“Allah preserve her!” cried the Mahdi.
“And she is smitten for my sin, for the Lord revealed it to me in the vision, and my soul trembles for her soul. But if God has washed me with water should not she also be clean?”
“God knows,” said the Mahdi. “He gives no rewards for repentance.”
“But listen!” said Israel. “In a vision of death her mother saw her, and she was afflicted no more. No, for she could see, and hear, and speak. Man of God, will it come to pass?”
“God is good,” said the Mahdi. “He needs that no man should teach Him pity.”
“But I love her,” cried Israel, “and I vowed to her mother to guard her. She is joy of my joy and life of my life. Without her the morning has no freshness and the night no rest. Surely the Lord sees this, and will have mercy?”
The Mahdi held back his tears, and answered, “The Lord sees all. Go your way in trust. Farewell!”
Israel’s return home was an experience at all points the reverse of his going abroad. He had seven dollars in the pocket of his waistband on setting away from Fez, out of the three hundred and more with which he had started from Tetuan. His men had gone on before him and told their story. So the people whom he came upon by the way either ignored him or jeered at him, and not one that on his coming had run to do him honour now stepped aside that he might pass.
Two days after leaving Fez he came again to Wazzan. Women were going home from market by the side of their camels, and charcoal-burners were riding back to the country on the empty burdas of their mules. It was nigh upon sunset when Israel entered the town, and so exactly was everything the same that he could almost have tricked himself and believed that scarce two minutes had passed since he had left it. There at the fountains were the water-carriers waiting with their water-skins, and there in the market-place sat the women and children with their dishes of soup; there were the men by the booths with their pipes ready charged with keef, and there was the mooddin in the minaret, looking out over the plain. Everything was the same save one thing, and that concerned Israel himself. No Grand Shereef stood waiting to exchange horses with him, and no black guard led him through the town. Footsore and dirty, covered with dust, and tired, he walked through the streets alone. And when presently the voice rang out overhead, and the breathless town broke instantly into bubbles of sounds—the tinkling of the bells of the water-carriers, the shouts of the children, and the calls of the men—only one man seemed to see him and know him. This was an Arab, wearing scarcely enough rags to cover his nakedness, who was bathing his hot cheeks in water which a water-carrier was pouring into his hands, and he lifted his glistening face as Israel passed, and called him “Dog!” and “Jew!” and commanded him to uncover his feet.