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The time came
(Nathan, one the of
cloth merchants peddling
outside the suburbs of Jerusalem,
stood in the doorway
of his little shop,
staring in the direction
of a parting couple: his
mouth agape. Then he turned
his head back toward the little doorway:
eyes dramatically opened wide
at his plump wife, Leisha.)
"How could you have
DONE that, Le'sha?
What were you THINKING?"
(Leisha, used to her
merely shrugged her
gave a little wave of
her plump hand.)
It was NOTHING!
COME! The stew's
(Leisha reached out
and grabbed onto the
sleeve of her husband's
(Nathan, his mouth
still agape, shook his
head and followed his
wife inside: noisily shuffling
his sandaled feet. Just before
shutting the door however,
he turned to give a frowning
glance at the parting couple,
now much further down the
dusty road: the young man was
slowing leading their sturdy donkey
by a little rein;
the wife, obviously quite pregnant,
was sitting quietly on top of the donkey.
Nathan's gnarly hoarse voice rose, again.)
"Have you lost your
HEAD, Le'sha? Do you know how costly that
BOLT was? I REMEMBER ARGUING
with that cloth MERCHANT, from
Egypt! Don't you REMEMBER?
We almost got into a FIST FIGHT,
over that CLOTH!"
(Leisha merely smiled, and nodded,
absentmindedly; she was used
to her husband's dramatics.
Leisha was already stirring the thick soup
in the heavy clay pot with a wooden ladle:
thick dollops of fat rose to the surface
of the broth. The little shop, closed now for the day,
smelled of dusty bolts of recently dyed cloth,
burnt out candles, spicy vegetable soup,
and freshly baked bread.)
"Ah, Nathan! COME!
Sit DOWN! EAT!
It was NOTHING:
just a few bare THREADS left on the BOLT!
COME! Just EAT!"
(Still shaking his head
and muttering, Nathan
sat down, ungracefully,
on a large, plump pillow:
it was sewn with the leftovers
of several different colors
of old cloth. Nathan reached
out for a piece of bread.)
(Leisha reached out to
tap his wrist.)
A few moments of
silence followed, while
Leisha sat down beside
her husband at their
little wooden table on
another big pillow on the floor,
settling down a bit more gracefully,
and Nathan began murmuring quickly in Hebrew.
Then the sounds of clay bowls being ladled
with spicy soup filled the heavy, dusty air.)
"At least, you could
have CHARGED them,
Le'sha! What you just
DID, was an EMBARRASSMENT to
(Sounds of munching crusts of bread,
and the slurping of thick soup.)
"Oh, NATHAN! It
was nothing but a few
"They were OBVIOUSLY quite
poor! And, TRAVELING! She was
going to need something to wrap the
(Nathan frowned heavily, and continued
munching bread. Then he swallowed, and shook his head. He lifted a leathery finger towards the back of the shop. Then, he
licked his dripping finger.)
"SO? WHY didn't you
just GIVE them a cut
of cloth off my CHEAP
fabrics? I have DOZENS of them!"
(Nathan irritably dipped another slice
of crusty bread into
his soup. He grunted,
"ANYTHING to wrap
a BABY. As long as it's
(Leisha merely nodded:
munching, and nodding.
She shrugged: obviously, this talk was
going to go on into the
night, and start up again, at breakfast.
She was used to it.)
"NATHAN! It was NOTHING! Just a few
pieces of THREAD!"
(Leisha lifted one hand, and dramatically
sifted her plump fingers together.)
"Just a small REMNANT off the
It was the bare THREADS!"
"Of the FINEST bolt
I had, in my SHOP!"
"There were gold threads in that BOLT!
And, the FINEST threads of
dyed PURPLE and BLUE....from Egypt!
What: were you being.....CRAZY?"
(Leisha lifted her
big dark eyes to the
as if in silent prayer.
Then, she sighed heavily as if she were
in the final deep moments of awaiting
"Oy! It was a little
GIFT, Nathan! For the
poor young girl! She
was younger than our GRANDDAUGHTER!
It was......like a little GIFT!"
"They were merely
They were STRANGERS! Not
FAMILY! You're driving me into POVERTY!
(Nathan pointed a leathery finger
to his chest: it was still covered
with the old stained apron that he
used while storing, and cutting out
bolts of the hand-woven cloth.)
I'm an EMBARRASSMENT to
put a plump hand to
her stomach, and sighed heavily.)
"What do you WANT
me to DO, NATHAN:
run AFTER them?
And, STEAL back the
CLOTH? It was NOTHING!
(Nathan slammed a leathery fist
down on the old wooden
table: it was more like
a soft slap that barely
rattled his clay bowl
of spicy smelling soup.)
"HOW could you STEAL it back, when
you never even CHARGED them, for IT?
I TELL you, you're going to RUN me
into the GROUND!"
(Leisha sighed audibly,
and lifted her eyes to
the dusty, shadowed ceiling, again.)
(Nathan munched noisily, and mumbled
"That cloth was fit
for a PRINCE!"
she gave birth
her first-born son
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