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Title: Joshua — Volume 4
Author: Ebers, Georg
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 "Joshua — Volume 4" ***

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JOSHUA

By Georg Ebers

Volume 4.



CHAPTER XX.

The storm which had risen as night closed in swept over the isthmus.  The
waves in its lakes dashed high, and the Red Sea, which thrust a bay
shaped like the horn of a snail into it from the south, was lashed to the
wildest fury.

Farther northward, where Pharaoh's army, protected by the Migdol of the
South, the strongest fort of the Etham line, had encamped a short time
before, the sand lashed by the storm whirled through the air and, in the
quarter occupied by the king and his great officials, hammers were
constantly busy driving the tent-pins deeper into the earth; for the
brocades, cloths, and linen materials which formed the portable houses of
Pharaoh and his court, struck by the gale, threatened to break from the
poles by which they were supported.

Black clouds hung in the north, but the moon and stars were often
visible, and flashes of distant lightning frequently brightened the
horizon.  Even now the moisture of heaven seemed to avoid this rainless
region and in all directions fires were burning, which the soldiers
surrounded in double rows, like a living shield, to keep the storm from
scattering the fuel.

The sentries had a hard duty; for the atmosphere was sultry, in spite of
the north wind, which still blew violently, driving fresh clouds of sand
into their faces.

Only two sentinels were pacing watchfully to and fro at the most northern
gate of the camp, but they were enough; for, on account of the storm, no
one had appeared for a long time to demand entrance or egress.  At last,
three hours after sunset, a slender figure, scarcely beyond boyhood,
approached the guards with a firm step and, showing a messenger's pass,
asked the way to Prince Siptah's tent.

He seemed to have had a toilsome journey; for his thick black locks were
tangled and his feet were covered with dust and dried clay.  Yet he
excited no suspicion; for his bearing was that of a self-reliant freeman,
his messenger's pass was perfectly correct, and the letter he produced
was really directed to Prince Siptah; a scribe of the corn storehouses,
who was sitting at the nearest fire with other officials and subordinate
officers, examined it.

As the youth's appearance pleased most of those present, and he came from
Tanis and perhaps brought news, a seat at the fire and a share in the
meal were offered; but he was in haste.

Declining the invitation with thanks, he answered the questions curtly
and hurriedly and begged the resting soldiers for a guide.  One was
placed at his disposal without delay.  But he was soon to learn that it
would not be an easy matter to reach a member of the royal family; for
the tents of Pharaoh, his relatives, and dignitaries stood in a special
spot in the heart of the camp, hedged in by the shields of the heavily-
armed troops.

When he entered he was challenged again and again, and his messenger's
pass and the prince's letter were frequently inspected.  The guide, too,
was sent back, and his place was filled by an aristocratic lord, called I
the 'eye and ear of the king,' who busied himself with the seal of the
letter.  But the messenger resolutely demanded it, and as soon as it was
again in his hand, and two tents standing side by side rocking in the
tempest had been pointed out to him, one as Prince Siptah's, the other as
the shelter of Masana, the daughter of Hornecht, for whom he asked, he
turned to the chamberlain who came out of the former one, showed him the
letter, and asked to be taken to the prince; but the former offered to
deliver the letter to his master--whose steward he was--and Ephraim--for
he was the messenger--agreed, if he would obtain him immediate admission
to the young widow.

The steward seemed to lay much stress upon getting possession of the
letter and, after scanning Ephraim from top to toe, he asked if Kasana
knew him, and when the other assented, adding that he brought her a
verbal message, the Egyptian said smiling:

"Well then; but we must protect our carpets from such feet, and you seem
weary and in need of refreshment.  Follow me."

With these words he took him to a small tent, before which an old slave
and one scarcely beyond childhood were sitting by the fire, finishing
their late meal with a bunch of garlic.

They started up as they saw their master; but he ordered the old man to
wash the messenger's feet, and bade the younger ask the prince's cook in
his name for meat, bread, and wine.  Then he led Ephraim to his tent,
which was lighted by a lantern, and asked how he, who from his appearance
was neither a slave nor a person of mean degree, had come into such a
pitiable plight.  The messenger replied that on his way he had bandaged
the wounds of a severely injured man with the upper part of his apron,
and the chamberlain instantly went to his baggage and gave him a piece of
finely plaited linen.

Ephraim's reply, which was really very near the truth, had cost him so
little thought and sounded so sincere, that it won credence, and the
steward's kindness seemed to him so worthy of gratitude that he made no
objection when the courtier, without injuring the seal, pressed the roll
of papyrus with a skilful hand, separating the layers and peering into
the openings to decipher the contents.  While thus engaged, the corpulent
courtier's round eyes sparkled brightly and it seemed to the youth as if
the countenance of the man, whose comfortable plumpness and smooth
rotundity at first appeared like a mirror of the utmost kindness of
heart, now had the semblance of a cat's.

As soon as the steward had completed his task, he begged the youth to
refresh himself in all comfort, and did not return until Ephraim had
bathed, wrapped a fresh linen upper-garment around his hips, perfumed and
anointed his hair, and, glancing into the mirror, was in the act of
slipping a broad gold circlet upon his arm.

He had hesitated some time ere doing this; for he was aware that he would
encounter great perils; but this circlet was his one costly possession
and, during his captivity, it had been very difficult for him to hide it
under his apron.  It might be of much service to him but, if he put it
on, it would attract attention and increase the danger of being
recognized.

Yet the reflection he beheld in the mirror, vanity, and the desire
to appear well in Kasana's eyes, conquered caution and prudent
consideration, and the broad costly ornament soon glittered on his arm.

The steward stood in astonishment before the handsome, aristocratic
youth, so haughty in his bearing, who had taken the place of the
unassuming messenger.  The question whether he was a relative of Kasana
sprang to his lips, and receiving an answer in the negative, he asked to
what family he belonged.

Ephraim bent his eyes on the ground for some time in embarrassment, and
then requested the Egyptian to spare him an answer until he had talked
with Hornecht's daughter.

The other, shaking his head, looked at him again, but pressed him no
farther; for what he had read in the letter was a secret which might
bring death to whoever was privy to it, and the aristocratic young
messenger was doubtless the son of a dignitary who belonged to the circle
of the fellow-conspirators of Prince Siptah, his master.

A chill ran through the courtier's strong, corpulent body, and he gazed
with mingled sympathy and dread at the blooming human flower associated
thus early in plans fraught with danger.

His master had hitherto only hinted at the secret, and it would still be
possible for him to keep his own fate separate from his.  Should he do
so, an old age free from care lay before him; but, if he joined the
prince and his plan succeeded, how high he might rise!  Terribly
momentous was the choice confronting him, the father of many children,
and beads of perspiration stood on his brow as, incapable of any coherent
thought, he led Ephraim to Kasana's tent, and then hastened to his
master.

Silence reigned within the light structure, which was composed of poles
and gay heavy stuffs, tenanted by the beautiful widow.

With a throbbing heart Ephraim approached the entrance, and when he at
last summoned courage and drew aside the curtain fastened firmly to the
earth, which the wind puffed out like a sail, he beheld a dark room, from
which a similar one opened on the right and left.  The one on the left
was as dark as the central one; but a flickering light stole through
numerous chinks of the one on the right.  The tent was one of those with
a flat roof, divided into three apartments, which he had often seen, and
the woman who irresistibly attracted him was doubtless in the lighted
one.

To avoid exposing himself to fresh suspicion, he must conquer his timid
delay, and he had already stooped and loosed the loop which fastened the
curtain to the hook in the floor, when the door of the lighted room
opened and a woman's figure entered the dark central chamber.

Was it she?

Should he venture to speak to her?  Yes, it must be done.

Panting for breath and clenching his hands, he summoned up his courage as
if he were about to steal unbidden into the most sacred sanctuary of a
temple.  Then he pushed the curtain aside, and the woman whom he had just
noticed greeted him with a low cry.

But he speedily regained his composure, for a ray of light had fallen on
her face, revealing that the person who stood before him was not Kasana,
but her nurse, who had accompanied her to the prisoners and then to the
camp.  She, too, recognized him and stared at him as though he had risen
from the grave.

They were old acquaintances; for when he was first brought to the
archer's house she had prepared his bath and moistened his wound with
balsam, and during his second stay beneath the same roof, she had joined
her mistress in nursing him.  They had chatted away many an hour
together, and he knew that she was kindly disposed toward him; for when
midway between waking and sleeping, in his burning fever, her hand had
stroked him with maternal tenderness, and afterwards she had never
wearied of questioning him about his people and at last had acknowledged
that she was descended from the Syrians, who were allied to the Hebrews.
Nay, even his language was not wholly strange to her; for she had been a
woman of twenty when dragged to Egypt with other prisoners of Rameses the
Great.  Ephraim, she was fond of saying, reminded her of her own son when
he was still younger.

The youth had no ill to fear from her, so grasping her hand, he whispered
that he had escaped from his guards and come to ask counsel from her
mistress and herself.

The word "escaped" was sufficient to satisfy the old woman; for her idea
of ghosts was that they put others to flight, but did not fly themselves.
Relieved, she stroked the youth's curls and, ere his whispered
explanation was ended, turned her back upon him and hurried into the
lighted room to tell her mistress whom she had found outside.

A few minutes after Ephraim was standing before the woman who had become
the guiding star of his life.  With glowing cheeks he gazed into the
beautiful face, still flushed by weeping, and though it gave his heart a
pang when, before vouchsafing him a greeting, she enquired whether Hosea
had accompanied him, he forgot the foolish pain when he saw her gaze
warmly at him.  Yet when the nurse asked whether she did not think he
looked well and vigorous, and withal more manly in appearance, it seemed
as though he had really grown taller, and his heart beat faster and
faster.

Kasana desired to learn the minutest details of his uncle's experiences;
but after he had done her bidding and finally yielded to the wish to
speak of his own fate, she interrupted him to consult the nurse
concerning the means of saving him from unbidden looks and fresh
dangers--and the right expedient was soon found.

First, with Ephraim's help, the old woman closed the main entrance of the
tent as firmly as possible, and then pointed to the dark room into which
he must speedily and softly retire as soon as she beckoned to him.

Meanwhile Kasana had poured some wine into a goblet, and when he came
back with the nurse she made him sit down on the giraffe skin at her feet
and asked how he had succeeded in evading the guards, and what he
expected from the future.  She would tell him in advance that her father
had remained in Tanis, so he need not fear recognition and betrayal.

Her pleasure in this meeting was evident to both eyes and ears; nay,
when Ephraim commenced his story by saying that Prince Siptah's command
to remove the prisoners' chains, for which they were indebted solely to
her, had rendered his escape possible, she clapped her hands like a
child.  Then her face clouded and, with a deep sigh, she added that ere
his arrival her heart had almost broken with grief and tears; but Hosea
should learn what a woman would sacrifice for the most ardent desire of
her heart.

She repaid with grateful words Ephraim's assurance that, before his
flight, he had offered to release his uncle from his bonds and, when she
learned that Joshua had refused to accept his nephew's aid, lest it might
endanger the success of the plan he had cleverly devised for him, she
cried out to her nurse, with tearful eyes, that Hosea alone would have
been capable of such a deed.

To the remainder of the fugitive's tale she listened intently, often
interrupting him with sympathizing questions.

The torturing days and nights of the past, which had reached such a happy
termination, seemed now like a blissful dream, a bewildering fairy-tale,
and the goblet she constantly replenished was not needed to lend fire to
his narrative.

Never before had he been so eloquent as while describing how, in the
ravine, he had stepped on some loose stones and rolled head foremost down
into the chasm with them.  On reaching the bottom he had believed that
all was lost; for soon after extricating himself from the rubbish that
had buried him, in order to hurry to the pool, he had heard the whistle
of the guards.

