
routed at Issus, and was going to make a final struggle for his throne.
His whereabouts was not exactly known, but it was certainly somewhere
to the eastward of the Tigris, which river would probably be made his
first line of defence. Anxious to make his march as little exhausting
as possible to his men, Alexander had taken a somewhat circuitous line,
turning first to the north, in the direction of the Armenian mountains,
then striking eastward, and touching the Tigris at its lowest ford, some
thirty miles above Nineveh. To go straight from Thapsacus to this point
would be to save no little time, if it could be done. The two friends
resolved to make the experiment.

The first day passed without adventure. The travellers did not see a
human creature from morning to evening, and had to spend the night under
a terebinth, with no more refreshment than the food which they had had
the forethought to carry with them, and a scanty draught of very muddy
water. Their halting-place on the second day seemed to promise much
better entertainment. As they drew rein beside an inviting looking clump
of trees they were accosted by a venerable stranger, who, in broken
but intelligible Greek, offered them hospitality for the night. Their
host showed them a small tent where they would sleep, and made them
understand that he should be glad of their company at his own evening
meal. Half-an-hour afterwards they sat down to a fairly well-dressed
supper, a lamb which had been killed in their honour, barley cakes baked
on the embers, and palm wine. There was not much conversation, for the
old sheikh’s stock of phrases did not go very far, and the two somewhat
sullen looking youths who made up the company, seemed not to know a word
of any language but their own. When the host found that the strangers
declined his offer to try another skin of palm-wine, he smilingly wished
them good-night. One of the silent young men showed them to their tent,
and they were left to repose.

The hour was still early, and the friends did not feel inclined for
sleep. Both had a good deal to say to each other. Besides personal topics
they had to talk about the prospects of the war, and that a war which
seemed to promise adventures of the most exciting kind. It must have
been about an hour short of midnight when, just as they were thinking
of lying down for the night, their attention was attracted by a slight
noise at the tent door. Charondas going, lamp in hand, to see what it
meant started back in horror at the sight that met his eyes. A dwarfish
looking man stood, or rather crouched before him. His figure was bent
almost double by bodily infirmity, it would seem, rather than by age. The
long black hair streaked with grey, that fell on his shoulders was rough
and unkempt, his dress was ragged and filthy. But the horror of the poor
wretch’s appearance was in the mutilation which had been practised upon
him. His ears had been cut off; his nostrils had been cropped as close
as the knife could shear them, his right arm had been cut short at the
elbow, and his left leg at the knee.

“Let me speak with you,” said the stranger, “if you can bear awhile with
a sight so hideous.”

He spoke in pure Greek, and with the accent of an educated man.

“Speak on,” said Charidemus, “we feel nothing but pity for a countryman
who has been unhappy;” and he took the sufferer’s hand in his own, and
pressed it with a friendly grasp.

“I am come to warn you,” said the visitor, “but if I do not first tell
you my story you will scarce believe me.”

He paused overcome with emotion.

“I am a native of Crotona, and belonged to a family of physicians. We
reckoned among our ancestors the great Democedes, whom the first Darius,
as you may remember, honoured and enriched.[57] Some political troubles
with which I need not weary you compelled me to leave my country, and I
settled at Ephesus. There I did well enough, till in an evil hour I was
sent for to prescribe for the satrap of Phrygia. I had acquired, I may
say, some reputation for myself, but my name—it is the same as that of
my great ancestor—did far more for me. It has made, indeed, the fortune
of many a physician of our nation. Well, I cured the satrap, who indeed
had nothing worse the matter with him than too much meat and drink. He
was very grateful, and bribed me by the promise of a great salary—three
hundred minas,[58] if you will believe me, gentlemen,” explained the poor
wretch with a lingering feeling of pride in his professional success, “he
bribed me, I say, to go with him when he returned to court. For a time
all went well; then a favourite slave fell ill. The poor lad was in a
consumption; not Æsculapius himself could have cured him; and I could do
nothing for him, but make his end easy. Masistius—that was my employer’s
name—was in a furious rage. He maimed me in the cruel way you see, and
sold me for a slave.”

“What! you a free-born Greek,” exclaimed the young men with one voice.

“Yes,” replied the man, “and ’tis no uncommon experience, as you will
find when you get further into the country. Yes; there are hundreds
of Greeks who have suffered the same horrors as you see in me. Well;
he sold me as a slave to the villain whose meat you have been eating
to-night.”

“Do you call him villain?” said Charidemus in surprise. “He seemed kind
and hospitable enough.”

“Aye, he seems,” replied the man, “that is part of his craft. But for
all his amiable looks, he is a robber and a murderer. He makes it his
business to do away with guests whom he entertains as he has entertained
you. Commonly he plies them with his accursed palm-wine till they fall
into a drunken sleep. When that fails, they are stabbed or strangled.
One or two I have contrived to warn; but they generally prevent me from
coming near the poor wretches.”

“That is brave of you,” said one of the young men.

“Oh!” was the answer, “I deserve no credit, I am weary of my life, and
should be thankful if they would put an end to it, though a sort of hope
prevents me from doing it myself. And yet what hope!” he went on in a
lower tone, “what can a mutilated wretch such as I am hope for but to
escape from the sight of my fellow men? But they leave me alone; I am too
valuable to them to be injured. The wretches are never ill themselves,
but they set me to cure their cattle and sheep, and I save them a great
deal more than the miserable pittance of food and drink which they give
me. But now for what concerns yourselves. The wretch will send his
assassins—those two brutal-looking sons mostly do his work for him—about
the end of the third watch[59] when a man commonly sleeps his soundest.
So you have two hours and more before you. Your horses are picketed at
the other end of the grove from that by which you entered, not where you
saw them fastened, that was only done to deceive you. It is just where
you see the moon showing itself above the trees. Get to them as quietly
as you can, and then ride for your lives. But mind, go westward, that is,
back along the way you came. In about an hour’s time turn sharp to the
north. Another hour will bring you to a little stream; cross that, and
after you have gone some thousand paces you will come to another clump of
trees very like this. Another Sheikh has his encampment there; I am not
sure but that he does a little robbery and murder on his own account; but
just now he has the merit of being at daggers drawn with his neighbour
here. And he has a kindness for me, for I cured his favourite horse; and
if you mention my name to him, I am sure that he will treat you well. And
now, farewell!”

“What can we do for you?” said Charidemus, “we are on our way to join the
great Alexander; it is such wrongs as yours that he has come to redress.”

“Do for me!” cried the unhappy man, in a tone of inexpressible
bitterness; “forget that you have ever seen me. I should be sorry that
any but you should know that Democedes has suffered such wrongs, and
yet has been willing to live. But stay—I would gladly see that villain
Masistius crucified, if he is still alive, as indeed I trust he is; and
you will remember your kind and venerable host of to-night. And now,
again, farewell!”

The two friends lost no time in making their way to the spot whence they
were to find their horses. A man had been set to watch the animals.
Happily for the fugitives he had fallen asleep. It went against the
grain with them, generous young fellows as they were, to kill him in
his slumber; but, unless they were to alarm the encampment, they had no
alternative. His employment, too, showed that he was in the plot. It was
not in their owners’ interest that he had been set to watch the horses.
With half-averted face Charondas dealt him the fatal blow, and he died
without a struggle or a groan. A short time was spent, for the advantage
seemed worth the delay, in muffling the horses’ hoofs. That done, they
rode back, quietly at first and then at full speed, by the road by which
they had come, till it was time, as they judged, for them to turn off.
The day had dawned when they reached the other encampment. The name of
Democedes proved as good an introduction to the chief as they could wish.
When he further learnt that his guests were officers on their way to join
the army of the great Alexander, he was profuse in his offers of help
and entertainment. They accepted an escort of horsemen who should see
them well out of the reach of their treacherous host, and under their
protection and guidance reached a district where no further danger was
to be apprehended. It was with no small pleasure that at the very moment
when the Tigris came in sight their eyes caught the glitter of arms in
the distance. The vanguard of the Macedonian army was filing down the
slopes that led to the ford.



CHAPTER XXI

ARBELA


“These Persians must be either very much frightened or very bold, if they
have nothing to say to us at such a place as this.”

Such in substance was what every one in the Macedonian army was saying
or thinking as they struggled through the dangerous and difficult ford
of the Tigris. It was indeed a crossing which even a few resolute
men posted on the opposite shore would have made disastrous, if not
impossible, to the advancing army. The stream was at its lowest—the
time was about two-thirds through the month of September—but the rapid
current fully justified the name of the “Arrow,” for such is the meaning
of the word Tigris.[60] The cavalry, keeping as steady a line as they
could across the upper part of the ford, did their best to break the
force of the stream, but did not save the infantry from a vast amount
of labour and some loss. In their lances and armour, not to speak of
other accoutrements, the men had to carry an enormous weight; they trod
on a river-bed of shifting stones, and the water was nearly up to their
necks. If a man stumbled it was very difficult for him to recover his
footing, and it was only the exceptionally strong who could do anything
to help a comrade in difficulties. It was already dark when the last
lines painfully struggled up the slippery bank on the eastern side of the
river. The depression of spirits caused by fatigue and discomfort were
aggravated by the portent of an eclipse. The soldiers saw with dismay the
brilliant moon, for whose help in arranging their bivouac they had been
so thankful, swallowed up, as it seemed, by an advancing darkness, and
they drew the gloomiest omens from the sight. But Alexander was equal to
the occasion. A disciple of Aristotle, the greatest natural philosopher
of the ancient world, he knew the cause of the phenomenon, but as a
practical man, whose business it was to understand the natures with which
he had to deal, he knew also that a scientific explanation of that cause
would be useless. Aristander the soothsayer was directed to reassure the
terrified multitude with something more adapted to their wants; and he
did not fail to produce it. “The moon,” he said, “was the special patron
of Persia, as the sun is of Greece. It is to the Persian now as more than
once before that the eclipsed moon portends defeat.” This reassuring
explanation was eagerly listened to, and when, after the sacrifices of
the next day, sacrifices with which Alexander impartially honoured sun,
moon, and earth, Aristander confidently declared that the appearance
of the victims indicated certain, speedy, and complete victory, he was
readily believed. “Before the new moon shall be visible,” he boldly
predicted, “the kingdom of Persia shall have fallen.”

That the final struggle was at hand was soon put beyond a doubt. Towards
the close of the sixth day after the passage of the Tigris—two days out
of the six had been allowed for repose—some Persian troopers were espied
in the distance. The king himself at once started in pursuit, taking
the best mounted squadron of his cavalry with him. Most of the enemy
escaped, but some were taken, perhaps allowed themselves to be taken,
for Darius’s disastrous cowardice at Issus had weakened his hold on the
fidelity of his subjects. From these men Alexander learnt all that he
wanted to know. Darius had collected a host far larger even than that
which had fought at Issus. The contingents of which it was composed came
indeed chiefly from the remoter east. Western Asia had passed out of
the Great King’s power and was added to the resources of the invader;
but the eastern provinces from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf and even
to the Indus were still faithful to him. The town of Arbela[61] had
been named as the _rendezvous_ of the army, and there the magazines and
baggage had been located; but the place chosen as the battle-field, where
Darius would meet his enemy on ground selected by himself, was Gaugamela,
a village some ten miles east of Nineveh, and situated on a wide and
treeless plain, on which the Persian engineers had levelled even such
slopes as there were. At Issus they had fought in a defile where their
vastly superior numbers could not be utilized; on the vast level of the
Babylonian plains every man, horse, and chariot could be brought into
action.

Alexander saw that he must fight the enemy on their own ground, and took
his measures accordingly. Daring as he was—he knew that he had to deal
with Asiatics—he threw away no chance, and neglected no precaution. On
hearing what the prisoners had to say about the force and position of the
enemy, he called a halt, and ordered the construction of an entrenched
camp. Here the soldiers had four days’ repose. After sunset on the fourth
day he gave the signal to advance. His intention was to attack the enemy
at daybreak, but the ground over which he had to pass presented so many
difficulties that when the day dawned he was still three miles distant
from the hostile lines.

The sight of them made him hesitate and reconsider his plans. Though he
did not doubt of victory, he saw that victory was not to be won by a
haphazard attack. And indeed it was a formidable array that stretched
itself before him, as far as the eye could reach, or at least as far
as the eye could distinguish anything with clearness. On the extreme
right were the Syrians, the Medes, once the ruling people of Western
Asia and still mindful of their old renown, the Parthian cavalry, and
the sturdy mountaineers of the Caucasus; on the opposite wing were the
Bactrians, hill men for the most part, and famous for fierceness and
activity, and the native Persians, horse and foot in alternate formation.
But it was in the centre of the line, round the person of Darius, where
he stood conspicuous on his royal chariot, that the choicest troops of
the empire were congregated. Here were ranged the Persian Horse-guards,
a force levied from the noblest families of the dominant people, and
distinguished by the proud title of the “Kinsmen of the King;” and the
Foot-guards, also a _corps d’élite_, who carried golden apples at the
butt end of their pikes. Next to these stood the Carians, men of a race
which had shown itself more apt than any other Asiatic tribe to learn
Greek discipline and rival Greek valour; and next to these again, the
Greek mercenaries themselves.

In front of the line were the scythed chariots, numbering two hundred in
all, each with its sharp-pointed sides projecting far beyond the horses,
and its sword-blades and scythes stretching from the yoke and from the
naves of the wheels. Behind the line, again, was a huge mixed multitude,
drawn from every tribe that owned the Great King’s sway.

So formidable was the host, and so strong its position that Alexander
halted to take counsel with his generals how the attack might be most
advantageously delivered. A new entrenched camp was constructed, and the
rest of the day was spent in carefully reconnoitring the enemy’s forces.
Some of the most experienced officers—Parmenio among them—suggested a
night attack. Alexander rejected the proposal with scorn. Raising his
voice that he might be heard by the soldiers, who were crowding round
the tent where the council was held, he cried, “This might suit thieves
and robbers, but it does not suit me. I will not tarnish my fame by such
stratagems, for I prefer defeat with honour to a victory so won. Besides
I know that such an attack would fail. The barbarians keep a regular
watch; and they have their men under arms. It is we, not they, who would
be thrown into confusion. I am for open war.”

And this, of course, was the last word.

The next morning the Macedonian king drew out his order of battle. As
usual he put himself at the head of the right wing. This was made up of
the Companion Cavalry, under the immediate command of Philotas, son of
Parmenio, with next to them the light infantry, and three of the six
divisions of the Phalanx. The three other divisions, with a strong body
of cavalry from the allied Greek states, formed the left wing, commanded
as usual by Parmenio.

But behind the first line of the army stood another in reserve. Frequent
reinforcements had not only enabled the king to supply all losses, but
had also largely increased his numbers. The thirty thousand infantry
which had been brought into action at the Granīcus had now grown to forty
thousand, the four thousand five hundred cavalry to seven thousand. It
was thus easier to have a reserve, while the nature of the battle-field
made it more necessary, for attacks on the flanks and rear of the main
line might probably have to be repelled. This second line consisted of
the light cavalry, the Macedonian archers, contingents from some of the
half-barbarian tribes which bordered on Macedonia, some veteran Greek
mercenaries, and other miscellaneous troops. Some Thracian infantry were
detached to guard the camp and the baggage.

