“My dear friend, judge of my surprise and joy when I recognized in the maid of Judah one of my own relatives. The beautiful and noble orphan who is your daughter’s companion in this house is none other than my own niece.
“I feel that my long neglect of my surviving relatives makes me unworthy even to serve them, but I am determined now that this sweet damsel shall share in my wealth and enjoy all the advantages which my efforts can obtain for her, together with her worthy brothers. In this way I can make partial atonement for the mistakes of the past.”
This remarkable revelation was soon made known to the excited company. With a cry of joy the fair maid of Judah fell into the arms of her uncle. Tears fell from every eye. The “Lily of the Valley” wept, and so did the brave soldier, her father, and so did young Mathias. The scene was one that pen cannot adequately describe, but happiness was supreme in the household.
At the school, agreeable to the expectations of Barzello, the four Hebrews made astonishing progress in their multiform studies. Those profound sciences which had cost their teachers years of ceaseless toil were, by these four young men, mastered with apparent ease. They soon became objects of wonder to their instructors, and were pronounced favorites of the gods. Ashpenaz often would have an interview with them, and soon they became the objects, not only of his admiration, but also of his friendship. This became visible to their fellow-students, and jealousy, accompanied by malice, found a ready entrance to more than one heart. Alas, for poor fallen humanity!
Among the students from the city of Babylon there were two young men, brothers, whose father, by a sudden freak of fortune, had arrived at the possession of much wealth. For some years these young men’s advantages had been quite favorable, and withal they had not been negligent in their studies. They were exceedingly vain of their acquirements, and their pride and arrogance kept pace with their vanity. The success of others, to them, was invariably a source of mortification.
They had already heard complimentary reports of the youths of Judah from no mean sources; and they became their foes, and were determined to see them humbled. As students, they met but seldom, and the real acquirements of the Israelitish youths were not known to these envious Chaldeans. With these two victims of vanity and envy was cast the unhappy lot of another youth, their cousin. He was of “humbler birth,” as the term is used, but almost infinitely their superior in everything that beautifies and adorns humanity. He was frank, generous, noble, and endowed with no small share of natural wit. For his conceited cousins he was anything but a pleasant companion; and daily was their arrogance rebuked by his far-searching repartees. Thus have we introduced to the reader three young Chaldeans, Scribbo and Shagoth, with their Cousin Apgomer.