Page images
[ocr errors]

in my silence and darkness, they revealed themselves and filled the place where I was with light. The history of our people, and the care of Jehovah for them, of the good men and prophets who had taught and died for them, all passed before me; and although I felt myself still to be ignorant and unbelieving in much more than I knew and believed, I discovered that I knew and believed greatly more than but a little while before I could have supposed, and enough to make me a Jew in very deed. The prayers, also, which at thy side, or else seated on thy knee, I had in my infancy been taught to say, though for many a year they had not passed my lips, now unbidden returned, and again ascended a sacrifice, for thy sake I will believe, not rejected. I put not my trust, my mother, in the righteousness of the thoughts and resolves, which perchance the solitary fears of my dungeon, and the human dread of a sudden, and it might be cruel death by the scourge or the cross, and not any love of what is good and right, may have prompted. That were a vain reliance. I dare not say as yet, that Rome and her seductions might not, were they soon to try me, easily uproot the virtue, that like a gourd has grown up in the night. May my newborn strength be spared such assault.

Thus was I, by the strange fortunes that had befallen me, again recreated a Jew. Yet was this, as I well knew, only so much a new hindrance in the way of pardon or escape. Could I with truth have declared myself a Roman, there was not a doubt that Pilate would, on the instant, have overlooked the natural ardour that had leagued me for the moment with the enemies of the state, seeing how I was bound to them by both the ties of friendship and of blood. As little doubt was there it seemed to me, that when he should discover, as upon examination he would, the manner in which I then stood affected both toward Rome and Judea, there would be small hope of any other event

[ocr errors]

than immediate death. Day after day did I lie in my dungeon, chained to a pillar of stone, awaiting with patience, and almost more than patience, through the new spirit that had taken possession of me, what should befall. No sounds disturbed the current of my thoughts,

I have now declared to you what course they took,save the regular approach of the jailor with the portion of food which was allowed me, and the cries, as of those who suffered torture, or who lamented aloud their wretched bondage. The jailor was one who appeared native to the horrors of the place, and to be little different from the stone on which I lay, save that he possessed the power of going from place to place. I quickly learned to refrain from seeking news from one who either replied neither by word nor sign, or cursed me for my tribe and what he believed my crimes. Once only did he of his own accord open his lips, and that was to declare, as he did with the laugh of a demon, " that that day, at the third hour, a score of Jew dogs, - their heads downwards, would die on as many crosses at the city gates." His care of me, he thought, would soon be at an end. I could not but ask if he knew who they were who were to suffer. His answer was in two words, as he drew the bolt of my door, “ Jew dogs.” The manner of this man made me feel that there was a lower and more pitiable state than my own. Nay, it seemed to me I would sooner be the spider or the toad that crawled over and around me. I was happy to be myself rather than such an one.

But all this was to have an end. The door of my prison was opened not many days after, not by my jailor, but by Zeno the Greek, crying out with rapid and noisy vociferation, that through the intervention of Procla I had at length obtained my freedom, but on the condition that I should at once take my departure from Cæsarea. I was as much amazed at the sight and sound of this man as if I had never known him; for in the crowd of thoughts I had been so intently revolving concerning the past and future, the image of the Greek had not once presented itself. Philip, Anna and their mother had often been present to my thoughts, but not Zeno. Instantly, however, I remembered my former conclusions concerning him, and was at the same time conscious that he was the only being in Cæsarea, beside the Jews, to whom I was known, and who had it in his power to do me any service, so it must be to him I was indebted for this unlooked-for prospect of life and freedom. I therefore greeted and embraced him as a friend and benefactor. He steadfastly reiterated what at