Yet he had been a good runner from his childhood, had learned in his
native pastures to guide himself by the light of the stars, so without
glancing to the right or to the left, he had hastened southward as fast
as his feet would carry him.  Often in the darkness he had fallen over
stones or tripped in the hollows of the desert sand, but only to rise
again quickly and dash onward, onward toward the south, where he knew he
should find her, Kasana, her for whose sake he recklessly flung to the
winds what wiser-heads had counselled, her for whom he was ready to
sacrifice liberty and life.

Whence he derived the courage to confess this, he knew not, and neither
the blow from her fan, nor the warning exclamation of the nurse: "Just
look at the boy!" sobered him.  Nay, his sparkling eyes sought hers still
mote frequently as he continued his story.

One of the hounds which attacked him he had flung against a rock, and the
other he pelted with stones till it fled howling into a thicket.  He had
seen no other pursuers, either that night, or during the whole of the
next day.  At last he again reached a travelled road and found country
people who told him which way Pharaoh's army had marched.  At noon,
overwhelmed by fatigue, he had fallen asleep under the shade of a
sycamore, and when he awoke the sun was near its setting.  He was very
hungry, so he took a few turnips from a neighboring field.  But their
owner suddenly sprang from a ditch near by, and he barely escaped his
pursuit.

He had wandered along during a part of the night, and then rested beside
a well on the roadside, for he knew that wild beasts shun such frequented
places.

After sunrise he continued his march, following the road taken by the
army.  Everywhere he found traces of it, and when, shortly before noon,
exhausted and faint from hunger, he reached a village in the cornlands
watered by the Seti-canal, he debated whether to sell his gold armlet,
obtain more strengthening food, and receive some silver and copper in
change.  But he was afraid of being taken for a thief and again
imprisoned, for his apron had been tattered by the thorns, and his
sandals had long since dropped from his feet.  He had believed that even
the hardest hearts could not fail to pity his misery so, hard as it was
for him, he had knocked at a peasant's door and begged.  But the man gave
him nothing save the jeering counsel that a strong young fellow like him
ought to use his arms and leave begging to the old and weak.  A second
peasant had even threatened to beat him; but as he walked on with
drooping bead, a young woman whom he had noticed in front of the
barbarian's house followed him, thrust some bread and dates into his
hand, and whispered hastily that heavy taxes had been levied on the
village when Pharaoh marched through, or she would have given him
something better.

This unexpected donation, which he had eaten at the next well, had not
tasted exactly like a festal banquet, but he did not tell Kasana that it
had been embittered by the doubt whether to fulfil Joshua's commission
and return to his people or yield to the longing that drew him to her.

He moved forward irresolutely, but fate seemed to have undertaken to
point out his way; for after walking a short half hour, the latter
portion of the time through barren land, he had found by the wayside a
youth of about his own age who, moaning with pain, held his foot clasped
between both hands.  Pity led him to go to him and, to his astonishment,
he recognized the runner and messenger of Kasana's father, with whom he
had often talked.

"Apu, our nimble Nubian runner?"  cried the young widow, and Ephraim
assented and then added that the messenger had been despatched to convey
a letter to Prince Siptah as quickly as possible, and the swift-footed
lad, who was wont to outstrip his master's noble steeds, had shot over
the road like an arrow and would have reached his destination in two
hours more, had he not stepped on the sharp edge of a bottle that had
been shattered by a wagon-wheel--and made a deep and terrible wound.

"And you helped him?"  asked Kasana.

"How could I do otherwise?"  replied Ephraim.  "He had already lost a
great deal of blood and was pale as death.  So I carried him to the
nearest ditch, washed the gaping wound, and anointed it with his balsam."

"I put the little box in his pouch myself a year ago," said the nurse who
was easily moved, wiping her eyes.  Ephraim confirmed the statement, for
Apu had gratefully told him of it.  Then he went on.

"I tore my upper garment into strips and bandaged the wound as well as I
could.  Meanwhile he constantly urged haste, held out the pass and letter
his master had given him and, knowing nothing of the misfortune which had
befallen me, charged me to deliver the roll to the prince in his place.
Oh, how willingly I undertook the task and, soon after the second hour
had passed, I reached the camp.  The letter is in the prince's hands, and
here am I--and I can see that you are glad!  But no one was ever so happy
as I to sit here at your feet, and look up to you, so grateful as I am
that you have listened to me so kindly, and if they load me with chains
again I will bear it calmly, if you will but care for me.  Ah, my
misfortune has been so great!  I have neither father nor mother, no one
who loves me.  You, you alone are dear, and you will not repulse me, will
you?"

He had fairly shouted the last words, as if beside himself, and carried
away by the might of passion and rendered incapable by the terrible
experiences of the past few hours of controlling the emotions that
assailed him, the youth, still scarcely beyond childhood, who saw himself
torn away from and bereft of all that had usually sustained and supported
him, sobbed aloud, and like a frightened birdling seeking protection
under its mother's wings, hid his head, amid floods of tears, in Kasana's
lap.

Warm compassion seized upon the tender-hearted young widow, and her own
eyes grew dim.  She laid her hands kindly upon his head, and feeling the
tremor that shook the frame of the weeping lad, she raised his head with
both hands, kissed his brow and cheeks, looked smilingly into his eyes
with tears in her own, and exclaimed:

"You poor, foolish fellow!  Why should  I not care for you, why should I
repel you?  Your uncle is the most beloved of men to me, and you are like
his son.  For your sakes I have already accepted what I should otherwise
have thrust far, far from me!  But now I must go on, and must not care
what others may think or say of me, if only I can accomplish the one
thing for which I am risking person, life, all that I once prized!  Wait,
you poor, impulsive fellow!"--and here she again kissed him on the
cheeks--"I shall succeed in smoothing the path for you also.  That is
enough now!"

This command sounded graver, and was intended to curb the increasing
impetuosity of the ardent youth.  But she suddenly started up, exclaiming
with anxious haste: "Go, go, at once!"

The footsteps of men approaching the tent, and a warning word from the
nurse had brought this stern order to the young widow's lips, and
Ephraim's quick ear made him understand her anxiety and urged him to join
the old nurse in the dark room.  There he perceived that a few moments'
delay would have betrayed him; for the curtain of the tent was drawn
aside and a man passed through the central space straight to the lighted
apartment, where Kasana--the youth heard it distinctly--welcomed the new
guest only too cordially, as though his late arrival surprised her.

Meanwhile the nurse had seized her own cloak, flung it over the
fugitive's bare shoulders, and whispered:

"Be near the tent just before sunrise, but do not enter it until I call
you, if you value your life.  You have neither mother nor father, and my
child Kasana ah, what a dear, loving heart she has!--she is the best
of all good women; but whether she is fit to be the guide of an
inexperienced young blusterer, whose heart is blazing like dry straw with
love for her, is another question.  I considered many things, while
listening to your story, and on account of my liking for you I will tell
you this.  You have an uncle who--my child is right there--is the best of
men, and I know mankind.  Whatever he advised, do; for it will surely
benefit you.  Obey him!  If his bidding leads you far away from here and
Kasana, so much the better for you.  We are walking in dangerous paths,
and had it not been done for Hosea's sake, I would have tried to hold her
back with all my might.  But for him--I am an old woman; but I would go
through fire myself for that man.  I am more grieved than I can tell,
both for the pure, sweet child and for yourself, whom my own son was once
so much like, so I repeat: Obey your uncle, boy!  Do that, or you will go
to ruin, and that would be a pity!"

With these words, without waiting for an answer, she drew the curtain of
the tent aside, and waited until Ephraim had slipped through.  Then,
wiping her eyes, she entered, as if by chance, the lighted chamber;
but Kasana and her late guest had matters to discuss that brooked no
witnesses, and her "dear child" only permitted her to light her little
lamp at the three-armed candelabra, and then sent her to rest.

She promptly obeyed and, in the dark room, where her couch stood beside
that of her mistress, she sank down, hid her face in her hands, and wept.

She felt as though the world was upside down.  She no longer understood
her darling Kasana; for she was sacrificing purity and honor for the sake
of a man whom--she knew it--her soul abhorred.



CHAPTER XXI.

Ephriam cowered in the shadow of the tent, from which he had slipped,
and pressed his ear close to the wall.  He had cautiously ripped a small
opening in a seam of the cloth, so he could see and hear what was passing
in the lighted room of the woman he loved.  The storm kept every one
within the tents whom duty did not summon into the open air, and Ephraim
had less reason to fear discovery on account of the deep shadow that
rested on the spot where he lay.  The nurse's cloak covered him and,
though shiver after shiver shook his young limbs, it was due to the
bitter anguish that pierced his soul.

The man on whose breast he saw Kasana lay her head was a prince, a person
of high rank and great power, and the capricious beauty did not always
repel the bold man, when his lips sought those for whose kiss Ephraim so
ardently longed.

She owed him nothing, it is true, yet her heart belonged to his uncle,
whom she had preferred to all others.  She had declared herself ready to
endure the most terrible things for his liberation; and now his own eyes
told him that she was false and faithless, that she granted to another
what belonged to one alone.  She had bestowed caresses on him, too, but
these were only the crumbs that fell from Hosea's table, a robbery--he
confessed it with a blush--he had perpetrated on his uncle, yet he felt
offended, insulted, deceived, and consumed to his inmost soul with fierce
jealousy on behalf of his uncle, whom he honored, nay, loved, though he
had opposed his wishes.

And Hosea?  Why, he too, like himself, this princely suitor, and all
other men, must love her, spite of his strange conduct at the well by the
roadside--it was impossible for him to do otherwise--and now, safe from
the poor prisoner's resentment, she was basely, treacherously enjoying
another's tender caresses.

Siptah, he had heard at their last meeting, was his uncle's foe, and it
was to him that she betrayed the man she loved!

The chink in the tent was ready to show him everything that occurred
within, but he often closed his eyes that he might not behold it.  Often,
it is true, the hateful scene held him in thrall by a mysterious spell
and he would fain have torn the walls of the tent asunder, struck the
detested Egyptian to the ground, and shouted into the faithless woman's
face the name of Hosea, coupled with the harshest reproaches.

The fervent passion which had taken possession of him was suddenly
transformed to hate and scorn.  He had believed himself to be the
happiest of mortals, and he had suddenly become the most miserable; no
one, he believed, had ever experienced such a fall from the loftiest
heights to the lowest depths.

The nurse had been right.  Naught save misery and despair could come to
him from so faithless a woman.

Once he started up to fly, but he again heard the bewitching tones of her
musical laugh, and mysterious powers detained him, forcing him to listen.

At first the seething blood had throbbed so violently in his ears that he
felt unable to follow the dialogue in the lighted tent.  But, by degrees,
he grasped the purport of whole sentences, and now he understood all that
they said, not a word of their further conversation escaped him, and it
was absorbing enough, though it revealed a gulf from which he shrank
shuddering.

Kasana refused the bold suitor many favors for which he pleaded, but this
only impelled him to beseech her more fervently to give herself to him,
and the prize he offered in return was the highest gift of earth, the
place by his side as queen on the throne of Egypt, to which he aspired.
He said this distinctly, but what followed was harder to understand; for
the passionate suitor was in great haste and often interrupted his hasty
sentences to assure Kasana, to whose hands in this hour he was committing
his life and liberty, of his changeless love, or to soothe her when the
boldness of his advances awakened fear and aversion.  But he soon began
to speak of the letter whose bearer Ephraim had been and, after reading
it aloud and explaining it, the youth realized with a slight shudder that
he had become an accomplice in the most criminal of all plots, and for a
moment the longing stole over him to betray the traitors and deliver them
into the hand of the mighty sovereign whose destruction they were
plotting.  But he repelled the thought and merely sunned himself in the
pleasurable consciousness--the first during this cruel hour-of holding
Kasana and her royal lover in his hand as one holds a beetle by a string.
This had a favorable effect on him and restored the confidence and
courage he had lost.  The baser the things he continued to hear, the more
clearly he learned to appreciate the value of the goodness and truth
which he had lost.  His uncle's words, too, came back to his memory.

"Give no man, from the loftiest to the lowliest, a right to regard you
save with respect, and you can hold your head as high as the proudest
warrior who ever wore purple robe and golden armor."

