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´╗┐Title: The Coming of the King
Author: Babcock, Bernie
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Coming of the King" ***

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THE COMING OF THE KING


BY

BERNIE BABCOCK



AUTHOR OF

THE SOUL OF ANN RUTLEDGE, ETC.



GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS ---- NEW YORK


Made in the United States of America



COPYRIGHT 1921

THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY



To

THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND



CONTENTS


PROLOGUE--THE CHILD


  Part One
  A. D. 32

CHAPTER

      I  IN THE NET
     II  AT TIBERIAS
    III  UNDER THE FOX'S NOSE
     IV  IN THE VALLEY OF LILIES
      V  HULDAH AND ELIZABETH
     VI  HARD SAYINGS
    VII  LOST--AN ANKLET
   VIII  STRANGE TALES ABE ABOUT
     IX  SWEET IS THE SCAR
      X  I WOULD SEE JESUS
     XI  ON WITH THE DANCE
    XII  ON THE ROOF
   XIII  ORANGE BRANCHES
    XIV  WITH WHAT EYES
     XV  THE DEATH OF LAZARUS
    XVI  HE CALLETH FOR THEE
   XVII  THINK ON THESE THINGS
  XVIII  THOU ART THE KING


  Part Two
  A. D. 33

    XIX  CATACOMBS COMRADES
     XX  THE LITTLE TALLITH
    XXI  ANOTHER PASSOVER
   XXII  BRIDAL CHAMBER TALK
  XXIII  YE GENERATION OF VIPERS
   XXIV  BY THIS WITNESS
    XXV  IN THE GARDEN
   XXVI  CLAUDIA AND PILATE
  XXVII  CAESAR'S FRIEND
 XXVIII  ROSES AND IRIS AND TEARS
   XXIX  SWIFT MESSENGERS
    XXX  CLAUDIA'S DREAM
   XXXI  KING OF THE JEWS
  XXXII  IN THIS SIGN
 XXXIII  I AM



THE COMING OF THE KING


PROLOGUE

THE CHILD

"The fangs of the she-wolf are whetted keen for Galilean flesh and else
the wrath of Jehovah palsy the arm of Rome, Galilean soil will run red
with blood from scourged backs ere the noon of a new day."

The speaker, a slender woman wearing the garb of a peasant, lowered a
water-jar from her shoulder and stood beside the bench of a workman,
who paused at his task to get news from the market place.

"The souls for the cross--are they many?" he asked.

"A score of hundred I hear whispered, but at market place and fountain
the spear of the soldier presseth hard against the ribs of those who
congregate to exchange a word."

The man, who was fashioning a heavy yoke, lifted his bearded face to
that of the woman.  "A score of hundred!" he exclaimed.  "To-morrow's
sun will climb over Tabor to the ring of axes cutting green timber for
twenty hundred crosses!  The mercy of God on the victims!"

"Yea--and to-morrow's sun will set with the breeze of evening wafting
one great groan of agony over the hills and vales of Galilee--one great
sob of lamentation--one great curse on the barbarians of the city on
the Tiber.  And this for no crime save that of poverty!"

"Insurrection," the man corrected.  "The Gaulonite raised, not a
popular revolt, alas.  It is but _insurrection_."

"Insurrection!--and why not insurrection?  The Gaulonite may hang on a
cross until the black winged ravens pick his bones and wild dogs carry
them to desert places, but the Gaulonite speaks the voice of our
fathers for verily, verily, the soil of the earth belongs to God, not
men, and the toiler should eat of the increase of his labor!  Doth not
our toil yield the barley harvest, yet are we not ofttimes hungry?
Doth not our toil make the vine hang heavy in the vineyard, yet do not
our bottles droop empty of wine?  Doth not the substance of our bitter
toiling go to the tax-gatherer?  Aye, Joseph, thou knowest I speak
truly.  It is tax--tax--tax,--land tax, temple tax, poll tax, army tax,
court tax--always tax; and when there is to be a great orgy in the
banquet halls of Rome, or Herod is to give a mighty feast for that
brazen harlot, his brother's wife, are we not reduced to the bran and
vinegar fare of slaves to pay the cost?  A curse on Rome!  A curse on
Herod!"

"Hist, Mary, hist!  Know'st thou not there may be ears listening even
now behind the pomegranate?"

The woman glanced nervously toward the door where a leather curtain
hung.  She crossed the room, lifted the curtain and looked out into the
court.  It was empty save for a group of children.  She returned to the
room and from the wall took several small skin bottles which she placed
by the water-jar.  Then she called, "Jesu!  Jesu!"

In answer a lad of six or eight years appeared from the court.

"Fill the bottles and hang them under the vine where the night breeze
will cool them for the morrow."

When the child had done her bidding he stepped to the door.  "Mother,"
he said, "hear thou?  There is weeping in the home of Jael's father!
Listen!  Hear thou--the children calling--calling?"

The woman went to the door.  She listened a moment and as the wail of a
child sounded over the court she said, "Aye, sore weeping.  Why, Jesu?"

"Jael's father went away yester morning and hath not come again.  A man
saw him with many others driven in chains like cattle.  A stain of
blood was on his face--and he will not come again.  Why did the
soldiers take Jael's father?"

"Hist, child.  Talk not of Jael's father.  Run and play."

      *      *      *      *      *      *

The next morning before the rising sun had climbed above Mount Tabor,
little Jesu with his peasant mother left Nazareth, carrying between
them a new-made yoke.  They had not yet reached the end of the footpath
around the slope of the hill to the highway, when they heard a
heart-sickening moan.

The child stopped suddenly saying, "Something doth suffer?"

The woman took a few steps forward and looked out into the roadway.
Then she too stopped, and with a sharp cry threw her hand across her
eyes.  Having received no answer to his inquiry the child pushed past
her to the highroad.  Then he too gave a cry, half fear, half pain,
saying, "It is the father of Jael--and, mother--_mother_--there is a
_dog_."  And with a scream he dashed into the roadway.  As he did so an
animal slunk across his path and disappeared behind a cactus thicket
hedging a barley field.

The moan gave way to a feeble call as the child appeared.  "Jesu!
Jesu, I thirst!" were the words the parched lips uttered.

Helpless, the man hung crucified.  The cross was not more than four
feet high, all in this wholesale crucifixion being purposely low that
wild dogs and jackals might tear the vitals, the bodies thus exposed
emphasizing the power and cruelty of Rome.  Naked the crucified one
hung, his palms clotted with blood where spikes held them on the green
cross-beam, and the wood behind the body stained dark from thong-cuts
on the back.  His legs lay on the ground.  Flies swarmed wherever there
was blood and the gray face of the victim was yet grayer from dust cast
up by travelers on the roadway.

"Jesu!  Jesu!  Water for my burning tongue!" the man moaned.

"Give him to drink," the woman said in low tones to the child, who
stood before the cross, his large dark eyes fixed on the helpless one
in horror and in pity.  "Give him water and I will watch that none spy
you at the deed.  Hasten!"

The child opened his water-bottle and held it toward the lips of the
man.  Pinioned hands, stiffened shoulders and weakened muscles made the
effort to drink difficult.  Pulling his kerchief from his neck, the
child sopped it with water and held it to the dry lips.

In wavering tones the man, refreshed, said, "Since yester noon have I
hung here.  With the morning came the dog; thrice came he sniffing.
Once, before weakness overcame me, with kicking and fierce screams I
frightened the brute.  Again, a herdsman drove him far across the
field.  And now you come, Jesu.  Ah, that you might tarry until the
numbness creeping over my back where the flies swarm, and into my hands
that have burned, reached my brain, that you might stay until the
darkness of death hides from me the skulking form waiting to rend my
flesh."

"Woman," said the child, raising his dark eyes to his mother's face,
"dost fear to leave me?"

"Yea, my little one, lest seeing thee minister to a malefactor some spy
or guard might take thee."

"And would they take one young like me, who never did Rome harm?"

"All do Rome harm who cry beneath her heel."

"I fear not.  I can hide in the bushes and keep the evil beast away.
And when the road is clear I can wet the dry lips of Jael's father."

The woman hesitated.

"Canst carry the burden alone, woman?" and there was concern in the
child's voice.  "The way is long, the road rough and the yoke a heavy
one."

"The burden is naught save the burden of fear on my heart lest thou
meet harm, my beloved one--my little Jesu!"

"Be not afraid.  Will not the God of our fathers save me from the
soldier's spear as once our father David was saved from the spear of
Saul?  Find me but a stout club with which to keep the bristled dog
from Jael's father."

Throughout the day the child kept watch over the cross and its victim
by the dusty wayside.  There were passers-by, most of them Galileans
muttering curses on the powers that had put him on the cross, but
offering no comfort to the malefactor.  Twice the gaunt dog came nearer
but drew back before the raised club, and with blinking eye and
restless tongue, bided his time.  As the sun dropped behind the trees,
the moaning from the cross grew almost too faint to be heard, and when,
after a long stillness, there came a sharp strange cry from the lips of
the crucified, the child gave a start and then hastened to offer the
wet kerchief.  But before he reached the cross the head had fallen limp
over the bosom, and the feet lay quiet in the roadside dust.

The child spoke.  There was no answer.  He went back to his shelter in
the bushes.  A strange hush seemed to have fallen over the earth.  With
searching eyes he now watched the long road for a sight of his mother.
When he turned his gaze for a moment from the roadway to the cactus
hedge he noticed the watching dog had drawn closer and with fierce
eagerness eyed the limp body on the cross.  Fear now took possession of
the child, and he moved nearer the highway and shuddered as he noticed
that the dog moved nearer also.

When at last his mother came he buried his face in her breast and
sobbed: "His head hangs like a flower broken at the stem.  He can not
lift it, and he thirsts no more for water."

"Peace be to Jael's father," the mother replied, choking back a sob,
"and peace be to thee, my brave little Jesu."

"Nay, I am not brave.  I was afraid--afraid!"

"Nay, nay.  My little Jesu is not afraid of a dog."

"Nay, not a dog.  But after the head of Jael's father fell low,
something seemed reaching out long dark arms to gather me in--in to
Jael's father--and I feared."

The mother pressed the hand of the child in hers.  Reassured by the
warm strong clasp, he smiled as his mother said, "It were but childish
fear.  There is nothing by the roadside reaching dark arms out to you."

"Nay, nothing--nothing, woman," replied the child, laughing at his own
fear, "nothing save the shadow of the cross."



PART ONE

A.D.32


CHAPTER I

IN THE NET

Through the open doorway and latticed window of a peasant's hut, the
sunset colors of a Palestine sky glowed red.  The only occupant of the
room was an aged woman, thin haired and bent, who moved slowly about
preparing the evening meal.  She stopped beside a dingy little oven on
one end of the bed platform, and bending stiffly to the floor gathered
up a few handsful of stubble which she thrust into the fire.  As the
quick flames rose under her kettle she stirred her brew muttering: "Do
not two sparrows go for a farthing and yet have we no flavor for our
sop.  It was not so in the days of our fathers."

Stirring and muttering she did not notice the approach of a young girl
who had entered the room, until an armful of chaff was dropped by the
oven.  With a start she, turned about.

"Sara!" she cried, "thou comest like a thief in the night.  Singing
doth better become thee."

"There is no song in me.  Empty is my stomach, and look you," and she
pointed across the room to a pile of nets beside a wooden bench.
"There are three score rents to mend and the day is done."  She turned
to the doorway and for a moment stood looking out, barefooted, meanly
clad and unkept, yet of comely form and with abundant dark hair falling
around an oval face of more than ordinary beauty.  She sighed and
turned back into the room.

"Thou shalt eat," and the aged woman took bread from the oven and
placed it on a wooden table in the center of the room.  "Sit thee down."

Sara sat down and glanced over the small table.  "Bread and unseasoned
sop!" she exclaimed.

"And water," cheerfully added Grandmother Rachael, as she poured the
contents of a skin bottle into a pitcher.

After the washing of hands from a bowl on a stool at the table side,
the aged woman muttered thanks and the evening meal began.

"It goeth down hard," Sara complained.

"But it was not so in the days of our fathers," her companion reminded
her.  "Then there was plenty and each man sat under his own vine and
fig tree, for by the law of Moses no man was allowed to collect usury,
so sayeth the Rabbi."

Hardly had the meal begun when, unnoticed by either of the women, a
fisherman entered.  His muscular arms were uncovered; the short skirt
of his garment scarce reached his knees.  His heavy dark hair was
pushed back from his forehead and the dying sunset falling over his
swarthy face and neck gave him the appearance of bronze.  He stopped
behind Sara and spoke her name.

"It is the voice of Jael," she cried, looking back.  "My Jael."

"And he hath brought a fish!" Grandmother Rachael exclaimed, laughing.
"The blessing of God on thee, my son Jael.  Sit thee down and sup with
us."

"Thy hospitality exceedeth thy stores," he answered, "yet could I not
swallow food if thy table did groan with milk and honey."

"Thou art not sick?" Sara asked, concern in her voice.

"Nay, and yet have I a fever, the consuming fever of wrath, for again
hath the tax-gatherer been abroad.  Robbed are our tables of fat, milk
and honey; lean are our bellies for food; stripped are our bodies of
covering.  Yet doth the tax ever increase that Herod may add to his
vast stores.  It is tax--tax--tax until at night the waves of the sea
beat against the shore calling 'Tax--tax,' and in the solitary places
the wild dogs bark 'Tax--tax,' and in the homes of the peasant the
children cry for bread while over their roofs the wind calls
'Tax--tax.'"

"It was not so in the days of our fathers," Grandmother Rachael
muttered, beating her palms slowly together.

"Her heart is not without Israel's hope of the coming of the King even
though her lips make much muttering," Sara said, as Jael turned to the
aged woman who again wailed:

"It was not so in the days of our fathers."

"Nay, nor will it ever be so in the days of our fathers' sons," he
answered her.  "Was it for this that Israel was called to be God's
chosen people--this--that they should toil and starve and be spit upon
by heathen dogs?  That they should till the soil and be robbed of the
increase that Herod might buy gold platters in which to serve good Jew
heads to dancing harlots?  It hath been and ever will be among men
struggling for bread, as among dogs fighting over a carcass that the
strong shall overcome the weak.  But our fathers every fifty years took
back the land from the strong and gave it again to the toiler that he
might have a new start.  So shall it be."

While he had been speaking he had dropped the leather curtain hanging
at the door.  Sara lit a lamp.

"And when shall come again the days of our fathers?" Grandmother
Rachael asked.

"When we rise up and wrest from the oppressor our stolen inheritance."

"Aye, but, my Jael, hast thou forgotten the Gaulonite?" Sara asked.
"Did he not with two thousand followers rise up to take back the land?
And were not his followers hanged on two thousand crosses until the
wild dogs of Palestine broke their fast on Jewish flesh?"

Jael had grown excited as Sara questioned him.  He paced the floor.
"Yea," he answered, "yea, did wild dogs feast on Jewish flesh, even the
flesh of thy Jael's father!  Forget not shall I until the stone of my
father's tomb be rolled against my bones, how he was hung where two
roads meet!  Forget will I--nor forgive.  And in the time of Israel's
revenge will my own hands spill blood to settle the debt."

"Sh- sh- sh-" warned Sara.  "Methought I saw the curtain move.  Fear
even now doth catch my heart in its pinching fingers."

"Fear not, my fair Sara," Jael said.  "Could harm befall thee with
Jael, the fisherman, nigh?  Look thou at the strength of my arm and the
keen edge of my tough fishing knife!" and he held forth his shining
blade.

"Not for myself do I feel fear, but for thee.  Thy life would not be
worth a farthing were thy fierce words heard by the dogs of Rome.  Thy
knife is long and keen, but the sword of the enemy is longer--and
methought the curtain moved again."

"Nay, but to stay thy fears I will look."

Jael turned toward the door but had taken only a step when the leather
was thrust aside and two soldiers sprang in.

"Jael!  Thy strong arm!  Thy knife!" Sara cried.

"Give me the knife, dog of a Jew," commanded one of the soldiers,
drawing his sword.  "Give me, else will I strike thy head from thy body
and kick it like offal into the darkness of the night!  Give me," and
he held out his hand.

"Get the knife," was Jael's reply as he flung it through the uncovered
door.

"By the gods!  Now shalt thou come before the bar of justice to answer
the charge of sedition against the mighty Caesar and his king, thy
Herod."

"Nay, no king of mine is that Idumean fox whose brother's wife doth
defile his bed.  Such for Rome, but not for Israel!"

"Dog of a Jew!"

"Swine of a Roman!"

For a moment the two measured glances.  Then Jael was seized on each
side by one of the soldiers, the first spitting in his face with the
question, "Swine of a Roman am I?"

"Yea, verily--son of a she-swine," and Jael blew the contents of his
mouth in the face of the soldier, who struck him across the cheek with
his sword, exclaiming: "This for thy portion to-night, then the cross."

Grandmother Rachael had taken refuge on the oven step and was wringing
her hands and muttering prayers, while Sara was keeping as close as
possible to Jael.

"Have pity, sir," she begged of the soldier when the cross was
mentioned.  "Have pity, he hath done thee no harm."

"Hold your tongue, woman," the soldier replied without looking at her,
"else the cross will be thy portion also."

"And to the cross I choose to go if there my Jael goeth," she replied.

Then the second soldier, casting admiring glances on Sara, said, "She
is a fair maiden; she shall be my spoil."

"Jove Almighty!" exclaimed the other, catching his sword-point in the
front of her bodice and laying it open.  "A fair maiden indeed.  Not
thine, but mine shall she be," and he motioned his fellow soldier to
stand back.

"The God of our fathers strike thee dead!" Jael shouted in wrath.

"The God of thy fathers!  Ha!  Ha!  The God of thy fathers hath no more
power than yonder driveling granny.  By Rome hath the God of thy
fathers been smitten.  To Rome belongs the maiden."

"Of all the spoil," the soldier who had discovered the beauty of Sara
said to his companion, "of all the spoil that hath been taken between
us, you have the larger portion.  I first saw the maiden.  She shall be
mine!"

"Nay, mine--first mine.  Then shall she be yours."

"Lord God Almighty!" Jael cried.  "Is it the name of my Sara your
polluted lips pass back and forth?  Is it the virgin innocence of my
betrothed you would trade between you?  Nay!"

And with a tremendous effort he freed himself and attacked the soldiers
with his naked hands.  In the thick of the conflict, Sara, who had
seized the lamp, went out with it to search for the knife.  In the dark
the struggle continued, but when Sara returned with the knife she found
Jael on the floor with blood running from a wound in the head.  She
screamed, but no attention was paid her until her lover had been
securely enmeshed in the pile of fish nets and thrown upon the wooden
bench.  Then the first soldier, wiping his brow and regaining his
helmet, said, "Now shall I take my own?" and he moved toward Sara.

Turning the point of the fishing knife against her breast she
whispered, "If thou takest me, thou takest me dead."

"'Twas I who first saw her," the second soldier protested, stepping up.

"Hold thy tongue," his companion exclaimed angrily, "else will I tie
thee in the fish net with the Jew.  Art thou ready to go with me?"
turning toward Sara.

"Touch me not!" she commanded, drawing back.

The soldier laughed.  "Touch thee not, when thou hast set my blood
running like fire?  Touch thee not?" and he snatched the knife from her
hand and flung it into the pile of nets, as he said, "Flame doth become
thy cheek and fire thine eye!  Come, nay--thou comest not?  Then will
Jael hang on a cross.  Then will Jael's flayed back draw many stinging
flies.  Then will Jael's moans for water to cool his veins drained dry
of blood, make sweet music.  Then will the smell of Jael's flesh draw
dogs with whetted fangs.  Then--"

"Stop!  Stay!" cried Sara.  "Wilt thou spare Jael?"

"When thou art mine, then Jael shall be spared."

Sara turned to the bench.  "Jael--Jael--Jael," she called, drawing her
long hair across her face.

"Tangle not thy fair tresses.  Soft must they lie across my cheek when
thou art mine.  Come," and the soldier lay hands upon her, but she
shrank away and throwing herself down beside the bench cried:

"Oh, Jael--Jael--save me!"

"Come here," the first soldier called to the second, "thy sword.  A
live Roman is better than a dead Jew.  Why wait we for the cross?"

Turning on her knees before the soldier, Sara caught the upraised sword
saying, "Nay--nay--spare him."

"Wilt thou come with me?"

"Yea--God of my fathers--God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I come!  But
ere I leave my home forever, let me have the blessing of my mother
Rachael.  Stand thou beyond the threshold lest thy presence pollute the
air."

"Thou wouldst be blessed?" and the soldier laughed.  "I await beyond
the threshold," and pushing the other soldier in front of him, he
stepped outside and stood where he could watch the pile of fish nets,
from which came the sound of heavy breathing.

"My blessing," Sara whispered, "_the bitter hemlock_!"

With tears streaming down her withered cheeks while she muttered and
cursed, the aged woman fastened Sara's torn bodice, binding the deadly
herb within easy hand's reach.



CHAPTER II

AT TIBERIAS

A Tyrian merchant-ship manned by three galleys of oarsmen, turned its
high and proudly arched red and gold neck into the harbor of Tiberias.

After the manner of that master builder his father, Herod the Great, in
building Caesarea, Herod Antipas had built Tiberias as a home of luxury
for himself and a fitting tribute to the ruling Caesar.  The great
semicircular harbor reared its colossal pillars in a mighty curve
flanked far out in the sea by massive towers of gray stone.  On a hill
rising gradually from beyond the harbor stood the royal palace of
Antipas, its polished marble gleaming through the tops of palms and the
lace-like green of shittah trees.  Against this background of pillared
stone and shining marble and living green was the shipping in the
harbor.  Hugged against the dock near by was a load of silver from
Tarshish.  Near it was a ship from Caprus bearing copper.  A cargo of
wine from Damascus and a cargo of linen from Egypt rocked side by side;
and a low boat piled with shells of dye fish had just come into port
from the far Peloponnesus, while everywhere ships of different size and
kind from those centers of commercial activity, Tyre and Sidon, were
changing sails and dipping oars.

In the prow of the Tyrian merchant-ship stood Zador Ben Amon, by race
and faith a Jew; by political alignment a Sadducee; by occupation an
importer of precious stones, owner of a number of shops in Jerusalem
where cunning work was done in gold and ivory, and a money-changer in
the Temple.  Zador Ben Amon was returning from a prosperous trip that
had taken him as far as Rome, and having business with Herod Antipas
had sent word of his visit to Tiberias.  It was with a smile he stroked
his perfumed beard as he caught sight of an equipage making its way to
the water-front.  A flock of goats and rams being driven by Arabs
across the wharf, scattered, and to both right and left sailors and
slaves made way for the driver of Herod's horses.

Black as ravens were the horses of Herod Antipas, and shiny as satin.
Their manes and tails hung in closely curled, glossy ringlets and their
heavy harness was thickly studded with polished gold buttons.  The
glossy black hair of Antipas was also curled, and the crown-like
head-gear he wore was thickly studded with jewels, as was also the
richly gold embroidered border of his robe.  In his ears he wore rings
which swung down against the upper edge of his curled and greased beard.

The greeting between Antipas and the money-changer was cordial; and
before they went to the palace, Zador Ben Amon was driven about the
city to see the stadium, the new theatre, the streets and the
underground watercourses.  And he was taken to the famous hot baths a
mile down the seaside, considered by Romans one of the great
curiosities of the world.  It was in the feast room Zador made known
his business, and yet, not until some discussion of other matters had
taken place, beginning with a description of a Roman banquet at which
the Jew had been a guest.

"The table at which we sat was of citron wood from Mauritania, more
precious than gold.  And it was covered with a plateau of massive
silver weighing five hundred pounds--five hundred pounds, mind you,
chased and carven.  Dost thou marvel that I made friends with the
Romans?"

"Thou art wise, Son of Amon," Antipas answered.

"After the feast, young slave girls strewed the mosaic with sawdust
dyed saffron and vermilion, mixed with sparkling powder, and naked
virgins danced--_naked_ virgins!"

Herod Antipas rubbed his palms and smiled, showing the tips of several
sharp teeth.

"And the next day," continued the guest, "we went to the circus and
waved our ribbon-decked palms while half a score of combatants were
dragged to the spoilarium and carted through the Gate of Death.  A
bloody sport, but they enjoy it, and gladiators are plenty.  Gorgeous
the shows of Rome; like the waters of the Tiber doth her wine flow, and
her gold is like the stars for plenty."

"And the populace, doth it not mutter even as our own?"

"Into the feast halls comes no mention of the populace.  Yet it hath
been said they stand about trembling lest they starve because of the
delay of an Alexandrian corn ship.  But what of the populace?  Whether
her hordes be corn fed or not corn fed, Rome careth not.  What souls
have these?"

"It is the naked virgins that possess souls," and Antipas showed his
pointed teeth a little more.

"Nay, it is the naked virgins that set souls on fire," Zador Ben Amon
corrected.

"Rome hath not all the naked virgins that do dance.  Antipas hath had a
dance for his wife's sake."  With this remark his sharp-toothed smile
gave way to laughter.

"Which wife?" Zador asked.

"Herodias, sister of Agrippa the Great.  Her Salome danced until like
fire my blood chased itself into a fever.  Then did I tell her to name
her price.  And the price was none other than the head of John--John
Baptist, who for defiling the name of Antipas' wife had been put in a
dungeon under the castle of Machaerus.  Antipas is not cursed with
poverty.  Yet are there prices too great, for since the head of the
brawler came blinking on a platter, do the people declare he were
Elias, and that he is not dead but walks the dungeon by day and whither
he will by night."

"Thou shouldst be a Sadducee and declare against a hereafter.  They
eat, drink and be merry while the Pharisees speak darkly of a hereafter
of which they know nothing, and beget fear of ghosts."

"Yea, but in the hearts of the people great hope of a hereafter is ever
alive.  This do the Pharisees know and teach."

"The Pharisees are hypocrites.  But let us to business for it meaneth
more stores of gold to Antipas and Zador."

The Idumean leaned forward with his eyes on the Jew.  "Speak on," he
said.

"There is a reason Rome ruleth the world.  She knoweth how.  In the
Senate are the laws made.  By the sword of her vast army are they
enforced.  And lest insurrection be plotted against the throne of the
Caesars, Rome hath a system of spies sufficient to hear a whisper in
the bowels of the earth.  It hath not been so determined, but it is
suspected that there is some sort of a union of toilers.  Such
societies would be like a worm in the heart to our profits, Antipas."

"Fear not such worms.  Some wild dream is this--that those who toil
bind themselves together.  Ever do cattle contend among themselves and
not unite."

"It hath been done.  What hath been done by slaves and men, might be
done again.  It hath not yet outlived the memory of man how the slaves
in the Laurian silver mines arose, killed their guards, took the
citadel of Sunium to sleep in, raided the armory for weapons and laid
Attica waste for a great season.  Nor was it because they were not well
enslaved.  Naked did their men and women toil under the lash.  Yet they
became as one man and, at the word, rose as one man.  And was it not in
Macedonia at the gold mines of Pangaetus that another bloody uprising
took place at vast cost to the gold industry because they rose as a
man?  Suppose you, that the silversmiths, gold-gilders, pearl and ivory
and filigree workers should secretly band themselves together, hast
thou knowledge to compute the loss to my profit?"

Herod Antipas had covered his sharp teeth with his lip and was
listening intently to Zador Ben Amon.

"Would it mean naught to thee if in thine own province thy hewers of
stone and builders of ships, thy tent-makers and herdsmen and corn
growers should secretly unite and rise against thee?"

"Thy words sink deep," Antipas said, taking up his cup.  Finding it
empty, he looked behind him.  The stewart who had been standing there
had gone out.  "More wine!" Antipas shouted.  "And keep thee by the
cups," he gave order as the stewart came hastily in.  Antipas and his
guest drank freely.  Then the Jew spoke again.

"Here is Herod Antipas," he said, holding up his left hand and marking
its first finger with the stubby forefinger of his right hand.  "And
here is Pilate, Procurator of Judea, and here is the High Priest of the
House of Annas.  And the three have much gold.  But between them hath
Annas the greater portion.  From the tax on all the world getteth
Pilate his.  From Galilean tax getteth Antipas his, but from the Temple
getteth Annas his through the hands of Caiaphas.  The tribute money
from all the earth, the Sanctuary half shekel and the Temple Bazaars
and money-changers bring riches untold to Annas.  Did not Crassus when
he went out against the Parthians carry from the Temple gold uncounted?
Did Pompey not take one hundred million of shekels in gold beside the
beams of gold hidden in the hollow wood?"

"Yea, much fine gold," Antipas replied.  "But thou art thyself a
money-changer in the Temple, and its riches cometh to thy hands also."

"Thou dost not know Annas.  Bled I am of my lawful profits else another
get my place.  Annas is all powerful.  Yet have I a plan."

"What planneth thou?" and Antipas leaned across the table with eager
eyes on the Jew.

"Let these three mighty ones--Herod of Tiberias, Zador Ben Amon of
Jerusalem and Pilate of Rome--form a secret union for their profit and
for breaking the power of Annas.  What thinkest thou of such a union?"

"Thou art the son of a fool," and Antipas straightened up stiffly.

"A fool thou sayest?  And wherefore?" Zador Ben Amon asked, somewhat
confused by the sudden change in the attitude of his host.

Antipas leaned forward.  His lips were securely drawn over the points
of his teeth.  His eyes, somewhat watery from much drinking, looked
with anger into the steady eye of Zador.  "Pilate," he began, "doth
come riding to the Passover in a gold inlaid ivory chariot and with
royal lictors, and in the Palace of Herod the Great doth he revel.  Who
builded this palace?  What man should be seated on its throne?"  He
paused and held out his cup to the stewart who filled it afresh.  "Who
was the friend of Cleopatra and Anthony?  Was it not Herod the Great,
father of Antipas?  Who went to Rome in a three-decked ship he builded,
was taken to the Roman Senate and made King of the Jews?  Was it not
the father of Antipas?  Who builded Caesarea at the fountains of
Jordan?  Who builded the Temple, the arches, the monuments, the
streets, the aqueducts, the walls, the towers and the Palace of Herod
the Great, King of the Jews?  Was it not Herod the Great, father of
Antipas?  And when he had died and the worms eaten him who was given
command of the Tower of Antonio?  Into whose hands was the Palace of
Herod the Great given?  Who is this Pilate--impostor of a Roman?  Is he
not the son of a heathen of Seville?  Was not his father Marcus Pontius
who deserted his countrymen when Rome made conquest in his land?  Was
he not rewarded for his treachery with the sharp-edged pilatus which
gave to him the new name 'Pilate'?  Did not the son of this heathen dog
follow Germanicus and through him creep in among the Romans of high
estate?  Did he not wed Claudia Procula, granddaughter of Augustus?
And shortly thereafter was he not made Procurator at Jerusalem?  Who
should sit in state in Herod's palace in Jerusalem?  Antipas, son of
the King of the Jews, who builded it, or Pilate who would grind him
beneath his clanking Roman heel?  And wouldst thou have me to form
union with _this_?"

With flushed face Antipas paused to get breath.  "More wine!" he
called.  He drained the cup and throwing it across the table, arose and
walked the length of the room and back with heavy strides.  Then he sat
down and pounded the table shouting, "Hear, oh, Zador Ben Amon! not
until the desire of Pilate be the desire of the son of Herod the Great
shall Antipas and Pilate come together!  Dost thou understand?  Like
fleas on a dog these secret societies thou fearest may vex Rome.  That
is Rome's grievance.  In Galilee know they better for the Gaulonite is
yet remembered.  Yet will I comb the province clean with teeth of steel
that not one breaching insurrection may escape."

Antipas was trembling with rage.  Zador Ben Amon saw that he had done
little less than insult his host by his untimely suggestion about
Pilate.

"Let not the peace of Antipas be disturbed by the power of Pilate in
Jerusalem," he said quietly, moving nearer Antipas.  "Like the mist of
the morning his days pass, and what man knoweth who shall be Procurator
then?"

"What meanest thou?" and the Tetrarch leaned forward with returning
interest.

"We must be alone."

Antipas turned around to his stewart.  "Begone!" he commanded.  When
the door had closed behind him, Zador's host with burning eyes
whispered, "A plot?  Hast thou heard in Rome of a plot against the life
of Pilate?"

"Whether plot I know not.  But by evil omens is the day marked for him,
deadly as the Ides of March."

"Evil omens?  From an oracle?"

"From an oracle under the wings of a raven and bat.  Came the omen from
the entrails of a falcon which, when spread before the oracle, did lift
themselves one against the other.  Then did they tremble without touch
of hand and did wrap themselves in a knot and struggle together until
they did burst asunder.  And from that which was hidden therein came
forth the hind foot of a hare."

"The meaning thereof?" and Antipas waited.

"That which be hidden is no Roman.  That which hideth it shall meet
death by strangulation.  Then shall that which hath been swallowed come
forth to run a swift race."

Antipas reflected a moment.  His anger was leaving him, but the tips of
his teeth were not yet showing.

Zador Ben Amon turned to his cloak and from a wallet took out three
leather cases, two of which he opened and placed on the table.  The
first contained a ring, the second a frontlet.  "Of so excellent a
nature hath been thy entertainment," said the Jew, "thou makest me to
forget my gifts," and taking up the frontlet he handed it to Antipas.
"This is a gift for the High Priest.  Look thou at the filigree work
around the amethyst, and the hyacinth color of the ribbon."

Antipas took it and Zador noticed that his fingers seemed to stick as
he relinquished his hold.

"And this," Zador took the ring, "hath been made by workers of rare
skill.  Its jaspers came from far India.  This is for Herod Antipas
from his friend Zador Ben Amon," and he handed it to Herod.

The keen edge of the sharp teeth now came into view for a smile of long
duration.  When the ring had been duly admired, Antipas glanced at the
third leather case.  Zador opened it and drew forth an anklet which
Antipas reached for.  Slipping it over the fingers of his hand he held
it up, and after examining its jewels, he shook it until it tinkled,
and enjoyed it as a child enjoys a toy.  When he had played with it a
few moments he lifted his eyes to the Jew and studied him.  "Thy desire
is buried well under thy itch for gain," he said.  "Yet do I now
remember the eye of the money-changer when he spoke of the naked
virgins."

"Is a money-changer not as other men?"

"With his two eyes ever set on gold and his ten fingers ever counting
treasure, what eye or finger touch hath he left for woman?  Is this for
the profit of thy purse or the pleasure of the flesh?"

"It is a betrothal gift."

"Thou sayest!  Beware an Asmonean princess!" and Antipas smiled broadly.

"A princess of Israel she is.  I saw her in the shop of a Jerusalem
silk dealer named Joel who will wed her sister.  Her hair is fine as
webs spun at night.  She hath arms and a bosom her veil did but half
conceal.  So was I stirred into loving her.  Her brother liveth at
Bethany where she too abides and there have I been.  Fair she is and
not upper-minded, and I go to make her my betrothed."

"And doth this fit?"  Taking the circlet from his fingers Antipas put
it on his wrist and shoved it as far up on his hair-grown arm as it
would go.  He then placed his broad hand on the table and gave an
imitation of a woman walking.  Both men roared with laughter as the
hairy leg skipped and danced and hobbled while the bangles tinkled
merrily.

"Thou art a keen Jew, my friend," Antipas said.  "Thou tellest not the
name of the woman.  If she shall scorn thy gift then canst thou give it
to another for, ever there are women whose softness can be thine for a
jeweled trinket."  And with a broad showing of sharp teeth, Herod
Antipas removed the anklet from his arm and handed it back to Zador Ben
Amon.



CHAPTER III

UNDER THE FOX'S NOSE

Behind the well guarded doors of a mud plastered house not far from the
shores of Genassaret, a small company of Galilean peasants and
fishermen had gathered to meet a _kurios_[1] from a Phoenician
_thiasos_,[2] who was making a pilgrimage to gather information and
organize societies.  When introduced to the little group, the _kurios_
said, "I see the table spread for the supper.  Around such a table have
I sat in Greece and Asia Minor as well as in Italy.  Great is its power
of breaking down the hatred between races and of making strong the
spirit of the Brotherhood.  In every land, though customs are not the
same and the tongues are strange, yet do those who enter in know the
bath of acceptance; the common table; the common treasury; love of the
living; care for the dead; hope for the future; worship of a divinity
and belief that a Savior cometh.  Long hath it come to the ears of the
_thiasos_ how Galilee doth suffer.  By the sword hath not a whole
village of thy race been taken?  Were not thy men shackled and thy
maidens ravished?  And ye who remain, art thou not taxed to the death?"

The words were spoken in low tones, yet there was a strange force in
them.  The speaker bent forward and the index finger he pointed at his
hearers seemed to have been thrust suddenly from between his eyes.
When the sleeve of his mantle fell back it disclosed upon his arm a
fish, having a lion's head with a circle in its mouth.

"To gather news of thy distress, that is not hear-say, and to learn of
thy hope, if hope thou hast, have I come.  Speak on."

There was a moment of silence.  Then a peasant stepped forward.

"Look thou!" and he threw back his skirt.  "See thou these grievous
wounds?  I was set upon at the thrashing floor by a band of ruffians
who demanded my wheat.  And when I did say, 'Nay,' they did beat me,
take the wheat and cast me into the chaff to die.  And it hath since
come to me that these ruffians are none other than servants of Annas,
High Priest, who go about to pillage and destroy.  Is it not so?" and
turning to one side he lay hold of another man's arm.  "Here is Herod's
stewart.  Hear him."

"Are the doors well barred and the court guards alert?" the stewart
questioned.  "Are there watchmen on the housetop?  Herod hath said he
will comb Galilee with teeth of steel for such as this.  Yea, one
wounded and robbed brother hath spoken truly.  Nor is this the worst.
The Sicarii, those murderers that do so grievously afflict the whole
province, these too ply their bloody business at the hands of Herod and
Annas.  For no sooner have the pirates been caught than they give over
to Herod and Annas their booty except a small stipend.  Then are these
murderers turned loose to get yet more booty for the accursed
bloodsuckers called priests and kings.  Am I not of the household of
Herod?  Do I not know of these things?  And of virgins despoiled do I
not know?"

"Yea, yea--thou knowest!"  The answer came sharply from a young
fisherman whose head was bound in a faded red turban and who carried
one arm in a sling.

"Yea!  Yea!" cried several other voices.  "Let Jael speak!"

"Oh, that Jael _might_ speak!" he answered fiercely.  "That Jael
_might_ find tongue to curse those thrice accursed heathen who but
three days ago stole from him the maiden Sara.  Oh, that he _might_
find words to speak her fate, for rather than be polluted by the
serpent touch of Belial, took she the bitter hemlock!  Oh, that Jael
could know where her body lieth that a pile of stones might cover it
from open corruption!  Behold--" and from his breast he took a cord
with a bit of cloth attached, which he held up.  "Behold all that Jael
the fisherman hath left of his betrothed--a little _tallith_ found upon
the floor where she had struggled!  And look!  Look, thou!" and he
snatched from his head the dull red cloth which had bound an angry
wound and waved it with savage swiftness before the _kurios_.  "Behold
all that is left of the father of Jael, the fisherman who followed the
call of the Gaulonite to liberty from oppression, nor was the head that
once this covering clung to, allowed its right to rot in a decent tomb.
What hast thou of help to offer the oppressed?" and with a sudden twist
he wrapped the cloth about his outstretched hand and held it toward the
_kurios_.

In a well controlled voice strongly contrasting with that of Jael, the
answer came.  "If thou didst know the meaning of that which once didst
bind thy father's head, then would thy question have its answer.  If
thou didst know the tongue the colors speak, the eyes of thy
understanding would be open.  The white of the gens families and the
priests, hath it not from the hidden past meant 'washed' and 'set
apart' from the soil of the world?  And what is red the color of the
toiler since those flaming deities, Ceres and Minerva, first presided
over their destinies?  Who first gave homage to the crimson of the
rising sun?  Kath it not ever been he who labors?  Whose strength
bringeth forth the wheat and wine that maketh the red blood of mankind?
Cometh it not of the toiler?  Is it not told in ancient song that those
of white robes dwell on thrones of gold in Mount Olympus while their
vaulted dome doth rest on the shoulders of the slaves and humble, whose
red robes have grown dun and murk and brown with soil and toil?  Verily
there are blood makers and devourers of that blood.  Thy father, Jael
the fisherman, didst know that the way of hope is the way of
Brotherhood.  So did he bind himself with others.  The hand of Rome
destroyed him.  Yet the way of Brotherhood liveth."

A woman had entered the room as he spoke.  She hastily put some cups on
the table and then, in a voice vibrant with gladness, she repeated the
words, "The way of Brotherhood," and lifting her hands high, palms
upward, exclaimed, "My soul doth magnify the Lord!"

All eyes were turned to her.  A beautiful woman she was about whose
face, which shone as if fresh from a glory bath, silvery threads shone
like a dim halo.  Her fine dark eyes were lit with radiant brightness.

"James," she said addressing the master of the abode, "canst thou not
see--canst thou not hear thy brother as he read from the Word when
first he taught?  Hear him; 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon _me_.  He
hath anointed _me_ to preach the gospel to the poor.  He hath sent _me_
to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to captives, to set
at liberty them that are bruised.'  Hath not the Spirit of the Lord
been upon him as he doth teach the way of Brotherhood and pray that
this kingdom may come on earth?  Yet he hath not spoken of a red
banner."

"The kingdom he would set up," said a man of gentle voice and spiritual
countenance who had not yet spoken, "cometh not with swords and
banners, for hath he not said 'They that lift the sword shall perish by
the sword?'  There is a better way of Brotherhood.  It cometh by the
law that he doth teach."

"And what is the law of this, thy teacher that would bring
Brotherhood?" and there was interest in the voice of the _kurios_ as he
asked the question.

"There is but one law.  On it hangeth all law and all prophecy.  Verily
a new law it is so that no more forever shall an eye be given for an
eye or one sword-thrust for another, for God is love."

"Love?  No longer a sword for a sword?  Thou dost speak a strange
language!  Shall naught be paid to robbers and murderers and despoilers
of women but _love_?  Yet until the time of the great Brotherhood, vain
is the sword, for while the oppressed do rise here and there in small
revolt, swift and terrible is their cutting down.  Slow grows the
Brotherhood.  Yet since the mighty Solomon did weld into one whole his
stone-cutters and builders, hath those of like kind in toil and poverty
come together; fruit sellers, wool carders, perfume makers,
fortune-tellers, linen weavers, patch workers, wash women, dyers, image
makers, ivory carvers, bridge builders, poets and singers, dwarfsmiths,
sea-farers, wonder workers, hunters for the amphitheatre, brothel
keepers, all these and many others shall be gathered into one great
society and in that day--"  The words of the _kurios_ were stopped
suddenly by the sound of three quick knocks on the roof over their
heads.

"The enemy is upon us!" James exclaimed.  "Mary, bring the roast kid
with great haste!  Let every man be gathered about the table ready for
a feast--and be merry."

A steaming kid was hurriedly brought and the men moved quickly to their
places except Jael, who stepped behind the door and drew from his
mantle, his long keen knife.  When the soldiers entered shortly, with
steps as stealthy as those of a cat, he moved out where their faces
might be seen and scanned them swiftly, concealing his knife under his
skirt.

"What goeth on?" one soldier shouted, while the other walked across the
room and looked into the kitchen.

"I have a guest," James replied.  "A kinsman whose father is my
father's father.  With him we feast."

"Feast?" and the soldier turned his attention to the table.  "They do
feast!  Ha!  Ha!  Come hither."

The second soldier came, saying, "A banquet they give--Ho!  Ho!  For a
better one would I take me to the stables of Herod."

"A kid have they that shineth with grease."

"Is it a kid?  Methought it a sparrow."

"By its size, its bones will but breed a quarrel."

"Let us be keepers of the peace--for this hath Herod not appointed us?"
and lifting his sword he brought it down on the roast kid severing it
in two halves.  "A sharp blade cutteth clean!"

"And a stiff leg maketh a good handle."  And with the words each
soldier seized with his left hand a half of the kid which he fell
greedily upon, while holding his sword aloft in his right hand.  With
hungry teeth the soldiers tore the flesh from the bones, spewing such
as they did not want on to the floor, and devouring the tender, until
their cheeks shone like ruddy apples and their beards were drabbled
with gravy.  Then they dropped the remains on the floor and with their
boot toes rubbed them over the mud that had dropped from their heels.
When the flesh was well covered with filth, the two halves of the
carcass were lifted by the sword point and flung back on the table with
the words, "A feast they would have!"  The soldiers cast their eyes
over the angry but silent company, and broke into roars of laughter.

"A flock of sacred goats!" one said.

"Nay--by the stink of them, fish long rotten.  Let us go hence!  Ugh!"
and pinching their noses, the soldiers left the abode.

There was silence in the room for a moment before the _kurios_ said in
low tones, holding his hand toward the door to enjoin caution, "What
think ye, men of Galilee--needest thou a Brotherhood?"

"Yea--yea," came like a growl from the throats of the company.

"And who wilt thy leader be?"

All eyes were turned to James as his name was spoken.

"This night hast thou seen the fruit of the tree of oppression.  What
sayest thou?"

With the light of indignation in his eye and the tremor of wrath in his
voice, the master of the house said, "In the words of one greater than
I, 'Let the ax be laid at the roots of the tree.'  And this also do I
say, Go to, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall
come upon you!  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments
moth-eaten!  Your gold and silver is cankered and the rust of them
shall be a witness against you and shall eat your flesh as it were
fire.  Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days!  Behold!
The hire of the laborers who have reaped down thy fields, which you
kept back by fraud, crieth, and the cries of them which have reaped
have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth!  Ye have lived in
pleasure on the earth and been wanton!  Ye have nourished thy hearts as
in a day of slaughter!  Ye have condemned and killed the just!"  Then
addressing his words more closely to those about the table he said, "Be
patient, therefore, brethern, unto the coming of the Lord.  Be patient,
for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh--draweth nigh."

The Hallelujah, "My soul doth magnify the Lord!" broke the stillness
that had fallen after the words of James.  All eyes were turned again
to the woman who had spoken once before.

  "He hath put down the mighty from their seats;
  And exalted them of low degree:
  He hath filled the hungry with good things,
  And the rich hath he sent away empty."


As she stood with face aglow and arms extended, a strange pervading
hush filled the room.  Her voice, while mellow with sweetness and glad
as a song yet had a depth that betokened mysterious strength.

"Who is this," the _kurios_ asked, "that seeth what is to be while it
is yet forming in the womb of pain?  Who is this that shouteth victory
before it hath been brought forth?"

"The woman speaketh of her son who hath come to establish the Kingdom,"
James answered.  "And her soul doth greatly magnify the Lord."

"Who is her son?" and there was keen interest in the question.

"A Galilean even as we, and son of a carpenter.  But he doth many
mighty works and his heart turneth to the lowly.  Jesus his name."

"I would see this Jesus.  Where is he?"

"He hath gone apart into a mountain to pray, as is his custom.  But
tarry thou among us until he come, for of a truth he speaketh as never
man hath spoken."

"I tarry," answered the _kurios_.



[1] Lord and contract maker of ancient working man's society.

[2] One of several names of ancient working man's society.



CHAPTER IV

IN THE VALLEY OF LILIES

Thanks to the untiring labor of Martha and her slow-moving servant Eli,
the house of her brother Lazarus of Bethany was set in order three days
before the expected arrival of Passover guests.  Followed by Eli, who
was girt about with a long towel, Martha made a last survey of the
large and well furnished living-room, looking for a truant speck of
dust.  She paused for a moment at a table containing writing materials
and bade the servant wipe it carefully and place it, with a case of
scrolls, at one end of the wide, latticed window-couch, for here on the
comfortable cushions Lazarus spent much time reading.  She had just
turned from the window-seat to a watering jar of fresh palm leaves when
from the open way leading into the garden, two maidens entered.

"Martha," the first to enter said, laughing, "my guest Debora from
Capernaum hath already arrived and I have brought her to see Mary's
beds of lilies.  Where is Mary?  I saw her not in the garden," and she
glanced about the room.

When greetings had been exchanged, Martha bade the man-servant go into
the garden and look at the dial while she polished the already glossy
palms.  To Anna she said, "Thou knowest Mary.  Was ever there another
such Mary?  Look you at these palms.  Is it not enough that the garden
be full to overflowing with vines and herbs?  Yet would Mary fill the
house with flowers of the wayside did I not struggle against it.  Even
now is she wandering off to a valley of lilies she hath found by the
wady beyond Olivet, searching a strange lily for her beds.  Ere the
threefold blast of the Temple Priests awoke Jerusalem, were her eyes
open.  And look you at the sun mark on the dial, and yet Mary, dreamer
of gardens and lilies and sweet odors, hath not yet returned."

