The Brook Kerith
George Moore

Part 5 out of 8

and women love men for theirs; but even the lecher would choose rather
to meet a man in heaven, and the wanton another woman. If we would
discover whom we love most, we can do so by asking ourselves whom we
would choose to meet in heaven. Heaven without Jesus would not be heaven
for me. But if he be not the Messiah after all? Esora asked. Should I
love him less? he answered her. None is as perfect as he. I have known
him long, Esora, and can say truly that none is worthy to be the carpet
under his feet.

I have never spoken like this before, but I am glad to have spoken, for
now thou understandest how much thou hast done for me. Thou and thy
balsam and thy ministration. My balsam, she answered, has done better
than I expected it would do. Thou sawest his back this morning. One can
call it cured. His hands and feet have mended and his strength is
returning. In a few days he will be fit to travel. This is the third
time, Esora, that thou hast said he'll be able to travel soon--yet thou
sayest he is so patient and gentle that it is a pleasure to attend on
him; and an honour. But, Master, the danger is great, and every day
augments the danger. Secrets, as I've said, take a long time to leak
out, but they leak out in time. Her words are wise, he thought to
himself, and he overlooked her, guessing her to have shrunken to less
than her original size; she seemed but a handful of bones and yellow
skin, but when she looked up in his face her eyes were alive, and from
under a small bony forehead they pleaded, and with quavering voice she
said: let him go, dear Master, for if the Pharisees seek him here and
find him, he will hang again on the cross. Thou wouldst have me tell
him, Esora, that rumours are about that he did not die on the cross and
that a search may be made for him. I wouldn't have thee speak to him of
Pilate or his crucifixion, Master, for we don't know that he'd care to
look back upon his troubles; he might prefer to forget them as far as he
is able to forget them. But thou canst speak to him of his health,
Master, which increases every day, and of the benefit a change would be
to him. Speak to him if thou wouldst of a sea voyage, but speak not of
anything directly for fear of perplexing him. Lead rather than direct,
for his mind must be a sort of maze at present. A great deal has
befallen, and nothing exactly as he expected. Nor would I have thee
speak to him of anything but actual things; speak of what is before his
eyes as much as possible; not a word about yesterday or of to-morrow,
only so far as his departure is concerned. Keep his thoughts on actual
things, Master: on his health, for he feels that, and on the dogs about
his feet, for he sees them; he takes an interest in them; let him speak
to thee of them, which will be better still, and in your talk about dogs
many things will happen. The hills about Caesarea may be mentioned; see
that they are mentioned; ask him if they are like the hills above
Jericho. I cannot tell thee more, Master, but will pray that thou mayest
speak the right words.

A shrewd old thing, Joseph thought, as he went towards Jesus, looking
back once to see Esora disappearing into the wood. She'd have me keep
his thoughts on actual things, he continued, and seeing that Jesus had
called the puppies to him and was making himself their playmate, he
asked him if he were fond of dogs; whereupon Jesus began to praise the
bitch, saying she was of better breeding than her puppies, and that when
she came on heat again she should be sent to a pure Thracian like
herself. Joseph asked, not because he was interested in dog-breeding,
but to make talk, if the puppies were mongrels. Mongrels, Jesus
repeated, overlooking them; not altogether mongrels, three-quarter bred;
the dog that begot them was a mongrel, half Syrian, half Thracian. I've
seen worse dogs highly prized. Send the bitch to a dog of pure Thracian
stock and thou'lt get some puppies that will be the sort that I used to

Joseph waited, for he expected Jesus to speak of the Essenes and of the
time when he was their shepherd; but Jesus' thoughts seemed to have
wandered from dogs, and to bring them back to dogs again Joseph
interposed: thou wast then a shepherd? But Jesus did not seem to hear
him, and as he was about to repeat his question he remembered that Esora
told him to keep to the present time. We do not know, she said, that he
remembers, and if he has forgotten the effort to remember will fatigue
him, or it may be, she had added, that he wishes to keep his troubles
out of mind. A shrewd old thing, Joseph said to himself, and he sat by
Jesus considering how he might introduce the subject he had come to
speak to Jesus about, the necessity of his departure from Judea. But as
no natural or appropriate remark came into his mind to make, he sat like
one perplexed and frightened, not knowing how the silence that had
fallen would be broken. It is easy, he thought, for Esora to say, speak
only of present things, but it is hard to keep on speaking of things to
a man whose thoughts are always at ramble. But if I speak to him of his
health an occasion must occur to remind him that a change is desirable
after a long or a severe illness. It may have been that Joseph did not
set forth the subject adroitly; he made mention, however, of a
marvellous recovery, and as Jesus did not answer him he continued: Esora
thought that thou wouldst be able to get as far as the terrace in
another week, but thou'rt on the terrace to-day. Still Jesus did not
answer him, and feeling that nothing venture nothing win, he struck
boldly out into a sentence that change of air is the best medicine after
sickness. Jesus remaining still unresponsive, he added: sea air is
better than mountain air, and none as beneficial as the air that blows
about Caesarea.

The word Caesarea brought a change of expression into Jesus' face, and
Joseph, interpreting it to mean that Jesus was prejudiced against those
coasts, hastened to say that a sick man is often the best judge of the
air he needs. But, Joseph, I have none but thee, Jesus said; and the two
men sat looking into each other's eyes, Joseph thinking that if Jesus
were to recover his mind he would be outcast, as no man had ever been
before in the world: without a country, without kindred, without a
belief wherewith to cover himself; for nothing, Joseph said to himself
as he sat looking into Jesus' eyes, has happened as he thought it would;
and no man finds new thoughts and dreams whereby he may live. I did not
foresee this double nakedness, or else might have left him to die on the
cross. Will he, can he, forgive me? A moment afterwards he recovered
hope, for Jesus did not seem to know that the hills beyond the terrace
were the Judean hills, and then, as if forgetting the matter in hand
(his projected residence in Caesarea), he began to speak of Bethlehem,
saying he could not think of Bethlehem without thinking of Nazareth, a
remark that was obscure to Joseph, who did not know Nazareth. It was to
make some answer--for Jesus seemed to be waiting for him to answer--that
Joseph said: Nazareth is far from Caesarea, a remark that he soon
perceived to be unfortunate, for it awakened doubts in Jesus that he was
no longer welcome in Joseph's house. Why speakest thou of Caesarea to me?
he said. Is it because thou wouldst rid thyself of me? Whereupon Joseph
besought Jesus to lay aside the thought that he, Joseph, wished him
away. I would have thee with me always, deeming it a great honour; but
Esora has charge of thy health and has asked me to say that a change is

My health, Jesus interrupted. Am I not getting my strength quickly? do
not send me away, Joseph, for I am weak in body and in mind; let me stay
with thee a little longer; a few days; a few weeks. If I go to Caesarea I
must learn Greek, for that is the language spoken there, and thou'lt
teach me Greek, Joseph. Send me not away. But there is no thought of
sending thee away, Joseph answered; my house is thy house for as long as
thou carest to remain, and the words were spoken with such an accent of
truth that Jesus answered them with a look that went straight to
Joseph's heart; but while he rejoiced Jesus' mind seemed to float away:
he was absent from himself again, and Joseph had begun to think that all
that could be said that day had been said on the subject of his
departure from Judea, when a little memory began to be stirring in
Jesus, as Esora would say, like a wind in a field.

I remember thee, Joseph, as one to whom I did a great wrong, but what
that wrong was I have forgotten. Do not try to recall it, Joseph said to
him, no wrong was done, Jesus. Thou'rt the rich man's son, he said, and
what I remember concerning thee is thy horse, for he was handsomer than
any other. His name was Xerxes. Dost still ride him? Is he in the
stables of yon house? He was sold, Joseph answered, to pay for our
journey in Syria, and some of the price went to pay for thy cloak. The
cloak on my shoulders? Jesus asked. The cloak on thy shoulders is one of
my cloaks. Thou earnest here naked. I was carried here by an angel,
Jesus replied, for I felt the feathers of his wings brush across my
face. But why that strange look, Joseph?--those curious, inquisitive
eyes? It was an angel that carried me hither. No, Jesus, it was I that
carried thee out of the sepulchre up the crooked path. What is thy
purpose in saying that it was no angel but thou? Jesus asked; and
Joseph, remembering that he must not say anything that would vex Jesus,
regretted having contradicted him and tried to think how he might mend
his mistake with words that would soothe Jesus; but, as it often is on
such occasions, the more we seek for the right words the further we seem
to be from them, and Joseph did not know how he might plausibly unsay
his story that he had carried him without vexing Jesus still further: he
is sure an angel carried him, Joseph said: he felt the feathers of the
wings brush across his face, and he is now asking himself why I lied to

As Joseph was thinking that it might be well to say that Bethlehem was
like Nazareth, he caught sight of Jesus' face as pale as ashes, more
like a dead face than a living, and fearing that he was about to swoon
again or die, Joseph called loudly for Esora, who came running down the

Thou mustn't call for me so loudly, Master. If Matred had heard thee and
come running---- But, Esora, look. As likely as not it is no more than a
little faintness, she said. He has been overdoing it: running after
puppies, and talking with thee about Caesarea. But it was thyself told me
to ask him to go to Caesarea for change of air. Never mind, Master, what
I told thee. We must think now how we shall get him back to bed. Do thou
take one arm and I'll take the other.


Jesus did not speak about angels again, and one morning at the end of
the week before going away to Jerusalem to attend to some important
business Joseph, after a talk with Esora, turned down the alley with the
intention of asking Jesus to leave Judea. It would have been better, she
said to herself, if he had waited till evening; these things cannot be
settled off-hand; he'll only say the wrong thing again, and she stood
waiting at her kitchen door, hoping that Joseph would stop on his way
out to tell her Jesus' decision, but he went away without speaking, and
she began to think it unlikely that anything was decided. He is
soft-hearted and without much will of his own, she said.... Jesus is
going to stay with us, so we may all hang upon crosses yet, unless,
indeed, Master comes to hear something in Jerusalem that will bring him
round to my way of thinking. He believes, she continued, that Jesus is
forgotten because the apostles have returned to their fishing, but that
cannot be; the two young women that came here one Sunday morning with a
story about an empty sepulchre have found, I'll vouch, plenty of eager
gossips, and a smile floated round her old face at the additions she
heard to it yester morning at the gates. But no good would come of my
telling him, she meditated, for he'd only say it was my fancies, though
he has to acknowledge that I am always right when I speak out of what he
calls my fancies. In about three weeks, she muttered, the stories that
are going the round will begin to reach his ears.

The old woman's guess was a good one. It was about that time the
camel-drivers, assembled in the yard behind the counting-house, began to
tell that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and their stories, being
overheard by the clerk, were reported to Joseph. The Pharisees are angry
with Pilate for not having put a guard of soldiers over the tomb, the
clerk was saying, when Joseph interjected that a guard of soldiers would
be of no avail if God had wished to raise Jesus from the dead. The point
of their discourse, the clerk continued, is that no man but Jesus died
on the cross in three hours; three days, Sir, are mentioned as the usual
time. It is said that a man, Sir, often lingers on until the end of the
fourth day. Joseph remained, his thoughts suspended, and the clerk,
being a faithful servant, and anxious for Joseph's safety, asked if he
might speak a word of counsel, and reading on Joseph's face that he was
permitted to speak, he said: I would have you make an end of these
rumours, Sir, and this can be done if you will attend the next meeting
of the Sanhedrin and make plain your reason for having gone to Pilate to
ask him for the body. As it seemed to Joseph that his clerk had spoken
well, he attended the next meeting of the Council, but the business that
the councillors had come together for did not admit of interruption for
the sake of personal explanation, however interesting, and the hostility
of everybody to him was notable from the first. Only a few personal
friends spoke to him; among them was Nicodemus, who would not be
dismissed, but went away with him at the close of the meeting,
beseeching him not to cross the valley unarmed, and if thou wouldst not
draw attention to thyself by the purchase of arms, he said, I will give
thee the arms thou needest for thyself and will arm some camel-drivers
for thee. I thank thee, Nicodemus, but if I were to return home
accompanied by three or four armed camel-drivers I should draw the
attention of Jerusalem upon me, thereby quickening the anger of the
Pharisees, and my death would be resolved upon. But art thou sure that
the hirelings of the priests haven't been told to kill thee? Nicodemus
asked. Pilate's friendship for me is notorious, Joseph replied. I'm not
afraid, Nicodemus, and it is well for me that I'm not, for assassination
comes to the timorous. That is true, Nicodemus rejoined, our fears often
bring about our destiny, but thou shouldst avoid returning by the
valley; return by the eastern gate and on horseback. But that way,
Joseph answered, is a lonely and long one, and thinking it better to put
a bold face on the matter, though his heart was beating, he began to
speak scornfully of the Pharisees who, seemingly, would have consented
to a desecration of the Sabbath. He had done no more than any other Jew
who did not wish the Sabbath to be desecrated, and remembering suddenly
that Nicodemus would repeat everything he said, he spoke again of
Pilate's friendship, and the swift vengeance that would follow his
murder. Pilate is my friend, and whoever kills me makes sure of his own
death. I do not doubt that what thou sayest is true, Joseph, but Pilate
may be recalled, and it may suit the next Roman to let the priests have
their way. I am going to Egypt to-morrow, he said suddenly. To Egypt,
Joseph repeated, and memories awoke in him of the months he spent in
Alexandria, of the friends he left there, of the Greek that he had taken
so much trouble to perfect himself in, and the various philosophies
which he thought enlarged his mind, though he pinned his faith to none;
and reading in his face the pleasure given by the word Egypt, Nicodemus
pressed him to come with him: all those who are suspected of sympathy
with Jesus, he said, will do well to leave Judea for a year at least.
Alexandria, as thou knowest, having lived there, is friendly to
intellectual dispute. In Alexandria men live in a kingdom that belongs
neither to Caesar nor to God. But all things belong to God, Joseph
replied. Yes, answered Nicodemus; but God sets no limits to the mind,
but priests do in the name of God. Remember Egypt, where thou'lt find
me, and glad to see thee....

