Samson Betrayed

Delilah listened in silence, but her heart exulted within her, eager as a vulture for blood, for she knew of a certainty that Samson had told her the whole truth and had kept nothing back. She dried her tears, and smiled at him fondly, clasping his hands. The night beyond the windows was utterly still. Not an owl called, or jackal wailed.

Next day she herself hastened in secret to the prince of the Philistines who was governor of the city of Gaza. ‘I am come, and alone,’ she said, drawing aside the veil over her face; ‘and of thy life let no man hear of it. Have patience yet once more. Let the men be in their hiding-place to-morrow as soon as night has fallen, and let them bring with them the money that has been promised me. Many times has this Hebrew Samson cheated me in the past, but if I have not this time decoyed his secret out of him for good and all, then let them bring fire too, and burn my roof-tree over my head. Ay, and make ashes of a woman deceived! But do thou assure thyself that not a word be spoken of this; have patience; all is well.’

When the morrow night was come, Samson and Delilah supped again together. She had made ready of her best, dainties and delicacies from the palace of the Philistine lord, fruit and wines and flowers. And it seemed to Samson that never had Delilah loved him as now she loved him. His misgivings and remorse died down in him, and he was comforted; and being weary he laid his head down upon her lap. And singing under her breath an old childish lullaby, Delilah soothed Samson to sleep.

When by his deep and placid breathing she knew that slumber lay heavy upon him, she stayed her singing, and called softly to the man that was in wait in the inner chamber to come into the room. And as she herself directed him, he sheared off one by one the seven heavy braided wheat-brown locks of hair on Samson’s head as it lay within her lap. But though an evil bitterer even than death itself was creeping upon him, he was lost to the world and did not so much as even stir in his dreams.

When the barber had taken himself off, Delilah gently drew in a pillow beneath Samson’s head, and so, little by little, withdrew herself. Then she rose, and with lamp shaded in her hand, stood looking down upon him, shorn of his hair, and now muttering uneasily in his sleep. She shivered with horror and hatred to see his shaven head, and drew in a deep sighing breath. Then narrowing her eyes and stooping a little, she almost laughed aloud. ‘Peace, fool,’ she muttered as though to herself, and taking a pace or two backwards, she snatched up one of the thongs that still lay there, and lashing the sleeper she cried in a shrill and frenzied voice: ‘Wake, O, wake! Arouse thee, sluggard! Samson! Rouse thee! Thy God is in need of thee! The Philistines be upon thee, Samson!’ And yet again she smote him with the thong.

The words echoed into his mind as though from out of a vast and hollow sepulchre. Dreadful shapes swarmed out upon him in his dreams. He groaned and turned heavily in his sleep. But presently as she watched, intent, he stirred again and he raised his head, his eyes opened, and dazed and trembling, he peered stealthily about him. In the light of her lamp Delilah smiled on him, but there was no meaning in her smile, and Samson stared on at her as though he could not assure himself who this woman was.

But gradually the full meaning of her cry broke in upon him. He sat up, his eyes still fixed on her, in wonder of what cold horror had stolen into his blood.

‘I will arise now,’ he whispered to himself, ‘and shake myself as at other times.’ He laboured heavily to his feet, but endeavoured in vain to rid himself of the deadly weakness and languor that had come upon him. He put out his hand towards Delilah as naturally as a child to its mother, for his mind was still numb with sleep.

Then he lifted his head, and at the same moment perceived the woman cat-like and smiling, and the liers-in-wait that spied in upon him from the inner chamber. With a lamentable cry like that of a beast wounded to death, he leapt towards them, but stumbled and fell, rose up and fell again, and knew that all was lost.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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