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For The Temple by G. A. Henty

Chapter 17: The Capture Of The Temple.

Although abhorring the general conduct of Simon and John of Gischala, and believing that conditions could be made with the Romans which would save the Temple, John still retained the hope -- cherished by every Jew -- that God would yet, himself, save Jerusalem, as in the old times. He was conscious that the people had forfeited all right to expect his aid; that, by their wickedness and forgetfulness of him -- and more especially by the frightful scenes which had desecrated the city and Temple, during the last four years -- they must have angered God beyond all hope of forgiveness. Still, the punishment which had been inflicted was already so terrible that he, like others, hoped that God's anger might yet relent, as it had done in old times, and that a remnant might yet be spared.

But above all, their hope lay in the belief that the Temple was the actual abode of the Lord; and that, though he might suffer the whole people to perish for their sins, he would yet protect, at the last, his own sanctuary. Surely, John thought, as he stood on the roof of the Temple, this glorious building can never be meant to be destroyed.

The Temple occupied a square, six hundred feet every way. The lofty rock on which it stood had been cased with solid masonry, so that it rose perpendicularly from the plain. On the top of this massive foundation was built a strong and lofty wall, round the whole area. Within this wall was a spacious double cloister, fifty-two and one half feet broad, supported by one hundred and sixty-two columns. On the south side the cloister was one hundred and five feet wide -- being a triple cloister -- and was here called the King's Cloister. Within the area surrounded by the cloisters was an open court, paved with marble; this was the Court of the Gentiles, and was separated from the second court -- that of the Jews -- by a stone railing, five feet high.

An ascent of fourteen steps led to a terrace, seventeen and one half feet wide, beyond which rose the wall of the inner court. This wall was seventy feet high on the outside, forty-four feet on the inside. Round the inner court was another range of cloisters. There were ten gates into the inner court. The doors of nine of these gateways were fifty-two and one half feet high, and half that breadth. The gateways rose to the height of seventy feet. The tenth, usually called the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, was larger than the rest; the gateway being eighty-seven and one half feet in height, the doors seventy feet. In the centre of the inner court was the Temple, itself. The great porch was one hundred and seventy-five feet in width, the gateway tower one hundred and thirty-two feet high and forty-three feet wide, and through it was seen the Beautiful Gate. The Temple itself was built of white marble, and the roof was covered with sharp golden spikes.

Now that it was evident that on the side of the Temple, alone, could the enemy make an attack, the division between Simon and John of Gischala's men was no longer kept up. All gathered for the defence of the Temple. The Jews kept up a vigilant watch, for the Romans could assemble in great force in Antonia, unseen by them; and could advance, under cover, by the cloisters which flanked the platform connecting Antonia with the Temple, on either side. The interval between Antonia and the Temple was but three hundred feet. The cloisters were considered to form part of the Temple, and the Jews were therefore reluctant to destroy them, although they greatly facilitated the attack of the Romans.

Finding that his offers were all rejected, Titus spent seven days in the destruction of a large portion of Antonia, and then prepared for a night attack. As the whole army could not make the assault, thirty men were picked from each hundred. Tribunes were appointed over each thousand, Cerealis being chosen to command the whole. Titus himself mounted a watchtower in Antonia, in order that he might see and reward each act of bravery.

The assault began between two and three o'clock in the morning. The Jews were on the watch and, as soon as the massive columns moved forward, the cries of the guards gave the alarm; and the Jews, sleeping in and around the Temple, seized their arms and rushed down to the defence. For a time, the Romans had the advantage. The weight of their close formation enabled them to press forward against the most obstinate resistance and, even in the darkness, there was no fear of mistaking friend for foe; while the Jews, fighting in small parties, often mistook each other for enemies, and as many fell by the swords of their friends as by those of the enemy. The loss was all the greater, since the troops of John of Gischala and Simon had no common password and, coming suddenly upon each other, often fought desperately before they discovered their mistake; but as daylight began to break, these mistakes became less frequent. The presence and example of their leaders animated the Jews to the greatest exertions, while the knowledge that Titus was watching them inspired the Romans with even more than their usual courage and obstinacy. For nine hours, the conflict raged; and then the Romans, unable to make the slightest impression upon the resistance of the Jews, fell back again into Antonia.

