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Title: Victor Serenus
Author: Wood, Henry, Mrs.
Language: English
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                           BOOKS BY HENRY WOOD


THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF HUMANISM
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VICTOR SERENUS A Story of the Pauline Era
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STUDIES IN THE THOUGHT WORLD
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IDEAL SUGGESTION THROUGH MENTAL PHOTOGRAPHY
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GOD’S IMAGE IN MAN
Some Intuitive Perceptions of Truth
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EDWARD BURTON A Novel
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THE SYMPHONY OF LIFE
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THE NEW THOUGHT SIMPLIFIED
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                          ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

_Any of the above except the last sent by mail, postage paid, on receipt
of price._

                          ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

                      *LEE and SHEPARD Publishers*
                                 *BOSTON*



                             VICTOR SERENUS

                      _A STORY OF THE PAULINE ERA_


                                   BY
                               HENRY WOOD
  AUTHOR OF “IDEAL SUGGESTION” “GOD’S IMAGE IN MAN” “EDWARD BURTON” “THE
  POLITICAL ECONOMY OF NATURAL LAW” “STUDIES IN THE THOUGHT WORLD” ETC.



                 _It is only the finite that has wrought and suffered; the
                      infinite lies stretched in smiling repose._—EMERSON.



                          ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐



BOSTON U.S.A.
LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
1904



                      COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY HENRY WOOD

                            ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

                          _All Rights Reserved_

                            ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

                              VICTOR SERENUS



             TYPOGRAPHY BY C. J. PETERS & SON, BOSTON, U.S.A.

                              ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

                      PRESSWORK BY BERWICK & SMITH.



                              *To Margaret*



                                 PREFACE


It seems unnecessary to suggest that this book is entirely independent of
the conventional lines of the modern realistic novel. To any who hold that
idealism in fiction is not artistic, that a didactic element is
inadmissible, and that philosophizing has no place, the work will hardly
commend itself. To others, who believe that fiction may be a useful
vehicle for the conveyance of helpful ideals, and even abstract truth, it
is offered with the hope that it may furnish some measure both of
entertainment and profit.

On many historical and chronological points that are involved, authorities
differ; but so far as the author has been able to sift them, the
prevailing and apparently most probable hypotheses have been followed. As
may be inferred, it has been necessary to glean in many fields for the
facts, opinions, and conclusions that make up the historic portion of the
raw material from which this story has been fabricated.(1)

A majority of the characters being creations, and a large part of the
action also unhistoric, it must be left to the judgment of the reader how
well they fit into their historic frame‐work. So far as St. Paul is
introduced in the narrative, nearly everything delineated belongs to those
portions of his life which are but very briefly or incidentally touched
upon, either in the Scriptural writings or other history. But utilizing
many undoubted realities, the aim has been to fill in the wide blanks with
that which is in accord and in the line of the possible or probable.

The author has intended to respect the hallowed associations which cluster
about the name of the great Apostle. But Paul was a man with like passions
as other men, and to be faithful, any outline of the forces that played
through his great soul should be drawn naturally, and without that
misleading glamor often imposed by far‐away time and distance. Only by
such a treatment can his life be brought near, and its practical lessons
enforced. If to any the interpretation seem unduly broad, they may be
assured that the author has no iconoclastic intent, but on the contrary,
an aim which is wholly constructive, whereby everything wholesome and
uplifting in human life may be encouraged and strengthened.

BOSTON, 1898.



                                 CONTENTS


           PART FIRST
 CHAPTER                                                PAGE
      I.   A RELIGIOUS PROCESSION IN TARSUS                1
     II.   AN EVENING EXCURSION ON THE CYDNUS              8
    III.   IN THE TOILS                                   17
     IV.   THE NET IS RENT                                23
      V.   TWO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS                        32
     VI.   TO THE TOWER OF ANTONIA                        40
    VII.   A TARSIAN FESTIVAL TO APOLLO                   47
   VIII.   THE MYSTERIES OF THE ADYTUM                    56
     IX.   SOLILOQUY OF GAMALIEL’S DAUGHTER               68
      X.   MAGIC AND MYSTERY: STRANGE VISIONS             79
     XI.   IMPORTANT MESSAGES                             92
    XII.   SERENUS MAKES AN AVOWAL                       102
   XIII.   THE WALLS HAVE EARS                           111
    XIV.   LOVE VERSUS DUTY                              121
     XV.   THE RESCUE OF REBECCA                         133
    XVI.   AFTER THE STORM                               146
   XVII.   A ROMAN PARADE                                161
  XVIII.   AMABEL’S REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE                177
    XIX.   SURROUNDED BY PRISON WALLS                    195
     XX.   SOWING AND REAPING                            211
    XXI.   THE GREAT HARVEST                             228
           PART SECOND
           _THE LIGHT SPREADS TO THE WESTWARD_
   XXII.   SUNSHINE AND SHADOW                           245
  XXIII.   A BATTERED EAGLE                              260
   XXIV.   ON THE VERGE OF THE UNSEEN                    280
    XXV.   A PSYCHICAL JOURNEY                           299
   XXVI.   A POWERFUL PULSE STIRRED                      312
  XXVII.   A MESSAGE FROM STEPHANOS                      330
 XXVIII.   LEANDER VISITS A MYSTIC SHRINE                348
   XXIX.   CHANGES OF SOUL‐COLOR                         368
    XXX.   A PARADISE DISCOVERED                         381
   XXXI.   IN DEEP WATERS                                399
  XXXII.   SCOURGING AND FLIGHT                          412
 XXXIII.   A PRIESTESS OF THE TARSIAN TEMPLE             422
  XXXIV.   ONCE MORE UPON THE CYDNUS                     430
           PART THIRD
           _AFTER THE FLIGHT OF TWENTY YEARS_
   XXXV.   THE BAY OF PUTEOLI                            441
  XXXVI.   NOCTURNAL INTERVIEW WITH A SEER               449
 XXXVII.   TWO WOEFUL SOULS RELEASED                     463
           PART FOURTH
           _SAULUS IN ROME_
XXXVIII.   AWAITING TRIAL BEFORE NERO                    481
  XXXIX.   ANTIPODES BROUGHT FACE TO FACE                492
     XL.   THE VISIBLE FORM LAID ASIDE                   500



                              VICTOR SERENUS

                        A STORY OF THE PAULINE ERA



                               _PART FIRST_



                                CHAPTER I
                     A RELIGIOUS PROCESSION IN TARSUS


In an ancient city, late in the afternoon of a warm day in early autumn, a
little procession was winding its way through the narrow crowded streets.
The calm, measured pace and solemn countenances of the group plainly
indicated its character as a religious ceremonial. Slightly in the lead
were two priests, of such official and dignified mien that they appeared
as though they knew the God of Israel face to face. It was as if the
little Hebrew band, in threading a great throng of Gentiles, were laden
with the accumulated weight of all the traditions of the Chosen and
Circumcised since the time of Abraham. The reverberation of every sandal,
as it struck upon the well‐worn pavement, proclaimed, as loudly as words,
“We are separate.” Even the flocks of pigeons that were in the air seemed
to hover over the moving column, as if to lend the gleam of their white
wings to its stately rhythm.

The priests wore tall turbans of cup‐shaped form, and were clad in long
robes having broad borders decorated with a deep fringe, and gathered
about the body with an ornamented girdle. Broad phylacteries, square in
form, were bound by thongs, one upon the forehead, and one upon the left
arm, each containing inscribed passages from the Law. They also wore
embroidered ephods covering the back and breast, held together on the
shoulders by brooches of onyx stones richly set in gold, and fastened
below by a black band garnished with jewels. Their hands were crossed upon
the breast, and eyes turned toward heaven.

Following just behind the priests were men and women in costumes such as
were usually worn in the synagogue, which indicated that they were
returning from a sacred service. At intervals the low, monotonous tones of
a religious chant, or some soft rendering of passages from the Mosaic
ritual, might have been audible to those in the near vicinity. They formed
an embodied fragment of that long line of the faithful, who forget not the
patriarchs and the lawgivers, and whose eyes are always turned towards
Jerusalem and the Temple.

In the arms of one of the women was a young infant, and around this least
personage there seemed to gather an interest which showed that whatever
the nature of the service just concluded, the babe must have been the
central figure. The fond glances of the women and evident attention of the
men plainly revealed that thorough satisfaction which comes from holy duty
well performed.

The city of Tarsus was the place, and the time about the middle of the
first decade of the Christian era. Tarsus was a great commercial
metropolis. It was located in the midst of a broad, fertile plain which
mainly made up the province of Eastern or Flat Cilicia, as distinguished
from Rugged Cilicia which bordered it on the north and west. The prolific
soil, central location, and peculiar physical configuration, all tended to
give it great political importance. Leading from the great plain through
the high barrier of mountains which sweep from the coast irregularly
around it are two passes, one leading up to the interior of Asia Minor,
and the other giving access to the valley of the Orontes. It was naturally
the meeting‐place, and on the highway of trading caravans and military
expeditions. Through this richly historic country, Cyrus marched to depose
his brother from the Persian throne. It was on this plain that Alexander
gained his decisive victory over Darius. Here have since been encamped the
great hosts of western crusaders, and indeed, from the early dawn of
history, this plain was the theatre of great events and conflicts, which
had much to do with the shaping of empires, and the progress of the
world’s civilization.

The cold and rapid river Cydnus, fed by the snows of the Taurus range of
mountains, flows through this fertile country; and Tarsus, the capital of
the whole province, which was “no mean city,” was located upon its banks.
Its coins reveal its importance during the period between Xerxes and
Alexander, and also while under Roman sway, when it was dignified by the
name of Metropolis. Strabo says that in all that relates to philosophy and
general education it was more illustrious than Athens or Alexandria. In
the main it had the character of a Greek city; and the Grecian language,
literature, and philosophy were generally cultivated. But there were also
many Romans, Hebrews, Persians, and Syrians, with a sprinkling of other
tribes and peoples, such as characterized an Oriental metropolis. On its
busy wharves were great piles of merchandise, surrounded by groups of
merchants and traders in many costumes, and speaking a variety of
dialects.

It was one of the most important epochs of history; a time when colossal
personalities and events were stamping their impress upon the destiny of
races and nations. The shores of the Mediterranean formed the heart of the
world’s civilization; and Roman militarism, legality, and control were
permeating and compacting that great empire, east and west. The Greek and
Hebrew were important but subordinate elements in the human conglomerate
of that eventful period. Various and unlike races were commingling; their
customs and even their religions were shading into each other, and their
languages becoming considerably interchangeable. The Roman represented
law, government, conquest, and dominion; the Greek the more subtile ideals
of philosophy, art, and intellectuality; while the Hebrew, intense and
tenacious, was unconsciously laying the foundation, through his religious
zeal, for the coming spread of Judaism’s great outgrowth, rival, and
successor, Christianity. His hard religiosity and punctilious
ceremonialism were not perceptibly softened even by close contact with
Grecian poetry and idealism. Even Roman jurisprudence on the one hand, and
idolatry on the other, could not penetrate them. As a rule, the various
tributaries to the great current of human history in its evolutionary
course gradually mingle, each adding something of its own hue to the
common volume, but the Hebraistic economy was the rare exception. Its oil
would not mix with the general water of other systems.

At the particular time with which we are dealing, general peace prevailed.
There was one of those alternations of calmness which intervene between
the fierce storms of racial conflict and religious strife and persecution.

The Jewish procession, small in numbers, but important in spirit and
destiny, threaded its way through the winding thoroughfares, attracting
but a passing glance from the cosmopolitans which made up the multiform
currents of every‐day life in Tarsus. At length it halted in front of a
family residence in the better part of the Hebrew quarter, into which one
of the priests with the father of the child entered, followed by the
mother with her young son in her arms, while the others dispersed. The
babe, Saulus Paulus, was forty days old, and, in conformity to the Jewish
ritual, had been taken to the synagogue for the prescribed presentation
service.

Before leaving the household, the priest tenderly took the child in his
arms to give him a final blessing. Raising his eyes toward heaven, he
seemed to feel a spirit of prophetic inspiration. With his right hand upon
the head of the child, he reverently presumed to lift the curtain which
veils the future, fervently exclaiming,—

“Son of Abraham, scion of the tribe of Benjamin, and heir of Benoni! The
living blood of the Covenant flows in thy veins! Thou shalt wax strong,
and be learned in all that pertaineth to the Law! Thou shalt be a tongue
of the God of Jacob, and many shall tremble when thou speakest! Thou shalt
be a defender of Israel, and bring judgment to the Gentiles! Thou shalt
open thy mouth and utter mighty things that are hidden from the Greek and
Roman! Thou shalt sorely vex the enemies of the Circumcision, and bring
them to naught! With holy zeal shalt thou pursue them”—

Then his visage became fixed, and he was like one in a trance. A voice,
not his own, seemed to use his lips. “I behold—judgment—defeat—darkness!
_The uncircumcised prevail!_”

Abdiel, the priest, trembled like an aspen, and upon coming to himself,
declared that he had seen a disturbing vision.

The ancient Judaism accepted no compromise, and bowed to no defeat. When
surrounded, and even almost submerged, by prevailing idolatry, polytheism,
and heathenism, like a bow temporarily bent, it at length sprang back, and
regained its original integrity. It was a casting in rigid form of a
conglomerate of truth and error, righteousness and pride. It loathed other
creeds and philosophies, and its Deity was limited by a racial boundary.
It was a political theocracy.

Phariseeism, which was the leading element of Jewish religiosity, was a
compound of spiritual pride, exclusiveness, and intolerance. Missionary
effort among other nations was not thought of because they were not worth
it. God was the God of Israel. The Chosen People felt that they had a
monopoly of the divine favor, and they proposed to keep it. But the
teaching of the ancient seers and expounders of righteousness, originally
good, had become incrusted with a superficial formalism, and all vitality
had left it. Even the Mosaic Law and the later sublime poems and religious
compositions, though constantly and formally recited, were loaded down
with traditions, and had become a complex system of polished dry bones.
Notwithstanding the discipline of previous dispersions and captivities,
such was the spirit of the Chosen People during the earliest years of the
Christian era.



                               CHAPTER II
                    AN EVENING EXCURSION ON THE CYDNUS


The residence of Benoni was situated upon the more elevated plateau which
embraced the northwestern portion of the Cilician metropolis. A little
distance to the north was the Orontes Gate, through which a thoroughfare,
paved with much‐worn gray and white flags, led out to the fertile regions
in the broad plain above. Through this portal surged a continuous stream
of life, alternating in direction during the different hours of the day
like the tides in an inlet from the sea. Here were donkeys, with panniers
bursting with fruits, lentils, onions, and beans, and awkward camels, raw‐
boned, rough, and gray, with great saddles hung over their backs, the
capacious folds of which contained seemingly endless resources of baskets,
boxes, and miscellaneous merchandise. Horses, roughly harnessed to light
wagons which were heaped with dates, figs, grapes, and pomegranates, and
at intervals small flocks of sheep, calves, and other animals for the
food‐supply of a great city, added to the picturesque conglomerate of life
and bustle. Here entered blatant sellers of ducks, doves, and pigeons,
mingling their shrill cries with the general din and confusion. The
massive arched gateway formed the framework for a shifting panorama of
races, tribes, costumes, and dialects. Interspersed in the throng were red
and blue cloaks more or less dingy, white turbans, faded tunics, long
beards, and bare legs. Oriental display and decoration were seen in golden
ornaments, including necklaces, bracelets, and pendants, all lending a
gleam and sparkle to the motley streams of humanity. Here and there were
women of the common classes, wearing loosely gathered long frocks, and
upon their heads veils or wimples ample enough to fall in graceful folds
about the shoulders. Some were leading brown‐bodied and half‐naked
children, with hair and features indexing the blood of Greek, Jew,
Cilician, or barbarian in picturesque contrast.

Three broad streets converged at the Orontes Gate; and these were lined
with small shops containing merchandise, fruits, skins filled with wines
and other strong drinks, jewelry, garments, articles for personal
adornment, unguents for anointing, besides amulets, charms, and images in
endless variety and abundance.

The dwelling of Benoni, though not far away, was shut off from the noise
and confusion by a high street‐wall in the rear, while in front the
sloping grounds extended directly to the wide, silvery Cydnus. There were
three broad terraces, with here and there clusters of acacias, almonds,
spice‐trees, roses, oleander, and jasmine between the winding paths. At
intervals there were rustic seats sheltered by bowers of flowering plants
and shrubs.

The house was two stories in height, substantial but not pretentious, and
built around a quadrangular court. While not ornate, it was attractive and
well proportioned. The flat roof was surrounded by a low parapet, and was
furnished with a few wicker seats covered with simple canopies. During the
mild seasons the family spent much time upon the roof, especially in the
early morning and evening hours.

The simple carvings and embellishments of the house were Hebraic in
design, and many of the utensils were deeply suggestive of ancient
symbolism and ritual. Extending around the interior court was a cornice
carved in low relief, with designs depicting scenes from the lives of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the receiving of the Law by Moses, the
tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, and representations of the Temple at
Jerusalem, its courts, and the seven golden candlesticks. In the atrium,
or principal apartment, stood an ancient cabinet, in which was preserved
with great care, in many wrappings, a scroll of parchment, upon which was
inscribed a record of the direct genealogical line of descent from
Abraham, through the tribe of Benjamin, down to Benoni. The very
atmosphere of this house of “a Hebrew of the Hebrews” was almost redolent
with the odor of incense, and its flavor was that of instituted feasts and
festivals.

Tarsus, though advanced in sophistical logic and philosophy, was in its
leading characteristics morally depraved. The seat of celebrated schools
of letters, it was, at the same time, the home of Eastern cults, whose mad
sensuality and weird superstition made up a pagan corruption rarely
equalled. A part of its idolatry consisted of the very types and ideals of
luxurious effeminacy, gluttony, and sensuality. The iridescent film of
intellectual culture, which was drawn over the mass of moral degradation,
gave it a charm and external refinement which was more seductive than
naked barbarism. One of the chief festivals included the worship, with
elaborate rites, of statues of Sardanapalus and Semiramis, upon the base
or pedestal of which was engraved,—

  “EAT, DRINK, ENJOY THYSELF; THE REST IS NOTHING.”

To the Jews of the Dispersion who dwelt in Tarsus, the spectacles of
heathenism inspired in general a sense of disgust. The very bigotry with
which their economy had become incrusted formed a kind of protection
against which a more plastic and characterless religion would have
measurably yielded. Under the intense glare of the law such a paganism
appeared in all its abnormal deformity. The Jew was no sophist or
sentimentalist; and the Tarsian iniquity and abandon, far from being
attractive, strongly confirmed him in his own traditions.

The prejudices of Phariseeism surrounded the very cradle of the son of
Benoni. Intolerance, fanaticism, national pride, and exclusiveness built
themselves deeply into the organism of his childish nature. At the age of
five he had learned many passages from the sacred rolls of parchment, and
at six he could recite the “Shema” and “Hallel.” At seven he was taken to
his “vineyard,” or school, which was attached to the synagogue; and at ten
he commenced the simpler doctrines of the oral law which were collected in
the “Mishna.”

Abdiel, the priest, often came to visit the family, and was zealous
touching the training of Saulus in ritual and tradition. But though the
vision of the triumph of “the uncircumcised” had never been repeated,
intervening years had not entirely destroyed its portentous impression,
even though he had feigned to forget it. Thirteen years had passed, and
the son of Benoni had been confirmed as a “Son of the Commandment.” He was
now prepared to go up to Jerusalem for the acquirement of a deeper
learning in one of the great schools of the prophets where he might become
a Rabbi.

Benoni also had two daughters, the elder of whom had married long before,
and removed from Tarsus. Rebecca, the younger, was three years older than
Saulus, and was known among the Greeks of the neighborhood as “the
beautiful Jewess.” No brother and sister could be more devotedly attached
to each other; and their interests, studies, and recreations were shared
in common. They were quite unlike in nature and disposition; but, as is
often the case, this seemed to strengthen their bond of affection. Each
supplied what was lacking in the other. He was intense, impetuous, and
unyielding, while she was placid and rarely ruffled even under great
provocation. Though of recognized Jewish type in feature and form, she was
faultless even from the artistic standpoint of the Greek. The artlessness
and innocence which from a pure soul also shone out through her
personality lent an additional charm. She usually appeared with her jet‐
black hair gathered in two ample braids falling gracefully behind, and
interspersed near the ends with golden threads, terminating in a small
ornament with pendants. A silken cap of light fabric and delicate shading
rested lightly upon her head, and around her neck was a network of
delicate chains intermingled with precious stones. The folds of her white
loose‐fitting robe were gathered by a braided scarlet girdle, ornamented
with delicate pendants of pearl; and her neck and arms were but lightly
covered by a gauze scarf, upon which was a scattered embroidery of golden
thread. Every detail of personality and costume indicated a refinement
which was genuine and graceful.

At the close of one sultry August day, the family were seated in their
usual cosey corner upon the house‐top, as was their wont in warm weather.
The fierce Cilician sun was just sinking behind the great brown Taurus
mountains in the western horizon. The furnace‐like air of the great
shimmering plain to the north and west, which had been wavy with heat, was
reluctantly yielding to a more endurable temperature, and the lengthening
shadows gradually softened the glare of the broad landscape which
stretched away beyond the city to the great mountain wall in the distant
haze. The silvery current of the Cydnus, with its foliage‐lined banks,
could be followed by the eye, winding its zigzag way, and narrowing in the
dim distance almost to a thread when traced toward its native mountain
hiding‐place. The purple light, which lingered about the summits of the
far‐away range, had a weird and foreboding look; and the great chasm in
the Taurus, into which the orb of day had plunged, glowed with an unwonted
and sullen obstinacy as it slowly yielded to the darkening shadows. A few
heavy clouds which hung over the highest peaks were lined with a crimson
glory, which, while gorgeous, seemed restless and fateful.

If Nature was in a serious and contemplative mood, the family of Benoni
was not less absorbed in revery. Silence long prevailed. All were gazing,
not so much at the white roofs and gilded domes beyond the Cydnus, toward
which they faced, nor upon the garden in the immediate foreground, as into
the vista of the future. Eyes were looking out, but thoughts were turned
within.

What of the morrow? What of the far‐reaching consequences of the movement
just to begin? Kaleidoscopic visions of coming days flitted through their
minds. Stillness prevailed over the city. The very atmosphere was
stagnant. The household of Benoni seemed to have a prophetic foregleam of
great events, but their character and detail were hidden in the
impenetrable mists of the future.

Saulus was seated beside his mother, with her arm encircling him, and her
hand gently stroking his cheek. To‐morrow they were to part. Rebecca was
the first to break the silence. She drew herself to the other side of her
brother, and taking his hand in her own, gave him a warm kiss upon his
cheek.

“Brother, dear! How can we give thee up? Our hearts fail us when we think
of thy journey which begins with to‐morrow’s sun.”

“But the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be with thee, my son,” said
the mother. “And thou wilt see the great Rabban Gamaliel,(2) and be taught
of him. Thou wilt bring honor upon the house of Benoni, O my Saulus!”

She folded him in closer embrace, and stroking back his curly locks,
pressed repeated kisses upon his forehead.

“O my mother! no one will ever love me as thou dost. My life hath been
thine, but I must now give it to the God of Israel—to the Chosen People. I
will grow to be a leader, and help to gather them from their dispersion. I
will bring to naught the counsel of the Gentiles. Thou art yielding me to
the service of our people, and in due time I will render a worthy account
of my doings. O my mother! I will learn wisdom of the great Rabban, and be
a true son of the covenant.”

The father aroused himself from his revery and drew nearer.

“Son, thou hast my blessing. Thy words proclaim thy zeal for the Law. Thou
wilt surely prevail! Hast thou everything prepared for the journey? The
ship will set sail to‐morrow at the third hour.”

“My good mother hath helped me to make all things ready.”

Benoni was to go up to the Holy City with his son.

“Would there were a ship for Cæsarea that knows the God of Israel!” said
the father.

“In what ship _do_ we set sail?”

“My son, it is a Phœnician vessel, which is dedicated to the gods of Tyre,
and it carries the sign of Castor and Pollux.”

The mother raised her head inquiringly. “Is there not peril from pirates?”

“Nay; the Romans have cleared the seas of them.”

Again a long pause, and even the impulsive Saulus was sad and thoughtful.
Noticing that his mother had buried her face in her hands, he gently drew
them aside and gave her another kiss.

“O my mother! dry thy tears. The days will pass speedily when I may return
from the Holy City. My love for thee shall never wane.”

The shades of evening had gathered, and anon the clear full moon appeared
above the horizon, flooding the broad expanse of white roofs with a pale,
misty light. The Cydnus hurried quietly past, gleaming like a stream of
molten silver. By a general impulse the little group awakened from their
quietude.

Saulus turned toward his sister.

“The river is serene. Get thy lute, and let us take the shallop, that I
may feel the oars once more before my departure.”

Hand in hand the two darted down the stone stairway, and after a hasty
change of outer costume, made their way down one of the well‐worn paths to
the river’s bank. Unlocking the little boat‐house, Saulus pushed the light
shallop to the landing, and the two stepped in for an excursion. The young
Israelite grasped the oars with his usual alacrity; and the scions of the
house of Benoni glided out upon the stream and quickly disappeared, making
their way against the broad current of the Cydnus.



                               CHAPTER III
                               IN THE TOILS


“By Pallas! A bird hath flown into our net. The tempest hath driven her to
shelter.”

“A riddle for my interpretation, Marcius?”

“Thou judgest rightly.”

“Methinks I am already on the trail, my gallant; or art thou an impostor?
Come, I am impatient! Doth the bird sing?”

“Thou wilt find out the particulars for thyself.”

“A truce. Solve thine own riddle, I say.”

“Well, my gay Leander, the slaves down‐stairs say that we are honored by a
call—rather unceremonious, I must admit—from a beautiful young Jewess.”

“Ha! A bird of that feather will stir the pulses.”

“Thou sayest well. The sun warms and the breeze refreshes.”

The Roman smiled, and his dark eyes sparkled from beneath their heavy
brows.

“A much‐needed addition to our coterie, Marcius. The gods are propitious
to‐night.”

“Thy discrimination is fine, my genial Greek. Variety is fitting.”

“Fortune commands us to be hospitable.”

“We will obey with alacrity, and make the young Jewess quite at home.”

“Even the elements bespeak a welcome with their noisy commotion.”

“A truce to thy poetic fancies, my gallant. They say the bird hath an
incumbrance.”

“A lover in her train, sayest thou?”

“Nay; a small brother.”

“Did the skies drop them down with the hail‐stones in the storm that just
passed over, Marcius?”

“I cannot swear to it, my Leander; but it seemeth likely, for the slaves
say that they appeared just afterwards at the gate which opens toward the
Cydnus.”

“O thou prosaic Roman! It is the gods who are prodigal with their favors.”

“Be it so. Who recks the wind, where it blows, so that it ministers to our
fancies. Thou art an ardent votary of thy favorite divinities; but
miracles like this are not common.”

“Ah! the Muses whisper to us:—

  ‘Love, sons of earth—for love is earth’s soft lore,
    Look where ye will—earth overflows with me,
  Learn from the waves that ever kiss the shore,
    And the winds nestling on the heaving sea.’”

“Son of the Muses! Descend from thy flight among the deities, and be
assured that to the commonplace god of Necessity this visit of our guests
is due. Their light shallop being disabled, they made a very unexpected
but necessary landing upon the dock within our enclosing walls.”

“The shades of Daphne be praised, Marcius; but what of the lad in
attendance?”

“If we find no service for him within the palace, we may have to offer him
to the gods as a Hebrew sacrifice, or, in other words, present him as a
graceful tribute to the waters of the Cydnus.”

“Thou sayest well. The Styx is often a shady but poetic necessity. The
gods give their favorites early release.”

“A happy turn to a shadowy sentiment, my gay Leander, and quite worthy of
thy ever‐presiding Muse.”

“But will not our guest feel neglected at this delay in her reception,
Marcius?”

“Nay, my gallant; she must be made presentable. The slave woman, Chloe,
informs me that she was terribly dishevelled from the storm, but that her
beauty is marvellous. She is being warmed and refreshed.”

“Ah! my favorite Muse again comes to the front:—

  ‘In the veins of the calix foams and glows
    The blood of the mantling vine;
  But oh! in the bowl of Youth there glows
    A Lesbium more divine!
      Bright, Bright,
      As the liquid light,
    Its waves through thine eyelids shine!’”

“A very graceful song. From whence is it?”

“Oh, it is but a ripple on the surface of the great sea of Grecian lore.”

“Be it so. But a truce to the lore of the past. Let us now to the present.
Pour a libation to Venus, and bring a vessel of the wine of Lesbos, and we
will drink to the health of the fair one—the last to come under our
gracious protection.”

“Thou sayest well, Marcius. What the immortal gods send, let us receive
with thanks, and let it be consecrated in the charmed halls of our temple
of Eros.”

The two seated themselves, and in a little time each had drained a large
amphora of wine—once repeated. Soon the blood shot like flashes of fire
through their veins. At length Leander arose, and took from a vase a
handful of rare flowers.

“I weave a chaplet for my Jewish maiden, and chant once more in her
honor:—

  ‘We are fallen, but not forlorn,
    If something is left to cherish;
  As Love was the earliest born,
    So Love is the last to perish.’”

With the continued draughts of wine, the Greek and the Roman grew more
talkative and noisy.

“By Bacchus! Leander, did my ears deceive me? Didst thou say _my_ Jewish
maiden before thy song?”

“Gently, impetuous Roman. I drank to _my_ Jewish maiden.”

“We shall _see_, O thou effeminate Greek!”

“We _shall_ see, then, perfidious Roman!”

“Ha! rash dolt! We will have no Brutus here. Slaves! Chloe! Bring up my
guest and introduce her.”

At the same moment he dealt the Greek a powerful blow, which caused him to
measure his length on the bear‐skin rugs that were spread upon the
polished, inlaid floor. Then, clapping his hands for a slave to assist
him, they bore the prostrate Leander into an adjoining chamber, and
deposited him upon a couch. Marcius then returned to receive the latest
guest.

While the episode just narrated had been going on, there had come floating
in from a distance the tones of unseen minstrelsy—now swelling, now
diminishing—in a way to hold the soul spellbound. This was an
accompaniment to the nightly revelry and orgies.

Adjoining the apartment where the comrades had held converse, and
separated from it by heavy draperies, was a large banquet‐room, and still
beyond, the room from whence came the strains of music. Mingled with the
melody and with the measured rhythm of the dance, there escaped fragments
of hilarity, merrymaking, and the echo of voices in pleasing confusion.

All the apartments and their accessories were eloquent with a voluptuous
refinement. Culture, wealth, and depravity seemed here to form a close
combination. The occupants evidently were of patrician blood, corrupted by
luxury and sensuality, while the pictures, statuary, symbols, and images
indicated that their oft‐invoked divinities were as cruel and degenerate
as themselves. The whole interior of the palace was an intricate but
beautiful maze, arranged to confuse and captivate the senses. It was one
of those highly organized efforts, in a luxurious and depraved age, in a
heathen metropolis, to storm the citadels of supposed pleasure, and to
compel the inverted mechanism of Nature herself to yield without reserve
the last charm that is contained in her storehouse. Art, nature, the
flowers, the stars, rhythm, melody, beauty, and feeling, with cruelty and
brutality interwoven—everything was placed under contribution in the mad
and exhaustive search for a perfect sentient paradise. It was an age when
the senses and instincts of mankind seemed to reach a climax of abnormity,
while outwardly gilded with artistic charm and gracefulness. It was an era
of intellectual delusion and spiritual insanity. Man must crowd and
surfeit his baser nature to the bursting‐point to‐day, for to‐morrow he is
not.

The palace was brilliant with numberless lights; and the warm air was
heavy with the odors of myrrh, violets, jasmine, and other flowers and
spices. Fountains cast up a delicate spray which glittered like star‐dust
in their pulsating prismatic play. Mirrors of polished steel duplicated
every beautiful object, dazzled the bewildered senses, and flung chaplets
of rosy chains around the soul of every captive and victim. To breathe the
magic air was to experience a delicious intoxication.

The vaulted ceilings of the principal apartments were frescoed with a sky
in which were floating fleecy clouds of rosy hue, from the midst of which
smiled faces of bewildering shape and beauty.

In the dances and religious processions that were painted upon panels
trooped forms of the divinest beauty, bearing garlands and chaplets and
lyres, keeping time to the soft minstrelsy of melody which seemed to issue
from the very walls. Every ornament, picture, and statue silently chanted
an invitation to ENJOY.

The door from below opened, and Chloe ushered the pure Jewish maiden into
the presence of Marcius. But she came not alone. The small brother, though
uninvited, appeared also, and they were hand in hand.



                               CHAPTER IV
                             THE NET IS RENT


Saulus plied the oars with a steady stroke that would have done credit to
more mature muscles, and the light shallop with its precious freight
glided rapidly over the mirror‐like surface of the Cydnus. The air was
laden with fragrant exhalations from spicy shrubs, the bending branches of
which hung over the water on either bank; the grounds immediately upon the
river being generally laid out in gardens, which, like those of Benoni,
extended to the water’s edge. The lily and rose‐tree, the oleander and
mulberry, each made its contribution of sweet odors, while their misty
shadows quivered upon the surface of the water as the two moved gently by.
Out of the thick foliage, here and there, came the song of a nightingale,
the soft whistle of a quail, or the cooing of a turtle‐dove calling its
mate, perchance disturbed by the plash of the oars.

The poetic inspiration and openness to nature’s voices, so prominent
during the former days of Jewish psalmody and prophecy, had greatly
decayed under the influence of a harsh formalism. The children of Benoni,
while not indifferent to the beauty about them, were rather dwelling amid
vague visions of the future.

The full moon was now almost overhead. The evening air, while calm, had a
preternatural closeness and intensity. A portentous pause prevailed—a
lingering as if on the brink of fateful destiny. Nature seemed
prophetically to be holding her breath. But the reveries of the scions of
Benoni were not disturbed by portentous signs. Nothing so motionless could
cause them to forget the riches of ancient Hebrew lore, or obscure the
bright plans in the near future for Saulus. As each was wrapped in
meditation, some time passed without a word being spoken. But at length
strains of music in the far distance came floating over the water, and
Saulus was aroused by their suggestiveness.

“Attune thy lute, my sister, and sing one of the songs of Israel. If thou
wilt, let it be the song of Miriam.”

Rebecca took up her favorite instrument, and soon the echoes of her pure
voice with its dulcet accompaniment floated out over the waves.

  “‘Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously;
  The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.’”

Other songs and chants of the Chosen People followed; and then the Holy
City, the Temple, and its services formed the theme of converse.

The time had flown swiftly.

“Peace be with thee, my brother! Have we not come far? Let us turn
homeward.”

“The evening is well spent; but the Cydnus is serene, and the current
favors our return.”

The shallop was quickly put about, and Saulus grasped the oars for a
steady pull; but, as they turned their gaze down the river, the white
roofs and towers of the city were hidden by a great black curtain.

“O my Rebecca! a tempest is at hand!”

Saulus bent to the oars with an energy born of desperation. Soon a
blinding flash of lightning illumined the broad expanse, followed by a
heavy peal of thunder.

“The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be with and keep us, my
brother. ‘Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor
sleep.’”

The storm came on apace. The density of the darkness was intensified by
the lightning‐flashes which like great darting serpents thrust themselves
athwart the sky. The fierce roar of the wind was now mingled with the
thunder; and although Saulus struggled heroically to keep the sharp prow
to the wind, the little craft was borne uncontrollably along, barely being
kept upright.

“O God of our fathers! Thou who didst bring Israel through the Red Sea,
save us, or we perish!” exclaimed Rebecca.

They were swept along; and when the boat was just about to fill, it was
dashed violently upon the shore. The momentum which crushed their frail
bark as it struck landed them suddenly upon the ground.

The children of Benoni were saved. Partially stunned, but otherwise
unharmed, they arose, and in each other’s embrace looked up, and thanked
the God of Israel for deliverance. Turning to explore their landing‐place,
they found themselves in the yard of a large house or palace, which was
brilliantly lighted, and from which issued the confused noise of voices,
mingled with music and laughter.

“We have fallen among the Gentiles,” said Saulus.

On either side of the yard was a high wall, and nothing remained but to
knock at the Cydnus gate of the palace for admission and relief. They were
kindly received in the basement by the slaves in attendance, who took them
in, and administered warmth and refreshment.

At length Chloe, the head female slave, who had informed Marcius of their
sad plight, received a message from him. She turned to Rebecca.

“O my fair Jewess! Marcius, the master, craves an audience with thee in
the hall above.”

Chloe then conducted her up‐stairs into the presence of the Roman, and
Saulus followed unbidden.

Marcius advanced with a gracious bow, taking no notice of the boy.

“Methinks thou art an unexpected, but very welcome guest.”

Rebecca gave no answer, but drew back with a shudder.

“Come, my fair one! It becometh us to dispense with formality. Thou hast
escaped the waves, and we give thee shelter and protection. Welcome to
these fair halls. As the poet hath sung:—

  ‘And no god on heaven or earth—
  Not the Paphian Queen of Mirth,
  Nor the vivid Lord of Light,
  Nor the triple Maid of Night,
  Nor the Thunderer’s self, shall be
  Blest and honor’d more than thee!’”

“O thou noble Roman!” said the Hebrew lad, opening his eyes wide upon
Marcius. “We thank thee for thy hospitality to the children of Benoni; and
now we will depart. Peace be with thee!”

“My young son of Israel! The tempest still rages without. The night is
chill and boisterous for thy fair sister.”

“We mind not the storm, and the God of our fathers will be with us. I pray
thee, let us depart in peace.”

The Roman deigned no reply.

The color came and went in the face of the young Jew; for though but a
youth, he penetrated the smooth mask of the Roman, and divined his
treachery and cruelty.

Marcius again addressed himself to Rebecca.

“My fair Jewess! Thou shouldst thank the gods—or thy Hebrew Jehovah—for
thy deliverance from the cold embrace of the Cydnus. We offer thee warmth
and music and poetry and wine, and—be it so—love, whose cup we may gently
quaff.”

Rebecca cast a beseeching look.

“O Roman citizen of Tarsus! I pray thee bid us to depart. We fear not the
storm. The hearts of our father and mother will be made glad by our
return. The Romans have honor! We will now go in peace.”

A sullen frown was the only reply.

With compressed lip and fiery blood coursing through every vein, Saulus
bent his gaze upon the Roman, but was silent from the very intensity of
his thoughts.

Marcius, heated by the wine which he had drunk with Leander, gradually
became more harsh and pitiless.

“Doth the beautiful Jewess scorn the devotion of a patrician? Ah! The
divinity of the son of Aphrodite is supreme! The Jewish life is poor and
barren! The Roman is rich, and offers thee jewels and banquets, and slaves
for thy service. Away with thine indifference, and join the revelry with
me in yonder banquet‐hall.”

“Thou base and brutal Roman!” cried Saulus. “Thou uncircumcised heathen
and idolater! The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will smite thee, and
deliver us out of thy hand.”

“Hebrew stripling of the house of Benoni! Thy tongue is sharp! Start not!
I only ask thy sister in marriage. Think of an alliance with patrician
blood! Remain in the palace with slaves to do thy bidding! We will train
thee in all the graces of Greek and Roman art, poetry, and music.”

Seeing at a glance that he had made no impression, he resumed in a
sarcastic tone,—

“Thy body and that of the fair one will be vainly sought, far below, amid
the drift‐wood that will be thrown upon the shore by the swollen Cydnus.
In such a tempest, all trace of the children of Benoni will be lost,
_lost_, rash boy!”

Again assuming a blandness which but illy concealed the fierce passions
which were burning behind it, he continued,—

“Foolish captives! To the knowledge of your tribe, the Jewess and her
small brother have been swallowed up by the tempest, and so they will
remain! Be it so. But I promise, if ye be willing captives, every luxury
shall be heaped upon you. Consider well! The Roman builds his palace with
massive walls.”

The children of Benoni read their fate as in an open book. A Tarsian house
of iniquity had closed around them. As they glanced about, every statue
and picture and idol seemed to mock them, and every mirror duplicated the
mockery. O cruel fate! Bare, jagged prison‐walls would have seemed more
hospitable!

Did this strange hour belong to the same evening in which they had started
for a joyous moonlight excursion on the Cydnus? Where were all the happy
dreams of three short hours ago? Where were now the bright pictures of the
Holy City, the Temple, and the school of the great Rabban? Were _they_ not
the reality and this a mere hideous dream?

But for the heat of the wine, it seemed as though Marcius must have
quailed before the pure indignation of the Hebrew children.

The tempest still raged without.

Saulus held his sister tightly by the hand; and though but a lad in
stature, he stood firmly erect, and his eyes shot defiant glances at
Marcius. Stirred to the depths of his young soul by the baseness of the
Roman, he seemed to live through years of experience in a short hour.

Marcius seated himself, and with an impatient scowl waited for their
submission. He could afford to give a little time, because there could be
but one possible outcome. But, though master of the palace, with all to do
his will, he glanced uneasily about, as if the walls might have ears. He
looked into the next room where Leander, though but partially stunned by
his blow, was lying in a stupor of intoxication. He then resumed his seat,
and again turned towards Rebecca.

“My sweet caged bird, why ruffle thy plumage more? Give thy Roman lord
some gracious favor, and thou shalt want for nothing. The tempest which
rages without, and also that slight commotion which disturbs thine own
mind, will soon be stilled and forgotten.”

Rebecca covered her face with her hands, while Saulus exclaimed with a
strong gesture,—

“Jehovah will deliver his children! We are his chosen people!”

Then, looking upward, he cried,—

“_We await thy salvation!_”

“By Bacchus! Who is the God of Israel? But, my impetuous infant, I will
proceed with order and dignity. Willing or unwilling captives? Ha! Now for
a final, sagacious answer before the sand runs through this small
glass.”(3)

The moments slipped away, and only the roar outside broke the stillness.

The surging of human passion, the constancy of affection, the happiness
and misery of common life, the epochs of trial and triumph, and the
mystery of fate, all span the wide chasms of time and space. Human life is
one. Its outward circumstances may be never so varied, but within there is
a universal correspondence. Through some shape, in the evolution of
character, the same battles must be fought and the same victories won.
Customs, races, languages, and governments come and go; but love, hate,
friendship, passion, vice, and virtue remain. The Present is only the Past
with a new countenance.

The Hebrew maiden and her young brother remained firmly unconquerable.
They even became calm and confident with assurance. They had an
unmistakable vision of deliverance, and felt that it was at hand. Its form
or manner they could not divine. There is an intrinsic faculty which
awakens in some souls, and takes hold upon the future. It feels coming
events as though they were already present. That it is not commonly
developed by no means proves its non‐existence. It deals with great crises
or turning‐points, rather than their details.

Marcius sat watching the tiny stream of sand as it passed through the
small orifice. The last grain had fallen.

“Captives! willing or unwilling?”

The answer came from an unexpected quarter. A flash of forked lightning
illumined the palace, and rent it from roof to foundation. Marcius was
prostrated and lay as one dead. The Hebrew children, though stunned and
momentarily unconscious, soon aroused themselves. There was a panic in the
palace, and a hurrying to and fro of all who had escaped unharmed. A part
of the slaves, thinking the building was about to fall, unbarred the front
portal and hurried into the street. Saulus and Rebecca, hand in hand, fled
down the broad stairway, where they met Chloe, who was hastily gathering
up a few valuables before making her escape.

“The gods demanded your release,” said she; and guiding them through an
intricate passage‐way to the front portal, they soon found themselves in
the street.



                                CHAPTER V
                         TWO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS


            “Our feet are standing
            Within thy gates, O Jerusalem
            Jerusalem, that art builded
            As a city that is compact together:
            Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord,
            For a testimony unto Israel,
            To give thanks unto the name of the Lord.
            For there are set thrones for judgment,
            The thrones of the house of David.”


The great Temple which crowned the summit of Mount Moriah in the Holy City
formed the visible pivotal centre of Judaism, and was the pride and joy of
every son and daughter of Israel. It was surrounded by a broad porch,
which extended entirely around its four sides, forming a most imposing
feature and approach. Immediately within was the great court of the
Gentiles, which enclosed the more exclusive courts and the Temple proper.
Then came the court of the Women, and next beyond, and extending on three
sides around the court of the Priests and inner Temple, was the court of
Israel. Here was located the session‐room of the Sanhedrin; and near by,
or adjoining, was the great lecture‐room of Gamaliel. This eminent Rabban
of “the school of Hillel” was held in great respect for his wisdom; and
the most promising youth of the tribes, far and near, gathered to become
his pupils. While a legal Israelite and nominal Pharisee, he was tolerant,
and permitted great liberty in discussion. His students, being from many
different provinces, embraced among their number not only Pharisees and
Sadducees of different grades, but also many adherents of other sects and
philosophies. Some of the Essenes, Gnostics, and those of Hellenistic and
Aramaic opinion of various shades, including even Cyrenians and
Alexandrians, sent their sons to this famous Hebrew university. Many of
its students were quite familiar with Greek literature and philosophy. The
widespread reputation of Gamaliel, and the liberty of private opinion
which he permitted, gave his school a broad and cosmopolitan character, as
contrasted with the smaller Rabbinical schools, which often simply taught
the letter of the Jewish law. It was an “Assembly of the Wise,” where a
degree of freedom was enjoyed which was probably unparalleled in its era.

Gamaliel occupied a high seat or tribune in his assembly‐room, while his
students were grouped around and below him, literally “at his feet.” At
stated times there were dialectical discussions, when he was more their
moderator than teacher.

Perhaps some text of Old Testament Scripture would be taken for the
subject of commentary. Various interpretations were then given; a
comparison with other religions instituted, aphorisms defined, different
writers compared, allegories translated, and opinions and authorities
quoted and discussed. The pupils were encouraged to criticise each other,
and to question the Rabban, and divergent views were expressed and
invited.

According to the Talmud, the remarkable body of Rabbinical jurisprudence
could well be compared to the Roman body of civil law, or even with
English common law, in the vast accumulation of precedents, arguments, and
opinions. It included not merely Jewish theology, but the whole civil code
and practice. From the best accounts, this Hebrew university bore some
resemblance to the discussions of Plato in the Academy, or the lectures of
Aristotle in the Lyceum. The students received an excellent training in
dialectics; and many became not only good logicians, but capable of
felicitous literary style and poetic expression.

In the university there were incipient sects, parties, and factions of
various shades, often with their recognized leaders or exponents. The
great Rabban, within reasonable limits, encouraged the spirit of free
thought and inquiry.

Saulus, being of ardent temperament, soon became not only an eager and
untiring student, but an intense partisan. He rapidly became noted for his
powerful invective towards his opponents, and even though but a boy, was
so jealous of the traditions of the fathers that many times he was
involved in disputes and quarrels. Intellectually acute and with retentive
memory, his mind was well stored with “hard sentences of old,” and
confirmatory quotations from the Scriptures were always at his command.
Moreover, he gradually became belligerent, and was ready to fight for his
opinions. Instead of being softened or modified by the variety of elements
which surrounded him, he grew more aggressive. His intemperate zeal led
him towards intolerance and even persecution, so far as his position
rendered it possible. As a strict literalist, he soon persuaded himself
that those who were careless of the letter of the law were accursed of
God, and therefore not deserving of much mercy at the hands of man.

The khan, or inn, where Saulus and a few other ultra Pharisees lived, was
a headquarters for zealous literalists, and fronted upon a square known as
the Sheepmarket, which was a little to the north of Mount Moriah, and but
a short distance from the Tower of Antonia. It was but a few minutes’ walk
from the Sheepgate, which was one of the portals in the city wall which
led eastward through the Valley of Jehosaphat to Gethsemane and the Mount
of Olives beyond.

Among the pupils of Gamaliel was one, Victor Serenus by name, who had
become the recognized leader of an important following in the assembly.
Although three years older than Saulus, they were members of the same
class. He was a native of Alexandria, Egypt, and his parents were liberal
Jewish Hellenists. He was rather tall, well‐proportioned, of blond
complexion, and had a mass of wavy chestnut hair, which crowned a face and
head of ideal form and expression. The sparkle and clearness of his dark
blue eyes indexed a delicate soul and noble nature. A marked repose and
lofty bearing, combined with brightness and optimism in his demeanor,
formed a combination as rare as it was attractive. An inward purity and
strength of soul seemed tangibly to shine out through his physical
organism. He had early possessed the advantages of the best intellectual
culture of his native city, and was an intimate friend and associate of
Philo, who then was just beginning to lay the foundation for the world‐
wide reputation which he afterwards gained as an eminent writer and
philosopher. Though not a member of any Jewish sect, he was familiar with
the doctrines of the Gnostics, Essenes, Therapeutæ, and other systems of
the Jewish dispersion. Belonging definitely to no one of them, he seemed
to have absorbed a large measure of the truth contained in all, leaving
behind their limitations and exclusiveness. Soon after coming to the Holy
City to supplement an education already of unusual quality, he gradually
became the recognized leader of the broadest and most liberal element of
the assembly. This came about not from any aggressiveness, but from innate
quality and character, the power of which could not be hidden.

On the other hand, Saulus, from inherent brilliancy and great force of
character, became the recognized champion of the dogmatists and
literalists. It naturally happened, that, in the free discussions which
were permitted by Rabban Gamaliel, Serenus and Saulus found themselves at
the head of opposing factions.



The seasons flew rapidly by, and the fourth year of Saulus’s life in the
Holy City was drawing to a close. Although still small in stature, his
growth in mental acquirement and intensity since he had entered the school
of Gamaliel had been remarkable. His rather insignificant physical
appearance had considerable compensation in an executive talent and power
which easily marked him as a born leader of men. With plain and
unattractive features of the pronounced Jewish type, and a mixture of pale
and red in his complexion, he was outwardly commonplace; but when enlisted
in disputation a quick flush would pass over his countenance, and, with
changed expression, the commanding dignity and fire of his bearing would
astonish all beholders. Loyal to his convictions and faithful to his
friends, he was at the same time intolerant, impetuous, and terrible
toward all whom he regarded as opposers of the strictest Jewish economy.
His violent temper made itself felt in his orations and debates, and
already had involved him in several tumults and perils. After receiving
repeated warnings from Rabban Gamaliel, he had barely escaped formal
condemnation and dismissal. Tendencies had already developed and
antagonisms been definitely formed that were destined to play an important
part in coming time.

Since the brief and tempestuous reign of Archelaus, the son and successor
of Herod the Great, the Roman Emperor, Cæsar Augustus, in order to
humiliate the Holy City, had removed the seat of the Judean government to
Cæsarea, Jerusalem thereby becoming a secondary provincial city. During
this period the high priest, Annas, who was thoroughly the creature of the
Roman dominion, kept up the semblance of a court in the Herodian palace on
Mount Zion. Every considerable Judean town and city was garrisoned with
Roman soldiers. The Tower of Antonia was held by a strong force, and Roman
guards kept every gate of the city and palace. Merciless taxation and
exaction kept the Jews in abject subjugation. Having lost every vestige of
political independence, they now devoted themselves more closely than ever
before to the complicated ceremonialism of their national religion.

Just adjoining and opening out of Gamaliel’s main auditorium was a
commodious hall, known as the Lyceum, which was used for the informal
disputations of the pupils of the assembly. Here at stated times were
discussed various questions of philosophy, law, theology, and especially
the doctrines and interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures. On these
occasions, which were quite distinct from the regular and official
exercises of the assembly, some one of the students often presided, and
the sessions were open to the public of all classes. Here were often
gathered Jews of high and low degree, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and
publicans, both from the city and provinces, with a sprinkling of Greeks
and Romans; so that not infrequently there were seen mingled in the mass
the broad phylactery of a Rabbi, the gorgeous costume of a centurion, or
the gilded helmet of a soldier of the garrison. The Holy City was full of
factions, some of which were bigoted, fanatical, and even bloodthirsty;
and often representatives of these classes would be found in the Lyceum,
drawn thither by the warmth and excitement of the disputations. Nothing
less than the iron grip of Rome could keep all these pent‐up elements in
outward order and subjection; but, in spite of all repression, outbreaks
and persecutions were frequent.

Slightly raised and back of the tribune from which the speakers made their
arguments was a gallery reserved for women, who were freely admitted to
these informal debates.

The Roman rule, though politically tyrannous, was entirely tolerant, as to
all questions of philosophy and religion, so long as its own political
control was not disturbed. It did not trouble itself about the institutes
of Moses, the Psalms of David, the messages of the prophets, the
speculations of Greek philosophy, or the doctrines of the scribes and
Pharisees, so long as Cæsar’s mandates were unquestioned and his tribute
willingly rendered.



                               CHAPTER VI
                         TO THE TOWER OF ANTONIA


            “Whom the gods destroy they first make mad.”


“God is a jealous God, and he will not be the God of the heathen until
they submit and bow to him as the God of Israel! They are accursed!”

It was the voice of Saulus; and his words, uttered in vehement tones, rang
through the Lyceum. His countenance was flushed, hands tightly clinched,
and his gestures violent.

A tumult of applause followed from the ultra‐Pharisaical party, who were
all partisans of Saulus.

The hall was thronged with a motley crowd from the streets, including
people of all degrees, as well as the pupils of Gamaliel. The disputation
was one of unwonted fervor, so that several were finally drawn into it who
had come in only as lookers‐on. The Rabban was not present; and, as the
controversy became heated, the young student who was presiding found it
impossible to preserve any semblance of order.

Victor Serenus arose to answer the argument of Saulus, who had ended a
long harangue for Jewish exclusiveness with the words above given. His
commanding presence, serene bearing, and perfect self‐command caused a
sudden hush. With dignified mien and a graceful wave of the hand he
commenced his argument.

“I bring you peace, but I must judge righteously. I also am a Jew of the
Dispersion, but must call in question the conclusion of the matter as
given by my friend Saulus. As a native of Alexandria, a friend of Philo,
and a disciple of the eminent and tolerant Rabban, my voice is for
spiritual freedom. To‐day, O fellow‐members of the Assembly! I openly wash
my hands of the ‘mint, anise, and cummin’ of the sect of the Pharisees. I
hesitate no longer to boldly affirm the truth which I have long felt
stirring within me. The traditions taught by the scribes and elders have
become burdens upon men’s shoulders too grievous to be longer borne. God
is God over all, and no respecter of persons. He is not merely a tribal
Deity, local and Jewish, but the Father of all nations and peoples to the
ends of the earth.”

The liberal faction, including a few Greeks and Romans who were scattered
among the throng, signified their approval, while the adherents of Saulus
cried out with fierce exclamations of condemnation.

A little apart from the common seats, in the gallery of the women, was a
place especially reserved for the wives and daughters of the Rabban and
his friends. Here was seated a young girl who was an interested observer
of the disputation. As we shall have somewhat to do with her in the
future, a brief introduction is not amiss. Her features, which were mildly
of the Jewish type, were very regular and beautiful, and her bearing and
expression bore evidence of grace and refinement. Her form was of medium
size, willowy and symmetrical; and from under rather prominent brows and
lashes shone out large soft dark eyes, radiantly expressive and ingenuous.
She was in the early flush of youth. A richly embroidered Syrian gauze
scarf was wrapped lightly about her head; and her dark locks, which
slightly curled, were loosely gathered in a light golden clasp, which was
ornamented with pearls, at the back of the neck. She wore a robe of
delicate hue, which was clasped lightly about her form, simply but richly
ornamented. While outwardly serene, there seemed to be that within the
damsel which, perchance, could be stirred into a tempest of feeling, and
melt the outward reserve by its warmth and intensity. If there was the
slight semblance of coldness, it was so thin as to be almost transparent.
She bore a dignified air of quality, not as signifying pride or
exclusiveness, but as if the outward form was only the setting of a
precious gem. A spiritual interpreter would have divined the subtile
individual richness as rare soul‐quality. But withal her eyes were the
dazzling feature of her whole personality. They might truly be defined as
both melting and penetrative. The warmth of a pure and lovely soul was
poured out through them.

As the tumult continued, Victor Serenus turned about; and while carelessly
surveying the throng, his glance met that of the damsel, which seemed to
be intently fastened upon him. Serenus was thrilled, as by an electric
shock, and for a moment forgot the uproar, his argument—himself. The
innocent cause of this unwonted perturbation was Amabel, the only daughter
of the Rabban. The clamor of the throng died away, and Serenus quickly
recovered himself and continued,—

“Judaism must have a higher and freer development, for the spirit of the
law hath been killed by the letter. O brothers of the assembly! We must
free ourselves from an entanglement of dead ordinances and ceremonies, and
be interpreters of the truth, not only to the Gentiles, but to the
families of Israel. If ye have an indwelling experience of a divine faith,
the outward letter of sacrifices, anointings, phylacteries, and disfigured
faces is but chaff and without meaning. O my brothers! we must, from the
heart, have such a purity of mind and thought that our very bodies shall
become incarnations of divinity. A true revelation of the Spirit of Truth
is not vouchsafed unto the worldly‐wise and prudent, but to the childlike,
the poor in spirit, and the pure in heart. The heavenly germ is within;
but no man knoweth it, until it be quickened into life, when it bringeth
forth a witness of fruits,—love, joy, peace, and healing. I adjure you,
that as ye live unto the flesh or even after ceremonial traditions, ye
shall reap a Gehenna in yourselves and in your members. Ye say: ‘Behold we
have Abraham to our father;’ but ye are not his children unless ye show
forth his spirit.”

“Behold the blasphemer!” cried Saulus, interrupting. “He sets at naught
the religion of our fathers, and reviles the God of Israel! He slanders
the priests of the Temple, and makes light of the Circumcision! Away with
him!”

Saulus and his partisans rose up to lay hold of him; but in a moment
Serenus was surrounded by a body of defenders, who insisted that he should
be heard. The clamor increased until the chairman called upon a centurion,
who was in the midst, to order the tumult stayed. The Roman captain slowly
arose, and with an air of mingled dignity and disdain, commanded silence.

“By the gods of Cæsar! Young Hebrews, to your seats! Be ye circumcised or
uncircumcised, the Roman will have order, and save you from each other!
Silence! A cell in yonder Tower gapes for him who doth not heed! Now,
young disputant, finish thine oration!”

Victor Serenus still stood calmly in his place in the tribune, without a
trace, either of anger or fear, in his countenance. The noise was stilled,
and he resumed.

“Men of the assembly, and friends! The time is at hand for a proclamation
of righteousness. We declare that the cup of Pharisaical hypocrisy and
violence is filled to the full. The spirit of the prophets of Israel is
worm‐eaten and corrupted, and the ordinances of the Law have become a
stumbling‐block. I proclaim deliverance from the bondage and leadership of
blind guides. The Jewish economy must be rent in twain, and the true
separated from the false. I am persuaded that our worthy master, the
Rabban, discerns signs of reformation. I proclaim a new heaven and a new
earth; for old things will pass away. A judgment is nigh, and will not
long tarry. The God of the whole earth is to be worshipped by Jew and
Gentile alike. The religion of the Hebrew is to burst its bonds; for with
it must be mingled the best of the philosophy, mind, and ideals of the
Greek and other Gentile nations. The many shall become as one, through the
truth which sets men free. I feel the spirit of prophecy upon me, and have
been constrained to give it utterance.”

He involuntarily turned, and the maiden’s eyes were still radiantly
centred upon him.

He then took his seat.

The chairman arose, and beckoned for silence.

“The chief disputants having made their arguments, the discussion is now
open to others.”

But before the last words had fallen from his lips, Saulus was again upon
his feet.

“The pestilent Hellenist is a base traducer of the Chosen People.”

A tumult was again raised; and a score were on their feet speaking, or
beckoning for a chance to be heard.

“Away with the heretic!”

“Serenus is right!”

“Down with the Alexandrian!”

“Traitors to the Law of Moses!”

“The zealots are mad!”

“Take them to the valley of Gehenna!”

“Blasphemer of the holy prophets!”

“Great is Serenus! Defend him!”

“Kill him, and do God service,” cried Saulus.

Half a score of menacing fists were stretched out toward Serenus, while as
many more forcibly held them back. The noise of the tumult drew together a
great rabble.

The second outbreak had been so sudden that the centurion was taken by
surprise, but he again made himself heard.

“Dogs of Jews!” he cried, “I am minded to let ye devour one another as ye
deserve!”

But after a moment’s hesitation, he continued,—

“Rome will rule the circumcised, if they cannot rule themselves.”

Then calling upon two or three Roman soldiers, who were among the throng,
he gave command, pointing to Saulus,—

“_Take him to the Tower!_”

The rabble were awed and fell back; the partisans of Saulus melted away,
and he was seized, and hurried away to the Tower of Antonia.



                               CHAPTER VII
                       A TARSIAN FESTIVAL TO APOLLO


The morning was bright; and a light, cool breeze from the Taurus mountains
swept down the valley of the Cydnus, bathing the city of Tarsus with its
freshness. The sun had just risen, and was beginning to quaff his fill of
mist and dew, and to kiss with a golden sheen the towers, roofs, sails,
and masts of the Cilician metropolis. But though the hour was yet early,
the city was already astir. Buyers and sellers in the open markets by the
city gates were scattered in little groups, and chaffered over their
traffic with the easy air of Oriental contentment. The streets and lanes
wore a more busy aspect than was wont; and the number of people in festal
costumes, hurrying to and fro with garlands and palm‐branches in their
hands, betokened a general holiday.

              “As sweet and musical
  As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair;
  And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
  Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.”

It was the most important of the festivals of Apollo, and was celebrated
annually by a grand procession to the chief temple of the city; followed
by sacrifices, priestly rites and ceremonies, oracular messages and
predictions, sorcery and soothsaying, ending at night, with orgies which
characterized the Oriental city of the period.

The main temple with its oracle, consecrated to the gods of Tarsus, was
situated in the midst of a large garden in the extreme northwestern, or
most elevated part of the city. It commanded a charming view of the
beautiful Cydnus for nearly its whole length, as it wound its way, like a
silver thread, through the plain in its course from the distant mountains
to the sea. The ground about the temple was tastefully laid out with
walks, vine‐clad summer‐houses, fountains, grottos, groups of sycamore and
palm trees, and at short intervals adorned with statues, vases, and other
creations of Greek art and handiwork.

The blossoms of the bending branches of spicy plants loaded the air with
sweet odors, which held the visitor in the delicate bonds of a subtile
enchantment. The oleander and jasmine, rose and lilac, tulip and lily,
each lent its charm to the chorus of beauty and exhalation. Bounteous
Nature was drawn upon to the utmost for rich contributions to consecrate
Apollo’s great temple‐garden, and enhance its mystical fascination.

In threading one’s way through this sensuous paradise, one would often
find himself at the entrance of some graceful booth, where a priest or
priestess of Apollo would dispense love‐philtres, or be inquired of
concerning the misty future, peradventure to its complete unveiling.

The temple itself was built of Parian marble, and surrounded by a porch,
with a row of lofty Corinthian columns in front, and a corresponding
peristyle, surmounted by an entablature, stretching out from either side.
The pediments were richly covered with designs in _alto‐rilievo_. Among
them were representations of Apollo, Diana, the setting sun, Hercules
slaying the Hydra, Dionysus and a Giant, Fauns, Bacchantes, and triumphal
processions. In the _pronaos_, or vestibule, there was a series of broad
panels, upon which were inscribed maxims from the Seven Sages of Greece.

Beyond the vestibule, on either side were two overflowing fountains, each
surrounded with statues of Triton, Neptune, Amphitrite, Apollo slaying the
great serpent Pytho, with other gods, goddesses, Nymphs, and Dryads.
Invalids who drank of a certain fountain, or bathed in it, and were
healed, threw pieces of money into it as a recompense. In the back part of
the _cella_ was the great hearth with the perpetual fire; and in the
_adytum_, or inner shrine, were the sacred tripod and other mysteries of
the sanctum. Below this was a subterranean chamber, from the sacred
recesses of which ascended the vapor of prophecy.

The oracular messages were often conveyed by dreams, preceding which,
fasting was customary, followed by sacrifices, and sleeping upon the skin
of the animal which had been offered. Other auguries were received in
writing, sometimes by means of the “descending pencil” which hung
suspended, and wrote by invisible, though intelligent and fateful impulse.
Sealed communications on parchment also received answers from occult and
mysterious sources.

Magic, prophecy, and oracular deliverances were not peculiar to the great
Oracle at Delphi, but common in the less noted temples of other cities.
The offices of priest and soothsayer were blended. The favor and guidance
of the gods were invoked upon every undertaking, and through sacrifice and
propitiation offered their friendly aid was bestowed. Nothing was
undertaken without their sanction, whether going to war, engaging in
business, or making love. The healing of invalids, augury, and the
interpretation of visions, were not only legal and ethical, but they
formed an integral part of religion.

To the modern student of mental phenomena it is interesting to look back
upon the multiform manifestations of mind in the past. Under the reign of
polytheism, everything—including even the inner psychological forces that
are common to all—was deified. Each phenomenon was due to the action of
some “god.” But after all, when we get below the surface of things, is the
change a very radical one? The “god,” with them, is some divine orderly
law with us. Either term involves the idea of a force which is more or
less mysterious. They were destitute of the understanding of the inherent
unity and inter‐relation of all things, and consequently each phenomenon
was disconnected from its relations, and directly credited to a special
deity. There was no idea of a great comprehensive Unit. The universe of
mind and matter was a fragmentary mass. Its various factions were presided
over by deities who were often warring against each other. The great
modern inspiration is, not only cosmic oneness, but universality of law.
Even the monotheism of the Jew was largely mechanical and incongruous.

Law as all pervading with the latest refinement—its unvarying beneficence,
when correctly interpreted—furnishes the key which will resolve age‐long
mysteries. With the present understanding of the creative power of mental
states, and the potency of thought, even when set in motion by motives of
pure superstition, much of the remarkable phenomena of the past can be
interpreted and rendered congruous. The prophecies, oracular messages,
healings, divinations, soothsaying, and other “miraculous” transactions of
history, though doubtless often exaggerated, have an important basis of
truth. They are in accord with the legitimate or illegitimate use of laws
now measurably understood. As we become increasingly aware of the
possibilities of hypnotism, telepathy, the sub‐conscious mind, suggestion,
psychical development, and spiritualistic experiences, the strange things
of both ancient and later times are seen to be natural and explainable.
The so‐called “supernatural” was just what might have been expected under
the known conditions. There was no suspension of universal law, but only
the orderly result of real forces which exist in man, even though often
unrecognized and misused.

Under both the Gentile and Jewish economies, there was an endless mass of
occurrences, attributed to special deific intervention, but all belong to
the realm of the one Divine unchangeable and universal order. This has
never been suspended and never will be, for God does not contradict
himself. Prophets and priests could perform “wonderful works” through the
medium of principles which they could not define. Miraculous colorings are
always in the eyes of the beholder. Human equipment, which has had much
unintelligent employment, is now clearly interpreted.

But withal, it may be questioned, whether it be not better to attribute
too much to “the gods” than—like some moderns—to become so coldly agnostic
and _pseudo_‐scientific as to deny everything which is above the plane of
the material and sensuous.



“The gods favored thee, fair lady.”

These words were addressed to Rebecca, the daughter of Benoni.

She turned to see from whence they came.

“Say not the gods, my good woman, but the God of Israel.”

Rebecca and her father were returning from the morning service of the
synagogue, and had halted for a moment to make some trifling purchase at a
small bazaar. Rebecca observed that the woman who had spoken, and who
seemed to be an assistant in the bazaar, was surveying her with unwonted
interest.

“What would’st thou?” said the Jewish maiden.

“Forgive me, but thy sweet face brings a terrible vision before me. Thou
hast not forgotten the _palace_ and the _storm_?”

The scene of two years before flashed upon her. A shudder ran through her
frame. Her color fled, and for a brief moment she again lived over the
tragic experience. But waving aside the hideous recollection, she quickly
commanded herself, and greeted Chloe with a warm salutation, and then
turning to her father, said,—

“O my father! this is the woman who led our way out of the lion’s den.”

“The blessing of the God of The Chosen People be upon thee,” said Benoni.
“His thunderbolts and your good guidance gave me back my scions. Art thou
yet a slave?”

“Alas! I am still in bondage.”

“I will pay thy ransom; and, if thou wilt, thou shalt serve in my house
for liberal hire.”

Chloe fell on her knees, and with tears of gratitude thanked her kind
benefactor in the name of all the gods, but was again reminded of the
Hebrew Jehovah.

Just then the distant echoes of cymbals, trumpets, and songs, which
betokened the coming of the great festal procession, fell upon the ears of
the trio. It was manifest that its line of march was to be directly
through the street into which the portal of the bazaar opened, where they
were standing. Casting their eyes down the long vista toward the
approaching column, they were spellbound by its grandeur as it threaded
its way with slow elastic rhythm through the crowded thoroughfare. It was
on its joyous march to the garden and temple of Apollo.

Benoni was first to break the silence.

“Verily, the heathen rage and imagine a vain thing, but the enemies of the
Lord shall yet be sore vexed.”

Soon the thud of hoofs and the rumble of wheels betokened a company of
charioteers which composed the advance division of the pageant. Each
chariot was richly decorated with chaplets and ribbons, and drawn by three
horses abreast, of the same color, all gorgeously caparisoned.

The charioteers were chanting a chorus:—

  “Since life’s so short, we’ll live to laugh.
    Ah! wherefore waste a minute!
  If youth’s the cup we yet can quaff,
    Be love the pearl within it!”

Near the front, and abreast of each other, were two charioteers who merit
a description somewhat more in detail. The prancing steeds driven by one
were snowy white, and those of the other jet black. The driver of the
latter was tall and erect, with head thrown back, long black curly hair,
dark complexion, strong face, Roman nose, and a physical organization
which might be the envy of an athlete. His head was bare, with the
exception of a wreath of myrtle, likewise his throat, arms, and legs below
the knee. His tunic was of crimson fabric, woven of silk, gathered by a
girdle of gold chain, and clasped in front by an elaborate jewelled
ornament.

The other was more delicate in complexion, with wavy brown hair, dark blue
eyes, and refined features of the Grecian cast. A chaplet of laurel
encircled his brow, his throat and arms were bare, and an easy
gracefulness characterized every movement. The skirt of his belted tunic,
of soft white woollen fabric, dropped to the knee, and was decorated with
a border of gold embroidery. The throat, arms, and legs, where exposed,
had a pearly whiteness which betokened a perfect service of baths, oils,
and polishing. He was lighter in build and less stern in demeanor than his
companion, and there was a sparkle in his eyes which certified to a warm
and poetic temperament. They had arrived at a point just opposite where
the three were standing, when Chloe gave a start, and turning, grasped the
arm of Rebecca.

“See! see! It is”—

But the fair Jewess recognized them at the same moment, and quickly turned
her back upon the cruel faces of hateful recollection.



                              CHAPTER VIII
                      THE MYSTERIES OF THE _ADYTUM_


Tarsus gave itself up with full abandon to the festival. The Tarsian
religion of the period, though outwardly adorned by the polish of Greek
art, letters, and philosophy, was largely orgiastic and Oriental in its
internal character. The popular faith contained a strange mixture of
Greek, Roman, Phrygian, Phœnician, and even Egyptian elements, for the
mingling of which the intermediate situation of the Cilician metropolis
was especially favorable. In Greece itself, a terrible decadence had taken
place since the earlier philosophy and idealism of Pythagoras, Socrates,
and Plato; but in Tarsus, the religion, though nominally Grecian, was
permeated with the fanaticism and magic of Eastern cults. It was sensual,
superstitious, and spectacular, though it had an iridescent Hellenic film
of grace and beauty.

But with all the depravity of the period, there was a spontaneity and
natural optimism, which, while not atoning for its excesses, should not be
left out of the account. A hard and narrow asceticism, which during
mediæval ages made life “a bed of spikes,” was the future great sweep of
the human pendulum to the other extreme. If there was less seriousness,
there was at the same time less pessimism and morbidity. The ripening
process in humanity is a matter of millenniums, and only in the broad
sunshine of the higher evolutionary philosophy can proper adjustments and
allowances for wide vibrations be made.

The law of correspondence is universal. The relation between the seen and
the unseen is not only intimate but perfectly fitting. The soul, whether
of low or high attainment, has its extension into, and connection with,
spiritual forces of its own quality and on its own plane. By a subtle
mysterious union, each mingles with its own. Like attracts like. But yet
lives of selfishness and sensuality have within them the germs of finer
instincts; and sooner or later, when needed lessons have been learned,
there will be a drawing upward of the divinity, now latent within, toward
its transcendent correspondence, even though the recognition long be dim.

Evil is a misdirection of forces within that are good _per se_.

Every one has some supreme ideal; and for the present this concept, even
though low and limited, is to him godlike—in fact, his god. Human ideals
of God are ever to rise and become more perfect, for man has all
potentiality within him.

Linked with all the corruption of the sensuous age in question, there was
a strong impulse toward worship. Pantheism recognized a divine ordination
of all possible unseen forces, as well as seen objects; and then, in order
not to miss the fulness of religion, it erected altars to the “unknown
God.” The instinct of deific devotion was great in quantity, but low in
quality. The sacred mysteries were all absorbing, but took little hold
upon the moral nature.

Weighed by the delicate but immutable balances of thought‐quality, the
morals of the various ages might not be so dissimilar. Vice is no less
vice when it is secretive. The world has learned to dissemble. Before the
present age can greatly boast of its own moral purity, as compared with
that of the past, it must apply the inner as well as the external test.
Even low instincts, when idealized and sanctified, are in some measure
purified by the quality of thought concerning them. If by the accepted
ethics of one age, a certain course of conduct be not only regular but
correct, and by those of another low and vile, who shall declare that
their moral quality is identical? Judgment, to be just, must be tempered,
or at least somewhat relative rather than absolute. An age which held that
every real force, sex‐principle, and sensuous or artistic instinct was
some manifestation of, or in close relation with the Deity, or deities,
should be studied in the clarifying light of the evolutionary philosophy.

While the majority of the Tarsian population did not join the procession,
they generally surrendered fully to the exuberant spirit of the occasion,
thereby pleasing themselves and gaining the favor of the gods. The morning
was superb; and the great moving human panorama began to unroll itself
from the lower part of the city, in a stream, kaleidoscopic in its
changes, toward the temple. The chariots, in column two abreast, led the
way, crowding back the dense mass of people on either side, thereby
clearing a path for the less resistant portions of the great procession.
These were followed by companies of men, dressed in various symbolic
costumes, bearing offerings and instruments which pertained to the
mysteries of prophecy, music, poetry, and medicine, and the other arts and
muses. Some bore banners, inscribed with occult signs and emblems; others
swung smoking censers with a slow rhythmical measure which corresponded to
the march. Then followed a long procession of girls, chanting and dancing
to the measured time of the music of tabourets and harps which vibrated to
their own light touch. Their long hair was thrown loosely back to the soft
breeze; their faces, necks, and arms fully exposed to the sunlight, and
their lithe, shapely forms and white limbs were but lightly veiled by
free‐flowing pink or golden‐hued robes. There were priests wearing tall
cone‐shaped hats, and priestesses with hair coiled and intertwined with
symbolic leaves, flowers, and garlands, some wearing charms and amulets,
and waving their wands to the beat of the movement. Some bore bunches of
grapes or other fruits, and others carried small cornucopias of spices and
sweets for their rich odors and for consumption upon the altars which were
about the temple. There were also cows, sheep, and goats, bedecked with
trappings, ribbons, and garlands, for sacrifice, or other symbolic
ceremonies and priestly rites.

Everything beautiful in nature,—its flowers, trees, birds, air, and
sunshine, lent their charm for the enrichment of the service to the
Tarsian gods, and the honor of their temple. The chariots of Marcius and
Leander were prominent in the procession, side by side.

“Shades of Daphne! Marcius, I saw old Chloe, and a beautiful young Jewess
with her, in the rabble just past.”

“Ah! I have seen the features of that charmer before! Mine eyes deceive me
not! Dost thou recall the storm, the lightning, the crash, and thine own
discomfiture? Methinks thou wert dreaming at that particular moment.”

