“But she must be further provided for. She must have a permanent home in the vicinity of her brothers. An officer of the king, in the city, with whom I am well acquainted, having learned something of the history and deportment of this your sister, would desire her, if not contrary to her wishes, to be an inmate of his house, and a companion for his only child—a maiden of sixteen summers. Would this be acceptable to the young damsel?”
“Abundantly acceptable, most kind Barzello!” said Perreeza. “Thy young handmaid is ready at any time to do the pleasure of her protector.”
“Then I will accompany thee thither without any delay.”
Perreeza withdrew to another apartment, and in a short time, returned, attired in her rich native costume, and giving Barzello a sign that she was ready, they both left the apartment. Soon Perreeza found herself by the side of her kind friend, in a richly-ornamented chariot, that hurried them through the wide and busy thoroughfares. Perreeza was somewhat astonished at the greatness and grandeur of this Gentile metropolis.
“Your Babylon is truly a great city,” said she.
“The greatest on record. How in thine eye compares its beauty with the capital of Judah?”
“In the ornamental—in splendid gardens and bubbling fountains—Babylon surely stands far superior.”
The chariot halted, and Perreeza found herself in front of one of the most beautiful mansions she had ever beheld.
“And is this the officer’s mansion?” asked Perreeza, gazing with a degree of astonishment at the great structure.
“Yea, this is it, fair damsel. But thou appearest somewhat embarrassed. Let the maid of Judah have no fears, for I have every confidence that she will do well.”
“Is the noble officer at home?” asked the maid, endeavoring to appear composed.
“He is about the premises, and will soon be in,” replied Barzello, with a smile.
“What delicious flowers!” cried Perreeza, breathing a little easier.
“Babylon abounds with the like, fair damsel. But come, let us enter, for the officer’s daughter is in haste to behold the youthful maid from the land of Judah.”
Barzello ascended those steps of spotless marble, and, with a degree of freedom that seemed to surprise his young companion, he entered a spacious apartment, richly furnished and beautifully ornamented, where Jupheena was ready to receive them, with loving smiles of welcome.
“Jupheena, this is the young maid from the land of Judah, of whom thy father spoke,” and, directing his language to Perreeza, at the same time giving Jupheena a glance that was readily understood, he said, “and, young damsel, this is the officer’s daughter of whom I spoke.”
The two maidens, as if by a magic spell, were drawn to each other’s arms.
“I shall leave you for a short period, Jupheena,” said the officer; “thy father will soon return; when he comes, thou wilt be most happy to present to him thy young companion,” and Barzello left the apartment, and thus the two fair ones were left together.