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Betah, that holy man, is dead. We have wept long for him. Thou shalt
By him I heard that men, in the market places, did say thou wast gone to Crocodilopolis. We shall be glad to see thee when thou dost return.
Meantime, I look after thy sheep.
I send thee honeys by the Rabbi Azrikam, at whose house I hear thou shalt abide.
When wilt thou return that we may once more see thee
And Samson lifted up his voice, and wept for the former prophet. And Azrikam, when he had heard, made lamentation also.
And Samson wrote an answer to Amahnah's letter, very delicate and thankful for the things she had done. And delivered it unto Azrikam.
But, even as he wrote, he thought not of Amahnah but of Emah.
For behold, in a single night, there are many things that may ripen in a young man's mind. And there came to the recollection of this young man certain caterpillars, which, in the folds of Cyrenaica, he had known of an evening, underneath a rock, to fall asleep within a drab cocoon, and yet, when the morning was arrived, to issue as things of unspeakable beauty-scarlet and purple and green, and the shiningest of gold and silver.
He said, “My love for Emah it is like unto one of these caterpil. lars, for it now hath burst its bondage. But behold I will not gaze upon this woman again, for I am a priest of Jehovah, and shall surely teach a lesson to the world."
But the Rabbi, or ere the young man went out into the street, embraced him and wept over him, saying again and yet again: “Thy strength-thy weakness."
At long length he let the young man go, for Samson said that he wished to see Lampadephorus, then to return unto Amahnah.
And as Samson passed along, he gave great alms and was high compassionate unto many, even unto them that had by their own countrymen been neglected. For such was the use and custom of his people everywhere, in whatsoever land or nation they might be sojourning.
He went to a temple school, whereof Lampadephorus had spoken. But Lampadephorus he found not. Returning to the street, he believed he glimpsed Ophidion. But the form, caught in a hurrying multitude, was swept from view.
By now, having come to the Street of the Sun and the Moon, Samson turned off northward, seeking if he might not in that wise reach to the docks, and so find Trivialis. For he still desired, because of
Lampadephorus, to lay heavy hands upon that man. But all about Samson was now even a greater rushing to and fro. And somewhat stirred within him which he could not understand, a yearning hidden in a thick cloud. This he had ofttimes felt before in the sheepfolds, when the mysterious angling caravans went by, either to or from the city, laden with who could say what wondrous merchandise. But now the yearning had grown. And it filled him later with a very great sadness.
When he had reached the quays, an enormous galley was just setting out for Rome, filled to the brim with beasts for Cæsar's amphitheatre. Another was coming down the current–a trireme, man-ofwar. Slowly the three long banks of rhythmic oars, moved by as many tiers of slaves, whose faces passed the portholes silently, rose up and fell again, while clear and strong within the vessel's sides, sounded the deep voice of the hortator and his heavy mallet. A pleasure galley slid out of a basin and on into the Nile. How her painted sails glided above the flat roofs of the houses !
Samson went to a spot where the captains of many ships did congregate, for he had not been wholly satisfied with the message of Lampadephorus. Here he asked concerning Trivialis. them, which had come from Apollonia, said: “Trivialis ? Trivialis ? Yea, I do remember such an one. He shipped at Apollonia, and hath gone on now to Joppa."
Samson inquireth of another (not being able to believe so much as these words), and that other said also: "He is gone to Joppa."
Then said Samson in his heart, turning with intent to go back to the Rabbi Azrikam's house: "I will follow. I will go to Joppa."
“Thou art wholly right,” said a whisper at his ear.
“Perchance thou art a prophet. Tell me, therefore, if thou canst, shall it ever come to pass that I shall slay mine enemy?”
“He shall die within thine arms, but not at Joppa."
“Yet to Joppa I will follow him. But tell me also where I may find the woman, Emah, she that is yet more beautiful even than Amahnah is.'
“I have seen no woman named Emah."
“Nay, but thou knowest her well. Thou didst take me unto her yesterday. Her nameEmah- Thou saidst—thou didst promise
“Yea, I do remember now. She awaiteth at yonder quay.' he saw a man passing, and turned and went after him.
But Samson went down to the quay.
Now the boat of Emah was a marvel of colors and gold. There were broad purple sails and bright bordered screens, and scarlet streamers flying from the rudder-pole and from the masts. Above the prow ran out a golden crocodile over the water, while, just below, at the vessel's side, the gleaming eye of Osiris stared perpetually with seductive meaning.
And the woman, when she beheld Samson, came unto him with outstretched arms, looking in his eyes most steadfastly. Said she, “Am I beautiful ?”
He declared, trembling: “Thou art beauty itself.”
She led him with her. And she asked: “Art thou alive, O priest of Adonai, and is it good to live?”
“It is good," said the boy, "to live. Wherever thou art, all is good.”
“Embark,” said she. As they entered the ship, it began, though imperceptibly, to glide away.
