Hashabiah edged forward on his seat. “Is it too late to save the vineyard?”
Why doesn’t the man who owns the vineyard know how to water his plants?
If the watering is a miracle, why do they have a good source of water?
more description of getting from the vineyard to the water and toward Mt. Hermon
how far to Mt. Hermon.
This chapter is rushed.
Provide more description of the characters movements.
I was never sure from the chapters before this one that Elijah and Nathan planned to work for Uncle H.
this whole chapter you need to get closer into Elijah’s POV
Zarephath, Sidon, 869 BC
Elijah pulled a leaf from the top layer of a grapevine and held it up for Nathan and Zim. The once-green velvet had dried to a skeleton of tiny veins that crumbled in his fingers. Hundreds of these light brown leaves descended in rows from the purple foothills, flowed past Elijah, and stopped at the shriveled gardens next to the city.
Overhead, a kestrel screamed and dived at a circling hawk. On a post among the vines, a crested lark warbled whee-whee-wheeoo. The kestrel, the hawk, and the lark sounded like those in Dad’s vineyard early in the morning. Yet instead of the familiar tang of ferment from a few grapes hidden among the leaves, a dry, barren odor touched his nose.
The sun edged up over Mt. Hermon and showed a man plodding out from between the broad stone pillars of the north gate. He headed toward the foothills with two buckets dangling from a pole on his shoulder.
Elijah touched Zim’s elbow. “Those buckets will lead you to water.” While Elijah and Nathan had to stay out of sight, Zim could wander in full view. [Need a transition sentence here since it jumps in from nowhere. ]
Zim scurried between the vines, followed the bucket man, and waved as he disappeared behind a fold in the hill.
“Look who’s coming.” Elijah pointed at the city gate. Hashabiah and Neetz hiked out on the same path as the bucket man but turned to Elijah and Nathan waiting in the center of the vines.
when they reached where Elijah and Nathan hid in the center of the vines, they turned in to meet them.
Hashabiah addressed Nathan. “My daughter asks to help water the vines.”
Neetz lifted a pair of buckets.
Nathan’s cheeks flushed.
Hashabiah raised his eyebrows toward Nathan. “My wife doesn’t have time to perform chaperone duty, but I would hire Zim’s mother to work with you.”
Nathan better BEAT? “It seems good for the widow to work with Neetzevet.”
“I suppose so.” Elijah scowled and crossed his arms over his chest. Nathan had used Neetz’s full name. Even though the aunts and uncles called Elijah’s mother Shoshi, Dad used her proper name, Shoshana.
Neetz edged closer to the shelter of her father’s side, and her doe eyes peeked at Nathan.
Zim’s squeaky shout came from the base of the hill. He waved. Then his blond head bounced over the tops of the vines. (all by itself LOL)
The bucket man emerged behind Zim, buckets bending the pole across his shoulders. He strode toward the gardens by the city gate.
Nathan waved at Zim. “Looks like our boy found water.”
Hashabiah focused [Out of Elijah’s POV ] on the [disembodied] bouncing blond head. “It’s good you give Zim responsibility. I pray he found the spring, but I’ll not wait for him. I need to travel, ride my donkey, to the market early to buy four more donkeys, and then I plan to talk with Zim’s mother.” He rubbed his chin. “Meanwhile, Neetz, we’re safe from gossip today if you work out of sight here in the vines.” OH, he’s taking a big chance.
“Yes, Daddy.” She ducked her head. [Doesn’t tell me what she’s thinking or her response, besides you used ducked head a number of times in previous chapters.]
“Very good. I’ll see you men tomorrow.” He gave Nathan a full nod, glanced at Elijah, and marched toward the city gate.
Neetz watched his tall figure walk as far as the edge of the vineyard, then she smiled as her eyes lingered on Nathan.
Elijah huffed, turned away, and cracked his knuckles. This couldn’t be happening. Girls in Gilead who discovered his brother’s social foibles drew back in fear or mocked from the shadows. Nathan avoided the pain by keeping girls at a distance, but this one had found a way to work by his side.
Zim trotted in, his face red and dripping sweat under the early morning sun.
Neetz wrapped her arms around him. “You okay, Zee-zee?” Her gaze drifted to Nathan.
Zim shook his head and gasped, “I only found a puddle.” He took Neetz by the hand and led her between the rows at a slow walk.
