Tobias agreed. If he had been in charge, he would have stopped at the well they passed a few hours ago. But Raphael strode on as if he had just begun the journey. And this was their first day of travel. Tobias waded into the river and ducked his head into the chill water. As he came back up, dripping and grinning, a fish leaped up as well.
“Catch it!” Raphael lay back on the bank and rested on his elbows.
Tobias eyed the spreading ripples where the fish had slipped back in. He had never caught a fish with bare hands.
“Be still. Watch for it again, and when it jumps, catch it.”
Tobias stood as still as he could, his hands spread. Even if the fish jumped again, he doubted he could catch it. Suddenly it arced out of the water. Tobias lurched forward, grabbed, and found a wriggling fish in his grip.
“Supper!” Raphael crowed as Tobias threw the flopping fish onto the bank. “Cut up the fish. We’ll eat the meat, but save the heart, liver, and gall.” He dug a small, empty goatskin pouch out of his journey pack and tossed it to Tobias. “Put them in there.”
As Tobias sliced into the fish, he asked, “What are the liver, heart, and gall for?”
Raphael, clearing ground for a campfire, shrugged. “You never know when you might need such things.”
By the time the sun had fully risen the next morning, they were on their way again. Rested and eager, they made good time, but as they neared Ragae, Raphael pointed to a side road. “We’ll turn off there and stay the night with Raguel in Ecbatana for the night. He’s a relative of yours.”
“Can we not reach Ragae tonight?” asked Tobias. “I had hoped to present the receipt for my father’s money tomorrow.”
“You’ve business in Ecbatana as well,” said Raphael. “I plan to ask Raguel to give his only daughter, Sarah, to you in marriage.”
Tobias jerked to attention. “What?”
“I think you should marry Sarah.” Raphael grinned.
Tobias’s mouth flopped open and closed like the gasping, dying fish.
“You’re her only relative, so it’s your right to marry her. She’s beautiful and sensible –”
“And cursed,” said Tobias. “We hear the news. Her father married her to one man after another. Seven husbands she’s had, and none lived through the wedding night. It’s said that a demon is in love with her and strangles any man who goes near her.”
“Just meet her and see what you think.”
Tobias followed Raphael down the road to Ecbatana, wondering if he should turn back and risk travelng to Ragae alone. He cast a sidelong glance at his tall, confident companion and sighed. One night with relatives in Ecbatana would provide plenty of family news to take back to his parents. But he would have to be on his guard and circumvent any marriage arrangements. Otherwise, he’d return home in a shroud.
- to be continued -
© 2012 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved. Based on The Book of Tobit, circa 200 BCE. Photo courtesy clipart.com.