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thou art one of such, and of evil intent, through the wood one bearing a staff, and as the demon Venus, or a woman like the leading a mule, on which was seated a mother who bare me. And the lady wojpan, that was near upto her hour and answered :

moaning piteously. And they were poor “My name is Magdalen. I am a prin- folk and travel-stained. cess and a courtesan, and the fairest wom- And the man said to Hilarion : My an that ever be. All day the princes and name is Joseph. I am a carpenter from kings of the earth have brought gifts to the city of Nazareth, and my wife is called my house, and hung wreaths on my roof, Mary, and she is in travail. Suffer thou and strewed flowers in my yard ; and the us to rest, and my wife to lie on the straw poets all day have song to their lutes, and of the stable.” all have lain groaning at my gates at night ; And Hilarion said You are welcome. for I am beautiful beyond all creatures. Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini," But I seek one more beautiful than my. and Hilarion laid down more fern and self, and go searching my master by the hay, and gave provender to the mule. lakes and the rivers.

And the woman's hour came, and she was And Hilarion made answer.

delivered of a male child. And Hilarion Tarry thou here, and thou shalt see, took it and laid it in the manger.

And if I mistake not, him whom thou seekest. he went forth into the woods and found

And the lady, whose name was Magda- the ancient wizard Hieronymus, and the len, tarried by the river and built herself lady Magdalen, and said : a cabin of reeds and leaves. And that Come with me to the ruined house, night was the longest and coldest of the for truly there is He whom you be seekwinter. And Hilarion made for himself a ing.” bed of fern and hay in the stable of the And they followed him to the ruined ox and the ass ; and lay close to them for house where the fir-trees were cleared warmth. And lo ! in the middle of the above the river ; and they saw the babe night, the ass brayed and the ox bellowed, lying in the manger, and Hieronymus and and Hilarion started up. And he saw the Magdalen kneeled down, saying, Surely heavens

open with a great brightness as of this is He that is our Master, for He is beaten and fretted gold, and angels com- wiser and more fair than either." ing and going, and holding each other by And the skies opened, and there came the hand, and wreathed in roses, and sing forth angels, such as Hilarion had seen, ing“ Gloria in Excelsis Deo, et in terra with glories of solid gold round their pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis. And heads, and garlands of roses about their Hilarion wondered and said ten Paters and necks, and they took hands and danced, ten Aves.

and sang, flying up :

- Gloria in Excelsis And that day, toward noon,

there came






BY A, MARY F. ROBINSON (MADAME DARMESTETER). The snowflakes fluttered down outside gathered almost to the knee, and a wheelthe window as big as butterflies. Vera ing umbrella inadequately sheltering each threw another log of oak upon the hearth. holy head. Suddenly down the quiet The dancing flames leaped up so brightly street there rang a clatter of hoofs. Three that the Mage opened again the volume cavalry officers, wrapped in their immense on his knee and began to decipher from gray-blue snowy mantles, rode along by right to left its large outlandish characters. the white wall under the overhanging Stella still hovered by the window and snow-laden branches of the convent garwatched the convent garden opposite, and den. the nuns, young and old, grotesquely hur- “Look !" cried Stella, her eyes biazing rying to church, with their wide skirts (you know how she fires up at the least


little thing, so that her humdrum life is you should see that they followed the one round of wild excitement). “ Did guiding of a star. you ever see anything half so fine ? Oh, “That is charming, Stella dear," said if I were a painter !--Cazin, for instance, Vera, smiling. " But would it not be a

even Merson--that is how I should little like the landscape you wanted me to paint the Three Kings !"

paint at Lapworth, you know, that morn"The Three Kings,' cried Vera, ing, with the willow-herb and mint smell. 66 what next ?!!

ing sweet by the river, and the wind sway. You think too much of their caps and ing the boughs continually from side to mantles,” said Stella. Το my mind, to side, and the bells ringing for church, and paint them in any strange disguise is to the indescribable feeling of peace and outrage all the values of feeling. They Sunday morning ?” must look no stranger to us than they Stella bas heard a good deal of that looked to the good people of Bethlehem ; famous landscape. She gave a desperate picturesque and different, but not impos- little sigh, and continued looking at her sible. Why should you put a gulf of cen- imaginary picture. turies between the spectators and the per- “ How tired you look, Stella !" cried sonages of a picture, when you wish to the Mage. Do come and sit down by convey, not an archæological statement, the fire in peace, you excitable child !" but a moment of emotion? The Three " What do you think of the Mages, Kings never were, and never ought to be, Mage ?” said Stella, drumming on the merely the æsthetic rococo creatures of window-pane, and looking as though a vision. I should have more sympathy scenes of unimaginable interest were passwith a man who painted them from the ing across the way in the quiet garden of Chinese Ambassadors in Portland Place ! the nuns. Who, after all, were the That, at any rate, would convey some Mages ?' meaning to the little boys in Goodge Come and sit down by the fire and I Street.

ill tell you, not perhaps who they were, “I scarce know which to admire the but what the people of Bethlehem thought more," laughed the Mage, “ your choice of them." of a public or your view of your sub- Who they

were ?

