And, having finished his reading, Israel would close the book, and sing out of the Psalms of David the psalm which says, “It is good for me that I have been in trouble, that I may learn Thy statutes.”
Thus, night after night, when the sun was gone down, did Israel read of the law and sing of the Psalms to Naomi, his daughter, who was both blind and deaf. And though Naomi heard not, and neither did she see, yet in their silent hour together there was another in their chamber always with them—there was a third, for there was God.
THE ANGEL IN ISRAEL’S HOUSE
When Israel had been some twenty years at Tetuan, Naomi being then fourteen years of age, Ben Aboo, the Basha, married a Christian wife. The woman’s name was Katrina. She was a Spaniard by birth, and had first come to Morocco at the tail of a Spanish embassy, which travelled through Tetuan from Ceuta to the Sultan at Fez. What her belongings were, and what her antecedents had been, no one appeared to know, nor did Ben Aboo himself seem to care. She answered all his present needs in her own person, which was ample in its proportions and abundant in its charms.
In marrying Ben Aboo, the wily Katrina imposed two conditions. The first was, that he should put away the full Mohammedan complement of four Moorish wives, whom he had married already as well as the many concubines that he had annexed in his way through life, and now kept lodged in one unquiet nest in the women’s hidden quarter of the Palace. The second condition was, that she herself should never be banished to such seclusion, but, like the wife of any European governor, should openly share the state of her husband.
Ben Aboo was in no mood to stand on the rights of a strict Mohammedan, and he accepted both of her conditions. The first he never meant to abide by, but the second she took care he should observe, and, as a prelude to that public life which she intended to live by his side, she insisted on a public marriage.
They were married according to the rites of the Catholic Church by a Franciscan friar settled at Tangier, and the marriage festival lasted six days. Great was the display, and lavish the outlay. Every morning the cannon of the fort fired a round of shot from the hill, every evening the tribesmen from the mountains went through their feats of powder-play in the market-place, and every night a body of Aissawa from Mequinez yelled and shrieked in the enclosure called the M’salla, near the Bab er-Remoosh. Feasts were spread in the Kasbah, and relays of guests from among the chief men of the town were invited daily to partake of them.
No man dared to refuse his invitation, or to neglect the tribute of a present, though the Moors well knew that they were lending the light of their countenance to a brazen outrage on their faith, and though it galled the hearts of the Jews to make merry at the marriage of a Christian and a Muslim—no man except Israel, and he excused himself with what grace he could, being in no mood for rejoicing, but sick with sorrow of the heart.