ESTER'S CHILD



Excerpts from Part 1

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Rachel stuck her head in the doorway, "Sorry Ester, he got away from us."

At the sight of her young son, Ester Gale moved her lips into a smile, though the painful grimace which shadowed her face neutralized the smile. "Michel! Darling, come here." She weakly held out one hand.

Michel held tightly to her hand, viewing her huge belly with a trace of suspicion, vaguely recalling that somehow, a baby had gotten in there. Confused about a world that no longer revolved around him, Michel wanted to climb onto the mat with his mother, to snuggle close, the way they used to do. Just as he started to make a playful leap, his mother arched her back and gave out a high-pitched shriek.

Michel screeched in terror!

Anna Taylor jumped to her feet, shoving Michel toward the door and Auntie Rachel. "Rachel! It's time!"

Michel heard his father roar in a tone that he had never heard in all his two years of living, "Ester! Darling! I am coming!"

After Miss Anna told him in an impatient, sharp voice, "Michel! Find something to do," he lay down behind his father's sitting chair and fell into a troubled sleep.

The sound of his father's triumphant voice woke him.

"Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe Who is good and does good."

Rubbing his eyes, Michel wandered out from behind the chair.

Joseph beamed affectionately at his son. "Michel, did you hear the good news? You have a baby brother!"

The thought of a new brother did not strike Michel as terrific news. Everything was too unsettling. Michel's dark eyes brimmed with tears, but his father didn't seem to notice.

The knowledge that his beloved wife was safe, and that she had given birth to a healthy baby boy, caused the tension to seep away and brought tears to the eyes of Joseph Gale. He was not going to lose Ester! God was fair, sometimes. Joseph picked Michel up in his arms and recited once again, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe Who is good and does good."

The sound of a crying infant sent Michel into a grip of fear. He began to whimper at the cataclysmic changes going on around him, knowing that nothing would ever again be quite the same.

By Friday evening Michel felt slightly more friendly toward his new brother. The baby lay sleeping in Michel's old cradle, which had been set in a corner of the center room. Their new Bedouin maid, Jihan, a woman who used to work for Miss Anna, but was now going to attend to the Gale family, sat crouched on the floor by the side of the cradle, her hand lightly touching the infant's back as she gently rocked the cradle. Jihan was singing a plaintive melody.

Standing with his back against the wall, watching Michel play and his new son sleeping, Joseph was happier than he had been in a long time. In spite of the Jaffa Gate attack, the Arabs had not avenged the deaths of their loved ones. He was surprised, but encouraged, hoping that the Gale family would not be the ones to pay the price in the never-ending circle of revenge. He cheered himself with the idea that before too long, perhaps Jews could move beyond a time when survival was unexpected and death was commonplace. And, since this morning, when three men of the Haganah arrived to guard the area, the sniper fire in the neighborhood had ceased.

Rachel interrupted her older brother's thoughts. She looked at Jihan with glaring disapproval. "Really, Joseph. A blind maid?"

Joseph's face was free of expression when he glanced down at his sister. "She's very capable."

"Capable? How can a blind maid be capable? Are you joking? What help can she be to Ester?" Rachel's voice grew louder. She was furious that she had not been asked about the arrangement. "Anna is mad to suggest such a thing!"

Joseph's voice remained patient. "Rachel. Jihan has lived with Anna since she was a child. She is wonderful with children."

"No! I can't believe it." Rachel lowered her voice. "Obviously, Anna is weary of feeding a useless mouth!"

Joseph spoke in a vaguely disappointed tone, "Rachel. Don't be unkind. This is Ester's wish. And, mine."

Rachel Gale was a stubborn individual who liked having her way. Added to that misfortune, she was a plain, dumpy woman born into a family of tall, handsome men. Without a suitor in sight, she understood she would never have a family of her own to nurture. Rachel had looked forward to playing a pivotal role in the upbringing of her brother's children. Her tone was bitter. "Joseph, you are making a terrible mistake! A blind woman! Mind what I tell you, she'll do harm to the children!"

Looking at his sister's face, Joseph had a quick thought that Rachel was becoming impossible. He gave his sister a hard look and his back stiffened. With angry words he told her, "Rachel, the decision has been made! Now, close your mouth and leave me alone!" Joseph walked away.

Rachel stared at her brother in astonishment. Joseph was a gentle, soft-spoken man, and she had rarely heard her brother raise his voice in anger. Indeed, his kindly manner had encouraged Rachel's sharp tongue. Grumbling under her breath, "Blind maid, indeed!" she hurried into the kitchen to prepare the food.

© The Sasson Corporation • Rights to publish Ester's Child owned by Windsor-Brooke Books, LLC.

Excerpts from Part 1

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