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John the Baptist was now at the height of his power and popularity. There was in Palestine a large element of the population who were dissatisfied with the rule of the Romans and the pretenses of the Jewish priests and scribes. They flocked to John because his preaching was impartially against all forms of hy
pocrisy and exaction. He was the idol of the common people. Many a man in power came to him for approval, in order to curry favor with the masses.
Even Herod and Herodias tried to gain his sanction of their acts. Heretofore he had given then no token of his approval; and one of the objects in sending Servius to was to find whether or not he would publicly sanction their marriage. If he refused to do so, it was their intention to force his approval by imprisonment and intimidation.
In accordance with the instructions given him, Servius departed with his cohort. John was now bap tizing not in the Jordan, but at Enon, near Salim. This was about thirty miles from Herod's palace. On the second day at noon, Servius and his men reached the place. Leaving his followers in hiding, he proceeded on foot and in the garb of a Jewish beggar, and joined the group surrounding the Baptist. As he approached, he saw a little cluster of men and women somewhat apart from the rest, eagerly discussing an important statement John had made. They had brought the information that Jesus was preaching, and His disciples were baptizing more converts than John.
A note of jealousy must have run through their report, for they were devoted followers of the Baptist, and looked with disapproval on what they regarded as the efforts of another to take his disciples from him.
perfect calmness, and in reply had John had received their report in said, "He must increase, but I must
It was this frank but to them distressing avowal that they discussed so eagerly as Servius approached. It seemed incomprehensible to them months of preaching, and with folthat John, after only a little over six lowers flocking to him, should anhim. But his statement had been so nounce that Jesus would superse le emphatic and unmistakeable that they could have no doubt of its meaning.
John had returned to his preaching and baptizing, and as usual the crowds were pressing about him, asking questions. Suddenly a strange voice cried out sharply, Dost thou approve them? they the peace thou promisest?"
"What of Herod and Herodias? Have
Everyone was startled but John. With perfect calmness but with the gravest firmness, he answered: "They have no part with the children of righteousness. Their sins are as scarlet; and until God giveth them repentance, His peace is not granted unto them."
Murmurs of approval arose from his followers; and Servius, the questioner, was regarded with mingled distrust and anger. He thought it prudent to withdraw quietly while the multitude hung on the words of John. He rejoined his band of sol
A few miles east of the Jordan River, in the province of Perea, Herod and Herodias had their summer home. A short distance from this palace, where the River Jordan flows sluggishly between dark and thickly wooded hills, enshrouded in oppressive gloom, stood the stern castle of Machærus, the strongest fortification aside from Jerusalem, in all Palestine. Two of its walls rose sheer from the water's edge; and another joined the frowning cliff. Approach was possible from one side only; and this was faced with strong portal and battlements. A donjon tower rose from the back walls, and here many a suspected foe of Rome had perished from neglect or violence. It was a proverb that one immersed in these gloomy depths never saw the light of day again. And the gruesome reputation was well earned.
To the palace John was to be taken, for Herodias was determined to see him before judgment was With reckless passed upon him. abandon, she posted herself at a window commanding the approach to the palace, to see if her impressions of John, gained from hearsay and her woman's intuition, were correct. As the cohort arrived with the prisoner, she gave a gasp of admiration. The face of John the Baptist, so strong, so sweetly dignified, so free from guile, so highly spiritual, appealed to this base,
gross woman by the very law of opposites. She was satisfied with her survey of him.
As the Baptist was being made ready for the audience, she went into her private room and arrayed herself in the most dazzling raiment she could find. Wherever she could heighten her charms by artificial means, she did so. And as she stepped into the audience chamber, even the men who had seen her before gained a new idea of the reason for her power to drag men down.
At length John was conducted into the room. Unaccustomed though he was to scenes of such magnificence, he gazed with the calm demeanor of a master soul on his brilliant surroundings. Unawed by the display, he was equally indifferent to the charms and the meaning glances of Herodias. In vain she tried to attract his gaze. He did not seem to see her. She applied the little arts that had won men to her will. He was indifferent. She spoke to him, at first caressing ly; he was silent; as her voice became more firm, he still remained immovable.
Her patience began to fail her, and she spoke with a tinge of sharpness. "What manner of man art thou?" And still he answered not. In mingled wonder and admiration she cried with some asperity, "Thou art answerable unto Cæsar, and here is Cæsar's representative. Wilt thou speak?" Yet there was no re
Herod's anger had been rising through the fruitless questioning, and he now broke in sharply: "Why art thou preaching sedition; the coming of the rival kingdom? Answer me, for I am Herod."
"My answer has been sent thee by
another," John answered, in a low, firm voice. "It is only this: Repent and prepare for the Kingdom of Heaven."
Herod rose to his feet, and with supreme passion fairly shouted the question, "Dost thou sanction my rule and my marriage with Herodias?"
To this vehement question John vouchsafed only the answer, "It is not lawful for thee to have her." Nor could he be induced by threats or cajolery to open his lips again.
"Take him to the torture!" exclaimed the exasperated Tetrarch. But before his command could be obeyed, he added, "But no. We have another fate for him. The darkness and the meagre fare of the dungeon of Macharus may loose his lips. We shall hear more of this matter."
As John was led away to his prison, he cast no look backward; nor did he deign to notice the arts by which Herodias continued to appeal to him until he left her presence. And soon he entered the gloomy dungeon, over the door of which might well have been inscribed, "Leave hope behind, all ye who enter here."
Herod's change of intention as to John's punishment was his way of courting the good opinion of the common people, who idolized Jolin. He knew that torture or death would arouse the anger of the populace, and probably hasten the ve y sedition he was trying to prevent. And he thought that the solitary confinement of the dungeon, whose gruesome fame had spread throughout Palestine, would subdue the Baptist's spirit and exact from him the wished-for acknowledgment. (TO BE CONTINUED.)
Prisoners charged with kidnapping and ordered to be cangue by court.
It is known as such because some representative of the several consulates sit each day with the Chinese magistrate. Visitors are welcome at the court, so we were soon esconced in a dark corner while we wondered what would happen next. The judge sat in the center of the room and looked rather dignified with his long robe and spectacles. Near him was the clerk who was busy writing. Two men stood against the wall on either side. They had on long black shiny capes, on their heads were tall red sugar
mode of handling them; if there are several prisoners he knots their cues together and pulls them along in a bunch. One of the prisoners without making any defense plead guilty to the charge of stealing. The magistrate gabbled off a Chinese jumble of words, and pointed to the prisoner who dropped to his knees on a small mat, exposing his thighs. The red crowned constables with the bamboo sticks approached, and one of them delivered twenty-five strokes on the bare flesh then rested. the other took up the work counting