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Title: Fair to Look Upon
Author: Freeley, Mary Belle
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 "Fair to Look Upon" ***

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KY, for generously providing the vignette on pg. 13.



FAIR TO LOOK UPON

by

MARY BELLE FREELEY

With Original Illustrations by W. L. Dodge



[Illustration: "I HUMMED A GAY LITTLE TUNE FOR HIS BENEFIT."]



Chicago
Morrill, Higgins & Co.
Copyright:
Morrill, Higgins & Co.
1892



CONTENTS.


A RIPPLE OF DISSENSION AND WHAT CAME OF IT,           11

THE STORY OF EVE,                                     19

THE ABRAHAM-HAGAR AFFAIR,                             29

ISAAC'S WIFE,                                         47

A WOMAN'S MONUMENT,                                   67

ANOTHER OF THE WOMEN OF OLD,                          83

ALL NAUGHTY, BUT FAIR,                                97

STORY OF SOME WOMEN AND A BABY,                      107

ANOTHER OF "THE MISTAKES OF MOSES,"                  123

SOME MANAGING WOMEN,                                 135

ANOTHER GROUP OF THEM,                               151

THE FAMOUS WIDOW OF MOAB,                            163

HE GAVE IT UP TOO,                                   175



ILLUSTRATIONS.


I hummed a gay little tune for his benefit,            _Frontispiece_.

He held my milk-white hand in his,                             13

Our first parents,                                             17

While Adam was idly, lazily sunning himself in the garden,     25

The Serpent did tempt me,                                      28

And the men watched to see her go by,                          33

And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house,                  37

Abraham entertaining the three angels,                         41

And he sent Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness,         43

And Abraham went down to Egypt,                                44

Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher,      55

I will go,                                                     58

Two little boys played marbles,                                59

Esau cheated out of his blessing,                              62

And Rebekah was--a woman,                                      64

And there came two angels to Sodom,                            69

And Lot went out and tried to pacify them,                     71

Lot's wife looked back,                                        75

Look not behind thee,                                          80

Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept,          87

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel,                       89

She hoped he would excuse her for not arising,                 94

Put up his hands in welcome and said "Ah, goo! ah goo!"       115

And every kiss strengthened her determination,                119

They clasped hands lingeringly and said a soft good night,    129

Alas, my lord, I beseech thee,                                132

What would'st thou?                                           139

She let them down from the window of her house,               143

She smote the nail into his temples,                          145

Cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head,            147

And she betrayed him,                                         149

Turned her pretty head aside and blushed,                     170

And Boaz and Ruth were married,                               173

And I said--                                                  180



A RIPPLE OF DISSENSION
AND WHAT CAME OF IT.



[Illustration: (He held my milk-white hand in his.)]


A RIPPLE OF DISSENSION AND WHAT CAME OF IT.


I was about to be married. My numerous charms and attractions had won
the affections of a young man who was equally charming with myself.

We were sitting on a luxurious divan and he held my milk-white hand in
his. I do not make that statement as a startling announcement of an
unusual occurrence, but simply as a matter of fact.

We had been conversing about the culinary and domestic arrangements of
our future home when matrimony had made us "one flesh;" or, to use
English, we had been wondering what under the canopy a good cooking
stove would cost, when he asked suddenly and irrelevantly,

"And you will love me, always?"

"Of course," said I, a little impatiently; for when one is deep in a
mathematical problem such a question is a little annoying.

"And you will honor me always?" he next inquired.

"As long as you deserve to be honored," I replied, with the habitual
good sense of my age and sex, mentally wondering if granite-ware
stewpans went with a cooking stove.

"And you will obey me?" he queried next, in a tone that plainly
indicated that I'd have to. I left the mathematical problem for future
solution and said, hesitatingly:

"Yes--if--I--can."

"If you can?" he said, in sternly questioning tones; and a cloud no
bigger than a man's hand appeared upon the heaven of our love.

"I don't believe a woman ever lived who ever obeyed any one--God,
angels, or men," I cried.

"You are a traitor. You slander your sex," he exclaimed, aghast.

"I deny the charge," I replied, springing to my feet, with all the
spirit of the above-mentioned age and sex. "By that assertion I only
add glory to their fame." He looked at me for a little while, too
surprised to speak, and then said, in sarcastic tones:

"Consider our wedding postponed until you have had a little time to
study your Bible. Good night."

"'Study your Bible!' That is what everybody says when they want to
prove any theory, creed, ism, or anything. I shall study my Bible
diligently. Good night," I replied, thinking it was not such very bad
advice after all; and then I hummed a gay little tune for his benefit
until I heard the hall door close.

And I have studied my Bible with the following result.



[Illustration: (Our first parents.)]



THE STORY OF EVE.



THE STORY OF EVE.


Away back when Adam was a young man--now I know that Adam is rather an
ancient subject, but you need not elevate your eyebrows in scorn, for
you will be ancient yourself sometime--he found himself in Eden one
day; he did not know why, but we do, don't we?

He was there because Eve was to come, and it was a foregone conclusion
even in that early age that when she did appear she would want some
one to hold her bouquet, open the door for her, button her gloves,
tell her she was pretty and sweet and "I never saw a woman like you
before," you know.

Her arrival was the greatest event the world has ever known, and the
grandest preparations were made for it.

A blue sky arched gloriously over the earth, and sun, moon and stars
flashed and circled into space, silvery rivers ran cool and slow
through scented valleys, the trees threw cooling shadows on the fresh,
damp grass, the birds sang in the rosy dawn, the flowers blushed in
odorous silence and yet it was all incomplete, and Adam wandered
restlessly around like a man who has lost his collar button.

But suddenly a great hush of expectancy fell upon the world. Not a
bird fluttered its feathers, the flowers bowed their heads, the winds
and the waters listening ceased their flowing and their blowing, the
radiant moonshine mingled its light with the pale pink dawn and a
million stars paled their eternal fires, as Eve, the first woman,
stood in Eden.

And the world was young and beautiful. The first flush and bloom was
on the mountains and the valleys, the birds were thrilled by the
sweetness of their own songs, the waves broke into little murmurs of
delight at their own liquid beauty, the stars of heaven and the
unfading blue were above Adam's head--and yet he wasn't satisfied.
Long he stood idly in the brightening dawn wondering why the days were
so long and why there were so many of them, when suddenly out from the
swinging vines and the swaying foliage Eve came forth.

And though there was a vacant look on her lovely face (for her baby
soul had not yet awakened) Adam saw that her lips were red and her
arm white and rounded and he whistled a soft, low whistle with a sort
of "O-won't-you-stop-a-moment?" cadence in the music, and Eve looked
up; and I think at that moment he plucked a flower and offered it to
her; and of course she did not understand it all, but Nature, not
intelligence, asserted her power, and she reached out her hand and
took the rose--and then for the first time in the world a woman
blushed and smiled; and I suspect it was at that very moment that "the
morning stars first sang together."

Woman has never been obedient. She has always had the germ of the
ruler and autocrat in her soul. It was born when Eve first looked with
longing eyes at the apple swinging in the sunlight.

While Adam was idly, lazily sunning himself in the garden was Eve
contented to smell the fragrance of the violets and bask in the
starlight of a new world? Oh no! She was quietly wandering around
searching for the Serpent, and when she found him she smiled upon him
and he thought the world grew brighter; then she laughed and his
subjugation was complete; and then the naughty creature, without
waiting for an introduction, led him to the famous apple tree, and
standing on her tip-toes, reached up her hands and said with a
soul-subduing little pout:

"See, I want that apple, but I can't reach it. Won't you please find a
club and knock it off for me?" and she looked out of the corner of her
eye and blushed divinely.

Now this Serpent represented, so it has always been believed, a very
shrewd person. He saw that this woman had no garments, and that after
she had eaten this fruit she would know better, and delight in clothes
ever after. So he gave her the apple.

Almost instantly after she had eaten some, not because she
particularly liked apples, or had any idea of their adaptability in
the way of pies, sauce or cider, but because she wanted to "be as gods
knowing good and evil," as the Serpent said she would. Discontent with
her wardrobe crept into her heart and ambition for something better
sprang to life.

[Illustration: "WHILE ADAM WAS IDLY, LAZILY SUNNING HIMSELF IN THE
GARDEN."]

In the distance stood Adam. With a thrill of rapture she beheld him,
her aroused soul flashed from her eyes and love was born, and she
ran toward him through the flowers, pausing on the river's brink to
rest, for weariness had touched her limbs.

She watched the waters running south out of the garden, and like one
coming out of a dim, sweet twilight into a blaze of glory she looked
and wondered "why" it ran that way, and lo! Thought blossomed like a
rose, and generosity laughed in the sunshine when she put the apple in
Adam's hand; and Adam, with the only woman in the world beside him,
and the first free lunch before him, forgot all about God and His
commands and "did eat," and the results prove that free lunches always
did demoralize men--and always will. And modesty blushed rosy red when
Adam put the apple to his lips, and invention and ingenuity, new-born,
rushed to the rescue, and they gathered the fig leaves.

Then memory like a demon whispered in her ear: "The day that ye eat
thereof ye shall surely die." She glanced at Adam and deadly fear
chilled the joyous blood in her veins. Then she argued: "He will be
less angry with me, a woman, and His vengeance will fall less heavily
on me than on the man to whom His command was given;" and lo! Reason
rose like a star on the waves of life, and shoulder to shoulder
womanly devotion and heroism that fears neither God nor death in
defense of its loved ones entered her soul, and she instructed Adam to
say: "The woman tempted me," and deception trembled on her lips when
she cried: "The serpent did tempt me," and the tears of regret and
remorse watered the seeds of deception and they grew so luxuriously
that women have always had that same way of getting out of scrapes
ever since.

Yet to Eve belongs the honor of never having obeyed any one--when it
interfered with progress, advancement and intelligence--neither God,
angels nor men.

The women of the nineteenth century make a profound salaam of
admiration and respect to Eve, in whom they recognize the first
courageous, undaunted pioneer woman of the world.

[Illustration: (The Serpent did tempt me.)]



THE ABRAHAM-HAGAR AFFAIR.



THE ABRAHAM-HAGAR AFFAIR.


"And there was a famine in the land; and Abraham went down to Egypt to
sojourn there."

You see Abraham was that charming kind of man--a man with his pockets
full of shekels, for "he was very rich in cattle, in silver and in
gold." So, as provisions grew short in Canaan, and as in those days
when men went on a pleasure trip they took their wives with them,
Sarah accompanied him to Egypt.

Up to this time husbands had only been obedient, but in this age they
began to be complimentary, and as Sarah and Abraham were about
entering Egypt, he said to her, "Behold now, I know that thou art a
fair woman to look upon," and even if it is the first compliment on
record, we must admit, even at this late day, that Abraham was far
advanced in the art of flattery.

Now Sarah was the pioneer, champion, incomparable coquette of the
ancient world, and as such deserves our earnest attention.

We gather from the following events that Abraham realized her
unequaled proclivities for getting in with kings, landlords and other
magnates of the countries through which she was pleasuring, and so he
told her to pass herself off as his sister; and because she believed
it would enhance her chances of having a good time, and as it was
easy, natural and agreeable, she did it, and not because she had any
idea of merely obeying her husband.

Abraham wanted their marriage kept secret because, in those days, when
a lover-king wished to get rid of an obnoxious husband, he hypnotized
him into eternal silence by having him used as a target for a sling, a
spear or javelin, instead of causing an appeal to the divorce courts,
as they do in this civilized and enlightened generation. And I believe
that, after all, the old way is the better one, for when men and women
die, they are dead, but when they are only divorced they are awfully
alive sometimes.

[Illustration: "AND THE MEN WATCHED TO SEE HER GO BY."]

