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CHAPTER XVII

SIMON OF CYRENE

The people went back to their places.

Then Gillul, priestess of Dusares, came hither again, and, taking a goblet of rich old wine, offered it to the Jew, saying: “Drink, and become as one with him we worship in the stone. Thou needest not to renounce Adonai."

But he would not drink, saying: “Let me first kill Trivialis. Then will I drink either unto thee or unto Hell.”

So she said, “See! How little it is thou wilt do for me and for Dusares ! But I-behold thou me."

She threw her garments off. Even to perfect nakedness cast she

them away.

And she ran to an elevated platform, and there, in honor of Dusares, danced and danced again.

And the people shouted wild acclaim. And Samson of Cyrene looked upon her grace with gladness.

But she, beholding, danced as never woman danced before, crying : “Is not my religion quite as good as thine, and any religion whatsoever quite as good as any other!"

And all the congregation cast their clothes aside, and wildly shrieked, and danced also.

But when the priestess had left off dancing, she came and stood anigh the Jew, gazing upon that man with eyes full of ancient dreams.

And a swift fire ran about his body, his nostrils dilated, a wide roaring filled his ears. He reached his mighty arms out unto her.

But she pushed him back, crying: “Not till thou hast drunken. Little wilt thou do either for me or for Dusares, thou Jew." And she took and offered him wine a second time.

a He drank.

She offered him yet another goblet. But he said, What! Shall a Jew become a-drunken? By the splendor of Jehovah— By my very people"

The air began to grow sluggish, to turn thick, to be a mere suffocating power. All that passed about him was floating into a dream. As he knew that he was falling, he struggled into great repentance, thinking dimly: “Lord, let me live, that I may punish many evil-doers, and fall no more from thy righteousness." But he knew not truly when he fell.

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And she had a number of strong men carry the body aside. And she accompanied it.

Then gloated she above it, saying: Thou, therefore, which would teach many nations, teach thou thyself. Professing to be wise, thou hast become a fool."

She jerked the locket from his neck, crying: “Ophidion, at length I have secured for thee the precious theca thou hast so long desired.”

Came in her mind an image of Ophidion, the only man which held in his grip her heart. But also she was glad in her soul that a god of her own country had come to triumph in this matter. “Thou, Ophidion, great and bright and beautiful as thou art, and in every way admirable, thou hast yet no pride at all in Petra, as have I. Thou art too much of the world at large-so much of space thou needest for the play of thy great abilities.—But, though I triumph with the triumph of my country's god, yet thou alone it is I worship, not Dusares. With all my blood and all my bones I worship thee, as doth Dusares him that is thy master, even Satan."

Now, all this while Ophidion was in a corner of far-off Spain, laughing at the love which Gillul bore unto him, and swearing by all the blood which had ever been shed on the stone of Dusares, that he would use this woman to his advantage. “And when I have done with her, I will cast her away, and she shall be unto me only laughter and a by-word.”

But Gillul took the locket from the sleeping Jew, and having long endeavored with it, opened it.

But behold, there were no pearls contained in it at all. Whereat she raged for a long time, vainly.

Yet she found in the locket a little parchment, rolled up in a very tiny scroll. And having unrolled the scroll, she first beheld the genealogy of the Jew, and, after that, these words: “The rightful name of the bearer of this locket, it is therefore Samson, which is also Solomon, for behold he is a marvel both of bodily strength and endurance and also of wisdom and of peace. And he is truly entitled to the priesthood at Jerusalem."

And she hid the parchment in her own bosom, laughing scornfully, and saying: “Ophidion, I will do much better than merely to send the locket and the parchment unto thee. I will also fool the Jew."

She wrote therefore on another piece of parchment (and without any genealogy): “The rightful name of the bearer of this locket, it is Simon (or 'favorable hearing'). For behold, he hath given his favors freely to priestesses both of adultery and of blood. He is therefore nowise entitled to the priesthood at Jerusalem."

Then rolled she the newer parchment into a scroll, as it were the old one, and placed it in the locket, and closed the locket tight again, and placed the chain thereof about the neck of Samson-so that, haply, he, finding the locket still upon his bosom when he again awoke, might fondle it and be satisfied.

CHAPTER XVIII

ABADDONE

On the morning of the morrow, Samson, awakening, attempted to rise. But his limbs were weak and weary. He lay at a little distance from Petra, in a wilderness of rocks.

Then he remembered all that had happened till he had drunken the wine.

