Daughters of Babylon

Wilson Barrett

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Excerpt from Daughters of Babylon: A Novel

Elcia sat by the well of Naomi. It was towards evening, and the glaring heat of the sun was tempered by a soft breeze full of the thrilling coolness that only desert winds know. Through the palms about the well the lemon light slanted across the dark head, with its heavy mass of hair, that was bowed as if in deep meditation or in grief. In the distance, softened and sweetly melancholy, there was the sound of singing voices. For in the fields, among the flocks and the herds, the people of Elcia's tribe, sons and daughters of Israel in captivity to Babylon, chanted the hymns of their ancient faith as they watched the grazing cattle, tended the nibbling sheep, or wrought at making packs for the camels in the doors of their tents. These same tents were hidden from the great eyes of Elcia, for the well lay apart, and, at this moment, there were no stalwart shepherds or herdsmen discussing the tributes paid to the Babylonish king, or, with lowered voices, whispering of the hour when Israel should be free, and mourning be turned into the joy that cannot live in slavery.

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