And it came to pass, when they arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians "beheld
the woman that she was very fair," and the men watched on the street
corners to see her go by; and she passed herself as a giddy maiden
with such unrivaled success that she gained a notoriety that would
have made the fortune of a modern actress, and the princes of Pharaoh
commended her wit, beauty and grace to the king, "and the woman was
taken into Pharaoh's house."

The attentive reader will observe that Holy Writ, in speaking of a
woman, never deigns to say that she is virtuous, industrious,
obedient, or a good cook, but seems to ignore everything but the fact
that "she was fair to look upon."

That was all that seemed to be required of the "holy women of old."

And Pharaoh "entreated Abraham well for Sarah's sake" (you notice they
did everything to please the ladies in those days), and loaded him
with riches, presents and honors; and Pharaoh's wives and sub-wives
and cadet wives didn't like it. And the Secretary of the Treasury, the
Prime Minister and the High Lord Chamberlain of the Bedchamber didn't
like it. The neighbors began to talk openly; the scandal "smelled to
heaven;" and the Lord Himself had to interfere to head the fair Sarah
off, and He "plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues, because
of Sarah, Abraham's wife."

And then--after the preliminary amorous clasping of hands, the little
caressing attentions, the lingering kisses; after the fiery
expectation and the rapture of possession, after all this came--as it
always does--the tragedy of satiety and separation.

"And Abraham went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife and all that he
had."

[Illustration: "AND THE WOMAN WAS TAKEN INTO PHARAOH'S HOUSE."]

Yet Peter, in speaking of the duties of wives, has the temerity to
refer to the "holy women of old," and holds Sarah up as a bright and
shining example for us to follow, saying, "even as Sarah obeyed
Abraham, calling him lord." But we won't lay this up against Peter,
for it is a telling fact (and shows the predicament he was in) that he
had to go back nearly two thousand years to find an obedient woman.
There were evidently none in his day, but as he wished to make his
teaching effective and submit some proof to clinch his argument, he
went back to Sarah and said, "even as Sarah obeyed Abraham," which
shows he had never gotten at the real facts in the lovely Sarah's
career, or else was misrepresenting Sarah to carry his point in favor
of the men.

A careful perusal of my Bible convinces me that the "holy women of
old," as Peter dubs them, were all afflicted with a chronic
determination to have their own way--and they had it.

But the men were always obedient to the women, and each one "hearkened
unto the voice of his wife" and also obeyed God and the angels.

At this point in the history of the affable Sarah and the dutiful
Abraham we come to the Abraham-Hagar case, and find the hired-girl
question already agitating society.

And the historian tells us that Sarah told Abraham that he could have
Hagar for his very own, and then the narrator naively remarks, "And
Abraham hearkened unto the voice of his wife."

But of course this is a vile slander against Sarah, and, at this late
day, I rise to refute the charge.

Probably some of Abraham's political friends, when the disgrace broke
forth in all its rosy glory, trumped up this story about Sarah's
consent to save his reputation. But Sarah never did anything of the
kind, as her subsequent actions prove. It isn't human nature; it isn't
wifely nature; and although Sarah was a little gay-hearted herself,
she wasn't going to stand any such nonsense--to speak lightly--from
Abraham, and when she discovered his intimacy with the hired girl she
quietly called him into the tent, and in less than ten seconds she
made his life a howling wilderness. I don't know exactly what she said
(as I wasn't there), but it ended, as such scenes usually do end, by
the dear man repenting. For, since he is found out, what else can a
man do? He said he was sorely tempted, no doubt, and so forth and so
on to the end of the chapter, and said: "Thy maid is in thy hands; do
unto her as it pleaseth thee." And "Sarah dealt hardly with her, and
she fled from her face." But she came back, because you remember she
met an angel in the wilderness, and he told her to return. Nice advice
from an angel, wasn't it?

[Illustration: (Abraham entertaining the three angels.)]

The next scene in which the lovely Sarah distinguishes herself, and
nobly sustains her record for disobedience and a determination to
follow the dictates of her own sweet will, was when Abraham
entertained the three angels.

Now hobnobbing with angels wasn't an every-day affair, even in that
age when angels were more plentiful than they are now.

And Abraham was naturally a little excited, and he "hastened into the
tent unto Sarah," and said: "Make ready quickly three measures of fine
meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth;" and he gave orders to
a young man to kill a calf, etc. And after a while the supper was
served, with all the delicacies the rich and great could afford, and
everything appeared that he had ordered--except Sarah's cakes. They
were simply and inexplicably _non est_.

Of course it was a pretty shabby thing for a woman to go back on her
husband in his hour of need, and when there were angels in the house
too; but she did it, thereby sustaining her reputation for crookedness
and general contrariness as a wife.

And yet it has always been preached to us that we should obey our
husbands "even as Sarah obeyed Abraham." Well, we're willing, since
all she had to do was to look pretty, be agreeable, and do exactly as
she pleased.

But the very fact that Sarah has been held up as an example for us to
follow proves that the men had not read up her record intelligently,
or else in their extremity they were presuming on our ignorance while
trying to enforce order and submission.

But that was not the worst of it. When she heard the angel tell
Abraham that she should have a son she ridiculed the idea.

She had the germ of the infidel in her heart, and lacked Abraham's
credulity, and would not believe anything, even if an angel did say
so, unless it was backed up by reason and common sense, and so she
laughed behind their backs.

Now it appears that angels object to being ridiculed as well as other
folk, and when they heard her giggling they demanded to know the
reason of Abraham. It was exceedingly naughty for her to place her
husband in such a predicament, and when she found she was getting the
whole family into an uproar she denied the charge, which shows that to
her other charming and wifely qualities she added the art of
equivocating.

[Illustration: (And he sent Hagar and Ishmael out into the
wilderness.)]

After that Abraham "sojourned in Gerar," and again the seductive Sarah
charmed the great king, and again the Lord had to interfere and settle
the affair.

When Isaac was born Sarah was more exacting and jealous than ever of
Hagar, and said to Abraham: "Cast out this bond-woman and her son; for
the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son."

[Illustration: (And Abraham went down to Egypt.)]

"And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight," but he
"hearkened unto the voice of his wife," like the dutiful and obedient
husband he was, and he sent Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness.
And even to this day the women who are guilty of Hagar's crime are
remorselessly sent out into the wilderness of desertion, despair and
disgrace--and it is right and just!

We are told that "fashions change;" but Sarah inaugurated a fashion
that wives have followed to this day, and will follow till the ocean
of eternity shall sweep the island of Time into oblivion.

And so endeth the chapter of the second prominent woman of "Holy
Writ."

And Abraham was always "obedient," and "hearkened unto the voice of
his wife;" and Sarah was a lawless, crafty, coquettish--but never
obedient woman.



ISAAC'S WIFE.



ISAAC'S WIFE.


And Abraham said unto his servant, "Thou shalt go unto my country and
to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."

But the servant, who was evidently a student of female character and
knew

    "That when a woman will, she will,
        You may depend on it;
    And when she won't, she won't,
        And there's an end on it;"

said: "Peradventure, the woman will not be willing to follow me unto
this land."

Then Abraham, who was a connoisseur in feminine ethics (as he
naturally would be, having had such able instructors as Sarah and
Hagar) and realized the utter futility of attempting to persuade,
bribe or induce a woman to do anything she objected to doing, said:

"And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt
be clear from this mine oath."

So the servant departed and "went to Mesopotamia unto the city of
Nahor."

Now it seems in those days the girls of Nahor went outside the city
gates every evening, according to Oriental custom, to draw water from
a well, and the artful servant of Abraham tarried at the well at
sunset, for he knew the girls would be along presently.

It was a lovely eventide. The wind touched caressingly the few dainty
flowers drooping their heads in sleepy fragrance, the birds twittered
soft words of love to their nestling mates, the departing god of day
lavished in reckless abandon his wealth of colors; piled crimson
mountains red as his ardent love in the western sky, and robed high
heaven in golden glory that his sweetheart--the earth--reveling in and
remembering the grandeur of his passion and the splendor of his
departure, might not love his silver-armored rival of the night.

About this time the maidens tripped down to the well, where the shrewd
servant stood as the "daughters of the men of the city came out to
draw water," and prayed:

"And let it come to pass that the damsel to whom I shall say, 'Let
down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink;' and she shall say,
'Drink,' may be the one I am looking for;" or words to that effect.

The words had hardly passed his lips ere Rebekah, with the color
snatched from the roses in her cheeks and the grace of untrammeled
freedom in her step, skipped down to the well.

And Rebekah "was very fair to look upon." Of course. In relating the
history of these examples who have been held up since time immemorial
for us to follow, the writers of "Holy Writ" never expatiate upon
their virtue, industry, domesticity, constancy or love, but we are
simply and briefly told they were "fair to look upon," and the natural
logical inference is that we shall "go and do likewise."

Belonging to one of the wealthiest and most influential families of
Nahor, of course Rebekah's practiced eye saw at a glance that the
handsome fellow waiting at the well and looking the girls over was a
person of rank and importance; for it is only a logical conclusion
that coming from such a master and bound upon such an errand, he was
surrounded by all the trappings and signs of wealth and luxury that
the times afforded.

And the maidens of Nahor went outside the city gates partly for the
same purpose, I suppose, as that for which the girls of other places
go to the parks and matinées nowadays, for it seems to have been a
notorious fact that had even spread to other countries, that the girls
of Nahor came down to the well in the blushing sunset, and that too,
without chaperon or duenna. And I suppose the young men went down too,
to flirt with the charming damsels, from the fact that the servant of
Abraham tarried there.

And Rebekah, stooping gracefully, filled her pitcher, swung it lightly
to her shoulder--and as the woman sometimes takes the initiative in an
affair of this kind--smiled upon the willing and ready-looking fellow;
not exactly at him, but as it were in his direction, you know; and he
caught the faint glint of sunshine on her lips, and then--but in the
witching hour when the twilight and sunlight kiss and part, after the
smile and look of recognition everyone knows what happens.

And he ran to her and said with the pleasing courtesy of a man of the
world:

"Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher."

Then with the tact of a finished coquette, in three little words she
conveyed to him the flattering knowledge that she recognized in him an
embassador of power, wealth and luxury, by saying:

"Drink, my Lord."

After that they became acquainted in the most easy, off-hand manner,
without an introduction, and yet we are told to follow the example of
these pioneers of the race who were always "fair to look upon."

I never in my life heard priest or people condemning her for forming
the acquaintance of a stranger without an introduction; she was called
one of the "mothers in Israel," and even St. Paul, who was a regular
crank about the girls, classed her with the "holy women of old," which
proves he didn't know anything about her history or was playing upon
the ignorance of his hearers. She was a leader of the _ton_ in Israel,
and if in those days they did not banish her from good society, why
should we censure the same conduct when we are so much more
civilized, enlightened and liberal in our views?

And in an incredibly short space of time he adorned her with earrings
and bracelets, and she invited him home with her, and he actually went
and made it all right with her mother and big brother by making a
prepossessing exhibition of piety, for you remember how he told them
"he bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord."

He told them of Isaac, in whose name he sued for Rebekah's fair hand.
He didn't say that Isaac was handsome, virtuous, talented or
ambitious, but he said, "the Lord hath blessed my master and he is
very great; and he hath given him flocks and herds, and silver and
gold, and maid servants and men servants, and camels and asses," and
unto his son Isaac "hath he given all that he hath," for this astute
man of the world seemed to know that the surest and quickest way to
win a woman was to show her a golden pathway strewn with the gems of
power, luxury and ambition.

And the big brother did not pull out his watch, look at it in a
business-like way and say:

[Illustration: "LET ME, I PRAY THEE, DRINK A LITTLE WATER OF THY
PITCHER."]

