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Title: The Brook Kerith - A Syrian story
Author: Moore, George (George Augustus), 1852-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brook Kerith - A Syrian story" ***

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THE BROOK KERITH

A SYRIAN STORY

BY GEORGE MOORE

1916



A DEDICATION


My dear Mary Hunter. It appears that you wished to give me a book for
Christmas, but were in doubt what book to give me as I seemed to have
little taste for reading, so in your embarrassment you gave me a Bible.
It lies on my table now with the date 1898 on the fly-leaf--my constant
companion and chief literary interest for the last eighteen years.
Itself a literature, it has led me into many various literatures and
into the society of scholars.

I owe so much to your Bible that I cannot let pass the publication of
"The Brook Kerith" without thanking you for it again. Yours always,
George Moore.



THE BROOK KERITH


CHAP. I.


It was at the end of a summer evening, long after his usual bedtime,
that Joseph, sitting on his grandmother's knee, heard her tell that Kish
having lost his asses sent Saul, his son, to seek them in the land of
the Benjamites and the land of Shalisha, whither they might have
strayed. But they were not in these lands, Son, she continued, nor in
Zulp, whither Saul went afterwards, and being then tired out with
looking for them he said to the servant: we shall do well to forget the
asses, lest my father should ask what has become of us. But the servant,
being of a mind that Kish would not care to see them without the asses,
said to young Saul: let us go up into yon city, for a great seer lives
there and he will be able to put us in the right way to come upon the
asses. But we have little in our wallet to recompense him, Saul
answered, only half a loaf and a little wine at the end of the bottle.
We have more than that, the servant replied, and opening his hand he
showed a quarter of a shekel of silver to Saul, who said: he will take
that in payment. Whereupon they walked into Arimathea, casting their
eyes about for somebody to direct them to the seer's house. And seeing
some maidens at the well, come to draw water, they asked them if the
seer had been in the city that day, and were answered that he had been
seen and would offer sacrifice that morning, as had been announced. He
must be on his way now to the high rock, one of the maidens cried after
them, and they pressed through the people till none was in front of them
but an old man walking alone, likewise in the direction of the rock;
and overtaking him they asked if he could point out the seer's house to
them, to which he answered sharply: I am the seer, and fell at once to
gazing on Saul as if he saw in him the one that had been revealed to
him. For you see, Son, seers have foresight, and the seer had been
warned overnight that the Lord would send a young man to him, so the
moment he saw Saul he knew him to be the one the Lord had promised, and
he said: thou art he whom the Lord has promised to send me for
anointment, but more than that I cannot tell thee, being on my way to
offer sacrifice, but afterwards we will eat together, and all that has
been revealed to me I will tell. You understand me, Son, the old woman
crooned, the Lord had been with Samuel beforetimes and had promised to
send the King of Israel to him for anointment, and the moment he laid
eyes on Saul he knew him to be the king; and that was why he asked him
to eat with him after sacrifice. Yes, Granny, I understand: but did the
Lord set the asses astray that Saul might follow them and come to Samuel
to be made a King? I daresay there was something like that at the bottom
of it, the old woman answered, and continued her story till her knees
ached under the boy's weight.

The child's asleep, she said, and on the instant he awoke crying: no,
Granny, I wasn't asleep. I heard all you said and would like to be a
prophet. A prophet, Joseph, and to anoint a king? But there are no more
prophets or kings in Israel. And now, Joseph, my little prophet, 'tis
bedtime and past it. Come. I didn't say I wanted to anoint kings, he
answered, and refused to go to bed, though manifestly he could hardly
keep awake. I'll wait up for Father.

Now what can the child want his father for at this hour? she muttered as
she went about the room, not guessing that he was angry and resentful,
that her words had wounded him deeply and that he was asking himself, in
his corner, if she thought him too stupid to be a prophet.

I'll tell thee no more stories, she said to him, but he answered that he
did not want to hear her stories, and betwixt feelings of anger and
shame his head drooped, and he slept in his chair till the door opened
and his father's footsteps crossed the threshold.

Now, he said to himself, Granny will tell Father that I said I'd like to
be a prophet. And feigning sleep he listened, determined to hear the
worst that could be said of him. But they did not speak about him but of
the barrels of salt fish that were to go to Beth-Shemish on the morrow;
which was their usual talk. So he slipped from his chair and bade his
father good-night. A resentful good-night it was; and his good-night to
his grandmother was still more resentful. But she found an excuse for
his rudeness, saying that his head was full of sleep--a remark that
annoyed him considerably and sent him upstairs wishing that women would
not talk about things they do not understand. I'll ask Father in the
morning why Granny laughed at me for saying I'd like to be a prophet.
But as morning seemed still a long way ahead he tried to find a reason,
but could find no better one than that prophets were usually old men.
But I shall be old in time to come and have a beard. Father has a beard
and they can't tell that I won't have a beard, and a white one too, so
why should they--

His senses were numbing, and he must have fallen asleep soon after, for
when he awoke it seemed to him that he had been asleep a long time,
several hours at least, so many things had happened or seemed to have
happened; but as he recovered his mind all the dream happenings melted
away, and he could remember only his mother. She had been dead four
years, but in his dream she looked as she had always looked, and had
scolded Granny for laughing at him. He tried to remember what else she
had said but her words faded out of his mind and he fell asleep again.
In this second sleep an old man rose up by his bedside and told him that
he was the prophet Samuel, who though he had been dead a thousand years
had heard him say he would like to be a prophet. But shall I be a
prophet? Joseph asked, and as Samuel did not answer he cried out as
loudly as he could: shall I? shall I?

What ails thee, Son? he heard his grandmother calling to him, and he
answered: an old man, an old man. Ye are dreaming, she mumbled between
sleeping and waking. Go to sleep like a good boy, and don't dream any
more. I will, Granny, and don't be getting up; the bed-clothes don't
want settling. I am well tucked in, he pleaded; and fell asleep praying
that Granny had not heard him ask Samuel if he would be a prophet.

A memory of his dream of Samuel came upon him while she dressed him, and
he hoped she had forgotten all about it; but his father mentioned at
breakfast that he had been awakened by cries. It was Joseph crying out
in his dream, Dan, disturbed thee last night: such cries, "Shall I?
Shall I?" And when I asked "What ails thee?" the only answer I got was
"An old man."

Dan, Joseph's father, wondered why Joseph should seem so disheartened
and why he should murmur so perfunctorily that he could not remember his
dream. But if he had forgotten it, why trouble him further? If we are to
forget anything it were well that we should choose our dreams; at which
piece of incredulity his mother shook her head, being firm in the belief
that there was much sense in dreams and that they could be interpreted
to the advantage of everybody.

Dan said: if that be so, let him tell thee his dream. But Joseph hung
his head and pushed his plate away; and seeing him so morose they left
him to his sulks and fell to talking of dreams that had come true.
Joseph had never heard them speak of anything so interesting before, and
though he suspected that they were making fun of him he could not do
else than listen, till becoming convinced suddenly that they were
talking in good earnest without intention of fooling him he began to
regret that he had said he had forgotten his dream, and rapped out: he
was the prophet Samuel. Now what are you saying, Joseph? his father
asked. Joseph would not say any more, but it pleased him to observe that
neither his father nor his granny laughed at his admission, and seeing
how interested they were in his dream he said: if you want to know all,
Samuel said he had heard me say that I'd like to be a prophet. That was
why he came back from the dead. But, Father, is it true that we are his
descendants? He said that I was.

A most extraordinary dream, his father answered, for it has always been
held in the family that we are descended from him. Do you really mean,
Joseph, that the old man you saw in your dream told you he was Samuel
and that you were his descendant? How should I have known if he hadn't
told me? Joseph looked from one to the other and wondered why they had
kept the secret of his ancestor from him. You laughed at me yesterday,
Granny, when I said I'd like to be a prophet. Now what do you say?
Answer me that. And he continued to look from one to the other for an
answer. But neither had the wit to find an answer, so amazed were they
at the news that the prophet Samuel had visited Joseph in a dream; and
satisfied at the impression he had made and a little frightened by their
silence Joseph stole out of the room, leaving his parents to place
whatever interpretation they pleased on his dream. Nor did he care
whether they believed he had spoken the truth. He was more concerned
with himself than with them, and conscious that something of great
importance had happened to him he ascended the stairs, pausing at every
step uncertain if he should return to ask for the whole of the story of
Saul's anointment. It seemed to him to lack courtesy to return to the
room in which he had seen the prophet, till he knew these things. But he
could not return to ask questions: later he would learn what had
happened to Samuel and Saul, and he entered the room, henceforth to him
a sacred room, and stood looking through it, having all the
circumstances of his dream well in mind: he was lying on his left side
when Samuel had risen up before him, and it was there, upon that spot,
in that space he had seen Samuel. His ancestor had seemed to fade away
from the waist downwards, but his face was extraordinarily clear in the
darkness, and Joseph tried to recall it. But he could only remember it
as a face that a spirit might wear, for it was not made up of flesh but
of some glowing matter or stuff, such as glow-worms are made of; nor
could he call it ugly or beautiful, for it was not of this world. He had
drawn the bed-clothes over his head, but--impelled he knew not why, for
he was nearly dead with fright--he had poked his head out to see if the
face was still there. The lips did not move, but he had heard a voice.
The tones were not like any heard before, but he had listened to them
all the same, and if he had not lost his wits again in an excess of fear
he would have put questions to Samuel: he would have put questions if
his tongue had not been tied back somewhere in the roof of his mouth.
But the next time he would not be frightened and pull the bed-clothes
over his head.

And convinced of his own courage he lay night after night thinking of
all the great things he would ask the old man and of the benefit he
would derive from his teaching. But Samuel did not appear again, perhaps
because the nights were so dark. Joseph was told the moon would become
full again, but sleep closed his eyes when he should have been waking,
and in the morning he was full of fear that perhaps Samuel had come and
gone away disappointed at not finding him awake. But that could not be,
for if the prophet had come he would have awakened him as he had done
before. His ancestor had not come again: a reasonable thing to suppose,
for when the dead return to the earth they do so with much pain and
difficulty; and if the living, whom they come to instruct, cannot keep
their eyes open, the poor dead wander back and do not try to come
between their descendants and their fate again.

But I will keep awake, he said, and resorted to all sorts of devices,
keeping up a repetition of a little phrase: he will come to-night when
the moon is full; and lying with one leg hanging out of bed; and these
proving unavailing he strewed his bed with crumbs. But no ancestor
appeared, and little by little he relinquished hope of ever being able
to summon Samuel to his bedside, and accepted as an explanation of his
persistent absence that Samuel had performed his duty by coming once to
visit him and would not come again unless some new necessity should
arise. It was then that the conviction began to mount into his brain
that he must learn all that his grandmother could tell him about Saul
and David, and learning from her that they had been a great trouble to
Samuel he resolved never to allow a thought into his mind that the
prophet would deem unworthy. To become worthy of his ancestor was now
his aim, and when he heard that Samuel was the author of two sacred
books it seemed to him that his education had been neglected: for he had
not yet been taught to read. Another step in his advancement was the
discovery that the language his father, his granny and himself spoke was
not the language spoken by Samuel, and every day he pressed his
grandmother to tell him why the Jews had lost their language in Babylon,
till he exhausted the old woman's knowledge and she said: well now, Son,
if you want to hear any more about Babylon you must ask your father, for
I have told you all I know. And Joseph waited eagerly for his father to
come home, and plagued him to tell him a story.

But after a long day spent in the counting-house his father was often
too tired to take him on his knee and instruct him, for Joseph's
curiosity was unceasing and very often wearisome. Now, Joseph, his
father said, you will learn more about these things when you are older.
And why not now? he asked, and his grandmother answered that it was
change of air that he wanted and not books; and they began to speak of
the fierce summer that had taken the health out of all of them, and of
how necessary it was for a child of that age to be sent up to the hills.

Dan looked into his son's face, and Rachel seemed to be right. A thin,
wan little face, that the air of the hills will brighten, he said; and
he began at once to make arrangements for Joseph's departure for a hill
village, saying that the pastoral life of the hills would take his mind
off Samuel, Hebrew and Babylon. Rachel was doubtful if the shepherds
would absorb Joseph's mind as completely as his father thought. She
hoped, however, that they would. As soon as he hears the sound of the
pipe, his father answered. A prophecy this was, for while Joseph was
resting after the fatigue of the journey, he was awakened suddenly by a
sound he had never heard before, and one that interested him strangely.
His nurse told him that the sound he was hearing was a shepherd's pipe.
The shepherd plays and the flock follows, she said. And when may I see
the flock coming home with the shepherd? he asked. To-morrow evening,
she answered, and the time seemed to him to loiter, so eager was he to
see the flocks returning and to watch the she-goat milked.

And in the spring as his strength came back he followed the shepherds
and heard from them many stories of wolves and dogs, and from a shepherd
lad, whom he had chosen as a companion, he acquired knowledge of the
plumage and the cries and the habits of birds, and whither he was to
seek their nests: it had become his ambition to possess all the wild
birds' eggs, one that was easily satisfied till he came to the egg of
the cuckoo, which he sought in vain, hearing of it often, now here, now
there, till at last he and the shepherd lad ventured into a dangerous
country in search of it and remained there till news of their absence
reached Magdala and Dan set out in great alarm with an armed escort to
recover his son. He was very angry when he came upon him, but the
trouble he had been put to and the ransom he had had to pay were very
soon forgotten, so great was his pleasure at the strong healthy boy he
brought back with him, and whose first question to Rachel was: are there
cuckoos in Magdala?--Father doesn't know. His grandmother could not tell
him, but she was willing to make inquiries, but before any news of the
egg had been gotten the hope to possess it seemed to have drifted out of
Joseph's mind and to seem even a little foolish when he looked into his
box, for many of his egg shells had been broken on the journey. See,
Granny, he said, but on second thoughts he refused to show his chipped
possessions. But thou wast once as eager to learn Hebrew, his
grandmother said, and the chance words, spoken as she left the room,
awakened his suspended interests. As soon as she returned she was beset
by questions, and the same evening his father had to promise that the
best scribe in Galilee should be engaged to teach him: a discussion
began between Dan and Rachel as to the most notable and trustworthy, and
it was followed by Joseph so eagerly that they could not help laughing;
the questions he put to them regarding the different accomplishments of
the scribes were very minute, and the phrase--But this one is a Greek
scholar, stirred his curiosity. Why should he be denied me because he
knows Greek? he asked, and his father could only answer that no one can
learn two languages at the same time. But if he knows two languages,
Joseph insisted. I cannot tell thee more, his father answered, than that
the scribe I've chosen is a great Hebrew scholar.

He was no doubt a great scholar, but he was not the man that Joseph
wished for: thin and tall and of gentle appearance and demeanour, he did
not stir up a flame for work in Joseph, who, as soon as the novelty of
learning Hebrew had worn off, began to hide himself in the garden. His
father caught him one day sitting in a convenient bough, looking down
upon his preceptor fairly asleep on a bench; and after this adventure he
began to make a mocking stock of his preceptor, inventing all kinds of
cruelties, and his truancy became so constant that his father was forced
to choose another. This time a younger man was chosen, but he succeeded
with Joseph not very much better than the first. After the second there
came a third, and when Joseph began to complain of his ignorance his
father said:

Well, Joseph, you said you wanted to learn Hebrew, and you have shown no
application, and three of the most learned scribes in Galilee have been
called in to teach you.

Joseph felt the reproof bitterly, but he did not know how to answer his
father and he was grateful to his grandmother for her answer. Joseph
isn't an idle boy, Dan, but his nature is such that he cannot learn from
a man he doesn't like. Why don't ye give him Azariah as an instructor?
Has he been speaking to thee about Azariah? Dan asked. Maybe, she said,
and Dan's face clouded.



CHAP. II.



We are to understand, Son, Dan said, on hearing that the fourth
preceptor whom he had engaged to teach his son Hebrew had failed to give
satisfaction, that you cannot learn from anybody but Azariah. Now, will
you tell us what there is in Azariah more than in Shimshai, Benaiah or
Zebad? and he waited for his son to speak, but as Joseph did not answer
he asked: is it because he looks more like a prophet than any of the
others? And Joseph, who still dreaded any allusion to prophets, turned
into his corner mortified. But Rachel came forward directly and taking
the child by the shoulders led him back to his father, asking Dan with a
trace of anger in her voice why he should think it strange that the
child should prefer to learn from Azariah rather than from a withered
patriarch who never could keep his eyes open but always sat dozing in
his chair like one in a dream.

It wasn't, Granny, because he went to sleep often; I could have kept him
awake by kicking him under the table. Joseph stopped suddenly and looked
from one to the other. Why then? his father asked, and on being pressed
to say why he didn't want to learn Hebrew he said he had come to hate
Hebrew, an admission which rendered his parents speechless for a moment.
Come to hate Hebrew, they repeated one after the other till frightened
by their solemnity Joseph blurted out: you wouldn't like Hebrew if the
scholar's fleas jumped on to you the moment you began. And pulling up
his sleeves Joseph exhibited his arms. How could I learn Hebrew with
three fleas biting me and all at one time, one here, another there and a
third down yonder. He always has three or four about him. No, Father,
don't, don't ask me to learn Hebrew any more. But, Joseph, all Hebrew
scholars haven't fleas about them. An unbelieving face confronted them,
and Joseph looked as if he were uncertain whether he should laugh or
cry: but seeing that his parents liked his story he began to laugh.
We've tried several preceptors but you're hard to please, Joseph. Now
what fault did you find with--and while Dan searched his memory for the
name Joseph interjected that the little fellow whose back bulged like
Granny's chest wouldn't let him read the interesting parts of the
Scriptures but kept him always at the Psalms and the Proverbs. And he
was always telling me about Hillel, who was a good man, but good men
aren't as interesting as prophets, Joseph rapped out. And wilt thou tell
us what he told thee about these pious men? Dan asked, a smile playing
about his long thin mouth. That the law didn't matter as long as we were
virtuous, Joseph muttered, and he was always explaining the stories that
I understood quite well when Granny told them. So it was Hiram that
confirmed you in your distaste for Hebrew, Dan said, and the child stood
looking at his father, not quite sure if it would be in his interest to
accept or repudiate the suggestion. He would have refused to give a
direct answer (such is the way of children) but the servant relieved him
of his embarrassment: Azariah was at the gate asking for shelter from
the rain.

From the rain! Dan said, rising suddenly. It is coming down very fast,
Mother, but we were so engaged in listening to Joseph that we didn't
hear it. Shall we ask him in, Joseph? The child's face lighted up. Now
isn't it strange, Rachel said, he should be here to-day? We haven't seen
him for months, and now in the middle of a talk about tutors--aren't you
going to ask him in? Of course, Dan said, and he instructed the servant
to ask the scribe to come upstairs. And now, Joseph, I hope you'll
listen to all that Azariah says, giving quiet and reasonable answers.
And not too many questions, mind!

Joseph promised to be good and quiet and to keep himself from putting
questions. I will listen attentively, he said, and he seized on the last
chance available to his tongue to tell that he had often seen Azariah in
the lanes. He doesn't see us, he walks like one in a dream, his hair
blowing in the wind. But when he does see us he speaks very kindly ... I
think I'd like to learn Hebrew from him. Rachel laid her finger on her
lips; the door opened and Azariah advanced into the room with a long
grave Jewish stride, apologising to Dan as he came for his sudden
intrusion into their midst, mentioning the heavy rain in a graceful
phrase. Joseph, who was on the watch for everything, could see that his
father was full of respect for Azariah, and hearing him say that it was
some years since Azariah had been in his house he began to wonder if
there had been a quarrel between them; it seemed to him that his father
was a little afraid of Azariah, which was strange, for he himself did
not feel in the least afraid of Azariah but an almost uncontrollable
desire to go and sit on his knee.

Here is my boy Joseph: and, Azariah, you will be interested to hear that
we were talking about you for the last quarter of an hour.

Azariah raised his thick eyebrows and waited to be told how he had come
to be the subject of their talk, though he half knew the reason, for in
a village like Magdala it soon gets about that four preceptors have been
sent away unable to teach the rich man's son. He has made up his mind,
Dan said, to learn Hebrew and Greek from none but you. No, Father, I
didn't make up my mind. But I couldn't learn from the others and I told
you why. Are you sure that you can learn from me? Azariah asked. Joseph
became shy at once, but he liked to feel Azariah's friendly hand upon
his shoulder, and when Dan asked the scribe to be seated Joseph followed
him, and standing beside his chair asked him if he would teach him
Hebrew, a question Azariah did not answer. You will teach me, he
insisted, and Dan and Rachel kept silence, so that they might better
observe Joseph working round Azariah with questions; and they were
amused, for Joseph's curiosity had overcome his shyness; and, quite
forgetful of his promise to listen and not to talk, he had begun to beg
the scribe to tell him if the language they spoke had been brought back
from Babylon, and how long it was since people had ceased to speak
Hebrew. Azariah set himself to answer these questions; Joseph gave him
close attention, and when Azariah ceased speaking he said: when may I
begin my lessons? And he put the question so innocently that his father
could not help laughing. But, Joseph, he said, Azariah has not yet
promised to teach you, and I wouldn't advise him to try to teach a boy
that has refused to learn from four preceptors. But it will be different
with you, Sir, Joseph murmured, taking Azariah's hand. You will teach
me, won't you? When will you begin?

Azariah answered that it could not be this week, for he was going to
Arimathea. The town we came from, Dan said. I am still known as Dan of
Arimathea, though I have lived here twenty years. I too shall be known
as Joseph of Arimathea, Joseph interjected. I'd like to be Joseph of
Arimathea much better than Joseph of Magdala.

You needn't shake your head at Magdala, Dan said. Magdala has done well
for us. To which Joseph answered nothing, but it was not long, however,
before he went to his father saying that he would like to go to
Arimathea, and in charge of Azariah.

You are asking too much, Joseph, his father answered him. No, I don't
think I am, and his honour Azariah doesn't think so, Joseph cried, for
his heart was already set upon this holiday. Azariah has perhaps
promised to teach you Hebrew. Isn't that enough? his father remarked.
Now you want him to take you to Arimathea. But if he likes to take me,
Joseph replied, and he cast such a winning glance at Azariah that the
scribe was moved to say that he would be glad to take charge of the boy
if his parents would confide him to his care. Whereupon Joseph threw his
arms about his father, but finding him somewhat indifferent he went to
his grandmother, who welcomed his embrace, and in return for it pleaded
that the boy should not be denied this small pleasure. But Dan, who only
half liked to part with his son, tried to hide his feelings from his
mother, who had guessed them already, with a joke, saying to Azariah
that he was a brave man to undertake the charge of so wayward a boy. I
shall not spoil him, and if he fails to obey he'll have to find someone
else to teach him Hebrew, Azariah answered. I think the rain is now
over, he said. Some drops were still falling but the sky was
brightening, and he returned from the window to where Joseph was
standing, and laying his hand on his head promised to come for him in
the morning.

We shall hear no more about fleas preventing thee from study, Dan said
to his son, and very much offended Joseph withdrew to his room, and
stood looking at the spot in which he had seen Samuel, asking himself if
the prophet would appear to him in Arimathea and if it would be by the
fountain whither the maidens used to come to draw water. Samuel and the
maidens seemed to jar a little, and as he could not think of them
together he fell to thinking of the rock on which the seer used to offer
sacrifices. It was still there and somebody would be about to direct
them to it, and it would be under this rock that Azariah would read to
him all that Samuel had said to Saul. But we shall be riding all day, he
said to himself, Arimathea must be a long long way from here, and he
fled downstairs to ask his father if Azariah would call for him at the
head of a caravan, whether he would ride on a camel or a mule or a
horse: he thought he would like to ride a camel, and awoke many times in
the night, once rolling out of his bed, for in a dream the ungainly
animal had jolted him from off his hump.

And the old woman's patience was nigh exhausted when he cried: Granny,
it is day, and bade her leave her bed and come to the window to tell him
if day were not breaking; but she answered: get thee back to thy bed,
for 'tis the moon shining down the sky, simpleton. The sun won't give
way an hour to the moon nor the moon an hour to the sun because thou'rt
going to Arimathea. And methinks, Joseph, that to some the morrow is
always better than to-day, and yesterday better than either,--a remark
that puzzled Joseph and kept him from his rest. Didst never hear,
Joseph, that it is a clever chicken that crows in the egg? the old woman
continued, and who knows but Azariah will forget to come for thee! He
won't forget, Granny, Joseph uttered in so doleful a tone that Rachel
repented and promised Joseph she would wake him in time; and as she had
never failed to keep her promise to him he allowed sleep to close his
eyelids. And once asleep he was hard to awaken. At six in the morning
sleep seemed to him better than Arimathea, but once awake Rachel could
not hand him his clothes fast enough; he escaped from her hands,
dressing himself as he ran into the lanes, and while tying his sandals
at the gate he forgot them and stood at gaze, wondering whether Azariah
would come to fetch him on a horse or an ass or a mule or a camel.

At last the sound of hooves came through the dusk, and a moment after
some three or four camels led the way; and there were horses too and
asses and mules, and the mules were caparisoned gaily, the one reserved
for Joseph's riding more richly than the others--a tall fine animal by
which he was proud to stand, asking questions of the muleteer, while
admiring the dark docile eyes shaded with black lashes. Now why do we
delay? he asked Azariah, who reminded him--and somewhat tritely--that he
had not yet said good-bye to his parents. But they know I'm going with
you, Sir, he answered. Azariah would not, however, allow Joseph to mount
his mule till he had bidden good-bye to his father and grandmother, and
he brought the boy back to the house, but without earning Dan's
approval, who was ashamed before Azariah of his son's eagerness to leave
home; a subtlety that escaped Rachel who chided Dan saying: try to
remember if it wasn't the same with thee, for I can remember thine eyes
sparkling at the sight of a horse and thy knees all of an itch to be on
to him. Well, said Dan, he'll have enough riding before the day is over,
and I reckon his little backside will be sore before they halt at the
gates of Arimathea; a remark that caused Rachel to turn amazed eyes on
her son and to answer harshly that since he had so much foresight she
hoped he had not forgotten to tell Azariah that Joseph must have a long
rest at midday. But thy face tells me no order has been given for the
care of the child on the journey. But Azariah cannot be far on his way.
I'll send a messenger to caution him that Joseph has his rest in the
shade.

Dan let her go in search of the messenger and moved around the room
hoping (he knew not why) that the messenger would not overtake the
caravan, the which he very nearly missed doing, for while Rachel was
instructing the messenger, Joseph was asking Azariah if he might have a
stick to belabour his mule into a gallop. The cavalcade, he said, needed
a scout that would report any traces of robbers he might detect among
the rocks and bushes. But we aren't likely to meet robber bands this
side of Jordan, Azariah said, they keep to the other side; and he told
Joseph, who was curious about everything, that along the Jordan were
great marshes into which the nomads drove their flocks and herds in the
spring to feed on the young grass. So they are there now, Joseph replied
meditatively, for he was thinking he would like better to ride through
marshes full of reeds than through a hilly country where there was
nothing to see but the barley-fields beset by an occasional olive garth.
But hooves were heard galloping in the rear and when the messenger
overtook the caravan and blurted out Rachel's instructions, Joseph's
face flushed. Now what can a woman know, he cried, about a journey like
this? Tell her, he said, turning to the messenger, that I shall ride and
rest with the others. And as an earnest of his resolve he struck the
messenger's horse so sharply across the quarters that the animal's head
went down between his knees and he plunged so violently that the
messenger was cast sprawling upon the ground. The cavalcade roared with
laughter and Joseph, overjoyed at the success of his prank, begged
Azariah to wait a little longer, for he was curious to see if the
messenger would succeed in coaxing his horse. At present the horse
seemed in no humour to allow himself to be mounted. Whenever the
messenger approached he whinnied so menacingly that everybody laughed
again. Is there none amongst ye that will help me to catch the horse?
the poor messenger cried after the departing travellers. We have a long
day's march in front of us, Azariah said; and he warned Joseph not to
beat his mule into a gallop at the beginning of the journey or he would
repent it later, words that came true sooner than Joseph had expected,
for before midday he was asking how many miles would bring them to the
caravansary. In about another hour, Azariah answered, and Joseph said he
had begun to hate his mule for it would neither trot nor gallop, only
walk. Thou'rt thinking of the nomads and would like to be after them
flourishing a lance, Azariah said, and--afraid that he was being laughed
at--Joseph made no answer.

After the rest at midday it seemed to him to be his duty to see that his
mule had been properly fed, and he bought some barley from the
camel-driver, but while he was giving it to his mule Azariah remarked
that he was only depriving other animals of their fair share of
provender. It is hard, he said, to do good without doing wrong to
another. But the present is no time for philosophy: we must start again.
And the cavalcade moved on through the hills, avoiding the steep ascents
and descents by circuitous paths, and Joseph, who had not seen a
shepherd leading his flock for some years, became all of a sudden
delighted by the spectacle, the sheep running forward scenting the fresh
herbage with which the hills were covered as with dark velvet.

A little later they came into view of a flock of goats browsing near a
wood, and Azariah sought to improve the occasion by a little
dissertation on the destructive nature of the goat. Of late years a
sapling rarely escaped them, and still more regrettable was the
carelessness of the shepherd who left the branches they had torn down to
become dry like tinder. He spoke of many forest fires, and told all the
stories he could remember in the hope of distracting Joseph's thoughts
from the length of the journey. We are now about half-way, he said,
disguising the truth. We shall see the city upon the evening glow in
about another hour. The longest hour that I have ever known, Joseph
complained two hours later; and Azariah laid his cloak over Joseph's
saddle. Dost feel more comfortable? A little, the child answered. At the
sight of the city thy heart will be lifted again and the suffering
forgotten. And Joseph believed him, but towards the end of the day the
miles seemed to stretch out indefinitely and at five o'clock he was
crying: shall we ever get to Arimathea, for I can sit on this mule no
longer, nor shall I be able to stand straight upon my legs when I
alight.

Azariah promised they would be at the gates in a few minutes, but these
few minutes seemed as if they would never pass away, but they did pass,
and at the gateway Joseph toppled from his mule and just managed to
hobble into the inn at which they were to sleep that night: too tired to
eat, he said, too tired, he feared, to sleep. Azariah pressed him to
swallow a cup of soup and he prepared a hot bath for him into which he
poured a bottle of vinegar; an excellent remedy he reported this to be
against stiffness, and it showed itself to be such: for next morning
Joseph was quite free from stiffness and said he could walk for miles.
Samuel's rock cannot be more than a few hundred yards distant, so miles
are not necessary, Azariah answered, as they stepped over the threshold
into a delightful morning all smiles and greetings and subtle
invitations to come away into the forest and fields, full of promises of
flowers and songs, but in conflict with their project, which was to
inquire out their way from the maidens at the fountain, who would be
sure to know it, and in its shade to read the story of David and Goliath
first and other stories afterwards. But the gay morning drew their
thoughts away from texts, and without being aware of their apostasy they
had already begun to indulge in hopes that the maidens would be late at
the fountain and leave them some time to loiter by the old aqueduct that
brought the water in a tiny stream to fall into a marble trough: an
erstwhile sarcophagus, maybe, Azariah said, as he gathered some water
out of it with his hands and drank, telling Joseph to do likewise.

There were clouds in the sky, so the sun kept coming and going. A great
lantern, Joseph said. That God holds in his hands, Azariah answered; and
when tired of waiting for maidens who did not appear their beguilement
was continued by shadows advancing and retreating across the roadway.
The town was an enchantment in the still limpid morning, but when they
rose to their feet their eyes fell on a greater enchantment--the hills
clothed in moving light and shade so beautiful that the appeal to come
away to the woods and fields continued in their hearts after they had
lowered their eyes and would not be denied, though they prayed for
strength to adhere to their original project. It had died out of their
hearts through no fault of theirs, as far as they could see; and
wondering how they might get remission from it they strode about the
city, idly casting their eyes into ravines whither the walls dropped,
and raising them to the crags whither the walls rose: faithful servants,
Azariah said, that have saved the city many times from robbers from the
other side of Jordan.

Joseph's thoughts were far away on the hillside opposite amid the woods,
and Azariah's voice jarred. By this time, he said, the maidens are
drawing water. But perhaps, Joseph answered, none will be able to tell
us the way to the rock, and if none has heard for certain on which rock
Samuel offered sacrifice we might go roaming over the hills and into
forests yonder to find perhaps some wolf cubs in a cave. But a she-wolf
with cubs is dangerous, Azariah replied. If we were to try to steal her
cubs, Joseph interjected. But we don't want to meddle with them, only to
see them. May we go roaming to-day, Sir, and read the story of David and
Goliath to-morrow? The boy's voice was full of entreaty and Azariah had
very little heart to disappoint him, but he dared not break an
engagement which he looked upon as almost sacred; and walked debating
with himself, asking himself if the absence of a maiden at the fountain
might be taken as a sign that they were free to abandon the Scriptures
for the day, only for the day. And seeing the fountain deserted Joseph
cried out in his heart: we are free! But as they turned aside to go
their way a maiden came with a pitcher upon her head; but as she had
never heard of the rock, nor indeed of Samuel, Joseph was certain that
God had specially designed her ignorant, so that they might know that
the day before them was for enjoyment. You said, Sir, that if none could
direct us we might leave the story until to-morrow. I did not say that,
Azariah answered. All the same he did not propose to wait for another
maiden more learned than the first, but followed Joseph to the gates of
the city, nor did he raise any objection to passing through them, and
they stood with their eyes fixed on the path that led over the brow down
into the valley, a crooked twisting path that had seemed steep to
Azariah's mule overnight and that now seemed steeper to Azariah. And
will seem still steeper to me in the evening when we return home tired,
he said. But we shall not be tired, Joseph interposed, we need not go
very far, only a little way into the forest. And he did not dare to say
more, lest by some careless word he might provoke an unpremeditated
opposition.

He dreaded to hear the words on Azariah's lips: you have come here with
me to learn Hebrew and may not miss a lesson.... If he could persuade
Azariah into the path he would not turn back until they reached the
valley, and once in the valley, he might as well ascend the opposite
hill as go back and climb up the hill whence they had come. I am afraid,
said Azariah, that this cool morning will pass into a very hot day: the
clouds that veil the sky are dispersing. We shall not feel the heat once
we are in the forest, Joseph replied, and the path up yonder hill is not
so steep as the paths we go down by. You see the road, Sir, twisting up
the hillside, and it is planned so carefully to avoid a direct ascent
that a man has just belaboured his ass into a trot. They have passed
behind a rock, but we shall see them presently.

Azariah waited a moment for the man and ass to reappear, but after all
he was not much concerned with them, and began to descend unmindful of
the lark which mounted the sky in circles singing his delirious song.
Joseph begged Azariah to hearken, but his preceptor was too much
occupied with the difficulties of the descent, nor could he be persuaded
to give much attention to a flight of doves flying hither and thither as
if they had just discovered that they could fly, diving and wheeling
and then going away in a great company, coming back and diving again,
setting Joseph wondering why one bird should separate himself from the
flock and alight again. Again and again this happened, the flock
returning to release him from his post. Were the birds playing a sort of
game? Frolicking they were, for sure, and Joseph felt he would like to
have wings and go away with them, and he wished Azariah would hasten, so
pleasant it was in the valley.

A pleasant spacious valley it was, lying between two hills of about
equal height: the hill they had come down was a little steeper than the
hill they were about to go up. Joseph noticed the shadows that fell from
the cliffs and those that the tall feathery trees, growing out of the
scrub, cast over the sunny bottom of the valley, a water-course probably
in the rainy season; and he enjoyed the little puffing winds that came
and went, and the insects that came out of their hiding-places to enjoy
the morning. The dragonflies were bustling about their business: what it
was not easy to discover, but they went by in companies of small flies,
with now and then a great one that rustled past on gauzy wings. And the
bees were coming and going from their hive in the rocks, incited by the
fragrance of the flowers, and Joseph watched them crawling over the
anemones and leaving them hastily to bury their blunt noses in the
pistils of the white squills that abounded everywhere in the corners, in
the inlets and bays and crevices of the rocks. Butterflies, especially
the white, pursued love untiringly in the air, fluttering and hovering,
uniting and then separating--aerial wooings that Joseph followed with
strained eyes, till at last the white bloom passed out of sight; and he
turned to the dragonflies, hoping to capture one of the fearful kind,
often nearly succeeding, but failing at the last moment and returning
disappointed to Azariah who, seated on a comfortable stone, waited till
Joseph's ardour should abate a little. These stones will be too hot in
another hour, he said. But it will be cool enough under the boughs,
Joseph answered. Perhaps too cool, Azariah muttered, and Joseph wondered
if it were reasonable to be so discontented with the world, especially
on a morning like this, he said to himself; and to hearten Azariah he
mentioned again that the path up the hillside zigzagged. You'll not feel
the ascent, Sir. To which encouragement Azariah made no answer but drew
Joseph's attention to the industry of the people of Arimathea. The eager
boy could spare only a few moments for the beauty of the fig and
mulberry leaves showing against the dark rocks, but he snuffed the scent
the breeze bore and said it was the same that had followed them
yesterday. The scent of the vine-flower, Azariah rejoined. The hillsides
were covered with the pale yellow clusters. But I thought, Joseph, that
you were too tired yesterday to notice anything. Only towards the end of
the journey, Joseph muttered. But what are you going to do, Sir? he
asked. I am going to run up the hill. You may run if you please, the
preceptor answered, and as he followed the boy at a more leisurely pace
he wondered at Joseph's spindle shanks struggling manfully against the
ascent. He will stop before the road turns, he said, but Joseph ran on.
He is anxious to reach the top, Azariah pondered. There is some pleasant
turf up there full of flowers: he'll like to roll like a young donkey,
his heels in the air, Azariah said to himself as he ascended the steep
path, stopping from time to time that he might better ponder on the
moral of this spring morning. He will roll among the grass and flowers
like a young donkey, and then run hither and thither after insects and
birds, his heart aflame with delight. He desires so many things that he
knows not what he desires, only that he desires. Whereas I can but
remember that once I was as he is to-day. So the spring is sad for the
young as well as for the old.

But old as he was he was glad to feel that he was still liable to the
season's thrill in retrospect at least, and he asked himself questions:
how many years ago is it since...? But he did not get further with his
recollections. The ascent is too steep, he said, and he continued the
ascent thinking of his breath rather than of her.

Joseph stood waiting on the edge of the rocks and cried out in the
fulness of his joy on seeing his preceptor appear above the cliff, and
at once fell to rolling himself over and over. Just as I expected he
would, Azariah remarked to himself. And then, starting to his feet,
Joseph began gathering flowers, but in a little while he stood still,
his nosegay dropping flower by flower, for his thoughts had taken
flight. The doves, the doves! he cried, looking into the blue and white
sky. The doves have their nests in the woods, the larks build in the
grass he said, and asked Azariah to come with him. The nest was on a
tuft of grass. But I've not touched them, he said. Three years ago I
used to rob all the nests and blow the eggs, you see, for I was making a
collection. Azariah asked him if the lark would grieve for her eggs, and
Joseph answered that he supposed she would soon forget them. Hark to his
singing! and he ran on into the outskirts of the woods, coming back a
few minutes afterwards to ask Azariah to hasten, for the wood was more
beautiful than any wood he had ever seen. And if you know the trees in
which the doves build I will climb and get the nest. Doves build in
taller trees than these, in fir-trees, Azariah answered. But this is a
pretty wood, Joseph. And he looked round the quiet sunny oak wood and
began his relation that this wood was probably the remains of the
ancient forests that had covered the country when the Israelites came
out of the north of Arabia. How long ago was that, Sir? Joseph asked,
and Azariah hazarded the answer that it might be as many as fifteen
hundred years ago. How old is the oldest oak-tree? Joseph inquired, and
Azariah had again to hazard the answer that a thousand years would make
an old tree. And when will these trees be in leaf, Sir, and may we come
to Arimathea when they are in leaf? And look, somebody has been felling
trees here. Who do you think it was, Sir? Azariah looked round. The
forest must have been supplying the city with firewood for many years,
he said. All these trees are young and they are too regularly spaced for
a natural growth. But higher up the hills the woods are denser and
darker, and there we may find some old trees. Any badgers and foxes?
Joseph asked, and shall we see any wolves?

The sunny woods were threaded with little paths, and Joseph cast curious
eyes upon them all. The first led him into bracken so deep that he did
not venture farther, and the second took him to the verge of a dark
hollow so dismal that he came running back to ask if there were
crocodiles in the waters he had discovered. He did not give his
preceptor time to answer the difficult question, but laid his hand upon
his arm and whispered that he was to look between two rocks, for a
jackal was there, slinking away--turning his pointed muzzle to us now
and then. To see he isn't followed, Azariah added: and the observation
endeared him so to Joseph that the boy walked for a moment pensively in
the path they were following. It turned into the forest, and they had
not gone very far before they became aware of a strange silence, if
silence it could be called, for when they listened the silence was full
of sound, innumerable little sounds, some of which they recognised; but
it was not the hum of the insects or the chirp of a bird or the
snapping of a rotten twig that filled Joseph with awe, but something
that he could neither see, nor hear, nor smell, nor touch. The life of
the trees--is that it? he asked himself. A remote and mysterious life
was certainly breathing about him, and he regretted he was without a
sense to apprehend this life.

Again and again it seemed that the forest was about to whisper its
secret, but something always happened to interrupt. Once it was
certainly Azariah's fault, for just as the trees were about to speak he
picked up a leaf and began to explain how the shape of an oak leaf
differed from that of the leaf of the chestnut and the ash. A patter was
heard among the leaves. There she goes--a hare! Joseph said, and a
moment afterwards a white thing appeared. A white weasel, Azariah said.
Shall we follow him? Joseph asked, and Azariah answered that it would be
useless to follow. We should soon miss them in the thickets. And he
continued his discourse upon trees, hoping that Joseph would never again
mistake a sycamore for a chestnut. And what is that tree so dark and
gloomy rising up through all the other trees, Joseph asked, so much
higher than any of them? That is a cedar, Azariah said. Do doves build
in cedars? Azariah did not know, and the tree did not inspire a climb:
it seemed to forbid any attempt on its privacy. Do trees talk when they
are alone? Joseph asked Azariah, and his preceptor gave the very
sensible answer that the life of trees is unknown to us, but that trees
had always awakened religious emotions in men. The earliest tribes were
tree-worshippers, which was very foolish, for we can fell trees and put
them to our usage.

They had come to a part of the forest in which there seemed to be
neither birds nor beasts and Joseph had begun to feel the forest a
little wearisome and to wish for a change, when the trees suddenly
stopped, and before them lay a sunny interspace full of tall grass with
here and there a fallen tree, and on these trees prone great lizards
sunned themselves, nodding their heads in a motion ever the same.
Something had died in that beautiful interspace, for a vulture rose
sullenly and went away over the top of the trees, and Azariah begged
Joseph not to pursue his search but to hasten out of the smell of the
carrion that a little breeze had just carried towards them. Besides,
this thick grass is full of snakes, he said, and the words were no
sooner out of his mouth than a snake issued from a thick tuft, stopped
and hissed. Snakes feed on mice and rats? Joseph asked, and come out of
their holes to catch them, isn't that so, Sir? Everything is out this
sunny morning, seeking its food, Azariah answered: snakes after mice,
vultures after carrion. This way, Joseph--yonder we may rest awhile, but
we must be careful not to sit upon a snake; that knoll yonder is free
from vermin, for the trees that grow about it are fir-trees and snakes
do not like any place where they can easily be detected. And they sat on
the fibrous ground and looked up into the darkness of the withered
pines--withered everywhere except in the topmost branches that alone
caught the light. A sad place to sit in, Joseph said. Don't you feel the
sadness, Sir? Azariah answered that he did. But it is preferable to
snake-bites, he added. At that moment slowly flapping wings were heard
overhead. It is the vulture returning, Azariah whispered to Joseph, and
he is bringing a comrade back to dinner. To a very smelly dinner, Joseph
rejoined. The breeze had veered suddenly and they found themselves again
in the smell of carrion.

We must go on farther, Azariah said, and after passing into many quiet
hollows and ascending many crests the path to which they had remained
faithful debouched at last on broken ground with the tail end of the
forest straggling up the opposite hillside in groups and single trees. I
know where we are now, Joseph cried. Do you not remember, Sir--Joseph's
explanation was cut short by the sight of some shepherds sitting at
their midday meal, and hunger falling suddenly upon Azariah and Joseph,
both began to regret they had not brought food with them. But Azariah
had some shekels tied in his garment, and for one of these pieces of
silver the shepherds were glad to share their bread and figs with them
and to draw milk for them from one of the she-goats. From which shall I
draw milk? the shepherd asked his mate, and the mate answered:
White-nose looks as if her udder is paining her. She lost her kid
yesterday. He mentioned two others: Speckled and Long-ears. Whichever
would like her milk drawn off will answer to thy call, the shepherd
answered, and the goat came running to him as if glad to hear her name.
White-nose, isn't it? Joseph asked, and he gathered a branch for her,
and while she nibbled he watched the milk drawn off and drank it foaming
and warm from the jug, believing it to be the sweetest he had ever
drunk, though he had often drunk goat's milk before. Azariah, too, vowed
that he had never drunk better milk and persuaded the shepherds into
discourse of their trade, learning much thereby, for these men knew
everything that men may know about flocks, having been engaged in
leading them from pasture to pasture all their lives and their fathers
before them.

After telling of many famous rams they related the courage and fidelity
of their dogs, none of which feared a wolf, and they mentioned that two
had been lost in an encounter with a leopard--but the flock had been
saved. As much as wolves the shepherds feared the eagles. There are a
dozen nests in yon mountain if there be one. Take the strangers up the
hillside, mate, so that they may get a sight of the birds. And Azariah
and Joseph followed the shepherd up to the crags and were shown some
birds wheeling above rocks so steep that there was no foothold for man.
Or else we should have had their nests long ago, the shepherd said. Now
here is a bear's trail. He's been seeking water here, but he didn't get
any; he came by here, and my word, he's been up here after wild bees.
The shepherd showed scratches among the dropping resin, saying: it was
here that he clawed his way up. But did he get the honey? Joseph asked,
a question the shepherd could not answer; and talking about bears and
honey and eagles and lambs and wolves and lions, the afternoon passed
away without their feeling it, till one of the shepherds said: it is
folding-time now; and answering to different calls the flocks separated,
and the shepherds went their different ways followed by their flocks.

The sunset had begun to redden the sky, and the shadows of the trees
drew out as they crossed the hillside and descended by the steep path
into the valley. The ascent that faced them was steep indeed, and
Azariah had to rest several times, but at last they reached the slope on
which the city was built: but they did not enter the gates yet awhile
but stood looking back, thinking of the day that had gone by. We shall
remember this day always, Joseph said, if we live to be as old as the
patriarchs. Was it then so wonderful? Azariah asked, and Joseph could
only answer: yes, very wonderful. Didn't you think so? and tell me, he
added, is it true that God is going to destroy the world and very soon?
Why do you ask, Joseph? Azariah replied, and Joseph answered: because
the world is so very beautiful. I never saw the world before to-day. My
eyes were opened, and I shall be sorry if God destroys the world, for I
should like to see more of it. But why should he make a beautiful world,
and then destroy it? Don't you think he will relent when the time comes
and the day be as beautiful as it was this morning? Azariah answered him
that God does not relent, for He knows the past and future as well as
the present, and that the world was not as beautiful as it seems to be,
for man is sinning always, though certainly God said all things are
beautiful. But perhaps we sinned this morning in the sight of God. We
sinned? Joseph repeated. How did we sin? Have you forgotten, Azariah
answered, that it was arranged that we should spend the day reading the
Scriptures, and we've spent it talking to shepherds? Was that a sin?
Joseph asked. We can read the Scriptures to-morrow; if the day be
clouded and rain comes, we can read them indoors. If the day be clouded,
Azariah replied smiling. But was not thy life dedicated to Samuel? Thou
hast forgotten him. But the world is God's world. Joseph answered that
he had forgotten his vow, and all that evening, in spite of Azariah's
gentleness with him, he was pursued by the memory of the sin he had
committed. In Samuel's own city he had broken his vow! And Azariah heard
the boy blubbering in the darkness that night.



CHAP. III.


He should not have interrupted the manifestations of joy at his return
with: when may I go to Arimathea again? And his second question was
hardly less indiscreet: why did we leave Arimathea? His father answered:
because it suited us to do so; and Joseph withdrew to Rachel who was
never gruff with him. But despite her bias in favour of all he said and
did she reproved him, saying that he should not ask as soon as he
returned home when he was going away again. I am glad in a way, Granny,
but there's no forest here. Dan left the room, and the boy would tell
no more but burst into tears, asking what he had done to make Father so
angry. Rachel could not tell him with safety, and Joseph, thinking that
perhaps something unpleasant had happened to his father in the forest (a
wolf may have bitten him there), spoke of the high rock on the next
occasion and of the story of Jonathan and David that Azariah had read to
him. You will ask him to come here one night, Father, and translate it
to you? Promise me that you will. But I can read Hebrew, Dan replied,
and there is no reason for those wondering eyes. Thy Granny will tell
thee. But, Father--Joseph stopped suddenly. It had come into his mind to
ask his father how it was that he had never read the story of Jonathan
and David to him, but his interest in the matter dying suddenly, he
said: to-morrow I begin my lessons, and Azariah tells me that I must
have a copy of the Scriptures for my very own use. Now where are thy
thoughts? In a barrel of salt fish? Father, do listen. I'd like to learn
Hebrew from bottom to top and from top to bottom and then sideways, so
as to put the Scribes in Jerusalem to shame when you send me thither for
the Feast of the Passover. And thou'lt mind that my Scriptures be made
by the best Scribe in Galilee and on the best parchment, promise me,
Father!

Dan promised his son that no finer manuscript should be procurable in
Galilee. But the making of this magnificent copy would delay for many
months Joseph's instruction in Hebrew, and Joseph was so impatient to
begin that he lay awake that night and in the morning ransacked his
father's rooms, laying hands on some quires of his father's Scriptures;
and no sooner out of the house than a great fear fell upon him that he
might be robbed: the quires were hidden in his vest suddenly and he
walked on in confidence, also in a great seriousness, going his way
melancholy as a camel, his head turned from the many temptations that
the way offered to him--the flower in the cactus hedge was one. He
passed it without picking it, and further on he allowed a strange
crawling insect to go by without molestation, and feeling his mood to be
exceptional he fell to thinking that his granny would laugh, were she to
see him.

He was not, however, afraid of her laughing: women had no sense of the
Word of God, he muttered. There were nests in the trees, but he kept
himself from looking, lest a nest might inspire him to climb for it. But
nobody could climb trees with several quires of Scriptures under his
arm. He would lose his grip and fall, or else the Scriptures would fall,
and if a thief happened to be going by it would be easy for him to pick
up the quires and away with them before it would be possible for Joseph
to slide down the tree and raise a hue and cry.

The lanes through which his way took him were frequented by boys,
ball-players every one of them, and at this time ball-playing was a
passion with Joseph and he would steal away whenever he got a chance and
spend a whole day in an alley with a number of little ragamuffins. And
if he were to meet the tribe, which was as likely as not at the next
turning, he must tell them that he was going to school and dared not
stop. But they would jeer at him. He might give them his ball and in
return they might not mock at him. He walked very quietly, hoping to
pass unobserved, but a boy was looking over the cactus hedge and called
to him, asking if he had brought a ball with him, for they had lost
theirs. He threw his ball to him. But aren't you coming to play with
us? Not to-day, Joseph answered. I'm on my way to school. Well,
to-morrow? Not to-morrow. I may not play truant from learning, Joseph
answered sententiously, walking away, leaving his former playmates
staring after him without a word in their mouths. But by the next day
they had recovered their speech and cried out: the fishmonger's son is
going by to his lessons and dare not play at ball. Azariah would whip
him if he did. One a little bolder than the rest dangled a piece of rope
in his face saying: this is what you'd get if you stayed with us. He was
moved to run after the boy and cuff him, but the quires under his arms
restrained him and he passed on, keeping a dignified silence. Soon
thou'lt be reading to us in the synagogues! was the last jeer cried
after him that day, but for many a day he caught sight of a face
grinning at him through the hedge, and the way to his lessons became
hateful.

As he showed no sign of anger, the persecution grew wearisome to the
persecutors, and soon after he discovered another way to Azariah. But
this way was beset with women, whose sex impelled a yearning for this
tall lithe boy with the gazelle-like eyes. Joseph was more inclined to
the welcome of the Greek poets and sculptors who stopped their mules and
leaning from high saddles spoke to him, for he was now beginning to
speak Greek and it was pleasant to avail himself of the advantages of
the road to chatter his Greek and to acquire new turns of phrases. Why
not? since it seemed to be the wish of these men to instruct him. My
very model! a bearded man cried out one morning, and stopping his mule
he bent from the saddle towards Joseph and asked him many questions.
Joseph told him that he was on his way to his lessons and that he
passed through this lane every morning. At these words the sculptor's
eyes lighted up, for he had accepted Joseph's answer as a tryst, and
when Joseph came through the lane next day he caught sight of the
sculptor waiting for him and--flattered--Joseph entered into
conversation with him, resisting, however, the sculptor's repeated
invitation that Joseph should come to sit to him--if not for a statue,
for a bust at least. But a bust is a graven image, Joseph answered, and
as the point was being debated a rich merchant came by, riding a white
horse that curveted splendidly, and Joseph, who was interested in the
horse, referred the difficulty they were engaged in to the merchant.
After some consideration of it he asked the meaning of the scrolls that
Joseph carried in his hand, feigning an interest in them and in Azariah.
Who is he? he asked, and Joseph answered: a very learned man, my tutor,
to whom I must be on my way. And with a pretty bow he left merchant and
sculptor exchanging angry looks.

But the sculptor knowing more of Joseph than the merchant--that he would
be passing through the lane on the morrow at the same time--and as the
boy's beauty was of great importance to him, kept another tryst, waiting
impatiently, and as soon as Joseph appeared he began to beseech him to
come to Tiberias and pose in his studio for a statue he was carving,
offering presents that would have shaken many determinations. But Joseph
was as firm to-day as he was yesterday. I must be going on to my Hebrew,
he said, and he left the sculptor cast away in dreams. He had not gone
very far, however, before he met the merchant, who happened to be
passing through the lane again, and seeing Joseph his eyes lighted up
with pleasure, and after speaking to him he dismounted from his mule and
showed him a beautiful engraved dagger which Joseph desired ardently;
but a present so rich he did not care to accept, and hurried away, nor
did he look back, so busy was he inventing reasons as he went for the
delay.

I do not deny, Sir, that I'm past my time, but not by an hour; at most
by half an hour. Playing at ball again, and in the purlieus of the
neighbourhood, against your father's instructions! Azariah said, his
face full of storm. No, Sir, I have put ball-playing out of my mind; or
Hebrew has put it out of my mind, and Greek too has had a say in the
matter. The delay was caused by meeting a sculptor who asked me to pose
before him for a statue. And what was thy answer to him? That we were
forbidden by our laws to look upon graven images. And what answer did he
give to that very proper answer? Azariah asked, somewhat softened. Many
answers, Sir, and among them was this one: that there was no need for me
to look upon the statue he was carving. The answer that one might expect
from a Greek, Azariah rapped out, one that sets me thinking that there
is more to be said against the Greek language than I cared to admit to
thy father when last in argument with him on the subject. But, Sir, you
will not forbid me the reading of Menander for no better reason than
that a Greek asked that he might carve a statue after me, for what am I
to blame, since yourself said my answer was commendable? And in these
words there was so plaintive an accent that Azariah's heart was touched,
for he guessed that the diverting scene in which the slave arranges for
a meeting between the lovers was in the boy's mind.

At that moment their eyes went together to the tally on the wall, and
pointing to it Joseph said it bore witness to the earnestness with which
he had pursued his studies for the last six months, and Azariah was
forced to admit there was little to complain of in the past, but he had
noticed that once a boy came late for his lessons his truancy became
common. Moreover, Sir, my time is of importance, Azariah declared, his
hairy nostrils swelling at the thought of the half hour he had been kept
waiting. But may we finish Menander's comedy? Joseph asked, for he was
curious to learn if Moschion succeeded in obtaining his father's leave
to marry the girl he had put in the family way. The lovers' plan was to
ingratiate themselves with the father's concubine and to persuade her to
get permission to rear and adopt the child. Yes, Joseph, the father
relents. But it would please me, Sir, to learn why he relents. And
Joseph promised that he would be for a whole year in advance of his time
rather than behind it. He did not doubt that he would be able to keep
his promise, for he had found a new way to Tiberias; a deserted way it
seemed to be at first, and most propitious, without the temptations of
ball-players, but as the season advanced the lane became infested by
showmen on their way to Tiberias: mummers, acrobats, jugglers,
fortune-tellers, star-mongers, dealers in charms and amulets, and Joseph
was tempted more than once to stop and speak with these random folk, but
the promise he had given Azariah was sufficiently powerful to inspire a
dread and a dislike of these, and to avoid them he sought for a third
way to Tiberias and found one: a path through an orchard belonging to a
neighbour who was glad to give him permission to pass through it every
morning, which he did, thereby making progress in his studies till one
day, by the stile over which his custom was to vault into the quiet
lane, he came suddenly upon what seemed to him like a small encampment:
wayfarers of some sort he judged them to be, but of what sort he could
not tell at first, there being some distance and the branches of an
apple-tree between him and them.

But as he came through the trees, he decided in his mind that they were
the servitude of some great man: varlets, hirelings or slaves. But his
eyes fell on their baskets and--deceived by the number and size of
these--the thought crossed his mind that they might be poulterers on
their way to Tiberias. But whatever their trade they had no right to
encamp in the orchard, and he informed them politely that the orchard
belonged to friends of his, and that large and fierce dogs were loose
about the place. For his warning they thanked him, saying they'd make
off at once; remarking as they made their preparations for going that
they did not think they were doing any harm by coming into the orchard,
having only crossed the stile to rest themselves.

Going with poultry to Tiberias? Joseph said. Not with poultry, Sir, the
varlets answered. We are not poulterers, but cockers. Cockers! Joseph
repeated, and on reading the blank look in his face they told him they
were the servants of a great Roman who had sent them in search of
fighting cocks; for a great main was going to be fought that day in
Tiberias. We are his cockers, a man said (he spoke with some slight
authority, the others seemed to be in his charge), and have been far in
search of these birds. He pointed to the baskets and asked Joseph if he
would care to see the cocks, and as if to awaken Joseph's curiosity he
began to tell their pedigrees. That one, he said, is a Cilician and of a
breed that has won thousands of shekels, and a bird in the basket next
him is a Bythinian brown-red, the victor in many a main, and the birds
in the next three baskets are Cappadocian Duns, all of celebrated
ancestry, for our master will have none but the finest birds; and if you
happen to know of any good birds, price will not stand in the way of our
purchasing them. Joseph answered that he had not heard of any, but if he
should--You'll not forget us, said a small meagre woman with black
shining eyes in a colourless face, drab as the long desert road she had
come by. Joseph promised; and then a short thick-set man with matted
hair, and sore eyes that were always fixed on the ground, opened one of
the baskets and took out a long lean bird, which he held in shining
fingers for Joseph's admiration. Listen to him, cried the woman in a
high thin voice. Listen to him, for no one can set a cock a-sparring
like him. The servants consulted among themselves in a language Joseph
did not understand, and then, as if they had come to an agreement among
themselves, the foreman said, approaching Joseph and cringing a little
before him, that if the little master could assure them they would not
be disturbed by dogs, they would like to show him the cocks. A little
exercise, the man said, would be of advantage to the birds--to those
that were not fighting that morning--he added, and the man whom the
woman nicknamed The Heeler, a nickname acquired from the dexterity with
which he fitted the cock's heels with soft leather pads, said: you see,
master, they may fight and buffet one another for a space without
injury.

Joseph watched the birds advance and retire and pursue each other, and
after this exhibition they were put back into their baskets and covered
with hay. So you are the Heeler? Joseph asked. The man grinned vacantly,
and the woman answered for him. There is none like him in this country
for fixing a pair of spurs, for cutting the tail and wings and
shortening the hackle and the rump feathers. You see, young Master, the
comb is cut close so that there shall be no mark for t'other bird's
bill. And who knows but you'd like to see the spurs, Master. And she
showed him spurs of two kinds, for there are cocks that fight better
with long spurs and cocks that fight better with short. And how many
days does it take to train a cock? Joseph asked, and they began to tell
him that a fighting cock must be fed with bread and spring water, and
have his exercise--running and sparring--every day. It was the woman
that kept Joseph in chat, for the men were busy carrying the baskets
over the stile and placing them in mule cars that were waiting in the
lane. But, young Master, she said, if you've never seen a cock-fight
come with us, for a better one you'll never live to see. The best birds
in Western Asia will be in Tiberias to-day. Joseph did not answer this
invitation at once, for he did not altogether like this woman nor her
manner of standing near to him, her black shining eyes fixed upon him.
But he was like one infected, and could not escape from his desire to
see a cock-fight. He knew that Azariah would never forgive him for
keeping him waiting ... waiting for how long? he asked himself. Till he
cares to wait no longer, his conscience answered him. He was going to
get into great trouble, but he could not say no to the cockers, and he
followed them, asking himself when he should escape from the evil spirit
which--at their instigation, perhaps--had taken possession of him. A
moment after he was assuring himself that the folk he had fallen in with
were ignorant of everything but cockering, without knowledge of
witchcraft, star-mongering or sortilege--the servants of some great
Roman, without doubt, which was sufficient assurance that though they
might be cock stealers on occasion they were not kidnappers. Besides, in
frequented lanes and in Tiberias the stealing of a boy was out of the
question, and after seeing one or two cocks killed he could return home,
for he need not wait till the end. He could not help himself, he must
see the great red and yellow bird strike his spur through the head of
his adversary, as the Heeler told him he had never failed to do in many
combats. And he would not fail now, though he was two years old, which
is old for a fighting cock. You see, little Master, the woman said, they
be not as quick on their legs as they get older, nor are they as eager
to fight. To-day's battle will be his last--win or lose--and if he
conies out alive at the end he'll go to the hens, which will be more
frolicsome than having spurs driven into his neck as happened three
months gone by, but it didn't check his spirit, she continued, he killed
his bird and let off one great crowing before he toppled over: we
thought he was gone, but I sucked his wound, bathed it with salt and
water, and you see he's none the worse to-day.

At every turning of the lane the demon seemed to propel Joseph more
violently, till at last he put Azariah out of his head and began to ask
himself if he would be guilty of any great sin in going to see the
cock-fight? Of any sin greater than that of following the custom of the
heathen? His father might be angry, but there'd be no particular
atonement: a fast day, or some study of the law, no more, for he'd be
careful not to raise his eyes to the gods and goddesses that beset the
streets and public places in Tiberias. And on this resolve he followed
the cockers into the city. He was glad to see that many statues stood on
the roofs of the buildings and so far away that no faces or limbs were
visible; but the statues in the streets were difficult to avoid seeing.
Worst of all, the cock-fight that he thought would be fought in the open
air had been arranged to happen in a great building--a theatre or
circus--he did not know which. Joseph had never seen so great a crowd
before, and the servants he had come with pointed out to him their
master among a group of Romans. The Jews from Alexandria, he was told,
came to these games, and this caused his conscience to quicken, for he
had heard his father speak of the Alexandrian Jews as heretics. Azariah
did not hold such orthodox views, but what his tutor's views were about
cock-fighting Joseph did not know; and when he asked if he might
approach the ring he was told that the circle about the ring was for the
Romans and those whom they might invite, but he'd be able to see very
well from where he was.

The Romans seemed to him an arrogant and proud people; and, conscious of
an innate hostility, he watched them as they leaned over the railing
that enclosed the fighting ring, talking among themselves, sometimes,
however, deigning to call a Jew to join them. The Jews came to them
obsequiously, hoping that the honour bestowed upon them did not escape
notice; and Joseph's ear caught servile phrases: young Sir, it is
reported you've a bird that will smite down all comers, and, Sir, we can
offer you but a poor show of birds. Those at Rome----

A sudden silence fell, which was broken by the falling of dice, and
Joseph was told that the throw would decide which seven birds were to
begin.... We have won the throw, was whispered in his ear. We've the
advantage. But why it was an advantage to fight from the right rather
than from the left Joseph was too excited to inquire, for the cocks had
just been put into the ring or pit, and Joseph recognised the tall lank
bird that the Heeler had taken out of his basket in the orchard. He's
fighting to-day with long spurs, he was told. But why does he fight the
other bird--a yearling? he heard the woman ask; and he saw a black cock
crouch to meet the red in deadly fight. Must one die? he asked, but the
cockers were too intent on the battle to answer his question. The birds
re-sparred and leaped aside, avoiding each other's rushes, and before
long it became clear even to Joseph that their bird, though stronger
than the younger bird, did not spring as high or as easily. A good bird,
he heard the servants say: there'll be a battle for it, my word, there
will, and our bird will win if the young one doesn't get his stroke in
quickly; an old bird will tire out a young bird.... As these words were
spoken, the black cock dashed in, and with a quick stroke sent his spur
through the red bird's head. He's gone this time beyond thy care! And
tears came into Lydia's eyes. I'm sorry, I'd have liked to have seen him
end his days happily among the hens, a-treading of them. Joseph felt he
had not rightly understood her, and when he inquired out her meaning
from her, she told it with so repulsive a leer that he could not conquer
a sudden dislike. He moved away from her immediately and asked her no
more questions.

More cocks were set to fight, and they fought to the death always: only
once did a cock turn tail and refuse to continue the combat. To persuade
him to be brave, the slave in charge placed him breast to breast with
his adversary, but despite all encouragement he turned tail and hid
himself in the netting. Now what will happen to him? Joseph asked. First
he'll be cut and then fattened for the spit or the gridiron, the Heeler
answered. Look, young Master, and turning his eyes whither the Heeler's
finger pointed, Joseph saw the bird's owner sign to the slave that he
was to twist the bird's neck; which was done, and the poltroon went into
a basket by himself--he did not deserve to be with those that had been
slain in combat.

The ring was now covered with blood and feathers, and two slaves came
with buckets of water and brushes to clean it, and while this office was
being performed many fell to drinking from flasks which their slaves
handed to them. The man who had told his slave to wring his cock's neck
regretted that he had done so. The merited punishment would have been
to hand the bird over to a large ape, that would have plucked the bird
feather by feather, examining each feather curiously before selecting
the next one; and he swore a great oath by Jupiter and then, as if to
annoy the Jews, by Jehovah, that the next of his birds that refused
combat should be served this way. Our master will not put us on the
cross for so misjudging a bird's courage, Joseph heard the Heeler say;
and Lydia sidled up against Joseph, and it was her thigh as much as the
memory of the oaths he had heard uttered and that were being uttered and
that would be uttered again as soon as the fighting commenced that set
him thinking of Azariah scanning the tally on the wall--vowing that he
would teach him no more; but the tally, which Joseph knew well, showed
that he had not missed an hour for many months. But a whole day's
absence was something more than any truancy he had ever indulged in
before, and the only reason he could give for it would be the
inacceptable one that the cockers had bidden a demon take possession of
him.

Another pair of cocks was already in the ring: two young birds trained
to the finest distinction, and they sparred so lustily that even the
experts could not predict the victor. But there was no heart in Joseph
for more cock-fighting, and he viewed with disgust the mean vile faces
that leered at him while he thanked them for the occasion which he owed
them of overlooking so much fine sport. But they were a scurvy lot,
viler than he had supposed, though he had suspected from the first that
they were nurturing some trick against him. And he searched himself, for
he would willingly give them money to be rid of them. But how much will
they accept? he asked himself, as he searched his pockets ... his money
was gone! Stolen, no doubt, but by whom? By the cockers standing around
him, quarrelling and railing at each other, levelling accusations right
and left--the Heeler wrangling with Lydia, saying it was she that had
asked the young penniless to come with them. A mercy it was that he
didn't call me a ragamuffin, Joseph said to himself. He was not without
some apprehension that they might detain him till a ransom was paid, and
right glad to perceive himself free to go: having gotten his money they
wished to be rid of him quietly; and he too, wishing to avoid attracting
attention, slunk out of Tiberias without laying complaint before the
magistrate.

It was unlikely that his money would be found upon the thieves and his
father would be very angry indeed if he were obliged to go to Tiberias
to bear witness to the truth of his story that his son, while on his way
to his tutor's--Joseph stopped to consider the eventualities, and he
heard in imagination the tale unfolding. Azariah might be called! And if
he were, he would tell he had been kept waiting all day, and the jealous
neighbours would be glad to send round to commiserate with his father.
It seemed to Joseph that he had escaped lightly with the loss of a few
shekels. But what reason should he give for coming home so late? He'd
have to say where he had spent the day. Azariah would tell of his
absence from his lessons. Ah, if he had foreseen all these worries, he
wouldn't have gone to Tiberias.... Should he say he had been out fishing
on the lake? The fishers would not betray him, but they might; and he
could not bring himself to tell his father a lie. So did he argue with
himself as he walked, saying that he had not done worse than--But what
had happened at home? Something must have happened, for the gates were
open. The gate-keeper, where was he? And his wonder increased as he
reached the house, for all the servants seemed to be running to and fro.
The Lord be praised for sending you back to us! they exclaimed. You
thought then that the Lord had taken me from you? Joseph asked, and the
man replied that they had been searching for him all day--sending
messengers hither and thither, and that in the afternoon a boat had
hoisted sail and put out for the fishing fleet, thinking that Simon
Peter might be able to give tidings of Master Joseph. But why all this
fuss? Joseph said, because I come home a little later than usual. Your
father, Master Joseph, is beside himself, and your grandmother--Joseph
left the man with the end of the sentence on his tongue.

So you've returned at last! his father cried on seeing him, and began at
once to tell the anxiety he had suffered. Nor was Rachel without her
word, and between their reproofs it was some time before Joseph began to
apprehend the cause of the tumult: Azariah had laid a long complaint of
truancy! As to that, Joseph answered tartly, he has little to complain
of. And he spoke of the pact between them, relating that seven or eight
months before he had promised Azariah not to be past his time by five
minutes. Look to his tally, Father: it will tell that I have kept my
word for eight months and more and would have kept it for the year
if--Be mindful of what he is saying to thee, Dan. Look well to the tally
before condemning, Rachel cried. Wouldst have it then, woman, Azariah
lied to me? Not lied, but was carried beyond himself in a great heat of
passion at being kept waiting, Rachel answered. He said that he enjoyed
teaching thee, Joseph, God having granted thee a good intelligence and
ways of comprehension. But he couldn't abide seeing thee waste thy time
and his. We're willing and ready to hear about this absence and the
cause of it, Dan interposed. So get on with the story: where hast thou
been? Out with it, boy. Where hast thou been?

The bare question could only be met by the bare answer: watching a
cock-fight in Tiberias; and to save his parents from much
misunderstanding, he said he must begin at the beginning. Dan would have
liked a straight answer, but Rachel said the boy should be suffered to
tell his story his own way; and Joseph told a fine tale, the purport of
which was that he had sought for a by-way to Tiberias, the large lanes
being beset by acrobats, zanies, circus riders and the like, and had
found one through Argob orchard and had followed it daily without
meeting anyone for many months, but this morning as he came through the
trees he had caught sight of an encampment; some cockers on their way to
Tiberias, where a great main was to be fought. And it was the cocks of
Pamphilia that had--He stopped, for the great change that had come over
his parents' faces set him wondering if his conduct was as shameful as
their faces seemed to affirm. He could not see that he had sinned
against the law by going to Tiberias, though he had associated himself
with Gentiles and for a whole day ... he had eaten in their company, but
not of any forbidden meat. And while Joseph sought to mitigate his
offence to himself, his father sat immersed in woe, his head in his
hands. What calamity, he cried, has fallen on my house, and how have I
sinned, O Lord, that punishment should fall upon me, and that my own son
should be chosen to mete out my punishment? My house is riven from
rafter to foundation stone. But, Father, at most--It seemed useless to
plead. He stood apart; his grandmother stood silent and grave, not
understanding fully, and Joseph foresaw that he could not count upon
her to side with him against his father. But if his father would only
tell him if he had sinned against the law, instead of rending his
garments, he would do all the law commanded to obtain forgiveness. Was
there, he asked, anything in the law against cock-fighting? or in the
traditions? It was a pastime of the heathen: he knew that, and had hoped
a day of fasting might be suggested to him, but if this offence was more
serious than he had supposed he besought his father to say so. Tell me,
Father, have I sinned against the law?

The question seemed to exasperate his father who at last cried out: of
what value may be thy Hebrew studies and a knowledge of the language, if
the law be not studied with Azariah? Does not the Book of Leviticus ever
lie open before thee? How has the law been affronted? The law given by
the Lord unto Moses. My own son asks me this. "And if a soul sin and
hear the voice swearing and is a witness whether he has sinned or known
of it, if he did not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity." Was
there no swearing at thy cock-fight? Plenty, I reckon. All day was spent
listening to swearing, hearing the name of the Lord taken in vain: a
name we don't dare to pronounce ourselves. Joseph sat dumbfounded. So
Azariah never taught thee the law? All the time goes by wasted in the
reading of Greek plays. We read Hebrew and speak it, Joseph answered,
and it was your wish that I should learn Greek. And, Father, is there
any reason to worry over a loss of repute? For my sin will be known to
nobody but God, unless told by thee, and thou'lt keep it secret. Or told
by Azariah, Dan answered moodily, who never teaches the law, but likes
Greek plays better. Well, thou shalt hear the law from me to-night, for
I can read Hebrew, not, belike, as well as Azariah, but I can read
Hebrew all the same. Mother, hand me down the Scriptures from the shelf.



CHAP. IV.


Well, Dan, you must make up your mind whether you are going to look out
for one who will teach him better, or let him remain with Azariah, who
likes teaching him, for he is a clever but oft-times an idle boy. I
don't know that I should have said idle, she added, and sat thinking of
what word would describe Joseph's truancy better than idle, without,
however, finding the word she needed, and her thoughts floated away into
a long consideration of her son's anger, for she could see he was angry
with Azariah. But the cause of his anger she could not discover. It
could not be that he was annoyed with Azariah for coming to complain
that he was often kept waiting: and it was on her tongue to ask him why
he was so gloomy, why he knitted his brows and bit his lips. But she
held back the question, for it would not be long before Dan would let
out his secret: he could not keep one. And Dan, knowing well his own
weakness and his mother's shrewdness (she would soon be guessing what
was passing in his mind), began to animadvert on Azariah for his
residence in Tiberias, a pagan city--his plan for leading her on a false
trail. Others, he said, spoke more unfavourably than he did; and he
continued in this strain until Rachel, losing patience, interrupted him
suddenly saying that Azariah did not live in Tiberias. If not in
Tiberias, he answered, in a suburb, and within a stone's throw of the
city walls. But what has that got to do with Joseph? Rachel asked. What
has it got to do with Joseph! Dan growled, when to reach the scribe's
house he has to pass through lanes infested with the off-scourings of
the pagan world: mummers, zanies, jugglers, dancers, whores from
Babylon. Did ye not hear him, woman, describe these lanes, saying that
he had to change his course three times so that he might keep his
promise to Azariah, and are ye not mindful that he told me, and you
sitting there listening on that very stool, that the showmen he met in
Argob orchard put a spell upon him, and that it was the demon that had
obtained temporary lodgment in him that had bidden him to Tiberias to
see the cock-fight: Jews from Alexandria, heretics, adventurers,
beggars, aliens! Look ye here, Dan, Rachel said, he is a proud boy and
may thank thee little for--There are others to teach him, Dan
interrupted, and continued to walk up and down the room, for he wished
to make an end of this talk with his mother. But he hadn't crossed the
room twice when he was brought to a full stop, having remembered
suddenly that it is always by such acts as he was now meditating that
fathers lose the affections of their sons. If he were to drag Joseph
away from Azariah, from whom he was learning Hebrew and Greek, Joseph
might begin to look upon him as a tyrant. His mother was a sharp-witted
woman, and very little was needed to set her thinking. She had an
irritating way of looking as it were into his mind, and if she were to
suspect him of jealousy of Azariah he would never have a moment's peace
again.

But what in the world may we understand from all this bear-dancing up
and down the room? asked Rachel. Ye must know if you are going to
withdraw the boy from his schooling.

Dan cast an angry glance at his mother and hated her; and then his heart
misgave him, for he knew that he lacked courage to take Joseph out of
his present schooling, and dared not divide his house against himself,
or do anything that might lose him his son's love and little by little
cause himself to be looked upon as a tyrant. He knew himself to be a
weak man, except in the counting-house; he knew it, and must stifle his
jealousy of Azariah, who had forgiven Joseph his truancy and was the
only one that knew of the excursion into Tiberias. But Azariah's
indulgence did not altogether please him. He began to suspect it and to
doubt if he had acted wisely in not ordering Joseph away from Azariah:
for Azariah was robbing him, robbing him of all that he valued in this
world, his son! And it seemed to him a little later in the day, as he
closed his ledger, that he had come to be disregarded in his own house;
and he thought he would have liked much better to stay away, to dine in
the counting-house, urging a press of business. The first thing he would
hear would be "Azariah." The hated name was never off the boy's lips: he
talked of nothing else but Azariah and Hebrew and Greek and the learned
Jews whom he met at Azariah's house.

Dan sat looking into the dusk asking himself if his bargain were not
that his son should learn the Greek language but not Greek literature,
which is full of heresy, he said to himself; and he returned home
determined to raise the point; but Joseph told him, and he thought
rather abruptly, that it was only through Greek literature that one
could learn Greek in Tiberias--the spoken language was a dialect.

It may have been that Joseph perceived that praise of Azariah caused his
father to writhe a little, and--curious to observe the effect--he spoke
more of Azariah than he would have done otherwise, and laid an accent on
his master's learning, and related incidents in which his master
appeared to great advantage, causing his father much perplexity and pain
of mind, till at last, unable to bear the torture any longer, he
said--the words slipped from him incontinently--you're no better than a
little Azariah! and, unable to contain himself, he rushed from the room,
leaving Joseph and Rachel to discuss his vehemence and discover motives
which he hoped would not include the right one. But afraid that he had
betrayed his jealousy of Azariah he returned, and to mislead his mother
and son he began to speak of the duty of the pupil to the master,
telling Joseph he must submit himself to Azariah in everything: by
representing Azariah as one in full authority he hoped to overcome his
influence and before many months had passed over a different accent was
notable in Joseph's voice when he spoke of Azariah; but he continued
with him for two more years. And it was then that Dan set himself to
devise plans to end his son's studies in Hebrew and Greek.

Joseph knows now all that Azariah can teach him, and it is high time
that I took him in hand and taught him his trade. But though determined
to rid himself of Azariah he felt he must proceed gently (if possible,
in conjunction with his mother); he must wait for an occasion; and while
he was watching for one it fell out that Joseph wearied of Azariah and
went to his father saying that he had learnt Hebrew and could speak
Greek, so there was no use in his returning to Azariah any more. At
first his parents could only think that he had; quarrelled with Azariah,
but it was not so, they soon discovered that he had merely become tired
of him--a change that betokened a capricious mind. A growing boy is full
of fancies, Rachel said: an explanation that Dan deemed sufficient, and
he was careful not to speak against Azariah lest he should turn his
son's thoughts back on Greek literature, or Greek philosophy, which is
more pernicious even than the literature. He did not dare to ask Joseph
to come down to the counting-house, afraid lest by trying to influence
him in one direction he might influence him in the opposite direction.
He deemed it better to leave everything to fate, and while putting his
trust in God Dan applied himself to meditate on the young man's
character and his tastes, which seemed to have taken a sudden turn; for,
to his father's surprise, Joseph had begun to put questions to him about
the sale of fish, and to speak of visiting Tyre and Sidon with a view to
establishing branch houses--extensions of their business. His father,
while approving of this plan, pointed out that Tyre and Sidon being
themselves on the coast of the sea could never be as good customers as
inland cities, sea fish being considered, he thought mistakenly,
preferable to lake. He had been doing, it is true, a fair trade with
Damascus, but whereas it was impossible to reckon on Damascus it seemed
to him that their industry might be extended in many other directions.
And delighted with the change that had come over his son he said that he
would have tried long ago to extend his business, if he had had
knowledge of the Greek language.

He spoke of Heliopolis, and proposed to Joseph that he should go there
and establish a mart for salt fish as soon as he had mastered all the
details of the trade, which would be soon: a very little application in
the counting-house would be enough for a clever fellow like Joseph.

As he said these words his eyes met Rachel's, and as soon as Joseph left
the room she asked him if he believed that Joseph would settle down to
the selling of salt fish: a question which was not agreeable to Dan, who
was at that moment settling himself into the conviction that Joseph had
begun to evince an aptitude for trade that he himself did not acquire
till many years older, causing him to flame up as might be expected
against his mother, telling her that her remarks were most mischievous,
whether she meant them or not. He hoped Joseph was not the young man
that she saw in him. Before he could say any more Joseph returned, and
linked his arm into his father's, and the twain went away together to
the counting-house, Dan enamoured of his son but just a little afraid
all the same that Joseph might weary of trade in the end, just as he had
wearied of learning. He was moved to speak his fear to Joseph, but on
consideration he resolved that no good could come of such confidences,
and on the evening of the first day in the counting-house he whispered
to Rachel that Joseph had taken to trade as a duck to the water, as the
saying is.

Day after day he watched his son's progress in administration, saying
nothing, waiting for the head clerk to endorse his opinion that there
were the makings of a first-rate man in Joseph. He was careful not to
ask any leading questions, but he could not refrain from letting the
conversation drop, so that the clerk might have an opportunity of
expressing his opinion of Master Joseph's business capacities. But the
clerk made no remark: it might as well have been that Joseph was not in
the counting-house; Dan had begun to hate his clerk, who had been with
him for thirty years. He had brought him from Arimathea and couldn't
dismiss him; he could only look into his eyes appealingly. At last the
clerk spoke, and his words were like manna in the desert; and,
overjoyed, Dan wondered how it was that he could have refrained so long.
It was concerning a certain falling off in an order: if Master Joseph
were to go on a circuit through the Greek cities--Dan could have thrown
his arms about his clerk for these words, but it were better to
dissimulate. You think then that Joseph understands the business
sufficiently? The clerk acquiesced, and it was a great day, of course,
the day Joseph went forth; and in a few weeks Dan had proof that his
confidence in his son's business aptitudes was not misplaced. Joseph
showed himself to be suited to the enterprise by his engaging manner as
well as by his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, the two languages
procuring him an admission into the confidences of Jew and Gentile
alike.

The length of these excursions was from three to four weeks, and when
Joseph returned home for an interval his parents disputed as to whether
he should spend his holiday in the counting-house or the dwelling-house.
So to avoid giving offence to either, and for his own pleasure Joseph
often spent these days on the boats with the fishers, learning their
craft from them, losing himself often in meditations how the draught of
fishes might be increased by a superior kind of net: interested in his
trade far too much, Rachel said. His mind seemed bent on it always;
whereas she would have liked to have heard him tell of all the countries
he had been to and of all the people he had seen, but it was always
about salt fish that he was talking: how many barrels had gone to this
town, and how many barrels to another, and the new opening he had
discovered for salt fish in a village the name of which he had never
heard before.

Rachel's patience with Joseph was long but at last she lost patience and
said she would be glad when the last barrel of salt fish came out of the
lake, for it would not be till then that they would have time to live
their lives in peace and comfort. She gathered up her knitting and was
going to bed, but Joseph would not suffer her to go. He said he had
stories to tell her, and he fell to telling of the several preachers he
had heard in the synagogues, and his voice beguiled the evening away so
pleasantly that Rachel let her knitting drop into her lap and sat
looking at her grandson, stupefied and transported with love.

Dan's love for his son was more tender in these days than it had ever
been before, but Rachel looked back, thinking the old days were better,
when Joseph used to come from Azariah's talking about his studies. It
may be that Dan, forgetful of his jealousy, looked back to those days
gone over with a certain wistfulness. A boy is, if not more interesting,
at least more unexpected, than a young man. In the old days Dan did not
know what sort of son God had given him, but now he knew that God had
given him the son he always desired, and that Azariah's tending of the
boy's character had been kind, wise and salutary, as the flower and
fruit showed. But in the deepest peace there is disquiet, and in the
relation of his adventures Joseph had begun to display interest in
various interpretations of Scripture which he had heard in the
synagogues--true that he laughed at these, but he had met learned
heretics from Alexandria in Azariah's house. Dan often wondered if these
had not tried to impregnate his mind with their religious theories and
doctrines, for being without religious interests, Dan was strictly
orthodox.

He did not suspect Azariah, whom he knew to be withal orthodox, as much
as Azariah's friend, Apollonius, the Alexandrian Jew. But though he kept
his ears open for the slightest word he could not discover any trace of
his influence. If his discourse had had any effect, it was to make
Joseph more than ever a Pharisee. He was sometimes even inclined to
think that Joseph was a little too particular, laying too much stress
upon the practice of minute observances, and he began to apprehend that
there was something of the Scribe in Joseph after all. The significance
of his mother's words becoming suddenly clear to Dan, he asked himself
if it were not yet within the width of a finger that Joseph would tire
of trade and retire to Jerusalem and expound the law and the traditions
in the Temple. His vocation, Dan was of opinion, could not yet be
predicted with any certainty: he might go either way--to trade or to
religious learning--and in the midst of these meditations on his son's
character Dan remembered that some friends had come to see Joseph at the
counting-house yesterday. Joseph had taken them out into the yard and
they had talked together, but it was not of the export of salt fish they
had spoken, but of the observances of the Sabbath. Dan had listened, pen
in hand, his thoughts suspended, and had heard them devote many minutes
to the question whether a man should dip himself in the nearest brook if
he had accidentally touched a pig. He had heard them discuss at length
the grace that should be used before eating fruit from a tree, and
whether it were necessary to say three graces after eating three kinds
of fruit at one meal. He had heard one ask if a sheep that had been
killed with a Greek knife could be eaten, and he had heard Joseph ask
him if he knew the sheep had been killed with a Greek knife and the man
confess that he had not made inquiry. If he had known--

Dan did not hear the end of the sentence, but imagined that it ended in
a gesture of abhorrence. In his day religion was limited to the law of
Moses, a skein well combed out, but the Scribes in Jerusalem had knotted
and twisted the skein. He had heard Joseph maintain, and stiffly too,
that an egg laid on the day after the Sabbath could not be eaten,
because it had been prepared by the hen on the Sabbath. But one can't
always be watching hens, he said to himself, and the discussion of such
points seeming to him unmanly, he drew back the window-curtain and fell
into admiration of his son's slim loins and great shoulders. Joseph was
laughing with his companions at that moment and his teeth glistened,
every one white and shapely. Why do such discussions interest him? Dan
asked, for his eyes are soft as flowers; and he envied the woman that
Joseph would resort unto in the night. But very often men like Joseph
did not marry, and a new disquietude arose in his mind: he wanted
children, grandchildren. In a few years Joseph should begin to look
round.... Meanwhile it might be well to tell him that men like Hillel
had always held that it is after the spirit rather than the letter we
should strive, and that in running after the latter we are apt to lose
the former, and he accepted the first opportunity to admonish Joseph,
who listened in amazement, wondering what had befallen his father, whom
he had never heard speak like this before. All the same he hearkened to
these warnings and laid them in his memory, and fell to considering his
father as one who had just jogged along the road that he and his
ancestors had come by, without much question. But if his father had set
himself to consider religions, and with that seriousness they deserved,
he would not keep back any longer the matter on which he had long
desired to speak to him.

The young men to whom he had just bidden good-bye were all going to
Jerusalem, whither Dan was accustomed to go every year for the Feast of
the Passover, but last year the journey thither had fatigued him unduly,
and it seemed to Joseph that this year he should go to Jerusalem in his
father's place; and when he broached the subject, Dan, who had been
thinking for some time that he was not feeling strong enough for this
journey, welcomed Joseph's proposal--a most proper presence Joseph's
would be at the Feast. Joseph had come to the age when he should visit
Jerusalem, but he did not readily understand this sudden enthusiasm. If
he wanted to go to Jerusalem to the Feast of the Passover, why had he
not said so before? And Dan, whose thoughts reached back to the
discussion overheard in the yard, was compelled to ask Joseph if it were
for the purpose of discussing the value of certain minute points of law
that he wished to go to Jerusalem. At which Joseph was astonished that
his father should have asked him such a thing.... Yet why not? For
awhile back he was discussing such very points with some young gossips.
His tongue wagged as was its wont on all occasions, though his mind was
away and he suddenly stopped speaking; and when the stirring of his
father's feet on the floor awakened him, he saw his father sitting pen
in hand watching him and no doubt asking himself of what great and
wonderful thing his son was thinking.

Once again actuality disappeared. He stood engulfed in memories of
things heard in Azariah's house: or things only half heard, for he had
never thought of them since. The words of the Jews he met there had
fallen dead at the time, but now he remembered things that had passed
over his mind. The heresies of the Jews in Alexandria awoke in him, and
a marvellous longing awoke to see the world. First of all he must begin
with Jerusalem, and he bade his father good-bye with an eagerness not
too pleasant to the old man.



CHAP. V.


Gone to the study of the law! Dan said, as he walked up and down the
room, glancing often into Joseph's letter, for it figured to him the
Temple with the Scribes meditating on the law, or discussing it with
each other while their wives remained at home doing the work. So do
their lives pass over, he said, in the study of the law. Nothing else is
to them of any worth.... My poor boy hopes that I shall forgive him for
not returning home after the Feast of the Passover! Does he suspect that
I would prefer him indifferent to the law in Magdala, rather than
immersed in it at Jerusalem? A little surprised and shocked at the
licentiousness of his thoughts, he drew them into order with the
admission that it is better in every way that a young man should go to
Jerusalem early in his life and acquire reverence for the ritual and
traditions of his race, else he will drift later on into heresy, or
maybe go to live in cities like Tiberias, amongst statues. But why do I
trouble myself like this? For there was a time before I had a son, and
the time is getting very close now when I shall lose him. And Dan stood
swallowed up in the thought of the great gulf into which precarious
health would soon pitch him out of sight of Joseph for ever. It was
Rachel coming into the room that awoke him. She too! he muttered. He
began to fuss about, seeking for writing materials, for he was now
intent to send Joseph a letter of recommendation to the High Priest,
having already forgotten the gulf that awaited him, in the pleasurable
recollection of the courtesy and consideration he received from the most
distinguished men the last time he was in Jerusalem--from Hanan the son
of Seth and father-in-law of Kaiaphas: Kaiaphas was now High Priest, the
High Priest of that year; but in truth, Hanan, who had been High Priest
before him, retained all the power and importance of the office and was
even called the High Priest. Dan remembered that he had been received
with all the homage due to a man of wealth. He liked his wealth to be
acknowledged, for it was part of himself: he had created it; and it was
with pride that he continued his letter to Hanan recommending his son to
him, saying that anything that was done to further Joseph's interests
would be a greater favour than any that could be conferred on himself.

The letter was sent off by special messenger and Joseph was enjoined to
carry it himself at once to Hanan, which he did, since it was his
father's pleasure that he should do so. He would have preferred to be
allowed to pick his friends from among the people he met casually, but
since this was not to be he assumed the necessary reverence and came
forward in the proper spirit to meet Hanan, who expressed himself as
entirely gratified by Joseph's presence in Jerusalem and promised to
support his election for the Sanhedrin. But if the councillors reject
me? For you see I am still a young man. The innocency of Joseph's remark
pleased Hanan, who smiled over it, expressing a muttered hope that the
Sanhedrin would not take upon itself the task of discussing the merits
and qualifications of those whom he should deem worthy to present for
election. The great man purred out these sentences, Joseph's remark
having reminded him of his exalted position. But thinking his remark
had nettled Hanan, Joseph said: you see I have only just come to
Jerusalem; and this remark continued the flattery, and with an impulsive
movement Hanan took Joseph's hands and spoke to him about his father in
terms that made Joseph feel very proud of Dan, and also of being in
Jerusalem, which had already begun to seem to him more wonderful than he
had imagined it to be: and he had imagined it very wonderful indeed. But
there was a certain native shrewdness in Joseph; and after leaving the
High Priest's place he had not taken many steps before he began to see
through Hanan's plans: which no doubt are laid with the view to impress
me with the magnificence of Jerusalem and its priesthood. He walked a
few yards farther, and remembered that there are always dissensions
among the Jews, and that the son of a rich man (one of first-rate
importance in Galilee) would be a valuable acquisition to the priestly
caste.

