by John J. Boyer

Copyright 2010 | godtouches Digital Ministry, Inc. | www.godtouches.org | All rights reserved

(Author's note: This is only the very beginning of the book. Much time and research will be needed to finish it. New material will be added from time to time.)

Chapter One


At the sound of her father's voice she looked up from her weaving and rose to her feet. He had just entered the room still wearing his outdoor clothing, and he had a big smile on his face. She knew that smile. It meant he had a surprise for her. A thrill of anticipation ran through her. Did he have a present? Maybe a bit of jewelry to celebrate her recent attainment of womanhood? Maybe even a husband? ...

"Yes, Daddy."

He stood for a moment admiring her work. She scanned him, looking for telltale bulges, but there was no way to guess what might be hidden in the folds of his cloak or in his money belt.

Then his eyes glinted, and she knew that he would tease her before revealing the big secret. But beneath the glitter she could see a trace of sadness.

"This is awful!" he said, pretending to rip the cloth from the loom. She laughed and wiped imaginary tears from her eyes.

"So what have you been up to now?" she asked.

"Oh, I just got you a new tent."

,A tent? but we celebrated the Feast of Booths a month ago, and why would I want a tent all to myself even for that?"

"You'll like this tent. You've already seen it."

"Oh, Daddy, quit teasing. You know I don't want any old tent."

He chuckled. "How about a young tentmaker?"

Her cheeks warmed. "Who?"

"Remember the family who moved here from Corinth a few months ago. They're tentmakers and they were interested in buying some of our cloth for their finest products - your cloth, I should say. You must have noticed their son looking at you when we broke bread with them. Didn't I see you taking some sly peeks at him?"

She felt her cheeks grow hot, and she knew that he had paused to savor the moment.

He consinued, "Just this morning, after we had completed our business, his father asked me if we would be agreeable to a match. I went to their house and talked to the young man and his family to make sure you would be treated kindly. We ..."

His voice trailed off. A stricken look came on his face.

She rushed to him and threw her arms around him, burying her face in his cloak. He smelled of outdoors and of the synagogue. "Daddy," she said, "What is wrong?"

He patted her head. "Nothing, my child. Only ... only, you will soon be leaving us, and you are our only one."

She hugged him tighter. "You know I would be glad to spend my life with you and Mama, and to care for you in your old age. After all, you are the only ones I have also."

"No, no," he said, "Your life is not ours but God's. It is time for the next generation. You will give your mother and me great happiness with grandchildren."

* * *

Aquila stood on the roof, occasionally glancing over the parapet to try to distract himself with the activity in the street. A step behind him made him turn. His father stood there looking pleased. To his son's unspoken question he said:

"Yes, we have come to an agreement. You should have stayed. Her father certainly grilled us, but he was friendly. You did make a good impression. Anyway, it's all arranged. Prisca will be coming to live with us in a month, and six months after that your marriage will take place."

Aquila heaved a sigh of relief. He had been thinking of the girl ever since the supper the two families had shared to celebrate their business aliance. She had tried to keep her eyes demurely downcast, but he had seen her looking at him more than once. He had noted how attentively she listened to the conversations around the table and had longed to talk with her at length.

* * *

Priscilla was so excited that she could hardly stand still. At the same time her stomach knotted with apfrehension. After all, tomorrow she would be leaving the only home she had even known.

* * *

Aquila again stood on the roof. He heaved a sigh of relief as a curtained litter came into sight. Priscilla's father walked ahead of it, and it was borne by four of his workmen. All were armed with clubs and dbggers. Even in this Jewish quarter of rome one could never be quite sure of the safety of a comely young woman.

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