“By Pallas! I am not unmindful that the gods kept us from a threatened
descent to the shades of Pluto.”

“Ah, my gallant! But with that I cannot forget that the cage was rent, and
the bird flew out.”

“Send regrets to the breezes, stern Roman! The Muse whispers that we may
yet,—

  ‘Wreathe then the roses, wreathe,
  The Beautiful still is ours;
  While the stream shall flow, and the sky shall glow,
  The Beautiful still is ours.’”

“A truce to thine overflowing poetic sentiment, Leander; but to return to
events. Dost thou think that old Chloe recognized us?”

“Peradventure not, though her eyes are sharp; but what recks it? Doubtless
she thinks we perished in the ruin, else she would have returned. The dead
has buried its dead.”

“But the dead sometimes rise, my effeminate Greek.”

“Dost thou believe in spirits?”

“Too well I know them. They are more in number than the gods.”

“What of signs, omens, and dreams?”

“I believe the most impossible dreams may become true.”

“Dost thou think there are life and feeling and motion beyond the Styx,
Marcius?”

“Shades of Hades! I do. But I would rather be a slave beneath the sun than
a king in the Cimmerian regions of the under‐world.”

“I believe nothing, Marcius. Thou art superstitious. Show me a shade from
the under‐world, and I will give him a hearty greeting.

  ‘Away with your stories of Hades,
  Which the Flamen has forged to affright us.
  We laugh at your three Maiden Ladies,
  Your Fates—and your sullen Cocytus.’”

“A graceful turn to a shady subject, and quite worthy of thine ever ready
Muse. But, nevertheless, shades there are, my poet, and perchance they may
yet give thee an unwelcome greeting.”

“Black or white, I invite them!

  ‘Oh! blest be the bright Epicurus,
    Who taught us to laugh at such fables;
  On Hades they wanted to moor us,
    But his hand cut the terrible cables.’”

“We approach the temple. I have heard that in the mysterious recesses of
the _adytum_ one may receive, not only responses from the Oracle, but,
perchance, messages from the ghosts of the departed. Wilt thou enter the
inner shrine, and envelop thyself in the vapor of mystical enchantment?”

“I will gladly greet all the shapeless spirits that come, even an endless
procession, but I count them dull and insipid. Give me shapely form and
graceful feature! I quaff real wine and not an empty goblet.”

“We will penetrate to the heart of the mysteries and inquire our fate. The
gods grant us an unveiling.

“But see! We are at the end of our route, and the temple with all its
riches is before us. Thou hast managed thy steeds well, luxurious Greek.
Charioteer! poet! gallant! and now seeker of mysteries!”

The procession wound gracefully through the peristyle on one side and back
on the other, thence into the avenues of the great garden, finally losing
itself and melting away in its intricate mazes.

After sending away their chariots by attendants, Marcius and Leander
lingered for some time among the bowers and grottoes of the temple
grounds.

Among the bewildering charms of the garden was a shimmering pond in its
midst, the banks of which were decked with groves of lotus and blooming
rose‐trees. Clustered around the numerous statues, delicate jets of
perfumed water threw up their fine spray, and loaded the air with aromatic
fragrance. Graceful shallops, shaped like swans or fish, moved about in
the pond, filled with lightly draped rowers of both sexes, whose gilded
oars kept time to the music of harps and citharæ, played by girls in
unnumbered smaller craft which circled around them. Some were dressed as
Sirens, covered with green net‐work in imitation of scales. Trooping out
from among high clusters of plants and flowers were groups disguised as
Fauns, Satyrs, Nymphs, and Dryads, playing on tabourets, drums, flutes, or
tambourines. The water of the pond responsively heaved to the rhythm of
oars which beat in unison. As night drew on, the echoes of voices, horns,
and trumpets grew louder; and the votaries of Bacchus and Venus, amid
shouts and laughter, threw all restraint to the winds. On the shores and
terraces shone swarms of lights, while other parts of the groves were dark
and hidden.

It was late in the evening when Marcius and Leander, satiated and sobered
by the excesses of the day, entered, arm in arm, the _pronaos_ of the
temple. On each side were low seats, comfortably cushioned; and by a
mutual impulse they sat down for a little rest before penetrating farther
into the interior. The Roman seemed in a dejected mood. His black eyes
were heavy and dull; and his mien, usually so haughty and imperious, was
tame and passive. He turned towards Leander.

“Life is a hollow mockery. When shall my eyes open to the true Olympus,
where real gods make their abode? I feel a strange unrest, and confess
myself weary of the Tarsian deities.”

“Ah, my high and mighty Marcius! Thou art downcast to‐night. Get rid of
thyself,—that is, drive away thy thoughts.”

“My thoughts are too deep to be rooted out. They hold me in thraldom!
Genius decays! Vice vanquishes virtue! How will it all end? What has the
unseen future in store for us?”

“Leave the future! The gods serve us to‐day as we serve them. To‐day! to‐
day is all!

  ‘If hope is lost and freedom fled,
  The more excuse for pleasure.’”

“By all the divinities of Rome! Nothing less than the oars of Charon
himself will ever break thine everlasting trail of poetry. But a truce to
thy chatter! Let us to the Mysteries and inquire our respective fates!”

“Perchance they will brighten thy spirits and calm thy temper.”

Slowly rising, they made their way into the _cella_ of the temple.

The perpetual fire was burning upon the great sacred hearth; and before it
were a few persons who had prostrated themselves, each waiting the slow
turn for their introduction to the inner Mysteries. The _cella_ was
unlighted save by the fitful glare of the fire on the hearth. The strange
symbols and inscriptions which covered the walls and ceiling produced a
weird and unearthly effect.

In a recess, just above the fire, were great gilded, interlaced triangles,
and over those the symbolic Winged Globe. These were surrounded with
divine monograms, emblems of the powers of Nature. On the ceiling was a
large design of the crux Ansata, the oldest known hieroglyph, also the
Greek divine Logos representing inner illumination. The walls were covered
with other mysterious characters,—the key of Hermes, the serpent in a
circle, cabalistic names, a talisman of Pythagoras, monogram of Fire, or
the generative principle, symbolisms of the divine Wreath, hieroglyph of
Eros, monograms of the three Delphic mysteries and the re‐born soul. Harps
of Æolia which hung in the valves of the outer walls filled the air with
sweet and plaintive melody in fitful measure.

Marcius and Leander waited for a full hour at the sacred fire for the
numbers to be called which would give them their turn for an introduction
to the inner _Mysteria Sacra_. A feeling of awe gradually crept through
their souls—a sense of having left the world behind. Unseen influences
were bearing down upon them. The hieroglyphs seemed alive and engaged in
an ominous dance, frowning upon them and calling them to judgment. They
grasped each other’s hands, and looked into each other’s eyes to reassure
themselves.

At length the number of Marcius was called, and he was ushered into the
_adytum_. The valve closed behind him; and as he passed forward, there
hung, directly overhead, a great flaming symbol of the _Mysteria
Eleusinia_. Its brightness slowly faded until, in a little time, it only
cast a dim blue ghastly light in flashes, so that he could see but
indistinctly. He was impelled still farther on, and soon a cool breeze
swept gently up from cavernous depths below. The walls melted and
retreated; and the courageous Roman, nearly overcome, pinched himself to
find if he were still in the body. He involuntarily turned to retreat, but
the valve had disappeared.

“Am I alive? or is this Hades?”

But see! a vapor ascends in the dim blue light from the cavernous realm
below. It winds itself upward, and anon within it there are great
forbidding and uncanny Shapes; and with bedeviled mien, leering faces, and
ominous gestures they beckon to Marcius.

Soon a pungent aromatic odor diffused itself through the air, which
mysteriously stilled his excited senses so that he regained his wonted
composure.

The column of vapor rolled itself up, growing more dense, and anon
something like a defined form slowly gathered itself together from it. For
a little time the dim misty light only revealed indistinct outlines; but
soon it grew clearer, and advanced a step toward Marcius, a part of the
vaporous cloud forming a soft background. The transformation now became
rapid, and anon there stood before him a beautiful young woman. With a
flash of recognition the heart of the Roman leaped to his throat.

“Marcius!”

“Alethea!”

The light increased; and the form, in every detail, stood out with
lifelike color and distinctness. She wore a long silvery white robe, the
folds of which were lightly gathered by a girdle, and swept in easy lines
to her feet. The bare neck, arms, and shoulders were of a pale rose‐color
or flesh‐tint, and the bosom palpitated with emotion. The face was clear,
calm, and natural, with an expression of sadness about the eyes; and the
blond hair, thrown lightly behind the shoulders, reached below the waist.
There was breath and life.

“Alethea! Dost thou still live? Was thy death, then, an idle tale? Whence
camest thou to this place?”

“Marcius! I come from the world of spirits.”

“Surely, thou art no ghost! Thy bosom heaves with life, and thine eyes
glisten with warm emotion. Let me again fold thy beautiful form to my
breast, and feel thy warm breath; for I love thee still.”

“Marcius! thou wert false, _heartless—cruel_! I loved thee with a pure and
single devotion. After deceiving me, thou didst cast me off.”

“Oh, say not so! Try me once again and I will be”—

“Nay, thy time has past. Thou art incapable of love, and it shall remain
unknown to thee. Thy baseness hath blasted it forever! From henceforth the
world shall be to thee a wilderness.”

“Alethea! curse me not! Thou art living flesh and blood! Thou hast not
died! Come to me once more!”

“Marcius, I curse thee not! but mortals must reap as they have sown.”

“Not so! I will persuade thee! Alethea, thou shalt again be mine!”

He advanced, and clasped her in his embrace. But his arms encircled only
the _thin, cold air_.

It grew suddenly dark, and voices and groans and shrieks echoed from all
directions. Thrusting his fingers in his ears, and with a chill which
penetrated to his very bones, he turned and fled to the _cella_.



                               CHAPTER IX
                     SOLILOQUY OF GAMALIEL’S DAUGHTER


              “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her
                                                                 cunning.”


The tumultuous concourse at Gamaliel’s Lyceum dispersed; and Saulus was
conveyed, under guard, to the Tower of Antonia. Amabel, who had remained
in her seat, catching every note of the disputation with intense interest
until its end, stole quietly through the boisterous throng as it hurried
into the street, and rapidly made her way toward home. The palace of her
father, the Rabban, was situated on Mount Zion, a little to the northeast
of the palace of Herod, and commanded a fine view of the Holy City and its
environs. As she passed into the entrance‐hall, she started directly to
acquaint her father with the scene at the Lyceum, but found herself
stirred by emotions so unusual that she was impelled to pass the portal of
his library, and go quietly to her own apartment. She must have time to
think. The air seemed oppressive; and she hurriedly made her way to the
house‐top, where there was a secluded nook to which she often resorted for
study and meditation. Throwing herself into an easy seat, which was
sheltered by a light canopy, she mechanically looked down upon the gilded
towers, domes, and white roofs which were spread out below.

The sun, which was just sinking, seemed to linger a little upon the summit
of the western mountains, sportively shooting back his rays, and tinting
through and through the fleecy cloud‐forms which hung lightly over the
city, burnishing its bastioned walls and battlements. Just across the
valley of the Cheesemongers, and crowning the summit of Mount Moriah, was
the great Temple, with its endless courts, each marked by long rows of
white marble columns, and proudly lifting itself in the midst of all, the
Holy of Holies, wearing a crown of beaten gold. Here was the head and
heart of Judaism, including its religion, history, law, prophecy, and
patriotism, now, alas! shackled by the heavy hand of Rome, so that even
the simplest daily ritual was only possible by the gracious permission of
the enemy. From the valley immediately to the north the Towers of
Mariamne, Phasælus, and Hippicus lifted their proud heads; while to the
east, beyond the Kedron, the bold steeps of the Mount of Olives, scantily
clothed with fig‐trees and wild olives, were softened and bathed in a
purple haze, the parting gift of the orb of day. Jerusalem, and the
mountains round about her, were suffused with an ambient air of peace and
serenity.

But the soul of Amabel did not reflect the calm of the world outside. She
gave but a passing glance to the familiar surroundings which were wont to
be so attractive, because a new world within, but just discovered,
demanded attention.

As the loving and dutiful daughter of the Rabban, she was loyal to her
religion and people. She had been feared and educated in the light of its
more liberal teachings, and was deeply interested in their promulgation
and dominance. But the broader spiritual liberalism of Victor Serenus
appealed deeply to her. She started to review his earnest arguments, but
was surprised to find that her thoughts constantly glanced from the
oration to the orator. After several attempts at calm reasoning, Amabel
became impatient with herself. Intellectually gifted, she never before had
failed in the efficient command of her faculties. Her interest in religion
had been vital, and her devotion thorough; but all at once they seemed to
have faded in the light of a new vision which proved rudely aggressive.
Again she tried to gather up the eloquent line of reasoning; but anon a
mental image, its noble bearing, graceful gestures, manly form, and most
peculiarly “those eyes” seemed fastened upon her.

“What have I to do with thee?”

Her own question gave her a shock.

“My logic never before hath denied me service. Thou mysterious, stately,
haunting stranger! Why doth thine eyes shine upon me, and thy form possess
my imagination? I bid thee adieu!”

But beyond her control something had taken shape and life, and stood
before her, at the sight of which she was thrilled and spellbound. It was
an Ideal—her Ideal.

“Away, airy phantom! I will be myself!”

But an ideal that fits its place takes possession. It persistently makes
itself at home, and receives, not only deserved recognition, but a
conscious or unconscious welcome.

She tried to step outside of herself and look in, in order to interpret,
if possible, the vision from an impartial standpoint. Its charm was not
lessened.

A mind may be deeply intuitive, and even philosophical, and yet naïve and
artless. With a delightful and childlike simplicity, Amabel was
unconscious of her own loveliness.

She threw aside the light scarf from her head; and her hair, somewhat
disordered by the light breeze, played about the ivory neck which her
light robe partially displayed. Her cheeks were flushed, and her large
dark eyes unwontedly shining and liquid. Again she turned her gaze within.
More truly, the new and mysterious Thing which had possessed her was
there, rather than in the distance. Its correspondence or occasion might
be without, but it was a subjective force which stirred the Hebrew
maiden’s heart. There was a new, unfathomable, and heavenly quickening.
Something had been awakened which no power on earth could turn back to its
native slumbering latency.

The evening drew on, but she was unconscious of the flight of time. A
charming and divine unrest, which she could not dislodge if she would,
filled her soul. O daughter of humanity! who shall interpret thee to
thyself?

She looked out upon the lamps that twinkled over the Holy City, but saw
only the Ideal. The soft evening breeze that fanned her cheek whispered of
it, and even the starry heavens smiled upon her and reflected it back.

                             * * * * * * * *

The time sped on. Amabel was missed from the evening family repast; and it
was only after some apprehension and search that she was aroused from her
revery, and took her accustomed place in the household. It was taken for
granted that she had been sleeping.



Early on the following morning, Victor Serenus made his way to the palace
of Gamaliel, and sought an audience with the Rabban. This was not
difficult for any member of the assembly; and, besides, Serenus was
influential and favored. He was cordially received, and after being shown
to a seat proceeded to unfold the purpose of his visit.

“Most worthy Rabban, I crave thine indulgence for this liberty, but would
make a request in behalf of a fellow‐student.”

“What would’st thou, Serenus?”

“Perchance thou hast received a report of the tumult which took place
yesterday at the Lyceum.”

“I have been informed of the disorder, and also of the arrest of Saulus.”

“It is this which prompted me to call, and petition for thy clemency and
intervention in his behalf.”

“Was he not the leader of the disturbance, and did he not insult and
attack thee?”

“It was as thou sayest.”

“Doth not, then, his punishment seem fitting?”

“Most excellent master, it is plain that such would be the regular order
of procedure. A centurion was witness to the offence, and gave order for
the arrest. But yet I seek thy intervention for his pardon and release.”

“I do not understand thee, Serenus! Would’st thou have me set at naught
the ends of justice, even when administered by the unrighteous Roman?”

“Pardon, noble teacher, but Saulus is young and vehement. His zeal hath
hidden his wisdom, and I am persuaded that by this hour he may repent. He
is exceeding jealous for the faith of the Chosen People, even though the
spirit be swallowed up by the letter.”

“Is he still thy opponent, or dost thou come to me at his request?”

“Worthy Rabban, as my opponent, I forgive him. He is unaware of my
petition, and I would that he be not informed of the same.”

“Serenus, thou art a noble student, goodly in spirit and conduct, even
though thou seemest to have but light regard for our traditions. I commend
thee for thy good‐will toward thy fellow‐disciple, and will freely grant
thy request. I am persuaded that I can compass his release without formal
trial, for his transgression is of slight moment to the Romans. It was but
an excess of youthful zeal.”

Serenus was about to take his leave, when Amabel hastily entered the
library to make some slight request of her father. It was too late to
retreat, and in the twinkling of an eye she unexpectedly found herself
face to face with her own heroic mystery of the previous evening. The
Rabban had a kind heart, and without hesitation presented his gifted pupil
to his daughter.

Serenus made a graceful salutation, and at once recognized the radiant
eyes which had so disconcerted him at the Lyceum. He was about to quietly
withdraw, feeling that the forced introduction gave no warrant for
conversation, when Amabel broke the silence.

“I was present at the debate yesterday, and much interested in thine
argument.”

“Ah! I recall thy face as one that I noticed in the gallery of the women,
but was unaware that it was the daughter of the Rabban who thus honored
me.”

“Both thy reasoning and calm self‐command were much to thy favor,” she
softly replied; and then the thought of her boldness disconcerted her, and
brought a sudden flush of rich color to her cheeks.

A thought flashed upon Serenus, “How beautiful!” but the conversation was
not further continued.

But immediately regaining his composure, he graciously thanked the Rabban
and his daughter, and took his leave. But those large liquid eyes haunted
him. They seemed to be the outlet for a beautiful soul which spoke through
them.

Gamaliel repaired to the Tower of Antonia; and as no charge of violation
of Roman law had been entered against Saulus, the Rabban’s plea that the
offence was but a youthful misdemeanor was sufficient, and the young Jew
was set free. He was only made aware that he received his liberty through
the influence of Gamaliel, and at once inferred from this intercession
that the master was willing to forgive, or perchance approve, his over‐
zealous conduct on account of his unwavering faithfulness to doctrine.

After a light reprimand, he passed out from beneath the frowning
battlements of the Tower, and returned to his lodging in the Sheepmarket.
A warm greeting was given by the innkeeper and his family. They were
surprised to behold him at liberty; and Cassia was unwontedly joyful, but
her swollen eyes gave evidence of recent weeping.

The family of Almon were Pharisees of the strictest sect; and the inn was
the resort of a faction, composed of certain members of the assembly, of
whom Saulus was the acknowledged leader and champion.

“My young friend,” said Almon, warmly saluting him, “how didst thou so
soon loosen the iron grip of the Roman?”

“Verily, mine host Almon, the Rabban takes care of his own. Even the
Gentile tyrant holdeth him in respect. I am persuaded that his immediate
intercession may be a sign that the heresy of that apostate, Serenus, is
to be overthrown.”

“Were the keepers at the Tower kind to thee during thy captivity?”
inquired Cassia, with deep interest.

“Fair Cassia, I suffered no harm at their hands.”

“Surely, thou art wearied, and must needs have rest and nourishment
speedily.”

“My rest and refreshment will be to bring to naught the betrayers of the
faith of Israel, whether of the Jews or Gentiles!”

The maiden kept her fan in rapid motion, and nodded her satisfaction.

“Cæsar hath his foot on our necks,” continued Saulus; “but the time
draweth nigh when it will slip, and we shall arise. We are the seed of
Abraham; and though every Roman were a Cæsar, we shall throw off our yoke.
The keepers of covenants will inherit their promised rewards, and the
pulse of every Hebrew throbs at the coming deliverance. By the light of
Judean prophecy, I have a vision of the proud Roman as trodden dust.”

“May the rising and setting of the sun be hastened,” said Almon, “when the
Circumcision shall inherit the earth! But, O Lord of our fathers! how
long? The tramp of Roman legions shakes the land until it trembles like a
threshing‐floor beaten with flails! The breast of the Holy City is bruised
with hammers until her blood flows, and she is covered with wounds! Our
holy places are contemned, the oil of our anointing is wasted, and our
burnt offerings are defiled!”

“It is even so, O Almon; but Jehovah will spoil the power of Rome, and the
sophistry of the Greek will be an abomination. The horns of the Altar will
be exalted, and the Gentile bow to the wisdom of the Jew. But the heathen
never knew the God of Israel, and therefore cannot forget him. Cursed, and
thrice cursed be those who have learned the law and the prophets, and then
turn and make light of them. Cæsar’s hordes, in their ignorance, pay
homage to their vile divinities; but the reprobate Serenus and his
followers befoul our traditions, and abundantly deserve a resting‐place in
the valley of Gehenna. But for the heavy hand of Tiberius, the
Circumcision might now purify itself, and cast out its own dregs.”

At the first pause, the little Cassia again put in a plea.

“O my father! Saulus must be faint and weary. The food which I have
bespoken awaiteth him.”

The hour was not yet come for the common midday repast; so Saulus followed
her to the inner court, and Cassia with her own hands brought a wooden
platter upon which were some thin cakes, with honey, figs, and olives, and
a small silver amphora of wine. She watched him with satisfaction while he
partook of the frugal repast.

“We have missed thee, Saulus. We wot not but something terrible had
befallen thee.”

Her face was childlike and tender, and she seemed filled with gladness at
his deliverance.

“Little one, thou art kind to think of me.”

There was a quickening in his heart‐beat, and he drew a long breath as he
gazed upon her happy smile and dimpled cheeks. Her slight form was lithe
and shapely; her large eyes, arched by drooping lids, downcast, and the
full ripe lips, carelessly parted, seemed like those of a child. But in
the soft air of Judea, and under the genial warmth of an Oriental sun,
children, like plants, blossom early.

“Saulus, thou art brave! No other man so valiantly defendeth the religion
of our fathers. Would that I had been at the Lyceum to witness thy valor;
for of all young Hebrews, thou art the most gifted.”

“Thou dost honor me too much, little daughter of the house of Almon! But
thou art a graceful flower in the garden of Israel.”

He looked into her sweet, innocent face, and reverently took her hand, and
pressed it to his lips; then quickly turning, went out, and again passed
near the frowning Tower, upon which he cast a momentary scowl, as he made
his way up to the assembly on Mount Moriah.

On the evening of the same day, there was to be a meeting of the society
of the _Urim_.(4) This was a secret Pharisaic organization composed of
certain pupils of Gamaliel. Some were regular lodgers at the inn, but the
larger part were dwellers in other houses. Saulus had been chosen chief
officer, and its members were his zealous partisans. Their place of
meeting was in an upper hall in which about threescore persons could
comfortably convene. Though in an adjoining building, it could only be
entered from the inn of Almon. To reach it, it was necessary to ascend to
the roof, and pass through a long covered passage‐way, thence through a
small vestibule or anteroom.

The society designed to give Saulus a warm and befitting reception, in
acknowledgment of his valor shown upon the day before, and to becomingly
celebrate the release of their leader from the hated Tower.

The evening arrived, and the gathering was of unwonted interest, and the
ardor uncurbed. As they passed in, the members identified themselves, one
by one, by a certain symbolic phrase and gesture, given to the doorkeeper;
and soon the room was well filled. When all had assembled, the doors were
barred so that there could be no intrusion from without.



                                CHAPTER X
                    MAGIC AND MYSTERY: STRANGE VISIONS


Magic is limited to no race, age, or condition. Whatever the religion or
ethical system of a people, there are—underlying and intermingled—many
intangible and occult elements that are common to humanity. Often the
modern world comes into recognition of some veiled principle or
potentiality, and marks and christens it _de novo_, believing it to be an
original discovery. A deeper investigation, however, reveals evidences of
its power and presence, extending backward indefinitely. Both the real
mysteries and the superstitions that prevail during successive epochs
change their form of manifestation, but a slight excavation shows that the
same psychical germs and roots are indigenous to every soil.

The Hebrews, like other races, made research among all that is latent and
mystical in nature and man. Although more has been written regarding the
magic and occultism of the Chaldeans, Persians, and Greeks, yet a search
in the light of the Present, through the ancient Hebrew writings, shows
them to be crowded with accounts of psychical phenomena, though expressed
in historic terms. These were counted as supernatural, which signified
beyond the realm of law, and outside of the logical relation of cause and
effect. This view has continued in large degree down to the present time.
It was supposed that Jehovah was constantly revealing himself by special
volition through dreams, visions, trances, voices, and signs; and spirits,
both good and evil, are of frequent mention. Their chronological distance,
together with a preternatural glamour which has been cast upon them, has
caused their recorded phenomena to seem unique or special, rather than
universal. But they are intermingled with every system of worship which
the world has known.

Even the revelation of the divine has come through inward states of
consciousness rather than by outward observation. This is its orderly
method. The mind of man is ever sounding its own hidden deeps, and
striving to bring to light its infinite wealth of fundamental and occult
mysteries. It instinctively feels that there is a divine inlet at its
profound centre.

Creative art is ever transcending the real in its search for the coming
ideal. Even Nature herself is subservient to the mastery of Mind. A true
magic is divine; while its inversion and abuse,—sometimes called black
magic,—in the very nature of things, kindles Tartarean pains and
penalties.

Genius can never be satisfied with the world as it is, therefore it can
and must make a new one. Science discovers and classifies; while art,
which is but the name for active human imaging, is divine in that it
creates. Next in value to a seen Utopia is one which can be conjured into
existence, and such is awaiting every one’s command.

But magic, as commonly defined, is a two‐edged instrument. Misused, it
becomes evil _genii_, who summon foul shapes, and clothe them with
realism. Passions, hates, and evil imagings in the mist of mind sometimes
become solidified embodiments that haunt and persecute their creators. He
who peers into the raging billows of a disorderly imagination beholds
monsters into which he has breathed the breath of life.



The secret society of the _Urim_ had assembled, and the doors were closed.
Their meeting‐place was a remarkable occult study, for every decoration
and furnishing possessed some mystical or symbolic significance. In each
of the four corners, upon an elevated pedestal of white marble, stood a
tall brass candelabrum of beaten work, containing seven branches upon its
shaft, each having a lamp filled with pure olive oil for the light, with
knop and cup fashioned like an almond‐blossom. At the east end of the room
there was a heavy table of acacia wood, the top of which was curiously
engraved, and upon each corner was a horn of one piece with it. Just over
its centre, and suspended from the ceiling by a silken cord, was a large
quartzoid of transparent rock‐crystal. It was believed that at certain
seasons a steady, concentrated gaze into its pellucid depths would produce
visions, or at least symbols of future events, and sometimes there was
included glimpses of things distant. The table was enclosed by a curtain
of blue, gold, and scarlet, held in place by ouches or sockets attached to
a finely woven band supported by standards of beaten brass.

At the opposite end of the room were small wheels, cunningly devised of
dark steel mirrors, made to revolve, section within section, mystifying
and trance‐producing in their occult power, and held to be symbolic of the
wheels of the prophet Ezekiel. The walls and ceiling were bespangled with
tracings, emblematic of prophecy, miracle, sacrifice, circumcision, and
the covenants.

In the centre of the room there was a small brazen altar, consecrated to
the burning of stacte, onycha, frankincense, and other aromatic spices.
Near the entrance stood a cabinet of olive‐wood containing flagons and
bowls from which wine was served, and also platters containing thin
wheaten wafers.

The rites of the society were commonly a matter of somewhat formal
routine; but on special occasions or anniversaries they included revels,
psychic agitations, disorderly and ungoverned excitements, trances, and
enchantments. At times the Jew, with all the weight of the Covenant upon
him, gave himself up to those things which corresponded to the orgies of
the neighboring religions. But his excesses, though violent, were far less
gross.

With the rapid growth of sectarian bigotry among the disciples of
Gamaliel, the antagonism of the hyper‐Pharisaic faction had become
exceedingly bitter. This was embodied strongly in Saulus, as the natural
leader; and his followers were wont to glorify him without bound. His
release from the Tower through the intercession of the Rabban, being
misunderstood, greatly emboldened them.

After the society had convened, each young Jew donned the insignia of the
order, and appeared in his place. At a given signal, all arose, formed in
procession, and passed slowly around the room, each in turn quaffing a
small flagon of wine, which was the opening act of formal ceremony. After
the last had been served, the column began a stately march around a large
circle, which was symbolically marked upon the floor, falling into the
rhythm of a spirited chant dedicated to their leader, in which all joined.

  “Saulus we praise,
  Our defender is strong,
  His standard we raise,
  His days shall be long.

  The Roman we dare;
  The apostate we hate;
  Ho! brothers, we swear
  By Israel’s fate.

  The mystical _Urim_
  Will care for its own;
  We chant our bold hymn
  Through night until morn.

  Judea will rise,
  Her natal fires glow,
  Her fame reach the skies:
  Woe be to her foe.”

At length, after the observance of an imposing ritual according to the
order of the society, the chairman, who had been chosen for the occasion,
mounted the tribune, and made an address.

“Brothers of the _Urim_! Hebrew princes of the East and of the West, of
the North and of the South! Warders of the mysteries of our noble order!
We have met to engage in the exercise of our secret rites, and also to
honor our most worthy Dictator, Saulus. O sons of prophets! It belongeth
to our brotherhood to establish a sovereignty among the disciples of
Gamaliel, and to discomfit the destroyers of our Judean traditions, who
deceitfully continue to wear our name and covenant. Our adversaries are
near. Even the worthy Rabban scents not their plottings, so disguised are
they with professions of good‐will and liberality. The Roman is an open
foe whose courage wins respect; but they who betray our doctrine,
covenant, and circumcision are the real enemies of the Most High and of
the Chosen People. Honor to Saulus! Guides of the Inner and Outer Circle!
Present our special guest of the night for our welcome!”

Saulus was conducted with much ceremony to a seat raised upon a dais which
was canopied with an elaborate baldachin, and which was used only upon
rare and notable occasions. A crown of laurel was placed upon his head;
and a dance in slow rhythm, which was emblematic of laudation, was
performed in a circle about him. At length the ceremony ended, and Saulus
arose and addressed a few words to his fellow‐members.

“Guides and guardians of the _Urim_, and comrades! I am thrilled by your
unwonted devotion, but accept it as a tribute to our worthy cause, which I
would faithfully serve. May the mysteries and visions of our prophetic
ritual this night be propitious!”

The formal exercises were ended.

Saulus lightly laid aside the laurel wreath, and descended to the midst of
his fellows. The members of the Outer Circle then withdrew; while those of
the Inner, among whom was Saulus, remained to seek for signs and
wonders.(5)

After the doors were rebarred, a flame was lighted upon the small brazen
altar, and aromatic spices were placed upon it for slow consumption. The
members then seated themselves around it, with hands joined, and remained
silent for some time, breathing in deep, concerted, rhythmical measure. A
pungent but fascinating odor gradually filled the room, and a charmed
exhilaration stole by degrees upon the minds and senses of the brotherhood
of the Inner Circle. A subtle enchantment, delightful in quality,
transported them to empyrean heights of consciousness, so that the every‐
day world of objective events receded and became distant and misty. They
craved some prophetic symbolism of the future.

After a short sitting they arose, and four of the number, Saulus being
one, passed to the acacia table, where they seated themselves, each
grasping one of its horns, and turning a fixed gaze into the transparent
deeps of the great crystal which hung in their midst. The others seated
themselves in a semicircle facing the revolving wheel of mirrors, and
yielded passively to such impressions as might float in upon them. Soon
there was a change, a peculiar abstraction being apparent.

For a full hour a delicious ecstatic consciousness prevailed, and perfect
silence reigned. The room seemed like a bower of roses. Fruits were heaped
in golden baskets, and fine sprays of perfumed water from invisible
fountains filled the air. Jasper floors stretched away in the distance,
and upon them were spread mats of shining crystals of variegated hues.
Life, action, color, and warmth pervaded the atmosphere so thickly that
one could float in their shimmering wavelets. Reverberations of unearthly
music flowed gently in, as if a myriad of Æolian harps were hung above,
below, and on all sides, which were swept by heavenly breezes. The
energies of Nature were melted into an impalpable but all‐embracing
voluptuous harmony.

But at length there were symptoms of discord, and a gradual transformation
began to be manifest. Harshness and disorder slowly emerged in uncanny
shapes from the dim background. The psychical intoxication which prevailed
was perceptibly embittered, and subtle forms of mysterious portent crept
in. The ambient air became streaked with dark patches which grew thicker
and wider. The night‐winds sprang up, and muffled mutterings from without
were borne in with sullen discordance. The erstwhile film of iridescence
shrivelled and parted, and flitting out from behind were grim faces of sin
and crime, anon hiding behind clouds of blackness. The blood‐streaked moon
that had arisen in a brazen sky poured forth a flood of wan, sickly light
which entered the casement and seemed offensive. The vapors that ascended
from the altar were resolved into a semblance of moving figures of dark
and gloomy mien, with hollow and gusty voices, and eyeballs which glowed
like living coals. Suddenly a bluish flash filled the room, and upon the
walls letters of fire were traced without the aid of mortal hand. Then it
seemed as though the room were fissured and rent by a strange and
resistless pressure from without. Deep, jarring sounds rumbled below like
the mad bellowing of an unborn earthquake. The black shadow of a Great
Hand moved slowly across the ceiling.

                             * * * * * * * *

A living Shape emerged through the wall, and seated itself in the chair
upon the dais which Saulus before had occupied. It was thickly veiled, and
appeared more like some misshapen reptile than a human form. Its
intolerable eyes looked out with an appalling stare of hate and mockery.
It was a nameless Horror, with an aspect of deadly malignity, and a wreath
of fire, shaped like the laurel chaplet that Saulus had worn, was upon its
head.

                             * * * * * * * *

A crackling explosion! Then passing directly through the barred door, a
procession of foul dancing figures entered in pairs, and tripped lightly
around the larger mystic circle which was marked upon the floor. Hatred
and Revenge led the way, each with his name in letters of flame upon his
forehead. Treachery and Conspiracy followed, arm in arm, and next,
Persecution and Slaughter, with a host of lesser imps bringing up the
rear. They wheeled about, and with ever‐quickening step, each in turn
bowed to the Nameless One who occupied the chair upon the dais. Another
blinding crash! and the whole scene was dissolved into the blackness of
darkness.

                             * * * * * * * *

Every member of the Inner Circle was suddenly awakened from a heavy sleep.
The lamps had been extinguished, and the flame upon the altar had expired.
The lights were soon rekindled, and everything was found as had been wont.
The ashy pallor and cold perspiration which was upon every face gradually
passed away, and courage and calmness resumed their sway. Each had dreamed
a dream of delicious enchantment, followed by a visit to the Tartarean
regions, but no two saw them quite alike.

The chairman of the session, with a bewildered look, turned to Saulus.

“Most worthy Dictator! Perchance thou canst interpret the mystery of these
unwonted visions?”

A shade of perplexity passed over the face of the son of Benoni; but after
a brief wavering he replied,—

“Comrades of the _Urim_! Awake and arise! The signs are propitious! It
hath ever been so, even in the days of the patriarchs and prophets. The
chosen and righteous call out burning enmity, which is made known through
ghostly and malignant shapes. We must exorcise the unhallowed Phantom
which would thrust itself into our Covenant and Tradition. Brothers of the
Inner Circle! we incarnated the spirit of prophecy, and must needs look
upon the ghostly symbolic visions of warfare. They crowd themselves upon
us as mystical revealers of those who wickedly betray the doctrine of
Israel. Only by glimpses of such shades of Tophet could we be forewarned.
They are sent to fire us with a holy zeal in overcoming the false‐hearted.
The vengeance of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob waxes against all
who burn strange fire upon our sacred altars; and we must needs have signs
of their abomination brought before our eyes.”

The comrades of Saulus were reassured by his eloquence, and his
interpretation found favor.

“Victor Serenus is the arch adversary,” cried one.

“The hand that smiteth him shall be blessed,” added another.

“He deceiveth the disciples of the Rabban, and is not worthy to live,”
cried a third, and there was a mingling of voices.

“Woe to Serenus!”

“Spoil his house!”

“To Gehenna with him!”

Saulus waved his hand for silence, and then said, with a violent gesture,—

“Comrades of the _Urim_! If ye will, ye may smite him before the cock‐
crowing, for the Lord regardeth him not.”

There was a general clamor to be led against the apostate.

“Members of the Inner Circle! I wot we may take him unawares while
darkness is still over the Holy City.”

After further taking counsel together, all descended to the street, and
made their way through a narrow lane to a place beyond Hezekiah’s Pool,
which was near the house where Serenus lived with his mother. Though
within the city walls, the locality was remote and lonely. Arming
themselves with stones as they passed along, Saulus commanded that, when
they arrived at the house, they should surround it and make some outcry.
Serenus would then appear, when they could smite him, and flee in the
darkness, with none to witness against them.

“He shall lick the dust like a serpent,” said Saulus; “yea, as the Lord
liveth, he shall fall and not rise again.”

All then joined hands in a small circle, and made a solemn vow of secrecy
and service.

“By the stones of the Holy City, we swear that the God of Israel shall
accomplish his fury and pour out his fierce anger, through us, his chosen
servants, for we do his bidding.”

Unclasping hands, they again gathered up the stones which they had laid
down during the ceremony, and made their way to the house.

The moon had gone down, and the first flush of dawn was faintly visible
over the eastern mountains. A sullen chill pervaded the air, and the
boundless Impalpable which surrounds the earth seemed filled with a life
which needs not breath. Nature was in a mood of gloom and distemper. The
very leaves of the trees, invisible in the darkness, rustled a chorus of
Sibylline sighs and hisses; but the comrades heard and saw nothing.

At a given signal an outcry was made, and Serenus looked down from a
window to make inquiry concerning it.

“What would ye? Doth a stranger need succor?”

Straightway a volley of stones were hurled at him; but as it was yet dark,
Serenus suffered no harm, though they fell thick about him. But one
glanced, and falling, struck Saulus full in the forehead, and he fell down
as if he had yielded up the ghost. Those who were near lifted him up and
quickly bore him away.



                               CHAPTER XI
                            IMPORTANT MESSAGES


              Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its
           current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept
                by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept
                                                    away.—MARCUS AURELIUS.

          Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a
           pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.—PROVERBS.



                      [CASSIA TO BENONI OF TARSUS.]
                                                   “JERUSALEM, _Sivan VI_.

“Know, O father of my friend, that I have to acquaint thee with a terrible
event. Last night, as Saulus and some fellow‐disciples of Gamaliel were
walking in one of the by‐ways of the Holy City, he was badly wounded by a
stone which was cast by some unknown hand. It struck him in the forehead,
and, O father of an illustrious son, he yet lingereth between life and
death. His companions could not well convince themselves whether an enemy
or a robber committed the shameful deed. Among the disciples of the
Rabban, there is one, Victor Serenus, a wicked apostate, and we wot not
but he may be the malefactor. O venerated Benoni! I have pity in my heart
for thee and thy renowned son. For many hours after he was borne back to
our inn he lay as one dead; but, the God of Israel be praised, his life is
still within him, and now he hath opened his eyes. We shall tenderly
minister to thy noble scion, who is held in such favor, and a physician
hath faithfully bound up his wounds with a healing balm.

“Thou art blessed among men to have a son who possesseth such goodness and
power. The Rabban esteemeth him as the most wise among all his disciples.
Of all who are soon to finish their course, I have much assurance that he
would have won the final prize.

“Most noble Tarsian! I see the sadness and tears that will come to the
goodly mother and fair sister of Saulus, whom he hath made known to me.

“Peace be with thee and thine!

“My father tells me that the message‐bearer who goes to Cæsarea will take
this to be put on a ship for Tarsus, and may it surely reach thy hand.

                                                                  CASSIA,
                             _Daughter of Almon, of the Sheepmarket inn_.”



Seven days afterwards.



                      [CASSIA TO BENONI OF TARSUS.]
                                                            “_Sivan XIII._

“O my respected Benoni! I send a greeting with hopeful tidings. The ears
of him thou lovest hear our voices, and his tongue speaketh words of
rejoicing. The favor of the God of our fathers, with our loving
ministration, will restore him and make us glad.

“I have contentment in thinking of the joy that will come to thee and
thine when this letter reacheth thy hand. Saulus now has converse with us;
and, O most worthy friend, we have long known him to be a young man of
fair presence. My father made known his hurt to the Rabban, and he hath
visited him. He sat by his bed, and took him by the hand, and bestowed his
blessing.

“We have had long talks of thee and all thy house, and of the childhood of
Saulus on the banks of the Cydnus. Blessed be the day when he came to
dwell with us.

“A young man named Barnabas, who is a friend and yoke‐fellow of Saulus,
hath rendered much goodly service.

“It will rejoice thy heart, noble Hebrew, to know in what high honor and
esteem thy son is held in the Holy City. His hurt hath brought forth much
testimony in his favor, as one called of God to do a great work for the
Chosen People. Their enemies are his enemies, and he hath much reputation
as the defender of all our sacred doctrines and traditions. All the
members of the society of the _Urim_, which is a secret band of the most
faithful among the disciples of Gamaliel, laud him as a valiant leader.

“I am persuaded that Saulus is to be raised up to deliver our people from
apostates within and foes without. The Roman despiseth our nation; but the
time cometh, and may be at hand, when the God of our fathers will bring
his proud rule to naught. The idolatry of the Roman and the Greek will
also pass away, while the light and strength of Israel will increase under
the everlasting covenant of Jehovah.

“As to Victor Serenus, the betrayer, we have no further tidings concerning
him.

“Thy son sends salutations to thee, his mother, and the fair Rebecca, and
hopes, God willing, soon to come and see thee, face to face.

“All the house of Almon join in greetings.

“Peace abide with thee and thine.”

                                                                  CASSIA.”



                           [BENONI TO CASSIA.]
                                                             “_Sivan XVI._

“O my young friend!

“Thy letter which beareth grievous tidings hath just come to my hand from
a Phœnician ship which hath arrived from Cæsarea.

“We before have had good report from Saulus, and our hearts are bruised by
this evil which hath befallen him.

“O daughter of Israel! We are comforted that he is so tenderly ministered
unto, and we beseech the God of our fathers that his life may be spared.
His mother and Rebecca are sorely distressed and bowed down, for their
love for him is exceeding great.

“Saulus! my son! my son! How do the uncircumcised and heathen triumph! Our
people are afflicted, and our groaning ascendeth to the ears of Jehovah!

“O friend of my son! My soul is cast down within me! How long, O Lord,
shall the wicked prevail? Shall he blaspheme thy name forever? The evil
doers boast themselves, and the righteous are ill requited!

“But, O my Cassia! I will cease lamentation. Peradventure the chosen of
the Lord will live, and his horn be exalted, and his desire exercised upon
his enemies.

“‘Let them be confounded and perish that contemn the counsel of the Most
High!’

“‘With his mighty arm will he yet set up the godly, and establish him
forever!’

“‘Sing unto the Lord, and declare his glory among the nations!’

“Daughter of Almon!

“Our hearts are stirred toward thee, and the Lord will abundantly reward
the house of Almon for their loving favor to the son of Benoni.

“Our salutation to the wise and good Rabban.

“I pray thee for tidings of Saulus by the next ship from Cæsarea, and may
we hear good concerning him.

“Peace be with thee!

                                                        BENONI OF TARSUS.”



                                 (No. 2.)



                           [BENONI TO CASSIA.]
                                                            “_Sivan XXIV._

“O daughter of Almon!

“The Lord be praised for the glad tidings which the second letter from thy
hand witnesseth for us. Our hearts have been heavy, and we have had
wearisome nights appointed unto us, but now we shall walk in the light.
The Most High hath delivered us from great tribulation, and made known his
loving kindness: ‘For his mercy endureth forever.’

“O maid of Jerusalem!

“We are of good cheer concerning thy testimony of the fervent spirit of
Saulus in the Holy City. We rejoice that he hath been instructed after the
strict manner of the law of our fathers, and that he is zealous, and
speaketh boldly in the synagogue.

“Peradventure before many days Saulus may write a letter with his own
hand.

“Salutations be unto Gamaliel, the household of Almon, Barnabas, and all
who have ministered unto Saulus.

“May thy joy be fulfilled!

                                                                  BENONI.”



About two months later.



                           [SAULUS TO BENONI.]
                                                                _“Ab. XX._

“O my beloved!

“Peace be unto you!

“Salute one another with a kiss of love!

“My little Cassia hath sent letters to you concerning my welfare, and now,
behold, I am strengthened to write an epistle with mine own hand. The
messengers have brought letters from thee, O my father, which testified
that the affection of all my kinsfolk abounded toward me, which giveth me
much joy.

“Ye know well concerning my present tribulation, which hath been grievous;
but the house of Almon hath given me much excellent ministration, whereby
I now am refreshed in spirit, and mostly healed of my hurt.

“I wot not if thou hast had report from the Rabban concerning the things
which have befallen me. I was exceeding zealous in speech for the faith of
our fathers, and was apprehended of the Romans, and taken to the Tower of
Antonia. But, through the intercession of Gamaliel, I was released without
condemnation.

“I take occasion to write unto thee some report out of the abundance of my
experiences, and also of my instruction in the Gemara, Mishna, and other
sacred writings. Gamaliel hath made known unto me that he judgeth with
great favor the good understanding of the doctrines of the Talmud which
hath come to the son of Benoni.

“Touching the observance of the law in all things, it will rejoice thy
heart to receive testimony that I hold myself blameless. By the favor of
the God of Israel, I keep all the fasts of the week, and do not forget the
three prayers of the day or the visits to the Holy Temple. Neither am I
unmindful, O kinsfolk, of all careful ablutions, that I may be free from
ceremonial uncleanness. As a Pharisee of the Pharisees, I strive to keep
the whole law, and not offend in one point. In good conscience I have
respect unto all the commands of the law of Moses, and scrupulously
observe all the decisions, Sabbatic rules, and prescriptions. To the
Rabbinical principles of exegesis, and the whole code of legislation
recorded in the Pentateuch, I have given much heed, and trust that I am
not found wanting.

“There hath appeared among the disciples of Gamaliel some who make a small
matter of our holy rites in synagogues and in the Temple, and, though Jews
after the flesh, they lightly observe our traditions. They set forth
somewhat of the Greek and Alexandrian philosophies, affirming that God is
the God of the Gentiles, the same as of the Hebrews. They vainly boast
that his presence ministers to their life and health, and that his mercy
is over all men, while they profanely say that the Circumcision is of no
avail. So idolatrous are they that they profess to find their God
everywhere. They would fain blaspheme the Holy of Holies by proclaiming
that he is as much in the groves and fields as in the Temple. These are
sons of Jews of the Dispersion, who have been seduced by some of the
heresies of the heathen with whom they have had concourse. They vaunt
themselves of their wisdom, while they respect not the Law and Covenant.

“O my father! Thou hast made known unto me from my early youth—and the
holy priest, Abdiel of Tarsus, hath confirmed it—that our books of
generations perfectly trace our family lineage back through the Captivity;
beyond the Prophets and David, and the Wilderness, and the sojourn in
Egypt, to the tribe of Benjamin and our father Abraham. Thou hast
instructed me—and my discipleship with the Rabban hath confirmed it—that
especial wisdom hath descended through all our generations; that we are
the Lord’s peculiar people, and this is our great glory. Our fathers have
spoken with him face to face, and he hath made known his will to them.

“Did not our God make a covenant with Abraham and with his seed forever?

“Did he not lead them through the Red Sea, and overwhelm their oppressors?
Did he not hand down the Law to them from Sinai? Was he not a Pillar of
Cloud and a Pillar of Fire to them in the Wilderness?

“Was he not their Captain, who went before them, and drove their enemies
from the Promised Land?

“Hath he not sworn to destroy all our foes, and give us the earth for a
heritage?

“Oh, the glory of the Judean story!

“Oh, the valor of the mighty men of God, who have done his bidding and
gained his victories!

“Oh, the long genealogy of his servants, back, back, through the ancient
line of prophets, judges, kings, and lawgivers to the patriarchs of golden
promise!

“Have we not Abraham to our father, and was he not the faithful friend of
God?

“What mighty captains were they who destroyed the armies of the
unsanctified!

“What singers, from Miriam, the prophetess, who led the women with sound
of timbrels and dancing, down to the son of Jesse,—a man after God’s own
heart,—whose songs fill the mouths of all generations following!

“Jehovah hath inspired the lips of his children, and they have uttered his
judgments. He set up a tabernacle for his people, and dwelt therein, and
established his ordinances. He commanded their sacrifices and their
feasts! He builded their altars, and instituted the Ark of the Covenant!

“Did not Moses call the Lord a man of war?

“The God of the Hebrews cursed the enemies of Israel, and commanded their
destruction, root and branch!

“If we execute his commands do we not become valiant?

“O my father Benoni! They of the faithful among the disciples of Gamaliel
have been pleased to honor me as their leader in our warfare against the
cunning heresies which have crept in. It is the Hellenist Jews who have
sought to corrupt our Pharisaical righteousness. There is one, Victor
Serenus, a pestilent fellow who hath seduced some from the faith. Let him
be anathema! May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I discomfit
him not!

“O beloved, my hurt yet maketh me somewhat weary of body, but I soon shall
come to you for a while. Peradventure by the time of the Feast of Trumpets
I shall be strengthened for the journey to Cæsarea, so that I may take
ship for Tarsus.

“Gamaliel hath instructed me to the fulness of his teaching, and but for
my wound, the prize of excellency for learning in the Scriptures would
have fallen to me.

“My faithful Cassia and all the house of Almon send greeting.

“May your joy be full!

                                                                  SAULUS.”



                               CHAPTER XII
                         SERENUS MAKES AN AVOWAL


          Truth, though often hidden, will never cease its gentle pressure
          until it finds its attuned instruments, and lips inspired to its
                                                             articulation.


Late in the afternoon of a warm day in early autumn, the softened glow of
the descending sun fell into the spacious court of one of the notable
palaces of the Holy City. In the centre, the spray from a small fountain
curved gracefully into a quadrangular marble basin; and ranged immediately
around it were pots, partly hidden by moist mosses, which contained
lilies, anemonies, irises of iridescent hue, violets, and jasmine, all
freshened by the neighboring dampness. The surrounding pavement was of
graceful mosaic design; and the prevailing air of coolness, cleanliness,
and repose was in marked contrast with the dry, brassy atmosphere outside.
Porches, supported by slim, lightly carved columns, extended entirely
around both stories of the court; and these, in certain parts where the
sun’s rays might penetrate, were shaded by hanging portières woven of fine
goat’s hair in striped design. At either end, a stairway of marble steps
led to the upper terrace, and still another flight to a valve which opened
upon the roof. On one side was a broad portal which led into a great
library, where shelves and drawers were filled with thousands of rolls of
manuscripts and inscribed parchments, each neatly tied, labelled, and
classified. The place seemed fragrant with all the subtile richness of
Hebrew law, prophecy, and poetry, which had been stored up from the
accumulated wisdom of a long line of ancient seers, sages, and poets. All
the carvings, friezes, and appurtenances of the court were also
symbolically eloquent with the lore of Israel.

The tinkling of the fountain sounded pleasantly to the ears of two persons
that were comfortably seated near it, who had sought the spacious openness
of the court in preference to the library. An earnest conversation was in
progress. The palace was that of Gamaliel; and the elder of the two, a
tall, dignified man, with silvered hair and long, flowing beard, was the
noted Rabban himself. Beneath the folds of his turban of snowy whiteness
shone out his brilliant but kindly eyes; and his mien, while dignified,
was warm and gracious. The other was Serenus, and it was evident that the
two were upon terms of free and friendly familiarity.

“Reverend and worthy master! I count myself happy to have this opportunity
to open my heart to thee. Things have made themselves manifest to me which
greatly concern our race and religion, and, peradventure, the Gentiles
also. Dost thou not, noble teacher, discern in certain signs of the times
the fulfilment of prophecy and a new dispensation of righteousness?”

The Rabban turned his face toward his young disciple with an expression of
curious but friendly interest.

“My son! Many strange and notable things have come to pass in this
generation, and it behooveth us to interpret them in a wise and prudent
manner. I wot not what thou hast in mind, but have pleasure in thy
presence, and desire that thou shouldst acquaint me fully with that which
is in thine heart.”

“Before speaking of certain matters of our religion,” said Serenus, “I
would inquire if it be known unto thee that Saulus is again in the Holy
City.”

“Dost thou make reference to the young Hebrew from Tarsus, of such fiery
zeal, who was aforetime my disciple?”

“It is no other than he! Several passovers have passed since he went back
to his native city to learn a trade, after the manner of our custom, and
he hath abated none of the vehemence of his former life.”

“It now cometh to my remembrance how he and a band of his comrades set
upon thee in the Lyceum, for which he was taken to the Tower by a
centurion, and at thy intercession I persuaded his release. Knowest thou,
hath he still the same mind?”

The events of a few years past coursed in quick succession through the
memory of the young Hellenist, but he was not stirred by them.

“Nay! It hath come to pass that his persecution is now turned toward the
followers of the prophet of Nazareth. It is noised abroad that straightway
upon his return to Jerusalem, and since, he hath ceased not night or day
to vex them sorely. He hath almost persuaded the Sanhedrin to give him
authority to destroy them.”

“Hath he, then, forgotten his enmity toward thee, my young disciple?”

“I wot not fully, but am so persuaded. His exceeding wrath against the new
sect of the Nazarene, peradventure, hath swallowed up his former enmity;
and who knoweth, also, but it hath come to his ears that thou hast since
made me thine helper, wherefore he might be more prudent.”

“He that waxeth wroth worketh out his own destruction,” uttered the Rabban
in a rather reserved and oracular manner. “But what of the request of
thine heart, which thou desirest to make known unto me?”

Serenus paused for a moment before making answer, for something seemed to
stir him from the depths of his soul. He looked gravely but tenderly into
the face of his master. He felt that a great crisis in his own life had
come, which could not longer be put off. The accumulated forces of years,
long pent up, had gradually gathered momentum until they must find
utterance.

“Most worthy master! What thinkest _thou_ of the prophet of Nazareth who
was crucified?”

The wise and venerable Gamaliel was astounded at the gravity and
earnestness of his favorite assistant in making an inquiry which seemed of
such trivial importance. He toyed with the long fringe of his robe for a
moment, and cast an inquiring glance into the face of Serenus as if to
divine his meaning. It hardly occurred to him that his most eminent
follower, aforetime promoted to be his assistant, could have any sympathy,
or even remote interest, in the feeble faction of the Galilean; but the
question demanded an answer.

“My young disciple! Thy question is of small concern to me, neither doth
it matter to thee. Thou shouldst be aware that while I counted the
Nazarene to be a deceiver, I would that he had not been evil entreated and
put to death. Peradventure he was self‐deceived; but however that may be,
had he been let alone, his works would have come to an end, and his
followers become scattered. But what have we to do with him? It is all of
the past and concerneth us not.”

“I give honor unto thy wisdom, O learned master! but I am persuaded that
the Nazarene was a righteous man and a great prophet; yea, such as the
world hath not known. Thou knowest that I was born a Jew, and have respect
unto the fulfilling of the law; but the doctrines of the Pharisees have
become vain, and I can no longer bear their burden. The commandment of God
hath given place to the traditions of men. The faith of our father
Abraham, the testimonies of Moses, and the words of the holy prophets,
have become of none effect; for this generation hath given itself over to
washings of cups and pots and brazen vessels, to fastings and ceremonial
oblations. Behold, the letter of the law hath altogether brought its life
to destruction!”

“But, O Serenus! how doth these things concern the doctrine of the
Nazarene? I am somewhat like‐minded with thee concerning the traditions of
this generation. The dead observances of the extreme sect of the Pharisees
have become an occasion of vanity, and a stumbling‐block, and must needs
be purified. Let us set about to reprove these things, and teach a
restitution of the Law as handed down to Moses. But I beseech thee! go not
after this new sect of strange faith, for its teaching will surely come to
naught.”

“I owe thee respect, O worthy Gamaliel! but am fully persuaded in this
matter, and now declare unto thee that from this day henceforth I wash my
hands of the traditions of the elders! It hath come more and more to me
that our holy religion is corrupted and wormeaten, and that it altogether
concerneth itself with polishing the outside of the platter. It is a
valley of dry bones, like that spoken of by Ezekiel the prophet, and only
an anointing of the Spirit, which hath been so perfectly manifested
through Jesus of Nazareth, can awaken them to life, and clothe them with
flesh.”

“I marvel and am sorrowful, O my young disciple! that thou hast been led
away by this new heresy. I know thee to be upright in spirit; but, if thou
art persuaded in this way, behold, thou wilt cut thyself off from thy
people, and from thy place of honor in the school of the prophets. The
Nazarene, of whom thou speakest, was reputed to be an unlearned man, the
son of a carpenter! If he had knowledge, whence came it? If I have learned
rightly, he even vaunted himself as the Lord’s anointed, the fulfiller of
prophecy, and the deliverer of Israel! What empty boasting! He, a Galilean
of no reputation, whose followers were only ignorant fishermen and
publicans! _he_ to deliver Israel from her oppressors! _he_ to build up
the waste places of Jerusalem, and establish her dominion forever! Seest
thou not, O Serenus! that this is altogether vanity? If he were to have
been the Restorer of our people, thinkest thou that he would have suffered
himself to be persecuted, condemned, and crucified? I say unto thee nay!”

The young man looked searchingly into the face of the Rabban, but with
unwonted calmness.

“I beseech thee to listen to me yet farther, O teacher of Israel! for I am
fully persuaded that the word of the Lord hath quickened my heart. Our
fathers and this generation have greatly erred, touching the Messias, in
what hath been spoken by the ancient prophets. I call thee to witness!
What saith Isaiah, the son of Amoz, than whom there hath not been a
greater? Doth he not prophesy of humility, and reproach, and travail, and
persecution? Nay! Saith he not that his righteous servant shall pour out
his soul unto death? Hath it not now come to pass that he was despised and
rejected of men, and that his report hath not been believed? Did not
Daniel, of the royal family of Judah, prophesy of the stone which was cut
out of the mountain without hands, which brake in pieces the mighty image
whose brightness was excellent? Behold this when interpreted! Doth it not
signify that the kingdoms of this world are to fall, and the eternal
kingdom of righteousness be set up in their place, which shall grow and
fill the whole earth?”

An expression of astonishment and restlessness swept over the features of
the venerable Rabban. Could the young disciple teach the famous head of
the school of Hillel?

“Thou hast waxed zealous, young man, in the defence of thy strange
doctrines! I pray thee, who hath persuaded thee of these things, and that
the Book of Prophecies hath aught concerning the Nazarene?”

“I have it not upon the authority of any man, but the Spirit within
witnesseth with my spirit that these things are true. The kingdom of which
the Nazarene hath laid the corner‐stone is a dominion which is to increase
and wax great, and pertaineth not only to the Jews, but to all peoples.
All are children of God, but no one save him hath yet perfected the fruit
whose seed lieth within. His law is more complete than that of Moses; for
he hath summed it up as love to God and all men, with the whole heart.
Herein behold, as in a glass, all the law and the prophets! Moreover, he
wrought many signs and wonders, and miracles of healing, such being a
witness of his full possession by the Father, which is the Spirit of
Truth. But he declared that all things that he made manifest are possible
to his faithful followers, and even that greater works may yet be shown
forth.”

“Serenus! I marvel at the unwonted things thou believest! I bewail that
thou art deceived! From whence hast thou these tidings of him?”

“I have had converse with some of his worthy but despised disciples, and
know whereof I speak. Moreover, their works testify concerning them, and
show forth the power of God working in and through man.”

“Thou hast indeed become altogether unmindful that the salvation of the
God of Israel cometh only through the Covenant with the Chosen People. But
what sayest thou? It hath come to my ears that the disciples of the
Nazarene still walk in the ordinances, except, peradventure, one young
zealot, named Stephanos, who disputeth in the synagogues, and stirreth up
some contention. But be thou warned! Thy Galilean prophet proclaimed
himself as Messias, and the deliverer of Israel! What sayest thou? Is not
this blasphemy?”

“Nay. He claimeth not sole possession of sonship, but declared that the
anointing is for all sons of God; but it appeareth that he only hath yet
emptied himself of all else, and manifested the spiritual image in
fulness.”

“O Serenus! thou hast been deceived by false witnesses, and therefore
makest the doctrine of Jehovah common and unclean! Hast thou forgotten
that the Gentiles and they that worship other gods are the enemies of the
Most High?”

The calm dignity of Serenus was unmoved, and his face almost shone with an
inner light which seemed to fill him.

“The God of all the earth hath no enemies, whether Jew or Gentile. He
cannot know enmity; for it is not, save in the hearts of such as separate
themselves from him. They dwell in the darkness which they only have made
by their own vain and base imaginings.”

“It grieveth me, O my young disciple! to know that thou hast become
faithless to the religion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thou art
altogether mistaken in the anointed one of Israel. When Messias cometh he
will be King, Priest, and Prophet. First of all, he will deliver his
people from their enemies, and set up a throne, and then reign
righteously. The Gentiles will have no part in this dominion. They serve
false gods; and the Most High will destroy them, root and branch. Then
shall the seed of Abraham inherit the earth! Thou art pure in spirit, but
no longer a son of Israel. Thy connection with the school of Hebrew
prophets, after the order of Hillel, is ended.”



                              CHAPTER XIII
                           THE WALLS HAVE EARS


            The world looks like a multiplication‐table, or a mathematical
              equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself. Take
          what figure you will, its exact value, not more, nor less, still
            returns to you. Every secret is told, every crime is punished,
              every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and
            certainty. What we call retribution is the universal necessity
              by which the whole appears wherever a part appears.—EMERSON.


The sun was drinking up the morning dew which rested lightly upon the
reeds, grasses, and climbing vines that thinly fringed the steeps and
cliffs of the hill‐country of Mount Ephraim, a little to the northwest of
Jerusalem. Through this broken district, the road which led from the
seaport of Cæsarea to the Holy City wound along near the bottom of a
shallow wady, and ere long between scarred bluffs through a long,
irregular valley, and then ascended, leading over a considerable elevation
before passing through the Mount Ephraim gate into the city.

In these early morning hours, a small caravan might be seen, winding along
the beaten track in slow, serpentine fashion. It was composed of a few
well‐laden camels and asses, accompanied by men, women, and children, who,
having just struck their tents, were now nearing the end of their journey.
An eager air of anticipation and unwonted interest was visible in the
little company; and the brightness of the morning, and the near approach
to the Capital, infused every one with new life, in view of what was soon
to open to their vision.

What a tale this road might unfold of the various companies of pilgrims,
princes, captains, and panoplied armies, which, before and since, have
trod its tortuous windings! What victories and defeats, what surprises and
disappointments, what inspiration and suffering! What vain hopes destroyed
and heroism rewarded! What eruptions of invaders, who at intervals have
despoiled the ancient city,—Chaldeans, Assyrians, Romans, and later the
great armies of Rome under Titus; and long afterwards, Turks and
crusaders, like great tidal waves, have surged through this and the other
beaten highways that converge in the city of Mount Zion.

In the little procession were some who for the first time were to have a
vision of the Temple, the city’s long, curving, battlemented walls, its
proud palaces, its frowning towers, its graceful cenotaphs and pillared
courts, and others to whose eyes all these were familiar. Within two or
three furlongs of the city wall on the northwest, the road passes over a
considerable elevation, from which Jerusalem lies spread out upon its
native hills, with the bluish‐purple slopes of the Mount of Olives in the
background to the southeast. On this high ground the road skirted a large
open garden, or park, that sloped toward the city, which contained seats,
arbors, flowers, and shrubbery, the whole forming a place of public
resort. Interspersed by small trees, and shaded by bushes and vines, were
a series of graded terraces, each of which commanded a fine view of the
city. It was a favorite resort in the milder seasons of the year.

The caravan passed on through the gateway into the city; but a young man,
somewhat below medium size, with strongly marked Jewish features, left it,
and turning to the right, entered the garden to enjoy the prospect, and
call up a few reminiscences before the final completion of his journey.

It was no other than Saulus!

After an absence of a few years in his native city, he was again near the
scene of his more youthful education and adventures. The sun was already
warm; and, wiping the perspiration from his forehead, he sat down in a
small arbor, which was covered overhead, and partly sheltered before and
behind by hedges and hanging vines. The fragrance of many blossoms loaded
the morning air, and the cheery song of birds echoed from the trees far
and near.

As Saulus looked out over the familiar landmarks of the city, his bosom
heaved, his cheeks reddened, and his eyes dilated at the panorama that was
again unrolled before him. His thoughts ran quickly back over the long
history of the Chosen People, their many trials and conquests, their glory
and their captivity. There was much to inspire, but more to sadden. What a
history of numberless vicissitudes was written in stone, masonry, and
marble! How many conflicts, successes, and disasters were wrapped up in
the massive city wall built by good King Hezekiah! What a long line of
events were cast into the haughty Towers of Hippicus, Phasælus, and
Mariamne, whose proud heads lifted themselves high into the air directly
to the southward! Still beyond, in the same direction, the royal hill of
Mount Zion was crowned by the great Herodian palace. What a long line of
fragrant memories of patriarchs and judges, of anointed kings, including
David and Solomon, covering many bright days of Hebrew history, were there
solidified into visible form! Upon the same historic site stood the house
of Caiaphas, the Roman prætorium, and the great central synagogue.

Was the time coming when the proud Roman would be thrust out, and Jewish
dominion again centre with undimmed lustre upon these consecrated heights?
How long, oh, how long! before the God of Israel would rally and inspire
the multitudes of his people, bring back his scattered captives, and lead
them forth, a conquering host?

Farther to the east, and directly above the great massive Tower of
Antonia,—which Saulus recognized with a frown,—the sacred Temple‐crowned
summit of Moriah caused a throb of rejoicing and patriotic pride. His eye
rested with satisfaction upon the great pile of snowy whiteness, founded
by Solomon, and rebuilt by Herod, with its long lines of marble pillars,
gates of Corinthian brass, and numerous towers and pinnacles overlaid with
silver and gold. How many courts, each encircling others within, lifted
themselves, tier above tier, to the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies, which
formed the sacred centre from which Jehovah radiated his glory in a
special and peculiar manner.

The sun ascended higher, and the whole scene melted into a dream of
shimmering whiteness and beauty. What an attraction and inspiration to
every Jew in all ages! Fitting type to him of all that is patriotic,
glorious, and heavenly! The soft green western slopes of Olivet formed a
peaceful and refreshing background to the busy haunts of men.

Such were some of the thoughts that passed in a trooping procession
through the mind of Saulus; and now, what of the present and future? What
of his own duties, hopes, dreams, and ambitions? What of the new heretical
sect, whose overthrow was to be his especial business and gratification?
What of the Rabban, his former companions, Serenus, the people at the inn?
Last, but far, oh, far from least, what of Cassia?

“O Cassia! little one! Will thy heart beat quickly, thy cheeks flush, and
thine eyes glisten at my coming? Hast thou dreams of my arrival, and hath
absence endeared me to thee? Hast thou often thought of him to whom thou
so faithfully and tenderly ministered? Thy messages seem not to have been
so warm and frequent of late. Surely thou hast not lost the image of
Saulus from thy heart?”

The young man was suddenly aroused from his prolonged revery by the
approach of a party of men, women, and children from the city. Some were
laden with small baskets and wallets containing wheaten wafers, and others
carried fruits, and skins of wine. It was a pleasure excursion of Hebrew
families for relaxation and enjoyment. They distributed themselves
promiscuously in groups among the shady and secluded seats and arbors,
dispersing in little parties, often of two or three, in the most informal
manner.

Almost before Saulus was aware of it, a young man and woman had seated
themselves immediately in front, their backs almost hidden by a light
hedge which was covered by running vines. Their seats were very near. His
first impulse was to retire, but that was impossible without observation;
and during a moment’s hesitation he heard something of remarkable
interest. A word distinctly uttered chained him to the spot. His position
was such that he plainly saw the backs of the young pair, just in front
and below him, through the interstices of the hedge, while he was entirely
concealed. He was no eavesdropper, but fate transfixed him.

“O my little Cassia! What a delightful place! What sayest thou? Shall we
not sit down and enjoy the prospect? Our friends seem to have scattered,
and left us to care for ourselves.”

“Which we are very well able to do, Barnabas. One might sit here and dream
over the Holy City.”

“Thou speakest truly, Cassia! Dreams and visions pertain not alone to
sleep and night. Thinkest thou not that a large part of life is unfolded
through them?”

“My wakeful visions are very real to me.”

“Yea, Cassia, thou judgest rightly! Day‐dreams are often true prophecies
of the future. The Greek philosophy, of which I learned something while at
the feet of Gamaliel, teacheth that our dreams of the future are like
patterns, and that as we hold them before our gaze, day by day, the things
we shape in our own minds really come about, and more, that we
unconsciously grow into their image. In other words, they take such hold
that we are slowly transformed by them.”

“Is such a doctrine peculiar to the Greeks? Do we not all have visions by
day as well as night? And do they not prophesy, and even promise much?
Nothing would tempt me to part with the pictures of the future that I
carry with me.”

“Ah, little Cassia! Are they, then, so precious to thee? Wilt thou give me
some hint of what they promise? I pray thee, canst thou not lend me a
share in them?”

“Peradventure they cannot be divided.”

“But at least they may be sketched in outline, if not shared. Wilt thou
not interpret for me the brightest vision that comes to thee?”

“How can I?”

“Peradventure I can divine it.”

“Peradventure thou canst not.”

“Knowest thou not, Cassia, that there are some who say they can read the
thoughts of their neighbor, much as they would an unrolled parchment?”

“Claimest thou such power for thyself?”

“I answer thee not as to my claim. But wilt thou that I try to be thy
interpreter?”

Cassia cast a curious but shy glance at her companion, who seemed much
absorbed in the distant mountain slopes.

“Yea; if thou wilt essay to play the part of a seer, and prophesy of my
future, I will listen. I would try thy powers.”

“It is not so much thy future, as thy thought of thy future, that I would
divine just now,” said Barnabas, with a half‐hidden smile. “Wilt thou tell
me if I interpret rightly?”

She again turned a searching glance toward his face, but his gaze was
still fastened upon the mountain landscape.

“Peradventure yea, and peradventure nay,” she replied, with a light flush;
“but please proceed.”

Barnabas bade adieu to the distant mountain, and with some vigor of manner
turned his face toward the maiden as if to read her thoughts.

“Almon, thy father, hath told me that Saulus is soon to return for a
season to the Holy City, and will sojourn at the inn of the Sheepmarket.
Nay, more! that he may arrive at any hour. Behold thy bright vision!”

The figure just beyond the hedge gave such a start that only the vital
interest of the twain in the topic of their conversation prevented a
discovery.

Little Cassia, who was not greatly disconcerted, pouted her lips a bit,
toyed with her fan, and took her turn in gazing at the mountain.

“O Barnabas! I would counsel thee, that thou set not up for an
interpreter. Seership is not befitting to thee.”

“Thou dost say neither yea nor nay.”

“I say that thou hast altogether missed thy calling.”

“It seemeth strange; but verily, I find much contentment in my error, if
my interpretation be not true.”

“It hath been told me by my father that Saulus is to return to Jerusalem,
in order that he may vex the new pestilent sect of heretics, which is said
to be gathering strength. I wot not more of his sojourn or plans.”

“I say unto thee again, that it rejoiceth me that my seership be at
fault.”

“True prophets are not usually so fickle.”

There was a slight tinge of cheery, though defiant, sarcasm in her tone,
and the flush on her cheek had heightened. Then a little period of silence
followed, during which Barnabas again gave himself to the mountain. On the
other side of the thin hedge a heart was beating so loudly that its throbs
were almost audible.

At length Barnabas turned, and gently picked up the little hand which was
temptingly near, and raising it, touched it to his lips, and as reverently
lowered it, after which it was slowly withdrawn.

“O my little Cassia! I again take up my seership! I have a bright new
dream of the future! our future—share and share. I am inspired by a love,
sweet, irresistible, and endless. The vision shows me that thine is the
soul that responds, and thy heart the one that beats in unison. I love
thee with every drop of my blood, and every thought that stirs my being.
We shall know happiness, peace, and devotion. Cassia, dear! I now proclaim
seership for thee! Behold now this bright vision with me!”

Gently his arm found its way around her slender form, and there was no
actual resistance. She was so near that her warm breath fell upon his
cheek.

The pent‐up forces in the soul that had been forced to listen burst forth
in an involuntary groan; and this, with a sudden shaking of the hedge,
startled the twain, when, at a glance, feeling the presence of a stranger
near, they turned quickly down the nearest pathway, and rejoined their
friends. The stranger, who was a stranger still to them, was left to his
own devices.



                               CHAPTER XIV
                             LOVE VERSUS DUTY


            O loving hearts with anguish rent;
              No sacrifice was e’er too great;
            Deny thyself till life is spent,
              Be purified through kindly fate.


The shadows deepened, and were fast chasing away the brightness which had
streamed down from above, in the luxurious court of the palace of
Gamaliel. The interview between the Rabban and his disciple was at an end,
and their long‐standing relation fully and finally severed. Neither
evinced any disposition to reconsider the decision, or question its
wisdom.

“O most worthy Rabban! I have had much honor, and thank thee for thy
manifold goodness in the days which are past. Though I go out from thy
presence, my respect will abide. Peace be with thee and thine!”

Serenus had arisen from his seat to take leave of his esteemed teacher and
master. The young man’s bearing, while calm and dignified, betokened a
warmth of affection which was deep and sincere. Strong ties were being
severed; but, in the nature of the case, there was no alternative. But the
perfect serenity and uncomplaining spirit shown by the young man at their
parting touched a tender chord in the heart of Gamaliel. His official
sternness melted away; and the warm, native gentleness of his nature burst
the barriers of his reserve.

“Stay for a little time, Serenus, I pray thee! I cannot let thee depart
without some farther assurance of my good‐will. Forgive me for the stern
decision which pertaineth to my office, for it grieveth me to make an end
to the acceptable service which thou hast rendered. My duty is heavy upon
my heart, for I have much affection for thee. I will not farther persuade
thee to forego thine earnest convictions, for I can but honor thy
consistency and unselfishness. To thee, duty demands sacrifice, and thou
dost cheerfully render it. Behold, thy friendship hath suffered no loss.”

“Thou dost honor me too much, O venerable Rabban! but I thank thee that,
even though I lay down my service in the Assembly of the Wise, I have thy
warm favor and esteem.”

Serenus again moved to take his departure, but the Rabban seemed unwilling
to let him go.

“Behold the hour is at hand for the evening repast! Stay thou and break
bread with us.”

Gamaliel led the way to the apartment where the simple evening meal was
served; and Serenus was greeted by Amabel and her mother, with whom he was
on friendly and familiar terms. Mutual esteem and previous visits had
inspired such confidence as might have been bestowed upon one of the
family. Serenus and Amabel were warm friends, but up to the present time
no word beyond the boundary of simple friendship had ever passed between
them.

After the meal was ended, Gamaliel withdrew briefly, being called to the
library by a scribe. As the evening was sultry, the others repaired to the
house‐top, where the Rabban would erelong rejoin them. But soon the mother
was also summoned away; and kind, or unkind, fate, through fortuitous
combination, left Serenus and Amabel by themselves. An easy seat,
sheltered by a light canopy, which was close by the parapet on the side
overlooking the city, invited their occupancy.

The sun long before had hid himself behind the Mount Ephraim Range in the
west; and darkness crept up from the valleys, and was fast blotting out
the tinting and burnishing that had softly rested upon battlements and
towers, and the neighboring slopes of Olivet. One by one the city lamps,
like fire‐flies, twinkled in the growing gloom, and the starry heaven
above solemnly marshalled its host, while the cheeks of the young pair
were fanned by the balmy evening breeze.

Amabel had great respect for the courage and sincerity of Serenus; but far
more than that, his image was deeply engraven upon her heart. But still,
after this long time, she felt unready to make the confession, even to
herself. As for Serenus, he long had lived among visions, and alternated
between hopes and fears. There had steadily gleamed in his soul love for
Amabel, and at times ecstasy beyond limit. Of her warm friendship he had
no doubt, but of more he was not sure. Who shall interpret human hearts to
each other?

