But, Pilate dear, you know, I was thinking about that insurrection last week. What could have made them rise up like that all of a sudden?”
“It did seem rather sudden. They were peaceful one moment and shouting the next.”
“I was wondering whether Herod might not have had something to do with it.”
“Procla, dear, you don't really think—?”
“It is possible, you know. He did seem rather upset when he left here the last time.”
“Yes, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.”
“At least it will be something to add to some of the letters.”
“I thought you were about finished with those letters.”
“I am, almost.”
“Well, do try to hurry. I'm getting nervous waiting.”
“Don't worry, dear. They'll be done soon.”
MEANWHILE, HEROD WAS arriving at his summer palace in the southwest corner of Jerusalem. He came for the Passover season, as was his yearly custom. This year, he brought a new wife. Despite his lifestyle, partaking of the Passover was to him a means of assuring God's blessing upon his life.
Manaheem, well aware of his foster-brother's habits, had no difficulty in locating him. The palace was located just south of the Joppa gate, on Mt. Zion. Parking his carriage and tying the horses to one of the trees that surrounded the palace, he swung open the heavy outer gate, and walked in, pulling the creaking gate closed behind him. He paid no attention to the guard who stood at attention immediately ahead of him, but marched squarely up the small flight of stairs at the right and headed straight toward the third door on the left, which he knew to be that of the royal bedchamber.
The guard, upon seeing the strange-looking man heading for the royal bedchamber, tried to stop him. “Where do you think you're going, sir?”
“Why to see my brother, the king, of course.”
“Sorry, no one is to be allowed in there.”
“Oh, yeah?” Manaheem, already at the door, leaned against it with all his strength, forcing it open. He happened to catch Herod and Herodias, sitting on the couch, in an amorous embrace.
The guard lunged for Manaheem, saying to Herod at the same time, “I'm sorry, your Majesty, I tried to stop him.”
The king motioned. “Ah, that's all right. Let my foster-brother stay, now that he has gone to all the trouble of finding me.” The guard left.
“Oh, it was no trouble at all, your Majesty. I remembered that you always spend Passover week here. I don't know why you are so strict about keeping the Passover and doing it in Jerusalem.”
“It adds to the blessing.”
“And that's why you do it? —to ensure Jehovah's blessing?”
“But how can you expect to have His blessing when you are persisting in a lifestyle which is clearly unpleasing to Him? Herodias is still Philip's wife, even if you did marry her.”
Herodias had been sitting quietly by, but at this last remark, she gave a start.
“What is this?!” Herod grimaced. “Have you got the spirit of John the Baptist, come back to haunt me?”
“No, dear foster-brother. I'm not a prophet, just an observer. But I have heard that there is a new prophet in town. I think his name is Jesus. He even does miracles.”
“Well, perhaps he is John the Baptist reincarnated. But, enough of this! Why did you come here tonight? State your business or be gone.”
“Why, Herod, dear, I thought you would know why I came. I came for the rest of my money, of course.”
“The rest of your money? For what? The insurrection was a failure.”
“Failure or not, I did my part and I expect to be paid.”
“Well, I expected the mission to succeed. I gave you your advance. That's enough. Why should I pay more for a failed venture? And besides, the uprising may have happened anyway, sooner or later, whether you engineered it or not.”
“That's beside the point. You wanted it done now. I did what you told me to, and I want my money.” Manaheem paused and stroked his mustache. “And I shall get my money and more. Yes! You'll pay up, and with interest, or I shall expose your part in this little plot."
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