Part 3, Chapter 2

Part III

Chapter 2

THE moonbeam fell upon the fountain; the pavement of the court was a flood of light; the rocks rose dark around. Jabaster, seated by the spring, and holding his talisman in his left hand, shaded his sight with the other as he gazed upon the luminous heavens.

A shriek! his name was called. Alroy, wild and panting, rushed into the court with extended arms. The Cabalist started up, seized him, and held him in his careful grasp, foaming and in convulsions.

‘Jabaster, Jabaster!’

‘I am here, my child.’

‘The Lord hath spoken.’

‘The Lord is our refuge. Calm thyself, son of David, and tell me all.’

‘I have been sleeping, master; is it not so?’

‘Even so, my child. Exhausted by his flight and the exciting narrative of his exploit, my Prince lay down upon the couch and slumbered; but I fear that slumber was not repose.’

‘Repose and I have nought in common now. Farewell for ever to that fatal word. I am the Lord’s anointed.’

‘Drink of the fountain, David: it will restore thee.’

‘Restore the covenant, restore the ark, restore the holy city.’

‘The Spirit of the Lord hath fallen upon him. Son of David, I adjure thee tell me all that hath passed. I am a Levite; in my hand I hold the name ineffable.’

‘Take thy trumpet then, summon the people, bid them swiftly raise again our temple. “The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with marble.” Didst hear that chorus, sir?’

‘Unto thy chosen ear alone it sounded.’

‘Where am I? This is not our fountain. Yet thou didst say, “the fountain.” Think me not wild. I know thee, I know all. Thou art not Miriam. Thou art Jabaster; I am Alroy. But thou didst say, “the fountain,” and it distracted me, and called back my memory to—

‘God of Israel, lo, I kneel before thee! Here, in the solitude of wildest nature, my only witness here this holy man, I kneel, and vow, Lord! I will do thy bidding. I am young, 0 God! and weak; but thou, Lord, art all-powerful! What God is like to thee? Doubt not my courage, Lord; and fill me with thy spirit! but remember, remember her, 0 Lord! remember Miriam. It is the only worldly thought I have, and it is pure.’

‘Still of his sister, calm thyself, my son.’

‘Holy master, thou dost remember when I was thy pupil in this cavern. Thou hast not forgotten those days of tranquil study, those sweet, long wandering nights of sacred science! I was dutiful, and hung upon each accent of thy lore with the devotion that must spring from love.’

‘I cannot weep, Alroy; but, were it in my power, I would yield a tear of homage to the memory of those days.’

‘How calmly have we sat on some high brow, and gazed upon the stars!’

‘’Tis very true, sweet child.’

‘And if then e’er didst chide me, ’twas half in jest, and only for my silence.’

‘What would he now infer? No matter, he grows calmer. How solemn is his visage in the moonlight! And yet not Solomon, upon his youthful throne, could look more beautiful.’

‘I never told thee an untruth, Jabaster.’

‘My life upon thy faith.’

‘Fear not the pledge, and so believe me, on the mountain brow watching the starry heavens with thyself, I was not calmer than I feel, sir, now.’

‘I do believe thee.’

‘Then, Jabaster, believe as fully I am the Lord’s anointed.’

‘Tell me all, my child.’

‘Know, then, that sleeping on the couch within, my sleep was troubled. Many dreams I had, indefinite and broken. I recall none of their images, except I feel a dim sensation ’twas my lot to live in brighter days than now rise on our race. Suddenly I stood upon a mountain tall and grey, and gazed, upon the stars. And, as I gazed, a trumpet sounded. Its note thrilled through my soul. Never have I heard a sound so awful. The thunder, when it broke over the cavern here, and shivered the peak, whose ruins lie around us, was but a feeble worldly sound to this almighty music. My cheek grew pale, I panted even for breath. A flaming light spread over the sky, the stars melted away, and I beheld, advancing from the bursting radiancy, the foremost body of a mighty host.

‘Oh! not when Saul led forth our fighting men against the Philistine,* not when Joab numbered the warriors of my great ancestor,* did human vision gaze upon a scene of so much martial splendour. Chariots and cavalry, and glittering trains of plumed warriors too robust to need a courser’s solace; streams of shining spears, and banners like a sunset; reverend priests swinging their perfumed censers, and prophets hymning with their golden harps a most triumphant future.

‘“Joy, joy,” they say, “to Israel, for he cometh, he cometh in his splendour and his might, the great Messiah of our ancient hopes.”’

‘And, lo! a mighty chariot now appeared, drawn by strange beasts, whose forms were half obscured by the bright flames on which they seemed to float. In that glorious car a warrior stood, proud and immovable his form, his countenance; hold my hand, Jabaster, while I speak, that chieftain was myself!’*

‘Proceed, proceed, my son.’

‘I started in my dream, and I awoke. I found myself upsitting on my couch. The pageantry had vanished. Nought was seen but the bright moonlight and the gloomy cave. And, as I sighed to think I e'er had wakened, and mused upon the strangeness of my vision, a still small voice descended from above and called, “Alroy!” I started, but I answered not. Methought it was my fancy. Again my name was called, and now I murmured, “Lord, I am here, what wouldst thou?” Nought responded, and soon great dread came over me, and I rushed out and called to thee, my master.’

‘It was “the Daughter of the Voice”12 that spake. Since the Captivity ’tis the only mode by which the saints are summoned. Oft have I heard of it, but never in these sad degenerate days has its soft aspiration fallen upon us. These are strange times and tidings. The building of the temple is at hand. Son of David, my heart is full. Let us to prayer!’