Lotán The Edomite

by Neph


Who is this who comes from Edom,
With garments of glowing colours from Bosra,
Majestic in his apparel,
Marching in the greatness of his strength? [Isaiah 63:1]

Respectfully dedicated
to the memory of RR
ob. February 21st 1980.

Sweat was pouring off the young boy's body. It made no difference whether he rode on one of the three camels in the caravan, or one of the two donkeys, or even in the shade of one of the three covered wagons, pulled by a sole and very recalcitrant mule. The heat was the same everywhere and the humidity was oppressive. What a country this was! It was luscious, but nevertheless, he would have preferred the even greater heat of his desert homeland, because at home there was little or no humidity, and that made the heat bearable, even enjoyable.

He peered out from under the awning of the wagon where he was sitting. The sun was westering at last, and soon would set. The heat would be less oppressive after dark, but the humidity would make it a very uncomfortable night. But it was not the humidity of the approaching night that made the boy apprehensive. He took a sidelong glance at the man sitting on the 'driving seat' of the wagon. The man was holding the reins in one hand, a whip in the other, and cursing the poor animal and whipping it furiously to get it to continue moving forward. The boy thought to himself that tonight, in the back of the wagon, he and Shovál would have yet another 'practice session'.

That year had been the second year of drought in a row. The boy's father had died unexpectedly, leaving the thirteen year old lad with an ailing mother and two sisters to support. When Shovál had made his offer, it had seemed too good to be true. Shovál, the merchant, would pay the boy's mother a handsome sum, enough to keep poverty away from them for many years, and in exchange he - Shovál - would take the boy in his next caravan to a country where the boy would be able to make his fortune and return home to look after his family. But two nights into the trek north, the lad had begun to understand how he was going to make his fortune.

There were two other men in the caravan, apart from Shovál, the leader, and himself. The lad did not know their names, nor did he want to. Likewise, they did not know his name or even care. They referred to him, when they acknowledged him at all, as Shovál's plaything. As night came on their first day out of Edom, Shovál had taken the lad into the back of the wagon. "Here's where you sleep, boy," he had said, "But before you kip down, I want to show you how you can make an enormous fortune for yourself." In the dark the boy could hear the wailing of desert hyenas. The night sky was pitch black except for the myriad stars. He huddled naked under his sole blanket, for it was very cold in the desert at night. That first night Shovál had just cuddled him and made him feel safe from the terrors of the desert night. But the second night, Shovál had begun to teach him how to make his fortune, and by that time there was no escape since they were in the middle of nowhere.

Ever since reaching puberty, the boy had known, sensed rather, that he was different from most of the other boys in the village. He had no real interest in the girls. But when all the boys jumped naked into the village pool, he could feel his erotic interest being aroused. Then it was not just his interest that was aroused, and he would have to make sure that he kept in the muddy end of the pool; and he would wrap himself quickly in his towel when the others scrambled out of the pool. The other boys would tease unmercifully any lad whose 'dagger' stuck out when it shouldn't. One of the older boys had told them all most solemnly that that only happens when you go with a girl. He spoke as if he knew. (In school, the little children learning their letters would always laugh at the seventh letter of the alphabet. If you squint at it and use the vivid imagination that children always have for such things, you can see a penis descending from between two testicles. The name of the letter, however, means 'a dagger', so the youngsters would call their penis their 'dagger'.) So, to begin with, Shovál's ministrations had not been unwelcome. At least the boy now understood that there were others in the wide world who were like him and they would doubtless help him make his fortune. First, Shovál pleasured him at night with his fingers, massaging his 'dagger' until, with an exquisite burst of awesome pleasure, milk had gushed out of it! Then Shovál had taught the boy how to do the same thing. The following night, they had progressed to mouths and Shovál had shown the lad how to bring the older man to orgasm with his mouth and tongue while carefully shielding his teeth. But last night, Shovál had tried to put his erect 'dagger' inside the boy who had almost screamed with pain. Even though Shovál had clamped his hand tightly over the boy's mouth, the lad could hear the sniggers of the other two men outside sitting by the fire. " ;Shovál's shoving it in tonight."