On these words the men parted, and Joseph descended into the valley a
little puzzled, for the traditionalism of Nicodemus seemed to have
undergone a change. But more important than any change that may have
happened in Nicodemus' mind was the journey to Egypt, that he had
proposed to Joseph. Joseph would like to go to Egypt, taking Jesus with
him, and as he walked he beheld in imagination Jesus disputing in the
schools of philosophy, but if he were to go away to Egypt the promise to
his father would be broken fully. If his father were to fall ill he
might die before the tidings of his father's illness could reach him; a
year's residence in Egypt was, therefore, forbidden to him; on the top
of the Mount of Olives he stopped, so that he might remember that
Nicodemus' disposition was always to hear the clashing of swords; spears
are always glittering in his eyes for one reason or another, he said,
and though he would regret a friend's death, he would regard it as being
atoned for if the brawl were sufficiently violent. He has gone to Egypt,
no doubt, because it is pleasing to him to believe his life to be in
danger. He invents reasons. Pilate's recall! Now what put that into his
mind? He may be right, but this Mount of Olives is peaceful enough and
the road beyond leading to my house seems safe to the wayfarer even at
this hour. He followed the road in a quieter mood, and it befell that
Esora opened the gates to him, for which he thanked her abruptly and
turned away, wishing to be alone; but seeing how overcast was his face,
she did not return to her kitchen as she had intended, but remained with
him, anxious to learn if the rumours she knew to be current had reached
his ears. She would not be shaken off by silence, but followed him down
the alley leading to Jesus' cottage, answering silence by silence,
certain in this way to provoke him thereby into confidences. They had
not proceeded far into the wood before they came upon Jesus in front of
a heap of dead leaves that he had raked together. A great many had
fallen, he said, and the place was beginning to look untidy, so I
thought I would gather them for burning. Thou must not tire thyself,
Joseph answered, as he passed on with Esora, asking her as they went
through the autumn woods if Jesus found the rake for himself or if she
gave it to him. He asked me if he might be allowed to feed the chickens,
she said, and I would have let him if Matred's window did not overlook
the yard. Master, the hope of getting him out of Judea rests upon the
chance that he may recover his mind, and staring at the desert all day
won't help him. He musn't brood, and as there is no work like raking up
leaves to keep a man's thought off himself, unless, indeed, it be
digging, I thought I had better let him have the rake. But if Matred
should meet him? Joseph asked. She will see the new gardener in him,
that will be all. I told her last night, Esora continued, that we were
expecting the new gardener, and she said it would be pleasant to have a
man about the house again. But he musn't attempt any hard work like
digging yet awhile; he has done enough to-day; I'll go and tell him to
put away the rake and pass on to his supper. She waited for Joseph to
answer, but he was in no humour for speech, and she left him looking at
the hills.

A cloud lifts, and we are; another cloud descends, and we are not; so
much do we know, but we are without sufficient sight to discover the
reason behind all this shaping and reshaping, for like all else we
ourselves are changing as Heraclitus said many years ago.

And while thinking of this philosopher, whose wisdom he felt to be more
satisfying than any other, he paced back and forth, seeking a little
while longer to untie the knot that all men seek to untie, abandoning at
last, saying: fate tied it securely before the beginning of history, and
on these words he ran up the steps of his house, pausing on the
threshold to listen, for he could distinguish Esora's voice, and
Matred's; afterwards he heard Jesus' voice, and he said: Jesus eats with
my servants in the kitchen! This cannot be, and he very nearly obeyed
the impulse of the moment, which was to call Jesus and tell him to come
and eat his supper with him. To do this, however, would draw Matred's
attention to the fact that Jesus was not of her company but of her
master's, and distinctions between servants and master, he continued,
are not for him, who thinks in eternal terms.

He sat at table, his thoughts suspended, but awakening suddenly from a
reverie, of which he remembered nothing, he rose from his seat and went
to the kitchen door, regretting that he was not with Jesus, for to miss
his words, however slight they might be, seemed to him to be a loss that
could not be repaired. They are listening to him, he said, with the same
pleasure that I used to do, watching his eyes lighting his words on
their way.

At that moment a shuffling of feet sent him back to his seat again, and
he put food into his mouth just in time to escape suspicion of
eavesdropping. I thought, Master, that thy supper was finished, and that
I might take away the plates. I've hardly begun my supper, Esora. Your
voices in the kitchen prevented me from eating. We are sorry for that,
Master, she replied. Make no excuses, Esora. I said it was the voices in
the kitchen that disturbed me, but in truth it was my own thoughts, for
I have heard many things to-day in Jerusalem. Esora's face brightened
and she said to herself: my words to him are coming true. Sit here,
Esora, and I'll tell thee what I've heard to-day. And while Matred
listened to Jesus in the kitchen Esora heard from Joseph that the
camel-drivers had been talking of the resurrection in the yard behind
the counting-house, and that his clerk's advice to him had been to
attend the Sanhedrin, and make plain that his reason for going to Pilate
to ask for the body of Jesus was because he did not wish a desecration
of the Sabbath. But he had only met a show of dark faces, and left the
meeting in company with Nicodemus. Esora, is our danger as great as this
young man says it is? Master, I have always told thee that as soon as
Jesus leaves Judea he will be safe from violence, from death, and we
shall be safe too, but not till then. But how are we to persuade him to
leave Judea, Esora? Thou must try, Master, to persuade him, there is no
other way. He is talking now with Matred in the kitchen. Ask him to come
here, and thou'lt see, Esora, the sad face that uplifts when I speak to
him of Caesarea. I'll speak for thee, Master, she answered, and going to
the door she called Jesus to them, and when he stood before them she
said: have I not proved a good physician to thee? To-day thy back gives
thee no trouble. Only aching a bit, he answered, from stooping, but
that will pass away. And my balsam having cured thy feet and hands is it
not right that I should take a pride in thee? And, smiling, Jesus
answered: had I voice enough I would call the virtue of thy balsam all
over the world. My balsam has done well with thee, but a change is
needed to restore thee to thyself, and seeing a cloud come into his
face, she continued: we weren't talking of sending thee to Caesarea, for
it is of little use to send a man in search of health whither he is not
minded to go. Our talk was not of Caesarea. But of what city then? Jesus
asked, and Esora began to speak of Alexandria, and Joseph, thinking that
she repeated indifferently all that she had heard of that city from him,
interrupted her and began to discourse about the several schools of
philosophy and his eagerness to hear Jesus among the sages. But why
should thy philosophers listen to me? Jesus asked. Because thou'rt wise.
No man, he replied, is wise but he who would learn, and none is foolish
but he who would teach. If there are learners there must be teachers,
Joseph said, and he awaited Jesus' answer eagerly, but Esora, fearing
their project would be lost sight of in argument, broke in, saying:
neither teaching nor learning avails, but thy health, Jesus, and
to-morrow a caravan starts for Egypt, and we would know if thou'lt join
it, for one whom thou knowest goes with it, a friend, one Nicodemus, a
disciple, whose love for thee is equal to my master's.

Jesus' face darkened, but he said nothing, and Esora asked him if he did
not care to travel with Nicodemus, and he answered that if he went to
Egypt he would like to go with Joseph. But my master has business here,
and may not leave it easily. Is this so, Joseph? Jesus asked, and Joseph
answered: it is true that I have business here, but there are other
reasons, and weightier ones than the one Esora has put before thee, why
I may not leave Jerusalem and go to live in Egypt. But wouldst thou have
me go to Egypt with Nicodemus, Joseph? Jesus asked, and Joseph could not
do else than say that the companion he would choose would not be one
whose tongue was always at babble. But wilt thou go to Egypt, he asked,
if I tell thee that it is for thy safety and for ours that we propose
this voyage to thee? And Jesus answered: be it so.

Then, Jesus, we'll make plans together, Esora and myself, for thy
departure; and having thanked him, Jesus returned to Matred in the
kitchen, and they could hear him talking with her while they debated,
and as soon as the kitchen door closed Joseph told Esora that he could
not break the promise he gave to his father, and it was this very
promise that she strove to persuade him to forgo. For it is the only
way, she said, and he, agreeing with her, said: though I have promised
my father not to keep the company of Jesus, it seems to me that I should
be negligent in my duty towards Jesus if I did not go with him to Egypt;
and Esora said: that is well said, Master, and now we will go to our
beds. God often counsels us in sleep and warns us against hasty

And it was as he expected it would be: he was that night disturbed by a
dream in which his father appeared to him wearing a distressful face,
saying: I have a blessing that I would give to thee. There were more
words than this, but Joseph could not remember them; but the words he
did remember seemed to him a warning that he must not leave Judea; and
Jesus was of one mind with him when he heard them related on the
terrace. A son, he said, must be always obedient to his father, and love
him before other men.

Whereupon Esora, who was standing by when these words were spoken, was
much moved, for she, too, believed in dreams and their interpretation,
and she could put no other interpretation upon Joseph's dream than that
he was forbidden to go to Egypt. But Joseph might write, she said, to
some of his friends in Egypt, and they could send a friend, if they
wished it, who would meet Jesus at Jericho; and this plan was in dispute
till all interest in Egypt faded from their minds, and they began to
talk of other countries and cities; of Athens and Corinth we were
talking, Joseph said to Esora, who had come into the room, and of India,
of Judea. But if Jesus were to go to India we should never see him
again, she answered. It is thy good pleasure, Master, to arrange the
journey, and when it is arranged to thy satisfaction thou'lt tell me,
though I do not know why thou shouldst consult me again. I came to tell
thee that one of thy camel-drivers has come with the news that the
departure of the caravan for Egypt has been advanced by two days. But if
thou'rt thinking of Egypt no longer I may send him away. Tell him to
return to the counting-house, and that there is no order for to-day,
Joseph replied. You will settle the journey between you, Esora said,
turning back on her way to the kitchen to speak once more. She would
have me go, Jesus said. Put that thought out of thy mind, Joseph replied
quickly, for it is not a true thought. Thou shouldst have guessed
better; it is well that thou goest, but we must find the country and the
city that is agreeable to thee, and that will be discovered in our talk
in the next few days, to which Jesus answered nothing; and at the end of
the next few days, though much had been said, it seemed to Joseph that
Jesus' departure was as far away as ever. It has become, he said to
Esora, a little dim. I know nothing, he continued, of Jesus' mind.

On these words he went to his counting-house distracted and sad,
expecting to hear from his clerk that the story of Jesus' resurrection
was beginning to be forgotten in Jerusalem, but the clerk knew nothing
more, and was eager to speak on another matter. Pilate had sent
soldiers to prevent a multitude from assembling at the holy mountain,
Gerezim, for the purpose of searching for some sacred vessels hidden
there by Moses, so it was said. Many had been slain in the riot, and the
Samaritans had made representations to Vitellius, artfully worded, the
clerk said, and dangerous to Pilate, for Vitellius had a friend whom he
would like to put in Pilate's place. Joseph sat thinking that it was not
at all unlikely he was about to lose his friend and protector, and the
clerk, seeing his master troubled, dropped in the words: nothing has
been settled yet. Joseph gave no heed, and a few days afterwards a
messenger came from the Praetorium to tell Joseph that Pilate wished to
see him. We shall not meet again, Joseph, unless you come to Rome, and
you must come quickly to see me there, for my health is declining. We
have been friends, such friends as may rarely consist with Roman and
Hebrew, he said, and the words stirred up a great grief in Joseph's
heart, and when he returned that evening to his house he was overcome by
the evil tidings, but he did not convey them to Esora that evening, nor
the next day, nor the day afterwards, and they becoming such a great
torment in his heart he did not care to go to his counting-house, but
remained waiting in his own rooms, or walking in the garden, startled by
every noise and by every shadow.

Day passed over day, and it was one of the providers that came to the
gates that brought the news of Pilate's departure to Esora, and when she
had gotten it she came to Joseph, saying: so your friend Pilate has been
ordered to Rome? He has, indeed, Joseph answered, overcome by the
intrigues of the Samaritans, who sought to assemble together, not so
much to discover sacred vessels as to bring about a change of
government. We are beset with danger, Esora, for it has come to my mind
that the stories about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth may be
kindled again, and it will not be difficult to incite the priests
against me; everybody is saying that I was the last man to see Jesus,
and must know where his body is hidden; that is enough for the priests,
and they will send up a band of Zealots to seek him in this garden.
There is no place here where we can hide him from them. That is why I
haven't been to my counting-house for three days, fearing to leave thee
and Matred alone with him, for they would surely choose the time when I
was away in Jerusalem to plunder my house. As he was saying these things
Matred came into the room with some wood for the fire, but before
throwing the logs on the hearth that Jesus carried up she looked at
them, and it seemed to Joseph her eyes were full of suspicion, and as
soon as she left the room he said: now why did she bring the logs into
the room while we were talking of Jesus, and why did she mention that he
carried them up this afternoon, having felled a dead tree this morning?