"Rebekah, pack your trunk and be ready to take the 6:40 fast express."
And her mother did not smile and say, "we're so delighted and honored,
I'm sure. Of course she will go." Not at all. They knew better even in
those days than to try and coerce or coax a woman to do anything she
didn't want to do, and so they simply said:

"We will call the damsel and inquire at her mouth."

Then the servant brought forth jewels of silver and jewels of gold,
and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah; and he gave also to her brother
and to her mother precious things, and then we are naively told that
Rebekah said:

"I will go."

Rebekah was a woman of decision and knew a good thing when she saw it,
and so she did not wait to prepare a stunning trousseau or get out
wedding cards and invitations fine enough to make all the girls of
Nahor sigh in envy and admiration, but she departed at once. Now Isaac
was of a poetical nature, and sought the solitude of the fields at
eventide to meditate. Like most young men who have a love affair on
hand he wanted to be alone and dream dreams and see visions.

And, as good luck would have it, just at this sentimental and
opportune moment, Rebekah hove in sight.

And Isaac lifted up his eyes and beheld her; a woman with heaven in
her eyes, a mouth sweet enough to make a man forget everything but the
roses of life, and a form seductive enough to tempt the very gods from
on high.

[Illustration: (I will go.)]

And she beheld a man, young and strong and handsome, the touch of
whose hand opened the gates of glory to her soul, "and she became his
wife, and he loved her," thereby putting himself on record as the
first man in the world we have any sacred official notification of as
having loved his wife.

So the days and months, brightened by smiles and tarnished by tears,
dropped into the wreck-strewn, motionless ocean of the past, and in
the course of human events two little boys played marbles in the tent
of Isaac, and Rebekah scored the rather doubtful distinction of going
on record as the first woman who ever doubled expectations and
presented her husband with twins.

[Illustration: (Two little boys played marbles.)]

At this period the fair Rebekah begins to get in her work as a
disobedient wife, a deceitful, intriguing woman and
an-all-round-have-her-own-way variety of her sex.

"Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob," and we conclude from
that, as well as from the actual facts in the case, that there were
domestic tornadoes, conjugal cyclones and general unpleasantness all
round. About this time there was another famine in the land and Isaac
and Rebekah (and others) went into the land of the Philistines to
dwell, and of course Rebekah's beauty attracted universal attention,
and the men of the place questioned Isaac about her and he replied
that she was his sister, as he said, "lest the men of the place should
kill me for Rebekah," because she _was_ fair to look upon.

In that age it appears when a man fell in love with a woman he killed
her husband, instead of hoodwinking and outwitting him as they do in
this progressive era, but I suppose in spite of the awful chance of
losing her husband by some sudden and tragic death, Rebekah slyly and
seductively smiled upon "the men of the place" from the fact that a
little farther on we read that the King issued a mandate, saying:

"He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."

The King knew that Isaac was favored of the Lord, and he was afraid of
some swift and condign punishment if Isaac became offended by the
amorous attentions of any of his subjects to Rebekah, so he gave the
order to the men.

You will readily discern by that command that he was a keen and
intelligent student of female character, and knew there was no use or
reason in appealing to her sense of justice, her obedience to, or
respect for law, or her regard for the "eternal fitness of things" in
a case of the affections, and so he appealed to the fear and obedience
of the men, for he realized that no man's pleading, no King's command,
no threats from heaven or fears of hell can stop a woman's coquetry.

A little farther on Esau went the way of all young men and married,
and worse than that he married Judith the daughter of a Hittite,
"which was a grief of mind unto Rebekah and Isaac."

We know that one of Rebekah's strongest points was putting herself on
record for doing something that no woman ever did before that we have
any authorized statement of, and she did it in this case by being the
first woman who hated her daughter-in-law.

[Illustration: (Esau cheated out of his blessing.)]

As we read on we find she was not the meek, submissive and obedient
wife we are told women should be.

She systematically and continually had her own way, in spite of
husband, sons, kings, men, God or angels.

[Illustration: "AND REBEKAH WAS--A WOMAN."]

We discover that by a succession of deceptions, tricks and chicanery
she cheated Esau out of his blessing, obtained it for Jacob, and
deceived and deluded her dying husband, all at one fell swoop.

It is but just to Jacob to say that he objected to putting himself in
his brother's place, but Rebekah said, "only obey my voice," and he
obeyed--of course.

The men were always obedient, as the Bible proves conclusively. They
obeyed everybody and anybody--kings, mothers, wives, sweethearts and
courtesans.

But where can we find any evidence of the vaunted obedience of woman?

Not among the prominent women of the Bible at least.

Rebekah influenced her husband in all matters, advanced one son's
interests and balked another's aims, prospects and ambitions. In short
she played her cards with such consummate skill that she captured
everything she cared to take.

Jacob was obedient, complimentary, submissive and loving and Rebekah
was--a woman.



A WOMAN'S MONUMENT.



A WOMAN'S MONUMENT.


[Illustration: (And there came two angels to Sodom.)]

"And there came two angels to Sodom, at even."

Now Lot and his wife were residents of Sodom, and they entertained in
the most courteous and hospitable manner the angels who were the
advance guards of the destruction that was about to sweep the cities
of Sodom and Gomorrah into oblivion, leaving only a blazing ash-strewn
tradition to scare the slumbers of the wicked, and stalk a warning
specter down the paths of iniquity through unborn ages.

And the softening twilight fell upon the doomed but unconscious
cities. Unpitying Nature smiled joyously. The cruel sun, possibly
knowing the secret of the angels, gayly flaunted his myriad colors,
and disappeared in a blaze of glory without wasting one regret upon
the wicked cities he would see no more forever.

No angelic hand wrote in blazing letters one word of warning across
the star-gemmed scroll of heaven; but the song rung out on the evening
breezes, laughter rose and fell and the red wine flowed; women danced
lightly on the brink of destruction and men jested on the edge of the
grave.

And yet some rumor of these angels and their errand must have reached
the fated cities, for after Lot had dined and wined them before they
retired, "the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the
house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter."

And Lot went out and tried to pacify them, but his eloquence and his
pleading were in vain, and they said, "Stand back." And they said
again, "This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a
judge."

[Illustration: "AND LOT WENT OUT AND TRIED TO PACIFY THEM."]

And I imagine there was a great tumult and confusion, angry words,
flashing eyes and an ominous surging to and fro, "and they pressed
sore upon the man, even Lot," but still he pleaded the defense of the
angels, and meanly offered to bring out his two young daughters and
give to the howling mob--but the passion that glowed in the eyes and
trembled in the voices of the raging throng was not a passion to be
allayed by the clasp of a woman's hand, the flash of her azure eye, or
the touch of her lips; and besides, that boisterous, angry crowd
evidently did not believe in the efficacy of vicarious atonement and
they flouted the offer. The uproar increased, curses and maledictions
rung out, the demand for the men grew louder and louder, and at this
perilous moment the angels "put forth their hand and pulled Lot into
the house to them, and shut to the door," and "They smote the men that
were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so
that they wearied themselves to find the door."

And in that crushing moment when eternal darkness fell upon the
multitude the cries of anger and revenge died away, and such a moan
of anguish and despair burst upon the affrighted night that the very
stars in heaven trembled.

Then the angels confided to Lot their dread secret and told him to
warn all his relatives to leave the city with him, and he went out and
told his sons-in-law of the impending calamity, and he "seemed as one
that mocked unto his sons-in-law."

The morning came blue-eyed and blushing, and the angels hastened Lot
and his wife, and hurried them out of the city, saying, "Escape for
thy life: look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plains:
escape to the mountains, lest thou be consumed."

Now if there were any more disreputable people in the cities than
Lot's two young daughters, we don't wonder that the vengeance of a
just God sent a blasting storm of bursting flames to lick with their
fiery tongues these wicked cities from the face of the earth. What
does arouse our wonder is that those fair girls with the devil's
instincts smouldering in their hearts should be allowed to escape the
general baking. But excuse us; our business is to state facts and not
to wonder or surmise.

[Illustration: (Lot's wife looked back.)]

From subsequent facts we suppose that Lot's wife sadly, perhaps
rebelliously, lingered, for we find the angels saying again:

"Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou come
thither," and they escaped to the city of Zoar, "and the sun was risen
upon the face of the earth when Lot entered into Zoar."

"Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from
the Lord out of heaven."

But before the end Lot's "wife looked back from behind him and she
became a pillar of salt."

All the information we have of Mrs. Lot is exceedingly meager; only
one short sentence and two little clauses in other sentences; and yet
no figure of history, no creation of a poet's dream or artist's brush
since the world, wrapped in the laces of the twilight and the mists,
and rocked in the cradle of the first early morning of life, until the
present day, old in experience, wrinkled with care, heart-sick with
too much knowledge and laughing without mirth, stands out more
clearly before the world than Lot's wife--and why?

Because it has been supposed that she was very naughty.

In this world it is the wicked folks who get the glory and the
everlasting fame; the good people get the snubs, the crumbs, the
eternal oblivion.

The whole history of Lot's wife lies in the fact that she was told by
the angel of the Lord to do one thing, and she--didn't do it.

But that is characteristic of the women of old; they systematically
didn't do it if they were told to, and systematically did do it if
they were told not to.

And Madam Lot "became a pillar of salt," because of her disobedience,
and has stood through the centuries a warning statue to naughty
females; yes, more than that, for she has seemed a criminal whom just
vengeance caught in the very act and turned into a pillar of salt,
standing in the plain near Sodom, against a background of shame, crime
and punishment, that the eyes of the world of women might look upon
forever, and be afraid.

But in this day and age we are beginning to see that in Lot's wife it
was a case of mistaken identity, and instead of being a criminal she
was a great and good woman, and although the "pillar of salt"
commemorates an act of dire disobedience, it also extols a loving
heart and a brave act.

Just imagine her position. She was leaving her home, around which a
woman's heart clings as the vine clings to the oak, her children, her
friends; breaking the ties that years of association and friendship
had woven about her in chains of gold, and leaving them to a terrible
fate. But stronger than all these gossamer, yet almost unbreakable
threads, was the love she bore her husband; a love so intense, so deep
that it made her obey a command of God's against which every instinct,
passion and emotion of her nature rebelled.

He was going and her daughters were going with him, and womanlike she
forsook everything to follow him--the man she loved; the man whose
frown could make her heart sore as the wounds of death and agony, and
her heaven dark with the clouds of desolation and despair; or whose
gentle smile or caressing touch could sweep the mists of doubt and
uncertainty from her mind, even as June kisses make June roses
blossom, her weary eye glow with the light that love alone can kindle,
and clothe rough labor in robes of splendor.

Softly the dawn awoke, gayly fell the sunlight on the doomed cities,
and joyously the breezes swept the plains round about Sodom and
Gomorrah.

And Lot and his wife and daughters obeyed the command: "Escape for thy
life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plains;
escape to the mountains lest thou be consumed."

And now with frantic haste Lot's wife urges them on; she even leads
the way in her mad desire for their escape, encouraging them by word,
look and action. And while her heart is a battle-ground where a
desperate conflict is raging, there is no hint of disobedience or
rebellion in her eyes, no lagging in her footstep, no tears for love,
no sighs for friendship, no backward glance of compassion toward the
wicked but dear city.

And now they have come a long way--and suddenly the sunshine grows
dark, the wind falls, flutters, dies away; then comes the ominous
hush that foretells the bursting storm.

And this woman knows that her daughters and her husband, the lover of
her youth and the lover of later years, in short the one loved lover
of her life, is safe; safe from the tempest of destruction, safe from
the wrath of God. A wave of joy floods her heart at the thought. No
harm can touch them; she revels in that assurance for a moment--and
then she forgets them.

