5th September 1945.
Jesus goes back to the house at dead of night. He enters the kitchen garden silently. He looks for a moment into the dark kitchen. He looks into the two rooms where are the mats and beds. They are empty also. Only the changed clothes, piled on the floor, tell that the apostles have come back. The house is so silent that it seems unhabited.
Jesus, making less noise than a shadow, goes up the little steps, immaculate white in the whiteness of the full moon, and arrives on the terrace. He walks along it. He seems a ghost moving about silently, a bright ghost. In the white incandescence of the moon, He looks thinner and taller. He lifts with one hand the curtain at the door of the upper room. It had been left down since John's disciples had entered with Jesus. Inside there are the apostles, sitting here and there, in groups or alone, with John's disciples and Manaen; there is also Marjiam sleeping with his head on Peter's knees. The moon illuminates the room entering with its phosphorescent rays through the wide open windows. No one is speaking. And no one is sleeping, with the exception of the boy, who is sitting on a mat on the floor.
Jesus enters quietly and Thomas is the first to see Him. « Oh! Master! » he exclaims starting.
All the others rouse themselves. Peter in his excitement, is on the point of jumping to his feet, but he remembers the child and he stands up gently, laying Marjiam's dark-haired head on his seat, and thus is the last to arrive at Jesus, while the Master, with the tired voice of one who has suffered very much, is replying to John, James and Andrew, who are expressing their sorrow to Him: « I understand. But only he who does not believe can feel desolate because of death. Not we, who know and believe. John is no longer separated from us. He was before. Nay, he separated us. Either with Me, or with him. No longer so. Where he is, I am. He is near Me. »
Peter pushes his grey-haired head among the younger ones and Jesus sees him: « You have been weeping, too, Simon of Jonah? » And Peter with a voice hoarser than usual: « Yes, Lord. Because I was a disciple of John, as well. And then... Last Sabbath eve I was complaining that the presence of Pharisees was going to embitter our Sabbath! This is really a bitter Sabbath! I brought the boy, to have a more enjoyable Sabbath... Instead...»
« Do not lose heart, Simon of Jonah. John is not lost. I am repeating that to you, too. And in exchange we have three perfected disciples. Where is the boy? »
« Over there, Master. He is sleeping...»
« Let him sleep » says Jesus stopping over the dark little head which is sleeping peacefully. And He asks again: « Have you had your supper? »
« No, Master. We were waiting for You and we were worried, because of Your delay, as we did not know where to look for You... and we seemed to have lost You as well. »
« We have still plenty time to be together. Well, prepare the supper, because afterwards we shall go to another place. I need to be alone among friends, and if we are here tomorrow, we shall always be surrounded by people. »
« And I swear to You that I would not put up with them, particularly with those snakes of Pharisaic souls. And it would be most unfortunate if a smile escaped them concerning us in the synagogue! »
« Be good, Simon!... I have thought of that as well. That is why I came back to take you with Me. »
The excitement on their faces can be better seen in the light of the little lamps that have been lit at the two ends of the table. Only Jesus is majestically solemn and Marjiam smiles in his sleep.
« The boy has already had his meal » explains Peter.
« It is better to let him sleep, them » says Jesus.
And in the middle of His disciples He offers and hands out the frugal food, which is taken without appetite. And the supper is soon over.
« Tell Me now what you have done...» says Jesus encouragingly.
« I went with Philip into the country at Bethsaida and we evangelized and cured a sick boy » says Peter.
« In actual fact it was Simon who cured him » says Philip, who does not wish to ascribe to himself a glory not belonging to him.
« Oh! Lord! I do not know how I did it. I prayed hard, with all my heart, because I felt sorry for the little sick boy. I then anointed him with oil, I rubbed him with my coarse hands... and he was cured. When I saw him colour up and open his eyes, that is, when I saw him revive, I was almost afraid. »
Jesus lays a hand on his head without speaking.
« John amazed people by expelling a demon. But I had to speak » says Thomas.
« Your brother Judas also did it » states Matthew.
« Andrew, too » says James of Alphaeus.
« Simon the Zealot, instead, cured a leper. Oh! he was not afraid of touching him! And he said to me: “Be not afraid. By the will of God, no physical disease will affect us” » says Bartholomew.
« You are right, Simon. And what about you two? » Jesus asks James of Zebedee and the Iscariot, who are a little farther away, the former talking to the three disciples of John, the latter being all alone and sulky.
« Oh! I did nothing » says James. But Judas worked three wonderful miracles: a blind man, a paralytic, a possessed man. He looked like a lunatic to me. But that is what people said...»
