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PAUL OF TARSUS
 To
Julius Harrison
{75}
PAUL had finished his day’s work at the quay-side of Thessalonica unloading a cargo of timber, and now sat watching two young men, followers of Christ and dear friends of his own, who, naked to the waist, were washing the day’s sweat and dirt from their arms and faces. They were Greeks—handsome, athletic, and full of gaiety.
“Art thou tired, Master?” asked the younger of the two, walking up to the great traveller and preacher and offering him a wet cloth for his face.
“What—with this kind of work?” said Paul, smiling. “Thou thinkest I am old and weak, I know,” he added, taking the cloth from his young friend and pressing it gratefully against his bared throat.
“No, dear Father, I don’t.... I will sit by thy side until Aristarchus has finished cleansing himself.... Father, I want to ask thee something.”
“Well, my son: ask.”
But the young man stared across the sea to Olympus and would not speak. Paul, divining the mood that was upon him, touched his arm gently.
“Ask me any time, my son.” Then he added eagerly and with some passion: “Hast thou told Aristarchus thou wishest to marry?”
“Marry?”
The young man laughed nervously and self-consciously.
“Father, I might have known thou wouldst guess,” he said. “No, I have not told Aristarchus. I have told no one: not even her.”
“And it is ab{76}out her thou wishest to speak with me?”
“Yes, Father, it is,” answered Lycastus.
But again he sat silent, not being able to speak one single word; and presently Aristarchus came over to them, his bronzed face wet, his neck and arms bare.
“Jason will be expecting thee,” he said to Paul.
“Yes,” assented Paul. “And thou, Aristarchus? Whither art thou going?”
“I am going home to my wife and little son to talk of Jesus Christ. But I will walk some way with thee, Master,” he said. “Come, Jason will have his food spread for thee, and, I doubt not, some wine for thy tired body.”
“Aristarchus, thou knowest I am not tired,” said Paul, reproachfully, “it is only here that I am weary,” he added, placing his hand against his heart. “Come, Lycastus and Aristarchus, we will walk together.”
But though Paul had protested that he was not weary, he walked half a pace behind the young men and placed a heavy hand on the shoulder of Aristarchus. They walked in a westerly direction, towards the marshy mouth of the great river, and when they were clear of the city walls, they slackened their pace. Already the air was cooler, for the evening was coming and the sun was now sliced across by the horizon. Olympus, in a delicate mist, burned milkily like an opal.
“Aristarchus,” said Paul a little absently, “{77}Lycastus has something to tell thee.”
But Lycastus, hanging his head, did not speak.
“Lycastus, what is it?” asked Aristarchus. “But I see how it is with thee. Thou art shy. Thou art in love and thou wishest to marry.”
He laughed a little.
Lycastus placed his arm for a moment on the arm of his friend.
“Thou knowest also? Who told thee?”
“Thyself. Has he not told us, Master? Thou hast been very happy these last weeks, Lycastus, and sometimes thou hast been sunk deeply in moods of the sweetest misery. And sometimes the blood has come quickly to thy cheeks for no reason that I could see, and has gone as quickly as it came. It is only a maid who does that to a man. What is her name?”
“Her name is Drusilla.”
“And she loves thee?” asked Aristarchus, encouragingly.
“I think she does. I have prayed that she may.”
They walked on in silence for a little while, Paul’s eyes bent on the ground.
“What dost thou say of it, dear Father?” asked Lycastus, timidly.
“If thou hast been praying to Jesus Christ and He has helped thee, what can I say? Those who must marry must marry. But I shall lose thee as I have lost Aristarchus.”
“Oh, Master: thou knowest well thou hast not lost me!” exclaimed Aristarchus, reproachfully. “We love and serve the same God. It was you, Master, who gave Jesus to me and I still have Jesus.”{78}
“Nevertheless, thou hast gone from me. I feel thou hast. Thy wife has—stolen thee.”
Aristarchus, angry and resentful, moved a little away from Paul so that Paul’s hand slipped from his shoulder and his arm fell dead and limp.
“It is not true, Master,” he said.
“No, dear Father, it is not true,” urged Lycastus.
“Only I,” said Paul, “can know who are those who dwell in my heart, and thou, Aristarchus, are not one of them.... But here I leave thee. This road on our left is mine and, as thou hast reminded me, Jason will be waiting for me.”
