32

A House Built Onto His Fatherís House

Malchus, wanting to begin building his house right away, took some time off from his yeoman tasks to meet with his father and go over the plans. "Father," Malchus said, "can we begin adding my house plans to the plans for your house?"

"Yes, I think we could begin right now." Justin walked to his wooden chest and pulled out a piece of parchment and unrolled it onto the table. "The front of our house faces the east and will overlook the ocean in the distance. The room on the front is the living area, the one on the back is the bedroom, and in the middle is the kitchen."

"How wide is your house?"

"My plan is for it to be ten feet wide so I can use readily available roof beams."

"I see you have a door and window on the front and a door, a window, and an entrance to a wine cellar on the back of the house. The long walls that carry the load of the roof have no openings, isn't that right?"

"Yes, my plan is for the walls to be made of stone set with mortar to carry the weight of the roof."

"That will really make solid walls. But what about the kitchen? Shouldn't there be a chimney for the cooking area?"

"Actually, I had planned for the chimney, but I havenít added it to the drawing. The two houses could share a common chimney with two separate fireplaces, if you wish."

"That is a good idea. What about the roof? What material were you considering using?" asked Malchus.

"The ten foot timbers spanning the roof will be cedar imported from Lebanon. Your Rachel will be pleased, because Lebanon cedar is a favorite of the people of Judea. The final covering of the roof will be imported clay tiles. Now how is it that you intend to add on a place for you and Rachel?"

"Your north wall would become the south wall of my house. My north wall would be of stone like yours to carry the load of the roof."

Justin said, "It sounds like a good plan to me. How about drawing in the outline of your house on the parchment beside mine? That way we can begin to get started."

And so, father and son began to redesign the plans to include the layout of both houses. Every minute detail was taken into consideration, such as where the fireplace in the kitchen would be located and where the tables, chairs, bed, and living room furniture would be arranged in each of the rooms. Eventually, the plans were completed, and Justin asked Flavius for the names of stonemasons and carpenters who could be hired to help with the construction.

A week later, the masons were ready to begin. A couple of expert masons had been located, and most of the stones that they needed for the walls had already been gathered together. It was Justin who first began to oversee the construction, as Malchus was in the process of training his assistant, Eli, to take over some of his yeoman responsibilities.

Justin directed that the center wall of the combined houses be completed first. Once it was in place, Malchus was ready to step in and begin overseeing the raising of the wall on the north side, while Justin continued with the construction of his house on the south side.

Slowly but surely the walls went up, stone by stone. The days grew shorter and the temperatures cooler as the men continued to work from sunrise until sunset. The days had begun to lengthen by the time the walls were finished, and it was time to put the roof in place. The masons collected their pay, and the carpenters arrived. Saws could be heard cutting the cedar beams in the early morning. Later, the carpenters were laying the long timbers between the walls. Next, the crossties were placed perpendicular to the beams at a spacing that was small enough to hold the tile.

By the time the carpenters finished the roof, spring had come, and the construction of the outside of the house was complete. Malchus began to get excited, knowing that the day that he could claim Rachel as his bride was fast approaching. Anxious to know exactly when that might be, he decided to broach the subject with his father. "Father, how many more weeks until the house will be ready?" he said rather calmly, trying to downplay his excitement.

Sensing his son's anticipation, Justin wisely answered, "You will know the time has come when I tell you the time has come."

"But it seems to be taking so long, and we have already waited long enough," replied Malchus. "I think the place is about ready!"

"Now, son, that is precisely the problem. You are so anxious to get on with this wedding that the most important of details could be overlooked or hastily completed. We haven't even begun to finish the inside of the house."

A bit deflated, Malchus answered, "I suppose you're right, Father. I guess I'm getting a bit ahead of myself."

"You just continue to work as you have been, thinking of your bride and preparing a place for her to live out her days that will make her feel special. Before you know it, the day will have arrived, and everything will be ready."

"Can I let Rachel know that the time is getting closer, so that she can get her dowry together?"

"You could tell her that the time is near. That way, it will give her enough time to make whatever preparations are necessary to turn a house into a home."

That very night, Malchus told Rachel that the day was near and that she should get ready. Upon hearing the news, Rachel gave Malchus a kiss on both cheeks, then ran into the other room to tell her mother. Immediately, the three of them sat down and began to make a list of all that would be needed between now and then. The list grew quickly, and Rachel became concerned about whether she would have enough in her dowry to cover all of the costs.

It was then that Ruth told her of the money she had kept hidden away all these years. Rachelís father had set it aside especially for her wedding. Rachel, touched by the thought of her fatherís love, rolled up the scroll on which they had been recording items and decided to call it a night. Rachel gave Ruth a kiss on both cheeks, and Ruth passed on the favor to Malchus, who then left to get a good nightís sleep.

The following weeks were full of activity as Rachel and Ruth visited the shops along the walkway near the pier where the small boats landed. Ships coming to Patmos from around the Mediterranean filled the shops with practical items such as kettles and pottery, as well as finely crafted furniture.

By this time, Malchus was ready to show Rachel the house. The floor tile had now been laid and the finishing touches around the windows, doors, and fireplace were complete. Excited to see where they would be living, Rachel agreed to close her eyes when Malchus turned the corner in the road at the bottom of the hillside that led up to their house. Once inside, she opened her eyes. She was more surprised than he had ever expected. She immediately fell in love with their new home and even twirled around a few times as he was giving her the first grand tour.

The very next day, Justin and Malchus began to move in the furnishings that Rachel had purchased. A beautiful blend of the Roman and Jewish cultures seemed to be emerging in the selections that she had made. Ruth and Rachel busied themselves arranging everything.

Just as Rachel and her mother were busy, so was Brigitte. Even though Brigitte already had most of what she needed to make her house feel like home, she did buy a few new items to add a touch of island flavor. In between her preparations, she pulled out the cover for Malchusí bed that she had woven in Barcino when he was absent. She had put it away when it had been finished because the memory of Malchus would sometimes overwhelm her to the point that she could no longer look at it. Now all of those thoughts seemed like such a long time ago. Fortunately, things had turned out for the better, and instead of losing a son, she was now gaining a daughter. "Sometimes when given enough time," she thought to herself, "life has a way of working itself out."

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