But Serenus had long indulged the delightful dream which was constantly
before him. The beauty and purity of Amabel made her seem almost like a
divinity, worthy of any sacrifice and devotion, if not actual homage. But
now, knowing her devoted loyalty to her church and race, what hope could
remain for him? Deprived of his position by his own irrevocable choice,
and soon to be misunderstood and counted as disloyal to the interests of
the Chosen People, he had virtually dashed the cup of bliss from his own
lips. Was he not mad in his devotion to a principle, which would not only
cost place and reputation, but also wreck his long‐nourished hopes
regarding Amabel? Such were a few of the thoughts that rushed in a quick
procession through his mind, as he was thrown for a brief period into the
charmed presence. On her part there was an unwonted reserve. She seemed to
feel the approach of a crisis in her life. The deepening shadows veiled
her beautiful features, but the large lustrous eyes almost shone through
the blackness in soulful radiation.

“The darkness which from without falls upon us is a fitting symbol of that
which steals about my heart,” said Serenus.

“Why art thou so cast down, O Serenus?”

“I would fain answer thy question and open my soul to thee, fair one; but
a great trial is laid upon me.”

“Peradventure I might help thee to bear it.”

The gloom hid the expression of intense interest which played upon her
face as she had spoken. Serenus was also like a bow bent to the breaking‐
point.

“Sweet Amabel! long have I loved thee! From the time when at the Lyceum
thy speaking eyes thrilled me, thy charming soul hath been most dear. Thou
art the purest and fairest blossom of Israel in all the Holy City!”

Again the friendly shades of evening veiled the rich flush which mantled
the cheeks of the Jewish maiden. She was stirred to the depths of her
being, but waited to hear more. Serenus continued,—

“Thou wouldst inquire concerning the trial? Can anything pertaining to
love be a trial? I silence my beating heart to tell thee! Dear Amabel, do
not think me mad! _I accept as true the message of the prophet of
Nazareth, whom our own Chosen People counted as a blasphemer, and have
crucified!_ He was innocent, just, and holy! His life was pure, and his
love went out to all—even his persecutors. He lived the full divine
pattern for both Jew and Gentile. His kingdom is an unseen kingdom, and
cometh not with observation. He came not as an earthly conqueror, to throw
off the Roman yoke by force, but to show men how to unloose the heavier
yoke of spiritual bondage, carnality, and dead works. There is a light
which is in every man, but only the Man _Jesus_ hath perfected it in seen
demonstration and expression. Through the power of the Father, to which he
opened himself, he healed the sick, cleansed the leper, raised the fallen,
and saved the sinful, and proclaimed that all these works are possible to
all who are filled with the same spirit. He hath departed bodily; but the
fulness of life which he showed forth is ever in the world, waiting for
manifestation. The outer tumult of our lives may be so hushed that we can
hear the voice of Truth in the stillness within. True religion is
comprehended in oneness with the Father, and not in ceremonies and
ordinances.”

Serenus poured out these thoughts as though they had been burning within
him for utterance. After a moment’s pause he continued,—

“This is a new faith, howbeit it hath long had some growth within me. Yea,
before the advent of the Nazarene I felt somewhat of its spirit moving in
my heart. I have made all these things known to thy worthy father. My
reputation and honor among our people is gone, and my work in the Assembly
of the Wise ended! When these things that I have spoken unto thee reach
the ears of the scribes and elders, I shall be a reproach; yea,
persecution may be meted out to me.”

The soul of Amabel was wrung with agony as he continued,—

“Behold my trial! O fair daughter of Gamaliel, I am persuaded of thy
loving and pure loyalty to thy father, thy religion, and thy people! I
know my burden, and must bear it, even though it crush me! I go out from
thy father’s house, and will see thee no more.”

“O Serenus, I know well thy noble spirit! Must these things be?”

Serenus sat with bowed head, and made no answer.

Amabel was a loving and dutiful daughter of a tender father. But with all
his kindness, she well knew his firmness, and had no thought of putting it
to the test, or raising any question. Her whole training and life had been
devoted and consecrated to the religion of her people. While not bigoted
or exclusive, she was thoroughly sincere in every service. She also fully
divined both the firmness and sincerity of Serenus. She knew that his
impassioned utterances about the new religion welled up from the depths of
his soul, and saw how dearly they cost him. A great rock had suddenly been
rolled across her pathway, and there was no way around it. Silently
holding herself, and shrouded by the prevailing obscurity, the great hot
tears fell thick and fast.

  Fate’s shuttle weaves the web of life with pain;
    But in the struggle, see that thou art brave:
  When finished, loss may e’en be turned to gain,
    And love, perchance, enriched with all it gave.

The moments flew swiftly by. Amabel must be loyal, and she would be brave.
She must hide her love, even because of it. If Serenus knew of it, would
it not double the bitterness of his own cup? Can love suppress itself in
behalf of its own object? Yea, it will suffer all things.

“O Serenus! think no more of me! Thou art a noble spirit, but pray let thy
dreams of our future come to an end. There is a great gulf between us,
which love, even if it possessed me, could not span. It will be for thy
peace if our paths come no more together.”

There was another silence of several moments, during which the heart‐
throbs of each were almost audible, but no other word could be added. The
very palace beneath them was no more immovable than the fate which destiny
decreed, both by and for them.

Serenus found the great question echoing through the recesses of his
heart, as to the real feeling of Amabel toward him; but there was no
solution, and he even recognized that it were better so. What mattered it,
so long as the gulf that yawned between them was impassable!

The silence was soon broken by the return of the Rabban, who resumed the
conversation that had been interrupted. But he little dreamed what a
tension was upon the two young souls.

Serenus soon took his leave, passed out of the palace, and started down
the northerly descent of Mount Zion in the direction of his quiet home,
which was some distance to the north‐west, beyond Hezekiah’s Pool. But
before he had come to the end of the sloping palace gardens, he saw some
deserted seats among the scattered shrubbery upon one of the terraces, and
attracted by the balminess of the evening, sat down. The opportunity for
silent meditation and composure after the trying ordeal through which he
had passed was very welcome. He would take his bearings anew, and sound
the subtle recesses of his sorrows and experiences, and confirm and re‐
interpret his hopes and aspirations. At length he looked up into the
starry canopy above, and entered into communion with the Universal, and
his fevered pulse grew calm. He relaxed the soul‐tension which had been
upon him, and consciously opened his being to the eternal and all‐
prevailing Love and Goodness, and peace, like a river, flowed in. He was
conscious of an universal reconciliation with all things, past, present,
and future. The unbounded benediction which overwhelmed him submerged all
that had been local, temporary, and disquieting. His soul expanded, and he
was conscious of an at‐one‐ment with the whole order of Nature. It was all
in, of, and for him. What, after all, was the sweetness of the purest and
most beautiful personal affection but a rudimentary lesson, a detached
gleam, from the wide radiance of the unbounded sunlight! His love for
Amabel was like a little purling rill, finding its way to the ocean, not
to be destroyed, but enfolded in an infinitely Greater. It must become
multiplied, until Amabel is in all people, Jew and Gentile, Greek and
barbarian. If her form be no more beheld, she shall be an universal
interpreter. She is everywhere, even though unseen. Pierce through the
rough outer coverings of all souls, and the divine germ of Love is there,
only waiting for the light and moisture of consciousness so that it may
swell and spring forth. Amabel is in the whispering of the breeze, the
glow of the sunlight, the shimmer of the wave, the sighing of the forest,
and the patter of the rain‐drop. Divine Love at first can be interpreted
only through its personified sample, which kindles the beginning of a
flame in the human soul.

Serenus lingered long enough to make the world over for himself through
the choice of an ideal standpoint. He had learned the secret of spiritual
alchemy, so that the Universal was mirrored within him. His spirit
enlarged to make room for a mighty influx of love, peace, and power which
were borne in upon him. With soul calmed and filled with spiritual might
he arose, and with light heart and elastic step started toward his
destination. Passing through a long, narrow street just to the north of
the tall cenotaph of Mariamne, and leaving the square of the Sheepmarket a
little to the east, he continued towards home. It was midnight, and the
streets and lanes were lonely and nearly deserted. But as he came near a
small secluded open court by the side of a wine‐shop, he heard a confusion
of voices. He hurried his pace, and coming nearer discerned a prostrate
form surrounded by four or five turbulent fellows, who were searching the
garments of their victim for valuables. He sprang into their midst; and
the onslaught was so sudden that the men, thinking that one of the Roman
guard was at hand, scattered and ran in different directions. They already
had secured all the booty they could find, and had no disposition to
return.

Serenus gently moved the body to a more secure spot not far away, and
removing his own tunic, folded it, and placed it under the head of the
wounded man. Espying a legionary guard in the distance, who carried a
torch, he called to him, and reported the robbery. They carefully examined
the man, but found no wound. He was a Jew of small stature, delicate and
deathly pale, and, except a hurried gasping for breath, entirely
motionless. Everything indicated that he had fainted in the street, and
that the young barbarians, finding him in that helpless condition, had
taken occasion to rob him. His eyes were closed, but soon there was a
little more evidence of animation. At length he began to mutter
incoherently, as if dreaming. Serenus loosened his neck‐cloth, chafed his
limbs, and stroked back his dishevelled locks, and behold, the face had a
familiar look. The muttering continued, and became more audible.

“O Cassia! _Cassia!_ O CASSIA! Oh! Oh!”

Serenus knew nothing of “Cassia;” but a quick vision of the past flashed
before him, and he beheld a face to which the colorless features bore a
striking resemblance.

“Saulus! Yea, it is Saulus! My old comrade of the Assembly and the
Lyceum!”

It was known to Serenus that Saulus had lodged aforetime at the inn of the
Sheepmarket; and as it was not far away, he and the legionary tenderly
bore him thither. They knocked at the outer portal; but as it was far into
the night, all were sleeping. But continuing, Almon at length made his
appearance, and after explanation admitted them. Saulus had become more
quiet, but was still unconscious. When he had been carefully placed upon a
soft couch, the Roman departed.

“O my dear friend Saulus!” said Almon sorrowfully; “thou hast nearly
perished! O Saulus! Saulus!”

He started to arouse his wife and Cassia; but Serenus advised that they be
not disturbed, but that he himself be permitted to minister to the
unconscious Saulus for a little time before taking his departure.

There was something so reassuring and commanding in the mien of Serenus
that the innkeeper consented without a question.

“With the rising of the sun, behold thou shalt see him entirely whole!”
exclaimed Serenus.

Almon was then beckoned to stillness; and he seated himself at a little
distance, and looked on with astonishment. Serenus gently took the hands
of Saulus in his own, and seating himself, rested his calm gaze upon the
pale face before him.

The room was filled with a mysterious stillness, and there was a feeling
as of a _Presence_. To Almon there seemed to be an added surrounding
brightness, and he was filled with a holy awe which he could not
understand. Then he thought he heard the stranger whisper a benediction.
Soon Saulus wearily opened his eyes and looked about him, but failed to
recognize his surroundings. There was another profound silence, and
another benediction in soft but now audible tones.

Then the sick man gaped twice, turned upon his side, and sank into a
sweet, natural slumber. Soon his deep, regular breathing indicated sound
and refreshing sleep. Almon marvelled. Serenus arose to take his
departure, only saying,—

“He is well.”

“What a wonderful work! Who art thou, kind stranger?”

He only replied, “A friend of Saulus,” and softly passing through the
portal went out into the darkness.



                               CHAPTER XV
                          THE RESCUE OF REBECCA


            Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them
                        praise his name in the dance.
            Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
                                                              PSALM cxlix.


It was but two days to the great Jewish festival of Pentecost, and
Jerusalem was already thronged with pilgrims. They came pouring in through
all the great thoroughfares,—from Damascus to the northward, which entered
near Golgotha; from the seaports to the west and northwest, through the
defiles of the hill‐country of Mount Ephraim, and from the south,
approaching through the valley of Kedron; also along the lesser byways—a
great host. They journeyed in families, parties, and festal bands, singing
songs and praises, and bringing offerings. The air was stirred with a
thrill of national pride and exaltation. Even the great overshadowing
cloud of the Roman dominion could not dampen the ardor nor repress the
spirit of the harvest festival commonly known as the Feast of Weeks.

The Hebrew had an unbounded faith in the future and permanent redemption
of the Lord’s people, and his ideal of restoration and final triumph was
ever before him. However galling the shackles, their loosening had been
decreed, and was expected. Even the pilgrims of the more distant countries
of the Dispersion were in no wise behind in their ardor as they gathered
at the sacred city, “whither the tribes go up.” Each loyal heart swelled
with pride as the great Temple came into view, where the God of Israel
found his special dwelling‐place in the Holy of Holies, from which he
radiated his glory.

During the great Hebrew festivals every son of Israel who lived in the
Holy City hospitably opened his house to the pilgrims; and as the climate
was warm during the month Sivan, thousands slept upon roofs, and also
encamped in and around the city. Many pitched tents within the limits of a
“Sabbath day’s journey” outside the walls.

Among the great throng was a little party of four from the distant seaport
of Tarsus. The aged priest Abdiel, with Benoni and his wife and Rebecca,
came not only to attend the festival, but for a longer sojourn. Their
arrival was a few days later than that of Saulus, he having been charged
to make provision for their necessities. They were to abide at the
Sheepmarket.

The little Tarsian group approached by the road from Cæsarea, and coming
upon the elevation beyond the walls to the northwest, beheld the City of
David spread out before them. The roof of the Temple, which crowned
Moriah, overlaid with beaten gold, glittered in the warm Judean sunshine;
and as the eyes of Abdiel rested upon it, he fell on his knees, and
stretched out his hands toward heaven.

“The God of Israel be praised! Long aforetime the eyes of thy servant
rested upon thy Holy Hill, and now, once more, behold the Glory of the
Whole Earth is spread before me.”

He then arose, and looking up to heaven, repeated from the Psalms of
David,—

  “In Salem also is his tabernacle,
  And his dwelling‐place in Zion.
  My covenant will I not break,
  Nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
  Once have I sworn by my holiness;
  I will not lie unto David;
  His seed shall endure forever,
  And his throne as the sun before me.”

He ceased, and again fastened his gaze upon the Holy Hill. But anon a
tremor shook his frame, his eyes became fixed, and he was as one in a deep
trance. His countenance changed, his lips seemed moved by some mysterious
power, and a message which was like a prophecy came out of his mouth. Even
the voice was not that of Abdiel.

“Behold, little ones are born already whose eyes shall see Jerusalem as a
heap of ruins. Sons of Israel will arise against each other, and strife
and famine among thy people ravage thee within, while Roman cohorts invest
thee from without. Battering rams will cause thy bulwarks to crumble; thy
palaces shall be sacked, thy towers crushed, and thy Temple destroyed by
fire. Pestilence, famine, and war shall bring thee to utter desolation,
until thou lie in heaps. Thy glory shall vanish, thy name become a
reproach and a hissing, and the Gentiles shall level thy ruins and dwell
upon them.”

Again the frame of Abdiel was shaken, and he came to himself.

“Behold, O Benoni, I have seen an exceeding calamitous vision!”

“O Rabbi Abdiel! we have heard thee prophesy evil concerning the Holy
City!”

“I wot not that I had spoken; but oh, the vision! Here where Jerusalem
lieth stretched out before me, lo! I beheld a mighty battle. Famine,
sword, and fire prevailed, and then anon I saw but an ash‐heap!”

“Behold, O Rabbi Abdiel, peradventure a lying spirit hath possessed thee,
and used thy lips!”

The venerable priest marvelled.



The day of the great and most joyous of the Jewish festivals opened bright
but sultry. The early morning sun was pouring his warm beams over Mount
Olivet, and gilding tower and roof, as Serenus wended his way toward a
large upper chamber which was just below the westerly slope of the Holy
Hill. This was where the disciples of the prophet of Nazareth were wont to
gather, day by day, before the third hour. It was his first visit, and he
was unknown to the followers of the Nazarene. From his youth in
Alexandria, where he had been instructed by the great teacher Philo, he
had been free in spirit from the traditions of the elders. He had learned
somewhat of the Greek philosophy, and also dwelt for a season among the
devoted Jewish sects of the Essenes and Therapeutæ. Being of a singularly
pure and religious nature, he found the best in each, and attained to much
wisdom and discernment, even before he came to Jerusalem. While a Jew by
birth, and yet an observer of the more simple forms of the Hebrew worship,
he had gradually found them burdensome, until his free declarations
concerning the Spirit of Truth made it expedient even for the tolerant
Gamaliel to part with him. He had long accounted the kingdom of God as a
spiritual kingdom, having no connection with the government of the Jewish
nation. He felt that its seat was within, and that its coming would be
without observation.

Serenus had lived the Sermon on the Mount before its audible delivery.
During the public life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, he had continued
with Gamaliel, but had watched intently the spirit and teaching of the
newly arisen prophet. While not aforetime casting in his lot with his
immediate followers, he was in perfect accord with his work and mission.
Day by day he had lived in the hope that the sonship which had expression
in the great prophet might find knowledge and favor of the Rabbis and all
the people. His own life and teaching with Gamaliel were to the end of the
hastening of peace and righteousness, and the reign on earth of love and
good will. Before the Nazarene had appeared, he felt within himself the
eternal Christly spirit, or that divine mind and will which was so soon to
have new and perfected incarnation. But when the scribes and elders
persecuted and slew the Man in whom the Word was articulated, he must
needs forego all conformity to them, avow the Truth, and peradventure
suffer persecution himself.

Serenus found the large upper chamber well filled, and those who had
gathered were speaking words of gladness and praise. Their faces shone
with the spirit of love, and there was perfect accord and unity. Men and
women prophesied, each one as moved by inspiration; and there were also
times of silence, when all were possessed with a spiritual ecstasy which
no tongue could interpret. All were stirred to open themselves to the Holy
Spirit, and it filled and overflowed them. Love was so eloquent in every
countenance that all, whatever their native language, heard and understood
its voice in their own souls. Each one praised and magnified God for his
heavenly vision, and all felt that these were the first fruits of a new
spiritual dominion. Every one offered his unbounded service to his
neighbor, and mighty works of ministry and healing attested the power of
the spirit which was in them. Their joy knew no measure. Those who had
been slow of speech waxed eloquent, the weak grew strong, the fearful
became bold, and the unlearned spoke words of wisdom. Serenus marvelled
and rejoiced as he heard their utterances.

“Glory to God for he is our strength!”

“Peace and good will to all on earth!”

“We give free course to the same spirit which filled Jesus of Nazareth!”

“The goodness of the Lord enlargeth our heart!”

“The chains of captives fall off and they go free!”

“Our eyes behold thy salvation!”

“The way of life is made plain before us!”

“Our countenances shine with the glory of thy presence!”

“The day of the Lord hath dawned!”

“Signs and wonders are multiplied!”

“Behold our sons and daughters shall prophesy!”

“A great light hath been kindled in our souls!”

“The Spirit of Truth is in our midst!”

“Our love aboundeth toward all men!”

Such were a few of the manifold testimonies.

The soul of Serenus was aflame with praise and gladness. Looking about
him, he perceived that nearly all who had gathered were unlearned, and of
no reputation; such as had contempt of the Pharisees and doctors of the
Law. Whence this wonderful wisdom! Oh, joyful demonstration! Behold the
tabernacle of God is now within the hearts of men!

  O breath of God! breathed by his children now,
    Free course his spirit hath; their souls aspire.
  With life and love their hearts thou dost endow,
    Baptized e’en now with warmth of heavenly fire.

Serenus was inspired to mingle his wisdom with that of this spiritual
love‐feast, and he addressed the assembly:—

“Brethren, it is good to be here; for lo, the power of God filleth this
place. But peradventure ye persuade yourselves that God hath become more
willing than he was wont, and therefore hath repented him of the past, and
now poureth out his Spirit more abundantly. Nay! His Spirit hath always
been poured out, for it filleth all things; but now, with one accord, ye
have opened yourselves to it. Behold God hath not changed, for he hath
everlasting perfection, and abideth everywhere. He is not like unto men,
giving or withholding his favor by times and seasons, but is everlasting
fulness, now and through all time, to all who discover him and find his
kingdom within. Behold the same mind which filled the Nazarene to the
uttermost dwelleth unmanifested in all; but they wot not of its presence,
for they look without, expecting it to come with observation. While Jesus
was with you after the flesh, behold your eyes were holden by his bodily
presence, but now ye see how the Spirit of the Messiah aboundeth unto all.
God dwelleth not in oblations and circumcisions and ordinances, nay, even
not in yonder Temple more than in all the earth, for his presence is
everywhere. Behold, whether Jew or Gentile, Parthian, Mede, or Elamite, be
ye renewed in the inner man, for there is where God speaketh. As ye put on
the Christly mind, which was incarnated in Jesus, ye have salvation within
you. His blood, being interpreted, betokens his inmost eternal quality;
and this is Spirit, and this is life. Till now ye knew not that ye had
Christ in you, waiting for your outworking. But now ye have opened your
vision, and therefore abound in faith, and show forth God’s power as it
becometh his children. I salute every one of you in love.”

As Serenus concluded, many gathered about him, and grasped him by the
hand, and blessed and saluted him.

The news of the unwonted fervor of the assembly soon became noised abroad;
and many who were curious hastily gathered, and marvelled at what they
saw. Many false reports went out concerning it, until one Peter, a
disciple, formerly weak, but now of great boldness, lifted up his voice
and made explanation, showing that according to prophecy all these things
should come to pass.

After Serenus went out, he joined the great throng, and went up to the
Jewish Pentecost at the Temple. He desired once more to behold the great
national festival of his own people, to which the pilgrims from all the
scattered tribes had come up.

The tramp of a multitude of feet resounded through the outer courts. The
strange costumes of Jews and proselytes from Mesopotamia and Cappadocia,
from Pontus, Egypt, and Arabia, mingled in picturesque color and design
with the less conspicuous habiliments of the denizens of the Holy City.
There was a great confusion of tongues and dialects, and the tables of the
money‐changers were loaded with piles of strange coins from many
countries. The dues of the Temple, and the price of lambs, goats, and
bullocks, must needs be paid for in the sacred money of Judea. There were
great pens containing lambs of the first year, selected by the priests as
being without blemish, and rams and he‐goats, approved as sound, to be
sold for sacrifices, the large profit going to the priests, as pertaining
to their office. The bleating and lowing of the herds that were crowded
into the great Temple market—soon to suffer religious martyrdom—was
mingled with the vast babel of other sounds and voices. The marble
pavement was littered with refuse, and would soon be stained with blood,
poured out by the priests in conformity to the ceremonial law. The blare
of silver trumpets, and the reverberation of patriotic and religious
anthems, which were sung as ordained by the Levites, also formed a part of
the great chorus. All the broad spaces on Mount Moriah swarmed with
humanity, and the sweltering, brassy air vibrated with clamor and motion.
The Gate Beautiful, which led from the court of the Gentiles to that of
the Women, was flung wide open, and its fair proportions awakened the
pride of every Hebrew. Farther on, and leading into the court of Israel,
was the still more celebrated Gate of Nicanor, made of polished Corinthian
brass, which was so brilliant in the bright sunshine as to dazzle every
beholder.

At length the ceremonies began. The priests, dressed in long white robes,
moved with unsandalled feet to and fro in long processions with military
precision, and finally ranged themselves in a great semicircle, each with
two leavened loaves and a peace offering, and waved them before the Lord.
The animals were slain in great numbers, and placed upon the altars for
the appointed sacrifices, the fires were lighted, and the smoke of incense
ascended toward heaven, until the fierce rays of the sun were almost shut
out by the great cloud that hung over the Holy Hill. At length the silver
trumpets blew a great blast as a signal for silence. The High Priest,
flanked by his subordinates, advanced upon an elevated gallery in the
sight of the vast multitude, stretched forth his hands toward heaven with
fingers mystically dispread, and blessed the people in the name of the God
of Israel. The heart of every Hebrew swelled with pride as the great
festal service was celebrated, and even Roman centurions looked on with
interest.

Serenus was deeply moved as he silently viewed the mighty concourse, and
witnessed the elaborate ritual which in the past concerned him, and had
been wrapped about his whole life. He then thanked God that the fetters
which had held him even lightly were now broken, and that the light of
truth had shone into his soul, and destroyed a yoke of bondage which long
had been galling.

Serenus secured a position somewhat elevated above the heads of the
people, just inside of the Beautiful Gate; and from it he made a wide
survey of the imposing ceremonies of the Feast of Weeks. He marvelled how
this favored people, the descendants of Abraham and possessors of a rich
spiritual heritage, had disregarded the warnings of old, and permitted
their worship to degenerate into outward legality and form. The simple
ordinances, which once were only the tokens of a pure inner faith, had
become an unceasing round of cumbersome and dead observances. The life of
the Jewish system had withered, and the cup of bitterness of the Chosen
People was fast filling up. But what could he or the little band of the
upper chamber do, to clothe with flesh and life the dry bones of the dead
religious faith of a dispersed race? Such were a few of his musings when
he beheld the great throng, as they surged in and out before him.

But suddenly the air grew thick, and a heavier cloud than that of the
sacrificial smoke overshadowed the temple courts. It was growing late in
the afternoon, and a sudden tempest was at hand, following the great heat.
Anon a blinding flash of lightning and peal of thunder that shook the very
foundations of the Temple. A darkness fell like that of night, which was
made thicker by contrast with the flashes which now seemed like fiery
serpents, shooting through and around the Temple, and leaping athwart the
heavens. A panic seized the great throng, and there was a mad rush to
escape. Cries of anguish rent the air, as many were trampled down by the
affrighted mass. Many were crushed by the pressure of the crowd behind,
and all semblance of order was lost in the great struggle for life. Men,
women, and children were pressed against the platform upon which Serenus
was seated, and even those who were able to keep upright were borne
helplessly along. There was a chorus of groans almost below his feet. He
fell upon his breast, and found that by reaching down to the utmost, he
was able to grasp the hands of some who were borne upon the shoulders of
others. In this way he was able to rescue not a few, by lifting them to
the level of the platform where he was. By the light of a vivid flash, he
saw in the drifting current an elderly man, upon whose shoulders there was
a young woman, whose drooping form and pale face showed that she had
swooned. The man who carried her aloft had a glimpse of Serenus above him,
and cried out as he was swept along,—

“Take her! Oh, save her! save her!”

By a supreme effort, Serenus was able to grasp her arm, and lift her to
his own level, while he who had made the entreaty was quickly lost to
sight in the irresistible moving tide and thick darkness. Serenus laid her
tenderly down; and another woman, whom he before had lifted by his strong
grasp, assisted in ministration. The face of the prostrate form was of the
Jewish type, but her features were regular and beautiful. Her long black
hair hung in wild confusion, as if to symbolize the disorderly scene
through which she had passed. Her costume betokened refinement and social
standing. Around her white neck there was a network of delicate gold
chains interspersed with small precious stones. The folds of her white
loose‐fitting robe, of soft texture, were gathered by a girdle woven of
golden threads, from which hung pendants of small pearls.

After a vigorous fanning and a little interval of rest, she gasped, opened
her eyes, and slowly came to herself.

“O my father! where art thou? O Saulus!”

Serenus marvelled.

“Is Saulus thy friend? Pray, who art thou?”

“I am Rebecca, the daughter of Benoni of Tarsus.”



                               CHAPTER XVI
                             AFTER THE STORM


The fury of the storm rapidly diminished. The great rushing tide of men,
women, and children soon thinned out and grew sluggish. The darkness
lifted, and the lightning‐flashes and peals of thunder died away, but the
great worshipful throng was demoralized and scattered.

The panic began when some marble columns in the tier beyond the court of
Israel had been struck by lightning, and shattered and thrown down,
wounding several priests, who were washing their hands in the great brazen
Laver. Such was the starting‐point of the stampede which had been so
disastrous and widespread.

Rebecca was uninjured, and rapidly recovered from the prevailing fright
and excitement. Except for the anxiety regarding the fate of her father,
she was soon quite herself. She turned to her unknown deliverer to render
him thanks.

“The God of Israel reward thee, O son of Judah! Thy gracious ministry was
my salvation. Receive the thanks of the daughter of Benoni. My father will
joyfully bless thee, and also reward thy goodness if thou wilt accept some
favor.”

“Fair maid of the house of Benoni! the Lord hath already rewarded me
abundantly, for I have much joy in thy deliverance.”

The pallor and weakness which marked her face gradually passed away, and
gave place to a look of interest and curiosity.

“It all seems like a confused dream. I remember that my father lifted me
to his shoulders to bear me out of the mad throng, and I knew nothing
further until I found myself here.”

“He delivered thee into my hands, by his own words, and now, behold we
will seek him.”

Rebecca was now able to walk, and they passed out through the Beautiful
Gate in quest of Benoni. There were groups of people everywhere; many
drenched by the great storm, some faint or wounded, and a few of the more
helpless were being borne away by friends, or keepers of the Temple
courts. But the father of Rebecca was nowhere to be found.

“Peradventure he hath been bruised or faint, and taken to the inn of Almon
where we abide. I will return thither. But I am a stranger in the Holy
City. May I still presume upon thy favor in that thou wouldst show me the
way?”

The sky had already cleared, the air was sweet and fresh, and the sun
dispensing his parting beams before sinking below the western horizon.

“Behold what a great calm follows the tempest,” said Rebecca. “The Holy
City seems purified.”

“A fitting symbol of the storms and waves that rage in the soul of man,”
said Serenus. “They chasten, and then in due time bring forth a harvest of
peace.”

“Must peace of soul come only as the result of tempest?”

“I say not that; but yet life is like the ebb and flow of the tides. If
stillness were never broken up, peradventure there would be stagnation. It
is the fury of the storm that gives tranquillity its charm.”

“Should we, then, seek for waves to buffet us?”

“Nay; but when they come unsought, we should be lifted by them rather than
submerged.”

“Peradventure one be not able?”

“That must not be conceded even to ourselves.”

“What is the secret of overcoming?”

“Keep a well‐ordered mind, for our life is what our thoughts make it. Look
beneath the surface of things. When the billows of the sea are angry, and
foam and dash themselves, there is serenity in their unseen deeps.”

“Thou must account thyself a philosopher as well as a son of Israel.”

“Daughter of Benoni! I am a Jew; but the Chosen People are not the sole
possessors of wisdom. It aboundeth through all the earth, but only they
who seek it for its own sake taste of its fulness.”

They passed out through the west Temple gate of the outer court, and down
the long flight of steps along the slope of Mount Moriah. The steep
descent caused Rebecca again to grow dizzy from faintness, and she leaned
upon Serenus for support. He put his arm about her to save her from
falling, and thus they made their way as rapidly as possible toward the
Sheepmarket. As they entered a narrow street, they met, face to face, a
young woman moving with a rapid step in the opposite direction. She gave
Serenus a slight salutation, and quickly passed by. He was still
supporting Rebecca, and was startled at the recognition. It was Amabel.

Arriving at the inn, Rebecca invited Serenus to enter, and receive the
thanks of her friends. But he made some plea of haste, and turned to
depart, only saying,—

“Peace abide with thee!”

She returned the salutation, and then, remembering that he had not made
himself known, except as a son of Israel, inquired,—

“Who art thou, that we may send thee greeting for thy great favor?”

“I am a friend of Saulus;” and before her knock was answered, he was out
of sight.



A few days after, late in the afternoon, a little group were holding
earnest converse in the court of the Sheepmarket inn. Abdiel, the
venerable Rabbi of Tarsus, bewailed the changes which had come to pass in
the Holy City since his long sojourn there many years before.

“Behold,” he exclaimed bitterly, “false prophets and teachers have arisen,
and boldly proclaim their blasphemous doctrines in the synagogues, yea, in
the very courts of the Temple on the Holy Hill. The streams which should
flow out in pure volume to refresh and confirm the children of the
Dispersion are becoming poisoned at the fountain‐head.”

“It is even as thou sayest, O venerable Abdiel!” replied Almon. “We may
almost perceive heresy and false doctrine in the very air about us! It
cometh mainly from the followers of an impostor named Jesus of Nazareth,
who was crucified not long ago between two thieves. His disciples have
waxed yet more bold in their teachings; and some of them set at naught the
Holy Place itself, while others continue in the ordinances of the Chosen
People, but lightly esteem them.”

“What manner of people are they? and what is their doctrine?”

“Saulus is more learned in these matters, and can more perfectly inform
thee.”

“I have heard from common report, since coming from Tarsus, somewhat of
the Galilean and his doings. He was without reputation or learning, but by
certain charms and magical works and healings was able to deceive many. He
even made pretence to the Messiahship, boasted that he could destroy the
Temple in three days, and called himself the King of the Jews.”

“As he was no king, and did nothing to restore the kingdom and drive out
the Roman, peradventure he was mad, or possessed of an evil spirit,” said
Abdiel.

“That matters not, O venerable Rabbi! so long as his followers are
multiplied and have waxed bold. They must be driven out or destroyed,
otherwise great harm will befall the church of our fathers. It hath come
to my ears, O Almon! that my former enemy, the false teacher Serenus, hath
joined himself to these blasphemers, and that the Rabban hath put him away
from the Assembly. It behooveth us to be vigilant, else this heresy may
spread even to the overthrow of our nation and people. I shall counsel
with the High Priest on the morrow, and take measures to rid the Holy City
of these deceivers who are persuading the common people with their vain
pretensions.”

“Thou speakest with wisdom and boldness,” said Almon; “yet it behooveth
thee to proceed with caution and secrecy, for this new doctrine hath taken
a strong hold upon the ignorant and unlearned. I have heard of one
Stephanos, who is vehement for the strange heresy. He is young and
learned, and speaketh both in the Hebrew and Greek tongues.”

“It hath been told me, O Almon! how he stirreth up the people by his
eloquence, and of his disputations, whereby he may gain a great following.
Peradventure on the morrow he may be at the synagogue of the Cyrenians, as
hath been wont. I will go and confront this calumniator of our Holy Law.”

“The God of Israel be with thee!” said Abdiel. “Thou art strong and
courageous in the defence of our doctrine.”

Since the return of Saulus he had been earnestly occupied in the formation
of plans for the uprooting of false doctrine, and the punishment of the
violators of the ceremonial law. His zeal in this cause was only
alternated and tempered by his periods of depression and uncertainty as to
the affection of Cassia. His strength as a champion of the traditions of
the elders was only equalled by the power of his love for her, but the
former inspired strength and the latter weakness. He could face unnumbered
heretics without a fear, but was vanquished by the sight of the
innkeeper’s daughter. Day after day had swiftly passed since his return
from Tarsus, but still he was utterly in the dark as to her real feelings.
She was friendly, and took a deep interest in all his plans for crushing
the traitors in the camp of Israel, but more he could not clearly divine.
He was holden from making any allusion to the involuntary eavesdropping
upon the occasion of his arrival; and what he had heard on the part of
little Cassia had been so indefinite that he lived in a condition of
mingled hope, fear, and uncertainty. Barnabas was still at the
Sheepmarket, but there was nothing in his actions to aid in the solution
of the riddle. Saulus loved with all the intensity of his fiery nature;
and he even persuaded himself that if Cassia loved Barnabas, he could do
nothing but flee the Holy City, and so drifted along, not daring to find
out the truth. The suspense could not much longer be borne.

As he retired to his chamber after the conversation, he sat down to
commune with himself, and decide upon some course of action. His was no
ordinary affection. The world without little Cassia would be a desert.

“Was I born for this strange, unfathomable emotion? O Eros! why hast thou
so enslaved me? I am hopelessly bound by thy fetters. But stay! unmindful
of the God of Israel, I have called upon the name of the strange deity of
the Greek. I crave forgiveness, O Jehovah! I would not blaspheme.
Perchance she hath crowded thee out of my heart, but my love is not born
of the senses. It is my spirit and life, O Cassia! that I would mingle
with thine.

“Wherever I look I behold thee! Thou art sunshine in the midst of
darkness! I dare not gaze upon thy features, or look into thine eyes; for
thy soul shines out and dazzles me. O little Cassia! I was here with thee
even while I was absent. As I neared Jerusalem, I dreamed of Paradise, but
was plunged into the valley of Gehenna! O Future, speak! and make known my
fate!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

  Love e’en through absence waxeth strong,
    Doth souls when parted fast enchain:
  Fruition, hasten! wait not long,
    O heavenly Queen! begin thy reign.

The synagogue of the Cyrenians was in the valley of the Cheesemongers, a
little to the northeast of the Pool of Siloam. It was a simple, square
building, severely plain in the interior, with Scripture‐texts printed on
the whitewashed walls. The platform was enclosed by a rail, and occupied
at times by any male member of the synagogue who could read and expound
the Law. The seats were divided into two sections by a lattice‐work
partition, the men occupying one side, and the women the other. The
services were not confined to the Sabbath, but often held on other days of
the week, and sometimes in the evening.

It was a bright morning, and the synagogue was thronged with worshippers,
part being Sadducees; and there were also many Jews who were pilgrims from
the countries beyond Judea, having remained after the Feast of Pentecost.
It had been noised abroad that Stephanos, the eloquent young apostle of
the New Faith, would speak touching the interpretation of the Law and
prophets. Many knew of him; for he had healed some sick folk, and done
signs and wonders among the common people. Abdiel, Benoni, Saulus, and
Cassia convened with the congregation. The rulers of the synagogue had
consented that Stephanos should lead in the exposition of Scripture for
that day. Comely and youthful in appearance, he stepped upon the platform,
and searching among the rolls of the Law, brought out many passages, which
he read and briefly expounded as he passed along. He then re‐rolled them
carefully, and putting them away, addressed the assembly.

“Ye men of Israel! I count myself happy to proclaim to you the
Dispensation now beginning, which betokens the fulfilment of great
promises, not to the Jews only, but to all the nations of the earth. Ye
are the inheritors of the promise made to Abraham: ‘And in thy seed shall
all the families of the earth be blessed.’ And again, Moses indeed saith,
‘A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren,
like unto me; to him shall ye hearken in all things, whatsoever he shall
speak unto you.’ Daniel prophesieth of the setting up of ‘an everlasting
kingdom,’ and this kingdom is at hand. David asked to ‘find a habitation
for the God of Jacob.’ ‘But the Most High dwelleth not in houses made with
hands;’ as saith the prophet,—

  ‘The heaven is my throne,
  And the earth the footstool of my feet.’

“And now, behold Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth, was he in whom ‘all the
families of the earth shall be blessed.’ Him have ye slain, and taken his
blood upon you and your children. He was the Son of God; and his kingdom,
being a spiritual kingdom, will know no end. Ye look for a king who will
restore your nation, but I warn you that no such sign may be given. The
kingdom of God filleth the whole earth. The Holy Spirit hath been poured
out, and dwelleth with all who seek its guidance. Jesus, after the flesh,
we know no more; but the same spirit that was in him aboundeth unto all
who will receive it. It yieldeth fruits of faith, hope, love, courage, and
patience, and is peaceful, longsuffering, and kind. It is an awakening of
a higher life and mind in men, be they Jew or Gentile. Behold it maketh
all things new, for its faith is fruitful and multiplieth all good. God
requireth not sacrifices, burnt‐offerings, and ceremonial oblations, but
would have a pure worship. Neither doth circumcision avail anything except
it be of the heart. Ye turn your backs upon the commandment of God while
holding fast to the tradition of men.”

“Behold the reviler of the Chosen People and our holy Law,” cried a voice,
interrupting. It was that of Saulus. “Men of Israel! I call ye to witness
the blasphemy which cometh out of his mouth. He hath spoken against the
Temple, and contemned the Holy of Holies which is the dwelling‐place of
the God of our fathers. He hath extolled the impostor, whom our people,
with righteous indignation, crucified in the company of thieves. He
profaneth and setteth at naught the circumcision. He revileth all the holy
ordinances which were commanded of our fathers, and would turn the Hebrew
worship upside down. I adjure ye, O men of Israel! that ye have account of
his words, and he shall answer before the Sanhedrin.”

There was great confusion in the assembly; and some were minded to bear
Stephanos away by force, and others that he be permitted to speak. He
raised his hand as a signal for silence, but the uproar continued. Finding
that the tumult could not be quelled, he left the synagogue under the
protection of a few apostles of the New Faith, declaring that he would
speak further of the coming Dispensation on the morrow.



On the evening of the same day, Saulus received the hearty greetings of
his friends at the Sheepmarket. Besides the families of Benoni and the
innkeeper, many of the former friends of Saulus, members of the _Urim_,
came to encourage, and if necessary support, their valiant leader in the
warfare he had in view. There was a secret gathering of the order the same
evening; and it was finally agreed that all would be at the Cyrenian
synagogue at the next meeting, and that Stephanos should not be allowed to
speak.

After parting with his comrades for the night, Saulus returned to the inn.
The evening was sultry; and he went to the house‐top to breathe the fresh
air, and cool the feverish emotions which stirred him. The moon was full;
and the City of David, with the mountains which encompass it, lay spread
out in clear outline and dreamy repose. Other persons were scattered in
different parts of the commodious resort upon the roof; but as Saulus was
in a troubled mood, he sought a retired corner where he could be alone.
Absorbing as had been the interest in his people, their religion, and the
impending conflict with Stephanos, his thoughts of these things were
speedily crowded out by the ever‐present image of little Cassia. She had
been enshrined in his thoughts so long that she had gained a rightful
residence, and he could not dismiss her if he would. She was the
unanswered question that stirred his heart, ever pressing for solution, so
that it kept his soul in a constant agitation. His ruling aspiration,
learning, and leadership in the church of his fathers, nay, his whole
character and life, seemed to be merged and transformed into a great
passionate longing for the ever‐present Ideal which was mirrored in his
soul. It was the charming but uncertain centre about which everything else
revolved.

The stillness of the starry heavens rebuked the madness of his wild
passion, and pleaded eloquently for serenity among the disorderly elements
of human attachment; but the appeal was unheeded. The pinions of his soul
beat and were wounded against the bars of the cage which hemmed him in. A
love so supreme was tyrannical, so that he almost wished to be freed, and
that it might all vanish from his breast. He felt oppressed, fevered, and
thoroughly enslaved. He leaned forward, bowed his head, and tightly
pressed his throbbing brow. A misty, strange vision possessed him.
Everything he beheld was being rent in twain. Some Force took hold of him,
and he felt as if his own soul were severed and divided. At length he saw
Cassia borne away through the air by some implacable Power, but her hands
were stretched out imploringly towards him. He unconsciously uttered a
deep groan, and the intensity of his agony aroused him. A quick, light
step, and some one was at his side. He lifted his head, and saw Cassia.

“Art thou ill, Saulus? Behold, I heard thee speak loudly as if in anguish,
and thou calledst my name.”

“O Cassia! I had fallen asleep, and dreamed of evil. Regard it not, I pray
thee!”

“But, Saulus, thou art pale and trembling. I will bring wine to refresh
thee.”

“Nay, I want for nothing but peace and rest, and they can come only of the
Future.”

“I would give thee comfort, Saulus. Behold thou didst call my name! Wast
thou dreaming of me?”

“Little Cassia! I had a vision that some fateful Power was bearing thee
away, and as we were separated thou didst stretch out thy hands
imploringly toward me. What meaneth the vision? Is it that we must part?”

“O Saulus! Knowest thou not that it was but an idle dream?”

“But thou only canst interpret it. Behold, O little Cassia, thy image
abideth in my soul. I love thee! Wouldst thou be parted from me? Does
another possess thy heart? Heaven grant that my fears have been idle
concerning thee!”

Cassia, with her pale face full in the moonlight, and her large eyes
bedewed like morning flowers, listened as he poured out his heart. At
length her lips moved.

“O Saulus! I love no one else! Throughout all thy absence thou hast been
dear to me! Thy image hath been enshrined in my soul! My dear Saulus”—but
her emotion was too powerful for further words.

She bent her bright young face upon his shoulder, and the feeling that her
love was now free to show itself was like the breaking of a great barrier.
Her voice was choked, and her heart beat wildly.

Saulus put his arm gently around her light form, and looking up, said,—

“Heaven bless the day when first I saw thee!”

The orb of night hath looked down upon many such scenes among the children
of men.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

There was a few moments of silence, for the overcharged souls were too
full for utterance. Happiness, sweet and irresistible, unchangeable and
forever, was assured. The shining firmament above their heads was now
echoing a great benediction, and the dread vision of an hour before had
dissolved and was forgotten. Nothing henceforth could rend such a
cementing of affection. They were one in love, motive, and religion; and
there was but a single dream of the future. At length the agitation with
which their souls had been surcharged was calmed, and a mystical and
indescribable repose was borne in upon them. Not merely their own hearts,
but the silvery sheen of the moonlight upon them, the still night air
around them, yea, the whole universe, spoke of love; and there was no
other language.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Not until they were about to part did their thoughts descend to things
mundane, or even to the stirring religious events of the day, or those
which the morrow might bring forth.

“I had delight in thy valiant defence of our holy religion in the
synagogue,” said Cassia. “I watched thee through the lattice, and rejoiced
in every word thou didst utter. I am exalted to possess the love of one
who is so loyal to our people. Thou art strong to bring the false teachers
and all our enemies to naught.”

“I am doubly rewarded by thy favor in my chosen work.”

Changed was the world, religion, life, and the future to both at the close
of that evening upon the house‐top.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                              A ROMAN PARADE


            “Roomy Eternity
            Casts her schemes rarely,
            And an æon allows
            For each quality and part
            Of the multitudinous
            And many‐chambered heart.”


The spread of the New Faith, and the hold that it took upon increasing
numbers of the common people of the Holy City, furnishes a wonderful
illustration of the inner power of a simple, spiritual religion. Its
purity and depth were outwardly manifested by the general subordination
among its followers of the strongest of all human passions,—selfishness.
They were so filled with the spirit of brotherhood that they counted it a
privilege to put their possessions into the common stock, in order to give
to each one as he had need. There was no forced or legal communism, but a
voluntary local and temporary dominance of the great future human Ideal.
The law of the inherent blessedness of giving out—whether of spiritual or
material treasure—was practically realized, and the harmonizing and
uplifting power of a true reciprocity proven. The exercise of a helpful
ministry marked a real nobility and greatness, and its activities of
relief and healing make up a unique epoch in human history.

Wherever religion has dropped from simplicity and spirituality, and become
scholastic, dogmatic, ceremonial, or a matter of the State, it has lost
its power to mould life, and heal the weaknesses and disorders of mind and
body. With almost no organization, system, or theology, there was a
dynamic quality among the primitive believers, the phenomena of which are
worthy of the study of every one who would fathom the divine economy of
man. A gospel, or “Godspel,” was manifested. The joy and gladness which
came from a demonstration of the practical working of the divine spirit in
humanity was the natural fruit of a release from the shackles of a dead
ceremonialism. It was a spontaneous outburst of what before had been
within, but latent.

The divine, unchangeable Perfection had not changed or improved in the
“pouring out” of the Spirit, but human receptivity was newly and
voluntarily opened. Religion, as a spiritual life, introduces a practical
oneness with, and re‐enforcement of, divinity in man, which fruits in
“wonderful works” as a natural and orderly articulation. The bestowment of
spiritual favor on the Godward side can never be less than full and
perfect, else would there be variableness and uncertainty. Law, which is
divine method, is as reliable in the spiritual as the material realm; and
the same compliance with its orderly activity and employment will forever
bring like results. The “signs that follow them who believe” will never
fail, but belief in this sense signifies a spiritual understanding deeper
than mere intellectual assent. A renewal of the marvellous “works” of the
Primitive Church will come whenever a like spiritual dominance over
external conditions is gained. Chronology changes no law of Being. The
divine economy, being eternally perfect, is not subject to the wavering
moods of human vacillation. They must conform to it, and not it to them.
Then, as man comes into at‐one‐ment with divine laws and forces, he is
backed by their energy, and commands their accomplishments. The New
Dispensation was new only to the awareness of man. The variation of
personal standpoint makes a seeming movement of the whole divine Order.

Serenus had been long ripening for the conditions which came into outward
exercise so spontaneously among the primitive believers. In the earlier
part of his life, while among the Essenes and Therapeutæ, he had witnessed
much of the power which is linked to spiritual devotion, and participated
measurably in it. His transparent character and inner development, with
the active exercise of a healing ministry, had marked him as rare in
attainment while young in years. But during his connection with the school
of Gamaliel, these qualities were somewhat quiescent, while a more
distinctive intellectual development was taking place. But under the
influence of the new movement his spiritual forces came to the front in
full measure. He was everywhere active in healing the sick, strengthening
the weak, instructing the ignorant, and sowing the seed for a spiritual
harvest. His miracles of healing came from an intelligent wielding of the
divine potencies, which, unrecognized and latent, dwell in the inmost of
every human “image of God.”

In the early morning of the day after the meeting in the Cyrenian
synagogue, there was a street parade of Roman legionaries, as was usual at
short intervals, that the people of Jerusalem might have constantly before
their eyes the tokens of imperial dominion. The imposing military column
started from the Tower of Antonia, and after marching around a long
circuit, passed through the Square of the Sheepmarket on its return. Most
of the Jews, especially the better classes, resolutely kept out of sight,
with every portal and window closed, as the hated Romans passed by. But to
the rabble, music and pageantry were attractive. The blare of trumpets
signalled their approach. In advance was a vanguard of spearmen, with
gilded helmets, mailed breastplates, and shields upon the left arm,
marching with a rhythm so perfect that they seemed like a huge machine,
working with automatic regularity and perfection. The bronzed faces,
brown, muscular limbs, and mailed armor, with their exact mechanical
swing, made them seem more like men of iron than of flesh. Then came the
ensigns, with banners and pennants floating in air, and in their midst,
upon a tall rod, an emblematic gilded eagle with outstretched wings. Next
were bowmen and slingers in close column of ranks and files, stretching
out far in the distance. Then a group of mounted officers, commanders of
cohorts, and centurions with a guard, and long array of cavalry, all
speaking eloquently of the heavy mailed hand of Cæsar. The huzzas of the
soldiers were often answered by the hisses and sneers of the onlookers,
but outbreaks were not frequent. But as they passed the inn of the
Sheepmarket, Rabbi Abdiel looked down upon them from the roof, and with a
sudden impulse raised his arms toward heaven, and in a loud voice called
down upon the moving mass the curses of Jehovah. At first the soldiers
gave no attention to his maledictions except to send up a few jeers and
shouts of derision; but as he continued, a centurion below gave an order
to a rank of soldiers,—

“Enter and seize the Jewish dog! To the Tower with him!”

This was done, and the location of the offending inn noted. But there was
no halt of the long, glittering column, which continued its winding march
until it passed over the great drawbridge, and was lost to sight as it
entered the broad frowning portal of Antonia.

Upon his return, the Commandant of the Tower found a little deputation
awaiting him with a petition. They were members of the congregation of the
New Faith, who having heard that a tumult was probable at the Cyrenian
synagogue, and that the young deacon Stephanos was in danger, asked for
the protection of the Roman authorities. The request was heard, but
refused, and they were flippantly dismissed.

“By Bacchus!” said the Commandant. “We are not here to take account of all
your hair‐splitting religious quarrels and tumults. We understand them
not, and have no care for them so long as Cæsar’s prerogatives are
unquestioned. Fight out your own differences! Your petition doth not
concern us!”



At a later hour the meeting at the synagogue was to take place. Long
before the time, the room was crowded to the utmost, and a dense throng
gathered in the streets outside. There was an air of unwonted excitement
and expectation. Wild rumors had flown thick and fast, that Stephanos
would boldly attack the whole ceremonial system, and that there was a
strong faction organized for resistance. It was said that if he offended
they might forcibly bring him before the Sanhedrin, which would be in
special session.

The meeting opened. Stephanos arose calmly, and, after reading a few
passages from the prophets, began his address,—

“Brethren and friends! Again with joy I proclaim unto you the first fruits
of the New Dispensation of the Spirit of Truth. The Word of the Lord is
increased; and mighty works, signs, and ministries are being wrought in
our midst. From out of the dead works of your ordinances and traditions
there has sprung a New Faith, even that proclaimed by the Nazarene, who
rebuked your hypocrisy, and laid the foundation of an unseen and universal
spiritual kingdom. Lo! as he hath prophesied, the Spirit is ‘poured out,’
and many not of the Levitical order are inspired to teach and preach.”

As Stephanos continued, he waxed eloquent, and spake with great vigor. It
seemed not to be the young man himself who was speaking, but some mighty
power which was manifested through him. A Spirit was within which was so
intense that it shone through his face, and his words were so powerful
that his hearers were spellbound.

But the spell was broken by a signal which was at once followed by a
fierce rush upon the platform. The bustling form of Saulus, with fiery
face, flashing eyes, and clinched fists, was in the midst; and above the
noise of the uproar his loud voice echoed through the synagogue,—

“Seize the traitor! Down with the blasphemer! Drag him out! To the
Sanhedrin! To the Sanhedrin!”

The members of the Society of the _Urim_ were in the forefront; and
besides, there had gathered a rabble from the streets who were eager to
join the mob. A little band of the disciples of the New Faith clustered
about Stephanos with devoted and loving faithfulness, but acted only as a
defensive shield, and were soon borne down by the force and ferocity of
greatly superior numbers. Amid wild shouts and confusion the little band
was scattered, and Stephanos seized and taken out of the synagogue.

“Ha! Where is the great kingdom? Hath it been set up? Where is its
throne?” said Saulus. “We shall make short work of thee and all thy kind!
Come on, witnesses! To the Sanhedrin! To the Sanhedrin!”

Stephanos was dragged up the steep road to the “Hall of Squares,” where
the august court was in session. On the way he made no resistance, and
amid jeers, savage yells, and curses, was led along. With loud commands,
Saulus headed the throng.

The seventy‐one members of the Sanhedrin were seated at the farther end of
the spacious hall, in tiers of seats rising from the centre, and sweeping
around in an imposing semicircle. Annas was High Priest and presiding
officer on this occasion. They had been apprised of the fact that
Stephanos would be brought before them, and were ready to receive him. He
was led in by Saulus and the witnesses; as many of the throng following as
could find room in the public part of the hall. Everything was ready, and
pointed to a foregone conclusion. The charges were made; and the witnesses
stood up, one by one, to confront and make testimony against their victim.

“I heard him speak against the Holy Place, and blaspheme the Law.”

“I heard him declare that the doctrine of the Nazarene would destroy the
Temple service, and do away with the Law of Moses.”

“I heard him say that he despised our sacred traditions and ordinances.”

“I heard him call our chief priests and Rabbis hypocrites, and speak of a
new kingdom not of the Chosen People.”

“I heard him proclaim the Messiahship of the Galilean pretender, and
blaspheme Jehovah.”

“I heard him speak against the Circumcision, and call the Nazarene the Son
of God.”

Then the High Priest, clothed in the imposing robes of his office, arose,
and waving his hand, asked Stephanos to plead by answering the formal and
customary question, “Are these things so?”

Stephanos arose to make answer. Young, handsome, and tall, with dignified
manner, he wore an unwonted grandeur in looks, words, and action. He began
an eloquent oration. As he proceeded, he seemed transfigured by an inner
consciousness which fairly illumined his countenance. He looked his
accusers in the face, and they quailed before him. Even the fevered and
fierce glance of Saulus was cast down when the penetrating look of the
saint was turned upon him. A marvellous inner light shone out through his
face, which entirely transformed its expression. It was heavenly, rather
than defiant, but to the onlookers it was awful. While it radiated love
and spiritual exaltation, to them it was threatening and terrible.
Overshadowed by the Shekinah, there was an intangible halo about him, in
which they saw mirrored their own guilt and condemnation. As he continued,
a raging passion boiled in their hearts, even though for a time they were
spellbound. His amazing courage and stinging truthfulness were paralyzing,
and they could no longer look upon that terrible face.

At length Stephanos stopped short in his unanswerable argument, and there
was a moment of silence. Then he gathered up the full measure of his
righteous wrath, and hurled it in their indignant but shrinking faces. He
denounced them as betrayers and murderers, and lashed them with invective,
terrible but true. Then the awful spell was broken, and their pent‐up
hatred burst all bonds. The wonted sedate and dignified Sanhedrin exploded
with anger. Unable longer to maintain any semblance of judicial procedure,
they waxed hot, gnashed their teeth, clinched their fists, and hissed and
howled like wild beasts.

Traitor! Blasphemer! Slanderer! Reprobate! Heretic! were some of the names
that were hurled at Stephanos from all directions. He was not abashed, but
the burst of holy indignation which had gone forth from him was ended. It
was aimed at their actions and customs rather than themselves. Though
severe, it was not vindictive or intended for insult, but awakening. But
reason was unavailing. Righteousness is a standing menace and rebuke to
guilt. Nothing can be more hateful.

Stephanos lifted his eyes from the malignant faces, rendered demoniacal by
surging passion, and looked up as if in a trance. The Sanhedrin, with all
its bitterness, faded from his sight, and became to him as though it were
not. An ecstasy was upon him, and he saw a beatific vision. While the
human wild beasts around him growled and thirsted for his blood, his eyes
were fastened upon a realm of eternal peace, harmony, and glory. His
sublime and all‐powerful faith ushered him into the kingdom of the Real,
while the temporary and incidental shrank to their relative nothingness.

The Sanhedrin regarded itself as eminent, respectable, and humane, but its
members were utterly unable to cognize the truth that was clear and open
to Stephanos. To them their anger was a righteous anger, which exercised
itself in the service of Jehovah. The psychological wave of rage swept
every member of the Jewish High Court off his feet, and bore him on. But
were they sinners above other men? History before and since teems with
like transactions, among all nations, and in the name of all religions.

Stephanos had spoken against things which were sacred and infallible. It
was not alone his burning eloquence, but its terrible truth, that cut them
to the heart and made their blood boil. But now his animate body was yet
in their midst, but _he_ was no longer there. He was listening to a
heavenly harmony, and not to a deafening clamor. Expecting him to
continue, they had stopped their ears to shut out his polluting blasphemy.
Then, with one impulse, they arose in a mass, and rushed upon him. Their
decision was spontaneous, and without any legal formality or deliberation.
They dragged him away to be stoned outside the city gate. The spirit of
persecution transformed the dignified Sanhedrin into a revengeful mob.

Saulus prompted the witnesses when they gave testimony, and when the
explosion occurred was among the foremost. In the rush that was made from
the hall to the street his diminutive form was at the front, and with
glowing face and violent gestures he urged on their impetuous movement. As
they passed along the streets toward the Damascus Gate, they were joined
by great masses of excited men, women, and children. Stephanos made no
resistance. Shouts and imprecations filled the air. The members of the New
Faith, being few in number and non‐resistant in their philosophy of
living, made no opposition. No herald preceded him to proclaim his name
and crime as was usual in regular cases of legal condemnation. No bitter
draft containing frankincense to stupefy the senses, and take away the
edge of pain and terror, was administered, and none was needed. Stephanos
could not suffer; for he was already in the midst of spiritual liberty,
joy, and peace. The seething mob hurried his animate form along, and
passed out to the north of the city to a piece of open ground on the
border of the valley of Jehoshaphat.

Stephanos calmly kneeled down without being bound or fastened, still
looking up and beholding a vision of glory. His upper garments were
stripped off; and then, for the first time, a regular proceeding was
observed, in that the witnesses were to cast the first stones. At length
all was ready, and for a moment there was a silence which was oppressive.
Stretching out his hands toward his murderers, he besought from above
their forgiveness, and gave them his benediction. The stillness continued,
the witnesses were spellbound, and the throng awed and immovable. The
supreme grandeur and spiritual beauty that shone through his face dazzled
and benumbed them, and almost deterred them from their purpose. There was
a visible shrinking, and each waited for the other to make the first move.
But Saulus sprang forth and broke the spell. With frantic manner and loud
voice, he cried,—

“To your work, O witnesses! Finish the Blasphemer! Heresy must be crushed!
Hand me your garments that nothing may encumber, and cursed be he who
holds back.”

The tragedy was soon ended.

  The body sank to earth, its resting‐place;
  Not so the man. He lives to truth and right.
  He flung behind all strife, and in the race
  Mounts on and up, though lost to mortal sight.

The crowd soon melted away; and many seemed fearful, oppressed, and
ashamed of their part in the transaction. Even those members of the
Sanhedrin who had accompanied the throng were troubled in spirit, and made
haste to get away. But Saulus was undaunted, and returned exultant and
proud. He made his way back to the Sheepmarket; but the news had preceded
him, and as he entered the inn he received the congratulations of all
except Rebecca.

In the evening of the same day the little group met in the court as was
wont. Rabbi Abdiel was of the number, having been released from the Tower.

“Thy day’s work hath been well done,” said the venerable Jew. “We would
that such things need not be, but heresy must be destroyed. Mercy to our
people and their precious traditions demands that false doctrine be
uprooted, and that without remedy. Such is the will of the Lord.”

“I am persuaded that this pestilent delusion must be put down at once,”
replied Saulus, “or peradventure it will spread beyond all bounds. I shall
take up the work with power, and the High Priest and the whole Sanhedrin
will give me all authority. I glory in the effectual door that is open
unto me whereby I may do such service.”

“These are tumultuous days,” said Benoni. “I had not believed that my eyes
would behold such things in the Holy City, but anon they wax worse and
worse. But it is expedient that thou continue as thou hast begun.”

“Behold, O son of Benoni! thou art chosen from among our people to lead in
this great service,” said Almon.

“It behooveth me to bring this conspiracy to naught, and I shall lose no
time in its discomfiture.”

Rebecca drew her brother aside, and putting her arm about him, softly
said,—

“O my Saulus! I am persuaded that the young son of Israel who saved me
from the throng on the day of Pentecost would condemn this day’s
proceeding! Remember he called himself ‘the friend of Saulus.’”

“Did he belong to the sect of the Nazarene, or speak well of it?”

“Behold I wot not how that may be, but he was so kind and noble that I
feel he would have none of persecution! O Saulus! must you continue this
business?”

“Thou deceivest thyself,” said Saulus, with an impatient gesture. “The man
is no friend of mine, and if he be a follower of the Nazarene he will
suffer with the rest.”

“O Saulus! I pray that he may be spared. Behold the favor which he showed
me!”

“I say unto thee I know him not; and if he be a heretic, woe be to him!”

“I shall try to find him out and warn him!”

“It would be well for thee, Rebecca, to leave the Holy City, and seek thy
home in Tarsus!”

Saulus petulantly turned away, and passed out of the court‐yard.

Cassia was waiting in the passage, and sped to give him congratulation.

“O Saulus! thou art noble and brave!” she exclaimed, embracing him. “I
glory in thy courage and service. Behold I love thee even more than I was
wont!”

Saulus returned the warm greeting.

“Cassia, love, I have great joy in thy favor. I live for thee!” Then
grasping her small hand he gave it a warm kiss, and hastened to his
chamber.

In the solitude of his room and stillness of the night, he sat down to
review the events of the day. His exhilaration, and even the indorsement
and congratulation of his friends, gradually seemed to vanish, and he was
almost forced to look within and become more familiar with himself. He was
surprised at the clearness and depth of the picture of the scene of the
day which seemed to be burnt into his very soul. The tragedy beyond the
city wall stood out before him in every detail. The throng, the shouts,
his own share, the murderous act of the witnesses, the kneeling victim,
his entreaty of pardon for his slayers, all riveted his attention as
keenly as when they were taking place. It was as though his mind had been
a tablet of stone, with the whole scene deeply chiselled in characters
which could never be erased or hidden.

“The duty of the day is done, and well done,” he said to himself; “and now
I will have rest. I bid farewell to this event, that I may be well
prepared to continue the warfare to‐morrow.”

But it would not depart.

“Nay, begone! I would not live it over more to‐night.”

But it became more obtrusive than ever.

Thinking to divert his mind, he took a roll containing a copy of the
“Mishna,” with its six hundred and thirteen precepts, and began to read
them slowly in order. But even upon the roll, in the midst of the clearly
inscribed lines which recited the Jewish code, there was the scene, the
tragedy! He impatiently threw down the roll, and in the stillness seemed
to hear a voice within.

“Thou art guilty! Thy peace hath forsaken thee! Thou art condemned!
condemned! condemned!”

He was startled, for the voice was so distinct that it seemed to come to
the outer hearing. He stopped his ears to find if it were still audible.

“_Condemned! condemned! condemned!_” still echoed as before.

He arose and walked to and fro, and made audible answer.

“Cease thy railing! I am the defender of my people! I will fight blasphemy
and heresy, and nothing shall hinder! The Chosen People will honor me!
Away, and be thou choked, thou false and lying spirit! I crush thee, and
will increase my deeds manifold!”

He then extinguished his lamp, and retired to his couch for the night. But
his sleep was broken, and he could not rest. He heard angry voices,
groans, and noises, and saw horrible shapes. But at length, in the midst
of a troubled sleep, he was suddenly awakened. Something seemed to have
shaken him. With a shiver through every nerve, he sat upright, and saw a
bright object in the blackness before him. His gaze was fastened, and he
could not turn it aside.

“Away! Away! Trouble me not!”

But the brightness remained, and soon began to transform itself. Feature
after feature came into distinct outline. It was a shining face. Calm,
luminous, and grand, it gazed steadily upon him. His blood froze in his
veins as he recognized the _glorified face_ of STEPHANOS.



                              CHAPTER XVIII
                      AMABEL’S REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE


Amabel returned to her father’s palace in a state of great disquietude.
The unexpected meeting with Serenus, but vastly more its unwonted
circumstances, gave her a great shock. What could it mean? Serenus walking
the streets of the Holy City in the company of a young woman, a stranger,
in a manner which betokened great familiarity! Such an event, witnessed by
her own eyes, shook and threatened to disenthrone her Ideal, and to
dissolve everything which she had counted solid and sacred.

Since Amabel’s last interview with Serenus, she had striven loyally to
banish his image from her mind, but with variable success. At times she
almost seemed to feel his presence, and in other moods persuaded herself
that she was quite resigned to the inevitable and final separation which
had been wisely accepted by both.

Amabel was an idolized favorite in the Holy City. Her grace and beauty,
with the eminent position of the Rabban, gave her the highest social
distinction. Who so happy as Amabel? The centre of an admiring circle, the
petted daughter of tender parents, surrounded by luxury, active in kindly
deeds, and loyal to her religion, what more could be desired? But a
heaviness was in her heart, and the world about her was prosaic and
mechanical. Her social and religious duties were faithfully performed, and
she enjoyed the favor and love of all; but, alas, a worm was gnawing at
the root of a comely flower. There was a subtle unrest and secret blight
that made life barren and joyless. She became introspective, and often
tried to weigh her motives, obstacles, and aspirations, as in a pair of
balances.

The Is and the Might Be are always coming up for comparison and contrast
in the human foreground. On one side, Amabel had home, friends, social
position, and the accepted religion of her own people, and on the other,
Serenus, his love, and a New Faith which seemed strange to her. Although
Serenus had assured her of his devoted and undying affection, he had not
asked or expected that she would renounce all for him. He had taken it for
granted that she would not and could not. He had gracefully accepted the
stern logic of the situation, and cheerfully made the great sacrifice. On
her part, she had even withheld the confession of her own love, for the
sole purpose of making his burden lighter, and his renunciation possible.
As they _must_ separate, it would be easier so.

Since the evening of the earnest avowal of love by Serenus, and the mutual
acquiescence in the imperative separation, life had drifted along; but the
whole world was changed. Her cheeks had lost their color, and there were
many evidences of wearing preoccupation. But she made a heroic effort to
fall into the current of what was expected of her, and firmly resolved to
cease all iridescent dreaming, and be resigned.

After the chance meeting, Amabel arrived at home almost breathless, and
avoiding the family, hastened to her favorite nook upon the house‐top. Her
heart was fluttering, her senses swimming, and she must have a little
time. It was all important that she rally her forces, and lift herself
above the sudden rush of waves which threatened to ingulf her. She began
to reason with herself, and to cast about for some solid ground upon which
she might stand. She could not interpret her own soul. There were two
voices within, and each claimed her. Admitting her love for Serenus, had
not all forever been settled between them?

But was there _another_?

“What have _I_ to do with another? Have we not parted forever! Ought not I
to rejoice even in his happiness with _another_? Oh, my heart! I cannot
understand thee! Thou seemest not to reason, but to feel!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

“I could bear parting, did I but know that I was thy sole possession! Nay,
were I never more to behold thy face, I could rest content as _thine_!
thine in the unseen! thine forever! But _another_! Be still, heart! I will
not doubt him! I am divided in myself! I doubt him, and cannot doubt him!
Now, I am decided! I thrust out that image of another! I see only thee!
Often when all was still, I have heard the tones of thy sweet voice! The
sunrise and the sunset have been laden with the brightness of thy lofty
soul! In my dreams I wander with thee, not upon the hard and dusty paths
of earth, but in the ambient air, and beyond the clouds! I need not see
thee with mortal eyes in order to mount by thy side, and command the range
of created things!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

“Away! That cruel vision again forces itself upon me! Not that I wish her
ill! But there can be but _one_! Down, hateful thoughts! I will not doubt
him! But is it anything, now that we are separated? Everything! We are
together, though apart! Even beyond the grave will we commune with each
other! Ah! then it were sweet, even to die!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

“The ebb and flow of my heart is unto thee! Crowds that flatter and would
serve me pass by, but only thou art near me! O Future! art thou ours
together? Back! that dark vision haunts me again! I would not, I will not
behold it!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The thick curtains of night had been drawn, and Amabel was missing. The
household of Gamaliel began to be apprehensive; but bethinking themselves
of her favorite resort, ascended to look for her, believing she might have
fallen asleep. Her prostrate form was found in a state of feverish
unconsciousness. Kind hands bore her tenderly below, and loving hearts
exercised themselves in every form of devoted ministration. Her body was
motionless, except that her lips were moved in an incoherent muttering.
The skill of the physicians was exerted to the utmost to arouse her, but
hour after hour passed without any visible change. Her illness was found
to be a violent fever in the head, and it was whispered that peradventure
it was beyond the reach of the healing art. But however it might end, it
would be long and desperate.

By the next morning Amabel’s condition was somewhat changed. She moved
restlessly upon her couch, and had recurring intervals of consciousness,
but the burning fever was continuous. She begged for water and fresh air,
both of which were denied her except in very sparing quantities, for fear
of harm. Strong medicaments, of a quality which produced disgust and
loathing, were faithfully administered, but no healing effect was
manifest.

How futile and superficial the devices of the healing art, in any and all
ages, in its attempts to deal with maladies of the soul! And who will
declare that the deep and obscure fountain of all ailments is not located
in the unseen and immaterial part! Verily the springs of man’s nature are
hidden, while seen and secondary manifestation is upon the surface, being
resultant.

Weary days and nights dragged their slow course along. At length the
violence of the fever abated, but the pale face and wasted form spoke
eloquently of the vanity of human effort in her behalf. Her glassy eyes
and sunken cheeks proclaimed an impending collapse of the mortal tenement.
The pure white soul was nearing the portal of the earthly tabernacle,
apparently soon to step out.

The physicians solemnly announced that the end was not far away, and that
it could not be averted. As a weary toiler at the close of day lays down
the instrument he has wielded, so the daughter of the Rabban must put
aside that seen counterpart which no longer could serve her.

Gamaliel was bowed with grief. When not at the bedside of his daughter, he
seemed dazed, and was barely able to bear the mechanical round of his
daily duties. Was the sweet flower of his family to be uprooted? the light
of his household to go out?

  Embowered awhile so tenderly in hearts of love,
    Like some pure gem, enclosed so safe in setting rare,
  The tenement outgrown, and now the soul would move,
    And mount to larger life within a realm more fair.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

These were days of sombre stillness in the palace of Gamaliel. The birth‐
pains of a soul, as it passes into the higher life, are more outside than
within. Everything around is smitten and takes up a plaint, even when the
soul that goes is quickened, and its own path smoothed and lighted.

Intervals of calmness and delirium alternated in their possession of
Amabel. Her frame became so thin and transparent that the flashes of the
pulsating self seemed to shine through, and reveal its vital dominance.
But her incoherent utterances during periods of aberration, though very
weak, gradually became more distinct.

“Serenus! Serenus!” was plainly upon her lips. It was repeated again and
again. This was made known to Gamaliel. He was a wise father and a prudent
interpreter. He thought deeply upon the matter; and after a brief but
sharp conflict in his own mind between parental love and official dignity,
the former prevailed, and he sat down and wrote a hasty letter.



                   [RABBAN GAMALIEL TO VICTOR SERENUS.]
                                        “PALACE OF GAMALIEL, _Tammuz XXV_.

“O Serenus! my friend and former helper! Peace be unto thee! Knowing well
thy noble spirit and wise prudence, I pray for thy kind favor in my
affliction. Touching a request that I make unto thee, my heart is rent
with sorrow, in that my dear Amabel is soon to depart from our midst. She
hath a deadly disorder, so that her days with us are nearly ended. And now
I have to inform thee that, in her moments of sleep or wandering, she
speaketh of thee and calleth thy name. Peradventure thy presence might
soothe her, and bring peace to her troubled soul. While we mourn her as
already dead, we pray that her closing hours may be serene. I am persuaded
that past events have not clouded thy friendly spirit, and therefore
beseech thy presence with us. The God of Israel bless thee! In sore
affliction,

                                                                GAMALIEL.”



The breast of Serenus was rent with conflicting emotions as he laid down
the letter. Mingled with his sorrow at the sad tidings about Amabel, there
was even a note of gladness. “She loves me!” was the thought that echoed
and re‐echoed through his heart. “If her seen form is to vanish, _she_ is
not the visible, but the invisible, and love is eternal. The grave can
rear no wall nor make no gulf between us. Behold we dwell here for a
season in tents, and then quietly fold them and move forward. Poor Amabel!
She loveth me, but hid her love that she might not increase my burden.”

“But the sad tidings of the letter hath made me unmindful of my faith! Why
should _I_ consent to the declaration that Amabel must pass from sight?
What have _I_ to do with the faithlessness of the world? nay, even of the
ceremonial religionist? What do the physicians, who are persuaded that her
life must go out, understand of the vital powers of the spirit? Their
nauseous medicaments touch but the utmost surface of life’s visible
expression. They wot not of its hidden springs, and how to take hold upon
them! Even the eyes of Gamaliel, master in Israel though he be, are not
opened to the Father’s helpfulness! Did not the prophet of Nazareth
declare, ‘These signs shall follow them that believe’? Behold neither the
world nor the church doth believe! Have I not witnessed wonderful works
among the Essenes and Therapeutæ? nay, are they not now common in the
household of the New Faith? Is not the life of God in all things? and hath
not every one that measure of it which he will open his soul to receive?
Behold the Father withholdeth not, for all things are freely given to his
children. His abounding spirit of wholeness is waiting to fill every place
which is made meet!”

Such were some of the thoughts that flashed through the mind of Serenus.
While at first taken unawares, and cast down by the tidings of Amabel’s
condition, he soon felt a mighty influx of faith and strength that filled
him with spiritual energy. Nothing was impossible!

“Can Amabel be inspired with such a faith? And behold her friends live not
in the spirit, but in doctrines and traditions! The eyes of them of the
outer kingdom are holden! Who can persuade them to come to themselves?”

“O Amabel! innocent but weak! untaught, and a stranger to truth! is there
time to bring inspiration into thy life so that thy belief of a speedy
departure may be uprooted? As thou thinkest, so will it come to pass.”

Serenus lost no time in making his way to the palace, and was softly
ushered into Amabel’s presence. His face betokened peace, yea, even
commanding power. Knew he not that infinite forces were back of him? Yea,
they were familiar, and by orderly method he would wield them!

Undaunted by the paleness and wasted proportions of the fair form, so
changed since he last beheld it, his face almost shone at the thought of
the privilege of spiritual ministration. Shrunken, weak, and motionless,
to the outer eyes the life of Amabel, like a fitful flame, was just ready
to expire. Serenus seated himself near by. Perchance she was dreaming, for
soon there was a movement of the lips.

