Here is part two of my continuing story. If you missed part one, please click on following link:
Now I come to the part of my story which is the most difficult for me to tell, but, unfortunately, it is the most important and explains how and why things changed so much between myself and my brothers.
I had spent the morning idling at my house, knowing I should make my way to the palace to see my mother. I was expected for dinner that evening, but I hadn’t spoken to her since we returned from battle several days ago now, and I knew my mother would be annoyed that I had made no effort to see her on my own. Before I could summon the energy to get ready to go, one of my servants entered my room, his eyes wide with fear.
“My lord! There is trouble outside! Your sister . . .”
When my servant first entered, I sighed, ready to rebuke him for troubling me about some minor disaster, but as soon as he uttered the words “your sister”–I sprang to my feet, pushed him out of the way, and ran out the door.
Just down the street from my house, I could see a small crowd gathered and could hear the wailing of a young woman–a young woman whose voice I recognized very well.
Not bothering to put on sandals or even an outer garment, I dashed down the street, kicking up dust, and upon reaching the crowd, pushed the first man out of my way. I gasped as I saw my sister standing in the middle of the street, wearing the new, colorful robe our father had recently given her. But, the robe was torn and ashes covered her beautiful hair. Her maidservant cowered next to her, tears streaming down her face as well.
I cannot express the horror I felt upon seeing my sister in such a state. For a moment, I could not move. Then I looked up and over the crowd and realized where we were standing–right outside my brother, Amnon’s house. In front of his door, two servants stood guard, their eyes wide with consternation and dismay, but also a fierce determination. I turned back to Tamar and grabbed her by the arm.
“Tamar! Be quiet! You’re making a spectacle of yourself! What is wrong? Has that Amnon been with you?”
She would not stop weeping, so I gave her a little shake. “Tamar! Be quiet! Amnon is your brother, so don’t take this to heart. I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt you–but no matter what has happened–we need to keep this in our family.”
I began to pull her by the arm to bring her home with me and when she resisted, I looked into her eyes. The reproachful look she gave me pierced my very soul, but I still needed to get her out of the street. The crowd around us remained silent, not daring to speak or call out while I was there, but I knew as soon as I left, the talk would spread far and wide about the trouble between the children of the king.
Once we reached my house, I turned her over to one of my women servants who, along with Tamar’s own handmaid (who had followed us silently through the street) took off Tamar’s torn robe and led her off to bathe and comfort her.
While the women took care of Tamar, I paced through my house wanting to go and confront Amnon, but I knew the crowd would still be there, waiting to see what I would do. Though my first thought after realizing what must have happened between Amnon and Tamar had been to force Amnon to marry my sister, my thoughts now grew darker, and I knew I only wanted to kill him. I tried to calm myself, knowing I should go and speak with my father first, but I was in no mood to see him. I did not know what my father would do, but I knew he would not countenance any type of severe punishment. Certainly not the death I now envisioned in my mind.
In the end, I did nothing. Well, not right then anyway. I ordered a servant to bring me a skin of wine, and I took it and a cup up to my roof to drink. The sun was sinking into the horizon, and though the air quickly cooled, it did nothing to chill my blood.
I had drunk about half the skin when Tamar came up silently behind me and sat down on a bench next to me. We said nothing for several moments, just stared out at the darkening sky. Then, taking a deep breath, Tamar said in a shaky and low voice, “He said he would never marry me, and,” she stopped, trying to stifle a sob. “And he said he hated me.”
The rage I had been trying to tamp down flared up, and I hurled my cup out into the night. “He said that? He actually said that?”
Tamar nodded, her face down, sobs hiccupping out of her. “I tried to tell him to wait and ask Father to let us marry, but he wouldn’t listen. He just . . . just forced himself on me, then told me to get out. Said he hated even the sight of me and told his servant to throw me out and lock the door.”
Before I could respond, one of my servants came up to us, bowed to me, and said, “Sorry to interrupt, my lord, but your mother has sent a messenger wanting to know why you didn’t appear for dinner. I believe she is still waiting for you.”
I groaned but knew I should go. Obviously, I needed to talk to her anyway, but it would not be at a pleasant family meal. I stood up, then turned back to Tamar. “I need to go. She must not have heard about this yet, but she will soon enough. I will leave guards at the door, so you will be safe here. You will be fine?” I didn’t think she would actually be “fine”, but I had no choice but to leave. I needed to speak to both our mother and father, then decide how to take care of Amnon.
Tamar reached up and took my hand. “There is one more thing you should know,” she said, her voice so hoarse from her earlier screaming and crying I needed to strain to hear her. “Jonadab was there as well.”
My eyebrows raised and my gut clenched. “Jonadab? You mean?”
She shook her head. “No, not that he touched me, but he was there with us. He opened the door for me and brought me into Amnon. He . . .” Her voice broke again, and new suspicions crept into my mind.
“I don’t understand. Why were you there anyway?”
“Father sent me,” she said, her voice even lower.
I was so stunned, I sat back down. “Father sent you? What do you mean?”
“Father called me this morning. He had been to see Amnon because he was sick, and Amnon told Father he wanted me to come to him with food. So, I made some bread and brought it to him. When I got there, Jonadab was waiting for me. Like I said, he brought me into Amnon’s room and as soon as I went in, Amnon grabbed me. I tried to stop him . . .”
I pulled my sister to myself, hugging her tightly as she sobbed. “It’s not your fault,” I said fiercely. “Do not think that for a minute. And you do not have to marry that fool, Amnon, either. You can stay here with me. I will take care of everything. Do you understand?”
She nodded, her head against my chest, and I wished I did not have to leave. But, my mother was not a patient woman. Besides, I now had another reason to go: I needed to confront my father.