The Brook Kerith
George Moore

Part 3 out of 8

my grief when you found me sitting on the stone by the lake's edge.

Whereupon Philip stood looking at Joseph as one suspended, for the first
time understanding rightly that the rich have their troubles as well as
the poor. At last words coming to him he said: money has been our
trouble since Jesus drew us together, for we would do without money and
yet we know not how this is to be done. Like you, Sir, I'm asking if I'm
to sell my sails, those already out and those in the unrolled material,
and if I do sell and give the money to the poor how am I to live but by
begging of those that have not given their all? But why should I worry
you with our troubles? But your troubles are mine, Joseph answered; and
Philip went away to fetch Peter, who, he said, would be able to tell him
if Jesus could accept a rich man as a disciple. If a man that has a
little be permitted to remain, who is to say how much means
interdiction? Joseph asked himself as he kept watch for Peter to appear
at the corner of the street. And does he know the Master's mind enough
to answer the question of my admission or---- The sentence did not
finish in his mind, for Peter was coming up the street at that moment, a
great broad face coming into its features and expression. The same
high-shouldered fisher as of yore, Joseph said to himself, and he sought
to read in Peter's face the story of Peter's transference from one
master to another. It wasn't the approach of the Great Day, he said, for
Peter never could see beyond his sails and the fins of a fish; and if
Jesus were able to lift his thoughts beyond them he had accomplished a
no less miracle than turning water into wine.

Well, young Master, he said, we're glad to have you back among us
again. There be no place like home for us Galileans. Isn't that so? And
no fishing like that on these coasts? But, Peter, Joseph interrupted, my
father tells me that thou hast laid aside thy nets--but that isn't what
I'm here to talk to thee about, he interjected suddenly, but about Jesus
himself, whom I've been seeking for nearly two years, very nearly since
I parted from you all, well nigh two years ago, isn't it? I've sought
him in the hills of Judea, in Moab, in the Arabian desert and all the
way to Egypt and back again. It's about two years since you went away on
your travels, Master Joseph, and a great fine story there'll be for us
to listen to when our nets are down, Peter said. I'd ask you to begin it
now, Master Joseph, weren't it that the Master is waiting for us over
yonder in my house. And from what Philip tells me you would have my
advice about joining our community, Master Joseph. You've seen no doubt
a good deal of the Temple at Jerusalem and know everything about the
goings on there, and are with us in this--that the Lord don't want no
more fat rams and goats and bullocks, and incense is hateful in his
nostrils. So I've heard. They be Isaiah's words, aren't they, young
Master? But there's no master here, only Jesus: he is Master, and if I
call you "Master" it is from habit of beforetimes. But no offence
intended. You always will be master for me, and I'll be servant always
in a sense, which won't prevent us from being brothers. The Master
yonder will understand and will explain it all to you better than I....
And Peter nodded his great head covered with frizzly hair. But, Peter, I
am a rich man, and my father is too, and none but the poor is admitted
into the Community of Jesus. That's what affrights him, Peter--his
money, Philip interjected, and I have been trying to make him understand
that Jesus won't ask him for his father's money, he not having it to
give away. I'm not so sure of that, Peter said. The Master told us a
story yesterday of a steward who took his master's money and gave it to
the poor, he being frightened lest the poor, whom he hadn't been
over-good to in his lifetime, might not let him into heaven when he
died. And the Master seemed to think that he did well, for he said: it
is well to bank with the poor. Them were his very words. So it seems to
thee, Peter, that I should take my father's money? Joseph asked. Take
your father's money! Peter answered. We wouldn't wrong your father out
of the price of two perch, and never have done, neither myself nor John
and James. Now I won't say as much for---- We love your father, and
never do we forget that when our nets were washed away it was he that
gave us new ones. I am sure thou wouldst not wrong my father, Joseph
answered, and he refrained from asking Peter to explain the relevancy of
the story he had just told lest he should entangle him. It is better, he
said to himself, to keep to facts, and he told Peter that even his own
money was not altogether his own money, for he had a partner in Jericho
and it would be hard to take his money out of the business and give it
all to the poor. Giving it to the poor in Galilee, he said, would
deprive my camel-drivers of their living. Which, Peter observed, would
be a cruel thing to do, for a man must be allowed to get his living,
whether he be from Jericho or Galilee, fisher or camel-driver or
sail-maker. Which reminds me, Philip, that thou be'st a long time over
the sail I was to have had at the end of last month. And the twain began
to wrangle so that Joseph thought they would never end, so prolix was
Philip in his explanations. He had had to leave the sail unsewn, was all
he had to say, but he embroidered on this simple fact so largely that
Joseph lost patience and began to tell them he had come to Galilee,
Pilate wishing him to add the portage of wheat from Moab to the trade
already started in figs and dates. So Pilate is in the business, Peter
ejaculated, for Peter did not think that a Jew should have any dealings
with Gentiles, and this opinion, abruptly expressed, threw the discourse
again into disarray. But Pilate is in Jerusalem, Joseph began. And has
he brought the Roman eagles with him? Peter interrupted. And seeing that
these eagles would lead them far from the point which he was anxious to
have settled--whether the trade he was doing between Jerusalem and
Jericho prevented him from being a disciple--Joseph began by assuring
Peter that the eagles had been sent back to Caesarea. Caesarea, Peter
muttered, our Master has been there, and says it is as full as it can
hold of graven images. Well, Peter, what I have come to say is, that
were I to disappoint Pilate he might allow the robbers to infest the
hills again, and all my money would be lost, and my partner's money, and
the camel-drivers would be killed; and if my convoys did not arrive in
Jerusalem there might be bread riots. How would you like that, Peter?

Now what do ye say to that, Peter? and Philip looked up into Peter's
great broad face. Only this, Peter answered, that money will shipwreck
our Community sooner or later--we're never free from it. Like a fly,
Philip suggested, the more we chase it away the more it returns. The fly
cannot resist a sweating forehead, Philip, Peter said. Thine own is more
sweaty than mine, Philip retorted, and a big blue fly is drinking his
belly full though thou feelest him not, being as callous as a camel. The
Master's teaching is, Peter continued, having driven off the fly, that
no man should own anything, that everyone should have the same rights,
which seems true enough till we begin to put it into practice, for if I
were to let whosoever wished take my boats and nets to go out fishing,
my boats and nets would be all at the bottom of the lake before the sun
went down as like as not, for all men don't understand fishing. As we
must have fish to live I haven't parted with my boats; but every time we
take that turning down yonder to the lake's edge and I see my boats
rocking I offer up a little prayer that the Master may be looking the
other way or thinking of something else. James and John, sons of
Zebedee, are of the same mind as myself--that we shouldn't trouble the
Master too closely with the working out of his teaching. The teaching is
the thing. Why, they be coming towards us, as sure as my name's Simon
Peter, sent perhaps by the Master to fetch us, so long have we been away

Joseph turned to greet the two young men, whom he had known always; as
far back as he could remember he had talked to them over the oars, and
seen them let down the nets and draw up the nets, and they had hoisted
the sail for his pleasure, abandoning the fishing for the day, knowing
well that Joseph's father would pay them for the time they lost in
pleasing his son. And now they were young men like himself, only they
knew no Greek; rough young men, of simple minds and simple life, who
were drawn to Jesus--James a lean man, whose small sullen eyes, dilatory
speech and vacant little laugh used to annoy Joseph. James always asked
him to repeat the words though he had heard perfectly. Joseph liked John
better, for his mind was sturdy and his voice grew sullen at any word of
reproof and his eyes flamed, and Joseph wondered what might be the
authority that Jesus held over him, a rough turbulent fellow, whom
Joseph had always feared a little; even now in their greeting there was
a certain dread in Joseph, which soon vanished, for John's words were
outspoken and hearty. We're glad to have you back again amongst us,
Master, I've been saying since I left Capernaum this morning. But
"Master" is a word, John, that I've heard isn't used among you. Truly it
is not used among the brotherhood, John answered. And I came to ask
admission, Joseph said. Well, that be good news, Master--brother I
should say, for our Master will be glad to meet thee. But that, Philip
began, is just the matter we were speaking of among ourselves before we
saw thee coming towards us. For there be a difficulty. He be as earnest
as any of us, but our rule is what thou knowest it to be. Despite John's
knowledge of the rule Philip began the story, and again he was so prolix
in it that Joseph, wishing John to decide on the strict matter of it,
and not to be lost in details, some of which were true and some of which
were false and all confused in Philip's telling, interrupted the
narrator, saying that he would give all the money that was strictly his,
but his father's he couldn't give nor his partner's. We've many camels,
he said, in common, and how are these to be divided? Nor is it right, it
seems to me, that my partner should be left with the burden of all the
trade we have created together; yet it is hard that I who have sought
Jesus in the deserts of Judea as far as Egypt, and found him in Galilee,
at home, should be forced to range myself apart from him, with whom my
heart is. Would that the Master were here to hear him speak, Philip
interjected. He was with the Master last night, and the Master was well
pleased with him. It all depends on what mood the Master be in, John
answered, and they all fell to asking each other what the Master's mood
was that morning. But it would seem that all read him differently, and
it was with joy at the prospect of a new opinion that they viewed Judas
coming towards them.

And taking Judas into the discussion Peter said: now I've two boats, and
John and James have four, so we aren't without money though our riches
are small compared with the young Master's. Are we to sell our boats and
give the money to the poor, and if we do who then will look after the
Master's wants? They are small it is true, a bit of fish and bread every
day, and a roof over his head; but who will give him a roof if mine be
taken from me? Is not this so? All seemed in agreement, and Peter
continued: I am thinking, John, that our new brother might help us to
buy the Master a new cloak, for his is falling to pieces and my wife's
mother is weary with patching it. He cured her of the fever, but she
thinks that a great cost is put upon me and would ask the Master
something for his keep. Whereupon John spoke out that the story of his
mother-in-law was for ever the same; and seeing that he was offending
Peter with the words he addressed against his wife's mother, though
indeed Peter liked her not too much himself, Joseph put his hand in his
pocket and said: here are some shekels, go and buy Jesus a cloak, but
say not to him whence the money came.

Say not to him! Judas interjected. No need to tell him that can read the
thoughts in the mind. It would be better for the young Master to give
him one of his old cloaks. Jesus would question the new cloak and say it
savours of money. He sees into the heart. We have tried to keep things
from him before, Judas continued turning to Joseph.... It is our duty to
save him as much as we can. Peter has done much and I've shared the
expense with Peter, though I am a poor man; we pick the stones from his
path, for he walks with his eyes fixed upon the Kingdom of God always.
Yes, he sees into our hearts, Philip interrupted, and reads through all
we are thinking even before the thoughts come into our minds. It is as
Philip says, Judas muttered: our hearts are open to him always. But
James, who had not spoken till now, put forward the opinion, and no one
seemed inclined to gainsay it, that if Jesus knew men's thoughts before
they came into men's minds he must be warned of them by the angels. He
goes into the solitude of the mountains to converse with the angels,
James said--for what else? Moses went into the clefts of Mount Sinai,
Joseph added, and he asked Peter to tell him if Jesus believed that the
soul existed apart from the body, at which question Peter was fairly
embarrassed, for the soul must be somewhere, he said, and if there be no
body to contain it---- You must ask the Master about these things, we
have not considered them. All the same we are glad that you are with us
and ready to follow him into danger, for if the Sadducees and Pharisees
are against him we are with him. Is that not so, sons of Zebedee?

At the challenge the two lads came forward again and all began to talk
of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the enthusiasm of the disciples catching
upon Joseph he, too, was soon talking of the Kingdom that was to come,
and whether they should all go down to Jerusalem together to meet the
Kingdom and share it, or wait for it to appear in Galilee. Share and
share alike, Joseph said. Ay, ay, sure we shall, and enjoy it, Peter
rolled out at his elbow. But we must set our hearts in patience, for
there be a rare lot to be converted yet. Every man must have his chance,
and seeing Jesus coming towards him Peter waited till Jesus was by him.
Haven't I thy promise, Master, he asked, laying his hand on Jesus'
shoulder, that my chair in Kingdom Come will be next to thine? Before
Jesus could answer John and James asked him if their chairs would not be
on his left and right. But not next to the Master's, Peter answered. I'm
on the right hand of the Master, and my brother Andrew on the left. Look
into his face and read in it that I have said well. But the disciples
were not minded to read the Master's face as Peter instructed them to
read it, and might have come to gripping each other's throats if Jesus
had not asked them if they would have the fat in the narrow chairs and
the thin in the wide, as often happens in this world. The spectacle of
Peter trying to sit on James' chair set them laughing, and as if to make
an end of an unseemly disputation John asked the Master whither they
were going to cure the sick that day? To which question Jesus made no
answer, for he felt no power on him that day to cure the sick or to cast
out demons. You'll see him do these things on another occasion, Peter
whispered in Joseph's ear; to-day he's deep in one of his meditations,
and we dare not ask him whither he be going, but must just follow him.
As likely as not he'll lead us up into the hills for---- But I see
Salome coming this way. You know her sons, John and James. The woman
bears me an ill will and would have my chair set far down, belike as not
between Nathaniel and Philip, who as you have noticed do not hold their
heads very high in our company. But let us hasten a little to hear what
she has to say. Listen, 'tis as I said, Master, Peter continued; you
heard her ask him that her sons should sit on either side of him. Now
mark his answer, if he answers her; I doubt if he will, so dark is his