Esora tried to persuade him that his fears were imaginary, but she too
feared that Matred might begin to suspect that Jesus was no ordinary
gardener; she had said, ye speak strangely in Galilee, and to kindle the
story again it would only be necessary for somebody to come up to the
gates and ask her if one, Jesus, a Galilean, was known to her, one that
Pilate condemned to the cross. Her answer would be: there is one here
called Jesus, he is a Galilean, and may have been on the cross for aught
I know. And such answer would be carried back to the priests, who would
order their hirelings to make a search for Jesus, and the master and
servant often sat of an evening listening to the wind in the chimney,
thinking it was warning them of the raid of the Jews. If a tree fell it
was an omen, and they related their dreams to each other in the alleys
of the gardens, till it occurred to them that to be seen in long
converse together would awaken Matred's suspicion. The shutters were put
up and they sat in the dark afraid to speak lest the walls had ears.

Esora, who was the braver of the two, often said, Master, strive to
quell thy fears, for the new procurator has given pause to the story of
the resurrection. We have heard little of it lately, and Jesus is
beginning to be forgotten. Not so, Esora, for to-day I heard--and Joseph
began a long relation which ended always with the phrase: we are beset
with danger. We have been saying that now for a long while, Esora
answered, yet nothing has befallen us yet, and what cannot be cured must
be endured. We must bear with him. If, Esora, I could bring myself to
break all promises to my father and go away with him to Egypt this
misery would be ended. Master, thou canst not do this thing; thou hast
been thinking of it all the winter, and were it possible it would be
accomplished already. If it hadn't been for that dream--and Joseph began
to relate again the dream related many times before. Forget thy dream,
Master, Esora said to him, for it will not help us; as I have said, what
cannot be cured must be endured. We must put our trust in time, which
brings many changes; and in the spring something will befall; he'll be
taken from us. The spring, Esora? And in safety? Tell me, and in safety?
Nay, Master, I cannot tell thee more than I have said; something will
befall, but what that thing may be I cannot say. Will it be in the
winter or in the spring? It will be in February or March, she said. It
was, however, before then, in January (the winter being a mild one, the
birds were already singing in the shaws), that a camel-driver came to
the house on the hillside to tell Joseph that a camel had been stolen
from them on their way from Jericho to Jerusalem during the night or in
the early morning, and with many words and movements of the hands, that
irritated Joseph, he sought to describe the valley where they pitched
their tent. Get on with thy story, Joseph said; and the man told that
they had succeeded in tracking the band, a small one, to a cave, out of
which, he said, it will be easy to smoke them if Fadus, the procurator,
will send soldiers at once, for they may go on to another cave, not
deeming it safe to remain long in the same one. Didst beg the camel
back from the robbers? Joseph asked, for he was not thinking of the
robbery, but of his meeting with Fadus. No, Master, there was no use
doing that. They would have taken our lives. But we followed them,
spying them from behind rocks all the way, and the cave having but one
entrance they can be smoked to death with a few trusses of damp straw.
But care must be taken lest our camel perish with them. If we could get
them to give up the camel first, I'm thinking--

It was a serious matter to hear that robbers had again established
themselves in the hills; and while Joseph pondered the disagreeable
tidings a vagrant breeze carried the scent of the camel-driver's
sheepskin straight into Jesus' nostrils as he came up the path with a
bundle of faggots on his shoulders. He stopped at first perplexed by the
smell and then, recognising it, he hurried forward, till he stood before
the spare frame and withered brown face of the desert wanderer.

Joseph looked on puzzled, for Jesus stood like one in ecstatic vision
and began to put questions to the camel-driver regarding the quality of
the sheep the shepherds led, asking if the rams speeded, if there were
many barren ewes in the flock, and if there was as much scab about as
formerly, questions that one shepherd might put to another, but which
seemed strangely out of keeping with a gardener's interests.

The camel-driver answered Jesus' question as well as he was able, and
then, guessing a former shepherd in the gardener, he asked if Jesus had
ever led a flock. Joseph tried to interrupt, but the interruption came
too late; Jesus blurted out that for many years he was a shepherd. And
who was thy master? the camel-driver asked; Jesus answered that he was
in those days an Essene living in the great settlement on the eastern
bank of Jordan. Whereupon the camel-driver began to relate that Brother
Amos was not doing well with the sheep and that some of the brethren
were gone to the Brook Kerith and had taken possession of a cave in the
rocks above it. The camel-driver was about to begin to make plain this
Amos' misunderstanding of sheep, but Jesus interrupted him. Who may
their president be? he asked; and with head bent, scratching his poll,
the camel-driver said at last that he thought it was Hazael. Hazael!
Jesus answered, and forthwith his interest in the camel-driver began to
slacken. The anemone is on the hills to-day, he said, and Joseph looked
at him reproachfully; his eyes seemed to say: hast forgotten so easily
the danger we passed through by keeping thee here, counting it as
nothing, so great was our love of thee?--and Jesus answering that look
replied: but, Joseph, how often didst thou speak to me of Caesarea,
Alexandria, Athens, and other cities. Esora, too, was anxious that I
should leave Judea ... for my sake as well as yours. India was spoken
of, but the Brook Kerith is not twenty odd miles from here and I shall
be safe among the brethren. Why this silence, Joseph? and whence comes
this change of mood? Jesus asked, and Joseph began to speak of the
parting that awaited them. But there'll be no parting, Jesus interposed.
Thou'lt ride thy ass out to meet me, and we shall learn to know each
other, for thou knowest nothing of me yet, Joseph. Thou'lt bring a loaf
of bread and a flagon of wine in thy wallet, and we shall share it
together. I shall wait for thy coming on the hillside. Even so, Jesus, I
am sad that our life here among the trees in this garden should have
come to an end. We were frightened many times, but what we suffered is
now forgotten. The pleasure of having thee with us alone is remembered.
But it is true we have been estranged here. May we start to-night? Jesus
asked, and Joseph said: if a man be minded to leave, it is better that
he should leave at once.


An hour later, about two hours before midnight, they were riding into
the desert, lighted by a late moon and incommoded by two puppies that
Jesus could not be dissuaded from bringing with him: for if Brother Amos
give up his flock to me, he argued, I shall need dogs. But Brother Amos
will give thee his dogs, Joseph said. A shepherd, Jesus answered, cannot
work with any dogs but his own. But what has become of the dogs that
were left behind? Joseph asked, and not being able to tell him, Jesus
fell to wondering how it was he had forgotten his dogs. At that moment
one of the puppies cried to be let down: see how well he follows, Jesus
said, but hardly were the words past his lips than the puppy turned
tail, and Jesus had to chase him very nearly back to Bethany before he
allowed himself to be overtaken and picked up again. The way is long,
Joseph cried, more than seven hours to the city of Jericho, and if these
chases happen again we shall be overtaken by the daylight. One of my
caravans starts from Jericho at dawn; and if we meet it I shall have my
camel-drivers round me asking pertinent questions and may be compelled
to return with them to Jericho. Come, Jesus, thine ass seems willing to
amble down this long incline; and dropping the reins over the animal's
withers, and leaning back, holding a puppy under each arm, Jesus allowed
the large brown ass he was riding to trot; it was not long before he
left far behind the heavy weighted white ass, which carried Joseph.

Now seeing the distance lengthening out between them Joseph was tempted
to cry to Jesus to stop, but dared not, lest he might awaken robbers
(their strongholds having lately been raided by soldiers), and he had in
mind the fugitives that might be lurking in the hills, so instead of
crying to Jesus to hold hard, he urged his ass forward. But the best
speed he could make was not sufficient to overtake the nimbly trotting
brown ass, and the pursuit might have been continued into Jericho if
Jesus had not been suddenly behoven by the silence to stop and wait for
Joseph to overtake him, which he did in about ten minutes, whispering:
ride not so fast, robbers may be watching for travellers. Not at this
hour, Jesus replied; and he prepared to ride on. This time one of the
puppies succeeded in getting away and might have run back again to
Bethany had not Joseph leapt from his ass and driven him back to Jesus
with loud cries that the ravines repeated again and again. If there were
robbers asleep, thy cries would awaken them. True, true, Joseph replied;
I forgot; and he vowed he would not utter another word till they passed
a certain part of the road, advantageous, he said, to robbers. No
better spot between Jerusalem and Jericho for murder and robbery, he
continued: cast thine eyes down into the ravine into which he could
throw us. But if a robber should fall upon me do not stay to defend me;
ride swiftly to the inn for help, and, despite the danger, Joseph rode
in front of Jesus, sustained by the hope that the good fortune that
attended him so far would attend him to the end. And they rode on
through the grey moonlight till a wolf howled in the distance. Joseph
bent over and whispered in Jesus' ear: hold thy puppies close to thy
bosom, Jesus, for if one be dropped and start running back to Bethany he
will be overtaken easily by that wolf and thou'lt never hear of him
again. Jesus held the puppies tighter, but there was no need to do so,
for they seemed to know that the howl was not of their kin. The wolf
howled again, and was answered by another wolf. The twain have missed
our trail, Joseph said, and had there been more we might have had to
abandon our asses. If we hasten we shall reach the inn without
molestation from robbers or wolves. How far are we from the inn, Jesus?
About two hours, Jesus answered, and Joseph fell to gazing on the hills,
trying to remember them, but unable to do so, so transformed were they
in the haze of the moonlight beyond their natural seeming. They
attracted him strangely, the hills, dim, shadowy, phantasmal, rising out
of their loneliness towards the bright sky, a white cliff showing
sometimes through the greyness; the shadow of a rock falling sometimes
across a track faintly seen winding round the hills, every hill being,
as it were, a stage in the ascent.

As the hills fell back behind the wayfarers the inn began to take shape
in the pearl-coloured haze, and the day Joseph rested for the first time
in this inn rose up in his memory with the long-forgotten wanderers whom
he had succoured on the occasion: the wizened woman in her black rags
and the wizened child in hers. They came up from the great desert and
for the last fifteen days had only a little camel's milk, so they had
said, and like rats they huddled together to eat the figs he

He had seen the inn many times since then and the thought came into his
mind that he would never see it again. But men are always haunted by
thoughts of an impending fate, he said to himself, which never befalls.
But it has befallen mine ass to tire under my weight, he cried. He must
be very tired, Jesus answered, for mine is tired, and I've not much more
than half thy weight; and the puppies are tired, tired of running
alongside of the asses, and tired of being carried, and ourselves are
tired and thirsty; shall we knock at the door and cry to the innkeeper
that he rouse out of his bed and give us milk for the puppies if he have
any? I wouldn't have him know that I journeyed hither with thee, Joseph
replied, for stories are soon set rolling. Esora has put a bottle of
water into the wallet; the puppies will have to lap a little. We can
spare them a little though we are thirstier than they. She had put bread
and figs into the wallet, so they were not as badly off as they thought
for; and eating and drinking and talking to the puppies and feeding them
the while, the twain stood looking through the blue, limpid, Syrian

At the end of a long silence Jesus said: the dawn begins; look, Joseph,
the stars are not shining as brightly over the Jericho hills as they
were. But Joseph could not see that the stars were dimmer. Are they not
with-drawing? Jesus asked, and then, forgetful of the stars, his
thoughts went to the puppies: see how they crouch and tremble under the
wall of the garth, he said. There must be a wolf about, he said, and
after he had thrown a stone to hasten the animal's departure he began to
talk to the puppies, telling them they need have no fear of wolves, for
when they were full-grown and were taught by him they would not hold on
but snap and snap again. That is how the Thracian dogs fight, like the
wolves, he said, turning to Joseph. He is thinking, Joseph said to
himself, of sheep and dogs and being a shepherd again. But of-what art
thou thinking, Joseph?--of that strip of green sky which is the dawn? I
can see, now, that thy shepherd eyes did not deceive thee, Joseph
answered. The day begins again; and how wonderful is the return of the
day, hill after hill rising out of the shadow. An old land, he said,
like the end of the world. Why like the end of the world? Jesus asked.
Joseph had spoken casually; he regretted the remark, and while he sought
for words that would explain it away a train of camels came through the
dusk rocking up the hillside, swinging long necks, one bearing on its
back what looked like a gigantic bird. A strange burden, Joseph said,
and what it may be I cannot say, but the camels are my camels, and thou
art safe out of sight under the wall of this garth.

A moment after the word that the master had bidden a halt was passed up
the line, and one of the camel-drivers said: she stopped half-an-hour
ago to drop her young one, and we put him on the dam's back, and she
doesn't feel his weight. We shall rest for an hour between this and
Jerusalem, and when we lift him down he'll find the dug. But I've a
letter for you, Master, from Gaddi, who wishes to see you. I thought to
deliver it in Jerusalem. It was fortunate to meet you here. Gaddi will
see you half-a-day sooner than he hoped for. I shall get to him by
midday, Joseph said, raising his eyes from the letter. By midday,
Master? Why, in early morning I should have thought for, unless, indeed,
you bide here till the innkeeper opens his doors. I have business,
Joseph answered, with the Essenes that have settled in a cave above the
Brook Kerith. About whom, the camel-driver interjected, there be much
talk going in Jericho. They've disputed among themselves, some remaining
where they always were on the eastern bank of the Jordan, but ten or a
dozen going to the Brook Kerith, with Hazael for their president. And
for what reason? Joseph inquired. I have told you, Master, all I know,
and since you be going to the Brook Kerith the brethren themselves will
give reasons better than I can, even if I had heard what their reasons
be for differing among themselves. Whereupon Joseph bade his caravan
proceed onward to Jerusalem.

