Jairus Daughter – Part 2

Two hours later the sun was coming up, we were all still very tired and Naomi was still moaning and groaning. Only now she was going at it with all she had. I am sure that they could hear her halfway across the village. Papa then decided that it was time to go and get the doctor. When Doctor Gomer got there, he mumbled a lot and gave her some of his medicine to take, but she just threw that up too. Some of the other ladies in the village came to see what they could do and each one of them seemed to have a favorite remedy to give someone with stomach pain. I think that Mama tried them all and Naomi threw them all up. Finally, about four hours after the sun came up it was high in the sky and warming the air pretty good, Naomi fell asleep.

Normally that would have been a good thing, but Mama said that something was wrong with the way Naomi was sleeping and that she was really worried. She turned to Papa and looked scared. I had never seen her look that way before in all my life. That scared me and it even scared Papa. I think it was then that he and Mama both began to believe that Naomi was going to die from this. The doctor had not been able to help, none of the ladies in the village had been able to help and now Naomi was sleeping in a very weird way that worried Mama. I started to understand that I might lose my sister. I went over to a corner of the room and sat down. I had never felt so sad before. It was then that one of the other leaders from the synagogue came by to tell Papa that the rabbi called Jesus was going to be arriving down at the lakefront in a boat with all of his disciples real soon and that they should go down to make sure that he did not lead any of the members of their synagogue astray with His crazy teachings.

Mama looked at Papa again. This time she was not scared. She simply said to him, “Jairus, you need to go and talk to Jesus and ask him to come and see Naomi. Maybe He can heal her. I am afraid that she is going to die.”

Papa was stunned. He could not believe what he was hearing. After all, he had just told Mama last night that they should all steer clear of this man named Jesus. Papa especially could not believe that he was hearing it from his own wife with the men from the synagogue standing right there. He was stunned speechless. I have never seen Papa unable to talk before. But, he stood there for a full minute moving his mouth but nothing was coming out.

He walked over to the bench by the window and sat down for the longest time, staring out. There was a crowd of people beginning to gather as word had quickly spread about Naomi’s sickness. There were also a few other men from the synagogue outside talking about going down to confront Jesus. And of course there was Mama inside staring at Papa, waiting for him to make a decision. She finally uttered just two desperate words, “Jairus, please!”

Papa turned from the window, stood up and looked tenderly at Mama. He then said to his friends, “You will have to excuse me. I have a very important errand to do for my daughter.” He then hurried out the door and headed down the street toward the lake. Mama turned her attention toward Naomi again. She kept wiping her forehead with a wet cloth, occasionally squeezing a few drops of water onto her lips.

Papa’s friends from the synagogue made their excuses and headed out the door. Outside, they met up with some of the other men from the synagogue that were in the crowd that was forming. They talked excitedly for just a moment or so and then they all headed down the street toward the lake, picking up their robes so that they could walk faster.

Since no one was paying any attention to me, I took off after Papa to see where he was headed and what he was going to do. I could run a lot faster than any of them could walk, so I caught up with Papa just about the time he got to the lake front. He looked around for a minute and then noticed the crowd that was gathering down on the shore where a boat had just come in.

* * *

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Final story in the series – Jairus Daughter – Part 1

Jairus’ Daughter

Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

My name is Amos. You don’t know me. I’m just a boy and not very important, I guess. But, I have a really good story to tell if you’d like to hear it. It’s not about me though. It’s really about my sister. Her name is Naomi. But, you probably don’t really know her either, at least not by name. I understand that most people only really know that she is my Papa’s daughter. You might know my Papa though. My Papa’s name is Jairus. This is about the day that my Papa met the Master. You know who He is. The Master is Jesus.

Well, it all started in a kind of silly way. You see Naomi and I were both still a little hungry one night. There was just a little bit of fish left over from a picnic that we had gone on the day before. Mama had said to throw it away because it was summer and food spoiled quicker in the heat, but Naomi and I had hidden some for a snack later. I had eaten mine the evening before, but she had saved hers until last night. She ate it just before going to bed and there was no problem at the time. That night we went to bed just like usual. But, Papa and Mama were talking about something really important so I kind of stayed awake to listen. They were talking about a rabbi named Jesus. I had heard about him from some of the other boys. They told me that this Jesus was healing sick people like leper’s and blind people. The blind people were getting to see, just like you and me. And some people were even saying that he was the Messiah that we Jews had waited such a long time for.

