Copyright © 2006 by Leah Kelley
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The snap of a whip drew Jael’s attention and she tiptoed over to the window, leaning her head close. There came another snap and a soft cry. Hedia? Jael’s eyes sought and found Hedia across the courtyard and her eyes widened in realization. Not Hedia. It seemed Ailsa was finally getting a taste of their husband’s rod.
Silently she motioned for Hedia to come close to the house underneath the upper windows. Another snap sounded, followed by a sob. Both Jael and Hedia put their hands to their mouths to stifle their laughter.
Ailsa’s voice could be heard now pleading pitifully, but Jael did not feel sorrow for her. Her heart filled with glee. Ephraim’s hand was never stayed by pleas or tears. His discipline was harsh. He would whip her a long time before he was through.
She listened closely for the next stroke of the leather, but it did not come. Her eyes met Hedia’s and their brows furrowed. Surely he was not finished. He had not given her many strokes. Jael’s eyes narrowed and she listened intently, but no more strokes sounded and Ailsa’s pleas were heard no longer. Hedia shrugged and moved back to her chores, so Jael followed suit, jealousy eating at her insides. Even in punishment Ephraim favored Ailsa.
Ailsa lay face down on her bed and cried quietly while Ephraim rubbed cream on her throbbing backside and thighs. Every so often he would pat her back and kiss her wet cheek.
“Do not cry, my dove. It is over now.”
“I am s...so a...shamed,” she sniffled. “Please forgive m...me.”
“You are forgiven and your sin forgotten. You need not cry anymore.”
By the time her husband finished applying the cream the awful burning of her backside had lessened somewhat. She shuddered at the memory of the whipping and felt a new wave of tears fill her eyes. She knew he had been merciful. She had seen him punish her sister-wives and knew he had given her only a small taste of his discipline, but she had never experienced such pain! In her father’s house discipline was rare and mild, and her late husband’s ill health had prevented him from punishing her even if she had earned it.
Her trembling refused to cease as she lay sniffling upon the bed. She heard Ephraim move and her heart quailed in dread when she saw him remove his clothing. In the next moment he covered her from behind, causing her to stiffen in panic. He had never before taken her in this position and she had no protection against him. Ailsa shook with sobs and fear as she begged for mercy.
“Hush, Ailsa. I mean you no harm. Be still, little dove, so that you do not hurt yourself.”
The gentleness of his voice and tenderness of his hands allowed her body to relax so that his presence there no longer caused her pain. He showed great patience and spent enough time in his comfort of her that in the end she experienced pleasure as great as his.
Jael moved slowly across the courtyard, her heart pounding in her chest as the sounds of another whipping along with Hedia’s screams poured from the upper windows. What had Hedia done? Why did Ephraim punish her? Did he mean to scourge all three of his wives this day? Swallowing hard, she forced herself to go about her chores. Unlike Ailsa’s punishment, Hedia’s whipping continued despite her hoarse pleas and choking sobs. Jael prayed both to Yahweh as well as Osiris that she herself would not partake of Ephraim’s rod this day.
Finally Hedia’s punishment ended and the door to their dwelling flew open. Ephraim stood framed in the doorway, leather whip in hand.
“Jael, come,” he ordered.
Jael’s breath seemed to leave her as her skin first grew hot and then cold. As if pulled by a string, she obeyed her husband’s command, knowing that to disobey would only bring her a double portion of his rod.