Out of the
Story of the Far
East by Mary E.
THE SQUASH OF
THE VERSE MARTIN
BY THE WAY.
AT THE PANADERIA.
AN HONEST DAY'S
THE VICTORY OF
THE NEW IGLOO.
A voice rang through one of the streets of Alexandria.
"Sinners, away, or keep your eyes to the ground! Keep your eyes to
The white-robed priestesses of Ceres, carrying a sacred basket,
walked in procession through the Alexandrian street, and as they
walked they cried aloud their warning.
So, for four centuries, since the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus,
had priestesses of Ceres walked and called aloud their admonitions
through this city; though of late years men had come to know that
what the sacred basket held was a live snake, supposed to be the
author of sin and death.
Before the great temple of Ceres in the southeast quarter of the
city, the crier stood on the steps of the portico, and proclaimed his
invitation: "All ye who are clean of hands and pure of heart, come to
the sacrifice! All ye who are guiltless in thought and deed, come to
Among the passing people, the lad Heraklas shrank back. When the
sacred basket of Ceres had met him, he had bent his eyes downward,
deeming himself unworthy of the sight. And now, as the crier's
invitation rang from the portico, "All ye who are guiltless in
thought and deed, come to the sacrifice!" Heraklas trembled.
Swiftly he hurried away and passed down the broad street that led
to the Gate of the Moon on the south of Alexandria.
At length he reached the gate, but swiftly yet he pushed forward a
short distance along the vineyard-fringed banks of Lake Mareotis.
Heraklas lifted up his eyes, and marked how the vines by the lake's
side contrasted with the burning whiteness of the desert beyond. The
glaring sand shimmered in the heat of the flaming Egyptian sun. A
thin, vapory mist seemed to move above the heated, barren surface of
the grim sea of sand. Heraklas stretched out his hands in agony
toward the desert, and cried aloud, "O my brother, my brother
Timokles! How shall I live without thee?"
The soft ripple of the lake beside him seemed like mockery. The
tears rolled slowly down his cheeks, as he looked toward the
pitilessly unresponsive desert of the west and southwest. Then
Heraklas, helpless in his misery, raised his hands with the palms
outward before him, after the custom of an Egyptian in prayer, and
addressed him whom the Egyptians thought the maker of the sun, the
god Phthah, "the father of the beginnings," "the first of the gods of
the upper world."
"Hail to thee, O Ptahtanen," began Heraklas, "great god who
concealeth his form, . . thou art watching when at rest; the father
of all fathers and of all gods. . . Watcher, who traversest the
endless ages of eternity."
The familiar words brought no comfort. Between him and the
shimmering desert came the memory of his brother's face, and Heraklas
forgot Ptahtanen, and cried out again in desperation.
His eyes strained toward the desert. Somewhere in its depths, his
twin brother Timokles, the being whom of all on earth Heraklas most
loved, lived,--or perhaps, in the brief week that had elapsed since
he was snatched from his Alexandrian home, had died. Timokles had
forsaken the gods of his own family, the gods his own dead father had
adored, Egypt's gods. The lad would not even worship the gods of Rome.
Timokles had become one of the Christians, and had, in consequence,
been falsely accused of having, during a former inundation, cut one of
the dykes near the Nile. This offense, in the days of Roman rule, was
punishable by condemnation to labor in the mines, or by branding and
transportation to an oasis of the desert.
Timokles, innocent of the crime charged upon him,--having been at
home in Alexandria during the time when he was accused of having been
abroad on the evil errand,--was dragged away to exile, for was he not
a Christian? Living or dead, the desert held him. The Roman emperor,
Septimius Severus, who ruled Egypt, had lately issued an edict that no
one should become a Christian. What hope was there for Timokles?
"He will never come back!" said Heraklas now, with a low sob, as
the desert swam before his tear-filled eyes. "O Timokles!"
There was a rustle among the leaves not far away. Heraklas turned
But it was no person who disturbed his solitude. Heraklas saw only
the head of an ibis, called "Hac" or "Hib" by the Egyptians, and the
lad, mindful of the honor due the bird as sacred to the god Thoth,
the Egyptian deity of letters and of the moon, made a gesture of
semi-reverence. He remembered what the Egyptians were wont to say,
when on the nineteenth day of the first month, they ate honey and
eggs in honor of Thoth: "How sweet a thing is truth!"
Heraklas murmured with a heavy sigh, "Timokles told me he had found
'the truth' O Timokles, is thy 'truth' sweet to thee now? Oh, my
brother, my brother!"
Heraklas cast himself down among the vines, and wept his unavailing
tears. Little did the lad, reared in a pagan home, know of the
sweetness of the Christian faith, for which Timokles had forsaken
Heraklas' small sister, the child Cocce, sat on the pavement in the
central court of her home in Alexandria. Above her towered three
palms that shaded the court. Beside the little girl was an Egyptian
toy, the figure of a man kneading dough. The man would work, if a
string were pulled, but Cocce had thrown the toy aside. Lower and
lower sank the small, brown head, more and more sleepily closed the
large, brown eyes, till the child drooped against a stone table that
was supported by the stone figure of a captive, bending beneath the
weight of the table's top.
As Heraklas entered the court his eyes fell upon his sleeping
little sister, but he noted more closely the stone captive against
which she leaned. Heraklas marked how the captive was represented to
bend beneath the table's weight. The boy's eyes grew fierce. Captivity
seemed a cruel thing, since Timokles had gone into it.
Heraklas flung himself on a seat covered by a leopard's skin, and
gazed moodily upward at the palm-leaves, one or two of which stirred
faintly under the slight wind that came from a corridor, whither the
wooden wind-sails,--sloping boards commonly fixed over the terraces
of the upper portions of Egyptian houses,--had conducted the current
Borne from the streets of Alexandria, there seemed to Heraklas to
come certain new, half-heard noises. He listened, yet nothing
definite reached his ears.
At length, seeing through a range of pillars a slave moving in the
distance, Heraklas summoned the man, and asked what was the cause of
the faintly-heard sounds.
"The people destroy the possessions of some of the Christians,"
humbly replied the slave, whose name was Athribis; and Heraklas,
stung to the quick by the answer, impatiently motioned the man away.
Left alone, Heraklas lifted his head proudly. He would ignore the
pain. What had he to do with the Christians? He, who had watched his
consecration-night in the temple of Isis; he, who had caught some
sight of the Mysteries sacred to that goddess; he, who had worn the
harsh linen robe and those symbolic robes in which a novice watches
his dream-indicated night--what had he to do with Christians? Would
that Timokles had observed the emperor's command that no one should
become a Christian! Heraklas groaned.
The dismissed man-slave, Athribis, looked cautiously back through
the pillars, and smiled. None knew better than he how any reference
to the Christians stabbed the hearts of this family. Athribis himself
hated the Christians. He longed to be out in Alexandria's streets this
moment, that he, too, might be at liberty to pillage the Christians'
houses. Who knew what jewels he might find? And he must stay here,
polishing a corridor's pavement, when such things, were being done in
the streets! His dark eyes glanced back again. Heraklas' head was
Stealthily Athribis passed out of sight of the court. He threaded
his way through corridors.
"Whither goest thou?" asked another slave by the threshold.
"I go to the market to get some lentiles," glibly replied Athribis;
and, passing, he quickly gained the portal and the street.
"One, may find that which is better than lentiles," Athribis
communed with himself, as he wound hither and thither through the
excited crowds. "Should a Christian have jewels, and I none? I, who
am faithful to the gods!"
With this the slave plunged into a company of house-breakers, and
with them boldly attacked the dwelling of a Christian. It was easily
taken, and Athribis rushed with the company into the interior. Stools
and couches were wrenched to pieces, cushions were torn, tables were
"Woe to the Christians of Alexandria!" fiercely muttered one man.
"We will root them from our city! They shall die!"
The crude brick of the building gave way, in places, under repeated
blows. The stucco of the outer walls fell off, and was tracked with
the crushed brick into the halls. Some of the rude company, rushing
to the flat roof of the building, discovered there, hidden by a
wind-sail, a treasure-box, as was at first supposed. On being hastily
opened, however, the box was found to hold nothing but some rolls of
writing. Contemptuously the box was kicked aside.
"Come down! Come down!" cried voices from the court. "Here are the
The loud clamor from below announced that the Christian family had
indeed been discovered, and would be taken to prison.
The company on the roof made haste to descend, to witness the
family's humiliating exit. As Athribis passed by the box again, he
looked more curiously at it. Surely the scrolls must be of some
worth. He could not read, but perhaps something of value might be
secretly hidden inside each of these scrolls. Who knew? It must be!
It seemed incredible that even Christians would be foolish enough to
fill a treasure-box with nothing but rolls of writing, and then
conceal the box so carefully behind this wind-sail!
Athribis purposely lingered a little behind the other men. He
snatched up the rolls, and having hidden them in his garment, hurried
from the roof.
"I am a Christian," calmly said a voice in the court. "Yea, I have
striven to bring others to Christ."
There stood the father of the household, his wife, and their two
children, one a girl of thirteen, the other a boy a little younger.
They had broken the emperor's decree. The father did not deny the
charge brought against them. It was his voice that Athribis had
heard, and the same voice spoke on:
"My children," continued the father, "our days on earth come to a
close. Let us sing our twilight hymn, for now indeed our work is
Above the scornful tumult rose the four voices, singing the
"Twilight," or "Candle Hymn," of the early Christians. The children's
tones trembled a little at first, but soon grew firm, as if sustained
by the calmness with which the parents sang. The angry faces around
the court became yet more fierce with hatred, as, through a moment's
pause, the rioters listened to the words of the hymn:
"Calm Light of the celestial glory, O Jesus Son of the Eternal
Father, We come to thee now as the sun goes down, And before the
evening light We seek thee, Father, Son And Holy Spirit of God. Thou
art worthy to be forever praised by holy voices, O Son of God; thou
givest life to us, And therefore doth the world glorify thee."
Mocking cries arose from the mob. Not daring to linger longer,
Athribis ran out of the house, and hastened homeward, full of
apprehension as to what might await him.
"Where are the lentiles?" asked the slave by the threshold, as
Athribis, forgetful, in his excitement, of the excuse he had made for
his departure, passed swiftly and softly in.
"I found none," quickly answered Athribis, with alarm.
He sped silently to his former place of work, and fell to polishing
the pavement with a zeal unknown before. He knew well enough that the
slave by the threshold would not believe in that excuse, lentiles
being plentiful enough. Terror had robbed Athribis' deceitful tongue
of its usual cunning, and now he silently bewailed his startled
answer. If the slave by the threshold should report to Heraklas'
mother the fact that Athribis had been away!
Athribis longed to have time to unroll the scrolls which he had
hidden in his garment, but he dared not look at them till he should
A voice sounded in the court. Athribis redoubled his zeal: He
recognized the tones of Heraklas' mother.
"I was not long gone! I was not long gone!" the guilty Athribis
hastily assured himself. "Surely she hath hated the Christians, even
as I hate them! I was gone but a moment! Surely she cannot know! If I
find treasure in my rolls, I will give some to the slave by the
threshold. Surely, treasure is as dumbness to a man!"
The footsteps of the mother of Heraklas drew near. The servant
bowed over his work, and dared not lift his eyes. She did not stop!
And Athribis looked breathlessly after the woman, as she passed
"Surely she hath not known what I did!" he gasped as the stately
figure disappeared among the columns. "Isis preserveth me from
stripes! My feet are unbeaten!"
Athribis waited till night, when the household slept. Then he crept
out of the little chamber on the roof where the slaves were wont to
sleep, according to the custom of Egyptian households.
A dim thread of a moon floated toward the west. Athribis crept to a
far part of the roof. The wind blew somewhat, but it did not cool the
fever of excitement felt by him. Within a moment he might be rich! He
might find gold in these scrolls!
He drew out the scrolls. Surely there was something firm inside
this one! He felt something! He narrowly scanned the Christians'
papyrus, as he hastily unrolled it. His lips were parted with
eagerness, his breath panted into the heart of the scroll, as he held
his face down that he might see. He unrolled the papyrus to the end.
He sat up, and drew a breath. His bare feet kicked viciously at the
unrolled papyrus. No treasure in that first scroll! He seized the
second. With eagerness all the greater because of his former
disappointment, he searched through this roll, his face bent down till
his eyelashes almost swept the surface of the writing. In vain! There
"These Christians! What cheats they are!"
He snatched the third roll. With trembling fingers he unrolled
this, the last of the papyrus scrolls. There must be something hidden!
It could not be possible that he would be disappointed in the last
scroll! Was there no treasure? Not a thin wedge of gold at the heart
of this papyrus? Not a jewel, not anything that savored of riches?
Athribis' shaking fingers unrolled the papyrus to its very end.
Nothing but the continuous writing, and the stick on which the scroll
had been rolled! His limp hand let fall the end of the papyrus. It
descended upon the heap at his feet. Had he dared, he would have cried
aloud in his disappointment.
But it was not his voice that pierced the night. Some one had seen
"A robber!" cried a woman's tones. "A thief! On the roof!"
Athribis leaped to his feet. He caught the papyri. Alas, alas! they
were not rolled, now! The wind tossed the long streamers, and as
Athribis in fearful haste snatched them, the breeze blew one scroll
entirely free. It, swept from the roof, and, descending into the
court, hung in a long strip from one of the palms.
The dismayed Athribis cast the other papyri on the roof, and fled.
It was time. The house was being aroused by the cry of the woman.
With his bare, silent feet, Athribis sped through the shadows of the
corridors to what he thought a secret spot, and hid himself. The
house resounded with outcries. Feet ran hither and thither.
Out in the court, hanging all unseen from a palm-tree, swayed the
papyrus, the written copy of part of the Sacred Book of the
It was night on the Libyan desert. The stars glittered on the rocky
highlands that compose so much of that desert, and lit faintly, too,
the areas between, where stretches of sand waited to be shifted by
the next simoon that should blow.
In one spot, at the edge of a rock, there was a movement of the
sand. Out of it a form slowly rose.
The sand shook near by, and another person appeared. Another arose,
and another, till five had arisen.
The man who had first appeared spoke, slowly, in a voice that told
"The Emperor Septimius Severus reigneth over our land," he said.
"He hath forbidden that any one should become a Christian. But how
shall we cease to tell men of Christ? How shall he cease to draw men
"Severus hath not been always thus," answered another voice, faint
with weakness. "Proculus, the Christian, once saved the life of
either Severus or his child, and the emperor took Proculus into the
palace and treated him kindly, and chose a Christian nurse for
Severus' boy, Caracalla. When the Romans rose against the Christians,
Severus shielded our brethren. Oh, that the priests of the false gods
of Egypt had not enticed our emperor!"
"Alas for him!" responded the first voice. "The Emperor Severus
worshipeth the false gods of Egypt, but we serve the Lord Christ.
Farewell to Egypt's gods! They shall pass, but Thou shalt endure!"
"Amen," murmured the lad Timokles. "Even so! Thou art Lord of
lords, and King of kings, O Christ!"
Suddenly there was a cry of other voices. Up from the rocks of the
plateau behind the five there sprang a second group of persons.
The five Christians, knowing the voices of their former heathen
captors, fled. The lad Timokles was closely pursued. He felt, rather
than heard, close behind him, the footsteps of his enemy, and,
turning sharply, Timokles sped away in another direction.
Here and there, back and forth, the two ran in the star-lit
darkness. The five Christians were widely scattered now. Shouts and
cries came faintly from a distance. Timokles rushed toward the rocky
"Stop, Christian, stop!" cried his enemy, leaping forward with
But Timokles fled, stumbling over stones. On came his enemy's swift
leap behind. A piercing cry, as of some one in agony, rang from the
desert's distance. Timokles sped faster.
"Stop!" commanded the voice of the runner behind. "Stop!"
A swift prayer burst from Timokles' lips. He fled on, his pursuer
so near sometimes that Timokles' heart failed him.
"Stop!" screamed his foe. "Stop!"
The fierce command pulsed through Timokles' brain. The man behind
suddenly slipped, stumbling over the stones. He fell heavily, and in
that instant's time, Timokles darted forward behind one of the rocks,
and, creeping underneath it, lay breathless in the darkness.
The man struggled to his feet. Up past the other side of the rock
rushed the pursuer. Timokles, quaking, expected every instant to be
"Where art thou?" savagely called the man. "Where?"
He ran hither and thither with fiercely muttered imprecations. Now
his footsteps sounded farther off, and now again he ran back and came
softly stealing around among the rocks. Timokles laid his branded
cheek against the gravel, and waited.
The footsteps went, and came, and went again in the dark. Timokles
trembled from head to foot. He did not fear death, but he dreaded
capture and unknown terrors.
The dark form passed by again. A chill went over Timokles, as he
thought he saw a weapon in the man's hand.
The footsteps became inaudible once more. Timokles, waiting a long
time, imagined his foe might have gone. As the lad was about to lift
his head, a hand brushed along the side of his rock, and reached out
into the dark, underneath. Timokles was perfectly quiet. The hand
above him felt down the sides of the rock, waved in the darkness
above the boy, descended and rested an instant on the gravel next
him--but did not touch him. The silent menace of the groping hand was
terrible. Timokles held his breath.
The hand passed on, feeling of other rocks.
"O God of thy people, thou hast hidden me!" cried Timokles in his
heart, as he heard the soft rubbing of his enemy's hand against the
The sound died away. Timokles lay listening for a long time. Once
he thought he heard a creeping sound, but it was only the wind.
Sleep came upon him at last, and when he woke it was day. He dared
not come out, but lay there through the torrid hours, moistening his
lips now and then with a little water from the small, skin water-
pouch he carried.
The sun plunged beneath the horizon at last, with the usual seeming
suddenness observed in the desert. Night was welcome to Timokles, and
he came forth. The lad's heart was very lonely. He looked toward the
northeast, and remembered his Alexandrian home--his mother, the
brother with whom Timokles' whole life had been bound up, the little
sister Cocce, whom Timokles had last seen playing gleefully with a
toy crocodile, and laughing at its opening mouth.
"O Severus!" whispered Timokles, "what didst thou see, when thou
visitedst Egypt five years ago, that thou shouldest decree such evil
against the Egyptian Christians now?"
Softly Timokles went his way in the dark. He was hungry, yet he
dared eat little of the dried dates he had with him. When would he
find other food?
For a time he looked warily around, but soon his sense of
loneliness overcame his fear, and he watched more for some sign of his
four friends than for an indication of an enemy.
"Perhaps some Christian hath escaped, even as I have," thought
Outstretched before him lay a figure of a man! Timokles stood
motionless, till he perceived the man be to be asleep. Then the lad
bent over the sleeper to scan his face. But, as Timokles stooped, he
dimly saw, in the relaxed, open palm of the man's hand, a small stone
of the triangular form under which the Egyptians were wont to worship
Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Such are the stones found in the tombs of the
This was no Christian sleeper that lay at Timokles' feet! The lad
turned and fled into the distance.
Through the desert there wailed a thin, plaintive cry. It was the
voice of a night-wandering jackal.
Timokles was dizzy to faintness, and staggered as he was driven on.
He had been discovered and taken. His life had been spared that he
might henceforth be a slave.
"I bear this for thy sake, O Lord, dear Lord!" murmured the
exhausted lad, as the blows drove him through the pathless desert.
Again came the plaintive cry of the wandering jackal.
"For thy sake!" faintly repeated Timokles.
A few minutes passed, and once more the jackal's inarticulate voice
wailed through the desert, but Timokles had fallen, helpless. A man
sprang forward, and the lash fell again and again on Timokles'
prostrate body, but the boy did not stir.
"Now see how the Christian would die in the desert, and cheat us of
all the work he might do!" grumbled the vexed voice of a dismounted
camel-rider. "He is young. There are many years of work in him!"
"Leave him!" scornfully advised another, who held a torch. "Some
beast will find him."
Nay, but he shall go with me to Carthage," asserted a third, from
the height of his camel's back. "Carthage knoweth what to do with
"Who art thou that thou shouldest own the Christian?" demanded the
first, angrily gazing up at the presumptuous rider. "Did I not find
The mounted camel-rider laughed, and tossed something toward the
irate speaker. The man caught the object, a ring of gold, containing
"Take it," said the giver to the appeased rival. "The Christian is
The unconscious Timokles was taken up at a sign from the
camel-rider to one of his servants, and the cavalcade proceeded on its
way. As his camel paced forward, Pentaur, the purchaser, glanced back
twice or thrice.
"Truly," he assured himself with much complacency, as he perceived
Timokles being carried, "I follow the maxim of Ptah-hotep: 'Treat
well thy people, as it behooveth thee; this is the duty of those whom
the gods favor.'"
As Pentaur, for that moment, thought of the dread hour when, after
death, according to Egyptian belief, he should stand before the
judgment-seat of Osiris, the camel-rider felt convinced that he would
have merl which might stand him in good stead in that ordeal.
Little by little, Timokles regained consciousness. He marveled to
find himself carried. He had expected to be killed where he fell. The
many painful welts of the lash's stripes stung him with keen pain.
"O mother! mother!" Timokles' heart cried silently.
Had she indeed lost all love for him, since she had told him she
wished he had died rather than become a Christian?
"Lord Christ," cried Timokles' breaking heart now, "I have left all
The company pushed on rapidly. At length, after morning with its
heat had come, the party halted, and the slave who had carried
Timokles flung him on the sand, the slave comforting himself that
possibly the evil of the Christian's touch might be warded off by a
symbolic eye of Horus that the pagan wore tied to his arm by a
slender string. Such eyes were often used by Egyptians as amulets and
When the hot hours of the day were past, the caravan again made,
ready to go on. The merchant, Pentaur, summoned Timokles, and with
condescending good-nature, demanded his history. Timokles told it.
"Why shouldest thou be a Christian?" commented Pentaur. "See, we
come to-night to Ammonium the oasis. Every camel-step doth lead thee
farther toward Carthage! Thou wilt perish there! Carthage doth hate
Timokles looked into Pentaur's eyes.
"Yea, I know that Carthage hateth them," the lad answered. "I heard
that four years ago, when the proconsul Saturninus persecuted the
Christians; and when a number were brought from the little town of
Scillita to Carthage to appear before the tribunal of Saturnin, one
man called Speratus spoke frankly and nobly for his brethren. When
the proconsul Saturninus invited Speratus to swear by the genius of
the emperor, the proconsul promising the Christians mercy if they
would do this and return to the worship of the gods, Speratus
answered, 'I know of no genius of the ruler of this earth, but I
serve my God who is in heaven, whom no man hath seen nor can see. I
render what is due from me, for I acknowledge the emperor as my
sovereign; but I can worship none but my Lord, the King of all kings
and Ruler of all nations.' So were the Christians taken to the place
of execution, where they knelt and prayed, and were then beheaded."
Timokles' eyes. fell. His voice trembled.
"O Lord Christ," he added, reverently, "I also would be faithful
The merchant's piercing look regarded Timokles for a few minutes.
"There were women among those twelve Christians who were brought
from Scillita to Carthage to die," continued Timokles, "three women,
called Donata, Secunda, and Vestina. When they were brought before
the proconsul, he said to them, 'Honor our prince, and offer
sacrifice to the gods.' Donata answered, 'We give to Caesar the honor
that is due Caesar: but we adore and offer sacrifice to God alone.'
Vestina, said, 'I also am a Christian.' Secunda said, 'I also believe
in my God, and will continue. faithful to him. As for thy gods, we
will neither serve nor adore them.'
"O my master," continued Timokles, with trembling voice," thinkest
thou not that the God who so strengthened three women that they did
not shrink from death for his sake, could strengthen me to meet
Pentaur looked fixedly at the lad, who stood with no air of bravado
about him, but with an expression of humble trust that the merchant
could not fathom.
"Why shouldest thou risk death?" questioned the merchant. "Death
will defeat a Christian."
"Nay, O master!" exclaimed Timokles eagerly. "Death may be glorious
"Oh!" broke forth Timokles earnestly, "I know a death that was a
glorious victory! Carthage knew of it! Didst thou not hear what was
done last year at Carthage? Didst thou not know of the Christian
lady, Vivia Perpetua, and the Christian slave, Felicitas?"
