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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about The Young Captives.
penetrate this gloom.  Can they?  I have my doubts.  The future—­the far, far future of Chaldea—­I should be glad to know:  but who shall sit on the throne one hundred years from to-day, and what shall be the greatness of Babylon in two hundred years, are questions which time alone must solve.  Surely, this is a sultry day!  Well, the future we cannot know.  It may be all in wisdom.  Peradven—­Ah, sleep! thou art the great conqueror of conquerors.  I surrender.  Thy powers are irresistible.  Let me not long be thy captive.  In one hour, I pray thee, strike my chains asunder, and restore me to my friends.”

And the king, quietly yielding to the stern demands of Nature, was soon in the fast embrace of slumber.

. . . . . . .

“Oh, ye gods that dwell in light, what a dream!” cried the king, hastily leaving his couch, in agitation.  “Oh, what a dream!  But, alas, it has gone from me!  Oh, ye gods, why have I not retained it?  But can I not recall it to mind?  Alas, it has fled!  It has vanished!  How perplexing!  It was not a common dream.  Nay, it bore particularly upon the future of my vast empire.  And yet not one clear circumstance is retained in my memory.  What shall I do?  How shall the lost dream be restored?  My astrologers profess to give the interpretation of dreams.  If they can do this, why not as well restore the dream entire?”

And the king, in an agitated state of mind, left the garden and entered the palace.

“Arioch!” cried the king, “haste thee, and without delay let the most noted of the wise men and astrologers of Babylon be commanded to appear in my presence.  Let there be no useless tarrying.  My demands are urgent.  Haste thee!  Away!”

Without asking any questions, the astonished and half frightened officer hastened from the presence of his king, and gave all diligence in the performance of his urgent duty.  He found ready access to the prince of the magicians, delivered to him the message of the king, and retired.  The astrologer soon sent the message to his numerous companions, and in a short time the concentrated wisdom of the great metropolis stood in the presence of the king.

“Ye have done well,” said the king, eying them with a degree of severity, “to be thus punctual; a failure on this point might have involved you in serious difficulties.  Ye stand before the king as the representatives of wisdom.  Ye profess to be able to bring to light hidden mysteries, and to make known the transactions of the future.  The correctness of your professions is about to be tested.  If it stands the ordeal, well; if not, woe be unto you!”

“All this thy servants profess,” replied the chief astrologer, “and all this they can perform.  Let them but learn the desire of the king, and they stand ready to execute his pleasure.”

“This day,” replied the king, “while slumbering on my bed, I dreamed a peculiar dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the vision.”

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