“Serenus! Serenus!” was uttered in a distinct whisper, but she had not yet
opened her eyes. He heeded not the sound of his name, but sat with bowed
head in perfect silence.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

A full half‐hour passed, during which not a word was spoken. The place
seemed hallowed with an invisible Presence. The gloom fled away before a
brightness which might almost be felt. The life of Amabel is a part of the
One Life, and knoweth neither limitation nor death! Depart thou belief of
mortality! Child of God! thou art unseen spirit! It is thine to _rule_ the
outer form, therefore, assert thy right, and it shall be subject to thy
behest! Thou art divine in thy being, and all good is thy free heritage.

Silence still prevailed.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

At length Amabel opened her eyes, and beheld the face of Serenus.

“O Serenus! art thou here? I was dreaming of thy presence. I have prayed
to see thee once more before my departure.”

These words were spoken in a low, sweet voice; the first above a whisper
for three days. She continued,—

“My hours are numbered! I now can tell thee of my love. While I had life
before me it was expedient that I should refrain. Blessed be these eyes
which once more behold thee! Abiding peace be thine!”

Serenus lightly took her thin and almost transparent hand, and bending his
head, touched it softly to his lips.

“Amabel! there is an abundance of life, and to spare. Behold the very
breath of God is within you! His strength is freely and lovingly thine
own.”

“How sayest thou so, Serenus? Behold it hath been told me that I must die.
The physicians have so declared, and my parents mourn me as though already
departed. Thinkest thou that there is life beyond the grave, and is it
that of which thou speakest? And does love continue there?”

“O Amabel! there is no grave, save for worn‐out dust. Thy fair form is yet
youthful, and thou mayst command it as thou wilt, and enjoy its sweet
ministry.”

“What is that thou sayest? Behold many of fewer years than mine are
gathered unto their fathers!”

“Yea, the _belief_ in the power of the grave hath passed upon the children
of men. But they know not the power of God, and how it is given to his
children to wield it if they will. As we open our souls, and confidently
take hold of the Present Help, strength is ours. Be filled with the spirit
of the Father, for he is thy dwelling‐place.”

“O glorious tidings! I feel thrilled in soul and body!”

“Thou hast new life already! Hail with joy the Universal Good, and feel
and affirm its presence _now_!”

A tiny flame had been lighted in the darkness which surrounds the tomb.
May it increase! As Serenus took his leave, Amabel showed unwonted
calmness and brightness.

The day following witnessed a marvellous gain. The change was so great as
to cause rejoicing and wonder in the palace. Amabel had remained free from
unconscious intervals, and though yet weak, was calm and cheerful. Serenus
came, and was warmly greeted.

“O Serenus! I am filled with new hope and joy that I cannot understand. A
voice within me seems to speak words of life and strength. I have unwonted
peace, yea, even joy! Whence cometh it?”

“Dear Amabel! the belief in the power of death hath been vanquished. Life
is thine, and an overcoming faith hath quickened and filled thee.”

“Cometh it from the God of Israel, Serenus? Behold, I saw thee bowed in
silence yesterday, though I heard no words. Didst thou call upon him, and
he send down an answer?”

“Thou speakest of the God of Israel; but behold God is the God of all
peoples, and the whole earth. I made no request that _he_ should become
more willing, for nothing is lacking on his part. But I realized for thee,
that he, being perfect Goodness, hath already answered every desire for
help. All change and conformity must be within ourselves. They who are
unbelieving, ignorantly pray for that which is around them as free as the
air of heaven. The Father’s table is loaded for his children, while they
turn their backs upon it, and beseech him for bread.”

“But, O Serenus! while I feel new life, I cannot understand how it can
come unless it be sent.”

“God is Spirit, and his tabernacle is not far away, but _within_ his
children. He is their Life, Love, and Strength, and is in them, and they
in him. When thou dost understand the laws of thy being, behold these
things are multiplied, and thy soul and body have nourishment.”

“What a mystery that I had new strength yesterday, before thou mad’st
known these things to me!”

“Behold the truth and faith which inspire may be received by silent
ministry from another. The Spirit speaketh through one to another without
words.”

“I marvel at what thou sayest!”

“When one feeleth the image of God within him, its still small voice of
love and at‐one‐ment may go out to his brother, and be heard by the inner
ear, and anon its fruits appear outwardly.”

“I would know this mighty truth more perfectly!”

“Thou hast always been Godlike in thine inner being, but hast not known
thy true self. Thine eyes have been turned toward outward things, while
the fountain of life is within. All power is given unto thee in the
measure that thou dost claim and use it.”

“Behold thou sayest that it is not I, but something else that is within?”

“Thy question indeed toucheth a great mystery. Verily I interpret to thee,
that the inner voice, Son or Spirit, it is thy true self, while it is
thine outer thoughts which seemeth to be, and claimeth thee.”

“A mystery indeed! behold, how can I understand it?”

“As we seek the truth and strive to feel it, it unveileth itself. Man
judgeth by appearances. Counting things that are seen as the Real, we
thereby deceive ourselves, and our thoughts lead us astray. Behold our
weaknesses and sicknesses are the outworkings of our darkened and troubled
minds. If we dwell in the restless billows of the outer and deceitful
self, they submerge us. Righteousness is right thinking, of which outward
wholeness, as well as good works, is the natural harvest.”

Light shone in upon the soul of Amabel.

Before Serenus departed, there was a long interval of silent communion
with the Universal Spirit. The two pure souls unbarred the portals of
their higher natures, and the divine sunshine illumined every apartment.
Each was consciously enfolded by the Presence. There was no trance or
other unwonted manifestation, but simple _realization_ of what _is_. The
children of men felt the loving embrace of God.

Serenus continued his daily visits.

A week passed, and there was great joy in the household over Amabel’s
recovery. Her strength rapidly returned, and all feebleness disappeared.
Her cheeks regained their wonted freshness; and the outshining of her
soul, through the large, speaking eyes, told of inner peace and exuberant
life. Her recovery astounded the physicians, and her father was both
puzzled and delighted. He was persuaded that his own prayers to Jehovah
must have had efficacy, but his faith in the physicians as divinely
appointed means was sorely shaken. But he was wise enough to perceive that
his daughter loved Serenus, and that peradventure his presence was so
pleasing to her that it had been helpful, but beyond that he saw nothing.
It was impossible for him to think other than highly of the character of
Serenus; but now, beholding the devoted affection of Amabel, he bewailed
his heresy sorely. How could _he_, the eminent Rabban, with the eyes of
all Judea upon him, ever sanction his deposed assistant? and as for making
him his son, his soul was distressed at the thought. If Serenus was dear
to him in person, his doctrines and associates were most hateful. He
groaned in spirit, for Amabel was the idol of his heart.

On the tenth day after his first visit, Serenus found Amabel in her
favorite nook upon the roof. It was a balmy afternoon. The delicious
atmosphere, not too warm, was barely stirred by a gentle breeze, and the
Holy City never was more glorious and serene. The great Temple seemed
almost transparent in its dazzling whiteness, and the clear air gave an
unwonted nearness to the more distant mountains. Amabel was the ideal of
health, and there was an exquisite grace and purity in her looks not
equalled before her illness. Could those rosy cheeks be the same that were
so deathly pale and sunken a few short days ago? Verily a new spirit
maketh all things new!(6)

Amabel had been a willing learner, and her progress was rapid. The
inspiration of the higher life and the New Faith fully possessed her. The
world was a different world. Hand in hand with Serenus she had ascended
the Mount of Transfiguration and gained a true perspective. Things that
before were solid and real had become transparent, so that she could look
through them, and behold the spiritual verities of which they were the
cruder shadows. Her experience was not strange or abnormal, but she felt
the natural unfoldment of an additional sense. It was orderly inner
illumination. God in _present_ manifestation was _everywhere_, in terms of
love, purity, beauty, and goodness. Former discordant thoughts had fled
away, and the development of her own powers amazed her.

Up to this time no word since her improvement had passed between Serenus
and herself touching their personal affection. But she found all anxiety,
the very intensity of which had caused her illness, entirely gone. Thrice
happy Amabel! Her love had not lessened, but it was now refined and
spiritualized. She had not become peculiar or preoccupied, for there was
nothing sombre in the New Faith. Her light‐hearted joyousness produced a
bright ripple upon the whole surface of the life of the palace.

The afternoon was wearing away, and Serenus must soon take his leave. It
was all too short for the lovers.

“O Amabel! I rejoice with thee in thy freedom and happiness. Behold thou
art like a bird released from a cage. All things smile upon thee, and the
very air whispers its benediction.”

“It is thou who hast guided my feet in the delightful path that I knew not
of! Oh, the joyousness of living!”

“I have but showed thee the way to find thyself. To interpret our own
divinity is to discover our real birth‐right.”

“Blessed be the day which opened to me the spirit of the New Faith. Behold
the religion of the Temple, with its smoking sacrifices and priestly
ordinances, now seemeth like a hollow form. Its life is withered. I pray
thee, why were the ceremonial observances handed down to us?”

“In the days of the ignorance and childhood of the Chosen People, they
could not interpret the mind of Jehovah save through signs and symbols.
Their understanding was not open to the life of the Spirit, so they must
needs receive it veiled and softened by types. With a childlike trust they
could get glimpses of God and his teaching through the ordained forms. The
full light of Truth would have blinded their eyes, and been counted as
foolishness. But now, learning of the head and a puffed‐up knowledge hath
hidden the simple faith of the patriarchs and prophets, and the symbols
have become all in all, and therefore are vain and empty. A proud
scholastic philosophy hath made the hearts of the people cold and barren.”

“I live now and henceforth in the New Faith,” said Amabel earnestly.
“Pray, is the Nazarene of whom thou hast spoken its founder?”

“Nay, all truth is eternal! He was not its founder, but its expresser and
embodiment. Only as the spirit is manifested _through the flesh_ doth it
come to the understanding of those whose concern is only with things that
are seen. The Son, or likeness of God, dwelleth in all men, but he is
almost unknown and unmanifest. Jesus, knowing his internal oneness with
the Father, embodied the Christ‐mind or life in its fulness, and performed
the outward works after its kind. But, O Amabel! hast thou well considered
that thou dost separate thyself from the faith of thy father and all thy
house?”

“Yea, I am fully persuaded concerning the same. I will sacrifice all
things that may hinder my devotion to the New Faith, and my efforts for
its spread. I will be a witness for its truth, and will show forth its
power.”

Serenus drew nearer, and taking her hand in his, gave a gentle glance into
the fair face at his side.

“O Amabel! Behold the wall which separated us hath crumbled. We knew not
how it were possible, but it hath come to pass. Once more I tell thee that
thou art dearer to me than my life. Dost thy heart respond? and wilt thou
be mine?”

“O Serenus! I am persuaded of thy pure love, and am thine own. Life with
thee will be an abounding spring of gladness. I will share thy lot, even
though persecution surround me. Behold my spirit knoweth no more a
shadow.”

“The ever‐abiding Father’s love encloseth and sanctifieth the human
affection of our hearts. Amabel! I will be faithful to thee even unto
death!”

“And I to thee! In the love of God and thy love I forsake all else!”

  Two hearts, when truly one, no power can sever!
  Pure souls in deep affection dwell forever:
  The flame of love, e’en evermore will brighten,
  And every sacrificial burden lighten!



                               CHAPTER XIX
                        SURROUNDED BY PRISON WALLS


            “Truth crushed to earth shall rise again,—
              The eternal years of God are hers;
            But Error, wounded, writhes with pain,
              And dies among his worshippers.”


On the second evening after the stoning of Stephanos, the members of the
Inner Circle of the _Urim_ gathered in their room near the inn of the
Sheepmarket. As they passed one by one through the long passage into the
anteroom, and thence, as approved by the doorkeeper, through the narrow
portal into their secret rendezvous, an unwonted interest was manifest in
every face and feature. It was known that Saulus had been in consultation
with Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, his
kindred, and that plans for stirring events had been made, the particulars
of which were to be made known to them. The venerable Rabbi Abdiel was
present, as the special and honored guest of Saulus. It was an unwonted
occasion when any from without were admitted to a gathering of the Inner
Circle; but the desire of Saulus was sufficient, and besides, the Rabbi
was already known to many, not only as faithful, but as intensely zealous
for their contention.

When all were gathered, and the preliminary ritual had been performed, two
members escorted Saulus to the seat of the grand Dictator, and the Rabbi,
as his guest of honor, was seated upon his right. At a given signal all
arose, and with their peculiar mystic symbolism took anew the oath of
secrecy, in which the Rabbi joined. All then were seated, and Saulus arose
to give his report.

“Comrades of the Inner Circle! Warders of the mysteries of Israel! Chosen
of the Chosen People! A serpent hath crawled into our midst, and made his
nest in the Holy City. We are to crush his head. Behold this day I have
counselled with the chief priests and elders, and have received authority
to bind all blasphemers, put them in prison, and scourge or stone them, as
seemeth expedient unto me. The Roman Procurator hath given the Sanhedrin
full power to deal with all matters pertaining to our religion, and will
in no wise hinder the punishment that may be meted out to the followers of
the Nazarene. We therefore bind ourselves to make havoc of all who are of
the Way, and to uproot this vile heresy, and the blasphemy of the Temple
and the Circumcision. Rise, comrades! defenders of our holy ordinances!
and swear by the sword of the Lord and of Gideon that we will scatter our
enemies and destroy them.”

All arose, and forming in line, marched slowly around the large circle,
each carrying a flagon containing a remnant of wine, the larger part
having before been drank at a given signal. Holding it aloft with the
right hand, and moving with a slow rhythm, they all joined in a weird
chant.

  “The _Urim_ will conquer!
  With valor well known,
  The apostate will punish
  With scourge, and by stone.

  Saulus our captain
  Shall lead in the fray,
  We’ll follow his standard
  By night and by day!

  Ho! comrades, we swear
  To crush every foe,
  Not one will we spare,
  To Gehenna they’ll go!”

Finally coming to a halt, and swinging their arms above their heads, they
repeated their oath with a shout, and again took their seats.

Saulus arose to speak further; but as he was about to open his lips, he
stared into vacancy above and before him, and was speechless. His gaze was
transfixed, his jaws parted, his cheeks blanched, and he forgot his
surroundings.

“Away! There—it—is—again!” ...

Gasping for breath, he sank into his seat, overcome by a spasm of fear. A
cold perspiration covered him, and he trembled in every limb.

“Our leader has fainted.”

There was a hurrying to relieve him, and to apply restoratives. But soon
he recovered, and again stood up.

“It was nothing, comrades! Of late I have had disquieting visions. Some
haunting demon would drive me from my chosen duty; but I hurl defiance at
him, and at all the demons and powers of darkness! Behold they but drive
me to more jealous and powerful action. I glory in persecution; for
slaughter of the enemies of the God of Israel is service to the Chosen
People.”

As he continued, his face grew dark, his jaws and fists were clinched, and
his gestures violent. He seemed to be fighting some unseen enemy which was
present and before him.

“Long live our worthy Dictator!”

“Woe to the enemies of the Temple!”

“The fate of Stephanos awaiteth them!”

“We will follow Saulus to the death!”

Such were some of the shouts that rent the air.

At length comparative quiet was restored, and plans were formed for an
attack upon the disciples of the New Faith on the morrow. It was known
that they assembled in the Upper Chamber every morning at the third hour.
It would be easy to gather a rabble to do their bidding if they needed
aid. They were just about to separate, when a sudden tremor passed over
the frame of Rabbi Abdiel. His features grew rigid, his muscles tense, and
he began muttering incoherent words.

“He hath a trance, as he is sometimes wont,” exclaimed Saulus.
“Peradventure a lying spirit possesseth his lips, for his prophecy is
always evil concerning us.”

All had gathered about the Rabbi, who now began to speak more clearly, and
in a loud voice.

“Members of the _Urim_! Deceivers and deceived! Hypocrites and vipers! Ye
are fighting against the God of all the earth and his devoted servants!
The cup of your iniquity is overflowing! Your elders and co‐workers have
slain the Chosen One,—the most righteous of all the sons of men! His
kingdom will increase forever, while yours will soon be shattered! Your
Dictator will be his chief apostle, and ye will persecute him from city to
city!”

The tumult became so great that nothing more could be heard. Some were
almost ready to smite him, but it was plainly evident that he knew not
what he had been saying. Another tremor; then his frame relaxed. He was
again himself, and astonished to see that all were gathered about him.

“Down with our enemies of the New Faith!” he cried, showing that when
himself he was in earnest accord with the spirit of the Inner Circle.



The Rabban Gamaliel was astounded at the action of the Sanhedrin in the
case of Stephanos. As the head of the most noted training school in
Jerusalem, where Hebrew youth were transformed into teachers and Rabbis,
his influence with the chief priests and elders was ordinarily undoubted.
But against the wave of fanaticism and persecution which was now surging
through the Holy City, he felt himself utterly powerless. While thoroughly
loyal to the Chosen People, he, with a few of the more liberal Pharisees,
had faithfully striven to stem the tide, calm the fierce and turbulent
spirit, and prevent any physical violence toward the members of the New
Faith. While he detested their doctrines, believed them to be the victims
of delusion, and ridiculed the claims of the Nazarene as put forth by his
disciples, he also counselled forbearance, and believed that such
superstition would soon wear itself out, and come to naught if let alone.
His advice was entirely unheeded. The worst passions of the Sanhedrin,
their followers, and the rabble were aflame, and logic and lore availed
nothing. The stoning of Stephanos had been like the scent of fresh blood
to a wolf.

The study of great psychological waves which sometimes roll over a
community, and even a nation, is most interesting and instructive. A vast
pent‐up mass of human passion, perhaps long in accumulating, like the lava
of a volcano, will occasionally find some outlet, and all pour out in that
particular direction. It is thus that riots, mobs, revolutions, and wars
originate. Like some strange epidemic they steal in, and gather momentum
until they sweep everything before them. War between nations, which often
comes from religious prejudice, is simply brute force and animal ferocity
exercised on a colossal scale. There is no tiger more cruel than
intolerant fanaticism, and the murder of Stephanos was like the unchaining
of such a beast. It was the starting‐point of a contagion of insanity, and
Saulus was the fittest leader in which it found embodiment. Under the
general support and sanction of the Sanhedrin, he became for the time
commander, and directed its forces.



Early on the second morning after the notable tragedy, the Rabban Gamaliel
sat in his private library in a meditative mood. The piles of inscribed
parchments, and numerous shelves loaded with rolls of manuscripts rich
with Hebrew lore, were undisturbed. The law, psalms, and prophets, the
Mishna, Gemra, Hagada, and Halacha, which contained the treasures of
Jewish scholasticism, and the archives of ancient polity and literature,
had no attraction. It was the problems of the present which were pressing
upon the Rabban. Never had he felt so powerless and so unreconciled to
events. Not only the Holy City, but his own household, seemed rent in
twain. His former impetuous young student and disciple had suddenly
blossomed into the Hebrew leader of affairs in Jerusalem, while his own
influence had gone into a total eclipse. His beautiful and idolized
daughter had bestowed the wealth of her warm youthful affection upon an
avowed apostate. Even the thought subtly intruded itself, that it would
have been more tolerable if her recent illness had been unto death; and he
pictured to himself the possible resignation which would now possess him
if her fair form were already sleeping in the quiet sepulchre. He bowed
his head in agony as a chaos of conflicting emotions agitated his soul,
and groaned aloud, and wept as a child might weep. All the fame, success,
and usefulness of his past life was a hollow dream. His vaunted wisdom in
the eyes of the Holy City had turned to ashes. Worse than all, it even had
become foolishness to his own flesh and blood.

At length he aroused himself as if he had arrived at some important and
final decision. Honor, reputation, position, and religion must be
maintained, even at the expense of family ties and affection. Shall not a
man rule his own house? Putting his emotion under foot, and stifling the
softened feeling which had possessed him, his features became hard and
unyielding, and his lips tightly closed. He signalled a waiting‐maid.

“Find Amabel, and say that I would see her.”

The young woman entered with a light though dignified step, and seated
herself by her father’s side. She at once divined something unusual in his
manner, and instinctively felt that an ordeal was impending.

“Dear father, thou didst send for me. How can I serve thee?”

“Amabel! always hast thou been a dutiful and loving child, and it now lies
in thy power to relieve me of a load which is too heavy to be borne. When
I bring the whole matter before thee, I am persuaded that thou wilt have
respect unto my wishes.”

“Thou knowest well, O my father! that mine affection for thee is great,
and if thy request be not against my duty and freedom, I will gladly
render obedience.”

Just for a moment the Rabban wavered in the resolution which he had
declared should be inflexible; for he had a distinct foreboding of a great
trial, and of the magnitude of the sacrifice that he was about to ask of
his well‐beloved daughter. Be still, heart! The issue _must_ be met!

“O my daughter! I beseech thee to be soberly mindful of the thing whereof
I shall speak unto thee. I pray that thou wilt make a sacrifice for the
sake of thy father. My honor, reputation, office, and religion are in the
balance. Amabel! I ask thee to renounce all thought of a future alliance
with Victor Serenus, and that thou promise to see him no more.”

The cheeks of Amabel visibly faded and her heart‐beat quickened, but she
maintained a good degree of calmness and self‐command. She looked
inquiringly into her father’s face, and read the stern purpose of an
inflexible will. She instinctively felt that the crisis of her life had
come. There passed a few moments of silence, though they were not required
for her to make her decision.

“O my father! I love thee, and it is like plucking out the right eye to
say thee nay; but nevertheless, I cannot comply with thy request.”

“Amabel! mark well the issue! The Holy City is aroused. My plea for the
toleration of the new heresy hath already cost me my honor and reputation.
My wisdom is scoffed at; and the leader of the time is no other than my
former young disciple, Saulus of Tarsus. A wild and cruel spirit hath
possessed the people, and the Sanhedrin is in full agreement. While I
bewail the zeal of our people, which is not according to knowledge, and
believe that its madness will soon pass by, I must bow before a storm
which I cannot withstand. Even before this commotion an alliance of the
family of the Rabban Gamaliel with the deluded Serenus would have been
intolerable, _now_ it would be fatal!”

“O my father! I am mindful of all thou sayest; but I have promised to be
the wife of Serenus, and nothing but death can separate us. His religion
is my religion, and his God my God. There is no other young man among the
Chosen People that is worthy to be compared with him in honor and virtue.”

“Even though he hath a goodly spirit in himself, he hath cast in his lot
among the despised and deluded followers of the false prophet, and will
peradventure share their fate. Persecution, scourging, imprisonment, and
perhaps stoning, await this fanatical sect; and this I cannot prevent if I
would. Now, hearken! Wilt thou foolishly hold on to this base alliance
with an outlaw and heretic, disgraced, and peradventure to be put to
death, or remain in thy father’s house, with esteem and affection, and the
respect of all the most honorable and learned people of the Holy City?”

“Nay, I will suffer dishonor, persecution, and even death if need be, for
truth, righteousness, and Victor Serenus. Worldly honor doth not tempt me.
The prophet of Nazareth, whom our people cruelly slew, was filled with the
spirit of the true God. His followers have the same mind, as manifested by
their works; and nothing can quench their spiritual fervor, their kindly
ministrations, and their abounding love toward all, even their enemies.”

“Daughter of Gamaliel! thou art altogether mad! Choose thou this day, yea,
this hour, between thy father’s house, with thy high station and all that
therewith belongeth, and the reproach of being an outcast, and sharing the
ignominious lot of the sect of the Nazarene. The honor of Gamaliel shall
not be entirely lost, and his word is law! I have finished!”

There was no alternative.

Amabel arose from her seat, threw her arms around her father’s neck, and
kissed him warmly upon the forehead, and then quietly turned and left him.
Hastily putting on a light outside garment and hat, she left the palace,
passed down the hill of Zion, and made her way to the Upper Chamber. It
was a little after the third hour, and the disciples had just gathered.

There was a goodly company of men and women, as was wont, and words of
gladness and praise abounded. Even the fate of Stephanos, and the prospect
of a general persecution, did not seem to disquiet them. But they were
unaware of the intensity of the storm that was just ready to burst, and
that they were like sheep in the midst of wolves. The spirit of love shone
through their faces, and many in the Holy City had been blessed by their
ministry and service, healed of divers diseases, and released from bonds
which had vexed them for years. Serenus was there, and had just arisen to
address them. Barnabas and Peter and John were also among them. Barnabas
had been drawn to the New Faith through the preaching of Peter, and was
already one of the most devoted among the disciples. He had ended his
sojourn at the Sheepmarket, and now made his abode with Serenus.

Amabel quietly entered. No one present knew her except Serenus, who
marvelled at her sudden appearance. While aware that the new light had
been kindled within her, and that she greatly rejoiced, he had entertained
no expectation that she would openly identify herself with the despised
people. Her exquisite grace and beauty, with the fact that she was an
unwonted visitor, turned the attention of many towards her; but after a
quick, tender glance at Serenus, she cast her large lustrous eyes
downward, and closed them with a calm devotion, as she sank into her seat
among the women of the assembly. The soul of Serenus was stirred within
him as he began speaking to the little flock.

“Brethren and sisters of the New Faith! It doth appear unto all of you
that troublous times are at hand, and that we are encompassed by those who
falsely think that we are their enemies. Even the power of God which hath
been bestowed upon us, and the wonderful works and ministry which have
been made manifest through us, are turned against our people and made an
offence. The Sadducean enmity of the Sanhedrin is bitter toward us; and
the voice of Saulus, the leader of the persecution, is hot for our
destruction. Behold ye have become a ‘rock of stumbling’ unto both the
Pharisees and Sadducees. But I say unto you, be ye not dismayed, even
though all things seem against you. The Man of Gallilee hath said,—

“‘Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you and persecute you, and say
all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake;’ and again, ‘Blessed
are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is
the kingdom of heaven.’ Again he declared, ‘Behold the kingdom of heaven
is within you.’ It is here. If persecution rage without, and ye have
harmony, peace, and love within, behold it abideth in you. As the spirit
of Christ was manifested through Jesus of Nazareth, so may it fill us to
overflowing. The things which he did ye may do also. We have the Truth,
and the Truth maketh free; yea, though prison‐walls surround us, and
revilings, and even scourgings, be visited upon us, freedom abideth.
Behold liberty is of the soul, and pertaineth not to the body. We are not
in bondage to the flesh, for it profiteth not. Not that we have aught
against it in itself, for in subjection it may render honorable service.
We love all men, and resist not evil. The triumph of violence is but for a
moment, while truth and righteousness are as eternal as the reign of God.
The world knoweth not the mystery of evil, nor how resistance maketh it to
increase. Love is finally victorious, because it thinketh no evil. God
worketh not with observation, but in you, to will and to do. Thence cometh
the victory! A man’s real foes must be they of his own household, for
nothing can truly harm him but his own base and mistaken thoughts.”

The address of Serenus was followed by spontaneous testimonies,
prophecies, and spiritual affirmations, as each was inspired to give
utterance, and all opened their souls to the Spirit of Truth. Then
followed a period of stillness, during which each one lifted his mind to
Christly ideals, and sent out loving and healing thoughts to all, not
forgetting even those who were plotting against them. The silence
continued until spiritual ecstasy prevailed, and aspiration and soul‐
communion lifted them to a state of consciousness where things of the seen
and outward life seemed distant, and rested but lightly upon them. The
calumnies and revilings concerning them which filled the Holy City were as
nothing; for they were now in a heavenly frame made up of love, good‐will,
spiritual vigor, and harmony.

At length the profound stillness was broken by a discordant hum in the
distance. The cruel persecutors were upon their track.

The noise gradually came nearer, and soon resolved itself into chaotic
vibrations of yells, commands, shrieks, and imprecations. Then a single
stone was followed by a volley, which crashed upon the roof, sides, and
windows of the Upper Chamber.

“Fear not the wrath of man!” said Serenus.

Then the little band chanted selections from the Psalms of David:—

  “I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains:
  From whence shall my help come?
  The Lord is thy keeper:
  The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
  The sun shall not smite thee by day,
  Nor the moon by night.
  The Lord shall keep thee from all evil;
  He shall keep thy soul.
  The Lord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in,
  From this time forth and for evermore.
  O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good:
  For his mercy endureth forever.”

The mob rapidly approached. A small man with a strong rod in his hand was
slightly in advance, making violent gestures, and giving loud commands. It
was Saulus. Clustered about him were about two score of the members of the
Inner Circle, and these were followed by a great rabble from the worst
streets and lanes of the city.

The moments dragged slowly to the little band, for they instinctively took
in the whole situation. After finishing the chants, the assembly was
dismissed. No one tried to escape. Even if attempted it would have been
impossible, for the house was entirely surrounded. They gathered in little
groups, and friend encouraged friend.

Serenus was already by Amabel’s side.

“Beloved! How camest thou here in such a time as this?”

“O Serenus! my father hath commanded me to renounce thee and the New
Faith, or leave his house. Behold my choice!”

“Amabel! thou hast given up all for me!”

“Nay! say rather for my soul’s freedom!”

“Daughter of Gamaliel, and Light of my soul! I am powerless to protect
thee from the persecutors that are at the door. But have faith in God! All
things will work together for good. Doubt not!”

“I have no fear! Peace, love, and courage possess my soul.”

The tramp of the fierce host as it burst up the stairways was like the
noise of thunder.

With glaring eyes and panting breath Saulus bounded into the room, closely
followed by his comrades, with the mob at their heels. Not one of the
assembly raised a hand in defence.

The utter peacefulness and non‐resistance of the little band was so
strange that for a moment Saulus was astounded. He had expected a strong
fight, or at least a desperate attempt to escape, but found neither. But
in a moment he regained command of himself, and there was no wavering in
his purpose.

“Heretics and blasphemers!” he cried. “We have caught you in the very
exercise of your seditious and profane worship, and ye yourselves are
witnesses to your own criminality. I have full authority, as a loyal
Hebrew, to mete out punishment to every one of you, men and women, and to
crush this mockery of our holy religion. Ha! a little trial by scourging,
and some acquaintance with stocks and prisons, will restore your minds.
And if these fail, I wot that the treatment administered to Stephanos will
be found effectual.”

Up to this time he had not noticed that Serenus was among them, but as he
beheld his old opponent he had special delight.

“Ha! Serenus! thou hast found thy true belonging. I have thee in my power,
and thy traitorous apostasy shall reap its full reward.”

Then, turning to his prisoners in general, he continued,—

“If any of you will blaspheme Jesus, and abjure and curse the New Faith,
peradventure we may release such with the warning of a few stripes.”

No one responded.

“Forward, comrades, and escort them to prison!”

Before the sixth hour of the day, every one, including Serenus and Amabel,
were surrounded by prison walls.



                               CHAPTER XX
                            SOWING AND REAPING


                         “Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”


The persecution of the disciples of the New Faith formed a notable epoch
in the history both of Judaism and Christianity. It was the first stage of
an agitation, which, though subsequently losing some of its local
intensity, widened and deepened until it changed the religious complexion
of nations and the world. It marked the decadence of the existing
ceremonial system, and at the same time dispersed widely the seeds of a
vital faith which no opposition has since been able to stamp out.

History confirms the apparent paradox, that living truth has thriven
through repression; and even persecution. Stagnation and formalism have
been its greater hindrances. It has such an inherent vitality that
agitation and antagonism may justly be regarded as important factors in
the evolutionary process which brings it into manifestation. It develops
true vigor through the exercise of overcoming. Sometimes the Spirit seems
to slumber beneath the crust of stagnation, until active hostility
quickens its dormant energy and enables it to break forth. Good,
therefore, is often nourished from seeming evil.

The intent of the chief priests and elders was to “slay the young child;”
but instead they multiplied him. The New Faith was like a fire, and the
desperate effort to beat it out only scattered its brands among the
endless combustible material of human hearts. Even at this early period in
Jerusalem, the little flock that was apprehended and imprisoned formed but
a small fraction of the three thousand souls which already had been
possessed by the Spirit of Truth.

Before the ninth hour of the day upon which the assembly were thrown into
prison, Gamaliel was informed of the wholesale arrest and persecution.
Believing that the flight of Amabel would naturally be to the Upper
Chamber, it occurred to him that peradventure she might be among the women
who had been put in ward. The situation was intolerable. The thought that
his own beautiful child, well beloved and delicately reared, was probably
imprisoned with the offscouring of the Holy City, almost drove him beside
himself. As he looked in upon the recesses of his own soul, there was a
violent tempest, in which pride, disgrace, love, and anger were each
striving for mastery, and boiling in wild confusion.

The self‐poised, reputable, and wise Educator of Jerusalem could hardly
persuade himself of his own identity. How the events of a few hours had
changed the whole world! He, to whom thousands had come from far and near
to learn wisdom, not able to rule his own house and teach his own
offspring! Oh, how much better if Amabel had quietly passed into the
Beyond, as the physicians had predicted during her late illness! Then the
better self made itself heard,—

“Oh, how I love her! I cannot give up my child!”

Bringing his thoughts to immediate events, the question again thrust
itself upon him, Is she in prison? He was minded to seek an audience with
Caiaphas, and lay the whole matter before him privately, but upon further
thought, his pride and dignity revolted.

At length, realizing the strange fact that Saulus had suddenly mounted to
the virtual leadership and control of the persecution, the Rabban resolved
to send for him. He felt that, notwithstanding his fiery spirit, the
influence of their former relation would make such a conference more
tolerable than any communication with the chief priests. It was
humiliating, but what better could be done? He therefore despatched a
faithful messenger to the inn of the Sheepmarket, begging Saulus to come
to the palace, upon a pressing matter, without delay. The intervening
moments seemed all too long; but at length the former disciple, whose will
had now become so imperious in the Holy City, was ushered into his
presence. After the usual greetings, Gamaliel introduced the subject which
lay so heavy upon his heart.

“O my young friend and former disciple! I am in sore distress, and have
sought audience with thee to ask thy favor in a matter of deep concern to
myself and my office.”

“I have much respect unto thy wishes, O worthy Rabban! and will listen to
thy request.”

“I am minded of the great influence which hath come to thee, O son of
Benoni! both with the chief priests and all the people, by reason of thy
zeal for the established ordinances. Before making known unto thee my
special desire, I would inquire regarding thy purposes, and those of the
Sanhedrin, concerning the members of the new sect which hath appeared in
our midst?”

“We purpose to uproot and bring to naught the heresy as quickly as
possible, for the good of our religion and nation. If peradventure there
should be delay, and it become scattered abroad, behold great harm will
come to our people and their traditions. Surely, as a teacher in Israel,
thou must be mindful of this peril.”

“I have always felt persuaded, O Saulus, that every false philosophy would
soon come to an end. I am mindful of the foolishness of the doctrines of
the new sect as thou art, and agree that they are harmful; but I am
persuaded that, having no root, they will soon wither away. Dost thou not
feel that persecution is unduly bitter, and that many who have been
deluded will soon come back to the religion of their fathers if left alone
for a little time?”

“Nay, worthy Rabban, thine age and much learning hath holden thine eyes to
the urgency of the peril which hangeth over our people. There can be no
better service to God and Israel than to kill this seditious conspiracy.
If our righteous persecution be sharp and quick, behold it will save much
trouble. It will prevent the spread of the blasphemy, and confine the
severity to a small number. It were therefore _merciful_ to persecute even
to the death the betrayers of the Circumcision, before they multiply their
proselytes. Of this the Sanhedrin is fully persuaded, and hath given me
full authority to make an end of the matter.”

Gamaliel recognized the hopelessness of further argument, and keenly felt
how powerless he was to bring about any moderation of the spirit and
purpose of the persecution. His opinion of the quality of the New Faith
differed little from that of Saulus; but they were utterly unlike in their
philosophy of its cure, and in their views of toleration.

One who persecutes or murders for “God’s sake,” or for the interest of
some religion, as universal history demonstrates, is of all cruel men the
most cruel. Inquisitors have thought that they had a heavy duty laid upon
them of “saving souls.”

“It is unseemly to continue the argument,” said Gamaliel; “and now I will
make known unto thee the special favor which I crave at thy hands. I
beseech thee, for my sake, as thy former teacher and friend, that thou
make no mention of what I am about to ask, lest it bring dishonor upon
me.”

“I freely grant thy request,” replied Saulus.

The young zealot was greatly surprised at the unwonted earnestness of the
Rabban, and wondered what his petition might be.

Brushing away a few tears that he vainly tried to suppress, the distressed
father took Saulus by the hand, and looked urgently into his face as if to
make a plea.

“O my young friend! behold my loved and dutiful daughter hath been
beguiled of the heresy. To‐day, before the third hour, she left me that
she might join these deluded people, thus giving up my favor, affection,
home, and honor. Peradventure she went directly to the Upper Chamber, and
hath gone to prison with the other women. Behold my sorrow!”

“She hath chosen her own portion!” said Saulus unconcernedly.

“O Saulus!” said the Rabban pleadingly. “She is young, and knoweth little
of the heresy, being deceived.”

“I will visit the prison, and find if she be among the women. What is her
name?”

“Amabel.”

“If she be with them, I will command her release, and direct that she
return to her father’s house.”

“I thank thee for thy great favor! After being cast into prison, I am
persuaded that when released she will show her former wisdom in this
matter.”

Gamaliel brightened at the renewal of his own hope, and added,—

“Peradventure it is well! I perceive that nothing less than some such
experience would have turned her. Now I soon shall see my daughter!”

Saulus took his leave, and proceeded directly to the prison.

“Hast thou among the heretics a young woman called Amabel?” asked Saulus
of the keeper.

Looking over the roll, he replied in the affirmative.

“Release her, and command her to go to her father’s house!”

Saulus disdained to make any explanation, and left at once, without
waiting to see her. Gamaliel had requested that his name be not mentioned,
and it was therefore impossible that she should be conducted to the
palace. It would lead to recognition.

The jailer went to the cell where Amabel was incarcerated, and unbarring
the heavy door, proclaimed,—

“By order of Saulus, deputy of the Sanhedrin, behold thou art released,
and commanded to go to thy father’s house!”

She passed out of the dark damp interior into the sunshine, and
disappeared in the crowded street.

Whither would she go? Her father’s house had been closed against her.
Hesitating but a moment, she turned her back toward Mount Zion, and
passing northward, continued along the narrow street that led beyond
Hezekiah’s Pool, at length coming to the home of Serenus. She knocked at
the humble door, and was warmly received and ministered unto by his
mother, who welcomed her as her own daughter.



Saulus returned to the Sheepmarket near the close of the eventful day,
feeling that his work was well begun.

The more prominent leaders in the sedition had been gathered in, and were
to await his persuasive tactics to force their sworn renunciation of the
New Faith, and blasphemy of its prophet. Failing in this, adequate
punishment would be meted out under his direction, and at his convenience.
He felt a peculiar pride that he had the honor of being the chief
instrument in the hands of the God of Israel to correct, not only
religious, but political transgression. Among the circle at the inn, he
was received as a hero and public benefactor. Cassia bestowed her
congratulation, and was delighted with his campaign of persecution.

“O my devoted Saulus! thou art a brave leader, chosen of the Lord to
defend our people and punish their enemies.”

“Thy words are sweet unto me,” replied Saulus, as they seated themselves
in a secluded recess of the court, while the twilight fell upon them. He
put his arm around her light form, and drew her close by his side. She was
very happy. During a few moments of silence, her heart was so full of
golden dreams of the future, that she wished she might look in and behold
it, as in a mirror. The music of fancy, unheard without, filled her soul
with melody; and amid stirring scenes, her lover was before her day and
night. The embrace of his arm tightened, and she nestled her head upon his
shoulder. Saulus was transported to a new world as he felt her silken
locks and warm breath upon his cheek, and for a little time he forgot
persecutions and prisons. Following the swift flight of his imagination,
he saw before him, not only his complete triumph in the contest he was
waging, but a heaven upon earth, soon to begin, with the full fruition of
his love, and the possession of the idol which for years had ruled his
heart.

That wonderful intensity of nature which made Saulus a fiery persecutor
rendered him a most ardent lover. There was nothing commonplace or
mediocre within him. The whole fabric of his character was woven of
extremes, all of which were in unceasing vibration.

Would the love of Saulus, now so exclusively centred upon one personality
with the intensity of a white heat, ever become broadened, purified,
disciplined, and diffused? Could this stream of soul‐force, now so narrow
and vehement, ever spread out, and in gentle volume nourish barren brown
fields, clothe them with living green, and make them bud and blossom? No!
says the world. Impossible! replies sensuous logic and intellectual
acumen. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?”

The persecution, now so thoroughly inaugurated, raged with unabated
ferocity. Dark and cruel weeks dragged their weary course into months, and
the cry of martyrs was unceasing. But the heroism of the disciples of the
New Faith was a marvel. Under the inquisition of Saulus, men and women
were scourged, buffeted, put in confinement, and stoned; and though a few
recanted, nearly all were faithful. The courage and spiritual inspiration
which had possessed Stephanos continued, and in many cases even stoning to
death produced only painless transition. The prisoners healed each other’s
distresses, and often the persecutors themselves received from their
victims some of the outward fruits of the power of the New Faith. But the
bigoted inquisitors seemed possessed of a collective insanity or
demoniacal obsession, outbreaking waves of which abound in history.

It would be discordant to the purpose and philosophy which these pages aim
to express through depicted events to enlarge upon this period. A tragic
story of terrible things that abounded during this spell of unloosed
animal passion might be dramatized, which would be well within the limits
of the admitted facts of history.(7) The theory that a realism which
plunges into the depths of harrowing circumstance is either wholesome or
artistic will not here be followed. It is true that every tale built upon
the principles of idealism, and the portrayal of idealistic character,
cannot do without a setting and background of contrasts which will bring
truth into high relief, but the dark shades should be kept in
subordination.

At length the time came when the New Faith, like a smothered and beaten
conflagration, appeared to be thoroughly stamped out in Jerusalem. Every
suspected house had been visited, and every implicated man or woman
tortured or imprisoned, except such as had fled to remote provinces, which
were not a few. But Saulus was not content with the complete conquest of
the Jewish capital. Finding that some had slipped from his grasp, he
began, like Alexander, to look about for other worlds to conquer. Being
informed that a few had fled to Damascus, and were there promulgating the
heresy, he made ready for an expedition to that city, and received from
the Sanhedrin the necessary authority and equipment.

The terrible strain of conflicting emotion and surging passion which had
rent the soul of Saulus, fearfully told upon him. His haggard face,
nervous unrest, sleepless nights, and hellish visions, produced an
epileptic condition which appeared in the form of occasional paroxysms,
and its scars were never afterwards fully removed. They were ever a “stake
in the flesh.”

At times, during these feverish months of delirium, the scourgings of
conscience were terrible. But the more desperate his torment, the more he
hardened himself. Nightly visions of strange horror disquieted him. Often
during the darkness, the sighs and groans of his victims echoed and re‐
echoed in his ears. He refused to be alone at night, and under plea of
illness arranged for one of his comrades of the Inner Circle to share his
apartment. His brief periods of strange relenting were not mentioned to
his friends, and on no account would he have had Cassia suspect them. Each
short interval of moral upheaval was followed by a more desperate
determination to push the persecution. To have every nerve tense with a
hot pursuit for his prey had peculiar charm, and yielded a thrill of
delight to that part of his nature which he thought to be himself.

Toward the last of the persecution, the flashes of goodness and moral
sanity increased in frequency. Seeming to come up from within, they
staggered his understanding. He reproached himself for such occasional
weaknesses. Each time as they passed off he braced himself anew, and
hastened to his appointed work.

The last evening of the sojourn of Saulus in the Holy City was drawing to
a close, and his preparations for an early departure the next morning were
complete. The day had been sultry, and the family group at the inn were
upon the house‐top. The full moon, which silvered the broad expanse of
towers and battlements, seemed to wear a sinister and ghastly aspect; and
there was a redness in its sheen which gave Saulus a slight inward
shudder. The shadows cast by surrounding objects were unwontedly sharp and
black, and he felt preternaturally sensitive and expectant. The stirring
events of his life in the Judean capital surged in a quick torrent through
his mind, as if painted upon a swiftly revolving canvas. Love, hate, joy,
despair, and ambition, sprinkled with the ashes of an inner and strange
remorse, danced in chaotic confusion before him. Unwelcome and forbidding
enemies seemed to be prodding him from within. Had he not done his duty
well?

Cassia interrupted his revery, and together they sought a retired corner
as they were wont. A long converse followed. Mutual vows were exchanged
and renewed, and plans made for the consummation of their union upon the
return of Saulus from his campaign in Damascus. After a long‐continued
rehearsal of mutual visions of present and future bliss, the moment for
parting was at hand. Saulus was about to arise from his seat; but with
eyes suddenly fixed upon vacancy, he gave a quick gasp and sank back.

“What is it, Saulus? thou tremblest and art pale! Art thou ill? _O
Saulus!_”

Cassia threw her fair white arms around his neck to reassure him. After a
brief conflict with the unknown, but with no effort to disengage himself
from her soft embrace, he replied,—

“Nay, little one! I am well! ’Twas but a passing shudder! Some disquieting
fancies seize me at unwonted and inconvenient seasons.”

“O Saulus! thou art so brave and good! But thou hast not seemed well of
late! O my hero! What _can_ it be?”

“I wot not. I am persuaded that I perform every duty to which I am called
in no uncertain manner. But at times, peradventure I am under a spell. My
heart stands still, and my limbs shiver. I see something near at hand
which is not of earth, and the darkness seems full of terrible shapes. But
I spurn and defy them! It is but a passing weakness, and soon will fade
out. Between my little one and the punishment of heretics my mind will be
so full that no more idle fancies can steal in. See! I am well now! I am
strong! Peace be with thee! ’Twill be but for a short season, little one,
when behold, thou art mine, and I am thine forever!”

A final embrace, and a whispering of eternal love, and they parted.

Saulus reached his chamber in a very uncertain mood. Despite the brave
words just uttered, and with his comrade soundly sleeping near by, the
very silence seemed oppressive and retributive. The atmosphere was charged
with malignity, and every breath feverish and bitter. He tried desperately
to fasten his thoughts upon Cassia, so as to shut out dire fancies. Thus
for a few moments he would perch upon empyrean heights, only to be quickly
cast down into horrible chasms.

  “A mind not to be chang’d by place or time.
  The mind is its own place, and in itself
  Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

A thick mist of delirium seemed to gather in the darkness, and nameless
Horrors danced around and leered at him.

“Oh, for sleep! Come, oh, come, oblivion, and blot me out! Why was I ever
born? Have I a demon within me? Am I myself or It? No! Away! I dare and
defy thee! O God of Israel! I serve thee, and nothing shall shake me!”

Finally, from sheer exhaustion, and in a cold sweat, he fell into a
troubled sleep. But phantoms in kaleidoscopic array peopled his dreams. At
length three loud raps at the door aroused him, and froze the blood in his
veins. There It stood!

“O heaven! mercy! There! there! It points its bony finger at me! Guilty?
_No! no!_ I am righteous—_righteous!_”

He leaped from his couch, and ran to his comrade and shook him.

“Look! look! dost thou not see It?”

“I see nothing! Saulus, quiet thyself! behold all is well!”

Saulus crept back to his couch, more uncertain who and what he was than
ever.

A hellish torment was within and without!

                           * * * * * * * * * *

As the first faint flush of dawn entered through the casement of his
chamber, turning the blackness into gray, Saulus awoke from a half‐
conscious despair, and, wonder of wonders, a feeling of heavenly harmony
possessed his soul! Peace, like a broad, glassy river, was borne in upon
him.

“Am I Saulus?”

  “Calm on the listening ear of night
  Come Heaven’s melodious strains.”

Iridescent tints of beauty filled the room. His soul floated through, and
was bathed in a symphony of harmonious sound‐waves, sweeter than a
thousand harps of Æolia. The atmosphere seemed charged with an impersonal
and universal love, and its message was written in letters of light upon
the walls of his chamber. The fragrance of roses was wafted in upon his
bewildered senses. A heavenly chorus of benedictions, distant, but
enchanting in quality, reached him, as though echoed and re‐echoed through
long corridors. He felt his soul expanding and responding, as he seemed to
inhale a spirit of inspiration. An angelic visitor in white robes stood
before him, and whispered, “I am Prophecy,” and with a winning smile
pointed upward. What a vision! What brightness! What beauty!

“Have I died, and is this paradise? But see! It begins to fade! Stay, Oh,
_stay_! Leave me not! _No! no! no!_”

It had gone, but the room was still—so still! The silence might almost be
felt. What a strange calmness! The soul of Saulus was as placid as the
mirror‐like surface of a pool untouched by a zephyr. He heard a voice,
distinct, but so low and sweet that he could not tell whether it were
audible or in his soul.

“Saulus! I am the divine image within thee,—thy real self! I am spirit,
and possess the deeps of thy Being. I am the quickened but unmanifest
Saulus. In thy consciousness thou dost mistake a false and perverted self
for me. I am yet entombed! Bid me come forth!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The morning dawned brightly, and found Saulus as he was wont. Oh, how
vivid the visions! It seemed as if he had wandered for a whole night in
the infernal regions, and anon been transported for a brief morning hour
to heaven. How utterly indescribable!

“What meaneth this? Oh, that I might grasp that heavenly condition! But it
is gone, utterly gone!”

Time lingers not, and the appointed hour for departure was close at hand.
He hastily arose, and made his final preparations for the long journey.
His comrades, who were to accompany him, were already waiting, and
impatient for the start. Waving Cassia a final adieu, as she looked down
from her casement, Saulus and his retinue wound rapidly northward through
the narrow streets, and passed out through the Damascus Gate. Before the
sun had climbed far above the horizon they had left the Holy City well
behind.



                               CHAPTER XXI
                            THE GREAT HARVEST


            “The word unto the prophet spoken
            Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
            The word by seers or sibyls told,
            In groves of oak, or fanes of gold,
            Still floats upon the morning wind,
            Still whispers to the willing mind.
            One accent of the Holy Ghost
            The heedless world hath never lost.”


It is expedient that we return, and gather up a few threads that were
dropped at the close of the chapter preceding the last. On the eventful
morning when the comrades gathered at the Sheepmarket, and departed for
the Upper Chamber to apprehend the assembly, there was a small party left
behind which demands further notice. A controversy took place, and the
little circle was rent by the decided and outspoken condemnation of
Rebecca of the proposed movement.

“Saulus seems beside himself in this mad persecution!” she exclaimed with
a deep flush. “I think the new sect has a right to live peaceably, and be
free from molestation. God speed their escape!”

“Daughter! thou speakest wildly!” said Benoni reprovingly. “I bid thee
hold thy peace! It would have been well for us had we left thee in
Tarsus.”

Rebecca said no more, but held her own thoughts firmly. Since the stampede
from the Temple, when her life was saved by the young stranger, she had
made many apologies for, if not an actual defence of, the disciples of the
New Faith. Her unknown rescuer had not told her that he was one of them,
but she had an indefinable feeling that he might be of their number. His
words and spirit were unlike those of any one she knew who was subject to
the ceremonial system. How opposite in temper from her own brother, whom
she began to fear was possessed by an evil spirit! It was not so much what
Serenus had said, when he conveyed her to her home in her faint and
exhausted condition, for their conversation had been brief and general;
but his dignified mien, lofty spirit, and utter unselfishness greatly
impressed her. His very presence had seemed an inspiration. How strange,
that in answer to her question he should have announced himself merely as
the “friend of Saulus”! Knowing nothing of his name or dwelling‐place, she
often wondered whether she might ever see him again. While naturally
retiring, and rarely looking into the faces of strangers, it must be
confessed that, as opportunity offered, she had some dim expectation that
she would again behold the face of her kind benefactor.

Who is able to unravel the mysteries of a maiden’s heart? Who can untwist
the delicate strands which, when combined, are able to guide and draw a
gentle soul, and give it the force and direction of a new orbit?

In the case of Rebecca, the vital service rendered would, of itself, make
gratitude strong and lasting. The lofty principles expressed, though in a
brief and unstudied way, would also strike a unison in such a pure and
intuitional nature as that of Rebecca. For a long time she had been
quietly growing away from the heartless formalism of her people. She was
ready for something better. Without knowing anything of the letter of the
New Faith, peradventure its invisible vibrations were beating gently upon
the strings of her higher nature, even though unrecognized.

Was there a mingled element of unconscious love subtly growing out of so
brief an episode? What more natural? and yet what prophet can say either
yea or nay?

As Saulus and his concourse moved away toward the Upper Chamber, an
intense interest and curiosity possessed those who were left behind as to
the outcome of the day’s proceedings. All felt that an important crisis
had arrived. Cassia was exultant, while Rebecca was cast down. But despite
their unlikeness, they preserved friendly relations for the sake of
Saulus. Prospective sisterhood rendered each forbearing. Rebecca was
sorely tried, but must needs not rebel against her surroundings.

Almon, the keeper of the hostelry, who had followed the concourse in the
distance, soon returned, and announced to the family that the blasphemers
were securely under arrest.

“I bear you good tidings,” said he, as with manifest glee he entered the
court of the inn. “Saulus and his friends have the whole band under
arrest, and they are soon to be taken in a procession to prison.”

Cassia clapped her little white hands with delight. Rabbi Abdiel and
Benoni were exultant in their approval, while Rebecca was silent.

“Behold,” continued Almon, “the direct way from the Upper Chamber to the
prison leads by the inn, so that captors and captives will soon move past
our very doors.”

“To the house‐top!” exclaimed Cassia excitedly. “Let us all go up and see
the procession when it passes.”

She bounded up two stairways in hot haste, and the others soon followed.
Rebecca would fain have been spared the sight, but something seemed to
draw her.

There is frequently an indescribable fascination in beholding just that
which one does not wish to behold.

“It is a proud day for thy son, O Benoni!” quoth the Rabbi.

“Yea, my brother; Saulus directs all this matter as seemeth him good.”

They had not long to wait.

From the distance, fierce cries, cheers, and curses echoed above the
general hum of voices; and soon a black mass of moving figures surged
slowly along one of the narrow streets that led into the square. Near the
front was the untiring figure of Saulus, directing the movement of the
throng. His eyes flashed, his step was firm, and his air that of a
military conqueror returning from a victorious campaign.

When the motley crowd came near, the little group ranged themselves along
the parapet that they might observe every feature of the procession. From
their vantage‐ground, it was easy to study every face, as it passed
directly in front.

The venerable Abdiel waved his hands with satisfaction, and blessed the
God of Israel; and Saulus, looking up, proudly returned the salutation.

Near the head of the line of prisoners was a tall, dignified young man of
noble presence and calm features, whose bearing and costume marked him as
one of the most notable among them. Rebecca saw him, and instinctively
exclaimed,—

“It is he!”

At the same moment, the young man turned his eyes upward, and their
glances met. A slight nod of recognition passed between them, which was
noticed by the others, so that Rebecca was forced to explain.

“Behold it is he who saved me on the day of the great stampede at the
Temple! I know not his name, but he called himself ‘the friend of
Saulus.’”

Almon also gave an exclamation of great surprise.

“As I live, that is the man!”

“Who is this man, O Almon?” said Benoni, astounded at the double
recognition of the prisoner.

“It is he who saved Saulus from the thieves, and brought him to the inn at
midnight, and ministered unto him. I wot not his name, but—oh, wonder of
wonders!—as to Rebecca, he also proclaimed himself to me as the ‘friend of
Saulus.’”

“Surely, there must be some mistake!” said Benoni. “_Such_ a man among the
prisoners!”

“Shame on the persecution!” exclaimed Rebecca. “Is Saulus to imprison the
young hero who saved not only my life, but his own also?”

On the evening of the same day, Saulus despatched the following letter:—



“OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE PRISONERS.

_Sir_,—Circumstances have conspired to cause me to change the special
order which I gave thee concerning the heretic, Victor Serenus. I was then
minded to reserve him for unwonted punishment, and that speedily; but
behold I now order that thou at once release him, upon the condition that
he leave the Holy City before the rising of to‐morrow’s sun, never to
return.

                                                                  SAULUS,
                                               _Deputy of the Sanhedrin_.”



Before the hours of evening were far advanced, the hearts of Amabel and
the mother of Serenus were made glad by his arrival. Their surprise could
hardly have been greater had he dropped from the skies.

“O children of the New Faith!” exclaimed the mother; “God is good! All is
good! Even out of seeming evil springeth good! The law of the Lord is
perfect!”

“What a day of fulfilment!” said Serenus. “Prison doors are opened through
the power of the Truth. Bonds are stricken off, not by an interposition
which suspends divine law, but through its perfect and orderly working.”

“Yea,” said Amabel; “the loving thought which thou hast held towards
Saulus, even though unknown by him, hath borne its fruit.”

“The condition of my freedom,” said Serenus, “is that I leave the Holy
City before the rising of to‐morrow’s sun, never to return; but this in no
wise disquiets me.”

Amabel’s cheeks grew pale, but she was silent.

“In time past,” continued Serenus, “it often seemed expedient that I
depart from here, that peradventure I might kindle the flame of the New
Faith in strange cities. But that concerning which I was formerly in doubt
hath now been made clear to me. While in the prison cell, the Inner Guide
prompted me that I should depart, but I wot not how it would come to pass.
I must go, even to Rome, that from the heart of the world I may witness
for the truth.”

He cast an inquiring look at Amabel.

“O Amabel! With thy devotion to the higher life, thou hast also given me a
place in thine heart. Art thou willing to sacrifice worldly preferment,
and share my lot, that we may go hand in hand to plant the standard of a
pure spiritual religion? Canst thou with me bear hardship and seeming
dishonor, yea, and peradventure further persecution, for the love of God,
the sake of truth, and the good of thy kind?”

“Yea, Serenus! I fear nothing! I am willing, nay, glad, to go with thee to
the ends of the earth, that I may help thee to succor the distressed,
strengthen the weak, raise the fallen, and awake those who sleep, whether
in the flesh, or in dead works and ceremonies. The Voice within me
says—_go_!”

The mother of Serenus placed her hands upon the heads of her children, and
gave them a loving dedication and benediction.

Everything was speedily arranged for an early departure on the morrow. An
ordained disciple of the New Faith, who lived hard by, would come in at
early dawn and unite Serenus and Amabel in marriage, according to the
simple rites of the Upper Chamber. Before the midnight hour every
preparation was completed for the new life so soon to begin.

During the silent hours, Peace, like a river, flowed in upon the souls in
the quiet home.

Before the early dawn had fairly chased away the deep shadows of night,
Serenus and Amabel were wedded.

  “They spoke of love, such love as spirits feel
    In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
  No fears to beat away, no strife to heal,
    The past unsighed for, and the future sure.”

As the morning mists were being dissipated, and the Temple roof gilded by
the first rays of the rising sun, Serenus and Amabel, well mounted on
small but hardy steeds, passed out through the gate leading toward the
seaport of Cæsarea. The mother was to follow in a few days in the company
of a convenient caravan.



Passing forward at a single bound, over the months of hot persecution
noted in the preceding chapter, during which Serenus and Amabel were far
away, we rejoin Saulus and his band on the way to Damascus. The first
stage of the journey was over the Roman road which led from Jerusalem to
Cæsarea.

As the Judean sun climbed higher in the heavens, and poured out his fiery
rays, they rode rapidly along the hill‐country which forms the divide
between the valley of the Jordan and the Mediterranean. At intervals from
some elevated spot over which the route led, they would halt for a few
moments, and cast a lingering look backward upon the now distant golden
Temple roof, and the white towers and battlements which they had left far
behind. Anon a far‐searching glance to the westward would faintly disclose
the deep blue of the Great Sea. Every foot of the way was rich in historic
association to the Israelite, and every town and village consecrated by
some event which formed a part of the national folk‐lore.

The companions of Saulus proposed a rest of a few hours during the intense
heat of the midday; but he refused to make more than a brief stop, barely
permitting space to feed the animals and satisfy their own hunger. He was
even impatient at the ordinary rate of progress, and was minded to hurry
forward. The next morning they saw Mount Gerizim, “the Mount of Blessing,”
towering up in the distance before them. Upon that bald, brown summit
Moses had stationed the priests and Levites, to bless the Children of
Israel when they passed over Jordan.

The route wound through the soft green fields which lie around the base of
the mountain, and midday brought them to Shechem in Samaria, where they
stopped for refreshment. On this hallowed ground Jacob had encamped and
erected an altar, and here Joseph had been sent to seek his brethren. On
this spot Joshua had gathered all the elders and judges of Israel, and
they “presented themselves before God.”

Saulus was familiar with all this rich heritage of national history, so
full of meaning to the Chosen People; but now it palled upon him, and
seemed dim and distant.

Leaving the Roman road at this point, they took the Damascus route to the
northeast, which was much more rough and difficult. Passing Mount Ebal and
Mount Tabor, and skirting the beautiful Sea of Galilee, set like a gem
amid the surrounding hills, they pressed on, until on the morning of the
sixth day they found themselves not far from their journey’s end.

To the west, and parallel with the last stage of their journey, the lofty
chain of the Antilibanus stretched itself, like a huge wall, northward and
southward as far as the eye could reach. Crowning all, with serene dignity
and cool and dazzling whiteness, snow‐capped Hermon formed a strange
contrast with the torrid Syrian wilderness which immediately surrounded
them.

Two hours more, and now, in the far distance, there was dimly visible the
“Eye of the East,”—beautiful Damascus. On they pressed, and it gradually
enlarged. Now its white terraced roofs and cupolas began to resolve
themselves, and assume shape and character. In what a mass of living green
was the city embowered! Behold a great wide‐stretching emerald oasis was
in front, in striking contrast with the bare brown desert, within the
confines of which they still lingered.

Soon they passed for a short distance over one of the spurs of the
Antilibanus, and could look down and follow with the eye the courses of
the long winding Pharpar and the “golden Abana,” as they transform the
wilderness, and cause it to bud and blossom like the rose. What wonderful
beauty!

By Eastern metaphor Damascus was “a handful of pearls in its goblet of
emerald.” The perennial streams from Lebanon spread into rivulets, and
gurgle and disport themselves, forming the bases for blooming gardens of
flowers and fruits—a terrestrial paradise.

Again they descended to the brown, scorched plain, and the torrid noonday
was at hand. But before the flight of another hour they would be in
Damascus, encircled and refreshed by its clear cool streams—their journey
ended.

The time since they had left Jerusalem seemed well‐nigh age‐long to the
young zealot. Deprived of the hot hunt, which for months had hardly
afforded space for a quiet thought, he was forced to think. In vain he
essayed to still the confused hum of the mechanism of his soul. To a mind
under less intense pressure, and free from a stored‐up mass of vivid
tragic pictures, the changing scenery and stirring events of the journey
would have afforded occupation. But to Saulus every hour was an hour of
agony, its slowness interminable.

The outward world of variety and beauty meant nothing to Saulus now, for
he was dwelling in a thought‐world of his own contriving. He had walled
himself around with abnormal and inhuman elements, and look which way he
might, they must stare at him, face to face.

Nearer, vastly nearer than his surrounding comrades, were the living,
barbed thoughts, which like imps of darkness peopled his mind.

On the walls and corridors of his soul were hung, high and low, moving,
burning panoramas, and gaze upon them he must. The hellish art, which he
had unwittingly moulded and upreared, thickly curtained the picturesque
hills and valleys, the grand mountains, blue seas, and flowing rivers,
which were incidental to the journey. The prods of an ox‐goad to his outer
flesh would have seemed tolerable could they have been received in
exchange for those unseen goadings which punctured his guilty
consciousness.

What subtle and often warring forces make up the mind of man! How it may
kindle, unwittingly and even conscientiously, at its own centre, hellish
flames; while the same energies, used after the divine order, will create
heavenly harmonies and immortal loves!

How prolific are thought‐activities, and how blind the world to the
related sequences which are bound to them by hooks of steel! How
untiringly the false self, in the ignorance of its own deeper nature,
forges bonds for its own inthralment!

But though unheeded, the Inner Guide is ever awaiting an opportunity to
blaze the path to freedom.

It matters not that the intangible scorpions which sting the human
consciousness have been invoked in the name and guise of religion. Their
retributive venom is not thereby lessened.

Each soul rears its own dwelling‐place, and puts in furnishings which
correspond. The objective divine order is good, and only good. Those
spectres and distortions which are called wrong, evil, and even hell,
which shrivel and blast human lives, are the creations of disorderly and
unregulated thought‐forces. The beautiful stuff from which both an inner
and outer paradise may be builded is strewn around in endless profusion.
It is mis‐direction which makes it “evil.”

Before demonstrating beauty and perfection, men make educational mistakes,
but the mockery and hollowness of failure finally drive them to the Real.

Hell is corrective rather than vindictive, a condition of mind, and not a
place. It is as possible in this realm as the next, and Saulus was there.
He was a realist, and had lived entirely from the outside. No lighter
measure of flames would have sufficed to bring him to himself, and lead
him to discover true being.

Punishment is kindly in its mission to the world. Man would fain sever
cause and effect, but God has bound them together. Had not a flame in the
soul of Saulus broken in upon his persecutions, they would not have been
arrested.

Purifying fires reduce the Counterfeit to ashes, and then man is revealed
to himself in his inmost and divine image. If evil were an objective
Reality, when would be its end? Thanks to the Universal Order, it is but a
subjective disciplinary experience, and carries within the seeds of its
own limitation and final dissolution.

Mingled with the agony which made up the weary days and nights of the
journey, Saulus had brief ecstatic upliftments and visions. Often they
would pass into short trances, when he would lose all sense of time and
surrounding, and dwell in the realm of the unseen. His violent
transitions, often accompanied by some physical epileptic symptoms, were a
source of great wonder to his companions, who were exceedingly
superstitious concerning such weird phenomena. Was he possessed at times
of good and evil spirits, or was he on the verge of lunacy?

The strange and ungovernable moods of Saulus, with their sharp
contradictions, greatly undermined his leadership, and the ardor of his
attendants was visibly dampened. A few secretly cursed the day upon which
they joined the crusade. That aforetime unfaltering hero, who with iron
will had inspired them in former days, was broken, and almost feeble.
Courage alternated with violent and foolish fears. He heard pursuers upon
his track, and saw faces and Shapes that were unshared in the experience
of his comrades. Fierce outbursts of the spirit of persecution were
followed by fits of moaning and weeping. When he came out of his trances,
he was at a loss to know whether he had been out of the body or in the
body.

It seemed as though Titanic forces within the soul of Saulus were battling
for its possession, with varying victory and defeat. What direction will
this tremendous soul‐force finally take? An Inner Spirit was expanding
which threatened to burst the bonds and standards of the outer world.
Education, religion, custom, and ceremonial obligation quivered in the
balance.

The beautiful city of the East was now in the immediate foreground. But
with all its loveliness, it stood forth as the embodiment of _continued
persecution and death_. That shaft pierced between the joints of the
soul’s armor and went home. Saulus was struck through and through by a
shock of spiritual electricity. The overstrained tension of the bond which
held him to the Old snapped under the stress of the terrible vision.(8)

The flame of the _Inner Spirit_ which so long had smouldered, burst forth,
consuming the outer shell of “wood, hay, and stubble!”

The _Voice_ which so often had struggled in vain for a hearing, echoed and
re‐echoed in tones of thunder!

There was an overshadowing _Presence_!

The _Inner Christ_ in all his beauty was photographed by flash‐light upon
the soul of Saulus!

The manger was here, and the _Christ_‐consciousness came to birth!

Like the “pure in heart,” Saulus saw God!

The stone was rolled away from the door of the sepulchre of self, and the
_Resurrection_ took place.

The tribunal of _God_ was set up at the soul‐centre, and the divine image
and likeness unveiled.

The altar of _Love_, upon which stick after stick of fuel had been added,
even though soaked by the sweat and blood of persecution, was lighted from
heaven, and burst into brightness!

The _Divine_ found another channel for manifestation in the _Human_,
making plain their intrinsic and ideal _Oneness_!

The sudden enlargement of the soul of Saulus almost rent the tenement of
clay.

Sense, time, and place were obliterated!

The PERSECUTOR was dead!

The APOSTLE had been born!



                              _PART SECOND_
                    THE LIGHT SPREADS TO THE WESTWARD.



                              CHAPTER XXII
                           SUNSHINE AND SHADOW


            “As down in the sunless retreats of the ocean
              Sweet flowers are springing no mortal can see,
            So deep in my soul the still prayer of devotion,
              Unheard by the world, rises silent to Thee.”


“What a vision of beauty!”

Such was the exclamation of Amabel, as for the first time she looked upon
the deep blue Mediterranean.

The sun was just about to hide himself below the rim of the boundless
mirror‐like expanse of water, as the newly wedded pair seated themselves
upon one of the house‐tops of Cæsarea.

Their journey from Jerusalem had been taken by easy stages, and two hours
before they had arrived at the new seaport which had been built by Herod
the Great, and named for his imperial master at Rome.

Here, where threescore years before there had been but an insignificant
fishing‐town with no harbor, now stood the imposing capital of Judea, with
a commerce of no mean proportions. Besides the spacious and pretentious
Herodian palace, there was a temple dedicated to the “divine Cæsar,” a
theatre, amphitheatre, and other public buildings, which gave it the
aspect of a metropolis. The harbor had been artificially constructed at
enormous expense by Roman skill and enterprise under Herod’s direction. He
caused immense blocks of stone to be brought from a long distance, and
sunk to the depth of twenty fathoms, forming a semi‐circular mole,
protected from the south and west, with a narrow entrance on the north,
within which ships could find secure anchorage and refuge.

The strong hand of Rome reached out in every direction during the days of
her imperial greatness, and her works, marvellous in their extent and
solidity, reached almost to the “ends of the earth.” Far outlasting the
conquests of her panoplied legions and the sweep of her civil authority,
her massive bridges, roads, harbors, palaces, and towers formed enduring
monuments of a material greatness, unique in human history. What might she
not have accomplished had not corruption, sensuality, and cruelty, like
gnawing worms, eaten out her very heart and life, leaving her a gilded
sepulchre?

Absorbed by the picturesque charm and unwonted variety of the scenery
about them, Serenus and Amabel sat for some time silent, while feasting
their souls upon its richness. Behind them, to the north and east, were
the green, wide‐stretching slopes of Mount Carmel, with vineyards and
olive‐groves, softened by a purple haze which seemed like a mystical
benediction—the parting gift of day.

The endless expanse of the great sea before them was so calm in its
unruffled peacefulness that it seemed to be sleeping upon the bosom of the
Infinite. The warm and dreamy atmosphere was laden with the perfume of
gardens, which skirted the shore and climbed the hill‐sides, while their
dark green foliage, with blossoms of many hues, was reflected with a
gentle quiver in the neighboring deeps. The inspiration of the scene
justified the feeling that God dwells with and in men, and that his Spirit
and Life shine through all material things, even though unrecognized, save
by those whose eyes have been opened to the higher and deeper vision of
the Real.

A few fishermen were lazily rowing their light craft homeward, while
others, who had already landed, were hanging their nets upon the cliffs to
dry. In the distance the shrill tones of the shepherd’s pipe calling his
flock, the varying vibrations of bird‐notes, and the hum of insects,
rounded out the delicious harmony of sound and sight. At length the sun
disappeared, and the radiant afterglow seemed to transform the sea into a
great pearl, whose ever‐changing opalescence gradually deepened as evening
drew on.

      “How beautiful is night!
    A dewy freshness fills the silent air;
  No mist obscures; nor cloud, nor speck, nor stain,
    Breaks the serene of heaven:
    In full‐orbed glory, yonder moon divine
    Rolls through the dark blue depths;
      Beneath her steady ray
      The desert circle spreads
  Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.
      How beautiful is night!”

Serenus aroused himself from deep contemplation.

“Behold, O Amabel! what we see is but an unrolled parchment inscribed with
living characters for our translation. The voice of God through his works
is even more direct than that which cometh through the mouths of
patriarchs and prophets. Saith the sweet singer of Israel,—

          ‘Day unto day uttereth speech,
  And night unto night sheweth knowledge.’”

“But, O Serenus! who is wise enough to give it interpretation? What sayest
thou of the Greeks, who worship Nature, and vainly imagine that they hear
her many voices? Are they not corrupt and deluded?”

“The Grecian pantheism is not a communion with and aspiration after God,
who is beneficent and universal, but rather an homage paid to blind,
discordant, and warring forces, which are but the reflection of the lower
and sensuous thoughts of the worshipper. The love of the beautiful in the
Greek is a wholesome element in itself, but it is concerned mainly with
appearances, rather than with the divine love which is articulated through
them. Outward forms are but shadows, and he who doth not look through and
beyond them is unable to translate their low, sweet language.”

“Canst thou teach thy willing disciple why the same Nature exalteth some,
while others find no pleasure even in scenes like this?”

“Dear Amabel! it may be likened unto a great mirror, in which one seeth
the qualities of his own thought and soul reflected. To the cruel, Nature
is pitiless, and even malignant; to the sorrowing, she is sad; and to the
joyful, a delight. Even though the base may see some comeliness in her
graceful forms, yet in spirit and character she is to every one whatsoever
he maketh her.”

“How can that be?”

“Behold, every man giveth color to things without, by the manner of his
thought concerning them. To the good, all things are good, and to the
pure, all things are pure. We gradually transform them by a transformation
in ourselves, and such an inward growth may be compassed in an orderly
manner with assurance.”

“But worldly wisdom hath not discerned this hidden path.”

“Verily it hath not! But it will be our delight to help in spreading this
truth, and to enlighten darkened minds, as effectual doors are opened unto
us. As you have learned also, the bodily tabernacle may be lifted from
vexatious conditions so that it may render reasonable and pleasing service
through the renewing of the mind.”

“Light of my life! truly the understanding of these things is above the
price of rubies!”

“Thou speakest wisely, dear Amabel! Its very nearness causeth it to be
veiled from the logic and learning of the schools. They look only with the
eyes of outward observation and are moved by ‘lo here,’ and ‘lo there,’
having no light within. The creative power of high thoughts and divine
ideals hath not been discovered by them. God in Nature is the Universal
Life, and in man, the Son and Brother,—the Christ!”

“How beautiful! Did the prophet of Nazareth teach these things?”

“Yea, verily; to him Nature was transparent. The lilies of the field and
the fowls of the air furnished him with lessons to men, and the childlike
spirit of little ones was interpreted and likened to the kingdom of
heaven. His judgment had to do with the thoughts and intents of the heart
rather than with outward appearances and observances. He saw God’s image
in himself. Other men have it in the inmost, but ignorantly cover it with
vain and delusive imaginings. They will continue to be self‐deceived so
long as they behold their bodies as themselves. They who dwell in
appearances cannot discern the Spirit. Some of the ancient prophets and
poets saw God everywhere; but of this generation, both Jew and Gentile
only feel him in special temples and synagogues, and at set times and
seasons.”

“But, O Serenus! if all forces and lives are a part of the one and
universal life of God, whence cometh tempests and lightnings and floods?”

“The lack of a spiritual self‐consciousness, and the mistaken feeling that
our seen forms are our real selves, make such things seem evil. They are
but the labor and travail of Nature, and with our spiritual growth their
terrors will disappear. At length we shall learn their laws, and make them
our willing servants. This would be so now, were we not, ignorantly,
slaves of the seen!”

“Hast thou attained unto all that thou makest known unto me?”

“No one can fully separate himself from his day and generation, even
though the spiritual pattern be truly discerned. We have not overcome, but
are overcoming. The Ideal is the inmost Real, but no one save Jesus of
Nazareth hath made it fully manifest. We press forward toward the Christly
mind as shown through him, and can count as already ours that measure of
spiritual stature which filleth our desire.”

“Whence hast thou this wisdom, which my father, the famous teacher and
Rabban, never found?”

“It cometh not through scholastic excellence and the logic of the head,
but by simple openness to the Spirit of Truth. The power of God‐likeness
groweth through the earnest desire of at‐one‐ment, rather than by a
reasoning philosophy concerning it.”

“Behold, as thy disciple, I now perceive how one may be in the seen and
yet of the unseen!”

“They are one; yet the outer is only an aspect of the living realities
which repose behind it.”

“O my dear husband and teacher!” exclaimed Amabel with delight; “Nature
will be more beautiful than ever before, because I feel its spirit, and
behold it as a visible revelation.”

“Yea, bride of my heart! Love is everywhere written in living characters!
Our deeper vision must be open to read them!”

