You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
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List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
She scrunched up her small face, her lower lip trembling. Yesterday, her mama would not wake up, and her papa began weeping and acting strangely. He struggled to stand up, and perspiration ran down his face. She remembered his words, spoken like he was out of breath. “Joash, you must help me. Take Ruth and go to the house of Naaman. Tell him I need his help. Stay there until I call for you.”
Joash grabbed her hand and almost pulled her to the neighbors’ house. She had been holding her mother’s shawl, and she wrapped it around herself that night as they slept in the neighbors’ courtyard. She could hardly breathe for the fear that seemed to rise up from her chest. Why would the neighbors not let them go home? Had Papa not called for them?
Everyone looked at them with sad eyes and whispered to one another. She clutched her mother’s shawl and turned to her brother.
“Why will they not let us go home?”
“I don’t know. Something is wrong.” He looked at a woman standing nearby. “We want to see our mama and papa.”
The woman answered quietly, “Children, your mama and papa are dead. You cannot see them…ever again.”
Ruth heard the word “dead.” A bird fell in their small courtyard one day, and her papa said it was dead. It lay on the dirt, unmoving, its eyes closed. She could not imagine her mama and papa like that bird. She turned to her brother again.
“Mama and Papa are dead?”
Joash nodded, tears rolling down his cheeks. He put an arm around her, and they clung to each other.
Naaman’s wife spoke up. “I have fed them for two days, but I cannot continue to care for them.”
“Do they have family elsewhere?” said another neighbor woman. “I have children of my own to feed.”
Naaman murmured, “Phineas has family near the Plains of Moab, outside Beth-Jeshimoth. He told me before he died.”
“What family? His parents? Are they still alive?”
There was silence. Then, “How would the children get there? They can’t go alone; the boy is only six, the girl almost four. Who would take them?”
“That is something to consider. It is a two days’ journey.”
Teary-eyed, Ruth turned to her brother and whispered, “Where do they want to take us?”
He straightened his shoulders and tried to sound very strong. “I don’t know, but do not be afraid, Sister. I will care for you.”
A couple entered the small courtyard and hurried up to the group that had been talking. The woman spoke. “We just heard about the parents. The mother, Timna, was my friend. Do you know what is to be done with the children?”
Someone said, “Naaman told us they have grandparents, outside Beth-Jeshimoth, but we don’t know how to get them there. They cannot travel alone.”
The man nodded, then said, “I will take them. My wife, Mary, will go with me.”
“But, Gershon, can you leave your shop for that long? It will take at least two days or more, just one way.”
“Ha’Shem will watch over my shop. It is the right thing to do. If they have family, that is where the children should go. I will prepare my cart and donkey.”
The first woman spoke. “May the Almighty bless you for your kindness, Gershon, and your wife also. It is a good thing you do. I will gather food for your journey. The other women in the neighborhood will help.”
Ruth listened to the women click their tongues and murmur among themselves.
“Those poor children were alone in the house with their sick parents for days before Phineas sent them to Naaman and his wife.”
“My husband wondered why Phineas had not come to work in three days.”
“The Lord only knows the last time they had eaten.”
“Both of the children are so thin.”
One of the other men spoke up. “What if you get there and find that the children’s grandparents are dead?”
“We will just have to trust the Almighty to guide us; we will pray that they live and that these orphaned children will be welcomed.”
Joash clutched Ruth’s hand tighter. “See? We will go to Abba’s family. They will take us there.”
Ruth, too frightened to speak again, could only nod, dried tears still on her cheeks.
Early the next morning, they were fed some lentil soup and fresh bread, and then Gershon and Mary took their hands and led them home, telling them they would now gather a few things to take with them. Mary clicked her tongue and sighed as she and her husband looked around the small house. “There is little of value here,” Gershon said. “The girl seems determined to hold on to her mother’s shawl.”
Mary glanced at Ruth. “It is a comfort to her. We must not take the bedding, because of their sickness. I will bring bedding from our house. Oh, Gershon, they were so poor. How did they live?”
“Evidently he made just enough to survive.”
Ruth, with her mother’s shawl still wrapped around her shoulders, clutched a doll made of rags that her mother had sewn for her. She looked around. There was no sign of her mama or papa anywhere. She watched her brother slip a small leather box out of a cupboard when the man and his wife were not looking. He put a finger to his lips and hid the box in his clothes.
When the cart was loaded, Ruth climbed in after Joash and settled in as the journey began. Never having ventured beyond her street, she looked about, wide-eyed, as they passed through the town.
“What is our town called?” Joash asked.
“It is Medeba,” the man answered.
His wife turned around in her seat at the front of the cart. “Have you not been in the town before?”
Joash shook his head.
“It is large. Your father made many fine bricks to build houses with.”
Ruth looked up at her. “I miss my mama.”
Mary sighed. “I know, child. Your mama and papa were so sick from the fever. They just didn’t get better, like so many others. But soon you will be with your grandparents.”
“Will they let us stay with them?” Joash asked.
There was a pause, and Mary looked at her husband. “Oh, of course. I’m sure they will be glad to see you.” She turned around again. “Have you ever met them?”
Ruth looked at her brother, and both children shook their heads.
They spent the night with some other families that were traveling. Gershon said something about it being safer to stay with a group.
Mary made sure Ruth and Joash were settled for the night and then lay down next to her husband. The two adults whispered to themselves, probably thinking that Ruth was asleep. She kept her eyes closed and listened in.
“Oh, Gershon, I pray that the grandparents are still there. What will we do if they are not?”
“We must trust the Almighty, Mary. I feel we are doing the right thing.”
“Then we will do our best, and know the outcome soon.”
“Timna was never well, from what I understand.”
Mary murmured, “If the parents of Phineas had a farm, why did he leave? Would he not work the farm with his father?”
“A disagreement of some kind. I don’t think the parents approved of the marriage. Medeba is a larger town. He probably thought he had a better chance of finding work there.”
She sighed. “Then the grandparents may not even know about the children?”
“It’s likely they don’t. Let us get some rest. We have many miles to cover tomorrow.”
Ruth yawned. What did it all mean? She was so tired. It was too much for her to understand. Moving closer to Joash, she settled down and, despite missing her parents, allowed sleep to draw her into its embrace.
Here is my review:
First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Diana Wallis Taylor and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Ruth: Mother of Kings" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.