But dark though it was he answered her with a seeming cheerfulness that
in the coming world there is neither weariness of spirit nor of body,
and therefore chairs are not set in heaven. A fine answer that, and
Peter chuckled; too wise for thee. Go home and ponder on it. We shall
lie on couches when we are not flying, he added, and being in doubt he
asked Joseph if the heavenly host was always on the wing. A question
that seemed somewhat silly to Joseph, though he could not have given his
reason for thinking it silly. Peter called on Jesus to hasten for the
disciples were half way up the principal street at a turning whither
their way led through the town by olive garths and orchards, and finding
a path through these they came upon green corn sown in patches just
beginning to show above ground, and the fringe of the wood higher up the
hillside--some grey bushes with young oaks starting through them, still
bare of leaves, ferns beginning to mark green lanes into the heart of
the woods, and certain dark wet places where the insects had already
begun to hum. But when the wood opened out the birds were talking to one
another, blackbird to blackbird, thrush to thrush, robin to robin, kin
understanding kin, and every bird uttering vain jargon to them that did
not wear the same beak and feathers, just like ourselves, Joseph said to
himself and he stood stark before a hollow into which he remembered
having once been forbidden to stray lest a wolf should pounce upon him
suddenly. Now he was a man, he was among men, and all had staves in
their hands, and the thoughts of wolves departed at the sight of a wild
fruit tree before which Jesus stopped, and calling John and James to
him, as if he had forgotten Peter, he said: you see that tree covered
with beautiful blossoms, but the harsh wind which is now blowing along
the hillside will bear many of the blossoms away before the fruit begins
to gather. And the birds will come and destroy many a berry before the
plucker comes to pick the few that remain for the table. How many of you
that are gathered about me now---- He stopped suddenly, and his eyes
falling on John he addressed his question directly to him as if he
doubted that Peter would apprehend the significance of the parable. But
Joseph, whom it touched to the quick, was moved to cry out, Master, I
understand; restraining himself, however, or his natural diffidence
restraining him, he could only ask Peter to ask Jesus for another
parable. Peter reproved Joseph, saying that it were not well to ask
anything from the Master at present, but that his mood might improve
during the course of the afternoon. Thomas, who did not know the Master
as well as Peter, could not keep back the question that rose to his
lips. Our trade, he said, is in apricots, but is it the same with men as
with the apricots, or shall we live to see the fruit that thou hast
promised us come to table? Whereupon James and John began to ask which
were the blossoms among them that would be eaten by the birds and
insects and which would wither in the branches. Shall I feed the
insects, Master? Matthew asked, or shall I be eaten by the birds? A
question that seemed to everyone so stupid that none was surprised that
Jesus did not answer it, but turning to Philip he asked him: canst thou
not, Philip, divine my meaning? But Philip, though pleased to come under
the Master's notice, was frightened, and could think of no better answer
than that the apricots they would eat in Paradise would be better. For
there are no harsh winds in Paradise, isn't that so, Master? Thy
question is no better than Salome's, Jesus answered, who sees Paradise
ranged with chairs. Then everyone wondered if there were no chairs nor
apricots in Paradise of what good would Paradise be to them; and were
dissatisfied with the answer that Jesus gave to them, that the soul is
satisfied in the love of God as the flower in the sun. But with this
answer they had to content themselves, for so dark was his face that
none dared to ask another question till Matthew said: Master, we would
understand thee fairly. If there be no chairs nor apricots in Paradise
there cannot be a temple wherein to worship God. To which Jesus
answered: God hath no need of temples in Paradise, nor has he need of
any temple except the human heart wherein he dwells. It is not with
incense nor the blood of sheep and rams that God is worshipped, but in
the heart and with silent prayers unknown to all but God himself, who
knows all things. And the day is coming, I say unto you, when the Son of
Man shall return with his Father to remake this world afresh, but before
that time comes you would do well to learn to love God in your hearts,
else all my teaching is vainer than any of the things in this world that
ye are accustomed to look upon as vain. Upon this he took them to a
mountain-side where the rock was crumbling, and he said: you see this
crumbling rock? Once it held together, now it is falling into sand, but
it shall be built up into rock again, and again it shall crumble into
sand. At which they drew together silent with wonder, each fearing to
ask the other if the Master were mad, for though they could see that the
rock might drift into sand, they could not see how sand might be built
up again into rock.

Master, how shall we know thee when thou returnest to us? Wilt thou be
changed as the rock changes? Wilt thou be sand or rock? It was Andrew
that had spoken; and Philip answered him that the Master will return in
a chariot of fire, for he was angry that a fellow of Andrew's stupidity
should put questions to Jesus whether they were wise or foolish; but
could they be aught else than foolish coming from him? Andrew,
persisting, replied: but we may not be within sight of the Master when
he steps out of his chariot of fire, and we are only asking for a token
whereby we may know him from his Father. My Father and thy Father,
Andrew, Jesus answered, the Father of all that has lived, that lives,
and that shall live in the world; and the law over the rock that
crumbles into sand and the sand that is built up into rock again, was in
that rock before Abraham was, and will abide in it and in the flower
that grows under the rock till time everlasting. But, Master, wilt thou
tell us if the rock we are looking upon was sand or rock in the time of
Abraham? Philip asked, and Jesus answered him: my words are not then
plain, that before that rock was and before the sand out of which the
rock was built, was God's love--that which binds and unbinds enduring
always though the rock pass into sand and the sand into rock a thousand

And it was then that a disciple poked himiself up to Jesus to ask him if
they were not to believe the Scriptures. He answered him that the
Scriptures were no more than the love of God. This answer did not quell
the dissidents, but caused them to murmur more loudly against him, and
Jesus, though he must have seen that he was about to lose some
disciples, would retract nothing. The Scriptures are, he repeated, but
the love of God. He that came to betray him said: and the Gentiles that
haven't the Scriptures? Jesus answered that all men that have the love
of God in their hearts are beloved by God. Is it then of no value to
come of the stock of Abraham? the man asked, and Jesus replied: none,
but a loss if ye do not love God, for God asks more from those whose
minds he has opened than from those whose minds he has suffered to
remain shut. At which Peter cried: though there be not a pint of wine in
all heaven we will follow thee, and though there be no fish in heaven
but the scaleless that the Gentiles eat---- He stopped suddenly and
looked at Jesus, saying: there are no Gentiles in heaven. Heaven is open
to all men that love God, Jesus said, and after these words he continued
to look at Peter, but like one that sees things that are not before him;
and the residue followed him over the hills, saying to themselves: he is
thinking about this journey to Jerusalem, and then a little later one
said to the others: he is in commune with the spirits that lead him,
asking them to spare him this journey, for he knows that the Pharisees
will rise up against him, and will stone him if he preach against the
Temple. What else should he preach against? asked another disciple; and
they continued to watch Jesus, trying to gather from his face what his
thoughts might be, thinking that his distant eyes might be seeking a
prediction of the coming kingdom in the sky. We might ask him if he sees
the kingdom coming this way, an apostle whispered in the ear of
another, and was forthwith silenced, for it was deemed important that
the Master should never be disturbed in his meditations, whatever they
might be.

He stood at gaze, his apostles and his disciples watching from a little
distance, recalling the day his dog Coran refused to follow him, and
seeing that the dog had something on his mind, he left his flock in
charge of the other dogs and followed Coran to the hills above the Brook
Kerith, down a little crumbling path to Elijah's cave. He found John the
Baptist, and recognising in him Elijah's inheritor--at that moment a
flutter of wings in the branches awoke him from his reverie, and seeing
his disciples about him, he asked them whose inheritor he was. Some said
Elijah, some said Jeremiah, some said Moses. As if dissatisfied with
these answers, he looked into their faces, as if he would read their
souls, and asked them to look up through the tree tops and tell him what
they could see in a certain space of sky. In fear of his mood, and lest
he might call them feeble of sight or purblind, his disciples, or many
among them, fell to disputing among themselves as to what might be
discerned by human eyes in the cloud; till John, thinking to raise
himself in the Master's sight, so it seemed to Joseph (who dared not
raise his eyes to the sky, but bent them on the earth), said that he
could see a chariot drawn by seven beasts, each having on its forehead
seven horns; the jaws of these beasts, he averred, were like those of
monkeys, and in their paws, he said, were fourteen golden candlesticks.
Andrew, being misled by the colour of the cloud which was yellow, said
that the seven beasts were like leopards; whereas Philip deemed that
the beasts were not leopards, for him they were bears; and they began to
dispute one with the other, some discerning the Father Almighty in a
chariot, describing him to be a man garmented in white; his hair is like
wool, they said. And seated beside him Matthew saw the Son of Man with
an open book on his knees. But these visions, to their great trouble,
did not seem to interest Jesus; or not sufficiently for their intention;
and to the mortification of Peter and Andrew, James and John, he turned
to Thaddeus and Aristion and asked them what they saw in the clouds, and
partly because they were loath to say they could see naught, and also
thinking to please him, they began to see a vision, and their vision was
an angel whom they could hear crying: at thy bidding, O Lord; on which
he emptied his vial into the Euphrates, and forthwith the river was
turned to blood. The second angel crying likewise, at thy bidding, O
Lord, emptied his vial; and when the third angel had emptied his, three
animals of the shape of frogs crawled out of the river; and then from
over the mountains came a great serpent to devour the frog-shapen
beasts, and after devouring them he vomited forth a great flood, and the
woman that had been seated on it was borne away. It was Thaddeus that
spoke the last words, and he would have continued if Jesus' eyes had not
warned him that the Master was thinking of other things, perhaps seeing
and hearing other things. It is known to you all, he said, that Jeremiah
kneels at the steps of my Father's throne praying for the salvation of
Israel? Therefore tell me what is your understanding of the words
"praying for the salvation of Israel"? Was the prophet praying that
Israel might be redeemed from the taxes the Romans had imposed upon
them? Being without precise knowledge of how much remission Jeremiah
might obtain for them, it seemed to them that it would be well to say
that Jeremiah was praying to God to delay no longer, but send the
Messiah he had promised. At which Jesus smiled and asked them if the
Messiah would remit the taxes; and the disciples answered craftily that
the Messiah would set up the Kingdom of God on earth: in which kingdom
no taxes are levied, Jesus replied. Come, he said, let us sit upon these
rocks and talk of the great prophecies, for I would hear from you how
you think the promised kingdom will come to pass. And the disciples
answered, one here, one there, and then in twos and threes. But, Master,
thou knowest all these things, since it is to thee our Father has given
the task of establishing his Kingdom upon earth; tell us, plague us no
longer with dark questions. We are not alone, Thaddeus cried, a rich
man's son is amongst us. If he have come amongst us God has sent him,
Jesus said, and we should have no fear of riches, since we desire them
not. This kindness heartened Joseph, who dared to ask Jesus how he might
disburden himself of the wealth that would come to him at his father's

As no such dilemma as Joseph's had arisen before, all waited to hear
Jesus, but his thoughts having seemingly wandered far, they all fell to
argument and advised Joseph in so many different ways that he did not
know to whom to accede so contradictory were all their notions of
fairness; and, the babble becoming louder, it waked Jesus out of his
mood, and catching Joseph's eyes, he asked him if he whom our Father
sent to establish his Kingdom on earth would not have to give his life
to men for doing it. A question that Joseph could not answer; and while
he sought for the Master's meaning the disciples began again aloud to
babble and to put questions to the Master, hurriedly asking him why he
thought he must die before going up to heaven. Did not Elijah, they
asked, ascend into heaven alive in his corporeal body?--and the cloak he
left with Elisha, Aristion said, might be held to be a symbol of the
fleshly body. This view was scorned, for the truth of the Scriptures
could not be that the disciples inherited not the spiritual power of the
prophet, but his fleshly show. Then the fate of Judas the Gaulonite
rising up in Peter's mind, he said: but, Master, we shall not allow thee
to be slain on a cross and given as food to the birds. The disciples
raised their staves, crying, we're with thee, Master, and the forest
gave back their oaths in echoes that seemed to reach the ends of the
earth; and when the echoes ceased a silence came up from the forest that
shut their lips, and, panic-stricken, all would have run away if Peter
had not drawn the sword which he had brought with him in case of an
attack by wolves, and swore he would strike the man down that raised his
hand against the Master. To which Jesus replied that every man is born
to pursue a destiny, and that he had long known that his led to
Jerusalem, whereupon Peter cried out: we'll defend thee from thyself;
for which words Jesus reproved him, saying that to try to save a man
from himself were like trying to save him from the decree that he brings
into the world with his blood. And what is mine, Master? It may be,
Jesus answered, to return to thy fishing. Whereupon Peter wept, saying:
Master, if we lose thee we're as sheep that have lost their shepherd, a
huddled, senseless flock on the hillside, for we have laid down our nets
to follow thee, believing that the Kingdom of God would come down here
in Galilee rather than in Jerusalem; pray that it may descend here, for
thou'lt be safer here, Master; we have swords and staves to defend
thee--so let us kneel in prayer and ask the Lord that he choose Galilee
rather than Judea for the setting up of his kingdom. To which Jesus
answered nothing, and his face was as if he had not heard Peter; and
then Peter's fears for Jesus' life, should he go to Jerusalem, seemed to
pass on from one to the other, till all were possessed by the same fear,
and Peter said: let us lift up our hearts to our Father in Heaven and
pray that Jesus be not taken from us. Let us kneel, he said, and they
all knelt and prayed, but to their supplication Jesus seemed
indifferent. And seeing they were unable to dissuade him from Jerusalem,
Peter turned to Joseph. Here is one, he said, who knows the perils of
Jerusalem and will bear witness, that if thou preach that God have no
need of a Temple or a sacrifice, thou'lt surely be done to death by the

Peter's sudden appeal to his knowledge of the priests of Jerusalem awoke
Joseph, who was wholly absorbed in his love of Jesus, and thought only
of rushing forward and worshipping; but he was held back and strained
forward at the same time, and seeing he was overcome, Peter did not
press him for an answer, and Joseph fell back among the crowd, ashamed,
thinking that if Peter came to him again he would speak forthright. He
had words that would bring him into the sympathy of Jesus, but instead
of speaking them he stood, held at gaze by the beauty of the bright
forehead, large and arched; and so exalted were the eyes that Joseph
could not think else than that Jesus was looking upon things that his
disciples did not see. It seemed to Joseph that Jesus was meditating
whether he should confide all he saw and heard to his disciples. He
waited, tremulous with expectation, watching the thin scrannel throat
out of which rose a voice to which the ear became attuned quickly and
was gratified as by a welcome dissonance. It rose up among the silence
of the pines, and the delight of listening to it, Joseph thought, was so
near to intoxication that he would have pressed forward if he had not
remembered suddenly that he was a new-comer into the community; one who
might at any moment be driven out of it because he possessed riches
which he could not unburden himself of. So he kept his seat in the
background among the casual followers, by two men whose accents told him
they were Samaritans, and these now seemed within the last few minutes
to have become opposed to Jesus, and Joseph wondered at the change that
had come over them and lent an ear to their discourse so that he might
discover a reason for it. And it was not long before he discovered that
their objection related to the Book of Daniel, for they were of the sort
that receive no Scriptures after the five Books of the Law.

