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And he struck therewith, as it were with a weapon of strong iron.
Then he stood for a moment, thinking that the flow of time itself had eternally stopped. What thing was this that lay upon the ground?
He cried with a shriek, “Father! Adonai! Cain!"
From a block of granite in a far-off hill came a maddening echo, “Cain!” And the lad leaped up and ran, like one that saw not, across the very body, and stumbled over it, and fell prone.
Arising, he forced his eyes to close again, that he might believe that the body was not before him. Yet he saw it, then, with even a greater distinctness than before.
So he took his crook now and struck an acacia, as if it were a man. Then he dropped, wide-eyed, the crook, leaned over, beheld some terrible contortion, picked up his club and ran away-only, at some other acacia, to act out once again the utter tragedy of his ruined life.
And so he repeated incessantly till he came to the road that led to his father's tomb. And there he lifted up the club for good and all, and ran, as it were to a city of refuge, until he had reached the tomb.
He said to himself, "I will hide in the tomb till the evening hath fallen, and then I will slip away to Apollonia and so to Rome. There no man shall ever find me, but I will remain in hiding through the remainder of my life.”
He tore away the bars which closed the door of the tomb. And entered the place, and fell upon his knees, and cried with all his might: ,
“Oh, Adonai, Adonai! I have sinned. Wishest thou the locket! I had thought that thou didst have for me some special
? purpose. Did not so the Chazzan say? Idle and foolish dreamer that I was, the Chazzan too. Cain, Cain, Cain! Adonai! El-Shaddai! Would that Shiloh were come!”
In front of the straining eyes of the half-wild shepherd came again and yet again, as in a kind of miniature, the sad procession of his solitary life. How lonely it had been he never before had realized. There he was as a child, with the little horses and dromedaries which the Mongrel had made for him out of clay; there again a tiny shepherd lad, attending a solitary, sad-mouthed sheep (which, also, the Mongrel had given him); there, just a little older grown, learning from the lips of the white-haired Chazzan, or gazing upon the little Amahnah; there, once more, sitting in the lonely, crowded synagogue, or following the heels of his father into the pastures; there, by a mighty rock, tearing apart the first great wolf that ever he had laid his hands upon-and so he had been permitted by Trivialis to take in charge a whole great flock. Then the captivity in the South, the return under Betah, the crook again and the flocks. Ah! the solitude and the loneliness amongst those ever-bleating, ever-dependent sheep! Yet in that loneliness and solitude he had come to a knowledge of Adonai such as, else, had been denied to him forever. Then the worshipping of the hawk, the murder, the sudden flight, the tomb! Here
He believed that the dim, sweet terrors of his youthful religion were things long gone and forever irrevocable.
He felt his stupid, fumbling way about the cold, clammy, unyielding death-chamber, with its insupportable darknesses; its whispering silences; its rude, imperious conceptions of the recently living, but now long-vanished dead, till his soul was filled with the raging immanence of impending disaster, eternal sheol-damnation.
A horror of life came over him and a deep sleep, and, as he slept, he murmured: “I am Cain!”
But the Lord appeared in a dream, and said unto the boy: “Samson, Samson!” And the boy said, “All unworthy, here am I." And the Lord said, "Be not wholly downcast. 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 need of thee, I will break thee-and yet keep thee.'
Then awoke the boy, and the hair was standing on his head and his knees were as water.
And in his heart was a feeling of mingled responsibility and joy. He heard, at a little distance, the sound of bells and of manly voices singing. He looked from the door of the tomb, and behold! a light was falling on the way.
BOOK II. THE FAILURE
THE MAN OF WORLDLY LIGHT
AFTER the Jew had left him, Trivialis lay for a long time in a deep sleep. Then, by slow degrees, he arose, and, feeling of his noggin, whispered feebly: “I am fain to laugh: The goose hath laid an egg in the hare's nest."
After a little he declared, in a somewhat stronger tone: “I was truly a fool to anger such a giant, and he a fool also. Aha! What say the Sopherim? Alas! poor Shem, do I mock thee! Well, I will carry out thy plan of revenge, even as I did promise thee. Yonder go lights from the city to the desert-even past thy tomb, O Shem, my benefactor. Now I wish I had taken thy advice. It groweth dark. But wait a little, O Master that did free me. Poor am I at the execution of mine own designs, yet, where it doth concern the plan and purpose of another, Oh thou shalt see, my Master. I am fain to laugh, but now for Rhodes!”
He gathered up his traveller's cloak, his bulging bulga, and his little oaken staff, and set off in the way of Cyrene.
And he passed to the side of Cyrene and went the rock-cut roads to Apollonia, the seaport, being fully minded to carry out the plan which his Master had given him, and which should take him to Rhodes.
