By a simultaneous impulse the three joined hands.
“Could anything be more divinely ordered?” Balthasar continued. “When we have found the Lord, the brothers, and all the generations that have succeeded them, will kneel to Him in homage with us. And when we part to go our separate ways, the world will have learned a new lesson- that Heaven may be won, not by the sword, not by human wisdom, but by Faith, Love, and Good Works.”
There was silence, broken by sighs and sanctified with tears; for the joy that filled them might not be stayed. It was the unspeakable joy of souls on the shores of the River of Life, resting with the Redeemed in God’s presence.
Presently their hands fell apart, and together they went out of the tent. The desert was still as the sky. The sun was sinking fast. The camels slept.
A little while after, the tent was struck, and, with the remains of the repast, restored to the cot; then the friends mounted, and set out single file, led by the Egyptian. Their course was due west, into the chilly night. The camels swung forward in steady trot, keeping the line and the intervals so exactly that those following seemed to tread in the tracks of the leader. The riders spoke not once.
By-and-by the moon came up. And as the three tall, white figures sped, with soundless tread, through the opalescent light, they appeared like spectres flying from hateful shadows. Suddenly, in the air before them, not farther up than a low hill-top, flared a lambent flame; as they looked at it, the apparition contracted into a focus of dazzling lustre. Their hearts beat fast; their souls thrilled; and they shouted as with one voice, “The Star! the Star! God is with us!”
THE JOPPA GATE.
IN an aperture of the western wall of Jerusalem hang the “oaken valves” called the Bethlehem or Joppa Gate. The area outside of them is one of the notable places of the city. Long before David coveted Zion, there was a citadel there. When at last the son of Jesse ousted the Jebusite, and began to build, the site of the citadel became the northwest corner of his new wall, defended by a tower much more imposing than the old one. The location of the gate, however, was not disturbed, for the reasons, most likely, that the roads which met and merged in front of it could not well be transferred to any other point, while the area outside had become a recognized market-place. In Solomon’s day there was great traffic at the locality, shared in by traders from Egypt, and the rich dealers from Tyre and Sidon. Nearly three thousand years have passed, and yet a kind of commerce clings to the spot. A pilgrim wanting a pin or a pistol, a cucumber or a camel, a house or a horse, a loan or a lentil, a date or a dragoman, a melon or a man, a dove or a donkey, has only to inquire for the article at the Joppa Gate. Sometimes the scene is quite animated, and then it suggests, What a place the old market must have been in the days of Herod the Builder! And to that period and that market the reader is now to be transferred.