On the couch in Kasana's house, while shaking with fever, he had
constantly repeated this sentence; but in the misery of captivity, and on
his flight it had again vanished from his memory.  In the courtier's tent
when, after he had bathed and perfumed himself, the old slave held a
mirror before him, he had given it a passing thought; but now it mastered
his whole soul.  And strange to say, the worthless traitor within wore a
purple coat and golden mail, and looked like a military hero, but he
could not hold his head erect, for the work he sought to accomplish could
only succeed in the sccresy that shuns the light, and was like the labor
of the hideous mole which undermines the ground in the darkness.

His tool was the repulsive cloven-footed trio, falsehood, fraud, and
faithlessness, and she whom he had chosen for his help-mate was the
woman--it shamed him to his inmost soul-for whom he had been in the act
of sacrificing all that was honorable, precious, and dear to him.

The worst infamies which he had been taught to shun were the rounds of
the ladder on which this evil man intended to mount.

The roll the youth had brought to the camp contained two letters.  The
first was from the conspirators in Tanis, the second from Siptah's
mother.

The former desired his speedy return and told him that the Syrian Aarsu,
the commander of the foreign mercenaries, who guarded the palace, as well
as the women's house, was ready to do him homage.  If the high-priest of
Amon, who was at once chief-judge, viceroy and keeper of the seal,
proclaimed him king, he was sovereign and could enter the palace which
stood open to him and ascend the throne without resistance.  If Pharaoh
returned, the body-guards would take him prisoner and remove him as
Siptah, who liked no halfway measures, had secretly directed, while the
chief-priest insisted upon keeping him in mild imprisonment.

Nothing was to be feared save the premature return from Thebes of Seti,
the second son of Menephtah; for the former, after his older brother's
death, had become heir to the throne, and carrier doves had brought news
yesterday that he was now on his way.  Therefore Siptah and the powerful
priest who was to proclaim him king were urged to the utmost haste.

The necessary measures had been adopted in case of possible resistance
from the army; for as soon as the Hebrews had been destroyed, the larger
portion of the troops, without any suspicion of the impending
dethronement of their commander-in-chief, would be sent to their former
stations.  The body-guards were devoted to Siptah, and the others who
entered the capital, should worst come to worst, could be easily
overpowered by Aarsu and his mercenaries.

"There is nothing farther for me to do," said the prince, "stretching
himself comfortably, like a man who has successfully accomplished a
toilsome task," except to rush back to Tanis in a few hours with Bai,
have myself crowned and proclaimed king in the temple of Amon, and
finally received in the palace as Pharaoh.  The rest will take care of
itself.  Seti, whom they call the heir to the throne, is just such
another weakling as his father, and must submit to a fixed fact, or if
necessary, be forced to do so.  The captain of the body-guards will see
that Menephtah does not again enter the palace in the city of Rameses.

The second letter which was addressed to the Pharaoh, had been written by
the mother of the prince in order to recall her son and the chief-priest
Bai to the capital as quickly as possible, without exposing the former to
the reproach of cowardice for having quitted the army so shortly before
the battle.  Though she had never been better, she protested with
hypocritical complaints and entreaties, that the hours of her life were
numbered, and besought the king to send her son and the chief-priest Bai
to her without delay, that she might be permitted to bless her only child
before her death.

She was conscious of many a sin, and no one, save the high-priest,
possessed the power of winning the favor of the gods for her, a dying
woman.  Without his intercession she would perish in despair.

This letter, too, the base robber of a crown read aloud, called it a
clever bit of feminine strategy, and rubbed his hands gleefully.

Treason, murder, hypocrisy, fraud, shameful abuse of the most sacred
feelings, nay all that was evil must serve Siptah to steal the throne,
and though Kasana had wrung her hands and shed tears when she heard
that he meant to remove Pharaoh from his path, she grew calmer after
the prince had represented that her own father had approved of his
arrangements for the deliverance of Egypt from the hand of the king, her
destroyer.

The letter from the prince's mother to Pharaoh, the mother who urged her
own son to the most atrocious crimes, was the last thing Ephraim heard;
for it roused in the young Hebrew, who was wont to consider nothing purer
and more sacred than the bonds which united parents and children, such
fierce indignation, that he raised his fist threateningly and, springing
up, opened his lips in muttered invective.

He did not hear that Kasana made the prince swear that, if he attained
the sovereign power, he would grant her first request.  It should cost
him neither money nor lands, and only give her the right to exercise
mercy where her heart demanded it; for things were in store which must
challenge the wrath of the gods and he must leave her to soothe it.

Ephraim could not endure to see or hear more of these abominable things.

For the first time he felt how great a danger he ran of being dragged
into this marsh and becoming a lost, evil man; but never, he thought,
would he have been so corrupt, so worthless, as this prince.  His uncle's
words again returned to his mind, and he now raised his head proudly and
arched his chest as if to assure himself of his own unbroken vigor,
saying meanwhile, with a long breath, that he was of too much worth to
ruin himself for the sake of a wicked woman, even though, like Kasana,
she was the fairest and most bewitching under the sun.

Away, away from the neighborhood of this net, which threatened to
entangle him in murder and every deed of infamy.

Resolved to seek his people, he turned toward the gate of the camp, but
after a few hasty steps paused, and a glance at the sky showed him that
it was the second hour past midnight.  Every surrounding object was
buried in silence save that from the neighboring Dens of the royal
steeds, came the sound of the rattle of a chain, or of the stamp of a
stallion's hoof.

If he risked escaping from the camp now, he could not fail to be seen and
stopped.  Prudence commanded him to curb his impatience and, as he
glanced around, his eyes rested on the chamberlain's tent from which the
old slave had just emerged to look for his master, who was still waiting
in the prince's tent for his lord's return.

The old man had treated Ephraim kindly, and now asked him with good-
natured urgency to come in and rest; for the youth needed sleep.

And Ephraim accepted the well-meant invitation.  He felt for the first
time how weary his feet were, and he had scarcely stretched himself upon
the mat which the old slave--it was his own--spread on the floor of the
tent for him, ere the feeling came over him that his limbs were relaxing;
and yet he had expected to find here time and rest for calm deliberation.

He began, too, to think of the future and his uncle's commission.

That he must join his people without delay was decided.  If they escaped
Pharaoh's army, the others could do what they pleased, his duty was to
summon his shepherds, servants, and the youths of his own age, and with
them hurry to the mines to break Joshua's chains and bring him back to
his old father and the people who needed him.  He already saw himself
with a sling in his girdle and a battle-axe in his hand, rushing on in
advance of the others, when sleep overpowered him and bound the sorely
wearied youth so firmly and sweetly that even dreams remained aloof from
his couch and when morning came the old slave was obliged to shake him to
rouse him.

The camp was already pervaded with bustling life.  Tents were struck,
asses and ox-carts laden, steeds curried and newly-shod, chariots washed,
weapons and harnesses cleaned, breakfast was distributed and eaten.

At intervals the blare of trumpets was heard in one direction, loudly
shouted commands in another, and from the eastern portion of the camp
echoed the chanting of the priests, who devoutly greeted the new-born
sun-god.

A gilded chariot, followed by a similar one, drove up to the costly
purple tent beside Kasana's, which active servants were beginning to take
down.

Prince Siptah and the chief-priest Bai had received Pharaoh's permission
to set off for Tanis, to fulfil the wish of a "dying woman."

Soon after Ephraim took leave of the old slave and bade him give Kasana's
nurse the cloak and tell her that the messenger had followed her advice
and his uncle's.

Then he set off on his walk.

He escaped unchallenged from the Egyptian camp and, as he entered the
wilderness, he heard the shout with which he called his shepherds in the
pastures.  The cry, resounding far over the plain, startled a sparrow-
hawk which was gazing into the distance from a rock and, as the bird
soared upward, the youth fancied that if he stretched out his arms, wings
must unfold strong enough to bear him also through the air.  Never had he
felt so light and active, so strong and free, nay had the priest at this
hour asked him the question whether he would accept the office of a
captain of thousands in the Egyptian army, he would undoubtedly have
answered, as he did before the ruined house of Nun, that his sole desire
was to remain a shepherd and rule his flocks and servants.

He was an orphan, but he had a nation, and where his people were was his
home.

Like a wanderer, who, after a long journey, sees his home in the
distance, he quickened his pace.

He had reached Tanis on the night of the new moon and the round silver
shield which was paling in the morning light was the same which had then
risen before his eyes.  Yet it seemed as though years lay between his
farewell of Miriam and the present hour, and the experiences of a life
had been compressed into these few days.

He had left his tribe a boy; he returned a man; yet, thanks to this one
terrible night, he had remained unchanged, he could look those whom he
loved and reverenced fearlessly in the face.

Nay, more!

He would show the man whom he most esteemed that he, too, Ephraim, could
hold his head high.  He would repay Joshua for what he had done, when he
remained in chains and captivity that he, his nephew, might go forth as
free as a bird.

After hurrying onward an hour, he reached a ruined watch-tower, climbed
to its summit, and saw, at a short distance beyond the mount of Baal-
zephon, which had long towered majestically on the horizon, the
glittering northern point of the Red Sea.

The storm, it is true, had subsided, but he perceived by the surging of
its emerald surface that the sea was by no means calm, and single black
clouds in the sky, elsewhere perfectly clear, seemed to indicate an
approaching tempest.

He gazed around him asking himself what the leader of the people probably
intended, if--as the prince had told Kasana--they had encamped between
Pihahiroth--whose huts and tents rose before him on the narrow gulf the
northwestern arm of the Red Sea thrust into the land--and the mount of
Baal-zephon.

Had Siptah lied in this too?

No.  This time the malicious traitor had departed from his usual custom;
for between the sea and the village, where the wind was blowing slender
columns of smoke asunder, his falcon-eye discovered many light spots
resembling a distant flock of sheep, and among and beside them a singular
movement to and fro upon the sands.

It was the camp of his people.

How short seemed the distance that separated him from them!

Yet the nearer it was, the greater became his anxiety lest the great
multitude, with the women and children, herds and tents, could not escape
the vast army which must overtake them in a few hours.

His heart shrank as he gazed around him; for neither to the east, where a
deeper estuary was surging, nor southward, where the Red Sea tossed its
angry waves, nor even toward the north, whence Pharaoh's army was
marching, was escape possible.  To the west lay the wilderness of Aean,
and if the wanderers escaped in that direction, and were pressed farther,
they would again enter Egyptian soil and the exodus would be utterly
defeated.

So there was nothing left save to risk a battle, and at the thought a
chill ran through the youth's veins; for he knew how badly armed,
untrained, savage, unmanageable, and cowardly were the men of his race,
and had witnessed the march of the powerful, well-equipped Egyptian army,
with its numerous foot-soldiers and superb war-chariots.

To him now, as to his uncle a short time before, his people seemed doomed
to certain destruction, unless succored by the God of his fathers.  In
former years, and just before his departure, Miriam, with sparkling eyes
and enthusiastic words, had praised the power and majesty of this
omnipotent Lord, who preferred his people above all other nations; but
the lofty words of the prophetess had filled his childish heart with a
slight fear of the unapproachable greatness and terrible wrath of this
God.

It had been easier for him to uplift his soul to the sun-god, when his
teacher, a kind and merry-hearted Egyptian priest, led him to the temple
of Pithom.  In later years he had felt no necessity of appealing to any
god; for he lacked nothing, and while other boys obeyed their parents'
commands, the shepherds, who well knew that the flocks they tended
belonged to him, called him their young master, and first in jest, then
in earnest, paid him all the honor due a ruler, which prematurely
increased his self-importance and made him an obstinate fellow.

He whom stalwart, strong men obeyed, was sufficient unto himself, and
felt that others needed him and, as nothing was more difficult for him
than to ask a favor, great or small, from any one, he rebelled against
praying to a God so far off and high above him.

But now, when his heart was oppressed by the terrible destiny that
threatened his people, he was overwhelmed by the feeling that only the
Greatest and Mightiest could deliver them from this terrible, unspeakable
peril, as if no one could withstand this powerful army, save He whose
might could destroy heaven and earth.

