ADVENTURE AND SECURITY
“Women are the twin-halves of men.”—Mahomet.
Abu Talib’s straitened circumstances never prevented him from treating his foster-child with all the affection of which his kindly but somewhat weak character was capable. But the cares of a growing family soon became too much for his means, and when Mahomet was about twenty-five his uncle suggested that he should embark upon a mercantile journey for some rich trader in Mecca. We can imagine Mahomet, immersed in his solitudes, responding reluctantly to a call that could not be evaded. He was not by nature a trader, and the proposal was repugnant to him, except for his desire to help his uncle, and more than this, his curiosity to revisit at a more assimilative age the lands that he remembered dimly from childhood.
Khadijah, a beautiful widow, daughter of an honoured house and the cousin of Mahomet, rich and much sought after by the Kureisch, desired someone to accompany her trading venture to Bostra, and hearing of the wisdom and faithfulness of Mahomet, sent for him, asking if he would travel for her into Syria and pursue her bargains in that northern city. She was willing to reward him far more generously than most merchants. Mahomet, anxious to requite his uncle in some way, and with his young imagination kindled at the prospect of new scenes and ideas, prepared eagerly for the journey. With one other man-servant, Meisara, he set out with the merchandise to Bostra, traversing as a young man the same desert path he had journeyed along in boyhood.
He was of an age to appreciate all that this experience could teach, in the regions both of Nature and religion. The lonely desert only increased his pervading sense of the mystery lying beyond his immediate knowledge, and its vastness confirmed his vague belief in some kind of a power who alone controlled so mighty a creation as the abounding spaces around him, and the “star-bespangled” heaven above. On this journey, too, he first saw with conscious eyes the desert storms in all the splendour and terror of their fury, and caught the significance of those sudden squalls that urge the waters of the upper Syrian lakes into a tumult of destruction. Frequent allusions to sea and lake storms are to be