“I am afraid of the road,” the matron said. “Better that we keep to the country among the rocks and trees. This is feast-day, and on the hill-sides yonder I see signs of a great multitude in attendance. By going across the Mount of Offence here we may avoid them.”
Tirzah had been walking with great difficulty; upon hearing this her heart began to fail her.
“The mount is steep, mother! I cannot climb it.”
“Remember, we are going to find health and life. See, my child, how the day brightens around us! And yonder are women coming this way to the well. They will stone us if we stay here. Come, be strong this once.”
Thus the mother, not less tortured herself, sought to inspire the daughter; and Amrah came to her aid. To this time the latter had not touched the persons of the afflicted, nor they her; now, in disregard of consequences as well as of command, the faithful creature went to Tirzah, and put her arm over her shoulder, and whispered, “Lean on me. I am strong, though I am old; and it is but a little way off. There- now we can go.”
The face of the hill they essayed to cross was somewhat broken with pits, and ruins of old structures; but when at last they stood upon the top to rest, and looked at the spectacle presented them over in the north-west- at the Temple and its courtly terraces, at Zion, at the enduring towers white beetling into the sky beyond- the mother was strengthened with a love of life for life’s sake.
“Look, Tirzah,” she said- “look at the plates of gold on the Gate Beautiful. How they give back the flames of the sun, brightness for brightness! Do you remember we used to go up there? Will it not be pleasant to do so again? And think- home is but a little way off. I can almost see it over the roof of the Holy of Holies; and Judah will be there to receive us!”
From the side of the middle summit, garnished green with myrtle and olive trees, they saw, upon looking that way next, thin columns of smoke rising lightly and straight up into the pulseless morning, each a warning of restless pilgrims astir, and of the flight of the pitiless hours, and the need of haste.
Though the good servant toiled faithfully to lighten the labour in descending the hill-side, not sparing herself in the least, the girl moaned at every step; sometimes in extremity of anguish she cried out. Upon reaching the road- that is, the road between the Mount of Offence and the middle or second summit of Olivet- she fell down exhausted.
“Go on with Amrah, mother, and leave me here,” she said, faintly.
“No, no, Tirzah. What would the gain be to me if I were healed and you not? When Judah asks for you, as he will, what would I have to say to him were I to leave you?”