Then he embraced her passionately and was gone, leaving Miriam weeping.
THE GATE OF NICANOR
Another two hours went by, and the lengthening shadows cast through the stonework of the lattice told Miriam that the day was drawing to its end. Suddenly the bolts were shot and the door opened.
“The time is at hand,” she said to herself, and at the thought her heart beat fast and her knees trembled, while a mist came before her eyes, so that she could not see. When it passed she looked up, and there before her, very handsome and stately, though worn with war and hunger, stood Caleb, sword in hand and clad in a breast plate dinted with many blows. At the sight, Miriam’s courage came back to her; at least before him she would show no fear.
“Are you sent to carry out my sentence?” she asked.
He bowed his head. “Yes, a while hence, when the sun sinks,” he answered bitterly. “That judge, Simeon, who ordered you to be searched, is a man with a savage heart. He thought that I tried to save you from the wrath of the Sanhedrim; he thought that I——”
“Let be what he thought,” interrupted Miriam, “and, friend Caleb, do your office. When we were children together often you tied my hands and feet with flowers, do you remember? Well, tie them now with cords, and make an end.”
“You are cruel,” he said, wincing.
“Indeed! some might have thought that you are cruel. If, for instance, they had heard your words in that tower last night when you gave up my name to the Jews and linked it with another’s.”
“Oh! Miriam,” he broke in in a pleading voice, “if I did this—and in truth I scarcely know what I did—it was because love and jealousy maddened me.”
“Love? The love of the lion for the lamb! Jealousy? Why were you jealous? Because, having striven to murder Marcus—oh! I saw the fight and it was little better, for you smote him unawares, being fully prepared when he was not—you feared lest I might have saved him from your fangs. Well, thanks be to God! I did save him, as I hope. And now, officer of the most merciful and learned Sanhedrim, do your duty.”
“At least, Miriam,” Caleb went on, humbly, for her bitter words, unjust as they were in part, seemed to crush him, “at least, I strove my best for you to-day—after I found time to think.”
“Yes,” she answered, “to think that other lions would get the lamb which you chance to desire for yourself.”
“More,” he continued, taking no note. “I have made a plan.”
“A plan to do what?”
“To escape. If I give the signal on your way to the gate where I must lead you, you will be rescued by certain friends of mine who will hide you in a place of safety, while I, the officer, shall seem to be cut down. Afterwards I can join you and under cover of the night, by a way of which I know, we will fly together.”