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into his bench and peacefully slept in the sight of all men, including the rulers of the synagogue.
So was it twice on every Sabbath, and once on Monday and on Wednesday. And Simon and Amahnah went back, each time, together, unto their own dear home.
O little home at Bethlehem, happy Bethlehem! Little nest of love and joy and peace, where season after season, for a time, brought only well-loved changes! Yet Simon longed for greater and ever greater learning in the Law-though yet, in his heart, he remained a priest and Sadducee.
A PUPIL OF PARUSH, THE PECULIAR AMAHNAH bore unto Simon twins.
On a day, said Simon to his wife: “I will name these children 'Rufus' and 'Alexander.'
“But those names be Latin and Greek,” said she.
“What, then, am I?” he answered, "Pharisee or Sadducee?" (Whereby it would appear that Simon was still a Sadducee-for the Sadducees were friendly unto the Greeks, also, in a way, to the Latins—though not unto Roman rule.)
“Thou shouldst be of spiritual Israel, dear husband, neither officialist nor formalist. Take, therefore, the names of thy children out of the old Hebrew, the language of Jehovah. Let the names be 'Simkah' and 'Gheel,' 'Cheerfulness' and 'Joy.' For behold have I not brought unto thee both Joy and Cheerfulness ?”
“Thou hast indeed," said Simon, and kissed her tenderly. “Yet, O Amahnah, my heart is set on this thing. I will name my children Rufus and Alexander.'
Amahnah wept. But she said, at length: “In any case, I should be, in part, satisfied. For ‘Rufus' is 'Red.' And red is the color, not only of sin and of blood, but also of self-sacrifice and joy. And ‘Alexander,' it meaneth ‘A Helper of Men.' And what is cheerful. ness indeed but man's greatest helper here on earth ?”
So the children were called, as the husband would, “Rufus" and " Alexander.'
But ever, in the secret heart of Amahnah, they were “Joy" and “Cheerfulness."
Now, as Rufus and Alexander the children throve mightily with all the months and years. And Simon's heart was full of gladness
and gratitude unto God for his two sweet sons. He sang the whole day long among the sheep at Migdal Eder. Then, by night, pillowed in the bosom of his family, he slept, and, like Jacob-Israel of old, dreamed often of angels and God. But Amahnah, was sometimes gently sorrowful (being more prophetic in her nature than even her God-filled husband was), and, when Simon saith unto her, “Why dost thou grieve, my little Rose of Sharon ?" then saith she, "O my Lion and my Strength, I grieve over naught, being fond and foolish, and thou wilt be sore angry with me. But ever I have a feeling of unspeakable disaster that is yet to come upon us. I am much afeard, O Husband, I am much afeard."
He kissed away her dim forebodings, and, taking his shepherd's pipe in hand, played. Then danced Amahnah, and both her children with her.
And when he had finished, said Simon: “I am glad that thou dost wear thy raiment ever in blue.”
“And why, O my Tower?”
“Is not blue the color of the covenant? And thou, art thou not my covenant? even as thy name doth signify?”
And she, seeing the look upon his face, ran unto him, and kissed him yet again, and was very glad because of all these simple things.
And they put their children to the village school in the synagogue, under the guidance of the gray-beard Chazzan of Bethlehem.
And Simon said unto the Chazzan, “Teach my boys, I pray thee, all the little rules thou knowest about the Law. Show unto them the hedge which is round the Scripture." But Amahnah said unto him, “Teach our boys at least the love of the Lord and of justice and truth."
And the children grew not merely in stature, but also in understanding, so that, on a day, Amahnah said unto her husband: "Our sons, are they not far more like unto me than unto thee? Are they not of my bone much more than of thine, and also of my blood ? Have not I suckled them hourly, the which thou hast never done and couldst not?" Yet, at another time, said she: “Our sons, are they not of thee alone, and show they not thy two great sides—both commerce and the Law ?"
He laughed at her foolish thought. “I have,” saith he, “no side for bartering, but am wholly of the Temple and the synagogue—the priesthood and the Law, and also” (here he kissed her) “wholly thy husband and my dear children's father.”
But she would not have it thus. “I have seen thy trading in thee these several years," saith she, “though thou dost ever seek to cloak
that part of thee down out of sight both of me and of all men. Each time, when thou dost return from Jerusalem, hast thou (tell me) more or less than thou didst go with hence? And have we not our home and yet three other homes ?-But the children! Rufus-the Lord be merciful unto him-he is all for business, even as is the part of thee whereof I speak. And Alexander, he is altogether for the Law, even as is another part of one I know. Hast thou not heard the Chazzan declare he hath never beheld a child that seeth into the Law so deeply? And all that the child acquireth he remembereth. But Rufus, he learneth nothing at all, save only the computations. And I have noticed of a morning when he setteth out for school, that he hath, by way of custom, just one fig together with two clay camels. Yet see! When he returneth at the close of day, he hath two figs and a whole caravan. And he hath eaten several figs. Ah Simon! thy children do illuminate the several sides of thee."
And Amahnah, with her marble face and violet eyes and long silken lashes and her bright robe of deep sky blue, was more than ever as a priceless gem in the eyes of Simon of Cyrene.