Finding that, in hand-to-hand conflict, his soldiers could not overcome the Jews, Titus ordered the erection of small embankments -- two on the platform between the cloisters, the other two outside the cloister walls. But the work proceeded slowly, owing to the difficulty of procuring wood. The Jews, as usual, hindered the work as much as possible, with showers of missiles; and attempted to create a diversion, by a sortie and attack upon the camp of the Tenth Legion, on the Mount of Olives. This, however, was repulsed by the Romans, without great difficulty.

As the cloisters leading to Antonia afforded great assistance to the Romans, in their attacks, the Jews set fire to the end of the cloisters touching the Temple wall; and a length of from twenty to thirty feet of each cloister was destroyed. The Romans destroyed a further portion, so as to afford more room for the men at work upon the embankments. The action of the Jews was, to a certain extent, a necessity; but it depressed the spirits of the inhabitants, for there was a prophecy: |When square the walls, the Temple falls!| Hitherto, Antonia and the connecting cloisters had been considered as forming part of the Temple, and had given it an irregular form; but the destruction of these cloisters left the Temple standing a massive square.

The embankments presently rose above the height of the wall, and it was evident that this would soon be taken. The Jews retired from the roof of the cloister facing the embankment, as if despairing of further resistance; but they had previously stored great quantities of combustibles in the space between the cedar roof of the cloisters and the upper platform. The Romans on the embankment -- seeing that the Jews had retired -- without waiting for orders ran down and, planting ladders, scaled the wall.

The Jews set up cries, as if of despair; and the Romans poured up on to the wall until a great mass of men were collected on the roof of the cloister. Then, on a sudden, flames shot up in all directions beneath their feet, and they found themselves enveloped in a sea of fire. Many were burned, or smothered by the smoke. Some stabbed themselves with their swords. Some leaped down into the outer court, and were there killed by the Jews. Many jumped down outside the walls, and were picked up dead or with broken limbs. Others ran along upon the top of the walls, until they were shot down by the Jewish missiles.

But one man seems to have escaped. A soldier named Artorius, standing on the wall, shouted to the Romans below, |Whoever catches me shall be my heir.|

A soldier ran forward to accept the terms. Artorius jumped down upon him; killing him by his fall, but himself escaping unhurt.

The fire extended along the whole of the western cloister; and the northern cloister was, next day, burned by the Romans and, thus, on the west and north sides the inner Temple was now exposed to the invader.

All this time, famine had been continuing its work. The fighting men were so weakened that they had scarcely strength to drag their limbs along, or to hold their weapons; while horrible tales are told of the sufferings of such of the inhabitants who still survived -- one woman, maddened by despair, cooking and eating her own infant. Occasionally a baggage animal or a Roman cavalry horse strayed near the walls, when a crowd of famishing wretches would pour out, kill and devour it. Titus, however, cut off even this occasional supply; by ordering a soldier, whose horse had thus fallen into the hands of the Jews, to be put to death for his carelessness.

John's band had been greatly diminished in number, in the two days they had been fighting opposite Antonia. The stores they had brought to the city were now exhausted; although, for a long time, only the smallest amount had been issued, daily, to eke out the handful of grain still served out to each of the fighting men. A few only had, in their sufferings, refused to obey the orders of John and their officers, and had joined the bands of Simon and John of Gischala in the revolting cruelties which they practised, to extort food from the inhabitants. These had not been allowed to rejoin the band; which was now reduced to a little over fifty stern, gaunt, and famine-worn figures -- but still unshaken in their determination to fight to the end.