And now night was coming on fast. Not only would he almost suffocate from the mugginess of the night air in this godforsaken country but, even more fearfully, he knew that Shovál would persevere tonight until he had managed to complete what he had only half done the night before. They started off slowly. The boy loved it when Shovál caressed his naked body, gently gliding his hands over his skin, rousing him to respond with eagerness. When the time came for the boy to take Shovál's member in his mouth he delighted at its size, awesomely erect. He felt the man's hand cup his balls and he sucked even more ferociously, moving his lips up and down the tumid shaft. But then came the dread moment when that same engorged shaft was about to penetrate him. "Caus!" shouted the boy out loud, calling upon his god. Despite Shovál's constant exhortations to relax, he could not. He was terrified. At last Shovál gave an almighty shove. Simultaneously, Shovál gave a gasp of exultation and the boy screamed in terrible pain. "Relax!" Scream. "Relax!" Gasp. "Relax, damn you! It will hurt less if you relax." Slowly the pain receded and, as the man began his pelvic thrusts, the pain gave way to a shock of pleasure. Caus had rewarded his steadfastness and purgatory had become paradise. "Well done, lad," said Shovál as they lay in the afterglow. "From now on, each time you do it, it will hurt less and less until eventually it will not hurt at all. You are going to make many men very happy."

* * * * *

On the sixth day of their journey the caravan began to labour uphill. The weather changed and the humidity gave way to cool breezes. On the seventh day, early in the morning, the boy suddenly espied buildings perched on the top of an escarpment to their north. "What's that?" he asked.

"That's the city of Jerusalem," replied Shovál. "That's where we are heading."

"What is a city?" asked the boy.

"It's like a very large village, where people live in buildings instead of tents."

"Oh," said the boy. "I see."

"Come with me, lad, into the wagon," said Shovál, when they stopped for their midmorning break. The boy looked fearful. "No, son, it's not for that, not this time."

When they had clambered into the back of the wagon, Shovál rummaged into an old chest which sat in the far corner of the wagon, resting right up against the back of the 'driving seat'. "Take your clothes off," he said.

"Why?" responded the boy, apprehensively.

"Do as I say!"

Shovál pulled some clothing out of the chest. The boy stripped off his clothes. "Ay, lad," said Shovál, wetting his lips, "you really will break many, many hearts." Then he said, holding out what was in his hand, "Put these clothes on instead."

The boy dressed himself in the new clothes. They were very colourful, well pressed, clean and pleasantly scented. "Yes!" breathed Shovál. "You are most presentable. In fact, you are quite gorgeous. I shall be really sorry to see you go."

Around midday they entered the southern suburbs of the city. Shovál made the boy sit upright on the driving seat and pulled the awning right back so that they could be seen quite clearly. The boy was pleasurably aware that many a man's head turned in his direction. When they had arrived at what seemed like the centre of town, Shovál looked lost. He leaned out of the wagon and accosted a passerby in a language that the boy did not understand. "Hey! Where's the upper market?"

"Welcome, fellow countryman," replied the passerby. "I can tell by your accent that you have just arrived from Edom." The lad was delighted that the conversation now continued in Edomite. The man eyed the young boy eagerly. "Do you have quality goods to sell in the market?" he asked.

"As you can see with your own eyes," replied Shovál, with a lewd wink.

"Then you don't want the upper market, friend. Turn about and take the second turning on your left. At the bottom of the hill you will find the lower market. That is where you should be going."

Shovál turned the cart around with great difficulty in the narrow street, and the caravan headed down the cobbled street in the direction the man had indicated. As they proceeded, men started following them. Then, as they approached, the boy saw what must have been the market. He saw stalls full of produce. Men and women were selling everything that one could possibly imagine: food both cooked and raw, cloths, clothing, utensils ... and people! A man stood in one very prominent stall, shouting out something which was obviously his pitch. Next to him was a boy, also about thirteen or fourteen years old. Money was exchanged and the boy was handed over.

