Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/71

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BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST.


they told their story; and through the town, and all the way back to the marah, they chanted the refrain of the angels, " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men !"

The story went abroad, confirmed by the light so gener ally seen; and the next day, and for days thereafter, the cave was visited by curious crowds, of whom some be lieved, though the greater part laughed and mocked.


CHAPTER XII.

The eleventh day after the birth of the child in the cave, about mid-afternoon, the three wise men approached Jeru salem by the road from Shechem. After crossing Brook Cedron, they met many people, of whom none failed to stop and look after them curiously.

Judea was of necessity an international thoroughfare; a narrow ridge, raised, apparently, by the pressure of the desert on the east, and the sea on the west, was all she could claim to be; over the ridge, however, nature had stretched the line of trade between the east and the south; and that was her wealth. In other words, the riches of Jerusalem were the tolls she levied on passing commerce. Nowhere else, consequently, unless in Rome, was there such constant assemblage of so many people of so many different nations; in no other city was a stranger less strange to the residents than within her walls and purlieus. And yet these three men excited the wonder of all whom they met on the way to the gates.

A child belonging to some women sitting by the road side opposite the Tombs of the Kings saw the party coming; immediately it clapped its hands, and cried, "Look, look! What pretty bells! What big camels !"

The bells were silver; the camels, as we have seen, were of unusual size and whiteness, and moved with singular statoliness ; the trappings told of the desert and of long journeys thereon, and also of ample means in possession of the owners, who sat under the little canopies exactly as they appeared at the rendezvous beyond the Jebel. Yet it was