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.

But in another instant the fire of anger was gone from his face, and he was saying in a very moving voice, “My good people, who have followed me through all these miseries, I know that your burdens are heavier than you can bear, and that your lives are scarce to be endured, and that death itself would be a relief.  Nevertheless, who shall say but that Allah sees a way to avert these trials of His poor servants, and that, unknown to us all, He is even at this moment bringing His mercy to pass!  Patience, I beg of you; patience, my poor people—­patience and trust!”

At that the murmurs of discontent were hushed.  Then Israel remembered the presents with which the Kaid of El Kasar and the Shereef of Wazzan had burdened him.  They were jewels and ornaments such as are sometimes worn unlawfully by vain men in that country—­silver signet rings and earrings, chains for the neck, and Solomon’s seal to hang on the breast as safeguard against the evil eye—­as well as much gold filagree of the kind that men give to their women.  Israel had packed them in a box and laid them in the leaf pannier of a mule, and then given no further thought to them; but, calling now to the muleteer who had charge of them, he said, “Take them quickly to the good man yonder, and say, ’A present to the man of God and to his people in their trouble.’”

And when the muleteer had done this, and laid the box of gold and silver open at the feet of the young Mahdi, saying what Israel had bidden him, it was the same to the young man and his followers as if the sky had opened and rained manna on their heads.

“It is an answer to your prayer,” he cried; “an angel from heaven has sent it.”

Then his people, as soon as they realised what good thing had happened to them, took up his shout of joy, and shouted out of their own parched throats—­

“Prophet of Allah, we will follow you to the world’s end!”

And then down on their knees they fell around him, the vast concourse of men and women, all grinning like apes in their hunger and glee together, and sobbing and laughing in a breath, like children, and sent up a great broken cry of thanks to God that He had sent them succour, that they might not die.  At last, when they had risen to their feet again, every man looked into the eyes of his fellow and said, as if ashamed, “I could have borne it myself, but when the children called to me for bread.  I was a fool.”

CHAPTER X

THE WATCHWORD OF THE MAHDI

Early the next day Israel set his face homeward, with this old word of the new prophet for his guide and motto:  “Exact no more than is just; do violence to no man; accuse none falsely; part with your riches and give to the poor.”  That was all the answer he got out of his journey, and if any man had come to him in Tetuan with no newer story, it must have been an idle and a foolish errand; but after El Kasar, after Wazzan, after Mequinez, and now after Fez, it seemed to be the sum of all wisdom.  “I’ll do it,” he said; “at all risks and all costs, I’ll do it.”

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