« AnteriorContinuar »
The Greek said unto him, “What is sin! Be thou clear. And who (as I have already asked thee) is this Adonai?”
Then remembered Samson that, in his dream, he was to be a monument unto the world, and he said: “Very well. I will tell thee of Adonai and of sin. But first I would have thee tell me more precisely as to who thou art, for thou hast told me not much."
And at this there came from the backward portions of the caravan a number of noisy men, who passed the Greek and the Jew, singing, for the most part, of a certain king that had fallen because of his very strength. And some of the riders, who had just taken torches up, lighted their lights at the Greek's, and went on far ahead into the sad, mysterious reaches of the infinite-seeming desert, still singing. And some of the roysterers laughed at the song, while others (but not many) were high sorrowful.
Then the Greek frowned for a moment, thinking of the words of Samson. But he again smiled, and said: “It is well enough: I will tell thee. I am not wholly Greek—though many do not know that. I have both Babylonian and Egyptian blood within me. A certain Cecrops was mine ancestor. He, an Egyptian, yet with a Babylonian father, came into Hellas many aeons since, founding there Cecropia, which was afterwards made the citadel of Athens. Also the Phrygian Pelops is one of mine ancestors : progenitor he both of Agamemnon and of Menelaus. He settled in the South, and after him was named the Peloponnesus, isle of Pelops. My mother was a Doris-not much poetry or music about her, but a woman very practical. Ah, she could manage! My father was Ionicus, a many-sided and imaginative man. How well I remember him—beautiful as the morning: a poet, a philosopher, a musician. Some people say that I sing a little like him. I am, at all events, a mixture of my mother and my father. The two do struggle in me, the poet and the merchant-manager. For the rest: I have stood upon the sand before great Cæsar. I have struggled with all the world but Cæsar."
“And why,” said Solomon, “hast thou not struggled with Cæsar also ?”
At this the Greek was silent for a time. Then said he, “Because it is useless and unbeautiful to struggle against the Lord of All This World. Let us adjust ourselves to indomitable powers, making sweet harmonies with them. There was once a teacher, named PeLesetau—"
“Pe-Lesetau!' “Pe-Lesetau. Knowest thou him?" “I knew him whenas I was a captive in the Great Oasis of the
South. Little I learned from that man, for, in his time, I was, in his country (as I have already said to thee) a poor captive, alone. He is very aged, Pe-Lesetau."
“Very aged, and also for any but little children) very useless as a teacher. So he was, even in his prime. Rightly is he named Pe-Lesetau—The-Gate-of-the-Passage. He is only for beginners: his knowledge, though exact, is small in quantity."
“But thine," said Samson of Cyrene, “is very great. Even as was Pe-Lesetau, so art thou named truly, for thou art 'The Bearer of the Light.'"
The Athenian looked the Jew in his dark, earnest eyes with much steadfastness, and seeing there but love and reverence, he said: “I am greatly beholden unto thee, O Jew. But more I should be thy debtor wouldst thou explain unto me now what sin is, also who is Adonai."
Then said Samson, “I will do this thing, for I had a dream last night-believest thou in dreams?”
“Yea. There are some dreams that are wholly supernatural, if others that are naught. Yet in any dream at all the feelings and the thoughts of the present hours are ofttimes suppressed. Then riddle-like shadows, the deep symbols of the future, go stealing through the chambers of the soul, preparing, warning, comforting, or as it sometimes happeneth, merely deceiving. Dreams are much like other folk, so, though they sometimes lie, they oftener tell truth."
“But Adonai lieth not,” said the Jew. “Oh Adonai, Adonai, Adonai! Thou spakest to me last night as I lay in my father's tomb. Thou saidest, 'Be not wholly downcast, Solomon. Thou shalt serve me as a lofty statue, for I know thy toughness and thy strength. And behold I will chisel thee twice, the first time roughly and the second exceeding fine. And when I have no further
And when I have no further need of thee, I will break thee and yet keep thee.'”
“Said that some god ?”
Now, at this, there came up furiously from the rear of the caravan a Roman soldier on a foaming red horse. And he cried, “Lampadephorus! Lord!" reining his steed so suddenly that the beast was nigh unto sitting backward in the sand.
Then gave the soldier unto Lampadephorus a little scroll. The
which, when the Greek had broken the seal, he read with feverish haste. Said he unto the soldier, “Tell thy Master there is not now any word for him.-What is new at Apollonia ?”
“Naught, I believe, O Lampadephorus,” said the soldier, “except that the Sirius from Sardinia hath arrived in port, while the Poseidon cleared for Lindus and other harbors in Rhodes, and the old Megasthenes for Alexandria. On the latter was a man with a gaping wound in his temple, for one in a pasture near Cyrene had thought to murder him.”
“The wounded man's name?” “I know not. But the giver of the blow was called—was called " Now the heart of Samson rose into his mouth.
“His name was called," replied the soldier, “Oh! SamsonSolomon, of Cyrene."