We shall be surprised here by the daylight if we delay any longer, he
said, returning to Jesus, and, mounting their asses, they rode down the
hillside into a long, shallow valley out of which the track rose upwards
and upwards penetrating into the hills above Jericho.


Now it is here we leave the track, Jesus said, and he turned his ass
into a little path leading down a steeply shelving hillside. We shall
find the brethren coming back from the hills, if they aren't back
already. It is daylight on the hills though it is night still in this
valley; and looking up they saw a greenish moon in the middle of a
mottled sky of pink and grey. Over the face of the moon wisps of vapour
curled and went out: and the asses, Joseph said, are loath to descend
the hillside for fear of this strange moon, or it may be they are
frightened by the babble of this brook; it seems to rise out of the very
centre of the earth. How deep is the gorge? Very deep, Jesus answered;
many hundred feet. But the asses don't fear precipices, and if ours are
unwilling to descend the hillside it is because the paths do not seem
likely to lead to a stable; so would I account for their obstinacy. I'll
not ride down so steep a descent, and Joseph slipped from his ass's
back; and, rid of his load, the ass tried to escape, but Jesus managed
to turn him back to Joseph, who seized the bridle. Dismount, Jesus, he
cried, for the path is narrow, and to please him Jesus dismounted, and,
driving their animals in front of them, they ventured on to a sort of

It passed under rocks and between rocks to the very brink of the
precipice as it descended towards the bridge that spanned the brook some
hundreds of feet lower down. Already our asses scent a stable, Jesus
said; he called after them to stop, and the obedient animals stopped and
began to seek among the stones for a tuft of grass or a bramble. I see
no place here for a hermitage, Joseph said, only roosts for choughs and
crows. There have been hermits here always, Jesus answered. We shall
pass the ruins of ancient hermitages farther down on this side above the
bridge. The bridge was built by hermits who came from India, Jesus said.
And was destroyed, Joseph interjected, by the Romans, so that they might
capture the robbers that infested the caves. But the Essenes must have
repaired the bridge lately, Jesus replied, and he asked Joseph how long
the Essenes had been at the Brook Kerith. My camel-driver did not say,
Joseph answered, and Jesus pointed to the ledge that the Essenes must
have chosen for a dwelling: it cannot be else, he said; there is no
other ledge large enough to build upon in the ravine; and behind the
ledge thou seest up yonder is the large cave whither the ravens came to
feed Elijah. If the brethren are anywhere they are on that ledge, in
that cave, and he asked Joseph if his eyes could not follow the building
of a balcony: thine eyes cannot fail to see it, for it is plain to mine.
Joseph said he thought he could discern the balcony. But how do we reach
it? We aren't angels, he said. We shall ascend, Jesus answered, by a
path going back and forth, through many terraces. Lead on, Joseph
answered. But stay, let us admire the bridge they have built and the
pepper-trees that border it. I am glad the Romans spared the trees, for
men that live in this solitude deserve the beauty of these pepper-trees.
Jesus said: yonder is the path leading to the source of the brook;
fledged at this season with green reeds and rushes. They have built a
mill I see! turned by the brook and fed, no doubt, by the wheat thy
camels bring from Moab. But the Essenes seem late at work this morning.

As he spoke these words an old man appeared on the balcony, and Joseph
said: that must be Hazael, but his beard has gone very white. It is
Hazael, our president, Jesus answered. Let us go to him at once, and
still driving the asses in front of them and carrying the puppies in
their arms they worked their way up through the many terraces; not one
is more than three feet wide, yet in every one are fig-trees, Jesus
remarked, and there seem to be vines everywhere, for though the Essenes
drink no wine, they sell their grapes to be eaten or to be turned into
wine, Joseph. Our rule is not to kill, but we sell our sheep, and alas!
some go to the Temple and are offered in sacrifice. I used to weep for
my sheep, he muttered, but in this world----

The steep ascent checked further speech, and they walked to the east and
then to the west, back and forth, fifty little journeys taking them up
to the cenoby. The great door was opened to them at once, and Hazael
came forward to meet them, giving his left hand to Joseph and his right
to Jesus, whom he drew to his bosom. So, my dear Jesus, thou hast come
back to us, Hazael said, and he looked into Jesus' face inquiringly,
learning from it that it would not be well to ask Jesus for the story of
what had befallen him during the last three years; and Joseph gave
thanks that Hazael was possessed of a mind that saw into recesses and
appreciated fine shades.

We are glad to have thee back again, Jesus; and thou hast come to stay,
and perhaps to take charge of our flock again, which needs thy guidance.
How so? Jesus asked. Hasn't the flock prospered under Brother Amos? Ah!
that is a long story, Hazael answered. We'll tell it thee when the time
comes. But thou hast brought dogs with thee, and of the breed that our
shepherds are always seeking.

It was thus that Jesus and Hazael began to talk to each other, leaving
Joseph to admire the vaulting of the long dwelling, and to wander out
through the embrasure on to the balcony, from whence he could see the
Essenes going to their work along the terraces. Among the ruins of the
hermitage on the opposite side above the bridge, a brother fondled a pet
lamb while he read. He is one, Joseph said to himself, that has found
the society of this cenoby too numerous for him, so he retired to a
ruin, hoping to draw himself nearer to God. But even he must have a
living thing by him; and then, his thoughts changing, he fell to
thinking of the day when he would ride out to meet Jesus among the
hills. His happiness was so intense in the prospect that he delighted in
all he saw and heard: in the flight of doves that had just left their
cotes and were flying now across the gorge, and in the soothing chant of
the water rising out of the dusk.

Jesus had told him that the gorge was never without water. The spring
that fed it rose out of the earth as by enchantment. Hazael's voice
interrupted his reveries: would you like, Sir, to visit our house? he
asked, and he threw open the door and showed a great room, common to
all. On either side of it, he said, are cells, six on one side, four on
the other, and into these cells the brethren retire after breaking
bread, and it is in this domed gallery we sit at food. But Jesus has
spoken to thee of these things, for though we do not speak to strangers
of our rule of life, Jesus would not have transgressed in speaking of it
to thee. Joseph asked for news of Banu, and was sorry to hear that he
had been killed and partially eaten by a lion.

The tidings seemed to affect Jesus strangely; he covered his face with
his hands, and Hazael repented having spoken of Banu, guessing that the
hermit's death carried Jesus' thoughts into a past time that he would
shut out for ever from his mind. He atoned, however, for his mistake by
an easy transition which carried their discourse into an explanation of
the dissidence that had arisen among the brethren, and which, he said,
compelled us to come hither. The Essenes are celibates, and it used to
be my duty to go in search of young men whom I might judge to be well
disposed towards God, and to bring them hither with me so that they
might see what our life is, and, discovering themselves to be true
servants of the Lord, adopt a life as delightful and easy to those who
love God truly as it is hard to them whose thoughts are set on the world
and its pleasures. I have travelled through Palestine often in search of
such young men, and many who came with me are still with me. It was in
Nazareth that we met, he said, and he stretched his hand to Jesus. Dost
remember? And without more he pursued his story.

The brother, however, who succeeded me as missionary brought back only
young men who, after a few months trial, fell away. It would be unjust
for me to say that the fault was with the missionary: times are not as
they used to be; the spirit of the Lord is not so rife nor so ardent now
as it was once, and the dwindling of our order was the reason given for
the proposal that some of us should take wives. The argument put forward
was that the children born of these marriages would be more likely than
other children to understand our oaths of renunciation of the world and
its illusions. It was pleaded, and I doubt not in good faith, that it
were better the Essenes should exist under a modified and more worldly
rule than not to exist at all; and while unable to accept this view we
have never ceased to admire the great sacrifice that our erstwhile
brethren have made for the sake of our order. That the large majority
was moved by such an exalted motive cannot be doubted; but temptations
are always about; everyone is the Adam of his own soul, and there may
have been a few that desired the change for less worthy motives. There
was a brother----

At that moment an accidental tread sent one of the puppies howling down
the dwelling, and Hazael, fearing that he might fall into the well and
drown there, sent Jesus to call him back. The puppy, however, managed to
escape the well in time, and the pain in his tail ceasing suddenly he
ran, followed by his brother, out of the cenoby on to the rocks. I must
go after them, for they will roll down the rocks if left to themselves,
Jesus cried. A matter of little moment, Hazael replied, compared with
the greater calamity of drowning himself in the well, for it is of
extraordinary depth and represents the labour of years. Wonderful are
the works of man, he added. But greater are the works of God, Joseph
replied. You did well to correct me, Hazael answered, for one never
should forget that God is over all things, and the only real
significance man has, is his knowledge of God. But we were speaking of
the exodus of a few monks from the great cenoby on the eastern side of

We came hither for the reason that I have told. We left protesting that
even if it were as our brethren said, and that the children of Essenes
would be more likely than the children of Pharisees and Sadducees to
choose to worship God according to the spirit rather than to wear their
lives away in pursuit of vain conformity to the law--even if this were
so, we said, man can only love God on condition that he put women aside,
for woman represents the five senses: pleasure of the eyes, of the ears,
of the mouth, of the finger-tips, of the nostrils: we did not fail to
point out that though our brethren might go in and unto them for worthy
motives, yet in so doing they would experience pleasure, and sexual
pleasure leads to the pleasure of wine and food. One of the brethren
said this might not be so if elderly women were chosen, and at first it
seemed as if a compromise were possible. But a moment after, a brother
reminded us that elderly women were not fruitful. To which I added
myself another argument, that a different diet from ours is necessary to
those who take wives unto themselves. Thou understandest me, Joseph?
Women have never been a temptation to me, Joseph answered, nor to Jesus,
and in meditative mood he related the story of the wild man in the
woods, at the entrance of whose cave Jesus had laid a knife so that he
might cut himself free of temptation.

At this Hazael was much moved, and they talked of Jesus, Joseph saying
that he had suffered cruelly for teaching that the Kingdom of God is in
our own hearts; for to teach that religion is no more than a personal
aspiration is to attack the law, which, though given to us by Moses,
existed beforetimes in heaven, always observed by the angels, and to be
observed by them for time everlasting. Jesus, then, set himself against
the Temple? Hazael said slowly, looking into Joseph's eyes. In a
measure, Joseph answered, but it was the priests who exasperated the
people against him, and what I have come here for, beyond his
companionship on the journey is to beg of you to put no questions to
him. A day may come when he will tell his story if he remain with thee.
Here he is safe, Hazael said, and I pray God that he may remain with us.
But where is Jesus? Hazael asked, and they sought him in the terraces,
where the monks were at work among the vines. See our fig-trees already
in leaf. Without our figs we should hardly be able to live here, and it
is thy transport that enables us to sell our grapes and our figs and the
wine that we make, for we make wine, though there are some who think it
would be better if we made none.

It was thou that urged Pilate to free these hills from robbers, and
hadst thou not done so we shouldn't have been able to live here. But I'm
thinking of so many things that I have lost thought of him whom we seek.
He cannot have passed this way, unless, indeed, he descended the terrace
towards the bridge, and he could hardly have done that. He has gone up
the hills, and they will help to put the past out of his mind. And,
talking of Jesus' early life in the cenoby, and of his knowledge of
flocks and suchlike, Hazael led Joseph through the long house and up
some steps on to a rubble path. The mountain seems to be crumbling,
Joseph said, and looked askance at the quiet room built on the very
verge of the abyss. Where thou'lt sleep when thou honourest us with a
visit, Hazael said, which will be soon, we trust, he continued; for we
owe a great deal to thee, as I have already explained, and now thou
com'st with a last gift--our shepherd.

On these words they passed under an overhanging rock which Joseph said
would fall one day. One day, replied the Essene, all the world will
fall, and I wish we were as safe from men as we are from this rock. Part
of the bridge over the brook is of wood and it can be raised. But the
ledge on which we live can be reached only from the hills by this path,
and it would be possible to raid us from this side. Thou seest here a
wall, a poor one, it is true; but next year we hope to build a much
stronger wall, some twenty feet high and several feet in thickness, and
then we shall be secure against the robbers if they would return to
their caves. We have little or nothing to steal, but wicked men take
pleasure in despoiling even when there is nothing to gain: our content
would fill them with displeasure, he said, as he sought the key.

But on trying the door it was found to be unlocked, and Joseph said: it
will be no use building a wall twenty feet high to secure yourself from
robbers if you leave the door unlocked. It was Jesus that left the door
unlocked, Hazael answered, he must have passed this way, we shall find
him on the hillside; and Joseph stood amazed at the uprolling hills and
their quick descents into stony valleys. Beyond that barren hill there
is some pasturage, Hazael said; and in search of Jesus they climbed
summit after summit, hoping always to catch sight of him playing with
his dogs in the shadow of some rocks, but he was nowhere to be seen, and
Hazael could not think else than that he had fallen in with Amos and
yielded to the beguilement of the hills, for he has known them, Hazael
continued, since I brought him here from Nazareth, a lad of fifteen or
sixteen years, not more. We shall do better to return and wait for him.
He will remember us presently. To which Joseph answered, that since he
was so near Jericho he would like to go thither; a great pile of
business awaited his attention there, and he begged Hazael to tell Jesus
that he would return to bid him good-bye on his way back to Jerusalem
that evening, if it were possible to do so.