The Persians, with their vastly superior numbers, were of course extended
far beyond the Macedonian line. Left to make the attack, they might
have easily turned the flanks and even the rear of their opponents.
Alexander seeing this, and following the tactics which had twice proved
so successful, assumed the offensive. He put himself at the head of
the Companion Cavalry on the extreme right of his army, and led them
forward in person, still keeping more and more to the right, and thus
threatening the enemy with the very movement which he had himself reason
to dread. He thus not only avoided the iron spikes which, as a deserter
had warned him, had been set to injure the Macedonian cavalry, but almost
got beyond the ground which the Persians had caused to be levelled for
the operations of their chariots. Fearful at once of being outflanked and
of finding his chariots made useless, Darius launched some Bactrian and
Scythian cavalry against the advancing enemy. Alexander, on his part,
detached some cavalry of his own to charge the Bactrians and the action
began.

The Bactrians commenced with a success, driving in the Greek horsemen.
These fell back on their supports, and advancing again in increased force
threw the Bactrians into confusion. Squadron after squadron joined the
fray till a considerable part of the Macedonian right wing and of the
Persian left were engaged. The Persians were beginning to give way, when
Darius saw, as he thought, the time for bringing his scythed chariots
into action, and gave the word for them to charge, and for his main line
to advance behind them. The charge was made, but failed, almost entirely,
of its effect. The Macedonian archers and javelin throwers wounded many
of the horses; some agile skirmishers even contrived to seize the reins,
and pull down the drivers from their places. Other chariots got as far
as the Macedonian line, but recoiled from the pikes; and the few whose
drivers were lucky enough or bold enough to break their way through all
the hindrances were allowed to pass between the Macedonian lines, without
being able to inflict any damage. As a whole, the charge failed.

Then Alexander delivered his counter attack. He ceased his movement to
the right. Then, wheeling half round, his Companion Cavalry dashed into
the Persian line at the spot where the Bactrians, by their advance,
had broken its order. At the same time, his own main line raised the
battle cry, and moved forward. Once within the enemy’s ranks he pushed
straight for the point where, as he knew, the battle would be decided,
the chariot of the king. The first defence of that all-important position
was the Persian cavalry. Better at skirmishing than at hand-to-hand
fighting, it broke before his onslaught. Still there remained troops to
be reckoned with who might have made the fortune of the day doubtful,
the flower of the Persian foot and the veteran Greeks. For a short time
these men stood their ground; they might have stood it longer, but for
the same disastrous cause that had brought about the defeat of Issus,
the cowardice of King Darius. He had been dismayed to see his chariots
fail and his cavalry broken by the charge of the Companions, and he lost
heart altogether when the dreaded Phalanx itself with its bristling
array of pikes seemed to be forcing his infantry apart, and coming nearer
to himself. He turned his chariot and fled; the first, when he should
have been the last, to leave his post.[62]

The flight of the king was the signal for a general rout, as far, at
least, as the left wing and centre of the Persian host were concerned. It
was no longer a battle; it was a massacre. Alexander pressed furiously
on, eager to capture the fugitive Darius. But the very completeness of
his victory, it may be said, hindered him. So headlong was the flight
that the dust, which, after months of burning summer heat, lay thick upon
the plain, rose like the smoke of some vast conflagration. The darkness
was as the darkness of night. Nothing could be heard but cries of fury or
despair, the jingling of the chariot reins, and the sound of the whips
which the terrified charioteers plied with all their might.

Nor, indeed, was Alexander permitted to continue the pursuit as long as
he could have wished. Though the precipitate flight of Darius had brought
the conflict on the Persian left to a speedy end, the right had fought
with better fortune. Mazæus, who was, perhaps, the ablest of the Persian
generals, was in command, and knew how to employ his superiority of
numbers. While the sturdy Median infantry engaged Parmenio’s front line,
Mazæus put himself at the head of the Parthian horse and charged his
flank. Parmenio was so hard pressed that he sent an orderly to the king
with an urgent demand for help. Alexander was greatly vexed at receiving
it, feeling that any chance that remained of capturing the person of
Darius, a most important matter in his eyes, was now hopelessly lost. But
he knew his business as a general too well—being as cautious when the
occasion demanded as he was bold when boldness was expedient—to neglect
the demand of so experienced an officer as Parmenio. He at once called
back his troops from the pursuit, and led them to the relief of the left
wing. Parmenio had sent the same message to the left division of the
phalanx, which, though under his command, had actually taken part in the
advance made by the right division. These, too, prepared to come to his
assistance.

Before, however, the help thus demanded could be given, the need for it
had almost ceased to exist. On the one hand, the Thessalian cavalry had
proved themselves worthy of their old reputation as the best horsemen in
Greece. Held during the earlier part of the engagement in reserve, they
had made a brilliant charge on the Parthians, and more than restored
the fortune of the day. And then, on the other hand, Mazæus and his men
had felt the same infection of fear which the flight of Darius had
communicated to the rest of the army. The conspicuous figure which was
the centre of all their hopes had disappeared, and they had nothing to
fight for. Parmenio felt the vigour of the enemy’s attack languish,
though he did not know the cause, and he had had the satisfaction of
recovering and more than recovering his ground before any reinforcements
reached him.

[Illustration: THE COMPANIONS.]

Strangely enough it was in the very last hour of the battle, when nothing
could have changed the issue of the fight, that the fiercest conflict of
the whole day occurred. The cavalry, mainly Parthian, as has been said,
but with some squadrons of Indian and Persian horse among them, which
had won a partial victory over Parmenio’s division, encountered in their
retreat across the field of battle, Alexander himself and the Companions.
Their only hope of escape was to cut their way through the advancing
force. It was no time for the usual cavalry tactics. Every man was
fighting for his life, and he fought with a fury that made him a match
even for Macedonian discipline and valour. And they had among them also
some of the most expert swordsmen in the world. Anyhow, the Companions
suffered more severely than they did in any other engagement of the
war. As many as sixty were slain in the course of a few minutes; three
of the principal officers, Hephaestion being one of them, were wounded;
and Alexander himself was more than once in serious danger. It is not
easy to say what might have been the result if the chief thought of the
Persians had not been to cut their way through and save themselves. Those
who succeeded in doing this did not think of turning to renew the fight,
but galloped off as hard as they could.

Yet another success was achieved by the Persians in the extreme rear of
the Macedonian army. The wheeling movement of the left companies of the
phalanx to help Parmenio had left a gap in the line. A brigade of Indian
and Persian horse plunged through this gap, and attacked the camp. The
Thracians who had been left to guard it were probably not very reliable
troops, and they were hampered by the number of prisoners over whom they
had to keep watch. Many of these prisoners contrived to free themselves.
The chief object of the attack was to liberate the mother of Darius
(the king’s wife had died a few weeks before, worn out with grief and
fatigue). This object might have been attained but for the unwillingness
of the lady herself. Whether she was afraid to trust herself to her
deliverers, or despaired of making her escape, or was unwilling to
leave Alexander, it is certain that she refused to go. Meanwhile, some
troops from the second line had come to the rescue of the camp, and the
assailants had to save themselves as best they could.

Alexander, his fierce struggle with the retreating cavalry over, was
free to renew his pursuit of Darius. The Persian king had reached the
Lycus,[63] a river about ten miles from the battle-field. His attendants
strongly urged him to have the bridge which spanned the stream broken
down, and so delay the conqueror’s pursuit. But, though his courage
had failed him at the near sight of the Macedonian spears, he was not
altogether base. He thought of the multitudes whom the breaking of the
bridge would doom to certain death, and determined to leave it standing.
It was dark before Alexander reached the river, and the cavalry was by
that time so wearied that a few hours’ rest was a necessity. Accordingly
he called a halt, and it was not till midnight that he resumed the
pursuit. Even then many had to be left behind, their horses being wholly
unfit for service. With the rest the king pushed on to Arbela, where
he thought it possible that he might capture Darius. In this he was
disappointed. Darius had halted in the town only so long as to change his
chariot for a horse. The chariot with the royal robe and bow fell into
Alexander’s hands, but Darius himself, safe, at least for the present,
was on his way to the Median Highlands.



CHAPTER XXII

AT BABYLON


The victory of Arbela was decisive. Alexander of Macedon was now, beyond
all question, the Great King. All of the hundred and twenty-seven
provinces out of which Cyrus and his successors had built up the huge
structure of the Persian Empire were not indeed yet subdued, and the
person of Darius had still to be captured; but the title was practically
undisputed. The first consequence of the victory was that Babylon
and Susa[64] the two capitals, as they may be called, were at once
surrendered by the satraps that governed them. Mazæus was in command
at Babylon. He had done his best, as we have seen, on the fatal day of
Arbela; but he had seen that all was lost, and that nothing remained
but to make such terms as was possible with the conqueror. He met the
Macedonian king as he approached the city, and offered him the keys; and
Susa, at the same time, was surrendered to the lieutenant who was sent to
take possession of it and its treasures.

It was indeed rather as a Deliverer than as a Conqueror that Alexander
was received by the inhabitants of Babylon. The Persians had never been
more than a garrison, and had made themselves as hated there as they
had elsewhere. Hence it was with genuine delight that the population
flocked out to meet their new master. Sacrifices over which the priests
prayed for his welfare were offered on altars built by the wayside, and
enthusiastic crowds spread flowers under his feet.

Among those who came out to pay their respects to the king was a
deputation from the great Jewish colony which had long existed in the
city, and which, indeed, continued to inhabit it, till almost the day of
its final abandonment. Alexander greeted them with especial kindness,
and promised that they should have his favour and protection. Charidemus
had been furnished by Manasseh of Damascus with a general letter of
introduction to the heads of the dispersed Hebrew communities. This
he lost no time in presenting, and he found that he had made a most
interesting acquaintance.

Eleazar of Babylon was indeed a remarkable personage. His family, which
was distantly connected with the royal house of David, had been settled
in the city for more than two centuries, tracing itself back to a certain
Gemariah who had been one of the notables removed from Jerusalem by
Nebuchadnezzar in the first Captivity.[65] He was now in extreme old age,
having completed his ninety-second year, and he had for some time ceased
to leave his apartments. But his intellectual faculties retained their
full vigour. He still held the chief control of a vast business which
had grown up under his care. The Jews had already begun to show their
genius for finance, and Eleazar surpassed predecessors and contemporaries
in the boldness and skill of his combinations. The Persian kings were
far too wealthy to need the help which modern rulers are often glad
to get from bankers and capitalists; but their subjects of every rank
often stood in want of it. A satrap, about to start for his province,
would require a loan for his outfit, and would be able to repay it, with
liberal interest, if he could hold power for a year. A courtier, anxious
to make a present to some queen of the hareem, a merchant buying goods
which he would sell at more than cent. per cent. profit to the tribes of
the remote east; in fact, every one who wanted money either for business
or for pleasure was sure to find it, if only he had security to offer,
with Eleazar of Babylon, or with one of his correspondents. The old man
had able agents and lieutenants, but no single transaction was completed
without his final approval. Even the little that Charidemus and his
friend could see, as outsiders, of the magnitude of his affairs, struck
them with wonder. Greek commerce was but a petty affair compared to a
system which seemed to take in the whole world. But there was something
in Eleazar far more interesting than any distinction which he might have
as the head of a great mercantile house. He was, so to speak, a mine of
notable memories, both national and personal.

Among the worthies with whom his family claimed relationship was the
remarkable man who had held high office under three successive dynasties
of Babylonian rulers—Nebuchadnezzar, the conqueror of Jerusalem;
Astyages[66] the Mede; and Cyrus the Persian. One of Eleazar’s most
precious possessions was a book of manuscript, written, it was believed,
by the great statesman’s own hand, which recorded the story of himself
and his companions. Eleazar, when he found that his young guests were
something better than mere soldiers of fortune, thinking of nothing but
fighting and prize money, and had a sympathic interest in great deeds
and great men, would read from this precious volume its stirring stories
of heroism, translating them as he went on from the original Hebrew or
Aramaic into Greek, a language which he spoke with ease and correctness.
The narrative stirred the two friends to an extraordinary degree, and
indeed may be said to have influenced their whole lives. They admired the
temperate self-restraint of the young captives who preferred their pulse
and water to the dainties from the royal tables, sumptuous but unclean,
which their keepers would have forced upon them.

“Why,” cried Charondas, when the story was finished, “the young fellows
might have won a prize at Olympia. ’Tis in the training, I believe, that
more than half of the men break down.”

The young man blushed hot as soon as the words had escaped him. It was,
he remembered, a painful subject, and he could have bitten his tongue
out in his self-reproach for mentioning it. The smile on Charidemus’s
face soon reassured him. Larger interests and hopes had made the
young Macedonian entirely forget what he had once considered to be an
unpardonable and irremediable wrong.

With still more profound interest did the friends listen to the tale of
how the dauntless three chose rather to be thrust into the burning fiery
furnace than to bow down to the golden image which the king had set up.

“Marked you that?” cried Charidemus to his friend, when the reader, to
whom they had listened with breathless eagerness, brought the narrative
to an end; “Marked you that? _If it be so, our God whom we serve is able
to deliver us out from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us
out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king,
that we will not serve thy gods._ How splendid! _If not_—I can understand
a man walking up to what looks like certain death, if he feels quite
sure that Apollo, or Poseidon, or Aphrodité, is going to carry him off
in a cloud; and I can understand—for of course we see it every day—a man
taking his life in his hand, from duty, or for a prize, or, it may be,
from sheer liking for danger; but this passes my comprehension. Just
to bow down to an image, which every one else is doing, and they won’t
do it. Their God, they feel sure, will save them; but in any case they
will stand firm. Yes, that _if not_ is one of the grandest things I ever
heard.”

Old Eleazar heard with delight the young man’s enthusiastic words. He had
no passion for making proselytes, and, indeed, believed that they were
best made without direct effort; but he could not help saying, “Ah! my
young friends, is not that a God worth serving? It is something to be
sure as these Three were sure, that He will save you; but it is still
more to feel, that whether He save you or no, anything is better than to
do Him any wrong.”

Eleazar had also recollections of his own which keenly interested the
young men.

