It was with no little trepidation that Yusuf and Amzi watched for some sign of spiritual growth in the young Bedouin. As the days wore on, and he was able to get about, though still weak, he was willing to attend the Christian meetings; but he sat in silence, and persisted in wearing the garb of a Moslem. The friends did not understand his attitude. They did not recognize the sort of petulant shamefacedness that hindered him from coming forth boldly in defence of principles which he fully endorsed in his secret heart, and made him fear to cut himself loose from the side on which he had taken so bold a stand, lest the epithet of “turncoat,” be fixed upon him. Kedar had not yet been touched by that “live coal” which alone can set man in touch with God, and free him from all human restrictions. But though he said little, he was thinking deeply. He was not indifferent; and there is ever great room for hope where there is not indifference.
And while the little Meccan household was thus engrossed in its own circle, momentous events were happening without the capital.
During the months that followed, Mohammed still went on in his career of conquest—a course rendered easier day by day, as his enemies were now weak indeed. The tribes of Watiba, Selalima and Bedr speedily gave way before him, but were permitted to remain in their homes upon the payment of a heavy yearly tribute.
He made one more pilgrimage to Mecca, and on this occasion the Koreish, in accordance with the truce, offered no resistance; hence for three days the prophet and his shaven followers walked the streets of Mecca, and performed Tawaf at the Temple.
Mohammed found the Caaba still desecrated by idols, and, while pressing his lips to the sacred Black Stone, he solemnly vowed to conquer Mecca and to remove the pollution of images from the floor of the sanctuary.
In the meantime, the prophet enticed many of the most prominent families of Mecca to his standard. By his marriage with the aunt of Khaled Ibn Waled he secured the alliance of that famous soldier; and by marrying Omm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sofian, he hoped to gain the friendship of his ancient and inveterate enemy.
But time seemed to lag, and his restless spirit soon set itself to look about for some pretext by which he might attack Mecca. A casual skirmish of a few soldiers of the Koreish with a detachment of his soldiers gave the necessary excuse, and he at once charged the Koreish with having broken the truce. They were anxious to make overtures of peace, but Mohammed would listen to nothing.
All saw plainly that no concessions would conciliate a conqueror thus bent upon hostility, and the attitude of Mecca became that of a patient waiting, a dread looking for a surely impending calamity ready to fall at any hour.
And yet, when it did come, the Meccans were not expecting it, so silent, so sudden was the swoop of the conqueror. Every road leading to Mecca was barred by Mohammed, so that none might tell of his plans. All his allies received a mysterious summons to meet him at a point some distance from Mecca, and they came none the less readily that they did not know why they were thus assembled.