When conducted to their respective rooms, they were given to understand that, at a certain signal, they were all to assemble below, where Ashpenaz would meet them, address them, and enlighten them in regard to the duties of their future course.
The four Hebrews were quietly seated in one of their apartments, each one engaged in satisfying his curiosity by gazing at the richly carved casings and highly ornamented articles of furniture.
“Well, cousins,” said Daniel, with a smile, “I trust they will not un-Hebrew us with their Chaldean mysteries.”
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem!” said Azariah, with feeling, “let my right hand forget her cunning.”
“Let my tongue be palsied if I forget, for a day, the loved ones at home,” said Hananiah.
“When the sweet memories of our beloved Prophet shall be obliterated from this bosom,” said Mishael, laying his hand upon his breast, “then let me be utterly forsaken.”
“The law of Jehovah shall be the rule of our actions,” said Daniel; “to him we yield our hearty and willing obedience.”
The grand signal was heard below, and, without delay, the young men, from different parts of the building, were seen hurrying to the commodious apartment set apart for the occasion. Here they found a number of the king’s officers assembled, among whom the youths of Judah recognized the pleasant countenance of Barzello. They were soon seated in perfect order, and Babylon never witnessed, in personal appearance, a more interesting group of youths. They were received by the officers with a smile of satisfaction, and with a look of admiration. Presently, the dignified form of Ashpenaz was seen moving slowly towards the rostrum; he ascended, gracefully bowed to the officers on either side, and proceeded:
“It is of the utmost importance that those who are destined to minister in the king’s presence should be well initiated into the ways and manners, maxims and customs of our nation, and be well versed in all the learning of the Chaldeans. Nothing short of this can meet the demands and reasonable expectations of our great monarch; and for this he has carefully provided every facility. Your teachers are of the most superior in the realm, and an ample period is appointed for the perfection of your accomplishments.