Abigail had always been a beauty right from childhood and she had grown up fast to be an elegant, charming and intelligent young woman. Being the only daughter, her marriage meant a lot. She had had her fair share of crushes, hopes and dreams of Mr. Perfect.
One day, her parents called her for a special discussion.
“Aby, things have not been going so well on the farm.”
They had lost livestock to thieves but mainly to the strange disease sweeping through the farms. Many of the servants had escaped and the ones left had little zeal to work. It seemed they were just waiting for the last straw to break the camel’s back.
“We need your help Aby. We need you to marry Nabal.”
A familiar anger crept over Abigail as she remembered the puffy, beet red face of the man. Even if she could get past his face, devoid of any handsomeness, she was not sure she could live with his character. Nabal was known for his mean attitude, hot temper and foul behavior towards any and everyone.
“But papa, what about Jacob? Or even Zachariah? They are young and of better repute than…him. And they are rich too even if not as…”.
“We know. We know how much you desire a perfect love. But we are at our wits end and we really do need Nabal’s help. He already offered lots of livestock and servants once you are married to him.”
Abigail was about to protest again. But she noticed the strain evident on the faces of her parents, she could see the near doom that would overwhelm the family if she refused. She really had no choice.
The wedding was large. Everyone wanted to know who finally saw the ‘good’ in Nabal enough to marry him. Many of Aby’s friends knew there was no love in the arrangement but they knew better than to talk about it to her face. The tears that fell from Aby’s eyes were hot and uncontrollable but she managed to smile through them as she was led to Nabal’s house.
She was determined to pursue her own happiness now that that of her family was settled. Nabal had been lavish in his bride price for her. Her parents farm was back in shape, better than before and with more servants. Abigail got down to shapening up her husband’s house and making the house ready for children.
Months turned into years. No pregnancy. No child. Nabal had brought up the issue many times…always ending with Abigail in tears.
“You are just useless to me! How could I have paid so much for an empty barrel of a woman? Are you even sure you aren’t a man?”
He became more aggressive and lost in alcohol, spending more time outside the house than in. Most of the decisions for the farm were being made by Abigail. The servants had come to trust her and also sympathise with her over her bad luck… Nabal.
“Ma’am, please may I speak with you?”
“Of course Sebiah. You look worried…”
“Yesterday was horrible. You do remember master David?”
Her heart fluttered at the mention of his name. Now, that was one man any woman would desire.
“Yes, how is he?”
“Well, he is probably so vexed right now. He sent some of his men to greet our master yesterday while you were out. Last year, these men took care of us and the livestock when we were out on the field, close to them. They protected us. Even taught us tricks in controlling livestock. If I were the owner of the livestock, I would have rewarded them even while we were out there. But who am I?”
“So, did my husband give them anything?”
“Oh yes. He gave them packaged insults to be delivered to master David”.
Abigail was angry. She ordered some of the servants to load foodstuff and wine and some dried meat. She was not sure David would accept the gifts and her apology. But she would try, again, to save the house from one of Nabal’s blunders.
The other servants waited behind with their hearts in their mouth. They had never been taught how to fight. Nabal was often too drunk to differentiate his sword from a stick. If David and his men descended on them, they were all dead. Dead. Just because their master decided to be foolish just as his name implies. Fool. Fool. Fool.
“Where is my husband?”
Everyone had shouted for joy when Abigail came back, evidence that she had placated David. But no one was ready to volunteer the expected answer to her question. She was in tears already. There was no point telling her that Nabal was last seen clutching a bottle and making a fool of himself on the street.
That night, Nabal came into their bed and tried to touch her. She turned her back away from him and the alcohol stench that clung to him like leprosy. He just laughed and fell asleep, snoring all through the night. Abigail waited for the morning, ready to dish her anger out on him.
“Nabal, you are a fool. You have always been one. You were so close to death and being responsible for the death of innocent lives. But did you know? Of course not! David is much more honorable than you could ever imagine to be.”
She kept talking, letting loose the pent up negative emotions of years as his wife. She did not notice his gasping for breath, profuse sweating and the way he clutched at his chest.
By the time she turned her teary eyes to face the man she had married, he was stone dead.
Some weeks later, a message from David arrived, “Marry me”.