Suddenly, in panic, our lad realized what was going to happen to him. He was going to be sold into slavery and his new master was going to sell his body for ready money! Just then the mule stumbled over a large cobble stone, fell to its knees, and with its fall, pulled the wagon violently to one side. The lurch caused the front right wheel of the wagon to detach itself from the axle and the whole cart lurched sideways. From all sides people began running to the right of the cart to help both the stricken animal and the broken wagon. The boy did not lose his native wits. He jumped off the left hand side of the wagon and started running for dear life. He was well and truly lost in the maze of back streets in lower Jerusalem before Shovál even realized that he was gone; lost to him forever.

* * * * *

The boy ran as far and as fast as he could. He ran up hilly side streets and along wider thoroughfares. Of course, he had no idea where he was going. He was lost in a strange city. But even his eyes, unused to this city - indeed, unused to any city at all - noticed that as he raced further and further uphill the buildings on either side of the street seemed to get more and more grand. He noticed that people passing by stopped to look at this lad who was running up the city hills and then shrugged their shoulders. Suddenly, he heard a commotion behind him. He dared not look back, but quickly darted into a side street to his left. There he found himself panting breathlessly beside the entrance to an imposing building. He stepped back inside the entrance pillars and cautiously peered round in the direction of the street he had just left. The people who were running uphill charged straight past his side street. They were a contingent of soldiers, armed to the teeth! He shivered. Were they after him? Then his native wits quelled his fear: if they had been chasing after him he had successfully eluded them; if they were running after someone else so much the better. He was just about to step back into the street when he felt a firm hand take hold of the collar of his colourful gulta. "Gotcha, me lad!" exclaimed a voice triumphantly. The boy didn't need to understand the language in order to comprehend the meaning that the tone expressed. "You come along with me!" said the voice and, pushing him round and into the door, he was frog-marched into the entrance hall. The door was thrown to with a crash and bolted. "You stay here, me lad! Don't you dare move! D'ya hear?!"

At the sound of this commotion, people came running out of rooms to see what was going on, all shouting and gesticulating in a language that he could not understand. At first he was frightened, but then indignation got the better of him. He had done nothing wrong and here he was being treated like an apprehended thief or worse. Suddenly, out of a set of double doors to the right came a woman. She was beautifully dressed and her bearing was almost regal. Again, although he could not understand a word that was being said, the lad instinctively followed the conversation.

"What's going on, Samson?" she asked.

"I caught this boy about to sneak into the mansion, Ma'am."

A very well dressed man, who was also clearly a servant chimed in: "He was probably about to pilfer, Ma'am. Or, worse, possibly he was sent by the enemy to spy on us."

"I don't think so, Asdri'el," said the lady. "He seems too well-dressed to need to steal."

"He is dressed in a very gaudy manner, Ma'am, if you ask me," said Asdri'el, with his nose in the air.

"I did not ask you, Asdri'el, thank you," said the lady coldly. Then she turned to the boy: "What is your name?" The boy remained silent. "Again, I ask you, what is your name? You would be well advised to answer me; otherwise I shall call the authorities." Still no response.

Suddenly a young lad, about the same age as our Edomite fugitive, stepped from where he had been hidden behind the lady. "Mama, stop. Can't you see that he doesn't understand us? He's a foreigner. And if he doesn't understand," he added dryly in the direction of Asdri'el, "he can hardly be a spy."

The lady's son come forward and addressed the stranger. "Me - Yo-na-tan," he said very slowly, syllable by syllable at the same time pointing his own finger at his chest. Then he repeated it: "Me - Yonatan," solemnly pointing to himself. Then he made an enquiring gesture with both hands and, deliberately pointing at the stranger, asked "You?" The boy understood. "Lotán," he said, and then repeated with a smile that lit up his whole face, "Lotán". Yonatan turned to his mother: "He says his name is Lotán, Mama."

"Lotán," said Mama. "Lotán ... isn't that an Edomite name?"

