smoke of a burning mountain, by the sombre pillar of fire that was the abiding-place of the angel of the Lord.

Perplexed, and apprehensive of what this unearthly apparition in the heavens might portend, the captain in command of the chariots sent out scouts to reconnoitre. They faded from view in the mounded obscurity of the desert, but only one of them returned to him alive, wounded and terrified, and with nought but his tongue-stump wherewith to speak. Pharaoh’s urgent orders in mind, the captain of the vanguard hesitated, but at length, after consultation with his officers, and confident that he had the Hebrews in his power, since their flight was now cut off by the sea, he determined to advance no further in the darkness, but to attack at dawn. His men and his horses were hard spent and needed a brief respite. All that night long the Egyptians came no nearer.

But with sunset a wind from between east and north had begun to rise, trumpeting mournfully between earth and sky. In the cold of the dark it steadily increased in force and at last grew exceeding strong. It roared under the night, burdened with whispering sand, beneath a sky wildly brilliant with stars, and, in the small hours, lit with the beams of the waning moon.

Sleep came but fitfully to those huddled together about their watch-fires. The women lay in terror of the tumult, clasping their little ones to their breasts, soothing their cries. Yet this was the wind of their great mercy, for in its vehemency it drove back the tumultuous fast-ebbing tide of the sea towards the south- west until its very bed was exposed beneath the stars, and where had been water was now land.

Thus the wind continued to blow in the cloudless dusk of the now dwindling moon, and in the watch that comes before morning the whole host was aroused. Even the children who were old enough to walk and who had been slumbering peacefully, lapped warm against the cold, were awakened. And behold, when they looked out towards where at sunset had been the tumbling billows of the sea, there lay before them a mile-wide ford stretching across from shore to shore. The whole hidden desolate channel of the sea lay exposed, and beckoned them on.

The watch-fires of Israel had burned low, and were now heaped high with fuel, to deceive what spies might be lurking behind them. Strict orders had been given that all voices and sounds be hushed. In silence the men drew together in their ranks and companies, and at about the beginning of the last watch of the night they began to move forward. Leading on their timid flocks and their herds and their beasts of burden, they descended the gently sloping sands that had margined the flood-tide the night before, and advanced on to the wind-swept floor of the sea, its salty boulder-strown sands faintly glimmering in the moonlight and the wan of day.

Thus the whole multitude of Israel, with their women and their children in their midst, pressed onward. But for the occasional bleating and lowing of their beasts, the wailing of an infant and the plashing of foot and hoof in the oozy sands and shallow pools of brine between the rocks, they marched in a profound silence, marvelling as they went, and filled with a wild elation between joy and fear at this miracle of the Lord.

And when the main body of them had reached the eastern shore, then the rearguard who had kept watch on the western shore, followed after them with all dispatch. And in the first crystal of daybreak the pillar of cloud and fire was seen to be in front of them in the wilderness beyond the sea. There they halted.

Roving tribesmen of the desert a little before dawn came to the commander of the chariots of Egypt to report this wonder. Utterly amazed and dismayed at news of it, he summoned his officers. The peril of Pharaoh’s wrath was on their heads, they dared not pause or consider. The trumpets sounded; the charioteers and bowmen leapt to their stations; the horses were harnessed; the advance began. So translucent were now the eastern skies that even at this distance they could see afar off the faint-gleaming ensign or standard of Moses beyond the further shore.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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