The Romans now pushed on a bank, from the western wall across the smouldering ruins of the cloister and inner court; and a battering ram began to play against the inner Temple but, after six days' efforts, and bringing up their heaviest battering ram, the Romans gave it up in despair; for the huge stones which formed the masonry of the wall defied even the ponderous machines which the Romans brought to play against it. An embankment, from the northern side, was also carried across the outer court to the foot of the most easterly of the four northern gates of the inner Temple.

Still anxious to save the Temple itself, and its cloisters if possible, Titus would not resort to the use of fire; but ordered his men to force the gate, with crowbars and levers. After great efforts, a few of the stones of the threshold were removed; but the gates, supported by the massive walls and the props behind, defied all their efforts.

Titus now ordered his soldiers to carry the walls by storm. Ladders were brought up; and the soldiers, eager for revenge upon the foe who had so long baffled and humiliated them, sprang to the assault with shouts of exultation. The Jews offered no resistance, until the Romans reached the top of the wall but, as they leaped down on to the roof of the cloister, they threw themselves upon them. Numbers were slain, as they stepped off the ladders on to the wall; and many of the ladders were hurled backward, crushing the soldiers crowded upon them on the pavement beneath.

Then Titus ordered the standards of the legions to be carried up, thinking that the soldiers would rally round these, the emblems of military honour. The Jews, however, permitted the standards and numbers of the legionaries to ascend on to the roof of the cloisters; and then again fell upon them, with such fury that the Romans were overpowered, the standards were taken, and their defenders killed. Not one of the Romans who had mounted the wall retired from it.

Titus could no longer resist the appeals of his infuriated soldiers who, maddened by the losses they had suffered, and the disgrace of the loss of the standards, could not understand why this loss was entailed upon them -- when such an easy way of destroying the gate, and entering the Temple, was in their power. Most reluctantly, Titus gave the permission they clamoured for, and allowed his troops to set fire to the gate. The dry woodwork caught like tinder, and the flames mounted instantly. The silver plates which covered the woodwork melted, and ran down in streams; and the fire at once communicated with the cloisters inside the wall.

Appalled at the sight of the inner court in flames, the Jews stood despairing; while the shouts of triumph of the Romans rose high in the air. During the rest of the day, and all through the night, the conflagration continued and extended all round the cloisters. Thus the Temple, itself, was surrounded by a ring of fire.

The next day, the 4th of August, Titus called a council of his generals, to deliberate on the fate of the Temple. There were present, besides Titus, Tiberias Alexander, the second in command; the commanders of the Fifth, Tenth, and Fifteenth Legions; Fronto, the commander of the Alexandrian troops; and Marcus Antonius Julianus, the procurator of Judea.

Some were for levelling the Temple to the ground. Others advised that, if abandoned by the Jews, it might be preserved; but if defended as a citadel, it ought to be destroyed. Titus listened to the opinions of the others; and then declared his own -- which was that, whatever the use the Jews made of it, it ought to be preserved. Alexander, Cerealis, and Fronto went over to the opinion of Titus; and therefore, by a majority of one, it was agreed that the Temple should be spared, however fiercely the Jews might resist. Orders were given to prevent the fire spreading to the Temple, and to clear the ground for an assault against it.

The 5th of August broke. It was on that day that the Temple of Solomon had been burned, by Nebuchadnezzar; but the courage of the Jews was not depressed by the omen. The brief pause had enabled them to recover from the despair which they had felt, in seeing the inner cloister in flames; and at eight o'clock in the morning, sallying from the Eastern Gate, they rushed down upon the Romans. The latter formed in close order and, covered by their shields, received the onslaught calmly. But so desperately did the Jews fight, and in such numbers did they pour out from the Temple, that the Romans had begun to give way; when Titus arrived, with great reinforcements. But even then, it was not until one o'clock that the Jews were driven back, again, into the walls of the inner Temple.

