SALOME’S DANCE – Machaerus, Perea
Reluctantly, Pilate addressed Herod about this matter. “My lord Antipas, may I have a word with you?”
“Certainly, my dear governor,” Herod said as he lead Pilate to a quieter alcove for a private talk.
Cornelius and Tribune Arturos took their position not far from the governor.
“My dear Antipas, I was hoping to broach this subject of the Baptist with you. Would it not be prudent for you to hand him over to us? There are some among my… ahem… officials that are quite interested in interrogating this John the Baptist further.”
“Alas. It is out of my hands,” responded Herod. “I have given my vow that she may have anything in my power to give. It is regrettable but culture and tradition dictates that I must fulfill my vow.”
When Pilate returned to his divan, shaking his head negatively, Procula coldly stood and left the party followed by Pheobe and a number of ladies. Pheobe looked back to Cornelius with a wave.
Cornelius seethe with the thought that a righteous man… a prophet of God… and a friend would lose his life needlessly. With no plan formed in his mind, he started moving purposely toward the exit with his hand tightly grasping his sheathed sword.
“Centurion!” Cornelius halted and turned to find that it was the governor who called him. “Come! Attend to me.”
“Sir!” Cornelius snapped to attention. Then he followed the governor and the tribune out to the same balcony where he talked with Pheobe.
“I think it best that you stay standing at attention, Centurion.”
Pilate circled him with amusement.
“I wonder, Centurion, how you would have fared against Herod’s hired guards if you did manage to stop the execution in time?” Pilate then sat at a bench looking at him up and down. “Yes. I think you would do well, for a time by yourself. I would even venture to speculate that the men you commanded outside would not think twice to mutiny and come to your aid. But then, what would that have left me? Mmmm…? A renegade cohort… outlawed… hiring yourselves out as mercenaries… No, Centurion. I cannot spare you. At ease, Centurion.”
Cornelius relaxed his posture but kept looking forward.
“Besides, how would I explain this to your father?” Cornelius questioningly gazed down at Pilate. “Oh, yes. I know your father. He wrote me sometime back that you were with the Italian contingent. He as well as your commander had appraised me on your strong sense of fair play. This has served you well, so far. But I have to rein you in, this time. As much as you would like to save the life of that desert preacher,” Pilate raised his hand for silence as Cornelius was about to object. “I am sure he is innocent, but I have to consider the bigger picture. This region is too volatile. Herod and I, at least, must have the appearance of a unified front.”
The story continues on in my next post 2-3 day from now.
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