The shadows of evening were thickening, and the happy pair reluctantly
bade adieu to their delectable vision upon the house‐top, and descended
again to mingle with their kind, and minister to human necessity.

Serenus had expected to find some vessel at Cæsarea bound directly for
Italy, which would land at Puteoli or Brundusium, from either of which
ports the journey to Rome would be made by land. But upon ascertaining
that there was no immediate prospect for such an opportunity, and that the
Salapiæ, a merchantman of good repute, was already laden for Tarsus, and
to sail on the following day, he decided to embark for the Cilician
capital. They would remain there for a time, until they were minded to
take the rest of the proposed journey.

Tarsus, being a great metropolis, the seat of important schools of
learning, and the meeting‐place of many peoples and races, might prove a
fertile field for sowing the seed of the New Faith. Amabel entered
heartily into the plan. Though the birthplace of Saulus, it was beyond the
reach of the Judean persecutions.

The Salapiæ was a Phœnician vessel, commanded by a Roman named Vivian, of
favorable reputation and experience. She was staunch and large, having a
tonnage of about eight hundred tons, and rigged after the Phœnician
pattern, with a ponderous mast carrying a very large mainsail upon a long
yard. A much smaller triangular foresail was rigged upon a bowsprit, which
projected over the stem of the vessel forward. She carried various carved
images and symbols designed to insure the favor of the gods, including a
finely wrought Grecian statue of a favorite goddess, which was placed upon
the stem‐post at the bow.

The hour for setting sail arrived, and everything betokened a prosperous
voyage. The decks were noisy with the final bustle of preparation, and
with much effort the heavy anchors were weighed and secured in their
places. A light favoring breeze was blowing from the south, and at length
a lusty command rang out to “hoist all sail;” and soon the canvas began to
fill, and the good ship drew steadily away upon her northward course.

Serenus and Amabel stood upon the upper deck, and with mingled emotions
looked back upon the picturesque shore of Samaria which was slowly
receding. Though exiles from the Holy City, the world was before them, and
they were happy. Without the enjoyment of freedom of soul, even native
land was but a prison.

The day wore away, the white towers and roofs of Cæsarea faded from sight,
and the bold range of Mount Carmel, which formed the rim of the eastern
horizon, grew dim and distant.

The voyage was pleasant and uneventful, and upon the fourth day they made
the harbor of Salamis on the eastern end of the island of Cyprus, where
vessels from the south usually touched on the way to Tarsus. This was a
large commercial city, made especially conspicuous by its important temple
of the Salaminian Jupiter. Beyond the temple and city was a rich plain,
encircled by hills, and watered by the abundant streams of Pediæus. As in
other cities where the Jews of the Dispersion had settled, there were
several synagogues. During the day, over which the Salapiæ remained,
Serenus visited two or three of them, making known the New Faith, and
restoring some sick‐folk through the orderly working of the divine power
within him. He was cordially received by the more liberal of the
Hellenistic Jews, and they were sorrowful at his departure.

Early the next morning the Salapiæ again set sail, and it was expected
that, with favoring winds, Tarsus would be reached on the third day.

Everything went well until after they had rounded the point of the
promontory of Dinaretum, at the northeastern extremity of the island, when
with almost no warning, the vessel was suddenly struck by a tempest of
great violence, throwing her nearly upon her beam‐ends. It came with so
little premonition that the sailors had barely begun to lower the great
clumsy mainsail when it was rent in twain by the force of the wind. This
eased the vessel except for a list to the leeward, caused by the shifting
of the cargo. Shrieks, cries, imprecations, and prayers to the gods were
mingled with the roar of the storm. So great was the panic that the master
found it difficult to maintain any semblance of order among a crew which
was made up of a mixture of different races and tongues.

The air was thick with blinding spray, and the stricken ship, like a
wounded animal, staggered onward, laboring and straining in the boiling
sea. Heavy waves washed the decks, and the soaking mass of shattered
canvas swung to and fro, its tattered shreds no longer resisting the wind,
which howled through them with a thunderous roar.

“By Hercules!” quoth master Vivian; “if it _must_ come, the gods were
merciful in rending the sail, else she would have foundered at the first
stroke!”

The tempest was not an “Elisian,” as certain gales from the northwest were
designated in the Levant, but blew from the southeast, from which quarter
it finally settled into a steady gale.

The immediate danger seemed to be past.

The remnants of the mainsail were gradually cleared away, and the Salapiæ
scudded before the wind, under bare poles, with the exception of the
closely reefed foresail, which somewhat steadied her. After the decks were
cleared of rubbish, all hands were put to work to right the cargo, which
was done with great difficulty. The hoarse roar of the gale continued
unbroken. It came from a little to the east of south, which was in a
direction to drive them directly toward their destination, and there was
plenty of sea room which was much in their favor. For their escape the
gods were thanked in various tongues, libations poured, and the commotion,
which had been so noisy, was quieted.

But anon a cry came up from the lower hold that the Salapiæ was leaking.
The first terrible strain of the great mainmast had opened some of the
seams, and they were taking water. Once more there was despair upon the
faces of the bravest‐hearted sailors. The gods of all grades were again
invoked, and vows renewed. But the master believed in works as well as
petitions.

“Bring out the cables!” he cried. “She must be undergirded!”

With great labor a cable was slipped down over the bow, being held from
each side, and passed under and back until it encircled the hull
amidships, and then another, and both were strained and fastened as snugly
as possible over the deck. It was a vain effort. If it prevented a further
opening, it did not stop the leak. The pumps were put in motion with
frequent relays.

Soon the eventful day came to an end, and the darkness of night closed
around them. The bellowing wind held from the same quarter with no
diminution, and the speed, even with little canvas spread, was rapid. If
the leak gained upon the pumps, the only safety lay in making Tarsus, and
therefore the small amount of sail was then increased as much as it would
bear, and the Salapiæ swept on before the wind.

Amidst all the confusion of tongues and conflict of elements, Serenus
remained calm and unmoved. Amabel was at first disturbed, but after some
reassuring words from her husband, she remained quietly in the cabin,
performing such little services for the overworked and panic‐stricken
sailors as were possible for the delicate hands of a woman. A part of the
time Serenus was at her side, and at intervals he went out upon deck to
speak words of encouragement to officers and men.

The master sent the second officer below to make reports concerning the
progress of the leak. There was intense anxiety to learn whether the
Salapiæ were settling, or if the pumps were equal to the inflow.

“Two cubita,” came up in hollow but distinct tones from below.

An hour then wearily passed, with the relay at the pumps doing their
utmost.

“Two cubita and one‐eighth!”

As the report came to his ear through a small aperture from below, the
face of Vivian lost color; but despite the news he went over to the pumps
and gave words of encouragement to the workers.

“By the Salaminian Jupiter, we shall win!” said he; and then passing
along, he ordered a part of the crew to begin at once to throw the cargo
overboard. He said nothing of the report from below, but the significance
of the last order was understood by all. Over the slippery, reeling decks
they began with a will to unload the Salapiæ.

They were still swept along with unabated speed. The few dim, moving
lanterns, like fireflies in the blackness, seemed to make the night
thicker. The shrill creaking of the pumps sounded like ominous groans of
prophetic woe as it rose above the steady, deep bellowing of the gale.

Another hour dragged itself slowly by.

“Two cubita and a quarter!”

The night had hardly begun.

Their former enemy, the wind, now gave them the most hope. But if it held,
they could not hope to reach Tarsus before the morning of the third day
from Salamis.

It was a race!

Which would win? the leak or the pumps?

The cool self‐possession of Serenus greatly impressed Vivian, and the
master, recognizing him as a man of uncommon character, confided to him
the true state of affairs.

Serenus was silent for a moment, and then replied,—

“With your leave, I would speak briefly with you again in two hours.”

“As you will,” he replied, hardly knowing what he said, and thinking the
request of little importance.

Serenus returned to the cabin, and seated himself by Amabel’s side, taking
her hand in his own.

“Bride of my heart! the Salapiæ is in some peril! Art thou repentant that
thou left thy father’s house?”

“Nay, my husband! Whatever may betide, I am joyfully with thee! But for
thee my life would have gone out before. Thou hast taught me that all
things work together for the best for such as have faith. I believe it!
Even if our _bodies_ sink in the tumultuous sea, _we_ will go on hand in
hand, on missions of love and mercy!”

“God bless thee, dear Amabel! The growth in thy spiritual consciousness
hath been marvellously quick and steadfast!”

A gentle smile and a warm pressure of his hand were her answer.

“And now, dear Amabel! I would spend a little season alone. Peradventure
some light may come to me concerning this present trial, its meaning and
conclusion.”

“Light of my life! may thou be truly exalted in the silence.”

Amabel remained in the cabin, while Serenus retired to their little room
and closed the door.

The gift to lift the curtain which veils the future, in varying degree,
has come to a rare soul, here and there, in all ages. But more properly it
is not a favor, specially bestowed from without, but a supernal attainment
_within_,—an unwonted spiritual altitude. The prophetic instinct lies
deeply embedded in the soul of man, but few there be who can strip away
the thick coverings of sense, so as to read the direction of the delicate
needle of the spiritual compass. Such a power is no miracle in the sense
of a change or improved action on the part of the Unchangeable Perfection,
but an orderly lifting of the soul into a close communion with It,—the
Divine Mind. Through spiritual law, steadfast in its regularity,—of which
the world at large has yet had but fitful glimpses,—events not only
distant, but of the future, are clearly laid open to highly attuned souls.
History, both ancient and modern, is marked with such demonstrations of
the potency of a higher law. They are crowning‐points of light, like the
few widely separated stars of great magnitude in the black firmament of
night.

There is a psychical unfoldment without its proportionate spiritual
counterpart, and there is a possible reverse order; but it is the supreme
and rounded combination of _both_ which makes the true prophet.

Such was Victor Serenus.

He was in the little room alone—no, not alone. It was his to climb the
Mount of Transfiguration, and gain a view from its summit.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The great turbulent waves broke upon the Salapiæ, making her quiver in
every timber—but he felt it not! The howling of the wind, groaning of the
hard‐pressed pumps, and a Babel of voices rent the air—but he heard them
not. The peril which threatened every soul on board steadily increased—but
he knew it not. His animate form reclined in the little room, but _he_ was
not there.

The embrace of the Infinite was about him!

                           * * * * * * * * * *

As man reckons the time of the eternal now, nearly two hours passed, when
the door opened, and Serenus made his appearance.



                              CHAPTER XXIII
                             A BATTERED EAGLE


            Has God on thee conferred
              A bodily presence mean as Paul’s,
            Yet made thee bearer of a word
              Which sleepy nations as with trumpet calls?

            O noble heart, accept
              With equal thanks the talent and disgrace;
            The marble town unwept
              Nourish thy virtue in a private place.

            Think not that unattended
              By heavenly powers thou steal’st to Solitude,
            Nor yet on earth all unbefriended.
            *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
                                                                  EMERSON.


“Behold we draw nigh to our journey’s end,” said the elder of two young
men to his companion. “The dark red summits of Sinai lift themselves in
the distance before us, and to‐morrow’s sun, peradventure, will find us in
the shadow of a great rock!”

“The God of Israel be praised!” replied his companion. “The shelter of the
mountains will gladden our hearts, and we may find water‐brooks. It is a
land of promise, and rest and peace will be ours when we leave behind this
weary desert, thrice heated by the rays of the Arabian sun!”

The first speaker aroused himself a little, and seemed to gather new
strength at the prospect. His pale face, dark sunken eyes, trembling
nerves, and evident weakness of body and limb, spoke eloquently of extreme
feebleness. Yet, as he gazed forward, a new light came into his eyes, as
if a strong soul would spur on its frame, and command it to live. It was
Saulus!(9) He was mounted upon a well‐laden camel, while his companion
walked by his side. Hardly able to keep his hold against the swaying
motion of the animal, he clung as with the grasp of desperation.

A shallow stream may easily be turned in a new direction, but to change
the course of one whose flashing current is deep and swift is a herculean
transaction. It must tear away much material—rock, soil, vegetation, and
even trees by the roots, transforming them into washed and swept
_débris_—before it can adjust itself to new banks, and scour another
channel. So a great soul of vehement force is an impetuous psychological
river, the reversal of which, if it be sudden, produces a spiritual
cataclysm.

If an eagle of powerful and sweeping wing be met in his swift course, and
drenched and battered by an opposing storm of irresistible force, he must
needs alight a while upon solid ground, and through some quiet
recuperation plume his spent and drooping pinions before again soaring
aloft.

The world has witnessed few greater transactions than the transformation
of Saulus. No material conquest, and no physical change in the face of
nature, can be compared with the reversal and resurrection of a great
mind. Well may it be called a “miracle,” if the old illogical but common
definition of the term be superseded by one that is orderly and rational.
Miracles are lawful, not lawless. They are circles, of which an important
arc is above the limited range of the ordinary observer. They are
_super_natural, in the sense of being above the material and sensuous
comprehension, but not violations or suspensions of the universal Divine
Order. The Author of all things is never disorderly in his methods.

In the psychological realm, as in the physical, while there is a
conservation of energy, there are also alternations of action and
reaction. When a great soul has “passed through fire and water,” a
condition of passivity and silence naturally follows. When the black
clouds that have been rolled together by a great tempest have dissolved,
the torrents ceased, and the thunder died away, then is sunlit nature
unwontedly calm and peaceful, even though the marks and scars of the storm
remain.

Saulus, sick at heart and wrenched in body, yearned for solitude. It was
an imperative necessity. As a stricken deer by positive instinct leaves
the herd, so he must step out from the surrounding human current. Rest,
quiet, stillness! at any sacrifice! He was like a tree which had been
pulled up by the roots. His wounds must have time to heal, and the torn
fibres and tendrils be soothed, refreshed, and readjusted. If the
foundations of a lifetime have been swept away, there must be new
excavation and bed‐rock replacement. The life of Saulus had been a
tempestuous current of destruction to the “Nazarenes.” Now _he_ was a
“Nazarene”!

He, who had been so exceeding jealous for the doctrine of Moses, would now
be counted as the enemy of Mosaism. But Moses, to his view, was
transformed. No longer the man of doctrine and ceremony, he was now the
_man of God_.

Saulus was tossed and buffeted by restless waves, though he now discerned
solid land before him. He must grasp the Immovable! He would discover GOD!
As Moses had been impelled to retire to the “land of Midian,” where the
bush glowed with a flame that did not consume, and where he had communings
with the Most High, so Saulus must follow the same path.

During the process of the evolution of the human individual, every one,
sooner or later, must go to his “land of Midian.” When the foundations of
time and sense begin to totter, the smaller unit must discover its place
in the Greater! Man will never find real contentment in a far‐away or
theoretical Deity, but he must grasp the Living GOD. He is most readily
known and felt, not among the busy haunts of men, but in the wild
solitudes of nature. Amid such an environment, light may stream forth,
mysteries be resolved, wounds healed, shelter found, and nourishment
assimilated. In the SILENCE is the fitting place for the human to bathe
and refresh itself in the Divine. At such seasons man may,—

              “Sit on the desert stone
  Like Elijah at Horeb’s cave alone;
  And a gentle voice comes through the wild,
  Like a father consoling his fretful child,
  That banishes bitterness, wrath, and fear,
  Saying, ‘Man is distant, but God is near.’”

Among all the attendants who had accompanied Saulus to Damascus, but one
remained faithful to him. Some of them thought him suddenly mad, and
others were minded to take him back to Jerusalem under arrest. Their
counsels were confused and came to naught. But Amoz, the companion of his
former disturbed nights in the Holy City, though having but little
appreciation of his great change, remained personally loyal, and was
willing to go with him for a time, even in the wilderness. He sympathized
with his infirmities, and was tender in ministration.

It was well along in the afternoon, after the midday rest, during the
terrible heat of the desert air, that the two travellers started on the
last stage of their wearisome journey. A great arid sand‐waste stretched
away on both sides of the narrow trail, with here and there a few hardy
shrubs and wiry yellow grasses which were stirred by the fitful summer
air. As they advanced towards the foothills of the mountain range, the
landscape became more broken by the numerous wadies which were worn by the
torrential mountain streams of the rainy season, and there was an
increased luxuriance of vegetation.

The Sinaitic peninsula is interesting both on account of its topographical
peculiarities, and historically in its association with the giving of the
Law, and other events which are recorded of the wanderings of the Children
of Israel in the Wilderness. Between the gulfs of Suez and Akaba, this
bold mass of mountains, lying south of the great desert of Ettyh Paran,
projects itself well into the Red Sea.

It was thoroughly apart from all the world’s highways, cities, and towns—a
veritable corner of the earth, surrounded by sea and desert. Its lofty
reddish‐brown frowning peaks looked down upon a vast solitude. They were
generally precipitous, having many fissures, hollows and caves around
their bases, forming a shelter from the heat of the sun, and convenient
even for dwelling‐places most of the year. Amid these mountains, hermits
anchorites and pilgrims found a lonely resort fitted to their desires.

As the travellers went on, the ground was more broken, the valleys deeper,
and the tangled reeds and grasses greener and more varied. The trail led
into a wide, shallow wady, the bed of which was still soft from recent
rains, and as they toiled along the slow ascent the verdure thickened. An
occasional oleander in bloom, tangles of climbing vines, scattered
mulberry‐trees, with here and there a palm, now gladdened their sight, in
marked contrast to the barren wilderness which they had left behind. They
soon found themselves among low bluffs and cliffs, with here and there a
tiny stream of clear water springing from the cracks of the fissured
rocks.

The whistle of quail and the whir of partridges, with the song of the lark
and rock‐sparrow, greeted their ears, and other birds of various hues
uttered their notes and flew away as they were startled from their reedy
coverts. Anon a sly fox or frightened jackal was seen galloping in the
distance. They had emerged from heat, bareness, and deadness into the
region of living things. The sun was declining, and the cooler air, with a
great change in the face of nature, gave Saulus some increase of strength
and hope.

At length a beseeching moan from the patient dromedary reminded them that
the end of day was near, and that the hour for encampment and rest had
come. Soon a gentle decline of dry, grassy ground was at hand. Amoz gave
the camel the signal to kneel, and then carefully supported Saulus in his
arms as he dismounted. He had little strength left, but yet his eyes,
which had been fixed and dreamy during the day, kindled at the new and
more inspiring surroundings, and the prospect of much‐needed repose. Amoz
deftly spread a soft carpet upon the grass, and tenderly placed Saulus
upon it, where he could recline while the preparations for the night’s
encampment were being made.

As the ship is to the sea, so is the camel to the desert, and his
noiseless stepping and rhythmical careening make the likeness a striking
one. The full load and equipment of the awkward brute embraced all the
endless variety of necessities for nomadic life. Boxes and bundles were
hung over his broad back and secured by straps and girths, so that
everything was snug and convenient. The harness included some color and
embellishment, the bridle being trimmed with scarlet fringe, and upon the
throat‐strap was hung a row of tiny tinkling bells, besides other
trappings, knots, and variegated ties, which made up a picturesque
combination. Pride, care, and even affection are lavished upon the
faithful beast, without whose aid life and travel in the desert would be
well‐nigh impossible.

From among the paraphernalia which formed the dromedary cargo, Amoz drew a
large circular camel’s‐hair cloth, with a bundle of rods and a light
strong pole. The frame was joined and the pole planted, and with the cloth
fastened over them, a tent, small, but ample for a person to stand upright
in, was soon constructed. This, with the grassy carpet beneath and other
accessories, formed a nomadic home quite complete for the air of Arabia.

From pouches and willow baskets Amoz brought forth materials for a meal.
There were dried and smoked meats, dates, pomegranates, wheaten wafers,
honey, cheese made from goat’s milk, and wine in skin gurglets. These,
with fresh water from a near‐by spring in the cliff, made a comfortable
repast. The camel was groomed, and given a store of water, of which, for
three days past, the desert had not afforded a drop.

The moist freshness of the air and neighboring animal and vegetal life,
with the fact that he was near his journey’s end, stirred some new life in
the veins of the sore and bruised Saulus, and for the first time in years
there seemed to be nourishment and rejoicing in his immediate environment.

The sun was slowly sinking in the western horizon, his parting beams
brilliantly lighting up the deep‐red and purplish summits and cliffs of
Sinai, which were now in near and full view. As Saulus gazed upon them
they seemed almost instinct with life and weird mystery. Especially the
towering heights of Horeb were eloquent with ancient sacred story. The
great cluster of lesser peaks stood up like gigantic living witnesses of
distant events, and brought them near. When in times gone by Saulus had
read the records of the scenes which here had transpired, they seemed dead
and formal, but now they teemed with life.

Darkness drew on, and with crowns newly silvered by the rising moon, these
great silent sentinels told anew their mute story. Was “I AM” here? He who
had led the Children through this land, who handed down the Law to them,
whose thunderings made them tremble and whose lightnings terrified them?
The Past is a part of the Present. If “I AM THAT I AM” dwelt here of old,
he is not less present now. And those great souls, Moses and Elijah, who
aforetime trod these solitudes, gazed upon these cliffs, and tabernacled
in Horeb—do they, unseen by the eye of sense, ever revisit these scenes?

Do the generations which follow each other in quick succession repeat in
endless round the same experiences, again suffer the same trials and meet
the same obstacles, or do they learn new lessons, make fresh advances, and
dwell upon higher levels? Is the ancient code of stern legality, the close
mechanical limitations of “Thou shalt not,” to be gradually set aside by
the true ideal of a positive spiritual freedom, faith, love, and good
works?

As the shades of evening thickly gathered, Saulus looked up towards the
shining firmament which testified to the infinite and unchangeable
perfection of the Divine. Surely, God and his ways can neither improve nor
grow old; but the seeming alteration in his dealings with the children of
men must be in their own varying moods and short range of vision. Here his
meditation was suddenly interrupted.

He was seized with his nightly trembling fit, with its usual accompaniment
of direful fears, forebodings, and tragic visions of the past. Every
evening brought a recurrence of these nervous spasms, which rudely broke
in upon him at the same hour, regardless of how he might be occupied. His
agony was fearful to behold. With loud groans he cried out to the living
God for forgiveness and release.

“O God, spare me! Cleanse me from this awful blood‐guiltiness! O Jesus of
Nazareth, have mercy!”

There trooped in terrible procession before his mind the forms and faces
of many innocent ones whom he had scourged and tortured. In the chill of a
cold perspiration he cried out and implored that his eyes might be closed
against a repetition of the scenes of the Holy City, but nothing could
shut them out. With contortion of face, shaking of limb, and agony of
soul, at length he sank, from thorough exhaustion into enforced quietude.
After gradually reviving and recovering, he remained free, until the next
evening again ushered in the same terrible experience.

              “A thousand fantasies
  Begin to throng into my memory,
  Of calling shapes, and beck’ning shadows dire,
  And airy tongues that syllable men’s names
  On sands and shores and desert wildernesses.”

Amoz faithfully ministered to the necessities of Saulus, tenderly soothing
him with brotherly sympathy, until long‐sought quietude settled upon the
little tent for the night.

The deep scars of sin and crime only can be healed by slow growth. The
well‐worn thought‐channels of a mind which has done violence to laws of
its own divine being cannot be filled and levelled by any sudden change of
belief or doctrinal transformation. Well would it be for the world, if
once it could be convinced that cause and effect can no more be severed
upon the psychical and spiritual planes than in the material realm. There
is no short cut or evasion in the moral economy. Nothing on earth can put
away a state of consciousness in man but the growth of a different one,
which only may gradually and lawfully displace it. It cannot be driven out
forcibly or quickly. Character is formed of thought‐habits, and their
exercise and dominance give them ever increasing rigidity. A renewing of
the mind consists of its activity projected into a higher realm. When the
leading trend of a soul is discordant with the divine order and primal
love, the outcome is sure to be a moral wrench difficult to repair.

The early morning sun again gilded the brown and deep‐red peaks of Sinai,
and Amoz was up betimes to prepare the simple morning meal, and make ready
for the remaining short journey.

The high ground upon which they had encamped afforded a wide view to the
eastward, and the sweet and moist morning air and dewy freshness made the
broad expanse seem like a newly discovered paradise. In the distance the
broad blue Gulf of Akaba reflected the golden beams of the rising orb of
day, gleaming like a great opalescent sea of pearl, while in the dim
purple distance beyond arose the misty Arabian peaks which skirt its
farther shore. The morning was a benediction, and the world seemed
peaceful and good. Nature glowed with life and cheer, and the early lights
and shadows capriciously chased each other up and down the mountain‐slopes
in unending procession. The cloud‐forms which gracefully floated over the
grim summits seemed to correspond, in their fleeting evanescence, to the
passing generations of men which these silent rock‐ribbed witnesses had
looked down upon, as if they had been a slow‐moving but endless caravan.

Is anything in the universe fixed and enduring? Yea, the immortal life of
man! He whose material existence is like the flitting cloud‐shadows
possesses a real selfhood that will expand and develop when yonder solid
peaks shall have dissolved to dust and found their lowest level.

Saulus felt new strength and inspiration from the breath and fragrance of
Nature that smiled upon him. The beautiful surroundings, or rather the
great exuberant Life which pulsated through them, seemed to warm his soul,
and cause a bursting forth of the inmost springs of his nature. The hard,
formal religiosity, which like an unyielding shell had long encased him,
was beginning to soften and gradually disintegrate before the force of the
new spiritual current in his soul.

After the morning meal was finished, and the camel had been fed, groomed,
and harnessed, the light tent was struck, and it, with the other
paraphernalia, loaded upon him, they started, Saulus riding in his place,
and Amoz walking, as was his wont. Two or three hours more and they would
be at the foot of Horeb,—their journey’s end. Why were they going there?
Amoz had often put this question to Saulus, but no response had been
offered. He did not refuse to answer from any unwillingness, but was
unable to divine any definite plan even to himself. Something seemed to
draw him. Was it blind fate? Nay! he was guided by a spiritual instinct,
strong but gentle, soft though unerring. He could not fathom it.

From the time of leaving Damascus, through all the weary days in the
terrible desert, there had been no wavering nor uncertainty. Unseen
guidance shaped the pilgrimage in every detail, mysterious even to its
chief actor. A path opened before him, and he felt drawn to follow its
devious winding. While he had a general purpose, he felt that its definite
unfoldment was provided for by that which was superior to himself. He
desired to go for a season beyond the haunts of men, and to breathe the
pure air of heaven, but the particulars were plainly none of his. Could it
be a divine guidance? He had always believed that the orderings of Jehovah
came through outward signs, thunderings and miracles. An earthquake or a
tempest might have been interpreted. But what of this still, gentle
influence within him? What could move a soul which had been the noisy
arena of warring forces and tumults? But this seemed to well up from the
very depths of his being. Could it be God?

Had a line been stretched all the way from Damascus for him to follow he
would have gone no more unerringly, but yet, mystery though it were, he
felt subject to no pressure.

How many souls have vainly sought the world over to find the Infinite,—the
Universal Good,—and have finally discovered him in their inmost nature!
They have delved through history, roamed over continents, visited holy
places, searched through creeds, scanned philosophies, sounded the depths
of ecclesiasticism, traversed the circumference of systems and
institutions, and bowed to the authority of priest and ritual, only to
discover at last the divinity of the real selfhood,—that inner light which
is set for the teaching of “every man, coming into the world.” How many
have looked high and low, and cried, “Lo here” and “Lo there,” who needed
only thorough self‐interpretation! How many inmost and potential “sons of
God,” through the misdirection of the imaging or creative faculty of soul,
have unwittingly cast their own shadows as sons of Belial, and thereby
accepted the dominance of evil! How many, through the glamour of a formal
and institutional plan of salvation, have unconsciously covered the hidden
and normal divinity of humanity! How many, through an artificial and
abnormal humility, have rated themselves as “poor miserable sinners,” and
as a natural consequence been subtly drawn, through a moral pessimism,
toward the outline of their own specification!

Two hours of early morning travel brought Saulus and Amoz to the rock‐
ribbed base of Mount Horeb. The cooling shade of trees and shrubs, the
fresh fragrant air, and the grand outlook as they came upon the still more
elevated ground at the foot of the great cliff, gave Saulus a strange
sense of detachment from the earth. He felt an unwonted spiritual
upliftment and exhilaration which was a revelation. The surrounding
sweetness, the silence, broken only by the song and twitter of an
occasional bird, descended like a healing balm upon the stained and
scarred soul of the erstwhile inquisitor.

                “No tears
  Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.”

The great “Mount of God,” firm and unchangeable, looked down with mystical
and compassionate dignity, as if to bear witness to the touch of things
eternal; to invest the soul of the observer with a divine awe, perchance
again to unroll for the instruction of Saulus the great Drama of the
Chosen People.

The narrow trail which had been followed the day before had gradually
faded out or lost itself in various disused paths which branched in
different directions, and now the twain found themselves close against the
precipitous side of the mountain.

“Verily we must turn to the right or the left,” said Amoz, “for we can go
no farther. But here is a cool and shady thicket. Let us go beneath its
shelter and rest a while.”

Guiding the camel skilfully, they threaded their way into the clump of
blossoming oleanders and mulberry‐trees, soon coming to a mass of clinging
vines which concealed the face of the great overhanging cliff in front.
Amoz helped Saulus to alight, and the faithful beast uttered a cry of joy
as he awkwardly kneeled for the removal of his load. The equipments were
soon unladen, and there was a feeling that the long, wearisome journey was
at an end. In the midst of such verdure and freshness the toilsome days in
the desert seemed only like a troublesome dream which had almost faded
out. The face of Saulus brightened, the dark rings around his eyes were
less heavy, and he felt some increase of strength.

“The mysterious Voice which speaks within me still commands, ‘Go
forward!’” said Saulus.

“But, O my brother, we are close against the Mount! How can we go
farther?”

“I know not! But still its tone is clear, ‘_Go forward!_’”

Amoz left Saulus for a moment, and carefully made his way through the
tangle, to spy out, if possible, the immediate foreground. He brushed
aside the climbing vines, and found himself face to face with the solid
rock. He was just about to turn back, when his eyes rested upon something
which had the general form of ancient Hebrew text. The lapse of ages, with
the moist atmosphere, had well nigh covered it with a luxurious growth of
velvety mosses, but he could not be mistaken.

“The hand of man hath wrought this!” he exclaimed to himself; and without
waiting to make any further examination he hurried to inform Saulus.

“Behold, O Saulus! the cliff hath been graven by the hand of man!”

“I will go with thee, and peradventure we may give it interpretation!”

As it was close at hand, Saulus, with the assistance of his companion,
found no difficulty in working his way through the vines to the
impenetrable barrier of stone. Amoz quickly cleared away the tangle, and
then stripping off the mossy hangings, an inscription stood before them in
bold, deeply engraved Hebrew characters,—

                              “GOD IS HERE.”

Saulus and Amoz instinctively removed their sandals, and bowed their faces
to the ground. They felt a Presence surrounding them. The place was holy
ground. The very trees, vines, and leaves seemed to breathe forth a
fragrant benediction. To the inner eye they glowed with brightness and
were not consumed. After a season of silent adoration they arose and
reverently made further examination. They found other carvings and
symbols, mystical in form, which they were unable to interpret.

“Of a surety, the Voice which guided us hither is none other than the
Voice of God!” said Saulus. “In the fulness of time it will make
everything plain!” he continued with confidence.

“Yea, I also am persuaded that thy footsteps have been divinely led to the
Holy Mount. Here we will tabernacle until thou hast recovered thy
strength.”

“I am already stronger! The Voice will guide and help me! Behold, I have
found God!”

His eye kindled with a new light, and his features were suffused with an
unwonted vigor and life. He trembled, not with the fulness of fear, as in
the nightly spasms, but with a thrill of joy.

O wondrous mountain! O wondrous world that pulsates with the breath of
God! O mystery of mysteries! God meets men face to face!

Reverently brushing back more of the tangle, and carefully removing the
velvety covering, they beheld another inscription,—

                     “GOD IS ETERNAL LOVE AND LIFE.”

Saulus was lifted to the supremacy and sublimity of a new, triumphant
faith. He felt the sweet certainty of something nobler and purer than he
had ever conceived; a gladness that nestled in his heart, making it warm
and tranquil. He had no favor to ask or petition to make of the Divinity
which embraced him, for his soul was filled—satisfied. There was no lack.
Enswathed in the Eternal Presence, he could crave no more.

Every branch and twig and leaf seemed to be tipped with a lambent,
gleaming light which shone upon him. The whole Vision smiled, and the
Voice gave him a welcome, until with bated breath and throbbing heart he
had a sense of leaving the body, and rising and being encircled by a
golden aureole.

With eyes upturned, the bodily form of Saulus sank quietly back until he
lay stretched upon the soft, mossy couch beneath him. The seen world faded
out amidst the uprearing of a transcendent ecstasy.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Amoz sat by his side, wondering at the experiences of the great soul which
he had seen so variously possessed. A smile played upon the upturned face
of Saulus as he lay, calm and unconscious, in the cooling shade. Was there
a prophetic gleam of future power and glory? Was there some dim foretaste
of an Apostolic energy, which should reach, not merely one race, but
possess a moulding influence upon the world? Had he been carried up in a
Chariot of Fire to an altitude where he could look out over the Future,
and rapturously behold the activity of unseen forces and intelligences,
through whose final triumph the kingdom of universal love and harmony—that
at‐one‐ment of the Divine and Human—is to be ushered in?

                           * * * * * * * * * *

At length Saulus opened his eyes and sat upright. He said nothing of the
Vision, for it was unspeakable.

Hand in hand Saulus and Amoz stood up and drew nearer to the great rocky
Breast, which reached almost perpendicularly far up beyond the range of
their vision. Again they essayed to decipher and interpret the mysterious
signs and symbols which were clustered about the plain sentences already
read, but in vain.

Then they noticed a peculiar series of small characters, which extended to
the right, behind the tangle. Following its lead, and carefully clearing
away the vines and leaves which covered its farther course, there was soon
revealed a great cleft in the rock. It seemed to lead directly into the
heart of mighty Horeb, and was broad enough to admit a laden camel. A
light, cool breeze was issuing from within, and the entrance was smooth,
dry, and inviting.

With an eager and expectant air the two young Hebrews entered side by
side, and were soon beyond the light of the outer world.



                              CHAPTER XXIV
                        ON THE VERGE OF THE UNSEEN


                        “In the room
            Of this grief‐shadowed present, there shall be
            A Present in whose reign no grief shall gnaw
            The heart, and never shall a tender tie
            Be broken; in whose reign the eternal Change
            That waits on growth and action shall proceed
            With everlasting Concord hand in hand.”


The commander of the Salapiæ anxiously paced the dark, slippery deck,
occasionally halting to encourage the sailors, or direct in the movement
of some heavy piece of the cargo which was to be cast overboard, to
lighten, so far as possible, the stricken ship. The shrill creaking of the
pumps, as they were unceasingly worked in the prevailing darkness, sounded
as might the sighs and moans of malignant fiends, who were derisively
gloating over the rich prey of which they already felt sure.

Another signal from below caught the quick ear of Vivian, and he proceeded
to the small tube which led down to the hold, and bending over he heard in
sepulchral tones,—

“Two cubita and a half!”

“The gods be merciful!” he exclaimed to himself. “Nothing less than their
interposition can save us!”

The hoarse vibrations of the surrounding tempest were mingled with its
shriller tones produced by its hissing sweep through the shattered spars
and rigging, all combining, like the different instruments in a great
orchestra, to render a grand minor symphony of Woe and Despair.

By great exertion they were able to raise a little more canvas, as the
only hope lay in making Tarsus, or some other port on the Cilician coast,
toward which the wind was sweeping them. Though much more distant than
Salamis, which they had left behind, there was no choice. They could go
only where they were driven. The gods were invoked and libations poured,
that the gale, which at first had brought them disaster, might continue.
Could they make Tarsus before the Salapiæ would fill and go to the bottom?

The panic and confusion which had prevailed among the crew of many races
gradually subsided, and a grim desperation settled down upon all. Each
worked with a dogged, sullen intensity, as though the fate of all depended
upon his own persistency of effort.

To actually face death sometimes seems to inspire a kind of stolid
indifference. Even to the ignorant and worldly man the vital fact comes
home that it can come but once, and that, after all, the peculiar time and
means of the most universal of all human experiences are not so very
important. The divine economy of the human constitution is such that when
the great Fact looms up in the near foreground, there is often an unwonted
serenity and confidence that are lacking in lesser trials, or even in its
own more distant anticipation.

Deep down beneath the perturbed and noisy surface of human consciousness
there is an inherent and instinctive faith in, and recognition of, the
righteousness and even beneficence of that which Is and Must Be. Only a
merciful Providence could have provided that the life‐long fear of meeting
the “King of Terrors” should measurably fade out upon his near approach.

Whatever may betide, every man feels, in the profound recesses of his
heart, that he will be justly dealt with, and that the natural penalty for
his misdeeds should not be shunned, and that perhaps in some way it is
well that it should come. The artificial, dogmatic, and superficial
elements drop away, and a divinely implanted subconscious sense of
universal equity, and even love, finally comes to the surface and makes
itself felt.

Man feels that he is to be fairly weighed, and will inevitably find his
own moral and spiritual specific gravity. The universe is so ordered that
he will invariably measure himself, for it is best that he should. He that
is condemned is self‐condemned. True, he regrets his own manifold
mistakes, selfishness, and sensuous degradation. Their penalties will
surely scarify him, and make up his beneficent hell, through which he must
pass, either here or hereafter, in order to purification. Metals are only
purged of their dross by being cast into the crucible.

Salvation must be the result of free moral character, and that must grow
from within, for it cannot be imposed. This fundamental principle
underlies all surface religions, dogmatisms, and systems.

The Salapiæ plunged dizzily onward. Amid the swash of waves upon the deck,
and the swinging to and fro of the tattered remnants of sails which kept
time to her staggering rhythm, a few dim, moving lanterns, like fitful
fireflies, were all that could be discerned.

Vivian never lost courage and composure, though he recognized that the
race between the leak and Tarsus included only a bare possibility of
reaching the latter, the probabilities being an hundred‐fold in favor of
the former.

It was past midnight when Serenus emerged from the little cabin where he
had been in the silence—with the Universal. His mien was calm and
confident, and his face radiant with a sense of inner reserve and
spiritual upliftment. He first sought Amabel, who was patiently awaiting
him. There was no trace of care on her beautiful face, and she greeted him
with a warm embrace.

“Is it well, my husband?”

“It is well, Light of my life! We shall be brought safely through this
trial, and it will prove a blessing to many. While I am persuaded of the
result, I wot not in what manner the escape will come.”

“Is the sea cruel and treacherous, or does the trial come for our sifting
and testing?”

“The sea is good, even though it now seem contrary. Trials come in the
ordinary course of things, and seeming adversity is the ‘Adversary’ which
appears so that we may grow through the process of overcoming him. Satan
is the Tester, or negative Developer, of man. But for trials and
obstacles, life would become stagnant and unprofitable for lack of
exercise. Behold, the glory of the latter end of Job was the result of an
experience in which the Adversary had an important office.”

“But surely such a trial as this tempest is not a thing to be sought?”

“Nay, verily! We are not to go into temptation, or seek for trial! Only
such testing as comes from beyond our control can minister to our
discipline and profit. Having faithfully followed our highest inward
guidance, everything that comes will, in some way, be transformed into
blessing.”

“O my beloved! I feel that what you say is true, but yet it seemeth to be
a great mystery. Hark! behold the tempest hath a sound like the roaring of
lions!”

“Hast thou forgotten the record of Daniel? His uplifting faith closed the
mouths of the lions of his day! These will be closed also! Behold it is
our inner and secret enemies that are most besetting. It is not the angry
roar of the tempest that threatens, but the still, hidden leak. But
deliverance from both will come! Yea, we may exclaim, not God be merciful,
but God is merciful!”

“I believe it! How glorious!”

“I rejoice that thou dost not doubt. But go now and rest, while I seek the
master of the ship.”

“Go, for God is with thee!”

With much effort Serenus lifted the cover of a small hatchway, and passed
out upon the dark, storm‐swept deck. The violent pitching, noise, and
blackness were forbidding; and had he not been free from the bondage of
appearances, he would have quailed at the prospect. At length he found
Vivian, who was much surprised.

“How camest thou here?” said the master. But before Serenus had time to
answer, he continued,—

“But now I am minded of thy purpose to see me again. Thou art welcome, and
I count thee to be discreet; but before I hearken to thy message, I must
tell thee that unless a miracle take place, the Salapiæ will go down, and
all on board perish!”

Serenus was silent for a moment, and Vivian continued,—

“I must leave thee straightway, until once more I make inquiry concerning
the water in the hold! But soon I will return.”

He left Serenus clinging to one of the smaller masts, and slowly made his
way to the speaking‐tube to get another report. In response to his signal,
hollow tones full of direful prophecy came up,—

“Three cubita full!”

The pumps were doing their utmost, and the master fully realized that the
contest was hopeless. But he was brave.

Heroes are not the exclusive product of any one time, race, or religion.

He said nothing to the crew of the increasing peril, but with cheerful
tones encouraged their efforts. Skilfully guiding his course to the place
where Serenus was waiting, he said,—

“O Hebrew! though thou art young, I am persuaded of thy wisdom. Speak now,
and I will listen to thy message.”

The darkness was so dense that neither could behold more than the dim
outlines of the other’s form, and the noise made conversation impossible
except as their faces were almost together. Each put his hand upon the
shoulder of the other, while they steadied themselves by the mast. But
both were as serene as if they were basking in the summer sunshine upon a
favored shore.

“The Salapiæ will be lost, but every soul on board will be safely landed
in Tarsus!” said Serenus.

“Thou speakest in no uncertain tone, O wise young Hebrew! Whence hast thou
this knowledge?”

“O noble and brave Roman! only by the fulfilment of my prophecy can its
truth be proven to thee. I ask thee not to believe, and am well persuaded
that thou wilt abate no effort for salvation because of my assurance. Nay,
I would have thee use the utmost diligence; for man must employ all the
means, and fully co‐operate with God in working out his own salvation.”

“Hast thou inquired of the God of the Hebrews and received this favoring
answer from him?”

“My vision of the future cometh not from the special God of any race or
tribe, but through the power which the universal Divine Spirit, that
ruleth the world and all its elements, hath conferred upon man to read and
interpret his laws.”

Vivian, though a man of much worldly wisdom, but dimly understood the
meaning of Serenus, but yet deeply felt the superiority of the man who
stood face to face with him. There was a positive spiritual influence and
hope which came from contact with the young man which he could not divine.

“Wilt thou not acquaint me more fully of thy power? How canst thou read
the fate of the Salapiæ, and that none on board of her shall perish,
except that thy God hath given thee some visible token? And if thou hast
received a sign, surely thou mayst show it me and reveal its significance.
I would fain believe it, yet how can I be assured?”

“Thou art well skilled in the sailing of ships, and I will not question
thy wisdom in thine own calling; but in a way of which I cannot tell thee,
and which thou thinkest not of, every soul on board will come safely to
Tarsus!”

“The gods grant that thy words may come to pass, but thou hast offered me
no sign. I would that I had inquired of the oracle in the great temple of
the Salaminian Jupiter. But thou dost count thy God greater than Jupiter?”

“Yea, he is the God above all gods! He is the All in All! His laws and
methods are orderly and universal! His wisdom and love are already
perfect, and we need not importune him to change his plans. We approach
him, not by vain oblation or libation, but by communion and oneness of
spirit. We lift ourselves into harmony with his beneficent and eternal
order. Even the laws which produce wind and wave are good, but to narrow
and perverted human vision they often appear evil.”

“But surely thou wilt tell me more of thy prophecy, and by what means thou
didst receive the message?”

“Behold I was about to acquaint thee with that! The divine wisdom hath
placed within the nature of all men certain prophetic spiritual instincts,
but they are yet latent, except in a few souls who have been inwardly
illumined. Favored in my lot and experience, some of this inner clear‐
sightedness hath come to me. At certain times and seasons it enableth me
to behold that which is commonly invisible, and also, not only to foretell
some events of the future, but verily to see them. This power cometh not
by any special and miraculous bestowment, but through an inward unfolding,
and an understanding of the law of inspiration. Thou hast the same power
in thyself, but it hath not yet been awakened. Thou wouldst know how I, or
rather the spirit that is within me, is assured of our safety! I answer,
that though it hath not yet come to pass, yet in my retiracy this night _I
have seen every one safe in Tarsus_!”(10)

The master of the Salapiæ was attentive and interested, but not convinced.
But the earnest sincerity and indefinable charm of the young man’s
presence almost persuaded him against his will.

The Roman and Hebrew stood in brotherly embrace amidst the roar and
darkness, but one represented the seen and sensuous, and the other the
unseen and real. Man, to the first, was only a visible and animated form;
to the second, he was a spiritual entity, even though now possessing
material form and expression. To one, when he sank beneath the waves, it
was his end; to the other, the _man_ was intact. To the latter, the
sinking, at the worst, could be but an unmoral incident; not an evil, as
that term conveys ethical quality. Drowning could neither take away from,
nor add to, the real man or his character. The loss of one mode of
expression does not touch the ego.

“What counsel dost thou offer me?” inquired Vivian.

“In the conduct of the ship, none! Abate not one jot of the labor at the
pumps, and diligently employ all thy skill and watchfulness in the use of
other means which thou deemest wise. My converse with thee is that of man
and brother, but as master of the Salapiæ none can question thee.”

“Behold thou hast great charity and a loving spirit!” exclaimed Vivian. “I
have heard many of thy race revile us as outcasts and idolaters, while
they called themselves the chosen of heaven.”

“Thou art my brother, even though thou understandest not my faith, and we
are all sons of the Most High God.”

“Verily such a saying mine ears never before have heard! Thou dost me too
much honor! With all my diligence to please the gods, I have always
counted myself as a man subject to error and passion!”

“While thou hast made many mistakes, and hast much to learn, thou art
inmostly a child of Goodness; and as thou dost come to thy veritable self,
thou wilt discover thine own likeness to the Divine Father!”

“Surely thou art more than a Hebrew, for thy religion is noble! Deeply
hast thou persuaded me!”

“Think no more of thyself as a man who is in subjection to evil; for it
hath been truly written, that ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’
The thought of one concerning himself fills and shapes his inner life.
Feel thyself to be a son of God, and such a consciousness will renew and
purify thy soul. Behold, the world knoweth not this law! The old self with
its deeds will drop away, while the new man will be formed within, and his
outward works will answer to the inner thought‐ideal. Thus the visible
expression will be the index of the pattern that is held in the heart!”

“I marvel at such a doctrine, and yet feel its truth. Hath any man yet
filled to the full the divine measure of which thou hast spoken?”

“Yea, there hath been a Man of Nazareth, of Judea, born a Hebrew, who
recognized the perfect human divinity. He is the Ideal, not only for his
own nation, but for all the world, whether Greek, Roman, Jew, barbarian,
or Scythian! He knew the inmost oneness of God and man, because he knew
himself as he was.”

“Where is he now? How I would like to see him!”

“Because he was so large in his love, he was hated and crucified by his
own people,—my people,—and passed into the unseen.”

In answer to many more questions, Serenus then gave Vivian a brief account
of Jesus, the Christ, his mission, and the quality of his life. The twain,
amid the hissing of the elements and the groaning of the pumps, stood in
the thick darkness, with their arms affectionately around each other in
brotherly communion.

“Thou hast touched me deeply,” said Vivian. “I love thy spirit, and
rejoice that we have met! I thank thee that thou hast brought me a
knowledge of the Ideal,—the Nazarene; so noble, so large, and so beyond
race and outward condition! He will fill an uninterpreted longing of my
whole life. I shall think of him even during our peril. Behold thou hast
made me feel that there is something in us, of which the tempest, at its
worst, cannot rob us. Would that I could have seen the Ideal!”

“Thou mayst do even more, for thou canst feel his spirit within thee!”

“I have it, and it shall possess me!”

Vivian expressed a tender and earnest thankfulness, and they parted long
after midnight.

The next morning brought no occasion for hope. The water in the hold
steadily increased, and the gale showed little abatement. In every
direction there was nothing but an endless gray waste of boiling waves,
which seemed hungry and impatient to swallow up the stricken ship. The
weary hours of the second day dragged along with interminable slowness,
and the impenetrable gloom of outward conditions had no ray to lighten it.
The strain and fatigue brought such a torpor of stolid indifference upon
the crew, that to some death would have been almost welcome. Desperate but
wholly unsuccessful attempts were made to draw down some remnants of sail
upon the outside to lessen the inflow, but the water in the hold gained
with fateful certainty.

As the day finally wore away, the force of the tempest slowly lessened,
making their progress less rapid. Even at the present rate, it would be
impossible to reach Tarsus before the middle of the following day, and a
careful survey made it a matter of great doubt whether or not the Salapiæ
could float until the next daybreak.

The master again called Serenus upon deck, giving him an affectionate
greeting.

“O my brother! unless peradventure a miracle be wrought, I can discern no
manner of means for the fulfilment of thy prophecy! I wot not how the
Salapiæ in any wise can reach the desired haven. But while I cannot descry
the end of thy good message, I have joy in thinking of the Ideal, and of
feeling an earnest of the same spirit within.”

“I rejoice with thee that thou dost recognize the living Witness!”

“But O most worthy brother and prophet! peradventure we be saved from this
present peril, some other expedience will yet bring us to our end. How
sayest thou?”

“There is no end! If my prophecy prove vain, and we sink in the depths of
the sea, behold that spirit which is within us, and which _we are_, hath
continuance.”

“It seemeth to be a great mystery!”

“Behold thou hast a body, but art not body! Thou art spirit even now. If
thy seen form dissolve, thou wilt still live, even though in the
invisible! Thou wilt see, but not with these eyes; thou wilt hear and
feel, but not with these members; yea, thou wilt think and know and love!”

“I have heard of shades beyond the Styx, but counted them to be only
shadows. Dost thou affirm that they are verily ourselves?”

“Yea! of a surety! When thou goest out of thy tent or house, art thou not
the same? Behold the unseen country is all about us, and peopled with
those who have laid off the flesh. As our garments wax old and are laid
aside for those more befitting, so are we clothed with such bodies as
belong to the place of our sojourn.”

“Unto what canst thou liken them?”

“Our habitations beyond the Styx, as thou sayest, are such as we are now
building by our thoughts, desires, and loves. Even though unseen, we are
uprearing and putting them on day by day.”

“In what manner art thou persuaded of these things?”

“The Voice within giveth its testimony concerning them, and moreover,
those that are yonder have sent back messages. It cometh to pass also that
certain who are still with us have their inner sight opened, so that those
who are invisible become manifest. If thou wouldst know of that whereof I
speak, open thy soul and become like a little child, and the silent voice
within will yield some growing assurance.”

“I believe that I already hear its still, sweet utterance! Unto this day
it hath been asleep, but thou hast aroused it, and it will live!”

“Thou givest good tidings! behold the spirit of the Christ—the son of
God—in thee is coming into manifestation!”

“O thou greater than a Hebrew! thou hast discovered me to myself. I
joyfully accept thy teaching and prophecy, for of a truth thou hast a
wisdom beyond that of earth!”

The master of the Salapiæ always had been brave and manly, but now there
was a light in his eye and a joy in his heart which was unwonted, even
when no peril threatened. It was not so much the words which Serenus had
spoken, but the spirit and love which filled him, and which he radiated,
that had taken hold of the Roman.

The gloom of another night was gathering, and the Salapiæ was visibly
deeper in the sea. But as the blackness closed around the sinking ship,
there was no more joyful soul on board than Vivian. Amidst all the stress
and danger his greatest wonder was himself.

Down, and still lower down, the helpless wreck heaved and plunged heavily
during the second night. Would daylight ever come?

                           * * * * * * * * * *

At last the morning dawned, and they were still afloat. The storm had
ceased, and the sun arose clear and bright from the eastern sea. The wind
which had driven them so strongly towards Tarsus had entirely died away,
and a light breeze was coming from the opposite direction. They were able
to hoist more sail, but being obliged to tack, the progress of the water‐
logged ship became hardly perceptible.

Tarsus was now not very distant, but every soul on board clearly saw that
the Salapiæ never could reach the wished‐for port. Slowly, but with grim
certainty, the water in the hold deepened, and direful Fate, with cruel
footsteps, was silently approaching.

The faith of Serenus and Amabel never wavered. Even that of Vivian was
firm and confident. But he neglected no feasible effort that belonged to
his calling, and made all possible preparations for what seemed to be
immediately impending. The ship’s boats had been swept away during the
first assault of the storm, but with all diligence two rafts had been
hurriedly constructed of such materials as were at hand, and some
provisions and gurglets of water and wine lashed to them. But the waves
were still high, and would wash over them if they were launched.

While there were no cries of confusion, as upon the first day of the
storm, petitions were being offered, and vows made in various tongues to
gods of different names.

The human mind at its greatest can grasp but an infinitesimal fraction of
the Infinite, but it always has a deific ideal which fills its utmost
capacity. No two ever possess quite the same, but to the individual it is
the highest, and all there is. To it he must cry, and upon it he must stay
himself, for he cannot go beyond.

But the Infinite dwells in every man’s ideal, however low. It is the link,
unseen and perchance crude, which draws and binds him to the Eternal
Goodness. Let us respect the supreme pattern of every human brother,
though he be ignorant, simple, theologically untaught, or even vile. For
_him_ it must stand until a greater and purer takes its place. The
“Father’s House,” even though provisional and unshapely, is hidden within
the deep mists of every human soul.

But look! The city of Tarsus, with its white roofs and gilded towers, is
now dimly visible in the far distance.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The day was perfect. As if in repentance of her past angry mood, Nature
arrayed herself in her most beautiful robes. The air was of crystalline
clearness, and not a cloud specked the blue azure above. During the
morning hours the sea gradually calmed down, and the reflected sunlight
gleamed and danced upon the crest of every billow with sparkling
brilliancy. From the Salapiæ the vast expanse seemed to be the embodiment
of Treachery outwardly dressed in living Beauty. With cruel spirit, but
seductive charm, it was stealthily waiting to take mortals into its cold
embrace forever.

The ship could not possibly last until midday. The adverse breeze
freshened, and her labored progress almost ceased.

But look again! A speck appears upon the water near Tarsus, and it slowly,
oh, how slowly, grows larger. It was described as some kind of a ship
under full sail, and under the favoring breeze it was soon evident that
her approach was rapid. She was a fast sailer, and the style of her
rigging was that of a pleasure _bireme_ rather than a merchantman. The
freshening breeze rendered her oars unnecessary. Every one except those at
the pumps strained his eyes in that direction.

Hope kindled in every breast, and hearts beat quickly.

  “Oh, welcome, pure‐ey’d Faith, white‐handed Hope,
  Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings!”

The strange craft was of graceful model, and with every sail set her sharp
prow cut the waves as she moved like a graceful bird in rapid flight; and
yet how slowly the distance seemed to diminish! But new hope was new life!
The men at the pumps received an endowment of herculean strength. Signals
of distress were hoisted and responded to, and the beautiful ship steered
directly for them.

The Salapiæ was now so low that she might go down at any moment. It was
like a race in the games of Olympia, where the runners were full abreast
as they neared the goal.

Now the strange sea‐bird flies rapidly! See! she is rounding and coming
alongside! What a beautiful spectacle, and how graceful her approach! She
is built for pleasure and racing.

The rail and trimmings about her deck were brilliant with burnished metal,
and her prow was surmounted with the graceful bronze statue of a Tarsian
goddess. Upon her peak floated a silvery purple banner, heavily wrought
with golden figures, representing various emblems and symbols in the
Temple of Apollo. All her splendid appointments indicated that she must be
owned by some one of patrician rank and great wealth. She came near. The
name of the pleasure ship was discerned as the Nereid.

“We will save you!” cried the master in a loud voice. “Behold our boats!
They will take off every one!”

Before Vivian had time to express his gratitude, the small boats were
already lowered, and in a short time every one on the Salapiæ was safely
transferred to the gayly decked _bireme_. All were most hospitably
received, and their necessities kindly ministered unto.

Vivian told the commander of himself, and of the Salapiæ, and made known
Serenus and Amabel as his honored friends. The master of the pleasure ship
then indicated his desire to present them to the owner, whom he said was a
Roman of noble family, and Vice Legate of Tarsus. They had chosen the fine
morning for a pleasure excursion.

Descending a short flight of stairs, Vivian, Serenus, and Amabel were
ushered into a cabin of goodly size, at the farther end of which were two
men sitting at a table, evidently engaged in playing some kind of a
friendly game. One was tall and straight, with long black hair, heavy
eyebrows and lashes, and full beard, of dignified bearing, and features of
the Roman cast. The other was rather slight and effeminate in personal
appearance, with wavy brown hair, dark blue eyes, luxurious in costume,
and an air of polish and refinement. The first was the Roman, Marcius, and
the other Leander the Greek.(11) After a brief exchange of polite
greetings and congratulations, they all ascended to the deck to ascertain
the fate of the Salapiæ. They were none too soon; for in a moment, with a
great surge, she was received into the full embrace of the hungry sea, the
billows closing over her forever.



                               CHAPTER XXV
                           A PSYCHICAL JOURNEY


            “How small of all that human hearts endure,
            That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!
            Still to ourselves in every place consigned,
            Our own felicity we make or find.
            With secret course, which no loud storms annoy,
            Glides the smooth current of an inner joy.”


Saulus and Amoz advancing into the cave found it dry and capacious, and
also well lighted for some distance from the entrance. A long‐continued
cleft upward in the face of the rock freely admitted the outer air and
daylight, and also sunlight at certain hours. The walls on either side
gave evidence of previous human habitation, being marked with various
inscriptions, symbolic characters, and drawings. In the deeper recesses
the darkness increased, and various intricate passage‐ways opened into
curious ramifications and apartments of indefinite extent. The temperature
was comfortable, and the atmosphere pleasant.

“Behold a favored habitation already prepared for us!” said Amoz. “The
wisdom of the Voice is now made manifest!”

“Yea, of a surety it hath guided us to this place, and here we will
abide!”

Amoz returned for the camel, and soon led him to the entrance, where he
was unladen, and after a little delay a convenient place in the cave was
selected for him. Before the shades of evening fell everything was well
arranged for a stay of indefinite length.

The silence and seclusion seemed delightful, and even paradisaical to the
restless and depressed soul of Saulus. The world, with its unending
strifes and jealousies, its warring creeds and religious persecutions, and
all the surge and sweat of human passion, was far away.

Often, above all things, man needs a face‐to‐face interview with his real
self, in order that he may interpret the hidden springs of his own being,
sound the intricate deeps of his primal nature, study ideals, and survey
foundations. A life devoted entirely to the Objective, even if its ends be
worthy, lacks an understanding of those subjective mental and spiritual
reservoirs which is indispensable to harmonious development.

No one can avoid companionship. But objective personalities supply but a
small part of the innate craving for intimate good cheer and friendliness.
Whether or not consciously chosen, the ego must have a supremely close
communion with its own thought‐forms,—its veritable creations. As a
duplicate selfhood it is firmly linked to them. If man must carry this
secondary man with him, what sort of a character shall he be? His fellow‐
men, with whom he daily mingles, though seemingly near, are infinitely
distant when compared with his own self‐made mental environment,—his real
world.

Every man is like an artist who is sentenced to dwell with his own
pictures, so hung that they continually stare him in the face. But
especially when from choice or necessity one for a season turns aside from
his accustomed Objective, he finds intimate relationship with his
subjective structures of the past. He is forced to a careful inspection of
his own stored‐up images, and it is woeful if they frown upon him. All the
hates, envies, and antagonisms that he has ever projected are turned in
upon himself. They surround and threaten him, and their growls are
disquieting. He thought they had been sent away, but their accumulated
recoil was only postponed.

On the other hand, all the loves, harmonies, and hopes that have been sent
out, now possibly forgotten, rise up out of the misty deep and send back a
smile, and return affection with added interest. They are lived over
again.

  “Music, when soft voices die,
  Vibrates in the memory.”

Heavens and hells are stored up in the chambers of the soul, and if
perchance diversion for a time may seem to bury them, their resurrection
and visitation surely follow in due course.

But as Saulus looked in upon himself, he found that he could increasingly
choose and control those things that should mentally dwell with him. With
all his cruel impetuosity of the past, his life had not been devoid of
good thoughts and deeds, and these he struggled to keep in review. But
vastly greater than all else, when the dark Past marshalled itself before
him, he turned to the Present God. How unlike was the God he found in
Horeb to the tribal Deity he had served in the Holy City! The difference
was in his own vision.

Often he would sit for hours with eyes closed and body relaxed, in silent
communion with the felt Presence. At such times he realized a positive
influx of sweetness and strength from the Universal, which thrilled him in
mind and body.

The crust of his former hardness was breaking up, and his soul was growing
childlike and plastic. The rigid dogmatism and intolerance in him, which
for so long had been impenetrable to the Spirit of Truth, were dissolving,
and love and wisdom were opened up, as water from a fountain whose seal
had been newly unloosed.

Saulus marvelled as much at the seeming change in his God as in the
transformation in himself. That Deity who had rejoiced in persecution, and
been angry and jealous, was now the Author of love, peace, and concord. It
was clear that his former concept of God had been but a telescopic
likeness of himself.

The cave at Horeb proved to be a most agreeable place of abode, and Saulus
found in his seclusion some of the happiest days of his life. Though the
evening experiences of weakness and trembling seemed to have become a
fixed habit, and scars and strains in soul and body were present as the
legacy of the past, there was a gradual gain of vigor. The expanding soul
was coming into a knowledge of its intrinsic divinity and oneness with the
Father, and this reflected and expressed a growing wholeness.

Amoz, with the camel, made some explorations in the adjacent region; and
about two hours distant, at a crossing of some of the more important
paths, he found a small station of a few huts, where supplies could be
replenished, and occasional communication had with the outside world.

But what was the world of the past to Saulus? It seemed as if he was
severed from everything that had gone before, and had built a new world
for himself. His own transformation was vastly greater than the change
from the Holy City to the cave. But he had no intention of becoming a
hermit. He would, for a time, gather his resources, and firmly knit the
sinews of his soul, in preparation for future conquests for the truth
among men. The mistakes and enmities of the past he would bury beneath a
mountain of love and good‐will which should brighten the world.

But what of past personal ties and obligations? First of all, what of
little Cassia? What of his ardent affection and faithful promises to her?
Was his love, which formerly was so consuming, yet alive and burning
brightly? Did she stand out in lifelike proportions in his new world, or
had her image largely faded out of his heart? What had she heard of him?
and what would she think?

There were hours when these and similar questions thrust themselves upon
Saulus with terrible force. The intense and all‐absorbing love of Cassia,
her unbounded confidence in him, and his former rapt devotion to her in
return, stood out before him in letters of fire.

One evening his period of suffering, which he had already named “a stake
in the flesh,” left him in a strange condition of unrest and uncertainty.
The thought of Cassia filled him with something like its old‐time
intensity. Questions crowded themselves upon him, and clamored for an
answer. But while the little maiden of the Sheepmarket still occupied a
very warm place in his heart, with it was mingled a peculiar sense of
ever‐widening distance.

He put himself on the witness‐stand,—

“Am I not a different Saulus from he who aforetime loved Cassia, and to
whom she was so devoted?”

“Has this new and larger love driven out my affection, or only for a time
overshadowed it?”

“Is she really fair and good, or did I deceive myself?”

“Can my love ever again be so all‐absorbing?”

Yes and no were both echoed as responses through the troubled mind of
Saulus. Opposing emotions marshalled themselves, and in confusing
alternation took possession of him. For a little time he forgot the cave
and all its associations in the fierce play of the contending forces.

But as the hours of the eventful evening wore away, the thought of Cassia
gained the ascendency. The very inscriptions of ancient lore upon the
walls seemed to melt into her name, and yield a fragrance of her
personality.

At length a peculiar quietude slowly settled upon him, but he felt that it
was not sleep. An unwonted lightness of soul and an ethereal consciousness
subtly crept in and possessed his senses. The solid walls of the cave
became unsteady, as if about to dissolve, but there was such a charming
naturalness in the change that it did not much surprise him.

“Surely I am not dreaming!”

“Of a verity, I believe that I am out of the body!”

“What lightness! what freedom!”

Soon he found himself standing beside his own prostrate form. He clearly
looked down upon the features—_his_ features! The eyes were lightly
closed, the lips slightly parted, and the breast rose and fell but feebly
with the movement of the breath. Otherwise the body was still.

“What a mystery!”

“Have I died?”

“No! that cannot be, for I—no, not I, for _I_ am here—but my body yonder
is manifestly animate. How easily _I_ can move!”

All feeling of strangeness soon wore off. Simply from force of desire he
rose in the air for a short distance, and looked down upon his material
counterpart as one would view a sleeping comrade. What wonderful liberty
and power before unknown! No wings were needed to move through the air as
he might choose.

Amoz, wide awake, was sitting quietly near the dim lamp, but saw nothing
unusual, believing that Saulus was asleep. Though the little lamp gave but
a feeble light, the cave, to Saulus, seemed filled with a soft but
brilliant illumination. Considering the unwonted powers and resources at
his command, he was surprised at his own lack of surprise. His senses were
extended and sublimated to a wonderful degree. He then tried to attract
the attention of Amoz, but received no recognition. Not to be baffled, he
took hold of him, and finally shouted in his ear, but with no effect.

Then Saulus began to wonder. He could see and hear, but not be seen or
heard. He moved about the cave and made some further exploration, and
found that the solid walls were no obstruction. They were not solid. He
could not only see through them, but pass through.

Then the thought of Cassia, which had been so strongly present before,
again became uppermost. But something of the same uncertainty within
himself regarding her still remained.

Realizing that desire was all that was now needed for propulsion, he came
to a sudden determination.

“I will go up to the Holy City, and once more behold Cassia, and all the
things that I left behind.”

With the speed of thought, he left his own body, Amoz, and the cave behind
him, and passed out from the mountain over the desert, and on, on,
unerringly, by the power of simple volition. Space and time were
limitations of the past.

How “cabbin’d, cribb’d, and confined” is man when weighted down with the
little load of dust which he has picked up, moulded, and for a brief
season carried about! To him chasms of time and space are wide and
unbridgable, and he travels his little round with barriers on every hand,
and an ever‐present sense of servitude.

But it is not the grosser body _per se_ which is so much his real
encumbrance as his false consciousness concerning it. He is steeped in a
prevailing and ever‐ruling materialism. He is enslaved because he is
ignorant of the laws of his own independence. He not only lives in the
thought that it—the body—is I, but also bows in subjection to those ever‐
varying conditions, which with chameleon‐like accuracy shadow forth, in
exact expression, the quality of his past composite of thought. The
consciousness which he has carelessly or ignorantly taken on, both
racially and individually, makes it his tyrannical master. Sometimes,
smarting under its rule, he has turned and denounced it as bad, and hence
a gloomy and destructive asceticism. This is no less a mistake than a
garish and overwrought materialism.

Everything is useful, and everything _good_, when not misplaced. Evil is
therefore not made up of the real quality of things, but of their
misplacement in the mind of man. But the very misplacement is educative.
So rapidly as the human mentality through evolutionary friction is
rectified, the whole cosmos falls into line. Then the nothingness of evil,
as an entity, will be made manifest. At present it is the name of a
condition of relativity.

Psychical experiences, unshackled by the supposed necessary limitations of
body in past ages, having been exceptional, have been counted as
supernatural, abnormal, or only imaginary. The present age, with its
scientific spirit, its broad toleration, and its recognition of the reign
of law in every realm, increasingly finds that they are merely subtle
links or aspects of the Universal Order. When their causation is traced,
their normality observed, and their utility understood, the weirdness and
seeming abnormity which have been put upon them will be removed from the
human lens, and the true place and use of uncommon phenomena become
evident. So long as they are regarded as strange, uncanny, or in some
degree unsound in scope or tendency, they are made gratuitously harmful
through the quality of thought concerning them.

With desert and mountain left behind in his flight, Saulus found himself
at the portal of the Sheepgate of the Holy City, ready to enter.(12)

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The city lamps flickered here and there, the gates were still open, and
the throng passing in and out as was wont. The shifting panorama of people
of various races, dialects, and costumes, pouring through the massive
arched portal with the general din and confusion, were all so familiar,
that Saulus almost forgot himself in the midst of an environment so long
habituated. He stood for a few moments in a retired corner, striving to
recall the strange thread of his eventful past, and then joined the
current which was entering the city. His sense of ethereal lightness
continued, and he walked by mere easy desire without effort. Quickening
his pace, he accidentally came in sharp contact with a Roman guard who had
charge of the gate, and who was rapidly going in the opposite direction to
order it closed for the night. He involuntarily stopped to apologize, but
was momentarily surprised to find himself utterly unrecognized. Then,
halting for a moment, he surveyed his own bodily proportions, and they
seemed as usual. But anon a sense of his newly recognized powers flashed
upon him, and he passed on without further hindrance or obstacle.

What security and immunity!

He could see and hear everything, but did not attract attention, and could
not if he would. Following the well‐worn thoroughfare, he soon came to the
inn, and turned and entered. He passed by Almon, who with some companions
were in the courtway, and continued to the family apartment, but seeing
nothing of Cassia he ascended to the roof, thinking that she might be in
her wonted corner. The moon was shining brightly, and every well‐known
object stood out in bold relief, but Cassia was not there. Then he
bethought himself that she was presumably in her own apartment. He hurried
down the stairway, where every step was like an old acquaintance, and
coming to the entrance, easily passed in without any movement of the
closed door.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Cassia was seated upon a low divan, and near by, upon a small table, stood
a lamp which had burned out for lack of oil. But, as in the cave, a
strange soft light made everything clear to Saulus.

Her lithe, shapely form was wrapped in the ample folds of an easy
_négligé_ robe, and her long tresses fell behind in careless profusion
over her comely white neck. She sat with one hand pressed against her
childlike face, which was paler than was wont, her elbow resting upon the
small table at her side. Her downcast eyes were swollen and red from
weeping, her heart beating quickly, and a long‐drawn sigh escaped from her
lips as Saulus entered. He was distressed by her changed appearance. The
happy smile which formerly played upon her delicate features had been
replaced by a sorrowful, drawn expression, and the erstwhile full ripe red
lips, so carelessly parted, were pale and compressed.

“How changed! Is this really you, Cassia dear?”

He seated himself by her side, and taking her hand in his, pressed it to
his lips, and then, with a reverent air, gave her a kiss upon the
forehead. She felt it not. Then he gazed into her eyes, hoping in vain
that once again there might be reflected some image of himself.

Her manner was abstracted, and soon, with deep emotion, she began talking
to herself,—

“O my Saulus! Where art thou? and what evil hath befallen thee? Behold thy
Cassia weeps for thee and cannot be comforted. Shall I mourn thee as
dead?”

Saulus listened in agony, but could not make his presence known. Every
word cut him to the heart.

“I will not believe the tidings that have come to me. Some say that thou
hast become a lunatic, and some that thou wast smitten by the sun and
died, and others that thou hast joined the hated Nazarenes. Peradventure
they are all lies! O Saulus! I am persuaded that thou art still faithful.
I wot not but that thou art sick or in peril! O Saulus! why dost thou not
return?”

Then she arose and paced to and fro in the little apartment, and Saulus
beseechingly followed her. She spoke once more,—

“O my loved one! I feel almost that thou art here! Something like thy
sweet breath came upon my cheek! Nay! my imagination doth deceive me!”

Then she sat down and buried her face in her hands, and burst into fresh
weeping.

Saulus could endure the scene no longer. Thrilled and overwhelmed, he
withdrew in like manner as he had entered. In the effort to calm himself
he visited some of the other apartments.

After satisfying himself that his father, mother, and Rebecca were no
longer in the Holy City, he again ascended to the roof and sat down, if
possible to quiet his distress. Soon he grew more peaceful. He looked up
into the starry firmament, far above the local and temporary scenes of
turmoil and disappointment, and stillness came into his soul. The
intensity of that which had been near and present was merged into a living
sense of the broad, the Real, and the Universal. The personal affection
which had been so narrowly centred, was submerged in a love that was all‐
embracing.

With a tranquil feeling of strength and inclination, and without any
conscious passage of time, he found himself again in the cave at Horeb,
and everything as he had left it. He sought his quiet, prostrate form,
with which he had all the while been connected by an invisible spiritual
cord, and with a quick but indescribable pang repossessed his corporeal
frame, opened his eyes, and sat upright.



                              CHAPTER XXVI
                         A POWERFUL PULSE STIRRED


               Truth, when stripped of the masks and stains that have been
            unwittingly put upon her, hath a fair countenance, and all who
            behold her inner beauty thus revealed, have a drawing in their
                                                       hearts towards her.


The blue sparkling waves closed over the grave of the Salapiæ with no sigh
of repentance, their sportive play having suffered but a moment of
interruption. Tears filled the eyes of Vivian as she disappeared, but soon
he regained his wonted composure. From long‐continued intimacy she had
seemed almost a living thing, and he had regard for every plank and spar
which pertained to her. Now she was gone forever.

But mingled with the sense of loss there was a great joy, not only on
account of the assured safety of every soul which had been under his care,
but that the prophecy, for its own sake and that of Serenus, had been so
signally verified. He hailed it as a positive sign and confirmation of the
wisdom of his friend, and still more of the power of the New Faith which
had been awakened within him. To his belief was added demonstration.

The weather being fine, the little group, at the invitation of Marcius,
were seated under a canopy upon the upper deck of the Nereid, while
refreshments were being prepared for them below. The graceful galley, with
a favoring breeze and every sail set, was now speeding along towards
Tarsus.

“The gods be thanked that I sought the sea to‐day,” said Marcius.

“Verily we are thankful, and fully persuaded both of the wisdom and
goodness of thy choice,” replied Vivian.

“By Pallas! it doth seem strange! I had already directed the oarsmen to
make ready the small barge for an excursion up the Cydnus, and was almost
in readiness to depart. But a mysterious impulse seized me to change the
plan, and to order the Nereid to be manned for a day’s cruise instead.
Something well nigh like a voice importuned me to ‘put out to sea,’ and I
obeyed.”

“A truce to thy superstition,” said Leander. “Thou art always eager for
mystery, and unable to believe thy senses. I rejoice in thine altered
purpose, and that through it our friends can continue their sea voyage,
instead of taking a rough one over the Styx; but verily, thy fancy hath
become unruly.”

“O faithless Greek! thou believest nothing! Thou shouldst deny that the
wind ever bloweth because thou canst not see its color and shape! I am
persuaded that oracular voices are not alone in temples. Peradventure the
gods whispered to me!”

Leander shrugged his shoulders, and good‐humoredly smiled, with a derisive
air.

“Shades of Pluto! only children and women believe the unbelievable!”

Marcius was undisturbed by the reckless sarcasm of his friend, and calmly
continued,—

“He who limits his belief to the testimony of the senses is a fool, and
only lightly skims the surface of life. What sayest thou, Master Vivian?”

The flight of years had wrought an important change both in the character
and social position of Marcius, but the improvement in Leander was much
more superficial.

The mysterious meeting face to face with Alethea in the _adytum_ of the
Temple proved to be an important event in the experience and pursuits of
the Roman. After the weird night of that notable judgment and warning,
which through beautiful but terribly earnest lips were wafted from the
realm of the Unseen, he had become a man of higher ideals. Though fond of
races, athletics, and sports in general, the overt vices of former years
fell away, and he grew thoughtful, reserved, and even kindly in his
disposition. Being of patrician lineage, and possessing excellent native
ability as well as great wealth, he had, by the imperial edict of the
Emperor Tiberius, recently been appointed Vice Legate of Tarsus and its
outlying provinces, so that he was now next in rank to the Roman governor.
After the reign of Tiberius he was continued in the same position by
Gaius, and still afterwards by Claudius.

While he formally continued such outward devotion to the Roman and Tarsian
deities as was customary in Tarsus, there had grown to be a depth and
seriousness in his life which was unwonted for the period, and far removed
from the grossness of his earlier years. Though having but a dim
appreciation of true spiritual attainment, yet the corrupt and sensuous
worship of the time became increasingly unsatisfying. He openly avowed to
his friends that to his certain knowledge human life was unbroken by the
dark passage of the Styx, and that character and consciousness continued.
Aside, however, from a light round of official duties, his time was
largely given to wholesome amusements. But this did not prevent some
irregular study of Greek lore, and a little familiarity with the higher
ancient philosophy.

