Azariah, with a degree of paleness spread over his youthful countenance, left his seat, and joined his comrades.
Apgomer was startled. The contented youth looked for no such result. Delighted with the triumph of the Hebrews, and the punishment of his cousins’ vanity, he considered himself well rewarded. But, remembering himself, he quickly left his seat, and, with a pleasant smile upon his countenance, he took his place by the side of Azariah.
The parchment was rolled up and delivered over to the king.
The king arose, and thus addressed the five:
“Young men! Your honor cometh not from the king. It is the result of your own industry and perseverance. By the favorable interposition of the gods, ye have arrived at a perfection in knowledge never exhibited before on any occasion in the presence of the king. Four of your number are from another country. The hills of Judah are yet fresh in your memories, and Jerusalem is far from being forgotten. I have been well pleased, from time to time, to learn of your amiable deportment and noble bearing. Justice requires me to say that a peculiar perfection has been visible in all your past performances; and now, Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, youths of Judah, ye are, through the power and word of the king, elevated to share in all the immunities and privileges of Chaldean citizens. Long, by your superior wisdom and knowledge, may ye continue to shed additional luster on my already shining empire.
“Apgomer! Thou hast well sustained thyself throughout the examination; and, although thou hast not reached that lofty perfection manifested in the uniform answers of these, thy young friends from Judah, yet thou hast convinced the king that thou standest far above the level of thy fellows—as such thou art rewarded.
“The king findeth no fault with any. Ye have given proof of a good degree of mental strength, and I trust that from this place ye shall go forth to add to the stability and perpetuity of my empire.
“In conclusion, I command that Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Apgomer be decorated with their appropriate badges, and conducted, with due honor, to their apartments at the palace. The examination is closed.”
The merry blasts of trumpets followed this announcement. The king and his attendants first left the apartment; then followed the five youths, next the other students. Then the concourse dispersed as their various fancies dictated. The grand result was known, and, with few exceptions, it gave universal satisfaction. The superior wisdom of the young Hebrews was so abundantly evident, that no room was left for caviling; and each one was compelled to unite in the righteous verdict of the king. The amiable and modest deportment of the young Hebrews so won the affections of the spectators that when they were adorned with their badges of honor, they were loudly cheered.