Titus, having seen his troops victorious, retired to his tent; and the soldiers continued their work of clearing the platform, and extinguishing the smouldering fire of the cloisters. Suddenly the Jewish bands burst out again, and another deadly struggle commenced. Then one of the Roman soldiers, seizing a burning brand from the cloisters, hurled it into the window of one of the side chambers that inclosed the Temple on the north.

In the furious struggle that was going on, none noticed the action; and it was not until the flames were seen, rushing out of the window, that the Jews perceived what had happened. With a cry of anguish, they discontinued the conflict, and rushed back to try and extinguish the flames. But the woodwork, dried by the intense heat of the August sun, was ripe for burning and, in spite of the most desperate efforts, the fire spread rapidly.

The news that the Temple was on fire reached Titus and, starting up, accompanied by his bodyguard of spearmen -- commanded by Liberatus -- he hastened to the spot. His officers followed him and, as the news spread, the whole of the Roman legionaries rushed, with one accord, to the spot. Titus pushed forward into the first court of the inner Temple -- the Court of the Women -- and then into the inner court and, by shouts and gestures, implored his own soldiers, and the Jews alike, to assist in subduing the flames.

But the clamour and din drowned his voice. The legionaries, pouring in after him, added to the confusion. So great was the crowd that many of the soldiers were crushed to death; while many fell among the ruins of the still smouldering cloisters, and were either smothered or burned. Those who reached the sanctuary paid no attention to the remonstrances, commands, or even threats of Titus; but shouted to those in front of them to complete the work of destruction.

Titus pressed forward, with his guards, to the vestibule; and then entered, first the Holy, and then the Holy of Holies. After one glance at the beauty and magnificence of the marvellous shrine, he rushed back and again implored his soldiers to exert themselves to save it; and ordered Liberatus to strike down any who disobeyed. But the soldiers were now altogether beyond control, and were mad with triumph, fury, and hate. One of the bodyguard, as Titus left the sanctuary, seized a brand and applied it to the woodwork. The flames leaped up, and soon the whole Temple was wrapped in fire.

The soldiers spread through the building, snatching at the golden ornaments and vessels, and slaying all they met -- unarmed men, priests in their robes, women and children. Many of the Jews threw themselves into the flames. Some of the priests found their way on to the broad wall of the inner Temple; where they remained, until compelled by famine to come down, when they were all executed. Six thousand of the populace took refuge on the roof of the Royal Cloister, along the south side of the outer Temple. The Romans set fire to this, and every soul upon it perished.

As soon as they felt that their efforts to extinguish the fire were vain, and that the Temple was indeed lost, John of Gischala, Simon, and John called their men together and, issuing out, fell with the fury of desperation upon the dense ranks of the Roman soldiers in the inner court and, in spite of their resistance, cut their way through to the outer court; and gained the bridge leading from the southwest corner, across the Valley of the Tyropceon, to the upper city; and were therefore, for a time, in safety.

John, bewildered, exhausted, and heartbroken from the terrible events of the past few days, staggered back to his house, and threw himself on his couch; and lay there for a long time, crushed by the severity of the blow. Until now he had hoped that Titus would, in the end, spare the Temple; but he recognized, now, that it was the obstinacy of the Jews that had brought about its destruction.

|It was God's will that it should perish,| he said, to himself; |and Titus could no more save it than I could do.|

After some hours, he roused himself and descended to the room now occupied by the remnant of the band. Jonas and ten others, alone, were gathered there. Some had thrown themselves down on the ground. Some sat in attitudes of utter dejection. Several were bleeding from wounds received in the desperate fight of the morning. Others were badly burned in the desperate efforts they had made to extinguish the flames. Exhausted by want of food, worn out by their exertions, filled with despair at the failure of their last hopes, the members of the little band scarce looked up when their leader entered.

