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SHEHEID COUNT ING SHEEP'.
ILLUSTRATING MANNERS AND CUSTOMS
OF BIBLE LANDS.
FRANCES HARIOTT WOOD,
AUTHOR OF RIVULET COTTAGES," "A STORM AND A TEAIOT," ETC.
PUBLISHED UNDER TIE DIRECTION OF THE TRACT COMMITTEE.
SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE,
NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.C.;
43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C.
BRIGHTON: 129, NORTH STREET
NEW YORK: E. & J. B. YOUNG AND CO.
B .T the mouth of one of the most desolate
and unfrequented of the many ravines
which intersect the north of Galilee,
there stood, only a few years ago, a
small homestead; the ravine was on the eastern
side of the hills, and conducted up into the high
lands of the portion once belonging to Naphtali.
Above the house, which from its size evidently
belonged to a better-class farmer, a squalid,
miserable village dotted the hillside; the houses
small, rarely of more than one story, the greater
part built of mud, but some built out of the stones
which lay heaped everywhere on the hillside, and
testified to the days when Israel lived at peace,
each man under his own vine and fig tree, and
commerce flourished under the wise sway of the
Yet, even then, this part of the land was rugged
and barren in comparison with the rest; the people
were more primitive and rustic, their dialect
different and rougher; and we know that Hiram,
King of Tyre, was much displeased with the cities
given him in payment for his work for the temple
and the goodly cedars supplied from his Lebanon
forests. "Cabul," he called them-" dirty," and
"Cabul" they still remain to this day.
The village was on the southern side of the
ravine; you could see from it, not many miles to
the north, the shining summit of Mount Hermon,
its limestone crown looking as if snow-covered.
Between the mouth of the ravine and the foot of
Hermon, Jordan crept sluggishly through its oozy
bed, amidst dense clumps of impenetrable reeds
many feet high-a dangerous water-forest, in
which the noted Rob Roy canoe was once very
The borders of this fever-haunted, semi-tropical
jungle are cultivated by the villagers who, for the
sake of health, dwell on the hillside. Herds of
fierce, black buffaloes wallow in the miry pools,
or sheep and goats wander under charge of their
wild and swarthy owners; and these owners are
reported, and with much justice, to be little better
than brigands. They have no fixed abode, but
with their camel's-hair tents, roam about wherever
food for their cattle or plunder for themselves
seems most likely to be had. Rolling stones, they
have gathered none of the moss of civilization.
The small homestead mentioned just now was
not exactly at the foot of the gorge, which was too
much of a morass to be habitable, but about fifty
feet up the slope of the hill, where the ravine
" .- .. -
WILD AND SWARTHY OWNERS.
bulged out and described a rude circle about a
hundred feet across. The unmade road, or more
properly torrent-bed, which served that purpose,
passed along under the northern face of the ravine.
The fertile, well-cared-for garden, which lay round
the house, rose slightly above this road, and was
fenced off from it by a rough arrangement of
stones, gathered from the ruins of the original
town, which had extended very far beyond the
limits of the modern kefr, or village. The cliff rose
sheer and precipitously behind the house, which
had some pretensions to be considered a mansion in
those parts, as it was two stories high, the lower
part being inhabited by the live stock of the owner,
the upper by the owner himself, and his wife and
The greatest pains had been taken with the
ground around, which had been by degrees filched
from the highway. The rich ooze in the lower
part of the valley had been carefully carried up in
skins, and spread over the land. Every corner was
cultivated; here a patch of corn, there melons and
cucumber, rye and millet, and even a vine had
been persuaded to grow over the house.
Father Heldai, as the owner of this small farm
was called, was at once the terror and the envy of
all his neighbours ; their terror, as he was reported
to have the evil eye, to do things by magic; their
envy, for why should his fields alone bring forth an
hundredfold ? Why did everything prosper with
him? The happy-go-lucky, indolent peasants did not
see that this was the result of untiring industry;
they envied his success, but were content themselves
to take as little trouble as possible. What was the
use of labouring early and late, only to be robbed
at harvest-time by some rascally tax-collector or
some prowling Bedaur? So the villagers were
satisfied to scratch up the ground a little, and cast
in their seed, and make the best of their scanty
crops; whilst they envied Heldai for his well-
deserved harvest, and shook their heads at the
low-lying house, and said, with looks which meant
much, "Ah! the prosperity of the wicked is not
for ever, and some day--!"
Indeed, Father Heldai was not a man to inspire
respect or affection. His only virtue was industry;
he was inhospitable-a terrible crime to an Eastern
mind-and a thorough miser. He treated his wife
and his only child more like slaves than relatives,
and, in spite of their reputed wealth, they were
more poorly clad than any of their neighbours.
His wife, besides her household duties-in which she
had not the help of a servant-also worked in the
garden, carried burdens which would astonish a
Western woman, and seemed incapable of fatigue.
In spite of hard work in hot, and insufficient clothing
in cold weather, she escaped the malaria so much
felt in the low parts of Palestine; and the villagers
all pointed to her as a plain proof that Heldai was
more than ordinarily prospered.
As for their little daughter Zibiah, she ran wild
on the hills like her namesake the roe, in the
scantiest of blue home-spun garments, with her
hair bleached a tawny gold by the sun's rays,
and wound round with a little kerchief; she wore
no shoes, and was as ignorant and untaught as the
wild shaggy goats and long-eared sheep which
were her charges and companions, and very
troublesome, boisterous companions she found
them at times. She was only ten years old;
but report said-and great indignation was ex-
pressed thereat-that her father was planning to
give her in marriage to the largest farmer in the
kefr, and the betrothal was likely soon to take
place. The discrepancy in the ages of the two-
for the bridegroom elect was upwards of fifty, and
she was only just ten-was a matter of no account;
but old Ishpan had a bad reputation, and Zibiah
was beloved by all for her sweet and tender ways.
Tirzah, her mother, knew nothing of the plan, and,
meek and submissive as she had always been,
Heldai had the sense to feel certain that over this
matter, at any rate, they might have a sharp
contest, for even the gentlest creatures grow fierce
in the defence of their young.
Ishpan himself, guessing that his intended bride
was rich, or at any rate an heiress, was anxious
to bring matters to a climax; and that evening the
matron usually employed in Palestine to settle these
little affairs, was to receive her instructions, and on
the following evening to pay her respects to Heldai
and make the needful promises as to dowry and
settlements, as the bride is generally treated as of
In the mean time, Zibiah, unconscious of the
danger hanging over her, played about on the hills
with a little shepherd-boy of her own age, and her
flock, whom she loved devotedly; she and Dodai
pastured their sheep together, and sat and watched
the sun sinking in the west, or tried, as they had
seen their elders do, to guess the time by the length
of their shadows. When Dodai played on his pipes,
Zibiah and her flock danced and capered to the
sound, and the shepherd played faster and faster
till his little companion could dance no more, so
tired was she with laughing; and the two would
sit down in the shade of some bush or rock, and tell
each other wild, weird, country stories about a jinn
or genius believed to inhabit the glen, and a
mysterious being who originally may have been the
god Pan, but to propitiate whom the peasantry
hang scraps of rag on the trees, especially in the
grove at Banias, the ancient Casarea Philippi,
where was once the temple of. this god. In the
tales they told one another you might have
discovered a strange mixture: Biblical stories
oddly changed, and mixed up with idol and
especially Baal-legends, and little scraps, the remains
of Crusading histories, for along these Galilaan
highlands the power of the Crusades was mostly
felt; and the Crusaders built a chain of fortresses
within sight of one another on several of the
highest points of the Galilean hills.
On the hot day which begins our tale, the chil-
dren, warned by the lengthening shadows, prepared
to lead their sheep and goats to the spring which
flowed at a turning of the ravine a short distance
above Heldai's house. The whole party were in
a state of the highest excitement, capering and
dancing to the shrill, quaint reed music.
It had been a very scorching day, but the cool
wind of evening swept over the hill-slope, invigo-
rating and refreshing all nature; their hearts were
full of innocent joy and content.
Suddenly the music ceased, the joy came to an
end, for in a hollow of the hill they saw the figure
of a man lying on the ground, and moaning
piteously; his eyes were closed, and his parched
lips and dried-up skin seemed to show that he was
suffering from an attack of fever, most likely caught
in passing the unhealthy Huleh Marsh. The first
impulse of the children was to fly; they had never
seen any one look so dreadful before. They clutched
hold of each other's hands, and drawing close
together, consulted what to do. Then their tender
hearts gained the victory over their fears.
"See, Zibiah !" said Dodai, pointing to a dark
spot far away in the sky. "Yon is a vulture; in a
few minutes there will be many more. Rememberest
thou how last year, when poor Lierath died, we
found the next morning nought but his horns and
his bones ? These dreadful birds had picked them
clean, and so would it have been with this man if
we had not come, for he is well-nigh dead. See!
he opens his eyes; he hears us. What does he
But the only word they could distinguish was
"water," and water was not to be had on those sun-
scorched heights. Dodai was, however, a thought-
ful boy, and had been brought up by gentle and
kindly parents, one of whose earliest lessons had
been, "Never turn thy face from any poor man."
He took off his scrip, that perfect necessity to an
Eastern shepherd, a bag of untanned leather, much
like that used by that hero of nursery story, Jack the
Giant-killer. This scrip is used by a shepherd for
a variety of purposes, as a pouch in which to carry
his money, or his dinner, or any other useful article;
as a bucket in which to draw up water from the
well; at times even as a churn, as by shaking
the bag of milk (for it can be used for a milk-
ing-pail) the milk is speedily converted into
Taking his scrip from his girdle, Dodai called
one of his goats and milked her into it, and poured
the milk as well as he could into the sick man's lips.
In a few minutes he revived somewhat, and opened
his eyes feebly.
"I thought-all was over with me, and that
Azrael had come for me," he murmured. "Thanks
be to the Most High for His unspeakable
The children were rejoiced at the effects of their
little act of charity, and began to consider what
they might do next for the stranger. He was an
elderly man of venerable appearance. His snow-
white beard descended to his waist, and by his side
he wore the ink-horn and other implements of a
scribe. He was too feeble for further speech, and
Dodai saw that he must be taken to some place
of shelter for the night, for the heavy dews, which
in no slight degree preserve the herbage, would soon
It was too far from the village, he feared, for the
sick traveller to walk. Not far off there was a cave
which had been appropriated by Heldai as a refuge
for sheep and shepherd at night or in case of storm;
it was a dirty ill-smelling place enough, but better
than no shelter. Thither they would assist their
guest, and afterwards go on to the well, and beg
Heldai to allow him to remain. Then they would
return with food and water, and Dodai would
remain with him through the night. The great
fear was that Heldai would not allow it, for,
although it would not cost him anything, he
seemed to have a dislike to doing kind actions.
I fear he will never allow it; and, if not, we must
help him to climb to my mother's house, if he has
the strength for it."
Zibiah coloured and sighed. Her father, after his
fashion, was kind to her, and she could not bear him
' "The bright sky causes the heat of the day to radiate very
quickly into space, so that the nights are as cold as the day is the
reverse-a peculiarity of climate from which poor Jacob suffered
thousands of years ago, for he, too, speaks of 'the drought con-
suming him by day, and the cold by night.' To this coldness of
the night air, the indispensable watering of all plant-life is due.
The winds, loaded with moisture, are robbed of it as they pass over
the land, the cold air condensing it into drops of moisture-water,
which fall in a gracious rain of mist on every thirsty blade. In the
morning the fog thus created rests like a sea over the plains and far
up the sides of the hills, which raise up their heads above it like so
many islands."-" The Holy Land and the Bible (Messrs. Cassell).
to have this character of a churlish, inhospitable
man.' She knew her mother would be on her side,
and surely Heldai must yield to their united
request. They would remind him that hospitality
brought a blessing from the Most High.
They helped the old scribe to creep to the cave,
and laid him on a pile of dried leaves which was
at the further end, and then hurried down with the
flocks to the well, where usually they were the first,
but now were the last comers.
