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For The Temple by G. A. Henty

Chapter 13: The Test Of Devotion.

Although John was able to join his companions, he was still far from strong; and was glad to have a valid excuse for handing over his command to his lieutenant, and returning home. The campaign was nearly over; and he could not have followed those rapid marches through the hills which enabled the band to appear, now on one side, now on the other of the Romans, and to keep them in a constant state of watchfulness.

At the same time, he was glad of the excuse to leave for, although he had declared to Titus that he would fight again in defense of Jerusalem, he felt that, after the kind treatment he had met with, he could not take part in the daily skirmishes with the Romans.

Mounting a donkey, which was among the many animals captured in the attacks upon the Romans' baggage train, John bade adieu to his comrades; and with Jonas, now grown into a sturdy young fellow, started for home. He journeyed by the road to the west of Jerusalem, in order to avoid the bandits of Simon son of Gioras; who still scourged the neighborhood of Masada and Herodium, lying between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. He avoided all the towns in which there were Roman garrisons; for the bandages on his head would have shown, at once, that he had been engaged in fighting. He traveled slowly, and was six days before he arrived home.

|This time, my son, you have not come home unharmed,| Simon said. |Truly you are a shadow of your former self.|

|I shall soon be strong again, father; and these are honorable scars, for I had them in single combat with Titus, himself, in the valley between Hebron and Carmelia.|

|Then how is it that you live to tell the tale, my son?| Simon asked, while exclamations of wonder broke from Mary and Martha. |Surely God did not deliver him into your hands?|

|I wish not to boast, father, and I have told the true story to none; but truly God did deliver him into my hands.|

|And he is dead?| Simon exclaimed.

|No, father, he lives, for I spared him.|

|Spared him!| Simon exclaimed. |What, you did not avenge the miseries of our people upon the son of the oppressor?|

|No, father; and I rejoice that I did not for, had I done so, surely the Romans would have avenged his death upon all the land. But I thought not of that, at the time. I was sore wounded, and bleeding, and my sense was well-nigh gone; but as I knelt upon him, and lifted my hand to slay him, a thought -- surely sent by God, himself -- came into my mind, and I said:

|'Swear by your gods that you will spare the Temple, or I slay you;' and he swore that, so far as lay in his power, he would spare the Temple.|

An exclamation of joy burst from his hearers, and Simon said:

|Verily, my son, God has raised you up as a deliverer of his Temple; not, as some hoped, by defeating our oppressors, but by binding one of their mightiest ones to do it no harm.|

|I pray, father, say naught of this to anyone. It is between ourselves, and Titus, and the Lord; and I would not that any man should know of it. Moreover, Titus behaved with the greatest generosity to me.

|My victory over him was but a surprise. I was sorely wounded, while he was almost unharmed, when I sprang upon him and, by the sudden impulse, threw him to the ground, he being burdened with his heavy armor I had but strength to hear him swear, and then I fell as one dead. Titus might have slain me, as I lay; but he not only did me no harm but, when his soldiers came up, he gave me into their care, and directed me to be carried down to his camp, placed in a tent, and tended by his own leech and, when I recovered, he let me go free.|

|Truly it is a marvelous tale, John. That you should have fallen into the hands of the Romans, and come forth unharmed after discomfiting their leader, is as marvelous to me as Daniel coming unharmed from the lions' den. We will say naught of your story, my son. Tell us only what you told your own companions, so that we may know what to say, when we are questioned.|

|I told them the truth, father, although not all the truth. I said that I met Titus, and fought with him; that I wounded him somewhat; but that, by virtue of his armor, I did him no great harm, while he wounded me so seriously that I fell down as one dead; that he, feeling that I had fought like a brave foeman, had me carried to his tent, and tended and cared for until I was able to go forth; when he sent me away free, and unharmed.|

|Truly men say of Titus that he is clement and merciful, and therein differs much from Vespasian his father; and the clemency which he showed to the people of Gischala, and other places which he has taken, proves that is so; but this deed of his to you shows that he must have a great heart, for few men of rank, and warlike fame, who had been discomfited by one yet scarce a man, but would have left him by the road to die, so that none might know what had happened.|

|Titus made no secret of it, father,| John said. |He told Josephus, in my hearing, that I had spared his life. He said naught of the oath which he had taken; but I know that he will keep it as far, as he said, lies in his power.|

|What is he like?| Mary asked.

