Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
- TITLE: Deceived
By Shirley McClay
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Sarai combed through her damp hair and let it tumble in a straight, heavy curtain down her back. Her bath had been interrupted by the increasing demands of the ruler to his many servants. His illness was no longer being concealed.
Curiosity compelled Sarai to gather her skirts and hurry toward the royal chambers. The flurry was greater here, and she dodged men and women carrying heated water, chilled water, herb teas, poultices, and a variety of healing tools. Their voices were hushed while Pharaoh’s moans and bellows echoed eerily.
Hagar tucked her lithe, youthful arm in Sarai’s and whisked her behind a curtain near the bed. She held her fingers to her lips to stop Sarai’s questions. “It’s about to get even better… just watch!”
Sarai studied Hagar, bemused. Her quirkiness both irritated and drew her to the young beauty. As one of Pharaoh’s daughters, Hagar was able to roam freely and had taken a fancy to Sarai when she was escorted into the palace a week earlier.
They peeked at the scene together.
Pharaoh writhed in his bed groaning and thrashing as his wives and concubines fluttered around him.
A servant hesitantly approached the prostrate Pharaoh. “Your princes, Your Highness… they have the same... problem as you.” A roar shook the room, and people scattered and ducked as Pharaoh vented his rage by throwing whatever he could reach at the messenger.
“Seven days of this plague and no one can give me answers!” He ranted on, but Sarai didn’t hear any more. Her heart froze at his pronouncement... seven days. It had begun when she entered the palace.
“No!” Hagar’s hissed warning went unheeded. Sarai strode out from behind the curtain and approached the chaos. The room stilled as she neared the Pharaoh.
“Your Highness.” She stood tall and proud, using her beauty and her innate regal bearing to conceal the trembling that shook her.
“I believe I have the answer. My God is the God of protection. He is with his people always and guards them with ferocity. His love is beyond understanding… even when we sin through deception as I have.”
Pharaoh eased himself up until he perched on the edge of his bed. His hair was plastered to his head with sweat, and he shivered with the pain of the sores in his groin. He indicated for her to continue.
“Abram is my husband.”
Not a sound broke the stillness yet Sarai could hear the accusations directed her way in the stares and glares. “Abram expected you to desire me for your wife and he thought this would protect me.”
“Did he not then expect me to take you to my palace and bed you?” Pharaoh’s words held no malice, yet. Sarai knew he still was trying to absorb the truth.
Sarai stumbled over her thoughts and chose at last to be honest. “I am not sure what he was thinking. I only know that I am required to submit and obey and allow God to be my protection.” She looked into Pharaoh’s red-rimmed, bloodshot eyes and mentally begged God for His mercies. Her life hung on the next few moments.
The Pharaoh stared at her… seeming to read her very thoughts and heart. He gingerly sat up and again gave her a nod. “You are indeed a woman of beauty. But your inner beauty astounds me even more than what I see with my eyes. And your God has indeed protected you most … convincingly.” His wry grin made her heart leap with hope.
Provisions were made, a wealth of gifts bestowed upon Abram, and they were quickly sent on their way. Several nights later, Sarai lay beside Abram and struggled with churning thoughts. Abram had deceived and willingly put her in danger and yet… had come away with great blessings. She had obeyed and God had protected... but still… it hurt deeply.
She rolled over and looked at him as he slept. “At least I don’t have to worry about him trying such a ridiculous and horrible charade again. I’m sure he learned his lesson.” She pulled the colorful, woven blanket up around her neck. “Besides… I did receive a gift. Hagar will make a fine handmaiden. I benefitted from the deception after all.” Sarai silently laughed.
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