The spring rushed forth from a shallow cave
which underhung the northern side of the cliff.
It was of unusual purity, and had never been known
to run dry, though now, owing to the summer heat,
it was a mere thread of water; but it overflowed
the basin and ran over into an old stone coffin
which had at some time been dragged down from
the cemetery a short way outside the village.
This somewhat rude trough served for watering
the beasts, and there was also a long deep furrow,
hollowed out by the winter storms, into which the
overflow trickled, and from which the sheep and
goats could drink. The presence of this trench,
and its overflow into the ravine, which in
winter-time was nearly a river, was considered
by the villagers a dangerous circumstance for
Heldai; but the wily man trusted to the slight
elevation on which his house stood, and had been
quick to appreciate the advantage of the constant
supply of water at the foot of the garden; and,
indeed, it was one main cause of its extreme
fruitfulness. No winter storm had ever reached
beyond the patch of rye, and his stone fence acted
as an additional protection.
Now the stream crept along with a low melo-
dious trickle, refreshing to the ear. The scene
around was a pretty one; veiled women and girls
were filling their earthenware pitchers from the
gurgling fountain, gossipping merrily in loud shrill
voices, and kids and goats were hurrying to drink
from the gutter. On a rock near the stream a shep-
herd was playing, on a primitive kind of bagpipe, a
wild but not untuneful air, to which some ragged
children were dancing. Old Jacob, the village
water-carrier, with his unwieldy calf-skin bottle
slung round him with a rope, was always first on the
scene, and was now preparing to reascend to the
village. He looked like a strange creature of some
kind with his bulging, shapeless burden. His
attire was of the scantiest, a skull-cap on his head,
a coloured and very dirty cotton shirt falling to
below his knees, and a pair of slippers.
The well itself was somewhat picturesque: it
had at one time been finished off with masonry,
but under the injurious effects of-Moslem rule this
had gradually fallen out of repair, and only one
side remained; the stones fallen from the ruined
half, lay scattered round about, and were used as
seats by the women waiting their turn to get to
the fountain. The wild caper plant, the hyssop
of Holy Scripture, dangled in green tassels from
each nook and corner, and maiden hair clung in
HELDAI'S TREASURE. 17
rank luxuriance in the crannies, making fresh
beauties out of the very signs of decay. The cliff
over the well was thickly punctured with fissures,
holes worn in the rock-face by winter's storms, and
in these rock-doves sat and plumed themselves,
and made the air sad with their monotonous but
THE WELL ITSELF.
THE WELL ITSELF.
Some swallows, too, had built in a nook above
the well, and were making the utmost of the short-
lived evening, for twilight is hardly known in the
Holy Land, darkness falling very rapidly, and
with but little transition from light to gloom,
On the furthermost of the larger stone coffins,
out of earshot of the bustling eager groups of
water-carriers, sat a woman, her face hidden by the
yashmak, her whole person covered with a veil;
under the protection of this, she was conversing
eagerly with a man of very unpleasant appearance,
his face was bare of beard or moustache, his eye-
brows were heavy, and hung like a pent-house over
a pair of ferocious-looking eyes. His mouth was
cruel-looking, and its lines were the more clearly
traced from the absence of hair. It was old Ishpan,
nicknamed thus because of his bald face, for other-
wise his name would have had but little meaning
in a country where most men shave the head
entirely, and cover it with a skull-cap. He and
old Rachel were making the final arrangements
for the wooing of Zibiah, when she and Dodai
came running down the hill, followed by their
Here comes the little roe!" said one of the
girls at the well, looking with some curiosity at
the child, and then at the two who were conversing
at the end of the ravine. "She is generally so
early. What makes them both so late and
For the children, full .of their sick charge, were
only eager to get their flocks home as soon as
Ishpan scowled at the child, who, without
knowing why, grew pale and shrank out of the
"I cannot bear that man," she whispered to
Dodai; "he frightens me-his face looks so
smooth and slippery, like one of those polished
Dodai laughed merrily. "He cannot hurt you,
Zibiah," he said, as he glanced at the well-to-do
man, who was by far the handsomest-dressed
person present, with a gorgeous brocaded caftan, a
handsome turban, and a jewelled dagger stuck in
his girdle. He had ridden to the fountain for
the express purpose of meeting old Rachel, and
arranging finally with her to visit Heldai the
His eyes had followed Zibiah and her com-
panion, and his scowl deepened, for some swift
intuition made him feel that the laugh had been
about him, and that Zibiah was afraid of him.
See thou do this as soon as may be, Rachel,"
he muttered, pressing some coins into her hand.
"It is unseemly that the maiden should run wild
on the. hills any longer, and the sooner she is
betrothed the better; she is but young yet, but the
easier to train in my ways."
At this moment Zibiah spied her mother just
turning from the well with her pitcher on her head.
She was alone, for the fact of her relationship to
Heldai prevented her forming any friendships. The
child ran up and eagerly told what had happened.
Tirzah shook her head anxiously.
"I fear thy father will be angry, my child, unless
he is in the most cheerful temper. Men are strange
To shave is considered almost a disgrace in the East, where a
beard is thought a sacred ornament.
about these things. Be not hasty, but watch to see
if he will grant thy request; if not, we must consider
what can be done."
For she, too, did not like to turn out the old
stranger, knowing what a shocking act it would be
Zibiah's pets, their thirst quenched, were run-
ning after her like dogs, whilst her little bare feet
pattered down the stony road, and her hair
waved round her like a golden aureole. In a few
minutes more she stood by her father's side, look-
ing anxiously to see if his mood was favourable.
But she saw that it was not a good moment, and
held back. He was bending with anxious face
over his patch of corn, and muttering as he walked
"Another, and yet another, I fear me, and so
carefully as I sifted the grain, and prepared the
ground. Whence comes it? Can it have sprung of
itself? or is it witchcraft ? or who can have sown it
And in his evil mind he thought of all who owed
him a grudge-they were not a few-and he fancied
some of them might have revenged themselves, for
in the young wheat he feared he had detected the
unwelcome "zowan amongst the sprouting blades
-so like the real wheat that it can with difficulty be
distinguished from it, yet a poisonous weed, causing
giddiness if it gets mixed with the true grain,
besides absorbing the nourishment from the soil,
and choking the real wheat.
The idea of such a scourge in his field was
grievous to the money-loving farmer, and roughly,
without heeding what the little girl said, he bade
her pen up her sheep and go to her mother.
Sorrowfully Zibiah obeyed, and joined Tirzah.
"Never mind, my daughter," she said consol-
ingly, "we will say nothing further just now; but
I have this leben,* and these dates, and we will
ourselves carry them to him ere darkness sets in. It
may be that the man has fasted long, and that food
is all he wants."
She gave Zibiah a dish of curdled milk, which
she had intended for the child's own supper, and
she herself took a jar of water and the dates, and
with these they made their way to the cave where
they found Dodai in charge.
Hunger had certainly something to do with the
scribe's illness, he was already better for the draught
of milk, and quite ready to do justice to the refresh-
ing and nourishing leben which Zibiah pressed him
to partake of.
Of course, courtesy forbade their asking who he
was, but he was ready enough to inform them.
He said his name was Micah, and that he had
travelled hither from Damascus in search of his
only son, who had fled from home years ago, and
of whom he had only heard quite lately from
a merchant who had seen him a few months
"For he is my only son," he said sadly; "and,
Sour milk, such as Jael offered Sisera,
though he hath dealt ill with me, and brought his
mother's grey hairs down to the grave with sorrow,
yet would I fain see him, and pardon him, ere I
die; and these many weeks do I seek him, but in
He then mentioned that his son had left him
and his mother almost starving in Damascus, and
had carried off all that they had of value in the
house. Micah almost wept over the thought; but,
sorry as Tirzah felt for him, she saw talking was
bad for him, and also she was anxious to get home
before her absence should be noticed, so, seeing
Dodai coming, who had run home for his supper,
and to obtain leave to stay all night with the
scribe, she took her departure.
She found Heldai wild with fury; he had been
looking for her everywhere, to point out to her the
suspicious blades of green; now it was too late.
Whither had she been? Gossipping with some
neighbour, no doubt, for she had not been again
to the well, as the water-jars stood ready outside
the house door. Had any harm happened to the
sheep ? Were there more misfortunes in store for
him than the appearance in his wheat of the
Zibiah hid behind her mother and clung to her
hand, terrified at this outburst of wrath.
Nay, husband," said Tirzah, gently, we did but
go to see after a poor stranger who was taken ill
near the sheepfold. Zibiah and Dodai found him
and helped him to crawl to the shelter, and we did
but take him a little food and water, for he was
well-nigh perished with hunger."
This brought Heldai's wrath to a climax, that a
stranger should be lurking in his cave-an Arab
robber, very likely; a man of the mountain; he
might even have the evil eye!
This somewhat alarmed Tirzah, who, like all her
neighbours, had a firm belief in this dreadful power
of some people to damage a man's possessions
only by looking at them. In a few seconds she
recovered her self-possession.
Nay, my husband," she said; "but he is a very
aged man, and hath a reverent air, and, moreover,
is a scribe, and not likely to do us any harm. He
doth but look for his evil son who fled from him
many years ago, but of whom he hath heard but
In this case the soft answer did not turn away
wrath; Heldai stormed more furiously than ever,
and almost foamed at the mouth with rage.
See what these women are he cried passion-
ately, spreading out his hands as though to call on
Heaven to witness his words. If a white beard
doth but speak, it is as the voice of a prophet;
white beards, and ink-horns to boot, do not render a
man trustworthy, and the evil eye is to be found
with the most learned. Nay, I will see to this
And away he stormed up the hill, leaving his
wife mute with amazement at the great fire which
so little matter had kindled. She began at once to
look for some cause for this outbreak. The talk
about the evil eye alarmed her, for she had a firm
belief in it, and all her possessions were marked
with a red hand, supposed to ward off the special
visitation. All three wore leather amulets round
their necks with the same object, and would have
thought it a dreadful thing to pass between two
women or two dogs, or two palm trees.
She began to inquire from Zibiah whether she
had had any such misfortune that day, but the
frightened child shook her head; and her mother,
chancing to have some red dye in the house,
renewed the crimson marks, roughly depicting a
hand, and made an entirely fresh mark near the
opening in the rough stone enclosure through which
her husband must pass on his return.
She also resolved, if this failed, to take a lamp to
the little mukam, or shrine, which stood on the high
cliff, not far beyond them, and to consult the holy
man in charge of it what to do; for she feared her
husband must have offended the saint or sheik in
whose honour the mukam was built, and that
this accounted for his extraordinary behaviour.
Having come to this resolution, she felt some-
what consoled, and was able to get the simple
evening meal ready, and to light the lamps and
prepare a welcome for her husband on his return.
It was some time before he came in, and then
his behaviour was even more perplexing than
before he went up the hill. He looked terrified,
and as if he had received a shock. In answer to
his wife's timid questioning, he said the stranger
had gone to Dodai's home, adding, as if in excuse,
that it was a much better situation for a sick man
than that lonely cave. After this explanation he
took his supper in silence, and neither Zibiah nor
her mother dared to break it. That simple meal
ended, all retired to their sleeping-mats; but
husband and wife lay awake a long time, Tirzah
thinking what votive offering she could contrive to
obtain for the sheik; Heldai full of shame, and
vain regrets for a past, of which he had indeed no
cause to be proud.
ELDAI had stormed up the hill in a
great state of indignation at his wife's
having ventured to harbour one of
whom they knew nothing. He entered
the hut muttering maledictions against women in
general, and his own women-folk in particular.
The traveller and Dodai were both fast asleep, the
moon had risen and shone on the mouth of the
cave, though the sleepers were in the shadow out
of reach of its rays. On hearing an angry voice
bidding him begone, Micah rose feebly, and, lean-
ing on his staff, came to the entrance, whilst Dodai
sat up in his leafy bed and listened with curiosity.
