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    Chapter 47

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    Chapter 48
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    We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough,
    but is given over wholly to weeds--a silent, mournful expanse, wherein we
    saw only three persons--Arabs, with nothing on but a long coarse shirt
    like the "tow-linen" shirts which used to form the only summer garment of
    little negro boys on Southern plantations. Shepherds they were, and they
    charmed their flocks with the traditional shepherd's pipe--a reed
    instrument that made music as exquisitely infernal as these same Arabs
    create when they sing.

    In their pipes lingered no echo of the wonderful music the shepherd
    forefathers heard in the Plains of Bethlehem what time the angels sang
    "Peace on earth, good will to men."

    Part of the ground we came over was not ground at all, but
    rocks--cream-colored rocks, worn smooth, as if by water; with seldom an
    edge or a corner on them, but scooped out, honey-combed, bored out with
    eye-holes, and thus wrought into all manner of quaint shapes, among
    which the uncouth imitation of skulls was frequent. Over this part of
    the route were occasional remains of an old Roman road like the Appian
    Way, whose paving-stones still clung to their places with Roman
    tenacity.

    Gray lizards, those heirs of ruin, of sepulchres and desolation, glided
    in and out among the rocks or lay still and sunned themselves. Where
    prosperity has reigned, and fallen; where glory has flamed, and gone out;
    where beauty has dwelt, and passed away; where gladness was, and sorrow
    is; where the pomp of life has been, and silence and death brood in its
    high places, there this reptile makes his home, and mocks at human
    vanity. His coat is the color of ashes: and ashes are the symbol of
    hopes that have perished, of aspirations that came to nought, of loves
    that are buried. If he could speak, he would say, Build temples: I will
    lord it in their ruins; build palaces: I will inhabit them; erect
    empires: I will inherit them; bury your beautiful: I will watch the worms
    at their work; and you, who stand here and moralize over me: I will crawl
    over your corpse at the last.

    A few ants were in this desert place, but merely to spend the summer.
    They brought their provisions from Ain Mellahah--eleven miles.

    Jack is not very well to-day, it is easy to see; but boy as he is, he is
    too much of a man to speak of it. He exposed himself to the sun too much
    yesterday, but since it came of his earnest desire to learn, and to make
    this journey as useful as the opportunities will allow, no one seeks to
    discourage him by fault-finding. We missed him an hour from the camp,
    and then found him some distance away, by the edge of a brook, and with
    no umbrella to protect him from the fierce sun. If he had been used to
    going without his umbrella, it would have been well enough, of course;
    but he was not. He was just in the act of throwing a clod at a
    mud-turtle which was sunning itself on a small log in the brook.
    We said:

    "Don't do that, Jack. What do you want to harm him for? What has he
    done?"

    "Well, then, I won't kill him, but I ought to, because he is a fraud."

    We asked him why, but he said it was no matter. We asked him why, once
    or twice, as we walked back to the camp but he still said it was no
    matter. But late at night, when he was sitting in a thoughtful mood on
    the bed, we asked him again and he said:

    "Well, it don't matter; I don't mind it now, but I did not like it today,
    you know, because I don't tell any thing that isn't so, and I don't think
    the Colonel ought to, either. But he did; he told us at prayers in the
    Pilgrims' tent, last night, and he seemed as if he was reading it out of
    the Bible, too, about this country flowing with milk and honey, and about
    the voice of the turtle being heard in the land. I thought that was
    drawing it a little strong, about the turtles, any how, but I asked Mr.
    Church if it was so, and he said it was, and what Mr. Church tells me, I
    believe. But I sat there and watched that turtle nearly an hour today,
    and I almost burned up in the sun; but I never heard him sing. I believe
    I sweated a double handful of sweat---I know I did--because it got in my
    eyes, and it was running down over my nose all the time; and you know my
    pants are tighter than any body else's--Paris foolishness--and the
    buckskin seat of them got wet with sweat, and then got dry again and
    began to draw up and pinch and tear loose--it was awful--but I never
    heard him sing. Finally I said, This is a fraud--that is what it is, it
    is a fraud--and if I had had any sense I might have known a cursed
    mud-turtle couldn't sing. And then I said, I don't wish to be hard on
    this fellow, and I will just give him ten minutes to commence; ten
    minutes--and then if he don't, down goes his building. But he didn't
    commence, you know. I had staid there all that time, thinking may be he
    might, pretty soon, because he kept on raising his head up and letting
    it down, and drawing the skin over his eyes for a minute and then
    opening them out again, as if he was trying to study up something to
    sing, but just as the ten minutes were up and I was all beat out and
    blistered, he laid his blamed head down on a knot and went fast asleep."

