Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/64

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at a height immeasurably beyond the nearest stars, and dropping obliquely to the earth ; at its top, a diminishing point; at its base, many furlongs in width ; its sides blending s6ftly with the darkness of the night; its core a rose ate electrical splendor. The apparition seemed to rest on the nearest mountain southeast of the town, making a pale corona along the line of the summit. The khan was touched luminously, so that those upon the roof saw each other s faces, all filled with wonder.

Steadily, through minutes, the ray lingered, and then the wonder changed to awe and fear; the timid trembled; the boldest spoke in whispers.

" Saw you ever the like ?" asked one.

" It seems just over the mountain there. I cannot tell what it is, nor did I ever see anything like it," was the answer.

" Can it be that a star has burst and fallen ?" asked another, his tongue faltering.

" When a star falls, its light goes out."

" I have it !" cried one, confidently. " The shepherds have seen a lion, and made fires to keep him from the flocks."

The men next the speaker drew a breath of relief, and said, " Yes, that is it ! The flocks were grazing in the valley over there to~day."

A bystander dispelled the comfort.

" No, no ! Though all the wood in all the valleys of Judah was brought together in one pile and fired, the blaze would not throw a light so strong and high."

After that there was silence on the house-top, broken but once again while the mystery continued.

" Brethren !" exclaimed a Jew of venerable mien, " what we see is the ladder our father Jacob saw in his dream. B essed be the Lord God of our fathers !"


A mile and a half, it may be two miles, southeast of Bethlehem, there is a plain separated from the town by an