Indignation and surprise were written on the
traveller's face, and when Heldai, catching sight of
its expression, checked the torrent of abuse, and
paused abruptly, the sick man said in tones of
"Yea, dost thou see too late whom thou turnest
away sick and needy? Woe is me, that I should
have lived to see the day that my only son hath
cursed my beard and turned me away from his
door! Nay, say not that thou didst not know me.
The Law bids thee succour the needy, even though
it be the stranger at thy gate. Thou art like thine
uncle, Heldai, and hast been, even from a child.
When his wealth came to me, it had been gathered
by cruelty and greed, and as it came, it went. Who
was it that found out the treasure in the wall of the
house, and then fled with it by night, leaving his
mother and me well-nigh to starve ? Thy conduct
brought her grey hairs down to the grave with
sorrow. The Lord hath prospered my work, and
my heart yearned for thee, my son; and I said,
'Lo! I will go and end my days under thy roof,'
but now the Lord forbid that I should do any such
thing; thus do I shake off the dust of this hovel
against thee, that thou mayest know that the
wrath of the Most High is upon the children of
disobedience. Cursed shall thy labour be, and the
storm shall sweep away the work of thy hands.
Only on thy wife and thy child the curse shall not
rest, for they have done that which is according to
Micah had drawn himself up as he spoke, and
suited the action to the word, as he shook the
straw fragments from his mantle and prepared to
leave the hut.
Heldai caught hold of his garment, and implored
him to stop, promising to pay him the duty of a
son, if he would but pardon him and overlook the
past. -But old Micah shook his head,
"We should never agree together, Heldai," he
said sorrowfully, and the anger had died out of his
face. Well I remember how thou didst grudge
all that I and thy blessed mother gave to the poor,
counting it as thine own before our deaths, and
deeming it but a robbery of thee. The man is but
what the child was. Yet I did wrong to curse thee,
my son, but I foresee that evil will come upon thee.
Nay, hinder me not; for, by the Most High, I swear
I will not cast in my lot with thine, or sojourn
with thee, even for the night."
He turned as he spoke to Dodai, and asked if he
would conduct him anywhere; and the boy, who
had listened eagerly, scenting a fray, and with a
lad's natural instinct towards anything like a fight,
be it only a skirmish between two dogs, offered to
take him to his home.
Heldai, terrified at what had happened-for
should this come abroad, it was sure to damage
his character very seriously-clung to his father's
mantle, and implored him to remain, but the scribe
was inexorable; and at length Heldai deemed it
the wisest policy to yield, and turned back sadly
homewards, all the time planning in his own mind
to seek a reconciliation with his father the next
Micah and his brother Ephraim had been for
many years established in Damascus, the one as
a scribe, the other as a jewel-merchant. Both
appeared poor men, and dwelt in one of the oldest,
narrowest, dingiest corners of the ancient city; but
whereas with Micah this poverty was the result of
an unusual liberality, which prevented his heaping
up treasure; with Ephraim it was but appearance,
and all his neighbours felt sure that he had stores
of coin and jewels hidden away in his dark, dusty
dwelling. He was known to be a treasure-seeker,
and was suspected of being far from honest; the
then Governor of Damascus had more than once
had his house thoroughly ransacked, not with the
intention of restoring anything which might be
found, but hoping to benefit thereby himself, but
nothing was ever discovered of even the most
ordinary value; and Ephraim always declared his
trade only enabled him to live from hand to
Micah was far above suspicion; he was an upright
man, and always on the side of the weak; and the
only thing to be imagined was that Ephraim had
some hiding-place beyond the city.
At length the jewel-merchant fell ill of fever;
when all hope of recovery was at an end, and he
felt he had but a few minutes to live, with his last
breath he confided to his brother that all the
savings of many years were concealed in Micah's
house, behind a stone in the wall, and he had
bequeathed the whole of it to him. The scribe, by
the necessity of his calling, had been out all day,
Heldai away at school, the house-mother busy, it
had been easy for Ephraim to carry his hoard to
his brother's house from time to time, and also to
visit it occasionally and ascertain it was safe.
30 HELDAI'S TREASURE.
On examining the spot mentioned, after
Ephraim's death, when the days of mourning
were over, Micah found a treasure which
to their ideas was enormous. It was both an
anxiety and difficulty to the honest couple, who
felt sure it could not have been properly come by,
WHEN THE DAYS OF MOURNING WERE OVER.
and who were also alarmed lest such riches should
attract the avarice and greed of the authorities.
Night after night they discussed what could be
done about it, unheeding that Heldai overheard
such discussions. He had all his uncle's grasping
tendency, and, frightened lest his parents should
attempt restitution of the jewels, he decamped
early one day when left alone in the house, carry-
ing off a good part of the fortune in a sack-
golden ornaments, and silver head-dresses, some
really fine pearls, and a considerable amount of
gold and silver coins. No trace of him could be
found. His mother died, as has been said, of grief;
his father became a bleached and suddenly aged
Soon after his wife's death he made an important
discovery-a second portion of treasure hidden in
another part of the house; he kept this discovery
to himself, not caring very greatly about it. His
trade as scribe was more than enough to provide
him with the common necessaries of life, and he did
not want more.
At length his loneliness began to press upon
him; he longed to see his son, to forgive him, and
have his eyes closed by his hands. His calling
gave him many opportunities of inquiry, and he
heard rumours that Heldai was settled in the
Galikean hills. Carefully plastering up the wall
in which his -treasure was concealed, he had set
out in search of the prodigal, only to meet with
this bitter disappointment.
So much by way of explanation. The poor
father had indeed found him, but would have been
thankful if he had heard of his death rather than
of his infamous inhospitality.
Whilst he had been speaking to his son, there
had been a perfectly unsuspected auditor present
who had carefully garnered every word. This was
no less a person than Ishpan. His presence was
not the result of accident, but of a curiosity which
was a part of his nature.
He had for a long time suspected that, some-
where or other, Heldai had treasure secreted; and
a desire to possess himself of it was at the root of
his intended marriage. If he could possess himself
of the treasure without the wife, so much the better.
These facts made him particularly prompt to notice
the doings of Tirzah and Zibiah, and their little
conversation. He rode slowly down the glen a
short way after them, just in time to see the two
climbing up to the cave with their burdens.
This further roused his wonder. Where could
they be carrying food at that hour ? He lingered
about, and was rewarded by seeing them return
and re-enter the house.
Presently, on the still evening air, came the sound
of Heldai raging and storming at his wife. Dis-
mounting from his well-trained horse, he bade it
stand, and peered over the stone enclosure. A
minute later, Heldai came hurrying out, and went
up the hillside. Here was a prospect of scandal!
First the women-kind ; then Heldai in a towering
rage. Ishpan crept up after him, and was a
witness of the interview between father and son.
Before Heldai had recovered his wits, and whilst
he was still following his father in hopes of a recon-
ciliation, Ishpan crept down into the glen, mounted
his horse, and rode home.
So his ideas were not unfounded! Heldai had
treasure hidden; it was useless to guess where, for
there were a hundred nooks and crannies where it
might be safely stowed away. He would watch
and bide his time: if he found it, so much the
better ; if not, there was still marriage to fall back
It was well he had these thoughts to prepare
him for Mother Rachel's tidings the next day.
She had been to the homestead, but found Heldai
away on business, and Tirzah, so far from showing
a proper gratitude and sense of honour at the pro-
posal for her daughter's hand, had stormed as if
demented, abusing Ishpan and declaring Zibiah
should never marry that old bald man !
Ishpan coloured at this insult, which Rachel,
angry with Tirzah's behaviour to her, for she had
shown her no hospitality at all, had repeated,
knowing the wrath it would cause, and clearly
thinking it would take away his notice from the
failure of her mission.
Never mind, good mother," he said very calmly,
whilst an evil smile played over his face, "we will
wait awhile and see about this again. Here, mean-
while, is the gift I promised thee, and another time
secure that the good man be at home, for he is of
another metal to the wife, and knows a good
The morning after Micah's departure from the
cave, Heldai went as early as possible to Dodai's
home, but found his father gone : he had returned
to Damascus, he was told; and Heldai, believing
that in his weak condition he could not walk far,
and that he should speedily overtake him, set off,
staff in hand. He met several acquaintances loung-
ing along with their Eastern disregard of time ; but
although in his eagerness he did not even stop to
salute them, he failed in the object of his search,
and returned home at evening, tired, famished, and
out of temper, which latter fact was not at all im-
proved by Tirzah's account of Rachel's visit, and
the reception she had given her.
O thou foolish woman he shrieked, furiously.
" Knowest thou not that Ishpan is the richest man
about here, and that Zibiah would have been as a
princess ? "
"And wouldst thou sell her to yon man?"
cried the indignant mother; our one ewe lamb,
the sweetest child in the place! Nay, my husband,
this shall never be. I would sooner slay her with
my own hand than give her to that evil Ishpan."
Balaam's ass speaking to the prophet could
scarcely have caused more intense surprise than
Tirzah's making a stand and expressing an opinion
of her own. Heldai stood open-mouthed, whilst
his wife, with an unusual dignity, lifted her pitcher
on her head and went off to the well with Zibiah.
"Veritably the curse works," thought the
wretched farmer, whom the events of the last
few hours had cowed into a superstitious terror.
What might be expected to happen next ? He
longed to go and see about his treasure, fearing
lest anything should have befallen it, but dared
not go down till it was quite dark, lest any one
should notice him.
From this day his treasure became a perfect
torment to him; day and night he thought of it,
and constantly he formed schemes for its better
concealment, which as rapidly were given up.
Nothing succeeds like success, says a proverb;
it may also be said that nothing mars success
more than a fear of failure, a loss of self-con-
fidence, a feeling that there is some mysterious
power checking one's enterprises, and crossing one's
Such a tide of adverse circumstances seemed
just now to set against Heldai. He was on the
look out for misfortunes, and it may be said met
them halfway. As regarded his harvest, that
really was not, on the whole, a failure; the amount
of zowan proved but small, and his wife and Zibiah
soon helped him to separate it when the harvest-
time came; but most of his other crops failed;
some of his sheep disappeared, most likely carried
off by some Arab marauder; but Heldai suspected
it was the work of a bear, though bears are seldom
seen south of the Litany river. But his reason for
suspecting Master Bruin was this : at one end of
the house he had a number of drain-pipes arranged
so as to serve for hives for the bees, and these,
at the beginning of June, began to overflow with
honey. Heldai put off taking it till after the
fifth day of the month, as the first five days are
supposed to be unlucky, and he was peculiarly
anxious under the circumstances to do nothing to
draw misfortune on himself. On the morning of
the sixth day he went to his hives, but it was too
late; the enclosures near the hives had been
pulled down, there were heavy footmarks in the
thickly lying dust, his hives had been ruthlessly
overthrown, the contents devoured, and some of
the bees lay dead around.
Next, for the first time, Tirzah had an attack of
fever, and for some days was even in danger; and
when she began to recover she was quite incapable
of the amount of work she had hitherto done.
October had almost passed, and the ploughing
for the winter crops was nearly finished. For two
or three weeks no fresh misfortune had occurred,
and Heldai began to hope that the effects of the
curse were passing away. One matter had rejoiced
his heart. Ishpan, unable in spite of his watchful-
ness to find where the treasure was hidden, had
renewed his proposals, and this time Rachel had
contrived to find the farmer alone, and had re-
ceived from him the promise of an ample dowry.
This consisted of an ornament of coins to be worn
on the neck, and of such value as to constitute
Zibiah a good match for a Galilaean peasant-pro-
prietor. Ishpan, on his part, made handsome and
liberal promises, which quite satisfied Heldai, and
the betrothal was to take place as soon as the
ploughing was over.
Tirzah's objections were, of course, cast to the
winds; what woman is ever allowed to command
SHE WAS OBLIGED TO STAY WIH HR OT
SHIE WAS OBLIGED TO STAY WITH HER MOTiYLBK.
on such a subject in the East? She was wise
enough to submit outwardly, but turned her
woman's wits to devising some plan for getting
rid of the unwelcome bridegroom when the time
In the meanwhile poor Zibiah's rambles on the
hillside came to an end ; she was obliged to stay
with her mother, and suffered terribly from the
restraint after the utter freedom she had hitherto
It was, therefore, a matter of rejoicing both to
her and to her mother when an invitation came to
a wedding at a neighbour's in the village. Heldai
was asked also, but, it is needless to say, declined.
