The eastern sky waxed resplendent with the morning sun. Sounds and scents of the marketplace permeated the air. Traders bustled about, setting up their wares, and then shouted their come hithers to all passersby. The shrill haggling of the villagers’ voices intermingled with the tinkling exchange of coins. Buyers and traders-alike- smiled smugly to themselves (after all was- said and done), both proud of their marketplace prowess.
Satisfied that her father had everything well in hand, Sapira slipped away from the potter’s booth for a moment’s visit with the other maidens. She covered her arms and quickened her pace to protect against a sudden chill breeze chat had blown in from the Sea of Galilee.
The villagers greeted Sapira with admiring glances and hearty hellos. With a bright smile, Sapira returned their greetings as she passed through the crowded marketplace.
Deborah and Anka spotted Sapira and welcomed her with a warm embrace.
“You both look so lovely.
Deborah spoke up. “You silly goose, every eye at the marketplace is upon you.”
Sapira shrugged off Deborah’s comment. She grabbed their hands. “I’ve missed you both. Many days have passed since Father and I have been to the marketplace.”
“God is gracious to us, for now we see each other once again,” said Anka shyly.
“Well spoken, Anka; it is true,” replied Sapira.
The girls huddled together on a patch of grass to block out the stiff breeze.
Deborah touched Anka’s hand. “Tell Sapira of your news, Anka.”
“What news?” Sapira said.
Anka looked up through her lashes at Sapira. She smiled.. “1 have been betrothed to Perez.”
“Anka, how wonderful!” Sapira replied. “He is quite handsome and a very good, kind man. God has looked upon both of you favorably.”
“And God will give them seven strapping sons,” Deborah added with laughter.
“Shush, Deborah,” said Sapira. “They haven’t yet celebrated their wedding day, and you have already given names to their children.”
Anka blushed and giggled at the girls’ banter.
Sapira stood and wrapped her shawl firmly around her head and shoulders to protect herself from the strong wind. Deborah and Anka followed suit.
“What of you, Sapira?” Deborah asked. “When will we celebrate your wedding day?”
Sapira shrugged. “That is the very question that Father asks of me, Deborah. He is anxious to find a suitable husband for me. Perhaps Father fears that his only daughter will become an old maid.”
“Never: Sapira,” Anka said solemnly. “Every man would be honored to have you as his bride.”
“All except for Perez,” stated Deborah. The girls pressed their heads together and giggled.
The breeze that had been blowing steadily picked up with a ferocity the villagers had not seen in many a day. The girls hurriedly took refuge behind a large tree and held firmly to one another. Shopkeepers scurried frantically to secure their goods, while others left all behind and simply ran for cover. Debris swirled around and around. Anything left unsecured fell prey the ill wind.
A young boy, who moments before had run carelessly through the marketplace, cried helplessly in the midst of the wind’s fury. Horses, skittish from the wind’s loud shrieking, broke free from their flimsy holding pen and charged down the narrow road toward the frightened lad. The mother of the terror-stricken boy ran without regard toward her young son, but the horses, now in a full panic, galloped furiously closer. The debris blown along by the fierce wind hampered her progress and tripped her up. The villagers watched in horror as the horses bore down upon the boy. No one seemed close enough to help the boy save for Joed, who had taken refuge nearby.