"Nay--call not Mary a dreamer," Anna protested, "for names that are
once given stick.  Call they not my father 'Simon the Leper' for no
reason than that in his youth he had an issue of blood?  And while the
world knows that his home could not be among the clean were he a leper
yet doth the name hang to him.  To fasten on her the title of 'dreamer'
might lose Mary a good husband, for who wants a dreamer when the
sparrow pie is burning to the pot?"

"Such is Mary, yet would I not spoil her chance of a husband though it
be left for me to look after food and the pots and my stupid Eli.  And
if such a chance as Zador Ben Amon should be hers--would not my heart
rejoice?"

"Hath he spoken to Lazarus for her hand?"

"Nay, nor hath he supped with us for many months, nor even sent a
message."

"Hath Mary's heart been heavy?"

"Nay, Mary hath not had time to grow heavy-hearted, for since the
winter gave place to spring hath she been in the garden searching a
warm spot for some chicken yet wet from the shell, or scratching the
sod from some struggling seed.  This is Mary," and Martha laughed
good-naturedly as she finished rubbing the palms.

"Debora would see the garden," Anna said.  "Such a lovely garden!"

"Yea," answered Martha, as they passed into the court, "yet doth Mary
have strange ideas, for on top of the old wall that she would let no
man tear down because of its vines which bind the stones together, she
hath grasses growing, such grasses as grow by the wayside to be eaten
of asses and goats.  And when I asked Lazarus to have the wild green
pulled out by the roots, he said since they injure not the wall and
delight the heart of Mary by their playful wagging in the spring
breeze, they shall stay.  So there is a fringe of green blades set
thick with blue blossoms on top of the old wall with vines, and of
these, as of the valley of lilies she hath found, doth Mary throw up
her hands and cry--'Beautiful!'"

Anna and Debora laughed as Martha acted the part of Mary and they
passed on toward the lily beds.  Between the garden wall and the
winding roadway, grew a luxurious grove of date palms which gave to the
home of Lazarus its name.  Inside the garden, pomegranates and grapes
and figs grew, with melons and lentils and aromatic plants, in addition
to Mary's garden of many colored lilies.  In the center of the
courtyard near the house was a water pool in a stony basin, and from
the top of a pile of stones in the middle of the pool, water bubbled
and dropped over the aquatic plants that grew along its sides.  On the
side of the pool nearest the house was the sun-dial.  Close to the
stairs which went to the housetop from the outside, was an olive tree
of unusual size, the wide extended branches of which shaded a corner of
the house and its roof garden, for Mary had shade-loving plants here
also.  Under this gnarled and ancient tree was a thick stone slab hewn
into a seat and here Martha and her guests sat down, after walking
through the garden, to talk of the Passover celebration just at hand,
of Martha's lover Joel, the silk merchant, and Zador Ben Amon's wealth.


As Martha had said, her sister had set forth in the sunrise for a yet
damp wady around the foot of Olivet, where, before the time of
blossoms, she had discovered beds of lilies.  After an uninterrupted
walk of a mile or two, Mary paused on the brow of Olivet and stopping
to rest, turned her face to the east.  Against the flood light of the
rising sun the far distant Mountains of Moab cast dim blue sky-lines.
Emerging from the many-hued green hills that rose in the foreground,
like a twisted thread, stretched the Jericho road which led past the
garden wall of Lazarus' home in Bethany.  Even at this early hour
pilgrims on foot and on donkeys were journeying toward the scene of the
great Passover.

From the east Mary turned her face to the west.  Often had she seen
Jerusalem before, yet now she gave an exclamation of joy as the
ascending sunlight fell in floods of golden glory over the snowy towers
and gold minarets of the City of David, secure on its summit of rugged
fastness.  "Who has not seen Zion knows not what beauty is!" she
exclaimed.  "Zion--fairest throughout the earth!"  The veil which she
had loosely bound about her head had fallen from her shoulders and the
morning breeze touching her soft dark hair was moving it gently around
her face while unseen fingers stirred the hem of her woolen skirt above
her dew wet sandals.  The altar smoke of the morning offering was
ascending from the Temple of snow and gold, casting delicate and ever
changing spirals of gray and black against the rosy sky, and now and
then the silver glint of a dove's wing caught the eye as it circled
over one of the shining domes.  Filled with racial pride as well as
with artistic admiration, Mary looked to the west, hidden, except its
sky, by the battlements of Jerusalem.  But she knew that at the West
Gates the great highway to Joppa and the sea entered the city and
although no glimpse of it could be seen, she knew that the long and
dusty miles would soon resound to the call of the driver, as caravans
of wares for the Passover sale came through the gates.

After a last long look at the shining Temple, Mary turned to the south.
As she did so the exquisite fragrance of grape blossoms came to her on
the changing breeze and she laughed with joy as her eager eyes took in
the panorama, of vineyards here and there with their gray watch towers
set in nature's most delicate filigree of green; of billowing fields of
grain; of groves of olives turning color from green to gray and white
as moved by the breeze, and back of it all the mountains of Judea,
their rugged outlines softened by the rose and purple mist of the
morning.  In this direction the road leaving Jerusalem went into the
south as far as Hebron.

Before pursuing her way she turned to see what signs of life appeared
on the great Damascus road which led to the north through Samaria and
Galilee.  Here, as far as the eye could reach, glimpses of companies
which seemed but slowly-moving specks in the distance, drew nearer the
Holy City to worship or to profit.  At the foot of a near-by hill a
flock of goats, with herdsmen keeping close watch, were browsing among
the prickly pears, feeding their last before being driven into the
Temple stalls as sacrificial beasts.  On another road a company of
Arabs was putting up its mean and ragged tents and just beyond some
Galilean peasants were building booths.  Turning from the brow of the
olive-green Mount, Mary made her way down a dim trail toward the valley
of lilies she had discovered.  Around her feet the gently sloping
hillside was a mass of flowers, blood red anemones, spotted tulips and
blue star blossoms.  In the winter, with the bare gray stones scattered
about in confusion, this place was dreary as poverty itself.  But now
the wealth of beauty that lay over it suggested the joy of the Passover
to the whole world.

It was while picking golden narcissus in her lily valley, Mary's heart
was gladdened by the sudden outburst of a nightingale in a thicket
close at hand.  Careful watching was rewarded by a sight, not only of
the singer but of a nest with three little ones in it.  While she yet
peeped at the nestlings, a man appeared with an ax.  He was looking for
boughs with which to thatch his booth and his eye was on the
nightingale's home.  Taking the nest from its hiding-place Mary tucked
it under her veil, wrapped her lily stems in wet leaves and started
away.  A moment later a stroke of the ax felled the bush that had
housed the birds.  Looking back Mary saw the mother bird fluttering
wildly about over the cast-off pile of leaves.  "Knowing not her little
ones are safe she suffers pain," she said to herself.

She had not gone far along the roadway when she came upon the tent of a
Bedouin.  A woman holding an infant on one arm had just stepped out.
She looked about anxiously until her eye caught sight of a goat grazing
at no great distance.  By its broken tether the goat had made its
escape.  The milk and cheese of the family depended on the goat.  In no
spoken word could Mary converse with the woman, but she understood, and
holding out her arms for the child, pointed toward the goat.  The
swarthy woman nodded, placed the little brown baby in the arms of the
unknown friend, and hurried after the goat.

Sitting on a flat stone behind the tent, Mary, who had for the moment
removed from her bosom the veil in which she had wrapped the nestlings
and was quieting their calls for their mother by fitting her warm palm
close over them, was suddenly startled by what seemed to be an infinite
throb, a passion unspeakable and mysterious.  She did not know that the
mouth of a sucking child is a vortex in which the interplay of
universal forces starts into vibration a thousand generations of
instinctive motherhood.  Nor did the little brown baby know aught of
this.  Moved by the first impulse of Nature which makes every mother a
universal mother, the instinct of self-preservation had turned the face
of the child to the breast of Mary.  Looking about with a glance of
apprehension lest she should be discovered in some unworthy act, she
hastily moved the infant from her arm and the nestlings from her veil
which she gathered over her shoulders and bosom.  The birds she tied in
a loose end of the veil and hid in the front of her garment.  Meantime
the baby was crying lustily and making feeble and aimless motions of
protest or desire with its tiny brown fingers.  Mary was trying to
quiet it by walking when the Bedouin woman returned with the goat.

The sun was shining high and the roads were peopled with pilgrims as
she made her way back to Bethany with her nestlings and narcissus.  But
the way did not seem long, for out of her visit to the valley of lilies
had come a new mystery for her mind to dwell upon--the eternal mystery
of motherhood awakening.  "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings
shall come wisdom."  The words of one of the Rabbis kept coming to her.
But what was the wisdom?  Her only impression at the time was the
strange suggestion that because both nestlings and Bedouin babe had
mistaken her for their mother, they must be brothers.  When Mary
reached home she found Martha and her guests in a state of pleased
excitement.  News had just been brought by Lazarus that Zador Ben Amon
had arrived in Jerusalem after a long journey in far lands, and would
sup with them the day following.  Especially had he sent his respects
to Mary.

"Thou canst feed him, and Lazarus entertain him with his merry
speech-making," Mary observed quietly as she took the nestlings from
her veil.

"And what wilt thou do for thy distinguished guest?" Anna asked of Mary.

"I will watch with great care these little nightingales so that they
may live in the thicket by the spring just over the garden wall.  And
next year when Zador Ben Amon doth pass with his camel train from
Damascus will their sweet song welcome him home."

"No greater guest doth come to the Passover than Zador Ben Amon--and he
hath an interest in thee, Mary."

"Yea--a greater than he hath come to the Passover," said Anna.  "From
Rome hath Pilate come, so sayeth my father, and with a retinue of
servants that doth make Herod green with envy.  And speech hath it that
the wife of Pilate doth dazzle the eye with such gorgeous apparel as is
seen only in the Roman circus."

"Glad is my heart," said Martha, "that Herod be undone in the glory of
display for apeth he not the Romans?  Herod is great when there is none
greater, but ever doth Rome send the greatest."

"Nay, not Rome sends the greatest to the Passover."  It was Debora who
spoke.  "From Capernaum cometh he."

"Capernaum of Galilee?" Martha exclaimed.  "The home of fishermen?"

"Yea, verily.  From Galilee doth a prophet come the like of which hath
not been seen since Elias was taken in a chariot of fire and whirlwind."

"Thou dost speak strange words," Mary observed.  "Who is this prophet?"

"He is called Jesus of Nazareth, for there did he live before his home
was at Capernaum."

"Nazareth," Anna repeated with curling lip.  "Nazareth is a town of
beggars and thieves, so sayeth my father.  Can any good thing come out
of Nazareth?  My father hath mentioned the name of Jesus--was he at the
Passover feast last year?"

"Yea, and the Feast of Tabernacles," Debora answered.

"Jesus of Nazareth," Martha repeated, putting her hand to her forehead.
"Methinks Lazarus did mention the name when Joseph of Arimathea was our
guest.  Dost thou remember, Mary?"

"The name?  Yea, I remember.  But what of it?  None said he was a
prophet."

"Listen," Debora said, leaning eagerly forward and half whispering:
"Knowest thou not that Israel hath long been dispersed and scattered
like sheep without a shepherd?  Knowest thou not that the cohorts of
Rome guard the Sacred Temple and profane the Sanctuary of the Most
High?  Knowest thou not the heart of Israel hath long waited for the
king who shall restore again the throne of David?  And knowest thou not
that the time is at hand for the coming of the promised one?  Aye, even
so hath he already come, and his name is Jesus."

"By what sign is he the Messiah?" Mary asked.

"By the sign of a prophet, and the greatest of all prophets is he.
Once was I at the home of Peter when his wife's mother lay sick of a
fever.  Her skin was hot as if her couch were in a bake oven; her eyes
did shine and vain was her babbling.  Then came the Prophet of Galilee.
On her head where the heat raged he placed his hand.  Close and firm he
held it as if he were holding down a struggling world.  And lo!  The
struggling world grew quiet.  The vain babbling of the parched lips
ceased.  Then did he speak.  Aye--Mary, Martha, Anna--to hear his
voice--deep like unsounded depths, mellow like the music of the viol
and restful as when small waves play upon smooth shores.  Twice did he
speak.  There was stillness.  His eyes were fastened kindly on the face
of her who lay beneath his touch.  Then did she open her eyes.  Her
lips did part in a smile.  She arose and by the open casement did stand
to breathe deep of the cool air.  And those who had gathered in the
street to set up the death-wail, did cry, 'A miracle!  A miracle!'"

"But it is not a miracle to heal those who are not dead.  Do not the
Rabbis heal the sick?" Mary asked.

"And the prophets are all dead," Martha added.

"Wait and see," was Debora's answer.



CHAPTER V

HULDAH AND ELIZABETH

In a gala dress of blue with silver embroidery, Martha, her faithful
Eli close at hand and girt in a clean towel, awaited the coming of
Passover guests, for the few days preceding the Feast were used for
visiting, and Lazarus and his sisters had many friends.  The first
guest to arrive was Huldah, wife of a Temple scribe.  Martha opened the
door.  The servant took his place behind a stool near the door with a
basin of water.

"Sit thee down," Martha said after greetings.  "Let thy feet be cooled.
The way is dusty for ten thousand feet press to the City of David."

"Yea, from all the world they come to see the Temple of the Jews,"
Huldah answered.  "For a week hath the ring of the hammer sounded over
the hills where the roadways are made safe, and tombs are fresh
whitened that none be rendered unclean.  All Jerusalem is a guest
chamber.  Where is Mary?" and she glanced about the room.

"She is in the garden with Anna and her Capernaum guest Debora.  And
Debora hath been saying a prophet hath arisen the like of which hath
not been seen since Elijah went up in his fiery chariot."

"A prophet!  A prophet!" exclaimed Huldah, greatly interested.  "Whence
cometh he?"

"From Galilee--but the maidens are coming.  Ask Debora."

In festive attire and carrying flowers, Anna and Debora entered the
room, followed by Mary, gowned in clinging white caught high on her
breast and falling away leaving her arms bare.  Her hair had blown
softly about her face.  Her cheeks were like almond blossoms and a
white veil caught around her head by a carved silver chaplet, fell over
her shoulders.  After the greeting, Huldah turned to Debora.

"Hast thou said a prophet cometh from Galilee?"

"So I have spoken."

"Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet."

"From Galilee cometh Jesus of Nazareth."

"Jesus of Nazareth!" Huldah exclaimed, throwing up her hands.

"Hast heard of him?" Martha inquired.

"Jesus son of Gamaliel, successor to Jesus son of Damneus; Jesus son of
Sie; Jesus son of Phabet!  Be there no end to the Jesus' sons?  And now
cometh the worse of them all.  Yea, I have heard of him.  A wolf in
sheep's clothing--a false prophet is he.  Never was he taught in the
Temple school, yet doth he dare within its sacred portals to teach
others.  By an evil one is he led."

"Why dost thou say by an evil one?" asked Debora.

"Dost thou, a daughter of Israel, so ask?  Aye, is it not evil to speak
against the traditions of the Elders?  No worse to blaspheme the Temple
itself!  Is not Israel the chosen of God, and hath it not been written
there is no salvation outside Israel?  Had there been no Jew the Law
from Sinai had not been given and we too would be unclean as the
Gentiles.  What worse could one do than set at naught the traditions of
the Elders?  But this is not all.  He doth both harvest and winnow on
the Holy Sabbath."

"Harvest and winnow on the Sabbath?" Martha asked in surprise.

"Yea, and this is not all.  He is a friend of publicans."

"Publicans?  Those vile wretches who filch from the pockets of Israel
to pay for the pageantry of Rome?"  It was Anna who questioned.

"Yea, and this is not all.  He is also a friend of the defiled
Samaritan, friendly as a brother is he with these heathen--and--and--"
she whispered, "he keepeth company with harlots."

"Harlots!" exclaimed the maidens under their breath.

"Yea--what manner of prophet thinkest thou this be?"

"Hast thou thyself seen the evil things of which thou beareth witness?"
Debora asked of Huldah.

"Nay, but such are the reports."

"Our guest Debora hath both seen the face of him and heard his voice,"
Mary observed.

Huldah laughed.  "And what so easy for a false prophet to deceive with
smooth speech and searching eyes, as a maiden's heart?  But enough of
such talk as doth vex the Rabbis.  See thou my cloth of gold?  With my
needle I shall make it gay with crimson pomegranates."  Huldah took her
embroidery from her bag, and the young women stood around admiring her
work when voices were heard outside.  Martha turned to the lattice
window and looked out.

"More pilgrims are coming.  A mother in Israel is to be our guest.  She
cometh with a neighbor and leaneth heavily on her staff.  Mary--Mary!
It is Elizabeth.  Hasten to meet her."

Mary hurried out.  When she had gone Huldah asked, "Who is this aged
Elizabeth?"

"Knowest thou not?  She is the mother of John the Baptiser whose head
Herod did give as a bauble to the vile Herodias."  Huldah rose
hurriedly and looked out the window.

"The mother of John Baptist, he who did come from the caves of the
mountains with the garment of a wolf, the beard of a lion and the voice
of a bear.  Jerusalem turned out to hear the man.  Possessed of a devil
was he.  Aye, and the hair of his mother be white like the cap of snow
that sits on Hermon's head.  Verily a foolish son bringeth down his
mother's hair in sorrow.  If the Rabbis are not able to teach the Law,
shall one wild from the desert be able?  For attending to business not
his own lost he his head."

"Lean on me," said Mary, just outside the door.  "My feet have not
traveled the hard path so long."

"The blessing of Jehovah on thee, my daughter," Elizabeth replied as
they came up the steps.  In ample black drapery and wearing a widow's
headdress, the aged woman entered.  "Peace be to this house and to thy
hearts, my daughters," she said with upraised hands.  She was conducted
to a wide armchair, and Mary threw back her black mantle and Eli
unloosed her sandals.

"There are many pilgrim feet pressing toward the Passover Feast,"
Huldah said.

"Yea, my daughter.  And some whose feet pressed the pilgrim path last
year have gone on a longer pilgrimage, a farther journey than to the
City of Zion--yea to the Heavenly Zion have they gone."  Elizabeth
rested her head wearily against the back of the chair and tears rolled
down her withered cheeks.  Mary knelt beside her and taking her hands
said gently, "Weep not!  From our brother have we heard what Herod hath
done.  It was cruel, aye, cruel as the grave to take thine son--the
only son of thine old age.  But weep not!"

"Cruel as the grave!  So seemeth it.  Yet the Lord gave and the Lord
hath taken away.  The Lord truly blessed me in that it was given me to
be the mother of a prophet.  Strange too, was it, for the spring-time
of my life had gone.  Yea, the ten years had passed after which the
Israelite may give a writing of divorcement to a barren wife.  Yet did
the love of my husband live and in the fulness of time to us a son was
born.  A Nazarene did he grow, neither cutting his beard, nor drinking
wine nor looking on women.  And as Elijah came from the wilds of Gilead
to confound Ahab, so came the son of my bosom from the wilds of Judea
crying in the ear of an adulterous generation, 'Prepare ye!  Prepare!
There cometh one after me whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to
unloose.'  And as he did declare, so hath that mightier appeared--aye,
the hope of Israel.  Not a Nazarene is he.  Came he both eating and
drinking and loving womankind, and lo! of him they say 'a wine bibber
and a glutton.'  But, daughters, wisdom be justified of her children.
Lo, he that hath been promised to restore again the glory of Israel is
even now in the City of our God!"

"Strange words thou speakest," said Huldah.

"Thou dost not speak of Jesus of Nazareth?" Mary asked.

"Even of him," the aged woman answered.

"Art thou of his acquaintance?" Debora asked with interest.

"Even more, for was not the mother of her who bare Jesus even the
sister of my father?"

"Thy kinsman he is?  Thou hast looked upon his face and heard the
wondrous voice that doth drive away fever?"

"Yea, have I seen and heard, both the son and his mother and father,
for twice did I visit under the roof of my cousin."

"His mother--what of her?  Is she skilled in savoring rich sop?" Martha
asked.

"She hath not possessed the wherewithal to make rich sop, yet in her
veins runneth the blood of kings.  Of the house of David hath she come."

"And where hath she been in hiding, this royal-blooded Jewess?" Huldah
asked.

"In the rude home of a Galilean peasant, for poverty hath been her lot.
Yea, in the stone feed-trough of a cattle shed was Jesus born because
his father had not the price of keep at the inn.  A little lad at
Nazareth was he when I first saw him."

"A little lad," Mary repeated.  "What manner of little lad was he?"

"Beside his mother's knee he heard stories of the brave and mighty of
Israel.  He walked with his mother by the sea and in the fields.  He
loved the fowls of the air, the hares and the foxes.  And such
questions did he ask as no man hath wisdom to answer.  While his mother
toiled he played with the children of the village.  When they played
funeral right vigorously would he weep with the mourners.  When they
played wedding with those who piped, piped he, and with those who
danced, danced he until his small garments, like wings, flew apace.
Mild was he and obedient, yet when his hand was lifted in wrath it did
strike hard.  Once he did fight.  Aye, and a good fight it was and over
the wall did he send with the speed of a wild ass and fierce blows, a
lad twice his size.  His mother did bind his black eye in a fig leaf
poultice and tell him fighting were not good for little lads.  I
remember yet his face as he did make answer, 'Woman, know'st thou not
our father David did smite a giant which did torment Jehovah's chosen
ones?  Even so did I smite him who was plucking hair from the head of a
feeble child who could do naught but cry out.  For this did I send him
over the wall, and no more will he do this evil thing when I am nigh.'"

"Blessings on him," laughed Debora, clapping her hands.

"My heart goeth out to such a lad," Mary said.

"What for?" Huldah asked.  "For making bloody another lad's nose?"

"If so be that to bloody a nose is the only way to stay the hand of
oppression."

"And yet another time did I see him," Elizabeth continued.  "At a
wedding in Cana, when he had grown to man's estate.  Merry were the
guests with feasting and shouting when the wine did fall short.  In an
outer room were some firkins which Jesus did order filled with water.
When the water was drawn out, it was wine."

"This is no sign of a prophet," Huldah answered quickly.  "Ofttimes
have I with a cup of grape sirup well thickened, made a kid skin of
wine.  What sign hath he given of being a prophet that hath not already
been given?"

"From the dungeon my John asked this question," Elizabeth answered
slowly.  "After other things did Jesus say, 'Tell John I have come to
bring the gospel to the _poor_.'"

Huldah laughed heartily.  Then she said, "Of a surety this is a sign no
prophet hath given.  The poor?  Who taketh account of the poor?
Poverty is a visitation of Jehovah.  Ever have the poor been despised
and forsaken.  Cursed be the lot of the poor--yea, thrice cursed!"

"Yea, cursed be the lot of the poor.  Even was this the lot of Jesus of
Galilee.  Oft was his food but dried locusts.  Oft bore his thin
garments many patches.  Oft was a heavy yoke put on the burden of his
childish shoulders.  For this pitieth he the poor."

"Locusts for the belly; patches for the back; a yoke for the shoulders!
Shame on Israel that of this sort it would call a king--even from
Galilee where women labor in the field and men like cattle toil!" and
Huldah's lip curled with scorn.

"The toiler toileth that Herod may make great banquets.  Pilate doth
ride in a golden chariot and Caesar feed men to tigers.  When cometh
the King of the Jews, such will be done away with, for again will
slaves be set free and the Year of Jubilee proclaimed."

"A king must be a King--not a herder of sheep or a driver of oxen," was
Huldah's emphatic reply.

"Was not our glorious David a keeper of sheep before the crown was put
upon his head?  Not whence he cometh, but the kind he is, doth decide
the quality of kings," Mary observed thoughtfully.



CHAPTER VI

HARD SAYINGS

The table was set for the evening meal in the home of Lazarus.  Martha
was in the kitchen urging Eli to more speed in final preparations, and
Mary was arranging a bowl of vari-colored lilies on the table.
Entering the room Martha paused to look at her sister.  "Mary," she
exclaimed, "thou dost spend time as though lilies made fit eating."

"Fit eating?  Nay, but Zador Ben Amon doth sup with us to-night.  From
the splendors of Rome hath he come.  Shall we not set forth for him the
better splendors of lilies in all their glory?  And should I not help
make joyful the coming of Joel who hath been away two weeks?"

"It is wine in the cup and meat well seasoned that doth delight the
heart of man."

"The perfume of flowers doth breathe of giving.  So do they breathe of
love which doth ever give, until a woman giveth herself to be loved of
a man as thou art promised to Joel.  How strange and holy a thing is
love!"

"Mayhap it is strange; mayhap is [Transcriber's note: it?] is holy.
But get thou the sop bowls.  Joel and Lazarus are coming."

"Ha! ha! ha!"  The laughing voice sounded just outside the door.  "The
face of him was like--ha! ha!--it was like--like--" and again the words
ended in laughter.

"Like what was the face of him?" a second voice asked.

"A mild ass well beaten,--ha--ha!"

"Lazarus is in a merry mood to-day," Mary said to Martha.

"It taketh not much to gladden his heart," was Martha's answer, as the
two men entered the room.  When Joel had kissed Martha and exchanged
greetings with Mary, she said to Lazarus, "Thou comest in good spirits,
my brother."

"Yea," replied Joel, "a bit of wit doth make him to bubble over like
sour wine in a kid skin, and thrice doth he bubble at wit from the lips
of a prophet."

"Is there a prophet given to wit?" Mary inquired.

"Nay, not to wit," Lazarus answered.  "To wisdom he is given, yet in
his wisdom doth often sparkle wit."

"Who is this prophet that causeth thy pleasure?" Mary asked.

"Another Jesus--Jesus of Nazareth this one is."

"Is there none other at the Passover Feast than he to talk of?" was
Martha's question.  "Naught have we heard from our guests to-day save
of him.  Now again hear we more."

"Lazarus is much taken with his teachings which he calleth wisdom.
Methinks his sayings are hard, eh, Lazarus?"

"Yea, hard sayings," the master of the house replied seriously, as he
settled himself on the window couch.  "Yet is there that within them
which giveth wine its flavor," and again he laughed.

"What was the saying that did please thee?" Mary asked.

"Knowest thou what the Law sayeth about graven images?  Aye, to touch
one defileth a Jew.  With fierce righteousness do those in authority
contend for observance of the letter of the law.  Was not much blood
spilled when Pilate sought to put an image of Caesar in the Temple?
The Galilean Prophet oft setteth aside the Law.  For this reason do the
Scribes and Pharisees seek to entangle him.  Taking council, they did
say to him, 'What thinkest thou?  Is it lawful to give tribute to
Caesar, or not?'  Hard by stood many with their ears well open.  And
near at hand stood I.  Upon him who spoke and those his followers, did
the Galilean look.  Then did he say, 'Why tempt me, ye hypocrites?'
With these words did the countenances of his tempters grow long like
their beards and take on a grievous expression like a beast unjustly
berated.  'Show me the tribute money,' said he.  With exceeding
quickness were their hands thrust into their pockets, while the eyes of
those who stood by watched close.  As the Prophet of Galilee did take
on his palm the coins, the corners of his beard did twitch yet was his
voice grave as he said, 'Whose is this image and superscription?'  With
one voice they did answer, 'Caesar's'--and by my most precious beard so
bore the coins the image of Tiberius!  Dost thou get the flavor of the
situation?  Breathing out fierce contention for the letter of the Law,
go they about with their wallets stuffed with images--stuffed with
images of Tiberius!  Ha! ha! ha!  Thou shouldst have seen their faces
when those who stood by to see them entrap the Galilean laughed at them
boisterously."

The story told by the young man ended in a hearty laugh, which was
entered into by the others.

"Did he make answer?" Mary asked.

"Aye.  Listen now if thou wouldst hear wisdom.  Giving their images
back to those who sought to entangle him, he said, 'Render unto Caesar
the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.'"

"Had they an answer?"  It was Mary again who questioned.

"None save the face of them.  It were enough--ha! ha!"

"Lazarus is much taken with this man," Martha observed.  "Art thou,
too, gone after him, Joel?"

"Nay.  I like him not.  Far be it from the business of a Galilean
peasant to tell a merchant of Jerusalem that riches be a curse."

"And hath he said this to thee?" Martha inquired in astonishment.

"Yea, at the gate where my camel did stick and skin his nether
quarters."

Lazarus laughed again as he exclaimed, "Enough it were to make dry
bones shake!  Such a sight!  Tell it, Joel."

"Lazarus doth make light of matters sorely vexatious," Joel said
without smiling.

"What did happen, Joel?" and there was concern in Martha's question.

"My camel train bearing great stores of silks had come from Damascus.
The city gates were gorged with pilgrims so that my men did lead their
beasts to the far side of the city wall where the small gates are.
Here, when the camel would have walked under, he could not for the
bales of silk that did wedge against the stones.  Then did we strip the
beasts, yet were their frames too large.  Then did we get them on their
knees and while some did pull, others did push.  I stood with those in
the rear and most mightily did I push until sweat did drop from my head
and much straining did rend my _kittuna_."

"Didst get the camel through?" Martha asked anxiously.

"Yea, save the patch of hide he did leave sticking on the stone walls."

"Thou shouldst have seen," Lazarus laughed, "thou shouldst have seen
thy Joel.  Like a dog of the hills did he pant and like the swine of
the heathen did he grunt."

"Were there bystanders to witness thy sad plight?"  Martha asked the
question of Joel.

"Yea, hard by stood a small company, one of them in the garment of a
Rabbi.  Beholding the struggling he said, 'Verily, verily, it is easier
for a camel to get through a needle's eye than for a rich man to get
into Heaven.'  Then did those about fasten searching eyes on me, and I
like him not."

"The truth doth fit close, friend Joel.  Now to me did he also make a
hard speech, yet I like him the more for his plain speaking."

"And hast thou too had speech with the Galilean?  Tell me, my brother?"
Mary asked.

"Lazarus would be his disciple," Joel remarked.

"Lazarus!  Our brother?  The son of a Sanhedrin Pharisee be the
disciple of a Galilean?" and there was consternation in the voice of
Martha.

"Thou hast spoken," he replied quietly, arranging himself more
comfortably on the couch.  "The Law have I studied since the days of my
father.  Hillel and Shammiah have I poured over and of Philo have I
sought knowledge.  Yea, even of the heathen Socrates have I sought
knowledge.  But, it is vain.  The traditions of the Elders do weary me
for at last tradition is no more than tradition.  What avails fierce
contentions over the ashes of the red heifer, the waving of willows or
the pouring of holy water?  Whether the Sadducees or the Pharisees gain
the contention the burden remaineth the same.  At times have I thought
of turning to the spade and apron and white robe of the Essenes where
there be no Aaronic priesthood or bloody sacrifice."

"But this Jesus--is he an Essene?  Hast thou heard aught of his
teachings?"

"Yea, Mary.  In the Temple doth he tell of a Kingdom where the Law
shall be less and justice and liberty more, a Kingdom of Brotherhood
which the sword bringeth not but which cometh as spring-time brings a
new earth.  Wonderful did this teaching sound, and as I did drink it
in, turned he his face to me as if my lips had called him.  And I did
know, even as his eye rested on mine, that I should love him, yea, as
if he were a brother.  Again did I draw near as he did pass on
Solomon's porch, and again did his eyes find my face.  Then did I ask
what I should do to be his disciple.  'Keep the commandments,' was his
answer.  'All these have I kept from my youth up,' I made answer.  But
it were not enough."

"It should be enough.  What more doth the Law require?" Joel asked.

"Yet," observed Mary thoughtfully, "there be no virtue in keeping the
Law which bids us not steal, so long as the belly is full of red wine
and rich mutton."

"Or in coveting thy neighbor's fat wife when a shapely Martha is
promised.  Eh, Joel?" Lazarus questioned.

They all laughed.  Joel's reply was, "Not virtue, nay.  But where is
virtue in the hard sayings he did put to Lazarus?"

"A hard saying truly," Lazarus repeated.  "He did bid me sell my
possessions and give to the poor."

"The Law doth not allow but a certain portion for the poor."

"Thou sayest truly, Mary.  Yet him whose disciple I would be, says,
'Give all.'"

"Thy vineyards and wine presses?" and Martha's face was troubled.

"Thy olive orchard?" and Mary too expressed concern.

"Yea, and thy home and garden and fountain and thy chickens and lilies,
Mary," Joel answered quickly.

"An evil spirit doth work in his head," was Martha's observation.

"Why said he this to thee, my brother?" and Mary stood by Lazarus with
perplexed face.

"That I should love him more than all these."

"He doth require much love."

"Yea, verily, much love doth he require for much doth he give and
everything doth he make of love.  Sorrowful I turned away.  Yet will I
see him again.  But, Mary--Martha--look thou at the western sky.  Hast
thou made ready for our honored guest, Zador Ben Amon, who arriveth
shortly?  Fortunate is he as those of the House of Annas since with the
money-changers hath the High Priest given him a place so that he hath
riches more abundant than us all.  Since he hath been our guest before,
his heart hath become settled on Mary and of her hand hath he spoken to
me already."

"And thou wert not slow to say 'yes.'"  There was joy in Martha's
question, though it was not a question.

"'The heart of a woman should go out to him whose wife she would be;
and the heart is not worn on the hand.  Tell thy desire to Mary.'  This
said I to Zador who seeks her hand."

"Listen!" exclaimed Martha.

The sound of wheels on the pebble strewn incline just outside, told the
approach of Zador Ben Amon.



CHAPTER VII

LOST--AN ANKLET

The face of Zador Ben Amon was divided into two halves, the upper of
which reached from the line of his black beard that ran straight under
his cheek-bones, to the lower edge of his elegant head covering.
Prominent in this half were the eyes of Zador Ben Amon, but whether
those of a wolf, a fox or a saved son of Israel, was a matter of
reciprocity depending on the kind and condition of profit-making at
hand.  The lower portion of the money-changer's face was again divided
into two halves by a thin white line running from lip to chin; this
line was preserved by choice oils applied liberally to his beard hair.
The solidity of Zador Ben Amon, whether financial or otherwise, was
suggested by the broad back of his short body and in the square shape
of his feet, whose bones bulged in spite of the best of sandals.  To
cover his broad back, Zador had a wonderful cloak of blue with a purple
stripe above the border where crimson pomegranates were embroidered.
With this cloak over his arm, for the season was getting too warm for
more back covering than the usual garment, with new hand-wrought silver
buckles on his sandals, a jaunty sash with deep knotted fringes, and
with hair and beard perfumed, he made his way to the home of Lazarus at
Bethany.

The wheels of his carriage had not yet turned from the door when Zador
Ben Amon was welcomed by Lazarus and bidden through the open door,
inside which stood Mary and Martha and Joel.  His greeting to Martha
was brief.  Toward Mary he advanced with smiling face, as if to embrace
her.  "Nay?" he questioned as she drew back.  "Didst not thy brother
tell thee I have decided to make thee my betrothed?"

"The words my brother spake I did not so understand," she replied,
stepping yet farther back from him.

"Then hath the pleasure been left for Zador, son of Amon, to tell Mary
of the House of Dates that he hath come to make her his betrothed and
hath brought her a fit gift."

"But I know thee not save as a friend of my brother Lazarus, nor dost
thou know me."

"And what needst thou to know save that I am among Israel's rich and
mighty and would take thee to wife?  And what need I to know of thee
more than that thou art fair and a woman?  Doth the hungry beast not
know its heart's desire?  To thy brother have I spoken."

"And hath Lazarus given you knowledge that my heart is in his keeping?"
Mary asked.

"Hearts!" Zador exclaimed, laughing like one well fed.  "Lazarus, thy
fair sister doth take hearts into account rather than shekels and
talents of gold."

"Perhaps there is wisdom in the words she speaketh when she saith you
know her not," and Lazarus smiled.  "Seat thyself and make ready for a
better acquaintance."

"Thou speakest," Zador answered heartily, glancing toward the
window-seat.  "But before thou layest my cloak aside would I show it to
the maidens.  At a great price I secured this," and he held it toward
Martha and Mary.

"Its colors are most beautiful," Mary said.

Martha had slipped her hand inside the folds and was closely examining
the needlework.

"From hem to hem the pomegranates reach," Zador explained, noticing
Martha's interest.  "Doth not the needlework far exceed that of
Israel's workers in fine thread?"

"The workmanship is wonderful.  Yet here are loose stitches at the top
of the border."

Zador caught up the cloak hem and examined it with careful eye as he
said, "Thou knowest.  On the morrow will it be mended.  But now, since
Zador hath come to know that Mary and Martha delight in rich apparel,
let him tell them of garments that dazzle the eye for glory and riches."

"Robes of Rome?" Martha asked with keen interest

"Yea, as I saw them in banquet hall and amphitheatre."

When the guest's cloak had been carefully put aside and his feet
washed, the group gathered in the wide window-seat where he reclined,
to hear news from Rome.  "Hath the fame of the garment of Lolilla
Pauline come to your ears?" he asked.

"Nay," answered Martha.

"Of seed pearls was it covered and over the pearls lay leaves of
emerald.  Forty million sesterces did it cost.  Thou holdest up thy
hands?  Then will I tell thee of one that did cost fifty million
sesterces--the like of which eye hath not seen before.  On a robe of
pearls sprinkled with diamonds, sat a peacock of great size so that his
head did rest on the shoulders of the wearer and the tail of the bird
did cover her back.  And of rare jewels was this bird made; emeralds
and rubies and topaz and sapphire and amethyst and opals and jacinths,
set with such skill as to make the breast-plate of the High Priest a
bauble.  What delighteth the heart of a woman more than rich wearing
apparel?"  The question followed his description of the jewels and he
laughed heartily at Martha's expression of amazed delight.

"Yet another garment would I tell thee of, such a one as eye hath not
before seen."  He stopped to laugh heartily.  "A garment it also was of
many colors," and again he laughed.  "In that which is filthy and cast
away do rag-pickers stir and strive.  And when they have great stores
of that which is vile and useless, do they sew it together into a
garment and sell it for a pittance to a slave to cover his naked body.
Such a rag-picker's garment saw I.  Such a sight--sold for such a
pittance."

"But might not the pittance paid for a rag-picker's garment be more to
the slave than fifty million sesterces to one whose toil earned not
even the first of them?" asked Mary.

"Ask me not questions about slaves, the rabble.  Thou knowest they are
but broilers and vile."

"Perhaps," Mary answered thoughtfully, "if slaves and the rabble were
better fed they would broil less.  Doth not Baba Metzia say 'When the
barley in the jar is finished, quarrels come thundering through the
house'?"

"Thou knowest nothing of slaves and the rabble, fair Mary.  Never are
the poor content.  Give them bran and vinegar and they want herbs.
Give them herbs and they want lentils.  Give them lentils and they want
sop of mutton.  And once sop-fed will they cry aloud for the mutton
itself.  Cursed be the poor, by God.  Let them be accursed."  And the
money-changer nodded his head in approval of his speech.

"Yea, accursed be the poor," said Lazarus.  "Yet it seemeth not so much
according to the curse of God as to the greed of man.  To the rich
their riches come by inheritance as came mine.  Or cometh riches by
great cunning and skill in taking from others."

"As cometh mine," Zador Ben Amon laughed, rubbing his hands and looking
from one to the other for approval.  "And even now my palms grow hot
for that which shall come into them from my Temple booths at the
Passover.  But how dost thou reason, Lazarus?  If there are rich and
mighty must there not of necessity be the poor and weak?"

"Yea.  Yet is this according to the Law of Moses?  According to the Law
was not grain left in the corners for the gleaners?  Was not stealing
and lying forbidden among Israelites?  Was usury not forbidden under
great penalty?  And was not the year of Jubilee proclaimed?  Hath the
Law no meaning?"

"Like fire is the Law, a good servant but a bad master, my friend
Lazarus.  But let us not talk of the Law but of the Great Feast.
Gorged with pilgrims from all the earth is Jerusalem and this year's
Temple business will exceed all bounds.  Never did I see so many and
strange peoples."

"Even wonder workers--eh, Mary?" Joel said.

Zador Ben Amon looked toward Mary for an answer.

"He speaketh of Jesus of Nazareth, methinks," she replied.

"Who is he?" and he turned to Lazarus.

"A Galilean Rabbi."

"Galilee is not noted for furnishing Rabbis.  Hath he been taught in
the Temple?"

"Nay.  Yet in the Temple teacheth he such wisdom as hath not before
been taught by any Rabbi."

"And he works wonders," Martha added.

Zador Ben Amon laughed heartily.  "Women believe all things," he said.
"There are no wonder workers but sorcerers.  Even Eunus, who had the
whole Isle of Sicily bewitched, did spit out fire by first putting fire
in his mouth.  So doeth this Jesus his wonders by Beelzebub--if indeed
he doeth them."

As the time for dining drew near, the scent of cooking meat reached the
nostrils of Zador.  He sniffed and smiled approval, saying, "The savory
odor of thy well seasoned meat bringeth to mind the meat and wine of
the banquet at which the Roman noblewoman wore the blazing peacock."
Again Martha showed keen interest.  "In myrrhine and jeweled vases were
the wines served and the nightingales' tongues on platters of pure
gold," and he watched for the effect of his words.

"Nightingales' tongues!" Mary exclaimed.

"Of a truth.  It seemeth past reason that enough of meat so small
should be secured to banquet on.  Yet when Rome would banquet, all
things are hers.  Into far places goeth the fowler with his snare and
by the thousand are the fowls of the air sent in, to be burned, save
the tongues of them."

The eyes of Mary were fastened on the face of her guest in bewildered
amazement.  "And you ate nightingales' tongues?" she again exclaimed.

"By the gold plate full.  Savory beyond telling was the dish and my
appetite was at best."

The eyes of Mary turned from the face of Zador.

"Mary hath three unfeathered ones she spendeth much time feeding," Joel
remarked after a short silence.  "She would have them grow large."

Zador looked at Mary, leaned his head against a pillow and laughed.
"And so our Mary would sup after the manner of Rome.  Three
nightingales?  The tongues of them all will not make a taste!"

A flush tinged Mary's face as she said, "Dost thou think I would
nourish the lives of nestlings to pluck from their throats their
tongues?" and she cast a straight glance at the reclining man.

"Of what other use are they?" and a mild expression of interest showed
on Zador's face.

"Hast thou forgotten the song?"

"Song?  Hear the woman, Lazarus, my friend!  But a moment ago she did
put a value on hearts.  Now songs have a value.  The heart of a woman
and the song of a bird!  Are they worth shekels or talents, my fair
Mary?"

"The love of the heart is priceless," she replied, "and there is music
of value more than gold talents."

"Are not the silver trumpets of the Temple music enough for thee?"

"Such music is indeed sweet.  But there is yet other music."

After Mary had excused herself and gone into the garden a few moments
later, Martha said, "She hath gone to feed her nestlings."

"Then will I show you the rare gift I brought thy sister," and from a
leather case taken from inside his cloak Zador drew a delicately
wrought anklet of gold set thick with shining green chalcedony.  From
it hung bangles, like bits of fine gold lace, carrying, each in the
center, a precious stone of changing color.  At sight of it Martha gave
an exclamation of delight, and Lazarus and Joel looked at it with
interest.  "My betrothal gift to Mary," Zador Ben Amon said with
undisguised admiration as he turned it about and shook it so that the
tinkling of the bangles sounded.  "From Ceylon came the garnets and the
emerald from Ethiopian mines.  When hath man given his betrothed so
rich a gift?  Proud will thy fair sister be to receive it."

"I would have Mary come," Lazarus said, and leaving the house, he went
into the garden.  At the far end Mary was sitting under a glossy green
pomegranate which was in full crimson blossom.  Clad in white and with
her silver bound veil falling softly about her, she made a picture
worth pausing a moment to view.  She held the nest of young birds in
one hand and moved the other slowly over them, until, roused by the
wing-like motion, they opened wide their yellow mouths for the food she
dropped in.  Lazarus watched a moment before seating himself near her.
"Mary, my sister," he said, "Zador Ben Amon is an Israelite high and
mighty and hath set his heart on thee."

"Nay.  Nay," she replied quickly.  "He is a heathen and his heart is
set on shekels and talents."

"He hath brought thee a betrothal gift."

Mary was silent until she had closed her hand over the crying
nestlings.  Then she turned to Lazarus.  "Dost thou want me to leave
thee, my brother?"

"Nay, nay, Mary.  Not so.  I would keep thee always if thou wouldst.
Yet there cometh a time when a woman's heart goeth out to another man
than her brother.  Thou art different from Martha and setteth much
store on things not sold in market places.  Let not thy answer come
from the mouth of a nightingale.  When thy arms grow hungry for little
ones and thy breast casts about for him who shall be father to them,
Zador Ben Amon--"

Further words were cut short by an exclamation from Mary who drew back
in horror.

"What is it?" and Lazarus looked about.  "What abominable thing cometh
nigh thee?"

For a moment Mary made no reply.  With her brother's reference to
little ones which should come of her union with the money-changer, she
had felt again the passion unspeakable that had for the moment gripped
her at touch of the Bedouin baby's lips.  Yet as it swept through her
now it was the passion of utter revulsion, such passionate revulsion as
had stamped itself on her face when her brother looked about for some
ugly, creeping reptile.  "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
cometh wisdom," she seemed to hear the Rabbi say again, and without
understanding the mystery of the wisdom, she knew it had come through
the mouth of the Bedouin baby.  "Not from the mouth of a nightingale
shall my answer come," said Mary.  "But if thou lovest me, speak no
more forever of wedding me with this Jew.  It hath been revealed to me
there is no wisdom in it."

"He will press the matter with thee.  He is a guest under my roof and a
Sadducee of power.  Choose well thy way."

"I have already made choice.  To the home of Anna do I go for the
night.  She hath called me, for her father is in Jerusalem."

"Is this wisdom?" asked Lazarus thoughtfully.

"It is a favor to Anna, and Zador Ben Amon will not miss a foolish
lover of songs when he doth lay hold of Martha's choice meat."

Together Mary and Lazarus walked toward the house.  When they reached
the big stone bench, Zador stood waiting.  Lazarus passed on, and
because he insisted, Mary sat beside the Temple money-maker.  He put
the cloak carefully over the back of the seat and from its folds drew
the anklet.  Uncovering it, he thrust it suddenly before her, watching
eagerly for her first impression.

"What thinkest thou?  Is this not a fit betrothal gift for a Roman
noblewoman?"

"It is most beautiful," she answered quietly.

"It is thine, my Israelitish princess--my Mary!" he exclaimed with all
the interest she had not shown.  "Draw up thy skirt for with my own
hand would I fit it to thy white and shapely ankle," and his narrow
black eyes shone with the anticipated pleasure.

Mary drew away saying, "Nay, nay.  I wear no anklets."

"See," and he held it toward her.  "Its jewels will tinkle on thy skirt
like the silver bells on the High Priest's robe.  What soundeth more
pleasant to the ears of a woman?"

"But I care not for wagging nose rings and tinkling anklets," she
replied.

"And thou wouldst have another gift than this?" Zador asked, his
disappointment apparent.

"Nay.  No gift would I have.  When there is no betrothal what need of a
gift?"

Zador Ben Amon turned his eyes on Mary.  "No betrothal!" he exclaimed.
"No betrothal!  Thou dost jest.  Where is the woman who would do less
than be betrothed to Zador Ben Amon?  Take thou the gift.  As the price
of thy heart was it fashioned and I make my oath that no other woman
shall possess it.  Here," and he held it toward her.  She made no move.
He placed it carefully on the wide stone arm of the bench.  "There is
thy gift and palsied be my arm if my hand toucheth it again.  It is
thine."  And Zador waited for Mary to speak.  "Thou dost disturb me
much!"  And his voice suggested anger when she made no move to take the
gift, and arising he went to the pool beside which he stood with bowed
head.

After watching him a moment, Mary's hand sought the border of his
cloak.  Her fingers felt the loose thread in the wide hem.  Lifting the
anklet, she slipped it inside the hem and pushed it around to one side
of the garment.

"On the morrow when he mends the rent he will find that I neither took
it nor must his arm suffer palsy for withholding it from me," and she
smiled.  Then she arose.  "Zador Ben Amon," she said, "I go to the home
of Anna whose father doth not return from Jerusalem to-night.
Farewell."

With a start he turned his face to her.  A few quick steps brought him
to her side and he would have thrown his arms about her but she
gathered her veil tightly and said, "Touch me not!"

"Touch thee not?  Am I a god of wood?" and before she had stepped aside
his fingers touched her.