A shudder ran through Pentaur, as Timokles continued:
"Thinkest thou that what they suffered was nothing? Vivia Perpetua
was the best loved of a heathen father's children. How she suffered
in her heart, when her old father came to the prison and besought her
to give up Christ! 'Daughter,' begged the old man, 'have pity on my
gray hairs. Have compassion on thy father!' He wept at her feet. He
begged her to have pity on her little child. But she could not give up
Christ. Wert thou there, O Pentaur, when the governor examined the
prisoners? Didst thou see Vivia Perpetua's old father press forward,
carrying her babe in his arms, and beg her to recant for the child's
sake? Didst thou hear the judge ask her, 'Art thou then a Christian?'
and didst thou hear her answer, 'I am'?"
Timokles paused. Pentaur had groaned. His face was hidden in his
"And then," continued Timokles, "the wretched father, hearing his
daughter speak those words that doomed her to death, tried to draw
her from the platform. He was struck with a stick, and the judge
condemned Vivia Perpetua and Felicitas, with the other Christians, to
be exposed to the wild beasts."
Another low groan broke from Pentaur. Timokles hesitated an
instant, then hurried on:
"The Christians were to die in the amphitheatre of Carthage. At the
gate of the amphitheatre, the guards offered the men among the
Christians the red mantle of the priests of Saturn, and offered the
women the fillet worn by the priestesses of Ceres. But the Christians
refused. 'We have come here,' they said, 'of our own free will, that
we might not be deprived of our freedom. We have forfeited our lives
in order to be delivered from doing such things.' Even the heathen
could see the justice of this, and the Christians were not compelled
to wear the things. In the amphitheatre, Vivia Perpetua and Felicitas
were put into a net, and allowed to be attacked by a wild cow. Then
the two martyrs gave each other the kiss of peace, and a gladiator
Timokles paused once more. Still no response.
"I remember hearing one thing more concerning Vivia Perpetua,"
ventured Timokles. "In prison she had had a vision. She thought she
saw a golden ladder stretching up to heaven, and on either side of
the ladder were swords, and spears, and knives. At the foot of the
ladder lay a dragon. Perpetua thought in her vision that she was
commanded to mount the ladder. She set her foot on the dragon's head,
saying, 'He will not harm me, in the name of Jesus Christ,' and went
up the ladder. At the top she found a large garden, and the Good
Shepherd met her."
Pentaur sprang to his feet, and put out a shaking hand.
"No more!" he cried. "Oh, no more! No more! O Vivia, Vivia!"
With a groan of anguish, Pentaur looked upward, as if behind the
desert's sky he might see again that youthful face, the face of that
sweet Christian with whom he had been acquainted from childhood and
whom he had last seen dying in Carthage's amphitheatre. Little did
Timokles know how the memory of Vivia Perpetua's death hour had
haunted Pentaur. They had been children together in Carthage, and the
martyrdom that Vivia Perpetua had suffered in her young womanhood had
impressed Pentaur more than all the agony he had seen other Christians
endure. When she gave up her life, he had clinched his hands, and
muttered fierce words against Carthage's gods, words he afterward
trembled to recall. He served those gods now, yet he revered the
memory of the Christian, Vivia Perpetua, as of one of the holiest of
Timokles ventured no further words.
Pentaur summoned a slave, and committed to his care the young
Christian. The memory of Vivia Perpetua might pierce the merchant's
soul, but would not avail for Timokles' release.
Bound to another slave to prevent escape, Timokles traveled with
the company that night, and before morning the oasis of Ammon, "Oasis
Ammonia," was reached. It was a green and shady valley, several miles
long and three broad, in the midst of sand-hills. Here, over five
hundred years before, had come the founder of Alexandria, Alexander
the Great, to visit the oracle of Ammon, the god figured to be like a
man having the head and horns of a ram. The statue of Amun-Ra had then
been loaded with jewels, through the reverence of the merchants who
halted their caravans at this oasis, and who left their treasures in
the strong rooms of the temple, while resting the camels under the
All this Timokles remembered, as he stood beside the steaming
Fountain of the Sun in the oasis, and watched the bubbles that
constantly rose to the surface of that famous body of water.
"O branded-cheeked cutter of dykes, art thou in very truth a
Christian?" contemptuously asked the slave that guarded Timokles.
"I am, O friend," gently answered the lad.
"Ill shalt thou fare in this oasis, then," threatened the slave.
Timokles' eyes wandered over the landscape. The surface of the
oasis was undulating, and on the north it rose into high, limestone
hills. Date palms abounded near by Timokles. He could see the
inhabitants of the village, and the wanderers from farther, more
isolated homes. The oasis was composed of several disconnected tracts,
and Timokles heard that in the western part of the oasis there was a
Suddenly the lad became aware of a number of angrily excited
voices. At a short distance stood Pentaur the merchant, surrounded by
a group of men, but what he said was lost in the confusion of tongues.
At length the merchant made a careless gesture, and walked away.
"Take the Christian!" shouted fierce voices.
A man ran straight from the group to Timokles. Without a word the
man seized the lad. Other hands assisted, and Timokles was hurried
away from the village, past palm trees and resting camels, toward the
north. Breathlessly the men dragged him a long distance over the
rising ground. No word of explanation was uttered. Timokles was swept
along, till at length the silent, determined company came to a
solitary, ruined building.
Timokles was pulled over the fallen stones, across what had once
been the court of the dwelling. Then the company reached a spot where
part of the house was still standing. Here a barred door shut off
further progress, but two of the men with great effort opened the
All grasping hands fell from Timokles. The company waited.
"Go in, O Christian," commanded, a man. "Others have gone before
Timokles looked fixedly forward. Before him was a hall-way, leading
into the portion of the dwelling-house yet remaining.
Timokles stepped forward. Eager hands pushed him quickly into the
hall and shut the door behind him. He heard the sound of bars that
fastened the door securely at his back. He was alone. What building
He felt here and there in the dark hall. A peculiar odor floated in
the heavy air. Timokles hesitated, fearing he knew not what. His eyes
could not pierce the deep gloom.
Resolving to see whither the hall led, he groped on, wondering if
this were the place in which the inhabitants of the oasis were wont
to confine prisoners. He came to a door. It opened readily to his
touch, and he passed into what had once been a large dwelling-room.
He stepped softly forward, noting the emptiness and desolation of the
place. The peculiar odor of the air was more noticeable than before,
but it was not till he had reached the middle of the darkened room,
and stood gazing about him, that he perceived at the farther end, in
the shadows, a space of yellowish fawn color, and then saw manifold
dark spots, also, that shaped themselves into a large, living form.
Timokles drew one quick breath. He softly retreated. Keeping his
eyes fixed on the huge, sleeping leopard, Timokles put out his hand
to take hold of the door through which he had come. His groping
fingers found nothing but the blank wall!
Hastily turning with alarm, Timokles passed his hand over the
wall's surface. Surely the door had been here! There was no handle, no
line in the wall to indicate the existence of a door.
How silently it had swung shut, when he had come through! He
remembered that there had been no noise. He pressed his full force
now against the wall. He tried it softly, cautiously, here and there,
till he had passed over the entire space in which he knew the door
must be, and yet the wall stood apparently blank and whole before him!
The other walls seemed to be solid.
With beating heart, Timokles pushed once more at the partition. It
remained firm. Trembling with the shock of his sudden entrapping,
Timokles looked toward the room's far end. It was as he thought. The
beast was not chained. The sleeping leopard's spotted hide heaved
softly yet, with undisturbed breathing, and as Timokles watched
across the space, he remembered the ominous words spoken to him on
his entrance into this building: "Go in, O Christian! Others have
gone before thee!"
For a time, overcome by the horror of his situation, Timokles
leaned against the partition, the door through which had so
mysteriously disappeared. His eyes, between quick glances at the
sleeping leopard, searched with desperate intensity every part of the
room, for some means of escape.
"Is there no place?" he questioned.
Stealthily he crossed the apartment, and felt of the opposite wall.
It was immovable. Nowhere in it could he discover any opening.
The beautiful beast, the waking of which meant so much to Timokles,
stirred a little. The claws of one foot were drawn up. Then the foot
was relaxed again. The leopard continued to slumber.
High above Timokles were two small windows, closed by wooden
shutters. The half-ruined flat roof showed holes here and there where
the old palm branches of its construction, covered with mats and
plastered with mud, had given way. Had it not been for these holes in
the roof, Timokles would hardly have had light enough to perceive the
leopard, for the wooden shutters of the two windows prevented their
being of much service.
Even with the roof's holes, the room was dark. The rents in the
roof were much too far above Timokles to help him to escape; however,
and he reflected that if the roof. had been lower, the place would
hardly have been chosen for the confinement of a wild beast, the
present height of the walls preventing the escape of the leopard, as
well as that of any Christian.
The leopard stirred again!
"He wakes!" thought Timokles, summoning his courage for that
But the great cat only moved his head to a somewhat more
comfortable position, and continued to sleep.
Timokles repassed slowly and silently so much of the walls as was
accessible to him. The wall next to the sleeping beast could not be
safely examined, yet Timokles, looking through the gloom, noted from
his distance no more promising signs than were exhibited by the other
three sides of the room. Most of all did he linger about the spot
where, it seemed to him, he had entered, and more than once as he
touched the surface of the wall, seeking for some hidden spring, he
thought he heard behind him the leopard's soft footsteps, but, turning
hastily, found himself mistaken.
At length, in his search, Timokles slightly stumbled over some
lumps of mud that had fallen from the roof. The crunching sound partly
aroused the leopard. With a long-drawn sigh, the drowsy creature
stirred and rose slowly to his feet, stretching himself. He did not
yet see Timokles.
How beautiful the spotted hide was! Timokles, watching with steady
eyes for the instant when he should be discovered, had a fleeting
memory of that leopard-skin that covered a seat at home in.
Alexandria. He would never sit there again.
Even in these dread moments of suspense, there flashed across
Timokles' mind the memory of the saying of the martyr Ignatius,
bishop of Antioch, who was sent to Rome to fight with wild beasts: "I
am God's wheat; the teeth of the fierce beasts will but bruise me,
that I may be changed into the fine bread of my God."
It was the moment of discovery! The leopard had been standing,
looking around half sleepily. Now his great eyes spied the lad.
The beast gave a quick, purring sound of satisfaction. His tail
began to sweep to and fro. His hungry eyes were eager.
Timokles stood quiet. The leopard walked slowly forward. Timokles
retreated, still facing the leopard. They passed down one wall. They
turned, and proceeded along another. They turned again, and passed
the third. Now they turned, and this wall was the one that Timokles
had not before had opportunity to examine closely, because of the
leopard's proximity to it. But now he dared not look from the
"Oh!" whispered Timokles' pale lips, "what shall I do!"
Suddenly life seemed sweeter to him than ever before. He must not
fall into the jaws of this fearful beast! To be caught in this
death-trap, and be torn to pieces! It must not be! He did not regret
that he had avowed his belief in Christ. He would do such a thing
again, if necessary. No less, there grew within him a determination
to ward off this beast as long as possible.
"Oh, Lord, help me! Deliver me!" whispered Timokles.
They turned another corner, and once more the two enemies proceeded
down the treacherous wall through which Timokles had entered the
room. Even as he retreated, Timokles with a last hope kept one hand
pushing against this wall. But they reached the other corner, and
turned, without any revelation of an opening. The leopard walked
leisurely, but steadily. Softly the footsteps of Timokles and the
beast sounded in the room, one footfall answering another. Backward,
backward, went Timokles--now a turn of a corner--backward, backward.
Another corner. This was the wall by which the leopard had slept.
Backward, backward! The lad could not pause, but now, as he neared
the end of the wall and looked up once beyond the leopard, Timokles
saw, in the dark corner that he had passed, what he had not before
noticed when near enough to see it, as he had not before lifted his
eyes from the leopard. In that farther, dark corner there was a
darker line that marked the wall for some distance from the roof.
Timokles dimly perceived that the line was part of one of the old
palm branches, that, years ago, had been laid across the split date
tree that formed the roof's beam. At the time of the making of the
roof, the palm branches had no doubt been securely fastened, and now
this portion of a branch which hung down was still attached to the
top of the outer wall of the building, but had ceased to be connected
with the central split date tree beam, and had fallen inward, hanging
near the wall. Did the palm branch hang low enough so that, if he
jumped, he could grasp it?
The portion of the old palm branch was a slender thing. It would
not have borne the leopard's weight. Probably the animal had tried to
clutch the branch before now. The lower end might be frayed by his
"Will the branch bear my weight?" questioned Timokles.
He dared not rush across the room, and leap toward the hanging palm
branch. He felt certain that if he should turn his back, the leopard
would spring immediately. How quickly the beast was coming! Timokles'
head whirled. He was dizzy.
Suddenly the leopard growled. He crouched as if to spring, and
Timokles, with a wild cry, fled across the room toward the palm
branch. After him rushed the leopard.
Timokles jumped. He grasped the palm branch with one hand. The
other brought a handful of frayed bark down. He caught hold of the
branch with both hands just as the leopard sprang into the air.
Timokles swung aside as far as possible. A great mass of mud,
dislodged from the roof, fell, smiting alike boy and beast,
enveloping them in a cloud of blinding dust. The lad clung to the
branch with desperate strength, though his support was swaying to and
fro. The claws of one of the leopard's paws raked Timokles' arm, and
then the beast dropped to the floor.
The leopard's angry cries stunned Timokles' ears. He clutched the
palm branch tightly. From the swaying motion and the sound of a
slight, though ominous, cracking, Timokles doubted if his support
The rage of the leopard was frightful. He seemed beside himself. He
leaped and rushed hither and thither, as he saw Timokles climbing
The boy shook with exhaustion. His right arm bled from the wounds
of the leopard's claws. He was alarmed lest the old palm branch should
break or should loosen from the wall. If he once fell back into the
leopard's jaws, there would be a swift end to this skirmishing.
Timokles looked down at the eager eyes. Then he scanned the palm
branch narrowly. It did not hang parallel with the wall, but stood
out a little from it, and Timokles thought that the branch was partly
broken, up next the roof. He hardly dared climb much higher for fear
of breaking it entirely off. So he lay along the branch, clasping it
with his arms, and shut his eyes. He heard the leopard walk
impatiently around, stop, utter an angry cry, walk restlessly again,
spring unavailingly into the air, drop heavily to the floor.
At last Timokles opened his eyes. A yellow light, turning into
darkness, seemed to fill the space before him. Alarmed, he strove to
overcome this faintness. He knew his arm had been bleeding a little,
but he had not before this feared unconsciousness. Now he began to
feel that he must reach the roof. His faintness might prevent him
from clinging to the palm branch much longer.
With Timokles' first motion the leopard was alert again. Timokles
climbed cautiously. He was nearing the roof. There was a cracking
sound, such as he had heard, before. The leopard moved vehemently.
Suddenly the branch cracked so that it swung Timokles against the
wall. The leopard's movement sounded like a leap.
Timokles was sure that the branch was giving way. He was nearly to
the roof. He clutched at it. The mud-covered, rotten mat that he
grasped broke through his fingers, and the dust descended into his
face. He grasped again, with the same result. The branch was
momentarily growing looser. The leopard was ready.
Timokles grasped again--again--again! The rotten mats and the mud
with which they had been plastered came away in great handfuls. He
could hardly see, for the descending dust. He grasped blindly,
desperately. He felt something firm! It was another palm branch that
his fingers reached as he dug through the mud. He held on with the
clutch of despair.
His head just reached a hole in the roof. He missed his grasp, and
fell back on the swinging, broken palm branch. With one final,
cracking sound it parted! Timokles' one hand grasped the top of the
wall; his other hand reached the outer part of the roof. He heard the
old palm branch fall, and the leopard spring to meet it.
Dragging himself upward, panting with exhaustion, Timokles
succeeded in mounting through the hole to the outside of the roof. His
foot plunged through a mat. He recovered himself, and crawling to a
little distance from the hole, he lay down on the roof. The sun was
high in the heavens, but all the world became black to Timokles.
He lay there, faint, for hours. When he could look up at last, the
sun was descending toward the west. Far overhead sailed the sacred
hawk of Egypt, and the bird's piercing cry, full of melancholy,
reached Timokles' ears. The shadow of a palm tree stretched outward
and touched him.
"Oh, God!" whispered Timokles reverently, "Thou west Daniel's God.
Thou art mine!"
Night had fallen. Timokles, lying in the dark, heard a sound beside
the building. Some one was coming!
Timokles crept to the roof's edge farthest from the sound, and lay
The head of a man appeared above the roof's level. Evidently he was
not accustomed to the roof, for he was very cautious in his
movements, and tested every step he took. He carefully approached one
of the holes of the roof, and, kneeling, put his face down to the
The man spoke, and, by his tones, Timokles recognized Pentaur the
"Oh, Christian!" cried Pentaur into the depth of the building,
"livest thou? Ill shall I fare at the judgment of Osiris for this
There was silence.
Perhaps, from the darkness of the room below, Pentaur could see the
shining of the brute's eyes, or hear his uneasy stepping to and fro.
Something sent a shudder of horror through the man.
"I have taken pleasure in righteousness," he protested. "I have
heretofore done no injury to men who honored their gods. Oh, Osiris,
I have been righteous!"
There was an awful horror in the man's voice. Timokles was moved
with compassion for his former owner, and yet the lad kept silent.
"Shall I speak to him?" Timokles questioned himself. "If he shall
be beset in some other place by those who hate Christians, will he not
abandon me again to my enemies?"
The merchant waited a moment longer.
"Oh, Osiris!" then he wailed again, "I have been righteous! He was
only a Christian!"
The merchant sprang up, and sped toward the edge of the roof where
he had first appeared. His foot plunged to its ankle through a weak
place in the mats. He shrieked aloud at the fear of falling through
into the room below. Hurrying forward, he disappeared down the side
of the building. Timokles heard the man running among the fallen
stones. The footsteps grew faint, and ceased to be audible.
Timokles drew a breath of thankfulness. He crept and felt in the
dark for a few, scattered dates that he had before noticed lying near
the roof's edge, the fruit having fallen from a date palm and having
lain there till nearly as dry as shards. But there was still nutriment
left in the dates, and, having eaten nothing since morning, he gnawed
He could not descend by the date palm's trunk, for that was too far
from the roof to be reached by him. The palm's straight trunk shot up
twenty cubits above the roof's level, and, after the manner of the
date palm's growth, bore no branches, such as the doum palm has.
"How did Pentaur climb?" thought Timokles.
The lad passed to the other edge, where the merchant had
disappeared. Here, a little lower as yet than the roof, he found a
group of young doum palms, the branching stems of which variety of
trees he had noticed here and there in forest-like clumps throughout
the oasis. Timokles found no difficulty in descending with the doum
palms' help, and he reflected that perhaps food for the leopard was
often brought up this way, and thrown to the creature through the
roof's holes. No one had come to-day with food, because the Christian
had been sent to keep the leopard company!
The village, some distance away, was quiet. Scarcely had he gone a
score of steps before he saw a star reflected in a spring at his
feet. Timokles dropped upon his knees, and with thankfulness drank of
the refreshing water. How he had longed for some, as he had lain on
the roof under the parching sun this day! He bathed his scratched arm,
which had ceased to bleed but still felt very sore.
Carefully Timokles crept over the fallen remnants of the old
building. Then he turned from the direction in which the village lay,
and set his face toward the northern limestone hills.
He was concealed among them when the sun rose. It would be folly
for him to venture out alone upon the desert without food, even if he
had water in his small skin bottle. As the morning went by, Timokles
saw a few desert hares, but otherwise he was alone. Toward evening,
being compelled to find some food, he searched the district, and
found, under the stones, the nest of some wild bees. With much
difficulty Timokles obtained a little of the honey.
A falling stone attracted Timokles' attention. Turning with quick
affright, he saw a woman. There was a startled suspicion in her eyes,
as she gazed at him. She held a young gazelle that had strayed away
and had been the object of her search near these hills. Suddenly the
woman disappeared without a word.
"Let me hide speedily!" Timokles warned himself.
He ran, but shouts arose behind, and before he could conceal
himself, two men came running after him. The woman's shrill cry was
audible. The men came up with Timokles, and laying hold of him in a
manner not wholly rough but still imperative; they brought him back
with them to the spot where the woman still stood.
The three looked at him with curious yet not wholly unfriendly
eyes, and Timokles felt relieved on seeing that he was not recognized
as any one whom they had seen before. This spot was so far from that
on which the building stood where he had been given to the leopard,
that the lad concluded these people had not witnessed that scene.
Pentaur's caravan would have left the oasis before now. Probably the
merchant was about to renew his journey at the time of his visit to
the leopard's den.
The woman pointed to Timokles' branded cheek. Taking heart from the
apparent lack of real hostility in the manner of his captors,
Timokles asked for something to eat. He was understood, and the
three, taking Timokles, turned from the hills, and proceeded
eastward, till, coming to a black tent near some palms, the woman
went in and brought Timokles some barley cakes.
While the boy ate, the two men, still watching him, betook
themselves to work. They seemed to be makers of idols. The father was
carving a small wooden statuette of the god Thoth. The son worked on a
larger idol, the goddess Apet, or Thoueris, in the shape of a
hippopotamus walking upright on hind feet. The idol was of green
serpentine, and the mother watched with evident pride the skill with
which her son worked.
Timokles moved to rise, and instantly the suspicious eyes of the
young hippopotamus-sculptor flashed. The father dropped his
statuette, and, fiercely springing forward, forced Timokles to the
ground, bound him, and went back to the carving of the ibis-head of
Beneath the hand of the younger idol-maker, the hippopotamus grew
in hideous perfection. Helplessly Timokles watched the process. The
mouth of the hippopotamus-goddess was almost shut, but the teeth of
the lower jaw were visible, and it was upon their making, as well as
upon that of the wide nostrils, that the young man was expending his
skill. The huge ears of the goddess descended on the fore-feet, which
were placed on the sides of the upright animal, as a man's arms hang
by his sides when he walks, and from each of the hippopotamus' arms
there descended to the level of her feet the Egyptian emblem of
protection, called "Sa."
As Timokles looked at those emblems of protection, a new thought
grew within him.
"Women will worship that hippopotamus-goddess and think themselves
safe! I worship the God of heaven, and yet I am afraid! Shall I not
put as much trust in the delivering, protecting power of my God, as
the idol-worshiper will put in this hippopotamus?"
There came the sound of hurried footsteps, and a young girl ran by
the black tent, and spoke gayly to the woman. From the resemblance of
the maiden to the worker on the hippopotamus, Timokles had no doubt
she was his sister. But when the girl, turning her brilliant, laughing
face toward Timokles, first saw him, her dark eyes dilated with a look
of startled horror.
Timokles knew, as well as if she had spoken, that she was one of
those who had seen him dragged to the leopard's home. He looked
beseechingly at her now, as she stood transfixed, the shocked
expression deepening in her eyes. If she should say a word! Timokles
could feel himself tremble. She had thought him dead! She knew him!
If she should say so!
The silent appeal of Timokles' beseeching face seemed to find its
answer for the moment. The girl turned toward the work of the idol-
makers. No one beside Timokles had noticed her frightened gaze. Now,
with assumed carelessness, she watched her brother's busy fingers,
yet Timokles felt that her thoughts were of him. She had only to
speak; to say, "This is the Christian who was thrown to the leopard,"
and father and son would drop their work, spring upon him, drag him
back all the way to the building from which he had escaped, and toss
him, bound and helpless, to the leopard.
It was not till nearly dark that the idol-makers ceased their work.
Having eaten dried dates and barley bread, the father and the son,
first tightening Timokles' thongs, went away in the direction of the
far distant village. During their absence, the girl came to Timokles,
bringing him water and dried dates.
"Tell me, O Christian," she whispered in the tongue of Egypt, "art
thou not he?"
She needed not to make the question more explicit.
