Chapter 7 - Tizona Disappears Once Again!
Everyone looked at Joseph who was
still staring at the table in disbelief. Suddenly aware that
all eyes were on him, he stammered, “I don’t know! No one
came back here. Honest. I didn’t touch it. I didn’t tell
anyone or show it to anyone! The only person I saw the whole
time you were gone was the tailor’s wife.”
The room erupted in expressions of dismay and confusion,
everyone talking at once. Diego’s anger was directed at
“You promised the sword! I hold you responsible. If you know
something about this …” He stepped toward Zaina and looked
so threatening that everyone else in the room moved to block
“Stop! Calm yourselves!” Samuel’s booming voice commanded,
bringing an abrupt end to the uproar. “We’re not going to
solve this with yelling and accusations. We have to think.
How could this have happened?”
Silence followed for several long minutes. Martin pointed at
the single high window above a set of shelves at the back of
the room. “What’s out there?” he asked.
“The courtyard,” answered Joseph. “But someone would have to
be pretty tall to climb through there.”
Martin crossed to the window and examined the shelves below.
Some dirt on the linen and a partial footprint on a shelf
told the story. “Whoever it was, this is how he got in,” he
said shaking his head.
“But who would know?” wondered Samuel aloud.
“Malik,” whispered Zaina.
Farajj looked like someone had struck him. “What are you
“You told Ibrahim about the sword. And I know Malik was
listening. He was teasing me about causing trouble.”
“But why would he…”
“I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. But who else could
“And he probably knows everything,” Joseph added shaking his
head. “If he was standing out in the courtyard while we were
discussing the sword, he would certainly have had no trouble
Samuel winced and then glanced at his son with a look of
disapproval. “My son, in spite of showing no respect for his
father, is nonetheless right. Which means we have no time to
lose. We must find Malik … and soon.”
Farajj, still visibly shaken, agreed. “Then we must go to
Ibrahim’s home right away,” he said sadly. “His son may be
there. If not, Ibrahim may be able to tell us where to find
him. In either case Ibrahim must be told …”
“That his son is a thief!” Diego finished angrily.
At that, Zaina burst into tears. As her father tried to
console her, the others, including Martin, glared at Diego
“Let’s go,” ordered Samuel. “Joseph, you stay here and …”
“Father, no!” Joseph blurted. “Please!”
Samuel relented. “Alright then, we’ll close the shop. Now
let’s get to Ibrahim’s.”
In spite of their haste, it took a little while for the
seven of them to reach the home of Ibrahim and his family,
which stood adjacent to the stables near the edge of town.
Along the way, the group passed many curious faces and more
than a few shouted questions, all of which they ignored.
“Ibrahim’s family are livestock traders,” Samuel explained
to Martin as they hurried down a narrow lane. “Horses,
mainly. I can assure you, it is an honest, honorable family.
I can’t imagine why Malik would do such a thing. His family
is among the town’s richest. They are in no need of money.”
“There is more to this, isn’t there -- for Zaina and her
father?” Martin inquired.
“Yes. Malik is the man Zaina is expected to marry. We’ve
been anticipating that marriage for several years. Farajj
and Ibrahim were friends long before Malik or Zaina were
Finally the stables came into view. Just beyond sat a large
stone house. Farajj and Zaina led the way. “Ibrahim!” Farajj
shouted as he banged on the door. “Ibrahim, we need to speak
“Over here!” came the answer from the direction of the
stables. They turned to see the wiry, graying horse trader
emerge from the stable entrance, a pitchfork in his hand.
“What is it, Farajj?” he called. “What’s the matter?”
Before Farajj could answer, Diego demanded, “Where is your
son? He has taken …”
A swift strike from the back of Samuel’s hand cut Diego off.
To Martin, Samuel growled, “Can you please get him to mind
Martin pulled the stunned Diego aside. “I have no doubt that
someday you will make a great knight. But your diplomatic
skills leave much to be desired. Please let these good
people handle this!” Diego, sullenly nursing a split lip,
“We should go inside,” said Farajj to his old friend.
With formal grace, Ibrahim offered the hospitality of his
house to the small crowd of unexpected visitors. His
flustered wife hurried off to get some fruit while they
arranged themselves, finding seats or standing in the large,
richly decorated front room.
Martin marveled at the colorful patterned tapestries that
covered the walls and the glass vases that graced the mantle
of the room’s immense fireplace. Malik certainly didn’t
steal the sword for profit, he concluded.
With a halting voice, Farajj explained to Ibrahim what they
believed had happened. Stunned and bewildered by what he
heard, Ibrahim struggled to tell them what he knew.
“Malik came home all in a rush earlier today. He took his
horse from the stable. When I asked him where he was going,
he just said that he was going for a ride. I didn’t see a
Ibrahim held his head in his hands. “Are you sure it was
Malik?” he asked. “Why would he take a sword belonging to El
Cid? It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Think, my old friend,” urged Farajj. “Has there been
anything different about Malik recently? Has he said
anything or done anything that might give us a clue as to
where he’s gone?”
Ibrahim rubbed his forehead as he considered the question.
“He has lately taken an interest in the al-Murabitun -- the
Almoravids,” he said at last. “As you know, several of their
people have spoken at the mosque. Malik seems persuaded by
their arguments. He’s referred to them as the saviors of
“Saviors?” said Farajj incredulously. “The Almoravids are
Amazighs (Berbers) -- barbarians from Africa.”
“Good soldiers, though. According to Malik they’ve come to
defend the Muslim kingdoms from worse barbarians -- King
Alfonso and his Christian knights. Ever since Alfonso took
Toledo, the other kingdoms have lived in fear of his
Martin could see that Diego was about to say something,
probably regarding being called a barbarian. A quick elbow
to the ribs reminded Diego of his agreement to stay out of
the discussion, but it also earned Martin a menacing glare.
Ibrahim continued, “Malik agrees with the Almoravids when
they say that many of the Muslim kingdoms of Spain have
“None of us can argue with that,” observed Samuel. “Just
look at what happened in Toledo. The people hated al-Qadir
even more than they feared Alfonso.”
“Unjust taxes can have that effect,” Farajj wryly added.
Ibrahim nodded agreement. “But Malik believes that because
of this, the Almoravids will overthrow all of the corrupt
kings and unite Al-Andalus under a single rule once more.
Farajj shrugged. “He may be right. The ruler of Granada has
already been deposed and sent into exile in Africa.” He
paused and rubbed the stubble on his chin. “But what could
any of this have to do with Malik and the sword?”
It was Zaina’s quiet voice that broke the awkward silence
that followed. “Malik has gone to earn favor for his family
with the Almoravids,” she stated flatly. Immediately, Zaina
had everyone’s attention. But as she looked at their faces,
she could see that they were expecting more of an
Rising from her seat by the fireplace, she began to pace as
she continued, “If I understand them correctly, the
Almoravids believe in a more strict observance of Islam.
They do not approve of some of our Andalusian traditions. In
fact, there are quite a number of things about Al-Andalus
they see as immoral. Malik believes the Almoravids will win
control of Spain, and he wants to ensure that Almoravid
leaders see this family and this town in a favorable light.
He thinks he’s doing it for us.”
“Doing what?” asked Joseph, still uncomprehending.
“He’s gone to present the Almoravid king with the prized
possession of his most famous and deadly enemy -- the sword
of El Cid.”