Well, anyway, Mama and Papa were almost arguing about this rabbi Jesus. Mama was telling Papa about all the wonderful things people were saying about Him. But Papa said that he had heard at the synagogue that Jesus was stirring up the people to rebel against the Romans and against the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. Papa was sure that there was going to be some trouble with this rabbi and that we should stay away from Jesus and not go see Him if He came to our town. Mama argued that she wanted to know more, that this man might be a prophet or even the Messiah and she wanted to make up her own mind. Papa said that if this man named Jesus were a prophet, he would be recognized by the leaders in the synagogue or by the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. But they were all sure He was some sort of troublemaker like those zealots that keep trying to stir up rebellion against Rome. Papa said he was going to stay away from Jesus and he made it clear that Mama and us children were to do the same.

That was pretty much all they said. Then they went to bed and we all had a peaceful sleep until about two hours before dawn. Naomi started moaning and groaning something awful. And she was holding her stomach saying that it was hurting really bad. Mama got up first to see what was wrong and to get her some water mixed with a little wine. That would usually help out an upset stomach, but Naomi just started throwing up all over the place. Mama then called for me and Papa to get up and help out. I had to get a big bowl with water in it and some rags to help clean up the mess. Mama asked Papa if they should send for the doctor and he said to wait a little bit to see if Naomi would settle down.

* * *

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Eber and the Tower – 7th and final part.

As they stood in the courtyard opposite their fathers waiting for the appearance of the king, Peleg whispered to his brother, “Joktan, what is going on with you? Why won’t you talk to me? Tell me what you were doing with those guards last night? They didn’t have you tied up. You were sitting playing a game with them at the table. It didn’t look like you were their prisoner.”

Joktan stood silently refusing to answer his brother.

“Joktan! Talk to me! We risked our lives to rescue you!”

Joktan finally whipped around to face his older brother, “Well, it sounds like you have it figured out don’t you? I was working with them to get Pop to see the light. You weren’t supposed to rescue me. Pop was supposed to see the light and sell the hay to the king. Everything would have been fine, but no you had to play the hero and try to free me.”

“But supporting the tower is wrong! Joktan, Pop says that the Lord wants people to scatter around the whole earth, not stay in one place. King Nimrod wants to build this tower as a tribute to himself and as an affront to the Lord. He thinks that he is more powerful than the Lord. That’s prideful and wrong!”

“Says who? Pop? He’s just basing that on some old stories about Great Great Grampa Noah that were passed down. Those things aren’t true. They’re just stories that people tell. I don’t believe ‘em. I believe in the king. He’s the one with the power to help us or to hurt us. I am on his side and he’s gonna thank me for that before this is all over. You’ll see.”

“Joktan, I don’t believe what I am hearing you say. Are you rejecting everything you’ve been taught?”

“Yes, now be quiet, here comes the king. You’ll see how right I was to side with him. You’ll see.”

The king made his entrance onto a balcony overseeing the courtyard, horns blaring. The guards commanded everyone to be quiet under threat of death. The king began to speak.

“Citizens of the great kingdom of Babel, thank you for meeting with me here today. It has come to my attention that the farmers of the valley do not want to sell me their crops of hay. No, I am told that they prefer to make their hay a gift to their king. Isn’t that generous?”

There was confusion and commotion amongst the farmers at this announcement.

“And indeed, they even wish to offer their sons as laborers for this mighty work of their king.”

Now the commotion grew louder as the farmers protested at the top of their lungs.

“I wish to thank you for your generosity and to promise you that if you should change your minds about this gift, I will have to make an example of one of your sons, to encourage you to continue your generosity until we have completed this tower that will reach up to the heavens.

As you can see, the tower is going to be completed soon because of your help. It will demonstrate the greatness of your king and his kingdom and new gods that I choose for us to worship.”

The commotion raised by the farmers continued to grow even louder in protest to what they were hearing.

“I can see that there are those among you that are not in complete agreement with my wishes, and are perhaps clinging to those old superstitions about the God of Noah. I am greater than any God of Noah; I am Nimrod, the most powerful warrior of all time. I will now show you that I mean what I say. Guards, take the boy that was selected to serve as a sacrifice to my will.”