What were they that the Most High, whom Miriam and Hosea described as so
pre-eminently great, should care for them?  Yet his people numbered many
thousands, and God had not disdained to make them His, and promise great
things for them in the future.  Now they were on the verge of
destruction, and he, Ephraim, who came from the camp of the enemy, was
perhaps the sole person who saw the full extent of the danger.

Suddenly he was filled with the conviction that it was incumbent upon
him, above all others, to tell the God of his fathers,--who perhaps in
caring for earth and heaven, sun and stars, had forgotten the fate of His
people--of the terrible danger impending, and beseech Him to save them.
He was still standing on the top of the ruined tower, and raised his arms
and face toward heaven.

In the north he saw the black clouds which he had noticed in the blue sky
swiftly massing and rolling hither and thither.  The wind, which had
subsided after sunrise, was increasing in strength and power, and rapidly
becoming a storm.  It swept across the isthmus in gusts, which followed
one another more and more swiftly, driving before them dense clouds of
yellow sand.

He must lift up his voice loudly, that the God to whom he prayed might
hear him in His lofty heaven, so, with all the strength of his young
lungs, he shouted into the storm:

"Adonai, Adonai!  Thou, whom they call Jehovah, mighty God of my fathers,
hear me, Ephraim, a young inexperienced lad, of whom, in his
insignificance, Thou hast probably never thought.  I ask nothing for
myself.  But the people, whom Thou dost call Thine, are in sore peril.
They have left durable houses and good pastures because Thou didst
promise them a better and more beautiful land, and they trusted in Thee
and Thy promises.  But now the army of Pharaoh is approaching, so great a
host that our people will never be able to resist it.  Thou must believe
this, Eli, my Lord.  I have seen it and been in its midst.  So surely as
I stand here, I know that it is too mighty for Thy people.  Pharaoh's
power will crush them as the hoofs of the cattle trample the grain on the
threshing-floor.  And my people, who are also Thine, are encamped in a
spot where Pharaoh's warriors can cut them down from all directions, so
that there is no way for them to fly, not one.  I saw it distinctly from
this very spot.  Hear me now, Adonai.  But canst Thou hear my words, oh
Lord, in such a tempest?  Surely Thou canst; for they call Thee
omnipotent and, if Thou dost hear me and dost understand the meaning of
my words, Thou wilt see with Thy mighty eyes, if such is Thy will, that I
speak the truth.  Then Thou wilt surely remember the vow Thou didst make
to the people through Thy servant Moses.

"Among the Egyptians, I have witnessed treachery and murder and shameful
wiles; their deeds have filled me, who am myself but a sinful,
inexperienced youth, with horror and indignation.  How couldst Thou, from
whom all good is said to proceed, and whom Miriam calls truth itself, act
like those abominable men and break faith with those who trusted in Thee?
I know, Thou great and mighty One, that this is far from Thee, nay,
perhaps it is a sin even to cherish such a thought.  Hear me, Adonai!
Look northward at the troops of the Egyptians, who will surely soon leave
their camp and march forward, and southward to the peril of Thy people,
for whom escape is no longer possible, and Thou wilt rescue them by Thy
omnipotence and great wisdom; for Thou hast promised them a new country,
and if they are destroyed, how can they reach it?"

With these words he finished his prayer, which, though boyish and
incoherent, gushed from the inmost depths of his heart.  Then he sprang
with long leaps from the ruined tower to the barren plain at his feet,
and ran southward as fleetly as if he were escaping from captivity a
second time.  He felt how the wind rushing from the north-east urged him
forward, and told himself that it would also hasten the march of
Pharaoh's soldiers.  Perhaps the leaders of his people did not yet know
how vast was the military power that threatened them, and undervalued the
danger in which their position placed them.  But he saw it, and could
give them every information.  Haste was necessary, and he felt as though
he had gained wings in this race with the storm.

The village of Pihahiroth was soon gained, and while dashing by it
without pausing, he noticed that its huts and tents were deserted by men
and cattle.  Perhaps its inhabitants had fled with their property to a
place of safety before the advancing Egyptian troops or the hosts of his
own people.

The farther he went, the more cloudy became the sky,--which here so
rarely failed to show a sunny vault of blue at noonday,--the more
fiercely howled the tempest.  His thick locks fluttered wildly around his
burning head, he panted for breath, yet flew on, on, while his sandals
seemed to him to scarcely touch the ground.

The nearer he came to the sea, the louder grew the howling and whistling
of the storm, the more furious the roar of the waves dashing against the
rocks of Baal-zephon.  Now--a short hour after he had left the tower--he
reached the first tents of the camp, and the familiar cry: "Unclean!"  as
well as the mourning-robes of those whose scaly, disfigured faces looked
forth from the ruins of the tents which the storm had overthrown,
informed him that he had reached the lepers, whom Moses had commanded to
remain outside the camp.

Yet so great was his haste that, instead of making a circuit around their
quarter, he dashed straight through it at his utmost speed.  Nor did he
pause even when a lofty palm, uprooted by the tempest, fell to the ground
so close beside him that the fan-shaped leaves in its crown brushed his
face.

At last he gained the tents and pinfolds of his people, not a few of
which had also been overthrown, and asked the first acquaintances he met
for Nun, the father of his dead mother and of Joshua.

He had gone down to the shore with Moses and other elders of the people.
Ephraim followed him there, and the damp, salt sea-air refreshed him and
cooled his brow.

Yet he could not instantly get speech with him, so he collected his
thoughts, and recovered his breath, while watching the men whom he sought
talking eagerly with some gaily-clad Phoenician sailors.  A youth like
Ephraim might not venture to interrupt the grey-haired heads of the
people in the discussion, which evidently referred to the sea; for the
Hebrews constantly pointed to the end of the bay, and the Phoenicians
sometimes thither, sometimes to the mountain and the sky, sometimes to
the north, the center of the still increasing tempest.

A projecting wall sheltered the old men from the hurricane, yet they
found it difficult to stand erect, even while supported by their staves
and clinging to the stones of the masonry.

At last the conversation ended and while the youth saw the gigantic
figure of Moses go with slow, yet firm steps among the leaders of the
Hebrews down to the shore of the sea, Nun, supported by one of his
shepherds, was working his way with difficulty, but as rapidly as
possible toward the camp.  He wore a mourning-robe, and while the others
looked joyous and hopeful when they parted, his handsome face, framed by
its snow-white beard and hair, had the expression of one whose mind and
body were burdened by grief.

Not until Ephraim called him did he raise his drooping leonine head, and
when he saw him he started back in surprise and terror, and clung more
firmly to the strong arm of the shepherd who supported him.

Tidings of the cruel fate of his son and grandson had reached him through
the freed slaves he had left in Tanis; and the old man had torn his
garments, strewed ashes on his head, donned mourning robes, and grieved
bitterly for his beloved, noble, only son and promising grandson.

Now Ephraim was standing before him; and after Nun had laid his hand on
his shoulders, and kissed him again and again, he asked if his son was
still alive and remembered him and his people.

As soon as the youth had joyfully assured him that such was the case, Nun
threw his arms around the boy's shoulders, that henceforth his own blood,
instead of a stranger, should protect him from the violence of the storm.

He had grave and urgent duties to fulfil, from which nothing might
withhold him.  Yet as the fiery youth shouted into his ear, through the
roar of the hurricane, on their way through the camp, that he would
summon his shepherds and the companions of his own age to release Hosea,
who now called himself Joshua, old Nun's impetuous spirit awoke and,
clasping Ephraim closer to his heart, he cried out that though an old man
he was not yet too aged to swing an axe and go with Ephraim's youthful
band to liberate his son.  His eyes sparkled through his tears, and
waving his free arm aloft, he cried:

"The God of my fathers, on whom I learned to rely, watches over His
faithful people.  Do you see the sand, sea-weed, and shells yonder at the
end of the estuary?  An hour ago the place was covered with water, and
roaring waves were dashing their white spray upward.  That is the way,
boy, which promises escape; if the wind holds, the water--so the
experienced Phoenicians assure us--will recede still farther toward the
sea.  Their god of the north wind, they say, is favorable to us, and
their boys are already lighting a fire to him on the summit of Baal-
zephon yonder, but we know that it is Another, Who is opening to us a
path to the desert.  We were in evil case, my boy!"

"Yes, grandfather!"  cried the youth.  "You were trapped like lions in
the snare, and the Egyptian host--it passed me from the first man to the
last--is mighty and unconquerable.  I hurried as fast as my feet could
carry me to tell you how many heavily-armed troops, bowmen, steeds, and
chariots...."

"We know, we know," the old man interrupted, "but here we are."

He pointed to an overturned tent which his servants were trying to prop,
and beside which an aged Hebrew, his father Elishama, wrapped in cloth,
sat in the chair in which he was carried by bearers.

Nun hastily shouted a few words and led Ephraim toward him.  But while
the youth was embracing his great-grandfather, who hugged and caressed
him, Nun, with youthful vivacity, was issuing orders to the shepherds and
servants:

"Let the tent fall, men!  The storm has begun the work for you!  Wrap the
covering round the poles, load the carts and beasts of burden.  Move
briskly, You, Gaddi, Shamma, and Jacob, join the others!  The hour for
departure has come!  Everybody must hasten to harness the animals, put
them in the wagons, and prepare all things as fast as possible.  The
Almighty shows us the way, and every one must hasten, in His name and by
the command of Moses.  Keep strictly to the old order.  We head the
procession, then come the other tribes, lastly the strangers and leprous
men and women.  Rejoice, oh, ye people; for our God is working a great
miracle and making the sea dry land for us, His chosen people.  Let
everyone thank Him while working, and pray from the depths of the heart
that He will continue to protect us.  Let all who do not desire to be
slain by the sword and crushed by the weight of Pharaoh's chariots put
forth their best strength and forget rest!  That will await us as soon as
we have escaped the present peril.  Down with the tent-cover yonder; I'll
roll it up myself.  Lay hold, boy!  Look across at the children of
Manasseh, they are already packing and loading.  That's right, Ephraim,
you know how to use your hands!

"What more have we to do!  My head, my forgetful old head!  So much has
come upon me at once!  You have nimble feet, Raphu;--I undertook to warn
the strangers to prepare for a speedy departure.  Run quickly and hurry
them, that they may not linger too far behind the people.  Time is
precious!  Lord, Lord, my God, extend Thy protecting hand over Thy
people, and roll the waves still farther back with the tempest, Thy
mighty breath!  Let every one pray silently while working, the
Omnipresent One, Who sees the heart, will hear it.  That load is too
heavy for you, Ephraim, you are lifting beyond your strength.  No.  The
youth has mastered it.  Follow his example, men, and ye of Succoth,
rejoice in your master's strength."

The last words were addressed to Ephraim's shepherds, men and maid
servants, most of whom shouted a greeting to him in the midst of their
work, kissed his arm or hand, and rejoiced at his return.  They were
engaged in packing and wrapping their goods, and in gathering,
harnessing, and loading the animals, which could only be kept together
by blows and shouts.

The people from Succoth wished to vie with their young master, those from
Tanis with their lord's grandson, and the other owners of flocks and
lesser men of the tribe of Ephraim, whose tents surrounded that of their
chief Nun, did the same, in order not to be surpassed by others; yet
several hours elapsed ere all the tents, household utensils, and
provisions for man and beast were again in their places on the animals
and in the carts, and the aged, feeble and sick had been laid on litters
or in wagons.

Sometimes the gale bore from the distance to the spot where the
Ephraimites were busily working the sound of Moses' deep voice or the
higher tones of Aaron.  But neither they nor the men of the tribe of
Judah heeded the monition; for the latter were ruled by Hur and Naashon,
and beside the former stood his newly-wedded wife Miriam.  It was
different with the other tribes and the strangers, to the obstinacy and
cowardice of whose chiefs was due the present critical position of the
people.



CHAPTER XXII.

