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For The Temple by G. A. Henty

Chapter 19: At Rome.

Tibellus at once ordered John to be released from all further work, the badge of slavery to be removed, and that he should be supplied with handsome garments, removed into the house, and assigned an apartment with the freedmen. The bearer of the signet of Titus -- now that it was ascertained that the signet had been really given to him by Caesar -- was an important person, and was to be received with consideration, if not honour. When these changes had been made, John was again brought before Tibellus.

|Is there anything else that I can do for your comfort, as one who has been honoured by Titus, himself, our future emperor? You have but to express your wishes, and I shall be glad to carry them out.|

|I would ask, then,| John said, |that my friend and companion may be set free, and allowed to accompany me to Rome. He is my adopted brother. He has fought and slept by my side, for the last four years; and your bounty to me gives me no pleasure, so long as he is labouring as a slave.|

Tibellus at once sent for Philo, and ordered the collar to be filed from the neck of Jonas, and for him to be treated in the same manner as John.

The next day Tibellus invited John to accompany him to the barracks and, as he would take no excuses, he was obliged to do so.

Tibellus presented him to the general and his officers, who received him very cordially; and were much struck with his quiet demeanour, and the nobility of his bearing. John had, for four years, been accustomed to command; and the belief, entertained by his followers, in his special mission had had its effect upon his manner. Although simple and unassuming in mind; and always ready, on his return to the farm, to become again the simple worker upon his father's farm; he had yet, insensibly, acquired the bearing of one born to position and authority.

He was much above the ordinary height; and although his figure was slight, it showed signs, which could well be appreciated by the Romans, of great activity and unusual strength. His face was handsome, his forehead lofty, his eyes large and soft; and in the extreme firmness of his mouth and his square chin and jaw were there, alone, signs of the determination and steadfastness which had made him so formidable a foe to the Romans.

|So you are John of Gamala!| the general said. |We have, doubtless, nearly crossed swords, more than once. You have caused us many a sleepless night, and it seemed to us that you and your bands were ubiquitous. I am glad to meet you, as are we all. A Roman cherishes no malice against an honourable foe, and such we always found you; and I trust you have no malice for the past.|

|None,| John said. |I regard you as the instruments of God for the punishment of my people. We brought our misfortunes upon ourselves, by the rebellion -- which would have seemed madness had it not, doubtless, been the will of God that we should so provoke you, and perish. All I ask, now, is to return to my father's farm; and to resume my life there. If I could do that, without going to Rome, I would gladly do so.|

|That can hardly be,| Tibellus said. |The rule is that when one appeals to Caesar, to Caesar he must go. The case is at once taken out of our hands. Besides, I should have to report the fact to Rome, and Titus may wish to see you, and might be ill pleased at hearing that you had returned to Galilee without going to see him. Besides, it may be some time before all animosity between the two peoples dies out there; and you might obtain from him an imperial order, which would prove a protection to yourself, and family, against any who might desire to molest you. If for this reason, alone, it would be well worth your while for you to proceed to Rome.|

Three days later, Tibellus told John that a ship would sail, next morning; and that a centurion, in charge of some invalided soldiers, would go in her.

|I have arranged for you to go in his charge, and have instructed him to accompany you to the palace of Titus, and facilitate your having an interview with him. I have given him a letter to present to Titus, with greetings, saying why I have sent you to him.

|Here is a purse of money, to pay for what you may require on the voyage; and to keep you, if need be, at Rome until you can see Titus, who may possibly be absent.

|You owe me no thanks,| he said, as John was about to speak. |Titus would be justly offended, were the bearer of his signet ring sent to him without due care and honour.|

That evening Tibellus gave a banquet, at which the general and several officers were present. The total number present was nine, including John and the host -- this being the favourite number for what they regarded as small, private entertainments. At large banquets, hundreds of persons were frequently entertained. After the meal John, at the request of Tibellus, related to the officers the manner of his escapes from Jotapata and Jerusalem, and several of the incidents of the struggle in which he had taken part.