“Your king’s success,” he said one day, “has not surprised me. In fact, I
have been expecting it for these last sixty years and more. When I was a
young man I saw something of events of which, of course, you have heard,
when the younger Cyrus brought up some ten thousand of your soldiers to
help him in pulling down his brother from the Persian throne, and setting
himself upon it. Mind you, I never loved the young prince; if he had
got his way, no one but himself and his soldiers would have been a whit
better for it. Indeed, I did all that I could to help the king against
him. We Jews have a good deal to say to the making of war, even when we
don’t carry swords ourselves; gold and silver, you may easily understand,
are often far more powerful than steel. Well; I was present at the
battle, and though I did not wish well to your countrymen’s purpose, I
could not help seeing how very near they came to accomplishing it. I saw
the pick of the Persian army fly absolutely without striking a blow when
the Greek phalanx charged it. Nor could there have been a shadow of doubt
that what the Greeks did with the left of the king’s army they would have
done with his centre and his right, if they only had had the chance. It
was only the foolish fury of the young prince that saved the king. If
Cyrus had only kept his head, the day was his. Well, what I saw then, and
what I heard afterwards of the marvellous way in which these men, without
a general, and almost without stores, made their way home, convinced me
that what has happened now was only a matter of time. For sixty years or
more, I say, I have been waiting for it to come to pass. Time after time
it seemed likely; but something always hindered it. The right man never
came, or if he came, some accident cut him off just as he was setting to
work. But now he has come, and the work is done.”

[Illustration: IN THE GARDENS OF BABYLON.]

The friends spent with their venerable host all the time that was not
required for their military duties; and these, indeed, were of the very
slightest kind. The fact was that his society was very much more to their
taste than that of their comrades. Alexander’s army had been campaigning
for more than three years with very little change or relaxation. If
they were not actually engaged in some laborious service, they had some
such services in near prospect; and what time was given them for rest
had to be strictly spent in preparation. Never, indeed, before, had the
whole force been quartered in a city; and a month in Babylon, one of the
most luxurious places in the world—not to use any worse epithet—was a
curious change from the hardships of the bivouac and the battle-field.
And then the soldiers found themselves in possession of an unusual sum
of money. An enormous treasure had fallen into Alexander’s hand, and he
had dispensed it with characteristic liberality, giving to each private
soldier sums varying from thirty to ten pounds, according to the corps in
which he served, and to the officers in proportion. Such opportunities
for revelry were not neglected, and the city presented a scene of license
and uproar from which Charidemus and his friend were very glad to escape.

For Charondas the household of Eleazar possessed a particular attraction
in the person of his great-grand-daughter Miriam. He had chanced, before
his introduction to the family, to do the girl and her attendant the
service of checking the unwelcome attentions of some half-tipsy soldiers.
The young Miriam began by being grateful, and ended by feeling a warmer
interest in her gallant and handsome protector. So the time passed only
too quickly by. There was no need to go for exercise or recreation
beyond the spacious pleasure grounds which were attached to Eleazar’s
dwelling. They included, indeed, part of the famous “hanging-garden”
which the greatest of the Babylonian kings had constructed for his queen,
to reproduce for her among the level plains of the Euphrates the wooded
hills, her native Median uplands, over which she had once delighted
to wander. The elaborate structure—terrace rising above terrace till
they overtopped the city walls—had been permitted to fall into decay;
but the wildness of the spot, left as it had been to nature, more than
compensated, to some tastes at least, the absence of more regular beauty.
In another part of the garden was a small lake, supplied by a canal
which was connected with the Euphrates. This was a specially favoured
resort of the young people. Water-lilies, white, yellow, and olive, half
covered its surface with their gorgeous flowers; and its depths were
tenanted by swarms of gold fish. A light shallop floated on its waters,
and Miriam often watched with delight the speed with which the friends
could propel it through the water, though she could never be induced to
trust herself to it. Days so spent and evenings employed in the readings
described above, and the talk which grew out of them, made a delightful
change from the realities of campaigning, realities which, for all the
excitements of danger and glory, were often prosaic and revolting.



CHAPTER XXIII

A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE


“Charidemus,” said the Theban to his friend one morning, when, the
order to march having been given, the two friends were busy with their
preparations, “Charidemus, we have been more than a month in Babylon, and
yet have never seen its greatest wonder.”

“What do you mean?” returned the other. “The place seems to me full of
wonders, and I should be greatly puzzled to say which is the greatest.”

“I mean the magic, of course. Everybody says that the Babylonian
magicians are the most famous in the world. I don’t think we ought to go
away without finding out something about them.”

“I cannot say that I feel particularly disposed that way. Do you think
that people have ever got any real good from oracles and soothsaying
and auguries and such things? It seems to me that when they do get any
knowledge of the future, it is a sort of half-knowledge, that is much
more likely to lead them astray than to guide. However, if you are very
curious about these magicians, I don’t mind coming with you.”

“Who will tell us the best man to go to? Do you think that Eleazar would
be likely to know?”

“He may know, as he seems to know everything. But I don’t think that we
had better ask him. I feel sure that he hates the whole race. Don’t you
remember when he was reading out of that book his explaining that the
‘wise men’ of Babylon were the magicians, and saying that whatever in
their art was not imposture was wickedness?”

“Yes; and he wondered why Daniel, when he came to have the king’s ear,
did not have the whole race exterminated. As you say, Eleazar is not
likely to help us.”

The two friends, however, easily found the information that they wanted.
There could be no doubt who was the man they should consult. All agreed
that the prince of the magicians was Arioch. “If you want to know what
the stars can tell you,” explained a seller of sword blades with whom
they had had some dealings, and whom they consulted, “you must go to
Zaidu. He is the most learned of the star-gazers, of the astrologers. Or,
if you want to learn what can be found out from the entrails of beasts,
and the flight or notes of birds, you must go to Zirbulla. The best
interpreter of dreams, again, is Lagamar. But if you want a magician,
then Arioch is your man. And if you want my advice, young gentlemen,”
went on the sword-dealer, who seemed indeed to have thought a good deal
about the subject, “I should say, Go to a magician. You see the stars are
very much above us; they may have something to say in great matters—wars,
and such like—but I don’t see how they can concern themselves with you
and me. Then the birds and beasts are below us. And as for dreams, what
are they but our own thoughts? Don’t understand me, gentlemen,” he
exclaimed, “to say that I don’t believe in stars and dreams and the other
things; but, after all, magic, I take it, is the best way of looking into
the future.”

“Why?” asked the two friends, to whom much of this distinguishing between
different kinds of divination was new.

“Because the magicians have to do with spirits, with demons,” said their
informant, his voice sinking to an awe-stricken whisper; “and the demons
are not above us like the stars, nor below us like the beasts. They are
with us, they are like us. Some of them have been men, and now that they
are free from the body they see what we cannot see. But Arioch will tell
you more about these things than I can. I am only in the outside court;
he is in the shrine.”

Arioch’s house was in the best quarter of the city, and was so sumptuous
a dwelling, both within and without, as to show clearly enough that
magic was a lucrative art. The magician himself was not the sort of man
whom the friends had expected to see. He was no venerable sage, pale with
fasting and exhausted with midnight vigils, but a man of middle-age,
whose handsome face was ruddy with health and brown with exercise, and
who, with his carefully curled hair and beard and fashionable clothing,
seemed more like a courtier than a sorcerer.

Arioch received his guests with elaborate politeness. He clapped his
hands, and a slave appeared, carrying three jewelled cups, full of Libyan
wine, a rare vintage, commonly reserved, as the young men happened
to know, for royal tables. He clapped his hands again, but this time
twice, and a little girl, with yellow hair and a complexion of exquisite
fairness, came in with a tray of sweetmeats. She had been bought, he
explained, from a Celtic tribe in the far West, and he hinted that the
cost of her purchase had been enormous. A conversation followed on
general topics, brought round gradually and without effort, as it seemed,
to the object of the visit.

“So you want to have a look into the future?” he asked.

The two friends admitted that they did.

“Perhaps I can help you,” said the magician. “But you know, I do not
doubt, that one does not look into the future as easily as one reads a
calendar or a tablet.”

For a short time he seemed to be considering, and then went on, “I
must think the matter over; and if the thing can be done there are some
preparations which I must make. Meanwhile my secretary shall show you
some things which may be worth your looking at.”

He touched a silver hand-bell which stood on a table—a slab of citron
wood on a silver pedestal—which stood by his side. A young man, who was
apparently of Egyptian extraction, entered the room. Arioch gave him his
directions.

“Show these gentlemen the library and anything else that they may care to
see.”

The library was indeed a curious sight. To the Greeks five centuries
constituted antiquity. Legends, it is true, went back to a far remoter
past, but there was nothing actually to be seen or handled of which they
could be certain that it was much older than this. But here they stood in
the presence of ages, compared to which even their own legends were new.

“This,” said their guide, pointing to an earthen jar, “contains the
foundation cylinder of the Sun Temple, written by the hand of Naramsin
himself. Nabonidus, whom you call Labynetus, found it more than two
hundred years ago, and it was then at least three thousand years old.
These again,” and he pointed as he spoke to several rows of bricks
covered with wedge-shaped characters, “are the Calendar of Sargon. They
are quite modern. They can be scarcely two thousand years old. This
roll,” he went on, “was part of a library which King Nebuchadnezzar
brought back from Egypt. He gave it to an ancestor of my master. It is
the story of the king whom you call Sesostris, I think.”

These were some of the curiosities of the collection. But it contained
a number of more modern works, and was especially rich, as might be
expected, in works dealing with the possessor’s art. “There was no book
of importance on this subject,” the secretary was sure, “that his master
did not possess.” He pointed to the most recent acquisition, which had
come, he said, from Carthage.

“It is almost the first book,” he remarked, “that has been written in
that city; not worth very much, I fancy; but, then, my master likes to
have everything, and there must be bad as well as good.”

There were other things in the library which some visitors might have
thought more interesting than books. The heavy iron doors of a cupboard
in the wall were thrown back, and showed a splendid collection of gold
and silver cups and chargers, some of them exact models, the secretary
said, of the sacred vessels from Jerusalem. The originals had been all
scrupulously restored by Cyrus and his successors. A drawer was opened,
and found to be full of precious stones, conspicuous among which were
some emeralds and sapphires of unusual size. “Presents,” exclaimed the
secretary, “from distinguished persons who have received benefit from my
master’s skill.”

The visitors were politely given to understand that they, too, would be
expected to contribute something to this lavish display of wealth.

“It is usual,” said the secretary, “for those who consult the future
to make some little offering. This part of the business has been put
under my management. The master never touches coin; he must go into the
presence of the spirits with clean hands. Touched with dross, they might
raise the wrath of the Unseen Ones.”

The two friends thought the scruple a little fine-drawn, but said nothing.

“My master,” the secretary went on, “is unwilling that any one should be
shut out from the sight of that which might profit him for lack of means,
and has fixed the fee at five darics.[67] There are rich men who force
upon him, so to speak, much more costly gifts.”

The friends, who happened to have their pockets full of prize-money,
produced the ten darics, not without a misgiving that what they were to
hear would scarcely be worth the money. But the adventure, if followed so
far, would have to be followed to the end. To grumble would be useless,
and if there was anything to be learnt, might injure the chance of
learning it.

The gold duly handed over, the inquirers were taken back, not to the
chamber in which Arioch had received them, but to one of a far more
imposing kind. It was a lofty vaulted room, pervaded with a dim green
light coming from an invisible source; as there were neither lamps nor
any window or skylight to be seen. The tessellated floor had strange
devices, hideous figures of the demons which were the life-long terror
of the superstitious Babylonians. On a brazen altar in the centre of
the room some embers were smouldering. These, as the visitors entered,
were fanned by some unseen agency to a white heat. A moment afterwards
Arioch threw some handfuls of incense on them, and the room was soon
filled with fumes of a most stupefying fragrance. The magician himself
was certainly changed from the worldly-looking personage whom the friends
had seen an hour before. His face wore a look of exaltation; while the
dim green light had changed its healthy hue to a ghastly paleness. His
secular attire had been changed for priestly robes of white, bound round
the waist by a girdle which looked like a serpent, and surmounted by a
mitre in the top of which a curious red light was seen to burn. The young
men, though half-contemptuous of what they could not help thinking to be
artificial terrors, yet felt a certain awe creeping over them as they
gazed.

“You desire,” said the magician in a voice which his visitors could
hardly recognize as that in which he had before accosted them, “you
desire to hear from the spirits what they have to tell you of the
future.”

“We do,” said Charidemus.

“There are spirits and spirits,” continued Arioch, “spirits which come
in visible shape, and with which you can talk face to face, and spirits
whose voices only can be discerned by mortal senses. The first are
terrible to look upon and dangerous to deal with.”

“We do not fear,” said the young men.

“But I fear,” returned the magician, “if not for you, yet for myself.
What would your king say if two of his officers, traced to my house,
should be missing, or—I have seen such things—should be found strangled?
Not all my art—and I know something I assure you—would save me. And then
I dread the spirits, if I call them up unprepared, even more than I dread
your king. No, my young friends, I dare not call up the strongest spirits
that I know. But, believe me, you shall not repent of having come, or
think your time wasted.”

“Do as you think best,” said Charidemus. “We shall be content; it is your
art, not ours.”

Arioch commenced a low chant which gradually grew louder and louder till
the roof rang again with the volume of sound. The listeners could not
understand the words. They were in the tongue of the Accadian tribes
whom the Babylonian Semites had long before dispossessed; but they could
distinguish some frequently recurring names, always pronounced with a
peculiar intonation, which they imagined to be the names of the spirits
whom the magician was invoking.

The chant reached the highest pitch to which the voice could be raised,
and then suddenly ceased.

“Be sure,” said Arioch, in his usual voice, “that you stand within the
circle, and do not speak.”

The circle was the region that was protected by incantations from the
intrusion of spirits, that of the more powerful and malignant kind being
excepted, as the magician had explained.

“These strangers seek to know the future,” said Arioch, with the
same strained voice and in the same tongue which he had used in his
invocation. He interpreted his words in Greek, as he also interpreted the
answers. These answers seemed to come from a distance; the language used
was the same, as far as the hearers could judge of words which they did
not understand; the voice had a very different sound.

“They were foes and they are friends. Dear to the immortal gods is he
that can forgive, and dear is he who can bear to be forgiven. The years
shall divide them, and the years shall bring them together. They shall
travel by diverse ways, and the path shall be smooth to the one and rough
to the other, but the end shall be peace, if only they be wise. The tree
that was a sapling yesterday to-morrow shall cover the whole earth. But
it shall be stricken from above, and great will be its fall. Many will
perish in that day. Happy is he who shall be content to stand afar and
watch.”

The voice ceased, and a moment afterwards the strange light of the
chamber changed to that of the ordinary day. “The spirit will speak no
more,” said Arioch. “Come with me.” And he led them out of the chamber.
When they had got back to the room into which they had been ushered at
first, he said, “These things are for your own ears; I leave it to your
discretion to determine when you will speak of them. At least let it not
be for years to come. For yourselves, I see nothing but light in the
future; but for one who is greater than you, there is darkness in the
sky. But be silent. It is dangerous to prophecy evil to the mighty. Yet,
if the occasion should come, say to your master, ‘Beware of the city
whose fortifications were built by the potters.’”[68]

“Was this worth our ten darics, think you?” said the Theban, as they
walked to their own quarters, through streets filled with the bustle of
preparation, for the army was getting ready to march. “Surely one might
get good luck told to one, and good advice given for less. But he seemed
to know something about us.”

