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Friday, December 2, 2011

Fiction Friday: One More Time, Chapter 27A, A Plot Begins

After the meal and cleanup, Paul and Sarah swung Tamara between them as they walked to the marketplace. They found Jonas at his shop negotiating the cost of cloth for curtains with an argumentative matron. Dathan was there again, and his eyes narrowed on Paul.

“Hello, Dathan,” Sarah said. “This is my husband, Paulos.”

“Shalom, Sarah and Paulos. Yes, I know Paulos.” Dathan turned to Paul. “Your leg—does it not pain you any more?”

“No, it feels much better now,” Paul said. To change Dathan’s focus, he added, “You must have grown a foot—I mean, half a cubit, since I last saw you.”

Dathan’s cheeks turned red and he grinned. “Perhaps a little.”

Jonas joined them. “Ah, my friends Sarah and Tamara, it’s good to have your husband and Papa back, is it not?”

“Yes—and that may be the understatement of the year, Jonas. We came to tell you thank you for your efforts to find Paulos, and for the lessons in Greek you prepared for me, and to seek your help one more time. Not with the Greek lessons—Paul is very good at Greek, so your help there is no longer needed. But now we need help finding Dorcas’ husband Hamath. Also, we should probably send word to Paulos’ kin that he is here and safe.”

Tamara held her hands up to Paul, and he lifted her and hugged her close.

“My kin?” Paul repeated. “Oh—my brothers and sister. You sent word to them of my, uh, absence?”

“Yes. We didn’t hear from your brother on Cyprus, but we did hear from your brother and sister in Berytus and Ptolemais. I’ll have to get some parchment at the house, and you can write to tell them all you’re back and your leg has healed up.”

Jonas spoke up. “I’m happy to see your leg has improved so. You seemed to be in such agony the last time I saw you. Did you find a physician wherever it was you were?”

Paul nodded. “It was very painful for a time, but it feels like new, now.”

Jonas’ eyebrows lifted and he gave a barely perceptible shrug. “And now you wish to find Hamath. I would think it might be well for that one to remain lost,” he said.

Sarah laughed. “Well, if it were up to me, yes, but Dorcas is fond of him and wants him to come home.”

“Very well,” Jonas nodded. “When caravans are about to leave the gate, we will send word with them that Hamath’s presence is urgently requested at the house of Dorcas. That should get his attention if the word gets to him. Do you know where he was going?”

“He might have been headed for Jerusalem. That’s where the slave owner apparently lives, according to Dorcas. Do you know anything different, Paul?” she asked.

Paul searched through his memory again. Tamara provided a little time for his reflection as she wanted down again, and then hopped around her Papa. Paul spoke after a short pause. “I was out of my mind with fever and pain. I’m unsure of the direction they took other than when we first left. I think we traveled south."

Paul grimaced. "When they grabbed me, my leg broke again, or at least it felt like it did. They weren’t gentle, and the old wound where the bone broke through the skin reopened. The merchant gave me to a slave master called Bildad, and I think Bildad left me for dead somewhere a couple of days later. An old woman called Mehida found me.”

Paul’s memory kicked in with more. “She tried to drag me to her hut, but I was too heavy, and I was so weak and feverish I kept passing out. I couldn’t get up and walk. Some travelers came along, one of whom was a physician. I guess they carried me into her house and reset my leg. That’s all I remember for some time. I passed out and stayed out when the pain of the setting occurred. I think it was a few days before I woke up and a few weeks before I felt human.”

“It must have been a terrible experience.” Jonas eyes were full of sympathy.

“Jonas’s wife Mariah was abducted by a bunch of thieves who sold her to a slave master, or maybe the slave master was the thief,” said Sarah. “Jonas has never given up hope that she might be found, even though it’s been ten years since she disappeared.”

“What did your wife look like, Jonas?” Paul asked. “I didn’t hear their names, but there were a few women with the slave caravan.”

“She was a very small woman, about to my shoulder, and her eyes were blue. She had brown hair a little darker than Sarah’s. Oh, and she had a red birthmark on her left temple shaped a little like a flying bird. Sometimes I called her my little sparrow.”

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