    "It was a little hard, after you had waited so long."

    "I should think so. I said, Well, if you won't sing, you shan't sleep,
    any way; and if you fellows had let me alone I would have made him shin
    out of Galilee quicker than any turtle ever did yet. But it isn't any
    matter now--let it go. The skin is all off the back of my neck."

    About ten in the morning we halted at Joseph's Pit. This is a ruined
    Khan of the Middle Ages, in one of whose side courts is a great walled
    and arched pit with water in it, and this pit, one tradition says, is the
    one Joseph's brethren cast him into. A more authentic tradition, aided
    by the geography of the country, places the pit in Dothan, some two days'
    journey from here. However, since there are many who believe in this
    present pit as the true one, it has its interest.

    It is hard to make a choice of the most beautiful passage in a book which
    is so gemmed with beautiful passages as the Bible; but it is certain that
    not many things within its lids may take rank above the exquisite story
    of Joseph. Who taught those ancient writers their simplicity of
    language, their felicity of expression, their pathos, and above all,
    their faculty of sinking themselves entirely out of sight of the reader
    and making the narrative stand out alone and seem to tell itself?
    Shakspeare is always present when one reads his book; Macaulay is present
    when we follow the march of his stately sentences; but the Old Testament
    writers are hidden from view.

    If the pit I have been speaking of is the right one, a scene transpired
    there, long ages ago, which is familiar to us all in pictures. The sons
    of Jacob had been pasturing their flocks near there. Their father grew
    uneasy at their long absence, and sent Joseph, his favorite, to see if
    any thing had gone wrong with them. He traveled six or seven days'
    journey; he was only seventeen years old, and, boy like, he toiled
    through that long stretch of the vilest, rockiest, dustiest country in
    Asia, arrayed in the pride of his heart, his beautiful claw-hammer coat
    of many colors. Joseph was the favorite, and that was one crime in the
    eyes of his brethren; he had dreamed dreams, and interpreted them to
    foreshadow his elevation far above all his family in the far future, and
    that was another; he was dressed well and had doubtless displayed the
    harmless vanity of youth in keeping the fact prominently before his
    brothers. These were crimes his elders fretted over among themselves and
    proposed to punish when the opportunity should offer. When they saw him
    coming up from the Sea of Galilee, they recognized him and were glad.
    They said, "Lo, here is this dreamer--let us kill him." But Reuben
    pleaded for his life, and they spared it. But they seized the boy, and
    stripped the hated coat from his back and pushed him into the pit. They
    intended to let him die there, but Reuben intended to liberate him
    secretly. However, while Reuben was away for a little while, the
    brethren sold Joseph to some Ishmaelitish merchants who were journeying
    towards Egypt. Such is the history of the pit. And the self-same pit is
    there in that place, even to this day; and there it will remain until the
    next detachment of image-breakers and tomb desecraters arrives from the
    Quaker City excursion, and they will infallibly dig it up and carry it
    away with them. For behold in them is no reverence for the solemn
    monuments of the past, and whithersoever they go they destroy and spare
    not.

    Joseph became rich, distinguished, powerful--as the Bible expresses it,
    "lord over all the land of Egypt." Joseph was the real king, the
    strength, the brain of the monarchy, though Pharaoh held the title.
    Joseph is one of the truly great men of the Old Testament. And he was
    the noblest and the manliest, save Esau. Why shall we not say a good
    word for the princely Bedouin? The only crime that can be brought
    against him is that he was unfortunate. Why must every body praise
    Joseph's great-hearted generosity to his cruel brethren, without stint of
    fervent language, and fling only a reluctant bone of praise to Esau for
    his still sublimer generosity to the brother who had wronged him? Jacob
    took advantage of Esau's consuming hunger to rob him of his birthright
    and the great honor and consideration that belonged to the position; by
    treachery and falsehood he robbed him of his father's blessing; he made
    of him a stranger in his home, and a wanderer. Yet after twenty years
    had passed away and Jacob met Esau and fell at his feet quaking with fear
    and begging piteously to be spared the punishment he knew he deserved,
    what did that magnificent savage do? He fell upon his neck and embraced
    him! When Jacob--who was incapable of comprehending nobility of
    character--still doubting, still fearing, insisted upon "finding grace
    with my lord" by the bribe of a present of cattle, what did the gorgeous
    son of the desert say?

    "Nay, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself!"