He never had much taste for merry-making, and
now less than ever.
He sat in the doorway of his house, smoking,
and noting with much content the scene around
him. Taking all in all, his prospects might be
worse. He was laying by year by year, whilst
most of his neighbours were losing. Then there
was Zibiah's marriage coming on; and he had
had an opportunity that day of making money
by a loan. After all, so far, his father's curse
had not brought him much harm.
The intense stillness of the night seemed to
soothe him. Above, far brighter and steadier than
in our own land, shone the stars and planets, over
the distant shining crest of Hermon sailed the
crescent-shaped moon like a golden boat wrapped
in bright haze, which seemed to overhang the
mountains. From time to time a brilliant shower
of stars fell earthwards, as if scattered by some
giant's hand. At the sight of these Heldai shook
his head, for he thought they boded no good to
him or to his neighbours. Ah could he but have
seen the danger sweeping up behind him, even then
all might have been well!
From the village on the hillside came sounds of
merriment, guns firing, horses tramping, shrill
voices of men and women as they sang some
wedding-song, improvised for the occasion in
honour of the bride and bridegroom. Lighted
torches flittered about from place to place, the
usually quiet place was for once astir.
When these sounds reached Heldai he smoked
the more resolutely, and looked the more ferocious,
as he muttered such proverbs as showed a decided
preference in his mind for the house of mourning
rather than the house of feasting. The dismal
hideous howling of the jackals in the ravine seemed
to him a more agreeable sound; and, indeed, there
is but very little difference in the music of the
two. Both, to our English ears, are equally in-
harmonious, and most of us would think deafness
better than the sound of Syrian singing men and
Heldai thought he had better go to bed, and
accordingly unrolled the mat which served him for
a couch, and wrapping himself in his abba, pre-
pared to sleep; but in vain-mosquitoes buzzed
about him, other intruders paid him their respects,
and little as these inconveniences troubled him as
a rule, he did find them somehow disturbing on
this special night. Thrice he dropped off asleep,
and woke, dreaming the roof of the house was
falling, a most untoward dream according to Syrian
The third time the evil augury struck him as so
pressing, that he rose, full of fears for his treasure,
and went to look out of the house door at his
fields lying silent in the bright moonlight. At the
furthermost corner, deeply buried under a heavy
stone, lay the greater part of his hoard. He was
too wise to have trusted all in one spot, but his
coins and pearls were there, and he fancied no
one would suspect the place, as he had heaped a
quantity of refuse from his fields over the spot.
To his horror he felt sure he saw a figure creep-
ing away from the place. Some one must have
spied upon him, some one was only that moment
robbing him. It might, indeed, be the bear, but
that did not seem very likely.
He seized a bludgeon from the floor, and
hurried down and into the garden, but before he
had got halfway a sudden and extraordinary
darkness came on ; it was actually as if the moon
had been blotted out; he could not find the spot,
so dark it became. When at last he reached it, he
found his worst fears were realized; the rubbish
had been removed, the stone lifted, the treasure
He had scarcely recognized the whole amount
of his misfortune when another horror broke upon
him. Down the gorge, howling, shrieking, as if a
thousand goblins had been let loose, came the
wind, and the next minute it seemed as if all the
fountains of the great deep had been broken up.
Rain We have nothing of the kind in this land :
it was more like a sudden water-spout breaking
over the village, and the parched dry state of the
highlands, where no rain had fallen for months,
increased the force of the stream, which, in a little
more than a minute, began to pour from every
crack and gully in the cliffs. These overwhelming
sudden storms are not very uncommon in the
Holy Land; but one so serious Heldai had never
seen. If he had been on the uplands that afternoon,
and had chanced to look seawards, he might have
been more prepared; but he was so disturbed by
the loss of his treasure, that he also lost his presence
of mind. He might have crossed the stream and
have taken shelter in the cave which had received
his father; but he could not bear to go without the
remains of his hoard ; there would be time to go
to the corner near the house where he had buried
it. He hurried back as well as he could, with the
gusts and the rain striving with him. For the first
time he began to believe in his neighbour's predic-
tions. He hurried to the house. The sack con-
taining the rest of his wealth was safe. He set off
to try and gain the cave, but the water was now up
to his waist, and running like a mill-race. He
could only return and hope the flood had attained
its height. But his hopes were fruitless; foot by
foot the water rose till it reached the lower floor.
Heldai by main force dragged some of the beasts,
especially his ass, without which he could not
finish his ploughing, upstairs.
But this only gave a reprieve. More fiercely
the storm raged round the house. It began to sway,
for the bricks made of mud dried in the sun had
no stability, and the house itself no foundation.
Just as morning was breaking the end came. The
frail edifice sank beneath the storm, and Heldai,
with his treasure clasped in his arms, was buried
in the ruins.
When three weeks later he was dug out of the
shattered farm-buildings, he was still grasping his
'"';" HEN the panic which fell on the
A' i; neighbourhood subsided, it was terrible
I to find what mischief had been
wrought by the storm.
Heldai was not the only man who lost his life
in it; in some low-lying villages on the course
taken by the storm, several perished; and a large
proportion of the flocks were destroyed, drowned
in the marahs or sheep-cotes. The destruction was
Amidst the general distress and terror, with
their newly threshed harvest swept away, their
barns destroyed or damaged, there were so many
in trouble that little attention could be given to
Tirzah and her losses. True the village fronted
eastward, and though pretty high up on the hill-
side, was so much protected by the cliff which rose
behind it, that it felt little of the wind, but it also
suffered from the torrents which poured down
from the highlands ; the mud roofs and ill-fastened
stones were not qualified to resist, and each house
was more or less injured.
Winter was on the threshold, and every nerve
must be stretched to repair the damage before the
cold set in, for it is often severe on the hills.
The day after the "sale," as these storms are
called, a peasant appeared before the village elder
or sheik in great concern; his master, Ishpan, had
gone out towards nightfall of the day of the storm,
and had never been seen anything of again.
This loss was of more importance than the death
of Heldai, for Ishpan and his forefathers had for
many years owned their land, whilst Heldai was
an interloper, who had filched his land gradually
from the common road, and was looked upon with
suspicion and jealousy.
A search-party was organized, but in vain, and
after very slight efforts the search was discon-
Tirzah and Zibiah determined to live near the
cave where the flocks were herded at night, which
was close to the village. They employed a man
to get it ready for them, and took shelter mean-
while with Bab Dodai, as Dodai's father was
called. He proved himself a true friend in those
troublous days,-and superintended the search for
Heldai's body; thus securing the treasure to the
widow and child, who, in spite of the loss of a good
part of the hoard, were quite wealthy compared
with their neighbours.
Tirzah was much consoled for her loss (although,
of course, decorum obliged her to have a great
mourning, and to employ the regular hired
mourners) by the thought that now, even if Ishpan
returned, the betrothal need not take place. She
never doubted that he had taken shelter somewhere,
and would presently reappear; but she was resolved
never to agree to the marriage.
Heldai's battered and disfigured body was
shovelled into a shallow trench near the spot
where he lay, mid shrieks of hired mourners, being
too much decomposed for removal to the cemetery.
His wife and child took possession of the small,
quickly-built house, and, the days of mourning at
an end, found life far more pleasant than in the
Zibiah returned to her shepherding, and was not
quite so closely housed up. Tirzah felt sure that,
even should Ishpan return, he would not care for
the match with the child; and in the mean time
her mother felt better able to protect her.
On a terribly hot day in the following summer,
you might have seen a party of swarthy-looking
Arabs lounging in the shade of the high cliff which
overhung the fountain, which looked more dilapi-
dated than ever after the winter storm.
It was early in the afternoon, and the place was
deserted by all but these sons of the desert, who
were tarrying here for a short rest in the day's
march. "The shadow of a great rock in a thirsty
land was grateful to- them ; and, although visibly
on the alert, they were enjoying it to their utmost,
ZIBIAH RETURNED TO HER SHEPHIEIDING.
.-h~:~-`: b~_~q_3L '_4~j;~r~
.'i '' r; .k
some lounging on the ground, two or three fast
asleep, the rest silent, but smoking.
An insufferable glare was reflected by the lime-
stone cliff above the well-glare on the brown
scorched highlands, glare on the bald shining head
of Hermon, and, though it could not be seen
from this spot, on the blue Mediterranean Sea.
In the ravine all was silent as the grave. A
deep shadow was creeping over it; now and then a
jackal stole stealthily down the road, or some bird
of prey flew across the sky. By degrees a very
slight quivering might have been noticed among
the maiden-hair ferns, the notes of the doves grew
more frequent, some conies came out from a rock-
crevice and played about, and the men began
talking in low voices to each other.
Their beasts of burden lay a short way below
the well; their burdens were not removed, as at
any moment they might have to move. A scout
was on watch at .the upper and lower turning of
the ravine, for there was valuable booty in those
packs, stolen the previous day from some travellers
who had been camping near the Wady Ana. It
was certain that the marauders would be pursued,
as the sufferers were Englishmen who would not
readily pass over the matter.
It was therefore needful to take the booty to a
distant market, and discussion was being held; as
to whether this should be Beyrout or Damascus,
the opinion being chiefly in favour of Damascus,
where at this present time there was an infamous
kadi, well known to be ready to close his eyes
and let any evil pass by, if it could be proved to
be to his advantage.
Over this discussion the freebooters grew excited :
tongues were loosened ; the value of the goods was
disputed, and the means by which they were
A SCOUT WAS ON WATCH.
obtained; with many a curse upon the Franks, who
had severely wounded a comrade, who had been
carried away with the women-folk and their flocks
earlier in the day.
As they talked eagerly, they did not notice a
brown face peering at them, from time to time, from
the shelter of a bush halfway up the cliff; nor a
pair of very projecting ears, extended like an ear-
trumpet, in the desire not to lose a word.
It was little Dodai,who was watching them with
hesitation and fear-fearing to leave his flock, yet
anxious to give the alarm to the village.
Whilst he questioned with himself what he ought
to do, he perceived that they were preparing to
move on. Their water-skins were filled, their packs
adjusted on the camels. The scout placed at the
lower end of the ravine joined them, and said he
heard some one coming from the village.
This hurried matters on; for they would have
been at great disadvantage cooped up in this small
space with precipitous cliffs on either side.
Quietly and quicklythe preparations for departure
were carried out. Dodai leant forward and peered
more eagerly at the Arabs; a more villainous set
of men it would be impossible to imagine-men
who knew no such thing as mercy, and spared none
that came in their way. Dodai, getting a little too
near the edge of the cliff, pushed some pebbles
down, which fell clattering over the well. The men
looked up hastily, but Dodai had thrown himself
down behind a projection of the rock, and they
only saw a rock-dove pluming itself just outside its
rocky home. The slight alarm which the idea of
being watched gave them, hurried on their proceed-
ing : one by one they fled up the gorge, till only
the chief and one man remained. This man rode a
camel pretty heavily laden with part of the booty.
Just as they were about to follow their fellows,
up the glen, singing and dancing, came little Zibiah.
Her fair hair fell down from under her kerchief, and
looked like a halo of gold; on her neck shone an
ornament of silver, which she had with great diffi-
culty obtained permission to wear that afternoon.
Quite suddenly she turned the corner of the
ravine, and at the sight of the dark, evil-looking
men was, for a minute, paralyzed with fear; then
turned to fly-but it was too late. In the next
moment she was seized by the Arab who rode the
camel, wrapped up in a bournous, which prevented
her cries being heard, and, almost suffocated, was
carried off after the rest of the band.
It would be difficult to give any clear reason for
this act. In the first instance, it was to prevent
the child giving the alarm, which might have roused
the village, and have led to the loss of their booty,
as they feared Bashi-Bazooks were on their trail.