Although Leander was now outwardly respectable,—as the term went in
Tarsus,—there was a growing distance between the two friends which was
plain to both. Marcius permitted the continuance of some intimacy because
of former friendship, and also that his influence might be helpful to the
volatile Greek.

Vivian gave his unqualified assent to the question of Marcius, and added,—

“O my lord! my good friend Serenus hath much wisdom concerning the
philosophy of life, present and future, and hath taught me to my great
profit.”

Marcius cast an inquiring but rather incredulous look upon the young
Hebrew, and observed,—

“I am glad that thou art a philosopher! I have many questionings which
disquiet me. Peradventure we may reason together with profit. Pardon my
inquiry, art thou a Greek?”

The question was natural, as Serenus showed but little of the distinctive
Hebrew physiognomy, and especially as philosophical inquiry and
speculation were more common among the Greeks than any other nation.
However, his fair and almost youthful appearance had little in common with
the usual characteristics of a typical sage.

“I am a Hebrew, though a native of Alexandria,” replied Serenus modestly.

Marcius showed a little surprise; for his contact with the Hebrews of
Tarsus had made them seem abhorrent and bigoted, and the supposition that
an Israelite could be different was new. His sly, sarcastic look of
unbelief expressed as plainly as words could have uttered,—

“A philosophical Hebrew! A curiosity indeed!”

But quickly suppressing any appearance of disrespect, and noting the noble
and manly bearing of Serenus, he politely continued,—

“Pardon me! I have in no wise much knowledge of your people, but have had
the feeling that their philosophy, and religion also, consisted of a
foolish round of ceremonialism, and that their devotion is paid to one
poor and exclusive tribal deity. And have they not an exceeding contempt
for all other religions and peoples?”

With dignified calmness Serenus replied,—

“Thou judgest not unrighteously, my lord Marcius. I would that it were
altogether different.”

Marcius was pleased with the serene manliness of Serenus, and turning to
Vivian remarked,—

“Of all Hebrews, thy friend is the only one whom I have ever known in
whose eyes everything peculiar to his own people did not seem wholly
righteous.”

“Though born a Hebrew, I am persuaded that he discerneth the inner
goodness of all men,” replied Vivian.

“If he showeth that kind of a spirit, I shall be glad to listen, even if I
do not believe his teaching! Where, O Serenus! hath thy doctrines been
taught, and in what school hast thou found thy philosophy?”

“In my early youth I was a pupil of Philo of Alexandria, and afterwards
sat at the feet of the Rabban Gamaliel at Jerusalem. But with all due
honor to them, more hath come to me that pertaineth not to the schools.”

“From whence, then, is thy learning?”

“In worldly wisdom, science, and the Jewish law, I am beholden to their
teaching; but there remaineth a higher knowledge, the inner working of
which they but feebly discern. It hath to do with the life of man, now and
hereafter, and the cultivation of his spiritual forces.”

“I feel a concern touching these things, and would fain know more of life
and destiny. Peradventure some profit may come to me through thy wisdom.”

“I trow thou art not fully content with the teaching of the sages!
Doubtless thou art well versed in the philosophies of Pythagoras,
Socrates, Plato, and Epicurus?”

“I boast not myself of a deep understanding of their doctrines; but at
seasons when my sports have become wearisome, I have felt some inner
craving which I have sought to satisfy with their wisdom. But I confess to
thee that they have not fully ministered to my need.”

“Wherein lieth thy discontent, O my lord Marcius?”

“In my earlier years I counted myself an Epicurean; but it hath become
manifest that the doctrine of Epicurus hath lost its purity in the lives
and doings of its professed disciples. But I am persuaded that it hath
error from the beginning. Aforetime an experience in the _adytum_ of the
Temple at Tarsus showed me that death doth not end all, as hath been
taught. Since then I have earnestly desired the full truth.”

“Thou speakest wisely. The Epicurean philosophy contained some measure of
truth, but the disbelief of life after the grave is a deadly error.”

“Of that I am truly convinced. But what dost thou think of pleasure?
Epicurus taught that it was the chief end of life, but that it could only
be attained through a rational and prudent wisdom.”

“In other words, that excesses defeated the very thing sought!”

“Yea, verily; but his followers have put this out of mind.”

“Pleasure that cometh from righteousness is well, but that which seemeth
to come from slavery to the lower self, in due time bringeth forth a
harvest of self‐destruction!”

“I have had manifold witness of what thou sayest.”

“But there is a pleasure that endureth which cometh from conformity to the
higher law. Behold the spirit of that law may be summed up in love to all
men.”

Leander took no interest in the converse, and pleading some excuse,
retired to the cabin below, where he could read poetry or recite tragedy
in his own dramatic manner undisturbed. But Marcius, having an innate
fondness for philosophical and metaphysical speculations, was greatly
interested.

Amabel withdrew for rest to an apartment which had been specially assigned
to her; and as the Nereid sped on towards Tarsus, Marcius, Vivian, and
Serenus continued their familiar conversation.

“What thinkest thou, O Serenus! of the seeming voice which turned me from
the Cydnus to the sea? As it hath come to pass, had I not heeded it, every
soul on the Salapiæ would have gone down with her. Was it a whisper of one
of the gods?”

“The answer to thy question hath within it that which to all peoples and
religions is a great mystery. But the strangeness hath only been in their
perception. Peradventure it may seem an offence unto thy religion if I
speak freely unto thee.”

“Nay, I am pleased to listen; for I perceive that thou hast regard to the
truth, as thou believest, without prejudice.”

“I also perceive that thou, Lord Marcius, art a Roman of honor and
fairness of judgment. But to thy question. Be not surprised when I assure
thee that there is but one God, and not gods many!”

Marcius was momentarily impatient. There was a sternness in his large
black eyes which boded controversy and disagreement. But bethinking
himself of the respect due his guest, and of his own earnest request for
an answer, he quietly observed,—

“Pardon me; but I was minded from Vivian’s testimony concerning thy broad
philosophy, that thou didst no longer devote thyself to the leanness of
the single tribal god of thy people. Behold how much more free and
abundant is homage to all the gods!”

“Thou sayest well that the Hebrew ideal of God is narrow, mean, and
selfish! He is not great enough to regard any but themselves! With all
their sincerity, they worship a false god. But the gods of the Greeks and
Romans are also false. They have the same passions, weaknesses, and
changeableness that belong to men; they are but magnified images of their
worshippers!”

Marcius was so struck by the truth of the statement that he uttered no
protest, and Serenus continued,—

“The one true God is supreme over all. Through his perfect economy he
ordereth all nations and tribes, yea, and everything seen and unseen. He
loveth all, for he is Love. He is the eternal and omnipresent Spirit, who
hath no local habitation, for he filleth all space. In him we have our
breath and life, for he is the source of all being. We, being his
children, and made in his image, are spirits, as he is Spirit, even while
wearing fleshly garments.”

Marcius was silent, and listened with rapt attention.

“The Father of all things hath everything orderly in his dealings with the
world and the children of men. He hath from the beginning ordained powers
and laws which are unchangeably perfect in their operation; and man, by
acquainting himself with their methods and beneficent regularity, may
command their ministry. Through an understanding of them he may even grow
to be Godlike. Behold, man reckoneth himself to be a creature of the dust
and of short duration; and by an inner law which he knoweth not of he hath
completely filled the measure of his thought. It is an unchangeable,
divine behest, that man grows into the likeness of what he believes he
_is_. Behold, the Greeks and Romans desire good in their worship, but in
their craving to discern God,—the Unseen,—they have, in low degree,
personified his laws and forces to their hurt. Hence many gods of many
names! They have mistakenly tried to bring God down to their level,
instead of lifting their thought towards him—the Perfect and Unchangeable.
This is because their minds are fixed wholly upon the things that are
seen, and therefore they count their bodies to be themselves.”

Marcius was visibly moved.

“Thou hast faithfully drawn my likeness. I had always believed that the
body, or rather the head, which is a part of it, did the thinking, until
the vision of Alethea. Then I perceived that thinking was possible without
a seen body. I was beholden to believe what I saw, but knew not how it
could be.”

“Of a verity, it is the real self that thinks and knows; the body being
only its instrument of manifestation. Can a harp play of itself, without a
harper?”

“Thine interpretation is good! And now, as thou hast set forth the gods of
the Greeks and Romans, tell me more fully of the God of the Hebrews.
Surely they worship not such an one as thou hast commended?”

“The Hebrew is right in his belief of One; but his small and selfish ideal
concerning him hath brought forth the natural fruit of uncharitableness,
pride, and hollow ceremony. But I unlovingly condemn neither Roman, Greek,
nor Jew. Things that are imperfect satisfy not, and therefore finally work
out that which is higher. Because men believe their inner nature to be of
the seen instead of spiritual, they become carnal in the dim light of such
a standpoint, which is fixed among outward and deceptive appearances. The
knowledge of their inner being, and that they are the offspring of, and
one with, the Spirit, which is All in All, is not theirs, because they
look downward. But all the children of men are slowly feeling their way
towards God; and through the teaching of manifold tribulations will
finally behold the Father’s goodness, which will draw all to him. Could
they be persuaded that they are spirits now, no longer mistaking their
bodies for themselves, like the lilies, they would grow naturally towards
beauty and perfection. Love would drive out hatred, and inner spiritual
harmony replace the prevailing lower consciousness.”

“By Pallas,—pardon the force of habit,—thy philosophy is both reasonable
and well‐pleasing! Behold, while it is new to mine ears, something
within—peradventure the voice of the morning—seems almost to testify to
its truth. But thou hast not yet interpreted the utterance which led me to
turn from the Cydnus to the sea. It seemeth marvellous that, while it
guided me, I felt that I freely chose the cruise.”

“That which I have spoken may help in the understanding of the voice. The
mind of man is so subtly wrought that it hath many hidden forces which
commonly remain latent, and of the usefulness of which men are ignorant.
We may be likened to children with playthings in their hands, in which are
wrapped up signs and wonders. The dominion of soul or mind extendeth to
the ends of the earth, and is in no wise limited to the bodily members.
The Universal Spirit, though not regarded in man’s thoughts, often
speaketh to his inner nature. Like uttereth itself to like, and spirit to
spirit. Of a verity, it never ceaseth its whisperings to every inner ear
that is open. But few there be that listen. Peradventure in some way thou
art being prepared to be a listener. I am persuaded, therefore, that this
day, before the third hour, thou didst have a touch, in thine inmost soul,
of the peril of the Salapiæ, and a prompting of thy free will to come to
her relief. That which seemeth a mystery may be childlike and plain when
its orderly working is made known. Thou mightest also have been moved—like
as by a flash—by the outgoing of our own thought, which is a divine
operation put into our own hands for ministry and service to one another.”

“Then thou dost not count the voice as marvellous?”

“Peradventure a miracle to thee, because it seemeth strange in thine eyes;
but no more wonderful in itself than that the goodly Nereid is wafted
along by the air of heaven.”

The theologies of all the ages have uniformly held in disregard that which
has been termed “naturalism.” But it seems pertinent to inquire where its
boundary lines can be drawn, and, in fact, if it does not include
everything, both material and spiritual. If these terms were employed
simply to designate an orderly lower and higher in the established
economy, as they sometimes are, their usefulness would be obvious. But
they have been set in antithesis, one seeming to imply the divine and
orderly course of all sequence, and the other that economy broken into or
superseded. Can the perfect and unchangeable God contradict himself? Is
the spiritual realm less amenable to uniform method in the relation of
cause and effect than its external and material counterpart?

Just in proportion that the normality of the summits of moral and
spiritual attainment is presented, they are made attractive to the human
mind and consciousness. In the very nature of things, “supernaturalism,”
which savors of the unnatural and abnormal, fails to commend itself to the
highest reason. In some degree it is repellent. As human ignorance,
superstition, and irrational assumption are left behind, the hearts of men
go out after an orderly Deity. They turn towards him as naturally as
flowers open themselves to the sun. The book of nature contains a
symmetrical revelation of God, and there is nothing common nor unclean.
There is no “secular,” for all is sacred. Everything has been consecrated
without the intervention of the puny rites of man.

A lawful chain of sequences is as surely found in the soul as in chemistry
or physics. When the orderly beauty of individual spiritual unfoldment is
seen by man, be he high or low, ignorant or learned, bond or free, black
or white, Roman or Greek, pagan or Christian, his heart throbs, and his
desire warms towards the upward path which opens before him.

The announcement came up from below that refreshments were served, and
Marcius gracefully escorted his guests to the faultless repast. In the
beauty of every detail, the triclinium of the house of a Roman senator
could hardly have excelled the private dining‐apartment of the Nereid.
With artistic gracefulness flowers and perfumes were mingled with dainty
viands. The highly polished floor, which was tinted with minium, exhaled a
delicate, rose‐like odor. Four serving‐boys, in white robes of bissus,
entered while the guests were standing, and placed upon each corner of the
table a small tutelary statue, or Lar, and after all were reclining,
reverently raised an amphora of wine above their heads, exclaiming in
concert, “May the gods favor us!” Marcius seemed unconscious of any
ostentation, nothing being unusual. His guests were quite at ease. Choice
old Falernian and other wines were offered, but declined, and with the
true instinct of a host, Marcius partook very sparingly of them himself.

The conversation turned upon the recent storm, the experiences of the
Salapiæ, Tarsian life, the latest news from Rome, and other current
topics.

When the meal was ended they again ascended to the upper deck. With every
stitch of canvas drawing the fresh breeze, and every spar bending
gracefully with the pressure, the Nereid skimmed rapidly over the waves,
and erelong the separate towers and roofs of Tarsus began to resolve
themselves out of the broadening gray‐and‐white mass. The white sails of
the ships of many nations also dotted the harbor in the distance.

As soon as the little group were again seated, Marcius expressed his
desire to know yet more fully of the opinions and doctrines of Serenus.

“Thy philosophy seemeth so reasonable and pleasing that I would fain
listen to thee further. The worship of Jupiter, Hercules, and all the gods
of Rome and Tarsus hath not given me full satisfaction, and their former
purity hath become degenerated. But I would have none of the Hebrew
austerity and stiff ceremonialism. I have beheld their gall‐and‐wormwood
faces in Tarsus, and their sackcloth and ashes, self‐conceit and ugly
circumcision, disgust me. But thou art no Hebrew! If thou wert born to
them, thou art not of them, for thou beholdest good in all men.”

“I perceive that of a verity thou dost desire the truth,” replied Serenus.
“Whosoever seeketh it for its own sake will come more and more into its
light, and wax strong in its strength. Nothing less can break the shackles
of superstition and bigotry, whether of Hebrew, Greek, or Roman
fashioning, and set men free. Only he who seeth some good—yea, some
Godlikeness—in all hath his eyes open to behold the oneness and allness of
Truth, which includeth concord and love, and which is yet to be the great
religion of the children of men. The self‐sufficient and vain‐glorious
devotees of the many cults and theologies each believe themselves alone to
be righteous; for their outward gaze is fastened upon the most evil and
unreal aspects of all systems besides their own.”

“Thinkest thou that I have misjudged the Hebrew? Behold I have seen those
things of which I have spoken in the very streets of Tarsus.”

“I doubt not the outward appearances which thou hast witnessed; but even
in those hollow and ostentatious ceremonials there may be an inner good
intent. All men are blindly feeling after God,—the chief Good; but they
often lose themselves in the by‐paths of external authority and
unreasoning belief. Men have the utterance of the Spirit of Truth in their
inmost being, but they fail to interpret its drawing, because they are
listening to a confused chorus of voices outside. Behold the divine law,
or the perfect guide, for the thought and conduct of men hath not been
fully set forth by seers and philosophers, inscribed in creeds or voiced
by oracles, neither hath the Israelitish Decalogue, which was engraven
upon tables of stone, entirely contained it. But in man’s being, or real
nature, it is written in living characters,—letters of fire.”

“Then if one be wayward and disobedient, he offendeth not so much external
codes, as the laws and principles of his own constitution.”

“Thou couldst not have declared the truth more perfectly! There is a
divine image, or Son of God, in man. He may be known as the Anointed One,
or Christ, within. But commonly he remaineth unmanifested.”

“By Hercules!—pass over the custom,—that seemeth to be a hard saying.
Sayest thou that the ignorant, the base, and all men have this Anointed
One, the Son, hidden within the depths of their being?”

“Yea; it is the very corner‐stone of their nature, though they know it
not. They think and feel that all men—themselves included—are corrupt in
their being, because the troubled waves upon the surface of their every‐
day consciousness are evil and rebellious. Therefore they yield themselves
to the dominion of appearances, and become slaves to the seen, and to
those things which their own thoughts have created, and their own sensuous
faculties upreared.”

“O wise young Hebrew!—nay, more than Hebrew! thy philosophy, as thou
settest it forth, carrieth conviction, and seemeth worthy of confidence.
It satisfieth my questionings far more perfectly than anything I have
found in Greek or Roman lore. But I fain would know if any one among all
the sons of men hath fully brought the Son, the Anointed One—or Christ, as
thou hast called him—into real and perfect outward manifestation? Behold
is not this the great need in order that men may have their inmost quality
made visible? Thinkest thou that such an Inner made Outer will ever appear
among the children of men?”

“HE HATH APPEARED ALREADY!”

The intense interest which had made Marcius almost oblivious to their
rapid progress seemed to reach a climax. His strong, dark features lighted
up with an unwonted curiosity; but at that moment there was a commotion
around them, for they had arrived at the landing where they were to
disembark.

“Behold thy converse hath touched my very heart, and I pray thee that I
may hear further of this matter. Do thou and thy wife purpose to abide in
Tarsus?”

“Peradventure for a season, though we have set our faces towards Rome.”

“I bid you welcome to my palace. Mine is thine. Pray abide under my roof
during your sojourn.”

“Thou dost honor us with great kindness; but we are wonted to little pomp,
and thy hospitality seemeth too generous.”

“Thou dost deserve honor for thy great goodness and learning; but if thou
dost so desire, thy abiding‐place shall, withal, be humble, and thou shalt
be free from obligation.”

Serenus accepted the hearty invitation, and with Amabel prepared to leave
the Nereid and become guests of Marcius. Vivian also was warmly welcomed
to the special friendship of the Vice Legate, and was assured of the
pleasure which his visits to the palace would afford.

By the order of Marcius the rescued sailors of the Salapiæ were to be
abundantly ministered unto so long as their necessities remained.

Leander, while outwardly gracious to the new‐found friends of Marcius,
could hardly conceal his jealousy towards them; for their converse had
disquieted him, and his own society and games had been superseded.

The state carriage, or chariot, of Marcius, with three gayly caparisoned
horses of choice breed, harnessed abreast, was awaiting him when the
Nereid landed; and soon the Vice Legate, with his friends, including
Leander, were rolling rapidly over the well‐worn flags towards the palace.
The luxurious equipage, with the richly adorned charioteer and footmen,
the clatter of the hoofs of the noble steeds, and the musical jingle of
silver chain traces, drew the attention of every one in the streets while
they passed by. As they dashed rapidly through the business quarter, a
young woman, seemingly a Jewess, no longer in the early flush of youth,
but of remarkable beauty, was just emerging from one of the bazaars, where
she had been to make some trifling purchases.

It was Rebecca!

Casting an involuntary glance upwards, the face of Marcius—that face
forever carved upon the tablet of memory—was directly before her. A quick
shiver shot through her frame, but in the twinkling of an eye her glance
took in another face just behind. Barely suppressing the impulse to speak
aloud, she exclaimed to herself,—

“My friend of the Holy City! and with THAT ROMAN!”



                              CHAPTER XXVII
                         A MESSAGE FROM STEPHANOS


Every incident of the journey to the Holy City was fresh and vivid to
Saulus, and he felt persuaded that it was no dream. Amoz observed his
quick uprising, which astonished him, because but a short time had passed
since he had been soothed and quieted after his wonted evening plaint.

The next day Saulus wrote the following letter:—



                                               “_Marcheshvan, VIIIth day._
“IN A CAVE AT HOREB,
“WILDERNESS OF SINAI.

“O my dear Cassia!

“Things have befallen me which will seem strange to thee! I have been led
by the God which is above all gods, who speaketh to me from the stillness
within, into a new and higher way that I knew not. Behold thou wilt have
exceeding contempt for me when thou knowest that I have become a follower
of the Nazarene, and am filled with great sorrow at my former persecution
of his followers. I have deep repentance for my manifold unrighteous
deeds, even though I thought to do service to the God of Israel. Through a
leading that I would not resist I have journeyed into the wilderness, away
from the habitations of men, that I might commune with a Greater than the
God known by our nation, and receive inspiration from him. Here I am
patiently adding strength to strength, that in the fulness of time I may
go forth to proclaim liberty to all who are bound, whether through
subjection to the flesh, or under the galling yoke of the ceremonial law.
I feel a renewing in my mind, and have an unwonted joy in the freedom and
purity of the New Faith. Behold it satisfieth every desire of the heart,
and cometh as a healing balm to my former restless hatred and false
righteousness. I delight in the true God, for he is over all men,—Abiding
Love,—and no longer the jealous leader of one people.

“O Cassia, well beloved! my soul’s earnest longing is that thou also might
have regard to this truth, for its value is above rubies! Wilt thou not
open thy heart to its sweet spirit? My love waxeth strong towards thee,
but I am constrained to make known everything concerning myself. Thou
freely gavest me the love of thy heart and thy steadfast promise of
faithfulness, but perchance thou wilt not regard me as the same Saulus
that possessed thy warm affection. But with all humility I am persuaded
that my present state is not to be compared with the former time, when I
was given over to angry disputations, yea, and fiery persecutions, which
are among the base things that I forever have put behind me.

“In the place of hatred for all but the straitest sect of the Chosen
People, I now exercise love towards all men. Dost thou not see, O my
Cassia! that we were altogether fettered in our doctrine; for a Godly
religion aboundeth in peace, joy, and good‐will. If thy soul yet yearneth
with affection towards thy lover, I pray thee that it may go out even more
strongly in the favor of this great and living Faith!

“Behold we were altogether mistaken about the evil intent of the followers
of the Nazarene! Through false report and a perverted mind we believed
these children of the Light to be idolaters and unclean. But verily, they
have a ministry of goodly service and longsuffering.

“It is meet that I should write unto thee, O my little Cassia! with mine
own hand, to give assurance that my soul’s affection for thee abideth
single and true. I pray thee that thou consider well that the new and all‐
abounding joy that I have in the New Faith hath not rendered me
unfaithful. But I can in no wise abate one jot or tittle of my devotion to
a great future work,—to bring all men, so far as I am able, to a knowledge
of the truth. This new and higher way was made manifest for all the world
through the despised prophet of Nazareth, whose disciples I have so
grievously smitten and afflicted aforetime.

“To thee, O Cassia! I remain with all constancy, if thy heart’s affection
still aboundeth to me‐ward, not the same self‐willed zealot thou hast
known, but the devoted Apostle of the Most High, and the earnest minister
of the New Faith to all men. But with my love in no wise abated towards
thee, nothing on earth, not even the utter loss of thy devotion, can in
the least tempt me to turn back to my former manner of mind. If thou hast
no desire to receive the new Saulus in the place of him whom thou hast
known, behold I freely give thee release from all thy plighted faith, so
that thou mayest be fully free.

“Perchance divers rumors have come to thine ears concerning me, but I
beseech thee to give them no place. Howbeit, in this epistle I have fully
opened my heart unto thee.

“Of all the company that left the Holy City under my leadership, Amoz
alone remaineth with me.

“Again I declare my love, and send greetings to all thy father’s house!

“Peace to thee, Cassia!

                                                                 “SAULUS.”



On the same day that the above was written, Saulus wrote the following to
Rebecca, who was now in her Tarsian home. Both letters were despatched by
Amoz to the station where they would be taken by a passing caravan.



                                                _Marcheshvan, VIIIth day._
“IN A CAVE AT HOREB,
“SINAITIC WILDERNESS, ARABIA.

“O my dear Rebecca!

“I would fain pour out my heart unto thee! Behold, my beloved sister, thou
wilt have unwonted astonishment when this epistle reacheth thine hand, to
know that thy hard‐hearted but now contrite brother dwelleth in a cave in
the land of Arabia. But thou wilt marvel yet more greatly, when I declare
unto thee that I am a disciple of the New Faith. I, Saulus! so long
exceeding mad against those of that Way, am a miracle unto myself! I well
nigh feel my soul to be twain in one body,—the Old and the New; but I live
and move, now and henceforth, in the New.

“It is meet that thou, my sister, companion and guardian of my tender
years, shouldst now receive some acknowledgment of the abundance of thy
gentle goodness and great patience to me‐ward throughout my whole
unrighteous course of life. While I persuaded myself through deceitful
belief that I was faithful to the Chosen People, and even doing God
service in my threatenings and slaughter among the saints of God, there
was a Spirit giving utterance deep within my soul which never ceased to
rebuke me. But I was stiff‐necked, and would not listen to that Voice,
which I now know to have been the judgment of the Most High. The Eternal
Spirit was prone to touch my spirit, but in my blindness I would have none
of it. In due season that inner reverberation became like the sound of
thunder! I vainly strove to stop my ears and to drown its persuasion by
scrupulous ceremonial service, and withal by persecuting all who were not
of the straitest sect of the household of Israel.

“But why set before thee afresh those things which thou knowest too well,
and which must needs only provoke my shame. From this day I leave them
behind, and hold them no more in remembrance. Thou didst ever strive to
guide my feet in the higher way, but in my pride and vainglory I despised
thy counsel! Of all who abode in the house at the Sheepmarket, thou only
didst discern some reflection of truth in the lives of the followers of
the manifested Light!

“Honor to Serenus! I was hardened against that pure wisdom in him which
thou didst so clearly perceive! Perfect contentment can never again
possess me until I behold him face to face, yea, and sit at his feet, and
learn more of that Spirit of Truth which so clearly shone through him,
after the pattern of the Nazarene. The remembrance of his unfailing virtue
will remain with me and yield inspiration. Hast thou any knowledge of his
place of sojourn since I banished him from the Holy City? Moreover, hast
thou heard any tidings from Amabel, the daughter of the Rabban, who
departed from her father’s house, yea, and the Holy City also, for the
sake of the New Faith?

“Regarding my own present state, I am persuaded that I have some
beginnings of that Spirit which filled Jesus of Nazareth. I patiently wait
that I may learn more of his life from those who were outwardly taught of
him.

“The solitude of the wilderness, the joy of the Unseen Presence, and rest
from the turmoil of the world and the differences of men, are my meat and
drink. In due time they will heal the wounds of my repentant soul, and be
manifested in new strength of body, howbeit a weakness yet remaineth with
me. Peradventure it is a messenger to rebuke any spiritual pride that may
beset me, and also that through its overcoming I may wax stronger in the
inner man.

“If any disciples of the New Faith should journey so far as Tarsus, I
beseech thee that thou be further taught of them. I also am minded that,
by the goodness of thy life, thou wilt commend the Truth to our beloved
father and mother.

“In the fulness of time I will return and be among men, that I may publish
abroad the glad tidings of the new kingdom to all who will listen. Nothing
can hinder me, and no enemies can stay my zeal in the work whereunto I am
appointed. In the strength of God, and through the power of his might, I
will give myself to the teaching of all nations.

“My faithful friend Amoz abideth with me, and the cave at Horeb is a
goodly habitation. Behold it hath been hallowed by the Godly men and
prophets of past generations, and their living but unseen presence
yieldeth a benediction.

“I trust that in due season I may receive a letter of goodly size written
by thine own hand.

“Some one of the caravans from Cæsarea that cross the desert of Ettyh
Paran to the land of Midian will bring it nigh to Horeb.

“May the Spirit that filled the Nazarene be in and with thee!

“Peace and greetings to our father and mother!

                                                                 “SAULUS.”



The days that followed passed serenely with the two inmates of the cave.
Saulus steadily gained in strength of body, and his vigor of soul also
increased day by day. Often during the morning hours, with Amoz and the
camel, he made short journeys in the adjacent region, generally returning
by the sixth hour of the day to their wonted solitude.

Amoz felt a growing concern touching the experiences and plans of Saulus,
whom he learned to love with a deep devotion, and to whose teaching he
listened with gladness and profit. One evening an unwonted long silence
succeeded the period of Saulus’s weakness, and Amoz was moved to inquire
concerning the nature of his self‐communing.

“O my dear friend and teacher, I would know the secret of thy meditations!
Behold, when thou art silent with thine eyes closed, thy face almost
seemeth to shine with joy! Tell me of thy thoughts! When I fain would rest
my mind, it is full of troubled waves, and I find no peace.”

“Thy inquiry concerneth a great truth to which the eyes of the world are
yet holden. It hath been made known to me through the working of my great
tribulation. A little while aforetime my former bitterness and
persecutions stood out before my soul by day and night. The thoughts of my
innumerable transgressions scourged me without measure, and I knew of no
escape. Vainly I strove to put them to flight, but their hellish faces of
reproach gathered thick, and stared at me in season and out of season.
Wherever I turned, my tormentors followed, and my soul was affrighted. But
a new and higher way hath been revealed unto me. I fasten my meditation
upon God,—the Omnipresent Good,—and upon everything that is true and
beautiful and of good report, and behold the former things flee because
they have no place!”

“Behold that is a path to freedom that I have not understood! My former
life hath not been given to persecutions, but even those things that
appear much smaller greatly disquiet me. Slumber forsaketh mine eyelids by
reason of many things that seem against me. My soul is filled with
manifold fears that have taken up their habitation in me and will not be
removed. But thou hast given me much light, and filled me with hope. I
thought it wise to hide these things from thee, but now rejoice that I
have invited thy counsel. I will fasten my thoughts upon the Good and not
the evil. But the way seemeth not easy, for the strong who possess a
fortress will not be put out except by a stronger.”

“Thou judgest rightly. It is not a light thing, but patience will
accomplish her perfect work and in due season be rewarded. Because all
things rest in the bosom of God, Good is stronger than all else, yea, it
is all! Behold we ignorantly magnify evil by our mistaken thoughts until
it covereth everything! To the pure eye and the right thought adverse
appearances become friendly. All things were created good, but man formeth
them anew for himself by his thought. God is too pure to behold iniquity,
because only he who hath in himself some measure of evil hath the
perverted vision to recognize it.”

“Behold, O Saulus! thy wisdom leadeth into the light, and thou hast
planted my feet upon a rock! I bless the day upon which I turned my steps
into the wilderness with thee! By thy interpretation it well nigh
appeareth that every man, through his own thoughts, shapeth to himself the
whole world in which he dwelleth!”

“Thou speakest a hidden truth, which in the fulness of time will become
plain, and thereby the kingdom of Heaven will be set up in all the earth!
The world groaneth and travaileth through the fear of things that it hath
recreated through its own vain imagining. As to unseemly fears, they abide
not only with thee, but with all men. Because our fathers have feared God
instead of loving and seeking him, they have filled the earth with
trembling and weakness. Fear hath torment, and bringeth forth an all‐
prevailing harvest of pain and sorrow, and also sickness of mind and body!
Our fathers at this very mountain did quake and tremble because they
thought God, like a fretful man, was angry, and therefore sent a tempest
of thunderings and lightnings. To give our souls to the dominion of things
that are seen also bringeth us into subjection to evil. They are but
outward appearances, while unseen verities abide forever.”

“I give judgment that thou hast learned all these things since thy
departure from the Holy City?”

“Thou thinkest rightly! They came not from the traditions of men, nor the
teaching of schools, but are revealed only from within!”

The next day Amoz made a visit to the halting‐place of the caravans, and
upon his return handed a sealed package to Saulus. It was a letter from
Cassia, and ran as follows:—



                                              “_Jerusalem, Chisleu XVIth._

“O thou false‐hearted Saulus!

“My hand well nigh refuseth to render me service!

“How hath the joy and desire of my heart turned to ashes!

“How proudly didst thou mount thy steed, and depart from the Holy City at
the head of thy goodly company in the service of the Chosen People!

“How brave and valiant didst thou appear as thou turned thine eyes up to
the casement of thy Cassia and waved a salutation, and then, in the lead
of thy procession, wound thy way through the streets of the Holy City!

“And now thou dost send me a constrained epistle from a lonely cave in the
wilderness, where with one base follower thou dost hide thy
shamefacedness!

“Thou who didst chastise heretics and blasphemers, and pursue them from
house to house, and take them to prison—fallen! so that they even put thee
to disgrace!

“Thou! whose penetrating search after the followers of the Nazarene was
like an eagle after his prey—THOU a Nazarene!

“I have mourned thee sore! Rumors came to me from Damascus, but I believed
them not, and remained faithful to Saulus—the love of my heart!

“The night‐watches have witnessed my weeping and desolation!

“I have clothed myself in sackcloth and mourned!

“My face is bowed in the dust, and my tongue cleaveth to the roof of my
mouth!

“Behold the fountains of my tears have dried up!

“I have wandered in the streets of the Holy City, vainly hoping that I
might see thy face!

“In my distress I have walked to and fro in my chamber, and anon gazed
down through the casement—where thine eyes rested as thou departed—looking
for thy return!

“Once I perceived something like a shadow of thy form, and felt thy breath
upon my cheek, and a kiss out of the dim light seemed to rest upon me, but
in all I was mocked!

“Was all thy former love and devotion but vain deceit, or hast thou gone
mad? It hath been so reported, and I am constrained to believe it!

“Would that I had never seen thy face!

“I hold in contempt the love which thou dost now profess for me!

“Thou hast despised not me only, but my family and people and religion,
and all which thou—when thou wert Saulus—rightly honored!

“My heart is bruised, my face blanched, and my form shrunken!

“I shall die! but many deaths would in no wise turn my heart in thy favor!

                                                                  CASSIA.”



The visage of Saulus as he read the missive to the end was pale but
placid. Not a word escaped his lips, but with careful deliberation he
slowly tore the delicate parchment into small pieces, and scattered them
in one of the deep chasms of the cave.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Often during a stormy evening, when the elements seem chaotic, and the
gusty night wind sweeps the broken clouds or dark mist rapidly along, a
brilliant star will burst into full view for a moment, and then disappear.

So down through the kaleidoscopic procession of the ages, at intervals
some great soul shines out in full‐orbed strength and beauty. The light of
history reveals that these are they who have passed through tribulation.

The diamonds and other precious jewels owe their beauty to the intense
fusing to which they have been subjected in the Plutonic blasts and
glowing flames of Nature’s laboratory. The cruder natural settings in
which they are clasped are baser, because they have never found their way
into her crucible.

As the rough block of marble is chipped, broken, and seemingly almost
destroyed before the imprisoned form of beauty can be set free, so the
trip‐hammers of Fate, whose terrible blows well nigh crush out the very
life of their victim, by a strange paradox finally render him shapely
beyond compare. The towering spirits that have worn material embodiment
are those whose earthy cords, deemed so vital by the world, have, one by
one, been snapped, until they found their life by losing it.

Saulus, the son of Benoni, was a casting from the furnace of such an order
of development. Even the persecutions which had been waged by him
doubtless had a place among the lurid flaming tongues which, in a white
heat, contributed to the shaping of the new Saulus.

Cassia’s letter severed the last subtle cord which tethered him to the
earthly. He was emancipated. Not, be it understood, that celibacy,
asceticism, or other‐worldliness are normal, or worthy to be sought, but
that in the moral and spiritual economy of humanity, there _are_ souls
whose rounding and polishing come only through infinite travail.

But if the white flower of truth and spiritual attainment seem to blossom
most perfectly when its roots have struck deep in the slimiest moral soil,
let it not be forgotten that the viscous mass is not the cause, but only
the occasion, of its supernal beauty. The divine germ hath all potency
within itself; but it becometh expedient that it be plunged into low
conditions, until through the exercise of lifting itself therefrom, it not
only nourishes its own strength, but finally transforms its base
environment.

On the evening of the day upon which Cassia’s letter had been received,
the two friends felt an unwonted nearness and soul‐contact. Saulus had
said nothing of the contents of the message, but Amoz divined the whole
matter as fully as if he had read it word for word. Though not greatly
skilled in the learning of the schools, there was in him a simple
spiritual sensitiveness which made everything plain. His life with Saulus
had brought them into close touch, and he measurably reflected his
leader’s experiences, and there was oneness in heart and interest.

Saulus was not cast down by Cassia’s unequivocal decision, but instead
there came a consciousness of freedom and spiritual growth. A soul‐burden
had been lifted. His great regard for Cassia would in no wise be lost, but
the special love which had possessed him was transformed into simple
compassion. Barred as he was from any possibility of leading her into the
light himself, she must wait for the slower education of event and
experience.

The evening being cool, the two mused before a small fire, for the service
of which the spacious cave afforded ample opportunity. The hour grew late,
and they long had been sitting side by side, no word being spoken. Perfect
harmony prevailed with a stillness that seemed mystical.

At length Amoz opened his lips, but his voice had a strange sound. Saulus
turned and looked into his face. His eyes were closed, but not with sleep.
There was a calm, sweet expression upon his countenance, but it was
unfamiliar—plainly not that of Amoz. A slight tremor shook his frame, but
only for a moment.

But harken! what saith the voice?

“Saulus, behold thou art my beloved brother!”

Saulus drew nearer, and warmly grasped the open hand which was extended
towards him. While filled with wonder, there was nothing to disquiet him.
He saw at a glance that some other soul possessed the body of his
companion.

“The words of thy greeting are warm, and touch my heart, but I would know
thy name, and why thou hast come to me?”

“I am Stephanos! aforetime of the Holy City. I come to manifest my love,
and give thee words of encouragement!”

There flashed before the mind of Saulus the Holy City! the mob in the
synagogue! the throng, which with jeers and curses, surged up the hill to
the Sanhedrin! the mockery of the trial in the Hall of the Squares! the
heroic young victim! the boiling passion! the tragedy without the walls!
the angelic face! and—his own leadership!

“O my God! I cannot bear it!”

He bowed his face to the ground.

“Be of good cheer, O Saulus! I greet thee only with love!”

“O Stephanos! thou here! and thou lovest me! Am I not dreaming? Canst thou
forgive?”

“I am here, and it is no delusive dream! From the beginning thou hast been
forgiven, and my love abideth with thee! Forget all that is behind, and
press forward, for behold great things wait for thee!”

Continuing the warm clasp of hands, they sat down, face to face.

“And thou art Stephanos! what joyful tidings! For a season my guilty soul
had rest neither day nor night. But now thou hast confirmed the peace
which hath been growing in me since my sojourn in the wilderness.”

“I have knowledge of thy good estate. Behold thy soul will become mighty,
and thou will open the eyes of much people! I am but one of an unseen
cloud of witnesses who will give thee strength and inspiration!”

“I am but newly born of the Spirit, and have much to learn. I fain would
know how thou art employed, and how thou dost come to me?”

“Behold they, who while in the fleshly body ministered to the needs of
their brethren, continue their ministry unbroken by the change of
condition. There are manifold ways in which we of the Unseen move upon the
minds of men which language would fail to express, and which thou couldst
not now fully understand. Love lendeth us wings, and so far as the souls
of men are open to the entrance of the truth, we are able to reflect some
light to them. But the multitude are ignorantly closed! They count
themselves to be fleshly in being, therefore the things of the Spirit are
hidden from their eyes. They believe not in ministering spirits, neither
care they for any understanding of the things of the higher life.”

“Do all who have passed thither engage in the ministry of love and good‐
will?”

“Nay! There is a great throng whom no man can number who have laid off the
flesh, but who are yet entangled in the meshes of the fleshly mind! They
are spirits who are in prison, and the loving guidance of the free spirits
have much exercise in their release.”

“Hast thou a body and members when thou dost not possess the form of Amoz
through which thou speakest to me?”

“Yea, verily! Our bodies, though lighter than air, as known to you, are
vastly more substantial than the seen shadows which men count as
themselves. It is only the invisible which has real being! The seen man is
but an incidental manifestation of MAN!”

“I behold the beauty and truth of thy wisdom! Wilt thou not teach me
further?”

“There are even more refined bodies than ours! When that which is perfect
is come, behold we shall have laid off these for those that are still more
internal and subtle! The path from glory to glory towards the perfect Love
is ever away from the grosser in every degree. But that which is gross
hath its place; for the seed of the divine life must needs have an early
planting in coarse soil, that through the exercise of its growth back
towards the Father’s House it may consciously recognize its quality, and
interpret its real nature!”

“Is the other life very near to this?”

“There is but one life, but it hath many expressions. While in the flesh,
the quality of thought and mind of each is closely veiled from others, but
here the intent of the heart is openly manifest! The inner character
standeth out, fully rounded, and none can mistake it! But in due time
knowledge increaseth, and those who are lower are taught and inspired
through the guidance of some who already have attained to greater power
and glory.”

“It seemeth that all things work together for good.”

“Thou judgest rightly! We live in Spirit; for God is Spirit, and we have
his image, whether in the flesh or out of it! But to live in the flesh is
not to live of it!”

“I am much beholden to thee, for thou hast made many mysteries plain. And
now hast thou any instructions which thou wouldst have me follow?”

“Nay. Take no man for authority, whether he be dwelling in the seen or the
unseen! Men may aid and cheer and teach thee, but determination cometh
from thy free will when illumined by the inner Word. Follow the divine
leading within thee, and thou shalt have true freedom! Behold the Anointed
Leader—the Christ—must be uncovered in every soul! My spoken words are at
an end. Peace and joy abide with thee, and to Amoz blessing and good‐will.
Thanks be to him for the service which he hath rendered us.”

A mild sweet fragrance and light filled the cave, but soon all was as
before.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII
                      LEANDER VISITS A MYSTIC SHRINE


Rebecca made her way homeward in a state of profound bewilderment. By
nature placid, intuitive, and rarely disturbed, her sweet soul, as a rule,
moved with serenity amid the turmoil of life’s experiences and
adversities.

But could it be that the noble Serenus was the guest of that Roman of
tarnished memory? Could light and darkness commingle? It seemed a strange
paradox.

Having not long since returned from the Holy City, she was not aware of
the great change which had taken place in the character back of that stern
face, nor that it now belonged to the Vice Legate of Tarsus.

Since the rescue of Rebecca from the stampede at the great celebration of
the Feast of Weeks in Jerusalem, and the conversation with her benefactor,
Serenus, to her, had stood for everything that was worthy and of good
report. She also remembered his lofty and quiet dignity as he headed the
notable line of captives upon whom she looked down from the house‐top when
they were led to prison by Saulus. The devotion of Serenus to the New
Faith, and the cheerfulness with which he endured persecution for its
sake, had left a picture upon her mind that could never be effaced.

Her wonder increased when she thought not only of the apparent intimacy
between the two, but also at the possible position of Marcius, as
indicated by the imperial equipment. But her wonted serenity was soon
regained. She instinctively felt the power of goodness, and that however
it might be explained, Serenus, in the very nature of the case, must carry
a powerful benediction wherever he went.

She also had noticed Amabel, and although not recognizing her as the
daughter of Gamaliel, inferred that she was the wife of Serenus. As this
conviction flashed upon her, there arose for a single moment a half
unconscious shadow of disappointment, although not admitted even to
herself.

It is not easy for the human mind to regard virtue and nobility
abstractly, or as separate from the personality through which they are
expressed. But the calm, warm sunlight which constantly filled the soul of
Rebecca quickly dispelled any possible mist. While she felt that the few
words Serenus once had spoken to her, and the inspiration of his presence
and heroism, in some way had introduced her to something higher than she
before had known, there was nothing which could be interpreted as of the
nature of personal love. He only had been the instrument in stirring the
strings of her higher nature, peradventure to some invisible vibrations of
the New Faith.

Rebecca always had been an enigma to her people. Though scrupulously
reared in the observance of every requirement of the most orthodox
Judaism, from her very youth there had been within her an unfathomable
reserve. While conforming in every outward requirement to that which was
expected of her, there was a calm but strong undercurrent of freedom, and
a thinly concealed indifference to formalism, which had been a disquietude
to Benoni, and an offence to Saulus. Her sojourn in the Holy City had
perceptibly developed the essence of a new principle in her inner nature,
which before had been little more than latent. Though having but the
slightest contact with the personal exponents of the New Faith and their
outward teaching, she instinctively had felt something of its beauty and
force. But the more it had been repressed by the influences about her, the
more it gathered volume.

There is ever an unseen moral and spiritual atmosphere in which vibrations
are constant. In it are currents and eddies, winds and calms, heat and
cold, as truly as in the meteorological realm of nature. Sensitive souls,
like invisible barometers, feel and register movements and tendencies
which ordinarily are intangible. The spread of pure and spiritual
Christianity during the time of the Primitive Church and immediately
succeeding was an object lesson which all ages since might have studied
with profit. It was perhaps due more to an unseen vital momentum—a
spiritual tidal wave—than the outward teaching of disciples and
missionaries. Unweighed by dogmatism, untrammelled by ecclesiasticism, and
free from rigid formalism, it, as a vital force, went out conquering and
to conquer. It was a new life—good news; but later to be shorn of its
spontaneity, dispossessed of its witness of the Spirit, bereft of its
healing potency for soul and body, and deprived of its innate joyousness
through usurped authority and burdensome accretion. Its very name came to
signify something external in the place of a living principle.

The state chariot which conveyed the little party from the Nereid circled
through the spacious grounds which surrounded the palace of Marcius, and
all alighted at one of the private portals. Serenus and Amabel were
conducted into one of the open courts, where they remained until suitable
apartments were made ready. A small fountain was playing in the centre,
surrounded by flowering plants and beautiful statues.

“Behold we have been led in a path we knew not of!” said Serenus; “and I
am persuaded that good will come of it.”

Upon their arrival, Leander retired to his own rooms in a very unenviable
frame of mind. For some time he had consciously been losing his influence
with Marcius, and their ways were rapidly drifting apart. The official
duties of the Vice Legate were performed with fidelity, and his growing
nobility of character and public commendation had given Leander an illy
concealed, cynical jealousy. But so far the fire had only smouldered. Now
he felt that in the interest and regard of Marcius he was thoroughly
supplanted. Was he, who for so long had been the bosom friend and adviser,
henceforth to be left out of the account? There is a jealousy not born of
sex which may be fed until it grows in intensity almost without limit.

Leander finally resolved upon an interview with his old‐time friend. He
found him unoccupied, and proceeded to unfold his grievances.

“If I may presume somewhat upon thy former friendship, I would have
private converse with thee!”

Marcius noted the thinly concealed suspicion and cynicism which were
stirring the pulse of Leander, but passing them by, quietly replied,—

“Pray unburden thy mind!”

“By Pallas! I begin to distrust my power to solve a riddle! For some time
past a mystical change seems to be coming upon thee which I am unable to
fathom! Thou hast lost thy love of pleasure, and even thy devotion to the
gods. In a word, thou art in danger of becoming a victim of baseless
superstition.”

Marcius was astonished at the bitterness of his words, but retorted with
quiet sarcasm,—

“Thy wonted poetic grace of expression seemeth to have deserted thee! Thy
speech is ungarnished, if not ungracious! If a change hath come over me,
it need be no riddle to thee! As one adds to his years, it is meet that he
should add somewhat to his wisdom.”

“Shades of Pluto! Dost thou call the babbling of fools wisdom? Thou hast
waded in the shallow sophistries of so‐called philosophy until it well
nigh hath made thee an anchorite! Thou hast deserted thine old associates
and pleasures, and art becoming a dreamer. And now, to crown thy folly,
thou hast brought contempt upon thy government and religion by making this
pair of Hebrew fanatics thine honored guests.”

Marcius was unruffled by the sharp thrusts, and listened much as he would
to the scolding of a petulant child.

“Thy chattering doth not in the least move me! I can well dispense with
thy advice, for of late both thy friendliness and wisdom are becoming
visibly tarnished! Would to the gods—or God—that I had more of what thou
art pleased to regard as Hebrew fanaticism! But I would have thee know
that my guests are in no wise like the Hebrews of Tarsus. Their philosophy
is grand, wise, beautiful, and I honor their opinions, and will know more
of their teaching. It will be but a waste of thy breath to try to dissuade
me!”

“And suppose it become known that the Vice Legate of Tarsus hath forsworn
the gods of the city, and set at naught the Roman Pantheon for the worship
of fugitive and unknown gods—or a lone god, as I heard thy paragon,
Serenus, set forth in his teaching! One would think that to a sane Roman
patrician such vulgar drivel and low‐bred association would be
disgusting!”

“Were I not amused at thine audacity, and compassionate of thy shallow
assumption, I should make comment upon thy growls as they deserve. Thy
unwonted denunciation hath even dried the springs of poesy which aforetime
hath flown in a deluge from thy lips.”

“Henceforth I abide no longer under thy roof, which is now devoted to the
shelter of vulgar pretenders who claim all wisdom. By the right arm of
Hercules! thou wilt yet rue the day when thou hast preferred the
friendship of an ass in a lion’s skin to the polish, art, and poetry of
thy Greek companion of many years!

  “I spread my sail, and float away
  From a shore grown now sterile and hateful;
  I end this play, and start to‐day
  For freedom, I care not how fateful!”

“Broken loose again! There is nothing here to compel the presence of thy
muse or thyself! I give thee farewell!”

Marcius offered a dignified parting salutation, which Leander turned his
back upon, and hastily left the room.

A few days afterwards there occurred one of those religious upheavals
which at intervals find vent in popular tumult. The number of Jews in
Tarsus had steadily increased, and their intolerant and exclusive spirit,
and the contempt which some of their number poured upon the Tarsian temple
service, had aroused a bitter prejudice and growing hostility. This
feeling, like a hidden fire, for some time had smouldered, only waiting
for some unusual opportunity to burst into open flame. While the Roman
authority and law, at that period, provided for religious toleration in
Tarsus, it could take no cognizance of the intense bitterness, as no overt
act had occurred to warrant interference.

It was a Tarsian holiday, and the occasion of an important festival to
Apollo. For three days two children of the family of one of the priests of
the Temple had been missing, and a rumor obtained circulation among the
lower orders of the people that the Hebrews had stolen them, and
sacrificed their bodies upon an altar for a burnt‐offering. There was no
foundation for the report, but notwithstanding its absurdity, it was
widely accepted.

Tarsus was astir. The streets were picturesque with decoration, and lively
with moving crowds and processions, and all through the day the Temple and
its great garden were thronged with worshippers and pleasure‐seekers.
Every one was in festal costume, and innumerable small companies were
waving banners, garlands, and palm‐branches, and marching to and fro with
shouts and laughter. At the Temple there were various ceremonies, oracular
messages, predictions, and idolatries in progress, all forming a
combination such as only a great Oriental metropolis of the period could
offer.

The brazen gates which led through marble arches into the Temple grounds
were flung wide open, and a continuous human current, seemingly from all
the nations of the earth, poured in. Parallel roads, some for those on
foot and others for horsemen or chariots, led inward toward the intricate
maze of summer‐houses, bowers, ponds, lotos‐groves, and rose‐trees, which
occupied the heart of the great paradisiacal resort. The number and
variety of fountains at play were amazing, and the long rows of statues,
arches, and booths stretched away in the distance in bewildering
profusion. Processions of horsemen in rich costume and brilliant
caparisonment, each carrying offerings for the various altars, swept in to
join the great concourse. All ages, sexes, and conditions lent their
contributions to the great changing panorama of color and beauty. There
were uniformed companies, in white or variegated colors, carrying flags,
garlands, or censers, keeping step to the music of hymns or the rhythm of
flutes and taborets, the combination of intoxicating strains forming a
vast confused symphony.

Upon a broad marble pavement of white and black design near the centre of
the widespread grounds there were groups of gay dancers, the stroke of
whose light sandalled feet kept time to the touch of small drums and
tambourines. With hair floating free, bare shoulders and necks, and robes
of diaphanous texture, the voluptuousness of their movements can scarcely
be told. They were charmers,—priestesses belonging to the Temple, each
having some part in its multiform mystical service. They were chanting a
hymn of Eros.

  “Love, sons of earth! I am the Power of Love!
  Eldest of all the gods, with Chaos born;
  My smile sheds light along the courts above,
  My kisses wake the eyelids of the Morn.”

Some of the trees of the groves were large,—tall branching cedars, and
evergreen oaks with glossy luxurious foliage, casting a cool seductive
shade upon the fresh clean grass. There were sycamores, laurels,
mulberries, citron‐trees, and terebinths, whose blossoms loaded the air
with a spicy intoxication. The thickets were full of birds, so tame as to
be fearless. The cooing of turtle‐doves, the song of nightingale, and the
whistle of quail, added to the unending composite of sweet sounds, shapes,
and colors. The exuberance of nature, the gracefulness of art, and all
that the genius of man could invent, combined as if to surfeit the human
senses.

Subtly intermingled with the degeneracy of such an age there was a blind
but ever‐living impulse toward some kind of worship. Man’s religious
proclivities are so strong that their exercise will find a place, even if
it be no higher than his own animal instincts.

From the standpoints of other periods, it is far from easy to unravel the
fundamental strands of life in any given time, and justly interpret its
underlying spirit. The autocratic rule of the sensuous consciousness is
yet everywhere supreme, but its outward manifestations constantly take new
shape. By the unreliable measurements of men, the ethics of one age is
made the standard of judgment for those of others. The radical defect—all‐
prevailing materialism—everywhere remains, but each age shifts its moral
emphasis so that its own methods for the adoration of the lower selfhood
seem good in its own eyes. Though the period in review was eminent for its
moral corruption, the worship of the bodily creature, in some form, after
nineteen hundred years of added experience and supposed wisdom still
remains dominant. Veils of outward legality are everywhere drawn, and
external conformity to undoubted standards more general—but what of the
great underlying sea of human consciousness? The true barometric test of
the moral and spiritual essence of any and all ages is the quality of
thought‐occupation, whether the same be boldly expressed or subtly hidden.
The world is full of veneers, and each eye complacently looks upon those
of its own time, while it ruthlessly strips off all others. The twenty‐
first century will doubtless be as much shocked by the selfishness, pride,
greed, and mad rush for place and power, which pertain to the nineteenth,
as is the latter at the more open corruption of the age under review.

Leander’s break with Marcius thoroughly embittered his morbid jealousy,
and snapped the only cord of outward restraint which in any degree had
held him. As a friend and guest of the Vice Legate, possessed of a dashing
and poetic spirit, he was well known in the gay society of the Cilician
metropolis. Vain of person, and proud of his dramatic accomplishments, he
brought them into exercise on every possible occasion. His delicate
complexion, wavy brown hair, and dark blue eyes, with an easy gracefulness
which characterized every movement, gave him a pleasing personality which
was his special capital. He spent much time at the baths, and commanded
their perfect service. Their oils, polishing, and perfume in some measure
concealed the flight of years under a youthful veneer of pearly whiteness.
But the natural sparkle of his eyes was growing dull, and the open, warm,
and artless temper of earlier life had become clouded with cynicism and
acerbity.

His richly decorated chariot, which was drawn by three snowy white horses
abreast, always drew a gaping crowd as it dashed through the Tarsian
thoroughfares. His especial pride was to be regarded as the _arbiter
elegantiarum_ of the city. His more immediate circle of friends was often
invited to his entertainments, which consisted chiefly of his own
recitations of Greek poetry and tragedy. They frequently became tiresome,
but as his fondness for applause was notorious, it was sarcastically
bestowed _ad nauseam_. He entered with the utmost abandon into every
spectacular display or ceremony, his fondness for dramatic art thereby
receiving exercise and stimulation. Before ordering his chariot for his
visit to the festival he sat down to warm himself with a deep draft of
spiced Falernian. It came strongly to mind that on many similar occasions
he had started with Marcius at his side. Now he was to go alone.

During every hour since their last interview his anger had increased. He,
the life‐long friend, cast off for an obscure Hebrew! Impatience waxed
hot, until his feeling rapidly became absolute hatred. In some way he
would have revenge—bitter revenge. Was there not some possible means by
which he could despoil Marcius of his official position, and rob him of
his reputation? But his popularity and power made it utterly inexpedient
to declare open enmity. Leander would bide his time, and find a plan to
secretly revenge himself, and never rest easy until the downfall of the
Vice Legate was compassed. As for Serenus and Amabel, they were beneath
contempt.

Wrath or jealousy that is nursed grows apace, and the enmity of Leander
would have sanctioned the murder of Marcius, if it could be brought about
without any finger of suspicion being pointed toward him.

But it was time to depart. His chariot was waiting; and seizing the reins
of his noble steeds, he joined the great current which flowed towards the
Temple and its spacious enclosure. Arriving in due time, he entered by the
most prominent triumphal gateway, and after ostentatiously driving several
times around the broad circular highway, left his chariot with an
attendant, in order more freely to enjoy the sights and sounds, and
indulge in the pleasures of the vast enclosure. He found two or three
friends, and with them joined in some of the sports and games. But after a
time, wearying of these, they came upon a large booth richly ornamented
with occult art, having an inscription over the entrance:—

                     “HOUSE OF MAGIC AND DIVINATION.”

Entering, they found themselves in the spacious atrium, where each visitor
waited his turn, and made his choice as to which of the divers inner
mysteries he would consult. Out of this large reception‐room many portals
opened which penetrated to unknown interiors of enchantment and sorcery.
The peculiar class to which each belonged was indicated by occult emblems
or cabalistic signs inscribed upon the various oval valves that opened
farther inward. An attending magician interpreted them. One led to a
wizard’s cave of spells and incantations; another to realms where converse
with shades was held; another to oracular answers and predictions; another
to charms for healing; another to the furnishing of love philters; and
finally, one was given to curses and horrors.

Leander chose the last named. His hatred towards Marcius flashed up as he
saw the symbols, and he would know the mystery, and perchance an
instrument for enmity.

“I fear neither gods nor men!” he exclaimed; “and I will acquaint myself
with the worst.”

His friends sought enchantments of the milder forms.

He was in an impatient mood, but had not long to wait when the curious
valve leading to the department last named swung open of its own accord,
and a hoarse voice from within, though seemingly very distant, cried,—

                     “ENTER THOU THE MYSTIC SHRINE!”

He passed in, and the valve closed behind him. He found himself in a dimly
lighted, narrow passage‐way, which he followed, that led under ground in
mazy, sinuous fashion, seemingly without end. He smiled at the slight
weird feeling which stole upon him, but pushed on. He feared nothing, for
he believed nothing. There were no such things as visions, spectres, or
shades. He had come for amusement—or rather, if possible, to find a way of
revenge.

At length the passage widened into a cave of indefinite dimensions. It was
but dimly lighted by a small fire in a recess of jagged rocks. The walls
of the cave in other directions seemed to be composed of an indefinable
mist of unknown depth, upon which flashed a dim tremulous phosphorescence.
Over the fire was suspended a caldron, the contents of which seethed and
bubbled, emitting a pungent vapor that wreathed itself overhead in illy
defined forms that seemed to crawl and leap. Upon a shelf suspended in
mid‐air without visible support, an assortment of tiny phials containing
various colored liquids gleamed with an unearthly light, and near by hung
small bundles of dried herbs and roots. Upon a rough iron tripod stood a
grotesque statue of the Hecate, through whose eyes shone a dull red light,
as if they were heated by an inner flame. Several skeletons and many more
skulls were arranged at different angles, the eyes of which remained in
their places, shining with a red light of their own. Leander was the
cynosure of them all.

He looked about him for a moment, taking in the various details, and then
burst into loud laughter.

“By Bacchus! an artistic combination to impress infants! But where, oh,
where, lingereth the presiding siren? The combination seemeth to run
itself! Come out! Thy caldron needs stirring!”

Then he gave another hearty laugh at his own wit and eloquence. The
reverberations which indefinitely repeated themselves through the distant
passages sounded like a multitudinous mocking chorus.

“Shades of Tophet! the acoustic properties are well provided!”

He gave another loud call for the sorceress in charge. The sound of his
voice seemed split into a hundred fragments—a chaos of weird echoes upon
all keys.

“Go on with your cackling! I welcome every demon that sails his bark upon
the Cocytus!”

But as a female form of gigantic proportions slowly emerged from the
background, his heart gave a leap.

Covering her dishevelled gray locks was a tall, pointed red turban; her
mouth, partly open, showed two irregular rows of long, dark teeth, and her
large stony eyes were fastened upon him with a freezing stare. Her
features were ashy gray and unearthly.

But in spite of appearances, Leander gathered himself together, and with a
chuckle exclaimed,—

“By the thirst of Bacchus! I adjudge this a strong and artistic stage‐
setting for a Greek tragedy!”

Then, striking an attitude, he began, in impassioned style, to recite some
lines from one of the dramas of Sophocles.

After listening a while the horrible gigantic Shape began slowly to turn
away, and exclaimed in hoarse, hollow tones,—

“Enough! I surrender!”

Leander neatly turned the exclamation into a compliment.

“My oratory conquers gods, men, or she‐devils!”

He then addressed the retiring Shape.

“Stay, I pray thee! Thou art not comely, but peradventure thou canst serve
me! I would have none of thy incantations, but thou hast in store a
variety of potions. Art thou skilled in their preparation?”

“For more than twoscore years have I distilled and cunningly concentrated
the occult and deadly forces of nature,” said the Shape with a ghastly
grin. “I am a daughter of the Etrurians, and their wonderful secrets and
enchantments have come down to me from the dim past. I have philters for
the loveless, promises of treasure for the needy, and potions for revenge,
for tragedy, for blight, and for destiny! What wilt thou?”

“Hast thou a blight which will very slowly, but with grim certainty, dull
the reason, destroy the wisdom, and hasten to decay before the wonted time
all the faculties of the Mind?”

The Shape stretched out her long, bony fingers and took one of the small
phials, and holding it before her stony eyes, replied,—

“In color and taste like water; yet he who takes it in any form, in three
years will become a drivelling idiot! The brain! the brain! It slowly
scorches, and nothing can put it out! It will mingle with water or even
Falernian!”

The Shape gave a malicious leer.

“I believe neither in shades, spectres, nor enchantments, but of chemistry
am persuaded! But how can I be assured of what thou sayest?”

“I will give thee a sign of my power!”

“As thou wilt.”

The Shape, taking an empty phial, poured into it a portion of the contents
of several of the dark liquids, and the mixture was clear and colorless.

“By the eyes of yonder Hecate, thou hast power! and now the price of thy
potion?”

“From thee, O dramatic ranter, a full purse of gold, for thou art rich.”

Leander drew from an inner secret fold in his tunic a small purse filled
with gold, and taking the phial, carefully deposited it in the place from
whence he had taken the coin.

He chuckled to himself as he thought of his new‐found secret for revenge
upon Marcius, and was about to turn towards the entrance when the hag
interposed,—

“A mutual oath of secrecy before thou departest.”

Then she grasped his hand with her long, bony fingers, and placing it upon
the head of the Hecate of the burning eyes, covered it with one of her
own.

“Repeat after me!”

Leander repeated the oath.

“May all the gods curse me, if I reveal aught of this transaction!”

Leander turned to go.

“Thou art the first who hath entered here and not quailed! Farewell!”

Leander soon found himself again amid the crowds in the sunshine of the
garden.

Was it a dream?

He thrust his hand under the secret fold of his tunic, and the phial was
there.

It was now late in the afternoon, and the streets, leading from the Temple
and its grounds towards the lower part of the city, were filled with
groups of gay revellers on their return. There was an easy air of careless
enjoyment which possessed all classes and ages. Young men and boys were
waving banners or singing songs, and the flitting forms of women and girls
in picturesque attire, with their ringing, playful laughter, were
everywhere to be seen.

In one of the main thoroughfares where these merry throngs were passing
was the largest Jewish synagogue in Tarsus. During the afternoon there had
been a special religious ceremonial, and the congregation emerged in a
mass just as some of the crowds from the festival were passing by. The
recent growing prejudice, but more especially the rumor of the missing
children, had stirred up a bitter hatred which needed but a spark to cause
an outburst of open warfare.

No greater contrast could be imagined in appearance than that between the
lively votaries of the Tarsian deities, and the stiff, conceited, and
austere Hebrews. The disciples of the synagogue wore long robes with broad
borders and girdles, and mingled here and there with them were priests
with tall cup‐shaped turbans, breastplates, and broad phylacteries. Their
measured pace, solemn countenances, and proud, exclusive bearing seemed
like a spoken rebuke and even an insult to the great current which was
flowing by from the Temple of Apollo. Some who were nearest began to utter
derisive cries against the Israelites.

“Down with the bigots!”

“Behold the murderers, who take children for burnt‐offerings!”

“Drive them from Tarsus!”

“The gods curse them!”

“Woe to the circumcision!”

“Hurl them into the Cydnus!”

These were among the cries which fell upon the ears of the Hebrews as they
poured out of the synagogue. The excitement grew apace, and the rabble
began to close in around them, hurling such missiles as were at hand.

Soon the attack became general.

Turbans, breastplates, phylacteries, and all other distinctive insignia
were stripped off, and many men, women, and children were beaten and
wounded. The _mêlée_, so quickly started, became general, and spread over
a large space. The cry, “Murderers of children!” was taken up in every
direction.

For a while the Jews rallied, and essayed to defend themselves, but being
overwhelmingly outnumbered, began to scatter and flee as best they could.
Some escaped through side streets and lanes, and many were borne down,
bleeding and wounded.

Rebecca was among the number. Though caring little for the ceremonials of
her people, she still outwardly observed them from strength of habit and
association, and in compliance with the earnest requests of her father.

In the great tumult she became separated from all her friends, and twice
was thrown down and trampled upon. At length, with torn garments and her
beautiful hair streaming behind, she darted through a narrow passage into
an open square, still followed by a small rabble of the lowest class.

Marcius had taken no notice of the festival, he and Serenus having gone
upon a drive up the right bank of the Cydnus. They were returning when
rumors of the outbreak came to their ears. Marcius hurried on in order to
exercise his authority in its suppression.

They quickly turned a corner, when at a little distance a dishevelled
woman was seen running rapidly toward them, screaming, and closely
followed by a mob. She was faint and ready to fall; but seeing, though not
recognizing them, besought their aid.

Marcius drove rapidly forward, standing with whip in hand, and with an air
of authority demanded order.

“Back! I say, and leave her alone! Disperse, ye rioters!”

As she came near, Serenus caught a full view of her beautiful face, and
could not be mistaken.

“As I live, it is Rebecca!”

Marcius stopped his horses, announced his office, and the mob quickly
melted away. Then lifting the exhausted Rebecca into the carriage with
them, Marcius drove rapidly to his palace.

They tenderly bore her unconscious form within, and deposited it in the
apartments of Serenus, in the care of Amabel.



                              CHAPTER XXIX
                          CHANGES OF SOUL‐COLOR


           The links of circumstance are securely welded into the chain of
          life so that none can be lost or missed. The effect of to‐day is
                              only transmuted into the cause of to‐morrow.


Marcius was deeply impressed by the face of Rebecca. There was an
indefinable peculiarity about her charming features which the flight of
years had not effaced. But when, where, or under what circumstances he had
seen her, he was utterly at a loss to conceive.

From the moment of her rescue from the mob, until with the help of Serenus
he delivered her to the care of Amabel, he seemed to be under a peculiar
abstraction. But mingled with an indefinable shock at a sense of some
mysterious recognition, there was a surprise, even under the untoward
circumstances, at her unwonted beauty and evident refinement. His peculiar
feelings were an enigma to himself. Why should one of a race so generally
disesteemed, even though comely, so move him?

The injuries which Rebecca had received at the hands of the mob proved to
be severe. After attending to immediate requirements for her relief,
Serenus proceeded to acquaint her parents concerning her. Remembering that
she had made known to him while in Jerusalem that she was the daughter of
Benoni, he hastened to find him.

As the father was one of the more prominent of the Hebrew citizens of
Tarsus, Serenus found it easy to ascertain his place of abode. Pursuing a
thoroughfare which led to the Orontes Gate, in the northwestern part of
the city, he soon approached the family domicile. Upon the outside all was
peaceful and serene. The broad terraces were dotted with clusters of
flowering plants and shrubs which filled the air with their fragrance. The
silvery Cydnus lay spread out in the near foreground, and winding paths,
with flights of steps, led directly down to the shore. The house, Hebraic
in design, was simply though rather richly embellished by symbolic emblems
peculiar to the Chosen People, and Serenus was impressed by the beauty and
taste everywhere evident.

The door was opened in response to his knock, and upon entering he found
great sorrow and confusion. Benoni and his wife had barely escaped from
the mob, and had reached home but a short time before bruised and
exhausted. But forgetting themselves, they were bitterly bewailing the
loss of Rebecca, supposing that she had perished in the street.

“Peace be unto this house! In the midst of your affliction I bring good
tidings!” said Serenus after his hasty but warm salutation. “I am a
Hebrew, lately arrived from the Holy City, and have much joy in making
known to you that your daughter hath been saved from the rabble.”

Benoni closely scanned the tall, graceful form and clear, handsome face of
Serenus, and they brought a terrible scene of the past vividly to his
memory.

“The God of Israel be praised! I shall never forget thee! Thou art again a
minister of mercy, and I thank thee for thy compassion.”

“Thou dost remember my face?”

“Did I not behold thee in the Temple‐court, when in the mad panic thou
didst lift Rebecca from my shoulders and bear her to a place of safety?
Did not mine eyes see thee from the house‐top in the line of captives on
thy way to prison, when Almon, mine host, made known to me that thou wert
he who saved Saulus from the thieves and brought him to the inn at
midnight? May thou be doubly blessed! But I am grieved on thy behalf! How
could Saulus count thee—as—his—enemy?”

“I beseech thee think no more of the things of the past. I have come to
inform thee that thy daughter Rebecca is at the palace of the Vice Legate,
tenderly cared for by my wife Amabel?”

“Thou dost gladden my heart! And hast thou assurance that she is not
sorely wounded?”

“Recovery will come in due season, but perchance for a few days it may be
prudent that she remain.”

Rebecca’s mother also poured out her thanks to Serenus, but being overcome
by faintness, was obliged to seek retirement.

Benoni was in a state of great perplexity. The events of the past in the
Holy City, and the unexpected riotous outbreak of the day, filled him with
questioning and disquietude, which were increased by the sudden appearance
of Serenus. Thrice the guardian angel of his family, could this man be
“the enemy of Saulus”? Moreover, was it possible that he was the betrayer
of the religion of his fathers?

While rejoicing over the escape of Rebecca, and feeling grateful for the
past and present kindness of Serenus, a current of the bitterness and
prejudice which possessed him at Jerusalem momentarily made itself felt.
Too weak also from the terrible experience of the day to visit Rebecca, he
was greatly troubled, and bowed his head in silence and tears.

After a little delay, Serenus uttered a few warm words of encouragement,
and started to take his leave, promising to come again on the morrow and
bring further tidings of Rebecca, and peradventure perform any other
service.

Then Benoni relented and aroused himself.

“Tarry for a little, I pray thee, that we may have further converse.”

Serenus again seated himself by his side, gently taking one of his hands
in his own, as if he would soothe his distresses.

“Behold our many trials work together for good! Thy daughter will be
restored, and thou made glad!”

The hardness of Benoni melted before the friendly warmth of Serenus.

“Thanks be to thee for thy words of comfort. Behold thou didst save both
Saulus and Rebecca from the hand of the destroyer; yea, twice thou hast
given back my daughter, and I love and honor thee!”

“Thou dost commend me overmuch! To Marcius, the Vice Legate, is due the
rescue of Rebecca from the hands of the rabble. He is a noble Roman, and
will have respect unto thee and thy house.”

“Is he thy friend?”

“Yea, verily!”

“And thou a Hebrew?”

“I was born a Hebrew!”

“I marvel at what thou sayest!”

“A Roman may have a warm heart!”

“I marvel again! but if so, I am persuaded that thou must have warmed it!”

“There is an affection, not born of race or position, and even the Vice
Legate of Tarsus hath begun to feel somewhat of its glow!”

“But doth not he worship the Tarsian gods?”

“Aforetime and formally, yea! but he is reaching out after a Higher,—the
God of all the earth!”

“But behold the God of Israel ruleth all the earth!”

“And all the peoples of the earth are his children!”

“And thou a Hebrew! I cannot understand what thou sayest. It is written
that Moses called the Lord a Man of War. Hath he not then enmity against
the Gentiles?”

“He hath enmity against no man!”

“Again thou speakest strange things! Thy spirit is wise and good and thy
heart full of charity, but thou lightly regardest the things that are
written.”

“Verily the springs of God are in the inner man! The things that are
written may be expedient and profitable in their day and generation, but
they are not yet fully perfected. Behold the written law is a schoolmaster
leading towards Truth!”

“Sayest thou that the revelation of God is not perfected in the law as
handed down to our fathers?”

“Nay! God is ever revealing himself in divers ways, and will never cease.”

Again Benoni bowed his head in bewilderment. At length, lifting his eyes
towards the face of Serenus, he inquired,—

“Canst thou forgive Saulus for his bitter persecution of thee and thy
friends?”

“I have forgiven him from the beginning!”

Benoni’s eyes filled with tears as he put his arms about the young man,
embracing him warmly. Serenus arose to depart.

“I will bring thee tidings from Rebecca on the morrow, and peradventure
thou mayest be able to visit her.”

The conflict of the ages—that which hath torn innumerable souls before and
since—the Spirit _versus_ the Letter—waxed strong in the mind of Benoni
for hours after Serenus had taken his departure.

Nothing less than some upheaval of marvellous force can change a strong
current of chronic dogmatic prejudice. It may be interrupted, but there is
a mighty tendency for the stream to return to its well‐worn channel.

The vague mystery of some dim recollection of the face of Rebecca
increased the interest which Marcius otherwise would have felt in her
welfare and improvement. Losing no time after their arrival, he despatched
a messenger to call his own physician, and also sent for two skilful
nurses who were to alternate in their attendance under the general
supervision of Amabel. Then he proceeded without delay to take all
possible means, in connection with the Legate and other Roman officials,
for the suppression of the tumult.

A cohort of soldiers was hastily ordered into service; but as the Hebrews
had all fled to their homes, except the small number that were killed or
wounded, and the rabble scattered, they found little to do. So many of the
leaders of the attack as could be identified were placed under arrest, and
the Hebrews assured of future liberty and protection. A proclamation also
was issued, over the imperial seal of Cæsar, commanding religious
toleration.

On the evening of the same day Marcius was alone in his private office
reviewing the events which had happened. Crowning the strange impressions
already noted was another, which was unwonted and distinct. Transcending
the romance of the rescue of the beautiful and mysterious Jewess, a
peculiar gladness welled up within him at the feeling of having succored
the weak and innocent in the hour of trial. It was the first purely moral
upheaval in the soul of Marcius of that unique satisfaction which grows
out of a beneficent act well done. Not that he took any credit for having
performed a simple manly duty, but rather felt a spontaneous and genuine
thankfulness that the circumstances had conferred a great privilege upon
him. As he looked back over a past so long ruled by selfishness and
passion, he was surprised at the revelation of the luxury of doing good,
even though it came in the line of official obligation. He almost felt a
reverence for the simple Hebrew maiden, who had been the instrument of
revealing the loftiest consciousness within him that he had ever
experienced. A hitherto unknown beneficent impulse had been awakened
within him that would never again go back to latency. It included ministry
to the weak, protection to the innocent, and help to the helpless,
whenever opportunity might offer. Though to the world, or even the average
man of affairs, the incident would seem trivial, yet a door, before
unknown, had been opened, and Marcius, the Roman, had added a cubit to his
spiritual stature.

After Rebecca was borne into the palace, she remained a full hour in a
state of unconsciousness. Willing hands and loving hearts exercised
themselves in every form of helpful devotion. No bones were broken, but
the terrible shock, with the severe bruises received while under the feet
of the mob, made her condition of serious import.

Upon opening her eyes, she was bewildered on account of the strange
surroundings. But the bright cheerful face of Amabel, who was holding her
hand and stroking her forehead, reassured her.

“Where am I? and what has happened?”

“Thou art surrounded by warm friends, and peace and joy belong to thee. Be
not disquieted, for all is well!”

