One dark night in 1530, a Spanish priest rides away from a small town carrying a little boy to safety from the Inquisition. Fifteen years later, Beneto is a high-spirited student in Salamanca. He has an anonymous guardian and senses some mystery about his past. But everyone is talking about the New World - recently discovered - so he decides to leave his studies and sail west.
On the ship, Beneto notices peculiar things about the captain, Don Francisco. He never sets sail on Saturday, and when he sees a crippled beggar nicknamed "the Jew," he gives him gold coins. On their return, Don Francisco is arrested by the Inquisition and accused of practicing Judaism. From prison, he entrusts his daughter to Beneto's care.
In the meantime, Beneto's mysterious guardian turns out to be his uncle and the head of a monastery. Near death, he tells Beneto about his Jewish origins: how Beneto's father and grandfather remained Jews while he converted to Christianity.
The book ends when Beneto and Don Francisco's daughter sail away from Spain, far from the Inquisition. The book was awarded the prestigious Ze'ev Prize in 1993.
Illustrations: Avi Katz