"My brother sitteth just behind the lattice.  Wilt thou that I call
him?"  Zador Ben Amon stopped.  Mary cast one swift glance at him.
"Devourer of songs unsung," she said slowly, turning her back on him.

He watched her cross the court and pass through the gate into the yard
of Simon the Leper.  When she was beyond sight he stepped hurriedly
back to the bench.  He glanced cautiously toward the house.  He ran his
hand over the stone where he had placed the anklet.  He shook his
cloak.  He dropped on his hands and knees and searched the grass
carefully.  "The woman hath taken it and I have me no recourse," he
muttered angrily.  "A curse upon her!  But this is not the end of it!"



CHAPTER VIII

STRANGE TALES ARE ABOUT

The palace occupied by Pilate, Roman Procurator of Judea, during his
visitations to the once Jewish capital, was one of the gorgeous and
perpetual monuments to the architectural skill of Herod the Great and
his almost inconceivable expenditure of gold.  Had Pilate built it for
himself it could not have been more to his liking, containing as it did
apartments in size from the closet of a slave maiden to halls of state
large enough to banquet whole companies.  The favorite state apartment
of Pilate was always first set in order.  A palace within a palace was
it, pillared into twelve compartments which yet made one whole.  The
frieze of the twelve compartments was surmounted with the twelve signs
of the Zodiac and paintings of meat eaters.  The side walls were
decorated with fauns and naked bacchantes carrying vases of flowers.
The gleaming pillars that reached to a ceiling of great height were
entwined with carved ivy and vine branches.  There were couches, one of
bronze ornamented with tortoise shell and gold, the cushions of which
were Gallic wool dyed purple; another near it was of ivory and gold and
across it was thrown a wolf skin robe.  Corinthian vases nobly wrought
of fine brass were filled with palms tied with gay ribbons, such as
were waved in the Roman circus.  Back of the couch covered with wolf
skin was a pedestal wreathed with fresh flowers, and the fragrance of
incense from cunningly wrought metal lamps perfumed the air.

With the coming of Pilate came a retinue of servants and soldiers, and
always guards stood at all entrances inside and out of the palace.  In
the palace of Pilate all was in readiness for the Passover guests
certain to be on hand, for Rome sent many visitors annually to
Jerusalem.  Claudia, wife of the Procurator, herself enjoyed the
impressive crowds that gorged the great city and was out sight-seeing
daily.  On the third day before the great Feast, she returned to the
palace before the time of Pilate's arrival, and pushing aside one of
the magnificent hangings that lent a touch of barbaric color to the
gorgeous apartment, she entered and looked about.

"Margara!  Zenobe!" she called.  At sound of her voice, from behind
another hanging, two slave maidens appeared.  "Take thou my cloak,
Zenobe," she said, uncovering a splendid gown heavy with spangles of
silver and rare lace, "and bring back the jewels that have been under
guard since we left Rome.  And thou, Margara, freshen my hair while I
sit and rest, for Pilate doth come shortly."

"Aye, Pilate doth come shortly--and for Pilate doth Claudia dress her
hair."  The words were spoken softly.

"Yea," Claudia said, laughing, "for Pilate doth bring guests from the
Senate at Rome.  In the court of Caesar have these men oft dined, and
Roman women wear jewels the gods envy.  But so hath Claudia jewels,
rare jewels that have been handed down to her from her grandfather
Augustus and her mother Julia."

Zenobe returned shortly with a closed casket which she handed to
Claudia with a key.  From it ornaments and strings of jewels were taken
and handed to the maid.

"On my arms fasten thy bands and make my throat to sparkle, and when
Margara hath dressed my hair, twine it thick with shining stones."
Claudia rested herself on the wolf skin couch and as the two slaves
dressed her hair and ornamented her body, she talked with them.

"Strange sights I saw in Jerusalem this day.  The city is packed with
odd peoples from every land.  Indian princes saw I from beyond the
Ganges.  African lion hunters, their black bodies bare save for strings
of golden nuggets; Arabians swinging on crimson decked camels;
chieftains from Assyria whose purple cloth was gay with blue and yellow
stones; Scythian savages whose garments were no more than suns and
moons and fishes marked upon their knees, all these I saw.  Aye,
strange peoples making a strange show and a strange babel."

"Yea, and strange tales are about," Zenobe half whispered.

"What tales hast thou heard?"

"No more than that the dead are turned to life."

"A strange tale indeed--too strange, my little maid."

"It doth come from a Roman centurion."

"Hath a centurion died?"

"Nay, but his servant, sick unto death, was restored by a wonder
worker."

"Whence came this wonder worker?"

"He is a Jew.  I know not more, but the centurion telleth it broadly."

"Whence got thou the story?"

"From thy scarred eunuch, my mistress."

"From my scarred eunuch?  And where got he the story?"

"I know not save he hath it."

"Call thou my eunuch to me."

With flying feet Zenobe hastened to obey.  Meantime Margara finished
her work of hair dressing, exclaiming, "Thy hair is most beautiful!"

Claudia arose, arranged the folds of her luxurious train and twisted
several strings of jewels over her bare arms.  She had started across
the shining mosaic floor when Zenobe returned followed by a large and
finely shaped slave with a scarred face.  His swarthy body was scantily
attired.  Claudia gave him recognition, and stopping in front of her he
made low obeisance and then stood straight and rigid as a statue.

"To-day," Claudia said, "I stood in the portico of the Tower of Antonio
from which watch is kept over the Temple of the Jews, and gazed upon
the surging crowds.  Saw I all manner of mankind from infants to
giants, black, brown, red and Roman, and of every kind methought.  Yet
doth my maiden tell me there is one I have not seen--a wonder worker
that is a Jew.  Hast thou heard aught of this?"

"Yea.  A wonder worker is Jesus of Nazareth."

"Never did I hear his name.  Whence came the Jew?"

"From Galilee.  There liveth the centurion who told of him."

"Galilee?  Galilee?  It is somewhere I know not of.  Whence got thou
the story?"

"A slave of the centurion chanced to be in thy palace garden.  He did
tell much."

"How went the story?"

"The servant of the centurion was ill unto death.  The Jew did turn
death to life.  To turn mourning into joy, they say, hath he come into
the world."

"To turn mourning into joy.  A glad mission.  Hast thou heard aught
else?"

"The centurion's slave did tell much."

"What?"

"That the Jews are a strange people.  Long before thy mighty Rome was
dreamed of by the gods, most noble mistress, was the Kingdom of the
Jews great.  In this same Jerusalem was there a temple of pure gold
which did throw back the sun itself into the sun's face for brightness.
And a king sat on a throne of gold.  Wealth had this king surpassing
that of every nation, and wisdom had he so that among the wise of all
the earth none had such wisdom.  Also, had this great people seers and
prophets from whose eyes the veil of time was lifted so that clear as
noonday did their vision behold that which was to be.  And, lo, most
noble mistress, out of the mouths of three soothsayers hath a prophecy
been recorded of a king who shall restore again the throne of their
glory.  This do the Jews believe, aye, as they believe in sun and air.
And it is whispered, most noble mistress, that this wonder worker from
Galilee is the long looked for king.  Ah, that his kingdom might come!"

"What mattereth his kingdom to thee?"

"It doth hold promise of liberty to those in bondage and freedom to
those sore wounded.  It would let men be free, as Rome doth not.  Such
a king would be a saviour, and I would love him, even as I hate Rome!"

"As thou hatest Rome?  Fear'st thou not to speak thus?"

The eunuch moved a step nearer Claudia and threw back his shoulders,
exclaiming, "What have I to fear at the hand of Rome?  Nothing save my
life hath Rome left me, and this I scorn.  By sword or cross or
ravening beast may Rome take my life and I would smile in her face.
Ah, have I not sore scars to speak my hatred?  Here"--and he drew his
finger over a long scar on his face--"here is where the sword of Rome
lay open my face, yea, wide open as the lips of a crying child.  And on
my back, most noble mistress, thou mightest hide thy white fingers in
the welts cut by the stinging thong.  And seest thou my arm?  Here is
flesh cooked sere as the shell of a tortoise.  Thus have blade and
thong and branding iron of Rome marked me with wounds and commanded my
lips to silence.  Yet have these scars each one a thousand silent
tongues crying ever 'Hate!  Hate!  Hate!'  But here," and he threw back
his tunic and placed three fingers over a scar on his breast, "here is
a scar I love.  My life it is--my satisfaction--my victory over Rome
which Rome hath no power to take.  Aye, the victory of this scar, most
noble mistress, Rome with her armies, her spears, her torch nor her
power of stretching writhing bodies on hewn trees, hath no power to
take!  In this I glory!  This is my victory and sweet is the scar to
the heart of thy scarred eunuch."

Claudia moved near the slave and looked closer at the scar.  "It doth
lie snugly near thy heart," she said.  "Thou art a strange scarred
eunuch to call such a one sweet--aye, to call a wound in thy flesh a
victory."

"There is a story, most noble mistress."

"My scarred eunuch hath a story?  I have thought so since Pilate made
thee mine."

"Yea, a story.  Would that my lips might tell into the ear of the noble
Claudia the story of the scar thy late-bought slave doth bear."

"There is yet time before Pilate cometh.  Tell on."



CHAPTER IX

SWEET IS THE SCAR

"Where the blue Aegean washes the shores of sunny Thrace," the eunuch
began, with a far-away look in his eye.  "Yea, in the land of
Sparticus, that bravest of all fighters for the freedom of mankind,
there lived my people and there lived I save when to gain knowledge I
attended the schools of Greece.  Fields had my people where the vine
hung purple as the sky at midnight and grain did we garner golden as
the belly of the tiger hide beside our hearthstones.  Rich was my
father's house in fields, and rich were his sons in wine and stores and
flocks.  Golden were my arms with cunningly wrought bracelets and
around my neck hung gems from far lands.

"But richer than purple wine, or golden bands, or jewels, was the look
of her whom I loved.  White were the arms she hung around my neck, as
milk and ivory.  Pink like the first flush of the morning were the
cheeks my lips pressed.  Dark was her hair and soft like smoke in the
evening, and her eyes shone like stars on the bosom of the sea.  Blue
as the summer sky were the veins that lay like tender lace over her
virgin bosom.  Her breath was fragrant like flowers behind damp stones
and sweet was her voice as the music of waves when rainbow foam kisses
rainbow foam and is lost in one embrace.  And she was mine; and I was
hers and a cot at the foot of a violet hill was ours.

"The sun shone.  The breezes blew.  The flowers bloomed.  The clusters
hung purple.  The grain stood golden.  And then--aye, then came
Rome--Rome the scourge!  Rome the curse!  Rome the wolf!  With fire,
sword, rapine, murder--came Rome!  When the invading army crossed the
bounds we took refuge in a walled city.  Soon we were surrounded by a
forest of glittering spears.  I was an archer on the wall, and we
showered the brutes that hid under the bristling steel.  But their
shields made a phalanx which did toss back our arrows as a bull tosses
stubble.  Against the wall did they hurl mighty stones which did come
with fierce fury, and with a great beam did they batter our walls as a
ram doth batter a thin hedge.  For days did we withstand.  I fought
with mad fierceness, for she whom I loved cheered me from beneath the
wall.

"Then did the enemy without the city throw balls of burning pitch.  Our
men did fight the fire until their hands were blistered, yet came those
balls of fire.  And when flames were consuming us, the gates of the
city were broken and the hand of Rome did have us in its power.  With
many of my fellows was I taken away and made fast to a great tree near
by the tent where a Roman chieftain did collect spoil.  Of the lithe of
limb who were taken captive, some were to be made gladiators, but the
fierce screams of others of my countrymen, mingled with Roman curses,
told of a more ignominious fate than the arena.  For this was I marked.
Fierce was the passion of my bosom that my heritage of the gods should
be sacrificed on the bloody edge of a Roman knife.  While yet I stood
chained did my eye catch a sight that did freeze my boiling blood fast
in my veins, steep my breath in curses and turn my vision to mad
blackness, for into the tent of the Roman chief I saw her carried whom
I loved--she who was mine.

"I tore at the chain until blood did ooze from my flesh.  Aye, and the
gods did see my plight.  My weapons had the hand of Rome taken save a
knife hid in my tunic.  Shortly was I to be taken to the chief to be
robbed of my armlets.  Then did all the gods show me favor, for as I
went into the tent the chief was called out.  Save for the time an eye
doth twinkle was he called out.  Yet I rushed behind the curtains which
did hide the maiden.  Swift were my words as the falcon flies and
gleaming was my blade in my hand ere the words did pass my lips.  And
swift as light falls, bared she her bosom, and here, on the spot where
we had dreamed a little head would lie which should be ours, I drove
the keen blade in deep--deep drove I the blade, kissing her lips.  And
she did laugh--laugh like a happy child and press her lips to mine.  I
drew the dagger dripping red from the heart of my Thracian love and
stuck it to my bosom bidding her strike it hard.  But the stroke fell
short.  Even as the first blood met the blade was I struck low by the
sword of Rome which lay open my face.  Aye, seest thou?  Seest thou the
face of thy slave?  And when he beheld blood bubbling from my face and
pumping from my breast, did the Roman chieftain laugh.

"Aye, how Rome doth love blood!  Rivers of blood!  Seas of blood!  With
the blood of my face dripping on to the blood of my breast I looked
into the face of him who had laughed at my blood, and I did
laugh--laugh in the face of Rome and shout with victorious shouting,
'My blood may'st thou have!  Aye, from a thousand wounds may thou steal
it--shout over it--drink it, if thou wilt!  But never shall the hand of
Rome pollute her whom I loved!  Never shall the feverish lips of thy
foul lust stain her sweet breathing!'  Again did the chieftain smite me
across the head, and darkness came.  When I awoke blood was there from
a third wound, yea, most noble mistress, that wound which did rob me of
man's most sacred possession.  Yet again did I laugh in the face of
Rome, laugh with the joy of a victor and praise the gods, for around
the neck of him who had smitten me would never twine the ivory arms of
her I loved.  Neither would the hand that had made me a thing of wood,
caress the blue veined breast of her who was mine.  For this I love the
scar!  Sweet is the scar, most noble mistress, of thy eunuch's sore
scarred love!  Sweet is the scar!"

During the recital of her slave's tragic story, Claudia had shown much
interest.  "Is there more?" she asked, when he paused.

"Yea, that which doth delight the heart of Rome--the Triumph.  When as
captives we first saw Rome, great was the rejoicing in the city whose
sword rules the world.  With garlands were the buildings gay.  The
streets were strewn with flowers, and the populace was robed in white.
The victor came in a golden chariot with its four white horses and its
stately lictors.  Proud was he in purple robe and crown of laurel and
he smiled as the trumpet tones of the heralds rang out and the populace
shouted praise in thunderous tones.  With the captives and the spoils
of war came I, chained, and the rabble did shout in my face.  So also
did my heart shout.  For far from the marble courts and gilded palaces
that hid the polluted couches of helpless maidens, she who was mine
rested in the dust of Thrace with the winds of the Aegean sobbing where
she lay.  And as these desecrators did exult, so did my heart thank the
gods for the steel of my blade, the strength of my arm and the pale
dead face of my love!  Most noble mistress, I have done.  Dost thou
understand?"

"I understand thou hast been cruelly robbed," she answered.

"Yet have I not been robbed of that which maketh a man to think."

"Hast thou thoughts?  What is the wisdom of thy thinking?"

"On the shores of the sea have I seen the storm make mountains of
water, yet the depths were not moved from their holdings.  Down from
the mountains hath the wind raged and hath fought me for my mantle,
which ever I held tighter.  From the hand of Rome comes the sword which
doth scar and rob and pollute.  Yet it doth not subdue."

"This thou hast observed.  What meaning hath it?"

"Even this.  What the storm can not do with much thundering, the tide
doeth at will.  What the wind can not do with loud battling, the sun
doeth in silence.  What the sword can not do though blood be spilled
like water, the mind of man can accomplish."

"Thou speakest wisdom.  But how doth this put a light on thy scarred
face?"

"A vision hath been given of a kingdom greater than that of Caesar's,
wherein the bruised and beaten and scarred who toil and starve that
idlers may gorge, shall be accounted greater than those who rule by the
might of the sword."

Claudia crossed and recrossed the room several times after the slave
spoke these words, the silence unbroken save by the tinkle of her
strings of ornaments.  Pausing before him she said, "As the tide is
greater than the storm; as the sun is greater than the wind; as the
mind of man is greater than the sword, so shall there be a kingdom
greater than that of Caesar?  Is this what thou sayest?"

"Not I, but the Jew that teacheth in the Temple."

"Hast heard this from his own lips?"

"Thou knowest I have not.  Save as the centurion's slave hath spoken
know I nothing."

Claudia bent toward the slave, so near the jewels swinging from her
shoulders lay on his arm, as she whispered, "Wouldst thou hear the Jew?"

"Ah, that I might--that I might," and the sad eyes of the eunuch filled
with tears.

"Thou hast my permission.  Nay, even more, it is my command.  Go thou
daily to the Temple of the Jews and bring me word."

"Be it permitted a slave of Rome to enter the Temple of the Jews?
Sweet is one scar, but there are no others like it."

"The Tower of Antonio stands guard against the Temple and behind its
frowning walls hides the arm of Rome.  Into one court thou art
permitted to go.  Here if any say thee nay, reply thou, 'I am the
property of Claudia, wife of Pilate.'"

"Thy kindness doth make my heart glad.  With rejoicing will I go and
come again to thee with the wisdom of the Jew."

"Keep thou thy ears open and thy mouth shut.  Understandest thou?  Go
now.  Bring wreaths of flowers.  Thy master, Pilate, will soon come
with Roman Senators."



CHAPTER X

I WOULD SEE JESUS

The busy days immediately preceding the Passover had gone, and on the
eve of the New Year the hush of expectancy brooded over Jerusalem.  The
family of Lazarus, at the time of the evening meal, awaited the coming
of Joseph of Arimathea who was to spend the night with them and with
Lazarus go to offer his sacrifice on the next day.  The rays of the
setting sun shone through the big lattice window and fell across the
table.

"Look at those clouds of flame!" Mary exclaimed.  "Lazarus--Joel--hast
thou ever seen aught more gorgeous?  In my garden I have a lily red
like the sky.  In honor of our guest I shall pluck it."

"Unless he tippeth it over Joseph will not see Mary's red lily," Joel
said as she left the room.

"Where is Mary?" Martha called from the kitchen a moment later.

"Gone to the garden to pluck a red lily," called Joel in answer.

Martha appeared in the doorway.  "Already," she complained, "hath she
plucked lilies when she should have been plucking sparrows.  Now she is
gone again and preparation there be yet to make before we sup.  Mary!
Mary!" she called, turning toward the court door.  When her sister
entered a moment later, Martha said, "Thou dost leave me to do much
service.  Fix thou the cushions at the head of the table where our
guest of honor will be seated."

"Yea, my sister," Mary answered, as she arranged her choice lily in a
vase and put it near the place of the guest.

"Hurry, Mary," Martha urged.  "The sun is down, soon will our guest
appear, and he is rich.  Lazarus doth say the richest man in Arimathea."

"Content would I be with half his possessions," observed Joel.

"To-day in the Temple I did see him," Lazarus said.  "He too is given
to the wisdom of the Galilean Prophet."

"A member of the Great Sanhedrin taken with strange teachings!" Joel
exclaimed in surprise.

"Elizabeth hath declared him the Messiah," Mary said thoughtfully.

"Women are given to vain words," was Joel's answer.  "It is said this
Galilean Prophet is no prophet at all, but the son of a carpenter in a
poverty-ridden fishing town."

Lazarus reflected a moment before saying, "I know not from whence the
King of the Jews shall come to restore again the throne of David, but
if this Jesus is he, and need wealth, mine shall he have."

"Thou wouldst give to him but not to the poor?  A great head hast thou
for business, my friend Lazarus!" and Joel laughed.

"Aye, but for the establishment of the Kingdom, what man of Israel
would not give of his riches, even of his life?"

Further conversation was stopped by a knocking at the door.  Hastening
to answer it, Lazarus opened to Joseph of Arimathea.  He wore the rich
Sanhedrin robe of silk and Egyptian linen heavily embroidered and his
phylacteries were bound on his forehead with wide soft thongs.  His
tall and stately bearing, his flowing beard and official dress gave him
dignity that impressed even Eli who rendered him the usual courtesies
with alacrity.  "Late I am," he said as the servant unloosed his
sandals, "but the highway is thronged with pilgrims getting in for
to-morrow's celebration."

"Glad we are that of all the guests, thou comest to sup under our roof.
Meat is ready.  Come, let us to the table."

With Joseph at the head of the table, Mary by Lazarus and Martha by
Joel, the meal began.  Eli passed bowls of water for the washing of
hands.  Grace was said and then after a second hand cleansing, wine was
poured and thanks said over the cups, after which came the meat, and as
they ate they talked.

"About the Galilean Prophet were we speaking," Lazarus said.

"The young Rabbi is much in the mouths of both Temple scribes and
pilgrims in the street.  Some have praise for his words of wisdom.
Others, stung ofttimes by his rebukes, attack him cunningly.  The way
in which he doth answer those who would entangle him doth please me.
To-day in the Temple he was cleverly attacked by some Pharisees who
drew the attention of a crowd by accusing him of having such speech
with a publican and a harlot as the Law doth not allow.  With few words
did he tell of a man who had two sons.  To the one did he say, 'Son,
wilt thou do a service for thy father?' and the son said, 'Nay.'  To
the other, the man did say, 'Son, wilt thou do a service for thy
father?' and the son did answer, 'Yea.'  And when came time to take
account of the service, lo, the son that had said, 'Nay' had performed
the service, while he who had said 'Yea' had done no service.  This did
the Galilean Prophet tell in the ears of the crowd for the Pharisees
who had accused him.  And then did he say to them, 'I say unto thee,
the publicans and harlots shall enter the Kingdom before thou dost!'"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Lazarus with pleasure.  "The man pleaseth me.  When
hath a Rabbi spoken such wisdom or possessed such powers of
discernment?"

"Are there many in the Sanhedrin who harken to the teachings of this
Jesus?" Joel asked.

"Beside myself none, save Nicodemus who did go to him by night.  Aye,
and it was a hard saying the ears of Nicodemus did hear, for when the
Ruler asked what he should do to be saved, the Galilean told him, 'Thou
must be born again.'"

"Born again?  A man be born again--and thou dost call such speaking
wisdom?"  It was Joel who asked the question.

"The young Rabbi made clear that the birth he teaches is not of flesh,
but entereth in like the blowing of the wind, and hath to do with the
spirit of man."

"Herein is mystery," Lazarus observed with perplexed face.  "I
understand not this being born again.  Mary, thou dost spend much time
studying the mysteries of life as it doth appear to thee in living
things.  Understandest thou how to be born again?"

"I understand not," Mary answered.  "Yet the miracle I have seen.  Once
did I plant in the soil a root, brown like a dead leaf and wrinkled
like a hag's face.  It hath been born again.  Lo--here it is," and she
took the red lily from the vase by Joseph's cup.  "See its glad color?
Smell its rare fragrance?  Here is a miracle, for this that is
beautiful, is only a changed form of that which was uncomely.  A
miracle--yet the secret be with Jehovah God.  Mayhap the heart of
Nicodemus was brown and wrinkled with much tradition and useless custom
until the words of wisdom Joseph doth speak of, seemed but foolishness.
And lo!  A change did come and he findeth Truth in the words of the
Galilean Rabbi.  Thus would he be born again.  The miracle thou
mightest see, but the manner of its doing is hidden in the heart of
Jehovah."

During Mary's explanation of a miracle the eyes of Joseph had been
drawn to her in surprise and admiration.  "Thou hast well spoken," he
said.  "Hast thou heard the words of this young Rabbi whose wisdom is
old?"

"Nay, Father Joseph.  Yet would I."

"Thou wouldst learn much at his feet."

"But knowest thou not it is forbidden by the Law that a woman be taught
that which the Rabbis would withhold?"

"I forget not.  Yet will the Galilean teach thee."

"And glad of a chance, methinks, will he be to break the Law," said
Joel, "for doth he not think himself better than the Law?"

"Say rather 'greater' than the Law," Joseph replied.  "As a prop to a
vine, so is the Law to the weak.  But as the vine doth grow greater
than the prop, because of what the prop hath been to it, is it able to
stand in its own strength.  So there are prophets who have outgrown the
Law.  For such, to live within the Law would be putting new wine in old
bottles."

"Much hath been said of this man," Martha observed, "but none hath yet
told of his garments.  What sort are they?"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Lazarus.  "Martha doth think perchance she may help
Joel sell a new garment."

"Thou dost make merry over a straight question.  Doth not the Law teach
that man is the glory of God, and the glory of man is his dress?"

"And methinks thou knoweth also the saying, 'The dress of the wife of a
learned man is of more importance than the life of one ignorant.'
Hear, Joel, thou learned man?"

"Affright not Joel," Martha replied to her brother, "but tell me
whether the _kittuna_ of this Rabbi is wool or flax, or his _tallith_
handsomely embroidered."

"What weareth this man?" Lazarus asked of Joseph.

"Save for the phylacteries, the plain raiment of a Rabbi with the white
and lavender fringes on his _tallith_ as the Law doth command.  Yet it
is said he hath appeared in the white of the Essenes."

"What matter the color of his fringes?" Mary asked.  "His words would I
hear.  Perhaps I should love him even as Lazarus loveth him."

"And thy gentleness, and strange wisdom for a woman, will win for thee
his love, methinks," Joseph answered.

"Mary is not so gentle as thou thinkest," and Martha laughed.
"Elizabeth did visit in the home of Jesus when he was a little lad.  Of
all she did tell concerning him, that which did most delight the heart
of Mary was the tale of a bloody nose he did give another lad."

"How went the tale?" and rubbing the beard around a mouth shaped for
laughter, Lazarus awaited a reply.

"He did act," promptly answered Mary, "because a large coward did pluck
the hair of a small child which could do naught but weep.  Unafraid
souls my heart loves."

"Ever hath womankind loved bravery," Joseph remarked.  "Well, the
Galilean Rabbi is brave, Mary."

"How brave?"

"Brave sufficient to dare the wrath of the High Priest.  Is this not
bravery?"

"Rather the act of a fool," Joel answered.


When they had tarried about the table until a late hour, the guests
went to their couches.

"To-morrow is the birthday of Israel," Lazarus said after the door had
closed behind Joel and Joseph.  "Now must the house be searched for
leaven that not a speck remain."

Taking up the lamps which were burning low on the table, he fastened
them to long handles.  Martha, taking one of them, went to the kitchen,
while Mary and Lazarus made search in the larger room.

"My brother," Mary said when the last cushion had been shaken and the
last corner searched, "on this eve of Israel's birthday I have a
request of thee.  Wilt thou be Ahasuerus and hold to me thy golden
scepter?"

"What is the request of thy heart, my sister?"

"My heart is burdened with a desire to meet this unafraid yet tender
and wise man thou dost talk of.  I would see Jesus."

"It shall be even so.  To our home shall he be bidden.  When thou
hearest the silver trumpets blowing in the New Year, remember this is
thy brother's promise, and may joy come to thee with the coming of the
Galilean."

"Thou dost give me joy on this New Year's Eve.  A kiss I have for
thee--for pleasant dreams."

"Now am I well paid," laughed Lazarus when his sister kissed him.

"The blessing of God on thee, my brother.  Good night."



CHAPTER XI

ON WITH THE DANCE

While Lazarus and Mary were searching the house with their long-handled
lamps that not a speck of leaven should remain to defile the Passover,
a different scene was being enacted in the Palace of Herod for Pilate
and his guests.  Earlier in the evening the Procurator had entered his
luxurious apartment and casting aside his purple robe had exclaimed,
"The wrath of Jove on Jerusalem.  Save for its size it is not better
than a tomb across Kedron!"

"A tomb?" one of his guests repeated questioningly.  "Methinks it is a
mountain of bees swarming and buzzing.  Never have I seen such crowds."

"People, yea, _people_.  But what are people if they be Jews?  The
tombs lack not a plentiful filling of bones and creeping things."

"When thy stomach hath become a tomb for a cup of red wine, then will
Jerusalem be more to thy liking," Claudia said, and turning to the
guest added, "My lord Pilate doth love Rome much when he is in
Jerusalem."

"Yet even Jerusalem doth seem to be getting Romanized, with her
hippodrome and her trophies of Augustan victories.  Also, there is a
statue of Caligula, and the golden eagle hangs its wings over the
Temple gate itself, while Antonio commands all."

"Yea," assented Pilate, "there are a few images and theatres, but the
atmosphere is heavy with religion--barbarous superstition, as hath
Cicero said.  And fools they are for they worship the unseen.  Greeks,
Egyptians, Asiatics, Romans all have gods, but these dish-faced ones
with beards refuse to pay honor to Caesar and scorn the gods."

"True," the guest replied, "but if there were no Jew, the wit of the
theatre would suffer.  Doth not the wag ever make merry concerning the
god of the Jew which refuseth to be a god unless an inch of skin be
taken where the eye misseth it not?"

Pilate joined his guests in hearty laughter.  "And their ancestral
veneration of the swine, what meaneth it?"

"Perhaps they fear more than venerate the swine."

"Of that I know not, but much fasting doth make them lean enough to
thank the gods for the fat of a swine."

"They are loyal to their god--whatever it is," Claudia said.

"Yea, in dimly lighted synagogues they ever gather, muttering prayers.
Even do they close their shops one day that they may have more time for
more prayers."

"It hath come to my ears that they neither eat nor sleep with
strangers," one of the guests observed.

"In the valley of Gehenna where the stench of their funeral fires doth
ever ascend and the worm ceaseth not to wiggle in corruption, there
would the circumcized rather lie like a dog, than sup with one
uncircumcized.  Aye, a dog is the Jew, and a thief."

"Yet have I heard that they contend to the death for their Law.  Doth
it not deal with stealing?" Pilate was asked.

"Yea, it dealeth with stealing and for it they contend.  Yet they are
thieves beginning with Annas the High Priest.  Into the Temple offices
hath he put all his sons and nephews and kinsmen that through them his
itching fingers may possess all the wealth of the Temple.  The Law of
the Jews is for others than those who make it, preach it, sell it or
trade in it.  Yet for all their sins have these long-faced robbers a
scapegoat.  Over his head do they mumble their sins and then frighten
him away to the wilderness.  And when he is departed, lo, they are as
innocent as babes new-born.  Jove, what fools!"

"Here now are thy spirits coming," Claudia laughed.  "Drink thou and
see if thou gettest not out of the tomb."

Servants with viands and wines entered and placed them on tables near
the couches.  Pilate poured for the guests and then took his own cup.

"Pilate takes a second cup," said Claudia.  "He is moving out of the
tomb."

"Antipas hath not found his Tiberias a tomb yet," Pilate remarked
between cups.

"What hath he done?" a guest asked.

"To a maiden who pleased him with gay dancing gave he the head of a Jew
prophet in a silver platter.  Good use for such head."

"In seven veils did she dance," Claudia added.

"On my soul I would have seen the show."

"My lord Pilate emerges from the tomb," and Claudia laughed as he
poured another cup.

"And for a purpose," Pilate answered her.  "As Antipas hath taken the
pleasures of Rome to Tiberias, so will Pilate bring Rome to Jerusalem
this night for the pleasure of his guests.  Where, Claudia, my love, is
thy maiden whose limbs are like the milky marble Greece boasts and
whose feet fly like the wings of a chased butterfly?  Summon thou the
slave.  Yet stay--not seven veils shall hide her marble loveliness.
Here," and snatching a wreath of flowers from a pedestal he flung them
to Claudia, "bid her robe her beauteous nakedness in this.  Here's to
the dancer whose virgin charms unhidden by such dense and senseless
draperies as veils, shall set our blood racing as blood doth race at
Rome.  Bid the slave come!"

"My maiden doth not choose to come clad only in a wreath," and Claudia
tossed the flowers aside.

"Slaves have no choice when masters do the bidding."

"Thy words sound large, yet hath Claudia a choice for her maiden.
Confusion will take the buoyancy from her supple limbs, and so drawn
will her arms be to her face to hide its shame, that the sensuous swing
thou dost desire will be stiff as the scabbard on thy wall.  Lest she
be veiled my maiden can not dance to do Rome pleasure."

"A veil!  A veil!" shouted Pilate, laughing.

"Give the maiden a veil," the guests added.

"A veil!  One veil--_one_ but not _two_, Claudia.  One veil!" and again
Pilate laughed loudly.

"A veil.  _One_ veil," Claudia repeated, bowing as she left the room.

When she had gone Pilate summoned servants.  "Set the palms to make a
garden," he commanded.  "Call the torch-bearers and make of them a
flaming pathway.  Summon the musicians.  Let there be haste!"

In a very short time the palm grove was in order and a blast of music
sounded.  Claudia returned smiling, and all eyes turned to the
curtained entrance at the far end of the aisle of palms.  The first
glimpse of the little Greek slave was that of a fairy dancing into the
shadowy background.  Her white and shapely body sparkled as if powdered
with diamond dust and the veil that floated about her was woven of fine
and shining threads in rainbow tints.  For a time she flitted up and
down between the palms and rows of torch-light bearers standing like
purple statues, while Pilate and the guests drank to her grace and
beauty and cheered her skill.  At a signal from the Procurator the
dancing stopped.  "Thus doth Greece show her grace," he said to his
guests.  "Now wouldst thou see Rome dance?"

"Yea--but Rome is not Greece in the art."

"Bid thy eunuch to come," Pilate said, addressing Claudia.

Without asking questions, for Pilate was growing too merry with wine to
answer them, Claudia summoned her slave.

"Come hither, thou scar-ridden eunuch!" Pilate shouted as he entered
the place.  "Wrap thy broad back in this wolf hide and take thou a
helmet and spear--so!  Now, musicians, pipe thee a tune that will be
wild like the wrath of the gods.  No music now to make a butterfly
flit, but thunder for the beast that maketh the earth tremble.  Ready!
On with the dance!"

The big slave cast a glance of appeal at his mistress, but she motioned
him to obey.  Then the eunuch, wrapped in the great wolf robe, danced,
heavy and without grace.

"Stay!" Pilate called.  "Ye gods!  Rome was not built to dance.  Thy
legs are like tree trunks, thy back like a ship.  To gain possession of
Greece, this is Rome's glory.  Rome, pursue thou Greece.  Tantalize her
as doth a cat torment a mouse.  Aye, now, slave girl, take to yonder
forest of palms and elude him who follows, for the wolf of Rome is on
thy track.  And thou, oh, Rome, dog thy fair prey, as the sword of
Caesar doth dog that which it would possess.  Away to the woods!  Fly,
Greece, fly!  On with the dance!"

To weird music the girl began an elusive dance in and out among the
palms but ever under the moving glare of a flaming torch.  The eunuch,
like some shaggy monster, doggedly followed her.  After some minutes of
this dancing-chase, Pilate cried, "This is but play!  Rome by the
strength in his arms can pick Greece away from the earth.  Come thou,
Rome and Greece, dance _close_!  Greece--evade the powerful arm that
seeks to draw thee beneath the wolf's tawny hide!  Dance!  Dance!
Dance away from Rome!  Harder!  Faster!  Fiercer!  He comes nearer!
His hand doth touch thee.  Aye--watch!  He comes closer.  Hear his
heart thump with eagerness to seize thee?  Feel his hot breath?  He is
about to seize thee!  He taketh thee, Greece!  Thou art disappearing
under the hide of the wolf!"

As the wild dance neared its end, Pilate became so aroused he rushed
back and forth across the room in imitation of first one dancer then
the other, while his guests roared with laughter.  And when the eunuch
seized the slave girl and gathered her under the thick fur, her screams
were those of honest fear for she knew not what might be in store for
her.  "Scream--scream again!" shouted Pilate.  "I like it.  Aye, to the
heart of Rome stifled by the pious air of Jerusalem, screaming is like
new wine!  Scream once again!"  Again the slave girl's cry was heard
from under the wolf hide.  "Thou doest well.  Come forth and from the
golden cup of Pontius Pilate, held in his own hand, shalt thou drink.
Aye, thou doest well," he repeated as she came toward him.  "To the
heart of Rome screams are dear.  Here's to thy screaming, and here's to
Rome forever!" and he lifted the cup.

"Stay thy hand a moment," and Claudia touched the sleeve of Pilate
lightly as she spoke.

"What meanest thou?"

"Drink thou to Rome, my lord--but _not_ Rome _forever_."

"What meanest thou?" he repeated.

"In days long gone before Romulus had found the lair of the she-wolf,
there lived seers who foretold a king whose kingdom would be greater
than that of Caesar."

"Claudia hath been filching cups, methinks," Pilate said, joining in
the laughter of the Senators.  "Another king than Caesar?  As the
mighty Tiberius would do to a worm that should raise its head from the
dust to sting his heel, so will the mighty Caesar do to him whose voice
be lifted against the empire.  My fair Claudia, thy brain is addled.
Here's to thee, my love, here's to our guests, the Senators, and here's
to Rome--_Rome forever_!  On with the dance!"



CHAPTER XII

ON THE ROOF

The Day of Atonement had just passed and throughout Palestine great
preparations were being made for the Feast of Tabernacles, for the
harvest yield had been rich.  Beginning with the fruits of the oleaster
and white mulberry in the early season, the ingathering of wheat, of
almonds and Beyrout honey, of apples and apricots and corn, of grapes
and of figs, of maize and of pomegranates and dates, of olives and
walnuts, had taken place as the months passed, and now from the
northern bounds of Galilee to the southern edge of Judea and from
Peraea to the sea, pilgrims were ready to set forth with their
first-fruits to be offered in the Temple.  The vineyards and olive
orchards of Lazarus had yielded bountifully, and the laborers had been
accounted worthy of their hire and generously paid.

Martha had been busy putting in her store of corn and wine and now,
late on the last day before Atonement was counting her pig skin bottles
while Eli cleaned the ashes from the big earthenware oven.  "Hath Mary
carried the last of her boughs to the housetop?" she questioned,
glancing into the court.  And without waiting for an answer she
continued, "Such a pile of myrtle and olive and palm branches as hath
not before been used in an arbor hath Mary dragged up the steps, and
made into a bower.  Anna doth build her bower in the garden, but not so
my sister who will have hers set where she can sit under its roof of
leaves and look out over the hills where there are a thousand booths.
And with her harp she sings.  Listen--but Eli, there is a new skin
bottle missing!" and grave concern was in Martha's voice.

  "My beloved is mine and I am his
  Until the daybreak and the shadows flee away."


The words floated gently out on the air from the housetop.  The voice
was that of Mary.

"Mary--Mary!" called Martha.  "A new pig-skin bottle is missing."  And
she started toward the stair steps.  Hearing no answer she hurried
upward calling, "Mary, Mary, canst thou not hear?"

  "Many waters can not quench love.
  Neither can the floods drown it,
  For love is strong as death--"

Mary sang, lightly touching the strings of her harp as she sat under
her bower of myrtle and palm.

"Mary, a new skin bottle is missing!" the housewife shouted in her
sister's ear, "and the foolishness thou singeth doth make thee deaf."

"'Foolishness,' thou sayest?  Once, to me also the beauty of it were
hidden.  But now--listen, Martha--

  "I sat under his shade with great delight
  And his fruit was sweet
  He brought me into his banqueting house
  And his banner over me was love.

Since the Master hath come it seemeth clear.  Is not his wisdom a
banquet?  Are not the wondrous beauty of his words and the tones of his
voice like sweetest fruit and is not his banner of love over us?"

"That shouldst thou know, for since the first time he crossed our
threshold thou hast made thy dwelling place at his feet.  And his
banner of love methinks is large enough for all sorts of women to find
place under, even such kind as would pollute thee by a touch."

"What meanest thou, Martha?"

"No more than I did say.  Did not Joel attend a feast where Jesus had
been bidden?  And lo, as they sat at meat did not a woman make her way
to the feet of Jesus and there sit--aye, a woman of the town?  And did
he not look into her eyes when she was spoken harshly to, even as he
looketh into thine?  And did he not say comforting words to her and
excuse her, saying she had loved much--aye, loved even to her own
damnation?"

"For this alone could I love Jesus," Mary answered, "even this--he
pities womankind, nor thrusts them beyond the circle of his kindness
because they have been weak.  Not of evil cometh woman's confidence,
which, betrayed, maketh her an outcast.  But of goodness cometh
confidence."

"Thy speech soundeth well, but it stirreth not mercy in my heart for
she who sins against the Law."

"Hard and often cruel is the Law.  Dost thou ever think, Martha, that
in the sight of God, to sin against love may be a greater sin than to
sin against the Law?"

"I know not the meaning of thy question.  Dost think I am a Rabbi?"

"Thou hast a right to think on these things even if thou art not a
Rabbi."

"Nay--no right have I, for doth not the Law say a woman shall not be
taught?"

"What the Law denieth, the Master doth allow.  Doth he not ever bid me
sit at his feet and learn?"

"Far be it from me," Martha said, "to say aught against the teachings
of the Master, yet a woman's place is not with Rabbis.  To serve is her
lot."

"Methinks thou didst make this speech once to Jesus."

"Yea," Martha answered, "and thou needst not remind me he said thou
hadst chosen the better part.  Yet have I noticed that neither thy
desire for wisdom, nor his for imparting it, did satisfy his belly.
Even as Lazarus and Joel, doth he take his meat and wine."

Voices in the garden announced the coming of Lazarus and Joel.  Martha
leaned over the parapet and called, "A new skin bottle is missing."

"Hath it been stolen?" Joel asked.

"I greatly fear it hath," she replied anxiously.

When they came out upon the housetop, Lazarus said in a voice of
emotion, "Alas--woe be upon us.  Yea, misery hath fallen to our lot.
Ah, that my soul should have lived to see this evil hour!"

"What hath happened?" Mary asked, resting the fingers that had been
lightly touching the harp strings.  "Hath evil tidings?"

"Alas that this should have fallen upon this household.  Canst thou,
Mary, sustain the grief of thy sister while I do break the evil
tidings?"

"Thou dost distress my soul!" Martha exclaimed.  "Speak."

"A new skin bottle is missing," Lazarus solemnly declared.

After the laughter which followed, Martha said, "Thou, Lazarus, and thy
sister Mary would both starve had not our father saved his mites.  Doth
not our own Solomon teach of the saving ways of the ant?"

"The words of the Galilean Rabbi mean more to Mary than the wisdom of
Solomon," Joel observed.

"The son of David," Mary answered, "was not his heart led of strange
women?"

"Cast not blame on him," Joel said.  "Snared he was by the daughters of
Baal as was our father Adam tempted of Eve."

"Man is queer.  Ever he doth boast of being strong, yet doth he ever
likewise boast of being led astray," reflected Mary.

"Joel," Lazarus asked, "how camest thou in the net of Martha?  Didst
thou walk in, or wert thou dragged?"

"I did walk," Joel answered, laughing.  "But Martha is not like other
women."

"And I did prepare the way for his walking, for much did my heart
desire a man with such beard," Martha confessed.

"Martha's heart hath been drawn out by a man's beard.  What drew thy
heart when first thou set eyes on the Master?" and Lazarus turned to
Mary.  "Thou shouldst have seen her, Joel," he continued.  "Long had we
waited in the Temple for a sight of him and we had turned on to the
porch when Mary did look back.  Then her feet stopped as if turned to
salt and in my ear she did whisper, with undue excitement, 'Look!
Look!  Is that Jesus?'  And I did look.  And behold, the Master stood
with a small child in his arms.  Then did Mary refuse to move forward,
but established her feet on the stones of the portico and with her
hands on my shoulders did she lean that she might see the man.  And
while she did thus lean, he raised his eyes from the face of the child
in his arms and looked straight at Mary.  Dost thou remember, Mary?"

"Some things the heart can not forget," Mary answered, resting her head
against her harp.  "Never will I forget the Master as I saw him first.
Against a white marble pillar carved with lilies he stood.  Behind him,
high against the line made by the portico roof, was the blue, blue
sky--bending as it touched the purple mountains and the green and
silver olive hills.  Straight and strong he stood, and the little one
did look into his face as if there it saw its future.  One of its hands
lay on Jesus' cheek and the other was close hidden in his large hand.
When the child stroked the face of the man and smiled, the man kissed
it, rested his hand upon its head a moment in blessing and gave it to
its mother.  Will I forget?  No, never!"

"And when he did put the child down," Lazarus said, "lo, he did turn
his face toward Mary.  Twice had I asked him to be my guest, yet had
his heart not given assent.  Now he came.  Over Olivet we made our way
in the sunset, and on the brow of the hill we stopped to look back, and
Mary's tongue did lend her voice to praise the Temple."

"Yea, my brother.  Was ever Jerusalem so holy as that night, or the
Temple so glorious?  From the gathering shadows of the deep valleys the
hand of God had placed about it, rose Zion like a towering island of
gold and snow, rearing its shining lines against a burnished crimson
sky and raising its gleaming towers, crown above crown to the stars
above.  Dost remember it, Lazarus?"

"Yea, and why not?  Daily ever had I seen it, and even so, had the
Rabbi, though he did seem to get a new vision of it from thy speech and
face which did so please him."

"And, Lazarus, dost thou not hear it yet--the music of that night?
From the throats of a thousand Levites rang out the evening chant which
did move over the valley on noiseless wings and lose itself in the
gathering night, making all the earth seem blessed.  Canst thou forget
it?  Never shall I."

"Neither shall I forget," said Martha, "when thou didst reach home with
thy guest, Mary.  Thou didst rush upon me with the news so that I upset
a pot of roast and burned my finger, and all for naught save that a
Galilean Rabbi was to sup with us.  Yet did I know the man would win
the heart of Mary when she showed him to her lily bed, as surely as I
did know Zador Ben Amon had lost her by too much eating of bird
tongues, for I did hear him say--'Even Solomon in all his glory was not
arrayed like one of these.'"

"And dost thou yet think on his words of wisdom as we sat at meat:
Great be the mystery of life and great the hunger for Eternal Life."

"Now is Mary started again on speech-making which will begin with the
bones of our fathers and end with the hereafter.  I care not for it.
Let us go, Joel, that we count the pig-skin bottles once again before
daylight has waned."

When Martha and Joel had gone, Lazarus made himself comfortable with
his feet against the parapet and turned to Mary.

"Once I sat with him upon the housetop," she said.

"Yea, Mary."

"The night was still and under the stars did stretch the far dim lines
of the Mountains of Moab.  Of days long gone did he speak--days when
our fathers wandered in search of a Promised Land.  When, from regions
far beyond, the spies of Israel crossed the Moabitish hills, they did
go to the home of an harlot.  Wherefore they went hath not been handed
down.  Mayhap to teach the woman the seventh commandment of Moses.  But
they did go and she was an harlot.  And when their hiding was
discovered she let them over the wall and they escaped.  For this
kindness was her life spared, and when our fathers took the city,
Salmon did wed the harlot.  Then did Salmon beget Boaz; Boaz begat
Obed; Obed begat Jesse; Jesse begat David.  Thus was an harlot the
mother in Israel of whom was begotten Israel's kings.  And is not the
blood of David in the veins of him we love--even Jesus?  It is not
strange he hath ever words of kindness and a helping hand for women
downtrodden by the Law, for as the eye of God seeth good in what the
Law condemns, so doth the heart of the Master, and he hath courage to
speak."

"Yea.  To be with him doth give new visions."

"And great love.  Sometimes when I am with him or my mind traveleth far
paths with him, it seemeth as if God was pouring love into my heart
until it is full to overflowing.  Again it seemeth I hunger for love."

"Thy heart need not hunger for love.  Thou art much loved."

"I know thou dost love me much."

"All who know thee, love thee."

"The Master?"

"Yea, yea--he loveth thee."

"Ah, Lazarus, this is knowledge my heart doth hunger for.  I know he
doth love me for he loveth all women.  Martha sayeth he doth look upon
the women of the street even as in my eyes he looketh.  Joel did tell
her so."

"Joel discerneth not the difference between sympathy in the eye of
pity, and hunger in the eye of such love as constraineth a man to take
one woman to himself apart from all the world even as the wild dove
taketh its mate to the hidden cleft of the solitary rock.  The Master
hath no common love for thee."

"How knoweth thou this, my brother?"

"He is a man.  I am a man.  Hungry he sitteth at meat as a man.  Weary
he resteth his limbs as a man.  Merry he looketh upon the fair arms and
flying garments of dancers at the wedding as a man.  Sad doth he grow,
and troubled, as a man.  With a child held to his bosom the tenderness
of fatherhood sounds in his voice and with thee at his side the
mightiest love with which the Creator hath blessed man, toucheth his
soul.  Did not the Creator so make man that it is not good for him to
be alone?  None but the heathen teach contrary to the Law."

