Mohammed sent for the woman who had brought him the mutton. She came at once.
“Know you who put the poison in this meat?” he asked.
“It was I,” she confessed, boldly.
“And how dared you perpetrate so wicked a scheme?”
“If you were a true prophet,” she replied, “you would have known that the meat was poisoned; if not, it were a favor to Arabia to rid it of such a despot.”
“See then,” exclaimed the prophet, “how Allah hath preserved the life of his apostle! Behold, I forgive you. Return to your tribe, and sin not in like manner again.”
So saying, with one of his strange freaks of magnanimity, he waved her off, and soon afterward went to rest.
MANASSEH AND KEDAR AT MECCA.
“Home, sweet home.”
The flame of a smoky oil-dip dimly lighted a spacious room in the house of Amzi. At the low table sat Yusuf and his friend with a chart before them, anxiously following, with eye and finger, the course of Mohammed’s northern exploits.
The thoughts of both were with Manasseh. A knock sounded at the bolted door. Yusuf opened it, and there, like a cameo in the setting of darkness, was the youth himself.
“Manasseh, my son!” cried both in astonishment.
He stepped in, now laughing, now brushing tears from his eyes. “There!” he said, freeing himself from their embraces, “I have one more surprise. I come like a grandee, bearing my company in a litter. Help me bring him in.”
They stepped out, and Manasseh’s second face, that of Kedar, peered from the curtains of the shugduf. None the less warm was the greeting extended to the Moslem, whose weak and trembling frame was an instant call upon their sympathy.
“Now,” said Manasseh, piling up a heap of cushions, in his impetuous way, “get us some supper, will you not? I can eat my own share, and half of Kedar’s. Like the birds, he takes but a peck at a time.”
Supper was ordered, and soon attendants entered bearing platters, until the copper table was burdened with the most tempting dishes of Mecca—roast of spiced lamb, slices of juicy melon and cucumber, pyramids of rice, pomegranates, grapes of Tayf, sweetmeats, fragrant draughts of coffee.
Kedar watched with a languid smile. The peace of this quiet home life affected him almost to tears. Strange had been his emotions when he awoke to consciousness in the shugduf, alone with Manasseh, in the wilderness—feelings first of indignation, then of gratitude, then of admiration for Manasseh, in whom he now discovered the leader of the Jewish horse. And on the way this admiration had ripened into love for the unselfish Jewish youth.
The weariness of the long journey began to tell upon him now, and he was glad that he was among friends. He could eat but little, and was content to listen to Manasseh’s bright talk, and to watch him as, with flashing eye and eloquent gesture, he fought over again the Battle of Khaibar, or when, with hushed tone and tearful eye, he told of the death of Asru, and his lonely burial.