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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Lady Good-for-Nothing.

Yet,—­and paradox though it be—­the Bible was the more alive to her because, on Mr. Langton’s hint, she had taken it like any other book, ignoring the Genevan division of verses and the sophisticated chapter headings.  Thus studied, it had revenged itself by taking possession of her.  It held all the fascination of the East, and little by little unlocked it—­Abraham at his tent door, Rebekah by the fountain, her own namesake Ruth in the dim threshing-floor of Boaz, King Saul wrestling with his dark hour, the last loathly years of David, Jezebel at the window, Job on his dung-heap, Athaliah murdering the seed royal, and again Athaliah dragged forth by the stable-way and calling Treason!  Treason! . . .  Bedouins with strings of camels, scent of camels by the city gate, clashing of distant cymbals, hush of fear—­plot and counterplot in the apartments of the women—­outcries, lusts, hates—­ blood on the temple steps—­blood oozing, welling across the gold—­blood caking in spots upon illimitable desert sands—­watchmen by the wall—­in the dark streets a woman with bleeding back and feet seeking and calling, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved—­”

Hearken, O daughter, and consider, incline thine ear”—­Ruth’s voice swelled up on a full note:  “forget also thine own people and thy father’s house.

So shall the King have pleasure in thy beauty:  for he is thy lord, and worship thou him.”

“Excuse me—­’for he is thy Lord God,’” corrected Mr. Hichens. . . .  “We are taking the Prayer Book’s version.”

“I changed to the Bible version on purpose,” Ruth confessed; “and ‘lord’ ought to have a small ‘l’.  The Prayer Book makes nonsense of it.  They are bringing in the bride, the princess, to her lord. She is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold.  She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework:  the virgins that be her fellows shall bear her company—­”

“The Hebrew,” said Mr. Hichens, blinking over his own text which he had hastily consulted, “would seem to bear you out, or at least to leave the question open.  But, after all, it matters little, since, as the chapter heading explains in the Authorized Version, the supposed bride is the Church, and the bridegroom, therefore, necessarily Our Lord.”

“Do you think that, or anything like that, was in the mind of the man who wrote it?” asked Ruth, rebellious.  “The title says, ’To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim’—­whatever that may mean.”

“It means that it was to be sung to a tune called Shoshannim or Lilies—­ doubtless a well-known one.”

“It has a beautiful name, then; and he calls it too ’Maschil, A song of Loves.’”

“Historically no doubt you are right,” agreed Mr. Hichens.  “The song is undoubtedly later than David, and was written as a Prothalamion for a royal bride.  It is, as you say, exceedingly beautiful; but perhaps we had best confine our attention to its allegorical side.  You probably do not guess who the bride was?”

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