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Historical Miniatures by August Strindberg

Part 3 out of 6

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His heavenly kingdom. This mortal must put on immortality, and this
corruptible, incorruption."

The red face of the Emperor, red with wine and the light of the
conflagration, began to assume a look of attention, and it could be
seen from his eyes and ears that he was listening. Did he hear
perhaps how the masses of people whispered their suspicions of the
"incendiary"?

"Pallas!" he roared, "Rome is burning!"

The slave remained speechless from fright.

"Pallas! Are you deaf?"

No answer.

"Pallas! Are you dumb? They say down there that I have fired the
town, but I have not. Run out in the streets and spread about the
report that the Christians have done it."

"No, I will not!" answered the slave.

Nero believed that his ears had deceived him.

"Do you not know," he said, "that the Christians are magicians, and
live like rats in the catacombs, and that all Rome is undermined by
them? I have thought of making the Tiber flow in to drown them, or
of opening the walls of the cloacas and submerging the catacombs in
filth. Their Sibylline books have prophesied the fall of Rome, though
they use the name 'Babylon.' See, now the Capitol takes fire.
Pallas, run out, and say the Christians have done it."

"That I will not do," answered Pallas loud and clearly, "because it
is not true."

"This time my ears have not deceived me," roared the Emperor rising.
"You will not go into the town; then go in through the grating-door
and play with my lions."

He opened the door, and pushed Pallas into the fore-court of the
lions.

"Alexander!" said Pallas, "I have prayed you to be firm and
courageous!"

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the latter day He shall
raise me from the earth."

"What is that you are saying?" said the Emperor, and pulled a cord,
which opened the second door to the lions.

"Alexander, go out into the town, and spread the report that the
Christians have set Rome on fire."

"No," answered Alexander, "for I am a Christian."

"What is a Christian?"

"God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that
whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting
life."

"Will you not perish? Have I not the power to destroy you?"

"You have no power over me, except it be given from above."

"He does not fear death. Lentulus! bring fire here; I will set fire
to your clothes, that we may see if you can burn, I will set your
hair, your beard, your nails on fire; but we will first soak you in
oil and naphtha, in pitch and sulphur. Then we will see whether you
have an everlasting life. Lentulus!"

Lentulus rushed in: "Emperor! The city is in an uproar! Fly!"

"Must I fly? First bring fire!"

"Spain has revolted, and chosen Galba as Emperor."

"Galba! Eheu! fugaces, Postume ... Galba! Well, then, let us fly,
but whither?"

"Through the catacombs, sire."

"No! the Christians live there, and they will kill me."

"They kill no one," said Alexander.

"Not even their enemies?"

"They pray for their enemies."

"Then they are mad! All the better!"

* * * * *

The Christians were assembled in one of the crypts of the
catacombs. "The Capitol is burning; that is the heathen's Zion,"
said Alexander.

"The Lord of Hosts avenges his destroyed Jerusalem."

"Say not 'avenges,' say 'punishes.'"

"Someone is coming down the passage."

"Is it a brother?"

"No, he makes no obeisance before the cross."

"Then it is an executioner."

The Emperor appeared in rags, dirty, with a handkerchief tied round
his forehead. As he approached the Christians, whom in their white
cloaks he took for Greeks, he became quiet and resolved to bargain
with them.

"Are you Greeks?"

"Here is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free,
but all are brothers in Christ! Welcome, brother!"

"It is the Wild Beast," said Alexander.

The Emperor now recognised his escaped slave, and in his terror fell
on his knees.

"Kill me not! I am a poor stone-cutter, who has lost his way. Show
me the way out, whether right or left."

"Do you know me?" asked Alexander.

"Alexander!" answered the Emperor.

"He whom you wished to burn. It is I!"

"Mercy! Kill me not!"

"Stand up, Caesar! Thy life is in God's hand."

"Do I find mercy?"

"You shall have a guide."

"Say whether right or left; then I can help myself."

"Keep to the left."

"And if you lie."

"I cannot lie! Do you see, that is the difference."

"Why do you not lie? I should have done so."

"Keep to the left."

The Emperor believed him, and went. But after going some steps,
he stood still and turned round.

"Out upon you, slaves! Now I shall help myself."

It was a terribly stormy night, when Nero, accompanied by the boy
Sporus, and a few slaves, reached the estate of his freedman Phaon.
Phaon did not dare to receive him, but advised him to hide in a
clay-pit. But the Emperor did not wish to creep into the earth, but
sprang into a pond, when he heard the pursuers approaching, and
remained standing in the water. From this place he heard those who
were going by seeking him, say that he was condemned to be flogged
to death. Then, after some hesitation, he thrust a dagger into his
breast.

His nurse Acte, who had also been his paramour, buried him in a
garden on Monte Pincio. The Romans loved him after his death, and
brought flowers to his grave. But the Christians saw in him the Wild
Beast and the Antichrist of the Apocalypse.

THE APOSTATE

At a date rather more than three hundred years after the Birth of
Christ, the stage of the world's history had shifted from the
Mediterranean to the East. Greece was sunk in everlasting sleep,
Rome lay in ruins and had become a tributary state. Jerusalem was
destroyed, Alexandria at the mouth of the Nile in a state of decay.
The world's metropolis lay on the Black Sea, and was a half-oriental
colony called Byzantium, or, after Constantine the Great,
Constantinople. The heathen world was a waste, and Christianity
had become the State religion. But the spirit of Christianity had
not penetrated the empire. Doctrine indeed there was--plenty of
doctrine--but those at court lived worse lives than the heathen,
and the way to the throne in Byzantium was generally through a murder.

But while the centre of gravity in Europe had shifted to the East,
new conquests had been made in the West and in the North. The Romans
had founded fifty cities on the Rhine, and, since Julius Caesar's
time, all Gaul lay under Roman ploughs and worshipped Roman gods in
Roman temples.

But now that Christianity was to be introduced into Gaul, it
encountered great difficulties. The original religion of the
country, Druidism, had been proscribed by the Emperor Claudius,
and the Roman cult of the gods substituted. And now that a second
alteration of their religion was proposed, the Gauls strongly
resented it. Accordingly Gaul was in a state of disorganisation,
which was likely to result in some new growth.

But under the rule of Constantius, new danger from another side
threatened the newly-formed provinces of Gaul. The German races, the
Franks and the Alemanni, were attracted by the charm of the fertile
land, where the mountains seemed to drop with wine, and the plains
were covered with yellow corn. In order to protect the best of his
provinces, and perhaps for other reasons, the Emperor sent his
cousin and brother-in-law, Julian, to subdue the Germans. Although
Julian had been educated in a convent and at a university, he seems
to have understood the art of war, for he defeated the invaders and
then retired to Lutetia Parisiorum.

The legions had marched up the Mons Martis or Martyrorum, as it was
called by turns. At their head went the insignificant-looking man
with his beard trimmed like a philosopher's--Julian, surnamed
Caesar, but not therefore Emperor. High on the summit of the hill
stood a temple of Mars, but it was closed. When the army had
encamped, Julian went alone to the edge of the hill, in order to
view the town Lutetia, which he had never seen.

On the island between the two arms of the Seine lay the main part of
the town with the temple of Jupiter; but the Imperial Palace and the
Amphitheatre stood on the slope of Mount Parnassus, on the left bank
of the river. For three hundred years from the time of Julius Caesar,
the Emperors had stayed here at intervals. The two last occupants
had been Constantine the Great and Constantius.

After thoughtfully contemplating for a while the valley with the
river flowing through it, Julian exclaimed, "Urbs! Why, it is Rome!
A river, a valley, and hills, seven or more, just as at Rome. Don't
you see, we stand on the Capitoline? On the opposite side we have
Janiculum represented by Mount Parnassus, and in the north Mons
Valerian forms our Vatican. And the city on the island! The island
resembles a ship, just like the island in the Tiber, on which they
have erected an obelisk as a mast, so striking was the similarity.
Caesar indeed was too original to have wished to copy. They call
Byzantium New Rome, but Rome is like a worm; when cut in two, a
living creature is formed from each piece. What do you say,
Maximus?"

"Rome was the city of the seven hills and the seven kings; how many
there will be here, none can say."

"It had never occurred to me," answered Julian, "that Rome had had
just as many kings as hills--a curious coincidence!"

Maximus the Mystic, who, together with the Sophist Priscus, always
accompanied the Emperor, in order to give him opportunities for
philosophising, immediately objected: "There are no 'coincidences,'
Caesar, everything is reckoned and numbered; everything is created
with a conscious purpose, and in harmonious correspondence--the
firmament of heaven and the circle of the earth."

"You have learnt that in Egypt," Priscus interrupted, "for the
Egyptians see the river Nile in the constellation Eridanus. I should
like to know under which constellation this Lutetia lies!"

"It lies under Andromeda, like Rome," answered Maximus, "but Perseus
hangs over the Holy Land, so that Algol stands over Jerusalem."

"Why do you call that cursed land 'holy'?" broke in Julian, who
could not control his generally quiet temper as soon as any subject
was mentioned connected with Christianity, which he hated.

"I call the land 'holy' because the Redeemer of the world was born
there. And you know that He was born without a father, like Perseus;
you know also that Perseus delivered Andromeda, as Jesus Christ will
deliver Rome and Lutetia."

Julian was silent, for, as a Neo-platonist, he liked analogies
between the heavenly and the temporal, and a poetic figure was more
for him than a rhetorical ornament.