"I am, O maiden," answered Timokles. The girl's awe-struck eyes
searched his face.
"Did thy God deliver thee?" she questioned, whispering still.
"Yea," replied Timokles reverently and truly. "Yea, O maiden, my
God delivered me from the leopard."
The girl looked alarmed. She drew back.
"Did he come to thee?" she asked in a terrified whisper. "O
Christian, no one ever before came back from the House of the
Leopard! O Christian; I am afraid of thy God!"
There was real terror in her voice. Timokles was moved with
compassion. He leaned forward, eager to explain to her the truth.
What should he say?
"He is a great God, the only God!" whispered Timokles, reverently.
"O maiden, he is not like an idol! He is the only God. Thou canst not
see him, yet he seeth and loveth thee. Speak to him, and he will hear.
He loveth us. He sent his Son to die for our sins. For that Son's
sake, O maiden, he will blot out our sins, if we entreat him. O
maiden, pray no more to idols! Lo, I tell you of the true God!"
He hardly knew whether she understood or not. She gazed at him as
if half comprehending his words, and then the fact of his having
returned from the House of the Leopard seemed to overwhelm every
other thought, and she murmured, "O Christian, I am afraid of thy God
She fled back to the black tent. Timokles' bound hands made but
awkward work of eating. He could hear the voices of the mother and
the daughter talking in the mother's tongue, but what they said he
knew not. Would the father or the son learn something about their
The voices hushed within the tent. The hours of sleep came on.
The night had grown black. There were footsteps audible.
"They have come back!" thought Timokles.
The father and the son had returned, and with them came another
man. Timokles heard and understood something of what was said at the
tent's door in the dark.
"If I may but see his face, I shall know whether he hath been here
before," declared the new voice eagerly. "I have seen all who have
come to our village."
"Thou shalt see him in the morning," impatiently answered the maker
of the hippopotamus. "Knowest thou not that on this day I cannot make
a flame by which thou shouldest see? It is the eleventh day of Tybi,
concerning which it is commanded by the priests of Egypt, 'Approach
not any flame on this day; Ra is there for the purpose of destroying
"I fear no flame!" muttered the new voice discontentedly. "Let me
but see the stranger!"
"There shall no flame be kindled!" burst out in wrath the
superstitious father. "Bide thou till morning! Then shalt thou see
the branded one."
Silence followed. The discontented villager did not dare say more.
After a short time, the quietness of slumber seemed to envelop the
Concealed by the dark, Timokles endeavored with his teeth to loosen
the bonds of his wrists. After prolonged attempts, he undid one knot,
and by successive wearisome trials he at length entirely released his
Timokles was near the black tent. It seemed to him that he heard
the faintest stir within. But a long silence followed, and he thought
he had been mistaken.
Timokles tugged at the thongs of his right hand. His arm was lame
from the leopard's claws, and he could not reach the knots that held
him. He struggled mightily, till at last he lay exhausted, no nearer
free than before.
"I cannot do it!" he despaired.
He must wait for dawn, for recognition, and for death, such death
as was thought meet for a Christian. Timokles shut his eyes, and
"Be with me, be with me, O Lord!" besought Timokles.
Again within the tent he conjectured there might be a faint stir.
"My enemy cometh!" he thought.
But there was silence. Timokles waited, yet there came no sound.
Remembrances of what he had heard concerning former martyrs crowded
upon him. He thought of Pothinus, the ninety-years-old bishop of
Lyons, who, in answer to the legate's question, "Who is the God of
the Christians?" boldly answered, "If thou art worthy, thou shalt
know," and was tortured so severely that he died in prison. Timokles
remembered hearing of Ponticus, the boy who, in the same persecution,
bore all the tortures unflinchingly, though he was but fifteen years
old. And Blandina, the maiden, who, tortured, bleeding, mangled, still
persisted in her declaration, "I am a Christian! Among us no
wickedness is committed," came to Timokles' mind. His thoughts turned
to the martyr Christians of four years ago at Carthage, and he
remembered the words of one of those Christians: "We will die joyfully
for Christ our Lord."
Timokles prayed long and fervently. His heart went back to his
beloved Alexandrian home. Heaven would be sweet, but would his dear
ones ever know the only way there? Would they ever accept Jesus
Christ as their Savior?
"O Lord, help Heraklas to know thee!" prayed Timokles with dropping
Nothing did Timokles know of the roll of the Book of the
Christians, the papyrus that had swung from the palm tree in the court
Something made him turn his head. He started, for he saw, stretched
out toward him from beneath the black tent, an arm. No more was
visible. The black tent descended to the very ground. Looking more
closely, he discerned in the hand a knife. For an instant, Timokles
thought his enemy was upon him. But it was a small hand, and it was
the handle of the knife, not its blade, that was offered to him!
Timokles stretched out his one free hand, and took the knife. The
arm disappeared beneath the black tent so swiftly and so noiselessly
that Timokles would almost have thought that the sight of the arm had
been an illusion had he not held the knife in his left hand. He
remembered the girl's words, "O Christian, I am afraid of thy God and
"Would that I might have told her more of Him!" wished the young
Egyptian, as he awkwardly cut at his bonds with the knife.
He was free again! He crept softly away after pushing the knife's
handle back under the edge of the black tent. He felt that in the
secrecy of the tent one listened who knew he was free.
"Thou didst put it into her heart to save me!" whispered Timokles
with a reverent look at the sky.
He knew that as soon as his escape should be discovered there would
be instant pursuit, therefore he sought to travel as swiftly as
Athribis the slave bent lower--lower yet. What was this that he
saw? He was on the roof of the house in Alexandria. Through an open
space beside the wind-sail next to him, he could look into a small
In that room, his master Heraklas knelt and carefully drew a brick
from its place in the wall. Putting his hand into some hole that
seemed to be behind the bricks, Heraklas produced a roll of papyrus.
He glanced stealthily around, and, kneeling still, unrolled the
writing, and read in eager haste, one hand on the brick, ready at the
sound of any coming footsteps to thrust the papyrus quickly into the
wall again. It was a thing well pleasing to the treacherous soul of
Athribis. that he should have discovered some secret of his master.
"What is the writing, that he hideth it there?" the slave
Heraklas continued to read. Stretched on his perch, and straining
his neck to look, Athribis deemed the time long. His prying eyes
noted carefully the distance of the loose brick from the floor.
Athribis did not recognize the papyrus as one that he had seen
before. The sight of any papyrus, however, had been distasteful to
him since the night of his adventure on the roof, but be thought the
papyri of that escapade safely burned long ago. He knew that
Heraklas' mother had ordered those destroyed that were found on the
roof. Athribis supposed the one also burnt that had fallen into the
court. What else should have become of it? No suspicion concerning it
had crossed his mind till now.
"Oh, that I could see what he readeth!" wished Athribis vainly.
"What meaneth that large sign? Is it the 'tau'?"
Heraklas farther unrolled the papyrus, and the mark of the cross
that had caught Athribis' eye and had interested him, vanished. The
mark seemed to the slave like the Egyptian "tau" or sign of life;
used afterwards, curiously enough, by the Christians of Europe as a
prefix to inscriptions. Numbers of inscriptions headed by the tau
have remained even to the present time, in early Christian sepulchres
in the Great Oasis.
"If that were the tau, there may be no harm in the writing,"
thought Athribis sullenly. "Yet why hideth he here?"
The supposed sign of the tau rolled in sight again, as Heraklas
shifted the papyrus.
Heraklas had discovered the papyrus when it hung from the palm in
the court. Seeing the character of the writing, he had kept the roll
for secret perusal. He conjectured that the thief, supposed to have
been on the roof, might have dropped the roll. During the three
months that had elapsed since Heraklas found the papyrus hanging from
the palm, he had come often to this secret hiding-place. He knew his
mother would destroy the Christians' Book, if she saw it. He knew the
servants were not to be trusted in the matter.
Frequently, during the first month, he had thought that he would
destroy the papyrus, and, as often, he had deferred doing so, so much
was he always drawn back to reading it. At the end of the second
month, Heraklas read with even more eagerness than at first. Here was
something that even the maxims of Ptah-hotep had not attained. Never
had Heraklas seen such a book as this Gospel of John. Its words
followed him when he was not reading. Why should the words of Jesus of
Nazareth cling to one's memory with so persistent a force? Was it true
that "never man spake as this man"?
Even when Heraklas passed outside the city streets, and walked the
northern cliffs beside the sea, he was constrained to remember that
it was along these craggy places that, men said, a century and a half
ago, Mark, the first Christian apostle to Alexandria, had been dragged
by cords, at the time of the feast of the god Serapis. Then, tradition
said, there had arisen a dreadful tempest of hail and lightning, that
destroyed the murderous heathen.
Was the Christian God greater than Serapis, the great deity of
Such thinking sent Heraklas back again to study the papyrus of
John's Gospel. And now Athribis wearied, waiting for Heraklas'
reading to end.
Suddenly Heraklas, attracted perhaps by the silent force that lies
in a human gaze; lifted his head from his reading, and glanced
upward. Athribis had not time to start aside. The eyes of the two met
in a long, piercing gaze! Heraklas sprang to his feet. The papyrus
fell, on the loose brick beside him.
Athribis' head vanished instantly, and Heraklas, snatching the
papyrus, wound it closely, and thrust it into his garments.
He hastily replaced the loose brick. No safe place for the papyrus
would the hole be, hereafter.
When he met Athribis afterwards in a corridor, Heraklas felt his
heart beat more quickly against the hidden roll. But the lad was
stern in outward semblance.
"Athribis!" he said.
The slave bent before the lad.
"How wast thou where I saw thee?" demanded Heraklas.
"I was attending to the salted quail. Thou knowest they are drying
on the roof," explained Athribis, meekly.
Heraklas felt compelled to accept the excuse. There were quail
drying, according to the custom of lower Egypt.
"But what was it that I read in his face, as he looked down at me?"
Heraklas asked himself.
Thenceforward, unspoken, yet felt as surely as though expressed,
there existed in Heraklas' mind a constant suspicion of Athribis.
Heraklas carried the papyrus roll with him, day and night. Well did
he know the danger, but he said to himself that he would not be
dictated to by a servant. That was the ostensible reason he gave
himself for not immediately burning the roll. In reality, he knew
that the words of the Christians' Book had pierced his soul. He dared
not burn the book. He stood before its searching words a convicted
The suspicion of veiled surveillance that haunted Heraklas made him
cautious of reading his, papyrus at home. He sought places, to read
it abroad. Hidden among the crags beside the sea, or in the vines on
the banks of Lake Mareotis, Heraklas read, and waged the soul-
struggle that had risen within him.
One day Heraklas had hidden himself among the northern crags beside
the great sea. His eyes were bent upon his roll. He had been reading
John's record of the conversation between Christ and the man who was
"Jesus said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"
The man whose eyes Christ had opened, answered and said, "Who is
he, Lord, that I might believe on him?"
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"
It seemed to Heraklas that there came to him, also, Christ's solemn
question. With awe-struck lips, Heraklas whispered, out of a heart
that craved its answer, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on
Heraklas bent above his roll. The answer of the Lord was there. "It
is He that talketh with thee."
The lad dropped his papyrus, and covered his face. He bowed in awe.
For a long time he knelt there, pouring out his soul in prayer--but
not to Egypt's gods. And that which is written of the blind man was
fulfilled in Heraklas, also--"And he said, Lord, I believe. And he
When Heraklas rose from his knees, the sun was high in mid-heaven.
It was the time at home when his mother would burn myrrh to the sun.
But no prayer to Re or hymn to Horus escaped Heraklas' lips. How
should he, who rejoiced in the knowledge of sins forgiven, pray more
to false gods?
A holy awe and a great joy wrapped his soul. The burden of sin that
had oppressed him, the hopeless burden which had not ceased to cause
Heraklas misery even when he made offerings to Isis and poured forth
prayers to Serapis, was gone, gone at the touch of Jesus.
Plucking from his girdle his carnelian buckle, that signified to an
Egyptian the blood of Isis, said to wash away the sins of the wearer,
Heraklas leaned forward, and flung the rosy ornament far into the
white foam of the waves below. He could not wear that heathen sign,
even though his mother had given the ornament to him.
"O Isis," murmured Heraklas, as he lost sight of the carnelian
buckle within the waves, "I care not for thy blood! I know whose
blood hath washed away my stain."
With reverent rejoicing, he concealed his papyrus and turned
He passed into the great city. A woman was worshiping before a
statue of the god Chonsu, the moon. Heraklas went by quickly, making
no sign of reverence. Glancing back, he saw the woman gazing after
A little farther on stood a statue of Anubis. Other men, as they
passed, gave homage, but Heraklas did not turn his head toward the
idol. He noted, in the stalls and in the shops, the altars and little
idols. When he next went to purchase anything, must he do reverence?
Heraklas met a beggar and dropped a coin into his hand.
"Isis and Osiris bless thee!" wished the suppliant.
Heraklas' lips parted to answer. Should he, who had been blessed of
the Lord, seem to accept the blessing of idols? But the beggar turned
to another giver, and Heraklas hurried on his way.
Before he could reach home, a sacred procession came in sight.
Already Heraklas could plainly see the leopard-skin that fitted over
the linen robes of the Egyptian high priest who was coming. Twelve or
sixteen inferior priests walked beside the superior one. The high
priest's lock of hair, pendant on one side of his head, became more
and more plain to Heraklas with every step of the procession.
"They carry the shrine of the sacred beetle of the sun," suspected
Heraklas. "I cannot meet them!"
He turned, and dashed down the first opening that presented itself.
The passage led him utterly out of his way.
"But better so," meditated Heraklas, "than that I should have met
that skin-dressed priest!"
He stopped an instant. His circuitous way had led him in sight of a
spot where he had once seen the Christian woman, Marcella, and her
daughter Potamiaena, passing on their way to martyrdom. How awful a
form of martyrdom was it that Alexandria visited upon that beautiful
Christian daughter! Gradually, hot, scalding pitch was poured over
her body, in order that she might endure the utmost torture possible.
Heraklas looked around him at the proud, beautiful city.
"O Alexandria, Alexandria!" he whispered, "in thee is found the
blood of the saints!"
For a moment the thought of such a death, as a Christian's
punishment, overcame him. Yet he remembered that it was through
Potamiaena's martyrdom that the soldier, Basilides, was led to become
a Christian also. He refused to take a pagan oath, and was brought to
When Heraklas reached home, he was trembling. His short journey had
been freighted with silent meaning.
Two men passed out of the Gate of the Sun, the northern gate of
Alexandria, and came to the docks that bordered the Great Port. The
gaze of one man wandered from the promontory of Locrias on the east
to the isle of Pharos on the north, and followed back the dyke that
connected that island with the docks and marked the division between
the Great Port and Alexandria's other harbor, the Port of Eunostus.
"When that ship saileth," remarked the man, indicating a large
vessel moored in the Great Port, "some Christians go as ballast!"
"How knowest thou?" asked the other.
The former speaker smiled.
"Thou didst not see a little procession that came through the Gate
of Necropolis last evening," he conjectured. "Some Christians brought
in from the desert. This ship carrieth them to Rome, to the lions of
An unbelieving spirit looked from the other man's eyes.
"When the Christians see that ship waiting for them, they will
recant," he prophesied. "A man doth not readily take shipping for the
port of a lion's mouth!"
"Thou dost not know the Christians," asserted the other. "They are
an obstinate people. Our Lord Severus knoweth that right well. See!
He hath forbidden all public worship for the Christians. Their great
school here bath been scattered. And yet, Christians remain
Christians still! It is incredible! Thou didst speak without knowing
what hath happened. The Christians have already seen the ship. They
are on it! Not one bath recanted. But the ship saileth not for two
days yet, and now, the men on board make merry. Hearest thou not
A slave passed so near as almost to brush the speaker's apparel,
yet the man paid no heed.
But Athribis had heard. For what else but to hear had he this
morning stolen down to the docks? He knew of the little company of
Christians that had been brought captive to Alexandria, for a slave
belonging to another household had told Athribis secretly, "He who
was once thy young master--the Christian, Timokles--hath been brought
in from the desert and goeth on the ship!"
In his heart Athribis made answer, "The ship needeth another
passenger--my young master, the Christian, Heraklas!"
But, as yet, Athribis hardly dared say so, for he had no certain
proof to bring of Heraklas' Christianity. If only he could find
decisive proof, and bring it before the authorities, what a reward he
might hope to have given him!
Yet never, from the day when Heraklas spied Athribis watching the
reading of the roll, had the slave, with all his contriving, been
able again to catch sight of the papyrus. It was no longer kept in
its secret hole behind the bricks. Athribis had looked.
Where else had he not looked? He had hunted the house through as
thoroughly as he had been able, snatching a hasty opportunity here
and there. If only he could lay hands on that very papyrus! If he
could have time to show it to somebody who could read! Deeply had
Athribis regretted that he had not been more cautious in his first
spying. But now, what hope was there? Athribis had set some of the
other slaves of the house to watch, but they had discovered nothing
save the old papyri that bad been in the house for years. Some of the
slaves could read, and they were sure this was so.
Out on the docks, Athribis stared now at the large mast of the
ship, and at the ship's painted eye, and at the sculptured figure of
the goddess Isis on the visible side of the ship's bow, both eye and
figure, as Athribis knew, being duplicated on the bow's other side. A
small boat belonging to the large ship lay floating in the water, but
connected with the ship by a rope.
Athribis dared not tarry longer. He hastened home again.
Closer than ever, as he went his morning round of duties, did
Athribis watch, but Heraklas was invisible.
"He is not at home. He went away three hours ago," cautiously
signaled the slave of the threshold to Athribis.
The slave of the threshold, like Athribis, hated Christians. There
was a secret agreement between the two men that if Athribis ever
should gain any reward for betraying Heraklas to the authorities, the
reward should be evenly divided. Half should belong to the slave of
the threshold, in consideration of his having been apparently asleep
at times when Athribis went out without permission.
The hours went by and Heraklas did not come, to be spied upon.
That morning, Heraklas had gone out to seek some Christians whom he
knew. Two weeks ago he had sought them for the first time to tell
them that he wished to join their number. Greatly had he and they
"Witness a good confession, as did thy brother Timokles," an old
man admonished Heraklas.
Almost daily, since then, Heraklas had sought some Christian who
taught him more perfectly the way of the Lord.
Today, as Heraklas sat in a house, secretly studying another
portion of the Book than was written on his own papyrus, a Christian
woman came hastily to him, and told him the tidings concerning his
"He hath assuredly come!" affirmed the woman. "Vitruvius saw him
carried to the ship with other Christians!"
The before eagerly-read papyrus dropped from Heraklas' hand. He
grew weak and faint. The woman looked at him pityingly.
A wild impulse seized Heraklas. He rushed from the house to the
street. His brother, his Timokles, back again! Back from the desert!
Back in his city-home of Alexandria! And not to be allowed to draw
one free breath, to come back to the house, to see Cocce, to see him,
Heraklas! What could be done! What could be done! To be taken to Rome
to meet the lions!
Heraklas ran toward the northern gate. He bethought himself of
caution, and tried to go with his usual step. He passed through the
Gate of the Sun, and by discreet inquiries discovered which ship the
Christians were on. Then he hid himself near one of the docks, and
watched the ship.
Two days! One of the days partly gone already! Timokles would go
away never to return, surely, this time.
"I also am a Christian!" cried Heraklas aloud.
Only the swaying of the water against the dock answered him. He
sprang up and walked out on the dyke that stretched toward the isle
of Pharos. Opposite him, the ship showed still more plainly than from
the docks. Heraklas made out the prayer inscribed on the vessel: "Do
thou, O Isis, preserve in safety this ship over the blue waves"
"O Timokles! Timokles!" cried Heraklas, as he stretched his hands
toward the ship.
Heraklas walked the dyke till the burning sun of noon forced him to
find shelter. He went back to his hiding place at the docks. He
watched and waited through the long hours.
At length the day departed. When the darkness covered the surface
of the harbor, Heraklas rose and girt about him the ample dress he
wore, of fine linen, that descended to his feet.
He slipped softly into the water, and swam toward the ship.
Reaching the small boat that floated by the ship, Heraklas drew
himself up into the little craft.
He listened to the lap of water on the side of the ship. A sudden
joy shot through Heraklas that they were so near together, Timokles
and, himself. It was for this he had stayed outside Alexandria till
the gates were shut. It were better to be a homeless Christian on
this water than to linger in godless Alexandria!
He heard sounds of revelry on shipboard. Heraklas pulled on the
rope that fastened the small boat to the ship. The rope was stout and
In the dark, he began to climb the rope with trembling fingers. Now
he hung by the side of the ship, and now, one hand above another, he
drew himself higher, higher, till he grasped the ship's side. He
struggled over it, and dropped down on board in the darkness. He
waited. No one came. He heard sounds of men that laughed and talked
He crept a little distance. A rope dangled in his face. He found
himself under the aperture where the buckets for bailing were worked.
After long and careful groping, Heraklas concealed himself in the
vessel's hold, and waited. He suspected that the Christians were in
the hold, but he was afraid to search far.
He had not been long hidden before he heard near him the sound of a
great sigh and the rattling of a chain, as of some animal half-
wakened from sleep.
"It is some wild animal that is to be taken to Rome," suspected
Heraklas, not without a little uneasiness at his own proximity to the
It was likely that the creature was well secured, yet the lad crept
farther away. He could hear the sound of feet above him and the
laughter of men who, no doubt, were drinking on this almost their
last night in port.
A sound came from another portion of the hold, and Heraklas
listened, trying to discover whether the living being in that
direction were a beast or a person. While he listened, a faint light
began to shine in the hold. There descended softly into the hold two
men, one bearing a light. Heraklas drew back farther into the
darkness. The men passed on, their light held so that Heraklas did
not see their faces. But the hasty glimpse that the lad had of his
surroundings told him that the beast he had crept away from was a
lion that was securely caged in one portion of the hold.
Softly the two men proceeded toward the direction from which
Heraklas had heard sounds. Stealthily Heraklas rose. He surmised
where the two men were going. He wished, yet hardly dared, to follow.
The light swung one side. One man turned to speak to the other, and
the light fell full on the speaker's face.
Heraklas leaped softly forward, and followed without hesitation.
For the face he had seen was the face of Athribis!
There were eight of the Christians. Heraklas, peering from a
distance behind, saw the light held high, as the men paused beside
the Christians. Absolutely exhausted, most of them, by the forced
march of the desert, and by the lack of enough food, they were
asleep, and Heraklas noted with a great pity their gaunt faces.
Athribis bent eagerly forward, scanning one worn contenance after
"Hold the light this way--more this side--here!" he said.
Athribis laid his hand on one sleeper's shoulder, and turned him,
"This is he!" joyfully exclaimed Athribis. "This is he! I had
feared he was not among these, after all. This is he! I would know him
anywhere! I never saw that brand, though. That is what made him look
differently to me at first. But this is he! This is he!"
"Cease thy prating!" warned his companion, fearfully. "If the men
of this ship were not so drunk, thou wouldest have little time to
talk! Thinkest thou I care nothing for my head? Hasten! Wake him, if
thou wilt, but hasten! Thinkest thou the petty coin thou gavest me
will pay me for my head? Hasten! They think I am guarding these
"Small time wilt thou spend guarding them, if thou knowest where
aught is to drink!" responded Athribis sarcastically. "How much hast
thou drank today?"
The wearied Timokles slumbered on, regardless of the light and
Back in the dark, Heraklas clasped his hands. A mighty sob rose in
his throat. The Christian was indeed Timokles! How worn he was! And
that brand upon his cheek!
Athribis bent forward. Timokles' eyes were opening.
"Athribis!" exclaimed Timokles faintly, as, after a prolonged gaze,
he recognized the slave.
"Ah, my Christian master! My Christian master!" jeered Athribis, "I
see you once again. My Christian master!"
The hands of the unseen Heraklas clinched at that tone.
Timokles looked around, bewildered. A quiver passed over his lips.
Athribis reminded him of home.