The white-capped breakers of disobedience against the cruel command
"look not behind thee" sweep with crushing force across her soul; the
unjust command that stifles compassion. All the angels and demons, the
joys and sorrows of life, urge her to turn back; love of children,
friendship of old neighbors, regret for the joys that have fled,
remorse for the wicked deeds she has done, the unkind words she has
spoken, a blind unreasoning rebellion against the fate that has
overtaken her friends and home, fight against God's command. And in
that awful moment when the furious winds strike her like angry hands,
when Fear levels his glittering dagger at her heart, Death holds his
gleaming sword before her eyes, the heavens disappear, hell sits
enthroned in fiery flames upon the clouds; above the deafening roar of
the maddened tempest the crashing thunder that made the very dead
tremble in the corruption of their graves, and the awful surging of
the blazing rain, she heard God's command ringing out "Look not behind
thee."

[Illustration: (Look not behind thee.)]

For an instant she paused to cast an ineffable smile of love upon the
cherished ones at her side, and then before the eyes of unborn
millions, while all the hosts of heaven and even God himself stood
appalled at her daring, she slowly and deliberately turned and looked
back; and that one glance showed her a sight that froze her into a
beautiful statue of disobedience, love and compassion.

She was loving, tender, daring--but disobedient!

Oh, that we might find one woman in the Old Testament meek and humble,
to whom we could pin a faith, not born of teaching and preaching and
general belief, that such a thing as a submissive, obedient, tractable
woman or wife ever did exist.



ANOTHER OF THE WOMEN OF OLD.



ANOTHER OF THE WOMEN OF OLD.


At the command of his mother, let it be remembered, and not because he
had any particular desire to do so himself, Jacob left home and
departed unto the land of his mother's people, where she told him to
seek a wife.

The life of many men of the Old Testament (after they have reached
man's estate, I mean) begins with a love affair, and I infer from
that, that the Bible means to teach the lesson that to love is the
first and best business of life, as well as the most entertaining and
pleasant thing that this world ever did or ever will have to offer.

And Jacob reached the land of Laban, his mother's brother, and stopped
by a well where the flocks were watered. This is the second well which
figures conspicuously in a love story of the Bible, and we imagine
they were the trysting places of the ancient young lovers.

While Jacob was loitering and gossiping with the young men he found
there, "and while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her
father's sheep; for she kept them."

Now "Rachel was beauteous and well favored," and of course Jacob saw
all this at a glance, for a man never yet needed a telescope and a
week's time to decide whether a woman possessed the elements which
constituted beauty in his mind or not, and so Jacob gallantly rolled
the stone away from the well and watered the flock of Laban, and then,
with all the boldness which characterized his future notorious career,
he "kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept."

As there could hardly be anything but pleasure in kissing a lovely
maiden, we naturally infer that Jacob was very emotional and was
crying for effect, and that Rachel, with the consummate tact that all
the women of the Bible displayed when managing the men, perfectly
understood this, and had as little respect for him at the moment as
most women have for a tearful man. A man like Jacob cries easily, and
when he thus "lifted up his voice and wept," it is to be hoped the
girl entirely understood him.

And Jacob's kiss is the first one that love ever pressed upon the lips
of a blushing maid--at least it is the first one that is
authoritatively recorded.

At that time Jacob started a fashion that "custom cannot stale," a
fashion that while time lasts shall be as cheap as roses, laughter and
sunshine, as thrilling as wine, as sweet as innocence and as new as
love, a fashion that wealth, time or country cannot monopolize, and
one that is as sweet to the beggar, and sweeter too, than to the king.

[Illustration: (Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and
wept.)]

At the end of one short month we find him so desperately enamored
that he said to Laban, Rachel's father: "I will serve thee seven years
for thy younger daughter;" and the old gentleman, seeing an
opportunity to get a hired man cheap, consented.

"And Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed unto him but
a few days for the love he had to her."

What a world of devotion that one sentence reveals. As we read that we
forget all about the prosaic age in which we live; forget the modern
I'll-give-you-a-brown-stone-front-and-diamonds-in-exchange-for-your-
youth-and-beauty-love, and believe in the kind that makes a man a god
and a woman an angel, and we imagine that an affection so intense and
deep that it could make seven weary years of labor "seem but a few
days" must be as constant as the flowing tide, as steadfast as the
stars--and then after a while we are desperately, despairingly sorry
that we have read any further than that verse because we are so sadly
disillusioned.

[Illustration: "AND JACOB SERVED SEVEN YEARS FOR RACHEL."]

For a little further on we find that Jacob wasn't as shrewd about
getting married as he was about breeding cattle that were
ring-streaked and grizzled, and so Laban, with the cunning of a
modern politician, palmed off his daughter Leah on Jacob as a bride.
But the next morning, when he discovered the trick, there were
probably matinees, side-shows and circuses in the tent of Laban, and
finally the upshot of the whole affair was that he agreed to serve
seven years more for Rachel, and then married her also. Far be it from
me to disparage Jacob's love, but we cannot help but notice that we
have no inspired statement saying that the seven years he served for
Rachel, after he had married her, "seemed but a few days for the love
he had to her."

But we can't censure him for that, for as we read we discover that in
his earnest and constant endeavor to save his precious person he had
no time to nurture his love. For the two wives, the two sisters, were
madly jealous of each other of course (and we can't blame them either,
for there never was a man so great that he could be divided between
two wives, several handmaids and more concubines, and be enough of him
to go around satisfactorily) and they made his life a howling
wilderness.

Leah, poor thing, longed for her fraudulent husband's love, and he
hated her. Rachel "envied her sister," and "Jacob's anger was kindled
against Rachel," and altogether the picture of their home is not very
enticing, and having gotten thus far we are more than ever convinced
that we do not want to follow the example of the "holy women" of old,
as Peter complimentarily, but ignorantly, calls them.

And Rachel and Leah, in order to spite and humble each other, each
gave her maid "to Jacob to wife" and strange as it may seem, he
accepted them both. It was like him.

Now about this time Leah's son "found mandrakes in the field" and
brought them to his mother. We suppose Rachel had a sweet tooth from
the fact that a little further on we find her offering to sell her
husband for one night to Leah, for some mandrakes, whatever they were;
and we notice that women held their husbands rather cheap in those
good old days.

You see Rachel and Leah made Jacob a thing of barter and sale and
(without consulting his desires) Leah consummated the bargain, and she
went out toward the field when the harvest was progressing, and met
Jacob as he came from his work tired and dusty, and informed him he
must come with her, "For surely I have hired thee with my son's
mandrakes," and he did not resent the insulting idea that he had been
"hired," but like all the other distractingly obedient men of the
Bible--he went.

Rachel next distinguishes herself as a disobedient daughter and
headstrong wife by "stealing her father's gods" without consulting or
confiding in her husband, for we read that "Jacob knew not that Rachel
had stolen them."

And Laban, Rachel's father, and Jacob had a lively altercation, and
they said exceedingly naughty things to each other in loud voices, but
at last they came to an agreement, and Laban said he would give up his
children, grandchildren and cattle, but he was bound to have his
"gods" or know the reason why. The entire story is a curious mixture
of heathenism and belief in one God.

Then Jacob rose in all the confidence of perfect innocence and told
him he might search the whole camp for all he cared, and he added in
his outraged dignity, "with whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him
not live."

You will observe by that that it was a terrible crime to steal "gods,"
and as it is the first offense of the kind on record, you can infer
what a reckless, ungovernable female Rachel must have been to do so
dreadful an act.

[Illustration: (She hoped he would excuse her for not arising.)]

Well, Laban went like a cyclone "unto Jacob's tent" (notice what
humiliation and disgrace Rachel subjected her husband to, and what a
scandal it must have raised in the neighborhood), and into Leah's tent
and into the two maid-servants' tents; but he found them not. Then he
entered into Rachel's tent.

Now she had hidden the precious little images in the camel's furniture
and sat upon them, and she said she didn't feel very well this
morning, papa dear, or words to that effect, and she hoped he would
excuse her for not arising; and she probably smiled sweetly, put her
arm around his neck, and finally did him up completely by kissing him
tenderly; and of course, as in those days men never dreamed of asking
a woman to do anything she didn't want to do, papa dear did not insist
upon her arising, and so missed his sole and only chance of getting
his "gods."

It was a very serious and perhaps terrible loss to her father, and we
can gather no idea from the scripture why she did it unless out of
pure spite, or else she wanted to use them as bric-a-brac in the new
home to which she was going.

In the history of the "beauteous and well-favored" Rachel and the
"tender-eyed" Leah, we find hatred, deadly jealousy, anger, strife,
dissensions and envy, but none of the forbearance, self-sacrifice,
obedience, meekness and submission that we have been taught that the
ladies of the Old Testament possessed, and we are almost sorry that we
didn't take the preacher's "say so" for it, instead of studying the
Bible diligently and intelligently for ourselves.



ALL NAUGHTY, BUT FAIR.



ALL NAUGHTY, BUT FAIR.


The next young lady whom the Old Testament presents for our admiration
and edification is Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, who set the
passionate but agonizing style of "loving not wisely, but too well,"
and brought about one of the shrewdest military stratagems that was
ever perpetrated, a terrible massacre, and the slavery of many
innocent women and children.

Several other ladies are mentioned casually and then we come to Tamar,
whose father-in-law, Judah, had broken his solemn promise and
defrauded her of her rights. And did she submissively consent to be
deprived of her just dues? Not at all. She simply disguised herself,
and by deception and a thorough knowledge of man's nature, mixed up
with a shrewd business tact, completely out-generaled her dear
papa-in-law, gained her revenge, and by a sagacious artifice protected
herself from the possible consequences of her folly and from future
punishment by persuading Judah to give her, as a pledge of his good
faith, "his signet and bracelets and staff." In short, she was the
original pawn-broker of the world; and Judah left his treasures "in
escrow" until he could redeem them by delivering her a kid in
liquidation of his debt.

And for many days the sun blazed and faded, the stars sparkled and
paled, and the moon rode high in silvery radiance; the winds and birds
and flowers blushed and sang and sighed, and in due course of time
Judah sent a kid to redeem his valuables, but alas! Tamar had slipped
away and left no trace by which she could be identified, and Judah,
who had broken his pledge, was left in suspense.

But finally the time of retribution came, as come it does and must to
every possessor of a pawn ticket. The days, those bright beads on the
rosary of time, were counted one by one and shadows began to gather
about the fair name of Tamar. Then the whispers of suspicion grew to
pealing thunders of scandal which reached and shocked the good Judah,
and he rose up in his moral rectitude and righteous indignation at
such depravity and cried: "Bring her forth and let her be burnt."

But my lady, with a woman's wit, had foreseen this possible
denouncement and punishment, and prepared for it, and she quietly sent
the articles he had left in pawn, and humbled him to the very dust
with her message.

"Discern, I pray thee, whose are these, the signet and bracelets and
staff?" And I will add here that there was no fire, because Tamar
skillfully avoided being the fuel.

I do not relate the above to harrow up your feelings, but simply to
show you the stuff the women of the Old Testament were made of.

About this time the matchless Joseph appears upon the stage of the Old
Testament as the monument of masculine virtue, and lo! the woman in
the case enters upon the scene in the shape of Potiphar's wife, and
plays her part in the comedy or tragedy--as you happen to look at
it--in Joseph's life.

She doesn't come before the public with a burst of melody, a blaze of
light and the enticing music of applause, but she enters softly,
quietly she "casts her eyes upon Joseph" and she sees he is "a goodly
person and well favored"--and the mischief is done. She lavished her
wealth in all the follies, fashions and pleasures of her time to
attract him; she met him in the hall, gave him roses in the garden,
smiled at him from the doorway. When she slept she dreamed sweet
dreams of kisses and soft hand-clasps. When she lifted her gaze to the
stars, 'twas his eyes she saw there. When she walked by the river's
side, the rippling waters were no sweeter than his voice. When the
summer wind, perfume-laden, fanned her face she fancied 'twas his warm
breath on her cheek. Then she forgot husband and duty, heaven and
hell, and she listened for his footsteps, lingered for his coming,
watched and waited for his smile--and all in vain.

