A female servant was sent to the young ladies’ room to inform them that they were wanted below, and in a few minutes the two girls were seen, side by side, marching into the presence of the delighted officers. Perreeza never appeared lovelier. Attired in the rich, flowing simplicity of her Hebrew costume, with a degree of blushing modesty on her yet animated countenance, she appeared almost angelic. Jupheena, perfectly acquainted with her father’s friend, felt not the least embarrassment.
“Two beauties instead of one, surely,” said Ashpenaz, gazing with wonder on the fair form of Perreeza.
Barzello took the maid of Judah by the hand, and, approaching his friend, said:
“This is young Perreeza, of the royal line of Judah, who, of her own accord, accompanied her brothers to the land of the Chaldeans, and has seen fit to favor us with her company.”
“No very small favor, Barzello,” cried Ashpenaz, bowing low. “I hope the partiality of the gods will not make us quarrel.”
“Let not my noble friend be unjust to the gods. If the maid of Judah is an inmate of the house of Barzello, I trust that three brothers and a cousin, given to the sole charge of Ashpenaz, will convince him that the gods are not partial.”
“Ah! that will do,” said Ashpenaz, still gazing on the maid of Judah.
“Perreeza,” said Barzello, “from pure love for her three brothers, of whom I spake, saw fit to leave her native land and venture her future destiny among strangers.”
“I trust,” answered Ashpenaz, “they are indeed worthy of such a sister’s pure affection.”
“That is a point soon settled in the minds of all who have the pleasure of their acquaintance.”
“Permit me to congratulate my young friend, Jupheena, on the happy addition to the number of her youthful friends.”
“Our beloved Ashpenaz may well congratulate,” replied the young beauty; “and let him be assured that his congratulations are warmly appreciated.”
“And how does our young friend from Judah enjoy the society of her Chaldean friends?”
“Thy young handmaiden enjoys their society much,” modestly replied Perreeza. “If she stands in any danger, it must be from an excess of kindness.”
“I trust the maid of Judah will sustain no material injury from any amount of kindness received in my house,” said Barzello, laughing. “If she does, she must charge it to herself; for, under the circumstances, to be less kind is entirely out of our power.”
“Barzello,” cried the visitor, “thy house is a famous spot for officers to forget their great hurry. Come, my good friend, business is pressing; let us be away. A good-day to the ‘two beauties instead of one.’”
And the two officers hurried from the apartment, entered a chariot, and were on their way to the appointed place.
“A charming damsel that, Barzello.”
“All of that, my worthy friend.”