But though he saw through Hanan's designs, he was still the dupe of
Hanan, who was a clever man and a learned man; his importance loomed up
very large, and Joseph could not be without a hero, true or false; so it
could not be otherwise than that Hanan and Kaiaphas and the Sadducees,
whom Joseph met in the Sanhedrin and whose houses he frequented,
commanded his admiration for several months and would have held it for
many months more, had it not been that he happened to be a genuinely
religious man, concerned much more with an intimate sense of God than
with the slaying of bullocks and rams.

He had accepted the sacrifices as part of a ritual which should not be
questioned and which he had never questioned: yet, without discussion,
without argument, they fell in his estimation without pain, as naturally
as a leaf falls. A friend quoted to him a certain well-known passage in
Isaiah, and not the whole of it: only a few words; and from that moment
the Temple, the priests and the sacrifices became every day more
distasteful to him than they were the day before, setting him pondering
on the mind of the man who lives upon religion while laughing in his
beard at his dupe; he contrasted him with the fellow that drives in his
beast for slaughter and pays his yearly dole; he remembered how he loved
the prophets instinctively though the priests always seemed a little
alien, even before he knew them. Yet he never imagined them to be as far
from true religion (which is the love of God) as he found them; for they
did not try to conceal their scepticism from him: knowing him to be a
friend of the High Priest, it had seemed to them that they might indulge
their wit as they pleased, and once he had even to reprove some priests,
so blasphemous did their jests appear to him. An unusually fat bullock
caused them to speak of the fine regalement he would be to Jahveh's
nostrils. One sacristan, mentioning the sacred name, figured Jahveh as
pressing forward with dilated nostrils. There is no belly in heaven, he
said: its joys are entirely olfactory, and when this beast is smoking,
Jahveh will call down the angels Michael and Gabriel. As if not
satisfied with this blasphemy, as if it were not enough, he turned to
the sacristans by him, to ask them if they could not hear the angels
sniffing as they leaned forward out of their clouds. My priests are
doing splendidly: the fat of this beast is delicious in our nostrils;
were the words he attributed to Jahveh. Michael and Gabriel, he said,
would reply: it is indeed as thou sayest, Sire!

Joseph marvelled that priests could speak like this, and tried to forget
the vile things they said, but they were unforgettable: he treasured
them in his heart, for he could not do else, and when he did speak, it
was at first cautiously, though there was little need for caution; for
he found to his surprise that everybody knew that the Sadducees did not
believe in a future life and very little in the dogma that the Jews were
the sect chosen by God, Jahveh. He was their God and had upheld the
Jewish race, but for all practical purposes it was better to put their
faith henceforth in the Romans, who would defend Jerusalem against all
barbarians. It was necessary to observe the Sabbath and to preach its
observances and to punish those who violated it, for on the Sabbath
rested the entire superstructure of the Temple itself, and all belief
might topple if the Sabbath was not maintained, and rigorously. In the
houses of the Sadducees Joseph heard these very words, and their crude
scepticism revolted his tender soul: he was drawn back to his own sect,
the Pharisees, for however narrow-minded and fanatical they might be he
could not deny to them the virtue of sincerity. It was with a delightful
sense of community of spirit that he returned to them, and in the
conviction that it would be well to let pass without protest the
observances which himself long ago in Galilee began to look upon with
amusement.

A sudden recollection of the discussion that had arisen in the yard
behind the counting-house, whether an egg could be eaten if it had been
laid the day after the Sabbath, brought a smile to his face, but a
different smile from of yore, for he understood now better than he had
understood then, that this (in itself a ridiculous) question was no
more serious than a bramble that might for a moment entangle the garment
of a wayfarer: of little account was the delay, if the feet were on the
right road. Now the scruple of conscience that the question had awakened
might be considered as a desire to live according to a law which,
observed for generations, had become part of the national sense and
spirit. On this he fell to thinking that it is only by laws and
traditions that we may know ourselves--whence we have come and whither
we are going. He attributed to these laws and traditions the love of the
Jewish race for their God, and their desire to love God, and to form
their lives in obedience to what they believed to be God's will. Without
these rites and observances their love of God would not have survived.
It was not by exaggeration of these laws but by the scepticism of the
Sadducees that the Temple was polluted. If the priests degraded religion
and made a vile thing of it, there were others that ennobled the Temple
by their piety.

And as these thoughts passed through Joseph's mind, his eyes went to the
simple folk who never asked themselves whether they were Sadducees or
Pharisees, but were content to pray around the Temple that the Lord
would not take them away till they witnessed the triumph of Israel,
never asking if the promised resurrection would be obtained in this
world--if not in each individual case, by the race itself--or whether
they would all be lifted by angels out of their graves and carried away
by them into a happy immortality.

The simple folk on whom Joseph's eyes rested favourably, prayed,
untroubled by difficult questions: they were content to love God; and,
captured by their simple unquestioning faith, which he felt to be the
only spiritual value in this world, he was glad to turn away from both
Sadducees and Pharisees and mix with them. Sometimes, and to his great
regret, he brought about involuntarily the very religious disputations
that it was his object to quit for ever when he withdrew himself from
the society of the Pharisees. A chance word was enough to set some of
them by the ears, asking each other whether the soul may or can descend
again into the corruptible body; and it was one day when this question
was being disputed that a disputant, pressing forward, announced his
belief that the soul, being alone immortal, does not attempt to regain
the temple of the body. A doctrine which astonished Joseph, so simple
did it seem and so reasonable; and as he stood wondering why he had not
thought of it himself, his eyes telling his perplexity, he was awakened
from his dream, and his awakening was caused by the word "Essene." He
asked for a meaning to be put upon it, to the great astonishment of the
people, who were not aware that the fame of this third sect of the Jews
was not yet spread into Galilee. There were many willing to instruct
him, and almost the first thing he learnt about them was that they were
not viewed with favour in Jerusalem, for they did not send animals to
the Temple for sacrifice, deeming blood-letting a crime. A still more
fundamental tenet of this sect was its denial of private property: all
they had, belonged to one brother as much as to another, and they lived
in various places, avoiding cities, and setting up villages of their own
accord; notably one on the eastern bank of the Jordan, from whence
recruiting missionaries sometimes came forth, for the Essenes disdained
marriage, and relied on proselytism for the maintenance of the order.
The rule of the Essenes, however, did not exclude marriage because they
believed the end of the world was drawing nigh, but because they wished
to exclude all pleasure from life. To do this, to conceive the duty of
man to be a cheerful exclusion of all pleasure, seemed to Joseph
wonderful, an exaltation of the spirit that he had not hitherto believed
man to be capable of: and one night, while thinking of these things, he
fell on a resolve that he would go to Jericho on the morrow to see for
himself if all the tales he heard about the brethren were true. At the
same time he looked forward to getting away from the seven windy hills
where the sun had not been seen for days, only grey vapour coiling and
uncoiling and going out, and where, with a patter of rain in his ears,
he was for many days crouching up to a fire for warmth.

But in Jericho he would be as it were back in Galilee: a pleasant winter
resort, to be reached easily in a day by a path through the hills, so
plainly traced by frequent usage that a guide was not needed. A servant
he could not bring with him, for none was permitted in the cenoby, a
different mode and colour of life prevailing there from any he ever
heard of, but he hoped to range himself to it, and--thinking how this
might be done--he rode round the hillside, coming soon into view of
Bethany over against the desert. From thence he proceeded by long
descents into a land tossed into numberless hills and torn up into such
deep valleys that it seemed to him to be a symbol of God's anger in a
moment of great provocation. Or maybe, he said to himself, these valleys
are the ruts of the celestial chariot that passed this way to take
Elijah up to heaven? Or maybe ... His mind was wandering, and--forgetful
of the subject of his meditation--he looked round and could see little
else but strange shapes of cliffs and boulders, rocks and lofty scarps
enwrapped in mist so thick that he fell to thinking whence came the
fume? For rocks are breathless, he said, and there are only rocks here,
only rocks and patches of earth in which the peasants sow patches of
barley. At that moment his mule slid in the slime of the path to within
a few inches of a precipice, and Joseph uttered a cry before the gulf
which startled a few rain-drenched crows that went away cawing, making
the silence more melancholy than before. A few more inches, Joseph
thought, and we should have been over, though a mule has never been
known to walk or to slide over a precipice. A moment after, his mule was
climbing up a heap of rubble; and when they were at the top Joseph
looked over the misted gulf, thinking that if the animal had crossed his
legs mule and rider would both be at the bottom of a ravine by now. And
the crows that my cry startled, he said, would soon return, scenting
blood. He rode on, thinking of the three crows, and when he returned to
himself the mule was about to pass under a projecting rock, regardless,
he thought, of the man on his back, but the sagacious animal had taken
his rider's height into his consideration, so it seemed, for at least
three inches were to spare between Joseph's head and the rock. Nor did
the mule's sagacity end here; for finding no trace of the path on the
other side he started to climb the steep hill as a goat might,
frightening Joseph into a tug or two at the bridle, to which the mule
gave no heed but continued the ascent with conviction and after a little
circuit among intricate rocks turned down the hill again and slid into
the path almost on his haunches. A wonderful animal truly! Joseph said,
marvelling greatly; he guessed that the path lay under the mass of
rubble come down in some landslip. He knew he would meet it farther on:
he may have been this way before. A wonderful animal all the same, a
perfect animal, if he could be persuaded not to walk within ten inches
of the brink! and Joseph drew the mule away to the right, under the
hillside, but a few minutes after, divining that his rider's thoughts
were lost in those strange argumentations common to human beings, the
mule returned to the brink, out of reach of any projecting rocks. He was
happily content to follow the twisting road, giving no faintest
attention to the humped hills always falling into steep valleys and
always rising out of steep valleys, as round and humped as the hills
that were left behind. Joseph noticed the hills, but the mule did not:
he only knew the beginning and the end of his journey, whereas Joseph
began very soon to be concerned to learn how far they were come, and as
there was nobody about who could tell him he reined up his mule, which
began to seek herbage--a dandelion, an anemone, a tuft of wild
rosemary--while his rider meditated on the whereabouts of the inn. The
road, he said, winds round the highest of these hills, reaching at last
a tableland half-way between Jerusalem and Jericho, and on the top of it
is the inn. We shall see it as soon as yon cloud lifts.



CHAP. VI.


A few wanderers loitered about the inn: they came from Mount Sinai, so
the innkeeper said; he mentioned that they had a camel and an ass in the
paddock; and Joseph was surprised by the harshness with which the
innkeeper rushed from him and told the wanderers that they waited in
vain.

They were strange and fierce, remote like the desert, whence they had
come; and he was afraid of them like the innkeeper, but began to pity
them when he heard that they had not tasted food for a fortnight, only a
little camel's milk. They're waiting for me to give them the rinsings,
the innkeeper said, if any should remain at the bottom of the barrel:
you see, all water has to be brought to the inn in an ox-cart. There's
no well on the hills and we sell water to those who can afford to pay
for it. Then let the man drink his fill, Joseph answered, and his wife
too. And his eyes examined the woman curiously, for he never saw so mean
a thing before: her small beady eyes were like a rat's, and her skin was
nearly as brown. Twenty years of desert wandering leave them like
mummies, he reflected; and the child, whom the mother enjoined to come
forward and to speak winningly to the rich man, though in her early
teens was as lean and brown and ugly as her mother. Marauders they
sometimes were, but now they seemed so poor that Joseph thought he could
never have seen poverty before, and took pleasure in distributing figs
amongst them. Let them not see your money when you pay me, the innkeeper
said, for half a shekel they would have my life, and many's the time
they'd have had it if Pilate, our governor, had not sent me a guard. The
twain spoke of the new procurator till Joseph mounted his mule. I'll see
that none of them follow you, the innkeeper whispered; and Joseph rode
away down the lower hills, alongside of precipices and through narrow
defiles, following the path, which debouched at last on to a shallow
valley full of loose stones and rocks. I suppose the mule knows best,
Joseph said, and he held the bridle loosely and watched the rain,
regretting that the downpour should have begun in so exposed a place,
but so convinced did the animal seem that the conduct of the journey
should be left entirely to his judgment that it was vain to ask him to
hasten his pace, and he continued to clamber down loose heaps of stones,
seeking every byway unnecessarily, Joseph could not help thinking, but
bringing his rider and himself safely, he was forced to admit, at the
foot of the hills over against Jericho. Another toiling ascent was
begun, and Joseph felt a trickle of rain down his spine, while the mule
seemed to debate with himself whether shelter was to be sought, and
spying a rock a little way up the hillside he trotted straight to it and
entered the cave--the rock projected so far beyond a hill that it might
be called a cave, and better shelter from the rain they could not have
found. A wonderful animal, thou'rt surely, knowing everything, Joseph
said, and the mule shook the rain out of his long ears, and Joseph stood
at the mouth of the cave, watching the rain falling and gathering into
pools among the rocks, wondering the while if this land was cast away
into desert by the power of the Almighty God because of the worship of
the Golden Calf; and then remembering that it was cast into desert for
the sins of the cities of the plain, he said: how could I have thought
else? As soon as this rain ceases we will go up the defile and at the
end of it the lake will lie before us deep down under the Moab
mountains. He remembered too that he would have to reach to the cenoby
before the day was over, or else sleep in Jericho.

The sky seemed to be brightening: at that moment he heard footsteps. He
was unarmed and the hills were infested by robbers. The steps continued
to approach....

His hope was that the man might be some innocent shepherd in search of a
lost ewe: if he were a robber, that he might pass on, unsuspicious of a
traveller seeking shelter from the rain in a cave a little way up the
hillside. The man came into view of the cave and stood for some time in
front of it, his back turned to Joseph, looking round the sky, and then,
like one who has lost hope in the weather, he hastened on his way. As
soon as he was out of sight, Joseph led out his mule, clambered into the
saddle, and digging his heels into the mule's sides, galloped the best
part of a mile till he reached the Roman fort overlooking the valley. If
a robber was to emerge, a Roman soldier would speedily come to his
assistance; but behind him and the fort were some excellent
lurking-places, Joseph thought, for robbers, and again his heels went
into his mule. But this time, as if he knew that haste was no longer
necessary, the mule hitched up his back and jangled his bells so loudly
that again Joseph's heart stood still. He was within sight of Jericho,
but half-way down the descent a group of men were waiting, as if for
travellers. His best chance was to consider them as harmless passengers,
so he rode on, and the beggars--for they were no more--held up maimed
leprous limbs to excite his pity.

He was now within two miles of Jericho, and he rode across the sandy
plain, thinking of the Essenes and the cenoby on the other side of
Jordan. He rode in full meditation, and it was not till he was nigh the
town of Jericho that he attempted to think by which ford he should cross
Jordan: whether by ferry, in which case he must leave his mule in
Jericho; or by a ford higher up the stream, if there was a ford
practicable at this season; which is doubtful, he said to himself, as he
came within view of the swollen river. And he hearkened to one who
declared the river to be dangerous to man and beast: but another told
him differently, and being eager to reach the cenoby he determined to
test the ford.

If the water proved too strong he would return to Jericho, but the mule
plunged forward, and at one moment it was as like as not that the flood
would carry them away into the lake beyond, but Joseph's weight enabled
the animal to keep on his hooves, and the water shallowing suddenly, the
mule reached the opposite bank. It was my weight that saved us, Joseph
said; and dismounting, he waited for the panting animal to recover
breath. We only just did it. The way to the cenoby? he called out to a
passenger along the bank, and was told he must hasten, for the Essenes
did not receive anybody after sunset: which may or may not be true, he
muttered, as he pursued his way, his eyes attracted and amused by the
long shadow that himself and his mule projected over the wintry earth.
He was tempted to tickle the animal's long ears with a view to altering
the silhouette, and then his thoughts ran on into the cenoby and what
might befall him yonder; for that must be it, he said, looking forward
and discovering a small village on the lower slopes of the hills, on the
ground shelving down towards the river.

His mule, scenting food and rest, began to trot, though very tired, and
half-an-hour afterwards Joseph rode into a collection of huts,
grouped--but without design--round a central building which he judged to
be an assembly hall whither the curators, of whom he had heard, met for
the transaction of the business of the community. And no doubt, he said,
it serves for a refectory, for the midday meal which gathers all the
brethren for the breaking of bread. As he was thinking of these things,
one of the brethren laid hands on the bridle and asked him whom he might
be wishing to see; to which question Joseph answered: the Head. The
brother replied: so be it; and tethered the mule to a post at the corner
of the central hut, begging Joseph to enter and seat himself on one of
the benches, of which there were many, and a table long enough to seat
some fifty or sixty.

He recognised the place he was in as the refectory, where the rite of
the breaking of bread was accomplished. To-morrow I shall witness it, he
said, and felt like dancing and singing in his childish eagerness. But
the severity of the hall soon quieted his mood, and he remembered he
must collect his thoughts and prepare his story for recital, for he
would be asked to give an account of himself. As he was preparing his
story, the president entered: a tall man of bulk, with the pallor of age
in his face and in the hand that lifted the black taffeta cap from his
head. The courteousness of the greeting did more than to put Joseph at
his ease, as the saying is. In a few moments he was confiding himself to
this man of kindly dignity, whose voice was low, who seemed to speak
always from the heart, and it was wholly delightful to tell the great
Essene that he was come from Galilee to attend the Feast of the Passover
in his father's place, and that after having allied himself in turn to
the Sadducees and the Pharisees he came to hear of the Essenes: I have
come thither, hoping to find the truth here. You have truthful eyes,
said the president; and, thus encouraged, Joseph told that there were
some in the Temple, the poor who worship God daily with a whole heart.
It was from them, he said, that I heard of your doctrines. Of which you
can have obtained only the merest outline, the president answered; and
perhaps when you know us better our rule may seem too hard for you to
follow, or it may be that you will feel that you are called to worship
God differently from us. But it matters naught how we worship, if our
worship come from the heart.

The word "heart" startled Joseph out of himself, and his eyes falling at
that moment on the Essene he was moved to these words: Father, I could
never disobey thee. Let me stay, put me to the tests. But the tests are
long, the president answered; we would not suffer you to return to
Jericho to-night, even if you wished it. Your mule is tired and would be
swept away by the descending flood. You will remain with us for to-night
and for as long after it as pleases you--to the end of your
probationship and after, if you prove yourself worthy of admission.
Meanwhile you will be given a girdle, a white garment and a little axe.
You will sleep in one of the outlying huts. Come with me and I will take
you round our village. We shall meet on our way some of the brothers
returning from their daily tasks, for we all have a craft: many of us
are husbandmen; the two coming towards us carrying spades are from the
fields, and that one turning down the lane is a shepherd; he has just
folded his flock, but he will return to them with his dogs, for we
suffer a great deal from the ravages of wild beasts with which the woods
are thronged, wolves especially. In our community there are healers, and
these study the medicinal properties of herbs. If you resolve to remain
with us, you will choose a craft.

Joseph mentioned that the only craft he knew was dry-salting, and it was
disappointing to hear that there were no fish in the lake.

There is a long time of probationship before one is admitted, the
president continued, and when that is concluded another long time must
pass over before the proselyte is called to join us at the common
repasts. Before he breaks bread with us he must bind himself by oath to
be always pious towards the Divinity, to observe justice towards men,
and to injure no one voluntarily or by command: to hate always the
unjust and never to shrink from taking part in the conflict on the side
of the just; to show fidelity to all and especially to those who rule.
Thou'lt soon begin to understand that rule doesn't fall to anyone except
by the will of God. I have never deserved to rule, but headship came to
me, he added half sadly, as if he feared he had not been sufficiently
exacting. After asking Joseph whether he felt himself strong enough to
obey so severe a rule, he passed from father to teacher. Every one of
us must love truth and make it his purpose to confute those who speak
falsehood; to keep his hands from stealing and his soul from unjust
gain. He must never conceal anything from a member of the order, nor
reveal its secrets to others, even if he should have to suffer death by
withholding them; and above all, while trying to engage proselytes he
must speak the doctrines only as he has heard them from us. Thou'lt
return perhaps to Jerusalem....

He broke off to speak to the brothers who were passing into the village
from their daily work, and presented Joseph as one who, shocked by the
service of the Sadducees in the Temple, had come desiring admission to
their order. At the news of a new adherent, the faces of the brothers
became joyous; for though the rule seems hard when related, they said,
in practice, even at first, it seems light enough, and soon we do not
feel it at all.

They were now on the outskirts of the village, and pointing to a cabin
the Essene told Joseph that he would sleep there and enter on the morrow
upon his probationship. But, Father, may I not hear more? If a brother
be found guilty of sin, will he be cast out of the order? The president
answered that if one having been admitted to their community committed
sins deserving of death, he was cast out and often perished by a most
wretched fate, for being bound by oath and customs he could not even
receive food from others but must eat grass, and with his body worn by
famine he perishes. Unless, the president added, we have pity on him at
the last breath and think he has suffered sufficiently for his sins.



CHAP. VII.


The hut that Joseph was bidden to enter was the last left in the cenoby
for allotment, four proselytes having arrived last month.

No better commodity have we for the moment, the curator said, struck by
the precarious shelter the hut offered--a crazy door and a roof that let
the starlight through at one end of the wall. But the rains are over, he
added, and the coverlet is a warm one. On this he left Joseph, whom the
bell would call to orison, too tired to sleep, turning vaguely from side
to side, trying to hush the thoughts that hurtled through his clear
brain--that stars endure for ever, but the life of the palm-tree was as
the life of the man who fed on its fruit. The tree lived one hundred
years, and among the Essenes a centenarian was no rare thing, but of
what value to live a hundred years in the monotonous life of the cenoby?
And in his imagination, heightened by insomnia, the Essenes seemed to
him like the sleeping trees. If he remained he would become like them,
while his father lived alone in Galilee! Dan rose up before him and he
could find no sense in the assurances he had given the president that he
wished to be admitted into the order. He seemed no longer to desire
admission, and if he did desire it he could not, for his father's sake,
accept the admission. Then why had he talked as he had done to the
president? He could not tell: and it must have been while lying on his
right side, trying to understand himself, what he was and why he was in
the cenoby, that he fell into that deep and dreamless sleep from which
he was awakened by a bell, and so suddenly that it seemed to him that he
had not been asleep more than a few minutes. It was no doubt the bell
for morning prayer: and only half awake he repaired with the other
proselytes to the part of the village open to the sunrise.

All the Essenes were assembled there, and he learnt that they looked
upon this prayer of thanksgiving for the return of light as the
important event of the day. He joined in it, though he suspected a
certain idolatry in the prayer. It seemed to him that the Essenes were
praying for the sun to rise; but to do this would be to worship the sun
in some measure, and to look upon the sun as in some degree a God, he
feared; but the Essenes were certainly very pious Jews. What else they
were, time would reveal to him: a few days would be enough; and long
before the prayer was finished he was thinking of his father in Galilee
and what his face would tell, were he to see his son bowing before the
sun. But the Essenes were not really worshipping the sun but praying to
God that the sun might rise and give them light again to continue their
daily work. One whole day at least he must spend in the cenoby,
and--feeling that he was becoming interested again in the Essenes--he
began to form a plan to stay some time with them.

On rising from his knees, he thought he might stay for some weeks. But
if the Essene brotherhood succeeded in persuading him that his fate was
to abandon his father and the trade that awaited him in Galilee and the
wife who awaited him somewhere? His father often said: Joseph, you are
the last of our race. I hope to see with you a good wife who will bear
you children, for I should like to bless my grandchildren before I die.
The Essenes would at least free him from the necessity of telling his
father that there was no heart in him for a wife; and if he did not take
a wife, he might become---- One of the curators whispered to him the use
he should make of the little axe, and he followed the other proselytes;
and having found a place where the earth was soft, each dug a hole about
a foot deep, into which they eased themselves, afterwards filling up the
hole with the earth that had been taken out. Joseph then went down with
them to a source for purifications, and these being finished the
proselytes grouped themselves round Joseph, anxious to become acquainted
with the last recruit, and asking all together what provision of food he
had made for himself for that day: if he had made none, he would have to
go without food, for only those who were admitted into the order were
suffered to the common repasts. A serious announcement, he said, to make
to a man at break of day who knew nothing of these things yesterday, and
he asked how his omission might be repaired. He must ask for permission
to go to Jericho to buy food. As he was going there on a mule, he might
bring back food not only for himself but for all of them: enough lentils
to last a week; and he inquired what else they were permitted to eat--if
eggs were forbidden? At which the proselytes clapped their hands. A
basket of eggs! A basket of eggs! And some honey! cried another. Figs!
cried a third; we haven't tasted any for a month. But my mule's back
will not bear all that you require, Joseph answered. Our mule! cried the
proselytes; all property is held in common. Even the fact of my mule
having become common property, Joseph said, will not enable him to
carry more than his customary burden, and the goods will embarrass me.
If the mule belongs to the community, then I am the mule driver, the
provider of the community. Constituted such by thy knowledge of the
aptitudes and temper and strength of the animal! cried a proselyte after
him, and he went away to seek out one of the curators; for it is not
permissible for an Essene to go to Jericho without having gotten
permission. Of course the permission was at once granted, and while
saddling his mule for the journey the memory of the river overnight now
caused Joseph to hesitate and to think that he might find himself return
empty-handed to the plump of proselytes now waiting to see him start.

But if thou crossed the river yesterday, there is no reason why thou
shouldn't cross it in safety now, cried one. But forget not the basket
of eggs, said a second. Nor the honey, mentioned a third, and a fourth
called after him the quality of lentils he enjoyed. The mind of the
fifth regarding food was not expressed, for a curator came by and
reproved them, saying they were mere belly-worshippers.

There will be less water in the river than there was overnight, the
curator said, and Joseph hoped he was right, for it would be a harsh and
disagreeable death to drown in a lake so salt that fish could not live
in it. True, one would escape being eaten by fishes; but if the mule be
carried away, he said to himself, drown I shall, long before I reach the
lake, unless indeed I strike out and swim--which, it seemed to him,
might be the best way to save his life--and if there be no current in
the lake I can gain the shore easily. But the first sight of the river
proved the vanity of his foreboding, for during the night it had emptied
a great part of its flood into the lake. The struggle in getting his
mule across was slight; still slighter when he returned with a sack of
lentils, a basket of eggs, some pounds of honey and many misgivings as
to whether he should announce this last commodity to the curator or
introduce it surreptitiously. To begin his probationship with a
surreptitious act would disgrace him in the eyes of the prior, whose
good opinion he valued above all. So did his thoughts run on till he
came within sight of a curator, who told him that sometimes, on the
first day of probationship, honey and figs were allowed.

The cooking of the food and the eating of it in the only cabin in which
there were conveniences for eating helped the time away, and Joseph
began to ask himself how long his cloistral life was going to endure,
for he seemed to have lost all desire to leave it, and had begun to turn
the different crafts over in his mind and to debate which he should
choose to put his hand to. Of husbandry he was as ignorant as a crow,
nor could he tell poisonous pastures from wholesome, nor could he help
in the bakery. At first venture there seemed to be no craft for him to
follow, since fish did not thrive in the Salt Lake and the fisherman's
art could not be practised, he was told, in the Jordan, for the Essenes
were not permitted to kill any living thing.

While laying emphasis on this rule, the curator cracked a flea under his
robe, but Joseph did not call his attention to his disobedience, but
bowed his head and left him to the scruple of conscience which he hoped
would awaken in him later.

Before this had time to come to pass, the curator called after him and
suggested that he might teach Hebrew to the four proselytes, whose
knowledge of that language had seemed to Mathias, their instructor,
disgracefully weak. They were all from Alexandria, like their teacher,
and read the Scriptures in Greek; but the Essenes, so said the curator,
must read the Scriptures in Hebrew; and the teaching of Hebrew, Mathias
said to Joseph, takes me away from my important work, but it may amuse
you to teach them. Our father may accept you as a sufficient teacher: go
to him for examination.

A little talk and a few passages read from the Scriptures satisfied the
president that Joseph was the assistant teacher that had been so long
desired in the community, and he spoke to Joseph soothingly of Mathias,
whose life work was the true interpretation of the Scriptures. But did
the Scriptures need interpretation? Joseph asked himself, not daring to
put questions to the president; and on an early occasion he asked
Mathias what the president meant when he spoke of a true interpretation
of the Scriptures, and was told that the true meaning of the Scriptures
lay below the literal meaning. There can be no doubt, he said, that the
Scriptures must be regarded as allegories; and he explained to Joseph
that he devoted all his intellect to discovering and explaining these
allegories, a task demanding extraordinary assiduity, for they lay
concealed in what seemed to the vulgar eye mere statements of fact: as
if, he added scornfully, God chose the prophets for no better end than a
mere relation of facts! He was willing, however, to concede that his
manner of treating the Scriptures was not approved by the entire
community, but in view of his learning, the proselytes were admitted to
his lectures--one of the innovations of the prior, who, in spite of all,
remained one of his supporters.

To the end of his life Joseph kept in his memory the moment when he sat
in the corner of the hall, his eyes fixed upon Mathias's young and
beautiful profile, clear cut, hard and decisive as the profiles of the
young gods that decorated the Greek coins which shocked him in Cæsarea.
His memory of Mathias was as partial; but he knew the president's full
face, and while pondering on it he remembered that he had never seen him
in profile. Nor was this all that set the two men apart in Joseph's
consciousness. The prior's simple and homely language came from the
heart, entered the heart and was remembered, whereas Mathias spoke from
his brain. The heart is simple and always the same, but the brain is
complex and various; and therefore it was natural that Mathias should
hold, as if in fee, a great store of verbal felicities, and that he
should translate all shades of thought at once into words.

His mind moved in a rich, erudite and complex syntax that turned all
opposition into admiration. Even the president, who had been listening
to theology all his life and had much business to attend to, must fain
neglect some of it for the pleasure of listening to Mathias when he
lectured. Even Saddoc, the most orthodox Jew in the cenoby, Mathias
could keep as it were chained to his seat. He resented and spurned the
allegory, but the beautiful voice that brought out sentence after
sentence, like silk from off a spool, enticed his thoughts away from it.
The language used in the cenoby was Aramaic, and never did Joseph hear
that language spoken so beautifully. It seemed to him that he was
listening to a new language and on leaving the hall he told Mathias that
it had seemed to him that he was listening to Aramaic for the first
time. Mathias answered him--blushing a little, Joseph thought--that he
hoped one of these days, in Egypt perhaps, if Joseph ever went there, to
lecture to him in Greek. He liked Aramaic for other purposes, but for
philosophy there was but one language. But you speak Greek and are now
teaching Greek, so let us speak it when we are together, Mathias said,
and if I detect any incorrectness I will warn you against it.

That Mathias should choose to speak to him in Greek was flattering
indeed, and Joseph, who had not spoken Greek for many months, began to
prattle, but he had not said many words before Mathias interrupted him
and said: you must have learnt Greek very young. This remark turned the
talk on to Azariah; and Mathias listened to Joseph's account of his
tutor carelessly, interrupting him when he had heard enough with a
remark anent the advancement of the spring, to which Joseph did not know
how to reply, so suddenly had his thoughts been jerked away from the
subject he was pursuing. You have the full Jewish mind, Mathias
continued; interested in moral ideas rather than beauty: without eyes
for the village. True that you see it in winter plight, but in the near
season all the fields will be verdant and the lintels running over with
flowers. He waited for Joseph to defend himself, but Joseph did not know
for certain that Mathias was not right--perhaps he was more interested
in moral ideas than in beauty. However this might be, he began to
experience an aversion, and might have taken leave of Mathias if they
had not come upon the president. He stopped to speak to them; and having
congratulated Mathias on having fortuned at last on an efficient teacher
of Hebrew and Greek, and addressed a few kindly words directly to Joseph
and taken his hand in his, the head of the community bade them both
good-bye, saying that important business needed his presence. He sped
away on his business, but he seemed to leave something of himself
behind, and even Mathias was perforce distracted from his search of a
philosophic point of view and indulged himself in the luxury of a simple
remark. His goodness, he said, is so natural, like the air we breathe
and the bread we eat, and that is why we all love him, and why all
dissension vanishes at the approach of our president; a remarkable man.

The most wonderful I have ever seen, Joseph answered: a remark that did
not altogether please Mathias, for he added: his power is in himself,
for he is altogether without philosophy.

Joseph was moved to ask Mathias if the charm that himself experienced
was not an entire absence of philosophy. But he did not dare to rouse
Mathias, whom he feared, and his curiosity overcame his sense of loyalty
to the president. If he were to take his leave abruptly, he would have
to return alone to the village to seek the four proselytes, but their
companionship did not attract him, and he found himself at that moment
unable to deny himself the pleasure of the sweet refreshing evening air,
which as they approached the river seemed to grow sweeter. The river
itself was more attractive than he had yet seen it, and there was that
sadness upon it which we notice when a rainy day passes into a fine
evening. The clouds were rolling on like a battle--pennants flying in
splendid array, leaving the last row of hills outlined against a clear
space of sky; and, with his eyes fixed on the cliffs over against the
coasts of the lake, Mathias let his thoughts run after his favourite
abstractions: the relation of God to time and place. As he dreamed his
metaphysics, he answered Joseph's questions from time to time,
manifesting, however, so little interest in them that at last Joseph
felt he could bear it no longer, and resolved to leave him. But just as
he was about to bid him good-bye, Mathias said that the Essenes were
pious Jews who were content with mere piety, but mere piety was not
enough: God had given to man a mind, and therefore desired man to
meditate, not on his own nature--which was trivial and passing--but on
God's nature, which was important and eternal.

This remark revealed a new scope for inquiry to Joseph, who was
interested in the Essenes; but his search was for miracles and prophets
rather than ideas, and if he tarried among the Essenes it was because he
had come upon two great men. He fell to considering the question afresh,
and--forgetful of Mathias's admonitions that the business of man is to
meditate on the nature of God--he said: the Essenes perform no miracles
and do not prophesy;--an interruption to Mathias's loquacity which the
other took with a better grace than Joseph had expected--for no one ever
dared before to interrupt Mathias. Joseph had done so accidentally and
expected a very fine reproof, but Mathias checked his indignation and
told Joseph that Manahem, an Essene, had foreknowledge of future events
given to him by God: for when he was a child and going to school,
Manahem saw Herod and saluted him as king of the Jews; and Herod,
thinking the boy was in jest or did not know him, told him he was but a
private citizen; whereat Manahem smiled to himself, and clapping Herod
on the backside with his hand said: thou wilt be king and wilt begin thy
reign happily, for God finds thee worthy. And then, as if enough was
said on this subject, Mathias began to diverge from it, mixing up the
story with many admonitions and philosophical reflections, very wise and
salutary, but not what Joseph cared to hear at that moment. He was in
no wise interested at that moment to hear that he had done well in
testing all the different sects of the Jews, and though the Essenes were
certainly the most learned, they did not possess the whole truth. With a
determination that was impossible to oppose, Mathias said: the whole
truth is not to be found, even among the Essenes, and, my good friend, I
would not encourage in you a hope that you may be permitted ever during
your mortal life to discover the whole truth. It exists not in any
created thing: but glimpses of the light are often detected, now here,
now there, shining through a clouded vase. But the simile, he added, of
the clouded vase gives rise to the thought that the light resides within
the vase: the very contrary of which is the case. For there is no light
in the vase itself: the light shines from beyond the skies, and I should
therefore have compared man to a crystal itself that catches the light
so well that it seems to our eyes to be the source of light, which is
not true in principle or in fact, for in the darkness a crystal is as
dark as any other stone. In such part do I explain the meaning that the
wicked man, having no divine irradiation, is without instruction of God
and knowledge of God's creations; he is as a fugitive from the divine
company, and cannot do else than hold that everything is created from
the world to be again dissolved into the world. And being no better than
a follower of Heraclitus--But who is Heraclitus? Joseph asked.

A clouded face was turned upon Joseph, and for some moments the sage
could not collect his thoughts sufficiently to answer him. Who is
Heraclitus? he repeated, and then, with a general interest in his pupil,
he ran off a concise exposition of that philosopher's doctrine--a
mistake on his part, as he was quick enough to admit to himself; for
though he reduced his statement to the lowest limits, it awakened in
Joseph an interest so lively that he felt himself obliged to expose this
philosopher's fallacies; and in doing this he was drawn away from his
subject, which was unfortunate. The hour was near by when the Essenes
would, according to rule, retire to their cells for meditation,
and--foreseeing that he could not rid himself of the burden which
Joseph's question imposed upon him--he abandoned Heraclitus in a last
refutation, to warn Joseph that he must not resume his questions.

But if I do not ask at once, my chance is gone for ever; for your
discourse is like the clouds, always taking new shapes, Joseph pleaded.
In dread lest all be forgotten, I repeat to myself what you have said,
and so lose a great deal for a certain remembrance.

Joseph's manifest delight in his statement of the doctrines of
Heraclitus, and his subsequent refutation of the heathen philosopher
caused Mathias to forget temporarily certain ideas that he had been
fostering for some days--that God, being the designer and maker of all
things, and their governor, is likewise the creator of time itself, for
he is the father of its father, and the father of time is the world,
which made its own mother--the creation. So that time stands towards God
in the relation of a grandson; for this world is a young son of God. On
these things the sage's thoughts had been running for some days past,
and he would have liked to have expounded his theory to Joseph: that
nothing is future to God: creations and the very boundaries of time are
subject.

He said much more, but Joseph did not hear. He was too busy memorising
what he had already heard, and during long hours he strove to come to
terms with what he remembered, but in vain. The more he thought, the
less clear did it seem to him that in eternity there is neither past nor
future, that in eternity everything is present. Mathias's very words;
but when he said them, there seemed to be something behind the words;
while listening, it seemed to Joseph that sight had been given to him,
but his eyes proved too weak to bear the too great illumination, and he
had been obliged to cover them with his hands, shutting out a great deal
so that he might see just a little ... as it were between his fingers.
As we think of God only under the form of light, it seemed to him that
the revelation entered into him by his eyes rather than by his ears. He
would return to the sage every day, but what if he were not able to
remember, if it were all to end in words with nothing behind the words?
The sage said that in a little while the discourses would not seem so
elusive and evanescent. At present they seemed to Joseph like the mist
on the edge of a stream, and he strove against the belief that a
philosopher is like a man who sets out to walk after the clouds.

Such a belief being detestable, he resolved to rid himself of it, and
Mathias would help him, he was sure, and in this hope he confided his
life to him, going back to the night when Samuel appeared to him, and
recounting his father's business and character, introducing the
different tutors that were chosen for him, and his own choice of
Azariah, to whom he owed his knowledge of Greek. To all of which the
philosopher listened complacently enough, merely asking if Azariah
shared the belief prevalent in Galilee that the world was drawing to a
close. On hearing that he did, he seemed to lose interest in Joseph's
story of Azariah's relations to his neighbours, nor did he seem unduly
afflicted at hearing that only the most orthodox views were acceptable
in Galilee. His indifference was disheartening, but being now deep in
his biography, Joseph related perforce the years he spent doing his
father's business in northern Syria, hoping as he told his story to
awaken the sage's interest in his visit to Jerusalem. The Sadducees did
not believe that Jahveh had resolved to end the world and might be
expected to appear in his chariot surrounded by angels blowing trumpets,
bidding the dead to rise. But the Pharisees did believe in the
resurrection--unfortunately including that of the corruptible body,
which seemed to present many difficulties. He was about to enter on an
examination of these difficulties, but the philosopher moved them aside
contemptuously, and Joseph understood that he could not demean himself
to the point of discussing the fallacies of the Pharisees, who, Joseph
said, hope to stem the just anger of God on the last day by minute
observances of the Sabbath. Mathias raised his eyes, and it was a
revulsion of feeling, Joseph continued, against hypocrisy and
fornication, that put me astride my mule as soon as I heard of the
Essenes, the most enlightened sect of the Jews in Palestine. That you
should be among them is testimony of their enlightenment.... Mathias
raised his hand, and Joseph's face dropped into an expression of
attention. Mathias was willing to accede that much, but certain
circumlocutions in his language led Joseph to suspect that Mathias was
not altogether satisfied with the Essenes. He seemed to think that they
were too prone to place mere piety above philosophy: a mistake; for our
intellect being the highest gift we have received from God, it follows
that we shall please him best by using it assiduously. He spoke about
the prayers before sunrise and asked Joseph if they did not seem to him
somewhat trite and trivial and if he did not think that the moment would
be more profitably spent by instituting a comparison between the light
of the intellect and that of the sun?

Mathias turned to Joseph, and waited for him to confess his
perplexities. But it was hard to confess to Mathias that philosophy was
useless if the day of judgment were at hand! He dared not speak against
philosophy and it was a long time before Mathias guessed his trouble,
but as soon as it dawned on him that Joseph was in doubt as to the
utility of philosophy, his face assumed so stern an expression that
Joseph began to feel that Mathias looked upon him as a fool. It may have
been that Joseph's consternation, so apparent on his face, restored
Mathias into a kindly humour. Be that as it may, Mathias pointed out,
and with less contempt than Joseph expected, that the day of judgment
and philosophy had nothing in common. We should never cease to seek
after wisdom, he said. Joseph concurred. It was not, however, pleasing
to Joseph to hear prophecy spoken of as the outpourings of madmen,
but--having in mind the contemptuous glance that would fall upon him if
he dared to put prophecy above philosophy--he held his peace, venturing
only to remark that no prophets were found in Judea for some hundreds of
years. Except Manahem, he added hurriedly. But his remembrance of
Manahem did not appease the philosopher, who dropped his eyes on Joseph
and fixed them on him. The moment was one of agony for Joseph. And as if
he remembered suddenly that Joseph was only just come into the district
of the Jordan, Mathias told with some ironical laughter that the
neighbourhood was full of prophets, as ignorant and as ugly as hyenas.
They live, he said, in the caves along the western coasts of the Salt
Lake, growling and snarling over the world, which they seem to think
rotten and ready for them to devour. Or else they issue forth and entice
the ignorant multitude into the Jordan, so that they may the more easily
plunge them under the flood. But of what use to speak of these crazed
folk, when there are so many subjects of which philosophy may gracefully
treat?

Prophets in caves about the Salt Lake! Joseph muttered; and a great
desire awakened in him to see them. But you're not going in search of
these wretched men? Mathias asked, and his eyes filled with contempt,
and Joseph felt that Mathias had already decided that all intellectual
companionship was henceforth impossible between them. He was tempted to
temporise. It was not to discuss the resurrection that he desired to see
these men, but for curiosity; and during the long walk he would meditate
on Mathias's doctrines.... Mathias did not answer him, and Joseph,
seeing him cast away in philosophy and unable to advise him further,
went to the president to ask for permission to absent himself for two
days from the cenoby, a permission that was granted willingly when the
object of the absence was duly related.



CHAP. VIII.


There was one John preaching in the country about the Jordan: the
Baptist, they call him, the president said. But go, Joseph, and see the
prophets for thyself. I shall be rare glad to hear what thou hast to
say! And he pressed Joseph's hand, sending him off in good cheer. Banu,
ask for Banu! were the last words he called after him, and Joseph hoped
the ferryman would be able to point out the way to him. Oh yes, I know
the prophet; the ferryman answered: a disciple of John, that all the
people are following. But there be a bit of a walk before thee, and one
that'll last thee till dawn, for Banu has been that bothered by visits
these times, that he has gone up the desert out of the way, for he be
preparing himself these whiles. For what? Joseph asked. The ferryman did
not know; he told that John was not baptizing that morning, but for why
he did not know. As like as not he be waiting for the river to lower, he
said. At which Joseph had half a mind to leave Banu for John; but a
passenger was calling the ferryman from the opposite bank and he was
left with incomplete information and wandered on in doubt whether to
return in quest of the Baptist or make the disciple his shift.

The way pointed out to him lay through the desert, and to find Banu's
cave without guidance would not be easy, and after having found and
interrogated him the way would seem longer to return than to come. But,
having gone so far, he could not do else than attempt the hot weary
search. And it will be one! he said, as he picked his way through the
bushes and brambles that contrive to subsist somehow in the flat sandy
waste lying at the head of the lake. But as he proceeded into the desert
these signs of life vanished, and he came upon a region of craggy and
intricate rocks rising sometimes into hills and sometimes breaking away
and littering the plain with rubble. The desert is never completely
desert for long, and on turning westward as he was directed, Joseph
caught sight of the hill which he had been told to look out for--he
could not miss it, for the evening sun lit up a high scarp, and on
coming to the end of a third mile the desert began to look a little less
desert, brambles began again. Banu could not be far away. But Joseph did
not dare to go farther. He had been walking for many hours, and even if
he were to meet Banu he could not speak to him, so closely did his
tongue cleave to the sides of his mouth. But these brambles betoken
water, he said; and on coming round a certain rock bulging uncouth from
the hillside, he discovered a trickle, and a few paces distant, Banu,
ugly as a hyena and more ridiculous than the animal, for--having no
shirt to cover his nakedness--he had tressed a garland of leaves about
his waist! Yet not so ugly at second sight as at first, for he sees God,
Joseph said to himself; and he waited for Banu to rise from his knees.

Even hither do they pursue me, Banu's eyes seemed to say, while his
fingers modestly rearranged his garland; and Joseph, who began to dread
the hermit, begged to have the spring pointed out to him that he might
drink. Banu pointed to it, and Joseph knelt and drank, and after
drinking he was in better humour to tell Banu that Mathias, the great
philosopher from Alexandria, scorned the prophecies that the end of the
world could not be delayed much longer. And, as John is not baptizing
these days, I thought I'd come and ask if we had better begin to prepare
for the resurrection and the judgment. On hearing Joseph's reasons for
his visit, the hermit stood with dilated eyes, as if about to speak. But
he did not speak; and Joseph asked him what would become of the world
after God destroyed it. Before answering, Banu stooped down, and having
filled his hand with sand and gravel he said: God will fill his hand
with earth, but not this time to make a man and woman, but out of each
of his hands will come a full nation, and these he will put into full
possession of the earth, for his chosen people will not repent....

But the ferryman told me that John gathered many together and was
baptizing in Jordan? Joseph inquired. To which Banu answered naught, but
stood looking at Joseph, who could scarce bring himself to look at Banu,
though he felt himself to be in sore need of some prophetic confirmation
of the date of the judgment. Is John the Messiah, come to preach that
God is near and that we must repent in time? he asked; to which the
hermit replied that the Messiah would have many fore-runners, and one of
these would give his earthly life as a peace-offering, but enraged
Jahveh would not accept it as sufficient and would return with the
Messiah and destroy the world. I am waiting here till God bids me arise
and preach to men, and the call will be soon, Banu said, for God's wrath
is even now at its height. But do thou go hence to John, who has been
called to the Jordan, and get baptism from him. But John is not
baptizing these days, the river being in flood, Joseph cried after him.
That flood will pass away, Banu answered, before the great and
overwhelming flood arises. Will the world be destroyed by water? At this
question Banu turned towards the hillside, like one that deemed his last
exhortation to be enough, and who desired an undisturbed possession of
the solitude. But at the entrance of the cave he stopped: the track is
easy to lose after nightfall, he said, and panthers will be about in
search of gazelles. Thou wouldst do well to remain with me: my cave is
secure against wild beasts. Look behind thee: how dark are the rocks and
hills! Joseph cast his eyes in the direction of Jericho and thanked God
for having put a kind thought into the hermit's mind, for the landscape
was gloomy enough already, and an hour hence he would be stumbling over
a panther in the dark, and the sensation of teeth clutching at his
throat and of hind claws tearing out his belly banished from his mind
all thoughts of the unpleasantness of passing a night in a narrow cave
with Banu, whom he helped to close the entrance with a big stone and to
pile up other stones about the big stone making themselves safe, so Banu
said, from everything except perhaps a bear.

The thought of the bear that might scrape aside the stone kept Joseph
awake listening to Banu snoring, and to the jackals that barked all
night long. They are quarrelling among themselves, Banu said, turning
over, for the jackals succeeded in waking him, quarrelling over some
gazelle they've caught. A moment after, he was asleep again, and Joseph,
despite his fear of the wild beasts, must have dozed for a little while,
for he started up, his hair on end. A bear! a bear! he cried, without
awakening Banu, and he listened to a scratching and a sniffling round
the stones with which they had blocked the entrance to the cave. Or a
panther, he said to himself. The animal moved away, and then Joseph lay
awake hour after hour, dropping to sleep and awakening again and again.

About an hour after sunrise, Banu awakened him and asked him to help him
to roll the stones aside; which Joseph did, and as soon as they were in
the dusk he turned out of his pockets a few crusts and some cheese made
out of ewe's milk, and offered to share the food with his host; but
Banu, pointing to a store of locusts, put some of the insects into his
mouth and told Joseph that his vow was not to eat any other food till
God called him forth to preach; which would be, he thought, a few days
before the judgment: a view that Joseph did not try to combat, nor did
he eat his bread and cheese before him, lest the sight of it should turn
the prophet's stomach from the locusts. It was distressing to watch him
chewing them; they were not easy to swallow, but he got them down at
last with the aid of some water obtained from the source, and during
breakfast his talk was all the while of the day of judgment and the
anger of God, who would destroy Israel and build up another nation that
would obey him. It would be three or four days before the judgment that
God would call him out to preach, he repeated; and Joseph was waiting to
hear how far distant were these days? A month, a year, belike some
years, for God's patience is great. He stopped speaking suddenly, and
throwing out his arms he cried out: he has come, he has come! He whom
the world is waiting for. Baptize him! Baptize him! He whom the world is
waiting for has come.

But for whom is the world waiting? Joseph asked; and Banu answered:
hasten to the Jordan, and find him whom thou seekest.



CHAP. IX.


I shall pray that the Lord call thee out of the desert to join thy voice
with those already preaching, Joseph cried; and the hermit answered him:
let us praise the Lord for having sent us the new prophet! But do thou
hasten to John, he called after Joseph, who ran and walked alternately,
striving up every hillock for sight of the ferryman's boat which might
well be waiting on this side for him to step on board; Joseph being in a
hurry, it would certainly be lying under the opposite bank, the ferryman
asleep in it, and so soundly that no cries would awaken him.

But Joseph's fortune was kinder than he anticipated, for on arriving at
the Jordan he found himself at the very spot where the ferryman had tied
his boat and--napping--awaited a passenger. So rousing him with a great
shout, Joseph leaped on board and told the old fellow to pull his
hardest; but having been pulling across the Jordan for nigh fifty
years, the ferryman was little disposed to alter his stroke for the
pleasure of the young man, who, he remembered, had not paid him
over-liberally yester-evening; and in the mid-stream he rested on his
oars, so that he might the better discern the great multitude gathered
on yon bank. For baptism, he said; or making ready to go home after
baptism, he added; and letting his boat drift, sat discoursing on the
cold of the water, which he said was colder than he ever knew it before
at this season of the year: remarks' that Joseph considered well enough
in themselves, but out of his humour. So ye be craving for baptism, the
ferryman said, and looked as if he did not care a wild fig whether
Joseph got it that morning or missed it. But there was no use arguing
with the ferryman, who after a long stare fell to his oars, but so
leisurely that Joseph seized one of them and--putting his full strength
upon it--turned the boat's head up-stream.

There be no landing up-stream anywhere, so loose my oars or I'll leave
them to thee, the ferryman growled, and we shall be twirling about
stream till midday and after. But I can row, Joseph said. Then row! and
the ferryman put the other oar into his hand. But we shall be quicker
across if thou'lt leave them to me. And as this seemed to Joseph the
truth, he fell back into his seat, and did not get out of it till the
boat touched the bank. But he jumped too soon and fell into the mud,
causing much laughter along the bank, and not a few ribald remarks, some
saying that he needed baptism more than those that had gotten it. But a
hand was reached out to him, and that he should ask for the Baptist
before thinking of his clothes showed the multitude that he must be
another prophet, which he denied, calling on heaven to witness that he
was not one: whereupon he was mistaken for a great sinner, and heard
that however great his repentance it would avail him nothing, for the
Baptist was gone away with his disciple. Joseph, thinking that he had
left the Baptist's disciple in the desert, began to argue that this
could not be, and raved incontinently at the man, bringing others round
him, till he was hemmed into a circle of ridicule. Among the multitude
many were of the same faith as Joseph himself, and these drew him out of
the circle and explained to him that the Baptist baptized in the river
for several hours, till--unable to bear the cold any longer--he had gone
away, his teeth chattering, with Jesus the Essene.

Jesus the Essene! Joseph repeated, but before he could inquire further,
men came running along the bank, saying they had sins to repent, and on
hearing that the Baptist was gone and would not return that day, they
began to tell each other stories of the great cloud that was seen in the
east, bearing within it a chariot; and from the chariot angels were seen
descending all the morning with flaming swords in their hands. Get thee
baptized! they shouted, and clamoured, and pushed to and fro--a
thronging gesticulating multitude of brown faces and hooked noses, of
bony shoulders and striped shirts. Get thee baptized before sunset!
everybody was crying. And Joseph watched the veils floating from their
turbans as they fled southwards. On what errand? he asked; in search of
the Baptist or the new disciple Jesus? Not the new disciple, was the
answer he got back; for Jesus leaves baptism to John. But why doesn't
Jesus baptize? Joseph asked, since he is a disciple of the Baptist. If
baptism be good for him, it is good enough for another. And so the
multitude seemed to think, and were confounded till one amongst them
said that Jesus might not be endowed with the gift of baptism; or belike
have accepted baptism from John for a purpose, it having been prophesied
that the Messiah would have a forerunner. But who, asked many voices
together, has said that Jesus is the Messiah? some maintaining that
Jesus was the lesser prophet. But this contention was not agreeable to
all, some having, for, reasons unknown to Joseph, ranged themselves
already alongside of Jesus, believing him to be greater than John, yet
not the final prophet promised to Israel. And these came to blows with
the others, who looked upon John as the Messiah, and Jesus as the one
whom John had called to his standard: a recruit--nothing. Skinny fists
were striving in the air and--thrusting himself between two
disputants--Joseph begged them to tell him if Jesus, John's disciple,
was from the cenoby? Yea, yea, he heard from all sides; the shepherd of
the brotherhood--that one who follows their flocks over the hills; but
not being sure of his mission, he has gone into the desert to wait for a
sign. An Essene, but one that was seldom in the cenoby, more often to be
met on the hills with his flocks. A shepherd? Joseph asked. Yea, and it
was among the hills that John met him, and seeing a prophet in him spoke
to him, and Jesus, seeing that another prophet was risen up in Israel,
had thrown his flute away and gone to the president to ask for leave to
preach the baptism of repentance unto men, for the grand day is at hand.
Joseph having heard this before, heeded only tidings of the new prophet,
when a woman pressing forward shouted: a pleasant voice to hear on the
mountain-side, said she; and another added: the hills will seem lonely
without his gait. A great slinger, cried a third. But why did he come
to John for baptism, knowing himself to be the greater prophet? A
question that started them all wrangling again, and crying one against
the other that repentance was necessary, or else the Lord would desert
them or choose another race.

These are irksome gossips, a man said to Joseph; but come with me and
I'll tell thee much about him. No better shepherd than he ever ranged
the hills. I wouldn't have thee forget, mate, another man said, that
he's gone without leaving us his great cure for scab. True for thee,
mate, answered the first, for a great forgetfulness has been on him this
time past.... A great cure, certainly, which he might have left us. And
the twain fell to discussing their several cures for scab. Another
shepherd came by and passed the remark that Jesus knew the hills like
one born among them. But neither could tell whence he came, nor did they
know if he brought the cure for scab with him, or learnt it at the
cenoby. The brotherhood has secrets that it is forbidden to tell. I be
with thee on this matter, said another shepherd, that wherever he goes,
he'll be a prize to a master, for the schooling he has been through will
stand to him.

The last of this chatter that came to Joseph's ears was that Jesus could
do as much with sheep as any man since Abraham, and--satisfied with this
knowledge--he took his leave of the shepherds, certain that Jesus must
have been among the Essenes for many years before God called to him to
leave his dogs and to follow John, whom he began to recognise as greater
than himself, but whom he was destined to supersede, as John's own
disciple, Banu, testified in the desert before Joseph's own eyes. He
remembered how Banu saw John in a vision plunging Jesus into Jordan. Of
trickery and cozenage there was none: for the men along these banks bore
witness to the baptism that Joseph would have seen for himself if he had
started a little earlier; nor could the Jesus who came to John for
baptism be other than the young shepherd whom Joseph had seen, at the
beginning of his novitiate, walking with the president in deep converse;
the president apparently trying to dissuade him from some project.
Joseph could not remember having heard anyone speak so familiarly or so
authoritatively to the president, a man some twenty years older; and he
wondered at the time how a mere shepherd from the hills could talk on an
equality, as if they were friends, with the president. The shepherd, he
now heard, was an Essene, but he lived among the hills, and Joseph
remembered the striped shirt, the sheepskin and the long stride. His
memory continued to unfold, and he recalled with singular distinctness
and pleasure the fine broad brow curving upwards--a noble arch, he said
to himself--the eyes distant as stars and the underlying sadness in his
voice oftentimes soft and low, but with a cry in it; and he remembered
how their eyes met, and it seemed to Joseph that he read in the
shepherd's eyes a look of recognition and amity.

And now, as he walked from the Jordan to the cenoby, he remembered how,
all one night after that meeting, dreams of a mutual destiny plagued
him: how he slept and was awakened by visions that fled from his mind as
he strove to recall them. But was this young shepherd the one that Banu
saw John baptize in the Jordan? It cannot be else, he said to himself.
But whither was Jesus gone? Did the brethren know, and if they did know
would they tell him? It was against the rule to put questions: only the
president could tell him, and he dared not go to the president. Yet
consult somebody he must; and a few days afterwards he got leave again
to visit Banu, whom he found lying in his cave, sick: not very sick;
though having eaten nothing for nearly two days he begged Joseph to
fetch him a little water from the rock; which Joseph did. After having
drunk a little the hermit seemed to revive, and Joseph related how he
missed Jesus on the bank and had no tidings of him except that he was
gone into the desert to meditate. But the desert is large, and I know
not which side of the lake he has chosen. To which Banu answered: John
is baptizing in the Jordan; get thee baptized and repent! On which he
reached out his hand to his store of locusts, and while munching a few
he added: the Baptist is greater than Jesus, and he is still baptizing.
Get thee to Jordan! At this Joseph took offence and returned to the
cenoby with the intention of resuming his teaching. But he was again so
possessed of Jesus that he could not keep his mind on the lesson before
him: a pupil was often forced to put a question to him in a loud voice,
and perhaps to repeat it, before Joseph's sick reverie was sufficiently
broken for him to formulate an answer. The pain of the effort to return
to them was so apparent in his face that the pupils began to be sorry
for him and kept up a fire of questions, to save him from the melancholy
abstractions to which he lately seemed to have become liable. The cause
of his grief they could not guess, but he was not sure they did not
suspect the cause; and so the classes in which he heretofore took so
much pleasure came to be dreaded by him. Every moment except those in
which he sat immersed in dreams was a penance and a pain; and at last he
pleaded illness, and Mathias took his class, leaving Joseph to wander
as far as he liked from the cenoby, which had become hateful to him.

He was often met in the public gardens in Jericho, watching the people
going by, vaguely interested and vaguely wearied by the thoughts that
their different shows called up in his mind; and he was always painfully
conscious that nothing mattered: that the great void would never be
filled up again: and that time would not restore to him a single desire
or hope. Nothing matters, he often said to himself, as he sat drawing
patterns in the gravel with his stick. Yet he had no will to die, only
to believe he was the victim of some powerful malign influence.

One day as he sat watching the wind in the palm-trees, it seemed to him
that this influence, this demon, was always moving behind his life,
disturbing and setting himself to destroy any project that Joseph might
form. Another day it seemed to Joseph that the demon cast a net over
him, and that--entangled in the meshes--he was being drawn--Somebody
spoke to him, and he awoke so affrighted that the gossip could hardly
keep himself from laughing outright. If the end of the world were at
hand, let the end come to pass! he said; but he did not go to John for
baptism. He knew not why, only that he could not rouse himself! And it
was not till it came to be rumoured in Jericho that a prophet was gone
to Egypt to learn Greek that he awoke sufficiently to ask why a Jewish
prophet needed Greek. The answer he got was that the new doctrine
required a knowledge of Greek; Greek being a world-wide language, and
the doctrine being also world-wide. As there was but one God for all
the world, it was reasonable to suppose that every man might hope for
salvation, be he Jew or Gentile. It seemed to Joseph that this doctrine
could only emanate from the young shepherd he had met in the cenoby, and
he joined a caravan, and for fifteen days dreamed of the meeting that
awaited him at the end of the journey--and of the delightful instruction
in Greek that he was going to impart to Jesus. The heights of Mount
Sinai turned his thoughts backward only for a moment, and he continued
his dream of Jesus, continuing without interruption along the
shell-strewn shores of the Sea of Arabah, on and on into the peninsula,
till he stepped from the lurching camel into the great caravanserai in
Alexandria.

Without exactly expecting to find Jesus waiting for him in the street,
he had dreamed of meeting him somewhere in the city. He was sure he
would recognise that lean face, lit with brilliant eyes, in any crowd,
and the thought of getting news of Jesus in the synagogues in some sort
drowsed in his mind. As Jesus did not happen to be waiting outside the
caravanserai, Joseph sought him from synagogue to synagogue, without
getting tidings of him but of another, for the camel-drivers at Mount
Sinai had not informed him wrongly: a young Jew had passed through the
city on his way to Athens, but as he did not correspond to Joseph's
remembrances of Jesus, Joseph did not deem it to be worth his while to
follow this Jew to Athens. He remained in Alexandria without forming any
resolutions, seeking Jesus occasionally in the Jewish quarters; and when
they were all searched he returned to the synagogues once more and began
a fresh inquisition, but very soon he began to see that the faces about
him were overspread with incredulous looks and smiles, especially when
he related that his friend was the young prophet discovered by John
among the hills of Judea, tending sheep.

What tale is this that he tells us? the Jews asked apart; but finding
Joseph well instructed and of agreeable presence and manner, they made
much of him. If Galilee could produce such a man as Joseph, Galilee was
going up in the world. We will receive thee and gladly, but speak no
more to us of thy shepherd prophet, and betake thyself to our schools of
philosophy, which thou'lt enjoy, for thy Greek is excellent. But who
taught thee Greek? And while Joseph was telling of Azariah, little
smiles played about his eyes and mouth, for the incredulity of the
Alexandrian Jews had begotten incredulity in him, and he began to see
how much absurdity his adventure made show for. The Alexandrian Jews
liked him better for submitting himself so cheerfully to their learning
and their ideas, and he became a conspicuous and interesting person,
without knowledge that he was becoming one. Nor was it till having
moulded himself, or been moulded, into a new shape that he began to
think that he might have done better if he had left the moulding to God.
His conscience told him this and reminded him how he vowed himself to
Jesus, whom Banu saw in a vision. All the same he remained, not
unnaturally, a young man enticed by the charm of the Greek language, and
the science of the Alexandrian philosophers, who were every one
possessed of Mathias's skill in dialectics. They all knew Mathias and
were imbued with much respect for him as a teacher, and were willing to
instruct Joseph in psychology, taking up the lesson where Mathias closed
the book. So, putting his conscience behind him, Joseph listened, his
ears wide open and his mind alert to understand that it was a child's
story--the report in Jerusalem that the end of the world was
approaching, and that God would remould it afresh--as if God were human
like ourselves, animated with like business and desires! He heard for
the first time that to arrive at any clear notion of divinity we must
begin by stripping divinity of all human attributes, and when every one
is sloughed, what remains? Divinity, Joseph answered; and his instructor
bowed his head, saying: here is no matter for reflection.

The philosophers were surprised to learn that in Jerusalem many still
retained the belief that God was no more than a man of colossal stature,
angry, revengeful, and desirous of burnt offerings and of prayers which
were little better; that the corruptible body could be raised from the
dead and given back to the soul for a dwelling. That Jerusalem had
fallen so low in intellect was not known to them; and Joseph, feeling he
was making a noise in the world, admitted that despite the knowledge of
the Greek language he accepted the theory that the soul was created
before the body and waited in a sort of dim hall, hanging like a bat,
for the creation of the body which it was predestined to descend into,
till the death of the body released it. He was, however, now willing to
believe that the souls of all the wise men mentioned in the books of
Moses were sent down to earth as to a colony; great souls could not
abide like bats in the darkness, but are ever desirous of contemplation
and learning. And on pursuing this thought in the Greek language, which
lends itself to subtle shades of thought, he discovered that there are
three zones: the first zone is reason, the second passion and the third
appetite. And this his first psychological discovery was approved by his
teacher, and many months were passed over in agreeable exercises of the
mind of like nature, interrupted only by letters from his father, asking
him when he proposed to return home.

After reading one of these letters, his unhappiness lasted sometimes
for a whole day, and it was revived many times during the week; but
philosophy enabled him to resist the voice of conscience still a little
while, and even a letter relating the death of his grandmother did not
decide his departure. It seemed at first to have decided him, and he
told all his friends that he was leaving with the next caravan. But of
what use, he asked himself, for me to return to Galilee? Granny is in
her grave: could I bring her back to life I would return! So he remained
in Egypt for some time longer, and what enforced his return were the
long plains, in which oxen drew the plough from morning till evening;
and he had begun to long for clouds and for the hills, and the desire to
escape from the plain grew stronger every day till at last he could not
do else than yield to it. By the next caravan, he said to himself.

In Egypt he had met no prophet, only philosophers, and becoming once
more obsessed by miracles, he hastened to Banu, but of Jesus Banu could
only tell him that he was doing the work that our Father had given him
to do. Which is more than thou art doing. Go and get baptism from John!
Go back to Jericho and wait for a sign, leaving me in peace, for I need
it, having been troubled by many, eager and anxious about things that do
not matter. I will indeed, Joseph replied, for nothing matters to me
since I cannot find him. And he returned to Jericho, saying to himself
that Jesus must be known to every shepherd; perhaps to that one, he
said, running to head back his flock, which has been tempted by a patch
of young corn; Joseph stood at gaze, for the shepherd wore the same
garb as Jesus had done: a turban fixed on the head with two tiring-rings
of camel's hair, with veils floating from the shoulders to save the neck
from the sun. Jesus, too, wore a striped shirt, and over it was buckled
a dressed sheepskin; and Joseph pondered on the shepherd's shoon, on his
leathern water-bottle, on his long slender fingers twitching the thongs
of the sling. He had been told that no better slinger had been known in
these hills than Jesus. But he had left the hills and had gone, whither
none could tell! He was gone, whither no man knew, not even Banu. He is
about his Father's work, was all Banu could say; and Joseph wandered on
from shepherd to shepherd, questioning them all, and when none was in
sight he cried again Jesus's name to the winds, and never passed a cave
without looking into it, though he had lost hope of finding him. But he
continued his search, for it whiled the time away, though it did nothing
else, and one day as he lay under a rock, watching a shepherd passing
across the opposite hillside, he tried to summon courage to call him;
but judging him to be one of those whom he had already asked for tidings
of Jesus, he let him go, and fell to thinking of the look that would
come into the shepherd's face on hearing the same question put to him
again. A poor demented man! he would mutter to himself as he went away.
Nor was Joseph sure that his mind was not estranged from him. He could
no longer fix it upon anything: it wandered as incontinently as the wind
among the hills, and very often he seemed to have come back to himself
after a long absence, but without any memory. Yet he must have been
thinking of something; and he was trying to recall his thoughts, when
the shepherd came back into view again and Joseph remarked to himself
that he was without a flock. He seemed to be seeking something, for
from a sheer edge he peered down into the valley. A ewe that has fallen
over, no doubt, Joseph thought; but what concern of mine is that
shepherd who has lost a ewe, and whether he will find his ewe or will
fail to find it? Of no concern whatever, he said to himself,
and--forgetful of the shepherd--he began to watch the evening gathering
in the sky. Very soon, he said, the hills will be folded in a dim blue
veil, and sleep will perchance blot out the misery that has brooded in
me all this livelong day, he muttered. May I never see another, but
close my eyes for ever on the broad ruthless light. Of what avail to
witness another day? All days are alike to me.

It seemed to Joseph that he was of a sort dead already, for he could
detach himself from himself, and consider himself as indifferently as he
might a blade of grass. My life, he said, is like these bare hills, and
the one thing left for me to desire is death.

A footstep aroused him from his dream. The man whom he had seen on the
hillside yonder had crossed the valley, and he began to describe the
animals he had lost, before Joseph recovered from his reverie. No, he
said, I have seen no camels. Camels might have passed him by without his
seeing them, but there was no obligation on him to confide his misery to
the shepherd, a rough, bearded man in a sheepskin, who thanked him and
was about to go, when Joseph called after him: if you want help to seek
your camels, I'll come with you. Even the company of this man were
better than his loneliness; and together they crossed some hills. Why,
there be my camels, as I'm alive! the camel-driver cried. Joseph had
brought him luck, for in a valley close at hand the camels were found,
staring into emptiness. Strange abstractions! Joseph said to himself,
and then to the camel-driver: since I have found your camels, who knows
but that you may tell me of one Jesus, an Essene from the cenoby on the
eastern bank of the Jordan? A shepherd of these hills? the man asked,
and Joseph replied: yes, indeed. To which the camel-driver answered: if
I hear of him, I'll send him a message that you are looking for him, and
I'll send you word that he has been found. But you'll never find him,
Joseph answered. You didn't think you would find my camels, the driver
replied; but so it fell out, and if I could only find a few more camels,
or the money to buy them, I could lay down a great trade in figs between
Jericho and Jerusalem; he related simply, not knowing that the man he
was talking to could give him all the money he required; telling that
figs ripen earlier in Jericho, especially if the trees have the
advantage of high rocks behind them.

It pleased Joseph to listen to his patter: it seemed to him that his
father was talking to him, and he was plunged in such misery that he had
to extricate himself somehow. So he signed the deed that evening, and
within a month a caravan laden with figs went forth and wended its way
safely to Jerusalem. Another caravan followed a few weeks after, and
still larger profits were made, and these becoming known to certain
thieves, the next caravan was waylaid and driven away to the coast, and
the figs shipped to some foreign part or sold to unscrupulous dealers,
who knew them to be stolen. The loss was so great that Gaddi said to
Joseph: if we lose a second caravan we shall be worse off than we were
when we began, and we shall lose a third and a fourth, unless the
robbers be driven out of their caves. Let us then go to the Roman
governor, Pilate, and lay our case before him. Joseph had no fault to
find with Gaddi's words, and he said: it may be that I shall go to
Pilate myself, for I am known to him through my father, who trades
largely between Tiberias and Antioch with salt fish.

It so happened that Pilate had received instructions from Rome to give
every protection to trade, it being hoped thereby to win the Jews from
religious disputations, which always ended in riots. Pilate therefore
now found the occasion he needed. Joseph had brought it to him, for the
ridding of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho would evince his
ability as administrator; and with his hand in his beard, his fine eyes
bent favourably upon Joseph, he promised that all the forces of the
Roman Empire would be employed to smoke out these nests of robbers. From
the account given by Joseph of the caves, he did not deem it worth
while to send soldiers groping through the darkness of rocks; he was of
opinion that bundles of damp straw would serve the purpose admirably;
and turning to the captain of the guard he appealed to him, and got for
answer that a few trusses of damp straw would send forth such a reek
that all within the cave would be choked, or reel out half blinded.

Joseph reminded Pilate and the captain of the guard that the openings of
the caves were not always accessible, but abutted over a ledge away down
a precipitous cliff. It might be necessary to lower soldiers down in
baskets, or the caves might be closed with mortised stones. Joseph's
counsel was wise; the closing of the caves proved very efficacious in
ridding the hills of robbers, though in some cases the robbers managed
to pick a way out, and then sought other caves, which were not difficult
to find, the hills abounding in such places of hiding. A cave would
sometimes have two outlets, and it was hard to get the shepherds to
betray the robbers, their fear of them was so great. But within six
months the larger dens were betrayed, and while the robbers writhed the
last hours of their lives away on crosses, long trains of camels and
asses pursued their way from Jericho to Jerusalem and back again,
without fear of molestation, the remnant of robbers never daring to do
more than draw away a single camel or ass found astray from the
encampment.

The result of all this labour was that figs were no longer scarce in
Jerusalem; and when a delay in bringing wheat from Moab was announced to
Pilate, he sent a messenger to Joseph, it having struck him that the
transport service so admirably organised by them both was capable of
development. A hundred camels, Joseph answered, needs a great sum, but
perhaps Gaddi, my partner, may have some savings or my father may give
me the money.

And with Pilate's eyes full upon him, Joseph sat thinking of the lake,
recalling every bight and promontory, and asking himself how it was that
he had not thought of Galilee for so long a time. He longed to set eyes
on Magdala, and he would have ridden away at once, but an escort would
have to be ordered, for a single horseman could not ride through Samaria
without a certainty of being robbed before he got to the end of his
journey. Pilate's voice roused Joseph from his reverie, and after
apologising to the Roman magistrate for his absentmindedness, he went
away to consult hurriedly with Gaddi, and then to make preparations for
the journey. It was a journey of three days on horseback, he was told,
but of two days only on camel-back, for a camel can walk three miles an
hour for eighteen hours. But what should I be doing on a camel's back
for eighteen hours? Joseph cried, and the driver showed Joseph how with
his legs strapped on either side of the beast he could lie back in the
pack and sleep away many hours. Your head, sir, would soon get
accustomed to the rocking. But I should have to leave my horse behind,
Joseph said. He was fain to see his father and the lake; he was already
there in spirit, and would like to transport his cumbersome body there
in the least possible time; but he could not separate himself from
Xerxes, a beautiful horse that he had brought with him from Egypt--a
dark grey--a sagacious animal that would neigh at the sound of his voice
and follow him like a dog, and when they encamped for the night, wander
in search of herbage and come back when he was called, or wait for him
like a wooden horse at an inn door.

Horse and horseman seemed a match the morning they went away to Galilee
together, Xerxes all bits and bridles, stirrups and trappings, and
Joseph equipped for the journey not less elaborately than his horse. He
wore a striped shirt and an embroidered vest with two veils falling from
his turban over his shoulders, and as he was not going to visit the
Essenes, he did not forget to provide himself with weapons: a curved
scimitar hung by his side and the jewelled hilt of a dagger showed above
his girdle. His escort not having arrived yet, he waited; taking
pleasure in the arch of Xerxes' neck when the horse turned his head
towards him, and in the dark courageous eyes and the beautifully turned
hoof that pawed the earth so prettily. At last the five spearmen and
their captain appeared, and Xerxes, who seemed to recognise the escort
as a sign for departure, presented his left side for Joseph to mount
him. As soon as his master was in the saddle, he shook his accoutrements
and sprang forward at the head of the cavalcade, Joseph crying back: he
must have the sound of hoofs behind him. He could refuse his horse
nothing, and suffered him to canter some few hundred yards up the road,
though it was not customary to leave the escort behind, and when Joseph
returned, the foreman told him, as he expected he would, that it would
be well not to tire his horse by galloping him at the beginning of the
journey, for a matter of thirty miles lay in front of them. Thirty miles
the first day, he said, and fifty the second day; for by this division
he would leave twenty-five miles for the third day; and Joseph learnt
that the captain had arranged the journey in this wise for the sake of
the inns, for though they would meet an inn every twenty miles, there
were but three good inns between Jerusalem and Tiberias. He had
arranged too with a view to the rest at midday. Our way lies, he said,
through the large shallow valley, and that is why I started at six. It
is about four hours hence, so we shall be through it well before noon.
But why must we pass through it before noon? Joseph asked. Because, the
captain answered, the rocks on either side are heated after noon like
the walls of an oven, and man and beast choke in it. But once we get out
of the valley, we shall have pleasant country. You know the hills, Sir;
and Joseph remembered the rounded hills and Azariah's condemnation of
the felling of the forests, a condemnation that the captain agreed with;
for though it was true that the woods afforded cover for wolves, still
it was not wise to fell the trees; for when the woods go, the captain
said, the country will lose its fertility. He was a loquacious fellow,
knowing the country well, wherefore pleasant to ride alongside of, and
the hours passed quickly, hearing him relate his life. And when after
two days' riding Joseph wearied of his foreman's many various relations,
his eyes admired the slopes, now greener than they would be again till
another year passed. The fig-trees were sending out shoots, the vines
were in little leaf, and the fragrance of the vineyards and fig gardens
was sweet in the cool morning when the dusk melted away and
rose-coloured clouds appeared above the hills; and as Joseph rode he
liked to think that the spectacle of the cavalcade faring through the
vine-clad hills would abide in his memory, and that in years to come he
would be able to recall it exactly as he now saw it--all the faces of
the spearmen and their odd horses; even his foreman's discourses would
become a pleasure to remember when time would redeem them of triteness
and commonplace; the very weariness he now experienced in listening to
them would, too, become a perennial source of secret amusement to him
later on. But for the moment he could not withstand his foreman a moment
longer, and made no answer when he came interrupting his meditations
with tiresome learning regarding the great acacia-tree into whose shade
Joseph had withdrawn himself. He was content to enjoy the shade and the
beauty of the kindly tree that flourished among rocks where no one would
expect a tree to flourish, and did not need to be told that the roots of
a tree seek water instinctively, and that the roots of the acacia seek
water and find it, about three feet down. The acacia gave the captain an
opportunity to testify of his knowledge, and Joseph remembered suddenly
that he would be returning to Jerusalem with him in three days, for not
more than three days would his escort remain in Galilee, resting their
horses, unless they were paid a large sum of money; and with that escort
idle in the village the thought would never be out of his mind that in a
few days he would be listening to his foreman all the way back to
Jerusalem.

Impossible! He couldn't go back to Jerusalem in three days, nor in three
weeks. His father would be mortally grieved if he did; and Pilate
himself would be surprised to see him back so soon and think him lacking
altogether in filial affection if, after an absence of more than two
years, he could stay only three days with his father. He must, however,
send a letter to Pilate and one that consisted with all the
circumstances. The barely stirring foliage of the acacia inspired a
desire of composition: a more favourable moment than the present, or a
more inspiring spot, he did not think he would be likely to find. He
called for his tablets and fell to thinking, but hardly filled in the
first dozen lines when his foreman--this time apologising for the
intrusion--came to tell him that if he wished to reach Magdala that
evening they must start at once. He could not but acquiesce, and--as if
contemptuous of the protection of his escort--he rode on in front,
wishing to be left alone so that he might seek out the terms of his
letter, and his mood of irritated perplexity did not pass away till he
came within sight of the great upland, rising, however, so gently that
he did not think Xerxes would mind ascending it at a gallop. As soon as
he reached the last crest, he would see the lake alone, having--thanks
to the speed of Xerxes--escaped from his companions for at least five
minutes. He looked forward to these moments eagerly yet not altogether
absolved from apprehension of a spiritual kind, for the lake always
seemed to him a sort of sign, symbol or hieroglyphic, in which he read a
warning addressed specially, if not wholly, to himself. The meaning that
the lake held out to him always eluded him, and never more completely
than now, at the end of an almost windless spring evening.

It came into view a moment sooner than he thought for, and in an
altogether different aspect--bluer than ever seen by him in memory or
reality--and, he confessed to himself, more beautiful. Like a great harp
it lay below him, and his eyes followed the coast-lines widening out in
an indenture of the hills: on one side desert, on the other richly
cultivated ascents, with villages and one great city, Tiberias--its
domes, cupolas, towers and the high cliffs abutting the lake between
Tiberias and Magdala bathed in a purple glow as the sun went down. My
own village! he said, and it was a pleasure to him to imagine his father
sipping sherbet on his balcony, in good humour, no doubt, the weather
being so favourable to fish-taking. Now which are Peter's boats among
these? he asked himself, his eyes returning to the fishing fleet. And
which are John's and James's boats? He could tell that all the nets were
down by the reefed sails crossed over, for the boats were before the
wind. A long pull back it will be to Capernaum, he was thinking, a
matter of thirteen or fourteen miles, for the leading boat is not more
than a mile from the mouth of the Jordan. Then, raising his eyes from
the fishing-boats, he followed the coast-lines again, seeking the shapes
of the wooded hills, rising in gently cadenced ascents.

A more limpid evening never breathed upon a lake! he said; and when he
raised his eyes a second time they rested on the ravines of Hermon far
away in the north, still full of the winter's snow; and--being a
Galilean--he knew they would keep their snow for another month at least.
The eagerness of the spring would then be well out of the air; and I
shall be thinking, he continued, of returning to Jerusalem and
concerning myself once more with Pilate's business. But what a beautiful
evening! still and pure as a crystal.

A bird floated past, his black eyes always watchful. The bird turned
away to join his mates, and Joseph bade his escort watch the flock: a
bird here and a bird there swooping and missing and getting no doubt
sometimes a fish that had ventured too near the surface--that one
leaving his mates, flying high towards Magdala, to be there, he said, in
a few minutes, by my father's house; and in another hour thou shalt be
in thy stable, thy muzzle in the corn, he whispered into his horse's
ear; and calling upon his comrades to put their heels into their tired
steeds, he turned Xerxes into the great road leading to Tiberias.

But there were some Jews among the escort who shrank from entering a
pagan city. Their prejudices might be overcome with argument, but it
were simpler to turn their horses' heads to the west and then to the
north as soon as the city was passed. The detour would be a long one,
but it were shorter than argument: yet argument he did not escape from,
for as they rode through the open country behind Tiberias, some declared
that Herod was not a pure Jew; and to make their points clearer they
often reined up their horses, to the annoyance of Joseph, who could not
bring the discussion to an end without seeming indifferent to the law
and the traditions. But, happily, it had to end before long, for within
three miles of Magdala they were riding in single file down deep lanes
along whose low dykes the cactus crawled, hooking itself along. One lane
led into another. A network of deep lanes wound round Magdala, which,
judging by the number of new dwellings, seemed to have prospered since
Joseph had last seen it. Humble dwellings no doubt, Joseph said to
himself, but bread is not lacking, nor fish. Then he thought of the
wharves his father had built for the boats, and the workshops for the
making of the barrels into which the fish was packed. Magdala owed its
existence to Dan's forethought, and he had earned his right, Joseph
thought, to live in the tall house which he had built for his pleasure
in a garden amid tall acacia-trees that every breeze that blew up from
the lake set in motion.

If ever a man, Joseph thought, earned his right to a peaceable old age
amid pleasant surroundings, that man was his father; and he thought of
him returning from his counting-house to his spacious verandah, thinking
of the barrels of salt fish that he would send away the following week,
if the fishers were letting down their nets with fortunate enterprise.



CHAP. X.


A very good guessing of his father's wonts and thoughts was that of
Joseph while riding from Tiberias, for as the horsemen came up the lane
at a canter the old man was wending homeward from his counting-house,
wishing Peter and Andrew, James and John and the rest good fortune with
their nets, or else, he had begun to think, the order from Damascus
cannot----- The completed sentence would probably have run: cannot be
executed, but the sound of the hooves of Joseph's horse checked the
words on his lips and he had to squeeze himself against the ditch, to
escape being trodden upon. Joseph sprang from the saddle. Father, I
haven't hurt you, I hope? I was dreaming. Why, Joseph, it is you! You
haven't hurt me, and I was dreaming too. But what a beautiful horse you
are riding! Aren't you afraid he will run away? Up and down these lanes
he would give us a fine chase. No, Joseph replied, he'll follow me. And
the horse followed them, pushing his head against Joseph's shoulder from
time to time; but Joseph was too much engaged with his father to do more
than whistle to Xerxes when he lingered to browse.

As we rode past Tiberias, I had imagined you, Father, sitting in the
verandah drinking sherbet. We will have some presently, Dan answered. I
was detained at my business. Tell me, Father, how are the monkeys and
the parrots? Much the same as you left them, Dan answered, as he laid
his hand on the latch of the large wooden gate. A servant came forward
to conduct them, and Joseph threw his reins to him.

A monkey came hopping across the sward and jumped on to Joseph's
shoulder. Another came, and then a third. Dan would have been annoyed if
the monkeys had not recognised Joseph, for it seemed to him quite
natural that all things should love Joseph. You see, he continued, the
parrots are screaming and dancing on their perches, waiting for you to
scratch their polls. Joseph complied, and then Dan wearied of the
monkeys, which were absorbing Joseph's attention, and drove them away.
You haven't told me that you're glad to be back in Galilee in front of
that beautiful lake. Jerusalem has its temple but God made the lake
himself. But you don't seem as pleased to be back as I'd like. Father,
it is of thee I'm thinking and not of temples or lakes, Joseph answered,
and for a moment Dan could not speak, so deep was his happiness, and so
intense. Overcome by it, they walked a little way and Joseph followed
his father up the tall stairs on to the verandahed balcony, and when
they had drunk some sherbet and Joseph had vowed he had not tasted any
like it, Dan interposed suddenly: but thou hast not told me, Joseph, how
thou camest by thy beautiful horse. He came from Egypt, Joseph answered
casually, and was about to add that he was an Egyptian horse, but on
second thoughts it seemed to him that it would be well not to speak the
word "Egypt" again: to do so might put another question into his
father's mouth; he would not commit himself to a rank lie, and to tell
that he had gone to Egypt could not do else than lead him into an
intricate story which would indispose his father to listen to Pilate's
projects, or at least estrange Dan's mind from a calm judgment of them;
so he resolved to omit all mention of Banu, Jesus and Egypt and to begin
his narrative with an account of his meeting with the camel-driver
Gaddi. But the camel-driver seemed to be the last person that Dan was
interested in. But he's my partner! Joseph exclaimed, and it was he who
sent me to Pilate. I'll tell thee about the Essenes afterwards. And
feeling that he had at last succeeded in fixing his father's attention
on that part of the story which he wished to tell him, Joseph said: an
excellent governor, one who is ready to listen to all schemes for the
furtherance of commercial enterprise in Judea: he has ridded the hills
of the robbers; and his account of the summer in the desert with the
Roman soldiers, smoking out nest after nest and putting on crosses those
that were taken alive interested the old man. I wish he would start on
Samaria, Dan mentioned casually; and Joseph replied, and he will as soon
as he is certain that he can rely on the help of men like thee. Pilate's
favour is worth winning, Father, and it can be won. I doubt thee not,
but wilt tell how it may be won, my boy? By falling in with his
projects, Joseph answered, and began his relation. And when he had
finished, Dan sat meditating, casting up the account: Pilate's good will
is desirable, he said, but a large sum of money will have to be
advanced. But, Father, the carrying trade has been a great success.
Well, let us go into figures, Joseph. And they balanced the profits
against the losses. Without doubt thou hast done well this last half
year, Dan said, and if business don't fall away---- But, Father, Joseph
interrupted, think of the profit my account would have shown if we had
not lost two convoys. The loss has already been very nearly paid off.
There are no more robbers and the demand for figs is steady in
Jerusalem. Figs ripen much earlier---- Say no more, Joseph. My money is
thy money, and if fifty camels be wanted, thou shalt have them. 'Tis the
least I can do for thee, for thou hast ever been a frugal son, Joseph,
and art deserving of all I have. So Pilate has heard of my fish-salting
and maybe that was why he met thee on such fair terms. That has much to
do with it, Joseph replied, and he watched the look of satisfaction that
came into his father's face. But tell me, Joseph, has all this long time
been spent smoking out robbers? Tell me again of their caves. Well,
Father, the caves often opened on to ledges, and we had to lower the
soldiers in baskets.

And the tale how one great cavern was besieged amused the old man till
he was nigh to clapping his hands with delight and to reminding Joseph
of the time when he used to ask his grandmother to tell him stories.
Were she here she'd like to hear thee telling thy stories. Thou wast in
her thoughts to the last and now we shall never see her any more,
however great our trouble may be; and in the midst of a great silence
they fell to thinking how the same black curtain would drop between them
and the world. She has gone away to Arimathea, Joseph, whence we came
and whither I shall follow her. We go forward a little way but to go
back again. But I can't talk of deaths and graves. Go on telling me
about Pilate and the robbers, for I've been busy all day in the
counting-house adding up figures, and to listen to a good tale is a rare
distraction. Yet I wouldn't talk of them either, Joseph, but of thyself
and thy horse that all the country will be talking about the day after
to-morrow, when thou'lt ride him into the town. And now say it, Joseph:
ye are a wee bit tired, isn't that so? Nay, Father, not a bit. We have
come but twenty miles from the last halt, and as for the telling of my
story, maybe the loose ends which I've forgotten for the moment will
unravel themselves while we're talking of fish-salting--of the many
extra barrels you've sent out. Now, Father, say how many? At it, Joseph,
as beforetimes, rallying thy old father! Well, I've not done so badly,
but a drop in the year's trading is never a pleasant thought, though it
be but a barrel. And he began again his complaint against the government
of Antipas, who had never encouraged trade as he should have done. Now,
if we had a man here such as thy friend Pilate, I'd not be saying too
much were I to say that my trade could be doubled. But Pilate has no
authority in Galilee. Joseph thought that Pilate's authority should be
extended. But how can that be done? Dan inquired, and being embarrassed
for an answer, Joseph pressed Dan to confide in him, a thing which Dan
showed no wish to do; but at last his reluctance was overcome, and shyly
he admitted that his despondency had nothing to do with Antipas nor with
a casual drop in the order from Damascus, but with a prophet that was
troubling the neighbourhood. A very dangerous prophet, too, is this one;
but I am afraid, Joseph, we don't view prophets in exactly the same
light. Joseph was about to laugh, but seeing the smile coming into his
eyes, his father begged him to wait till he heard the whole story.

He called up all his attention into his face, and the story he heard was
that the new prophet, who came up from Jordan about a year ago, was
preaching that the Lord was so outraged at the conduct of his chosen
people that he had determined to destroy the world, and might begin the
wrecking of it any day of the week. But before the world ends there'll
be wars. Joseph said: but there has been none, nor have I heard rumours
of any. We don't hear much what's going on up here in Galilee, Dan
answered, and he continued his story: the new prophet had persuaded many
of the fishers to lay down their nets. Simon Peter, thou rememberest
him? Well, he's the prophet's right-hand man, and now casts a net but
seldom. And thou hast not forgotten James and John, sons of Zebedee?
They come next in the prophet's favour, and there are plenty of others
walking about the village, neglecting their work and telling of the
judgment and the great share of the world that'll come to them when the
prophet returns from heaven in a chariot. Among them is Matthew, a
publican, the only one that can read or write. You don't remember him?
Now I come to think on it, he was appointed soon after thou wentest to
Jerusalem. Soon after I went to Jerusalem? Joseph asked; was the prophet
preaching then? No. It all began soon after thy departure for Jerusalem
about a year ago; a more ignorant lot of fellows thou'st be puzzled to
find, if thou wert to travel the world over in search of them. The
prophet himself comes from the most ignorant village in
Galilee--Nazareth. But why look like that, Joseph? What ails thee? Go
on, Father, with thy telling of the prophet from Nazareth. He started in
Nazareth, Dan answered, but none paid any heed to him but made a mock of
him, for he'd have us believe that he is the Messiah that the Jews have
been expecting for many a year. But it was predicted that the Messiah
will be born in Bethlehem; and everybody knows that Jesus was born in
Nazareth. There's some talk, too, that he comes from the line of David,
but everybody knows that Jesus is the son of Joseph the Carpenter. His
mother and his brothers tried all they could do to dissuade him from
preaching about the judgment, which he knows no more about than the
next one, but he wouldn't listen to them. A good quiet woman, his
mother; I know her well and am sorry for her; but she has better sons in
James and Jude. Joseph her husband, I knew him in days gone by--a
God-fearing honest man, whom one could always entrust with a day's work.
He doted on his eldest son, though he never could teach him to handle a
saw with any skill, for his thoughts were always wandering, and when an
Essene came up to Galilee in search of neophytes, Jesus took his fancy
and they went away together. But what ails thee? As soon as Joseph could
get control of his voice, he asked his father if the twain were gone
away together to the cenoby on the eastern bank of Jordan, and Dan
answered that he thought he had heard of the great Essenes' encampment
by the Dead Sea. A fellow fair-spoken enough, Dan continued, that has
bewitched the poor folk about the lakeside. But, Joseph, thy cheek is
like ashes, and thou'rt all of a tremble: drink a little sherbet, my
boy. No, Father, no. Tell me, is the Galilean as tall or as heavy as I
am, or of slight build, with a forehead broad and high? And does he walk
as if he were away and in communion with his Father in heaven? But what
ails thee, my son? What ails thee? He came from the cenoby on the
eastern shores of the Jordan? Joseph continued; and has been here nearly
two years? He received baptism from John in the Jordan? Isn't that so,
Father? I know naught of his baptism, Dan answered, but he'll fall into
trouble. I was with Banu, Joseph said, when the hermit saw him in a
vision receiving baptism from John; but though I ran, I was too late,
and ever since have sought Jesus, in Egypt and afterwards among the
hills of Judea. I can't tell thee more at present, but would go out into
the garden or perhaps wander by myself for a little while under the
cliffs by the lake. Thou'lt forgive me this sudden absence, Father?

