Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
TITLE: Conviction Leads to Truth
By Marlene Austin
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It was the Throne Room and the Great Hall in which everything was held in place with golden threads. Rims of tables, edges of lighting fixtures, and solid backs of reclining chairs were graced with pure 24k gold. Glimpses of glimmering gold were spied from every visage. Here the scent of roses was so heavy it was tasted with every word.
During a morning report, one governor pleaded the misery of the people to Pharaoh. “Sire, the pestilence of insects which has cursed our lands for the past moon’s cycle has not only made our people ill, but is, also, beginning to hinder the welfare of the livestock.”
“Thank you, Pane`ath. I have asked the Physicians to make this matter their chief concern. I desire some degree of relief from this curse within the moon’s first quarter. I expect an effective solution from you, Men of Science, by the moon’s phase. Now, I have more immediate claims on my attention. Leave me and complete my bidding.”
As Pharaoh was dressed by his servants in preparation for the evening events in which he would entertain a multitude of guests, his thoughts turned to one special guest. “Has the Lady Sarai everything she needs for sitting at my left hand at the feast table this evening?”
“Yes, sire. I believe it is your third wife, Queen Astira, who has taken her under wing. This lady is very beautiful, sire.”
“Yes, she is of the most delicate beauty I have seen – skin so fair, it is the drinking of milk with the eyes. The red of her lips is the shame of rubies, and her eyes – ah, the golden flakes of sunset can be caught in the brilliance of those eyes.”
“You are quite taken with her, my lord.”
“Taken with her? She will be my wife after two more weeks of this purification interim.”
Discussions were mostly private at the feasting table since distance put a limit to the space a respectful voice could reach. Pharaoh and Sarai exchanged pleasantries among adoring glances as he made sure her every need was being met.
Before long, however, many seemed to be discussing the afflictions attacking the land. “My lord, this affliction of your people is something I would like to make comment with you.”
“No, no, my love. Do not be distressed by these murmurings broached by the unlearned. My greatest Physicians are coming up with a solution to this problem at this very moment. I would not see your glorious face distressed with woes of this kind.” He stroked her silken hair.
“My lord, I cannot bear to hear of the difficulties others are facing all because of my presence with you.”
Pharaoh straightened, “What light can you shed on this ailment?”
“Surely you have noticed that the arrival of these afflictions began shortly after you brought me to your palace. I have appreciated your kindness and generosity to my… to Abram, and I, my lord, have been shown much tenderness by all your house. Additionally, in the weeks in which I have come to know your personage, you have gained my affection, but I will never be able to marry you, sire. It is because of my affection for you that I cannot continue the deception to which you have fallen prey. Your people will suffer until you know the truth – that my brother, in truth, my half-brother, is also my husband. It is against the laws of our One Sovereign God for me to marry another.”
Quietly, Pharaoh rose. Leaning to her ear, he whispered, “Thank you. You have my admiration, Lady.”
Pharaoh immediately had the courtiers bring his officers and Abram to the Throne Room.
“You are no longer welcomed in my land.”
“But, my lord, wha…”
“Silence! Do not speak in my presence or your tongue will be removed!” Two officers were immediately around Abram, hands on weapons.
“I have learned all I need about your people. It is obvious that your god has granted all courage and conviction only to your women. It is only because of the affection I have for your wife that you are being spared. Depart quickly. Never return.”
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