The man leaves. Ramon slumps back in his chair. Necromancer jumps onto the table, and opens his mouth so each tiny, sharp tooth is visible, and mews for food. With a wide sweep of his arm, Ramon shoves the cat off the table.

“Today you can find your own dinner,” he says.

Necromancer spits, then slinks out of the room.

It cannot be happenstance. The Call cannot be so populous that more people are housing gentiles. Who else can the man be talking of, but the people who are sheltering Jocef? Scholar Samuel and his daughter — the girl Jocef wants to marry one day.

A sudden fury shivers through him. This, this is the way he is repaid? He saves Jocef’s life and now he must be entangled in an accusation against the woman who is nursing him back to health? It is humiliating, unfair.

He takes a deep breath, throws on his cloak, and steps out into the street.

It is cooler tonight. Every night since he arrived, night seemed to be a thick blanket of heat that slowed his footsteps and saw him sucking in great chestfuls of air. Tonight, there is a light wind. The seasons are turning, summer is still here, undoubtedly, but she has turned her sights to other lands, ready to travel on and settle in other countries, places strange and wild and beautiful.

It is already dark when he reaches the Call.

“Who goes there?” the guards call, when he bangs upon the iron gate.

He does not answer, but shows them the sign of the inquisition, sewn onto his black cloak. They look at him with deep distrust, but draw open the huge gates, standing back, away from him, as if he carries pestilence. He strides inside.

The gates clang closed behind him.

Although it is night, the narrow streets are alive; mothers, fathers, children fleeing their stuffy homes, gulping down the cool air as if it is water. Down the middle of the street, there is a line of crouching boys. One child jumps over each human obstacle, in turn, finishing with a whoop of triumph. Old men kneel around a stool — Ramon hears the slap of cards and the tinkle of coins. A cluster of women laugh — raucous and melodious, all at once.

The people fall silent as he passes. He wants to shake his head, bid them to continue, continue this churn and chaos of humanity, for it is here that living takes place, not in the cloisters of a priory, not in the Black House, but here on the streets, where people jostle and push each other to feel the air.

A sudden envy shoots through him. These people have a home; more, they are at home in themselves. Whether their fathers were candle makers or silversmiths, vintners or vinegar makers, their lives were the legacy that they left for their children. A gruff laugh, a favorite melody, a joke or poem, worn thin with use, imitated, and poked fun of, perhaps, but still there, anchoring their lives. His mind turns to Bernat, his brother for all intents and purposes, and Friar Pere.

Hush these thoughts, Ramon. What has become of you? A turn, and he sees the North Gates up in the distance. Which means that here, the first house beside the gates, is the home of Mose ben Isaac. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 593)