Dan put down his glass of sherbet and looked after his son. He had been
so happy for a little while, and now unhappiness was by again.



CHAP. XI.


The dogs barked as he unlocked the gate, but a few words quieted them
(they still remembered his voice) and he crept upstairs to his room,
weary in body and sore of foot, for he had come a long way, having
accompanied Jesus, whom he had met under the cliffs abutting the lake,
to the little pathway cut in the shoulder of the hill that leads to
Capernaum. He had not recognised him as he passed, which was not
strange, so unseemly were the ragged shirt and the cloak of camel's or
goat's hair he wore over it, patched along and across, one long tatter
hanging on a loose thread. It caught in his feet, and perforce he
hitched it up as he walked, and Joseph remembered that he looked upon
the passenger as a mendicant wonder-worker on his round from village to
village. But Jesus had not gone very far when Joseph was stopped by a
memory of a face seen long ago: a pale bony olive face, lit with
brilliant eyes. It is he! he cried; and starting in pursuit and quickly
overtaking Jesus, he called his name. Jesus turned, and there was no
doubt when the men stood face to face that the shepherd Joseph had seen
in the cenoby in converse with the president, and the wandering beggar
by the lake shore, were one and the same person. Jesus asked him which
way he was walking, and he answered that all directions were the same
to him, for he was only come out for a breath of fresh air before
bed-time. But thinking he had expressed himself vulgarly, he added other
words and waited for Jesus to speak of the beauty of God's handiwork.
Jesus merely mentioned in answer that he was going to Capernaum, where
he lodged with Simon Peter. But he had not forgotten the brotherhood by
the Dead Sea, and invited Joseph to accompany him and tell him of those
whom he had left behind. We are of the same brotherhood, he said; and
then, as if noticing Joseph's embarrassment, or you are a proselyte,
maybe, who at the end of the first year retired from the order? Many do
so. Joseph did not know how to answer this question, for he had not
obtained permission from the president to seek Jesus in Egypt, and it
seemed to him that the most truthful account he could give of himself at
the cenoby was to say that he was not there long enough to consider
himself even a proselyte. He lived in the cenoby as a visitor, rather
than as one attached to the order; but how far he might consider himself
an Essene did not matter to anybody. Besides he wished to hear Jesus
talk rather than to talk about himself, so he compared his residence
with the Essenes to a clue out of which a long thread had unravelled: a
thread, he said, that led me into the desert in search of thee.

Jesus had known Banu, in the desert, and listened attentively while
Joseph told him how Banu was interrupted while speaking of the
resurrection by a vision of John baptizing Jesus, and had bidden him go
to Jordan and get baptism from John. But it was not John's baptism I
sought, but thee, and I arrived breathless, to hear that thou hadst gone
away with him, John not being able to bear the cold of the water any
longer. Afterwards I sought thee hither and thither, till hearing of
thee in Egypt I went there and sought thee from synagogue to synagogue.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home
to find it, Jesus answered gently, and in a tenderer voice than his
scrannel peacock throat would have led one to expect. And as if
foreseeing an ardent disciple he began to speak to Joseph of God, his
speech moving on with a gentle motion like that of clouds wreathing and
unwreathing, finding new shapes for every period, and always beautiful
shapes. He often stopped speaking and his eyes became fixed, as if he
saw beyond the things we all see; and after an interval he would begin
to speak again; and Joseph heard that he had met John among the hills
and listened to him, and that if he accepted baptism from him it was
because he wished to follow John: but John sought to establish the
kingdom of God within the law, and so a dancing-girl asked for his head.
It seemed as if Jesus were on the point of some tremendous avowal, but
if so it passed away like a cloud, and he put his hand on Joseph's
shoulder affectionately and asked him to tell him about Egypt, a country
which he said he had never heard of before. Whereupon Joseph raised his
eyes and saw in Jesus a travelling wonder-worker come down from a
northern village--a peasant, without knowledge of the world and of the
great Roman Empire. At every step Jesus' ignorance of the world
surprised Joseph more and more. He seemed to believe that all the
nations were at war, and from further discourse Joseph learnt that Jesus
could not speak Greek, and he marvelled at his ignorance, for Jesus only
knew such Hebrew as is picked up in the synagogues. He did not seek to
conceal his ignorance of this world from Joseph, and almost made parade
of it, as if he was aware that one must discard a great deal to gain a
little, as if he would impress this truth upon Joseph, almost as if he
would reprove him for having spent so much time on learning Greek, for
instance, and Greek philosophy. He treated these things as negligible
when Joseph spoke of them, and evinced more interest in Joseph himself,
who admitted he had returned from philosophy to the love of God.

Now sitting on his bed, kept awake by his memories, Joseph relived in
thought the hours he had spent with Jesus. He seemed to comprehend the
significance of every word much better now than when he was with Jesus,
and he deplored his obtuseness and revised all the answers given to
Jesus. He remembered with sorrow how he tried to explain to Jesus the
teaching of the Alexandrian philosophers regarding the Scriptures,
paining Jesus very much by his recital but he had continued to explain
for the sake of the answer that he knew would come at last. It did come.
He remembered Jesus saying that philosophies change in different men,
but the love of God is the same in all men. A great truth, Joseph said
to himself, for every school is in opposition to another school. But how
did Jesus come to know this being without philosophy? He had been
tempted to ask how he was able to get at the truth of things without the
Greek language and without education, but refrained lest a question
should break the harmony of the evening. The past was not yet past and
sitting on his bed in the moonlight Joseph could re-see the plain
covered with beautiful grasses and flowers, with low flowering bushes
waving over dusky headlands, for it was dark as they crossed the plain;
and they had heard rather than seen the rushing stream, bubbling out of
the earth, making music in the still night. He knew the stream from
early childhood, but he had never really known it until he stood with
Jesus under the stars by the narrow pathway cut in the shoulder of the
hill, whither the way leads to Capernaum, for it was there that Jesus
took his hands and said the words: "Our Father which is in Heaven." At
these words their eyes were raised to the skies, and Jesus said: whoever
admires the stars and the flowers finds God in his heart and sees him in
his neighbour's face. And as Joseph sat, his hands on his knees, he
recalled the moment that Jesus turned from him abruptly and passed into
the shadow of the hillside that fell across the flowering mead. He heard
his footsteps and had listened, repressing the passionate desire to
follow him and to say: having found thee, I can leave thee never again.
It was fear of Jesus that prevented him from following Jesus, and he
returned slowly the way he came, his eyes fixed on the stars, for the
day was now well behind the hills and the night all over the valley,
calm and still. The stars in their allotted places, he said: as they
have always been and always will be. He stood watching them. Behind the
stars that twinkled were stars that blazed; behind the stars that
blazed were smaller stars, and behind them a sort of luminous dust. And
all this immensity is God's dwelling-place, he said. The stars are God's
eyes; we live under his eyes and he has given us a beautiful garden to
live in. Are we worthy of it? he asked; and Jew though he was he forgot
God for a moment in the sweetness of the breathing of earth, for there
is no more lovely plain in the spring of the year than the Plain of
Gennesaret.

Every breath of air brought a new and exquisite scent to him, and
through the myrtle bushes he could hear the streams singing their way
down to the lake; and when he came to the lake's edge he heard the
warble that came into his ear when he was a little child, which it
retained always. He heard it in Egypt, under the Pyramids, and the
cataracts of the Nile were not able to silence it in his ears. But
suddenly from among the myrtle bushes a song arose. It began with a
little phrase of three notes, which the bird repeated, as if to impress
the listener and prepare him for the runs and trills and joyous little
cadenzas that were to follow. A sudden shower of jewels it seemed like,
and when the last drops had fallen the bird began another song, a
continuation of the first, but more voluptuous and intense; and then, as
if he felt that he had set the theme sufficiently, he started away into
new trills and shakes and runs, piling cadenza upon cadenza till the
theme seemed lost, but the bird held it in memory while all his musical
extravagances were flowing, and when the inevitable moment came he
repeated the first three notes. Again Joseph heard the warbling water,
and it seemed to him that he could hear the stars throbbing. It was one
of those moments when the soul of man seems to break, to yearn for that
original unity out of which some sad fate has cast it--a moment when the
world seems to be one thing and not several things: the stars and the
stream, the odours afloat upon the stream, the bird's song and the words
of Jesus: whosoever admires the stars and flowers finds God in his
heart, seemed to become all blended into one extraordinary harmony; and
unable to resist the emotion of the moment any longer, Joseph threw
himself upon the ground and prayed that the moment he was living in
might not be taken from him, but that it might endure for ever. But
while he prayed, the moment was passing, and becoming suddenly aware
that it had gone, he rose from his knees and returned home mentally
weary and sad at heart; but sitting on his bedside the remembrance that
he was to meet Jesus in the morning at Capernaum called up the ghost of
a departed ecstasy, and his head drowsing upon his pillow he fell
asleep, hushed by remembrances.



CHAP. XII.


A few hours later he was speeding along the lake's edge in the bright
morning, happy as the bird singing in the skies, when the thought like a
dagger-thrust crossed his mind that being the son of a rich man Jesus
could not receive him as a disciple, only the poor were welcome into the
brotherhood of the poor. His father had told him as much, and the beggar
whom he had met under the cliffs, smelling of rags and raw garlic,
expressed the riches of simplicity. Happy, happy evening, for ever gone
by! Happy ignorance already turned into knowledge! For in Peter's house
Jesus would hear that the man whom he had met under the cliffs was the
son of the fish-salter of Magdala, and perhaps they knew enough of his
story to add, who has been making money in Jerusalem himself and has no
doubt come to Galilee to engage his father in some new trade that will
extort more money from the poor. He is not for thy company. A great
aversion seized him for Capernaum, and he walked, overcome with grief,
to the lake's edge and stooped to pick up a smooth stone, thinking to
send it skimming over the water, as he used to when a boy; but there was
neither the will nor the strength in him for the innocent sport, and he
lay down, exhausted in mind and body, to lament this new triumph of the
demon that from the beginning of his life thwarted him and interrupted
all his designs--this time intervening at the last moment as if with a
purpose of great cruelty. This demon seemed to him to descend out of the
blue air and sometimes to step out of the blue water, and Joseph was
betimes moved to rush into the lake, for there seemed to him no other
way of escaping from him. Then he would turn back from the foam and the
reeds, and pray to the demon to leave him for some little while in
peace: let me be with Jesus for a little while, and then I'll do thy
bidding. Tie the tongues of those that would tell him I'm the son of a
rich man--Simon Peter, James and John, sons of Zebedee. James would say
a word in his favour, but Jesus would answer: why did he not tell these
things to me overnight? And if he loves me, why does he not rid himself
of the wealth that separates him from me?

Well, young Master, cried somebody behind him, now what be ye thinking
over this fine morning? Of the fish the nets will bring to be safely
packed away in your father's barrels? My father's barrels be accursed!
Joseph exclaimed, springing to his feet. And why dost thou call me
master? I'm not master, nor art thou servant. And then, his eyes opening
fully to the external world, he recognised the nearly hunchback Philip
of Capernaum--a high-necked, thick-set fellow, in whom a hooked nose and
prominent eyes were the distinguishing features. A sail-maker, that
spoke with a sharp voice, and Joseph remembered him as combining the
oddest innocence of mind regarding spiritual things with a certain
shrewdness in the conduct of his business. Thy voice startled me out of
a dream, Joseph said, and I knew not what I said. Beg pardon,
Master--but the word "Sir" you like no better, and it would sound
unseemly to call you "Joseph" and no more. As we are not born the same
height nor strength nor wits, such little differences as "Sir" and
"Master" get into our speech. All those that love God are the same, and
there is neither class nor wealth, only love, Joseph answered
passionately. That is the teaching of the new prophet Jesus, Philip
replied, his yapping voice assuming an inveigling tone or something like
one. I was in Magdala yester evening, and spent the night in my debtor's
house, and as we were figuring out the principal and interest a
neighbour came in, and among his several news was that you were seen
walking with Jesus by the lake in the direction of Capernaum. We were
glad to hear that, for having only returned to us last night you did not
know that Jesus has become a great man in these parts, especially since
he has come to lodge in Simon Peter's house. That was a great step for
him. But I must be hastening away, for a meeting is at Simon Peter's
house. And I have promised Jesus to be there too, Joseph answered. Then
we may step the way out together, Philip answered, looking up into
Joseph's face, and--as if he read there encouragement to speak out the
whole of his mind--he continued:

I was saying that it was a great step up for him when Simon Peter took
him to lodge in his house, for beforetimes he had, as the saying is, no
place to lay his head: an outcast from Cana, whither he went first to
his mother's house, and it is said he turned water into wine on one
occasion at a marriage feast; but that cannot be true, for if it were,
there is no reason that I can see why he should stay his hand and not
turn all water into wine. To which Joseph replied that it would be a
great misfortune, for the greater part of men would be as drunk as Noah
was when he planted a vineyard, and we know how Lot's daughters turned
their father's drunkenness to account. Moreover, Philip, if Jesus had
turned all the water into wine there would be no miracle, for a miracle
is a special act performed by someone whom God has chosen as an
instrument. It is as likely as not, Master, that you be right in what
you say, for there's no saying what is true and what is false in this
world, for what one man says another man denies, and it is not even
certain that all men see and hear alike. But, Philip, thou must remember
that though men neither hear nor see alike, yet the love of God is the
same in every man. But is it? Philip asked. For can it be denied that
some men love God in the hope that God may do something for them, while
others love God lest he may punish them. But methinks that such love as
that is more fear than love; and then there are others that can love
God--well, just because it seems to them that God is by them, just as
I'm by you at the present moment. Jesus is such an one. But there be not
many like him, and that was why his teaching found no favour either in
Cana or in Nazareth. In them parts they knew that he was the carpenter's
son, and his mother and his brothers and sisters were a hindrance to
him, for thinking him a bit queer, they came ofttimes to the synagogues
to ask him to come home with them, for they are shrewd enough to see
that such talk as his will bring him no good in the end, for priests are
strong everywhere and have the law of the land on their side, for
governors would make but poor shift to govern without them. But why
then, Philip, shouldst thou who art a cautious man, be going to Peter's
house to meet him? Well, that's the question I've been asking myself all
the morning till I came upon you. Master, sitting by the lake, and not
unlikely you were asking yourself the same question, sitting over yonder
by the lake all by yourself. He casts a spell upon me, I'm thinking, and
has, it would seem to me, cast one upon you, for you went a long way
with him last night, by all accounts. I'd have it from thee, Philip,
how long he has been in these parts? Well, I should say it must be two
years or thereabouts that he came up from Jericho, staying but a little
while in Jerusalem and going on to his mother at Cana, and afterwards
trying his luck, as I have said, in Nazareth. But his mother hasn't seen
him for many a year? He has been away since childhood, living with a
certain sect of Jews called the Essenes, and it was John---- Yes, I know
John was baptizing in Jordan, Joseph interrupted, and he baptized Jesus.
And after that he went into the desert, said Philip hurriedly, for he
did not like being interrupted in his story. He came up to Nazareth, I
was saying, about two years ago, but was thrown out of that city and
came here; he was more fortunate here, picking up bits of food from the
people now and then, who, thinking him harmless, let him sleep in an odd
hole or corner; but he must have often been like dying of hunger by the
wayside, for he was always travelling, going his rounds from village to
village. But luck was on his side, and when he was near dying a
traveller would come by and raise him and give him a little wine. He is
one of those that can do with little, and after the first few months he
had the luck to cast out one or two devils, and finding he could cast
out devils, he turned to the healing of the sick; and many is the
withered limb that he put right, and many a lame man he has set walking
with as good a stride as we are taking now, and many a blind man's eyes
he has opened, and the scrofulous he cured by looking at them--so it is
said. And so his fame grew from day to day; the people love him, for he
asks no money from them, which is a sure way into men's affections; but
those whose children he has cured cannot see him go away hungry, and
they put a loaf into his shirt, for he takes anything that he can get
except money, which he will not look upon. There has been no holier man
in these parts, Sir, these many years. The oldest in the country cannot
remember one like him--my father is nearer ninety than eighty, and he
says that Jesus is a greater man than he ever heard his father tell of,
and he was well into the eighties before he died. Now, Sir, as we are
near to Peter's house, you'll not mind my telling you that there is no
"Sir" or "Master" at Peter's house. But, Philip, has it not already been
said that thou mayst drop such titles as "Sir" and "Master" in
addressing me? And wert thou not at one with me that we should be more
courteous and friendly one between the other without them? Well, yes,
Master, I do recollect some such talk between us, but now that we be
coming into Capernaum it would be well that I should call you "Joseph,"
but "Joseph" would be difficult to me at first, and we are all brothers
amongst us, only Jesus is Master over all of us, and God over him. But
it now strikes my mind that I have not told you how Jesus and Peter
became acquainted.

One day as Jesus was passing on his rounds a man ran out of his house
and besought him to help him to stop some boys who were playing drums
and fifes and psalteries, saying to him: I know not who thou art, but my
wife's mother is dying of fever, and the boys jeer at me and show no
mercy. Let us take stones and cast them at them. But Jesus answered: no
stone is required; and turning to the boys he said: boys, all this woman
asks of you is to be allowed to die in quiet, and you may ask the same
thing some day, and that day may not be long delayed. Whereupon the boys
were ashamed, and Jesus followed Peter into his house and took his
wife's mother's hand and lifted her up a little and placed her head upon
the pillow and bade her sleep, which she did, and seeing that he had
such power Peter asked him to remain in the house till his mother-in-law
opened her eyes, which he did, and he has been there ever since. Now
here we are at the pathway through which Jesus comes and goes every day
on his mission of healing and preaching the love of God. Your father,
Sir, is much opposed to Jesus, who he says has persuaded Peter away from
his fishing and James and John and many others, but no doubt your father
told you these things last night.



CHAP. XIII.


Yonder is Capernaum--or it would have been more in our speech had I
said, why, brother, yonder is Capernaum. But habit's like a fly,
brother, it won't leave us alone, it comes back however often and
angrily we may drive it away.

Joseph made no reply, hoping by silence to quiet Philip's tongue which
returned to the attack, he was fain to admit, not altogether unlike a
fly. He tried not to hear him, for the sight of the town at the head of
the lake awakened recollections of himself and his nurse walking
valiantly, their strength holding out till they reached Capernaum, but
after eating at the inn they were too weary to return to Magdala on foot
and Peter had had to take them back in his boat. Peter's boat was his
adventure in those days, and strangely distinct the day rose up in his
mind that he and Peter had gone forth firm in the resolution that they
would ascend the Jordan as far as the waters of Merom. They succeeded in
dragging the boat over the shallows, but there was much wind on the
distant lake. Peter thought it would not be well to venture out upon it,
and Andrew thought so too. He was now going to see those two brothers
again after a long absence and was not certain whether he was glad or
sorry. It seemed to him that the lake, its towns and villages, were too
inseparably part of himself for him to wish to see them with the
physical eyes, and that it would be wiser to keep this part of Galilee,
the upper reaches of the lake at least, for his meditations; yet he did
not think he would like to return to Magdala without seeing Capernaum.
Perhaps because Jesus was there. That Jesus should have pitched upon
Capernaum as a centre revived his interest in it, and there was a
certain pathetic interest attached to the memory of a question he once
put to his father. He asked him if Capernaum was the greatest city in
the world, and for years after he was teased till Capernaum became
hateful to him; but Capernaum within the last few minutes regained its
place in his affections. And as the town became hallowed in recollection
he cried out to Philip that he could not go farther with him. Not go any
farther with me, Philip answered: now why is that, brother, for Peter is
waiting to see you and will take on mightily when I tell him that you
came to the head of the lake with me and turned back. But it is Peter
whom I fear to meet, Joseph muttered, and then at the sight of the long
lean street slanting down the hillside towards the lake, breaking up
into irregular hamlets, some situated at the water's edge close to the
wharf where Peter's boats lay gently rocking, he repeated: it is Peter
that I fear. But unwilling to take Philip into his confidence he turned
as if to go back to Magdala without further words, but Philip restrained
him, and at last Joseph confessed his grief--that being the son of a
rich man he was not eligible to the society of the poor. You will ask
me, he said, to give up my money to the poor, a thing I would willingly
do for the sake of Jesus, whom I believe to be God's prophet; but how
can I give that which does not belong to me--my father's money? That was
my grief when you found me sitting on the stone by the lake's edge.

Whereupon Philip stood looking at Joseph as one suspended, for the first
time understanding rightly that the rich have their troubles as well as
the poor. At last words coming to him he said: money has been our
trouble since Jesus drew us together, for we would do without money and
yet we know not how this is to be done. Like you, Sir, I'm asking if I'm
to sell my sails, those already out and those in the unrolled material,
and if I do sell and give the money to the poor how am I to live but by
begging of those that have not given their all? But why should I worry
you with our troubles? But your troubles are mine, Joseph answered; and
Philip went away to fetch Peter, who, he said, would be able to tell him
if Jesus could accept a rich man as a disciple. If a man that has a
little be permitted to remain, who is to say how much means
interdiction? Joseph asked himself as he kept watch for Peter to appear
at the corner of the street. And does he know the Master's mind enough
to answer the question of my admission or---- The sentence did not
finish in his mind, for Peter was coming up the street at that moment, a
great broad face coming into its features and expression. The same
high-shouldered fisher as of yore, Joseph said to himself, and he sought
to read in Peter's face the story of Peter's transference from one
master to another. It wasn't the approach of the Great Day, he said, for
Peter never could see beyond his sails and the fins of a fish; and if
Jesus were able to lift his thoughts beyond them he had accomplished a
no less miracle than turning water into wine.

Well, young Master, he said, we're glad to have you back among us
again. There be no place like home for us Galileans. Isn't that so? And
no fishing like that on these coasts? But, Peter, Joseph interrupted, my
father tells me that thou hast laid aside thy nets--but that isn't what
I'm here to talk to thee about, he interjected suddenly, but about Jesus
himself, whom I've been seeking for nearly two years, very nearly since
I parted from you all, well nigh two years ago, isn't it? I've sought
him in the hills of Judea, in Moab, in the Arabian desert and all the
way to Egypt and back again. It's about two years since you went away on
your travels, Master Joseph, and a great fine story there'll be for us
to listen to when our nets are down, Peter said. I'd ask you to begin it
now, Master Joseph, weren't it that the Master is waiting for us over
yonder in my house. And from what Philip tells me you would have my
advice about joining our community, Master Joseph. You've seen no doubt
a good deal of the Temple at Jerusalem and know everything about the
goings on there, and are with us in this--that the Lord don't want no
more fat rams and goats and bullocks, and incense is hateful in his
nostrils. So I've heard. They be Isaiah's words, aren't they, young
Master? But there's no master here, only Jesus: he is Master, and if I
call you "Master" it is from habit of beforetimes. But no offence
intended. You always will be master for me, and I'll be servant always
in a sense, which won't prevent us from being brothers. The Master
yonder will understand and will explain it all to you better than I....
And Peter nodded his great head covered with frizzly hair. But, Peter, I
am a rich man, and my father is too, and none but the poor is admitted
into the Community of Jesus. That's what affrights him, Peter--his
money, Philip interjected, and I have been trying to make him understand
that Jesus won't ask him for his father's money, he not having it to
give away. I'm not so sure of that, Peter said. The Master told us a
story yesterday of a steward who took his master's money and gave it to
the poor, he being frightened lest the poor, whom he hadn't been
over-good to in his lifetime, might not let him into heaven when he
died. And the Master seemed to think that he did well, for he said: it
is well to bank with the poor. Them were his very words. So it seems to
thee, Peter, that I should take my father's money? Joseph asked. Take
your father's money! Peter answered. We wouldn't wrong your father out
of the price of two perch, and never have done, neither myself nor John
and James. Now I won't say as much for---- We love your father, and
never do we forget that when our nets were washed away it was he that
gave us new ones. I am sure thou wouldst not wrong my father, Joseph
answered, and he refrained from asking Peter to explain the relevancy of
the story he had just told lest he should entangle him. It is better, he
said to himself, to keep to facts, and he told Peter that even his own
money was not altogether his own money, for he had a partner in Jericho
and it would be hard to take his money out of the business and give it
all to the poor. Giving it to the poor in Galilee, he said, would
deprive my camel-drivers of their living. Which, Peter observed, would
be a cruel thing to do, for a man must be allowed to get his living,
whether he be from Jericho or Galilee, fisher or camel-driver or
sail-maker. Which reminds me, Philip, that thou be'st a long time over
the sail I was to have had at the end of last month. And the twain began
to wrangle so that Joseph thought they would never end, so prolix was
Philip in his explanations. He had had to leave the sail unsewn, was all
he had to say, but he embroidered on this simple fact so largely that
Joseph lost patience and began to tell them he had come to Galilee,
Pilate wishing him to add the portage of wheat from Moab to the trade
already started in figs and dates. So Pilate is in the business, Peter
ejaculated, for Peter did not think that a Jew should have any dealings
with Gentiles, and this opinion, abruptly expressed, threw the discourse
again into disarray. But Pilate is in Jerusalem, Joseph began. And has
he brought the Roman eagles with him? Peter interrupted. And seeing that
these eagles would lead them far from the point which he was anxious to
have settled--whether the trade he was doing between Jerusalem and
Jericho prevented him from being a disciple--Joseph began by assuring
Peter that the eagles had been sent back to Cæsarea. Cæsarea, Peter
muttered, our Master has been there, and says it is as full as it can
hold of graven images. Well, Peter, what I have come to say is, that
were I to disappoint Pilate he might allow the robbers to infest the
hills again, and all my money would be lost, and my partner's money, and
the camel-drivers would be killed; and if my convoys did not arrive in
Jerusalem there might be bread riots. How would you like that, Peter?

Now what do ye say to that, Peter? and Philip looked up into Peter's
great broad face. Only this, Peter answered, that money will shipwreck
our Community sooner or later--we're never free from it. Like a fly,
Philip suggested, the more we chase it away the more it returns. The fly
cannot resist a sweating forehead, Philip, Peter said. Thine own is more
sweaty than mine, Philip retorted, and a big blue fly is drinking his
belly full though thou feelest him not, being as callous as a camel. The
Master's teaching is, Peter continued, having driven off the fly, that
no man should own anything, that everyone should have the same rights,
which seems true enough till we begin to put it into practice, for if I
were to let whosoever wished take my boats and nets to go out fishing,
my boats and nets would be all at the bottom of the lake before the sun
went down as like as not, for all men don't understand fishing. As we
must have fish to live I haven't parted with my boats; but every time we
take that turning down yonder to the lake's edge and I see my boats
rocking I offer up a little prayer that the Master may be looking the
other way or thinking of something else. James and John, sons of
Zebedee, are of the same mind as myself--that we shouldn't trouble the
Master too closely with the working out of his teaching. The teaching is
the thing. Why, they be coming towards us, as sure as my name's Simon
Peter, sent perhaps by the Master to fetch us, so long have we been away
talking.

Joseph turned to greet the two young men, whom he had known always; as
far back as he could remember he had talked to them over the oars, and
seen them let down the nets and draw up the nets, and they had hoisted
the sail for his pleasure, abandoning the fishing for the day, knowing
well that Joseph's father would pay them for the time they lost in
pleasing his son. And now they were young men like himself, only they
knew no Greek; rough young men, of simple minds and simple life, who
were drawn to Jesus--James a lean man, whose small sullen eyes, dilatory
speech and vacant little laugh used to annoy Joseph. James always asked
him to repeat the words though he had heard perfectly. Joseph liked John
better, for his mind was sturdy and his voice grew sullen at any word of
reproof and his eyes flamed, and Joseph wondered what might be the
authority that Jesus held over him, a rough turbulent fellow, whom
Joseph had always feared a little; even now in their greeting there was
a certain dread in Joseph, which soon vanished, for John's words were
outspoken and hearty. We're glad to have you back again amongst us,
Master, I've been saying since I left Capernaum this morning. But
"Master" is a word, John, that I've heard isn't used among you. Truly it
is not used among the brotherhood, John answered. And I came to ask
admission, Joseph said. Well, that be good news, Master--brother I
should say, for our Master will be glad to meet thee. But that, Philip
began, is just the matter we were speaking of among ourselves before we
saw thee coming towards us. For there be a difficulty. He be as earnest
as any of us, but our rule is what thou knowest it to be. Despite John's
knowledge of the rule Philip began the story, and again he was so prolix
in it that Joseph, wishing John to decide on the strict matter of it,
and not to be lost in details, some of which were true and some of which
were false and all confused in Philip's telling, interrupted the
narrator, saying that he would give all the money that was strictly his,
but his father's he couldn't give nor his partner's. We've many camels,
he said, in common, and how are these to be divided? Nor is it right, it
seems to me, that my partner should be left with the burden of all the
trade we have created together; yet it is hard that I who have sought
Jesus in the deserts of Judea as far as Egypt, and found him in Galilee,
at home, should be forced to range myself apart from him, with whom my
heart is. Would that the Master were here to hear him speak, Philip
interjected. He was with the Master last night, and the Master was well
pleased with him. It all depends on what mood the Master be in, John
answered, and they all fell to asking each other what the Master's mood
was that morning. But it would seem that all read him differently, and
it was with joy at the prospect of a new opinion that they viewed Judas
coming towards them.

And taking Judas into the discussion Peter said: now I've two boats, and
John and James have four, so we aren't without money though our riches
are small compared with the young Master's. Are we to sell our boats and
give the money to the poor, and if we do who then will look after the
Master's wants? They are small it is true, a bit of fish and bread every
day, and a roof over his head; but who will give him a roof if mine be
taken from me? Is not this so? All seemed in agreement, and Peter
continued: I am thinking, John, that our new brother might help us to
buy the Master a new cloak, for his is falling to pieces and my wife's
mother is weary with patching it. He cured her of the fever, but she
thinks that a great cost is put upon me and would ask the Master
something for his keep. Whereupon John spoke out that the story of his
mother-in-law was for ever the same; and seeing that he was offending
Peter with the words he addressed against his wife's mother, though
indeed Peter liked her not too much himself, Joseph put his hand in his
pocket and said: here are some shekels, go and buy Jesus a cloak, but
say not to him whence the money came.

Say not to him! Judas interjected. No need to tell him that can read the
thoughts in the mind. It would be better for the young Master to give
him one of his old cloaks. Jesus would question the new cloak and say it
savours of money. He sees into the heart. We have tried to keep things
from him before, Judas continued turning to Joseph.... It is our duty to
save him as much as we can. Peter has done much and I've shared the
expense with Peter, though I am a poor man; we pick the stones from his
path, for he walks with his eyes fixed upon the Kingdom of God always.
Yes, he sees into our hearts, Philip interrupted, and reads through all
we are thinking even before the thoughts come into our minds. It is as
Philip says, Judas muttered: our hearts are open to him always. But
James, who had not spoken till now, put forward the opinion, and no one
seemed inclined to gainsay it, that if Jesus knew men's thoughts before
they came into men's minds he must be warned of them by the angels. He
goes into the solitude of the mountains to converse with the angels,
James said--for what else? Moses went into the clefts of Mount Sinai,
Joseph added, and he asked Peter to tell him if Jesus believed that the
soul existed apart from the body, at which question Peter was fairly
embarrassed, for the soul must be somewhere, he said, and if there be no
body to contain it---- You must ask the Master about these things, we
have not considered them. All the same we are glad that you are with us
and ready to follow him into danger, for if the Sadducees and Pharisees
are against him we are with him. Is that not so, sons of Zebedee?

At the challenge the two lads came forward again and all began to talk
of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the enthusiasm of the disciples catching
upon Joseph he, too, was soon talking of the Kingdom that was to come,
and whether they should all go down to Jerusalem together to meet the
Kingdom and share it, or wait for it to appear in Galilee. Share and
share alike, Joseph said. Ay, ay, sure we shall, and enjoy it, Peter
rolled out at his elbow. But we must set our hearts in patience, for
there be a rare lot to be converted yet. Every man must have his chance,
and seeing Jesus coming towards him Peter waited till Jesus was by him.
Haven't I thy promise, Master, he asked, laying his hand on Jesus'
shoulder, that my chair in Kingdom Come will be next to thine? Before
Jesus could answer John and James asked him if their chairs would not be
on his left and right. But not next to the Master's, Peter answered. I'm
on the right hand of the Master, and my brother Andrew on the left. Look
into his face and read in it that I have said well. But the disciples
were not minded to read the Master's face as Peter instructed them to
read it, and might have come to gripping each other's throats if Jesus
had not asked them if they would have the fat in the narrow chairs and
the thin in the wide, as often happens in this world. The spectacle of
Peter trying to sit on James' chair set them laughing, and as if to make
an end of an unseemly disputation John asked the Master whither they
were going to cure the sick that day? To which question Jesus made no
answer, for he felt no power on him that day to cure the sick or to cast
out demons. You'll see him do these things on another occasion, Peter
whispered in Joseph's ear; to-day he's deep in one of his meditations,
and we dare not ask him whither he be going, but must just follow him.
As likely as not he'll lead us up into the hills for---- But I see
Salome coming this way. You know her sons, John and James. The woman
bears me an ill will and would have my chair set far down, belike as not
between Nathaniel and Philip, who as you have noticed do not hold their
heads very high in our company. But let us hasten a little to hear what
she has to say. Listen, 'tis as I said, Master, Peter continued; you
heard her ask him that her sons should sit on either side of him. Now
mark his answer, if he answers her; I doubt if he will, so dark is his
mood.

But dark though it was he answered her with a seeming cheerfulness that
in the coming world there is neither weariness of spirit nor of body,
and therefore chairs are not set in heaven. A fine answer that, and
Peter chuckled; too wise for thee. Go home and ponder on it. We shall
lie on couches when we are not flying, he added, and being in doubt he
asked Joseph if the heavenly host was always on the wing. A question
that seemed somewhat silly to Joseph, though he could not have given his
reason for thinking it silly. Peter called on Jesus to hasten for the
disciples were half way up the principal street at a turning whither
their way led through the town by olive garths and orchards, and finding
a path through these they came upon green corn sown in patches just
beginning to show above ground, and the fringe of the wood higher up the
hillside--some grey bushes with young oaks starting through them, still
bare of leaves, ferns beginning to mark green lanes into the heart of
the woods, and certain dark wet places where the insects had already
begun to hum. But when the wood opened out the birds were talking to one
another, blackbird to blackbird, thrush to thrush, robin to robin, kin
understanding kin, and every bird uttering vain jargon to them that did
not wear the same beak and feathers, just like ourselves, Joseph said to
himself and he stood stark before a hollow into which he remembered
having once been forbidden to stray lest a wolf should pounce upon him
suddenly. Now he was a man, he was among men, and all had staves in
their hands, and the thoughts of wolves departed at the sight of a wild
fruit tree before which Jesus stopped, and calling John and James to
him, as if he had forgotten Peter, he said: you see that tree covered
with beautiful blossoms, but the harsh wind which is now blowing along
the hillside will bear many of the blossoms away before the fruit begins
to gather. And the birds will come and destroy many a berry before the
plucker comes to pick the few that remain for the table. How many of you
that are gathered about me now---- He stopped suddenly, and his eyes
falling on John he addressed his question directly to him as if he
doubted that Peter would apprehend the significance of the parable. But
Joseph, whom it touched to the quick, was moved to cry out, Master, I
understand; restraining himself, however, or his natural diffidence
restraining him, he could only ask Peter to ask Jesus for another
parable. Peter reproved Joseph, saying that it were not well to ask
anything from the Master at present, but that his mood might improve
during the course of the afternoon. Thomas, who did not know the Master
as well as Peter, could not keep back the question that rose to his
lips. Our trade, he said, is in apricots, but is it the same with men as
with the apricots, or shall we live to see the fruit that thou hast
promised us come to table? Whereupon James and John began to ask which
were the blossoms among them that would be eaten by the birds and
insects and which would wither in the branches. Shall I feed the
insects, Master? Matthew asked, or shall I be eaten by the birds? A
question that seemed to everyone so stupid that none was surprised that
Jesus did not answer it, but turning to Philip he asked him: canst thou
not, Philip, divine my meaning? But Philip, though pleased to come under
the Master's notice, was frightened, and could think of no better answer
than that the apricots they would eat in Paradise would be better. For
there are no harsh winds in Paradise, isn't that so, Master? Thy
question is no better than Salome's, Jesus answered, who sees Paradise
ranged with chairs. Then everyone wondered if there were no chairs nor
apricots in Paradise of what good would Paradise be to them; and were
dissatisfied with the answer that Jesus gave to them, that the soul is
satisfied in the love of God as the flower in the sun. But with this
answer they had to content themselves, for so dark was his face that
none dared to ask another question till Matthew said: Master, we would
understand thee fairly. If there be no chairs nor apricots in Paradise
there cannot be a temple wherein to worship God. To which Jesus
answered: God hath no need of temples in Paradise, nor has he need of
any temple except the human heart wherein he dwells. It is not with
incense nor the blood of sheep and rams that God is worshipped, but in
the heart and with silent prayers unknown to all but God himself, who
knows all things. And the day is coming, I say unto you, when the Son of
Man shall return with his Father to remake this world afresh, but before
that time comes you would do well to learn to love God in your hearts,
else all my teaching is vainer than any of the things in this world that
ye are accustomed to look upon as vain. Upon this he took them to a
mountain-side where the rock was crumbling, and he said: you see this
crumbling rock? Once it held together, now it is falling into sand, but
it shall be built up into rock again, and again it shall crumble into
sand. At which they drew together silent with wonder, each fearing to
ask the other if the Master were mad, for though they could see that the
rock might drift into sand, they could not see how sand might be built
up again into rock.

Master, how shall we know thee when thou returnest to us? Wilt thou be
changed as the rock changes? Wilt thou be sand or rock? It was Andrew
that had spoken; and Philip answered him that the Master will return in
a chariot of fire, for he was angry that a fellow of Andrew's stupidity
should put questions to Jesus whether they were wise or foolish; but
could they be aught else than foolish coming from him? Andrew,
persisting, replied: but we may not be within sight of the Master when
he steps out of his chariot of fire, and we are only asking for a token
whereby we may know him from his Father. My Father and thy Father,
Andrew, Jesus answered, the Father of all that has lived, that lives,
and that shall live in the world; and the law over the rock that
crumbles into sand and the sand that is built up into rock again, was in
that rock before Abraham was, and will abide in it and in the flower
that grows under the rock till time everlasting. But, Master, wilt thou
tell us if the rock we are looking upon was sand or rock in the time of
Abraham? Philip asked, and Jesus answered him: my words are not then
plain, that before that rock was and before the sand out of which the
rock was built, was God's love--that which binds and unbinds enduring
always though the rock pass into sand and the sand into rock a thousand
times.

And it was then that a disciple poked himiself up to Jesus to ask him if
they were not to believe the Scriptures. He answered him that the
Scriptures were no more than the love of God. This answer did not quell
the dissidents, but caused them to murmur more loudly against him, and
Jesus, though he must have seen that he was about to lose some
disciples, would retract nothing. The Scriptures are, he repeated, but
the love of God. He that came to betray him said: and the Gentiles that
haven't the Scriptures? Jesus answered that all men that have the love
of God in their hearts are beloved by God. Is it then of no value to
come of the stock of Abraham? the man asked, and Jesus replied: none,
but a loss if ye do not love God, for God asks more from those whose
minds he has opened than from those whose minds he has suffered to
remain shut. At which Peter cried: though there be not a pint of wine in
all heaven we will follow thee, and though there be no fish in heaven
but the scaleless that the Gentiles eat---- He stopped suddenly and
looked at Jesus, saying: there are no Gentiles in heaven. Heaven is open
to all men that love God, Jesus said, and after these words he continued
to look at Peter, but like one that sees things that are not before him;
and the residue followed him over the hills, saying to themselves: he is
thinking about this journey to Jerusalem, and then a little later one
said to the others: he is in commune with the spirits that lead him,
asking them to spare him this journey, for he knows that the Pharisees
will rise up against him, and will stone him if he preach against the
Temple. What else should he preach against? asked another disciple; and
they continued to watch Jesus, trying to gather from his face what his
thoughts might be, thinking that his distant eyes might be seeking a
prediction of the coming kingdom in the sky. We might ask him if he sees
the kingdom coming this way, an apostle whispered in the ear of
another, and was forthwith silenced, for it was deemed important that
the Master should never be disturbed in his meditations, whatever they
might be.

He stood at gaze, his apostles and his disciples watching from a little
distance, recalling the day his dog Coran refused to follow him, and
seeing that the dog had something on his mind, he left his flock in
charge of the other dogs and followed Coran to the hills above the Brook
Kerith, down a little crumbling path to Elijah's cave. He found John the
Baptist, and recognising in him Elijah's inheritor--at that moment a
flutter of wings in the branches awoke him from his reverie, and seeing
his disciples about him, he asked them whose inheritor he was. Some said
Elijah, some said Jeremiah, some said Moses. As if dissatisfied with
these answers, he looked into their faces, as if he would read their
souls, and asked them to look up through the tree tops and tell him what
they could see in a certain space of sky. In fear of his mood, and lest
he might call them feeble of sight or purblind, his disciples, or many
among them, fell to disputing among themselves as to what might be
discerned by human eyes in the cloud; till John, thinking to raise
himself in the Master's sight, so it seemed to Joseph (who dared not
raise his eyes to the sky, but bent them on the earth), said that he
could see a chariot drawn by seven beasts, each having on its forehead
seven horns; the jaws of these beasts, he averred, were like those of
monkeys, and in their paws, he said, were fourteen golden candlesticks.
Andrew, being misled by the colour of the cloud which was yellow, said
that the seven beasts were like leopards; whereas Philip deemed that
the beasts were not leopards, for him they were bears; and they began to
dispute one with the other, some discerning the Father Almighty in a
chariot, describing him to be a man garmented in white; his hair is like
wool, they said. And seated beside him Matthew saw the Son of Man with
an open book on his knees. But these visions, to their great trouble,
did not seem to interest Jesus; or not sufficiently for their intention;
and to the mortification of Peter and Andrew, James and John, he turned
to Thaddeus and Aristion and asked them what they saw in the clouds, and
partly because they were loath to say they could see naught, and also
thinking to please him, they began to see a vision, and their vision was
an angel whom they could hear crying: at thy bidding, O Lord; on which
he emptied his vial into the Euphrates, and forthwith the river was
turned to blood. The second angel crying likewise, at thy bidding, O
Lord, emptied his vial; and when the third angel had emptied his, three
animals of the shape of frogs crawled out of the river; and then from
over the mountains came a great serpent to devour the frog-shapen
beasts, and after devouring them he vomited forth a great flood, and the
woman that had been seated on it was borne away. It was Thaddeus that
spoke the last words, and he would have continued if Jesus' eyes had not
warned him that the Master was thinking of other things, perhaps seeing
and hearing other things. It is known to you all, he said, that Jeremiah
kneels at the steps of my Father's throne praying for the salvation of
Israel? Therefore tell me what is your understanding of the words
"praying for the salvation of Israel"? Was the prophet praying that
Israel might be redeemed from the taxes the Romans had imposed upon
them? Being without precise knowledge of how much remission Jeremiah
might obtain for them, it seemed to them that it would be well to say
that Jeremiah was praying to God to delay no longer, but send the
Messiah he had promised. At which Jesus smiled and asked them if the
Messiah would remit the taxes; and the disciples answered craftily that
the Messiah would set up the Kingdom of God on earth: in which kingdom
no taxes are levied, Jesus replied. Come, he said, let us sit upon these
rocks and talk of the great prophecies, for I would hear from you how
you think the promised kingdom will come to pass. And the disciples
answered, one here, one there, and then in twos and threes. But, Master,
thou knowest all these things, since it is to thee our Father has given
the task of establishing his Kingdom upon earth; tell us, plague us no
longer with dark questions. We are not alone, Thaddeus cried, a rich
man's son is amongst us. If he have come amongst us God has sent him,
Jesus said, and we should have no fear of riches, since we desire them
not. This kindness heartened Joseph, who dared to ask Jesus how he might
disburden himself of the wealth that would come to him at his father's
death.

As no such dilemma as Joseph's had arisen before, all waited to hear
Jesus, but his thoughts having seemingly wandered far, they all fell to
argument and advised Joseph in so many different ways that he did not
know to whom to accede so contradictory were all their notions of
fairness; and, the babble becoming louder, it waked Jesus out of his
mood, and catching Joseph's eyes, he asked him if he whom our Father
sent to establish his Kingdom on earth would not have to give his life
to men for doing it. A question that Joseph could not answer; and while
he sought for the Master's meaning the disciples began again aloud to
babble and to put questions to the Master, hurriedly asking him why he
thought he must die before going up to heaven. Did not Elijah, they
asked, ascend into heaven alive in his corporeal body?--and the cloak he
left with Elisha, Aristion said, might be held to be a symbol of the
fleshly body. This view was scorned, for the truth of the Scriptures
could not be that the disciples inherited not the spiritual power of the
prophet, but his fleshly show. Then the fate of Judas the Gaulonite
rising up in Peter's mind, he said: but, Master, we shall not allow thee
to be slain on a cross and given as food to the birds. The disciples
raised their staves, crying, we're with thee, Master, and the forest
gave back their oaths in echoes that seemed to reach the ends of the
earth; and when the echoes ceased a silence came up from the forest that
shut their lips, and, panic-stricken, all would have run away if Peter
had not drawn the sword which he had brought with him in case of an
attack by wolves, and swore he would strike the man down that raised his
hand against the Master. To which Jesus replied that every man is born
to pursue a destiny, and that he had long known that his led to
Jerusalem, whereupon Peter cried out: we'll defend thee from thyself;
for which words Jesus reproved him, saying that to try to save a man
from himself were like trying to save him from the decree that he brings
into the world with his blood. And what is mine, Master? It may be,
Jesus answered, to return to thy fishing. Whereupon Peter wept, saying:
Master, if we lose thee we're as sheep that have lost their shepherd, a
huddled, senseless flock on the hillside, for we have laid down our nets
to follow thee, believing that the Kingdom of God would come down here
in Galilee rather than in Jerusalem; pray that it may descend here, for
thou'lt be safer here, Master; we have swords and staves to defend
thee--so let us kneel in prayer and ask the Lord that he choose Galilee
rather than Judea for the setting up of his kingdom. To which Jesus
answered nothing, and his face was as if he had not heard Peter; and
then Peter's fears for Jesus' life, should he go to Jerusalem, seemed to
pass on from one to the other, till all were possessed by the same fear,
and Peter said: let us lift up our hearts to our Father in Heaven and
pray that Jesus be not taken from us. Let us kneel, he said, and they
all knelt and prayed, but to their supplication Jesus seemed
indifferent. And seeing they were unable to dissuade him from Jerusalem,
Peter turned to Joseph. Here is one, he said, who knows the perils of
Jerusalem and will bear witness, that if thou preach that God have no
need of a Temple or a sacrifice, thou'lt surely be done to death by the
priests.

Peter's sudden appeal to his knowledge of the priests of Jerusalem awoke
Joseph, who was wholly absorbed in his love of Jesus, and thought only
of rushing forward and worshipping; but he was held back and strained
forward at the same time, and seeing he was overcome, Peter did not
press him for an answer, and Joseph fell back among the crowd, ashamed,
thinking that if Peter came to him again he would speak forthright. He
had words that would bring him into the sympathy of Jesus, but instead
of speaking them he stood, held at gaze by the beauty of the bright
forehead, large and arched; and so exalted were the eyes that Joseph
could not think else than that Jesus was looking upon things that his
disciples did not see. It seemed to Joseph that Jesus was meditating
whether he should confide all he saw and heard to his disciples. He
waited, tremulous with expectation, watching the thin scrannel throat
out of which rose a voice to which the ear became attuned quickly and
was gratified as by a welcome dissonance. It rose up among the silence
of the pines, and the delight of listening to it, Joseph thought, was so
near to intoxication that he would have pressed forward if he had not
remembered suddenly that he was a new-comer into the community; one who
might at any moment be driven out of it because he possessed riches
which he could not unburden himself of. So he kept his seat in the
background among the casual followers, by two men whose accents told him
they were Samaritans, and these now seemed within the last few minutes
to have become opposed to Jesus, and Joseph wondered at the change that
had come over them and lent an ear to their discourse so that he might
discover a reason for it. And it was not long before he discovered that
their objection related to the Book of Daniel, for they were of the sort
that receive no Scriptures after the five Books of the Law.

Joseph knew the book less perhaps than any other book of the Scriptures;
he had looked into it with Azariah, but for a reason which he could not
now discover he had read it with little attention; and since his
schooldays he had not looked into it again. Peter and Andrew and John
and James were listening intently to the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream
for the sake of the story related and without thought of what might be
Jesus' purpose in relating it. But to Joseph Jesus' purpose was the
chief interest of the relation; and the purpose became apparent when he
began to tell how the great statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream,
whose head was gold, whose arms and breast were silver, whose belly was
brass, and whose legs and feet were iron and clay intermingled, was
overthrown by a stone that hand had not cut out of the mountain. This
stone became forthwith as big as a mountain and filled the whole earth,
and Joseph fell to thinking if this stone were the fifth kingdom which
the Messiah would set up when the Roman kingdom had fallen to dust, or
whether the stone were the Messiah himself. And while Joseph sat
thinking he heard suddenly that when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the
furnace and saw the four men whom he had ordered to be thrown into it
walking through the flames safely, he said: and the form of the fourth
is like the son of God.

The story wholly delighted the disciples; and they asked Jesus to tell
them the further adventures of Daniel, and as if wishing to humour them
he began to relate that a hand had appeared writing on the wall during
the great feast at Babylon, a story to which Joseph could give but
little heed, for his imagination was controlled by the words, "whose
form is like the son of God"--an inspiration on the part of the
Babylonian king. If ever a man had seemed since to another like the son
of God, Jesus was that man; and Joseph asked himself how it was that
these words had passed over the ears of the disciples--over the ears of
those who knew Jesus' mind, if any could be said to know Jesus' mind.
Jesus, though he lived near them and loved them, lived in the world of
his own thoughts, which, so it seemed to Joseph, he could not share with
anybody. Not one of the men he had gathered about him, neither Peter,
nor John, nor James, had noticed the notable words: "And the form of the
fourth is like the son of God." It was for these words, Joseph felt
sure, that Jesus had related the story of Daniel in the furnace. But his
disciples had not apprehended the significance; and like one whose
confidence was unmoved by the slowness or the quickness of his
listeners, almost as if he knew that the real drift of his speech was
beyond his hearers, Jesus began to tell that Darius' counsellors had
combined into a plot against Daniel and succeeded in it so well that
Daniel and his companions were cast in a den of lions. But there being
nothing in the story that pointed to the setting up of the Kingdom of
God upon earth, Joseph was puzzled to understand why Jesus was at pains
to relate it at such length. Was it to amuse his disciples? he asked
himself, but no sooner had he put the question to himself than the
purpose of the relation passed into his mind. Jesus had told the
marvellous stories of Daniel's escapes from death so that his disciples
might have no fear that the priests of Jerusalem would have power to
destroy him: whomsoever God sends into the world to do his work, Jesus
would have us understand, are under God's protection for ever and ever;
and Joseph rejoiced greatly at having discovered Jesus' intent, and for
a long time the glen, the silent forest and the men sitting listening to
the Master were all forgotten by him. He even forgot the Master's
presence, so filled was he by the abundant hope that his divination of
the Master's intent marked him out as one to be associated with the
Master's work--more than any one of those now listening to him, more
than Peter himself.

And so sweet was his reverie to him that he regretted the passing of it
as a misfortune, but finding he was in spirit as well as in body among
realities, he lent his ear to the story of the four winds that had
striven upon the great sea and driven up four great beasts. These beasts
Joseph readily understood to be but another figuration of the four great
empires; the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Grecian had been blown
away like dust, and as soon as the fourth, the Roman Empire, was broken
into pieces the kingdom of the whole world would be given to the people
of the saints of the Most High. It was Philip the nearly hunchback that
asked Jesus for an explanation of this vision--saying, and obtaining the
approval of several for the question, would he, Jesus, acquiesce in this
sharing of the earth among the angels who had not seen him, nor heard
him, nor served him upon earth. If the earth is to be shared among the
angels we follow thee in vain, he muttered; and Joseph felt that he
could never speak freely again with Philip for having dared to interrupt
the Master and weary him with questions that a child could answer. To
whom Philip said: but you, young Master, that have received good
instruction in Hebrew and Greek from the scribe Azariah, and have
travelled far, do you answer my question. If the earth is to be shared
among angels---- He was not allowed to repeat more of his question, for
a clamour of explanation began among the disciples that the earth would
not be shared among the angels of God--God would find his people
repentant when he arrived with his son. At last the assembly settled
themselves to listen to the story of the vision in which a ram pushed
westward and northward and southward, till a he-goat came from the
west--one with a notable horn between the eyes, and butted the ram till
he had broken his two horns. Joseph had forgotten these visions, and he
learnt for the first time, so it seemed to him, that the goat meant the
Syrian king, Antiochus, who had conquered Jerusalem, polluted the
sanctuary and set up heathen gods. But how are all these visions
concerned with the setting up of the Kingdom of God on earth? and Jesus'
purpose did not appear to him till Daniel heard a voice between the
banks of the Ula crying: make this man understand. Joseph understood
forthwith that Jesus' purpose was still the same, to make it plain to
the disciples that Daniel was protected and guided by God, and, that
being so, Jesus could go to Jerusalem fearing nothing, he being greater
than Daniel. So he sat immersed in belief, hearing but faintly the many
marvellous things that Daniel heard and saw, nor did he awake from his
reverie till Jesus announced that Gabriel flew about Daniel at the hour
of the evening oblation, telling him that seventy weeks was the measure
of time allowed by God to make reconciliation for iniquity and bring
everlasting righteousness, and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah; and
that after three score and two weeks the Messiah should be cut off but
not for himself.

The words "cut off but not for himself" troubled Joseph, and he pondered
them, while the disciples marvelled at hearing Jesus speak of these
things (he seemed to know the Scriptures by rote), and his voice went
upward into the silence of the firs, and they heard as if in a dream
that the king of the south should come into his kingdom and return to
his own land. But his sons shall be stirred up and shall revolt against
him, Jesus said, and the disciples marvelled greatly, for Jesus made
clear the meaning that lay under these dark sayings, and they heard and
understood how the robbers of the people should exalt themselves and
establish a vision; but these shall fall and the king of the north shall
come and cast up mounds and take the fortified cities. And they heard of
destructions and leagues and armies and sanctuaries that were polluted,
and of peoples who did not know their God, but who nevertheless became
strong; and they heard of Edom and Moab and the children of Ammon, but
at the end of all these troubles the Tabernacle was placed between the
seas of the glorious holy mountain. And that day the fishers from the
lake of Galilee and others heard that Michael had told the people of
Israel that those that were dead should rise out of the earth and come
into everlasting life. But can the dead be raised up and come to life in
their corruptible bodies? asked the Samaritans that sat by Joseph, and
their mutterings grew louder, and they denied that the prophet Daniel
had spoken truth in this and many other things, and as he had not spoken
truth he was a false prophet; whereupon so great a clamour arose that
the wild beasts in the ravine began to growl, being awaked in their
lairs. The disciples, foreseeing that it would soon be dark night in the
forest, fell to seeking the way back to Capernaum, the Galileans in one
group with Jesus among them, the Samaritans speeding away together and
stopping at times for fresh discussion with the Galileans, asking among
many other things how the corruptible body might be raised up to heaven
and live indulging in the many imperfections inherent in our bodies. It
was vain to ask them what justice there would be if the men that had
died before the coming of the Kingdom of God were not raised up into
heaven. If this were true the dead had led virtuous lives in vain; they
might for all it had profited them have lived like the heathen.

It was at Capernaum that the truth became manifest that not only was
Daniel denied, but Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, all the prophets since
Moses, at which the disciples were greatly incensed and raised their
staves against the Samaritans, but Jesus dissuaded his followers, and
the dissidents were suffered to depart unhurt. Let them go, Jesus said,
for they are in the hands of God, like ourselves, and he bade them all
good-night, and there seemed to Joseph to be a great sadness in Jesus'
voice, as if he felt that in this world there was little else but
leave-taking.

Joseph too resented this parting, though it was for but a few hours; he
would unite himself to Jesus, become one, as the mother and the unborn
babe are one--he would be of the same mind and flesh; all division
seemed to him loss, till, frightened at his own great love of Jesus, he
stopped in the Plain of Gennesaret, star-gazing. But the stars told him
nothing, and he walked on again. And it was about a half-hour's walk
from Magdala that he overtook the Samaritans, who sought to draw him
into argument. But he was in no humour for further discussion, and
dismissed them, saying: what matter if all the prophets were false since
the promised Messiah is among us. He has come, he has come! he repeated
all the way home: and at every flight of the high stairs he tried to
collect his thoughts. But his brain was whirling, and he could only
repeat: he has come, he has come!



CHAP. XIV.


It seemed to Joseph as he hurried along the Plain of Gennesaret that the
sun shone gayer than his wont, but as he approached Capernaum he began
to think that the sun had risen a little earlier than his wont. Nobody
was about! He listened in vain for some sound of life, till at last his
ear caught a sound as of somebody moving along the wharves, and, going
thither, he came upon Peter storing his oars in the boathouse. Making
ready, Joseph said, for fishing? You don't see, Master, that I'm putting
my oars away, but I'd as lief take them out again and fish till evening.
Here was a mysterious answer from the least mysterious of men, and Peter
continued in his work, throwing the oars into a corner like one that
cared little if he broke them, and kicking his nets aside as if he were
never going to let them down again into the lake: altogether his mood
was of an exasperation such as Joseph had never suspected to be possible
in this good-humoured, simple fellow. Had he been obliged to leave the
community or sell his boats? If that were so, his chance (Joseph's
chance) of entering the community was a poor one indeed; and he begged
Peter to relate his trouble to him--for trouble there had been last
night, he was sure of it.

Trouble there always is in this world, Peter answered, so long as I've
known it, and will be till God sets up his kingdom. The sooner he does
it the better, so say I. But I don't know about the saints we heard of
yesterday, what they have to do with it. The Master's mood is stranger
than I ever can recollect it, he said, standing up straight and looking
Joseph in the eyes. It was yourself that said it yesterday, Peter,
Joseph rejoined. I'm thinking it may have been the Samaritans that vexed
him. Peter lifted his heavy shoulders and muttered: the Samaritans? We
give no heed to them: and he began to speak, at first with diffidence;
Joseph had to woo him into speaking, which he did; but after the first
few minutes Peter was glib enough, telling Joseph that last night there
had been stirs and quarrels among the disciples regarding his boats, and
John's and James' boats too, he said, and by the jealous and envious, he
muttered, who would like to come between us and the Master. Joseph asked
who had raised the vexatious question, but Peter avoided it, and went
about the wharf grunting that none could answer it: was it to Matthew,
the publican, he was to give his boats? one, he said, who never was on
the water in his life till I took him out for a sail a week come
Tuesday. A fine use they'd be to him but to drown himself. A puff of
wind, and not knowing how to take in a reef, the boat would be over in a
jiffy and the nets lost. Now who would be the better for the loss of my
nets? answer me that. And I'd like to be told when my boats and nets
were at the bottom of the lake to whom would the Son of Man turn for a
corner in which to lay his head, or for a bite or a sup of wine. John
and James would give their boats to Judas belike, and he'd bring home
about as much fish as would---- But I'm thinking of your father. What
will he be saying to all this, and his business dwindling all the while,
and we beggars?--the words with which my wife roused me this morning. Of
course, says she, if the stone that never was cut out of the mountain
with hands is going to be slung and send the Romans toppling, I've
naught to say against sharing, but the Kingdom had better come quickly,
Simon Peter, if thou'lt fish no more; and the woman is right, say I,
though I hold with every word that falls from the Master's lips, only
this way it is, he looks to my fishing for his support, and Miriam is
quick to remind me of that. A good woman, one that has been always
yielding to my will and never had a word against our lodger, but sets
the best before him out of thankfulness for his saving of her mother's
life, though one more mouth in a house is always a drain, if the Master
is as easily fed as a sparrow. But restive she is now about the delay:
as I was saying just now she wakes me up with a loud question in my ear:
now, Simon Peter, answer me, art thou going into Syria to bid the blind
to see, the lame to walk, and the palsied to shake no more, or art thou
going to thy trade? for in this house there be four little children,
myself, their mother, and thy mother-in-law. I say nothing against the
journey if it bring thee good money, or if it bring the Kingdom, but if
it bring naught but miracles there'll be little enough in the house to
eat by the time ye come back. And, says she, the feeding of his children
is a nobler work for a married man (she speaks like that sometimes) than
bidding those to see who would belike be better without their eyes than
with them. You wouldn't think it, but 'tis as I say: she talks up to me
like that, and ofttimes I've to go to the Master and ask him to quiet
her, which he rarely fails to do, for she loves him for what he has done
for her mother, and is willing to wait. But last night when the
busybodies brought her news that the Master had been preaching in the
forest, of the sharing of the world out among the holy saints, she gave
way to her temper and was violent, saying, by what right are the saints
of the most high coming here to ask for a share of this world, as if
they hadn't a heaven to live in. You see, good Master, there's right on
her side, that's what makes it so hard to answer her, and I'm with her
in this, for by what right do the holy saints down here ask for a share
in the world, that's what keeps drumming in my head; and, as I told you
a while ago, I'd as lief put out upon the lake and fish as go to Syria
for nothing, say the word---- And leave the Master to go alone? Joseph
interposed. Well, I suppose we can't do that, Peter answered, and then
it seemed to Joseph wiser not to talk any more, but to allow things to
fashion their own course, which they did very amiably, in about an
hour's time the little band going forth, Joseph walking by Peter's side,
hoping that he would not have to wait long before seeing a miracle.

Their first stop was at Chorazin, about five miles distant, and the sick
began to rise quickly from their beds, and Jesus had only to impose his
hands for the palsied to cease quivering. The laws of nature seemed
suspended and Joseph forgot his father at Magdala and likewise Pilate's
business which had brought him to Galilee. It will have to wait, he
said, talking with himself, and now certain that he had come upon him
whom he had always been seeking; it was as lost time to look at anything
but Jesus, or to hear any words but his, or to admire aught but the
manifestations of his power; and every time a sick man rose from his bed
Joseph thanked God for having allowed him to live in the days of the
Messiah. He saw sight restored to the blind, hearing to the deaf,
swiftness of foot to cripples, issues of blood that had endured ten
years stanched; the cleansing of the leper had become too common a
miracle; he looked forward to seeing demons taking flight from the
bodies of men and women, and accepted Peter's telling that the day could
not be delayed much longer when he would see some dead man rise up in
his cere-clothes from the tomb. He found no interest but in the
miraculous, and his one vexation of spirit was that Jesus forbade his
disciples (among whom Joseph now counted himself) to tell anybody that
he was the Messiah.

In every town they were welcomed by the Gentiles as well as by the Jews,
which was surprising, and set Joseph's wits to work; and these being
well trained, he soon began to apprehend that the Jews accepted the
miracles as testimony that Jesus was really the Messiah and that his
teaching was true; whereas the Gentiles admired the miracles for their
own sake, failing, however, and completely, to see that because he cured
the blind, the palsied, the scrofulous and the halt, they should no
longer visit their temples and sacred groves, and admire no more Pan's
huge sexuality and hang garlands upon it, nor carve images of Diana and
Apollo. Such abstinence they could not comprehend, and deemed it enough
that they were ready to proclaim him a god on the occasion of every
great miracle, a readiness that gave great scandal and caused many Jews
to turn away from Jesus. It was not enough that he should repudiate this
godhead; and the hardness of heart and narrowness of soul that he
encountered among his own people afflicted Jesus as much as did the
incontinency of the Gentiles, whom he sometimes met, bearing images in
procession, going towards some shrine--the very same who had listened to
his teaching in the evening. Joseph once dared throw himself in front of
one of these processions, and he begged the processionists to Pan to
throw aside the garlands and wreaths they had woven. This they would not
do, but out of respect to the distinguished strangers that had come to
their town they listened for some minutes to his relation that on the
last day the dead would be roused by the trumpets of angels to attend
the judgment and that the man Jesus before them--the Messiah announced
hundreds of years ago in many a prophetic book--would return to earth in
a chariot of fire by his Father's side, the Judgment Book in his hands.
May we now proceed on our way? they asked, but Joseph besought them to
listen to him for another few minutes, and thinking he had perhaps
explained the resurrection badly, and forthwith calling to mind the
philosophy of Egypt and Mathias, he asked them to apprehend that it
would not be the corruptible body that would rise from the dead but the
spiritual body, whereby he only succeeded in perplexing still further
the minds of the worthy pagans of Cæsarea Philippi, and provoking stirs
and quarrels among his own people.

The processionists took advantage of this diversion of opinion among the
Jews to pass on and dispose of their wreaths and votive offerings as it
pleased them to do. But on their way back they begged Jesus to perform
some more miracles, which he refused to do, and to their great amazement
he left them for the Tyrians and Sidonians. But the same difficulties
occurred in Tyre and Sidon, the Gentiles accepting the miracles with
delight but paying little heed to the doctrine. They begged him to
remain with them and offered gifts for his services as healer, but he
refused these and returned to Galilee, having performed miracles of all
sorts, without, however, having bidden a dead man rise from the grave,
to the great disappointment of Joseph, who would have liked to witness
this miracle (the greatest of all); seemingly it was not his lot. Peter
bade him hope!--the great miracle might happen in Galilee, and as such a
miracle would evince the truth of Jesus' Messiah-ship even to his
father, Joseph remained in Capernaum, going out in the boats with Jesus
and his disciples, sailing along the shores till the people gathered in
numbers sufficient for an exhortation. As there were always many
Pharisees and Sadducees among the crowds assembled to hear the Master,
he did not land, but preached standing up in the bow, Peter vigilant
with an oar, for priests are everywhere enemies of reformation and
instigate attacks upon reformers, and those made on Jesus were often so
violent that Peter had to strike out to the right and left, but he
always managed to get free, and they sailed for less hostile coasts or
back to the wharf at Capernaum.

It once occurred to them to try their luck with the Gadarenes, and it
was in returning from their coasts one evening that Peter's boat was
caught in a great storm and that Joseph was met by one of his father's
servants as he jumped ashore. The man had come to tell him that if he
wished to see his father alive he must hasten to Magdala, and Joseph
glared at him dumbfounded, for he had suspected all along that he had
little or no right at all to leave his father for Jesus. I did not know
I was like this, he blurted out to himself. And as much to silence his
accusing conscience as anything else he questioned the stupid messenger,
asking him if his father had seen a physician, and if the physician had
held out any hopes of a recovery. But the thin and halting account which
was all the messenger could give only increased Joseph's alarm, and it
was with much difficulty that he learnt from him that the master had
brought some walnuts to the parrots, and just after giving a nut to the
green parrot had cried out to Tobias that a great pain had come into his
head. Joseph dug his heels into his ass's side and cried to the
messenger: and then? The messenger answered that the pain in the back of
his father's head had become so great that he had begun to reel about,
overthrowing one of the parrots on its perch. The parrot flew at master,
thinking he had done it---- Never mind the parrot, Joseph replied
angrily, confusing the messenger, who told him that the master had
entered the house on Tobias' arm, and had sat down to supper but had
eaten nothing to speak of. None of us dared to go to bed that night, the
messenger continued. We sat up, expecting every moment somebody to come
down from the room overhead to tell us that the master was dead. The
next part of the messenger's story was like a tangled skein, and Joseph
half heard and half understood that the great physician that had come
from Tiberias had said that he must awaken the master out of the swoon
and at any cost. He kept bawling at him, the messenger said. Bawling at
him, Joseph repeated after the messenger, and the messenger repeated the
words, bawling at him, and saying that the physician said the master's
swoon was like a wall and that he must get him to hear him somehow. He
said the effort would cost your father, Sir, a great deal, but he must
get him to hear him. The story as the servant related it seemed
incredible, but he reflected that servants' stories are always
incredible, and Joseph learned with increasing wonder that Dan had heard
the physician and sat up in bed and spoken reasonably, but had fallen
back again unconscious, and that the physician on leaving him said that
they must get his mouth open somehow and pour a spoonful of milk into
his mouth, and call upon him as loudly as they could to swallow. What
physician have they sent for? Joseph asked the messenger, but he could
not remember the name.

It was Ecanus who was sitting by Dan's bedside when Joseph arrived, and
Joseph learnt by careful nursing and feeding him every ten minutes there
was just a chance of saving Dan's life.

For seven days Dan's life receded, and it was not till the eighth day
the wheel of life paused on the edge of the abyss. Dan, with his eyes
turned up under the eyelids, only the white showing, lay motionless; and
it was not till the morning of the ninth day that the wheel began to
revolve back again; but so slow were its revolutions that Joseph was in
doubt for two or three days. But on the fifth day he was sure that Dan
was mending, and in about three days more the pupils of Dan's eyes
looked at his son's from under the eyelids. He spoke a few words and
took his milk more easily, without being asked to swallow. The pains in
his head returned with consciousness; he often moaned; the doctor was
obliged to give him opiates, but he continued to mend and in three weeks
was speaking of going out to walk in the garden. To gain his end he
often showed a certain childish cunning, urging Joseph on one occasion
to go to the verandah to see if somebody was coming up the garden, and
as soon as Joseph's back was turned he slipped out of bed with the
intention of getting to his clothes. He fell, without, however, hurting
himself, and was put back to bed and kept there for three more weeks
before he was allowed a short walk. Even then the concession seemed to
be given too soon; for he could not distinguish the different trees, nor
could he see the parrots, though he could hear them, and he remained in
purblindness for some two or three weeks; but his sight returned, and he
said to Joseph: that is a palm-tree and that is a pepper-tree. Joseph
answered that he said truly and hastened across the garden to meet
Ecanus, for he desired to ask him privily if his father were out of all
danger; and the answer to his question was that Dan's life would pass
away in a swoon like the one he had just come out of, but he might swoon
many times--two or three times, perhaps oftener--before he swooned for
the last time. More than that Ecanus could not say. A silence fell
suddenly between them, and wondering what term of life his father had
still to traverse before he swooned into eternity, Joseph followed the
physician through the wilting alleys, seeking the shadiest parts, for
the summer was well-nigh upon them now.

At the end of one of these, out of the sun's rays, the old man lay
propped up among cushions, dreaming, or perhaps only conscious, of the
refreshing breeze that came and went away again. But he awoke at the
sound of their steps on the sanded paths, and raised his stick as a sign
to them to come to him, and, seeing that he wished to speak, Joseph
leaned over his chair, putting his ear close to his father's face, for
Dan's speech was still thick and often inarticulate. Thou wast nearly
going down in the storm, he said, and Joseph could hardly believe that
he heard rightly, for what could his father know of the storm on the
lake, he being in a deep swoon at the time beyond the reach of words. He
asked his father who had told him of the storm, but Dan could say no
more than that a voice had told him that there was a great storm upon
the lake and that Joseph was in it. Miracle upon miracle! Joseph cried,
and he related his escape from shipwreck; how when coming in Peter's
boat from the opposite shores the wind had risen, carrying the lake in
showers over the boat till all were wetted to their skins. But,
unmindful of these showers, Jesus had continued his teaching, even after
a great wave wrenched away a plank or part of one. Master, if the boat
be not staunched we perish, Peter said, for which Jesus rebuked Peter
and called them all to come forward and kneel closer about him. Kneel,
he said, your faces towards me, and forget the plank and remember your
sins. We could not do else but as we were bidden, and we all knelt about
him, our thoughts fixed as well as we were able to fix them on our sins,
but the water was coming into the boat all the while, and in the midst
of our prayers we said: in another moment we perish if he stay not the
wind and waves. We thought that he would stand up in the bow and
command, but he remained seated, and continued to teach us, but the wind
lulled all the same, and when we looked round the boat was staunch
again, and we made the wharf at Capernaum easily.

Ecanus, who was a man of little faith, asked Joseph if he had seen
anybody put his hand to the plank and restore it to its place, and
Joseph answered that all were grouped round the Master praying, and that
none had fallen away from the group. But there were some in the boat
that saw a little angel speeding over the waves. Philip saw both wings
and the angel's feet, but I had only a glimpse. If you would only let me
bring him to you---- But, reading his father's face, Joseph continued:
if you haven't faith, Father, he couldn't do anything for thee. Father,
let me bring him. This shows no distrust in your power, he interjected
suddenly, turning to Ecanus. Each man has powers given to him; some are
physical and some spiritual; some are powerful in one element and some
in another. But no magician that I have met has power over fire and
water. Only those into whom God has descended can command both fire and
water alike. And he related that when they passed through Chorazin and a
woman ran out of her house crying that her little boy had fallen into
the fire, Jesus had asked her if she had applied any remedy, and on her
saying she had not, he had said: then I will cure him. With his breath
he restored him, and five minutes after the child was playing with his
little comrades in the street. If, however, she had poured oil on the
wounds he couldn't have cured them, Joseph explained, for his affinity
with fire would have been interrupted. In the village of Opeira a child
while carrying a kettle of boiling water from the fire tipped it over,
burning a good deal of the flesh of one foot, which, however, healed
under Jesus' breath almost as soon as he had breathed upon it. And yet
another child was healed of the croup, but this time it was John who
imposed his hands: Jesus had transmitted some of his power over the ills
of the flesh to the disciples. On Dan asking if Joseph had seen Jesus
cast out devils, Joseph replied that he had, but it would take some time
to tell the exordium. Whereupon Ecanus remembered that other patients
waited for his attendance and took his leave, warning Joseph before
leaving against the danger of tiring his father, a thing that Joseph
promised not to do; but as soon as the door closed after the physician
Dan began to beg so earnestly for stories that Joseph could not do else
than tell him of the miracle he had witnessed. Better to submit, he
thought, than to agitate his father by refusal; and he began this
narrative; the morning of the storm, which they would not have succeeded
in weathering had it not been for the intervention of the angel. Jesus
and some of the disciples, including Joseph, had set their sail for the
Gadarene coasts; and finding a landing-place by a shore seeming
desolate, they proceeded into the country; and while seeking a
sufficient number to exhort and to teach, their search led them past
some broken ruins, shards of an old castle, apparently tenantless. They
were about to pass it without examination when a wailing voice from one
of the turrets brought them to a standstill. They were not at first
certain whether the wailing sound was the voice of the wind or a human
voice, but they had hearkened and with difficulty had separated the
doleful sound into: woe! woe! woe! unto thee Jerusalem, woe! woe! It
sounds to me, Peter said, like one that is making a mock of thee,
Master. Having heard that thou foretellest woe to Chorazin---- But
Judas, seeing a cloud gathering on Peter's face, nudged Peter, and the
twain went up together and some minutes after returned with a half-naked
creature, an outcast whom they had found crouching like a jackal in a
hole among the stones, one clearly possessed by many devils. Now as all
were in wonder what his history might be, a swineherd passing by at the
time told them how the poor, naked creature would take a beating or a
gift of food for his singing with the same gentle grace. The words had
hardly passed the swineherd's lips than the possessed began to sing:

    Woe! woe! woe! the winds are wailing.
     The four great sisters, the winds of the world,
    Call one to the other, and it is thy doom
     They are calling, Jerusalem.
     Woe! woe! woe!
    The North brings ruin, the South brings sorrow,
     The East wind grief, and the West wind tears
     For Jerusalem.
     Woe! woe! woe!

And he sung this little song several times, till the hearts of the
disciples hardened against the outcast and they were minded to beat him
if he did not cease; but the swineherd warned them that a surer way to
silence him was by giving him some food; and while he stood by eating,
the swineherd confided the story of the fool, or as much of it as he
knew, to Jesus. The fool, he said, came from Jerusalem some two years
ago. He had been driven out of the Temple, which he frequented daily,
crying about the courts the song with which he wearied you just now,
till the most patient were unable to bear it any longer; and every time
he met a priest he looked into his face and sang: woe! woe! woe! unto
Jerusalem, and whenever he met a scribe he would cry: woe! woe! woe!
unto Jerusalem, hindering them in their work about the Temple. Some
stones were thrown, but enough life was left in him to crawl away, and
as soon as he recovered from his wounds he was about again, singing his
melancholy ditty (he knows but one). He was told if he did not cease he
would be beaten with rods, but he could not cease it, and started his
ditty again as soon as he could bear a shirt on his back; and then he
must have travelled up here afoot, picking up a bit here and a bit
there, getting a lift in an ox-cart. He is without memory of anything,
who he is, where he came from, or who taught him his song. He does not
know why he chose that broken tower for a dwelling, nor do we, but
fortunately it stands in a waste. We hear him singing as we go by to our
work and pitch him scraps of food from time to time. We hear him as we
return in the evening to our homes making his melancholy dwelling sadder
with his song. But he is a harmless, poor fool, save for the annoyance
of his song, which he cannot stanch any more than the wind in the broken
turrets. A harmless fool who will follow whosoever asked him to follow,
unafraid, and taking a blow or a hunch of bread in the same humour, and
distinguishing no man from the next one.

As the swineherd said these words the fool said: Jesus, thou hast come
to my help, but woe to thee, Son of God, thou wilt suffer thy death in
Jerusalem; and looking up into Jesus' face more intensely: oh, Son of
Man, what aileth thee or me? And knowest thou anything of the cloud of
woe that hangs over Jerusalem? To which Jesus made no answer, but called
upon the devils to say how many there were, and they answered: three.
Then depart ye three, Jesus replied, and was about to impose his hands
when the three devils asked whither they should go, to which Jesus
answered: ye must seek another refuge, for here ye cannot remain. Seek
among the wolves and foxes. But these will flee from us, the devils
answered; allow us to enter the hogs rooting the ground before thee. But
at this the swineherd cried out: forbid the devils to enter into my
hogs, else they will run over the cliffs and drown themselves in the
sea. Though you are Jews, and do not look favourably on hogs, they are
as God made them. To which Jesus answered, turning to his disciples: the
man speaks well, for if unclean they be, it was the will of God that
made them so. And taking pity on the hogs that were rooting quietly,
unaware of the devils eager to enter into them, he said: there are
statues of gods and goddesses in Tiberias, enter into them. And
immediately the devils took flight, giving thanks to Jesus as they
departed thither.

Joseph waited a moment and tried to read his father's face. But Dan's
face remained fixed, and as if purposely, which vexed Joseph, who cried:
now, Father, you may believe or disbelieve, or be it thou'rt naturally
averse from Jesus, but thou knowest as well as I do that two days after
the great storm a statue of the goddess Venus fell from her pedestal in
the streets of Tiberias and was broken. But, Joseph, when the statue
fell I was sick and had no knowledge of the fall. But if a statue of the
goddess Venus did fall from her pedestal, I'd ask why the devils should
choose to destroy false gods? Were it not more reasonable for them to
uphold the false gods safe and secure on their pedestals? The gods were
overthrown for a sign that the devils had left the fool's body, Joseph
answered. But why, Dan replied, didn't three statues fall?--a statue for
each devil--and whither did the devils go? That one statue should fall
was enough for a sign, Joseph said, but no more would he say, for his
father's incredulity irritated him, and seeing that he had angered his
son, Dan stretched his hand to him and said: perhaps we are more eager
to believe when we are young than when we are old. And he asked Joseph
to tell him of some other miracle that he might have seen Jesus perform.

Joseph had seen Jesus perform many other miracles, but he was loath to
relate them, for none, he felt sure, would impose upon his father the
belief that Jesus was the Messiah that was promised to the Jews. All the
same the miracle of the woods rose in his mind, and so plainly that he
could not keep the story back, and almost before he was aware of it he
began the relation, telling how Jesus, James, John, Andrew, and himself
were at table, mingling jest with earnest (Peter was not with them,
being kept at home, for his wife was in child-birth at the time), when
the women of the village were heard running up the street crying
together to the men to take part in the chase of the wild man of the
woods, who had come down amongst them once more questing the flesh of
women. But this time we'll put a stop to his leaping, they cried. A
goatherd coming from the hills has seen him enter a cave and as soon as
he has folded his goats he will lead us to it. But the villagers were in
no mood for waiting; the goats could be folded by another; and the
goatherd was bidden and obliged to leave his goats and lead the way,
Jesus and his disciples following with the others through the forest
till we came to a ravine. And the goatherd said: look between yon great
rocks, for it was between them he passed out of my sight. And let one of
you creep in after him, but I must return to my goats, having no
confidence that they have been properly folded for the night. The
goatherd would have run away if he hadn't been held fast, and there
were questions as to who would enter. The first said "no," the second
the same, giving as reason that they were not young or strong enough,
whereas the goatherd was both, and none better endowed for the struggle;
and the people became of one mind that they must beat the goatherd with
the crows if he did not go down into the cave, but Jesus, arriving in
time, said: it is not lawful to break into any man's dwelling with
crows, nor to kill him because his sins affront you; let us rather give
him means to cut himself free from sins. At which words the people were
near to jeering, for it seemed to them that Jesus knew little of the man
they were pursuing, and they knew not what to understand when he asked
if any among them had a long, sharp knife, and there was a movement as
if they were about to leave him; but one man said: thou shalt have mine,
Master, and, taking it out of his girdle, he gave it to Jesus, who
tested it with his thumb, and, satisfied with it, laid it on the rock
beside the cave. But the people began to mutter: he will use the knife
against us, Master. Not against you, Jesus answered, but against
himself, thereby defending himself against himself. There were
mutterings among the people, and some said that his words were too hard
to understand, but all were silent as soon as Jesus raised his hands and
stepped towards the cave, and began to breathe his spirit against the
lust that possessed the man's flesh. We must return here, he said, with
oil and linen cloths. At which all wondered, not knowing what meaning to
put upon his words, but they believed Jesus, and came at daybreak to
meet him at the edge of the forest and followed the path as before till
they came to the hillside. The man was no longer hidden in his cave, but
sat outside by the rock on which Jesus had laid the knife, and Jesus
said: happy is he born into the world without sting, and happy is he out
of whom men have taken the sting before he knew it, but happier than
these is the man that cuts out the part that offends him, setting the
spirit free as this man has done.

Joseph ceased speaking suddenly and stood waiting for his father to
admire the miracle he had related, but Dan's tongue struggled with
words; and Joseph, being taken as it were with another flux of words,
and like one apprehensive of the argument that none shall undo God's
handiwork, set out on the telling that the cause of man's lust of women
was that God and the devil had a bet together--the devil saying that if
God let him sting a man in a certain part of his hide he would get him
in the end despite all that God might do to save him from hell. To which
God, being in the humour, consented, and the sting was put into nearly
all men. A few the devil overlooked, and these have much spared to them,
and those out of whom the sting is taken in childhood are fortunate, but
those who, like the wild man of the wood, cut the sting out of their own
free will are worthy of all praise; and he cited the authority of Jesus
that man should mutilate his body till it conform perforce to his piety.
But the story of man's fall is told differently in the Book of Genesis,
my son. The admonition that he was laying violent hands on a sacred book
startled Joseph out of his meditations, and in some confusion of words
and mind he began to prevaricate, saying that he thought he had made
himself clear: the release of pious souls from the bondage of the flesh
was more important than the continuance of the impious. Moreover in the
days of Moses, Israel was not steeped in as many iniquities as she is
now, and the Day of Judgment was not so close at hand. More men meant
more sins, and sin has become so common that God can endure the torture
no longer.... Again Joseph ceased speaking suddenly and, almost agape,
stood gazing into his father's face, reading therein a great perplexity,
for Dan was asking himself for what good reason had God given him so
strange a son. He would have been content to let the story pass into
another, but Joseph was waiting for him to speak, and speaking
incontinently he said he had heard that in the Temple of Astoreth the
Phoenician youths often castrated themselves with shards of shells or
pottery and threw their testicles in the lap of the goddess crying out:
art thou satisfied now, Astoreth? But he did not know of any text in
their Scriptures that counselled such a practice; and the introduction
of it seemed to savour of borrowing from the heathen. Whereupon Joseph
averred that whereas the wont of the Phoenician youths is without
reason, the same could not be said of Jesus' device to save a soul. To
which Dan rejoined that the leaving of the knife for the man to mutilate
himself with, seemed to him to be contrary to all the rumours of Jesus
that had come to his ears. I have heard that he would set the law aside
and the traditions of our race, declaring the uncircumcised to be
acceptable to God as the Jew; that he sits down to food with the
uncircumcised and lays no store on burnt offerings. Nor did Isaiah,
Joseph interrupted, and circumcision is itself a mutilation. I do not
contest its value, mark you; but if thou deny'st that Jesus was right to
leave a knife whereby the sinner might free himself from sin thou must
also deny circumcision. Circumcision is the sign of our race, Dan
answered. A physical sign, an outward sign, Joseph cried, and he asked
his father to say if the Jews would ever forget priests and ritual; and
he reminded his father that the once sinner, now a holy anchorite, did
not bring an appetency into the world that could be overcome by prayer,
and so had to resort to the knife that he might live in the spirit. It
seems to me, Joseph, that we should live as God made us, for better or
worse. But, Father, once you admit circumcision---- A man should not be
over-nice, Joseph, and though it be far from my thought to wish to see
thee a fornicator or adulterer it would rejoice me exceedingly to see
grandchildren about me. There is a maiden---- Another reason, Father, of
which I have not yet spoken makes the marriage of the flesh seem a
vanity to me, and that is---- I know it well, Joseph, that the great
day is coming when the world will be remoulded afresh. But, Father, do
ye believe in nothing but observances? Tell me, Joseph, did thy prophet
ever raise anybody from the dead? Yes, and hoping to convince his father
by another miracle he fell to telling eagerly how a young girl who was
being carried to the grave was called back to life.

She was, he said, coming from her wedding feast. And he told how there
were in the village two young girls, one as fair as the other, rivals in
love as well as in beauty, both having the same young man in their
hearts, and for a long time it seemed uncertain which would get him; for
he seemed to favour them alternately, till at length Ruth, unable to
bear her jealousy any longer, went to the young man, saying that she was
close on a resolve to see him no more. Your lover? he answered, his
cheek blanching, for he dearly loved her. I haven't gotten a lover, she
said; only a share in a lover. Your words, Ruth, relieve me of much
trouble, he replied, and took her in his arms and said: it was a good
thought that brought you hither, for if you hadn't come I might never
have been able to decide between you, but your coming has given me
strength, and now I know which I desire. And then it was the girl's
cheek that grew pale, for he hadn't answered at once which he would
have. Which? she asked, and he replied: you, not Rachel. If that be so,
she answered, I am divided between joy and sorrow; gladness for myself,
sorrow for my friend; and it behoves me to go to her and tell her of her
loss. I am the chosen one, she said to Rachel, who turned away, saying:
had I gone to him and asked him to choose between us he would have
chosen me. He couldn't do else.

She began to brood and to speak of a spell laid upon the young man, and
her visits to a sorceress came to be spoken about so openly that it was
against the bridegroom's wish that Rachel was asked to the wedding
feast; but Ruth pleaded, saying that it would be no feast for her if
Rachel did not present herself at the table. The twain sat opposite each
other at table, Rachel seemingly the happier, eating, drinking,
laughing, foretelling that Mondis would fill Ruth's life with happiness
from end to end. Thou wilt never see the face of an evil hour, she said,
and Ruth in her great joy answered: Rachel, I know not why he didn't
choose thee; thou'rt so beautiful; and the young Mondis wooed her at the
table, to Ruth's pleasure, for she knew of his thankfulness to Rachel
for allowing the wedding to pass in concord, without a jarring note.

She seemed to listen to him as a sister might to a beloved brother, and
as the wedding feast drew to a close she said: Ruth shall drink wine
with me, and the cups were passed across the table, and laughter and
jest flowed on for a while. But soon after drinking from Rachel's cup
Ruth turned pale and, leaning back into the arms of her bridegroom, she
said: I know not what ails me.... And then a little later on she was
heard to say: I am going, and with a little sigh she went out of her
life, lying on her bridegroom's arm white and still like a cut flower.
The word "poison" swelled up louder and louder, and all eyes were
directed against Rachel, who to prove her innocence drank the wine that
was left in Ruth's glass; but it was said afterwards that she had not
drunk out of the cup that she had handed to Ruth. Be this as it may, a
house of joy was turned into a house of tears. Bridegroom, parents and
friends fell into procession, and we who were coming down the street
met the bier, and after hearing the story of the girl's death Jesus
said: let me speak to her, and, leaning over her, he whispered in her
ear, and soon after we thought it was the wind that stirred the folds of
her garments, but her limbs were astir in them; the colour came back to
her cheeks; she raised herself on her bier, and with his bride in his
arms the bridegroom worshipped Jesus as a god; but Jesus reproved him,
saying: it was by the power of God working through me that she was
raised from the dead: give thanks to him who alone merits our thanks.
But Rachel, who had been following the bier in great grief, hanging on
the bridegroom's arm could not contain herself at the sight of Ruth
raised from the dead, and it wrenching her reason out of her control
compelled her to call upon the people to cast out the Nazarene, who
worked cures with the help of the demons with whom he was in league,
which proved to everybody that her friendly words to Ruth at the feast
were make-believe, and that she had been plotting all the while how she
might ruin her.

At the sight of Ruth beautiful and living naught mattered to Rachel but
revenge, and she crossed the street as if with the intention of striking
her with a dagger, but as she approached Jesus the flame of fury died
out of her face, and like one overwhelmed with a great love she cast
herself at his feet, and could not be removed. Why do you turn the woman
from me? he asked. Whatever her sins may have been they are forgiven,
for she loves me. But she loved the other man five seconds before, Dan
submitted, and Joseph replying to him said: she only knew that passion
of the flesh which we share with the beasts of the fields, the fowls of
the air and the fish in the sea. But now she loves Jesus as we love
him--with the spirit. And next day she brought all her wealth to him;
the golden comb she was wont to wear in her hair she would place in his;
and the silks and linen in which she was wont to clothe herself she laid
at his service; but he told her to sell all these things and give the
money to the poor. Give to the poor! That is what I hear always, cried
Dan; but if we gave all to the poor we would be as poor as the very
poorest; and where, then, would the money come from with which we now
help the poor?

Give to the poor that thou mayest become worthy of a place in the world
to come. This world is but a shadow--an illusion, Joseph answered
defiantly. Thou hast that answer for everything, Joseph; and another day
when I'm stronger I'll argue that out with thee. I have tired thee,
Father; but if I've told you many stories it was because---- Because,
Dan retorted, thou wouldst have Jesus cast his spells over me. But I've
no use for them; thou art enough.

And while Joseph debated how he might convince his father that the girl
was really dead, Dan asked for news of Rachel, and Joseph answered that
she was with them every day, that their company had been increased by
several devoted women. Thou hast talked enough, Father, and more than
enough; if Ecanus were to return he would accuse me of planning to talk
you to death.



CHAP. XV.


Like every other old Jew, Dan liked the marvellous, and listened to his
son's stories, not knowing whether he believed or disbelieved, nor
seeking to inquire; content to enjoy the stories as they went by, he
listened, suffering such a little disappointment when his son's voice
ceased as he might at the death of a melodious wind among the branches,
the same little sadness. Moreover, while Joseph talked he had his
attention, and it irritated him to see Joseph's thoughts wander from him
in search of parrots and monkeys; and he begged his son to tell him
another miracle, for he was sure that Joseph had not told him the last
one. Joseph pleaded that there was no use relating miracles to one who
only believed in ancient miracles, a statement that Dan combated, saying
that one could like a story for its own sake. Like a Gentile, Joseph
interposed gaily, bringing all the same a cloud into his father's face,
which he would have liked to disperse with the relation of another
miracle, but he continued to plead that he had told all his stories.
There was, however, a certain faint-heartedness in his pleading, and Dan
became more certain than ever that his son was holding back a miracle,
and becoming suddenly curious, he declared that Joseph had no right to
hold back a story from him, for to do that provoked argument, and
argument fatigued him.

