Saturday, February 05, 2005

 

the child, thirty-three


And now Josh led them forth from this bower and down the path. But not the same path they had come up. Down they went, past myrrh and cinnamon, past aloe and acacia. Down to the very foot of the mountain.

The other side of the mountain.

The Master's house where they had all been living for so long was nowhere in sight from here. None of them - save Josh himself, of course - had ever seen this side of the Mountain of Spices. There was a little house here...

Starr gasped. The house! The little house where Jessie lived. Was this it?

And... hmm... Where was Jessie now? Starr glanced about. She had seen the woman earlier as they were entering the bower, but then she hadn't given a single thought to her since. Was Jessie here now, lurking about, waiting to rip someone again with her vicious words...?

'Starr.'

It was the Master. 'Yes, sir?' she replied.

'Tell the others what you are thinking.'

Oh! Startled, stumbling over her words, she began to explain to the rest about Jessie. She felt deeply embarrassed, afraid she wasn't saying it quite right.

There was a movement to her left, and the singing sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath. Forest. Scowling heavily, the boy said, 'Just let her try some of her nonsense while I'm around...!'

'My son,' the Master replied. 'Always remember, and never forget, that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. That sword is not given thee to slash others with - that is Jessie's way, the enemy's way. Yes, she is sold to the enemy - but she is yet a human being - someone for whom the Master gave his life and rose again from death. There is yet hope for her.'

And to them all, he added, 'People are never the enemy; the enemy is the enemy. The enemy uses people - and sometimes they are willingly used by him, and sometimes not. For the enemy will also take innocent actions by people who have no ill-will against any, and twist their actions to make them look evil and hate-filled.'

He looked around at them all - their eyes were riveted on him. 'The enemy will seek to use you - your own innocent actions - one against the other. He knows you are being sent out against him. Do not let him divide you. It is your unity - united together as one body, with the Master as your head - that gives you strength. That unity the enemy will strike against. Do not believe everything you hear, nor everything you see.'

They stared back, eyes wide, like so many owls. He smiled. 'And be at peace, children. And filled with joy.' There was a small commotion then, as the young girl, the one who was Forest's age, gave a start and threw a hand over her mouth. Josh's eyes crinkled merrily at her, as he went on: 'The Master's joy is strength to you, dear children, to battle against the enemy's melancholy and discouragement. Do not let melancholy attach to you, but meet it always with the Master's joy. When you deliberately live in the Master's joy, even in the midst of many adversities - then will you confound the enemy's plans against you. Do you understand?'

So many owls they looked still. And not one admitted to understanding what he was getting at.

Josh smiled. 'Though you understand not, remember. And one day you will understand. For now, remember: unity and joy. Unity, because each of you is gifted by the Master himself in different areas, in different ways, that together you may accomplish the Master's will for you all. As you shall see.' And turning to Forest, who was still standing there with his sword drawn in his hand, Josh said, 'You are valiant, my son. And in your valiance shall you enter this house and deal with what you shall find within. But! Not all that you shall see there, shall be in truth as it seems. And so Starr,' and she started at the calling of her name, 'shall go with you. She shall describe to you what she sees. You shall trust her words, and act accordingly. Go forth, my children.' And again he said to them, 'Go,' - for they hesitated.

And even then they hesitated more. Starr glanced at Stone, stunned that she was being sent to aid the boy Forest - not Stone instead? The man Stone squeezed her fingers gently, released her hand reluctantly.

As for Forest, he shifted his grip on his sword, cleared his throat, tightened his face, and then strode purposefully up to the door. Starr hurried to crowd in after him, peering over the boy's shoulder into the dark interior of this little house, straining to make out what there was to be seen within.

And then Starr could see what was inside. And she gasped in amazement.

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