The three men stopped at the cross-roads in the dusk. It was the short time of half-light. The sky in the east was the green of apples, and in the west it was like the red of the pomegranate’s fruit. All three men were disturbed and sad. Aristarchus, so loyal and patient, felt his anger melt suddenly: the something hard in his bosom softened and went.
“Come, Master,” he said, “come to my home. Come and speak with my wife. Thou dost not know her because thou wilt not.”
“But, Jason will be....” began Paul, the words dying on his lips.
“Go with him, dear Father,” urged Lycastus, “I will come with thee.”
So Paul turned without a word and went with his young friends, but the dark look on his face matched the dark shadow that, from the northern mountains, was swallowing up this land.{79}
It was but a short way to the house of Aristarchus, and as they entered the little stone dwelling they found a woman awaiting them. Aristarchus saluted his wife with a kiss, placing his hands one on each shoulder.
“Master, this is my wife, and here, Philyra, is Paul of Tarsus of whom thou hast heard me tell so many times.”
“Welcome, Master,” she said, and she pressed herself against the doorway to let him pass.
Inside there was but little light. The son of Aristarchus and Philyra was asleep in a wooden cradle on the floor near the centre of the room. On a table near by were wine and food.
“Thou wilt sit and drink, Master?” asked Philyra.
But Paul waved her aside and remained standing.
The child woke and, seeing his father, said some little words. He was fair, like his tender, beautiful mother. As Aristarchus moved forward to greet his son, Lycastus pulled his garment, but Aristarchus, paying no heed, walked to the crude cradle he had made, and bent over his babe. He gave the child his finger to play with, and lingered by him a moment or two.
“Didst thou finish thy work?” inquired Philyra, abashed yet very eager.
“Yes. It was very hot. Our Master has come to talk with us, Philyra. Thou wilt sit, Master?”
“No,” answered Paul, “{80}I came for but a minute. Jason awaits me. And I would be alone. Farewell!”
“Stay, Master, stay!” cried Philyra. “I have heard thee talk of Christ—many times I have heard thee in the market.”
She shrank a little after she had spoken, afraid that she had said what should have been left to others.
Paul looked at her kindly, but with no trust in his eyes.
“Thy son has been baptized?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. Indeed, yes,” she answered.
“And thou and Aristarchus are already followers of Christ! Why, then, should I linger? So many are unsaved.”
“I think,” said Lycastus, “some men and some women want support in their faith. When the light is withdrawn, there is darkness.”
“Put not thy faith in man, Lycastus,” said Paul, sternly. “Light proceeds from God, and God never withdraws Himself.”
“Then if thou art not the light,” said Philyra in a whisper, “thou art the lamp that shields the light, that keeps it burning—for us.”
But Paul’s dark face remained dark, and when the child in the cradle began again to speak little words, the great teacher turned to go. He withdrew very silently, saying only, “Farewell!” as he reached the door. As he disappeared, Lycastus asked Aristarchus a question with his eyebrows, and, in reply, Aristarchus gravely lowered his head.
So Lycastus followed Paul into the night which by now had come{81}. He could see his Master outlined against the thick stars. Paul was walking slowly; his heavy frame was bent, and his robe trailed in the dust. Lycastus, fearing to incur his anger, walked some paces behind his Master, and his sandalled feet stepped warily.
He loved Paul dearly, and to-night his heart ached for him and his conscience smote him. But so full of tenderness is the heart of man, and so sweetly selfish is man’s love for woman, that in a very short time he had forgotten his Master and, in imagination, Drusilla walked by his side, her slender fingers in his, her head on his heart. For Lycastus was never alone. As soon as he was withdrawn from others, Drusilla was with him. To-night the stars were in her hair, and the little breeze was her breath. And he fell to thinking of the house they would share and of the babe that would be born to them, and in his heart of hearts he knew that what Paul had said was true. Paul had lost Aristarchus, and Lycastus soon would be lost to him also.
“It must be so! It is right it should be so!” said Lycastus to himself.
Yet he felt sad when he thought of Paul, and he sought in his mind for something he could say or do to comfort him.
Presently they were at the cross-roads. Paul stopped, turned, and saw his young friend approaching. But he would not return Lycastus’ greeting; instead, he stood firm and rigid, his thick neck and noble head immovable. The wild eyes had in them light that was not borrowed from the stars.{82}
“Pass on!” he said. “Trouble me not!”
So Lycastus passed on to his home and, ere he had unloosened his robe, had forgotten Paul and was already dreaming of Drusilla and the glad days to come.


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