“What are her literary attainments?”
“All that Judah’s capital could bestow.”
“How will she compare with the refined maids of Babylon?”
“She will compare favorably with the most polished in Chaldea.”
“Verily. And the brothers?”
“All thy richest fancies could paint them.”
“And yet captives of war!”
“Yea—captives of war.”
“The captivity of genius must be of short duration.”
The chariot halted. The two officers alighted, and without delay they hastened to the apartments of the Hebrew youths.
“A happy day to the youths of Judah,” said Barzello, in a lively tone. “This is my noble friend, Ashpenaz, a high officer of the king at the palace. From this hour ye are to be under his special directions.”
“Thy servants,” replied Daniel, bowing gracefully, “will be greatly delighted to be placed in any spot where they can be of service to their worthy superiors.”
“To-morrow, then,” said Ashpenaz, “ye shall enter upon new duties, and commence your important studies. Your teachers are in readiness—men of superior powers of mind, and well versed in the art of teaching. The king himself will be greatly interested in your progress, and therefore has prepared apartments for the students within the royal enclosures, where he will at times appear personally to learn of their advancement. To-morrow, at the third hour, ye will hold yourselves in readiness to be conveyed thither.”
“Thy servants will be in readiness at the appointed hour,” said Daniel.
“Now for the Egyptians, Barzello,” said Ashpenaz, smiling, as they left the apartment.
At the appointed hour, our youths, in company with many others, were conveyed to their new habitation, which was a beautiful building, erected in the vicinity of the king’s palace. Here all the students were received with great civility, and commended to their different apartments. The four Hebrews were not separated, but were permitted to remain as heretofore. They found that everything conducive to their comfort and enjoyment had been provided here as well as at the apartments they had left. Hitherto they had no knowledge of the manner in which they were to receive instruction, or the precise nature of their studies. They knew the Chaldeans to be noted for their learning, and they were not without their fears lest the Babylonian youths who were to be their fellow-students should outstrip them, and leave them far in the distance; however, they were fully determined to acquit themselves to the utmost of their ability, and leave the result with the God of their fathers. Nothing could have given them greater satisfaction than the course marked out for them by the king. Indeed, if it had been left to their own choice to select, it could not have been otherwise. From