To break through the center of the Etham line of fortifications and march
toward the north-east along the nearest road leading to Palestine had
proved impossible; but Moses' second plan of leading the people around
the Migdol of the South had also been baffled; for spies had reported
that the garrison of the latter had been greatly strengthened.  Then the
multitude had pressed around the man of God, declaring that they would
rather return home with their families and appeal to Pharaoh's mercy than
to let themselves, their wives, and their families be slaughtered.

Several days had been spent in detaining them; but when other messengers
brought tidings that Pharaoh was approaching with a powerful army the
time seemed to have come when the wanderers, in the utmost peril, might
be forced to break through the forts, and Moses exerted the full might of
his commanding personality, Aaron the whole power of his seductive
eloquence, while old Nun and Hur essayed to kindle the others with their
own bold spirit.

But the terrible news had robbed the majority of the last vestige of self
reliance and trust in God, and they had already resolved to assure
Pharaoh of their repentance when the messengers whom, without their
leader's knowledge, they had sent forth, returned, announcing that the
approaching army had been commanded to spare no Hebrew, and to show by
the sharp edge of the sword, even to those who sued for mercy, how
Pharaoh punished the men by whose shameful sorcery misery and woe had
come upon so many Egyptians.

Then, too late, they became aware that to return would ensure more speedy
destruction than to boldly press forward.  But when the men capable of
bearing arms followed Hur and Nun to the Migdol of the South, they turned
to fly at the defiant blare of the Egyptian war trumpets.  When they came
back to the camp with weary limbs, depressed and disheartened, new and
exaggerated reports of Pharaoh's military force had reached the people,
and now terror and despair had taken possession of the bolder men.  Every
admonition was vain, every threat derided, and the rebellious people had
forced their leaders to go with them till, after a short march, they
reached the Red Sea, whose deep green waves had forced them to pause in
their southward flight.

So they had encamped between Pihahiroth and Baal-zephon, and here the
leaders again succeeded in turning the attention of the despairing people
to the God of their fathers.

In the presence of sure destruction, from which no human power could save
them, they had again learned to raise their eyes to Heaven; but Moses'
soul had once more been thrilled with anxiety and compassion for the
poor, sorely afflicted bands who had followed his summons.  During the
night preceding, he had climbed one of the lower peaks of Baal-zephon
and, amid the raging of the tempest and the roar of the hissing surges,
sought the Lord his God, and felt his presence near him.  He, too, had
not wearied of pleading the need of his people and adjuring him to save
them.

At the same hour Miriam, the wife of Hur, had gone to the sea-shore
where, under a solitary palmtree, she addressed the same petition to her
God, whose trusted servant she still felt herself.  Here she besought Him
to remember the women and children who, trusting in Him, had wandered
forth into distant lands.  She had also knelt to pray for the friend of
her youth, languishing in terrible captivity; but had only cried in low,
timid accents: "Oh, Lord, do not forget the hapless Hosea, whom at Thy
bidding I called Joshua, though he showed himself less obedient to Thy
will than Moses, my brother, and Hur, my husband.  Remember also the
youthful Ephraim, the grandson of Nun, Thy faithful servant."

Then she returned to the tent of the chief, her husband, while many a
lowly man and poor anxious woman, before their rude tents or on their
thin, tear-drenched mats, uplifted their terrified souls to the God of
their fathers and besought His care for those who were dearest to their
hearts.

So, in this night of utmost need, the camp had become a temple in which
high and low, the heads of families and the housewives, masters and
slaves, nay, even the afflicted lepers sought and found their God.

At last the morning came on which Ephraim had shouted his childish prayer
amid the roaring of the storm, and the waters of the sea had begun to
recede.

When the Hebrews beheld with their own eyes the miracle that the Most
High was working for His chosen people, even the discouraged and
despairing became believing and hopeful.

Not only the Ephraimites, but the other tribes, the foreigners, and
lepers felt the influence of the newly-awakened joyous confidence, which
urged each individual to put forth all his powers to prepare for the
journey and, for the first time, the multitude gathered and formed into
ranks without strife, bickering, deeds of violence, curses, and tears.

After sunset Moses, holding his staff uplifted, and Aaron, singing and
praying, entered at the head of the procession the end of the bay.

The storm, which continued to rage with the same violence, had swept the
water out of it and blew the flame and smoke of the torches carried by
the tribes toward the south-west.

The chief leaders, on whom all eyes rested with trusting eagerness, were
followed by old Nun and the Ephraimites.  The bottom of the sea on which
they trod was firm, moist sand, on which even the herds could walk as if
it were a smooth road, sloping gently toward the sea.

Ephraim, in whom the elders now saw the future chief, had been entrusted,
at his grandfather's suggestion, with the duty of seeing that the
procession did not stop and, for this purpose, had been given a leader's
staff; for the fishermen whose huts stood at the foot of Baal-zephon,
like the Phoenicians, believed that when the moon reached her zenith the
sea would return to its old bed, and therefore all delay was to be
avoided.

The youth enjoyed the storm, and when his locks fluttered and he battled
victoriously against the gale in rushing hither and thither, as his
office required, it seemed to him a foretaste of the venture he had in
view.

So the procession moved on through the darkness which had speedily
followed the dusk of evening.  The acrid odor of the sea-weed and fishes
which had been left stranded pleased the boy,--who felt that he had
matured into manhood,--better than the sweet fragrance of spikenard in
Kasana's tent.  Once the memory of it flashed through his brain, but with
that exception there was not a moment during these hours which gave him
time to think of her.

He had his hands full of work; sometimes a heap of sea-weed flung on the
path by a wave must be removed; sometimes a ram, the leader of a flock,
refused to step on the wet sand and must be dragged forward by the horns,
or cattle and beasts of burden must be driven through a pool of water
from which they shrank.

Often, too, he was obliged to brace his shoulder against a heavily-laden
cart, whose wheels had sunk too deeply into the soft sand; and when, even
during this strange, momentous march, two bands of shepherds began to
dispute about precedence close to the Egyptian shore, he quickly settled
the dispute by making them draw lots to decide which party should go
first.

Two little girls who, crying bitterly, refused to wade through a pool of
water, while their mother was busy with the infant in her arms, he
carried with prompt decision through the shallow puddle, and the cart
with a broken wheel he had moved aside by the light of the torches and
commanded some stalwart bondmen, who were carrying only small bundles, to
load themselves with the sacks and bales, nay, even the fragments of the
vehicle.  He uttered a word of cheer to weeping women and children and,
when the light of a torch fell upon the face of a companion of his own
age, whose aid he hoped to obtain for the release of Joshua, he briefly
told him that there was a bold adventure in prospect which he meant to
dare in concert with him.

The torch-bearers who usually headed the procession this time were
obliged to close its ranks, for the storm raging from the northeast would
have blown the smoke into the people's faces.  They stood on the Egyptian
shore, and already the whole train had passed them except the lepers who,
following the strangers, were the last of the whole multitude.

These "strangers" were a motley crew, comprising Asiatics of Semitic
blood, who had escaped from the bondage or severe punishments which the
Egyptian law imposed, traders who expected to find among the wanderers
purchasers of their wares, or Shasu shepherds, whose return was
prohibited by the officials on the frontier.  Ephraim had much trouble
with them, for they refused to leave the firm land until the lepers had
been forced to keep farther away from them; yet the youth, with the aid
of the elders of the tribe of Benjamin, who preceded them, brought them
also to obedience by threatening them with the prediction of the
Phoenicians and the fishermen that the moon, when it had passed its
zenith, would draw the sea back to its old bed.

Finally he persuaded the leader of the lepers, who had once been an
Egyptian priest, to keep at least half the distance demanded.

Meanwhile the tempest had continued to blow with increased violence, and
its howling and whistling, blended with the roar of the dashing waves and
the menacing thunder of the surf, drowned the elders' shouts of command,
the terrified shrieks of the children, the lowing and bleating of the
trembling herds, and the whining of the dogs.  Ephraim's voice could be
heard only by those nearest and, moreover, many of the torches were
extinguished, while others were kept burning with the utmost difficulty.
Seeking to recover his wind and get a little rest, he walked slowly for a
time over the damp sand behind the last lepers, when he heard some one
call his name and, turning, he saw one of his former playmates, who was
returning from a reconnoitring expedition and who, with the sweat pouring
from his brow and panting breath, shouted into the ear of the youth, in
whose hand he saw the staff of a leader, that Pharaoh's chariots were
approaching at the head of his army.  He had left them at Pihahiroth and,
if they did not stop there to give the other troops time to join them,
they might overtake the fugitives at any moment.  With these words he
darted past the lepers to join the leaders; but Ephraim stopped in the
middle of the road, pressing his hand upon his brow, while a new burden
of care weighed heavily upon his soul.

He knew that the approaching army would crush the men, women, and
children whose touching fear and helplessness he had just beheld, as a
man's foot tramples on an ant-bill, and again every instinct of his being
urged him to pray, while from his oppressed heart the imploring cry rose
through the darkness:

"Eli, Eli, great God most high!  Thou knowest--for I have told Thee, and
Thine all-seeing eye must perceive it, spite of the darkness of this
night--the strait of Thy people, whom Thou hast promised to lead into a
new country.  Remember Thy vow, Jehovah!  Be merciful unto us, Thou great
and mighty one!  Our foe is approaching with resistless power!  Stay him!
Save us!  Protect the poor women and children!  Save us, be merciful to
us!"

During this prayer he had raised his eyes heavenward and saw on the
summit of Baal-zephon the red blaze of a fire.  It had been lighted by
the Phoenicians to make the Baal of the north-wind favorable to the men
of kindred race and hostile to the hated Egyptians.  This was a kindly
deed; but he put his trust in another God and, as his eye glanced over
the vault of heaven and noted the grey and black storm-clouds scurrying,
gathering, parting, and then rushing in new directions, he perceived
between two dispersing masses of clouds the silvery light of the full
moon, which had now attained her zenith.

Fresh anxiety assailed him; for he remembered the prediction of men
skilled in the changes of winds and waves.  If the sea should now return
to its ancient bed, his people would be lost; for there was no escape,
even toward the north, where deep pools of water were standing amid the
mire and cliffs.  Should the waves flow back within the next hour, the
seed of Abraham would be effaced from the earth, as writing inscribed on
wax disappears from the tablet under the pressure of a warm hand.

Yet was not this people thus marked for destruction, the nation which the
Lord had chosen for His own?  Could He deliver it into the hand of those
who were also His own foes?

No, no, a thousand times no!

And the moon, which was to cause this destruction, had but a short time
before been the ally of his flight and favored him.  Only let him keep up
his hope and faith and not lose confidence.

Nothing, nothing was lost as yet.

Come what might, the whole nation need not perish, and his own tribe,
which marched at the head of the procession, certainly would not; for
many must have reached the opposite shore, nay, perhaps more than he
supposed; for the bay was not wide, and even the lepers, the last of the
train, had already advanced some distance across the wet sand.

Ephraim now remained alone behind them all to listen to the approach of
the hostile chariots.  He laid his ear to the ground on the shore of the
bay, and he could trust to the sharpness of his hearing; how often, in
this attitude, he had caught the distant tramp of stray cattle or, while
hunting, the approach of a herd of antelopes or gazelles.

As the last, he was in the greatest danger; but what cared he for that?

How gladly he would have sacrificed his young life to save the others.

Since he had held in his hand the leader's staff, it seemed to him as if
he had assumed the duty of watching over his people, so he listened and
listened till he could hear a slight trembling of the ground and finally
a low rumble.  That was the foe, that must be Pharaoh's chariots, and how
swiftly the proud steeds whirled them forward.

Springing up as if a lash had struck him, he dashed on to urge the others
to hasten.

How oppressively sultry the air had grown, spite of the raging storm
which extinguished so many torches!  The moon was concealed by clouds,
but the flickering fire on the summit of the lofty height of Baal-zephon
blazed brighter and brighter.  The sparks that rose from the midst of the
flames glittered as they swept westward; for the wind now came more from
the east.

