Jesse stepped back from the one about to draw his gun. Please, you must tell me why you are doing this.
The soldier withdrew his hand from his holster. Come. You can hear for yourself, if you can keep your distance.
Jesse motioned Charles to follow. Each officer clasped one of Samuels arms and marched him to a gentlemens cigar room, where other officers interrogated Jews throughout the smoke-filled room. They approached the commander, who stood rigid in the center of the room with tightened lips and flared nostrils. Youve been a busy man, havent you, Samuel?
Jesse shook his head. I assure you my Samuel has done nothing wrong, sir.
The commander ignored Jesse; his eyes pierced Samuel. Havent you!
Samuel lowered his pale face and shuddered.
Jesse and Elizabeth crowded their son. Tell him you have done nothing wrong, Jesse said.
Yes Samuel, the commander said with a sneer, enlighten us.
Though hed vowed to avoid attracting attention, Charles bristled at the commanders tone and eased closer to his friends as Jesse reached his hand out. Please, sir, there must be some kind of mistake. Samuel hasnt
Your son violated our law! And you wonder why weve restricted Jewish immigration in Palestine?
Jesse squinted. I dont understand. What law has he broken? Hes been with me the entire trip. You must be confusing my Samuel with someone else.
The commander glanced at his clipboard. Several illegal immigrants with no passports have testified that your Samuel helped them onto this vessel in New York harbor. Isnt that right, Samuel?
Samuel kept his head down and shoulders in. Elizabeth wiped sweat from his face with the edge of her scarf.
The commander turned. Rabbi, your son lied to you. Zionist groups in New York and abroad are smuggling thousands of Jews into Palestine via reconditioned warships. Weve arrested ninety-seven illegal immigrants from the belly of this vessel.
Who gave you the right? Samuels cuffs jingled. You are no better than Nazis! He glanced up at his father with glossy eyes and shrugged, then lowered his head again.
Samuel Jesse took a big breath and tried to blink away tears.
Enough sentiment. The commander waved his white-gloved hand to a soldier. Take him.
Charles whole body tightened while guards ushered Samuel away. Thered be no need for any further confirmation of a British-Arab conspiracy. The blockade also validated skeptics who mocked Jesse for proclaiming Gods promises to posses their own land. Now the ridiculing whispers of how Jews could never topple the British and Arab forces made sense. When Charles set aside his feelings of friendship and thought about it logically, the rabbis quotes from the old book sounded like a fable.
Just one more thing, sir please, Jesses voice cracked. Where are you taking him?
The commander cocked his head back. Cyprus.
When the door opened, Charles followed Jesse to a ship steward standing in the hallway, with Elizabeth right behind them. Where is this Cyprus? Can you sail us there so I can get my son back?
The steward frowned. Thats a bad place, Rabbi. Its an island off the coast of Turkey, that ah we dont sail there. He squinted. I cant imagine why youd risk so much to enter Palestine anyway.
Jesse raised his hands and widened his eyes. In Amos, chapter nine, verses fourteen and fifteen, it says: I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them; they will also plant vineyards and drink their wine, and make gardens and eat their fruit. And Israel will not again be uprooted. He pointed his finger at the steward. And I will tell you something else: God will rescue my Samuel, because we will pray for his release.
The steward looked at Charles and rolled his eyes. You dont know what youre getting yourself into, sonny. The best advice I can give is to sail back to New York with us.