The stranger moved on.
“Did you hear, Tirzah? Did you hear? The Nazarene is on the road, on this one, and he will hear us. Once more, my child- oh, only once! and let us to the rock. It is but a step.”
Thus encouraged, Tirzah took Amrah’s hand and arose; but as they were going, Amrah said, “Stay; the man is returning.” And they waited for him.
“I pray your grace, woman,” he said, upon overtaking them. “Remembering that the sun will be hot before the Nazarene arrives, and that the city is near by to give me refreshment should I need it, I thought this water would do thee better than it will me. Take it and be of good cheer. Call to him as he passes.”
He followed the words by offering her a gourd full of water, such as foot-travellers sometimes carried with them in their journeys across the hills; and instead of placing the gift on the ground for her to take up when he was at a safe distance, he gave it into her hand.
“Art thou a Jew?” she asked, surprised.
“I am that, and better; I am a disciple of the Christ who teacheth daily by word and example this thing which I have done unto you. The world hath long known the word charity without understanding it. Again I say, peace and good cheer to thee and thine.”
He went on, and they went slowly to the rock he had pointed out to them, high as their heads, and scarcely thirty yards from the road on the right. Standing in front of it, the mother satisfied herself they could be seen and heard plainly by passers-by whose notice they desired to attract. There they cast themselves under the tree in its shade, and drank of the gourd, and rested refreshed. Ere long Tirzah slept, and fearing to disturb her, the others held their peace.
DURING the third hour the road in front of the resting-place of the lepers became gradually more and more frequented by people going in the direction of Bethphage and Bethany; now, however, about the commencement of the fourth hour, a great crowd appeared over the crest of Olivet, and as it defiled down the road thousands in number, the two watchers noticed with wonder that every one in it carried a palm-branch freshly cut. As they sat absorbed by the novelty, the noise of another multitude approaching from the east drew their eyes that way. Then the mother awoke Tirzah.
“What is the meaning of it all?” the latter asked.
“He is coming,” answered the mother. “These we see are from the city going to meet him; those we hear in the east are his friends bearing him company; and it will not be strange if the processions meet here before us.”
“I fear, if they do, we cannot be heard.”