The next morning, he and Jonas took their places on board the ship, and sailed for Rome. It was now far in November, and the passage was a boisterous one; and the size of the waves astonished John, accustomed, as he was, only to the short choppy seas of the Lake of Galilee. Jonas made up his mind that they were lost and, indeed, for some days the vessel was in imminent danger. Instead of passing through the straits between Sicily and the mainland of Italy, they were blown far to the west; and finally took shelter in the harbour of Caralis, in Sardinia. Here they remained for a week, to refit and repair damages, and then sailed across to Portus Augusti, and then up the Tiber.

The centurion had done his best to make the voyage a pleasant one, to John and his companion. Having been informed that the former was the bearer of a signet ring of Titus, and would have an audience with him, he was anxious to create as good an impression as possible; but it was not until Caralis was reached that John recovered sufficiently from seasickness to take much interest in what was passing round him. The travellers were greatly struck with the quantity of shipping entering and leaving the mouth of the Tiber; the sea being dotted with the sails of the vessels bearing corn from Sardinia, Sicily, and Africa; and products of all kinds, from every port in the world.

The sight of Rome impressed him less than he had expected. Of its vastness he could form no opinion; but in strength, and beauty, it appeared to him inferior to Jerusalem. When he landed, he saw how many were the stately palaces and temples; but of the former none were more magnificent than that of Herod. Nor was there one of the temples to be compared, for a moment, with that which had so lately stood, the wonder and admiration of the world, upon Mount Moriah.

The centurion procured a commodious lodging for him and, finding that Titus was still in Rome, accompanied him the next day to the palace. Upon saying that he was the bearer of a letter to Titus, the centurion was shown into the inner apartments; John being left in the great antechamber, which was crowded with officers waiting to see Titus, when he came out -- to receive orders, pay their respects, or present petitions to him.

The centurion soon returned, and told John to follow him.

|Titus was very pleased,| he whispered, |when he read the letter I brought him; and begged me bring you, at once, to his presence.|

Titus was alone in a small chamber, whose simplicity contrasted strangely with the magnificence of those through which he had passed. He rose from a table at which he had been writing.

|Ah, my good friend,| he said, |I am truly glad to see you! I made sure that you were dead. You were not among those who came out, and gave themselves up, or among those who were captured when the city was taken; for I had careful inquiry made, thinking it possible that you might have lost my ring, and been unable to obtain access to me; then, at last, I made sure that you had fallen. I am truly glad to see that it is not so.|

|I was marvellously preserved, then, as at Jotapata,| John said; |and escaped, after the Temple had fallen, by a secret passage leading out beyond the wall of circumvallation. As I made my way home, I fell into the hands of some slave dealers, who seized me and my companion -- who is my adopted brother -- and carried us away to Alexandria, where I was sold. As you had not yet returned to Rome, I thought it better not to produce your signet, which I had fortunately managed to conceal.

|When I heard that you had reached Rome, and had received your triumph, I produced the ring to my master Tibellus; and prayed him to send me and my companion here to you, in order that I might ask for liberty, and leave to return to my home. He treated me with the greatest kindness and, but that I had appealed to you, would of himself have set us free. It is for this, alone, that I have come here; to ask you to confirm the freedom he has given me, and to permit me to return to Galilee. Further, if you will give me your order that I and mine may live peacefully, without molestation from any, it would add to your favours.|

|I will do these, certainly,| Titus said, |and far more, if you will let me. I shall never forget that you saved my life; and believe me, I did my best to save the Temple, which was what I promised you. I did not say that I would save it, merely that I would do my best; but your obstinate countrymen insisted in bringing destruction upon it.|

|I know that you did all that was possible,| John said, |and that the blame lies with them, and not with you, in any way. However, it was the will of God that it should be destroyed; and they were the instruments of his will, while they thought they were trying to preserve it.|

