Deborah woke up and found a pig licking her face. She pushed the animal away, sat up, and looked around. The stream ran only steps away, the sound of its constant flow masking the noise from the various campsites up the slope. Judging by the position of the sun as it penetrated the thick canopy of the jujube trees, she had slept for at least one or two hours. Her body felt refreshed, but the memory of what she had learned filled her with despair. What was she supposed to do now? Continue on the journey with the two crooked old Edomites? That would be a waste of time. Go back to Emanuel and submit to Seesya? That would mean death, or a servile life even worse than death. Return to Ein Gedi and accept Ramrod’s offer of marriage? The idea of living with him on his relatives’ small plot near Bethel, washing his dirty clothes and bearing his skinny children, made her sick. What else could she do?
With a bitter groan, Deborah again recalled the inspiring Hebrew proverb that the blacksmith in Shiloh had shared with her: “When you pursue your True Calling, God provides the shortcuts.” Having learned that Kassite wasn’t the Elixirist, Deborah now saw that all the progress she had rejoiced at making wasn’t progress at all, but a sad chain of futile sacrifices and needless suffering. How could God have let her pursue her True Calling on a false path? How could He have let her exult in divine shortcuts over events that in truth were no better than unlucky coincidences that took her, not closer to, but further away from her goal? She recalled wondering the day before whether Yahweh could be playing a game of irony to amuse Himself, but who was she to blame God for what must have been her own errors? Perhaps it wasn’t her path that was false, but her very quest? Could she have been wrong altogether about her True Calling?
The possibility was too shattering to consider. Deborah sprang to her feet, pushing the idea away, and ran up the hillside.
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