“And you still think I should not suffer him to go away without telling him to come, if he chooses, and take us- and all we have- all, Esther- the goods, the shekels, the ships, the slaves, and the mighty credit, which is a mantle of cloth of gold and finest silver spun for me by the greatest of the angels of men- Success.”
She made no answer.
“Does that move you nothing? No?” he said, with the slightest taint of bitterness. “Well, well, I have found, Esther, the worst reality is never unendurable when it comes out from behind the clouds through which we at first see it darkly- never- not even the rack. I suppose it will be so with death. And by that philosophy the slavery to which we are going must afterwhile become sweet. It pleases me even now to think what a favoured man our master is. The fortune cost him nothing- not an anxiety, not a drop of sweat not so much as a thought; it attaches to him undreamed of, and in his youth. And, Esther, let me waste a little vanity with the reflection; he gets what he could not go into the market and buy with all the pelf in a sum- thee, my child, my darling; thou blossom from the tomb of my lost Rachel!”
He drew her to him, and kissed her twice- once for herself, once for her mother.
“Say not so,” she said, when his hand fell from her neck. “Let us think better of him; he knows what sorrow is, and will set us free.”
“Ah, thy instincts are fine, Esther; and thou knowest I lean upon them in doubtful cases where good or bad is to be pronounced of a person standing before thee as he stood this morning. But- but”- his voice rose and hardened- “these limbs upon which I cannot stand- this body drawn and beaten out of human shape- they are not all I bring him of myself. Oh no, no! I bring him a soul which has triumphed over torture and Roman malice keener than any torture- I bring him a mind which has eyes to see gold at a distance farther than the ships of Solomon sailed, and power to bring it to hand- aye, Esther, into my palm here for the fingers to grip and keep lest it take wings at some other’s word- a mind skilled at scheming”- he stopped and laughed.- “Why, Esther, before the new moon, which in the courts of the Temple on the Holy Hill they are this moment celebrating, passes into its next quartering I could ring the world so as to startle even Caesar; for know you, child, I have that faculty which is better than any one sense, better than a perfect body, better than courage and will, better than experience, ordinarily the best product of the longest lives- the faculty divinest of men, but which”- he stopped, and laughed again, not bitterly, but with real zest- “but which even the great do not sufficiently account, while with the herd it is a non-existent- the faculty of drawing men to my purpose and holding them faithfully to its achievement, by which, as against things to be done, I multiply myself into hundreds and thousands. So the captains of my ships plough the seas, and bring me honest returns; so Malluch follows the youth, our master, and will”- just then a footstep was heard upon the terrace- “Ha, Esther! said I not so?- He is here- and we will have tidings. For my sake, sweet child- my lily just budded- I pray the Lord God, who has not forgotten his wandering sheep of Israel, that they be good and comforting. Now we will know if he will let thee go with all thy beauty, and me with all my faculties.”