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The Brook Kerith by George Moore

Part 4 out of 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It wouldn't be a woman then that thou wouldst choose to meet in heaven,
but a man? Men love women, Joseph said, for their corruptible bodies,

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