With a host of ten thousand men, Mohammed set out over the barren plains, and through the defiles of the mountains. Like a vast funeral procession the long train wound its way in a silence broken only by the dull tread of the beasts and the whispered ejaculations of the soldiers. In the night they reached the appointed valley. Lines of men came pouring in from every side, and at last, as a signal to all the rest, Omar, the chief in command, gave the order that the watch-fires be lighted,—and at once every summit sent up its spire of flame.
The citizens of Mecca were stricken with awe.
“I myself will go and see what this means,” said Abu Sofian; and with a single companion he set out over the hills. As they stood in sight of the great host below, the step of men sounded near them. They were seized as spies, and hurried off to the tent of Omar.
The bright light of Omar’s camp-fire revealed the white hair and flashing eye of the grim old warrior.
“By the prophet of Allah! Ye have brought in a rich prize!” exclaimed Omar, and his dagger flashed in the firelight as he drew it to plunge into Abu Sofian’s bosom. But deliverance was near. Out from the darkness galloped Al Abbas, uncle of Mohammed, mounted on the prophet’s white mule. He caught the Meccan up with him, and hastened off to the tent of the prophet.
“Ha!” exclaimed Mohammed, “you have come at last, Abu Sofian, to acknowledge the supremacy of the prophet of Allah?”
“I come,” said Abu Sofian surlily, “to beg mercy for my people.”
“Will you, then, acknowledge Mohammed as the prophet of God? Do this, Abu Sofian, and thy life shall be spared, and terms of peace granted to all Meccans who are willing to follow their leader’s example.”
Abu Sofian gave a surly assent, and was set free. Favorable terms for the inhabitants of the city were then presented to him; and, that he might be able to take back with him a full account of the strength of the prophet’s army, he was placed with Al Abbas at the head of a narrow defile, through which the whole army, with fluttering banners and proudly flapping standards, passed before him.
Even the stern old warrior stood aghast at the mighty multitude. He returned to the city, and, from the roof of the Caaba, once more assembled the people of Mecca. Then, while they listened, with bowed heads and heaving sobs, he told them of the great host, of the uselessness of resistance, and of the terms offered in case of submission. To this course, humiliating as it was, he strongly urged them. Silent in despair, or weeping wildly, they returned to their homes, and that night the darkness which fell seemed like a pall upon the stricken city.
THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRANCE INTO MECCA.
“One murder made a villain; millions, a hero.”—Porteus.
Upon the following morning ere the sun rose, a deputation was sent to the prophet to inform him that his terms had been accepted.