Warrior Prophets: Chapter 21 – Widower’s Regret

Warrior Prophets Chapter 21

Widower’s Regret

“I know it is rude of me, but I can’t host you,” the tall Menashite said at the entrance to his stone house. “I’ve just returned from Canaan. I haven’t been with my wife and children for fourteen years. Try Tzruyim next door. By the time he returned, his wife died of heartache and his daughters had married and moved out. He may appreciate the company.”

“Thank you.” Boaz stepped back from the house, together with Amitai and Raskul. They noticed the well-tended fields and the large flock of sheep. Down the mountain range, to the west, they could see the blue ribbon of the Jordan River, the border to the newly conqueredCanaan. They had trekked southwards and knew they had further to go to reach the reported area of the tomb of Moses.

They walked to a dilapidated shack half a mile away from the Menashite’s stone home. The cool autumn breeze escorted them as the sun inched closer to the mountains ofCanaanacross from them. The field around the nearby shack had grown wild and there were no animals in sight.

Boaz rapped lightly on the door.

There was no answer.

Boaz knocked louder. The door was cracked and broken at the top and bottom edges. The old wood resonated from the knock.

Still no answer.

“Let’s leave him alone,” Amitai stated. “He might not be in.”

“He’s in,” Boaz answered, closing his eyes, drawing on his powers of Vision. “He’s in and in a dark mood.”

Boaz knocked again. The door rattled on its hinges.

“Go away!” a broken voice shouted.

“We are travelers. We seek shelter,” Boaz stated to the door.

“Go elsewhere! I’m in no condition to host,” the door transmitted.

“It seems no one in Yavesh Gilaad is up to hosting,” Boaz retorted with some heat. “Are you still children ofIsrael? Or have you all so quickly forgotten the hospitality of our forefathers? Where are your weary brothers to find rest? Abraham had four doors, west, east, south and north and they were always open. You have only one door and you don’t have the decency to open even that? What sort of man are you?”

The door opened violently.

“I’ll tell you what type of man I am, you snot-nosed beggar.” A giant of a man yelled at the visitors without looking. “I am alone. I fought for a nation. I gave my life for a people and in the end I have nothing. Now leave me alone.”

The door closed violently.

“Let us leave him.” Amitai grabbed Boaz’s arm. “We would be better off outside.”

“Though I would much prefer a warm bed,” Raskul added. “Your friend may be right. This man is not to be trifled with and your countrymen in this area don’t seem particularly welcoming.”

“I know him,” Boaz said, unmoving. “He was a great warrior. Fearless. It pains me to see him like this.”

“Such are the vagaries of war, boy. Some come out unscathed. Some are maimed for life. And many are wounded inside, where it never heals. Leave him be. There is nothing you can do for him. We have our own problems to deal with, namely some shelter before the night winds on this mountain cut into my old bones.”

“No. I will not leave him.” Boaz stayed his ground. “Tzruyim son of Avigdor, Commander of One Thousand!” Boaz called out. “Come out and face me!”

The door opened slowly.

“I recognized you, Boaz,” Tzruyim said softly. “You’ve grown since the Battle of Gibeon.”

“Yes. But what happened to you? What happened to the fearless warrior that braved the arrows of five armies? The one who led his men to capture the wall ofGibeon? When did the mighty son of Avigdor turn into a nasty, inhospitable recluse?”

Tzruyim sat heavily on the ground in front of his door and covered his face with his large hands.

“Vera,” Tzruyim sobbed. “Vera died waiting for me. Fourteen years. All those years of fighting. We won. We conquered, and I return to ashes just three days ago. No wife. Daughters married without me and gone. My land a shambles, my flocks gone. The neighbors told me how my wife struggled. How she was sad. Always looking to the west for a sign of my return. This is why I fought? This is my reward? Vera…”

Boaz sat down on the ground next to Tzruyim.

“We are cold and we have no place to stay. Can we come in?”