The two friends were never able quite to make up their minds, whether
the magician’s words were a happy guess, or a genuine prediction. As
they came to know more of the marvels of Eastern sorcery they thought
less of the outside marvels of the scene which they had witnessed. They
made acquaintance, for instance, with ventriloquism, a curious gift
scarcely known in the West, but frequently used for purposes of religious
imposture by some of the Asiatic peoples. And they could make a shrewd
guess that persons in Arioch’s position made it their business to gather
all the knowledge that they could about the past history of those who
consulted them. But there was always an unexplained remainder. This, as
most of my readers will probably allow, was not an uncommon experience.
There is plenty of carefully gathered knowledge of the past, plenty of
shrewd guessing at the future, and plenty, it cannot be doubted, of
imposture—but something more.



CHAPTER XXIV

VENGEANCE


Two days after the interview with the magician the army marched out of
Babylon. Its destination was in the first place, Susa, where a large
reinforcement was awaiting it. There had been some losses in battle, and
many times more from sickness. The month spent amongst the luxuries of
Babylon had been at least as fatal as three months of campaigning. But
all vacancies were more than made up by the fifteen thousand men from
Macedonia, Thrace, and Greece, who now joined the standards. As for
money, it was in such abundance as never had been witnessed before, or
has been witnessed since.[69] The treasure found at Babylon had sufficed,
as we have seen, to furnish a liberal present to the troops; but the
treasures of Susa were far greater. Fifty thousand talents is said to
have been the total,[70] and there remained more than double the sum
yet to be acquired at Persepolis. This was the next point to be reached.
It lay in the rugged mountain region from which the conquering Persian
race had emerged some two centuries before, to found an empire which has
scarcely a parallel in history for the rapidity of its growth and its
decay.

The army had halted for the night at the end of the fifth day’s march,
when a company of rudely clad strangers presented themselves at one of
the gates of the camp, and demanded an audience of the king. They were
admitted to his presence, and proceeded by their interpreter to make
their demands. These were couched in language, which, softened though it
was by the tact of the interpreter, still had a very peremptory sound.

“Powerful Stranger,” they began (the “powerful” was interpolated in the
process of translation) “we are come to demand the tribute customarily
paid by all who would traverse the country of the Uxii. The Great King,
from the days of Cyrus himself, has always paid it, as will you also, we
doubt not, who claim to be his successor. If you refuse, we shut our pass
against you, as we would have shut it against him.”

A flush of rage at this unceremonious address rose to the face of the
king, but he mastered himself. “It is strange,” said he, after a moment,
“to be thus addressed. There is no one, from the Western Sea to this
spot, who has been able to stay my advance. On what strength of your
arms, or on what favour of the gods do you depend, that you talk so
boldly? Yet I would not refuse aught that you have a right to ask. On the
third day, as I calculate, I shall reach that pass of which you speak. Be
there, and you shall receive that which is your due.”

Thoroughly mystified by this answer, the Uxians returned to their native
hills, and having collected a force which was held sufficient to garrison
the pass against any assailant, they awaited the arrival of their new
tributary. But to their astonishment he approached them from behind. His
eagle eye had discovered a track, known, of course, to the mountaineers,
but certainly unknown to his guide. A few wreaths of smoke rising into
the clear air, far up the heights of the hills, caught his eye as early
one morning he surveyed the mountain range over which he had to make his
way. At the same time he traced the line of a slight depression in the
hills. “Where there is a dwelling there is probably a path,” said the
king to Parmenio, who accompanied him in his reconnoitring expedition,
“and we shall doubtless find it near a watercourse.”

The watercourse was discovered, and with it the path. Greedy as ever
of personal adventure, Alexander himself led the light troops whom
he selected as the most suitable force for this service. Starting at
midnight he came just before dawn on one of the Uxian villages. The
surprise was complete. Not a man escaped. By the time the next village
was reached some of the inhabitants had gone about their work in the
fields and contrived to get away. But they only spread the alarm among
their tribesmen. As there was not a fortress in the whole country, there
was nothing left for the humbled mountaineers but absolute submission.
Even this would not have saved the tribe from extermination, the penalty
which the enraged Alexander had decreed against them, but for the
intercession of the mother of Darius.

“My son,” she said, “be merciful. My own race came two generations back
from these same mountaineers. I ask their lives as a favour to myself.
If they are haughty, it is the Persian kings in the past who by their
weakness have taught them to be so. Now that they have learnt your
strength, you will find them subjects worth ruling.”

“Mother,” said Alexander, “whatever you are pleased to ask, I am more
than pleased to give.”

And the shepherds were saved.

Another pass yet remained to be won, the famous Susian gates, and then
Persepolis was his. But it was not won without an effort. One of the
sturdiest of the Persian nobles held it with a body of picked troops,
and the first assault, delivered the very morning after his arrival,
was repulsed with loss. The next, directed both against the front
and against the flank, always a weak point with Asiatic troops, was
successful, and the way to Persepolis was open.

The king had invited Charidemus to ride with him as the army made its
last day’s march to Persepolis, and the young Macedonian had related to
him the adventure which he and his friend had encountered on their way
from the fords of Euphrates to join the army, and had dwelt with some
emotion on the story of the unhappy man who had been the means of their
escape. A turn of the road brought them face to face with a pitiable
spectacle for which his tale had been an appropriate preparation. This
was a company of unhappy creatures—it was afterwards ascertained that
there were as many as eight hundred of them—who had suffered mutilation
at the hands of their brutal Persian masters. Some had lost hands, some
feet; several of the poor creatures had been deprived of both, and were
wheeled along in little cars by some comrades who had been less cruelly
treated. On the faces of many of them had been branded insulting words,
sometimes in Persian and sometimes—a yet more intolerable grievance—in
Greek characters. “Not men but strange spectres of men”;[71] they greeted
the king with a Greek cry of welcome. Their voices seemed the only human
thing about them.

When the king saw this deplorable array, and understood who and what
they were, he leapt from his horse, and went among the ranks of
the sufferers. So manifest was his sympathy that they could not but
welcome him, and yet they could not help shrinking with a keen sense of
humiliation from the gaze of a countryman. Bodily deformity was such a
calamity to the Greek with his keen love for physical beauty, that such
an affliction as that from which they were suffering seemed the very
heaviest burden that could be laid upon humanity. Yet there were none
who were not touched by the king’s gracious kindness. He went from one
to another with words of sympathy and consolation, inquired into their
stories, and promised them such help as they might require. A strange
collection of stories they were that the king heard. Some doubtless
were exaggerated; in others there was some suppression of truth; but
the whole formed a record of pitiless and often unprovoked cruelty.
Many of the unhappy men were persons of education: tutors who had been
induced to take charge of young Persian nobles and had chanced to offend
either employer or pupil; unlucky or unskilful physicians, such as he
whom Charidemus had encountered; architects where buildings had proved
unsightly or unstable. Mercenary soldiers who had been convicted or
suspected of unfaithfulness were a numerous class. A few, it could hardly
be doubted, had been really guilty of criminal acts.

So moved was Alexander by the horror of what he saw and heard that
he burst into tears. “And after all,” Charidemus heard him murmur to
himself, “I cannot heal the sorrows of one of these poor creatures. O
gods, how helpless have ye made the race of mortal men!”

Still, if he could not heal their sorrows, he could alleviate them. The
sufferers were given to understand that they should have their choice of
returning to their homes in Greece, or of remaining where they were. In
either case, their means of livelihood in the future would be assured.
They were to deliberate among themselves, and let him know their decision
in the morning.

The question was debated, we are told, with some heat.

“Such sorrows as ours,” said the spokesman of one party, “are best borne
where they are borne unseen. Shall we exhibit them as a nine-days’ wonder
to Greece? True it is our country; but wretches such as we are have no
country, and no hope but in being forgotten. Our friends will pity us,
I doubt not; but nothing dries sooner than a tear. Our wives—will they
welcome in these mangled carcases the bridegrooms of their youth; our
children—will they reverence such parents? We have wives and children
here, who have been the sole solace of our unhappy lot. Shall we leave
them for the uncertain affection of those who may well wish, when the
first emotion of pity is spent, that we had never returned?”

It was an Athenian who represented the opposite views. “Such thoughts as
you have heard,” he said, “are an insult to humanity. Only a hardhearted
man can believe that other men’s hearts are so hard. The gods are
offering us to-day what we never could have ventured to ask—our country,
our wives, our children, all that is worth living or dying for. To refuse
it were baseness indeed; only the slaves who have learnt to hug their
chains can do it.”

The counsels of the first speaker prevailed; and indeed many of the
exiles were old and feeble and could hardly hope to survive the fatigues
of the homeward journey. A deputation waited on Alexander to announce
their decision. He seems to have expected another result, promising all
that they wanted for their journey and a comfortable subsistence at home.
The offer was heard in silence, and then the king learnt the truth. It
touched him inexpressibly that men could be so wretched that they were
unwilling to return to their country. His first thought was to secure the
exiles a liberal provision in the place where they had elected to stay.
Each man had a handsome present in money,[72] and suitable clothing,
besides a well-stocked farm, the rent of which he would receive from
some native cultivator. The second thought was to carry into execution
a resolve which the sight of these victims of Persian cruelty had
suggested. He would visit these brutal barbarians with a vengeance that
should make the world ring again.

A council of generals was hastily called, and Alexander announced his
intentions.

“We have come,” he said, “to the mother-city of the Persian race. It is
from this that these barbarians, the most pitiless and savage that the
world has ever seen, came forth to ravage the lands of the Greek. Up till
to-day we have abstained from vengeance; and indeed it would have been
unjust to punish the subjects for the wickedness of their masters. But
now we have the home of these masters in our power, and the day of our
revenge is come. When the royal treasure has been removed I shall give
over Persepolis to fire and sword.”

Only one of the assembly ventured to oppose this decision, though there
were many, doubtless, who questioned its wisdom.

“You will do ill, sire, in my opinion,” said Parmenio, the oldest of his
generals, “to carry out this resolve. It is not the wealth of the enemy,
it is your own wealth that you are giving up to plunder; it is your own
subjects—for enemies who have submitted themselves to the conquerors are
subjects—whom you are about to slaughter.”

“Your advice, Parmenio,” retorted the king, “becomes you, but it does
not become me. I do not make war as a huckster, to make profit of my
victories, nor even as King of Macedon, but as the avenger of Greece.
Two hundred years of wrong from the day when the Persians enslaved our
brethren in Asia cry for vengeance. The gods have called me to the task,
and this, I feel, is the hour.”

After this nothing more was said. The royal treasure was removed,
loading, it is said, ten thousand carts each drawn by a pair of mules,
and five thousand camels. Then the city was given up to plunder and
massacre, and, when it had been stripped of everything valuable, burnt
to the ground, the king himself leading the way torch in hand. In a few
hours a few smoking ruins were all that remained of the ancient capital
of the Persian race. We may wish that Alexander had shown himself
more magnanimous; but it must be remembered that this savage act only
expressed the common sentiment of his age. For the most part he was a
clement and generous conqueror; but “vengeance on Persia” he could not
entirely forget.[73] With Parmenio’s argument that the king was wasting
his own property we may compare the conversation that Herodotus records
as having taken place between Crœsus and Cyrus, after the capture of
Sardis:

“After a while, when Crœsus saw the Persians plundering the city of the
Lydians, he turned to King Cyrus, and said, ‘Is it allowed me, O king,
to speak that which is in my heart, or shall I be silent?’ And Cyrus
bade him be of good courage, and speak what he would. Then Crœsus asked
him, ‘What is it that this great multitude is so busy about?’ ‘They are
spoiling thy city,’ said Cyrus, ‘and carrying off thy possessions.’
‘Nay,’ said Crœsus, ‘this is not my city that they spoil, nor my
possessions that they carry off; for I have now no share or lot in these
things. But the things that they plunder are thine.’”



CHAPTER XXV

DARIUS


Alexander’s most pressing care was now the capture of Darius himself.
As long as the Great King was at liberty he might become the centre of
a dangerous opposition. If he was once taken Persia was practically
conquered. He had fled to Ecbatana, the ancient capital of the Medes,
from the field of Arbela; and now he had left Ecbatana to find refuge
in the wilds of Bactria, the most rugged and inaccessible of all the
provinces of the empire. But he was not far in advance; Alexander was
only eight days behind him at Ecbatana, and eight days would not, he
thought, be difficult to make up, when his own rate of marching was
compared with that of the fugitive. Affairs that could not be neglected
kept him some days at Ecbatana. These disposed of, he started in pursuit,
hoping to overtake the flying king before he could reach the Caspian
Gates, a difficult mountain-pass on the southern side of the range which
now bears the name of Elburz. He pressed on in hot haste, but found that
he was too late. He was still fifty miles from the Gates, when he heard
that Darius had passed them. And for the present it was impossible to
continue the chase. So worn out were the troops that he had to allow them
five days for rest. After this the fifty miles that still separated him
from the Gates were traversed in two days. At the first halting place
on the other side he heard news that made him curse the delays that had
hindered his movements.

Toilsome as this rapid march had been, Queen Sisygambis, the mother of
Darius, had, at her own earnest request, accompanied it. Alexander had
just finished his evening meal on the evening of the first day after
passing the Gates, when he received a message from the queen’s mother,
requesting an interview on matters of urgent importance. He obeyed the
summons at once, and repaired to the tent.

The queen, usually calm and self-possessed, was overwhelmed with grief.
“Speak, and tell your story,” she said, addressing the elder of two men
who stood by wearing the dress of Bactrian peasants. The man stepped
forward.

“Stay,” cried Alexander, “first tell me who you are, for, unless my eyes
deceive me, you are not what you seem.”

“It is true, sire,” replied the man. “We have disguised ourselves that
we might have the better chance of bringing you tidings which it greatly
concerns both you and the queen to know. My companion and I are Persian
nobles. We have been faithful to King Darius. Till three days ago we
followed him, and it is our duty to him that brings us here.”

“What do you mean?” cried Alexander. “Where is he? How does he fare?”

“Sire,” said Bagistanes, for that was the Persian’s name, “he is king no
longer.”

“And who has presumed to depose him?” said Alexander, flushing with rage.
“Who is it that gives and takes away kingdoms at his pleasure?”

“Sire,” replied Bagistanes, “since the day when King Darius fled from the
field of Arbela——”

The speaker paused, and looked doubtfully at the queen. It was impossible
to tell the truth without implying blame of the king, who had in so
cowardly a fashion betrayed his army.

“Speak on,” said Sisygambis. “I have learnt to bear it.”

“Since that day, then,” resumed Bagistanes, “the king has had enemies who
would have taken from him the Crown of Persia. Bessus, Satrap of Bactria,
conspired with other nobles against their master. They consulted whether
they should not deliver him to you, and had done so, but that they
doubted whether you were one that rewarded traitors. Then they resolved
to take him with them in their flight eastward, and in his name to renew
the war.”

“But had he no friends?” asked the king.