|He is not of very tall stature, but stoutly built, and strong. His face -- clean shaved, as is their custom -- has a pleasant and kindly expression, that tallies with his disposition, for he is greatly beloved by his soldiers. In action they say he is brave to rashness, quick to anger, but as quickly appeased. Had he been in command of the Roman legions, they would have been not less formidable in the fight and, perhaps, when the passions of Titus were roused, not less savage; but they would not have wrought such wholesale cruelty and destruction as they have done.|

|It is rarely that pity enters into the heart of a Roman,| Simon said; |and yet, it is hardly for us to complain for, when we crossed over the Jordan and conquered Canaan, we put all to the sword, and spared none. It may be that in future times, if wars do not altogether cease in the world, they will be waged in another spirit; but so far, from the commencement of the world until now, it has ever been the same -- war has brought desolation and destruction upon the vanquished.|

The next morning John went early into the garden; not that he was strong enough for heavy work, but in order that Mary might, as usual, join him there.

|Do you know, John,| she said, after their first greeting, |you have made me happier than I have been, for some time.|

|How is that, Mary?|

|It seemed to me, John, that you were getting away from me.|

|Getting away, Mary!| he repeated; |how do you mean?|

|You were becoming a great leader, John. I was proud that it should be so, proud to think that you might become a deliverer of the nation; and then it would have been meet and right that you should take to yourself, as a wife, a daughter of one of the great ones of the land.|

|Mary!| John exclaimed, indignantly.

|It might have been necessary, John. The tillers of the soil can marry where they please. Those who have power must wed for other reasons than that of love. They must make alliances that will strengthen their position, and it would have been your duty to have sacrificed your love for the sake of your country. I should have been the first to bid you do so. I should have been content to make my sacrifice, too, on the altar of our country; content with knowing that you, the deliverer of Israel, would have chosen me from among all other women, had you only had your own pleasure and happiness to consult.

|But after what you told us yesterday, I think, perhaps, that this need not be so; and that the way in which you were to save the Temple was not the way we thought. Your mission has been fulfilled -- not by great victories, which would have made you the hero of Israel -- but in that contest in the valley, where no eyes but those of God beheld you; and should the Temple be saved, no one will know that you were its savior, save we who love you. Therefore, John, once again I can look forward to the time when you and I can dwell, together, in the house of your fathers.|

Mary was so earnest that John did not attempt to laugh her out of her fancies, as was his usual way. He only said, quietly:

|Perhaps you are right, Mary, as to my mission; but I do not think, dear, that even had I been made ruler of Israel, I would have gone elsewhere for a wife; but as you say, circumstances might have been too strong for me and, at any rate, I am well pleased that there is no chance of my happiness being set in one scale, and the good of my country in another.|

|And now, John, I believe that you will come back to me, even if Jerusalem falls. This is the third time your life has been spared and, if we count that day when we were so nearly drowned together on the lake, we may say that four times your life has been saved, when it seemed all but lost; and I believe, now, that it will be saved to the end.|

|I hope for your sake, Mary, and for my father and mother's, that it may be so. I have so much to make my life happy that I will assuredly do all in my power to save it. As you know, I have never held with those who would destroy themselves, when all seemed lost. My idea is: a man should fight until the last; but should, if possible, provide some way of escape, when fighting is no longer of avail.