She brought him to the prow, while a soft, diaphanous music sounded, wherethrough there appeared, as he thought, the inmost imagery of the woman's soul. She, turning with a beautiful gesture and extending a seductive arm in the direction of the East, chanted : “In yonder innumerable mounts are countless millions. All are dead. They were once as thou and I are. But now they feel not the sun. The touch of the Etesian winds, it also is as nothing to them. Thou and I, we-still-live. Each moment of today is priceless with the infinite longing of our souls, if thou dost really live-and love. Tell me, dost thou live?"
"In the presence of thee, O spirit of the Nile," said Samson-Solomon, “my soul is as a living fire."
And she took him and led him (all the while by a music like unto a sweetly secret thing) to a place where the light reddened under billowing sails. And there she gave him to a couch that was as a summer's cloud-bank for the softness and the ease of it. She knelt beside him, and nestled her dark head in his bosom.
Then she rose, and, standing above him, gave friendly command. Luxurious forms came out of the curtained and betasselled spaces, and danced before them.
He leaped to his feet, crying aloud : “Adonai! Amahnah!”
But the Egyptian took him, and held him by the firmness of her will and the softness of her bosom, laughing and saying: “Not Amahnah, but Emah. Art thou affrighted, lovely boy, and only by a dancing! See! we are moving in the way to happiness, and we shall go on farther, even unto wisdom."
So they took the couch again.
And they moved along the Nile, which was full of sweet dreams. Samson heard the boatmen in their shallow vessels, singing as they passed: “Guard us from all evil, O great Osiris, guard us from the snares of Set.” And again, “It is merely by his own strength that a giant can be thrown."
And because of the sweetness of the singing a tear stole down the painted cheek of the priestess Emah. The man who was priest of all purity kissed the tear away.
They twain lay in silence for a time, Samson that he might not wake out of happiness, the woman for that she beheld the lad would have it so.
And she plainly remembered, as thus she lay, the words which Ophidion had pronounced unto her: "Hold him with thy beauty and with thy will. He is young-thou canst so hold him. Tempt him! Tempt him with thy great beauty. The charm of the eye especially remember. Keep thy lascivious orbs upon his, and let the lightnings of thy will flash through them. His own will lull into soft slumber. But his fearful passions arouse. So shall we ensnare the foolish one. So shall we come by the locket and the precious signs of his hated priesthood.” As she mused, she murmured gently: "Ophidion.'
Cried the Jew, “Thoughtest thou also of Ophidion !"
"He is a strange, strong man,” declared Emah. “Death itself could never conquer him. And because of his strength there are those which deeply love him-but not I, not 1."
“As for me, I hate him," said the Jew. "When first I saw him by the temple in Jupiter Ammon, I did hate him wholly (as he me also) and all my hatred has increased tenfold each day. Yet, too, he it was that brought me unto thee.”
“Hast thou not the evil eye ?” inquired suddenly the priestess. “Thou hast surely bewitched me, lovely man. As for Ophidion, may he be ground like paint."
And while they were fanned by the wings of peacocks, and sprinkled with perfumes made of olden dreams, and while marvelous apes and women shook life and laughter all about the deck, Samson spake from time to time unto the woman about Adonai, for his heart, even yet, was filled with the love of the Lord. “Day and night," quoth he, “I loved Adonai. Yea in the solitudes among the bleating sheep, O beautiful Egyptian, I-loved-Him. Often, at night, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed of Adonai, and woke up calling His name-Adonai, Adonai!” Thus, wholly in spite of himself, befitting neither place nor time, spake Samson-Solomon of Cyrene, about Adonai. And Emah marvelled and was touched, for she, like many another
, idolater, wot well about Adonai, but, stiff-neckedly, clung to her idols. Yea, even her name, meant it not “a horror of the beasts which are worshipped”!
And Samson, growing bolder as he saw that the woman was listening, said: “Ye priests and priestesses of Egypt, ye do know the truth, but, caring not therefor, will not teach it. Ye do have knowledge concerning El-Shaddai, and yet ye do allow your peoples to dwell both in idolatry and in darkness."
“Be thou not too strait with us, lovely boy," said Emah, "for Moses himself did draw much knowledge of El-Shaddai from the priests of Egypt." And the woman went on to explain unto Samson the Egyptian worship of the beasts of the field, and of the birds of the air, and of the creeping reptiles of the ooze and slime. She said, at length: “Seest thou not that ours is really one with thine own religion! The beasts and the birds and the snakes are, after all, but emblems of the various attributes of thine own Adonai. So that our beasts and our birds and our reptiles, if considered altogether, are exactly the same as is He whose proper name thou fearest to pronounce, and whom, in fact, we worship as truly as do ye Israelites."
Samson thereupon was much affected, for that he saw in these emblems a certain way to comprehend and grasp Adonai. Yet he would have answered her, "So do all idolatries except the basest, for the gist of idolatry is not unbelief, but the coming of any kind of thing betwixt Elohim and the worshipper, on which kind of thing indeed the mind of the worshipper is brought to rest, so that Elohim is forgotten, and then there is known what follows."
But the woman feared his answer, and would not let him speak. Holding a perfumed hand over his lips, she was thinking: “Would that I were as this Jew is, yet not so easily misled." Unto the Jew aloud: "Speak to me not of Adonai now, but of thyself only."
Then told her Samson all about the Chazzan, and the synagogue,