"Is my mother here?" asked Timokles. A sorrow deeper than tears
looked from his eyes.
Athribis smiled. "Thy mother!" he said.
The tone was a sufficient answer. Timokles' eyes fell.
"Thou wilt never see her again," went on Athribis. "Thy mother
hateth thee! She is faithful to Egypt's gods, if thou art not! I came
here only to be certain thou wert on the ship."
"Camest thou from her to me on that errand?" asked Timokles calmly.
Athribis laughed, and turned to go.
"Farewell, my Christian master! Farewell!" said the slave,
There was an instant's silence. The great lion sighed from his
Then answered Timokles' low voice, "O Athribis, may my God become
A laugh came, as the slave's reply. Athribis and his conductor went
away. The light faded from the hold.
Heraklas crept near the Christians.
"Timokles!" he whispered. "Timokles! O Timokles, my brother!"
From the bound Christians came no answer to Heraklas' cry, though
there was a startled movement among them.
"O my brother! my brother!" murmured Heraklas, the tears running
down his face in the dark, "I am Heraklas! I, too, am a Christian!"
"Heraklas!" cried Timokles, "Heraklas! How camest thou hither?"
"Peace!" whispered Heraklas in terror. "Thou wilt be heard!"
Heraklas cast his arms about his brother and clung to him.
"How art thou bound, my Timokles?" asked Heraklas, when they had
embraced and wept together.
"My feet are bound with naught but cords, but a chain about my body
fasteneth me to a hook in the wall," answered Timokles. "Thou canst
not release me, my brother! Flee, while thou canst!"
"Nay, but I will try," whispered Heraklas resolutely.
He drew his knife from his girdle, and feeling of the cords that
bound his brother's ankles, cut the knots. Timokles sighed with
relief, as he moved his cramped feet. The feet of two of the other
Christians were bound with thongs, and these Heraklas cut also, but
the other five Christians were bound hand and foot with chains, and
for them Heraklas' knife could not avail. Timokles and the other two
had been considered weaker in body, or else the persons who secured
the Christians had been in haste to join the reveling of the
mariners, and had thought cords strong enough. Yet what availed it
that the feet of any of the Christians were free, if their bodies
were securely bound?
"Thou hast done all thou canst, Heraklas," whispered Timokles. "Go
now, my brother. O my Heraklas, I rejoice thou art a Christian! Go!
We shall meet again in the kingdom of our God!"
"I will never leave thee," answered Heraklas, firmly. "The men are
drinking themselves senseless. I will try what I can do."
He felt the wall till he found that Timokles' chain was held, not
by a hook, but a staple. It was only after long labor with his knife
around this staple that it shook a little in its hold on the wall.
Then Heraklas seized the staple, and swung his whole weight upon it,
and dug his knife into the wall like a madman. He worked with
perspiration standing on his forehead, his breath coming in pants.
Furiously, with all his strength, he dug and pulled till the staple
yielded, and he fell down among the prisoners. But the drunken men on
deck did not hear.
Heraklas labored on, till at last he threw his arms about his
"Stand up, my Timokles," he begged. "See if thou art not free!"
Timokles arose. Nothing hindered him.
"O Heraklas!" he whispered, trembling with excitement.
"Sit down again and rest, till I help our brethren, also,"
whispered his brother.
But though Heraklas toiled with all his remaining strength, he
succeeded in releasing but one other Christian.
"Leave us," urged the others.
"O my brethren," answered Heraklas with a sob, "would that I could
But the six Christians answered steadily, "Why weepest thou,
brother? We but go to our Father's house before thee."
Then he whose feet Heraklas had released, thanked him most
heartily, and all said farewell.
Hours had gone by since Heraklas first came on board the ship.
Cautiously he and Timokles and the other Christian crept out of the
hold. Every movement of their own affrighted them, though they knew a
drunken stupor rested on some of the ship's company. One after another
the three fugitives finally slipped into the water. Heraklas bore up
Timokles, who swam but weakly. The third Christian was feeble, but he
made headway, and in slow fashion they came at length to the docks of
By this time it was long past midnight. That Timokles or the third
Christian, whose name was Philo, should enter the city was not to be
thought of, since they would be recognized and retaken. After
consultation it was agreed that Timokles and Philo should proceed
along the edge of the sea in an easterly direction and hide
themselves at a point agreed upon, on the coast, a distance from the
city. Heraklas was to enter into Alexandria at the earliest dawn and
was, if possible, to send a message to his mother. He was to obtain
an amount of food, such as he could carry without exciting suspicion,
and was to met his brother and Philo at the appointed place on the
sea-shore. Then they were to flee.
Heraklas went with the others a little way. It seemed as if he
could not part from Timokles. Who knew if they should ever meet again?
In the house where Heraklas' mother dwelt, a receiving-room for
visitors looked upon the court, but a row of columns led inward to a
private sitting-room, which, after the manner of the Egyptians, stood
isolated in one of the passages. In this isolated room, the mother sat
on a stool of ebony, inlaid with ivory. Beside her lay a papyrus on
which was written part of the Sacred Book of the Christians. The face
of the proud woman was hidden in her hands.
Before her stood a messenger who had brought her the following
writing from Heraklas:
"O my mother, forgive thy son! I have found Timokles! He is weak;
nigh, I fear, to death. O my mother, I also am a Christian: Read, I
pray thee, the papyrus I send. It is part of the Christians' Book. We
flee, with other Christians, from Alexandria, today. Farewell."
The mother lifted her face, and her cry rang through the room, "O
my sons, my sons!"
She had execrated Timokles at times when she had spoken of him
before Heraklas, and he had thought that the execration came from her
heart. But she had longed, with pain unspeakable, to see Timokles once
more. And now, when she knew that he had been in Alexandria, that he
needed a mother's care, that Heraklas, also, had owned allegiance to
the Christians' God--when she thought of Christians burned, beheaded,
given to wild beasts--when she realized that perhaps she should never
see again the face of Timokles or Heraklas, the heart of the mother
broke within her, and she wailed, "O my sons! My sons!"
"Hush!" warned the messenger, quickly. "Thy slaves will hear thee!"
The mother seized the messenger's arm.
"Tell me where my sons are," she begged. "I will go to them!"
The messenger looked piercingly at her. He, a Christian, had risked
much to bring her this message. Dare he trust this woman, known to be
a devout worshiper of Egypt's gods? Would she not betray the fleeing
"What is it, my mother?" he asked gently.--See page 37.
"Tell me where my sons are!" besought the mother with tears. "Oh,
tell me! I cannot lose them! What is my, home to me without them? I
will not betray any Christian! Only tell me; and let me see my sons
Then the messenger saw in the mother's eyes that she spoke
truthfully, but he said, "How can I trust thee?"
"I swear by Isis!" implored the mother.
"Nay," returned, the messenger gravely, "it is not meet that a
Christian should bind any one by a heathen oath."
The mother cried out, and besought him, declaring that she would
depart from Alexandria, if her sons could not dwell there.
"They cannot, except they risk death," stated the messenger "Thou
knowest Timokles' life is forfeit. Knowest thou not how many
Christians have fled, and what torments Christians who have been
brought here from all Egypt have suffered? Wouldst thou thy two sons
should suffer in like manner?"
"I will go into exile with them," answered the woman.
"How wilt thou leave this, thy beautiful home?" asked the
"I will leave it in the, care of my kinsmen," she replied.
"It may never be thine again," warned the messenger.
"Hear me, O Christian!", cried the mother passionately "I know not
the Christians' God, but the Emperor Severus shall not take away my
sons! I care not if he takes my home!"
"Come then with us," answered the messenger. "I trust thee! May the
Christian's God cause thee to know Him!"
That day there passed through Alexandria's streets a chariot drawn
by two mules. Seated in the chariot a lady and a child rode in state.
The charioteer was only a small lad.
Out of the city by the eastern gate, as they had passed so many
times before, Cocce and her mother rode. Who would hinder so devout
worshipers of the gods from taking a pleasure drive? Alexandria knew
nothing yet of Heraklas' defection.
When Alexandria was some distance behind, the lady spoke.
"Stop the chariot," she commanded.
The young lad obeyed. The woman and child descended to the road.
"I would walk," said the woman. "Drive thou home again, and say
thou naught. See, here is something for thee."
She gave him some money.
The lad did as he was bidden. The mother of Heraklas had known whom
to choose for her charioteer this day.
The chariot receded. It passed out of sight. A distance away from
the road, a man rose and beckoned. It was the messenger of the
morning, disguised, as a beggar.
They went northerly toward the sea. The mother's straining eyes
looked ever forward. How if the Christians had been discovered! How
long the way was!
A faintness seized upon her as they neared the sea. What if her
sons were not there? She hurried forward.
The sea splashed on the rocks at her feet. The salt splay blew in
her face. They were not here! They were not here!
Out of the recesses of the rocks, some forms arose, and Heraklas,
as in a dream, saw his mother, his proud mother--she who had burned
incense to the sun, she who had once held the sacred sistrum in
Amun's temple, she who had taught him to worship Isis, and Osiris,
and Horus, and the River Nile--his mother throw her arms about
Timokles, and kiss his scarred cheek, and sob on the young
Christian's neck, "O my son, I have missed thee so! I have missed
Some ten months later, on the desolate, uninhabited western shore
of what the Hebrews called "Yam Suph, the Sea of Weeds," known now as
the Red Sea, in the country spoken of by the Romans as part of
Ethiopia, now named Nubia, a little company of Christians made ready
their evening meal.
Down on the shore a little girl sang. Her voice rose exultantly in
a hymn of the early Christians:
"Blessed art thou, O Lord; teach me thy judgments.
"O Lord, thou hast been a refuge for us from generation to
"Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
"Thou hast healed my soul in that I have sinned against thee."
"O Lord, to thee I flee for refuge. Teach me to do thy will
Because thou art my God; Because thou art the fountain of life In
thy light shall we see light. Extend thy mercy to them that know
Timokles went toward the shore to call Cocce. As he returned, he
saw his mother standing a little apart from the other Christians and
gazing toward the northwest, in the direction of Egypt, as she had
often gazed since the Christians took refuge here.
"She misseth her home," thought the young man sadly. "It is but a
rough abiding-place here for her. And yet Severus hath not found us.
I would that she had come here for the love of Christ, and not for
love of her two sons, only! Then she would feel, as the others of us
do, that there is no one who hath left house or lands for our Lord's
sake, but receiveth a hundred-fold in this life, and in the world to
come life everlasting. Oh, I would that my mother might know how near
our Lord can be, even in this desert!"
His mother had ceased to speak of Egypt's gods. She had even read
somewhat in the Christians' Book. But to Timokles she seemed no
nearer to accepting Christ than when she was in Alexandria. How
little we know of the heart-experiences of those persons nearest to
Timokles drew nearer. His mother heard his step, and turned toward
him, but in place of the homesick longing he had expected to see in
her eyes, there was a look that thrilled his soul.
"What is it, my mother?" he asked, gently.
"Timokles," she answered softly, "I was thinking but now of
Alexandria and of our dear home there. Timokles, if God had not
driven me into the desert, would I ever have found him?"
Timokles trembled with exceeding joy. Could she be speaking of the
real God, not of Egypt's idols?
"Hast thou found Him--the Christian's God--my mother?" he asked
A holy awe looked from his mother's face.
"Did not his Son say, 'Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast
out'?" she answered. "I have come to him, Timokles--even I, the
former worshiper of Isis--and he hath not cast me out."
"O my mother!" murmured Timokles, overcome by the glad tidings.
"What more can I ask of him than this!"
The sun sank, and Heraklas raised for the little company the
evening hymn of the early church. His mother's voice rose clear and
sweet, as all sang:
"Children, praise the Lord, Praise ye the name of the Lord. We
praise thee, we hymn thee, we bless thee, Because of the greatness of
thy glory. O Lord the King, the Father of Christ, Of the spotless Lamb
who taketh away The sin of the world, To thee belongeth praise, To
thee belongeth song, To thee belongeth glory, to the God And Father,
through the Son, in the Spirit, To the Most Holy, unto ages of ages.
However long their exile might be, whatever privations they might
suffer in this desert place, the little company could sing their
praises with gratitude, for now not one voice of their number would
be silent. Here they would abide, telling of Christ to every heathen
wanderer whom they could seek out in these wilds. And if it should
please God that henceforth Egypt might never hold a home for them,
yet they could dwell in the deserts beyond Rome's dominion, knowing
that He who when on earth had no place to lay his head would be with
them. He had delivered the last one of the little company from the
snare of false gods.
THE SQUASH OF THE ESVIDOS.
Black dog slipped through a swinging gate and Miss Elizabeth
followed him into an olive, orchard of small dimensions. The family
to whom the black dog belonged was there. The father, Bernardo
Esvido, stood on a step-ladder, picking black olives into a bucket
half filled with water, the bucket being fastened to Mr. Esvido's
waist so that he might use both hands, while the water in the bucket
prevented the ripe olives from being bruised. He who picks ripe
olives into a hard bucket knows not his business.
Beneath another olive tree sat the mother, the daughter, and the
son, washing olives in a water-trough. The small black dog raised his
voice, and did his best to inform the Esvidos that a stranger eyed
"You read Portuguese?" asked Miss Elizabeth, smiling on the busy
group. Miss Elizabeth was not a book-agent, but, moved by the
religious destitution of the Portuguese, she had devised the plan of
buying at some city book-store Bibles or Testaments in Portuguese,
and then going into the surrounding country and hunting for
Portuguese who could read. To such, on account of their poverty, Miss
Elizabeth often sold for ten cents a Bible she had bought for forty or
sixty cents. She would gladly have given the Bibles free, but from
observation she had become persuaded that those Portuguese who paid a
few cents for a Bile were much more likely to read it than were those
to whom one was given for nothing.
At Miss Elizabeth's question the united Esvido family looked at the
mother. She was the one reader of the group. Many Portuguese do not
read, either in English or in their own language. If a Portuguese
woman reads Portuguese, her neighbors perhaps know of her
accomplishment. Mr. Esvido was proud that his wife knew how to read
Portuguese even if he was ignorant. None of the family could read
"You like buy Biblia Sagrada?" (Holy Bible) questioned Miss
Elizabeth. "It is all Portuguese."
The red book was passed to the mother, who shook olive-leaves and
dust from her hands, and took up the Bible. She had dimly known that
there was such a book. She remembered hearing of the Biblia Sagrada
years ago, when she was a girl in Lisbon, long before she came to
California; but none of her acquaintances had such a book, and she
had never before to-day seen a Portuguese Bible.
But at last the book was handed back to Miss Elizabeth.
"No money," carelessly explained Mr. Esvido.
The oil-maker who bought the crops of the local olive-growers had
not yet paid for the olives. Even ten cents was not in Mr. Esvido's
pocket, just now.
Miss Elizabeth looked around. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Esvido seemed
very anxious about the Bible, but Miss Elizabeth felt anxious for
them. A woman who could read Portuguese ought to have a Bible, and
she ought to pay something for it in order to interest her in it
thoroughly. Miss Elizabeth's eyes spied a yellow squash. She did not
want it, but it would be payment.
"You give me squash, I give you Biblia Sagrada," she proposed.
"How you take it?" asked Mr. Esvido, smiling.
Miss Elizabeth opened her hands with a gesture that showed she
meant to carry the squash, hidden as much as possible under her short
"We make trade," agreed Mr. Esvido; and Miss Elizabeth, leaving the
Bible, bore the big squash away.
But Miss Elizabeth's yellow burden became very heavy before she had
gone far on the long country road. She found at last a wandering
piece of newspaper, which she wrapped over as much of the vegetable
as possible. The rest her cape covered, and then she marched on
toward the far wires of the electric car-line that had brought her
into the country. So vanished the squash of the Esvidos from their
Meantime the Portuguese mother read aloud from the Bible. The
daughter, Delpha, listened, while gently rubbing the black olives in
the water-trough. She knew of Christ, yet the words of the Biblia
Sagrada were unknown.
After this, Mrs. Esvido read the book much in the evenings. Delpha
and Mr. Esvido listened, the father listening more because just now
he had not his pipe for company. The American who bought the olives
declared that no one who picked olives for him must smoke during
olive harvest! All his workmen, even when off duty, must refrain from
smoking, for the tobacco odor clung to clothing. The olives would
absorb tobacco smoke. The oil would be spoiled. Mr. Esvido grumbled
much, but obeyed. There was a warning in the fate of the neighbor,
Antone Ramos, who in last year's olive season had thought one evening
to smoke a pipeful of tobacco secretly, and lo! the American, ever
watchful, came to Antone Ramos' house that very night, and the tobacco
smoke was perceptible! Antone Ramos was discharged!
Therefore, during this year's olive harvest, Mr. Esvido, with a
cautious respect for the American's preternaturally, acute perception
concerning tobacco, refrained from smoking, and found solace in
listening with Delpha to Mrs. Esvido's evening readings from the
Biblia Sagrada. It seemed marvelous to Mr. Esvido that his wife could
read. The marvel of it had never lessened for him, and one night he
said proudly, "We make good bargain when we give squash for Biblia
Sagrada! Biblia Sagrada ver' good book."
One day Mrs. Esvido read something that startled Delpha. Site could
hardly believe it possible that her mother hid read aright.
The words in the Portuguese language were these: "Amai a vossos
inimigos, fazei bem aos que vos tem odio." (Love your enemies; do
good to them that hate you.)
Alas! Delpha knew whom that meant.
There had long been a deep-seated quarrel between her and Sara
Frates. Thinking of this bitter animosity, Delpha felt keenly the
command, "Fazei bem aos que vos tem odio."
Olive harvest went on. The Esvido olives were gathered. Then Delpha
and Sara and others went to work in the American's costly olive-oil
mill, scalding the mill-stones and the crushing troughs daily,
sweeping the scraps of olive skins from the floors, and scalding the
floors to keep every odor away from the precious olive oil. Before
beginning this season, the walls of the building had been given a
coat of whitewash, and now a wood fire must not be lit anywhere near
the premises, for the precious olive oil might take a smoky taste.
It was therefore with great wrath that Delpha, who was careful to
obey rules, found one day, in a crushing trough under her
supervision, some scattered little pieces of iron. Now iron must
never be allowed to come in contact with olive juice. The tannic acid
in the olive juice acts very rapidly on the iron, producing a kind of
ink, that turns the oil black and almost ruins it. The American's
crushing troughs and weights were of granite. Delpha was sure Sara had
scattered the pieces of iron in the crushing trough on purpose to
bring Delpha into trouble.
"I do something to her!" resolved Delpha fiercely. "I pay her for
Then she remembered, "Fazei bem aos que vos tem odio." (Do good to
them that hate you.) To Sara's amazement, Delpha did not retaliate.
Sara could not understand why.
Toward the end of the olive season, the American went away for a
day. During the noon rest, Delpha, sitting in a side door, thought
she caught the odor of smoke. No wood fire was allowed around the
oil-mill! Delpha went out to investigate.
She saw a film of smoke rising from a gulch. Delpha discovered that
some of the young mill-workers' friends had caught some fish in the
bay sparkling in the distance, and had brought them this way going
home. The American being absent, the young mill-workers and their
friends had made a fire in the gulch, and were merrily broiling fish.
Sara was there, disobeying rules with the others.
Delpha ran back to the oil-mill. She hoped the fire's smoke would
not injure the oil. She was troubled as she dropped in the door. But
she could do nothing.
By and by she heard screams. She sprang up. Sara came running
around the mill. Her dress was on fire!
"Delpha! Delpha!" she screamed, "Delpha, help me!" She seemed
crazed with fright.
Did a voice say it to Delpha? She snatched a great canvas bag used
for olive-picking, and a shawl. She ran to Sara. She breathlessly
tore at the blazing garments, rolling Sara in the shawl and canvas
bag. Blackened, sobbing, Sara lay at length safe on the ground.
Delpha ran for water and olive oil.
As Delpha gently spread some olive oil on the burns, Sara flung her
arms about Delpha's neck.
"Amiga!" (friend) she sobbed, and the enmity between the girls was
Miles away, Miss Elizabeth one day said to herself, "I don't
believe we can ever use that squash I brought home from those
Portuguese! But anyhow the squash made that Portuguese woman feel that
she paid for the Bible! I hope she reads it, poor soul!"
But Miss Elizabeth did not know the whole story of the squash of
the Esvidos, or of the message that the Biblia had brought to Delpha's
THE VERSE MARTIN READ.
Martin put his bare feet down through the thick dust of the country
road. It was warm summer, and he was used to going barefoot, even to
Sunday-school, from which he was now returning. Over the hot, dry
grass of the fields there swayed at frequent intervals the heads of
California wild oats. One such stem grew near the road, and Martin,
with a quick sweep of his hand, pulled off the wild oat heads and
went on through the dusty road, scattering the oats as he walked.
Martin was thinking.
"Teacher doesn't know how 'tis," he said. "I have to carry 'round
milk mornings and nights, and I have to go down to the barn to hunt
eggs, and I have to help pa about the stage horses, and sometimes I
have to ride the horses back to be shod, and I have to walk a mile to
day-school and back, and learn my lessons, and I'd like to know how
teacher thinks I've got much time to read the Bible some every day.
There's lots of days I don't believe pa reads any in the Bible. He's
too busy driving the stage and 'tending to the horses. And ma doesn't
read it, because she has to cook for the teamster boarders. It's a
real pretty book teacher's given me, though."
Martin felt inside his jacket, and brought out a little New
Testament. It was only a ten-cent Testament, for Miss Bruce, his
Sunday-school teacher, did not have money enough to buy Bibles for
her class of thirteen boys. She had felt that she must do something,
however, for the boys were destitute of Bibles of their own.
The best she could do was to buy small Testaments with red covers,
and she had cut a piece of bright red, inch-wide ribbon into thirteen
lengths, had raveled out the ends so as to make fringe, and had put a
piece of this fringed ribbon into each boy's New Testament for a
book-mark. The boys thought a great deal of the pieces of ribbon, they
were so bright and pretty. Miss Bruce had written some special little
message to each boy in the front of his Testament. The general purport
of each message was that the book was given with the teacher's prayer
that the boy might learn to love the Bible and might become a real
Christian. Some of the boys let the others read what was written in
the Testaments, and some boys did not.
Miss Bruce had given them the Testaments to-day, and had said that
she hoped each boy would read a little, daily, in his Testament, even
if it were only two or three verses.
"I wonder if teacher'll ask me next Sunday whether I've read any?"
Martin questioned himself now, as he admiringly eyed his piece of red
ribbon. "It'll be a shame if I have to tell her, the first Sunday,
that I've forgot it! I'd better read one verse now, so I can say I
read that, anyway, if I forget the rest of the week."
Martin sat down beside the road. He was not a very good reader.
This was the first piece of the Bible Martin had ever owned. There was
an old, unused family Bible at home. A red Testament, was much more
attractive to Martin.
"Where'll I read?" Martin asked himself now. "I want an easy verse.
Some of them look too hard."
He began and dropped several verses, because of their difficulty.
Finally he settled on one, because of its shortness. He read its
seven words haltingly but carefully.
" 'L-e-s-t'--I don't know that word--'c-o-m-i-n-g'--coming--'s-u-d-
d-e-n-l-y--he find you s-l-e-e-p-i-n-g.' 'Lest coming suddenly, he
find you sleeping.' "
Of the connection of the verse, and its spiritual significance,
Martin knew nothing. The word "l-e-s-t" puzzled him. He would ask
somebody about it.
When he helped his father with the horses at the barn that evening,
Martin questioned his father about the word "l-e-s-t."
"Haven't you spelled it wrong?" asked his father. "I guess it's 'l-
"It's in my new red book," answered Martin, perching on the
watering trough. "I'll find the place."
Martin did not know much about New Testament books or chapters, but
he knew that verse was on the eighty-second page. Martin had noted
the little numbers at the bottom of the pages.
"Here 'tis!" triumphantly exclaimed Martin.
His father took the book. Martin's eager finger pointed to the
"Lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping."
The words faced the stage-driver. Well did he know their meaning.