|Fortunately, if I do not fall in battle, I have a talisman which will bring me safe to you. Titus has given me a signet ring which will, at all times, procure me access to him. He has promised that, at all times, he will be my friend and, should I fall into the hands of his soldiers again, he will let me go free, and will give me the lives of any who may be dear to me.|

|This Titus must be a noble enemy,| Mary said, with tears in her eyes. |He is strong, and kind, and generous. Had such a man been raised up as the leader of our people, instead of the leader of our foes, how different it might have been!|

|Yes, indeed,| John agreed; |truly we are sheep without a shepherd; nay, we are sheep whose leaders are ravening wolves, who devour their own flock.|

The time passed, quietly and happily save for the grief which the tidings of the terrible doings in Jerusalem caused. The two years' respite which the city had obtained, when Vespasian marched away from Jericho, instead of being turned to good account, had brought even greater evils than before. Simon son of Gioras, having wasted all the country towards Idumea, began to threaten Jerusalem. The Zealots marched out against him, but were driven back to the city. Simon -- thinking that the Idumeans, believing him to be occupied with Jerusalem, would have grown careless -- suddenly entered their country at the head of twenty thousand men.

The Idumeans flew to arms, and met him with twenty-five thousand men; and a furious battle ensued, in which neither party gained the advantage. Simon retreated, and the Idumeans dispersed. Simon raised an even larger force than before, and advanced with forty thousand irregular troops, besides his heavy-armed soldiers. They took Hebron, and wasted Idumea with fire and sword.

The Zealots, in Simon's absence, succeeded in capturing his wife; and carried her off to Jerusalem, hoping by this means to force him to come to terms. On receiving the news he hurried back with his forces, surrounded Jerusalem, and slew everyone who ventured to leave the city -- except some whom he sent back, having cut off their hands, to tell those within that, unless his wife were returned, he would storm the city and slay every man within it. Even the Zealots were alarmed at his threats and fury, and restored his wife; whereupon he withdrew.

This had happened in the previous year, before Cerealis and Vespasian had entered Idumea. As soon as the Romans had retired, Simon again sallied forth from Masada, collected a great number of Idumeans, and drove them before him into Jerusalem. Then he encamped before the city, and slew all who quitted the protection of its walls.

Thus, within, John of Gischala and his followers tyrannized over the people, murdering and plundering till they were sated with blood, and knew not what to do with their booty; while Simon cut off all flight beyond its walls. But at length the party of John became divided. The Idumeans, who were in considerable numbers in the city, rose and drove John and the Zealots into the palace built by Grapte; which had served them as their headquarters, and the storehouse where they piled up the treasure which they had amassed by the plunder of the people. But the Idumeans attacked them here, and drove them into the Temple -- which adjoined the palace -- and took possession of all the plunder that they had amassed. The Zealots, however, were in great force in the Temple, and threatened to pour out and destroy the whole city by fire. The Idumeans called an assembly of the chief priests, and they decided to admit Simon within the gates.

The high priest, Matthias, went out in person to invite him to enter and, amidst the joyful greetings of the population, Simon marched through the gates with his followers, and took possession of the upper city. This was the last and most fatal mistake of the people of Jerusalem. The sheep had invited a tiger to save them from a wolf; and now two tyrants, instead of one, lorded it over the city. As soon as Simon entered, he proceeded to attack the Zealots in the Temple; but the commanding position of that building enabled them to defend themselves with success.

To obtain still further advantage, they reared four strong towers; and on these placed their military engines and bowmen, and so swept the approaches to the Temple that Simon was forced to desist from the attack. All through the winter, fighting went on without intermission, and the streets of Jerusalem ran with blood.

A further division took place among the Zealots. Eleazar -- who had been their head before the arrival of John of Gischala -- jealous of the supremacy of that leader, got together a party and suddenly seceded from the main band, and seized the inner court of the Temple. Now, fighting went on within as well as without the holy buildings. The party of Eleazar were well supplied with provisions, for the stores in the Temple were of immense extent. They were too few in numbers to sally out to attack the party of John; but they were strong enough to defend the walls of the inner court, which looked down upon the rest of the Temple, and enabled them to command the positions of John's troops.

