Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Snap (09/04/08)
TITLE: In a Persian Market
By Helen Murray
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The beloved elder cousin, Mordecai, took over the care of the little girl who had drawn him so close from the day of her birth. Childless himself, he watched over his new charge assiduously, holding her when she cried, tenderly encouraging her to take a little food, rocking and singing her to sleep in big, comfortable arms each night until she arrived again at a point of trust. Until she ceased her nightly crying and began to look to his loving attentions to meet her needs, Until, once more, she began to hop and skip in the gardens of Shusan, and dance to the exquisite music of the Jewish harps. Until joy again became her signature.
What a wonderful job Mordecai had done with her, was the constant refrain of those who knew her circumstance, and observed the lightness of her step, the deep wells of trust in the big brown eyes as she skipped by his side on the Sabbath day of rest. The two years it had taken to achieve this had also seen the change of name from Haddessa (of Israel) to Esther (of Persia). This had been part of a game Mordecai had encouraged in order to redraft her life and help her attach herself to him in a brand new fashion. It had begun as a game of Persian ladies in the market place, with the little Hadessa imitating a slave-carriage born, and thoroughly be-jewelled Persian princess. Delighted at last to see her laughing, Mordecai had offered the Persian name to befit the occasion, and the little Hadessa had just as laughingly embraced the name, insisting upon its use as she daily pranced about his homely quarters announcing that she was the princess of Persia..
Following this incident, as if she had just begun again, she started, once more, to take a lively interest in her surroundings, asking many questions and absorbing new information like a dried up sponge soaks up water.
Thereafter Mordecai began to teach the young child diligently, as most men taught their sons, and had no less joy than they in the process. There seemed no skill she could not acquire, no perception she could not embrace. And always, uncle Mordecai was her first source of understanding and wisdom. “How shall I find the right husband for this one?” became his constant query as she grew to startling beauty and comeliness, and indeed that query became a constant topic of the prayers he addressed to his adored Jehovah each day. “For such a princess you will need to find a great king!” He chuckled one morning in those daily discussions.
Then it happened! The news broke in the market place that soldiers were seeking beautiful young women to present to the King – something about a deposed queen who had disobeyed the Majesty. Why had he warned her not to mention her Jewish nationality? It happened so suddenly, and then she was whisked away! It was Mordecai’s turn to tear his robes over his loss – the daughter he’d so treasured gone missing!
Suddenly, ceasing from his tears, he drew himself to his tallest. Praying, he raised hands in confidence towards the Most High God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, certain that Yahweh, who had made a joke of the Red Sea, Jericho, Goliath and other sagas, would meet this situation. Why, maybe his delight was to be a princess after all, trained as she was to search out wisdom as the old Jewish books described the duty of kings. Daily he positioned himself, listening, at the palace gate.
When news broke that the young virgins were now beginning to visit His Royal Majesty he felt an unusual peace in place of anticipated agitation. His beloved protégé already held the highest position among the women, the best of palatial accommodation and her own servants. In his eyes she had always been the royal princess of dreams. Could she really become that magnificent figure of her own childish imagination? Or had she been prophesying what was to come even as she spoke the words? Well, time would certainly reveal the truth!
Esther, Queen of Persia, saved Jewry from an ancient holocaust.
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