Elijah and Nathan followed.
The sun floated up over the foothills. Flies buzzed in the heat. From an oak, a chaffinch belted out its song.
“See the boulder?” Zim pointed.
Elijah pushed by Zim and Neetz, and a flock of pin-tailed sandgrouse darted away from the boulder. [Was it a cliff? Dangerous? Maybe have Zim say, “Watch out for that boulder. There’s a dropoff.” Or is the water coming from the boulder? This is not clear.]
At the base, clear water seeped through a trail of algae and filled a hole the size of two buckets.
Zim knelt and splashed his face with water. “Okay, Mr. Lijah.” He moved aside.
Elijah dipped a bucket in and pulled it out full. He tried to dip the next pail, but the water had fallen so low he could not submerge the edge of the bucket. He gave a heavy sigh. “It’s not enough, Nate.”
“Where does our friend get water?” Nathan pointed to the large happy grower of figs [How does he know?] and apples coming up the path in his patches-on-patches tunic. “You do the talking, Lijah.”
The big man stopped by the tiny water hole and leaned on his hoe handle. “Not a bad place for a drink.” He laughed. “If you’ve got all day.”
“It’s way too slow.” Elijah lifted his empty pail. “How are the figs?”
“Well, young man, those figs and apples and pomegranates feed my wife and children plus our twelve chickens.” He hoisted the hoe to his shoulder. “Come with me. I’ll show you where to fill those buckets.” The farmer trudged off toward Mt. Hermon.
Elijah turned to Zim. “Hang onto Neetz, now, and don’t let her get lost, okay?” Maybe with a little help, Nathan could evade this girl.
“Stick with me, ma’am.” Zim took Neetz’s hand and thrust out his chest. “I’ll protect you.”
“My big, strong, Zee-zee.” Neetz’s eyes sparkled.
Nathan frowned at Elijah and forced [POV] a smile.
Elijah slid his two empty buckets onto a pole and hung them over his shoulder. He latched onto Nathan’s elbow and glanced back at Neetz and Zim. “Grab your buckets, brother. I smell water.”
They caught up to the large happy farmer.
Elijah fell into step beside him. “Um, sir, Uncle Hashabiah hired us to rescue his vines from this drought, but we don’t want to steal water from your figs.”
“I hope you lads can save a few vines.” The big man continued his long strides toward the hills. “But before you talk about stealing water, come see the spring.”
Elijah took a fresh grip on Nathan. [Odd he’s holding on. Aren’t they both carrying buckets?]
Nathan rolled his eyes and came along peaceably.
The farmer led them among rises and hollows of the hill. [More specific – is this a hill outside the vineyard?] “In here, boys.” He pushed through bushes at the edge of a small group of plane trees and stopped by an oblong pool of clear, blue water about the size of Uncle Hashabiah’s roof. Shafts of sunlight fell from the trees and shot the water through with diamonds. The water swelled and sank with tiny gurgles no louder than the flutter of leaves in the trees.
He touched two buckets hanging from a limb. “For my trees.”
“Wow.” Nathan gawked. “Water. Thank the Lord.”
Elijah guided Nathan to the edge of the pool. [Is Nathan blind? You need to really work on your character’s actions.]
Neetz stood on the opposite side and held Zim’s hand. She smiled when Nathan smiled, leaned forward when he leaned, and nodded in sync with him.
A flush crept up Nathan’s neck and his eyes twinkled. He side-glanced at Elijah but gave Neetz not a peek.
Elijah jerked his hand up and brushed hair from his face. Nathan was growing eyes in the back of his head.
“Watch.” The farmer dropped a small stick into the surge. It floated to the other end and disappeared. “Don’t know where it comes from and don’t know where it goes.” He beamed. “Just know it flows in this drought.”
Nathan shook his head. Why?
Neetz shook her head, licked her lips, and straightened her tunic.
Elijah stepped up to their large, happy friend. “But where’s the line of people carrying water to their gardens?”
“Oh, son. Most of us in this long ??? village are fishermen. I’m the rare duck who grows things in the dirt.” His belly shook with a laugh. “As long as my cousins can hold a yard arm in one hand and a rudder in the other, they’ll trade fish for cucumbers from the north, where farmers still have rain.”
