26

Next Stop - Patmos

When Justin and Brigitte arrived at the port of Caesarea, they were able to arrange for passage to Patmos. On the third day the ship passed Cyprus on the starboard side. The weather continued pleasant across the eastern parts of the Mediterranean. After eight days and an uneventful passage, the ship anchored off of Patmos. Justin, Brigitte, the captain, and two seamen left the ship in a small boat for the landing. As they approached the island, Brigitte squeezed Justinís hand in anticipation of the soon-coming reunion with their son. As they stepped out of the small boat onto the island, the captain pointed them in the direction of the governorís house.

The greenery was lush on the island, and rows and rows of grapes covered the gently rolling hills. The pathway on which they walked was covered with coarse sand. Not far ahead, they could see carts full of grapes lumbering along a Roman road that appeared to be made of pebbles set in mortar. To the right, the main road was framed with small shops on either side. To the left, the road led to the governorís house. As they neared the intersection of the path and the road, they noticed that the people from the shops were standing outside selling their wares--earthen pots, hand-woven baskets, leather sandals, and wine. An old man wearing only a loincloth and carrying a full wineskin held out a cup crying, "Come! Drink! Vintage wine from the vineyards. Come! Drink! Vintage wine from the vineyards."

Although Justin wasnít particularly thirsty for wine, he sensed the deep need of the elderly man and dropped enough coins in his bucket for a large cup. Taking the cup with both of his hands, Justin offered some to Brigitte, then put the cup to his own lips and drank.

As he handed the cup back to the man, Justin noticed a cart full of grapes being pulled by a donkey. When he looked more closely at the tousled blond hair of the young man holding the reins, he cried out, "Stop! I say, Stop!" Immediately, the young man pulled back on the reins and peered in the direction of the voice that had commanded him to stop.

Brigitte, not looking to the right or to the left, ran towards the cart. The young man quickly latched the reins to the cart, leaped off, and picked Brigitte up and swung her around.

"Oh, Malchus, my son, we have finally found you. It has been so long," she said as her feet touched the ground.

"I know mother," he replied, "it has been a long time. Too long for that matter!"

Justin, not wanting to interrupt Brigitteís special moment, stood back a slight distance. He couldnít understand why an occasion of so much joy should bring tears to Brigitteís eyes. When Malchus noticed Justin, he cried out, "Father!"

Immediately, Justin moved forward with open arms to encircle Malchus. "My son," he said as he kissed him on both of his cheeks, "itís so good to see you again."

"Father, I have much to tell you and Mother, but I must first tell the governor of your arrival. Come, board my cart, and we will ride together to his house."

Brigitte, thrilled to again be reunited with her son, sat in between him and Justin on the cross board. The air that earlier had seemed rather still, now flowed freely around them. This was all she could ever ask for - just to be together again.

The governorís house was up ahead. It was just as Brigitte might have imagined the house of a Roman governor would be--a large stucco mansion laced with vines, an imposing structure against the rolling hillside. Malchus stepped off of the cart and disappeared into the mansion. In a few moments, he returned with a wide grin on his face. A large man draped in a colorful cloak followed close behind him.

"Greetings, folks," the large man boomed as he neared the cart. "Welcome to my paradise. My name is Flavius, and Iím the governor here. Iím insisting that this young man take the rest of the day off to spend with his parents. Do I hear any objections?" Justin and Brigitte looked at each other, then at Flavius and nodded their heads "no."

"Well then," he continued as he stretched out his hand to Justin, "itís a deal. Now that everything is taken care of, if you folks will kindly excuse me¬Ö"

But before he could finish his sentence, Justin interrupted, "Sir, before you leave, my wife and I would like to thank you for taking care of our son and for seeing after his well being in our absence."

"You thank me?" bellowed the governor, "I should be the one thanking you. This young man has helped me get the workers in my vineyard organized and motivated to get the job done. Really, if the truth were known, I should be thanking you."

"It does mean a lot to my wife and me to know that he has been in good hands," stated Justin. "I have been with a Roman legion for many years and have often had to be away. Unfortunately, my son found himself in quite a precarious position. We are glad, despite the circumstances, to hear that he has been an asset to you and your workers."

"That he has been, and I hope for my sake will continue to be. Well, I guess that is a whole other matter that weíll have to discuss at a later time. For now, I hope you folks enjoy your stay on the island, and please know that you are welcome anytime for however long you wish. Just let me know, and I will see to it that the proper accommodations are prepared. Now, if you will excuse me, I must be getting back inside as I have another guest waiting."

As Justin said, "Thanks again," the governor pressed Justinís hand with both of his and nodded his head at Brigitte as if to say, "Good day." Then he flung the colorful cloak over his shoulder and mounted the steps of his stucco mansion. As he walked into the entry hall, he blended in with the tapestries on the wall. As Flavius faded from sight, the reunited family turned their full attention to each other.

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