Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)
TITLE: The Fragrance of Faith
By Donna Powers
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ADD TO MY FAVORITES
But Esther would not listen to me.
My name is Faraz. I am the royal perfumer. It has been my honor, for the last twenty years, to prepare fragrances for King Xerxes, of Persia. I’ve discovered, over time, what pleases him. I use the finest spices and oils to anoint the ladies of his court and, when the time comes, I provide the spices needed to prepare the dead.
I was afraid I would soon have to prepare those spices for Queen Esther.
King Xerxes has many demands. Of course, this is common with kings; but with Xerxes, nothing is left to chance. All his food is prepared by master chefs; his clothes by the finest tailors, his furnishings of the most costly materials and his ladies are world- renowned for their beauty.
But Xerxes is not content for his ladies to be merely beautiful.
When a woman first comes to his court, she receives a year of training to ready herself, before she meets him. She learns what will please him. Her hair and nails are styled in the way he likes and her clothing is fashioned in the way he has specified.
And, before she goes to meet the King, she visits with me.
King Xerxes is especially particular about the way his ladies smell. Of course, all of them are anointed with myrrh, from the day of their arrival; that is a common practice in this region. But Xerxes demands a unique experience from every woman, so he asks me to prepare a personal fragrance, for each one. I take pride in fashioning these fragrances, and Esther’s was no exception.
From the moment she arrived, I knew she was special. She was lovely – of course – but it was her personality that charmed me. She is as lovely on the inside as she is, on the outside. She is joyful, sweet and kind; everyone is enchanted by her. And, when I prepared her special fragrance, before she went to Xerxes for the first time, she was grateful.
I fashioned her fragrance from the most fragrant rose water. I added amber, for its arousing properties and some jasmine, for its intoxicating aroma. And I also included a special secret ingredient – one I’d been saving for many years – and it must have worked. From that first night forward, Esther was Xerxes’ favorite. I confess: she is my favorite, as well.
So, when I heard she is planning to go into his court uninvited; I was, understandably, upset.
Xerxes has rules for how he is to be approached. You must be invited into his presence. If anyone – even his ladies - dares approach him without an invitation, they risk certain death. If someone approaches and Xerxes does not extend his golden scepter – the symbol of his favor – that person is immediately put to death.
That is what Queen Esther is risking.
I pleaded with her. “My Queen, please listen. You know the King’s ways as well as anyone. Why are you risking your life? What can be so important?” I know I am but a servant, but I hoped my plea might convince her.
Esther smiled. “Faraz, thank you for your concern. But I must go. My Uncle Mordecai told me of Haman’s wicked plot to kill the Jews. I must speak up and prevent this wrong.”
I could not believe it. “My Queen, I beg you not to risk your life. Why should you care what happens to these people?”
She only smiled and shook her head. “My reasons are my own, Faraz.”
“If you must go, let me prepare another fragrance for you. It must be something so aromatically enticing it will peak his interest from across the court. It is your only hope.”
She smiled again. “Ah, Faraz. You think everything can be solved by the perfect fragrance. But, for this purpose, I must go to the King unadorned - with only the fragrance of faith to herald my entrance. It will be all I need.”
I feared my dear Queen was doomed.
I waited, cowering, at a safe distance and watched as she approached him. I could hardly bear to watch.
But, to my astonishment, the King extended his scepter. She was safe! Praise the gods!
As for me, I am determined to discover this faith; a faith whose fragrance charmed the king.
based on the Book of Esther, chapters 2-5
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