“Yes, he had friends, but they were too weak to resist, nor would the
king trust himself to them. Patron, who commanded the Greeks that are
still left to him, warned him of his danger, but to no purpose. ‘If my
own people desert me,’ he said, ‘I will not be defended by foreigners.’
And Patron, who indeed had but fifteen hundred men with him—for only so
many are left out of the fifty thousand Greeks who received the king’s
pay four years ago—Patron could do nothing. Then Artabazus tried what he
could do. ‘If you do not trust these men because they are foreigners, yet
I am a Persian of the Persians. Will you not listen to me?’ The king bade
him speak, and Artabazus gave him the same advice that Patron had given.
‘Come with us, for there are some who are still faithful to you, into the
Greek camp. That is your only hope.’ The king refused. ‘I stay with my
own people,’ he said. That same day Patron and his Greeks marched off,
and Artabazus went with him. My companion and I thought that we could
better serve our master by remaining, and we stayed. That night Bessus
surrounded the king’s tent with soldiers—some Bactrian savages, who know
no master but the man who pays them—and laid hands on him, bound him with
chains of gold, and carried him off in a covered chariot, closely guarded
by Bactrians. We could not get speech with him; but we went a day’s
journey with the traitors, in order to find out what direction they were
going to take. We halted that night at a village, the headman of which I
knew to be a faithful fellow—in fact, he is my foster-brother. He gave us
these disguises, and we got off very soon after it was dark. Probably we
were not pursued; the start was too great. This is what we have come to
tell you.”

“You will save him, my son,” said Sisygambis to Alexander.

“I will, mother,” replied the king, “if it can be done by man, and the
gods do not forbid.”

Within an hour a picked body of troops was ready to continue the
pursuit. Two small squadrons, one of the Companion Cavalry, the other of
Macedonian light horse—the Thessalians had gone home from Ecbatana—and a
company of infantry, selected for their strength and endurance, formed
the van of the pursuing force. Alexander, of course, took the command
himself. Charidemus, who was beginning to have a reputation for good
luck, a gift scarcely less highly esteemed even by the wise than prudence
and courage, received orders to accompany him. No man carried anything
beyond his arms and provisions for two days, the king himself being as
slenderly equipped as his companions. The main body of the army was to
follow with the baggage at a more leisurely pace.

It was about the beginning of the first watch[74] when the flying column
started. It made a forced march of two nights and a day, making only a
few brief halts for food, and taking a somewhat longer rest when the sun
was at its hottest. When the second day began to dawn, the camp from
which Bagistanes had escaped to bring his information could be descried.
Bessus was now three days in advance. Another forced march, this time for
twenty-four hours, broken only by one brief siesta, for the men ate in
their saddles, materially decreased the distance. The column reached a
village which Bessus and his prisoner had left only the day before. Still
the prospect was discouraging. The headman was brought before Alexander,
and questioned by means of an interpreter. The man had plenty to tell,
for it was only the day before that he had been similarly questioned by
Bessus. From what had fallen from the satrap, the headman had concluded
that it was the intention of the fugitives to push on night and day
without halting.

“Can we overtake them?” asked the king. “Tell me how I may do it and you
shall have a hundred gold coins for yourself, and your village shall be
free of tribute for ever.”

“You cannot overtake them by following them; but you can cut them off.”

The man then described the route which would have to be followed. It lay
across a desert; it was fairly level and not unusually rough, but it
was absolutely without water. Sometimes used in winter, it was never
traversed between the spring and the autumn equinox. But the distance
saved was very large indeed.

Alexander’s resolution was at once taken. He was one of the men to whom
nothing is impossible, and this waterless desert was only one of the
obstacles which it was his delight to overcome. But, if his idea was
audacious, he had also a consummate readiness of resource, and a most
careful and sagacious faculty of adapting means to ends. He began by
selecting from the cavalry force which accompanied him the best horses
and the best men. All the infantry were left behind. The riding weight
of the chosen horsemen was reduced to the lowest possibility, even the
ornaments of the horses being left behind. Then he gave them a long
rest, so long that there was no little wonder among them at what seemed
a strange waste of time. But the king knew what he was doing. He was
going to make one supreme effort, and everything must be done to avoid a
breakdown.

The start was made at nightfall, but the moon was fortunately full, and
the riders had no difficulty in keeping the track. By an hour after
sunrise on the following day they had completed nearly fifty miles, and
their task was all but accomplished.

They had, in fact, cut the Persians off. The two bodies of men were
marching on converging lines, which, had they been followed, would have
actually brought them together. Unluckily some quick-sighted Bactrian
had caught a glimpse of the Macedonians, and had given the alarm to
his commander. Bessus and his column were already in flight when they,
somewhat later, became visible to the Macedonians.

The best mounted of the troopers started at once in pursuit. They
recognized the figure of the satrap, and took it for granted that Darius
would be with him. The chase would in any case have been fruitless, for
the Bactrians had not been pushing their horses during the night, and
easily distanced the wearied pursuers. But, as a matter of fact, Darius
was not there, and it was Charidemus who, by mingled sagacity and good
luck, won the prize of the day. His eye had been caught by an object
in the Persian line of march which he soon discovered to be a covered
chariot, surrounded by troops. He saw it become the centre of a lively
movement and then observed that it was left standing alone. He also
observed that before the soldiers left it they killed the animals which
were drawing it. It at once occurred to him that it was here that Darius
would be found. He looked round for the king, intending to make his
conjecture known to him. But Alexander was a long way behind. His horse,
not the famous Bucephalus, which was indeed too old for such work, but a
young charger which he was riding for the first time, had broken down.
No time was to be lost, and Charidemus galloped up to the chariot.

His guess had been right. Darius was there, but he was dying. The story
told afterwards by the slave who, hidden himself, had witnessed the last
scene, was this: Bessus and the other leaders, as soon as they discovered
that the Macedonians had overtaken them, had urged the king to leave the
chariot and mount a horse. He refused. “You will fall,” cried Bessus,
“into the hands of Alexander.” “I care not,” answered Darius. “At least
he is not a traitor.” Without further parley they hurled their javelins
at him and fled, not even turning to see whether the wounds were mortal.

The king was near his end when Charidemus entered. The slave had come out
of his hiding-place, and was endeavouring in vain to stanch the flow of
blood. Darius roused a little as the strange figure came in sight.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Charidemus, my lord,” was the answer.

“What?” murmured the dying man, “do his furies haunt me still?”

“My lord,” said the young man, “I have only kindness to remember.”

Darius recognized his voice. “Ah! I recollect,” he said, “you were at
Issus. But where is your king?”

“He is behind; he is coming; but his horse failed him.”

“He will be too late, if indeed he wished to see me alive. But it matters
not: Darius, alive or dead, is nothing now. But give him my thanks, and
say that I commend my mother to him and all of my kindred that may fall
into his hands. He is a generous foe, and worthier than I of the sceptre
of Cyrus. But let him beware. He is too great; and the gods are envious.”

Here his voice failed him. A shudder passed over his limbs; he drew a few
deep breaths, and the last of the Persian kings was gone.

About half an hour afterwards Alexander arrived, having obtained a horse
from one of his troopers. For some minutes he stood looking at the dead
man in silence. Then calling some of his men, who by this time had
collected in considerable numbers, he bade them pay the last duties to
the dead. The corpse was conveyed to the nearest town, and there roughly
embalmed. In due time it received honourable burial in the royal tomb at
Pasargadæ.



CHAPTER XXVI

INVALIDED


The extraordinary fatigues which Charidemus had undergone, together with
continual exposure to the burning summer heat, resulted in a long and
dangerous illness. He had strength enough to make his way along with a
number of other invalided men to Ecbatana; but immediately after his
arrival in that city the fever which had been lurking in his system
declared itself in an acute form. For many days he hovered between life
and death, and his recovery was long and tedious, and interrupted by more
than one dangerous relapse. All this time the outer world was nothing to
him. First came days of delirium in which he raved of battles and sieges,
with now and then a softer note in his voice contrasting strangely with
the ringing tone of the words of command. These were followed by weeks
of indifference, during which the patient took no care for anything but
the routine of the sick-room. When his thoughts once more returned to the
business and interests of life it was already autumn.

Almost the first news from the world without that penetrated the
retirement of his sick-room was the story of a terrible tragedy that had
happened almost within sight and hearing.

Parmenio, the oldest, the most trusted of the lieutenants of Alexander,
was dead, treacherously slain by his master’s orders; and Philotas his
son, the most brilliant cavalry leader in the army, had been put to death
on a charge of treason. Whether that charge was true or false no one
knew for certain, as no one has been able to discover since. But there
were many who believed that both men had been shamefully murdered. The
accusation was certainly improbable—for what had Parmenio and his son,
both as high in command as they could hope to be, to gain? And it rested
on the weakest evidence, the testimony of a worthless boy and a still
more worthless woman.

All Charidemus’s feelings were prepossessed in favour of the king; but
the story came upon him as an awful shock. With Parmenio he had had no
personal acquaintance, but Philotas had been in a way his friend. Haughty
and overbearing in his general demeanour, he had treated Charidemus with
especial kindness. The first effect of the news was to throw him back in
his recovery. For a time, indeed, he was again dangerously ill. He ceased
to care for life, and life almost slipped from his grasp.

He was slowly struggling back to health, much exercised all the time by
doubts about his future, when a letter from the king was put into his
hands. It ran thus:—

    “_Alexander the king to Charidemus, greeting._

    “_I hear with pleasure that the gods have preserved you to us.
    But you must not tempt the Fates again. You have had four years
    of warfare; let it suffice you for the present. It so happens
    that at this moment of writing I have before me the demand of
    Amyntas, son of Craterus, to be relieved of his command. He
    is, as you know, Governor of Pergamos, and he wishes to take
    part in the warfare which I purpose to carry on in the further
    East. This command, therefore, of which he is not unreasonably
    weary, you may not unreasonably welcome. Herewith is the order
    that appoints you to it. My keeper of the treasure at Ecbatana
    will pay you two hundred talents. Consider this as your present
    share of prize-money. You will also find herewith letters that
    you will deliver with your own hand. If you have other friends
    in Pergamos, greet them from me, and say that I wish well both
    to them and to you. Be sure that if hereafter I shall need you
    I shall send for you. Farewell._”

This communication solved at least one of the problems over which the
young man had been puzzling. The physician had told him most emphatically
that for a year or more all campaigning was out of the question. Here
was a post which, as far as its duties were concerned, was practically
equal to retirement. If he had had his choice he could not have picked
out anything more suitable to his circumstances. A doubt indeed occurred
whether, after what had happened, he could take anything from Alexander’s
hands. But the State, he reflected, must be served. Pergamos must have
its garrison, if for no other reason, at least because the child who was
at present the king’s only heir was there, and the garrison must have its
commander. And besides—who was he that he should judge the king? It would
be painful, he acknowledged to himself, to be in daily contact with a man
whose hands were red with the blood of a friend. That pain he would be
spared. But it was another thing to refuse office at his hand. That would
be to pronounce sentence in a case which he had no means of deciding.
It was only after conscientiously weighing the matter by the weights of
duty that the young man suffered himself to consult his private feelings.
Here at least there was not a shadow of doubt in his mind. It was a grief
to the ambitious young soldier to be checked in his active career. The
campaign which the king was meditating in the further East promised to be
full of adventure and interest, but if he was, for the future, to _hear_
only of these glories, where could he do so with greater content than in
the daily companionship of Clearista?

The westward journey was begun the next week. It was accomplished far
more easily and speedily than would have been the case a short time
before. The traffic between the coast and Upper Asia was now constant;
the passage of invalided soldiers homeward, and of fresh troops to join
the army, went on without intermission, and consequently the service of
transport had been effectively organized. In about eight weeks Charidemus
reported himself at Pergamos, and took possession of his new command.

Barsiné welcomed him with the liveliest delight, and was never wearied
of his stories of the campaigns through which he had passed. Clearista,
now grown from a girl into a woman—it was nearly four years since the
two first met in the citadel of Halicarnassus—had exchanged the frank
demeanour of childhood for a maidenly reserve. The young soldier, who
had had little experience of women’s ways, was at first disappointed and
disheartened by what seemed her coldness. He knew nothing, of course, of
the intense eagerness with which she had looked out for tidings of him
during these years of absence, of the delight with which she had heard of
his probable return, of the day-dreams of which he was ever the principal
figure. She treated him as a casual acquaintance, but he was her hero,
and not the less so, because, while he was full of striking reminiscences
of the war, it was very difficult to get from him any account of personal
adventure.

Greek courtships were not conducted, as my readers are probably aware,
after English fashion, a fashion which is probably singular, whether we
compare it with the ways of ancient or of modern life. Certainly a Greek
treatise on the subject of “How Men Propose” would have had to be very
brief, for lack of variety. Men proposed, it may be said, invariably to
the parents or guardian of the lady. But it must not be supposed that
then, any more than now, among people where marriage arrangements seem
most rigorously to exclude any notion of choice, there was no previous
understanding between the young people. Cramp and confine it as you will,
human nature is pretty much the same in all times and places.

Charidemus made his suit in due form and to the person whom he was
bound by custom to address, to Barsiné. But he did not make it till
he had satisfied himself, as far as that could be done without actual
words, that the suit would be welcome to the party chiefly interested.
Reserve, however carefully maintained, is not always on its guard; a
look or a word sometimes betrayed a deeper interest than the girl chose
to acknowledge; in short, Charidemus felt hopeful of the result when he
opened his heart to Barsiné, and he was not disappointed.

The marriage was solemnized on the fifth anniversary of the day on which
Alexander had crossed over from Europe into Asia.

[Illustration: THE BANQUET AT MARACANDA.]