Elijah tossed a branch onto the pool and watched it disappear. “I’ve never seen such a spring.” No response to what the man says???
“It’s the limestone hills, my boy. Springs farther east rise in caves. I can show you rivers that never see the sun.” He swung his hoe onto his shoulder. “Well, children. I’m off to my trees. Try not to fall in.” As he trudged up the path, his shoulders shook with his laugh.
A familiar warmth spread thru Elijah’s chest, and he clapped Nathan on the back. Working with his brother in the vines meant the comfort of old times. “We’ll never drain this hole, Nate. How many donkeys and water skins can our little crew manage?”
Nathan knocked knuckles with him. “We’ll start with one donkey each and learn the best way to carry water. Let’s do this thing, Lijah.”
Neetz’s murmur came from behind Elijah. “One bucket feels right.”
Nathan squared his shoulders and glanced at the sun directly overhead. “The donkeys come tomorrow. Today we’ll carry what we can in pails.” He knelt, dipped a bucket into the flow, and set it full on the bank.
Zim snapped his chin up. “I can carry as much as anybody, Mr. Nathan.” The little braggart placed both hands on the bail, lifted the bucket a few fingers off the ground, and struggled with it toward the vines. He glanced toward Neetz, but she was watching Nathan.
“Can you carry this much, Neetzevet?” Nathan lifted a full bucket by the handle.
“I’ll carry as much as I can, Nathaniel.” As she grasped the handle, their fingers touched.
Nathan froze. His eyes widened.
Elijah curled his lip. This full naming of each other had gone beyond politeness. His finger paused on its way to his pursed mouth. Nathan was in too deep for that kind of warning. Elijah hadn’t seen this coming. Had the Lord?
Neetz accepted two half-full pails, strung them on a pole across her shoulders, and set off after Zim.
Nathan filled two pails, inserted a pole in the handles, knelt, and stood with the two buckets bending the pole. He followed Neetz. [Where did they get all the buckets?]
Elijah knelt at the edge of the pool. “Lord, I’m afraid for Nathan.” What about the butcher’s daughter in Ramoth? He and Nathan had never been to Ramoth. They had never met the butcher or his daughter. But whenever a new girl in Jabesh fluttered her eyelashes at Nathan, Dad muttered to Mother about their old friend, the butcher in Ramoth, and his daughter, Bernice.
He sloshed his two pails full and set them on the bank. With the pole in the handles, he stood and stumbled after Nathan.
When Elijah arrived in the center of the vineyard, the sun hovered over the Zarephath surf. [ An ocean?] The air stood as still as the sun and almost as hot.
The widow waited with a shovel in each hand. Nathan and Neetz stood with her.
Elijah set his buckets on the ground.
“There.” Zim struggled up behind him and dropped his pail. “I didn’t spill much. Did I?”
His mother pulled him to her side. “You found water.”
“Found a whole ocean of water, Mommy. And Mr. Nathan’s gonna teach us how to rescue the vines.”
“Uncle Hashabiah said I’d find you here.” She handed Elijah a shovel.
Instructor Nathan pointed to the base of a vine. “Watch, please. I want my brother to demonstrate how to get the water to the roots.”
Elijah knelt by a vine.
Neetz, Zim, and the widow hovered as he dug a small basin around the stem.
He tipped a drink in from a bucket, and the water disappeared immediately into the soil. “I’m tempted to empty both buckets on this one vine—it’s so dry. But the next vine is thirsty too, so I only fill this hole three times. Right, Nathan?”
Elijah slapped Nathan’s shin. “How did I let your sandal come unlaced? Give me that.”
As Nathan turned his foot toward Elijah, Neetz gave a slow shake of her head. “Is this a Gilead thing? Or just with you two?”
Elijah coughed. “Um, well, watch what happens when I pour water on this next vine.” He should have ignored the laces. “See how the soil—”
“I’ve got this.” Nathan put his hand over Elijah’s mouth. “Neetzevet, I can’t lace sandals, so my brother helps me.”
i Zimrida sounds like a girl’s name since it ends in an a
iiElijah scratched his chin. What would Mother think? When girls in Gilead paid this much interest, Nathan turned his back so fast the breeze blew them into the ditch. But Neetz had him showing off like a child. [I don’t see Nathan showing off. Maybe show it more clearly.]