|My friends,| he said, |listen to me, if but for the last time. We, at least, have nothing to reproach ourselves with. We have fought for the Temple, to the last; and if we failed to save it, it is because it was the will of God that it should perish. At any rate, our duty is done. God has not given us our lives, and preserved them through so many fights, that we should throw them away. It is our duty, now, to save our lives, if we can. Now that the Temple has fallen, we are called upon to do no more fighting.

|Let the bands of John of Gischala, and Simon, fight to the last. They are as wild beasts, inclosed in the snare of the hunter; and they merit a thousand deaths, for it is they who have brought Jerusalem to this pass, they who have robbed and murdered the population, they who have destroyed the granaries which would have enabled the city to exist for years, they who refused the terms by which the Temple might have been saved, they who have caused its destruction in spite of the efforts of Titus to preserve it. They are the authors of all this ruin and woe. They have lived as wild beasts, so let them die!

|But there is no reason why we should die with them, for their guilt is not upon our heads. We have done our duty in fighting for the Temple, and have robbed and injured none. Therefore, I say, let us save our lives.|

|Would you surrender to the Romans?| one of the band asked, indignantly. |Do you, whom we have followed, counsel us to become traitors?|

|It is not treachery to surrender, when one can no longer resist,| John said, quietly. |But I am not thinking of surrendering. I am thinking of passing out of the city, into the country around.

|But first, let us eat. I see you look surprised but, although the store we brought hither is long since exhausted, there is still a last reserve. I bought it, with all the money that I had with me, from one of Simon's men, upon the day when we came hither from the lower town. He had gained it, doubtless, in wanton robbery for, at that time, the fighting men had plenty of food; but as it was his, I bought it, thinking that the time might come when one meal might mean life to many of us. I have never touched it, but it remains where I hid it, in my chamber. I will fetch it, now.|

John ascended to his chamber, and brought down a bag containing about fifteen pounds of flour.

|Let us make bread of this,| he said. |It will give us each a good meal, now; and there will be enough left to provide food for each, during the first day's journey.|

The exhausted men seemed inspired with new life, at the sight of the food. No thought of asking how they were to pass through the Roman lines occurred to them. The idea of satisfying their hunger overpowered all other feelings.

The door was closed to keep out intruders. Dough was made, and a fire kindled with pieces of wood dry as tinder, so that no smoke should attract the eye of those who were constantly on the lookout for such a sign that some family were engaged in cooking. The flat dough cakes were placed over the glowing embers, the whole having been divided into twenty-four portions. Some of the men would hardly wait until their portions were baked; but John urged upon them that, were they to eat it in a half-cooked state, the consequences might be very serious, after their prolonged fast. Still, none of them could resist breaking off little pieces, to stay their craving.

|Let us eat slowly,| John said, when the food was ready. |The more slowly we eat, the further it will go. When it is eaten, we will take a sleep for four hours, to regain our strength. There is no fear of our being called upon to aid in the defence. The Romans must be as exhausted as we are; and they will need thought, and preparation, before they attack our last stronghold, which is far stronger than any they have yet taken. If we had food, we could hold Mount Zion against them for months.|

As soon as the meal was over, all lay down to sleep. None had asked any question as to how their escape was to be effected. The unexpected meal, which John's forethought had prepared for them, had revived all their confidence in him; and they were ready to follow him, wherever he might take them.