“Yes, yes. Of course. I’m sorry I was so unwelcoming. Make yourselves at home.” Tzruyim stood up slowly and walked into his shack, leaving the door open behind him.

“You mean all this land is yours,” Raskul waved his hand over the simple wooden table they sat at, eating from Tzruyim’s warm porridge.

“Yes. This was the portion allotted to me, in the day of Moses himself,” Tzruyim answered. “I would give it up in an instant to have Vera back.”

“What will you do with it?” Raskul asked.

“This land is good pasture land. I need to buy sheep or goats. I prefer sheep.”

“I have an offer to make you,” Raskul suggested. “A partnership. I will supply you with the funds to restock your flock and you will make me a partner in your land.”

“No,” Tzruyim kept eating his porridge.

“What do you mean ‘no’? We haven’t even discussed the terms yet. I assure you, I will give you most favorable conditions.”

“No, Kenite. This is ancestral land. This is land that was given to me and that I shall pass on to my progeny one day. It is not for sale or partnership.”

“Enough, Raskul,” Boaz muttered. “Leave him alone.”

“You are a fool, Tzruyim,” Raskul continued. “How will you afford to keep this wasteland? It is worthless. I would give you a handsome investment. Not only would you have the most beautiful of flocks, you can build yourself a mansion, a palace, instead of this miserable excuse for a hovel. Think, man. This is your chance to be wealthy. To receive the reward you so richly deserve. Did your wife die in vain, so that you should bring this property to ruin? Is this how you cherish the memory of your dead Vera?”

Tzruyim dropped the spoon of porridge and stood up. He reached across the small house for the broadsword hanging on the wall. Raskul backed away from the table and looked around in fear.

“Your vow! Your vow!” he called to Boaz and Amitai. “You swore to protect me! What did I say? For a few words this man will kill me? Protect me!”

“You gave a vow to this uncircumcised lout?” Tzruyim hefted his heavy sword and looked at Boaz.

Boaz and Amitai stood in front of Raskul.

“Yes, we did. He promised to take us to the grave of Moses and in return we vowed to protect him.”

“This man is a charlatan, and you have given your word to a trickster. Why, he offers me riches that he clearly doesn’t have to give, when I can just as easily borrow funds or animals from my willing neighbors. You have done ill by allying yourselves with this Kenite. Your judgment is suspect. You can all stay for the night, but you must be gone by first light. If this Kenite so much as says another word, I will slice his tongue out, no matter who stands in the way. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” Boaz and Amitai stated in unison. Raskul nodded his head, still eyeing the massive sword in the widower’s powerful hands.

“I apologize, Tzruyim, for our companion’s rudeness,” Boaz said at the door of the shack in the early dawn light. Amitai and Raskul were on their mounts, out of earshot. “He was ill-behaved and I’m sorry I brought him into your home.”

“It was for the best, Boaz. He rekindled my energy and helped me think clearly. I will borrow from my neighbors and rebuild myself. I will remarry. I will send for my daughters and offer them to live here, if their husbands are interested. That little thief was exactly what I needed to break my sorrow. Though I miss Vera so deeply.”

“Your sacrifice was not in vain.” Boaz clutched Tzruyim’s large shoulder. “You were instrumental in conquering thelandofCanaanand fulfilling God’s promise. I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you, Boaz. Now go, before my urge to kill that Kenite gets too strong. And beware of him. He is a walking box of mischief. You should be rid of him as soon as possible.”

“It is not so easy. We have given him our word and I don’t intend to break it. We need him to find the tomb of Moses.”

“You will have an interesting journey then. If you don’t keep his mouth shut, he is likely to get all of you killed. Go in peace.”

“Thank you.”

Boaz walked to his companions and mounted his donkey.

“Splendid.” Raskul clapped his hands. “This stop has been invigorating and has given me ideas about business in this area.”

“Next time you have a business idea, please discuss it with us first,” Boaz requested.

“Why? Are you going to invest?”

Boaz and Amitai merely looked at each other, sighed and trotted on.

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