Joseph thought the device to extort a story from him, which he did not
wish to tell, a shabby one, but, fearing to vex his father in his
present state of health, he began to think it would be better to tell
him the miracle he had heard of that morning at Capernaum; but, still
loath, he tried instead to divert his father's attention from Jesus,
reminding him of the numerous matters that would have to be settled up
between them, especially Dan's responsibility in the new adventure, the
transport of grain from Moab to Jerusalem. Dan's curiosity was not to be
diverted, and seeing him give way to his rage like a petulant child,
Joseph decided that he must tell him, and he began with a disparagement
of his story, the truth of which he did not vouch for. At Capernaum they
were all telling how some two or three weeks ago Jesus heard God
speaking within him, and, naming those he wished to accompany him, led
them through the woods, up the slow ascending hills in silence, no word
being exchanged between him and them. Every one of the disciples was
aware that the Master was in communion with his Father in heaven, and
that his communion was shared by them as long as a word was not spoken.
A word would break it; and so they journeyed with their eyes set upon
the stars or upon the ground, never daring to look for Jesus, who
remained amongst them for an hour or more and then seemed to them to
pass into shadow, only his voice remaining with them bidding them to
journey on, which they did, each man in his faith, until they reached a
lonely hill on the top of which stood a blighted tree. Why, Master, they
asked, have you led us hither? and, receiving no answer, they looked
round for Jesus, but he was missing, and, thinking they walked too fast
and had left him on the road behind them, they returned to the place
where he had last spoken to them; and, not finding him there, they
returned to the hill-top, and, seeing him among the white branches
waiting for them, they knelt and prayed. When the stars began to grow
dim they heard a voice cry out: behold he is with you, he who brings
salvation to all men, Jew and Gentile; and ye twelve are bidden to carry
the joyful tidings to the ends of the earth.

At these words the disciples rose from their knees and looked round
astonished, for only four had gone with Jesus up the hillside, but
twelve were kneeling at the foot of the tree, and the four that had come
with Jesus knew not how the eight were gathered with them, nor could the
eight tell how they reached the hill-top, nor what spirit guided them
thither. The day is breaking, someone said; and looking towards the
east they saw innumerable angels and all of them singing hosanna;
hosannas fell from the skies and blossoms from the tree; for the tree
was no longer a blighted but a quickened tree. Jesus was amongst them,
talking to them, telling those who were standing around him that they
were chosen by his Father in heaven first of all, and then by him, to
carry the joyful tidings to the ends of the earth, and they all
answered: we heard the words that thou hast spoken, Master. And he
answered: ye have heard truly, and I am here to carry out my Father's
will; ye shall go forth and bring salvation to all, Jew and Gentile
alike.

Father, of what art thou thinking--that the twelve slept and dreamed?
But before Dan could find an answer to his son's question Joseph sank
away into regrets that he had acceded to his father's request and told
him this last miracle, and that he had not been able to disguise the
fact, in the telling, that Jesus had chosen as his apostles those who
accompanied him into the mountains. He intended to omit all mention of
this election, but it slipped from him unawares in the excitement of the
telling, and now to divert his father's thoughts from the unfortunate
admission Joseph called to one of the parrots and spoke cheerfully to
the bird, and to the monkey that came hopping across the sward and
jumped into his arms; but Dan knew his son's face too well to be
deceived by the poor show Joseph could paint upon it, and guessing that
his father divined the truth, words deserted him altogether. He sat
striving against regret and hoping that his father did not think he
loved him less than he loved Jesus. At last something had to be said,
and Dan could find nothing better to say than: Joseph, there is gloom in
thy face; but be not afraid to tell me if thou art disappointed that
thou wert not with Jesus when his Father spoke to him out of heaven, and
thereby missed being among the apostles. For this suspicion Joseph
rebuked his father, but as it was his dearest wish to be numbered
amongst the apostles his rebukes were faint, and feeling he was making
bad worse, he put as bold a face upon it as he could, saying to his
father that he would have liked to have been numbered among the twelve,
but since it did not befall he was content; and to himself that he was
younger than any that were elected, and if one of them were to die he
would be called to fill his place.

So much admission was forced upon him, for it was important that his
father should accept his absence from the mountain that day as a
sufficient reason for his not having been elected an apostle, the real
reason being, not his absence from the mountain, but the fact that he
chose to turn aside from Jesus and leave him to attend his father's
sick-bed. That was the sin he was judged guilty of, an unpardonable act
in Jesus' mind, and one that discredited Joseph for ever, proving him
for good and all to be unworthy to follow Jesus, which might be no more
than the truth. He could follow Jesus' way of thinking, apprehending it
remotely; but to his father, Jesus present teaching, that one must learn
to hate one's father and one's mother, one's wife and one's children
before one can love God, would be incomprehensible; and he would be
estranged from Jesus for ever, as many of the disciples had been that
morning by such ultra-idealism. It would have been better to have
withheld the miracle, he said to himself, and then he lost himself
thinking how the election of the apostles had dropped from him, for it
had nothing to do with the miracle, and then awakening a little from his
reverie he assured himself that his father must never know, for Dan
could never understand Jesus in his extravagant moods. But if some
accident should bring the knowledge to his father? It wasn't likely that
this could happen, for who knew it? Hardly was it known among those whom
he had met that morning as he crossed the Plain of Gennesaret. He had
seen the disciples with Jesus, Jesus walking ahead with Peter and with
James and John, to whom he addressed not a word, the others following
him shamefacedly at a little distance. One of his black moods is upon
him, Joseph said to himself, and gliding in among the crowd he
questioned the nearest to him, who happened to be Judas, who told him
that Jesus didn't know for certain if he were called to go to Jerusalem
for the Feast of the Tabernacles. The Master foresees his death in
Jerusalem, but he is not sure if it be ordained for this year or the
next. Peter would dissuade him, he added, and in the midst of his
wonderment Joseph heard from Judas that Jesus had elected his apostles,
and now Joseph remembered how, speaking out of his heart, he uttered a
little cry and said: it was because I am a rich man that he didn't think
of me. But Judas answered that there might be another reason, to which
he replied: there can be no other reason except the simple one--I wasn't
there and he didn't think of me. But Judas murmured that there might be
another reason--he never allows a disciple to desert him, whatever
reason may be for so doing. But there was no desertion on my part. My
father's illness! Wait in any case, Judas had said, till the Master has
fallen out of his mood, for he is in his blackest now; we dare not speak
to him. But I couldn't believe that that could make any difference,
Joseph said to himself, and he put the monkey away from him somewhat
harshly, and fell to thinking how he ran to Jesus, his story on his
lips. But it all seemed to drift away from him the moment he looked upon
Jesus, so changed was he from the Jesus he had seen in the cenoby, a
young man of somewhat stern countenance and cold and thin, with the neck
erect, walking with a measured gait, whose eyes were cold and distant,
though they could descend from their starry heights and rest for a
moment almost affectionately on the face of a mortal. That was two years
ago. And the Jesus whom he met in rags by the lake-side one evening and
journeyed with as far as Cæsarea Philippi, to Tyre and Sidon, was no
doubt very different from the severe young man he had seen in the
monastery. He had grown older, more careworn, but the first Jesus still
lingered in the second, whereas the Jesus he was looking at now was a
new Jesus, one whom he had seen never before; the cheeks were fallen in
and the eyes that he remembered soft and luminous were now concentrated;
a sort of malignant hate glowered in them: he seemed to hate all he
looked upon; and his features seemed to have enlarged, the nose and chin
were more prominent, and the body was shrunken. A sword that is wearing
out its scabbard was the thought that passed through Joseph's frightened
mind; and frightened at the change in Jesus' appearance, and still more
by the words that were hurled out at him, when intimidated and
trembling, he babbled out: my father lay between life and death for
eight days and came out of his swoon slowly. He could say no more, the
rest of his story was swallowed up in a violent interruption, Jesus
telling him that there was no place among his followers for those who
could not free themselves from such ghosts as father, mother and
children and wife.

Jesus had flung his father's wealth and his own in his face, and his own
pitiful understanding that had not been able to see that this world and
the world to come were not one thing but twain. And whosoever chooses
this world must remain satisfied with its fleshly indulgences and its
cares and its laws and responsibilities, and whoso ever chooses the
Kingdom of Heaven must cast this world far from him, must pluck it, as
it were, out of his heart and throw it away, bidding it depart; for it
is but a ghost. All these, he said, pointing to his apostles, have cast
their ghosts into the lake. The apostles stood with eyes fixed, for they
did not understand how they had despoiled themselves of their ghosts,
and only Peter ventured into words: all my family is in the lake,
Master; and at his simplicity Jesus smiled, then as if to compensate
him for his faith he said: I shall come in a chariot sitting on the
right hand of our Father, the Judgment Book upon my lap. As the rocks of
this world are shaken and riven by earthquakes, my words shall sunder
father from son, brother from brother, daughter from mother; the ties
that have been held sacred shall be broken and all the things looked
upon as eternal shall pass away even as the Temple of Jerusalem shall
pass away. My words shall sunder it Beam by beam, pillar by pillar, and
every stone of it shall be scattered. For I say unto you that God is
weary of the fat of rams and goats, and incense delights his nostrils;
it is not our flocks and herds that our Father desires nor the
sweet-smelling herbs of this world, but a temple in which there shall be
nothing but the love of God. It is for the building of this temple that
I have been called hither; and not with hands during laborious years
will it be built, but at once, for the temple that I speak to you of, is
in the heart of every man; and woe, woe, woe, I say unto you who delay
to build this temple, for the fulfilment of the prophecies is at hand,
and when the last day of this world begins to dawn and the dead rise up
seeking their cere-clothes it will be too late. Woe! woe! woe! unto
thee, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Magdala, for you have not repented yet,
but still choose the ghosts that haunt the sepulchres out of which ye
shall be called soon; too soon for many; for I say unto you that it is
not the dead that sleep but the living. At these words there were
murmurings among the disciples, and they said, turning from one to the
other: he says we sleep, brother, but this is not true. He mocks at us.
But Jesus, as if he did not hear these rebukers, and moved as if by a
sudden sympathy for Joseph, said: here is one that left me to attend
his father's sick-bed, but I would have you understand me in this, that
if we would love God we must abandon father, mother, wife and children,
for there is not room in our hearts for two loves. Ye say that I lay
heavy burdens on your backs, but I say unto you that I lay no burdens on
your backs that I did not first weigh upon my own shoulders; for have I
not denied myself brothers and sisters, and did I not say to my mother,
who came to dissuade me: God chose thee as a vehicle to give to man a
redeemer to lead him out of this kingdom of clay. Thou hast done it and
so there is no further need of thee. Out of this corruptible body I
shall rise in Jerusalem, my mission accomplished, into the incorruptible
spirit. His passion rising again and into flood, he seemed like one
bereft of reason, for he said that all men must drink of his blood if
they would live for ever. He who licked up one drop would have
everlasting life. Joseph recalled the murmurings that followed these
words, but Jesus would not desist. These murmurings seemed to sting him
to declare his doctrine to the full, and he added that his flesh, too,
was like bread, and that any crumb would give to him who ate it a place
before the throne of the Almighty. Whereupon many withdrew, murmuring
more loudly than before, saying among themselves: who is this man that
asks us to assuage our thirst with his blood and our hunger with his
flesh? Moses and Elijah did not ask such things. Who is he that says he
will scatter the Temple to build up another?

Many other animadversions Joseph remembered among the multitude, and he
recalled them one by one, pondering over each till one of the monkeys
sprang into his arms and snatched some flowers out of his hand and
hobbled away shrieking, awaking Dan, who had been dozing, and who,
seeing whence the shrieking came, closed his eyes again. While his
father slept Joseph remembered that Peter, John and James stood by the
Master throughout the dissidence. But what answer will they give, Joseph
asked himself, when they are questioned as to what the Master meant when
he said that they must drink his blood and eat his flesh? What answer
will they make when the people question them in the different
countries?--for they are to go to every part of the world, carrying the
joyful tidings. It seemed to Joseph that the apostles would be able to
make plain these hard sayings even less well than he, and he could not
make plain to anybody what the Master had meant, and still less would he
be able to convince others that the Master had said well that a man must
leave his father though he were dying. He said that he should leave his
father unburied, the dead not needing our care, for they are the living
ones, and the hyenas and crows would find to eat only that which had
always been dead. Of course if the old world were going out and the new
coming in, it mattered very little what happened within the next
twenty-four hours. But was the new world as near as that? He wondered!
It might be nearer still without his being able to leave his father to
die among strangers, and a feeling rose up within him that he knew he
would never be able to subdue though he were to gain an eternity of
happiness by subduing it; and, pursuing this thread of thought, he came
to the conclusion that he was a very weak creature, neither sufficiently
enamoured of this world nor of the next; so he supposed Jesus was right
to discard him, for, as he knew himself, he would be an insufficient
apostle, just as he was an insufficient son. But his father did not
think him a bad son. He raised his eyes, and, finding his father's eyes
upon him, he remembered that he had left him because he wished to see
the world, to go to Jerusalem, to live with the Essenes, to go to Egypt;
and that he had remained away for nearly two years, and had returned to
settle a business matter between himself and his father. Therefore it
was not love of his father but a business matter that brought him back
from Egypt; and now he was going to leave his father again, though he
knew that his father wished him to marry some lusty girl, who would bear
healthy children.

If he were a good son he would take a maid to bed. But that he couldn't
do! I am afraid, he said, speaking suddenly out of his thoughts, I'm not
the son you deserve, Father. I'm not a bad son, but I'm not the son God
should have given you. Thou shouldst not say that, Joseph, for we have
loved each other dearly. It is true that I hoped to see little children
about me, and it may be that hope will never be fulfilled, which is sad
to think on. I've never seen thee over-busy with one of our serving
girls, nor caught thee near her bed, and the family will end with, thee,
and the counting-house will end with me, and these things will happen
through no fault of mine or thine, Joseph. Our lives are not planned by
ourselves, and when life comes sweetly to a man a bitter death awaits
him, for death is bitter to those that have lived in ease and health as
I have done. I am still obdurate, for I can sit down to a meal with
pleasure, but a time will come when I shall not be able to do this, and
then the sentence that the Lord pronounced over all flesh will seem easy
to bear, and the grandchildren I have not gotten will be desired no
longer; only the peace of the grave, where there is no questioning nor
dainties. But, Father, this world is but the shadow of a reality beyond
the grave, and I beseech you to believe in your eternity and in mine. In
the eternity of my body or of my soul--which, Joseph? Thou knowest not,
but of this we are sure, that there is little time left for me to love
you in this comfortable land of Galilee. And, this being so, I will ask
you to promise me that thou wilt not leave Judea in my lifetime. Thou'lt
have to go to Jerusalem, for business awaits you there, and to Jericho,
perhaps, which is a long way from Galilee, but I'd not have thee leave
Judea to preach a strange creed to the Gentiles. I know no reason now,
Father, for me to leave Judea, since I am not among the chosen. If thou
hadst been, Joseph, thou wouldst not have left me in these last years of
my life? Jesus is dear to thee, but he isn't thy father, and every
father would like his son to be by him when the Lord chooses to call
him. I would have thee within a day's journey or two; death comes
quicker than that sometimes, but we must risk something. I'd have thee
remain in Judea so that thou mayest come, if thou art called, to receive
my last blessing. I'd have thee close my eyes, Joseph. The children I'll
forgive thee, if thou wilt promise me this. I promise it, Father, and
will hold to my promise if I live beyond thee. If thou livest beyond me,
Joseph? Of course thou wilt live many years after me. But, Joseph, I
would have thee shun dangerous company. And guessing that his father had
Jesus in his mind, Joseph asked him if it were so, and he answered that
it was so, saying that Jesus was no new thing in Judea, and that the
priests and the prophets have ever been in strife. That is my meaning,
he said. The exactions of the priests weigh heavily, and Jesus is right
in this much, that priests always have been, and perhaps always will be,
oppressors of the poor; they are strong, and have many hirelings about
them. Thou hast heard of the Zealots, Son, who walk in the streets of
Jerusalem, their hands on their knives, following those who speak
against the law and the traditions, and who, when they meet them, put
their knives into their ribs, and when the murdered man falls back into
their arms call aloud for help? So do the priests free themselves from
their opponents, and, my good son, Joseph, think what my grief would be
if I were to receive tidings that thou hadst been slain in the streets.
Dost think that the news would not slay me as quickly as any knife? I
ask little of thee, Joseph, the children I'll forgo, but do thou
separate thyself from these sectaries during my lifetime. Think of me
receiving the news of thy death; an old man living alone among all his
riches without hope of any inheritance of his name. But, Joseph, I can't
put away altogether the hope that the day will come when thou'lt look
more favourably on a maid than now. Thy thoughts be all for Jesus, his
teaching, and his return to this world, sitting by the side of his
Father in a fiery chariot, but maybe the day will come when these hopes
will fade away and thy eyes will rest upon a maid. It is strange that
thou shouldst be so unlike me. I was warmer-blooded at thy age, and when
I saw thy mother----Father, the promise is given to thee already, and my
hand upon it. I'll not see Jesus during thy life. If the sudden news of
my death were to kill thee, I should be thy murderer. Jesus will forgive
thee these few years, Dan said. The expression on Joseph's face changed,
and Dan wondered if Jesus were so cruel, so hard, and so self-centred
that he would not grant his son a few years, if he were to ask it, so
that he might stay by his father's bedside and close his eyes and bury
him. It seemed from Joseph's face that Jesus asked everything from his
disciples, and if they did not give everything it was as if they gave
nothing.

And while Dan was thus conferring with his own thoughts he heard Joseph
saying that if he were to keep the promise he had just given, not to see
Jesus again, he must not remain in his neighbourhood. Yes, that is so,
Joseph; go to Jerusalem. And the old man began to babble of the
transport of figs from Jericho, till Joseph could not do else than
ponder on the grip of habit on a man's heart, and ask himself if the
news of his death would affect his father's health more than the news
that there was no further demand in Damascus for his salt fish. He
repented the thought as soon as it had passed through his mind, and he
understood that, however much it would cost him, he must go away to
Jerusalem. He dared not risk the accusation that would for ever echo in
his heart: my father has no peace by day, nor rest at night, he is
thinking always that a Zealot's knife is in my back. But after my
father's death--His thoughts brought him back again to a sudden shame of
himself. I am like that, he said, and shall always be as I am. And, not
daring to think of himself any more, he jumped to his feet: I must tell
my servant that I shall start soon after daybreak.



CHAP. XVI.


And on his arrival in Jerusalem Joseph stood for a moment before his
camel thanking the beast for his great, rocking stride, which has given
me, he said, respite from thinking for two whole days and part of two
nights. But I cannot be always on the back of a camel, he continued, and
must now rely on my business to help me to forget; and he strove to
apply his mind to every count that came before him, but in the middle of
every one his thoughts would fly away to Galilee, and the merchant
waiting to receive the provisions he had come to fetch wondered of what
the young man was thinking, and the cause of the melancholy that was in
his face.

He was still less master of his thoughts when he sat alone, his ledger
before him; and finding he could not add up the figures, he would
abandon himself without restraint to his grief; and very often it was so
deep that when the clerk opened the door it took Joseph some moments to
remember that he was in his counting-house; and when the clerk spoke of
the camel-drivers that were waiting in the yard behind the
counting-house for orders, it was only by an effort of will that he
collected his thoughts sufficiently to realise that the yard was still
there, and that a caravan was waiting for orders to return to Jericho.
The orders were forgotten on the way to the yard, and the clerk had to
remind him, and sometimes to say: Master, if you'll allow me, I will
settle this business for you.

Joseph was glad of his clerk's help, and he returned to the ledger, and,
staring at figures which he did not see, he sat thinking of Jesus, of
the night they walked by the lake's edge, of the day spent in the woods
above Capernaum, and the various towns of Syria that they visited. It
seemed to him that the good days had gone over for ever, and it was but
a sad pleasure to remember the pagans that liked Jesus' miracles without
being able to abandon their own gods. Only Peter could bring a smile
into his face; a smile wandered round his lips, for it was impossible to
think of Peter and not to smile. But the smile faded quickly and the old
pain gripped his heart.

I have lost Jesus for ever, he said, and at that moment a sudden rap at
his door awoke him from his reveries. He was angry with his clerk, but
he tried to disguise his anger, for he was conscious that he must
present a very ridiculous appearance to his clerk, unless, indeed, which
was quite likely, his clerk was indifferent to anything but the business
of the counting-house. Be this as it may, he was an old and confidential
servant who made no comments and asked no questions. Joseph was
grateful to his clerk for his assumed ignorance and an hour later Joseph
bade him good-night. I shall see thee in the morning, to which Samuel
answered: yes, sir; and Joseph was left alone in the crowded street of
Jerusalem, staring at the passengers as they went, wondering if they
were realities, everyone compelled by a business or a desire, or merely
shadows, figments of his imagination and himself no more than a shadow,
a something that moved and that must move across the valley of
Jehoshaphat and up the Mount of Olives. Why that way more than any other
way? he asked himself: because it is the shortest way. As if that
mattered, he added, and as soon as he reached the top of the Mount of
Olives he looked over the desert and was surprised by the smallness of
the hills; like the people who lived among them, they seemed to him to
have dwindled. The world is much smaller than I thought, he said. That
is it, the world seems to have dwindled into a sort of ash-heap; life
has become as tasteless as ashes. It can only end, he said to himself,
by my discovering something that interests me, but nothing interests me
except Jesus. Lack of desire, he said, is my burden, for, desiring one
thing too much, I have lost desire for all else, and that is why life
has come to me like an ash-heap.

As the days went by he began to feel life more oppressive and
unendurable, till one evening the thought crossed his mind that change
of scene might be a great benefit to him. If he were to go to Egypt, he
would journey for fifteen days through the desert, the rocking stride of
the camel would keep him from thinking, and he might arrive in Egypt
eager to listen to the philosophers again. But the temptations that
Egypt presented faded almost as soon as they had arisen, and he deemed
that it might be better for him to choose a city oversea. A sea voyage,
he thought, will cheer me more than a long journey across the desert,
and Joppa is but a day's journey from Jerusalem. But the shipping is
more frequent from Cæsarea, and it is not as far; and for a moment it
seemed to him that he would like to be on board a ship watching the
wind making the sail beautiful. But to what port should he be making
for? he asked. Why not to Greece?--for there are philosophers as great
or greater than those of Alexandria. But philosophers are out of my
humour, he added, and, putting Athens aside, he bethought himself of
Corinth, and the variegated world he would meet there. From every port
ships come to Corinth, bringing different habits, customs, languages,
religions; and for the better part of the evening Corinth seemed to be
his destination.

Corinth was famous for its courtesans, and he remembered suddenly that
the most celebrated were collected there; and it may have been the
courtesans that kept him from this journey, and his thoughts turning
from vice to marriage a bitterness rose up in his mind against his
father for the persistency with which Dan reminded him in and out of
season that every man's duty is to bring children into the world.

It had seemed to him that in asking him to take a wife to his discomfort
his father was asking him too much, and he had put the question aside;
but he was now without will to resist any memory that might befall him,
and for the first time he allowed his thoughts to dwell on his father's
implied regret that he had never caught his son near a servant girl's
bed. His unwillingness to impugn his father's opinions kept him
heretofore from pondering on his words, but feeling his life to be now
broken and cast away, there seemed to arise some reasons for an
examination of his father's words. They could not mean anything else
than that a young man was following the natural instincts if he lingered
about a young girl's room; and that to be without this instinct was
almost a worse misfortune than to be possessed by it to the practical
exclusion of other interests.

His father, it is true, may have argued the matter out with himself
somewhat in this fashion: that love of women in a man may be controlled;
and looking back into his own life he may have found this view
confirmed. Joseph remembered that his grandmother often spoke to him of
Dan's great love of his wife, and it might be that he had never loved
another woman; few men, however, were as fortunate as his father, and
Joseph could not help thinking that it were better to put women out of
his mind altogether than to become inflamed by the sight of every woman.
He believed that was why he had always kept all thoughts of women out of
his mind; but it seemed to him now that a wife would break the monotony
that he saw in front of him, and were he to meet a woman such as his
father seems to have met he might take her to live with him. He thought
of himself as her husband, though he was by no means sure that married
life was a possible makeshift for the life he sought and was obliged to
forgo, but as life seemed an obligation from which he could not
reasonably escape he thought he would like to share it with some woman
who would give him children. His father desired grandchildren, and since
he had partly sacrificed his life for his father's sake, he might, it
seemed to him, sacrifice himself wholly. But could he? That did not
depend altogether on himself, and with the view to discovering the turn
of his sex instinct he called to mind all the women he had seen, asking
himself as each rose up before him if he could marry her. There were
some that seemed nearer to his desire than others, and it was with the
view to honourable marriage that he called upon his friends, and his
father's friends, and passed his eyes over all their daughters; but the
girl whose image had lingered more pleasantly than any other in his
memory had married lately, and all the others inspired only a physical
aversion which he felt none would succeed in overcoming. He had seen
some Greek women, and been attracted in a way, for they were not too
like their sex; but these Jewish women--the women of his race--seemed to
him as gross in their minds as in their bodies, and it surprised him to
find that though many men seemed to think as he did about these women,
they were not repelled as he was, but accepted them willingly, even
greedily, as instruments of pleasure and afterwards as mothers of
children. But I am not as these men are, he said; my father must bear
his sorrow like another; and in meditation it seemed to him that it
would not be reasonable that his father should get everything he desired
and his son nothing.

His father had gotten more out of life than ever he should get; he would
have his son till he died (so far as he could he would secure him that
satisfaction), and after death this world and its shows concern us not.
But it may well be that we die out of one life to be born into another
life, that everything that passes is replaced by an equivalent, he said,
repeating the words of a Greek philosopher to whom he had been much
addicted in happy days gone by, and that reality is but an eternal
shaping and reshaping of things. All that is beyond doubt, he continued,
is that things pass too quickly for us to have any certain knowledge of
them, our only standard being our own flitting impressions; and as all
men bring a different sensitiveness into the world, knowledge is a word
without meaning, for there can be no knowledge. Every race is possessed
of a different sensitiveness, he said, as he passed up the Mount of
Olives on his way home. We ask for miracles, but the Greeks are
satisfied with reason. Am I Greek or Jew? he asked, for he was looking
forward to some silent hours with a book of Greek philosophy and hoped
to forget himself in the manuscript. But he could not always keep his
thoughts on the manuscript, and, forgetful of Heraclitus, he often sat
thinking of Jesus' promise--that one morning men would awake to find
that God had come to judge the world and divide it among those that
repented their sins. He remembered he had forfeited his share in the
Kingdom for his father's sake, or had he been driven out of the
community because his belief in the coming of the Kingdom was
insufficient? It is true that his belief had wavered, but he had always
believed. Even his natural humility, of which he was conscious, did not
allow him to doubt that his belief in Jesus was less fervid than that of
Peter, James, John and the residue. The conviction was always quick in
him that he felt more deeply than these publicans and fishers, yet Jesus
retained them and sent him away.

The manuscript glided from his hand to the floor, and his thoughts
wandered back to Alexandria, and he sat thinking that death must be
rather the beginning than the end of things, for it were impossible to
believe that life was an end in itself. Heraclitus was right: his
present life could be nothing else but the death of another life. And as
if to enforce this doctrine a recollection of his grandmother intruded
upon his meditation. She was seventy-eight when she died, and her
intellect must have faded some months before, but with her passing one
of the servants told him that a curious expression came into her face--a
sort of mocking expression, as if she had learnt the truth at last and
was laughing at the dupes she left behind. She lay in a grave in
Galilee, under some pleasant trees, and while thinking of her grave it
occurred to him that he would not like to be put into the earth; his
fancy favoured a tomb cut out of the rocks in Mount Scropas, for there,
he said to himself, I shall be far from the Scribes and Pharisees, and
going out on the terrace he stood under the cedars and watched for an
hour the outlines of the humped hills that God had driven in endless
disorder, like herds of cattle, all the way to Jericho, thinking all the
while that it would be pleasant to lie out of hearing of all the silly
hurly-burly that we call life. But the hurly-burly would not be silly if
Jesus were by him, and he asked himself if Jesus was an illusion like
all the rest, and as soon as the pain the question provoked had died
away, his desire of a tomb took possession of him again, and it left him
no peace, but led him out of the house every evening, up a zigzagging
path along the hillside till he came to some rocks over against the
desert. I shall lie in quiet here till he calls me, on a couch embedded
in the wall and surmounted by an arch--but if he should prefer me to
rise out of an humble grave? That I may not know, only that the poorest
is not as unhappy as I, so I may as well have a tomb to my liking.

It was a long time since he had come to a resolve, and having come to
one at last, he was happier. And in more cheerful mood he decided that
now that the site was settled it would be well to seek information as to
which are the best workmen to employ on the job.

But for him whose thoughts run on death nothing is harder to settle than
where his bones shall lie; and next time he visited the hillside Joseph
came upon rocks facing eastward, and it seemed to him that the rays of
the rising sun should fall on his sepulchre; but a few days later,
coming out of his house in great disquiet, it seemed to him he would lie
happy if his tomb were visited every evening by the peaceful rays of the
setting sun, and he asked himself how many years of life he would have
to drag through before God released him from his prison. If he wished
to die he could, for our lives are in our own hands. But he did not know
that he cared to die and, overpowered with grief, he abandoned himself
to metaphysical speculation, asking himself again if it were not true
that to be born into this world meant to pass out of one life into
another; therefore, if so, to die in this world only meant to pass into
another, a life unknown to us, for all is unknown--nothing being fixed
or permanent. We cannot bathe twice in the same river, so Heraclitus
said, but we cannot bathe even once in the same river, he added; and to
carry the master's thought a stage further was a pleasure, if any moment
of his present life could be called pleasurable. He heard these sayings
first in Alexandria, and, looking towards Jerusalem, he tried to recall
the exact words of the sage regarding the futility of sacrifice. Our
priests try, said Heraclitus, to purify themselves with blood and we
admire them, but if a filthy man were to roll himself in the mud in the
hope of cleaning himself we should think he was mad. In some such wise
Heraclitus spoke, but it seemed to Joseph he had lost something of the
spirit of the saying in too profuse wording of it. As he sought for the
original epitome he heard his name called, and awaking from his
recollections of Alexandria he looked up and saw before him a young man
whom he remembered having seen at the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was his name;
and he remembered how the fellow had kept his eyes on him for one whole
evening, trying at various times to engage him in talk; an insistent
fellow who, despite rebuffs, had followed him into the street after the
meeting, and, refusing to be shaken off, had led the way so skilfully
that Joseph found himself at last on Nicodemus' doorstep and with no
option but to accept Nicodemus' invitation to enter. He did not like the
fellow, but not on account of his insistence; it was not his insistence
that had prejudiced him against him as much as the young man's
elaboration of raiment, his hairdressing above all; he wore curls on
either side that must have taken his barber a long while to prepare, and
he exhaled scents. He wore bracelets, and from his appearance Joseph had
not been able to refrain from imagining lascivious pictures on the walls
of his house and statues in the corners of the rooms--in a word, he
thought he had been persuaded to enter an ultra-Greek house.

In this he was, however, mistaken, and in the hour they spent together
his host's thoughts were much less occupied than Joseph expected them to
be with the jewels on his neck and his wrists, and the rich tassels on
his sash. He talked of many things, but his real thoughts were upon
arms; and he showed Joseph scimitars and daggers. Despite a long
discussion on the steel of Damascus, Joseph could not bring himself to
believe that Nicodemus' interests in heroic warfare were more than
intellectual caprice: and he regarded as entirely superficial Nicodemus'
attacks on the present-day Jews, whose sloth and indolence he reproved,
saying that they had left the heroic spirit brought out of Arabia with
their language, on the banks of the Euphrates. One hero, he admitted,
they had produced in modern times (Judas Maccabeus), and Joseph heard
for the first time that this great man always had addressed his soldiers
in Hebrew. All the same he did not believe that Nicodemus was serious in
his passionate demands for the Hebrew language, which had not been
spoken since the Jews emerged from the pastoral stage. We should do
well, Nicodemus said, to engage others to look to our flocks and herds,
so that we may have leisure to ponder the texts of Talmud, nor do I
hesitate to condemn my own class, the Sadducees, as the least worthy of
all; for we look upon the Temple as a means of wealth, despising the
poor people, who pay their half-shekel and bring their rams and their
goats and bullocks hither.

He could talk for a long time in this way, his eyes abstracted from
Joseph, fixed on the darkness of the room. While listening to him Joseph
had often asked himself if there were a real inspiration behind that
lean face, carven like a marble, with prominent nose and fading chin, or
if he were a mere buffoon.

He succeeded in provoking a casual curiosity in Joseph, but he had not
infected Joseph with any desire of his acquaintance; his visits to the
counting-house had not been returned. Yet this meeting on the hillside
was not altogether unwelcome, and Joseph, to his surprise, surveyed the
young man's ringlets and bracelets with consideration; he admired his
many weapons, and listened to him with interest. He talked well, telling
that the sword that hung from his thigh was from Damascus and
recommending a merchant to Joseph who could be trusted to discover as
fine a one for him. It was not wise to go about this lonely hillside
unarmed, and Joseph was moved to ask him to draw the sword from its
scabbard, which Nicodemus was only too glad to do, calling Joseph's
attention to the beautiful engraving on the blade, and to the hilt
studded with jewels. He drew a dagger from his jacket, a hardly less
costly weapon, and Joseph was too abashed to speak of his buckler on his
left arm and the spear that he held in his right hand. But, nothing
loath, Nicodemus bubbled into explanation. It was part of his project to
remind his fellow-countrymen that they too must arm themselves if they
ever wished to throw off the Roman yoke.

So long as the Romans substitute a Hebrew word or letter for the head of
Tiberius on the coin we pay the tribute willingly, he said as they
followed the crooked path through the rocks up the hillside towards
Joseph's house. And in reply to Joseph, who asked him if he believed in
the coming end of the world, he answered that he did, but he interpreted
the coming end of the world to mean the freeing of the people of Israel
from the Roman yoke, astonishing Joseph by the vigour of his reply; for
Joseph was not yet sure which was the truer part of this young man, the
ringlets and the bracelets or the shield and the spear.

He was partial to long silences; and the next of these was so long that
Joseph had begun to wonder, but when they reached the crest of the hill
he burst into speech like a bird into song, asking what was happening in
Galilee, avouching much interest in Jesus, whom he had heard of, but had
never seen. Joseph, guessing that it was to obtain news of Jesus that
Nicodemus sought him on the hillside, told him that he had not spoken of
Jesus for many weeks, and found a sudden relief in relating all he knew
about him: how Jesus said that father, mother, brother and sister must
be abandoned. Yes, he had said, we must look upon all sacrifice as
naught if we would obtain our ancient kingdom and language. But the
Essenes have never spoken like that, Nicodemus urged: he is not an
Essene, nor Moses, nor Elijah, nor Jeremiah. He is none of these: he is
Judas Maccabeus come to life again: and henceforth I shall look upon
myself as his disciple.

He spoke so loudly that any passer-by might have caught up his words;
and there was danger from Joseph's servants, for they were now standing
by his gate. He looked round uneasily, and as Nicodemus showed no signs
of taking leave of him, he thought it would be more prudent to ask him
into the house, warning him, however, that he had no beautiful things to
show him in the way of engraved weapons, swords from Damascus or daggers
from Circassia. It was not, however, to see beautiful weapons that
Nicodemus inclined; only so far as they related to Jesus was he
interested in arms; and he besought Joseph to tell him more of Jesus,
whom he seemed to have already accepted as the leader of a revolt
against the Romans. But Joseph, who had begun to fear the young man,
protested that Jesus' Kingdom was not of this earth, thinking thereby to
discredit Jesus in Nicodemus' eyes. Nicodemus was not to be put off so
easily: the Jews spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven so that they might gain
the kingdom of earth. A method not very remarkable for its success,
Joseph interposed. The Romans do otherwise, never thinking about the
Kingdom of Heaven, but only of riches and vainglory, whereas Jesus, he
said, says it is as hard for the rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven
as it would be for a sword to pass through the eye of a needle. A sword
through the eye of a needle, Nicodemus repeated, walking up and down the
floor, stamping his lance as he went. He is the leader we have been
waiting for. But it is not always thus that he speaks, Joseph
interposed, I have heard him myself say: it is as hard for a rich man to
enter heaven as it would be for a cow to calve in a rook's nest. As he
went to and fro Nicodemus muttered: there is much to be said for this
revision of his words. Jesus wishes to reach the imagination of the poor
that know not swords. And he spoke for a long time of the indolence of
the rich, of their gross pleasures and sensual indulgences. But we must
give them swords, he added under his breath, as if he were speaking for
himself alone and did not wish Joseph to hear, and then, awaking from
his reverie, he turned to his host: tell me more of this remarkable man.
And Joseph, who was now a little amused at his guest's extravagances,
asked him if he knew the answer he had given to Antipas, who had invited
him to his court in Tiberias in consequence of the renown of his
miracles. Wishing to witness some exhibition of his skill, Antipas
seated himself in imperial fashion on his highest throne, and, drawing
his finest embroideries about him, asked Jesus if he had seen anybody
attired so beautifully before, to which Jesus, who stood between two
soldiers, a beggar in rags, before the king, replied: I have indeed;
pheasants and peacocks, for nature apparelled them. Neither Moses nor
Elijah nor Jeremiah, Nicodemus declared, could have invented a reply
more apt. He asked Joseph if any further doubt lingered in his mind that
Jesus was the prophet promised to the Jews. How I envy thy intercourse
with him, he cried. How I envy thee, for thou art the friend of him that
will overthrow the Romans.

Overthrow the Romans! Joseph repeated to himself, and as soon as his
guest had left his house he was brought to a presentiment of the danger
he incurred in allowing this man to come to his house: a young man who
walked about extravagantly armed would, sooner or later, find himself
haled before Pilate. Joseph felt that it would be better to refuse to
see him if he called at the counting-house: an excuse could be found
easily: his foreman might say: Master is away in Jericho. But when
Nicodemus called a few weeks afterwards Joseph was constrained to tell
his foreman to tell Nicodemus that he would see him. The truth was,
Joseph was glad of an interruption, for his business was boring him more
than it did usually, but he liked to pretend to himself that he could
not escape from Nicodemus.

A new opinion of Nicodemus began to shape itself in his mind when
Nicodemus said that many and many a year will have to pass before that
can be done with success, and the Roman rule is so light that the people
feel it not. It saves us from quarrels among ourselves, and who have
quarrelled as bitterly as we have done? Joseph's heart softened at this
appreciation of the Jewish people, and they began to talk in sympathy
for the first time, and it was a pleasure to find themselves in this
agreement, that before the Jews could conquer the Romans they would have
to conquer themselves. He is more cautious than I thought for, Joseph
muttered as he returned to his camel-drivers, for his guest had departed
suddenly without giving any reason for his visitation. A spy he cannot
be, Joseph said to himself. I stand too well with Pilate to be suspected
of schemes of mutiny. But he will soon come under the notice of Pilate;
and Joseph was not surprised when Pilate asked him if he knew an
extravagantly dressed young man, Nicodemus by name. Joseph replied that
he did, giving Pilate to understand that Nicodemus was no more than one
of the many eccentrics to be found in every city, with a taste for the
beauty of engraved swords, and little for the use of these weapons; and
Pilate, who seemed to be of the same opinion himself, suddenly asked him
if he had ever met in Galilee one named Jesus. Jesus from Nazareth,
Pilate said; and Joseph watched the tall, handsome, pompous Roman, one
of those intelligently stupid men of which there are so many about. He
arrived, Pilate continued, in Jerusalem yesterday with a number of
Galileans, all talking of the resurrection, and news has just reached me
that he had been preaching in the Temple, creating some disturbance,
which will, I hope, not be repeated, for disturbances in the Temple lead
to disturbances in the streets. Does your father know this new prophet?
As Joseph was about to answer one of Pilate's apparitors entered
suddenly with papers that demanded the procurator's attention. We will
talk over this on another occasion, Pilate said as he bent over the
papers, and Joseph went out muttering: so he has come, so he has come to
Jerusalem at last.

At any moment he might meet Jesus, and to stop to speak to him in the
street would, in a sense, involve a profanation of his oath to his
father; and he knew he could not turn aside from Jesus. He must
therefore refrain from going up to Jerusalem and transact his business
from his house by means of messengers. But if Pilate were to send for
him? We cannot altogether avoid risk, he said to himself. I can do no
more than remain within doors.

It was not many days afterwards that one of his servants came suddenly
into the room. Nicodemus, Sir, is waiting in the hall and would see you,
though I told him you were engaged with business. He says the matter on
which he is come to speak to you is important. Well, then, let me see
him, Joseph answered.

Now, what has happened? he asked. Has he said anything that the
Sanhedrin will be able to punish him for? He threw some more olive roots
on the fire and told the servant to bring a lamp. A lamp, he said, will
be welcome, for this grey dusk is disheartening.

The weather is cold, so draw your chair near to the fire. I am glad to
see you. The men waited for the servant to leave the room. We shall be
more comfortable when the curtains are drawn. The lamp, I see, is
beginning to burn up.... Nicodemus sat grave and hieratic, thin and
tall, in the high chair, and the gloom on his face was so immovable that
Joseph wasted no words. What has fallen out? he said, and Nicodemus
asked him if he knew Phinehas, the great money-changer in the Temple.
Joseph nodded, and, holding his hands before the fire, Nicodemus told
his story very slowly, exasperating Joseph by his slowness; but he did
not dare to bid him to hasten, and, holding himself in patience, he
listened to him while he told that Phinehas was perhaps the worst of the
extorters, the most noisy and arrogant, a vicious and quarrelsome man,
who, yester-morning, was engaged with a rich Alexandrian Jew, Shamhuth,
who had lately arrived from Alexandria and was buying oxen, rams and
ewes in great numbers for sacrifice. We wondered at his munificence,
Nicodemus said, not being able to explain it to ourselves, for the Feast
of the Tabernacles is over; and our curiosity was still more roused when
it became known that he was distributing largess. The man's appearance
aroused suspicion, for it is indeed a fearful one. From his single eye
to his chin a fearful avariciousness fills his face, and the empty,
withered socket speaks of a close, sordid, secret passion, and so
clearly that Jesus said: that man has not come to glorify God nor to
repent of his sins. He is guilty of a great crime, and he would have it
forgiven him. But the crime? Of what crime is he guilty? we asked. Jesus
did not answer us, for at that moment some young man had come to listen
to him, and the man's crime appeared to him as of little importance
compared to his own teaching. Has he come, we asked, to pray that his
sight may be restored to him? Jesus motioned to us that that was so; and
he also bade us be silent, for stories of miracles have a great hold
upon the human mind, and Jesus wished to teach some young men who had
come to ask him how they were to live during these last days. But
myself, consumed with desire to hear the man's story, mingled with the
herdsmen who had brought in the cattle, and inquired how Shamhuth had
lost his eye. None could tell me, and I failed to get tidings of him
till I came upon an Alexandrian Jew who told me a strange story.
Shamhuth's money came from his friend's wife, whom he married after
causing him to be killed by hirelings; and when his senses tired of her
he persuaded her daughter to come over to him in the night. Shamhuth
always walked praying aloud, his eyes cast down lest they should fall
upon a woman, and his wife did not suspect him. But one night she was
bidden in a dream to seek her husband, and rising from her bed she
descended and opened the door very softly, not wishing to disturb him in
his sleep. The sight that met her eyes kindled such a great flame of
hate in her that she returned to her room for a needle, and placing her
hands upon her daughter's mouth she quickly pricked out both her eyes,
and then, approaching her husband, she pricked out his right eye, and
was about to prick out the other, but he slid from her hands and
escaped, blind of an eye, to Jerusalem, bringing with him great sums of
money in the hope that he may purchase a miracle, which is a great
blasphemy in itself, and shows what the man really is in his heart.

Such was the story that the Alexandrian Jew, who knew him, told us; and
as soon as these abominations became known in the Temple a riot began,
and somebody cried: the adulterer must be put away. Whereupon Phinehas,
seeing the large profits he had expected vanishing, turned to Jesus and
said: it is thou who hast brought this disaster upon me, lying Galilean,
who callest thyself the son of David, when all know ye to be the son of
Joseph the Carpenter.

Son of David! Son of David! How can that be? the people began to ask
each other, and in the midst of their questioning a great hilarity broke
over them. In great wrath Jesus overturned Phinehas' table, and Phinehas
would have overthrown Jesus had not Peter, who had armed himself with a
sword, raised it. The people became like mad: tables were broken for
staves, some rushed away to escape with a whole skin, and the frightened
cattle dashed among them, a black bull goring many. And in all the mob
Jesus was the fiercest fighter, lashing the people in the face with the
thongs of the whip he had taken from a herdsman, and felling others with
the handle. The cages of the doves were broken, the birds took flight,
and the priests, at their wits' end, called for the guards to come down
from the porticoes, and it was not till much blood had been spilt that
order was restored. Joseph asked how Phinehas came out of all this
trouble, and heard that he had escaped without injury. Merely losing a
few shekels, not more, though he deserved to lose his life, for he
placed his money above the Temple, not caring whether it was polluted by
the presence of an adulterer, only thinking of the great profit he could
make out of the man's sins, differing in no wise in this from the
priests and sacristans.

Jesus should never have gone to the Temple nor come to Jerusalem, Joseph
said. But in this Nicodemus could not agree with him, for if Jesus were
the Messiah his mission was nothing less than to free Jerusalem from the
Roman yoke. But he should have brought a larger body of disciples with
him--some thousands, instead of a few hundreds--not enough to bring
about the abolition of the Temple, which, according to Nicodemus, was
the Galilean's project--one more difficult to accomplish than he thinks
for. The Romans support the Temple, he cried, because the Temple divides
us. I say it myself, Sadducee though I am.

It was these last words that proved to Joseph that the ringlets and
bracelets did not comprise the whole of this young man's soul, and he
was moved forthwith to confide the story of his father's sickness to
him, dwelling on all its consequences: he had not been elected an
apostle, and Jesus consequently had no one by to tell him that he must
not speak of the abolition of the law in Jerusalem. But if he did not
come to incite the people against the Temple, for what did he come?
Nicodemus asked. You've heard him preach in Galilee, tell me who he is,
and in what does his teaching consist?--a direct question that prompted
Joseph to relate his associations with the Essenes, Banu, John, the
search for Jesus in Egypt and among the Judean hills--a long story I'm
afraid it is, Joseph mentioned apologetically to Nicodemus, who begged
him to omit no detail of it. Nicodemus sat with his eyes fixed on Joseph
while Joseph told of the discovery of Jesus in Galilee among his
father's fishermen; and as if to excuse the almost immodest interest
awakened in Nicodemus, Joseph murmured that the story owed nothing to
his telling of it; he was telling it as plainly as it could be told for
a purpose; Nicodemus must judge it fairly. Resuming his narrative,
Joseph related the day spent in the forest and Jesus' interpretation of
the prophecies. Nicodemus cried: he is the stone cut by no hand out of
the mountain; the idol shall fall, and the stone that felled it shall
grow as big as a mountain and fill the whole earth.



CHAP. XVII.


As they sat talking the servant brought in a letter which, he said, has
just arrived from Galilee. The messenger rode the whole journey in two
days, Sir, and you'll have to do the same, Sir, and to start at once if
you would see your father alive. If I would see my father alive! if I
would see my father alive! Joseph repeated, and, seizing Nicodemus by
the hand, he bade him farewell.

Let an escort be called together at once, he cried, and an hour later he
was on the back of a speedy dromedary riding through the night, his mind
whirling with questions which he did not put to the messenger, knowing
he could not answer any of them. And they rode on through that night and
next day, stopping but once to rest themselves and their animals--six
hours' rest was all he allowed himself or them. Six hours' rest for
them, for him not an hour, so full was his mind with questions. He rode
on, drinking a little, but eating nothing, thinking how his father's
life might be saved, of that and nothing else. Were they feeding him
with milk every ten minutes?--he could not trust nurses, nobody but
himself. Were they shouting in his ear, keeping him awake, as it were,
stimulating his consciousness at wane?

Once, and only once, while attending on his father did Joseph remember
that if his father died he would be free to follow Jesus: a shameful
thought that he shook out of his mind quickly, praying the while upon
his knees by the bedside that he might not desire his father's death.
As the thought did not come again, he assumed that his prayer was
granted, and when he returned to Jerusalem a month later (the new year
springing up all about him), immersed in a sort of sad happiness,
thanking God, who had restored his father to health (Joseph had left Dan
looking as if he would live to a hundred), a strange new thought came
into his mind and took possession of it: the promise given his father
only bound him during his father's lifetime; at his father's death he
would be free to follow Jesus; but the dead hold us more tightly than
the living, and he feared that his life would be always in his father's
keeping.

He was about his father's business in the counting-house; his father
seemed to direct every transaction, and, ashamed of his weakness, he
refrained from giving an order till he heard, or thought he heard, his
father's voice speaking through him, and when he returned to his
dwelling-house, over against the desert, it often seemed to him that if
he were to raise his eyes from the ashes in which some olive roots were
burning he would see his father, and as plain as if he were before his
eyes in the flesh. But my father isn't dead, so what is the meaning of
this dreaming? he cried one evening; and, starting out of his chair, he
stood listening to the gusts whirling through the hills with so
melancholy a sound that Joseph could not dismiss the thought that the
moment was fateful. His father was dying ... something was befalling, or
it might be that Jesus was at the door asking for him. The door opened,
and he uttered a cry: what is it? Nicodemus, the servant answered, has
come to see you, Sir. And he waited for his order to bid the visitor to
enter or depart.

His master seemed unable to give either order, and stood at gaze till
the servant reminded him that Nicodemus was waiting in the hall; and
then, as if yielding to superior force, Joseph answered he was willing
to receive the visitor, regretting his decision almost at once, while
the servant descended the stairs, and vehemently on seeing Nicodemus,
who entered, the lamplight falling upon him, more brilliantly apparelled
than Joseph had ever seen him. A crimson mantle hung from his shoulders
and a white hand issuing from a purfled sleeve grasped a lance; weapons,
jewelled and engraved, appeared among the folds of his raiment, and he
strode about the room in silence, as if he thought it necessary to give
Joseph a few moments in which to consider his war gear (intended as an
elaborate piece of symbolism). In response to the riddle presented,
Joseph began to wonder if Nicodemus regarded himself rather as a riddle
than as a reality--a riddle that might be propounded again and again, or
if he could not do else than devise gaud and trappings to conceal his
inner emptiness, a dust-heap of which he himself was grown weary. A
great deal of dust-heap there certainly is, Joseph said to himself as
his eyes followed the strange figure prowling along and across the room,
breaking occasionally into speech. But he could not help thinking that
beneath the dust-heap there was something of worth, for when Nicodemus
spoke, he spoke well, and to speak well means to think well, and to
think well, Joseph was prone to conclude, means to act well, if not
always, at least sometimes. But could an apt phrase condone the
accoutrements? He had added a helmet to the rest of his war gear, and
the glint of the lamplight on the brass provoked Joseph to beg of him to
unarm and relate his story, that burdens you more than your armour, he
said. At these words Nicodemus was raised from the buffoon to a man of
sense and shrewdness. I have come here, he said, to speak to you about
Jesus. But the story is a somewhat perilous one, and as it rains no
longer I will walk with you along the hillside and tell it to you.

He raised his hand to Joseph, forbidding him to speak, and it was not
till they reached a lonely track that Nicodemus stopped suddenly: his
death had been resolved upon, he said, and the two men stood for a
moment looking into each other's eyes without speaking. It was Nicodemus
who fell to walking again and the relation of circumstances. He had come
straight from the Sanhedrin, where he defended Jesus against his enemies
and accusers at some personal risk, as he was quickly brought to see by
Raguel's retort: and art thou too a Galilean? And walking with his eyes
on the ground, as if communing with himself, Nicodemus related that
there was now but one opinion in the Sanhedrin: Jesus and Judaism were
incompatible; one or the other must go. Better that one man should
perish than that a nation should be destroyed, he said, are the words
one hears. Stopping again, he said, looking Joseph in the face: it is
believed that sufficient warrant for his death has been gotten, for he
said not many days ago he could destroy the Temple and build it again in
three days, which can be interpreted as speech against the law. Joseph
asked that a meaning should be put on the words, and Nicodemus answered
that Jesus spoke figuratively. To his mind the Temple stood for no more
than observances from which all spiritual significance had faded long
ago, and Jesus meant that he could and would replace dead formulæ by a
religion of heart: the true religion which has no need of priests or
sacrifices. We must persuade him to leave Jerusalem and return to
Galilee, Joseph cried, his voice trembling. By no means, by no means,
Nicodemus exclaimed, raising his voice and stamping his lance. He has
been called to the work and must drive the plough to the headland,
though death be waiting him there. But he can be saved, I think,
Nicodemus continued, his voice assuming a thoughtful tone, for though he
has spoken against the law the Jews may not put him to death: his death
can be obtained only by application to Pilate. Will Pilate grant it to
please the Jews? Joseph asked. The Romans are averse, Nicodemus
answered, from religious executions and will not comprehend the putting
to death of a man for saying he can destroy the Temple and build it
again in three days.

Nicodemus became prolix and tedious, repeating again and again that it
was the second part of the sentence that would save Jesus, for it was
obvious that though a man might destroy the Temple in three days (a
great fire would achieve the destruction in a few hours), he could not
build it again in three days. This second part of the sentence proved
beyond doubt that Jesus was speaking figuratively, and the Romans would
refuse to put a man to death because he was a poet and spoke in symbols
and allegories. The Romans were hard, but they were just; and he spoke
on Roman justice till they came round the hills shouldering over
against Bethany, and found themselves in the midst of a small group of
men taking shelter from the wind behind a large rock. Why, Master, it is
you. And Joseph recognised Peter's voice, and afterwards the voices of
James and John, who were with him, called to Matthew and Aristion, who
were at some little distance, sitting under another rock, and the five
apostles crowded round Joseph, bidding him welcome, Peter, James and
John demonstratively, and Aristion and Matthew, who knew Joseph but
little, giving him a more timid but hardly less friendly welcome. We did
not know why you had left us, they said. But it is pleasant to find you
in Jerusalem, for we are lonely here, Matthew said, and the
Hierosolymites mock at us for not speaking as they do. But you are with
us here, young Master, as you were in Galilee? John asked. We knew not
why you left us. But we did, John, Peter interposed, we knew well that
Jesus said to him, when he returned from his father's sick-bed, that
those who would follow him must leave father and mother, brother and
sister, wives and children to live and die by themselves, which is as we
have done. Yes, Sir, Peter continued, freeing himself from John and
turning to Joseph, we've left this world behind us, or if not this world
itself, the things of this world: our boats and nets, our wives and our
children. All that Jesus calls our ghostly life we have thrown into the
lake. My wife and children and mother-in-law are all there, and John and
James have left their mother, Salome. But, said James, the neighbours
will not be lacking to give her a bite if she wants something when she
is hungry. She'll be getting men to fish for her, for we've left her
our boats and nets. They've done this, Peter chimed in, and my wife and
children will have to be fishing for themselves; but we hope they'll
manage to get somehow a bite and a sup of something till the Kingdom
comes, which we hope will not be delayed much longer, for we like not
Jerusalem, and being mocked at in the Temple. But say ye, Master, that
we've done wrong in leaving our wives and children to fish for
themselves? It seemed hard at first, and you were weak, Master, and
stayed with your father; but after all he has money and could pay for
attendance, whereas our wives and little ones have none; ourselves will
be in straits to get our living if the Kingdom be delayed in its coming,
for what good are fishermen except along the sea coast or where there is
a lake or a river, and here there isn't enough water for a minnow to
swim in. Our wives and our children are better off than we are, for
they'll be getting someone to fish for them, and will stand at the doors
at Capernaum waiting for the boats to return, praying that the nets
weren't let down in vain; but we aren't as sure of the Kingdom as we
were of a great take of fishes in Galilee when the wind was favourable
to fishing. Not that we'd have you think our faith be failing us; we be
as firm as ever we were, as John and James will be telling you. And
Peter, interrupting them again, reminded Joseph that if they lacked
faith the promised Kingdom would not come.

It was Jesus' faith that upheld us, John said, pushing Peter aside, and
the promises he made us that we might hear the trumpets of the cherubims
and seraphims announcing the Kingdom at any moment of the day or night.
And making himself the spokesman of the five, John told Joseph and
Nicodemus that Jesus now looked upon the arrival of the Kingdom as a
very secondary matter, and his own death as one of much greater import.
He says that he'll have to give his blood to the earth and his flesh to
the birds of the air else none will believe his teaching. He says that
God demands a victim; and looks upon him as the victim; but if that be
so, the world will get his teaching and we shall get nothing, for we
know his teaching of old.

As Peter has told you, James interrupted, there be no water here, not a
spring nor a rivulet, nothing in which a fish could live; we're
fishermen stranded in a desert without boats or nets, which would be of
no use to us, nor am I gainsaying it; but if he gives himself as a
victim how shall we get back to Galilee? He now talks not of these
matters to us, but of his Father only, and of doing his Father's will.
He seems to have forgotten us, and everything else but his Father and
his Father's will, and we cannot make him understand when we try that we
shall want money, that money will be wanting to get us back to Galilee,
nor does he hear us when we say: our nets and our boats may have passed
into other hands. We know not what is come over him; he's a changed man;
a lamb as long as you're agreeing with him, but at a word of
contradiction he's all claws and teeth.

The walk is a long one, Matthew interjected, and the taxes will be
collected by the time we get back if the Kingdom don't come, and sore of
foot I'll be sitting in a desolate house without wife or children or
fire in the hearth. But we have faith, they all cried out together, and
having followed Jesus so far we'll follow him to the end. But we are
glad, Sirs, James said, that you've come, for you'll see Jesus and tell
him that we would like to have a word from him as to when we may expect
the Kingdom; and a word, too, as to what it will be like; whether
there'll be rivers and lakes well stocked with fish in it, and whether
our chairs shall be set; Peter on the Master's right hand to be sure, we
are all agreed as to that. But you remember, Master, our mother, Salome,
how she took Jesus aside and said that myself and John were to be on his
left with Andrew one below us? Peter began to raise his voice, and,
straightening his shoulders, he declared that his brother Andrew must
sit on Jesus' left. You remember, Master? I remember, Joseph
interrupted, that the Master answered you all saying that every chair
had been made and caned and cushioned before the world was. You can't
have forgotten, Peter, this saying: that every one would find a chair
according to his measure? Yes, Master, he did say something like that.
I'm far from saying we'd all sit equally easy in the same chairs, and if
the chairs were before the world was, all I can say is that there seems
to have been a lack of foresight, for how could God himself know what
our backsides would be like years upon years before they came into
being.

About that we will speak later; but now point out the house of Simon the
Leper to us where Jesus lodges, Joseph asked. You see yon house, James
replied, and they went forward together, meeting on the way thither
several apostles and many disciples; and these accompanied Joseph and
Nicodemus to the door, telling them the while that Jesus had driven them
out of the house. It is a main struggle that is going by in him, Philip
said, and so we left him, being afraid of his looks. Isn't that so,
Bartholomew? And they all acquiesced, and Bartholomew nodded, saying:
yes, we were afraid of his looks. It was then that Simon the Leper
opened the door, and Joseph, remembering his promise to his father, laid
his hand on Nicodemus' shoulder: I may not enter, he said. I have come
thus far but may not go into the house; but do you go in and tell him,
Nicodemus, that in spirit I am with him.

On these words Nicodemus passed into the house, leaving Joseph in the
centre of a small crowd of apostles, disciples and sympathisers in
several degrees, all eager to talk to him and to hear him say that they
had but to follow Jesus to Jerusalem and the Scribes and Pharisees would
give way before them at once. You that are of the Sanhedrin should know
if we are strong enough to cast them out of the Temple. But, my good
men, I know nothing of your plot to clear the Temple of its thieves,
Joseph answered, and there'll always be thieves in this world, wherever
you go. But the Day of Judgment is approaching. When may we expect his
second coming? somebody shouted from out of a group of men standing a
little way back from the others, and the cry was taken up. He is coming
with his Father in a chariot, one said. With our Father, somebody
interrupted, and an eddying current of theology spread through the
crowd. I've come from Galilee, from my father's sick-bed, and know
nothing of your numbers and have not seen him these many months, Joseph
said. He is the true Messiah, and we believe in him, was an unexpected
utterance; but Joseph was not given time to ponder on it, for a woman,
thrusting her way up to him, cried out in his face: he can destroy the
Temple and build it again in three days. And when Joseph asked her who
had said that, she told him that Jesus had said it. He turned to Peter,
John and James to ask them the meaning of these words. What did Jesus
mean when he said he could destroy the Temple and build it again in
three days? He means, said half-a-dozen voices, that the priests and the
Scribes are to be cast out, and a new Temple set up, for the pure
worship of the true God, who desires not the fat of rams. Joseph
understood that the rams destined for sacrifice were to be given to the
poor.

If you don't mind, will you be telling us why you refuse to go up with
Nicodemus to ask Jesus to delay no longer, but to lead us into
Jerusalem? he was asked, and perforce had to answer that Nicodemus
wished to talk privily to Jesus, at which they pressed round him, and
from every side the question was put to him: is he going to lead us into
Jerusalem? And then Joseph began to understand that these people would
find themselves on the morrow, or perhaps the next day, fighting with
the Roman legions, and, knowing how the fight would end, he answered
them that the Romans would be on the side of the priests and Scribes.
Whereupon they tore their garments and cast dust on their heads, and in
his attempt to pacify them he asked if it would not be better for Jesus
to go up to Galilee and wait till the priests were less prepared to
resist him. No, no, to Jerusalem, to Jerusalem, they cried on every
side, and voices were again raised, and the Galileans admitted that they
had come down from Galilee for this revolution, and had been insulted in
the Temple by the Scribes, and laughed at, and called "foolish
Galileans"; but they would show the Scribes what the Galileans could do.
Was it true that Jesus was the Messiah promised to the Jewish people by
the prophet Daniel?--and while Joseph was seeking an answer to this
question a woman cried: you're not worthy of a Messiah, for do you not
know that he is the one promised to us in Holy Writ? And do not his
miracles prove that he is the Messiah we have been waiting for? None but
the true Messiah could have rid my son of the demon that infested him
for two years; and with these words gaining the attention of the crowd
she related how the ghost of a man long dead had come into her boy when
he was but fourteen, bringing him to the verge of death in two years--a
pale, exhausted creature, having no will of his own nor strength for
anything. But how, asked Joseph, do you know that the demon was the
ghost of a man that had lived long ago? Because in life he had dearly
loved his wife, but had found her to be unfaithful to him and had died
of grief twenty years ago, and was captured then by the beauty of my
boy; and his grief entered into the boy and abode in him, and would have
destroyed him utterly if Jesus had not imposed his hands upon him and
put the vampire to flight. Whither I know not, but my boy is free. It is
as the woman says, a man cried out, for I've seen the boy, and he is
free now of the demon. My limb, too, is proof that Jesus is a prophet.
And the lion-hunter told how in a fight with a great beast his thigh had
been dislocated; and for seven years he had walked with a crutch, but
the moment Jesus imposed his hands upon him the use of his limb was
given back to him.

Another came forward and showed his arm, which for many a year had hung
lifeless, but as soon as Jesus took it in his hand the sinews reknit
themselves, and now it was stronger than the other. And then a woman
pressed through the crowd, and she wished everybody to know that a flux
of blood that had troubled her for seven years had been healed. But the
people were bored with accounts of miracles and were now anxious to hear
from Joseph if Jesus was going up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the
Passover. But, my friends, I have but just returned from Galilee, and
have come from there to learn these things. He is watching for a sign
from his Father in heaven, a woman cried, shaking her head. A man tried
to get some words privily with Joseph: will he speak against the taxes?
he asked, but before he could get any further Nicodemus appeared in the
doorway, and the people pressed round him, asking what Jesus had said to
him, and if he were coming down to speak to them. But before Nicodemus
could answer any of them the lion-hunter cried out that a priest was not
so terrible a beast as a lion, and while he was with them Jesus had
nothing to fear. At which his enemy in the crowd began to jeer, saying:
Asiel wears the lion's skin, we all know, but he has never told anybody
who killed the lion for him. And the men might have hit each other if
the woman who suffered for seven years had not cried out: now, what are
you fighting for? know ye not that Jesus cannot come down to us, for he
is waiting for a sign from his Father? From our Father, John thundered
out. Nicodemus said he had spoken truly, and the crowd followed
Nicodemus and Joseph a little way. Do not return to the house of Simon
the Leper. Leave Jesus in peace to-night to pray, meditate, and rest,
for he needs rest. He'll lead you to Jerusalem as soon as he gets a sign
from our Father which is in heaven, Nicodemus said.

At these words the people dispersed in great joy, and Joseph and
Nicodemus walked on together in silence, till Joseph, feeling that they
were safely out of hearing, asked if Jesus spoke of his intention to
take Jerusalem by assault. Nicodemus seemed to examine his memory for a
moment, and then, as if forgetting Joseph's question, he began to tell
that Jesus was standing in the middle of the room when he entered,
seemingly unaware that his disciples were assembled about the house. His
eyes fixed, as it were, on his thoughts or ideas, he did not hear the
door open, and to get his attention Nicodemus had to lay his hand upon
his arm. At his touch Jesus awoke from his dream, but it seemed quite a
little while before he could shake himself free from his dream, and was
again of this world. Joseph asked Nicodemus to repeat his first words.
Was he violent or affectionate? Affectionate, gentle, and winning,
Nicodemus answered. A few moments of sweetness, and then he seemed
suddenly to become old and wild and savage.

The two men stopped on the road, and Nicodemus looking into Joseph's
eyes, said: I asked him if he were going up to Jerusalem for the Feast
of the Passover, and after speaking a few words on the subject he broke
out, coiling himself like a diseased panther meditating on its spring,
and as if uncertain if he could accomplish it, he fell back into a chair
and into his dream, out of which he spoke a few words clear and
reasonable; and then with a concentrated hate he spoke of the Temple as
a resort of thieves and of the priests as the despoilers of widows and
orphans, saying that the law must be abrogated and the Temple destroyed.
Until then there would be no true religion in Judea. It is like that he
speaks now; the one-time reformer sees clearly that the Temple must go.
And would he, Joseph asked, build another in its place? I'm not sure
that he would. I put the question to him and he was uncertain if the old
foundations could be used. The old spirits of lust, and blood, and money
would haunt the walls, and as fast as we raised up a new Temple the
spirits would pull it down and rebuild it as it was before. We are
forbidden by the law of Moses to create any graven image of man, of bird
or beast. Would that Moses had added: build no walls, for as soon as
there are walls priests will enter in and set themselves upon thrones.
The priests have taken the place of God, and I have come, he said, to
cast them out of their thrones, and to cut the knot of the bondage of
the people of Israel. I come, he said, with a sword to cut that knot,
which hands have failed to loosen, and in my other hand there is a
torch, and with it I shall set fire to the thrones. All the world as ye
know it must be burnt up like stubble, for a new world to rise up in its
place. In the beginning I spoke sweet words of peace, and they were of
no avail to stay the sins that were committed in every house; so now I
speak no more sweet words to anybody, but words that shall divide father
from son, and mother from daughter, and wife from husband. There is no
other way to cure the evil. What say I, he cried, cure! There is none.
The evil must be cut down and thrown upon the fire, and whosoever would
be saved from the fire must follow me. The priests hate me and call me
arrogant, but if I seem arrogant to them it is because I speak the word
of God.

And then, seizing me by the shoulder, he said: look into my eyes and
see. They shall tell thee that those who would be saved from the fire
must follow me. I am the word, the truth, and the life. Follow me,
follow me, or else be for ever accursed and destroyed and burnt up like
weeds that the gardener throws into heaps and fires on an autumn
evening. Yes, he cried, we are nearing the springtime when life shall
begin again in the world. But I say to thee that this springtime shall
never come to pass. Never again shall the fig ripen on the wall and the
wheat be cut down in the fields. Before these things come to pass in
their natural course the Son of Man shall return in a chariot of fire to
make an end of things; or if thou wilt thou can say that he'll come not
to make an end but a new beginning, a world in which justice and peace
shall reign. And it is for this end I offer myself, a victim to appease
our Father in heaven. I'm the sacrifice and the communion, for it is no
longer the fat of rams that my Father desires, but my blood, only that;
only my blood will appease his wrath. As I have said, I am the
communion, and thou shalt eat my flesh and drink my blood, else perish
utterly, and go into eternal damnation. But I love thee and---- And
after a pause he said: those that love God are loved by me, and
willingly and gladly will I yield myself up as the last sacrifice.

Nicodemus stopped, for his memory died suddenly, and, unable to discover
anything in the blank, he turned to Joseph and said: he speaks with a
strange, bitter energy, like one that has lost control of his words; he
is hardly aware of them, nor does he retain any memory of them. They are
as the wind, rising we know not why, and going its way unbidden. I have
seen him like that in Galilee, Joseph answered. Ah! Nicodemus answered
suddenly, I remember, but cannot put words upon it. He said that before
the world was, he and his Father were one, and that his great love of
man induced him to separate himself----

At that moment a man came out from the shadow of a rock and approached
the wayfarers, who drew back quickly, thinking they were about to be
attacked. It is Judas, Joseph whispered, one of the apostles. You have
seen Jesus? Judas asked breathlessly, and when Nicodemus told how Jesus
had said he would go up to Jerusalem for the Passover he cried out: to
lead us against the Temple? He must be saved. From what? Nicodemus
asked: from his mission? He must go on to the end with the work he has
been called out of heaven to accomplish. I can see that you have been
speaking with him. Called out of heaven to accomplish! And then,
clasping his hands, Judas looked with imploring eyes upon them: save
him, he cried, save him, for if not, I must myself, for every day his
pride redoubles and now he believes himself to be the Messiah, the
Messiah as sent by God, Judas cried. By whom else could he be sent?
Joseph replied. If he be not taken by the priests and put to death he
will be driven by the demon into the last blasphemy; one which no Jew
has yet committed even in his heart, and if that word be spoken all will
be accomplished, and the Lord will choose another nation from among the
Gentiles. He will declare himself God, Judas continued. Nicodemus and
Joseph raised their hands. He speaks already of the time before the
world was, when he and his Father were one; and setting aside the
Scriptures in his madness he has begun to imagine that the angels that
revolted against God were changed into men, and given the world for
abode till their sins so angered the Father (remark you, of whom Jesus
was then a part) that he determined to destroy the world; at which Jesus
in his great love of men (or of fallen angels, for betimes he doesn't
know what he is saying) said he would put Godhead off and become man,
and give his life as atonement for the sins of men. Sirs, I'll ask you
how God or man may by his death make atonement for the sins that men
have committed? Hear me to the end, for as many minutes as you have
listened, I have listened hours. By this sacrifice of his life his
teaching will become known to men and he will reign the one and only
king till the world itself crumbles and perishes. Then he will become
one with his Father, and from that moment there will be but one God.
These are the thoughts, noble Sirs, on which he is brooding, and if he
go up to yon town it will be to---- Judas could not bring himself to
pronounce the words "declare himself God," so blasphemous did they seem
to him. And before the wayfarers could ask him, as they were minded to,
if he were sure that he had rightly understood Jesus, the apostle had
bidden them farewell, and, running up a by-track, disappeared into the
darkness, leaving behind him a memory of a large bony nose hanging over
a thin black moustache that barely covered his lips.

As they walked towards the city, over which the moon was hanging,
filling the valleys and hills with strange, fantastical shadows, they
remembered the black, shaggy eyebrows, the luminous eyes, and the
bitter, penetrating voice, and they remembered the gait, the long
striding legs as they hastened up the steep path; even the pinched back
often started up in their memory. And the next three or four days they
sought him in the crowds that assembled to make the triumphal entry
with Jesus into Jerusalem, but he was not to be seen; and if he had been
among the people they could not fail to have discovered him. He is not
here to welcome Jesus, Joseph muttered under his breath, and added: can
it be that he has deserted to the other side?

He is a sort of other Jesus, Nicodemus said. But yonder Jesus comes
riding on an ass, on which a crimson cloak has been laid. As Jesus
passed Nicodemus and Joseph he waved his hand, and there was a smile on
his lips and a light in his eye. He seems to have become suddenly young
again, Joseph said. He is exalted, Nicodemus added sadly, by his
following. And they counted about fifty men and women. Does he think
that with these he will drive the Pharisees and Sadducees out of the
Temple? he added. He is happy again, Joseph answered. See how he lifts
up the fringe of the mantle they have laid upon the ass, and admires it.
His face is happier than we have seen it for many a day. He likes the
people to salute him as the Son of David. Yet he knows, Nicodemus said,
that he is the son of Joseph the Carpenter. Ask him to beg the people
not to call him the Son of David, Joseph pleaded. And, running after the
ass, Nicodemus dared to say: ask the people not to call thee the Son of
David, for it will go against thee in the end. But Jesus' heart at that
moment was swollen with pride, and he answered Nicodemus: what thou
hearest to-day on earth was spoken in heaven before our Father bade the
stars give light. Be not afraid for my sake. Remember that whomsoever my
Father sends on earth to do his business, him will he watch over. He has
no eyes for me, Joseph said sadly, for I left him to attend my father in
sickness. And, taking Nicodemus' arm, he drew him close, that he might
more safely whisper that two men seemed to be searching in their
garments as if for daggers. Nicodemus knew them to be hirelings in the
pay of the priests. Look, he said, how their hands fidget for their
daggers; the opportunity seems favourable now to stab him; but no, the
crowd closes round his ass again, and the Zealots draw back. God saved
Daniel from the flames and the lions, Joseph answered. But will he,
Nicodemus returned, be able to save him from the priests?



CHAP. XVIII.


Nicodemus invited Joseph to follow Jesus, saying that at a safe distance
he would like to see him ride through the gates into the city; but
Joseph, sorely troubled in his mind, could not answer him, and an hour
later was hastening along the Jericho road, praying all the while that
he might be given strength to keep the promise he had given to his
father. But no sooner was he in Jericho than he began to feel ashamed of
himself, and after resisting the impulse to return to Jesus for two
days he yielded to it, and returned obediently the way he had come,
uncertain whether shame of his cowardice or love was bringing him back.
One or the other it must be, he said, as he came round the bend in the
road into Bethany; and it was soon after passing through that village,
somewhere about three o'clock, that he met his masons coming from Mount
Scropas. Coming from my tomb, he said to himself, and, reining up his
horse and speaking to them, he heard that his tomb was finished. We've
chiselled a great stone to be rolled into the doorway, he heard one of
the masons say; another uttered vauntingly that the stone closed the
tomb perfectly, and Joseph was about to press his horse forward when the
men called after him, and, gathering about his stirrup, they related
that Jesus of Nazareth had been tried and condemned by Pilate that
morning, and was now hanging on a cross, a-top of Golgotha, one of the
masons said: you can see him yourself, Master, if you be going that way,
and between two thieves. One of them was to have been Jesus Bar-Abba,
but the people cried out that he was to be released instead of Jesus. As
Joseph repeated the words, Bar-Abba instead of Jesus, as if he only half
understood them, the masons reminded him that it was the custom to
deliver up a prisoner to the people at the time of the Passover. At the
time of the Passover, he repeated.... At last, realising what had
happened, his face became overwrought; his eyes and mouth testified to
the grief he was suffering; and he pressed his spurs to his horse's
side, and would have been away beyond call if two of his workmen had not
seized the bridle and almost forced the horse on his haunches. Loose my
bridle, Joseph cried, astonished and beside himself. A moment with you,
Master. Be careful to speak no word in his favour, and make no show of
sympathy, else a Zealot's knife will be in your back before evening, for
they be seeking the Galileans everywhere, at the priests' bidding.
Before Joseph could break away he heard that the priests stirred up the
people against Jesus, giving it forth against him that he had come to
Jerusalem to burn down the Temple, and would set up another--built
without the help of hands, of what materials he did not know, but not
of stones nor wood, yet a Temple that will last for ever, the mason
shouted after Joseph, who had stuck his spurs again into his horse and
was riding full tilt towards a hill about half-a-mile from the city
walls. On his way thither he met some of the populace--the remnant
returning from the crucifixion--and he rode up the ascent at a gallop in
the hope that he might be in time to save Jesus' life.

He knew Pilate would grant him almost any favour he might ask; but
within fifty yards of the crosses his heart began to fail him, for,
whereas the thieves were straining their heads high in the air above the
crossbar, Jesus' head was sunk on to his chest. He died a while ago, the
centurion said, and as soon as he was dead the multitude began to
disperse, the Sabbath being at hand; and guessing Joseph to be a man of
importance, he added: if you like I'll make certain that he is dead,
and, taking his spear from one of the soldiers, he would have plunged it
into Jesus' side, but Joseph, forgetful of the warning he had received,
on no account to show sympathy with Jesus, laid his hand on the
spear-head, saying: respect the dead. As you will, the centurion
replied, and gave the spear back to the soldier, who returned to his
comrades, it being his turn to cast the dice. They have cast dice, the
centurion continued, and will divide the clothes of these men amongst
them; and, hearing the words, one of the soldiers held up the rags that
had come to him, while another spread upon the ground Jesus' fine cloak,
the one that Peter had bought for Jesus with money that Joseph gave to
him. That he should see the cloak again, and on such an occasion,
touched his heart. It was a humble incident in a cruel murder committed
by a priest; and the thought crossed Joseph's mind that he might
purchase the cloak from the soldier, but, remembering the warning he had
received, he did not ask for the cloak, nor did he once lift his eyes to
Jesus' face, lest the sight of it should wring his heart, and being
overcome and helpless with grief, the priests and their hirelings might
begin to suspect him.

He strove instead to call reason to his aid: Jesus' life being spent,
his duty was to obtain the body and bury it: far worse than the death he
endured would be for his sacred body to be thrown into the common ditch
with these malefactors. I know not how you can abide here, he said to
the centurion; their groans make the heart faint. We shall break their
bones presently; the Jews asked us to do this, for at six o'clock their
Sabbath begins. And in this the thieves are lucky, for were it not for
their Sabbath they would last on for three or four days: the first day
is the worst day; afterwards the crucified sinks into unconsciousness,
and I doubt if he suffers at all on the third day, and on the fourth day
he dies. But, Sir, what may I do for you? I've come for the body of this
man, Joseph answered; for, however erring, he was not a thief, and
deserves decent burial. You can come with me to testify that I've buried
it in a rock sepulchre, the stone of which yourself shall roll into the
door. To which the centurion answered that he did not dare to deliver up
the body of Jesus without an order from Pilate, though he was dead. Dead
an hour or more, truly dead, he added. Pilate will not refuse his body
to me, Joseph replied. Pilate and I are well acquainted; we are as
friends are; you must have seen me at the Prætorium before now, coming
to talk with the procurator about the transport of wheat from Moab, and
other things.

These words filled the centurion with admiration, and, afraid to seem
ignorant, he said he remembered having seen Joseph and knew him to be a
friend of Pilate. Well then, come with me at once to Jerusalem, Joseph
said coaxingly, and you'll see that Pilate will order thee to deliver
the dead unto me. But the centurion demurred, saying that his orders
were not to leave the gibbets. Upon my own word, Pilate will not deliver
up the body unless I bring you with me; I shall require you to testify
of the death. So come with me. The unwillingness of the centurion was
reduced to naught at the mention of a sum of money, and, giving orders
to his soldiers that nothing was to be done during his absence, he
walked beside Joseph's horse into Jerusalem, telling to Joseph as they
went the story of the arrest in the garden, the haling of Jesus before
the High Priest, and the sending of him on to Pilate, who, though
unwilling to confirm the sentence of death, was afraid of a riot, and
had yielded to the people's wish. The account of the scourging of Jesus
in the hall of the palace, and the bribing of the soldiers by the Jews
to make a mocking-stock of Jesus, was not finished when Joseph, who had
been listening without hearing, said: here is the door.

And while they waited for the door to be opened, and after the
doorkeeper had opened it, the centurion continued to tell his tale: how
a purple cloak was thrown upon the shoulders of Jesus, a reed put into
his hand, and a crown of thorns pressed upon his forehead. We wondered
how it was that he said nothing. We have come to see his worship, Joseph
interrupted; and the doorkeeper, who knew Joseph to be a friend of
Pilate, was embarrassed, for Pilate had sent down an order that he would
see no one again that day; but, like the centurion, he was amenable to
money, and consented to take in Joseph's name. There was no need to give
him money, he would not have dared to refuse Pilate's friend, the
centurion said as they waited.

Word came back quickly that Joseph was to be admitted, and after
begging Pilate to forgive him for intruding upon his privacy so late in
the day, he put his request into words, saying straight away: I have
come to ask for the body of Jesus, who was condemned to the cross at
noon. At these words Pilate's face became overcast, and he said that he
regretted that Joseph had come to ask him for something he could not
grant. It would have been pleasant to leave Jerusalem knowing that I
never refused you anything, Joseph, for you are the one Jew for whom I
have any respect, and, I may add, some affection. But why, Pilate,
cannot you give me Jesus' body? His body, is that what you ask for,
Joseph? It seemed to me that you had come to ask me to undo the sentence
that I pronounced to-day at noon. The body! Is Jesus dead then? The
centurion answered for Joseph: yes, sir; he died to-day at the ninth
hour. I put a lance into him to make sure, and blood and water came from
his side. At which statement Joseph trembled, for he was acquiescing in
a lie; but he did not dare to contradict the centurion, who was speaking
in his favour for the sake of the money he had received, and in the hope
of receiving more for the lie that he told. On the cross at noon and
dead before the ninth hour! Pilate muttered: he could but bear the cross
for three hours! After the scourging we gave him, Sir, the centurion
answered, he was so weak and feeble that we had to pass on his cross to
the shoulders of a Jew named Simon of Cyrene, who carried it to the top
of the mount for him. If he be dead there is no reason for my not giving
up the body, Pilate answered. Which I shall bury, Joseph replied, in my
own sepulchre. What, Joseph, have you already ordered your sepulchre? To
my eyes you do not look more than five or six and twenty years, and to
my eyes you look as if you would live for sixty more years at least; but
you Jews never lose sight of death, as if it were the only good. We
Romans think so too sometimes, but not so frequently as you.

And then this tall, grave, handsome man, whose face reflected a friendly
but somewhat formal soul, took Joseph by the arm and walked with him up
and down the tessellated pavement, talking in his ear, showing himself
so well disposed towards him that the centurion congratulated himself
that he had accepted Joseph's bribe. If I had only known that you were a
close friend, Pilate said to Joseph--but if I had known as much it would
only have made things more difficult for me. A remarkable man. And now,
on thinking it over, it must have been that I was well disposed to him
for that reason, for there could have been no other; for what concern of
mine is it that you Jews quarrel and would tear each other to pieces for
your various beliefs in God and his angels? So Jesus was your friend?
Tell me about him; I would know more about him than I could learn from a
brief interview with him in the Prætorium, where I took him and talked
to him alone. A brief account I pray you give me. And Joseph, who was
thinking all the while that the Sabbath was approaching, gave to Pilate
some brief account of Jesus in Galilee.

So you too, Joseph, are susceptible to this belief that the bodies of
men are raised out of the earth into heaven? I would ask you if the body
is ridded of its worms before it is carried away by angels. But I see
that you are pressed for time; the Sabbath approaches; I must not detain
you, and yet I would not let you go without telling you that it pleases
me to give his body for burial. A body deserves burial that has been
possessed by a lofty soul, for how many years, thirty? I would have
saved him if it had been possible to do so; but he gave me no chance;
his answers were brief and evasive; and he seemed to desire death;
seemingly he looked upon his death as necessary for the accomplishment
of his mission. Have I divined him right? Joseph answered that Pilate
read Jesus' soul truly, which flattered Pilate and persuaded him into
further complaint that if he had not saved Jesus it was because Jesus
would not answer him. He seemed to me like a man only conscious of his
own thoughts, Pilate said; even while speaking he seemed to rouse hardly
at all out of his dream, a delirious dream, if I may so speak, of the
world redeemed from the powers of evil and given over to the love of
God. This, however, he did say: that any power which I might have over
him came to me from above, from his Father which is in heaven, else I
could do nothing; and there was bitterness in his voice as he spoke
these words, which seemed to suggest that he was of opinion that his
Father had gone a little too far in allowing the Jews to send him to me
to condemn to death.

His Father in heaven and himself are one, and yet they differ in this.
So he was your friend, Joseph? If I had known it there would have been
an additional reason for my trying to save him from the hatred of the
Jews; for I hate the Jews, and would willingly leave them to-morrow. But
they cried out: you are not Cæsar's friend; this man would set up a new
kingdom and overthrow the Romans; and, as I have already told you,
Joseph, I asked Jesus if he claimed to be King of the Jews, but he
answered me: you have said it, adding, however, that his kingdom was not
of this world. Evasive answers of that kind are worthless when a mob is
surging round the Prætorium. A hateful crowd they looked to me; a cruel,
rapacious, vindictive crowd, with nothing in their minds but hatred. I
suspect they hated him for religious reasons. You Jews are--forgive me,
Joseph, you are an exception among your people--a bitter, intolerant
race. You would not allow me to bring the Roman eagles to Jerusalem, for
you cannot look upon graven things. All the arts you have abolished, and
your love of God resolves itself into hatred of men; so it seems to me.
It would have pleased me very well indeed to have thwarted the Jews in
their desire for this man's life, but I was threatened by a revolt, and
the soldiers at my command are but auxiliaries, and not in sufficient
numbers to quell a substantial riot. I will tell you more: if the legion
that I was promised had arrived from Cæsarea the lust of the Jews for
the blood of those that disagree with them would not have been
satisfied. I went so far as to send messengers to inquire for the
legion. But the man is dead now, and further talking will not raise him
into life again. You have come to ask me for his body, and you would
bury it in your own tomb. It is like you, Joseph, to wish to honour your
dead friend. Methinks you are more Roman than Jew. Say not so in the
hearing of my countrymen, Joseph replied, or I may meet my death for
your good opinion.

The Sabbath is now approaching, and you'll forgive me if I indulge in no
further words of thanks, Pilate. I may not delay, lest the hour should
come upon me after which no work can be done. Not that I hold with such
strict observances. A good work done upon the Sabbath must be viewed
more favourably by God than a bad work done on another day of the week.
But I would not have it said that I violated the Sabbath to bury Jesus.
As you will, my good Joseph, Pilate said, and stood looking after Joseph
and the centurion, who, as they drew near to the gate of the city,
remembered that a sheet would be wanted to wrap the body in. Joseph
answered the centurion that there was no time for delay, but the
centurion replied: in yon shop sheets are sold. Moreover, you will want
a lantern, Sir, for the lifting of the body from the cross will take
some time, and the carrying of it to the tomb will be a slow journey for
you though you get help, and the day will be gone when you arrive. You
had better buy a lantern, Sir. Joseph did as he was bidden, and they
hurried on to Golgotha.

Nothing has been done in my absence? the centurion asked the soldiers,
who answered: nothing, Sir; and none has been here but these women, whom
we did not drive away, but told that you were gone with one Joseph of
Arimathea to get an order from Pilate for the body. That was well, the
centurion answered. And now do you loose the cords that bind the hands,
and get the dead man down. Which was easy to accomplish, the feet of the
crucified being no more than a few inches from the ground; and while
this was being done Joseph told the centurion that the women were the
sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead; a story that
set the Roman soldiers laughing. Can a man be raised from the dead? they
asked; and if this man could do such a thing how is it that he did not
raise himself out of death into life? To which neither Joseph nor the
two women made any answer, but stood, their eyes fixed on their
thoughts, asking themselves how they were to carry Jesus to the
sepulchre, distant about a mile and a half. And it not seeming to them
that they could carry the body, the centurion offered Joseph the help of
one of his soldiers, which they would have accepted, but at that moment
an ox-cart was perceived hastening home in the dusk. Joseph, going after
the carrier, offered him money if he would bring the body of one of the
crucified to the sepulchre in Mount Scropas for him. To which the
carrier consented, though he was not certain that the job might not
prevent him from getting home before the Sabbath began. But he would see
what could be done.

Jesus was laid on the ox-cart, and Mary, Martha and Joseph following it
reached Mount Scropas, in which was the tomb, before sunset. As I told
thee with half-an-hour for thee to get home before the Sabbath, Joseph
said to the carrier, his eyes fixed on the descending sun. Now take this
man by the feet and I'll take him by the head. But will you not light
the lantern, Sir? the carrier said; for though there be light on the
hillside, it will be night in the tomb, and we shall be jostling our
heads against the stone and perhaps falling over the dead man.... I have
steel and tinder. Wherefrom the lantern was lit and given to Martha, who
lighted them into the tomb, Joseph and the carrier bearing the body,
with Mary following.

Jesus was laid on the couch beneath the arch, and when Mary and Martha
had drawn the sheet over his face Joseph turned to the women, saying:
now do you go hence to Bethany and prepare spices and cloths for the
embalmment, and come hither with them in the early morning the day after
the Sabbath. The carrier, who was standing by waiting for his wage,
received it thankfully. Now, Master, if you want another shoulder to
help with that sealing stone, I can give it you. But Joseph, looking at
the stone, said it would offer no trouble to him, for he believed in his
strength to do it, though the carrier said: it looks as if two men, or
more like three, would be needed. But it is as you like, Master. On this
he went to his oxen, thinking of the Sabbath, and whether Joseph had
forgotten how near it was to them. He hasn't blown out his lantern yet.
My word, he be going back into the tomb, the carrier said; maybe he's
forgotten something, or maybe to have a last look at his friend. He
talks like one in a dream, or one that hadn't half recovered his wits.

And it was just in the mood which the carrier divined that Joseph
entered the tomb: life had been coming and going like a dream ever since
he met the masons; and asking himself if he were truly awake and in his
seven senses, he returned to bid Jesus a last farewell, though he would
not have been astonished if he sought him in vain through the darkness
filled with the dust of freshly cut stones and the smell thereof. But
Jesus was where they had laid him; and Joseph sate himself by the dead
Master's side, so that he might meditate and come to see better into the
meanings of things, for all meaning seemed to have gone out of life for
him since he had come up from Jericho. The flickering shadows and lights
distracted his meditation, and set him thinking of the masons and their
pride in their work; he looked round the sepulchre and perceived it to
be a small chamber with a couch at the farther end.... Martha and Mary
have gone, he said to himself, and he remembered he had bidden them go
hence to prepare spices, and to return after the Sabbath. Which they
will do as soon as the Sabbath is over, he repeated to himself, as if to
convince himself that he was not dreaming.... God did not save him in
the end as he expected he would, he continued: he'd have done better to
have given Pilate answers whereby Pilate would have been able to save
him from the cross. Pilate was anxious to save him, but, as Nicodemus
said, Jesus had come to think that it had been decreed in heaven that
his blood must be spilt, so that he might rise again, as it were, out of
his own blood, to return in a chariot with his Father in three days....
But will he return to inhabit again this beautiful mould? Joseph asked,
and striving against the doubt that the sight of the dead put into his
mind, he left the tomb with the intention of rolling the stone into the
door. Better not to see him than to doubt him, he said. But who will, he
asked himself, roll away the stone for Martha and Mary when they come
with spices and fine linen for the embalming? His mind was divided
whether he should close the tomb and go his way, or watch through the
Sabbath, and while seeking to come upon a resolve he was overcome by
desire to see his dead friend once more, and he entered the tomb,
holding high the lantern so that he might better see him. But as he
approached the couch on which the body lay he stopped, and the colour
went out of his face; he trembled all over; for the sheet with which
Martha and Mary covered over the face had fallen away, and a long tress
of hair had dropped across the cheek. He must have moved, or angels must
have moved him, and, uncertain whether Jesus was alive or dead, Joseph
remembered Lazarus, and stood watching, cold and frightened, waiting for
some movement.

He is not dead, he is not dead, he cried, and his joy died, for on the
instant Jesus passed again into the darkness of swoon. Joseph had no
water to bathe his forehead with, nor even a drop to wet his lips with.
There is none nearer than my house, he said. I shall have to carry him
thither. But if a wayfarer meets us the news that a man newly risen from
the tomb was seen on the hillside with another will soon reach
Jerusalem; and the Pharisees will send soldiers.... The tomb will be
violated; the houses in the neighbourhood will be searched. Why then did
he awaken only to be taken again? Jesus lay as still as the dead, and
hope came again to Joseph. On a Sabbath evening, he said, I shall be
able to carry him to my house secretly. The distance is about
half-a-mile. But to carry a swooning man half-a-mile up a crooked and
steep path among rocks will take all my strength.

