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The Brook Kerith by George Moore

Part 2 out of 8

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were lost in those strange argumentations common to human beings, the
mule returned to the brink, out of reach of any projecting rocks. He was
happily content to follow the twisting road, giving no faintest
attention to the humped hills always falling into steep valleys and
always rising out of steep valleys, as round and humped as the hills
that were left behind. Joseph noticed the hills, but the mule did not:
he only knew the beginning and the end of his journey, whereas Joseph
began very soon to be concerned to learn how far they were come, and as
there was nobody about who could tell him he reined up his mule, which
began to seek herbage--a dandelion, an anemone, a tuft of wild
rosemary--while his rider meditated on the whereabouts of the inn. The
road, he said, winds round the highest of these hills, reaching at last
a tableland half-way between Jerusalem and Jericho, and on the top of it
is the inn. We shall see it as soon as yon cloud lifts.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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