“You can rest here,” Hevedke said. “My wife will take care of you. She’s a nurse.”
He pushed open a door with a shove. Across the small room, Hava sat at a table folding clothes. She stood up as her husband barged in, carrying the stranger on his back. With a grunt, Hevedke dropped Tevye onto the bed. He rolled onto his side so that his daughter couldn’t get a look at his face.
“He fell off a horse,” Hevedke said. “I’ll run and fetch a doctor.”
“Who is he?” Hava asked.
“I don’t know. A traveler from out of town. He can’t speak. The Turks slit his throat.”
“How awful,” Hava said.
Tevye heard the door close and the sound of Hevedke’s footsteps hurrying away down the stairs. Reaching around to his back, he grabbed onto his traitorous disc and gave it a shove back into place. Almost immediately, his pain went away.
‘I’ll bring you some water,” Hava said.
“Don’t bother,” he answered.
Hava was already pouring water from a pitcher when he spoke. The voice was strangely familiar. Surprised, she looked up at the turbaned stranger as he sat up on the bed. Their eyes briefly met.
“Abba!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
Tevye held up a finger to his mouth. “Not so loud,” he said.
“Why are you dressed like an Arab?” his daughter asked in confusion.
“I bought a costume for Purim.”
“Purim is two months away.”
“How often do I get into the city?”
“Why did you tell Issac that a Turk slit your throat?” she asked.
“I never told him anything of the kind. He jumped to conclusions.”
“But why all the secrecy?” she asked.
“I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well you certainly have. But why did you make Issac rush off for a doctor?”
“Well, I did fall off my horse. That much is true. But I am feeling much better. Anyway, I can’t explain matters now. I have to get going. There is a lot of work waiting for me back at the colony.”
“You just got here!” Hava protested.
“Yes, but now that I see that everything is all right with you two, I have to set back on my journey. By the way, what are you doing here?”
“I took a three-day vacation from the hospital.”
“I’m glad,” Tevye said.
He stepped forward and kissed his daughter on the cheek.
“Be sure to come visit us soon,” he added as he hurrily walked to the door.
“Abba, wait!” she called, running after him. “This doesn’t make sense. Where are you going? What should I tell Issac?”
Tevye stopped on the stairs. ‘‘Don’t say it was me. Tell him I got up and left. Let him think he did a good deed for a stranger.”
“Abba, I don’t understand,” Hava called.
But Tevye didn’t answer. He rushed down the stairs. He didn’t want to be around when Hevedke returned. His mission was accomplished. His heart was at rest. His daughter had truly found herself a genuine Rabbi Akiva.