He took cognisance of his thews and sinews, and feeling them to be
strong and like iron, he said: I can do it, and fell to thinking of his
servants loitering in the passages, talking as they ascended the stairs,
stopping half-way and talking again, and getting to bed slowly, more
slowly than ever on this night, the night of all others that he wished
them sound asleep in their beds. Half-a-mile up a zigzagging path I
shall have to carry him; he may die in my arms; and he entertained the
thought for a moment that he might go for his servants, who would bring
with them oil and wine; but dismissing the thought as unwise, he left
the tomb to see if the darkness were thick enough to shelter himself and
his burden.

But Jesus might pass away in his swoon. If he had some water to give
him. But he had none, and he sat by the couch waiting for Jesus to open
his eyes. At last he opened them.

The twilight had vanished and the stars were coming out, and Joseph said
to himself: there will be no moon, only a soft starlight, and he stood
gazing at the desert showing through a great tide of blue shadow, the
shape of the hills emerging, like the hulls of great ships afloat in a
shadowy sea. A dark, close, dusty night, he said, and moonless, deserted
by every man and woman; a Sabbath night. On none other would it be
possible. But thinking that some hours would have to pass before he
dared to enter his gates with Jesus on his shoulder, he seated himself
on the great stone. Though Jesus were to die for lack of succour he must
wait till his servants were in bed asleep. And then? The stone on which
he was sitting must be rolled into the entrance of the tomb before
leaving. He had told the carrier that he would have no trouble with it,
and to discover that he had not boasted he slid down the rock, and,
putting his shoulder to it, found he could move it, for the ground was
aslant, and if he were to remove some rubble the stone would itself roll
into the entrance of the tomb. But he hadn't known this when he refused
the carrier's help. Then why?... To pass away the time he fell to
thinking that he had refused the carrier's aid because of some thought
of which he wasn't very conscious at the time; that he had been
appointed watcher, and that his watch extended through the night, and
through the next day and night, until Mary and Martha came with spices
and linen cloths.

The cycle of his thoughts was brought to a close and with a sudden jerk
by some memory of his maybe dying friend; and in his grief he found no
better solace than to gaze at the stars, now thickly sown in the sky,
and to attempt to decipher their conjunctions and oppositions, trying to
pick out a prophecy in heaven of what was happening on earth.

His star-gazing was interrupted suddenly by a bark. A jackal, he said.
Other jackals answered the first bark; the hillside seemed to be filled
with them; but, however numerous, he could scare them away; a wandering
hyena scenting a dead body would be more dangerous, for he was
weaponless. But it was seldom that one ventured into the environs of
the city; and he listened to the jackals, and they kept him awake till
something in the air told him the hour had come for him to go into the
tomb and carry Jesus out of it ... if he were not dead. He slid down
from the rock again, and no sooner did he reach the ground than he
remembered having left Galilee to keep his promise to his father; but,
despite his obedience to his father's will, had not escaped his fate. In
vain he avoided the Temple and refused to enter the house of Simon the
Leper.... If he were to take Jesus to his house and hide him he would
become a party to Jesus' crime, and were Jesus discovered in his house
the angry Pharisees would demand their death from Pilate. If he would
escape the doom of the cross he must roll the stone up into the entrance
of the sepulchre.... A dying man perceives no difference between a
sepulchre and a dwelling-house. He would be dead before morning; before
the Sabbath was done for certain; and Mary and Martha would begin the
embalmment on Sunday. He would be dead certainly on Sunday morning, and
dead men tell no tales, so they say. But do they say truly? The dead are
voiceless, but they speak, and are closer to us than the living; and for
ever the spectre of that man would be by him, making frightful every
hour of his life. Yet by closing up the sepulchre and leaving Jesus to
die in it he would be serving him better than by carrying him to his
house and bringing him back to life. To what life was he bringing him?
He could not be kept hidden for long; he could not remain in Jerusalem,
and whither Jesus went Joseph would follow, and his bond to his father
would be broken then in spirit as well as in fact. A cold sweat broke
out on his forehead and for a long time his mind seemed like a broken
thing and the pieces scattered; and as much exhausted as if he had
carried Jesus a mile on his shoulders, he stooped forward and entered
the tomb, without certain knowledge whether he was going to kiss Jesus
and close the tomb upon him or carry him to his house about a
half-an-hour distant.

As he drew the cere-cloths from the body, a vision of his house rose up
in his mind--a large two-storeyed house with a domed roof, situated on a
large vineyard on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives, screened
from the highway by hedges of carob, olive garths and cedars. And this
house seemed to Joseph as if designed by Providence for the concealment
of Jesus. The only way, he muttered, will be to lift him upon my
shoulders, getting the weight as far as I can from off my arms. If he
could walk a little supported on my arm. He questioned Jesus, but Jesus
could not answer him; and there seemed to be no other way but to carry
him in his arms out of the tomb, place him on the rock, and from thence
hoist him on to his shoulders.

Jesus was carried more easily than he thought for, as easily carried as
a child for the first hundred yards, nor did he weigh much heavier for
the next, but before three hundred yards were over Joseph began to look
round for a rock against which he might rest his burden.

One of the hardships of this journey was that howsoever he held Jesus he
seemed to cause him great pain, and he guessed by the feel that the body
was wounded in many places; but the stars did not show sufficient light
for him to see where not to grasp it, and he sat in the pathway,
resting Jesus across his knees, thinking of a large rock within sight of
his own gates and how he would lean Jesus against it, if he managed to
carry him so far. He stopped at sight of something, something seemed to
slink through the pale, diffused shadows in and out of the rocks up the
hillside, and Joseph thought of a midnight wolf. The wolves did not
venture as near the city, but--Whatever Joseph saw with his eyes, or
fancied he saw, did not appear again, and he picked up his load,
thinking of the hopeless struggle it would be between him and a grey
wolf burdened as he was. He could not do else than leave Jesus to be
eaten, and his fear of wolf and hyena so exhausted him that he nearly
toppled at the next halt. A fall would be fatal to Jesus, and Joseph
asked himself how he would lift Jesus on to his shoulder again. He did
not think that he could manage it, but he did, and staggered to the
gates; but no sooner had he laid his burden down than he remembered that
he could not ascend the stairs without noise. The gardener's cottage is
empty; I will carry him thither. The very place, Joseph said, as he
paused for breath by the gate-post. I must send away the two
men-servants, he continued, one to Galilee and the other to Jericho. The
truth cannot be kept from Esora. I need her help: I can depend upon her
to cure Jesus of his wounds and keep the young girl in the house,
forbidding her the garden while Jesus is in the cottage. The danger of
dismissal would be too great, she would carry the story or part of it to
Jerusalem, it would spread like oil, and in a few days, in a few weeks
certainly, the Pharisees would be sending their agents to search the
house. With Jesus hoisted on to his shoulder he followed the path
through the trees round the shelving lawn and crossed the terrace at the
bottom of the garden. He had then to follow a twisting path through a
little wood, and he feared to bump Jesus against the trees. The path led
down into a dell, and he could hardly bear up so steep was the ascent;
his breath and strength were gone when he came to the cottage door.

Fortune seems to be with us, he said, as he carried Jesus through the
doorway, but he must have a bed, and fortune is still with us, they
haven't removed the bed; and as soon as Jesus was laid upon it he began
to remember many things. He must go to the house and get a lamp, and in
the house he remembered that he must bring some wine and some water. He
noticed that his hand and his sleeve were stained with blood. He must
have been badly scourged, he said, and continued his search for bottles,
and after mixing wine and water he returned to the gardener's cottage,
hoping that casual ministrations would relieve Jesus of some of the pain
he was suffering till Esora would come with her more serious remedies in
the morning.

He put the lamp on a chair on the opposite side of the bed and turned
Jesus over and began to pick out of the wounds the splinters of the rods
he had been beaten with, and after binding up the back with a linen
cloth he drew Jesus' head forward and managed to get him to swallow a
little wine and water. I can do no more, he said, and must leave him....
It will be better to lock the door; he must bide there till I hear Esora
on the stairs coming down from her room. She is always out of bed first,
and if luck is still with us she will rise early this morning.

He tried to check his thoughts, but they ran on till he remembered that
he must fetch the lantern forgotten among the rocks, and that he should
follow the twisting path up and down the hillside seemed more than he
could accomplish. Strength and will seemed to have departed from him;
yet he must go back to fetch the lantern. He had left it lighted, and
some curious person might be led by the light ... the open sepulchre
would attract his eye, and he might take up the light and discover the
tomb to be empty. It wasn't likely, but some such curious one might be
on the prowl. Now was the only safe time to fetch the lantern. He
daren't leave it.... At the first light Mary and Martha would be at the
sepulchre, and the finding of a lantern by the door of the empty
sepulchre would give rise to--

He passed through his gates, locking them after him, too weary to think
further what might and might not befall.



CHAP. XIX.


And when he returned with the lantern he had forgotten he threw himself
on his bed, remembering that he must not sleep, for to miss Esora as she
came downstairs would mean to leave Jesus in pain longer than he need be
left. But sleep closed his eyelids. Sleep! He did not know if he had
slept. The room was still quite dark, and Esora did not come down till
dawn; and, sitting up in his bed, he said: God saved him from death, or
raised him out of death, but he has not raised him yet into heaven. He
is in the gardener's cottage! If only Esora can cure him of his wounds,
he continued, he and I might live together in this garden happily.

He closed his eyes so that he might enjoy his dream of Jesus'
companionship, but fell into a deeper sleep, from which he was awakened
by the sound of footsteps on the stairs. It is Esora trying to descend
without awakening me, he said. But nobody was on the stairs, and he
stood listening on the landing, asking himself if Esora was at work so
early. And then it seemed to him that he could hear somebody in her
pantry.... To make sure he descended and found her before her table
brushing the clothes he had thrown off. You must have been in my room
and picked up my clothes without my hearing you, he said; it was not
till you were on the second flight of stairs that I awoke. I didn't know
that you rose so early, Esora. It is still dusk. And if I didn't,
Master, I don't know how the work would get done. But the Sabbath,
Joseph rejoined; and incontinently began to discuss the observances of
the Sabbath with her. But even on the Sabbath there is work to be done,
she answered; your clothes--a nice state you brought them home in, and
if they were not cleaned for you, you could not present yourself in the
synagogue to-day. But, Esora, Joseph answered faintly, I don't see why
you should be up and at work at this hour and that girl, Matred, still
asleep. Does she never help you in your work? Esora muttered something
that Joseph did not hear, and in answer to his question why she did not
rouse Matred from her bed she said that the young require more sleep
than the old; an answer that surprised Joseph, for he had never been
able to rid himself of his first impression of Esora. He remembered when
he was a child how he hated her long nose, her long yellow neck and her
doleful voice always crying out against somebody, her son, her
kitchen-maid, or Joseph himself. She used to turn him out of her kitchen
and larder and dairy, saying that his place was upstairs, and once
raised her hand to him; later she had complained to his father of his
thefts; for he brought his dogs with him and stole the larder key and
cut off pieces of meat for them, and very often dipped jars into the
pans of milk that were standing for cream. His father reproved him, and
from that day he hated Esora, casting names at her, and playing many
pranks upon her until the day he tipped a kettle of boiling water over
his foot while running to scald the wasps in their nest--one of the
apes was stung; it was to avenge the sting he was running, and no one
had known how to relieve his suffering; his father had gone away for the
doctor, but Esora, as soon as she heard what had happened, came with her
balsam, and it subdued the pain almost miraculously.

After his scalding Joseph brought all his troubles to her to be cured,
confiding to her care coughs, colds, and cut fingers; and, as she never
failed to relieve his pain, whatever it was, he began to look upon her
with respect and admiration. All the same something of his original
dislike remained. He disliked her while he admired her, and his
suspicion was that she loved him more for his father's sake than for his
own---- It was his father who sent her from Galilee to look after him.
There was no fault to find with her management, but he could not rid his
mind of the belief that she was a hard task-mistress, and often fell to
pitying the servants under her supervision, yet here she was up at five
while Matred lay drowsing. This testimony of her kind heart was
agreeable to him, for he had need of all her kindness and sympathy that
morning--only with her help could Jesus be cured of his wounds and the
story of his escape from the cross he kept a secret. He was in her
hands, and, confident of her loyalty to him, he told her that he had
left his door open because he wished to speak to her before the others
were out of bed.

She lifted her face till he saw her dim eyes, perhaps for the first
time: but ye haven't been in bed, and there be dust on thy garments, and
blood upon thy hands and sleeves. Yes, Esora, my cloak is full of dust,
and the blood on my sleeve is that of a man who lies wounded in the
gardener's cottage belike to death. But thou canst cure him and wilt
keep the secret of his burial if we have to bury him in the garden. It
may be that some day I'll tell thee his story, but think now only how
thou mayst relieve his suffering. Another time thou shalt hear
everything; but now, Esora, understand nobody must know that a man is in
the gardener's cottage. It is a matter of life and death for us. I am
here to serve you, Master, and it matters not to me what his story may
be; but tell how he is wounded; are the wounds the clean wounds of the
sword or the torn wounds of rods? If he have been scourged---- A cruel
scourging it must have been, Joseph answered. Now, before we go, Esora,
understand that I shall send the two men away, one to Galilee and one to
Jericho. Better both should go to Jericho, she said. I'd trust neither
in Jerusalem. Let them go straight from here as soon as the Sabbath is
over, the journey is shorter, and they'll be as well out of the way in
one country as in the other. Esora is wiser than I, Joseph thought, and
together they shall go to Jericho, and with an important message. But to
whom? Not to Gaddi, who might come up to Jerusalem to see me. I'll send
a letter to Hazael, the Essene, and after having delivered the message
they can remain at the caravanserai in Jericho. Some excuse that will
satisfy Gaddi must be discovered, Esora. I shall find one later. Both
the men are now in bed, but if for some reason one of them should come
down to the gardener's cottage! It isn't likely, Esora answered. Not
likely, Joseph replied; but we must guard against anything. If thou
knewest the risk! I'll lock the door of the passage leading to their
rooms, and I'll do it at once. Give me the keys. She handed him the
keys, and, having locked the men in, he returned, saying: the wounded
man, whom thou'lt cure, Esora, may be here for a month or more, and till
he leaves us thou must watch the girl and see she doesn't stray through
the garden. I can manage her, Esora answered. But now about the poor man
who is waiting for attendance in the gardener's cottage. What have ye
done for him, Master? I picked from his back the splinters I could see
by the light of the lamp, and gave him some wine and water, and laid him
on a linen cloth. The old woman muttered that the drawing of the cloth
from the wound would be very painful. I dare say it will, Joseph
returned, but I knew not what else to do, and it seemed to relieve him.
Can you help him, Esora? Yes, I can; and she began telling him of her
own famous balsam, the secret of which was imparted to her by her
mother, who had it from her mother; and her great-grandmother learnt it
from an Arabian. But knowledge of the balsam went back to the Queen of
Sheba, who brought the plant to King Solomon. Thou must have seen the
bush in the garden in Galilee. It throws a white flower, like the
acacia, and the juice when drawn passes through many colours, honey
colour and then green. The Egyptians use it for many sicknesses, and it
heals wounds magically. The sweet liquor pours from cuts in the
branches, and care must be taken not to wound them too sorely. This
plant fears the sword, for it heals sword wounds, so the cuts in the
tree are best made with a sharp flint or shell, these being holier than
steel. If thou hast missed the bush in Magdala, Master, thou must have
seen it in Jericho, for I brought some seeds from Galilee to Jericho and
planted them by the gardener's cottage. Esora, all that thou tellest me
about the balsam is marvellous. I could listen to thee for hours, and
thou'lt tell me about thy grandmother and the Arabian who taught her how
to gather the juice of the plant, but we must be thinking now of my
friend's agony. Hast any of thy balsam ready, or must thou go to Jericho
for the juice?--you draw the juice from the tree? No, Master, Esora
answered him, I have here in my press a jar of the balsam, and, going to
her press, she held the jar to Joseph, who saw a white, milky liquid,
and after smelling and liking its sweet smell he said: let us go at
once. But thou mustn't hurry me, Master; I'm collecting bandages of fine
linen and getting this kettle of water to boil; for this I learnt from a
man who learnt it from the best surgeons in Rome: that freshly boiled
water holds no more the humours that make wounds fructify, and if boiled
long enough the humours fall to the bottom. I strain them off, and let
the water cool. Thou mustn't hurry me; what I do, I do well, and at my
own pace; and I'll not touch a wound with unclean things. Now I'll get
some oil. Some hold Denbalassa is best mixed with oil, but I pour oil
upon the balm after I have laid it on the wound, and by this means it
will stick less when it is removed. But is thy friend a patient man?
Wounds from scourging heal slowly; the flesh is bruised and many humours
must come away; wounds from rods are not like the clean cut of a sword,
which will heal under the balm when the edges have been brought together
carefully, so that no man can find the place. This balm will cure all
kinds of coughs, and will disperse bile as many a time I have found.
Some will wash a wound with wine and water, but I hold it heats the
blood about the wound and so increases the making of fresh humours. Now,
Master, take up the pot of water and see that ye hold it steady. I'll
carry the basket containing the oil and the balm.... It was the Queen of
Sheba who first made the balm known, because she gave it to Solomon. But
we must keep the flies from him; and while I'm getting these things go
to him and take with thee a fine linen cloth; thou'lt find some pieces
in that cupboard, and a hammer and some nails. I'm thinking there are
few flies in the gardener's cottage, half of it being underground; but
hasten and nail up the linen cloth over the window, for the first sun
ray will awaken any that are in the cottage, and, if there aren't any,
flies will come streaming in from the garden as soon as the light comes,
following the scent of blood. No, not there, a little to the right, he
heard her crying, and, finding a piece of linen and a hammer and some
nails, he went out into the greyness still undisturbed by the chirrup of
a half-awakened bird.

On either side of the shelving lawn or interspace were woods, the
remains of an ancient forest that had once covered this hillside; paths
wound sinuously through the woods, and, taking the one he had followed
overnight, he passed under sycamore boughs, through some woodland to the
terrace that he had crossed last night with a naked man on his
shoulders. And he remembered how hard it had been to keep to the path
overnight, and how fortunate it was that the gardener's cottage was not
locked, for if he had had to lay Jesus down he would never have been
able to lift him up again on to his shoulder. He had done all he could
to relieve his suffering. But Jesus, he said to himself, is lying in
agony, and if he has regained consciousness he may believe himself
buried alive. I must hasten. Yet when he arrived at the cottage he did
not enter it at once, but stood outside listening to the moans of the
wounded man within, which were good to hear in this much that they were
an assurance that he was still alive. At last he pushed the door open
and found Jesus moving his head from side to side, unable to rid himself
of a fly that was crawling about his mouth. Joseph drove it away and
gave Jesus some more weak wine and water, which seemed to soothe him,
and feeling he could do no more he sat down by the bedside to wait for
Esora. A few minutes after he heard her steps and she came into the
cottage with balsam and bandages in a basket, divining before any
examination Jesus' state. He is in a bad way; you've given him wine and
water, but he'll need something stronger, and, taking a bottle from her
basket, she lifted Jesus' head so that he might drink from it. It will
help him to bear the pain of the dressing, she said. Now, Master, will
you roll him over on to his side, so that I may see his back. The pain,
she said, looking up, when we remove this cloth on which you have laid
him will almost kill him, but we must get it off. The water with which
I'll cleanse the wound, you'll find it in that basket: it is cool enough
now to use. Take him by the wrists and pull him forward, keeping him in
a sitting position. Which Joseph did, Esora washing his back the while
and removing the splinters that Joseph missed overnight. And, taking
pleasure in her ministrations, she steeped a piece of linen in the balm,
and over the medicated linen laid a linen pad, rolling a bandage round
the chest; and the skill with which she wound it surprised Joseph and
persuaded him that the worst was over and there was no cause for further
fear, a confidence Esora did not share. He'll rest easier, she said, and
will suffer no pain at the next dressing; for the oil will prevent the
balm from sticking. We can roll him on his back now, and without asking
any question she dressed his hands and feet.

Joseph thanked her inwardly for her reticence, and he nailed up the fine
linen cloth before the window, saying: now he is secure from the flies.
But one or two have got in already, Esora answered, and one or two will
trouble the sick man as much as a hundred. We can't leave him alone;
one of us must watch by his side; for he is still delirious and knows
not yet what has befallen him nor where he is. If he were to return to
clear reason and find the door locked he might lose his reason for good
and all, and if we left the door open he might run out into the garden.
It isn't safe to leave him.

And perceiving all she said to be sound sense, Joseph took counsel with
her, and his resolve was that the two men-servants should remain in
their house till the sunset That I should send them away to Jericho on
my own horses will surprise them, he said to himself, but that can't be
altered. A long, weary day lies before us, Esora, and we shall have to
take it in turns, and neither can be away for more than two hours at a
time from the house. Matred will be asking for instructions whether she
is to feed the poultry or to kill a chicken. Though it be the Sabbath,
she'll find reasons to be about because we would have her indoors. And
when I'm watching by the sick man, Esora returned, she'll be asking:
where, Master, is Esora? Thou'lt have to invent excuses. We've forgotten
the servants, Esora. Give me the key. I must run with it and unlock the
door of the passage. Do you wait here till I return.

He hoped to find his servants asleep, and his hopes were fulfilled; and
after rousing them with vigorous reproof for their laziness, he
descended the stairs, thinking of the letter he would devise for them to
carry to Jericho. These men, Sarea and Asiel, were his peril. Once they
were away on their journey to Jericho he would feel easier. But all
these hours I shall suffer, he said. But, Master, they know the cottage
to be empty. One never can think, my good Esora, whither idle men will
be wandering, and the risk is great. Having gone so far we must have
courage, Esora answered. Now give me the key, and I'll lock myself in
with him; we'll take it in turns, and the day will not be as long
passing as you think for. It is now six o'clock, he answered: twelve
hours will have to pass away before the men start for Jericho. And then
the night will be before us, replied Esora. I hadn't thought of the
night, Joseph answered, and she reminded him that it might be days
before his friend, who had been scourged, could recover sufficiently for
him to leave. For he won't always remain here, she added. No! no! Joseph
replied, and gave her the key of the cottage, and returned to the house
to tell Sarea and Asiel that he hoped they would remain indoors during
the Sabbath, for he wished them to start for Jericho as soon as the
Sabbath was over. They shall ride my horses, he said to himself, and
bear letters that will detain them in Jericho for some weeks, and if
Jesus be not well enough to leave me, another letter will delay their
return. It can be so arranged, with a little luck on our side!

The lantern suddenly flashed into his mind. He had left it on the table
in his room and Esora would see it. But why shouldn't she see the
lantern? The centurion and the carrier and Martha and Mary all knew that
he had brought from Jerusalem a sheet in which to wrap the body of
Jesus, and a lantern to light their way into the tomb. It would be in
agreement with what he had already said to tell that he brought the
lantern back with him, nor would it have mattered if he had not returned
to the tomb to fetch the lantern. The lantern would not cast any
suspicion upon him. But he had done well to refrain from closing the
sepulchre with the stone, for the story of the resurrection would rise
out of the empty tomb, and though there were many among the Jews who
would not believe the story, few would have the courage to inquire into
the truth of a miracle.

A faint smile gathered on his lips, and he began to wonder what the
expression would be on the faces of Martha and Mary when they came to
him on the morrow with the news that Jesus had risen from the dead.



CHAP. XX.


He said to himself that they would start at dawn, and getting to the
sepulchre soon after three, and finding it empty, would come running to
him, and, so that himself might open the gate to them, he ordered his
watch (it should have ended by midnight) to continue till four o'clock.
And, sitting by the sick man's side, he listened expectant for the hush
that comes at the end of night. At last it fell upon his ear. The women
are on their way to the sepulchre, he said, and in about an hour and a
half I'll hear the bell clang. But the bell clanged sooner than he
thought for; and so impatient was he to see them that he did not
remember to draw his cloak about him as if he were only half dressed (a
necessary thing to do if he were to deceive them) till he was in the
middle of the garden. But feigning of disordered raiment was vanity, for
the women were too troubled to notice that he had not kept them waiting
long enough to testify of any sudden rousing from his bed, and began to
cry aloud as he approached: he has risen, he has risen from the dead as
he promised us. Joseph came towards them yawning, as if his sleep were
not yet dispersed sufficiently for him to comprehend them; and he let
them through the gate, inviting them into his house; but they cried:
he's risen from the dead. The sepulchre is empty, Mary cried,
anticipating her sister's words, and we have come to you for counsel.
Are we to tell what we have seen? Seen! said Joseph. Forthwith both
began to babble about a young man in a white raiment. His counsel to
them was neither to spread the news nor to conceal it. Let the apostles,
he began--but Martha interrupted him, saying: they are all in hiding, in
great fear of the Pharisees, who have power over Pilate, and he will
condemn them all to the cross, so they say, if they do not escape at
once into Galilee. But since we can vouch that we found the stone rolled
away and a young man in white garments in the sepulchre, we are
uncertain that they may not take courage and delay their departure, for
they can no longer doubt the second coming of the Lord in his chariot of
fire by the side of his Father, the Judgment Book upon his lap. Those
that have already gone will return, Mary answered; and our testimony
will cause the wicked Pharisees to repent before it be too late. His
words were that his blood was the means whereby we might rise into
everlasting life.

Martha then broke in with much discourse, which Joseph interrupted with
a question: had the young man they saw in the tomb spoken to them? The
sisters were taken aback, and stood asking each other what he said,
Martha saying one thing and Mary another; and so bewildered were they
that Joseph bade them return to Bethany and relate to Lazarus, and any
others of their company they might meet, all they had seen and heard: if
you've heard anything, he added. Then thou believest Jesus to be risen
from the dead, they cried through the bars as he locked the gates. Yes,
I believe that Jesus lives. Will he return to us? Martha cried; and
Joseph as he crossed the garden heard Mary crying through the dusk:
shall we see him again? A fine story they'll relate, one which will not
grow smaller as it passes from mouth to mouth. Sooner or later it will
reach Pilate, and Pilate's first thought will be: the centurion told me
that Jesus died on the cross after three hours; and I believed him,
though it was outside of all reason to suppose the cross could kill a
man in three hours. But if the Pharisees should go to Pilate and say to
him: the rumour is about that Jesus has risen from the dead. Will you,
Pilate, cause a search to be made from house to house? Pilate would
answer that the law had been fulfilled, and that the testimony of his
centurion was sufficient; for he hated the Pharisees and would refuse
any other answer; but Pilate might send for him, Joseph; and Joseph fell
to wondering at the answers he would make to Pilate, and at the
duplicity of these, for he had never suspected himself of cunning. But
circumstances make the man, he said, and before Jesus passes out of my
keeping I shall have learnt to speak even as he did in double meanings.

He lay down to sleep, and when he rose it was time to go to help Esora
to change the bandages, and while they were busy unwinding them (it was
towards the end of the afternoon) they were interrupted suddenly in
their work by Matred's voice in the garden calling: Esora, where are
you? and, not getting an answer from Esora, she cried: Master! Master! A
moment after her voice came from a different part of the garden, and
Joseph said to Esora: she'll be knocking at the door in another minute;
she mustn't come hither. Go and meet her, Esora, and as soon as the
girl is safe come back to me. It shall be as thou sayest, Master; but
meanwhile hold the man forward; let him not fall back upon the pillow,
for it will stick there and my work will be undone. To which Joseph
obeyed, himself quaking lest the Pharisees had come in search of Jesus,
saying to himself: the Pharisees might be persuaded that Jesus is risen
from the dead, but the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection.
What answer shall I give to them?

At last he heard Esora's voice outside: fear nothing, Master, for
friends have come; one named Cleophas and another are here with a story
of a miracle, and, unable to rid myself of them without rudeness, I
asked them into the house, saying that you had business (meaning that we
must finish dressing this poor man's wounds), but as soon as your
business was finished you would go to meet them. You spoke as you should
have spoken, Joseph answered her, and went towards the house certain and
sure that they too came to tell Jesus' resurrection; and the moment he
entered it and saw his guests, their faces and demeanour told him that
he guessed rightly. Leaning towards them over the table familiarly, so
as to help them to narrate simply, he heard Cleophas, whom the friend
elected as spokesman, say they heard Martha and Mary telling they had
found the stone rolled away, and a young man in white raiment seated
where Jesus was overnight, and from him they had learnt that he whom
they sought was risen from the dead. So we said to one another: if he
sent an angel to tell these women of his resurrection he will not forget
us, for we loved him; and in hopes of getting news of him in the
country, and that we might better think of him, we agreed to walk
together to Emmaus; for when a man is sad he likes to be with another
one who may share his sadness, and Khuza and I have always loved the
same Jesus of Nazareth.

We walked sadly, without speech, indulging in recollections of Jesus,
and were half-way on our journey when a wayfarer approached us and asked
us the cause of our grief. We asked him in reply if he were the only one
in Jerusalem that had not heard speak of Jesus of Nazareth, a great
prophet before God and the people. Do you not know that our priests and
our rulers condemned him who we hoped would deliver Israel and to-day is
the third day since all that has befallen? Some women of our company
told us this morning that they had been to the sepulchre at daybreak and
found nobody, but had seen angels, who told them that he lived; and then
others of our company went to the sepulchre and they found that the
women spoke truthfully; the tomb was empty of all but the cere-cloths.
So did we tell the story to the wayfarer, who then asked us whither our
way was, and we told him to Emmaus, and that our hope was our Master
might send an angel to us with news of himself. It was with that hope
that we left the city. And your way, honoured Sir? and he answered me,
to Emmaus, and perceiving him as we walked thither to be a pious man,
and more learned than ourselves in the Scriptures, we begged him to
remain with us. He seemed averse, as if he had business farther on, but
myself and my friend here, Khuza, persuaded him to stay and sup with us,
so that we might tell our memories of him that was gone. But he seemed
to know all we related to him of Jesus, interrupting us often with: as
was foretold in the Scriptures, giving us chapter and verse; and
enlivened by a glass of good wine, he spoke to us of the fruit of the
vine which Jesus would drink with us in the Kingdom of his Father; and
he broke bread and shared it with us, as it was meet that the head of
the house should, and the gesture with which he broke it is one of our
memories of Jesus. We fell to dreaming ourselves back in Galilee, and
the intonations of Jesus' voice and the faces of the apostles were all
remembered by us. We don't know for how long we dreamed, but when our
eyes were opened to reality again we saw that our friend, who was
anxious to continue his journey, had risen and gone away without bidding
us good-bye, belike not wishing to disturb the current of our
recollections. Did we not feel something strange while he was with us?
my friend asked me, so to my friend here I put the question: did not our
hearts burn while he spoke to us on the road hither? and I cited
prophecies that were testimony that the Messiah must suffer before he
entered into glory. And Khuza answered: did you not recognise him,
Cleophas, by the way in which he broke bread? Now you speak of it, I
replied--

Our eyes that had not seen saw, and we knew that Jesus had been with us,
and hurried to Jerusalem to tell the apostles that we had seen him. But
their hearts are hard and narrow and dry, as Jesus himself well knew,
and as he said would be evinced at the striking of the hour, and when we
told Peter that Martha and Mary had been to the sepulchre and found the
stone rolled away he answered: I too have visited the sepulchre and saw
nothing. It was open, but I saw no young man sitting in white raiment,
nor did an angel greet me. John said: three days have now passed away
since he was put on the cross, and in three days he was to have returned
in a chariot of fire by the side of his Father and made a great Kingdom
of happiness and peace in this country. But he hasn't come; he has
deceived us and put our lives in jeopardy, for if the Pharisees find us
here they'll bring us before Pilate, who is a man without mercy, and
eleven more will hang on crosses.

Salome, mother of John and James, too, got in her word and railed
against Jesus for having brought them all from Galilee for naught. John
and James, he promised me, were to sit on either side of him in Kingdom
Come. Whereupon Peter said: thou liest, woman. I was to sit on his right
hand. And while these disciples disputed on Jesus' words Bartholomew
praised Judas, who had withdrawn as soon as Jesus began to talk of the
angels that would surround the chariot. Thomas reproved Bartholomew,
saying that Jesus never said that there would be angels; and they all
began to wrangle, asking each other how many angels would be required to
match a Roman legion. Nor were they sure that Jesus said he was God's
own son, and equal to God; at which many were scandalised and turned
away their faces; nor could they say that they had not desired to find a
god in him on account of the chairs. I'm not speaking of James and John.
And then the ugly twain turned upon us, saying that we--myself and
Khuza--were but disciples and could baptize with water, but not with the
holy breath, which was reserved for the apostles; nor with fire. At his
words the lightning flashed into the room, and John said: we are in the
midst of a great miracle--the baptism by fire of the apostles. And when
the storm ceased they were all mixed in a dispute about the imposition
of hands; of this right they were the inheritors, so they said, and all
were resolved to practise it as soon as they got back to Galilee, from
whence they had foolishly strayed, abandoning their boats and nets. On
the morrow they would return thither and pray that the Lord, who is the
only god of Israel, would forgive them and send them a great draught of
fish, which they hoped your father, Sir, would pay for at more than
ordinary price to recompense them for what they lost by following the
Master hither.

Joseph would have asked him if Nathaniel and Thomas and Bartholomew
denied Jesus as well as Peter and James and John: if there was not one
among the eleven that had faith that he might return. But prudence
restrained him from putting needless questions, for Cleophas was
loquacious, and he had only to listen to hear that Peter and James and
John were eager that it should be known that they no longer believed
Jesus to be the true Messiah that the Jews were waiting for. It is said,
Khuza interrupted, becoming suddenly talkative in his turn, it is said
that they are afraid lest the agents of the Pharisees should discover
them. Many left for Galilee on the Friday evening, and in three days the
fishers he brought hither will be letting down their nets again and the
publican Matthew will start on his round asking for the taxes. All will
be--

But, said Joseph, whose thoughts had gone back to the great draught of
fish which Peter and John hoped his father would pay for above the usual
price so that they might be recompensed for their journey to Jerusalem,
you did not come to me to pray me to write to my father that he may
punish the apostles for their lack of faith by refusing to buy their
fish? No, it wasn't for that we came hither, Khuza answered quickly, and
Cleophas looked at him, wondering if he would have the courage to put
into words the cause of their visit. We thought that because Pilate had
given the body of Jesus to you to lay in your sepulchre, and as you were
the last to see him, you might come into Jerusalem with us and declare
the miracle to the people. You see, Sir, Martha and Mary have testified
to the rolling back of the stone, and no more is needed than your word
for all to believe. Joseph looked in their faces for some moments,
unable to reply to them; and then, collecting his thoughts as he spoke,
he impressed upon Cleophas and Khuza that for him to go down to
Jerusalem and proclaim his belief in the resurrection would only anger
the Pharisees and give rise to further persecutions. It will be better,
he said, to let the truth leak out and convince men naturally, without
suspicion that we are attempting to deceive them with testimony which
their hearts are already hardened against. This answer, which showed a
knowledge of men that Joseph did not know he possessed, satisfied both
Cleophas and Khuza, and perceiving that they were detaining Joseph they
rose to go. On the way to the gate Joseph's words lighted up in their
minds: he said it would be not well for him to go down to Jerusalem and
proclaim his belief in the resurrection; therefore he believed in the
resurrection, and, unable to restrain his curiosity, Khuza besought him
to answer if Jesus ever said that it would be his corruptible body or a
spiritual body (a sort of spirit of sense) that would ascend. It could
not be the fleshy body which eats and drinks and passes soil and water,
for unless there be in heaven corners where one can loosen one's belt
the body would be gravely incommoded; and he began to argue, placing his
foot so that Joseph could not close the gate, saying that if the
corruptible body had not ascended into heaven it must be upon earth. But
where--

Joseph's cheek paled, and Cleophas, noticing the pallor and interpreting
it to mean Joseph's anger against his friend for his insistence in
putting questions which Joseph could not answer--for had he not rolled
up the stone of the sepulchre and sealed it and gone his way?--took his
friend by the arm and said: we must leave Joseph of Arimathea some time
to attend to his business. We are detaining him. Come, Khuza, we are
trespassing on his time. Joseph smiled in acquiescence; but Khuza, who
was still anxious to learn how many Roman soldiers equalled one angel,
hung on until Joseph's patience ran dry. At last Cleophas got him away,
and no sooner were their backs turned than Joseph forgot them completely
as if they had never been: for Esora had said that she hoped to be able
to get Jesus to swallow a little soup, and he hastened his steps,
anxious to know if she had succeeded.

I got him to swallow two or three spoonfuls, she said, and they seem to
have done him good. Dost think he seems to be resting easier? Yes; but
the fever hasn't left him. His brain is still clouded and feeble. This
is but the third day, she replied. Truthfully I can say that I've never
seen any man scourged like this one. It is more than the customary
scourging; the executioners must have gotten an extra fee. As she had
seen men crucified in Tiberias and Cæsarea, he asked her if it were
common for the crucified to live after being lifted from the cross.
Those that haven't been on the cross more than two days are brought back
frequently, but the third day ends them, so great are the pains in the
head and heart. But I knew one--and she began to relate the almost
miraculous recovery of a man who had been on the cross for nearly three
days, and had been brought back by strong remedies to live to a good old
age. But none die on the first day? Joseph said, and Esora answered that
she never heard of anyone that died so quickly; without, however, asking
Joseph if the man before them had been lifted down from the cross the
first, second or third day.

He expected her to ask him if Cleophas had come to warn him that
inquiries were on foot regarding the disappearance of the body of one of
the crucified, but she asked no questions, and he knew not whether she
refrained from discretion or because her interest in things was dying.
Not dying but dead, he said to himself as he scanned the years that her
face and figure manifested, and judged them to be eighty.

Now Esora, I'll go and lie down for a little while, and lest I should
oversleep myself I'll tell the girl to call me. But how shall I
recompense thee for this care, Esora? I am too old, Master, to hope for
anything but your pleasure, she answered, and when he returned she told
him that Jesus was fallen into another swoon, and they began talking of
the sick man. His mind wanders up and down Galilee, she said. And now
I'll leave you to him. I've that girl on my mind. And while Jesus slept,
Joseph pondered on the extraordinary adventure that he found himself on,
giving thanks to God for having chosen him as the humble instrument of
his will.



CHAP. XXI.


It was after she had persuaded him to take a little soup, which he did
with some show of appetite, that Esora began to think she might save
him: if his strength does not die away, she said. But will it? Joseph
inquired. Not if he continues to take food, she replied; and two hours
later she returned to the bedside to feed him again, and for a few
seconds he was roused from his lethargy; but it was not till the seventh
day that his eyes seemed to ask: who art thou, and who am I? And how
came I hither? Thou'rt Jesus of Nazareth, and I am Joseph of Arimathea,
whom thou knewest in Galilee, and it was I that brought thee hither, but
more than that I dare not tell lest too much story should fatigue thy
brain. I do not remember coming here. Where am I? Is this a holy place?
Was a prophet ever taken away to heaven from here? Afraid to perplex the
sick man, Joseph answered that he never heard that anything of the sort
had happened lately. But thou canst tell me, Jesus continued, why
thou'rt here? Thou'rt the rich man's son. Ah, yes, and my sorrow for
some wrong done to thee brought thee hither. His eyelids fell over his
eyes, and a few minutes afterwards he opened them, and after looking at
Joseph repeated: my sorrow brought thee here; and still in doubt as to
what answer he should make, Joseph asked him if he were glad he was by
him. Very glad, he said, and strove to take Joseph's hand. But my hand
pains me, and the other hand likewise; my feet too; my forehead; my
back; I am all pain. Thou must have patience, Esora broke in, and the
pain will pass away. Who is that woman? A leper, or one suffering from a
flux of blood? Tell her I cannot impose my hands and cast out the wicked
demon that afflicts her. He mustn't be allowed to talk, Esora said; he
must rest. And on these words he seemed to sink into a lethargy. Has he
fallen asleep again? It is sleep or lethargy, she answered, and they
went to the door of the cottage, and, leaning against the lintels, stood
balancing the chances of the sick man's recovery.

We can do no more, she said, than we are doing. We must put our trust in
my balsam and give him food as often as he'll take it from us. Which
they did day after day, relieving each other's watches, and standing
over Jesus' bed conferring together, wondering if he cared to live or
would prefer that they suffered him to die....

For many days he lay like a piece of wreckage, and it was not till the
seventh day that he seemed to rouse a little out of his lethargy, or his
indifference--they knew not which it was. In answer to Esora he said he
felt easier, and would be glad if they would wheel his bed nearer to the
door. Outside is the garden, he whispered, for I see boughs waving, and
can hear the bees. Wilt thou let me go into the garden? As soon as I've
removed the dressing thou shalt have a look into the garden, Esora
replied, and she called upon Joseph to pull Jesus forward. All this, she
said, was raw flesh a week ago, and now the scab is coming away nicely;
you see the new skin my balsam is bringing up. His feet, too, are
healing, Joseph observed, and look as if he will be able to stand upon
them in another few days. Wounds do not heal as quickly as that, Master.
Thou must have patience. But he'll be wanting a pair of crutches very
soon. We might send to Jerusalem for a pair. There is no need to send to
Jerusalem, he answered. I think I'd like to make him a pair. Anybody can
make a pair of crutches, however poor a carpenter he may be; and every
evening as soon as his watch was over he repaired to the wood-shed. They
won't be much to look at, Esora reflected, but that won't matter, if he
gets them the right length, and strong.

Come and see them, he said to her one evening, and when she had admired
his handiwork sufficiently he said: tell me, Esora, is a man's mind the
same after scourging and crucifixion as it was before? Esora shook her
head. I suppose not, Joseph continued, for our minds draw their lives
from our bodies. He'll be a different man if he comes up from his
sickness. But he may live to be as old as I am, or the patriarchs, she
returned. With a different mind, he added. So I've lost him in life whom
I saved from death.

Esora did not ask any questions, and fearing that her master might tell
her things he might afterwards regret having said, she remarked that
Jesus would be needing the crutches in about another week.

And it was in or about that time, not finding Jesus in the cottage, they
came down the pathway in great alarm, to be brought to a sudden stop by
the sight of Jesus sitting under the cedars. How did he get there? Esora
cried, for the crutches were in the wood-shed. They were, Esora, but I
took them down to the cottage last night, and seeing them, and finding
they fitted him, he has hobbled to the terrace. But he mustn't hobble
about where he pleases, Esora said. He is a sick man and in our charge,
and if he doesn't obey us he may fall back again into sickness. The
bones have not properly set---- We don't know that any bones were
broken, do we, Esora? We don't; for the nails may have pierced the feet
and hands without breaking any. But, Master, look! Didst ever see such
imprudence? Go! drive away my cat, or else my work will be undone.

Her cat, large, strong and supple as a tiger, had advanced from the
opposite wood, and, unmindful of a bitch and her puppies, seated himself
in the middle of the terrace. As he sat tidying his coat the puppies
conceived the foolish idea of a gambol with him. The cat continued to
lick himself, though no doubt fully aware of the puppies' intention, and
it was not till they were almost on him that he rose, hackle erect, to
meet the onset in which they would have been torn badly if Jesus had not
hopped hastily forward and menaced him with his crutches. Even then the
puppies, unmindful of the danger, continued to dance round the cat. You
little fools, he will have your eyes, Jesus cried, and he caught them up
in his arms, but unable to manage them and his crutches together, he
dropped the crutches and started to get back to his seat without them.

It was this last imprudence that compelled Esora to cry out to Joseph
that her work would be undone if Joseph did not run at once to Jesus and
give him his crutches: now, Master, I hope ye told him he must leave
cats and dogs alone, she said as soon as Joseph returned to her. If he
doesn't we shall have him on our hands all the winter. All the winter!
Joseph repeated. It is for thee to say, Master, how long he is to stay
here; three weeks, till he is fit to travel, or all the winter, it is
for you to say. Fit to travel, Joseph repeated. Why should he leave when
he is fit to travel? he asked. Only, Master, because it will be hard to
keep him in hiding much longer. Secrets take a long time to leak out,
but they leak out in the end. But I may be wrong, Master, in thinking
that there is a secret. I hardly know anything about this man, only that
thou broughtest him back one night. So thou'rt not certain then that
there is a secret, Esora? Joseph said. I won't say that, Master, for I
can see by his back that he has been scourged, and cruelly, she
answered. His hands and feet testify that he has been on the cross.
Therefore, Joseph interposed, thou judgest him to be a malefactor of
some sort. Master, I would judge no one. He is what thou choosest to
tell me he is. Come then, Esora, Joseph replied, and I will tell thee
his story and mine, for our stories have been strangely interwoven. But
the telling will take some time. Come, let us sit in the shade of the
acacia-trees yonder; there is a seat there, and we shall be in view of
our sick man, ready to attend upon him should he require our attention.

She sat listening, immovable, like a figure of stone, her hands hanging
over her knees. And when he told how Jesus opened his eyes in the tomb,
and how he carried him through the rocks, seeking perhaps to astonish
her a little by his account of the darkness, and the wild beasts, he
said: now tell me, Esora, if I could have done else but bring him here
on my shoulders. True it is that Pilate believed he was giving me not a
live but a dead body; but Pilate wouldn't expect me to go to him with
the tidings that Jesus was not dead, and that he might have him back to
hoist on to a cross again. Pilate did not want to give him up for
crucifixion. He found no fault with him. Dost understand, Esora? I
understand very well, Master, that Pilate would think thee but a false
friend if you had acted differently. He would not have thanked thee if
thou hadst brought back this man to him. But, Esora, thy face wears a
puzzled look. One thing puzzles me, she answered, for I cannot think
what could have put it into his head that he was sent into the world to
suffer for others. For are we not all suffering for others?

The simplicity of her question took Joseph aback, and he replied: I
suppose thou'rt right in a way, Esora. Thou hast no doubt suffered for
thy parents; I have suffered for my father. I left Galilee to keep my
promise not to see Jesus; when I heard he was going to ride into
Jerusalem in triumph on an ass from Bethany I ran away to Jericho. Could
a man do more to keep his promise? But it was of no avail, for we may
not change in our little lives the fate we were branded with a thousand
years before we were born.

Thou'rt of one mind with me, Esora, that I couldn't have left him to die
in the sepulchre? Thou couldst not have done such a thing and remained
thyself; and it was God that gave you those fine broad shoulders for the
burden. I saw thee a baby, and thou hast grown into a fine image like
those they've put up to Cæsar in Tiberias; and then, as if abashed by
her familiarity, she began: Master, I wouldn't wish him to return to
Jerusalem, for they would put him on the cross again, but he had better
leave Judea. Art thou weary, Esora, of attendance on him? Joseph asked,
and the servant answered: have I ever shown, Master, that I found
attendance on him wearisome? He is so gentle and patient that it is a
pleasure to attend on him, and an honour, for one feels him to be a
great man. The highest I have met among men, Joseph interposed, and I
have searched diligently, wishing always to worship the best on earth.
He is that, and maybe there's no better in heaven; after God comes
Jesus.

It wouldn't be a woman then that thou wouldst choose to meet in heaven,
but a man? Men love women, Joseph said, for their corruptible bodies,
and women love men for theirs; but even the lecher would choose rather
to meet a man in heaven, and the wanton another woman. If we would
discover whom we love most, we can do so by asking ourselves whom we
would choose to meet in heaven. Heaven without Jesus would not be heaven
for me. But if he be not the Messiah after all? Esora asked. Should I
love him less? he answered her. None is as perfect as he. I have known
him long, Esora, and can say truly that none is worthy to be the carpet
under his feet.

I have never spoken like this before, but I am glad to have spoken, for
now thou understandest how much thou hast done for me. Thou and thy
balsam and thy ministration. My balsam, she answered, has done better
than I expected it would do. Thou sawest his back this morning. One can
call it cured. His hands and feet have mended and his strength is
returning. In a few days he will be fit to travel. This is the third
time, Esora, that thou hast said he'll be able to travel soon--yet thou
sayest he is so patient and gentle that it is a pleasure to attend on
him; and an honour. But, Master, the danger is great, and every day
augments the danger. Secrets, as I've said, take a long time to leak
out, but they leak out in time. Her words are wise, he thought to
himself, and he overlooked her, guessing her to have shrunken to less
than her original size; she seemed but a handful of bones and yellow
skin, but when she looked up in his face her eyes were alive, and from
under a small bony forehead they pleaded, and with quavering voice she
said: let him go, dear Master, for if the Pharisees seek him here and
find him, he will hang again on the cross. Thou wouldst have me tell
him, Esora, that rumours are about that he did not die on the cross and
that a search may be made for him. I wouldn't have thee speak to him of
Pilate or his crucifixion, Master, for we don't know that he'd care to
look back upon his troubles; he might prefer to forget them as far as he
is able to forget them. But thou canst speak to him of his health,
Master, which increases every day, and of the benefit a change would be
to him. Speak to him if thou wouldst of a sea voyage, but speak not of
anything directly for fear of perplexing him. Lead rather than direct,
for his mind must be a sort of maze at present. A great deal has
befallen, and nothing exactly as he expected. Nor would I have thee
speak to him of anything but actual things; speak of what is before his
eyes as much as possible; not a word about yesterday or of to-morrow,
only so far as his departure is concerned. Keep his thoughts on actual
things, Master: on his health, for he feels that, and on the dogs about
his feet, for he sees them; he takes an interest in them; let him speak
to thee of them, which will be better still, and in your talk about dogs
many things will happen. The hills about Cæsarea may be mentioned; see
that they are mentioned; ask him if they are like the hills above
Jericho. I cannot tell thee more, Master, but will pray that thou mayest
speak the right words.

A shrewd old thing, Joseph thought, as he went towards Jesus, looking
back once to see Esora disappearing into the wood. She'd have me keep
his thoughts on actual things, he continued, and seeing that Jesus had
called the puppies to him and was making himself their playmate, he
asked him if he were fond of dogs; whereupon Jesus began to praise the
bitch, saying she was of better breeding than her puppies, and that when
she came on heat again she should be sent to a pure Thracian like
herself. Joseph asked, not because he was interested in dog-breeding,
but to make talk, if the puppies were mongrels. Mongrels, Jesus
repeated, overlooking them; not altogether mongrels, three-quarter bred;
the dog that begot them was a mongrel, half Syrian, half Thracian. I've
seen worse dogs highly prized. Send the bitch to a dog of pure Thracian
stock and thou'lt get some puppies that will be the sort that I used to
seek.

Joseph waited, for he expected Jesus to speak of the Essenes and of the
time when he was their shepherd; but Jesus' thoughts seemed to have
wandered from dogs, and to bring them back to dogs again Joseph
interposed: thou wast then a shepherd? But Jesus did not seem to hear
him, and as he was about to repeat his question he remembered that Esora
told him to keep to the present time. We do not know, she said, that he
remembers, and if he has forgotten the effort to remember will fatigue
him, or it may be, she had added, that he wishes to keep his troubles
out of mind. A shrewd old thing, Joseph said to himself, and he sat by
Jesus considering how he might introduce the subject he had come to
speak to Jesus about, the necessity of his departure from Judea. But as
no natural or appropriate remark came into his mind to make, he sat like
one perplexed and frightened, not knowing how the silence that had
fallen would be broken. It is easy, he thought, for Esora to say, speak
only of present things, but it is hard to keep on speaking of things to
a man whose thoughts are always at ramble. But if I speak to him of his
health an occasion must occur to remind him that a change is desirable
after a long or a severe illness. It may have been that Joseph did not
set forth the subject adroitly; he made mention, however, of a
marvellous recovery, and as Jesus did not answer him he continued: Esora
thought that thou wouldst be able to get as far as the terrace in
another week, but thou'rt on the terrace to-day. Still Jesus did not
answer him, and feeling that nothing venture nothing win, he struck
boldly out into a sentence that change of air is the best medicine after
sickness. Jesus remaining still unresponsive, he added: sea air is
better than mountain air, and none as beneficial as the air that blows
about Cæsarea.

The word Cæsarea brought a change of expression into Jesus' face, and
Joseph, interpreting it to mean that Jesus was prejudiced against those
coasts, hastened to say that a sick man is often the best judge of the
air he needs. But, Joseph, I have none but thee, Jesus said; and the two
men sat looking into each other's eyes, Joseph thinking that if Jesus
were to recover his mind he would be outcast, as no man had ever been
before in the world: without a country, without kindred, without a
belief wherewith to cover himself; for nothing, Joseph said to himself
as he sat looking into Jesus' eyes, has happened as he thought it would;
and no man finds new thoughts and dreams whereby he may live. I did not
foresee this double nakedness, or else might have left him to die on the
cross. Will he, can he, forgive me? A moment afterwards he recovered
hope, for Jesus did not seem to know that the hills beyond the terrace
were the Judean hills, and then, as if forgetting the matter in hand
(his projected residence in Cæsarea), he began to speak of Bethlehem,
saying he could not think of Bethlehem without thinking of Nazareth, a
remark that was obscure to Joseph, who did not know Nazareth. It was to
make some answer--for Jesus seemed to be waiting for him to answer--that
Joseph said: Nazareth is far from Cæsarea, a remark that he soon
perceived to be unfortunate, for it awakened doubts in Jesus that he was
no longer welcome in Joseph's house. Why speakest thou of Cæsarea to me?
he said. Is it because thou wouldst rid thyself of me? Whereupon Joseph
besought Jesus to lay aside the thought that he, Joseph, wished him
away. I would have thee with me always, deeming it a great honour; but
Esora has charge of thy health and has asked me to say that a change is
needed.

My health, Jesus interrupted. Am I not getting my strength quickly? do
not send me away, Joseph, for I am weak in body and in mind; let me stay
with thee a little longer; a few days; a few weeks. If I go to Cæsarea I
must learn Greek, for that is the language spoken there, and thou'lt
teach me Greek, Joseph. Send me not away. But there is no thought of
sending thee away, Joseph answered; my house is thy house for as long as
thou carest to remain, and the words were spoken with such an accent of
truth that Jesus answered them with a look that went straight to
Joseph's heart; but while he rejoiced Jesus' mind seemed to float away:
he was absent from himself again, and Joseph had begun to think that all
that could be said that day had been said on the subject of his
departure from Judea, when a little memory began to be stirring in
Jesus, as Esora would say, like a wind in a field.

I remember thee, Joseph, as one to whom I did a great wrong, but what
that wrong was I have forgotten. Do not try to recall it, Joseph said to
him, no wrong was done, Jesus. Thou'rt the rich man's son, he said, and
what I remember concerning thee is thy horse, for he was handsomer than
any other. His name was Xerxes. Dost still ride him? Is he in the
stables of yon house? He was sold, Joseph answered, to pay for our
journey in Syria, and some of the price went to pay for thy cloak. The
cloak on my shoulders? Jesus asked. The cloak on thy shoulders is one of
my cloaks. Thou earnest here naked. I was carried here by an angel,
Jesus replied, for I felt the feathers of his wings brush across my
face. But why that strange look, Joseph?--those curious, inquisitive
eyes? It was an angel that carried me hither. No, Jesus, it was I that
carried thee out of the sepulchre up the crooked path. What is thy
purpose in saying that it was no angel but thou? Jesus asked; and
Joseph, remembering that he must not say anything that would vex Jesus,
regretted having contradicted him and tried to think how he might mend
his mistake with words that would soothe Jesus; but, as it often is on
such occasions, the more we seek for the right words the further we seem
to be from them, and Joseph did not know how he might plausibly unsay
his story that he had carried him without vexing Jesus still further: he
is sure an angel carried him, Joseph said: he felt the feathers of the
wings brush across his face, and he is now asking himself why I lied to
him.

As Joseph was thinking that it might be well to say that Bethlehem was
like Nazareth, he caught sight of Jesus' face as pale as ashes, more
like a dead face than a living, and fearing that he was about to swoon
again or die, Joseph called loudly for Esora, who came running down the
pathway.

Thou mustn't call for me so loudly, Master. If Matred had heard thee and
come running---- But, Esora, look. As likely as not it is no more than a
little faintness, she said. He has been overdoing it: running after
puppies, and talking with thee about Cæsarea. But it was thyself told me
to ask him to go to Cæsarea for change of air. Never mind, Master, what
I told thee. We must think now how we shall get him back to bed. Do thou
take one arm and I'll take the other.



CHAP. XXII.


Jesus did not speak about angels again, and one morning at the end of
the week before going away to Jerusalem to attend to some important
business Joseph, after a talk with Esora, turned down the alley with the
intention of asking Jesus to leave Judea. It would have been better, she
said to herself, if he had waited till evening; these things cannot be
settled off-hand; he'll only say the wrong thing again, and she stood
waiting at her kitchen door, hoping that Joseph would stop on his way
out to tell her Jesus' decision, but he went away without speaking, and
she began to think it unlikely that anything was decided. He is
soft-hearted and without much will of his own, she said.... Jesus is
going to stay with us, so we may all hang upon crosses yet, unless,
indeed, Master comes to hear something in Jerusalem that will bring him
round to my way of thinking. He believes, she continued, that Jesus is
forgotten because the apostles have returned to their fishing, but that
cannot be; the two young women that came here one Sunday morning with a
story about an empty sepulchre have found, I'll vouch, plenty of eager
gossips, and a smile floated round her old face at the additions she
heard to it yester morning at the gates. But no good would come of my
telling him, she meditated, for he'd only say it was my fancies, though
he has to acknowledge that I am always right when I speak out of what he
calls my fancies. In about three weeks, she muttered, the stories that
are going the round will begin to reach his ears.

The old woman's guess was a good one. It was about that time the
camel-drivers, assembled in the yard behind the counting-house, began to
tell that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and their stories, being
overheard by the clerk, were reported to Joseph. The Pharisees are angry
with Pilate for not having put a guard of soldiers over the tomb, the
clerk was saying, when Joseph interjected that a guard of soldiers would
be of no avail if God had wished to raise Jesus from the dead. The point
of their discourse, the clerk continued, is that no man but Jesus died
on the cross in three hours; three days, Sir, are mentioned as the usual
time. It is said that a man, Sir, often lingers on until the end of the
fourth day. Joseph remained, his thoughts suspended, and the clerk,
being a faithful servant, and anxious for Joseph's safety, asked if he
might speak a word of counsel, and reading on Joseph's face that he was
permitted to speak, he said: I would have you make an end of these
rumours, Sir, and this can be done if you will attend the next meeting
of the Sanhedrin and make plain your reason for having gone to Pilate to
ask him for the body. As it seemed to Joseph that his clerk had spoken
well, he attended the next meeting of the Council, but the business that
the councillors had come together for did not admit of interruption for
the sake of personal explanation, however interesting, and the hostility
of everybody to him was notable from the first. Only a few personal
friends spoke to him; among them was Nicodemus, who would not be
dismissed, but went away with him at the close of the meeting,
beseeching him not to cross the valley unarmed, and if thou wouldst not
draw attention to thyself by the purchase of arms, he said, I will give
thee the arms thou needest for thyself and will arm some camel-drivers
for thee. I thank thee, Nicodemus, but if I were to return home
accompanied by three or four armed camel-drivers I should draw the
attention of Jerusalem upon me, thereby quickening the anger of the
Pharisees, and my death would be resolved upon. But art thou sure that
the hirelings of the priests haven't been told to kill thee? Nicodemus
asked. Pilate's friendship for me is notorious, Joseph replied. I'm not
afraid, Nicodemus, and it is well for me that I'm not, for assassination
comes to the timorous. That is true, Nicodemus rejoined, our fears often
bring about our destiny, but thou shouldst avoid returning by the
valley; return by the eastern gate and on horseback. But that way,
Joseph answered, is a lonely and long one, and thinking it better to put
a bold face on the matter, though his heart was beating, he began to
speak scornfully of the Pharisees who, seemingly, would have consented
to a desecration of the Sabbath. He had done no more than any other Jew
who did not wish the Sabbath to be desecrated, and remembering suddenly
that Nicodemus would repeat everything he said, he spoke again of
Pilate's friendship, and the swift vengeance that would follow his
murder. Pilate is my friend, and whoever kills me makes sure of his own
death. I do not doubt that what thou sayest is true, Joseph, but Pilate
may be recalled, and it may suit the next Roman to let the priests have
their way. I am going to Egypt to-morrow, he said suddenly. To Egypt,
Joseph repeated, and memories awoke in him of the months he spent in
Alexandria, of the friends he left there, of the Greek that he had taken
so much trouble to perfect himself in, and the various philosophies
which he thought enlarged his mind, though he pinned his faith to none;
and reading in his face the pleasure given by the word Egypt, Nicodemus
pressed him to come with him: all those who are suspected of sympathy
with Jesus, he said, will do well to leave Judea for a year at least.
Alexandria, as thou knowest, having lived there, is friendly to
intellectual dispute. In Alexandria men live in a kingdom that belongs
neither to Cæsar nor to God. But all things belong to God, Joseph
replied. Yes, answered Nicodemus; but God sets no limits to the mind,
but priests do in the name of God. Remember Egypt, where thou'lt find
me, and glad to see thee....

On these words the men parted, and Joseph descended into the valley a
little puzzled, for the traditionalism of Nicodemus seemed to have
undergone a change. But more important than any change that may have
happened in Nicodemus' mind was the journey to Egypt, that he had
proposed to Joseph. Joseph would like to go to Egypt, taking Jesus with
him, and as he walked he beheld in imagination Jesus disputing in the
schools of philosophy, but if he were to go away to Egypt the promise to
his father would be broken fully. If his father were to fall ill he
might die before the tidings of his father's illness could reach him; a
year's residence in Egypt was, therefore, forbidden to him; on the top
of the Mount of Olives he stopped, so that he might remember that
Nicodemus' disposition was always to hear the clashing of swords; spears
are always glittering in his eyes for one reason or another, he said,
and though he would regret a friend's death, he would regard it as being
atoned for if the brawl were sufficiently violent. He has gone to Egypt,
no doubt, because it is pleasing to him to believe his life to be in
danger. He invents reasons. Pilate's recall! Now what put that into his
mind? He may be right, but this Mount of Olives is peaceful enough and
the road beyond leading to my house seems safe to the wayfarer even at
this hour. He followed the road in a quieter mood, and it befell that
Esora opened the gates to him, for which he thanked her abruptly and
turned away, wishing to be alone; but seeing how overcast was his face,
she did not return to her kitchen as she had intended, but remained with
him, anxious to learn if the rumours she knew to be current had reached
his ears. She would not be shaken off by silence, but followed him down
the alley leading to Jesus' cottage, answering silence by silence,
certain in this way to provoke him thereby into confidences. They had
not proceeded far into the wood before they came upon Jesus in front of
a heap of dead leaves that he had raked together. A great many had
fallen, he said, and the place was beginning to look untidy, so I
thought I would gather them for burning. Thou must not tire thyself,
Joseph answered, as he passed on with Esora, asking her as they went
through the autumn woods if Jesus found the rake for himself or if she
gave it to him. He asked me if he might be allowed to feed the chickens,
she said, and I would have let him if Matred's window did not overlook
the yard. Master, the hope of getting him out of Judea rests upon the
chance that he may recover his mind, and staring at the desert all day
won't help him. He musn't brood, and as there is no work like raking up
leaves to keep a man's thought off himself, unless, indeed, it be
digging, I thought I had better let him have the rake. But if Matred
should meet him? Joseph asked. She will see the new gardener in him,
that will be all. I told her last night, Esora continued, that we were
expecting the new gardener, and she said it would be pleasant to have a
man about the house again. But he musn't attempt any hard work like
digging yet awhile; he has done enough to-day; I'll go and tell him to
put away the rake and pass on to his supper. She waited for Joseph to
answer, but he was in no humour for speech, and she left him looking at
the hills.

A cloud lifts, and we are; another cloud descends, and we are not; so
much do we know, but we are without sufficient sight to discover the
reason behind all this shaping and reshaping, for like all else we
ourselves are changing as Heraclitus said many years ago.

And while thinking of this philosopher, whose wisdom he felt to be more
satisfying than any other, he paced back and forth, seeking a little
while longer to untie the knot that all men seek to untie, abandoning at
last, saying: fate tied it securely before the beginning of history, and
on these words he ran up the steps of his house, pausing on the
threshold to listen, for he could distinguish Esora's voice, and
Matred's; afterwards he heard Jesus' voice, and he said: Jesus eats with
my servants in the kitchen! This cannot be, and he very nearly obeyed
the impulse of the moment, which was to call Jesus and tell him to come
and eat his supper with him. To do this, however, would draw Matred's
attention to the fact that Jesus was not of her company but of her
master's, and distinctions between servants and master, he continued,
are not for him, who thinks in eternal terms.

He sat at table, his thoughts suspended, but awakening suddenly from a
reverie, of which he remembered nothing, he rose from his seat and went
to the kitchen door, regretting that he was not with Jesus, for to miss
his words, however slight they might be, seemed to him to be a loss that
could not be repaired. They are listening to him, he said, with the same
pleasure that I used to do, watching his eyes lighting his words on
their way.

At that moment a shuffling of feet sent him back to his seat again, and
he put food into his mouth just in time to escape suspicion of
eavesdropping. I thought, Master, that thy supper was finished, and that
I might take away the plates. I've hardly begun my supper, Esora. Your
voices in the kitchen prevented me from eating. We are sorry for that,
Master, she replied. Make no excuses, Esora. I said it was the voices in
the kitchen that disturbed me, but in truth it was my own thoughts, for
I have heard many things to-day in Jerusalem. Esora's face brightened
and she said to herself: my words to him are coming true. Sit here,
Esora, and I'll tell thee what I've heard to-day. And while Matred
listened to Jesus in the kitchen Esora heard from Joseph that the
camel-drivers had been talking of the resurrection in the yard behind
the counting-house, and that his clerk's advice to him had been to
attend the Sanhedrin, and make plain that his reason for going to Pilate
to ask for the body of Jesus was because he did not wish a desecration
of the Sabbath. But he had only met a show of dark faces, and left the
meeting in company with Nicodemus. Esora, is our danger as great as this
young man says it is? Master, I have always told thee that as soon as
Jesus leaves Judea he will be safe from violence, from death, and we
shall be safe too, but not till then. But how are we to persuade him to
leave Judea, Esora? Thou must try, Master, to persuade him, there is no
other way. He is talking now with Matred in the kitchen. Ask him to come
here, and thou'lt see, Esora, the sad face that uplifts when I speak to
him of Cæsarea. I'll speak for thee, Master, she answered, and going to
the door she called Jesus to them, and when he stood before them she
said: have I not proved a good physician to thee? To-day thy back gives
thee no trouble. Only aching a bit, he answered, from stooping, but
that will pass away. And my balsam having cured thy feet and hands is it
not right that I should take a pride in thee? And, smiling, Jesus
answered: had I voice enough I would call the virtue of thy balsam all
over the world. My balsam has done well with thee, but a change is
needed to restore thee to thyself, and seeing a cloud come into his
face, she continued: we weren't talking of sending thee to Cæsarea, for
it is of little use to send a man in search of health whither he is not
minded to go. Our talk was not of Cæsarea. But of what city then? Jesus
asked, and Esora began to speak of Alexandria, and Joseph, thinking that
she repeated indifferently all that she had heard of that city from him,
interrupted her and began to discourse about the several schools of
philosophy and his eagerness to hear Jesus among the sages. But why
should thy philosophers listen to me? Jesus asked. Because thou'rt wise.
No man, he replied, is wise but he who would learn, and none is foolish
but he who would teach. If there are learners there must be teachers,
Joseph said, and he awaited Jesus' answer eagerly, but Esora, fearing
their project would be lost sight of in argument, broke in, saying:
neither teaching nor learning avails, but thy health, Jesus, and
to-morrow a caravan starts for Egypt, and we would know if thou'lt join
it, for one whom thou knowest goes with it, a friend, one Nicodemus, a
disciple, whose love for thee is equal to my master's.

Jesus' face darkened, but he said nothing, and Esora asked him if he did
not care to travel with Nicodemus, and he answered that if he went to
Egypt he would like to go with Joseph. But my master has business here,
and may not leave it easily. Is this so, Joseph? Jesus asked, and Joseph
answered: it is true that I have business here, but there are other
reasons, and weightier ones than the one Esora has put before thee, why
I may not leave Jerusalem and go to live in Egypt. But wouldst thou have
me go to Egypt with Nicodemus, Joseph? Jesus asked, and Joseph could not
do else than say that the companion he would choose would not be one
whose tongue was always at babble. But wilt thou go to Egypt, he asked,
if I tell thee that it is for thy safety and for ours that we propose
this voyage to thee? And Jesus answered: be it so.

Then, Jesus, we'll make plans together, Esora and myself, for thy
departure; and having thanked him, Jesus returned to Matred in the
kitchen, and they could hear him talking with her while they debated,
and as soon as the kitchen door closed Joseph told Esora that he could
not break the promise he gave to his father, and it was this very
promise that she strove to persuade him to forgo. For it is the only
way, she said, and he, agreeing with her, said: though I have promised
my father not to keep the company of Jesus, it seems to me that I should
be negligent in my duty towards Jesus if I did not go with him to Egypt;
and Esora said: that is well said, Master, and now we will go to our
beds. God often counsels us in sleep and warns us against hasty
promises.

And it was as he expected it would be: he was that night disturbed by a
dream in which his father appeared to him wearing a distressful face,
saying: I have a blessing that I would give to thee. There were more
words than this, but Joseph could not remember them; but the words he
did remember seemed to him a warning that he must not leave Judea; and
Jesus was of one mind with him when he heard them related on the
terrace. A son, he said, must be always obedient to his father, and love
him before other men.

Whereupon Esora, who was standing by when these words were spoken, was
much moved, for she, too, believed in dreams and their interpretation,
and she could put no other interpretation upon Joseph's dream than that
he was forbidden to go to Egypt. But Joseph might write, she said, to
some of his friends in Egypt, and they could send a friend, if they
wished it, who would meet Jesus at Jericho; and this plan was in dispute
till all interest in Egypt faded from their minds, and they began to
talk of other countries and cities; of Athens and Corinth we were
talking, Joseph said to Esora, who had come into the room, and of India,
of Judea. But if Jesus were to go to India we should never see him
again, she answered. It is thy good pleasure, Master, to arrange the
journey, and when it is arranged to thy satisfaction thou'lt tell me,
though I do not know why thou shouldst consult me again. I came to tell
thee that one of thy camel-drivers has come with the news that the
departure of the caravan for Egypt has been advanced by two days. But if
thou'rt thinking of Egypt no longer I may send him away. Tell him to
return to the counting-house, and that there is no order for to-day,
Joseph replied. You will settle the journey between you, Esora said,
turning back on her way to the kitchen to speak once more. She would
have me go, Jesus said. Put that thought out of thy mind, Joseph replied
quickly, for it is not a true thought. Thou shouldst have guessed
better; it is well that thou goest, but we must find the country and the
city that is agreeable to thee, and that will be discovered in our talk
in the next few days, to which Jesus answered nothing; and at the end of
the next few days, though much had been said, it seemed to Joseph that
Jesus' departure was as far away as ever. It has become, he said to
Esora, a little dim. I know nothing, he continued, of Jesus' mind.

On these words he went to his counting-house distracted and sad,
expecting to hear from his clerk that the story of Jesus' resurrection
was beginning to be forgotten in Jerusalem, but the clerk knew nothing
more, and was eager to speak on another matter. Pilate had sent
soldiers to prevent a multitude from assembling at the holy mountain,
Gerezim, for the purpose of searching for some sacred vessels hidden
there by Moses, so it was said. Many had been slain in the riot, and the
Samaritans had made representations to Vitellius, artfully worded, the
clerk said, and dangerous to Pilate, for Vitellius had a friend whom he
would like to put in Pilate's place. Joseph sat thinking that it was not
at all unlikely he was about to lose his friend and protector, and the
clerk, seeing his master troubled, dropped in the words: nothing has
been settled yet. Joseph gave no heed, and a few days afterwards a
messenger came from the Prætorium to tell Joseph that Pilate wished to
see him. We shall not meet again, Joseph, unless you come to Rome, and
you must come quickly to see me there, for my health is declining. We
have been friends, such friends as may rarely consist with Roman and
Hebrew, he said, and the words stirred up a great grief in Joseph's
heart, and when he returned that evening to his house he was overcome by
the evil tidings, but he did not convey them to Esora that evening, nor
the next day, nor the day afterwards, and they becoming such a great
torment in his heart he did not care to go to his counting-house, but
remained waiting in his own rooms, or walking in the garden, startled by
every noise and by every shadow.

Day passed over day, and it was one of the providers that came to the
gates that brought the news of Pilate's departure to Esora, and when she
had gotten it she came to Joseph, saying: so your friend Pilate has been
ordered to Rome? He has, indeed, Joseph answered, overcome by the
intrigues of the Samaritans, who sought to assemble together, not so
much to discover sacred vessels as to bring about a change of
government. We are beset with danger, Esora, for it has come to my mind
that the stories about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth may be
kindled again, and it will not be difficult to incite the priests
against me; everybody is saying that I was the last man to see Jesus,
and must know where his body is hidden; that is enough for the priests,
and they will send up a band of Zealots to seek him in this garden.
There is no place here where we can hide him from them. That is why I
haven't been to my counting-house for three days, fearing to leave thee
and Matred alone with him, for they would surely choose the time when I
was away in Jerusalem to plunder my house. As he was saying these things
Matred came into the room with some wood for the fire, but before
throwing the logs on the hearth that Jesus carried up she looked at
them, and it seemed to Joseph her eyes were full of suspicion, and as
soon as she left the room he said: now why did she bring the logs into
the room while we were talking of Jesus, and why did she mention that he
carried them up this afternoon, having felled a dead tree this morning?

Esora tried to persuade him that his fears were imaginary, but she too
feared that Matred might begin to suspect that Jesus was no ordinary
gardener; she had said, ye speak strangely in Galilee, and to kindle the
story again it would only be necessary for somebody to come up to the
gates and ask her if one, Jesus, a Galilean, was known to her, one that
Pilate condemned to the cross. Her answer would be: there is one here
called Jesus, he is a Galilean, and may have been on the cross for aught
I know. And such answer would be carried back to the priests, who would
order their hirelings to make a search for Jesus, and the master and
servant often sat of an evening listening to the wind in the chimney,
thinking it was warning them of the raid of the Jews. If a tree fell it
was an omen, and they related their dreams to each other in the alleys
of the gardens, till it occurred to them that to be seen in long
converse together would awaken Matred's suspicion. The shutters were put
up and they sat in the dark afraid to speak lest the walls had ears.

Esora, who was the braver of the two, often said, Master, strive to
quell thy fears, for the new procurator has given pause to the story of
the resurrection. We have heard little of it lately, and Jesus is
beginning to be forgotten. Not so, Esora, for to-day I heard--and Joseph
began a long relation which ended always with the phrase: we are beset
with danger. We have been saying that now for a long while, Esora
answered, yet nothing has befallen us yet, and what cannot be cured must
be endured. We must bear with him. If, Esora, I could bring myself to
break all promises to my father and go away with him to Egypt this
misery would be ended. Master, thou canst not do this thing; thou hast
been thinking of it all the winter, and were it possible it would be
accomplished already. If it hadn't been for that dream--and Joseph began
to relate again the dream related many times before. Forget thy dream,
Master, Esora said to him, for it will not help us; as I have said, what
cannot be cured must be endured. We must put our trust in time, which
brings many changes; and in the spring something will befall; he'll be
taken from us. The spring, Esora? And in safety? Tell me, and in safety?
Nay, Master, I cannot tell thee more than I have said; something will
befall, but what that thing may be I cannot say. Will it be in the
winter or in the spring? It will be in February or March, she said. It
was, however, before then, in January (the winter being a mild one, the
birds were already singing in the shaws), that a camel-driver came to
the house on the hillside to tell Joseph that a camel had been stolen
from them on their way from Jericho to Jerusalem during the night or in
the early morning, and with many words and movements of the hands, that
irritated Joseph, he sought to describe the valley where they pitched
their tent. Get on with thy story, Joseph said; and the man told that
they had succeeded in tracking the band, a small one, to a cave, out of
which, he said, it will be easy to smoke them if Fadus, the procurator,
will send soldiers at once, for they may go on to another cave, not
deeming it safe to remain long in the same one. Didst beg the camel
back from the robbers? Joseph asked, for he was not thinking of the
robbery, but of his meeting with Fadus. No, Master, there was no use
doing that. They would have taken our lives. But we followed them,
spying them from behind rocks all the way, and the cave having but one
entrance they can be smoked to death with a few trusses of damp straw.
But care must be taken lest our camel perish with them. If we could get
them to give up the camel first, I'm thinking--

It was a serious matter to hear that robbers had again established
themselves in the hills; and while Joseph pondered the disagreeable
tidings a vagrant breeze carried the scent of the camel-driver's
sheepskin straight into Jesus' nostrils as he came up the path with a
bundle of faggots on his shoulders. He stopped at first perplexed by the
smell and then, recognising it, he hurried forward, till he stood before
the spare frame and withered brown face of the desert wanderer.

Joseph looked on puzzled, for Jesus stood like one in ecstatic vision
and began to put questions to the camel-driver regarding the quality of
the sheep the shepherds led, asking if the rams speeded, if there were
many barren ewes in the flock, and if there was as much scab about as
formerly, questions that one shepherd might put to another, but which
seemed strangely out of keeping with a gardener's interests.

The camel-driver answered Jesus' question as well as he was able, and
then, guessing a former shepherd in the gardener, he asked if Jesus had
ever led a flock. Joseph tried to interrupt, but the interruption came
too late; Jesus blurted out that for many years he was a shepherd. And
who was thy master? the camel-driver asked; Jesus answered that he was
in those days an Essene living in the great settlement on the eastern
bank of Jordan. Whereupon the camel-driver began to relate that Brother
Amos was not doing well with the sheep and that some of the brethren
were gone to the Brook Kerith and had taken possession of a cave in the
rocks above it. The camel-driver was about to begin to make plain this
Amos' misunderstanding of sheep, but Jesus interrupted him. Who may
their president be? he asked; and with head bent, scratching his poll,
the camel-driver said at last that he thought it was Hazael. Hazael!
Jesus answered, and forthwith his interest in the camel-driver began to
slacken. The anemone is on the hills to-day, he said, and Joseph looked
at him reproachfully; his eyes seemed to say: hast forgotten so easily
the danger we passed through by keeping thee here, counting it as
nothing, so great was our love of thee?--and Jesus answering that look
replied: but, Joseph, how often didst thou speak to me of Cæsarea,
Alexandria, Athens, and other cities. Esora, too, was anxious that I
should leave Judea ... for my sake as well as yours. India was spoken
of, but the Brook Kerith is not twenty odd miles from here and I shall
be safe among the brethren. Why this silence, Joseph? and whence comes
this change of mood? Jesus asked, and Joseph began to speak of the
parting that awaited them. But there'll be no parting, Jesus interposed.
Thou'lt ride thy ass out to meet me, and we shall learn to know each
other, for thou knowest nothing of me yet, Joseph. Thou'lt bring a loaf
of bread and a flagon of wine in thy wallet, and we shall share it
together. I shall wait for thy coming on the hillside. Even so, Jesus, I
am sad that our life here among the trees in this garden should have
come to an end. We were frightened many times, but what we suffered is
now forgotten. The pleasure of having thee with us alone is remembered.
But it is true we have been estranged here. May we start to-night? Jesus
asked, and Joseph said: if a man be minded to leave, it is better that
he should leave at once.



CHAP. XXIII.


An hour later, about two hours before midnight, they were riding into
the desert, lighted by a late moon and incommoded by two puppies that
Jesus could not be dissuaded from bringing with him: for if Brother Amos
give up his flock to me, he argued, I shall need dogs. But Brother Amos
will give thee his dogs, Joseph said. A shepherd, Jesus answered, cannot
work with any dogs but his own. But what has become of the dogs that
were left behind? Joseph asked, and not being able to tell him, Jesus
fell to wondering how it was he had forgotten his dogs. At that moment
one of the puppies cried to be let down: see how well he follows, Jesus
said, but hardly were the words past his lips than the puppy turned
tail, and Jesus had to chase him very nearly back to Bethany before he
allowed himself to be overtaken and picked up again. The way is long,
Joseph cried, more than seven hours to the city of Jericho, and if these
chases happen again we shall be overtaken by the daylight. One of my
caravans starts from Jericho at dawn; and if we meet it I shall have my
camel-drivers round me asking pertinent questions and may be compelled
to return with them to Jericho. Come, Jesus, thine ass seems willing to
amble down this long incline; and dropping the reins over the animal's
withers, and leaning back, holding a puppy under each arm, Jesus allowed
the large brown ass he was riding to trot; it was not long before he
left far behind the heavy weighted white ass, which carried Joseph.

Now seeing the distance lengthening out between them Joseph was tempted
to cry to Jesus to stop, but dared not, lest he might awaken robbers
(their strongholds having lately been raided by soldiers), and he had in
mind the fugitives that might be lurking in the hills, so instead of
crying to Jesus to hold hard, he urged his ass forward. But the best
speed he could make was not sufficient to overtake the nimbly trotting
brown ass, and the pursuit might have been continued into Jericho if
Jesus had not been suddenly behoven by the silence to stop and wait for
Joseph to overtake him, which he did in about ten minutes, whispering:
ride not so fast, robbers may be watching for travellers. Not at this
hour, Jesus replied; and he prepared to ride on. This time one of the
puppies succeeded in getting away and might have run back again to
Bethany had not Joseph leapt from his ass and driven him back to Jesus
with loud cries that the ravines repeated again and again. If there were
robbers asleep, thy cries would awaken them. True, true, Joseph replied;
I forgot; and he vowed he would not utter another word till they passed
a certain part of the road, advantageous, he said, to robbers. No
better spot between Jerusalem and Jericho for murder and robbery, he
continued: cast thine eyes down into the ravine into which he could
throw us. But if a robber should fall upon me do not stay to defend me;
ride swiftly to the inn for help, and, despite the danger, Joseph rode
in front of Jesus, sustained by the hope that the good fortune that
attended him so far would attend him to the end. And they rode on
through the grey moonlight till a wolf howled in the distance. Joseph
bent over and whispered in Jesus' ear: hold thy puppies close to thy
bosom, Jesus, for if one be dropped and start running back to Bethany he
will be overtaken easily by that wolf and thou'lt never hear of him
again. Jesus held the puppies tighter, but there was no need to do so,
for they seemed to know that the howl was not of their kin. The wolf
howled again, and was answered by another wolf. The twain have missed
our trail, Joseph said, and had there been more we might have had to
abandon our asses. If we hasten we shall reach the inn without
molestation from robbers or wolves. How far are we from the inn, Jesus?
About two hours, Jesus answered, and Joseph fell to gazing on the hills,
trying to remember them, but unable to do so, so transformed were they
in the haze of the moonlight beyond their natural seeming. They
attracted him strangely, the hills, dim, shadowy, phantasmal, rising out
of their loneliness towards the bright sky, a white cliff showing
sometimes through the greyness; the shadow of a rock falling sometimes
across a track faintly seen winding round the hills, every hill being,
as it were, a stage in the ascent.

As the hills fell back behind the wayfarers the inn began to take shape
in the pearl-coloured haze, and the day Joseph rested for the first time
in this inn rose up in his memory with the long-forgotten wanderers whom
he had succoured on the occasion: the wizened woman in her black rags
and the wizened child in hers. They came up from the great desert and
for the last fifteen days had only a little camel's milk, so they had
said, and like rats they huddled together to eat the figs he
distributed.

He had seen the inn many times since then and the thought came into his
mind that he would never see it again. But men are always haunted by
thoughts of an impending fate, he said to himself, which never befalls.
But it has befallen mine ass to tire under my weight, he cried. He must
be very tired, Jesus answered, for mine is tired, and I've not much more
than half thy weight; and the puppies are tired, tired of running
alongside of the asses, and tired of being carried, and ourselves are
tired and thirsty; shall we knock at the door and cry to the innkeeper
that he rouse out of his bed and give us milk for the puppies if he have
any? I wouldn't have him know that I journeyed hither with thee, Joseph
replied, for stories are soon set rolling. Esora has put a bottle of
water into the wallet; the puppies will have to lap a little. We can
spare them a little though we are thirstier than they. She had put bread
and figs into the wallet, so they were not as badly off as they thought
for; and eating and drinking and talking to the puppies and feeding them
the while, the twain stood looking through the blue, limpid, Syrian
night.

At the end of a long silence Jesus said: the dawn begins; look, Joseph,
the stars are not shining as brightly over the Jericho hills as they
were. But Joseph could not see that the stars were dimmer. Are they not
with-drawing? Jesus asked, and then, forgetful of the stars, his
thoughts went to the puppies: see how they crouch and tremble under the
wall of the garth, he said. There must be a wolf about, he said, and
after he had thrown a stone to hasten the animal's departure he began to
talk to the puppies, telling them they need have no fear of wolves, for
when they were full-grown and were taught by him they would not hold on
but snap and snap again. That is how the Thracian dogs fight, like the
wolves, he said, turning to Joseph. He is thinking, Joseph said to
himself, of sheep and dogs and being a shepherd again. But of-what art
thou thinking, Joseph?--of that strip of green sky which is the dawn? I
can see, now, that thy shepherd eyes did not deceive thee, Joseph
answered. The day begins again; and how wonderful is the return of the
day, hill after hill rising out of the shadow. An old land, he said,
like the end of the world. Why like the end of the world? Jesus asked.
Joseph had spoken casually; he regretted the remark, and while he sought
for words that would explain it away a train of camels came through the
dusk rocking up the hillside, swinging long necks, one bearing on its
back what looked like a gigantic bird. A strange burden, Joseph said,
and what it may be I cannot say, but the camels are my camels, and thou
art safe out of sight under the wall of this garth.

A moment after the word that the master had bidden a halt was passed up
the line, and one of the camel-drivers said: she stopped half-an-hour
ago to drop her young one, and we put him on the dam's back, and she
doesn't feel his weight. We shall rest for an hour between this and
Jerusalem, and when we lift him down he'll find the dug. But I've a
letter for you, Master, from Gaddi, who wishes to see you. I thought to
deliver it in Jerusalem. It was fortunate to meet you here. Gaddi will
see you half-a-day sooner than he hoped for. I shall get to him by
midday, Joseph said, raising his eyes from the letter. By midday,
Master? Why, in early morning I should have thought for, unless, indeed,
you bide here till the innkeeper opens his doors. I have business,
Joseph answered, with the Essenes that have settled in a cave above the
Brook Kerith. About whom, the camel-driver interjected, there be much
talk going in Jericho. They've disputed among themselves, some remaining
where they always were on the eastern bank of the Jordan, but ten or a
dozen going to the Brook Kerith, with Hazael for their president. And
for what reason? Joseph inquired. I have told you, Master, all I know,
and since you be going to the Brook Kerith the brethren themselves will
give reasons better than I can, even if I had heard what their reasons
be for differing among themselves. Whereupon Joseph bade his caravan
proceed onward to Jerusalem.

We shall be surprised here by the daylight if we delay any longer, he
said, returning to Jesus, and, mounting their asses, they rode down the
hillside into a long, shallow valley out of which the track rose upwards
and upwards penetrating into the hills above Jericho.



CHAP. XXIV.


Now it is here we leave the track, Jesus said, and he turned his ass
into a little path leading down a steeply shelving hillside. We shall
find the brethren coming back from the hills, if they aren't back
already. It is daylight on the hills though it is night still in this
valley; and looking up they saw a greenish moon in the middle of a
mottled sky of pink and grey. Over the face of the moon wisps of vapour
curled and went out: and the asses, Joseph said, are loath to descend
the hillside for fear of this strange moon, or it may be they are
frightened by the babble of this brook; it seems to rise out of the very
centre of the earth. How deep is the gorge? Very deep, Jesus answered;
many hundred feet. But the asses don't fear precipices, and if ours are
unwilling to descend the hillside it is because the paths do not seem
likely to lead to a stable; so would I account for their obstinacy. I'll
not ride down so steep a descent, and Joseph slipped from his ass's
back; and, rid of his load, the ass tried to escape, but Jesus managed
to turn him back to Joseph, who seized the bridle. Dismount, Jesus, he
cried, for the path is narrow, and to please him Jesus dismounted, and,
driving their animals in front of them, they ventured on to a sort of
ledge.

It passed under rocks and between rocks to the very brink of the
precipice as it descended towards the bridge that spanned the brook some
hundreds of feet lower down. Already our asses scent a stable, Jesus
said; he called after them to stop, and the obedient animals stopped and
began to seek among the stones for a tuft of grass or a bramble. I see
no place here for a hermitage, Joseph said, only roosts for choughs and
crows. There have been hermits here always, Jesus answered. We shall
pass the ruins of ancient hermitages farther down on this side above the
bridge. The bridge was built by hermits who came from India, Jesus said.
And was destroyed, Joseph interjected, by the Romans, so that they might
capture the robbers that infested the caves. But the Essenes must have
repaired the bridge lately, Jesus replied, and he asked Joseph how long
the Essenes had been at the Brook Kerith. My camel-driver did not say,
Joseph answered, and Jesus pointed to the ledge that the Essenes must
have chosen for a dwelling: it cannot be else, he said; there is no
other ledge large enough to build upon in the ravine; and behind the
ledge thou seest up yonder is the large cave whither the ravens came to
feed Elijah. If the brethren are anywhere they are on that ledge, in
that cave, and he asked Joseph if his eyes could not follow the building
of a balcony: thine eyes cannot fail to see it, for it is plain to mine.
Joseph said he thought he could discern the balcony. But how do we reach
it? We aren't angels, he said. We shall ascend, Jesus answered, by a
path going back and forth, through many terraces. Lead on, Joseph
answered. But stay, let us admire the bridge they have built and the
pepper-trees that border it. I am glad the Romans spared the trees, for
men that live in this solitude deserve the beauty of these pepper-trees.
Jesus said: yonder is the path leading to the source of the brook;
fledged at this season with green reeds and rushes. They have built a
mill I see! turned by the brook and fed, no doubt, by the wheat thy
camels bring from Moab. But the Essenes seem late at work this morning.

As he spoke these words an old man appeared on the balcony, and Joseph
said: that must be Hazael, but his beard has gone very white. It is
Hazael, our president, Jesus answered. Let us go to him at once, and
still driving the asses in front of them and carrying the puppies in
their arms they worked their way up through the many terraces; not one
is more than three feet wide, yet in every one are fig-trees, Jesus
remarked, and there seem to be vines everywhere, for though the Essenes
drink no wine, they sell their grapes to be eaten or to be turned into
wine, Joseph. Our rule is not to kill, but we sell our sheep, and alas!
some go to the Temple and are offered in sacrifice. I used to weep for
my sheep, he muttered, but in this world----

The steep ascent checked further speech, and they walked to the east and
then to the west, back and forth, fifty little journeys taking them up
to the cenoby. The great door was opened to them at once, and Hazael
came forward to meet them, giving his left hand to Joseph and his right
to Jesus, whom he drew to his bosom. So, my dear Jesus, thou hast come
back to us, Hazael said, and he looked into Jesus' face inquiringly,
learning from it that it would not be well to ask Jesus for the story of
what had befallen him during the last three years; and Joseph gave
thanks that Hazael was possessed of a mind that saw into recesses and
appreciated fine shades.

We are glad to have thee back again, Jesus; and thou hast come to stay,
and perhaps to take charge of our flock again, which needs thy guidance.
How so? Jesus asked. Hasn't the flock prospered under Brother Amos? Ah!
that is a long story, Hazael answered. We'll tell it thee when the time
comes. But thou hast brought dogs with thee, and of the breed that our
shepherds are always seeking.

It was thus that Jesus and Hazael began to talk to each other, leaving
Joseph to admire the vaulting of the long dwelling, and to wander out
through the embrasure on to the balcony, from whence he could see the
Essenes going to their work along the terraces. Among the ruins of the
hermitage on the opposite side above the bridge, a brother fondled a pet
lamb while he read. He is one, Joseph said to himself, that has found
the society of this cenoby too numerous for him, so he retired to a
ruin, hoping to draw himself nearer to God. But even he must have a
living thing by him; and then, his thoughts changing, he fell to
thinking of the day when he would ride out to meet Jesus among the
hills. His happiness was so intense in the prospect that he delighted in
all he saw and heard: in the flight of doves that had just left their
cotes and were flying now across the gorge, and in the soothing chant of
the water rising out of the dusk.