CHAPTER XXVII

NEWS FROM THE EAST


The six years that followed were years of quiet, uneventful happiness for
Charidemus and his wife. The governorship of Pergamos was not exactly
a sinecure, but it was not laborious. The garrison duty was of the
slightest. The place was practically safe from attack, even if there had
been any enemies to attack it. The governor’s chief duty was the charge
of a _depôt_, for which the town had been found a convenient situation.
New troops were trained at it; troops who were invalided, or who had
passed their time, were sent there to receive their formal discharge.
These veterans had much to tell of what the army was doing. Of course
plenty of fable was mixed with the fact, the more so as much of the news
came at second or third hand and from very remote regions indeed. A
more regular and reliable source of information were the letters which
Charondas, who had been attached to headquarters, continued to send to
his friend. The two had contrived a system of cypher, and so the Theban
was able to express himself with a freedom which he would not otherwise
have been able to use. Some extracts from these letters I shall give:—

    “ ... So Bessus the murderer has met with his deserts. We
    crossed the Oxus, the most rapid and difficult river that we
    have yet come to. We got over on skins, and lost, I am afraid,
    a good many men and horses. I myself was carried down full
    half a mile before I could get to land, and thought more than
    once that it was all over with me. If Bessus had tried to stop
    us there must have been disaster; but we heard afterwards
    that he had been deserted by his men. Very soon after we
    had crossed the river he was taken. I have no pity for the
    villain; but I could wish that the king had not punished him
    as he did. He had his nostrils and ears cut off. You remember
    how Alexander was moved when he saw those poor mutilated
    wretches at Persepolis, what horror he expressed. And now he
    does the same things himself! But truly he grows more and more
    barbarian in his ways. Listen again to this. We came a few
    days since on our march to a little town that seemed somewhat
    differently built from the others in this country. The people
    came out to greet us. Their dress was partly Greek, partly
    foreign; their tongue Greek but mixed with barbarisms, yet not
    so much but that we readily understood them. Nothing could be
    more liberal than their offers; they were willing to give
    us all they had. The king inquired who they were. They were
    descended, he found—indeed they told the story themselves
    without any hesitation—from the families of the priests of
    Apollo at Branchidæ. These priests had told the secret of where
    their treasures were kept to King Xerxes after his return from
    Greece, and he to reward them, and also we may suppose, to
    save them from the vengeance of their countrymen, had planted
    them in this remote spot, where they had preserved their
    customs and language as well as they could. Now who could have
    imagined that the king should do what he did? He must avenge
    forsooth the honour of Apollo on these remote descendants of
    the men who caused his shrine to be robbed! He drove the poor
    creatures back into their town, drew a cordon of soldiers round
    it, and then sent in a company with orders to massacre every
    man, woman, and child in it. He gave me the command of these
    executioners. I refused it. ‘It is against my vows, my lord,’
    I said. I thought that he would have struck me down where I
    stood. But he held his hand. He is always tender with me, for
    reasons that he has; and since he has been as friendly as ever.
    But what a monstrous deed! Again I say, the barbarian rather
    than the Greek.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “Another awful deed! O my friend, I often wish that I were
    with you in your peaceful retirement. In war the king is as
    magnificent as ever, but at home he becomes daily less and
    less master of himself. Truly he is then as formidable to his
    friends, as he is at other times to his enemies. What I write
    now I saw and heard with my own eyes. At Maracanda[75] there
    was a great banquet—I dread these banquets a hundred-fold more
    than I dread a battle—to which I was invited with some hundred
    other officers. It was in honour of Cleitus, who had been
    appointed that day to the government of Bactria. When the cup
    had gone round pretty often, some of those wretched creatures
    who make it their business to flatter the king—it pains me to
    see how he swallows the flatteries of the very grossest with
    greediness—began to magnify his achievements. He was greater
    than Dionysus, greater than Hercules; no mortal could have done
    such things; it was only to be hoped that the gods would not
    take him till his work was done. If I was sickened to hear such
    talk, what think you I felt when Alexander himself began to
    talk in the same strain. Nothing would satisfy him but that he
    must run down his own father Philip. ‘It was I,’ he said, ‘who
    really won the victory of Chæronea, though Philip would never
    own it. And, after all, what petty things that and all his
    victories are compared to what I have done!’ On this I heard
    Cleitus whisper to his neighbour some lines from Euripides:

        “‘When armies build their trophies o’er the foe,
        Not they who bear the burden of the day,
        But he who leads them reaps alone the praise.’

    “‘What did he say?’ said the king, who guessed that this
    certainly was no flattery. No one answered. Then Cleitus spoke
    out. He, too, had drunk deeply. (What a curse this wine is! Do
    you remember that we heard of people among the Jews who never
    will taste it. Really I sometimes think that they are in the
    right.) He magnified Philip. ‘Whoever may have won the day
    at Chæronea,’ he said, ‘anyhow it was a finer thing than the
    burning of Thebes.’ I saw the king wince at this as if some one
    had struck him. Then turning directly to Alexander, Cleitus
    said, ‘Sir, we are all ready to die for you; but it is hard
    that when you are distributing the prizes of victory, you keep
    the best for those who pass the worst insults on the memory
    of your father.’ Then he went on to declare that Parmenio and
    Philotas were innocent—in fact, I do not know what he said. He
    was fairly beyond himself. The king certainly bore it very well
    for a long time. At last, when Cleitus scoffed at the oracle
    of Ammon—‘I tell you the truth better than your father Ammon
    did,’ were his words—the king’s patience came to an end. He
    jumped from his couch, caught hold of a spear, and would have
    run Cleitus through on the spot had not Ptolemy and Perdiccas
    caught him round the waist and held him back, while Lysimachus
    took away the lance from him. This made him more furious than
    ever. ‘Help, men,’ he cried to the soldiers on guard. ‘They are
    treating me as they treated Darius.’ At that they let go their
    hold. It would have been dangerous to touch him. He ran out
    into the porch and caught a spear from a sentinel. Just then
    Cleitus came out. ‘Who goes there?’ he said. Cleitus gave his
    name. ‘Go to your dear Philip and your dear Parmenio!’ shouted
    the king, and drove the spear into his heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “The king is better again, but he has suffered frightfully.
    Again and again he offered to kill himself. For three days
    and nights he lay upon the ground, and would neither eat nor
    drink. At last his bodyguard fairly forced him to do so. One
    curious reason for the king’s madness I heard. The fatal feast
    was held in honour of the Twin Brethren, and it was one of the
    sacred days of Bacchus! Hence the wrath of the neglected god.
    It is certainly strange how this wrath, be it fact or fancy,
    continues to haunt him.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “Thank the gods we are in the field, and Alexander is himself
    again. Nay, he is more than himself. Sometimes I scarcely
    wonder at the flatterers who say that he is more than man.
    There never was such energy, such skill, so much courage joined
    to so much prudence. His men will follow him anywhere; when he
    heads them they think nothing impossible. Since I last wrote
    he has done what no man has ever done before; he has tamed the
    Scythians. The great Cyrus, you know, met his end at their
    hands; Darius narrowly escaped with his life. And now this
    marvellous man first conquers them and then makes friends of
    them. A week ago he took in a couple of days a place which
    every one pronounced to be impregnable: the ‘Sogdian Rock,’
    they called it. Never before had man entered it except with
    the good will of those who held it. It was a rock some two
    hundred cubits high, rising almost sheer on every side, though,
    of course, when one looked closely at it, there were ledges
    and jutting points on which an expert climber could put his
    foot. The king summoned the barbarians to surrender. If they
    would, he said, they should go away unharmed, and carry all
    their property with them. They laughed at him. ‘If you have
    any soldiers with wings, you should send them,’ they said, ‘we
    are not afraid of any others.’ The same day the king called an
    assembly of the soldiers. ‘You see that rock,’ he said, ‘we
    must have it. The man who first climbs to the top shall have
    twelve talents, the second eleven, the third ten, and so on. I
    give twelve prizes; twelve will be enough.’ That night three
    hundred men started for this strange race. They took their iron
    tent-pegs with them, to drive into the ice or the ground, as
    it might be, and ropes to haul themselves up by. Thirty fell
    and were killed. The rest reached the top, the barbarians not
    having the least idea that the attempt was being made. At dawn
    Alexander sent the herald again. ‘Alexander,’ he said, ‘has
    sent his soldiers with wings, and bids you surrender.’ They
    looked round, and the men were standing on the top. They did
    not so much as strike a single blow for themselves. It is true
    that others did this for the king. But this is the marvel of
    him. Not only does he achieve the impossible himself, but he
    makes others achieve it for him.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “We have fought and won a great battle, greater by far than
    Granīcus, or Issus, or Arbela. We had crossed the Indus—I
    talk, you see, familiarly of rivers of which a year or two
    ago scarcely any one had ever heard the name—and had come to
    the Hydaspes. There a certain Porus, king of the region that
    lies to the eastward of that river,[76] was encamped on the
    opposite bank. Our Indian allies—happily the tribes here have
    the fiercest feuds among themselves—said that he was by far the
    most powerful prince in the whole country. And indeed when
    we came to deal with his army we found it a most formidable
    force, not a few good troops with an enormous multitude of
    helpless creatures who did nothing but block up the way, but
    really well-armed, well-disciplined soldiers. The first thing
    was to get across the river. It was quite clear that Porus was
    not going to let us get over at our own time and in our own
    way, as Darius let us get across the Euphrates and the Tigris.
    You would have admired the magnificent strategy by which
    Alexander managed it. First, he put the enemy off their guard
    by a number of false alarms. Day after day he made feints of
    attempting the passage, till Porus did not think it worth while
    to take any notice of them. Then he gave out that he should
    not really attempt it till the river became fordable, that is,
    quite late in the summer. Meanwhile he was making preparations
    secretly. The place that he pitched upon was about seventeen
    miles above Porus’s camp. The river divides there, flowing
    round a thickly-wooded island. To get to this island—a thing
    which could be done without any trouble—was to get, you see,
    half across the river. We had had a number of large boats for
    the crossing of the Indus. These were taken to pieces, carried
    across the country, and then put together again. Besides these
    there was a vast quantity of bladders. Craterus was left with
    about a third of the army opposite to Porus’s camp. He was to
    make a feint of crossing, and convert it into a real attempt if
    he saw a chance of making good his landing. You see the real
    difficulty was in the enemy’s elephants. Horses will not face
    elephants. If Porus moved his elephants away, then Craterus
    was to make the attempt in earnest. Some other troops were
    posted half way between the camp and the island. These were
    to make another feint. The king himself was going to force a
    passage at all hazards. Then came in his good luck, which is
    really almost as astonishing as his skill. There was a violent
    thunderstorm in the night. In the midst of this, while there
    was so much noise from the thunder and the torrents of rain
    that nothing could be heard on the opposite bank, the king’s
    force got across to the island. Then, by a another stroke of
    good fortune, the rain ceased, and the rest of the crossing was
    finished without having to strike a blow.

    “Meanwhile Porus had heard that something was going on higher
    up the river, and sent a detachment of cavalry under one of
    his sons to defend the bank. It was too late. If they had come
    while we were crossing, they might have made the work very
    difficult. As it was, they were simply crushed by our cavalry.

    “Then we marched on—I had crossed, I should have told you, with
    the king—and about half way to Porus’s camp, found him with
    his army drawn up. Very formidable it looked, I assure you.
    In front of the centre were the elephants. We had never met
    elephants before. Some of our men had never even seen them. I
    think now, after trial of them, that they look a great deal
    worse than they are; but at the time they alarmed me very much.
    How our lines could stand firm against such monsters I could
    not think. On the wings were the chariots, with four horses all
    of them. Each chariot had six men in it, two heavily-armed, two
    archers, and two drivers. The cavalry were posted behind the
    chariots, and the infantry behind the elephants.

    “Alexander began by sending the mounted archers into action,
    by way of clearing the way for himself and his cavalry. The
    archers sent a shower of arrows on the chariots in front of
    the left wing. These were closely packed together, and made
    an excellent mark. Some of the arrows, I observed, fell among
    the cavalry behind them. Meanwhile Alexander, with the _élite_
    of the cavalry, had gained one of their flanks, while Cœnus
    threatened the other. They tried to form a double front.
    While they were making the change, the king fell upon them
    like a thunderbolt. They held their own for a short time; but
    our cavalry was too heavy for them. They fell back upon the
    elephants.

    “Here there was a check. At one time I thought there was going
    to be more than a check. Our horses could not be brought to
    face the great brutes; the horses of the Indians were used to
    them, and moved in and out among them freely. Nor could the
    phalanx stand against them. The long spears were simply brushed
    aside like so many straws when an elephant moved up against the
    line. If their drivers could have kept them under control, it
    must have gone hard with us. But they could not. There are thin
    places in the animal’s skin where it can be easily wounded; and
    when it is wounded it is at least as dangerous to friends as
    to enemies. Only a few of the creatures were killed, but many
    became quite unmanageable. At last, as if by common consent—and
    this was one of the most curious things I had ever seen—such as
    were still serviceable, turned and left the field. They seemed
    to know that they were beaten. Indeed, I have since been told
    that their sagacity is wonderful.

    “Porus was mounted on the largest elephant, and, I suppose,
    the bravest, for it was the last to turn. The king had been
    wounded in several places, and was faint with loss of blood.
    The driver of his elephant was afraid that he would fall, and
    made his beast kneel. Just then Alexander came up; and thinking
    that the king was dead ordered his body to be stripped of the
    arms, which were of very fine workmanship, I may tell you.
    The elephant, when it saw this, caught up its master with its
    trunk, and lifted him to its back, and then began to lay about
    it furiously. It was soon killed, but not till it had done a
    great deal of mischief. King Porus was carried to our camp by
    Alexander’s orders, and attended to by the physicians with the
    greatest care. When he was recovered of his wounds, and this it
    did not take him long to do, for these Indians are amazingly
    healthy people, he was brought before the king. I was there,
    and a more splendidly handsome man, I never saw. ‘How would you
    have me treat you?’ asked Alexander. ‘As a king should treat a
    king,’ was the answer. And so, I hear, it is to be. Porus is to
    be restored to his throne, and a large tract of country is to
    be added to his dominions.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “We have had a great festival of Bacchus. The god himself was
    represented riding on a tiger, which, by the way, was very
    well made up. After the procession there was a competition in
    drinking wine. What marvellous amounts these Indians drank! One
    swallowed twenty-three pints and got the prize. He lived only
    four days afterwards.

       *       *       *       *       *

    “At last we have turned back. We came to a river called the
    Hyphasis, beyond which, our guide told us, there lived Indians
    bigger and stronger than any that we had hitherto seen. All
    this, as you may suppose, fired the king’s fancy, and made
    him more anxious than ever to go on. But the soldiers began
    to murmur. ‘They had gone far enough,’ they said. ‘Was there
    ever to be an end? Were they ever to see their country again?’
    Then Alexander called the men together, and expounded his great
    scheme. I cannot pretend to give you his geography, for I did
    not understand it. But I remember he told us that if we went
    on far enough we should come out somewhere by the Pillars of
    Hercules. His promises were magnificent; and indeed if we were
    to conquer the world, they could not be too big. His speech
    ended, he asked our opinion. Any one that differed from him
    was to express his views freely. This is just what we have
    been learning not to do. In fact, he is less and less able to
    bear free speech. There was a long silence. ‘Speak out,’ the
    king said again and again; but no one rose. At last Cœnus, the
    oldest, you know of the generals, came forward. The substance
    of what he said was this: ‘The more you have done, the more
    bound you are to consider whether you have not done enough. How
    few remain of those who set out with you, you know. Let those
    few enjoy the fruits of their toils and dangers. Splendid those
    fruits are; we were poor, and we are wealthy; we were obscure,
    and we are famous throughout the world. Let us enjoy our wealth
    and our honours at home. And you, sire, are wanted elsewhere,
    in your own kingdom which you left ten years ago, and in Greece
    which your absence has made unquiet. If you wish henceforth to
    lead a new army, to conquer Carthage and the lands that border
    on the Ocean, you will find volunteers in abundance to follow
    you, all the more easily when they shall see us return to enjoy
    in peace all that you have given us.’ The king was greatly
    troubled—that was evident in his face—but he said nothing, and
    dismissed us. The next day he called us together again, and
    briefly said that he should carry out his purpose; we might do
    as we pleased. Then he shut himself up in his tent two days.
    He hoped, I fancy, that the men would yield. As there was no
    sign of any change in their feelings, he gave way, but in his
    own fashion. He ordered sacrifice to be offered as usual. The
    soothsayer reported that the signs were adverse. Then we were
    called together a third time. “The will of the gods,” he said,
    “seems to favour you, not me. Let it be so. We will turn back.”
    You should have heard the shout that the men sent up! Having
    yielded the king did everything with the best grace, behaving
    as if he were as glad to go back as the rest of us.”