Educated in a convent by Christian priests, he had early gained an
insight into the new teaching of Christianity; but he believed that
his philosophic culture had shown him that the seed of Christianity
had already germinated in Socrates and Plato. After he had made the
acquaintance of the Neo-Platonists, he found nothing to object to in
the recently-promulgated dogmas of Christianity. But he felt a
boundless hate against these Galilaeans who wished to appropriate
all the wisdom of the past ages and give it their own name. He
regarded them as thieves. The doctrine of Christ's Divine Sonship
seemed to him quite natural, for as a Pantheist he believed that the
souls of all men are born of God and have part in Him. He himself
acknowledged the dogma recently promulgated at Nicaea, that the Son
is of the same essence as the Father, although he interpreted, it in
his own way. As to miracles, they happened every day, and could be
imitated by magicians. He acknowledged the truth of the Fall of Man,
for Plato also had declared that the soul is imprisoned in matter
--in sinful matter, with which we must do battle. And this had been
confirmed by St. Paul's saying in the Epistle to the Romans, "The
good which I would, that I do not, but the evil, which I would not,
that I do," and again, "I delight in the law of God after the
inward man. But I see another law in my members, which warreth
against the law of my mind.... O wretched man that I am! who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?" That was the lament of the
thinking sensitive man regarding the soul's imprisonment in matter;
the disgust of human nature at itself.

Julian, as a sensitive and struggling spirit, had felt this
pressure, and had honestly and successfully combated the lusts of
the flesh. Grown up though he was, among murderers and sybarites, in
the extravagant luxury of the Byzantine Court, where, for example,
he had at first possessed a thousand barbers and a thousand cooks,
he had abandoned luxury, lived like a Christian ascetic, acted
justly, and was high-minded. He had a perfect comprehension of
the soul's imprisonment in the flesh or of "sin," but understood
nothing of the Redemption through Christ. Three hundred years had
passed since the birth of Christ, and the world had become
continually more wretched. The Christians he had seen, especially
his uncle Constantine the Great, lived worse than the heathen. As
a young man he had tested the new teaching in his own internal
struggles; he had prayed to Christ as to God, but had not been
heard. When he had lamented his plight to the devout Eusebius, the
latter had answered, "Be patient in hope! Continue constant in
prayer."

But the youth answered, "I cannot be patient."

Then Eusebius said, "The deliverance comes, but not in our time. A
thousand years are as a day before the Lord God! Wait five days,
then you will see."

"I will not wait," exclaimed the youth angrily.

"So say the damned souls also. But look you, impatience is one of
the torments of hell, and you make a hell for yourself with your
impatience."

Julian became a hater of Christ, without exactly knowing why. The
philosophers did not teach it him, for they adapted Christianity to
their philosophy. Celsus' feeble attack on Christianity had not
misled Julian's ripe and cultured intelligence. Eusebius explained
his pupil's hatred of Christ in the following way: "He has heathen
blood in him, for he comes of Illyrian stock; he does not belong to
this sheepfold. Or is his pride so boundless, his envy so great,
that he cannot tolerate any Autocrat in the realm of the spirit? He
lives himself like a Christian, and teaches the same as Christ, but
at the same time is a Christ-hater."

* * * * *

Meanwhile Julian, in order to hide his anger, had approached the
little Temple of Mars on the hill. The building was in ruins, the
doors had been carried away, and the columns were broken. As he
entered it, he saw the statue of Mars, modelled after a good Greek
one of Ares, standing in the apse, but the nose was broken off, the
fingers were lacking, and the whole statue was streaked with dirt.

"This is the work of the Galilaeans," said Julian, "but they shall
pay for it."

"They have already paid with their lives," answered Maximus.

"Dionysius [Footnote: St. Denis] was beheaded on the hill, and his
chapel stands there on the slope."

"Are you also a Galilaean?"

"No; but I love justice."

"Justice and its guardian-goddess Astrasa left the earth when the
Iron Age began; now she is a star in heaven."

"In the Zodiac," interrupted Priscus; "I believe also, we all live
in Zodiacs, and there justice has no place."

A sudden murmur of voices was heard from the camp. Julian mounted
a heap of stones to see what was the matter. The whole of the
north-east side of Mars' Hill was covered with soldiers, and below
in the valley were to be seen tents and camp-fires. These thousands
belonged to all the nations of the world. They comprised Romans,
Greeks, Egyptians, Negroes, Hebrews, Persians, Afghans, Scythians,
Germans, Britons, and Gauls. But now they were in movement
and swarming, as gnats do when they dance.

"What is the excitement about?" asked Julian.

A little bell from the chapel of St. Denis sounded the Angelus, and
the Christians fell on their knees, while the heathen remained
standing or continued their occupations. The Christians considered
themselves disturbed, and so did the heathen.

"This religion," said Julian, "which should unite all, only divides
them. If the Church Councils, instead of formulating new creeds, had
done away with all forms, and proclaimed free worship with praise
and adoration of the Highest, all peoples would have bent the knee
before the Nameless, but look at the Christians! Since the law is on
their side, they have the upper hand, and therefore compel the
heathen to adore their Galilaean! But I will not help them. I can
hold nations together, but not professors of creeds. Let us go into
the town. I will not mix in the matter."

Some Christian tribunes approached Julian, with the evident purpose
of complaining, but he waved them off.

* * * * *

Julian had entered Lutetia on foot, accompanied by his philosophers.
He had not allowed himself to be escorted by generals or other
officers, because he did not trust them.

He found the new town to be a miniature of the Rome of the Caesars.
It is true that huts with straw roofs formed the nucleus of it, but
there were also several temples and chapels, a prefecture, a forum,
and an amphitheatre. The forum or market-place was surrounded by
colonnades, in which tradesmen and money-changers' had opened their
shops. One side--the shortest--of it was occupied by the prefecture,
in which the Aedile and Quaestor lived.

Unnoticed and unrecognised by the people, Julian went into the
prefecture. In the hall he saw Christian symbols--the cross, the
fish, the good shepherd, etc. Christianity was certainly the State
religion, but Julian's hatred against everything Christian was so
great that he could not look at these figures. Accordingly he went
out again, called the Prefect down, and bade him show the way to the
Imperial palace and the left side of the river. There he took up
his abode in a simple room resembling a monk's cell. As he had been
obliged to make many detours since he had left Byzantium, and the
punitive expedition against the Franks and Alemanni had consumed
much time, he found letters waiting his arrival. Among them was one
from the Emperor which seriously discomposed Julian.

The attitude of the Emperor towards his cousin had always been
somewhat dubious, almost hostile, and now, after the latter's
victories, envy and fear had taken possession of the mind of the
Byzantine despot. The letter contained a command for Julian to send
back the legions at once, as the war was at an end. Julian saw the
danger if he stripped the newly recovered land bare of defence, but
his sense of duty and conscientiousness bade him obey, and without
hesitation he sent the Emperor's edict to the camp. This was on the
evening of the first day of his arrival.

The next morning Julian had gone out for an excursion with his
learned staff. They slowly climbed Mount Parnassus, and wandered
through the oak wood on the north side, avoiding the beaten paths.
He and his companions philosophised and disputed eagerly, and,
forgetting their surroundings, wandered ever deeper into the forest.
Finally they reached an open space where grazing deer had
taken refuge, and set themselves down to rest on strangely-shaped
stones which lay in a circle. In the oaks over their heads were
large green clumps of a different colour from the oak-leaves, and
these they thought were birds' nests.

"I have never seen so many crows' nests together," said Julian.

"They are not crows' nests, your Majesty," answered the scribe
Eleazar, who acted as Julian's secretary. "That is the sacred
mistletoe, which grows on the oak, and through the operation of
cosmic forces takes this globular form, which is also said to be
that of the earth and the other heavenly bodies."

"Is that...?"

"Yes, and we seem to have entered a sacred sacrificial grove, in
which the primeval deities of the land are still worshipped by the
Druids, although their worship is forbidden."

"Forbidden in spite of the Emperor's edict regarding religious
freedom," broke in the Sophist Priscus.

Julian did not like to be reminded of this edict, through which
Christianity had won freedom to suppress other creeds. He rose with
his companions in order to continue their excursion. After a while
they reached Suresnes and its vineyards, where figtrees and
peach-trees lined the walls. When they had ascended a height, they
saw the whole Seine Valley lying before them, with its fields,
gardens, and villas.

"Why, that is like the sacred land of Canaan!" exclaimed Julian,
enchanted by the lovely landscape.

On the other side of the river rose the Hill of Mars, with its
temples and chapels, and where the soil had been laid bare the white
chalk gleamed in patches, as though a countless number of tents had
been erected on the slopes.

The philosophers stood for a long time there, and contemplated the
view, when a sound was heard like that of an approaching tempest.
But no cloud was visible, and they remained listening and wondering.
The noise increased till cries, shouts, and the clash of arms were
heard. Now the Hill of Mars seemed to be in movement; there were
swarms of men on its summit, and here and there steel could be seen
flashing. Like a river, the mass began to roll down the hill to the
town.

Then the spectators understood. "It is a revolt of the legions,"
exclaimed Maximus.

"The edict has taken effect."

"They seek their own Emperor."

"Then the only thing for us to do is to turn round and go home."
They turned into the path which ran along the river, and followed
it up the stream, in order to be able to see what the legions were
doing. The dark mass, interspersed with flashes From swords and
helmets, poured on in an ever stronger tide.

Quickening their steps, Julian and his companions reached the
palace, in which there was great excitement. Julian was naturally a
courageous man, but as a philosopher he was retiring, and wished to
avoid public scenes. He therefore went through the bath-house and
sought his lonely chamber, in order to await what would happen. He
paced restlessly up and down the room, feeling that the destiny of
his whole future life was just now being decided. So there came what
he half expected. Cries were audible from the courtyard of the
palace,--"Ave Caesar Julianus Imperator! We choose Julian as Emperor!
The crown for Julian! Death to Constantius the murderer and weakling!"

