If you missed part four, here is the link: https://wordpress.com/post/pmgilmer.com/1517
From part 4: 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 day grows any later. We may have to wait a long time to see the king, so let us make haste.”
We made the men wait outside while we readied ourselves to leave. Jemima seemed inclined to argue some more, but I ignored her and so did the other women. The idea of two of their own going to see the king made the other women forget any qualms they may have over us leaving. Instead, they all became excited at the thought. Jemima had no choice but to agree though she refused to release my baby, saying she would bring him with her.
“The king will be able to tell he’s mine just by looking at him and by the way my baby is holding onto me.”
I snorted and wanted to grab my baby away from her but didn’t want to hurt him. I wrapped up the poor dead babe of Jemima’s and prepared a sling to carry him in. I could only hope and pray that the good King Solomon would rule with the wisdom people claimed he possessed.
Finally ready, we went outside to meet Muppim and Huppim who were waiting anxiously and seemed to have gathered a crowd, in spite of the early hour and the weather. The rainy season had begun and a slight drizzle was falling–not enough to deter me. The other women followed us, walking down our street and telling everyone they saw that we were going to see the king to ask him to settle an issue between us. I would rather not had such fanfare on our way to the palace. Everyone made it seem like a cause for a celebration, but my heart was heavy and full of fear.
Jemima seemed way too confident for a liar and a deceiver. And was she even grieving for her little one who was definitely dead? Had she truly rolled over on the poor babe in her sleep? Did she not feel guilt and sorrow for being the cause of his death? She only looked smug to me as she cuddled my babe and talked softly to him, every now and then glancing at me to make sure I saw her–as if I could see or hear anything else.
Once we reached the end of our street, the other women stopped and waved us on. “Good-bye! Farewell! May the good king grant you the truth and make a sound judgment!”
Jemima and I both waved back at them, and I tried to look certain in my belief the king would truly recognize the truth in me and the lie in Jemima. We walked in between Muppim and Huppim who escorted us proudly through the streets as if they escorted prostitutes to the king’s palace every day of their lives. People just beginning to stir from their homes and shops looked at us curiously, but without much interest. I’m sure they saw people going to and from the palace every day and did not deem it quite the significance we did.
Once we reached the palace, we all stopped and stared. None of us knew what to do next. Jemima and I looked to our escorts who looked as bewildered and at a loss as we did.
“Do we just go on in?” asked Huppim.
“I don’t know,” answered Muppim. “This was your idea, remember. Do you suppose they have a special entrance for those who are wanting judgment from the king?”
“There are some guards there,” I said a bit impatiently. “Why don’t you just ask them?”
Both men looked at me as if I had hurt their feelings. I refrained from rolling my eyes, but noticed Jemima didn’t try to hide her smirk.
I sighed. “I mean, kind sirs, perhaps you could go over there and ask one of the guards?”
They looked like that was the last thing they wanted to do, but finally, Muppim nodded, adjusted his belt and tunic, then strode over to one of the guards. The two guards who had looked bored before, now seemed amused as the broad-shouldered, but slightly overweight, Muppim approached them.
“Excuse me, my lords, but these ladies have a grievance to bring before the king. Could you point us in the right direction?”
“Ladies?” drawled one. “I don’t see any ladies, do you, Tobias?”
Tobias shook his head. “Unless you count this mountain standing before us? This your first time in the city, farm boy? I hate to tell you this, but . . .” He leaned over closer to Muppim and spoke in an overly loud whisper. “But those two women there aren’t ladies. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. Maybe you ought to take them back home and let them show you what they really are.”
The first guard snickered, then straightened both his posture and his face. Noticing this, Tobias looked over the first guard’s shoulder. Then, he, too, straightened up.
“Josiah, Tobias. Is there a problem here?” The man speaking was older and seemed to be a soldier of many years. Yet, his length of years did not make him seem weaker in any way, but rather much more formidable.
“No, Benaiah,” they both said. Benaiah looked at us, then back at his guards.
Josiah cleared his throat. “These, um, people have a complaint they wish to bring before the king.”
“And? Why are you keeping them standing here? Do they seem dangerous to you?”
“Oh, no, my lord,” Tobias said. “We just weren’t too sure of their, uh, credentials.”
Benaiah lifted an eyebrow and looked us over. Muppim was shifting about nervously, while Huppim beamed at the respected soldier in front of him. I’m sure he saw a war hero of some sort, and maybe that was the truth of it. Jemima and I both tried to look respectable, but the two guards had already made it plain that we only looked like what we were. Fortunately, my Seled was sleeping by now, making not a sound.
“Are you all Israelites?” Benaiah asked us.
We all nodded fervently. Oh, yes, we were Israelites.
“And you recognize King Solomon as your king? And what he says is what you obey?”
Again, we nodded mutely. Benaiah looked back at the guards. “I really see no problem here. Unless King Solomon has given you special instructions that I am unaware of?”
The two guards shook their heads; reluctantly, I felt. I’m sure they wished they had a reason to keep us out.
“Then let me lead you all to the king’s throne room,” Benaiah said, motioning for us to follow him. “And we will leave these fine guards to continue with their guarding. As they seem useless for much else.”
Both relieved and happy, we followed Benaiah as he led us up the steps into the palace. I was tempted to turn around and stick my tongue out at the guards, but I had never walked up such steps, so thought it better to pay attention. Huppim practically skipped up these stone steps while the rest of us carefully put one foot in front of the other. But, if we thought our troubles were over, we would soon be disappointed.
Part 6 coming Tuesday (11/21/17)