At least until she saith, "O husband, Simon, hast thou never noticed also that thy children have thy night-black eyes, with all their unspeakable sadness both of things that are gone and things that are yet to come—and the latter by far the more numerous and more plain to be looked at?"
Whereat Simon would say, with a little anger: “Let be. We are happy; there shall come no changes. Wilt thou turn foolish, and become a melancholy prophetess?"
And he would call his children unto him, and question them fully, as about the Abodah Sarah, saying (for the ensample of a single afternoon) :
“Thou, Rufus, answer me straight. How many be the Sedarim of the oral law 9"
Then said Simon, "Thou, Rufus, once again. What are the titles of the Seder Moed?"
"Nay, I know them not, O Father."
But Alexander gave them quickly, and modestly withal and in a low tone.
Then quoth the father, “Here is a blessed question, Rufus, which
I know thou canst answer. What are the titles of the Seder Neskin'
Then arose Rufus from the place where he had been arranging a long, well-laden caravan of clay camels, and came and placed his hands upon his father's knees, and looked into his eyes earnestly. “That,” said he, "is the book on Damages, and I do know it by heart. And these are the titles of that book, O Father. "The First Gate' (so-called because the law is often administered in the gateway of a city). "The Middle Gate,' which treats of the laws of tenant and of landlord, of letting out to hire, of trusts, of usury-of which I intend to have much."
“Son, Son! Art thou not a good Jew, O Son?”
“For that very reason, O Father, do I intend this thing. A Jew hath not the power of the sword—so saith the Chazzan. I, then, mean to have full power of usury and of wealth, and for this very reason, indeed, that I am a Jew."
Now there was something in the answer which, strangely enough, did not wholly displeasure Simon of Cyrene. Simon pondered a little on this thing. Then quoth he, “Dost thou not know that the Sopherim declare 'The usurer biteth a piece off from
for he takes from him that which he hath not given him'?”
“Then, at least, O Father, I will be a merchant. Grant me that, and let me go back to my caravan.”
“Knowest thou not, O red-head son, that the Sopherim declare, “Wisdom is not beyond the sea'—that is, that it is not to be found among traders or among merchants, but only among scholars?"
“Let my brother, Alexander, be a scholar, if he will,” replied Rufus testily.-"And title three is The Last Gate.' It treateth of the laws of commerce and co-partnership, of buying and selling, of the law of inheritance and the right of succession. Tell me, O my Father, was not I born before my brother, Alexander ?"
"Nay, my son," quoth Simon, shaking his head in fondest reminiscence, “but thy brother was born before thee. A thread was placed about his wrist, for that we might not later be mistaken."
Then said Rufus, with an air of great justice: “I believe that all inheritances should be divided among brothers evenly. Why should a man have a double portion of his father's estate, only for this that first he did enter the world? Is there merit in his doing so? Answer me, my Father. Nay, there is not any merit therein at all.-And the fourth of the titles is 'The Sanhedrim.' The fifth is ‘Stripes.' 'Oaths' is the sixth. The seventh is ‘Evidences.' The remaining three are 'The Fathers,' 'Punishment' and—I believe— Idolatry'.”
“What is the name of the Massikha on 'Idolatry'?"
"Give me the first of the Mishnayoth that come in Abodah Sarah."
“Three days before the feasts of idolaters it is not permitted to transact business with them, to lend to them, or to borrow from them, either to make a loan of money to them or to borrow money from them, to repay them or even to take payment from them.”
Then went Alexander, he of the Greekish countenance and the thoughtful ways, into a long, rambling Gemara on the simple, straightforward Mishna. But Rufus, he of the Roman features and the reddish head, drifted back to his straining camels and thrice profitable barterings. And his caravan of clay was miles and miles into the imaginary desert which ran before his father's doorway, or ere the studious Alexander had finished the first Gemara on Idols.
“And you, the dear children of my heart," said then Simon of Cyrene, “will ye not promise me, both of you, that never, so long as life shall bubble in your veins, will ye stoop to commit idolatry?”
“I promise," said stoutly Alexander. “And I will keep from idolatry by a thorough knowledge of the Law. I will hedge me about, even as Parush in Jerusalem is hedged about, with the high protection of both the first and second Law. But the greater of these is the second, for it stands not written."
“And I," said Rufus, a camel in his hand, “I will keep my thoughts too busy with my caravans and my profits for to let into my mind one single little thought about idolatry. I will worship money: there shall be for me therefore no graven image possible.' “And I,” said Alexander, more earnestly still, "I will worship the Law. If thou shalt worship caravans, then I will worship the Law.”
And Simon marveled that he could not find it in his heart to rebuke any further the little Rufus. As for Alexander, he doted on him, and marveled not that he could not anywise rebuke him.
So he said to each of his children, only: “My children, do ye love me?”
They said, “We do love thee, Father. And if ever a fierce misfortune should come upon thee, we could not endure it, but should surely die."
Oh delicious words of tenderness! And happy, happy hours spent with Leah and the little children! Simon never forgot those moments,