“I have had a terrible dream—nay, it must be more than a dream, for I am
in a strange place, and cannot move!”

“Thou art in the palace of the Vice Legate of Tarsus! He snatched thee
from the hand of the cruel horde, and brought thee here and placed thee in
my charge. Our love, care, and healing influence will restore thee!”

“Thy kindly young face seemeth familiar! Wilt thou be pleased to tell me
concerning thyself?”

“I am Amabel, the daughter of Rabban Gamaliel of Jerusalem, and wife of
Serenus!”

“My love and thanks go out to thee for thy goodly service.”

She was then made acquainted with the escape of her father and mother; but
soon a confused mingling of past scenes, with faintness from the terrible
shock of the afternoon, overcame her, and she sank into a deep slumber.

After two or three hours she awoke visibly improved. Though very weak, she
now clearly recalled all the events of the day, excepting those during the
period of her unconsciousness. As she looked up, both Serenus and Amabel
were seated by her side. The face of the former at once brought before her
the well‐remembered scenes of the Holy City. The panic of the Feast of
Weeks, their subsequent conversation, the procession of prisoners, and
other events of the persecution, were all vividly recalled. Yet this was
“the friend of Saulus.” Then she thought of the previous day, when Serenus
and Amabel coming from the Nereid were driven through the streets in the
company of that Roman whose dark face was so deeply engraven upon her
memory.

“There is much that seemeth mysterious to me!” she exclaimed; and then
turning towards Serenus said,—

“Of a verity thou wert the preserver both of Saulus and myself in the Holy
City, and now, behold thou hast appeared in Tarsus and saved me from the
fury of the mob! But I cannot understand”—

“Of a truth it was not I, but Marcius, the Vice Legate, who delivered thee
from danger and brought thee to this place of refuge. Perchance I rendered
some service, but to him thy thanks are due for thine escape.”

Rebecca again closed her eyes for a few moments, but her memory was busy.

Marvel of Marvels!

Noticing her confusion, Serenus quietly observed,—

“Thou wilt know all in due time, but pray let slumber gently seal thine
eyelids until the morrow. We will aid thee to realize the Present Help,
and through a spiritual strength which shall be thine, thou shalt feel new
life with the rising of the sun!”

Silence then prevailed, and she sank into a sweet, restful slumber.

“O Light of my Life!” said Amabel in a low tone, “I am filled with the
remembrance of thy gracious ministry when I passed down to the border of
the tomb in my father’s house. All that then seemed so adverse was but the
pathway through which I was led into the Truth! And now, touching this
trial, peradventure it will be the means of bringing great light and peace
into the soul of Rebecca.”

“Yea, verily, Love of my Heart! Good springeth forth from evil! And now
let us be silent channels whereby the presence of the Universal Good shall
become manifest in her.”

Profound stillness then prevailed.

The place seemed hallowed.

As the dim evening light shone softly upon the closed eyes and fair cheeks
of Rebecca, a sweet smile wreathed her lips. Perchance she was dreaming of
peace, love, and an overcoming faith.

The two young disciples of the New Faith sat near her as the moments
passed silently by.

A Voice spoke through them, but not in words. “Child of God! Thou art a
spark of Immortal Flame! an image of the Universal Spirit! It is thine to
govern and harmonize the outward form. Thou hast new life already! God is
Spirit, and his dwelling‐place is with his offspring. He is thy Life,
Love, and Strength, through the understanding of the laws of thy being.
Behold the very breath of God is within thee! His strength is freely thine
own!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Serenus retired from the room.

The next morning found a very marked improvement in the condition of
Rebecca. She was surprised at the unwonted joy and gladness which like a
fountain spontaneously sprung up within her. There was also a great
recovery in her bodily condition.

Opening her eyes, with a calm cheerfulness she warmly greeted Amabel, who
was already by her side,—

“The morning light hath brought me peace, dear Amabel! I feel such an
assurance of strength and happiness that it seemeth a mystery.”

“Peradventure thou hast some inner kindling of the New Faith!”

“Tell me of it; for even the bodily presence of you—its disciples—bringeth
a peculiar benediction!”

“We are but its instruments of spiritual ministration!”

“Cometh it down from the God of the Hebrews in answer to your petitions?”

“Behold the presence of God filleth all things, both great and small, and
his loving favor hath no constraint of tribe or nation! We need not beg,
for no willingness is lacking with him. To open our souls to the abundance
which is already provided, comprehendeth the Spirit of the New Faith!”

“Peradventure I felt some faint beginnings of its presence within me while
I was yet in the Holy City, but Serenus and thyself have it in living
fulness!”

“Behold the power and love which inspire may come through silent
communication from another soul! The Spirit speaketh through one to
another to the inner ear.”

“How mysterious, and yet how beautiful!”

“When the Image of God within is discovered, in due time it maketh its
fruits manifest in the outer and seen.”

“Hath Marcius, the Vice Legate, accepted the New Faith?”

“He hath not yet fully avowed it, but is possessed of a growing desire to
know the Truth. Though a Roman, the dawn of a higher consciousness already
hath shone into his soul, and perchance the good seed which Serenus hath
sown will spring forth into a full harvest.”

“It appeareth that you are his friends and guests. I rejoice that it hath
so come to pass, but it seemeth strange!”

Amabel then briefly related the whole story of the shipwreck, and of the
friendliness and growing interest of Marcius in their teaching.

After listening to the narrative, Rebecca closed her eyes, while Memory
held its graphic pictures before her.

Back, back to the evening on the Cydnus—the storm—the scene in the
palace—the boyish, brotherly devotion of Saulus, and the outcome of
complete salvation.

Then she quickly roamed over the succeeding years,—the change in
Saulus—his terrible persecutions—her life in the Holy City—and on, on,
down to the events of the past two days.

Verily, life was a mysterious labyrinth!

She was _again_ in a palace of Marcius!

But Marcius was another Marcius; the same only in name; the friend of her
friends, and the doer of good deeds. Nay, more. He was her deliverer from
death, and his house her place of refuge.

No! he could never recognize her!

She resolved to lock up the secret of the first Marcius!

He was forgiven, forgotten—blotted out!



                               CHAPTER XXX
                          A PARADISE DISCOVERED


            “True love’s the gift which God has given
            To man alone beneath the heaven;
              It is not fantasy’s hot fire,
                Whose wishes soon as granted fly;
              It liveth not in fierce desire,
                With dead desire it doth not die;
            It is the secret sympathy,
            The silver link, the silken tie,
            Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
            In body and in soul can bind.”


On the third day after the rescue of Rebecca she had recovered her wonted
health and strength. Benoni, visiting her on the previous afternoon,
fondly hoped that she might return with him, but upon the cordial
invitation of her benefactors, consented that she should remain a little
longer. Her interest in the New Faith grew apace, and her love and respect
for its two young exponents were unbounded. The rapidity of her
restoration appeared miraculous to all who understood not the signs which
outwardly witnessed the new spiritual Power. The nurses which Marcius
provided were not needed, and the physician made but the visit of the
first day.

Since the day when he snatched her from the jaws of death, Marcius had not
seen Rebecca, but manifested his interest by frequent inquiries concerning
her welfare. Some part of each day he sought the company of Serenus, and
his interest in their conversation, and regard for what he called the new
Spiritual Philosophy, steadily increased. On the third evening, learning
of Rebecca’s virtual recovery, he expressed the earnest wish that she,
with Serenus and Amabel, should sup with him upon the evening following.
It would be a quiet but fitting celebration of her notable recovery.

Upon being informed by Serenus of the proffered honor, she would have
pleaded some excuse, but feeling a great obligation to her kind host, and
also that it would please her guardian angels of the New Faith, she
accepted the invitation. Through the kindness of Serenus she was supplied
from her home with everything that was fitting for her appearance at the
festivity, so that with the delicate discrimination and assistance of
Amabel she lacked nothing.

The evening came, and Rebecca’s fair face, though slightly paler than
usual, was charming to behold. With features of rare symmetry, and
complexion of a delicate brunette, her skin was of such transparency that
the ruddiness beneath it clearly shone through. Her head, classic in shape
and slightly below the average size, was set upon a neck and shoulders
well turned, and graceful in pose and shapeliness. Her jet black hair was
lightly gathered up under a cap of silken gauze with a dainty embroidery
of golden threads, and a network of delicate chains adorned with small
precious stones encircled her neck. She wore simple but rich flowing
robes, in harmony with her faultless form, compelling attention not to
detail, but to general completeness and proportion.

Who can estimate the refining and elevating influence of true and ideal
beauty? No symmetrical soul can fail to be thrilled by its quality, and
the admiration bestowed upon it is repaid by a reflection of its
transforming potency. Everything, whether beautiful or otherwise, is ever
busy in the subtle moulding of living and impressible forms around it into
its own image. The lesson of Pygmalion and his fair creation symbolizes
the poetic and artistic truth of a vital and universal principle.

But the outward form and costume of Rebecca were the unimportant elements
of her charming presence. The purity and artlessness of soul shining
through the visible personality formed the real attractiveness of the
daughter of Benoni. The costume, and even the beautiful form, were simple
accessories, like the external setting of a gem.

As the hour of the repast drew near, the trio wended their way through a
long corridor, paved with mosaic, then, passing two portals, entered the
atrium or front court of the palace. Here Marcius would receive them. The
entrances to the various rooms, with their walks, alcoves, and stairways,
extended around on three sides, while on the fourth, beyond a massive wall
of marble, were the palace gardens, containing flower‐beds, shrubberies,
fountains, and statues, with here and there a spreading plane, fig, or
palm tree.

The court opened to the blue sky above, except a space covered by a large
velarium, which was spread as a shelter from the rays of the sun during
the afternoon. The impluvium, or rain‐water tank, guarded by rails of
polished metal, received its contents through grotesque gargoyles of the
same material, and near by a fountain poured forth a volume of spray into
a huge round marble basin, surrounded with anemones and lilies. The
pavement of the atrium was of white and dark red marbles in handsome
design, and the walls decorated with carved panels, upon which were
representations of fantastic birds, griffins, fauns, and centaurs. Along
the sides a continuous divan or resting‐place was supplied with soft,
movable cushions, and stools in front.

Marcius appeared soon after the announcement of their arrival. After a
simple introduction, he gave Rebecca a cordial greeting,—

“I give thee welcome, and have pleasure in thy speedy restoration.”

Rebecca glanced timidly up into the face of the Roman, half expecting that
the dark, stern visage of perfidious memory would be disturbing beyond
control, so that her agitation would be evident. She had forgotten for the
moment that the former Marcius was no more, and that this was another.
Though the general contour of form and feature was recalled, the hard
lines of brutality and sensuality had disappeared, while those of a manly
and kindly dignity had taken their place. There was a sympathetic light in
his eyes, a calm nobility of demeanor, and a respectful and delicate
consideration which were delightful and unexpected. Even the voice of
well‐remembered harshness was rich, amiable, and friendly.

Rebecca was so astonished at the completeness of the change that a well‐
defined flush upon her cheeks heightened the charm of her appearance. The
severe ordeal which she had consented to undergo from force of
circumstances, and out of consideration for Serenus and Amabel, suddenly
lost its unpleasantness, and composure and self‐command were immediately
regained.

She responded to the hearty greeting, and in a manner of quiet dignity
expressed a cordial thankfulness for his kindness in her timely rescue and
generous hospitality.

Pending the announcement of the serving of the supper, they seated
themselves for a brief converse in the court. Marcius continued to address
Rebecca.

“As a Roman citizen, and especially as Vice Legate of Tarsus, I have much
shame at the cruel persecution which so suddenly broke out against thy
people. It was unforeseen, and care shall be taken that the offence hath
no repetition. But I have a peculiar gladness that my brother Serenus and
I were able to render thee aid in the time of need. But verily it is to
him that the praise is meet. But for his presence and teaching I should
have been elsewhere.”

“Behold, my lord Marcius, he abounded with noble deeds while in Jerusalem.
I could tell thee much concerning certain things that happened there
during my sojourn.”

Serenus interposed,—

“I beseech you, my friends, bestow no undue praise; for if any good cometh
through my hand, it is not I, but the Spirit of Truth which worketh
through me.”

Amabel turned her eyes lovingly upon her husband, and said,—

“Behold I have learned that when the Spirit of Truth taketh possession of
a soul it becometh one with him, so that they are no longer twain! The New
Faith, which is the awakening of the Spirit already within, cometh into
manifestation in the deeds performed.”

Serenus gave her an approving smile. “Thou hast spoken wisely. The inner
or spiritual self is the veritable man, and he waiteth for the
comprehension of the divine sonship.”

“I perceive that the sensuous or flesh‐man is not truly man at all,” said
Marcius. “How all the so‐called philosophies of the world have erred! Doth
it not seem marvellous that I, a Roman, have so soon become convinced of
the truth and beauty of the New Faith? At times I feel doubtful of my
identity, and wonder if I am myself!”

“Thou wert not changed by the logic and reasoning of the intellect,” said
Serenus, “for a religious belief from without is slow and uncertain in its
operation. But when there was commended to thee the natural outworking of
the Godlike image within, anon thou felt the New Faith living in thy
heart, and needed not an argument, after the manner of men.”

Rebecca, turning towards Serenus, and recalling their conversation in the
Holy City, observed,—

“Verily, I believe that from my early youth I have felt some quickening of
the Spirit in the depths of my heart, but knew not what it might be. Being
taught that the faith of the Chosen People was handed down from without,
its ceremonial formality smothered the inner flame. But the touch of thy
faith, which thou gavest me on the day of the mad rush in the Temple
court, kindled a new life of which I had but a dim perception before. And
now, behold since I have been with Amabel, it hath waxed stronger!”

“I am moved to confess,” said Marcius, “that I loathed the manner of my
early life even before I knew Serenus and the New Faith. Once I heard a
voice from beyond the borders of the grave which rebuked me, and showed
plainly the life of the unseen, and that virtue hath its reward, and vice
its natural penalty. Then I became thoughtful, and repented of many of my
evil deeds. But yet I remained long in the ignorance or twilight of Truth,
until the sunlight of the New Faith, which hath come to me through
Serenus, quickly dispelled the darkness that surrounded me. This not so
much by his words of teaching, as by the contagion of the Spirit that
filleth him.”

A summons came from the triclinium, and Marcius arose to conduct them
thither. Being the guest of honor, Rebecca was invited to lead the way
with the host, and they started, side by side, through a spacious
corridor.

“Pardon me, if I confess that thy fair face calleth up some dim fancy of
the past. How deceitful is the imagination, and how confusing!”

The heart of Rebecca gave a great leap, but she maintained the outward
semblance of calmness.

“Of all our faculties perhaps it is the most commonly undisciplined,” she
replied; “but, perchance we may tame and cultivate it, and increase its
usefulness.”

“Thou speakest discreetly. Our new philosophy showeth that when rightly
employed everything is helpful, which must include even the imagination.”

“Yea, I am learning to see the good whichever way I turn. What a joy to
live in a world where we can embellish every person and thing with our
divine thought concerning them!”

When unobserved, Marcius cast another quick, tender glance upon the face
of Rebecca, and finally dismissed all impression of any possible past
meeting. Nothing could be more improbable.

In its place came a peculiar enchantment. Such a revelation of her beauty
burst forth in his soul that it filled him with surprise and delight. But
though her comeliness of person was fascinating, this was unimportant and
superficial. An adoration, and even reverence, filled him, which were
without alloy. His high station had brought before him many proud and
beautiful women of his own nation, who were refined and attractive, but
this modest Hebrew maiden almost seemed to belong to another planet. His
soul was uplifted in a transport of delight. Every step by her side gave
him the feeling that he was upon consecrated ground.

These thoughts and experiences flashed through his mind with the force and
rapidity of a tropical tempest.

He stepped over a boundary line into a delectable land almost before he
was aware of it. The paradise discovered was Love. Such a love he had
never before known. Devotion of a depth and power of which he would have
been utterly incapable at any previous time sprung up within him. What was
rank, position, wealth, or even outward grace! His soul arose from its
former state to the full adoration of neighboring soul‐beauty. Until now
he never had known the nature of real love.

As they passed through the last portal into the triclinium, Marcius was
strangely silent and abstracted. The world had been made over, and all
things were new since leaving the atrium a few minutes before.

The repast, though perfect in quality, was simple rather than
ostentatious. Marcius, with a fine instinct, had already learned, and even
felt, that the exponents of the New Faith, while thoroughly appreciative
of beauty, were quiet in their tastes, and carried their moderation into
all things.

There was a profusion of flowers, and an abundance of handsome
appointments, but no lares or penates upon the table, neither were any
libations poured to the gods. But when all had reclined in their places,
there was a brief interval of silent thanks and aspiration with bowed
heads, which was spontaneous rather than formal. The supper was not a
feast so much as an occasion of friendly and joyful converse, serving as a
pleasant recognition of Rebecca’s escape and recovery.

Marcius, whose enthusiasm for the new light which so signally had come to
him was unwearied, soon desired to resume the discussion which they had
begun in the atrium.

“While I joy in the power of the truth that thrills me through and
through, there are certain things of which I fain would make further
inquiry,” said he to Serenus.

“I too would gladly receive further witness of the truth,” said Rebecca.

“Behold one is straitened to set forth the doctrine of the Spirit in the
language of men,” said Serenus. “It is a hidden life, and being veiled,
only can be made known through parables and symbols. It dwelleth in the
heart too deep for the persuasiveness of speech.”

“How unlike the learning of the schools!” said Marcius.

“Yea; words and writings which concern the bodily sensations of men, and
the things that are without and seen, are multiplied, while the things of
the spirit are silently digged out of the depths of the soul.”

“After what manner was the teaching of the great prophet of Nazareth?”

“Through symbols and parables! Nay, even more through his life and
example, and by means of the outward signs, ministries, and miracles which
witnessed the divinity that was within him.”

“Have all men the same divinity?”

“All in their real being are sons of God, but being ignorant of their
sonship, have not unfolded it into outward manifestation. It is like a
seed, containing life, but not yet quickened into outward form and
fruitfulness. Man is only perfected as man, in the degree that he
expresses God.”

“Why are men so slow in their progress upward?”

“Chiefly because they think themselves to be bodies rather than what they
really are,—spirits having present bodily articulation.”

“In other words, thou wouldst say, that having only a fleshly
consciousness, they perform the works of the flesh, ignorant of the spirit
or real self which hath not yet received a quickening.”

“Thou hast spoken it plainly. The works of the flesh are mischievous,
selfish, hateful, and corrupting, while those of the Spirit are peace,
joy, love, and purity. So long as men think themselves carnal in their
being, the corresponding works will follow. Every kind of thought and
belief bringeth forth a harvest of its own kind.”

“If I rightly apprehend,” said Marcius, “thou dost not set forth that the
body is evil in itself?”

“Nay! the body, as the temple and expression of the Spirit, is an holy
building, sanctified and honorable. But to be after that manner it must be
man’s servant, and not his master. It may render a delightful service, or
be a deadly tyrant! Shall the clay rule the potter?”

“Whence come its weaknesses and sicknesses?”

“From the prevailing bodily consciousness which giveth man the feeling
that he must perish. He is therefore filled with thoughts, fears, and
beliefs of ill which bring forth a universal fruitage of their own kind.
Man therefore bows himself in servitude to these, his own creations, and
ignorantly thinketh that they are sent by God.”

“How are they to be put away?”

“By thinking upon the things that pertain to the spiritual selfhood, and
consciously ruling and harmonizing the bodily instrument. The body is a
living epistle, setting forth the quality of the life, mind, and soul, of
which it is the visible result and correspondence. It is the spoken word
of the thought of man!”

“Wilt thou interpret to us a miracle?” said Rebecca, who had followed
every word of the conversation with great interest.

“A miracle is a name which men give to any unwonted demonstration of power
which is above and beyond their common understanding. Miracles may be
wrought as signs of spiritual verity, or exercised in works of love and
mercy.”

“Do they require the special and direct intervention of the one and
supreme God of all the earth?” inquired Marcius.

“Nay; but rather an intelligent conformity to his wise and unchanging
laws, only the lower domain of which is commonly understood.”

“We believe that thou canst perform works which to the eyes of the world
would seem miraculous!” said Marcius with fulness of heart.

Rebecca’s eyes were moist with emotion, and her features lighted up with
grateful interest as she added,—

“I am persuaded that Serenus and Amabel can do wonderful works! Of a
surety many weeks would have passed before my perfect healing had not
their ministry blessed me.”

“In proportion to the measure of faith and wisdom which one can bring into
exercise, he can perform the works. They who make themselves fit channels
for the universal and abounding Life to flow through, will be meet to
minister effectually to the ills of the souls and bodies of men. Until the
time cometh when each can fully work out his own salvation, it behooveth
us to strengthen the weak, raise the fallen, and heal the sick, as we have
opportunity. We must needs beware of thinking any manner of evil, for
ourselves or others, whether pertaining to soul or body.”

“Why hath not the New Faith spread more rapidly, since it was proclaimed
in its purity by the prophet of Nazareth?” said Marcius. “It would appear
that such a gospel would be received everywhere!”

“The world is not yet ready to discover the beauty and power of a
spiritual faith. Religion, to the Roman, Greek, Hebrew, or barbarian, doth
not signify a new and richer life, but some system, ceremony, sacrifice,
or oblation. These have little moulding power, and have to do with the
outer rather than the inner man. Religions of belief and tradition are
many, but of the Spirit there is but one.”

“Cometh not such systems from the darkened and vain beliefs concerning God
or the gods?” said Rebecca.

“Yea, verily! Both the Elohim and Yehovah of the Hebrews, and the many
gods of other nations, have been invested with human passions, so that
they must needs be appeased or propitiated. Thence cometh the universal
dread and fear of an All‐Powerful One, and the innumerable expiations,
atonements, rites, oblations, and libations, so that peradventure some
favors might be vouchsafed by a Deity or deities whose ruling disposition
is that of anger. Men are not drawn by their fears, but through their
loves. As the Omnipresent Love—the true God—cometh into recognition, the
hearts of all will melt into oneness with him, and the children of men be
lifted out of their fears, sorrows, sins, and sicknesses.”

“How plain; and yet how men are blinded to this great principle!” said
Marcius. “My former life seemeth like a delusive dream, in that I have not
before been awakened to the truth. I see that as man’s concept of God
becometh purified, he is gradually transformed into his image.”

“Thou hast well described the very corner‐stone of the divine life and
perfection of man. To securely lay this was the work of the Man of
Galilee. But verily the spirit of his advent hath been commonly darkened,
not only by his enemies, but by many of his avowed followers.”

“How long, thinkest thou, O Serenus, will evil prevail on the earth?”

“Behold no evil ruleth the earth, for that which so appeareth is but the
early, imperfect, and unripened Good. Only the eye of the impure can
behold the impure. God is too pure to behold iniquity, for all things are
working out, in due time, the universal Perfection. To our dim vision it
seemeth slow, but time is but a sensuous limitation. All things, whether
in heaven, earth, or hades, are working together, yea, are in travail, for
the manifestation of the sons of God.”

“What is the teaching of the New Faith concerning life beyond the grave?”
inquired Rebecca.

“There is but one life, and man never enters the grave. All the false
traditions and beliefs concerning it have come from the carnal or fleshly
slavery into which men have sold themselves. The earth taketh back to its
bosom the handful of dust which man hath gathered to himself for a brief
season. He tests his soul upon it, and it outwardly marks his own and the
general belief touching it. We cast off coarse and worn‐out garments for
those of finer and richer texture.”

“Dost thou believe that the more subtile or ethereal body is already
enclosed within the seen form?”

“I am so persuaded. But in the fulness of time the grave will be closed,
and man will walk forth in freedom. Then will he gain such a spiritual
consciousness as to be able, little by little, to transmute and refine his
crude visibility into a finer and more enduring organism. That which is
called death then will have served its purpose.”

“Thou hast made us glad by thy words of wisdom,” said Rebecca. “We fain
will let this light shine in the darkness which surrounds us, dividing the
word of Truth discreetly among those who are open to receive it.”

“Yea,” said Marcius; “we can speak effectually through our lives and
deeds, and also by word of teaching wherever there is an open door.”

The repast was concluded, and the guests separated.

“What an evening of gladness!” said Amabel. “Art thou not pleased, dear
Rebecca, that we were bidden?”

“I have had unwonted joy and profit in the friendly converse and warm
hospitality. What a noble Roman is Marcius! his whole heart seems filled
with the New Faith!”

“Yea,” said Serenus. “The seed of the Word hath sprung up quickly within
him because he was in readiness. Men everywhere hunger for the simple
bread of life, but how often stones are set before them!”

Marcius retired to his cubiculum, but slumber refused to be wooed by his
eyelids. Whether in the light or darkness, the pure, beautiful face of
Rebecca stood out before him. To him she was a saint,—a fitting embodiment
of a seraphic spirit in womanly form. His mind was filled with a rushing
procession of unwonted thoughts,—

“Blessed be the New Faith, which not only hath healed the restlessness of
my former state, but yielded this vision of beauty! Blessed be Serenus!
and blessed above all be the God of all the earth!

“Can she ever love me, who am but the remnant of a wasted life? Nay, not
so! Serenus says we have divinity within us, and the destiny of sons of
God! What an inspiration! I knew not what I was, but now have found
myself!

“Can I presume to win such a love as that of Rebecca? Peradventure, it
hath been bestowed upon one of her own nation!

“Behold the wonder of Tarsus should the Vice Legate wed a Hebrew! A
deposition from Cæsar! The contempt of the city! I care not! My life I
give to the New Faith!

“Again that vision of loveliness cometh over me! Never before have I known
love, but only its semblance! Naught but the New Faith could reveal and
interpret its bliss!”

When Marcius finally resigned himself to the wooing of Morpheus, his
visions were paradisiacal, beatific, elysian.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

A few evenings later Leander called his trusted slave Metopus to his
presence.

“Dost thou know well Colurus, a servitor in the palace of Marcius?”

“I have known him long, my lord!”

“Thinkest thou that he regardeth gold?”

“I doubt it not, my lord! Its glitter dazzles his eyes!”

“Thy loyalty I know to be steadfast, Metopus. I have a secret errand. Dost
thou sometimes meet Colurus?”

“We shall meet to‐night at the games. What wouldst thou?”

Leander drew from beneath the fold of his tunic the small shining phial
containing the potion, and also a purse of gold.

“I would have this potion administered to the Vice Legate! It hath no
taste nor smell, and may be mixed in any of his drinks without suspicion.”

Metopus gave a knowing wink to his master.

“And will he fall down when he hath swallowed it? Perchance our footprints
could not be covered!”

“Ha! thou sayest well, but I am no fool!”

“Nay, I have served thee too long not to know thy wisdom!”

“Its power worketh very slowly, so that no consequence can ever be
discovered.”

“Not only a poet and an orator, my master, but a veritable wonder‐worker!”

“Spare thy applause for this time, Metopus! I say to thee that a slow
decline, which cometh only with months and years, seemeth natural.”

“I understand.”

“Give the gold and the potion to Colurus, and swear, by the visage of
Apollo, that no harm will ever be traceable! Nay, tell any story that
seemeth expedient, for thou art cunning!”

The plot was carried out in every detail.

Time rolled on. The disciples of the New Faith increased in number, and
ere long included the father and mother of Rebecca. Their meetings were
frequent, and though held quietly, were without special secrecy. They
usually assembled at the rooms of Serenus, but sometimes at the residence
of Benoni.



                              CHAPTER XXXI
                              IN DEEP WATERS


                        “Yet I argue not
            Against Heav’n’s hand or will, nor bate a jot
            Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer
            Right onward.”


The days and nights in the cave glided by rapidly and serenely with Saulus
and Amoz. The stillness of the place, the beauty and grandeur of the
mountains and valleys, the companionship of wild animals and birds, the
luxuriance of verdure and blossom, and the sublime view of the distant sea
which the heights afforded,—all were ministrant to soul‐growth and
inspiration. Much time was also given to a reinterpretation of the law and
sacred writings of the prophets, copies of which had been brought with
them.

At intervals Saulus made short journeys to the shepherd villages in the
adjacent country, and as occasion afforded began to teach and preach the
New Faith to such of the scattered herdsmen as were within reach. This was
but a light labor, and he counted his experience as an easy school in the
practice and power of the great work of the future towards which he was
already looking with earnest anticipation. Only the consciousness of a
rapidly growing capacity to teach, and the favorable circumstances for the
building up of an unwonted spiritual energy and equipment, reconciled his
intense and untiring soul to a continuance of the sojourn in the desert.

In the decision of Cassia, Saulus increasingly realized that a weight had
been lifted from the freedom and usefulness of his future life, and
although some yearnings of heart were not easily stilled, his mastery over
them grew more complete. In the broader and more harmonious disposition of
soul which he now commanded, he was astonished and humiliated as he looked
back at the wonderful charm which the untaught and impulsive daughter of
Almon formerly possessed for him. He had left forever behind the fantasy
and unregulated passion which in time past raged within his soul, and was
now able to view life in its true and broadened perspective.

In due time he received a letter from Rebecca which warmed his heart. It
ran as follows:—



                                                    _Chisleu, XXIVth day._
                                                 “HOUSE OF BENONI, TARSUS.

“O my dear Saulus!

“Peace, joy, and warm greetings to thee, my brother!

“Thy letter from a cave of Horeb, in the wilderness of Arabia, hath come
to my hand, and it rejoiceth my heart unspeakably!

“O Saulus! _thou_ a disciple of the New Faith! Do not mine eyes deceive
me? What a marvel hath God wrought! Behold his loving mercy endureth
forever! The Spirit of Truth was in and around thee, and would not be put
away until it touched and melted thy heart. And the love of my soul also
went with thee, even in thy persecutions, and would not be satisfied until
thou wast awakened and didst come to thyself.

“Behold I have such an abundance of good tidings to give thee that of a
surety my epistle will gladden thy heart, even as thy message from the
cave made us rejoice greatly. Many unwonted events have come to pass in
our native city, some of which I will briefly recount.

“When thou didst banish the noble Serenus from the Holy City, Amabel, the
daughter of Gamaliel, upon her release, became his wife and fled with him,
and returned not to her father’s house. They journeyed to Cæsarea and took
ship for Tarsus, on the way to Rome, toward which they had set their
faces. The vessel was sunk in the depths of the sea, but behold every soul
on board was saved and brought to Tarsus by the Vice Legate, whose ship
chanced to be near at hand. And now I make known unto thee the most
marvellous thing of all. Through the faithful devotion and teaching of
Serenus and Amabel, both the Vice Legate and our father and mother have
become disciples of the New Faith. I am persuaded that thy heart will leap
for joy when these tidings meet thine eyes! An iniquitous outbreak of
persecution in Tarsus, which seemed only evil, was blessed in the ripening
of this good harvest.

“On the day of a great festival in the temple and gardens of Apollo, when
the throng was great in the streets, our people were cruelly set upon as
they came from the services of the synagogue. It arose from a lying rumor,
and came so swiftly that many of the Hebrews were wounded or faint from
flight before they could reach their habitations. Thus it chanced with our
father and mother, but before many days they were fully restored.

“The rabble sorely bruised and trampled upon my body, and peradventure I
should have perished, but in my flight, Marcius, the Vice Legate, and
Serenus saved me from their hands. They brought me to the dwelling‐place
of Amabel, which is connected with the Legate’s palace. Through her
ministration, with that of Serenus, I was speedily healed.

“Marcius is a noble Roman whose heart is warmed by the New Faith, and his
kindness to Serenus and Amabel, and even to me, hath been continuous. The
members of the household of the higher life in Tarsus are increasing in
number, and all have much gladness in the freedom of the Truth. Our
gatherings for mutual converse, encouragement, and communion with the
Spirit are often held at the house of our father Benoni, and the Vice
Legate hath been here with the others.

“The life and teaching of the great prophet of Nazareth are faithfully set
before us by Serenus, and faith, love, and spiritual singleness are
strengthened and multiplied. Some who were sick have been healed, the lame
made to walk, evil spirits cast out, and the whole gospel of salvation
proclaimed to such as have ears to hear. Outward signs and works of mercy
give abundant witness to the working of the power of God within.

“All have great joy in the letter which thou didst send, and hope shortly
that they may behold thy face in thy native city.

“Serenus sendeth his warm brotherly greetings, and our father and mother
have great comfort in their hearts concerning thy latter course.

“Peace and blessing be multiplied to thee!

                                                                “REBECCA.”



Tears of joy coursed down the cheeks of Saulus as he finished reading the
letter. He folded it to his bosom, went out of the cave, and made his way
up to a frequented seat upon the heights.

The late afternoon sun, not too hot, softly gilded the surrounding
Sinaitic peaks, and kindled a golden radiance upon the vast expanse of the
distant Red Sea in the west. Every tree, plant, blossom, and bird seemed
to be rejoicing in the rich, warm glow which bathed heaven and earth with
its beauty.

The objective world was the fitting symbol and correspondence of the joy
and fruition which flooded and enlarged the soul of Saulus. The message
from Rebecca softened and melted the few hard vestiges of his former
state, and the tender greeting from Serenus caused a great upheaval of
love and thanksgiving. The dark clouds of past memories were dissolved and
scattered by the warm sunshine from Tarsus.

To Saulus the light of God was within and without, and each seemed but a
varying aspect of one continuous and many‐sided Revelation. Man was the
crown of Nature, and in him its apex towered up until it touched and
became one with its Author. How shrunken, mean, and unlovely the life of
the past, which was now dimmed and even overflowed by the privileges and
possibilities of the future which were unfolded before him.

A procession of months went by, and the time arrived when Saulus,
strengthened and confirmed in spirit and power by his long retirement, was
ready and eager to enter again the busy world of men. Any hardship, or
even persecution, which he might meet would not discourage, but rather
stimulate, his activity. Like other great souls who have recognized
eternal principles, he knew that the progress of Truth was hastened by
opposition. To encounter indifference would be far worse, but this could
not be. A man whose inner nature is at a white heat must and will arouse
antagonism. Error smarts when revealed by the rays of Truth. There can be
no truce. Enthusiasm begets other enthusiasm, which may be either for or
against itself, but in its presence stagnation is impossible. One earnest
soul stored with the dynamics of Faith will accomplish more than a
thousand whose spiritual outgoings are feeble and uncertain.

Saulus was deeply moved as he finally left the secluded dwelling‐place
which had been hallowed by so many profitable experiences, and the scene
of so much soul‐growth. But the fulness of time had come, and with Amoz he
gladly set out upon the long journey. After an uneventful crossing of the
desert they reached Damascus in due season.

Making their way to the house of Ananias, they were hospitably received.
Saulus lost no time in visiting the synagogues, and immediately began to
preach the higher life in spiritual simplicity as it had been proclaimed
by Jesus.

The Jewish Hellenists and proselytes were numerous in Damascus, and up to
the time of the arrival of Saulus, the liberal party, including those who
had nominally accepted the New Faith, lived in mutual toleration with the
bigoted school of the _Halacha_, which was much more powerful. But now the
dry bones were shaken. Soon the burning and unanswerable arguments of
Saulus awoke a storm of angry opposition. The slumber in dead forms was
rudely ended, and fierce persecution began.

Ananias and the little band of liberal Jews found themselves utterly
unable to quiet the storm which this dangerous intruder aroused. It was as
if Stephanos had arisen and come back to shatter the self‐sufficiency and
deadness of ceremonialism, and now, as in his time, religious intolerance
burst aflame.

The life of Saulus was demanded. The Ethnarch of the city, who commanded
the garrison, being in sympathy with the persecution, lent his aid to the
conspiracy to end the career of the over‐zealous young heretic. The gates
of the city were watched night and day to prevent his escape. Was his work
to be brought to a close before it had fairly begun?

Not another day must pass or it would be too late to save him. There was a
hurried consultation of his friends. Happy thought! the house of one of
them abutted upon the city wall! The plot may yet be frustrated! He is
secretly conducted to this house in the evening. The night is dark, and
the sentry passes but infrequently! A little knot of faithful friends with
anxious hearts are on the watch! A large basket held by a strong rope
hangs out of the window over the wall. All is still, and Saulus steps in.
The sentry goes by, and now strong hands lower the basket, down, down,
carefully but swiftly. It reaches the ground!

By previous understanding Amoz is not far away, and arm in arm they go out
into the darkness. Surely an ignominious beginning!

One warm afternoon a few weeks later Saulus and Amoz approached the
Damascus Gate of the Holy City. Though hot and weary from their journey,
as they came near its end they were imbued with new life and courage.

In many of the towns and villages through which they had come Saulus
discoursed in the synagogues, but made no lengthy sojourn, as he was
anxious to reach Jerusalem and confer with Peter, Barnabas, and other
disciples of the New Faith.

As they entered the well‐remembered portal, Saulus was reminded of the
brilliant cavalcade at the head of which he formerly passed out, as
compared with his unheralded return on foot with but one of his many
companions. But despite the contrast, a great flood of thankfulness filled
his heart.

A multitude of strange thoughts crowded upon him as his eyes rested again
upon familiar places and scenes. Should he show his face boldly, or for a
while avoid his old friends and companions?

What of Cassia and the household of Almon, his comrades of the _Urim_, the
Rabban, and the Sanhedrin?

Here was the Lyceum, where he had hotly contended for the hard dogmas of
the Jewish law; here the many places where he had scourged men, women, and
children; and here the prison whose cruel doors, at his command, had
closed upon Serenus, Amabel, and the rest of the congregation of the Upper
Chamber. He felt like a stranger from some far country, and the past
flitted before him as a dark and terrible dream from which he had newly
awakened.

Somewhat changed in appearance and costume, he passed through several
streets unrecognized, finally turning into the courtyard of a dwelling
where he had been told in Damascus he would find Peter and Barnabas. Amoz,
after an affectionate farewell, left him to seek some of his own kinsfolk
who dwelt in another part of the city.

In response to a knock at the door of the house of Peter, it was opened by
a maid, who when she saw his face uttered a loud cry, and shrank back
affrighted into the house. Then Peter’s wife came quickly to see what had
happened. She too looked upon the well‐remembered features, exclaiming
with great fear and agitation,—

“Thou art Saulus! Hast thou returned to take us to prison?”

“Nay, I bring peace to this house! I am no more a persecutor, but of the
New Faith! I pray thee, is Peter within?”

Peter’s wife suspected craftiness, and did not believe him, but stood
trembling, not knowing how to make reply.

“Peter is not within!” said she after some hesitation.

“I might have expected that all would flee from me!” said Saulus, half to
himself. “A righteous retribution!” Then, continuing in an earnest and
friendly tone, he said,—

“Of a surety I am now a follower of the Nazarene!”

Peter’s wife still hesitated, not knowing what to believe, and Saulus
turned sorrowfully away, saying,—

“Tell Peter that I love the brethren! I will come again after his return.”

The maid had escaped from the house, and quickly warned the faithful who
lived in the neighborhood. Many fled from their homes, taking their
children with them, believing that, as Saulus had returned, a new
persecution was at hand. Consternation reigned, and word was sent out
among the disciples in other parts of the city that they were again to be
harassed and hunted down.

Saulus was sorely grieved when he left the house of Peter. He was counted
an enemy among his friends. He almost wished himself back in the desert.

It was now evening, and not expedient to visit Peter’s house before the
morrow. He walked aimlessly along the street hardly knowing what to do,
but being weary, and seeing a small inn near by, entered, thinking to
sojourn for the night. After removing the dust and sweat of the journey,
and partaking of a light supper, he walked out to enjoy the cool of the
evening, and calm his troubled thoughts. The moon was bright, the air
soft, the streets crowded, and the sound of voices and laughter echoed
from the house‐tops.

What a contrast with the desert and cave! What a great network, and even
tangle, of disagreeing interests, systems, opinions, and religions! How
sorely the world needed the resolving and transforming power of the new
life, and a knowledge of the higher law! Selfishness, prejudice,
sensuality, and devotion to the seen and temporal, everywhere dominant!
What a change in himself, and in his interpretation of life!

As these reflections coursed through his mind, he found himself at the
entrance of one of the public gardens which skirted the slope of Mount
Moriah. The spicy odor of plant and blossom lent a charm to the place, and
being in a meditative mood, he entered and seated himself in a retired
corner of one of the bowers. Groups of people were all around, some seated
and others promenading, seeking the enjoyment of social converse and
recreation. Occasional peals of laughter and snatches of song gave
evidence of the light‐heartedness of the children of the Orient.

But Saulus was wrapped in a more profound revery. With a heart full of
love he had come to bear a great blessing to the Holy City, but none would
receive it. To his old friends he was now a renegade and traitor, while to
his new brethren he was a terror and a cause of offence. O ungrateful
world! With head bowed between his hands, the hot tears could not be held
back.

A young man and woman from among the promenaders sat down near him.
Although they were hard by, a partial partition of vines intervened,
effectually secluding him. He started to arise, but could not retreat
without passing directly before them in the full moonlight to the entrance
of the bower. Moreover, the conversation could not concern him, so he kept
his seat.

“Thou seemest sad, and not like thyself to‐night, my Cassia!”

Saulus was thunderstruck. But to fly would be to reveal his identity.

There was no response. The voice continued,—

“The last full moon witnessed our marriage feast, and behold the light of
this revealeth thy sadness!”

“Peradventure thou judgest not rightly, Ezra!”

“Why, then, hast thou become silent? I hear no more thy wonted cheerful
converse! thou art downcast!”

“To‐night I am given to meditation!”

“Have I given thee offence?”

“I have made no complaint!”

“But why so unhappy, Cassia? Dost thou not love thy husband?”

“Oh, question me not! I feel strangely to‐night!” she exclaimed rather
petulantly.

“Have I done aught to offend thee?”

“I have no condemnation!”

“As thy husband, I rightfully claim to know why thou art disquieted.”

“I cannot reveal my thoughts! Let me be silent!”

“Thou dost set thy face against me, Cassia!” he exclaimed with some
earnestness.

“Rebuke me not, I pray thee! If I am disconsolate, it lieth not within me
to be otherwise!”

“Why didst thou become my wife, if my presence is disquieting?”

“I have made no such accusation!”

“Aha!” he exclaimed bitterly. “I am persuaded that thy thoughts turn
towards thy former lover, Saulus!”

“For shame, Ezra! thou speakest foolishness!”

“Thou canst not deny it!”

“Thou art cruel, and dost not love me!” The tone was that of impatient
reproach.

“Thou hast deceived me! I am persuaded that there is love in thy heart for
Saulus! Thou declared unto me that thou didst hold him in contempt!”

“Thou knowest not to the contrary!”

“Thou hast betrayed thyself, Cassia! I would that thou hadst given thyself
to the mad heretic, and that mine eyes had never beheld thy comely but
false face!”

Frantic weeping, moans, and flighty laughter gave evidence that Cassia had
suddenly become moonstruck or hysterical.

“O Saulus! why did I scorn thee? O Saulus! Saulus! I seem to feel thy
presence—near—me—even—now! O Saulus! Saulus!”



                              CHAPTER XXXII
                           SCOURGING AND FLIGHT


On the following morning Saulus was up betimes, after a restless night,
which was marked by dreams and visions of varying import.

It would be unreasonable to expect that as yet he was able to put under
foot all adversities, and continually dwell upon the heights of a
spiritual consciousness. Even in a great and lofty soul, Adam dies hard,
and in an intense nature he fights desperately for his life, and has many
apparent resurrections. Spiritual evolution has its ebb and flow, and
except from a broad point of view its declensions often appear to be
enduring. As with material structures, if the work projected is to reach
beyond the hidden foundation, it must needs wait until the latter is
broadened.

While Saulus had a good measure of the same spirit which filled the great
Prophet of Nazareth, he also had an earnest desire during his stay in the
Holy City to learn more of the particulars of the Master’s outward life.

At the rising of the sun he set out for Golgotha. He fain would stand upon
the spot of the great Martyrdom. Even the hallowed ground, with its
associations, would be a means of inspiration to one like Saulus. As he
reached the skull‐shaped hill, the sun was shining brightly, the air clear
and soft, and the whole scene quiet and peaceful. He felt a benediction!

How much the great Tragedy that was here consummated signifies to the
world! How the outgoing circles of spiritual life and love ever pulsate
from this centre! No nation is too remote to be washed and beat upon by
its outgoing waves, for a divine discontent never permits of stagnation!

Golgotha, or the hill of Calvary, was a peculiarly sacred place to the
disciples, and they often resorted to its summit for converse and
meditation.

As Saulus lingered, busy with the thoughts of the past and questions of
the future, a man, apparently having the same purpose, came near. Lo, it
was Barnabas!

They beheld each other, face to face, and surprise was pictured upon the
features of both.

“And _thou_ here, Saulus!” said Barnabas, involuntarily drawing back with
trepidation.

“O Barnabas, hear me! I love thee and all the brethren!” Stepping forward,
he embraced his old friend, saluting him warmly.

“_Saulus_ numbered among the disciples!” said Barnabas, putting his hands
upon his shoulders and earnestly looking into his face, still hardly able
to believe the truth.

“As I live,” said Saulus, “my heart hath been warmed by the New Faith! Oh,
receive my testimony!”

“I doubt no more, and rejoice in thy behalf. Accept a brother’s welcome!”

Falling on each other’s necks, they had great joy in a fellowship of faith
and love.

After a season of delightful converse, they started, arm in arm, for the
city. Barnabas gladly went with Saulus to the house of Peter, and set him
and the other disciples aright concerning their former persecutor.

“Thou sayest,” said Saulus, “that the churches have peace, and are
edified, and walk in the comfort of the Spirit! Hath the Sanhedrin ceased
all persecution against them?”

“Of late it seemeth to have given little heed to us, so we have in no wise
been disquieted. They have not hindered us from teaching that Jesus was
indeed a great Prophet.”

“How is it that their bitterness hath been put away?”

“Peradventure that Gamaliel and other of the liberal Jews counselled that
we be let alone until our doctrine came to naught, and also because the
disciples in great measure have returned to a conformity to the wonted
ordinances and ceremonies.”

A shadow passed over the face of Saulus.

“Dost thou not count such a conformity as a fellowship with dead works? I
am minded that the gospel should be separate, and that the household of
the New Faith should be counted no longer as a Jewish sect!”

“It hath seemed expedient to some that for the present the ordinances be
continued for the sake of peace, but verily I am persuaded that our
spiritual life hath been deadened thereby, and its power diminished. Now
that thou art here to cast in thy lot with us, our zeal may be warmed, and
we receive a quickening.”

It seems probable that the Sanhedrin had come to regard the church of
Peter, James, and John as but one more sect added to the complex Jewish
economy, which was willing to continue the established ritual. But in the
movement of Jesus, and afterward of Stephanos and Saulus, it discerned a
disturbing and vital force which in due time would logically supplant
Judaism through the establishment of a religion radically different.

It was not difficult for Barnabas to reconcile the disciples to Saulus,
for not only was his sincerity manifest, but his earnest aggressiveness in
their behalf was bold and untiring.

The law of specific gravity among souls is no less invariable and
operative than with fluids and solids. If a born commander be placed in
the ranks of the private, he will not remain, for all the laws of the
universe conspire to lift him into his fitting niche. The moral and
spiritual dynamics of a great soul can no more stay pent up than the
forces that stir a volcano into activity. The advent of Saulus into the
Holy City ended all indifference and stagnation, and soon the various
elements were glowing at a white heat.

But a few days elapsed after his arrival before he began teaching and
preaching in the synagogues. Among all the enemies who sprung up to oppose
his work and persecute him, none were more bitter and unrelenting than his
former comrades of the _Urim_. These were the same who once had glorified
him beyond measure.

The dignified Sanhedrin for the time was disposed to close its official
ears to the work of their former agent and instrument, doubtless having in
mind their moral discomfiture at the trial of Stephanos. They thought it
more politic to leave the rabble to deal with him through some sudden
outbreak than to take formal cognizance of his heresies through the
procedure of a regular trial.

Saulus boldly entered into the synagogues of the Hellenists, and
eloquently commended the New Faith, contrasting its power and beauty with
the traditions, ordinances, and dead works of the Temple service.

One afternoon at a meeting in the synagogue of the Cyrenians, Saulus
essayed to make an address according to previous announcement. It was in
the same room where Stephanos had spoken with such zeal, and from which he
had been dragged to trial and condemned.

Upon this occasion the enemies of Saulus gathered in strength, the members
of the _Urim_, by secret understanding occupying the front seats,
thoroughly organized for offensive action. He had been warned of trouble
by the more prudent of his friends, but would not consent to abate one jot
of his stirring presentation of the new gospel, and the contrasting
hollowness of the whole ceremonial system.

For a full hour before the opening of the service the synagogue was
crowded, and a dense throng gathered outside. At length the exercises
began. Saulus arose to speak, but had hardly uttered a sentence before
there was such a tumult that his voice could not be heard. He beckoned for
silence, but the uproar continued. At length he picked up a roll of the
law to read from the prophets, and the gathering, willing to show some
respect to their Scriptures, was quieted. He read the following passages
from Isaiah:—


    “‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?
    saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the
    fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or
    of lambs, or of he‐goats.... Your new moons and your appointed
    feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to
    bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine
    eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear:
    your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away
    the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
    learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the
    fatherless, plead for the widow.... He was oppressed, yet he
    humbled himself, and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led
    to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb;
    yea, he opened not his mouth.’


“Behold what the Lord saith through the lips of Isaiah concerning
sacrifices, and burnt offerings of rams, and the blood of lambs and he‐
goats! The voice of the prophet bringeth judgment and condemnation to this
generation! Wash you, and make yourselves clean through the gospel of the
New Faith! Again, behold what Isaiah saith concerning the Messias who
should arise in the fulness of time! ‘By oppression and judgment he was
taken away, but there was no deceit in his mouth.’ Behold its fulfilment
in the Nazarene!”

Laughing scornfully, they cried out,—

“Cursed be thy mouth! The Nazarene was an impostor, and no Messias!”

Listening no longer, they rushed madly forward, and dragged him from the
reading‐desk.

“The scourge! the scourge! the scourge!” shouted angry voices from all
parts of the synagogue.

Looking steadfastly into the malignant faces which surrounded him, a
mingled expression of dignity, compassion, and contempt was upon his
countenance. The spiritual exaltation of his soul so overshadowed his
bodily consciousness that he felt no fear, and neither he nor his friends
offered any resistance to the howling mob which threatened him.

It was one of those upheavals with which history is crowded, which have
taken place among nearly all races and religions. There is no crime nor
indignity that has not again and again been committed by religious bigotry
gilded by assumed dutiful consecration.

Their decision was spontaneous, and Saulus was taken away without legal
formality or deliberation. Through the irony of fate, he was led outside
the gates to the same spot where Stephanos had been stoned under his own
supervision.

Tying both of his hands to a column, they proceeded as was usual in cases
of punishment by the scourge. The leaders tore down his robe until his
breast and shoulders were laid bare, then the _Chazzan_ of the synagogue,
as was customary, was selected to administer the flagellation. The scourge
was composed of two thongs of ass’s hide which passed through a hole in
the handle. Standing on a block of stone behind the prisoner, the
executioner wielded the blows with all the force of one hand, thirteen
times on the breast, and thirteen back of each shoulder—in all, forty,
save one.

Although there had been no formal trial and condemnation, the usual custom
in cases of scourging was followed. Three judges were chosen,—one reading
the prescribed passages from the law while the punishment was being
inflicted, the second numbering the blows, the third giving the order
before each blow, “_Hakkehu_” (strike him). Even in the methods of a mob
the slavish literalism and ingrained devotion to traditional detail were
not lacking.

Though the scourging was given in full measure, Saulus was not greatly
overcome. Before the first blow fell he passed into such a spiritual
ecstasy that little consciousness of the body or of painful sensation was
manifest.

Among a little group of women who gathered to witness the punishment was
Cassia, who as the blows fell had alternations of hysterical weeping and
laughter. She insisted upon being present, and could not be dissuaded. The
most opposite emotions possessed her. After the scourging, but before
Saulus was led away, a look of recognition passed between them.

He was silent!

“The stripes were well laid on, and thou hast thy just reward!” she cried
with a loud, scornful voice; then, bursting, into tears and groans, she
was led away by her friends. Hatred and love, burning in their severity,
struggled within her for mastery, but the former was victorious.

Saulus rapidly recovered from his punishment, and utterly undaunted by his
experience, again began preaching and teaching. But the brethren became
apprehensive for his life, and also feared that another general
persecution might begin. Though holding his power and zeal in great
respect, they advised his immediate retirement from the Holy City. But he
was reluctant to follow their counsel. Soon a well‐matured plot among the
members of the _Urim_ came to the knowledge of the brethren, and they yet
more strongly urged his flight. But as it seemed like an abandonment of
his long‐cherished plans, and a dishonor to the cause which was so all
important, he still lingered.

On the day before a whispered conspiracy was to have been consummated,
Saulus retired to a quiet place for spiritual communion and guidance. He
had trusted the inner Voice before, and been led aright, why not in the
present strait? The intensity of his desire and emotion ended in a
vision.(13) He entered into a state where a broadened outlook of
condition, duty, and privilege was opened before him. The dark curtain
which made the future obscure and perplexing was parted, and a highway,
leading forward, illumined and made plain.

The inner Voice said,—

“Depart, for I will send thee forth afar unto the Gentiles!”

History is ever repeating itself. Persecution of the Truth scatters its
seed and multiplies its influence.

Saulus hastily escaped from Jerusalem, being conducted by his brethren as
far as Cæsarea on his way to Tarsus.



                             CHAPTER XXXIII
                    A PRIESTESS OF THE TARSIAN TEMPLE


            “How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
            Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
            Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
            O, in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose!”


A day of extreme heat was closing in Tarsus. The heavens were like
burnished brass, and the sultry air glowed as if newly discharged from the
mouth of a furnace. The sun had dropped behind a heavy mass of leaden
clouds, tinged with crimson, which hung ominously over the distant range
of the western Taurus, though the horizon above the city was still clear.
The torrid radiation from the dark paving‐stones had arisen in quivering
waves every hour of the long day, and penetrated alike palace and hut.

Marcius was seated in his private library in an absorbed though somewhat
restless temper of mind. There are times when the soul is lifted out of
the petty routine of every‐day living, and thus loosened from present
environment, it soars abroad among scenes and recognitions long past, or,
anon, essays to penetrate the veil of the future. During such seasons the
human spirit transcends its ordinary limitations, and is uplifted by
aspirations and experiences which are beyond the realm of cold logic and
materialistic science.

Of late one portentous augury of bygone days lingered in the mind of
Marcius with untiring persistency. It was but a brief deliverance, yet it
stood before him in letters of fire. He had often thought it trivial, and
dismissed it from recollection, but as often it returned, refusing to be
barred out. Was it a prophetic curse? or only a simple warning which
already had been heeded and its occasion atoned for?

This evening the problem came upon him afresh, and the fateful words
fairly rung in his ears,—

“Thou art incapable of love, and it shall remain unknown to thee!”

How vividly that strange scene of the past flashed before him! The
mysterious _adytum_ of the Temple; the clammy, crawling vapor; the uncanny
Shapes; the ghostly but beautiful Alethea, and her divination of the
future!

He thought lightly of its interpretation when uttered—now it weighed him
down.

His love for Rebecca had become a consuming flame, but it was a white
flame, unmingled with smoke. Day by day every passing breeze fanned it. In
her the transparent beauty of the New Faith blossomed into visible
illustration and embodiment.

Marcius had not yet made an avowal of his love, for he consciously shrank
from breaking in upon the secrecy of the inner adoration of his own soul.
If she felt no response, a declaration would only rudely disturb the
symmetry of his beautiful dream, and if perchance there was a reciprocal
glow, the delightful mystery, like a sealed fragrance, would keep. In
social relation with him she was natural and friendly, but anything beyond
was an enigma.

But again the direful words of Alethea, like the muttering of the now
distant thunder, reverberated through his soul, and disturbed his dream of
bliss. Was he forever doomed to be a stranger to a rounded and
reciprocated love? Might not Alethea now relent, and dissolve her seeming
curse, and grant a blessing instead? Can it be that human jealousy invades
the realm of the Unseen?

Could he not, peradventure, again invoke the fair Alethea, and while
beseeching her own forgiveness for the past, implore her blessing for the
future?

The threatened storm gathered and burst with great force upon the city.
Rain, and at intervals hail, beat upon the walls and roofs of houses, and
cooled the hot flagstones in the streets. Forked lightning rent the
clouds, and thunder caused the very foundations of the city to tremble.

Since Marcius espoused the New Faith he had discontinued visits to the
Temple of Apollo. But now he strongly desired to meet Alethea. Would she
again appear to him if he sought her in the same place? Her condemnation
_must_ be lifted, her forgiveness obtained, and her benediction implored!

The roar of the storm continued with little abatement. What a favorable
time to go unattended and incognito! The desire strengthened into
immediate purpose. Disregarding the tempest, he ordered a trusted servitor
to bring his favorite horse, and hastily disguising himself, mounted, and
rode rapidly toward the Temple.

Upon entering he found the _pronaos_ deserted, and but a few scattered
devotees in the _cella_. Throwing off his outside garment, he seated
himself for a little time to command his thoughts before penetrating into
the _adytum_. The perpetual sacred fire on the great hearth sent its
fitful gleams upon the symbols and hieroglyphs which thickly covered the
walls and ceilings. As he sat and watched them they seemed to fade,
dissolve, and reappear in capricious succession, inspiring a sense of the
presence of invisible enchantments. The harps of Æolia, which hung in the
openings of the outer walls, groaned and shrieked a chaotic _Miserere_, as
if a great chorus of condemned spirits were disquieted by the force of the
angry tempest without.

At length the signal was given, and Marcius passed through the valve, and
following for some distance a dim, winding, and descending corridor, at
length entered the _adytum_. As aforetime, the flaming symbol of the
_Mysteria Eleusinia_ flashed upon him, and then slowly faded into a
ghastly vaporous obscurity. Farther on faint flashes of blue light shot up
from deeps which seemed bottomless.

Marcius silently waited for a brief period, hoping that Alethea would
again appear, but was disappointed. There was no sound save distant echoes
of discordant voices, now seeming to be above, and anon issuing from the
pit below.

Presently, wearied of waiting, he called aloud,—

“Alethea! I would see Alethea!”

Mocking sepulchral reverberations of his words were the only response.

Again pouring out his request with a like result, his wonted composure was
considerably shaken.

With growing disappointment he was about to make one louder call before
leaving, when at his right hand an unseen valve suddenly opened, revealing
a narrow private stairway hitherto unknown to him, leading from some of
the many apartments of the great Temple above. A moment more, and
footsteps, light but very real, were heard coming down.

A female form of enchanting beauty gracefully entered, and stood before
him. Her eyes of a deep liquid blue turned towards him, her silken, blond
tresses fell artlessly backward, and her features were of such loveliness
as rarely comes in human mould. A white, flowing robe of exquisite
softness and gauzelike lightness enveloped her form, leaving her shapely
neck and shoulders fully exposed. A delicate fragrance of wild rose was
borne in upon the atmosphere with her. There she stood, slender, lithe,
symmetrical, radiant.

Marcius was startled.

She was neither Alethea, nor any other spirit.

“Who art thou? and why didst thou appear when I called for another?”

“This is the night for mortals, and not for spirits!” she replied sweetly.
“I am one of the priestesses of the Temple, and they call me the ‘Chosen
One.’”

“What is thy mission here?”

“Behold thou didst vainly call for some one, and I have come to charm away
thy disappointment, give thee solace, and keep thee company.”

She smiled.

Marcius retreated for a step, but his gaze was fastened upon her.

“Peradventure thou dost count me for a shade who hath momentarily put on
the form!” she said archly. “But no! I am very real flesh and blood!”

Then she lightly touched her hand to one of his own convincingly.

“I am well persuaded that thou hast never crossed the Styx; but I came
hither especially to see another, who dwelleth beyond.”

“The signs to‐night forbid!” she replied with an intelligence that seemed
to be official. “Four nights of each week the mystical curtain which veils
the Unseen is parted, but this is not one of them.”

“I will come again,” Marcius replied in a low voice, beginning to turn
away.

“Hasten not! Perchance thy discomfiture and loneliness may be soothed.
Doth not the dominion of Eros cover the earth as well as the realm of
spirit? Nay, doth not the universe bow to his mastery? Even the stars of
heaven woo each other by their attractiveness, and flash forth their
kisses in beams of light, and the cohesion of atoms is but the warm
embrace of an universal enchantment!”

“I cannot listen to thee!”

“But thou art listening! Surely thou dost not despise the worship of the
Temple and her gods, else thou art not a loyal Tarsian! None are dead to
love, and both great and small do her honor!”

“I close my ears to thy beguilement!”

“I would not beguile thee, but thou art heartless, and withal cold in thy
devotion to our sacred divinities!”

“Thy words are wasted, and touch me not!”

She came nearer, placing her hand upon her heart, and looking into his
eyes, said,—

“Behold the roar of the storm without, while the blissful shrine in my
sanctuary above, where I alone reign as priestess, invites a united
homage!”

“I bid thee farewell, and will brave the storm!”

The beautiful features of the priestess suddenly froze into an expression
of scorn and contempt, as she swept quickly out of sight, and the valve
slammed behind her.

Turning again to depart, Marcius had advanced but a step when strains of
heavenly music floated in from the farther end of the cavern. He lingered
entranced, while the harmony swelled and diminished with an unearthly
sweetness which bound him to the spot.

Anon a great volume of dense vapor poured up from below, lifting itself by
a graceful spiral motion, and gaining steadily in density!

Was Alethea yet to appear?

No!

Yes!

See!

It gathers itself into a defined form! It emerges from its soft background
and comes forward!

“Alethea!”

Her bosom heaves with seeming life, and her eyes glisten with emotion.

“O Alethea! I have come this time to implore thy forgiveness and seek thy
blessing!”

“Marcius! I have beheld thy new life from the free domain of the Unseen,
and also stood by thy side this night! Here jealousy hath no place! Thy
past is freely forgiven, and my blessing, and that of Heaven, will rest
upon thee—_and Rebecca_. Until the earth‐life is closed—farewell!”

The form slowly dissolved, and Marcius left the Temple, and passed out
into the storm.



                              CHAPTER XXXIV
                        ONCE MORE UPON THE CYDNUS


            “Rivers are highways that move on, and bear us whither we wish
                                                                   to go.”


A few days after the evening excursion of Marcius to the Temple, a little
party emerged from the house of Benoni into the spacious grounds which
overlooked the Cydnus. It was soon after mid‐day. Though the sun shone
brightly, a refreshing breeze down the valley from the Taurus mountains
made the afternoon balmy and delightful. The cool waters of the river
hurried quietly past, while the sunshine caused the ripple which danced
upon its surface to gleam like molten gold.

The river barge of Marcius, called the Felicia, well manned by stalwart
oarsmen, waiting at Benoni’s landing by the foot of the terraces, presaged
an excursion. The group lingered a little, and loitered through the
grounds to enjoy the clusters of spice‐trees, roses, oleanders, and
jasmine which bordered the winding paths that sloped to the water’s edge.

Looking up the river, the thick fringes of shrubs and trees which lined
its banks could be followed by the eye, capriciously zigzag in their
course, narrowing in the dim distance almost to a thread when traced
toward the mountain wall of the northern horizon. The distant lofty range
stood out in calm, serene beauty, its summits softened by light scattered
foliage, and kissed by the rays of the afternoon sun.

The band of the New Faith in Tarsus had added many to its numbers through
the labors of Serenus. Seconded by Amabel, and aided by Benoni, Rebecca,
and Marcius, he was untiring in his work to kindle the higher life in the
souls who were willing to listen, and the synagogue soon became divided
between those who were bound by dead forms, and the converts to a living
spirituality. Works of mercy, ministry, and healing abounded, and faith,
love, and service were multiplied. Such a joy lighted up the faces of the
disciples that they became familiarly known among the Tarsians as the
“happy brotherhood.” Although the Pharisaic members of the synagogue were
censorious toward them, they suffered no persecution.

An excursion up the river had been planned by Marcius, both for the
enjoyment of the charming scenery, and the opportunity for delightful
communion and intercourse which come from the society of kindred souls
possessing a common interest and aim.

Besides the family of Benoni, and Serenus and Amabel, Marcius had invited
several other friends to join the company, and they gathered at Benoni’s
house at the appointed hour in readiness for the start. After a ramble in
the garden, they passed down to the landing to embark. Some were already
on the barge, when suddenly the sound of rapid footsteps was heard, and a
young man appeared, hastening to reach them before their departure.

It was Saulus!

His father, mother, and Rebecca were the last of the party, and not yet on
board.

Each was successively wrapped in his loving embrace, and tears of joy
witnessed the warmth of their reunion.

“O Saulus, thou must go with us on the excursion!” said Rebecca, as soon
as the first greetings were over. “Serenus and Amabel, also Marcius, of
whom I have written thee, are already on the barge!”

“Serenus on board! I will go! I long to greet him!”

Soon all were upon the deck of the Felicia, and at a given signal the
twenty oars on each side took the water as if by one impulse, and the
graceful barge glided out upon the bosom of the Cydnus.

Rebecca presented Saulus to Marcius, who received him warmly, and then
they sought Serenus and Amabel.

Saulus and Serenus were soon clasped in each other’s arms.

“O Serenus! my friend, brother, and saviour! Words fail me! To thee, whom
I once counted as my enemy, I owe my life and my salvation. Blessed be
these eyes that behold thee, and these ears that hear thy voice!”

“And thou, Amabel! who by my command wast taken to the cruel prison!
Sister of the New Faith! I need not even ask thy forgiveness, for I am
persuaded that thou hast bestowed it long ago. What a joy to forgive and
be forgiven! Rebecca hath written the good tidings to me.”

The Felicia was headed up stream, but despite the strong current she shot
rapidly along. The roofs and towers of the city gradually receded, and
pastoral voices and charms grew more distinct and prevailing. Delicious
exhalations were wafted out from the leaves and blossoms of spicy shrubs
on either hand, and their graceful forms were duplicated in trembling
shadows in the clear water beneath. Nature furnished a perfect environment
of peace and beauty, inspiring in the souls of all a revery of silent
homage to the Word which she articulated and out‐pictured.

Serenus and Saulus sat down side by side, and all visions of the troubled
past melted away in their present friendliness and rejoicing. Saulus
rehearsed to the group which gathered about him a full narrative of his
thrilling experiences in Damascus, his life and retirement in the Desert,
and his trials in Jerusalem.

Though an intensity of brotherly love, like that of “David and Jonathan,”
immediately sprung up between Serenus and Saulus, it must not be supposed
that they were alike, or thought alike. It is often assumed that those who
differ in natural endowment and personal opinion must in some measure be
separated in sympathy and interest. Not so. The zealous impetuosity of
Saulus was in strong contrast with the serenity and evenness of his
friend. They were utterly dissimilar in looks, temperament, and manner of
thinking. One might be compared to a dashing, foaming cataract, the other
to a still, deep river. But their very unlikeness stimulated their
affection.

Every unit is composed of unlike elements, and every truth has its widely
varying aspects. It might therefore be expected that in their efforts to
spread the New Faith, the methods of these two leaders would be unlike.
Still more, the emphasis which each would place upon all but the most
vital and central principles would be greatly variant.

“Hath any persecution been meted out to the disciples of the New Faith in
Tarsus?” inquired Saulus.

“Nay; we have not been molested. The Tarsians have little concern either
for or against our religion, and our brethren of the synagogue, while
counting us as heretics and manifesting some bitterness of spirit, have
done us no harm.”

“How unlike Damascus and Jerusalem! Behold in those cities all our
exhortations in the name of Jesus of Nazareth filled the multitudes with
jealousy, which brought forth persecution and even scourging.”

“The minds and hearts of men are not speedily changed,” replied Serenus.
“Dost thou think it strange, O my brother! that those men are moved by the
same reasoning that, in time gone by, moved thee to persecute, thinking
that thereby thou wert doing God service? It is no easy thing to give
righteous judgment concerning the actions of men, unless peradventure we
have regard unto their ignorance, and all their past manner of thinking.”

“Thou sayest truly that I ought not to think it strange that others of the
Circumcision persecute, even as I did, being of like mind; but I pray
thee, how is the gospel of the New Faith to be established unless it be
boldly proclaimed, whether men hear or forbear?”

“I am minded with thee, O Saulus! that the proclamation of Truth be
fearlessly put forth, but it must be with forbearance and in love. Behold
the still, small voice of the Spirit of Truth findeth a hearing in the
affections of men whose ears are closed to argument and controversy. If
the seed be cast gently into ground that is well prepared by the mellowing
of love, and watered by the ministry of reconciliation, it will spring up,
and in due season the blade will appear, and finally the full corn in the
ear.”

“Thou speakest wisely, O Serenus! for only thy winning and unresistant
spirit awakened a response in my own heart, that in due time overcame me,
and turned my feet from the path of error and destruction. I am also
minded that thy works in Tarsus are far more abundant than my vehement
logic could have established had I been in thy place. Lo, from thy youth
up thou hadst a gentleness of spirit, which I, even since my change of
heart, greatly lack.”

Serenus turned lovingly toward Saulus, and taking him by the hand,
replied,—

“I beseech thee, my brother, have in mind the abundant power which thou
hast, and not the thing which perchance thou lackest. It is well that we
have differing talents and gifts. Thou canst not perform my work, nor I
thine, but there is a harvest ripening for each of us. In the earthly
vineyard of God the shoulders of every laborer are justly fitted to the
burden which is appointed for him to bear. But of a verity there are no
burdens, for they are changed to privileges.”

“Thy words reconcile me to my chosen work, and even to my inner
hindrances. I perceive that through spiritual exercise even our
shortcomings minister to advancement in the higher life.”

Tarsus had faded from view, and save the rhythmic plash of the oars no
sound was audible but the hum of quiet converse among the scattered groups
upon the deck of the Felicia.

After listening with interest to the conversation between Serenus and
Saulus, Marcius invited Rebecca’s attention to the grandeur of the
mountains now nearing as they ascended the river, and soon the twain
leisurely seated themselves in a retired nook near the bow of the boat.

The charm of the crystal Cydnus burnished by the rays of the sun, its
fringed and swiftly passing banks, and the reposefulness of the broad,
outlying landscape, combined to make the whole scene masterful.

“How beautiful the world is!” said Rebecca.

“Yea,” said Marcius. “Under the inspiration of the New Faith the mountains
are temples, and the rocks and trees sacred altars which enshrine the
divine beauty and radiance.”

“A beautiful metaphor! I feel that Nature is soulful and companionable.
The cold, mechanical forms of institutions, and the hollow ceremonies in
temples made with hands, harden the mind and fetter its freedom. As our
souls are illumined, Nature becomes a Revelation—a spoken Word—transparent
to the Divine Spirit which shines through it.”

Marcius was charmed by Rebecca’s poetic consecration, and added,—

“Yea; Serenus teacheth even a threefold Revelation: that which shineth
through the veil of the outer world; that manifested through men—sons of
God—of whom Jesus was the perfected measure; and that by the ever‐present
Spirit, which is the Companion and Teacher.”

“How clearly the eyes of Serenus are open to the light and truth of the
world!”

“It is a marvel!” said Marcius with earnestness. “Blessed be the hour when
first I beheld him! Behold how great good cometh out of evil! The sinking
of the Salapiæ hath yielded a great blessing to Tarsus.”

“My life in the Holy City and since hath persuaded me that infinite forces
work with us when we work through them,” said Rebecca with enthusiasm.
“Nothing is trifling, and nothing unimportant.”

Marcius felt that the moment had arrived toward which he had so long
looked forward as the most eventful of his life.

“O Rebecca!” said he in a low, tender tone, as his eyes glanced upon her
fair face, “I am minded of another great blessing to me which hath grown
out of evil!”

The living emphasis of the soft, earnest words seemed peculiar, and
Rebecca looked up inquiringly, as if to divine their interpretation.

“Behold the day of the tumult, when thou wert hard pressed by the rabble!
What a wicked offence, and yet from it hath come to me a revelation of thy
beautiful soul.”

Rebecca was startled, for there was an intensity behind the words which
swept her spirit into unwonted vibration.

“O Rebecca! I would more fully unveil my heart to thee! Blessed be the day
when for the first time I beheld thy sweet face, and thrice blessed the
time in which I have felt thy goodness and purity! I love thee! Thy father
hath graciously yielded me permission to make my love known to thee. Oh,
wilt thou not be the soul of my soul? The New Faith will consecrate our
love, and make us one in the bonds of a union that shall be unending.
Should there be no certain response in thy heart at this hour, I will not
press thee for an answer now. But thou art the pure shrine at which my
devotion will glow with an unending ardor!”

While the calm dignity of Rebecca did not forsake her the beautiful cheeks
took on a ruddier shade, and her large, radiant eyes were downcast and
bedewed.

Then, looking steadily into his manly face, she replied softly,—

“Hast thou thought carefully of this? Thou art the Roman Vice Legate of
Tarsus, and I but an humble maid of the Hebrews!”

“Rebecca, I have pondered it day and night! Never in my earlier days did I
know there could be such love! But I feel myself to be another man—a new
man—or I would be unspeakably unworthy of thee. I am yet unworthy, but I
offer thee the homage of a heart, purified I trust, by the higher life,
and softened by the effulgence of thine own goodness.”

There was a long silence, made more intense by the rapid beating of two
hearts.

A smile upon her lips, and the dropping of a tear which would not stay
back, gave him hope.

Unspeakable repose filled their souls.



                              _PART THIRD_
                     AFTER THE FLIGHT OF TWENTY YEARS



                              CHAPTER XXXV
                            THE BAY OF PUTEOLI


            “The massive gates of Circumstance,
              Are turned upon the smallest hinge,
            And thus some seeming petty chance
              Oft gives our life an after tinge.”


One beautiful spring morning, A.D. 61, an Alexandrian ship, flying the
sign of Castor and Pollux, entered the Bay of Puteoli laden with corn for
the granaries of Rome. The mirror‐like surface of the water brilliantly
reflected the rays of the early sun, and duplicated the palaces, gardens,
and palm‐trees which lined the banks. The dark‐green, vine‐clad slopes of
Vesuvius, yet a slumbering giant, towered up from the eastward above the
peaceful towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii, distinguished for their
brilliant color, Greek‐like gayety, and beautiful situation. It was one of
the loveliest of earthly scenes.

The luxurious villas and magnificent palaces of Roman nobles which dotted
the shores, and the romantic islets that lifted themselves out of the blue
sea to the west and southwestward, with the flowering shrubs which pushed
their color and fragrance to the water’s edge, all contributed features to
form an unequalled earthly paradise. Near by were Baiæ, Pandataria, Cumæ,
Pausilypus, and Capreæ, each richly endowed with thrilling classical
events and romantic associations of great interest in the world’s history.
The end of the voyage was at hand, and the passengers gathered upon deck
to enjoy the complex panorama which many of them viewed for the first
time. They represented many different races, tribes and tongues, and
appeared in a picturesque variety of costumes.

Prominent among them was a Roman officer, having in charge a prisoner who
was on his way to Rome for a trial in the imperial court.

The officer, Julius, who wore the insignia of a centurion, had an
intelligent and kindly face, and showed much respect unto his prisoner,
who was a man well along in years, and of marked individuality.

It was Saulus on his journey to the Eternal City upon an appeal for
justice. He was accompanied by Luke and Aristarchus, though they were not
prisoners. He stood upon the forward deck, engaged in converse with the
centurion.

“If official duty will enable thee to use thy discretion, O Julius, I
would make an earnest request for thy favor!”

“Make it known unto me, and if expedient I will be pleased to grant thy
petition.”

“Behold yonder house where the gardens reach the water’s edge! It is but
little more than a stadium from the landing, and is the home of Marcius, a
Roman, and his wife, who is my sister. I fain would tarry there for a few
days before setting out for Rome.”

“How knowest thou that it is the house of Marcius, never having sojourned
here aforetime?”

“I am fully persuaded of it through letters which came to me giving a full
description.”

“I have power to grant thy request, and it shall be as thou dost desire.”

