If you missed part 3, here’s the link: https://pmgilmer.com/2017/11/14/my-name-is-hadesh-part-3-by-p-m-gilmer/
From part 3: The other women stood watching us closely, but made no comments. Unusual for these women not to have any opinions. I looked to them for help. “Look at this baby. Can’t you see he is Jemima’s and not mine? Would I not recognize my own child?”
“She has lost her mind,” Jemima interjected before anyone else could speak. “Did she not just wake up with that baby in her bed, and I wake up with this one? Did they get up in the middle of the night and switch places? Or perhaps a demon came in and switched them?”
The women gasped at this possibility, and I noticed a couple of them make a sign as if to ward off evil. If this hadn’t been such a serious affair, I would have rolled my eyes at Jemima’s absurd conjectures. I knew she was only trying to shift the attention from herself and her baby-switching ways. Then the truth of what must have happened occurred to me, and I involuntarily gasped.
“You! You rolled over on your baby and smothered him. Then you switched him with my own who was sleeping in his basket. I remember now I put him in his basket before midnight. You took my baby, then put your own dead babe in my arms.”
The women began to twitter at these allegations, and Jemima’s face became scarlet. I thought she might have an apoplexy right then. I could only wish she would. Instead she said, “You are mad, and making wild accusations will not bring your poor dead child back to life. You need to wrap your baby properly, and let us go and make arrangements for him.”
My Seled began to cry just then or I might have hurled myself at Jemima’s throat. Before I could decide how to respond or what to do to prove I was right, two men entered our house.
“What is going on in here?” the first one asked. “You women are making a lot of racket for so early in the morning. Didn’t know you started your day so early. If you don’t keep it down, someone is going to be calling for the guards. Has someone hurt you? Or left without paying?”
The man questioning us, Muppim, was well known to us all as was his twin brother, Huppim. The two frequented our establishment on an irregular basis. They came into Jerusalem to sell their produce–everything from grapes to honey–and often brought us what they didn’t sell. Considering how many people treated us like dirt or acted like they didn’t even know us (when they knew us quite well), the brothers were kind, if a bit odd.
I pointed my finger at Jemima. “She killed her baby, then stole mine.”
Jemima shrieked. “She’s crazy! You should call the guards and have her taken away. She is trying to take my baby by saying he is hers when her poor babe is lying there dead.” She pointed to where her baby still lay on my bed.
The men looked at Jemima’s baby, then at me, then at everyone else. “Zebidah?” Muppim asked. “What do you know of this?”
Zebidah looked at me, then Jemima, then shrugged. “They both had a baby boy just a few days apart. This morning one of those poor babies is dead. These two,” she jerked her head towards myself and Jemima, “are both hysterical and one of them is lying. Which one? How should I know? Am I as wise as our good King Solomon?”
A bit of nervous laughter came from all the women except Jemima and myself. Then Huppim said, “That’s a good idea.”
Everyone looked at him and waited for him to explain, but he only grinned, looking quite pleased with himself.
“What’s a good idea, Huppim?” Muppim finally asked.
“Asking good King Solomon. That’s what people do when they can’t decide on something, isn’t it? Go and ask the king to judge who is telling the truth.” He beamed as if he had come up with the most original and amazing plan.
I frowned, wondering if the king would see women such as us. Would we even be allowed anywhere near the palace?
“That’s a foolish idea,” Jemima said. “The king wouldn’t have time for the likes of us.”
And even though (or perhaps because) she had just voiced my own thoughts, I disagreed. “He’s the king of all of us, isn’t he? God granted him the wisdom to rule over each and every Israelite, so why wouldn’t he hear us?”
The other women began to murmur, but whether in agreement or disagreement, I wasn’t sure. Huppim continued to look proud of himself, and Muppim scratched his balding head.
“Well,” said Muppim, “if you think that’s the only way to solve this, we would be glad to escort you two ladies.”
Huppim nodded eagerly. “Certainly! We wouldn’t want you ladies wandering through the streets of Jerusalem alone. And, I’ve never been inside the palace! Do you think they would let us in, too?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “But we need to go now before the grows any later. We may have to wait a long time to see the king, so let us make haste.”
Part 5 coming Saturday