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The Boy of Nazareth Dreams
by [?]

The man laughed. “These are not the kind that ask,” he said, “they are the kind that take–what they will and when they can.”

“I do not like them,” said the Boy. “Their horses were beautiful, but their faces were hateful–like a jackal that I saw–in the gulley behind Nazareth one night. His eyes were burning red as fire. Those men had fires inside of them.”

For the rest of that afternoon he walked more quietly and with thoughtful looks, as if he were pondering the case of men who looked like jackals and had flames within them.

At sunset, when the camp was made outside the gates of the new city of Archelaus, on a hillock among the corn-fields, he came to his mother with his hands full of the long lavender and rose and pale-blue spathes of the gladiolus-lilies.

“Look, mother,” he cried, “are they not fine–like the clothes of a king?”

“What do you know of kings?” she answered, smiling. “These are only wild lilies of the field. But a great king, like Solomon, has robes of thick silk, and jewels on his neck and his fingers, and a big crown of gold on his head.”

“But that must be very heavy,” said the Boy, tossing his head lightly. “It must tire him to wear a crown-thing and such thick robes. Besides, I think the lilies are really prettier. They look just as if they were glad to grow in the field.”

The third night they camped among the palm-groves and heavy-odored gardens of Jericho, where Herod’s splendid palace rose above the trees. The fourth day they climbed the wild, steep, robber-haunted road from the Jordan valley to the highlands of Judea, and so came at sundown to their camp-ground among friends and neighbors on the closely tented slope of the Mount of Olives, over against Jerusalem.

What an evening that was for the Boy! His first sight of the holy city, the city of the great king, the city lifted up and exalted on the sides of the north, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth! He had dreamed of her glory as he listened at his mother’s knee to the wonder-tales of David and Solomon and the brave adventures of the fighting Maccabees. He had prayed for the peace of Jerusalem every night as he kneeled by his bed and lifted his hands toward the holy place. He had tried a thousand times to picture her strength and her splendor, her marvels and mysteries, her multitude of houses and her vast bulwarks, as he strayed among the humble cottages of Nazareth or sat in the low doorway of his own home.

Now his dream had come true. He looked into the face of Jerusalem, just across the deep, narrow valley of the Kidron, where the shadows of the evening were rising among the tombs. The huge battlemented walls, encircling the double mounts of Zion and Moriah–the vast huddle of white houses, covering hill and hollow with their flat roofs and standing so close together that the streets were hidden among them–the towers, the colonnades, the terraces–the dark bulk of the Roman castle–the marble pillars and glittering roof of the Temple in its broad court on the hilltop–it was a city of stone and ivory and gold, rising clear against the soft saffron and rose and violet of the sunset sky.

The Boy sat with his mother on the hillside while the light waned, and the lamps began to twinkle in the city, the stars to glow in the deepening blue. He questioned her eagerly–what is that black tower?–why does the big roof shine so bright?–where was King David’s house?–where are we going to-morrow?

“To-morrow,” she answered, “you will see. But now it is the sleep-time. Let us sing the psalm that we used to sing at night in Nazareth–but very softly, not to disturb the others–for you know this psalm is not one of the songs of the pilgrimage.”

So the mother and her Child sang together with low voices:

“In peace will I both lay me down and sleep, For thou, Lord, makest me dwell in safety.”

The tune and the words quieted the Boy. It was like a bit of home in a far land.