The fallout from Prince Ahmed’s death was devastating. The entire country believed the Jews had committed the assassination and every peasant in the street was thirsty for revenge. Soldiers were sent by the Imam to place the Jewish Quarter under siege.

“Under order of the great Imam, no Jew is permitted to step foot outside this area!” the captain of the Imam’s guard declared to the terrified Jews. “A royal decree has been sent forth declaring death upon the entire Jewish community!”

A terrible cry issued from the hundreds of Jews standing before the captain and his soldiers.

“You only have one chance for pardon,” the captain shouted, surveying the petrified faces before him. “Our forgiving Imam promises to spare everyone if you hand over the people who committed the assassination!”

“But we didn’t kill the prince!” Chacham Bashi replied. “It was one of your own men! We would never lay a hand on Prince Ahmed!”

“LIES!” the captain spat, grasping at the saber at his side. “You have three days to hand over the culprits. If by nightfall of the third day you fail to deliver the murderers to us, then we will return — this time with our sabers unsheathed.”

 

Back at the palace, Yair the Wise One threw himself at the Imam’s feet and begged for mercy.

“My Honorable Ruler, you must not follow through with your threat of annihilation! The Jews of Yemen have been nothing but loyal to you for centuries!” Yair cried.

“Loyal, you say?” the Imam roared. Tears fell from his eyes into his long beard. “I heard eyewitness accounts of how they mercilessly thrust a dagger into my beloved son! They are a treacherous group of thieves and animals!”

“People have lied to you!” Yair insisted. “People from my nation would not do this!”

“Then how do you explain the sudden change in my son’s schedule?” the Imam growled, clenching his fists tightly. “Someone wanted my child to be at that location at that exact time! This was a planned assassination!”

“Yes, but the mastermind could not have been one of the Jews!” Yair declared. “Perhaps one of your enemies wanted to strike at you where it would hurt most.”

“Perhaps you are that enemy,” the Imam whispered, staring with wild eyes at Yair. “How can I trust you when my son was just murdered in the Jewish Quarter?”

“Please, don’t speak like this.” Yair stared nervously at the distraught ruler. “You need my counsel.”

“Not anymore,” the Imam said, rising to his feet. “Leave me! I have others whom I can trust!”

“Others like me.” Qazima entered the room with a sickening smile on his tiny face. “Your master told you to go, so leave already! I will help our great leader in all of his matters!”

“Only a wicked man could smile the day after his master’s child was brutally murdered,” Yair whispered to Qazima as soldiers came into the room to take the Jewish advisor away.

“I’m smiling because I’ve longed to see your downfall for so long!” Qazima whispered back with a happy laugh. “Goodbye now!” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 715)