“Thou liest,” cried the Greek. "I gave that blow. And so shall I do to thee also, so be thou dost report it otherwise. Tell it to thy captain.” Then, in a milder tone: “I pray thee, in this matter haste."
The horseman sped back into the darkness, while Lampadephorus re-read his tiny scroll, and yet again re-read it, and was very grave and strait of countenance.
But the heart of the Jew was filled with a glorious thanksgiving unto Adonai, because the blow which he had stricken on the temple of Trivialis had not been mortal. He cried out in his soul, after David:
Then said he unto Lampadephorus, "I am going home.”
"Now-this moment. He did address himself as though he would return to Cyrene.
“The lions and the leopards! Thy bones! The vultures!”
"No matter, I must be about my father's business. There are many sheep."
Then took Lampadephorus the hand of the boy within his own, and he said: “Trivialis is not dead, as thou didst hear. Wilt thou suffer that he shall escape thee wholly! For see! He hath gone unto Alexandria. And there he will be safe if thou follow him not. But go thou with me unto Crocodilopolis (for thither I do go) and later thou mayest on to Alexandria, there to take thee thy revenge.”
But Samson said unto him, “I must return. Yet will I go a little distance further upon thy way with thee, for I am loath to separate from thee. And all the more for this, that thou art very sad since the soldier that was on the horse did give thee a little scroll and thou didst read it. Nay, shake not thy head. I read thee as easily as thou didst read the scroll.'
Said then Lampadephorus, “Fear nothing. I am a servant of Caesar, and all that do serve the Prince of the World must be at times sad. And if, on a day, I perish— See! my life it hath been very beautiful, and I have greatly rejoiced in it.”
And Samson of Cyrene did love the man even more than ever, for that he saw him in a trouble. He said to him, “I hate Cæsar for thy sake."
He went round unto the left of Lampadephorus, declaring: “I will walk beside thee on the left side only, for that is the side where thy heart is. And there will I walk beside thee all the way that I will walk with thee. Even as Abraham, my people's ancestor, was a friend unto Abimelech, and Naomi unto Ruth, and the High Priest at Jerusalem unto Alexander, so will I be a friend to thee."
The Greek was touched in his heart by the boy's devotion. He smiled up at him, saying: “Let us be friends, truly, and rejoice. For behold, the Greek and the Jew they are sojourners everywhere among foreigners (which be foes unto them) for evermore."
... But Trivialis and his red-nose friend, Dissolutio, they twain sat in the shadow of a great sail, shaking dice and counting one another's money.
And Dissolutio looked in the way in which they were going, and saith then unto his haggard companion: “Behold! Yonder is Rhodes. We shall soon drive into the harbor.” And he sent for yet more wine, saying: “Or ere we part, O noble companion, I would drink thy name”—which is the same as to say "drink as many cups as thy name containeth letters."
Trivialis saith unto him, “It is well enough. For who is there that is like unto us for profitable entertainment, inasmuch as, gaming the several weeks away, we have quit, each, with even as many drachmae as he started withal, neither one farthing less nor yet one farthing more?-But thou hast indeed the stone which I received from my master, Shem."
And when he, in company with Dissolutio, had drunken as many cups as there were letters in his name, then said he: “Now we will drink thine own name also, O most excellent Dissolutio, for that is but fair and well-balanced.”
And when both of the names had thus been thoroughly drunken, they twain fell upon each other's necks and vowed eternal fidelity, and promised to remember each the other, though the wide seas them parted.
But, being got upon the quay, they fell on each other's necks again, and again vowed friendship, and again and yet again, till at length the one said unto the other: “Why, when we be such friends, should we part at all? Let us go our ways together, and make them twain but one.
So they agreed they would do this.
And they went and took up their inn at a place of mere rioting, which pretended to be a caupona. Here they slept for an hour, the twain in one cubiculum.
Then went they back to the common room, where a great crowd was that much desired to play with any comers.
And here, when he had drunk his fill, it came into the mind of Trivialis (and was probably put there by Satan) that he ought in all conscience to spread in this crowd a little of the knowledge of the one and only God, even Elohim, for that he, Trivialis, had had a certain advantage in matters of religion from his long acquaintance with Shem and with Samson-Solomon and also with the Chazzan, and even Amahnah, which is also Berith and Machashebethel.
And he called out, very maudlin, so that all arose that they should find out the matter. "Hearken,” he cried. “And hearken, and hearken yet once again, 0 ye peoples of every nation, for I that was servant unto Ignorantia, but am now a free man, I do declare to you that which ye all should know, as namely, the knowledge of the one God, even Jehovah." Some laughed, saying: “Whereof doth he speak?” Others also
' laughed, but yet understood. “He hath learned religion of a certain Shem, also of his son, a wisely-foolish Solomon, and now he would instruct us, his betters, believing us 'lost,' as he calleth it, because of 'sin.' And there were those who said unto him (that they might make jests) “What think ye of idolatry?”
He began to say to them that which, truly, he did believe concerning idolatry, how that, for an ensample, it enslaveth and de