Said he, "Accursed be idolatry forevermore. Accursed be all worshippers of beasts and of stones and of images, and doers of all manner of uncleanness and of murder in the names of gods. Accursed be ye and your iniquities, all of you. Accursed be idolatry forever, and all that have to do with it, world without end."

After a time he managed to rise, yet fared but a little distance, and, for the weakness of his limbs, fell down into the shadow of a mighty rock, where, once more, he slept, and sorrowfully dreamed.

And he thought (as he dreamed) that he sate again on the rock before the house of Gillul. The horn sounded. She gat her up to go unto the High Place of Dusares. But Samson, not arising, said unto her: “Hold! I do remember that, in the weary hours of sleep last night I dreamed a dream as concerning my father's steward, Trivialis. I dreamed, and behold I thought that the man had attempted to rob me as I lay on my couch, courting slumber. I believed he had taken the locket which thou dost see upon my breast, and in which are the sure credentials of my priesthood. So I quickly rose, and smote him that he fell. Dying, cried he: "Forgive.'

And behold! as I sought to open the poor clasped fingers, they held no locket, but only a venomous serpent which truly it was that the steward of my father had taken from my breast.”

'Twas but a dream,” saith Gillul.

Aye, but there is ofttime truth in visions. For when the soul, slumbering, beginneth to play with the long day's relics of reality-'

Then brake she in upon him, "Art thou a fool? What would

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Philostephanus say? or, better, that bright-haired Lampadephorus whom thou didst weep for just without the hills of Petra? Would he not have declared"

But Solomon cried, “Let us go."
So they rose and went.

And over and over again he dreamed this weary and untrue dream-a dream in which he should have followed the promptings of yet another dream, but did not so.

And once again he awoke. And first he gat him on his knees, then on his feet.

And he saw Jeezer, that helpless man of God, approaching. And Samson, when he saw the prophet, was wroth, and said unto him: What have I to do with thee, begetter of evil intention? Get hence. 'Twas thou that didst awaken in me the wish to behold Dusares. For the more I desire to behold the Lord, the more my heart inclineth to idolatry.

Said the Rabbi unto him, “Woe unto me when a man I love shall call me a begetter of evil intention, and shall make me the cause of his unrighteousness. Why hast thou not Amahnah with thee! Thou shouldst then be free from idolatry altogether."

Samson thereupon gathered together stones, and began to stone the holy man, so that Jeezer was fain to flee for his life. Which he did, and cried : “Lord, Lord! He is a priest, and yet will not hear

: thy voice by me. If thou thyself wouldst only come!”

But Samson of Cyrene, the unhappy scroll-bearer, shook the dust of Petra from his sandals, and departed straightway into the desert, following for a time the wake of caravans, and afterwards going quite alone.

And having lifted up his feet for many days, he came to Hebron, which is in the Land. There he abode at an inn.

And awakening on the morrow, he set off toward Jerusalem, being a-minded to present his credentials to the High Priest.

But coming, after a time, upon a fellow of jovial appearance, he said in his heart: “Behold! this man seemeth pleasant enough. I will accost him, and, so be he will have me, become his companion.”

He cryeth to the man, “Hail there, companion of the agreeable smile. My name is Samson-Solomon, of Cyrene. Thine?”

It is Kakón Hypómnema," said the fellow, who embraced and kissed him speedily.

Thereupon they twain fell into talk. And when they had got but a few miles, behold! each was relating to the other the delights of

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idolatry. At length there came upon Samson such a desire for heathen loves as he had never experienced before. Quoth he, “Oh for once again a sight of such a woman as Gillul or Emah! Oh that I. right indeed be wedded unto such perpetually!”

Said Kakón Hypómnema, “Thou art the bird for a good net. I will show thee my sister, Abaddone, and, so be that ye like each other, ye may, for my part, become espoused.”

Samson, forgetting that he was on his way to the High Priest, challenged him: "Show me thy sister."

Hypomnema, thereupon, took him a great distance out of his way, along a crooked lane which wandered among steep cliffs and pitfalls.

And Samson went to the house of Kakón Hypomnema, and beheld Abaddone, And he tarried with them twain.

And, on a later day, he learned that the man was by no means a Greek-for all his high-sounding names—but a Hebrew, and that his rightful appellation was “Shikkuts," or "Filth,” even as that

“ of his sister was “Abaddone." Now both these people were secretly idolaters, worshippers of Baal.

And Samson-Solomon labored with Shikkuts in his fields for small wages. This he did for that he coveted the slattern sister of that man.

And Abaddone needed not to lay court unto Samson, as Emah and Gillul had had to do. For Samson studied the woman ardently, and solicited her, and won her, and took her for his wife.

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