« AnteriorContinuar »
always kept him at a distance from the heathen was now fulfilled; as well as the prophecy of Helon's mother, when she parted from them in tears at Alexandria, and declared her apprehension that they would not all return. « Oh! that such a righteous man should have died the death of the sinner," exclaimed Helon, in the bitterness of his grief, as he stood beside the stream of the Jabbok. “ Doth Jehovah then punish the righteous as the sinner? O Elisama, Elisama, where shall I find light ?"
“He has fulfilled his destiny,” said Selumiel. “ Who may escape what fate has ordained for him?"
THE WATER OF JEALOUSY.
Let him beware who thinks that he has attained the highest pinnacle of temporal prosperity! The ball is in ceaseless vibration, and the moment in which it reaches its greatest elevation is that in which its descent must necessarily begin.
The death of Elisama had so disturbed the mind of Helon that Selumiel's wisdom and Sulamith's affection could only for a moment yield him consolation. Calamity had come like a flash of lightning, and revealed to him the obscure recesses of his own character ; but with what a convulsive shock had this illumination entered, and how painful the contemplation of the objects which it disclosed. The fabric of self-righteousness, which for some months he had built up with so much care, was overthrown; the vision which he had cherished was gone ; what would he not have given to have been able to arrest its flight ?
The perverted state of his feelings showed itself most of all in his fury against Myron. If his conscience ever remonstrated, he persuaded himself that it was not Myron as an individual, but heathenism that he abhorred. All those passages in the psalms and the prophets in which Jehovah is implored to pour out his wrath upon the heathen, and is declared to bring their counsels to nought, became his favourite theme of meditation. By an incredible delusion he applied to his own personal injury the denunciations of Jehovah's wrath against apostasy from himself. Even the love of Sulamith, who anxiously marked the state of his mind, hardly availed to pacify and soften him.
In the mean time the joyous season of the vintage, and the gathering of the olives and the fruit began. With shouts of joy they climbed the lofty palms, of which the plain of Jericho
was full, and gathered the dates, which grew in large bunches of fifteen to twenty pounds in weight. They were afterwards divided according to their different degrees of ripeness ; some were eaten fresh, others were pressed to obtain from them the celebrated palm-wine. This was done amidst festive shouts, and the praises of the tree were celebrated, of which every part is applicable to some use of man. From the terebinths, some of which had seen the lapse of centuries and were still vigorous and verdant, they plucked the red and fragrant berries, or climbed the pistachio to bring down its delicious nuts, or stored up the resin which spontaneously exudes from both these trees. The figs and the pomegranates were gathered, the balsam scraped from the weeping tree, or expressed from its seeds. Later in the season the olive trees, some of which yielded a thousand pounds of oil, were stripped of their yet unripe berries, which were gently pressed that the virgin oil might run from them; or crushed in the press that they might furnish oil for the necessary purposes of food and anointing.
Even the vintage was beginning here and there.
Sulamith was careful to accompany Helon to all these exhilarating scenes ; but it was long before the luxuriance of nature and the happiness of man had any other effect upon him than to make him more painfully conscious of his loss of inward peace; and the more he scrutinized his own performance of the divine commands, the more was he dissatisfied with himself.
One morning he was walking with Sulamith and Abisuab through a vineyard and seeking the ripe bunches among the loaded trees. His mind was more cheerful and more composed than it ever had been since the death of Elisama. A slave of Selumiel's came hastily to him and summoned him to the house, saying, that a messenger from Gaza had arrived with letters that required a speedy answer. He had brought letters from Myron addressed to Selumiel and to Helon.
On the unfortunate evening when the homicide of Elisama had occurred, Myron had