"Thy words are to my heart as a song of Zion to the captives in
Babylon.  Yet would I have a sign from him."

"So do women always want signs," Lazarus laughed.

Mary rested her head against the myrtle twined support of the bower and
looked away to the sky of the setting sun--nor did Lazarus disturb her
thoughts by speaking.  The hush of evening was brooding over the
distant valleys soon to be enfolded in the twilight and there was no
sound on the housetop when, a few moments later, Mary heard her name
spoken just behind her.  A man had come quietly up the steps and
stopped where they opened on the roof.  He wore a travel-stained
garment, carried a staff and held against one shoulder some branches of
flowering green.  "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," he said, as
Mary and Lazarus with a glad cry, sprang up to greet him.



CHAPTER XIII

ORANGE BRANCHES

"The hem of thy garment is heavy with dust and thy feet are torn by
thorns," Mary said with concern.  "Rest thee.  I will unloose thy
shoes' latchet and Lazarus will bring thee drink.  Thou art weary."

"Yea, footsore and weary.  But take thou the branches of orange
blossoms.  All the way from Ajalon have I carried them to make thee thy
festival _lulab_," [1] and he held the branches to her.

"The Day of Atonement did not find thee in the Temple.  From Ajalon
hast thou come?" Lazarus asked.

"Yea.  On the road to Ajalon there is a place of turning that doth lead
over a desert way, and rocky.  But when the end is reached, there is a
valley of springs giving rise to a stream that at last findeth the
Great Sea.  And in this hidden and quiet place where the wild gazelle
feedeth unharmed because there is no shedding of blood, there is a
retreat of the Essenes.  Here was I.  Neither in the Temple nor out of
the Temple cometh At-one-ment with the Father, but in the sanctuary of
the heart, Lazarus.  And it was in this holy place," and the guest
turned toward Mary, "that the air was rich with perfume from a little
grove of early oranges and citron.  Here I did think of thee and
brought thy _lulab_ flowers, though their leaves are faded somewhat."

"Aye, but their fragrance is tenfold, as doth come from broken lilies."

"There is a fragrance that spilleth itself in dying.  In this there is
a hard lesson thou hast yet to learn, Mary."

"If I learn from thee it is not hard."

"Thou knowest not what thou sayest."

"I go to get thee new wine," Lazarus said.

"And take thou the branches, my brother, except one that I keep on the
arbor roof to make the night fragrant like the valley of retreat beyond
the way to Ajalon.  The others put in the water pot by the cistern that
they may be fresh for to-morrow's festival.  And hasten thou back with
the wine."

"Nay, hasten not," the young Rabbi said.  "As I came along the way,
travelers did give me figs and wine so that I hunger not.  Yet when the
moon hath cleared the mountains would I drink with thee thy new wine."

"As thou sayest," Lazarus replied, and taking the guest's cloak and
staff he went below.

"I saw thy face as I stood waiting at the door," the guest said to Mary
when they were alone.  "Thine eyes saw farther than the parapet, and
the vision made thy countenance a very pleasant one.  Sit thee down and
let us look together."

Mary sat down on a foot-stool which he drew to the side of his chair
and turned a smiling face to him as she said, "Often in the heavens I
see sights more beautiful than words can tell.  Look you now, just over
there where the clouds bank low behind the olive tops.  Dost thou not
see fleecy lambs playing on hillsides of ruddy lilies!  And over where
the mountain casts its purple line across the far-off pink--see thou
the pile of marble palaces wrought in such beauty as even Solomon hath
not conceived?  And canst thou not see rosy chariots driving from the
west, the banners of the horsemen streaming and their red and burnished
hair reaching into endless tresses?  But look you yonder!" and she
pointed toward a bank of moving clouds.  "There are such beautiful
clouds as angel wings are made of, and is not that a distant shore
across the sky?"

"Yea," he answered, "and snowy mountains bearing snowy cedars."

"A path of light doth open up between thy snowy mountains," and she
leaned eagerly forward.

"Maybe the Golden Gates of the New Jerusalem that lieth four square are
opening, if thou hast eyes to see."

"Yea--I see!  The clouds are turning into a throng of
children--countless children.  With snowy robes are they wrapped.
Their arms are wings of feathery softness, and white and shining hair
doth blow across their faces!  Aye--how beautiful, and a golden glow
shines over them.  Stay!  Children, stay!" and Mary pressed her hands
together and leaned out across the parapet.

"They are passing," he said, watching Mary.

"Yea, they are passing into the forest of snow and the sea of gold.
But oh, my Master, when hath eye seen a more beautiful sight?"

"Listen!" and he took her hand in his.  "There is music for the passing
footsteps of thy white and shining children."

Together they listened when, over hills and valleys there came,
breathing on the silent air, the thousand throated choir of the Levites
chanting in the Temple.  As the music came to them, sometimes far and
faint and sometimes like a fresh wave on a rising tide, it seemed to
bear them away from the world and themselves, save as they were held
together by the touch of hands.  As the gray of twilight veiled the
lowlands, the red fires of booth-dwellers shone out like vivid jewels
scattered in irregular pattern, and when darkness had fallen the music
ceased.

"My mystery," Mary said softly to herself.

"What is thy mystery?" he asked.

"The way of music with my soul.  It casteth a spell over me so that
sometimes I am moved to laughter, sometimes to tears, sometimes to
great longing, sometimes to a love too great for me.  My mystery!"

"Thy mystery will be no more a mystery when thou knowest that thy soul
is but Waves of Being."

"I understand not what 'Being' means."

"Nor canst thou.  But the way of waves thou knowest.  Whether they run
mountain high or as the smallest pebble stirreth them, yet is there
ever motion, and the one touching the other doth bear the motion to the
farthest bounds.  So do thy Waves of Being in eternal motion make thy
soul's substance."

"Thy words savor of much wisdom, but the meaning thereof escapeth me.
Waves of water my eye can see.  But Waves of Being--alas!  What are
they?"

"Hast thou stood by the mountain path when the grass is burned to
stubble and the stones by the wayside are as ovens?  Hast thou seen
coming from the burning earth such waves as seem to be neither black
nor white nor substance as thou knowest it?  These are waves of heat.
So the light taketh its way, and the sound, though the eye of the body
may not discern them.  The Waves of Being, thy soul's substance, and
the waves of light and heat and sound, be but one power made manifest
in different degree.  And when these unseen waves of melody come to
thee from the Temple and strike against thy Soul, they have but found
their own, and according to their measure do they stir that which thou
callest joy and pain."

"I have seen the waves of fierce heat in the drought time and I have
felt the waves of music breaking over my soul--yet question I, and
doubt sometimes, all things--even God."

"Lift thy face, Mary--look up!  The heavens declare the glory of God
and the firmament showeth His handiwork.  Ask of thyself who laid the
foundations of the earth?  Who shut up the sea with doors and said
'Thus far shalt thou come but no farther and here shall thy proud waves
be stayed'?  Who hath bound the cluster of the Pleiades?  Who hath
loosed the band of Orion?  Who hath put understanding in the inward
parts?  The _inward parts_, Mary, that still, small voice?  Thou dost
not doubt.  That which thou calleth 'doubt' is but the unrest of
growing, for thou dost ever grow in grace and knowledge of the Truth."

"And shouldst not one find wisdom who oft sitteth at the feet of the
Master of Wisdom and who worketh mighty miracles?  Anna hath been to
Nain and hath brought back a strange story."

"How went the story?"

"To the home of a kinsman who owned vineyards near Nain did Anna go.
And in Nain there lived a widow whose lot had been hard, for when her
husband died his creditors came upon her and when they had done, a
Temple lawyer had her one small field and the creditor drove away her
milch goats and all the kids that were her winter meat.  So grievous
was her lot that she must needs fast to save her Temple mite.  Nor was
this the end of her pitiful plight, for her only son, as he was
treading the wine-press, was smitten on the head by the sun, and died.
Anna and her brother went to the funeral to help make mourning, and
never hath she seen so queer an ending to shrill wailing as she saw
that day.  'Ah, if thou couldst have been there,' said Anna.  'From
Endor to Nain was Rabbi Jesus journeying accompanied by many.  Shouting
his praises were the men.  Waving olive branches were the women while
children did pluck bright leaves and scatter across the pathway.  A
merry party it was, singing and laughing.  Then lo, did the funeral
procession make its sad way.  Rough was the road toward which it tended
and gloomy the valley with gaping tombs.  And through this dark valley
did the sad note of the funeral dirge sound and with great sobbing and
wailing did the mourners march beside the bier whereon lay the dead son
of the widow.  Thus did the march of Life and the march of Death make
toward each other and the way was wide enough but for one of them to
pass.  On, on they marched, the one passing to the hilltop and blue
sky, the other to the bat-ridden place of corruption.  When they did
meet, on the bier Jesus placed his hand--a hand throbbing with the life
of a strong man.  And the Death march did stop.  "Weep not," said he to
the weeping mother.  And to the dead did he say, "Young man, arise!"
Then did the eyelids of the dead quiver; the set jaw move in its grave
napkin; the gray face show the tinge of running blood.  Hands stirred
underneath the shroud and the dead awakened.  It was wonderful!  And a
young man that had hold of the bier, when he saw the eyes of the dead
open and the jaw fall apart, dropped his corner of the bier and ran.'
And Anna doth say he is running yet."

Mary's story ended with a laugh in which her listener joined.  "This is
one of the greatest of thy miracles--so they say."

There was a moment of silence.  Then the young man said, "There are no
miracles.  There is only Knowledge, and lack of it.  When a soul is
born of the Spirit, he cometh into the Light.  Of Light cometh
Knowledge and of Knowledge, Power.  And as all life is one life, so is
all power one power.  Power and the Father's will to work bringeth the
consciousness that '_I and my Father are one_.'  There are no miracles."

"By thy wisdom thou doeth away with miracles.  Yet do men call thy
mighty works miracles and dispute much as to who he is that doeth them."

"Who do men say that I am?"

"Some say thou art Elias.  Some say Jeremiah.  Some say John.  Some say
that with a camel train didst thou go to the Far East while thou wert
yet a lad and in the schools of the Magi, far beyond the Punjab valley
and the Indus, did learn to work wonders."

"And some say I am Beelzebub," he added.

Mary made no reply to this.

"And to turn back into its fleshy form a few waves of the universal sea
of life--is this a miracle, think you?  Thy life aboundeth in greater
miracles."

"Methinks ofttimes that love is a miracle."

"Thou thinkest well."

"And oft my heart hath longed to open my lips to thee."

"Speak on."

"Thou art a man--not a youth, neither womanish.  Yet when my eyes did
first behold thee, in thy face shone the love of a mother for a child.
Herein lieth a great mystery to my heart."

"As all life is one life, so all love is one love.  Hath thine own love
never exceeded the bounds of thy understanding?"

"Yea.  Yea," she answered quickly.  Then she paused.

"Say on, Mary," he said, listening with interest.

"Once an infant, brown and foreign, did mistake me for its mother.  And
on that selfsame day did a brood of motherless nestlings do likewise.
Strange sensations came to me, and the strange thought that mayhap
there be one motherhood for all creatures as there be a Father to all
mankind, and the strangeness of my feeling was the heart-throb of it."

"Wilt thou turn thy face to me, Mary?" he asked.  And when she had done
so he said, "Thy feet are on the threshold of the mystery thy heart
wouldst know."

"And wilt thou lead me across?"

"Dost thou love me, Mary--more than all these?"

"Yea, my master, thou knowest that I love thee."

"Wilt thou drink the cup given me to drink?"

"The cup, though I know not what thou meanest, with thee will I drink."

"Ho!  Ho!  Ho!  The new wine cometh," called Lazarus on the steps, and
laughing voices told the two on the housetop that the hour for words of
wisdom was at an end.  Lazarus and Joel brought the wine and the cups.
Anna and Martha followed, carrying trays with sweetmeats and fruit.  In
the moonlight they set a table for a feast and after they ate and
drank, Mary made music on the harp and they sang psalms.

"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting
doors, that the King of Glory may come in," their voices sang in
unison.  Then the women sang "Who is the King of Glory?" and the rich
bass of the men's voices answered "The Lord strong and mighty!"  Ever
and again they sang, until Jerusalem lay dark and the red fires in the
valleys had burned out.

"The night is far spent for one who hath come the way from Ajalon,"
Lazarus said at last.

"Bearing orange boughs," Joel added.

"Yet a sweet burden," laughed Anna as the three men turned to the
stairs.

"My heart is eager for the festivities of to-morrow night," Martha said
as she gathered the cups and bottles.  "Lights will shine and the
silver trumpets blow, and great will be the throng in gay apparel
carrying bright _lulabs_."

"Yet far will the eye travel before it falleth on such fragrant boughs
as these," Mary added.

Anna and Martha laughed.  Before they turned from the housetop, Mary
picked a blossom from the branch on the arbor roof.  "This goeth to my
pillow," she said.  "It is a sign."



[1] Festival branches carried at the annual Feast of Ingathering.



CHAPTER XIV

WITH WHAT EYES

Without the walls of Jerusalem, the hills and vales were dotted with
booths of green.  Inside the gates the city seemed to have burst into
springtime bloom, and the populace looked like a walking garden, for
every Jew carried an armful of green boughs, and in his hand a sprig of
willow to be placed on the great altar.  Many pious ones had witnessed
the early morning service when a priest, entering from the water gate,
brought a gold pitcher full of water from the Pool of Siloam.  At the
sacred altar it was mixed with wine and through silver basins and pipes
sent on its way to Chedron while a thousand trumpets proclaimed the
ceremony.  But it was at night the great crowds thronged the Temple at
the most festive of all Jewish holidays for at this time the Great
Lights were lit, the altar piled with leafy offerings brought by
pilgrims from all Palestine, and the thanksgiving music of the priestly
choir made a glorious shout of rejoicing.

Into the Court of the Gentiles the crowds passed, and up the marble
steps of the Beautiful Gate with its Parian marble sculptured in gold
and set with jewels.  There had been the brightness of flambeau and
lanterns in the outer court, but it was in the Court of Women that the
Great Lights, branching out on high supports, were lighted.  Just
beyond this pillared and shining court and approached by fifteen marble
steps, rose the Nicantor Gate with its titanic doors of Corinthian
brass, more costly than fine gold, and towering to such a height that
the moving throng looked like a line of ants creeping between its
burnished pillars.

In the crowd thronging the Court of Women was Zador Ben Amon, and with
him a Temple lawyer, who passed here and there to hear what the
populace might be saying.  When the people had turned toward the
Nicantor Gate, just beyond which ten thousand candles illuminated the
willow-decked altar, Zador stopped suddenly and stepped aside saying,
"Let us tarry.  I would use my eyes."  After pausing a moment Zador
pointed toward the steps and said, "Look, seest thou the woman with a
man on each side of her?  She weareth white with a veil.  And the one
man is a Rabbi with uncovered head and carrying a staff.  The other
weareth a blue turban with fringed sash on the side.  See them?  Midway
of the third step they stand.  Let us move toward them."

Keeping to the outer edge of the animated throng, Zador soon came to a
place from which, by standing on the base of a pillar he could see over
the heads of the people.  "Yea," he said to his companion, "it is
Lazarus and his sister as I thought.  And at his heels is the other
sister with her man.  Now I will get me on the track of my anklet.
Watch thou my standing place while I call a guard."  Leaving the Temple
lawyer by the pillar, Zador Ben Amon soon found a guard to whom he
said, "The woman in the white cloak and veil who walketh between the
Rabbi uncovered, and the man in blue head-dress, with a sash, hath in
times past vexed me sore because of a lost anklet which she prayed me
to find for her.  Since I have seen her last, good fortune may have
brought her the trinket.  This would I know.  For her right leg just
above the ankle was it made.  Pass thou behind her as she maketh her
way to Nicantor.  There are fifteen steps, on one of these shalt thou
overtake her.  When thou hast done so, lift thou her skirt and--if she
be offended, swear that thou didst it unwittingly.  If she wear not the
anklet, lift thy sword as though thou wouldst open a way for a priest.
If it be there, make haste to tell me and a piece of gold shall be
thine.  I will watch thee from the base-stone of the fourth pillar."

So it happened that as the group from Bethany stood for a moment midway
of the marble steps to look forward to the shining altar and backward
at the surging crowd, some one lifted the skirt of Mary.  "What meanest
thou," she exclaimed, turning to face a Temple guard.  "He hath lifted
my skirt," was her angry explanation as her brother and the Rabbi
turned to the offender.

"Not of purpose did I, but from the press of the crowd," was his answer.

"Nay, with thy hands didst thou do it.  I felt the touch of thy
fingers."

Leaving Lazarus and Joel to have words over the matter, the Rabbi moved
quickly a step higher and cast his eyes across the moving throng to the
outskirts where he saw a thick-set man who wore a royal blue cloak and
gold embroidered head-dress, standing above the others, and looking
with fixed and eager eye at the group on the steps.  Suddenly he became
nervous, moved his body as if some discomfiture had come upon him and
then turned his head slowly.  The next instant he met the eyes of the
Rabbi.  As if he had been struck, he moved down from his foot-stone.
"By the strength of my beard!" he exclaimed.  "Didst thou see the face
of that Rabbi?  Nay?  Such eyes he hath as looketh a hole into the
inward parts of a man.  Of a certainty will he know me again--and I
him.  Come, let us lose ourselves in this vast assemblage and yet go
under the Gate of Nicantor.  I would learn if this is the Rabbi who was
with the woman."

For some time Zador Ben Amon and the Temple lawyer moved with the
crowd.  Now and then they caught sight of the Bethany party and Zador
made comment.  "She walketh by her brother," he first said.  Then, "Now
she is with the Rabbi," and again, "Now she is with both of them.  Yet
I can not determine what I would from this place.  Let us go to the
East Gate that openeth on to the Bethany road.  There the way is narrow
and as they turn toward home the Rabbi will walk with the woman, if
this is their choice."

The last stall on the narrow street toward the East Gate was that of a
pottery molder and baker of small ovens.  Outside his door, which was
now securely barred, stood several large water-jars and behind them a
low table used for mixing clay.  When Zador and his companion reached
this place they stopped and withdrew into the shadows.  "The moon is
rising.  They will not be long coming," he said.  "Whether the Rabbi is
with the brother or the woman, this is the question."

"Thou dost not know him?"

"Nay, nor care I to know a man with eyes like the Great Lights--unless
he is crossing my path with the woman."

"By the hair that lieth upon his shoulders and the staff in his hand he
looketh like the Galilean Rabbi that hath been teaching in the Temple."

"A Galilean Rabbi?  When did this Province of diggers in dirt and
gutters of fish send forth Rabbis?  Thou makest a jest."

"Nay.  If thy eyes were turned more to the study of the Law and less to
thy gold, then wouldst thou know that a Galilean Rabbi hath arisen."

"Now do I know he is a friend of the brother, for the woman is fair and
her ways gentle, nor would she give to a rough and witless Galilean
what she would withhold from me."

"There is a puzzle.  The Galilean is not witless, but hath both wit and
wisdom and speaketh with authority.  Yet came neither his wisdom nor
authority from the Temple.  So did the lawyers and scribes question
among themselves, and we held council.  And to me it was given to
speak, calling in question his authority.  And I did say, 'By what
authority dost thou speak things?  And who gave thee this authority?'
For the moment he did not speak.  Then he lifted up two such eyes upon
me as thou sayest look holes into the inward parts.  And he did say,
'The baptism of John--whence was it?  From Heaven or of men?'  Then did
we see of a surety he had entrapped us, for hard by hung the multitude
that hold John the Baptiser,--whose father officiated in the Temple and
who would have succeeded to the priesthood had he not taken to the
wilderness shouting 'Repent, for the Kingdom be at hand!--as a great
and mighty prophet.  If we answer him saying, 'The baptism of John is
of man,' then would they murmur and throw stones.  If we say, 'The
baptism of John is of God,' then would this man of eyes say, 'Why did
ye not hear him?' and he would claim succession to the Priesthood
through the baptism of John."

"Thy speech doth upset my peace of mind if this is the man and he is
with the woman, for as I live she is curious in her notions and might
be taken with such words.  But they will be coming soon.  Watch well
and look closely."

"Thy words sound pleasant.  But my watch will I keep between the cracks
of the water-jars.  Once is enough to feel defeat by the wit of a
Galilean."

As the Temple lawyer spoke, voices were heard not far down the narrow
street.  Both men stepped behind the jars.  The lawyer sat low.  Zador
dropped on his knees keeping his eyes above the edge of the vessel.
Several groups passed, laughing and talking, when the quick eye of the
lawyer caught sight of the friends from Bethany.  "It is the Galilean
Rabbi," he whispered to Zador.

"Doth he walk with the woman?"

"Yea, following them all.  But they pass.  Look you."

Simon the Leper and two other elders walked in front with staffs.  Then
Lazarus and Anna carrying between them a branch over which they were
making merry, while Joel and Martha followed close, singing bits of the
thanksgiving choral.  Following them and apart, walked the Rabbi and
the woman Zador Ben Amon was waiting to see.

"He walketh with the woman," Zador said to himself.  "With what eyes
doth he look upon her?"

"A veil doth hide her face that only the Galilean may look upon it in
the moonlight," the lawyer breathed softly.

"Doth he hold her hand?" and there was suppressed emotion in Zador's
voice.

"Who knoweth?"

"Doth her shoulder touch his as she leaneth close to hear the words he
speaks?"

"Who knoweth?"

"How doth he hold his arm nearest the woman?" and in his anxiety to
see, Zador raised his head above the jar.  "His words and touch maketh
her face to shine.  Like a sour citron did her countenance glow when I
did try to touch her," he growled.

"Hst!  Hst!  Hst!"

"Where he walketh, there should Zador Ben Amon walk, whispering over
her smiling face.  Yet by all the worms of torment shall not that
Galilean ass take from me the comely one of Bethany!" he muttered.

While the breath of the words yet hung on his lips the Rabbi turned as
if in answer to a call and before Zador could drop behind the jar, a
message had been flashed to him.  And the Galilean smiled.

"God of Abraham!" Zador Ben Amon exclaimed when Lazarus and his friends
had passed through the gate.  "With what eyes doth he do it?  Twice
hath he sent me his mind without words.  As I stood by the pillar in
the Temple did he not say to me, keen as the arrow flies, 'Thou art the
man'?  Now hath he shot again at me such words as lay hold like hooks
of steel in raw flesh.  Thou fool!' he hath said, and in such manner
that now when the breath enter my body, it sayeth 'Thou fool!' and when
it passeth out it sayeth 'Thou fool!'  To the fires of Gehenna with
such eyes!"



CHAPTER XV

THE DEATH OF LAZARUS

An illness had fallen on Lazarus.  By his bedside sat Mary.  The
curtains were drawn, and a lamp burned on a table near by.  Bending
over the couch Mary called softly, "Lazarus!  Lazarus!"  She
straightened up and looked down at the body of her brother with grave
concern.  "Three days," she said to herself, "hath his groaning fallen
heavily on my heart.  Now doth the silence fall with heavier weight.
Yet doth the skill of the physician avail not."  Stepping to the door
she called Martha.  "Through the night I have been with him," she said
to her sister as she came in, "and have done as the physician directed.
Yet even before the midnight cock-crowing did he moan until tears wet
my eyes for his much suffering.  With bath and soothing words did I
minister to him until the morning cometh, and sleep.  But it is not
good sleep."

Hastening to the couch, Martha bent over, calling anxiously, "Lazarus!"
There was no reply.  "I like not this sleep.  It is too heavy--too
heavy.  Rub thou his hands while I summon the physician."

"Aye, but, Martha, three days hath the physician poured potions between
the lips of our brother to no avail.  Let us despatch a swift messenger
for him we love, who hath more healing in his voice and touch than have
all the physicians in Jerusalem.  Beside the couch of Lazarus hath my
heart cried for Jesus."

"Aye, so doth my heart cry out for Jesus.  Yet hath he taken a far
pilgrimage to Peraea.  The physicians of Israel were good enough for
our father and mother."

"Even so.  Yet rest their bones in the tombs of their fathers!  Is this
good enough for our brother Lazarus?"

"Thou dost alarm my heart.  With speed will I summon the physician."

"And send thou to me the servant."

Quickly on Martha's departure Eli came into the sick chamber.  "With
haste lend thine hand to help awaken thy master Lazarus," Mary said.
"Rub thou his feet diligently while I rub his hands."  After a few
moments of effort which brought no response, Mary gave fresh orders.
"He doth not awaken.  Take thou the rue and the pennag and make a brew
over the coals.  Bring it steaming!  Hasten."

"Doth our brother awake?" Martha asked, reentering the room.  "Nay?  A
messenger is well on his way with a command of haste and the promise of
thrice his fee if the physician is swift."

"Thou art wise.  The promise of gold putteth wings on slow heels.  But,
Martha, my sister, would that the servant, Eli, had wings and were
flying toward Peraea.  Through the night as I did watch beside my
brother, I did think of the many suffering ones the Master hath healed.
And not one of them all did he love as he loveth our brother."

"Aye, he loveth Lazarus.  And if death crosses our threshold will it
not be as if death entered his own abode?"

"Lazarus--oh, my brother--wouldst thou lie so silent if the Master
called thy name?" Mary pleaded, bending over the couch.  Then to Martha
she said, "The minutes pass like aged oxen turning rocky soil."

"The physician will not be long coming.  With haste must I set the
house in order."  And Martha hung several garments on hooks in the
wall, smoothed the couch covers, straightened the cups and bowls on the
table, blew out the lamp and pulled back the curtains.  Looking out the
window she gave a short cry, exclaiming, "The sky is red--red as if a
great veil had been dipped in blood and hung across the sun.  Such a
sight in the morning is an evil sign," and her face showed fear.

"I put not faith in signs," Mary replied.

"Since the beginning hath Israel been warned by signs and dreams," and
Martha shook her head in sadness.

"Signs take neither the living nor bring back the dead.  Hand me the
pot of herbs and help me here," and Mary turned to the couch.

"Doth he swallow?" Martha inquired anxiously as she held her brother's
head while Mary tried to administer the dose.

"Nay."

"As well.  There is no virtue in it.  He hath swallowed a water pot
full already.  Evil is about.  The sky is red."

While the sisters stood about the bed the physician, garbed in a long
coat of brown and striped turban, hurried in with an air of importance.
He was followed by a servant carrying a bundle of herbs, some green
sprigs and several cruises of oil.  "What evil thing hath befallen thy
brother since yesternoon?" he asked, going to the couch.

"A strange sleep hath fallen upon him."

The physician turned back his patient's eyelids and looked carefully.
"Evil spirits are about," he announced.  "When the medicine I did leave
yesterday drove from his veins the devils of fire, then did demons of
sleep rush in.  So doth he sleep."

"Canst thou awaken him?" Mary asked.

"By my rare skill I can.  Pour out thine oil," this to the servant,
"and set forth the herbs.  Mix thou a bitter potion and I will
administer a prayer."  From a wallet the physician took a small paper
which he rolled into a pill between the palms of his hands.  The pill
he dipped in a bowl.  "This is to dispel evil spirits," he explained.
"Make fast his head while I push the prayer between his lips."

Mary and Martha raised the shoulders of Lazarus, and the physician
tried to force the pill into his throat.

"Even of his mouth have the evil spirits taken possession," he said,
failing to force open the set teeth of the man.  "Bring the oil."  Then
followed an elaborate anointing while the physician tried to rub in his
prayers.  Meantime several neighbors had entered the room and while
Mary watched eagerly for the awakening of her brother, Martha stepped
to the door to tell in anxious whispers of her brother's serious
condition.

"Evil spirits have taken entire possession," the physician told the
sisters when no sign of life responded to the oil bath.  "There be yet
one manner in which evil may be driven from thy brother.  Wilt thou
give of thy abundant hair, Mary?"

"Of my hair?  Yea, thou shalt have all--even my blood for my brother
Larazus."

"Seat thyself and bid thy servant to give me a plait of thy hair.  And
thou, Martha, bring me a knife wholly of iron and have thy man-servant
in readiness with an ax."

Mary sat down on a stool and unbound her hair.  In the middle of the
back a plait was made, and this was cut from her head.

"Evil are the spirits that have taken possession of the master of this
abode and fierce must be the contention of the angel of the Lord else
they accomplish their dark desire.  Pray thou who standest about this
bed and seest the knife bound in this hair, that the path of evil
spirits be cut off."  Taking the iron knife which Martha handed him, he
prayed over it, tied Mary's hair about it, uttered another prayer and
turned toward the servant who had appeared with an ax.  "Take thou this
to the valley.  Find there a thorn-bush aside from the pathway and
there tie the iron knife by the hair of Mary and repeat the scripture
which is on the scroll I give thee, and as the Lord appeared in a
thorn-bush to Moses, so shall he appear again.  And if thine eyes be
holden that thou seest not the flame, yet will it of a surety be there,
this being the sign--the bush be not consumed.  Then shalt thou turn
aside as did Moses when the Lord commanded him to take his shoes from
his feet, for so shalt thou be on holy ground.  And when thou hast hid
thy face a sufficient time for the angel of the Lord to find thy iron
knife to destroy the evil spirits, then shalt thou turn again to the
bush and cut it down.  Go thou, and hasten."

"How long ere thy skill will waken our brother?" Martha asked anxiously.

"Until the angel of the Lord doth overcome the demons of disease."

"Aye," said Mary, "but the time passes and the sleep of our brother
deepens."  She bent over the couch and taking the hand of her brother
called softly, "Lazarus!  Oh, that the Master was here!  One touch of
his hand--one sound of his voice would be enough!"

"Who is this to whom thy sister's heart calleth?" the physician asked
Martha.  "Some magician?"

"The Galilean Rabbi--Jesus," she answered.

"Him they call 'Jesus of Nazareth'?"

"Even the same."

"He is an impostor.  Away with him!  To whom hath it been given save to
a physician to cast out evil spirits with his pills and potions?  Thy
sister doth behave foolishly."

While the household was engaged about the bedside a party of mourners,
having been told by the servant of the condition of Lazarus, gathered
about the door seeking information.

"A terrible and deadly evil hath lain hold of the master of the house,
a young man rich and noble," a neighbor said.

"What sayeth the physician?"

"A deep sleep hath fallen upon him from which neither the voices of his
sisters nor the skill of the physician can awaken him."

"Thou sayest he is rich?"

"He hath vineyards and olive orchards."

"His sisters love him much--much will they pay for loud mourning."

"Yea, much they love him.  Listen how Mary doth entreat him to answer
her and Martha doth plead with the physician."

"Aye, aye," the mourners answered, nodding, "They will require much
wailing."

At the bedside the sisters hovered, making frequent appeals to the
physician for help.  "His hands are getting cold!" Mary suddenly
exclaimed.  "And the cold creepeth upon him," and she rubbed his arms.

"He groweth cold?" asked the physician.  "Then did not the iron knife
cut off the way of the evil spirits.  Hath there been a sign?"

"A red sky," Martha answered, fear showing on her face.

"When?" and there was eager interest in the physician's voice.

"This morning," replied Martha.

"Thou shouldst have told me," he said sternly, "that my oil I might
have saved."

"Now do I send for the Master," Mary announced with decision.  Turning
to the door filled with neighbors and mourners she said, "A messenger!
Is there among you one fleet of foot?"  A lithe youth pushed his way to
the front.  "My blessings on thee, and a purse of gold if thou make thy
tracks like that of a roe before a beast of prey.  Fly thou to Peraea.
Take thou the road by the upper ford and follow on past Bethabara.  As
thou goest inquire for the Galilean Prophet and when thou hast found
him, this say, 'Him whom thou lovest lies sick unto death!'  And when
he shall ask who sent thee, naught say save 'Mary.'  Hasten thee!  And
God give thy feet wings like the eagle!"

"Thy brother will be dead before thy messenger gets beyond the brow of
Olive," the physician announced.

Throwing herself by the couch Mary cried, "Brother--my brother!  Speak
thou to me--just once more speak thou thy sister's name!"

"No more shall his lips be opened till the Judgment Day," the steady
voice of the physician replied.

"Hearest thou not my voice?  I am thy sister Mary.  God of my fathers!
Dost thou not hear?"

"Closed be his ears until the trumpet of the dead shall sound," was the
comment.

"Thou dost not mean Lazarus sleeps the sleep of the dead?" Martha cried
in pain.

"By evil spirits hath my unfailing skill been set at naught.  Thy
brother sleepeth the sleep of death."

"No--no!" sobbed Mary, as the physician turned to collect his oil and
herbs.  "Lazarus is not dead!" and throwing her arms around Martha down
whose face tears were streaming, she cried over and over, "He is not
dead--he is not dead!"

While the sisters were giving way to their grief, the mourners filed
into the room.  Some had cymbals, some flutes, some pieces of sackcloth
which they put over their heads before turning their faces to the wall.
"Alas the lion--alas the hero--alas for him!" wailed the mourners.
"Woe!  Woe!  Death hath entered into the place of the living and hath
taken the flower of its strength!  Oh, grave!  Oh, tomb!  Hungry art
thou!  Woe!  Woe!  From the garden of woman's smiles hath he gone to
darkness and the bat.  Corruption hath gathered him to its bosom!
Weep!  Howl!  Never shall he return to the place of the living from the
place of the dead!"

Before the mourners had finished their lamentations, the body of
Lazarus had been wrapped in a sheet and was being hastily borne from
the house.  Following the body, with her arms around her sister, Mary
sobbed, "If the Master had only been here, my brother had not died."



CHAPTER XVI

HE CALLETH FOR THEE

Three days after the death of Lazarus, Mary sat alone in his room
beside the empty couch, which was turned upside down, as were the
chairs also.  The clothing that hung on the wall was covered with
sackcloth and the tightly drawn window curtains were banded with black.

"Art thou ready to go to the tomb?" Martha asked, coming to the door of
the room.  "Soon will the mourners come from Jerusalem and great will
the weeping be at the grave of our brother.  Where is thy sackcloth?"

"Neither sackcloth nor ashes have I put on.  Only to think, come I to
this silent room."

"Knowest thou not it is yet unclean?"

"Uncleanness cometh not from the passing out of those we love.  Only to
keep the Law, observe I the mourning rites.  Yet in my quiet do I
think."

"Scarce four days is our brother dead and thou art at thy old habit of
thinking.  Wilt thou never learn thinking is not to tax a woman's time?
Wouldst thou take from men their rights?"

"Methinks thinking is proper for whoever hath power to think.  Why
shouldst not a woman think if by so doing she can find answer to some
question that doth perplex her heart?"

"Thou dost ever make thy way seem right because of fair speech.  But of
thy thinking what cometh?  Here hast thou sat thinking by the couch of
him who lieth in the tomb.  Hast thou thought anything that is of
service?"

"Whether it is of service I know not.  But of my thinking doth it come
to me that it is not wisdom to seal the dead in tombs when the breath
hath scarce left the body.  They carried our brother to the garden and
laid him on fresh earth as is done with things unclean.  There did they
trim his beard and cut his nails and wrap him.  And before the sun went
down he was put in the tomb behind a great stone that scarce a score of
men could roll aside."

"Much thinking and much grieving doth make thee foolish.  Know you not
that the Jew wanteth not corruption in the house after the sunset?
Even the air were not enough to hold the evil spirits that would come
of it."

"The Jew hath strange ideas about evil spirits and greatly fears
something he knoweth not of.  Thus doth fear early seal the dead in the
tomb--and perhaps they are not dead."

"Thou speakest strangely, as if thy trouble hath gone to thy head."

"Fear not for my head, Martha, since from thy lips did I hear the
strange tale that did give rise to my thinking.  Didst thou not tell of
a kinsman of Joel who put his wife in a new tomb and sealed the door
with a great stone?  And what was it that did leap into their arms
when, after three years, they rolled the stone away?  Was it not the
bones of the woman who had been buried alive?  And had she not stood
with her lips against the stone crying for help until she starved?
Aye, and she stood on, waiting for those to come who should learn from
her bones what her lips had prayed to tell.  Didst thou not repeat me
this, my Martha, even to the screams of those into whose arms the
woman's bones did fall?"

"Thou sayest truly.  But save this one, my ears have not heard so
gruesome a tale."

"What might happen once, might come to pass again.  Who knoweth if
there might not be others--who knoweth?"

"Did not the physician say Lazarus is dead?"

"Yea, the physician."

"And the Rabbi?"

"Yea, the Rabbi."

"And did not the chief mourners whose business is ever with the dead,
speak him dead?"

"Yea, the chief mourners."

"Then why inviteth thou misery to thy heart?  God of our fathers, Mary!
After these days our brother stinketh!  Wouldst thou court the woes of
corruption by opening the tomb?  Arise!  Wrap thy veil over thy face.
The mourners will soon be coming."

"Nay, I go not.  Even before the Master's teaching brought me wisdom
did my heart oft question the gain of lamentation and disfigurement,
the soiling of the hair with ashes and the itching of the flesh with
sackcloth.  What is the use to turn beds upside down, to shut the
sunshine out with black and give voice to naught but howls and wails?
Bringeth this back the dead?"

"Thou art queer at times.  Wouldst thou do away with our ancient
customs?  Since the days when David did wail in sackcloth for his son,
hath Israel so done."

"If there be not reason in customs, wherefore hold to them?  Is it
forbidden the Jew to gain wisdom in a thousand years, or must we ever
follow custom for no other reason save that we follow?  Dost thou not
believe in the resurrection as the Master teacheth?"

"I believe my brother shall rise again in the resurrection at the last
day."

"Then why much fruitless mourning?  Oft to my mind come the words of
the Master.  In the quiet of the garden did he tell me of the time his
father Joseph fell asleep in death, and his words to his mother bore
her up with comfort.  When I am alone, in my heart, I try to seem as
the mother of Jesus in her trouble, and take to myself his words to
her.  Aye, Martha, if the Master had been here what comfort would have
been ours.  Didst not thy heart call for him?"

"I did wish for him, yea.  But forgettest thou the kindness of Joel?"

"I had no Joel--but listen, Martha.  Afar I hear the sound of mourning."

"It is our mourners coming round the hill from Jerusalem," Martha said
after listening a moment.  "Many friends and a fat purse getteth much
mourning.  Wilt come?"

"Nay, I like not hired mourning.  It seemeth but noise.  Here I will
stay and let my tears drop where they will not be counted by the
passer-by."

The sound of flutes and wailing voices, which before had seemed far
away, came nearer.  Martha drew her veil across her head as she turned
in the door.  "I go to join the mourners at my brother's tomb.  When
thy friends ask of thee, what reason shall I give?"

"Tell them weariness hath overtaken me and I would be alone."

"Is there none thou wouldst see?"

"Nay, not one," Mary answered softly.

As Martha passed down the steps the sound of the mourners came from in
front of the door.  A moment they paused, then went wailing on to the
tomb.

"I am alone," Mary sobbed as quiet again fell over the room.  "Martha
hath Joel and when the mother of Jesus did pass through the Valley of
Separation, did she have him whom my soul loveth?  Oh, that I might
have felt the pressure of his strong hands around mine when the fingers
of my brother grew cold and weak!  Oh, that I might have heard his
voice speaking sweetest comfort when the voice of my brother was hushed
in death!  Oh, that Jesus had been here!  And my heart is sore because
he came not.  Urgent was the message and swift delivered, yet have two
days passed and he tarrieth yet in Peraea while my heart doth break
with loneliness!" and she threw herself down beside the couch.

She had lain but a moment when Martha from the outside called, "Mary!
Mary!"  There was no response from the quiet room.  "Mary!  Mary!
Mary!" shouted Martha joyfully, just outside the door.

Mary arose in haste.  What had come over Martha who had only now left
to go mourning?

"Mary--Mary!" and in her eagerness Martha forgot that the room of
Lazarus was yet defiled and ran across its threshold crying, "The
Master hath come!"

"The Master hath come?" Mary exclaimed, springing toward her sister.

"Yea, yea!  The Master hath come and calleth for thee!"

"For me--he calleth for _me_?" and Mary's voice was vibrant with new
life.

"Yea, for thee.  Aye, not even of Lazarus whom he loveth did the Master
make inquiry, but taking me aside did he ask of 'Mary,' and biddeth me
hurry to call.  Hasten thou?  The Master waiteth!"

Transfixed with joy for the moment, Mary folded her hands and lifted a
shining face heavenward, saying again, "The Master hath come and
calleth for me--for _me_--for _me_!"  Then she caught up a veil and
followed Martha hurriedly from the room.



CHAPTER XVII

THINK ON THESE THINGS

The scent of freshly turned earth, mingled with the fragrance of citron
blossoms, hung on the air as a woman from a Galilean fishing town made
her way around a hill-path that overlooked the highway and entered into
it a little farther on.  It was the time of plowing and sowing in
Palestine.  In a field close by, a sower with a basket on his arm
scattered the seed broadcast.  Farther down the hillside a peasant was
beating his seed into the soil with branches and thorns, and in the
valley could be seen a flock of goats being driven back and forth
across the field to cover the seed.  But the woman was not interested
in the sowers.  On a stone near a clump of citron she sat down to watch
the long roadway for a first sight of one beloved.  Months before he
had bade her farewell and had journeyed to Judea.  In his own Galilee
he was accounted a great and mighty teacher and wonder worker and
gladly had his message been heard by the common people who followed him
in throngs and oft would have proclaimed him king.  But from Jerusalem
had come conflicting reports, and it was with a strange hope and a
strange fear the woman waited his return.

The sower with the seed bag had gone and the birds had come in his
place; the thorn branches had been cast aside by the man on the hill
and the goats were being driven from the valley field, when the figure
of the woman, who had been sitting like a statue on the gray stone,
suddenly became animate, and with eager step hastened into the highway
to meet an advancing pilgrim.  Wearily he came as if even his staff
were too great a burden, until he saw the woman.  Then his pace
quickened.  With outstretched arms she greeted him, crying in joy, "The
God of our fathers bless thee, my son!"

Tenderly he embraced her, pressing the kiss of peace upon her cheek and
saying, "Blessed art thou among women!"  Then putting her away he said,
"Is all well with thee, woman--my mother?"

"Yea, save that my heart hath grown hungry to starvation for a sight of
thee, my beloved son, and anxious have I been to hear news of thy
pilgrimage throughout Judea and beyond the Jordan.  On thy long
journey, thou hast found friends, and rest and love?"

"Friends and rest and love," he repeated, and the expression of
weariness on his face gave place to a smile.  "All these I found under
one roof, which was to me a home."

"And who were these kindly ones and generous?"

"A young man, Lazarus of Bethany, and his two sisters.  And the one of
them is Martha, much given to cooking fine meats and sweeping for dust
where it is not."

The woman laughed and asked of him, "Doth this Martha love thee?"

"Yea, as she loveth her brother."

"And the other sister, doth she too brew gravy and seek the dust?"

"Nay.  She doth make lilies grow and seek the pearl of greatest price.
At my feet hath she chosen the better way than that of meat and drink.
She is born into the Kingdom."

"Doth this sister, too, love thee?"

"Doth she love me?" he repeated.  But he made no answer save as it was
written in the face he turned toward the distance beyond the plowed
fields.

"What is her name?" his mother inquired very softly, lest she dispel
some pleasant thought.

"There is but one name."

"But one name--and yet a world of women?"

"Mary," he repeated, as if to himself.

"Thy mother's name," and the woman laughed for joy.

"Yea--my mother's name."

For the time of a short walk the light of glad memories shone in the
face of the pilgrim.  Then the expression that told of a heavy burden
came again.  "Like sheep without a shepherd are my people scattered,"
he said wearily, "and there is no Zion.  Rome alone is ruling there
through the Imperial Legions housed in the Tower of Antonio, over
against the city of David.  Even the Sanhedrin hath turned wolf-hearted
so that for gain the people are fleeced like the ewe lamb, and with
none to succor--and my Father's house hath become a den of thieves."

"Even so do I remember," the woman replied sadly.  "When thou wert my
tiny one close to my breast, I went to the Temple with my offering of a
dove.  And lo, in the Temple were sellers of doves.  One stopped me who
said of my offering, 'It hath a blemish.'  And forthwith I was sold one
thrice blemished.  Yea, I remember, for they took from me my last penny
for the ill-favored bird and at a dry breast didst thou, my little one,
struggle that night unsatisfied.  But thy great and wondrous
teaching--thy new commandment that is to bring the Kingdom, will it not
make all these things right?"

"Nay, woman, nay.  New wine in old bottles doth but burst them.  So
will this new law of love, this new law of justice established in man's
heart, burst the old customs that hold men in bondage.  Then much
fasting, long prayers, much saying of 'Lord!  Lord!' will avail
nothing, but only man's duty to his fellow man.  For how can man love
God whom he hath not seen, if he fail in duty to his brother?  For this
teaching in the Temple did those pious assassins of the Temple take up
stones to kill me.  Herein is my heart greatly troubled.  I preach the
gospel of love and of justice; but bran for the belly and stripes for
the back beget brute creatures that know not how to love.  Neither can
he love who withholds all save bran, nor stays the hand that holds the
scourge."

"My heart catcheth the sadness in thy face," the woman said softly as
the young man looked out into the gathering dusk.  "And a fear doth
pain me lest my merry child hath gone from me forever.  But yesterday
thou wert my little one.  When first I heard thy cry, e'en though thy
cradle were a manger, it was as if angels sang, and the pressure of thy
lips against my breast brought to my heart great joy as if the glory of
the motherhood of all the ages were mine.  When thou didst learn to
walk, thy baby feet made sweet music and thy wee hand on my cheek oft
drove away heartache.  When thou wert older, thou went to the fields
with me.  Dost thou remember the sloping hillsides red with lilies in
which thou didst roll thy body?  And at the seashore--rememberest thou
the little tracks so soon washed away?  And dost thou remember thy
first visit to Jerusalem and the valley of weeping where the dark
streams issued from the crags and many tombs were hewn from rocks?
Here it was we camped and thy father and I did miss thee.  And dost
thou remember the questions thou wert asking when we found thee in the
Temple?  Many times had thou asked them to me before.  And
Nazareth--doth thy heart remember thy playmates--Jael and the others?"

"Jael?  Yea, verily I remember Jael."

"Often I think of those days and remember that then, even as now, the
question oft asked was, 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?'"

"A cruel question and senseless.  Can any good thing come out of hunger
and cold and fear of the Law?" he asked quickly.

"Ah, the long struggle--the bitter struggle that the poor know.  Toiled
we not from sun to sun, yet ofttimes was our table bare of honey and
fat, and my heart ached that thy tiny garments must always be thin and
patched, that thou, my little Jesu, should be poor of the poorest."

"Poor?  Nay, rich was I above all others, rich in the love of thee, my
mother!  Woman, the richness of thy love hath blessed my life and
through my life, thy love shall bless the world."

There was a moment's pause.  Then the woman said in tones of reverence,
"Yea, I love thee--love thee!  And when thou art far away, all things
speak of thee, ofttimes with sadness.  As I lay on my roof alone, the
waves that roll nightly against the near-by shore seem sobbing--ever
sobbing under the silent stars for that which can be no more.  And as I
journey over the paths where once thou wert with me and thy hand lay
close in mine, the mourning dove calling from the cleft of the rock
bringeth to my heart the pain of unutterable longing for days that be
gone forever.  Before thy ax and tools wert laid away thou didst make
many things, one day a cradle--the next a bier.  And between these two
doth all life lie.  Life, like the red lily--yesterday a bud hidden in
its green; to-day a flower reaching toward the sun; to-morrow a dried
leaf waiting for the oven.  As I think on these things I grow sad and
fearful.  Yesterday the throng would make thee king.  To-day those of
the Temple would stone thee.  To-morrow--to-morrow it may be the crown
and the Kingdom--or--it may be--"  The woman's voice which had been
growing unsteady, ended in a sob and she hid her face against the
shoulder of the young man.

"Weep not, woman, nor fear thou death," he said reassuringly.  "Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground
and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Hast thou not often thought of this as thou hast seen the sower and the
reaper in his season?"

"Aye, of the Kingdom thy words be comforting.  But to my heart thou art
dearer than e'en the Kingdom."