It was as Hazael had guessed: the puppies had scampered up the loose
pathway leading to the hills; Jesus had let them through the door, and
had followed them up the hills, saying to himself: they have got the
scent of sheep.

The stubborn, unruly ground lay before him just as he remembered it,
falling into hollows but rising upwards always, with still a little
grass between the stones, but not enough to feed a flock, he remarked,
as he wandered on, watching the sunrise unfolding, and thinking that
Amos should be down by the Jordan, and would be there, he said to
himself, no doubt, were it not for the wild beasts that have their lairs
in the thickets. Whosoever redeems the shepherd from the danger of
lions, he added, as he climbed up the last ascents, will be the great
benefactor. But the wolves perhaps kill more sheep than lions, being
more numerous. It was at this moment that Brother Amos came into sight,
and he walked so deep in meditation that he might have passed Jesus
without seeing him if Jesus had not called aloud.

Why, Jesus, it is thou, as I'm alive, come back to us at last. Well,
we've been expecting thee this long while. And thou hast not come back
too soon, as my poor flock testifies. I'm ashamed of them; but thou'lt
not speak too harshly of my flock to Hazael, who thinks if he complains
enough he'll work me up into a good shepherd despite my natural turn for
an indoor life. But I'd not have thee think that the flock perished
through my fault, and see in them a lazy shepherd lying always at length
on the hillside. I walk with them in search of pasture from daylight
till dark, wearing my feet away, but to no purpose, as any man can see
though he never laid eyes on a sheep before. But it was thou, Brother,
that recommended me for a shepherd, and I can think of naught but my
love of wandering with thee on the hills, and listening to thee prating
of rams and ewes, that put it into my head that I was a shepherd by
nature and thy successor.

Thou wast brought up to the flock from thy boyhood, and a ram's head has
more interest for thee than a verse of Scripture; thy steady, easy gait
was always the finest known on these hills for leading a flock; but my
feet pain me after a dozen miles, and a shepherd with corny feet is like
a bird with a torn wing. Thou understandest the hardship of a shepherd,
and that one isn't a shepherd for willing it; and I rely on thee,
Brother, to take my part and to speak up for me when Hazael puts
questions to thee. So thou wouldst be freed from the care of the flock?
Jesus said. My only wish, he answered. But thou'lt make it clear to
Hazael that it was for lack of a good ram the flock fell away. I gave
thee over a young ram with the flock, one of the finest on these hills,
Jesus said. Thou didst; and he seemed like coming into such a fine
beast, Amos answered, that we hadn't the heart to turn him among the
ewes the first year but bred from the old fellow. An old ram is a waste,
Jesus replied, and he would have said more if Amos had not begun to
relate the death of the fine young beast that Jesus had bred for the
continuance of the flock. We owe the loss of him, he said, to a ewe that
no shepherd would look twice at, one of the ugliest in the flock, she
seemed to me to be and to everybody that laid his eyes on her, and she
ought to have been put out of the flock, but though uninviting to our
eyes she was longed for by another ram, and so ardently that he could
not abide his own ewes and became as a wild sheep on the hills, always
on the prowl about my flock, seeking his favourite, and she casting her
head back at him nothing loath.

It would have been better if I had turned the evil ewe out of the flock,
making him a present of her, but I kept on foiling him; and my own ram,
taking rage against this wild one, challenged him, and one day, seeing
me asleep on the hillside, the wild ram came down and with a great bleat
summoned mine to battle. It seemed to me that heaven was raining
thunderbolts, so loud was the noise of their charging; and looking out
of my dreams I saw the two rams backing away from each other, making
ready for another onset. My ram's skull was the softer, he being a
youngling, it had been already shaken in several charges, and it was
broken in this last one, a terrible one it was, I can still hear them,
they are still at it in my mind--the ewes of both flocks gathered on
different sides, spectators.

But where were thy dogs all this while? Jesus inquired. My dogs! If I'd
had a Thracian he never would have suffered that the sheep killed each
other. A Thracian would have awakened me. My dogs are of the soft Syrian
breed given to growling and no more. The wild ram might have become tame
again, and would doubtless have stayed with me as long as I had the ewe;
but he might have refused to serve any but she. No man can say how it
would have ended if I had not killed him in my anger. So thou wast left,
Jesus remarked, without a serviceable ram. With naught, Amos sighed, but
the old one, and he was that weary of jumping that he began to think
more of his fodder than ewes. Without money one can't get a well-bred
ram, as I often said to Hazael, but he answered me always that he had no
money to give me, and that I must do as well as I could with the ram I
had.... He is gone now, but before he died he ruined my flock.

It is true that the shepherd's labour is wasted without a good ram,
Jesus repeated. Thou speakest but the truth, Amos replied; and knowing
the truth, forget not to speak well of me to Hazael, as a shepherd,
finding reason that will satisfy him for the dwindling of the flock that
henceforth will be in thy charge. Jesus said that he was willing to
resume his charge, but did not know if Hazael and the brethren would
receive him back into the order after his long absence. Amos seemed to
think that of that there could be no doubt. All will be glad to have
thee back ... thou'rt too useful for them to slight thee, he cried back,
and Jesus returned to the cenoby dreaming of some grand strain that
would restore the supremacy of the flock.

As he passed down the gallery Hazael, who was sitting on the balcony,
cried to him; Joseph, he said, waited an hour and has gone; he had
business to transact in Jericho. But, Jesus, what ails thee? It seems
strange, Jesus answered, he should have gone away like this. But have I
not told thee, Jesus, that he will return this evening to wish thee
good-bye. But he may not be able to return this evening, Jesus replied.
That is so, Hazael rejoined. He said that he might have to return to
Jerusalem at once, but he will not fail to ride out to meet thee in a
few days. But he will not find me on the hills, no tryst has been made,
Jesus said, as he turned away; and guessing his intention to be to leave
at once for Jericho, Hazael spoke of Joseph's business in Jericho, and
how displeased he might be to meet Jesus in the middle of his business
and amongst strangers. The Essenes are not well looked upon in
Jerusalem, he said. We do not send fat rams to the Temple. Fat rams,
Jesus repeated. Amos has been telling me that what lacks is a ram, and
the community had not enough money to buy one. That is true, Hazael
said. Rams are hard to get even for a great deal of money. Joseph might
lend us the money, he is rich. He will do that, Jesus answered, and be
glad to do it. But a ram must be found, and if thou'lt give me all the
money thou hast I will go in search of one. Joseph will remit to thee
the money I have taken from thee when he returns. It will be a surprise
for him to find in the flock a great fine ram of the breed that I
remember to have seen on the western hills. I'll start at daybreak. Thou
shalt have our shekels, Hazael said; they are few, but the Lord be with
thee and his luck.


His was the long, steady gait of the shepherd, and he had not proceeded
far into the hills before he was looking round acknowledging them, one
after the other; they were his friends, and his sheep's friends, having
given them pasturage for many a year; and the oak wood's shade had been
friendly beforetimes to himself and his sheep. And he was going to rest
in its shade once more. At noon he would be there, glad of some water;
for though the day was still young the sun was warm, the sky told him
that before noon his tongue would be cleaving to the sides of his mouth;
a fair prediction this was, for long before the oak wood came into sight
he had begun to think of the well at the end of the wood, and the
quality of the water he would find in it, remembering that it used to
hold good water, but the shepherds often forgot to replace the stopper
and the water got fouled.

As he walked his comrades of old time kept rising up in his memory one
by one; their faces, even their hands and feet, and the stories they
told of their dogs, their fights with the wild beasts, and the losses
they suffered from wolves and lions in the jungles along the Jordan. In
old times these topics were the substance of his life, and he wished to
hear the shepherds' rough voices again, to look into their eyes, to talk
sheep with them, to plunge his hands once more into the greasy fleeces,
yes, and to vent his knowledge, so that if he should happen to come upon
new men they would see that he, Jesus, had been at the job before.

Now the day seems like keeping up, he said; but there was a certain fear
in his heart that the valleys would be close and hot in the afternoon
and the hill-tops uninviting. But his humour was not for fault-finding;
and with the ram in view always--not a long-legged brute with a face
like a ewe upon him, but a broad, compact animal with a fine woolly
head--he stepped out gaily, climbing hill after hill, enjoying his walk
and interested in his remembrance of certain rams he had once seen near
Caesarea, and in his hope of possessing himself of one of these. With
money enough upon me to buy one, he kept saying to himself, I shouldn't
come back empty-handed. But, O Lord, the the day is hot, he cried at the
end of the fourth hour. But yonder is the oak wood; and he stopped to
think out the whereabouts of the well. A moment after he caught sight of
a shepherd: who is, no doubt, by the well, he said. He is, and trying to
lift out the stopper; and the shepherd, catching sight of Jesus, called
him to come to his help, saying that it would need their united strength
to get it out. We're moving it, the shepherd cried after a bit. We are,
Jesus replied. How is the water? Fair enough if thy thirst be fierce,
the shepherd replied. There is better about a mile from here, but I see
thou'rt thirsty.

As soon as the men had quenched their thirst, the sheep came forward,
each waiting his turn, as is their wont; and when the flock was watered
it sought the shade of a great oak, and the twain, sitting under the
burgeoning branches, began to talk. It was agreed between them that it
would not do to advise anybody to choose shepherding as a trade at
present, for things seemed to be going more than ever against the
shepherd; the wild animals in the thickets along the Jordan had
increased, and the robbers, though many had been crucified, were
becoming numerous again; these did not hesitate to take a ewe or wether
away with them, paying little for it, or not paying at all. But art thou
a shepherd? Jesus answered that he had been a shepherd--an erstwhile
Essene, he said; one that has returned to the brethren. The Essenes are
good to the poor, the shepherd said, and glad to hear he was talking to
a mate, he continued his complaint, to which Jesus gave heed, knowing
well that it would not be long before they would be speaking of the
breed of sheep best suited to the hills; the which came to pass, for,
like Jesus, he lacked a good ram, and for the want of one, he said, his
flock had declined. The better the breed, he continued, the more often
it required renewing, and his master would not pay money for new blood,
so he was thinking of leaving him; and to justify his intention he
pointed out the ram to Jesus that was to serve the flock that autumn,
asking him how a shepherd could earn with such a one the few lambs that
he receives in payment if the flock increase under his care. He's four
years old if he's a day, Jesus muttered. He is that, the shepherd
answered; yet master told me yesterday he must serve another season, for
he won't put his hand in his pocket, rams being so dear; but nothing,
say I, is dearer than an old ram. I'm with thee in that, Jesus answered;
and my plight is the same as thine. I'm searching for a ram, and have a
friend who would pay a great sum of money for one if one of the style I
am looking for can be found.

Well, luck will be with thee, but I know no ram on these hills that I'd
pay money for, the shepherd answered, none we see is better than yon
beast, and he is what thou seest him to be, a long-backed, long-legged,
ugly ram that would be pretty tough under the tooth, and whose fleece a
shepherd would find thin in winter-time.

But there were once fine sheep on these hills, Jesus answered, and I
remember a ram---- Ay, mate, thou mayest well remember one, and I think
I know the shepherd that thou'rt thinking of, but he that owns the breed
will not sell a ram for the great sums of money that have been offered
to him, for his pride is to keep the breed to himself. We've tried to
buy, and been watching this long while for a lucky chance to drive one
away, for a man that has more than he needs and will not sell aught
thereof calls the thief down into his house, as it were, creating the
thief out of an honest man, for which he deserves to be punished. But
the rich are never punished and this man's shepherds are wary, and his
dogs are fierce, and none has succeeded yet in getting a sample of the

But where may this man be found? Jesus asked, and the shepherd mentioned
a village high up on the mountains over against the sea. But go not
thither, for twenty miles is a long walk if the end of it be but jeers
and a scoffing. A scoffing! Jesus returned. Ay, and a fine one in thine
ears; and a fine thirst upon thee, the shepherd continued, and turning
to the oak-tree he began to cut branches to feed his goats. Twenty miles
uphill in front of me, Jesus meditated, with jeers and scoffings at the
end of the journey, of which I have had plenty; and he began to walk
quickly and to look round the hills in search of pasture for a flock,
for these hills were but faintly known to him. It isn't reasonable that
a man will not part with a ram for a great sum of money, he said, and
though he may not sell the lamb to his neighbours, whom he knows for
rascals, he may sell to the Essenes, whose report is good. And he
continued his way, stopping very often to think how he might find a
bypath that would save him a climb; for the foot-hills running down from
west to east, off the main range, formed a sort of gigantic ridge and
furrow broken here and there, and whenever he met a shepherd he asked
him to put him in the way of a bypath; and with a word of counsel from a
shepherd and some remembrance he discovered many passes; but despite
these easy ways the journey began to seem very long, so long that it
often seemed as if he would never arrive at the village he was seeking.
He told me I'd find it on the last ridge looking seaward. He said I
couldn't miss it; and shading his eyes with his hand, Jesus caught sight
of some roofs that he had not seen before. Maybe the roofs, he said, of
the village in which I shall find my ram, and maybe he who will sell me
the ram sits under that sycamore. If such be my fortune he will rise to
meet me, Jesus continued, and he strove against the faintness coming
over him. Is there a fountain? he asked. By that arch the fountain
flows, drink thy fill, wayfarer. His sight being darkened he could not
see the arch but stumbled against it and stood there, his face white and
drawn, his hand to his side, till, unable to bear up any longer, he

Somebody came to him with water, and after drinking a little he revived,
and said he could walk alone, but as soon as they loosed him he fell
again, and when lifted from the ground a second time he asked for the
inn, saying he had come a long way. Whereupon a man said, thou shalt
rest in my house; I guess thee to be a shepherd, though thy garb isn't
altogether a shepherd's. But my house is open to him who needs food and
shelter. Lean on my arm.