And Joseph, who loved this woman with an incomparable love; this woman
who from the eminence of her wealth, rank and beauty, in the utter
abandonment of her passion cast herself at his feet, Joseph was man
enough to bend and sway and falter before her temptations, but for
friendship's sake, for honor's sake, for the sake of her he loved,
divine enough to resist them.

Out from among the seductive fables and shocking facts of history
Joseph stands forth a shining example as the first man, and perhaps
the last, who loved a woman so well that he refused her outstretched
arms, declined the kisses from her lips, rejected the reckless
invitation in her eyes, and saved her from himself. Who loved with a
passion so tender and deep that, unlike all other men, he refused to
make her he loved a victim on the altar of his passions, but would
have enshrined her there a goddess, "pure as ice and chaste as snow."

Men have always sacrificed women "who loved not wisely, but too well"
upon the altar of their own selfishness, but Joseph saved her and
taught the world what true love is.

The facts of history stab our faith in man's love, woman's constancy,
friendship, honor and truth, but Joseph's peerless example revives it,
and we feel that there are characters that are incorruptible, honesty
that is unassailable, virtue that is impregnable and friendship that
is undying. He shines out from among the other characters of the Old
Testament as distinctly and clearly as a star breaking through the
sullen clouds of heaven, as a lily blowing and floating above the
green scum and sluggish waters, as a rose blooming in a wilderness.
Thank the Lord for Joseph!

But Potiphar's wife, womanlike, scorned a love that would make her an
angel instead of a victim, and by a succession of plausible, neat
little lies, gained her husband's ear, had Joseph cast into prison,
and teaches us that, indeed, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

But what we wanted to say was, that she was a faithless wife, a
reckless lover, a revengeful and unforgiving woman, since Joseph was
left to languish in captivity for two long years, without any effort
on her part, as far as we can learn or infer, to accomplish his
release.

At this period in the history of the Jews a new king arose in Egypt,
and fearing the great number of the Jews, he "set over them
task-masters, to afflict them with their burdens;" "but the more they
afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew."

Then the king, in the usual arrogance of power, ignorantly supposing
that women were obedient and never dreaming they would dare to
disregard the commands of royalty, spoke to the Hebrew midwives, and
in the easy, off-hand manner that kings had in those days, told them
to kill all the boy babies that came to the Jews, but to save the girl
babies alive.

And did they do it? Not at all! They simply looked at each other,
laughed at the king, and utterly ignored his commands, and then when
majesty in dread power called them to account, with a shrewdness
characteristic of the females of the Old Testament they invented a
plausible excuse, baffled the king, shielded the Jews and saved
themselves.



STORY OF SOME WOMEN AND A BABY.



STORY OF SOME WOMEN AND A BABY.


So the king was balked by the Hebrew midwives and the Jews continued
to "increase abundantly and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty;
and the land was filled with them."

And the king, fearing the multitude of the Jews, again pitted himself
against the fecundity and rebellion of the women, and issued the cruel
but famous command:

"And Pharaoh charged all the people, saying, Every son that is born ye
shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive."

And shortly after that, one night when all the Egyptians slept, and
only the stars, the moon and the winds were awake, in the silence and
the silvery gloom, a baby boy came to a daughter of Levi, and "when
she saw him that he was a goodly child" she quietly determined that no
murderous hand should ever toss him in the rolling river, or check the
breath on his sweet lips; "and she hid him three months."

I don't know how she did it, but perhaps when he was crying with all a
baby's vigor for his supper the embryo diplomat in his heart shrewdly
caught the meaning in his mother's warning "hush, sh!" and, king and
tyrant tho' he was, he knew "that there was a greater than he," and
stilled his cries. Perhaps when the colic gripped his vitals he bore
the pain in unflinching silence, if he heard an Egyptian footstep near
the door. Perhaps he stopped his gooing and cooing in his hidden nest,
and held his very breath in fear, when he heard an Egyptian voice in
the house.

And all these three months he had been growing plump, and strong and
healthy, and I suppose he became a little reckless, or perchance he
began to think he knew more than his mother did about it, and wouldn't
keep still. Anyway, whatever was the matter I don't know, but there
came a day when "she could no longer hide him," and then she laid a
plot to baffle the king, defeat death and save the child.

Being an ambitious woman as well as a loving mother, she was not
content that he should be as other children, forced "to serve with
rigor" and his life made "bitter with hard bondage in mortar and
brick and in all manner of service of the field." I presume she
thought he was a little more beautiful and more clever than any child
that ever lived before, for we all do that when a baby comes without
an invitation and often against our most urgent wishes, and nestling
in our arms says, without uttering a word: "I've come to stay and I
want my supper; I'm hungry, for the journey has been long and
dark--and why don't you make haste?"

Perhaps she had caught the fire of the future statesman in his dark
eye; perhaps she had heard the ring of sublimity in the melodious
voice that afterward said "Honor thy father and thy mother." Perhaps
she had seen the shrewdness of the future great diplomat in his
maneuvers to have his baby way, and being a bright woman she set her
wits to work to defy the king, defeat his law and elude the cruel
vigilance of the Egyptian spies; and she conceived a plot which for
boldness of thought and shrewdness of execution stands unsurpassed.
She would not save him to live the toilsome, slavish life of the Jews.
She sighed for all the advantages of the Egyptians. She lifted her
ambitious eyes to the royal household itself, and in spite of the
accident of birth, in spite of king and law and hatred, in spite of
the fatal fact that he was a dark-eyed, dark-haired Jew, she vowed he
should mingle with royal nabobs, laugh and thrive and prosper under
the very eye of his enemy the king, be clothed in purple and fine
linen, skilled in all the arts and learned in all the sciences of the
Egyptians; and she was clever enough to see at a glance that in this
almost hopeless scheme she must have accomplices.

And where did she turn for aid? To her husband, as a meek, submissive
and obedient woman naturally would? Not at all. Perhaps she doubted
the intelligence of his assistance. Perhaps she had no faith in his
courage for the undertaking. Perhaps she did not believe he could keep
a secret; at any rate she refused to confide in him. I suppose, as no
mention is made of it, she utterly ignored him, scorned to ask his
advice, and planned to dispose of his child without telling him of it,
much less asking his permission.

But where did she turn for aid? Did she clothe herself in the gayest
costume of the Jews, and, conscious of her beauty, try with smiles
and coquetry and caressing touch to beguile the King? No. Did she
steal into the tent of his greatest general and kneeling at his feet
seek to bribe him with her love? No. She simply and utterly ignored
the men, and selected the King's own daughter as the instrument to
execute her design. She knew the royal girl came down to the river to
bathe, and trusting in her baby's great gift of unrivaled beauty and
the woman's compassion, she planned a dramatic surprise for her.

"And when she could not longer hide him, she took him an ark of
bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and pitch and put the child
therein. And she laid it among the flags by the river's brink." But
before she put him in it she bathed him in perfumed water to make him
sweet, put on his prettiest dress, tied up his short sleeves with
something that just matched the color in his cheeks, and borrowed a
golden chain of an Egyptian woman to clasp about his milk-white neck.
Then she lined the ark with roses, laid a little pillow in the bottom,
put the baby softly in, partly closed the top to shield him from too
much light and air, and laid it among the flags by the river's brink;
and then the cleverness that had designed the scheme and the bravery
that had executed it so far, was overwhelmed by a mother's love and
she fled, and hid herself among the foliage and the reeds, too
frightened to watch the result; "but his sister stood afar off to wit
what would be done to him."

And the baby had a nice time while he waited, for the wind with
noiseless feet and invisible hands came and softly rocked the cradle
to and fro; the sunbeams sent a bright ray and put golden bracelets on
his wrists, which with the true instinct of human nature he tried to
catch and hold, and the birds coming down to wash in the rippling
waters peeped into the cradle, and, enraptured with the pretty sight,
forgot to bathe, but stopped to sing.

And the King's daughter and her maidens came laughing and singing down
to the river's brink to bathe, as was their custom--a custom which
baby's mother knew about and took advantage of.

[Illustration: "PUT UP HIS HANDS IN WELCOME AND SAID 'AH, GOO! AH,
GOO!'"]

And the girls spied the basket and wondered what it was, and finally
the royal damsel "sent her maid to fetch it." And Pharaoh's
daughter opened it and "she saw the child," and the girls crowded
around and gazed in silent admiration. Then the baby, who never before
had seen the purple and fine linen of majesty or the sparkling jewels
of wealth, knowing this was the opportunity of his life put up his
hands in welcome and said in the universal language of babyhood, "Ah,
goo! ah, goo!" He was a worthy child of a great mother, and the minute
he was left to himself he came before the footlights and with one word
captivated his audience, and a storm of kisses fell upon his lips and
neck and arms. And when the girls ceased lest they should kiss him to
death, he looked at them a minute, and then he opened his mouth and
laughed a little soft, gurgling laugh; a laugh so sweet that I'm sure
even the terrible God of the Jews must have smiled had he heard it.

He didn't laugh because he felt particularly funny, but because the
little diplomat, bent on conquest, wanted to show a tiny tooth that
came into his mouth one day, he didn't know how.

He had never seen it himself, but he knew it was there and was a
treasure, for one time in the dead of the night when all his dread
enemies, the Egyptians, were fast asleep, and the wind howled and the
rain beat upon the roof, his mother brought his father to his hiding
place and holding the light high up above his head, she touched him
lightly under the chin and said: "Laugh, now, and show papa baby's
tooth." Then he did as he was told and his father looked long and
carefully and then laughed too, kissed him and went away.

When the girls saw it they all smiled and kissed him too.

About this time he wanted his mother and "the babe wept."

When the king's daughter saw his red lips quivering and the tears
hanging on his long, curling lashes, love and compassion filled her
heart, and thinking of her father's wicked command: "Every son that is
born ye shall cast into the river," she said, sadly, "this is one of
the Hebrews' children."

Then his sister--I suppose it was the same one who had "stood afar off
to wit what would be done to him" and who had approached--said, "Shall
I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse
the child for thee?"

"And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, 'Go.' And the maid went and
called the child's mother."

"And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, 'Take this child away and nurse
it for me and I will give thee thy wages.' And the woman took the
child and nursed it." Wasn't that the sublimest conquering of ambition
and crime by love ever known?

[Illustration: (And every kiss strengthened her determination.)]

I suppose the King's daughter went every day to see the little
black-eyed beauty and kiss his rosy lips, his soft white neck, his
dimpled arms; and every kiss strengthened her determination to defy
the King, her father and the law, and save this baby for her own.

I don't know how she managed it, but somehow she overcame all
obstacles, and they were many and great there is no doubt, and "he
became her son," and the future lawgiver of the Jews, and the world
was saved.

And so after all we owe the ten commandments to a Jewish woman's wit,
strategy and love, and an Egyptian woman's compassion and
disobedience, for the stern command that "Every son that is born ye
shall cast into the river" was not given to the army, the navy or the
church, to one man or woman, to doctors or midwives, but to "all the
people," and in this affair there were a number of women, who all
connived to foil the "powers that be" and refused to do the King's
bidding. First there was the mother of Moses and the sister, the
King's daughter, her maid and "her maidens" who came down to the
river's brink with her, at least two of them and perhaps twenty.

I fail to find in their example any of the vaunted submission,
obedience and docility we have been taught by those who did not read
their Bible intelligently, or took some other person's "say-so" for
it, and which are the vaunted characteristics of all these women.

They just simply scorned all the men and the laws whenever they did
not suit their ideas of right and justice, and proceeded to have their
own way in spite of everything.



ANOTHER OF "THE MISTAKES OF MOSES."



ANOTHER OF "THE MISTAKES OF MOSES."