The guards grabbed Joktan and pulled him to the center of the courtyard. He was surrounded by guards with spears pointed at him. Now instead of being filled with confidence, Joktan was suddenly filled with fear as he stared at the guards and their weapons.

The king resumed his speech.

“This tower and this city are a tribute to me, your king. You all owe me everything you have because I am the king. This tower is a tribute to me and what I can do. I will show you what happens to the sons of those that choose their mythical god over their service to me. Guards, exebla ga zornin!”

Suddenly no one could understand the king’s words any longer. When the guards asked each other what the king said, they couldn’t understand each other either.

The same thing was happening all over town and up on the tower. The workers couldn’t understand the foremen or each other, and they began to go back down to the ground where everyone was shouting at the tops of their lungs. Slowly small groups of those that could understand each other began to form and move off in one direction or another.

The same thing happened in the courtyard. The king continued to shout at the top of his lungs but with so many other people doing the same he could not be heard. The sons and the fathers broke free from the confused guards.

Eber and Adah found Peleg. They were relieved they could still understand each other in their normal language. Together they looked until they found Joktan and sadly found that they could no longer understand him or he them. After a number of fruitless attempts to talk with him, Joktan grew angry and ran away.

When Eber and Peleg got home, they discovered that they same thing had happened there. Families were scattered all over the land as they tried to find groups of people they could communicate with. They found Joktan with a group of people that understood him and he eventually migrated away from Babel with them, never to see his family again.

God was faithful and saved those who trusted in him. The others were scattered around the world as He had originally commanded. When you believe and obey, God is faithful, just you wait and see.

* * *

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Eber and the Tower – Part 6

Back at the home of Eber there was a single knock at the door before it burst open in a sea of splinters and a dozen or more soldiers rushed in and began capturing all of the farmers at the meeting.

The commander of the guards approached Eber and said, “Be especially careful with this one. The king is particularly anxious to see him in the morning.” Turning to the rest of his troops the commander shouted, “All right get these rebels out to the wagons for their trip to prison and don’t be gentle about it!”

Adah and the other wives tried to get to their husbands only to be shoved away by the soldiers. Eber shouted to his wife, “Pray Adah, pray…the Lord will hear and protect us.”

Adah could only cry and slumped to the ground outside their home as she watched helplessly. The wagons, surrounded by torch bearing soldiers, were driven back to the city. She felt as though she had not only lost her husband this night, but both of her sons as well.

Several friends got her up and helped her inside. After a few moments of weeping, Adah sat up straight in her chair, dried her tears and said, “All right ladies, it’s our turn. We must intercede for our men and children before the Lord, and keep at it until they return to us.”

With that she slipped out of her chair, down to the floor on her knees and began to pray, the others doing the same. “Lord of heaven and earth, creator of all that is, God of Adam, Noah and Enoch, hear our humble prayers…”

# # #

The next morning in the royal chambers King Nimrod dressed in his finest royal robes and spoke tersely to the commander of his royal guard.

“Do you have them all assembled for me to address?”

Bowing low to the king, his commander replied, “Yes Your Majesty, all of the farmers are present including that troublemaker Eber.”

“What about the sons of those rebellious farmers? Are they present as well for me to make examples of?”

“Yes your majesty, including the two sons of Eber.”

“One of them tried to cooperate with us did he not?”

“Yes your majesty, but it did not work. His father still continued to form a rebellion against your demands.”

“Well then he didn’t try hard enough did he? We shall make an example of him first.”

“As you command, sire.”

# # #

“Eber, where is the Lord now that we need Him?” one of the neighboring farmers asked him as they stood assembled in the courtyard awaiting the arrival of the king. “Now, not only am I at risk of losing my life, my son has been captured as well. Does the Lord not hear our cries or feel our pain?”

Eber stood silent for a moment whispering yet another plea to the Lord in his deeply troubled heart.

“Good friend, He hears our cries and feels our pain. But we must hold true and believe. We are standing in obedience to Him against King Nimrod whose only desire is to defy the living God. Great Grandfather Noah had a saying, ‘God is faithful, just you wait and see.’ I suggest that you be patient my friend. Wait and see what the Lord will do.”

* * *

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Eber and the Tower – Part 5

Just as Eber was preparing for his meeting and Peleg went out to meet his friends. Leban and the foreman were plotting with some of their men.