Jesus had told him that the gorge was never without water. The spring
that fed it rose out of the earth as by enchantment. Hazael's voice
interrupted his reveries: would you like, Sir, to visit our house? he
asked, and he threw open the door and showed a great room, common to
all. On either side of it, he said, are cells, six on one side, four on
the other, and into these cells the brethren retire after breaking
bread, and it is in this domed gallery we sit at food. But Jesus has
spoken to thee of these things, for though we do not speak to strangers
of our rule of life, Jesus would not have transgressed in speaking of it
to thee. Joseph asked for news of Banu, and was sorry to hear that he
had been killed and partially eaten by a lion.

The tidings seemed to affect Jesus strangely; he covered his face with
his hands, and Hazael repented having spoken of Banu, guessing that the
hermit's death carried Jesus' thoughts into a past time that he would
shut out for ever from his mind. He atoned, however, for his mistake by
an easy transition which carried their discourse into an explanation of
the dissidence that had arisen among the brethren, and which, he said,
compelled us to come hither. The Essenes are celibates, and it used to
be my duty to go in search of young men whom I might judge to be well
disposed towards God, and to bring them hither with me so that they
might see what our life is, and, discovering themselves to be true
servants of the Lord, adopt a life as delightful and easy to those who
love God truly as it is hard to them whose thoughts are set on the world
and its pleasures. I have travelled through Palestine often in search of
such young men, and many who came with me are still with me. It was in
Nazareth that we met, he said, and he stretched his hand to Jesus. Dost
remember? And without more he pursued his story.

The brother, however, who succeeded me as missionary brought back only
young men who, after a few months trial, fell away. It would be unjust
for me to say that the fault was with the missionary: times are not as
they used to be; the spirit of the Lord is not so rife nor so ardent now
as it was once, and the dwindling of our order was the reason given for
the proposal that some of us should take wives. The argument put forward
was that the children born of these marriages would be more likely than
other children to understand our oaths of renunciation of the world and
its illusions. It was pleaded, and I doubt not in good faith, that it
were better the Essenes should exist under a modified and more worldly
rule than not to exist at all; and while unable to accept this view we
have never ceased to admire the great sacrifice that our erstwhile
brethren have made for the sake of our order. That the large majority
was moved by such an exalted motive cannot be doubted; but temptations
are always about; everyone is the Adam of his own soul, and there may
have been a few that desired the change for less worthy motives. There
was a brother----

At that moment an accidental tread sent one of the puppies howling down
the dwelling, and Hazael, fearing that he might fall into the well and
drown there, sent Jesus to call him back. The puppy, however, managed to
escape the well in time, and the pain in his tail ceasing suddenly he
ran, followed by his brother, out of the cenoby on to the rocks. I must
go after them, for they will roll down the rocks if left to themselves,
Jesus cried. A matter of little moment, Hazael replied, compared with
the greater calamity of drowning himself in the well, for it is of
extraordinary depth and represents the labour of years. Wonderful are
the works of man, he added. But greater are the works of God, Joseph
replied. You did well to correct me, Hazael answered, for one never
should forget that God is over all things, and the only real
significance man has, is his knowledge of God. But we were speaking of
the exodus of a few monks from the great cenoby on the eastern side of
Jordan.

We came hither for the reason that I have told. We left protesting that
even if it were as our brethren said, and that the children of Essenes
would be more likely than the children of Pharisees and Sadducees to
choose to worship God according to the spirit rather than to wear their
lives away in pursuit of vain conformity to the law--even if this were
so, we said, man can only love God on condition that he put women aside,
for woman represents the five senses: pleasure of the eyes, of the ears,
of the mouth, of the finger-tips, of the nostrils: we did not fail to
point out that though our brethren might go in and unto them for worthy
motives, yet in so doing they would experience pleasure, and sexual
pleasure leads to the pleasure of wine and food. One of the brethren
said this might not be so if elderly women were chosen, and at first it
seemed as if a compromise were possible. But a moment after, a brother
reminded us that elderly women were not fruitful. To which I added
myself another argument, that a different diet from ours is necessary to
those who take wives unto themselves. Thou understandest me, Joseph?
Women have never been a temptation to me, Joseph answered, nor to Jesus,
and in meditative mood he related the story of the wild man in the
woods, at the entrance of whose cave Jesus had laid a knife so that he
might cut himself free of temptation.

At this Hazael was much moved, and they talked of Jesus, Joseph saying
that he had suffered cruelly for teaching that the Kingdom of God is in
our own hearts; for to teach that religion is no more than a personal
aspiration is to attack the law, which, though given to us by Moses,
existed beforetimes in heaven, always observed by the angels, and to be
observed by them for time everlasting. Jesus, then, set himself against
the Temple? Hazael said slowly, looking into Joseph's eyes. In a
measure, Joseph answered, but it was the priests who exasperated the
people against him, and what I have come here for, beyond his
companionship on the journey is to beg of you to put no questions to
him. A day may come when he will tell his story if he remain with thee.
Here he is safe, Hazael said, and I pray God that he may remain with us.
But where is Jesus? Hazael asked, and they sought him in the terraces,
where the monks were at work among the vines. See our fig-trees already
in leaf. Without our figs we should hardly be able to live here, and it
is thy transport that enables us to sell our grapes and our figs and the
wine that we make, for we make wine, though there are some who think it
would be better if we made none.

It was thou that urged Pilate to free these hills from robbers, and
hadst thou not done so we shouldn't have been able to live here. But I'm
thinking of so many things that I have lost thought of him whom we seek.
He cannot have passed this way, unless, indeed, he descended the terrace
towards the bridge, and he could hardly have done that. He has gone up
the hills, and they will help to put the past out of his mind. And,
talking of Jesus' early life in the cenoby, and of his knowledge of
flocks and suchlike, Hazael led Joseph through the long house and up
some steps on to a rubble path. The mountain seems to be crumbling,
Joseph said, and looked askance at the quiet room built on the very
verge of the abyss. Where thou'lt sleep when thou honourest us with a
visit, Hazael said, which will be soon, we trust, he continued; for we
owe a great deal to thee, as I have already explained, and now thou
com'st with a last gift--our shepherd.

On these words they passed under an overhanging rock which Joseph said
would fall one day. One day, replied the Essene, all the world will
fall, and I wish we were as safe from men as we are from this rock. Part
of the bridge over the brook is of wood and it can be raised. But the
ledge on which we live can be reached only from the hills by this path,
and it would be possible to raid us from this side. Thou seest here a
wall, a poor one, it is true; but next year we hope to build a much
stronger wall, some twenty feet high and several feet in thickness, and
then we shall be secure against the robbers if they would return to
their caves. We have little or nothing to steal, but wicked men take
pleasure in despoiling even when there is nothing to gain: our content
would fill them with displeasure, he said, as he sought the key.

But on trying the door it was found to be unlocked, and Joseph said: it
will be no use building a wall twenty feet high to secure yourself from
robbers if you leave the door unlocked. It was Jesus that left the door
unlocked, Hazael answered, he must have passed this way, we shall find
him on the hillside; and Joseph stood amazed at the uprolling hills and
their quick descents into stony valleys. Beyond that barren hill there
is some pasturage, Hazael said; and in search of Jesus they climbed
summit after summit, hoping always to catch sight of him playing with
his dogs in the shadow of some rocks, but he was nowhere to be seen, and
Hazael could not think else than that he had fallen in with Amos and
yielded to the beguilement of the hills, for he has known them, Hazael
continued, since I brought him here from Nazareth, a lad of fifteen or
sixteen years, not more. We shall do better to return and wait for him.
He will remember us presently. To which Joseph answered, that since he
was so near Jericho he would like to go thither; a great pile of
business awaited his attention there, and he begged Hazael to tell Jesus
that he would return to bid him good-bye on his way back to Jerusalem
that evening, if it were possible to do so.



CHAP. XXV.


It was as Hazael had guessed: the puppies had scampered up the loose
pathway leading to the hills; Jesus had let them through the door, and
had followed them up the hills, saying to himself: they have got the
scent of sheep.

The stubborn, unruly ground lay before him just as he remembered it,
falling into hollows but rising upwards always, with still a little
grass between the stones, but not enough to feed a flock, he remarked,
as he wandered on, watching the sunrise unfolding, and thinking that
Amos should be down by the Jordan, and would be there, he said to
himself, no doubt, were it not for the wild beasts that have their lairs
in the thickets. Whosoever redeems the shepherd from the danger of
lions, he added, as he climbed up the last ascents, will be the great
benefactor. But the wolves perhaps kill more sheep than lions, being
more numerous. It was at this moment that Brother Amos came into sight,
and he walked so deep in meditation that he might have passed Jesus
without seeing him if Jesus had not called aloud.

Why, Jesus, it is thou, as I'm alive, come back to us at last. Well,
we've been expecting thee this long while. And thou hast not come back
too soon, as my poor flock testifies. I'm ashamed of them; but thou'lt
not speak too harshly of my flock to Hazael, who thinks if he complains
enough he'll work me up into a good shepherd despite my natural turn for
an indoor life. But I'd not have thee think that the flock perished
through my fault, and see in them a lazy shepherd lying always at length
on the hillside. I walk with them in search of pasture from daylight
till dark, wearing my feet away, but to no purpose, as any man can see
though he never laid eyes on a sheep before. But it was thou, Brother,
that recommended me for a shepherd, and I can think of naught but my
love of wandering with thee on the hills, and listening to thee prating
of rams and ewes, that put it into my head that I was a shepherd by
nature and thy successor.

Thou wast brought up to the flock from thy boyhood, and a ram's head has
more interest for thee than a verse of Scripture; thy steady, easy gait
was always the finest known on these hills for leading a flock; but my
feet pain me after a dozen miles, and a shepherd with corny feet is like
a bird with a torn wing. Thou understandest the hardship of a shepherd,
and that one isn't a shepherd for willing it; and I rely on thee,
Brother, to take my part and to speak up for me when Hazael puts
questions to thee. So thou wouldst be freed from the care of the flock?
Jesus said. My only wish, he answered. But thou'lt make it clear to
Hazael that it was for lack of a good ram the flock fell away. I gave
thee over a young ram with the flock, one of the finest on these hills,
Jesus said. Thou didst; and he seemed like coming into such a fine
beast, Amos answered, that we hadn't the heart to turn him among the
ewes the first year but bred from the old fellow. An old ram is a waste,
Jesus replied, and he would have said more if Amos had not begun to
relate the death of the fine young beast that Jesus had bred for the
continuance of the flock. We owe the loss of him, he said, to a ewe that
no shepherd would look twice at, one of the ugliest in the flock, she
seemed to me to be and to everybody that laid his eyes on her, and she
ought to have been put out of the flock, but though uninviting to our
eyes she was longed for by another ram, and so ardently that he could
not abide his own ewes and became as a wild sheep on the hills, always
on the prowl about my flock, seeking his favourite, and she casting her
head back at him nothing loath.

It would have been better if I had turned the evil ewe out of the flock,
making him a present of her, but I kept on foiling him; and my own ram,
taking rage against this wild one, challenged him, and one day, seeing
me asleep on the hillside, the wild ram came down and with a great bleat
summoned mine to battle. It seemed to me that heaven was raining
thunderbolts, so loud was the noise of their charging; and looking out
of my dreams I saw the two rams backing away from each other, making
ready for another onset. My ram's skull was the softer, he being a
youngling, it had been already shaken in several charges, and it was
broken in this last one, a terrible one it was, I can still hear them,
they are still at it in my mind--the ewes of both flocks gathered on
different sides, spectators.

But where were thy dogs all this while? Jesus inquired. My dogs! If I'd
had a Thracian he never would have suffered that the sheep killed each
other. A Thracian would have awakened me. My dogs are of the soft Syrian
breed given to growling and no more. The wild ram might have become tame
again, and would doubtless have stayed with me as long as I had the ewe;
but he might have refused to serve any but she. No man can say how it
would have ended if I had not killed him in my anger. So thou wast left,
Jesus remarked, without a serviceable ram. With naught, Amos sighed, but
the old one, and he was that weary of jumping that he began to think
more of his fodder than ewes. Without money one can't get a well-bred
ram, as I often said to Hazael, but he answered me always that he had no
money to give me, and that I must do as well as I could with the ram I
had.... He is gone now, but before he died he ruined my flock.

It is true that the shepherd's labour is wasted without a good ram,
Jesus repeated. Thou speakest but the truth, Amos replied; and knowing
the truth, forget not to speak well of me to Hazael, as a shepherd,
finding reason that will satisfy him for the dwindling of the flock that
henceforth will be in thy charge. Jesus said that he was willing to
resume his charge, but did not know if Hazael and the brethren would
receive him back into the order after his long absence. Amos seemed to
think that of that there could be no doubt. All will be glad to have
thee back ... thou'rt too useful for them to slight thee, he cried back,
and Jesus returned to the cenoby dreaming of some grand strain that
would restore the supremacy of the flock.

As he passed down the gallery Hazael, who was sitting on the balcony,
cried to him; Joseph, he said, waited an hour and has gone; he had
business to transact in Jericho. But, Jesus, what ails thee? It seems
strange, Jesus answered, he should have gone away like this. But have I
not told thee, Jesus, that he will return this evening to wish thee
good-bye. But he may not be able to return this evening, Jesus replied.
That is so, Hazael rejoined. He said that he might have to return to
Jerusalem at once, but he will not fail to ride out to meet thee in a
few days. But he will not find me on the hills, no tryst has been made,
Jesus said, as he turned away; and guessing his intention to be to leave
at once for Jericho, Hazael spoke of Joseph's business in Jericho, and
how displeased he might be to meet Jesus in the middle of his business
and amongst strangers. The Essenes are not well looked upon in
Jerusalem, he said. We do not send fat rams to the Temple. Fat rams,
Jesus repeated. Amos has been telling me that what lacks is a ram, and
the community had not enough money to buy one. That is true, Hazael
said. Rams are hard to get even for a great deal of money. Joseph might
lend us the money, he is rich. He will do that, Jesus answered, and be
glad to do it. But a ram must be found, and if thou'lt give me all the
money thou hast I will go in search of one. Joseph will remit to thee
the money I have taken from thee when he returns. It will be a surprise
for him to find in the flock a great fine ram of the breed that I
remember to have seen on the western hills. I'll start at daybreak. Thou
shalt have our shekels, Hazael said; they are few, but the Lord be with
thee and his luck.



CHAP. XXVI.


His was the long, steady gait of the shepherd, and he had not proceeded
far into the hills before he was looking round acknowledging them, one
after the other; they were his friends, and his sheep's friends, having
given them pasturage for many a year; and the oak wood's shade had been
friendly beforetimes to himself and his sheep. And he was going to rest
in its shade once more. At noon he would be there, glad of some water;
for though the day was still young the sun was warm, the sky told him
that before noon his tongue would be cleaving to the sides of his mouth;
a fair prediction this was, for long before the oak wood came into sight
he had begun to think of the well at the end of the wood, and the
quality of the water he would find in it, remembering that it used to
hold good water, but the shepherds often forgot to replace the stopper
and the water got fouled.

As he walked his comrades of old time kept rising up in his memory one
by one; their faces, even their hands and feet, and the stories they
told of their dogs, their fights with the wild beasts, and the losses
they suffered from wolves and lions in the jungles along the Jordan. In
old times these topics were the substance of his life, and he wished to
hear the shepherds' rough voices again, to look into their eyes, to talk
sheep with them, to plunge his hands once more into the greasy fleeces,
yes, and to vent his knowledge, so that if he should happen to come upon
new men they would see that he, Jesus, had been at the job before.

Now the day seems like keeping up, he said; but there was a certain fear
in his heart that the valleys would be close and hot in the afternoon
and the hill-tops uninviting. But his humour was not for fault-finding;
and with the ram in view always--not a long-legged brute with a face
like a ewe upon him, but a broad, compact animal with a fine woolly
head--he stepped out gaily, climbing hill after hill, enjoying his walk
and interested in his remembrance of certain rams he had once seen near
Cæsarea, and in his hope of possessing himself of one of these. With
money enough upon me to buy one, he kept saying to himself, I shouldn't
come back empty-handed. But, O Lord, the the day is hot, he cried at the
end of the fourth hour. But yonder is the oak wood; and he stopped to
think out the whereabouts of the well. A moment after he caught sight of
a shepherd: who is, no doubt, by the well, he said. He is, and trying to
lift out the stopper; and the shepherd, catching sight of Jesus, called
him to come to his help, saying that it would need their united strength
to get it out. We're moving it, the shepherd cried after a bit. We are,
Jesus replied. How is the water? Fair enough if thy thirst be fierce,
the shepherd replied. There is better about a mile from here, but I see
thou'rt thirsty.

As soon as the men had quenched their thirst, the sheep came forward,
each waiting his turn, as is their wont; and when the flock was watered
it sought the shade of a great oak, and the twain, sitting under the
burgeoning branches, began to talk. It was agreed between them that it
would not do to advise anybody to choose shepherding as a trade at
present, for things seemed to be going more than ever against the
shepherd; the wild animals in the thickets along the Jordan had
increased, and the robbers, though many had been crucified, were
becoming numerous again; these did not hesitate to take a ewe or wether
away with them, paying little for it, or not paying at all. But art thou
a shepherd? Jesus answered that he had been a shepherd--an erstwhile
Essene, he said; one that has returned to the brethren. The Essenes are
good to the poor, the shepherd said, and glad to hear he was talking to
a mate, he continued his complaint, to which Jesus gave heed, knowing
well that it would not be long before they would be speaking of the
breed of sheep best suited to the hills; the which came to pass, for,
like Jesus, he lacked a good ram, and for the want of one, he said, his
flock had declined. The better the breed, he continued, the more often
it required renewing, and his master would not pay money for new blood,
so he was thinking of leaving him; and to justify his intention he
pointed out the ram to Jesus that was to serve the flock that autumn,
asking him how a shepherd could earn with such a one the few lambs that
he receives in payment if the flock increase under his care. He's four
years old if he's a day, Jesus muttered. He is that, the shepherd
answered; yet master told me yesterday he must serve another season, for
he won't put his hand in his pocket, rams being so dear; but nothing,
say I, is dearer than an old ram. I'm with thee in that, Jesus answered;
and my plight is the same as thine. I'm searching for a ram, and have a
friend who would pay a great sum of money for one if one of the style I
am looking for can be found.

Well, luck will be with thee, but I know no ram on these hills that I'd
pay money for, the shepherd answered, none we see is better than yon
beast, and he is what thou seest him to be, a long-backed, long-legged,
ugly ram that would be pretty tough under the tooth, and whose fleece a
shepherd would find thin in winter-time.

But there were once fine sheep on these hills, Jesus answered, and I
remember a ram---- Ay, mate, thou mayest well remember one, and I think
I know the shepherd that thou'rt thinking of, but he that owns the breed
will not sell a ram for the great sums of money that have been offered
to him, for his pride is to keep the breed to himself. We've tried to
buy, and been watching this long while for a lucky chance to drive one
away, for a man that has more than he needs and will not sell aught
thereof calls the thief down into his house, as it were, creating the
thief out of an honest man, for which he deserves to be punished. But
the rich are never punished and this man's shepherds are wary, and his
dogs are fierce, and none has succeeded yet in getting a sample of the
breed.

But where may this man be found? Jesus asked, and the shepherd mentioned
a village high up on the mountains over against the sea. But go not
thither, for twenty miles is a long walk if the end of it be but jeers
and a scoffing. A scoffing! Jesus returned. Ay, and a fine one in thine
ears; and a fine thirst upon thee, the shepherd continued, and turning
to the oak-tree he began to cut branches to feed his goats. Twenty miles
uphill in front of me, Jesus meditated, with jeers and scoffings at the
end of the journey, of which I have had plenty; and he began to walk
quickly and to look round the hills in search of pasture for a flock,
for these hills were but faintly known to him. It isn't reasonable that
a man will not part with a ram for a great sum of money, he said, and
though he may not sell the lamb to his neighbours, whom he knows for
rascals, he may sell to the Essenes, whose report is good. And he
continued his way, stopping very often to think how he might find a
bypath that would save him a climb; for the foot-hills running down from
west to east, off the main range, formed a sort of gigantic ridge and
furrow broken here and there, and whenever he met a shepherd he asked
him to put him in the way of a bypath; and with a word of counsel from a
shepherd and some remembrance he discovered many passes; but despite
these easy ways the journey began to seem very long, so long that it
often seemed as if he would never arrive at the village he was seeking.
He told me I'd find it on the last ridge looking seaward. He said I
couldn't miss it; and shading his eyes with his hand, Jesus caught sight
of some roofs that he had not seen before. Maybe the roofs, he said, of
the village in which I shall find my ram, and maybe he who will sell me
the ram sits under that sycamore. If such be my fortune he will rise to
meet me, Jesus continued, and he strove against the faintness coming
over him. Is there a fountain? he asked. By that arch the fountain
flows, drink thy fill, wayfarer. His sight being darkened he could not
see the arch but stumbled against it and stood there, his face white and
drawn, his hand to his side, till, unable to bear up any longer, he
fell.

Somebody came to him with water, and after drinking a little he revived,
and said he could walk alone, but as soon as they loosed him he fell
again, and when lifted from the ground a second time he asked for the
inn, saying he had come a long way. Whereupon a man said, thou shalt
rest in my house; I guess thee to be a shepherd, though thy garb isn't
altogether a shepherd's. But my house is open to him who needs food and
shelter. Lean on my arm.

Let me untie thy sandals, were the next words Jesus heard, and when his
feet were bathed and he had partaken of food and drink and was rested,
the villager, whom Jesus guessed to be a shepherd, began to ask him
about the length of the journey from Jericho to Cæsarea: we're three
hours from Cæsarea, he said; thou must have been walking many hours.
Many hours indeed, Jesus answered. I've come from the Brook Kerith,
which is five miles from Jericho. From the Brook Kerith? the villager
repeated. A shepherd I guessed thee to be. And a fair guess, Jesus
answered. A shepherd I am and in search of a ram of good breeding, sent
on hither by a shepherd. He did but make sport of thee, the villager
answered, for it is I that own the breed that all men would have. So a
shepherd sent thee hither to buy a ram from me? No, Jesus replied, he
said thou wouldst not sell. Then he was an honester shepherd than I
thought for: he would have saved thee a vain journey, and it would have
been well hadst thou listened to his counsel, for I will not part with
the breed; and my hope is that my son will not be tempted to part with
the breed, for it is through our sheep that we have made our riches,
such small riches as we possess, he added, lest he should appear too
rich in the eyes of a stranger. If thou'lt not sell I must continue my
journey farther, Jesus answered. In quest of a ram? the shepherd said.
But thou'lt not find any but long-backed brutes tucked up in the belly
that offend the eye and are worse by far than a hole in the pocket. With
such rams the hills abound. But get thee the best, though the best may
be bad, for every man must work according to his tools.

If thou asked me for anything but my breed of sheep I would have given
it, for thy face and thy speech please me, but as well ask me for my
wife or my daughter as for my rams. Be it so, Jesus answered, and he
rose to continue his way, but his host said that having taken meat and
drink in his house he must sleep in it too, and Jesus, being tired,
accepted the bed offered to him. He could not have fared farther; there
was no inn nor public guest-room, and in the morning his host might be
in the humour to part with a ram for a great sum of money. But the
morning found his host in the same humour regarding his breed of
sheep--determined to keep it; but in all other things willing to serve
his guest. Jesus bade him good-bye, sorry he could not persuade him but
liking him all the same.

In two hours he was near the cultivated lands of Cæsarea, and it seemed
to him that his best chance of getting news of a ram would be to turn
westward, and finding bed and board in every village, he travelled far
and wide in search of the fine rams that he had once caught sight of in
those parts. But the rams of yore seemed to have disappeared altogether
from the country: thou mayest journey to Cæsarea and back again, but
thou'lt not find anything better than that I offer thee one man said to
Jesus, whereupon Jesus turned his back upon Cæsarea and began the return
journey sad and humble, but with hope still a-flutter in his heart, for
he continued to inquire after rams all the way till he came one bright
morning to the village in which lived the owner of the great breed of
sheep that he coveted, honourably coveted, he muttered to himself, but
coveted heartily.

The sun was well up at the time, and Jesus had come by the road leading
up from the coast. He had passed over the first ridge, and had begun to
think that he must be near the village in which the man lived who owned
the great breed of sheep when his thoughts were interrupted by a lamb
bleating piteously, and, looking round, he saw one running hither and
thither, seeking his dam. Now the lamb seeming to him a fine one, he was
moved to turn back to the village to tell the man he had lodged with
that a lamb of his breed had lost the ewe. Thou sayest well, the man
answered, and that lamb will seek vainly, for the ewe hurt her hoof, and
we kept her in the house so that she might be safer than with my
shepherd out on the hills, and the luck we have had is that a panther
broke into our garden last night. We thought he had killed the lamb as
well, but he only took the ewe, and the lamb thou bringest me tidings
of will be dead before evening. My thanks to thee, shepherd, for thy
pains. But, said Jesus, thou'lt sell me the lamb that runs bleating
after ewe, on the chance that I shall rear him? Whereat the villager
smiled and said: it seems hard to take thy money for naught, for thou
hast a pleasant face; but who knows what luck may be with thee. For a
shekel thou shalt have the lamb. Jesus paid the shekel, and his eyes
falling upon a bush in whose stems he knew he should find plenty of sap,
he cut some six or seven inches off, and, having forced out the sap,
showed it to the villager, and asked him for a rag to tie round the end
of it. I hardly know yet what purpose thou'lt put this stem to, the
shepherd said, but he gave Jesus the rag he asked for, and Jesus
answered: I've a good supply of ewe's milk drawn from the udder scarce
an hour ago. Thou hast ewe's milk in thy bottle! the villager said. Then
it may be I shall lose my breed through thoughtlessness. And it was with
a grave face that he watched Jesus tie a rag around the hollow stem.

He put the stem into the lamb's jaws and poured milk down it, feeding
the lamb as well as the ewe could have done. It may be I shall get him
home alive, Jesus muttered to himself. Thou'lt do it, if luck be with
thee, and if thou canst rear him my breed has passed from me. Thou'lt be
rewarded for taking my shekel, Jesus answered. A fine lamb for a month,
the villager remarked. One that will soon begin to weigh heavy in my
bosom, Jesus answered; a true prophecy, for after a few miles Jesus was
glad to let him run by his side; and knowing now no other mother but
Jesus, he trotted after him as he might after the ewe: divining perhaps,
Jesus said to himself, the leathern bottle at my girdle.

But very soon Jesus had to carry him again, and, despite his weight,
they were at noon by the well at the end of the oak wood. Lamb, we'll
sleep awhile together in a pleasant hollow at the edge of the wood. Lay
thyself down and doze. The lamb was obedient, but before long he awoke
Jesus with his bleating. He wants some milk, he said, and undid the
leather girdle and placed the feeding-pipe into the lamb's mouth. But
before giving him milk he was moved to taste it: for if the milk be
sour---- The milk has soured, he said, and the poor bleating thing will
die in the wood, his bleatings growing fainter and fainter. He'll look
into my face, wondering why I do not give him the bottle from which he
took such a good feed only a few hours ago; and while Jesus was thinking
these things the lamb began to bleat for his milk, and as Jesus did not
give it to him he began to run round in search of the ewe, and Jesus let
him run, hoping that a wild beast would seize and carry him away and
with his fangs end the lamb's sufferings quicker than hunger could.

But no wolf or panther was in the thicket, and the lamb returned to him:
brought back, he said, by a memory of the bottle. But, my poor wee lamb,
there is no sweet milk in my bottle, only sour, which would pain thee.
Think no more of life, but lie down and die: we shall all do the same
some day.... Thy life has been shorter than mine, and perhaps better for
that. No, I've no milk for thee and cannot bear to look in thy face: run
away again in search of the ewe and find instead the panther that took
her. Poor little lamb, dying for milk in this wild place. So thou hast
returned to me, having found neither ewe nor panther. Go, and seek a
wolf, he will be a better friend to thee than I.

He had seen many lambs die and did not understand why he should feel
more pain at this lamb's death than another's. But it was so; and now
all his hopes and fears centred in this one thing that Fate had
confided to his bosom. A little milk would save it, but he had no milk.
He might pick him up and run, calling to the shepherds, but none would
hear. I cannot listen to his bleating any longer, he said, and tried to
escape from the lamb, but he was followed round the trees, and just as
he was about to climb into one out of the lamb's sight his nostrils
caught the scent of fleeces coming up the hillside. A shepherd is
leading his flock to the well-head, he said, so, wee lamb, thou wilt not
die to-day, and, addressing himself to the shepherd, he said: I've got a
lamb of the right breed, but have no milk to give him. Canst thou pay
for it? the shepherd asked; and Jesus said, I can, and the shepherd
called a ewe and the lamb was fed.

Well, luck is in thy way, the shepherd said, for I was on my way to
another well, and cannot tell what came into my mind and turned me from
it and brought me up here. Every life, Jesus said, is in the hands of
God, and it was not his will to let this lamb die. Dost believe, the
shepherd answered, that all is ordered so? And Jesus answered him:
thou'lt fill my bottle with milk? The shepherd said: I will; but thou
hast still a long way before the lamb can be fed again. Hide thy bottle
under a cool stone in yon forest and in the evening the milk will still
be sweet and thou canst feed thy lamb again and continue thy journey by
starlight. But these hills are not my hills; mine are yonder, Jesus
said, and at night all shapes are different. No matter, the way is
simple from this well, the shepherd answered, and he gave Jesus such
directions as he could follow during the night. Now mind thee, he
continued, look round for a shepherd at daybreak. He'll give thee fresh
milk for thy lamb and by to-morrow evening thou'lt be by the Brook
Kerith. And this advice appearing good to Jesus, he turned into the
shade of the trees with his lamb, and both slept together side by side
till the moon showed like a ghost in the branches of the trees.

It was time then to feed the lamb, and the milk being sweet in the
bottle, the lamb drank it greedily; and when he had drunk enough Jesus
was tempted to drink what the lamb could not drink, for he was thirsty
after eating his bread, but he went to the well and took a little water
instead, and lay down, telling the lamb that he might sleep but a little
while, for they must be ready at midnight to travel again. If we meet a
shepherd thou livest, if he fail us thou diest. Jesus said, and seeing a
shepherd leaving a cavern at dawn with his flock, Jesus called to him
and bought milk from him and once more the twain continued their
journey, the lamb becoming so dependent on the shepherd that Jesus took
pleasure sometimes in hiding himself behind a rock, and as soon as the
lamb missed him he would run to and fro bleating in great alarm till he
found Jesus; and when he came upon him he thrust his nozzle into Jesus'
hand.

It was then more than at any time he delighted in being carried. No, my
good lamb, I've carried thee far and now can barely carry myself to the
bridge; and the lamb had to follow to the bridge, and they began to
ascend the terraces together, but the steep ascents very soon began to
tire him, and the lamb lay down and bleated for Jesus to take him up in
his arms, which he did, but, overcome with the weariness of a long
journey, he had to lay him down after a few paces. Yet he would not
surrender the lamb to the brethren who came and offered to carry him,
saying: I have carried him so far and will carry him to the end, but ye
must let me rest on your arms. Meanwhile, fetch me a little milk, for
the lamb has had all that I could buy from the shepherds on the hills,
and do not ask how I became possessed of this lamb, for I am too tired
to tell the story. So did he speak, holding the lamb to his bosom; and
leaning on the arm of one of the brethren while another pushed from
behind, and in this exhausted state he reached the cenoby.

Now I must feed my lamb; go to Brother Amos and ask him to bring some
ewe's milk at once. But the brethren were loath to go, saying: Brother
Amos is feeding his sheep far from here, but will return in the evening.
But the lamb must be fed every three or four hours, Jesus answered, and
do ye go at once to Amos and tell him to bring the milk at once. He must
not be kept waiting for his milk. Now look at him and say if any of ye
have seen a finer lamb. I can speak no more, but will sleep a little as
soon as I have placed him in a basket. But wake me up as soon the milk
comes, for I will trust none to feed him but myself, and he dropped off
to sleep almost on these words.

The Essenes, understanding that the lamb had caused Jesus a long search,
went after Amos as they were bidden, and finding him not as far as they
thought for with his flock, they related to him Jesus' request that he
should bring some ewe's milk at once, which he did, and seeing Jesus in
deep sleep he said: it is a pity to waken him, for I know how to feed a
lamb as well as he does. May I not? But the Essenes said: he'll be vexed
indeed if the lamb be fed by any but him. So be it, Amos answered; and
they roused Jesus with difficulty, for his sleep was deep, and when he
opened his eyes he knew not where he was for some time. At last memory
returned to him, and, struggling from the couch, he said: I must feed my
lamb. The milk is fresh from the ewe? he asked. Yes, Jesus, Amos
answered, I have just drawn it from the udder. As soon as he is old
enough to run with the flock I'll bring him, Jesus said, and thou'lt be
free to return to the Scriptures.

And having asked that he might be awaked in four hours his eyes closed,
which is not to be wondered at, he having slept hardly at all for four
days. Does he put his lamb before the Scriptures? the Essenes asked each
other, and they withdrew, shaking their heads.



CHAP. XXVII.


Jesus fell back into sleep as soon as the lamb was fed, and it was in
this second sleep of more than six hours that he regained his natural
strength. Has Joseph returned? he asked on awakening, and the brother
nearest him answered that he had not; whereupon Jesus asked that Hazael
should come to him, and he said to him: Hazael, Joseph told thee that as
soon as his business was transacted in Jericho he would return hither,
and if that were not possible the delay would not be long. But four days
have passed and we haven't seen him nor have we news of him. Now how is
this? He couldn't have heard in Jericho nor in Jerusalem of my faring
among the hills of Cæsarea in search of a lamb. It was only on those
hills that I might find a lamb that would recover for us the strength
that has gone out of the flock. And I would that Joseph were here to see
him that I've brought back. My heart misgives me. Thou'lt feed him in my
absence, he said to one of the brethren, and I'll go down on to the
terraces and wander across the bridge, for on the hills over yonder I
may catch sight of Joseph coming to meet me. Can none tell me if he will
come from Jericho or Jerusalem? A brother cried that he would feed the
lamb as Jesus directed, and the brethren at work among the fig-trees
spoke to each other of the grief visible on Jesus' face as he passed
them and questioned each other and sought a reason for it. Has the lamb
fallen sick? one asked, and on that thought they ran up the terraces to
inquire for the lamb, who, that day, had been given the name of Cæsar.
The lamb sleeps in peace, Hazael answered, but Jesus, his saviour, has
gone out in great disorder of mind to get tidings of Joseph, the great
trader in figs and dates. He promised to return the same evening after
transacting his business in Jericho, Hazael continued. Four days have
passed away without news of him; some misfortune may have befallen him.
May have! Hazael repeated under his breath as he walked away. _Has_
befallen him without doubt.

The brethren waited for Jesus to return, but he did not return to them;
and at nightfall a watch was set at the bridge head, and the same was
done for many succeeding days, till the story reached the Brook Kerith
that Joseph had been killed in the streets of Jerusalem by order of the
Zealots. Priests never forget to revenge themselves on those that do not
submit to their ideas and exactions, Hazael muttered, thereby stirring
the curiosity of the brethren; but he could not tell them more, Joseph's
relation having been insufficient to make plain the truth that Joseph,
as Jesus' friend, must have earned the High Priest's displeasure. A very
little suspicion, he said to himself, is enough to bring about the death
of a man in our days; and the priests were always jealous and afraid of
prophets. Is then our Jesus a prophet? Saddoc asked, and Manahem's eyes
were full of questions. I can tell ye no more than I've said already,
Hazael answered, and the brethren forgot their curiosity, for their
hearts were stirred with pity. A great grief it surely will be, they
said to one another, when Jesus returns and hears that his friend is
dead, and they asked which among them should be the one to tell him of
this great loss that had befallen him. Not I, said one, nor I, another
answered, and as they passed into their cells it was the opinion of all
that Hazael should tell him.

Next morning when they came forth from their cells, after giving thanks
for the returning light, they stood on the hillside, hoping that every
minute would bring them sight of Jesus returning. At last a shepherd
came through the dusk, but it was not Jesus but Amos coming towards
them, and the news he brought was that he had met Jesus on the hills
wandering like one of disordered mind. He has taken my sheep from me and
has lost them, I fear. But why, the brethren cried, didst thou leave thy
sheep to him? To which Amos could make no straightforward answer: all he
knew was that he had met Jesus and been greatly frightened by his speech
and his show of gestures and demeanour. All the same, he said, I felt I
had better let him have the sheep. And the brethren said: ruin has
befallen us this time. We know the reason of the disordered mind that
thou tellest of. Joseph was slain by the Zealots in Jerusalem by order
of the priests, and the tidings must have come to Jesus as he wandered
out on to the hills seeking his friend, and it was they that robbed him
of his mind. We are ruined, the brethren cried, for our sheep are with
him, and he without thought for anything but his grief. Amos could not
answer them nay, for their words seemed to him but the truth, and they
all returned to the cenoby to mourn for Jesus and themselves till Jesus
was brought back to them by some shepherds who found him wandering,
giving no heed to the few sheep that followed him; only a few had
escaped the wolves, and the brethren charged Amos with the remnant,
muttering among themselves: his heart is broken. He is without knowledge
of us or the world around him. But why does he turn aside from our
dwelling preferring to lie with his dogs under the rocks? It is for that
our dwelling reminds him of Joseph. It was here he saw him last, Manahem
replied. It will be well to leave him to wander at will, giving him food
if his grief allows him to come for it; any restraint would estrange him
from us, nor may we watch him, for when the mind is away man is but
animal; and animals do not like watchful eyes. We may only watch over
him lest he do himself bodily harm, Eleazar said, There is no harm,
Manahem said, he can do himself, but to walk over the cliffs in a dream
and so end his misery. We would not that the crows and vultures fed on
Jesus, Caleb answered. We must watch lest he fall into the dream of his
grief.... But he lives in one. Behold him now. He sees not the cliffs
over yonder nor the cliffs beneath. Nor does he hear the brook murmur
under the cliffs. Grief is a wonderful thing, Manahem said, it
overpowers a man more than anything else; it is more powerful even than
the love of God, but it wears away; and in this it is unlike the love of
God, which doesn't change, and many of us have come here so that we may
love God the better without interruptions. It is strange, Eleazar said,
that one who loves God as truly as Jesus, should abandon himself to
grief. Eleazar's words caused the Essenes to drop into reveries and
dreams, and when they spoke out of these their words were: his grief is
more like despair. And in speaking these words they were nearer the
truth than they suspected, for though Jesus grieved and truly for
Joseph, there was in his heart something more than mortal grief.

It often seemed to him as he sat gazing across the abyss that his
temerity in proclaiming himself the Messiah was punished enough by
crucifixion: the taking from him of the one thing that crucifixion had
left behind often put the thought into his mind that God held him
accursed; and in his despair he lost faith in death, believing he would
be held accursed for all eternity. He forgot to take food and drink; he
fed upon his grief and would have faded out of life if Cæsar had not
conceived a dislike to his keeper and run bleating among the rocks till
he came upon Jesus whom he recognised at once and refused to leave,
thrusting a nozzle into Jesus' hand and lying down by his side. Nor
could the brethren beguile the lamb from Jesus with milk, and Jesus
taking pity on the faithful animal said: give me the feeding bottle, I
will feed him. Whereupon Cæsar began to bleat, and so cheerfully, that
all conceived a new affection for him, but he had none for anybody but
Jesus, whom he followed about the cliffs as a dog might, lying down at
his side.

The twain strayed together whither there was scarce foothold for either,
and the brethren said as they watched them: if Cæsar were to miss his
footing and fall over the edge, the last link would be broken and Jesus
would go over after him. But sheep and goats never miss their footing, a
brother answered. It is fortunate, another replied, that Cæsar should
have attached himself to Jesus. He seems to say, I get happier and
happier every day, and his disposition will react on Jesus and may win
him out of his melancholy.

And it seemed as if the brother had guessed rightly, for though Jesus'
face showed no interest in the brethren, nor in the cenoby, he seemed to
enjoy the sympathy of the dumb animal. He liked to call to Cæsar and to
lay his hand upon Cæsar's head, and to look into his eyes, and in those
moments of sympathy the brethren said: he forgets his grief. But Cæsar
is coming into ramhood, Saddoc answered, and will have to go away with
the flock. There were brethren who cried out against this: let the flock
perish rather than Jesus should be deprived of Cæsar. Wouldst have him
remain when he is a great ram? Manahem asked, and the others answered:
yes, for Jesus takes no thought for anything but Cæsar, and the
brethren conferred together, and spent much thought in trying to
discover a remedy other than Cæsar for Jesus' grief.

But one day Jesus said to the brethren: Cæsar is coming into ramhood,
and I must take him away to the hills, he must come with me and join the
ewes. Art thou going to be our shepherd again? said they. If ye will
entrust the flock to me. My thoughts will never wander from it again.
Jesus spoke the words significantly, and many of the brethren believed
that he would prove himself to be the great shepherd that he was of
yore, but others said: his grief will break out upon him on the hills;
but these counsels were overruled by Manahem and Saddoc. Jesus, Saddoc
said, never smiles and his words are few, but he is himself again, and
the best shepherd that ever walked these hills is worse than he, so it
is said. He lost a few sheep, Manahem said, in the first days of his
great grief, but his mind is altogether now on the encouragement of the
flock and Amos is wearied of it and would return to the reading of the
Scriptures. Thou speakest well, Manahem, Saddoc returned, for it was in
his mind as it was in Manahem's that the sight of men and the sound of
men's voices were a torture to Jesus, and that he longed for solitude
and silence and the occupation of the flock.

The cenoby will never be the same again without our pet, some of the
brethren cried, but others said: it must be so. We'll go to see Cæsar's
lambs, they cried, as he was being led away. There will be no lambs by
Cæsar this spring, Jesus answered. He'll run with the ewes and that's
about all; for a ram is not fit for service till he is two years old.
Whereupon the distraction of Jesus' grief being removed from the
cenoby, the Essenes fell to talking again of the great schism and what
came of it. Are our brothers happier in wedlock than we are in celibacy?
was the question they often put to each other on the balcony; and a
sudden meeting of thoughts set them comparing the wives beyond Jordan
with the ewes of the hills. Which are the most fruitful? they asked
themselves; and it was averred that though twin lambs were of equal
worth, it might fall out in the strange destinies that beset human life
that one of human twins might be a robber and the other a devout Essene.

On a balcony overhanging an abyss some hundred feet in depth, through
which a brook sings a monotonous song, men may dream a long while on the
problem of destiny, and on awaking from their different meditations it
was natural that they should speak about the difficulties the brethren
by the lake would experience when they set themselves to discover women
who would accept the rule of life of the Essenes and for no enjoyment
for themselves, but that the order might not perish, and with it
holiness pass out of the world.

Of what women will they possess themselves? a brother often asked. Not
Jewish women, who would prefer to join themselves with Pharisees or
Sadducees rather than with Essenes, and the converts, the brother
continued, that might be made among the Gentile women from Mesopotamia
and Arabia could not be counted upon to produce pious children, though
the fathers that begot the children might be themselves of great piety.
These words put the thought into another brother's mind, that a woman
is never faithful to one man, an abiding doctrine among the Essenes: and
the group of three, Caleb, Eleazar and Benjamin, began to speak of the
stirs and quarrels that these converts would provoke in the cenoby. For
even amongst those who have renounced women, there are always a few that
retain a longing for women in their heart, and the smouldering embers
will burst into flame at the sight of woman. Is not that so, Benjamin?
There is much truth in thy words, Caleb, Benjamin answered, and I would
know if they partition off the women into an enclosure by themselves,
and only take them out at a time judged to be the fruitfullest, for it
is not lawful for us to experience pleasure, and as soon as the women
are with child, the brethren we have left behind, I trust, withdraw from
the company of their wives. Unless, said Eleazar, all the rules of our
order be abolished. We did well to leave them, Caleb answered. And then,
posing his small fat hands on the parapet, he said: women have ever been
looked upon as man's pleasure, and our pleasures are as wolves, and our
virtues are as sheep, and as soon as pleasure breaks into the fold the
sheep are torn and mangled. We're better here with our virtues than they
by the lake with their pleasures.

Trouble has begun amongst them already, Eleazar said, and Benjamin
turned to ask him if he had gotten news of the brethren by the lake; and
he answered that yesterday a shepherd told him that many brothers had
left the settlement. We did well, Caleb said, to cherish our celibacy,
and the price of living on this rock was not too high a price for it.
But tell us what thou hast heard, Eleazar. Eleazar had heard that
troubles were begun, but he hoped children would bring peace to all. But
all women aren't fruitful, Caleb said, and Benjamin was vexed with
Eleazar because he hadn't asked how many women were already quick. And
they fell to talking scandal, putting forward reasons why some of the
brethren should separate themselves from their wives.

Perhaps we shall never know the why and the wherefore, Eleazar said, it
being against our rules to absent ourselves without permission from the
cenoby, and if we were to break this rule, Hazael might refuse to
receive us again. We should wander on the hills seeking grass and roots,
for our oaths are that we take no food from strangers. Yet I'd give much
to hear how our brethren, for they are our brethren, fare with their
wives.

And when they met on the balcony, the elder members of the community,
Hazael, Mathias, Saddoc and Manahem, like the younger members conferred
together as to whether any good could come to those that had taken wives
to themselves for their pleasure. Not for their pleasure, Hazael said,
but that holiness may not pass out of the world for ever. But as
holiness, Mathias was moved to remark, is of the mind, it cannot be
affected by any custom we might impose upon our corporeal nature.
Whereupon a disputation began in which Manahem urged upon Mathias that
if he had made himself plain it would seem that his belief was that
holiness was not dependent upon our acts; and if that be so, he asked,
why do we live on this ledge of rock? To which question Mathias
answered that the man whose mind is in order need not fear that he will
fall into sin, for sin is but a disorder of the mind.

A debate followed regarding the relation of the mind to the body and of
the body to the mind, and when all four were wearied of the old
discussion, Saddoc said: is it right that we should concern ourselves
with these things, asking which of the brothers have taken wives, and
how they behave themselves to their wives? It seems to me that Saddoc is
right, these matters don't concern us who have no wives and who never
will have. But, said Manahem, though this question has been decided so
far as our bodies are concerned, are we not justified in considering
marriage as philosophers may, no subject being alien to philosophy? Is
not that so, Mathias? No subject is alien to philosophy, Mathias agreed,
to which Saddoc replied: we could discuss this matter with profit if we
knew which of the brothers had taken to himself a wife; but only rumours
reach us here; and the brethren looked across the chasm, their thoughts
crossing it easily and passing over the intervening hills down into the
plains and over Jordan. We should no doubt be content, said Manahem,
with our own beliefs, and abide in the choice that we have made without
questioning it further, as Hazael has said. Yet it is hard to keep
thoughts of the brethren we have left out of our minds. How are we,
Hazael, to remain unmoved when rumours touching on the lives of those we
have left behind reach us? Is it not merely natural that we should
desire to hear how our brethren fare in married life? Dost think,
Hazael, that those we left behind never ask each other how we fare in
our celibacy? Man is the same all the world over inasmuch as he would
like to hear he has avoided the pitfall his brother has fallen into. It
is said, Manahem continued, that the elders yonder are disturbed now as
to whether they too should take wives, though in the great disputation
that we took part in, it was decided that marriage should be left to the
younger and more fruitful. Wherefore, if it is said that trouble has
come, Hazael answered, we should be sorry for our weak brethren, and if
stories reach us, he continued, we should receive them with modesty: we
should not go out to seek stories of the misfortunes of those who have
not been as wise as we, and of all we should not wish to go down to
Jordan to inquire out the truth of these stories; Caleb and Benjamin ask
betimes for leave to visit them. Eleazar, too, has asked; but I have
refused them always, knowing well whither their curiosity would lead
them. Lest, Mathias interposed, they bring back the spirit and sense of
women with them.

A flock of doves crossing over the chasm on quick wings put an end to
the discourse, and as no more stories reached them who dwelt in the
cavern above the Brook Kerith regarding the behaviour of the wives to
their husbands and of the husbands towards their wives, the thoughts of
the younger brethren reverted to Cæsar, and to the admiration of the
ewes for his beauty. A year later, when Jesus came down from the hills,
he was met with cries of: how fares it with Cæsar? Does he tire on the
hills? When will the ewes begin to drop their lambs? A buzz of talk
began at once in the cenoby when the news arrived that Cæsar's lambs
were appearing, but the brethren could not conceal their disappointment
that they should look like the lambs they had seen before. We expected
the finest lambs ever seen on these hills, they said, and thou hast no
more word to say in praise of them than that they are good lambs. Jesus
answered that in two months he would be better able to judge Cæsar's
lambs, and to choose amongst them some two or three that would continue
the flock worthily. Which? the brethren asked, but Jesus said a choice
would be but guess-work at present, none could pick out the making of a
good ram till past the second month. Caleb marked one which he was sure
would be chosen later, and Benjamin another, and Eleazar another; but
when the time came for Jesus to choose, it was none of these that he
chose, and on hearing of their mistakes, the brethren were disappointed,
and thought no more of the flock, asking only casually for Cæsar, and
forgetting to mourn his decease at the end of the fourth year; his
successor coming to them without romantic story, the brethren were from
henceforth satisfied to hear from time to time that the hills were free
from robbers; that the shepherds had banded together in great wolf
hunts; and that freed from their natural enemies, the wolves and
robbers, the flock had increased in numbers beyond the memory of the
oldest shepherd on the hills.



CHAP. XXVIII.



The brethren waxed rich, and after their midday meal they talked of the
exceeding good fortune that had been vouchsafed to them, dwelling on the
matter so earnestly that a scruple sometimes rose up in their hearts.
Did we do well to forgo all troubles? Do the selfish find favour in
God's sight? they were asking, when Caleb said: we have visitors to-day,
and looking across the chasm they saw three men emerging from the shadow
of the high rock. They may be robbers, Benjamin cried, and we would do
well to tell the brethren working along the terraces to pass the word
down to him who stands by the bridge-head that he is to raise the bridge
and refuse to lower it till the strangers speak to him of their
intentions and convince him that they are peaceful. That is well said,
Benjamin, Eleazar replied: Amos, who is standing by the fig-tree yonder,
will pass on the word. They cried out to him and watched the warning
being passed from Essene to Essene till it reached the brother standing
by the bridge-head. He looked in the direction of the strangers coming
down the path, and then in haste set himself to pull the ropes and press
the levers whereby the bridge was raised and lowered. Now they are
speaking across the brook to each other, Benjamin said: and the group on
the balcony saw the bridge being let down for the strangers to cross
over. It seems to me, Benjamin continued, Bartholomew might have spent
more time inquiring out their intentions. But we are many and they are
few, Caleb answered, and the Essenes on the balcony watched somewhat
anxiously Bartholomew conducting the strangers back and forth through
the terraces. Is not Bartholomew as trustworthy as any amongst us?
Eleazar asked. It isn't likely that he would mistake robbers for
pilgrims; and as if Bartholomew divined the anxiety of those above him
he called up the rocks that the visitors he was bringing were Essenes
from the lake. Essenes from the lake! Caleb cried. Then we shall learn,
Eleazar replied, which is preferable, celibacy or marriage. But we
mustn't speak at once to them of such matters. We must prepare food for
them, which they will require after their long journey. Our president
will be with you in a moment, Bartholomew said, addressing Shallum, a
tall thin man, whose long neck, sloping shoulders and dark round eyes
reminded his brethren of an ungainly bird. His companions, Shaphan and
Eleakim, were of different appearances. Shaphan's skull, smooth and
glistening, rose, a great dome above a crumpled face; he moped like a
sick monkey, dashing tears from his eyes continually, whereas Eleakim, a
sprightly little fellow with half-closed eyes like a pig, agreed that
Shallum should speak for them. Shallum began: we are, as you have
already heard, from the great cenoby at the head of the lake and,
therefore, I need not tell you the reason why you are here and why the
residue are yonder, but will confine myself to the story of our flight
from the lake to the brook. Honourable President and Brethren, it is
known unto you that the division of our order was not brought about by
any other reason than a dispute on both sides for the maintenance of the
order. We know that, Hazael answered, and attribute no sinfulness to the
brethren that differed from us. Our dream, Shallum continued, was to
perpetuate holiness in this world, and our dream abides, for man is a
reality only in his dreams; his acts are but a grotesque of his dream.

At these words the Essenes gathered close together, and with brightening
eyes listened, for they interpreted these words to mean that the
brethren by the lake had fallen headlong into unseasonable pleasures,
whereof they were now reaping the fruit: no sweet one, if the fruit
might be judged by the countenances of their visitors. As I have said,
Shallum continued, it was with us as it has been with men always--our
acts became a mockery of our dreams almost from the beginning, for when
you left us we gave out that we were willing to receive women who would
share our lives and with us perpetuate holiness. We gave out that we
were willing to view all who came and consider their qualifications, and
to take them as wives if they should satisfy us, that they would obey
our rule and bear children; but the women that came in response to our
advertisement, though seemingly of pious and honourable demeanour, were
not satisfied with us. Our rule is, as you brethren know well, to wear
the same smock till it be in rags, and never to ask for a new pair of
sandals till the last pieces of the old pair have left our feet. We
presented, therefore, no fair show before the women who came to us, and
when our rule was told to them, they withdrew, dissatisfied with our
appearances, with the food we ate, and the hours we kept, and of all
with the rule that they should live apart from us, only keeping company
with us at such times when women are believed to be most fruitful. Such
was the first batch in brief; the second batch (they came in batches)
pleaded that they could not be wives for us, it being that we were held
in little esteem by the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and we were
reproved by them for not sending animals for sacrifice to the Temple, a
thing that we must do if we would have them live with us. But it being
against our rule to send animals to the Temple for sacrifice, we bade
them farewell and sent forth messengers into other lands, inviting the
Gentiles to come to us to receive instruction in the Jewish religion,
with promises to them that if our rule of life was agreeable to them,
and they were exact in the appointments of all rites and ceremonies, we
should be willing to marry them after their time of probationship was
over. On this second advertisement, women came to us from Arabia and
Mesopotamia, and though we did not approve of the fine garments they
wore and the sweet perfumes that trailed after them, we liked these
things, as all men do, with our senses; and our minds being filled with
thoughts of the children that would continue the order of the Essenes,
we spoke but little against the fine linen that these women brought and
the perfumes they exhaled, whereby our ruin was consummated. Joazabdus,
our president, himself fell into the temptation of woman's beauty and
was led into sinful acquiescence of a display of the images she had
brought with her; for without a display of them on either side of the
bridal bed she would not permit his embraces. She was of our religion in
all else, having abjured her gods and goddesses at every other moment of
the day and night; but licence of her body she could not grant except
under the eyes of Astarte, and Joazabdus, being a weak man, allowed the
images to remain. As soon as the news of these images spread, we went in
deputation to our president to beg him to cast out the images from our
midst, but he answered us: but one image remains--that of Astarte: none
looks upon it but she, and if I cast out the image that she reverences
she will go hence and with the fruit of my body within her body, and a
saint may be lost to us. But we answered him that even as Jacob set up
parti-coloured rods before the conceiving ewes that they might bear
parti-coloured lambs, so to gaze in the marriage-bed upon the image of
Astarte would surely stamp upon the children that might come the image
of that demon. But he was not to be moved, whereupon we withdrew, saying
to one another: we shall not move him out of his wickedness; and that
was why we went to his brother Daddeus and asked him to accept the
headship of the community in his brother's place. And seeing that he was
unwilling to set himself against his brother, we said: our God comes
before all things, and here we have heathen goddesses in our midst; and
the end of it was that Cozby, that was the Chaldean woman's name, put
poison into Daddeus' food, thinking to establish her rule thereby, but
as soon as the death of Daddeus became known many left the cenoby
polluted in their eyes by heathenism and murder.

So it always falls out, Hazael cried, wine and women have lost the world
many saints. Wine deceives the minds of those that drink it, and it
exalts men above themselves, and leads them into acts that in any other
moment they would shrink from, leaving them more stupid than the
animals. Nor is the temptation of women less violent than that of wine.
Women's beauty is even more potent, for once a man perceives it he
becomes as if blind to all other things; his reason deserts him, he
broods upon it by day, and falls at last, as our brother has told us,
into unseasonable pleasures, like Solomon himself, about whom many
things are related, but not so far as I know that he became so
intoxicated with women's various beauty that he found his pleasure at
last in his own humiliation. If Solomon did not, others have; for there
is a story of a king that allowed his love of a certain queen to take so
great a hold upon him that he asked her to come up the steps of his
throne to strike him on the face, to take his crown from his head and
set it upon her own. This was in his old age, and it is in old age that
men fall under the unreasonable sway of women--he was once a wise man,
so we should refrain from blame, and pity our brethren who have fallen
headlong into the sway of these Chaldean and Arabian women. I might say
much more on this subject, but words are useless, so deeply is the
passion for women ingrained in the human heart. Proceed, therefore,
Brother: we would hear the trouble that women have brought on thee,
Brother Eleakim. At once all eyes were turned towards the little fellow
whose wandering odours put into everybody's mind thoughts of the great
price he must have paid in bracelets and fine linen, but Eleakim told a
different story--that he was sought for himself alone, too much so, for
the Arabian woman that fell to his lot was not content with the chaste
and reasonable intercourse suitable for the begetting of children, the
reason for which they had met, but would practise with him heathen
rites, and of a kind so terrible that one night he fled to his president
to ask for counsel. But the president, who was absorbed in his own
pleasures, drove him from his door, saying that every man must settle
such questions with his wife. Hazael threw up his hands. Say no more,
Brother Eleakim, thou didst well to leave that cenoby. We welcome thee,
and having heard thee in brief we would now hear Brother Shaphan. At
once all eyes were turned towards the short, thick, silent man, who had
till now ventured into no words; and as they looked upon him their
thoughts dwelt on the strange choice the curator had made when he chose
Brother Shaphan for a husband; for though they were without knowledge of
women, their sense told them that Brother Shaphan would not be pleasing
to a woman. But Eleakim's story had prepared them for every strange
taste, and they waited eagerly for Shaphan. But Shaphan had not spoken
many words when tears began to roll down his cheeks, and the brethren of
the Brook Kerith bethought themselves that it might be a kindly act to
avert their eyes from him till he recovered his composure; but as his
grief continued they sought to comfort him, telling him that his
troubles were now ended. He would not, however, lift his face from his
hands at their entreaty, and his companions said that the intervals
between his tears since he was married were never long. At these words
Shaphan lifted his face from his hands and dashed some tears from his
eyelids. He will tell us now, the brethren said to themselves, but he
only uttered a few incoherent words, and his face sank back into his
hands.

And it was then that Jesus appeared at the end of the domed gallery.
Hazael signed to one of the brethren to bring a chair to him, and when
Jesus was seated Hazael told him who the strangers were in these words:
great trouble has fallen upon our order, he said, the wives the brethren
have taken unto themselves against my counsel have not obeyed their
husbands. Wilt tell our Brother Jesus the trouble that has befallen
those that stayed by the lake, Shallum? I will, Shallum replied, for it
will please him to hear my story and it will be a satisfaction to me to
tell the quarrels that set my wife and me apart till at last I was
forced to send her back to her own people. My story will be profitable
to you, though you are without wives, for to err is human. The brethren
were at once all ear for the new story, but Shallum was so prolix in his
telling of his misfortunes that the brethren begged him to tell them
again of the ranging of the gods and goddesses on either side of the
president's marriage-bed. He paid no heed to them, however, but
proceeded with his own story, and so slow was his procedure that Hazael
had to interrupt him again. Shallum, he said, it is clear to me that our
shepherd has come with some important tidings to me, and it will be
kind of thee to forgo the rest of thy story for the present at least,
till I have conferred with our shepherd. I should have been loath, Jesus
interposed, to interrupt a discourse which seems to be pleasing to you
all and which would be to me too if I had knowledge of the matters which
concern you, but the differences of men with their wives and wives with
their husbands are unknown to me, my life having been spent on the hills
with rams and ewes. As he said these words a smile came into his eyes.
The first smile I have seen on his face for many years, Hazael said to
himself, and Jesus continued: I have left my flock in charge of my
serving boy, for I have come to tell the president that he must not be
disappointed if many sheep are lost on the hills this year; robbers
having hidden themselves again in the caves and fortified themselves
among cliffs so difficult that to capture them soldiers must be let down
in chests and baskets--a perilous undertaking this is, for the robbers
are armed and determined upon revolt against Herod, who they say is not
a Jew, and holds his power in Judea from the Romans. They are robbers
inasmuch as they steal my sheep, but they are men who value their
country higher than their lives. This I know, for I have conferred with
them: and Jesus told the Essenes a story of an old man who lived in a
cave with his family of seven, all of whom besought him to allow them to
surrender to the Romans. Cowards, he said, under his breath, and made
pact with them that they should come out of the cave one by one, which
they did, and as they came he slew them and threw their bodies into the
precipice, sons and daughters, and then he slew his wife, and after
reproaching Herod with the meanness of his family, although he was then
a king, he threw himself from the cliff's edge.

It is a great story that thou tellest, Jesus, Manahem said, and it is
well to hear that there are great souls still amongst us, as in the days
of the Maccabees. However this may be, Saddoc interposed, these men in
their strife against the Romans must look to our flocks for food. Three
sheep were taken from me last night, Jesus answered, and the rest will
go one by one, two by two, three by three, unless the revolt be quelled.
And if the revolt be not quelled, Saddoc continued, the robbers will
need all we have gotten, which is little; they may even need our cave
here, and unless we join them they will cast us over the precipices. It
was to ask: are we to take up arms against these robbers that I came
hither, Jesus said. You will confer amongst yourselves, brethren, Hazael
said, and will forgive me if I withdraw: Jesus would like to speak with
me privately.

The Essenes bowed, and Hazael walked up the domed gallery with Jesus,
and as soon as they disappeared at the other end Shallum began: your
shepherd tells you the truth; the hills are once more infested with the
remains of Theudas' army. But who may Theudas be? one of the brethren
asked. So you have not heard, Shallum cried, of Theudas, and you living
here within a few miles of the track he followed with his army down to
Jordan. Little news reaches us here, Saddoc said, and he asked Shallum
to tell of Theudas, and Shallum related how Theudas had gathered a great
following together in Jerusalem and provoked a great uprising of the
people whom he called to follow him through the gates of the city, which
they did, and over the hills as far as Jordan. The current of the river,
he said, will stop, and the water rise up in a great wall as soon as I
impose my hands. We have no knowledge if the waters would have obeyed
his bidding, for before the waters had time to divide a Roman soldier
struck off the prophet's head and carried it to Jerusalem on a spear,
where the sight of it was well received by the priests, for Theudas
preached against the Temple, against the law, and the traditions as John
and his disciples had done beforetimes. A great number, he continued,
were slain by the Roman soldiers, and the rest dispersed, having hidden
themselves in the caves, and become robbers and rebels. Nor was Theudas
the last, he began again, there was another, an Egyptian, a prophet or a
sorcerer of great repute, at whose bidding the people assembled when he
announced that the walls of the city would fall as soon as he lifted up
his hands. They must follow him through the breach into the desert to
meet the day of judgment by the Dead Sea. And what befell this last
prophet? Saddoc asked. He was pursued by the Roman soldiers, Eleakim
cried, starting out of a sudden reverie. And was he taken prisoner?
Manahem asked. No, for he threw a rope into the air and climbed out of
sight, Eleakim answered. He must have been a great prophet or an angel
more like, for a prophet could not climb up a rope thrown into the air,
Caleb said. No, a prophet could not do that. But it is easier, Shaphan
snorted, to climb up a rope thrown into the air than to return to a
wife, if the flesh be always unwilling. At the words all eyes were
turned to Shaphan, who seemed to have recovered his composure. It is a
woeful thing to be wedded, he cried. But why didst thou accept a wife?
Manahem asked. Why were ye not guided by our counsels? We hoped, Shaphan
said, to bring saints into the world and we know not yet that robbers
may not be the fruit of our wives' wombs. But if the flesh was always
unwilling, Manahem answered, thou hast naught to fear. It would be
better, Shallum interrupted, to turn us adrift on the hills than that we
should return to the lake where all is disorder now. Ye are not many
here, Eleakim said, to defend yourselves against robbers, and we have
hands that can draw swords. Our president alone can say if ye may
remain, Manahem said; he is in the gallery now and coming towards us.
Our former brethren, Hazael, have renounced their wives, Manahem began,
and would return to us and help to defend our cave. You come submissive
to our wisdom? Hazael asked. The three strangers replied that they did
so, and Hazael stood, his eyes fixed on the three strangers. We will
defend you against robbers if these would seek to dispossess you of your
cave, Eleakim cried. We have but two cells vacant, Hazael said. It
matters not to us where we sleep if we sleep alone; and the president
smiling at Shaphan's earnestness said: but three more mouths to feed
will be a strain upon our stores of grain. Even though there be three
more mouths to feed, Shallum answered, there will be six more hands to
build a wall against the robbers. To build a wall against robbers?
Hazael said. It is a long while we have been dreaming of that wall; and
now it seems the time has come to hold a council. We have been speaking
of a wall to protect us against robbers ever since we came here, Manahem
cried, and Saddoc answered: we have delayed too long, we must build: the
younger brethren will reap the benefit of our toil.

We all seem to be in favour of the wall, Hazael said. Are there no
dissentients? None. For the next year or more we shall be builders
rather than interpreters of the Scriptures. Mathias will come to the
wall to discourse to us, Caleb interjected, and Saddoc answered him:
whatsoever may befall us, we are certain of one thing, we shall always
be listening to Mathias. But Mathias is a man of great learning, Caleb
replied. Of Greek learning may be, Saddoc answered. But even that is not
sure, some years ago---- But if Greek wisdom be of no value why is it
taught here? Caleb interrupted, and the old Essene answered: that Greek
wisdom was not taught in the Brook Kerith, but Greek reasoning was
applied to the interpretation of Scripture. But there will be no
occasion for Mathias' teaching for some years. Years, sayest thou,
Saddoc? Amos interjected. I spoke plainly, did I not? Saddoc answered.
If it will take us years to build the wall, Amos said, we may as well
save ourselves the trouble of becoming builders, for the robbers will be
upon us before it is high enough to keep them out; we shall lose our
lives before a half-finished wall, and methinks I might as well have
been left to my flock on the hills. Thou speakest truly, Saddoc replied,
for I doubt if thou wilt prove a better builder than thou wast a
shepherd. If my sheep were poor, thy interpretations of the Scriptures
are poorer still, Amos said, and the twain fell to quarrelling apart,
while the brethren took counsel together. If this mischief did not
befall them, and a wall twenty feet high and many feet in thickness were
raised, would they be able to store enough food in the cave to bear a
three-months' siege? And would they be able to continue the cultivation
of their figs along the terrace if robbers were at the gates? But a
siege, Manahem answered these disputants, cannot well be, for the
shepherds on the hills would carry the news of the siege to Jericho,
whence troops would be sent to our help, and at their approach the
robbers would flee into the hills. What we have to fear is not a siege,
but a sudden assault; and from a successful assault a wall will save us.
That is true, Saddoc said. And to defend the wall we must possess
ourselves of weapons, Caleb, Benjamin and Eleakim cried; and Shallum
told them that a certain hard wood, of which there was an abundance in
Jericho, could be shaped into cutlasses whereby a man's head might be
struck off at a blow.

At these words the brethren took heart, and Hazael selected Shallum for
messenger to go to Jericho for the wood, and a few days afterwards the
Essenes were busy carving cutlasses for their defence, and designing a
great wall with towers, whilst others were among the cliffs hurling down
great masses of stone out of which a wall would soon begin to rise.

And every day, an hour after sunrise, the Essenes were quarrying stone
and building their wall, and though they had designed it on a great
scale, it rose so fast that in two months they were bragging that it
would protect them against the great robber, Saulous, a pillager of many
caravans, of whom Jesus had much to say when he came down from the
hills. The wall will save you, Jesus said, from him. But who will save
my flock from Saulous, who is besieged in a cave, and comes forth at
night to seek for food for himself and his followers? But if the cave is
besieged? Caleb said, laying down his trowel. The cave has two
entrances, Jesus answered, and he told them that his belief now was that
what remained of the flock should be sent to Jerusalem for sale. The
rams, of course, should be kept, and a few of the best ewes for a flock
to be raised in happier times. These were his words one sad evening, and
they were so convincing that the builders laid down their trowels and
repaired to the vaulted gallery to sit in council. But while they sat
thinking how they might send representatives to the procurator the
robbers were preparing their own doom by seizing a caravan of more than
fifty camels laden with wheat for Jerusalem. A very welcome booty no
doubt it was considered by the robbers, but booty--was not their only
object? They hoped, as the procurator knew well, to bring about an
uprising against Roman rule by means of bread riots, and this last raid
provided him with a reason for a grand punitive expedition. Many troops
of soldiers were sent out with orders to bring all that could be taken
alive into Jerusalem for crucifixion, no mean punishment when carried
out as the procurator meditated it. He saw it in his thoughts reaching
from Jerusalem to Jericho, and a death penalty for all. Pilate's methods
of smoking the robbers out of their caves has not proved a sufficient
deterrent, he said to himself, and a smile came into his face and he
rubbed his hands when the news of the first captures was brought to him,
and every day small batches were announced. We shall wait, he said,
until we have fifty-three, the exact number of camels that were stolen,
and then the populace shall come out with me to view them. The spectacle
will perhaps quench the desire of robbery in everybody who is disposed
to look upon it as an easy way of gaining a livelihood. And the renown
of this crucifixion will spread through Judea. For three days at least
malefactors will be seen dying at distances of half-a-mile, and lest
their sufferings should inspire an attempt at rescue, a decree shall be
placed over every cross that any attempt at rescue will be punishable by
crucifixion, and to make certain that there shall be no tampering with
Roman justice, the soldiers on guard shall be given extra crosses to be
used if a comrade should cut down a robber or give him drugs to mitigate
his agony. And all this was done as had been commanded. The robbers were
exposed at once on the road from Jerusalem, and it was on the first day
of the great crucifixion that Jesus, coming round the shoulder of the
hill with his flock, was brought to a sudden stop before a group of
three.

These, about six or seven hours, a Roman soldier said, in answer to
Jesus' question as to the length of time they had been on their crosses,
not more than six hours, the soldier repeated, and he turned to his
comrade for confirmation of his words. Put a lance into my side, a
robber cried out, and God will reward thee in heaven. Thou hast not
ceased to groan since the first hour. But put a lance into my side, the
robber cried again. I dare not, the soldier answered. Thou'lt hang
easier to-morrow. But all night I shall suffer; put a lance into my
side, for my heart is like a fire within me. And do the same for me,
cried the robbers hanging on either side. All night long, cried the
first robber, the pain and the ache and the torment will last; if not a
lance, give me wine to drink, some strong, heady wine that will dull the
pain. Thy brethren bear the cross better than thou. Take courage and
bear thy pain. I was not a robber because I wished it, my house was set
on fire as many another to obtain recruits. Yon shepherd is no better
than I. Why am I on the cross and not he? His turn may come, who knows,
though he stands so happy among his sheep. To-night he will sleep in a
cool cavern, but I shall linger in pain. Give me drink and I will tell
thee where the money we have robbed is hidden. The money may not be in
the cave, and if it be we might not be able to find it, the soldier
answered; and the crucified cried down to him that he could make plain
the spot. The soldier was not, however, to be bribed, and they told the
crucified that the procurator was coming out to visit the crosses on the
morrow, and would be disappointed if he found dead men upon them instead
of dying men. Shepherd, the soldiers will not help us, canst thou not
help us? Happy shepherd, that will sleep to-night amongst thy sheep.
Come by night and give us poison when these soldiers are asleep. We
will reward thee. Lift not thy hand against Roman justice, the soldier
said to Jesus, lest thou takest his place on the cross. Such are our
orders.

Jesus hurried away through the hills, pursued by memories of the
crucified robbers, and he went on and on, with the intent of escaping
from their cries and faces, till, unable to walk farther, he stopped,
and, looking round, saw the tired sheep, their eyes mutely asking him
why he had come so far, passing by so much good herbage without halting.
Poor sheep, he said, I had forgotten you, but there is yet an hour of
light before folding-time. Go, seek the herbage among the rocks. My
dogs, too, are tired, he added, and want water, and when he had given
them some to drink he sat down, hoping that the crucified might not
return to his eyes and ears. But he need not have hoped: he was too
tired to think of what he had seen and heard, and sat in peace watching
the sunset till, as in a vision, a man in a garden, in an agony of
doubt, appeared to him. He was betrayed by a disciple and taken before
the priests and afterwards before Pilate, who ordered him to be scourged
and crucified, and beneath his cross the multitude passed, wagging their
heads, inviting him to descend if he could detach himself from the
nails. A veil fell and when it was lifted Joseph was bending over him,
and soon after was carrying him to his house. The people of that time
rose up before him: Esora, Matred, and the camel-driver, the scent of
whose sheepskin had led him back to his sheep, and he had given himself
to their service with profit to himself, for it had kept his thoughts
from straying backwards or forwards, fixing them in the present. He had
lived in the ever-fleeting present for many years--how many? The
question awoke him from his reverie, and he sat wondering how it was he
could think so quietly of things that he had put out of his mind
instinctively, till he seemed to himself to be a man detached as much
from hope as from regret. It was through such strict rule that I managed
to live through the years behind me, he said; I felt that I must never
look back, but in a moment of great physical fatigue the past returned,
and it lies before me now, the sting taken out of it, like the evening
sky in tranquil waters. Even the memory that I once believed myself to
be the Messiah promised to the Jews ceases to hurt; what we deem
mistakes are part and parcel of some great design. Nothing befalls but
by the will of God. My mistakes! why do I speak of them as mistakes, for
like all else they were from the beginning of time, and still are and
will be till the end of time, in the mind of God. His thoughts continued
to unroll, it was not long before he felt himself thinking that the
world was right to defend itself against those that would repudiate it.
For the world, he said to himself, cannot be else than the world, a
truth that was hidden from me in those early days. The world does not
belong to us, but to God. It was he that made it, and it is for him to
unmake it when he chooses and to remake us if he chooses. Meanwhile we
should do well to accept his decrees and to talk no more of destroying
the Temple and building it up again in three days. Nor should we trouble
ourselves to reprove the keepers of the Temple for having made
themselves a God according to their own image and likeness, with
passions like a man and angers like a man, thereby falling into
idolatry, for what else is our God but an Assyrian king who sits on a
throne and metes out punishments and rewards? It may be that the priests
will some day come into the knowledge that all things are equal in God's
sight, and that he is not to be won by sacrifices, observances or
prayers, that he has no need of these things, not even of our love, or
it may be that they will remain priests. But though God desires neither
sacrifices, observances, nor even love, it cannot be that we are wholly
divorced from God. It may be that we are united to him by the daily
tasks which he has set us to perform.

Jesus was moved to put his pipes to his lips, and the sheep returned to
him and followed him into the cavern in which they were to sleep that
night.



CHAP. XXIX.


It is a great joy to return to thought after a long absence from it, and
Jesus was not afraid, though once his conscience asked him if he were
justified in yielding himself unreservedly to reason. A man's mind, he
answered, like all else, is part of the Godhead; and at that moment he
heard God speaking to him out of the breeze. My beloved son, he said, we
shall never be separated from each other again. And Jesus replied: not
again, Father, for thou hast returned to me the God that I once knew in
Nazareth and in the hills above Jericho, and lost sight of as soon as I
began to read the Book of Daniel. How many, he asked himself, have been
led by reading that book into the belief that they were the precursors
of the Messiah? We know of Theudas and the Egyptian, and there were many
others whose names have not reached us. But I alone believed myself to
be the Messiah. He was astonished he could remember so great a sin and
not fear God. But I cannot fear God, for I love God, he said; my God
neither forgives nor punishes, and if we repent it should be for our own
sakes and not to please God. Moreover, it must be well not to waste too
much time in repentance, for it is surely better to understand than to
repent. We learn through our sins. If it had not been for mine, I
should not have learnt that quires and scrolls lead men from God, and
that to see and hear God we have only to open our eyes and ears. God is
always about us. We hear him in the breeze, and we find him in the
flower. He is in these things as much as he is in man, and all things
are equal in his sight; Solomon is no greater than Joshbekashar.

He had not remembered the old shepherd, who had taught him all he knew
about sheep, for many a day. It is nigh on five and forty years, he said
to himself, since he called me to hold the ewes while he made them clean
for the winter. It was in yon cave the flock was folded when I laid
hands on the ewes for the first time and dragged them forward for him to
clip the wool from the rumps. He could see in his memory each different
ewe trotting away, looking as if she were thankful for the shepherd's
kind office towards her. There was something extraordinarily restful in
his memory of old Joshbekashar, and to prolong it Jesus fell to
recalling the old man's words; and every little disjointed sentence
raised up the old man before him. It was but three times that I held the
ewes for him, so it cannot be much more than forty years since that
first clipping. Now I come to think on it, the clipping befell on a day
like to-day. We'll clip our ewes to-day, and it was with a sense of
memorial service in his mind that he called to young Jacob to come to
his aid, saying: Joshbekashar's flock was always folded in yon cave for
this clipping, the only change is that I am the clipper and thou'rt
holding them for me. There are forty-five to be clipped, and just the
same as before each ewe will trot away into the field looking as if she
were thankful at having been made clean for the winter. On these words
both fell to their work, and the cunning hand spent no more than a
minute over each. Stooping over ewes makes one's back ache, he said,
rising from the last one, using the very same words he heard forty years
before from Joshbekashar: time brings back the past! he said. We repeat
the words of those that have gone before while doing their work; and it
is likely we are doing God's work as well by making the ewes clean for
the winter as by cutting their throats in the Temple. All the same
stooping over ewes makes one's back ache, he repeated, for the words
evoked the old shepherd, and he waited for Jacob to answer in the words
spoken by him forty years ago to Joshbekashar. Himself had forgotten his
words, but he thought he would recognise them if Jacob were inspired to
speak them. But Jacob kept silence for shame's sake, for his hope was
that the flock would be given to his charge as soon as old age obliged
Jesus to join his brethren in the cenoby.

Thou'lt be sorry for me, lad, I know that well, but thou hast begun to
look forward to the time when thou'lt walk the hills at the head of the
flock like another; it is but proper that thou shouldst, and it is but
natural that the time should seem long to thee; but take on a little
patience, this much I can vouch for, every bone in me was aching when I
left the cavern this morning, and my sight is no longer what it was.
Master Jesus, I'd as lief wait; the hills will be naught without thee.
Dost hear me, Master? Jesus smiled and dropped back into his meditations
and from that day onward very little sufficed to remind him that he
would end his days in the cenoby reading the Scriptures and interpreting
them. In the cenoby, he said, men do not think, they only read, but in
the fields a shepherd need never lose sight of the thought that leads
him. A good shepherd can think while watching his sheep, and as the
flock was feeding in good order, he took up the thread of a thought to
which he had become attached since his discovery that signs and sounds
of God's presence are never lacking on earth. As God's constant
companion and confidant he had come to comprehend that the world of
nature was a manifestation of the God he knew in himself. I know myself,
he said one day, but I do not know the God which is above, for he seems
to be infinite; nor do I know nature, which is beyond me, for that, too,
seems to run into infinite, but infinite that is not that of God. A few
moments later it seemed to him he might look upon himself as an islet
between two infinities. But to which was he nearer in eternity? Ah, if
he knew that! And it was then that a conviction fell upon him that if he
remained on the hills he would be able to understand many things that
were obscure to him to-day. It will take about two years, he said, and
then many things that are dark will become clear. Two infinites, God and
nature. At that moment a ewe wandering near some scrub caught his
attention. A wolf, he said, may be lurking there. I must bring her back;
and he put a stone into his sling. A wolf is lurking there, he
continued, else Gorbotha would not stand growling. Gorbotha, a
golden-haired dog, like a wolf in build, stood snuffing the breeze,
whilst Thema, his sister, sought her master's hand. A moment after the
breeze veered, bringing the scent to her, and the two dogs dashed
forward into the scrub without finding either wolf or jackal lying in
wait. All the same, he said, a wolf or a jackal must have been lying
there, and not long ago, or else the dogs would not have growled and
rushed to the onset as they did.

They returned perplexed and anxious to their master, who resumed his
meditation, saying to himself that if aching bones obliged him to return
to the cenoby he would have to give up thinking. For one only thinks
well in solitude and when one thinks for oneself alone; but in the
cenoby the brethren think together. All the same my life on the hills is
not over yet, and an hour later he put his pipes to his lips and led his
flock to different hills, for, guided by some subtle sense, he seemed to
divine the springing up of new grass; and the shepherds, knowing of this
instinct for pasturage, were wont to follow him, and he was often at
pains to elude them, for on no hillside is there grass enough for many
flocks.

My poor sheep, he said, as he watched them scatter over a grassy
hillside. Ye're happy this springtime for ye do not know that your
shepherd is about to be taken from you. But he has suffered too much in
the winter we've come out of to remain on the hills many more years.
Before leaving you he must discover a shepherd that will care for you as
well as I have done. Amos is dead; there is no one in the cenoby that
understands sheep. Would ye had speech to counsel me. But tell me, what
would ye say if I were to leave you in Jacob's charge? He stood waiting,
as if he expected the sheep to answer, and it was then it began to seem
to Jesus he might as well entrust his flock to Jacob as to another.

He had sent him out that morning with twenty lambs that were yet too
young to run with the flock, and he now stood waiting for him, thinking
that if he lost none between this day and the end of the summer, the
flock might be handed over to him. Every young man's past is tarnished,
he continued, for he could not forget that Jacob had begun by losing his
master's dogs, two had been killed by panthers. Nor was this the only
misfortune that had befallen him. Having heard that rain had fallen in
the west, he set out for Cæsarea to redeem his credit, he hoped, but at
the end of the fourth day he could find no cavern in which to fold his
sheep, and he lay down in the open, surrounded by his flock,
unsuspicious that a pack of wolves had been trailing him from cavern to
cavern since he left the Jordan valley--the animals divining that their
chance would come at last. It would have been better, Jacob said, if the
wolves had fallen upon him, for after this disaster no one would employ
him, and he had wandered an outcast, living on the charity of shepherds,
sharing a little of their bread. But such charity could not last long
and he would have had to sit with the beggars by the wayside above
Jericho if Jesus had not given his lambs into his charge, by this act
restoring to Jacob some of his lost faith in himself. He had gone away
saying to himself: Jesus, who knows more than all the other shepherds
put together, holds me to be no fool, and one day I'll be trusted again
with a flock. I'm young and can wait, and, who knows, Jesus may tell me
his cure for the scab, and by serving him I may get a puppy when Thema
has a litter. In such wise Jacob looked to Jesus and Thema for future
fortune, and as he came over the ridge and caught sight of Jesus waiting
for him, he said: call up thy dogs, Master, lest they should fall upon
mine and upon me. Gorbotha has already risen to his feet and Thema is
growling.

Jesus laid his staff across their backs. What, will ye attack Jacob, he
cried, and what be your quarrel with his dogs? Poor Syrian dogs, Jacob
answered, that would be quickly killed by thine. If I had had dogs like
Gorbotha and Thema the wolves would not---- But, Jacob, thou wouldst
have lost thy dogs as well as thy sheep. What stand could any dogs make
against a pack of wolves, and a shepherd without dogs is like a bird
without wings, as Brother Amos used to say. Yes, that is just it, Jacob
replied, struck by the aptness of the comparison. Thou art known, Jesus,
to be the most foreseeing shepherd on the hills; but the flock would not
have increased without thy dogs. Abdiel is great in his knowledge of
dogs, and he told me that he had never known any like thine, Master.
Come now, Thema, Jesus cried. Come, lie down here; lay thy muzzle
against my knee. And growl not at Jacob or I'll send thee away. So
Abdiel spoke of my dogs! They are well enough, one can work with them.
But I've had better dogs. Whereupon Jesus told a story how one night he
had lain under a fair sky to sleep and had slept so soundly that the
rain had not wakened him, but Boreth--that was the dog's
name--distressed at the sight of me lying in the rain, began to lick my
face, and when I had wrung out my cloak he led me to a dry cave unknown
to me, though I thought I knew every one in these hills. He must have
gone in search of one as soon as it began to rain, and when he found a
dry one he came back to awaken me. More faithful dogs, he said, there
never were than these at my feet, but I've known stronger and fiercer.
But I'd tell thee another story of Boreth, and he related how one night
in December as he watched, having for his protection only Boreth (his
other dogs, Anos and Torbitt, being at home, one with a lame paw, the
other with puppies), he had fallen asleep, though he knew robbers were
about in the hills, especially in the winter months, he said; but I knew
I could count on Boreth to awake me if one came to steal the sheep. Now
what I'm about to say, Jacob, happened at the time of the great rain of
December, when the nights are dark about us. I was sleeping in a
sheltered place in the coign of a cliff, the flock was folded and Boreth
was away upon his rounds, and it was then that two robbers stole into
the cave. One was about to plunge his dagger into me, but I had time to
catch his wrist and to whistle; and in a few seconds Boreth leapt upon
the robber that was seeking to stab me. He bit his neck and shoulder;
and then, leaving that robber disabled, he attacked the robber's mate,
and it was wonderful how he crept round and round in the darkness,
biting him all the time, and then pursuing the two he worried them up
the valley until his heart misgave him and he thought it wouldn't be
safe to leave me alone any longer. But Gorbotha would defend thee
against a robber, Jacob said, and he called to the dog, but Gorbotha
only growled at him. Have patience with them, Jesus rejoined; I'll not
feed them for three days, and after feeding them thou'lt take them to
the hills, and when they have coursed and killed a jackal for thee it
may be that they'll accept thee for master. But these Thracians rarely
love twice. Come, Jacob, and we'll look into thy flock of lambs and take
counsel together. They seem to be doing fairly well with thee--a bit
tired, I dare say thou hast come a long way with them. We walked too
fast, Jacob answered, saying he had had to go farther than he thought
for in search of grass, and had found some that was worth the distance
they had journeyed, for the lambs had fallen to nibbling at once. Fell
to nibbling at once, did they? Jesus repeated When they're folded with
the ewes, thou'lt put into their jaws a stick to keep them from sucking.
And without waiting for Jacob to answer he asked which of all these
lambs he would choose to keep for breeding from. Jacob pointed out first
one and then another; but Jesus shook his head and showed him a lamb
which Jacob had not cast his eyes over and said: one may not say for
certain, but I shall be surprised if he doesn't come into a fine,
broad-shouldered ram, strong across the loins and straight on his legs,
the sort to get lambs that do well on these hills. And thou'lt be well
advised to leave him on his dam another hundred days; shear him, for it
will give him strength to take some wool from him, but do not take it
from his back, for he will want the wool there to protect him from the
sun. And all the first year he will skip about with the ewes and jump
upon them, but it will be only play, for his time has not yet come; in
two more years he'll be at his height, serving ten ewes a day; but keep
him not over-long; thou must always have some new rams preparing, else
thy flock will decline. The ram thou seest on the right is old, and must
soon be replaced. But the white ram yonder is still full of service: a
better I've never known. The white ram is stronger than the black,
though the black ewe will turn from him and seek a ram of her own
colour. I've known a white ram so ardent for a black ewe that he fought
the black ram till their skulls cracked. Master, it is well to listen to
thee, Jacob interrupted, for none knows sheep like thee, but as none
will ever give me charge of a flock again, thy teaching is wasted upon
me. Look to the ewes' teeth, Jacob, and to their udders; see that the
udders are sound. Master, never before didst thou mock at me, who am for
my misfortunes the mocking-stock of all these fields. In what have I
done wrong? That my lambs are a bit tired is all thou hast to blame me
for to-day. Jacob, I'm not mocking at thee, but looking forward a
little, for time is on thy side and will soon put thee in charge of a
flock again. Time is on my side, Jacob repeated. If I understand thee
rightly, Master, thy meaning is, that the hills are beginning to weary
thee. Look into my beard, Jacob, and see how much grey hair is in it,
and my gait is slower than it used to be, a stiffness has come upon me
that will not wear out, and my eyes are not as keen as they were, and
when I see in thee a wise shepherd, between the spring and autumn, it
may be that Hazael, our president, at my advice, will entrust my flock
to thy charge.



CHAP. XXX.


So thou thinkest, Eliab, that the autumn rains will make an end of him.
And maybe of thee too, Bozrah, Eliab returned. A hard life ours is, even
for the young ones. Hard bread by day and at night a bed of stones, a
hard life from the beginning one that doesn't grow softer, and to end in
a lion's maw at fifty is the best we can hope for. For us, perhaps,
Bozrah answered; but Jesus will go up to the cenoby among the rocks and
die amongst the brethren reading the Scriptures. If the autumn rains
don't make an end of him, Eliab interjected testily, as if he did not
like his forecast of Jesus' death to be called into question. As I was
saying, a shepherd's life is a hard one, and when the autumn rains make
an end of him, the brethren will be on the look-out for another
shepherd, and there's not one amongst them that would bring half the
flock entrusted to him into the fold at the end of the year. The best of
us lose sheep: what with----

The flock will go to Jacob, the lad he's been training to follow him
ever since his friend was killed, Havilah remarked timidly. Eliab and
Bozrah raised their eyes, and looked at Havilah in surprise, for a
sensible remark from Havilah was an event, and to their wonder they
found themselves in agreement with Havilah. The flock would go to Jacob
without doubt. Of course, Havilah cried, excited by the success of his
last remark, he be more than fifty. Thou mightst put five years more to
the fifty and not be far wrong, Bozrah interposed. Havilah was minded to
speak again, but his elders' looks made him feel that they had heard him
sufficiently. Now, Bozrah, how many years dost thou make it since Joseph
of Arimathea was killed? How many years? Bozrah repeated. I can't tell
thee how many years, but many years.... Stay, I can mark the date down
for thee. It was about ten years before Theudas (wasn't that his name?)
led the multitude over these hills. A great riot that was surely--fires
lighted at the side of the woods for the roasting of our lambs, and
many's the fine wood that was turned to blackened stems and sad ashes in
those days. It comes back to me now, Eliab interjected. Theudas was the
name. I'd forgotten it for the moment. He led the multitude to Jordan,
and while he was bidding the waters divide to let him across the Romans
had his head off. It was nigh ten years before that rioting Gaddi's
partner was killed in Jerusalem. I believe thee to be right, Bozrah
replied, and they talked of the different magicians and messiahs that
were still plaguing the country, stirring them up against the Romans.
But, cried Bozrah suddenly, the story comes back to me. Not getting any
news of his friend, Jesus left his flock with Jacob, and came down to
the pass between the hills where the road descends to the lake to
inquire from the beggars if they had seen Gaddi's partner on his way to
Jerusalem or Jericho, and seeing the lepers and beggars gathering about
Jesus, I came down to hear what was being said, but before I got as far
I saw Jesus turn away and walk into the hills. It was from the beggars
and lepers that I heard that Joseph had been killed in the streets of
Jerusalem. Thou knowest how long beggars take to tell a story; Jesus
was far away before they got to the end of it, simple though it was. I'd
have gone after him if they'd been quicker. More of the story I don't
know. It was just as thou sayest, mate, Eliab answered, and thou'lt bear
me out that it was some months after, maybe six or seven, that Jesus was
seen again leading the flock. I remember the day I saw him, for wasn't I
near to rubbing my eyes lest they might be deceiving me--I remember,
Eliab continued, it comes back to me as it does to thee, for within two
years he had gathered another handsome flock about him. A fine shepherd,
Havilah said. None better to be found on the hills. Thou speakest well,
Eliab answered him, and for thee to speak well twice in the same day is
well-nigh a miracle. Belike thou'lt awake one morning to find thyself
the Messiah Israel is waiting for, so great is thy advancement of late
in good sense. Havilah turned aside, and Eliab, divining his wounded
spirit, sought to make amends by offering him some bread and garlic, but
Havilah went away, a melancholy, heavy-shouldered young man, one that,
Eliab said, must feel life cruelly, knowing himself as he must have done
from the beginning to be what is known as a good-for-nothing. And it was
soon after Havilah's departure that Jesus returned to the shepherds and,
stopping in front of Eliab and Bozrah, he said: I've come back, mates,
to give you my thanks for many a year of good-fellowship. So the time
has come for us to lose thee, mate, Eliab answered. We are sorry for it,
though it isn't altogether unlocked for. We were saying not many moments
ago, Bozrah interjected, that the life on the hills is no life for a man
when he has gone fifty, and thou'lt not see fifty again: no, and not by
three years, Jesus answered. It was just about fifty years that the
feeling began to come over me that I couldn't fight another winter, and
to think of Jacob, who is waiting for a flock, and he may as well have
mine during my life as wait for my death to get it. Better so, said
Eliab, whose wont it was to strike his word in whenever the speaker
paused. He did not always wait for the speaker to pause, and this trick
being known to Bozrah, he said, and by all accounts thou hast made a
true shepherd of him, passing over to him all thy knowledge. A lad of
good report, Jesus answered, who had fallen on a hard master, a thing
that has happened to all of us in our time, Bozrah interjected. He's not
the first that fell out of favour, for that his ewes hadn't given as
many lambs as they might have done. Nor was there anything of neglect in
it, but such a bit of ill luck as might run into any man or any man
might run up against. He was told, said Eliab, who could not bear anyone
to tell a story but himself, that though he were to bring the parts of
the sheep the wolf had left behind to his master he would have to seek
another master. Such severity frightens the shepherd, and the wolf
smells out the frightened shepherd, Jesus said, and he told his mates
that he had not found Jacob lacking in truthfulness nor in natural
discernment, and he asked them to give all their protection to Jacob,
who will, he said, go forth in charge of our flock to-morrow.

