The same thought was in the elder’s mind.
“Amrah,” she asked, “when Judah spoke of the healing of the ten, in what words did he say they called to the Nazarene?”
“Either they said, ‘Lord, have mercy upon us,’ or ‘Master, have mercy.'”
“No more that I heard.”
“Yet it was enough,” the mother added, to herself.
“Yes,” said Amrah, “Judah said he saw them go away well.”
Meantime the people in the east came up slowly. When at length the foremost of them were in sight, the gaze of the lepers fixed upon a man riding in the midst of what seemed a chosen company which sang and danced about him in extravagance of joy. The rider was bareheaded and clad all in white. When he was in distance to be more clearly observed, these, looking anxiously, saw an olive-hued face shaded by long chestnut hair slightly sunburned and parted in the middle. He looked neither to the right nor left. In the noisy abandon of his followers he appeared to have no part; nor did their favour disturb him in the least, or raise him out of the profound melancholy into which, as his countenance showed, he was plunged. The sun beat upon the back of his head, and lighting up the floating hair gave it a delicate likeness to a golden nimbus. Behind him the irregular procession, pouring forward with continuous singing and shouting, extended out of view. There was no need of any one to tell the lepers that this was he- the wonderful Nazarene! “He is here, Tirzah,” the mother said; “he is here. Come, my child.”
As she spoke she glided in front of the white rock and fell upon her knees.
Directly the daughter and servant were by her side. Then at sight of the procession in the east, the thousands from the city halted, and began to wave their green branches, shouting, or rather chanting (for it was all in one voice)- “Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!”
And all the thousands who were of the rider’s company, both those near and those afar, replied so the air shook with the sound, which was as a great wind threshing the side of the hill. Amidst the din, the cries of the poor lepers were not more than the twittering of dazed sparrows.
The moment of the meeting of the hosts was come, and with it the opportunity the sufferers were seeking; if not taken, it would be lost for ever, and they would be lost as well.
“Nearer, my child- let us get nearer. He cannot hear us,” said the mother.
She arose, and staggered forward. Her ghastly hands were up, and she screamed with horrible shrillness. The people saw her- saw her hideous face, and stopped awe-struck- an effect for which extreme human misery, visible as in this instance, is as potent as majesty in purple and gold. Tirzah, behind her a little way, fell down too faint and frightened to follow farther.