"Fear not death.  Death is but change.  Change is but growth.
Growth--ah, growth is life.  Didst not the infancy of thy babe give
place to the childhood of the boy who played in the market place?
Didst not childhood drop into the silence of the past as the youth
swung his ax on the hills of Nazareth?  And the days of the
carpenter--are they not dead days?  Is not the bench of the carpenter
deserted forever?  Aye, hath the babe, the child, the youth all gone
that the man may live.  And to-morrow will the man pass to yet another
higher form in my Father's plan of more Abundant Life.  Verily, all
that hath gone on before must die that that which is, may live.
Verily, that which is, must die, that that which is to be, may be.  But
ever the thread of Life goes on unbroken and always upward on the way.
Whilst thou liest alone at night and the waves of Galilee make moaning
in thy heart for that which can never return, think on these things."



CHAPTER XVIII

THOU ART THE KING

The sun cast its rising brightness over the Sea of Galilee which lay in
its rock- and sand-bound bed, quiet as if yet asleep and blue as the
cloudless sky hanging over it.  Against the blue of the sea and the
blue of the sky, the figure of a man, who stood close to the water's
edge, was sharply silhouetted.  For a time he stood with folded arms
looking away toward the distant coast line.  Then he turned and cast
his eyes on the near-by shore reaching away from his feet in every
direction.

In the slanting rays of the rising sun, this bit of beach looked like a
monster honeycomb, each shapen place the broken track of a human foot.
It was here the day before, Jesus of Nazareth had talked to a vast
concourse of people.  So insistent were they in getting close to him,
he took to a boat, and even then men crowded knee-deep into the quiet
water to hear his teachings, so strangely different from that of the
Temple priests.  All sign of the multitude was now gone but the far
reach of footprints.  At no great distance from where the lone man
stood, a pile of rock jutted into the water behind which was a secluded
spot known to the man on the shore and to which he now went, making his
way around the point on half submerged stones.  Farther down the shore
was a line of rushes and willows growing by a wady that in wet season
turned a small stream into the sea.

The man who had sought seclusion behind the pile of rock had scarcely
found time for meditation or for prayer, when a second figure came upon
the sand, the figure of a woman.  As she approached, the stillness was
not broken by so much as the call of a bird.  Yet the man behind the
wall of rocks moved that he might watch her, yet himself remain unseen.
Slowly and painfully she moved the burden of a wasted and diseased body
toward the water's edge, looking about with the caution of a wounded
beast.  One of her arms was covered with sores.  The knee joint of a
leg, around which she put both hands from time to time, was swollen to
great size.  Her eyes were sunken in a colorless face.  Her hair was
thin and uneven and her garments were tattered and stained with soil.

Reaching the edge of the water she sat down, putting her leg in place
with her two hands.  Then she began digging in the soft sand and soon
there was a bowl of water before her.  She bathed her face and poured
water on her sores.  Again she looked cautiously about and listened.
All was still.  She hurriedly drew off her bodice and put it in the
bowl of water, but before she had finished cleansing it she was
startled by the sound of a dipping oar quite near, then from behind the
line of rushes a small fishing boat came into view.  Folding her arms
across her breast and bending low to hide her nakedness, the woman in a
shrill voice cried, "Unclean!  Unclean!"

The fisherman instinctively pulled away a little, lifted his oar and
stopped.

Again the voice, now half sobbing, called, "Unclean!  Unclean!  Oh,
Jael--I am unclean!"

The fisherman gave a start and cried, "Who art thou that doth call
'Jael' in the voice of one dead?"

"It is Sara."

"Sara is dead--by bitter hemlock did she die."

"Yea, Sara is dead.  Yet not by bitter hemlock.  By the living death of
an issue of blood which is worse than leprosy hath Sara been buried
from the clean, though she yet liveth."

"God of my fathers!"  The words rang out on the stillness as an
accusing yell.  "It is Sara speaking from a living tomb.  Whence hast
thou come?"

"To the place where soldiers are quartered in the household of Herod
was I taken.  Here were many other maidens.  Some there were whose
tongue I knew not.  But on the faces of them all was one speech
written, one fear and one prayer for death.  Here were we searched to
the skin.  Here was my hemlock taken.  Here did Herod walk forth and
when he did see a maiden that well pleased him, to the palace she went.
But not I.  By those of brutal force was I taken.  And when I was no
longer fair, my strength had gone and the issue of death had come upon
me, then was I cast out.  Since, have I wandered, feeding on what the
gleaners left and where the fruit grows wild and the springs cast up
their water.  To-day I came to wash my garment that doth pain me by its
stiffness.  Then comest thou and I am covered with shame.  Once I was
clean as my love for thee, but now--oh, Jael--go back!  Go back!"

"Nay, but I will take thee first across the water to the country of the
Gadarenes.  The outcast of Gadara be better fed than dogs, for in the
place of caves and tombs do they congregate and bread be carried
thither more than the crumbs cast to the unclean by those making much
prayer in Israel.  Go hence."

"Nay--nay!  The screams of the tomb-dwellers hath come across the water
to my ears at night."

"These are maniacs chained to rocks."

"I go not.  Though I be unclean, would I be free, lest when my misery
go to my head, I too be chained to a rock.  Alone will I wander.  Get
thee gone, my Jael--get thee gone that I may draw my garment from the
water and hide away from the light."

"Thou shalt have my garment," and he snatched his upper garment from
his body and, hastily paddling to the shore, spread it on the sand.

"The blessing of God on thee, Jael--Jael who was once mine," she
sobbed.  "When the rains fall cold will it warm my body as thy love did
once warm my heart.  Haste thee now--hast thee away, once my beloved.
The sun rises; soon the fishermen will gather and stones will be my
portion.  Wilt thou go?"

"Yea, Sara, when thou lettest me know by whose hand this evil hath come
upon thee and me."

"By the hand of the soldier who smote thee into sleep and weakness and
stole me by force."

The face of the fisherman turned livid with anger.  His fingers
twitched and his breath came hard as he drew from under his skirt a
shining blade and held it aloft shouting until the rocks gave back the
echo of his voice, "Look thee, Sara--once my betrothed!  By the height
of the sky above me; by the depths of the sea beneath me; by the
distance that lieth between the East and the West and the hand that set
the stars, do I swear to bury this blade in the heart of the beast that
hath taken from me my Sara.  May the God of my fathers lay me low in
the fires of Gehenna if I do less!"  A moment the fisherman stood with
upraised arm.  The rising sun fell on the gleaming steel like a fire
along its edge.

A sob from the shore broke the silence.  "Go!  Go!" cried the
half-naked creature by the water.

With a last look of pity and of horror, Jael seated himself, took up
the oars and passed from sight around the ledge of rock.  In a few
moments, however, he returned, rowing swiftly.  He pushed his boat up
on the sand and went ashore.  There was no living thing in sight.
Whether Sara had fled to the rushes and willows or had cast herself
into the sea, he knew not.  As he stood he heard his name spoken.
Looking around again, he saw no man, and yet again he heard a voice
saying, "Jael."

"Whose is this voice?" he questioned.  "A strange voice yet it seemeth
I have somewhere heard it."

"Thy heart is troubled, Jael," the voice said.  "Come unto me and I
will give thee help."  From behind the rocks the words came.  Hastening
into his boat he rowed around the narrow point and came upon a man of
about his own age who wore one of the garments of a Rabbi.  "Dost thou
remember me?" the stranger said to Jael.

With dripping oar poised on the boat's edge, the half-naked fisherman
studied the face of the man on the rocks.  Then he exclaimed with joy,
"Thou art Jesus of Nazareth!  Yea, well do I remember thee and the
games of our childhood."

"Rest thy boat, Jael.  I would talk with thee."

"The years have been many since we ran the streets of Nazareth," Jael
said, his eyes studying the face of Jesus, "yet the struggle hath gone
on."

"How hath thy struggle gone?"

"Wrest I my bread from the sea.  In the nine cities on her border have
I sold to the markets.  Yet never have I seen thee there."

"While I was yet young I went on a far journey in search of Wisdom,"
the Rabbi said thoughtfully.  "More years than one was I with strange
peoples, who were hungry for God as are my brethren in Israel, yet
searching ever for him where he is not found, save a few wise ones.
When I had learned that the heart of all mankind is one heart, the need
of all mankind the same need and one God sufficient for all, then came
I back to Galilee to preach good news to my people."

"So have I heard thou art a prophet and a wonder worker.  Some there
are who have called thee a king."

"What sayest thou?"

"Said I, 'He is neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.  Was not
his home in Nazareth?  Was his father not the town carpenter?  Was he
not poor like unto the rest of us?  Hath any good thing come out of
Nazareth?'  And the man who did say with loud speech that thou art a
king, I did smite on the mouth.  'A king?' said I.  'A king--this son
of a carpenter that once did shout wildly as we chased goats over the
hills and who ran fleet-footed when his mother called him to sop--he is
a king, and while Jael yet stinketh of fish?  For thy lack of wits thou
shouldst be soundly kicked where it be not seemly to apply the sting,'
and I smote him.  All fools are not yet dead fools--what sayest thou?"

The face of the Rabbi was smiling when the fisherman raised his eyes
for an answer.  "Thou art right.  There are yet those among the living,
void of understanding and because of this thy heart suffereth."

Jael looked at Jesus a moment as if he failed to catch the meaning of
the words.  Then he said, "Yea, as if a torch had been touched to my
blood do I suffer.  If thou hadst eyes to see through these rocks thou
wouldst have beheld a maiden carrying about in her body a living tomb
of corruption which came to her at the hand of Herod and back of him,
of Rome.  Ah, that the prophets were not all dead, for had they not
powers of healing?  That Sara might be made whole?"

"And dost thou think all power for healing passed from the earth with
the passing of the prophets?  Hast thou not heard of late that the sick
are healed, the lame walk and the blind made to see?"

"Yea, have I heard.  Yet I believe not.  In Chorazin and Bethsaida had
there been much boasting of thy wonder-working powers.  Yet thou didst
not any mighty works there."

"Because of their hardness of heart and unbelief I did not many mighty
works in these cities, neither in Tiberias."

"There be ever an excuse," Jael answered, laughing.  "Yet I take thee
for a good fellow and when a day cometh for idle talk will we be boys
again together as in Nazareth.  Yet for a season must my eyes be ever
looking--looking for him into whose heart the point of this may find
burial," and he drew out his blade.  Jael turned the weapon over slowly
once or twice and ran his finger lightly across the thin part.

"They that lift the sword shall perish by the sword," the Rabbi
remarked quietly.

"Yea--thou speakest.  So shall Jael the fisherman make thy words come
true against him who hath in days past lifted the Roman blade to smite
the Jew."

"Hast thou not heard the better way is to return good for evil?"

Jael turned a glance of astonishment on the Rabbi as he said, "Now know
I for certain thou art no prophet.  Doth not the Law say, 'An eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth'?  And wouldst thou do away with the
Law?" and he lifted his oars as if desirous of getting away from an
impostor.

"In thy ship would I also go," the Rabbi said.  "Peter with James and
John and others of my brethren soon cometh and I go with them."

"And art thou a fisherman as well as a wonder worker?"  There was
mockery in the voice of Jael.

"Yea, of such fish as thou art."

"Call me not a fish," Jael retorted angrily.  "Because thou hast a
following and I yet toil, dost thou call me fish!"

"Take no offense, Jael," the Rabbi said kindly.  "Such fish as thou are
Sons of God not yet caught in the drag-net of His calling.  Go with me
into the deeper waters and thou shalt learn."

The sound of husky voices raised in snatches of song and speech came
from behind the band of rushes and a moment later a sailboat with full
crew and loaded with nets, rode into view.

"Son of Barjona," shouted the Rabbi, "my friend Jael and I would go
with thee."

"Ye ho!  Ye ho!" answered a lusty voice and the large craft slackened
speed that the small boat might be fastened to its side.

"We seek the deep," Peter said as Jael and Jesus climbed up the side of
the ship, and when they were safely landed he shouted, "Launch out!"
and the boat turned toward the Gadarene shore.

Before the first net had been cast, Jael spoke with Peter.  "What
manner of man is this Rabbi Jesus?" he asked.  "While yet I was young I
did live in Nazareth and with him eat and play.  Then was he the son of
a carpenter and was learning the use of tools.  Now he doth talk
strangely of being a fisherman, yet hath he the savor of a Rabbi."

"What manner of man?  I know not.  Yet when he called me to be his
disciple he did say he would make of me a fisher--not of much sea
food--but of men.  So now do I follow when he sayeth follow, and fish
for my bread between times."

"Where getteth he the name of wonder worker?"

"That which men say he doeth, he doeth, and more."

"And thou dost believe this?  I believe not."

"Believe?  Yea, what my eyes see.  Did not my wife's mother lay sick of
a fever?  Did not he heal her by the touch of his hand?  Have I not
seen one born blind made to see by his power?"

"Nay.  Never hath one born blind been made to see."

"Dispute me not, else wilt thou tempt me to cast thee into the sea.  I
speak the truth."

"I believe not."

"Hath any man bidden thee believe?  Get thee hence."


During the day, the crew commanded by Peter cast their nets, but after
each casting drew them in empty and when the sun had neared the distant
water line, they were yet toiling.  A drowsiness had fallen over the
sea and a bank of gray clouds lifted itself slowly and stealthily above
the horizon line to the northwest and spread its flanks as it rose over
the water like the wings of some ominous creature of the air.  The
Rabbi, who had toiled with the others until late in the afternoon, left
them before the clouds rose, and finding some dry nets made a pillow
and lay down to sleep.  The other fishermen toiled on.  One wing of the
cloud bank reached across the sun and the sea grew restless.  But it
was not until a sharp breeze struck the bearded faces bending over the
nets that Peter said to James, "Let us back to land.  A storm ariseth."

The nets were quickly hauled in and the sails loosened to the rising
wind.  But the storm was one of the sudden kind that at times sweep
Galilee like an unbridled fury, and almost before they were aware of
its speed their ship was running like a wild bird, while Peter shouted
and the crew worked with sails and tackle.  The light of the sun turned
dark.  The fury of the storm increased until the air was filled with
roaring and the earth seemed to be vomiting the sea from its bosom.
When the darkness was riven by lightning, the set faces of the
fishermen, fighting for life, showed pallid for a moment and the racing
billows glimmered with blue streaks.

It was while the gray was turning yet darker that Peter caught sight of
that which took his attention from the storm.  "My Lord and my God!" he
cried in great alarm.  "What is that?" and he threw out a long arm
which wavered with the vibration of the boat, as he pointed.

"Where?  What seest thou?" those about him called back.

"I know not.  But look you where the waves boil as a brew doth boil in
a kettle!  Something doth move about the waters like a strange, living
mist."

"It is but spray thrown up."

"Nay, nay, not spray.  It riseth and moveth itself aright, like unto a
man."

The fishermen gathered at the side of the pitching ship and held on to
one another and to the wet woodwork.

"It is a man.  It walketh on the water!"

"It is the ghost of John whose head Herod took off!"

"Walks it without a head?"

"Nay, it hath a head."

"It is a spectre.  It treadeth the way of death and that swirling pool
over which it hovereth is our grave!"

"Look you!  Look--my Lord--my Lord!  A light cometh where the face is.
God of our fathers--it is Jesus walking the waters like a bird of the
storm!  When gat he from the ship?  Watch thee the spirit, James, while
I find the place he lay."  And Peter fell on his hands and knees and
started to creep toward the pile of fish-nets in the other end of the
boat.

In terror the men he had left huddled together, except James who
watched the spirit moving over the water.  A cry from Peter drew their
attention.  "He is here," they heard him shouting above the whistle of
the wind.  "He is sleeping as if the soul of him had departed!"

"Wake him!  Shout into his ear that we perish--we perish--"  The last
words of James who had called, were swallowed up by the hissing of a
wave which broke over the deck and threw the men into the rigging and
nets.

"Waken him before she takes the next wave!  Hasten!"

The words were borne away on the gale but in the ear of the sleeping
Rabbi, Peter was shouting as he shook his shoulder, "Master, the
tempest is raging!  The billows dash like mountains!  Just ahead lieth
death!  Carest thou not that we perish?  How canst thou lie asleep?
Thy garments are running like a river and thy hair washed tight to thy
head!  Awake!  Awake!"

The sleeping man awoke.  The next moment James shouted, "The spirit
hath passed away!"

As Jesus made his way to the prow of the ship which was pointing high
on the crest of a wave, he saw in the flashes of light, the blanched
faces of the terrified crew.

"The winds be contrary," James shouted as he passed him.

"Nay, not the winds, but the force that is back of the wind is
divided," he answered.  "They need but a center in which to become as
one."

Though the ship was taking the waves and pitching so violently that all
hands lay flat where they had been thrown, Jesus made his way
steady-footed to the high point of the prow where he folded his arms
and looked out over the scene of turbulence and darkness.  He breathed
deep and lifted his face to the flakes of foam torn from the long
spray-arms of the warring waves.  He turned his ear to the moan of the
gale which seemed to breathe out in wrath from the heart of the earth.
Calm and secure as if he and the elements were one, he rode for a few
moments watching the play of the divided force.  Then he held forth his
hands after the manner of a High Priest in benediction and said,
"Peace.  Be still."  And the wind and the waves obeyed his will, the
wind moaning itself into nothingness; the waves subsiding into their
wonted calm, and in the dawn of the setting sunlight, they saw the
shore.

When Jesus turned about, he found Jael kneeling beside him and holding
to the hem of his garment with both hands.  On the face that looked up
to the Rabbi was written revelation and the joy of a great escape.
"Thou art the King!" he cried.  "Forgive me the blindness of my heart I
pray thee and grant my soul one request!"

"What wilt thou, Jael?" Jesus said.

"This be my one desire--that Sara yet liveth and be made whole."

"According to thy faith shall thy desire come to pass," he answered.
Then he called Peter saying, "Cast now thy net and make ready for the
ingathering."

The net was cast and a great burden of fish towed to the shore, which
was washed clean of footmarks and strewn with fresh pebbles.  With the
vigor of new-born joy, Jael worked with the other fishers.  But when he
would have come in contact again with his hope, he found Jesus had
gone, no man knew whither.



PART TWO

A. D. 33


CHAPTER XIX

CATACOMBS COMRADES

With its hyena head pointed toward the Imperial Capitol, the brazen
She-Wolf of the Roman Empire stood, its bristled hair and exposed fangs
symbolic of the beast-nature that was its Babylonian inheritance.
Enthroned on her Seven Hills, Rome had subjugated and pillaged the
nations of the earth until she had grown drunk with power, and although
life on the Palatine and the Quirinal was one outflowing exercise of
brute force and one long feast and revel on the spoils thereof, yet was
the Empire rushing as headlong to the destruction predestined at the
hand of her own corruption, as was Tiberius Caesar rushing to his
earthly end by debauchery unbridled.  And although neither the Latin
world nor its vassals had will or vision to foresee it, Time, in its
inscrutable womb was fashioning that which was to bring about conflict
ages-long, between Pagan autocracy and the spiritual essence of Liberty
for all humankind.

On an evening when the purple and blue, the glistening white and golden
glow and shining green of an Italian spring, speaking through sea and
sky, through billowing clouds and the verdure of the earth, was rivaled
by the purple and gold of Rome's pageantry and the gleaming whiteness
of her pillared palaces, a sojourner in the Imperial City, who had but
that day sailed up the River Tiber, stood waiting beneath the shadow of
the She-Wolf.  The stranger, a Phoenician who had at one time done
stone cutting at Tyre and Sidon, had not long to wait.  The man who met
him wore the dull brown tunic of the working man.  A scarlet cord bound
his waist and he carried a covered bundle.  Speaking in Latin, he
addressed a few words to the Phoenician and then said, "Follow me."

For a time the working man, whose present occupation was that of
torch-lighter, led the visitor through the streets of the city, the
surrounding scenes changing until from the marble palaces of the
Palatine their way led them past the slave pens at the lower end of Via
Sacra, and shortly after they found themselves traveling a roadway on
the Campagna.  Here they often found it necessary to step aside to make
passageway for carts loaded with Pozzolana sand.  It was toward the
pits from which this sand came the two were making their way and it was
not until they had turned into deserted pitroad that they entered into
free conversation.

"Shortly," said the guide, "we will enter into the way which leadeth to
the burial place of slaves, some of which are thrown in dead, and some
not yet dead but only worthless.  From its corruption ariseth a stench
that ceaseth not day nor night."

"Do we go that way?"

"Nay.  Yet were it well for a _kurios_ to see to what ignoble ends one
of like desires with himself can come, and for no crime save the lack
of freedom to be better than a slave.  Another day thou mayest see.
Now we must hasten where we go.  The mouth of the subterranean passage
opens just ahead.  The way will be narrow when we reach the corridor
leading into the _tufa_ rock.  I guide thee this back way, and longer,
that thou mayest pass the prison where my fellow working man and thy
brother, oft are thrown into."

As they made their way into the subterranean passage, the light of day
faded into a small pale spot and then went out, leaving the gloom of
midnight ahead.  "The path beneath thy feet is smooth.  The walls are
so close thy hand on either side can feel the way.  There is no water
nor living beast to fear.  When we reach the first chamber, we will
find a torch burning with which to light other torches.  Follow me."

A faint glow, like a star against the pitch black, told them they were
near the chamber where the spark, as they entered, grew into the dim
light of a torch which cast a yellow circle on the rock floor.  Here
the guide opened his bundle and took out two torches which he lit.
Handing one to the Phoenician he said, "Watch well thy step and keep
thou at my heels.  We go down into a huge grotto quarried in the bowels
of the earth.  Its passages are cut through sharp cornered rocks
between which thou must squeeze thy body, and yet other rocks stick out
into the darkness like the bristles of a mad boar.  Beware these
bristles!  If thou shouldst run against one, thy feet will stumble over
the edge of the abyss.  Once thou hast fallen into it, no more forever
will thine eyes behold the light of day.  Hold tight thy lamp.  Watch
well thy step."

Carefully they made their way down, and down, and around the sharp
rocks in silence.  Once they stopped and the guide said, "Stand close
against the wall.  Just beyond thy feet lieth the hole of live tombs
that is a prison.  From it was quarried rich material to build palaces
for masters.  And the hole that was left of their labor hath often made
good prison for the workmen who quarried, when found guilty of the
crime of planning freedom."

Like parasital mites making their intestinal way the two men followed
the windings of the narrow, black corridor until they came into another
chamber where, from a grotto in the wall, oil was taken to replenish
the torch cups.

"There is now a long journey before thee," the torch-bearer said.
"Many and devious windings will take thee up and down, back and across
the Campagna that doth lie, with its cart burdened roads, fifty feet
above our heads.  By the light of thy lamp thou wilt see the walls
change.  No longer are they sharp, nor are there bottomless pits, for
soon we enter the sleeping place of those whose bodies toil no more nor
their hearts hunger for the freedom that belongs to every man."

It was as the guide had spoken.  By the flickering light of the smoking
torch, the eyes of the Phoenician soon caught the white lines of
skeletons lying in grottoes and niches cut tier above tier in the side
walls of the narrow corridors.  After walking several miles they
arrived at a large chamber with massive stone arches, crudely cut,
reaching to a dome-shaped ceiling.  Here paintings decorated the walls,
and images of popular gods and goddesses were set in niches, and models
of sculpture on pedestals.  One side wall of the large room was lined
with slabs, some with inscriptions and others carved with the notes of
music.  Several torches burning on high standards gave the chamber a
soft light.  From it lead five passageways opening, like dark mouths,
into unknown byways.

"Here we tarry, while I strengthen the lights," said the torch-bearer.
"This is the headquarters of the union of all those who chant hymns,
take part in the Olympic games, dance after the manner of satyrs and
play the Greek trilogies.  A league of fun-makers they are.  Also these
actors do lay claim to the greatest of all antiquity for their order,
saying that no less a one than Homer himself did found it.  Also they
make claim to being the first of all baptists and their speech-makers
will prove into your ears that Dion, the forerunner of their Dionysus,
did first initiate with it, and how that all the Phrygian Brotherhoods
were baptists."

"Do they baptize now?"

"Yea, yea.  Every Brotherhood of them all whose torches I light doth
initiate with the bath of purification.  This is as necessary as the
common table of communion around which they all sit.  The Brotherhood
of Actors and Fun-makers is one of the strongest, and least often
disturbed with dissension."

"Doth dissension come even into a brotherhood?"

"Art thou a _kurios_ and knowest not this?" the torch-bearer asked
quickly.

"It hath been so in Syria and Phoenicia, yet I hoped in Rome to find
this evil remedied."

"Human nature is the same in Rome as in Syria.  Yet there is always a
way in a brotherhood to keep peace.  Did not the 'Medici' stir up
strife when the 'Mulo Medici' would join the Brotherhood saying these
latter would bring ridicule to their honorable order?  And did not the
_kurios_ say to them that so long as their fellow beings were allowed
to live no better than mules, there was the greater need of having them
in the Brotherhood.  And when the gold and silver workers stirred up
strife because the rag-pickers would come into the union, did not the
_kurios_ point out that, under an autocracy of masters they themselves
might be picking rags on the morrow?  But the actors and fun-makers
have not yet wrangled.  To-night a man from Delphi maketh a speech when
this tablet is erected," and he turned out the face of a marble slab
which leaned against the wall.  "With great pride do these actors and
musicians and dancers claim Delphi which they say still nestles at the
foot of Mount Parnassus; a place where gorgeous birds spread rainbow
wings over fragrant flowers, and everlasting springs feed the stream
that foams and tumbles past the ruins of Apollo's temple.  But the
torches are now made ready."

"And what is the tablet?"

The two men examined it.  Delicately cut in the marble was the face of
a young girl, with flutes beside her.  Three rows of curls hung from
her wreath-bound head, and her lips were parted in a merry smile.  "A
dancing girl and her pipes," the guide said.  "She belonged to the
union and getteth burial and a memorial.  But let us be going.  Take up
thy torch."

After no long walk the corridor ran into another chamber.  "This is a
place of initiation into some mystery," the torch-bearer said.
"Wouldst see?" and he pointed across the room to an opening in the wall
near the floor, scarce large enough for the body of a man to worm its
way through.  "Look thou beyond it," and the guide held his torch
toward the opening.

The Phoenician hesitated.  Then he dropped on his knees and thrust his
shoulders into the hole.  By the dim light he saw something on the
floor which at first seemed to be the body of a man lying with feet
close together and arms straight extended.  A second look showed this
man-like object to be a heavy cross of wood.  At its side an open grave.

"What meaneth it?" the Phoenician asked, backing out of the hole.

"I know not save that those who enter there come wearing white and
carrying green sprigs, and with them one not wearing white.  And when
they go, all but one who wears white and he who wore not white go out.
Three days later these two go also both wearing white.  Nothing more
know I save that I be given orders at times to make the light.  But let
us hasten on to the big chamber."

Between a seemingly endless labyrinth of galleries lined with closed
coffins and shelved skeletons the two passed until at last a great
noise, like a far-off droning, broke the stillness.  "The meeting hath
begun," the guide said.  As they neared the chamber they encountered
guards to whom the guide gave a pass-word; and again before they
entered, other guards demanded a sign which was given by a grip of the
hand.  Once inside, the Phoenician pushed gently through the circle
assembled to a place near the front.

"Hourly do you pray," the speaker was saying.  "Yea, hourly for relief.
But the cycles of the years roll on in blood and pain while the heel of
Rome grinds into brute servility all save a favored few.  Even have
women by the hand of Rome been stripped naked, their legs painted,
their bodies shackled and thrown into caverns where, with pick in hand,
they dug stones from the rock to build palaces for brutes.  If the gods
yet live why do they not hear the bitter crying of the helpless when
the branding iron is laid to the flesh until slave pens smell like cook
shops?  Why do not the gods hear the cries of humankind fed on pods and
roots and skins, beaten with clubs and hung on crosses, for no evil
save honest toil for thankless masters?

"Oppression hath grown mighty until all the world is divided into two
classes, the slave who toileth and the master who remaineth idle.
Millions are there of the one--few of the other.  Yea, for their very
number are toilers counted as beasts.  Since Caesar brought his fifty
and three thousand slaves from far Gaul hath slaves come to be in
numbers like the sands of the sea.  On the market when their bones have
become stiff are they not sold for food to fatten eels for Roman
Senators?  And those who escape being food for tigers and hyenas, or
nailed to a cross, are they not lost in the fearful pit of pollution of
the Esquiline Cemetery?  And in the arena--were not eight thousand
gladiators slaughtered in one year?

"A sweeper of the amphitheatre was I.  Mine was the task of dragging
from the arena dead gladiators, shoveling up the blood, sprinkling
fresh sand over dark spots yet warm, sharpening swords and javelins for
fresh encounters and cutting off heads when the death rattle was too
slow sounding.  Often have I lifted mine eyes from the sands dyed red
to the glitter and pomp above, and have said, 'Who payeth for all this?
Who payeth for the striped-backed and spotted-bellied beasts?  Who
payeth for the shining pythons and the wild bulls that toss bare bodies
until from their bleeding wounds long entrails hang while bejeweled
women and swine-snouted men cheer?  Who payeth for the silver cages
that house Numidian lions?  Who payeth for the tanks of perfume in
which naked women sport to please licentious eyes?  Who payeth for the
purple and the emerald--the palace and the villa?  And who for the
olive oil and the wine that Caesar doth give to the populace to win him
favor?"

"In the slave pens of Via Sacra find I my answer.  The _arficulata
implemente_ of Rome payeth for all these things whether this jointed
implement be bound or free.  And who would keep the slave and working
man forever under the heel of the master?  What meant the relentless
war that Cicero did wage against the working class?  Because of his
Pagan belief in the divine rights of the _gens_ families and a like
strong belief that he who toileth hath no right to freedom, did he make
war.  And for like reason is war still upon us until, like rats, we
burrow into the belly of the earth, and were it not for the Jus Coeundi
that doth allow free organization for religious and death ceremonies,
would we and our Brotherhood perish on a forest of crosses.  Yet
starved, we struggle!  Beaten, we toil!  Damned, we hope!  Believing
that out of Brotherhood will come the Liberty for which we die, we hold
ourselves together.  That which sitteth on the Seven Hills above us
rotteth at the core.  Signs are fast ripening of a change.  Egyptian
wisdom doth tell us the Phoenix is about to spring again to birth from
her ashes.  Somewhere is the savior and his coming shall be swift and
terrible as lightning."

As the arena-cleaner made reference to the coming of a world savior,
the Phoenician pushed himself before the _kurios_ and when the last
word had been uttered he said in a voice that filled the chamber vault,
"Hear!  Hear!" and he lifted his arm and pointed into the face of the
orator.  As he did so his sleeve fell back disclosing on his arm, a
fish with a lion's head and a circle in its mouth.

All eyes were turned on the stranger as the _kurios_ spoke, "Who art
thou and whence hast thou come?"

"A _kurios_ of Sidon I am.  From afar have I journeyed to bring the
glad news that one hath arisen mighty in power and wisdom to succor the
oppressed.  Hear ye what the spirit of the gods hath anointed him to
do: Preach the gospel to the poor--heal the broken-hearted--give
deliverance to the captives--sight to the blind and LIBERTY to the
bruised and enslaved!  Twice already hath a great and mighty following
sought to crown him King, and he would not!"

"Whence cometh he?" a dozen eager voices asked.

"From the province of Galilee, in Palestine, and when cometh again the
Passover of the Jews, when Jerusalem, that great city, is thronged with
the population of the world, then shall he be made King--King of the
People--the toiling people!  And this King shall break every shackle on
every human body and free from cave and dungeon, every human soul.  But
one thing there remaineth to determine.  This is the added strength of
Roman legions in Jerusalem at the Passover.  Would that the gods could
let us know the mind of Pilate!"

As he spoke these words, one who had eagerly listened moved from the
rear toward him.  The man stood head and shoulders above any other of
the number and his face was disfigured with a deep and desperate scar
across one cheek.  He listened intently as a speech-maker said to the
Phoenician:

"And is this Galilean wiser and braver than Sparticus?  Did not this
noble lover of human liberty slay Roman legions as a fierce wind
strikes down forest leaves?  And yet was he not at last hacked to bits
and his loyal followers hung on crosses to fatten birds of prey?"

"Aye, but Sparticus was betrayed by one of his own," a voice called.

"So will the Galilean be betrayed," came the reply.

"The Galilean hath a great following of men strong and zealous who
would go with him to the death."

"Were not the Lusitanians strong and brave?  Was not Lusitania ravished
and stripped?  And who remained after the massacre of Galba?  Success
cometh not by uprising but by forming one great brotherhood which, when
formed, will command all power."

The discussion following these different opinions had scarce begun when
the torch-bearer touched the Phoenician on the arm saying, "Thou hast
opened the gates of controversy, yet we can not tarry to the end.
Follow thy guide."

As they turned to go, the visitor felt his hand caught in a mighty grip
and turned to see a scarred face gazing intently upon him.  "Thou hast
looked upon his face--the face of Jesus?" he asked the Phoenician in a
whisper.

"Yea.  In the home of his brethren have I been with him.  But what dost
thou know of this Jesus?"

"That which my heart knoweth, my lips can not express save that I love
him.  And in your ear would I whisper the knowledge you much desire."

"Let us move into the dark," the torch-bearer said, and they left the
chamber.  Under a sealed shelf of bones they stopped.  The scarred man
of great size and the bearded Phoenician stood in the dim light of the
torch held at a little distance, by the bearer.

"This thou couldst know," said the man of the scar.  "The strength of
the Roman legions will not be in Jerusalem at the time of Passover.
Weak will be the forces of the Tower of Antonio."

"How knowest thou this?" and there was eagerness in the question.

"My lips are sealed further.  Yet as I love the Galilean, my words come
to thee from the mouth of official Rome."

"Wilt thou be at the Passover?"

"That is my hope."

"And wilt thou lend aid in making the Galilean a king?"

"He is already a king--and more."

The Phoenician looked inquiringly into the calm eyes of the unknown.

"King of my heart he is."  The words were offered as an explanation.
"Whether there is wisdom in acclaiming him a king over mankind, I know
not.  From his own lips would I get my 'Yea' or 'Nay.'"



CHAPTER XX

THE LITTLE TALLITH

After Jael, the fisherman, had seen the warring waves of the Sea of
Galilee calmed by an exercise of universal power, self-centered, the
desire of his heart had been to see again the childhood friend he had
called king.  This, however, did not come about for a number of months.
Shortly after the storm, the Galilean Prophet had gone on a long
pilgrimage, rumor only telling where.  Moved by his great hope for the
healing of Sara and impatient at long delay, Jael, when he chanced to
hear that Jesus had turned his face homeward, forsook his nets, and
burdened by no more possessions than his staff and the scrip he hung
over his shoulder, he set out on the Damascus road leading north.  As
he went he inquired of travelers along the way for one Jesus, a
Galilean Prophet.  But it was not until he reached Magdala that he got
news.  Here he overheard a party of pilgrims who stopped for the night,
telling about a wonder worker who was camping on the Plain of
Gennesaret a few miles to the north.  The blind son of one of the party
had received almost instant sight by the application of clay to his
eyes at the hands of this wonder worker.

With this information Jael hurried forward toward the Plain, sore of
foot, yet glad of heart, for he had no doubt the wonder worker was
Jesus.  As he journeyed the twilight gave way to the dark, and
innumerable stars came forth.  But it was not a light in the heavens
the eye of the fisherman watched for, rather a red glow near the earth
line.  When he finally saw this it was as strength to his tired feet.
Soon the outlines of a tent became visible and the bodies of two men
lying by the fire.  The approach of Jael was announced by the barking
of a dog which kept him at a distance until repeated shouting brought a
sleepy man to the tent door.

"Doth there rest here a Galilean, by name Jesus?" the fisherman called.

Before the tent dweller had answered, one of the men by the fire
called, "Jael!  Jael--come hither!"

Forgetting the blisters on his feet, the stiff muscles of his legs and
the savage barking of the dog, Jael ran to the man by the fire
shouting, "Yea, Lord!  I come!  I come!"

With his head lying against his hand which was in turn supported by an
elbow resting on the ground, Jesus lay in his undergarment, his
traveling coat thrown over a tent stake near by.  "Sit thee down and
rest, Jael," he said.  "The friend at my side is a Hindoo of great
wisdom and knowledge of the stars.  When I traveled in far lands he was
to me as a brother.  Well be it thy steps have led thee to cross his
path while he travels with this caravan if thou wouldst gather
knowledge of Sara."

"Sara!" Jael exclaimed.  "By what mystery is the desire of my heart
known to thee ere my lips have spoken?"

"Mystery?" Jesus repeated.  "There is no mystery.  There is only
understanding."

"Thy words have a sound but their meaning I know not, if thou art not a
miracle worker."

"All mind is one mind.  He who knoweth himself knoweth also his
brother.  If I loved the maiden Sara as thou lovest her, would not the
desire of my heart give me an understanding of the desire of thy heart?"

"If thou dost know a man's love for a maiden, then wilt thou of thy man
pity and thy god-power, give aid to Jael?"

"Hast thou aught of the maiden's which lay upon her naked body?" Jesus
said.

From his coat Jael took a small bit of cloth suspended like an ornament
on a neck cord and holding it toward Jesus said, "Her little _tallith_."

"Put it in the hand of the Wise Man."

Drawing himself into a sitting position, the Hindoo took the _tallith_,
pressed it into the palm of his hand and sat for a short time without
speaking.

"Her hair was abundant and dark," he presently said, speaking more to
himself than to Jael.  "Her face was ruddy and her eyes were bright
like sunshine dancing on quick waters.  She was supple of body and
worked among fish-nets.  Overcome in a great struggle she was borne
away and made unclean of body and hopeless at heart.  She wandered
about, an outcast, in the land of her fathers until at last she crept
away to die."

A curse broke from the lips of Jael and his hand moved quickly toward
his belt as he exclaimed, "When I find him--!  But first I must find
her.  Where is Sara now?"

"Even now doth she lie in a bed of rushes which the waves of Jordan
have washed against a bleaching sycamore.  Here, while she waiteth
death, the serpent that hath wrought her downfall doth circle her
though she knoweth it not."

"God of my fathers!" Jael groaned.

"What is thy request, Jael?" Jesus asked.

"That Sara be made clean and given again to Jael."

"Dost thou know what thou asketh?  From thee the woman hath been taken
by the serpent.  If thou wouldst possess her, to the place of the
serpent must thou go and conquer him.  Then shall the woman be free and
with the freedom of the woman shall come thy victory.  Wouldst thou go?"

"Yea, yea!  Direct my pathway."

"Hear then the words of the Wise Man of the East."

"Lift thine eyes to the heavens," the Hindoo said.  "Seest thou Seven
Stars where they shine in their constellation?"

"Nay.  But six I see."

"Look again."

"My eyes behold six."

"Thou must see seven."

After keeping his face to the sky some minutes Jael exclaimed, "Another
shineth afar.  This is seven."

"The way thou takest will lead thee from the place of Seven Stars to
the place of the serpent.  Look thou well into the eyes of the stars.
And when thou dost look into the snake's eyes that ever glitter,
remember that all light be one light though according to its use it
hath contrary powers."

He held the little _tallith_ against his forehead for a moment with
upturned face and said, "Thou wilt start thy journey under seven stars.
When they fade from the heavens stop by the roadside and take thy rest
in sleep.  Thou wilt be awakened by the flutter of wings and on opening
thy eyes will see six birds.  Follow their flight with the eye and thou
wilt look to the east from whence cometh the light.  Keep thee on the
highway toward Bethsaida.  When the sun is well risen shall thine eyes
behold five palms, strong and stately.  When thou comest near thou
shalt see children playing where the tall palms cast their shades.
They shall be chasing lambs and throwing lilies and shouting with glad
voices.  As thy feet pause here, remember this: All life is one life.
Beside this there is no other whether it seem to thine eye a palm tree,
a shouting child, a ewe lamb or a lily.  Think on this as thou, the
man, doth seek the desire of thy heart, thy woman.

"When thou hast passed through Bethsaida and come out upon the other
side thou wilt overtake a herdsman driving four shabby and much
smelling goats.  And the hands of the man shall be like unto the hoofs
of the beast for filth and his visage shall be like that of a wild
he-goat.  Of this man inquire if there are those unclean beyond
Bethsaida and of his reply learn that a beast be not told by the number
of his legs. . . . .

"When thou dost draw near Capernaum three geese will seek to turn thee
aside.  Thy toes will they peck at with much hissing and the hem of thy
garment will their necks lift angry beaks to.  Tarry not, neither kick
nor curse them.  They are but birds to tempt the foolish.  Waste not
thy effort on them. . . . .

"When thou hast cleared the North Gate of this city, keep to the
Damascus road until it reach the walls of Chorazin.  When thou reachest
the South Gate of the city two dogs shall draw nigh.  And the one shall
be hairy and water-eyed; and the other shall be lean and warty.  And
when thou passeth under the gate shall they likewise pass under, the
one before thee and the one behind.  Close to the wall on the inside
shall the fore dog trot.  Keep thou in his tracks.  He goeth to a fish
stall.  When thy feet reach this fish market let thine eyes look for a
hag that doth sit near a dung heap taking the heads from fish.  When
she seeth the dogs she will curse.  Then shalt thou help her drive the
dogs away and she shall speak.  Forget not what she saith of the marsh
path, and beyond.

"When thou hast left Chorazin keep thee going until thou hath passed a
peasant thrashing with the drag.  Here turn aside from the road to the
right and go straight until thou comest to a grove of carib trees.  Now
rest thy feet but use thine eyes and ears.  Thou art not far from the
Jordan.  Searching to the right thine eyes will see the willows on the
banks and thine ear will hear the fall of water over stones.  To the
right of the caribs turn and soon thou shalt come to a marsh.  Remember
now the words of the hag and shortly shall the waters of the Jordan
greet thy eye.  Thou wilt see a place beyond a flat stone where the
waters lie quiet as in a basin.  Yet beyond this is a bed of rushes
washed against a dead sycamore.  In the leaves look thou for the
serpent.  In the bed lieth the woman whose enemy, though she knoweth it
not, doth encircle her.  Like two sparks broken from the sun will the
eyes hidden in the rushes look into thy eyes.  From the Seven Stars to
the Serpent hast thou now made thy way.  If thou be victorious over the
serpent, back to the stars will thy feet be turned.  If thy faith fail
utterly, the serpent will have victory over both man and woman and
there will come death instead of life."

"At thy strange words I wonder--but--" and he turned to Jesus: "Thou
art the King--thou art the wonder worker.  By what means shall I gain
victory over this serpent that hath Sara encircled?"

"This be the victory--even thy faith, Jael," Jesus answered.  "_What
things soever thou desirest when thou prayeth, believe that thou hast
them and they shall be thine_.  To the woman, which I bid thee bring
again to me, carry thou this gospel of salvation--'As a man thinketh in
his heart, _so is he_.'  There is no bondage to uncleanness or to
darkness when the mind of man thinks purity and light.  He who thinks
_Strength_ is at last a _Conqueror_.  Take now thy little _tallith_ and
if thy faith fail thee, from the touch of it may new strength come.
Go, Jael."

According to directions Jael made his way.  He was aroused by the sweep
of wings passing toward the east.  He heard the children singing
underneath the palms and beyond Bethsaida he overtook the herdsman.

"Are there those unclean beyond the city?" he asked him.

"Nay, for with dogs and staves drive we the unclean away.  Sad was the
plight of the last who came this way.  A woman she had once been.  Now
came she like a creeping thing, lean of flesh, eaten of sores, and when
the dogs and staves of the city rabble had driven her far, then did my
goat with the broken horn butt her into a sharp ravine."

"Was her right leg swollen at the knee?"

"Yea, and the goat did break it with his head."

"And her right arm--had it sores?"

"Yea, sores until blow flies chased her even down there among the
rocks, and as she did lie, with a stone I broke her foul arm open!  A
curse upon the scar-ridden bones of the unclean!"

"Verily a beast is not known by the number of his legs," said Jael
angrily as the herdsman turned across the plain.

When the fisherman reached Chorazin, the lean and warty dog led him to
the place where the hag gutted fish.  When she saw the lean dog and the
hairy one which followed, she cursed.

"Vile dogs they are, yet there is one thing worse.  Scarce a fortnight
ago and before the dawn of morning, there was a stirring up of the
lentil pods and melon skins cast upon the ground.  And when the man of
the house looked out, in the light of the moon beheld he a sight
fearful to the eye, for one did cry 'Unclean!  Unclean!'  Wrapped was
this evil one in a fisherman's coat yet was she a woman.  Then did we
shower her with fish long spoiled and with bitter curses, and she crept
away.  On the evening of the next day came a pilgrim who did tell that
he saw one eaten alive of disease and uncleanness, creeping through the
marsh toward the Jordan.  Feebly did she crawl as if life were all but
departed.  And if she die not in the marsh then will the life be sucked
from her by serpents, for beyond the marsh dwelleth such snakes as
creep against the bodies of living things to seek warmth and take from
them the life that goeth to make the wisdom of the serpent."  And when
she had said this, the hag returned to her fish cleaning.

With a sad heart Jael turned from her, yet not without hope.  He
hastened on, keeping to directions.  He saw the willows by the
watercourse and heard the murmur of the river.  He cleared the marsh.
He came to the still pool.  He saw the bed of rushes piled by the
spring flood against the bleached sycamore.  All was as pictured by the
Wise Man of the East.  Softly he made his way toward the bed of rushes
with eyes keenly watching for the serpent  When he had come near he
stopped.  A sore and loathsome hand lay over the top of the bed of
rushes.  Underneath it two bright sparks suddenly appeared.  Looking
close Jael saw the head of a serpent and that its body lay concealed
under the leaves, yet so like its surroundings was it that it seemed to
be but a part of them.

The eye of the serpent was both cunning and evil.  Under its first
glitter Jael took a backward step.  Emboldened by this move the serpent
thrust out a barbed and rapidly scintillating tongue.  Instinctively
the fisherman thrust his fingers against the little _tallith_, the
touch of which aroused in him a mighty passion, for in the face of the
serpent he now saw the lust of the Roman who had taken Sara.  A swift
and terrible wrath swept over him.  He drew his knife and with an oath
sprang forward.  As he did so there was a soft rustling of dead
rushes--and the sparks of light and the twinkling tongue were gone and
though he did not notice it, the hand resting just above where the
venomous head had lain, was trembling violently.

"Lord, I believe!" shouted Jael in trumpet tones.  "Help thou mine
unbelief!"

The ringing voice broke the stillness sharply.  It was an echoing wail
that called from behind the rushes, "Unclean!  Unclean!"

"Knowest thou not who standeth near thee?  Sara, lift up thy head!"

Slowly a head appeared above the bed of rushes.  Dark eyes were sunken
deep in an emaciated and ashy face.  "Jael!"  The name was called with
great effort in a thin and rasping voice.  "Unclean, Jael!"

"Nay, nay, my Sara!" He shouted with a glad voice.  "Thou art not
unclean!  Jesus of Nazareth _hath cleansed thee already_ if in thy
heart thou believest thou art clean.  He hath bidden me bring thee to
him, clean, _clean_."

"Thou hast come too late!" the wailing voice called back.  "Thou canst
do nothing for me."

"Nay.  Nothing can I do.  But he--Jesus of Nazareth--can do all things.
He hath all power on sea and land, in air and sky, in heaven and hell!
There is nothing this wonder worker can not do.  Lift up thine arms as
thou wilt lift them before his face when thou comest into his presence.
Clap thy hands!  Open thy mouth and shout!  Shout, Sara!"

For a moment there was silence only broken by the running water of the
Jordan.  Then the stillness was again broken by a scream and the one
word, "Jael!"  The cry came from the bed of rushes and was in strong
contrast to the rasping effort of the moment before.  "Jael!  Jael!"
Again the sharp scream.

"What is it, my Sara?"

"My flesh is coming clean!  What meaneth it?"

"Jesus of Nazareth is here.  My eyes be holden that I can not see, yet
I _feel_ him."

"Jael!  Jael!"  Again it was a scream--a wild, glad, unearthly scream.
"My strength is returning.  It is pouring into me like sunshine.  Jael!
My knee!  My legs!  They are coming clean under my very eyes!  Run to
me.  Hurry!  Hurry else the miracle thou mayest not see!  The flesh
cometh clean _fast_.  Fast!  And the breath of healing bloweth over the
running sores!  See!  They are drying!  Look, like scales they are
dropping away!"

Before Jael reached the bed Sara had risen on her knees.

"My Jesus!" he shouted in a voice that made the valley ring as he met
her face to face.  "Sara!  Thou art made _whole_!"

Even as he spoke she lifted herself with a great shout and left the
nest of rushes for the arms of Jael.  For a moment he held her as if
between the woman and destruction there remained nothing but his arms.
Yet the lips of them both were dumb in the first moments of the
miracle.  Then he held her at arm's length and looked into her face.