The shepherds said again that they were sorry to lose Jesus, and that
the hills would not seem like the hills without him, and Jesus answered
that he, too, would be lonely among the brethren reading the Scriptures.
When one is used to sheep one misses them sorely, Eliab said, there's
always something to learn from them; and he began to tell a story; but
before he had come to the end of it Jesus' thoughts took leave of the
story he was listening to, and he turned away, leaving the shepherd with
his half-finished story, and walked absorbed in his thoughts, immersed
in his own mind, till he had reached the crest of the next hill and was
within some hundred yards of the brook. It was then that he remembered
he had left them abruptly in the middle of a half-finished relation, and
he stopped to consider if he should return to them and ask for the end
of the story. But fearing they would think he was making a mocking-stock
of them, he sighed, and was vexed that they had parted on a seeming lack
of courtesy: on no seeming lack, on a very clear lack, he said to
himself; but it would be useless to return to them; they would not
understand, and a man had always better return to his own thoughts.
Repent, repent, he said, picking up the thread of his thoughts, but
acknowledgment comes before repentance, and of what help will repentance
be, for repentance changes nothing, it brings nothing unless grief
peradventure. I was in the hands of God then just as I am now, and
everything within and without us is in his hands. The things that we
look upon as evil and the things that we look upon as good. Our sight is
not his sight, our hearing is not his hearing, we must despise nothing,
for all things come from him, and return to him. I used, he said, to
despise the air I breathed, and long for the airs of paradise, but what
did these longings bring me?--grief. God bade us live on earth and we
bring unhappiness upon ourselves by desiring heaven. Jesus stopped, and
looking through the blue air of evening, he could see the shepherds
eating their bread and garlic on the hillside. Folding-time is near, he
said to himself, but I shall never fold a flock again....

His thoughts began again, flowing like a wind, as mysteriously, arising
he knew not whence, nor how, his mind holding him as fast as if he were
in chains, and he heard from within that he had passed through two
stages--the first was in Jerusalem, when he preached against the priests
and their sacrifices. God does not desire the blood of sheep, but our
love, and all ritual comes between us and God ... God is in the heart,
he had said, and he had spoken as truly as a man may speak of the
journey that lies before him on the morning of the first day.

In the desert he had looked for God in the flowers that the sun called
forth and in the clouds that the wind shepherded, and he had learnt to
prize the earth and live content among his sheep, all things being
the gift of God and his holy will. He had not placed himself above the
flowers and grasses of the earth, nor the sheep that fed upon them, nor
above the men that fed upon the sheep. He had striven against the memory
of his sin, he had desired only one thing, to acknowledge his sin, and
to repent. But it seemed to him that anger and shame and sorrow, and
desire of repentance had dropped out of his heart. It seemed to him as
he turned and pursued his way that some new thought was striving to
speak through him. Rites and observances, all that comes under the name
of religion estranges us from God, he repeated. God is not here, nor
there, but everywhere: in the flower, and in the star, and in the earth
underfoot. He has often been at my elbow, God or this vast Providence
that upholds the work; but shall we gather the universal will into an
image and call it God?--for by doing this do we not drift back to the
starting-point of all our misery? We again become the dupes of illusion
and desire; God and his heaven are our old enemies in disguise. He who
yields himself to God goes forth to persuade others to love God, and
very soon his love of God impels him to violent words and cruel deeds.
It cannot be else, for God is but desire, and whosoever yields to desire
falls into sin. To be without sin we must be without God.

Jesus stood before the door of the cenoby, startled at the thoughts that
had been put into his mind, asking himself if any man had dared to ask
himself if God were not indeed the last uncleanliness of the mind.



CHAP. XXXI.


If thou wouldst not miss Mathias' discourse, Brother Jesus, thou must
hasten thy steps. He is telling that the Scriptures are but allegories.
Some of us are opposed to this view, believing that Adam and Eve
are--Yea, Brother, and my thanks to thee for thy admonishment, Jesus
said, for he did not wish to discredit Mathias' reputation for
theological argument; but no sooner was he out of sight of the
gate-keeper than he began to examine the great rock that Joseph had
predicted would one day come crashing down, and, being no wise in a
hurry, fell to wondering how much of the mountain-side it would bring
with it when it fell. At present it projected over the pathway for
several yards, making an excellent store-house, and, his thoughts
suspended between the discussion that was proceeding regarding Adam and
Eve--whether the original twain had ever lived or were but allegories
(themselves and their garden)--he began to consider if the brethren had
laid in a sufficient stock of firewood, and how long it would take him
to chop it into pieces handy for burning. He would be glad to relieve
the brethren from all such humble work, and for taking it upon himself
he would he able to plead an excuse for absenting himself from Mathias'
discourses. Hazael would not refuse to assign to him the task of feeding
the doves and the cleaning out of their coops; he would find occupation
among the vines and fig-trees--he was something of a gardener--and
Hazael would not refuse him permission to return to the hills to see
that all was well with the flocks. Jacob will need to be looked after;
and there are the dogs; and if they cannot be brought to look upon Jacob
as master their lives will be wasted, he said.

I seem to read supper in their eyes, he said, and having tied them up
supperless he visited the bitch and her puppies. Brother Ozias hasn't
forgotten to feed her. There is some food still in the platter. But they
must submit, he continued, his thoughts having returned to his dogs,
Theusa and Tharsa, and then he stood listening, for he could hear
Mathias' voice. The door of the lecture-room is closed; if I step softly
none will know that I have returned from the hills, and I can sit
unsuspected on the balcony till Mathias' allegories are ended, and
watching the evening descending on the cliff it may be that I shall be
able to examine the thoughts that assailed me as I ascended the
hillside; whether we pursue a corruptible or an incorruptible crown the
end is the same, he said. It was not enough for me to love God, I must
needs ask others to worship him, at first with words of love, and when
love failed I threatened, I raved; and the sin I fell into others will
fall into, for it s natural to man to wish to make his brother like
himself, thereby undoing the work of God. Myself am no paragon; I
condemned the priests whilst setting myself up as a priest, and spoke of
God and the will of God though in all truth I had very little more
reason than they to speak of these things. God has not created us to
know him, or only partially through our consciousness of good and evil.
Good and evil do not exist in God's eyes as in our eyes, for he is the
author of all, but it may be that our sense of good and evil was given
to us by him as a token of our divine nature. If this be true, why
should we puzzle and fret ourselves with distinctions like Mathias? It
were better to leave the mystery and attend to this life, casting out
desire to know what God is or what nature is, as well as desire for
particular things in this world which long ago I told men to
disregard.... A flight of doves distracted his attention, and a moment
after the door of the lecture-room opened and Saddoc and Manahem
appeared, carrying somebody dead or who had fainted. As they came across
the domed gallery towards the embrasure Jesus heard Manahem say: he will
return to himself as soon as we get him into the air. And they placed
him where Jesus had been sitting. A little water, Saddoc cried, and
Jesus ran to the well, and returning with a cup of water he stood by
sprinkling the worn, grey face. The heat overcame me, he murmured, but I
shall soon be well and then you will bear me back to hear--The sentence
did not finish, and Jesus said: thou'lt be better here with me, Hazael,
than listening to discourses that fatigue the mind. Mathias is very
insistent, Manahem muttered. He is indeed, Saddoc answered. And while
Jesus sat by Hazael, fearing that his life might go out at any moment,
Manahem reproved Saddoc, saying that whereas duty is the cause of all
good, we have only to look beyond our own doors to see evil everywhere.
Even so, Saddoc answered, what wouldst thou? That the world, Manahem
answered, was created by good and evil angels. Whereupon Saddoc asked
him if he numbered Lilith, Adam's first wife, among the evil angels. A
question Manahem did not answer, and, being eager to tell the story, he
turned to Jesus, who he guessed did not know it, and began at once to
tell it, after warning Jesus that it was among their oldest stories
though not to be found in the Scriptures. She must be numbered among the
evil angels, he said, remembering that Saddoc had put the question to
him, for she rebuked Adam, who took great delight in her hair, combing
it for his pleasure from morn to eve in the garden, and left him, saying
she could abide him no longer. At which words, Jesus, Adam sorrowed, and
his grief was such that God heard his sighs and asked him for what he
was grieving, and he said: I live in great loneliness, for Lilith, O
Lord, has left me, and I beg thee to send messengers who will bring her
back. Whereupon God took pity on his servant Adam and bade his three
angels, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael, to go away at once in search of
Lilith, whom they found flying over the sea, and her answer to them was
that her pleasure was now in flying, and for that reason I will not
return to Adam, she said. Is that the answer we are to bring back to
God? they asked. I have no other answer for him, she answered, being in
a humour in which it pleased her to anger God, and the anger that her
words put upon him was so great that to punish her he set himself to the
creation of a lovely companion for Adam. Be thou lonely no more, he said
to Adam. See, I have given Eve to thee. Adam was never lonely again, but
walked through a beautiful garden, enjoying Eve's beauty unceasingly,
happy as the day was long, till tidings of their happiness reached
Lilith, who by that time had grown weary of flying from sea to sea: I
will make an end of it, she said, and descending circle by circle she
went about seeking the garden, which she found at last, but failing to
find the gate or any gap in the walls she sat down and began combing her
hair. Nor was she long combing it before Lucifer, attracted by the
rustling, came by, saying: I would be taken captive in the net thou
weavest with thy hair, and she answered: not yet; for my business is in
yon garden, but into it I can find no way. Wilt lend me thy sinewy
shape, Lucifer? for in it I shall be able to glide over the walls and
coil myself into the tree of forbidden fruit, and I shall persuade Eve
as she passes to eat of it, for it will be to her great detriment to do
so. But of what good will that be to me? Lucifer answered, wouldst thou
leave me without a shape whilst thou art tempting Eve? Thy reward will
be that I will come to thee again when I have tempted Eve and made an
end of her happiness. We shall repeople the world with sons and
daughters more bright and beautiful and more supple than any that have
ever been seen yet. All the same, Lucifer answered, not liking to part
with his shape. But as his desire could not be gainsaid, he lent his
shape to Lilith for an hour. And it was in that hour our first parents
fell into sin, and were chased from the garden. Did she return to
Lucifer and fulfil her promise or did she cheat him? Saddoc asked. As
Manahem was about to answer Saddoc intervened again: Manahem, thou
overlookest the fact that Mathias holds that the Garden of Eden and Adam
and Eve, to say nothing of Lilith, are a parable, and his reason for
thinking thus is, as thou knowest well, that the Scriptures tell us that
after eating of the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve sought to hide
themselves from God among the trees.

He holds as thou sayest, Saddoc, that the garden means the mind of man
as an individual; and he who would escape from God flees from himself,
for our lives are swayed between two powers: the mind of the universe,
which is God, and the separate mind of the individual. Then, if I
understand thee rightly, Manahem, and thy master, Mathias, the
Scriptures melt into imagery? What says Jesus? This, Saddoc, that it was
with such subtleties of discourse and lengthy periods that Mathias
fatigued our Father till he fainted away in his chair. Jesus is right,
Manahem answered; it was certainly Mathias' discourse that fatigued our
Father, so why should we prolong the argument in his face while he is
coming back to life?

It was not the length of Mathias' discourse, nor his eloquence, Hazael
said, that caused my senses to swoon away. My age will not permit me to
listen long. I would be with Jesus, and I would that ye, Saddoc and
Manahem, return to the lecture-room at once, else our brother will think
his discourse has failed. Jesus is here to give the attendance I
require. Go, hasten, lest ye miss any of his points. The brethren were
about to raise a protest, but at a sign from Jesus they obeyed; Mathias'
voice was heard as soon as the door of the lecture-room was opened, but
the brethren did not forget to close it, and when silence came again
Hazael said: Jesus, come hither, sit near me, for I would speak to thee,
but cannot raise my voice. Thou'lt sleep here to-night, and to-morrow we
shall meet again. And this is well, for my days are numbered. I shall
not be here to see next year's lambs and to agree that this new shepherd
shall be recompensed by a gift of eighteen, as is the custom. And Jesus,
understanding that the president was prophesying his own death, said:
why speakest like this to me who have returned from the hills to
strangers, for all are strangers to me but thou. I shall be sorry to
leave thee, Jesus, for our lives have been twisted together, strands of
the same rope. But it must be plain to thee that I am growing weaker;
month by month, week by week, my strength is ebbing. I am going out; but
for what reason should I lament that God has not chosen to retain me a
few months longer, since my life cannot be prolonged for more than a few
months? My eighty odd years have left me with barely strength enough to
sit in the doorway looking back on the way I have come. Every day the
things of this world grow fainter, and life becomes to me an unreal
thing, and myself becomes unreal to those around me; only to thee do I
retain anything of my vanished self. So why should I remain? For thy
sake, lest thou be lonely here? Well, that is reason enough, and I will
bear the burden of life as well as I can for thy sake. A burden it is,
and for a reason that thou mayest not divine, for thou art still a young
man in my eyes, and, moreover, hast not lived under a roof for many
years listening to learned interpretations of Scripture. Thou hast not
guessed, nor wilt thou ever guess, till age reveals it to thee, that as
we grow old we no longer concern ourselves to love God as we used to
love him. No one would have thought, not even thou, whose mind is always
occupied with God, and who is more conscious of him perhaps than any one
I have known, no one, I say, not even thou, would have thought that as
we approach death our love of God should grow weaker, but this is so. In
great age nothing seems to matter, and it is this indifference that I
wish to escape from. Thou goest forth in the morning to lead thy flock
in search of pasture, if need be many hours, and God is nearer to us in
the wilderness than he is among men. This meaning, Jesus said, that
under this roof I, too, may cease to love God? Not cease to love God:
one doesn't cease to love God, Hazael answered. But, Hazael, this night
I've yielded up the flocks to a new shepherd, for my limbs have grown
weary, and what thou tellest me of old age frightens me. Thou wouldst
warn me that God is only loved on the hills under the sky---- I am too
weak to choose my thoughts or my words, and many things pass out of my
mind, Hazael answered. Had I remembered I shouldn't have spoken. But why
not speak, Father? Jesus asked, so that I may be prepared in a measure
for the new life that awaits me. Life never comes twice in the same way,
Hazael replied; nor do the same things befall any two men. I know not
what may befall thee: but the sky, Jesus, will always be before thine
eyes and the green fields under thy feet, even while listening to
Mathias. But thou didst live once under the sky, Jesus said. Not long
enough, Hazael murmured, but the love of God was ardent in me when I
walked by day and night, sleeping under the stars, seeking young men who
could give up their lives to the love of God and bringing them back
hither into the fold of the Essenes. In those days there was little else
in me but love of God, and I could walk from dusk to dusk without
wearying; twelve and fifteen hours were not too many for my feet: my
feet bounded along the road while my eyes followed white clouds moving
over the sky; I dreamed of them as God's palaces, and I saw God not only
in the clouds but in the grass, and in the fields, and the flower that
covers the fields. I read God in the air and in the waters: and in every
town in Palestine I sought out those that loved God and those that could
learn to love God. I could walk well in those days, fifteen hours were
less than as many minutes are now. I have walked from Jerusalem to Joppa
in one day, and the night that I met thy father outside Nazareth I had
walked twelve hours, though I had been delayed in the morning: eight
hours before midday, and after a rest in the wood I went on again for
several hours more, how many I do not know, I've forgotten. I did not
know the distance that I had walked till I met thy father coming home
from his work, his tools in the bag upon his shoulder. His voice is
still in my ear. But if it be to Nazareth thou'rt going, come along with
me, he said. And I can still hear ourselves talking, myself asking him
to direct me to a lodging, and his answering: there's a house in the
village where thou'lt get one, and I'll lead thee to it. But all the
beds in that house were full; we knocked at other inns, but the men and
women and children in them were asleep and not to be roused; and if by
chance our knocking awakened somebody we were bidden away with threats
that the dogs would be loosed upon us. Nazareth looks not kindly on the
wayfarer to-night, I said. Yet it shall not be said that a stranger had
to sleep in the streets of Nazareth, were thy father's very words to me,
Jesus. Come to my house, he said, though it be small and we have to put
somebody out of his bed, it will be better than that our town should
gain evil repute. Thou canst not have forgotten me coming, for thy
father shook thee out of thy sleep and told thee that he wanted thy bed
for a stranger. I can see thee still standing before me in thy shift,
and though the hours I'd travelled had gone down into my very marrow,
and sleep was heavy upon my eyes, yet a freshness came upon me as of the
dawn when I looked on thee, and my heart told me that I had found one
that would do honour to the Essenes, and love God more than any I had
ever met with yet. But I think I hear thee weeping, Jesus. Now, for what
art thou weeping? There is nothing sad in the story, only that it is a
long time ago. Our speech next day still rings in my ear--my telling
thee of the Pharisees that merely minded the letter of the law, and of
the Sadducees that said there was no life outside this world except for
angels. It is well indeed that I remember our two selves sitting by the
door on two stools set under a vine, and it throwing pretty patterns of
shadow on the pavement whilst we talked--whilst I talked to thee of the
brethren, who lived down by the Bitter Lake, no one owning anything more
than his fellow, so that none might be distracted from God by the
pleasures of this world. I can see clearly through the years thy face
expectant, and Nazareth--the deeply rutted streets and the hills above.

The days that we walked in Nazareth are pleasant memories, for I could
never tell thee enough about the Essenes: their contempt of riches, and
that if there were one among them who had more than another, on entering
the order he willingly shared it. We were among the hills the day that I
told thee about the baker; how he put a platter with a loaf on it before
each of the brethren, how they broke bread, deeming the meal sacred, and
it was the next day that we bade farewell to thy father and thy mother
and started on our journey; a long way, but one that did not seem long
to us, so engaged were we with our hopes. It was with me thou sawest
Jerusalem for the first time; and I remember telling thee as we
journeyed by the Jordan seeking a ford that the Essenes looked upon oil
as a defilement, and if any one of them be anointed without his
approbation it is wiped off, for we think to be sweaty is a good thing,
and to be clothed in white garments, and never to change these till they
be torn to pieces or worn out by time.

And of the little band that came with us that day from Galilee there
remain Saddoc, Manahem and thyself. All of you learnt from me on the
journey that we laboured till the fifth hour and then assembled together
again clothed in white veils, after having bathed our bodies in cold
water. But, Jesus, why this grief? Because I am going from thee? But,
dear friend, to come and to go is the law of life, and it may be that I
shall be with thee longer than thou thinkest for; eighty odd years may
be lengthened into ninety: the patriarchs lived till a hundred and more
years, and we believe that the soul outlives the body. Out of the
chrysalis we escape from our corruptible bodies, and the beautiful
butterfly flutters Godward. Grieve for me a little when I am gone, but
grieve not before I go, for I would see thy face always happy, as I
remember it in those years long ago in Nazareth. Jesus, Jesus, thou
shouldst not weep like this! None should weep but for sin, and thy life
is known to me from the day in Nazareth when we sat in the street
together to the day that thou wentest to the Jordan to get baptism from
John.

Ah! that day was the only day that my words were unheeded. But I am
saying things that would seem to wound thee, and for why I know not!
Tell me if my words wound or call up painful memories. Thy suffering is
forgotten, or should be, for if ever any man merited love and admiration
for a sincere and holy life thou---- I beg of thee, Father, not to say
another word, for none is less worthy than I am. The greatest sinner
amongst us is sitting by thee, one that has not dared to tell his secret
to thee.... The memory of my sin has fed upon me and grown stronger,
becoming a devil within me, but till now I have lacked courage to come
to thee and ask thee to cast it out. But now since thou art going from
us this year or the next, I wouldn't let thee go without telling it; to
none may I tell it but to thee, for none else would understand it. I am
listening, Jesus, Hazael answered.

The mutter of the water in the valley below them arose and grew louder
in the silence; as Jesus prepared to speak his secret the doors of the
lecture-room opened and the monks came out singing:

    In the Lord put I my trust:
    How say ye to my soul, Flee
    As a bird to your mountain?
    For, lo, the wicked bend their
    Bow, they make ready their arrow
    Upon the string, that they may privily
    Shoot at the upright in heart.
    If the foundations be destroyed, what
    Can the righteous do?
    For the righteous Lord loveth
    Righteousness; his countenance
    Doth behold the upright.

The words of the psalm are intended for me, Jesus whispered, and now
that the brethren are here I may not speak, but to-morrow---- There may
be no to-morrow for us, the president answered. Even so, Jesus answered,
I cannot speak to-night. It is as if I were bidden to withhold my secret
till to-morrow. We know not why we speak or why we are silent, but
silence has been put upon me by the words of the psalm. Be it so, the
president answered, and he was helped by Saddoc and Manahem to his feet.
Our Brother Jesus, he said, has given over the charge of our flocks to a
young shepherd in whom he has confidence, and Jesus sleeps under a roof
to-night, the first for many years, for, like us, he is getting older,
and the rains and blasts of last winter have gone into his bones. All
the cells, Father, Saddoc replied, are filled. I know that well, Saddoc,
Hazael said as he went out; Jesus can sleep here on these benches; a
mattress and a cloak will be sufficient for him who has slept in
caverns, or in valleys on heaps of stones that he piled so that he might
not drown in the rains. Manahem will get thee a mattress, Jesus; he
knows where to find one. I am strong enough to walk alone, Saddoc. And
disengaging himself from Saddoc's arm he walked with the monks towards
his cell, joining them in the psalm:

    All the powers of the Lord
    Bless ye the Lord; praise and
    Exalt him above all for ever.

As the doors of the cell closed Saddoc approached Jesus, and, breaking
his reverie, he said: thou hast returned to us at last; and it was not
too soon, for the winter rains are cold on bones as old as thine. But
here comes Manahem with a mattress for thee. On the bench here, Manahem;
on the bench he'll lie comfortably, and we'll get him a covering, for
the nights are often chilly though the days be hot, we must try to make
a comfortable resting-place for him that has guarded our flocks these
long years. Wilt tell us if thou beest glad to yield thy flock to Jacob
and if he will sell ewes and rams to the Temple for sacrifice? Ask me
not any questions to-night, Brother Saddoc, for I'm troubled in mind.
Forgive me my question, Jesus, Saddoc answered, and the three Essenes,
leaning over the edge of the gorge, stood listening to the mutter of the
brook. At last, to break the silence that the brook rumpled without
breaking, Jesus asked if a wayfarer never knocked at the door of the
cenoby after dark asking for bread and board. None knows the path well
enough to keep to it after dark, Saddoc said; though the moon be high
and bright the shadows disguise the path yonder. The path is always in
darkness where it bends round the rocks, and the wayfarer would miss his
footing and fall over into the abyss, even though he were a shepherd.
Thyself wouldst miss it. Saddoc speaks well; none can follow the path,
Manahem said, and fortunately, else we should have all the vagrants of
the country knocking at our door.

We shall have one to-night--vagrant or prophet, Jesus said, and asked
his brethren to look yonder; for it seemed to him that a man had just
come out of the shadow of an overhanging rock. Manahem could see nobody,
for, he said, none could find the way in the darkness, and if it be a
demon, he continued, and fall, it will not harm him: the devil will hold
him up lest he dash himself at the bottom of the ravine. But if it be a
man of flesh and blood like ourselves he will topple over yon rock, and
Manahem pointed to a spot, and they waited, expecting to see the shadow
or the man they were watching disappear, but the man or the shadow kept
close to the cliffs, avoiding what seemed to be the path so skilfully
that Saddoc and Manahem said he must know the way. He will reach the
bridge safely, cried Saddoc, and we shall have to open our doors to him.
Now he is crossing the bridge, and now he begins the ascent. Let us pray
that he may miss the path through the terraces. But would you have him
miss it, Saddoc, Jesus asked, for the sake of thy rest? He shall have my
mattress; I'll sleep on this bench in the window under the sky, and
shall be better there: a roof is not my use nor wont. But who, said
Saddoc, can he be?--for certainly the man, if he be not an evil spirit,
is coming to ask for shelter for the night; and if he be not a demon he
may be a prophet or robber: once more the hills are filled with robbers.
Or it may be, Jesus said, the preacher of whom Jacob spoke to me this
evening; he came up from the Jordan with a story of a preacher that the
multitude would not listen to and sought to drown in the river, and our
future shepherd told me how the rabble had followed him over the hills
with the intent to kill him. Some great and terrible heresy he must be
preaching to stir them like that, Manahem said, and he asked if the
shepherd had brought news of the prophet's escape or death. Jesus
answered that the shepherd thought the prophet had escaped into a cave,
for he saw the crowd dispersing, going home like dogs from a hunt when
they have lost their prey. If so, he has been lying by in the cave. Who
can he be? Saddoc asked. Only a shepherd could have kept to the path.
Now he sees us ... and methinks he is no shepherd, but a robber.

The Essenes waited a few moments longer and the knocking they had
expected came at their door. Do not open it, Saddoc cried. He is for
sure a robber sent in advance of his band, or it may be a prisoner of
the Romans, and to harbour him may put us on crosses above the hills. We
shall hang! Open not the door! If it be a wayfarer lost among the hills
a little food and water will save him, Jesus answered. Open not the
door, Jesus; though he be a prophet I would not open to him. A prophet
he may be, and no greater danger besets us, for our later prophets
induced men to follow them into the desert, promising that they should
witness the raising of the dead with God riding the clouds and coming
down for judgment. I say open not the door to him, Jesus! He may be one
of the followers of the prophets, of which we have seen enough in these
last years, God knows! The cavalry of Festus may be in pursuit of him
and his band, and they have cut down many between Jerusalem and Jericho.
I say open not the door! We live among terrors and dangers, Jesus; open
not the door! Hearken, Saddoc, he calls us to open to him, Jesus said,
moving towards the door. He is alone. We know he is, for we have seen
him coming down a path on which two men pass each other with difficulty.
He is a wayfarer, and we've been safe on this ledge of rock for many
years; and times are quieter now than they have been since the dispersal
of the great multitude that followed Theudas and were destroyed, and the
lesser multitude that followed Banu; they, too, have perished.

Open not the door, Jesus! Saddoc cried again. There are Sicarii who kill
men in the daytime, mingling themselves among the multitude with daggers
hidden in their garments, their mission being to stab those that disobey
the law in any fraction. We're Essenes, and have not sent blood
offerings to the Temple. Open not the door. Sicarii or Zealots travel in
search of heretics through the cities of Samaria and Judea. Open not the
door! Men are for ever fooled, Saddoc continued, and will never cease to
open their doors to those who stand in need of meat and drink. It will
be safer, Jesus, to bid him away. Tell him rather that we'll let down a
basket of meat and drink from the balcony to him. Art thou, Manahem, for
turning this man from the door or letting him in? Jesus asked. There is
no need to be frightened, Manahem answered; he is but a wanderer,
Saddoc. A wanderer he cannot be, for he has found his way along the path
in the darkness of the night, Saddoc interjected. Open not the door, I
tell thee, or else we all hang on crosses above the hills to-morrow.
But, Saddoc, we are beholden to the law not to refuse bed and board to
the poor, Manahem replied, returning from the door. If we do not open,
Jesus said, he will leave our door, and that will be a greater
misfortune than any that he may bring us. Hearken, Saddoc! He speaks
fair enough, Saddoc replied; but we may plead that after sunset in the
times we live in---- But, Manahem, Jesus interjected, say on which side
thou art.... We know there is but one man; and we are more than a match
for one. Put a sword in Saddoc's hand. No! Manahem! for I should seem
like a fool with a sword in my hand. Since thou sayest there is but one
man and we are three, it might be unlucky to turn him from our doors.
May I then open to him? Jesus asked, and he began to unbar the great
door, and a heavy, thick-set man, weary of limb and mind, staggered into
the gallery, and stood looking from one to the other, as if trying to
guess which of the three would be most likely to welcome him. His large
and bowed shoulders made his bald, egg-shaped skull (his turban had
fallen in his flight) seem ridiculously small; it was bald to the ears,
and a thick black beard spread over the face like broom, and nearly to
the eyes; thick black eyebrows shaded eyes so piercing and brilliant
that the three Essenes were already aware that a man of great energy had
come amongst them. He had run up the terraces despite his great
girdlestead and he stood before them like a hunted animal, breathing
hard, looking from one to the other, a red, callous hand scratching in
his shaggy chest, his eyes fixed first on Saddoc and then on Manahem and
lastly on Jesus, whom he seemed to recognise as a friend. May I rest a
little while? If so, give me drink before I sleep, he asked. No food,
but drink. Why do ye not answer? Do ye fear me, mistaking me for a
robber? Or have I wandered among robbers? Where am I? Hark: I am but a
wayfarer and thou'rt a shepherd of the hills, I know thee by thy garb,
thou'lt not refuse me shelter. And Jesus, turning to Saddoc and Manahem,
said: he shall have the mattress I was to sleep upon. Give it to him,
Manahem. Thou shalt have food and a coverlet, he said, turning to the
wayfarer. No food! he cried; but a drink of water. There is some ewe's
milk on the shelf, Manahem. Thou must be footsore, he said, giving the
milk to the stranger, who drank it greedily. I'll get thee a linen
garment so that thou mayst sleep more comfortable; and I'll bathe thy
feet before sleep; sleep will come easier in a fresh garment. But to
whose dwelling have I come? the stranger asked. A shepherd told me the
Essenes lived among the rocks.... Am I among them? He told me to keep
close to the cliff's edge or I should topple over. We watched thee, and
it seemed every moment that thou couldst not escape death. It will be
well to ask him his name and whence he comes, Saddoc whispered to
Manahem. The shepherd told thee that we are Essenes, and it remains for
thee to tell us whom we entertain. A prisoner of the Romans---- A
prisoner of the Romans! Saddoc cried. Then indeed we are lost; a
prisoner of the Romans with soldiers perhaps at thy heels! A prisoner
fled from Roman justice may not lodge here.... Let us put him beyond our
doors. And becoming suddenly courageous Saddoc went up to Paul and tried
to lift him to his feet. Manahem, aid me!

Jesus, who had gone to fetch a basin of water and a garment, returned
and asked Saddoc and Manahem the cause of their unseemly struggle with
their guest. They replied that their guest had told them he was a
prisoner of the Romans. Even so, Jesus answered, we cannot turn him from
our doors. These men have little understanding, Paul answered. I'm not a
criminal fled from Roman justice, but a man escaped from Jewish
persecution. Why then didst thou say, cried Saddoc, that thou'rt a
prisoner of the Romans? Because I would not be taken to Jerusalem to be
tried before the Jews. I appealed to Cæsar, and while waiting on the
ship to take me to Italy, Festus gave me leave to come here, for I heard
that there were Jews in Jericho of great piety, men unlike the Jews of
Jerusalem, who though circumcised in the flesh are uncircumcised in
heart and ear. Of all of this I will tell you to-morrow, and do you tell
me now of him that followed me along the cliff. We saw no one following
thee; thou wast alone. He may have missed me before I turned down the
path coming from Jericho. I speak of Timothy, my beloved son in the
faith. What strange man is this that we entertain for the night? Saddoc
whispered to Manahem. And if any disciple of mine fall into the hands of
the Jews of Jerusalem---- We know not of what thou'rt speaking, Jesus
answered; and it is doubtless too long a story to tell to-night. I must
go at once in search of Timothy, Paul said, and he turned towards the
door. The moon is setting, Jesus cried, and returning to-night will mean
thy death over the cliffs edge. There is no strength in thy legs to keep
thee to the path. I should seek him in vain, Paul answered. Rest a
little while, Jesus said, and drink a little ewe's milk, and when thou
hast drunken I'll bathe thy feet.

Without waiting for Paul's assent he knelt to untie his sandals. We came
from Cæsarea to Jericho to preach the abrogation of the law. What
strange thing is he saying now? The abrogation of the law! Saddoc
whispered to Manahem. The people would not listen to us, and, stirred up
by the Jews, they sought to capture us, but we escaped into the hills
and hid in a cave that an angel pointed out to us. Hark, an angel
pointed out a cave to him! Manahem whispered in Saddoc's ear. Then he
must be a good man, Saddoc answered, but we know not if he speaks the
truth. We have had too many prophets; he is another, and of the same
tribe, setting men by the ears. We have had too many prophets!

Now let me bathe thy feet, which are swollen, and after bathing Paul's
feet Jesus relieved him of his garment and passed a white robe over his
shoulders. Thou'lt sleep easier in it. They would have done well to
hearken to me, Paul muttered. Thou'lt tell us thy story of ill treatment
to-morrow, Jesus said, and he laid Paul back on his pillow, and a moment
after he was asleep.



CHAP. XXXII.


Jesus feared to awaken him, but was constrained at last to call after
him: thou'rt dreaming, Paul. Awake! Remember the Essenes ... friends,
friends. But Paul did not hear him, and it was not till Jesus laid his
hand on his shoulder that Paul opened his eyes: thou hast been dreaming,
Paul, Jesus said. Where am I? Paul inquired. With the Essenes, Jesus
answered. I was too tired to sleep deeply, Paul said, and it would be
useless for me to lie down again. I am afraid of my dreams; and together
they stood looking across the abyss watching the rocks opposite coming
into their shapes against a strip of green sky.

The ravine was still full of mist, and a long time seemed to pass before
the bridge and the ruins over against the bridge began to appear. As the
dawn advanced sleep came upon Paul's eyelids. He lay down and dozed
awhile, for about an hour, and when he opened his eyes again Jesus'
hand was upon his shoulder and he was saying: Paul, it is now daybreak:
at the Brook Kerith we go forth to meet the sunrise. To meet the
sunrise, Paul repeated, for he knew nothing of the doctrine of the
Essenes. But he followed Jesus through the gallery and received from him
a small hatchet with instructions how he should use it, and a jar which
he must fill with water at the well. We carry water with us, Jesus said,
for the way is long to the brook; only by sending nearly to the source
can we reach it, for we are mindful not to foul the water we drink. But
come, we're late already. Jesus threw a garment over Paul's shoulder and
told him of the prayers he must murmur. We do not speak of profane
matters till after sunrise. He broke off suddenly and pointed to a place
where they might dig: and as soon as we have purified ourselves, he
continued, we will fare forth in search of shepherds, who, on being
instructed by us, will be watchful for a young man lost on the hills and
will direct him to the Essene settlement above the Brook Kerith. Be of
good courage, he will be found. Hadst thou come before to-day myself
would be seeking him for thee, but yesterday I gave over my flock to
Jacob, a trustworthy lad, who will give the word to the next one, and he
will pass it on to another, and so the news will be carried the best
part of the way to Cæsarea before noon. It may be that thy companion
has found his way to Cæsarea already, for some can return whither they
have come, however long and strange the way may be. Pause, we shall hear
Jacob's pipe answer mine. Jesus played a few notes, which were answered
immediately, and not long afterwards the shepherd appeared over a ridge
of hills. Thy shepherd, Paul said, is but a few years younger than
Timothy and he looks to thee as Timothy looks to me. Tell him who I am
and whom I seek. Jacob, Jesus said, thou didst tell me last night of a
preacher to whom the multitude would not listen, but sought to throw
into the Jordan. He has come amongst us seeking his companion Timothy.
The twain escaped from the multitude, Jacob interjected. That is true,
Jesus answered, but they ran apart above the brook, one keeping on to
Cæsarea, this man followed the path round the rocks (how he did it we
are still wondering) and climbed up to our dwelling. We must find his
companion for him. Jacob promised that every shepherd should hear that a
young man was missing. As soon as a shepherd appears on yon hillside,
Jacob said, he shall have the word from me, and he will pass it on.
Jesus looked up into Paul's anxious face. We cannot do more, he said,
and began to speak with Jacob of rams and ewes just as if Timothy had
passed out of their minds. Paul listened for a while, but finding little
to beguile his attention in their talk, he bade Jesus and Jacob good-bye
for the present, saying he was returning to the cenoby. I wonder, he
said to himself, as he went up the hill, if they'd take interest in my
craft, I could talk to them for a long while of the thread which should
always be carefully chosen, and which should be smooth and of equal
strength, else, however deftly the shuttle be passed, the woof would be
rough. But no matter, if they'll get news of Timothy for me I'll listen
to their talk of rams and ewes without complaint. It was kind of Jacob
to say he did not think Timothy had fallen down a precipice, but what
does he know? and on his way back Paul tried to recall the ravine that
he had seen in the dusk as he leaned over the balcony with Jesus. And as
he passed through the domed gallery he stopped for a moment by the well,
it having struck him that he might ask the brother drawing water to come
with him to look for Timothy. If my son were lying at the bottom of the
ravine, he said, I should not be able to get him out without help. Come
with me.

The Essene did not know who Paul was, nor of whom he was speaking, and
at the end of Paul's relation the brother answered that there might be
two hundred feet from the pathway to the brook, more than that in many
places; but thou'lt see for thyself; I may not leave my work. If a man
be dying the Essene, by his rule, must succour him, Paul said. But I
know not, the Essene answered, that any man be dying in the brook. We
believe thy comrade held on to the road to Cæsarea. So it may have
befallen, Paul said, but it may be else. It may be, the Essene answered,
but not likely. He held on to the road to Cæsarea, and finding thee no
longer with him kept on--or rolled over the cliff, Paul interrupted.
Well, see for thyself; and if he be at the bottom I'll come to help
thee. But it is a long way down, and it may be that we have no rope long
enough, and without one we cannot reach him, but forgive me, for I see
that my words hurt thee. But how else am I to speak? I know thy words
were meant kindly, and if thy president should ask to see me thou'lt
tell him I've gone down the terraces and will return as soon as I have
made search. This search should have been made before. That was not
possible; the mist is only; just cleared, the brother answered, and
Paul proceeded up and down the terraces till he reached the bridge, and
after crossing it he mounted the path and continued it, venturing close
to the edge and looking down the steep sides as he went, but seeing
nowhere any traces of Timothy. Had he fallen here, he said to himself,
he would be lying in the brook. But were Timothy lying there I could not
fail to see him, nor is there water enough to wash him down into Jordan.
It must be he is seeking his way to Cæsarea. Let it be so, I pray God,
and Paul continued his search till he came to where the path twisted
round a rock debouching on to the hillsides. We separated here, he said,
looking round, and then remembering that they had been pursued for
several miles into the hills and that the enemy's scouts might be
lurking in the neighbourhood, he turned back and descended the path,
convinced of the uselessness of his search. We parted at that rock,
Timothy keeping to the left and myself turning to the right, and if
anything has befallen he must be sought for by shepherds, aided by dogs.
Only with the help of dogs can he be traced, he said, and returning
slowly to the bridge, he stood there lost in feverish forebodings, new
ones rising up in his mind continually, for it might well be, he
reflected, that Timothy has been killed by robbers, for these hills are
infested by robbers and wild beasts, and worse than the wild beasts and
the robbers are the Jews, who would pay a large sum of money for his
capture.

And his thoughts running on incontinently, he imagined Timothy a
prisoner in Jerusalem and himself forced to decide whether he should go
there to defend Timothy or abandon his mission. A terrible choice it
would be for him to have to choose between his duty towards men and his
love of his son, for Timothy was more to him than many sons are to their
fathers, the companion of all his travels and his hope, for he was
falling into years and needed Timothy now more than ever. But it was not
likely that the Jews had heard that Timothy was travelling from Jericho
to Cæsarea, and it was a feverish imagination of his to think that they
would have time to send out agents to capture Timothy. But if such a
thing befell how would he account to Eunice for the death of the son
that she had given him, wishing that somebody should be near him to
protect and to serve him. He had thought never to see Eunice again, but
if her son perished he would have to see her. But no, there would be no
time--he had appealed to Cæsar. He must send a letter to her telling
that he had started out for Jericho. A dangerous journey he knew it to
be, but he was without strength to resist the temptation of one more
effort to save the Jews: a hard, bitter, stiff-necked, stubborn race
that did not deserve salvation, that resisted it. He had been scourged,
how many times, at the instigation of the Jews? and they had stoned him
at Lystra, a city ever dear to him, for it was there he had met Eunice;
the memories that gathered round her beautiful name calmed his disquiet,
and the brook murmuring under the bridge through the silence of the
gorge disposed Paul to indulge his memory, and in it the past was so
pathetic and poignant that it was almost a pain to remember. But he must
remember, and following after a glimpse of the synagogue and himself
preaching in it there came upon him a vision of a tall, grave woman
since known to him as a thorn in his flesh, but he need not trouble to
remember his sins, for had not God himself forgiven him, telling him
that his grace was enough? Why then should he hesitate to recall the
grave, oval face that he had loved? He could see it as plainly in his
memory as if it were before him in the flesh, her eyes asking for his
help so appealingly that he had been constrained to relinquish the crowd
to Barnabas and give his mind to Eunice. And they had walked on
together, he listening to her telling how she had not been to the
Synagogue for many years, for though she and her mother were proselytes
to the Jewish faith, neither practised it, since her marriage, for her
husband was a pagan. She had indeed taught her son the Scriptures in
Greek, but no restraint had been put upon him; and she did not know to
what god or goddess he offered sacrifice. But last night an angel
visited her and told her that that which she had always been seeking
(though she had forgotten it) awaited her in the synagogue. So she had
gone thither and was not disappointed. I've always been seeking him of
whom thou speakest. Her very words, and the very intonation of her voice
in these words came back to him; he had put questions to her, and they
had not come to the end of their talk when Laos, calling from the
doorstep, said: wilt pass the door, Eunice, without asking the stranger
to cross it? Whereupon she turned her eyes on Paul and asked him to
forgive her for her forgetfulness, and Barnabas arriving at that moment,
she begged him to enter.

And they had stayed on and on, exceeding their apportioned time,
Barnabas reproving the delay, but always agreeing that their departure
should be adjourned since it was Paul's wish to adjourn it. So Barnabas
had always spoken, for he was a weak man, and Paul acknowledged to
himself that he too was a weak man in those days.

Laos seemed to love Barnabas as a mother, and Laos and Eunice were
received by me into the faith, Paul said. On these words his thoughts
floated away and he became absorbed in recollections of the house in
Lystra. The months he had spent with these two women had been given to
him, no doubt, as a recompense for the labours he had endured to bring
men to believe that by faith only in our Lord Jesus Christ could they be
saved. He would never see Lystra again with his physical eye, but it
would always be before him in his mind's eye: that terrible day the Jews
had dragged him and Barnabas outside the town rose up before him. Only
by feigning death did they escape the fate of Stephen. In the evening
the disciples brought them back. Laos and Eunice sponged their wounds,
and at daybreak they left for Derbe, Barnabas saying that perhaps God
was angry at their delay in Lystra and to bring them back to his work
had bidden the Jews stone them without killing them. Eunice was not sure
that Barnabas had not spoken truly, and Paul remembered with gratitude
that she always put his mission before herself. Thou'lt be safer, she
said, in Derbe, and from Derbe thou must go on carrying the glad tidings
to the ends of the earth. But thou must not forget thy Galatians, and
when thou returnest to Lystra Timothy will be old enough to follow thee.
He had fared for ever onwards over seas and lands, ever mindful of his
faithful Galatians and Eunice and her son whom she had promised to him,
and whom he had left learning Greek so that he might fulfil the duties
of amanuensis.

The silence of the gorge and the murmur of the brook enticed
recollections and he was about to abandon himself to memories of his
second visit to Lystra when a voice startled him from his reverie, and,
looking round, he saw a tall, thin man who held his head picturesquely.
I presume you are our guest, and seeing you alone, I laid my notes aside
and have come to offer my services to you. Your services? Paul repeated.
If you desire my services, Mathias replied; and if I am mistaken, and
you do not require them, I will withdraw and apologise for my intrusion.
For your intrusion? Paul repeated. I am your guest, and the guest of the
Essenes, for last night Timothy and myself were assailed by the Jews. By
the Jews? Mathias replied, but we are Jews. Whereupon Paul told him of
his journey from Cæsarea, and that he barely escaped drowning in the
Jordan. In the escape from drowning Mathias showed little interest, but
he was curious to hear the doctrine that had given so much offence. I
spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul answered, the one Mediator between
God and man who was sent by his Father to redeem the world. Only by
faith in him the world may be saved, and the Jews will not listen. A
hard, bitter, cruel race they are, that God will turn from in the end,
choosing another from the Gentiles, since they will not accept him whom
God has chosen to redeem men by the death and resurrection from the dead
of the Lord Jesus Christ, raised from the dead by his Father. Mathias
raised his eyes at the words "resurrection from the dead." Of whom was
Paul speaking? He could still be interested in miracles, but not in the
question whether the corruptible body could be raised up from earth to
heaven. He had wearied of that question long ago, and was now propense
to rail against the little interest the Jews took in certain
philosophical questions--the relation of God to the universe, and
suchlike--and he began to speak to Paul of his country, Egypt, and of
Alexandria's schools of philosophy, continuing in this wise till Paul
asked him how it was that he had left a country where the minds of the
people were in harmony with his mind to come to live among people whose
thoughts were opposed to his. That would be a long story to tell,
Mathias answered, and I am in the midst of my argument.

The expression that began to move over Mathias' face told Paul that he
was asking himself once again what his life would have been if he had
remained in Alexandria. Talking, he said, to these Essenes who stand
midway between Jerusalem and Alexandria my life has gone by. Why I
remained with them so long is a question I have often asked myself. Why
I came hither with them from the cenoby on the eastern bank, that, too,
is a matter that I have never been able to decide. You have heard, he
continued, of the schism of the Essenes. How those on the eastern bank
believe that the order can only be preserved by marriage, while those on
the western bank, the traditionalists up there on that rock in that
aerie, would rather the order died than that any change should be made
in the rule of life. In answer to a question from Paul he said he did
not believe that the order would survive the schism. It may be, too,
that I return to Alexandria. No man knows his destiny; but if you be
minded, he said, to hear me, I will reserve a place near to me. My mind
is distracted, Paul replied, by fears for the safety of Timothy; and
perhaps to save himself from Mathias' somewhat monotonous discourse he
spoke of his apostolic mission, interesting Mathias at once, who began
to perceive that Paul, however crude and elementary his conceptions
might be (so crude did they appear to Mathias that he was not inclined
to include them in his code of philosophical notions at all), was a
story in himself, and one not lacking in interest; his ideas though
crude were not common, and their talk had lasted long enough for him to
discern many original turns of speech in Paul's incorrect Greek,
altogether lacking in construction, but betraying constantly an abrupt
vigour of thought. He was therefore disappointed when Paul, dropping
suddenly the story of the apostolic mission, which he had received from
the apostles, who themselves had received it from the Lord Jesus Christ,
began to tell suddenly that on his return from his mission to Cyprus
with Barnabas he had preached in Derbe and Lystra. It was in Lystra, he
cried, that I met Timothy, whom I circumcised with my own hand; he was
then a boy of ten, and his mother, who was a pious, God-fearing woman,
foresaw in him a disciple, and said when we left, after having been
cured by her and her mother of our wounds, when thou returnest to the
Galatians he will be nearly old enough to follow thee, but tarry not so
long, she added. But it was a long while before I returned to Lystra,
and then Timothy was a young man, and ever since our lives have been
spent in the Lord's service, suffering tortures from robbers that sought
to obtain ransom. We have been scourged and shipwrecked. But, said
Mathias, interrupting him, I know not of what you are speaking, and Paul
was obliged to go over laboriously in words the story that he had
dreamed in a few seconds. And when it was told Mathias said: your story
is worth telling. After my lecture the brethren will be glad to listen
to you. But, said Paul, what I have told you is nothing to what I could
tell; and Mathias answered: so much the better, for I shall not have to
listen to a twice-told story. And now, he added, I must leave you, for I
have matter that must be carefully thought out, and in those ruins
yonder my best thinking is done.

Speak to the Essenes; tell them of my conversion? Paul repeated. Why
not? he asked himself, since he was here and could not leave till
nightfall. Festus had given him leave to go to Jericho to preach while
waiting for the ship that was to take him to Rome, and he had found in
Jericho the intolerance that had dragged him out of the Temple at
Jerusalem; circumcision of the flesh but no circumcision of the
spirit.... But here! He had been led to the Essenes by God, and all that
had seemed dark the night before now seemed clear to him. There was no
longer any doubt in his mind that the Lord wished his chosen people to
hear the truth before his servant Paul left Palestine for ever. He had
been led by the Lord among these rocks, perhaps to find twelve
disciples, who would leave their rocks when they heard the truth of the
death and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth and would carry the joyful
tidings to the ends of the earth.



CHAP. XXXIII.


The Essenes, ten in number, were seated in an embrasure. A reader had
been chosen (an elder) to read the Scriptures, and the attention of the
community was now engaged in judgment of his attempt to reconcile two
passages, one taken from Numbers in which it is said that God is not as
man, with another passage taken from Deuteronomy in which God is said to
be as man. He had just finished telling the brethren that these two
passages were not in contradiction, the second being introduced for the
instruction of the multitude and not because the nature of man is as
God's nature, and, on second thoughts, he added: nor must it be
forgotten that the Book of Deuteronomy was written when we were a
wandering tribe come out of the desert of Arabia, without towns or
cities, without a Temple, without an Ark--ours having fallen into the
hands of the Philistines. He continued his gloss till Mathias held up
his hand and asked Hazael's permission to speak: the words that had been
quoted from Deuteronomy, those in which the Scriptures speak of God as
if he were a man, attributing to him the acts and motives of man, were
addressed, as our reader has pointed out, to men who had hardly advanced
beyond the intelligence of childhood, whose minds were still simple and
unable to receive any idea of God except the primitive notion that God
is a greater man. Now the reason for my interruption is this: I should
like to point out that for those who have passed beyond this stage,
whose intelligence is not limited to their imagination, and whose will
is not governed by selfish fears and hopes, there is another lesson in
the words: we can rise to the consciousness of God as an absolute Being,
of whom we know only that he is, and not what he is, and this is what is
meant when God is spoken of by the name I am that I am.

Eleazar was minded to speak: Mathias begged of him not to withhold his
thoughts, but to speak them, and it was at this moment that Paul
entered, walking softly, lest his footsteps should interrupt Eleazar,
whom he heard say that he disagreed with the last part of Mathias'
speech, inasmuch as it would be against the word of the Scriptures and
likewise against all tradition to accept God as no more than the
absolute substance, which strictly taken would exclude all differences
and relation, even the differences and relation of subject and object in
self-consciousness. I shall not be lacking in appreciation of the wisdom
of our learned brother, Paul heard him say, if I venture to hold to the
idea of a God whom we know at least to be conscious, for he says: I am,
a statement which had much interest for Paul; and while considering it
he heard Manahem say: it is hard to conceive of God except as a high
principle of being and well-being in the universe, who binds all things
to each other in binding them to himself. Then there are two Gods and
not one God, Saddoc interposed quickly, an objection to which Manahem
made this answer: not two Gods but two aspects, thereby confuting Saddoc
for the moment, who muttered: two aspects which have, however, to be
reduced to unity.

Paul's eyes went from Saddoc to Mathias, and he thought that Mathias'
face wore an expression of amused contempt as he listened and called
upon other disputants to contribute their small thoughts to the
discussion. Encouraged by a wave of his hand, Caleb ventured to remark:
there is God and there is the word of God, to which Hazael murmured this
reply: there is only one God; one who watches over his chosen people and
over all the other nations of the earth. But does God love the other
nations as dearly as the Hebrew people? Manahem asked, and Hazael
answered him: we may not discriminate so far into the love of God, it
being infinite, but this we may say, that it is through the Hebrew
people that God makes manifest his love of mankind, on condition, let it
be understood, of their obedience to his revealed will. And if I may add
a few words to the idea so eloquently suggested by our Brother Mathias,
I would say that God is the primal substance out of which all things
evolve. But these words must not be taken too literally, thereby
refusing to God a personal consciousness, for God knows certainly all
the differences and all the relations, and we should overturn all the
teaching of Scripture and lose ourselves in the errors of Greek
philosophy if we held to the belief of a God, absolute, pure, simple,
detached from all concern with his world and his people. But in what
measure, Manahem asked, laying his scroll upon his knees and leaning
forward, his long chin resting on his hand, in what measure, he asked,
speaking out of his deepest self, are we to look upon God as a conscious
being; if Mathias could answer that question we should be grateful, for
it is the question which torments every Essene in the solitude of his
cell.

Has any other brother here a word to say? Now you, Brother Caleb? I am
sure there is a thought in your heart that we would all like to hear.
Brother Saddoc, I call upon thee! Brother Saddoc seemed to have no wish
to speak, but Mathias continued to press him, saying. Brother Saddoc,
for what else hast thou been seeking in thy scroll but for a text
whereon to base an argument? And seeing that it was impossible for him
to escape from the fray of argument, Brother Saddoc answered that he
took his stand upon Deuteronomy. Do we not read that the Lord thy God
that goeth before thee shall fight for thee, and in the desert thou hast
seen that he bore thee, as a man bears his sons, all the way that ye
went till ye came unto this place. But Saddoc, Eleazar interrupted, has
forgotten that one of the leading thoughts in this discourse is that the
words in Deuteronomy were written for starving tribes that came out of
Arabia rather than for us to whom God has given the land of Canaan. We
were then among the rudiments of the world and man was but a child,
incapable, as Mathias has said, of the knowledge of God as an absolute
being. But then, answered Saddoc, the Scriptures were not written for
all time. Was anything, Mathias murmured, written for all time? Paul was
about to ask himself if Mathias numbered God among the many things that
time wastes away when his thought was interrupted by Manahem asking how
we are to understand the words, the heavens were created before the
earth. Do the Scriptures mean that intelligence is prior to sense?
Mathias' face lighted up, and, foreseeing his opportunity to make show
of his Greek proficiency he began: heaven is our intelligence and the
earth our sensibility. The spirit descended into matter, and God created
man according to his image, as Moses said and said well, for no creature
is more like to God than man: not in bodily form (God is without body),
but in his intelligence; for the intelligence of every man is in a
little the intelligence of the universe, and it may be said that the
intelligence lives in the flesh that bears it as God himself lives in
the universe, being in some sort a God of the body, which carries it
about like an image in a shrine. Thus the intelligence occupies the same
place in man as the great President occupies in the universe--being
itself invisible while it sees everything, and having its own essence
hidden while it penetrates the essences of all other things. Also, by
its arts and sciences, it finds its way through the earth and through
the seas, and searches out everything that is contained in them. And
then again it rises on wings and, looking down upon the air and all its
commotions, it is borne upwards to the sky and the revolving heavens and
accompanies the choral dances of the planets and stars fixed according
to the laws of music. And led by love, the guide of wisdom, it proceeds
still onward till it transcends all that is capable of being apprehended
by the senses, and rises to that which is perceptible only by the
intellect. And there, seeing in their surpassing beauty the original
ideas and archetypes of all the things which sense finds beautiful, it
becomes possessed by a sober intoxication, like the Corybantian
revellers, and is filled with a still stronger longing, which bears it
up to the highest summit of the intelligible world till it seems to
approach to the great king of the intelligible world himself. And while
it is eagerly seeking to behold him in all his glory, rays of divine
light are pouring forth upon it which by their exceeding brilliance
dazzle the eyes of the intelligence.

Whilst he spoke, his periods constructed with regard for every comma,
Mathias' eyes were directed so frequently towards Paul that Paul could
not but think that Mathias was vaunting his knowledge of Greek
expressly, as if to reprove him, Paul, for the Aramaic idiom that he had
never been able to wring out of his Greek, which he regretted, but
which, after hearing Mathias, he would not be without; for to rid
himself of it he would have to sacrifice the spirit to the outer form;
as well might he offer sacrifice to the heathen gods; and he could not
take his eyes off the tall, lean figure showing against the blue sky,
for Mathias spoke from the balcony, flinging his grey locks from his
forehead, uncertain if he should break into another eloquent period or
call upon Paul to speak. He was curious to hear Paul, having divined a
quick intelligence beneath an abrupt form that was withal not without
beauty; he advanced towards Hazael and, leaning over his chair,
whispered to him. He is telling, Paul said to himself, that it would be
well to hear me as I am about to start for Rome to proclaim the truth in
that city wherein all nations assemble. Well, let it be so, since it was
to this I was called hither.

Hazael raised his eyes and was about to ask Paul to speak, but at that
moment the bakers arrived with their bread baskets, and the Essenes
moved from the deep embrasure in the wall into the domed gallery, each
one departing into his cell and returning clothed in a white garment and
white veil. Paul was about to withdraw, but Hazael said to him: none
shares this repast with us; it is against the rule; but so many of the
rules of the brethren have been set aside in these later days that, with
the consent of all, I will break another rule and ask Paul of Tarsus to
sit with us though he be not of our brotherhood, for is he not our
brother in the love of God, which he has preached travelling over sea
and land with it for ever in his mouth for the last twenty years.
Preaching, Paul answered, the glad tidings of the resurrection,
believing myself to have been bidden by the same will of God that called
me hither and saved me from death many times that I might continue to be
the humble instrument of his will. I will tell you that I was behoven to
preach in Jericho--called out of myself--God knowing well they would not
hear me and would drive me into the mountains and turn my feet by night
to this place. Be it so, Paul, thou shalt tell thy story, the president
answered, and the cook put a plate of lentils before the brethren and
the baker set by each plate a loaf of bread, and everyone waited till
the grace had been repeated before he tasted food. The peace, concord
and good will; all that he had recommended in his Epistles; Paul saw
around him, and he looked forward to teaching the Essenes of the
approaching end of the world, convinced that God in his great justice
would not allow him, Paul, to leave Palestine without every worthy
servant hearing the truth. So he was impatient to make an end of the
food before him, for the sustenance of the body was of little importance
to him, its only use being to bear the spirit and to fortify it. He took
counsel therefore with himself while eating as to the story he should
tell, and his mind was ready with it when the president said: Paul, our
meal is finished now; we would hear thee.



CHAP. XXXIV.


Yesterday the Jews would have thrown me into the Jordan or stoned me
together with Timothy, my son in the faith, who instead of following me
round the hill shoulder kept straight on for Cæsarea, where I pray that
I may find him. These things you know of me, for three of the brethren
were on that balcony yesternight when, upheld by the will of God, my
feet were kept fast in the path that runs round this ravine. The Jews
had abandoned their hunt when I arrived at your door, awakening fear in
Brother Saddoc's heart that I was a robber or the head of some band of
robbers. Such thoughts must have disturbed his mind when he saw me, and
they were not driven off when I declared myself a prisoner to the
Romans; for he besought me to depart lest my presence should bring all
here within the grip of the Roman power. A hard and ruthless power it
may be, but less bitter than the power which the Jews crave from the
Romans to compel all to follow not the law alone, but the traditions
that have grown about the law. But you brethren who send no fat rams to
the Temple for sacrifice, but worship God out of your own hearts, will
have pity for me who have been persecuted by the Jews of Jerusalem (who
in their own eyes are the only Jews) for no reason but that I preach the
death and the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose
apostle I am, being so made by himself when he spoke to me out of the
clouds on the road to Damascus.

Of this great wonder you shall hear in good time, but before beginning
the story you have asked me to relate I would before all calm Brother
Saddoc's fears: I am no prisoner as he imagines me to be, but am under
the law to return to Cæsarea, having appealed to Cæsar as was my right
to do, being a Roman citizen long persecuted by the Jews; and I would
thank you for the blankets I enjoyed last night and for the bread I have
broken with you. Also for the promise that I have that one of you shall
at nightfall put me on the way to Cæsarea and accompany me part of the
way, so that I may not fall into the hands of my enemies the Jews, of
Jerusalem, but shall reach Cæsarea to take ship for Rome. None of you
need fear anything; you have my assurances; I am here by the permission
of the noble Festus.

And now that you have learnt from me the hazard that cast me among you I
will tell you that I am a Jew like yourselves: one born in Tarsus, a
great city of Cilicia; a Roman citizen as you have heard from me, a
privilege which was not bought by me for a great sum of money, nor by
any act of mine, but inherited from my father, a Hebrew like yourselves,
and descended from the stock of Abraham like yourselves. And by trade a
weaver of that cloth of which tents are made; for my father gave me that
trade, for which I thank him, for by it I have earned my living these
many years, in various countries and cities. At an early age I was a
skilful hand at the loom, and at the same time learned in the
Scriptures, and my father, seeing a Rabbi in me, sent me to Jerusalem,
and while I was taught the law I remember hearing of the Baptist, and
the priests of the Temple muttering against him, but they were afraid to
send men against him, for he was in great favour with the people.
Afterwards I returned to Tarsus, where I worked daily at my loom until
tidings came to that city that a disciple of John was preaching the
destruction of the law, saying that he could destroy the Temple and
build it up again in three days. We spoke under our breaths in Tarsus of
this man, hardly able to believe that anyone could be so blasphemous and
reprobate, and when we heard of his death upon a cross we were overjoyed
and thought the Pharisees had done well; for we were full of zeal for
the traditions and the ancient glory of our people. We believed then
that heresy and blasphemy were at an end, and when news came of one
Stephen, who had revived all the stories that Jesus told, that the end
of the world was nigh and that the Temple could be destroyed and built
up again, I laid my loom aside and started for Jerusalem in great anger
to join with those who would root out the Nazarenes: we are now known as
Christians, the name given to us at Antioch.

I was telling that I laid aside my loom in Tarsus and set out for
Jerusalem to aid in rooting out the sect that I held to be blasphemous
and pernicious. Now on the day of my arrival in that city, while coming
from the Temple I saw three men hurrying by, one whose face was white as
the dead, with a small crowd following; and everyone saying: not here,
not here! And as they spoke stones were being gathered, and I knew that
they were for stoning the man they had with them, one Stephen, they
said, who had been teaching in the Temple that Jesus was born and died
and raised from the dead, and that since his death the law is of no
account. So did I gather news and with it abhorrence, and followed them
till they came to an angle, at which they said: this corner will do.
Stephen was thrown into it, and stones of all kinds were heaped upon him
till one spattered his brains along the wall, after which the crowd
muttered, we shall have no more of them.

That day I was of the crowd, and the stone that spattered the brains of
Stephen along the wall seemed to me to have been well cast; I hated
those who spoke against the law of our fathers, which I held in
reverence, as essential and to be practised for all time; and the mild
steadfastness in their faces, and the great love that shone in their
eyes when the name of our Lord Jesus Christ was mentioned, instead of
persuading me that I might be persecuting saints, exasperated me to
further misdeeds. I became foremost in these persecutions, and informed
by spies of the names of the saints, I made search in their houses at
the head of armed agents and dragged them into the synagogue, compelling
them to renounce the truth that the Messiah had come which had been
promised in the Scriptures. Nor was I satisfied when the last Nazarene
had been rooted out of Jerusalem, but cast my eyes forward to other
towns, into which the saints might have fled, and, hearing that many
were in Damascus, I got letters from the chief priests and started forth
in a fume of rage which I strove to blow up with the threats of what we
would put the saints to when we reached Damascus. But while the threats
were on my lips there was in my heart a mighty questioning, from which I
did not seem to escape, perhaps because I had not thrown a stone but
stood by an approving spectator merely. I know not how it was, but as we
forded the Jordan the cruelties that I had been guilty of, the
inquisitions, the beatings with rods, the imprisonment--all these things
rose up in my mind, a terrible troop of phantoms. Gentle faces and words
of forgiveness floated past me one night as we lay encamped in a great
quarry, and I asked myself again if these saints were what they seemed
to be; and soon after the thought crossed my mind that if the Nazarenes
were the saints that they seemed to be, bearing their flogging and
imprisonments with fortitude, without complaint, it was of persecuting
God I was guilty, since all goodness comes from God.

I had asked for letters from Hanan, the High Priest, that would give me
the right to arrest all ill thinkers, and to lead them back in chains to
Jerusalem, and these letters seemed to take fire in my bosom, and when
we came in view of the town, and saw the roofs between the trees, I
heard a voice crying to me: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is
hard for thee to kick against the pricks; and trembling I fell forward,
my face upon the ground, and the Lord said: I am Jesus whom thou
persecutest. Arise, and go into the city and it shall be told to thee
what thou must do; by these words appointing me his apostle and
establishing my rights above those of Peter or John or James or any of
the twelve who walked with him whilst he lived as a man in Galilee. My
followers, who were merely stricken, but not blinded as I was, took me
by the arm and led me into Damascus, where I abode as a blind man till
Ananias laid his hands upon me and the scales fell from my eyes, and I
cried out for baptism, and having received baptism, which is spiritual
strength, and taken food, which is bodily, I went up to the synagogue to
preach that Jesus is the son of God, and continued till the Jews in that
city rose up against me and would have killed me if I had not escaped by
night, let down from the wall in a basket.

From Damascus I went into Arabia, and did not go up to Jerusalem for
three years to confer with the apostles, nor was there need that I
should do so, for had I not received my apostleship by direct
revelation? But after three years I went thither, hearing that the
persecutions had ceased, and that some of those whom I had persecuted
had returned. The brother of Jesus, James, had come down from Galilee
and as a holy man was a great power in Jerusalem. His prayers were
valued, and his appearance excited pity and belief that God would
hearken to him when he knelt, for he was naked but for a coarse cloth
hanging from his neck to his ankles. Of water and cleanliness he knew
naught, and his beard and hair grew as the weeds grow in the fields.
Peter, too, was in Jerusalem, and come into a great girth since the toil
of his craft, as a fisher, had been abandoned, as it had to be, for, as
ye know, it is dry desert about Jerusalem, without lakes or streams. But
he lived there better than he had ever lived before, by talking of our
Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it was no longer a danger to talk, for James
had made his brother acceptable in Jerusalem by lopping from him all
that was Jesus, making him according to his own image; with these
Christians he no longer stood up as an opponent of the law, but as one
who believed in it, who had said: I come not to abolish the law but to
confirm it. So did his brother James interpret Jesus to me who had heard
Jesus speak out of the spirit, and when I answered that he had said too
that he had come to abolish the law, James answered only that his
brother had said many things and that some were not as wise as others.
Peter, who was called upon to testify that Jesus wished the Jews to
remain Jews, and that circumcision and all the observances were needed,
answered that he did not know which was the truth, Jesus not having
spoken plainly on these matters, and neither one nor the other seemed to
understand that it was of no avail that Jesus should have been born,
should have died and been raised from the dead by his Father if the law
were to prevail unchanged for evermore. To James and to Peter Jesus was
a prophet, but no more than the prophets, and unable to understand
either Peter or Jesus, I returned to Tarsus broken-hearted, for there
did not seem to be on earth a true Christian but myself, and I knew not
whom to preach to, Gentiles or Jews. Only of one thing was I sure, that
the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken to me out of the clouds and ordained me
his apostle, but he had not pointed out the way, and I mourned that I
had gone up to Jerusalem, and abode in Tarsus disheartened, resuming my
loom, sitting at it from daylight till dark, waiting for some new sign
to be given me, for I did not lose hope altogether, but, knowing well
that the ways of Providence are not immediate, waited in patience or in
such patience as I might possess myself. Barnabas I had forgotten, and
he was forgotten when I said that I had met none in Jerusalem that could
be said to be a follower of the Master.

It was Barnabas who brought me to James, the brother of the Lord, and to
Peter, and told them that though I had persecuted I was now zealous, and
had preached in many synagogues that Christ Jesus had died and been
raised from the dead. But whether they feared me as a spy, one who would
betray them, or whether it was that our minds were divided upon many
things, I know not, but Barnabas could not persuade them, and, as I have
said, I left Jerusalem and returned to Tarsus, and resumed my trade,
until Barnabas, who had been sent to Antioch to meet some disciples,
said to them, but there is one at Tarsus who has preached the life and
death of our Lord Jesus Christ and brought many to believe in him. So
they said to him: go to Tarsus for this man and bring him hither. And
when they had seen and conferred with me and knew what sort of man I
was, Barnabas said, with your permission and your authority, Paul and I
will start together for Cyprus, for that is my country, and my friends
there will believe us when we tell them that Jesus was raised from the
dead and was seen by many: first by Martha and Mary, the sisters of
Lazarus, and afterwards by Peter and by the apostles and many others. As
the disciples were willing that we should go to preach the Gospel in
Cyprus, we went thither furnished with letters, and received a kindly
welcome from everybody, as it had been foretold by Barnabas, and many
heard the Gospel, and if my stay among you Essenes could be prolonged
beyond this evening and for several days I could tell you stories of a
great magician and how he was confuted by me by the grace of God working
through me, but as everything cannot be told in the first telling I will
pass from Cyprus back to Antioch, where we rested awhile, so that we
might tell the brethren of the great joy with which the faith had been
received in Cyprus, of the churches we founded and our promise to the
Cyprians to return to them.

And so joyful were the brethren in Antioch at our success that I said to
Barnabas: let us not tarry here, but go on into Galatia. We set out,
accompanied by John Mark, Barnabas' cousin, but he left us at Perga,
being afraid, and for his lack of courage I was unable to forgive him,
thereby estranging myself later on from Barnabas, a God-fearing man. But
to tell you what happened at Lystra. We found the people there ready to
listen to the faith, and it was given to me to set a cripple that had
never walked in his life straight upon his feet, and as sturdily as any.
The people cried out at this wonder, the gods have come down to us, and
when the rumour reached the High Priest that the gods had come to their
city, he drove out two oxen, garlanded, and would have sacrificed them
in our honour, but we tore our garments, saying, we are men like
yourselves and have come to preach that you should turn from vanities
and false gods and worship the one true living God, who created the
earth, and all the firmament. The people heard us and promised to abjure
their idolatries, and would have abjured them for ever if the Jews from
the neighbouring cities had not heard of our preaching and had not
gathered together and denounced us in Lystra, where there were no Jews,
or very few. Nor were they content with denouncing us, but on a
convenient occasion dragged Barnabas and myself outside the town, stoned
us and left us for dead, for we, knowing that God required us, feigned
death, thereby deceiving them and escaping death we returned to the town
by night and left it next day for Derbe.

Now, Essenes, this story that I tell of what happened to us at Lystra
has been told with some care by me, for it is significant of what has
happened to me for twenty years, since the day, as you have heard, when
the Lord Jesus himself spoke to me out of the clouds and appointed me to
preach the Gospel he had given unto me, which, upheld by him, I have
preached faithfully, followed wherever I went by persecution from Jews
determined to undo my work. But undeterred by stones and threats, we
returned to Lystra and preached there again, and in Perga and Attalia,
from thence we sailed to Antioch, and there were great rejoicings in
Saigon Street, as we sat in the doorways telling of the churches that we
founded in Galatia, and how we flung open the door of truth to the
pagans, and how many had passed through.

But some came from Jerusalem preaching that the uncircumcised could not
hope for salvation, and that there could be no conversion unless the law
be observed, and the first observance of the law, they said, is
circumcision. We answered them as is our wont that it is no longer by
observances of the law but by grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that
men may be saved; and we being unable to yield to them or they to us, it
was resolved that Barnabas and Titus, a Gentile that we brought over to
the faith, should go to Jerusalem.

On the way thither we preached that the Saviour promised to the Jews had
come, and been raised from the dead, and the Samaritans hearkened and
were converted in great numbers, and the news of these conversions
preceding us the joy among the brethren was very great, for you, who
know the Scriptures, need not be told that the conversion of the
Gentiles has been foretold; nor was it till we began to talk about the
abrogation of the law that James and the followers of James rose up
against us. We wondered, and said to each other: were ever two brothers
as unlike as these? Though myself had never seen the Lord in the flesh,
I knew of him from Peter, and we whispered together with our eyes fixed
on the long, lean man whose knees were reported callous from kneeling in
the Temple praying that God might not yet awhile destroy the world. It
was sufficient, so it was said, for him to hold up his hand to perform
miracles, and we came to dislike him and to remember that he had always
looked upon Jesus our Lord with suspicion during his lifetime. Why then,
we asked, should he come into power derived from his brother's glory?

He seemed to be less likely than any other Jew to understand the new
truth born into the world. So I turned from him to Peter, in whom I
thought to find an advocate, knowing him to be one with us in this,
saying that it were vain to ask the Gentiles to accept a yoke which the
Hebrews themselves had been unable to bear; but Peter was still the
timid man that he had ever been, and myself being of small wit in large
and violent assemblies said to him: thou and I and James will consult
together in private at the end of this uproar. But James could not come
to my reason, saying always that the Gentiles must become Jews before
they became Christians; and remembering very well all the trouble and
vexation the demand for the circumcision of Titus had put upon me (to
which I consented, for with a Jew I am a Jew so that I may gain them),
and how he had submitted himself lest he should be a stumbling-block, I
said to Timothy, my own son in the faith, thy mother and grandmother
were hearers of the law, and he answered, let me be a Jew externally,
and myself took and circumcised. A good accommodation Peter thought this
to be, and I said to Peter, henceforth for thee the circumcised and for
me the uncircumcised. Against which Peter and James had nothing to say,
for it seemed to them that the uncircumcised were one thing in Jerusalem
and another thing beyond Jerusalem. But I was glad thus to come to terms
with them, thinking thereby to obtain from them the confirmation of my
apostleship, though there was no need for any such, as I have always
held, it having teen bestowed upon me by our Lord Jesus Christ himself;
and holding it to be of little account that they had known our Lord
Jesus in the flesh, I said to their faces, it were better to have known
him in the spirit, thereby darkening them. It might have been better to
have held back the words.

Myself and Barnabas and Titus returned to Antioch and it was some days
after that I said to Barnabas: let us go again into the cities in which
we have preached and see if the brethren abide in our teaching and how
they do with it. But Barnabas would bring John Mark with him, he who had
left us before in Perga from cowardice of soul. Therefore I chose Silas
and departed. He was our warrant that we were one with the Church of
Jerusalem, which was true inasmuch as we were willing to yield all but
essential things so that everybody, Jews and Gentiles, might be brought
into communion with Jesus Christ.

We went together to Lystra and Mysia, preaching in all these towns, and
the brethren were confirmed in their faith in us, and leaving them we
were about to set out for Bithynia and would have gone thither had we
not been warned one night by the Holy Breath to go back, and instead we
went to Troas, where one night a vision came to me in my sleep: a man
stood before me at the foot of my bed, a Macedonian I knew him to be, by
his dress and speech, for he spoke not the broken Greek that I speak,
but pure Greek, the Greek that Mathias speaks, and he told me that we
were to go over into Macedonia.

To tell of all the countries we visited and the towns in which we
preached, and the many that were received into the faith, would be a
story that would carry us through the night and into the next day, for
it would be the story of my life, and every life is long when it is put
into words; nor would the story be profitable unto you in any great
measure, though it be full of various incidents. But I am behoven to
tell that wherever we went the persecution that began in Lystra followed
us. As soon as the Jews heard of our conversions they assembled either
to assault us or to lay complaints before the Roman magistrates, as they
did at Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia. Among my miracles was the
conversion of a slave, a pythonist, a teller of fortunes, a caster of
horoscopes, who brought her master good money by her divinations, and
seeing that he would profit thereby no longer, he drew myself and Silas
into the market-place and calling for help of others had us brought
before the rulers, and the pleading of the man was, and he was supported
by others, that we taught many things that it was not lawful of them,
being Jews, to hearken to, and the magistrates, wishing to please the
multitude, commanded us to be beaten, and when many stripes had been
laid on us we were cast into prison, and the jailer being charged to
keep us in safety thrust our feet into the stocks.

Myself and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God despite our wounds,
and as if in response there was a great earthquake, and the prison was
shaken and all the doors opened, on seeing which the keeper of the
prison drew his sword and would have fallen upon it, believing that the
prisoners had fled, if I had not cried to him in a loud voice: there is
no reason to kill thyself, for thy charges are here. What may I do to be
saved? he said, being greatly astonished at the miracle, and we
answered: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thereupon he invited us into
his house and set food before us, and he was baptized and bidden to have
no fear, for we confided to him that we were Romans, and that the
magistrates would tremble when they heard that they had ordered a
citizen of Rome to be beaten and him uncondemned. Why, he asked, did ye
not declare yourselves to be Romans? Because, we answered, we were
minded to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ's son, at which he wondered
and gave thanks. He was baptized by us, and when he had carried the news
of their mistake to the ears of the magistrates they sent sergeants
saying that we were to be allowed to go. But we refused to leave the
prison, saying, we are Romans and have been beaten uncondemned. Let the
magistrates come to fetch us. Which message being taken to them they
came beseeching us to go, and not to injure them, for they had done
wrong unwittingly, and taking pity of them for the sake of our Lord
Jesus Christ we passed into Thessalonica, where I preached in the
synagogues for three Sabbaths and reasoned with the Jews, showing them
passages in the Scriptures confirming all that we said to them about the
Christ that had suffered and been raised from the dead. Some believed,
and others assaulted the house of Jason, in which we were living, and
the Romans were perplexed to know how to keep order, for wherever we
went there were stirs and quarrels among the Jews, the fault being with
them and not with us. In Corinth too the Jews pleaded against us before
the Roman magistrates and----



CHAP. XXXV.


A sudden dryness in Paul's throat prevented him from finishing his
sentence, and he asked for a cup of water, and having drained it he put
down the cup and said, looking round, I was speaking to you about
Corinth. The moment seemed a favourable one to Mathias to ask a
question. How was it, he said, that you passed on to Corinth without
stopping at Athens? I made stay at Athens, Paul answered, and I thank
you, Mathias, for having reminded me of Athens, for the current of my
discourse had borne me past that city, so eager was I to tell of the
persecutions of the Jews. We are all Jews here! I speak only of the
Hierosolymites who understand only that the law has been revealed, and
we have only to follow it; though, indeed, some of them cannot tell us
why we should follow any law, since they do not believe in any life
except the sad life we lead on the surface of this earth.

But you asked me, Mathias, about Athens. A city of graven images and
statues and altars to gods. On raising my eyes I always saw their marble
deities--effigies, they said, of all the spirits of the earth and sea
and the clouds above the earth and the heavens beyond the clouds.
Whereupon I answered that these statues that they had carved with their
hands could in no wise resemble any gods even if the gods had existence
outside of their images, for none sees God. Moses heard God on Mount
Sinai, but he saw only the hinderparts; which is an allegory, for there
are two covenants, and I come to reveal---- Whereat they were much
amused and said: if Moses saw the hinderparts why should we not see the
faces, for our eyes see beauty, whereas the Hebrews see but the
backside? At which I showed no anger, for they were not Jews, but
strove, as it is my custom, to be all things to all men. The Jews
require a miracle, the Greeks demand reason, and therefore I asked them
why they set up altars to the unknowable God. And they said: Paul, thou
readest our language as badly as thou speakest it; we have inscriptions
"to unknown gods" but not to the unknowable God. Didst go to school at
Tarsus, yet canst not tell the plural from the singular? To which I
answered: then you are so religious-minded that you would not offend any
god whose name you might not have heard, and so favour him by the
inscription to an unknown God? But some of your philosophers, Athenians,
call God unknowable. I knew this before I learnt how superstitious ye
are. Ye are all alike ignorant since God left you to your sins for your
idolatry; God, unknown or unknowable, has been made manifest to us by
our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born like us all for a purpose, his
death, which was to save the world from its sins, whereupon, greedy for
a story, they began to listen to me, and I had their attention till I
came to these words--"And was raised by his Father from the dead." Paul,
they answered, we will listen another day to the rest of this story of
thy new divinity.

A frivolous people, Mathias, living in a city of statues in the air, and
in the streets below a city of men that seek after reason, and would
explain all things in the heavens above and the earth beneath by their
reason, and only willing to listen to the story of a miracle because
miracles amuse them. A race much given to enjoyment, like women,
Mathias, and among their mountains they are not a different race from
what they are in the city, but given to milking goats and dancing in the
shade to the sounds of a pipe, and dreaming over the past glories of
Athens, that are dust to-day though yesterday they were realities, a
light race that will be soon forgotten, and convinced of their
transience I departed for Corinth, a city of fencing masters, merchants,
slaves, courtesans, yet a city more willing to hearken to the truth than
the light Athenians, perhaps because it has much commerce and is not
slothful in business, a city wherein I fortuned upon a pious twain,
Aquila and Priscilla, of our faith, and of the same trade as myself,
wherefore we set up our looms together in one house and sold the cloths
as we weaved them, getting our living thereby and never costing the
faithful anything, which was just pride, and mine always, for I have
travelled the world over gaining a living with my own hands, never
taking money from anybody, though it has been offered to me in plenty by
the devout, thinking it better to be under no obligation, for such
destroys independence....

Once only was this rule broken by me. In Macedonia, a dyer of purple----
But Lydia's story concerns ye not, therefore I will leave her story
untold and return to Corinth, to Priscilla and Aquila, weavers like
myself, with whom I worked for eighteen months, and more than that;
preaching the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to all who
would hear us when our daily work was done, until the same fate befell
us--the intervention of the Jews, who sought to embroil us, as
beforetimes, with the Romans.

We preached in the synagogues on the Sabbath and I upheld the faith I
had come to preach: that the Messiah promised to the Jews had lived and
had died for us. Whereupon there was a great uproar among the Jews, who
would not believe, and so I tore my garments and said: then I will go
forth to the Gentiles, and find believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, and
leave you who were elected by God as his chosen people, who were his by
adoption, a privilege conferred upon you throughout the centuries, the
race out of whom came the patriarchs, and Jesus Christ himself in the
flesh. I will leave you, for you are not worthy and will perish as all
flesh perishes; will drift into nothingness, and be scattered even as
the dust of the roads is scattered by the winds. My heart is broken for
you, but since ye will it so, let it be so.

So did I speak, but my heart is often tenderer than my words, and I
strove again to be reconciled with the Jews, and abode in Corinth
proving their folly to them by the Scriptures till again they sought to
rid themselves of me by means of the Romans, saying before Gallic: this
fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. But Gallic,
understanding fully that his judgment seat had not been set up for the
settling of disputes of the spirit, but of the things of this world,
drove the Jews out of his court, and there was an uproar and Sosthenes,
a God-fearing man, was beaten. Yet for the sake of the race of the
patriarchs, the chosen people of God, I abode in Corinth till the close
of the second year, when news reached me of the many dissensions that
had arisen in Jerusalem.

The old questions always stirring: whether the Gentiles should be
admitted without circumcision and if the observances of the law were
sufficient; if salvation could be obtained by works without faith, and
many other questions that I thought had long been decided; in the hope
of putting an end to these discussions, which could only end in schism,
I bade the brethren good-bye on the wharf, and, shaving my head as a
sign of my vow to keep the Feast of Pentecost, I set sail with Aquila
and Priscilla for Syria and left them at Ephesus, though there were many
Christians there who prayed me to remain and speak to them; but pointing
to my shaved head, I said, my vow! and went down to Jerusalem and kept
the Feast of Pentecost and distributed money among the poor, which had
been given to me by the churches founded by me in Macedonia, in Greece
and Syria.

I hoped to escape from discussion with James, the brother of the Lord,
for of what good could it be to discuss once again things on which it is
our nature to think differently, but upheld by hope that the Jews might
be numbered among the faithful at the last day I told him that the Jews
were the root of the olive-trees whose branches had been cut, and had
received grafts, but let not the grafts, I said, indulge in vainglory;
it is not the branches that bear the root, but the root that bears the
branches. And many other things of this sort did I say, wishing to be in
all things conciliatory; to be, as usual, all things to all men; but
James, the brother of the Lord, answered that Jesus had not come to
abrogate the law but to confirm it, which was not true, for the law
stood in no need of confirmation. James could do that as well as his
brother and better, and Peter not being there to bear witness of the
teaching of Jesus (he too had gone forth upon a mission with John Mark
as an interpreter, for Peter cannot speak Greek), Silas, who was with
me, was won over by James, and easily, for Silas was originally of the
Church of Jerusalem; as I have already told you, he had been sent with
us to Antioch.

But I would not weary you with such small matters as Silas' desertion of
me to join Peter, who was preaching in Syria, and whose doctrine he said
was nearer to Jesus' than mine, it having been given to him by Jesus,
whom he had known in the flesh. So be it, I said to Silas, and went
without him to Antioch, a city dear to me for that it was there the word
Christian was spoken for the first time; my return thither was
fortunate, for there I met Barnabas, whom it was pleasant after these
many years to meet again, all memory of our dissension was forgotten,
which was no great matter, it having arisen out of no deeper cause than
my refusal to travel with John Mark, his cousin. Titus was there too,
and we had much to tell each other of our travels and the conversions we
had made, and all was joy amongst us; and our joy was increased by
Peter, who appeared amongst us, bringing Silas with him, who must have
been grieved though he said nothing to me of it; but who must have seen
that the law to which he was attached was forgotten at Antioch; not by
us only, but by his new leader, Peter, who mixed like ourselves with the
Gentiles and did not refuse to eat with them.

A moment indeed of great joy this was, but it did not last longer than
many other moments of the same kind with which my life has been
sprinkled. James, the brother of the Lord, sent up agents to Antioch
with letters signed by himself. They had come to tell the people that I
had not authority to teach, and could not be considered by anybody as a
true apostle, for I had not known the Christ, it was said: and when I
answered them that my authority came straight from him, they began to
make little of my revelation, saying: even if thou didst hear the Christ
on the road to Damascus, as thou sayest, it was but for a few minutes,
and he couldn't teach thee all his doctrine in a few minutes. A year or
more would be required. Thou wast deceived. No vision can be taken as of
equal evidence to the senses. Those that we see in a vision may be but
the evil spirits that, if it were possible, would deceive the very
elect. If we question an apparition it answers anything that we wish.
The spectre shines for an instant and disappears quickly before one has
time to put further questions; the thoughts of the dreamer are not under
his control. To see the Son of God outside of the natural flesh is
impossible. Even an angel wishing to be seen has to clothe himself in
flesh. Nor were they satisfied with such sayings as these, but mentioned
the vision of infidels and evil livers, and to support their argument
thus quoted Scripture, proving that God sent visions when he was
irritated. As in Numbers, murmured Eleazar. And likewise in Exodus, said
Manahem, and he turned over the quires before him. These emissaries and
agents asked me how it was that even if Jesus had appeared to me he
could not have instructed me wrongly. If I wished to prove the truth of
my vision it were better for me to accept the teaching of the apostles,
who had received it directly from him; to which I made answer: my
revelation was not from Jesus when he lived in the flesh, but from the
spiritual Jesus; the spirit descended out of heaven to instruct me, and
if God has created us, which none will deny, he has created our souls
wherewith to know him, and he needs not the authority of other apostles
who speak as men, falling into the errors that men must fall into when
they speak, for every man's truth is made known unto him by God.

One day we came out of a house heated with argument, and as we loitered
by the pavement's edge regretting we had not said certain things whereby
we might have confuted each other, we came upon Peter in a public inn,
eating and drinking with the uncircumcised, whereupon the Hierosolymites
said we see now what ye are, Peter, a Jew that eats with Gentiles and of
unclean meats. Peter did not withstand them and say as he should have
done: how is it that you call them that God has made unclean? but being
a timid man and anxious always to avoid schism, he excused himself and
withdrew, and was followed by Barnabas and Silas.

It was for this that I withstood him before all in the assembly,
reproaching him for his inconsequences, saying to him: if thou that art
a Jew livest according to the manner of Gentiles, how is it that thou
wouldst compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews do? and until this man
came thou wert one with us, saying as we say, that none is justified by
conforming to the law and practising it, but by the faith in Jesus
Christ. But if we seek justification in Christ, and in him alone, and
yet are found to be sinners, of what help is Christ then to us? Is he a
minister of sinners? God forbid! By his life and death he abolished the
law, whereby we might live in faith in Christ, for the law stands
between us and Christ. I say unto thee, Peter, that if Christ was
crucified for me I live in Christ; no longer my own life of the flesh,
but the spiritual life that Christ has given me. I say unto thee
likewise, that if we care only to know Christ through the law then
Christ has died in vain. To which Peter answered nothing, but went his
way, as is his custom, in silence, and my grief was great; for I could
see that the many were shocked, and wondered at our violence, and could
not have said else than that we were divided among ourselves, though
they said it under their breath. Nor did peace come till the emissaries
of James left us to go to the churches I had founded in Galatia and undo
the work I had done there. Whereupon I collected all my thoughts for an
epistle that would comfort those, and enable them to resist, saying:
though an angel from heaven tell you a different doctrine from the one
that I have taught you, listen not to him. Copies of this letter were
sent to the churches that I had founded, but the sending of the letter
did not calm my anger. An angry soul I have been since God first
separated me from my mother's womb, gaining something on one side and
losing on the other side; but we make not ourselves; God makes us. And
there is a jealousy still within me; I know it and have suffered from
it, and never did it cause me greater suffering than in those days in
Antioch. My jealousy was like a hungry animal, gnawing at my ribs till,
unable to bear it any longer, and seeing in visions all that I had
raised pulled down, I started with Titus and travelled all over Galatia
and Phrygia to Bithynia, along the shores of Pontus, and returned back
again, informing the kindly, docile souls, who loved us in their
weakness, of Lystra, Derbe and other towns, setting up my loom and
preaching every evening the coming of the Lord, whither I went in
Macedonia, Thessalonica, Iconium, Laodicea, not forgetful of Colossae
for two years or more (I have forgotten), and then hearing that Apollos,
an Alexandrian Jew of great learning, our most notable convert, of whom
I have not spoken, for there is no time to speak of everything, had
taken ship at Corinth for Ephesus, I returned the way I had come along
the coast to meet him there, likewise many good friends, Aquila and
Priscilla, who were working at their looms, gathering a faithful circle
about them. We set up shop again as we had done at Corinth, Aquila,
Priscilla and myself worked at our looms all day, and preached in the
evening in and about the city, and on the Sabbath in the synagogue.



CHAP. XXXVI.


In Ephesus stands a temple said to be one of the wonders of the world,
the Temple of Diana; pilgrims come to it from all countries, and buy
statues of the goddess to set upon their tables (little silver statues),
and as the making of these is the principal industry in that city, the
silversmiths raised cries against me in the theatre, where once I stood
up to address the people. Great is Diana, goddess of the Ephesians! they
cried out, and would have thrown me to the beasts. Yea, I fought with
the beasts, for they were nothing else, and had not Aquila and Priscilla
risked their lives to save me I should have perished that day. That day
or another day; it matters not; we all perish sooner or later. My life
has never been my concern, but God's, a thing upheld by God for so many
years that I shun danger no longer. It has even come to pass that I am
lonely in security, withdrawn from God in houses, and safe in his arms
when clinging to a spar in the dark sea. God and our Lord Jesus Christ,
his beloved son, have walked on either side of me in mountain passes
where robbers lie in wait. We are nearer to God in hunger and thirst
than when the mouth is full. In fatigue rather than in rest, and to know
oneself to be God's servant is good cheer for the traveller, better than
the lights of the inn showing over the horizon, for false brethren may
await him in the inn, some that will hale him before rulers, but if he
knows that he is God's servant he will be secure in his own heart, where
alone security matters.

It may have been my sin to weary too often at the length of the journey,
and to cry out to the Lord Jesus to make an end of it. It may have been
that I was often too eager to meet my death and to receive the reward of
all my labour, but who shall judge me? Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only
judge and his reign shall endure over this world till the last man has
vanished into death. And when the last man has perished? Mathias asked.
Paul answered: Jesus shall pass into his Father's keeping and again
there shall be but one God. But, Paul, Mathias rejoined, if I understand
thee rightly, there are now two Gods, and our hope is that in time to
come the twain may turn to one. Paul was about to answer, but his lips
were parched, and he raised the cup of water to his lips, and when he
had drunk he was about to answer Mathias, but Hazael said: Mathias, we
are all eager to hear the story of Paul's own life. There will be time
afterwards to discuss his doctrine. Mathias waved his hand, a sign that
Paul might continue his story, which he did.