Day and night the struggle went on. The inner court of the Temple was desecrated by blood -- dying men lay on the steps of the altar, and the shouts and songs of the savage soldiery rose, where the hymns of praise of the Levites had been wont to ascend.

John's troops continued their attacks upon the inner court, while they successfully resisted the assaults of Simon; who tried to take advantage of the internecine strife raging between the two parties of Zealots, but the superior height of the positions held by John's men enabled them to defend themselves as successfully as did those of Eleazar against their attacks.

And yet, during all this terrible strife, the services of the Temple were continued, in the midst of blood and carnage. Free ingress and egress were, as at all times, permitted to the pious; who made their way unharmed through the fierce combatants, passed over the pavement slippery with blood, and laid their offering on the altars -- often paying with their lives for their pious services, being smitten down, even as they prayed at the altar, by the missiles which the followers of John poured incessantly into the inner court.

Sometimes, drunk with the wine obtained from the abundant stores of the Temple, the followers of Eleazar would sally out against John. Sometimes John would pour out against Simon, wasting and destroying the city as far as his troops could penetrate. Thus, the Temple became surrounded by a waste of ruins, held in turn by one or other of the factions. Even the rites of burial, so dear to the Jews, were neglected; and the bodies of the slain lay, unburied, where they fell, And yet, the forces of the three factions which thus desolated the city were comparatively small and, had the wretched population who were tyrannized over by them possessed any unanimity, or been led by any man of courage, they could easily have overthrown them all; for Simon's force amounted to about fifteen thousand, that of John to six thousand, while Eleazar could count but two thousand four hundred men, and yet in Jerusalem were gathered a population amounting, with the original inhabitants and the fugitives from the country around, to over a million people.

At length, the long interval of suspense was drawing to an end. At the death of Vitellius, Vespasian had been called upon, by the general voice of the people, to ascend the throne; and had, some time before, left for Rome to assume the imperial purple. He was joyfully acknowledged by the whole Roman empire; who had groaned under a succession of brutal tyrants, and now hailed the accession of one who was, at once, a great general and an upright and able man; and who would rule the empire with a firm, just, and moderate hand. When winter was over, Vespasian sent Titus -- who had, in the meantime, gone to Egypt -- back to Palestine, and ordered him to complete the conquest of Judea.

The Twelfth Legion -- that which had been defeated, when under the command of Cestius -- was ordered to reinforce the three already in Judea; and the gaps made in the ranks during the war, and by the withdrawal of the men who had accompanied Vespasian to Rome, were filled by an addition of two thousand picked troops from Alexandria, and three thousand from the legions stationed on the Euphrates. The Syrian kings sent large contingents; and Tiberius Alexander -- an intimate friend of Titus, a man of wisdom and integrity -- was appointed to high command. His knowledge of the country, which he had once governed, added to his value in the Roman councils.

As soon as the news spread that the Roman army was collecting for its march against Jerusalem, the signal fires were kindled on the hills above Gamala; and John, after a tender farewell to his parents and Mary, set out with Jonas. In twenty-four hours, the band had again assembled. When they were gathered, John addressed them. He pointed out to them that the campaign that they were now about to undertake differed widely from those which had preceded it.

|Hitherto,| he said |you have but skirmished around the Romans, and have run but comparatively little danger; but now, those who go with me must make up their minds that they are going to Jerusalem to die. It may be that the Lord will yet deliver the Holy City from her enemies, as he delivered it in days of old. But you know what has been doing in Jerusalem, for the last four years; that not only the streets, but the altar itself have been flooded with the blood of the people, how the Jews themselves have desecrated the Temple, and how wickedness of all kinds has prevailed in the city.

|Thus, you can judge for yourselves what chance there is that God will interfere on behalf of the people who have forsaken and insulted him. If he does not interfere, in my opinion the fate of the city is sealed. I have seen the Romans at work, at Jotapata and Gamala; and I know how the strongest walls go down before their engines and battering rams. Moreover I hear that, in the wars which have been raging within the gates, the magazines -- which contain sufficient food to last even her great population for years -- have been entirely destroyed; and thus those who go to defend her have to face not the Roman sword only, but famine.

