The Scapegoat; a romance and a parable eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 301 pages of information about The Scapegoat; a romance and a parable.

“What is this I hear of your beautiful daughter—­this Naomi of yours—­that she has recovered her speech and hearing!  When did that happen, pray?  No answer?  Ah, I see, you are tired of the deception.  You kept it up well between you.  But is she still blind?  So?  Dear me!  Blind, poor child.  Think of it!”

Israel neither answered nor looked up, but stood motionless on the same place, holding the seal in his hand.  And Ben Aboo, in his restless tramping up and down, came to him again, and said, “Why are you a Jew, Israel ben Oliel?  The dogs of your people hate you.  Witness to the Prophet!  Resign yourself!  Turn Muslim, man—­what’s to hinder you?”

Still Israel made no reply.  But Ben Aboo continued:  “Listen!  The people about me are in the pay of the Sultan, and after all you are the best servant I have ever had.  Say the Kelmah, and I’ll make you my Khaleefa.  Do you hear?—­my Khaleefa, with power equal to my own.  Man, why don’t you speak?  Are you grown stupid of late as well as weak and womanish?”

CHAPTER XVIII

THE LIGHT-BORN MESSENGER

“Basha,” said Israel—­he spoke slowly and quietly; but with forced calmness—­“Basha, you must seek another hand for work like that—­this hand of mine shall never seal that warrant.”

“Tut, man!” whispered Ben Aboo.  “Do your new measles break out everywhere?  Am I not Kaid?  Can I not make you my Khaleefa?”

Israel’s face was worn and pale, but his eye burned with the fire of his great resolve.

“Basha,” he said again calmly and quietly, “if you were Sultan and could make me your Vizier, I would not do it.”

“Why?” cried Ben Aboo; “why? why?”

“Because,” said Israel, “I am here to deliver up your seal to you.”

“You?  Grace of God!” cried Ben Aboo.

“I am here,” continued Israel, as calmly as before, “to resign my office.”

“Resign your office?  Deliver up your seal?” cried Ben Aboo.  “Man, man, are you mad?”

“No, Basha, not to-day,” said Israel quietly.  “I must have been that when I came here first, five-and-twenty years ago.”

Ben Aboo gnawed his lip and scowled darkly, and in the flush of his anger, his consternation being over, he would have fallen upon Israel with torrents of abuse, but that he was smitten suddenly by a new and terrible thought.  Quivering and trembling, and muttering short prayers under his breath, he recoiled from the place where Israel stood, and said, “There is something under all this?  What is it?  Let me think!  Let me think!”

Meantime the face of Katrina beneath its covering of paint had grown white, and in scarcely smothered tones of wrath, by the swift instinct of a suspicious nature, she was asking herself the same question, “What does it mean?  What does it mean?”

In another moment Ben Aboo had read the riddle his own way.  “Wait!” he cried, looking vainly for help and answer into the faces of his people about him.  “Who said that when he was away from Tetuan he went to Fez?  The Sultan was there then.  He had just come up from Soos.  That’s it!  I knew it!  The man is like all the rest of them.  Abd er-Rahman has bought him.  Allah!  Allah!  What have I done that every soul that eats my bread should spy and pry on me?”

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The Scapegoat; a romance and a parable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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