Then Zibiah's necklet was of value, and her
captor coveted it for himself. The chief had gone
on a few paces, and even he was unconscious of
his follower's act.
Her captor hurried on to get well out of the way
before the alarm was given; and the poor child,
terrified at finding herself in the power of these
dreadful-looking men, smothered under the heavy
cloak, and horribly frightened at the jolting of the
camel, became senseless.
Dodai had heard her shrill voice coming up the
glen, and scrambling cautiously out, had run down
to warn her of the rough horde at the well; but
when he reached the corner she was nowhere to be
seen. Her pitcher lay broken on the ground, but
there was no sign of any struggle; and his first
thought was that she had caught sight of the
marauders, and was either hiding somewhere or
had fled home.
The Arabs themselves were out of sight, having
turned a corner of the glen. Dodai looked care-
fully on all sides, and called her name again and
Receiving no answer, he began to get uneasy,
but was torn two ways. His duty as shepherd
tied him to his little flock up on the height. If he
left them, some harm might come to them. He
determined to hover about till some of the shep-
herds came up, and then to tell them his fears about
the little maid.
By some strange chance, it happened that no
one passed by for half an hour. Then an old man
came along, toiling up the hill, with his great calf-
skin bottle on his shoulder, the bags carefully tied
up and strung round the neck. He was the water-
carrier for the village, fetching this household
necessary for such as were unable to send for it for
themselves. To him the boy told his tale of the
fierce-looking Arabs who had passed through the
ravine, and the sudden disappearance of little
Zibiah. And the facts were so startling that the
water-carrier turned back to see if the child had
reached home-for she was a favourite with all in
the hamlet, who also pitied her for the loss of her
On his way back, the old man met parties of
women going to the well; but none of them had
met Zibiah, though one or two had seen her start-
ing off, pitcher in hand.
Soon the news reached the poor mother, who set
off for the well in a state of distraction. She found
all talking at once at the top of their shrill voices,
questioning Dodai, who was weeping bitterly. He
described the truculent-looking Arabs, with their
long guns and murderous knives and bludgeons.
He told, furthermore, how he had heard Sidon
mentioned in their talk as the spot for which they
were making. He further said there were some
women and children in the party, who had gone on
an hour before without stopping at the well, and
that they had also great droves of sheep and goats.
He had hidden himself and his small flock in a
hollow of the hill, fearing his sheep might be carried
off by the freebooters.
Scouts were sent forth in all directions, and the
human telegraph employed in Palestine was set
to work. This was carried on in the following
Jacob, the strongest and most powerful of the
herdsmen in the place, with a voice like a bull of
Bashan, ascended the nearest height, and knelt
down with his mouth to the ground; placing his
hands on each side of it so as to form a speaking-
trumpet, he bellowed towards the next hill-
ALI BEN ADIR.
Hor! Ali Ben Adir !"
Clear as a bell the noise boomed along the still
air. There was a little delay in the return of the
answer-the fact was, Ali Ben Adir was consider-
ing whether it would be safe to answer, or whether
it might not bring the Arabs down upon him; for
he had seen the encampment on the march earlier
in the day, and had hidden himself and his flock as
Dodai had done. After a few moments curiosity
Stooping into the same position as Jacob, he
"What is it, Jacob Ben Osee ?"
Didst see the children of the desert pass just
Yea; they passed swift as the doves to their
nests, and many in number as they."
Sawest thou a Fellah child with them ?"
"I saw nought! "
"Inquire thou at the hand of Haj Omar ? '
So on to the next height, where there was a
shrine with a domed roof, and a holy hermit in
charge. The message was passed, but all in vain
-either no one had seen Zibiah or none dared to
The scouts returned, but with no tidings; and as
the sun had set, nothing further could be done that
night. Dodai's mother took Tirzah home, and did
her best to console her, though none of them
doubted for a moment that the child would be
murdered for the sake of the silver necklet; or,
if not murdered, sold as a slave-a still worse
Tirzah sat down on the ground in sick despair,
refusing to be comforted. The well-meaning
neighbours came in and tried to cheer her, and
wept with her; but finding their words quite un-
noticed, one by one they crept away. By degrees
the village quieted down, all but Tirzah slept, and
only the barking of the jackals and the cry of some
night-bird broke the silence. The heart-broken
mother sat wakeful and crushed with sorrow, think-
ing of her lost darling, and wondering how she
could rescue her, and what was happening to her.
She never for a moment considered her dead-no
one would have the heart to kill so sweet a child!
Still, if they had carried her off for the sake of that
ill-omened necklace, they might murder her as the
best way of getting rid of her.
So far as she knew how, the distracted mother
prayed all that night; and who can doubt that her
prayers were heard !
Towards morning, an idea came into her head,
which she determined to carry out at once, lest any
should hinder her. She rose cautiously, and,
wrapping herself in her veil, crept outside the
house. All was silent in the sleeping hamlet,
excepting the chirp of the grasshoppers, the growl
of a dog, and the jackal's cry. The moon was
shining brightly in the sky, and there were yet no
signs of dawn; the better for her plan, as the
village was always early astir in the hot weather,
and she must begin her project before that
She went to her own house, collected all the
portable valuables she could find, put the flat cakes,
which she had just baked as the alarm about
Zibiah arose, in the folds of her dress, and turned
her face northwards. Only one course seemed
opened to her-to go on foot to Sidon, and there
confront the Arabs.
She knew nothing of the villainy of the governor
who was there in those days; nor did she guess
that what seemed to her simple view boundless
riches, would be as nothing in the sight of such a
cruel and avaricious man.
It seemed to her, mother's love could conquer
every difficulty. True, she had never been beyond
the village in her life, and knew nothing of the
hardships and difficulties before her; but wrapped
up in her veil, she felt safe, at any rate, from her
fellow-men. This covering is a woman's castle in
the East: beneath its folds she may feel quite
secure, as not even the sultan dare touch a woman
She felt, too, that at the villages which she must
pass, her pitiful tale would gain her hospitality;
and her mind was too much overcome with anxiety
and trouble for her to have got even a thought of
the supernatural fears which were soon, later on,
to assail her. Love seemed to lend her wings,
and she had already got two miles upon her
way,-following as closely as she could in the
track of the marauders, when the moon became
dim, the stars one by one disappeared out of the
sky, a bright, clear light glittered on Hermon's
snow-white crest, and, like a giant refreshed with
sleep, the sun rose up behind the range of the
A few minutes after, she saw a shepherd letting
his flock out of the marah, or sheepfold, on the
hills. He looked mightily suspicious at seeing a
woman there at that early hour, as there was no
village close at hand. He was very greatly disposed
to fancy her an afrit, or ghost, and his lean, half-
starved dog gave her a suspicious sniff.
Tirzah told him her sad story, and whither she
was going; and the shepherd listened pitifully, and
gave her some milk, but urged her to return to her
"Thou wilt never find thy little maid; and wilt
but lose thine own life !" he said.
"And what will my life profit me without my
Zibiah ? wailed the poor mother. Rather would
I die than be bereaved of my child; but my heart
tells me I shall find her, and doth not this thy
kindness that thou hast shown unto thy servant
give her courage?"
Finding he could not prevail, the shepherd per-
suaded her that, at any rate, she would be wiser to
go to Sidon by the shortest way, and not to follow
"Doubtless, they make for some cave in Lebanon,
where thou canst not follow them; or, if thou didst,
...- --- -- --- --: :- -.-.
CINSHALLAH I" SAID THE SHEPHERD, "TRULY A MOTHER'S LOVE IS A
WONDERFUL THING I"
they would slay thee. Go thou to Sidon direct;
and the Lord prosper thee! "
He put some more milk into the leather bottle,
which she had slung round her. waist, and accom-
panied her until she got on the regular track (road
there is none, according to our idea of the term).
Tirzah parted from her guide with a heartfelt
benediction; and he stood on the top of the hill-
his sheep clustered around-and watched the veiled
figure till it disappeared in the oak scrub lower
down on the hill. Then he saw her emerge, and
ascend the opposite hill; and by degrees she
"Inshallah 1" said the shepherd, "truly a mother's
love is a wonderful thing !"
Tirzah, much comforted by this man's kindness,
plodded on till the heat grew intense; then she
crept under the shade of a bush, and ate some of
her bread, and drank the milk, though with diffi-
culty, as it was curdled by the heat. She leant
back for a few minutes, and, wearied out with her
wakeful, anxious night and her unusual walk, she
fell asleep, still safely wrapped in her protecting
She woke up frightened at the length of her
sleep, but very greatly refreshed. The sun was
beginning to go down, and she hurried on, in terror
lest the night should overtake her before she had
reached a place where she could sleep; for she
knew she could not spend the night on the hillside.
To say nothing of the real dangers of dogs and
jackals, which would become bold when daylight
vanished, there were the no less real dangers to her
of ghosts and goblins. On all sides were the ruins
of once populous towns, which she felt sure were
inhabited by spirits of various kinds, ready to work
evil. That they existed she was very sure; for
had she not seen a great jin pass up the ravine, as
tall as the tallest of the crags ? He had passed up
but a short time before her husband's death, and
very likely had something to do with that event.
Altogether, she must find shelter before nightfall.
Presently she heard a pattering behind her, and,
looking back, saw a very old man driving a donkey.
The ass was laden with horsehair sacks, and these
were full of oak twigs cut from the coppice.
Tirzah sat down by the side of the path till he
came up, and then rose and greeted him.
Peace be to thee, good father Canst thou tell
me how near the kefr is ? "
"But a quarter of an hour from here, my
daughter. But whence comest thou ? Surely thou
art not from these parts ? "
Tirzah, worn out by her day's walk, could scarcely
steady her voice to tell her sad tale, and the recital
was broken by many questions from the aged man,
who was very greatly touched and interested.
"Turn aside and sojourn with me for the night,
my daughter. I have an old wife, who will surely
make thee welcome; and thou art worn out. To-
morrow I will take thee on the ass some miles on
Most likely a sand-storm.
thy road ; and we may perchance meet with some
travellers whom thou mayst join. Indeed, I
bethink me that Hamed Ben Hakir goeth to Tyre,
and thou couldst journey with him."
Most gratefully did Tirzah accept this offer of
hospitality and further help on her journey. Per-
haps at Tyre another escort might be found; for
Abou told her she could not possibly get on
alone-there were streams to be forded, and the
great river-to be passed, and innumerable diffi-
So talking, they reached a small but neat-look-
ing house on the side of the hill, with a little
enclosure of fruit trees round it. A woman stood
outside the door looking at her bee-hives. To her
Abou introduced the wanderer, and the good
mother took her into the house, and, bringing
warm water, sponged. her hot and swollen feet,
blistered with their unusual toil. She also listened
with great interest to the sad story of her guest,
though it was easy to see that she thought her
journey only a wild-goose chase, and that there
was no chance of hef ever seeing her child
Some supper was provided for her, and she then
lay down and fell asleep, full of gratitude for the
help she had had so far on her journey.
Hopeless though they considered her quest, yet
Abou and his wife were anxious to help her as far
as they could. They communicated with Hamed
Ben Hakir; and he agreed for a small sum to take
the widow to Tyre. The worthy old couple, un-
certain of the means of their guest, consulted
together whether they could pay this sum; but
Tirzah assured them she had enough and to spare,
and thanking them heartily, set off with Abou for
the point where she was to meet her guide.
My daughter," said the old man, as they went
along, "give to me the sum thou didst agree to
pay; and I will render it to this man Hamed; for
it were ill that he or any one should know that
thou hast money with thee. Let them rather think
thee poor, and begging thy way, for there are evil
as well as good men in every place."
Tirzah saw the advice was sound, and gave him
the money, which he handed to Hamed, who, in
consideration of this payment, allowed Tirzah to
ride upon one of his asses.
It was only a few miles to Tyre, and the poor
mother, whose hopes revived at every act of kind-
ness, was able to enjoy the fresh cool air a little.