Leban stood up and spoke to the men.

“I have heard that our leading citizen Eber is calling a meeting of the farmers in the valley tonight at his home to convince them to resist the king’s demand for all of their hay. Gentlemen, the king has told me to make sure that this resistance fails. We have Eber’s oldest son Joktan in our custody, supposedly as a hostage, to convince his father to go along. Actually, Joktan is a willing participant in this ruse and is on our side. I want some of you to go to that meeting at Eber’s farm tonight and remind the farmers why they should go along with us. I suggest that you take a wagon and kidnap a son from each farm to help convince their fathers to go along. The king may also send out some troops to speed things up. I hear that he wants to bring things to a head tomorrow. “

# # #

Peleg left the house just as the moon was rising and arrived in the hayfield. He and a group of about ten boys were ready to go and rescue Joktan. After some talking and organization by Peleg, they headed off for the tower construction site quickly and quietly. The plan was to create a disturbance outside to draw the attention of the guards, get inside the shack, overpower any remaining guards and rescue Joktan.

# # #

At Eber’s home there was much talk. After an hour or more, Eber finally convinced most of them that they should stand against the king in obedience to the Lord. They were frightened, but Eber promised them that the Lord would help them stand against the king. They elected Eber as their emissary to the king to deliver their refusal. Just as they were taking the final vote there was a loud knock at the door.

# # #

When Peleg and the other boys arrived at the construction site, Peleg sent some of them around the north side of the tower while he and the others went around the south side so that they could approach the shack from both sides. The two forces each stopped around fifty yards from either side of the shack and waited while Peleg crept up to the shack to make sure that Joktan was still inside and safe. As he crept up underneath the window he could hear voices very clearly inside the shack and one of them was Joktan’s. He wasn’t sure but it sounded like they were playing some sort of game. But, it was clear that they were not expecting an attack of any sort. Peleg signaled the boys to begin the rescue.

The ones from the north started whooping and hollering while running past the entrance of the shack toward the south pausing just long enough for the guards to come out and follow them.

The boys from the south circled around the west side of the shack, pounding the outside with sticks. As they did that, Peleg and a couple of the larger boys rushed in through the front door. Once inside Peleg found Joktan sitting at the table with a couple of guards playing a game.

Peleg closed the door and said to his brother, “Come on Joktan, we have the place surrounded. Let’s go!” The other boys had no trouble overpowering the two guards and tying them up.

Joktan stared at his brother, clearly surprised he said, “Peleg, what are you doing here?”

“We’ve come to rescue you brother, me and all of our friends in the valley. Now come on, let’s go before those other guards get back.”

Joktan looked hard at his brother and said, “Peleg, I’m not going back with you.”

“What? What is wrong with you? You told me to go home and tell Pop. I did that. He told me not to come back after you, but I got our friends together and did it anyway. We have risked a lot to get you out of here and you are coming home.”

“No, you don’t understand…I…I…”

At that moment, a lot of shouting and yelling started outside the shack. The door burst open and a dozen of the king’s soldiers entered capturing Peleg, Joktan and the boys that were inside.

The soldier’s commander pointed at Joktan and Peleg and said, “You two are going to spend the rest of the night in prison, the king wants to see you in the morning and he is not happy.”

Joktan and Peleg looked at each other and began to protest to the commander, but he just ignored them as their arms were bound and they were hauled off roughly by the soldiers.

* * *

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Eber and the Tower – Part 4

Adah entered the house to find her husband Eber sitting slumped at the table, his face buried in his hands. Peleg was with him.

“Eber, what did those men want and where is Joktan? I haven’t seen him since breakfast.”

Eber stood up slowly and extended his hands toward his wife, “Adah, you had better sit down.”

“What is going on Eber? Has…something happened to Joktan?”

“Adah my dear, please sit down,” Eber said as he gently took his wife by the arm and guided her to a seat at the table. Once she was settled Eber took a deep breath and began to speak.

“Those men were from the king. They were here to tell me that unless we sold our entire hay crop to the tower construction project and convinced all of our neighbors to do the same they would hurt Joktan or…worse.”

“But how do we know what they are saying is true? How do we know they have Joktan?”