What they thought ?” cried Stella, eagerly. Oh, "continued Stella, loftily, do you mean to say there were really any " I should paint nothing extraordinary in such people ?”' their appearance. No leopards, no gold

Stella!!" cried Vera, in a warning chains, no crowns or plumes or roses. I voice. should just paint a quiet, white, Oriental- The Mage laughed. Vera says nothlooking street :-a lonely street, evidently ing and believes. Stella waxes enthusiasa lost corner, a suburb, where the rents are tic over her Three Kings, and hasn't the low, and there are trees over the garden faintest belief in their existence. Well, walls, the sort of street you might find Stella, once upon a time there were in the anywhere any time, but dignified by the East three kings. whiteness and the moonlit dusk. There

” said Vera, dreamily, I would place three indistinct muffled fig- were Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazzar."; ures, riding swiftly. You should not see "Balthazzar, Melchior, and Caspar,' a jewel on their coats, but you should corrected Stella. Don't

you remember notice in their faces a look of exaltation, we had three rabbits called after them ? submission, ecstasy. You should guess And they were kings of Tarsis, Sheba, and that they are riding to a predestined end, Nubia ; and the youngest was black.” and you should feel that they rude in a And the first was aged sixty, the secmysterious manner to fulfil the will of ond forty, and the youngest twenty years God.”

of age,” concluded the Mage. casy !" murmured Vera, who Oh really, Mage. Come, finish !” paints.

cried Stella. See, I will sit on the “And you should see,' continued fender-stool, and you shall tell us a story. Stella, solemnly -“ (chiefly in the rapt The Mage hummed, frowned a little, expression of their upturned faces, but also and began : A long tiine ago, more than faintly indicated for you on the horizon), thirty years before the Christ was born,


66 As for me,

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there was no king in Judæa. Hircan, the Jews. All gave way before them, and who had been king, had submitted to the for a year the Parthians and their Mages Romans, and reigned as Ethnarch on a remained with Aristogonus in Jerusalem. diminished throne. The people hated Pacorus, a gentle and a noble prince, adhim, although he was a Maccabee, of the ministered the country with a mercy that race elect, the royal blood ; for he had contrasted with the Roman rule. But called the Romans into Jerusalem. More- meanwhile Herod bad escaped. De had over,

his chief minister was an Edomite : fled to Rome. He returned with a legion. a man whose forefathers had been the idol. Two years of sieges and vain heroic batatrous heathen. The young son of this tles concluded the brief triumph of the man, Herod, was already more mighty Jews. Their Maccabee was put to death, than any true-born Jew.

and, in reward for his services, the Ro. So the bearts of the people were mans bestowed on Herod the Edomite the turned from Hircan and went out toward crown of Ethæarch of the Jews.a younger Maccabee, Aristogonus, nephew “And where do the Three Kings come of the Ēthnarch, who laid clain to be king in ??? asked Vera, sceptically. of the Jews. Escaped from a prison in to me they were four or five or six, with Rome, Aristogonus was the enemy of the a Triumvir and several Etbnarchs !" Romans. He journeyed froin court to And they came thirty years too soon,' court of the Syrian princes, layiog plan murmured Stella ; “but perhaps that's after plan for a national rising. So that just it." in their dreams the Jewish people, dis- The Mage smiled. enchanted with Hircan, impatient of the “Yes, that's it, Stella. And, Vera, Roman rule, took for their Deliverer their forgive me, I never meant you to underyoung prince in exile, restlessly wandering stand your kings should be exactly three. under Lebanon with Ptolemy, king of Three is the natural number of legend and Chalcide, or watching with king Marion tradition—the number the people would the ships that sail from Tyr.

instinctively fix upon when they began to There was one man whose duty it turn their fading memories into song or was to guard against the ambition of Aris- story. When Christ was born—I do not togonus-Mark Antony, the master of the mean when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, East. But in the winter he remembered but when in all the country side the news Cleopatra, and leaving Palestine but ill de- began to spread that there was among them fended, he hurried to the Nile. A great a miraculous youth who was the Messiah throb of hope thrilled the discontented come to save the Jews—when Cbrist was courts of Syria.

