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prepared and desire to meet all things as they come. You have sworn that
oath, have you not? And you will keep it, will you not?"
"Aye!" they answered with one breath.
"Then prepare you to feel the weight of the first of those trials
whereof it speaks, for I will no longer hold back the truth from you.
Children, I, whom for all these years you have thought of your own
faith, am a Jew as my forefathers were before me, back to the days
The effect of this declaration upon its hearers was remarkable. Peter's
jaw dropped, and for the second time that day his face went white; while
Margaret sank down into a chair that stood near by, and stared at him
helplessly. In those times it was a very terrible thing to be a Jew.
Castell looked from one to the other, and, feeling the insult of their
silence, grew angry.
"What!" he exclaimed in a bitter voice, "are you like all the others? Do
you scorn me also because I am of a race more ancient and honourable
than those of any of your mushroom lords and kings? You know my life:
say, what have I done wrong? Have I caught Christian children and
crucified them to death? Have I defrauded my neighbour or oppressed the
poor? Have I mocked your symbol of the Host? Have I conspired against
the rulers of this land? Have I been a false friend or a cruel father?
You shake your heads; then why do you stare at me as though I were a
thing accursed and unclean? Have I not a right to the faith of my
fathers? May I not worship God in my own fashion?" And he looked at
Peter, a challenge in his eyes. "Sir," answered Peter, "without a
doubt you may, or so it seems to me. But then, why for all these years
have you appeared to worship Him in ours?"
At this blunt question, so characteristic of the speaker, Castell seemed
to shrink like a pin-pricked bladder, or some bold fighter who has
suddenly received a sword-thrust in his vitals. All courage went out of
the man, his fiery eyes grew tame, he appeared to become visibly
smaller, and to put on something of the air of those mendicants of his
own race, who whine out their woes and beg alms of the passer-by. When
next he spoke, it was as a suppliant for merciful judgment at the hands
of his own child and her lover.
"Judge me not harshly," he said. "Think what it is to be a Jew--an
outcast, a thing that the lowest may spurn and spit at, one beyond the
law, one who can be hunted from land to land like a mad wolf, and
tortured to death, when caught, for the sport of gentle Christians, who
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