The black eyes of Florus glistened as he heard.
“Their names,” he said, snatching at his tablets. But as yet Caleb was not minded to give the names. First, he intimated that he desired to arrive at a formal agreement as to what proportion of the property, if recovered, would be handed over to him, the heir. Then followed much haggling; but in the end it was agreed that as he had been robbed because his father was supposed to favour the Romans, the lands and a large dwelling with warehouse attached, at Tyre, together with one-half the back rents, if recoverable, should be given to the plaintiff. The governor, or as he put it, Caesar, for his share was to retain the property in Jerusalem and the other half of the rents. In this arrangement Caleb proved himself, as usual, prescient. Houses, as he explained afterwards, could be burned or pulled down, but beyond the crops on it, land no man could injure. Then, after the agreement had been duly signed and witnessed, he gave the names, bringing forward good testimony to prove all that he had said.
Within a week those Jews who had committed the theft, or their descendants, were in prison, whence they did not emerge till they had been stripped, not only of the stolen property, but of everything else that they possessed. Either because he was pleased at so great and unexpected a harvest, or perhaps for the reason that he saw in Caleb an able fellow who might be useful in the future, Florus fulfilled his bargain with him to the letter.
Thus it came about that by a strange turn of the wheel of chance, within a month of his flight from the colony of the Essenes, Caleb, the outcast orphan, with his neck in danger of the sword, became a man of influence, having great possessions. His sun had risen indeed.
A while later Caleb, no longer a solitary wanderer with only his feet to carry him, his staff to protect him, and a wallet to supply him with food, but a young and gallant gentleman, well-armed, clad in furs and a purple cloak, accompanied by servants and riding a splendid horse, once more passed the walls of Jerusalem. On the rising ground beyond the Damascus gate he halted and looked back at the glorious city with her crowded streets, her mighty towers, her luxurious palaces, and her world-famed temple that dominated all, which from here seemed as a mountain covered with snow and crowned with glittering gold.
“I will rule there when the Romans have been driven out,” he said to himself, for already Caleb had grown very ambitious. Indeed, the wealth and the place that had come to him so suddenly, with which many men would have been satisfied, did but serve to increase his appetite for power, fame, and all good things. To him this money was but a stepping-stone to greater fortunes.
Caleb was journeying to Tyre to take possession of his house there, which the Roman commander of the district had been bidden to hand over to him. Also he had another object. At Tyre dwelt the old Jew, Benoni, who was Miriam’s grandfather, as he had discovered years before; for when they were still children together she had told him all her story. This Benoni, for reasons of his own, he desired to see.