[Will this fit in here somewhere?]
Elijah grabbed Nathan’s arm. “We have to help those girls.”
“The miller wants to draw straws for whose baby they kill. The potter and the grocer want a Moab whorehouse. Don’t you see? It’s up to us. We’ll get swords and chase those slavers out.”
“We’ll take lessons. I never saw that knife until it was in my face. But we’ll learn. We’ll strike like…like…how’s that go about the Lord’s wind and fire?”
Nathan looked at Dad.
“Go ahead, son.”
Nathan clasped his hand over Elijah’s.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind.
Your lightning lit up the world.
The earth trembled and quaked.
“That’s us.” Elijah pumped his fist in the air. “Lightning for the Lord.”
“I didn’t stick around to hear. You should have been there. Market day, right? I stuck my face into a load of onions and crawled through donkey dung. I could almost feel the guards grabbing my heel.”
Nathan stopped at a tiny path. “You know where we are?”
The path led through limestone houses, oaks, and acacias.
Nathan wagged his finger in Elijah’s face. “My little brother loped past the Well of Harod showing about as much respect as an uncircumcised Philistine.”
“This? Here? How was I…? I’m not as unlearned as you think. The Well of Harod is where old Gideon chose men who cupped water in their hands, but those who got down on their knees and sucked it in like I do—he sent them home.”
Nathan started down the road again. “Don’t give up your studies.”
“There are moments, Nathan, when I could wring your scholarly neck.”
Nathan jerked his face toward Elijah. “Where’s the goatskin?”
Elijah patted his pack. “Only wore it inside the fort.”
His brother’s face lit up. “So, they’re searching for….” Nathan faltered. “No. By now they realize there was a boy under there.”
“Not to worry. A guard ran by, and he passed me again as he walked back to the fort. He never glanced at me. Not once. That’s when I realized what David’s finest moment was.”
“That time he hid from King Saul by keeping the mountain between them. Remember?”
“You mean at Maon?”
“That’s the place.” Elijah beamed. “Saul and his men went along one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other.”
“Lijah, the only thing that saved David was the messenger who pulled Saul away to fight Philistines.”
“You mean David didn’t just stay behind the mountain?”
Nathan stopped. “Lijah, my fingers don’t tie laces, but sometimes your head doesn’t follow logic.”
Elijah opened his mouth, but Nathan put a hand over it.
“Our dad says, ‘Two little boys can hunt squirrels better than one.’ Well, the bodyguards heard those words from their own fathers. They’ve already put their heads together and decided to forget that goatskin. If you wait here, ten guards will snatch you before sundown.”
“I get it. So, we hustle.” Without breaking stride, Elijah reached over and slugged Nathan on the arm. “But, hey. You bring anything to eat? I’ve only got a fig and half a pita.”
“Raisins. And a few pitas.”
Nathan patted his bag. “Plus, a little water. We can refill our skins at the ravine.”
“The Kerith. Tastes better than river water.”
Elijah pulled his brother around to face him. “Nathan, you don’t understand. I’m going home.”
Nathan snorted, grabbed his arm and started him toward the river again. “You are not going home. Our father’s moth-eaten goatskin saved you for a few minutes. But the king’s men are still looking for you.”
“But tomorrow we load wineskins.”
“Ha! Our father’s been hauling wine to the King’s Highway since before we were born. He’ll think of something.”
Nathan propelled him by the elbow. “You’re going to listen for trumpets with me at the Kerith. I’m not letting you put our mother in danger. They’ll be asking for a tall guy with a big nose and a Gilead accent. Like the potter says, we’re all knees and elbows. Too easy to spot in a crowd, and we look just like our mother.”
“Mother.” Elijah frowned. “I promised her I would tell Milkah.”
“Do not even think about a visit to that young lady.”
Elijah gave it one more try. “And when we run out of your raisins and pitas?”
“Lijah, Lijah. What am I gonna do with you? After the Lord pulled our ancestors away from Pharaoh, a few complained about no garlic on their pitas. And here the Lord rescues you from Jezebel, but you bellyache about raisins?”
If Nathan weren’t so stubborn, they could have gone home. The path through Tishbe had a few roots and rocks, but nothing like these jagged stones that bloodied his toes in the dark.
At home he would sit by Nathan on the limestone wall around the well and pull up a bucket. First to his brother and then guide the cool, smooth flow down his own throat. But out here, he knelt in gravel that bit into his knees. He rocked forward and felt in the stream for a place to rest his hands.
Nathan knelt beside him. They puckered to suck up water, not candidates for Gideon’s elite, but their elbows pointed to the stars would give the Jabesh potter a good laugh.
Elijah lowered his face into the brook. Mm… he slurped and rubbed water in his hair. Not the water of home, but better than the wind and dirt of the road. He rocked back on his heels, pushed hair from his face, and blew water off his lips.
They crawled onto a low ledge, curled up on the goatskin, and pulled Nathan’s wool cloak over them.
“Well, Nate, at least the king’s guards won’t be waking us.”