Scarcely had he noticed this, when he hurried back to the boys bearing
pans of pitch who closed the procession, to command them in the utmost
haste to fill the copper vessels afresh and see that the smoke rose in
dense, heavy clouds; for, he said to himself, the storm will drive the
smoke into the faces of the stallions who draw the chariots and frighten
or stop them.

No means seemed to him too insignificant, every moment that could be
gained was precious; and as soon as he had convinced himself that the
smoke-clouds were pouring densely from the vessels and making it
difficult to breathe the air of the path over which the people had
passed, he hurried forward, shouting to the elders whom he overtook that
Pharaoh's chariots were close at hand and the march must be hastened.
At once pedestrians, bearers, drivers, and shepherds exerted all their
strength to advance faster; and though the wind, which blew more and more
from the east, impeded their progress, all struggled stoutly against it,
and dread of their approaching pursuers doubled their strength.

The youth seemed to the heads of the tribes, who nodded approval wherever
he appeared, like a shepherd dog guarding and urging the flock; and when
he had slipped through the moving bands and battled his way forward
against the storm, the east wind bore to his ears as if in reward a
strange shout; for the nearer he came to its source, the louder it rang,
and the more surely he perceived that it was a cry of joy and exultation,
the first that had burst from a Hebrew's breast for many a long day.

It refreshed Ephraim like a cool drink after long thirsting, and he could
not refrain from shouting aloud and crying joyously to the others:
"Saved, saved!"  Two tribes had already reached the eastern shore of the
bay and were raising the glad shouts which, with the fires blazing in
huge pans on the shore, kindled the courage of the approaching fugitives
and braced their failing strength.  Ephraim saw by their light the
majestic figure of Moses on a hill by the sea, extending his staff over
the waters, and the spectacle impressed him, like all the other
fugitives, from the highest to the lowest, more deeply than aught else
and strongly increased the courage of his heart.  This man was indeed the
trusted servant of the Most High, and so long as he held his staff
uplifted, the waves seemed spell-bound, and through him God forbade their
return.

He, Ephraim, need no longer appeal to the Omnipotent One--that was the
appointed task of this great and exalted personage; but he must continue
to fulfil his little duty of watching the progress of individuals.

Back against the stream of fugitives to the lepers and torch-bearers he
hastened, shouting to each division, "Saved!  Saved!  They have gained
the goal.  Moses' staff is staying the waves.  Many have already reached
the shore.  Thank the Lord!  Forward, that you, too, may join in the
rejoicing!  Fix your eyes on the two red beacons!  The rescued ones
lighted them!  The servant of the Lord is standing between them with
uplifted staff."

Then, kneeling on the wet sand, he again pressed his ear to the ground,
and now heard distinctly, close at hand, the rattle of wheels and the
swift beat of horses' hoofs.

But while still listening, the noise gradually ceased, and he heard
nothing save the howling of the furious storm and the threatening dash of
the surging waves, or a single cry borne by the east wind.

The chariots had reached the dry portion of the bay and lingered some
time ere they continued their way along this dangerous path; but suddenly
the Egyptian war-cry rang out, and the rattle of wheels was again heard.
They advanced more slowly than before but faster than the people could
walk.

For the Egyptians also the road remained dry; but if his people only kept
a short distance in advance he need feel no anxiety; during the night the
rescued tribes could disperse among the mountains and hide in places
where no chariots nor horses could follow.  Moses knew this region where
he had lived so long as a fugitive; it was only necessary to inform him
of the close vicinity of the foe.  So he trusted one of his play-fellows
of the tribe of Benjamin with the message, and the latter had not far to
go to reach the shore.  He himself remained behind to watch the
approaching army; for already, without stooping or listening, spite of
the storm raging around him, he heard the rattle of wheels and the
neighing of the horses.  But the lepers, whose ears also caught the
sound, wailed and lamented, feeling themselves in imagination flung to
the ground, crushed by the chariots, or crowded into a watery grave, for
the pathway had grown narrower and the sea seemed to be trying in earnest
to regain the land it had lost.

The men and cattle could no longer advance in ranks as wide as before,
and while the files of the hurrying bodies narrowed they lengthened, and
precious time was lost.  Those on the right were already wading through
the rising water in haste and terror; for already the commands of the
Egyptian leaders were heard in the distance.

But the enemy was evidently delayed, and Ephraim easily perceived the
cause of their diminished speed; for the road constantly grew softer and
the narrow wheels of the chariots cut deeply into it and perhaps sank to
the axles.

Protected by the darkness, he glided forward toward the pursuers, as far
as he could, and heard here a curse, yonder a fierce command to ply the
lash more vigorously; at last he distinctly heard one leader exclaim to
the man next him:

"Accursed folly!  If they had only let us start before noon, and not
waited until the omen had been consulted and Anna had been installed with
all due solemnity in Bai's place, it would have been easy work, and we
should have caught them like a flock of quail!  The chief-priest was wont
to bear himself stoutly in the field, and now he gives up the command
because a dying woman touches his heart."

"Siptah's mother!"  said another soothingly.  "Yet, after all, twenty
princesses ought not to have turned him from his duty to us.  Had he
remained, there would have been no need of scourging our steeds to death,
and that at an hour when every sensible leader lets his men gather round
the camp-fires to eat their suppers and play draughts.  Look to the
horses, Heter!  We are fast in the sand again!"

A loud out-cry rose behind the first chariot, and Ephraim heard another
voice shout:

"Forward, if it costs the horses their lives!"

"If return were possible," said the commander of the chariot-soldiers, a
relative of the king, "I would go back now.  But as matters are, one
would tumble over the other.  So forward, whatever it may cost.  We are
close on their heels.  Halt!  Halt!  That accursed stinging smoke!  Wait,
you dogs!  As soon as the pathway widens, we'll run you down with scant
ceremony, and may the gods deprive me of a day of life for each one I
spare!  Another torch out!  One can't see one's hand before one's face!
At a time like this a beggar's crutch would be better than a leader's
staff"

"And an executioner's noose round the neck rather than a gold chain!"
said another with a fierce oath.

"If the moon would only appear again!  Because the astrologers predicted
that it would shine in full splendor from evening till morning, I myself
advised the late departure, turning night into day.  If it were only
lighter!  .  .  .  ."

But this sentence remained unfinished, for a gust of wind, bursting like
a wild beast from the south-eastern ravine of Mount Baal-zephon, rushed
upon the fugitives, and a high wave drenched Ephraim from head to foot.

Gasping for breath, he flung back his hair and wiped his eyes; but loud
cries of terror rang from the lips of the Egyptians behind him; for the
same wave that struck the youth had hurled the foremost chariots into the
sea.

Ephraim began to fear for his people and, while running forward to join
them again, a brilliant flash of lightning illumined the bay, Mount Baal-
zephon, and every surrounding object.  The thunder was somewhat long in
following, but the storm soon came nearer, and at last the lightning no
longer flashed through the darkness in zigzag lines, but in shapeless
sheets of flame, and ere they faded the deafening crash of the thunder
pealed forth, reverberating in wild uproar amid the hard, rocky
precipices of the rugged mountain, and dying away in deep, muttering
echoes along the end of the bay and the shore.

Whenever the clouds, menacing destruction, discharged their lightnings,
sea and land, human beings and animals, far and near, were illumined by
the brilliant glare, while the waters and the sky above were tinged with
a sulphurous yellow hue through which the vivid lightning shone and
flamed as through a wall of yellow glass.

Ephraim now thought he perceived that the blackest thunder-clouds came
from the south and not from the north, but the glare of the lightning
showed behind him a span of frightened horses rushing into the sea, one
chariot shattered against another, and farther on several jammed firmly
together to the destruction of their occupants, while they barred the
progress of others.

Yet the foe still advanced, and the space which separated pursued and
pursuers did not increase.  But the confusion among the latter had become
so great that the warriors' cries of terror and their leaders' shouts of
encouragement and menace were distinctly heard whenever the fierce
crashing of the thunder died away.

Yet, black as were the clouds on the southern horizon, fiercely as the
tempest raged, the gloomy sky still withheld its floods and the fugitives
were wet, not with the water from the clouds but by the waves of the sea,
whose surges constantly dashed higher and more and more frequently washed
the dry bed of the bay.

Narrower and narrower grew the pathway, and with it the end of the
procession.

Meanwhile the flames blazing in the pitch pans continued to show the
terrified fugitives the goal of escape and remind them of Moses and the
staff God had given him.  Every step brought them nearer to it.  Now a
loud shout of joy announced that the tribe of Benjamin had also reached
the shore; but they had at last been obliged to wade, and were drenched
by the foaming surf.  It had cost unspeakable effort to save the oxen
from the surging waves, get the loaded carts forward, and keep the cattle
together; but now man and beast stood safe on shore.  Only the strangers
and the lepers were still to be rescued.  The latter possessed no herds
of their own, but the former had many and both sheep and cattle were so
terrified by the storm that they struggled against passing through the
water, now a foot deep over the road.  Ephraim hurried to the shore,
called on the shepherds to follow him and, under his direction, they
helped drive the herds forward.

The attempt was successful and, amid the thunder and lightning, greeted
with loud cheers, the last man and the last head of cattle reached the
land.

The lepers were obliged to wade through water rising to their knees and
at last to their waists and, ere they had gained the shore, the sluices
of heaven opened and the rain poured in torrents.  Yet they, too, arrived
at the goal and though many a mother who had carried her child a long
time in her arms or on her shoulder, fell upon her knees exhausted on the
land, and many a hapless sufferer who, aided by a stronger companion in
misery, had dragged the carts through the yielding sand or wading in the
water carried a litter, felt his disfigured head burn with fever, they,
too, escaped destruction.

They were to wait beyond the palm-trees, whose green foliage appeared on
the hilly ground at the edge of some springs near the shore; the others
were to be led farther into the country to begin, at a given signal, the
journey toward the southeast into the mountains, through whose
inhospitable stony fastnesses a regular army and the war-chariots could
advance only with the utmost difficulty.

Hur had assembled his shepherds and they stood armed with lances, slings,
and short swords, ready to attack the enemy who ventured to step on
shore.  Horses and men were to be cut down and a high wall was to be made
of the fragments of the chariots to bar the way of the pursuing
Egyptians.

The pans of burning pitch on the shore were shielded and fed so
industriously that neither the pouring rain nor the wind extinguished
them.  They were to light the shepherds who had undertaken to attack the
chariot-soldiers, and were commanded by old Nun, Hur, and Ephraim.

But they waited in vain for the pursuers, and when the youth, first of
all, perceived by the light of the torches that the way by which the
rescued fugitives had come was now a wide sea, and the smoke was blown
toward the north instead of toward the southwest--it was at the time of
the first morning watch--his heart, surcharged with joy and gratitude,
sent forth the jubilant shout: "Look at the pans.  The wind has shifted!
It is driving the sea northward.  Pharaoh's army has been swallowed by
the waves!"

The group of rescued Hebrews remained silent for a short time; but
suddenly Nun's loud voice exclaimed:

"He has  seen aright, children!  What are we mortals!  Lord, Lord!  Stern
and terrible art Thou in judgment upon Thy foes!"

Here loud cries interrupted him; for at the springs where Moses leaned
exhausted against a palm-tree, and Aaron was resting with many others,
the people had also perceived what Ephraim had noticed--and from lip to
lip ran the glad, terrible, incredible, yet true tidings, which each
passing moment more surely confirmed.

Many an eye was raised toward the sky, across which the black clouds were
rushing farther and farther northward.

The rain was ceasing; instead of the lightning and thunder only a few
pale flashes were seen over the isthmus and the distant sea at the north,
while in the south the sky was brightening.

At last the setting moon emerged from the grey clouds, and her peaceful
light silvered the heights of Baal-zephon and the shore of the bay, whose
bottom was once more covered with tossing waves.

The raging, howling storm had passed into the low sighing of the morning
breeze, and the sea, which had dashed against the rocks like a roaring
wild-beast, now lay quivering with broken strength at the stone base of
the mountain.