born ideally in the hearts of his country“They sent to the Parthian king of men, still in every village there remained Persia and called him into Palestine. The old men and women who had seen in their king's son, Pacorus, came in answer at the childhood the shining host of Pacorus. head of an army. Beside bim rode the The long reign of Herod, like a black Mages (three or more), robed in wbite, tract, divided that deliverer from this. girdled with the sacred girdle, and in their And when a new thrill of hope stirred in hands the sacerdotal wand. Behind them Judæa, and the friends of John and the streamed an endless host : Parthian knights family of Mary began to prophesy of the armed cap.d-pie in close-fitting chain ar- great deeds that should be wrought by mor, cloaked with purple, clasped with this divine and long-expected King of the pearl, plumes in their head-dress, and, Jews- the old people would remember the sewn into their garments, large, rudely great event of their youth, the hopes they cut, and moony gems. Gold and silver also had hoped, and the dreams they too caparisoned their horses. Such was the had dreamed, when the Army of Angels army that rode to save the Jews. Some came riding from the East, bringing gifts went by Galilee, others inade for Jerusa. to the true God and hope to Palestine. lem : all the roads of Palestine became It was easy for the people to do as familiar with the kings and wise men out the people always do-to shorten, to imof the East, riding to bring their gifts of personate—until the army of the Persian frankincense and gold and myrrh to the Temple of Jerusalem, riding to set upon Army of Angels," wrote the Pehlvi Jewish

' For the army of the Parthians was an his throne the unacknowledged King of chroniclers in the third century after Christ.

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prince became Three Kings—three Mages to share your views. But, once for all, rather-travelling from their Eastern coun- I would like you both to know that I betry to salute the Messiah. But you shake lieve just this : your head, Vera, and you have that ob- Hi When Jesus was born in Bethlehem stinate little malicious smile which, when of Judæa, in the days of Herod the king, we used to play at hide-and-seek, meant behold there came wise men from the East that the seeker was not' warm.' No, you to Jerusalem ; don't think I warm,' and very likely Saying, Where is he that is born you are right! But I fancy none the less King of the Jews ? For we have seen his that Stella understands what I mean by all star and are come to worship him. this wandering.'

“Of course Stella understands you !" "And lo! the star which they saw in cried Vera, earnestly. “She is already the East went before them, till it came and of your party, your new-fangled faction stood over where the young child was. who cannot let the truth alone, but must 66. And when they were come into the

rearranging it, explaining it away, house, they saw the young child with Mary when it was so divine and simple before his mother, and fell down and worshipped you touched it !

Stella wants to make it him, and when they had opened their treaspretty with the fashionable prettiness of ures, they presented him with gifts ; gold, Merson or Cazin. You, I suppose, want and frankincense, and myrrh.' to make it true (or make it false, which ?) " That is what I believe, and no more by your historical evidence. I wonder than that ; and I do not see that any of you don't send a report upon it to some your far.cies are one hundredth part as learned society! You would dare to believe moving as that simple narration. The in it then. You can't see, poor friends, three wise men-wise with the lore of the that it is beautiful and true because it is East-kings, perhaps, in their own counthe word of God; more beautiful, more try, though I do not remember any verse true than anything you can possibly in that says so, who have read in their stars vent. You make ne inclined to laugh of a at King's nativity, and have come with your stories of Parthians and Mac- so far to find him. But in the king's cabees ! Do you suppose I want an ex- palace he is not, nor in the capital ; and as cuse to believe in the Bible ? If God says they are returning homeward, over the stable three wise men caine from the East, that in a lonely village they see the star they is clear enough. So it happened, and noticed in the East, and they rejoice thereat there is no need of any explanation." exceedingly. And, never doubting, they

' You are begging the whole question enter the stable. Within they find some of Revelation,” said Stella, quickly. quite poor, common people, travel-stained

“ I am sure I am very sorry if I hurt and shabby, sleeping among the cattle : an your feelings, Vera," the Mage began, old carpenter, his young wife, and a newwith some timidity.

born child. And they do not hesitate for “ Not in the least !" cried Vera, with a moment; they know that this is the shining eyes.

