“What’s the matter?” I ask, because I truly feel for her. Being an outsider, she is greeted with suspicion by the rest of my wives.
Asking this question is, without a doubt, my second mistake of the day. For a long time Bathsheba is silent.
At long last, “Oh, nothing,” she says, biting her lip.
So hard does she do it that her lip becomes white, and it bears the marks of her teeth.
“Come here,” I whisper to her.
Instead she goes to the window. I find myself unable to say anything, so instead I make a note to myself, to write down these words, later: “The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride. You are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.”
By the reflection I can read her. I see that she wipes the corner of her eye. Silk curtains start swishing. They sway, they billow wildly around her, blotting and redrawing the curves of her silhouette.
I join her by the window and hold her, rocking her gently in my arms. Together, we look out at the last glimmer of the sun, sinking.
Our touch is magical. It melts away the bitterness in her. I hum a sweet melody in her ear. She closes her eyes and so do I. There is no need for words, because both of us know, we both understand the hardship she has to go through in my court, and both of us know she has to go it alone.
If I would try to put in a good word for her, it would miscarry. I mean, it would be construed as favoring her to others, which would put her in even greater isolation.
I do not know if Bathsheba can find her way up from the bottom of the hierarchy down there, in the women’s quarters. It takes a special skill to survive, to persevere is spite of any and all obstacles. It takes grit.
Trust me, I know all there is to know about it. That determination, graced by the joy of taking risks, allowed me to challenge men stronger than me and rise to power in their place. And to this day, it helps me hold on to it.
Does she have it in her? Can she take on women more established than her, such as my first wife, Michal, and my second wife, Abigail? Can she gain their support, and climb over their shoulders into her own power?
Time will tell.
David in A Peek at Bathsheba
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