It was night when John called them to awake, but the glare of the vast pile of the burning Temple lit up every object. The brightness almost equalled that of day.

|It is time,| John said, as the men rose to their feet and grasped their arms. |I trust that we shall have no occasion to use weapons; but we will carry them so that, if we should fall into the hands of the Romans, we may fall fighting, and not die by the torments that they inflict upon those who fall into their hands. If I could obtain a hearing, so as to be brought before Titus, he might give us our lives; but I will not trust to that. In the first place, they would cut us down like hunted animals, did they come upon us; and in the second, I would not, now, owe my life to the clemency of the Romans.|

A fierce assent was given by his followers.

|Now,| John went on, |let each take his piece of bread, and put it in his bosom. Leave your bucklers and javelins behind you, but take your swords.

|Jonas, bring a brand from the fire.

|Now, let us be off.|

None of those with him, except Jonas, had the least idea where he was going; but he had instructed the lad in the secret of the pit and, one day, had taken him down the passages to the aqueduct.

|You and I found safety before, Jonas, together, and I trust may do so again; but should anything happen to me, you will now have the means of escape.|

|If you die, I will die with you, master,| Jonas said.

And indeed, in the fights he had always kept close to John, following every movement, and ready to dash forward when his leader was attacked by more than one enemy; springing upon them like a wildcat, and burying his knife in their throats. It was to his watchful protection and ready aid that John owed it that he had passed through so many combats, comparatively unharmed.

|Not so, Jonas,| he said, in answer to the lad's declaration that he would die with him. |It would be no satisfaction to me that you should share my fate, but a great one to know that you would get away safely. If I fall, I charge you to pass out by this underground way; and to carry to my father, and mother, and Mary, the news that I have fallen, fighting to the last, in the defence of the Temple. Tell them that I thought of them to the end, and that I sent you to them to be with them; and to be to my father and mother a son, until they shall find for Mary a husband who may fill my place, and be the stay of their old age. My father will treat you as an adopted son, for my sake; and will bestow upon you a portion of his lands.

|You have been as a brother to me, Jonas; and I pray you, promise me to carry out my wishes.|

Jonas had reluctantly given the pledge but, from that hour until John had declared that he would fight no more, Jonas had been moody and silent. Now, however, as he walked behind his friend, his face was full of satisfaction. There was no chance, now, that he would have to take home the news of his leader's death. Whatever befell them, they would share together.

They soon reached the door of the house in which the pit was situated. It was entered, and the door closed behind them. The lamps were then lit. John led the way to the cellar, and bade the men remove the boards.

|I will go first, with one of the lamps,| he said. |Do you, Jonas, take the other, and come last in the line.

|Keep close together, so that the light may be sufficient for all to see.|

Strengthened by the meal, and by their confidence in John's promise to lead them through the Romans, the band felt like new men; and followed John with their usual light, active gait, as he led the way. Not a word was spoken, till they reached the hole leading into the aqueduct.

|This is the Conduit of King Hezekiah,| John said. |When we emerge at the other end, we shall be beyond the Roman lines.|

Exclamations of satisfaction burst from the men. Each had been wondering, as he walked, where their leader was taking them. All knew that the ground beneath Jerusalem was honeycombed by caves and passages; but that their leader could not intend to hide there was evident, for they had but one meal with them. But that any of these passages should debouch beyond the Roman lines had not occurred to them.

Each had thought that the passages they were following would probably lead out, at the foot of the wall, into the Valley of Hinnom or of Jehoshaphat; and that John intended to creep with them up to the foot of the Roman wall, and to trust to activity and speed to climb it, and make their way through the guard placed there to cut off fugitives. But none had even hoped that they would be able to pass the wall of circumvallation without a struggle.

An hour's walking brought them to the chamber over the springs.

|Now,| John said, |we will rest for half an hour, before we sally out. Let each man eat half the food he has brought with him. The rest he must keep till tomorrow, for we shall have to travel many miles before we can reach a spot that the Romans have not laid desolate, and where we may procure food.

|I trust,| he went on, |that we shall be altogether unnoticed. The sentries may be on the alert, on their wall, for they will think it likely that many may be trying to escape from the city; but all save those on duty will be either asleep after their toils, or feasting in honour of their success. The fact, too, of the grcat glare of light over Jerusalem will render the darkness more intense, when they look in the other direction.