"Thou art Jael--surely Jael," she said, "but am I Sara?"

"Yea, yea.  And every whit made whole.  Feel thou thy hair.  Feel thou
thy ruddy cheeks.  Feel thou thy supple arms and strong young hands as
when they tossed the nets," and he drew his fingers over her hair and
face and arms.

Again she stood unable to speak.  She looked back to the empty bed of
rushes and into the face of Jael.

"Feel for thyself," and taking her hand he made it stroke her long hair.

"Let mine eyes bear me witness," and turning toward the still pool she
ran fleet footed, and dropped on her hands and knees beside it.  So
long and carefully she bent above the water, Jael came beside her and
looked in to see there her mirrored face.  "Look, Jael," she whispered.
"Seest thou a face?"

"Yea, thy face, clean and whole."

"Nay--not mine.  There is one altogether fair and more beautiful than
tongue can tell.  It seemeth to look out from mine as though it had
always been there, yet it is not mine, but another.  My soul telleth me
this mighty Jesus hath taken possession of thy Sara."

A moment they tarried by the pool of the Jordan.  Then Sara sprang up
exclaiming, "Jael--I love thee!  I love thee!  But there is another I
love with a strong love that tongue can not speak.  Come!  Let us
hasten with winged feet to Jesus of Nazareth.  Before his face would I
shout the joy of my salvation!"



CHAPTER XXI

ANOTHER PASSOVER

The year between the Passover feasts of 32 and 33 A. D. had been a busy
and eventful one in the Bethany household where Jesus made his home
during much of the time of his Judean teaching.  Out of his frequent
visits and the thoughtful ministrations of Mary and Martha had come an
intimacy that had cemented the bands of love between them, while
Lazarus and the young Rabbi, close as brothers, studied the Law and the
Scriptures together.

Through the year Martha and Joel had been making preparations for their
marriage which was to take place soon after the Passover and in this
wedding Jesus was deeply interested.  But the one great event of the
year had been the death and resurrection of Lazarus.  This strange
event had not only been the miracle talk of the home, but it had been
widely discussed in Jerusalem.

Passover guests were beginning to throng the highways leading to
Jerusalem, and the home at Bethany was set in order for the coming of
Joseph of Arimathea and Jesus of Galilee, who were again to be guests
of Lazarus.  Martha and Joel sat in the big window talking over their
own affairs while Mary and Lazarus stood by the table looking over a
scroll, all four meantime, listening for the approach of their guests.

"Is it not strange," Lazarus said, "that in the name of those who were
stoned yesterday for being prophets, the prophets of to-morrow are
stoned to-day."

"There are no good prophets but dead prophets," Mary answered.

"So it seemeth," and Lazarus turned to the scroll and began to read.
"The ox knoweth--"  The words were interrupted by a knocking at the
door which both Mary and Lazarus hastened to answer.

"It is Joseph of Arimathea," said Lazarus.

"Perhaps Jesus cometh first," Mary replied, laughing.

The door was thrown open to Joseph who was greeted warmly, relieved of
his cloak and seated for foot-washing.

"Aye, but we are glad to have thee," Lazarus said, shaking his hand.

"The year hath been long since we saw thee last," Mary said, and Martha
added, "Thou dost honor us to be our Passover guest."

"The blessing of God be on thee, my daughters, and thou, Lazarus.  And,
Joel, it seemeth I saw thee here also at the last Passover."

"Yea, indeed," laughed Lazarus.  "And art like to find him here next
Passover, eh, Martha?" and his laughter called forth a response of
merriment from the company.

Before the face of Lazarus had yet straightened into its accustomed
good-natured lines, Joseph was looking intently upon it.

"Lazarus, my young friend," he said, stroking his long white beard,
"for one that hath been dead thy voice beareth strange meaning.  Yea,
verily, my ears can not believe what my eyes behold.  Of much people
have I heard of thy coming from the tomb where thou hast lain four
days.  Now would I hear from thy lips of this miracle.  Wast thou of a
surety dead?"

"So sayest those who did entomb me."

"And yet do I see thee alive," and his hand came to a rest on his
flowing beard as he studied Lazarus.

"So do I bear witness," Martha said, laughing.  "Though it has been
weeks since the strange thing came to pass, yet doth he devour food as
doth the grasshopper that eateth clean the face of the earth."

"Ha! ha!  Four days be a good fast to one not given to fasting,"
Lazarus replied to Martha.

"Herein is a marvel," and the hand of Joseph still lay quiet against
his beard.  "Thou sayest thou wert dead?"

"Nay.  I said those who did entomb me so said."

"The Law doth teach," and Joseph moved his hand down his beard slowly,
"that when the sword of death doth enter the soul of man from its cruel
point doth a drop of corruption enter into the flesh, of which death
maketh more corruption.  The sword of death did enter thy soul, but not
the drop of corruption?"

"Of this I bear testimony," Martha quickly answered.  "I feared greatly
to have the tomb opened lest the stench of corruption should sicken the
mourners."

"And there was no stench?" said Joseph, turning to Martha.

"None save the odor of grave spices."

"Then of a fact there must be death from which there is an awakening."

"Yea, surely."  It was Lazarus who answered.  "In days of old did not
the prophets make some to sneeze and sit up on their biers while others
might not sneeze for all the prophets?"

"Much have I heard of prophets raising the dead.  Yet had none turned
to corruption."

"Even Jesus doth make no claim of bringing back to life those whose
flesh hath turned black."

Joseph made no reply to the last speech of Lazarus, but turned to Mary
and said, "What thinketh thou?"

"As my brother hath spoken," she replied.  "There is one death, and
there is another death.  Into one hath corruption entered.  Into the
other it hath not.  Hath not Jesus made this plain?  Yet because of
their ignorance do the people not understand.  When he did enter the
house of Jarius, synagogue ruler at Capernaum, to raise his daughter,
did he not tell them plainly the damsel was not dead?  Yet wept they
and howled.  And when he sought to quiet them by again saying, 'She
sleepeth only,' did they laugh him to scorn.  But when he did take the
little damsel by the hand and bid her arise, she awakened.  Then did
the shout go up, 'A miracle!  A miracle!'  The Master doth thus teach
there is a death from which the sleeper may be awakened.  How cruel it
is to seal such dead in the tomb!"

"Thou hast spoken, Mary," Joseph answered.  "Fearful it is."  Then he
turned to Lazarus.  "Canst tell how thy soul did feel as thou didst
pass into the state of the dead?"

"Of feeling I had no knowledge.  The incantations of the physician grew
feeble as the buzzing of a bee.  The pleading of Martha reached my ears
like a child's call over a vast mountain, and the eyes of Mary, rimmed
in tears, did sink into darkness like stars in a far sky and then go
out.  Yea, sight, sound, feeling, even knowledge of my own soul faded
away--for how long I know not.  They do tell me it was four days.  Once
as I lay asleep I did feel something like a cold flutter and faint
touch across my cheek as in a dream, and from a great distance seemed
to come the scent of spice.  Then did something startle me.  Aye, the
blood in my veins which had refused to run, gave a mighty leap forward,
there came a flood of air and a great burst of sunlight which did shine
through my being, and I awoke and did walk from the tomb in obedience
to the voice that called me forth--_it was the voice of Jesus_."

Joseph shook his head slowly saying, "I understand not.  Herein lieth a
mystery."

"Yea, a mystery," Lazarus repeated.

"A mystery to those who understand not," Mary said.  "But to the Master
it seemeth to be no mystery.  Once when I sat with him upon the
house-top and marveled at the mystery of music, he did tell me that the
soul of man is made of Waves of Being.  Yet did I not understand until
again he taught me.  And this have I gathered of his wondrous
wisdom--all Time and all Space, and all Power that moves therein is a
Great Sea of Waves of Being.  And the soul of man is like a tiny cupful
of the Waves of Being, dipped from this sea that lieth between endless
shores.  And for a time these waves run to and fro in that which hath
the form of a man.  Then do they depart into another form that the eye
beholdeth not.  But whether these Waves of Being are making motion in
the Great Sea of the Universe or the soul of man, they are one and the
same waves, so that from a great force without is a great force within
played upon, and we call it a mystery.  Yet, when he had told all this
I did not understand clearly, nor when he called the Great Sea by the
name of 'God' and the soul of man a little God.  But when he called
this Universal Sea of Waves of Being by the name of 'Love,' then had he
reached my understanding, for under the teaching of Jesus, the Master,
hath my own soul come to know a love boundless as the Sea of Being
itself.  Since God is love, and God is life, it cometh that love is
life and according as a man loveth, be it much or little, so doth he
possess the powers of life.  So all things are possible according as
one hath the power of loving.  Is it strange therefore that to him who
loveth as Jesus doth, uncommon power be given?  There _is_ a mystery.
_It is the mystery of love_."

"What eye is this that thou seest these things with, Mary?" Joseph
asked, after a moment of silence.

"Sometimes," she answered, smiling, "methinks I have a third eye that
hath long been sealed, but under the teaching of him whom we love, is
opening to the light."

"Thou art a wise disciple."

"Much wisdom is required of those to whom much opportunity is given.
Many of these things are grave yet simple, even as the fulfillment of
the Law by casting the Law aside is grave, yet simple."

"Mary," said Joel, "thy speeches ofttimes sound simple, yet are thy
words like a keen blade in a soft kid case.  Thy talk would disturb my
peace of mind had I time to think on it."

"What doth now threaten to disturb thy peace of mind, Joel?" Lazarus
asked.

"In the setting aside of the Law I see great danger, yet Jesus is ever
so doing.  Lo, it hath come to my ears that he hath declared no writing
of divorcement be given by a man, save for one reason."

"Even so, what matter?" Lazarus asked.

"Hath it not been since the days of Moses that a man be the rightful
head of the woman, and to him is given power to put her away when his
judgment sees fit?"

"Yea, for spoiling his mutton."

"And what man chooseth to dine on spoiled mutton?"

"Or scorching his porridge?"

"Scorched porridge maketh not a sweet temper for a man."

"Or speaking back with a sharp tongue?"

"Shouldst not a woman's tongue be meek in the presence of her husband?"

"And in thine own memory," Lazarus said to Joel as a climax, "hath not
a Rabbi put away an old and faithful wife for a fresh and ruddy one,
for no reason save her lack of freshness?"

"So doth the Law give man his right," Joel answered.

"And now cometh a Teacher who sayeth to this sort 'Nay!'"  And Lazarus
laughed, for concern was written on the face of Joel as he spoke again.

"Canst thou not see whereunto this liberty to women will lead?  Aye,
even there may come a time when women will be allowed to give a man a
writing of divorcement."

"Even so,--ha! ha!  If he doth beat her with a stick or refuse to feed
her, let her do this to him."

"I look for the world to come to a speedy end when the Law and the
traditions of the Elders are overturned," and Joel heaved a heavy sigh.

"The traditions of the Elders," Mary repeated.  "Often hath the Master
spoken of the Elders and their traditions.  They claim to sit in the
seat of Moses, knowing not that the seat of Moses did pass with the
passing of Moses.  As saw their fathers, so see they; as spoke their
fathers, so speak they; as did their fathers, so try they to do,
forgetting this, that as the times of their fathers have perished, so
have perished their needs, and with the coming of new generations have
come new needs.  'Harken not to these neither now nor in the days to
come,' saith the Master.  'They be blind leaders of the blind.  Beware
thou that man who boasts of changing not.'"

"I perceive that closely thou hast learned of Jesus.  Tell me now,
wherein, thinkest thou, lieth the secret that shall bring the Kingdom
of which he doth ever speak?"

The question was asked Mary by Joseph.  She said, "Once was I standing
in the far end of the garden where the soil had been made soft for a
row of mustard trees.  And the seed lay upon the palm of my hand when
Jesus did come softly behind me saying, 'What hast thou?'  For answer I
held forth my hand black with seed like dust.  'Watch thou, Mary,' were
his words.  'As the tree doth come from the seed, so cometh the
Kingdom.'  Then went he on a long journey.  Returning he did ask of my
garden.  Again did we walk to the far end where the wall was hidden by
branching mustard trees.  And as we drew near the flutter of wings
greeted us, and over the garden wall to the olive trees flew the fowls
of the air that had gathered in the mustard tree to eat its bright
fruit and lodge in its branches.  Then again did he speak of the
Kingdom saying, 'Lo, from the life of the tiny seed thou held in thine
hand hath come this more abundant life.  Even so shall the Kingdom come
from the seed sowing of Truth.  Truth is--'"  The words of Mary who had
been sitting in the window came to a sudden stop.  A step outside had
attracted her attention.  She sprang up and hastened to put a fresh
basin of water by the guest stool at the door.  Then she went back to
the window and piled cushions in a corner, making ready for a guest.
Before she had finished Lazarus was laughing.

"When Mary's hand, without the goad of Martha's tongue, fall diligently
to indoor labor, then know we who cometh."



CHAPTER XXII

BRIDAL CHAMBER TALK

Martha's approaching marriage was of more interest to her than even the
solemnity and feasting of the Passover.  So it was that on a night
preceding the great celebration, the conversation of Mary and Martha
turned from the events of the day to a new bridal garment.  In the
sleeping-room were two handsome carved chests.  Beside one of these
Martha knelt, while Mary sat at a dressing-table taking down her hair
for the night.

"Is not my Persian shawl beautiful and my Arabian veil fair to the
eye?" Martha asked proudly, taking them from the chest.

"Yea, but thy robe is more beautiful."

Martha replaced the shawl and veil carefully in the chest and took from
it a robe.  She rose, draped the garment over her arm and held it under
the lamp that burned by Mary's table.  "Ah, Mary," she said with pride,
"hast thou seen anything more gorgeous?  Look thou at the threads of
gold and silver and the blue and purple flowers."

"Yea, thou hast a treasure.  Fair wilt thou be as a bride, and proud
will beat the heart of Joel.  And there will be merry music with wine
and oil for those who gather along the way to see the procession, and
nuts and sweetmeats for the children."

"And there will be myrtle branches and wreaths of flowers and dancing
maidens with flowing hair and laughing mouths.  But Martha will be the
center of all eyes, in snowy veil; and voices all along the way will
cheer and hands will clap."

"Yea," laughed Mary, "hands will clap for among the Jews doth not
everything give way to a wedding procession and everybody make merry?"

"They say," Martha answered, as she brushed a speck of dust from a
flower on her robe, "it was because she oft clapped her hands at
wedding that only the hands of Jezebel were left when the dogs ate her
flesh."

"So the old women like to tell, but it is no more true than that God
had a wedding for Adam and Eve with Michael and Gabriel for groomsmen."

"These sayings sound well, Mary.  Why declarest thou they are not true?"

"The understanding of my head doth tell me so.  In the days of our
fathers there was no marriage save that a man did go out and find her
whom his heart loved and take her.  If one were not enough, he took
two.  If two did not suffice, he took three."

"And if three were not enough," Martha observed, laughing, "he took a
score."

"Yea, a score.  Then thinkest thou our fathers had naught to do but
make great processions?"

"Much I like the procession, the veil, the flowers, the sweetmeats and
all this that maketh marriage."

"But all this maketh not the marriage, Martha.  Naught but love hath
power to make the marriage."

"Ever thou maketh much of love, Mary."

"The blessing of the priest can not take the place of it when a man and
a woman unite to abide under one roof."

"Maybe so," Martha assented, going back to the chest, "but see thou my
girdle of jewels from the Far East.  Come thou and look once again at
my goodly store.  A long time have I been getting my chest filled
against the day I am the bride of Joel."

"And an outfit thou hast worthy an Asmonean princess, while my chest
hath little in it save my alabaster vase of very precious perfume."

"Fragrant will it make thy wedding veil."

"For this hope I treasure it.  And yet--"

The words were stayed by a knocking at the door and the voice of
Lazarus shouting in excitement, "Mary!  Mary!  Open to me the door.  I
have great news!"

"Yea--yea, we open," Mary answered.  "Even the tomb door doth open to
thee, my brother."

"Aye, but I have great news--great news!" he exclaimed as he crossed
the threshold.

"But thou bearest a sword," Mary said, drawing back.  "A sword!  What
of this sword?"

"Yea, what of the sword?" Martha repeated.  "And what is the news?"

"Israel hath a King!"  The words were shouted rather than spoken and
the hand of Lazarus trembled with excitement against the hilt of the
sword he carried.

"Israel hath a King?  What meanest thou?" and the tone of Mary's voice
showed that she had caught the spirit of excitement from her brother.

"Is the throne of David to be established?" and Martha tucked her
jeweled girdle hastily into the chest as she asked the question.

"It is even so, Mary--Martha--and him whom we love hath been acclaimed
King of the Jews!"

"Dost thou mean Jesus--_our_ Jesus?" and Mary lay hold of her brother's
sleeve with tight fingers.

"Jesus?  The Galilean Rabbi that doth abide under _our_ roof?" and
Martha came hastily to the side of Lazarus.

"Yea--yea, verily.  It is even this same Jesus!"

"My brother," and Mary stepped in front of him and looked into his
eager smiling face, "what strange thing is this thou sayest?  Ah, it is
too strange that after the long, long years of Israel's bondage the
King of the Jews hath come!  And stranger far than this if it _should
be the Jesus we love_."

"But I do swear to you I speak the truth.  Thou shouldst have seen
Jerusalem this day.  Thou shouldst have heard the glad hosannahs to the
King, shouted from ten thousand throats!"

"Thou makest my ears to burn!" Martha said, her face glowing with
excitement.

"Nay, rather doth my heart burn with a fire of wondrous and holy joy,"
Mary said in trembling voice.

"And glad I am that our home hath been his stopping place and that I,
Martha, have baked him sparrow pies."

"Rather thank Jehovah that we have been blessed with quiet hours of
teaching ere all Israel doth make demands on his wisdom, as did our
fathers on the wisdom of Solomon.  But, Lazarus, what of the day?  Last
night he sat with us at meat and no word was spoken of a king.  And
this morning when thou and Jesus did turn thy faces to Jerusalem, was
naught said of so grave a matter."

"Thou speakest the truth, Mary.  This morning the Master had no thought
of the near coming of the Kingdom, though twice had the people of
Galilee called him to be King.  But as we journeyed toward Jerusalem,
as if it had been well planned, throngs came out from everywhere waving
palms and tossing olive branches.  Aye, it seemed a forest of olive
branches moved along the road and children threw flowers, and mighty
was the shouting.  As we drew near the city, Jerusalem, hearing the
glad shouting, came forth to meet us and as the great gate was neared
did the men of Israel spread their garments along the way as when the
army of Jehu made a carpet of its coats.  With victorious shoutings
entered the procession beneath the city gates and with wild waving of
palms was the King of the Jews heralded.  Not in a hundred years hath
the City of Zion witnessed such a sight and the noise of shouting was
at times like thunder.  Near mine own ear did a zealot shout until
methought the top of my skull was tumbling in.  And with his shouting
did he wave an old red rag which he shook fiercely, as he roared out,
'Thou art the King!'  And with him was a woman, young and comely who
likewise shouted saying, 'Hosannah!  Praise his name!' keeping tight
hold of the coat of the man, meantime, because of such a run of joyful
tears as blinded her eyes.  And these were but two of the multitude.
Think ye, my sisters, that the Roman soldiers stood not aside when such
a following did pass?"

"Aye, but I like the sound of thy speech," said Martha, smiling and
clapping her hands.

"Wonderful!" exclaimed Mary.  "But the sword, why the sword?"

"The King hath been acclaimed, but the throne hath yet to be
established and swords shall the sons of Judah take up if there be
need."

"The spears of Rome are sharp and held by matchless soldiery and Pilate
is cruel as the grave and thirsting ever for the blood of Israel."

"Thou speakest, Mary.  But when the people rise, even the legions of
Rome stand back.  Saw we not that this day?  Just now the flower of
Rome's strength in Palestine hath been sent to Assyria and ere the
legions of the Imperial City could reach Jerusalem, will the Tower of
Antonio and its stores be in possession of the Jews.  With a handful of
the following the Master had to-day a Maccabee would take Jerusalem
from pagan hands.  Shall the followers of him who is greater than David
fall short?  Rather let the arm of Israel be palsied than to fail when
the Kingdom is in sight.  Shout, my sisters, for the Kingdom is at
hand!"

"Thrice glad am I my wedding garments are gorgeous enough for a king's
court," Martha said.

"Talk of a king's court would be pleasant save for the glint of yonder
sword.  Lazarus, is there harm or danger for him we love in all this
thou tellest?" and there was grave concern in Mary's face.

"There hath been dark mutterings and Pilate's wrath will be sore
kindled by what hath taken place.  But the sons of Judah are brave and
the Lion of the Tribe shall prevail."

"Glad I am that ever I have given the Master of the best wine and
richest sop!" Martha exclaimed.

"My heart doth rejoice that while he was yet poor, our home hath been
his.  Even as our fathers did entertain angels unawares, so have we
given shelter to a King," Mary said.

"Hath not thy heart from the beginning taken him for a King, Mary?"
Lazarus asked.  "Yea, even _thy_ King?"

"Since first I saw him in the portals of the Temple have I loved him
whom thou sayest is to be King."

"So!  So!" shouted Martha, laughing.  "Even more than a friend may I be
to the King of the Jews, for doth not the Master love our Mary?"

"Methought thou hast feigned blindness these months," Lazarus said to
Martha.

"Blind was I in the beginning since I took not notice of signs.  But,
brother, when thou didst die, my eyes came open.  After thou hadst been
dead four days, and the Master came, methought he would ask straightway
concerning thy sickness that did take thee to the tomb, and that he
would speak comfort.  But not so.  Of Mary did he straightway ask and
to Mary did he bid me hasten, saying he had come.  Aye, even though
half Jerusalem had gone to thy grave to mourn did he have eyes for
none.  And when Mary did come--ah, that thou might'st have seen!  At
the feet of him did she fall crying, 'Jesus--Jesus, if thou hadst been
here my brother had not died!'  Tears wet her cheeks as she held her
face to his and her voice broke with sobs.  Then beholding her, he too
did weep.  And the Jews which looked on said, 'Behold, how much did he
love Lazarus.'  Yet did I know he wept not for thee, my brother, but
rather because the heart of Mary was nigh broken with sorrow.  Thus did
the scales drop from my eyes and I did see that the Master loveth our
Mary more than us all.  So it seemeth good that I may be sister of the
King of the Jews."

Mary clasped her hands and lifted her eyes, "The Lord be good!" she
said softly.  "The Lord be praised!  Our brother hath been restored
from the tomb and the Master hath been acclaimed King of the Jews, even
as good Elizabeth prophesied a year ago."

"And while thou dost lift thy voice in praise, forget not that this is
the downfall of that crafty fox of an Idumean who hath climbed to the
throne of the Jews by one murder following another murder until the
name of Herod is but a hiss.  But his days are numbered now!"

While Lazarus had been speaking Martha had turned back to the carved
chest and taken out the jeweled girdle.  She held it toward Lazarus
saying, "Thou hast not yet seen this, my brother, nor my veil."

Lazarus took the jeweled belt and laughed.  "It is fine.  Anything
else, for it doth seem my eyes must behold thy finery before the
Kingdom be discussed."

"Look here!  See this!" and Martha improved the chance to interest her
brother by taking again from the chest the shawl and the robe.

When he had hastily passed approval of them he turned to Mary and said:
"Where is thy finery?  Open thou thy chest and bring forth thy
treasures also."

In reply Mary opened her chest and took out an alabaster vase of rare
design.  She laughed as she showed it to him saying, "This, my
alabaster box of very precious ointment thou gavest me, is all my chest
contains, and the seal of it remains unbroken.  Yet do I treasure it
against the day when it shall make my wedding veil fragrant as a field
of lilies.  When I am spoken for I will fill my chest with wedding
garments as hath Martha."

"And if thou art spoken for by the King of the Jews, like a queen must
thou be decked.  Glad am I, my sister, that thou art fair.  Aye, just
now will I deck thee in my wedding garments and see thee shine," and
Martha took from the chest a golden scarf, a spangled veil and some
strings of beads.  With the gold and spangled cloth she draped Mary.
The jeweled girdle was coiled about her head like a crown and her
flowing hair was hung with strands of shining beads.

When Martha had finished, Lazarus, who stood by looking on with
interest, said, "Thou lackest a scepter, Mary.  Take thou the sword,"
and he rested it against her knee and stood back with Martha to get the
effect.

"God of our fathers!" Martha exclaimed with smiling face.  "Among all
the daughters of Jerusalem none is more fair than our Mary."

"But I like it not.  Behold!  A sword hath been given me and he that
hath been called to bring the Kingdom doth ever teach those are blessed
who make not war, but who bring peace.  Take thou the sword.  It doth
savor of Rome, of battle-fields, cries of pain, black wings over far
fields of death and little children crying for fathers who will come no
more.  Take thou the sword."

"Not even in the raiment of a queen canst thou forget the words of the
Master.  Thou art queer, Mary," Lazarus said as he took the sword.

"Nor do I like the heavy weight of jewels on my brow nor pearls hanging
down my hair.  Aye, Lazarus, hath not thy lips just passed the word
that the poor breathe curses against Herod because that of their
nakedness he doth wear jewels, of their starvation doth he fatten with
rich food, of their misery doth come his ease even as these things come
to Pilate and to Caesar?  Should one woman wear on her brow that for
which the peasants of Galilee suffer and sweat and toil?  Nay, nay.
Not such a Kingdom preacheth the Master."

"Thou and the Master doth love peace.  So did our father David.  Yet
was it not the will of God that he lift the sword most mightily?  How
can a Kingdom come without the sword?"

"I know not the manner of its coming, my brother.  But the Kingdom the
Master doth preach cometh first within the heart of man.  And if the
members of a man's life lift up the sword of disagreement between
themselves, will the Kingdom be destroyed and not built up."

"I understand not the meaning of thy speech, my sister, and reason
telleth me the Kingdom cometh by the sword."

"Great is the mystery of the coming of the Kingdom," Mary assented.
"Yet there are hearts that understand what reason never knew or hath
forgotten.  But go thou now to rest.  The day hath been full of
wonders--and of weariness, as my eye can see in thy face though it doth
glow with joy."

"Yea, the day hath been full of wonders and the morrow will be big with
an event which shall be known throughout the earth.  In thy dreams
to-night, my gentle Mary, shout praises to the King, that thy lips may
be shaped for great rejoicing when the new day cometh!"



CHAPTER XXIII

YE GENERATION OF VIPERS

For several days before the Passover celebration every highway leading
to Jerusalem had been ground to fine dust by the hoofs of flocks and
herds, and of slow asses laden with coops of doves and by the wheels of
carts heavy with lambs--all moving toward the sacrificial knives of the
Temple.  By the morning of the day preceding that of the Great Feast,
at an early hour all was life and excitement in the Outer Court of the
Temple.  Here booths and stalls had been erected for traffic in
everything from oil and wine to graven earrings, and although such was
forbidden, yet for more than half a century had the House of Annas
grown rich from the tax on Temple traffic and no man had dared speak
openly against it.

Not only was this income great, but there were yet greater returns from
the tables of the money-changers.  From all portions of the world came
devout Jews to the Passover each contributing his compulsory half
shekel tribute money.  As this tax money must by law be paid in Hebrew
coin, the money-changing business was established and the favored ones
who were allowed to operate in the Temple took the best places which
they filled with chests and sacks of Hebrew money, mostly mites and
farthings, and with unfilled boxes and bags in which to store the
foreign coin taken in at an exorbitant exchange profit.  While the
tradesmen and stock drivers had begun early to prepare for a season of
unusual profit making, the money-changers had not forgotten their
interests.  Indeed, this aristocracy of profit makers had held council
but the night before and agreed on the price of exchange and the extra
soldiery necessary for handling such troublesome strangers as might
raise objections should a spurious coin lodge in an honest palm.  Among
the money-lenders none was more keenly alive to his own interests than
Zador Ben Amon who by gift-giving and cunning had secured a place for
his long table near the steps leading from the Outer Court up to the
Beautiful Gate.  In addition to this choice place of business, Ben Amon
had a gold and silver shop on the other side of the Outer Court and
half a dozen more scattered through the city.  In each of these places
he had trusted salesmen and trusted watchers all of whom he himself
watched.


It was early on the morning following the day he had been publicly
proclaimed King with such a mighty demonstration, that Jesus made his
way over Olivet from Bethany to Jerusalem.  As was his pleasure
oftentimes, he walked alone.  The greater number who had followed him
the day before were Galileans and those who camped with them beyond the
city walls.  These would not have business in the Temple until a later
hour nor did he expect recognition that would give him any publicity
from strangers or the busy tradesmen.  Before the Golden Gate he paused
and lifted his eyes.  On each side were handsome pillars said to have
been brought to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba.  But he was not thinking
of these.  Perhaps he heard the glad hosannahs ringing as they had
sounded but a day before.  Perhaps it was the bleating of young lambs
he heard; perhaps the voice of a woman as she bade him not be late at
the day's dinner where he was to be an honored guest.

Standing but a moment he passed under the gate and through the city
streets to the Temple.  As he entered the portals of Solomon's Porch
the babel of many tongues, the ring of hammers and the hoarse shouting
of cattle drivers reached his ear and prepared his eye for the picture
of activity it would behold in the Outer Court.  With every step he
took, the noise and confusion grew.  Wishing to study the crowd without
himself being seen, he climbed on to the marble balustrade of the Outer
Court where it ran between two pillars and in the niche thus made
concealed himself.

Directly across from where he stood was the table of Zador Ben Amon
with two servants already in charge and a watcher to keep his eye on
the chests and bags under the table.  At this stand business had
already begun.  A Roman Jew had just left with his good Hebrew coin,
and an Egyptian had come up, when a woman with two men stopped in front
of the Galilean so that he could no longer see the money-changing going
on.  The woman wore the garb of a widow.  One of the men was a scribe.
The other man was a Pharisee.  The face of the woman was much troubled
and she plead with the scribe and the Pharisee.  And when they would
have left her she clung to them and passed on thus into the crowd.
Very shortly after the three had passed the Galilean, he saw this same
scribe at the money table across the way.  He seemed to be buying a bag
of coins, most likely mites for alms giving.

For half an hour the Galilean Rabbi watched the moving people from
where he stood.  Then he left the place and went into the Woman's
Court.  As there could be no traffic carried on here, there were few
people and less noise, and he had not gone far when he heard some one
weeping.  He soon found it to be the widow he had seen a short time
before.  Without hesitation he approached her.  "Why weepest thou?" he
asked.

"The inheritance of my father hath been taken from me.  The mother of
six small men children I am and my husband hath died.  And now no place
of shelter have I."

"Who hath taken thy home?"

"The scribe took it not--so sayeth he.  The Pharisee took it not--so
sayeth he.  But the two of them have taken my shelter to satisfy the
Law--so say they."

"A scribe and a Pharisee.  They are wolves in sheep's clothing!"

"Yea--but doth this get back for me my inheritance?  Canst thou help
me?  My husband hath died and I am defrauded of all I possess."

"Silver and gold have I none--yet shall there be a reckoning!"

"My shelter is taken!  My husband is dead and there is none to defend
me!" and the woman turned her face again to the wall and wept bitterly.

The Galilean stood for a moment.  Then he turned back and crossed the
Outer Court coming into the porch.  Here the sound of a trumpet
attracted his attention.  It was a Pharisee announcing his time of
prayer.  And when a crowd had gathered the Pharisee threw back his head
and beat his breast until his frontlet dangled, and he thanked God he
was not as other men.  And lo, it was the one who had robbed the widow.
The Galilean felt the flush of anger heat his cheek and he clenched his
fist as in childhood days he had done when some injustice demanded
relief at his hands.  With rising indignation he watched the Pharisee
until a part of his long and carefully worded prayer had been told into
the ear of the public.

As Jesus passed down the steps at no great distance he heard shouting
and scuffling.  Here he saw the scribe who had purchased coins from the
table of Zador Ben Amon.  A crowd of beggars had gathered and when the
lawyer threw out the coins there was a great scramble and shoving and
cursing.  Those who picked up a coin shouted.  Those who found none,
fought.  As a coin rolled toward the young Rabbi he picked it up and a
look of surprise showed on his face as he examined it.  Then again rose
his anger and indignation, for the coin was spurious, as he soon found
others to be.

Again he clenched his fist and the impulse came to strike, but he put
it away and leaving the Temple turned his feet toward a narrow back
street where the poverty-stricken swarmed.  Here the pallid faces of
the hungry, and the maimed bodies of many men told something of the
suffering inflicted on these poor by the late wars.  As he made his way
through this district, the heart of Jesus was bowed under a great
weight which was growing heavier and heavier as he acquainted himself
with the mass suffering.  Following a narrow street to a side gate he
went beyond the city walls into a place of stony valleys and gloomy
ravines that made the quarries and pools of Jerusalem.  In this place,
fed by waters running through a subterranean passage from a fountain,
was the Pool of Siloam.  Gathered here on the broad stone steps that
ran to the water's edge, was the outcast poor and the crippled.  For a
time the Galilean looked upon the scene of helplessness and pain with
eyes of infinite compassion and pity, then turning his back on the
basin of Siloam's misery, he lifted his eyes to Zion on the Mount and
with a long deep sigh exclaimed: "Jerusalem!  Jerusalem!"

Retracing his steps, Kedron came into view and again he paused.  As he
looked into the valley the stream ran brown.  To-morrow it would carry
clots of rosy foam under which the current would be dark and ruddy.
Even as he looked upon it, the lambs were bleating in the stalls.  The
picture of the bloody sacrifice came before him--the awe-inspiring
congregation of two hundred thousand of 'God's chosen ones.'  At the
ninth hour three blasts of the silver trumpet would start the surging
chant of five thousand Levites and signal the beginning of the
slaughter.  And in the next six hours two hundred thousand lambs must
be slain and carried away from the gate.

"What availeth all this?" he said to himself.


When Jesus reentered the Temple, several hours had passed.  The noise
in the Outer Court had now grown to a deafening roar.  Cattle were
lowing and lambs bleating.  Men shouted and cursed when an affrighted
animal broke its tether.  The voices of other men were heard calling
their wares at shop entrances and booths, and the air was heavy with
the stench of goats and cattle dung.  Making his way through the crowd
he found the niche between the pillars and again stepped into it to
look for a few moments upon the scene of uproar and confusion.  There
was nothing to indicate a place of worship.  Rather was it a great
bazaar of shops with competition so keen at times as to give promise of
the use of fists.  In addition to the stalls of lambs and pigeons and
the booths of oil and wine and wheat required for the sacrifices, there
were stands for vase sellers, brass and copper dealers, dealers in
ovens, dishes and bottles, silk merchants and jewelers and traffickers
in imported goods.

The crowd was made up mostly of tradespeople and strangers with a
sprinkling of Temple Guards and here and there scribes and Pharisees.
The gleam of spear points of the Legion told that an extra guard had
been sent in from the Tower of Antonio, and Jesus noticed that this
guard was well established around the tables of the money-changers.
His eye turned again to the table directly in front of him and now for
the first time he saw its owner.  He smiled at the memory of a startled
face looking at him in the dark from over a water-jar.  But Zador Ben
Amon did not look his way now.  He was busy passing on the value of
coins and in seeing that any who complained were well pushed out of the
way by soldiers, to be swallowed up by the crowd.  For a time Jesus
watched the game.  The last victim of the unscrupulous money-changer
was a Galilean peasant, whose travel-stained and shabby body covering,
bent shoulders and knotted hands bespoke poverty.  When the change was
pressed into his hand he refused to accept it.  There were words.  The
peasant was ordered by Zador Ben Amon to move on.  This he refused to
do.  Guards were summoned and when the man, who had been robbed of his
one coin, still clamored for his money, he was cruelly beaten and
dragged away to the stocks.

The Galilean watching from the balustrade felt again the fierce anger
sweeping over him and he left his place of watching with his face
turned in the direction of the money-changers.  As he crossed the court
he stopped at a goat pen.  A dozen goats were just being brought in on
the shoulders of as many men.  As the animals were pushed into the pen
the thongs that bound their legs were cast aside.  Selecting a handful
of these Jesus pressed on.  When he reached the table of Zador Ben
Amon, this mighty Sadducee was not in sight.  But business was going on
and, quite near at hand, the Galilean watched the money-changing while
his quick fingers plaited a scourge, and the muscles of his arm called
him to action.  He spoke no word and no man noticed the flush on his
face nor the fire in his eye until the hiss of the thong sang over the
heads of those about the table of Ben Amon and its stinging force fell
across those who bent over the money bags.  There was a yell, and
another hissing of the thongs.  Then the words rang out in a shout of
mighty condemnation, "Ye have made my Father's house _a den of
thieves_!"  And the thong writhed and hissed and struck and stung and
the coin-laden tables were overturned with the ease and fury of an
enraged man brushing straw aside.  Seeing the uproar about his table,
Zador Ben Amon pushed his way through the confusion just in time to see
two well filled money bags kicked open by a fellow money-changer trying
to escape the scourge.  With a shout and a curse he sprang forward.  As
he did so the hiss of the burning thongs sounded in his ears and the
next instant he was blinded by the stinging pain of the scourge as
blood ran across his cheeks and into his well oiled beard.

With incredible swiftness the money-changers had been driven out and
the cleanser of the Temple had mounted the steps of the Beautiful Gate,
and thong in hand was looking out on a scene unparalleled.  Servants of
money-changers were creeping about the floor; thieves were quickly at
work stealing from those who had stolen, and the money-changers
themselves, Zador Ben Amon with bloody face among them, were struggling
desperately to get possession of their bags before their contents
should be wholly appropriated by itching fingers.  Running in and out
among the affrighted people were animals yet more affrighted whose
bleating and bellowing mingled with the outcries of men, while over the
heads of them all flocks of frightened doves with swift wing sought
escape to the open.

There was a call for guards, but the man pausing on the steps for a
passing moment only smiled as he saw them search for one who so boldly
stood before them.  But if the guards knew not where to look for him,
there were those who saw, and in the commotion, when the question was
asked, "Who did this thing?" the answer was, "Jesus, the Prophet of
Nazareth of Galilee who hath been acclaimed King of the Jews.  He hath
taken charge of the Temple!  Let us see what cometh."

The first development from the confusion was the appearance of a number
of scribes, Pharisees and Chief Priests who made their way in a body to
the foot of the steps where he who had wrought the confusion stood.
Fear, surprise and anger in varying degree marked the faces of these
Temple officials.  But their wrath was as nothing beside the righteous
indignation of him who stood, thong in hand, awaiting their coming.
They stopped at the foot of the steps--beyond reach of the weapon in
his hand.  And from this safe distance they challenged his right and
his authority.

A moment he regarded them in silent scorn, then he twisted the whip
into a loose roll and flung it at their feet saying, "Woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  Ye shut up the Kingdom of Heaven
against men!  Woe unto you, hypocrites!  Ye devour widows' houses and
for a pretense make long prayers.  Therefore ye shall receive the
greater damnation!  Woe unto ye, blind guides!  Ye pay the tithe of
mint and anise and cummin and omit the weightier matters of the
Law,--judgment, mercy and faith.  Ye blind guides which strain at a
gnat and swallow a camel!  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites!  Ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter,
but within they are full of extortion and excess!  Woe, woe unto you!
Ye are like whited sepulchres which indeed appear beautiful outward but
within are full of dead men's bones!  Woe unto you, scribes, Pharisees,
hypocrites!  Ye build tombs for the prophets and garnish the sepulchres
of the righteous while ye yourselves be children of them which _killed_
the prophets!  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers!  Ye
serpents!  How can ye escape the damnation of hell?  Ye generation of
vipers!"

A murmur was heard from the crowd which threatened to grow into a
mighty demonstration, when, beginning on the outer edge, it died
suddenly.  In its place was heard the measured tramp of feet and the
clanking of arms.  As if a magic wand had been extended over the
people, the mass separated in the middle, forming an aisle through
which came the High Priest's guard of Roman spearmen.  Tongues stopped
wagging.  Something was going to happen.  The tinkle of golden bells
told that the High Priest himself approached, and every eye was turned
to look upon him.  Imperious in the splendor of his exalted office he
made his way.  His robe of blue and purple and scarlet, his gorgeous
colored coat, his purple mitre and above all the sacred breast-plate
sparkling with its twelve emblematic jewels as it hung in place on blue
cords through gold rings, were in strong contrast to the plain and worn
garment of the man who waited under the high arch of the Beautiful Gate
with arms folded across his breast.  An intense stillness fell over the
gathering--such a hush as marked the circus arena in Rome when
gladiatorial combatants came together in the death-struggle.  As Annas,
the All-Powerful head of God's elect priesthood, neared the end of the
open path cut through the throng, the Galilean lifted his eyes from the
surrounding scene and entered into some high place of communion.  The
flush of anger left his face.  The calm of the Eternal took its place,
and the High Priest with his Roman spearmen lined behind him stood
without recognition for a moment.  When the Galilean turned his eyes on
Annas he looked down as if from some vast height.

The lips of the High Priest moved, but something in the majestic mien
and unfathomable eye of the one before him stopped the words
half-formed.  A second and third time his tongue raised itself to shape
words, but the silent one before him gave unuttered command for
silence.  The conflict was on.  Not a conflict of gleaming blades; not
a conflict of cunning, neither of Senatorial oratory, nor contention of
the wise gone mad.  In the arena of the occult was the conflict on
between such forces as move constellations and give birth to worlds.
And the one force was white and the one was black.  The one was the
will of God leading by way of man's reason to Liberty and Life.  The
other was perversion leading by way of servile obedience to Bondage and
Death.  The one was Reality; the other but the Passing Show.  So
intense was the conflict of these unseen forces that it drew the
multitude into its silent circle and held it spellbound.  On the face
of Annas alone was the progress of the fierce and deadly conflict
written in terms of such hatred as made him appear almost inhuman.  Yet
the destructive force of the terrible vibration he sent out touched not
the poise and calm of the Galilean, but after the law of like force it
followed the arc of its own circle back into the breast that wore the
twelve-jeweled breast-plate.

The nerve strain that seemed tearing the soul of the High Priest was
communicating itself to the congregation when the tense and awful
stillness was broken by a shout.  "Thou art the King!" a mighty voice
called above the heads of the people.  "Jesus of Nazareth, thou art the
King!"

With an involuntary sigh of relief the people turned from the silent
actors in the drama taking place under the Beautiful Gate, to learn who
had spoken.  A third time the shout rang out: "Thou art the King!"  Now
the people saw.  It was a fisherman supported above the crowd on the
shoulders of two Galileans.  He shook a dingy red head-cloth as he
shouted.  The suppressed feeling of the crowd now gave way to a great
murmur like that of a sea with a tide turning in, but before there was
a demonstration a wild cry sounded through the court.

A soldier standing beneath the shouting fisherman had bent his body
backward, as he gave command for silence, that he might the better face
him who did the unlawful act.  Casting his eye down as the soldier
prodded him on the leg, the fisherman saw something that changed the
shout on his lips to a curse.  The next instant, as if it had been
hurled from the heavens, the keen, two-edged blade of a fishing knife
had lodged its point in the heart of the Roman.  While the dying cries
of the spearman yet moved the multitude to frenzied curiosity, Jael the
fisherman, the High Priest and Jesus of Nazareth, each according to his
own way, left the Temple.



CHAPTER XXIV

BY THIS WITNESS

At the Bethany home on the following afternoon Joseph of Arimathea and
Lazarus discussed the great drama that had taken place in the Temple
and the danger coming out of it that would be added to the peril the
Galilean was already in, because of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
While the men discussed the day's excitement, Martha told Mary of her
visit to Jerusalem, as they sat in the garden on the edge of the stone
basin, from which place Martha could watch the gate for the arrival of
Eli from market.

"To-day while in Jerusalem," said Martha, "did Anna and Debora and I
seek to make our way into the Temple, yet we got no farther than
Solomon's Porch for here a thick crowd did stay our steps.  As we
pressed around one of the great pillars, we heard a voice.  'It is thy
friend Rabbi Jesus,' said Anna.  And by squeezing and struggling we
pressed close until our eyes fell upon him in the midst of his
disciples and a throng of strangers.  When I did cast my eye from him
to the other side, it fell upon a beautiful woman wearing a dull mantle
and a veil about her head.  Beside her stood a massive slave with a
scar on his cheek like the cut of a thrashing scythe.  And the face of
the woman and the face of the slave were set toward the Master.  As she
stood, a passer-by brushed her veil from her head, when, from under her
dull cloak she did reach a hand as resplendent with jewels as the
breast-plate of the High Priest.  Then her arm appeared, and, lo, it
was banded with gold and with chains of jewels, and also where the dull
garment did part I saw the sheen of rare silk and fringes of silver and
gold that glistened.  Anna also saw and whispered 'Who is she?'  Yet
neither the woman nor the slave saw aught but Jesus.  And as they
listened to his words, tears gathered in the dark eyes of the great
slave and like rivers of water crossing a deep gorge did pass the bold
scar and drop over its edge.  And as his tears fell Jesus turned to the
scarred face, and Mary--what thinkest thou?  It were as though I could
read the look Jesus gave, which was writ in the light that did break
over that scarred face, making it shine like the sun.  And, too, his
eye did find the woman of rich robes well concealed, and did rest on
her face, and her face gave back an answer which was none other than
that she loved him.  It passed in a moment and the woman spoke to the
scarred slave who wiped the tears from that cruelly marked face, as
slowly they turned away, the slave following the woman at a distance
because of those who pushed between.  And when the slave was passing
the place where Jesus stood, the Master moved near him and spoke a few
words which again did bring such a light as was a miracle on so ugly a
countenance.  While he paused, the woman looked back and seeing who
spoke with her slave, waited.  Then did Anna and Debora and thy sister
Martha follow them to the portico."

"Thou hast forgotten something, Martha.  Of importance, it is," Mary
said.

"What is of importance?"

"The words of the Master.  What said he that did hold together the
crowd, that did bring tears to the scarred face of the slave and that
did drive them away again with a glad light?"

"I know not.  My eyes were too busy to give my ears a chance.  At the
portico a chariot and horses were waiting, such as the Romans drive.
Mighty were their necks, and gorgeous were their trappings.  Before the
chariot the woman removed her dull coat and gave place to one like her
jewels; and the scarred slave did show her great homage, as if she were
a queen.  When she was seated in the chariot he questioned her, and
Mary--my sister Mary--who thinkest thou this gorgeous woman is?"

"Of the many gorgeous ones in Jerusalem, why asketh thou?"

"There is but one such in Jerusalem."

"Who is the woman?"

"The words she did speak, I will tell thee.  Then wilt thou know.  To
the scarred slave she said, 'Drive thou to the Praetorium.  Thy Lord
Pilate awaits thy mistress Claudia.'"

"Thou hast seen Pilate's wife!" and Mary's voice was alive with
interest.

"Yea, the wife of that vile heathen who sticketh spears into
Israelites, as a bold child picks wings from flies--for no reason save
to see them kick."

"And the wife of Pilate hath looked on the face of Jesus.  Her ear hath
heard the words of him who speaks as never man hath spoken."

"Yea, and she doth love him."

"Oh, that thou hadst heard his words, Martha."

"Rather that I might possess a chain of beads such as hung from her
shoulder.  But look thee down the roadway.  There cometh Eli toiling up
the path with no more speed than if he were not already two hours late."

When Martha and Mary entered the house, Eli, loaded with bundles, was
coming in the door from the roadway.

"Thou art much loaded," Lazarus said, looking up.

"And thou art much late," Martha added.

"Behind a tomb black and stale have I tarried."

"Hast thou been near a tomb with thy meat?" Martha asked in alarm.

"I touched not the unclean thing though close was I driven.  Yet did my
tongue shake for fear of the plot."

"Plot?" quickly exclaimed Lazarus.

"What plot?" Joseph as quickly asked.

"The tombs throw not shadows while the sun yet hangs high.  Methinks
the man hath the plot in his own head," Martha said.

"The sun tarrieth not for the Passover rabble to finish its haggling
over locusts and fish and oil.  Ugh!  The mob!  And as I struggled for
a place at the fish stand the sun passed over the mountain and left the
valley grim.  And lo, as I did travel, my fish and my sparrows slipped
from me and to escape the hoofs and dust of a party of pilgrims I took
my way behind an ancient tomb a long time used of sheep, to bind up my
bundles.  And no sooner had I sat me on the green than I heard a voice.
Yet saw I no man.  Again I heard the voice like a whisper.  Then did
fear lay hold of me lest the tomb be a den of ghosts and glad I was
that the wall on the back was thick.  Near this thick wall I put my
back.  Then the ghostly voice sounded nearer and I found my ear against
a crack and I listened, for, though great my fear, my curiosity to hear
the speech of ghosts overcame it.  And when my ear lay close the voice
was no longer that of a ghost but of a man who hatched a plot which
another who is not a ghost listened to."

