“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!
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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