Years ago in his mother's home he had been taught from the Bible. His
eyes now ran over the preceding_verses. He caught parts of them. "The
Son of man is as a man taking a far journey." "Watch ye therefore."
"Ye know not when the master of the house cometh." "Lest coming
suddenly, he find you sleeping."
"Don't you know what 'l-e-s-t' means?" asked Martin, eager for the
"Oh--why, yes," responded his father. "It means 'For fear' he
should come suddenly."
"Who?" asked Martin.
"The Lord," returned his father gravely.
"Why shouldn't they be sleeping?" asked Martin.
"Who?" said his father, turning to attend to the horses.
"I don't know," said Martin. "I mean my verse."
"Martin," stated the stage-driver, "I'm no hand at explaining.
Don't ask any more questions."
Every Sunday after this Miss Bruce persisted in asking whether the
boys read in their Testaments.
"It's mean the way some of the boys don't read any, after her
giving us all nice red Testaments," Martin told his father. "I don't
read much, but I ought to read some, after her fringing that red
ribbon! Most verses I read are short, like 'Lest coming suddenly, he
find you sleeping.' "
The stage-driver moved uneasily at the words.
"He hasn't forgot that verse after all these weeks?" thought the
"I know what that verse means now," went on Martin. "Miss Bruce
told me. She says some folks forget they've got to die, and they ought
to be ready for that. A good many folks don't become Christians, and
Miss Bruce says she's afraid they'll be like that verse, 'Lest coming
suddenly, he find you sleeping.' You and I won't be that way, will we,
father? I'm going to try to be ready. Ain't you? Miss Bruce says folks
ought to always be."
His father's eyes were on the harness he was buckling.
"I hope you'll be ready, Martin," answered the father, "even if I
The place where Martin lived was a small settlement distant from
town. Martin's father, Mr. Colver, not only three days in the week
drove the stage, but other days acted as a sort of expressman,
bringing freight in a large wagon over the miles from town. One night
about nine o'clock, Mr. Colver was on the long, lonely road coming
toward home. He had a very heavy load on his wagon. The wheels scraped
on the wagon bottom, and the team went with a heavy, dragging sound.
As the heavy wagon came opposite a clump of white blossoming
buckeye trees, one of the fore wheels of the dragging wagon suddenly
gave way and fell off. Mr. Colver was thrown violently from the
wagon's high seat into the road, among the tumbling heavy boxes and
barrels. The sharp corner of one box struck Mr. Colver's head near the
The weary horses waited to be urged forward again. They did not
know that their driver lay insensible in the road.
It was early gray morning before one of the teamsters who boarded
at the Colvers' found Mr. Colver lying still insensible, and brought
him home. The blow on the head had been a very dangerous one. Martin
gazed awestruck at his father's shut eyes and unconscious face.
"I wonder if pa's going to die?" the boy anxiously thought. "I
wonder if pa's ready?"
The sorrowful hours came and went. Mr. Colver regained
consciousness, but for weeks he felt the effects of the blow that
might have smitten him never to rise.
One night when Martin was going to his room, his father called
weakly to the boy.
Martin turned back. He found his mother sitting beside his father.
"Martin," said his father with grave earnestness, "your mother's
been reading to me from your Testament. We've been talking about
Bible things that we haven't paid much attention to. We were both
brought up better, Martin. The Lord's had mercy upon me. He might
have taken me suddenly that night, but he knew I wasn't ready, and he
had mercy on me. And now, lad, your mother and I thought we would just
kneel right down here to-night, and ask the Lord to take each of us,
and make us his own. You want to, don't you, my son?"
Martin nodded, and for the first time the stage-driver's family
knelt together. They whose souls had been sleeping were awake.
BY THE WAY.
Cliffs by the blue bay held many fossil shells. Children sometimes
strayed here and there with hammers, pounding out fossils from fallen
pieces of the cliffs. On the extent of sands that bordered the cliffs
and stretched up the coast between them and the breakers, old stumps
that had been months before brought in by the waves lay half buried
from sight. A short distance farther up the coast, the sands went a
greater way inland, forming a nook where driftwood and stumps had
accumulated. On the sand in this nook stood a horse and an old wagon.
Beyond a large log, a little fire of driftwood had been started, and a
woman was endeavoring to fry some fish in a spider. Two children had
partly unharnessed the horse, and were giving him some dry grass.
From afar, a woman and a girl who had been taking a walk on a road
high up on the cliffs, looked curiously down at the persons in the
"I wonder who they are, and what they are traveling that way for?"
said the girl to her mother.
"It's the same wagon that was on, the sands last night, I suppose,"
returned her mother." The milk boy said he saw a wagon drive on the
beach about dark. I wonder if they stayed up here all night? Suppose
we walk down, Addie, and talk with that woman."
"I'm afraid she won't want to see us," objected the daughter. "If
they had wanted to see anybody, they'd have stopped at the
Notwithstanding this objection, the mother began to descend the
path toward the sands at the bottom of the cliffs. Both Mrs. Weeks and
her daughter Addie were somewhat breathless by the time they had
pushed their way through the heavy white sand to the spot where the
stranger, was cooking. The spider contained only a few very small
"Good-morning," said Mrs. Weeks, pleasantly.
The brown-faced woman who held the spider lifted her eyes and
"Have you been fishing?" asked Mrs. Weeks.
"We didn't have much luck," murmured the other woman. "Maybe we
didn't fish in the best place. Tillie was wanting fish."
The younger of the two children colored and hung her head at this
reference to her. The other smiled shyly.
"We have some fresh rock cod up at our house. My brother catches
fresh fish for us every day," said Addie to the older little girl.
"Don't you want to walk back with me, and, get some of the fish for
The child nodded. "We're not beggars, Miss. You must not rob
yourself of your own fish," remonstrated, the child's mother; but
Addie assured the woman that fish were so plentiful in the settlement
that neighbors often gave part of the results of a catch to some one
The girl went away over the cliffs with the child. Mrs. Weeks sat
down on a log. When Addie and the little girl came back with the fish
and some milk, Mrs. Weeks rose and went home with her daughter.
"The woman's husband is dead, and she's driving north with her
children," Mrs. Weeks told Addie. "She has an idea she can get work
in some cannery up the coast. I told her there were some unoccupied
tents in our settlement, and I wished she and the children would come
and sleep in the tents, while she's here. But she won't come. I was
sorry they slept on the beach last night, but she says they are used
to sleeping in the wagon, and it is warm weather, you know."
The wagon did not drive on that day, though the woman and the
children kept away from the little summer settlement.
It was the custom of the people of this small settlement to go down
on the beach, after dark at evening, and have a camp-fire. Some old
stump would be lit, and the, people would, sit, on, logs or on the
sand about the fire, and talk and sing. The last thing, every night,
hymns were sung.
To-night, Addie and her, mother went down to the beach as usual.
After sitting by the fire awhile, Addie rose and wandered up the
beach, as persons sometimes did, to watch the waves. At a distance
from the camp-fire, where the darkness, covered the beach, Addie
turned to go back. She was startled by a movement in the darkness.
"Don't be afraid," said the voice of the woman who, with her
children, had spent that day in the nook farther up the beach. "The
little girls were asleep, and I came here to listen to the folks
sing. That's the reason I haven't driven on to-day, because I hoped
the folks would sing again to-night, the way they did last night. I
haven't heard hymn-singing for years, before. I've lived in mining
and such places. I want to ask you a question."
The woman paused.
"Do you suppose my baby's at the River?" she went on.
Addie hardly comprehended the woman's meaning.
"What river?" asked the girl.
"The River they sang about last night," explained the woman.
She motioned toward the group at the distant camp-fire, and Addie
remembered that on the previous evening the people had sung:
"Shall we gather at the river?"
"I haven't heard that sung before for years and years," the woman
continued. "We used to sing it when I was a little girl at home in
the East, but I've mostly forgot such things. Mining camps and a
drunk husband make you forget. There never was a church anywhere we
lived, and Sam got drunk Sundays. And then he died. I don't suppose
Sam got to the River. I don't know. I wish he did. But if my baby's
got there, I want to go to the River."
The woman began to sob.
"I never told you about my baby." she faltered." He was a dreadful
"Good-morning!" said Mrs. Weeks pleasantly.
baby. I've got some of his things in a little box in the wagon. He
died after his father did. I wouldn't feel acquainted with the saints
that the folks sang gather at the River; but I'd feel acquainted with
my baby. He's there, isn't he?"
"Yes," said Addie softly, "your baby's by the River, and you can go
The woman tried to control her sobs and listen, while Addie told in
as simple language as she could the way to peace.
"It's just coming to Christ, just as we are, and asking him to make
us his," finished the girl. "He's promised to forgive, if we're in
earnest about asking."
Addie waited a moment.
"Maybe you'd be willing to come to the camp-fire with me,"
suggested Addie. "Those people are only, some of our neighbors. They
like these open-air meetings. Perhaps they'd make the way clearer to
"No," said the woman hastily. "No, I'm not fit for such folks, but
would you mind doing one thing for me? Will you go back and just sit
down, careless like, on one of the logs there by the fire, as if
you'd got back from going down to see the breakers roll in, the way
some of the folks do? And don't let anybody know you've seen me at
all! Don't say one word about me, but when they get through singing
some hymn, won't you just start them singing, 'Shall we gather at the
River'? I want to hear it once again, but don't let them know they're
singing it for me! Will you manage it the way I want?"
"Yes," promised Addie.
The girl went back and sat down on a log beside the fire, with the
other people. The fire was beginning to burn low, and the girl was
fearful lest at the end of the hymn that was being sung, some one
should make a move to go back to the encampment. As soon as she could
"Shall we gather at the river?"
The other voices took up the hymn. No one noticed that Addie's
voice soon faltered and was still.
"Shall we gather at the river, Where bright angel-feet have trod:
With its crystal tide forever Flowing by the throne of God?"
The words rang, out clear and sweet, and then the joyful assurance
"Yes, we'll gather at the river, The beautiful, the beautiful
river. Gather with the saints at the river That flows by the throne of
The words of stanza after stanza floated out into the darkness of
the cliffs and upper sands with a distinctness that the loud waves
did not overcome. There was no form or, motion visible in all the
night that hid the shoreward side of the beach.
The next morning Addle went from the settlement, to carry the woman
and her children some milk. When the girl reached the nook, she found
it empty. She ran upon the bluffs, and looked northward, but there was
neither horse nor wagon visible. The mother, and children had
evidently resumed their journey very early, and the turns of the
country roads had hidden the travelers. They had vanished forever.
"God guide them to the River!" whispered Addie.
AT COUSIN HARRIET'S
The "filaree," or pinclover; had borne its seeds with curious long
ends--those seeds that California children call "clocks"--and among
THE filaree there stood, on slender, bare stems, small flowers of the
lily family which are known as "bluebells." A boy was walking through
the filaria. He was carrying a hatchet and an ax, and he looked tired,
though it was early in the day.
"I guess Cousin Harriet doesn't know how hard working on the alkali
patch is," he murmured softly. "She isn't like mother:"
The boy's head dropped, and a sob escaped him.
"I wish mother hadn't died;" he said chokingly. "Most every boy has
He tried to stop crying, but it was hard, for he was overworked,
and he was only twelve years old.
Six months before this, his mother had died. Several weeks alter
her death, Claude's father had been called East on business; and had
left the boy and his younger sisters Rose and Daisy on a ranch owned
by Cousin Harriet, several miles from the children's former home. It
had been very hard for the children to part from their father so soon
after their mother's death, but he told them that while the business
that called him East would take a number of months, yet there was some
prospect that their mother's own sister, Aunt Jennie, with her husband
and little boy, would come with Claude's father on his return. Then
they could all live together at the dear home place. So the stay at
Cousin Harriet's would not probably be perpetual.
Cousin Harriet was a widow. She looked after her ranch with great
diligence. She had several hired men and women, and the ranch was a
very busy place. Cousin Harriet was not much used to children, having
none of her own, but she tried to do her duty by the three left in her
charge. Rose and Daisy did not find the household tasks that were
assigned them very difficult. Cousin Harriet secretly did not like
boys, however. She tried to treat Claude justly, but the boy sadly
missed the mother-love to which he had been accustomed all his life.
He was expected to help the hired men on the ranch, and they made him
work rather hard, especially since they had been fixing the "alkali
The alkali patch was in the southwest corner of Cousin Harriet's
ranch. On several acres, nothing would grow, on account of the alkali
in the soil. The alkali stood on the ground in white patches here and
there, and Claude hated the sight of it. Cousin Harriet, however, was
very enthusiastic about trying to reclaim this "alkali sink," so that
it might bear crops.
Alkali extended over the fields of adjoining neighbors, and Cousin
Harriet thought that if only her hired men could conquer her alkali
patch, then the discouraged neighbors might think it possible to do
something with such parts of their land, also. So, one of the first
things that was done with Cousin Harriet's "alkali sink" was to make
some redwood drains, shaped like the letter V, and place these about
three feet below the surface. A "sump," or drainage pit, was dug,
too, into which the drains might discharge the alkali water. The
hired men expected Claude to help dig the "sump," and it proved quite
hard work. So did the pounding of the "hard pan" on the alkali tract,
itself. The tough, hard clods of earth were so difficult to pulverize
that they had to be pounded with crowbars and axes.
"I used to think that helping pick lemons, at home, was work,"
Claude thought to-day, as he went toward the part of the ranch where
he was expected to work, "but I didn't know about alkali patches,
then. And--I had mother."
The tears would come into his eyes.
The hired men were scattered over the extensive alkali tract, and
were pounding the clods. Claude chose to work near a man called Neil.
The boy liked Neil better than the other men, because he did not speak
Claude sorrowfully lipunded the alkali clods. How tiresome the work
was, and how uncomfortably warm the sun! The boy worked dejectedly.
After a while, pausing to take breath, he looked up and found Neil
"We are tired," said Neil, with a friendly smile.
"Don't you hate this work?" exclaimed Claude vehemently. "I
wouldn't touch it, if Cousin Harriet didn't make me."
The hired man looked kindly at the small, tired boy.
"It is not most pleasant," he returned, "but what I think of makes
me glad while I work."
"What do you think of?" asked Claude, giving an alkali clod a push.
"I was thinking," answered Neil gently, "how once I had a hard
heart--very hard. It was like these clods, where nothing good can
grow. People who looked at me could see that my heart was hard. Men
would have said, 'Neil's heart can never be different' But Jesus took
away my hard heart and gave me a new one. That is what makes me glad
all the time, though I work on these hard alkali clods. Some day this
patch we work on will be different. There will be beautiful, green,
growing crops on it. But that is not so great a change as it is to
change a hard heart and get a new heart from our Savior."
Claude did not say anything. He bent over the hard clods and worked
silently, but he was not thinking of his work. He was remembering his
mother's voice as it had sounded nights when she had knelt beside his
bed and prayed that her boy might become a Christian. There had been
one night that Claude would always remember, when his mother had come
for the last time to his bedside, and prayed feebly for her boy. The
next week she had died.
Claude looked up at Neil, now. The man evidently found the work
hard, but his face showed that he had spoken truly when he said that
he was glad, even though he did work on the hard, alkali clods.
"I wish I were like Neil," thought Claude.
The wish grew. It changed into an earnest prayer, not that he might
be like Neil, but a prayer for the same blessing that Neil had--a new
heart. No earnest prayer for that gift is ever met by a refusal. Neil
watched Claude anxiously, as they worked day by day.
"We can't change ourselves, any more than this alkali plot can
change itself," said Neil, "but we can yield ourselves and our life
to the blessed Jesus and love him, for he is love."
One day, Claude said softly, "I've done it, Neil. I've given myself
The face of the hired man glowed with added happiness through the
toiling days that followed. When the alkali clods were broken and
plowed, gypsum was scattered on the land and harrowed in. Then water
was turned on and allowed to stand several inches deep over the
alkali plot. The water stood for several weeks. Gradually it soaked
through the soil and passed out into the drainage pit. After several
soakings, alternating with breaking of clods and treatment with
gypsum, the former alkali patch was given some seed. How the men
watched the land day after day, and how the first green sprouts of
corn were hailed! The alkali patch was changed. Cousin Harriet was
"There's so much land saved," she said. "It's a great change."
Neil listened to the words as in a parable. He was thinking of a
greater change. He was rejoicing over the boy of the household.
Months had gone by. One day there was a joyful outcry at the farm-
house. The little girls rushed out to meet their father. With him was
their mother's sister, Aunt Jennie, with her husband and little boy.
Claude was on the ranch at work, and did not hear the joyful outcry
He was not aware of the new-comers, till his father and the two
little girls rushed where Claude was working, and the boy's father
caught him in a close embrace.
"Come and see Aunt Jennie," his father said to Claude.
"She-she looks like, mamma," whispered Rose tremulously, and Claude
came somewhat bashfully into the house.
There he saw a woman whose face did indeed look, like his mother's,
and he felt mother-arms put around him. He heard a voice like his
mother's say, "Is this my boy?" He felt a warm teardrop on his cheek,
and he knew that Aunt Jennie understood and cared for boys, and that
he would be indeed "her boy."
That afternoon they all drove away from the ranch, leaving Cousin
Harriet smitten with a sudden sense of loneliness, for she had even.
grown attached to Claude as well as to his sisters. The boy looked
back at the ranch. It was rapidly being left behind, but he could
still see the green patch of corn that covered the place where the
alkali used to be. Rut the boy was, not thinking of the alkali patch
alone. A look of reverent thankfulness came into his face. "Mother
will be glad I ever met Neil," he thought.
TWO small brown hands were held outstretched in the air. Cautiously
they moved forward, lower and lower. Then they darted and grasped
with speed what seemed to be some sand. Something in the sand
objected, but the boy held on and gathered sand and all into his tin.
He looked with much satisfaction at his presumably indignant prisoner,
a spiny gray "horned toad" that had been peaceably sunning himself,
nearly buried in sand, on the hill.
The owner of the two nimble hands, Arturo, smiled.
"Get four bit, maybe!" he anticipated.
"Get four bit for tia Marta!"
In California "four bits" means a half dollar. Occasionally
somebody on the overland train that stopped at the station in town
would be attracted toward a spiny "horned toad" as a curiosity, and
would buy one. Arturo meant to try to sell this specimen in that way.
If he got the money, he would give it to tia Marta.
Tia Mama was Arturo's aunt. "Tia" means "aunt" in Spanish.
Presumably for the reason that nephews are sometimes troublesome to
their aunts, there is a Spanish proverb that warns a nephew against
making his aunt too frequent visits:
En casa de tia, Mas no cads dia:' ("In the house of thy aunt, But
not every day.") Notwithstanding this adage, however, the boy Arturo
lived with his Aunt Marta. This was not always pleasant, for neither
Arturo nor tia Marta was perfect. Yet they really thought a good deal
of each other. The third member of the household was Tia Marta's
husband, do (uncle) Diego, but he was very old and lame, and could not
work. Tia Marta earned the living, and Arturo usually thought of
himself as dwelling with tia Marta rather than do Diego. Arturo never
quarreled with his uncle.
When the overland train stopped at the station for water, and
Arturo rushed breathlessly to sell his horned toad, the eager boy
found no passenger who was desirous of being a customer save an old
gentleman who doubtfully offered twenty-five cents for the creature.
'Arturo stuck bravely to his intended price of "four bits," but the
train creaked for starting, and, alarmed, the boy hastily handed over
the toad, took the quarter of a dollar, and rushed off the train.
The old gentleman shouted from the platform for instructions as to
feeding his pet, 'axed Arturo shouted back advice in broken English
to let it catch "muchos, muchos" (many) flies, and have "mucho,
mucho" air. The toad was in a pasta-board box at present. Arturo was
anxious that it should be well treated, for the boy felt it would not
be fair to make the creature a prisoner, and then sell it to somebody
who would starve it.
The old gentleman seemed satisfied with the shouted directions. But
when the train had puffed away, Arturo sat down and wrathfully looked
at his quarter of a dollar.
"He had altos pesos!" Arturo muttered; "ought give four bit."
According to Arturo's belief, every American had in his possession
"altos pesos," which is Spanish for "high" or "enormous" "dollars,"
or, as Americans say, "a pile of money." Therefore Arturo felt sure
that the old gentleman ought to have given half a dollar for the
Arturo was now not at all inclined to give tia Marta the
twenty-five cents. He wanted the money himself. Tia Marta was going to
wash for somebody to-day, and would get her pay.
What should he buy? Twenty-five cents must not be spent lightly. It
was not so often that a horned toad was found or sold.
Arturo did not muse long alone. Another boy had heard Arturo's
shouted advice to the old gentleman, and had told two or three
comrades. They came about Arturo to proffer advice. "Bollos," or
cakes, were joyfully suggested, but Arturo refused.
An older Spanish boy, Manuel, joined the company. He was a lazy
fellow, whom a good many of the younger boys admired because he could
play a guitar and because he wore cheap jewelry that seemed gorgeous
to inexperienced eyes.
Manuel approved of Arturo's rejection of the cake proposition. What
good was cake? It would be soon eaten and gone!
Manuel, who was ever bent on securing any money that he could
obtain without work, proposed to Arturo that he should buy a certain
watch- chain owned by himself. Manuel, who knew that the showy thing
was worthless, tried to picture how a fine-looking boy like Arturo
would appear with so gorgeous an ornament. The younger boys listened
enviously, and Arturo's Spanish love of display began to glow. Yet he
was cautious enough to put off Manuel till the next day. Arturo went
away, leaving the younger boys gazing enviously after him. His pride
As Arturo came into the little yard that was about his humble home,
he heard tia Marta singing. Arturo always dreaded to hear her sing,
because then he was sure that some calamity had occurred. Tia Marta
fully believed in the Spanish saying, "He who sings frightens away
It was as Arturo thought. Tia Marta had failed to get the day's
washing she had expected to have. This seemed very unfortunate, for
there was but little in the house to eat. Beans, one of the main
staples of food among the Mexicans, were almost gone from the
household supplies, and there was no money to buy more. Tia Marta had
cooked the last of the beans for supper. The uncle and aunt gave fully
half the beans to Arturo, and, being hungry, he ate them. Tia Marta
ate little, and urged the rest of the beans on tio Diego.
After supper, the aunt repeated with devout cheerfulness those
Spanish sayings, "God sends the sore, and knows the medicine," and
"God sends the cold according to our rags." She believed that God
Arturo thought of the twenty-five cents in his pocket. He looked at
old tio Diego. Arturo wondered if his uncle were really hungry.
Beans! Twenty-five cents would buy beans enough for a number of days.
But it would be such a downfall to buy only beans with that
twenty-five cents! Tia Marta would probably find some washing soon,
and would buy beans herself. Arturo had had enough supper to-night.
Next day Arturo bought the watch-chain. The little boys at school
were overawed by his showy ornament, but the teacher thought
laughingly, "How these Spanish do like to dress up!"
At night, when Arturo went home with his watch-chain hidden in his
pocket, tia Marta was singing again. There was only a little bread
and some dried figs for supper, and Arturo's healthy boyish appetite
already began to make him sorry for his bargain.
The next day tia Marta sang, and there were only dried figs to eat
all day. The next day there were figs for breakfast and figs at noon.
Even dried figs were almost gone.
At night, however, tia Marta said joyfully, "I got wash to-morrow!"
Arturo felt relieved.
The next morning there were only two or three figs apiece. When
Arturo came home at noon, he found frightened tio Diego crying feebly
and leaning over tia Marta, who had sunk in the door-way. Scantily fed
tia Marta's strength had given out in the midst of the washing. She
said she was only dizzy, but Arturo was frightened by her looks.
Suddenly it came to him that he loved her.
Arturo ran out of the house. He ran to a little grocery, and begged
the grocer to take the watch-chain for some beans. The grocer only
laughed, telling the boy the chain was worthless. But Arturo was
desperate. He knew better than to go to Manuel. Manuel would have
spent the twenty-five cents long ago, and Arturo pleaded with the
grocer. The grocer's wife was in and out, looking after her romping
children. She held the worthless, gaudy chain before her black-eyed
baby, who clutched it and laughed. The mother laughed, too. Her
husband laughed. The baby kept the chain, and crowed.