"What is the plot?" Lazarus asked again.

"That I learned not though my ears did itch."

"A plot thou hast heard--a plot that hath made thine ears itch, yet
neither dost thou know the plotter nor the plot.  The ears of an ass
are thine."

Eli gathered up his bundles.  "If the plot shall come to pass then will
thy eyes drop water-jars of tears and thy head know all are not fools
who carry bundles," and he turned toward the court.

"Stay," said Lazarus.  "Of a plot thou knowest, yet knowest not.  Of a
plotter thou knowest, but knowest not.  What dost thou know?"

"Little--save him they whispered against. . .  Him I know, and that the
one who hatched the evil did come from the Temple."

"From the Temple!"  It was Joseph who spoke and his words were an
exclamation.

"Yea.  And the evil one he whispered with is one who knoweth thy friend
Jesus."

"Jesus!" exclaimed Lazarus and Mary in a breath.  "Dost thou speak of
_our_ Jesus?"

"A plot against Jesus?" Lazarus asked.  "Put thy goods down, thou fool,
and tell what thou knowest."

"Already have I told that for which I was called a fool."

"What hast thou heard?  Out with it!" and Lazarus helped Eli unload his
bundles again.

With the party gathered closely about him Eli said, "There is naught to
tell save that some one who hath been much about the Temple did make an
offer of money for knowledge of the hiding-place of Jesus when he is
not at Bethany.  To do him harm was the purpose of the evil one, who
did much thick-lipped whispering."

"What harm would this enemy of the Master do to him?" and Mary waited
before Eli for an answer.

"Plotters plot death," he answered shortly, taking up his bundles.

"God of our fathers!" Mary cried.  "What doth this mean?  Lazarus, my
brother Lazarus, Joseph, Father Joseph--let not harm come to him we
love!  Promise me--promise me!" and she held out her hands.

Taking her hands in his Joseph said, "Let not fear take possession of
thy heart but rather thank thy God that thy servant did hide behind the
tomb.  Knowledge is better than swords.  The young man hath life in his
veins.  He hath a great work to do.  He courts not death.  With
knowledge aforetime of a plot, escape will be easy.  But what is this
plot?  Who is this enemy?  Is it of Rome, or the Great Sanhedrin?"

Lazarus, who had been walking the floor while Joseph spoke, stopped
before Mary.  "Yea, Mary," he said, "thank Jehovah that this hath been
revealed, for while the source and manner of the plot doth not appear,
yet there is safety in the warning.  Soon will he be with us to hear
the news.  From the fox that hath oft crossed his path on Galilean
hills hath he learned how to hide.  From the hare that he hath seen
running before the wolf hath he learned the wisdom of flight.  Until
the Passover is done must his whereabouts be kept dark.  After this, a
far journey."

Eli, with both hands full of packages, had gone as far as the door and
stopped.  He seemed waiting for something, and when Lazarus had
finished he said, "That which an enemy of thy friend dropped, was
picked up by the hand of Eli."

"What picked thou up?  Money?" Lazarus asked.

"Nay--yet did I think that which he dropped and muttered curses over
was money else would my feet have made wider space between the tomb and
the place of his standing.  An old and open tomb was it around which
the smell of sheep hung heavy, and a bush of thorns grew at its corner
and sent branches across the entrance.  And when the enemy of thy
friend would have held the branches down to walk over them, a thorn
pierced his hand and he did curse.  When he let go his hold of the
branches, they did leap up and catch his garment.  And again did he
curse, saying he had suffered a loss.  When he had gone and was well
hid in the distance, then did Eli go by the thorn bush to find what had
been lost, and there on the sharp thorn stuck a bit of the garment of
this cursing enemy.  So I tore it loose to bring to Martha for I saw it
had pleasant threads woven in it.  And when I stooped to pick up my
bundles at my feet, I found a treasure which I did bring Mary.  Put thy
hand in my wallet and take out that which doth shine but is not money."

With hurried fingers Mary opened the wallet while the others stood
about looking eagerly on.  When she had drawn out that which was not
money, and before those standing by had seen what it was, she dropped
it to the floor and sprang back, screaming.

"Hast thou been stung by an adder?" Lazarus cried.

"Yea--yea.  There it is!" and she pointed to a shining gold circlet
lying at the hem of Joseph's robe.  Lazarus picked it up.  A bit of
blue border with a purple stripe and a red pomegranate, whose ragged
edges showed that it had been torn from a garment, was twisted in one
side of it.  Every eye in the room was on the circlet when Lazarus
placed it on the table, and they all gathered close around except Mary,
who stood back watching the faces of Lazarus and Joseph.  Martha took
the bit of blue wool from the circlet, while Lazarus lifted up the gold
itself, and the two looked at each other in speechless questioning.
Then Lazarus turned to Mary.

"What is the mystery of this that our servant Eli hath found at the
mouth of a sheep ridden tomb?"

"Mary seeth little of mystery but much of danger in that which thy hand
holdeth," she answered.

"Thou gavest Zador Ben Amon back his betrothal anklet?"

"Yea, by putting it, unbeknown to him, in the border of his coat."

"Where it was tightly sewn the next day and hath remained in the dark
until torn out by the sharp thorn, methinks," said Martha.

As Joseph, standing by, heard this brief conversation, his face took on
a puzzled expression, seeing which Lazarus said, "Thou dost not
understand.  Here is that which seemeth to uncover to us the enemy of
our friend Jesus.  He is Zador Ben Amon, a Sadducee of power and a
money-lender of great wealth.  The man did have his heart set on Mary
and did bring this anklet as a betrothal gift.  But my sister loved him
not, nor listened to his proposal for marriage and this gift she gave
to him again."

"Yea, by putting it in the border of his cloak where methought he would
find it on the morrow."

Joseph looked at the anklet.  Then he raised his eyes to the face of
Mary.  "Thou didst not love the money-changer?"

"Nay!  Nay!"

"Thy heart hath taken its way wisely.  By this witness," and he tapped
the shining ring with his long forefinger, "he is," and the aged Rabbi
bent his shoulders until his face was even with that of Mary, "he is a
_murderer_!"

"Yea, yea--a murderer he is--_by this witness_," Mary promptly answered.

"Is this Jew whose sensuous advances thou hast repulsed, acquainted
with thy friendship for the Galilean?"

"I know not."

Joseph considered the matter a moment.  When he spoke again it was to
Lazarus.  "There is a reason the money-changer is an enemy of our
friend Jesus.  It may be the woman.  But in the money-changer's
balances where gold doth weigh heavy, women weigh light.  It is more
likely this cometh of the swift and terrible scourging suffered by the
money-changers at the hand of our brave friend.  If so, a third source
of danger ariseth.  The wrath of Pilate is the wrath of Rome--a
political danger--ever deadly.  The wrath of the High Priest Annas is a
religious wrath, cunning, and cruel as the grave.  But the wrath of
Zador Ben Amon is both these and more, for hath not the Master himself
said, 'The love of money is the root of _all_ evil'?  Protected must
our friend be against this threefold danger until he can escape, and
God forbid that he fall into the hands of the enemy!"

"Yea--God forbid," Mary repeated with trembling voice.  "Thinkest thou
harm hath befallen him so soon?  See--the sun is sinking, yet he cometh
not!"  Choking back a sob Mary went into the court and to the place at
the wall where she could watch down the roadway.

"Mary hath gone to watch for the Master," Martha said.

"She loveth him much," Joseph answered thoughtfully.

"Even so.  Yet it is not seemly for a Jewish woman to let a man know
she loveth him as doth Mary."

"Would that I knew," said Joseph without answering Martha's remark,
"whether the voice in the tomb were the voice of the Great Sanhedrin.
The spirit of murder brooded over the meeting I did attend
to-day--murder in the name of Moses and the prophets."

"Murder thou sayest!" Lazarus exclaimed in astonishment.

"Yea--murder.  Such is the spirit brooding over the priests."

The silence following this declaration was broken by a sharp cry coming
from Mary in the garden.  "Martha!  Lazarus!  Father Joseph!" and her
voice was tense with excitement.

"What?  What?" they cried, rushing to the door.

"The God of our fathers be praised!'"

"Yea--yea--but for what?"

"He is safe!  He is safe!  The Master cometh!"



CHAPTER XXV

IN THE GARDEN

The Passover moon was shedding its soft light over the garden of
Lazarus, when Mary and Martha came from the house and sat down on the
broad rim of the fountain basin.  The day had been a busy one, and the
day to follow was to be crowded yet fuller with work and pleasure for
it was the day of the Great Feast.

"Anna's father doth give a feast to-morrow for his Passover guests, and
for Jesus, who will be gone with the sunrise on the third day that he
may escape danger.  Joel hath been bidden with Lazarus, and Anna doth
desire that we come to help her with the serving," Martha said as a
beginning to her comment on the hospitality of Simon.

While they discussed the feast to be given by their neighbor, Lazarus
joined them and said to Martha, "I am going to Simon's and Anna doth
desire that thou come to plan with her for the feast to-morrow.  Wilt
thou also go, Mary?"

"Who goeth?"

"Joel goeth.  Joseph hath gone to the roof and Jesus doth rest on the
couch in the window."

"I go with thee," and Martha rose and turned to Mary, who said, "Nay, I
go not.  I will stay and gather lilies."

"Hast thou not yet learned the heart of man doth delight in meat and
drink--not in lilies?"

"Thou forgettest the Master, my sister.  The guest of honor will he be
before his long going away, and thinkest thou he will not know whose
hand plucked the lilies?"

"Mary hath the last word on thee, Martha," Lazarus said, laughing.
"Let us be going," and they crossed the garden to the gate that opened
into the court of Simon.

After they had gone, Mary went the length of the garden to her lily
beds.  While she was gathering the blossoms, Jesus came from the house
and looked about him, and as he passed into the shade of the big olive
tree, he discovered Mary.  He stopped and watched her, as with her arms
full of lilies she came toward the pool.  In the silver light of the
moon her soft white garments and silky veil lent spirit-like appearance
to her slender body, and her face was beautiful with a rare beauty not
born of flesh.  When she reached the pool she knelt and placed the lily
stems in the water.  Rising, she hesitated a moment, then turned into
the walk leading to the old stone wall where she often stood to watch
down the roadway for expected guests.  For a few moments she leaned
against the vine-grown stones gazing away into the moonlit distance.
Then she dropped her head on her arms which lay folded across the top
of the wall.

In a little while the stillness of the garden was broken by a voice
which said, "Mary."  She looked up with a start.  Again she heard her
name, "Mary."

Recognizing the voice she ran to the shade of the olive tree
exclaiming, "Master!  Master!"

She found Jesus sitting on the old stone bench and knelt beside him on
a foot-stone.  "Rest thou beside me," he said to her.

"Nay.  Nay.  At thy feet have the hours most precious to my heart been
spent."

"Hath my teaching meant this to thee, Mary?"

"Yea.  It hath meant all in life worth living for."

"Yet didst thou stand at the wall with bowed head."

"Yea.  As the olive branches crossing the moon's light throw shadows
over thy shoulders, so doth fear ofttimes coming across my faith, throw
shadows on my heart.  As I stood by the wall looking down the pathway
thou dost often tread, the words of our servant Eli came to me, and
fear for thy safety like a burden fell upon me.  At other times the
continual changing, maketh my heart sick and my soul to long for that
which changeth not.  To-night thou, Jesus, and I, Mary, sit beneath the
olive shade.  Strong is thy step and in thy voice is mastery.  Abundant
is my hair and dark, and my body is supple and full of life.  Yet will
Time make of thy strength, weakness, and the frost of many winters will
thin my hair and whiten it.  In that day the keepers will tremble, the
silver cord be loosened and the pitcher be broken at the fountain.
Strange feet will tread the paths of Olivet and strange eyes look back
on Jerusalem.  Yet to-night we are here, thou, Jesus, and I, Mary.
To-morrow--and then we shall be no more.  Like feet ever fearful of the
way and reaching for the solid rock, so the heart reaches for that
which changeth not.  Ever thou teachest 'God is love.'  Doth love
change?"

"Nay, Mary.  Love remaineth the same, yesterday, to-day and forever.
Yet the manner of its expression oft changeth.  This knowest thou.  The
child that presseth its lips to her breast and fondleth her cheek, doth
the mother love.  So also doth she love the man that the child groweth
into.  And though he be hanged on the highest tree of Calvary, will she
stand by and cover the hisses of the rabble with her sobs, for she doth
love him though he is no longer at her breast.  The lover doth love his
love in life's springtime with wild passion.  Then her form is round
and her cheek fair and his strength is in the making.  When life's
evening cometh--the flame hath given way to the soft glow.  Then her
shoulders stoop and her cheek is pale and his strength is in the
garner, yet he doth not love the woman less, but differently.  Love is
the soul of the Universe and showing itself in _service_ doth _fulfill
all law_.  My Father worketh hitherto, and I work also."

"Aye, my Master, I know thou lovest.  In a tone akin to reverence hast
thou oft spoken of thy love for thy mother.  With great tenderness
lovest thou little children, and thy fellow man--aye, have I not oft
heard from thy lips that to do away with the kingdom of swords and
hunger and want and bitterness--aye, to bring in the Kingdom of man's
Brotherhood, thou wouldst be willing to lay down thy life?  Strong and
fearless, even tender is thy love as thou art a man.  Yet because thou
art a man, there is a love thou knowest not?"

"There is a love my heart doth not divine?"

"Yea, so my wisdom telleth me.  Yet when I saw thee first a mother's
love shone in thy face."

"And is there a love greater than a mother's love, Mary?"

"Yea, my Master.  There is the love of which this mother-love is born."

"What manner of love is this?" and he leaned toward her as he waited
for her answer.

"Before cometh mother-love, cometh woman's love for a man," she said
after a brief hesitation.

"The mystery thou divinest.  Thou art a woman.  Tell me--what is the
love of a woman for a man?"

"Thou dost ask me concerning the love in the heart of a woman that doth
make it hunger for one man alone--apart from all the world, and in her
dreams feel his arms about her, and beside a cradle look with him upon
bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh?  Dost thou ask me this?"

"I do ask thee, woman."

"And I do answer thee.  A woman's love is a white flame on a deathless
altar burning for the High Priest of her heart, where, over their
united love the Shekinah doth hover as holy incense.  And when the
flame doth burn and the ear be ever listening for the priest in snowy
raiment that cometh not, then doth the flame be ever consuming itself
and the heart groweth sick, for woman's love desireth to give all."

"And doth thy ear listen for the footsteps of thy sacred altar's one
High Priest?"

"Ask me not, my Master--ask me not.  From my heart I have already
lifted the veil too far aside for it is not given woman to speak of her
love, though it is her life.  Yet love is strange--love is holy!"

"Thou sayest well 'Love is strange--love is holy.'  Love is the breath
of God which corruption hath not power to touch.  And as it hath been
ordered of the Creator that woman desire to give all, so hath it been
given to man's love, to ask all--aye, Mary, _to take all_.  So there
are not two loves different.  A man's love and a woman's love are but
the two parts of that love which is both center and circumference of
all that is.  And among mankind it is the love that moves the woman and
the man each to forsake all others and cleave one to the other.  And
thinkest thou I know not this love?  Knowest thou not the fathers of
Israel are a race of lovers?  Did not our Father Jacob toil seven years
for her whom his soul loved?  It were not a female he would take unto
himself, as a beast doth mate, else Leah would have served as well as
Rachael.  But for the love of Rachael did he toil yet other seven
years.  Nor did his body rest in the tomb until her bones lay beside
him.  And of the love of Boaz--were not Israel's kings begotten of this
love?  Aye, it was a lover of Israel that did sing 'Love is strong as
death!'  Of this race that has lived and loved and written of love and
died loving come I.  In my veins doth run the blood of a nation of
lovers.  Rise, Mary, and sit thou beside me.  My heart hath that to say
which my lips have not yet spoken."

When Mary had moved from the stone at his feet to a place beside him,
Jesus said, "Sit thou close to me, aye, so close that not the shadow of
a silver olive leaf can come between our souls--thy soul and mine, for
since mine eyes first beheld thee on the Temple porch thou hast been
more to me than thou canst ever know.  Weary have I oft come to thy
home and thou hast rested me.  Faint-hearted have I come, and thou hast
strengthened me.  Disappointed, and thou hast cheered me; discouraged
with those dull of comprehension and thou hast understood, and while
thou hast sat at my feet to learn, much have I learned of thee.  Yea,
thou hast been my friend, my counselor, my comrade, my disciple--all
things thou hast been to me save one and without this, all other were
but the hunger thy heart doth feel--were but the High Priest waiting
where there were no altar fire.  Mary, thou art my Rachael.  Thou art
my Ruth.  Thou are my Rose of Sharon and my Lily of the Valley.  As a
rose among thorns, so to my heart art thou among the daughters of Zion.
Thou art my soul's beloved!  Woman--woman--I love thee!  Lovest thou me
with the love that is one with mine?"

"Love I thee?  Aye, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.  Love I thee
with all my soul, mind, strength and body.  Yea, I love thee--not for a
moon--not for a harvest--not for a jubilee of years--nay, not for the
long centuries that make dust of our fathers' tombs.  But until the
Jordan forsaketh its course--until the moon droppeth forever behind
Moab's hills--aye, beloved, until the mother forsaketh her son hanging
on the highest tree, will I love thee--and after that _forever_!  For
is not our God love?  And is not God eternal?"

"Ah, Mary!  Mary!  The mystery of Love!  Love is Life.  He hath not
known life who hath not felt the creative energy of the universe
throbbing, breathing in his soul which love bringeth--aye, love of a
woman.  And yet--yet there be some, eunuchs which were so born: there
be eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs which
have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake."  The
last words were spoken by the young Rabbi as if to himself.  He lifted
his face to the moonlight for the moment and something like a sigh
escaped his half closed lips.  Then he turned again to the woman.

"Mary--beloved, there is a cup which each of us must drink.  The cup
that Life hath given me to drink hath ofttimes been filled with the
bitterness of want, with loneliness and heart hunger.  But knowledge of
thy love doth overrun it with exceeding sweetness so that all suffering
seems as naught.  Blessed be the God that hath turned thy heart to me."

Again they sat silent in the shadows of the olive tree for a few
moments.  Then Mary spoke slowly and softly.

"To be here--just here alone with thee!  Better than heaven it is to
hear thy voice, to feel the pressure of thy hand and to know that the
throbbing of thy heart is for Mary.  Thou makest my soul to dwell in
groves of myrrh; to wander on mountains of frankincense and to feed in
valleys of lilies.  Though every drop of water in the fountain, though
every silver leaf on Olivet were the tongue of a Levite shouting
praise, this were faint singing beside the hosannahs of my heart
because I am my beloved's and he is mine!  This were enough--enough!
Let the cup of Life be what it may!  Henceforth thy cup be my cup."

"Knowest thou what thou sayest, woman?  Doth thy heart know?"

"Yea, my heart knoweth.  Where thou goest I will go.  Thy lot shall be
my lot.  Thy dwelling shall be my dwelling whether cave or palace.  Thy
pillow shall be my pillow whether crimson wool or stone.  Thy joy shall
be my joy.  Thy poverty shall be my poverty and my riches, thy riches.
Thy danger shall be mine.  Thy suffering shall be mine and whether come
victory or defeat, this shall be ours together!"

"If victory cometh by way of that which men call 'death,' couldst thou
see victory in this?"

"Speak not of death, my beloved," Mary said quickly, "when life hath
just begun."

"Thou hast great faith, Mary, yea and great love.  Yet do shadows
sometimes fall across thy heart.  So also doth fear cast over my heart
shadows.  Last night in the stillness, words I heard spoken in
Jerusalem did come to me until from the darkness that hung roundabout,
a cross did seem to lift itself and afar I seemed to hear my own voice
calling faintly for water."

"Nay, nay," and there was fear and the burden of a sob in Mary's voice.
"Tell me not this evil thing!  It doth make the shadow of the cross to
fall upon my heart, dark and heavy."

"Be not burdened with it for from my heart all shadow fled with the
coming of the new day.  And to-night, this blessed night, do I feel
life never held so much.  Love maketh it doubly sweet."

"Thou art right.  The cross were but a troubled dream.  For malefactors
and thieves and slaves of Rome is the cross.  But not for a Prophet--a
Rabbi--a Teacher--aye, a King."

"Not for a King sayest thou?  Herein lieth my danger.  Pilate's ear is
never closed nor his lust for blood ever satisfied, neither his greed
for the approval of Caesar, and Pilate's crosses are ever ready for
those who stir up the people.  But weep not nor let thy heart be
troubled.  The uplifted cross of the dream I take as warning.  Daily I
teach in the Temple and none dare take me for my following.  At night I
abide without the city, where, none know save those who are my friends.
When the Passover is done, I will go away for a season."

"Wilt thou be with us to-morrow?  Ah, wilt thou come again to me when
the moon doth rise after to-morrow's busy day?"

"On the morrow we sit at meat with Simon.  The Passover supper I eat
with my disciples in the city, for so have I given my promise.  If all
go well I will return to thee when the moon cometh.  If I am late, wait
thou until the crowing of the cock, for where my treasure is, there is
my heart also, and thither will my feet turn though the hour is late."

The crowing of a cock beyond the garden wall told the man and woman on
the old stone bench that the hour was late.  They arose and stood
together just at the edge of the wavering shadows cast by the ancient
tree.

"Alone on Olivet!" Jesus said in subdued voice.  "How calm--how holy is
the garden, and the new day that the crowing of the cock doth bring to
us . . . . . . . . . . . .  From the little town of Bethany lieth the
road to the City of Zion, whither our feet tend.  But between this calm
and holy place and the towers of snow and gold that shine in glory from
the City of God, lieth Kedron.  Quiet with the hush of long silenced
tongues, and dark with the shadow of tombs, lieth Kedron. . . . . . . .
. . . .  Mary, if it be that for a little time I should go on ahead of
thee, even to the battlements of the New Jerusalem where the saved of
Levi send their glad songs ringing over all earth's valley, will I
watch for thee, my beloved.  And if through the Valley of the Shadow
thou shouldst be called to go alone, remember that I am with thee."

"Remember will I?  Yea, ever will I remember that there is not in the
universe that which can destroy love.  But thou wilt come again on the
morrow night.  I feel it in my heart, and may the Lord watch between
thee and me while we are absent one from the other."

"It shall be even so for what God hath joined together none can put
asunder.  The peace of God that passeth understanding and His
Everlasting Arms of Strength, tender as those about a bride, protect
thee.  Farewell, my Mary.  Woman, fare thee well."

"Farewell, my soul's beloved.  Until the morrow, fare thee well."



CHAPTER XXVI

CLAUDIA AND PILATE

While Mary the Jewess was sitting with the Galilean Rabbi in the
moonlit garden at Bethany, Claudia Procula, the Roman noblewoman, was
spending her last evening before the Passover in her gorgeously
appointed apartment in the palace of Herod the Great.  On one side of
this pillared chamber, high-hung heavy curtains drawn apart, disclosed
a sleeping apartment with a bed and couches.  At the foot of the bed a
swinging window opened out above the street and through its mullioned
outlines the fading pink of a springtime sunset could be seen.
Claudia's two Greek slaves, Zenobe and Margara, were lounging on the
couches discussing a new robe that had been brought from Rome, when
their mistress, followed by her eunuch, entered the apartment.

"Light thou the lamps," Claudia commanded as, without unfastening her
outer wrap, she sat down and watched the big slave.  When he had
applied fire to the oil held high in silver basins set on polished
cedar standards, he turned to his mistress.  For a moment she did not
heed him.  Then she said, "Say to the servants, Pilate cometh soon.
When thou hast done so, return to me drawing the curtains at thy back
when thou hast entered."

When the eunuch returned to the room he took his place against the
curtained hanging, and stood like a statue until his mistress said,
without looking toward him, "Stand thou before me."

"What is thy command, most noble mistress?" he asked as he stepped
before her and with squared shoulders and crossed arms waited her
command.

She did not answer for a few moments.  When she spoke it was an
inquiry.  "The Jew of the Temple--his face do I see whether I look in
the circle where the light falls or in the corners where the shadows
gather--his face.  With such eyes doth he look into my eyes as it
seemeth have been searching me out since the beginning of time.  And
those eyes are imploring me for something--pleading as if for some
withheld treasure."

"Yea, most noble mistress."

"'Yea' thou dost say.  Dost thou know the request of the Jew's eyes?"

"Yea, most noble mistress."

"What sayeth those eyes to Claudia?"

"This sayeth those eyes to the heart of Claudia, 'Give me thy heart.'"

"My heart!" Claudia exclaimed.

"Yea, most noble mistress.  This is the treasure the Galilean doth
implore of thee."

Claudia arose.  She stood in silent thought a moment.  Then she turned
her eyes to the face of the eunuch and after studying it said, "Thy
scarred face did glow this day with a light that seemed not earthly.
My slave hath had words with the Jew.  Is it forbidden to tell them to
a Roman woman?"

"With the Galilean there is neither Roman nor Jew.  Neither is it
forbidden to spread abroad his teachings.  The words he did say to thy
scarred slave were these: 'Blessed be the eyes which see the things
that ye see; for many prophets and kings have desired to see those
things which ye see and have not seen them; and to hear those things
which ye hear, and have not heard them.'"

With her eyes on the face of the slave, Claudia pondered the words he
had spoken before saying, "And he hath said thy eyes be blessed because
thou seest something hidden.  I would understand.  Is this forbidden?"

"Nay.  Yet there is an understanding of the heart which is unutterable.
To another heart no words can make it known.  Of this did he speak to
thy slave.  There is that, however, coming ever from the power
unspeakable, that hath a name.  This word wouldst thou hear?"

"Yea, yea, my eunuch.  Speak it."

"It is _freedom_."

"Freedom?  What sayest thou, slave of Claudia?  What meanest thou?  Art
thou not the property of thy mistress?"

"There is freedom, and again there is other freedom.  Thou dost own the
hands, the toil, the obedience of this body that Rome hath mutilated
and burned.  But there is a man in me that the hand of Rome toucheth
not.  As this man thinketh in his heart, so is he.  If in my heart I am
a slave, then am I a slave though my body be free.  But if in my heart
I am free, then I am free though an implement of Rome.  Aye, most noble
mistress, the Jew hath given me freedom."

"Freedom!  How the heart doth hunger for freedom--freedom from one's
self."  And she crossed the room and recrossing stopped again before
the slave.  "My scarred eunuch," she said.

"I listen, my mistress."

"It is not beneath the dignity of Claudia Procula to glean gems when
she findeth them shining in her path.  Out of thy mouth have come words
of wisdom which bear not scars as doth thy body.  Such have been
treasured.  Ah, as the tide is greater than the storm, as the sun is
greater than the wind, as the mind of man is greater than the sword, so
shall there come a Kingdom before which that of Caesar's sword shall
perish forever.  What sayest thou?  Is the Kingdom the Jew doth teach
of, this Kingdom?"

"So it hath been revealed to the heart of thy slave."

"A year hath passed since last thou wert in Jerusalem.  In the arena at
Rome hath been the clash of steel, and fangs, and the wild and
soul-piercing music of screams and dying curses.  Beyond Rome hath Rome
held the nations of the earth under the sword-blade that her lords be
drunk and her rich fed on the life-blood of the poor.  Again we are at
Jerusalem to the Passover Feast of the Jews.  And again in their Temple
find we one who teacheth against all this.  My scarred eunuch, lovest
thou this Jew?"

"Aye, most gracious mistress, even to the laying down of my life."

"He hath disciples."

"Yea--blessed be they."

"Wouldst thou be his disciple?"

"Such I am."

"Yea, in thy heart.  But wouldst thou be free to go abroad and of thy
wisdom teach the wisdom of the Jew; spread news of that greater Kingdom
which cometh not of the sword and wherein all men shall be free?"

"Most noble mistress, tempt me not to hate my bondage more by bringing
to my ears such words."

"To-night are the Jews celebrating the birthday of their nation with a
great feast.  To-night shalt thou also have a birthday for hereby give
I thee thy freedom.  When the sun doth rise on the morrow, go thou and
sit at the feet of the Jew and hearing glad tidings, bear them to
others."

For a moment the slave stood as if dazed before his breath shaped the
words "Freedom?  Freedom?" and his lips trembled as he said, "Do my
ears hear?  Dost thou say 'Freedom' for thy scarred eunuch?"

"Yea, doubly free shalt thou go--free by the word of the Jew and free
by the hand of the Roman, and would that I too might be as free as thou
art!"  Then the slave fell on his knees before Claudia, bowed his head
to her jeweled shoe and sobbed.  There were tears in the eyes of
Pilate's wife as she said, "Arise--thou art no longer a slave."

Lifting his face, which appeared strangely noble, he said, "My
mistress--my most gracious mistress, thy feet are on the threshold of
the Kingdom."

"Arise--arise.  Go to thy bed.  This night thou art free.  To-morrow
thou shalt go from me.  As thou goest, forget not that the heart of
Claudia doth beat with sympathy for the oppressed and that she too hath
love for him whose love thou shalt spread abroad.  Arise!"

The eunuch arose and extended his arms so that his mighty body stood
before her like a cross of flesh.  Before it she bowed her head.

"The blessing of the Jew who is called Jesus fill thy heart, most
gracious Claudia, and the peace that cometh of his teaching rest thy
soul.  Farewell!"  He again kissed the border of her cloak, hesitated,
and turning abruptly, left the apartment.

When the curtain had swung into place shutting the slave from view,
Claudia sat down and called her maids.  "Unclasp my jewels and unbind
my hair, Margara," she said wearily, throwing her cloak aside.  "And
thou, Zenobe, summon Pilate's servant with the wine.  Thy master
tarrieth, and delay improveth not the temper of a man when he would
have his cups."

The servant had placed a tray of wine beside the couch of Pilate and
the maids had gone out with the cloak and jewels when the approach of
the Procurator was announced by a shout, the tramping of feet and
clanking of arms.  The door was thrown open wide and between two rows
of soldiery standing stiff and shining as the spears in their hands,
the Roman in royal purple and glittering winged helmet, entered.

"Greetings, Claudia!  Dry am I as the Law of the Jews.  Hath my wine
been made ready?"

"Thy wine is ready."

He threw himself down on the couch saying, "And over it shall I return
thanks, as do the Jews, that to-night doth end their uproar.  No more
for a year will they feed on lamb, roast whole with bitter sauce.  For
the impudence of the Jew would I fill his Temple with the gods of Rome
and make of his holy place a dancing spot for virgins that be neither
virgins nor veiled.  The dogs!"

"Hath thy memory become shortened that thou dost not see back a space
of months?  Didst thou not try moving Caesarea to Jerusalem and putting
thine image in the Temple?  And did not these same dogs spread their
necks at thy feet and court the sword rather than have their Temple
desecrated?  Yet more blood would have flown than that of the six
thousand thou slew hadst thou not been made to remember that Pilate is
not Caesar.  It is not right, my Lord, to do evil, nay not to the neck
of a dog."

"Whether the hand is that of Pilate or of Caesar, the sword of Rome
determines what is right."

"Not so, my Lord Pilate.  Might is not right unless it be _right_.  In
the jungle where hunters for the arena seek wild beasts, pythons and
wolves and hyenas growl and scream, and the strong doth ever lick from
his jaws the blood of the weak.  To Rome all the earth is a jungle
where Rome is the king lion, the fierce he-tiger, the unsatisfied
she-wolf.  And from the jaws of this Beast, the blood of nations drips
and the groans of mangled slaves fall ever on the ear.  Ever in my
heart have I felt this is not right.  Now hath arisen among the Jews,
whose blood thou delightest to spill, one whose teaching I have felt
before I ever heard of him.  This one delighteth not in gleaming steel,
nor screams of agony, nor running blood."

"Ho!  Claudia!  Where is the Jew whose heart taketh not delight in
flashing steel, dying screams and running blood?  Thinkest thou there
be such?  Then should thou feast thine eyes on the Passover sacrifice.
Here are ten thousand priests with whetted blades which they do plunge
in bleating throats until two hundred thousand lambs are slaughtered
before the eyes of their great god Jehovah.  Beside such slaughter as
this that of the arena is but child's play."

"I mark thy words.  The Jew is bloody and hath a bloody god.  Yet from
among them ariseth one who doth preach a new Kingdom and a god that
delighteth not in the shedding of blood."

"Where getteth thou thy knowledge?"

"From the eunuch thou gavest me, my Lord Pilate."

"Ho! ho!" and Pilate threw up his hands and shouted with laughter.
"From a slave the wife of Pontius Pilate doth get learning?  Ho! ho!
Claudia wouldst be a disciple of a eunuch whose back bears marks of the
scourge, whose arm is branded with deep burning and whose face beareth
the scar of a Roman blade?  Or wouldst thou be a Jew, my fair Claudia?"
and he drained three cups of wine between times of laughter.

Claudia stepped before Pilate and threw her hands across her
breast--"Nay--not a Jew would I be!" she exclaimed.  "A woman of the
Proculas I am.  But under the royal robe that hideth the breast of
Pilate's wife there is a heart, a heart, most mighty Pilate, that turns
against blood and the quivering of flesh and the soul-sickening agony
of death!  A heart, my Lord, that cries out against this and doth ever
hope for a power that doth not hate and torture.  A Kingdom there shall
be without the sword of Rome or the lamb's blood of Jerusalem; a
Kingdom without the arena of Rome or the Temple sacrifices.  And in
this Kingdom shall man render unto man as he himself would be rendered
unto.  Of this Kingdom doth he teach who hath arisen from among the
Jews."

Pilate poured another cup.  "The lips of Pilate's wife do babble like a
babe," he said.  "Knowest thou not, my fair Claudia, that the coming of
such a kingdom would mean naught save the passing of Rome?"

Claudia rested her hand on the arm of Pilate until he looked up at her.
She said slowly, "And knowest thou not, my brave Pilate, that Rome is
_already passing_?  Aye, even the more that Rome doth enslave men, the
more she doth bring to herself the weakness which death shall overtake,
for no more do Roman women bear the sort of sons valor cometh of."

"Ho! ho!  What thou shouldst say is that Caesar's wife is no more above
suspicion."

"Of a surety, my Lord, since _Rome hath no more Caesars_.  On that day
when the populace stood weeping where flames from the funeral pyre did
cast their somber smoke against Castor and Pollux, perished Caesar."

"Rome hath ever its Caesar."

"Yea, of some sort.  Augustus were not Caesar.  Tiberius is not Caesar,
neither is he Augustus.  Who doth follow Tiberius?  And then what next?"

"What next?  Aye, Claudia, my fair one--a cup of wine next.  And after
that shall Rome make Senators of her women and thou shalt be Brutus,
for, by the gods, thou makest a ripe speech.  Here's to thee, Claudia,
my love.  A Roman thou art though much taken with the twaddle of a Jew.
And here is to the Jew.  May he live long to oil his beard, haggle over
fish in the market place, cry 'Unclean' at sight of a Gentile and pray
in musty synagogues for the kingdom greater than that of Rome.  Let us
now to bed and see thou hast no dreams to disturb thy rest," and
throwing down his cup, Pilate arose.

"Dreams are signs, my Pilate."

"Dream then of the prosperity of Pilate."  As he paused under the drawn
curtains, Pilate stopped to command his guard, "Waken me not until the
sun doth clear the Temple tower.  Draw the curtains tight and let no
man pass them."

When he had entered the bedchamber the curtains were lowered and the
guards stationed themselves at the door.  A moment later, Claudia
paused as she pushed the curtain aside, saying to the guards, "Forget
not thy Lord Pilate's command.  Wake him not."



CHAPTER XXVII

CAESAR'S FRIEND

After Pilate and Claudia had retired behind the curtains, the guards
took their places for the night.  Inside the door to the left and right
a picked man of Pilate's body-guard stationed himself.  An enormous
spear, which lifted its shining point like an ensign over his head, was
held by each soldier and shifted from hand to hand as these motionless
and silent men grew drowsy.  In the outer hall soldiers of the Legion
stood on guard from the entrance into the inner room, down the long
corridor to the portico steps.  In spite of orders that no word be
spoken in the hallway after Pilate had retired, these soldiers, knowing
his manner of sleep, made use of the night hours to discuss such
daytime gossip as had reached their ears.  The comment began when news
was passed that Pilate had gone to sleep, and between the left guard
and the right guard a conversation took place which would have been
interesting to the public.

"Had I as much ripe wine in my paunch as hath the gracious Pilate, I
would also sleep."

"Aye.  But by the shades of Caesar did not his sleep of yesternight
outmatch even the measure of his cups?  Drank and drank did our master
Pilate until his eyes bulged and his tongue was pushed out of his
throat by the fulness thereof.  And he did sleep and sleep until the
sun had started down next day."

"And were there not soldiers and priests and lawyers and centurions and
Senators clamoring to have speech with him?  And did not Claudia pass
out the word that he was engaged in matters of importance to Tiberius?"

"Thou makest my inwards to shake with choked laughter when thou sayest
this--'business of importance to Tiberius.'"

"Yea--and wherefore the smothered laughter.  Is not the important
business of Caesar Tiberius the putting away of much wine, even as is
the business of Pilate?"

"Yea.  But Tiberius doth have a deputy to satisfy the demands for him."

"And some are as insistent as itch."

"Yea, like the broad Jew whose foot caught in the blue and purple cloak
he let drag in his desire to be heard."

"His business was urgent by the glittering eagerness of his two small
eyes."

"Yea, and the gold he held forth did glitter better than his Jew eyes
as he said, 'My mission is urgent!  One hath arisen against the Empire
yet doth Pontius Pilate not come forth nor give audience to message
bearers.'"

"'He seeth neither god nor man until his business of importance to
Tiberius is finished, since first of all he is Caesar's friend,' did I
make answer, straight-faced and solemn, for who would feel the fire of
the branding iron for a bit of gold?  Then it was his countenance
became entangled in anger as his foot became entangled in his blue
cloak, and he did breathe out a curse."

"The curse of a Jew is no curse since it must be swallowed if it is
against Rome.  But look thee toward the steps.  On my life a messenger
cometh."

While the two soldiers of the Legion were gossiping on the outside of
the door the two guards on the inside were leaning heavily on their
spears.

"My eyes--but sleep pricketh me," the first guard said.

"Sleep then," the second replied.  "But no dreaming."

"Nay--no dreaming."

"Listen!  Pilate is gone until the new day."

On the stillness the sound of heavy snoring was heard.  The guards
leaned against the wall, spears in hand, and were soon asleep.  A
trumpet from the street below sounded the hours of night.  The snores
of Pilate were answered by the snoring of the two guards and the palace
seemed given to slumber, when the tramp of feet and knocking of
standards was heard outside.

"Methinks I dream," the first guard said drowsily.  "Yea, I dream there
is a great commotion."

"It is the troops rushing to war!" the second guard answered sleepily.

"Troops rushing to war."  The words were feebly uttered.

The knocking continued at the door, growing quicker and harder.

"Who knocks?" the guard shouted.

"Open thou the door," was shouted back.

"Who cometh?"

"A message from the Tower of Antonio.  We would see Pilate," the voice
outside answered.

The door was opened and the messenger with a number of soldiers
entered.  "A message for the Procurator, Pontius Pilate."

"My Lord Pilate is in bed with orders not to awaken him."

"Whether thou awaken him or no, make thy choice.  Here is the message
and I await a reply."

"Take thou it," the first guard said to the second one.  "Take thou the
message to his bed."

"Risk thou thine own life," was the prompt reply.

"Enter and awaken him," the first guard said to the messenger.

"Time is passing," he replied with dignity.  "I await a reply."

"Let us all waken him!" the second guard suggested.

So they advanced to the curtains that hung over Pilate's door and
shouted together as they beat the floor, "Awake!  Arise, my Lord
Pilate!"

"Is the house falling?"  The voice was that of Pilate.  A moment later
he stuck his head from between the curtains shouting, "To the fires of
Pluto with you!  What meaneth this disturbance?"

"A message for my Lord Pilate," the messenger replied, handing him a
tablet.  "From the Tower of Antonio, a message."

Claudia stepped behind Pilate and looked over his shoulder.  "What is
it?" she asked.

"The hiding-place of a Jew who hath not regard for the Law of Moses has
been discovered.  This is a request for soldiers to go out against him."

"A Jew?  Who is he?" and Claudia's voice bespoke deep interest.

"What matter?" Pilate replied, yawning.  "A Jew is a Jew.  Let them go
out against him.  My tablets!" he shouted to a servant.  After hastily
writing, he gave the messenger a tablet saying, "Depart!  One Jew is
not worth the asking, but take him."  Before the feet of the messenger
had crossed the threshold Pilate was ready to return to his sleep.
"Get thou on guard," he commanded his Legion soldiers, "and let none
less than Caesar pass my threshold."

For a few hours the long corridors and empty chambers of the palace
were quiet.  Then again there came the sound of approaching feet,
followed by knocking and a heavy voice calling the Procurator.

"Pilate again!" murmured one of the guards sleepily.  Then speaking to
the other he cried, "Why sleepest thou on duty?  Get thee awake!"

Hardly had they assumed their positions inside the door when it was
thrown open and an officer followed by soldiers, entered.  "Let not an
instant pass!" he commanded.  "Call the Procurator, Pontius Pilate."

Following his command, the voice of Claudia behind the curtains was
heard saying, "Pilate--my Lord Pilate--awake!  It is an officer of the
Legion.  Arise!"

A moment later the head of Pilate was again thrust between the curtains
as he shouted, "The wrath of Jove!  What meaneth this?"

"In the Judgment Hall thou art wanted.  Thy soldiers have taken captive
one charged with sedition.  At a midnight meeting of the Sanhedrin hath
he been found guilty."

"And what care I, Pontius Pilate, whether he be guilty or no?  On the
Law of Moses would I myself spit.  Yet by their own Law can not the
swine-fearing dogs condemn a man before morning.  By their own law will
I condemn them and take their Temple.  Go thou to those long-faced
circumcized and say in their ears that for causing this unlawful
disturbance ere the morning watch, I will make them suffer."

"Aye," replied the officer.  "But my most gracious Pilate, conspiracy
is also charged against the Jew for it is he who was acclaimed King of
the Jews while all Jerusalem did shout his praises.  A great following
hath he of Galileans, Zealots and Judean warriors.  Revolution against
the throne of Caesar is all but born."

"Thou sayest this is he that was acclaimed King of the Jews?" and
Pilate's eye shone with a new glow.

"The same.  He is a conspirator."

"And they have taken _him_?  Then have they favored Pilate who hath not
yet discovered the nightly hiding-place of this conspirator."

"Nay!  Nay!  He is no conspirator, my Lord Pilate," cried Claudia,
hurrying from behind the curtains as she wrapped her shoulders in a
veil.  "He is no conspirator!  Naught save a teacher of Truth is he."

"Thou sayest he hath been taken?" Pilate asked of the officer.

"Yea, by the soldiers which thou didst despatch before midnight with
the guard of the Temple.  He was betrayed by one of his followers, and
his hiding-place discovered.  Already hath he been before Annas who did
send him to Caiaphas.  Now waiteth he at the Judgment Hall around which
a crowd is gathered, and they say thou art not Caesar's friend unless
thou cometh."

"They say I am not Caesar's friend?" he exclaimed in excitement.
"Hasten thou to the Judgment Hall and say thou to the right and to the
left, as a trumpeteer doth lead thee, 'Pilate is already on the way!'"
When the officer had made a hurried exit, Pilate in great haste
shouted: "Up, laggards!  Move!  My coat!  Quick with the royal ensign
and the eagle!  Pilate is a friend of Caesar and this conspirator for
the throne of our Tiberius shall be stretched on a cross ere the
new-day sun reach the mountain top."

"Calm thyself, my Lord Pilate," Claudia said.  "Nor let the words of
the rabble spoil thy reason.  No conspirator is this Jew.  He is a
teacher of the Truth.  Quell thou this uproar and come thou back to
bed.  Hearest thou my words?"

"Nay.  No words I hear save the words 'He is not Caesar's friend.'
Caesar's friend would I be though all the Jews in Palestine are hung on
wooden crosses.  Farewell, Claudia.  Thou art the wife of Caesar's
friend."

Pilate turned to go, but Claudia lay hold of him saying, "Nay, my Lord
Pilate, thou shalt not go until my words thou hearest.  Forever will
Rome bear the brand of shame should it stretch on a wooden cross one
who teacheth such wisdom as doth this Jew.  Thou shalt not go until a
promise is made me."

"What promise?" he asked hurriedly.

"If he come before thy judgment seat, judge him of the words of his own
mouth and by the words of his own mouth free or condemn him."

"I promise, Claudia--I promise."

"Thou understandest that out of the mouth of the Jew thou wilt free or
condemn him?"

"Yea--yea!  Let me go!  I am a friend of Caesar!" and he loosed himself
and hurried down the long corridor.



CHAPTER XXVIII

ROSES AND IRIS AND TEARS

In full vestments of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea stood beside
the moonlit pool in the garden of Lazarus.  The hand-washing and
hymn-singing and feasting on roast lamb in bitter sauce, was over for
another twelvemonth.  With a glance prophetic, Joseph looked into this
new year and shook his head saying slowly, "The signs are full of
portent.  Darkness doth seem to gather over Israel."

"Thy heart hath a burden?" Lazarus asked, coming from the house.

The patriarch lifted his face to the young man.  For a moment there was
no answer.  The voice of Joseph was grave when he said, "Yea, more than
a burden doth lie on my heart.  Fear hath clutched it and while my lips
made merry at the feast I did suffer, knowing the young man's life is
in danger--aye, the life of Jesus.  Doth not thy heart feel it?  And
the heart of thy sister Mary, doth not her heart suffer the torture of
fear?"

"Perchance it is weariness that Mary suffereth.  The feast maketh much
labor."

"As we did sing the Pascal hymn, lo, did the lips of Mary shape a
prayer.  Twice did tears, which she did try to hide, drop from her
cheek, and thrice did she choke in the throat.  Is this weariness?"

"She was disappointed.  The heart of Mary did want the Master by her
side, but it had seemed good to him to eat the Passover with his
disciples in the city."

"Disappointment?  Would to God it were no more.  But, Lazarus, when the
alabaster vase of thy sister was broken, then was her heart broken also
and as the rich perfume was spilled, so was hope spilled from her heart
because of the saying of the Master that she had anointed him for
burial.  Aye, Lazarus, the signs are full of portent."

"Where is thy sister Mary?" Lazarus asked of Martha who had joined them
by the pool.

"She is in the house bending over the Scriptures.  Yet her heart doth
not go out to the songs of David.  A burden she would hide."

"Knoweth she aught of Jesus?" Joseph asked.

"I know not.  Until the cock crew she was in the garden with him yester
evening.  And in the night as she lay beside me in her bed, methought I
heard a moan that traveled not far from the heart where it was born.
Mary lay awake and I did question her.  'It is but the tamarask leaves
against the casement,' she said.  Again I heard a sob quickly
smothered.  When I did speak, and bid Mary listen, she declared it
naught but the night wind lifting the pomegranate branches.  When
morning cometh, from her carved chest she took her alabaster box of
very precious ointment which she did cherish to make sweet her wedding
veil.  Her face was glad as if she had been a bride and joyous her
words as she said, 'Lo, the darkness is gone!  In the night, fear of
shadows and losses trouble me, but with the morning cometh light.  Look
thou!  Was ever a sun so golden?  I go to Simon's to the feast.  One
there is among the guests who is a King.  Yea, Martha, by the words of
his own mouth he is my King--_mine_, my sister.  Thus, after the manner
of the feast, the guest of honor I will anoint with my oil of roses and
iris, because so soon he goeth on a long journey.'"

"Ever will my heart be glad to think on the joy of her face," Lazarus
said, "as she did break the seal and scatter the first drops of her
perfume on his hair."

"Did ever such fragrance make thy breathing glad?" Martha asked with
smiling face.  "Like the balm of Gilead, like forests of frankincense,
it filled the room.  Was it not even so, Father Joseph?"

"Great was the fragrance and precious the joy on thy sister's face.
But straightway my pleasure was turned away by the words of Judas."

"Yea, great concern doth he show for the poor!" And there was
indignation in the voice of Lazarus.  "'Here is great waste,' said he.
'Are not two hundred dinars sufficient to buy bread for a thousand?'"