There was no longer any room for doubt. The legions had chosen
Julian Emperor because they would not leave this fertile land, which
they had conquered at the cost of their blood. Julian, who had not
striven for power because he feared responsibility, wished to
decline; but messengers from the army warned him, "If you do not
accept, you will be slain." He who does not dare to rule will be
enslaved. Thus Julian became Emperor of the great realm which
stretched from the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

* * * * *

The night which followed this day was spent by the Emperor in
reflection; and when in the morning, after a bath, he appeared to
his friends, he was hardly recognisable as the same man. He had
literally thrown off the mask, and showed a new face, with a new
expression, almost new features. In spite of his upright character,
Julian, like Constantine, had been compelled to live in a perpetual
state of hypocrisy, by being obliged to favour and practise the
Christian teaching in which he did not believe. He had even been
forced to acknowledge the Trinity and Deity of Christ as promulgated
by the Council of Nicaea, to attend services and observe fasts. The
first thing he did after obtaining power, was to use his freedom and
be what he was. His first act was to separate the sheep from the
goats, i.e. to pick out the "Galilaeans," and form them into legions
by themselves, under the pretext that they could thus better carry
out their religious practices. But at the same time he surrounded
his person exclusively with heathen of the old type,--Hebrews,
Syrians, Persians, and Scythians. Simultaneously he assumed the
gorgeous purple and glittering diadem of the emperors, trimmed
and gilded his beard, and showed himself abroad only on horseback
and with a great train. This done, he made preparations for publicly
receiving the homage of the people, and determined to use the
theatre for that purpose, and to put on the stage _Prometheus_,
the trilogy of Aeschylus, which at that time existed in its
entirety. The Emperor had brought actors with him, and the theatre
stood ready. The news of this had spread in the town, and was
joyfully hailed by the heathen, while the Christians were vexed. The
lower classes had, it is true, expected a gladiatorial show and wild
beast fights, but a "comedy," as they called it, was always welcome.

The day arrived, and the town was in gala attire. The play was to
last from morning to evening without pauses for meals; and as the
spring weather was cold and uncertain, the spectators were advised
to bring the garment known as "cucullus," a short white Roman mantle
with a hood, which was all the more necessary as the theatre stood
under the open sky.

Julian, now called Augustus, came to the theatre at the appointed
time, accompanied by his philosopher friends, who had to take their
seats at a little distance, for the Emperor sat in the imperial box,
whither he had summoned the Prefect, Aedile and Quaestor to be in
attendance on him. He was somewhat astonished not to find these city
authorities there, and as the Aedile was president of the theatre,
they could not begin before he came.

The people had risen as Julian entered, and many tribunes had
shouted "Long live the Emperor!" but thereupon there followed an
embarrassing silence, during which the Emperor was regarded with
cold curiosity. When at last the latter was weary of waiting, he
called his secretary, the Hebrew Eleazar, and commanded him to go
to the prefecture in order to find out the reason of the defaulters'
absence, and at the same time he gave the signal for the play to
commence.

The actors entered, and at the altar commenced to offer the ancient
kind of sacrifice which used to serve as an introduction to
tragedies. Since animal sacrifices had ceased in all religions, even
in the Jewish after the destruction of the Temple, under Titus in
A.D. 70, this unusual proceeding aroused great curiosity. The
legionaries were inured to the sight of blood, but the citizens and
their wives turned away when the goat was sacrificed to Dionysus.
People sought to find the reason for Julian's wish to reintroduce
this custom in his laudable attempt to mingle all religions
together, and to discover a deeper meaning in the ceremonies of all.
The offering indeed was a gift, a sacrifice, and an expression of
gratitude, but Maximus the mystic had also persuaded the Emperor
that there were hidden powers in the blood itself, the source of
life, which attracted spiritual forces of a lower order. Man shed
his mother's blood at his birth and the sacred institution of
circumcision was intended to be a reminder of the bloody and painful
operation of birth. Slaves were slaughtered on the graves of
chieftains, and in the time of Julius Caesar the Romans had on one
extraordinary occasion sacrificed three hundred prisoners.
Captivated by this and by similar philosophical arguments, Julian
was enticed into a course which was destined to lead to his
destruction. After the sacrifice, at which the soldiers had laughed
and the women had wept, the drama commenced in the poet's original
language. Greek was indeed spoken by all people of cultivation from
Palestine to Gaul, but the uneducated did not know it, and therefore
the citizens sat there inattentively.

As the chorus entered for the second time, Eleazar returned with
news. "This is what has happened," he said. "The Bishop of Sens,
the Primate of the Church of Gaul, has entered the town, and is
performing mass in the church. The high officials are present there,
and they accordingly beg to be excused attending on the Emperor.
They thought that he was aware that Christians never go to
the theatre, and they rely upon the edict granting religious
liberty."

Julian turned white with rage. "Good! They shall pay for that! Now,
my Jewish friend, Eleazar, you shall sit near and talk with me. The
actors are wretched, and I cannot endure their pronunciation of Greek."

Eleazar demurred, but the Emperor overruled his objections. The
morning passed, and when the first part of the trilogy was at an
end, part of the public seemed to wish to steal away; but the exits
were closed, in order to avoid the fiasco of actors playing to an
empty house, and the disrespect which would thereby be shown to the
Emperor. But the discontent of the audience continually increased,
for they were tired and hungry. They were also unpleasantly
surprised by the presence of a Jew in the Emperor's box. It was
not, however, because he was a Jew, for hatred of the Jews arose
much later, after the Crusades. During the first centuries after
Christ, Jews were confused with Christians because people believed
that the new religion came from Palestine and was a continuation
of Mosaism. The hostile glances which were cast at Eleazar were
therefore more on account of his mean appearance and position than
of his religion. The favour shown him by the Emperor was especially
a challenge to the Christians, in whose eyes he was an alien and a
heathen.

When, in the second part of the trilogy, Prometheus was nailed to
the rock, the spectators must have thought of the Crucified as the
antitype, for the actor playing that part took that posture,
extended his arms, and let his head sink on his breast. The common
people became more attentive, and as they neither had learnt Greek
nor were acquainted with mythology, they thought that the sufferings
of Christ were being represented on the stage. Since this had
never been done before, they were displeased, and half-audible
conversations began. The Emperor was angry, but did not move a
muscle. He was generally quiet, but when he was enraged his
intelligence forsook him. He sat there in silence, revolving plans
against these barbarians, who had forgotten the wisdom of the
ancients. It was now past noon, and the impatience of the audience
increased. Then the sky began to be covered with clouds and some
flakes of snow fell slowly like white feathers. Those who had
mantles drew them over their heads. The actors looked towards the
Emperor's box, but he did not move, although it had no roof. He was
a soldier, and would not be afraid of anything so trivial as bad
weather.

Now Prometheus began to prophesy to Io of the Deliverer who would be
born to overthrow Zeus and deliver the fire-bringer. The educated
Christians and the heathen looked at each other questioningly, when
Io said, "What dost thou say? Shall my son be thy deliverer?" And
when Prometheus answered, "He will be the third scion after ten
generations," a murmur broke out in the theatre. "Ten generations,"
that was in round numbers 700 years--a period nearly extending to
the birth of Christ, since the Christians reckoned dates from 763
A.D., the end of the mythological era, to which the drama belonged.

Julian perceived that he had "carried wood to the fire," and helped
the Christians without intending to do so. Aeschylus had prophesied
Christ's birth almost to the very year, and intimated that he would
overthrow Zeus. The orthodox followers of Athanasius wished for no
better weapon with which to crush the Arians, who denied the Deity
of Christ.

The snow fell ever more thickly, till at last it was a snowstorm.
Julian was as white as though he wore a shroud, but he did not move,
for he was beside himself with rage against himself, against the
demons who had enticed him to choose this play, and against the
heavenly powers who mocked him.

The whole audience was covered with snow, and discussed theology;
the rabble laughed and quarrelled. The only ones who were protected
against the inclemency of the weather were the actors under the
canopy. But the damp snow was heavy, and the linen awning presently
bent and broke.

Then the whole audience rose and burst into laughter; the actors
crept out from under the masses of snow, the doors opened, and all
fled except Julian and his philosophers.

* * * * *

As soon as Julian had been elected Emperor, he had sent an
ambassador to the Emperor at Byzantium, and now awaited his reply.
It was about the time of the winter solstice and the turn of the
year. The Christians had, at this period, just begun to celebrate
the birth of Christ, and had adopted certain Roman customs from the
Saturnalia, the feast in honour of Saturn. Julian, irritated by the
challenge of the Nazarenes, began to arm himself for resistance and
attack. Now he determined to use his power to give back to
heathendom what belonged to it, and to show the Christians whence
they had derived their knowledge of the highest things. At the same
time he wished to lend heathenism a Christian colouring, so that, at
its return, it might be able to conquer everything. The old Temple
of Jupiter, on the island in the river, was opened one night, and
lights were seen in it. There was also a noise of hammers and
saws, mattocks and trowels. This lasted for some time, and people
talked about it in the town.

One night in midwinter, Julian sat with Maximus, Priscus, and
Eleazar in the Opisthodomos or priests' room, behind the altar in
the Temple of Jupiter. The whole temple was lit up, and the purpose
of the improvements which had taken place could be seen. By the
colonnade on the left hand was an ambo or pulpit, and under it a
confessional; there were also a seven-branched candlestick, a
baptismal font, a table with shewbread, and an incense-altar. These
represented Julian's attempt to attach the new doctrine to the
old, and to amalgamate heathenism, Christianity, and Judaism.
Heliogabalus had indeed attempted the same in his own rough fashion,
by introducing Syrian sun-worship into Rome, but he retained all the
heathen gods, even the Egyptian ones. Neither Christians, however,
nor Jews would have anything to do with it.

Julian did not love the Jews, but his hatred of Christianity was so
great that he preferred to help the stiff-necked race in Palestine,
in order to rouse them against Christ. For that purpose he had given
orders that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and this was
the matter which he wished to discuss with his philosophers and
Eleazar. "What is your opinion, then?" he asked, after finishing a
long speech on the subject. "Let Maximus speak first."