"Yes, Ma'am," said Asdri'el. "It is a common Edomite name." Again, his nose went up with a sniff as he said 'common'.

"Samson," said young Yonatan, "don't we have a gardener who came from Edom? Would you please find that gardener and bring him here?" He turned to his mother: "The gardener could act as an interpreter, Mama."

"That's a very good idea, Yannai. Yes, Asdri'el, please see that Samson fetches the gardener." (Samson was too lowly in estate to be addressed directly by this regal lady.)

Samson went off on his search. Since at the moment any conversation was impossible because of the language barrier, there was a period of silent waiting during which both boys stood rooted to the spot just looking at each other. Yonatan saw a boy about his own age, but shorter. Lotán was swarthy, skin darkened by the desert sun. His hair was short and wiry, his mouth nicely proportioned. But what captured Yonatan's attention most of all were Lotán's eyes. They were a startling blue, a colour which stood out against the background of his dark skin. Of Lotán's body he could see nothing since he was swathed from his neck almost to his ankles in a gulta made of brightly coloured vertical stripes - red, green, yellow, blue, brown - verily, a coat of many colours.

Lotán saw a boy about his own age, but much taller. There was only one word which could describe Yonatan adequately: he was beautiful. His hair was a golden colour, swept back from his high forehead, and hanging down almost as far as his shoulders, where it curled up slightly towards his neck. His face was perfectly proportioned, eyebrows arching above hazel-coloured eyes, a straight almost Roman nose, and smouldering lips that were begging to be kissed. Lotán felt weak at the knees. Yo-na-tan was like no boy that he had ever seen before. He was wearing a wrap-around kilt that reached down to mid-thigh. Around his neck was a golden collar, and on each wrist he wore a thick golden band; but his chest and arms were bare. On his feet he wore a pair of thong sandals. His hairless skin was olive-coloured. His legs were sturdy and above his knees a fine pair of thighs disappeared into the kilt. Lotán realized that he desperately wanted to see what was under that kilt.

Meanwhile Samson had arrived back, dragging in his wake the reluctant gardener, who was certain that he was to be hauled over the coals, or worse, for some misdemeanour that he had not committed. He relaxed visibly when he began to understand that his services were required as an interpreter. "Asdri'el, bring the gardener and the boy, Lotán, into my sitting room. Yannai, you can come too if you wish. The rest of you, back to your work." With that she swept back into the room from which she had come.

Asdri'el shepherded Lotán into a truly spacious room with a colonnaded portico at the far end opening onto a beautiful garden. In the centre of the room was a large wooden desk, beautifully carved, and behind it a spacious stool. The lady sat herself down at her desk. The gardener stood transfixed. Yonatan had casually followed them into the room. He picked up a stool and put it down next to another stool. He sat down upon one of them and with a clear gesture of invitation motioned to Lotán to take the other stool next to him.

Asdri'el was astounded. "Stand up, boy, in the presence of the lady Salomé Alexandra!"

"It's all right, Asdri'el," said Salomé Alexandra; "Yonatan asked him to sit down and surely it will be easier for him to answer my questions when he is relaxed."

"As you please, Ma'am," said Asdri'el, clearly disapproving.

"Tell the gardener to ask the boy to tell his story: where does he come from and how did he come to be on the doorstep of my house? Let him withhold nothing." The lady Alexandra sat back on her stool waiting patiently while the gardener asked the questions and reported back the answers.

Lotán fluently related his background and how he came to be a member of Shovál's caravan. When he began to describe his relationship with Shovál, the gardener began to splutter and stumble over his words. Lotán was startled, but Yonatan put his arm across Lotán's shoulders and said softly "It's all right." Lotán didn't understand the words, but he understood the message: here was a friend. As Lotán continued his story, he noticed that Yonatan did not remove his arm, and Lotán liked the feeling very much. Gradually his story came to its conclusion.

"What an amazing story," said the lady Salomé Alexandra. "What am I to do with the lad now? With the... umm... liberal education that he has been given, I am not at all sure that he should stay here."

