Bathsheba sank onto her soft bed and let out a weary sigh. A
night servant had set out a gown to sleep in but she decided not to put it on
just yet. With Sarah busy washing dishes in the kitchen, Bathsheba could
finally have a few minutes of silence before she was interrupted. She lit a
candle and set it on the table by her bed, making sure it was stable in the
candle holder. She pulled the note out of her satchel and broke the king’s seal. Taking a shaky breath, Bathsheba unrolled the
letter. Then she carefully read the words from the king.
This news of your, or shall I say my child has
surprised us both greatly. Do not be afraid of your husband finding out. I will
figure out how to take care of him so that we can keep our secret safe. No
matter what happens, go along with everything I say.
my deepest love,
Bathsheba gripped the letter tightly as
she felt her stomach do a somersault.
What did David mean by ‘take care of him’? She had no intention of hurting her husband
in the midst of all this. A sudden pain
sliced through her stomach. She stifled a cry, clutching her abdomen and
clenching her teeth until the pain finally passed. Of course, she thought, I
never had the intention of having a child at this time in her life either.
Suddenly, someone rapped on the door lightly.
Bathsheba sat up quickly, causing another pain to slice through her
abdomen. “You may come in.” she said, her voice slightly strained. The door
cracked open and her older servant, Elizabeth, poked her head in. “Madam, if you don’t mind, I believe I will
be going to bed now. Is there any…” she paused and frowned at Bathsheba’s face,
which was beginning to pale. “Are you alright madam?”
nodded even though her stomach was on fire now. “I’m alright. Just a little
stomach ache.” She cringed as another pain knifed through her stomach. Elizabeth already knew that she was pregnant,
as she was one of Bathsheba’s midwives, but she didn’t know the child belonged
to King David. She quickly walked over
to Bathsheba. “Come,” she said gently,
“let us get you into some more comfortable clothing.” She urged Bathsheba to put on her sleeping clothes.
Without protesting, Bathsheba slipped off her normal day clothes and replaced
them with the soft inner tunic made of smooth silk. She remembered when Uriah bought it for her
as a surprise several months ago. The thought of him made her feel uneasy
Elizabeth,” she said as she pulled back the quilt that covered her bed. The
familiar scent of Uriah floated into her nose.
The smell of goats and straw reminded her of the time when he surprised
her with a baby goat when they were engaged. He was always so kind to her, so
caring, so loving. How could she have done this horrible thing to him?
pricked into her eye and Bathsheba let it trail down her face. She was turned
away from Elizabeth, who was waiting to be dismissed, so the older woman didn’t
see. “You may go.” Bathsheba said, her back still facing her servant. She
waited for the door to close softly before she allowed herself to cry. Tears
streamed down her face as she blew out the candle, leaving her only in
As she lay in bed, she
thought of all the times when Uriah said he loved her. Even when she was in an
awful mood he would always lay her in his lap and rock her like a child,
whispering his love for her over and over again. She cried into her pillow, the
blanket tucked beneath her chin. She
cried as she thought of him, off at war, not sure if she would ever see him
again. She cried because of the horrible sin that she had committed to her
caring husband. And she cried because of the baby growing inside of her right
now, and it wasn’t even his.
“Miss Bathsheba. Miss Bathsheeeeebaaaa.”
Bathsheba woke up with a start. As she opened her eyes she saw Sarah
staring down at her, a bundle of clothes in her hands. “Miss Bathsheba,
Elizabeth said to wake you up. She needs to know if you need anything at the
market before she leaves.” Bathsheba sat up and stretched her back.
“Why is Elizabeth going to the
market today? I already told her that she had the day off to day.” Sarah
shrugged her small shoulders as she dumped the clothes onto the end of the bed.
“We ran out of the fruit that she needed to make breakfast,” she replied simply
as she began to straighten out Bathsheba’s clothes for the day.
“Oh, well she didn’t have to do
that.” Bathsheba said as she got out of bed, “I’ll go myself. Tell Elizabeth
not to worry about it.” Sarah nodded dutifully and quickly walked out of the
room. Bathsheba hastily pulled off her silk tunic and changed into the soft
cotton inner tunic that was laid on her bed. She then pulled on a multicolored
outer tunic made of beautiful red, green, and gold thread.
While she combed out the tangles in her hair, she heard
someone barging through the door. She whirled around to see Elizabeth was
standing there, not looking the least bit happy. Bathsheba smiled and placed
her golden headdress snug on her head. “Good morning, Elizabeth,” she said
simply as she picked up her sandals.
“Bathsheba what is this about you
going to the market instead of me,” Elizabeth huffed, her arms folded across
her heavy set body. Bathsheba sat on the bed to pull on her sandals. “I said that you could have the day off today,”
Bathsheba replied as she tightened her straps, “I don’t mind going to the
market. I need the fresh air anyway. If you feel the need to do anything it’s
to make breakfast.” Bathsheba tied her belt around her slim waist and pulled
her cloak over her head. “You are excused.” she finished. Elizabeth looked like she wanted to argue but
instead she hesitantly left the room, muttering to herself. Bathsheba wrapped the cloak around her
shoulders before she too left the room.
Soon Bathsheba found herself in the midst of a large mass of
people moving to and fro about the market.