"Caesar Augustus," answered Maximus the mystic, "Jerusalem has been
destroyed from the face of the earth, as the prophets foretold, and
the Temple cannot be rebuilt."

"Cannot? It shall be."

"It cannot! Constantine's mother, indeed, built a church over the
grave of Christ, but the Temple cannot be rebuilt. Since Solomon's
time the history of this city has been a history of successive
destructions. Sheshach, the Philistines, Arabs, Syrians, Egyptians,
and Chaldaeans, destroyed it in early times. Then came Alexander
Ptolemaus, and finally Antiochus Epiphanes, who pulled down the
walls and set up an image of Jupiter in the Temple. But now, mark!
--sixty-three years before Christ, Jerusalem was conquered by Pompey.
What happened in the same year after Christ in the Roman Empire?
Pompeii, the town by Naples, named after the conqueror, was
destroyed in A.D. 63 by an earthquake. That was the answer, and the
Lord of Hosts conquered Jupiter,--Zeus."

"Listen!" broke in Julian, "I don't agree with your Pythagorean
speculations about numbers. If both events had happened in the year
63 before Christ, then I would be nearly convinced."

"Wait, then, Caesar, and you will be. After Pompey had conquered
Jerusalem, and Cassius had plundered it, Herod rebuilt the city and
the Temple. But soon afterwards--_i.e._ in A.D. 70, Jerusalem was
completely destroyed by Titus. Only nine years later Monte Somma
began to throw up fire as it had never done before, and by it
Pompeii and Herculaneum were both destroyed. Pompeii and Herculaneum
were Sodom and Gomorrah, and a temple in Pompeii contained an
image of Vespasian, who had laid waste part of Jerusalem before
Titus. It disappeared altogether. Do you think perhaps that the
Christians set Vesuvius on fire, as Nero believed they had fired
Rome in A.D. 64?"

Julian reflected: "There were nine years between," he said, "but it
seems strange."

"Yes," answered Maximus, "but precisely in the same year 70, in
which Titus destroyed the Temple, the Capitol was burnt."

"Then it is the gods who are warring, and we are only soldiers,"
exclaimed Julian.

Priscus the Sophist, who liked word-encounters, determined to stir
up the embers, as they seemed to be expiring: "But Christ has said
that one stone shall not remain upon another, and that the Temple
shall never be built again."

"Has Christ said that?" answered Julian. "Very well; then he shall
show whether he was a god, for I will build again the Temple of
Solomon."

And turning to Eleazar, he continued, "Do you believe in prodigies?"

"As surely as the Lord lives, as surely as Abraham's God has brought
us out of Egyptian bondage and given us Canaan, so surely will He
fulfil the promise, and restore to us land, city, and Temple!"

"May it be with you according to your belief. The Temple shall be
built up, even though it be not in three days as the Galilaean
thought."

* * * * *

The winter solstice had come, and the Feast of the Saturnalia
commenced in Lutetia. The heathen had always kept the feast in
recollection of the legendary Golden Age, which was said to have
been under the reign of the good Saturn. Then there was peace upon
earth; the lion played with the lamb, the fields brought forth
harvests without husbandry, weapons were not forged, for men were
good and righteous. This beautiful festival, which had been
discontinued by the Romans, had been revived by the Christians, who
at Christ's coming expected a new Golden Age or the Millennium. But
now Julian wished to restore to the heathen their privilege, and at
the same time to show the Nazarenes whence they had derived their
religious usages.

The heathen began to keep the festival in the old way. The shops
were closed, and the city decorated, when on the morrow a procession
was seen issuing from the Basilica to the market-place. At the
head went King Saturn, with his horn of plenty, corn-sheaves, and
doves; he was followed by the Virtues, Fortune, Wealth, Peace,
Righteousness. Then followed an actor dressed like the Emperor, and
by the hand he led a captive, who, in honour of the day, had been
freed from his chains. He was followed by citizens who took their
slaves by the arm; and these in their turn by women and children,
who scattered corn from the sheaves for the sparrows in the street.
The procession passed through the streets, and at first pleased the
beholders.

Then they entered the temple, where there was a seated image of
Jupiter in the apse. It had been cunningly modelled to resemble God
the Father, or Moses, as he began to be represented about that time.
Near and a little beneath this image stood Orpheus in the character
of the Good Shepherd, with a lamb on his shoulders, and carved in
relief on the pedestal was to be seen his descent to Hades, from
which he returned bringing Dike (Justice),--a play on the name
Eurydice. This was a direct hit at the Christians. Before the
divine images stood the Jewish shewbread table, with the bread and
the wine--a reminder of the source from which the Christians had
taken the Eucharist or the Mass. As though by chance, a new-born
heathen child was brought and baptized in the font. To the question
of one, who had studied his part, whether heathen were baptized, it
was answered by one, who also had his role assigned him, that
the ancients had always washed their new-born children.

The whole affair was a comedy staged by Julian.

Then Maximus mounted the pulpit, and, in a Neo-platonic discourse,
expounded all religious images, symbols, and customs. He also showed
that the heathen only worshipped one God, whose many attributes
found expression in various personifications. Then he ostensibly
defended Christ's Deity, the Virgin birth, and miracles. "We are,"
he said, "all of divine origin, since God has created us, and we are
His children. There is nothing remarkable in Christ being born
without a father, since the philosopher Plato was also born of
a virgin without a father." In the middle of his discourse he
exclaimed: "Miracles! Why should we not believe in miracles, since
we believe in Almighty God? His omnipotence signifies that He can
suspend the laws of nature which he has established. He who believes
not in miracles is therefore an ass." The discourse was listened
to by heathen and Christians. The latter thought that they had never
heard anything which so clearly explained mysterious dogmas, and the
heathen found that they were one with the Christians. "What, then,
stands between us?" exclaimed Maximus, carried away by the sight of
the harmony and mutual understanding which prevailed among his
audience. "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?
Why, then, strive one against the other? Have we not here to day
celebrated the recollection of the better times which have been,
and which will surely return, as the light returns with the renewal
of the sun--times of reconciliation and peace on earth, when no one
will be master and no one slave? Here is neither Jew nor Greek nor
Barbarian, but we are all brothers and sisters in one faith.
Therefore love one another; reconcile yourselves with God and each
other; give each other the kiss of peace; rejoice, perfect
yourselves, be of one mind, and the God of love and peace shall be
with you."

The audience was delighted, and with streaming eyes fell in each
other's arms, pressed each other's hands, and kissed each other's
cheeks.

Then suddenly a row of lights was kindled on the altar; that was
part of the ceremonial of the Saturnalia, and signified the return
of the sun. This custom was adopted by the Christians in celebrating
the Birth of Christ or Christmas.

After this beggars were brought forward, and those of the upper
classes washed their feet. Then twelve slaves took their seats at a
covered table, while their masters served them. Julian, who, hidden
in the Opisthodom, had watched the whole ceremony, secretly
rejoiced, because by means of these ancient heathen rites he had
entirely defeated the Christians. In them, as he had intended, there
was a wordless expression of philanthropy and charity, and both
had existed from time immemorial.

Finally, the children were brought forward, and received as presents
dolls modelled of wax and clay. The illusion was complete, and the
Christians felt as though under an enchanter's spell. "The heathen
are Christians after all!" they exclaimed. "Why, then, strive and
quarrel, when we are one?"

There was an overflow of emotion, and the success of the experiment
was complete. That was the victory of the first day. When, on the
following day, the Christians wished to celebrate their Christmas
festival, it necessarily appeared a mere copy of that of the
heathen.

* * * * *

The Saturnalia lasted seven days, and Julian, intoxicated with his
success, resolved to introduce the whole of the ancient ceremonies
in all their terrible splendour. His philosophers warned him, but he
did not listen to them any more; he must have his hecatombs; a
hundred oxen adorned with garlands were to be slaughtered in the
open space before the Temple of Jupiter, as a sacrifice to the
ancient gods.

"He is mad!" lamented Eleazar.

"Whom the gods would destroy, they strike with blindness. Now he
pulls down, what he had built up."

It is difficult to explain how the highly cultivated, clever, and
aesthetic Julian could conceive the wild idea of reintroducing
animal sacrifices. It was really butchery or execution, and neither
butchers nor executioners enjoyed much respect in society. It looked
as though his hatred of Christ had clouded his understanding, when,
arrayed in the garb of a sacrificial priest, he led forth the first
ox, with its horns gilded and wearing a white fillet.

After he had kindled incense on the altar, he poured the bowl of
wine over the head of the ox, thrust his knife in its throat and
turned it round. A shudder ran through the crowd, who remained
riveted to their places.

But as the blood spirted around, and the Emperor opened the
quivering body of the animal in order to take an augury from its
entrails, a cry rose which ended in an uproar, and all fled. The
word "Apostate!" for the first time struck his ear. That was the
signal of his defeat, and, as the animals were released by those who
held them, they fled away through the streets of the town.

The Emperor, in his white robe sprinkled with blood, had to return
alone to his palace, while Christians and heathen alike shouted
their disapprobation.

"See the butcher!" they cried; "Apostate! Renegade! Madman!"

When Julian came to his palace, he looked as though petrified; but,
without changing his clothes, he sat down to the table and wrote an
edict against the Christians, in which they were forbidden to study,
and to fill offices of State. That was his first step.

In the evening of the same day Julian received a letter: it was from
the Emperor Constantius in Byzantium, who did not acknowledge his
election to the imperial throne, and threatened to bring an army
against him in Gaul. This was quite unexpected, and Julian left
Lutetia in order to march against his cousin. As he went towards the
East, he felt as though he were going to his death. But the first
throw of the dice of destiny was a lucky one for him. Constantius
died on the march, and Julian was left sole Emperor. This he took
for a sign that the gods were on his side, and he proceeded on his
campaign feeling that he was supported by the higher powers. But it
was only the last jest of his gods.