He passed along the Apollonian dock, whereby his ship lay at anchor, and then, when he had gone upon the ship, and come out again, and talked to many people, he said to himself: “I will purchase a goodly store of figs, for these be excellent eating out at sea." But, coming before the torch-lit place where the figs were exposed to sale, he thought suddenly that he saw the form of Samson, the revenger who had sought his life that day.
He also beheld that his ship was weighing anchor. Therefore he rushed speedily up the plank and into the ship, crying: “I am fain to laugh anyhow.”
And he went down into the belly of the ship, where the place was on which he was to sleep. For many long hours he came not forth again on deck, but lay
listening to the waves against the planks, being both sore and weary and much afeard of Samson.
After a certain time, lulled by the rubbing of the waves and the languorous, soft droning of the hortator's voice and his muffled hammerings, he became drowsy and yet more drowsy still. At length he both slumbered and slept.
And the Lord appeared unto him in a dream.
Trivialis answered and said unto Him, “Jehovah, o Jehovah! Here am I.”
The Lord said yet again, “Trivialis!"
And Trivialis once more answered the Lord, saying: “Jehovah, here am I."
The Lord said, “Trivialis, the thing which thou wouldst do is abhorrent unto me. Yet I will not mightily hinder thee that thou shalt attain thy purpose in it, for Hostilis is also abhorrent unto me.
“But behold! the levity of thy heart is clearly seen by me, so that thou canst not in any wise be unto me as a priest (after the manner of Samson, which is also Solomon, of Cyrene) nor yet as a graven monument in the stead of a priest. But I will shape thee after all, and will use thee for an end. And when I have finished with thee, I will break thee and yet keep thee."
And the man arose, and looked about and laughed, and swore that, even as he had begun, so onward would he go. “Am I a man to return upon my purpose, and that for the sake of a dream? And how can anyone be broken and yet kept?”
He also said, “When I have well eaten, I will mount to the deck, and see if the night be."
He mounted, and saw that the sun stood an hour above the horizon.
And he looked again and beheld that only a few of them which journeyed were still upon deck. Among these was not Samson. But there was one there, which had a rubicund nose, a gleaming eye, and a high restless manner. Said the lonely Trivialis, “Aha!”
He went therefore to a mast, lying down hard by the side of it. And having so lain for a time, with his eyes, as it seemed to them that passed him, tightly closed (but all the time they were sharply watching), he arose again, as the man with the rubicund nose and restless manner was about to pass the place.
He went up to that man and said to him, “Just now, sleeping, I dreamed a dream." For he feigned that, sleeping, he dreamed, that so he might the more easily begin an acquaintance with this man. “What else wouldst thou dream than a dream, fool ?” cried the
And Trivialis, when the man did cry him fool, was well pleased. For he said in his heart: “The man is a good companion, else had he called me not fool." Said he unto the fellow, “Thy name?"
"That is even better, for, if thou live up to thy name, thou hast an acquaintance, beyond doubt, with foolish little nothings like these."
He took from his traveller's bulga a number of dice, laid them on the deck. The twain sat down.
“What are those?” saith Trivialis, feigning not to know.
“Those,” said Dissolutio, "be bits of bone called dice." And he proceeded to explain the manner of that olden game, how, for ensample, one, or, rather, two (for the playing solitary is as tedious as being on ship without company) can shake the “tesserae" (as he named the bones) in a hat, and then, upsetting the hat on the deck, removeth the hat. “So. Is it not very simple?”
“It is simple—perhaps too simple, for I understand it not." He smiled very wide like the fool which he both was and pretended to be.
“Then,' quoth Dissolutio, “the faces that look to the deck (and not to the sky) are counted. And behold, they are counted in this manner: one, three, four, and six. The 'one' hath ever a second name—the 'dog.' There be neither 'two' nor 'five' at all. The lowest throw which thou canst throw-or any man whatever—is four dogs. The highest is called 'Venus,' not that that is the highest sum of the pips which any man can throw. By no means. But the numbers that are thrown of a Venus are all of them different. The sum of the numbers thrown be fourteen only, yet the throw, O mighty
"I see," brake in Trivialis. “Thou art an aleator-which, being interpreted, meaneth a gamester. That is very wrong of thee, and I doubt whether I ought, being freeman and no slave, to accompany thee in gaming. For behold, the laws of Augustus Cæsar are much against this matter. Throughout his empire all who gamble are condemned to a payment of four times the sum that was laid in issue. Besides-"
“Besides nothing. I am not aleator, thou stinking goat, but a man that would merely pass time jauntily. I play not for money but for pleasure alone. For, mark you, Senator Trivialis, pleasure is the only thing of actual estimation in all this world to me. Thou