Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: The King's Delight
By Amy Michelle Wiley
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Our young queen, sweet Esther, is planning to burst upon the king in his inner sanctum. If the stories are to be believed, she knows full well the danger, and still dares break this sacred law. Will the kingdom loose two queens in so short a time? Is her mission worth her life?
I press closer to the queen’s room. She is praying again. What would it be like, I wonder, to have such faith in a god that you would place your very life in his hands? I hear the confidence in her voice. She trusts her God, no matter the outcome.
“Scribe.” A servant is suddenly at my elbow. “The king calls for you to make a record.”
Almost unconsciously, I reach for the parchment that hangs perpetually from my belt. I reach the king’s court and push all other thoughts aside, immersing myself in my work. We are in the midst of recording a mundane transaction when a faint rustle disturbs us.
I nearly drop my quill. Queen Esther stands alone in the courtyard, so vulnerable in the middle of the vast room, yet stunning in her innocent beauty.
I turn sharply toward the king just in time to see him notice her. His eyes widen. I look back to the queen as she lifts her gaze, beseeching the king, her husband. A faint hint of a flirtatious smile curves her trembling lips, and I marvel at her composure.
Then, from the corner of my eye, I see a movement. The king has raised his scepter. His eyes smile, finding delight in her presence.
I do not hear their conversation, so strong is my joy. The queen lives! As soon as I am excused I rush to the servant quarters, spreading the news that flows even faster than the fear had.
I have finally fallen into a fitful sleep when I am awakened. “Scribe, the king wants a reader of the records.”
In moments I stand in the king’s chambers, holding a book of chronicles. Though the intent of my reading is to lull the king back to sleep, I cannot keep excitement from tingeing my voice as I come to a recent entry. Mordecai, Queen Esther’s own secret protector, had overheard an assassination attempt against the king and was instrumental in saving the king’s life.
King Ahasuerus sits up straight. “What did we do to honor this Mordecai?”
I know the answer of course, but dutifully flip through the records. “Nothing was done, your majesty.”
His brow wrinkles slightly. A noise is heard beyond the wall and he brightens. “Who is in the court?”
A servant peers around the corner and scurries back to report. “Haman is there.”
“Splendid. Bring him in.”
The official’s footsteps can be heard long before he strides in. “My liege?”
I step into the shadows, my stomach churning at the sight of this man. He is the epitome of pride and evil, oozing power and malice. Somehow the king does not see this in him, and leans back on his bed.
“What would you advise to be done to the man the king delights to honor?”
I can see Haman’s emotions flashing over his face. His chin rises higher. Foolish man, he thinks the king speaks of him. I almost laugh, for Haman’s hatred of Mordecai is well-discussed among the servants.
But Haman has a one-track mind, capable only of thinking of himself. “Dress him in royal robes, clothes the king himself has worn, and let him ride upon a decorated steed. Let the king’s most noble officials prepare this man and horse and then parade them down the streets, announcing, ‘This is the treatment given to the man the king delights to honor!’”
The king nods firmly. “Yes, hurry and do just as you have said. The man is Mordecai the Jew.”
Haman’s jaw drops. Darkness fills his face with rage, but the king waves a hand of dismissal. “Be sure to do everything you’ve mentioned.”
Perhaps a bit of my amusement escaped my lips despite my best attempts, for the king notices me. “Record that.”
Oh, I most certainly will. This, indeed, is a day to be read about for years to come. And I… I will be the one to read it to the courts.
Based on Esther 4:12-6:11
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