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The Young Captives: A Story of Judah and Babylon eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about The Young Captives.

The daughter is beautiful—­in her own estimation.  To this she clings as an essential part of her creed—­that she constitutes a very important share of the beauty of Babylonia, but in getting it implanted into the creed of others, she proves unsuccessful—­her converts being wholly confined to her father’s household.  She also, with the rest, on this night manifests an unusual degree of hilarity.

“Ah! they are ensnared at last!” said Scribbo, with an air of triumph.  “They must either deny their religion or face the furnace.  This is right, and happy am I that the king has at last seen fit to enact a law that will bear with stringency on those pretending foreigners who fill the most important stations in the government.”

“But, brother,” said the sister, eagerly, “which thinkest thou they will choose—­the worship of our gods or the fiery furnace?”

“I am in hopes they are fanatical enough to choose the latter,” answered the brother; “for in case they should choose the former, they would be as much in our way as ever.  But then it would be some consolation to know that they had been compelled to worship and bow before the gods of the Chaldeans.”

“There is one thing to be deeply regretted,” said Shagoth.  “I am informed that Belteshazzar, the great Rab Mag, is now in Egypt, and is not expected to return for some weeks.  He also ought to bear them company and share the same fate.  But if only we can put these three out of our way we shall have abundant reason to adore the gods.”

“But, my sons,” said the mother, “will not these Hebrews elude notice among so many?  The gods know how I fear lest after all they may escape.”

“Fear not that, mother,” answered Scribbo.  “Shagoth and myself will so arrange matters as to be near them; and if they bow not with us we will on the spot report them to the king.”

“This is a matter of ponderous importance, and of immense consequence,” said the promenading father.  “From this, Chaldea shall hereafter reap abundant harvests.  These proud and insolent foreigners who insinuate themselves into offices which native Chaldeans ought to fill, will now learn a lesson of modesty to which they have hitherto been strangers.  Far better for our beloved Chaldea if the superstitious brood had been left in their own country.  May the gods grant that every Hebrew office-holder may so cling to his imaginary god as to walk straight from office into sure destruction.  My motto is ‘Chaldeans for Chaldea!’ Personally, I have no hostility toward these young men.  Nay!  But, O my country! my country! it is for thee my heart bleeds!  Sons! ye shall do well to be on your guard, and see to it that they escape not your vigilance.  If they die, their offices will be vacant, and must soon be supplied by some persons of ability.  O my country!  It is for thee, O Chaldea! my heart bleeds!”

“But,” said the anxious mother, “are not these important offices at the disposal of the Rab Mag?  If he still remains, can we expect any favors from him?  Alas! my husband may well cry, ‘O my country!’”

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