have we any inkling of how this came about. But we have brought it back with us, with other money to buy food, and here it is.’

Joseph’s steward answered them courteously and reassured them: ‘All is well. There is nothing to fear. Surely it cannot but have been the will of your God, and of the God of your fathers, that this treasure came to be hidden in your sacks? Of my own knowledge you paid the full price for your corn, and I have a record to prove it so.’

Then he brought Simeon to them, and himself led them within to where they could refresh themselves and prepare for the coming of Joseph. He gave them water to wash their feet, and their asses were fed and watered. There, with hearts renewed, they made ready the present they had brought with them, the aromatic gums and spices, the honey and pistachio nuts, for they had heard that Joseph would be returning at noon, and that they were to eat with him. They talked eagerly among themselves, marvelling at the splendour and strangeness of Joseph’s house, and wondering what was in store for them after the kindness that had been shown to them by the steward.

When Joseph came home, they were taken into his presence; and they bowed themselves and made obeisance. And they presented him with the gifts which they had brought with them from Canaan. And Joseph in thanking them almost bewrayed himself in his speech. The old words of delight evoked by a thousand memories sprang into his mind as he saw the familiar plaited baskets and breathed in the fragrance of the spices. But he stayed himself, and through his interpreter asked them of their welfare. ‘Is your father,’ he said, ‘the old man of whom you spoke to me, still alive, and in good health?’

‘Thy servant our father,’ they said, ‘is still alive and is well.’

Looking from one to the other, Joseph’s eyes rested at last on the face of his brother Benjamin, his own loved mother’s son.

‘Is this, then,’ he said, ‘the younger brother whom you told me of? You have done well to bring him with you.’

He gazed long at Benjamin. ‘May God,’ he said, ‘be gracious unto thee, my son.’ But the words faltered on his lips, and he turned away in haste, for his heart yearned for Benjamin and he could not keep back his tears. He went into his own chamber alone, and wept there. And when he had grown calmer, he rose and washed his face, and returned to them again, restraining himself.

He signed to his steward that the feast should be served, and the whole company gathered there sat down to eat. His own place at the feast was set apart by reason of his dignity and lordship in Egypt. His officers and attendants and other guests also sate together apart; for the Egyptians might not eat of the same dish with the Hebrews; it was forbidden by their priests and their religion.

As for his brothers, Joseph himself arranged the order in which they should sit before him, from Reuben, the firstborn, according to his birthright, to Benjamin, the youngest, according to his youth. At this they gazed at one another in astonishment, marvelling how he had divined their ages, for he had seated them in order of age without a single mistake. And now the feast began. The air was sweet with the fragrance of flowers. There were fruits and meats and wines in all abundance, and they drank out of goblets of glass, a thing they had never seen before.

And as was the custom in Egypt, Joseph chose from the dishes set before him, and sent them by the hands of his servants to his brothers—honouring them as his guests. But the dainties he sent to Benjamin were five times as many as to any of the others; and they ate and drank and feasted with Joseph, and were merry.

And while they sate feasting, Joseph spoke with his steward. ‘Let these men’s sacks,’ he said, ‘be filled with corn to the utmost their beasts can carry. And in the sack of the youngest of them—whom you see

  By PanEris using Melati.

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