"And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went
out unto his brethren and looked on their burdens, and he spied an
Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren.

"And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was
no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand."

Yet we are told a little farther on "Now the man Moses was very meek,
above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." But we
haven't anything to do with his meekness, and only mention the murder
because thereby hangs the tale of Moses' first love affair.

"Murder will out," and so in due course of time the King heard about
it and "sought to slay Moses." "But Moses fled from the face of
Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well."

Now when we read about the young men of the Bible hanging around a
"well" we know what is going to happen. There is romance in the air
and a love affair soon develops, for that seems to have been love's
trysting place. And I suppose he neglected no artifice of the toilet
that might enchance his personal charms, that he donned the most
costly and elegant of his Egyptian costumes, flung himself in courtly
indolence upon the sand, and waited and watched eagerly for the rich
girls to come down to the well to water their father's flocks, just as
one watches in the twilight for the first star to sparkle in the azure
overhead, for the first sunbeam of the morning or the first rose of
June.

"Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew
water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. And the
shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped
them, and watered their flock."

And who can blame Moses if he happened to wear his best raiment?
Everything and everybody knows, and always has known, that love loves
the beautiful; and each one according to his light takes advantage of
the fact. So the wild maiden, when love with magic finger touches her
quivering heart, stains her teeth a blacker black, hangs more beads
and shells about her dirty neck and ankles, and practices all her rude
arts of coquetry. And her savage lover, charmed with her charms,
sticks the gayest feathers in his hair, rubs a more liberal supply of
grease upon his polished, shiny skin, and makes himself brave with all
his weapons of war. So the birds only seek love's trysting place in
the springtime when their plumage is the most brilliant and their
songs the sweetest, and the fishes when their colors are the
brightest. And the woman of our day and generation, when love's arrow
"tipped with a jewel and shot from a golden string" pierces her vital
organ, wears her dress a little more décolleté, bangs her hair more
bangy, clasps more diamonds round her throat, dispenses with sleeves
altogether, smiles her sweetest smile and laughs her gayest laugh. And
he, the modern man, caught in the snare, buys the shiniest stovepipe
hat and nobbiest cane, dons his gaudiest neck-tie and widest
trousers--and after all, beasts and birds and fishes, savage and
civilized, we are all alike and ruled by the same instinct and
passion, and "why should the spirit of mortal be proud?"

I presume Zipporah, one of the priest's daughters, had heard about the
elegant and courtly Egyptian who was in the neighborhood, and she no
doubt adorned herself with all her jewels, wore the finest finery in
her wardrobe and wreathed her lips in smiles; for she knew that love
lives and thrives on smiles and roses, coquetry and gallantry, on
laughter and sweet glances, and faints and dies on frowns, neglect and
angry words; and so she tripped down to the well, bent on conquest.
Then she flung back the drapery to show her dimpled arms, and drawing
water filled the trough; then the "shepherds came and drove them away;
but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flocks." Was he
not gallant, and a striking contrast to the ugly shepherds?

And of course Moses told her that it almost broke his heart to see her
performing such menial labor, and all such sweet fictitious stuff, and
she glanced at him admiringly from under her long, curling lashes, and
the "rebel rose hue dyed her cheek," and he told her about the great
court where he had been reared, and she whispered that her papa was
the rich priest of Midian; then they clasped hands lingeringly and
said a soft good-night.

It seems the old gentleman kept a pretty close watch on his girls--and
he doubtless had a steady job--for he asked them how it happened that
they had returned so soon. And Zipporah put her arms around his neck,
and placing her cheek against his told him all about the gallant and
courteous stranger. Having an eye to business--as behooves a father
with seven daughters on his hands--he didn't let this eligible young
person slip, but sent and invited him to his house and deluged him
with hospitality and kindness--and Moses and Zipporah were married
"and Moses was content to dwell with the man."

[Illustration: (They clasped hands lingeringly and said a soft good
night.)]

But after a while, first soft and low and then in trumpet tones,
ambition whispered in his ear that he could deliver the Hebrews from
their enemies. "And Moses took his wife and sons and set them upon an
ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt."

And I suppose, though time was young and wore roses then, the days
passed slowly to Zipporah and she grew tired of Moses and the Lord,
tired of the rod that turned into a serpent, of the strife and the
bondage and the river of blood; tired of the frogs and the lice and
the swarms of flies; disgusted with the murrain of beasts and the
boils and terrified at the thunder and fire and rain of hail and all
the horrors of Egypt, and like the woman of to-day, when things get
too awfully unpleasant, she made it uncomfortable for Moses, and "he
sent her back" to her father's house and she took her two sons with
her.

Afterward when Moses became famous and illustrious she returned to him
without asking his consent, or even notifying him of her intention, as
far as we can learn from the official records.

She took her father, the priest Jethro, along to look after her and
take care of her baggage I suppose, and we imagine he didn't relish
the task much, for we hear him saying, rather apologetically we think,
"I, thy father-in-law Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her
two sons with her."

I fancy Moses knew the condition of a man who was in the clutches of a
woman, and that woman his wife, so he forgave the old man, for he had
experience himself, "and went out to meet his father-in-law, and did
obeisance, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their
welfare." But there isn't any record that he kissed his wife, or even
shook hands with her, and we infer that their domestic heaven was not
all blue and cloudless.

Miriam, although a prophetess and a sister of Aaron, was't very
angelic, at least the glimpses we catch of her don't impress us with
the fact that she was. When the seashore was strewn with the dead,
white faces of the drowned Egyptians, and the waves were flecked with
their pallor and dashed their helpless arms about, Miriam "took a
timbrel in her hand: and all the woman went out after her with
timbrels and with dances." And Miriam answered them, "Sing ye to the
Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath
he thrown into the sea."

[Illustration: (Alas, my lord, I beseech thee.)]

Now this may have been natural and all right for the times, only you
know it don't look well when compared with the action of our women of
to-day, who drop tears and roses on the graves of their enemies.

Further on we find Miriam, womanlike, talking about Moses because he
had married an Ethiopian woman, and saying seditiously to Aaron, "Hath
the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?"

And the Lord heard it and his anger "was kindled against them," and my
lady "became leprous, white as snow."

As she was the one punished for daring to talk rebellion against
Moses, God's chosen one, we suppose she was the ringleader and
instigator, and Aaron was only the tool in this plot that budded but
never bloomed.

"And Aaron looked upon Miriam, and behold, she was leprous," and of
course she threw her arms around his neck and with streaming eyes
besought his aid, and Aaron turned the smoothly flowing river of his
eloquence into resistless words of appeal and said unto Moses, while
Miriam knelt at his feet: "Alas, my Lord, I beseech thee, lay not the
sin upon us," and "let her not be as one dead;" and Moses, moved, as
men have always been moved, by woman's tears, "cried unto the Lord,
saying, Heal her now, O, God I beseech thee," and after seven days the
curse was removed.



SOME MANAGING WOMEN.



SOME MANAGING WOMEN.


The women of the Old Testament always wanted something, and it is a
noticeable fact that they always asked for it--and got it too.

So the daughters of Zelophehad had a grievance, and they didn't go
among the neighbors bewailing their hard lot, they didn't sit and wish
from morning till night that something would turn up to help them, or
sigh their lives away in secret, but they put on their most radiant
attire and jauntiest veils and "stood before Moses, and before
Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation,"
and demanded their father's possessions, and even argued the
question reasonably and logically. There was not any of the St.
Paul-women-should-not-speak-in-meeting doctrine about the Biblical
women of those elder days.

They didn't endeavor to persuade Moses' wife to influence her husband
to use his power in their behalf. They did not retain the services of
Aaron, the finest orator of the day, to plead their cause, but they
did their own talking, and they got what they asked for--their
father's possessions--and husbands thrown in without extra charge.
Being clever as well as ambitious women, they probably foresaw that
husbands would follow after the inheritance, and although they would
not ask for lords and masters of course, they had their eyes on them
just the same. As there were several of them, all unmarried, they were
no doubt _not_ "fair to look upon," so they laid a little plot to
secure husbands. And they succeeded and were happy, for marriage was
the aim and end of a woman's existence then, and there was a better
market and more of a demand for husbands than in these modern days.

We only catch a glimpse of one woman named Achsah, but that is enough
to show us that she possessed the prevailing and prominent
characteristic of all the other "holy women."--she wanted something.

After she had married her warrior lover, who conquered Kirpathsepher
for her sweet sake, the very first thing we find is that "she moved
him to ask of her father a field." Now naturally a young man would
dislike to approach his father-in-law upon such a delicate subject,
and so soon too, but _she_ asked him and he obeyed--like all the men
of the Old Testament.

And even then she was not satisfied; but of course she embraced her
father and kissed him, and told him he was the most indulgent father
in the whole wide world.

Now Caleb no doubt had had dozens of love affairs, and experience had
made him a connoisseur of female character, and understanding all
their little scheming ways and little designing tricks, without
beating around the bush at all he came to business at once and asked,

"What would'st thou?"

[Illustration: (What would'st thou?)]

"Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land, give me also
springs of water," she said.

Springs of water were a bonanza in those days--something like a gold
or silver mine to us moderns--but she had requested it and of course
he could not refuse, "and he gave her the upper springs and the nether
springs."

And it came to pass that Joshua sent two men, two spies, saying, "Go
view the land, even Jericho," and I suppose they disguised themselves
and went by secret ways; anyway they eluded the vigilance of their
enemies and entered the city, even Jericho, and let me whisper it in
your ear, they went to see a woman named Rahab--and she wasn't a very
nice woman either--and "lodged there."

But their visit leaked out, as such things always do and always will,
though the stars should pale their fires to shield them, the moon
withdraw behind the clouds to hide their shadows, the rain pour and
the thunder crash to drown their footsteps. Perhaps the children told
the neighbors, perhaps the hired girl whispered to her friend, perhaps
some jealous watching lover told of it, but at any rate we read:

"And it was told to the King of Jericho, saying: Behold there came two
men in hither to-night of the children of Israel, to search out the
country."

"And the King of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying: Bring forth the men
that are come to thee, which are entered into thy house: for they be
come to search all the country."

Now does one suppose for a moment that she obeyed the mandate of the
King? Of course not, if one is a student of the Bible, but if one is
not, I'll just say that she took them up through the skylight and hid
them, piling flax over them, and then she said innocently and
convincingly to the King's officers:

"There came two men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it
came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark,
that the men went out: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall
overtake them."

Then she went up on the roof and talked to the men like a lawyer. I
notice that these old women--I mean women of old--were all good
talkers, and they didn't speak like meek, passive, submissive girls
wrought up to sudden action by wrong, indignation or revenge, but they
spoke with a freedom, vigor and fluency that betokened everyday
practice.

St. Paul says that woman should "Keep silence," and that "they are
commanded to be under obedience," but he evidently had some
remarkable ideas upon this and other topics. Perhaps he never had read
the official records, and we know he was never married, and so we
don't censure him so much for his ignorance of female character,
having never had a wife, or, so far as we know, a love affair, for
what does a man born blind know about the sunshine, or the lightning's
awful flash, or one born deaf know of the pealing, clashing thunder?

The women of his day were no doubt obstreperous and extravagant, and
hence his famous but perfectly ineffectual teaching that they should
not "broider their hair, or wear gold or silver or costly array," and
that they shouldn't talk in meeting, and if they wanted to know
anything, ask their husbands, and drink of their intellectual
superiority. But to return.

So Rahab made the spies swear that when the doom of destruction fell
upon Jericho, she and her father and mother and all her
relations-in-law should be saved, and then she let them down from the
window of her house, which was very conveniently built upon the town
wall, with a scarlet rope.

So you see, by deceit, strategy, disobedience and a succession of neat
little lies, she thwarted the King, betrayed the city, and saved her
own precious self all at one fell swoop.