|But now,| Titus said, |you must let me do more for you. Have you ambition? I will push you forward to high position, and dignity. Do you care for wealth? I have the treasures of Rome in my gift. Would you serve in the army? Many of the Alexandrian Jews had high rank in the army of Anthony. Two of Cleopatra's best generals were your countrymen. I know your bravery, and your military talents, and will gladly push you forward.|

|I thank you, Caesar, for your offers,| John said, |which far exceed my deserts; but I would rather pass my life as a tiller of the soil, in Galilee. The very name of a Jew, at present, is hateful in the ear of a Roman. All men who succeed by the favour of a great prince are hated. I should be still more so, as a Jew. I should be hated by my own countrymen, as well as yours, for they would regard me as a traitor. There would be no happiness in such a life. A thousand times better a home by the Lake of Galilee, with a wife and children.|

|If such be your determination, I will say nought against it,| Titus said; |but remember, if at any time you tire of such a life, come to me and I will give you a post of high honour and dignity. There are glorious opportunities for talent and uprightness in our distant dependencies -- east and west -- where there will be no prejudices against the name of a Jew.

|However, for the present let that be. Tomorrow I will have prepared for you an imperial order -- to all Roman officers, civil and military, of Galilee and Judea -- to treat you as the friend of Titus; also the appointment as procurator of the district lying north of the river Hieromax, up to the boundary of Chorazin, for a distance of ten miles back from the lake. You will not refuse that office, for it will enable you to protect your country people from oppression, and to bring prosperity upon the whole district.

|Lastly, you will receive with the documents a sum of money. I know that you will not use it on yourself, but it will be long before the land recovers from its wounds. There will be terrible misery and distress; and I should like to think that in the district, at least, of my friend, there are peace and contentment. Less than this Caesar cannot give to the man who spared his life.|

John thanked Titus, most heartily, for his favours; which would, he saw, ensure his family and neighbours from the oppression and tyranny to which a conquered people are exposed, at the hands of a rough soldiery. Titus ordered an apartment to be prepared for him, in the palace; and begged him to take up his abode there, until a vessel should be sailing for Casarea. Slaves were told off to attend upon him, and to escort him in the city; and everything was done to show the esteem and friendship in which Titus held him. Titus had several interviews with him; and learned now, for the first time, that he was the John of Gamala who had so long and stoutly opposed the Romans.

|If I had known that,| Titus said, with a smile, |when you were in my hands, I do not think I should have let you go free; though your captivity would have been an honourable one. When you said that you would not promise to desist from opposing our arms, I thought that one man, more or less, in the ranks of the enemy would make little difference; but had I known that it was the redoubtable John of Gamala who was in my hands, I should hardly have thought myself justified in letting you go free.|

John, at the request of Titus, gave him a sketch of the incidents of his life, and of the campaign.

|So you have already a lady love,| Titus said, when he had finished. |What shall I send her?

|Better nothing, at present,| he said, after a moment's thought and a smile, |beyond yourself. That will be the best and most acceptable gift I could send her. Time, and your good report, may soften the feelings with which doubtless she, like all the rest of your countrywomen, must regard me; though the gods know I would gladly have spared Galilee, and Judea, from the ruin which has fallen upon them.|

In addition to the two documents which he had promised him, Titus thoughtfully gave him another, intended for the perusal of his own countrymen only. It was in the form of a letter, saying to John that he had appointed him procurator of the strip of territory bordering the Lake of Galilee on the east, not from any submission on his part, still less at his request; but solely as a proof of his admiration for the stubborn and determined manner in which he had fought throughout the war, the absence of any cruelty practised upon Romans who fell into his hands, of his esteem for his character, and as a remembrance of the occasion when they two had fought, hand to hand, alone in the valley going down from Hebron.

The gold was sent directly on board a ship. It was in a box, which required four strong men to lift. A centurion, with twenty men, was put on board the ship; with orders to land with John at Casarea, and to escort him to his own home, or as near as he might choose to take them. Titus took a cordial leave of him, and expressed a hope that John would, some day, change his mind and accept his offer of a post; and that, at any rate, he hoped that he would, from time to time, come to Rome to see him.