Joseph knew the book less perhaps than any other book of the Scriptures;
he had looked into it with Azariah, but for a reason which he could not
now discover he had read it with little attention; and since his
schooldays he had not looked into it again. Peter and Andrew and John
and James were listening intently to the story of Nebuchadnezzar's dream
for the sake of the story related and without thought of what might be
Jesus' purpose in relating it. But to Joseph Jesus' purpose was the
chief interest of the relation; and the purpose became apparent when he
began to tell how the great statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream,
whose head was gold, whose arms and breast were silver, whose belly was
brass, and whose legs and feet were iron and clay intermingled, was
overthrown by a stone that hand had not cut out of the mountain. This
stone became forthwith as big as a mountain and filled the whole earth,
and Joseph fell to thinking if this stone were the fifth kingdom which
the Messiah would set up when the Roman kingdom had fallen to dust, or
whether the stone were the Messiah himself. And while Joseph sat
thinking he heard suddenly that when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the
furnace and saw the four men whom he had ordered to be thrown into it
walking through the flames safely, he said: and the form of the fourth
is like the son of God.

The story wholly delighted the disciples; and they asked Jesus to tell
them the further adventures of Daniel, and as if wishing to humour them
he began to relate that a hand had appeared writing on the wall during
the great feast at Babylon, a story to which Joseph could give but
little heed, for his imagination was controlled by the words, "whose
form is like the son of God"--an inspiration on the part of the
Babylonian king. If ever a man had seemed since to another like the son
of God, Jesus was that man; and Joseph asked himself how it was that
these words had passed over the ears of the disciples--over the ears of
those who knew Jesus' mind, if any could be said to know Jesus' mind.
Jesus, though he lived near them and loved them, lived in the world of
his own thoughts, which, so it seemed to Joseph, he could not share with
anybody. Not one of the men he had gathered about him, neither Peter,
nor John, nor James, had noticed the notable words: "And the form of the
fourth is like the son of God." It was for these words, Joseph felt
sure, that Jesus had related the story of Daniel in the furnace. But his
disciples had not apprehended the significance; and like one whose
confidence was unmoved by the slowness or the quickness of his
listeners, almost as if he knew that the real drift of his speech was
beyond his hearers, Jesus began to tell that Darius' counsellors had
combined into a plot against Daniel and succeeded in it so well that
Daniel and his companions were cast in a den of lions. But there being
nothing in the story that pointed to the setting up of the Kingdom of
God upon earth, Joseph was puzzled to understand why Jesus was at pains
to relate it at such length. Was it to amuse his disciples? he asked
himself, but no sooner had he put the question to himself than the
purpose of the relation passed into his mind. Jesus had told the
marvellous stories of Daniel's escapes from death so that his disciples
might have no fear that the priests of Jerusalem would have power to
destroy him: whomsoever God sends into the world to do his work, Jesus
would have us understand, are under God's protection for ever and ever;
and Joseph rejoiced greatly at having discovered Jesus' intent, and for
a long time the glen, the silent forest and the men sitting listening to
the Master were all forgotten by him. He even forgot the Master's
presence, so filled was he by the abundant hope that his divination of
the Master's intent marked him out as one to be associated with the
Master's work--more than any one of those now listening to him, more
than Peter himself.

And so sweet was his reverie to him that he regretted the passing of it
as a misfortune, but finding he was in spirit as well as in body among
realities, he lent his ear to the story of the four winds that had
striven upon the great sea and driven up four great beasts. These beasts
Joseph readily understood to be but another figuration of the four great
empires; the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Grecian had been blown
away like dust, and as soon as the fourth, the Roman Empire, was broken
into pieces the kingdom of the whole world would be given to the people
of the saints of the Most High. It was Philip the nearly hunchback that
asked Jesus for an explanation of this vision--saying, and obtaining the
approval of several for the question, would he, Jesus, acquiesce in this
sharing of the earth among the angels who had not seen him, nor heard
him, nor served him upon earth. If the earth is to be shared among the
angels we follow thee in vain, he muttered; and Joseph felt that he
could never speak freely again with Philip for having dared to interrupt
the Master and weary him with questions that a child could answer. To
whom Philip said: but you, young Master, that have received good
instruction in Hebrew and Greek from the scribe Azariah, and have
travelled far, do you answer my question. If the earth is to be shared
among angels---- He was not allowed to repeat more of his question, for
a clamour of explanation began among the disciples that the earth would
not be shared among the angels of God--God would find his people
repentant when he arrived with his son. At last the assembly settled
themselves to listen to the story of the vision in which a ram pushed
westward and northward and southward, till a he-goat came from the
west--one with a notable horn between the eyes, and butted the ram till
he had broken his two horns. Joseph had forgotten these visions, and he
learnt for the first time, so it seemed to him, that the goat meant the
Syrian king, Antiochus, who had conquered Jerusalem, polluted the
sanctuary and set up heathen gods. But how are all these visions
concerned with the setting up of the Kingdom of God on earth? and Jesus'
purpose did not appear to him till Daniel heard a voice between the
banks of the Ula crying: make this man understand. Joseph understood
forthwith that Jesus' purpose was still the same, to make it plain to
the disciples that Daniel was protected and guided by God, and, that
being so, Jesus could go to Jerusalem fearing nothing, he being greater
than Daniel. So he sat immersed in belief, hearing but faintly the many
marvellous things that Daniel heard and saw, nor did he awake from his
reverie till Jesus announced that Gabriel flew about Daniel at the hour
of the evening oblation, telling him that seventy weeks was the measure
of time allowed by God to make reconciliation for iniquity and bring
everlasting righteousness, and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah; and
that after three score and two weeks the Messiah should be cut off but
not for himself.

The words "cut off but not for himself" troubled Joseph, and he pondered
them, while the disciples marvelled at hearing Jesus speak of these
things (he seemed to know the Scriptures by rote), and his voice went
upward into the silence of the firs, and they heard as if in a dream
that the king of the south should come into his kingdom and return to
his own land. But his sons shall be stirred up and shall revolt against
him, Jesus said, and the disciples marvelled greatly, for Jesus made
clear the meaning that lay under these dark sayings, and they heard and
understood how the robbers of the people should exalt themselves and
establish a vision; but these shall fall and the king of the north shall
come and cast up mounds and take the fortified cities. And they heard of
destructions and leagues and armies and sanctuaries that were polluted,
and of peoples who did not know their God, but who nevertheless became
strong; and they heard of Edom and Moab and the children of Ammon, but
at the end of all these troubles the Tabernacle was placed between the
seas of the glorious holy mountain. And that day the fishers from the
lake of Galilee and others heard that Michael had told the people of
Israel that those that were dead should rise out of the earth and come
into everlasting life. But can the dead be raised up and come to life in
their corruptible bodies? asked the Samaritans that sat by Joseph, and
their mutterings grew louder, and they denied that the prophet Daniel
had spoken truth in this and many other things, and as he had not spoken
truth he was a false prophet; whereupon so great a clamour arose that
the wild beasts in the ravine began to growl, being awaked in their
lairs. The disciples, foreseeing that it would soon be dark night in the
forest, fell to seeking the way back to Capernaum, the Galileans in one
group with Jesus among them, the Samaritans speeding away together and
stopping at times for fresh discussion with the Galileans, asking among
many other things how the corruptible body might be raised up to heaven
and live indulging in the many imperfections inherent in our bodies. It
was vain to ask them what justice there would be if the men that had
died before the coming of the Kingdom of God were not raised up into
heaven. If this were true the dead had led virtuous lives in vain; they
might for all it had profited them have lived like the heathen.

It was at Capernaum that the truth became manifest that not only was
Daniel denied, but Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, all the prophets since
Moses, at which the disciples were greatly incensed and raised their
staves against the Samaritans, but Jesus dissuaded his followers, and
the dissidents were suffered to depart unhurt. Let them go, Jesus said,
for they are in the hands of God, like ourselves, and he bade them all
good-night, and there seemed to Joseph to be a great sadness in Jesus'
voice, as if he felt that in this world there was little else but

Joseph too resented this parting, though it was for but a few hours; he
would unite himself to Jesus, become one, as the mother and the unborn
babe are one--he would be of the same mind and flesh; all division
seemed to him loss, till, frightened at his own great love of Jesus, he
stopped in the Plain of Gennesaret, star-gazing. But the stars told him
nothing, and he walked on again. And it was about a half-hour's walk
from Magdala that he overtook the Samaritans, who sought to draw him
into argument. But he was in no humour for further discussion, and
dismissed them, saying: what matter if all the prophets were false since
the promised Messiah is among us. He has come, he has come! he repeated
all the way home: and at every flight of the high stairs he tried to
collect his thoughts. But his brain was whirling, and he could only
repeat: he has come, he has come!


It seemed to Joseph as he hurried along the Plain of Gennesaret that the
sun shone gayer than his wont, but as he approached Capernaum he began
to think that the sun had risen a little earlier than his wont. Nobody
was about! He listened in vain for some sound of life, till at last his
ear caught a sound as of somebody moving along the wharves, and, going
thither, he came upon Peter storing his oars in the boathouse. Making
ready, Joseph said, for fishing? You don't see, Master, that I'm putting
my oars away, but I'd as lief take them out again and fish till evening.
Here was a mysterious answer from the least mysterious of men, and Peter
continued in his work, throwing the oars into a corner like one that
cared little if he broke them, and kicking his nets aside as if he were
never going to let them down again into the lake: altogether his mood
was of an exasperation such as Joseph had never suspected to be possible
in this good-humoured, simple fellow. Had he been obliged to leave the
community or sell his boats? If that were so, his chance (Joseph's
chance) of entering the community was a poor one indeed; and he begged
Peter to relate his trouble to him--for trouble there had been last
night, he was sure of it.

