“He was travelling with him, and heard the lepers call, and saw them go away well. First there was one man; then there were ten; and they were all made whole.”
The elder listener was silent again. The skeleton hand shook. We may believe she was struggling to give the story the sanction of faith, which is always an absolutist in demand, and that it was with her as with the men of the day, eye-witnesses of what was done by the Christ, as well as the myriads who have succeeded them. She did not question the performance, for her own son was the witness testifying through the servant; but she strove to comprehend the power by which work so astonishing could be done by a man. Well enough to make inquiry as to the fact; to comprehend the power, on the other hand, it is first necessary to comprehend God; and he who waits for that will die waiting. With her, however, the hesitation was brief. To Tirzah she said- “This must be the Messiah!”
She spoke not coldly, like one reasoning a doubt away, but as a woman of Israel familiar with the promises of God to her race- a woman of understanding, ready to be glad over the least sign of the realization of the promises.
“There was a time when Jerusalem and all Judea were filled with a story that he was born. I remember it. By this time he should be a man. It must be- it is he. Yes,” she said to Amrah, “we will go with you. Bring the water which you will find in the tomb in a jar, and set the food for us. We will eat and be gone.”
The breakfast, partaken under excitement, was soon despatched, and the three women set out on their extraordinary journey. As Tirzah had caught the confident spirit of the others, there was but one fear that troubled the party. Bethany, Amrah said, was the town the man was coming from; now from that to Jerusalem there were three roads, or rather paths- one over the first summit of Olivet, a second at its base, a third between the second summit and the Mount of Offence. The three were not far apart; far enough, however, to make it possible for the unfortunates to miss the Nazarene if they failed the one he chose to come by.
A little questioning satisfied the mother that Amrah knew nothing of the country beyond the Cedron, and even less of the intentions of the man they were going to see, if they could. She discerned, also, that both Amrah and Tirzah- the one from confirmed habits of servitude, the other from natural dependence- looked to her for guidance; and she accepted the charge.
“We will go first to Bethphage,” she said to them. “There, if the Lord favour us, we may learn what else to do.”
They descended the hill to Tophet and the King’s Garden, and paused in the deep trail furrowed through them by centuries of wayfaring.