To her right was a long line of shops selling colorful fabrics and
tunics for both men and women. To her left were stands selling breads, pastries,
and fruit of different variety. She took in the smells and sights of the market
place as she worked her way through the crowd. Stopping at a booth selling
large peaches and plums, she picked up a soft peach and breathed in its sweet
“Where are these from?” she asked
He smiled proudly and answered, “I
grew them myself. I have a lot of land filled with the most beautiful fruit
trees, heavy with the ripest fruit.” he picked up a plum. “Would you like one?”
Bathsheba answered as she reached into her satchel. “Of
course. How much is it?” The man grinned and handed the plum to her. “For you,
nothing.” Bathsheba blushed slightly as she took the plum. “Well, thank you.
But, I’d rather pay. It wouldn’t be right just to take one.” she said. The man
shrugged and named the price. Along with the plum, Bathsheba bought four
peaches to take home.
As she moved on to another stand, Bathsheba heard running
footsteps behind her and turned around just in time to see two young boys
running straight towards her. Each was clutching a small melon in his hands.
“Stop!” the owner of the melons called after them, “Stop you
thieves!” The boys ran past Bathsheba, one knocking the basket from her hands.
The four peaches fell to the dirt-covered ground and rolled under a table.
Bathsheba sighed and bent down to retrieve them.
“Here, let me help,” a familiar voice said from behind her.
She turned and saw a man standing behind her.
“Asher!” she cried,
dropping the two peaches in her hand. Asher was one of her best companions
since she was a child. She had been just as heartbroken as she was with Uriah
when she heard he was going off to war as well. She quickly wrapped her arms
around him and gave him a tight hug. He laughed and hugged her just as hard.
When they finally separated Bathsheba was still smiling. “What are you doing
here?” she asked. Asher bent down and retrieved her basket and peaches while he
“A group of us were sent back to accompany a soldier that was
sent for by the King.” He handed her the
basket. Bathsheba was curious. “Who was summoned?” She could see his eyes
smiling as he answered.
“Your husband, Uriah.”
Bathsheba dropped the basket again as her mouth fell open.
Asher looked at her amusingly as he reached for the basket again.
“You must stop dropping things Bathsheba.” He said, a smile
playing on his lips, “My bones are too old to bend down over and over again.”
Bathsheba didn’t even laugh. Her mind was racing far too fast
to register any jokes at the moment. “Uriah…he…why,” she stuttered, trying to
find something to say. Her worst nightmare had finally come true. When Uriah
comes to their home, he will find out about the baby, about what she did. The
only thing she wanted to do right know was crawl into a hole and die. She
forced herself to respond. “Why was he called back?” she finally managed to
Asher shrugged. “I have no idea. The king must have something
very important for him, to call him back in the thick of the war.”
“Well, I, um, thank you Asher,” she stuttered, searching for
words to say, “I’ll remember to make a…a nice welcoming dinner for him. I must
be going now.” She took her basket from
him and walked briskly towards her home, her thought running wild.
I’m a dead woman, she thought, When Uriah finds out what I’ve done he’ll stone me, or divorce or…or…
“Elizabeth!” she called as she burst through the front door.
“Elizabeth, where are you?” Elizabeth appeared in the doorway hold a bundle of
clothing. “Yes ma’am?” she answered. Bathsheba seized her arm and nearly
dragged her up the stairs.
“Bathsheba what happened?” Elizabeth asked as Bathsheba
closed the door to her room. “Have I done something wrong?” Bathsheba slowly
sank onto her bed and covered her face.
“Uriah is back.” she mumbled through her finger. Elizabeth
set the clothes down and sat by her. “How do you know?” she asked.
“Asher told me. We talked, in the marketplace.” Bathsheba
answered, sounding very depressed.
“Well, this is good news, is it not? Why are you so
troubled?” Elizabeth looked puzzled. Bathsheba moved her hands to her lap her
eyes downcast. “It would have been good news, if I wasn’t pregnant.” she said,
tears forming in her eyes. Elizabeth was confused.
“But he will be happy that you are with a child. You both
have been hoping for this day for a long time.” Bathsheba lifted her head and
stared right at Elizabeth.
“The baby …he…it… doesn’t belong to Uriah.” she said. A
single tear fell down her face. Elizabeth’s hand immediately came to her mouth.
She looked up at Bathsheba. “Then…then whose is it?” Bathsheba squeezed her
eyes shut and put her head in her hands, letting out a sob. She tried to
control the flood of tears streaming down face. “Who is it?!” Elizabeth
demanded, shaking Bathsheba’s shoulders.
“King David!” she wailed, “The baby belongs to King
David!” Elizabeth froze. Bathsheba
looked up at her and saw surprise mixed with anger and disappointment in her
eyes. Elizabeth released her grip on Bathsheba and collapsed onto the thick
windowsill. She massaged her forehead and mumbled something to herself.
Bathsheba pulled her knees to her chin and watched Elizabeth as she rubbed her
temples. Bathsheba wished she knew what to do. After a deafening silence,
Elizabeth spoke. Her voice sounded almost frightening.
“The King? The King?!
Why would you do that Bathsheba?!” she yelled, “You have a loving husband who
cares for you no matter what and you do
this…this atrocity to him?! What were
you thinking? Do you know how quickly
news spreads in this town? Before the end of this week the entire city will
hear of what happened!” she glowered at Bathsheba and whispered, “You should be
ashamed.” She turned abruptly and stormed out the door, slamming it behind her.
Bathsheba fell back
onto her bed and let out a sob. She shook uncontrollably as she let her tears
flow down her cheeks onto the soft quilt.