Trouble there always is in this world, Peter answered, so long as I've
known it, and will be till God sets up his kingdom. The sooner he does
it the better, so say I. But I don't know about the saints we heard of
yesterday, what they have to do with it. The Master's mood is stranger
than I ever can recollect it, he said, standing up straight and looking
Joseph in the eyes. It was yourself that said it yesterday, Peter,
Joseph rejoined. I'm thinking it may have been the Samaritans that vexed
him. Peter lifted his heavy shoulders and muttered: the Samaritans? We
give no heed to them: and he began to speak, at first with diffidence;
Joseph had to woo him into speaking, which he did; but after the first
few minutes Peter was glib enough, telling Joseph that last night there
had been stirs and quarrels among the disciples regarding his boats, and
John's and James' boats too, he said, and by the jealous and envious, he
muttered, who would like to come between us and the Master. Joseph asked
who had raised the vexatious question, but Peter avoided it, and went
about the wharf grunting that none could answer it: was it to Matthew,
the publican, he was to give his boats? one, he said, who never was on
the water in his life till I took him out for a sail a week come
Tuesday. A fine use they'd be to him but to drown himself. A puff of
wind, and not knowing how to take in a reef, the boat would be over in a
jiffy and the nets lost. Now who would be the better for the loss of my
nets? answer me that. And I'd like to be told when my boats and nets
were at the bottom of the lake to whom would the Son of Man turn for a
corner in which to lay his head, or for a bite or a sup of wine. John
and James would give their boats to Judas belike, and he'd bring home
about as much fish as would---- But I'm thinking of your father. What
will he be saying to all this, and his business dwindling all the while,
and we beggars?--the words with which my wife roused me this morning. Of
course, says she, if the stone that never was cut out of the mountain
with hands is going to be slung and send the Romans toppling, I've
naught to say against sharing, but the Kingdom had better come quickly,
Simon Peter, if thou'lt fish no more; and the woman is right, say I,
though I hold with every word that falls from the Master's lips, only
this way it is, he looks to my fishing for his support, and Miriam is
quick to remind me of that. A good woman, one that has been always
yielding to my will and never had a word against our lodger, but sets
the best before him out of thankfulness for his saving of her mother's
life, though one more mouth in a house is always a drain, if the Master
is as easily fed as a sparrow. But restive she is now about the delay:
as I was saying just now she wakes me up with a loud question in my ear:
now, Simon Peter, answer me, art thou going into Syria to bid the blind
to see, the lame to walk, and the palsied to shake no more, or art thou
going to thy trade? for in this house there be four little children,
myself, their mother, and thy mother-in-law. I say nothing against the
journey if it bring thee good money, or if it bring the Kingdom, but if
it bring naught but miracles there'll be little enough in the house to
eat by the time ye come back. And, says she, the feeding of his children
is a nobler work for a married man (she speaks like that sometimes) than
bidding those to see who would belike be better without their eyes than
with them. You wouldn't think it, but 'tis as I say: she talks up to me
like that, and ofttimes I've to go to the Master and ask him to quiet
her, which he rarely fails to do, for she loves him for what he has done
for her mother, and is willing to wait. But last night when the
busybodies brought her news that the Master had been preaching in the
forest, of the sharing of the world out among the holy saints, she gave
way to her temper and was violent, saying, by what right are the saints
of the most high coming here to ask for a share of this world, as if
they hadn't a heaven to live in. You see, good Master, there's right on
her side, that's what makes it so hard to answer her, and I'm with her
in this, for by what right do the holy saints down here ask for a share
in the world, that's what keeps drumming in my head; and, as I told you
a while ago, I'd as lief put out upon the lake and fish as go to Syria
for nothing, say the word---- And leave the Master to go alone? Joseph
interposed. Well, I suppose we can't do that, Peter answered, and then
it seemed to Joseph wiser not to talk any more, but to allow things to
fashion their own course, which they did very amiably, in about an
hour's time the little band going forth, Joseph walking by Peter's side,
hoping that he would not have to wait long before seeing a miracle.

Their first stop was at Chorazin, about five miles distant, and the sick
began to rise quickly from their beds, and Jesus had only to impose his
hands for the palsied to cease quivering. The laws of nature seemed
suspended and Joseph forgot his father at Magdala and likewise Pilate's
business which had brought him to Galilee. It will have to wait, he
said, talking with himself, and now certain that he had come upon him
whom he had always been seeking; it was as lost time to look at anything
but Jesus, or to hear any words but his, or to admire aught but the
manifestations of his power; and every time a sick man rose from his bed
Joseph thanked God for having allowed him to live in the days of the
Messiah. He saw sight restored to the blind, hearing to the deaf,
swiftness of foot to cripples, issues of blood that had endured ten
years stanched; the cleansing of the leper had become too common a
miracle; he looked forward to seeing demons taking flight from the
bodies of men and women, and accepted Peter's telling that the day could
not be delayed much longer when he would see some dead man rise up in
his cere-clothes from the tomb. He found no interest but in the
miraculous, and his one vexation of spirit was that Jesus forbade his
disciples (among whom Joseph now counted himself) to tell anybody that
he was the Messiah.

In every town they were welcomed by the Gentiles as well as by the Jews,
which was surprising, and set Joseph's wits to work; and these being
well trained, he soon began to apprehend that the Jews accepted the
miracles as testimony that Jesus was really the Messiah and that his
teaching was true; whereas the Gentiles admired the miracles for their
own sake, failing, however, and completely, to see that because he cured
the blind, the palsied, the scrofulous and the halt, they should no
longer visit their temples and sacred groves, and admire no more Pan's
huge sexuality and hang garlands upon it, nor carve images of Diana and
Apollo. Such abstinence they could not comprehend, and deemed it enough
that they were ready to proclaim him a god on the occasion of every
great miracle, a readiness that gave great scandal and caused many Jews
to turn away from Jesus. It was not enough that he should repudiate this
godhead; and the hardness of heart and narrowness of soul that he
encountered among his own people afflicted Jesus as much as did the
incontinency of the Gentiles, whom he sometimes met, bearing images in
procession, going towards some shrine--the very same who had listened to
his teaching in the evening. Joseph once dared throw himself in front of
one of these processions, and he begged the processionists to Pan to
throw aside the garlands and wreaths they had woven. This they would not
do, but out of respect to the distinguished strangers that had come to
their town they listened for some minutes to his relation that on the
last day the dead would be roused by the trumpets of angels to attend
the judgment and that the man Jesus before them--the Messiah announced
hundreds of years ago in many a prophetic book--would return to earth in
a chariot of fire by his Father's side, the Judgment Book in his hands.
May we now proceed on our way? they asked, but Joseph besought them to
listen to him for another few minutes, and thinking he had perhaps
explained the resurrection badly, and forthwith calling to mind the
philosophy of Egypt and Mathias, he asked them to apprehend that it
would not be the corruptible body that would rise from the dead but the
spiritual body, whereby he only succeeded in perplexing still further
the minds of the worthy pagans of Caesarea Philippi, and provoking stirs
and quarrels among his own people.

The processionists took advantage of this diversion of opinion among the
Jews to pass on and dispose of their wreaths and votive offerings as it
pleased them to do. But on their way back they begged Jesus to perform
some more miracles, which he refused to do, and to their great amazement
he left them for the Tyrians and Sidonians. But the same difficulties
occurred in Tyre and Sidon, the Gentiles accepting the miracles with
delight but paying little heed to the doctrine. They begged him to
remain with them and offered gifts for his services as healer, but he
refused these and returned to Galilee, having performed miracles of all
sorts, without, however, having bidden a dead man rise from the grave,
to the great disappointment of Joseph, who would have liked to witness
this miracle (the greatest of all); seemingly it was not his lot. Peter
bade him hope!--the great miracle might happen in Galilee, and as such a
miracle would evince the truth of Jesus' Messiah-ship even to his
father, Joseph remained in Capernaum, going out in the boats with Jesus
and his disciples, sailing along the shores till the people gathered in
numbers sufficient for an exhortation. As there were always many
Pharisees and Sadducees among the crowds assembled to hear the Master,
he did not land, but preached standing up in the bow, Peter vigilant
with an oar, for priests are everywhere enemies of reformation and
instigate attacks upon reformers, and those made on Jesus were often so
violent that Peter had to strike out to the right and left, but he
always managed to get free, and they sailed for less hostile coasts or
back to the wharf at Capernaum.

It once occurred to them to try their luck with the Gadarenes, and it
was in returning from their coasts one evening that Peter's boat was
caught in a great storm and that Joseph was met by one of his father's
servants as he jumped ashore. The man had come to tell him that if he
wished to see his father alive he must hasten to Magdala, and Joseph
glared at him dumbfounded, for he had suspected all along that he had
little or no right at all to leave his father for Jesus. I did not know
I was like this, he blurted out to himself. And as much to silence his
accusing conscience as anything else he questioned the stupid messenger,
asking him if his father had seen a physician, and if the physician had
held out any hopes of a recovery. But the thin and halting account which
was all the messenger could give only increased Joseph's alarm, and it
was with much difficulty that he learnt from him that the master had
brought some walnuts to the parrots, and just after giving a nut to the
green parrot had cried out to Tobias that a great pain had come into his
head. Joseph dug his heels into his ass's side and cried to the
messenger: and then? The messenger answered that the pain in the back of
his father's head had become so great that he had begun to reel about,
overthrowing one of the parrots on its perch. The parrot flew at master,
thinking he had done it---- Never mind the parrot, Joseph replied
angrily, confusing the messenger, who told him that the master had
entered the house on Tobias' arm, and had sat down to supper but had
eaten nothing to speak of. None of us dared to go to bed that night, the
messenger continued. We sat up, expecting every moment somebody to come
down from the room overhead to tell us that the master was dead. The
next part of the messenger's story was like a tangled skein, and Joseph
half heard and half understood that the great physician that had come
from Tiberias had said that he must awaken the master out of the swoon
and at any cost. He kept bawling at him, the messenger said. Bawling at
him, Joseph repeated after the messenger, and the messenger repeated the
words, bawling at him, and saying that the physician said the master's
swoon was like a wall and that he must get him to hear him somehow. He
said the effort would cost your father, Sir, a great deal, but he must
get him to hear him. The story as the servant related it seemed
incredible, but he reflected that servants' stories are always
incredible, and Joseph learned with increasing wonder that Dan had heard
the physician and sat up in bed and spoken reasonably, but had fallen
back again unconscious, and that the physician on leaving him said that
they must get his mouth open somehow and pour a spoonful of milk into
his mouth, and call upon him as loudly as they could to swallow. What
physician have they sent for? Joseph asked the messenger, but he could
not remember the name.

It was Ecanus who was sitting by Dan's bedside when Joseph arrived, and
Joseph learnt by careful nursing and feeding him every ten minutes there
was just a chance of saving Dan's life.

For seven days Dan's life receded, and it was not till the eighth day
the wheel of life paused on the edge of the abyss. Dan, with his eyes
turned up under the eyelids, only the white showing, lay motionless; and
it was not till the morning of the ninth day that the wheel began to
revolve back again; but so slow were its revolutions that Joseph was in
doubt for two or three days. But on the fifth day he was sure that Dan
was mending, and in about three days more the pupils of Dan's eyes
looked at his son's from under the eyelids. He spoke a few words and
took his milk more easily, without being asked to swallow. The pains in
his head returned with consciousness; he often moaned; the doctor was
obliged to give him opiates, but he continued to mend and in three weeks
was speaking of going out to walk in the garden. To gain his end he
often showed a certain childish cunning, urging Joseph on one occasion
to go to the verandah to see if somebody was coming up the garden, and
as soon as Joseph's back was turned he slipped out of bed with the
intention of getting to his clothes. He fell, without, however, hurting
himself, and was put back to bed and kept there for three more weeks
before he was allowed a short walk. Even then the concession seemed to
be given too soon; for he could not distinguish the different trees, nor
could he see the parrots, though he could hear them, and he remained in
purblindness for some two or three weeks; but his sight returned, and he
said to Joseph: that is a palm-tree and that is a pepper-tree. Joseph
answered that he said truly and hastened across the garden to meet
Ecanus, for he desired to ask him privily if his father were out of all
danger; and the answer to his question was that Dan's life would pass
away in a swoon like the one he had just come out of, but he might swoon
many times--two or three times, perhaps oftener--before he swooned for
the last time. More than that Ecanus could not say. A silence fell
suddenly between them, and wondering what term of life his father had
still to traverse before he swooned into eternity, Joseph followed the
physician through the wilting alleys, seeking the shadiest parts, for
the summer was well-nigh upon them now.

At the end of one of these, out of the sun's rays, the old man lay
propped up among cushions, dreaming, or perhaps only conscious, of the
refreshing breeze that came and went away again. But he awoke at the
sound of their steps on the sanded paths, and raised his stick as a sign
to them to come to him, and, seeing that he wished to speak, Joseph
leaned over his chair, putting his ear close to his father's face, for
Dan's speech was still thick and often inarticulate. Thou wast nearly
going down in the storm, he said, and Joseph could hardly believe that
he heard rightly, for what could his father know of the storm on the
lake, he being in a deep swoon at the time beyond the reach of words. He
asked his father who had told him of the storm, but Dan could say no
more than that a voice had told him that there was a great storm upon
the lake and that Joseph was in it. Miracle upon miracle! Joseph cried,
and he related his escape from shipwreck; how when coming in Peter's
boat from the opposite shores the wind had risen, carrying the lake in
showers over the boat till all were wetted to their skins. But,
unmindful of these showers, Jesus had continued his teaching, even after
a great wave wrenched away a plank or part of one. Master, if the boat
be not staunched we perish, Peter said, for which Jesus rebuked Peter
and called them all to come forward and kneel closer about him. Kneel,
he said, your faces towards me, and forget the plank and remember your
sins. We could not do else but as we were bidden, and we all knelt about
him, our thoughts fixed as well as we were able to fix them on our sins,
but the water was coming into the boat all the while, and in the midst
of our prayers we said: in another moment we perish if he stay not the
wind and waves. We thought that he would stand up in the bow and
command, but he remained seated, and continued to teach us, but the wind
lulled all the same, and when we looked round the boat was staunch
again, and we made the wharf at Capernaum easily.

