“For thy daughter, Sidi Hadji, thy Zina, is surely as lovely as the full moon sinking in the west in the hour before the dawn.”
The words were fair. But bel-Kalfate was looking at his son’s face.
“Where are thy comrades?” he asked, in a low voice. “How hast thou come?” Then, with a hint of haste: “The dance is admirable. It would be well that we should remain quiet, Habib, my son.”
But the notary continued to face the young man. He set his cup down and clasped his hands about his knee. The knuckles were a little white.
“May I beg thee, Habib ben Habib, that thou shouldst speak the thing which is in thy mind?”
“There is only this, sidi, a little thing: When thou hast another bird to vend in the market of hearts, it would perhaps be well to examine with care the cage in which thou hast kept that bird.
“Thy daughter,” he added, after a moment of silence—“thy daughter, Sidi Hadji, is with child.”
That was all that was said. Hadji Daoud lifted his cup and drained it, sucking politely at the dregs. The cadi coughed. The cadi raised his eyes to the awning and appeared to listen. Then he observed, “To-night, in-cha-’llah, it will rain.” The notary pulled his burnoose over his shoulders, groped down with his toes for his slippers, and got to his feet.
“Rest in well-being!” he said. Then, without haste, he went out.
Habib followed him tardily as far as the outer door. In the darkness of the empty street he saw the loom of the man’s figure moving off toward his own house, still without any haste.
“And in the night of thy marriage thy husband, or thy father, if thou hast a father ——”
Habib did not finish with the memory. He turned and walked a few steps along the street. He could still hear the music and the clank of the Jewess’s silver in his father’s court....
“In-cha-’llah!” she had said, that night.
And after all, it had been the will of God....
A miracle had happened. All the dry pain had gone out of the air. Just now the months of waiting for the winter rains were done. All about him the big, cool drops were spattering on the invisible stones. The rain bathed his face. His soul was washed with the waters of the merciful God of Arab men.
For, after all, from the beginning, it had been written. All written!
By TRISTRAM TUPPER
From Metropolitan Magazine
Grit was dead. There was no mistake about that. And on the very day of his burial temptation came to his widow.
Grit’s widow was “Great” Taylor, whose inadequate first name was Nell—a young, immaculate creature whose body was splendid even if her vision and spirit were small. She never had understood Grit.