King, this babe in a manger; so, undoing “But I can't see how you can object their treasure, they present their royal gifts to my theory,” he went on. “ The firm. to him, and fall and worship before him. est Christian may admit the element of Have you ever realized what fantastic Don poetry, of fancy, inseparable from any Quixotes these wise men must have apstory that has lain long unwritten in the reared to the other villagers of Bethlehands of Oriental populations, who trans- hem? Or the danger in which they put mute it unawares in the crucible of their their lives, so that they dared not go home imagination."

through Jerusalem, out of fear of King " He would be a very scandalous Chris- Herod, but had to seek their country by tian,” cried Vera, “who admitted any- another way

? They, at any rate, did not thing of the sort ! Once begin there and wait for historical evidence! They did the end is infidelity. As for me, I pray not wish their Saviour dressed up in any you to lend me none of your admissions. picturesque or striking fashion ! But, disI should never have spoken on this subject daining everything that experience could if you

and Stella had not carried it so far teach, and the common sense of the multi. that not to disagree with you is to appear tude, and the danger and apparent folly of


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their conduct, they worshipped the Heav. discussing! We are not going the same enly King as they found him, asked no We are going different roads from questions, suggested no alterations, and the same point. We can never meet.” attempted no explanation,

There was an instant's silence in the Vera stopped suddenly, with an effort of room. self-control. It was evident that she had And Stella ?'' said the Mage : “Stella in her heart a great deal more to say.

says nothing ?The Mage looked at her for a moment In fact, Stella—who is always very silent with affectionate admiration.

when she is not very excited—Stella bad “You do not suppose that I should pre- fallen into a brown study, and appeared sume to answer you? In fact, there is no to hear neither of them. She was sitting

I seek the truth; you are sure on the little stool, her cheek on one hand, that you have found it. And, after all, looking into the fire with a far-away gaze, what is truth save a thing we appear to while with the fingers of her left hand she have ascertained ? The revelation of the drummed out some monotonous, inaudible Nativity is true to you ; if it be not true rhythm upon the brass rail of the fender. to me, I will not say that my

disbelief is Oh, Stella is like Gallio !” laughed evidence of its untruth.”

Vera, a little bitterly. You will not say so," said Vera, No,'

” said Stella, simply, “I was softly, coldly; " no, you would not hurt only making a ballad.” my feelings.

“Let us have it-your ballad !” cried " And you would do wrong to be hurt,” the Mage with an accent of relief. continued the Mage, “since belief or un

• If you like," said Stella ;

66 but it's belief is not an act of will. It is good to very rough—not quite finished. You believe ; it is a source of courage, endur- must consider that I am a Rhapsodist, ance, action, love.

And the sentiment re- come in out of the snow, a little hoarse, mains eternally the same, but the object and that you have nothing better to do changes, or appears to change. Prometheus than to sit in the wide draughty chimneyand Socrates, Christ and Bouddha, Galileo, corner, wrapped in your mantles, and listen the Smithfield martyrs and Giordano to me telling stories in the firelit dusk.” Bruno suffered for different truths. But “ That is rather a classic beginning,' their force and example are the same

said the Mage. they suffered for the Truth! They be- " The ballad is not classic at all,” anlieved! If by my dryasdust, practical, and swered Stella. earthly ways I can discover for myself and If

you are going to tell it, please bemine (who no longer believe with you) a gin at once,” cried Vera, who did not truth in which to believe, for which to love care for poetry, but liked anything better and do, and suffer-you should not look than discussion. upon me as an antagonist, but as an ally ; “Very well,” said Stella ; "it's called, we go the same road, although we halt at of course, different stations. We are leagued against the inertia, the deadness, the indifference

THE THREE KINGS. of the Spirit who denies'

Three kings went riding from the East “ That is all very fine,” observed Vera, Through fine weather and wet ; “ very fine and new and cosmopolitan, no " And whither shall we ride," they said, doubt ; but how can I consider as an ally

“ Where we ha' not ridden yet?”. the person who in my eyes becomes an

Any whither shall we ride,” they said, idolater so soon as he ceases to be an athe

To find the hidden thing ist ? No, I can look upon him with love That turns the course of all our stars and pity, as a blind man whose eyes

Christ And all our auguring ?" will open in his own good time, and per

They were the Wise Men of the East, haps one instant sooner through my pray

And none so wise as they ; ers!—I can believe him unconscious, almost Alas !" the King of Persia cried, innocent, enveloped for a span in a mist of “And must ye ride away? invincible ignorance. But if you expect

“ Yet since ye go a-riding, sirs, me to abet him in his delusion, you only

I pray ye, ride for me, prove yourself incapable of seeing things

And carry me my golden gifts from my point of view. But it is useless To the King o' Galileo.

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