Excerpts from Part 1

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"Birthing is a natural act," Anna responded. "Ester will have a healthy baby."

Trying to hide her anxiety, Rachel agreed. "While being held at Drancy," she whispered, "I once assisted a woman in childbirth." Located on the outskirts of Paris, Drancy had been the most notorious of the holding camps for French Jews awaiting transport to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Remembering that terrible time, Rachel gazed into the distance, purposely not mentioning that the woman had died during childbirth.

Ester began to chew on the cloth, and the color of her face paled.

Rachel's thin lips grew thinner still as she spoke out of the side of her mouth, "Joseph, the time is near."

Joseph felt his stomach tighten as an inner voice whispered to him that their survival had been useless if he lost Ester. He bent over his wife's small form, brushing her check with his lips, and telling her, "Hold on, darling. Soon this will pass."

Ester grunted her disbelief, and spoke with a croaking sound, a hoarseness that hid the usual softness of her voice, "Never. Never. Joseph, this pain has become a part of me." She shuddered in agony.

Tears filled Joseph's eyes.

Anna rose and began to rub Ester's shoulders, motioning with her head for Joseph to leave. She reminded him, "The water. Can you boil the water, now?"

"Yes, of course." Joseph gave Ester a kiss before leaving the room. Passing through the narrow sitting room, he took time to cover Michel with a second blanket before going into the kitchen.

Using the last of the precious kerosene, Joseph heated a small amount of water over a small burner. Not only were the citizens of war-torn Jerusalem short on food, but water supplies were at a critical low point.

Joseph visibly flinched when he heard the sounds of Ester's muffled screams. He began to pray aloud for the safety of his wife. "Hear my prayer, Oh God. Keep her from harm." He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead with his fingers. "Ester's life is all I am asking for." Hesitating with emotion, he whispered, "You decide upon the child."

Michel Gale awoke from his nap and began crying and calling for his mother.

Joseph held his precious child in his arms and offered to play a game, but nothing he could say or do comforted the boy. Just as Joseph was thinking the situation could not possibly worsen, Ari Jawor knocked determinedly at the front door, bringing Joseph unwelcome news.

Ari Jawor was Joseph's closest friend, and a member of the Haganah, the Jewish Defense Force. Ari was a squat, broad-shouldered man with a hard-exterior, soft-interior kind of character. And he tended to be overly dramatic. Today he was speaking even louder than usual. Without taking time to greet his friend, Ari filled the house with his unmistakable passion, "Joseph, they did it again!" He slapped his open palm against the wall. "The old man is furious!"

© The Sasson Corporation • Rights to publish Ester's Child owned by Windsor-Brooke Books, LLC.

Excerpts from Part 1

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