|Therefore, I say that those who go up to defend the Temple must make up their minds that they go to die for the Temple. It is for each of you to ask yourselves whether you are ready to do this. I ask no one to go with me. Let each, before it is too late, ask himself whether he is ready to do this thing. I blame none who find the sacrifice too great. It is between them and their conscience.

|Therefore, I pray you, let all tonight disperse among the hills, each by himself, so that you may think over what I have said; and let all who may come to the conclusion that they are not called upon to go to certain death, in defense of the Temple, depart to their homes without reproach from their comrades. Each man here has done his duty, so long as hope remained. Now it is for each to decide, for himself, whether he feels called upon to give his life for the Temple.|

Silently the crowd dispersed, and John joined the captains, and passed the night with them.

|I fear we shall have but a small gathering in the morning,| one of them said, as they sat down by the fire. |Many will fight as long as there is hope, but few will go down to certain death.|

|It is better so,| John said. |Misery and ruin have fallen upon the country. As you saw for yourselves, Judea and Idumea are but deserts, and more have fallen by famine and misery than by the sword. We would not have our nation blotted out; and as, in the days after the captivity in Babylon, God again collected his people and restored their land to them, so it may be his intention to do, now, when they have paid the full penalty of their disobedience and wickedness. Therefore, I would not that any should go down to die, save those who feel that God has called them to do so.

|Already the victims who have fallen in these four years are well-nigh countless; and in Jerusalem there are a million people -- sufficient, if they have spirit and strength and the Lord is with them -- to defend the walls. Thus, then, however small the number of those who may gather tomorrow, I shall be content. Had the Romans advanced against Jerusalem at the commencement of the war, there was not a Jew capable of bearing arms but would have gone up to the defense of the Holy City; but now, their spirit is broken by the woes that have come upon them, and still more by the civil wars in Jerusalem herself. A spirit of hopelessness and despair has come upon us. It is not that men fear to die, or that they care to live; it is that they say:

|'What matters it whether we live or die? All is lost. Why should we trouble as to what may come upon us?'|

|Then you no longer believe in your mission, John?| one of the party said, gloomily.

|I have never proclaimed a mission,| John said. |Others have proclaimed it for me. I simply invited a score of men to follow me, to do what we could to hinder the Romans; and because God gave us success, others believed that I was sent as a deliverer.

|And yet, I believe that I had a mission, and that mission has been fulfilled. I told you not, before; but I tell you now, for your comfort, what happened between me and Titus -- but I wish not that it should be told to others. I told you that I fought with him; and that, being wounded and insensible, I was carried into his tent -- but that was not all. When we fought, although sorely wounded, I sprang upon him and we fell to the ground, I uppermost. I drew my knife, and would have slain him; when the Lord put a thought into my mind, and I called upon him to swear that he would spare the Temple.

|He swore that, if it lay in his power, he would do so. Then he was but in inferior command. Now he is general of the army, and should be able to keep his oath. Thus, if I had a mission to save the Temple, I trust that I have fulfilled it; and that, whatever fate may fall upon the city, the Temple will yet remain erect and unharmed.|

John's words gave new life and energy to the before dispirited men gathered round him. It seemed to them not only that the Temple would be saved, but that their belief in their leader's mission as a deliverer was fully justified; and a feeling of enthusiasm succeeded that of depression.

|Why did you not tell us before? Why did you not let all your followers know what a great thing you had done, John?| one of them asked, presently.

|For two reasons,| John replied. |I did not wish to seem to exalt myself, or to boast of the success which God had given me over the Roman; for it was assuredly his strength, and not mine, for I myself could do naught against the strength and skill of Titus and, as I told you, was wounded nigh to death, while he received small hurt. In the next place I thought that, if I made it public, it would be noised abroad through the land; and that Titus, when he heard that all men knew that he had been worsted in fight with a Jew, might repent of his oath -- or might even ask to be sent to some other command, so that he might not be called upon to keep it.|