From Ephesus we returned to Corinth and to Macedonia, and dreams began
to take hold on us of longer journeys than any we had yet undertaken; we
dreamed of Rome, and then of Spain, for all should hear the joyful
tidings that there is salvation for all, and we live in dread that the
judgment may come upon the world before the distant countries have heard
that the Christ has been born and has died and been raised by his Father
from the dead, thereby abolishing the law, which was no longer needed,
faith in Christ being sufficient. But if the judgment comes before all
men have heard of the Christ, then is God unjust. God forbid: our sloth
and tardy feet are responsible. Our fear is for the Jews that have
closed their ears to the truth, and, therefore, we were warned not to
leave Palestine without a last effort to save them. Once more my soul
said unto me: Paul, go to Jerusalem, for the last time enter the Temple
and comply with all the law, for these things matter not whether they be
done or left undone; all that matters is that Jerusalem should accept
Jesus. Be all things, once more, to all men. And it was after this
command, given to me in the silence of the night, that I took leave of
the brethren at Ephesus, saying to them: brethren, you knew from the
first day that I came unto Asia what manner of man had come among you,
directing you only towards repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord
Jesus Christ. I would indeed remember all I said on that occasion, for I
spoke well, the Holy Ghost being upon me, putting the very words of the
leave-taking into my mouth that I should speak, words which I cannot
find again, but which were written by me afterwards, as I wished them to
be preserved for the use of the faithful. They shall be sent to you. But
in this moment I'm too tired to remember them, and will continue my
story, telling how when the sails of the ship were lifted we came with a
straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and thence
Patara, and finding a ship about to start for Phoenicia, we went aboard
and set forth again. We left Cyprus on the left, and were landed at
Tyre, where there were many disciples who said to me that I must not go
to Jerusalem. We kneeled on the shore and prayed; and when we had taken
leave of one another, and I had said: my face you shall see no more, we
took ship, and they returned home.

Next day we were at Cæsarea and went to the house of Philip the Apostle
(him of many daughters, and all prophetesses), and lived with him,
tarrying till there came from Judea Agabus, who, when he saw me, took my
girdle and bound his own hands and feet, and said: so at Jerusalem shall
the Jews bind him that owns this girdle, and they shall deliver him into
the hands of the Gentiles. At which all my disciples there wept, and I
said: why do ye weep? for your weeping breaks my heart. Think not of
what this man has said, even if he has spoken the truth, for I am ready
to die for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I comforted them and went
up to Jerusalem, and was received by the brethren. James and all the
elders were present, and after having heard from me how widely the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ had been made known to the Gentiles and to the
Jews that lived among the Gentiles, they answered: brother, there are a
great many believers among the Jews, and all here are ardent followers
of the law, and these have heard that thou teachest to the Jews in exile
that Moses may be forsaken, and that they need not circumcise their
children and may set aside our customs. Now, Paul, they asked, what
favour dost thou expect from us if these things be as they have been
reported to us? And being sure within myself that it was not counsel
they sought from me, but words out of my own mouth whereby they might
stir up the people against me, I answered only: upon whose testimony do
ye say these things? There are, they said, four holy men, who are under
a vow; go with them and purify thyself and pay the money they need for
the shaving of their heads and all other expenses. Whereupon I was much
angered, seeing the snare that they were laying for me, but, as I have
told you, my rule is always to be all things to all men, and remembering
that though Jesus Christ our Lord has set us free from the law, it would
be better to forgo this liberty than to scandalise a brother, I said: I
will do, brethren, as you ask, and went with the four poor men to the
Temple and remained there with them for five days, abstaining from wine,
and cutting off--well, there was little hair for me to cut off, but what
there was I cut off.

All went well during the first days, but the emissaries and agents of
James, seeing that my devotion in the Temple might win over the Jews to
me, laid another snare, and I was accused of having held converse with
Trophimus, an uncircumcised Greek, in the street the day of my arrival
in Jerusalem, and this not being a sufficient offence to justify them in
stoning me as they had stoned Stephen before my eyes, it was said that I
had brought him into the Temple, and the agents of the priests came on
the fifth day to drag me out and kill me in some convenient byway, the
sacristans closing the doors of the Temple behind me. We will make an
end of this mischief, the hirelings said, and began to look around for
stones wherewith to spatter out my brains; they cast off their garments
and threw dust into the air, and I should have met my death if the noise
had been any less, but it was even greater than the day Stephen died,
and the Roman guard came upon the people and drew me out of their hands,
saying: what is the meaning of this? The Jews could not tell them so
great was their anger.

We'll take him to the castle, the centurion said, and the crowd
followed, pressing upon us and casting stones at me till the soldiers
had perforce to draw their swords so as to get me to the castle alive.
We were thrown hither and thither, and the violence of the crowd at the
foot of the stairs and the pressure obliged the soldiers to carry me up
the steps in their arms. So I turned to the Chief Captain, who was
trying in vain to calm the rioters, and said to him in Greek: may I
speak to them? So thou canst speak Greek? he answered, surprised, and
gave me leave to speak, and I said: Hebrews, listen to a Hebrew like
yourselves, and I told of the vision on the road to Damascus, to which
they listened, but as soon as the tale was over they cried: remove him
from this world, he is not fit to live. At these words the centurion,
who was anxious to appease the people, signed to his apparitors to seize
me, and before I had time to make myself heard these strapped me to the
whipping-post, my hands above me. But is it lawful to scourge a Roman
and he uncondemned? I said to the centurion next to me. Whereupon the
lictors withdrew and the centurion turned to the Chief Captain, who
looked me up and down, for, as you see, my appearance did not command
respect. Is it true that thou'rt a Roman citizen? he asked, and I
answered, yes, and he was astonished, for he had paid a great deal of
money for the title. But I was born free, I answered him, confusing and
perplexing him and putting a great fear in his heart that belike his
office might be taken from him for having tied a Roman citizen to the
whipping-post, merely that and nothing more.

It was to gain my favour that he promised to summon a council (the
Sanhedrin), and on the day appointed, ordering my chains to be unlocked,
introduced me to the Jews as a free man, saying he would remain to hear
the discussion. Brothers, I have lived till to-day in good conscience
before God. On that the High Priest ordered those that stood by him to
strike me on the face. God shall strike thee, thou whited wall, I
answered him, for thou sittest to judge me according to the law, and
breaking the law thou orderest me to be struck. Those that were present
said: so that is how thou revilest the High Priest. I did not know he
was the High Priest, I answered: if I had I should not have spoken as I
spoke, for is it not written, thou must not insult the chief of thy
people?

As I spoke these words, I saw that the assembly was divided into two
parts, that each part was inspired by different ideas, and that one
part, the Sadducees, were determined upon my death. Therefore my words
were, brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee, do you know
of what they accuse me? Of saying that the dead will be raised out of
their graves for judgment, a thing which you all believe. So did I
divide my enemies, persuading the Pharisees thereby to defend me, and
they, believing the story I told of my vision on the road to Damascus,
said: let us hear nothing against him, a spirit or angel may have spoken
to him. But the Sadducees were the stronger party, and dividing the
Pharisees with their arms many rushed to kill me, and they would have
done this if the Captain of the Guard had not sent soldiers to my
assistance, who with difficulty rescued me from the Jews and brought me
back to the castle.

I was sorry for the Captain of the Guard, who came to me and said: I
know not how this will end or what to do with thee, and I answered him:
there are knots in every business, and the clever man unties them, and
thou'lt find a way of untying this knot in thy sleep to-night.... And I
likewise, which was true, for a vision came to me that night, Jesus
himself, and he said: thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem and thou
shalt testify of me in Rome, and Jesus having said this much, I knew
that I should go to Rome, how I should go I knew not, but I knew that I
should go and had no fear when my sister's son, my nephew, came to me
next day and said: forty of the Jews have banded together to kill thee,
Uncle, and this is how they will do it. They will present a petition to
the Chief Captain to have thee down among the council again so that they
may question thee regarding some points of the law which they affirm
thou hast transgressed. Thou must not go down to them, Uncle, for they
have knives concealed under their cloaks, and are upon oath neither to
eat nor to drink until they have killed thee.

So they are base enough for this, I answered, but I'll outwit them, and
calling to the centurion said: take this young man to the Chief Captain
of the Guard; he has matter to relate which the Chief Captain should
hear at once, and when he had told the plot Chief Captain Lysias said:
they have sworn in vain. Thou shalt go with me to Cæsarea and under a
strong guard, two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred
spearmen; these will be able to resist any attack that the Jews may
attempt even should they hear of thy departure. At nine o'clock to-night
I shall put into thy hand a letter to Felix, the Governor, telling him
that I know nothing against thee that merits death or prison. The orders
of the Captain of the Guard were carried out punctually; we marched all
night, arriving at Antipatris in the morning, which is about half-way
between Jerusalem and Cæsarea, and all danger of surprise being now over
the escort divided, the four hundred men returning to Jerusalem, myself
going on to Cæsarea with the horsemen, to be judged by Felix, who said:
I shall sit in judgment as soon as thy accusers arrive from Jerusalem.

And it was five days afterwards that my accusers began to come into
Cæsarea, Ananias arriving first with some of the elders and with one
named Tertullus, who began his speech against me with many coaxings of
the Governor, saying that it was through him that Palestine enjoyed its
great peace and prosperity and for these gifts he was truly thankful,
and though he feared he might prove tedious, still he would hope that
Felix in his great clemency might allow him to say a few further words
about a pestilential fellow, an agent of sedition among the Jews
throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect known as the
Nazarenes: one who came to Jerusalem but to profane the Temple, and
wishing, he said, to judge him for his blasphemy according to our law,
we laid hands upon him, but the Captain, Lysias, came upon us and with
great violence took him out of our hands, and after hearing him
disputing with us in the council said, I find no fault with him but will
send him to the noble Felix. And you, most noble Felix, have sent for
us, and we have come, and feel right well that we have not come in vain,
for your knowledge and your justice are known in all the world. He said
these things and many more of this sort till he feared that his first
words were coming true and that he was beginning to weary Felix, which
was the truth, for Felix raised his hand for me to speak, whereupon
without cozenage and without preamble I told Felix that I had gone to
Jerusalem with alms collected from all parts of the world for the poor
and also for worship in the Temple. Why then, if I am the pestilential
fellow that Tertullus says I am, is it that the Jews allowed me the
Temple to abide therein for five days and that they have not brought
witnesses to testify that they found me disputing therein or stirring
the people to riot in the synagogue and in the city. And I see none here
to bear witness that I do not believe in all that is written in the law
and in the prophets; only that I believe with a great part of the
citizens of Jerusalem that the dead will be raised from their graves for
judgment at the last day. If I am guilty of heresy so are many others
here. But you Essenes do not hold with the Pharisees, that the
corruptible body is raised from the dead, you believe that the soul only
is immortal; I believe that there is a spiritual body also which is
raised; and Paul turned his searching eyes on Mathias, in whose mind an
answer began to form, but before he had time to speak it the brethren
began to evince a desire that Paul should continue his story.

Felix after hearing me bade the Jews return to Jerusalem. I will deliver
no sentence until I have conferred with Lysias, he said. The Jews
returned discomfited, and Felix said to my jailer, let him be relieved
of his chains and be free to see his friends and disciples and to preach
what he pleases. Nor was this all: Felix came with his wife, Drusilla,
who was a Jewess, and she heard me tell Felix that there would be a
judgment, and he answered: speak to me again of this, and they came to
me many times to hear of the judgment, and to hint at a sum of money
which would be easy for me to collect; my disciples would pay for my
liberty and the money would enable him to risk the anger of the Jews,
who, he said, desired my death most savagely.

But I was of no mind to ask my disciples to pay for my release; and then
Felix, desirous of obtaining the good will of the Jews, put chains upon
me again, and so left me for two years, till Festus was appointed in his
place.

It was three days after Festus had disembarked at Cæsarea that he went
up to Jerusalem, and no sooner had he arrived there than the High Priest
asked for audience and besought him to send for Paul that he might be
judged in Jerusalem; the intention of the High Priest being that I
should be waylaid and killed by a highwayman among the hills. But Festus
thought it was unnecessary to bring me to Jerusalem, for he was about to
return to Cæsarea. Come, he said, with me, and accuse this man, and they
agreed. And it was ten days afterwards that Festus returned to Cæsarea
and commanded me to be brought before his judgment seat. The Jews that
had come with him sat about, and with many voices complained against me
of blasphemy, but their accusations were vain, for I answered: I have
not offended against the law of the Jews nor against Cæsar, and they
answered, so thou sayest, but wilt thou come to Jerusalem to be judged
by us? and Festus, who now only thought to avoid trouble and riot, said
to me, will you go to Jerusalem that I may hear you?

But, Lord Festus, I answered, you can hear me here as well as in
Jerusalem, and these men desire but my death and ask that I shall be
brought to Jerusalem to kill me secretly, therefore I appeal to Cæsar.

Whereupon Festus answered that he had no fault to find with me, but
since I had appealed to Cæsar I must go by the next ship, and as there
would be none for some weeks Festus, who had said to King Agrippa and
Berenice, when they came to pay a visit to the new governor, and, being
Jews, were curious about my gospel, I find no fault with this man and
would have set him at liberty, but he has appealed to Cæsar and by the
next ship he goes to Rome, permitted me my liberty to go whither I
pleased and to preach as I pleased in the city and beyond the city if I
pleased. Whereupon I notified to Festus I would go to Jericho, a two
days' journey from Cæsarea, and he said, go, and in three weeks a ship
will be here to take thee to Rome. But he said: if the Jews should hear
of thee thou'lt lose thy life, and he offered me a guard, which I
refused as useless, knowing well that I should not meet my death at
Jericho. Why cherish a love for them that hate thee? he said, and I
answered: they are my own people, and my heart was filled again with the
memory of the elect race that had given birth to the prophets. Shall
these go down dead into their graves never to rise again, God's chosen
people? I asked myself, and set out with Timothy, my son in the faith,
for Jericho, a city I had never seen nor yet the banks of Jordan down
which Jesus went for John's baptism. But for these things I had little
thought or care, but was as if propelled by some force that I could not
understand nor withstand; and a multitude collected and hearkened to the
story of my conversion on the road to Damascus, but discontent broke out
among them when I said that Jesus had come neither to confirm nor to
abolish the law, that the law was well while we were children but now we
could only enter into eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ our
Lord.

The rest of my story you know: how we fled into the hills for our lives'
sake, and how Timothy in the dark of the evening kept to the left
whereas I came round the shoulder of the hill and was upheld in the path
by God, who has still need of me. His ways are inscrutable, for, wishing
to bring me to you, he sent me to preach in Jordan and urged the Jews to
threaten me and pursue me into the hills, for he wished you holy men who
live upon this ridge of rock in piety, in humility, in content, in peace
one with the other, fearing God always, to hear of Jesus and his
resurrection from the dead and the meaning thereof, which is that Christ
came to redeem us from the bondage of the law and that sense of sin
which the law reveals unceasingly and which terrifies and comes between
us and love of Jesus Christ, who will (at the sound of the last trump)
raise the incorruptible out of the corruptible. Even as the sown grain
is raised out of its rotten grave to nourish and rejoice again at the
light, so will ye nourish again in the fields of heaven, never again to
sink into old age and death if you have faith in Christ, for you have
all else, fear of God, and charity, piety and humility, brotherly love,
peace and content in the work that the day brings to your hands and the
pillow that the night brings to your head for reward for the work done.
God that knows all knew you were waiting on this margin of rock for the
joyful tidings, and he sent me as a shepherd might send his servant out
to call in the flock at the close of day, for in his justice he would
not have it that ten just men should perish. He sent me to you with a
double purpose, methinks, for he may have designed you to come to my
aid, for it would be like him that has had in his heart since all time
my great mission to Italy and Spain, to have conceived this way to
provide me with new feet to carry the joyful tidings to the ends of the
earth; and now I stand amazed, it being clear to me that it was not for
the Jews of Jericho that I was sent out from Cæsarea but for you.

Paul waited for one of the Essenes to answer, and his eyes falling on
Mathias' face he read in it a web of argument preparing wherein to catch
him, and he prayed that God might inspire his answers. At last Mathias,
in clear, silvery voice, broke the silence that had fallen so suddenly,
and all were intent to hear the silken periods with which the Egyptian
thanked Paul for the adventurous story he had related to them, who, he
said, lived on a narrow margin of rock, knowing nothing of the world,
and unknown to it, content to live, as it were, immersed in God. Paul's
narrative was full of interesting things, and he regretted that Paul was
leaving them, for he would have liked to have given longer time to the
examination of the several points, but his story contained one thing of
such great moment that he passed over many points of great interest, and
would ask Paul to tell them why the resurrection of Jesus Christ should
bring with it the abrogation of the law of Moses. If the law was true
once, it was true always, for the law was the mind and spirit and
essence of God. That is, he continued, the law spiritually understood;
for there are those among us Essenes who have gone beyond the letter. I,
too, know something of that spiritual interpretation, Paul cried out,
but I understand it of God's providence in relation to man during a
certain period; that which is truth for the heir is not truth to the
lord. Mathias acquiesced with lofty dignity, and continued his
interrogation in measured phrases: that if he understood Paul rightly,
and he thought he did, his teaching was that the law only served to
create sin, by multiplying the number of possible transgressions. Thy
meaning would seem to be that Jews as well as Gentiles sin by acquiring
consciousness of sin, but by faith in Jesus Christ we get peace with God
and access unto his grace. Upon grace, Paul, we see thee standing as on
a pedestal crying out, sin abounds but grace abounds, fear not sin. The
words of my enemies, Paul cried, interrupting; sin so that grace may
abound, God forbid. Those that are baptized in Christ are dead to sin,
buried with him to rise with him again and to live a new life. The old
man (that which we were before Christ died for us) was crucified with
Christ so that we might serve sin no longer. Freed from the bondage of
the law and concupiscence by grace we are saved through faith in our
Lord Jesus Christ from damnation. It is of this grace that we would hear
thee speak. Do we enter into faith through grace? Mathias asked, and,
having obtained a sign of assent from Paul, he asked if grace were other
than a free gift from God, and he waited again for a sign of assent.
Paul nodded, and reminded him that God had said to Moses, I will have
mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I
will have compassion. Then, Mathias said, the law of Moses is not
abrogated, thou leanest upon it when it suiteth thy purpose to lean, and
pushest it aside when it pleases thee to reprove us as laggards in
tradition and among the beginnings of things. It was lest some mood of
injustice might be imputed to God in neglecting us that we were invited
to become thy disciples, and to carry the joyful tidings into Italy and
Spain. But we no longer find those rudiments in the law. We read it with
the eyes of the mind, and we receive not from thy lips that God is like
a man--a parcel of moods, and obedient to them. It is true that God
justifies whom he glorifies, Paul answered, but for that he is not an
unjust God. If he did not spare his son, but delivered him to death that
we might be saved, will he not give us all things? Who shall accuse
God's elect? He that chose them? Who will condemn them? Christ that will
sit on the right hand of his Father, that intercedes for us? Neither
death nor life nor angels can separate me from the love of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and if I came hither it is for the sake of my brothers, my
kinsmen that might be saved. God has not broken his promise to his
chosen people. A man may be born an Israelite and not be one; we are
true Israelites, not by birth but by election. God calls whom he
pleases, and without injustice. But, brethren, Mathias would ask of me:
why does God yet find a fault though none may resist his will? We dare
not reason with God or ask him to explain his preferences. Does the vase
ask the potter: why hast thou made me thus? Had not the potter power
over the clay to make from the same lump two vases, one for noble and
the other for ignoble use. Not in discourse of reason is the Kingdom of
God, but in its own power to be and to grow, and that power is
manifested in my gospel.

The approval of the brethren whitened Mathias' cheek with anger, and he
answered Paul that his denial of the law did not help him to rise to any
higher conception of the deity than to compare him to a potter, and he
warned Paul that to arrive at any idea of God we must forget potters,
rejecting the idea of a maker setting out from a certain moment of time
to shape things according to a pattern out of pre-existing matter. And I
would tell thee before thou startest for the end of the earth that the
Jesus Christ which has obsessed thee is but the Logos, the principle
that mediates between the supreme God and the world formed out of
matter, which has no being of its own, for being is not in that mere
potency of all things alike, which thou callest Power, but in Divine
Reason.

I have heard men speak like thee in Athens, Paul answered slowly and
sadly, and I said then that the wisdom of man is but foolishness in
God's sight. But thy stay there was not long, and thou hast not spoken
of my country, Egypt, Mathias answered, and rising from his seat he left
the table and passed out on to the balcony like one offended, and,
leaning his arms on the rail, he stood looking into the abyss.

A Jew of Alexandria, Manahem whispered in Paul's ear, but he holds fast
by the law in his own sense, and in telling of this Christ thou---- We
would hear of Peter, Saddoc interrupted, the fisherman thou foundest
eating unclean meat with the Gentiles. Have I not said, Paul answered,
that what is eaten and what is drunk finds neither favour nor disfavour
in God's eyes--that it is not by observance we are saved, but by faith
in our Lord Jesus Christ that died to redeem us from the law, and was
raised from the dead by his Father, and who appeared to the twelve and
to five hundred others, some of whom are dead, but many are still alive?
But this Christ, who was he when he lived upon this earth? Manahem
inquired. Son of the living God, Paul answered, that took on the
beggarly raiment of human flesh at Nazareth, was baptized by John in
Jordan, and preached in Galilee, went up to Jerusalem and was crucified
by Pilate between two thieves; the third day he rose from the dead, that
our sins---- Didst say he was born in Nazareth? Hazael asked, the word
Nazareth having roused him from his reveries, and was baptized by John
in Jordan, preached afterwards in Galilee, and suffered under Pilate?
Was crucified, Paul interjected; then you have heard, he said, of the
resurrection? Not of the resurrection; but we know that our Brother
Jesus was born in Nazareth, was baptized in Jordan by John, preached in
Galilee and suffered under Pilate. Pilate condemned many men, Paul
answered, a cruel man even among the Romans. But born in Nazareth and
was baptized by John didst say? I said it, Hazael answered. Which among
you, Paul asked, looking into every face, is he? Jesus is not here,
Hazael replied, he is out with the flock. He slept by thy side on this
balcony last night. We've listened to thy story with interest, Paul; we
give thee thanks for telling it, and by thy leave we will return to our
daily duties and to our consciences.



CHAP. XXXVII.


One of the Essenes had left some quires of his Scriptures upon the
table; Paul picked them up, but, unable to fix his attention, he walked
out on to the balcony, and when the murmur of the brook began to
exasperate him he returned to the domed gallery and walked through it
with some vague intention of following the rubble path that led out on
to the mountains, but remembering the Thracian dogs chained under the
rocks, he came back and stood by the well, and in its moist atmosphere
fell into argument with himself as to the cause of his disquiet, denying
to himself that it was related in any way to the story he had heard from
the Essenes--that there was one amongst them, a shepherd from Nazareth,
who had received baptism from John and suffered under Pilate, the very
one whom he had heard talking that morning to Jacob about ewes and rams.
At last he attributed his disquiet to his anxiety for the safety of
Timothy.

All the same, he said, it was strange that Pilate should have put one
from the cenoby on the cross, another Jesus of Nazareth.... It might be
that this Essene shepherd and his story were but a trap laid for him by
the Jews! But no----

Paul remembered he had written a long epistle to the Galatians reproving
them for lack of faith, and now he found himself caught in one of those
moments to which all flesh seems prone. But no; the cause of his
disquiet was Timothy; Jesus had promised him news of Timothy, else he
would not have delayed so long among these clefts. He might start at
once; but he would not be able to find the way through these hills
without a guide, and he could not leave till he heard from this Essene
why Pilate had ordered him to be scourged. What crime was he guilty of?
A follower he was, no doubt, of Judas the Gaulonite, else Pilate would
not have ordered him to be crucified. But the reason for his having left
the wilderness? There must be one, and he sought the reason through the
long afternoon without finding one that seemed plausible for more than a
few minutes.

The drone of the brook increased his agitation and the day was well-nigh
spent when the doors of the cells opened and the brethren began to
appear in their white garments; and when they had found seats about the
table Paul related that he was waiting for Jesus to return from the
hills.

At last he heard one say: here is Jesus, and at the sound of the
familiar name Paul started up to meet him, and speaking the first words
that came to his lips he asked him if it were true that he was from
Nazareth and had received baptism from John and suffered under Pilate. I
was born in Nazareth, but what of that? Why dost thou look into my face
so steadfastly? Because this noon, Paul answered, while thou wast with
thy flock, I was moved to tell the brethren of Jesus of Nazareth, who
died on the cross to redeem us, for I would that all you here should
join with us and carry the joyful tidings to Italy and Spain. The doors
are open----

Hazael coming from his cell at that moment stayed the words that had
risen up in Paul's mind, and he looked at the president as if he
expected him to speak, but Hazael sank into his chair and soon after
into his own thoughts. So thy name is Jesus and thou'rt from Nazareth?
Paul said, turning to the shepherd, and Jesus answered: I was born in
Nazareth and my life has been lived among these hills. Our guest, Saddoc
said, interrupting, has told us the story of his life, and he hopes to
persuade us to leave this gorge and go with him to Italy and on to
Spain. To Spain? Jesus asked. To carry the joyful tidings that the doors
of salvation are now open to all, Saddoc answered. He has told us that
he was once a great persecutor of Christians. Of Christians? Jesus
repeated. And who are they? The Christians are they that believe the
Messiah promised to the Jews was raised by God from the dead, Saddoc
replied, and our guest would have us go with him to Spain, for on the
road to Damascus he had a vision, and nearly lost his sight in it. And
ever since he has been preaching that the doors are open to all. He is
the greatest traveller the world has ever known. Christ is a Greek word,
Manahem said, for it seemed to him that Saddoc was speaking too much,
and that he could give Jesus a better account of Paul's journeyings, his
conversions of the Gentiles and the persecutions that followed these
conversions: for the Jews, Manahem said, have been on his track always,
and his last quarrel with them was yester even by the Jordan, where he
was preaching with Timothy. They lost each other in the hills. Of
Timothy I have news, Jesus answered. He met a shepherd in the valley who
pointed out the way to Cæsarea to him, and it may be that he is not far
from that city now. Then I will go to Cæsarea at once, Paul cried. I
have promised to put thee on the direct road, Jesus said, but it is for
thee to choose another guide, he added, for Paul's face told him the
thoughts that were passing in Paul's mind: that he would sooner that any
other of the brethren should guide him out of the wilderness. After
looking at Paul for some time he said: I've heard from Manahem and
Saddoc that thou wast a persecutor of Christians, but without
understanding, so hurried was the story. And they tell me, Paul said,
that thou'rt from Nazareth and suffered under Pilate. More than that
they do not seem to know; but from what they tell me thy story resembles
that of our Lord Jesus Christ who was betrayed in a garden and was
raised from the dead. At the words, who was betrayed in a garden, a
light seemed to break in Jesus' face and he said: some two years of my
life are unknown to anybody here, even Hazael does not know them, and
last night I was about to tell them to him on the balcony.

You all remember how he was carried out of the lecture-room on to this
balcony by Saddoc and Manahem, who left him with me. I had just returned
from the mountain, having left my flock with Jacob, our new shepherd,
and Hazael, who recovered his senses quickly in the evening air, begged
me to tell him of Jacob's knowledge of the flock, and I spoke to him
highly of Jacob.... Hazael, have I thy permission to tell the brethren
here assembled the story I began to tell thee last night, but which was
interrupted? The old man raised his head and said: Jesus, I hearken, go
on with thy story.

Brethren, yester evening I returned from the hills after having left our
flock in charge of Jacob. You know, brethren, why I confided the flock
to him. After fifty (I am fifty-five) our steps are no longer as alert
as they were: an old man cannot sleep in a cavern like a young man nor
defend himself against robbers like a young man, and yesternight was the
first night I spent under a roof for many a year, and under that roof I
am to live henceforth with you here, tending on our president, who needs
attention now in his great age. These things were in his mind and in
mine while we sat on the balcony last night taking the air. Hazael had
spoken his fear that the change from the hills to this dwelling would
prove irksome to me at first, and our talk turned upon the life I have
led since boyhood. Our president seemed to think that the better life is
to live under the sky and the sure way to happiness is in solitude: he
had fallen to admiration of my life spent among the hills, and had
spoken to me of the long journeys he used to undertake in his youth over
Palestine, seeking for young men in whom he foresaw the making of good
Essenes; many of you here are his discoveries, myself certainly. We
indulged in recollection, and listening to him my thoughts were back in
Nazareth, and I waited for him to tell me how one night he met my
father, Joseph the carpenter, returning home after his day's work, and
seeing in him a native of the district, he addressed himself to him and
begged my father to point out the road to Nazareth. My father answered:
I am going thither, thou canst not do better than follow me. So the two
fared on together, talking of a lodging for the night, my father fearing
that no house would be open to a stranger, which was the truth. They
knocked at many, but received only threats that the dogs would be turned
upon them if they did not hasten away. My father said: never shall it be
rumoured in Nazareth that a stranger was turned away and had to sleep in
the streets. Thou shalt have my son's bed, and taking Hazael by the hand
my father urged him and forced him into our house. Thou shalt sleep in
my house, my father said, and shook me out of my sleep, saying, Jesus,
thy bed is wanted for a stranger, and to this day I remember standing in
my smock before Hazael, my eyes dazed with sleep.

Next day Hazael was teaching me; and it pleasing him to see in me the
making of a good Essene, and my father being willing that I should go (a
good carpenter he did not see in me), he took me away with him through
Samaria into Jerusalem, and we struck across the desert, descending the
hills into the plain of Jericho, and crossed the Jordan.

After a year's probationship I was admitted into the order of the
Essenes and was given choice of a trade, and it was put forth that I
should follow the trade of my father or work amid the fig-trees along
our terraces, but my imagination being stirred by the sight of the
shepherds among the hills, I said, let me be one. And for fifteen years
I led my flock, content to see it prosper under my care, until one day,
spying two wolves scratching where I knew there was a cave, an empty one
I thought, the hermit having been taken by wolves not long before, I
couched my spear and went forward; at sight of me and my dogs the wolves
fled, as I expected they would, and the hermit that had come to the cave
overnight came out, and after thanking me for driving off the wolves
asked me if I could guide him to a spring of pure water. Thou'rt not far
from one, I said, for the cave he had come to live in was situated in
the valley of the leopard's den, which is but half-a-mile from our
brook. I will go thither with thee this evening, but first drink from my
water-bottle, I said, for I could see he needed water, and I spoke to
him of the number of hermits we had lost lately from wild animals, but
he did not heed me, and as soon as he had soothed his parched tongue
with my water-bottle he began to tell me that he had come from the
shores of the Dead Sea and was about to begin to preach the baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins, and that we must not indulge in
hope of salvation because we have Abraham for our father.

His words seemed to be true words, and I pondered on them, and along the
Jordan everybody was asking whether he was the promised Christ. I walked
miles to hear him, leaving my flock in another's charge, or waited for
him to return to his cave, and often spent the night watching over him
lest a wild beast should break in upon him while he slept. I had known
none but my brethren, nor any city, and John had travelled through all
Judea, and it was from him I learnt that the world was nearing its end,
and that if man did not repent at once God would raise another race out
of the stones by the wayside, so needful was the love of man to God; and
though it had always seemed to me God was gentler than he seemed to be
in John's prophesying, yet his teaching suddenly seemed to be right to
me. I got baptism from him in Jordan and went into the wilderness to
read the Book of Daniel, in which he said all had been foretold, and,
having read, at his advice I bade farewell to the brethren. Manahem,
Saddoc, Mathias, Caleb and Eleazar remember my departure; you regretted
it and tried to dissuade me, but I answered you, saying that God had
called me to preach in my own country, Galilee, that whosoever has two
coats should give one to the poor; for it is the poor that will
intercede for us on the last day; and, carrying John's doctrine further,
I declared that it were easier for a sword to pass through an eye of a
needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, which may be true, but such
judgments should be left to God, and, carrying it still further, I said
it was as hard for a rich man to go to heaven as for cow to calve in a
rook's nest.

In my teaching I wandered beyond our doctrines and taught that this
world is but a mock, a shame, a disgrace, and that naught was of avail
but repentance. John's teaching took possession of me, but I would not
have you think here that I am about to lay my sins at John's door, for
sin it is for a man to desire that which God has not given, and I should
have remained an Essene shepherd following my flocks in the hills,
whereas John did well to come out of his desert and preach that the end
of the world was approaching and that men must repent, for God willed
him to preach these things. His teaching was true when he was the
teacher, but when I became his disciple his teaching became false; it
turned me from my natural self and into such great harshness of mind
that in Nazareth when my mother came with my brothers and sisters to the
synagogue I said, woman, I have no need of thee, and when Joseph of
Arimathea returned to me after a long attendance by his father's bedside
(his father had lain in a great sickness for many months; it was through
Joseph's care that he had been saved from death, Joseph was a good son),
I told him he must learn to hate his father and his mother if he would
become worthy to follow me. But my passion was so great in those days
that I did not see that my teaching was not less than blasphemy against
God, for God has created the world for us to live in it, and he has put
love of parents into our hearts because he wishes us to love our
parents, and if he has put into the heart of man love of woman, and into
the heart of woman love of man, it is because he wishes both to enjoy
that love.

I fear to think of the things I said at that time, but I must speak of
them. One man asked me before he left all things to follow me if he
might not bury his father first. I answered, leave the dead to bury
their dead, and to another who said, my hand is at the plough, may I not
drive it to the headland, I answered: leave all things and follow me. My
teaching grew more and more violent. It is not peace, I said, that I
bring to you, but a sword, and I come as a brand wherewith to set the
world in flame. I said, too, that I came to divide the house; to set
father against mother, brother against brother, sister against sister. I
can see that my remembrance of him who once was wounds the dear brethren
with whom I have lived so long; I knew it would be hard for you to hear
that an Essene had broken the rules of a holy order, and it is hard for
me to stand before you and tell that I, who was instructed by Hazael in
all the pious traditions of our race, should have blasphemed against
God's creation and God's own self. You will thrust me through the door
as an unworthy brother, saying, go, live in the wilderness, and I shall
not cry out against my expulsion through the hills and valleys, but
continue to repent my sins in silence till death leads me into silence
that never ends. You are perhaps asking yourselves why I returned here:
was it to hide myself from Pilate and the Jews? No, but to repent of the
evil seed that I had sown that I returned here; and it was because he
wished me to repent that God took me down from the cross and cured me of
my wounds in Joseph's house and sent me here to lead the sheep over the
hills, and it was he who put this last confession into my mouth.

It seems to me that in telling this story, brethren, I am doing but the
work of God; no man strays very far from the work that God has decreed
to him. But in the time I am telling I was so exalted by the many
miracles which I had performed by the power of God or the power of a
demon, I know not which, that I encouraged my disciples to speak of me
as the son of David, though I knew myself to be the son of Joseph the
carpenter; and when I rode into Jerusalem and the people strewed palms
before me and called out, the son of David, and Joseph said to me, let
them not call thee the son of David, I answered in my pride, if they did
not call it forth the stones themselves would. In the days I am telling,
pride lifted me above myself, and I went about asking who I was, Moses,
Elijah, Jeremiah or the Messiah promised to the Jews.

A madman! A madman, or possessed by some evil spirit, Paul cried out,
and rising to his feet he rushed out of the cenoby, but nobody rose to
detain him; some of the Essenes raised their heads, and a moment after
the interruption was forgotten.

A day passed in the great exaltation and hope, and one evening I took
bread and broke it, saying that I was the bread of life that came down
from heaven and that whosoever ate of it had everlasting life given to
him. After saying these words a great disquiet fell upon me, and calling
my disciples together I asked them to come to the garden of olives with
me. And it was while asking God's forgiveness for my blasphemies that
the emissaries and agents of the priests came and took me prisoner.

At the touch of their hands the belief that I was the Messiah promised
to the Jews rose up in my heart again, and when the priests asked me if
I were the Christ, the Son of the Blessed, I answered, I am, and ye
shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of God; and it was
not till I was hanging on the cross for upwards of two hours that the
belief I had come down from heaven to do our Father's will faded; again
much that I had said seemed to me evil and blasphemous, and feeling
myself about to die I called out to my Father, who answered my call at
once, bringing Joseph of Arimathea to the foot of the cross to ask the
centurion for my body for burial. But the centurion could not deliver me
unto him without Pilate's order, and both went to Pilate, and he gave me
to Joseph for burial.

Nor did our Father allow the swoon to be lifted till Joseph entered the
tomb to kiss me for the last time. It was then he opened my eyes and I
saw Joseph standing by me, a lantern in his hand, looking at me ... for
the last time before closing the tomb.

He lifted me on to his shoulder and carried me up a little twisting path
to his house, and an old woman, named Esora, attended to my wounds with
balsam, and when they were cured Joseph began to tell me that my stay in
his house was dangerous to him and to me, and he vaunted to me in turn
Cæsarea and Antioch as cities in which I should be safe from the Jews.
But my mind was so weak and shaken that his reasons faded from my mind
and I sat smiling at the sunlight like one bereft of sense. Strive as he
might, he could not awaken me from the lethargy in which I was sunken,
and every day and every week increased his danger and mine; and it was
not till the news came that my old comrades had come to live in the
Brook Kerith that my mind began to awaken and to move towards a
resolution; an outline began to appear, when I said, I have led my sheep
over the hills yonder many a time, and tempted me to speak of you till
the desire arose in me to see you again. You remember our arrival one
morning at daybreak and my eagerness to see the flock.

Brother Amos was glad to see me back again, and in talking of the flock
Joseph was almost forgotten, which shows how wandering my mind was at
the time.... He left without seeing me, but not without warning Hazael
not to question me else my mind might yield to the strain, saying that
it hung on a thread, which was true, and I remember how for many a year
every cliff's edge tempted me to jump over. Joseph was gone for ever,
and the memory of my sins were as tongues of flame that leaped by turns
out of the ashes. But the fiercest ashes grow cold in time; we turn them
over without fear of flame, and last night I said to Hazael as we sat
together, there is a sin in my life that none knows of, it is buried
fathoms deep out of all sight of men, and Hazael having said there was
little of the world's time in front of him, I felt suddenly I could not
conceal from him any longer the sin that Joseph had not dared to tell
him--that I had once believed myself to be a precursor of the Messiah
like many that came before me, but unlike any other I began to believe
myself to be the incarnate word.

A soft, vague sound, the gurgle of the brook, rose out of the stillness,
as it flowed down the gorge from cavern to cavern.

After a little while Hazael called to Manahem and bade him relate to
Jesus the story Paul had told them, and when Jesus had heard the story
he was overtaken with a great pity for Paul. But thinkest that he will
believe thee? Hazael asked, lifting his chin out of his beard, and the
calm of Jesus' face was troubled by the question and he sank upon a
stool close by Hazael's chair. What may we do? he muttered, and the
Essenes withdrew, for they guessed that the elders had serious words to
speak together.

Thou hast heard my story, Hazael; nothing remains now but to bid
farewell to thy old friend. To say farewell, Jesus, Hazael repeated, why
should we say farewell? Hazael, the rule of our order forbids me to
stay, Jesus answered; those who commit crimes like mine are cast out and
left to starve in the desert. But, Jesus, Hazael replied, thou knowest
well that none here would put thee beyond the doors. Thy crimes,
whatever they may have been, are between thee and God. It is for thee to
repent, and from hill-top to hill-top thou hast prayed for forgiveness,
and through all the valleys. All things in the end rest with him. Speak
to us not of going. But if God had forgiven me, Jesus answered, and my
blasphemies against him, he would not have sent this man hither. And
what dost thou propose to do? Hazael asked, raising his head from his
beard and looking Jesus in the face.

To go to Jerusalem, Jesus answered, and to tell the people that I was
not raised from the dead by God to open the doors of heaven to Jews and
infidels alike. But who will believe thee to be Jesus that Pilate
condemned to the cross? Hazael asked. Twenty years have gone over and
they will say: a poor, insane shepherd from the Judean hills. Be this as
it may, my repentance will then be complete, Jesus muttered. But thou
hast repented, Hazael wailed in his beard. But, Jesus, all religions,
except ours, are founded on lies, and there have been thousands, and
there will be thousands more. Why trouble thyself about the races that
cover the face of the earth or even about thine own race. Let thy
thoughts not stray from this group of Essenes whom thou hast known
always or from me who found thee in Nazareth and took thee by the hand.
Why think of me? It is enough to remember that all good and all evil
(that concern us) proceeds from ourselves. Hast not said to me that God
has implanted a sense of good and evil in our hearts and that it is by
this sense that we know him rather than through scrolls and miracles?
Abide by thy own words, Jesus. Be not led away again by an impulse, and
go not forth again, for it is by going forth, as thou knowest, that we
fall into sin. Wouldst try once more to make others according to thine
own image and likeness, to make them see and hear and feel as thou
feelest, seest and hearest; but such changes may not be made by any man
in another. We may not alter the work of God, and we are all the works
of God, each shaped out of a design that lay in the back of his mind for
all eternity. We cannot reshape others nor ourselves, and why do I tell
things thou knowest better than I? The thoughts that I am teaching now
are thine own thoughts related to me often on thy return from the hills
and collected by me in faithful memory. Hast forgotten, Jesus, having
said to me, the world cannot be remoulded, all men may not be saved,
only a few, by the grace of God? I said these things to thee, Hazael,
but what did I say but my thoughts, and what are my thoughts? Lighter
than the bloom of dandelion floating on the hills. It is not to our own
thoughts we must look for guidance but God's thoughts, which are deep in
us and clear in us, but we do not listen and are led away by our reason.
My sin was to have preached John as well as myself. I strayed beyond
myself and lost myself in the love of God, a thing a man may do if he
love not his fellows. My sin was not to have loved men enough. But we
are as God made us, and must do the best we can with ourselves.

Jesus waited for Hazael to answer him, but Hazael made no answer, but
sat like a stone, his head hanging upon his chest. Why dost thou not
answer, Hazael? he said, and Hazael answered: Jesus, my thoughts were
away. I was thinking of last night, of our talk together in that
balcony--I was thinking, Jesus, how sweet life is in the beginning, and
how it grows bitter in the mouth; and the end seems bitter indeed when
we think of the gladness that day when we walked through the garlanded
streets of our first day together in Nazareth. It was in the springtime
of our lives and of the year. How delightful it was for me to find one
like thee so eager to understand the life of the Essenes: so eager to
join us. Such delight I shall not find again. We spoke last night of our
journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem and across the Jordan. Thou wouldst
not follow thy father's trade, but would lead flocks from the hills, and
becamest in time the best shepherd, it is said, ever known in the hills.
No one ever had an eye for a ram or ewe like thee, and of thy cure for
scab all the shepherds are envious. We were proud of our shepherd, but
he met John and came to me saying that God had called him to go forth
and convert the world. Since God has placed thee here, I said, how is it
that he should come and call thee away now? And thou wast eager with
explanation up and down the terraces till we reached the bridge. We
crossed it and followed the path and under the cliffs till we came to
the road that leads to Jerusalem. It was there we said farewell. Two
years or more passed away, and then Joseph brought thee back. A tired,
suffering man whose wits were half gone and who recovered them slowly,
but who did not recover them while leading his flock. How often have we
talked of its increase, and now we shall never talk again of rams and
ewes nor of thy meditations in the desert and on the hill-tops and in
the cave at night. So much to me were these sweet returnings of thee
from the hills that my hope was that the dawn was drawing nigh when thou
wouldst return no more to the hills, and yesternight was a happy night
when we sat together on the balcony indulging in recollection, thinking
that henceforth we should live within sight of each other's faces
always. My hope last night was that it would be thou that wouldst close
my eyes and lay me in a rock sepulchre out of reach of the hyenas. But
my hopes have all vanished now. Thou art about to leave me. The
brethren? No, they will not leave me, but even should all remain, if
thou be not here I shall be as alone.

But, Hazael, all may be as thou sayest, the Jews will welcome me, Jesus
answered. I am no longer the enemy; Paul is the enemy of Judaism and I
am become the testimony. Judaism, he says, is the root that bears the
branches, and if I go to Jerusalem and tell the Jews that the Nazarene
whom Pilate put upon the cross still lives in the flesh, they will
rejoice exceedingly, and send agents and emissaries after him wherever
he goes. Paul persecuted me and my disciples, and now it would seem that
my hand is turned against him. Remain with us, Hazael cried. Forget the
world, leave it to itself and fear not; one lie more will make no
difference in a world that has lived upon lies from the beginning of
time. A counsel that tempts me, for I would begin no persecution against
Paul, but the lie has spread and will run all over the world even as a
single mustard seed, and the seed is of my sowing; all returns to me;
that Paul was able to follow the path is certain testimony that he was
sent by God to me, and that I am called to be about my Father's work. As
thou sayest, things repeat themselves. Farewell, Hazael. Farewell, my
father in the faith. So there is no detaining thee, my dear son, and,
rising from his seat, Hazael put a staff in Jesus' hand and hung a scrip
about his neck. If thy business be done perhaps---- But no, let us
indulge in no false hopes. Neither will look upon the other's face
again. Jesus did not answer, and returning to the balcony Hazael said: I
will sit here and watch thee for the last time.

But Jesus did not raise his eyes until he reached the bridge, and then
he took the path that led by the cenobies of other days, and walked
hastily, for he was too agitated to think. A little in front of him,
some hundred yards, a great rock overhung the path, and when he came
there he stopped, for it was the last point from which he could have
sight of the balcony. As he stood looking back, shading his eyes with
his hand, he saw two of the brethren come and touch Hazael on the
shoulder. As he did not raise his head to answer, they consulted
together, and Jesus hurried away lest some sudden and impetuous emotion
should call him back from his errand.



CHAP. XXXVIII.


A small black bird with yellow wings, usually met with along the brook
flitting from stone to stone, diverted his thoughts from Jerusalem and
set him wondering what instinct had brought the bird up from the brook
on to a dry hill-top. The bird must have sensed the coming rain, he
said, and he came up here to escape the torrent. On looking round the
sky for confirmation of the bird's instinct, he saw dark clouds
gathering everywhere and in a manner that to his shepherd's eye
betokened rain. The bird seems a little impatient with the clouds for
not breaking, he continued, and at that moment the bird turned sharply
from the rock on which he was about to alight, and Jesus, divining a
cause for the change of intention, sought behind the rock for it and
found it in a man lying there with foam upon his lips. He seemed to
Jesus like one returning to himself out of a great swoon, and helping
him to his feet Jesus seated him on a rock. In a little while, Paul
said, I shall be able to continue my journey. Thou'rt Jesus whom I left
speaking in the cenoby. Give me a little water to drink. I forgot to
fill the bottle before I left the brook, Jesus answered. There is a
little left, but not the fresh water that I would like to give thee,
Paul, but water from overnight. It matters not, Paul said, and having
drunk a little and bathed his temples, Paul asked Jesus to help him to
his feet, but after a few yards he tottered into Jesus' arms and had to
rest again, and while resting he said: I rushed out of the cenoby, for I
felt the swoon was nigh upon me. I am sorry to have interrupted thy
discourse, he added, but refrain from repeating any of it, for my brain
is too tired to listen to thee. Thou'lt understand the weakness of a
sick man and pardon me. Now I'm beginning to remember. I had a promise
from thee to lead me out of this desert. Yes, Paul, I promised to guide
thee to Cæsarea---- But I rushed away, Paul said, and thou hast followed
me, knowing well that I should not find my way alone to Cæsarea. I
should have missed it and perhaps fallen into the hands of the Jews or
fallen over the precipice and become food for vultures. Now my strength
is coming back to me, but without thee I shall not find my way out of
the desert. Fear nothing, Paul, I shall not leave thee till I have seen
thee safely on thy way to Cæsarea or within sight of that city. Thou
hast come to guide me? Paul asked, looking up. Yes, to guide thee, Paul,
to accompany thee to Cæsarea, if not all the way the greater part of it,
Jesus answered. Thou'lt sleep to-morrow at a village about two hours
from Cæsarea, and there we shall part. But be not afraid. I'll not leave
thee till thou'rt safe out of reach of the Jews. But I must be at
Cæsarea to-morrow, Paul said, or else my mission to Italy and Spain will
be delayed, perhaps forfeited. My mission to Spain, dost hear me? Do not
speak of thy mission now, Jesus answered, for he was afraid lest a
discussion might spring up between him and Paul, and he was glad when
Paul asked him how it was he had come upon him in this great wilderness.
He asked Jesus if he had traced his footsteps in the sand, or if an
angel had guided him. My eyes are not young enough to follow footsteps
in the sand, Jesus replied, and I saw no angel, but a bird turned aside
from the rock on which he was about to alight abruptly, and going to
seek the cause of it I found thee.... Now if thy strength be coming back
we will try to walk a little farther.

I'll lean on thee, and then, just as if Paul felt that Jesus might tell
him once again that he was Jesus of Nazareth whom Pilate had condemned
to the cross, he began to put questions: was Jesus sure that it was not
an angel disguised as a bird that had directed him? Jesus could only
answer that as far as he knew the bird was a bird and no more. But birds
and angels are alike contained within the will of God; whereupon Paul
invited Jesus to speak of the angels that doubtless alighted among the
rocks and conversed with the Essenes without fear of falling into sin,
there being no women in the cenoby. But in the churches and synagogues
it was different, and he had always taught that women must be careful to
cover their hair under veils lest angels might be tempted. For the
soiled angel, he explained, is unable to return to heaven, and therefore
passes into the bodies of men and women and becomes a demon, and when
the soiled angel can find neither men nor women to descend into they
abide in animals, and become arch demons.

Paul, who had seemed to Jesus to have recovered a great part of his
strength, spoke with great volubility and vehemence, saying that angels
were but the messengers of God, and to carry on the work of the world
God must have messengers, but angels had no power to carry messages from
man back to God. There was but one Mediator, and he was on the point of
saying that this Mediator was Jesus Christ our Lord, but he checked
himself, and said instead that the power to perform miracles was not
transmitted from God to man by means of angels. Angels, he continued,
were no more than God's messengers, and he related that when he had shed
a mist and darkness over the eyes of Elymas, the sooth-sayer in Cyprus,
he had received the power to do so direct from God; he affirmed too, and
in great earnestness, that it was not an angel but God himself that had
prompted him to tell the cripple at Iconium to stand upright on his
feet; he had been warned in a vision not to go into Bithynia; and at
Troas a man had appeared to him in the night and ordered him to come
over to Macedonia, which was his country; he did not know if the man was
a real man in the flesh or the spirit of a man who had lived in the
flesh: but he was not an angel. Of that Paul was sure and certain; then
he related how he had taken ship and sailed to Samothrace, and next day
to Neopolis, and the next day to Philippi, and how in the city of
Thyatira he had bidden a demon depart out of a certain damsel who
brought her master much gain by soothsaying. And for doing this he had
been cast into prison. He knew not of angels, and it was an earthquake
that caused the prison doors to open and not an angel. Peter had met
angels, but he, Paul, had never met one, he knew naught of angels,
except the terrible Kosmokratores, the rulers of this world, the
planetary spirits of the Chaldeans, and he feared angel worship, and had
spoken to the Colossians against it, saying: remember there is always
but one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came to
deliver us from those usurping powers and their chief, the Prince of the
Powers of the Air. They it was, as he had told the Corinthians, that
crucified the Lord of glory. But perhaps even they may be saved, for
they knew not what they did.

Jesus was afraid that Paul's vehemence would carry him on into another
fit like the one that he had just come out of, and he was glad to meet a
shepherd, who passed his water-bottle to Paul. Fill thy bottle from
mine, the shepherd said to Jesus, and there is half-a-loaf of bread in
my wallet which I'd like thee to have to share with thy traveller in the
morning, else he will not be able to begin the journey again. Nay, do
not fear to take it, he said, my wife'll have prepared supper for me.
Jesus took the bread and bade his mate farewell. There is a cave, Paul,
Jesus said, in yonder valley which we can make safe against wolves and
panthers. Lean on my arm. Thy head is still a trouble; drink a little
more water. See, the shepherd has given me half-a-loaf, which we will
share in the morning. Come, the cave is not far: in yon valley. Paul
raised his eyes, and they reasoned with vague, pathetic appeal, for at
that moment Jesus was the stronger. Since it must be so, I'll try, he
said, and he tottered, leaning heavily on Jesus for what seemed to him a
long way and then stopped. I can go no farther; thou wouldst do well to
leave me to the hyenas. Go thy way. But Jesus continued to encourage
him, saying that the cave in which they were to rest was at the end of
the valley, and when Paul asked how many yards distant, he did not
answer the exact distance, but halved it, so that Paul might be
heartened and encouraged, and when the distance mentioned had been
traversed and the cave was still far away he bore with Paul's reproaches
and answered them with kindly voice: we shall soon be there, another few
steps will bring us into it, and it isn't a long valley; only a gutter,
Paul answered, the way the rains have worn through the centuries. A
strange desert, the strangest we have seen yet, and I have travelled a
thousand leagues but never seen one so melancholy. I like better the
great desert. I have lived all my life among these hills, Jesus replied,
and to my eyes they have lost their melancholy.

All thy life in these deserts, Paul replied eagerly, and his manner
softened and became almost winning. Thou'lt forgive, he said, any
abruptness there may have been in my speech, I am speaking differently
from my wont, but to-morrow I shall be in health and able to follow thee
and to listen with interest to thy tales of shepherding among these
hills of which thou must know a goodly number. My speech is improving,
isn't it? answer me. Jesus answered that he understood Paul very well;
and could tell him many stories of flocks, pillaging by robbers and
fights between brave Thracian dogs and wolves, and if such stories
interested Paul he could relate them. But here is our cave, he said,
pointing to a passage between the rocks. We must go down on our hands
and knees to enter it; and in answer to Paul, who was anxious to know
the depth of the cave, Jesus averred that he only knew the cave through
having once looked into it. The caves we know best are the vast caves
into which the shepherd can gather his flocks, trusting to his dogs to
scent the approach of a wild animal and to awaken him. Go first and I'll
follow thee, and Jesus crawled till the rocks opened above him and he
stood up in what Paul described as a bowel in the mountain; a long cave
it was, surely, twisting for miles through the darkness, and especially
evil-smelling, Paul said. Because of the bats, Jesus answered, and
looking up they saw the vermin hanging among the clefts, a sort of
hideous fruit, measuring three feet from wing to wing, Paul muttered,
and as large as rats. We shall see them drop from their roosts as the
sky darkens and flit away in search of food, Jesus said. Paul asked what
food they could find in the desert, and Jesus answered: we are not many
miles from Jericho and these winged rats travel a long way. In Brook
Kerith they are destructive among our figs; we take many in traps. Our
rule forbids us to take life, but we cannot lose all our figs. I've
often wondered why we hesitate to light bundles of damp straw in these
caves, for that is the way to reduce the multitudes, which are worse
than the locusts, for they are eaten; and Jesus told stories of the
locust-eating hermits he had known, omitting, however, all mention of
the Baptist, so afraid was he lest he might provoke Paul into
disputation. See, he said, that great fellow clinging to that ledge, he
is beginning to be conscious of the sun setting, and a moment after the
bat flopped away, passing close over their heads into the evening air,
followed soon after by dozens of male and female and many half-grown
bats that were a few months before on the dug, a stinking colony, that
the wayfarers were glad to be rid of. But they'll be in and out the
whole night, Jesus said, and I know of no other cave within reach where
we can sleep safely. Sometimes the wild cats come after them and then
there is much squealing. But think no more of them. I will roll up my
sheepskin for a pillow for thee, and sleep as well as thou mayest,
comrade, for to-morrow's march is a long one.



CHAP. XXXIX.


It was as Jesus had said, the bats kept coming in and going out all the
night through, and their squeakings as they settled themselves to sleep
a little before dawn awakened Paul, who, lifting his head from the
sheepskin that Jesus had rolled into a comfortable pillow for him, spied
Jesus asleep in a corner, and he began to ask himself if he should
awaken Jesus or let him sleep a little while longer. But myself, he
said, must escape from the stifle of this cave and the reek of the bats,
and, dropping on his hands and knees, he crawled into the air.

It was a great joy to draw the pure air into his lungs, to drink a deep
draught, and to look round for a wild cat. One may be lurking, he said,
impatient for our departure, and as soon as we go will creep in and
spring among the roosts and carry off the flopping, squeaking morsel.
But if a cat had been there licking her fur, waiting for the tiresome
wayfarers to depart, she would have remained undiscovered to Paul's
eyes, so thick was the shadow, and it was a long time before the valley
lengthened out and the rocks reassumed their different shapes.

He was in a long narrow valley between steep hills, with a path
zigzagging up the hillside at the farther end, among rocks that set Paul
thinking of the little that would remain of his sandals before they
reached Cæsarea.

A long day's march of twelve or thirteen hours lay before him, one that
he would have been able to undertake in the old days without a thought
of failure, but it was over and above his strength to-day. But was it?
It seemed to him that he could walk a long way if the present breeze
that had come up with the day were to continue. It came up the valley,
delicious as spring water, but suddenly he recognised in it the smell of
a wild animal; the sour smell of wolves, he said to himself, and looking
among the rocks he spied two large wolves not more than fifty yards
distant. It is fortunate, he said, that the wind is blowing from them to
me, else they would have scented me; and Paul watched the lolloping gait
of the wolves till they were out of sight, and then descending from the
rock he returned to the cave, thinking he had done wrong to leave it,
for he had entrusted himself to Jesus, and perforce to clear his
conscience had to confide to him he had been out in the valley and seen
two wolves go by. But they did not scent me, the wind being
unfavourable. If they had, and been hungry, it might have gone hard with
thee, Jesus said, and then he spoke of Bethennabrio, a village within a
dozen miles of Cæsarea in which Paul would sleep that night. Thou canst
not get to Cæsarea to-night, Jesus affirmed to him, and they resumed
their journey through a country that seemed to grow more arid and
melancholy as they advanced.

Paul complained often that he had come by a more direct and a better way
with Timothy, but Jesus insisted that the way they were going was not
many miles longer than the way Paul had come by. Moreover, the way he
was taking was safer to follow. The Jews of Jericho had had many hours
in which to lay plans for his capture, but Jesus thought that if Paul
would believe in him he would be able to get him in safety to the
village of Bethennabrio, where Paul thought he would be safe; the Jews
would not dare to arrest a Roman prisoner, one who had been ordered by
Festus to Italy to receive Cæsar's judgment within a few miles of
Cæsarea. Thou'lt be within two hours of Cæsarea, Jesus said, and can
look forward to seeing your comrade Timothy the next day. Jesus' words
brought comfort to Paul's heart and helped him to forget his feet that
were beginning to pain him. But a long distance would still have to be
traversed, and his eyes wandered over the outlines of the round-backed
hills divided by steep valleys, so much alike that he asked himself how
it was that Jesus could distinguish one from the other; but his guide
seemed to divine the way as by instinct, and Paul struggled on,
encouraged by a promise of a half-hour's rest as soon as they reached
the summit of the hill before them. But no sooner had they reached it
than Jesus said, come behind this rock and hide thyself quickly. And
when he was safely hidden Jesus said, now peep over the top and thou'lt
see a shepherd leading his sheep along the hillside. What of that? Paul
answered, and Jesus said, not much, only I am thinking whether it would
be well to let him go his way without putting a question to him, or
whether it would be better to leave thee here while I go to him with the
intention of finding out from him if there be tidings going about that
one Paul of Tarsus, a spreader of great heresies, a pestilential fellow,
a stirrer-up of sedition, has been seen wandering, trying to find his
way back to Cæsarea.

The shepherd was passing away over the crest of the hill when Jesus
said, the pretext will come to me on my way to him. Do thou abide here
till I return, and Paul watched him running, lurching from side to side
over the rough ground towards the shepherd, still far away. Will he
overtake him before he passes out of sight and hearing? he asked
himself.

The sheep were running merrily, and the breeze carried down to Paul's
ear the sound of the pipe, setting him thinking of the Patriarchs and
then of his guide; only mad, he said, in one corner of his brain,
convinced that he returned to the Essenes because he had said in
Jerusalem that he was the Messiah. A strange blasphemy, he muttered, and
yet not strange enough to save the brethren from the infection of it. It
would seem that they believe with him that he suffered under Pilate,
without knowing, however, for what crime he was punished; and a terrible
curiosity arose in Paul to learn the true story of his guide's life,
who, he judged, might be led into telling it if care were taken not to
arouse his suspicion. But these madmen are full of cunning, he said to
himself, and when Jesus returned Paul asked if he had discovered from
the shepherd if an order was abroad from Jericho to arrest two itinerant
preachers on their way to Cæsarea. Jesus answered him that he had put no
direct question to the shepherd. He had talked to him of the prospect of
future rains, and we were both agreed, Jesus said, that the sky looked
like rain, and he told me we should find water in the valley collected
in pools among the rocks; he mentioned one by a group of fig-trees which
we could not miss seeing. Thou art safe, Paul, have no fear for thy safe
arrival at Cæsarea at midday to-morrow. If a search had been ordered to
arrest two wayfarers my shepherd would have heard of it, for it was
about here that they would try to intercept us, and we shall do well to
turn into a path that they will overlook even if they have sent out
agents in pursuit of thee and Timothy.



CHAP. XL.


By midday they reached a region more rugged than the one they had come
out of. The path they followed zigzagged up steep ascents and descended
into crumbling valleys and plains filled with split stones, rubble and
sand, a desert truly, without sign of a living thing till the shadow of
an eagle's wings passed over the hot stones. Jesus told Paul that the
birds nested up among the clefts yonder and were most destructive in the
spring when the ewes were lambing. Having to feed three or four eaglets,
he said, the birds would descend on the flocks, the she-eagle, the
larger, stronger and fiercer, will attack and drive off even the dog
that does not fear a wolf, yet I have seen, he continued, a timid ewe,
her youngling behind her in a coign in the hill, face the bird fiercely
and butt it till she lost her eyes, poor ewe, for I came up too late
with my staff. And the lamb? Paul inquired: was far away, Jesus
answered, aloft among the eaglets.

Jesus had stories of wolves and hyenas to beguile the way with, and he
pointed with his staff to the narrow paths above them up which they
would have to climb. But be not discouraged, he said, we shall be in a
better country presently; as soon as we pass the hill yonder we shall
begin to descend into the plain, another three leagues beyond yon hill
we shall be where we bid each other farewell. Paul answered he was
leaving Palestine for ever. His way was first to Italy and then to Spain
and afterwards his life would be over, his mission fulfilled, but he was
glad to have been to Jericho to have seen the Jordan, the river in which
John had baptized Jesus. He was sorry now when it was too late that he
had never been to Galilee, and Jesus told of wooded hills rising gently
from the lake shore, and he took pleasure in relating the town of
Magdala and the house of Dan of Arimathea, Joseph's father, and the
great industry he had established there; he continued talking, showing
such an intimate and personal knowledge of Galilee that Paul could not
doubt that he was what he professed to be, a Nazarene. There were
hundreds of Nazarenes, many of which were called Jesus: but there was
only one Jesus of Nazareth. He did not say this to Jesus; but after
Jesus had asked him how it was that he who had travelled the world over
had never turned into Galilee, he replied that the human life of Jesus
in Galilee concerned him not at all and his teaching very little. He
taught all the virtues, but these were known to humanity from the
beginning; they are in the law that God revealed to Moses. Even pagans
know of them. The Greeks have expounded them excellently well. A teacher
Jesus was and a great teacher, but far more important was the fact that
God had raised him from the dead, thereby placing him above all the
prophets and near to God himself. So I have always taught that if Jesus
were not raised from the dead our teaching is vain. A miracle, he said,
and he looked into Jesus' face just as if he suspected him to be
thinking that something more than a miracle was needed to convince the
world of the truth of Paul's doctrine. A miracle, to the truth of which
more than five hundred have already testified. First he appeared to Mary
and Martha, afterwards to Cleophas and Khuza. On the way to Emmaus he
stayed and supped with them and afterwards he appeared to the twelve.
Hast met all the twelve and consulted with them? Jesus asked, and Paul,
a little irritated by the interruption, answered that he had seen Peter
and John and James and Philip but he knew not the others; and, of
course, James, the brother of the Lord. Tell me about him, Jesus
answered. He admits Jesus as a prophet among the others but no more, and
observes the law more strictly than any other Jew, a narrow-minded bigot
that has opposed my teaching as bitterly as the priests themselves. It
was he who, Paul began, but Jesus interrupted and asked about Peter.
Where was he? And what doctrine is he preaching? Paul answered that
Peter was at Antioch, though why he should choose to live there has
always seemed strange to me, for he does not speak Greek. But what trade
does he follow? Jesus asked. There are marshes and lakes about Antioch,
Paul replied, and these are well stocked with fish, of a quality
inferior, however, to those he used to catch in the lake of Gennesaret,
but still fish for which there is some sale. He and John own some boats
and they ply up and down the marshes, and draw up a living in their
nets, a poor and uncertain living I believe it to be, for they are often
about telling stories to the faithful of our Lord Jesus Christ, who pay
them for their recitals. One is always with them, a woman called Rachel.
It is said that she poisoned a rival at a wedding, a girl called Ruth
whom Jesus raised from the dead. Ruth went to her husband, but Rachel
followed Jesus of Nazareth.... Thou'rt a Galilean, Paul said, and know
these stories better than I.

As they walked on together, Paul's thoughts returned to the miracle of
his apostleship, received, he said, by me from Jesus Christ our Lord
himself on the road to Damascus. Thy brethren have doubtless related the
story to thee how in my journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, full of
wrath to kill and to punish the saints, I was blinded by a great light
from the skies, and out of a cloud Jesus Christ our Lord spoke to me:
Paul! Paul! he cried, why persecutest thou me? Ever since I have
preached that there is but one Mediator between God and man--Christ
Jesus our Lord, and if I ran out whilst thou wast telling thy story,
crying, he is mad, he is mad! it was because it seemed to me that thou
wert speaking by order of the Jews who would ensnare and entrap me or
for some other reason. None may divine men's desire of soul, unless an
evil spirit has descended into thee I may not divine any reason for thy
story. There is some mistake that none would regret more than thou, for
thou wouldst hear the truth from me this day, thereby gaining
everlasting life. Why dost thou not answer me, Jesus? Because thou'rt
waiting to hear from me the words that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to
me? My brethren have told it to me, Jesus answered. And thou believest
it not? Paul cried. I believe, Jesus answered, that the Jesus that spake
to thee out of a cloud never lived in the flesh; he was a Lord Jesus
Christ of thy own imagining, and I believe, too, that if we had met in
Galilee thou wouldst not have heeded me, and thou wouldst have done
well, for in Galilee I was but a seeker; go thou and seek and be not
always satisfied with what first comes to thy hand.

These words provoked a great rage in Paul, and believing Jesus to be an
evil spirit come to tempt him, he turned fiercely upon him, threatening
him with his staff, bidding him begone. But as he could not desert Paul
in the wilderness Jesus dropped behind him and directed Paul's journey,
bidding him tread here and not there, to avoid the hill in front of him,
and to keep along the valley.

In this way they proceeded for about another hour, and then Jesus cried
out to Paul: yonder are the fig-trees where the shepherd told me to look
for a pool among the rocks after the late rains. Art overcome, Paul,
with the long march and the heat? Rest. Let me untie thy sandals. Alas!
they are worn through and will scarce carry thee into Bethennabrio. But
they must carry me thither, Paul answered, and if there be water in the
pool after we have drunken and filled our water-bottle I'll loose the
thongs and bathe my feet.

The season was advanced, but there were still leaves on the fig-trees,
and among the rocks some water had collected, and having drunk and
filled the water-bottle, Jesus loosed the thongs of Paul's sandals and
bound his feet with some bandages torn from his own clothing. He broke
the bread that the passing shepherd had given him, but Paul could eat
very little so overcome was he with fatigue. I shall try to eat after I
have slept a little, and having made his head comfortable with his
sheepskin, Jesus watched him doze away.

Soon after the warm rocks brought sleep to Jesus' eyes, and he fell
asleep trying to remember that he had nothing more explicit to rely upon
than his own declaration (where should it be made, in the streets to the
people or in the Sanhedrin to the priests?) that he was Jesus of
Nazareth whom Pilate condemned to the cross, only his own words to
convince the priests and the people that he was not a shepherd whom the
loneliness of the hills had robbed of his senses. He could not bring the
Essenes as testimony, nor could they if they came vouch for the whole
truth of his story.



CHAP. XLI.


Hast slept well, Paul, and hath sleep refreshed thee and given thee
strength to pursue thy journey? Paul answered that he was very weary,
but however weary must struggle on to Cæsarea. Thy strength wilt not
suffer thee to get farther than Bethennabrio, and to reach Bethennabrio
I must make thy sandals comfortable, Jesus answered, and on these words
he knelt and succeeded in arranging the thongs so that Paul walked
without pain.

They walked without speaking, Paul afraid lest some chance word of his
might awaken Jesus' madness, and Jesus forgetful of Paul, his mind now
set on Jerusalem, whither he was going as soon as Paul was safely out of
the way of the Jews. Each shut himself within the circle of his own
mind, and the silence was not broken till Paul began to fear that Jesus
was plotting against him, and to distract Jesus' mind from his plots, if
he were weaving any, he ventured to compare the country they were
passing through with Galilee, and forthwith Jesus began to talk to Paul
of Peter and John and James, sons of Zebedee, mentioning their
appearances, voices, manner of speech, relating their boats, their
fishing tackle, the fish-salting factory at Magdala, Dan, and Joseph his
son. He spoke volubly, genially, a winning relation it was of the
fishing life round the lake, without mention of miracles, for it was not
to his purpose to convince Paul of any spiritual power he may have
enjoyed, but rather of his own simple humanity. And Paul listened to all
his narratives complacently, still believing his guide to be a madman.
If thou hadst not run away crying, he is mad, he is mad! thou wouldst
have heard how my crucifixion was brought about; how my eyes opened in
the tomb and---- Interrupting Jesus, Paul hastened to assure him that if
he cried out, he is mad, he is mad, he had spoken the words unwittingly,
they were put into his mouth by the sickness in which Jesus had
discovered him. And the sickness, he admitted, might have been brought
about by the shock of hearing thee speak of thyself as the Messiah. But,
Paul, I did not speak of myself as the Messiah, but as an Essene who
during some frenzied months believed himself to be the Messiah. But,
shepherd, Paul answered, the Messiah promised to the Jews was Jesus of
Nazareth, who was raised by his Father from the dead, and thou sayest
that thou art the same. If thou didst once believe thyself to be the
Messiah thou hast repented thy blasphemy. Let us talk no more about the
Messiah. In the desert these twenty years, Jesus answered. But not till
now did I know my folly had borne fruit. Nor do I know now if Joseph
knew that a story had been set going. It may be that the story was not
set going till after his death. Now it seems too late to go into the
field thou hast sown with tares instead of corn. To which Paul answered:
it is my knowledge of thy seclusion among rocks that prompts me to
listen to thee. The field I have sown like every other field has some
tares in it, but it is full of corn ripening fast which will be ready
for the reaping when it shall please the Lord to descend with his own
son, Jesus of Nazareth, from the skies. As soon as the words Jesus of
Nazareth had left his lips Paul regretted them, for he did not doubt
that he was speaking to a madman whose name, no doubt, was Jesus, and
who had come from Nazareth, and having got some inkling of the true
story of the resurrection had little by little conceived himself to be
he who had died that all might be saved; and upon a sudden resolve not
to utter another word that might offend the madman's beliefs, he began
to tell that he had brought hope to the beggar, the outcast, to the
slave; though this world was but a den of misery to them, another world
was coming to which they might look forward in full surety; and many, he
said, that led vile lives are now God-fearing men and women who, when
the daily work is done, go forth in the evening to beseech the multitude
to give some time to God.

In every field there are tares, but there are fewer in my field than in
any other, and that I hold to be the truth; and seeing that Jesus was
listening to his story he began to relate his theology, perplexing Jesus
with his doctrines, but interesting him with the glad tidings that the
burden of the law had been lifted from all. If he had stopped there all
would have been well, so it seemed to Jesus, whose present mind was not
able to grasp why a miracle should be necessary to prove to men that the
love of God was in the heart rather than in observances, and the miracle
that Paul continued to relate with so much unction seemed to him so
crude; yet he once believed that God was pleased to send his only
begotten son to redeem the world by his death on a cross. A strange
conception truly. And while he was thinking these things Paul fell to
telling his dogma concerning predestination, and he was anxious that
Jesus should digest his reply to Mathias, who had said that
predestination conflicted with the doctrine of salvation for all. But
Jesus, who was of Mathias' opinion, refrained from expressing himself
definitely on the point, preferring to forget Paul, so that he might
better consider if he would be able to make plain to Paul that miracles
bring no real knowledge of God to man, and that our conscience is the
source of our knowledge of God and that perhaps a providence nourishes
beyond the world.

Meanwhile Paul continued his discourse, till, becoming suddenly aware
that Jesus' thoughts were far away, he stopped speaking; the silence
awoke Jesus from his meditation, and he began to compare Paul's
strenuous and restless life with his own, asking himself if he envied
this man who had laboured so fiercely and meditated so little. And Paul,
divining in a measure the thoughts that were passing in Jesus' mind,
began to speak to Jesus of our life in the flesh and its value. For is
it not true, he asked, that it is in our fleshly life we earn our
immortal life? But, Paul, Jesus said, it seems unworthy to love virtue
to gain heaven. Is it not better to love virtue for its own sake? I have
heard that question many times, Paul answered, and believe those that
ask it to be of little faith; were I not sure that our Lord Jesus Christ
died, and was raised by his Father from the dead, I should turn to the
pleasures of this world, though there is but little taste in me for
them, only that little which all men suffer, and I have begged God to
redeem me from it, but he answered: my grace suffices.

A great pity for Paul took possession of Jesus, and seeking to gain him,
Jesus spoke of the Essenes and their life, and the advantage it would be
to him to return to the Brook Kerith. Among the brethren thou'lt seek
and find thyself, and every man, he continued, is behoven sooner or
later to seek himself; and thyself, Paul, if I read thee rightly, hath
always been overlooked by thee, which is a fault. So thou thinkest,
Jesus, that I have always overlooked myself? But which self? For there
have been many selves in me. A Pharisee that went forth from Jerusalem
with letters from the chief priests to persecute the saints in Damascus.
The self that has begun to wish that life were over so that I may be
brought to Christ, never to be separated again from him. Or the self
that lies beyond my reason, that would hold me accursed from Christ, if
thereby I might bring the whole world to Christ in exchange: which self
of those three wouldst thou have me seek and discover in the Brook
Kerith? He waited a little while for Jesus to answer, then he answered
his own question: my work is my conscience made manifest, and my soul is
in the Lord Jesus Christ that was crucified and raised from the dead by
his Father. He lives in me, and it is by his power that I live.

The men stopped and looked into each other's eyes, and it seemed to them
that no two men were so irreparably divided. Thou must bear with me,
Paul, Jesus said, a little while longer, till we reach a certain
hillside, distant about an hour's journey from this valley. I must see
thee to a place of safety, and the thoughts in my mind I will consider
while we strive up these sand-hills. Now if thy sandals hurt thee tell
me and I will arrange the thongs differently. Paul answered that they
were easy to wear, and they toiled up the dunes in silence, Paul
thinking how he might persuade this madman to return to his cenoby and
leave the world to him.

There are some, he said, as they came out of a valley, that think the
time is long deferred before the Lord will come. Thou'rt Jesus of
Nazareth, I deny it not, but the Jesus of Nazareth that I preach is of
the spirit and not of the flesh, and it was the spirit and not the flesh
that was raised from the dead. Thy doctrine that man's own soul is his
whole concern is well enough for the philosophers of Egypt and Greece,
but we who know the judgment to be near, and that there is salvation for
all, must hasten with the glad tidings. Wilt tell me, Paul, of what
value would thy teaching be if Jesus did not die on the cross? Many
times and in many places I have said my teaching would be as naught if
our Lord Jesus had not died, Paul answered. Are not my hands and feet
testimony, Paul, that I speak the truth? Look unto them. Pilate put many
beside thee on the cross, Paul replied, and, as I have told thee, my
Christ is not of this world. If he be not of this world, is he God or
angel? Jesus asked, and Paul said: neither, but God's own son, chosen by
God from the beginning to redeem the world, not the Jews only, but all
men, Gentiles and Jews alike. Thou hast asked me to look into thy hands
and feet, but what testimony may be a few ancient scars to me that heard
our Lord Jesus Christ speak out of the clouds? Thou wast not in the
cenoby when I told my story, hoping thereby to get a dozen apostles to
accompany me to Spain, a wide and difficult country I'm told, a dozen
would not be too many; but thou wast not there to hear what befell me on
the road to Damascus, whither I was going to persecute the saints; and
again a great pity for Paul took possession of Jesus as he listened to
the story. Were I to persuade him that there was no miracle, his mind
would snap, Jesus said to himself, and he figured Paul wandering
demented through the hills.

And when Paul came to the end of his story he seemed to have forgotten
the man walking by his side. He is rapt, Jesus said to himself, in the
Jesus of his imagination. And when they had walked for another hour
Jesus said: seest the ridge of hills over yonder? There we shall find
the village, two hours' march from Cæsarea. The sea rises up in front of
thee and a long meandering road will lead thee into Cæsarea. At yonder
ridge of hills we part. And whither goest thou? Paul asked. Returnest
thou to the Brook Kerith? I know not whither I go, but a great seeming
is in my heart that it will not be to the Brook Kerith nor to Jerusalem.
To Jerusalem? Paul repeated. What persuasion or what desire would bring
thee to that accursed city of men more stubborn than all others? I left
the Brook Kerith, Paul, after listening to Hazael for a long while; he
sought to dissuade me against Jerusalem, but I resisted his counsel,
saying that now I knew thee to be preaching the resurrection of Jesus of
Nazareth from the dead, thereby leading the people astray, I must return
to Jerusalem to tell the priest that he whom they believed to be raised
from the dead still lived in the flesh. However mad thou beest, the
priests will welcome thy story and for it may glorify thee or belike put
thee on the cross again. But this is sure that emissaries will be sent
to Italy and Spain, who will turn the people's mind from the truth; and
the testimony of the twelve that saw Jesus and of the five hundred that
saw him afterwards will be as naught; and the Jews will scoff at me,
saying: he whom thou declarest was raised from the dead lives; and the
Gentiles will scoff and say: we will listen to thee, Paul, another day;
and the world will fall back into idolatry, led back into it by the
delusions of a madman. The word of God is a weak thing, Paul, Jesus
answered, if it cannot withstand and overcome the delusions of a madman,
and God himself a derision, for he will have sent his son to die on the
cross in vain. Of the value of the testimony of the twelve I am the
better judge. Then thou goest to Jerusalem, Paul asked, to confute me?
No, Paul, I shall not return to Jerusalem. Because, Paul interrupted,
thou wouldst not see the world fall back into idolatry? Thou art a good
man despite---- Despite my delusions, Jesus said, interrupting Paul. So
thou'rt afraid the world will fall back into idolatry?--yet Jesus of
Nazareth has been proclaimed by thee as the Messiah, a man above
mankind. A spiritual being, higher than the angels, therefore, in a way,
part and parcel of the Godhead though not yet equal to God. Thinkest,
Paul, that those that come after thee will not pick up the Messiah where
thou hast left him and carry him still further into deity?

It is not fear of idolatry, Paul, that turns me from Jerusalem. The
world will always be idolatrous in some sort of fashion. Bear that well
in mind whither thou goest. The world cannot be else than the world.

Let us sit here, Paul answered, for I would hear thee under this rock in
front of this sea; thou shalt tell me how thou earnest into these
thoughts. Thou, a shepherd among the Judean hills. Jesus answered him:
the things that I taught in Galilee were not vain, but I only knew part
of the truth, that which thou knowest, that sacrifices and observances
are vain; and when I went to Jerusalem the infamy of the Temple and its
priests became clear to me, and I yielded to anger, for I was possessed
of a great desire to save the people. The Scribes and Pharisees
conspired against me, and I was brought before the High Priest, who rent
his garments. We have but little time to spend together, and rather than
that story I would hear thee tell of the thoughts that came to thee
whilst thou didst lead thy flocks over the hills.

For many years, Paul, there were no thoughts in my mind, or they were
kept back, for I was without a belief; but thought returned to my
desolate mind as the spring returns to these hills; and the next step in
my advancement was when I began to understand that we may not think of
God as a man who would punish men for doing things they have never
promised not to do, or recompense them for abstinence from things they
never promised to abstain from. Soon after I began to comprehend that
the beliefs of our forefathers must be abandoned, and that if we would
arrive at any reasonable conception of God, we must not put a stint upon
him. And as I wandered with my sheep he became in my senses not without
but within the universe, part and parcel, not only of the stars and the
earth, but of me, yea, even of my sheep on the hillside. All things are
God, Paul: thou art God and I am God, but if I were to say thou art man
and I am God, I should be the madman that thou believest me to be. That
was the second step in my advancement; and the third step, Paul, in my
advancement was the knowledge that God did not design us to know him but
through our consciousness of good and evil, only thus far may we know
him. So thou seest, Paul, he has not written the utmost stint of his
power upon us, and this being so, Paul--and who shall say that it is not
so--it came to me to understand that all striving was vain, and worse
than vain. The pursuit of a corruptible crown as well as the pursuit of
an incorruptible crown leads us to sin. If we would reach the sinless
state we must relinquish pursuit. What I mean is this, that he who seeks
the incorruptible crown starts out with words of love on his lips to
persuade men to love God, and finding that men do not heed him he begins
to hate them, and hate leads on into persecution. Such is the end of all
worship. There is but one thing, Paul, to learn to live for ourselves,
and to suffer our fellows to do likewise; all learning comes out of
ourselves, and no one may communicate his thought; for his thought was
given to him for himself alone. Thou art where I was once, thou hast
learnt that sacrifices and observances are vain, that God is in our
heart; and it may be that in years to come thy knowledge will be
extended, or it may be that thou hast reached the end of thy tether: we
are all at tether, Paul.

Wouldst thou have me learn, Jesus, that God is to be put aside? Again,
Paul, thou showest me the vanity of words. God forbid that I should say
banish God from thy hearts. God cannot be banished, for God is in us.
All things proceed from God; all things end in God; God like all the
rest is a possession of the mind. He who would be clean must be obedient
to God. God has not designed us to know him except through our
conscience. Each man's conscience is a glimpse. These are some of the
things that I have learnt, Paul, in the wilderness during the last
twenty years. But seek not to understand me. Thou canst not understand
me and be thyself; but, Paul, I can comprehend thee, for once I was
thou. Whither goest thou? Paul cried, looking back. But Jesus made no
answer, and Paul, with a flutter of exaltation in his heart, turned
towards Cæsarea, knowing now for certain that Jesus would not go to
Jerusalem to provoke the Jews against him. Italy would therefore hear of
the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ that had brought salvation
for all, and Spain afterwards. Spain, Spain, Spain! he repeated as he
walked, filled with visions of salvation. He walked with Spain vaguely
in his mind till his reverie was broken by the sound of voices, and he
saw people suddenly in a strange garb going towards the hillside on
which he had left Jesus; neither Jews nor Greeks were they, and on
turning to a shepherd standing by he heard that the strangely garbed
people were monks from India, and they are telling the people, the
shepherd said, that they must not believe that they have souls, and that
they know that they are saved. What can be saved but the spirit? Paul
cried, and he asked the shepherd how far he was from the village of
Bethennabrio. Not more than half-an-hour, the shepherd answered, and it
was upon coming into sight of the village that Paul began to trace a
likeness between the doctrines that Jesus had confided to him and the
shepherd's story of the doctrines that were being preached by the monks
from India. His thoughts were interrupted by the necessity of asking the
first passenger coming from the village to direct him to the inn, and it
was good tidings to hear that there was one.

However meagre the food might be, it would be enough, he answered, and
while he sat at supper he remembered Jesus again, and while thinking of
his doctrines and the likeness they bore to those the Indians were
preaching, some words of Jesus returned to him. He had said that he did
not think he was going back to the Brook Kerith, and it may well be,
Paul muttered, that in saying those words he was a prophet without
knowing it. The monks from India will meet him in the valley, and if
they speak to him they will soon gather from him that he divined much of
their philosophy while watching his flock, and finding him to be of
their mind they may ask him to return to India with them and he will
preach there.

Sleep began to gather in Paul's eyes and he was soon dozing, thinking in
his doze how pleasant it was to lie in a room with no bats above him. A
remembrance of the smell kept him awake, but his fatigue was so great
that his sleep grew deeper and deeper and many hours passed over, and
the people in the inn thought that Paul would never wake again. But this
long sleep did not redeem him from the fatigue of his journeys. He could
not set out again till late in the afternoon, and it was evening when he
passed over the last ridge of hills and saw the yellow sands of Cæsarea
before him. The sky was grey, and the rain that Jesus had foreseen was
beginning to fall, and it was through shades of evening that he saw the
great mole covered with buildings stretching far into the sea. Timothy
will be waiting for me at the gate if he has not fallen over a
precipice, he said, and a few minutes after he caught sight of Timothy
waiting for him. Paul opened his arms to him. Thoughtest that I was lost
to thee for ever, Timothy? God whispered in my ears, Timothy answered,
that he would bring thee back safely, and the ship is already in offing.
It would be well to go on board now, for at daybreak we weigh anchor.
Thou'lt sleep better on board. And Paul, who was too weary even to
answer, allowed himself to be led. And, too weary to sleep, he lay
waking often out of shallow sleeps. He could hear Timothy breathing by
his side, and when he raised his eyes he saw the stars that were to
guide them along the coasts; but the beauty of the stars could not blot
out of his mind the shepherd's face: and Paul's thoughts murmured, he
who believed himself the Messiah and still thinks he is Jesus of
Nazareth which was raised by his Father from the dead. Yet without his
help I should not have reached Cæsarea. It then seemed to Paul that the
shepherd was an angel in disguise sent to his aid, or a madman. A madman
with a strange light in his eyes, he continued, and fell to thinking if
the voice that spoke out of the cloud bore any likeness to the voice
that had compelled his attention for so long a term on the hillside. But
a bodily voice, he said, cannot resemble a spiritual voice, and it is
enough that the Lord Jesus spoke to me, and that his voice has abided in
me and become my voice. It is his voice that is now calling me to Rome,
and it is his voice that I shall hear when my life is over, saying:
Paul, I have long waited for thee; come unto me, faithful servant, and
receive in me thy gain and the fruit of all thy labour. He repeated the
words so loudly that Timothy awoke, and at the sight of the young man's
face the present sank out of sight and he was again in Lystra, and on
looking into the young man's eyes he knew that Timothy would remind him
always of the woman in Lystra whom he would never see again. Of what art
thou thinking, Paul? The voice seemed to come from the ends of the
earth, but it came from Timothy's lips. Of Lystra, Timothy, that we
shall never see again nor any of the people we have ever known. We are
leaving our country and our kindred. But remember, Timothy, that it is
God that calls thee Homeward. And they sat talking in the soft starlight
of what had befallen them when they separated in the darkness. Timothy
told that he remembered the way he had come by sufficiently not to fall
far out of it, and that at daybreak he had met shepherds who had
directed him. He had walked and he had rested and in that way managed to
reach Cæsarea the following evening. A long journey on foot, but a poor
adventure. But thou hast been away three days, three days and three
nights.... How earnest thou hither? Thy eyes are full of story. A fair
adventure, Timothy, and he related his visit to the Essenes and their
dwelling among the cliffs above the Brook Kerith. A fair adventure
truly, Timothy. Would I'd been with thee to have seen and heard them.
Would indeed that we had not been separated---- He was about to tell the
shepherd's story but was stopped by some power within himself. But how
didst thou come hither? Timothy asked again, and Paul answered, the
Essenes sent their shepherd with me. Timothy begged Paul to tell him
more about the Essenes, but the sailors begged them to cease talking,
and next day the ship touched at Sidon, and Julius, in whose charge Paul
had been placed, gave him the liberty to go unto his friends and to
refresh himself.

The sea of Cilicia was beautifully calm, and they sailed on, hearing all
the sailors, who were Greek, telling their country's legends of the wars
of Troy, and of Venus whose great temple was in Cyprus. After passing
Cyprus they came to Myra, a city of Cilicia, and were fortunate enough
to find a ship there bound for Alexandria, sailing from thence to Italy.
Julius put them all on board it; but the wind was unfavourable, and as
soon as they came within sight of the Cnidus the wind blew against them
and they sailed to Crete and by Salome till they came to a coast known
as the Fair Havens by the city of Lasea, where much time was spent to
the great danger of the ship, and also to the lives of the passengers
and the crew as Paul fully warned them, the season, he said, being too
advanced for them to expect fair sailings. I have fared much by land and
sea, he said, and know the danger and perils of this season. He was not
listened to, but the Haven being not safe in winter they loosed for
Phoenice; and the wind blew softly, and they mocked Paul, but not long,
for a dangerous wind arose known as euroclydon, against which the ship
could not bear up, and so the crew let her drive before it till in great
fear of quicksands they unloaded the ship of some cargo. And next day,
the wind rising still higher, they threw overboard all they could lay
hands upon, and for several days and nights the wrack was so thick and
black overhead that they were driven on and on through unknown wastes of
water, Paul exhorting all to be of good cheer, for an angel of God had
exhorted him that night, telling that none should drown.

And when the fourteenth day was spent it seemed to the sailors that they
were close upon land. Upon sounding they found fifteen fathoms, and
afraid they were upon rocks, they cast out anchors. But the anchors did
not hold, and the danger of drowning became so great as the night
advanced that the sailors would have launched a boat, but Paul besought
them to remain upon the ship; and when it was day they discovered a
certain creek in which they thought they might beach the ship, which
they did, and none too soon, for the ship began to break to pieces soon
after. But shall our prisoners be supposed to swim ashore? the soldiers
asked, and they would have killed the prisoners, but the centurion
restrained them, for he was minded to save Paul's life, and all reached
the shore either by swimming or clinging to wreckage which the waves
cast up upon the shore.

They were then upon the island of Melita, where Paul was mistaken for a
murderer because a viper springing out of a bundle of sticks fastened on
his hand. But he shook off the beast into the fire and felt no harm, and
the barbarians waited for him to swell and fall down suddenly, but when
he showed no sign of sickness they mistook him for a god, and in fear
that they would offer sacrifices in his honour, as the priests of Lystra
wished to do when he bade the cripple stand straight upon his feet, he
told them that he was a man like themselves; he consented, however, that
they should bring him to Publius, the chief man of the island, who lay
sick with fever and a flux of blood, and he rose up healed as soon as
Paul imposed his hand upon him. And many other people coming, all of
whom were healed, the barbarians brought him presents.

After three months' stay they went on board a ship from Alexandria,
whose sign was Castor and Pollux, and a fair wind took them to Syracuse,
where they tarried three days; a south wind arose at Rhegium and carried
them next into Puteoli, where Paul found the brethren, who begged the
centurion Julius to allow him to remain with them for a few days, and on
account of his great friendship and admiration of Paul he allowed him to
tarry for seven days.

From Puteoli Paul and Timothy and Aristarchus went forward towards Rome
with the centurion, and the news of their journey having preceded them
the brethren came to meet them as far as The Three Taverns.... With
great rejoicing they all went on to Rome together, and when they arrived
in Rome the centurion delivered the prisoners to the Captain of the
Guard, but Paul was permitted to live by himself with a soldier on guard
over him, and he enjoyed the right to see whom he pleased and to teach
his doctrine, which he did, calling as soon as he was rested the chiefs
of the Jews together, and when they were come together he related to
them the story of the persecutions he had endured from the Jews from the
beginning, and that he had appealed to Cæsar in order to escape from
them. He expounded and testified the Kingdom of God, persuading them on
all matters concerning Jesus, his birth, his death and his resurrection,
enjoining them to look into the Scriptures and to accept the
testification of five hundred, many of whom were still alive, while some
were sleeping. He spoke from morning to evening.

The rest of his story is unknown.





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