“Dear father,” whispered the youth, and kissed his cheek.
A smile spread over the old man’s face. His lips formed the words “My son!” His eyes closed, and the old Bedouin was dead.
The women broke into a low wail, and Kedar, with a tenderness not of the old time, strove to comfort his mother. The rites of anointing the body for burial were performed, and all through the evening the different members of the tribe gathered mournfully in to take a last look at the brave old leader.
When night fell Kedar went out; the atmosphere of the tent seemed to choke him. Manasseh stood silently by his side. The wail of the women sounded in a low burial-song from within, and groups of men, talking in whispers, gathered before the door.
Kedar stood with folded arms and head thrown back, looking upon the heavens. A star fell. Every Bedouin bowed his head, for the Arabs believe that when a star falls a soul ascends to paradise.
“Manasseh,” said Kedar in a low tone, “I cannot let them bury him. They would do it with half-heathen rites.”
“Can none among all these conduct Christian service?”
“Not one. My mother is the only one who knows aught of Christianity.”
“Then,” said Manasseh, “if you will let me, I shall offer prayers above his grave.”
“No, Manasseh,” said Kedar decidedly, “these people would resent it in a stranger. I shall do it; they will grant me the privilege as the right of a son.”
“And rightly,” exclaimed Manasseh, surprised and pleased at the staunchness with which his cousin took his new stand.
On the following day the funeral wound slowly up the defile to the place of the lonely grave. And there Kedar prayed simply and earnestly, a prayer in which the spiritual enlightenment of the sorrowful people about him was the chief theme. They did not understand all its meaning, but they were impressed by the solemnity and sincerity of the young Arab’s manner.
Then the little heap of sand was raised, and four stone slabs were placed, according to Bedouin custom, upon the grave.
THE DEATH OF MOHAMMED.
“Nothing can we call our own but death”—Shakespeare.
While Musa thus lay dying in the tents of Nejd, the cold hand of death was fast closing upon another in the land of Arabia. Day by day the germs of disease pulsed stronger and stronger through the veins of Mohammed. Monarch of Arabia, originator of a creed which was eventually to push itself throughout Egypt, India, Afghanistan, Persia, and even to the wild steppes of Siberia, he must now die. He viewed the end with firmness, and it has been a matter of controversy as to whether in these later days he still had the hallucination of being a prophet.
Too feeble to walk to the mosque, he lay, tended by his wives, in the tent of Ayesha, his favorite. Not many days before his death he asked that he might be carried to the mosque. Willing arms bore him thither, and placed him in the pulpit, from whence he could look down upon the city, and away to the palm-groves of Kuba. Then, turning his face towards the holy city, Mecca, he addressed the crowds of waiting people below.