The grocer's wife filled a big paper bag with beans, and gave it,
with a loaf of bread, to Arturo. The boy clasped the packages, and
At home he found tia Marta sitting still with shut eyes.
"Eat!" cried Arturo, thrusting the loaf into her hands.
Tio Diego laughed with joy and put the beans to cooking. Arturo
stayed home from school that afternoon, and helped wash. To-morrow
the pay would come. Tio Diego tried lamely to help Arturo wash.
Tia Marta was feeling better, and had just declared her intention
of washing, when Arturo suddenly forsook the tub and dropped beside
"Me malo, malo!" (bad) he sobbed.
He cried bitterly, and told tia Marta about the watch-chain.
Old tia Marta looked pityingly at her shamefaced nephew.
"Poor child!" she said, "thou art young."
But when next day the school teacher asked Arturo the reason of his
absence from school the previous afternoon, and he had confessed the
whole story, the teacher said, "Arturo, it is more beautiful to have
a heart of love toward others than it is to wear a watch-chain even
of real gold. Will you remember that?"
Arturo promised, and the teacher said to herself:
"I will see that tia Marta does not come to such straits again."
The Waves splashed on the bold rocks that guard the little harbor
of Colombo on the southwest shore of the island of Ceylon. Groves of
palm trees looked down on the one-story houses of the town. Upon a
rock outside of Colombo stood a barefoot boy, his dark eyes gazing
toward the tropically green mountains of the island. His attention
was particularly riveted on one of the highest peaks, that one which
is known to English-speaking people as "Adam's Peak," and which is
reverenced by natives as being the traditional spot from which Buddha
ascended to heaven.
"The butterflies are making their pilgrimage to the holy
footprint," murmured the boy, Comale, to himself.
He could see from his standpoint great streams of butterflies,
taking their flight apparently from all parts of the island, and
going toward the famous Peak. These flights of butterflies, occurring
occasionally in Ceylon, have won for the butterflies themselves the
name of "Samanaliya," since it is thought that the heathen god, Saman,
left his footprint on the mountain, and the butterflies, like devout
beings, take pains to go on pilgrimage to the holy footprint.
Comale himself knew better than to believe in this old heathen
tale, yet he never saw the myriads of flying butterflies without
remembering what he had been taught in his earlier years, before
Christianity came under the high-pitched roof where Comale's father
and mother lived.
Long time did Comale stand on the rock and gaze at the vast numbers
of flying, winged "pilgrims." The butterflies seemed countless, and
at last Comale, sighing a little, said, "They are very good," and,
jumping from his rock, made haste toward the cinnamon gardens where
Comale was a "peeler." In the perfectly white soil around the city
of Colombo, the cinnamon tree flourishes as well as, if not better
than, in any other place in the world. It requires much practice to
become a skillful peeler of cinnamon, but Comale, having been taught
by his father, and being moreover a careful, observing lad, was fast
attaining a degree of success in his trade. Formerly the Cingalese
had allowed the cinnamon trees to grow to their natural height, about
twenty or thirty feet, and naturally the cinnamon bark from such trees
had been tough. This was long ago, however, before even the Dutch
owned Colombo. Better wisdom came with them, and in these later days
of English rule, sensible ideas still prevailed. The cinnamon trees
were kept pruned, and the comparatively young shoots were found to
produce better cinnamon than old trees had done.
Comale, arriving at the gardens, began to work. The branches he
chose for cutting were about three feet long and were the growth of
from three to five years.
Comale made longitudinal cuts in the bark, two cuts in a small
shoot, more cuts in a large shoot, and then with his instrument
carefully removed the bark strips.
He placed the pieces of bark in bundles, in which shape the
cinnamon was to stay for a while, that it might ferment, so that the
outer skin and the under green portion might be more easily scraped
away by Comale with a curved knife. After that, the inner cinnamon
bark would dry and draw up, till the pieces looked like quills. But
ever, as Comale worked this day, something inly disturbed his
thoughts. He was very unhappy.
"Comale," warned his father sharply, "that was a bad cut! Be more
Comale's father was attending to some bark that had dried to
quills. He was putting small cinnamon quills into larger ones, till he
made a collection about forty inches long. Then he would bind the
cinnamon into bundles by pieces of split bamboo. But Comale's father
kept an eye on his son's work, also.
Comale was much abashed at his father's reproof. For a time the lad
kept his mind upon the cinnamon. Then his thoughts went back to their
old uncomfortable vein, for he found in a tree a little bundle of
sticks from four to six inches long, all the sticks placed lengthwise,
the whole looking like a small bunch of firewood. Comale knew what
this bundle was, well enough, for many a time he had found this kind
of a nest of the larva of a moth. He knew it was lined with fine spun
silk, and that the heathen people said that the moth used once to be a
real person who stole wood, and who, having died, came back to earth
again in the form of a moth, condemned, for the former theft, to make
little bunches of firewood. Comale sighed as he touched the little
bundle hanging from the tree.
He thought of the "good" butterflies that he had that morning seen
going on "pilgrimage."
"Some people are good, and some people are bad," thought Comale
sadly. "The butterflies go on pilgrimage, but the bad moth's little
bundle of firewood hangs in the tree. I wish I did not always do
Ordinarily he would not have cared for the acts of either moth or
butterfly, but to-day there was in Comale's heart a sense of guilt
that found accusation from unwonted sources.
"Comale!" warned his father again, "another false cut!"
Tears of mortification sprang to the lad's eyes. Never had ha
seemed to himself to be so awkward a peeler. It was something beside
awkwardness that ailed Comale's hand to-day. He was worrying over the
possible consequences of a deed of his.
That morning, he and his sister Pidura, who was about his own age,
had quarreled. They did not quarrel as often now as they used to
before Pidura and he knew anything about the way to be a Christian.
They tried to be patient, usually, but this morning there had been a
sharp quarrel between the two about the rice for breakfast. After
breakfast, Comale, still feeling very angry, had gone into the
veranda that each one-story house possesses. This veranda was
overshadowed by the high-pitched roof, and while, inside the house,
there was matting on the floor, as in Cingalese houses, the veranda
had a rough material made from the husks of the cocoanut. This
material was so placed as to prevent serpents from crawling into the
house. Ceylon has many serpents, and Pidura, Comale's sister, was
very much afraid of them. As Comale, yet very angry with his sister,
stood in the veranda, it occurred to him that if he pulled away some
of the rough cocoanut material, he might leave a place where a
serpent could come into the house and scare Pidura. It would be good
enough for her, he thought; and not pausing to reason about the
consequences of his action, he pulled away the rough material till he
left quite a space undefended. He did not believe that Padura would
He could see her, busy in the kitchen, which is a house separate
from a Cingalese dwelling. Her plump, pleasant face bent over the
fire, and then again she turned away, her light jacket and striped
skirt vanishing toward another corner of the kitchen. Comale half
laughed as he thought how scared she would be if a little serpent
should find the opening he had made. Then he ran away.
But now, since beginning his day's work, his quarrel and the
possible consequences of his misdeed had begun to weigh heavily on
Comale's conscience, and had lent an accusing tongue to nature. So
true is it that a guilty conscience finds censure where a heart that
is at peace with God and man would find no reproving reminder.
Comale could not go home till nightfall, and all day his worry
increased. Why had he done so wicked a thing? The quarrel over the
trouble about the rice looked so little, now! If a poisonous snake
should find that opening, and should creep in, and strike his mother,
or Pidura, or the little brother, or, the baby! It was dreadful to
think of! Why had he blindly followed his anger? Had he not often
heard that he who would be a Christian must forgive others? Instead of
forgiving Pidura, he had done something that perhaps might kill her.
"Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you." It was what the
missionary had said.
"I ought to have forgiven Pidura!" Comale's heart cried. "Oh, I am
bad, bad! How can I bear it, to wait till I can go home to see if all
Naturally, Comale's work was not done well, to-day. But he cared
little for criticism of his peeling, when at evening the time came to
go home. He ran all the way. He plunged headlong into the street where
he lived. He ran past the tile-roofed houses. There was his home's
veranda with bunches of bananas hanging in the shade, and a basket of
cocoa-nuts below. Comale hastened in, out of breath, yet trying to act
as if nothing ailed him. Pidura was safe! He saw her. He found his
mother and the baby in another room. Comale drew a long breath, and
tried to stop trembling. His little brothers were in the street.
It was growing dusk, and another fear beset him. If a serpent had
crawled into the house, the creature might have hidden itself, and
might not come out till sometime in the night. Comale guiltily
slipped into the veranda again. The unprotected portion had not been
discovered. It lay exposed as he had left it.
As well as he could, Comale replaced the cocoanut-husk material, so
that it might be a defense as before. Then he went softly around
within the house, hunting for any possible hiding-place where the
enemy he dreaded might be concealed.
"Comale," said his mother, "what are you doing?" And Comale did not
dare to hunt any more.
He was dreadfully miserable as he lay that night in the darkness.
He could not sleep. He listened for any outcry. To think that he might
have let an enemy into his own home! Comale rose upon his elbow to
listen. The walls of Cingalese houses are not carried up to the roof,
and, because of this, an outcry or conversation in one room can be
heard all over the house. Comale listened. Sometimes he fancied he
heard the sound of something slipping over the matting on the floor.
So worried was he that when he slept it was only by short naps from
which he woke with a start, and resumed his listening.
Toward morning, when light began to come, Comale crept from his
place. He looked toward where his little brothers slept. Hanging
above one of the little boys was a slender dark line. It was alive!
It swayed to and fro in the shadows, and seemed to slip a little
lower toward the sleeping child. Comale started. He sprang forward
with a cry, and caught the swaying thing. But it was no living
creature that Comale brought with him to the floor. It was only a
long, thin strip of bamboo with which Comale's father had intended to
bind cinnamon bark! The strip had been hung up out of the way, and had
swung a little in the current of air between the top of the wall and
the roof. As the bamboo strip swayed, it had gradually slipped lower
and lower toward the sleeping little boy below.
Comale's outcry had aroused the household; and without reserve the
penitent lad told to the family the story of his misdeed. His dark-
faced father smiled slightly and showed his teeth through his beard.
He understood now the mistakes Comale had made in the cinnamon work
the previous day.
"A wrong heart makes corundoo peeling go ill, Comale," he said
"Corundoo" is the native word for cinnamon.
"A wrong heart makes rice-cooking go ill, too," softly confessed
Pidura. "I am sorry for yesterday's rice! It was I who made Comale's
The father looked from one child to the other.
"Little children, love one another," he said.
AT THE PANADERIA.
The door of the "panaderia" opened. Americans would have called the
place a bakery, but the sign said "Panaderia," which might be
interpreted "breadery" or bake-house. All California does not read
English, and it behooves shop-keepers sometimes to word their signs
for the customers desired. In like manner the "Restaurante Mexicana,"
across the street, on a sign advertised "comidas," or meals, at
twenty-five and fifty cents.
Through the panaderia doorway came a girl and a boy. They walked
along by the "zanja," or irrigation ditch, that here bordered the
road. The fern-leaved pepper trees beside the zanja were dotted with
clusters of small, bright red berries.
"Rosa," said the boy, when the two had walked a little way, "I saw
in that big yard many purple and green grapes, spread out drying for
Rosa did not answer. She trudged on, carrying her basket of bread.
The brother carried a loaf in brown paper. He and she lived at the
panaderia, and had set forth to carry the bread to the two regular
"Rosa," stated the boy again, after a pause, "all the little
oranges on the trees over there are green."
Rosa did not even look toward the oranges.
"Rosa," affirmed the boy emphatically, when a few minutes had gone
by, "the Chinese doctor is measuring a window in his house! See! He
has some little teacups and a teapot in his front room! I saw them
Rosa looked absently toward the old building, inside a window of
which was visible the head of the Chinese doctor, who wore black
goggles, and who was indeed measuring his window for some reason.
Rosa had small hope of the Chinese doctor as a future customer. She
had seen him eating his rice with chop-sticks, and he never came to
buy a scrap of bread or anything else. Rosa sighed to think what
would become of the panaderia, if all the world had the same opinion
as the Chinese doctor, in regard to eating. In these days Rosa was in
danger of looking upon the world from a strictly calculating
standpoint, and of regarding only those people as worthy of her
interest who either were or might become customers of the panaderia.
Still indeed customers were needed, for the receipts had been slight,
lately, and Rosa's grandmother's parrot, Papagayo, a bird of such
understanding that he had learned to screech, "Pan por dinero," (bread
for money) had recently seen more of the former than of the latter in
Rosa and her brother still kept by the zanja, even when it turned
away from the road. They went on till they reached the orange orchard
of the Zanjero of the town. The Zanjero is the man who has the
oversight of the irrigation system, and he has deputies under him.
Rosa and her brother Joseph thought the Zanjero a great man, and stood
much in awe of the irrigation laws concerning stealing water, or
raising a gate to waste water, or giving water to persons outside the
The two bread-carriers went through the orange orchard, which was
not being irrigated at this hour, for the Zanjero was particular
himself to keep the hour that he paid for, as other men should be. Up
to the Zanjero's house Rosa now carried the bread, and his wife
herself paid for it. Rosa tied the coins carefully in one corner of
the black shawl that she wore over her head.
"Rosa," anticipated Joseph aloud, as they went away through the
orange orchard again, "when I am grown up, I shall be a Zanjero, and
we will not have to keep the panaderia!"
But Rosa looked unbelieving. "It is not granted every man to be the
Zanjero," returned she gravely, "and I love the panaderia."
It was true. She did love it, even to the castor-oil plants that
grew like weeds in neglected places in the yard, and down to the
south wall that was hung with a thick veil of red peppers that her
grandmother was drying in the sun. It was only because the panaderia
had not enough customers that Rosa looked so grave to-day. Besides,
the grandmother's birthday was near, and where was money for a
At the other house where the children regularly delivered bread,
irrigation had been going on all the morning. The half-day of
irrigation, for which the owner of this orange orchard had paid, was
just over, and the water-gate connecting the man's ditch with the
main zanja was being shut when Rosa and Joseph arrived. The little
water-gate was like a wooden shovel. It slid down some grooves, and
the running water stopped. It squirmed in the zanja an instant. Then
the little wooden gate was fastened with a padlock, as every gate
must be when the payer for water had received from the Zanjero's
deputy the amount of water paid for, whether by the fifty-cent-hour,
or the two-dollar-day, or the dollar-and-a-quarter night rate, and
whoever unauthorized should unfasten the padlock and open the gate
would be a thief of water.
After witnessing the shutting off of the water, Joseph carried his
paper-enfolded loaf to the house of this second regular customer, and
then the children turned homeward toward the panaderia.
"Pan por dinero!" cried the parrot, Papagayo, when Rosa and Joseph
reentered the panaderia; but alas! no customers were there. Only the
grandmother sat sewing behind the counter, her blurred old eyes close
to the cloth she held.
"I will take care of the panaderia now, grandmother," Rosa offered;
and the grandmother answered, "I will rest a little, then."
The poor, dear grandmother! She was so tired and thin, nowadays,
and her hands trembled so much! It was hard for her to try to sew. If
the panaderia paid better, if there were more regular customers to
whom Rosa and Joseph could carry eatables, then the grandmother would
not attempt sewing at all, for it strained her eyes very much. But now
she did not know what else to do. There must be a living for herself
and the children someway.
Rosa found the afternoon long, sitting behind the counter, waiting
for customers and trying to sew. A little boy came in and bought a
loaf. Two girls bought another. Then the panaderia door ceased to
swing, and the quiet afternoon went on. Across the street, women
stood here and there and gossiped.
Nobody came. It grew four, then five, then six o'clock. Finally the
panaderia door opened, and a woman entered. Rosa sprang up. Here was
a customer, at last!
But the woman only came to the counter, and stood still. She was
young, very thin and ill, evidently, and her eyes had tears in their
depths. Under the black shawl that was over the newcomer's head Rosa
spied a dark mark, as of a bruise, on the forehead. The young woman
tried to speak.
"I have three little children," she said. "I am sick. I cannot
work, and their father drinks mescal--always mescal. I have no money.
Will you give me a little bread? I am no beggar, but my babies are so
Rosa knew how much harm mescal (a kind of intoxicating drink made
from the maguey or Mexican aloe) did among the neighbors. She did not
doubt the woman's tale; only it was disappointing, when one thought a
real customer had at last come to the panaderia, to find that it was
not so. But the girl nodded sympathetically at the conclusion of the
young woman's appeal.
"I will speak to grandmother," she promised.
She found her grandmother lying down still, but half awake, and
explained to her the situation.
"Yes, yes," returned the grandmother, her wrinkled face full of
sympathy. "Give her the bread. Has not the Lord told us to care for
the poor? He would not be pleased if we sent her away without bread.
Tell the poor woman to come again. The little children, must be fed."
Rosa hurried back to the counter, and gave the woman two fresh
loaves and the grandmother's message.
"Gracias!" (thanks) sobbed the young woman and hurried away.
"I hope she will not tell that we gave her bread," murmured Rosa to
herself as the usual quiet settled over the panaderia. "We can't
afford to give bread to many people."
The weeks went by, and the panaderia did not prosper very well. It
grew to be a customary thing for the thin, sick woman to come daily
for bread, and she was never refused. She said with a sensitive
eagerness that when she was well again she would work and pay all
back, and Rosa's grandmother answered "Yes," cheerily, to this
promise, though any one who looked at the poor young mother's face
could see that there was small prospect of her ever being well again
in this world. Her husband still drank.
Times grew harder and harder at the panaderia. In the midst of the
winter a heavy blow fell, for the Zanjero's wife took a fancy to
making her own bread, and as she was the regular customer who bought
more loaves and paid more promptly than the other, the panaderia felt
the loss keenly. Customers were very scarce, and the grandmother's
eyes became so weak that she could no longer sew. Rosa sewed the
little that she could, but some days there was scarcely enough to eat
at the panaderia, except the very few loaves in the case--the loaves
that the three hardly knew whether to dare eat or not, for fear some
one should come in and want to buy. There were many other people who
were poor and without work, and the little family kept their troubles
to themselves. The poor sick neighbor always came every day and was
given bread. Winter passed and spring arrived without much change in
the panaderia's prospects.
"We could have eaten that ourselves," thought Rosa one night when
the neighbor went out with the bread.
The grandmother had said that the poor were God's care, and he
would bless those who for his sake fed them.
"But we keep on being poorer and poorer," thought Rosa with a sigh.
Then she reproached herself. Had not her grandmother said that the
Lord cared about the panaderia? One day when spring was turning into
summer, the poor neighbor came in earlier than usual. Her face was
very white. Rosa and her grandmother were both by the counter. The
grandmother smiled and was about to draw out the bread and give it to
the woman. But the poor neighbor dropped her head on the counter, and
stretched out her hand toward the old grandmother. The grandmother
took the hand, and lo! in her own lay a little key.
"Take it to the Zanjero!" sobbed the sick neighbor," and tell him
to forgive! It was the mescal made my husband do it!"
Little by little Rosa and her grandmother pieced together the story
of the small key. Some unscrupulous persons wished to obtain water
for irrigation without paying for it. A key was made that fitted the
padlocks of the little wooden gates leading from the zanja. By night
some one must open these gates and close them again before morning.
It was thieving, of course, and the Zanjero or his deputies might
catch the person who did it. But the sick neighbor's husband, wanting
money to buy more mescal, had been induced to undertake the task of
stealthily opening the gates. His wife, suspicious of his errand, had
followed him on the first night of his attempt. She had seen him stop
by a Mexican cactus, and raise something, she knew not what, in the
zanja. After he had gone, she went to the spot and putting her hand
into the water felt the current that ran through a gate he had opened.
"Then I know!" tearfully declared the woman to Rosa's grandmother.
"I follow my husband. I tell him the Zanjero is the friend of the
good panaderia that gives the bread! I tell him he shall not open the
other gates! I snatch the key! I tell him `No! No! The panaderia is my
friend! The Zanjero is the panaderia's friend!' He shall not cheat the
Zanjero! My husband say if he open other gates he get money for
mescal. I say 'No!' I run away with key. My husband say, 'Don't tell
anybody! I will not open the gates again! Let other men do it.' But I
say, 'I must tell, because the Zanjero is the best friend of the
panaderia. No one shall cheat the best friend of the panaderia, that
feeds our babies so long--all winter and now."
Evidently the woman supposed that the Zanjero was still the
principal regular customer of the panaderia. Rosa and her grandmother
had never told about his ceasing to buy bread, and the neighbor
thought that he was still considered their very chief customer.
That evening Rosa and Joseph took the long-unused path to the
Zanjero's house. His wife came to the door.
"Oh," she said, "it's the two little bread-bringers! No, I don't
want any bread. Are you trying to get orders?"
"May I see the Zanjero?" asked Rosa gravely.
The Zanjero's wife, whose name in plain English was Mrs. Craig, led
the two children into her husband's presence. Rosa, very pale with
the thought of being in the presence of so great a man, told her
story in trembling tones, and held out the key.
The Zanjero took it, and looked at it curiously.
"Will you forgive?" asked Rosa timorously. "The poor, sick woman
asks you to forgive. She says it was the mescal that made her husband
"I presume so," returned the man grimly. "They're all thieves."
But the Zanjero's wife was wiser than her husband. She dropped into
a chair and put an arm around Rosa.
"You have not told all the story yet, or else I do not understand,"
she said gently. "What makes this woman so much your friend that she
comes and tells your grandmother about the key?"
So the whole story came out at last--about the long, sad winter at
the panaderia; the grandmother's attempts at sewing; her failing
eyes; the lack of customers, yet the daily giving of bread to the
poor neighbor and her three children; the trust that the Lord knew
about the panaderia and its occupants.
The Zanjero's wife understood it all now. She looked up at her
husband. There were tears in her eyes as she said:
"While you are forgiving that man, you'd better think how much
forgiveness I need for having stopped taking bread of the panaderia
in the heart of winter, when they needed the money so badly! To think
of their struggling along, and yet giving bread every day to a woman
and three babies! If the panadeiia folks had not done this, you'd
never have found out about this plan to rob the zanja! That woman
would simply have kept the story and the key to herself, and those
dishonest men would have found somebody else to open the gates at
night for them. It was only because she thought that you were a noted
customer of the panaderia that she sent you word of this plan to steal
The great Zanjero turned and looked at Rosa.
"Tell that sick woman," he said gravely, "that I forgive her
husband for opening the gate, though I don't know how much water he
helped steal that night. Tell her, though, that he must never do such
a thing again. I am coming to see him myself, and I shall tell him he
is forgiven. But he must stop drinking mescal."
"And tell your grandmother," broke in the Zanjero's wife, "that I
want three loaves of bread to-morrow morning, and I want bread every
day. Here's the money for the three loaves. And I'm going to get you
a lot of regular customers! I have friends enough. They'll take bread
of you, if I ask them. You poor children! Why didn't you come and tell
me about things, long ago?"
So it was that the mercy which the old grandmother showed to the
sick neighbor and her children returned in blessing on the panaderia.
For the Zanjero's wife rested not till she had fulfilled her promise.
Customers became many and well-paying, and the old grandmother, happy
in the prosperity, said to Rosa and to Joseph:
"See you, my children? Did I not tell you that the Lord knew about
the panaderia? It is he who sends all this good to us who deserve it
MISS STRATTON'S PAPER
The wind was blowing quite keenly from the north, and Miss Stratton
had the collar of her coat turned up, as she hurried through the
darkness of the avenue. She was talking behind her coat collar, the
tips of which brushed her lips. If what Miss Stratton said had been
audible to any one beside herself, it would have sounded as if she
were talking severely to somebody.