« And you are pulling a long face, when God has assisted you so much? » exclaims Peter.
« I can be humble as well » replies the Iscariot.
« And we were the guests of a Pharisee. I was rather embarrassed. But Judas knows how to deal with them and he really appeased the Pharisee. On the first day he was stand-offish, but later... Is that right, Judas? »
Judas nods without speaking.
« Very well. And you will do better and better. We shall be all together next week. In the meantime... Simon, go and prepare the boats. You, too, James. »
« For everybody, Master? They will not contain us. »
« Can you not get another one? »
« Yes, if I ask my brother-in-law. I will go. »
« Go. And come back as soon as you are ready. And do not tell them too much. »
The four fishermen leave. The others go downstairs to get their sacks and mantles. Manaen stays with Jesus. The boy continues to sleep.
« Master, are You going far? »
« I do not know yet... They are tired and depressed. I am, too. I am thinking of going to Tarichea, into the country, to be alone in peace...»
« I have my horse, Master. But, if You will allow me, I will come following the lake. Will You be there for long? »
« Perhaps the whole week, but not longer. »
« In that case, I will come. Master, bless me in this first departure. And relieve my heart of a burden. »
« Which, Manaen? »
« I feel remorse for leaving John. Perhaps if I had been there...»
« No. It was his hour. And he was certainly pleased to see you come to Me. Do not let that upset you. Nay, endeavour to get rid quickly and properly of the only burden you have: the gusto of being man. Become spiritual, Manaen. You can. You are capable of being so. Goodbye, Manaen. My peace be with you. We shall soon meet in Judaea. »
Manaen kneels down and Jesus blesses him. He then raises him and kisses him.
The others come back in and exchange greetings, both the apostles and John's disciples. The fishermen are the last to come. « We are ready, Master. We can go. »
« Good. Say goodbye to Manaen Who is staying here until tomorrow evening. Assemble the foodstuffs, take some water and let us go. Make as little noise as possible. »
Peter stoops to awake Marjiam.
« No, leave him. He might cry. I will pick him up » says Jesus and He gently lifts the boy who whimpers a little, but instinctively makes himself comfortable in Jesus' arms.
They put the lamps out. They go out closing the door. They go downstairs and on the threshold they say goodbye once again to Manaen, and then, in single file, along the moonlit street they go to the lake: a huge silvery mirror under the moon at its zenith. The three little lamps on the prows, which are already in the water, look like three red drops on the quiet mirror. They go on board, settling themselves in the boats, the fishermen being the last to embark. Peter and a servant are in the boat where Jesus is, John and Andrew in the second, James and a servant in the third one.
« Where are we going, Master? » asks Peter.
« To Tarichea. Where we landed after the miracle of the Gadarenes. It will not be boggy now. And it will be quiet. »
Peter sets sail and the other two boats sail in his wake. Nobody speaks. Only when they are in the open lake and Capernaum disappears in the moonlight and things present a uniform appearance in its silvery dust, Peter says, as if he were speaking to the tiller: « And I am glad. They will be looking for us, my dear, and thanks to you they will not find us. »
« To whom are you speaking, Simon? » asks Bartholomew.
« To my boat. Don't you know that she is like a bride for a fisher man? How much I have talked to her! More than to Porphirea. Master!... Is the boy well covered? It's damp on the lake at night...»
« Yes, he is. Listen. Simon. Come here. I want to speak to you. »
Peter entrusts the tiller to the ship-boy and comes to Jesus.
« I said Tarichea. But it will be quite all right to be there after the Sabbath to say goodbye once again to Manaen. Could you not find a place nearby where we may stay in peace? »
« Oh! Master! In peace for us or also for the boats? For the boats we must go to Tarichea or to some harbour on the other shore. But if You are referring to us, it is enough to go into the woods beyond the Jordan, where only wild animals will find You... and perhaps an odd fisherman who is watching nets. We can leave the boats at Tarichea. We shall be there at dawn and we will go away quickly beyond the ford. It is easy to wade it at this time of the year. »
« Very well. We will do that...»
« The world is disgusting You as well, eh? You prefer fish and mosquitoes, eh? You are right. »
« It does not disgust Me. One must not be disgusted. But I do not want you to stir up a scandal and I wish to find comfort in you on the Sabbath. »
« My Master!...» Peter kisses Jesus' forehead and goes away wiping a large tear that insisted in dropping out and streaming down to his beard. He goes back to his rudder heading south resolutely, while the moonlight fades as the planet sets behind a hill, concealing its huge face from the sight of men, but still making the sky white with its light and the lake silvery on the eastern coast. The rest is dark-indigo hardly distinguishable in the light of the prow lamp.