For had it not been promised that out of Israel nations should be made, and kings should come?
The march was to be taken up immediately, and in the cool of the morning the host was ready to advance.
Rachel had not permitted herself to be seen until the tent of Miriam was struck. She knew that Kenkenes was without, waiting for her, and with the delightful inconsistency of maidenhood, she dreaded while she longed to meet her beloved again. And when the moment arrived she slipped across the open space to the camel that was to bear her into Canaan, but in the shadow of the faithful creature, Kenkenes overtook her and folded her in his arms.
“A blessing on thee, my sweet! And I am blest in having thee once more.”
“Didst thou sleep well?” she asked.
“Most industriously, since I made up what I lost and overlapped a little. And yet I was abroad at dawn prowling about thy tent lest thou shouldst flee me once again. Rachel—” his voice sobered and his face grew serious—“Rachel, wilt thou wed me this day?”
“If it were only ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ to be said, I should have said it long ago,” she answered with averted eyes, “but there are many things that thou shouldst know, Kenkenes, before thou demandest the answer from me.”
“Name them, Rachel,” he said submissively; “but let me say this first. Mine eyes are not mystic but most truthfully can I tell this moment, which of us twain will rule over my tent.”
“And thou art ready for the tent and shepherd life of Israel?” she asked gravely, but before he could answer she went on.
“Hear me first. So tender hast thou been of me; so much hast thou sacrificed for my sake that it were unkind to bind thee to me in the life-long sacrifice and life-long hardships that I may know. Thine enemy and mine is dead, and Egypt rid of him. There is much in Egypt to prosper thee; there, thy state is high; there, thou hast opportunity and wealth. Israel can offer thee God and me. Even the faith thou couldst keep in Egypt, so thou wert watchful. And further, thou art the murket’s son, and building takes the place of carving for thee, now. But, here, O Kenkenes, thou must lay thy chisel down for ever, for the faith of the multitude, so newly weaned from idolatry, is too feeble to be tried with the sight of images.”
Kenkenes heard her with a passive countenance. She gave him news, indeed—facts of a troublous nature, but he held his peace and let her proceed.
“And this, yet further. Once in that time when I was a slave and thou my master and loved me not—”
His dark eyes reproached her.
“Didst love me, then, of a truth? But it matters not—and yet”—coming closer to him, “it matters much! In that time ere thou hadst told me so, we talked of Canaan, thou and I. I boasted of it, being but newly filled with it and freshly come from Caleb who taught us. Then, Israel was enslaved and not yet so vastly helped by Jehovah. But alas! I have seen Israel freed, and attended by its God, and by the tokens of its conduct, Israel is far, far from Canaan. I am of Israel and whosoever weds with me, will be of Israel likewise. It may not be that I shall escape my people’s sorrows. Shall I bring them upon thy head, also, my Kenkenes?”