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Galilee And The Lake - Wedding In Cana Of Galilee

( Originally Published 1908 )

WE thought to save a little time on our journey, and perhaps to spare ourselves a little jolting on the hard high-road, by sending the saddle-horses ahead with the caravan, and taking a carriage for the sixteen-mile drive to Tiberias. When we came to the old sarcophagus which serves as a drinking trough at the spring outside the village of Cana, a strange thing befell us.

We had halted for a moment to refresh the horses.

Suddenly there was a sound of furious galloping on the road behind us. A score of cavaliers in Bedouin dress, with guns and swords, came after us in hot haste. The leaders dashed across the open space beside the spring, wheeled their foaming horses and dashed back again.

"Is this our affair with robbers, at last ?" we asked George.

He laughed a little. "No," said he, "this is the beginning of a wedding in Kafr Kenna. The bride-groom and his friends come over from some other village where they live, to show off a bit of fantasia to the bride and her friends. They carry her back with them after the marriage. We wait a while and see how they ride."

The horses were gayly caparisoned with ribbons and tassels and embroidered saddle-cloths. The riders were handsome, swarthy fellows with haughty faces. Their eyes glanced sideways at us to see whether we were admiring them, as they shouted their challenges to one another and raced wildly up and down the rock-strewn course, with their robes flying and their horses' sides bloody with spurring. One of the men was a huge coal-black Nubian who bran-dished a naked sword as he rode. Others whirled their long muskets in the air and yelled furiously. The riding was cruel, reckless, superb; loose reins and loose stirrups on the headlong gallop; then the sharp curb brought the horse up suddenly, the rein on his neck turned him as if on a pivot, and the pressure of the heel sent him flying back over the course.

Presently there was a sound of singing and clap-ping hands behind the high cactus-hedges to our left, and from a little lane the bridal procession walked up to take the high-road to the village. There were a dozen men in front, firing guns and shouting, then came the women, with light veils of gauze over their faces, singing shrilly, and in the midst of them, in gay attire, but half-concealed with long, dark mantles, the bride and " the virgins, her companions, in raiment of needlework."

As they saw the photographic camera pointed at them they laughed, and crowded closer together, and drew the ends of their dark mantles over their heads. So they passed up the road, their shrill song broken a little by their laughter; and the company of horsemen, the bridegroom and his friends, wheeled into line, two by two, and trotted after them into the village.

This was all that we saw of the wedding at Kafr Kenna—just a vivid, mysterious flash of human figures, drawn together by the primal impulse and longing of our common nature, garbed and ordered by the social customs which make different lands and ages seem strange to each other, and moving across the narrow stage of time into the dimness of that Arab village, where Jesus and His mother and His disciples were guests at a wedding long ago.

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