Let me untie thy sandals, were the next words Jesus heard, and when his
feet were bathed and he had partaken of food and drink and was rested,
the villager, whom Jesus guessed to be a shepherd, began to ask him
about the length of the journey from Jericho to Caesarea: we're three
hours from Caesarea, he said; thou must have been walking many hours.
Many hours indeed, Jesus answered. I've come from the Brook Kerith,
which is five miles from Jericho. From the Brook Kerith? the villager
repeated. A shepherd I guessed thee to be. And a fair guess, Jesus
answered. A shepherd I am and in search of a ram of good breeding, sent
on hither by a shepherd. He did but make sport of thee, the villager
answered, for it is I that own the breed that all men would have. So a
shepherd sent thee hither to buy a ram from me? No, Jesus replied, he
said thou wouldst not sell. Then he was an honester shepherd than I
thought for: he would have saved thee a vain journey, and it would have
been well hadst thou listened to his counsel, for I will not part with
the breed; and my hope is that my son will not be tempted to part with
the breed, for it is through our sheep that we have made our riches,
such small riches as we possess, he added, lest he should appear too
rich in the eyes of a stranger. If thou'lt not sell I must continue my
journey farther, Jesus answered. In quest of a ram? the shepherd said.
But thou'lt not find any but long-backed brutes tucked up in the belly
that offend the eye and are worse by far than a hole in the pocket. With
such rams the hills abound. But get thee the best, though the best may
be bad, for every man must work according to his tools.

If thou asked me for anything but my breed of sheep I would have given
it, for thy face and thy speech please me, but as well ask me for my
wife or my daughter as for my rams. Be it so, Jesus answered, and he
rose to continue his way, but his host said that having taken meat and
drink in his house he must sleep in it too, and Jesus, being tired,
accepted the bed offered to him. He could not have fared farther; there
was no inn nor public guest-room, and in the morning his host might be
in the humour to part with a ram for a great sum of money. But the
morning found his host in the same humour regarding his breed of
sheep--determined to keep it; but in all other things willing to serve
his guest. Jesus bade him good-bye, sorry he could not persuade him but
liking him all the same.

In two hours he was near the cultivated lands of Caesarea, and it seemed
to him that his best chance of getting news of a ram would be to turn
westward, and finding bed and board in every village, he travelled far
and wide in search of the fine rams that he had once caught sight of in
those parts. But the rams of yore seemed to have disappeared altogether
from the country: thou mayest journey to Caesarea and back again, but
thou'lt not find anything better than that I offer thee one man said to
Jesus, whereupon Jesus turned his back upon Caesarea and began the return
journey sad and humble, but with hope still a-flutter in his heart, for
he continued to inquire after rams all the way till he came one bright
morning to the village in which lived the owner of the great breed of
sheep that he coveted, honourably coveted, he muttered to himself, but
coveted heartily.

The sun was well up at the time, and Jesus had come by the road leading
up from the coast. He had passed over the first ridge, and had begun to
think that he must be near the village in which the man lived who owned
the great breed of sheep when his thoughts were interrupted by a lamb
bleating piteously, and, looking round, he saw one running hither and
thither, seeking his dam. Now the lamb seeming to him a fine one, he was
moved to turn back to the village to tell the man he had lodged with
that a lamb of his breed had lost the ewe. Thou sayest well, the man
answered, and that lamb will seek vainly, for the ewe hurt her hoof, and
we kept her in the house so that she might be safer than with my
shepherd out on the hills, and the luck we have had is that a panther
broke into our garden last night. We thought he had killed the lamb as
well, but he only took the ewe, and the lamb thou bringest me tidings
of will be dead before evening. My thanks to thee, shepherd, for thy
pains. But, said Jesus, thou'lt sell me the lamb that runs bleating
after ewe, on the chance that I shall rear him? Whereat the villager
smiled and said: it seems hard to take thy money for naught, for thou
hast a pleasant face; but who knows what luck may be with thee. For a
shekel thou shalt have the lamb. Jesus paid the shekel, and his eyes
falling upon a bush in whose stems he knew he should find plenty of sap,
he cut some six or seven inches off, and, having forced out the sap,
showed it to the villager, and asked him for a rag to tie round the end
of it. I hardly know yet what purpose thou'lt put this stem to, the
shepherd said, but he gave Jesus the rag he asked for, and Jesus
answered: I've a good supply of ewe's milk drawn from the udder scarce
an hour ago. Thou hast ewe's milk in thy bottle! the villager said. Then
it may be I shall lose my breed through thoughtlessness. And it was with
a grave face that he watched Jesus tie a rag around the hollow stem.

He put the stem into the lamb's jaws and poured milk down it, feeding
the lamb as well as the ewe could have done. It may be I shall get him
home alive, Jesus muttered to himself. Thou'lt do it, if luck be with
thee, and if thou canst rear him my breed has passed from me. Thou'lt be
rewarded for taking my shekel, Jesus answered. A fine lamb for a month,
the villager remarked. One that will soon begin to weigh heavy in my
bosom, Jesus answered; a true prophecy, for after a few miles Jesus was
glad to let him run by his side; and knowing now no other mother but
Jesus, he trotted after him as he might after the ewe: divining perhaps,
Jesus said to himself, the leathern bottle at my girdle.

But very soon Jesus had to carry him again, and, despite his weight,
they were at noon by the well at the end of the oak wood. Lamb, we'll
sleep awhile together in a pleasant hollow at the edge of the wood. Lay
thyself down and doze. The lamb was obedient, but before long he awoke
Jesus with his bleating. He wants some milk, he said, and undid the
leather girdle and placed the feeding-pipe into the lamb's mouth. But
before giving him milk he was moved to taste it: for if the milk be
sour---- The milk has soured, he said, and the poor bleating thing will
die in the wood, his bleatings growing fainter and fainter. He'll look
into my face, wondering why I do not give him the bottle from which he
took such a good feed only a few hours ago; and while Jesus was thinking
these things the lamb began to bleat for his milk, and as Jesus did not
give it to him he began to run round in search of the ewe, and Jesus let
him run, hoping that a wild beast would seize and carry him away and
with his fangs end the lamb's sufferings quicker than hunger could.

But no wolf or panther was in the thicket, and the lamb returned to him:
brought back, he said, by a memory of the bottle. But, my poor wee lamb,
there is no sweet milk in my bottle, only sour, which would pain thee.
Think no more of life, but lie down and die: we shall all do the same
some day.... Thy life has been shorter than mine, and perhaps better for
that. No, I've no milk for thee and cannot bear to look in thy face: run
away again in search of the ewe and find instead the panther that took
her. Poor little lamb, dying for milk in this wild place. So thou hast
returned to me, having found neither ewe nor panther. Go, and seek a
wolf, he will be a better friend to thee than I.

He had seen many lambs die and did not understand why he should feel
more pain at this lamb's death than another's. But it was so; and now
all his hopes and fears centred in this one thing that Fate had
confided to his bosom. A little milk would save it, but he had no milk.
He might pick him up and run, calling to the shepherds, but none would
hear. I cannot listen to his bleating any longer, he said, and tried to
escape from the lamb, but he was followed round the trees, and just as
he was about to climb into one out of the lamb's sight his nostrils
caught the scent of fleeces coming up the hillside. A shepherd is
leading his flock to the well-head, he said, so, wee lamb, thou wilt not
die to-day, and, addressing himself to the shepherd, he said: I've got a
lamb of the right breed, but have no milk to give him. Canst thou pay
for it? the shepherd asked; and Jesus said, I can, and the shepherd
called a ewe and the lamb was fed.

Well, luck is in thy way, the shepherd said, for I was on my way to
another well, and cannot tell what came into my mind and turned me from
it and brought me up here. Every life, Jesus said, is in the hands of
God, and it was not his will to let this lamb die. Dost believe, the
shepherd answered, that all is ordered so? And Jesus answered him:
thou'lt fill my bottle with milk? The shepherd said: I will; but thou
hast still a long way before the lamb can be fed again. Hide thy bottle
under a cool stone in yon forest and in the evening the milk will still
be sweet and thou canst feed thy lamb again and continue thy journey by
starlight. But these hills are not my hills; mine are yonder, Jesus
said, and at night all shapes are different. No matter, the way is
simple from this well, the shepherd answered, and he gave Jesus such
directions as he could follow during the night. Now mind thee, he
continued, look round for a shepherd at daybreak. He'll give thee fresh
milk for thy lamb and by to-morrow evening thou'lt be by the Brook
Kerith. And this advice appearing good to Jesus, he turned into the
shade of the trees with his lamb, and both slept together side by side
till the moon showed like a ghost in the branches of the trees.

It was time then to feed the lamb, and the milk being sweet in the
bottle, the lamb drank it greedily; and when he had drunk enough Jesus
was tempted to drink what the lamb could not drink, for he was thirsty
after eating his bread, but he went to the well and took a little water
instead, and lay down, telling the lamb that he might sleep but a little
while, for they must be ready at midnight to travel again. If we meet a
shepherd thou livest, if he fail us thou diest. Jesus said, and seeing a
shepherd leaving a cavern at dawn with his flock, Jesus called to him
and bought milk from him and once more the twain continued their
journey, the lamb becoming so dependent on the shepherd that Jesus took
pleasure sometimes in hiding himself behind a rock, and as soon as the
lamb missed him he would run to and fro bleating in great alarm till he
found Jesus; and when he came upon him he thrust his nozzle into Jesus'

It was then more than at any time he delighted in being carried. No, my
good lamb, I've carried thee far and now can barely carry myself to the
bridge; and the lamb had to follow to the bridge, and they began to
ascend the terraces together, but the steep ascents very soon began to
tire him, and the lamb lay down and bleated for Jesus to take him up in
his arms, which he did, but, overcome with the weariness of a long
journey, he had to lay him down after a few paces. Yet he would not
surrender the lamb to the brethren who came and offered to carry him,
saying: I have carried him so far and will carry him to the end, but ye
must let me rest on your arms. Meanwhile, fetch me a little milk, for
the lamb has had all that I could buy from the shepherds on the hills,
and do not ask how I became possessed of this lamb, for I am too tired
to tell the story. So did he speak, holding the lamb to his bosom; and
leaning on the arm of one of the brethren while another pushed from
behind, and in this exhausted state he reached the cenoby.

Now I must feed my lamb; go to Brother Amos and ask him to bring some
ewe's milk at once. But the brethren were loath to go, saying: Brother
Amos is feeding his sheep far from here, but will return in the evening.
But the lamb must be fed every three or four hours, Jesus answered, and
do ye go at once to Amos and tell him to bring the milk at once. He must
not be kept waiting for his milk. Now look at him and say if any of ye
have seen a finer lamb. I can speak no more, but will sleep a little as
soon as I have placed him in a basket. But wake me up as soon the milk
comes, for I will trust none to feed him but myself, and he dropped off
to sleep almost on these words.

The Essenes, understanding that the lamb had caused Jesus a long search,
went after Amos as they were bidden, and finding him not as far as they
thought for with his flock, they related to him Jesus' request that he
should bring some ewe's milk at once, which he did, and seeing Jesus in
deep sleep he said: it is a pity to waken him, for I know how to feed a
lamb as well as he does. May I not? But the Essenes said: he'll be vexed
indeed if the lamb be fed by any but him. So be it, Amos answered; and
they roused Jesus with difficulty, for his sleep was deep, and when he
opened his eyes he knew not where he was for some time. At last memory
returned to him, and, struggling from the couch, he said: I must feed my
lamb. The milk is fresh from the ewe? he asked. Yes, Jesus, Amos
answered, I have just drawn it from the udder. As soon as he is old
enough to run with the flock I'll bring him, Jesus said, and thou'lt be
free to return to the Scriptures.

And having asked that he might be awaked in four hours his eyes closed,
which is not to be wondered at, he having slept hardly at all for four
days. Does he put his lamb before the Scriptures? the Essenes asked each
other, and they withdrew, shaking their heads.


