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Monday, July 11, 2005

Abigail, Part II

The servants of Nabal looked at each other in dread. This was not good. Not good at all. Offending the future king, someone with a few hundred men at his side - bored men, spoiling for action after laying low for months - exceedingly smart move, that. But trying to talk sense into Nabal was as much an exercise in futility as trying to teach a camel how to dance. Actually, one might have more luck with the camel.

Abigail had retreated to her tent - the middle of the day was hot, and it was her custom to rest for an hour or two. Today, she had needed it more than most days - the morning had been busy with preparations, organizing for the feast. Keeping that many people plied with food and drink was not something that just took care of itself. By the time Nabal had rolled out of bed, she had been up for hours.

She closed her eyes. For just a short while, no one would want her. Nabal would be stuffed to the gills after the noon meal and would spend the rest of the afternoon and evening slowly drinking himself into a stupor.

Her thoughts drifted to topics more pleasant - the fleeces had been of excellent quality this year. Just a couple more days, and the shearing would be over. Things would return to normal, she could break camp and go home, and then... She was slowly drifting off to sleep when she became aware of the voice at the door of the tent.

"Mistress..." A strident whisper.
Annoyed, Abigail raised herself up on one elbow. "What is it now?"
"The master - it's an emergency..."
With a sigh, Abigail sat up. A cursory check to see if her tunic and hair were in order. They were. "Oh, come in then, already," she called out in irritation. It seemed as if it was always something.
The servant entered and prostrated himself on the floor.
"Ari - so what is so important that it cannot wait for an hour? Don't just lie there, get up and speak."
The servant raised himself to his knees. The words spilled out in a torrent, disconnected, panicky.

Abigail listened with growing concern. "He sent them off with nothing? Does he have any idea who this David is, or what he is capable of? Even if he didn't, common decency would demand... but when has that ever been a concern?" Her voice was bitter. "But slighting David Ben-Jesse like that? Of all the ridiculous, fool-hardy things to do..."
She jumped up. "Quick."

Within minutes, she had the servants running off in different directions. She sent Ari off to arrange for a train of pack donkeys behind the shearing arena, well out of view, ready to load. There was plenty of bread baked - that would need to go. Wine was harder to come by - most of it was stored too close to where Nabal was sitting in drunken revelry. And it just wouldn't do if he found out. If he did, he would stop her - his pride would never let him admit he had made a mistake. Which meant David would receive nothing. And she didn't feel like dying at the hands of a ticked-off warrior just yet.

She finally found two full wineskins, and had the servants load them in the packs. Luckily, the staples where stored close by - raisins, figs, grain. Soon the donkeys were loaded to capacity. A final coup - some sheep, already dressed and drawn, ready to be put on spits for the evening meal. Softly, Abigail gave instructions to one of the shepherds to kill others for replacement. Nabal must not know.
Finally she looked over the assembled train. It wasn't as much as she had hoped, but it would have to do. Taking Ari aside, she whispered, "You and the others go on ahead; I'll catch up with you later. There is one more thing I must do."

As Ari led the team off into the hills, Abigail returned to her tent.

Quickly, she laid out her best clothes. A robe, dyed in rich shades of blue. An embroidered scarf, given as a present for her wedding. There wasn't time for a bath, but she quickly washed her hands and her face and did her hair. As she attached her earrings and slid the bracelets on her arms, she closed her eyes and sent up a quick prayer. "Lord, let me find favor... Give me wisdom..."

What more could she do? She looked her best. She had done all she could. The rest would be up to David and the mercy of God.

Squaring her shoulders, Abigail mounted her donkey and went to catch up with the rest of her group.

posted by Birgit
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