“So much in regard to the first charge. Now for the second. I am accused of forgetting those ‘kind friends, who lifted me up from my low estate.’ Those friendly hands who helped me to the situation I now hold are, by no means, forgotten; they are deeply graven upon a grateful memory. While this pulse shall beat, and while this heart shall throb, the names of Barzello and Joram will, by me, be fondly cherished. Then there was much opposition from certain quarters. There were those who could not discern the propriety of my being elevated to an equality with those of greater wealth; and I am not sure, since the king has not seen fit to retrace his steps, but that he has lost the confidence of those concerned. Cousins! I am ever grateful to those kind friends who so nobly took me by the hand. I know well who they are, and I know well who they are not.”
“Surely our young instructor is becoming eloquent,” said Scribbo, rather crestfallen.
“Yea, verily,” replied his brother; “and who can withstand such a mighty torrent of oratory? Let us away to the groves!” And Apgomer was left, for the time being, the sole occupant of the apartment.
Days, weeks, months, and years, have passed away, and the great day of examination has arrived—that day for which that youthful group has looked so long, with mingled feelings of pleasure and embarrassment. This day broke on the capital of Chaldea with unusual brightness. The sun shone brightly in a cloudless firmament, and Nature had put on her sweetest smile. In the vicinity of the king’s palace it was evident that something of more than ordinary interest was that day to be attended to. Officers hurried to and fro. Dignitaries bowed to one another with additional smiles. Groups of citizens of the better class appeared here and there, in earnest conversation. Magnificent chariots, drawn by fiery steeds, halted at the king’s gate about the third hour. A splendid national flag proudly waved on the high pinnacle of the students’ building, while each window presented ingenious mottoes appropriate for the occasion.
The place appointed by the king for the public examination of the students, was a magnificent audience room that stood within the royal grounds, and in close proximity to the palace. This apartment was finished in the highest perfection of art, and, in addition, on this occasion, was decorated with ornaments suitable for the day.
At an early stage, the room was well filled with the first of Babylon’s aristocracy, together with some few who had no just claim to title. Appropriate seats were reserved for the king and his attendants, who were soon expected to make their appearance. Among the number assembled there were many of the students’ parents. With but two or three exceptions, joy and good feeling appeared to be the expression of every countenance, while, with hearts free from envy and malice, they gazed on the comely forms of those before them. Among these smiling countenances might have been seen three individuals—a father, mother and daughter—who smiled, indeed, but whose smiles would never have convinced the beholder that they were an index to noble and generous hearts.