Ecanus, who was a man of little faith, asked Joseph if he had seen
anybody put his hand to the plank and restore it to its place, and
Joseph answered that all were grouped round the Master praying, and that
none had fallen away from the group. But there were some in the boat
that saw a little angel speeding over the waves. Philip saw both wings
and the angel's feet, but I had only a glimpse. If you would only let me
bring him to you---- But, reading his father's face, Joseph continued:
if you haven't faith, Father, he couldn't do anything for thee. Father,
let me bring him. This shows no distrust in your power, he interjected
suddenly, turning to Ecanus. Each man has powers given to him; some are
physical and some spiritual; some are powerful in one element and some
in another. But no magician that I have met has power over fire and
water. Only those into whom God has descended can command both fire and
water alike. And he related that when they passed through Chorazin and a
woman ran out of her house crying that her little boy had fallen into
the fire, Jesus had asked her if she had applied any remedy, and on her
saying she had not, he had said: then I will cure him. With his breath
he restored him, and five minutes after the child was playing with his
little comrades in the street. If, however, she had poured oil on the
wounds he couldn't have cured them, Joseph explained, for his affinity
with fire would have been interrupted. In the village of Opeira a child
while carrying a kettle of boiling water from the fire tipped it over,
burning a good deal of the flesh of one foot, which, however, healed
under Jesus' breath almost as soon as he had breathed upon it. And yet
another child was healed of the croup, but this time it was John who
imposed his hands: Jesus had transmitted some of his power over the ills
of the flesh to the disciples. On Dan asking if Joseph had seen Jesus
cast out devils, Joseph replied that he had, but it would take some time
to tell the exordium. Whereupon Ecanus remembered that other patients
waited for his attendance and took his leave, warning Joseph before
leaving against the danger of tiring his father, a thing that Joseph
promised not to do; but as soon as the door closed after the physician
Dan began to beg so earnestly for stories that Joseph could not do else
than tell him of the miracle he had witnessed. Better to submit, he
thought, than to agitate his father by refusal; and he began this
narrative; the morning of the storm, which they would not have succeeded
in weathering had it not been for the intervention of the angel. Jesus
and some of the disciples, including Joseph, had set their sail for the
Gadarene coasts; and finding a landing-place by a shore seeming
desolate, they proceeded into the country; and while seeking a
sufficient number to exhort and to teach, their search led them past
some broken ruins, shards of an old castle, apparently tenantless. They
were about to pass it without examination when a wailing voice from one
of the turrets brought them to a standstill. They were not at first
certain whether the wailing sound was the voice of the wind or a human
voice, but they had hearkened and with difficulty had separated the
doleful sound into: woe! woe! woe! unto thee Jerusalem, woe! woe! It
sounds to me, Peter said, like one that is making a mock of thee,
Master. Having heard that thou foretellest woe to Chorazin---- But
Judas, seeing a cloud gathering on Peter's face, nudged Peter, and the
twain went up together and some minutes after returned with a half-naked
creature, an outcast whom they had found crouching like a jackal in a
hole among the stones, one clearly possessed by many devils. Now as all
were in wonder what his history might be, a swineherd passing by at the
time told them how the poor, naked creature would take a beating or a
gift of food for his singing with the same gentle grace. The words had
hardly passed the swineherd's lips than the possessed began to sing:

Woe! woe! woe! the winds are wailing.
The four great sisters, the winds of the world,
Call one to the other, and it is thy doom
They are calling, Jerusalem.
Woe! woe! woe!
The North brings ruin, the South brings sorrow,
The East wind grief, and the West wind tears
For Jerusalem.
Woe! woe! woe!

And he sung this little song several times, till the hearts of the
disciples hardened against the outcast and they were minded to beat him
if he did not cease; but the swineherd warned them that a surer way to
silence him was by giving him some food; and while he stood by eating,
the swineherd confided the story of the fool, or as much of it as he
knew, to Jesus. The fool, he said, came from Jerusalem some two years
ago. He had been driven out of the Temple, which he frequented daily,
crying about the courts the song with which he wearied you just now,
till the most patient were unable to bear it any longer; and every time
he met a priest he looked into his face and sang: woe! woe! woe! unto
Jerusalem, and whenever he met a scribe he would cry: woe! woe! woe!
unto Jerusalem, hindering them in their work about the Temple. Some
stones were thrown, but enough life was left in him to crawl away, and
as soon as he recovered from his wounds he was about again, singing his
melancholy ditty (he knows but one). He was told if he did not cease he
would be beaten with rods, but he could not cease it, and started his
ditty again as soon as he could bear a shirt on his back; and then he
must have travelled up here afoot, picking up a bit here and a bit
there, getting a lift in an ox-cart. He is without memory of anything,
who he is, where he came from, or who taught him his song. He does not
know why he chose that broken tower for a dwelling, nor do we, but
fortunately it stands in a waste. We hear him singing as we go by to our
work and pitch him scraps of food from time to time. We hear him as we
return in the evening to our homes making his melancholy dwelling sadder
with his song. But he is a harmless, poor fool, save for the annoyance
of his song, which he cannot stanch any more than the wind in the broken
turrets. A harmless fool who will follow whosoever asked him to follow,
unafraid, and taking a blow or a hunch of bread in the same humour, and
distinguishing no man from the next one.

As the swineherd said these words the fool said: Jesus, thou hast come
to my help, but woe to thee, Son of God, thou wilt suffer thy death in
Jerusalem; and looking up into Jesus' face more intensely: oh, Son of
Man, what aileth thee or me? And knowest thou anything of the cloud of
woe that hangs over Jerusalem? To which Jesus made no answer, but called
upon the devils to say how many there were, and they answered: three.
Then depart ye three, Jesus replied, and was about to impose his hands
when the three devils asked whither they should go, to which Jesus
answered: ye must seek another refuge, for here ye cannot remain. Seek
among the wolves and foxes. But these will flee from us, the devils
answered; allow us to enter the hogs rooting the ground before thee. But
at this the swineherd cried out: forbid the devils to enter into my
hogs, else they will run over the cliffs and drown themselves in the
sea. Though you are Jews, and do not look favourably on hogs, they are
as God made them. To which Jesus answered, turning to his disciples: the
man speaks well, for if unclean they be, it was the will of God that
made them so. And taking pity on the hogs that were rooting quietly,
unaware of the devils eager to enter into them, he said: there are
statues of gods and goddesses in Tiberias, enter into them. And
immediately the devils took flight, giving thanks to Jesus as they
departed thither.

Joseph waited a moment and tried to read his father's face. But Dan's
face remained fixed, and as if purposely, which vexed Joseph, who cried:
now, Father, you may believe or disbelieve, or be it thou'rt naturally
averse from Jesus, but thou knowest as well as I do that two days after
the great storm a statue of the goddess Venus fell from her pedestal in
the streets of Tiberias and was broken. But, Joseph, when the statue
fell I was sick and had no knowledge of the fall. But if a statue of the
goddess Venus did fall from her pedestal, I'd ask why the devils should
choose to destroy false gods? Were it not more reasonable for them to
uphold the false gods safe and secure on their pedestals? The gods were
overthrown for a sign that the devils had left the fool's body, Joseph
answered. But why, Dan replied, didn't three statues fall?--a statue for
each devil--and whither did the devils go? That one statue should fall
was enough for a sign, Joseph said, but no more would he say, for his
father's incredulity irritated him, and seeing that he had angered his
son, Dan stretched his hand to him and said: perhaps we are more eager
to believe when we are young than when we are old. And he asked Joseph
to tell him of some other miracle that he might have seen Jesus perform.

Joseph had seen Jesus perform many other miracles, but he was loath to
relate them, for none, he felt sure, would impose upon his father the
belief that Jesus was the Messiah that was promised to the Jews. All the
same the miracle of the woods rose in his mind, and so plainly that he
could not keep the story back, and almost before he was aware of it he
began the relation, telling how Jesus, James, John, Andrew, and himself
were at table, mingling jest with earnest (Peter was not with them,
being kept at home, for his wife was in child-birth at the time), when
the women of the village were heard running up the street crying
together to the men to take part in the chase of the wild man of the
woods, who had come down amongst them once more questing the flesh of
women. But this time we'll put a stop to his leaping, they cried. A
goatherd coming from the hills has seen him enter a cave and as soon as
he has folded his goats he will lead us to it. But the villagers were in
no mood for waiting; the goats could be folded by another; and the
goatherd was bidden and obliged to leave his goats and lead the way,
Jesus and his disciples following with the others through the forest
till we came to a ravine. And the goatherd said: look between yon great
rocks, for it was between them he passed out of my sight. And let one of
you creep in after him, but I must return to my goats, having no
confidence that they have been properly folded for the night. The
goatherd would have run away if he hadn't been held fast, and there
were questions as to who would enter. The first said "no," the second
the same, giving as reason that they were not young or strong enough,
whereas the goatherd was both, and none better endowed for the struggle;
and the people became of one mind that they must beat the goatherd with
the crows if he did not go down into the cave, but Jesus, arriving in
time, said: it is not lawful to break into any man's dwelling with
crows, nor to kill him because his sins affront you; let us rather give
him means to cut himself free from sins. At which words the people were
near to jeering, for it seemed to them that Jesus knew little of the man
they were pursuing, and they knew not what to understand when he asked
if any among them had a long, sharp knife, and there was a movement as
if they were about to leave him; but one man said: thou shalt have mine,
Master, and, taking it out of his girdle, he gave it to Jesus, who
tested it with his thumb, and, satisfied with it, laid it on the rock
beside the cave. But the people began to mutter: he will use the knife
against us, Master. Not against you, Jesus answered, but against
himself, thereby defending himself against himself. There were
mutterings among the people, and some said that his words were too hard
to understand, but all were silent as soon as Jesus raised his hands and
stepped towards the cave, and began to breathe his spirit against the
lust that possessed the man's flesh. We must return here, he said, with
oil and linen cloths. At which all wondered, not knowing what meaning to
put upon his words, but they believed Jesus, and came at daybreak to
meet him at the edge of the forest and followed the path as before till
they came to the hillside. The man was no longer hidden in his cave, but
sat outside by the rock on which Jesus had laid the knife, and Jesus
said: happy is he born into the world without sting, and happy is he out
of whom men have taken the sting before he knew it, but happier than
these is the man that cuts out the part that offends him, setting the
spirit free as this man has done.

Joseph ceased speaking suddenly and stood waiting for his father to
admire the miracle he had related, but Dan's tongue struggled with
words; and Joseph, being taken as it were with another flux of words,
and like one apprehensive of the argument that none shall undo God's
handiwork, set out on the telling that the cause of man's lust of women
was that God and the devil had a bet together--the devil saying that if
God let him sting a man in a certain part of his hide he would get him
in the end despite all that God might do to save him from hell. To which
God, being in the humour, consented, and the sting was put into nearly
all men. A few the devil overlooked, and these have much spared to them,
and those out of whom the sting is taken in childhood are fortunate, but
those who, like the wild man of the wood, cut the sting out of their own
free will are worthy of all praise; and he cited the authority of Jesus
that man should mutilate his body till it conform perforce to his piety.
But the story of man's fall is told differently in the Book of Genesis,
my son. The admonition that he was laying violent hands on a sacred book
startled Joseph out of his meditations, and in some confusion of words
and mind he began to prevaricate, saying that he thought he had made
himself clear: the release of pious souls from the bondage of the flesh
was more important than the continuance of the impious. Moreover in the
days of Moses, Israel was not steeped in as many iniquities as she is
now, and the Day of Judgment was not so close at hand. More men meant
more sins, and sin has become so common that God can endure the torture
no longer.... Again Joseph ceased speaking suddenly and, almost agape,
stood gazing into his father's face, reading therein a great perplexity,
for Dan was asking himself for what good reason had God given him so
strange a son. He would have been content to let the story pass into
another, but Joseph was waiting for him to speak, and speaking
incontinently he said he had heard that in the Temple of Astoreth the
Phoenician youths often castrated themselves with shards of shells or
pottery and threw their testicles in the lap of the goddess crying out:
art thou satisfied now, Astoreth? But he did not know of any text in
their Scriptures that counselled such a practice; and the introduction
of it seemed to savour of borrowing from the heathen. Whereupon Joseph
averred that whereas the wont of the Phoenician youths is without
reason, the same could not be said of Jesus' device to save a soul. To
which Dan rejoined that the leaving of the knife for the man to mutilate
himself with, seemed to him to be contrary to all the rumours of Jesus
that had come to his ears. I have heard that he would set the law aside
and the traditions of our race, declaring the uncircumcised to be
acceptable to God as the Jew; that he sits down to food with the
uncircumcised and lays no store on burnt offerings. Nor did Isaiah,
Joseph interrupted, and circumcision is itself a mutilation. I do not
contest its value, mark you; but if thou deny'st that Jesus was right to
leave a knife whereby the sinner might free himself from sin thou must
also deny circumcision. Circumcision is the sign of our race, Dan
answered. A physical sign, an outward sign, Joseph cried, and he asked
his father to say if the Jews would ever forget priests and ritual; and
he reminded his father that the once sinner, now a holy anchorite, did
not bring an appetency into the world that could be overcome by prayer,
and so had to resort to the knife that he might live in the spirit. It
seems to me, Joseph, that we should live as God made us, for better or
worse. But, Father, once you admit circumcision---- A man should not be
over-nice, Joseph, and though it be far from my thought to wish to see
thee a fornicator or adulterer it would rejoice me exceedingly to see
grandchildren about me. There is a maiden---- Another reason, Father, of
which I have not yet spoken makes the marriage of the flesh seem a
vanity to me, and that is---- I know it well, Joseph, that the great
day is coming when the world will be remoulded afresh. But, Father, do
ye believe in nothing but observances? Tell me, Joseph, did thy prophet
ever raise anybody from the dead? Yes, and hoping to convince his father
by another miracle he fell to telling eagerly how a young girl who was
being carried to the grave was called back to life.

She was, he said, coming from her wedding feast. And he told how there
were in the village two young girls, one as fair as the other, rivals in
love as well as in beauty, both having the same young man in their
hearts, and for a long time it seemed uncertain which would get him; for
he seemed to favour them alternately, till at length Ruth, unable to
bear her jealousy any longer, went to the young man, saying that she was
close on a resolve to see him no more. Your lover? he answered, his
cheek blanching, for he dearly loved her. I haven't gotten a lover, she
said; only a share in a lover. Your words, Ruth, relieve me of much
trouble, he replied, and took her in his arms and said: it was a good
thought that brought you hither, for if you hadn't come I might never
have been able to decide between you, but your coming has given me
strength, and now I know which I desire. And then it was the girl's
cheek that grew pale, for he hadn't answered at once which he would
have. Which? she asked, and he replied: you, not Rachel. If that be so,
she answered, I am divided between joy and sorrow; gladness for myself,
sorrow for my friend; and it behoves me to go to her and tell her of her
loss. I am the chosen one, she said to Rachel, who turned away, saying:
had I gone to him and asked him to choose between us he would have
chosen me. He couldn't do else.