Peleg spoke up “Mother, I know for a fact they’ve captured Joktan. I saw them do it.” Peleg then told his mother about the capture, their fight with the guards and Joktan sending him home to tell their father.

There was silence for a moment and then Adah spoke up forcefully. “All right, what are we going to do about this?”

“Pop, I have an idea!”

“That’s good son, hold onto it, I’ll want to hear it in a few minutes. Adah, you and Peleg need to understand that this situation has placed us in direct opposition to the king who is determined to flaunt his power and is determined to go against the will of the Lord. I believe that God is calling us to oppose the king. But, in order to know the best course of action, we need to pray and seek His guidance.”

With that, Eber, Adah and Peleg all slipped to their knees. Eber led his family in confession of sins for themselves and for their community and in an impassioned plea for guidance from the Lord on how to restore themselves and their community to right standing with the God of heaven.

There was silence for some time after Eber stopped praying out loud. Finally he stood and said “All right, I think the Lord has given me a plan. But first, Peleg, what did you have to say son?”

“Pop, we’ve got to fight. Those men who took Joktan really mean what they say. I know…I tried to fight them off. Let me get some of my friends. I know where they’ve got him tied up.”

“No son, I don’t want you to try to rescue your brother. That is way too risky. I do not want to lose you too. I’ll have a meeting with the other farmers in the valley. I will try to convince them to resist the king’s men and then to figure out a way to get your brother back safely.”

Eber left immediately to begin talking with his neighbors. Adah came and stood beside Peleg and said, “Peleg, do you really think that you and some of your friends could rescue Joktan?”

Peleg looked into his mother’s eyes.

“Yes I do. He’s being held in a shack around the east side of the tower construction site. If I can round up a half a dozen or so of our friends, I’m sure that we could rescue him. Let me go and talk to our friends. If they agree, we can do it tonight.”

Adah looked out the window to see Eber riding off to talk to the other farmers, “Please do so my son. I won’t say a word to your father. He may be angry with you but he will also rejoice to see Joktan back home again. I will see to that.”

# # #

Eber went to each of the farmers in the valley. They had all been threatened by the king’s men and were angry at being forced to sell their entire crop leaving them with nothing to feed their stock. None could survive such an action. But, they were also frightened of refusing the king. Eber reminded them of the Lord’s command to Great Grandfather Noah. Not all of them even remembered the command of the Lord. Many had forgotten it and were not sure that they even believed in the Lord anymore since He seemed to be doing nothing to help them against the king.

Eber got them to agree to meet together that night at his farm to discuss the problem. He also got them to promise to pray that the Lord would bless their meeting and give them wisdom to know what to do. Eber headed home tired but convinced he was doing the right thing.

In the meantime, Peleg was also making the rounds of his friends getting them to agree to go with him to rescue Joktan that night. They were to meet Peleg in his father’s hayfield that night when the moon rose.

“Adah, the other farmers will be here shortly after supper so we can discuss if we are to resist the king and then how we are going to do it if we agree that we want to.”

Adah was thoughtful in her response, “My husband, how would you resist the power of the king? After all, couldn’t he just kill us all and take what he wants?”

Eber took a sip of his water and responded, “Yes he could, but that would cause dissension among the people in the city and then there would be no one to grow and harvest the food for the people. They are city people and they cannot grow food. Furthermore, after much prayer, I am sure that resisting the king is what the Lord would have us to do. He commanded us to ‘be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth’ we are not obeying the Lord by building a single large city for everyone to live in. Also, that tower is just being built by the king to demonstrate his power. I have heard that the king believes that he is more powerful and more important than the Lord. I have a feeling that the Lord will step in to block its completion. We farmers need to resist the king and show our allegiance to the Lord. God will take care of the rest. I believe that. I also believe that the Lord will watch over Joktan. I will explain this to our neighbors tonight when we meet together.”

When they were done eating Peleg told his father, “Pop, I’m going to go out for a little bit while you are having your meeting and talk with some of my friends about how we can show our support for your resistance. I think that it’s important for the sons of these men to understand what you and I believe.”

“You go ahead son. I will pray that you succeed in doing that. It will help us all to be of one mind.”

* * *

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Eber and the Tower – Part 3

“I don’t care how much they need that hay for their livestock! I want it for brick making! Burn down their farms if you have to, but get that hay!” shouted King Nimrod at Leban the construction manager.

