Chapter 14: The Slow Day
All Israel knows that your father is a mighty man,
and those who are with him are valiant men.
2 SAMUEL 17:10 NKJV
Kester’s hiccups eventually lapsed, which gave him a measure of peace; however, a different set of symptoms soon took their place.
“My dear apprentice!” Asaph looked up from the record he was carefully transcribing. “Who taught you to fidget?”
Caught mid-wriggle, Kester ducked his head. “Sorry.”
“Nonsense.” His mentor propped his chin on his fist and smiled. “It’s exactly the sort of thing an ordinary boy in your position would do.”
Kester perked up. “It is?”
“The confines of a cluttered room on a day with fine weather. Piles of tedious work awaiting your full attention.” Asaph’s eyes took on a teasing shine. “The promise of a far more enjoyable pastime, if only the sun would hurry along.”
But I am not trying to emulate a human boy. The fidgeting had stolen over him as effortlessly as the hiccups had earlier. Kester asked, “Am I being ungrateful?”
“In what sense?”
“To be Sent into Time is a rare privilege. I was told to consider every moment a precious gift from God Most High.” Kester rubbed his fingertips together, searching for words to describe his yearning. “But it is as you say. The passage of time has slowed. It is as if the sun has forgotten its way to the sea.”
Asaph said, “This is what it’s like to wait. Time is constant, but the heart is contrary. Some hours must be endured, for they hobble along. Others end long before we are ready to move on.”
“Yes. I want to play for the king. And sing with him.”
“Anticipation.” Asaph smiled. “It’s nice to have something to look forward to. Enjoy this kind of waiting.”
“I will try.”
His mentor inclined his head and returned to his ink and scrolls.
And Kester determined that trying and succeeding weren’t the same. As minutes crept past, he longed for distraction. When it came, the boy gasped in delight. Shooting to his feet, he exclaimed, “I am Sent!”
“Chasing down a melody?”
“Yes!” Kester shot out the door, bare feet skipping across smooth wood, then cool stone. Because he was Sent, the way was plain before him. He could run with confidence, even though he wasn’t sure where he would end up. At a stall in the market. At the stairs leading onto the walls. At a garden wall in a crowded neighborhood. But always, he would find someone singing.
At times like this, Kester often met someone who had known the former king. Old-timers would find themselves with a half-forgotten melody on their lips. Kester usually came upon them while they were singing, and it was simplicity itself to ask them to teach him the song. Each time, he’d learned the lyrics and returned home with a new treasure to add to Asaph’s collection.
For once, he wasn’t Sent out of the palace. Kester jogged along a winding passage that looked increasingly familiar. A narrow path. A thicket of palms. And two voices.
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the LORD.*
The men sang quietly, as if sharing a secret. Their harmony was flawless, a blending of baritones. One lighter, the other shaped by an interesting accent. As the final note left a lull, a familiar voice called, “Did you need something, newbie?”
Kester shuffled into the open. Both the captain and the foreign guardsman lounged in the small pocket of privacy surrounding the hidden entrance to the throne room.
“You certainly get around.” Benaiah smirked. “Slacking off?”
The second man’s expression betrayed nothing, but he beckoned him forward. “What is your question?”
“Was that one of David’s songs?”
“Yeah, it’s his,” replied the captain. “I learned it from him.”
Kester eased closer. “Will you sing it again from the beginning?”
The men exchanged a glance, and Benaiah said, “It’s a long one.”
“I do not mind. Teach me?”
The captain offered a careless shrug. “We could teach you both the song and the story behind it. If …!”
A condition? Kester cautiously echoed, “If …?”
“This guy wants to be on friendlier terms.” He cuffed his companion’s shoulder and said, “Call him Ichi. Like I do. It’s sort of a nickname.”
“May I?” Kester asked, searching the man’s face.
“Go for it,” said Benaiah. “Ichi has a soft spot for kids. Befriending you will make his day.”
The guardsman made a soft noise of protest, but his expression gentled. Moving over, he patted the spot between him and his captain. “Join our ranks. Add your voice to David’s song.”
“Gladly!” Kester scooted into the offered place, then shyly added, “Thank you, Ichi.”
He responded with a murmured phrase in a different language.
Before Kester could ask what he’d said, Benaiah drew breath and launched into the promised song. “In you, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed!”
♦ What’s the nice part of anticipation? Why can it drive you crazy?
♦When does time fly for you?
♦Have you ever run up against a language barrier? Were you able to get around it?
Author’s Note: This story is a prequel to Christa Kinde’s Threshold Series [Zonderkidz] and updates twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays). More information can be found on the Sage and Song index page.
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