She began to brood and to speak of a spell laid upon the young man, and
her visits to a sorceress came to be spoken about so openly that it was
against the bridegroom's wish that Rachel was asked to the wedding
feast; but Ruth pleaded, saying that it would be no feast for her if
Rachel did not present herself at the table. The twain sat opposite each
other at table, Rachel seemingly the happier, eating, drinking,
laughing, foretelling that Mondis would fill Ruth's life with happiness
from end to end. Thou wilt never see the face of an evil hour, she said,
and Ruth in her great joy answered: Rachel, I know not why he didn't
choose thee; thou'rt so beautiful; and the young Mondis wooed her at the
table, to Ruth's pleasure, for she knew of his thankfulness to Rachel
for allowing the wedding to pass in concord, without a jarring note.

She seemed to listen to him as a sister might to a beloved brother, and
as the wedding feast drew to a close she said: Ruth shall drink wine
with me, and the cups were passed across the table, and laughter and
jest flowed on for a while. But soon after drinking from Rachel's cup
Ruth turned pale and, leaning back into the arms of her bridegroom, she
said: I know not what ails me.... And then a little later on she was
heard to say: I am going, and with a little sigh she went out of her
life, lying on her bridegroom's arm white and still like a cut flower.
The word "poison" swelled up louder and louder, and all eyes were
directed against Rachel, who to prove her innocence drank the wine that
was left in Ruth's glass; but it was said afterwards that she had not
drunk out of the cup that she had handed to Ruth. Be this as it may, a
house of joy was turned into a house of tears. Bridegroom, parents and
friends fell into procession, and we who were coming down the street
met the bier, and after hearing the story of the girl's death Jesus
said: let me speak to her, and, leaning over her, he whispered in her
ear, and soon after we thought it was the wind that stirred the folds of
her garments, but her limbs were astir in them; the colour came back to
her cheeks; she raised herself on her bier, and with his bride in his
arms the bridegroom worshipped Jesus as a god; but Jesus reproved him,
saying: it was by the power of God working through me that she was
raised from the dead: give thanks to him who alone merits our thanks.
But Rachel, who had been following the bier in great grief, hanging on
the bridegroom's arm could not contain herself at the sight of Ruth
raised from the dead, and it wrenching her reason out of her control
compelled her to call upon the people to cast out the Nazarene, who
worked cures with the help of the demons with whom he was in league,
which proved to everybody that her friendly words to Ruth at the feast
were make-believe, and that she had been plotting all the while how she
might ruin her.

At the sight of Ruth beautiful and living naught mattered to Rachel but
revenge, and she crossed the street as if with the intention of striking
her with a dagger, but as she approached Jesus the flame of fury died
out of her face, and like one overwhelmed with a great love she cast
herself at his feet, and could not be removed. Why do you turn the woman
from me? he asked. Whatever her sins may have been they are forgiven,
for she loves me. But she loved the other man five seconds before, Dan
submitted, and Joseph replying to him said: she only knew that passion
of the flesh which we share with the beasts of the fields, the fowls of
the air and the fish in the sea. But now she loves Jesus as we love
him--with the spirit. And next day she brought all her wealth to him;
the golden comb she was wont to wear in her hair she would place in his;
and the silks and linen in which she was wont to clothe herself she laid
at his service; but he told her to sell all these things and give the
money to the poor. Give to the poor! That is what I hear always, cried
Dan; but if we gave all to the poor we would be as poor as the very
poorest; and where, then, would the money come from with which we now
help the poor?

Give to the poor that thou mayest become worthy of a place in the world
to come. This world is but a shadow--an illusion, Joseph answered
defiantly. Thou hast that answer for everything, Joseph; and another day
when I'm stronger I'll argue that out with thee. I have tired thee,
Father; but if I've told you many stories it was because---- Because,
Dan retorted, thou wouldst have Jesus cast his spells over me. But I've
no use for them; thou art enough.

And while Joseph debated how he might convince his father that the girl
was really dead, Dan asked for news of Rachel, and Joseph answered that
she was with them every day, that their company had been increased by
several devoted women. Thou hast talked enough, Father, and more than
enough; if Ecanus were to return he would accuse me of planning to talk
you to death.


Like every other old Jew, Dan liked the marvellous, and listened to his
son's stories, not knowing whether he believed or disbelieved, nor
seeking to inquire; content to enjoy the stories as they went by, he
listened, suffering such a little disappointment when his son's voice
ceased as he might at the death of a melodious wind among the branches,
the same little sadness. Moreover, while Joseph talked he had his
attention, and it irritated him to see Joseph's thoughts wander from him
in search of parrots and monkeys; and he begged his son to tell him
another miracle, for he was sure that Joseph had not told him the last
one. Joseph pleaded that there was no use relating miracles to one who
only believed in ancient miracles, a statement that Dan combated, saying
that one could like a story for its own sake. Like a Gentile, Joseph
interposed gaily, bringing all the same a cloud into his father's face,
which he would have liked to disperse with the relation of another
miracle, but he continued to plead that he had told all his stories.
There was, however, a certain faint-heartedness in his pleading, and Dan
became more certain than ever that his son was holding back a miracle,
and becoming suddenly curious, he declared that Joseph had no right to
hold back a story from him, for to do that provoked argument, and
argument fatigued him.

Joseph thought the device to extort a story from him, which he did not
wish to tell, a shabby one, but, fearing to vex his father in his
present state of health, he began to think it would be better to tell
him the miracle he had heard of that morning at Capernaum; but, still
loath, he tried instead to divert his father's attention from Jesus,
reminding him of the numerous matters that would have to be settled up
between them, especially Dan's responsibility in the new adventure, the
transport of grain from Moab to Jerusalem. Dan's curiosity was not to be
diverted, and seeing him give way to his rage like a petulant child,
Joseph decided that he must tell him, and he began with a disparagement
of his story, the truth of which he did not vouch for. At Capernaum they
were all telling how some two or three weeks ago Jesus heard God
speaking within him, and, naming those he wished to accompany him, led
them through the woods, up the slow ascending hills in silence, no word
being exchanged between him and them. Every one of the disciples was
aware that the Master was in communion with his Father in heaven, and
that his communion was shared by them as long as a word was not spoken.
A word would break it; and so they journeyed with their eyes set upon
the stars or upon the ground, never daring to look for Jesus, who
remained amongst them for an hour or more and then seemed to them to
pass into shadow, only his voice remaining with them bidding them to
journey on, which they did, each man in his faith, until they reached a
lonely hill on the top of which stood a blighted tree. Why, Master, they
asked, have you led us hither? and, receiving no answer, they looked
round for Jesus, but he was missing, and, thinking they walked too fast
and had left him on the road behind them, they returned to the place
where he had last spoken to them; and, not finding him there, they
returned to the hill-top, and, seeing him among the white branches
waiting for them, they knelt and prayed. When the stars began to grow
dim they heard a voice cry out: behold he is with you, he who brings
salvation to all men, Jew and Gentile; and ye twelve are bidden to carry
the joyful tidings to the ends of the earth.

At these words the disciples rose from their knees and looked round
astonished, for only four had gone with Jesus up the hillside, but
twelve were kneeling at the foot of the tree, and the four that had come
with Jesus knew not how the eight were gathered with them, nor could the
eight tell how they reached the hill-top, nor what spirit guided them
thither. The day is breaking, someone said; and looking towards the
east they saw innumerable angels and all of them singing hosanna;
hosannas fell from the skies and blossoms from the tree; for the tree
was no longer a blighted but a quickened tree. Jesus was amongst them,
talking to them, telling those who were standing around him that they
were chosen by his Father in heaven first of all, and then by him, to
carry the joyful tidings to the ends of the earth, and they all
answered: we heard the words that thou hast spoken, Master. And he
answered: ye have heard truly, and I am here to carry out my Father's
will; ye shall go forth and bring salvation to all, Jew and Gentile

Father, of what art thou thinking--that the twelve slept and dreamed?
But before Dan could find an answer to his son's question Joseph sank
away into regrets that he had acceded to his father's request and told
him this last miracle, and that he had not been able to disguise the
fact, in the telling, that Jesus had chosen as his apostles those who
accompanied him into the mountains. He intended to omit all mention of
this election, but it slipped from him unawares in the excitement of the
telling, and now to divert his father's thoughts from the unfortunate
admission Joseph called to one of the parrots and spoke cheerfully to
the bird, and to the monkey that came hopping across the sward and
jumped into his arms; but Dan knew his son's face too well to be
deceived by the poor show Joseph could paint upon it, and guessing that
his father divined the truth, words deserted him altogether. He sat
striving against regret and hoping that his father did not think he
loved him less than he loved Jesus. At last something had to be said,
and Dan could find nothing better to say than: Joseph, there is gloom in
thy face; but be not afraid to tell me if thou art disappointed that
thou wert not with Jesus when his Father spoke to him out of heaven, and
thereby missed being among the apostles. For this suspicion Joseph
rebuked his father, but as it was his dearest wish to be numbered
amongst the apostles his rebukes were faint, and feeling he was making
bad worse, he put as bold a face upon it as he could, saying to his
father that he would have liked to have been numbered among the twelve,
but since it did not befall he was content; and to himself that he was
younger than any that were elected, and if one of them were to die he
would be called to fill his place.

So much admission was forced upon him, for it was important that his
father should accept his absence from the mountain that day as a
sufficient reason for his not having been elected an apostle, the real
reason being, not his absence from the mountain, but the fact that he
chose to turn aside from Jesus and leave him to attend his father's
sick-bed. That was the sin he was judged guilty of, an unpardonable act
in Jesus' mind, and one that discredited Joseph for ever, proving him
for good and all to be unworthy to follow Jesus, which might be no more
than the truth. He could follow Jesus' way of thinking, apprehending it
remotely; but to his father, Jesus present teaching, that one must learn
to hate one's father and one's mother, one's wife and one's children
before one can love God, would be incomprehensible; and he would be
estranged from Jesus for ever, as many of the disciples had been that
morning by such ultra-idealism. It would have been better to have
withheld the miracle, he said to himself, and then he lost himself
thinking how the election of the apostles had dropped from him, for it
had nothing to do with the miracle, and then awakening a little from his
reverie he assured himself that his father must never know, for Dan
could never understand Jesus in his extravagant moods. But if some
accident should bring the knowledge to his father? It wasn't likely that
this could happen, for who knew it? Hardly was it known among those whom
he had met that morning as he crossed the Plain of Gennesaret. He had
seen the disciples with Jesus, Jesus walking ahead with Peter and with
James and John, to whom he addressed not a word, the others following
him shamefacedly at a little distance. One of his black moods is upon
him, Joseph said to himself, and gliding in among the crowd he
questioned the nearest to him, who happened to be Judas, who told him
that Jesus didn't know for certain if he were called to go to Jerusalem
for the Feast of the Tabernacles. The Master foresees his death in
Jerusalem, but he is not sure if it be ordained for this year or the
next. Peter would dissuade him, he added, and in the midst of his
wonderment Joseph heard from Judas that Jesus had elected his apostles,
and now Joseph remembered how, speaking out of his heart, he uttered a
little cry and said: it was because I am a rich man that he didn't think
of me. But Judas answered that there might be another reason, to which
he replied: there can be no other reason except the simple one--I wasn't
there and he didn't think of me. But Judas murmured that there might be
another reason--he never allows a disciple to desert him, whatever
reason may be for so doing. But there was no desertion on my part. My
father's illness! Wait in any case, Judas had said, till the Master has
fallen out of his mood, for he is in his blackest now; we dare not speak
to him. But I couldn't believe that that could make any difference,
Joseph said to himself, and he put the monkey away from him somewhat
harshly, and fell to thinking how he ran to Jesus, his story on his
lips. But it all seemed to drift away from him the moment he looked upon
Jesus, so changed was he from the Jesus he had seen in the cenoby, a
young man of somewhat stern countenance and cold and thin, with the neck
erect, walking with a measured gait, whose eyes were cold and distant,
though they could descend from their starry heights and rest for a
moment almost affectionately on the face of a mortal. That was two years
ago. And the Jesus whom he met in rags by the lake-side one evening and
journeyed with as far as Caesarea Philippi, to Tyre and Sidon, was no
doubt very different from the severe young man he had seen in the
monastery. He had grown older, more careworn, but the first Jesus still
lingered in the second, whereas the Jesus he was looking at now was a
new Jesus, one whom he had seen never before; the cheeks were fallen in
and the eyes that he remembered soft and luminous were now concentrated;
a sort of malignant hate glowered in them: he seemed to hate all he
looked upon; and his features seemed to have enlarged, the nose and chin
were more prominent, and the body was shrunken. A sword that is wearing
out its scabbard was the thought that passed through Joseph's frightened
mind; and frightened at the change in Jesus' appearance, and still more
by the words that were hurled out at him, when intimidated and
trembling, he babbled out: my father lay between life and death for
eight days and came out of his swoon slowly. He could say no more, the
rest of his story was swallowed up in a violent interruption, Jesus
telling him that there was no place among his followers for those who
could not free themselves from such ghosts as father, mother and
children and wife.