. first he had declared, that it was to the powerful intercession of Procla I was beholden for my present happiness, who, having heard an account of the way in which I became a party to the plans and movements of the Jews, and how I had joined at last in the tumult only through a momentary impulse to revenge the death of my friends, pitied me, and besought Pilate for my release,-a mercy, which without much difficulty she obtained. But when I significantly asked from whom Procla could have derived her knowledge of me, a stranger in Cæsarea,— all of my nation who had known me being dead, or at least dead to Procla,- he could not, he said, but admit that among others with whom he had conversed of me and the events which had taken place, was the wife of Pilate, who had confessed, after some things he had let drop, that she thought, rightly considered, I was innocent of any crime against either the power of the Procurator or the peace of the city, and ought to be set at liberty; and so she would say to Pilate. I did not fail to make him feel,- notwithstanding the difficulty of ever obtaining an entrance between either his words or sentences, so as to declare an opinion,- I did not fail to make him at length understand, that I felt how it was to his humanity and undeserved friendship, I owed my deliverance. He impatiently listened to what I had to say, more than once breaking in with somewhat to the jailor, who was at the same time busy in knocking off my chains. Both these offices were, however, at length completed, and we sallied forth from the prison into the light of day and the busy crowds of men.

I now had time to ask Zeno after the events which had followed the tumult of that Sabbath day. It was but little he had to say in reply. The Jews were completely routed and dispersed. When they found that to contend longer was useless, they gave way in all directions, and made for the security of their homes. Almost all in this manner escaped from the Roman soldiery; some, however, were seized and cast into prison,-a part of whom had already perished by cruel and lingering deaths. Upon inquiring after the mother of Anna and Philip, and what had befallen her, Zeno replied that no sooner was the work of destruction at the Synagogue completed, than the Greeks in a crowd, joined by many of the Roman soldiery, made for her dwelling and soon razed it to the ground, destroying also the walls of the garden, and whatever else there was on which they could lay their rude and violent hands. The widow herself, knowing in season of the intended assault, was concealed in the dwelling of a friend, and soon as the city became calm again, disguising herself, fled for the dominions of Herod.

I now yielded to the hospitable importunity of Zeno, and accompanied him to his house. This truly it was necessary for me to do, whether it liked me or not, for with the dwelling of the wine merchant had been destroyed all that which it contained; so that I could do no otherwise than take shelter beneath some friendly roof, till I should be able to repair my losses. And this too must be done with speed; for, although Zeno had used all his eloquence to that end, he could obtain for me only till the following morning to make such preparations as should be needful, in order to my departure and journey. Through the ready aid afforded by the Greek these preparations were soon completed, and before the sun had left his bed, on the day succeeding that of my deliverance, I bade farewell to Cæsarea, and through its southern gate took my way into the surrounding country. A single camel was sufficient for such things as I desired to take with me, committed to the charge of his driver, a Jew of Cæsarea, well commended to me by Zeno for his knowledge of the road and his honesty. Zeno would not allow me to depart alone, but must needs, notwithstanding all the dissuasion I dared to use, accompany me a part of the way. Soon as the city gates were opened therefore we issued forth, plunging at once into the hilly region which stretches to the south of Cæsarea. I had left the particular direction we should take to Zeno, being wholly ignorant, as you may suppose, my mother, of the country I was about to traverse, except that I had a general notion of the quarters where lay the Jordan, the Salt Sea, and Jerusalem.

It was with no little satisfaction that, after a scene of so much violence as had lately passed in Cæsarea, and events that had ended so disastrously to persons for whom, though known but for so short a period, I had conceived a sincere friendship, I found myself once more surrounded by nature alone, which is ever at peace. All sights and sounds at this early hour of the day, and this calm season of the year, were such as gave rise to healing thoughts. I had had enough and more than enough, for once, of what I have ever loved so well, strife and uproar; and I greeted with a real and hearty welcome the new world into which I was now entering. The air was still, the earliest rays of the sun were just lighting up the highest peaks of Mount Carmel, a few clouds lay sleeping in the East, a peasant now and then, with his loaded mule or camel, passed us on his way to the markets of the Roman capital, while others were just emerging from their dwellings to commence the labour of the day, these and the like objects were now before and around me, and I confess I found it to be no unwelcome change after the days spent at Cæsarea. I rode on at first silently enjoying my new existence, without a thought of my companion, or of the way we were going; and as a thing truly worthy of admiration, Zeno interrupted

« PreviousContinue »