John's companions agreed that the second reason was a valid one, though they did not agree that the first should have weighed with him.

|It is not by hiding a light under a bushel,| one of them said, |that men gain the confidence of their followers. The more men believe in their leaders, the more blindly will they follow him, the greater the efforts they will make for him. It was the belief in your mission which gathered eight thousand men on these mountains to follow you; and the proof that you have given us that that belief was well founded, and that you had a mission to save the Temple -- the knowledge that you had, single handed, forced the Roman general to swear an oath to save the Temple -- would have so heightened that enthusiasm that they would have followed you, had you bidden them attack the whole Roman army. I agree that, for your second reason, it was wise to say nothing of what took place; but your first was, I think, a mistaken one.|

|At any rate,| another said, |the hand of God is plainly marked in the matter; for it has placed Titus in full command, and has thus given him the power of carrying out the oath which he swore. Now, my friends, we can go up with light hearts with John to Jerusalem for, though we may die, yet do we feel assured that the Lord purposes to save the Temple; and that, one day, he will restore the glories of Judah.|

In the morning, as John had expected, the number of those who gathered at the sound of the trumpet was comparatively small. The night's reflection, the feeling that the sacrifice of their lives would be of no avail, and the dull despair that had seized the whole nation had had their effect and, of the eight thousand men who had gathered there the night before, but six hundred now obeyed the summons.

These gathered, stern and silent, but with an expression of desperate resolution on their faces. At the earnest request of his captains, John allowed them to go among the men and to tell them that, although the manner in which it was done was a secret, John had given to them undoubted proofs that he had a mission from God; and that they believed that, whatever might happen to Jerusalem, it was the Lord's will that the Temple should be saved. The joyous expression of their leaders' faces, even more than their words, assured their followers of their sincerity. Their spirit rose, and a renewed feeling of enthusiasm seized them; and when, an hour later, John took his place on a rock to address them, the shouts of greeting which broke forth showed him how great was the change in their spirit.

|My friends,| he said, |I greet you who have decided to die with me, if need be, in defense of Jerusalem. I blame not those who have gone. They would not have gone, had the Lord required them to stay; but to you he has spoken, and has told you that he has need of your services. Henceforward, we will act as one band -- a band of men inspired with one thought, and one aim. And now, though our numbers may not be great, yet a force so composed of men who hold their lives as naught may do wonders. You remember how Gideon sent the greater part of his army away and, with a mere handful, defeated the hosts of the enemy!

|We look not for victory; but we will show the Romans what men can do to avenge their bleeding country -- what deeds Jews can perform, when fighting for the Temple. We shall go into Jerusalem. There we will hold aloof from all parties. If we are attacked, we will defend ourselves. But our aim will be to act as a body apart from others, ready to undertake the most desperate services, and to set an example of courage and devotion.

|Now let us count our numbers, and arrange ourselves anew into companies.|

It was found that the bands composed of men from Tiberias, and the other cities of the lake, had entirely disappeared; and that those who had stayed were principally hardy dwellers among the hills. They were again divided into twenty companies of thirty men each and, after examining their arms, and seeing that all were well provided, John gave the order, and the band set off.

Keeping on the eastern side of Jordan they stopped at a large village, near the ford opposite Jericho; and here a quantity of grain was purchased, and was made up into sacks, each weighing fifty pounds.

|The granaries that remain will be principally in the hands of the troops of John, or Simon,| John said; |and it is as well that we should have our own store to depend upon. So long as we can buy food, we will do so; and we can fall back upon our own magazine, if necessary. It will be best for two or three of us to go into the city, first, and find a quarter where we can lodge close together, and as far removed as possible from the factions. Simon holds the upper town, and John the Temple; therefore we will establish ourselves in the lower town. We will not go in in a body, for they might refuse us admittance; but as the Romans approach there will be a stream of fugitives entering the city. We will mingle with them, and pass in unobserved.

