Part 3, Chapter 3

Part III

Chapter 3

DAY dawned upon Jabaster, still musing in solitude among his rocks. Within the cavern, Alroy remained in prayer.

Often and anxiously the Cabalist shot a glance at his companion, and then again relapsed into reverie.

‘The time is come that I must to this youth reveal the secrets of my early life. Much will he hear of glory, much of shame. Nought must I conceal, and nought gloss over.

‘I must tell how in the plains of Tigris I upraised the sacred standard of our chosen race, and called them from their bondage; how, despairing of his recreant fathers, and inspired by human power alone, I vainly claimed the mighty office for his sacred blood alone reserved. God of my fathers, grant that future service, the humble service of a contrite soul, may in the coming glory that awaits us, atone for past presumption!

‘But for him great trials are impending. Not lightly must that votary be proved, who fain would free a people. The Lord is faithful to his promise, but the Lord will choose his season and his minister. Courage, and faith, and deep humility, and strong endurance, and the watchful soul temptation cannot sully, these are the fruits we lay upon his altar, and meekly watch if some descending flame will vouchsafe to accept and brightly bless them.

‘It is written in the dread volume of our mystic lore, that not alone the Saviour shall spring from out our house of princes, but that none shall rise to free us, until, alone and unassisted, he have gained the sceptre which Solomon of old wielded within his cedar palaces.

‘That sceptre must he gain. This fragile youth, untried and delicate, unknowing in the ways of this strange world, where every step is danger, how much hardship, how much peril, what withering disappointment, what dull care, what long despondency, what never-ending lures, now lie in ambush for this gentle boy! O my countrymen, is this your hope? And I, with all my lore, and all my courage, and all my deep intelligence of man; unhappy Israel, why am I not thy Prince?

‘I check the blasphemous thought. Did not his great ancestor, as young and as untried, a beardless stripling, with but a pebble, a small smoothed stone, level a mailed giant with the ground, and save his people?

‘He is clearly summoned. The Lord is with him. Be he with the Lord, and we shall prosper.’