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Friday, April 27, 2012

Fiction Friday - ONE MORE TIME, Chapter 45A

CHAPTER 45 - AUGUST, 30 CE - A CHANGED MAN

Sarah, who had been searching through the dugout for a particular piece of bass she wanted to prepare for the evening meal, walked back into the cooking area and noticed some of the bread and cheese missing. That’s odd. I know I left some bread and cheese here. Ah, well, no matter—maybe someone got hungry and wanted a snack. There is more cheese in the dugout, and the bread will stretch through the evening meal, I think.

Paul walked through the courtyard to her side. “Hello, beautiful woman,” he said, pulling her to him and nibbling on her ear.

“Paul, the other servants! Whatever will they think.” She giggled and glanced around. No others within sight.

“They will think I have the most attractive wife in the world and that I’m the luckiest man ever,” he said. “By the by, my dear, Hamath has returned.”

“Oh—well, Dorcas at least will be happy.” Sarah wrinkled her nose.

“The children appeared happy about it, too.” Paul frowned in thought. “You know, I could be wrong, but I think there might be a change in Hamath. I mean, other than the fact that he is in pretty sorry shape—one arm is hurt, he has a bruise on his face, he’s thin, and his clothes are filthy, smelly rags. It seemed to me he was behaving differently. Taking into consideration, of course, that my “recollections” of him are not all that clear. Kinda like remembering a dream. Not that he is much of a dreamboat in my book. Unlike the dreamboat standing here next to me.”

“That would be a nice change—in Hamath, I mean.” Sarah wasn’t convinced. “I hope you’re right.”

The evening meal went well—Hamath wasn’t there.

“My husband is in our bed chamber. I’ll carry a platter to him when we’re finished eating here,” Dorcas said. “His arm was dislocated, and by the time Nicolas was able to put it back in place Hamath was nauseated and exhausted. He didn’t feel like eating.”

“I’m happy for you, Dorcas, that he’s back.” Sarah didn’t miss seeing Hamath. Tomorrow will be plenty soon enough.

That night, Tamara was fevered and convulsing again. The convulsions went on for a longer time and occurred on and off throughout the night. Paul and Sarah took turns keeping cool wet cloths on her head and stomach. She was convulsing too often to let her chew the bark, but Sarah boiled some tea for her. By morning, Paul and Sarah were both exhausted, but Tamara was at last sleeping a natural sleep.

“You stay here with Tammy, okay, Honey?” Sarah whispered. “Catch a few more winks, and I’ll go prepare breakfast. I’ll bring a tray back here, but I won’t wake you. I’ll take the children for a hike in the hills. It won’t hurt them to miss a lesson.”

Paul nodded. “That sounds like heaven for me, but when will you rest?”

“I’ll lie down for awhile after lunch. It will be your turn with the kids then. I just felt her head, and she feels cooler this morning. But I’m thinking we should keep her here today. What do you think?”

“Let’s wait and see,” he said, rising up on his elbow. “A lot of the time, she’s been feeling better within a couple of hours during the day. We should be able to tell by lunchtime.”

“True. I’ll bring some lunch over later, and we’ll see how she feels then.” She bent over and kissed him. “Sleep tight, my love.”

She walked into the cooking area at the same time that Hamath came out of the house. Here we go again. She turned and braced herself.

He bowed his head. “I have an apology to make to you, Sarah,” he said, almost sounding humble.

Her face must have echoed her astonishment. Hamath smiled, but it was a very small and inoffensive smile. “I should not have treated you as I did. I’m sorry, and it won’t happen again. It was my fault Paulos disappeared, and I’m sorry for that, too. I’m happy he’s back and is well.”

Sarah’s mouth dropped even further, and she closed it with a snap. She couldn’t speak for a moments. She cleared her throat. “I forgive you, Hamath. Dorcas appears happy you have returned, sir.”

Hamath nodded. “Yes, she does. And I’m happy to have returned, as well. For a time, I didn’t think I’d ever see home again. And I’m happy Paul’s alive despite my terrible actions. I had a lot of time to think over the past months. Obviously, I didn’t do much of that before. I thought about what a wonderful, loyal wife I have and what beautiful children. I wasn’t as good to them as I should have been. I want to change that.”

Sarah couldn’t believe what she heard. Was this the same man who left here?

“Dorcas told me how helpful you and Paulos have been to her and the children. You even started a search for me. I feel humbled and grateful, even though the search was unsuccessful. None of my former business contacts would have recognized me after I was released by Bildad, so the lack of success was certainly not because you and they weren’t trying” Hamath turned to leave.

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