For a short time the sea still spread a dark pall over the many Egyptian
corpses, but the paling moon, ere her setting, splendidly embellished the
briny resting-place of a king and his nobles; for her rays illumined and
bordered their coverlet, the sea, with a rich array of sparkling diamonds
in a silver setting.

While the east was brightening and the sky had clothed itself in the
glowing hues of dawn, the camp had been pitched; but little time remained
for a hasty meal for, shortly after sunrise, the gong had summoned the
people and, as soon as they gathered near the springs, Miriam swung her
timbrel, shaking the bells and striking the calf-skin till it resounded
again.  As she moved lightly forward, the women and maidens followed her
in the rhythmic step of the dance; but she sang:

"I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse
and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

"The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is
my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will
exalt him.

"The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.  "Pharaoh's chariots and
his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned
in the Red Sea.

"The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.

"Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O
Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

"And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that
rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them
as stubble.

"And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together,
the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the
heart of the sea.

"The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil;
my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall
destroy them.

"Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead
in the mighty waters.

"Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like thee,
glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

"Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

"Thou, in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed:
thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation."

Men and women joined in the song, when she repeated the words:

"I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse
and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."

This song and this hour of rejoicing were never forgotten by the Hebrews,
and each heart was filled with the glory of God and the glad and grateful
anticipation of better, happier days.



CHAPTER XXIII.

The hymn of praise had died away, but though the storm had long since
raged itself into calmness, the morning sky, which had been beautiful in
the rosy flush of dawn, was again veiled by grey mists, and a strong wind
still blew from the southwest, lashing the sea and shaking and swaying
the tops of the palm-trees beside the springs.

The rescued people had paid due honor to the Most High, even the most
indifferent and rebellious had joined in Miriam's song of praise; yet,
when the ranks of the dancers approached the sea, many left the
procession to hurry to the shore, which presented many attractions.

Hundreds had now gathered on the strand, where the waves, like generous
robbers, washed ashore the booty they had seized during the night.

Even the women did not allow the wind to keep them back; for the two
strongest impulses of the human heart, avarice and the longing for
vengeance, drew them to the beach.

Some new object of desire appeared every moment; here lay the corpse of a
warrior, yonder his shattered chariot.  If the latter had belonged to a
man of rank, its gold or silver ornaments were torn off, while the short
sword or battle-axe was drawn from the girdle of the lifeless owner, and
men and women of low degree, male and female slaves belonging to the
Hebrews and foreigners, robbed the corpses of the clasps and circlets of
the precious metal, or twisted the rings from the swollen fingers of the
drowned.

The ravens which had followed the wandering tribes and vanished during
the storm, again appeared and, croaking, struggled against the wind to
maintain their places above the prey whose scent had attracted them.

But the dregs of the fugitive hordes were still more greedy than they,
and wherever the sea washed a costly ornament ashore, there were fierce
outcries and angry quarrelling.  The leaders kept aloof; the people, they
thought, had a right to this booty, and whenever one of them undertook to
control their rude greed, he received no obedience.

The pass to which the Egyptians had brought them within the last few
hours had been so terrible, that even the better natures among the
Hebrews did not think of curbing the thirst for vengeance.  Even grey-
bearded men of dignified bearing, and wives and mothers whose looks
augured gentle hearts thrust back the few hapless foes who had succeeded
in reaching the land on the ruins of the war-chariots or baggage-wagons.
With shepherds' crooks and travelling staves, knives and axes, stones and
insults they forced their hands from the floating wood, and the few who
nevertheless reached the land were flung by the furious mob into the sea
which had taken pity on them in vain.

Their wrath was so great, and vengeance so sacred a duty, that no one
thought of the respect, the pity, the consideration, which are
misfortune's due, and not a word was uttered to appeal to generosity or
compassion or even to remind the people of the profit which might be
derived from holding the rescued soldiers as prisoners of war.

"Death to our mortal foes!  Destruction to them!  Down with them!  Feed
the fishes with them!  You drove us into the sea with our children, now
try the salt waves yourselves!"

Such were the shouts that rose everywhere, and which no one opposed, not
even Miriam and Ephraim, who had also gone down to the shore to witness
the scene it presented.

The maiden had become the wife of Hur, but her new condition had made
little change in her nature and conduct.  The fate of her people and the
intercourse with God, whose prophetess she felt herself to be, were still
her highest aims.  Now that all for which she had hoped and prayed was
fulfilled; now that at the first great triumph of her efforts she had
expressed the feelings of the faithful in her song, she felt as if she
were the leader of the grateful multitude at whose head she had marched
singing and as if she had attained the goal of her life.

Ephraim had reminded her of Hosea and, while talking with him about the
prisoner, she moved on as proudly as a queen, answering the greetings of
the throng with majestic dignity.  Her eyes sparkled with joy, and her
features wore an expression of compassion only at brief intervals, when
the youth spoke of the greatest sufferings which he had borne with his
uncle.  She doubtless still remembered the man she had loved, but he was
no longer necessary to the lofty goal of her aspirations.

Ephraim had just spoken of the beautiful Egyptian, who had loved Hosea
and at whose intercession the prisoner's chains had been removed, when
loud outcries were heard at a part of the strand where many of the people
had gathered.  Shouts of joy mingled with yells of fury; and awakened the
conjecture that the sea had washed some specially valuable prize ashore.

Curiosity drew both to the spot, and as Miriam's stately bearing made the
throng move respectfully aside, they soon saw the mournful contents of a
large travelling-chariot, which had lost its wheels.  The linen canopy
which had protected it was torn away, and on the floor lay two elderly
Egyptian women; a third, who was much younger, leaned against the back of
the vehicle thus strangely transformed into a boat.  Her companions lay
dead in the water which had covered its floor, and several Hebrew women
were in the act of tearing the costly gold ornaments from the neck and
arms of one of the corpses.  Some chance had preserved this young woman's
life, and she was now giving her rich jewels to the Israelites.  Her pale
lips and slender, half-frozen hands trembled as she did so, and in low,
musical tones she promised the robbers to yield them all she possessed
and pay a large ransom, if they would spare her.  She was so young, and
she had shown kindness to a Hebrew surely they might listen to her.

It was a touching entreaty, but so often interrupted by threats and
curses that only a few could hear it.  Just as Ephraim and Miriam reached
the shore she shrieked aloud--a rude hand had torn the gold serpent from
her ear.

The cry pierced the youth's heart like a dagger-thrust and his cheeks
paled, for he recognized Kasana.  The bodies beside her were those of her
nurse and the wife of the chief priest Bai.

Scarcely able to control himself, Ephraim thrust aside the men who
separated him from the object of the moment's assault, sprang on the
sand-hill at whose foot the chariot had rested, and shouted with glowing
cheeks in wild excitement:

"Back!  Woe to any one who touches her!"

But a Hebrew woman, the wife of a brickmaker whose child had died in
terrible convulsions during the passage through the sea, had already
snatched the dagger from her girdle, and with the jeering cry "This for
my little Ruth, you jade!"  dealt her a blow in the back.  Then she
raised the tiny blood-stained weapon for a second stroke; but ere she
could give her enemy another thrust, Ephraim flung himself between her
and her victim and wrenched the dagger from her grasp.  Then planting
himself before the wounded girl, he swung the blade aloft exclaiming in
loud, threatening tones:

"Whoever touches her, you robbers and murderers, shall mingle his blood
with this woman's."  Then he flung himself beside Kasana's bleeding form,
and finding that she had lost consciousness, raised her in his arms and
carried her to Miriam.

The astonished plunderers speechlessly made way for a few minutes, but
ere he reached the prophetess shouts of: "Vengeance!  Vengeance!"  were
heard in all directions.  "We found the woman: the booty belongs to us
alone!--How dares the insolent Ephraimite call us robbers and murderers?
--Wherever Egyptian blood can be spilled, it must flow!--At him!--Snatch
the girl from him!"

The youth paid no heed to these outbursts of wrath until he had laid
Kasana's head in the lap of Miriam, who had seated herself on the nearest
sand-hill, and as the angry throng, the women in front of the men,
pressed upon him, he again waved his dagger, crying: "Back--I command
you.  Let all of the blood of Ephraim and Judah rally around me and
Miriam, the wife of their chief!  That's right, brothers, and woe betide
any hand that touches her.  Do you shriek for vengeance?  Has it not been
yours through yonder monster who murdered the poor defenceless one?  Do
you want your victim's jewels?  Well, well; they belong to you, and I
will give you mine to boot, if you will leave the wife of Hur to care for
this dying girl!"

With these words he bent over Kasana, took off the clasps and rings she
still wore, and gave them to the greedy hands outstretched to seize them.
Lastly he stripped the broad gold circlet from his arm, and holding it
aloft exclaimed:

"Here is the promised payment.  If you will depart quietly and leave this
woman to Miriam, I will give you the gold, and you can divide it among
you.  If you thirst for more blood, come on; but I will keep the armlet."

These words did not fail to produce their effect.  The furious women
looked at the heavy broad gold armlet, then at the handsome youth, and
the men of Judah and Ephraim who had gathered around him, and finally
glanced enquiringly into one another's faces.  At last the wife of a
foreign trader cried:

"Let him give us the gold, and we'll leave the handsome young chief his
bleeding sweetheart."

To this decision the others agreed, and though the brickmaker's
infuriated wife, who thought as the avenger of her child she had done
an act pleasing in the sight of God, and was upbraided for it as a
murderess, reviled the youth with frantic gestures, she was dragged
away by the crowd to the shore where they hoped to find more booty.

During this threatening transaction, Miriam had fearlessly examined
Kasana's wound and bound it up with skilful hands,  The dagger which
Prince Siptah had jestingly given the beautiful lady of his love, that
she might not go to war defenceless, had inflicted a deep wound under the
shoulder, and the blood had flowed so abundantly that the feeble spark of
life threatened to die out at any moment.

But she still lived, and in this condition was borne to the tent of Nun,
which was the nearest within reach.

The old chief had just been supplying weapons to the shepherds and youths
whom Ephraim had summoned to go to the relief of the imprisoned Hosea,
and had promised to join them, when the mournful procession approached.

As Kasana loved the handsome old man, the latter had for many years kept
a place in his heart for Captain Homecht's pretty daughter.

She had never met him without gladdening him by a greeting which he
always returned with kind words, such as: "The Lord bless you, child!"
or: "It is a delightful hour when an old man meets so fair a creature."
Many years before--she had then worn the curls of childhood--he had even
sent her a lamb, whose snowy fleece was specially silky, after having
bartered the corn from her father's lands for cattle of his most famous
breed--and what his son had told him of Kasana had been well fitted to
increase his regard for her.

He beheld in the archer's daughter the most charming young girl in Tanis
and, had she been the child of Hebrew parents, he would have rejoiced to
wed her to his son.

To find his darling in such a state caused the old man grief so profound
that bright tears ran down upon his snowy beard and his voice trembled
as, while greeting her, he saw the blood-stained bandage on her shoulder.

After she had been laid on his couch, and Nun had placed his own chest of
medicines at the disposal of the skilful prophetess, Miriam asked the men
to leave her alone with the suffering Egyptian, and when she again called
them into the tent she had revived the strength of the severely-wounded
girl with cordials, and bandaged the hurt more carefully than had been
possible before.

Kasana, cleansed from the blood-stains and with her hair neatly arranged,
lay beneath the fresh linen coverings like a sleeping child just on the
verge of maidenhood.

She was still breathing, but the color had not returned to cheeks or
lips, and she did not open her eyes until she had drunk the cordial
Miriam mixed for her a second time.

The old man and his grandson stood at the foot of her couch, and each
would fain have asked the other why he could not restrain his tears
whenever he looked at this stranger's face.

The certainty that Kasana was wicked and faithless, which had so
unexpectedly forced itself upon Ephraim, had suddenly turned his heart
from her and startled him back into the right path which he had
abandoned.  Yet what he had heard in her tent had remained a profound
secret, and as he told his grandfather and Miriam that she had
compassionately interceded for the prisoners, and both had desired to
hear more of her, he had felt like a father who had witnessed the crime
of a beloved son, and no word of the abominable things he had heard had
escaped his lips.

