Chapter Twelve

Demetrius entered into the market place, picking up a long stick as he went along. Calculating the day and the hour he took up a certain position in the marketplace, leveled a spot with his foot, then began to draw a pattern on the ground like well laid stones. in a wall. Barely had he finished than a Judaean was leaning against the wall by him.
2 "This is a strange pattern you draw on the ground," the Judaean commented. "What does it mean?"
3 "It is the wall I build around my Soul," the Roman answered, "that no evil thing may enter into it."
4 The Judaean nodded and continued. "I do hope this wall is built with the stones of faith, hope, and charity," he continued.
5 "They are," the Roman answered, "also laid therein are the stones of fellowship and sacred guidance."
6 "That is good," the Judaean continued with a smile. "What tools do you use to build this wall?"
7 Demetrius looked around to make sure that no one heard him. "The level of wisdom," he whispered, "the plumbline of truth, the square of understanding."
8 The Judaean bowed. "Welcome, brother," he announced. "I am James. By what light do you guide your Path?"
9 "By the Light of a Star," Demetrius answered.
10 James turned his back so no one could see, and saluted Demetrius. "Lord," he whispered, "never has one of The High Council made himself known to us. Whatever service I can provide, whatever comfort I can give are at your disposal."
11 "Right now," Demetrius answered, "I have but one need; the whereabouts of Him that is called Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary."
12 "Ah! That one!" James sighed. "Yes! We wondered how long it would be before someone came seeking Him. But you have just missed Him. He has left for the river Jordan, making it known that He intends to go down to the Baptist and be baptised."
13 "Then I must follow quicky," Demetrius announced. "Can you give me someone to show me the way? I must be there at that hour."
14 "Take the road to this end of the market," James told him. "Continue on, someone will overtake you to be your guide. He will bring food and water to fulfill your needs"
15 Without delay Demetrius took up pursuit of Jesus. His guide joined him, a pleasant young man called Saul, who was James' son.
16 It was late in the day that they overtook Jesus' party. Saul pointed Him out to Demetrius, and leaving the provisions, journeyed off, for he had business to do for his father near at hand.
17 Demetrius joined the company. Most of the Judaeans kept their distance because he was a Roman. As they made camp for the night he stayed separate from them, having his own provisions.
18 But when it came time to sleep Jesus beckoned him, saying, "Come, sir, it will be cold over there. There is a sheltered place, here, by me, out of the wind. Come and share it."
19 Demetrius came over, spreading his bedding. A young Hebrew on the other side of Jesus rose in disgust. "I will not," he cried, "sleep by a nonbeliever. I would rather be cold than be in the presence of a sinner."
20 The young man went off in a huff, complaining that Jesus was not one of them to invite a Roman, the enemy, to share their shelter. Demetrius and Jesus looked at each other with a mischievous smile.
21 In the morning as they awoke, Demetrius, being used to a soldier's life, was up earlier than the others, had freshened the fire before the others rose, and fetched fresh water from the spring, nearby. He saw the young Hebrew rising. He grabbed his sack from off the ground and angrily stuffed some things into it, then stood it up. As the sack rested, Demetrius saw movement in it. For a moment something poked out of it then again retreated within.
22 The young Hebrew looked around as if searching for something, then looked to the sack and started over for it. "NO!" Demetrius cried. His soldier's skills propelled him forward with great speed. He seized the young Hebrew, lifted him into the air, and threw him away.
23 As Demetrius turned back to the sack the serpent sprung from it, his venomous fangs reaching for Demetrius' arm. But the Roman was out of range. The fangs caught instead, in the sleeve of his cloak, Demetrius seized the deadly viper, pulled it free as it twisted and convulsed in its great rage.
24 Demetrius walked off into the brush and cast the serpent away. The young Hebrew stared at him from the ground in wonder. Jesus came over and helped him up.
25 "What is your name, man?" he asked.
26 "I am Andrew, sir," the man answered, "brother of Simon who is called Peter."
27 "Well, Andrew," Jesus continued, "the man you so despised last night just saved your life at the risk of his own. What think you now of unbelievers?"
28 The young man looked in great distress at all those about him. "I express my gratutude, sir," he finally answered, "at the man's kindness. For my rudeness and bad manners I express my apologies. Though he is not of my people I welcome him to our company, whatever the reason he travels with us."

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