When all had landed, Julius found upon inquiry that the house which had
been pointed out was as had been represented, and with a soldier for a
guard, Saulus and his friends were permitted to make the desired visit.

The home of Marcius occupied one of the most beautiful sites upon the
shores of the heavenly bay. The water, transparent in its blueness,
embraced by a lovely sky and an emerald shore, was so serene that it
seemed to be reposing in a dream of bliss. The air was heavy with the
odors of flowering plants and shrubs, and a subtle and fascinating spell
was wont to steal over the senses of the observer. Nature was the Charmer.

The dark, tangled crags to the southwest seemed like lazy yet faithful
sentinels who were watching lest the prodigal enchantment might escape, or
that its voluptuousness might tempt the sea to swallow it up. What a
fairy‐land to stir the fancies of the heart, and light a smile of rapture
upon the face of him whose soul is attuned to a beauty that is not only
upon the surface, but within!

The three friends, who were entirely unlooked for, received a most cordial
welcome from Marcius and Rebecca, and their home was a veritable haven of
rest after a long and troublesome voyage. Many years had passed since
Saulus and Rebecca last met, but the ardor of their early affection, if
possible, seemed yet increased. Saulus for the first time saw his niece
Helena, the daughter of Marcius and Rebecca, who was now in the bloom of
her youthful beauty.

After a day of hospitable entertainment and intercourse in the unity and
spirit of the New Faith, the little group, as the sun declined, was seated
upon the front porch which overlooked the lovely expanse of the waters of
Puteoli. The air was delicious, and a purple haze enveloped the
surrounding slopes and heights, softening their outlines, and forming a
mystical and idealistic setting for the splendid summer‐houses which
dotted the shore and highlands far and near. Upon the bay, which reflected
upon its bosom the splendor of the closing day, here and there might be
seen the sail of some belated fisherman or pleasure boat, almost becalmed,
or perchance lazily rowing toward the port.

Saulus, after gazing meditatively upon the scene for a little time, broke
the silence.

“In all my journeyings I have beheld no scene so glorious!”

“Yea,” said Marcius, “we count it as heavenly as any place on earth well
can be. Nearly a score of years have taken their flight since we came here
from the banks of the Cydnus, and yet whenever I return from my journeys
in other climes it always gives me fresh delight.”

“Tell me somewhat of thy journeys, and of thy success in spreading the New
Faith,” said Saulus.

“Behold I have little to make mention of in comparison with the great work
which thou hast accomplished! Not being a public teacher and preacher, my
efforts have had little observation, yet after my own manner I feel that
my work hath not been in vain.”

“I am minded that thou hast devoted most of thy wealth to the spread of
the new gospel,” said Saulus, “and assuredly in that direction thou hast
done most effectual service. I would that thou briefly recount to my
brethren, Luke and Aristarchus, somewhat of thy sacrifices and labors for
their encouragement.”

“My sacrifices have been light compared with those which each of you has
made, yet I have tried to be faithful. To this day no persecution hath
been meted out to me, but I yet may feel the displeasure of Nero. No one
can tell. Claudius was content with my simple deposition from office in
Tarsus, and since that day I have lived undisturbed as a Roman private
citizen.”

But Saulus desired to hear further.

“I have learned through letters from the hand of Rebecca that thou hast
sent trusted disciples to the ends of the earth, and that thine own
journeyings have reached to Britain, Spain, and Africa.”

“It hath been my privilege to send a few laborers into the vineyard, and
furnish them with the means of support. In my visits to these lands I have
seen somewhat of the fruits of their labors, and letters lately received
give me hope of their growing success.”

“Behold there is a diversity of gifts and members in the new kingdom!”
said Luke; “and I perceive that thou, O Marcius! hast done a great work
that hath not been chronicled by the churches or known to the saints at
Jerusalem. The world is a great field, and there are divers ways of
scattering the good seed of the Word.”

“While thou art with us, O brother Saulus! I would that thou interpret
more fully the life and doctrine of the great Prophet of Nazareth!” said
Marcius. “The disciples with whom I have had converse appear to think
differently, in some degree, concerning the best way of salvation and the
true ideal of the New Faith.”

“Wherein lieth the difference?”

“Some seem to teach that the new life is likeness in mind and spirit to
Jesus, or an incarnation of the inner Christly quality, while others hold
that it is a purchase which was made by his sufferings and death. They say
that his blood, though greater than other Jewish sacrifices, in the same
manner cleanseth from transgression and bestoweth pardon.”

“I have observed that some such differences are beginning to appear among
believers, but am fully persuaded that the Spirit will not be swallowed up
by the letter. A knowledge of Jesus, the Christ, after the flesh,
profiteth nothing. If I have known him after the flesh, I would know him
no more.”

“What is the significance of the shedding of blood?”

“Blood signifieth the inner quality or life, and not the suffering and
death. Behold the literal blood availeth naught! Jesus was only the
outward manifestation of the Christ, because the Saviour of men is not
flesh, but spirit.”

“What doth belief in the _name_ of Christ signify?”

“It is that Christ, or the mind of Christ, liveth in us as it lived in
Jesus, though not so fully manifested. Faith in Christ is not mere belief
in the death and resurrection of the Prophet of Nazareth, but it is the
substance of spiritual life in man. Jesus belonged to a particular time
and place, while the Christ is the divine son in all men, even though not
yet born into activity. It is God in the soul of man!”

“A saving truth! and how near, for it is an experience of the heart,” said
Rebecca.

“Yea; the Christ is in every man, and not far away in time or distance. He
is the name of divine oneness in the children of men, whether in the seed,
the blade, or the full corn in the ear. Ordinances and sacraments are
without, but Christ, the Truth, is within. A fleshly and sacrificial
belief manifesteth itself in form and ceremony, and bringeth forth a
harvest of dead works which killeth the spirit.”

“I feel the truth of what thou sayest, for it is easy of comprehension!”
said Marcius with earnestness.

“Yea; no man need err therein. Christ is not a dead Christ, but the
living, ever‐present son or image waiting for birth and articulation in
every human soul. Behold the whole creation groaneth together in bringing
forth the sons of God!”

“Didst thou not in thine early teaching dwell much upon the seen Jesus and
his sacrificial death?”

“Yea, thou judgest rightly; but now I see more plainly that that which is
born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit. I have learned that the worship of the Father pertaineth not to
time, place, nor race, but must be in spirit and in truth. Behold all men,
whether Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, are blindly feeling after God, but
through ignorance they make many vain searches! But full contentment can
never come to any soul until it knoweth the Father and his kingdom
within.”

“Of the reputed sayings of the Nazarene, some appear to come from a son of
man, and others from a son of God. Canst thou make that plain to us?”

“Man hath within him both the human and divine nature, and Jesus being
fully manifested in the God‐consciousness, and recognizing his oneness
with the Father, at divers times spoke as God in the flesh, and also upon
other occasions as a son of man. Behold God, though not flesh, dwelleth in
all flesh, but man knoweth it not, and thinketh of him as far away.”

Early the next morning Serenus and Amabel also arrived at the house of
Marcius. They came for a brief sojourn before taking ship for Alexandria,
now their home, being on their return from a short visit to Rome.



                              CHAPTER XXXVI
                     NOCTURNAL INTERVIEW WITH A SEER


            “I sent my soul through the invisible,
            Some lessons of the after life to spell,
            By and by it came and answered,
            I myself am heaven and hell.”


Joy reigned in the house of Marcius. The unlooked‐for arrival of Serenus
and Amabel brought about a general and happy reunion of friends who long
had been widely separated.

The abode of Serenus was now in Alexandria. As the worthy successor of
Philo, he was the eminent head of a school of liberal Christian
philosophy, where teachers and missionaries were trained and educated. The
academy was not devoted to mere philosophical speculation and theorizing,
but to the promulgation of the New Faith in its pristine purity. Both by
precept and example Serenus inculcated a practical spiritual life which
transformed those who came within its moulding influence. The school
became a living fountain, from which went out the waves of a Christly
Christianity. Set free, even in greater measure than the Primitive Church,
from Jewish dogmatism, the truth was purged from all traditional rubbish,
and given out in all its intrinsic value and beauty. It was the simple New
Faith, without any admixture of asceticism, touched and gilded by the
light of the highest and best Greek philosophy and idealism. The influence
upon the world at large of the Alexandrian liberal school of Christianity,
not being recorded in canonized history, has been mostly unrecognized in
ecclesiastical annals.

The day after the arrival of Serenus and Amabel passed swiftly in mutual
converse and encouragement. Every one of the reunited circle had much to
recount. What a wealth of experiences gained, obstacles overcome, and
inspirations kindled!

Late in the evening Marcius felt a strange and unwonted spirit of
restlessness. All the rest of the household had retired for the night,
when some intangible but powerful influence almost impelled him to go into
the open air for a season of meditation and communion with the spirit of
Nature. Telling Rebecca of his intention, he went out upon the porch and
took his favorite seat overlooking the beautiful bay. The harmony and
sublimity of the scene were borne in upon his soul, and gave him a sense
of profound serenity. The air was soft and balmy, and the full‐orbed moon
was lifting herself above the horizon in queenly majesty, lighting up the
expanse of waters with a sheen of wavy silver.

The arrival of Saulus, and yet more that of Serenus and Amabel, brought
before the mind of Marcius a flood of former associations and emotions
interwoven with his life upon the banks of the Cydnus. His inner
experiences of the earlier time passed before him in a procession like the
unrolling of a scenic panorama. His Christianity was also free from a too‐
prevalent asceticism, and the charm of everything about him found a
response and revelation in his own soul. As he pondered, while drinking in
the beauty of the night, he measurably divested himself of the gross sense
of the Physical, and wandered back amid bygone soul‐experiences. He
realized that to penetrate the unseen realm of Reality there must be
earnest desire, unclouded by the opaque objects of sense, usually so all
controlling.

He journeyed psychically backward, and analyzed his early life,—its
selfishness, grossness, and superficiality. He thought of those who shared
it. Where are they now? What occupies them? Have they yet discerned the
hollowness of the mad pursuit of sensuous gratification?

What of Leander?

At that moment he was somewhat startled by the dignified approach of a man
wrapped in a long mantle who came near and called him by name. In a
reposeful and deliberate manner the stranger leaned against a pillar and
waited for a response. His voice was musical, his face had a pleasant and
impressive aspect, indicating refined character and a passionless depth of
thought, heightened by a noble forehead and deep‐set eyes.

“I am Marcius! Be seated, and explain thine errand!”

“I come as a messenger, rather than for myself,” replied the strange
visitor in a cordial and friendly manner. “Thy musing upon the secrets of
the soul and the mysteries of the Universe, but more especially thy
delving among the living relics of the past, hath awakened a yearning in
other souls,—or a soul,—and thou only hast the power to satisfy it!”

“Thou speakest in riddles! how did it come to thee, or to those for whom
thou hast come, that my thought was occupied with the past? Behold the
scene of my earlier experiences is far distant.”

“In mind and spirit there is no time nor distance! The echoes of thought
go out, and are interpreted by those whose inner hearing is attuned. Not
only the music of a fountain, but even the hoarse roar of a tempest, is
heard within, and can be stilled only from the centre! There is a
disquieted soul that earnestly craves thine aid. Even a word from thee
would help to relieve its distresses.”

“Again thou speakest beyond my comprehension. What dost thou desire me to
do?”

“Go with me to a place not very far distant where all mystery shall be
made plain to thee!”

“Thou hast much assurance to ask me to go with thee, a stranger, to a
place unknown! Common prudence might forbid.”

“Do I seem like one born to deceive? Only good can or will come from thy
compliance.”

“Whom do we seek, if I go with thee?”

“My Superior! A wise and noble magician. One who hath profound and
prophetic gifts of soul, and hath penetrated deeply into the mysteries of
Knowledge, as found in the life of man.”

“I will go with thee!”

The moon had hidden herself behind dense masses of floating clouds so that
the darkness had perceptibly increased, but Marcius was thoroughly
persuaded of the sincerity of his guide, and did not hesitate.

They started. After traversing several narrow streets and turning many
corners, they took a road which wound steadily upward. On, on, on!—would
they never arrive at the journey’s end? The deep obscurity and many turns
caused Marcius to lose his bearings, and he had little or no idea even of
the general direction which they had taken. In the gradual ascent they
crossed two streams upon whose classical banks in bygone ages had encamped
the invading hosts of Etruscan, Sybarite, and Roman. The whole vicinity
was rich with ancient lore. Still on, until, with a sharp turn to the
right, they passed through a deep and narrow fissure which parted a hill
of rock, and was shrouded by abundant foliage.

Emerging from the narrow walled passage, immediately before them, upon a
level plateau, stood a venerable castle. The light which streamed through
a few of the windows gave evidence of life within.

“Behold our journey’s end!” said the stranger.

They entered, and after mounting a broad, winding staircase, Marcius was
ushered into the presence of a tall, dignified and venerable man, with
long hair and flowing beard of snowy whiteness, who received him with
becoming and polite cordiality. He was wrapped in a long white mantle,
heavily embroidered in gold with mystical and occult designs. After the
first greetings, he motioned Marcius to a convenient seat. The room was
commodious, and possessed many remains of ancient splendor fairly well
preserved. It contained large tables of costly marble elaborately carved,
upon which were piles of parchment sheets and rolls, and also many
astrological, chemical, and philosophical instruments and appliances.

“I am here in obedience to thy request?” said Marcius inquiringly.

The kindly face of the Seer lighted up with a beneficent smile, as he
replied,—

“I give thee cordial welcome, and am persuaded that thy visit will not be
in vain. I have knowledge of thy good works, and that thou hast delight in
the upliftment and release of entangled souls.”

“I am in no wise minded how my strange visit hath any virtue in such an
accomplishment!”

“Peradventure there be unseen prisoners struggling for freedom that thou
knowest not of.”

“I shall rejoice in any opportunity for spiritual ministry,” said Marcius;
“but if thou art pleased to communicate, may I first inquire concerning
thyself and thy profession?”

“I am descended from the Magi of the far East. My father was one of the
wise men who brought offerings to the Babe of Bethlehem, an observer of
the stars, and skilled in magic. I have dwelt in many lands, sojourning
for some time in Athens before coming here.”

“Of what avail is the mystery and seclusion which are wrapped about thy
seership?”

“Behold the minds of this generation are descended from the spiritual
altitude of the sages of the earlier world, therefore the mysteries of the
Universe, and of mind and spirit, must be veiled and guarded from the
sensuous vulgarity of the present age. How long, thinkest thou, should we
be permitted to cultivate acquaintance with mysticism and spiritual
science if our Art were made known to Nero? Behold if water is to mirror
the heavens it must be still and deep, and wholly unruffled by the winds
of Circumstance! Our wisdom would shrink to naught unless lifted beyond
the murky atmosphere of the sense and selfishness of every‐day life.”

“I perceive the truth of what thou speakest, and would know further of thy
philosophy and aspiration.”

“Behold the Divine One is unveiled in many ways to the inner vision of
men. Our distinctive reading of Him is through the pages of Nature. We
find living oracular voices in the poetry and harmony of the Universe, and
also in the underlying laws of the mind of man. To interpret Nature and
Law is to interpret God. We must study the adumbration, locution, and the
architecture of the whole creation. All is _life_, and life is LOVE. In
the world of sense love is personal and narrow. In the higher spheres it
reduces all things to itself, and becomes impersonal and all‐inclusive. To
penetrate the secrets of the Universal Mind and discover the invisible
revolving wheels of Nature, one must ascend an unseen mount—ALONE. Only
through such solitude can the soul uncover itself and come into full
contact with the Eternal, and at length gain a complete mastery over the
base idolatry of the common life.”

“I fain would know more particularly concerning thine own chosen field of
research?”

“I may make known to thee that the Magi of the East are of three Orders,
different, though related, for they are One. The triangle hath three
sides. The first Order is given mainly to the study of and communion with
Nature, or rather her motives and internal forces. The second is concerned
with the assuagement and healing of the ills and disorders of the race,
and the third seeks near acquaintance with the mysteries and
manifestations of Spirit while abiding in incarnate forms, and also the
invoking of those that have become excarnate. It includes a study of the
laws, communications, and unfoldment of human minds and souls. My own
researches and experiments are more specifically those of the third Order,
to which I have the honor to belong.”

The thought of Marcius went back to Alethea.

“My own small experience hath convinced me, not only that spirits survive
earthly dissolution, but that they sometimes appear in the seen form.”

The sage nodded assent, and observed,—

“It is true that those who are in the Beyond, under certain favorable
circumstances not commonly understood, may briefly draw to themselves some
of the finer elements of neighboring bodies, and even clothe themselves
with them. This is no marvel! It is in accord with the spiritual laws of
man’s constitution. When embodied, Mind commands its own organism. In
lesser degree, after the seen hath been dropped, its inherent forces may
lay hold of the subtle elements that are less closely related, and mould
them for a temporary purpose.”

“Do those who cross the Styx find upon landing upon the farther side that
they are much wiser, and at once rid of the errors of the fleshly
experience?”

“Nay; the higher states come only by growth into harmony with the
Universal Good, which is through patient and persistent aspiration. Most
souls are inert until pushed forward by the pains of discordant
environment. The same faults must be overcome, the same phantoms
vanquished and selfishness put away, as in the seen. The wonted passions
rage, even though without material expression. But thanks to friendly
thought‐ministration from intelligences more highly developed, both in the
visible and invisible, progress soon begins, and will continue. The cords
that hold spirits in prison must be weakened in every strand through
retributive and purifying discipline until they finally give way, and then
released souls can mount aloft into a larger freedom. To put on a heavenly
consciousness at once would be a violation of all the laws of normal
growth and universal method. Thought must wear new channels, whether with
or without the cruder embodiment.”

“Is there a spiritual body?”

“There is a finer form, which is gently released when the grosser
embodiment drops away, being no longer fit for occupancy. To the clear
vision of a Hierophant there are even soul tints and colors which emanate
from living forms, and index the quality of their thought. The delicate
goodly hues of thine own inner nature have been plainly visible to me
since thou entered yonder door.”

“Do the spiritual atmospheres of those upon the plane of the seen touch
each other, and make themselves felt beyond the boundaries of the body?”

“Yea, like auras, meet and mingle harmoniously, while those which are
discordant in color and vibration are mutually repellant. There is an all‐
pervading ethereal Substance which fills all space, and is also
penetrative of all matter. It is the medium which connects individualized
thought with the Universal Mind. As the trembling strings of a harp launch
its music upon the undulations of the atmosphere, so the waves of thought
are wafted through that Infinite Ocean in which we dwell to their desired
Destination, or perchance forth into ever‐increasing outward circles.”

“What is matter?”

“Matter is spirit in its crudest manifestation. It is the primary
educational plane of soul, or, in other words, the moulding material for
its elementary practice. Individuated soul builds it up into organic
forms. We must not forget also that there are innumerable grades of
individuated souls below the plane of the Human.”

“What wouldst thou interpret as the basic principle of all life?”

“Love, which when manifested in the lower forms of matter, we call
attraction or gravitation, pervades the Universe, and is the mainspring of
all life. As it rises in the scale of unfolding Being it becomes refined
and spiritualized. All individuated consciousness must finally come into
harmonic vibration with the Universal Spirit. Behold the Divine One hath
made everything from HIMSELF! But the moments flee. Peradventure thou
wouldst know more fully the definite purpose for which thy visit was
desired?”

“I await thy convenience.”

“A disquieted Intelligence, for some time beyond the confines of
visibility, craveth converse with thee. Peradventure thou mayest be able
to accomplish much in giving release and bringing reconciliation.”

“I cannot divine who or what It may be!” replied Marcius with an
expression of deep curiosity.

The Seer then arose, and inviting Marcius to follow, led the way into an
adjoining room. There was no light save the rays of the full moon which
came in brightly through two casements, the clouds having dispersed. The
door was closed, and Marcius shown to a seat.

The room was octagonal in shape, and of moderate size, except in height,
which was great in proportion to the other dimensions. Upon the vaulted
ceiling far above there were dim points of light, which like stars seemed
to have a luminosity of their own. High above their heads small Æolian
harps hung in valves which were open to the gentle zephyrs without, and
they were discoursing soft, sweet melody which seemed more like heavenly
whisperings than earthly music.

Soon the Seer gave a signal, upon which a man clad in loose white robes
entered and seated himself upon a dais between the two casements. There
was sufficient light to show Marcius that the face was that of the
messenger who had guided him to the castle. The harmony, beauty, and
softness of the whole scene was so impressive that he awaited some
demonstration with anxious expectancy. His thoughts turned once more back
to Alethea, and his heart beat quickly at the memory of the vision long
ago in the Tarsian _adytum_.

But see! A tremor passes over the frame of the figure upon the dais. His
breast heaves, his muscles relax, his eyelids droop, and he seems like one
entranced.

Anon a mist, at first so rare as to be barely discernible, formed in a
gathering cloud just before the dais!

It gains in density, gradually solidifies, and finally assumes definite
form!

“Leander!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

Marcius marvelled!

The same wavy brown hair!—dark blue eyes!—fair complexion, with skin
white, as if polished with baths and oil! His costume was that of an actor
in dramatic representation.

Marcius was still more surprised when Leander assumed an oratorical
attitude, and in his old‐time impassioned manner began the recitation of
Greek poetry. Then followed a scene from one of the tragedies of
Sophocles. After closing, he waited a moment, as if expecting applause.

Marcius almost forgot the present in such a realistic dream of the past.

“Behold,” said the Master in a whisper, “the persistence of mental habit!
Pressing though his business be with thee, this dramatic fragment must
needs be projected from his surcharged soul before he can give his
message!”

Leander now came forward and laid his hand upon the shoulder of Marcius.
An intensely woeful expression was manifest.

“O Marcius! I have sent for thee! Behold I am disquieted! I fain would
quench the hatred toward thee that was long ago kindled in my soul, but am
not able! In spite of every effort it reasserts itself through habit! It
is like a fire which when smothered in one place breaketh out anew of
itself! I crave thy forgiveness, which, if thou dost grant it, may
peradventure help to release me from this terrible thraldom!”

“Take courage, for it is freely granted! I give thee my love, and
pronounce thy release!”

“I bless thy goodness, and thank thee that thou wast minded to follow the
messenger to this place! But I have yet a great work to do! Behold the old
thoughts rise up before me and will not be laid!”

Marcius gave him a kindly look, and replied,—

“Think of love, _love_, LOVE! for behold its presence in thy soul will at
length displace all its opposites! That is the method by which thou mayest
dissolve them into nothingness.”

“But, O Marcius! I have not yet told thee the worst! I tried to murder
thee! With base gold I bought a potion that was to dull thy reason,
destroy thy wisdom, and hasten thy mind and body to decay before the
wonted time! Listen to my iniquity! With more gold, by my direction,
Colurus was hired to administer the potion to thee! But, thanks to all the
gods—none of which I have beheld since I left the body—thou art here and
well! The potion took no effect, but, oh, the guilt is not the less! I am
tormented beyond measure for having so rewarded the best friend I ever
had! A fire rageth within my thought, and I have no rest! Horror and
destruction, in living forms, follow and point at me!”

He groaned in spirit, and tears rolled down his face.

“In vain have I called unceasingly upon the gods for release! I love thee
now! but the old hateful thoughts, like foul spirits, thrust themselves
continually before me!”

“Calm thyself, Leander! All will yet be well! Love finally will conquer!”

“But, O Marcius! added to murderous thoughts of thee, my appetites of the
flesh yet rage within my mind, even though I have no flesh to fulfil
them!”

The Seer cast a benignant glance upon Leander, and said reassuringly,—

“Behold thou hast repented of all thy sins, and they are in process of
being cast out. Beneficent laws have ordained that growth cometh through
pain. Virtue is valuable because it costs much, and its sweetness cometh
from intelligent contrast. As Marcius hath well said, only love can heal
thy disquietude. But time is necessary, for there are no sudden leaps in
soul. All things grow only from cultivation and desire.”

Leander paced the room with intense agitation, as if impelled by some evil
spirit, but at length, by great effort, stopped before Marcius, and
kneeled with bowed head.

“Bless thee once more for thy hearty forgiveness! My distress is a little
lessened because I behold something of the light of the future which thou
hast pointed out! Oh, how I bless thee for thy words—love—_love_—LOVE!
Only love can give me peace! I will grasp it, cling to it, and think of
nothing else! I will love both gods and men—everything!”

“Thy love shall wax, and the day will be hastened when thy chains shall be
fully broken. My forgiveness and affection shall forever rest upon thee!”

A backward step, and anon his form became cloudy and indefinable. Then,
slowly, like a summer evening’s cloud, it dissolved, and was seen no more.



                             CHAPTER XXXVII
                        TWO WOEFUL SOULS RELEASED


It was a little before mid‐day, and the forum and market‐place of Puteoli
were filled with a throng which represented a mingling of different races,
avocations, and professions. Some were in favorite places of resort,
passing the hours in _dolce far niente_, and even the busy ones moved
leisurely under the influence of the soft and luxurious atmosphere of
southern Italy. Life among all classes was spent mainly out‐of‐doors, or
in public places like the temples, baths, forum, or porticos. Simply to
exist in such a climate was a dreamy luxury. The passive enjoyment of the
present hour barred out any anxious future. If an earthquake caused some
trembling of the immediate environment to‐day, they were yet willing to
let to‐morrow take care for the things of itself.

Here and there was a sleek and luxurious Roman noble, a senator, or
perchance some member of the court of Nero, whose country home was on the
coast, jostled by merchants and seamen from every clime of the then known
world. The long toga of the magistrate or lawyer was brushed by the
picturesque costume of the peasant, the embroidered tunic of the pleasure‐
seeker, or perchance the rags of a beggar.

Here, as in the neighboring cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, Grecian art
had taken early root, and frescos, carvings, and other ornate decoration
covered every available space.

Near the heart of the business quarter on the side of a colonnade were the
stalls of the money‐changers, with their shining heaps in full view, which
were the fruit of exchanges of the coins of many nations, the corn, animal
products, and merchandise of which were landed here on the way to the
Eternal City. At intervals the statue of some one of the Cæsars, a
triumphal arch, a bronze or marble god or goddess, with frequent fountains
whose iridescent spray danced and sparkled in the sunlight, gave variety
and artistic beauty to the scene.

Petty traders displayed their varied wares, and artificers fashioned their
handiwork and deftly exercised their different crafts with a well‐ordered
professional skill. The easy‐going life of the great majority, to outward
appearance, seemed like a long‐drawn‐out poetic revery. Gayety and love of
pleasure and show glistened on the surface of the complex river of life
that flowed smoothly along.

The temple of Jupiter occupied one side of the forum, and a straggling and
variable procession passed in and out, who came to pay their devotions to
the chief god of the Roman state. In plain sight of the temple, fronting
on a narrow street which led from the forum, and on the same side, was a
plain, square building, somewhat resembling a Jewish synagogue. This was
the meeting‐place of a small congregation of the members of the New Faith,
which was composed of divers races, including a few Jews who had left
behind their national ceremonialism. The outgoing waves of the new
spiritual movement in the East had reached this distant shore, and,
chiefly through the influence of Marcius and Rebecca, had crystallized
into an organization.

Up to this time there had been no dangerous persecution, though much
prejudice and dishonor had been visited upon the disciples. They had been
contemptuously designated as “atheists,” “despisers of the fine arts,”
“maligners of the gods and the temple,” and by common reputation rated as
disloyal to the “divine Cæsar.”

The great fame of Saulus as an apostle, preacher, and healer had long
before preceded him, and soon the news of his arrival, as a prisoner on
his way to Rome, became noised abroad. Serenus also, though less known to
the common people, had much reputation.

On the day already noted, being the fifth after the landing of Saulus, a
noisy group, composed mainly of idlers who frequented the streets,
gathered near the meeting‐place of the disciples. In the midst of the
boisterous crowd, a man whose appearance indicated that he was of the
lower orders, seemed to be the principal subject of an animated
controversy.

“He is no other than the cripple!” said one.

“He is not the cripple, but is like him!” said another.

The man was straight, and had full command of his limbs, and began to
dance with a light step to show his agility. His name was Lausus, formerly
a sailor, but from the effect of a fall several years before had long been
a cripple. He had sold small trinkets about the streets until he became
familiarly known as “The Cripple.”

The dispute continued.

“He is the cripple and has been healed!”

“He is a hypocrite, and one of the fanatics who are traitors to Cæsar! I
declare to you that they are sorcerers, and worship a Nazarene Jew whom
they call Christus!”

“It is truly Lausus! let him speak for himself!”

There was a pause as he beckoned for silence.

“I am the lame man who for so long hath sold ornaments! Behold I am healed
of my trouble!”

“How wast thou restored?” asked one who seemed willing to learn the truth.

“Behold two members of the household of the New Faith, who are guests of
Marcius, the Roman, laid hands upon me, and my limbs are whole!”

“What are their names?”

“Saulus and Serenus.”

“What did they say to thee?”

“After laying their hands upon me, in the name of the God of the whole
earth, they declared my lameness healed!”

“He is Lausus, and his word is true, for I was a witness!” said another.

“I was healed of blindness!” cried a new voice.

“Another deceiver and fanatic!” growled a bystander.

“Two days ago I was able only to behold a little light when the sun shone
brightly, and now, God be thanked, I can see clearly!”

“What did they tell thee?”

“‘Thy faith hath given thee sight! Give God the praise!’”

“Did they not touch thine eyes?”

“Yea, they anointed them; but said that it was only an outward symbol, and
that it was my own faith that restored me!”

Still other voices in the crowd gave marvellous testimonies of wonderful
works.

The throng was divided. Some mocked, and cried out that it was only a
conspiracy to bring the New Faith into favor.

The tumult increased, and the crowd grew larger.

“Down with them! they are dreamers and beside themselves!”

“Nay, they speak the truth!”

“Their pretended healings are lies! I have heard that they are murderers
of new‐born babes!”

“It is a slander!”

“Down with the deceivers! drive them out!”

“Is it wrong to heal disease?”

“They show contempt to Jupiter and all the gods by paying homage to a
Jew!”

The controversy grew more bitter, and at length ended with the beating of
Lausus, and he was left almost helpless; but soon he was borne away by
some of the brethren. The aid of the twain who had ministered relief
before was again sought, and he speedily recovered from his bruises.

The tumult, the rumors of healing, their denial and affirmation, with the
violent aspersion of the doctrines and practices of the members of the New
Faith, caused a widespread dispute and division among the people of the
entire coast. The opposers of the new movement stoutly maintained that the
examples of healing were temporary and imaginary, and that those upon whom
the works had been wrought were self‐deceived, or that they never had been
afflicted with any veritable disorders.

The two visitors found themselves the subjects of a great controversy,
which grew to be so earnest that even the influence of Marcius hardly
could protect them from insult on one side, and homage and almost
deification on the other. Their fame spread so rapidly that calls came
from all directions; and when the day had ended they had ministered to
scores of sick folk, and brought restoration and health into outward
manifestation.

“Behold your works of mercy have stirred up much commotion among the
people of Puteoli!” said Marcius, as the household gathered at the close
of the day’s experiences.

“It is ever thus!” said Saulus. “The outward signs and fruits which follow
and attest the glow of the higher life are an inspiration to those who
believe and accept them, but a rock of offence and stumbling to the
faithless. The selfsame works, therefore, may bless or curse in due
measure, according to the manner in which they are received.”

Just then the conversation was interrupted by the coming of a messenger,
who besought Saulus and Serenus to visit a man who was violently possessed
of an evil spirit. They started immediately, and were led for some
distance through the darkness of the evening, finally halting before the
large and richly appointed country‐house of a Roman patrician. Entering
the spacious court, they were met by the wife and a few other friends of
the afflicted man, who was no other than the owner of the villa.

“We have heard of your wonderful works, but wot not by what power they are
wrought; and now behold the master of the house is grievously tormented,
and a rich reward will be given if you will restore him.”

The Roman matron added her importunate request.

“O sirs! he is a kind and upright man when the demon doth not possess him!
Can you cast out the foul spirit? Behold when it useth him he is exceeding
fierce, so that he must needs be bound with chains. Silver and gold in
abundance shall be yours if peradventure you can compass his release.”

“We come not for silver and gold!” said Serenus; “but in the name of the
Eternal Spirit of Goodness, to bring joy, peace, and salvation to this
house. Thy husband shall be restored.”

Two strong attendants led the way, a few steps in advance, to a massive
room in the basement, where the Roman was securely bound with chains. He
glared fiercely as they entered, and sprang forward to the full length of
his bonds to attack them. Serenus and Saulus followed immediately behind,
and so soon as his eyes rested upon them he relaxed and sank quietly into
a seat, trembling, and frothing at the mouth as if in a fit. He was a
large man, and clad in a thick leathern garb that he might not wound
himself. His manly features and noble forehead were distorted with rage,
his nostrils distended, and his eyes shot out fiery glances until they
softened and partly closed at the sight of the unwonted visitors. Soon he
sat upright, and was in a more quiet but still defiant mood, though he did
not try again to arise.

Saulus was the first to speak.

“Thou foul and wicked spirit! in the name of the same ever‐present Christ
that had full and visible manifestation through Jesus of Nazareth, I
command thee to come out of him!”

The man was shaken as if by a paroxysm, but after much effort opened his
lips.

“Through the mouth of this man I confess unto thee that I am both foul and
wicked, as thou hast said, and that I must needs obey thee!”

Serenus turned lovingly toward his companion.

“Brother Saulus, I pray thee, before sending him away to darkness and
despair, if thou wilt, let us hold brief converse with him. Behold is he
not bound and in torment, and doth not he also need release, even as this
Roman?”

“O Serenus, thou speakest with thy wonted wisdom! I thank thee, for I
thought only of the Roman! With all my long missionary experiences I may
still gain further knowledge and mercy from thee. I beseech thee, do what
seemeth good in thine own eyes.”

Serenus then came near, and calmly looked into the man’s face.

“Why dost thou torment this Roman who hath never done aught against thee?”

“Behold I am in a rage of misery which is the bitter fruit of my life
while in the flesh, and I have found a certain satisfaction in the control
and sensations of a material body of expression!”

“Why didst thou choose this man?”

“His weak personality lacked any positive moral and spiritual strength,
therefore he offered no resistance to my occupation.”

“Now thou speakest the words of soberness.”

“Thy presence hath calmed my anger, and, for the hour, restored my power
to reason understandingly.”

“Thou hast been an adversary to everything good or Godlike?”

“Yea; in my sight everything seemed to be against me, and I raged against
everything in return, and that kindled a hell within my soul.”

“Behold the Spirit of the Eternal Goodness is everywhere, and is All, but
so long as thou dost resist it, or any of its offspring, whether in the
fleshly garb or out of it, thou dost make torture for thyself!”

“It hath tormented me beyond measure!”

“Behold, as thou hast possessed this man’s organism, hatred, envy, and
malice likewise have possessed thee!”

“Thou dost perfectly discern the truth!”

“I now declare unto thee, that even as we, through the divinity that is
lodged within us, can deliver this man from the bondage of thy possession,
so, if thou wouldst, we may liberate thee from the prison of thy bondage!”

“Peradventure I might fall back and again be made captive!”

“Nay; there is one merciful Deliverer who hath all the keys for thy
release, and is always with thee! He will ever serve thee if thou dost
call upon him!”

“A strange doctrine! Who and where is he?”

“He is Love! and is here! Call his name, think his thoughts, and feel his
spirit, and thou mayest forever be free, or on the path toward freedom!”

Serenus then placed his hand upon the head of the Roman.

“Through the divine channel of my own Being, I pronounce freedom for thee
and for this man whom thou hast possessed!”

“I feel in myself a strange influx of new peace and harmony! Behold I
never knew these things before!”

“Now thou dost release forever this man of thine own free will, and also
seek thine own release in the way marked out?”

“With all my mind and strength! Oh, I bless thee that thou didst not send
me back to my former despair!”

“Go in peace! And to make thine own freedom more perfect and abundant,
labor for the release of those of thy brethren who are yet bound!”

“My saviour, I will! Behold I go!”

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The Roman aroused himself and glanced about him with strange surprise. As
he slowly arose there was a clanking of chains. He stared in wonder at
them, and then at his leathern raiment, and looking around awaited an
explanation. There was a momentary silence as he surveyed his strong
attendants, and then glanced into the faces of Serenus and Saulus.

“Where am I? and what has happened? Oh, what a terrible vision, but now I
have awakened! But I am not in my bed!”

“Be not disturbed!” said Serenus. “Behold we are all here for thy good.
Thou hast been set free from the evil spell of a disquieted spirit that
for a season hath possessed thy members.”

“Oh, my terrible vision! I beseech all the gods that I may never have
another!”

“Loose him!” said Serenus. “His bondage is ended!”

Serenus and Saulus then retired to the court of the house, while the
attendants remained to minister to his immediate necessities, and assist
him in clothing himself with his own raiment.

“Behold thy husband is healed!” said Serenus to the matron. “He will
appear before thee presently, clothed, and in his right mind.”

She bowed herself before the twain as if they were some strange gods in
human form.

“O sirs! I bless you for the great favor which you have bestowed upon this
house! Henceforth we will worship your God with all devotion! Tell me his
name, I pray thee!”

“He is the God of all the earth, the Father of all men and spirits,
whether in the flesh or out of it. In him we abide! His strength is ours,
and his breath is our life!”

Soon the Roman entered, calm and self‐controlled as he was wont long
aforetime, and clasping his wife in his embrace, they wept for joy.

“Behold these are thy saviours!” said the matron, pointing to the two
friends as soon as the first greetings were passed. “I declared unto them
that their God shall be our God!”

“Yea, give God all the glory! Behold we are but instruments through which
his power floweth!” said Serenus.

The sudden recovery of his own consciousness was so strange that the Roman
marvelled, and much explanation was necessary to make him understand the
past and what had been wrought within him. His gratitude was without
measure, and he pressed his new‐found friends to take a reward, which was
refused. After giving him a faithful but simple statement of the New
Faith, and promising that Marcius would come and instruct him more fully,
and be his friend after their departure from the coast, they returned to
the house of their host.

On the evening of the following day the whole household of Marcius was
again gathered upon the outer porch which overlooked the charming bay. The
loving circle of friends was to be broken the next morning. Perchance some
of them might never again view each other’s faces in the flesh. Saulus, in
the charge of Julius, the centurion, was to depart for Rome on his way to
trial, accompanied by his friends, Luke and Aristarchus. Serenus and
Amabel at the same time were to take ship for their home in Alexandria.

As they sat looking out upon the picturesque cliffs and islets near and
distant, which were softened by the purple of closing day, there was an
interval of deep silence, broken only by the rhythmical plash of the waves
below. All thoughts were centred upon the coming separation.

At length Marcius turned toward Saulus,—

“Would that it were some other Cæsar than Nero before whose tribunal thou
wert to appear! But we will hope all things, and believe in all good. Thou
art wise and fearless, and the favor of God will abide with thee!”

“Whatever may come to pass, I am persuaded that all things whatsoever will
work together for good!” replied Saulus. “We are ministers of the New
Faith, and look to that, and not to ourselves.”

“Yea, brother Saulus, the paths of duty and privilege are one and the
same,” said Serenus.

“Thinkest thou that the God of all the earth will always protect his own,
O Serenus?” said Rebecca.

“All divine laws that pertain to his children are beneficent; but if thou
hast in mind only bodily protection, it may not always be assured,
although everything worketh toward that end. But, as thou knowest well,
even if the body be destroyed it doth not harm the real man. While we
should strive to care well for our bodily manifestation, because it is
useful, its loss may be likened to the ruin of a house, with its owner
unharmed, and a more fitting habitation awaiting him.”

“As thy departure draweth near, I would fain make inquiry concerning a
matter of doctrine, that I may have a fuller understanding,” said Marcius.
“I have heard it said by some that the Messias is again to come in visible
form, and that the end of all things draweth nigh. What thinkest thou of
this?”

“Behold,” said Serenus, “the end of the world only signifieth the closing
of the old Dispensation, whether in the world or in each human soul. The
Messias is all the time making his advent invisibly in the souls of men,
and so far as his coming is perfected, it hath outward expression, though
not fully complete in them as it was in the Nazarene. But every man
already hath the unspoken Christ, who seeketh fuller and visible
articulation. The light is within, waiting for a refinement of the outer
nature in order that it may shine through.”

“There also appear to be certain differences of belief among our brethren,
concerning the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus!” said Marcius.

“While these are well in the literal and outward sense, their importance
is contained in the changes which they symbolize in the inner nature of
man. A belief of the head in the sacrifice of the Prophet of Nazareth
availeth naught; the Christ mind and life must be born in the soul.”

“How dost thou view the day of judgment?”

“Judgment is set up within man, and is continuous. The divine Image, or
Truth, is a tribunal in every one, and until the personal and outer life
cometh into full conformity, judgment is never ended. No outward legality,
sacrifice, or ceremony can satisfy, but only an inner conformity to the
Model.”

“What is the life beyond? and is there a spiritual body?”

“The spiritual body is already formed within the visible organism. Its
quality is made by the thoughts and intents of the heart. So far as these
are discordant with the pattern of the divine Image, there must still be
cleansing and purification in the beyond. Such a discipline to the old
man, or fleshly self, seems like a consuming fire, and brings severe
growing‐pains to the lower consciousness.”

“But, dear friends,” continued Serenus, “why address all these questions
concerning the deep things of the Spirit to me? Let Saulus speak of them,
and we will listen to him.”

“Friends,” said Saulus with warm earnestness, as he grasped the hand of
Serenus, “I have not the abundance of wisdom necessary to teach my brother
from whom I have learned from the beginning! To Serenus I am beholden for
all that I am and have! Long ago he saved my life in Jerusalem, when he
knew that I was his worst enemy. Not his correct doctrine only, but his
beautiful life, pricked me to the heart, and stirred my soul to its
depths, and at last kindled the flame of the New Faith within me. His
example was ever my inspiration; and the Spirit of Truth within, which to
me is the final authority, hath confirmed to me the substance of all his
teaching. Blessed be the day, when as his earnest but mistaken opponent in
the academy of Gamaliel, I first beheld his goodly face!”

The spontaneous and eloquent testimony of Saulus touched a tender chord in
every heart. Marcius was deeply affected, and pressed forward and took the
other hand of the beloved disciple.

“Dear Serenus! to thee I also am beholden for everything! I beg thee to
receive my testimony and blessing. Stained in my early years with the vice
and sensuality of the Tarsian metropolis, I was at length renewed by the
New Faith, which thou awakened within me. It not only transformed my life,
but brought to me the dearest and purest wife that ever fell to the lot of
man. I am minded that thou cravest no praise, but am deeply moved to speak
the simple truth!”

Then Rebecca, whose face shone with joy, essayed to speak.

Serenus beckoned for silence, but the current which had broken forth was
not to be stayed.

“The birth of the New Faith in my soul began with the converse I had with
thee after thou hadst saved my life on the day of the Temple panic! Thy
life, while I dwelt in the Holy City, and at Tarsus also, was my unfailing
example and inspiration!”

What was left for Amabel?

She stepped forward, and grasping her husband in a warm embrace, wept
great tears of joy. Words could not be found, but silence was more
eloquent.

                           * * * * * * * * * *

“Friends!” said Serenus calmly, “joy and love fill my heart to
overflowing. Your words stir the depths of my soul. But behold I have been
but an unconstrained fountain, through which hath poured forth a small
measure of the Ocean of Life and Love which hath pressed in upon my soul.”



                              _PART FOURTH_
                              SAULUS IN ROME



                             CHAPTER XXXVIII
                        AWAITING TRIAL BEFORE NERO


It was a little past mid‐day, after a toilsome journey, that Julius, with
his notable prisoner, accompanied by Luke, Aristarchus, and a few
soldiers, approached the city of the Cæsars. From the summit of a rise in
the Appian Way, a few miles distant, Saulus had the first view of the
place of his fateful residence. The long wall of blue Sabine mountains,
with Soracte in the distance, enclosed the broad Campagna, which stretched
across to the sea and around the base of the Alban hills. The great city
seemed blended in one indiscriminate mass of color, in which were mingled
every grade and variety of human domiciles, with colossal baths, temples,
theatres, colonnades, and palaces, relieved by the gilded domes and roofs
which flashed forth the brightness of the warm afternoon sun. As they
approached the emporium, the great thoroughfare became more confusing and
thronged. It seemed like a mighty, swift‐flowing river with counter
currents. Chariots, richly carved and gilded, drawn by three or four
horses abreast, two and four wheeled vehicles of all qualities, luxurious
litters, inlaid with mother of pearl, carried upon the shoulders of
slaves, whose proud occupants looked down upon pedestrians, horsemen, and
footmen of all nationalities, soldiers and civilians, patricians and
beggars, formed a dense and endless moving panorama. It was the pulsation
of the main artery near the heart of the world. On either side were
countless tombs, architecturally beautiful, containing numerous bas‐
reliefs and inscriptions, including those of the Scipios, Cæcilia Metella,
and others of notable fame, with endless statues, columns, and other
stately memorials.

  “What conflux issuing forth or passing in;
  Prætors, Proconsuls to their provinces
  Hasting, or on return, in robes of state,
  Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power,
  Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings,
  Or embassies from regions far remote,
  In various habits, on the Appian road ...
  Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed.”

Many an eye glanced with disdainful curiosity upon the chained Saulus and
his little knot of Jewish sympathizers, as they threaded their way among
the crowd with an escort of soldiers. At length in the distance they catch
sight of the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill, and still beyond,
crowning the summit of Capitolinus, the Capitol, or Tabularium. Soon they
pass by the fountain of Egeria, thence by the pyramid of C. Cestius, under
the arch of Drusus, and through the Capenian gate. Turning abruptly to the
right at the Circus Maximus, their route is lined with temples, triumphal
arches, baths, and statues, until they finally reach the barracks of the
Prætorian guard, which was always kept close at hand for the immediate
service of Cæsar.

Saulus, by his own appeal, was now at the seat of the governmental and
military power of the earth. Even though coming as a prisoner, a long
dream of his life was now accomplished. He was in Rome.

Julius left his prisoner with the guard at the entrance to the barracks,
and made his way to the office of Africanus Burrus, the Prætorian Præfect,
to announce the termination of his long and successful commission. After
the usual military salute, the centurion began his report,—

“O Præfect! I come to make known my return from Cæsarea with the prisoner
Saulus, in charge of whom I was sent, and now he is here, ready to be
delivered into thy keeping.”

“It is well! I commend thee that thine arduous service hath been
accomplished. But so long a time hath passed since I was informed
concerning this case that I have forgotten about the nature of the charge.
I must consult the records.”

While the scribe of the Præfect was searching the docket, Julius continued
his verbal report,—

“The man is a Jew, but hath the rights of Roman citizenship. After being
tried by Agrippa, he appealed unto Cæsar.”

“Ah, yes! I now call him to mind. He is the one who stirred up such a
commotion among the Jews at Jerusalem and Cæsarea. He was charged with
preaching a strange faith, and worshipping some unknown god. Was he also
answerable for speaking against the authority of Cæsar?”

“Nay; his political loyalty was unquestioned! His only real offence was
some violation of Judaism. There was a great clamor among the Jews for his
punishment, and even death. Their national religion appears to be
peculiarly bigoted and intolerant. I am minded that King Agrippa found no
real fault in him. I heard that it was declared both by Festus and Agrippa
that the man had done nothing worthy of death or even bonds, and that he
might have been set free had he not appealed to Cæsar. Feeling the
injustice of the accusations which came from his own countrymen, he nobly
sought the highest tribunal.”

“He must be an uncommon prisoner, and I shall accord him special
privileges!”

“I rejoice in that! Though a chained prisoner, he is the wisest and most
marvellous man that I have ever known. He is gifted with more knowledge,
even about sailing a ship, than the master with whom we took passage. Had
his advice been followed, we should have been spared a shipwreck, and even
then, but for his wisdom and wonderful encouragement, I am persuaded that
all on board would have perished.”

“May the gods be merciful to him! Thine experience proves that a prisoner
may sometimes be a philosopher,” said the Præfect thoughtfully; “but how
unfortunate that a man of such superior wisdom should be a devotee of a
strange and superstitious religion!”

“Yea! He pays homage to a countryman of his own—a Nazarene whose name was
Jesus—whom he calls ‘the Christ.’ He teaches that this Christ was a God‐
man, and therefore a leader and ruler; but that his kingdom is in the
souls of men, and that it hath no dishonor for the government of Cæsar.”

“Shade of Apollo! that is a strange kind of an empire! Even our Roman gods
have but feeble power to change the feelings and conduct of men. But it
would seem that much learning hath made the man strange, and perchance a
little beside himself!”

“So I thought at first sight, most excellent Præfect! but his life,
virtue, and power are marvellous. He hath ability, through his God, to
heal the sick and cast out foul spirits, and both at Melita and Puteoli he
did many wonderful works. The inhabitants were unwilling to part with
him.”

“Our soothsayers essay to perform miracles, but I have in no wise
confidence in their pretension. But your report hath made me much
interested in your notable prisoner. I shall give him as large a liberty
as my duty will allow.”

“I assure thee that he in no wise will abuse it,” said the centurion with
enthusiasm. “Behold his presence, though not at first outwardly
prepossessing, is very attractive and helpful! I cannot describe it, but
he is unlike any other man I ever knew. I feel strangely loath to part
with him. But my duty is ended, and I have only to deliver him into thy
hands.”

Julius then handed to Burrus the sealed parchments that were sent by
Festus and King Agrippa. The Præfect broke the seals, and carefully read
the contents.

“I perceive that this is an unwonted and prejudiced case from the
beginning. The charges are made wholly by the Jews, who accuse the man of
sedition and blasphemy. But there is no evidence here. Did any witnesses
come with thee?”

“None, O Præfect! but I was informed that some were to follow. It hath
been made known to me that a vessel which sailed from Cæsarea soon after
ours was lost in the same terrible storm in which we were shipwrecked.
Peradventure some of the accusers of Saulus were aboard of her.”

“That may cause delay in the trial. But what dost thou think of the
charges?”

“That they are false, and have no basis other than in the prejudice of
that peculiar people, the Jews. Notwithstanding his strange faith, which
we cannot rightly understand, he is a man whom gods and men must
reverence, yea, even love.”

“I would look upon the face of this unwonted Jew,” said Burrus. “Bring him
in!”

The centurion left and soon returned, conducting his prisoner into the
presence of the Præfect. Saulus showed signs of his many hardships, and
his face looked like one whose life had been exposed to many strains and
shocks. His hair was gray, his brow furrowed, and his cheeks hollow, but
his eyes were bright and piercing. While unattractive in form and feature,
there was an indescribable light and vigor within, which seemed to shine
through the flesh, and impress and attract the most careless beholder.

“This is thy prisoner, O Præfect, Saulus of Tarsus!” said Julius.

Saulus gave the Præfect a proper greeting.

“The report of the centurion to which I have listened giveth me great
respect for thee. Thy captivity shall be made as easy as my service to
Cæsar will allow, and when opportunity offers I shall be pleased to have
some converse with thee. But now, after thy long journey, thou dost need
rest and refreshment, so for the present I will send thee to thy
quarters.”

Saulus thanked the Præfect for his kindly words.

A Prætorian was directed to take him to a comfortable outer room in the
best part of the prisoners’ quarters, and the order was given that he be
allowed to hire a house in the vicinity for himself, if he so desired,
until the time of his trial.

Beyond the Tiber, in a district mostly squalid and miserable, there had
grown up a large community of Jews. It was the residential section of the
rabble, and headquarters for the most ignoble trades and poorest
merchandise. Although low and thoroughly despised by the Romans, but a
small portion of the Hebrews were slaves. At this time toleration was
general, and both they and the Christians enjoyed immunity from
disturbance in their synagogue services.

As ever before and since, the Jewish element was distinct and
unamalgamated. Through all the ages they have been a standing wonder,—a
“peculiar people.”

As soon as Saulus was settled in Rome, in order that his countrymen might
not misunderstand his position, he lost no time in inviting their
principal men—the rulers and elders of the synagogues—to meet him, so that
he might disabuse them of prejudice, which many of them already had
concerning him. They were sharply divided into parties and sects. There
were Jews of the old order, who were hostile to Christianity; Judaizing
Christians, or such as nominally accepted the Prophet of Nazareth, but
clung to ceremonialism; and a few converts to the New Faith, who nearly or
quite disregarded the traditional code. With such incongruous elements
Saulus began his labors, striving upon the basis of essential truth to
harmonize their discords and make peace.

At the time appointed, which was only three days after his arrival, the
room of Saulus was crowded with the principal representatives of the
various sects which he had invited to meet him. While intending to preach
the gospel both to Jew and Gentile, he was minded to begin by an effort to
conciliate the feelings of his Hebrew brethren both toward himself and the
New Faith. He came at once to the point, as soon as his auditors were
convened, and began his address.

“Brethren and friends! I would make known unto you that I am no traitor to
our nation because I have appealed to the Roman power. It hath been
rumored among you that I have come to Rome as an accuser of the Sanhedrin
before Cæsar. But instead, I have come to defend myself against its
enmity. The chief priests and elders invoked the lower tribunals of the
foreign power, and thus compelled me to appeal to the supreme authority
for justice and vindication. I have committed no offence against Israel,
or the customs of our fathers, yet my countrymen delivered me up with
accusations of sedition and blasphemy.

“Behold I am one of your brethren—of the seed of Abraham—of the tribe of
Benjamin—a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and my labors have been abundant for the
salvation of our people! Even the Roman governor was ready to set me free,
but my Jewish enemies would none of it.

“I call God to witness that my only crime hath been my firm faith in the
deliverance of his people through the Messiah, foretold and promised by
the prophets of old. I am set for the defence of the gospel, not by envy
and strife, but through love and good‐will, that it may abound unto all
nations and to you‐ward. Behold the covenant which the God of glory made
with our father Abraham, and the testimony to Moses while in the
wilderness to raise up a Prophet unto us, and the Holy One spoken of by
Isaiah, all are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth! As foretold, he was put to
death, and opened not his mouth against his enemies. I beseech you, do not
vainly continue to look for a warlike Messiah, who, through garments
rolled in blood, shall restore only a seen kingdom, whereby the things of
this world prevail! Behold in due season a spiritual dominion cometh which
shall fill the whole earth! Carnal weapons must give place to the sword of
the Spirit, until all nations shall be brought under the mild sway of the
Prince of Peace. The Prophet of Nazareth laid the foundation for an
Universal Kingdom, but its coming will be without observation.

“I might persuade you by arguments without end, drawn from your own
Scriptures, of the truth of the spiritual faith which I proclaim! I could
fill your ears with the warnings, promises, and inspirations of the
ancient patriarchs, law‐givers, singers, and prophets that have arisen
among our own people. I beseech you, therefore, to lay aside every
prejudice, and no longer dwell in dead forms and ceremonies. I would that
ye be transformed by the renewing of your minds through the power of the
Holy Ghost. I beseech you to give heed unto the words I have spoken, and
declare unto you that it is for the hope of Israel that I am bound with
this chain!”

Instead of bringing peace, the earnest appeal of Saulus increased the
dissensions among his auditors.

It was ever thus. Truth, when launched into the midst of error and
prejudice, unfailingly stirs them up, and brings their bitter dregs to the
surface. There is far more hope of winning an honest sceptic than a self‐
satisfied bigot. The Gentiles, or heathen, finally proved much more
accessible to the New Faith than the Chosen People themselves, although
the number of Hebrew Christians somewhat increased.

After a heated discussion, the larger part of the audience withdrew, and a
formal separation took place between them and the “Apostle to the
Gentiles.”

During the two years that the trial of Saulus, for various reasons, was
delayed, he remained in his own hired house, and was permitted much
liberty in proclaiming the power of the gospel to all who came to him. He
also wrote important letters to the churches of the East. But he was still
a prisoner, chained by the arm, both night and day, to a Prætorian. Many
of the rough soldiers who guarded him were moulded by his influence, and
thoroughly transformed in life and character by the spiritual
righteousness which he awakened within them. Even some of the household of
Cæsar and a few patricians were touched to the heart by the halo of the
divinity which shone out through the personality of the great Apostle.

As fair white lilies sometimes shoot up from the foul black slime at the
bottom of a pond so that their fragrance is wafted abroad by the breezes
of heaven, so the seed of a spiritual tree was scattered in the great
seething morass of corruption on the banks of the Tiber, which would yet
spring up and overspread the nations with its branches.



                              CHAPTER XXXIX
                      ANTIPODES BROUGHT FACE TO FACE


“Present Saulus of Tarsus for arraignment!”

Immediately after these words fell from the lips of Nero, the notable
prisoner was led into the basilica of the imperial palace.

The room, of magnificent grandeur, was of great size and perfect
proportion. The pavement, in mosaic designs of wonderful pattern and
finish, was a masterpiece of skill, in which serpentine, onyx, and
porphyry were artistically blended. A long row of lofty white marble
columns, containing zones of blended pale green, stretched down the length
of the hall on either side, and the walls were inlaid with giallo antico,
lapis lazuli, and other fine marbles of variegated shades, which came from
the mountains near Pisa. The broad cornices of alabaster were covered with
a wealth of mythological figures carved in strange and grotesque design.
The arched roof, of imposing height and of a deep blue shade, was so
studded with golden points as to represent the evening heavens. The outer
spaces beyond the columns were filled with statues in bronze, silver,
gold, ivory, alabaster, and marbles, many of which were the fruits of
despoliation in various cities of the East. Mingled with the statues were
rare flowers in graven or embossed silver vases which stood upon veined
tables of citron.

Nero’s gold and ivory chair, in which he half reclined, was at the centre
of the apse, which projected from the eastern end of the basilica. Broad,
polished steps of porphyry, with a white marble balustrade on each side,
led up to the seat of the imperial judge. A little to his right, in a
place of special honor, an ivory cabinet, inlaid with mother of pearl,
contained his poems, tragedies, and orations, which he counted of
priceless value to the world; and near by hung his golden harp, adorned
with precious stones, upon which, in the _rôle_ of a “divine artist,” he
played to special audiences.

Ranged in a double row below him on either side stood his special guard of
Prætorians, whose silver eagles and gilded uniforms gave glitter and pomp
to every official sitting, whether important or otherwise. Clustered a
short distance behind him stood a group of tall lictors, whose shining
axed fasces symbolized a power which none on earth could dispute.

Saulus was placed at a little distance in front of Nero, upon a spot
marked by a different color in the pavement, and known as the prisoners’
circle. His chain was upon him, and there was no friend by his side.

To the right and left, on raised seats, and nearly in front of the
imperial chair, was the council of Assessors, twenty in number, who were
all men of high rank. Among them were the two consuls and the selected
representatives of other magistracies of Rome, while the remainder
consisted of senators, chosen by lot.

As Saulus took his place, Nero looked down languidly, as if impatient at
such an interruption in the work of revising a new tragedy, in which he
had great pride. He wore a white tunic and a toga of rare purple, and upon
his head a laurel wreath. His eyes were dull and bloodshot, and his low,
flat head, square jaw, flabby double chin, and thick neck combined to give
him an unmistakable canine cast of countenance. His fat white hands looked
waxy from constant bathing and polishing, which was submitted to in order
that their suppleness might be improved for harp‐playing. Mingled plainly
in his face were colossal vanity, cruelty, suffering, and silliness. He
was not naturally a fool, but his talent had become strangely abnormal.
Though yet young in years, they had been long enough to transform a man
into a monster. He blinked as he turned his head from side to side, as if
the air were thick with bloody spectres that he could not avoid, and from
whom he expected an assault. Disordered in mind and body, he was
distracted by physical pains and psychical hallucinations. Guilt had
honeycombed him, and in a tragic manner he often told his intimates that
he was haunted by all the Furies. But though a profligate and buffoon, he
was lord of all the Roman legions, and through them the world was at his
feet.

Saulus before Nero!

World‐wide contrasts in the same picture!

Blackness and high light in juxtaposition!

Not merely opposite personalities, but two irreconcilable kingdoms—even
worlds—confronting each other!

Hatred, love—resistance, non‐resistance—vice, virtue—legions, moral
ideals—animalism, spirituality! These, rarely in the world’s history so
sharply defined between persons, but ever in warfare in human souls!

Nero called upon one of his consuls to read the indictment. It was briefly
summed up in three charges.

“First, the prisoner, Saulus, is accused of disturbing the Jews in the
free exercise of their worship, which is secured to them by Roman law.

“Second, he is charged with desecrating their Temple.

“Third, it is claimed that he violated the public peace by seditious
agitation, as the leader of a factious sect which is treasonable to the
authority of Rome.”

Saulus was asked to enter a plea concerning the indictment.

“I stand before the tribunal of Cæsar, and answer _not guilty_!” said he
in a calm but firm voice.

Nero looked down contemptuously upon the prisoner, and took but a sluggish
interest in the charges. He showed plainly by his manner that the whole
affair was too trivial to be worthy of more than a passing notice. Of the
Jewish religion he knew little and cared less. The idea that this poor
fanatic, with no armed following, was a menace to the peace of the Empire
was preposterous. Nevertheless, he must keep up the forms of justice, and
the trial proceeded.

The witnesses who had come from Cæsarea were examined, and the papers in
the case, which had been sent by Agrippa, read by the consul. It was plain
to every one that the evidence was partial, and even contradictory. After
the prosecution had been fully heard, Nero again cast his eyes
indifferently upon Saulus.

“Hast thou any one to speak in thy defence?”

“With the consent of Cæsar, I would be heard briefly in my own behalf!”
replied Saulus.

While the Apostle could but recoil from the character and personality of
his judge, he was the man to respect the dignity which belonged to an
exalted office. He began his reply in a manner courteous, calm, and
respectful. Years of discipline had softened his native impetuosity, and
given him thorough poise and self‐command.

“I appear before this supreme tribunal, O Imperator, with assurance that I
shall find complete justice at thy hands. As the fountain of government
and power in this, the greatest Empire the world hath seen, I am persuaded
that thou mayest look with indifference upon the small jealousies of
Judean sectarianism. I might confidently rest my case before thee almost
wholly upon the discordant and even contradictory testimony of my
accusers. I call thee to witness, O Cæsar, that King Agrippa, who hath
much knowledge of the religion of our nation, found me guiltless of the
charges for which I am called to make answer! Behold the whole matter is
but an opinion or interpretation between Jewish sects, concerning which
the imperial government hath no concern!

“Regarding the first accusation, I have called in question the liberty of
no man concerning the exercise of his religious faith. I went up to
Jerusalem to take alms to the poor, and to preach a pure faith, but
neither in the Temple, nor in the synagogue, nor the street, did I dispute
with any man, nor in any manner disturb the peace! It is indeed true that
I belong to the Nazarenes, which the scribes and elders call a heretical
sect, but of a truth, we worship the God of our fathers. We accept the
things which are written in the law and the prophets when truly
interpreted, and peradventure it be allowable to have sects of Pharisees
and Sadducees among the Jews, there is nothing more illegal in the
existence of the Nazarenes. Behold it is but a question of religious
liberty, which Rome, to her honor, guarantees to all her subjects. I have
in all this controversy a conscience void of offence toward God and man!”

Nero moved uneasily, but made no interruption.

“The second accusation, alleging the profanation of the Temple, hath no
foundation. Behold my visit was only in discharge of sacred duty, and I
made no tumult with any man! Such a strange charge hath not been proven,
and cometh only from the prejudice of the Sadducees. I have always held
honor toward the Temple of our fathers, and in no way profaned its courts
or ordinances.

“Concerning the arraignment of stirring up sedition, it is utterly vain
and empty! I have honored the Roman law, and taught that the powers that
be are ordained of God. I ask that you hold in remembrance that they who
have complained against me are all Jews, and that no Roman in all Judea,
who is set by the authority of Cæsar, hath said aught for my condemnation.

“I would not weary thee by pointing out the subtlety of the differences
between the Jewish sects, for much of it would seem to be foolishness to
any Roman; but, O Imperator, I may truly avow that the Nazarenes live a
New Faith which hath priceless value for all men! It is a spiritual
kingdom which is set up within them, and hath no controversy with the
material kingdoms of this world. So long as religious liberty is
proclaimed by Rome, the Nazarenes never will be found disloyal!

“But, O Cæsar! I cannot close my appeal without saying that _I feel a love
in my heart for thee, and would that the most excellent faith of the
Nazarenes might light up thy soul!_”

A look of strange surprise at the audacity of Saulus passed like a flash
over the faces of the spectators, and all eyes were turned toward Nero to
see its effect upon him. But the outburst of the Apostle had been so
evidently spontaneous and sincere that Cæsar was momentarily touched. His
flabby features turned paler and more constrained than was wont, and
moisture appeared in his heavy eyes as they were staringly fastened upon
his prisoner. Instead of resentment, he seemed fascinated by so strange a
human phenomenon.

“I have earnest good‐will toward thee, O Imperator, and warmly commend the
New Faith for the health of thy soul! I beseech thee to bring forth the
works of righteousness, temperance, and mercy! Thy Jewish prisoner wishes
thee well, and whatever befall him, he hopeth and prayeth for thy
salvation!”

The auditors were yet more astounded, and expected to see Nero fly into a
rage at the closing words of Saulus.

The tables were turned, and behold the great Apostle was in the judgment‐
seat, and Cæsar the prisoner!

But there was only gentleness in the tones of Saulus, and the earnest love
of man for his fellow‐man shone out so clearly that it could not be
mistaken. Such a warm spiritual brightness lighted up his features that
the Lion of Rome was both awed and softened.

The trial closed with hasty formality. The Assessors by a large majority
voted for acquittal, and Nero confirmed the verdict, and the chains of
Saulus were stricken off.



                               CHAPTER XL
                       THE VISIBLE FORM LAID ASIDE


            “My prison walls cannot control
            The flight, and freedom of the soul.”


Again Saulus was face to face with Nero. Since his first acquittal the
Apostle had made long and important missionary journeys, laboring
earnestly for the spread of the New Faith. But at length, upon the
testimony of informers, he was arrested by the magistrates of Nicopolis,
and again sent to Rome for trial before Cæsar.

Great events had taken place in the world’s metropolis since the former
trial. A conflagration—probably instigated by Nero—had destroyed nearly
half the city, and the Christians were charged with the wholesale
incendiarism. Their number was now considerable, and they had become
recognized as a peculiar sect, distinct from the Jews, and were popularly
counted as grossly superstitious and disloyal. Bitterness and persecution
were meted out to them.

Instead of living in his own hired house, as aforetime, Saulus was
incarcerated in the dungeon of the Mamertine prison, and his friends were
denied the privilege of visiting him. But his indomitable spirit rose
above all outward things, and his last letter, written to Timotheus while
on the verge of the Unseen, is full of triumph. Pessimism, doubt, and fear
had no place in his soul. There was no such thing as defeat.

With perfect confidence in the inherent power of Truth, and its final
supremacy, he was aware that its progress was not dependent upon the
bodily continuance of himself or any other person.

During his final hours in the seen form he was calm and joyful. Even the
sleep of his last night on the rock floor of his dungeon was sweet and
refreshing.

The final scene, which took place in the early morning, was secret and
sudden. Saulus, with the few who had him in charge, passed out upon the
Appian Way, through the gate, which after nineteen hundred years is yet
called by his name, by the pyramid of C. Cestius, and on about three
miles, to a green and level spot known as Aquæ Salviæ, where they halted.

The face of the martyr already shone with a heavenly light! He had
ascended a Mount of Transfiguration, and his inner vision was opened! The
realm of physical sensation and suffering was left behind, and now he
looks out and up, and behold the whole Invisible is visible! He has
already landed upon the Delectable Shore! Here is a new and real Universe!

Hands are clasped with those who had passed before!

A warm unison of love thrills through reunited souls!

Things that seemed lost are found!

Stephanos was by his side, and gave him love and cheer!

What new spiritual activities and delightful ministries of loving service!

How the former missionary journeys shrink by comparison with new
opportunities now opening!

What glorious and far‐reaching vistas!

How many problems solved and mysteries made clear!

What a golden sunshine of harmony, beauty, and love!

What unending cycles of spiritual progress and activity stand out and wind
upward forever!

                           * * * * * * * * * *

The hallowed place of the translation is now marked by the magnificent
church—resplendent with colored marbles of great richness—of San Paolo
fuori le Mura.



                                FOOTNOTES


    1 Besides the history contained in the New Testament Scriptures, the
      grateful obligations of the author are due, in varying degree, to
      Farrar’s “Life and Work of St. Paul,” his “Darkness and Dawn;” the
      “Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” by Conybeare and Howson; “Paul the
      Missionary,” by the Rev. W. M. Taylor, D.D.; “The Ideas of the
      Apostle Paul,” by Rev. James Freeman Clarke, D.D.; various works by
      Stanley, Jowett, Arnold, Martineau, Lytton, and Brewer; besides
      Josephus, Strabo, and other ancient historical authorities.

    2 There were only seven of the Rabbis to whom the Jews gave the title
      of Rabban; and three of these were Gamaliels of this family, who
      each in turn rose to the high distinction of _Nasî_, or President of
      the School.

    3 A ten‐minute hour‐glass.

    4 Professor Plumptre supposes the _Urim_ to have been “a clear and
      colorless stone set in the breastplate of the high priest as a
      symbol of light, answering to the mystic scarab in the pectoral
      plate of the ancient Egyptian priests, and that the _Thummim_ was an
      image corresponding to that worn by the priestly judges of Egypt, as
      a symbol of truth and purity of motive. By gazing steadfastly on
      these, he may have been thrown into a mysterious, half‐ecstatic
      state, akin to hypnotism, in which he lost all personal
      consciousness, and received a spiritual illumination and insight.”

    5 It is probable that no race—whatever its religion—ever existed,
      among which there were not some who craved mystical and psychical
      developments, and who often carried them to excess. Temperaments of
      ardent and imaginative quality are swayed with an overpowering
      desire to delve into the future and unseen. We may well suppose that
      the Rabban would have disapproved of the excesses of this society
      had he been aware of them; but what teacher, ancient or modern, was
      ever able to curb and control, or even to find out, the devices of
      his youthful students?

      It is well known that crystal‐gazing and some other mechanical
      expedients, under certain conditions, produce hypnosis,
      clairvoyance, visions, trances, and other unusual and abnormal
      psychical phenomena. In many cases they seem to include truthful
      hints and foregleams of future events or distant scenes. Like
      attracts like, and sometimes gives it symbolic embodiment. An
      objective vision may come from subjective roots, and its creations
      often haunt the consciousness.

    6 It may seem that healing as depicted in this case was very sudden;
      but the recorded works of Peter, John, and many others, which took
      place during this era of great spiritual uplift and exuberant faith,
      should not be overlooked.

    7 Canon Farrar, in his “Life and Work of St. Paul,” says, “The part
      which he [Saul] played at this time in the horrid work of
      persecution has, I fear, been always underrated.... So thorough was
      his search, and so deadly were its effects, that, in referring to
      it, the Christians of Damascus can only speak of Saul as ‘he that
      devastated in Jerusalem them that call on this name,’ using the
      strong word which is strictly applicable to an invading army which
      scathes a conquered country with fire and sword.”

      Conybeare and Howson, in their “Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” say,
      “That temporary protection which had been extended to the rising
      sect by such men as Gamaliel was now at an end. Pharisees and
      Sadducees, priests and people, alike indulged the most violent and
      ungovernable fury.... The eminent and active agent in this
      persecution was Saul.... His fame as an inquisitor was notorious far
      and wide.”

      A few passages from the New Testament (Revised Edition) are noted:—

      Acts viii. 3. But Saul laid waste the church, entering into every
      house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

      Acts ix. 1, 2. But Saul, yet breathing threatening and slaughter
      against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and
      asked of him letters to Damascus unto the synagogues, that if he
      found any that were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring
      them bound to Jerusalem.

      Acts xxii. 4. And I persecuted this Way unto the death, binding and
      delivering into prisons both men and women.

      Acts xxvi. 10, 11. And this I also did in Jerusalem: and I both shut
      up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the
      chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my vote
      against them. And punishing them oftentimes in all the synagogues, I
      strove to make them blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against
      them, I persecuted them even unto foreign cities.

      Galatians i. 13. For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past
      in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the
      church of God, and made havock of it.

      1. Timothy i. 13. Though I was before a blasphemer, and a
      persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did
      it ignorantly in unbelief.

    8 As to the historic literalism of the external phenomena said to be
      connected with this notable inner transition, the author has no
      desire to dogmatize either pro or con. It is the privilege and right
      of every one to make his own interpretation. But however exact in
      outward detail the somewhat variable records may be supposed to be,
      we think that all will agree that the external setting does not
      transcend the realm of incidental unimportance.

    9 Gal. i. 16, 17. Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
      neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before
      me; but I went away into Arabia.

      Says Canon Farrar in his “Life and Work of St. Paul,” “It is
      difficult to conceive of any change more total, any rift of
      difference more deep, than that which separated Saul the persecutor
      from Paul the Apostle; and we are sure that—like Moses, like Elijah,
      like our Lord Himself, like almost every great soul in ancient or
      modern times to whom has been intrusted the task of swaying the
      destinies by moulding the convictions of mankind,—like Sakya Mouni,
      like Mahomet in the cave of Hira, like St. Francis of Assisi in his
      sickness, like Luther in the monastery of Erfurdt—he would need a
      quiet period in which to elaborate his thoughts, to still the tumult
      of his emotions, to commune in secrecy and in silence with his own
      soul.... Even on grounds of historic probability, it seems unlikely
      that Saul should at once have been able to substitute a propaganda
      for an inquisition.... And so Saul went to Arabia—a word which must,
      I think, be understood in its popular and primary sense to mean the
      Sinaitic peninsula.”

   10 If Paul, under similar circumstances, was able to foretell the
      result of a shipwreck, as related in the Biblical narrative, why
      should not an equally gifted and illumined soul in like manner be
      clear‐sighted? The higher perception in man is an orderly attainment
      rather than an unearned supernatural bestowment.

   11 Both introduced in the third chapter.

   12 The Biblical narrative repeatedly confirms the supposition that Paul
      was, by nature and experience, subject to trances and visions, or,
      as translated into modern parlance, he was a “psychic.” It is
      evident that this, in legitimate form, is not inconsistent with
      Apostolic devotion and spiritual attainment.

      The recorded experience of Swedenborg’s departure from the body
      during a trance, and witnessing a large fire in Stockholm, three
      hundred miles distant, may be mentioned as an illustration in this
      line, among thousands with which history abounds. While in
      Gottenburg on the 19th of June, 1759, he saw and described in detail
      the progress and final control of the conflagration, which was
      afterwards completely verified.

   13 The Biblical account of this transaction (Acts xxii. 17‐21) is brief
      and natural, and there is no claim or indication that the trance was
      peculiar or miraculous. Paul, in his visions, guidances, and
      miracles, never assumed to be more than human, or unlike other
      imperfect men, in his experiences.

      Has anything done greater harm to the Bible than the glamour that
      has been put upon it, and the distance which has been assumed
      between the events therein related and those which are common to all
      mankind? The laws which govern the psychical, moral, and spiritual
      experiences of men are uniform and unchangeable. Otherwise the whole
      higher economy is chaotic and unreliable.

      If an exalted vision of the Divine, a guidance from the inner Spirit
      of Truth, a miracle of healing, or an interview with one who has
      passed into the Unseen—one or all of these—is possible in one age,
      then, under _like conditions_, it is possible for all time. If the
      Bible were brought near and humanized, it would become clear,
      practical, and harmonious. Its teachings and history would be
      spiritually natural and evolutionary. The grandest work of the
      present time is its rescue from the literalism, strangeness, and
      dehumanization with which it has been burdened. It is thereby
      honored and made congruous. The multitude of warring sects has come
      from its literalization. It is a natural and simple record of the
      experiences of men of varying condition, some of whom were
      spiritually developed in eminent degree. It is inspired because it
      inspires.



                            TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE


Variations in spelling or hyphenation were not changed.

The following changes have been made to the text:

      page 45, single quote changed to double quote after “Defend him!”
      page 153, “occuping” changed to “occupying”
      page 182, “houshold” changed to “household”
      page 425, “proanos” changed to “pronaos”
      page 458, quote mark added after “circles.”





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