“Because ye have eyes that see not, and ears that hear not!” cried the priest impetuously. “Can you not see that the doctrines of the Scriptures are just those which Mohammed proclaims? He seizes upon them, he gives them as his own, because he knows they are good, yet he commits the sacrilege of posing as a divine agent! Good cannot come out of this except in so far as a few precepts of the Gospel, all plagiarized as they are, exert their influence upon the lives of people.”
Amzi looked inconvincible. “I grant the excellence of Gospel teaching,” he said, “but your conception of God’s love I cannot seem to feel, often as you have explained it to me. Mohammed’s revelations appear plausible. Yet, look not so doleful, brother. Amzi has not become a Mohammedan. He is still ready to believe as soon as he can see.”
“Yes, yes; like Thomas, you must see and feel ere you will believe. God grant that the seeing and feeling may not come too late!”
Amzi smiled, and passed his arm affectionately about the priest’s shoulder. “What a thorn in the flesh to you is Amzi the benevolent,” he said, kindly. “Notwithstanding, give me your blessing, priest. Give me credit for being, at least, honest, and bid me good speed before I go.”
“Heaven forbid that aught but blessing from Yusuf should ever follow Amzi!” returned the other, warmly. “May heaven keep and direct you, my friend, my brother!”
The friends embraced, according to the custom of the land, and separated; Amzi to join the half-naked pilgrims, who had not yet donned their traveling-robes, Yusuf to lift his heart to Heaven, as he now did in every circumstance. In this silent talk to God he received comfort, and his heart was filled with hope for Amzi.
Even this journey, which seemed so inauspicious, might, he thought, be but the beginning of a happy end. He had learned that there are no trifles in life; that no event is so insignificant that God may not make use of it. He felt that Amzi was not utterly indifferent to the influence of divine power, so he waited in patience.
Wherein is told the story of Nathan’s liberation.
“The winds, as at their
hour of birth,
Leaning upon the ridged sea,
Breathed low around the rolling earth
With mellow preludes, ‘We are free.’”
During all this time, there was no news of release for poor Nathan. In his close cell, ventilated by one little window, and, in the fetid odor of its air, he pined away. A low fever had rendered him exceedingly weak; he could not eat the wretched food of the prison; his face grew haggard, and his bones shone through the flesh with almost skeleton-like distinctness. Yet no murmur passed his lips.
From his window, set high in the wall, he could see the sun as it rose over Abu Kubays; he could catch the occasional glint of a bright wing as a dove or a swallow flitted past beneath the white sky; and he said, “God is still good, blessed be his name!”