Then Jesus said: “Why did you seek me? He who has a task to do, cannot always stay with his own people. I have been about my Heavenly Father’s business.”
“Where were you all the time?”
He did not answer. Others might have told how he stood between the pillars listening to the discussions of the Rabbis until he could keep silence no longer.
Joseph said to him with some severity: “If you are learned enough to interpret the Scriptures to those honourable men, you must know the fifth commandment: ’Honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’”
Jesus said nothing.
“And now, my son, we will betake ourselves to that land.”
And so they set out on the last stage of their journey. It was hard walking over the vineyards of Judaea and Samaria, and Mary, when they were quite near home, asked if she should ever see Nazareth again. Jesus marched the distance, so to speak, twice, for he was never tired of turning aside to gather dates, currants, and figs, or to fetch a pitcher of water in order that his parents might quench their thirst. So they went slowly over the rocky land, and when the mule-path led to an eminence over which flat stones lay scattered, and which was thickly sown with stumpy shrubs, the fertile plain of Israel lay before them. It was surrounded by wooded hills, while villages were scattered about its surface, and shining rivers wound through it. Opposite, one range of mountains showed behind the other, and the highest lifted their snowy peaks into the blue sky.
Joseph let fall the camel’s guiding rein and his staff, extended his arms and exclaimed: “Praise the Lord, oh my soul!” For Galilee, his native place, lay before him.
When they saw the little town of Nazareth nestling in a bend of the hills—ah! how small the place was, and how peaceful amid the green hills!—Mary wept for joy.
The inhabitants of Nazareth were not a little astonished to see Joseph, the carpenter, who had so long disappeared from their midst, walk up the street with his wife and a handsome boy. It was a good thing that they had baggage with them. But Cousin Nathaniel made a very wry face, in which the smile of welcome struggled with the anxiety this unexpected arrival caused him. Cousin Nathaniel had taken possession of, and settled comfortably in the house, regarding himself as the heir. Now he must pack up and go.
Joseph was delighted to see his workshop again, with its vice, bench, yardstick, plane, and saw. The red dyeing vat was also there, and the cord with which the timber was measured before the axe was used on it. Cousin Nathaniel declared that many of the tools belonged to him, until Joseph pointed to the J with which all the things were marked for the sake of order. When the old workman tied on his