Mistress sat quietly by the large window, staring out at the brightly-colored gardens. I could tell she was thinking about Master.
I stood hidden, also thinking. I had to tell her. I knew I did. But how? When? I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t want to. I wanted to go home.
But I had to tell her.
“They’re so beautiful, aren’t they,” Mistress murmured, pulling my thoughts back to the present.
“Pardon me, ma’am?” I asked, stepping forward. “May I help you?”
She shook her head. “Not unless you can heal my husband of leprosy.” I swallowed, but she didn’t notice and continued after a small pause. “I was just noticing the beautiful flowers outside and wondering why there can be so much beauty in the world while good men die of diseases. Why would the gods allow my husband to die? Has he not faithfully served them his entire life? When has he ever wronged them?”
I stood nervously listening. Mistress had never talked to me like this before.
“Why won’t they heal him? Why won’t they at least give us a sign?” Mistress’s voice shook, and I saw a tear slip down her cheek. “Why are they silent?”
The room was very quiet. I was surprised by her outburst, and I tried to find the right words to answer her with. “Now is the time,” I thought. I clenched my dress with my right hand, trying to gather the courage to speak. I was struggling again. With just a few words, I would destroy my only hope of ever going home.
You must do it.
I knew that. It made no sense and I couldn’t see how this was part of God’s plan and why it was better than Naaman dying and some of God’s chosen people going home, but I knew it was what I had to do.
“‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’”* I stepped backwards, suddenly feeling the urge to cry. It was done. I had said it. Now Mistress knew. What would everyone think of me? Would they ever forgive me? Would I ever see my family again?
As I leaned against the wall, trying to hold back the tears, I noticed Mistress sit up straighter and turn towards me. “Do you really think the prophet could heal Naaman?”
I took a breath to calm my voice and said, “I believe the prophet is used by the one true God. God can heal even leprosy, so I believe he can use the prophet to heal Master.”
Mistress stood up, a spark of hope building in her eyes. “Go bring me one of the servant boys,” she instructed in a whisper.
“Yes, ma’am.” I hurried to obey her. When I returned with a nine-year-old child, Mistress was sealing a note. “Here,” she said, holding it out to the boy. “Tell one of the manservants to bring this to my husband immediately.
“Yes, ma’am,” the boy said, nervously grabbing the letter and scurrying out of the room. I watched him leave, my heart pounding. What would happen next?
I dreaded opening the door, but I had to. Did everyone know yet?
Mistress had sent me to the kitchen with a message for the cook concerning dinner. It had been four days since I talked with her about Elisha, but only that morning had Mistress received word from her husband that he was going to Israel. By this time, everyone else knew that a servant had told Mistress about Elisha, and I was afraid someone would guess it was me. I dreaded seeing the other servants again, terrified of what they would think of me if they found out.
Taking a deep breath, I opened the door and was met by the usual bustling and loud noise as people hurried to and fro, chopping, washing, carrying, mixing, and chattering. I slipped to the other side of the busy room and delivered my message as quickly and quietly as possible, not wanting to attract attention. As I walked back towards the door, however, Martha grabbed my arm. “Elizabeth, have you heard the news?”
“What news?” I asked, trying to sound unconcerned.
“Someone told Mistress about the prophet Elisha, and she told Master, so now he’s going to Israel.”
“Oh.” I swallowed. “Yes, I did hear.”
“Who would do that?” Martha asked, turning to chop a large tomato with unusual vigor. “Do you know what this means? If Master is healed, then we don’t go home. We’ll be stuck here the rest of our lives!”
“Who could be such a traitor to us and to Israel?” Rachel angrily slapped a towel onto the table. “Who would tell Master how he could be healed?”
“Now we’ll never see our homes and families again.” Another servant girl, Rebekah, was almost in tears.
I twisted my dress nervously between my fingers while they talked, then started to leave. Martha grasped my arm again, though. “You’re with Mistress all the time. Do you know who told her?”
“I think it was Naomi.” Rachel grabbed a knife to chop vegetables with Martha. “Rebekah said she saw Naomi visit Mistress the morning she sent the note out to Master.”
“She’s always been sympathetic towards the people of Aram,” Rebekah pointed out. “Perhaps she was hoping to be rewarded for helping Master; if he is healed, the servant who told Mistress will probably get fairly rewarded. Naomi’s always been greedy for money.”
I struggled to look normal. Was that what they would think of me if they knew? That I was a greedy traitor who just wanted money?
“How could Naomi do that?” Martha was furious. “How could she be such a traitor?”
My heart was thumping wildly. I couldn’t stand there and listen to them falsely accuse the wrong girl any longer. “It wasn’t Naomi,” I said.
“It wasn’t?” Rebekah asked in shock.
“How do you know?” Rachel turned to look at me.
“Because,” I started, then found I was shaking. I took a deep breath and looked down at the floor. “Because I was the one who told Mistress about Elisha.”
Though the rest of the room was filled with noise, the table where the three girls were working fell horribly silent. It seemed like forever before Martha whispered, “What?”
“You…betrayed us?” Rebekah was horrified and angry. “How…how could you?”
“I thought you were loyal to Israel,” Rachel said, stepping towards me furiously. “I thought you wanted to go home.”
“I do,” I said, opening my mouth to explain. “But—”
“I thought you were my friend!” Martha burst out. “How could you? Now we’ll be trapped here forever! How could you?”
I couldn’t speak. The lump in my throat was too large. Instead, I turned and bolted from the room with my face in my hands.
The news spread quickly that I was the one who told Mistress, that I was the traitor. Every foreign servant I passed either gave me a furious look or refused to glance in my direction. Even Aram servants who wouldn’t have been released upon Master’s death disliked me. Everyone viewed me as a traitor.
I didn’t go into the kitchen for dinner that night. I preferred a hungry stomach to bitter comments and angry faces. Besides, what I really wanted was to slip into bed and cry, and when Mistress finally went to her bed, I did just that.
I was so lonely. Not only had I lost hope of ever going home, I had also lost all my friends. I was doomed to spend the rest of my life serving my enemy, living among people who hated me.
“Why?” I whispered, tears spilling out the corners of my eyes. “Why does it have to be this way? Why did I have to tell Mistress about the prophet? Why couldn’t I go home? God, what is your plan here?”
*2 Kings 5:3