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Gathering Clouds A Tale Of The Days Of St Chrysostom by Frederic William Farrar


The vested priest before the altar stands;

Approach, come gladly, ye prepared, in sight

Of God and chosen friends your troth to plight

With the symbolic ring, and willing hands

Solemnly joined. -- Wordsworth.

Philip was not slow to carry out the suggestions of the Desposynos. The ship bore him to Seleucia with soft and favouring gales. Again, as in his boyhood, he saw Mount Casius, crowned by the now ruinous Temple of Zeus, flinging its huge dark purple shadow over the Ægean. Again he passed the enchanting grove of Daphne, with its wilderness of roses, its shrine of St. Babylas, and its scathed Temple of the Sun-God. Again he saw the Orontes glimmering under its blossoming groves. Again he traversed the road over which he had followed the chariot which bore Chrysostom away; he passed through the Golden Gate; gazed up at the huge Charonium; saw the lovely statue of the Fortune of the City'; shuddered as he rode by the Prætorium and the Court of Justice, which had witnessed his boyish agony; looked up at the stately building with which Rufinus had bribed into silence the murmurs of Antioch at the brutal murder of Count Lucian; saw the wild gorge of the Parthenius, up which he had gone in the early morning with Anthusa to the cave of Macedonius; and, thrilling through and through with commingling memories of shadow and sunshine, entered Singon Street, and stood before the old familiar door from which he had stepped forth less than eight years ago.

Less than eight years! Yet what unfathomable seas seemed to separate him from the light-hearted boy whom Chrysostom and Anthusa had snatched from misery and death to share their home with him, and to treat him as a much-loved son.

Old Phlegon opened the door at his summons, started to see him, trembled, and then, in the sudden rush of emotion, fell back and almost fainted.

Master Philip!' he murmured.

Ah! Phlegon,' said Philip, gaily. Cheer up, dear old friend. To you, I see, I am still the little boy. But, Phlegon, please God! I am coming here to live with you all always, and to bring back with me a blooming bride.'

Miriam?' said the old man, with a faint smile.

Yes, Miriam, about whom our Eutyches used so often to chaff me.'

Tell me about my dear, dear master, the Patriarch.'

He is, as you know, at Cucusus, in Armenia; but he is very active in God's cause, and, in spite of exile, and trouble, and cold, and sickness, many are kind to him, and he is happy because he trusts in God.'

Oh, master Philip!' said the old slave, why do you not go to him? I would myself go in a moment, but I am old, and, even if I survived the journey, I should be useless to him.'

Do you think I would not have shared his exile had it been possible?' said Philip, reproachfully. But for many weeks and months after his banishment I lay in helpless sickness, from which, but for Olympias, I could never have recovered; and when I got better he would not allow me join him at Cucusus. I implored him to let me come; but he said -- and I know that he said truly -- that the thought of making me unhappy -- though I should not have been unhappy with him -- would weigh him down, and add to the soreness of his trial. I could not join him contrary to his express command and wish. You know all that happened at Constantinople?'

I heard that they had tortured you, master Philip. Oh! how often I have wept for you, and for my master. Weeping and prayer -- that has been my life for many a long day! And -- that dear young boy, Eutyches -- will he come with you?'

Don't you know, Phlegon? Alas! alas! how happy would he have been to be here with me to-day! and what lovely sunshine his presence would have made! Phlegon, that fair face will never be seen on earth again.'

Did they kill him?'

Do not ask me now, Phlegon. I cannot bear it. But I know -- I know that his beautiful spirit is now in bliss.'

All was in exquisite order in the old home. Until Porphyry had been intruded into the see Constantius, the chosen candidate of all the people, aided by his good sister Epiphania, had managed the property both of Chrysostom and of Philip. When Porphyry had driven him out of the city, he gladly shared the exile of Chrysostom at Cucusus, but by the ceaseless machinations of the bad usurper at Antioch had at last been driven to take refuge in Cyprus. Alexander, who ultimately succeeded Porphyry, and united the distracted see, had at his departure undertaken the same charge. Philip found the dear old home, of which every corner was so familiar to him, in perfect readiness to receive him, and his affairs were safe and flourishing.

After a day or two devoted to making arrangements and visiting all whom he knew and loved in Antioch, he flew back to Seleucia. He soon found a ship bound for Berytus, whence he made his way at his best speed to Nazareth and Lubiyeh.

Michael no longer desired to postpone the double marriage. It was to be celebrated at Nazareth, and Bishop John of Jerusalem undertook to come in person and perform it. The bright scene was long remembered. Michael was the chief person in the neighbourhood, and everyone in the little town knew and loved him. The church could not contain half the number of those who flocked to it, but they assembled outside, scattering roses of Sharon and lilies-of-the-valley before the brides and their maidens. Every boy in Nazareth who had any voice at all was trained to join in the marriage hymns, and rarely had such a volume of sound rung through the little basilica, and rarely had it witnessed so gay and bright a scene.

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