“Quite sure, dear mother, for I was a witness to its being cut off.”
“If that is the case,” replied my mother, “he can never come back again, that’s clear. Allah acbar—God is great. Then must we mourn.” And my mother ran out into the street before the door, shrieking and screaming, tearing her hair and her garments, so as to draw the attention and sympathy of all her neighbours, who asked her what was the matter. “Ah! wahi, the head of my house is no more,” cried she, “my heart is all bitterness—my soul is dried up—my liver is but as water; ah! wahi, ah! wahi,” and she continued to weep and tear her hair, refusing all consolation. The neighbours came to her assistance; they talked to her, they reasoned with her, restrained her violence, and soothed her into quietness. They all declared that it was a heavy loss, but that a true believer had gone to Paradise; and they all agreed that no woman’s conduct could be more exemplary, that no woman was ever more fond of her husband. I said nothing, but I must acknowledge that, from her previous conversation with me, and the quantity of pilau which she devoured that evening for her supper, I very much doubted the fact.
I did not remain long at home, as, although it was my duty to acquaint my mother with my father’s death, it was also my duty to appear to return to my corps. This I had resolved never more to do. I reflected that a life of quiet and ease was best suited to my disposition, and I resolved to join some religious sect. Before I quitted my mother’s roof I gave her thirty sequins, which she was most thankful for, as she was in straitened circumstances. “Ah!” cried she, as she wrapt up the money carefully in a piece of rag, “if you could only have brought back your poor father’s head, Hudusi!”—I might have told her that she had just received what I had sold it for—but I thought it just as well to say nothing about it; so I embraced her, and departed.
There was a sort of dervishes, who had taken up their quarters about seven miles from the village where my mother resided, and as they never remained long in one place, I hastened to join them. On my arrival, I requested to speak with their chief, and imagining that I was come with the request of prayers to be offered up on behalf of some wished-for object, I was admitted.
“Khoda shefa midehed—God gives relief,” said the old man. “What wishest thou, my son? Khosh amedeed—you are welcome.”
I stated my wish to enter into the sect, from a religious feeling; and requested that I might be permitted.
“Thou knowest not what thou askest, my son. Ours is a hard life, one of penitence, prostration, and prayer—our food is but of herbs and the water of the spring; our rest is broken, and we know not where to lay our heads. Depart, yaha bibi, my friend, depart in peace.”