[Illustration: (She let them down from the window of her house.)]

When the walls of Jericho fell and childhood in its innocence,
ambitious manhood, fiery youth, despairing maidens and loving mothers,
were swept by maddening flames and glittering swords into the oblivion
called death, from whose silent gloom no smile or tear, no laughter or
wail, ever yet has come, then Rahab and all that she had was saved.
She had asked it, and schemed for it, and of course she did not fail.

Next we come to Deborah, a prophetess, who judged Israel at that time,
and from the little that is said of her husband, we infer she was the
head of the house and ruled him besides attending to her professional
duties.

Well, Deborah sent for Barak and commanded him to meet "Sisera, the
captain of Jabin's army," in battle array. But he was afraid, and to
inspire him by her courageous example she went with him to the field
of battle, and every man of Jabin's host "fell upon the edge of the
sword; and there was not a man left." But Sisera "fled away on his
feet" to Jael, the wife of his friend. Sisera, like another defeated
general, had lost his horse.

And she went out to meet him, and gained his entire confidence by
smiles and deception, and took him into her tent and gave him milk to
drink, covered him with a mantle, and said in her sweetest tones,
"Fear not." Then when he slept the sleep of perfect exhaustion, defeat
and despair, she "took a nail of the tent, and a hammer in her hand,"
and softly, with bated breath and step that often paused and ear that
bent to listen, she approached him, and then--quicker than the
lightning's flash or tiger's spring "she smote the nail into his
temples, and fastened it into the ground: and he was fast asleep and
weary. So he died."

Nice way for a woman to treat her husband's friend, wasn't it?

[Illustration: (She smote the nail into his temples.)]

Abimelech killed seventy of his brothers to become King, and after
wars and battles too numerous to mention he came to "Thebez, and
encamped against Thebez, and took it." But there was a strong and
mighty tower in the city and a thousand men and women, stained with
blood, expecting no mercy, but defiant to the last, fled there for a
few hours of safety.

"And Abimelech came unto the tower and fought against it, and went
hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire."

And all the men stood aghast, helpless and despairing, waiting a
terrible death. Then a woman with a vision of blood and moans, dying
men and ravished women before her, with a courage born of desperation
and a wit sharpened with intense fear, boldly stepped to the window
ledge, and in the glare of bursting flames and the sound of dying
groans "cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to
break his skull."

"Then he called hastily unto the young man his armour-bearer, and said
unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman
slew me. And his young man thrust him through, and he died," as a man
naturally would who had been hit on the head with a millstone and
pierced through with a sword; and every one in the tower was saved.

I'm not telling you this to harrow up your feelings, but just to show
you that the holy women of old were not such nonentities as some of
us have supposed.

[Illustration: (Cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head.)]

And time, undelayed by the roses of June or the snows of winter, by
sunshine or starshine, by laughter or sighs, by birth or death,
hurried on and the Jews fought and triumphed, bled and died "and did
evil, and the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines."
And after a while Samson was born, and what do you suppose he did
just as soon as he became a man? Why he went down to Timnath and fell
deeply, desperately, madly, in love with a Philistine girl, and he
went straight home and told his father and mother about it and they
did not approve of it--they never do, it seems--but he was determined
to have her, for there was not another female for him in the whole
wide world--they all think that for the time being--and of course he
married her. Then he made a seven-day feast, and unfortunately he
amused the company with a riddle. Of course his wife was dying to know
the answer, and her people threatened her if she did not find it out,
and altogether it was a lively discussion, and she made his life a
burden and a delusion and she wept before him and said:

"Thou dost but hate me and lovest me not; thou hast put forth a riddle
unto the children of my people and hast not told it to me." And Samson
declared he hadn't told it to his father or mother or any living soul
and swore he would not tell _her_--but he did. For "she wept before
him the seven days while the feast lasted," and on the seventh day,
exhausted by her upbraidings, deluged by her tears and wearied by her
everlasting persistence, he whispered it in her ear, and she told the
children of her people.

It is safe to conclude that Samson was angry, and the wedding feast
broke up in confusion and dismay, and he went and killed thirty
people, and the woman who had "pleased him well" he repudiated with
such dispatch that it suggests Idaho and the modern man, and "Samson's
wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as a friend." The
views we get of married life and the domestic relations in the Old
Testament make us almost think that marriage was a failure--in those
days.

[Illustration: (And she betrayed him.)]

Then Samson, after a little affair which I do not care to dwell upon
with a woman of Gaza, who was no better than she should have been,
fell blindly in love with Delilah. And, being in love, he profited not
by his late experience (what man or woman ever does who is in love?)
and again he told the dearest secret of his heart to a woman, because,
forsooth, "she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so
that his soul was vexed unto death." And then with her fine arms
around his neck and her kisses on his lips, he fell asleep on her
knees--and she betrayed him.



ANOTHER GROUP OF THEM.



ANOTHER GROUP OF THEM.


The great array of the Philistines "came and pitched in Shunem, and
Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa," and
unseen by any of the mighty hosts death and rapine, treachery, revenge
and murder, smilingly waited for the desperate battle.

Then Saul, gazing upon the great army of his enemies and terrified at
the countless thousands, thought he would like to have his fortune
told and said, "Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit," and they
took him to the witch of Endor, and Saul prayed her to materialize
Samuel for his especial benefit. And did she do it? Not at all, or at
least not until she had made her own conditions. "And Saul sware to
her by the Lord, saying: as the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment
happen to you for this thing." And then having brought the King to
terms, by cunning hocus-pocus she summoned Samuel from the cold, cold
grave. First there was a hush, then a sweeping in of chill, damp air,
a scent of decay, the shaking out of a shroud that never rustled, a
rush of silent footsteps, and suddenly the door untouched swung
noiselessly open and Samuel, with the old regal air, but with the
savor of death clothing him like a mantle, and the mildew of death on
his brow, stood before them.

You will observe he was far too courteous a ghost to censure a
woman--who really was the one who deserved it, since she had wrought
the mischief--but said sternly to Saul:

"Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?"

The inference is that after all his triumphs and defeats, his loves
and illusions, his glory and fall, he was taking the sweet and silent
rest of utter oblivion, and very naturally he did not like to be
disturbed, and so he told Saul some things that very nearly scared the
lingering hope out of him, and almost reduced him to a condition where
he himself was a fit candidate for a companionship with Samuel. Then
suddenly the air grew warmer and fresher, the birds began to twitter
in the first faint flush of the morning, and looking around one could
not see Samuel any more.

Then the witch of Endor wanted Saul to take some refreshment, "But he
refused and said, I will not eat."

But the woman did not pay any attention to his refusal, but killed a
calf and cooked it, and made some biscuits "and she brought it before
Saul, and before his servants, and they did eat" of course, since she
smilingly invited them to.

We suppose Saul's wife--at least one of them--was a lady who carried
things with a high hand, ruled the servants, nagged her husband,
delivered curtain lectures by the hour, scolded him to sleep and then
scolded him awake again.

    "And whipped the children, and fed the fowls,
    And made his home resound with howls;"

since we hear him saying to his son Jonathan, "Thou son of the
perverse, rebellious woman."

And behold Saul and David were the firmest friends, and every act of
David's pleased Saul, and every smile delighted him, and Saul honored,
trusted and advanced him, until the women came to have a hand in the
affair and then all was changed.

It seems that no one had noticed, or dared to give voice to the
thought, that David was becoming a dangerous rival of the great King,
until the women, with keen penetration, looking upon the handsome
David, saw there was a greater one than Saul. And so one day when
David returned from a great slaughter of the Philistines, the girls
came and danced and sung and waved their white hands and smiled, and
despite the probable indignation of the King at the open preference
and approval of the young man, they played and said, "Saul hath slain
his thousands, and David his ten thousands."

And Saul was jealous and "very wroth" and--well, that ended that
friendship, and it wasn't the last time that women's smiles and
honeyed words of praise have blighted the friendship between men
"whose souls were knit together."

And there was a woman whose name was Bath-sheba, and she was very
beautiful. Her midnight hair curled softly away from her snowy brow,
her long black lashes hiding her love-lit eyes swept her rosy cheeks,
and her light step dashed the dew from the grass in the garden, while
the blossoms fell from the boughs to kiss her shoulders as she passed.

And one eventide, David, walking upon the roof of his palace, saw her
bathing. And the last red rays of the sinking sun touched her softly
and changed her into a perfect statue of warm pink marble, and David's
soul was ravished by her beauty; and with the impetuosity of a king
and the reckless passion of a lover he sought to beguile her. And
Bath-sheba, flattered by the preference of the mighty King, allured by
imperial grandeur and enticed by royal appeals, tried to forget the
husband, who was off to the wars and away, and who had in the first
flush of youth won her by his love, his "brow of truth" and a soul
untouched by sin--but the King--the King, the pomp and the power!

Ambition was roused in her heart and she wanted to be clothed in the
purple and fine linen of majesty, and to wear a jeweled crown upon her
brow. And so she forgot a husband's love, a wife's honor, a woman's
virtue, and while angels wept and devils laughed, the memory of Uriah
vanished from her mind as a star vanishes before the fire-bursting
storm-cloud.

Then black-browed conspiracy and red-handed murder, the boon
companions of unholy love, whispered in their ears; and though a
vision of Uriah often rose unbidden and unwelcome before her, it was
dimmed and obscured by the glitter of jewels and the gleam of costly
array, that should yet flash upon her arms and throat and clothe her
limbs.

So David sent for Uriah (we presume with the consent, perhaps at the
instigation of Bath-sheba, for there is no wickedness like the
wickedness of an ambitious, faithless wife), honored and feasted him,
and the favored young man, happily unconscious of his wife's
treachery, perhaps dreaming bright waking dreams of the wealth, fame
and power he would win to lay at Bath-sheba's feet, felt himself
honored by being made a special envoy to carry a letter from the King
to his greatest general, Joab--and in it the King wrote:

"Set ye Uriah in the fore-front of the hottest battle, and retire ye
from him, that he may be smitten and die;" and Joab "assigned Uriah
unto a place where he knew the valiant men were," and he was smitten
and died.

And David and Bath-sheba were married, but surely, as they stood by
the cradle of the little boy who died, the cold hands of the valiant,
betrayed Uriah must often have pushed them asunder, and a dark shadow
born of their guilty hearts must have passed between them and the
child. Perhaps when the feast was the gayest a battle field rose
before them, and when the music was the loudest and the sweetest,
thrilling through it, they heard a dying moan.

When Joab wanted to reconcile David to Absalom, he wished a mediator
with wit, tact and delicacy; with the eloquence of an orator and the
subtle flattery of a Decius Brutus, and whom did he choose? A man? No:
He sent for "a wise woman," and we read that he instructed her what to
do, but judging from other women we are sure she instructed
him--anyway she went to the King, and she talked like a lawyer, she
plead with eloquence, she confessed charmingly, and she flattered with
the cunning of her sex, saying, "for as an angel of God, so is my Lord
the King to discern good and bad," and "my Lord is wise, according to
the wisdom of an angel of God," which you will admit was putting it
pretty strong. But then, men who didn't work for their living in those
days were used to strong language--of praise. Perhaps it is
superfluous for me to add that the "wise woman" accomplished her
mission.

We are told in poetic language that David "was ruddy, and withal of a
beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to," and perhaps that was
the chief reason (although women always adored a man of valor,
intelligence and strength) that "Michal, Saul's daughter, loved
David," and thus gave him the proud distinction of being the first man
who was ever loved by a woman--at least the first one we have any
authentic, official record of.

Once upon a time David had prepared to wipe Nabal, who was a very rich
man, and his followers, from the very face of the earth, because a
young man "told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, Behold, David sent
messengers out of the wilderness, to salute our master, and he railed
on them."

