The turmoil of Israel began to subside, growing fainter, ceasing among the ranks nearest the sea, failing toward the rear, dying away like a sigh up and down the long encampment. The people that had been on their knees rose slowly. The bleating of the flocks quieted into stillness. Commotion ceased and Israel held its breath.
The Lawgiver had passed from among them, and those that followed him with their eyes saw that he was moving toward the sea, seemingly at the very limit of the outer radiance and still going on. First to one and then to another, it became apparent that the extent of the illuminated beach was widening. Hither and thither over the multitude the intelligence ran, in whispers or by glances. Having showed his neighbor each looked again. Ripple-worn sand, shells, barnacle-covered rocks, slowly came within the pale of the radiance and Moses moved with it. Eight stalwart Hebrews, bearing a funeral ark, shrouded with a purple pall, fringed with gold, emerged from among the people and, taking a place in front of the Lawgiver, walked confidently down the sand toward the east.
The radiance progressed step by step. Wet rocks entered the glow, lines of sea-weed, immense drifts of debris, the brink of a ledge, the shadow before it, and then a sandy bottom.
A long line of old men, two abreast, the wind making the picture awesome as it tossed their beards and gray robes, followed the Lawgiver. After these several litters, borne by young men, proceeded in imposing order.
Except for the raving of the tempest there was no sound in Israel.
A double file of camels with sumptuous housings moved with dignified and unhasty tread after the litters. By this time, the foremost ranks of the procession were some distance ahead, the limit of radiance just in advance, and lighting with special tenderness the funeral ark. Here were the bones of that noblest son of Jacob. Having brought Israel into Egypt, Joseph was leading it forth again.
Pools, lighted by the ray, glowed like sheets of gold, darkling here and there with shadow; long ledges of rock, bearded with deep-water growth, sparkled rarely in the light; stretches of sodden sand, colored with salts of the waters, and littered with curious fish-life, lay between.
Where was the sea?
After the camels followed a score of mules, little and trim in contrast to the tall shaggy beasts ahead of them. They were burden-bearing animals, precious among Israel, for they were laden with the records of the tribes, much treasure in jewels and fine stuffs, incense, writing materials, and such things as the people would need, and were not to be had from among them, or like to be found in the places to which they might come. These passed and their drivers with them.
The next moment, Kenkenes was caught in the center of a rushing wave of humanity. He fought off the consternation that threatened to seize him and tried to care for himself, but a reed on the breast of the Nile at flood could not have been more helpless. Behind Israel were the Egyptians, ahead of it miraculous escape; the one impulse of the multitude was flight. That any remembered his mate or his children, his goods, his treasure or his cattle, was a marvel.