Chapter 16: The Golden Link
Many entreat the favor of the nobility, And
every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.
PROVERBS 19:6 NKJV
Kester studied Solomon’s upturned face and wondered which parent he favored. He directed a silent question at his mentor. Is he like David?
Asaph’s voice touched his mind. The captain says Solomon has his mother’s face and his father’s heart. I tend to agree.
This is the man God made wise. Yet even the wisest of men could not know everything. But Kester had the distinct impression that the king appreciated this more than most. Perhaps it was this very knowledge that fueled Solomon’s curiosity. Somewhat discomfited at having the king kneel before him, Kester sat on the floor beside him. “I did not know those were your father’s words. He must have been skilled.”
“To tune his voice to mine?” Solomon asked lightly.
“As you will do?”
Kester inclined his head. “If necessary.”
Solomon’s lips twitched. “Because you are skilled.”
While this was certainly true, Kester thought it best not to admit the full extent of his abilities. “If my mentor spoke the truth, you sing quite well. What skill I possess should suffice.”
The king’s rich laugh filled the lamplit room, and he tousled Kester’s hair. “I wish half my governors had your composure in my presence.”
Asaph glanced up from his work. “You have their respect. Can you blame them for a touch of awe?”
“I can. I do,” Solomon retorted with another laugh.
Their banter went on, but Kester stared at the king’s hand—big, brown, and bejeweled. Asaph sometimes set his hand atop Kester’s head, but having his hair messed up was new. The young angel had seen fathers rough up their sons’ hair before, but he wasn’t sure how to react. Trying to fit the experience into some kind of framework, Kester blurted, “Did your father do this to you?”
Solomon blinked. “Do what?”
Kester touched his unruly curls.
“Come to think of it, he did!” the king cheerfully replied, repeating the tousling.
Intrigued, Kester made another connection, “And you are a father.”
“Many times over. Do I remind you of yours?”
“Sometimes,” Kester replied vaguely. “Do you mess up the hair of your children?”
Solomon’s brow creased. “I wish half my sons had your composure in my presence. But let us turn our thoughts to more pleasant things. I promised you a gift!” He stood and made his way through the storeroom’s jumble of treasures. Pausing before an open chest, the king said, “I have many pretty baubles. Will you choose one?”
“I will trust your judgment.”
“Surely you have preferences. A favorite color or pattern or stone?”
After some consideration, Kester said, “May I have something similar to my mentor’s?”
Solomon playfully complained, “You and Asaph are truly cut from the same cloth. He pled for the plainest ornament I could find.”
Kester nodded. “Plain, please.”
With a sigh, the king rummaged through one chest, then another. Since the boy’s arms were so thin, most of the arm bands were far too big. Not until Solomon was sifting through a third heap of jewelry did he find something that might fit. “Try this one.”
Sliding the gold bracelet over his left hand, Kester pushed it past his elbow. It fit snugly over his bicep, staying put when he flexed his arm. “It feels strange.”
“You’ll soon be used to it; you’ll need to wear it all the time.” Solomon wrapped one hand around Kester’s arm, covering his gift. “Those who see this will know that you belong here.”
“Is that what they think?” Asaph quietly interjected.
Kester looked between them, for his mentor was back to using a scolding tone.
Solomon wryly amended his statement. “Those who see this will know that you belong to me. Many consider this a mark of ownership. That is the price of a king’s protection.”
“Ichi called me your pet.”
A grin flashed across Solomon’s face. “I’m sure he meant that generously. Especially since he called me ‘pet’ when I was small.”
Kester fiddled with the arm band. Solomon’s soothing manner and Asaph’s distaste warned him that something wasn’t quite right. Looking between them, he calmly asked, “Have I been enslaved?”
The king winced. “I would prefer … employed.”
“I was already the servant of your servant,” Kester pointed out.
“All the people of Israel are God’s children, myself included,” Solomon said seriously. “We serve the same God even as I serve as your king.”
“Fellow servants.” Kester smiled faintly. “I understand.”
Solomon lifted a hand. “But Asaph is right. There will be those who call you a slave and treat you with little or no respect.”
The contradiction baffled Kester. “Against your wishes?”
“Very much so.”
“But who would go against the will of the king?”
With a wry smile, Solomon said, “My wives, my sons, and my daughters.”
♦ Do you know anyone with perfect pitch?
♦ How do your parents show you affection?
♦ What are the strings attached to Solomon’s gift?
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.
Sage and Song, © Copyright 2015 Christa Kinde, all rights reserved. If you want to receive an email whenever my stories update, subscribe to this blog. You can also watch for notifications on Twitter.