Nabal was a churlish miser and little to be trusted, and it seems
Abigail, who "was a woman of good understanding and of a beautiful
countenance," had heard nothing of this little affair, but she was
equal to the emergency and she at once prepared many presents of wine,
and figs, and raisins and other good things, and made haste to go out
and meet David, and if possible avert the impending calamity. "And
she said unto her servants, Go on before me; behold I come after you.
But she told not her husband," which shows conclusively that although
he was "churlish and evil in his doings" she was not under his
dominion to any great extent, or afraid of his anger, for she took
things in her own hands and ran the government to suit herself, for
the time being at least.

So she met David, made a telling speech, pleaded eloquently, flattered
skillfully, and David, who never could withstand the beauty and
oratory of another man's wife, granted her every request, as he
himself confessed and said (I notice David always got particularly
pious when he was going to do or had done anything particularly mean)
to Abigail:

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel which sent thee this day to meet
me: and blessed be thy advice."

I don't know what kind of a bargain they had made, but it sounds a
little queer to hear him saying to her, "go up in peace to thine
house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice and have accepted thy
person."

Abigail returned home and found her husband had been having a gay time
while she was away, and "his heart was merry within him, for he was
very drunken," so she waited till the morning "when the wine had gone
out of Nabal," as it is quaintly put, and then she "told him these
things," but as there was nothing but good news in "these things" she
must have told him something else that is not recorded, for "his heart
died within him, and he became as stone."

Now, I wouldn't cast a suspicion on Abigail for any consideration, but
it does seem a little strange that ten days after her memorable
meeting with the handsome and musical David, "the Lord smote Nabal
that he died."

"And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to
wife."

I simply mention this little romance to prove that there was no
evidence of obedience in Abigail's conjugal relations.



THE FAMOUS WIDOW OF MOAB.



THE FAMOUS WIDOW OF MOAB.


And Naomi, weary of the land of Moab, in the shadows of whose
mountains, guarded by the angel of eternal sleep, lay the graves of
her husband and sons, longed in her loneliness for the friends and
associations of her youth. Her heart turned back to the old house at
home, where there is always more sunshine and starshine, softer
breezes and sweeter bird-songs, more silvery streams and fragrant
flowers, than in any other clime, and she was about to take her
departure for the "land of Judah."

Now it seems that Naomi was a very loveable elderly lady, since her
daughter-in-law seemed to like her very much, though I haven't the
slightest idea that Ruth was really so madly in love with her as we
have been taught to believe.

It appears that back in the "land of Judah," Naomi had a kinsman of
her husband's, "a mighty man of wealth of the family of Elimelech; and
his name was Boaz."

You know it is true that when we go to live in a strange country, we
tell our new acquaintances, incidentally and casually, perhaps, but we
tell them just the same, about our wealthy and famous relatives, while
the names of those who were hanged because they may have loved horse
flesh "not wisely but too well," were arrested for gambling, eloped
with some other woman's husband, or made garden on shares for the
neighbors, are kept locked in our hearts as too sacred to mention to
curious ears. Of course Naomi was no exception, and so Ruth had often
listened, spellbound, to Naomi's description of this "mighty man of
wealth;" of his fields undulating in golden waves, far and near; of
the springs that gushed and sparkled and flowed down the hillsides; of
the shining streams idly wandering in his verdant valleys, whose blue
waves rose to caress the flowers on the bank that dipped to be kissed;
of his costly array, his men servants and maid servants and all the
show and grandeur that was his.

So Ruth went down to the river one day and gazed at her own reflection
in the liquid depths, took an honest inventory of her charms, and the
pride and confidence of the embryo conqueror thrilled her veins, the
rose hue of triumph dyed her dark cheek, and knowing that Boaz was,
according to the law of the Jews, her future husband--if she could
please him--she went back and said to Naomi with the inherent
eloquence of a brilliant widow bent on conquest:

"Entreat me not to leave thee, or return from following after thee;
for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will
lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

"Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do
so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."

And Naomi, the dear old lady, was very much flattered and had perfect
confidence in her daughter-in-law's professions, and so do we also
believe her words--that is, moderately.

When she says, "thy people shall be _my_ people," we believe she meant
it--as far as Boaz was concerned at least; but when she adds "thy God
shall be my God"--well, we have known many people who were quite pious
when they were about to do something they wished to cover up, and
their prayers were a little more fervent at that time, just to throw
people off the track, so to speak. And Ruth had decided to capture
Boaz's heart with her midnight eyes, wear his gems upon her breast,
and plunge both hands deep down in his golden shekels. But of course
she didn't intend to confide this dead secret to a garrulous old lady,
and have it reach the ears of the mighty man of wealth perhaps, for
the cunning, witty, pretty widow knew that a man never likes to be
caught.

So one day she (with Naomi) arrived at Bethlehem with a half a dozen
things in her favor, any one of which would have made her noted, at
least.

She had youth (she was not more than twenty-eight perhaps) the divine
gift of beauty, the luck of being a stranger, the advantage of being a
widow, the prestige of a convert, and the novel notoriety of being the
first woman in the world who ever was in love with her mother-in-law.

Is it any wonder "that all the city was moved about them?"

Well, no doubt Ruth found out all she wanted to know about Boaz,
learned his habits and characteristics, made all the inquiries she
wished in a way that "was childlike and bland," and at last having
her arsenal well armored with the big guns of wit and beauty and
garrisoned by facts and observations and the experience of an ex-wife,
she was ready for Love's war, where the bullets are soft glances, the
sword thrusts kisses and the dungeon of the captive is the bridal
chamber, and she went to her mamma-in-law and said sweetly, "let me go
now to the field and glean ears of corn after him (you see she
admitted she was after him) in whose sight I shall find grace."

"And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers;
and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz."
Wonderful, wasn't it, that it was her "hap" to light on a part of the
field belonging to Boaz?

And lo, in the morning ere the sun was half way up the blue sky, Boaz
came into the barley field and his eyes fell upon the beauteous Ruth
gleaning with the reapers, and delighted at the sight, he called the
general manager and said:

"Whose damsel is this?" And he answered and said: "It is the Moabitish
maiden that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab."

[Illustration: (Turned her pretty head aside and blushed.)]

It seems Boaz had never seen her before, although her fame had reached
his ears, and he spoke to her softly and kindly, praised her for her
devotion to her mother-in-law (you see that captured his fancy and
admiration, as it has every one's since), and then she smiled and
thanked him very ardently, and then the wily widow turned her pretty
head aside and blushed. And Boaz, who had never heard the advice to
"beware of the vidders," was taken in and done for in that one short
interview. He hung around the fields, deserted the city, cared naught
for its pleasures, forgot the dames of high degree, and lingered for
hours among the reapers to catch a glance from her dark eye, or a
smile from her ruby lips, and I suppose they sometimes rested in the
shade and talked sweet nonsense, or sat in the intoxicating silence
when love speaks unutterable things to the heart alone, and the "old
sweet story was told again" in the harvest field near Bethlehem.

"Boaz commanded his young men saying, Let her glean even among the
sheaves, and reproach her not: And let fall also some of the handfuls
of purpose for her, and leave them, and rebuke her not."

Having alighted upon an easy task, Ruth knew it. "So she kept fast by
the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of
wheat harvest: and dwelt with her mother-in-law."

And yet it seems the gentleman did not propose. So Naomi and Ruth
talked it over together, for by this time his infatuation was the talk
of the city, and sentimental, romantic old Naomi, who must have been a
charming woman in her day, was interested in this love affair. For no
matter how old a woman or man may be, the perennial stream of love and
sentiment flows on in the heart, although hid 'neath white hairs and
wrinkles, and bound by the wintry shackles of age and custom; still it
is there, and often breaks the icy barriers of the years and betrays
itself by a late marriage, or in the matchmaking proclivities of all
elderly women.

And Naomi gave Ruth some instructions which we blush to think of, but
she followed them implicitly. And the middle-aged Boaz was caught. We
suppose he was forty-five or fifty from the fact that he called Ruth
"my daughter," and commended her because she didn't run after the
gilded youths of society, but preferred him above them all. And Boaz
and Ruth were married, and like most marriages between widows and old
bachelors it proved a happy one.

But Ruth's shrewd scheming and successful venture as related in the
inspired records confirms our belief that it was Boaz the "mighty man
of wealth," and not Naomi's love or Naomi's God that induced Ruth to
emigrate to the city of Bethlehem.

[Illustration: (And Boaz and Ruth were married.)]

We are told that Jezebel, unknown to her husband, "wrote letters in
her husband's name and sealed them with his seals," and had a man
stoned to death without his knowledge, not the man's, but her
husband's.

That doesn't look as if she were ruled over much, does it?

The sacred history says, speaking of Hagar and Ishmael, "and his
mother took him a wife out of Egypt" which means that she selected the
girl and told him to marry her--and he obeyed. And we find that
Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba "whatsoever she asked," which is an
example of generosity we would recommend to the men of to-day.



HE GAVE IT UP TOO.



HE GAVE IT UP TOO.


I had reached this point in my study of the Bible, when one evening,
just as I had seated myself to begin work and was idly sharpening my
pencil, the door bell rang.

I had not seen my lover for weeks; not since he had so sarcastically
advised me to peruse the Scriptures. I had waited for his coming, but
in vain; the mail brought no letter; he sent no word by friend or foe.
And I made no sign. His had been the fault and his should be the
reparation, and so a profound silence fell like a pall between us.

But love, the god of gods, strung the invisible wires of mental
telegraphy between our hearts, and over the mystic, unseen lines our
thoughts, bright as hope, dark as sin, lighter than the thistle down,
heavily charged with the electricity of doubt and trust, faith and
fear, love and longing, flew noiselessly back and forth through the
stillness and drew us unconsciously together; and so it happened that
he stood upon the doorstep and pulled the bell.

There was always a triumphant peal to his ring that seemed to say to
my heart, "Lo, the conquering hero comes." And now that vital organ
bounded gladly in my breast, then stood still; my pulses throbbed with
delight and triumph. Ten minutes before I would have thrown the world
away, if it had been mine, for one smile from his lips, but now--I
seized my pencil and wrote rapidly on the tablet on my knee as he
entered the hall, came into the room, and stood beside me, then with a
little start I looked up and exclaimed in feigned surprise:

"You here?"

"I think I am," he said, "but if you want me to, I'll look in the
mirror to make sure." And then we both laughed, for 'tis so easy to
laugh when one is happy and all the world is gay.

"Well," said he, sitting down beside me, clasping my hand in his as
lovers sometimes do, and taking up the conversation where it had been
dropped weeks and weeks before, "they say you can buy a good cooking
stove for forty dollars--and I've had my salary raised ten dollars a
month."

Then I smiled and he said abruptly:

"When are you going to marry me?"

"I haven't completed my study of the Bible yet, and I don't think I
could be submissive, and----"

"Oh, fiddlesticks!" he exclaimed, impolitely interrupting me, "I don't
want you to be submissive; I just want you to love me and--and--boss
me," he added, in the very depth of repentance.

"But you demanded obedience," I insisted.

"I was foolish then," he said softly, "but absence from you and
silence has taught me wisdom. When I left you and you made no sign,
sent no word of recall, left the dread quiet unbroken, I told myself
that you cared nothing for me, and I tried desperately to fall in love
with some other girl, but they were all 'flat, stale and unprofitable'
compared to you. There was no light in their eyes, no roses on their
cheeks, no pleasure in their presence, no rapture in their
touch--and--Oh, hang it! you know I can't talk, but I love you, and as
long as cooking stoves and marriage licenses are so cheap and
ministers are so plenty what's the matter with having a wedding
to-morrow?"

And I said--but never mind what I said.

[Illustration: (And I said--)]



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Vignette titles from the List of Illustrations are shown in parentheses.
Captioned illustrations are shown in ALL CAPITALS.





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