“Very pretty, my Tirzah, very pretty!” he said with animation.
“The song?” she asked.
“Yes- and the singer, too. It has the conceit of a Greek. Where did you get it?”
“You remember the Greek who sang in the theatre last month? They said he used to be a singer at the court for Herod and his sister Salome. He came out just after an exhibition of wrestlers, when the house was full of noise. At his first note everything became so quiet that I heard every word. I got the song from him.”
“But he sang in Greek.”
“And I in Hebrew.”
“Ah, yes. I am proud of my little sister. Have you another as good?”
“Very many. But let them go now. Amrah sent me to tell you she will bring you your breakfast, and that you need not come down. She should be here by this time. She thinks you sick- that a dreadful accident happened you yesterday. What was it? Tell me, and I will help Amrah doctor you. She knows the cures of the Egyptians, who were always a stupid set; but I have a great many recipes of the Arabs who- ”
“Are even more stupid than the Egyptians,” he said, shaking his head.
“Do you think so? Very well, then,” she replied, almost without pause, and putting her hands to her left ear. “We will have nothing to do with any of them. I have here what is much surer and better- the amulet which was given to some of our people- I cannot tell when, it was so far back- by a Persian magician. See, the inscription is almost worn out.”
She offered him the ear-ring, which he took, looked at, and handed back, laughing.
“If I were dying, Tirzah, I could not use the charm. It is a relic of idolatry, forbidden every believing son and daughter of Abraham. Take it, but do not wear it any more.”
“Forbidden! Not so,” she said. “Our father’s mother wore it I do not know how many Sabbaths in her life. It has cured I do not know how many people- more than three anyhow. It is, approved- look, here is the mark of the rabbis.”
“I have no faith in amulets.”
She raised her eyes to his in astonishment.
“What would Amrah say?”
“Amrah’s father and mother tended sakiyeh for a garden on the Nile.”
“He says they are godless inventions of unbelievers and Shechemites.”
Tirzah looked at the ring doubtfully.
“What shall I do with it?”
“Wear it, my little sister. It becomes you- it helps make you beautiful, though I think you that without help.”
Satisfied, she returned the amulet to her ear just as Amrah entered the summer chamber, bearing a platter, with wash-bowl, water, and napkins.
Not being a Pharisee, the ablution was short and simple with Judah. The servant then went out, leaving Tirzah to dress his hair. When a lock was disposed to her satisfaction, she would unloose the small metallic mirror which, as was the fashion among her fair country-women, she wore at her girdle, and gave it to him, that he might see the triumph, and how handsome it made him. Meanwhile they kept up their conversation.