Presently, her eyes full of wonder, she cried out
eagerly, "What is that which lieth before me?"
as for the first time in her life her eyes fell upon
the open sea, the blue Mediterranean lying below
her, with the belt of yellow sand confining it like
a golden band. White lateen sails gleamed on
some small vessels far away on the horizon. The
steamer from Sidon to Jaffa was sailing slowly
past, trailing a long smoke-banner behind it.'
Above, some gulls were flying through the air,
and uttering shrill cries, and, from time to time,
swooping down into the water behind the
"What is it, 0 Hamed ?" asked Tirzah again,
as she stopped breathless and gazed before her.
Hamed looked at her, much perplexed; then
perceiving that it was her first introduction to
the Mediterranean, he said, with an approach to
"What! hast never seen the sea before?"
"Never; our kefr lieth far inland."
Hamed explained to her what the steamer and
ships were, for she had seen nothing of the sort,
the Hooleh swamps being the only approach to
water she had known.
He also pointed out Hiram's Tomb, and gave her
an account of the man in whose honour it was built,
which certainly did not coincide with Biblical his-
tory, but to which the traveller listened full of
wonder and awe.
Presently they came to the poles supporting
the telegraph-wires communicating with Sidon.
These much excited Tirzah's curiosity, and when
she heard that by means of these the inhabitants
of Tyre could talk with those at Sidon, her wonder
knew no bounds. She was almost disposed to
deify the posts, and certainly thought them pos-
sessed of magical powers, and before Hamed knew
what she was doing, she was offering a votive
gift to one of the telegraph-poles, if only her
daughter might be restored safely to her. Hamed
made no remonstrance, being an ignorant man,
and inclined himself to think the telegraph super-
Soon after this they reached Tyre, and were
fortunate enough to find some merchants starting
for Sidon, who took a kindly interest in Tirzah's
mission, and allowed her to ride on one of their
asses. They kept along by the shore, and ere
nightfall reached Sarafand, the ancient Sarepta.
The night was spent in the khan of this village,
and next morning they plodded on northwards.
There were several streams and the Litany river
to cross, but the streams were nearly quite dry
and easily forded. The great Litany chasm sur-
prised Tirzah even more than the sea. She had
never seen such turbulent water, although not far
from her home the Jordan rushes down from the
Hooleh lake with the force of a mill-stream.
The merchants stopped at a village a short dis-
tance from Sidon, and Tirzah, eager to reach the
end of her journey, pressed on alone.
A similar tale is told by Mr. Finklestein, in his lectures on the
N the summit of one of the Galilean
hills, not far from the Litany river,
stand the remains of an old Crusading
castle; a ruined keep in which owls
and bats build, remains of a ruined chapel, the
doorway leading into the castle, portions of the
floor of what may have been the refectory, speak of
those ages when Richard Coeur de Lion and his
hosts battled for the Holy Sepulchre, when the
Red Cross Knights "pricked o'er the plain" and
hills of Palestine, when even children went forth
Crusading as if to some May-day game, little
knowing of the horrors of famine, slavery, and death
which lay in their paths, expecting miracles to
happen for them, and the arm of innocence to be
more successful than the doughty warrior's sword.
In those days when the Cross was uppermost,
and modern power tottered in the balance, seven
forts, visible the one from the other, were built on
the Galilean heights from Jordan to the Mediter-
ranean. In those far-off ages this castle had echoed
to the tramp of warriors' feet and the clink of
mail armour, and spears had flashed and pennons
waved as the hosts sallied forth to war against the
crescent, and to slay or to be slain. Now it stands
forlorn and deserted, unless some party of Euro-
pean travellers takes refuge under its mouldering
walls; for to the natives, it is an object of horror-
they believe it inhabited by spirits of the most
malevolent kind, and bold indeed would be the
man who ventured to sleep in such a spot.
Even in the day-time the very shepherds avoid
it as a dangerous spot, and likely to bring them
misfortune. The ruins are extensive, and show
that, even before the castle was built, there must
have been a village or town here. They are not
on the highest point of the hill, though at a great
elevation, but from a point above the castle further
westward you can catch a gleam of the Mediter-
ranean sea, and catch a sight of Belfort.
As the crow flies, the castle was only about four
miles north of Merj-el-Ain, as we will call Tirzah's
village, though that is not its name in point of fact.
It was, however, a very much longer journey in
reality, up hill, down dale, by many devious paths
to avoid precipices ; in one place one had to struggle
through a thick coppice of oak, in a manner which
proved that the path was but little frequented ; yet
by this road, and towards this ruined castle, the
Arabs had taken their way, selecting the most
secluded route, and camping on the nothernmost
side of the castle, and actually within the walls, so
that they might not be seen.
The Litany river was only a very little further
north, and they hoped early the following day to
cross it and reach a cave in the Lebanon. They
had in their last raid got themselves into trouble:
not content with petty robberies from the peasants,
they had actually attacked a band of travellers,
and had carried off two camels laden with valu-
ables of various descriptions. Unluckily for
them, amongst the party were several English
travellers of sufficient note and determination to
oblige the effete Government to take notice of the
By scattering their forces, the Bedouins had
contrived to baffle their pursuers, but they knew
that the hue and cry was after them, and that the
sooner they got out of the district the better.
Unhappily, one of their chief men had been
most severely wounded in the fray, and it was on
his account they had to halt, and to camp within
the castle as far out of sight as possible.
They had scouts in all directions, and were
prepared to hurry off at a moment's notice. Once
in the Sidon district, they might be able to dispose
of their booty. They had taken the precaution
to divert attention from themselves by sending
a body of Arabs to Nablous.
Into the midst of this gipsy-looking encampment
rode the two Arabs who had carried off Zibiah,
and were warmly welcomed by the rest of the
clan. Jedid, the Arab who had caught up the
little girl, carried her at once to his own tent, on
the floor of which sat a sad-faced woman, too
spiritless even to welcome her lord and master.
Jedid, without a word, took the child from his
cloak, and, handing her to his wife, hurried out
again to look after his camel.
The woman cried out with horror-poor little
Zibiah had again fainted with terror and fatigue,
and looked as if dead, but when the arms of the
Arab woman received her she seemed to revive,
and presently opened her eyes, and closed them
again in horror at the unwonted scene.
Now, it so happened that the sad-eyed woman
had but lately lost her only child-not much of
a loss according to Eastern notions, as the girls
of a family literally count for nothing, and there
is general lamentation over the birth of a daughter.
But a mother's heart is the same all the world
over, and when the little maiden drooped and
died of fever, when the tents were spread in the
Esdraelon plain, Hanna's life became darkened,
and her eyes acquired their present sad and hope-
Somehow Zibiah's tawny locks, blanched into
many golden shreds by the sun, reminded her of
her own child, and when her husband returned
after seeing the captured camel and its booty,
and hearing the future plans, Hanna, who had
occupied the interval in reviving the spent and
weary child, pointed out the likeness.
Is she not like our Zibiah? she asked.
At the name, Zibiah lifted her head and looked
at the woman, who she instinctively felt meant to
befriend her, and said-
"That is my own name!"
Nay, this is wonderful," said Hanna. It is as
though my own child were restored to me, and as
such I will tend and care for her."
"Nay, do even as thou wilt about that, for so,
maybe, no questions will be asked, and even our
sheik knoweth not about the child. Only give me
yon jewel from her neck and keep thy counsel, and
give me now my supper, for in an hour's time I
must start for Sidon."
Hanna hastily obeyed her husband's commands,
only whispering to Zibiah not to fear, for that
she would take care of her. The necklet was
taken off, and some bangles which were on the
child's arms. Some food was set before the Arab.
This he devoured, and then threw himself down
and slept for an hour. As soon as the appointed
time was over, and the moon had risen, he and
another man set out to Sidon with the booty.
By degrees Zibiah calmed down under the tender
care of Hanna, who comforted her to the best of
her ability. She sobbed out her sorrowful story,
and implored her friend to tell her what would
become of her; but Hanna only shook her head-
That I cannot say, my child. None know thou
art here, and it may be thou canst pass for my
child, for thou art verily like her, and in the
confusion, but little was known of her death, which
took place but yesterday. There was no time to
lament for her-we buried her where she lay, Hamed
and I, and it will be thought thou art the sick child
recovered. Stay by me, and call me 'mother,' and
I will do my best to keep thee from harm."
She made her lie down in a corner of the tent,
after giving her some milk, and lay down beside
MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, HURRIED NORTHWARD.
MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, HURRIED NORTHWARD.
her; and feeling secure, at any rate, for the present,
the wearied child slept.
Hanna felt a greater sense of comfort in the
presence of this little trembling prisoner than she
could have deemed possible, and determined to
play a mother's part towards her.
Day was nearly dawning when a man came
running up to say that the soldiers were only a
mile or two off, and knew their whereabouts.
Instantly all were on the alert in the camp. The
wounded man was strapped on a camel, the house-
hold goods packed on the beasts of burden, and
the whole party set off to the cave in the Lebanon,
of which they frequently made use after some act
of depredation more daring than usual. In a few
minutes the tents were down; men, women, and
children, heavily laden, hurried northwards, the
smallest children strapped on their mothers' backs,
the bare-footed dirty wights running at their full
speed, with many a glance behind. It was like a
moonlight flitting of goblins, and as Zibiah ran by
her adopted mother's side, she felt more and more
dismayed. How could she ever get back to her
mother again ?
She would have asked the question, but Hanna
put her finger on her lips and desired her to be
silent. She was afraid the difference in the dialect
would be noticed and cause suspicion.
The further the journey took them the greater
grew Zibiah's fear of the rough-spoken, evil-looking
men, the weird miserable children. As for the
tremendous chasm of the Litany,* it filled her with
"The great river Leontes, known at this point as the Kasimeeh,
but along all the rest of the course as the Litany, pours into the sea
about halfway between Sarepta and Tyre. Its course, including
its many windings, is in all about one hundred and twenty miles,
in passing over which it descends fully four thousand feet from its
highest source in Lebanon. It rises close to the source of the
terror as she looked down six hundred feet, and
saw the water foaming at her feet, tearing its
way through from the mountain to the sea. They
had just reached the overhanging cliff when one of
the men shouted, and, looking back, they saw the
Bashi-Bazouks in the distance. Speed was in-
creased. A few minutes more placed them on the
northern side of the gorge, and before the soldiers
had come up, the troop of Arabs had disappeared
in some mysterious haunt known only to them-
selves, whither the pursuers dared not follow them.
Zibiah was almost as frightened as her captors,
and as glad to find herself in a long, narrow cave,
with several galleries branching off from it. She
had never seen one of such magnitude, and was
terrified at the darkness and the hollow echoes.
Hanna whispered to her to be of good comfort, for
they were now safe, and the whole party went for
a considerable distance, the cave tending down-
wards. At length they came to an opening
Orontes, in the broad plain of Hollow Syria, near Baalb-k-its
farthest, not its highest source being there It flows south-
west through the Lebanon Mountains, fighting most of its way
through a narrow chasm worn by its waters in the course'of ages.
Leaping from point to point, 'it boils, it wheels, it foams, it
thunders' on, at one place making its way through a tunnel, cut by
it in a rock more than ninety feet thick, so as to form a natural
bridge. At some places it is hardly more than six feet wide, but
the depth is unknown. At others, it rushes down in furious mad-
ness six hundred; or even eight hundred feet beneath your standing-
place, till at last, flowing almost at a right angle with its original
course, it bursts from the grip of the hills, and seeks rest in the
ocean, to which it makes its way, with many windings, between
banks rich with overhanging green."-" The Holy Land and the
Bible" (Messrs. Cassell).
:-^---\ --_. --_- :-~ m
' ;" .*" :,;f -:. -yJ ~ a.
...- :' ,.-* .- .- --- _
.. ... -_ :
,; -- .. o- _-_. -
A DARK CHASM CUT RIGHT THROUGH NINETY FEET OF SOLID ROCK.
turning westward, and therefore not easily over-
looked from the opposite crags. They were con-
siderably below the summit of the cliff, and there
was a pleasant and most refreshing shade. Some
creeper had garlanded the mouth of the cavern,
casting a branch across almost like a hand-rail.