Jesus had flung his father's wealth and his own in his face, and his own
pitiful understanding that had not been able to see that this world and
the world to come were not one thing but twain. And whosoever chooses
this world must remain satisfied with its fleshly indulgences and its
cares and its laws and responsibilities, and whoso ever chooses the
Kingdom of Heaven must cast this world far from him, must pluck it, as
it were, out of his heart and throw it away, bidding it depart; for it
is but a ghost. All these, he said, pointing to his apostles, have cast
their ghosts into the lake. The apostles stood with eyes fixed, for they
did not understand how they had despoiled themselves of their ghosts,
and only Peter ventured into words: all my family is in the lake,
Master; and at his simplicity Jesus smiled, then as if to compensate
him for his faith he said: I shall come in a chariot sitting on the
right hand of our Father, the Judgment Book upon my lap. As the rocks of
this world are shaken and riven by earthquakes, my words shall sunder
father from son, brother from brother, daughter from mother; the ties
that have been held sacred shall be broken and all the things looked
upon as eternal shall pass away even as the Temple of Jerusalem shall
pass away. My words shall sunder it Beam by beam, pillar by pillar, and
every stone of it shall be scattered. For I say unto you that God is
weary of the fat of rams and goats, and incense delights his nostrils;
it is not our flocks and herds that our Father desires nor the
sweet-smelling herbs of this world, but a temple in which there shall be
nothing but the love of God. It is for the building of this temple that
I have been called hither; and not with hands during laborious years
will it be built, but at once, for the temple that I speak to you of, is
in the heart of every man; and woe, woe, woe, I say unto you who delay
to build this temple, for the fulfilment of the prophecies is at hand,
and when the last day of this world begins to dawn and the dead rise up
seeking their cere-clothes it will be too late. Woe! woe! woe! unto
thee, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Magdala, for you have not repented yet,
but still choose the ghosts that haunt the sepulchres out of which ye
shall be called soon; too soon for many; for I say unto you that it is
not the dead that sleep but the living. At these words there were
murmurings among the disciples, and they said, turning from one to the
other: he says we sleep, brother, but this is not true. He mocks at us.
But Jesus, as if he did not hear these rebukers, and moved as if by a
sudden sympathy for Joseph, said: here is one that left me to attend
his father's sick-bed, but I would have you understand me in this, that
if we would love God we must abandon father, mother, wife and children,
for there is not room in our hearts for two loves. Ye say that I lay
heavy burdens on your backs, but I say unto you that I lay no burdens on
your backs that I did not first weigh upon my own shoulders; for have I
not denied myself brothers and sisters, and did I not say to my mother,
who came to dissuade me: God chose thee as a vehicle to give to man a
redeemer to lead him out of this kingdom of clay. Thou hast done it and
so there is no further need of thee. Out of this corruptible body I
shall rise in Jerusalem, my mission accomplished, into the incorruptible
spirit. His passion rising again and into flood, he seemed like one
bereft of reason, for he said that all men must drink of his blood if
they would live for ever. He who licked up one drop would have
everlasting life. Joseph recalled the murmurings that followed these
words, but Jesus would not desist. These murmurings seemed to sting him
to declare his doctrine to the full, and he added that his flesh, too,
was like bread, and that any crumb would give to him who ate it a place
before the throne of the Almighty. Whereupon many withdrew, murmuring
more loudly than before, saying among themselves: who is this man that
asks us to assuage our thirst with his blood and our hunger with his
flesh? Moses and Elijah did not ask such things. Who is he that says he
will scatter the Temple to build up another?

Many other animadversions Joseph remembered among the multitude, and he
recalled them one by one, pondering over each till one of the monkeys
sprang into his arms and snatched some flowers out of his hand and
hobbled away shrieking, awaking Dan, who had been dozing, and who,
seeing whence the shrieking came, closed his eyes again. While his
father slept Joseph remembered that Peter, John and James stood by the
Master throughout the dissidence. But what answer will they give, Joseph
asked himself, when they are questioned as to what the Master meant when
he said that they must drink his blood and eat his flesh? What answer
will they make when the people question them in the different
countries?--for they are to go to every part of the world, carrying the
joyful tidings. It seemed to Joseph that the apostles would be able to
make plain these hard sayings even less well than he, and he could not
make plain to anybody what the Master had meant, and still less would he
be able to convince others that the Master had said well that a man must
leave his father though he were dying. He said that he should leave his
father unburied, the dead not needing our care, for they are the living
ones, and the hyenas and crows would find to eat only that which had
always been dead. Of course if the old world were going out and the new
coming in, it mattered very little what happened within the next
twenty-four hours. But was the new world as near as that? He wondered!
It might be nearer still without his being able to leave his father to
die among strangers, and a feeling rose up within him that he knew he
would never be able to subdue though he were to gain an eternity of
happiness by subduing it; and, pursuing this thread of thought, he came
to the conclusion that he was a very weak creature, neither sufficiently
enamoured of this world nor of the next; so he supposed Jesus was right
to discard him, for, as he knew himself, he would be an insufficient
apostle, just as he was an insufficient son. But his father did not
think him a bad son. He raised his eyes, and, finding his father's eyes
upon him, he remembered that he had left him because he wished to see
the world, to go to Jerusalem, to live with the Essenes, to go to Egypt;
and that he had remained away for nearly two years, and had returned to
settle a business matter between himself and his father. Therefore it
was not love of his father but a business matter that brought him back
from Egypt; and now he was going to leave his father again, though he
knew that his father wished him to marry some lusty girl, who would bear
healthy children.

If he were a good son he would take a maid to bed. But that he couldn't
do! I am afraid, he said, speaking suddenly out of his thoughts, I'm not
the son you deserve, Father. I'm not a bad son, but I'm not the son God
should have given you. Thou shouldst not say that, Joseph, for we have
loved each other dearly. It is true that I hoped to see little children
about me, and it may be that hope will never be fulfilled, which is sad
to think on. I've never seen thee over-busy with one of our serving
girls, nor caught thee near her bed, and the family will end with, thee,
and the counting-house will end with me, and these things will happen
through no fault of mine or thine, Joseph. Our lives are not planned by
ourselves, and when life comes sweetly to a man a bitter death awaits
him, for death is bitter to those that have lived in ease and health as
I have done. I am still obdurate, for I can sit down to a meal with
pleasure, but a time will come when I shall not be able to do this, and
then the sentence that the Lord pronounced over all flesh will seem easy
to bear, and the grandchildren I have not gotten will be desired no
longer; only the peace of the grave, where there is no questioning nor
dainties. But, Father, this world is but the shadow of a reality beyond
the grave, and I beseech you to believe in your eternity and in mine. In
the eternity of my body or of my soul--which, Joseph? Thou knowest not,
but of this we are sure, that there is little time left for me to love
you in this comfortable land of Galilee. And, this being so, I will ask
you to promise me that thou wilt not leave Judea in my lifetime. Thou'lt
have to go to Jerusalem, for business awaits you there, and to Jericho,
perhaps, which is a long way from Galilee, but I'd not have thee leave
Judea to preach a strange creed to the Gentiles. I know no reason now,
Father, for me to leave Judea, since I am not among the chosen. If thou
hadst been, Joseph, thou wouldst not have left me in these last years of
my life? Jesus is dear to thee, but he isn't thy father, and every
father would like his son to be by him when the Lord chooses to call
him. I would have thee within a day's journey or two; death comes
quicker than that sometimes, but we must risk something. I'd have thee
remain in Judea so that thou mayest come, if thou art called, to receive
my last blessing. I'd have thee close my eyes, Joseph. The children I'll
forgive thee, if thou wilt promise me this. I promise it, Father, and
will hold to my promise if I live beyond thee. If thou livest beyond me,
Joseph? Of course thou wilt live many years after me. But, Joseph, I
would have thee shun dangerous company. And guessing that his father had
Jesus in his mind, Joseph asked him if it were so, and he answered that
it was so, saying that Jesus was no new thing in Judea, and that the
priests and the prophets have ever been in strife. That is my meaning,
he said. The exactions of the priests weigh heavily, and Jesus is right
in this much, that priests always have been, and perhaps always will be,
oppressors of the poor; they are strong, and have many hirelings about
them. Thou hast heard of the Zealots, Son, who walk in the streets of
Jerusalem, their hands on their knives, following those who speak
against the law and the traditions, and who, when they meet them, put
their knives into their ribs, and when the murdered man falls back into
their arms call aloud for help? So do the priests free themselves from
their opponents, and, my good son, Joseph, think what my grief would be
if I were to receive tidings that thou hadst been slain in the streets.
Dost think that the news would not slay me as quickly as any knife? I
ask little of thee, Joseph, the children I'll forgo, but do thou
separate thyself from these sectaries during my lifetime. Think of me
receiving the news of thy death; an old man living alone among all his
riches without hope of any inheritance of his name. But, Joseph, I can't
put away altogether the hope that the day will come when thou'lt look
more favourably on a maid than now. Thy thoughts be all for Jesus, his
teaching, and his return to this world, sitting by the side of his
Father in a fiery chariot, but maybe the day will come when these hopes
will fade away and thy eyes will rest upon a maid. It is strange that
thou shouldst be so unlike me. I was warmer-blooded at thy age, and when
I saw thy mother----Father, the promise is given to thee already, and my
hand upon it. I'll not see Jesus during thy life. If the sudden news of
my death were to kill thee, I should be thy murderer. Jesus will forgive
thee these few years, Dan said. The expression on Joseph's face changed,
and Dan wondered if Jesus were so cruel, so hard, and so self-centred
that he would not grant his son a few years, if he were to ask it, so
that he might stay by his father's bedside and close his eyes and bury
him. It seemed from Joseph's face that Jesus asked everything from his
disciples, and if they did not give everything it was as if they gave

And while Dan was thus conferring with his own thoughts he heard Joseph
saying that if he were to keep the promise he had just given, not to see
Jesus again, he must not remain in his neighbourhood. Yes, that is so,
Joseph; go to Jerusalem. And the old man began to babble of the
transport of figs from Jericho, till Joseph could not do else than
ponder on the grip of habit on a man's heart, and ask himself if the
news of his death would affect his father's health more than the news
that there was no further demand in Damascus for his salt fish. He
repented the thought as soon as it had passed through his mind, and he
understood that, however much it would cost him, he must go away to
Jerusalem. He dared not risk the accusation that would for ever echo in
his heart: my father has no peace by day, nor rest at night, he is
thinking always that a Zealot's knife is in my back. But after my
father's death--His thoughts brought him back again to a sudden shame of
himself. I am like that, he said, and shall always be as I am. And, not
daring to think of himself any more, he jumped to his feet: I must tell
my servant that I shall start soon after daybreak.


And on his arrival in Jerusalem Joseph stood for a moment before his
camel thanking the beast for his great, rocking stride, which has given
me, he said, respite from thinking for two whole days and part of two
nights. But I cannot be always on the back of a camel, he continued, and
must now rely on my business to help me to forget; and he strove to
apply his mind to every count that came before him, but in the middle of
every one his thoughts would fly away to Galilee, and the merchant
waiting to receive the provisions he had come to fetch wondered of what
the young man was thinking, and the cause of the melancholy that was in
his face.

He was still less master of his thoughts when he sat alone, his ledger
before him; and finding he could not add up the figures, he would
abandon himself without restraint to his grief; and very often it was so
deep that when the clerk opened the door it took Joseph some moments to
remember that he was in his counting-house; and when the clerk spoke of
the camel-drivers that were waiting in the yard behind the
counting-house for orders, it was only by an effort of will that he
collected his thoughts sufficiently to realise that the yard was still
there, and that a caravan was waiting for orders to return to Jericho.
The orders were forgotten on the way to the yard, and the clerk had to
remind him, and sometimes to say: Master, if you'll allow me, I will
settle this business for you.

Joseph was glad of his clerk's help, and he returned to the ledger, and,
staring at figures which he did not see, he sat thinking of Jesus, of
the night they walked by the lake's edge, of the day spent in the woods
above Capernaum, and the various towns of Syria that they visited. It
seemed to him that the good days had gone over for ever, and it was but
a sad pleasure to remember the pagans that liked Jesus' miracles without
being able to abandon their own gods. Only Peter could bring a smile
into his face; a smile wandered round his lips, for it was impossible to
think of Peter and not to smile. But the smile faded quickly and the old
pain gripped his heart.

I have lost Jesus for ever, he said, and at that moment a sudden rap at
his door awoke him from his reveries. He was angry with his clerk, but
he tried to disguise his anger, for he was conscious that he must
present a very ridiculous appearance to his clerk, unless, indeed, which
was quite likely, his clerk was indifferent to anything but the business
of the counting-house. Be this as it may, he was an old and confidential
servant who made no comments and asked no questions. Joseph was
grateful to his clerk for his assumed ignorance and an hour later Joseph
bade him good-night. I shall see thee in the morning, to which Samuel
answered: yes, sir; and Joseph was left alone in the crowded street of
Jerusalem, staring at the passengers as they went, wondering if they
were realities, everyone compelled by a business or a desire, or merely
shadows, figments of his imagination and himself no more than a shadow,
a something that moved and that must move across the valley of
Jehoshaphat and up the Mount of Olives. Why that way more than any other
way? he asked himself: because it is the shortest way. As if that
mattered, he added, and as soon as he reached the top of the Mount of
Olives he looked over the desert and was surprised by the smallness of
the hills; like the people who lived among them, they seemed to him to
have dwindled. The world is much smaller than I thought, he said. That
is it, the world seems to have dwindled into a sort of ash-heap; life
has become as tasteless as ashes. It can only end, he said to himself,
by my discovering something that interests me, but nothing interests me
except Jesus. Lack of desire, he said, is my burden, for, desiring one
thing too much, I have lost desire for all else, and that is why life
has come to me like an ash-heap.