    Esau found Jacob rich, beloved by wives and children, and traveling in
    state, with servants, herds of cattle and trains of camels--but he
    himself was still the uncourted outcast this brother had made him. After
    thirteen years of romantic mystery, the brethren who had wronged Joseph,
    came, strangers in a strange land, hungry and humble, to buy "a little
    food"; and being summoned to a palace, charged with crime, they beheld in
    its owner their wronged brother; they were trembling beggars--he, the
    lord of a mighty empire! What Joseph that ever lived would have thrown
    away such a chance to "show off?" Who stands first--outcast Esau
    forgiving Jacob in prosperity, or Joseph on a king's throne forgiving the
    ragged tremblers whose happy rascality placed him there?

    Just before we came to Joseph's Pit, we had "raised" a hill, and there, a
    few miles before us, with not a tree or a shrub to interrupt the view,
    lay a vision which millions of worshipers in the far lands of the earth
    would give half their possessions to see--the sacred Sea of Galilee!

    Therefore we tarried only a short time at the pit. We rested the horses
    and ourselves, and felt for a few minutes the blessed shade of the
    ancient buildings. We were out of water, but the two or three scowling
    Arabs, with their long guns, who were idling about the place, said they
    had none and that there was none in the vicinity. They knew there was a
    little brackish water in the pit, but they venerated a place made sacred
    by their ancestor's imprisonment too much to be willing to see Christian
    dogs drink from it. But Ferguson tied rags and handkerchiefs together
    till he made a rope long enough to lower a vessel to the bottom, and we
    drank and then rode on; and in a short time we dismounted on those shores
    which the feet of the Saviour have made holy ground.

    At noon we took a swim in the Sea of Galilee--a blessed privilege in this
    roasting climate--and then lunched under a neglected old fig-tree at the
    fountain they call Ain-et-Tin, a hundred yards from ruined Capernaum.
    Every rivulet that gurgles out of the rocks and sands of this part of the
    world is dubbed with the title of "fountain," and people familiar with
    the Hudson, the great lakes and the Mississippi fall into transports of
    admiration over them, and exhaust their powers of composition in writing
    their praises. If all the poetry and nonsense that have been discharged
    upon the fountains and the bland scenery of this region were collected in
    a book, it would make a most valuable volume to burn.

    During luncheon, the pilgrim enthusiasts of our party, who had been so
    light-hearted and so happy ever since they touched holy ground that they
    did little but mutter incoherent rhapsodies, could scarcely eat, so
    anxious were they to "take shipping" and sail in very person upon the
    waters that had borne the vessels of the Apostles. Their anxiety grew
    and their excitement augmented with every fleeting moment, until my fears
    were aroused and I began to have misgivings that in their present
    condition they might break recklessly loose from all considerations of
    prudence and buy a whole fleet of ships to sail in instead of hiring a
    single one for an hour, as quiet folk are wont to do. I trembled to
    think of the ruined purses this day's performances might result in.
    I could not help reflecting bodingly upon the intemperate zeal with which
    middle-aged men are apt to surfeit themselves upon a seductive folly
    which they have tasted for the first time. And yet I did not feel that
    I had a right to be surprised at the state of things which was giving me
    so much concern. These men had been taught from infancy to revere,
    almost to worship, the holy places whereon their happy eyes were resting
    now. For many and many a year this very picture had visited their
    thoughts by day and floated through their dreams by night. To stand
    before it in the flesh--to see it as they saw it now--to sail upon the
    hallowed sea, and kiss the holy soil that compassed it about: these were
    aspirations they had cherished while a generation dragged its lagging
    seasons by and left its furrows in their faces and its frosts upon their
    hair. To look upon this picture, and sail upon this sea, they had
    forsaken home and its idols and journeyed thousands and thousands of
    miles, in weariness and tribulation. What wonder that the sordid lights
    of work-day prudence should pale before the glory of a hope like theirs
    in the full splendor of its fruition? Let them squander millions!
    I said--who speaks of money at a time like this?

    In this frame of mind I followed, as fast as I could, the eager footsteps
    of the pilgrims, and stood upon the shore of the lake, and swelled, with
    hat and voice, the frantic hail they sent after the "ship" that was
    speeding by. It was a success. The toilers of the sea ran in and
    beached their barque. Joy sat upon every countenance.

    "How much?--ask him how much, Ferguson!--how much to take us all--eight
    of us, and you--to Bethsaida, yonder, and to the mouth of Jordan, and to
    the place where the swine ran down into the sea--quick!--and we want to
    coast around every where--every where!--all day long!--I could sail a
    year in these waters!--and tell him we'll stop at Magdala and finish at
    Tiberias!--ask him how much?--any thing--any thing whatever!--tell him we
    don't care what the expense is!" [I said to myself, I knew how it would
    be.]

    Ferguson--(interpreting)--"He says two Napoleons--eight dollars."

