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Georg Ebers
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 316 pages of information about Joshua Complete.

CHAPTER V.

It was midnight.  A fire was blazing in front of Hosea’s tent, and he sat alone before it, gazing mournfully now into the flames and anon over the distant country.  Inside the canvas walls Ephraim was lying on his uncle’s camp-bed.

The surgeon who attended the soldiers had bandaged the youth’s wounds, given him an invigorating cordial, and commanded him to keep still; for the violence with which the fever had attacked the lad alarmed him.

But in spite of the leech’s prescription Ephraim continued restless.  Sometimes Kasana’s image rose before his eyes, increasing the fever of his over-heated blood, sometimes he recalled the counsel to become a warrior like his uncle.  The advice seemed wise—­at least he tried to persuade himself that it was—­because it promised honor and fame, but in reality he wished to follow it because it would bring her for whom his soul yearned nearer to him.

Then his pride rose as he remembered the insults which she and her father had heaped on those to whom by every tie of blood and affection, he belonged.  His hand clenched as he thought of the ruined home of his grandfather, whom he had ever regarded one of the noblest of men.  Nor was his message forgotten.  Miriam had repeated it again and again, and his clear memory retained every syllable, for he had unweariedly iterated it to himself during his solitary walk to Tanis.  He was striving to do the same thing now but, ere he could finish, his mind always reverted to thoughts of Kasana.  The leech had told Hosea to forbid the sufferer to talk and, when the youth attempted to deliver his message, the uncle ordered him to keep silence.  Then the soldier arranged his pillow with a mother’s tenderness, gave him his medicine, and kissed him on the forehead.  At last he took his seat by the fire before the tent and only rose to give Ephraim a drink when he saw by the stars that an hour had passed.

The flames illumined Hosea’s bronzed features, revealing the countenance of a man who had confronted many a peril and vanquished all by steadfast perseverance and wise consideration.  His black eyes had an imperious look, and his full, firmly-compressed lips suggested a quick temper and, still more, the iron will of a resolute man.  His broad-shouldered form leaned against some lances thrust crosswise into the earth, and when he passed his strong hand through his thick black locks or smoothed his dark beard, and his eyes sparkled with ire, it was evident that his soul was stirred by conflicting emotions and that he stood on the threshold of a great resolve.  The lion was resting, but when he starts up, let his foes beware!

His soldiers had often compared their fearless, resolute leader, with his luxuriant hair, to the king of beasts, and as he now shook his fist, while the muscles of his bronzed arm swelled as though they would burst the gold armlet that encircled them, and his eyes flashed fire, his awe-inspiring mien did not invite approach.

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