It is related that before his last march against the Persians, he
wished to ascertain his destiny, and had a woman's body cut open in
order to take an augury from the entrails. But that may be untrue,
as is also the case with the conflicting reports of his death, which
happened soon after. One thing, however, is certain; the "Galilaean"
conquered Zeus, who rose no more.

It is also a fact, confirmed by Christian, Jewish, and heathen
writers, that the Temple of Jerusalem was never built again, for as
the foundation was about to be laid, fire broke out of the ground
accompanied by an earthquake. The same earthquake also destroyed
Delphi, "the centre of the earth," and the focus of the religious
and political life of Greece.

ATTILA

With the demise of Constantine the Great, Greece, Rome, and
Palestine had ceased to exist. Civilisation had passed Eastward, for
Constantinople was the metropolis of Europe; and from the East,
Rome, Spain, Gaul, and Germany were governed by satraps with various
titles. It seemed as though the vitality of Europe had been quenched,
and as though Rome had been buried, but it was only apparently so.
History did not proceed in a straight line, but took circuitous
paths, and therefore development seemed to be in disorder and astray.
But it was not really so.

Christianity, which was about to penetrate the West, had sprung from
the East, and so ancient Byzantium formed a transition stage. In
Rome, which had been left to itself, for its governors dwelt in
Milan and Ravenna, a new spiritual world-power was springing up,
which was silently forging a new imperial crown, in order to give it
to the worthiest when the time was fulfilled. The advent of this
heir had already been announced by Tacitus--a new race from the
North, healthy, honest, good-humoured. These were the Germans, who
were to hold the Empire for a thousand years from 800 to 1815.
Already, at the commencement of the fifth century, the West Goths
had captured Rome, but again withdrawn; other German races had
overrun Spain, Gaul, and Britain, but none of them had taken firm
root in Italy. Then an entirely new race appeared upon the scene,
whose origin was unknown, and the promise of possessing the land
which had been given to the Germans seemed to have been revoked, for
the Huns finally settled in Hungary, and exacted tribute from all
the nations in the world. Round a wooden castle and a few barracks
on the river Theiss, there collected a crowd of Greeks, Romans,
Byzantines, and Germans of all kinds to do homage before a throne on
which sat a savage who resembled a lump of flesh.

In the year 453 A.D. this King, after many adventures, wished to
celebrate one of his numerous marriages. He had summoned the chief
men of all Europe--summoned--for a King does not invite. So they
came riding from North, South, East, and West.

From the west, along the bank of the Danube, just below the place
where the river makes a curve at the modern Gran, came two men
riding at the head of a caravan. For several days they had followed
the picturesque banks of the green river, with its bulrushes and
willows, and its swarms of wild duck and herons. Now they were about
to leave the cool shades of the forest region, and turn eastward
towards the salt desert, which stretched to the banks of the
yellow Theiss.

One leader of the caravan was a well-known Roman, called Orestes;
the other was Rugier, also called Edeko. He was a chief from the
shores of the Baltic Sea, and had been compelled to follow Attila.

The two leaders had hitherto spoken little together, for they
mistrusted each other. But as they emerged on the wide plain, which
opened out as clear and bright as the surface of the sea, they
seemed themselves to grow cheerful, and to lay aside all mistrust.

"Why are you going to the marriage?" asked Orestes.

"Because I cannot remain away," answered Edeko.

"Just like myself."

"And the Bride--the Burgundian did not dare to say 'no' either?"

"She? Yes, she would have dared to."

"Then she loved this savage?"

"I did not say that."

"Perhaps she hates him, then? A new Judith for this Holofernes?"

"Who knows? The Burgundians do not love the Huns since they pillaged
Worms in their last raid."

"Still it is incomprehensible how he recovered from his defeat on
the Catalaunian Plain."

"Everything is incomprehensible that has to do with this man, if he
is a man at all."

"You are right. He is said to have succeeded his father's brother,
Rua, of whom we know nothing; he has murdered his brother Bleda. For
twenty years we have had him held over us like an iron rod, and yet
lately, when he was before Rome, he turned back."

"But he has promised his soldiers to give them Rome some day."

"Why did he spare Rome?"

"No one knows. No one knows anything about this man, and he himself
seems to be ignorant about himself. He comes from the East, he says;
that is all. People say the Huns are the offspring of witches and
demons in the wilderness. If anyone asks Attila what he wants, and
who he is, he answers, 'The Scourge of God.' He founds no kingdom,
builds no city, but rules over all kingdoms and destroys
all cities."

"To return to his bride: she is called Ildico; is she then a
Christian?"

"What does Attila care? He has no religion."

"He must have one if he calls himself 'the Scourge of God,' and
declares that he has found the War-God's sword."

"But he is indifferent as regards forms of religion. His chief
minister, Onegesius, is a Greek and a Christian."

"What an extraordinary man he is to settle down here in a salt-plain
instead of taking up his abode in Byzantium or in Rome."

"That is because it resembles his far Eastern plains--the same soil,
the same plants and birds; he feels at home here."

They became silent, as the sun rose and the heat increased. The
low-growing tamarisk, wormwood, and soda-bushes afforded no shade.
Wild fowl and larks were the only creatures that inhabited the waste.
The herds of cattle, goats, and swine had disappeared, for Attila's
army of half a million had eaten them up, and his horses had not left
a single edible blade of grass.

At noon the caravan came suddenly to a halt, for on the eastern
horizon there was visible a town with towers and pinnacles, on the
other side of a blue lake. "Are we there?" asked Edeko. "Impossible;
it is still twenty miles, or three days' journey."

But the city was in sight, and the caravan quickened its pace. After
half an hour the town appeared no nearer, but seemed, on the contrary,
to grow more distant, to dwindle in size, and to sink out of sight.
After another half hour, it had disappeared, and the blue lake also.

"They can practise enchantment," said the Roman, "but that goes
beyond everything."

"It is the Fata Morgana, or the mirage," explained the guide.

As the evening came on, the caravan halted in order to rest for the
night.

* * * * *

On the stretch of land between Bodrog and Theiss, Attila had his
standing camp, for it could not be called a town. The palace was of
wood, painted in glaring colours, and resembled an enormous tent,
whose style was probably borrowed from China, the land of silk. The
women's house, which was set up near it, had a somewhat different
form, which might have been brought by the Goths from the North, or
even from Byzantium, for the house was ornamented with round wooden
arches. The fittings seemed to have been stolen from all nations
and lands; there were quantities of gold and silver, silk and satin
curtains, Roman furniture and Grecian vessels, weapons from Gaul,
and Gothic textile fabrics. It resembled a robber's abode, and such
in fact it was.

Behind the palace enclosure began the camp, with its smoke-grimed
tents. A vast number of horse-dealers and horse-thieves swarmed in
the streets, and there were as many horses as men there. Without the
camp there grazed herds of swine, sheep, goats, and cattle--living
provision for this enormous horde of men, who could only devour and
destroy, but could not produce anything.

Now, on the morning of Attila's wedding day, there were moving about
in this camp thousands of little men with crooked legs and broad
shoulders, clothed in rat-skins and with rags tied round their
calves. They looked out of their tents with curiosity, when strangers
who had been invited to the marriage feast came riding up from the
plain.

In the first street of tents, Attila's son and successor, Ellak, met
the principal guests; he bade them welcome through an interpreter,
and led them into the guest-house.

"Is that a prince, and are those men?" said Orestes to Edeko.

"That is a horse-dealer, and the rest are rats," answered Edeko.
"They are monsters and demons, vampires, created from dreams of
intoxication. They have no faces; their eyes are holes; their voice
is a rattle; their nose is that of a death's-head; and their ears
are pot-handles."

"You speak truly, and it is from these half-naked savages, who have
no armour and no shield, that the Roman legions have fled. They are
goblins, who have been able to 'materialise' themselves."

"They will not conquer the world."

"At any rate not in this year."

Then they followed Prince Ellak, who had heard and understood every
word, although he pretended not to know their language.

* * * * *

In the women's house sat Attila's favourite, Cercas, and sewed the
bridal veil. Ildico, the beautiful Burgundian, stood at the window
lost in thought and absent-minded. She had seen in Worms the hero
before whom the world trembled, and she had really been captivated
by the little man's majestic bearing. Herself fond of power, and
self-willed, she had been enticed by the prospect of sharing power
with the man before whom all and everything bowed; therefore she had
given him her hand.

But she had had no correct comprehension of the manners and customs
of the Huns, and had therefore imagined that her position as wife
and Queen would be quite otherwise than it proved to be. Only this
morning she had learnt that she could not appear at all at the
marriage feast, nor share the throne, but would simply remain shut
up with the other women in the women's house.

Cercas, the favourite, had explained all this with malicious joy to
her rival, and the haughty Ildico was on the point of forming a
resolution. She had no friends in the palace, and could not approach
the foreign princes.

Cercas was sewing, and accompanied her work with a melancholy song
from her home in the far East. Ildico seemed to have collected her
thoughts: "Can you lend me a needle?" she said, "I want to sew."

Cercas gave her a needle, but it was too small; she asked for a
larger one, and chose the largest of all. She hid it in her bosom,
and did not sew.

At that moment there appeared in the doorway a creature so
abominably ugly and of such a malicious aspect, that Ildico thought
he was a demon. He was as jet-black as a negro from tropical Africa,
and his head seemed to rest on his stomach, for he had no chest. He
was a dwarf and humpback; his name was Hamilcar, and he was Attila's
court-fool.