The voyage to Caesarea was performed without accident.

|I shall look back at our visit to Rome as a dream,| Jonas said, one evening, as they sat together on the deck of the ship. |To think that I, the goatherd of Jotapata, should have been living in the palace of Caesar, at Rome; with you, the friend of Titus, himself! It seems marvellous; but I am weary of the crowded streets, of the noise, and bustle, and wealth and colour. I long to get rid of this dress, in which I feel as if I were acting a part in a play.

|Do not you, John?|

|I do, indeed,| John replied. |I should never accustom myself to such a life as that. I am longing for a sight of the lake, and my dear home; and of those I love, who must be mourning for me, as dead.|

At Caesarea, a vehicle was procured for the carriage of the chest, and the party then journeyed until they were within sight of Tarichea. John then dismissed his escort, with thanks for their attention during the journey, and begged them to go on to the city by themselves. When they were out of sight, he and Jonas took off their Roman garments, and put on others they had purchased at Caesarea, similar to those they were accustomed to wear at home. Then they proceeded, with the cart and its driver, into Tarichea; and hired a boat to take them up the lake. The boatmen were astonished at the weight of John's chest, and thought that it must contain lead, for making into missiles for slingers.

It was evening when the boat approached the well-known spot, and John and his companion sprang out on the beach.

|What shall we do with the chest?| one of the boatmen asked.

|We will carry it to that clump of bushes, and pitch it in among them, until we want it. None will run off with it, and they certainly would not find it easy to break it open.|

This reply confirmed the men in their idea that it could contain nothing of value and, after helping John and Jonas to carry the chest to the point indicated, they returned to their boat and rowed away down the lake.

|Now, Jonas, we must be careful,| John said, |how we approach the house. It would give them a terrible shock, if I came upon them suddenly. I think you had better go up alone, and see Isaac, and bring him to me; then we can talk over the best way of breaking it to the others.|

It was nearly an hour before Jonas brought Isaac down to the spot where John was standing, a hundred yards away from the house; for he had to wait some time before he could find an opportunity of speaking to him. Jonas had but just broken the news, that John was at hand, when they reached the spot where he was standing.

|Is it indeed you, my dear young master?| the old man said, falling on John's neck. |This is unlooked-for joy, indeed. The Lord be praised for his mercies! What will your parents say, they who have wept for you for months, as dead?|

|They are well, I hope, Isaac?|

|They are shaken, greatly shaken,| old Isaac said. |The tempest has passed over them; the destruction of Jerusalem, the woes of our people, and your loss have smitten them to the ground but, now that you have returned, it will give them new life.|

|And Mary, she is well, I hope, too?| John asked.

|The maiden is not ill, though I cannot say that she is well,| Isaac said. |Long after your father and mother, and all of us, had given up hope, she refused to believe that you were dead; even when the others put on mourning, she would not do so -- but of late I know that, though she has never said so, hope has died in her, too. Her cheeks have grown pale, and her eyes heavy; but she still keeps up, for the sake of your parents; and we often look, and wonder how she can bear herself so bravely.|

|And how are we to break it to the old people?| John asked.

Isaac shook his head. The matter was beyond him.

|I should think,| Jonas suggested, |that Isaac should go back, and break it to them, first, that I have returned; that I have been a slave among the Romans, and have escaped from them. He might say that he has questioned me, and that I said that you certainly did not fall at the siege of Jerusalem; and that I believe that you, like me, were sold as a slave by the Romans.

|Then you can take me in, and let them question me. I will stick to that story, for a time, raising some hopes in their breasts; till at last I can signify to Mary that you are alive, and leave it to her to break it to the others.|

|That will be the best way, by far,| John said. |Yes, that will do excellently well.

|Now, Isaac, do you go on, and do your part. Tell them gently that Jonas has returned, that he has been a slave, and escaped from the Romans; and that, as far as he knows, I am yet alive. Then, when they are prepared, bring him in, and let him answer their questions.|

