Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
- TITLE: An Unusual Event At The Palace
By Deborah Engle
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“I tell you, I am sure it is him. I was there.” Zohar tried to convince him, but Ketar could not believe that anyone would be so bold.
The person in question had caught his eye right away. That red hair was hard to miss, but it was more than that. There was a confidence about him, and yet, at the same time, he projected an air of discernment.
“That scene on the battlefield is something one would not soon forget, I will give you that, but why would he show up here, of all places…and without an escort?”
“I cannot answer that, but I can tell you that man is David, son of Jesse, the Israelite.”
“So you would have me believe that the scoundrel who killed Goliath now desires an audience with King Achish, Goliath’s commander?” Ketar could only shake his head at such an idea.
They had parted then, for there was still much to do. Ketar’s duties later took him past the outer courtyard, where a commotion drew his attention. The red-haired stranger was there, along with a small crowd of agitated citizens. From every corner, voices could be heard, speculating and tossing out accusations.
“Is not this David, the king of the land?”
“Why is he here, in Gath?”
“Did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath killed his thousands, but David his ten thousands?”
“Does he think we have forgotten?”
Whoever he was, the stranger was keeping to himself. From where he stood, Ketar had a clear view of the man, whose face was now covered with perspiration. He paced warily as he watched the crowd.
The murmuring continued to grow until the menacing crowd moved as one to surround the fellow. Before they could do him any harm, a loud voice called out, “ Move aside! The king will see this villain now! Let us through!”
Ketar watched Zohar force his way through the mob, accompanied by two palace guards. Together, they dragged him away to a small, inner courtyard.
Knowing of a balcony on the upper level, Ketar quickly made his way up the stone steps. Before he could get there, though, he became aware of a dramatic change. Even through the uproar, piercing howls assailed his ears.
His heart racing, Ketar stepped into the overhang. Reluctant, but at the same time compelled, he looked below. The man crawled and rolled along the ground, His beard now matted and soiled with dust and unconstrained slobber. Crazed eyes glowered from his face. Moaning and howling, his fit propelled him against the doors of the gate, bruising his flesh, until at last he collapsed on the ground, only to begin anew.
Horrified by the scene before him, Ketar was not aware of anyone’s presence until he felt hands pushing him aside.
“Make way for the King!” Zohar stood behind him, purposefully directing the king toward the scene below. Achish stepped forward onto the marble balcony, and watched the attack play itself out, while Zohar’s triumphant look soon became one of confusion at the dramatic change in the man.
Achish turned away after a short time. Meeting Zohar’s eyes, he spoke. “Lo, the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me?” The irascible nature of the king became evident, as his words became louder. “Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
Zohar responded in the only acceptable manner. “My utmost apologies, Your Majesty. I have foolishly wasted your time. I will see that this lunatic is removed immediately.”
The rest of the evening, two scenes repeated themselves in Ketar’s mind. The self-assured, intelligent visitor he had first observed, calmly awaiting his opportunity to approach the throne had raised no concerns. What a contrast to the fierce maniac in the courtyard. How could such divers spirits exist within the same body? His mind wrestled with the puzzle, until finally, Ketar could come to only one conclusion.
His fit of madness must have been an act. After all, David was known as a great strategist.
Inspired by I Samuel 21:10-15
Holy Bible, KJV
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