As the days went by he began to feel life more oppressive and
unendurable, till one evening the thought crossed his mind that change
of scene might be a great benefit to him. If he were to go to Egypt, he
would journey for fifteen days through the desert, the rocking stride of
the camel would keep him from thinking, and he might arrive in Egypt
eager to listen to the philosophers again. But the temptations that
Egypt presented faded almost as soon as they had arisen, and he deemed
that it might be better for him to choose a city oversea. A sea voyage,
he thought, will cheer me more than a long journey across the desert,
and Joppa is but a day's journey from Jerusalem. But the shipping is
more frequent from Caesarea, and it is not as far; and for a moment it
seemed to him that he would like to be on board a ship watching the
wind making the sail beautiful. But to what port should he be making
for? he asked. Why not to Greece?--for there are philosophers as great
or greater than those of Alexandria. But philosophers are out of my
humour, he added, and, putting Athens aside, he bethought himself of
Corinth, and the variegated world he would meet there. From every port
ships come to Corinth, bringing different habits, customs, languages,
religions; and for the better part of the evening Corinth seemed to be
his destination.

Corinth was famous for its courtesans, and he remembered suddenly that
the most celebrated were collected there; and it may have been the
courtesans that kept him from this journey, and his thoughts turning
from vice to marriage a bitterness rose up in his mind against his
father for the persistency with which Dan reminded him in and out of
season that every man's duty is to bring children into the world.

It had seemed to him that in asking him to take a wife to his discomfort
his father was asking him too much, and he had put the question aside;
but he was now without will to resist any memory that might befall him,
and for the first time he allowed his thoughts to dwell on his father's
implied regret that he had never caught his son near a servant girl's
bed. His unwillingness to impugn his father's opinions kept him
heretofore from pondering on his words, but feeling his life to be now
broken and cast away, there seemed to arise some reasons for an
examination of his father's words. They could not mean anything else
than that a young man was following the natural instincts if he lingered
about a young girl's room; and that to be without this instinct was
almost a worse misfortune than to be possessed by it to the practical
exclusion of other interests.

His father, it is true, may have argued the matter out with himself
somewhat in this fashion: that love of women in a man may be controlled;
and looking back into his own life he may have found this view
confirmed. Joseph remembered that his grandmother often spoke to him of
Dan's great love of his wife, and it might be that he had never loved
another woman; few men, however, were as fortunate as his father, and
Joseph could not help thinking that it were better to put women out of
his mind altogether than to become inflamed by the sight of every woman.
He believed that was why he had always kept all thoughts of women out of
his mind; but it seemed to him now that a wife would break the monotony
that he saw in front of him, and were he to meet a woman such as his
father seems to have met he might take her to live with him. He thought
of himself as her husband, though he was by no means sure that married
life was a possible makeshift for the life he sought and was obliged to
forgo, but as life seemed an obligation from which he could not
reasonably escape he thought he would like to share it with some woman
who would give him children. His father desired grandchildren, and since
he had partly sacrificed his life for his father's sake, he might, it
seemed to him, sacrifice himself wholly. But could he? That did not
depend altogether on himself, and with the view to discovering the turn
of his sex instinct he called to mind all the women he had seen, asking
himself as each rose up before him if he could marry her. There were
some that seemed nearer to his desire than others, and it was with the
view to honourable marriage that he called upon his friends, and his
father's friends, and passed his eyes over all their daughters; but the
girl whose image had lingered more pleasantly than any other in his
memory had married lately, and all the others inspired only a physical
aversion which he felt none would succeed in overcoming. He had seen
some Greek women, and been attracted in a way, for they were not too
like their sex; but these Jewish women--the women of his race--seemed to
him as gross in their minds as in their bodies, and it surprised him to
find that though many men seemed to think as he did about these women,
they were not repelled as he was, but accepted them willingly, even
greedily, as instruments of pleasure and afterwards as mothers of
children. But I am not as these men are, he said; my father must bear
his sorrow like another; and in meditation it seemed to him that it
would not be reasonable that his father should get everything he desired
and his son nothing.

His father had gotten more out of life than ever he should get; he would
have his son till he died (so far as he could he would secure him that
satisfaction), and after death this world and its shows concern us not.
But it may well be that we die out of one life to be born into another
life, that everything that passes is replaced by an equivalent, he said,
repeating the words of a Greek philosopher to whom he had been much
addicted in happy days gone by, and that reality is but an eternal
shaping and reshaping of things. All that is beyond doubt, he continued,
is that things pass too quickly for us to have any certain knowledge of
them, our only standard being our own flitting impressions; and as all
men bring a different sensitiveness into the world, knowledge is a word
without meaning, for there can be no knowledge. Every race is possessed
of a different sensitiveness, he said, as he passed up the Mount of
Olives on his way home. We ask for miracles, but the Greeks are
satisfied with reason. Am I Greek or Jew? he asked, for he was looking
forward to some silent hours with a book of Greek philosophy and hoped
to forget himself in the manuscript. But he could not always keep his
thoughts on the manuscript, and, forgetful of Heraclitus, he often sat
thinking of Jesus' promise--that one morning men would awake to find
that God had come to judge the world and divide it among those that
repented their sins. He remembered he had forfeited his share in the
Kingdom for his father's sake, or had he been driven out of the
community because his belief in the coming of the Kingdom was
insufficient? It is true that his belief had wavered, but he had always
believed. Even his natural humility, of which he was conscious, did not
allow him to doubt that his belief in Jesus was less fervid than that of
Peter, James, John and the residue. The conviction was always quick in
him that he felt more deeply than these publicans and fishers, yet Jesus
retained them and sent him away.

The manuscript glided from his hand to the floor, and his thoughts
wandered back to Alexandria, and he sat thinking that death must be
rather the beginning than the end of things, for it were impossible to
believe that life was an end in itself. Heraclitus was right: his
present life could be nothing else but the death of another life. And as
if to enforce this doctrine a recollection of his grandmother intruded
upon his meditation. She was seventy-eight when she died, and her
intellect must have faded some months before, but with her passing one
of the servants told him that a curious expression came into her face--a
sort of mocking expression, as if she had learnt the truth at last and
was laughing at the dupes she left behind. She lay in a grave in
Galilee, under some pleasant trees, and while thinking of her grave it
occurred to him that he would not like to be put into the earth; his
fancy favoured a tomb cut out of the rocks in Mount Scropas, for there,
he said to himself, I shall be far from the Scribes and Pharisees, and
going out on the terrace he stood under the cedars and watched for an
hour the outlines of the humped hills that God had driven in endless
disorder, like herds of cattle, all the way to Jericho, thinking all the
while that it would be pleasant to lie out of hearing of all the silly
hurly-burly that we call life. But the hurly-burly would not be silly if
Jesus were by him, and he asked himself if Jesus was an illusion like
all the rest, and as soon as the pain the question provoked had died
away, his desire of a tomb took possession of him again, and it left him
no peace, but led him out of the house every evening, up a zigzagging
path along the hillside till he came to some rocks over against the
desert. I shall lie in quiet here till he calls me, on a couch embedded
in the wall and surmounted by an arch--but if he should prefer me to
rise out of an humble grave? That I may not know, only that the poorest
is not as unhappy as I, so I may as well have a tomb to my liking.

It was a long time since he had come to a resolve, and having come to
one at last, he was happier. And in more cheerful mood he decided that
now that the site was settled it would be well to seek information as to
which are the best workmen to employ on the job.

But for him whose thoughts run on death nothing is harder to settle than
where his bones shall lie; and next time he visited the hillside Joseph
came upon rocks facing eastward, and it seemed to him that the rays of
the rising sun should fall on his sepulchre; but a few days later,
coming out of his house in great disquiet, it seemed to him he would lie
happy if his tomb were visited every evening by the peaceful rays of the
setting sun, and he asked himself how many years of life he would have
to drag through before God released him from his prison. If he wished
to die he could, for our lives are in our own hands. But he did not know
that he cared to die and, overpowered with grief, he abandoned himself
to metaphysical speculation, asking himself again if it were not true
that to be born into this world meant to pass out of one life into
another; therefore, if so, to die in this world only meant to pass into
another, a life unknown to us, for all is unknown--nothing being fixed
or permanent. We cannot bathe twice in the same river, so Heraclitus
said, but we cannot bathe even once in the same river, he added; and to
carry the master's thought a stage further was a pleasure, if any moment
of his present life could be called pleasurable. He heard these sayings
first in Alexandria, and, looking towards Jerusalem, he tried to recall
the exact words of the sage regarding the futility of sacrifice. Our
priests try, said Heraclitus, to purify themselves with blood and we
admire them, but if a filthy man were to roll himself in the mud in the
hope of cleaning himself we should think he was mad. In some such wise
Heraclitus spoke, but it seemed to Joseph he had lost something of the
spirit of the saying in too profuse wording of it. As he sought for the
original epitome he heard his name called, and awaking from his
recollections of Alexandria he looked up and saw before him a young man
whom he remembered having seen at the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was his name;
and he remembered how the fellow had kept his eyes on him for one whole
evening, trying at various times to engage him in talk; an insistent
fellow who, despite rebuffs, had followed him into the street after the
meeting, and, refusing to be shaken off, had led the way so skilfully
that Joseph found himself at last on Nicodemus' doorstep and with no
option but to accept Nicodemus' invitation to enter. He did not like the
fellow, but not on account of his insistence; it was not his insistence
that had prejudiced him against him as much as the young man's
elaboration of raiment, his hairdressing above all; he wore curls on
either side that must have taken his barber a long while to prepare, and
he exhaled scents. He wore bracelets, and from his appearance Joseph had
not been able to refrain from imagining lascivious pictures on the walls
of his house and statues in the corners of the rooms--in a word, he
thought he had been persuaded to enter an ultra-Greek house.

In this he was, however, mistaken, and in the hour they spent together
his host's thoughts were much less occupied than Joseph expected them to
be with the jewels on his neck and his wrists, and the rich tassels on
his sash. He talked of many things, but his real thoughts were upon
arms; and he showed Joseph scimitars and daggers. Despite a long
discussion on the steel of Damascus, Joseph could not bring himself to
believe that Nicodemus' interests in heroic warfare were more than
intellectual caprice: and he regarded as entirely superficial Nicodemus'
attacks on the present-day Jews, whose sloth and indolence he reproved,
saying that they had left the heroic spirit brought out of Arabia with
their language, on the banks of the Euphrates. One hero, he admitted,
they had produced in modern times (Judas Maccabeus), and Joseph heard
for the first time that this great man always had addressed his soldiers
in Hebrew. All the same he did not believe that Nicodemus was serious in
his passionate demands for the Hebrew language, which had not been
spoken since the Jews emerged from the pastoral stage. We should do
well, Nicodemus said, to engage others to look to our flocks and herds,
so that we may have leisure to ponder the texts of Talmud, nor do I
hesitate to condemn my own class, the Sadducees, as the least worthy of
all; for we look upon the Temple as a means of wealth, despising the
poor people, who pay their half-shekel and bring their rams and their
goats and bullocks hither.

He could talk for a long time in this way, his eyes abstracted from
Joseph, fixed on the darkness of the room. While listening to him Joseph
had often asked himself if there were a real inspiration behind that
lean face, carven like a marble, with prominent nose and fading chin, or
if he were a mere buffoon.

He succeeded in provoking a casual curiosity in Joseph, but he had not
infected Joseph with any desire of his acquaintance; his visits to the
counting-house had not been returned. Yet this meeting on the hillside
was not altogether unwelcome, and Joseph, to his surprise, surveyed the
young man's ringlets and bracelets with consideration; he admired his
many weapons, and listened to him with interest. He talked well, telling
that the sword that hung from his thigh was from Damascus and
recommending a merchant to Joseph who could be trusted to discover as
fine a one for him. It was not wise to go about this lonely hillside
unarmed, and Joseph was moved to ask him to draw the sword from its
scabbard, which Nicodemus was only too glad to do, calling Joseph's
attention to the beautiful engraving on the blade, and to the hilt
studded with jewels. He drew a dagger from his jacket, a hardly less
costly weapon, and Joseph was too abashed to speak of his buckler on his
left arm and the spear that he held in his right hand. But, nothing
loath, Nicodemus bubbled into explanation. It was part of his project to
remind his fellow-countrymen that they too must arm themselves if they
ever wished to throw off the Roman yoke.

So long as the Romans substitute a Hebrew word or letter for the head of
Tiberius on the coin we pay the tribute willingly, he said as they
followed the crooked path through the rocks up the hillside towards
Joseph's house. And in reply to Joseph, who asked him if he believed in
the coming end of the world, he answered that he did, but he interpreted
the coming end of the world to mean the freeing of the people of Israel
from the Roman yoke, astonishing Joseph by the vigour of his reply; for
Joseph was not yet sure which was the truer part of this young man, the
ringlets and the bracelets or the shield and the spear.


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