“Claressa, darling, look at this! Piles of money! And this is only the beginning. I’m going to be very rich! Uh, that is, we are going to be very rich!”
“Manaheem! That sounds wonderful! But where did you get all that money?”
“What does it matter? Now we can live comfortably, without any worries.”
She put her hands on her hips. “Manaheem! I want to know where you got and are getting all this money.”
“Can’t you just be happy with the fact that I’ve gotten this and will get more?”
“But why won’t you tell me? Did you steal it?”
“Well, not exactly.”
“What is that supposed to mean? You don’t expect me to believe your miserly foster brother, the king, gave it to you for whatever mission you did for him? What kind of mission could be worth this much—and more, as you said there will be more?”
“Well, if you must know, that is where I got it. --from King Herod, but not all for the mission.”
“But why would that tight-fisted miser suddenly be handing over this kind of money to you?”
“Because I know something he doesn’t want known.”
“Oh, so you’re blackmailing him. Well, what is this dark secret of the king’s?”
“The fact that the insurrection against Pilate was his idea. I know because he hired me to find a leader for it. That’s the mission I mentioned.”
“Oh, I see. He hired you to carry out his idea, which you did and--”
“--And for which he refused to pay me the full amount we had agreed upon.”
“What reason did he give for his refusal?”
“The fact that the insurrection had failed. I don’t care if it succeeded or failed. I did my part and I deserve my pay.”
“So, when he refused to pay, you decided to blackmail him for your pay.”
“For my pay and more. I realized that now I had him! Why should I settle just for what he had promised me? It’s his reputation, and perhaps his job, which is at stake. Ha, ha! He never thought of that when he hired me.”
“Well, I don’t like the idea.”
“What? You don’t like the idea of being rich.”
“I don’t like the idea of the way you’re going about it. How can you be satisfied to gain from another man’s misfortune?”
“But, Claressa, darling, I did it for us!”
“Well, then! I’m afraid, there won’t be any more ‘us’!
“What? But Claressa---”
“That’s right, my dear! We’re through!”
“But, Claressa, darling---”
But, why? What went wrong? Just when everything seemed to be going so well---! What could be the meaning of this event in the pattern of life? Or is there a meaning? Indeed, is there a pattern?
Claressa and I seemed so perfectly suited for each other. But then, perhaps she’s right. I was only trying to make a better life for the two of us. But then, without the right principles, what is life? Indeed! What about that spiritual element I thought I was searching for? What has happened to me? Did I lose sight of what is really important? Have I become as materially minded as my foster brother whom I scorned for this? Things do have a way of getting off balance, don’t they? Perhaps there’s some truth in that adage that what you scorn you may become. But where is the truth? Where is the spiritual element? What is life all about, anyway? Why is it that the material always seems so prevalent and pressing? Is there any spiritual element or truth at all to be found, or have I been deluding myself? I know that lately, I haven’t been trying very hard to find it. I guess I allowed myself to get sidetracked. Perhaps I should try again and harder.
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