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Astyages had said. "What then," said she, "is it now in thy heart to
do?" "Not what Astyages requires," he answered; "no, he may be
madder and more frantic still than he is now, but I will not be the
man to work his will, or lend a helping hand to such a murder as this.
Many things forbid my slaying him. In the first place the boy is my
own kith and kin; and next Astyages is old, and has no son. If then
when he dies the crown should go to his daughter- that daughter
whose child he now wishes to slay by my hand- what remains for me
but danger of the fearfullest kind? For my own safety, indeed, the
child must die; but some one belonging to Astyages must take his life,
not I or mine."
So saying he sent off a messenger to fetch a certain Mitradates,
one of the herdsmen of Astyages, whose pasturages he knew to be the
fittest for his purpose, lying as they did among mountains infested
with wild beasts. This man was married to one of the king's female
slaves, whose Median name was Spaco, which is in Greek Cyno, since
in the Median tongue the word "Spaca" means a bitch. The mountains, on
the skirts of which his cattle grazed, lie to the north of Agbatana,
towards the Euxine. That part of Media which borders on the Saspirians
is an elevated tract, very mountainous, and covered with forests,
while the rest of the Median territory is entirely level ground. On
the arrival of the herdsman, who came at the hasty summons, Harpagus
said to him- "Astyages requires thee to take this child and lay him in
the wildest part of the hills, where he will be sure to die
speedily. And he bade me tell thee, that if thou dost not kill the
boy, but anyhow allowest him to escape, he will put thee to the most
painful of deaths. I myself am appointed to see the child exposed."
The herdsman on hearing this took the child in his arms, and
went back the way he had come till he reached the folds. There,
providentially, his wife, who had been expecting daily to be put to
bed, had just, during the absence of her husband, been delivered of
a child. Both the herdsman and his wife were uneasy on each other's
account, the former fearful because his wife was so near her time, the
woman alarmed because it was a new thing for her husband to be sent
for by Harpagus. When therefore he came into the house upon his
return, his wife, seeing him arrive so unexpectedly, was the first
to speak, and begged to know why Harpagus had sent for him in such a
hurry. "Wife," said he, "when I got to the town I saw and heard such
things as I would to heaven I had never seen such things as I would to
heaven had never happened to our masters. Every one was weeping in
Harpagus's house. It quite frightened me, but I went in. The moment
I stepped inside, what should I see but a baby lying on the floor,
panting and whimpering, and all covered with gold, and wrapped in
clothes of such beautiful colours. Harpagus saw me, and directly
ordered me to take the child my arms and carry him off, and what was I
to do with him, think you? Why, to lay him in the mountains, where the
wild beasts are most plentiful. And he told me it was the king himself
that ordered it to be done, and he threatened me with such dreadful
things if I failed. So I took the child up in my arms, and carried him
along. I thought it might be the son of one of the household slaves. I
did wonder certainly to see the gold and the beautiful baby-clothes,
and I could not think why there was such a weeping in Harpagus's
house. Well, very soon, as I came along, I got at the truth. They sent
a servant with me to show me the way out of the town, and to leave the
baby in my hands; and he told me that the child's mother is the king's
daughter Mandane, and his father Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; and
that the king orders him to be killed; and look, here the child is."
With this the herdsman uncovered the infant, and showed him to his
wife, who, when she saw him, and observed how fine a child and how
beautiful he was, burst into tears, and clinging to the knees of her
husband, besought him on no account to expose the babe; to which he
answered, that it was not possible for him to do otherwise, as
Harpagus would be sure to send persons to see and report to him, and
he was to suffer a most cruel death if he disobeyed. Failing thus in

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