Jesus fell back into sleep as soon as the lamb was fed, and it was in
this second sleep of more than six hours that he regained his natural
strength. Has Joseph returned? he asked on awakening, and the brother
nearest him answered that he had not; whereupon Jesus asked that Hazael
should come to him, and he said to him: Hazael, Joseph told thee that as
soon as his business was transacted in Jericho he would return hither,
and if that were not possible the delay would not be long. But four days
have passed and we haven't seen him nor have we news of him. Now how is
this? He couldn't have heard in Jericho nor in Jerusalem of my faring
among the hills of Caesarea in search of a lamb. It was only on those
hills that I might find a lamb that would recover for us the strength
that has gone out of the flock. And I would that Joseph were here to see
him that I've brought back. My heart misgives me. Thou'lt feed him in my
absence, he said to one of the brethren, and I'll go down on to the
terraces and wander across the bridge, for on the hills over yonder I
may catch sight of Joseph coming to meet me. Can none tell me if he will
come from Jericho or Jerusalem? A brother cried that he would feed the
lamb as Jesus directed, and the brethren at work among the fig-trees
spoke to each other of the grief visible on Jesus' face as he passed
them and questioned each other and sought a reason for it. Has the lamb
fallen sick? one asked, and on that thought they ran up the terraces to
inquire for the lamb, who, that day, had been given the name of Caesar.
The lamb sleeps in peace, Hazael answered, but Jesus, his saviour, has
gone out in great disorder of mind to get tidings of Joseph, the great
trader in figs and dates. He promised to return the same evening after
transacting his business in Jericho, Hazael continued. Four days have
passed away without news of him; some misfortune may have befallen him.
May have! Hazael repeated under his breath as he walked away. _Has_
befallen him without doubt.

The brethren waited for Jesus to return, but he did not return to them;
and at nightfall a watch was set at the bridge head, and the same was
done for many succeeding days, till the story reached the Brook Kerith
that Joseph had been killed in the streets of Jerusalem by order of the
Zealots. Priests never forget to revenge themselves on those that do not
submit to their ideas and exactions, Hazael muttered, thereby stirring
the curiosity of the brethren; but he could not tell them more, Joseph's
relation having been insufficient to make plain the truth that Joseph,
as Jesus' friend, must have earned the High Priest's displeasure. A very
little suspicion, he said to himself, is enough to bring about the death
of a man in our days; and the priests were always jealous and afraid of
prophets. Is then our Jesus a prophet? Saddoc asked, and Manahem's eyes
were full of questions. I can tell ye no more than I've said already,
Hazael answered, and the brethren forgot their curiosity, for their
hearts were stirred with pity. A great grief it surely will be, they
said to one another, when Jesus returns and hears that his friend is
dead, and they asked which among them should be the one to tell him of
this great loss that had befallen him. Not I, said one, nor I, another
answered, and as they passed into their cells it was the opinion of all
that Hazael should tell him.

Next morning when they came forth from their cells, after giving thanks
for the returning light, they stood on the hillside, hoping that every
minute would bring them sight of Jesus returning. At last a shepherd
came through the dusk, but it was not Jesus but Amos coming towards
them, and the news he brought was that he had met Jesus on the hills
wandering like one of disordered mind. He has taken my sheep from me and
has lost them, I fear. But why, the brethren cried, didst thou leave thy
sheep to him? To which Amos could make no straightforward answer: all he
knew was that he had met Jesus and been greatly frightened by his speech
and his show of gestures and demeanour. All the same, he said, I felt I
had better let him have the sheep. And the brethren said: ruin has
befallen us this time. We know the reason of the disordered mind that
thou tellest of. Joseph was slain by the Zealots in Jerusalem by order
of the priests, and the tidings must have come to Jesus as he wandered
out on to the hills seeking his friend, and it was they that robbed him
of his mind. We are ruined, the brethren cried, for our sheep are with
him, and he without thought for anything but his grief. Amos could not
answer them nay, for their words seemed to him but the truth, and they
all returned to the cenoby to mourn for Jesus and themselves till Jesus
was brought back to them by some shepherds who found him wandering,
giving no heed to the few sheep that followed him; only a few had
escaped the wolves, and the brethren charged Amos with the remnant,
muttering among themselves: his heart is broken. He is without knowledge
of us or the world around him. But why does he turn aside from our
dwelling preferring to lie with his dogs under the rocks? It is for that
our dwelling reminds him of Joseph. It was here he saw him last, Manahem
replied. It will be well to leave him to wander at will, giving him food
if his grief allows him to come for it; any restraint would estrange him
from us, nor may we watch him, for when the mind is away man is but
animal; and animals do not like watchful eyes. We may only watch over
him lest he do himself bodily harm, Eleazar said, There is no harm,
Manahem said, he can do himself, but to walk over the cliffs in a dream
and so end his misery. We would not that the crows and vultures fed on
Jesus, Caleb answered. We must watch lest he fall into the dream of his
grief.... But he lives in one. Behold him now. He sees not the cliffs
over yonder nor the cliffs beneath. Nor does he hear the brook murmur
under the cliffs. Grief is a wonderful thing, Manahem said, it
overpowers a man more than anything else; it is more powerful even than
the love of God, but it wears away; and in this it is unlike the love of
God, which doesn't change, and many of us have come here so that we may
love God the better without interruptions. It is strange, Eleazar said,
that one who loves God as truly as Jesus, should abandon himself to
grief. Eleazar's words caused the Essenes to drop into reveries and
dreams, and when they spoke out of these their words were: his grief is
more like despair. And in speaking these words they were nearer the
truth than they suspected, for though Jesus grieved and truly for
Joseph, there was in his heart something more than mortal grief.

It often seemed to him as he sat gazing across the abyss that his
temerity in proclaiming himself the Messiah was punished enough by
crucifixion: the taking from him of the one thing that crucifixion had
left behind often put the thought into his mind that God held him
accursed; and in his despair he lost faith in death, believing he would
be held accursed for all eternity. He forgot to take food and drink; he
fed upon his grief and would have faded out of life if Caesar had not
conceived a dislike to his keeper and run bleating among the rocks till
he came upon Jesus whom he recognised at once and refused to leave,
thrusting a nozzle into Jesus' hand and lying down by his side. Nor
could the brethren beguile the lamb from Jesus with milk, and Jesus
taking pity on the faithful animal said: give me the feeding bottle, I
will feed him. Whereupon Caesar began to bleat, and so cheerfully, that
all conceived a new affection for him, but he had none for anybody but
Jesus, whom he followed about the cliffs as a dog might, lying down at
his side.

The twain strayed together whither there was scarce foothold for either,
and the brethren said as they watched them: if Caesar were to miss his
footing and fall over the edge, the last link would be broken and Jesus
would go over after him. But sheep and goats never miss their footing, a
brother answered. It is fortunate, another replied, that Caesar should
have attached himself to Jesus. He seems to say, I get happier and
happier every day, and his disposition will react on Jesus and may win
him out of his melancholy.

And it seemed as if the brother had guessed rightly, for though Jesus'
face showed no interest in the brethren, nor in the cenoby, he seemed to
enjoy the sympathy of the dumb animal. He liked to call to Caesar and to
lay his hand upon Caesar's head, and to look into his eyes, and in those
moments of sympathy the brethren said: he forgets his grief. But Caesar
is coming into ramhood, Saddoc answered, and will have to go away with
the flock. There were brethren who cried out against this: let the flock
perish rather than Jesus should be deprived of Caesar. Wouldst have him
remain when he is a great ram? Manahem asked, and the others answered:
yes, for Jesus takes no thought for anything but Caesar, and the
brethren conferred together, and spent much thought in trying to
discover a remedy other than Caesar for Jesus' grief.

But one day Jesus said to the brethren: Caesar is coming into ramhood,
and I must take him away to the hills, he must come with me and join the
ewes. Art thou going to be our shepherd again? said they. If ye will
entrust the flock to me. My thoughts will never wander from it again.
Jesus spoke the words significantly, and many of the brethren believed
that he would prove himself to be the great shepherd that he was of
yore, but others said: his grief will break out upon him on the hills;
but these counsels were overruled by Manahem and Saddoc. Jesus, Saddoc
said, never smiles and his words are few, but he is himself again, and
the best shepherd that ever walked these hills is worse than he, so it
is said. He lost a few sheep, Manahem said, in the first days of his
great grief, but his mind is altogether now on the encouragement of the
flock and Amos is wearied of it and would return to the reading of the
Scriptures. Thou speakest well, Manahem, Saddoc returned, for it was in
his mind as it was in Manahem's that the sight of men and the sound of
men's voices were a torture to Jesus, and that he longed for solitude
and silence and the occupation of the flock.

The cenoby will never be the same again without our pet, some of the
brethren cried, but others said: it must be so. We'll go to see Caesar's
lambs, they cried, as he was being led away. There will be no lambs by
Caesar this spring, Jesus answered. He'll run with the ewes and that's
about all; for a ram is not fit for service till he is two years old.
Whereupon the distraction of Jesus' grief being removed from the
cenoby, the Essenes fell to talking again of the great schism and what
came of it. Are our brothers happier in wedlock than we are in celibacy?
was the question they often put to each other on the balcony; and a
sudden meeting of thoughts set them comparing the wives beyond Jordan
with the ewes of the hills. Which are the most fruitful? they asked
themselves; and it was averred that though twin lambs were of equal
worth, it might fall out in the strange destinies that beset human life
that one of human twins might be a robber and the other a devout Essene.

On a balcony overhanging an abyss some hundred feet in depth, through
which a brook sings a monotonous song, men may dream a long while on the
problem of destiny, and on awaking from their different meditations it
was natural that they should speak about the difficulties the brethren
by the lake would experience when they set themselves to discover women
who would accept the rule of life of the Essenes and for no enjoyment
for themselves, but that the order might not perish, and with it
holiness pass out of the world.

Of what women will they possess themselves? a brother often asked. Not
Jewish women, who would prefer to join themselves with Pharisees or
Sadducees rather than with Essenes, and the converts, the brother
continued, that might be made among the Gentile women from Mesopotamia
and Arabia could not be counted upon to produce pious children, though
the fathers that begot the children might be themselves of great piety.
These words put the thought into another brother's mind, that a woman
is never faithful to one man, an abiding doctrine among the Essenes: and
the group of three, Caleb, Eleazar and Benjamin, began to speak of the
stirs and quarrels that these converts would provoke in the cenoby. For
even amongst those who have renounced women, there are always a few that
retain a longing for women in their heart, and the smouldering embers
will burst into flame at the sight of woman. Is not that so, Benjamin?
There is much truth in thy words, Caleb, Benjamin answered, and I would
know if they partition off the women into an enclosure by themselves,
and only take them out at a time judged to be the fruitfullest, for it
is not lawful for us to experience pleasure, and as soon as the women
are with child, the brethren we have left behind, I trust, withdraw from
the company of their wives. Unless, said Eleazar, all the rules of our
order be abolished. We did well to leave them, Caleb answered. And then,
posing his small fat hands on the parapet, he said: women have ever been
looked upon as man's pleasure, and our pleasures are as wolves, and our
virtues are as sheep, and as soon as pleasure breaks into the fold the
sheep are torn and mangled. We're better here with our virtues than they
by the lake with their pleasures.

Trouble has begun amongst them already, Eleazar said, and Benjamin
turned to ask him if he had gotten news of the brethren by the lake; and
he answered that yesterday a shepherd told him that many brothers had
left the settlement. We did well, Caleb said, to cherish our celibacy,
and the price of living on this rock was not too high a price for it.
But tell us what thou hast heard, Eleazar. Eleazar had heard that
troubles were begun, but he hoped children would bring peace to all. But
all women aren't fruitful, Caleb said, and Benjamin was vexed with
Eleazar because he hadn't asked how many women were already quick. And
they fell to talking scandal, putting forward reasons why some of the
brethren should separate themselves from their wives.

Perhaps we shall never know the why and the wherefore, Eleazar said, it
being against our rules to absent ourselves without permission from the
cenoby, and if we were to break this rule, Hazael might refuse to
receive us again. We should wander on the hills seeking grass and roots,
for our oaths are that we take no food from strangers. Yet I'd give much
to hear how our brethren, for they are our brethren, fare with their

And when they met on the balcony, the elder members of the community,
Hazael, Mathias, Saddoc and Manahem, like the younger members conferred
together as to whether any good could come to those that had taken wives
to themselves for their pleasure. Not for their pleasure, Hazael said,
but that holiness may not pass out of the world for ever. But as
holiness, Mathias was moved to remark, is of the mind, it cannot be
affected by any custom we might impose upon our corporeal nature.
Whereupon a disputation began in which Manahem urged upon Mathias that
if he had made himself plain it would seem that his belief was that
holiness was not dependent upon our acts; and if that be so, he asked,
why do we live on this ledge of rock? To which question Mathias
answered that the man whose mind is in order need not fear that he will
fall into sin, for sin is but a disorder of the mind.