The hollow rumble of the river came up from the
ravine; you could see it foaming away at the foot
of the crags like a cataract. Down some part of
this river, it is supposed, King Hiram floated his
timbers for the temple, but it could scarcely have
been very far up the river, as in one portion of its
course it comes forth from a dark chasm cut right
through ninety feet of solid rock, one of the most
wonderful tunnelling feats of nature.
As soon as the refugees arrived in the cave,
preparations were made to convert it into a
temporary abode. The entrance was carefully
hidden with stones and brushwood, and two scouts
with guns were posted on each side. The horse-hair
curtains were fastened up so as to make a division
for the women, a fire was lighted, and some of the
wives and mothers began to prepare food, as
hitherto they had not broken their fast.
After the meal Hanna again persuaded Zibiah
to sleep, and sat down beside her. In the un-
wonted bustle the difference of the children was
unnoticed, and if the other women thought of the
child at all, it was only to suppose she was still
suffering from fever, and they were too much
occupied with the sick man, anxiety for their
absent ones, and thoughts of the division of prey,
to pay much attention to Hanna.
In the mean time, great was the dismay at Kefr-
el-Ain when it was found that Tirzah was gone.
Bab Dodai inquired from house to house, but in
vain; no tidings could be gained, and the universal
feeling was that, being desperate at the loss of her
child, Tirzah had gone out in the night and
destroyed herself in some pit or gully. A search
was instituted for her, and nearly all took part in
it, but with no better success than the search for
It was very hot weather. By evening of the
second day after the Arab raid, all hopes of finding
either Zibiah or her mother were given up by all
in the village but Dodai.
His misery, poor boy, was pitiable. Tirzah had
been like a second mother to him, and his little
companion more than a sister. Never in all their
lives had they quarrelled, and for the first time in
his life Dodai utterly neglected his charges. It is
true he wandered on the hill with them, but he
paid no heed to them, not even to his favourite
goat which he had specially taken care of from a
kid, and which, from its gentle playful ways, was
a particular pet both with him and Zibiah.
All the time he wandered about, his eyes were
looking in all directions, if perchance he might see
some token of his late companions. At length,
towards evening of the fifth day, he was roughly
roused from his trance of despair by a fresh
calamity: Uzzi was missing. When the time
came for folding the flock, it could nowhere be
found, and Dodai was quite desperate.
His father had gone to a market with some of the
sheep, and would not be back till the next day.
There was nothing for it but that the shepherd-boy
should look for the wanderer himself. He penned
up the rest of the flock in the cave, and, getting a
rope and staff, set out in search of Uzzi, in spite of
the darkness and not a few superstitious fears.
At length it seemed to him he heard his
favourite's voice in the distance. He shouted
loudly, Uzzi! Uzzi !" and felt sure he heard a
responsive bleating, which he followed, till at
length, recognizing whither the sound was leading
him, he paused, too terrified to proceed; only a
little way beyond was a certain pit, or gully, viewed
with such peculiar horror by the peasantry, that
neither by day nor by night would they approach it.
It was believed to be inhabited by a most wicked
spirit or .ghost, which at times discoursed such
horrible sounds and uttered such dismal meanings,
that it was said all who heard him forthwith lost
their senses and went mad.
All had avoided this spot in the late search,
each trying to believe that his neighbour had been
there. It wanted courage of the highest order to
approach the spot after dark.
Such courage, love gave Dodai. Had not Uzzi
slept in his bosom. Was it not almost as dear to
him as Zibiah? He had allowed his grief to make
him heedless, and hence its loss ; he clutched his
amulet round his throat with one hand, tightened
his grasp on his staff, and with beating heart went
He could hear Uzzi's voice more and more
loudly, and the moon shone so brightly that he
could see every step of the way, but it required
an immense amount of resolution to prevent his
However, somehow, at length he found himself
on the very edge of the pit, and looked down.
There lay Uzzi on a ledge below, apparently
unhurt, but without sufficient room for a spring,
and knowing by instinct that it needed help.
Calling its name lovingly, Dodai fastened his rope
to a strong bush which stood at the edge of the
gully, and swung himself down. He found his
poor favourite really in a most dangerous position,
as the slightest movement might cause it to fall
over into the abyss. Somehow he contrived to
fasten the rope round it, and then prepared to
mount again, but just as he turned to do so his eye
fell upon something a little further on the same
Though trembling much, he drew near, feeling
sure that this was the body of the unfortunate
Tirzah, who had cast herself down in her despair.
Curiosity almost over-balanced fear as he crept up
and looked at the horrible sight. It was not
rirzah, but a man, or rather the skeleton of a man,
for the vultures had done their ghastly work. He
seemed jammed between two boulders of rock, and
in his hands he clutched a large bundle.
In a moment it flashed into the boy's mind that
it must be the wretched Ishpan. The pit was
only a few hundred yards above Heldai's house,
but usually avoided because of its evil repute. No
doubt in the raging storm the farmer had lost his
way and had fallen into the cleft.
The shock was so great that, had it not been for
the rope round his waist, Dodai would have fallen
into the pit behind him. It was some minutes
before he summoned courage to ascend. Once at
the top, fear lent him wings ; not even his love for
Uzzi could keep him near that horrible spot.
Swift and straight as an arrow from a bow he fled
homewards, and threw himself at his mother's
It was some time before she could understand
what had happened. When she did understand,
she was both frightened and shocked. However,
only one thing could be done. Uzzi, with a rope
round its body, was pretty safe, and her husband
would be home in the morning. Until then
nothing must be said about this strange discovery.
Accordingly they waited until the house-father's
return early next day, and, as soon as he knew
what had happened, he straightway planned how
to examine into this matter without letting their
neighbours know; for Dodai was strong in the
belief that there was treasure in the sack which the
old man clutched, part of it had been torn, perhaps,
by the vultures' claws or teeth, and he had seen
silver shining within.
The three arrived presently at the edge of the
gully. Dodai's mother, terrified, covered her face
more closely than usual with her veil to avoid
seeing the skeleton. Uzzi still bleated feebly, and
Bab Dodai's first act was to draw the goat up and
place him in safety on the grass, and he then
swung himself down, as Dodai had done on the
previous night. A few minutes sufficed to assure
him that it was Ishpan, and that he had in his
arms something of value. He contrived somehow
to fasten up the rent and to attach the rope, and
his wife and Dodai dragged it up. There was
nothing further to be done. The skeleton was so
firmly wedged in the rocks that it could not be
dragged out, and the shepherd climbed up with
the rope, and found his wife and Dodai gazing
with wonder at the mysterious hoard.
The difficulty now was to get it home. A
little beyond the pit was an oak coppice. It was a
common thing at that season to cut off the young
and tender shoots to feed the sheep, so Bab Dodai
went home, and, putting two sacks on his ass, set off
as if for forage.
The treasure was concealed in one of the sacks,
and covered with oak boughs, and the other was
filled with scrub, and then summoning Uzzi, who
had quite revived as soon as it got some food, they
turned homeward, calling upon all they met to
rejoice with them over the recovery of the lost
goat, and talking with great pleasure of the stock
of oak leaves they had procured.
This was Bab Dodai's cunning, for, said he, Let
us not seem to have aught to conceal; if we court
notice to" our ass, none will suspect we have any-
thing of value there."
Great was the rejoicing when the treasure
finders reached home, and in the most private
corner of the house were able to examine into
the value of their hoard.
As to restoring it to Ishpan's kith and kin, such
a thought never entered their heads-they felt sure
he had gotten it by ill means, and from the posi-
tion, most likely, had robbed it from Heldai, which
was, indeed, the fact. If it was Heldai's, then if,
which seemed unlikely, Tirzah and Zibiah ever
returned, that matter could be easily settled by
the marriage of Dodai and the little girl.
HILE these events were going on at
Merj-el-Ain, poor Tirzah was in sad
tribulation outside Sidon. It was
getting late, and near closing time
when she drew near the city, and she had to hurry
to get in before the hour of sunset, after which,
neither for rich nor for poor are the gates undone.
Tirzah was almost through the gateway, when
to her terror she caught sight of a large number
of horsemen close up behind her, whilst out of the
city some peasants with asses laden with pots and
pans were passing. Utterly unaccustomed as the
poor widow was to city life, she lost all nerve and
presence of mind, and almost fell under the horses
of the entering party.
SA dreadful scene of turmoil and confusion
arose. The kawashes, or guards, who were with
the travellers, with their long sticks tried to clear
a path, and to drive the peasants and their asses
back. Oaths and curses, loud cries of "Daherek
wahjik! daherek wajak!"-" Your face your back!
Your face! your back!" echoed under the arch. You
could have imagined that it must end in a scene
of murder and bloodshed. But not at all. Soon
the rival currents struggled through. The peasants
passed out scowling, and execrating the Ferin-
ghees; the travellers passed up the street. Tirzah
found herself standing in a recess behind the gate,
and, as soon as she could collect her wits, recol-
lected feeling herself drawn back by a friendly
hand, and found she was standing behind a low rail,
and beside a man whose dress and implements
bespoke him a public letter-writer, who sat here
from day to day, ready to transact business, or
write letters for any one coming into the city, or
going out of it. A kindly old man he looked, and,
perceiving how the stranger trembled, pointed out
a place where she could seat herself a minute, for
she could scarcely stand from fright.
The cause of this extreme hubbub at the gate
was evident,'as scarcely had Tirzah sat down, than
the gate swung to with a loud clank, the key
turned in the clumsy old-fashioned lock. All
would be quiet round the gate till the morning,
for none could go in or out.
Thou art but just in time, my daughter," said
the scribe. "And verily I bethink that thou art a
stranger to our city ways ?"
But Tirzah gave him no answer, but gazed
steadfastly at him for a moment. His face
seemed familiar, where could she have seen him
As she asked herself this question, it flashed
across her, that this was the stranger whom she
and Zibiah had nursed in the marah, and whom
Heldai had turned away. Would he befriend her,
or avenge himself for their inhospitality ?
She gathered all her remaining courage and
"My father, hadst thou not an illness on a
journey last year, and did not a woman and child
bring thee food in a cave?"
"And who art thou, my daughter, that knowest
these things ? "
"My name is Tirzah, good father, and I and
my child brought thee food when thou wast ill;
and, alas! it was my husband who sent thee away,
and whom the Lord hath smitten for his iniquity."
"Nay, come home with me, my daughter, for we
cannot speak of these things here ; and thou hast
a right to sojourn with me, for know thou that
thou art verily my daughter-in-law? We cannot
speak of these things in the ears of the people
which are in the gate."
He put on his slippers, and, taking his writing
materials as he spoke, and then picking up the
mat on which he sat, led the way to his home,
which was close at hand.
Horror and trouble were in his heart at the
thought that harm had fallen upon his son.
Tirzah followed him obediently, never doubting
his statement that Heldai was his son. Something
in his face when she spoke of trouble having been
the punishment for want of hospitality, made her
feel that the scribe had a more than ordinary in-
terest in Heldai, and as she followed her guide,
much that had perplexed her became clear. Nay,
there was quite a likeness between father and son.
Micah, though his heart was full of dread, asked
her no questions till he had placed what food he
could before her, for all his life he had cared for
the poor, and widowed, and helpless, and even in
his trouble he remained true to his principles.
Tirzah pushed the food away, eager to tell her
tale; but he was firm.
"Nay, my daughter, by-and-by we will talk of
thy matters, but now thou must refresh thyself;
for the journey has been great for thee, and I
marvel much how thou hast come so far alone."
Tirzah ate some dates, and drank some milk,
for she was indeed worn out with her long and hot
journey of close upon thirty miles of rough hilly
walking or jolting on an ass.
At last, seeing she had finished, the scribe in-
voked the blessing of Heaven, and then bade her
"If verily thou art my father," said Tirzah,
"and my heart tells me it is so, I have naught
but ill tidings for thee. Heldai, thy son, is dead;
and my child, the little Zibiah, hath been carried
awayby the sons of the desert, and we know not
what hath become of her. I heard they were on
their way to Sidon and hither I have followed
"My son Heldai dead! cried the father in a
tone of much anguish. He had wished him ill, and
the ill had come, and the father felt the fault
rested upon him.
