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heathen. The sheep were needed by them for their sacrifices. I soldthey paid-1-1-"
“Stammer not, idolatrous old man." "Idolatrous!”
“It is the very word. And now thou comest to me for protection. Well, I will see, on thy behalf, the ethnarch, that all thy doings on this day may be cleared of a charge. But, hearken!”
“I hear, 0 reverend keeper of the synagogue, but listen—"
"Interrupt me not. Tell me of thy steward and thy son. First, thy steward. Didst thou not send him on a black mission of revenge?”
“Not of blood, not of blood.” “But yet of revenge.'
“How thou dost know these things I cannot clearly conceive. I cannot-"
“Revenge and hate, and only because one did outsell thee in the sheep market. What of the Sopherim now, Shem ben-Adam?”
“I must go seek that steward. With thy permission-"
“Depart not, but listen. What an ensample hast thou set for thy steward, what ensample yet again for thy son!”
“Sh-h-h! he cannot know-the son, the son. He knoweth nothing.
“Wilt ever interrupt! Is it for this, a perpetual breaking in, that the Lord, by the mouth of myself, hath informed thee, many a time and bitter, that the ways of idolatry are not as the ways of peace? Have we not indeed, both the Lord and I, shown unto thee those things with infinite patience and great suffering? How longor rather is it well to talk with thee at all? Go into peace-but stop. Thy son. Hast thou reflected that, as yet, thou hast not lighted on a perfect name for him! What is his name?"
“I call him sometimes Samson and sometimes Solomon. These, surely, are great names, O Chazzan. None better, none better. And, as for his having two names, was not Israel himself both Israel and Jacob-sometimes even Jacob-Israel? And behold! the very country of which this city is the capital, is it not sometimes called Cyrenaica, sometimes Pentapolis ?”
“Knowest thou not that, among our people, importance attacheth to the meaning of a name, so that, often, as a son doth come to manhood, his name is many times altered, even wholly set aside, so that ever the name may be to the person fitting! A name doth not signify naught. Choose therefore, and soon. Say whether ye will always have him called Samson, or whether always Solomon. I have thought much about thy son. Is he merely a man of bones and strength? If no, then why not solely call him Solomon?”
“He is, O Chazzan, both so strong and enduring (thou wouldst not believe how enduring he is) and yet too so wise that, as far as he is grown, I have not been able to choose for him either the one name or the other."
“Just, O vacillating old man, as thou hast never been able to choose between the mere frauds and ignorant devices of the heathen on the one hand, and the Lord thy God, who is El-Shaddai, on the other."
“Take, as yet, no oath, but give more earnest heed to the things that still I have to tell thee. Know ye not that, even more than ever, the scornful finger of the Gentiles is pointed at us! The Romans make the ciconia, the Greeks ask if Messiah is not yet come, and the Berbers grunt at us or make sharp squeals like swine. Why is this?”
“It is for that we are followers of Elohim."
"It is for that we have backslidden, and, as we ourselves fail at the religion of El-Shaddai, so the heathen do not in any wise respect us for that religion. They will spit in our faces soon."
“In our faces. I have sinned.'
“Thou hast sinned. Now hearken unto me, for else thou art lost in body and soul. Give up the ways of the heathen, leave those people for thine own. Obey the Almighty. Thou hast not forgotten. Obey. Remember His dictates. Let be the sacred women that hang about the purlieus of Aphrodite. Keep far away from them. Keep also far from the followers of Moloch. Keep far from all idolaters. Let the sons of tumult get their sheep from any that will sell to them, but not from thee. Sell thou in the public sheepmarket only. And once again listen!”
“I listen. I listen, O Betah, man of God.”
“Then say unto me of a surety whether or not thou 'It do these things I have asked. Swear that never again wilt thou be caught among the heathen temples of a night. Swear."
"Swear that never again wilt thou be caught among the burners of the flesh of children. Swear.'
“Swear that never again wilt thou consort with women that hang about the temples—those vile prostitutes. Swear.”
“I swear, O Betah."
“Swear, last of all, that never again wilt thou permit thy steward or thy son, that they may do any of these things, and that never hereafter, so long as thou shalt live, wilt thou dispatch thy steward, or any in the place of him (contrary to that which now thou intendest) on any mission to the ruin or the harming of thy fellow man.”
Shem looked up quickly, wide-eyed, letting his big staff fall. “How knowest thou?"
“I know only thee, thy past. It telleth the future. Swear.”
Shem gazed full in the Chazzan's eyes, beginning to think of indignant things to say to him, but the beauty and the awful majesty which sate on Betah's countenance were like as an ordering angel unto the Jew, and all the high rebellion of the sinner's proud heart was quickly crushed and held strongly downward, as if by the weight of a mighty millstone.
“Then keep thine oath. So let us all do, we that are children of Israel. Then shall we see, on a day, Him that is sent of the Father, and know from His lips the secret of eternal life.”
Now, even as Betah spake, there chanced to pass by a man of the Nations which was called Vectis—for many a mighty thing hath happened by chance, which is God. And Vectis heard but these five words—the secret of eternal life." Yet the mighty syllables took
" hold and moved him, so that he said: “Behold, I shall soon die (being old) and go down into the dust, and I fain would know the secret of life eternal."
