“How much for this one?” Jaaleb had discovered another addition for his master’s collection. This one exceeded all the others, but Jaaleb took care not appear too eager.
“Twenty.” The vendor turned the prize sideways so Jaaleb could inspect it once again.
“Ten,” Jaaleb knew the routine at the bazaars. Haggle. “And no more. Look at this.” He pointed to an obvious flaw. “Are you trying to cheat me?”
“Twenty. This kind is rare and a little flaw doesn’t matter. Makes it better. Gives it character.” The vendor folded his arms over his chest, waiting.
Jaaleb turned to walk away, hesitated and countered the bid. “I can go twelve, but no more. My master will have me whipped if I use his coins unwisely.”
The vendor scratched at his long beard watching for hope of a better offer within his bargainer. “This one’s experienced, even if he is young,” the vendor thought. “You are a good steward of your master’s coins. You may have this one for fifteen.” Jaaleb frowned. The price was still too high for the bazaar, but this was an exceptional find.
“Flattery should be free, not included in your price. It’s still covered with dirt. You want me to pay you for that as well? Twelve.”
“You expect me to bring this to the bazaar for free? My camels must eat. My children must eat. I believe you are wanting to make me a beggar. Thirteen.”
“Very well. Thirteen. May my master be merciful to me for allowing you to over charge me.”
The vendor counted the coins three times before he handed over the merchandise. “I have others. Come back tomorrow and we shall bargain for them then.”
Jaaleb arrived at his compound as the sun set. Meal preparation had begun and the aroma of roasting calf greeted him at the gate. “You have finally arrived from the bazaar. I see you succeeded in your quest.” The steward inspected the latest purchase carefully. “The master will be very pleased with this one. Needs some soap and water, but otherwise exquisite. You seem to have a special gift for finding these treasures.” Jaaleb reported to the treasury for the accounting of the coins.
The steward called for the women to take charge of the cleanup. The new acquisition must understand his new role as a slave. Humiliation, being bathed by women, had proved effective in reducing a young man’s pride. “What shall we call you?” The women assigned the names to all the new acquisitions. Another way to further subdue the newly acquired ones. “You look Hebrew to me. Are you?” the scrub mistress asked.
“My name is Joseph. I am Hebrew.”
“I did not ask your name, insolent one. We will give you a proper name when we are done. You would do well to mind how you speak.” The scrubbing continued.
“Your name shall be left as it is. A reminder of what you are.” The scrub mistress laughed.
“Wear this,” she said. Joseph dressed quickly, trying to cover himself from their gaze. “Jaaleb does have a gift for finding the best ones. I’d never thought he’d look that good scrubbed.” The women talked among themselves waiting for Joseph to finish.
“Follow me. The master wishes to inspect Jaaleb’s purchase.” Joseph was led away to meet Potiphar, his master.
“Enter with your head bowed or you risk a beating. You must never speak unless spoken to first.” Jaaleb gave Joseph a quick lesson on etiquette before presenting him. The lesson, if well learned, protected both of them.
The salon doors opened and the steward barked, “Enter.”
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