The evening meal had been ended before Isaac had left the room to feed, with some warm milk, a kid whose dam had died. It was while he was engaged upon this duty that Jonas had come upon him. When he entered the room Simon was sitting, with the open Bible before him, at the head of the table; waiting his return to commence the evening prayers.

|What has detained you, Isaac?| he asked. |Surely it is not after all these years you would forget our evening prayers?|

|I was detained,| the old man said, unsteadily and, at the sound of his voice, and the sight of his face, as it came within the circle of the light from the lamp, Mary rose suddenly to her feet, and stood looking at him.

|What is it?| she asked, in a low voice.

|Why,| Simon asked calmly, |what has detained you, Isaac?|

|A strange thing has happened,| the old man said. |One of our wanderers has returned -- not he whom we have hoped and prayed for most -- but Jonas. He has been a slave, but has escaped, and come back to us.|

|And what is his news?| Simon asked, rising to his feet; but even more imperative was the unspoken question on Mary's white face, and parted lips.

|He gives us hope,| Isaac said to her. |So far as he knows, John may yet be alive.|

|I knew it, I knew it!| Mary said, in a voice scarcely above a whisper.

|O Lord, I thank thee. Why have I doubted Thy mercy?|

And she stood, for a moment, with head thrown back and eyes upraised; then she swayed suddenly, and would have fallen, had not Isaac run forward and supported her until, at Martha's cry, two of the maids hastened up and placed her on a seat.

Some water was held to her lips. She drank a little, and then said, faintly, |Tell us more, Isaac.|

|I have not much more to tell,| he replied. |Jonas says that John certainly did not fall in Jerusalem -- as, indeed, we were told by the young man of his band who returned -- and that he believes that, like himself, he was sold as a slave.

|But Jonas is outside. I thought it better to tell you, first. Now, I will call him in to speak for himself.|

When Jonas entered, Martha and Mary were clasped in each other's arms. Miriam, with the tears streaming down her cheeks, was repeating aloud one of the Psalms of thanksgiving; while Simon stood with head bent low, and his hands grasping the table, upon which the tears were raining down in heavy drops.

It was some little time before they could question Jonas further. Martha and Mary had embraced him as if he had been the son of one, the brother of the other. Simon solemnly blessed him, and welcomed him as one from the dead. Then they gathered round to hear his story.

|John and I both escaped all the dangers of the siege,| he said. |We were wounded several times, but never seriously. God seemed to watch over us; and although at the last, of the six hundred men with which we entered Jerusalem there were but twelve who remained alive, we were among them.|

|Yes, yes, we knew that,| Martha said. |News was brought by a young man of his band, who belonged to a village on the lake, that twelve of you had escaped together on the day the Temple fell. The others all returned to their homes, but no news ever came of you; and they said that some party of Romans must have killed you -- what else could have befallen you? And now we are in February -- nearly six months have passed -- and no word of you!|

|We were carried off as slaves,| Jonas said, |and taken, like Joseph, to be sold in Egypt.|

|And have you seen him, since?| Simon asked.

|Yes, I saw him in Egypt.|

|And he was well then?|

|Quite well,| Jonas replied. |I was sent to Rome, and thence managed to make my way back by ship.|

|We must purchase him back,| Simon said. |Surely that must be possible! I have money, still. I will make the journey, myself, and buy him.|

And he rose to his feet, as if to start at once.

|Well, not now,| he went on, in answer to the hand which Martha laid on his shoulder, |but tomorrow.|

While he was speaking, Mary had touched Jonas, gazing into his face with the same eager question her eyes had asked Isaac. The thought that Jonas was not alone had flashed across her. He nodded slightly, and looked towards the door. In a moment she was gone.

|John!| she cried, as she ran out of the house; at first in a low tone, but louder and louder as she ran on. |John! John! Where are you?|

A figure stepped out from among the trees, and Mary fell into his arms. A few minutes later, she re-entered the room.

|Father,| she said, going up to Simon, while she took Martha's hand in hers, |do you remember you told me, once, that when you were a young man you went to hear the preaching of a teacher of the sect of the Essenes, whom they afterwards slew. You thought he was a good man, and a great teacher; and you said he told a parable, and you remembered the very words. I think I remember them, now:

|'And his father saw him, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him, and said, |Let us be merry, for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.|'

|And so, father, is it even unto us.|

Illustration: The Return of John to his House on the Lake.

