Suddenly she was gone from the side of the two black women. Like a flash of light she had passed through the bellowing throng. She had thrust herself between the people and her father, who was on the ground: she was standing over him with both arms upraised, and at that instant God loosed her tongue, for she was crying, “Mercy! Mercy!”
Then the crowd fell back in great fear. The dumb had spoken. No man dared to touch Israel any more. The hands that had been lifted against him dropped back useless, and a wide circle formed around him. In the midst of it stood Naomi. Her blind face quivered; she seemed to glow like a spirit. And like a spirit she had driven back the people from their deed of blood as with the voice of God—she, the blind, the frail, the helpless.
Israel rose to his feet, for no man touched him again, and the procession of judges, which had now come up, was silent. And, seeing how it was that in the hour of his great need the gift of speech had come upon Naomi, his heart rose big within him, and he tried to triumph over his enemies and say, “You thought God’s arm was against me, but behold how God has saved me out of your hands.”
But he could not speak. The dumbness that had fallen from his daughter seemed to have dropped upon him.
At that moment Naomi turned to him and said, “Father!”
Then the cup of Israel’s heart was full. His throat choked him. So he took her by the hand in silence and down a long alley of the people they passed through the Mellah gate and went home to their house. Her eyes were to the earth, and she wept as she walked; but his face was lifted up, and his tears and his blood ran down his cheeks together.
Although Naomi, in her darkness and muteness since the coming of her gift of hearing, had learned to know and understand the different tongues of men, yet now that she tried to call forth words for herself, and to put out her own voice in the use of them, she was no more than a child untaught in the ways of speech. She tripped and stammered and broke down, and had to learn to speak as any helpless little one must do, only quicker, because her need was greater, and better, because she was a girl and not a babe. And, perceiving her own awkwardness, and thinking shame of it, and being abashed by the patient waiting of her father when she halted in her talk with him, and still more humbled by Ali’s impetuous help when she miscalled her syllables, she fell back again on silence.
Hardly could she be got to speak at all. For some days after the night when her emancipated tongue had rescued Israel from his enemies on the Sok, she seemed to say nothing beyond “Yes” and “No,” notwithstanding Ali’s eager questions, and Fatimah’s tearful blessings, and Habeebah’s breathless invocations, and also notwithstanding the hunger and thirst of the heart of her father, who, remembering with many throbs of joy the voice that he heard with his dreaming ears when he slept on the straw bed of the poor fondak at Wazzan, would have given worlds of gold, if he had possessed them still, to hear it constantly with his waking ears.