“Your majesty, I’m sure we won’t have to go that far. With just a little more persuasion we can bring the leading local citizen, a man named Eber, around to our way of thinking. Besides, I have it on good authority that one of his sons is sympathetic toward the building of the tower. Perhaps, if we have a little chat with this son of Eber, we could sway the balance of the discussions with his father.”

Scowling the king said, “Just see that you do Leban! I am not interested in hearing any more excuses from you. If you don’t get that hay, I’ll see to it that you spend the rest of your life making bricks without hay.”

Leban gulped, “Yes your majesty. Consider it done,” he said, bowing low and quickly backing away from the king.

# # #

The next day Joktan was back in town at the construction site, standing under a tree staring at the tower. Across the clearing at the construction office, two men talked excitedly. One of the men was the construction boss Leban. The other was the tower foreman. The foreman looked around and noticed Joktan. He spoke to Leban, pointed to the boy and the two men walked quickly toward him.

Joktan, preoccupied with watching work on the tower, didn’t notice the two men headed toward him until Leban spoke to him in an overly friendly tone.

“Joktan, are you here to help again today? If you are we have a great job for you.”

“What? You kicked me off the site yesterday and today you have a job for me? Make up your mind!”

“Why don’t you come with us and we’ll show you what to do.”

“But, what’s going on? I don’t understand.”

“Don’t you worry about a thing boy; just come with us.”

Off they went with their arms around Joktan like he was a long lost son.

# # #

Unseen by the two men leading his brother away, Peleg hid behind a tree. He had followed his brother to see why he had sneaked away from the farm.

Peleg slowly followed the trio at a distance to a location on the far side of the tower where they entered a small shack. Peleg ducked behind a stack of bricks and watched the shack for about 15 minutes. Then he crept up close to the shack where he could hear two voices talking loudly inside but he couldn’t catch what was being said. Peleg crept up and knelt outside beside an open window, out of sight of the guards standing at the front door.

He heard his brother pleading with the two men.

“You can’t hold me here. My father is an important man in this town. What do you want anyway?”

“Listen, boy, we want the hay on your father’s farm. He won’t sell it to us. Your father will either sell us the hay that we need or he won’t see you alive again. The king wants this tower built on schedule and he won’t tolerate any excuses. Your father needs to not only sell us all of his hay. He also needs to persuade the other holdouts in the valley to go along. You, boy, are our prisoner and you are going to stay right here under guard until your father agrees to cooperate. If he doesn’t, well then that’s going to be too bad for you.”

Leban and the foreman turned and went outside, gave instructions to the guards and left.

Peleg peeked inside and saw his brother inside tied to a chair, struggling to free himself.

“Joktan! Joktan! Can you hear me? Are you all right? I heard what they said. Can you get loose?”

“Peleg, get out of here. Go home and tell Pop what’s going on.”

“No way, I’m going to get you out of there. I need to think…”

Peleg grabbed a large stick that was lying on the ground.

“Hey, you raise a ruckus so the guards will come inside.”

“Ok, but what are you going to do?”

“Never mind, just start yelling!”

“Alright. Hey! Hey, you guys out there! I’m getting sick in here. I need some help! Heeelllp!”

One of the guards went inside to see what was going on. Peleg gripped his large stick and hurried around to the front of the shack. Seeing no one, he started inside. The second guard had gone around the other side of the shack and returned just in time to see Peleg enter. He rushed up behind Peleg.

Joktan saw the guard running up behind his brother. Then he yelled “Peleg, behind you!”

Peleg whipped around, swung the stick with fully extended arms and knocked the guard down. The other guard who had been dealing with Joktan tried to rush Peleg but Joktan was able to trip him with his leg.

But, as the first guard fell down, he caught Peleg around the knees. Peleg fell to the ground.

Joktan jumped up still tied to the chair and threw himself on the first guard while yelling, “Peleg get out of here! Go home! Tell Pop what’s going on!”

Peleg jumped up, looked at his brother and said, “But…!”

Joktan yelled “Get out of here! Go home, tell Pop!

Now!”

Peleg dropped the stick and raced toward home.

The two guards stood up, untied Joktan and they all sat down at a table together.

“I think that was pretty convincing,” said Joktan. The two guards laughed.

* * *

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