Chapter 26: The Royal Decree
Do a favor and win a friend forever;
nothing can untie that bond.
PROVERBS 18:19 MSG
Evening drew close, and Asaph set aside his work. “Shall we have a song or two before the prince arrives?”
Kester hastily finished one last line and put away his writing materials. I will need a new song soon. Perhaps I should speak with the captain or Ichi. If they sing with me, I can add to the king’s collection.
One harmony led to another, and Kester lost track of time. His heart and mind were fixed upon heaven’s throne, so he was surprised when his mentor fell silent. Disoriented by their duet’s sudden end, he peered around their small apartment. What …?
Glancing at the closed door, Kester held his breath.
Another voice came, gruff with amusement. “Maybe they’re shy.”
“Singers stand before the whole congregation,” retorted Lemuel in tones that communicated, ‘everyone knows that.’
“These two aren’t in any temple chorus,” said the captain. “They only sing when nobody’s around.”
“How would you know?”
“Because I’m nobody.”
“But I am somebody!” retorted Lemuel.
“No one can deny that, brat,” Benaiah replied mildly. “Shall we go in?”
“I don’t want to.”
“But that’s how it’s going to be. In.”
Asaph opened the door. “Good evening, Captain. Prince Lemuel. Please make yourselves at home.”
“You got it.” The captain sauntered through with a bundle on his shoulder. Crossing the room, he dropped it onto the sleeping platform. With quiet economy, he turned the heap into a bed for the prince. If the guardsman was surprised to find Asaph and Kester without any kind of sleeping arrangements in the first place, he didn’t mention it.
Meanwhile, Lemuel hovered just inside the door, his arms wrapped around a squat box made from carved wood. “Is this all?”
Asaph asked, “Are you referring to the size of our apartment or the number of occupants?”
The boy’s eyes widened, then narrowed.
Beckoning Kester forward, Asaph explained, “This room is our allotment within your father’s palace. The two of us are grateful to consider this our home. You’re welcome here, child.”
Kester extended his palms. “Welcome.”
Lemuel eyed them suspiciously, his mouth pressed into a tight line.
Benaiah gave the new bed a casual tuck. Straightening, he cleared his throat.
The boy scowled, then bowed stiffly. “I am yours to command. Father made me say so.”
“And will you obey your father?” asked Asaph.
“Nobody disobeys King Solomon,” the boy muttered.
Benaiah lifted the wooden box from Lemuel’s hands and stashed it against the wall in the corner. “Will this do, brat?”
Lemuel wrinkled his nose at the old man. But he went to the bed and plopped onto its center. Treating his perch like a throne, he issued a royal decree. “Sing for me.”
Asaph shook his head. “We do not sing for men. Our songs are for God Most High.”
Kester was startled by his mentor’s declaration. Was this not a confession? He may as well have said, “We are angels.”
But Lemuel took no notice. Folding his arms over his chest, he said, “So be it. Sing for Him, but let me hear.”
The captain snorted. “You want to eavesdrop on their worship?”
Going up on tiptoe, Kester caught his mentor’s sleeve. Perhaps they could sing through the watches after all! Barely containing his eagerness, he whispered, “Please?”
Lemuel’s startled glance turned into something shrewd. Matching Kester’s tone, he echoed, “Please?”
♦ Do you like sleepovers?
♦ Would you like to eavesdrop on angels at evensong?
♦ Have you ever brought a buddy along when asking your parents for permission for something? (Did it work?)
Author’s Note: This story is a prequel to Christa Kinde’s Threshold Series [Zonderkidz] and updates on Thursdays. 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.