He went to a wine-shop near the Temple to the Unknown. God, where Ophidion had murdered a man.
He grew more and more sad, because he knew not the secret of eternal life.
Another, coming in, sate beside him, ordered and drank. Soon said he to Vectis, “Tell me thy name—thou lookest melancholy. My name is Rota, A Wheel."
Said Vectis, “My name is Vectis, A Lever. And I am sad because of a certain mystery which lately I have heard about, namely: "The Secret of Eternal Life.' Knowest thou that secret, Rota ?”
Rota, who had started to sing a ribald song, replied: "Nay, I do not.” His face became all at once sad, and he pondered deeply. The longer he pondered, the sadder he became. Then, “I should have thought about this thing long time before." He arose and went away, declaring: “I will speak with many men of wisdom; for lo, I am weary and anxious of heart, and I, too, would know the mystery of this matter.'
And, unlike Vectis, who soon forgot about the whole thing, Rota wandered very long and learned of many matters in many lands, and later (though he never knew that fact) became as a mighty hand for the preservation of Samson-Solomon, the son of Shem ben-Noah ben-Adam.
Meanwhile, Betah, man of God, still adjured old Shem, as the two stood before the synagogue: “Swear.”
“Yonder, then, in the place of gambling, is thy steward. Wait thou near in the shrubbery, and thou shalt see him, and not thyself go in. Remember thine oath.'
“I will remember. And when I have found my steward" He looked, being worn and weary with the terrors of the night, not at the tavern, but into the South, far in the way of his sheepfields. He forgot even the presence of the mighty Chazzan, and for this, that he thought only of his son—his son, whose ways, except for the time of a certain imprisonment, had been as the ways of peace.
OUT OF THE CAIN LIFE CALLED
PEACE indeed lay over the early morning fields and fastnesses of Cyrenaica. Even in the rock-bound fold where Samson (or Solomon) ben-Shem ben-Noah ben-Adam had slept the starlit night away, there appeared to be peace. And yet, at the side of the fold, without the thorny wall thereof, lay the carcase of a giant wolf, still stiffening and grinning hideously—a wolf which the hands of Samson-Solomon had torn asunder in the deep night and had flung in hottest hate without the walls. To attack his father's sheep! There had been no fear in the lad. He was solely anxious for his father's sheep. And now, arisen from light slumber, he dropped to his knees. “Adonai!” He could speak no further for a time. Then, “Elohim! I, who am Samson-Solomon, the son of Shem, do worship and adore thee. Hear, El-Shaddai! It is I, a shepherd lad of Cyrenaica who speaketh unto thee. It is I indeed. Thou that hast made the world, the sheep, my father and myself, I do adore thee, O Adonai! There is none like unto thee, from everlasting unto everlasting.” while he paused as if in a fever of agony, then he cried out, all of a sudden: "Idolatry! Keep me away from idolatry, O Lord, O God! From idols and all idolatry keep thou me far away."
He ran from his place, and tore his black hair and rent his strong inner garment, and beat his head against the stones that formed the sheepfold wall. And the sheep, because of the turmoil, and also
because they were very hungry, came bleating up around him, while, far behind, indifferent, the foul-smelling goats assembled.
When thus he beheld his flocks, he began to be more at peace, for he was concerned about them.
He went and took his great crook and wide scrip, and lifting from his breast his little shepherd's pipes, placed them to his now happy lips. How the little sheep skipped and danced! He loved the sheep. He loved also to pipe to the sheep.
He opened the gate of the fold, and went on out of the place, and, counting the sheep and the goats, each one as it came from the fold in its turn, he closed up the entrance, and again began to play upon his shepherd-pipes.
And, so playing, he led both the sheep and the goats in the way which they should go, calling from time to time in the intervals of his playing: “Here, Ringstrake! Here, Blackie! What do ye,
, O Flower of White and Almond Blossom? Spotty, Spotty! Hither, hither, Black-eye! Keep ye close beside me, else ye be lost!" He took the flock along a thin, winding path, which now and then vanished utterly, to reappear, natheless, and run, zigzag or winding, up hills with fearful rocky rims, then down again in dark manyrecessed ravines, and round about the borders of the meadow where poisonous grasses grew, silphium and the like. One of the paths led off to a hidden precipice. Another, to a neighboring vineyard.
a “What, Wanderers! will ye not be led? Will ye go indeed to the neighbor's vineyards and his fields, and so be forfeited, or will ye over the precipice and be slain! Once when I myself did wander, I was captured and sold to the King of the South. Listen to another of the instruments which I shall play—a harp which lately I have built for only you, and also to a song which only for you I have made."
He played upon his harp and sang sweet songs both of brooks and of happy meadows, but ever and again he closed with words of excellence about the Lord. So he came at length to a running stream.
The goats rushed up before the sheep, and drank at once their thirsty fill, but the sheep drank not, for that the water was running.
And he built a little dam at one side of the stream, formed there so a quiet pool, and all the sheep did come and drink of the still waters.
The shepherd delighted in the sheep, and he kept the goats from hurting them, and after a time he led them all far away, where excellent pasture was, and then, having taken from his scrip his bread and drink, and having eaten and drunken, he counted the sheep and