That night the place under the narrow window in the dark lane was occupied by a group of Jews. “Sister,” they whispered, “sister of our people, listen. The Basha is a hard man. This day he has robbed us of all we had that he may pay for the Sultan’s visit. Listen! We have heard something. We want Israel ben Oliel back among us. He was our father, he was our brother. Save his life for the sake of our children, for the Basha has taken their bread. Save him, sister, we beg, we entreat, we pray.”
Naomi broke down at last. Next morning at dawn, kneeling among men in the Grand Mosque in the Metamar, she repeated the Word after the Iman: “I testify that there is no God but God, and that our Lord Mohammed is the messenger of God; I am truly resigned.”
Then she was taken back to the women’s apartments, and clad gorgeously. Her child face was wet with tears. She was only a poor weak little thing, she knew nothing of religion, she loved her father better than God, and all the world was against her.
ISRAEL’S RETURN FROM PRISON
Such was the method of Israel’s release. But, knowing nothing of the price which had been paid for it, he was filled with an immense joy. Nay, his happiness was quite childish, so suddenly had the darkness which hung over his life been lifted away. Any one who had seen him in prison would have been puzzled by the change as he came away from it. He laughed with the courier who walked with him to the town gate, and jested with the gate porter as with an old acquaintance. His voice was merry, his eye gleamed in the rays of the lantern, his face was flushed, and his step was light. “Afraid to travel in the night? No, no, I’ll meet nothing worse than myself. Others may who meet me? Ha, ha! Perhaps so, perhaps so!” “No evil with you, brother?” “No evil, praise be God.” “Well, peace be to you!” “On you be peace!” “May your morning be blessed! Good-night!” “Good-night!” Then with a wave of the hand he was gone into the darkness.
It was a wonderful night. The moon, which was in its first quarter, was still low in the east, but the stars were thick overhead, making a silvery dome that almost obliterated the blue. Rivers were rumbling on the hillside, an owl was hooting in the distance, kine that could not be seen were chewing audibly near at hand, and sheep like patches of white in the gloom were scuttling through the grass before Israel’s footsteps. Israel walked quickly, tracing his course between the two arms of the Jebel Sheshawan, whose summits were visible against the sky. The air was cool and moist, and a gentle breeze was blowing from the sea. Oh! the joy of it to him who had lain long months in prison! Israel drank in the night air as a young colt drinks in the wind.