[Illustration: THE INDIAN BACCHUS.]

Along with this letter Charidemus received a despatch from the king
requiring his presence at Babylon in a year and a half’s time from the
date of writing.[77]



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE END


Charidemus arrived at Babylon punctually at the time appointed, reaching
it at a date which may be put in our reckoning as early in January, 323.
Alexander had not arrived, but was on his way from Susa.

A week after his arrival he had the pleasure of meeting his Theban
friend, who had been sent on in advance to superintend the final
arrangements for a ceremony which occupied most of the king’s thoughts at
this time, the funeral of Hephaestion. For Hephaestion was dead, killed
by a fever, not very serious in itself, but aggravated by the patient’s
folly and intemperance, and Alexander was resolved to honour him with
obsequies more splendid than had ever before been bestowed on mortal man.
The outlay had already reached ten thousand talents, and at least two
thousand more would have to be spent before the whole scheme was carried
out. And then there were chapels to be built and priesthoods endowed, for
the oracle of Ammon had declared that the dead man might be lawfully
worshipped as a hero, though it had forbidden the divine honours which it
was asked to sanction.

In April the king reached Babylon. The soothsayers had warned him not to
enter the city. He might have heeded their advice but for the advice of
his counsellor, the Greek sophist Anaxarchus, who had permanently secured
his favour by his extravagant flatteries. “The priests of Belus,” he
suggested, “have been embezzling the revenues of the temple, and they
don’t want to have you looking into their affairs.” His stay was brief;
the funeral preparations were not complete, and he started for a voyage
of some weeks among the marshes of the Euphrates, an expedition which
probably did not benefit his health.

In June he returned, and, all being then ready, celebrated the funeral
of his friend with all the pomp and solemnity with which it was possible
to surround it. The beasts offered in sacrifice were enough to furnish
ample meals for the whole army. Every soldier also received a large
allowance of wine. The banquet given to the principal officers was one of
extraordinary magnificence and prolonged even beyond what was usual with
the king.

Two or three days afterwards the two friends were talking over the
disquieting rumours about the king’s health which were beginning to
circulate through the city. They could not fail to remember the curious
prediction which they had heard years before from the lips of Arioch, or
to compare with it the recent warnings of the Babylonian soothsayers.
Charondas, too, had a strange story to tell of Calanus, an Indian sage,
who had accompanied the conqueror in his return from that country. Weary
of life the man had deliberately burnt himself on a funeral pile raised
by his own hands. Before mounting it he had bidden farewell to all his
friends. The king alone he left without any salutation. “My friend,” he
had said, “I shall soon see you again.”

When the friends reached their quarters they found Philip, the
Acarnanian, waiting for them. The physician looked pale and anxious.

“Is the king ill?” they asked with one voice. “Seriously so,” said
Philip, “if what I hear be true.”

“And have you prescribed for him?”

“He has not called me in; nor would he see me, if I were to present
myself. He has ceased to believe in physicians; soothsayers, prophets,
quacks of every kind, have his confidence. Gladly would I go to him,
though indeed a physician carries his life in his hand, if he seeks to
cure our king or his friend. Poor Glaucias did his best for Hephaestion.
But what can be expected when a patient in a fever eats a fowl and drinks
a gallon of wine? Æsculapius himself could not have saved his life. And
then poor Glaucias is crucified because Hephaestion dies. And, mark my
words, the king will go the same way, unless he changes his manners. What
with his own folly and the folly of his friends, there is no chance for
him. You saw what he drank at the funeral banquet. Well, he had the sense
to feel that he had had enough, and was going home, when Medius must
induce him to sup with him, and he drinks as much more. Then comes a day
of heavy sleep and then another supper, at which, I am told, he tried to
drain the great cup of Hercules, and fell back senseless on his couch.
The next morning he could not rise; and to-day, too, he has kept his bed.
But he saw his generals in the afternoon and talked to them about his
plans. I understood from Perdiccas that he seemed weak, but was as clear
in mind as ever. And now, my friends, I should recommend you not to leave
Babylon till this matter is settled one way or another. If Alexander
should die—which the gods forbid—there is no knowing what may happen; and
there is a proverb which I, and I dare say you, have often found to be
true, that the absent always have the worst of it.”

In obedience to this suggestion the two friends remained in Babylon,
waiting anxiously for the development of events. On the second day after
the conversation with Philip, recorded above, Charidemus met the admiral
Nearchus,[78] as he was returning from an interview with the king. “How
is he?” he asked. “I can hardly say,” replied the admiral. “To look at
him, one would say that things were going very badly with him. But his
energy is enormous. He had a long talk with me about the fleet. He knew
everything; he foresaw everything. Sometimes his voice was so low that I
could hardly hear him speak, but he never hesitated for a name or a fact.
I believe that he knows the crew and the armament, and the stores of
every ship in the fleet. And he seems to count on going. We are to start
on the day after to-morrow. But it seems impossible.”

Three days more passed in the same way. The councils of war were still
held, and the king showed the same lively interest in all preparations,
and still talked as if he were intending to take a part himself in the
expedition. Then came a change for the worse. It could no longer be
doubted that the end was near, and the dying man was asked to whom he
bequeathed his kingdom. “To the strongest,” he answered, and a faint
smile played upon his lips as he said it. Afterwards an attendant heard
him muttering to himself, “They will give me fine funeral games.”[79] The
following day the generals came as usual; he knew them, but could not
speak.

And now, human aid being despaired of, a final effort was made to get
help from other powers. The desperately sick were sometimes brought
into the temple of Serapis, the pleasure of the god having been first
ascertained by a deputation of friends who spent the night in the temple.
Accordingly seven of the chief officers of the army inquired of the deity
whether he would that Alexander should be brought into the shrine. “Let
him remain where he is,” was the answer given in some mysterious way; and
the king was left to die in peace.

One thing, however, still remained to be done. The news of the king’s
dangerous illness had spread through the army, and the men came
thronging in tumultuous crowds about the gates of the palace. It was,
too, impossible to quiet them. They would see him; they would know for
themselves how he fared; if he was to be concealed, how could they be
sure that some foul play was not being practised. The murmurs were too
loud and angry, and the murmurers too powerful to be disregarded with
impunity. The officers and a certain number of the soldiers, selected
by their comrades, were to be admitted within the gates and into the
sick chamber itself. It was a strange and pathetic sight. The dying king
sat propped up with pillows on his couch. He had not, indeed, worn and
wasted as were his features, the aspect of death. The fever had given
a brilliance to his eyes and a flush to his cheek that seemed full of
life. And he knew his visitors. He had a truly royal memory for faces,
and there was not one among the long lines of veterans, weeping most of
them with all the abandonment of grief which southern nations permit
themselves, whom he did not recognize. Speak he could not, though now
and then his lips were seen to move, as though there were something that
he was eager to say. When Charondas passed him he seemed to be specially
moved. He bent his head slightly—for he could not beckon with his hands,
long since become powerless—as if he would speak with him. The Theban
bent down and listened intently. He could never afterwards feel sure
whether he had heard a sound or guessed the word from the movements of
the lips, but he always retained an absolute conviction that the king
uttered, or at least formed in his breath, the word “Dionysus.” He had
walked all his days in fear of the anger of the god. Now it had fallen
upon him to the uttermost. Thebes was avenged by Babylon.

That evening the great conqueror died.

       *       *       *       *       *

“There was some truth after all in what Arioch told us,” said Charidemus
to his friend, about a week after the death of the king, “though I have
always felt sure that the spirit which he pretended to consult was a
fraud. But was there not something which concerned ourselves?”

“Yes,” replied Charondas, “I remember the words well. ‘Happy are they who
stand afar off and watch.’ And indeed it scarcely needs a soothsayer to
tell us that.”

“You have heard, I dare say,” said Charidemus, “of what Alexander was
heard to whisper to himself. ‘They will give me fine funeral games.’ Have
you a mind to take part in these same games?”

“Not I,” replied his friend; “two or three of the big men will win great
prizes, I doubt not; but little folk such as you and me will run great
risk of being tripped up. But what are we to do?”

The Macedonian paused a few moments, “I have thought the matter over many
times, and talked it over too with my wife, who has, if you will believe
me, as sound a judgment as any of us. You see that standing out of the
tumult, as I have been doing for the last five years and more, I have
had, perhaps, better opportunities for seeing the matter on all sides.
I always felt that if the king died young—and there was always too much
reason to fear, quite apart from the chances of war, that he would—there
would be a terrible struggle for the succession. No man living, I am
sure, could take up the burden that he bore. Many a year will pass before
the world sees another Alexander; but there will be kingdoms to be carved
out of the empire. That I saw; and then I put to myself the question,
what I should do. It seemed to me that there would be no really safe
resting-place where a man might enjoy his life in peace and quietness
in either Macedonia or Greece. I sometimes thought that there would be
no such place anywhere. And then I recollected a delightful spot where
I spent some of the happiest months of my life, while you were with the
king in Egypt, that inland sea in the country of the Jews. If there is
to be a haven of rest anywhere, it will be there. What say you? are you
willing to leave the world and spend the rest of your days there?”

“Yes,” said the Theban, “on conditions.”

“And what are these conditions?”

“They do not depend upon you, though you may possibly help me to obtain
them.”

The conditions, as my readers may guess, were the consent of Miriam, the
great-grand-daughter of Eleazar of Babylon, to share this retirement, and
the approbation of her kinsfolk. These, not to prolong my story now that
its main interest is over, were obtained without much difficulty. Eleazar
was dead. Had he been alive, it is likely that he would have refused
his consent, for he kept with no little strictness to the exclusive
traditions of his race. His grandson and successor was more liberal, or,
perhaps we should say, more latitudinarian in his views. Charondas bore a
high reputation as a gallant and honourable man; and he had acquired a
large fortune, as any high officer in Alexander’s army could hardly fail
to do, if he was gifted with ordinary prudence. A bag of jewels which
he had brought back from India, and which were estimated as worth four
hundred talents at the least, was one of the things, though it is only
fair to say, not the chief thing that impressed the younger Eleazar in
his favour. Miriam’s consent had virtually been given long before.

Charidemus and his wife had a painful parting with Barsiné. She
recognized the wisdom of their choice; but she refused to share their
retirement. “I must keep my son,” she said, “where his father placed him.
Some day he may be called to succeed him, and his subjects must know
where to find him.”[80]

In the spring of the following year the two households were happily
established in two charming dwellings at the southern end of the Lake
of Galilee. Though the friends never formally adopted the Jewish faith,
they regarded it with such respect that they and their families became
“Proselytes of the gate.”[81] It is needless to tell the story of their
after lives. Let it suffice to say that these were singularly uneventful
and singularly happy.



FOOTNOTES


[1] “Gratior et pulchro veniens in corpore virtus.”

[2] About £20.

[3] Philip, King of Macedonia, who by this time was very nearly master
of Greece, had, it was said, consulted the Delphic oracle as to his
plans, and had received from the priestess an answer which may be thus
Englished:—

    “Craft may be baffled, force may fail,
    The silver spear shall still prevail.”

To the king himself a witticism of similar import was attributed: “I have
never found,” he said, “a citadel impregnable, into which I could send an
ass laden with silver.”

[4] This sentence was that the city of Thebes should be razed to the
ground and all its territory distributed among the allies; that all the
captive Thebans, with a few exceptions, should be sold as slaves; that
all who had escaped might be arrested and put to death wherever they
might be found.

[5] Homer insists on the _beauty_ of Achilles.

    “Nireus from Syma brought three balanced ships,
    Nireus, the fairest man that came to Troy
    Of all the Greeks, _save Peleus’ blameless son_.”

[6] A complete description of the organization of the Macedonian army
would be out of place in a book of this kind. Any reader who may be
anxious to make himself acquainted with the subject will find it treated
with much fulness in Grote’s “History of Greece” (vol. xii. pp. 75-89).
For my purposes a brief outline will suffice. The Macedonian infantry
consisted (1) of the Pezetæri, or Foot Companions, who made up the
phalanx, of which I shall have occasion to say something hereafter; (2)
the Hypaspistæ, _i.e._, “shield-bearers,” originally a bodyguard for
the person of the king, but afterwards, as has been in the case of many
modern armies, our own included, enlarged into a considerable force of
light infantry; (3) irregular troops, javelin-throwers, archers, &c. A
select corps of actual body-guards was chosen out of the Hypaspistæ.
The horse was divided into (1) heavy cavalry, armed with a _xyston_ or
thrusting pike; (2) light cavalry, who carried a lighter weapon. These
may be called Lancers.

[7] On the Hellespont, the nearest point of Europe to Asia.

[8] When Lysander the Spartan was urged to destroy Athens, then at his
mercy, he replied that he could not “put out one of the eyes of Greece!”

[9] The names of the two were Charidemus and Ephialtes. Ephialtes was
killed at the siege of Halicarnassus. Of Charidemus we shall hear again.

[10] As a matter of fact Phocion was born in 401, and was therefore
sixty-seven years old.

[11] He was one of the “Royal Youths.” Q. Curtius gives this description
of this corps: “It was the custom among the Macedonian nobles to hand
over their grown-up sons to the king, for the performance of functions
which differed but little from domestic service. They took it in turns to
pass the night close to the door of the house in which the king slept.
They received the king’s horses from the grooms, and brought them to him
when he was ready to mount. They accompanied him when he hunted, and they
stood close to him in battle. In return, they were carefully instructed
in all the branches of a liberal education. They had the especial
distinction of sitting down to meals with the king. No one but the king
himself was allowed to inflict corporal punishment upon them. This
company was the Macedonian training-ground for generals and officers.”

[12] This soothsayer was Aristander, who was attached to the retinue of
the king, and accompanied him in all his campaigns.

[13] Chœrilus was a notoriously bad poet, to whom Alexander committed the
task of celebrating his achievements, a curious contradiction, Horace
thinks, to the discrimination which he showed in forbidding any one to
paint his portrait except Apelles, or to make a statue of him except
Lysippus. The joke about Chœrilus was that, having agreed to receive
a gold piece for every good verse and a stripe for every bad one, the
balance against him was so heavy that he was beaten to death.

[14] The oracle had declared that the first of the Greeks who should leap
on shore in the expedition against Troy would be slain. Protesilaüs, a
Thessalian prince, unhesitatingly took the doom upon himself, leapt from
his ship and was slain by Hector.