Now he rejoiced that he had kept silence; for whatever he might have seen
and heard, this fair creature certainly was capable of no base deed.

To the old man she had never ceased to be the lovely child whom he had
known, the apple of his eye and the joy of his heart.  So he gazed with
tender anxiety at the features convulsed by pain and, when she at last
opened her eyes, smiled at her with paternal affection.  Her glance
showed that she instantly recognized both him and Ephraim, but weakness
baffled her attempt to nod to them.  Yet her expressive face revealed
surprise and joy, and when Miriam had given her the cordial a third time
and bathed her brow with a powerful essence, her large eyes wandered from
face to face and, noticing the troubled looks of the men, she managed to
whisper:

"The wound aches--and death--must I die?"  One looked enquiringly at
another, and the men would gladly have concealed the terrible truth; but
she went on:

"Oh, let me know.  Ah, I pray you, tell me the truth!"

Miriam, who was kneeling beside her, found courage to answer:

"Yes, you poor young creature, the wound is deep, but whatever my skill
can accomplish shall be done to preserve your life as long as possible."

The words sounded kind and full of compassion, yet the deep voice of the
prophetess seemed to hurt Kasana; for her lips quivered painfully while
Miriam was speaking, and when she ceased, her eyes closed and one large
tear after another ran down her cheeks.  Deep, anxious silence reigned
around her until she again raised her lashes and, fixing her eyes wearily
on Miriam, asked softly, as if perplexed by some strange spectacle:

"You are a woman, and yet practise the art of the leech."

"My God has commanded me to care for the suffering ones of our people,"
replied the other.

The dying girl's eyes began to glitter with a restless light, and she
gasped in louder tones, nay with a firmness that surprised the others:

"You are Miriam, the woman who sent for Hosea."  And when the other
answered promptly and proudly: "It is as you say!"  Kasana continued:

"And you possess striking, imperious beauty, and much influence.  He
obeyed your summons, and you--you consented to wed another?"

Again the prophetess answered, this time with gloomy earnestness:  "It is
as you say."

The dying girl closed her eyes once more, and a strange proud smile
hovered around her lips.  But it soon vanished and a great and painful
restlessness seized upon her.  The fingers of her little hands, her lips,
nay, even her eyelids moved perpetually, and her smooth, narrow forehead
contracted as if some great thought occupied her mind.

At last the ideas that troubled her found utterance and, as if roused
from her repose, she exclaimed in terrified accents:

"You are Ephraim, who seemed like his son, and the old man is Nun, his
dear father.  There you stand and will live on....  But I--I ....  Oh, it
is so hard to leave the light....  Anubis will lead me before the
judgment seat of Osiris.  My heart will be weighed, and then...."

Here she shuddered and opened and closed her trembling hands; but she
soon regained her composure and began to speak again.  Miriam, however,
sternly forbade this, because it would hasten her death.

Then the sufferer, summoning all her strength, exclaimed hastily, as
loudly as her voice would permit, after measuring the prophetess' tall
figure with a long glance: "You wish to prevent me from doing my duty--
you?"

There had been a slight touch of mockery in the question; but Kasana
doubtless felt that it was necessary to spare her strength; for she
continued far more quietly, as though talking to herself:

"I cannot die so, I cannot!  How it happened; why I sacrificed all,
all....  I must atone for it; I will not complain, if he only learns how
it came to pass.  Oh, Nun, dear old Nun, who gave me the lamb when I was
a little thing--I loved it so dearly--and you, Ephraim, my dear boy, I
will tell you everything."

Here a painful fit of coughing interrupted her; but as soon as she
recovered her breath, she turned to Miriam, and called in a tone which
so plainly expressed bitter dislike, that it would have surprised any
one who knew her kindly nature:

"But you, yonder,--you tall woman with the deep voice who are a
physician, you lured him from Tanis, from his soldiers and from me.  He,
he obeyed your summons.  And you .  .  .  .  you became another's wife;
probably after his arrival ....  yes!  For when Ephraim summoned him, he
called you a maiden .  .  .  I don't know whether this caused him, Hosea,
pain ....  But there is one thing I do know, and that is that I want to
confess something and must do so, ere it is too late....  And no one must
hear it save those who love him, and I--do you hear--I love him, love him
better than aught else on earth!  But you?  You have a husband, and a God
whose commands you eagerly obey--you say so yourself.  What can Hosea be
to you?  So I beseech you to leave us.  I have met few who repelled me,
but you--your voice, your eyes--they pierce me to the heart--and if you
were near I could not speak as I must....  and oh, talking hurts me so!
But before you go--you are a leech--let me know this one thing--I have
many messages to leave for him ere I die....  Will it kill me to talk?"

Again the prophetess found no other words in answer except the brief:
"It is as you say," and this time they sounded harsh and ominous.

While wavering between the duty which, as a physician, she owed the
sufferer and the impulse not to refuse the request of a dying woman, she
read in old Nun's eyes an entreaty to obey Kasana's wish, and with
drooping head left the tent.  But the bitter words of the hapless girl
pursued her and spoiled the day which had begun so gloriously and also
many a later hour; nay, to her life's end she could not understand why,
in the presence of this poor, dying woman, she had been overpowered by
the feeling that she was her inferior and must take a secondary place.

As soon as Kasana was left alone with Nun and Ephraim, and the latter had
flung himself on his knees beside her couch, while the old man kissed her
brow, and bowed his white head to listen to her low words, she began:

"I feel better now.  That tall woman....  those gloomy brows that meet in
the middle....  those nightblack eyes....  they glow with so fierce a
fire, yet are so cold....  That woman....  did Hosea love her, father?
Tell me; I am not asking from idle curiosity!"

"He honored her," replied the old  man in a troubled tone, "as did our
whole nation; for she has a lofty spirit, and our God suffers her to hear
His voice; but you, my darling, have been dear to him from childhood, I
know."

A slight tremor shook the dying girl.  She closed her eyes for a short
time and a sunny smile hovered around her lips.

She lay in this attitude so long that Nun feared death had claimed her
and, holding the medicine in his hand, listened to hear her breathing.

Kasana did not seem to notice it; but when she finally opened her eyes,
she held out her hand for the cordial, drank it, and then began again:

"It seemed just as if I had seen him, Hosea.  He wore the panoply of war
just as he did the first time he took me into his arms.  I was a little
thing and felt afraid of him, he looked so grave, and my nurse had told
me that he had slain a great many of our foes.  Yet I was glad when he
came and grieved when he went away.  So the years passed, and love grew
with my growth.  My young heart was so full of him, so full....  Even
when they forced me to wed another, and after I had become a widow."

The last words had been scarcely audible, and she rested some time ere
she continued:

"Hosea knows all this, except how anxious I was when he was in the field,
and how I longed for him ere he returned.  At last, at last he came home,
and how I rejoiced!  But he, Hosea....?  That woman--Ephraim told me so--
that tall, arrogant woman summoned him to Pithom.  But he returned, and
then....  Oh, Nun, your son....  that was the hardest thing....!  He
refused my hand, which my father offered....  And how that hurt me....!
I can say no more....!  Give me the drink!"

Her cheeks had flushed crimson during these painful confessions, and when
the experienced old man perceived how rapidly the excitement under which
she was laboring hastened the approach of death, he begged her to keep
silence; but she insisted upon profiting by the time still allowed her,
and though the sharp pain with which a short cough tortured her forced
her to press her hand upon her breast, she continued:

"Then hate came; but it did not last long--and never did I love him more
ardently than when I drove after the poor convict--you remember, my boy.
Then began the horrible, wicked, evil time....  of which I must tell him
that he may not despise me, if he hears about it.  I never had a mother,
and there was no one to warn me....  Where shall I begin?  Prince Siptah
--you know him, father--that wicked man will soon rule over my country.
My father is in a conspiracy with him....  merciful gods, I can say no
more!"

Terror and despair convulsed her features as she uttered these words; but
Ephraim interrupted her and, with tearful eyes and faltering voice,
confessed that he knew all.  Then he repeated what he had heard while
listening outside of her tent, and her glance confirmed the tale.

When he finally spoke of the wife of the viceroy and chief-priest Bai,
whose body had been borne to the shore with her, Kasana interrupted him
with the low exclamation:

"She planned it all.  Her husband was to be the greatest man in the
country and rule even Pharaoh; for Siptah is not the son of a king."

"And," the old man interrupted, to quiet her and help her tell what she
desired to say, "as Bai raised, he can overthrow him.  He will become,
even more certainly than the dethroned monarch, the tool of the man who
made him king.  But I know Aarsu the Syrian, and if I see aright, the
time will come when he will himself strive, in distracted Egypt, rent by
internal disturbances, for the power which, through his mercenaries, he
aided others to grasp.  But child, what induced you to follow the army
and this shameful profligate?"

The dying girl's eyes sparkled, for the question brought her directly to
what she desired to tell, and she answered as loudly and quickly as her
weakness permitted:

"I did it for your son's sake, for love of him, to liberate Hosea.  The
evening before I had steadily and firmly refused the wife of Bai.  But
when I saw your son at the well and he, Hosea....  Oh, at last he was so
affectionate and kissed me so kindly....  and then--then....  My poor
heart!  I saw him, the best of men, perishing amid contumely and disease.

"And when he passed with chains one thought darted through my mind......"

"You determined, you dear, foolish, misguided child," cried the old man,
"to win the heart of the future king in order, through him, to release my
son, your friend?"

The dying girl again smiled assent and softly exclaimed:

"Yes, yes, I did it for that, for that alone.  And the prince was so
abhorrent to me.  And the shame, the disgrace--oh, how terrible it was!"

"And you incurred it for my son's sake," the old man interrupted, raising
her hand, wet with his tears, to his lips; but she fixed her eyes on
Ephraim, sobbing softly:

"I thought of him too.  He is so young, and it is so horrible in the
mines."

She shuddered again as she spoke; but the youth covered her burning hand
with kisses, while she gazed affectionately at him and the old man,
adding in faltering accents:

"Oh, all is well now, and if the gods grant him freedom...."

Here Ephraim interrupted her to exclaim in fiery tones:

"We are going to the mines this very day.  I and my comrades, and my
grandfather with us, will put his guards to flight."

"And he shall hear from my lips," Nun added, "how faithfully Kasana loved
him, and that his life will be too short to thank her for such a
sacrifice."

His voice failed him--but every trace of suffering had vanished from the
countenance of the dying girl, and for a long time she gazed heavenward
silently with a happy look.  By degrees, however, her smooth brow
contracted in an anxious frown, and she gasped in low tones:

"Well, all is well....  only one thing....  my body....  unembalmed....
without the sacred amulets.  .  .  ."

But the old man answered:

"As soon as you have closed your eyes, I will give it, carefully wrapped,
to the Phoenician captain now tarrying here, that he may deliver it to
your father."

Kasana tried to turn her head toward him to thank him with a loving
glance, but she suddenly pressed both hands on her breast, crimson blood
welled from her lips, her cheeks varied from livid white to fiery scarlet
and, after a brief, painful convulsion, she sank back.  Death laid his
hand on the loving heart, and her features gained the expression of a
child whose mother has forgiven its fault and clasped it to her heart ere
it fell asleep.

The old man, weeping, closed the dead girl's eyes.  Ephraim, deeply
moved, kissed the closed lids, and after a short silence Nun said:

"I do not like to enquire about our fate beyond the grave, which Moses
himself does not know; but whoever has lived so that his or her memory is
tenderly cherished in the souls of loved ones, has, I think, done the
utmost possible to secure a future existence.  We will remember this dead
girl in our most sacred hours.  Let us do for her corpse what we
promised, and then set forth to show the man for whom Kasana sacrificed
what she most valued that we do not love him less than this Egyptian
woman."



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

I do not like to enquire about our fate beyond the grave
Then hate came; but it did not last long





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