Martha gave a loud cry, and turned to the door and, in another moment, was clasped in John's arms. Then his father fell on his neck.

There was no happier household in the land than that which joined in the Psalms of thanksgiving that night. The news spread quickly to the fishermen's cottages, and the neighbours flocked in to congratulate Simon and Martha on the return of their son; and it was long since the strains of the songs of joy had floated out so clear and strong over the water of Galilee for, for years, strains of lamentation and humiliation, alone, had been on the lips of the Jewish maidens.

After the service of song was over, Miriam and the maids loaded the table, while Isaac fetched a skin of the oldest wine from the cellar, and all who had assembled were invited to join the feast.

When the neighbours had retired, John asked his father and Isaac to come down with him, and Jonas, to the side of the lake, to bring up a chest that was lying there.

|It is rather too heavy for Jonas and me to carry, alone.|

|It would have been better, my son, to have asked some of our neighbours. They would gladly have assisted you, and Isaac and I have not, between us, the strength of one man.|

|I know it, father, but I do not wish that any, besides ourselves, should know that the box is here. We will take a pole and a rope with us, and can adjust the weight so that your portion shall not be beyond your strength.|

On arriving at the spot, Simon was surprised at seeing a small box, which it would be thought a woman could have lifted, with ease.

|Is this the box of which you spoke, John? Surely you want no aid to carry this up?|

|We do, indeed, father, as you will see.|

With the assistance of Jonas, John put the rope round the box, and slung it to the pole near one end. He and Jonas then took this end. Simon and Isaac lifted that farthest from the box, so that but a small share of the weight rested upon them. So the chest was carried up to the house.

|What is this you have brought home?| Martha asked, as they laid the box down in the principal room.

|It is gold, mother -- gold to be used for the relief of the poor and distressed, for those who have been made homeless and fatherless in this war. It was a gift to me, as I will tell you, tomorrow; but I need not say that I would not touch one penny of it, for it is Roman gold. But it will place it in our power to do immense good, among the poor. We had best bury it, just beneath the floor, so that we can readily get at it when we have need.|

|It is a great responsibility, my son,| Simon said; |but truly, there are thousands of homeless and starving families who sought refuge among the hills, when their towns and villages were destroyed by the Romans and, with this store of gold, which must be of great value, truly great things can be done towards relieving their necessities.|

The next morning, John related to his family the various incidents which had befallen him and Jonas since they had last parted; and their surprise was unbounded, when he produced the three documents with which he had been furnished by Titus. The letters, saying that the favour of Caesar had been bestowed upon John as a token of admiration, only, for the bravery with which he had fought, and ordering that all Romans should treat him as one having the favour and friendship of Titus, gave them unbounded satisfaction. That appointing him procurator of the whole district bordering the lake to the east surprised, and almost bewildered them.

|But what are you going to do, my son? Are you goiug to leave us, and live in a palace, and appear as a Roman officer?|

|I am not thinking of doing that, father,| John said, with a smile. |For myself I would much rather that this dignity had not been conferred on me by Titus; and I would gladly put this commission, with its imperial seal, into the fire. But I feel that I cannot do this, for it gives me great power of doing good to our neighbours. I shall be able to protect them from all oppression by Roman soldiers, or by tax gatherers. There is no occasion for me to live in a palace, or to wear the garments of a Roman official. The letter of Titus shows that it is to a Jew that he has given this power, and as a Jew I shall use it.