In those days the court-fool was generally not a wit, but a naive
blockhead, who believed all that was said, and was therefore a butt
for jests. He only placed a letter in Cercas' hand, and disappeared.
When Cercas had read the letter, she changed colour and seemed to
become a different being. Overcome with rage, she could not speak,
but sang,

"The tiger follows the lion's trail."

"Ildico, you have found a friend," she said at last. "You have a
friend here in the room, here at the window, here on your breast."
And she threw herself on the Burgundian maiden's breast, weeping and
laughing alternately. "Give me your needle--your fine beautiful
needle; I will thread it. No! I will sharpen it on steel; no, I will
dip it in my perfume-flask, my own special little perfume flask, and
then together we will sew up the Tiger's mouth, so that he can
bite no more!"

"Let me read your letter," Ildico interrupted.

"You cannot. I will tell you what it says. He, our master, woos
again for the hand of the daughter of the Emperor Valens--Honoria,
and this time he has vowed to burn us all;--that he calls giving us
an honourable burial."

Ildico reached out her hand as an answer, "Very well, to-night. A
single needle-prick will deprive the world of its ruler!"

* * * * *

Edeko and Orestes had thoroughly rested from their journey in the
guest-house. At noon, when they wished to go out, they found the
door bolted.

"Are we prisoners? Have we fallen into a trap?" asked the Roman.

"We have not had any food either," answered Edeko.

Then two voices were heard without: "We will strangle them; that is
the simplest way."

"I think we had better set the house on fire; the tall one is
strong."

"And they thought we did not understand their language."

The two prisoners, whose consciences were uneasy, were alarmed, and
believed that their end was near. Then a small trap-door opened in
the wall, and the fool Hamilcar showed his hideous head.

"Whether you are the devil or not," exclaimed the Roman, "answer us
some questions."

"Speak, sirs," said the negro.

"Are we prisoners, or why cannot we see your King?"

Prince Ellak's head appeared at the trap-door.

"You will first see the King this evening at the feast," said the
Prince, with a malicious grimace.

"Are we to fast till then?"

"We call it so, and do it always when we have a feast before us, in
order to be able to eat more."

"Cannot we at any rate go out?"

"No," answered the Prince with the horse-dealerlike face. "One must
conform to the custom of the country." So saying, he closed the
trap-door.

"Do you think we shall get away alive?" asked Edeko.

"Who knows? Attila is composed of treachery. You do not know that
once he wrote two letters, one to Dieterich, King of the West Goths,
asking for an alliance against the Romans as the common enemy; and
on the same day he wrote a similar letter to the Romans, in which he
proposed an alliance against the West Goths. The deceit was
discovered, and Attila fell between two stools."

"He seems to be immortal, otherwise he would have been killed in
battle, as he always goes at the head of his army."

Until evening the travelling companions remained incarcerated. At
last the door was opened, and a master of the ceremonies led them
into the hall where the great feast was to take place. Here there
were countless seats and tables covered with the most costly cloths
and drinking vessels of gold and silver. The guests were assembled,
but the two travellers saw no faces that they knew; they looked in
vain for the bridegroom and the bride. As they were conducted to
their places, a low murmur broke out among the guests, who talked in
an undertone, and asked where the great King would show himself.

Orestes and Edeko cast their eyes over the walls and ceiling without
being able to see where the wonder would happen, for the childish
and cunning Huns used to amuse their guests with surprises and
practical jokes.

Suddenly the whole assembly stood up. The curtain which covered the
wall in the background was drawn aside, and on a platform sat a
little insignificant-looking man, with a table before him and a sofa
beside him. On the table stood a wooden goblet. He sat quite
motionless, without even moving his eyelids. Somewhat lower than he
stood his chief Minister, the Greek Onegesius. He kept his eyes
unwaveringly fixed on his master, who seemed to be able to converse
with him through his eyes.

Attila remained in the same attitude, his legs crossed, and his
right hand on the table. He gave no greeting, neither did he answer
any.

"He does not see us! He only shows himself!" whispered Orestes. "He
sees well!"

Onegesius received a command from the despot's eye, and lifted his
staff. A poet stepped forward with an instrument that resembled a
harp and a drum combined. After he had struck the strings, and
beaten the drum, he began to recite. It was a song celebrating all
Attila's feats in terms of strong exaggeration, and it would have
been endless, if the assembly had not taken up the refrain and
struck with their short swords on the table. The poet represented
Attila's defeat on the Catalaunian Plain as an honourable but
indecisive battle. After the guests had for some time contemplated
the insignificant-looking hero in his simple brown leather dress,
they both felt the same irresistible reverence that all did who
saw him.

There was something more than vanity in this self-conscious calm;
this visible contempt for all and everything. He kept his side-face
turned to the guests, and only his Minister could catch his eye.

When the panegyric was at an end, Attila raised his goblet, and,
without drinking to anyone, sipped it. That was, however, the signal
for a drinking orgy, and the wine was poured into gold and silver
goblets, which had to be emptied at a draught, for Attila liked to
see those around him intoxicated, while he remained sober.

After they had drunk for a while, the negro Hamilcar came forward
and performed feats of jugglery. Then the great King rose, turned
his back to the assembly, and laid down on the sofa. But in each of
his movements there was majesty, and as he lay there thinking, his
knees drawn up, his hands under his neck, and his eyes directed
towards the ceiling, he was still imposing.

"But what about the bride and the marriage?" Orestes asked one of
the Huns.

"We do not even mention our wives," he answered, "how, then, should
we show them?"

The drinking continued, but no food was placed before the guests. At
intervals the whole assembly sang, and beat upon the tables.

While the noise and excitement were at their height, the hall
suddenly filled with smoke, and the building was in flames. All
started up, shouted and sought to flee, but Attila's Minister struck
with his staff on the table, and the assembly broke into laughter.
It was a jest for the occasion, and only some waggon-loads of hay
had been kindled outside. When quiet had been restored, Attila was
no more to be seen, for he had left the hall by a secret door.
And now began the feast, which lasted till morning.

* * * * *

When the sun rose, Orestes was still sitting and drinking with an
Avar chief. The condition of the hall was indescribable, and most of
the guests were dancing outside round the fire.

"This is a wedding-feast indeed!" said Orestes. "We shall not quickly
forget it. But I would gladly have spoken with the wonderful man. Can
one not do that?"

"No," answered the Avar; "he only speaks in case of need. 'What is
the use of standing,' he asks, 'and deceiving one another?' He is a
wise man, and not without traces of kindness and humanity. He allows
no unnecessary bloodshed, does not avenge himself on a defeated foe,
and is ready to forgive."

"Has he any religion? Does he fear death?"

"He believes on his sword and his mission, and death is for him only
the door to his real home. Therefore he lives here below, as though
he were a guest or traveller."

"Quite like the Christians, then?"

"It is remarkable that in Rome he received respect from Pope Leo
--What's the matter now?"

Outside there was a shouting which at first seemed to issue from the
palace, but soon spread itself over the camp. Half a million of men
were howling, and it sounded like weeping.

The guests hurried out, and saw all the Huns dancing, cutting their
faces with knives, and shouting unintelligible words. Edeko came up
and pulled Orestes away through the crowds. "Attila is dead! May
Jesus Christ be praised!"

"Dead? That is Ildico's doing!"

"No! she sat by the corpse, veiled and weeping."

"Yes, it is she."

"Yes, but these savages are too proud to believe that Attila could
be killed by a human being!"

"How fortunate for us!"
"Quick to Rome with the news. The fortune of the man who first
brings it is made."

Orestes and Edeko departed the same morning. They never forgot this
wedding which had brought them together.

Later on they renewed their acquaintance, under other and still more
striking circumstances. For the son of Edeko was Odovacer, who
defeated the son of Orestes, who was no other than the last Emperor
Romulus Augustus. Strangely enough his name was Romulus, as was that
of Rome's first King, and Augustus, as was that of the first Emperor.
After his deposition, he closed his life with a pension of six
thousand gold pieces, in a Campanian villa, which had formerly
belonged to Lucullus.

THE SERVANT OF SERVANTS

Rome had become a provincial town and a dependency of Byzantium. It
was governed by an Exarch in Ravenna, but often abandoned to its
fate when the barbarians from the north amused themselves from time
to time by raiding and pillaging it. For three hundred years no
Emperor had visited Rome, and the former queen of the world lay
despised in rubbish and ruin. But presently people began to
collect and piece together the ruins of temples and palaces, and
build churches out of them. Five hundred years after the death of
Nero, an already ancient church of St. Peter stood in the middle of
the tyrant's circus, where the martyrs had suffered death. There
were at least seven other churches in different parts of the town,
and the Bishop of Rome dwelt in the Lateran Palace, near the church
of the same name. There were also convents, and on the Appian Way
stood the St. Andrew's Convent, close to the Church of the Cross,
which was built at the entrance to the catacombs.

About two o'clock one summer morning, all the fathers and brothers
had risen, and read or sung early mass in the chancel. Afterwards
the Abbot had gone into the garden in order to reflect. It was still
dark, but the stars shone between the olive and orange trees, and
the flowers swayed in the gentle breeze of the dawn.

The Abbot, a man of about fifty, strolled up and down in a covered
arbour-walk, and every time he reached the south end he remained
standing, in order to contemplate a marble tablet, erected by the
side of other tablets. It stood over his future grave, which was by
the side of the abbots who had already been buried. His name and the
year of his birth were engraved upon the marble, while a space was
left for the date of his death.

