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things—a very great number of things. I remembered that it had seen one very curious thing, to wit:
A long time ago, when a certain Pharaoh-we can only guess which Pharaoh-ruled over Egypt, it saw a young man who had been sold into bondage from Syria rise in the king's favor through certain dreams and become his chief counsellor, even “ruler over all the land of Egypt.” It saw him in the height of his power and glory bring his family, who were Syrian shepherds, down from their barren hills and establish them in the favor of the Egyptian king. The Sphinx was old-a thousand years old, at least, even thenand, being wise, heard with certain curiosity their claim that they were a “chosen people,” and thoughtfully watched them multiply through a few brief centuries into a band of servitors who, because of this tradition, held themselves a race apart, repeating tales of a land of promise which they would some day inherit. Then at last, during a period of visitation, the Sphinx saw them escape, taking what they could lay their hands on, straggling away, with their families and their flocks, toward the Red Sea. The Sphinx heard nothing more of that tribe for about three thousand years.
Then an amazing thing happened. Among those who came to wonder at the Sphinx's age and mystery were some who repeated tales of that runaway band
—tales magnified and embroidered almost beyond recognition — and, what was more curious, accepted them—not as such tales are usually accepted, with a heavy basis of discount—but as gospel; inspired truth; the foundation of a mighty religion; the word of God. Nor was that all. The Sphinx realized presently that not only were those old stories accepted as gospel by the descendants of the race themselves, but by a considerable number of the human race at large -accepted and debated in a most serious manner, even to the point of bloodshed.
Some details of this inspired chronology were wholly new to the Sphinx. It was interesting, for example, to hear that there had been three million of those people, and that before they started there had been a time when the Nile had been turned to blood-twice, in fact: once by the grace of God and once by magicians. The Sphinx did not remember a time when the Nile had turned to blood. In the five thousand years and more of its existence it had never heard of a magician who could produce that result. It was interesting, too, to learn that the Red Sea had opened a way for those people to cross, and that the hosts of Egypt, trying to follow them, had been swallowed up and drowned. This was wholly new. The Sphinx had been there and seen all that had happened, but she had somehow missed those things.
Not that the Sphinx was surprised at these embroideries. She had seen several mythologies created, and knew the general scale of enlargement and glorification. It was only when she saw strong, cultured, and enlightened nations still accepting the old Hebrew poem-with all its stately figures and exaggerations-as gospel; heard them actually trying to prove that a multitude as big as the census of Australia had marched out with its chattels and its flocks; heard them vow that the Red Sea had parted long enough to let this population pass through; heard them maintain that this vast assembly had found shade and refreshment on the other side by twelve wells of water and under seventy palm-trees: heard them tell how the sea behind them had suddenly rushed together and swallowed up all the Egyptian army (including the king himself, some said)—it was only when the Sphinx heard learned men argue these things as facts that a smile-scarcely perceptible, yet still a smile—began to grow behind the stone lips.
That is the smile we saw to-night-a quiet smile, a gracious smile, a compassionate smile—and as it has grown so slowly, so it will not soon depart. For by-andby, when these ages have passed, and with them their story and their gospels—when those old chronicles of the Jews have been relegated to the realm of mythology for a thousand years—there may come another band who will establish their traditions as God's holy word, and the Sphinx-still remaining, still observing, still looking across the encompassing sands to the sunrise—will smile, and dream old dreams.