A debate followed regarding the relation of the mind to the body and of
the body to the mind, and when all four were wearied of the old
discussion, Saddoc said: is it right that we should concern ourselves
with these things, asking which of the brothers have taken wives, and
how they behave themselves to their wives? It seems to me that Saddoc is
right, these matters don't concern us who have no wives and who never
will have. But, said Manahem, though this question has been decided so
far as our bodies are concerned, are we not justified in considering
marriage as philosophers may, no subject being alien to philosophy? Is
not that so, Mathias? No subject is alien to philosophy, Mathias agreed,
to which Saddoc replied: we could discuss this matter with profit if we
knew which of the brothers had taken to himself a wife; but only rumours
reach us here; and the brethren looked across the chasm, their thoughts
crossing it easily and passing over the intervening hills down into the
plains and over Jordan. We should no doubt be content, said Manahem,
with our own beliefs, and abide in the choice that we have made without
questioning it further, as Hazael has said. Yet it is hard to keep
thoughts of the brethren we have left out of our minds. How are we,
Hazael, to remain unmoved when rumours touching on the lives of those we
have left behind reach us? Is it not merely natural that we should
desire to hear how our brethren fare in married life? Dost think,
Hazael, that those we left behind never ask each other how we fare in
our celibacy? Man is the same all the world over inasmuch as he would
like to hear he has avoided the pitfall his brother has fallen into. It
is said, Manahem continued, that the elders yonder are disturbed now as
to whether they too should take wives, though in the great disputation
that we took part in, it was decided that marriage should be left to the
younger and more fruitful. Wherefore, if it is said that trouble has
come, Hazael answered, we should be sorry for our weak brethren, and if
stories reach us, he continued, we should receive them with modesty: we
should not go out to seek stories of the misfortunes of those who have
not been as wise as we, and of all we should not wish to go down to
Jordan to inquire out the truth of these stories; Caleb and Benjamin ask
betimes for leave to visit them. Eleazar, too, has asked; but I have
refused them always, knowing well whither their curiosity would lead
them. Lest, Mathias interposed, they bring back the spirit and sense of
women with them.

A flock of doves crossing over the chasm on quick wings put an end to
the discourse, and as no more stories reached them who dwelt in the
cavern above the Brook Kerith regarding the behaviour of the wives to
their husbands and of the husbands towards their wives, the thoughts of
the younger brethren reverted to Caesar, and to the admiration of the
ewes for his beauty. A year later, when Jesus came down from the hills,
he was met with cries of: how fares it with Caesar? Does he tire on the
hills? When will the ewes begin to drop their lambs? A buzz of talk
began at once in the cenoby when the news arrived that Caesar's lambs
were appearing, but the brethren could not conceal their disappointment
that they should look like the lambs they had seen before. We expected
the finest lambs ever seen on these hills, they said, and thou hast no
more word to say in praise of them than that they are good lambs. Jesus
answered that in two months he would be better able to judge Caesar's
lambs, and to choose amongst them some two or three that would continue
the flock worthily. Which? the brethren asked, but Jesus said a choice
would be but guess-work at present, none could pick out the making of a
good ram till past the second month. Caleb marked one which he was sure
would be chosen later, and Benjamin another, and Eleazar another; but
when the time came for Jesus to choose, it was none of these that he
chose, and on hearing of their mistakes, the brethren were disappointed,
and thought no more of the flock, asking only casually for Caesar, and
forgetting to mourn his decease at the end of the fourth year; his
successor coming to them without romantic story, the brethren were from
henceforth satisfied to hear from time to time that the hills were free
from robbers; that the shepherds had banded together in great wolf
hunts; and that freed from their natural enemies, the wolves and
robbers, the flock had increased in numbers beyond the memory of the
oldest shepherd on the hills.


The brethren waxed rich, and after their midday meal they talked of the
exceeding good fortune that had been vouchsafed to them, dwelling on the
matter so earnestly that a scruple sometimes rose up in their hearts.
Did we do well to forgo all troubles? Do the selfish find favour in
God's sight? they were asking, when Caleb said: we have visitors to-day,
and looking across the chasm they saw three men emerging from the shadow
of the high rock. They may be robbers, Benjamin cried, and we would do
well to tell the brethren working along the terraces to pass the word
down to him who stands by the bridge-head that he is to raise the bridge
and refuse to lower it till the strangers speak to him of their
intentions and convince him that they are peaceful. That is well said,
Benjamin, Eleazar replied: Amos, who is standing by the fig-tree yonder,
will pass on the word. They cried out to him and watched the warning
being passed from Essene to Essene till it reached the brother standing
by the bridge-head. He looked in the direction of the strangers coming
down the path, and then in haste set himself to pull the ropes and press
the levers whereby the bridge was raised and lowered. Now they are
speaking across the brook to each other, Benjamin said: and the group on
the balcony saw the bridge being let down for the strangers to cross
over. It seems to me, Benjamin continued, Bartholomew might have spent
more time inquiring out their intentions. But we are many and they are
few, Caleb answered, and the Essenes on the balcony watched somewhat
anxiously Bartholomew conducting the strangers back and forth through
the terraces. Is not Bartholomew as trustworthy as any amongst us?
Eleazar asked. It isn't likely that he would mistake robbers for
pilgrims; and as if Bartholomew divined the anxiety of those above him
he called up the rocks that the visitors he was bringing were Essenes
from the lake. Essenes from the lake! Caleb cried. Then we shall learn,
Eleazar replied, which is preferable, celibacy or marriage. But we
mustn't speak at once to them of such matters. We must prepare food for
them, which they will require after their long journey. Our president
will be with you in a moment, Bartholomew said, addressing Shallum, a
tall thin man, whose long neck, sloping shoulders and dark round eyes
reminded his brethren of an ungainly bird. His companions, Shaphan and
Eleakim, were of different appearances. Shaphan's skull, smooth and
glistening, rose, a great dome above a crumpled face; he moped like a
sick monkey, dashing tears from his eyes continually, whereas Eleakim, a
sprightly little fellow with half-closed eyes like a pig, agreed that
Shallum should speak for them. Shallum began: we are, as you have
already heard, from the great cenoby at the head of the lake and,
therefore, I need not tell you the reason why you are here and why the
residue are yonder, but will confine myself to the story of our flight
from the lake to the brook. Honourable President and Brethren, it is
known unto you that the division of our order was not brought about by
any other reason than a dispute on both sides for the maintenance of the
order. We know that, Hazael answered, and attribute no sinfulness to the
brethren that differed from us. Our dream, Shallum continued, was to
perpetuate holiness in this world, and our dream abides, for man is a
reality only in his dreams; his acts are but a grotesque of his dream.

At these words the Essenes gathered close together, and with brightening
eyes listened, for they interpreted these words to mean that the
brethren by the lake had fallen headlong into unseasonable pleasures,
whereof they were now reaping the fruit: no sweet one, if the fruit
might be judged by the countenances of their visitors. As I have said,
Shallum continued, it was with us as it has been with men always--our
acts became a mockery of our dreams almost from the beginning, for when
you left us we gave out that we were willing to receive women who would
share our lives and with us perpetuate holiness. We gave out that we
were willing to view all who came and consider their qualifications, and
to take them as wives if they should satisfy us, that they would obey
our rule and bear children; but the women that came in response to our
advertisement, though seemingly of pious and honourable demeanour, were
not satisfied with us. Our rule is, as you brethren know well, to wear
the same smock till it be in rags, and never to ask for a new pair of
sandals till the last pieces of the old pair have left our feet. We
presented, therefore, no fair show before the women who came to us, and
when our rule was told to them, they withdrew, dissatisfied with our
appearances, with the food we ate, and the hours we kept, and of all
with the rule that they should live apart from us, only keeping company
with us at such times when women are believed to be most fruitful. Such
was the first batch in brief; the second batch (they came in batches)
pleaded that they could not be wives for us, it being that we were held
in little esteem by the Sadducees and the Pharisees, and we were
reproved by them for not sending animals for sacrifice to the Temple, a
thing that we must do if we would have them live with us. But it being
against our rule to send animals to the Temple for sacrifice, we bade
them farewell and sent forth messengers into other lands, inviting the
Gentiles to come to us to receive instruction in the Jewish religion,
with promises to them that if our rule of life was agreeable to them,
and they were exact in the appointments of all rites and ceremonies, we
should be willing to marry them after their time of probationship was
over. On this second advertisement, women came to us from Arabia and
Mesopotamia, and though we did not approve of the fine garments they
wore and the sweet perfumes that trailed after them, we liked these
things, as all men do, with our senses; and our minds being filled with
thoughts of the children that would continue the order of the Essenes,
we spoke but little against the fine linen that these women brought and
the perfumes they exhaled, whereby our ruin was consummated. Joazabdus,
our president, himself fell into the temptation of woman's beauty and
was led into sinful acquiescence of a display of the images she had
brought with her; for without a display of them on either side of the
bridal bed she would not permit his embraces. She was of our religion in
all else, having abjured her gods and goddesses at every other moment of
the day and night; but licence of her body she could not grant except
under the eyes of Astarte, and Joazabdus, being a weak man, allowed the
images to remain. As soon as the news of these images spread, we went in
deputation to our president to beg him to cast out the images from our
midst, but he answered us: but one image remains--that of Astarte: none
looks upon it but she, and if I cast out the image that she reverences
she will go hence and with the fruit of my body within her body, and a
saint may be lost to us. But we answered him that even as Jacob set up
parti-coloured rods before the conceiving ewes that they might bear
parti-coloured lambs, so to gaze in the marriage-bed upon the image of
Astarte would surely stamp upon the children that might come the image
of that demon. But he was not to be moved, whereupon we withdrew, saying
to one another: we shall not move him out of his wickedness; and that
was why we went to his brother Daddeus and asked him to accept the
headship of the community in his brother's place. And seeing that he was
unwilling to set himself against his brother, we said: our God comes
before all things, and here we have heathen goddesses in our midst; and
the end of it was that Cozby, that was the Chaldean woman's name, put
poison into Daddeus' food, thinking to establish her rule thereby, but
as soon as the death of Daddeus became known many left the cenoby
polluted in their eyes by heathenism and murder.

So it always falls out, Hazael cried, wine and women have lost the world
many saints. Wine deceives the minds of those that drink it, and it
exalts men above themselves, and leads them into acts that in any other
moment they would shrink from, leaving them more stupid than the
animals. Nor is the temptation of women less violent than that of wine.
Women's beauty is even more potent, for once a man perceives it he
becomes as if blind to all other things; his reason deserts him, he
broods upon it by day, and falls at last, as our brother has told us,
into unseasonable pleasures, like Solomon himself, about whom many
things are related, but not so far as I know that he became so
intoxicated with women's various beauty that he found his pleasure at
last in his own humiliation. If Solomon did not, others have; for there
is a story of a king that allowed his love of a certain queen to take so
great a hold upon him that he asked her to come up the steps of his
throne to strike him on the face, to take his crown from his head and
set it upon her own. This was in his old age, and it is in old age that
men fall under the unreasonable sway of women--he was once a wise man,
so we should refrain from blame, and pity our brethren who have fallen
headlong into the sway of these Chaldean and Arabian women. I might say
much more on this subject, but words are useless, so deeply is the
passion for women ingrained in the human heart. Proceed, therefore,
Brother: we would hear the trouble that women have brought on thee,
Brother Eleakim. At once all eyes were turned towards the little fellow
whose wandering odours put into everybody's mind thoughts of the great
price he must have paid in bracelets and fine linen, but Eleakim told a
different story--that he was sought for himself alone, too much so, for
the Arabian woman that fell to his lot was not content with the chaste
and reasonable intercourse suitable for the begetting of children, the
reason for which they had met, but would practise with him heathen
rites, and of a kind so terrible that one night he fled to his president
to ask for counsel. But the president, who was absorbed in his own
pleasures, drove him from his door, saying that every man must settle
such questions with his wife. Hazael threw up his hands. Say no more,
Brother Eleakim, thou didst well to leave that cenoby. We welcome thee,
and having heard thee in brief we would now hear Brother Shaphan. At
once all eyes were turned towards the short, thick, silent man, who had
till now ventured into no words; and as they looked upon him their
thoughts dwelt on the strange choice the curator had made when he chose
Brother Shaphan for a husband; for though they were without knowledge of
women, their sense told them that Brother Shaphan would not be pleasing
to a woman. But Eleakim's story had prepared them for every strange
taste, and they waited eagerly for Shaphan. But Shaphan had not spoken
many words when tears began to roll down his cheeks, and the brethren of
the Brook Kerith bethought themselves that it might be a kindly act to
avert their eyes from him till he recovered his composure; but as his
grief continued they sought to comfort him, telling him that his
troubles were now ended. He would not, however, lift his face from his
hands at their entreaty, and his companions said that the intervals
between his tears since he was married were never long. At these words
Shaphan lifted his face from his hands and dashed some tears from his
eyelids. He will tell us now, the brethren said to themselves, but he
only uttered a few incoherent words, and his face sank back into his

And it was then that Jesus appeared at the end of the domed gallery.
Hazael signed to one of the brethren to bring a chair to him, and when
Jesus was seated Hazael told him who the strangers were in these words:
great trouble has fallen upon our order, he said, the wives the brethren
have taken unto themselves against my counsel have not obeyed their
husbands. Wilt tell our Brother Jesus the trouble that has befallen
those that stayed by the lake, Shallum? I will, Shallum replied, for it
will please him to hear my story and it will be a satisfaction to me to
tell the quarrels that set my wife and me apart till at last I was
forced to send her back to her own people. My story will be profitable
to you, though you are without wives, for to err is human. The brethren
were at once all ear for the new story, but Shallum was so prolix in his
telling of his misfortunes that the brethren begged him to tell them
again of the ranging of the gods and goddesses on either side of the
president's marriage-bed. He paid no heed to them, however, but
proceeded with his own story, and so slow was his procedure that Hazael
had to interrupt him again. Shallum, he said, it is clear to me that our
shepherd has come with some important tidings to me, and it will be
kind of thee to forgo the rest of thy story for the present at least,
till I have conferred with our shepherd. I should have been loath, Jesus
interposed, to interrupt a discourse which seems to be pleasing to you
all and which would be to me too if I had knowledge of the matters which
concern you, but the differences of men with their wives and wives with


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