[15] The animal was probably stupefied with drugs. Otherwise it is
difficult to account for its standing still. It was considered a most
disastrous omen when an ox attempted to escape, and the occurrence was
probably rare. It must have happened very frequently unless some such
means had been used to prevent it.

[16] There was even then a fierce dispute about the site of Homer’s Troy.
Curiously enough it has been recently renewed, but the reader need not be
troubled with it either in its ancient or its modern form.

[17] The phalanx was a development due to the military genius of Philip
of Macedon on the tactics adopted by Epaminondas. This great Theban
commander massed his troops in a heavy column which he brought to bear
on one point of the enemy’s line. But the Theban column was powerless to
deal with the phalanx. At Chæronea it was utterly broken by it, all the
front rank soldiers falling on the ground. They were met by an impassable
_chevaux de frise_. Polybius writes (the passage is a fragment of his
twenty-ninth book): “The consul Lucius Æmilius [Paullus] had never seen
a phalanx till he saw it in the army of Perseus on this occasion [the
battle of Pydna]; and he often confessed to some of his friends at Rome
subsequently that he had never beheld anything more alarming and terrible
than the Macedonian phalanx; and yet he had been, if any one ever had,
not only a spectator, but an actor in many battles.” It is interesting to
note that the historian was himself one of the “friends at Rome,” to whom
the great general related this experience. “It is impossible,” he writes
elsewhere, “to confront a charge of the phalanx, so long as it retains
its proper formation and strength.” But he goes on to show that it could
not do this except when it could choose its own ground.

[18] Historians are unusually well agreed about the total of the force
which Alexander carried over into Asia. The highest numbers are 43,000
infantry and 6,500 cavalry; the lowest, 30,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry.

[19] By this phrase are meant the seven nobles who conspired to slay the
Magian usurper, who, after the death of Cambyses, personated the dead
Smerdis, and held the Persian throne for a few months. Darius, one of the
seven, became king, but to his fellow-conspirators and their descendants
certain privileges, as immunity from taxes and free access to the person
of the king, were accorded in perpetuity.

[20] The battle of the Granicus was fought on May 25th.

[21] Parmenio had been in command of the other wing of the army.

[22] A talent, I may remind my readers, was about equivalent to £200; a
drachma to something less than tenpence, a _franc_, it may be said, for
convenience of recollection, though, strictly speaking, the drachma and
the franc stand in the proportions of 39 to 38.

[23] The Taurus range may be said, speaking roughly, to be the eastern
boundary of Lesser Asia.

[24] The legend was that in the reign of this king a lion’s cub was born
in some marvellous way, that an oracle declared that if the creature
were carried round the fortifications of the city they never could be
taken; that it was so carried round, but that when the bearers came to
the citadel, it seemed so absurd that a place so strong could be in any
danger of capture, the king ordered that it should not be carried any
further. But this was the very place which was successfully attacked by
the soldiers of Cyrus, when that king was besieging Crœsus the Lydian in
his capital.

[25] The Princess Ada was one of the five children of Hecatomnus, King of
Caria, who was descended from the famous queen, “the Carian Artemisia,
strong in war,” as Tennyson describes her, who fought at Salamis. It
was the custom of the Carian reigning house (as it was afterwards of
the Ptolemies, the Greek kings of Egypt) for brothers to marry sisters.
Hecatomnus, dying in 379, was succeeded by his son Mausolus and his
daughter Artemisia. Mausolus died in 352, and was succeeded by his widow.
She reigned alone for two years, and was succeeded by Idrieus and Ada,
her father’s second son and second daughter. Idrieus died 344, and Ada
reigned alone, till in 340 she was expelled by her youngest brother,
Pixodarus. The daughter of the usurper was married to a Persian noble
who, on his father-in-law’s death in 335, received Caria as a satrapy.

[26] “First in the large-experienced craft” is the title with which
the writer or transcriber of his epitaph apostrophises him. I say
“transcriber” because the epigram is found in the Greek Anthology as well
as among the remains of Halicarnassus.

[27] In the epitaph on Herodotus, it is said that he left Halicarnassus,
his native town, to “escape from ridicule.”

[28] “Let no one enter who knows not geometry,” was written on the door
of the house in which Plato taught the chosen few. His popular lectures
were addressed to much larger audiences.

[29] These are allusions to the story in the Odyssey. It is “Memnon
the god-like, the goodliest man in the host,” the “son of the Day-dawn
light,” by whom Antilochus was slain. But the story is told by
post-Homeric writers. Dictys Cretensis says, that Memnon came with an
army of Ethiopians and Indians from Caucasus to Troy, that he slew
Antilochus, when that hero tried to rescue his father the aged Nestor,
and that he was himself slain by Achilles.

[30] B.C. 371.

[31] Gibraltar.

[32] This island was Britain, and is so described by the Massilian
geographer Pytheas.

[33] About £400.

[34] Alexander did send such of his troops as were newly married to spend
the winter of 334-3 at home, and made himself exceedingly popular by so
doing.

[35] The _Peplos_ was the sacred robe destined to adorn the statue of the
goddess. It was carried, spread like a sail on a mast, much after the
fashion of the banners used in processions now-a-days. It was embroidered
with figures, the Battle of the Giants, in which Athené was represented
as playing an important part, being one of the chief subjects. The
_Basket-bearers_ were maidens who carried baskets on their heads
containing various sacred things used in the worship. It was necessary
that they should be of unmixed Athenian descent, and the office was
considered a great honour. Their hair was powdered; they carried strings
of figs in their hands, and parasols were held over their heads.

[36] It was about _seventy_ feet.

[37] This was the crushing defeat which led to the capture of Athens and
the termination of the Peloponnesian War.

[38] The Lyceum was a _gymnasium_, _i.e._, a place where athletic
exercises were practised, in the eastern suburb of Athens, with covered
walks round it. In the largest of these, called for distinction’s sake
_The Walk_, Aristotle was accustomed to teach. It was thus that his
school got the name of the “Peripatetics.”

[39] Antipater, who was left in charge of Macedonia and the home
provinces by Alexander when he started on his Asian expedition.

[40] 333 B.C.

[41] It was founded by Sardanapalus (Assur-bani-pal), built, according to
the legend, along with Anchialus, in a single day.

[42] Charidemus, it will be remembered, was one of the Athenians exiled
at the demand of Alexander after the fall of Thebes. He had taken refuge
with Darius.

[43] The modern Thipsach (the _Passage_).

[44] Three thousand talents, equivalent to about £600,000.

[45] At Susa fifty thousand talents, or about £11,500,000, were found; at
Persepolis one hundred and twenty thousand, or £27,600,000; huge sums,
but nevertheless not equal to the amounts held in bullion and coin by the
Banks of England and France.

[46] Since Ahab (about 900 B.C.) had made peace with Benhadad, King
of Syria, on condition that he should have “streets” in Damascus, as
Benhadad’s father had had them in Samaria.

[47] Tyre stood a siege of nearly thirteen years from Nebuchadnezzar’s
army, but was at last compelled to capitulate. “Her prestige and her
commerce dwindled; she was not allowed to rebuild her suburb upon
the mainland (Palæ-tyrus), which remained in ruins till the time of
Alexander; and she lost for a time the leading position among Phœnician
cities, which seems to have passed to Sidon.” (Professor Rawlinson’s
“Phœnicia,” pp. 173-4.)

[48] Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, hurled the young Scamandrius or
Astyanax, son of Hector and Andromaché, from the walls of Troy.

[49] Very possibly this had something to do with the extravagancies of
his later years, when he assumed the Persian dress, lived in Persian
fashion, and even demanded Oriental prostrations from his attendants. The
attempt which he made to combine Macedonian and Persian soldiers in the
phalanx was certainly a part of the same scheme.

[50] This was by the caravan road from Damascus to Egypt. The road
crossed the Jordan at the north of the Lake of Galilee, and then struck
westward across the country till it reached the Maritime Plain. Somewhere
about Joppa a traveller to Jerusalem left the caravan road turning
eastward to make his way up to Jerusalem. The distance would be 136 miles.

[51] According to Herodotus (viii. 97) the work was commenced as a blind
to conceal from the Greeks and from his own people the king’s resolution
to return to Asia, after his defeat at Salamis.

[52] Thirteen years.

[53] This was not, as my readers may fancy, an anticipation of Peter
the Great’s sojourn at Deptford, for the purpose of learning the art
of shipbuilding. Abdalonymus (Abd-Elomin, “servant of the gods”), whom
Hephaestion, acting for Alexander, had made King of Sidon, though
of royal descent, was a working man (“on account of his poverty he
cultivated a garden near the city for a humble remuneration,” says
Curtius), and his son may well have gone to work for his livelihood in
the dockyards of Tyre.

[54] When Tyre was taken the crews of the Sidonian galleys did actually
rescue a number of the inhabitants, who would otherwise have been slain
or sold into captivity.

[55] Herodotus says it was of emerald, but Sir J. G. Wilkinson (in Prof.
Rawlinson’s “Herodotus”) notes that it was doubtless of green glass,
glass having been manufactured in Egypt even thousands of years before
the time of Herodotus.

[56] Nearly two hundred miles.

[57] Democedes was a physician of Crotona, whose services were engaged
by the cities of Ægina and Athens and by Polycrates, Tyrant of Samos,
in succession, at increasing salaries (£344, £406, £487 10s.). He was
taken prisoner in company with Polycrates and sent up to Susa. Here he
remained for a time unnoticed among the king’s slaves. Darius chanced to
sprain his ankle, in leaping from his horse, and the Egyptian physicians
who were called in failed to effect a cure. Some courtier had chanced to
hear that Polycrates had had a famous physician in attendance on him,
and suggested that his advice should be asked. He was brought as he was,
“clothed in rags and clanking his chains,” into the king’s presence.
It was only under threat of torture that he confessed his knowledge of
medicine. But he treated the injury with success, and was amply rewarded,
the king giving him two pairs of golden chains, and each of the royal
wives dipping a saucer into a chest of gold coins and pouring the
contents into his hands so bountifully that the slave who followed him
was enriched by the stray pieces. He afterwards healed Atossa, Darius’s
principal queen, of a dangerous carbuncle. By a stratagem which I have
not space here to describe he got back to his native city, where he
married the daughter of the great athlete Milo, and finally settled.

[58] About £1,220.

[59] Between two and three in the morning.

[60] “Its name,” says Curtius, “is given to it from its rapidity, for
in the Persian tongue Tigris is the word for an arrow” (iv. 9, 16).
The Biblical word Chiddekel or Hiddekel (Genesis ii. 14) is said to be
compounded of two forms _Chid_ or _Hid_, “river,” and _dekel_ an arrow.

[61] Now _Erbil_, a station on the caravan-route between Erzeroum and
Baghdad.

[62] So Arrian says, writing with the two contemporary memoirs of
Alexander’s generals before him. These two were Ptolemy, afterwards King
of Egypt, and Aristobulus, a soldier of considerable repute.

[63] Now called the Great Zab.

[64] Susa was the official capital of the kingdom; Babylon, though fallen
somewhat from its former greatness, was still the largest city. One might
compare them to St. Petersburg and Moscow, but that Moscow is intensely
Russian in feeling, while Babylon was probably strong by Anti-Persian. It
had not forgotten its own independence, an independence which it tried
more than once to assert by arms.

[65] That described in 2 Kings xxiv. 13-16 as having happened in the
eighth year of Jehoiachin (B.C. 602).

[66] It seems probable that Astyages is to be identified with “Darius the
Mede” mentioned in the Book of Daniel as succeeding to the government of
Babylon after the death of Belshazzar.

[67] Five “darics” would be about equal to about £5 10s. The coin got its
name from the first Darius.

[68] The walls of Babylon were built of brick.

[69] Not even by Cortes and his Spaniards in the newly-conquered Mexico,
or by Pizarro in the still richer Peru.

[70] Equal to about eleven millions and a half. Two-thirds were in
uncoined gold and silver; the rest in gold darics. The average stock of
bullion and coin held by the Bank of England is about half as much again.

[71] The phrase is taken from the historian Curtius.

[72] About £150.

[73] We may compare, as a somewhat similar incident in modern times,
the plunder of the Chinese Emperor’s Summer Palace in Pekin in the
Chinese War of 1860. Happily modern feelings forbade the massacre
which accompanied the spoil of Persepolis; but the destruction of the
palace was a distinct act of vengeance on the wanton aggression and the
brutality of the Chinese ruler, who was personally punished by the loss
of his palace, just as the Persians were punished by the destruction of
their metropolis. A famous English poem, Dryden’s “Ode on St. Cecilia’s
Day,” attributes the destruction of Persepolis to a drunken freak of
Alexander; but there is no doubt that it was a deliberate act. Curtius
speaks of it as having been proposed at a council of war, and other
historians mention the unavailing resistance of Parmenio.

[74] Nine o’clock at night. The time of year seems to have been July.

[75] Maracanda is the modern Samarcand.

[76] The kingdom of Porus consisted of the eastern portion of the
Punjaub. The Hydaspes is the Djalan or Jelam, sometimes called Behât.

[77] This may be reckoned to have been midsummer in the year 326 B.C. He
reached Susa in the winter of 324. But the chronology of the latter part
of the campaign is uncertain.

[78] Nearchus had been in command of the fleet which had taken part in
Alexander’s operations in the further East, and he was now about to
command it again in the expedition which was about to be made against
Arabia.

[79] The funeral games would be the wars fought by his successors to
determine who was the “strongest,” named as the legatee of his power. The
prediction was amply fulfilled.

[80] As this child does not come into my story, a few words may be given
to describe his fate. The name given to him was Heracles, Heracles
being the Greek divinity with whom the Tyrian Melkarth was commonly
identified. Brought up by his mother in the retirement described above,
he was mentioned as a possible successor after Alexander’s death. The
proposition met with no favour at the time, but eleven years later his
claims were advanced by Polysperchon, one of the generals who engaged in
the struggle for the fragments of Alexander’s empire. He was persuaded
to leave his retirement, and, as being the only surviving child of the
emperor, seemed likely to become an important person. Cassander, who
had usurped the throne of Macedonia, marched against Polysperchon,
who had the young prince and his mother in his camp, but found his
troops unwilling to act against Alexander’s son. He proceeded to bribe
Polysperchon with the offer of the government of the Peloponnese, if
he would abandon the young man’s cause. Polysperchon caused him to be
murdered, and Barsiné with him.

[81] “The Rabbins distinguish two classes of proselytes, viz.,
_proselytes of righteousness_, who received circumcision, and bound
themselves to keep the whole Mosaic law, and to comply with all the
requirements of Judaism, and _proselytes of the gate_, who dwelt among
the Jews, and although uncircumcised, observed certain specified laws,
especially the seven precepts of Noah (as the Rabbins called them),
_i.e._, against the seven chief sins, idolatry, blasphemy against God,
parricide, unchastity, theft or plundering, rebellion against rulers, and
the use of ‘flesh with the blood thereof.’”

THE END.

    The Gresham Press,
    UNWIN BROTHERS,
    CHILWORTH AND LONDON.



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