"I don't see why you can't throw that evening paper where we can
find it!" Miss Stratton was saying under her breath. "We have a broad
walk, and there's plenty of room! I've been out in the yard three or
four times to-night, and hunted thoroughly, and mother's been out
once. Mother's eyes are poor, and she likes to have the paper before
Miss Stratton caught her breath in the cold wind. She hastened by a
gas-lamp, climbed the hill, and found her way in darkness up the long
steps of a house. She fumbled for the bell and rang it. There was a
little stir within, the opening of an interior door to let light into
the hall, and then a boy's step. The front door opened. Miss Stratton
looked straight into the boyish face that appeared.
"I want to know where you threw our paper to-night," she demanded.
"I can't find it anywhere."
The boy stepped one side so that the light within the farther room
might fall on Miss Stratton's face. He recognized her.
"Oh," returned the boy, "your paper went up a tree."
"Up a tree!" exclaimed Miss Stratton, indignantly. "Why didn't you
come in and tell me, so I'd know where to look for it?"
"If I'd had an extra copy with me, I'd have thrown in another,"
said the boy--"I'll get you one."
He walked back into the sitting-room, glad to escape from the
accusing subscriber, whom he had not expected to see following him to
his home. Miss Stratton sternly waited. The boy's sister had come into
the hall, and was holding a candle for a light. Her brother came back
with the evening paper, and Miss Stratton took it.
"I wish you'd be careful where you throw that paper, Harry," she
admonished him, her indignation cooling. "I've spoken to you about
that before. I don't like to have to come away up here for the paper.
It isn't convenient."
"Yes'm," answered the boy.
Miss Stratton hurried home. When she arrived there, one of the
first things she saw gleaming faintly through the garden's darkness,
was the missing evening paper that Harry had thrown into a pepper tree
near the side fence. During Miss Stratton's absence, the strong wind
had shaken the paper down, and it lay at the foot of the tree. "How
did he suppose I was going to find that paper up that tree?"
questioned Miss Stratton. "I did look up there before dark, but I
didn't see anything."
The evening paper was easily discoverable for a week or so after
this: Then matters went back to their old state and Miss Stratton
frequently spent a quarter of an hour finding her evening paper.
"If he'd take the slightest pains he could throw it on this walk
that is ten feet wide!" she would tell herself indignantly, as she
pushed aside the branches of blue marguerites and the leaves of
calla-lilies, and peered into holes on either side of the steps near
the front gate, where the watering of the garden had washed away the
Miss Stratton had liked Harry very much, when he first became paper
boy. He had a frank manner that made him friends. At first he
carefully threw the paper on Miss Stratton's front piazza. He never
skipped an evening, as the former paper boy had sometimes done, and
Miss Stratton rejoiced that at last a paper boy who was reliable had
been found for the route. Months had passed, and while Harry was as
careful at some houses as before, Miss Stratton's was not among that
number. Harry had three 'customers on that street and he nightly
walked only as far toward Miss Stratton's as would enable him to
throw her paper and then, with two or three steps, throw another
paper to the neighbor diagonally across the street. A few more steps
would have made Harry sure that Miss Stratton's paper fell every
night squarely on the broad front path, but he "fired the paper at
her," as he expressed it, and the result was Miss Stratton's
otherwise unnecessary number of steps hunting after her paper. Yet
Harry would have scorned to cheat any customer. He fulfilled the
letter of the law. He delivered the paper.
Late one afternoon the minister and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Landler,
came by invitation to take supper with Mrs. and Miss Stratton. After
a while, as they sat, pleasantly chatting, Mr. Landler spoke of a
ship that had been overdue for almost two weeks. A neighbor's son was
on board, and this fact caused Mr. and Mrs. Landler to look at the
papers, morning and night, as soon as possible, to ascertain if
anything had been heard of the missing vessel.
"That's what my daughter and I have been doing, too," returned Mrs.
Stratton. "I wonder if this evening's paper hasn't come, so we could
Her daughter glanced at the clock.
"Why, yes!" said she. "That paper ought to have come before now."
Miss Stratton went out and hunted carefully. No paper was visible,
search as she might.
"Perhaps it hasn't come yet," she said to the guests, when she came
A little later she went out again. Mrs. Landler came to help
search, though Miss Stratton disclaimed the need of aid.
"The paper doesn't always fall where I can see it," explained Miss
Stratton, mortified at her failure to find the paper for her guests.
"Who brings it around?" asked Mrs. Landler, looking at the broad
"Harry Butterworth," answered Miss Stratton.
She did not tell of the annoyance Harry had caused her heretofore.
Harry's mother was a church friend of the Landlers and the Strattons,
and Miss Stratton was loath to expose the boy's shortcomings.
No paper appeared, and after a thorough search, Mrs. Landler and
Miss Stratton went into the house. Dusk was coming. Miss Stratton had
occasion to go upstairs for something, and glancing out of the front
hall window, she saw the twisted roll of that evening's paper lying on
a projection of the roof.
"He threw the paper on the roof!" exclaimed Miss Stratton, "and he
didn't come in to tell me!"
She pushed up the hall window, and reaching out as far as she
dared, she tried with an old umbrella handle to dislodge the paper.
She drew breathlessly back.
"It's no use! I can't get it!" she gasped.
She went downstairs and told her mother quietly, but Mrs. Stratton
had no scruples about informing her guests what had happened.
"That boy's thrown this evening's paper on the roof!" stated old
Mrs. Stratton. "He does put us to so much trouble!"
The minister instantly offered to climb the roof. Miss Stratton and
her mother protested, but Mr. Landler took off his coat, climbed out
of an upper-story window, and secured the paper. In one column was a
notice that the missing ship had been heard from and was safe. Great
was the rejoicing around the Strattons' supper-table that their
friend's son was not lost.
The next time Mr. Landler saw Harry, the minister said pleasantly,
"You gave me quite a climb the other night, my boy."
Harry looked astonished.
"Gave you a climb?" he questioned. "I gave you one?"
"Yes," nodded Mr. Landler. "Miss Stratton's evening paper fell on
her roof. My wife and I were taking supper there, so I climbed the
roof for the paper."
Harry turned very red. Was ever a paper boy so unfortunate? He knew
the paper fell on the roof, but who would have supposed Mr. Landler
was at the Strattons'? Harry wanted very much to be thought well of
by the minister and his wife. Everybody liked them.
"I didn't know you were there," apologized Harry, hardly knowing
what to say.
"No," said the minister, gently, "we never know who may be in any
home. You didn't know you were delivering the paper to me. You
thought it was to Miss Stratton. Wasn't that it?"
"Yes," acknowledged the boy.
"If the Lord Jesus were here on earth, Harry," went on the minister
in a very grave, tender tone, "and if he wanted a little service from
you, you wouldn't render it in the way you deliver Miss Stratton's
paper, would you? Yet she is his child, one of his representatives on
earth, and as you treat her you treat him. 'Inasmuch as ye have done
it unto one of the least of these,' you know, Harry."
The next night Miss Stratton's paper fell with an emphatic thwack
in the middle of the front walk. The next night it did the same, and
the next, and the next.
"What has changed that boy?" wondered Miss Stratton with grateful
relief, as weeks passed and the paper still fell in plain sight.
She did not know that as Harry carefully aimed his papers, the boy
thought, "'Ye have done it unto me.'"
AN HONEST DAY'S WORK.
Willis walked down one of the city wharves. He was going to see his
father, Mr. Sutherland, who was one of the men employed by the State
Harbor Commissioners in repairing wharves. The piles that supported
the wharves often needed renewing, being eaten by teredos. Sometimes
the flooring of the wharves sagged and needed restoring to the former
Willis liked to see the pile-driver with its big hammer. He
marveled at the air-pumps with which sagging wharves were raised.
Perhaps three air-pumps at a time would be stationed over as many
"caps," as the twelve-inch timbers under the wharf's flooring were
called. The pumps, being worked, would raise the caps and hold them
until blocks could be shoved underneath. Then the pumps were worked
some more, and other blocks put under, till the wharf was restored to
the required level. Great screws such as are used in raising buildings
were also employed under wharves sometimes. There were rocks under
some wharves, and water was under others. Whichever it was, Willis'
father often had to go under the wharves and climb around among the
caps and stringers and piles, repairing.
Seven or eight other men were employed like Mr. Sutherland. It was
mid-forenoon, but Willis saw that three or four of the men were not
working. They were idling around the engine of the pile-driver, and
were eating something that Willis found to be cooked crabs.
"Where's father?" asked Willis. "Under the wharf, working,"
answered one man. "He thinks the State's looking after him every
Willis saw some planks had been taken up in a distant part of the
wharf's flooring. He went there and swung himself down under the
wharf. There were rocks there, and Willis, following the sound of a
hammer, came to his father.
"That you, Willis?" asked his father pleasantly.
"Pa," said the boy, "some of the other men are up there eating
crabs. Why don't you go up and get some, too?"
"It isn't lunch-time," returned Mr. Sutherland. "We're expected to
"Three or four of the men aren't working," said Willis.
"No," rejoined his father. "Several of the men lately have taken to
catching crabs sometimes during work-hours."
"The men tie a rope to a big twine net, and bait it, and let it out
into the bay. In a little while they haul it in again, and there are
maybe half a dozen big crabs in the net. The men have made a sort of
boiler out of an empty kerosene can with one end cut off. They attach
a hose to the boiler of the engine and fill that can with hot water.
The crabs cook in a short time and those men stop work to eat. It
would be all right if the men cooked the crabs at noon, when we're
allowed to lay off, but they stop in the fore-noon sometimes an hour,
and again in the afternoon sometimes, and eat crabs. The foreman we
have now allows it. He does it himself."
While Mr. Sutherland talked he was working. Several of the other
men were working up on top of the wharf, as Willis could tell by the
sounds, but the boy's thoughts were with those three or four other
men who were idling. Were not those men employed to work as steadily
as his father?
"It isn't fair for them to stop and you to have to keep on,"
objected Willis. "I should think those, men would be discharged."
"They may and they mayn't," said his father. "They are appointed by
different Harbor Commissioners, and as long as the Commissioners
don't know, I suppose the men will keep their places."
"One man told me you thought the State was looking at you every
minute," said Willis.
"My boy," answered Mr. Sutherland, fitting a block into place,
"it's true that I'm employed to work for the State, and I feel just as
much that I must do honest work for the State as if I were working
for some individual. But it isn't thought of the State that makes me
faithful. A Christian ought to give an honest day's work. Some people
don't seem to think cheating the State is as bad as cheating another
person. But it is."
Willis climbed upon the wharf again. He saw when the men who had
been eating crabs came back to work. He noticed they did not work
"My father doesn't work that way," thought the boy.
"An honest day's work." The words followed Willis as he went away
from the wharf. The next week Willis was going to begin work for a
large dry-goods store.
"I'll do honest day's work, too," resolved Willis.
He did not put it into words, but he thought that the One who saw
whether a man under the wharves did an honest day's work would see
whether a boy working for a store did the same. Willis was trying to
be a Christian.
Busy days Willis had after that. The large dry-goods store had many
customers who often did not wish to carry bundles home. The store had
two pretty, white-covered, small carts for the delivering of packages.
Willis drove one cart and a boy named August drove the other.
One afternoon Willis, out delivering dry-goods, drove by the house
where August lived, and saw the store's other cart standing there.
"August is home," thought Willis. Just then, August came out.
"Don't tell," called August, laughing.
Willis, hardly comprehending, drove on about his business.
That evening at store-closing time, both boys were back with their
receipt books, signed by customers who had received their packages.
The boys went out of the store together.
"Saw me coming out of our house today, didn't you?" said August to
"Don't you ever stop off half an hour or so, when you're on your
"Why, no!" answered Willis. "What would they say at the store, if
"They can't know," asserted August. "I often stop, that way.
Yesterday I went to see my aunt. How can the store tell? They don't
know just how long it will take to deliver all the parcels. Some
folks live farther off than others. Who's going to know?"
Willis hesitated. He remembered that the thought of the men at the
wharves had been: "Who would know?" Willis had never heard that
anybody had lost his place at the wharves on account of dawdling.
What if August never was found out? Was it right to steal an hour, or
half an hour, of his employer's time?
"No," thought Willis. "I'm going to be honest."
Late one afternoon August came into the store. Willis was later
still, because he had had more parcels to deliver. Both boys' receipt
books showed the customers' signatures.
"There was a big fire up-town," said August secretly to Willis
afterwards. "I stopped to see it before delivering my parcels. You
just ought to have been there!"
"How long did you stay?" asked Willis, gravely.
"Oh, I don't know!" returned August. "Three-quarters of an hour,
maybe. I delivered my parcels all right afterwards."
Willis did not tell anybody about August's actions.
"I wish he wouldn't tell me about them, either," thought Willis,
That week August was discharged.
"I happened to be at the fire myself, and saw you," said one of the
store's proprietors to August." The next time you stop to see a fire,
you will not have a chance to keep one of our delivery carts waiting
an hour while you waste your employer's time watching the firemen. It
didn't look well to see our firm's name on that white cart standing
idle, just as if we hadn't many customers."
"And you were seen once," added the other proprietor," with one of
our carts standing beside an open block, while a ball game was being
played there last week."
As Willis regretfully saw his companion turned away, there came
back to him the scene in the semi-darkness under the wharf, when his
father said, "A Christian ought to give an honest day's work." "And I
will," he muttered.
Two white jaw-bones of a whale stood upright in the sunshine, their
surfaces showing to a near observer numerous small indentations that
caught the dust. The jaw-bones were relics from a little whaling
station that had once been in business near the town. Even now whales
occasionally wander from the great Pacific into the blue bay on which
this old, partly Spanish, California town was situated.
The two white jaw-bones now served the purpose of gate-posts, and
stood some six feet high beside the front gate that opened into a
garden where red hollyhocks rose higher than the humbled jaw-bones.
Inside the gate, the front walk had long been paved with the
vertebrae of whales, each vertebra being laid separately.
No one who had not seen such a walk would realize how well whales'
vertebrae will answer for paving. Some of the old vertebrae had now
sunk below the original level of the walk, so that the path by which
a person went to the old adobe house beyond the red hollyhocks was
somewhat uneven as to surface.
The long, low house was partly roofed with tiles, and the adobe
walls of the dwelling were a yard thick, as any one might see who
looked at the windowsills.
On one of these broad sills Isabelita leaned, her black eyes fixed
on the bone gate-posts that she could see through the blossoming
hollyhocks. There was a displeased expression on the young girl's
face. She was watching for her brother Timoteo, who would soon come
"He must go for the cow tonight," resolved Isabelita aloud in
Spanish. "I will not go! I wish the Americans had never come to this
town! In the old days, my father says, there were no cattle notices
on the trees. My father did not have to go for cows every night!" And
Isabelita frowned as she remembered the notices about letting cattle
run loose upon the highway.
These Spanish--and--English notices were now nailed on pines here
and there along the roads, and proved a source of inquiry to
wandering Americans who saw the boards with their heading:
preceded by two inverted exclamation points and followed by two
others in the upright position--that some Americans have perhaps been
wont to think is the only attitude in which an exclamation point can
stand, Americans not being accustomed to the ease with which an
exclamation point can stand on its head, when used in Spanish
But it was not only with cattle notices and Americans that
Isabelita was offended this day. She was in a bad humor, and nothing
suited her. Hence it was in no pleasant voice that she called to
Timoteo, when he at last made his appearance between the bony
"Hombre bobo, thou must go for the cow tonight!"
Now, "hombre bobo" means much the same as our word "booby,"
therefore this was not a very soothing manner of beginning her
information. To Isabelita's surprise, however, Timoteo answered only
"Yes," and, coming in, put his one book carefully away, and then went
forth for the cow, as he had been bidden. Isabelita stared after him.
She had at least expected a quarrel.
Isabelita would have been more surprised still, if she could have
seen what Timoteo did after reaching the place in the woods where the
cow was tethered. He threw himself down; crushing the fragrant,
small-leaved vines of "yerba buena" as he fell, and, hiding his face,
Timoteo cried in a half-angry, half-hopeless tumult of feeling. The
pink blossoming thistles nodded, and the cow looked wonderingly at the
lad, but no one else saw or heard him. By and by he sat up.
"Teacher never like me any more," he told himself, his lips
quivering. "Americanos tell her my father lazy, my mother no clean.
And I try, I try!"
He choked down a sob. A new teacher had come to the public school,
a sweet-faced, pleasant-toned young lady, whom Timoteo was ready to
obey devotedly from the first time she smiled on the school. Timoteo
did want to learn to be somebody! He looked with admiration on the
Americans boys' clothes and on an especial blue necktie that Herbert
Page wore. Timoteo wondered how it would seem to have a father who
worked and who provided his family with plenty to wear. The lad
Timoteo meant to be like one of the Americans when he grew up. He
would work, instead of lounging about the streets all day, smoking
But alas! That day he had overheard some of the American boy
scholars talking to the teacher about the Spanish ones.
"There's Timoteo," he overheard Herbert Page say. "You don't want
to have him for your milk-man, Miss Montgomery! I don't believe they
keep the milk pails any too clean at his house. Laziness and dirt go
together in these Spanish houses!"
Poor Timoteo! He had hoped the teacher and her mother would take
milk of him. Miss Montgomery had almost promised to, before this, and
one customer for milk made such a difference in Timoteo's home
"But now she never like me any more," Timoteo hopelessly forewarned
himself, as he sat among the trees, his eyes yet red with crying.
"And I try, I try! I have learned wash my hands clean, when I go
school. And I try so hard learn read and write!"
Timoteo sighed heavily. He did not hate those American boys who
looked so much nicer than he. He only had a sorrowful, hopeless
feeling as he unfastened the cow and started homeward with her.
But when the cow lumbered in through the two white, strange gate-
posts at home, she swerved aside a little, and Timoteo saw, standing
under the tall red hollyhocks, his teacher, Miss Montgomery. She had
a bright tin pail in her hand, and she wanted some milk.
Timoteo's eyes brightened.
"I go wash my hands clean, clean!" he cried, and, disappearing,
came back a few minutes after, holding out his palms for Miss
She smiled, and gave him the pail.
"Poor little fellow!" she thought, as she watched him milking. "I'm
afraid some of our American boys don't have charity enough for him."
Timoteo beamed with happiness as he returned the pail brimming with
milk. He was Miss Montgomery's milkman regularly after that, and
when, on Sundays, Miss Montgomery taught a Sunday-school class of
boys, Timoteo always slipped in and listened, though the teacher
wondered sometimes if the boy could understand.
There were fair-haired American boys who looked down on Timoteo at
school and who made him feel that a Spanish boy was an inferior.
Sometimes Timoteo almost felt as if some of the Chinese boys, in the
small fishing-village outside the town, were happier than he, for
they did not seem to care to know anything but how to dry nets and
dry fish. Herbert Page was one of the school boys who always felt
superior to Timoteo. Timoteo did not wonder at it. He had a very
humble opinion of himself, yet sometimes he wished Herbert would only
look at him as he passed by. Herbert would not have spoken rudely to
Timoteo. That, Herbert would have considered degrading. He simply
ignored the Spanish boys of the school.
One Saturday morning, when Timoteo stood on the edge of the cliffs
outside the town, he saw Herbert picking his way out over the long
stretches of rocks to seaward; a basket on his arm and a stick in his
"He go to get abalones, and think he can knock them off with a
stick!" laughed Timoteo.
Herbert had not long lived in this vicinity, and he did not know
the tenacity with which the large, oval-shaped shell, called abalone,
or ear-shell, which is so well known and valued for its beautifully
colored, irridescent lining, clings to the rock when the shell's
inmate is living. At school, the day before, Timoteo had heard
Herbert say that he intended going after abalones on Saturday.
"He no get any," prophesied Timoteo, gazing after Herbert's
Timoteo himself was out abalone-hunting. This was one of the ways
by which he occasionally earned a few cents, visitors to the town
buying the large shells for curiosities. But Timoteo had with him a
long iron spike with which he intended to urge the abalone-shells
from the rocks.
The abalone has a large, very strong, white "foot" inside its long
shell, and there is a row of holes in the shell itself. It is
conjectured that the abalone perhaps exhausts the air under the
shell, and so causes the shell to cling more tightly to the rock than
ever, through atmospheric pressure. It is very difficult to take an
abalone from its rocky home, unless the creature is surprised.
Timoteo, however, was acquainted with abalones, and made good use
of his weapon. He clambered far out over the wet rocks for hours,
finding abalones now and then, and waging war on these thick, rough
ovals that clung so tightly to the rock, the beautiful colors of the
abalone-shells entirely concealed. Timoteo saw nothing more of
Herbert, during these hours of work.
Timoteo succeeded in getting three abalones, the last an especially
large shell. He sat down on the rocks to rest, after the long
struggle with this big abalone. The tide was rising. He would go home
While he sat there, it seemed to him that he heard the sound of
outcries. At first he thought it was the gulls. Half in fun he
shouted in reply. The distant cries seemed redoubled. Timoteo caught
up his basket and long spike. He sprang to his feet.
"Where is it?" he thought, confused with the splash of waves and
the toss of spray.
He listened. He sped, shouting, over the rocks in the direction
from which the cries seemed to come. He stopped now and then to
listen. Yes, it was a human voice that cried for help. It was not the
"Adonde?" (Where?) "Adonde?" shouted Timoteo, forgetting his
English in his excitement.
The answering shouts grew more distinct. Timoteo climbed over the
wet rocks till he found himself near a place where the sounds seemed
to come from between two rocks. Timoteo saw a boy reach up part way
between the two rocks. The boy could not crawl out. The hole between
the rocks was not big enough.
"Timoteo!" screamed a voice, and Timoteo recognized Herbert.
"Say!" Herbert called, "run for help, won't you? I was out here
abalone-hunting, and I guess one of these big rocks must have been
poised just right to topple over. Anyhow, in climbing down here I
managed to topple it. It didn't fall on me, but it fell against the
other rocks so that there isn't room for me to crawl out of here! I
can't make the rock budge, now. And the tide's coming! I thought I'd
drown, away out here, alone. You can't do anything with that spike.
It needs three or four men with levers. Run! The tide's up to my
waist, now! There isn't room between these rocks to crawl out."
For one moment Timoteo stood still and looked at Herbert. Then the
Spanish boy turned and flew over the rocks. Leaping from one slippery
foothold to another, he rushed toward the cliffs, up the cliff road,
on to the clusters of Chinese huts that made a little fishing-village
by itself on the edge of the bay. Whatever Spanish or English
vocabulary Timoteo used, he aroused two or three Chinamen to forsake
their frames of drying fish and cease tossing over the other small
fish that lay drying on the ground.
Seizing the long, heavy iron rods with which the Chinese were wont
to go abalone-hunting, the three Celestials followed in Timoteo's
wake toward the place where Herbert anxiously awaited rescue. There
was much prying with the iron rods before the stone was finally
tilted enough so that the drenched prisoner was released.
"My father pay you," gratefully promised Herbert to the Chinamen,
who nodded and plodded cheerfully back toward their tiny fishing-
Herbert looked at Timoteo.
"I'm much obliged to you," said Herbert. "You were good to run for
But now that Timoteo had seen the success of his helpers, an
abashed silence seemed to have overtaken him. He did not answer. The
silence lasted till the two boys reached the cliffs. Herbert grew
uneasy. His conscience accused him somewhat.
"Come to my house, Timoteo, and my father will give you something
for helping me," promised Herbert uneasily, as the boys climbed the
Timoteo shook his head, but he did not look up.
"See here, Timoteo," burst out Herbert, stopping on top of the
cliffs, "what's the matter? Do you hate me?"
Timoteo glanced up slowly. His dark eyes were full of appeal.
"You no talk to teacher any more about me?" he besought. "You no
tell her my father lazy, we no-'count folks?"
Timoteo's voice shook. He hurried on: "I like teacher. I try be
clean. I wash my hands, my face, all time. I do ver' good to the
teacher. But my mother differ from your mother. Your mother give you
nice clean shirt and clothes. My mother too poor. I try learn, read,
spell. I grow like American boy."
It was the appeal of a soul that looked from Timoteo's eyes.
"Why, you poor fellow, of course you try!" he answered heartily.