|While journeying here from Rome, I have thought much over the matter. At first, I thought of suppressing the order. Then, I felt that a power of good had been given into my hands; and that I had no right, from selfish reasons, to shrink from its execution. Doubtless, at first I shall be misunderstood. They will say that I, like Josephus, have turned traitor, and have gone over to the Romans. Even were it so, I should have done no more than all the people of Tiberias, Sepphoris, and other cities which submitted to them.

|But I do not think this feeling will last long. All those who fought with me outside Jerusalem, against the Romans, know that I was faithful to the cause of my country. The few survivors of the band I led into Jerusalem can testify that I fought until the Temple fell, and that I escaped by my own devices, and not from any agreement with the Romans.

|Moreover they will, in time, judge me by my acts. I shall rule, as I said, as a Jew, and not as a Roman -- rule as did the judges in the old times, sitting under my own fig tree, here, and listening to the complaints that may be brought to me -- and I trust that wisdom will be given to me, by the Lord, to judge wisely and justly among them.|

|You have decided well, my son,| Simon said. |May God's blessing be upon you!

|What think you, little Mary? How do you like the prospect of being the wife of the ruler of this district?|

|I would rather that he had been the ruler only of this farm,| Mary said, |but I see that a great power of good has been given into his hands, and it is not for me to complain.|

|That reminds me,| Simon said, |of what Martha and I were speaking together, last night. You have both waited long. There is no occasion for longer tarrying. The marriage feast will be prepared, and we will summon our neighbours and friends to assemble here, this day week.

|And now, John, what are you going to do?|

|I am going, father, at once to Hippos, the chief town in the district. I shall see the authorities of the town, and the captain of the Roman garrison, and lay before them the commission of Caesar. I shall then issue a proclamation, announcing to all people within the limits of the district that have been marked out that I have authority, from Rome, to judge all matters that may come before me, in the district; and that all who have causes of complaint, or who have been wronged by any, will find me here, ready to hear their cause, and to order justice to be rendered to them. I shall also say that I shall shortly make a tour through the district, to see for myself into the condition of things, and to give aid to such as need it.|

Great was the surprise of the Roman and Jewish authorities, in Hippos, when John produced the imperial commission. There was, however, no doubting or disputing it. The Roman officers at once placed themselves under his orders, and issued proclamations of their own, in addition to that of John, notifying the fact to all the inhabitants of the district.

Among the Jewish authorities there was, at first, some feeling of jealousy that this young man should be placed over them; but they felt, nevertheless, the great benefits that would arise from the protection which one of their own countrymen, high in the favour of Titus, would be able to afford them. When showing his commission, John had also produced the letter of Titus, giving his reasons for the nomination; and indeed, the younger men in the district, many of whom had followed John in his first campaigns -- and who had hitherto, in accordance with the oath of secrecy taken on enrollment, concealed their knowledge that John of Gamala was the son of Simon -- now proclaimed the fact, and hailed his appointment with joy.

On the appointed day, the marriage of John and Mary took place and, as the news had spread through the country, a vast gathering assembled, and it was made the occasion of a public demonstration. The preparations which Martha and Mary had made for the feast, ample as they had been, would have availed but little among such a multitude; but Isaac and the menservants drove in and slaughtered several cattle and, as those who came for the most part bore presents of wine, oil, bread, goats, and other articles, and the neighbours lent their assistance in preparing a feast at the great fires which were lighted along the shore, while Simon contributed all the contents of his wine store, the feast proved ample for all assembled.

John and his wife moved among the throng, receiving congratulations and good wishes; Mary blushing, and tearful with happiness and pride in the honour paid to John; John himself radiant with pleasure, and with satisfaction at the thought of the good which the power, so strangely conferred upon him, would enable him to effect for his neighbours.

After that, things went on in their ordinary routine at the farm; save that John was frequently away visiting among the villages of the district, which was some thirty miles long by ten wide. The northern portion was thinly inhabited; but in the south the villages were thick, and the people had suffered greatly from the excursions of the Roman foragers, at the time of the siege of Gamala. Many of the villages had been rebuilt, since that time; but there was still great distress, heightened by the number of fugitives from the other side of Jordan.