"O Lord, how long wilt Thou forget me?" he sighed, as he turned
round again. After he had thus continued walking till daybreak, he
sat down in an arbour, in order to write something in a book which
he took out of his pocket. The noise of awaking life in the city did
not disturb him--nothing disturbed the white-haired man of fifty who
had already been two hours on his legs without eating anything.
Church bells rang, carts rattled, and the rushing of the Tiber
could be heard through all other noises. But the old man continued
to write, while his wrinkled face was faintly lit up by the red of
dawn. At last steps were heard on the gravel-path; a novice entered
the arbour, and placed a bowl of bread and milk by the Abbot. The
latter started, as though he had been recalled from far away, and
exclaimed, "Leave me in peace!" The novice remained standing,
frightened and troubled. Then a little bird, which had been sitting
in the arbour, struck up its song. The Abbot looked up, his
countenance cleared, he cast a glance on the bowl of milk which he
eagerly seized, and was in the act of raising it to his mouth, but,
as he noticed the youth's troubled aspect, he stopped. "Forgive my
anger," he said, "but I was far away. As a penance, I do this!"

He was about to pour the milk on the ground, but in order that it
might not be wasted, he poured it on the roots of a reddish-yellow
lily that stood in one of the border-beds. As the novice gave no
sign of going, the Abbot asked, "You wish to speak with me? Speak!"

"Holy Father."

"I am not holy; One is holy, the Lord your God in heaven! If you
have a complaint, make it."

"I was a rich youth, who went and sold all that he had."

"I also did that when I was young, and then built seven convents,
but have not regretted it. What have you against it? Why do you
complain?"

The youth was silent.

"Is it about the food? There is a famine round us, and we must share
with the poor."

"Not only that, venerable father, but the whole way of living here
does not accomplish what it is intended to do."

"Say on."

"The scanty food does not subdue the flesh, for as I go about hungry
the whole day, I involuntarily think only about eating--in church,
during prayer, in solitude. The small amount of sleep makes me
sleepy the whole day, and I go to sleep in the chancel. Desires,
which I had not known before, are aroused by suppression; when I see
wine, I feel a real longing to get vital warmth into my body."

"Then go and ask a brother to scourge you till you swim in your
blood, then you will feel the vital warmth return."

"I have done that, but the blows only waken new desires."

"Read St. Augustine."

"I have done that. But the worst of all is the dirt. If I could
bathe.

"Are you dirty? That betokens inward defilement. I never bathe, but
my body is always clean. But I have noticed, as soon as my thoughts
become impure, the body becomes impure! What do you think, then,
will do you good? You do not wish to marry. Tertullian says marriage
and fornication are the same. And St. Jerome is of opinion that it
is better to burn than to marry."

"But St. Paul."

"Let St. Paul alone! But what do you want to do?"

"I cannot remain here, for I think that desires can only be
extinguished by being satisfied."

"Servant of Satan! Do you not know that desires never can be
satisfied? You were once with your parents. You ate as much as you
liked in the morning. Well! Were you not hungry again by noon?
Certainly. So you cannot really satisfy yourself by eating! Now I
will tell you one thing. You are a child of the world; you don't
belong here; therefore go in peace! Eat of the swine's husks which
do not satisfy; but when you are sick of them, you will be welcome
here again. The father's house always stands open for the prodigal
son."

The youth did not go, but burst into tears.

"No," he said, "I cannot return to the world, for I hate it and it
hates me, but here I perish."

The Abbot rose and embraced him. "Poor child! Such is the world,
such is life; but if it is so, and if you see that it is so, the
only thing left is to live it; and count it a point of honour to
live till death comes and liberates us."

"No! I want to die now," sobbed the youth.

"We may not do that, my son"; the words escaped from the old man.
"If you knew ... if you knew...."

But he restrained himself: "What shall we do, then? Go to Father
Martin and have some food, and a glass of wine, but only one; then
go and have a good long sleep. Sleep for a day or two. Then come,
that I may see you. Go now--but wait a minute--you must have a
dispensation from me."

He sat down and wrote something on a page which he had torn out of
the book. Armed with this permission, the youth departed, looking,
however, somewhat hesitatingly and abashed.

The Abbot remained sitting, but did not begin to write again.
Instead of that, he commenced crumbling the bread and strewing the
crumbs on the table. Immediately a little bird came and picked one
up; then there followed several, who settled on the old man's hand,
arms, and shoulders. A spray of vine hung from the roof of the
arbour and swayed gently in the wind. Its ring-like tendrils felt
about in the air for a support. The Abbot was amused, and placed his
finger jestingly into one of the rings: "Come, little thing! here is
your support!"

The tendril seemed to hear him, immediately curled round his finger,
and formed a ring.

"Shall I get the ring?" jested the old man. "Perhaps I shall be a
bishop. God deliver me!"

The Dean appeared in the door of the arbour. "Do I disturb you,
brother?"

"No, not at all! I am only sitting here and playing."

"Birds and flowers! White lilies too? I have never seen such
before."

"White? Just now they were reddish-yellow! Where do you see them?"

"There!"

The Abbot looked down on the ground where he had poured his milk,
and behold! there were only white lilies, without a single yellow
one. He did not venture to speak about it, for one cannot speak of
such things; but he smiled to himself, and saw a token of grace in
it.

"Well, Dean, how goes it in the city?"

"The Tiber is sinking."

"God be praised; but the whole of Trastevere has been ruined by the
flood. I really wish that a great flood would come and drown us all
--the whole human race--and very likely it will come some day."

"Still as hopeless as ever!"

"No, not without hope, but for that world, not for this. Christ says
it Himself in the Apocalypse: here is nothing on which one can
build; for the best that we have enjoyed was but trouble and misery."

"Not so, brother."

"You can flourish in mud, but that I have never done. And it seems
as though one were compelled to wade in it with both feet. Did I not
begin in my youth to preserve my soul by withdrawing from the world?
Then I was compelled to go out into it, thrust into the confusion by
force. They made me Prefect of the city. I wished to live in the
service of the Lord, and had to distribute eatables for the poor,
procure beds for the hospitals, look after drains and water-pipes.
The burden of the day's task hindered my thoughts from rising, and I
sank in the swamp of material things--sank so deep that I believed I
should never rise again."

"But the people blessed you."

"Hush! And I--I who had never worn a sword--had to collect soldiers
and march to the field. When I was six years old Rome was pillaged
by Totila the Goth, and so ravaged that only five hundred Romans
remained. When I was seven years old, there came Belisarius--when I
was twelve, Narses. Then I was sent as ambassador to Constantinople
--I who hated travelling and publicity. All that I hate, I have been
obliged to accept. Now I am tired, and would like to go to rest. I
sit here and wait, for my grave to open."

"Do you remember what Virgil says in the _Georgics_ regarding the
labour of the husbandman?"

"No, I hate the heathen."

"Wait! He says these words of wisdom: 'If Zeus sends bad weather,
mice and vermin, it is to stimulate the husbandman's energy, and
call forth his inventive capacity.' Misfortune comes to help the
world forward."

"The world goes backward towards its overthrow and its damnation.
For five hundred years we have awaited the Redemption, but we have
only seen one wild race come after another, to murder and pillage.
Do you see any reason in all this sowing without reaping?"

"Blasphemer! Yes, I see how green harvests are ploughed up to
fertilise the soil."

"Dragon's-seed and hell's harvest. No--now I go into my grave, and
close the door behind me; I have a right to rest after a life so
full of trouble and work."

"The bell is ringing for prime."

"Jam moesta quiesce querela."

* * * * *

The Tiber had overflowed Rome, and destroyed quite a quarter of it,
but spared the convent of St. Andrew. The Abbot sat again one
morning in his garden and wrote, but in such a position that he
could see his grave when he looked up from his work. Deep in his
writing, he did not hear what was happening around him. But he saw
that the flowers in the beds began to shake like reeds, frogs
jumped about at his feet, and there was a smell of dampness that was
at the same time mouldy and poisonous.

He continued to write, but his eye, although intent on the passage
of his pen over the paper, noticed something dark that moved on the
ground, spread itself like a black carpet, and came nearer. Suddenly
his feet were wet, and a deathlike chill crept up his legs. Then he
awoke and understood. The Tiber had risen, and he was driven out of
his last refuge. "I will not go," he cried, as the alarm-bell
sounded, and the monks fled.

He went to his cell in the upper story, firmly resolved not to flee.
He would not go out into the world again, but would die here. The
flood which he had prayed for, had come. But he had a spiritual
conflict and agony of prayer in his cell: "Lord, why dost thou punish
the innocent? Why dost thou chastise Thy friends and let Thy foes
flourish? For five hundred years Thou hast avenged Thyself on Thy
children for the misdeeds of their fathers! If that is not enough,
then destroy us all at once!"

The water rose and lapped against the walls; the garden was
destroyed, and the Abbot's grave filled with water, but he remained
where he was. At one time he sang hymns of praise, then he raged;
then he prayed for pardon, and raged again.

After that he set himself to write at the great work which should
make him immortal,--his "Magna Moralia." It was now noon, but he
felt no hunger, for by practice he had learned to fast for three
days together. During the afternoon, a noise at the window made him
look up from his book. There lay a boat, and in it sat the novice
Augustinus. The extraordinary, almost comic, aspect of things,
elicited a smile from him, and, remembering his conversation with
the youth, he asked through the open window, "Well, did you get
the wine and good food, you glutton?" "No, venerable Father; I did
not want it when I could have it, and then the temptation was over.
But now I have to speak of something else. The plague has broken
out, and people are dying like flies."

"The plague too! Oh Lord, how long wilt Thou altogether forget us!
The plague too!"

Then he rose. "Everyone to his post! Let us do our duty! Bless the
Lord, and die!" The Abbot stepped out of his window into the boat,
and left his sinking ship.

* * * * *

The Tiber sank to its level again, but left behind snakes, fishes,
and frogs, which died and infected the air. The people had fled to
the hills; on the Palatine Hill they had made a hospital out of a
church. Here the Abbot of the St. Andrew's Convent walked about,
gave drink to the sick, and spoke comfort to the dying. "Why do you
fear death, children?" he said. "Fear life, for that is the real
death." He seemed to be quite in his element here, showed a calm,
cheerful temper, and sought to decipher on the faces of the dead,
"whether they were happy on the other side."

