“You know why,” said Sarah, offering an admiring smile and a flutter of long lashes before turning to a woman decked in coin necklaces, who handed her a fine alabaster jar.
Tobias did know why. And it wasn’t just because Sarah’s father, Raguel, was known for his lavish entertainments. People had come from far and wide to gawk at the groom, the demon-slayer. Women in roving groups cast furtive glances at him as they chatted with each other. Some of the men gazed at him openly and saluted with their cups. Others were more reserved, but Tobias could feel their stares.
He scanned the crowd for Raphael, then reminded himself that this was only the first full day of the wedding celebration, much too early to expect Raphael’s return. If he returned at all.
That night Tobias entered the bridal chamber again with dread. Sarah was much more relaxed. He could tell she trusted him to banish any demon that might appear, so he made sure the incense was burning. But he had no more fish heart and liver. Only the packet of gall remained, so he set it beside the incense just in case.
But the demon did not return that night. Neither did Raphael.
On the fourth day of the celebration, as Tobias sat by Sarah among the guests feasting on peacock, honeyed fruits, and Persian wine, he looked up to see Raphael at the door. The man fairly glowed as he nodded at Tobias and took a seat at the table. Soon a servant slipped a small scroll to Tobias. On it was one word: “Success.”
That night when Tobias examined his father’s money bags, he found their seals unbroken. His spirits soared, thinking of his father’s joy at his successful return. For the next ten days, Tobias held his eagerness in check. But the morning after the festivities ended, he approached his father-in-law, who had returned to his customary place on a cushion in the garden, where he was sipping pomegranate juice.
They exchanged pleasantries as a servant handed Tobias a cup. But before he drank, Tobias blurted, “I must go to my father now, or he will give up on me. I’ve been away far too long.”
Raguel waved away the comment. “Stay. I’ll send a message to explain.”
Tobias sipped the tart juice, then squared his shoulders. A bit of haggling was to be expected, but he was not of a mind to skirt the issue. “Thank you, but no. I ask that you send me to my father – with your blessing I hope.”
Raguel grunted and called for his scribe. While Tobias stood by, Raguel dictated a writ bestowing half his property – slaves, cattle, and money – on his new son-in-law. With each addition to the list, Tobias’s jaw dropped further and his eyes widened until he felt like a fool who might drool at any moment.
With a flourish Raguel signed his name to the scroll and said, “May God give you prosperity before I die.”
Tobias closed his mouth. God just had.
- to be continued -
© 2012 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved. Based on The Book of Tobit, circa 200 BCE. Photograph courtesy morguefile.