A clash of swords and the cries of excited men resounded through the streets of the city. Two guardsmen were endeavoring to disarm and arrest a number of boisterous youths. The latter, evidently young men of good social position, had been singing bacchanalian songs and otherwise conducting themselves in a manner contrary to the spirit of orderliness which King Josiah was striving to establish in Jerusalem. The youths were intoxicated, and, when the two officers sought to restrain them, they drew swords and made a reckless attack on the guardians of the peace.
Although the latter were outnumbered, they were courageous and skillful men, and soon had three of the party disarmed, accomplishing this without bloodshed. The fourth and last of the marauders, a handsome and stalwart young man apparently about twenty-one years of age, although at first desirous of keeping out of the melee, sprang to the aid of his companions. He cleverly tripped one of the watchmen and grappled with the other in such a way that the officer could not use his sword arm. This fierce onslaught gave the other members of the party new courage, and they joined in the battle again. The conflict might then have been settled in favor of the lawless party but for an unexpected circumstance. As one of the guardsmen gave a signal calling for reinforcements, the second made a desperate attempt to throw his young antagonist to the ground, and, as they struggled, his face came in proximity to that of the offending youth. He uttered an exclamation of surprise.
“Ezrom! Ezrom!” cried he; “don’t add crime to your other follies! Do you realize what you are doing? See how you are about to bring disgrace upon your relatives. Make haste away from this place before the reinforcements come, or nothing will save you from the dungeon. I beseech you in the name of the king and your beloved family!”
Instantly the plea had its effect. The young man drew back, and, hastily uttering a few words to his companions, led them away before they could be recognized by the gathering crowd.
“The officer is a loyal friend of our house,” the youth explained, “and we have him to thank for getting us out of this trouble, temporarily at least. But the affair has attracted enough notice so that there is sure to be an inquiry to-morrow, and I for one will put the city of my birth behind me before the dawn of day. The son of Salome and the nephew of King Josiah will never again bring disgrace upon those he loves. To-night I flee to parts unknown, and bitter indeed will be the punishment of those of you who are apprehended for our offenses.”