Death would have nothing to do with him. Often he went to the other
hills, and walked about among the sick and dying, so that the people
began to think that he was an immortal who had come down to comfort
them. The older ones remembered him as Prefect, when he defended the
city against the Goths, Vandals, and Longobards, and his fame
continually grew.

The pestilence raged, and the number of the dead increased, so that
the corpses could no longer be buried. All occupations ceased, and
the peasants brought no more food into the city. There was a famine.
The Abbot of the St. Andrew's Convent, Gregory, lost courage, and
wanted to abandon all, "I cannot fight against God, and if it be His
will that Rome perish, it is godless to wish to prevent it." In the
midst of this tribulation, Pelagius II, the Bishop or Pope of Rome,
as he was afterwards called, died. The people with one voice
clamoured for the Abbot Gregory to succeed him. But, like King Saul
and the Emperor Julian, he hid himself. He fled from the town to a
hermit's grotto in the Sabine Mountains. But the people came,
brought him out, and led him back to Rome, where he was consecrated
as Gregory I. For thirteen years Gregory ruled over the former queen
city of the world. He was Governor, for the Exarch of Ravenna
existed no more, having been driven away by the Longobards. He
asked help from the Emperor in Byzantium, but obtained none. He was
thrown upon his own resources, and succeeded by the power of his
eloquence in disarming King Agilulf, who threatened Rome.

But he was also Bishop, and as such had to govern all the churches
of the West. He succeeded in bringing them to abandon Arianism and
to accept a single creed, which became the universal or "catholic"
confession of faith.

To the heathen of England he sent the former novice Augustine, who
had quickly overcome his initiatory difficulties. The little
"glutton" ended as Archbishop of Canterbury.

The former retiring and life-weary Abbot had with great effect
developed the necessary strength for his duties. The high post to
which he had been summoned called out his capacities. He had time
for great and small things alike. He reformed the liturgy, wrote
letters, composed books, arranged church music. His manner of life,
however, was as simple as before. From his cell in the Lateran
Palace, he ruled over souls from the Highlands of Scotland to
the Pillars of Hercules. His empire was as great as the Caesars',
though his legions were only pen and ink. It was the beginning of
the Kingdom of Christ, but it was a spiritual empire, and Gregory
was the ruler.

ISHMAEL

After the death of Gregory the Great, Christianity seemed to have
conquered all Europe which was known at the time, and also
Byzantium, Palestine, Egypt, and the north coast of Africa. The
conqueror was about to betake himself to rest, when a quite new and
unexpected event happened which threatened Christendom with
destruction and heralded the arrival of a new race upon the scene.
Ishmael's descendants, Abraham's illegitimate sons, who had wandered
in the deserts, seeming to continue the Israelites' wandering in the
wilderness, began to collect in troops and seek a Promised Land.

Six years after Gregory's death, the Prophet Muhammed, then forty
years old, was "awakened." His armies spread like a conflagration,
and a hundred years later, Christian Europe thought the last day had
come. The countries first conquered by Christianity--Syria, Palestine,
Asia Minor, Egypt, and North Africa--had fallen away and done homage
to the new Antichrist. Byzantium was threatened; Sicily and Sardinia
had been taken, and Italy was in danger.

From the southernmost point of Spain one could see in clear weather
the coast of Africa, where the Saracens dwelt. Spain was a country
which, somewhat remote from Rome, had grown and developed into one
of the richest provinces, after Phoenicians and Carthaginians had
laid the foundations of her civilisation. But when Rome fell into
decay, Barbarians from the Baltic sea belonging to the new German
races, whose advent had been foretold by Tacitus, poured into
Spain, founded a kingdom or two, and now at the beginning of the
eighth century, possessed the important cities Toledo and Seville.

* * * * *

In Seville, on the Guadalquivir, in the beautiful province of
Andalusia, the old Jew Eleazar sat in the shop where he sold
weapons, and counted his day's takings.

"Many weapons are sold in these days," was the sudden remark of a
stranger who had stepped up to the counter.

Eleazar looked up, liked the appearance of the well-dressed
stranger, and answered cautiously, "Yes, certainly, many are sold."

"Are you expecting war?"

"There is always war here--especially verbal warfare."

"You refer to the twenty Church Councils which have been held here.
The Christians are never united."

Eleazar did not answer.

"Excuse me," continued the stranger, "but I forgot who you are, and
that you would rather forget the last Council."

"No, not at all! why should I?"

"It was directed against your people."

"And my only son, who was about to marry a Christian maiden, had to
give her up, since marriages with Jews were forbidden...."

"Well! and what was the end of it?"

"He could not survive it, but laid hands on himself, and, as she
followed him in death, the blame was laid on us, and we lost our
property and freedom."

"Eleazar!" exclaimed the stranger. "Don't you know me?"

"No."

"But when I tell you my name, you will know who I am. Julius--Count
Julius...."

"Are you--Count Julius?"

"I am he, whose daughter Florinda was brought up in Toledo, and fell
into the hands of King Roderick, the robber and lecher. Can I see
you in your chamber? We have much to say to each other!"

Eleazar hesitated, although both, as injured fathers of lost
children, had much in common. He was afraid of the Christians, who
had begun to persecute the Jews. The Count understood that, but did
not withdraw his proposal, for he seemed to have a special object in
his visit.

"Let me into your chamber, and I will tell you, in three words, a
secret that concerns us both."

Eleazar did not yield, but began to parley.

"Say one word, a single word to convince me," he asked.

"Oppas! there is one for you."

Eleazar opened his eyes, but asked for yet another one.

"Zijad's son."
"Still better!" said Eleazar, "but now the last!"

"Bar-coch-ba."

Eleazar reached him his hand. "Come under my roof, eat of my bread,
and drink of the sacred wine." In a moment the shop was closed, and
the two elderly men sat at supper in the room behind it. They
conversed eagerly.

"There are some hundreds of thousands of us Hebrews here in Spain,
for when the Emperor Hadrian had destroyed Jerusalem for the last
time, he sent some fifty thousand Hebrews here. That is six hundred
years ago, and we have naturally increased--yes, to such a number,
that ninety thousand of us could be compulsorily baptized. I, too,
have been baptized, but, though they poured water on me, I have held
fast the faith of my fathers, and how could I do otherwise? The
Christians have not one faith, but many. The Synod held in Toledo in
589 A.D. taught, for example, that the Holy Spirit did not only
proceed from the Father, but from the Son also. But the Synod of
675 A.D. declared that the Son was not only sent by the Father but
by the Holy Spirit. That is nonsense, and therefore they fall away
from their own doctrine.

"But instead of falling back on the Old Testament, which is the
mother of the New, they plunge into unbelief and heathenism. That is
the case with Archbishop Oppas himself in Toledo, who calls himself
a hater of Christ, and would rather acknowledge Islam than
Catholicism."

"Do you know Oppas?"

"He is our man."
"You mentioned Islam; what do you think of its teaching?"

"It is our own holy faith; a single God, the Only and True One. And
the Prophet is Abraham's seed, who has inherited the promise. It is
true Ishmael was the son of a bond-woman, but still he was Abraham's
seed!"

"But Muhammed expelled the Jews from Arabia."

"Yes, he did that; he was not perfect; but things have altered for
the better. Muhammed received his first impressions from his cousin
Waraka, who was of Jewish descent. At first he was friendly towards
Israel; he told his followers to turn in prayer not towards the
Kaaba, but towards Jerusalem. There is also a tradition that the
prophet was a Jew, which may mean that he was an Arab or Ishmaelite,
which is the same thing."

"You would, then, rather serve under the Half-Moon than under the
Cross?"

"Certainly."

"And Simon, whom you call Bar-coch-ba, is negotiating with the
Archbishop Oppas in order to overthrow Roderick?"

"That is true."

"Good! Then I am one with you. But listen carefully to what I say:
--Since our common aim is the overthrow of the West Gothic King, I
have, as Governor of Ceuta on the African coast, inquired of Emir
Mussa al Nazir and his principal officer, Tarik, the son of Zijad,
whether they will perhaps help us in case of a claim for damages
made by Ceuta and its neighbourhood. Do you think we can let the
storm loose?"

Eleazar gnawed his beard. "Is it not already loose?" he asked drily.

"Have you gone further than I know?"

"What do you know?"

"You are so far as that, then? Well! It is all over with my
beautiful Spain!"

"Nothing comes to an end; it only changes when its time is over.
Spain had its time when it gave Emperors to Rome--Trajan, Hadrian,
Antonius, Marcus Aurelius, Theodosius, who may just as likely have
been Iberians and Phoenicians. Spain gave Rome learned men and
poets, Seneca, Lucan, Martial, Quintilian, Pomponius, Mela,
Columella. That is now five hundred years ago, and now we have
had barbarism introduced by the Christian Norsemen from the Baltic.
Now we might use something Oriental!"

"Do you believe on the future of Islam?"

"Yes, certainly. Mussa has sworn that he will march by Hannibal's
route through Gaul and Germany to Rome, in order to turn the
'heathen and women-worshippers' to the one true God."

"You know that! Then there is no turning back."

"No! It is too late. On the 19th of July the half-moon rises over
Spain, and it will continue to wax through its phases to the full
moon. What follows then we know not, and have nothing to do with,
for One rules--the Lord Zebaoth."

* * * * *

On the 17th of July, 711 A.D., when it had become dark, fire was
kindled on the southernmost point of Spain, Punta de Europa. On the
African coast, two miles distant, this was answered by a similar
signal. A west wind blew from the Atlantic, and brought across the
fleet of the Saracens, with five thousand men and horses.

On the Punta de Europa, afterwards called Gibraltar, high above the
precipitous cliff stood long-bearded citizens, and fanned the fire
and threw fuel on it. In the morning the first troops landed at the

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