Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Banquet - deadline 8-16-12 10 am NY time (08/09/12)
TITLE: My Request
By Ruth Neilson
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But now that the banquet had started and everything was perfect, not a sign of her nerves were apparent.
The queen's banquet for the king and his advisor seemed to be going well. The cooks made sure every item of the menu was cooked to perfection and it smelled delicious. But she wasn't invited to the banquet. The slave girl would be lucky to enjoy a taste of it later during the clean up.
Her mistress had been tense for several days leading up to this banquet. Gossip said that the mistress had sent a letter to her family asking them to fast and pray for three days. No one was sure why. The only thing that the slave girl knew was the mistress had commanded everyone who served her would fast as well.
She could hear her master and mistress talking, laughing at shared jokes as the banquet continued. Their guest joined in the gaiety of the evening. The musical tingle of the dishes that filled the air was punctuated with loud bursts of laughter.
The wine was flowing freely now and the slave girl heard her master speak, "Queen Esther, whatever you ask will be given to you. Whatever you want, even to half the kingdom, will be done."
There was a pause and the slave girl held her breath, not wanting to miss a single word of her mistress' response.
"This is my petition and my request." Her mistress' voice was determined but was filled with the proper amount of respect. "If I have obtained your approval, my king, and if the king is pleased, spare my life--this is my request; and spare my people--this is my desire. For my people and I have been sold out to destruction, death, and extermination. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept silent. Indeed, the trouble wouldn't be worth burdening the king."
The slave girl's eyes went wide and she rocked back onto her heels, feeling her blood start to drain from her face as the king loudly demanded to know who would do such a thing.
Her mistress' voice stayed strong, despite Haman's protests. "The adversary and enemy is this evil Haman."
The master stormed off as the sounds of Haman falling onto his knees before her mistress, pleading for his life. Her mistress cried out and the slave girl slipped in to make sure everything was fine. Haman had lost his balance and fell upon the mistress' couch. The slave girl moved to aid her mistress before the master returned, but she was too late.
The master returned; his face turned red at the sight before him. "Would he actually violate the queen while I am in the palace?"
Haman stammered some sort of explanation as the king's dark skinned manservant spoke up. "There is a gallows 75 feet tall at Haman's house that he made for Mordecai, who gave the report that saved the king."
The king spun around, his fine robes whipping around violently. He gestured violently, stabbing the air in towards Haman. "Hang him on it!"
Haman wailed for mercy as the guards lifted and took him away. The slave girl looked towards her mistress, waiting for the command to come to her aid. It never came. Instead, the king opened his arms to his wife in a quiet invitation. The slave girl watched as her mistress moved away from the banquet table and into his arms. He pulled her close, holding her and the slave girl could only guess that he was reassuring her.
She glanced towards her male counterpart with a questioning gaze. He nodded and gestured that they both were dismissed. This was now time for their master and mistress to be alone and in peace.
Story based from Esther 7 (HCSB)
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