|But if we should be noticed, it is best that we should separate, and scatter in the darkness; each flying for his life, and making his way home as best he may. If we are not seen, we will keep together. There is no fear of meeting with any Roman bands, when we are once fairly away. The parties getting wood will have been warned, by the smoke, of what has taken place; and will have hurried back, to gain their share of the spoil.|

At the end of the half hour, John rose to his feet and led the way along the passage to the entrance. When he came to the spot where it was nearly blocked up, he blew out his light, and crawled forward over the rubbish, until he reached the open air. The others followed, until all were beside him. Then he rose to his feet. The Temple was not visible, but the whole sky seemed on fire above Jerusalem; and the outline of the three great towers of the Palace of Herod, and of the buildings of the upper city, stood black against the glare.

There was no sign of life or movement near as, with a quick, noiseless step, the little party stole away. None of them knew more than the general direction which they had to follow, but the glare of the great fire served as a guide as to their direction and, even at this distance, made objects on the ground plainly visible; so that they were enabled to pick their way among the stumps of the fallen plantations and orchards, through gardens, and by ruined villas and houses, until they reached the edge of the plateau, and plunged down into the valleys descending to the Dead Sea. After walking for two hours, John called a halt.

|We can walk slowly now,| he said, |and avoid the risk of breaking our legs among the rocks. We are safe, here; and had best lie down until morning, and then resume our way. There is no fear, whatever, of the Romans sending out parties, for days. They have the upper city to take, yet, and the work of plunder and division of the spoil to carry out. We can sleep without anxiety.|

It was strange, to them all, to lie down to sleep among the stillness of the mountains, after the din and turmoil of the siege when, at any moment, they might be called upon to leap up to repel an attack. But few of them went off to sleep, for some time. The dull feeling of despair, the utter carelessness of life, the desire for death and the end of trouble which had so long oppressed them -- these had passed away, now that they were free, and in the open air; and the thoughts of the homes they had never thought to see again, and of the loved ones who would greet them, on their return, as men who had almost come back from the dead, fell upon them. They could go back with heads erect, and clear consciences. They had fought, so long as the Temple stood. They had, over and over again, faced the Romans hand to hand, without giving way a foot. They had taken no share in the evil deeds in the city, and had wronged and plundered no one. They did not return as conquerors, but that was the will of God, and no fault of theirs.

At daybreak they were on their feet again, and now struck off more to the left; following mountain paths among the hills until, at last, they came down to the plain, within half a mile of the upper end of the Dead Sea. John here called his companions round him.

|Here, my friends,| he said, |I think it were best that we separated; laying aside our swords and, singly or in pairs, finding the way back to our homes. We know not in what towns there may be Roman garrisons, or where we may meet parties of their soldiers traversing the country. Alone, we shall attract no attention. One man may conceal himself behind a tree, or in the smallest bush; but the sight of a party, together, would assuredly draw them upon us. Therefore, it were best to separate. Some of you will find it shorter to cross the ford of the Jordan, three miles away; while others had best follow this side of the river.|

All agreed that this would be the safer plan and, after a short talk, each took leave of his leader and comrades, and strode away; until Jonas, alone, remained with John.

|Will you cross the river, John, or follow this side?| Jonas asked.

|I think we had best keep on this side, Jonas. On the other the country is hilly, and the villages few. Here, at least, we can gather fruit and corn, as we go, from the deserted gardens and fields; and two days' walking will take us to Tarichea. We can cross there, or take a boat up the lake.|

After waiting until the last of their comrades had disappeared from sight, John and his companion continued their way, keeping about halfway between Jericho and the Jordan. They presently bore to the left, until on the great road running north from Jericho. This they followed until nightfall, rejoicing in the grapes and figs which they picked by the roadside where, but a few months since, little villages had nestled thickly.

Just before darkness fell they came upon a village which, although deserted, had not been burned -- probably owing to some body of Roman soldiers having taken up their post there for a time. They entered one of the houses, lay down, and were soon fast asleep.

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