    One or two countenances fell. Then a pause.

    "Too much!--we'll give him one!"

    I never shall know how it was--I shudder yet when I think how the place
    is given to miracles--but in a single instant of time, as it seemed to
    me, that ship was twenty paces from the shore, and speeding away like a
    frightened thing! Eight crestfallen creatures stood upon the shore, and
    O, to think of it! this--this--after all that overmastering ecstacy!
    Oh, shameful, shameful ending, after such unseemly boasting! It was too
    much like "Ho! let me at him!" followed by a prudent "Two of you hold
    him--one can hold me!"

    Instantly there was wailing and gnashing of teeth in the camp. The two
    Napoleons were offered--more if necessary--and pilgrims and dragoman
    shouted themselves hoarse with pleadings to the retreating boatmen to
    come back. But they sailed serenely away and paid no further heed to
    pilgrims who had dreamed all their lives of some day skimming over the
    sacred waters of Galilee and listening to its hallowed story in the
    whisperings of its waves, and had journeyed countless leagues to do it,
    and--and then concluded that the fare was too high. Impertinent
    Mohammedan Arabs, to think such things of gentlemen of another faith!

    Well, there was nothing to do but just submit and forego the privilege of
    voyaging on Genessaret, after coming half around the globe to taste that
    pleasure. There was a time, when the Saviour taught here, that boats
    were plenty among the fishermen of the coasts--but boats and fishermen
    both are gone, now; and old Josephus had a fleet of men-of-war in these
    waters eighteen centuries ago--a hundred and thirty bold canoes--but
    they, also, have passed away and left no sign. They battle here no more
    by sea, and the commercial marine of Galilee numbers only two small
    ships, just of a pattern with the little skiffs the disciples knew. One
    was lost to us for good--the other was miles away and far out of hail.
    So we mounted the horses and rode grimly on toward Magdala, cantering
    along in the edge of the water for want of the means of passing over it.

    How the pilgrims abused each other! Each said it was the other's fault,
    and each in turn denied it. No word was spoken by the sinners--even the
    mildest sarcasm might have been dangerous at such a time. Sinners that
    have been kept down and had examples held up to them, and suffered
    frequent lectures, and been so put upon in a moral way and in the matter
    of going slow and being serious and bottling up slang, and so crowded in
    regard to the matter of being proper and always and forever behaving,
    that their lives have become a burden to them, would not lag behind
    pilgrims at such a time as this, and wink furtively, and be joyful, and
    commit other such crimes--because it would not occur to them to do it.
    Otherwise they would. But they did do it, though--and it did them a
    world of good to hear the pilgrims abuse each other, too. We took an
    unworthy satisfaction in seeing them fall out, now and then, because it
    showed that they were only poor human people like us, after all.

    So we all rode down to Magdala, while the gnashing of teeth waxed and
    waned by turns, and harsh words troubled the holy calm of Galilee.

    Lest any man think I mean to be ill-natured when I talk about our
    pilgrims as I have been talking, I wish to say in all sincerity that I do
    not. I would not listen to lectures from men I did not like and could
    not respect; and none of these can say I ever took their lectures
    unkindly, or was restive under the infliction, or failed to try to profit
    by what they said to me. They are better men than I am; I can say that
    honestly; they are good friends of mine, too--and besides, if they did
    not wish to be stirred up occasionally in print, why in the mischief did
    they travel with me? They knew me. They knew my liberal way--that I
    like to give and take--when it is for me to give and other people to
    take. When one of them threatened to leave me in Damascus when I had the
    cholera, he had no real idea of doing it--I know his passionate nature
    and the good impulses that underlie it. And did I not overhear Church,
    another pilgrim, say he did not care who went or who staid, he would
    stand by me till I walked out of Damascus on my own feet or was carried
    out in a coffin, if it was a year? And do I not include Church every
    time I abuse the pilgrims--and would I be likely to speak ill-naturedly
    of him? I wish to stir them up and make them healthy; that is all.

