In his huge, plush chair sat the king himself. Though only of medium height, he was quite impressive looking in his royal robe, with his full beard and his gold Jewelry. His short, golden crown was in his hand. When he was nervous, he would spend hours playing with it, placing it on his head and impulsively tearing it off again, then constantly turning it this way and that. Stopped short by the sound of the latch, he now simply held it still. Then, as the door opened, he raised his arm above his head and threw the crown at the black clothed personage who entered.
“Well, Manaheem! It’s about time! Where have you been, by Caesar?!”
The other stepped aside and the crown hit the wall, and went rolling down the floor. “Why, carrying out your wishes, dear brother. But why, I do not know, except for the pure enjoyment of the intrigue, and the present emptiness of my pocket, in that order, of course.”
”Well, you certainly took your time about it!”
The other shrugged. “You failed to inform me of any rush. And, even if you had, I doubt I’d have taken heed. I’m not afraid of you, you know. Though everyone else may be, I am not.” The crown hit the back wall, and started rolling back toward them.
Herod scowled. “I’ll overlook that for now. Well, out with it! What have you found?”
”Why a leader, of course, just as you requested – a certain blacksmith, whose heart is full of rebellion.”
Herod smiled broadly. ”Excellent! I knew you could do it.” Reaching into his robe, he pulled out a bag of money. “Here’s what we agreed upon. I’ve been holding it in expectation of your success.” He tossed the bag to the other.
Manaheem slipped the bag into his pitch-black robe and smiled. Then, he stooped and picked up the crown, now at his feet, and tossed it back to its owner. ”You’d best try holding onto your crown better in the future.”
Herod winced as he caught the crown. ”And just what is that supposed to mean?”
”Why, nothing! It was just a joke. Where’s your sense of humor, your Majesty? But, come to think of it, there may be more truth than falsehood in it.”
”What?! What do you mean?” Herod’s brow wrinkled deeply.
”Well, you intend to use this man to lead a revolt against Pilate, right?”
”--If, and when, I decide to do so. Pilate seems harmless enough, but, if his following continues to grow, he could try to force me out of office and claim Galilee and Perea for himself.”
”And so, you want me to keep our friend ready until such a time as you deem necessary or useful. And, if you decide to use him, and the revolt should fail, he would be the one to get in trouble and no one would ever suspect you had anything to do with it.”
”I always said you had a good head, Manaheem.”
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