|Many of the fugitives will be carrying the goods they most value; and many, doubtless, will take in provisions with them. Therefore, our sacks of grain will not excite attention.|

It was five years since John had journeyed up with his parents to Jerusalem, and he therefore knew but little of the city. Some of his followers, however, had been there more recently; and he picked out four of these, one of whom was a captain of a company, to enter the city and find a suitable post for them. The whole band crossed the Jordan together, and made a detour to avoid Jericho, where the Tenth Legion had been quartered during the winter. Then they took their way up the steep road through the hills until, passing through Bethany, they came out on the crest of the hill looking down upon the Valley of Jehoshaphat; with the Temple rising immediately opposite to them, and the palace of Agrippa, and the crowded houses of the city, in the background.

Illustration: John and his Band in Sight of Jerusalem.

The men laid down their sacks, and stood for a long time, looking at Jerusalem. Many were moved to tears, as they looked on the stately beauty of the Holy City, and thought how low it had fallen; with civil tumult within, and a terrible enemy approaching from without. Even now, there is no fairer scene in the world than the view of Jerusalem from the spot where they were standing -- called then, as now, the Mount of Olives -- and it must have been superb, indeed, in the days when the Temple stood intact, and the palaces of Agrippa and Herod rose on the brow of Mount Zion.

After a long pause they resumed their way, crossed the upper end of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, and established themselves for the night in a grove of trees near the Grotto of Jeremiah; four chosen men at once entering the city, by the Old Gate on the north side of the city. The country here -- and indeed, all the hills around Jerusalem -- were covered with the houses of the wealthy, surrounded by gardens and orchards. They belonged not only to the Jews of the city; but to those who dwelt in foreign countries, and who were accustomed each year to come to Jerusalem for the Passover, and to spend some time there before they returned to their distant homes. Even now, undismayed by the dangers of the times, and the knowledge that the Romans would shortly besiege the city, pilgrims were arriving from all the cities of Asia Minor, Greece, and Egypt, for the time of the Passover was close at hand.

At the foot of the walls, and on the slopes around, large numbers of pilgrims were encamped -- the rich in gorgeous tents, the poor in shelters constructed of boughs or carpets. This overflow of people was an occurrence which was witnessed every year, on the same occasion; but its proportions were this time of greater magnitude than usual, partly owing to the difficulty of procuring lodgings in the town, owing to the crowds of fugitives there, partly because many thought it safer to camp outside, and to enter the city only to pay their devotions, and take part in the ceremonial, than to put themselves wholly into the power of the ruffians of Simon and John.

In the following morning the men returned, and reported that they had found a spot in the inner lower town, between the Corner Gate and the Gate of Ephraim in the second wall, where was a large house, inhabited now but by two or three persons. Here a great number of them could take up their quarters, while the others could find lodging near. The reason why so many houses were empty there was that it was somewhat exposed to the irruptions of Simon's men from the upper town, as they frequently came down and robbed those who entered the city at the Damascus Gate, from which led the great north road.

Crowds of fugitives were making their way by this road to the city, flying before the advance of the Romans; who were, they said, but a few hours' march in their rear. Many were men, coming to take their part in the defense of the city; but the great proportion were old men, women, and children, flying for refuge. John shook his head, as he watched the stream of fugitives, for he well knew the horrors that would befall the besieged town.

|Better a thousand times,| he said to Jonas, |that these poor people should have remained in their villages. They have nothing which would tempt the cupidity of the Roman soldiers, and no evil might have befallen them; whereas now they will perish by famine or disease, or be slain by the Romans, besides consuming the food which would have sustained the fighting men. Were I master of Jerusalem I would, when I heard the Romans were approaching, have cleared out from the city all who could not aid in the defense It would have seemed a harsh action; but it would have been a merciful one, and would greatly strengthen the power of resistance.|

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