    We had left Capernaum behind us. It was only a shapeless ruin. It bore
    no semblance to a town, and had nothing about it to suggest that it had
    ever been a town. But all desolate and unpeopled as it was, it was
    illustrious ground. From it sprang that tree of Christianity whose broad
    arms overshadow so many distant lands to-day. After Christ was tempted
    of the devil in the desert, he came here and began his teachings; and
    during the three or four years he lived afterward, this place was his
    home almost altogether. He began to heal the sick, and his fame soon
    spread so widely that sufferers came from Syria and beyond Jordan, and
    even from Jerusalem, several days' journey away, to be cured of their
    diseases. Here he healed the centurion's servant and Peter's
    mother-in-law, and multitudes of the lame and the blind and persons
    possessed of devils; and here, also, he raised Jairus's daughter from
    the dead. He went into a ship with his disciples, and when they roused
    him from sleep in the midst of a storm, he quieted the winds and lulled
    the troubled sea to rest with his voice. He passed over to the other
    side, a few miles away and relieved two men of devils, which passed into
    some swine. After his return he called Matthew from the receipt of
    customs, performed some cures, and created scandal by eating with
    publicans and sinners. Then he went healing and teaching through
    Galilee, and even journeyed to Tyre and Sidon. He chose the twelve
    disciples, and sent them abroad to preach the new gospel. He worked
    miracles in Bethsaida and Chorazin--villages two or three miles from
    Capernaum. It was near one of them that the miraculous draft of fishes
    is supposed to have been taken, and it was in the desert places near the
    other that he fed the thousands by the miracles of the loaves and
    fishes. He cursed them both, and Capernaum also, for not repenting,
    after all the great works he had done in their midst, and prophesied
    against them. They are all in ruins, now--which is gratifying to the
    pilgrims, for, as usual, they fit the eternal words of gods to the
    evanescent things of this earth; Christ, it is more probable, referred
    to the people, not their shabby villages of wigwams: he said it would be
    sad for them at "the day of judgment"--and what business have mud-hovels
    at the Day of Judgment? It would not affect the prophecy in the least
    --it would neither prove it or disprove it--if these towns were splendid
    cities now instead of the almost vanished ruins they are. Christ visited
    Magdala, which is near by Capernaum, and he also visited Cesarea
    Philippi. He went up to his old home at Nazareth, and saw his brothers
    Joses, and Judas, and James, and Simon--those persons who, being own
    brothers to Jesus Christ, one would expect to hear mentioned sometimes,
    yet who ever saw their names in a newspaper or heard them from a pulpit?
    Who ever inquires what manner of youths they were; and whether they
    slept with Jesus, played with him and romped about him; quarreled with
    him concerning toys and trifles; struck him in anger, not suspecting
    what he was? Who ever wonders what they thought when they saw him come
    back to Nazareth a celebrity, and looked long at his unfamiliar face to
    make sure, and then said, "It is Jesus?" Who wonders what passed in
    their minds when they saw this brother, (who was only a brother to them,
    however much he might be to others a mysterious stranger who was a god
    and had stood face to face with God above the clouds,) doing strange
    miracles with crowds of astonished people for witnesses? Who wonders if
    the brothers of Jesus asked him to come home with them, and said his
    mother and his sisters were grieved at his long absence, and would be
    wild with delight to see his face again? Who ever gives a thought to
    the sisters of Jesus at all?--yet he had sisters; and memories of them
    must have stolen into his mind often when he was ill-treated among
    strangers; when he was homeless and said he had not where to lay his
    head; when all deserted him, even Peter, and he stood alone among his
    enemies.

    Christ did few miracles in Nazareth, and staid but a little while. The
    people said, "This the Son of God! Why, his father is nothing but a
    carpenter. We know the family. We see them every day. Are not his
    brothers named so and so, and his sisters so and so, and is not his
    mother the person they call Mary? This is absurd." He did not curse his
    home, but he shook its dust from his feet and went away.

    Capernaum lies close to the edge of the little sea, in a small plain some
    five miles long and a mile or two wide, which is mildly adorned with
    oleanders which look all the better contrasted with the bald hills and
    the howling deserts which surround them, but they are not as deliriously
    beautiful as the books paint them. If one be calm and resolute he can
    look upon their comeliness and live.

    One of the most astonishing things that have yet fallen under our
    observation is the exceedingly small portion of the earth from which
    sprang the now flourishing plant of Christianity. The longest journey
    our Saviour ever performed was from here to Jerusalem--about one hundred
    to one hundred and twenty miles. The next longest was from here to
    Sidon--say about sixty or seventy miles. Instead of being wide apart--as
    American appreciation of distances would naturally suggest--the places
    made most particularly celebrated by the presence of Christ are nearly
    all right here in full view, and within cannon-shot of Capernaum.
    Leaving out two or three short journeys of the Saviour, he spent his
    life, preached his gospel, and performed his miracles within a compass no
    larger than an ordinary county in the United States. It is as much as I
    can do to comprehend this stupefying fact. How it wears a man out to
    have to read up a hundred pages of history every two or three miles--for
    verily the celebrated localities of Palestine occur that close together.
    How wearily, how bewilderingly they swarm about your path!

    In due time we reached the ancient village of Magdala.
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