"He who would speak false witness," answered Gongylus, with a firmness equal to the Chian's, "can find pearls at whatsoever hour he pleases. Greeks, this man presses me to renew the charge which Pausanias generously sought to stifle. I have said. And I, Governor of Byzantium, call on the Council of the Grecian Leaders to maintain my authority, and protect their own Chief."
Towards the foot of the couch, propped upon cushions piled on the floor, sat Gongylus, conversing in a low, earnest voice, and fixing his eyes steadfastly on the Spartan. The habits of the Eretrian's life, which had brought him in constant contact with the Persians, had infected his very language with the luxuriant extravagance of the East.
"I am not blind," returned Pausanias, appearing unconscious of the irony; "but I am not Argus. If thou hast discovered aught that is hidden from me, speak boldly." "Thou hast made Gongylus, the Eretrian, governor of Byzantium; for what great services we know not. But he has lived much in Persia."
The shears of the Fatal deities hover over the thread not of my life but of thine. I was struck, Gongylus, by this address, for it was neither desperate nor dastardly, as I had anticipated; nevertheless, it beseemed not a Spartan to fly from a Helot, and I drew the sword which my mother had girded on.
Then arose a vexed and perturbed murmur, most of the Ionians siding with Antagoras, such of the allies as yet clung to the Dorian ascendancy grouping round Gongylus. The persistence of Antagoras had made the dilemma of no slight embarrassment to Pausanias. Something lofty in his original nature urged him to shrink from supporting Gongylus in an accusation which he believed untrue.
He knelt to the girl, he kissed the hem of her robe, and for the moment ambition, luxury, pomp, pride fled from his soul, and left there only the grateful tenderness of the man, and the lofty instincts of the hero. But just then was it the evil spirit that sent him? the boughs of the vine were put aside, and Gongylus the Eretrian stood before them.
"I know not; but I presume that when the Persian king knows that the Eretrian is leagued against him with the other Captains of Hellas, he will assign the Satrapies to another." "And is it true that the Persian prisoners, Ariamanes and Datis, have escaped from the custody of Gongylus?" "It is true.
"Yes, Pausanias," resumed Gongylus, "you alone were the cause that drew me from my rest. I would fain be silent, but " "Say on," cried Pausanias fiercely, and measuring the space between himself and Gongylus, in doubt whether the Eretrian's head were within reach of his scimitar; so at least Gongylus interpreted that freezing look of despair and vengeance, and he drew back some paces.
"Has Pausanias entrusted the command of Byzantium to Gongylus the Eretrian, who already holds four provinces under Xerxes?" "He has done so." "Know you the reason for that selection?" "Pausanias says that the Eretrian could not more show his faith to Hellas, than by resigning Eastern satrapies so vast." "Has he resigned them?"
"Before thee," answered Gongylus, and his hand pointed to the ocean. "I see the fleet of the Greeks in the harbour I see the flag of my galley above the forest of their masts. I see detached vessels skimming along the waves hither and thither as in holiday and sport; but discipline slackens where no foe dares to show himself. Eretrian, I see no danger."