King Solomon and the demons


The beginning of chapter 16


When Rhoda woke up in the morning, there was a blazing fire, and on it pots that ejected the most enticing smells. During the night she woke up a few times with a feeling that there was something important that she had to ask. But with the sun and the morning hunger, she didn’t find anything more important than breakfast, and any remnants of thought were dumbfounded by the smell of food.

“I’ll jump into the water to wash myself and then I will eat. I don’t know what is it that you are making there, but it smells great!” Rhoda told Mee as she went out of the tent.

Mee turned her head towards Rhoda and nodded.

Rhoda went down to the crick. Today she could see the different kinds of trees and bushes that grew near the water, and there was enough light for her to feel safe enough to swim for some time in the little pool that formed there. She lay on her back in the water, letting the sun rays that filtered through the high branches, color her closed eyelids with sun specks. After floating this way for a few minutes, the question that disturbed her at night rose again. Why? She turned to her stomach and swam to the bank. She climbed quickly, and after drying herself, went back to the tent.

“Why did kind Solomon lock you in the ring?” she asked Mee even before getting near her.

Mee looked surprised. Maybe she hadn’t thought that Rhoda would ask such a question, so early in the morning. She finished laying the food on the table before answering “This is a very good question, your majesty. In our opinion it was done without any real reason, of course. After all, we didn’t do anything exceptional to him. But he was really furious when he came back!”

“What had you done to King Solomon?” Wondered Rhoda.

“King Solomon wanted to go and learn a little about people without being protected all the time because of his position, your majesty.” started Mee. “He decided to wear the costume of a simple wanderer, and take to the road. Of course a king can’t do such a thing without telling at least one of his men, otherwise there might be anarchy in the country until he will come back, so he told his plan to his trustee. His trustees’ job was to conceal the fact that King Solomon was missing for a few months. One of my people was at the time at a nearby place and heard the plan. He hurried to our king to tell him about this, of course, and our king took advantage of this knowledge and jumped at the opportunity. On the day King Solomon took to the road, our king disguised himself as King Solomon and took his place. When King Solomon’s trustee arrived in the morning and saw him in the king’s hall he was very surprised, of course, but our king explained to him that he had reconsidered his wish and decided it will be foolish and irresponsible to leave his country without its monarch, and that is why he stayed. King Solomon himself knew nothing of it, of course, and went on a long tour. His tour took longer than he planned. He planned to come back after a few months, but reoccurring unexpected delays kept him from coming back. He suspected, indeed, that his mishaps were done by our people, but he thought that it was done as a game and that’s why he didn’t worry. We knew that every one of us, who had the opportunity to jinx King Solomon’s plans to come back, should try and delay him on his way.”

“How long did it take until King Solomon managed to come back?” asked Rhoda. This story made her feel uncomfortable indeed.

“Twenty two years, your majesty.” answered Mee, with a shred of pride in her voice.

“Twenty two years?” Rhoda was horrified. “And not one of his family members noticed anything? None of his servants? None of his guards? How can that be?”

“When you are a king, your majesty,” answered Mee patiently “you are a very busy person. King Solomon had a large kingdom to take care of. He also had many wives and servants and other people who worked around him. Our king always explained to Solomon’s wives who asked him why doesn’t he come to them, that he is very busy with the kingdoms affairs. To the other people around him he told various excuses. Any one who showed any suspicion was sent by the king on a long mission in a far away country. That way our king managed to rule as King Solomon for twenty two years.”

“And how did King Solomon manage to come back?” asked Rhoda. She didn’t know how he succeeded in punishing them, but it seemed to her that there was real justice in his punishment. Mee’s saying, that it was trifle in the demons opinion, made her think that there is something very wrong with the demons’ priorities, and in their grasp of what deed is good and what deed is bad!

“King Solomon knew how to speak with animals and birds, your majesty. When he understood that all the mishaps that happened were not coincidental, he called the condor, which is the biggest bird there is. He made himself a carrier, sat in it, and told the condor to take him home. This was also overheard, of course, by a demon who heard King Solomon’s plans and he hurried and warned our king. Our king told the palace service people that he plans to go for a short tour. To his trustee he explained that he decided to take his disguised tour now and that he will come back in a few days. He knew he will not be able to go on with the deception, so he took off.” Mee stopped for a moment and took a deep breath. “When King Solomon came back, and his trustee told him about what happened in the last few days, He asked him about what happened in the years that passed. The trustee was surprised. He told King Solomon that if he wants it, the person in charge of the chronicles can be summoned. He asked him what was it that he wanted to be reminded of. King Solomon asked him – for how long does he think he was absent. You can imagine how the trustee felt when he said – a week – and the king told him – twenty two years!”

Rhoda nodded, feeling sick of the thought of how king Solomon must have felt, and how did his trustee feel when he understood he was so wrong and for such a long time.

Mee went on. “After King Solomon understood that all these years someone else sat in his chair, it didn’t take him long to know who it was that ruled in his place. He decided that it is forbidden to let us be free, and he made this ring. It has some kind of wisdom in it that we don’t know, and that is why we can’t remove his curse from us. You see, King Solomon was not only the wisest of all mankind; he was also wiser than all of the demons put together. He used a kind of wisdom that even now, after so many years, we haven’t managed to learn. And it’s not that we didn’t try.”

Mee finished her explanation and breathed deeply.

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