"And, Lazarus," Joseph said, "with the words of Judas did the first
shadow fall across thy sister's face.  Faint it was, yet not too faint
for his eye who loveth her.  And he said, 'Why trouble you the woman?
She hath wrought a good work.  The poor ye have always with you.  But
me ye have not always.  For in that she hath poured this ointment on my
body, she doeth it for my burial.'  Aye, Lazarus, aye, Martha, that I
might forget thy sister's face as these words did pass his lips.  It
turned white as the alabaster in her hand.  Stillness fell on the
company about the table like that of the tomb.  And then the sob!
Lazarus, that sob did wound my heart.  Then did thy sister drop at the
feet of Jesus and there spill out her fragrant oil.  And on the oil her
tears fell, even like rain fell they, and bending low her cheek did
press his foot.  And then she dried away the tears with the tresses of
her hair--sobbing--sobbing--sobbing!  Sobs are a part of life, the sobs
of women and children.  But this woman--aye, greater love hath never
woman known than this which Mary beareth the brave young Rabbi."

"And hath man e'er given back to woman greater love than he beareth
her?  Saw thou his face as she did sob at his feet?  Did thou catch the
message he did speak to comfort the heart of Mary?  In a voice that did
mean more than words, both to the woman and him who had condemned her
spoke he saying, 'Truly, truly say I unto you, wheresoever this message
that I bring shall be preached, there also what this woman hath done
shall be told for a memorial of her.'  Joseph--friend Joseph, meaneth
it not much to her heart, meaneth it not much to this household, that
wherever the name of Jesus shall be spoken there also shall be known
the name of Mary?"

"And if he is King," Martha exclaimed, "King of the Jews, then shall
her name be exalted above that of all women."

"And if he is condemned on some false charge and given to the cross,
Martha?  But no, that can never be," and Lazarus ceased speaking
abruptly.

"Neither can a throne give nor a cross take away a woman's crown when
he who is her king doth crown her with his love.  So it is that the
alabaster vase which hath poured out fragrance from its fragments,
shall shed its perfume down the ages so long as love is of life a
part."  It was Joseph who spoke.

"Lazarus doth utter strange, yea, evil words about a cross and a
malefactor.  What meaneth it?" Martha asked him.

"Knowest thou not, woman, how the plot doth thicken that would make way
with Jesus?  Passed is that day when the Sanhedrin did sneer and
condemn and mutter and hatch plans.  Now doth it openly seek his death."

"Yet," said Lazarus, "he hath been threatened before and hath escaped,
even though they took up stones against him.  Plans have we made for a
long journey, yea, even to Rome will he journey and under the throne of
Caesar will he preach the Kingdom greater than that of Tiberius."

Joseph stroked his beard slowly.  "There doth come a time," and his
voice was low, "when fire, long smoldering, doth burst into a devouring
flame.  Was I not in the Sanhedrin?  Did I not hear?  Such fire, to the
eternal undoing of Israel, doth burn in the hearts of the Sanhedrin."

"They dare not take him by day," Lazarus protested, "and by night he
abideth not in Jerusalem and none knoweth his dwelling place save those
his heart trusts."

"In hiding and flight lieth now his safety.  Would that I might know he
is secure this night."

"Mary hath said he will return to-night to Bethany," Martha told Joseph.

He raised his face to the sky saying, "The moon doth climb the heavens."

"Yet ofttimes do guests tarry over the Pascal cup until the hour grow
late.  Methinks he will yet come, Joseph," said Lazarus.

"So hopeth my heart.  But from the silence I get no answer to my
question, 'Will Israel cast off her Lord's anointed?'"

"Nay, nay.  All will be well.  But let us to rest, the hour is growing
late," and Lazarus turned to the house.

"And Mary?"  The question was asked by Joseph.

"Mary doth yet sit with her writings," Martha answered, looking in the
door, "though her ear is to the roadway.  When I shall enter and say,
'Mary, wilt thou go to rest?' she will answer, 'Shortly.'  And lo, when
I have gone, she will come into the garden and from her place at the
wall watch down the hillside."



CHAPTER XXIX

SWIFT MESSENGERS

As Martha had expected, Mary refused to go to rest and when all about
was quiet she went into the garden.  For a moment she paused before the
stone bench, then with lingering step she sought the fountain.  Under
the light of the moon the garden seemed to lie in a silver aura.  Where
the lilies grew thick and white the aura seemed to be a cloud-like halo
lying close to earth and on the pool the light was caught in tiny
shining bars.

"How still the garden!" Mary said, speaking to herself.  "Scarce
breathing is the summer night--waiting it doth seem for something to
give it life.  The leaves wait--wait for the evening breeze to touch
them into morion.  The valley waiteth--waiteth for the song of the
pilgrim to break its hush with gladness.  So waiteth my soul for sight
of a face that shall drive back the shadows of fear.  So waiteth my
heart for the sound of a voice that shall stir the silence of the
waiting into wild glad music.  Will he come?  Or will--but no, no--it
can not, can not be that he will come no more.  The God that fashioned
me of dust formed likewise the mystery of life, my love for him and his
for me. . . .  And lo, then did the hand of Jehovah make the feet of
him I love to enter in upon the path my feet do tread.  So hath my soul
been bound to his soul and there are no more two souls, but one soul.
And having wrought thus blessedly, will God play with the love he hath
put in a woman's heart and bring to her soul such agony as doth wring
drops of blood from her?  Nay, nay!  It can not be!  He must come!  He
will come!  Hasten, my beloved;  I am waiting!"

Mary walked around the circular pool slowly.  As she did so, the
crowing of a cock, its sharpness muffled by some distance, sounded on
the stillness.  "The cock croweth the midnight hour," she said as the
last faint vibration died.  "Until the crowing of the cock did he bid
me wait to see his face.  Yea, until the breaking of the day will I
wait.  Until the sunset of my life will I wait.  Yea, even until the
Resurrection of the dead will I wait to see his face!"

She crossed the garden and back, paused, and raised her face to the
vault above where the moon was casting floods of silver over the
billowing clouds.  She sighed and the words she spoke were breathed out
softly as if they too were a part of the passing night.  "The hours
move on and naught there is but silence!  What a silence it is!  Like a
pall hangeth it over the Judean hills!  Like a shroud falleth it over
Olivet!  Like grave wrappings huggeth it the valley!  God!  The silence
of this night!  Hath there been before such silence?  It doth make of
itself feet that tread upon my soul and, treading, leave wounds with
living tongues which call in agony, 'I am waiting!  I am waiting in the
garden!'  No sound cometh to break this that oppresseth?  The silence
deepens and its mystery doth affright my soul!"

For a moment she stood under the flood-light from above like a white
veiled statue, yet softer than marble, locked in the pervading and low
brooding hush.  Then, suddenly, she turned her ear in the direction of
the highway.  "A sound breaketh the stillness!" she exclaimed in an
excited undertone.  "Faint and far it is--but a _sound_!"  With light
steps she ran to her watching place by the stone wall.  "Yea, a sound!"
and she leaned over the wall.  "It groweth on the air.  What cometh?  A
speck it is against the gray!  It moveth!  It groweth larger!  Aye, it
cometh!  It cometh!  It taketh on the shape of flying garments--yea,
flying garments!  What meaneth this?  He cometh as if pursued!  Aye, if
danger threaten, may Israel's God lend speed to his feet!"

The first faint sounds had rapidly grown more distinct.  Mary leaned as
far across the wall as safety permitted and peered into the roadway.
"What is it I see?  There are two running as doth the hind run to
escape the pursuing dogs!  On, on they come!  Close--they draw nigh!
They are here!  They pass!"  With the last words she dropped from the
wall just as the runners dashed by.

"Ho!  Stop!" cried one of them.  "This is the place."

"The home of Lazarus?" the other panted.

"Yea!  Hast thou voice left to shout?"

"Yea, while thou dost beat the door!"

Before Mary could reach the house she heard the runners pounding on the
door and shouting, "Open!  Open!" and when she entered at the back her
brother was unbarring the front door.  "What news?" he demanded as the
two rushed in.

"Be not loud of mouth.  We bear news of Jesus," one of them answered.

Lazarus cast his eyes over them.  One was a Galilean fisherman, the
other was naked save a fragment of garment about his loins.  "Who art
thou, and what is thy message?"

"Disciples of Jesus are we both.  Lo, was my coat torn from me in
resisting those who took him and I fled leaving it in the hands of a
soldier."

"Who hath taken Jesus?"  It was Mary who asked, and her voice was
charged with apprehension.

"Yea, who hath taken Jesus?" Joseph asked as he appeared hastily
fastening his vestment.

"By the midnight Temple guard and soldiers from the Tower of Antonio
hath he been taken!"

"Lazarus--Joseph!" Mary cried.  "Let us hasten to him--let us _fly_ to
him!"

"Soldiers have taken him who is to be King of the Jews?" Martha
exclaimed.  "Not so!"

"Peace, women," Joseph said, lifting his hands.  "Wisdom demandeth
there be no loss of time.  Let the stranger make speech."

"The Passover feast we ate in an upper chamber," he said.  "Before the
singing of the last hymn and the washing of hands Judas left, and it
doth seem that from his word or act, the Master did suspect him of
disloyalty.  Soon we went into the streets which lay quiet save for the
sound of singing from those who tarried late at the feast.  Leaving the
city by a side gate we followed a dim path to an old stone mill hard by
an olive orchard.  A secluded and hidden place it is.  At the entrance
to the grove the Master bade us tarry, save three, and watch with all
our eyes, for threats had been breathed against him.  And the three
which went with him did he also bid watch while he went yet farther
under the trees to commune with Jehovah as oft he doeth.  Secure would
he have been had not our eyes been heavy with sleep for then would we
have seen the crowd approaching that with clubs and torches and spears,
wormed its way across Kedron and up the hillside.  And had we seen,
then would we have passed word to the inner watchers, and to the Master
would they have called.  Then, lo! him whom Judas would betray, could
have escaped far down the hillside, and have safely hidden in some cave
or tomb.  So hath he escaped aforetimes.  But _woe_!  _Woe_!  Woe unto
him whose words thou hearest!  The spirit was willing, but the flesh
was weak and around the old stone mill did we fall asleep.  And, alas
for the misery that hath come upon us; those of the inner watch did
also fall asleep, and while we slept came the soldiers of Rome, the
Temple guards and the rabble.  Scarce had we opened our eyes when they
were upon us, yet did not the inner watch awaken until Jesus, hearing
the uproar, came from the shadows and said, as he stood above the
sleeping forms of his disciples, 'What, could ye not watch with me one
hour?'  And as he did stand, Judas hurried to him, kissing his cheek
and crying, 'Hail, Master!'  At this the soldiers fell upon him, yet
fear did not move him, and at his command they fell back.  Without the
twitching of a hair or the shadow of a fear he stood out before them
while he said, 'Why have ye come out against me as a robber?  Daily
have I taught in the Temple.  Why take me not there?'  And because they
could make no answer they smote him on the mouth."

"Those he loved slept while his life was in peril!  Those he trusted
have betrayed him?  Those to whom he hath done no evil have smitten
him?  It can not be so!  Say it is not so!" and Mary's voice broke in
sobs.

"Smite the Master," angrily exclaimed Martha.  "Him to be King of the
Jews?"

"Yea, they did smite him," the fisherman answered.  "They did curse him
and as they turned away they spat upon him.  Some of his disciples bore
arms and in the struggle the servant of the High Priest lost an ear.
Would God it had been the High Priest's head the sword severed!  And as
they rudely pushed him on, he whispered a word in the ear of a disciple
asking that swift news of his arrest be brought to Lazarus of Bethany.
Then took they him."

"Where have they taken him?" Joseph asked.

"To Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin; to the Judgment Hall of Pilate; to the
scourger and the cross if they have power."

"To the Roman judgment seat--to the scourgers--to the cross--the cruel,
cruel cross?  Nay, not the _cross_!  Save him!
Lazarus--Joseph--Strangers--Men of Israel, save him whom we love!  Let
not the hand of Rome hang his body on a cross!" Mary plead hysterically.

"Calm thyself, Mary," Joseph said.  "The Jew hath not power to take the
life of Jesus, and Pilate doth hate the Sanhedrin with such fierce
hatred that for nothing short of Temple gold or fear of Caesar would he
sign a death-warrant that would please a Jew."

"Trust not to Pilate," plead the fisherman.  "Pilate is but Rome in
Palestine and doth not Rome love the cross?  Aye, in our own Galilee
were not two thousand of our sons and fathers crucified, and left for
dogs to gnaw because they followed the Gaulonite and refused Rome the
tax?  The cross is fearful and bloody.  Jesus of Nazareth must be saved
from the cross!"

"Yea, by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must he be saved!" Lazarus
shouted.  "Let us away and arouse the hills and awake the valleys where
thousands of armed Galileans are sleeping.  Other thousands there are
of Zealots whose hands are ever near a blade.  And will not the
Nationalists strike for the honor of the nation?  And the Essenes?
Aye, all these will we waken, and more, and by morning when the city
gates swing open such a populace will enter as proclaimed him King.
The time hath come for Israel to strike--aye, to strike with the sword!"

"A mob is not an army, Lazarus.  Though the populace shout hosannahs or
breathe curses it is all one to the sword of Rome."

"Aye, Joseph, but the wrath of Israel will make of scythes and reaping
hooks, blades to strike off the shackles of Rome, and from the fastness
of Judean mountains will those who know not fear, engage Rome in such
warfare as she hath never known."

"The love of thy heart doth upset thy reason," Joseph answered, shaking
his head.  "What to Rome is the fastness of Judean hills?  Hath not
Rome crossed mountains and jungles and deserts in search of her prey?
Like sheep in a pen wouldst thou be made to stay in thy hiding-places
until thy bleached bones would tell that Rome findeth starvation oft
cheaper than the sword.  From Dan to Beersheba doth the heathen purple
fly over tower and wall, and under the dark shadow of her mighty eagle
do the nations of the earth cower.  Whence then could come thy succor?
To lift the sword is but to bring it down on thine own neck.  If he
whom our hearts love escape, by the wit of man's mind must the thing be
accomplished.  Go thou, Lazarus, with these disciples and rouse the
sleeping people that they be ready to swarm the city at the opening of
the gates.  And I--I will hasten to Jerusalem and until daybreak keep
my eye where the Sanhedrin might hold meeting."

"It is not lawful for the Great Sanhedrin to meet until the sun is well
risen," said Lazarus eagerly.

"And what care murderers for the law of Moses when the fires of hatred
gnaw their souls?  To their meeting place I will hasten, and if quietly
they seek to do evil before the break of day, I will, with innocent
words, seek an entanglement among them concerning the Law.  And with
the daybreak will come the followers of Jesus and safety for another
day.  Haste!  Let us haste!"



CHAPTER XXX

CLAUDIA'S DREAM

After Pilate had left for the Judgment Hall and the soldiers and servants
had returned to their accustomed places, Claudia walked the length of the
room and back several times speaking to herself as she did so.  "Before
the tribunal of the Jew hath the greatest one of them all been judged
guilty of sedition against their Law.  Aye, but the gods be thanked those
cunning workers of darkness have not power to take his life.  And
Pilate--ah, have I not Pilate's promise that of the Jew will he judge the
Jew?  Glad I am that Pilate is to hear his voice and look upon his face.
One glance from those eyes--one word from those lips and Pilate will know
that all evil accusation be accusation only."

Then Claudia threw herself across the bed, but sleep did not come, so
after a time she arose, threw open the window and stood looking into the
indigo sky, spangled with stars, that hung over Jerusalem.  From the
street beneath, the near call of a trumpet sounded which seemed to be
echoed by farther and fainter trumpet-calls, each telling the hour of the
passing night.  When she lay down again she slept.  Through the window at
the side of the bed the rich blue of the sky faded into gray and as this
was shot across with a thin streak of rosy pink the cry "_Staurosate_!
_Staurosate_!" came across the stillness of the yet unawakened morning.

With a start Claudia sprang up crying--"Whence cometh that cry, thin like
the howl of a lone wolf, and sharp like its fangs: 'Crucify him!  Crucify
him?'  Like the cry of a beast calling the pack, it soundeth.  Pilate!"
She pressed her hands to her head and looked toward Pilate's empty couch.

"Ah--it cometh to me!  At the third watch was Pilate called to the
Praetorium and hath not returned.  A dream it hath been!  Aye!  It doth
come to me!"  She drew back a pace and an expression of horror marked her
face as she cried, "It doth come to me!  I see troops--swords--trembling
of the earth--thunder answered by earthquake--black clouds, like great
bats of death settling low--the rush of fire, like a cataclysm--and then
darkness!  And then--and _then_--what see I?"

Claudia shaded her eyes with her hands and peered into the darkness of
the dream, the horror on her face deepening, and her breath coming swift
and hard.  "What see I?  In the darkness--the thick impenetrable darkness
dead to all light, I see the hands of Pilate--_and they drip with blood_!
And over against those crimson hands I see the pale face of the Jew.  Ye
gods!  It is a warning!"

For a moment she stood dazed with terror.  Then she shouted to her maids,
"Margara!  Zenobe!  Hasten!  Summon my eunuch.  I must have speech with
Pilate!"

When the eunuch appeared, Claudia cried: "Ah, my scarred eunuch!  Warning
hath been given me in a dream that all is not well at the Judgment Hall.
Ah, a dream--such a dream--a dream in which earth and air and sky and
water war and are not satisfied!  A dream of fire and death and open
graves and darkness--and Pilate and the Jew," and Claudia shivered and
wrung her hands.

"If thou wouldst calm thyself, most noble mistress, and make known thy
great fear, thy servant might bring thee help," the eunuch said.

"Aye, my eunuch.  Ere the midnight trumpet sounded was Pilate awakened by
request for soldiers from Antonio to arrest one seditious.  Again before
dawn summoned they him to judge the Jew.  And, oh, my eunuch--my
eunuch--that Jew is him whom thy soul loveth--him whose disciple thou art
to be!"

"Jesus of Nazareth?" the eunuch cried sharply.

"Yea, yea--the Jew!"

The eunuch raised his face toward heaven and lifting high his hands said
in the voice of one imploring, "God of the Jew, God of the Jew, hear and
deliver him from the hand of Rome."

"Hear thou the dream," said Claudia, stepping close to him.  "At the
turning of the dawn came it to me.  The shout of battle!  The screams of
those pierced by spears!  The groans of those trodden under the hoofs of
mad chargers!  The curses of those tortured!  And above the din did I
hear children's voices calling, 'Help--help!' and the voices of women
calling, 'Help!  Help!  In God's name, 'help!' and the voices of men
shouting, 'Help!  Help!  'Cometh no help!'  And no help came save the
Angel of Desolation with sweeping black wings!  And, oh, my eunuch!  Out
of the darkness and the desolation, I saw the hands of Pilate rising
scarlet with wet blood and over against them the pale face of the Jew!"

Before she had finished speaking with the eunuch, Claudia's cries for
help had drawn the household, and soldiers and servants crowded into the
room and filled the passageway as she brought fear and trembling to them
by her dramatic recital of her tragic dream.

"It is a dream--a dream!  But in that dream, between my vision and the
darkness, passeth a purple robe, a crown of thorns, a lonely cross on a
far hillside, a white face drawn in agony and parched lips moving as to
moan!  Then again the tumult and the carnage!  Ah, see!  Canst thou not
see?  There are soldiers upon the city walls!  There are balls of fire
flying in the gloom!  There are stones crashing through the air--yea,
even the marble of the Temple of the Jews!  Canst thou not see?
Aye--look!  The Temple falleth!  It is scattered until not one stone is
left upon another!  And ever above the thunder-din cometh the cry, 'Help!
Help!'  Famine do I see until mothers eat the tender flesh that hugs
their bosoms!  And pestilence do I see until death hath devoured all
life!  The Roman plow is driven over the Holy Place of the Jew and
scavengers of the desert revel in naked tombs!  And here from this place
of abominations arise the hands of Pilate!  Crimson like dye they are.
And there gathers from the gray and awful stillness, the pale face of the
Jew!  Again--and yet again I see them!"

When Claudia had reached this part of her vision she screamed and covered
her eyes, and the soldiers and servants who had crowded about, drew back
in terror, their gaze transfixed.

Suddenly she cried, throwing her hands out to the eunuch: "I must have
speech with Pilate.  Fly thou to the Judgment Seat!  Let no door stop
thee!  Let no guard stay thy feet!  And when thou hast gained the ear of
Pilate, tell into it, 'Thus sayeth thy wife--have nothing to do with this
just man for I have this day suffered many things in a dream because of
him!'  Thus shall it be that Claudia shall raise her voice to save the
hands of Pontius Pilate from the livid stain of innocent blood and the
pale face of the Jew from forever haunting the centuries."



CHAPTER XXXI

KING OF THE JEWS

"Jove, but my eyes are tired!  Since the third watch hath my service
been required, yet am I feverish to see the end of this matter.  Look!
Yonder housetops are black with men, eager-eyed, and the streets are
swarmed with early risers running hither and thither like ants much
stirred up.  When did ever the morning sun shine on such a scene?"

"Where is he now, this enemy of our Tiberius that hath thus stirred up
the populace?"

"To the barracks of the Tower of Antonio they have taken him for the
_flagellum horrible_."

"And will they be long in laying open the flesh of his back?"

"Nay, for twelve brawny armed and deaf to the cries of pity will lay on
the scourge.  Soon will he be brought again before Pilate."  The
speaker was a scribe in the palace of Herod the Great.  With two Romans
visiting in Jerusalem, he stood on the steps of the Praetorium looking
out over the open court which united its two colossal wings.

"Didst thou see the mighty procession which heralded the new King?"
asked one of the visitors.

"Yea, by the gods it was a great outpouring!  Peoples from all nations
of the earth were there to bear back the news that one had arisen to
take the throne of Caesar.  And well hath the time been chosen for
revolt when the city is gorged with strangers, and the flower of Rome's
legions in Palestine, is called to Syria.  Of him who betrayed the
Galilean revolutionist and hatched the plot for his deliverance, Rome
should make a divinity."

"A betrayer was there?"

"Yea, a betrayer and a plot else those pious dogs of the Sanhedrin had
not yet laid hands on him who stirred the people, for by day his
followers, who were many, kept near him, and by night hath he cunningly
concealed himself.  Cowards and curs are these Jews whose faces are
solemn and whose prayers are long.  Rome shows her hand in the open.
But these move under dark cloaks of piety, spin webs and heap up much
spoil."

"Hast thou seen this stirrer up of strife?"

"Yea, and heard his speech.  Daily he taught in the Temple and though
he is called a Galilean peasant, he hath much knowledge.  A strange
people were those of his race, and strange were the kings that once sat
on their thrones, for out of the Galilean's mouth their law allowed no
usury, left fruit on the vine for the poor, and turned vast estates
back to be redistributed.  Aye, this stirrer up of sedition makes much
of the poor.  Perchance hunger hath gnawed at his own vitals.  By
traffic in 'traditions' and sacrifices have their priests grown rich
filching from the poor.  For this did the Galilean call them a den of
thieves and curse and beat them, and for this gained he their hatred.
Yet they did not dare lay hands on him openly for fear of the populace.
Yesternight his hiding-place was learned.  At midnight as his followers
lay sleeping on the hills outside the city, a body of armed men with
the midnight guard of the Temple, crossed Kedron and found the revolter
at an old olive farm.  Then was he brought before the Sanhedrin--sly
foxes, evil beasts--for by their own law it is not lawful to hold
council until sunrise.  But fearing lest his followers should rescue
him if daylight found him uncondemned, even at the cock crowing was he
led before Caiaphas.  Then was he led before Pilate.  By Pilate was he
sent to Herod.  A raw joke, this that Pilate did poke at Herod in the
face of much people."

"Doth Pilate not love the Tetrarch of Galilee?"

"Nay, and yet more than Herod doth love him.  The father of Herod, he
who was called the Great, was crowned a king by the Senate at Rome.
Yet did Pilate fall heir to the glory thereof and the hurt hath worked
on Herod like a running sore.  Yet must his lips be ever sealed.  Now
hath Pilate sent one accused to this man, knowing that he hath no power
of life and death under the Roman law in Jerusalem.  But if he had, yet
would the joke be a raw one, for is not the following of the Galilean
from the province of Herod?  With what wisdom could he lift his arm
against the chosen one of so great and zealous a following?  So Herod
did send the accused back to Pilate and while the man passed back and
forth, the mob gathered and those pious murderers from the Temple, like
worms of corruption, worked in and out among the mob whispering,
'Traitor!  Traitor!  Treason!  Revolt!' throwing into the face of
Pilate that he is no friend of Caesar if this one be not crucified.
Then gave Pilate the rebel to the flayers.  Next comes the cross."

"So shall ever perish those who espouse the cause of the poor.  None
but a fool dreams crowns come to the poor.  What reason hath this man
who would be king, for befriending the poor?  Hath he a reason?"

"Aye.  He teacheth of that which he doth call 'Liberty.'  By his way
there would be no more slave, but all masters."

"Strange--passing strange!  How then if there is no _articulata
implementa_, could there be Roman property?  And who would pay for the
circus?"

"I know not.  But the arm of Caesar will see that no chance is given
this wild teaching of liberty.  Not since Sparticus lifted the sword to
get freedom for his kind has the head of our Caesar rested on an easy
pillow.  Revolt and insurrection rumble in the hearts of the slave and
the poor rabble, as still fire smolders in the heart of Vesuvius.  Like
a brand in a dry corn field will this revolt grow into insurrection
unless it is put down.  The arm of Rome is sufficient--but see!  The
mob parts!  They are coming from the scourge with him who is to be
crucified.  The death warrant hath been already written."

"Dost write death warrants for all crucified ones?"

"Nay, no more than for flies or vermin, else the earth would be running
over with warrants.  But a stirrer up of sedition, this is the one
crime that Rome doth not forgive.  Look!  Yonder he comes!  Lo, he
weareth a gaudy robe.  His face is pale from loss of blood.  Look you!
It drips from under the gaudy robe and follows his feet in plotches
which stain the mosaic.  The thongs must have cut deep.  Ha! ha!  He
weareth a crown--a crown for a King--a crown of prickly thorns.  It
hath left its mark on his forehead, and across one cheek there lieth a
purple stripe!"

"Listen--they are calling '_Staurosate_!  _Staurosate_!'  Like demons
do they yell as he is being led before Pilate."

"Canst see?"

"Yea.  Pilate doth have him mount the steps so that the mob may see
him.  Look you; what manner of man is he, who moveth like a conqueror
among those shouting his praises?  There is majesty in the tread of the
feet that leave a trail of blood!  And look!  Across his breast doth he
fold his arms; he lifteth his head; he looketh out over the multitude
as Julius Caesar might look upon a handful of chained slaves who had
breathed against his power invincible.  Why hath this Galilean this
majestic presence?  See thou--it doth impress the mob until their
tongues stop wagging and the buzz dieth to the stillness of the dead.
Look--look!  The Procurator ariseth.  He is full robed!  And about to
speak!"

Pontius Pilate moved himself so that the hungry mob, awed for the
moment into silence by the sight of one condemned, might look upon the
voice of power back of the Judgment Hall and Tower of Antonio.  When
every eye had turned from the royal-robed figure looking out on the mob
with god-like calm, Pilate himself turned his eyes from the solitary
man to the multitude and after prolonging the silence a moment said,
"_Ecce homo_!"

For the spell of a few short breaths, as if something heavy hung over
the heads of the gaping crowd, the silence lasted.  Then from a dozen
sources, like the fierce yelping of the pack came the cry,
'_Staurosate_!  Crucify him!"

"Hear!  Hear!" exclaimed the scribe to his visitor, "those curs of long
prayers and dangling frontlet do much loyal shouting for Caesar whom in
their hearts they curse.  Neither for Caesar care they, neither for
their Temple, but for the favor of Caesar and the gold of the Temple
will they swear lies and lick the hand of power.  But let me turn aside
for a brief spell to deliver up the superscription that Pilate hath
commanded be fastened on the cross above the thorn-cut brow of him who
would be king.  Look you--read: '_Jesus Nasarenus, Rex Judaeorum_.'"
The scribe and his visitors laughed heartily.  "And lest among the
multitude that hath heard of a new king, there are those unfamiliar
with our own tongue, Pilate hath given command that the superscription
be written in Greek and in the ancient letters of the Jews' own Law.
Also I would put the seal on the death sentence.  Wouldst thou see this
too?"

"Yea, for not before hath it been given my eyes to read the death
sentence of a 'King.'"

The scribe spread a fresh parchment[1] on the table and the Romans bent
over it to read.  "Yet a moment!" the scribe called to the men at the
table.  "Something strange is happening--look!  Pilate is washing his
hands in a basin!  What hath so defiled them that ablution doth take
place in the eyes of the shouting mob?"

"A mystery--yea.  But look you--aye, look you!  To mystery is added yet
more mystery!  Herod the Tetrarch doth approach Pilate.  He smileth
until the rising light doth sparkle on his teeth.  He holdeth forth his
hand!  Will the Procurator whose hands are yet wet from their strange
cleansing give him greeting?  Look you!  Steady thine eyes for a rare
sight.  He doth not hesitate!  Now is the hand of Pontius Pilate
gripped together with that of Herod Antipas.  By Castor and Pollux--by
Jove himself a rare fellowship hath been born of this tempest.  What
next?" and laughing, the Romans turned back to the death sentence.



[1] The original of what is accepted as Pilate's sentence was
discovered about the year 1380 in an iron tube among the marble ruins
of a temple in the city of Aquila, Italy, written in Hebrew characters
on parchment.  It is now in the custody of the Keeper of the Royal and
General Archives of Simancus, Spain.  The following is the translation
from the original parchment:

In the year 17 of Tiberius Caesar, Emperor of Rome and of all the
world, unconquerable monarch: In the CXXI Olympiad; in the XXIV Illiad
and of the creation of the world according to the number and count of
the Hebrews, four times 1157; of the propagation of the Roman Empire,
the year 73; of the deliverance from slavery to Babylon the year 430;
and the restitution of the Holy Empire, the year 497.  Lucius Marius
Sauricus being Consuls of Rome and Pontiff, Proconsuls of the
unconquerable Tiberius; Public Governor of Judea, Regent and Governor
of the City of Jerusalem, Flavius IV; its graceful president Pontius
Pilate; Regent of Lower Galilee, Herod Antipas; Pontiff of the High
Priesthood--Caiaphas; Ales Maelo, Master of the Temple; Rababan Ambe,
Centurion of the Consuls and of the City of Jerusalem.  Quintas
Cornelius Sublimius and Setus Pompilius Rufus, on the 25th, I Pontius
Pilate, representative of the Roman Empire, in the Palace of Larchi,
our residence, judge, condemn and sentence to death, Jesus, called
Christ, the Nazarene, of the multitude of Galilee, a man seditious of
the Mosaic Law, against the Great Emperor Tiberius Caesar, I determine
and pronounce by reason of the explained, that he shall suffer death
nailed to the cross, according to the usage of criminals, because
having congregated many men, rich and poor, he hath not ceased to stir
up tumults throughout Galilee, pretending to be the Son of God, and
King of Israel, threatening the ruin of Jerusalem and the Holy Empire,
and denying the tribute to Caesar; having the boldness to enter with
palms of triumph and accompanied by a multitude as King within the City
of Jerusalem in the Sacred Temple.

I therefore command my Centurion, Quintas Cornelius, that he conduct
publicly through the City of Jerusalem this Jesus Christ and that he be
tied and flogged, dressed in purple and crowned with prickly thorns,
with his own cross on his shoulders, so that he may serve as an example
to malefactors; and to take with him two homicidal thieves; all of whom
shall leave by the Giarancola Gate, designed to-day Antonia, and will
proceed to the mount of the wicked, called Calvary, where crucified and
dead, the body shall remain on the cross so that it may be a spectacle
and example to all criminals, and on said cross there shall be the
inscription in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, in Hebrew
'Jesu Aloi Alisidin'; in Greek 'Iesous Nazarenos Basileus ion
Iouoaion'; in Latin 'Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum.'  We likewise
command that no one of whatever class he may be, shall attempt
imprudently to impede this justice by us commanded, administered and
followed with all rigor, according to the decrees and laws of the Roman
and Hebrews, under penalty which those incur who rebel against the
Empire."


[Transcriber's note:  The Greek phrase in the above footnote was
transliterated as follows:

Iesous: Iota, eta, sigma, omicron, (rough breathing mark) upsilon,
final sigma.

Nazarenos: Nu, alpha, zeta, alpha, rho, eta, (rough breathing mark)
omicron, final sigma.

Basileus: Beta, alpha, sigma, iota, lambda, epsilon, (soft breathing
mark) upsilon, final sigma.

ion: iota, omega, nu.

Iouoaion: (soft breathing mark) Iota, omicron, upsilon, (soft breathing
mark) omicron, alpha, iota, omega, nu.]



CHAPTER XXXII

BY THIS SIGN

At the side of a roadway leading up the sloping ascent of a bald hill,
on the outskirts of Jerusalem, stood a rock, which by the stone rolled
against it, was evidently a tomb of ancient days.  This roadway, which
had been tramped into fine dust by the tread of many feet, ran along
the edge of a ravine, the far side of which was cut with sepulchres and
fissured into narrow caves.  Just beyond the tomb, the road turned to
the top of the hill which was hidden by a solitary dying olive that
cast its black branches across a pile of bleached gray rock.  On this
bald hill three crosses had been set up and since sunrise a vast crowd
had thronged the roadway, for it had early become news that he who had
been acclaimed King of the Jews had been hanged between two thieves,
and many there were who were curious to see the sad plight of the King.

As the mocking crowd surged about the hill-top, and the sun was shining
high in the heavens, the victim on the center cross uttered a cry which
seemed to vibrate into the very element and turn the light of midday
into impenetrable darkness and shake the earth with a mighty trembling.
Rocks rattled down the ravine; tomb-doors were shaken from their
holdings; the moaning of wind, like a dying breath, passed the length
of the valley below and from the black depths a leper cried, "Unclean!
Unclean!" his despairing wail answered by the scream of a maniac.

In the midst of the darkness there were fitful outbursts of dull green
light, like the expiring effort of a perishing sun, and in these
ghostly gleams people could be seen running to and fro.  Among them
were a woman and a man; the woman wrapped in a long cloak, the man,
mighty in size, with scarce enough garments to cover his body, but to
these the woman clung as they crept behind the wayside rock for
shelter.  Scarcely had they settled close to the rock than it began to
tremble, and then the stone rolled away from before it and a skeleton
toppled out, falling at the very feet of the woman.

With a scream she cried, "My dream!  My dream!  Even now it cometh to
pass!  Help!  Help!"

The man drew the woman away from the skeleton and closer to the
trembling rock.

"Even the dead come forth!" she wailed.  "It is the end of all things!
By the death of us all shall the gods avenge the death of the Jew!  Oh,
my eunuch, save me!  Thou art strong!  Thou wert a follower and a
believer.  Save me!" and she threw herself into his arms.

"Calm thyself, most noble Claudia," the man said in quiet tones.  "That
which maketh the earth tremble until stones roll from the grave, is
naught but the same power that piles still water into waves of rocking
mountains and that breaks the cedars of the hills as if they were dead
grass.  Fear not."

"Thou sayest--but feel the rocking of the earth."

"Yea, it doth tremble.  Yet hath it trembled before and will tremble
again.  In Thrace have I seen the earth shake open in yawning pits."

"But the sun is dark at midday!  What meaneth it?"

"Something hath come between the sun and thy vision.  The sun yet
shineth."

"Nay!  Nay!  Even the sun doth darker, its face in shame that the Jew,
that just man, should be hung upon a cross to die!  Oh, Pilate!
Pilate!  How could you?"

While they were speaking the darkness lightened and two soldiers
crossed the road.  When they reached the skeleton whose white outlines
could be dimly seen in the gray light, they stopped suddenly.

"The dead come forth!  Wherefore?" exclaimed one.

"Because this thing came of a race that knowest nothing, not even that
it is dead."  He kicked the skull which separated itself from the body
and rolled toward him.  Stopping it with his boot he said, "Aye, good
Jew, art thou dead or alive?  Speak!"

"He is lacking a tongue," and the second soldier laughed.  The first
ran his sword through the ribs of the skeleton and flinging it into the
ravine kicked the skull after it.

In the silence that followed this clearing of the roadway, a moan was
heard from the hidden hill-top.  It was one of the malefactors begging
for a stupefying potion to stay his torment.

"Hear," said one of the soldiers.  "_He_ beggeth with a good tongue."

"Yea, but the Jew that hangeth between the two refused the draught."

"He refuseth nothing now.  The tongue of the 'King of the Jews' waggeth
no longer in profane bragging against Caesar.  Let us see to him."

When the soldiers had turned up the hill, the woman behind the rock
spoke again.  "Oh, my eunuch," she said, "go thou to the cross and
inquire of the Jew.  They say he is dead--dead," and her voice ended in
a sob.

"Be comforted, most gracious Claudia.  Methinks they speak what they
know not.  Yet will thy servant inquire."

While the eunuch was gone a group of soldiers came down the road
bearing a purple robe.  Near the rock behind which Claudia stood
concealed they seated themselves, removed their helmets and dropped
dice in them.

"A goodly apparel," one soldier said, holding forth the robe.

"Yea, and a crown went with it," a second said.

"Yea, and a cross followed after it," a third added.

"For Pilate is the friend of Caesar."

"Thus ever with those Rome hath cause to fear," the first soldier
observed as he shook the dice in his helmet.  Then in turn the soldiers
rattled their dice and spoke.

"Look thou!  Look thou!"

"Aye, but look here."

"Yea, but cast thine eyes on my luck!"

"I throw well!"

"I throw better!"

"I throw best!  Look!  The garment is mine!"

While they had been casting lots for the robe, several bystanders had
collected.  Among them was a thickly built man with a peculiar mark on
his face.  Straight above the line of his black beard it lay across one
cheek like a red and purple band ending in a black mark at the tip on
his ear.  He wore a handsomely embroidered turban and carried a blue
cloak.  When the game, which he watched with interest, was finished and
the new owner of the robe had taken possession of it, the bystander
said, "How fareth the King whose robe now becometh thine?"

"When we left him but a short time since, he no longer begged for water
and his head hung limp."

"Perhaps he hath but fainted," the man with the blue cloak suggested.

"Then shall the breaking of bones make sure his end."

"Knowest thou where the bone-breaker is?"

"I am he."

"And when wilt thou break the bones of his body?"

"What matter to thee when his bones are broken?"

"None save this.  When the vast darkness that just now is lifting, was
blackest, I heard a company of his followers whispering, and they did
say he swore that, though dead, yet on the third day would he rise from
the grave."

"And thou wouldst know of a surety that his legs are broken so that if
he be stolen from the tomb his legs carry him not far?" and the
soldiers laughed.  "Fret not, the bones of the Jew will soon be broken."

"Wouldst thou break them sooner for a piece of gold?" and he drew from
his cloak a wallet.

The soldier sprang up eagerly and held out his hand saying, "A coin
upon the palm doth grant thy desire before thine eyes.  The coin--then
come, let us to the bone-breaking."

The man with the wallet had his hand on the gold, and the man with the
heavy sword had his hand well held out for the gift, when a woman
appeared suddenly before them and said to the soldier, "Lift not thy
hand against the bones of the Jew!"

"What meanest thou--follower of the Jew?" the soldier replied angrily.

"Nay, not a follower of the Jew am I.  Yet I know he was a just man."

"Thou dost lie with clumsy tongue," the soldier declared.  "Thou art
one of his followers."

"Whether I lie, or whether I lie not, break not a bone of the Jew's
body!"

"Thou art a cunning follower of the Jew, and bold.  Yet shall his bones
be broken.  Move thou on farther from the cross.  Stand to one side,"
and he lifted his broad sword.

"And when did it come to pass," she said without moving, "that a dog of
a soldier lifted the sword against a Roman?"

"A Roman?  In my eye, a Roman," and the soldier laughed.

"Yea, a Roman--and more than a Roman.  Let thine eyes look!"  With the
words Claudia threw back the long cloak and stood forth in the gorgeous
apparel of a Roman noblewoman.  The soldiers moved back a step and
looked in wonderment as she spoke again.  "A Roman?  More than a Roman
is Claudia Procula, wife of Pontius Pilate!  Knowest thou,
bone-breakers of the Tower of Antonio, who Pilate is?  Not a follower
of the Jew am I, but by the ring upon my hand I am the wife of the
Roman Procurator, and I say to thee, not a bone of this just man's body
shall be broken, else with thy broken body wilt thou pay bone for bone!"

The soldiers moved back a few steps farther.  Then one said, "And when
hath it come to pass that Pilate's wife giveth orders?"

"When Pilate washeth his hands of the tragedy, then doth Claudia
command."

"Thou dost talk strangely for a Roman."

"This is a time of strange things.  Strange darkness--strange trembling
of the earth--strange bravery of a just man.  Yea, a time of strange
happenings.  But break thou not the bones of the Jew."

The bystander with blue cloak and open wallet had moved aside a short
distance.  To him Claudia now turned, and after a moment of scrutiny
she said, "By thy nose made fast against thy head and the twist of thy
tongue when it doth barter where gold is passed, thou art a Jew.  A
Jew--and _such_ a Jew!  For the hardness of thy heart may the dark and
ugly stripe thou wearest stay with thee ever.  Even as thou standest
before me in the dust, my eyes behold thee shrink into a viper!  Get
thee hence!"

When the soldiers and the Jewish bystander had gone down the roadway
toward the city, Claudia stepped back behind the rock.  During the time
she had been talking the dim light had given way again to the
brightness of the day.  From her place she watched the passers-by and
harkened their comment.  Some, mocking, said, "He saved others, himself
he could not save."  Some marveled that his last breath should be a
prayer of forgiveness for those who had robbed him of his life; some
declared the show were not worth the dusty pilgrimage from Jerusalem on
a hot day; some laughed to find a King in so sad a plight.  Some wept.
One such a woman in black who came slowly, leaning on the arm of a
young man, and sobbing: "He is dead!  He is dead!"  And when the young
man sought to comfort her as a son would comfort a mother, her moaning
heart cried only, "He is dead!  My son--my little Jehu--he is dead!"
And the suffering of the woman moved the heart of Claudia until tears
wet her face.

Gradually the number of passers-by grew less and by the conversation of
the stragglers Claudia knew that the body had been taken from the
cross.  After what seemed hours of waiting, the eunuch returned to her.

"Long hast thou been gone!" she said.

"Yea, most noble Claudia, for it hath been given thy scarred servant to
take in his strong arm the body of the Galilean from his cross.  Holy
service!"

"And he is dead--dead--" and Claudia's voice broke under its burden of
pain.

"Weep not!  Weep not!" said the scarred eunuch.  "Thy falling tears
drop heavily on thy servant's heart.  Weep not."

"Thy kind heart hath never been the heart of a bond-slave," Claudia
sobbed.  "But he is dead--he is _dead_!"

"Dead?  Yea--and nay, for of his promise cometh the glorious hope that
turneth the waters of bitterness into the oil of joy and sobs into
singing."

"What promise is this?"

"On the third day he shall rise from the dead and come forth from the
grave."

"Rise from the dead!  Come forth from the grave!" and Claudia lifted
her eyes in astonishment.

"Yea, most noble Claudia--alive forever more.  When he hath so often
said, 'I and the Father are One,' he hath meant in power over life and
death, for hath he not said of his life, 'I have power to lay it down
and power to take it up again?'"

"He that is dead shall come forth to everlasting life?" Claudia
repeated as if dazed.

"Thou speakest.  Of his divine love for humankind hath the Nazarene
laid down his life, that of the sacrifice may be knitted together the
hearts of all races and kinds of men into the Brotherhood for which he
lived and died.  And when he shall take up that life, then will there
be victory over death and the grave forever more to all who believe.
According to the faith he hath taught hath the Galilean this day
achieved immortal victory.  Wouldst thou see from whence the body of
the Conqueror hath been taken?"

"Yea, I would see."

He led the way up the road and as they turned on to the brow of the
hill, three upright crosses came boldly into view.  On two of them hung
human forms with drooping heads from the half opened mouths of which a
tongue point protruded.  Their hand palms were filled with clotted
blood and their legs, freshly mangled by the bone-breakers, hung limp.
They were too well dead now longer to attract sight-seers, and the few
guards left kept tired watch at a distance.  The center cross stood
tall, its outstretched arms overtopping the lesser crosses.  On its
highest point was the superscription of Pilate.  There was nothing to
show it had been the death bed of a human being, other than the red
stains at its center made by the scourge-cut back that had lain against
it.  In the full light of a western sun, this red center took on a
ruddy glow.

Silent the two stood a moment.  Then she said, "And thou callest him
'conqueror' whose wounded body doth even now lie in the tomb?"

"According to the mystery of the Way, he is more than conqueror."

"What is the Way, my eunuch?"

"The way of a seed of corn that passeth into the abundance of new life."

"Thy message reacheth the heart of Claudia but dimly.  Hast thou not
words to name this Way?"

"Yea, most noble mistress.  In thine own tongue can thy servant name
the Way."

"I listen."

"_Via crucis_."

"_Via crucis_," Claudia repeated.  "And this meaneth?" and she lifted
her eyes to the face of the man.

"That when in thy heart thou hast overcome fear and unbelief, then hast
thou the victory over death and the grave.  This be the Way."

"Oh, that I _might_ have victory over fear and doubt and death!  That I
might enter into the faith!  My scarred eunuch, thou hast led my feet
thus far.  Take thou my hand and lead me yet a little nearer to the
cross."

Hand in hand the Roman noblewoman and the scarred eunuch moved nearer
the bloodstained emblem of baptism to the Way.  The man released the
hand of the woman that he might hold both hands over his heart as he
lifted his face to some blessed hope or vision that lay beyond sight of
the woman's eyes.  Yet she read on his calm and shining face that he
too was a conqueror and that yet in his body he had victory over death.
She turned her eyes once again to the crimson wood just before her,
lifted her hand and reverently made the sign of the cross over her
heart.  As she did so a peace greater than her understanding flooded
her being and her breath came like that of one new born, as she
whispered, "_Crux rosatus_!  _In hoc signo vinces_!"



CHAPTER XXXIII

I AM

Thirty-six hours had passed since the execution of Jesus of Nazareth,
bringing the first day of a new week.  Very early in the morning Mary
and Martha had arisen.  With Anna and Debora, Martha was going to
Jerusalem, where, just outside the city gate, she was to meet Mary, the
mother of James and other women who had followed their acclaimed King
from his own Galilee, and were now going to his sepulchre.  These women
had rested over the Sabbath as the Law required, and had prepared
spices and sweet ointment with which to anoint the body so hastily put
away on the evening the third day before.

Mary had chosen to remain in her garden that she might be alone, and in
the dawning of the morning, she walked slowly.  Her heart had been
wrung by pain; her tears had been spent.  The will to grieve had left
her and the calm of resignation had settled where the storm had torn
her soul.  As she walked in white the surrounding gray gave her the
appearance of an ethereal being, dim and unreal, walking in a garden of
shadows, quiet as a sleeping child, and perfumed with dewy lilies.

Beside the lily bed she paused where she had once stood on a glad day
with her beloved Master.  She did not break a stem.  She did not even
stoop over the blossoms.  She did not sigh.  She did not for the moment
seem conscious of her own existence.  As she stood she felt her heart
grow warm with a warmth as penetrating as sunshine and as vital as life
itself, a strange unfathomable warmth that seemed to flood her being
and yet be at one with it.  Strangely moved by this pulsing warmth, she
turned in the pathway, and as she turned, the hush of the sleeping
garden was stirred by a vibrant voice which spoke the one word, "Mary!"
With wildly beating heart she paused.  The voice seemed to have come
from under the olive tree where the old stone bench stood empty and
wrapped in gloom.  When she had strained her vision for a moment she
saw a form in the shadows, at first misty and gray as the morning, but
taking distinct shape before her bewildered eyes until a face looked
toward her with unutterable love.

"Mary."  Again her name sounded on the stillness like a holy call.  "It
is I, be not afraid."

She knew now, and in a voice of ecstasy she replied, as with flying
feet she ran to him, "Master--oh, my Master!"

"Touch me not," he said when she would have thrown her arms about him.
"Thy hands are not yet ready.  Yet because thou hast eyes to see, thou
seest.  Blessed art thou among women!  The things that I have taught
thee, forget not, nor add to.  I am the Beginning and the End.  I have
the keys of Death and the Unseen and lo, I am with thee always, even
unto the end of the Ages."

And when Jesus had seen the face of Mary illumined with the immortal
joy of the mystery of Deathless Love revealed, he passed again into the
Unseen.



THE END





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