"I- -I'm sorry if I've ever said anything to the teacher that made you
feel badly, Timoteo. I won't do it again, and the other boys sha'n't,
either! The teacher knows how hard you try. She said the other day
that you were a good boy. Come on up to our house. Won't you?"
But Timoteo smiled, and shook his head, and went away on the long
road that led toward home. The heart of the Spanish boy was very
happy. He had done good to his enemy, and that enemy was turned into
a friend. And the teacher had said that Timoteo was a good boy! She
knew how hard he tried!
Timoteo sang for joy as he ran.
"I will learn! I will learn! I shall be like los Americanos!" he
sang, and then he remembered how he had been tempted for one instant
not to help Herbert. Timoteo shivered at the remembered temptation.
He sang again for very joy at having been helped to forgive his
In the pines Timoteo stopped, and looked upward through the swaying
"A Dios sea gloria por Jesu-Christo," he murmured reverently. ("To
God be glory through Jesus Christ.")
THE VICTORY OF QUANG PO
Jo bent down and slipped under the barbed wire fence that separated
the field back of the Chinese fishing-village from the other fields
that stretched away to the houses of the California seaside resort
under the pines. The wind blew pleasantly in from the sparkling bay.
A large number of frames for drying fish stretched away to the back
part of the Chinese field. A great net fifty feet long was spread out
on the ground to dry. Jo looked at the wooden sinkers that were
fastened along one side of the net and smiled. "They're all on
again," he thought.
A line of flounders stretched above the narrow, crooked street of
the fishing-village. The flounders looked like queer clothes hung to
dry on a clothes-line. There were crates of small fish, packed so
that they stood on their heads. Underneath a table of drying fish lay
a dead gopher.
Red placards spotted the houses. On the roof of one hut a little
paper windmill was turning in the breeze. Back of one hut was a bit
of garden inclosed with a fence of branches and containing much
mustard. Chinese were washing fish. Shells were exposed for sale,
since at any hour visitors from the American settlement might come to
traverse the Chinese village, and visitors often bought shells.
Even now, as Jo passed through the street, an old Chinaman beckoned
to the lad, and with much mystery unrolled a piece of brown paper and
showed a pearl that had come into his possession and that he wished to
Young Chinese girls, with red or yellow-capped babies strapped on
their backs, packed or spread the fish. Some little Chinese boys were
arranging dried squids in boats drawn up on the shore. On one boat was
a kind of wooden crane, holding a hanging pan. There were some burnt
sticks in the pan, and the whole contrivance was evidently an
arrangement whereby a fire could be made in the boat when it was out
Jo stepped into one deserted hut, and found it to be a kitchen. An
oil can was over some ashes, and there were some queer, big kettles
near. In another place were Chinese children eating their breakfast.
One child had a Chinese cup, out of which she ate with chop-sticks.
Jo sat down on the edge of the village, and watched three women who
were setting off in a boat, intending to row out into the surf to get
kelp. Small fish lay drying all over the rocks by the sea-beach near
Jo, and a Chinaman was lifting up the fish, and letting them drop
again by the handful, while the wind blew away the straw or grass that
had become mixed with the fish while drying. Then the fish were spread
upon matting to dry further.
"Ho'lah!" the Chinaman said to Jo.
"Ho'lah!" responded Jo, and the conversation ceased.
For a few minutes Jo watched two or three Chinese boys who were
lying on the beach, sifting the white sand through their fingers,
hunting for the small, white "rice shells," that American people
Presently, Jo pulled a sketch-book out of his pocket, and began to
draw the collection of queer huts that composed the Chinese village.
By and by the Chinaman who had been tossing fish, Quang Po, sat down
on the rocks. He looked at Jo for a time, and then came and glanced
over Jo's shoulder, smiling. The Chinamen of the village were used to
having artists come and plant their easels here and there on the rocks
or at the entrance of the narrow street, and draw the village on their
canvas. At such times, a small group of Chinamen usually gathered
about each artist, and made in their own tongue comments on the
drawing. No artist knew the nature of the criticisms made in his very
Jo smiled over his own drawing, as Quang Po inspected it.
"Wha' fo' you do that?" inquired Quang Po, mustering his English.
"This drawing?" questioned Jo. "Oh, you see, my cousin is an artist
on one of the city papers. He's older than I am, and he earns a good
deal of money. I'm going to learn to make pictures for papers, too.
Some day I'll have as good a position as my cousin has."
Quang Po looked puzzled. He did not understand. He always thought
American pictures strange. They were not made as Chinese pictures
But Quang Po knew that once he had thought other American things
strange, too. Some Americans believed in teaching Chinese girls
wonderful stories and words from a wonderful Book. When Quang Po's
niece had been taught first by such an American, great was Quang's
wrath. To increase his indignation, another thing happened. He had
burnt incense at the stone in the middle of the fishing-village, in
order to find out what day would be most lucky to go fishing, and had
found that according to the stone the twenty-second day of the month
would be the most lucky day. He had therefore gone fishing on the
twenty-second, and he had come back sulky, having caught almost
nothing. Then Quang Po's niece had actually laughed at the ill-
fortune of her uncle, and had openly expressed her unbelief in the
village stone! Quang Po had been very angry for many days, but there
came a time when Quang Po's niece induced him to go with her to the
little mission school on the hill-side, and there Quang Po heard that
for which his soul thirsted. He saw the picture of the Crucified. He
understood the story, and he, like his niece, lost faith in the
village stone and in the incense-shelves. Quang Po yielded his will
and his life to Christ, and the Christian religion seemed strange to
him no longer.
So, when this Chinaman handed back the drawing to Jo, Quang Po
smiled and said the kindest thing he could think of, although the
drawing did not accord with his Chinese ideas of art.
"You draw like Melican," said Quang Po, winding his queue about his
head, and preparing to return to work.
Jo felt somewhat ashamed. He wished that he and the other boys had
not cut the sinkers off Quang Po's big net. Perhaps Quang Po did not
know that Jo had taken part in that mischief, but the thought of it
made Jo uncomfortable. So did the remembrance that he and the other
boys had slyly at night cut the line that held the flounders high in
air above the village street. The flounders now were safely stretched
aloft again, but the last time Jo remembered seeing them they were
lying in the dust. Jo was not an ill-natured lad, but he had not
objected to helping do the mischief. And now Quang Po had spoken
kindly of Jo's drawing! Jo winced a little. He was rather proud of his
ability as an artist, himself. He turned his attention, to the flaming
yellow pair of trousers worn by a small Chinese boy among the numerous
Chinese children in the street below. The brilliant color made the
little fellow most conspicuous as he toddled here and there. In
watching him, Jo tried to forget his own self-reproach.
So far did he succeed in forgetting it that, that evening, when
Louis Rouse, one of the other boys whose parents were staying at the
resort during the summer vacation, proposed going over to the Chinese
village, Jo did not object, though he knew that the purpose of going
was to have some "fun," as Louis called it.
"Was the line of flounders up?" asked Louis gleefully, as the boys
went over the fields in the dusk. "Let's cut it again! And, say,
let's just tip over one of those frames for drying fish in the field
back of the village. We can do it carefully, so they won't hear."
Chuckling softly and speaking in whispers only, the boys crept
about the fishing-village and did the mischief planned. They pretended
that the Chinese village was a fort of enemies, and the boys were a
band of soldiers reconnoitering in the dark. They became quite
excited over the idea. Doing mischief seemed so much more glorious
than it would if they had allowed themselves to think that they were
really American boys doing a contemptible thing to quiet, peaceable
Just as the boys had quietly tipped over one of the fish-frames,
letting the partially dried fish slide to the ground, there were
shouts in the dark of the Chinese village.
"The enemy's coming, boys!" whispered Louis, and the lads rushed
for the fence.
Some boys caught their feet in the big, spread-out net, and fell,
and rolled over, shaking with laughter. Others stuck between the
barbed wires of the fence, but all were outside, running across the
fields, before the Chinese had sallied out toward their frames. Some
distance from the fishing village, the boys dropped breathless behind
the large rocks near the sea, and laughed softly together. Jo laughed
with the others, though he said, "I sha'n't dare go near the village
for a week, till my hand gets well. The barbed wire gave me some
pretty deep scratches on the back of one hand, and the Chinamen might
guess how I got the marks."
"I've got one on my forehead, I guess," answered Louis, laughing.
"It feels so, anyway, and I guess it's bleeding."
The boys went home. Jo was silent on the way.
"I'm tired, laughing so much," he explained to the rest.
He could not help remembering how kind Quang Po's voice had sounded
when he said, "You draw like Melican."
During the next week Jo stayed away from the fishing village. The
scratches on his hand and on his cheek were all too plainly visible.
He occupied his vacation-time in rambling in other places besides the
One morning, in his rambles, he went to what had once been an old
adobe dwelling. It was on a hill, quite a distance outside the town,
and was not often visited by any one. The old adobe had long ago lost
its tile roof, some of the walls had fallen, its former Spanish
inhabitants had long since disappeared, and quick-motioned, small
lizards now and then ran over the thick, ruined walls that stood,
dark and crumbling, against the light-brown of the wild oats on the
Jo climbed on top of one of the higher adobe walls. It still
retained its Spanish thickness, being about five feet through,
although crumbling at the sides and somewhat uncertain as to
"Must have taken a lot of clay to make it," thought Jo.
Just then a little lizard, that had been sunning itself in a niche
in the adobe wall, started, disturbed by Jo's proximity, and ran
swiftly over to another part of the wall. Jo was anxious to see where
the creature went. The boy jumped over a broken place in the wall, and
walked on its top, regardless of the fact that the adobe was
"Guess it's gone where I can't see it," said Jo to himself. "This
is a nice sunny place for a lizard. I--"
Jo had stepped a little too far. There was a sudden trembling of
the wall. Jo caught at the adobe, which came away in handfuls, and he
fell with a large portion of the old wall.
The next thing he knew, he was lying, choked with dust, on what was
once the floor of the old Spanish dwelling. He was overtopped by a
heavy pile of debris, from under which he struggled in vain to
extricate himself. He had one free hand, with which, when he found
that other exertions did not avail, he tried to dig himself out; but
the more he dug, the more the great pile of adobe above him slid down
on his face, till he was in such imminent danger of being smothered
that he was forced to desist.
It was almost all he could do to breathe with such a weight upon
him, but after a few moments' rest he tried to shout for help. His
shouts were not very loud, and soon he had to stop. He lay breathing
heavily and looking up at the pile of dull earth.
"I wish," he panted, "I hadn't--come here."
He fervently hoped that some sight-seer like himself might be
attracted to the old, out-of-the-way adobe, for Jo was now convinced
that it was impossible for him to set himself free. He tried again
and again, but always with the same result of semi-suffocation under
the sliding debris.
The forenoon passed away. The sun, mounting higher, shone over the
dilapidated walls, and fell full on Jo's face. He shielded his eyes
with his free hand. The sun beat heavily on his head. Sometimes he
thought he heard a rustle in the wild oats, and he cried out for
help, but he afterward concluded the sound had been made by the wind
or by some lizard.
Gradually the shade began to lengthen in the adobe. Jo looked
wistfully at the shadow of the wall as it stretched a little farther
toward him, and he sighed with relief when at length the sun that had
made his head so hot was guarded from his face by the shadow that
reached him. He had lain here a number of hours, and now, as he began
to think about evening, he wondered what his father and mother would
do when he did not come home. If they had not worried about him during
the day, they would be alarmed at night.
"There are some coyotes around the neighborhood," thought Jo.
He knew that a number of poultry-yards had suffered from coyotes.
Jo did not suppose that a coyote would usually attack a person.
Chickens, lambs, young pigs, were a coyote's prey, but in Jo's
present situation he did not care to be visited by a coyote.
"I could throw clods at him," thought Jo. "I hope that would scare
As the sun sank, Jo shouted repeatedly, till his breath was gone.
He hoped that some laborer might take his homeward way across the
unfrequented hill. But the prospect of such relief seemed very
slight, so unused was this place to visitors. Jo saw a wild bird fly
far overhead in the glow of the evening sky. The bird could go home,
but he could not. He could only wait--how long?
After a while, there was the sound of clumsy feet that jolted by
the adobe. Jo heard.
"Come here!" he cried with all his strength. "Come here! Come
The clumsy feet stopped. There was a creaking sound, as of baskets
swung to the ground. A face peered through a break in the wall, and
Quang Po climbed into the adobe.
"Ho'lah!" he said.
"Ho'lah!" faintly responded Jo.
Quang Po wasted no more words, but set to work. He had not much to
dig with, save his tough, yellow hands and a stick, but after nearly
an hour's exertion, he released Jo.
"You' bones bloke?" asked Quang anxiously.
"No," responded Jo, wincing. "My arm hurts, but I guess it's only a
"Me cally fish to lady," explained Quang. "Me go closs hill to
lady's house. Hear you holler."
Jo tried to stand, but found himself dizzy and faint, and Quang Po,
leaving his baskets, went home with the lad.
Next day, Quang Po, going his rounds, was carrying his fish-baskets
past Jo's house. Jo, sitting on the steps, his arm in a bandage, made
a sign to Quang to stop.
"My mother wants to buy some fish of you," Jo said.
The fish were bought, and Quang was thanked by Jo's mother for
helping her boy. Quang went back to his baskets again, but Jo
"Quang Po," he said, choking a little, "you very good to me."
Quang Po smiled.
"Quang," confessed Jo, "I helped the other boys cut the sinkers
from your big net, once."
"Me sabe," (understand) he answered, "me sabe long time ago."
"I helped the other boys cut the line that held up your flounders,"
faltered Jo. "I helped tip over the fish-frame."
Quang Po nodded.
"Me t'ink so," he said.
"What for you good to me?" demanded Jo.
"Me Clistian," responded Quang Po with gravity, as if that one word
explained everything. "Clistian must do lite."
Jo looked at him. Quang lifted his heavy baskets on his pole.
"Goo' by," he said.
"Say--Quang Po," burst out Jo, "I'm sorry! I won't bother you any
more! I won't let the other boys do it, either! I can stop it."
Quang Po smiled.
"Me glad you solly," he said. "We be good flends, now." And he
trotted away, the heavy baskets creaking.
Jo looked after him.
"And I thought you were the heathen!" he whispered.
THE NEW IGLOO.
The sky was lowering. The small storm-"igloo," or round-topped snow
house, was full of Eskimo dogs that had crowded in to shelter
themselves from the bitter wind. This small igloo was built in front
of the door of a bigger round igloo in which an Eskimo family lived.
The dogs' small igloo was built where it was, to keep the wind and
the cold from coming in at the family's igloo door.
Over the snowy ground a boy, clad in a reindeer coat, came running.
His brown cheeks were flushed, and his black eyes were bright with
excitement. His lips curved and parted over his white teeth as he
chuckled happily to himself about something. He rushed to the very
low door of his home, dropped down on his hands and knees, put some
slender thing between his teeth, pulled the hood of the reindeer coat
up over his head so as to keep the snow from slipping down the back of
his neck, and then scrambled quickly through the low opening, pushing
aside the dogs, till he reached the interior of the larger igloo. Then
the boy jumped up and snatched the thing he had held in his mouth.
"Oh, see, see!" he cried, holding up his treasure. "See what the
teacher gave me!"
What he held was the half of a lead pencil, a rarity to him, given
to him now as a prize at school.
"And see!" cried the excited lad once more.
He pulled from his reindeer coat a piece of paper. The paper was
part of his prize, too. He made some rude marks on the paper with his
pencil, and held them where they were visible by the light of the
small stone lamp, shaped like a huge clam shell, and burning with
walrus oil. The lad's face was illumined with enthusiasm. Never before
had he owned such treasures. To think they were his own! He had earned
them by good behavior, and diligent, though extremely slow, attempts
at learning. A sarcastic laugh came from one side of the platform of
snow, that was built around the whole circular interior of the igloo.
On the platform lounged the lad's brother, Tanana. "You went without
your breakfast yesterday, and ran to school, and now you come back
with those things!" laughed Tanana. "You are a dog of the teacher's
team, Anvik! He can drive you."
Anvik's black eyes snapped.
"He does not drive me!" cried the boy. "He teaches me to want to
learn! I have gone to school many days. I want to learn, to learn! I
can make A and B. See!"
He pushed his paper with its awkwardly formed letters farther into
the lamp's light. The edge of the precious paper took fire, and with
a cry of alarm, Anvik smothered his paper in the snow.
His brother laughed again.
"To-morrow will be another day," he said. "Why should anybody learn
But the mother of the two lads stretched out her hand, and took the
paper, and looked at the straggling marks. The fat baby, that she
carried in the hood of her reindeer suit, crowed over her shoulder at
the piece of paper, and Anvik forgot to be angry. He put his pencil in
his mother's hand. She looked curiously at the strange new thing.
"You make A, too, mother," urged the boy; and, putting his hand on
his mother's, he tried to show her how to make the strange marks.
His mother did little more than touch the paper with the pencil.
She smiled at the tiny dark line she had made, and gave back the
pencil and paper to the boy. She was proud of him, proud that the
strange white man should have thought her boy good enough to give him
such queer things. Anvik saw her pride, and felt comforted.
"To-morrow will be another day," murmured Tanana from his lounging
place. "The teacher is wrong. He makes that loud sound when school
begins. The wise man says the teacher must not make that sound any
more, for it will prevent our people from catching foxes and seals."
"It is the school-bell," answered Anvik, knowing that the Eskimo
sorcerer had gone to the teacher but a few days previous, to prophesy
evil concerning the ringing of the bell. "The foxes and the seals care
not for it. Go to school with me, Tanana, to-morrow. The teacher wants
Tanana did not answer. He drew a bottle from out of his skin suit
and drank. Anvik looked at his mother. The odor of the liquor spread
through the small round house. Anvik had not noticed the odor when he
came in, being then too excited over his prize to have room in his
head for any other idea. But now he felt a great sadness of soul.
Tanana and their father were both beginning to learn to drink. The
sailors who came to the shore had liquor with them sometimes, and
traded it to the natives.
The teacher at school had told the boys never to touch the sailors'
liquor. The teacher said it would steal the boys' souls. Anvik did
not understand that very well, but he knew liquor made Tanana and
their father cross and lazy, and the laziness kept them poor, and the
mother was sad.
Anvik lay long awake that night, on the raised platform of snow in
the igloo, and thought.
"My teacher said he heard that at one Eskimo village a canoe came
with whisky and the Eskimos pounded on a drum all night, and
shouted," thought the lad. "When the morning came, the people were
ashamed to look in the face of their teacher. My teacher said I must
pray the dear Lord Christ to save Tanana and my father from
And Anvik prayed in the dark igloo.
The next day came, and Anvik went again to school, but Tanana and
the father went off to look at the ice-traps wherein Eskimos catch
any stray wolves or foxes.
When Anvik came back at night to the igloo, he met his father and
Tanana rejoicing over a bear cub that they had killed. They were
bringing it home with them, and were laughing, and shouting, and
singing, not so much from joy as from drinking together from the
bottle that Tanana had procured.
"We have a bear cub, a bear cub!" shouted Tanana in maudlin tones
to his brother. "See how strong the hot water we drink makes us! We
come home with a bear cub! Hot water, let us drink hot water!"
Now by "hot water" Tanana meant of course the liquor in his bottle,
and when Anvik saw the young bear and the condition his father and
brother were in, the lad immediately became very anxious, for the
Eskimos are usually very careful not to kill a young bear without
having first killed its mother. It is considered a very rash thing to
kill the cub first, and when men who are pressed by hunger do it, they
are obliged to exercise the strictest precaution lest they should be
attacked by the mother-bear, for she will surely follow on the track
of the men.
So the Eskimos usually go in a straight line for about five or six
miles, and then suddenly turn off at a right angle, so that the
mother-bear, as she presses eagerly forward, may overrun the hunters'
track and lose her way. The men go on a distance, and then turn as
After doing this several times, the men dare to go home, but even
there weapons are placed ready for use by the bedside, and outside
the house sledges are put up right, for the bear is always suspicious
of the erect sledge, and she will knock it dawn before she will attack
the igloo. The knocking down of the sledge makes a noise that gives
warning to the family.
But when Anvik saw the condition that his father and brother were
in, he was greatly frightened, for he did not believe that the liquor
had left enough sense in their minds so that they had remembered to
turn off in the homeward journey, and, if they had come home without
covering their track, there could be no doubt that the mother bear
would come to attack the igloo that very night.
But it would do no good to say anything to Tanana and his father.
They were far too much under the influence of what they had been
drinking. Anvik told his mother his suspicions.
"We will set up the sledge outside the igloo," said his mother,
"I will have my harpoon ready," answered Anvik bravely. "Do not
fear, mother. Perhaps the bear will not come."
They put two harpoons and a spear beside the raised platform of
snow in the igloo, after the father and older son were stupidly
Then came an anxious time of waiting. The stone lamp's light grew
more and more dim to Anvik's drowsy eyes, as he, too, lay on one side
of the circular platform. Nothing disturbed his father and brother in
their heavy, liquor-made sleep. Anvik's eyes closed at last, even
while he was determined to keep awake. His mother, tired with scraping
and pounding skins, nestled her chubby baby in her neck, and dropped
asleep; too, after long watching. The igloo was quiet, except for the
A terrible noise arose outdoors. Anvik started into consciousness.
There was an uproar of dogs, awakened by the destroying of their
small igloo. The sledge fell. The family igloo seemed to shake
throughout the entire circle of hard snow blocks. The dome-shaped hut
quaked under the attack of some foe.
"Father! Father, wake up!" screamed Anvik, springing to his feet.
"The bear! The bear has come! Father! Tanana!"
He rushed to their side and shook them, but he could not rouse
"Wake up! Wake up!" screamed Anvik.
His mother caught one harpoon. Anvik seized another. The great paws
were digging into the igloo! The dogs had attacked the bear, but she
fought them off, killing some with the powerful blows of her claws.
"Be ready, Anvik!" warned his mother.
The side of the igloo gave way! A dreadful struggle followed. There
was a chorus of barks and growls and screams. The bear fought
desperately. The struggle and the falling snow partially wakened the
father and son, but they were stupidly useless. The dogs attacked the
bear's back. Anvik, watching his chance while the bear was repelling
the dogs, drove a harpoon into the animal. The bear savagely thrust at
the lad, but the dogs leaped up and Anvik's mother drove her harpoon
into the enemy. As well as he could in the darkness, Anvik chose his
opportunity, and as he had seen older Eskimos do, skillfully avoided
the attacks the bear strove to make upon him, till at last he managed
to drive the sharp spear to the animal's heart.
All was over at last. The shrieks, the growls ceased, and the dead
bear lay among the ruins of the igloo.
The next day Anvik stayed away from school to help build a new
igloo. His father and Tanana did not talk much, from the time when
they laid the blocks of extremely hard snow in a circle till the time
when the inwardly-slanting snow walls had risen to the topmost
horizontal block that joined the walls. But, once during the
building, when the three workers had taken great flat shovels, made
of strips of bone lashed together, and were throwing loose snow
against the sides of the new igloo to protect its future inhabitants
from the cold, the father stopped, and turning to Tanana said:
"My heart is ashamed! The hot water made us forget to hide the way
to the igloo, and when the bear came to kill my wife and children,
the hot water made us sleep. My heart is ashamed."
And Tanana, keenly humiliated that his younger brother and not
himself had killed the bear, answered, "My heart is ashamed, also."
"The hot water bottle shall not come to my mouth again," resolved
the father, with determination.
And Tanana promised the same. The bottle had been broken in the
scuffle, but Tanana knew his father's and his own promise included
any other bottle of liquor.
"You shall go to the teacher's school with Anvik," decided the
father. "The teacher speaks well when he tells the boys that the hot
water will steal their souls. If Anvik had drank it, we should all
have been killed."
Anvik jumped up from chinking a crack between two snow blocks. He
remembered his prayer, and he laughed aloud now with joy for the
"The new igloo is better than the old!" he cried. "The hot water
will never go in at the door of our new igloo!"
And in his heart the boy added, "May the dear Lord Christ come into
our new home!"