"Tell me further, my daughter," he said; "how
died he ? "
Then Tirzah told him about the water-spout, or
"sale," breaking over the village, and Heldai's sad
end; and Micah cast himself down upon the
ground, and scattered dust upon his head, and tore
his beard and his garments, whilst he cried-
"Alas! and he died with my curse upon him,
which may have brought this mischief! Yet in my
heart I meant him not ill, but yearned after him.
Would I had died for thee, 0 Heldai, my son, my
In his misery he seemed quite to have forgotten
his daughter-in-law's presence; but her anxiety
would not let her rest. It was getting very late
now. Micah had lighted a small hand-lamp when
they came in, which cast a feeble glimmer into the
"My father," she said humbly, "whilst thou
lamentest, day draweth on, and my Zibiah may be
lost; and the little maiden did her best for thee in
thy sickness. Tell me how I may rescue her from
the evil men who have taken her ? "
Micah roused himself, and made inquiries about
the outrage. On hearing full particulars he said-
Thy tale tallies with what happened to-day,
for, as I sat at the city gate, two Bedouin came
in with two camels, and scarce were they in the
city when the guard seized them and their goods
-for they had robbed a caravan, and tidings had
been telegraphed from Nablous; so now they are
in prison, waiting till the accusers come. Yea,
perchance those Franks who entered the gate with
you are they "
Advise me, father, how I may get speech of the
kadi. See, I have money and jewels here, and all
that I have would I give to get my Zibiah back."
But the scribe waved the money aside. All
thou hast would not suffice to satisfy the kadi; he
is an evil, avaricious man, and might take thy
money indeed, but would render thee no justice.
I must take thought for this. In the mean time,
my daughter, do thou rest, for we shall be long in
court to-morrow, and thy strength will be spent."
He showed her into an inner room, as he spoke,
and fearing that if she did not obey, he would not
help her, Tirzah went in, though without the least
idea of sleep. However, what with utter fatigue, and
a sense of being protected, before she knew what
had happened, she had fallen into a dreamless and
refreshing slumber. Very early the next morning
Micah roused her and bade her make haste, as they
must go to the court. He had prepared some
simple fare, and advised her to partake of it, as
they might be long in court; then he said-
I have considered the matter, my daughter, and
this is what we must do. I have told thee that
the kadi is an evil man, and I will now tell thee of
some of the evil deeds which he hath done. Then
do thou wrap thyself in thy veil, for none will
venture to touch thee, and thou mayst go boldly
into the man's presence; and if he will not hear
thee, then tell some of the evil he had wrought;
and in fear of what thou mayst reveal, he will see
to thy case for thee, and thou mayst obtain
Anxious as Tirzah felt, she could not help
smiling at the ingenious idea, and, with a beating
heart, and strengthening herself with the thought
of Zibiah's danger, she set forth with the scribe.
The court presented a far more lively appearance
than usual, for it was true that the travellers who
came in at sundown were a Sir Henry Witheringly
and his party, who had come to Sidon to inquire
after the marauders. The matter was in the hands
of the English Consul, and the kadi was so care-
fully watched that bribery was impossible. The
freebooter's camels were searched, and the goods,
many of them were plainly English; so the men
were put into ward till the next day.
The kadi held a larger court than usual. There
were the kawasses, with their long sticks, at the
door; the judge had several officers and an inter-
preter in attendance; and Sir Henry, the Consul,
and others of the traveller's party, were given places
on the divan.
The recovered goods lay in a heap on the floor,
watched over by a soldier. In one corner of the
room, dirty, ragged, and forlorn, stood the accused,
Tirzah, closely veiled, went up to the days, on
which the divan was raised. The kawasses called
to her to go back, and prevented Micah's entering,
but they would not touch or hinder her, and,
drawing near, she called out-
"Justice, my lord kadi! justice !"
"Nay, good woman, another day must thy cause
be known, and not to-day."
"Nay, my lord, even to-day will I be heard,"
said Tirzah, standing motionless. "Ill would it
please my lord that thy slave should tell before
those in this room how that my lord hath slaves
bought with money, which is not according to the
Law of Moses."
"Peace, good woman peace I" cried the kadi;
not at all desirous that this custom, forbidden in
the Koran, but winked at by Mohammedan
customs, should be so loudly proclaimed in public;
but he made no attempt to attend to her case, but
spoke to Sir Henry.
"Nor," continued Tirzah, boldly, "that thy
servant should speak of the vineyard that my lord
hath planted, and the wine which he hath for the
harem, though wine is not according to Moslem
law. Nor of- "
By this time the kadi, terrified at the exposure
of his misdeeds-knowing this was only the cream
of them, and that there was very much more
beneath-was wild with helpless anger and shame.
He could not put the woman out of the court,
for no one dared to touch the veiled form: all
around were laughing more or less openly at his
discomfort. Sir Henry, who understood all that
was said, was politely trying to hide a smile; even
the miserable Arabs, who had been brought in for
examination, felt the humour of the scene.
One of the kadi's men leant forward and said-
"Better hear her case, my lord; for only so can
we get rid of her."
So the judge, almost choked with rage, yet feeling
the wisdom of the advice, bade the widow tell her
tale, and be gone.
"Thy servant dwelleth at Kefr-el-Ain, on the
Hooleh, and is a widow," said Tirzah, with trembling
voice; "and last ploughing-time a storm came
from the hills, and lo! my husband was drowned,
and our house and our cattle swept away. Then
we bethought us we would dwell near the village
which is on the height, and we built us a house
and dwelt there. Now, thy servant hath a daughter,
a maiden of eleven summers, and four days since
the child went to the well to fetch water; and some
Bedouin were at the place, and they stole my
child away; therefore am I come hither."
All showed some interest in the matter. It was
plain to the Englishmen that these must be the
same who had robbed their caravan. The two
prisoners also drew near to each other, and
Tirzah particularly described the necklet which
Zibiah had worn at the time of her abduction.
Those in charge of the recaptured goods now
HELDAI'S TREASURE. 95
held up the necklet, and Tirzah, recognizing it,
started forward almost in despair, crying out-
S" It was my child's Doubtless she is no more;
they have murdered her for it! "
The two Arabs began protesting their innocence
in the matter, weeping and rending their gar-
ments; but Jedid was cunning enough to see the
advantage to be gained from this.
He stood forward and said, Oh, my lord judge,
if thy slave may be suffered to speak, there hath
no harm befallen the little maid. She is safe in
a place that thy servant knoweth of, and if my
lord will send me, I will fetch her hither, and
Ali here can stay as hostage till my return; but
if I bring her back in safety, my lord will set us
Here Ali put in a remonstrance. He did not
believe a word of his fellow's story; having heard
nothing of his private venture, he felt sure that
Jedid would save himself, and leave him in the
In low voices, Sir Henry and the kadi consulted
what was best to be done. The Englishman was
determined to do all that lay in his power to save
the child, being greatly taken with the poor
mother's courage and wisdom. Though, naturally,
the kadi had other and very opposite views on
the subject, he could not refuse the request that
the truth of the man's story might be proved.
However, as Ali seemed a capture of less im-
portance than Jedid, it was decided that he should
be the messenger. Accordingly, he was sent off,
and Jedid remanded to prison.
At this moment a telegram arrived for Sir
Henry, announcing the capture of the portion of
the band who had gone to Nablous, and begging
his presence; but he determined to stay where he
was, and to see Tirzah and her child safe out of the
Sidon district, well knowing, as soon as his back
was turned, the vengeance of the kadi would fall
Ali was set free, and, girding up his loins, set
forth as fast as he could for the cave in the Lebanon
passes, bearing a token for Jedid's wife.
Tirzah and the scribe slipped away, and con-
cealed themselves in Micah's house, full of thank-
fulness for the success they had had so far.
It was impossible for the child to arrive for two
days. In the mean time, Micah, knowing that
their bold stroke had involved them in considerable
danger when English support was removed, went
to Sir Henry, and begged that he and his daughter-
in-law and the child might travel with the
Europeans as far as Tyre. He had money to
procure asses, so that they would not delay the
Sir Henry had desired his dragoman to follow
Tirzah home, so as to ascertain where she lived, as
he had taken great interest in her case, and knew
enough of Eastern ways to be sure, after her attack
upon the governor, the sooner she got away from
Sidon the better.
Micah told his daughter-in-law he was weary of
city life, and should end his days at Kefr-el-Ain,
and Tirzah was only too glad of such a protector.
So the scribe sallied forth and bought two
asses, and all preparations were made for departure.
Early in the morning of the third day Ali
returned with Zibiah, dreadfully worn out and
frightened, but quite uninjured. The governor
would have departed from his promise of release,
but Sir Henry insisted on its being fulfilled, and
the two freebooters lost no time in putting as great
a distance as possible between themselves and
The rapture of mother and child on meeting is
beyond description-Tirzah wept for joy, and
prostrated herself in gratitude for the help she felt
the traveller had given her, at his feet, wishing him
every possible blessing, and laying her life and her
possessions at his service; whilst again and again
she pressed Zibiah in her arms, and thanked the
Most High for the favour He had shown to her.
All the Europeans were much touched with her
simple, artless ways; but there was no time for
delay-they must get to Nablous as soon as
possible. They wished, if possible, to sleep in the
khan at Tyre, but determined, instead of going
by the ordinary route, to make a detour and visit
Kefr-el-Ain. It was the special wish of Miss
Witheringly, who had become quite excited over
Tirzah's story, and had fairly lost her heart to the
gentle, loving mother and the pretty child.
Miss Witheringly had been travelling for some
months in Palestine, and could speak sufficient
Syriac to be able to keep up a little conversation
with Tirzah, and was charmed with her quiet
And so the whole party turned southwards, full
of joy and happiness. There was only one thing
to be sorry for-the wonderful necklet had vanished:
who had taken it was never discovered-most
likely the governor had added it to the liberal
backshish already received. Sir Henry regretted
the loss much, and felt, in a measure, he had failed
in the object of his journey to Sidon; but Tirzah
was thankful, as she had begun to feel that it was
an ill-omened jewel, and brought misfortune on its
At sundown they reached the squalid, miserable
hovels, which represent that once mistress of the
sea-Tyre. Well has prophecy been fulfilled.
No longer can she be described as the city of perfect
beauty; no longer all the ships of the sea repair
to her; and her fortified walls are adorned with
the shields of a vast army. Her renown is a thing
of the past; her glory departed; some of her
buildings lie under the sea, others have been
buried by the constantly encroaching sand. The
whole land "lieth desolate," and only bears witness
to the perfect accuracy and memorable fulfilment
Early the next day the travellers struck up into
the hills towards Hiram's Tomb. Tirzah looked
around her with an eagerness and interest which
surprised Miss Witheringly, who knew that, as a
rule, Eastern women are not easily excited.
"What seekest thou, Tirzah ?" she inquired in
But Tirzah had reached the object of her search,
and begged Micah to help her to descend, explain-
ing that she had promised a thank-offering at the
spot where she had prayed for Zibiah's deliverance,
and that this was the post. So saying, she took a
bangle off her arm, and hung it on a nail which
was at the foot of the post, with tears of gratitude
for the favour vouchsafed to her.
As the code of morality is not such as is said to
have existed in Alfred's later days, it may be safely
declared as a positive fact that that bangle is not
on the telegraph-post at the present day.
None of the natives saw anything in the trans-
action; even Micah said nothing. "Had she not
vowed? and must she not perform? "
Miss Witheringly could not understand what had
happened ; but, her father explaining it to her, she
was intensely shocked at the state of ignorance
which such an act displayed, and tried to reason
with her about it, but Sir Henry checked her.
She will never understand ; and, after all, there
is decided righteousness in the act. This pole
represents to her the channel by which she thinks
her prayer was conveyed. Of course she knows
nothing of telegraphy, but she thinks somehow it
has been the means of carrying her petition to