Continued research for my next historical novel: Peter and Paul.
And then, of course, there was the tradition of completely distorted Hebraic or Mosaic teaching, which not only the sacerdotal classes but the man of the street practiced. While Yeshûa’s teaching was intended to change all that, in those early days only the “believers” made an effort to love one’s neighbour, let alone one’s enemy. As for defenseless women, they didn’t seem to matter at all.
Chapter ONE (draft, continued)
The Dark Days (excerpt)
It was a quiet late afternoon, hardly a breeze in the air. He was crossing the square, keeping close to the wall to take advantage of the shade. Half-dozen children were playing hide and seek, in the side street, using the merchants’ carts as hiding places. Nothing much happened. It was too hot for adults to take even a leisurely stroll along the dusty streets. And then they came.
Instinctively, Peter backed up into the penumbra of a doorway. Two men were dragging a woman, perhaps no more than twenty years old, by both arms. Five other men followed, grim smiles on their faces. Her bare feet were rubbing against the hard-beaten sand. Must have been sore, skinless, by now. It wouldn’t be long now.
Two of the men tied her arms, then legs, then pushed her against the stone wall, which was already splattered with blood from previous occasions. The other men watched, their smiles getting wider. Then one of the men picked up a stone and threw it at her. He didn’t have a good aim—it missed her by a handbreadth. She didn’t utter a sound. Resignation? The other men were better. Perhaps they had more practice? By the tenth stone she lay crumpled, unconscious—by twentieth, probably dead. Nobody cared. The men wiped their hands on their coats and walked away. No one even stayed behind to bury her body. She was left there as an example.
The children played on.
He would have forgiven her, whatever the transgression. The body doesn’t sin, He’d said, only the mind. Or, He would have stopped the men from doing anything. He had that power.
And I just stand here, cowering, Peter thought. A deep, tearing, silent sob heaved his chest. Oh Master, please give me strength. Give me courage. You called me Kepha, a Rock, yet my heart is like putty.
Yeshûa was never afraid. Never. It was as though He was immortal. It was as if He could never come to harm. And yet…
It all seems so very short time ago.
(to be continued in Chapter 2)