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"Who is that maiden?" the tetrarch asked at last.
Herodias replied that she did not know, and her fierce demeanour suddenly changed to one of gentleness and amiability.
At the entrance to the castle the tetrarch was awaited by several Galileans, the master of the scribes, the chief of the land stewards, the manager of the salt mines, and a Jew from Babylon, commanding his troops of horse. As the tetrarch approached the group, he was greeted with respectful enthusiasm. Acknowledging the acclamations with a grave salute, he entered the castle.
As he proceeded along one of the corridors, Phanuel suddenly sprang from a corner and intercepted him.
"What! Art thou still here?" said the tetrarch in displeasure. "Thou seekest Iaokanann, no doubt."
"And thyself, my lord. I have something of great importance to tell thee."
At a sign from Antipas, the Essene followed him into a somewhat dark and gloomy room.
The daylight came faintly through a grated window. The walls were of a deep shade of crimson, so dark as to look almost black. At one end of the room stood an ebony bed, ornamented with bands of leather. A shield of gold, hanging at the head of the bed, shone like a sun in the obscurity of the apartment. Antipas crossed over to the couch and threw himself upon it in a half-reclining attitude, while Phanuel remained standing before him. Suddenly he raised one hand, and striking a commanding attitude said:
"At times, my lord, the Most High sends a message to the people through one of His sons. Iaokanann is one of these. If thou oppress him, thou shalt be punished!"
"But it is he that persecutes me!" exclaimed Antipas. "He asked me to do a thing that was impossible. Since then he has done nothing but revile me. And I was not severe with him when he began his abuse of me. But he had the hardihood to send various men from Machaerus to spread dissension and discontent throughout my domain. A curse upon him! Since he attacks me, I shall defend myself."
"Without doubt, he has expressed his anger with too much violence," Phanuel replied calmly. "But do not heed that further. He must be set free."
"One does not let loose a furious animal," said the tetrarch.
"Have no fear of him now," was the quick reply. "He will go straight to the Arabs, the Gauls, and the Scythians. His work must be extended to the uttermost ends of the earth."
For a moment Antipas appeared lost in thought, as one who sees a vision. Then he said:
"His power over men is indeed great. In spite of myself, I admire him!"
"Then set him free!"
But the tetrarch shook his head. He feared Herodias, Mannaeus, and unknown dangers.
Phanuel tried to persuade him, promising, as a guaranty of the honesty of his projects, the submission of the Essenians to the King. These poor people, clad only in linen, untameable in spite of severe treatment, endowed with the power to divine the future by reading the stars, had succeeded in commanding a certain degree of respect.
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