The aid which John gave enabled most of the fugitives in his district to return to their distant villages, and to rebuild their homes, where there was now little fear of their being again disturbed. The distress in his own district was also relieved. In some cases money was given, in others lent, to enable the cultivators to till their fields, to replant vineyards, and to purchase flocks so that, in the course of a year, the whole district was restored to its normal appearance, and the signs of the destructive war were almost entirely effaced.

Then John was able to settle down in his quiet home. In the morning he worked with his father. In the afternoon he listened to the complaints, or petitions, of those who came before him; settling disputes between neighbours, hearing the stories of those who considered that they were too hardly pressed upon by the tax collector, and doing justice to those who were wronged.

Soon after he married, mindful of the doctrines he had heard during his visit among the community of Nazarites by the Dead Sea, John made inquiries and found that many of the sect, who had left the land when the troubles with the Romans commenced, had now returned; and were preaching their doctrines more openly than before, now that those of the ancient religion could no longer persecute them. At Tiberias a considerable community of the sect soon established themselves; and John, going over, persuaded one of their teachers to take up his abode with him, for a time, and to expound their doctrines to him and his family. He was astonished at the spirit of love, charity, and goodwill which animated the teaching of the Christians -- still more at the divine spirit that breathed in the utterances and animated the life of their Master.

The central idea, that God was the God of the whole world -- and not, as the Jews had hitherto supposed, a special Deity of their own -- struck John particularly, and explained many things which had, hitherto, been difficult for him to understand. It would have been galling to admit as much, in the days of Jewish pride and stubbornness; but their spirit was broken, now; and John could understand that although, as long as the nation had believed in him and served him, God had taken a peculiar interest in them, and had revealed to them much of his nature and attributes -- while the rest of the world had had been left to worship false gods -- He yet loved all the world, and was now about to extend to all men that knowledge of him hitherto confined to the Jews. Above all, John saw how vastly higher was the idea of God, as revealed in the new teaching, than that which the Jews had hitherto entertained regarding him.

A month after the arrival of the teacher, John and Mary were baptized into the new faith; and a few months later Simon and Martha, who had been harder to convince, also became converts.

When Titus was raised to the imperial throne, John, in compliance with the request he had made him, journeyed to Rome, and remained there for a short time as his guest. Titus received him with affection.

|I shall not try to tempt you with fresh offers of honours,| he said, |though I regret that you should refuse to accept a sphere of wider usefulness. From time to time, I have heard of you from the reports of my governors; who say that the district under your charge is the most prosperous and contented in all Palestine, that there is neither dispute nor litigation there, that there are no poor, that the taxes are collected without difficulty; and that, save only that you do not keep up the state and dignity which a Roman official should occupy, you are in all respects a model ruler.|

|I have every reason to be thankful,| John said. |I have been blessed in every way. My parents still survive. I am happy with my wife and children. Your bounty has enabled me to bind up the wounds, and relieve the distress caused by the war. My mind has been opened to heavenly teaching, and I try humbly to follow in the steps of that divine teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.|

|Ah, you have come to believe in him!| Titus said. |There are many of his creed, here in Rome, and they say that they are even on the increase. I would gladly hear, from you, something of him. I have heard somewhat of him from Josephus, who for three years dwelt among the Essenes, and who has spoken to me very highly of the purity of life, the enlightenment, and religious fervour of that sect -- to which, I believe, he himself secretly inclines; although, from the desire not to offend his countrymen, he makes no open confession of his faith.|

John, before he left, explained to the emperor the teachings of his Master; and it may be that the wisdom, humanity, and mildness which Titus displayed, in the course of his reign, was in no small degree the result of the lessons which he learned from John.

The latter came no more to Rome but, to the end of his life, dwelt on the shore of Galilee, wisely governing his little district after the manner of the judges of old.

Jonas never left his friend. He married the daughter of one of the fishermen, and lived in a small house which Simon built for him, close to his own. At the death of the latter, he became John's right hand on the farm; and remained his friend, and brother, to the end.

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