Page images
PDF
EPUB

ears.

“ My daughter,” replied Onias, “ seek not to know what may not be revealed; at least, not as yet, nor to woman's

Let this suffice thee, that the vine-dresser of BethHarem is not leagued with princes for any end which his daughter could not approve, or Jehovah smile upon.”

Judith, who had evidently spoken in a sportful manner, seemed grieved by the grave reply of her father, and hastened to say, “ that she doubted not her father; yet could she not but apprehend possible evil, when he was departing so far from his wonted manner of life, and binding himself to associates so different from his former ones as Herod of Galilee."

Onias rose and walked to and fro upon the roof.

Presently he asked if any had been impatient to see him while absent. Judith replied none, save a messenger from Machærus. Had he brought letters ? asked Onias. No; his communication must be with Onias himself.

He then, kissing his daughter, and commending her to her bed, and me to early repose after the toil of our journey, descended to his apartment; we following him, and resorting also to ours.

CHAPTER VII.

JULIAN AT BETH-HAREM TO NAOMI IN ROME.

[ocr errors]

THE

HOME SICKNESS. — A JEWISH BEAUTY._ THE HOME OF

Rich VINE-DRESSER. — Judith's DESCRIPTION OF THE PEOPLE OF JUDEA. — A MESSENGER.

I

AWOKE, my mother, not in Rome, though my dreams

had carried me there, and placed me at your side, vainly attempting to win away your attention from the book of the Prophets, which according to your wont, in the morning's prime, you were diligently pondering. It was the rebuke of your sometimes severe countenance at an impertinent jest of mine that broke my slumbers. Slowly the mists of the night drew away and left me in the full consciousness of my position. My eyes fell upon unaccustomed objects; the open casement held up before me a distant prospect of stream and plain, hill and tower, such as I never before had seen; the song of birds, whose strains were new and strange, voices of labourers or of the servants of the household calling to each other in the Syriac tongue, - not even yet an agreeable melody,— met my ear; these, and other sights and sounds by degrees informed me that I had been sleeping neither in Italy nor Rome, but was still a sojourner in the barbarous clime of the further Palestine, even upon the outskirts of the Asiatic deserts. In that sense of utter feebleness of the will with which we first wake in the morning, it seemed to me that I would renounce all knowledge of other places and people, for the sake of being once more in Rome. I cared not for Onias, Judith, Judea, nor the whole East in comparison with Rome and thee. But action, and the bath, and the fresh air of the housetop, soon scattered these worse than dreams, and restored me to my manhood.

In a part of the dwelling not far from where I had slept, I found Onias and Judith, with others of their large household, awaiting me at a table well covered with bread, fruits, wines, and dainties unknown to the vocabulary of Roman art. Thy stern and contemplative brother saluted me, methought, with no very encouraging fervour, but very much as if he were addressing a new comer as little welcome as expected. But this I regarded not, for I knew that so soon as his dreamy thoughts could be gathered together, some from Jerusalem, some from Galilee, and some from Rome, he would comprehend who I was, and I should be dealt with accordingly. From Judith my greeting was quite otherwise. She hastened to meet me as I entered, and by the natural ardour of her manner, and the glow of her most expressive countenance, made me feel that I was in but another home. Indeed, my mother, thy niece is very beautiful. Shall I speak of Rebecca, or Ruth, or Rachel, or Judith of old ? Rebecca at the well, with our great father Isaac, as tradition paints her, was not to be placed by the side of Judith the daughter of Onias, when she rose from her embroidered couch and gave me the salute of peace, and then proffered me the refreshments of the loaded board. I believe I only gazed at her in return, and gave as many signs of distraction as Onias himself; for before I had fully recovered myself, I heard from one who was near,

66 Can it be that Rome hath no women ?” Those few words, not intended to reach my ear, brought me to myself, and gave a new direction to my eyes, and unloosed my tongue. There was then no want either of food for discourse, or of disposition to engage in it, save on the part of thy brother, who during the whole repast spake never a word, unless it were in reply to questions urgently pressed upon him, and those relating to the matters immediately before us.

No sooner were our duties discharged towards both ourselves and the substantial dishes that had been set

Judill.

« PreviousContinue »