"Mama," interrupted Yonatan, "he is clearly not responsible for what happened to him, and he has nowhere else to go. If you force him to leave, he will probably end up being some rich man's fancy boy. That's all he knows"

"Jonathan Aristobulos, how dare you say such things in my presence! I won't have such language in my house!"

"It's just the simple truth, Mama," said Yonatan, undaunted. "And you know it is. We can't put him out onto the streets, can we?"

"I suppose not," responded his mother, doubtfully. "But what could he do here?"

"He could be my friend, Mama."

"What? It's out of the question!"

"Mama, he's my age and he looks intelligent. I am alone all day every day because you are so worried about my safety. I am bored to tears. Why can't I have a companion who will share my day? He needn't be any trouble. He can sleep in my room and share my food."

"But, Yannai, you can't even talk with him. He doesn't speak a word of Hebrew or Greek. How can he be a friend to you?"

"I shall teach him, Mama. Don't make problems where there aren't any."

Even while not understanding a word of this altercation, Lotán could sense that Yonatan was completely in control of the situation: he was used to giving orders and having them obeyed. Even his mother deferred to him to a certain extent.

"Very well," said the lady Salomé Alexandra with a resigned sigh. Clearly she was used to giving way to the whims of her strong-willed son. "Asdri'el, Lotán will join our household and will be ... er ... treated as the friend of Jonathan Aristobulos."

"Yes, ma'am," said Asdri'el, clearly disapproving.

"See to it that he gets a proper set of clothes and gets cleaned up before dinner."

"Yes, ma'am," said Asdri'el, dourly.

"O, thank you, mother," exclaimed Yannai, running as hugging his mother as she rose from her desk. "I knew you would not deny me this boon."

"I could never deny you anything, my darling Yannai," sighed his mother. She held out her hand towards Lotán. Lotán came forward and shook her hand as he had seen Shovál do with other men many a time and oft. Asdri'el suck in his breath in shock. Yannai stepped forward and tapped Lotán on the shoulder. "Watch," he said, and he bent his head over his mother's outstretched hand and kissed it gently. "Now you," he said, with a clear gesture. Lotán understood and kissed the lady's hand.

"Come on, Lotán," said Yannai, taking his new and very bemused friend by the hand and dragging him away. "Let's get out of here and go to my room!"

* * * * *

Yannai's room was more of an apartment or suite than a room. It consisted of several spacious alcoves surrounding a large main room. One of the alcoves was clearly a study or miniature schoolroom; adjacent to it another had a table and stools for sitting on, clearly a dining area. On the other side of the room, a third alcove housed a bathing pool and next to it another alcove had a pallet on the floor with a blanket neatly folded at its foot, clearly a sleeping area. At the far end of the room was a porticoed veranda that looked out over the magnificent garden.

As Yannai entered his apartment a huge puppy bounded towards them, jumping up and down with his front legs tearing gently at Yannai's knees, his tail wagging furiously in sheer delight. Yannai laughed. "Hello, Caleb," he said, scratching the huge puppy under the ears. "No, sorry old chap, I haven't brought you anything to eat. Wait until dinner." The puppy subsided and went to lie down in his basket.

"I call him Caleb because he's a dog. Not very original is it?" Yannai laughed. The blank stare he got as response reminded him that they did not have a common language. "Caleb," said Yannai to Lotán, "because he's a Kelev." Light dawned in Lotán's eyes and he smiled. "Ah, Keleb!"

Suddenly, both he and Yannai understood that communication was not going to be so difficult after all as Hebrew and Edomite were related languages. If you knew the one, you should soon be able to pick up the other. Yannai started pointing to objects around the apartment saying them clearly in Hebrew, then looking expectantly at Lotán who gave the Edomite equivalent. More than half the words sounded quite similar. Soon the two youngsters were laughing together as if they had known each other for years. While they were playing around, Asdri'el appeared in the open doorway with Samson just behind him.

"Master Jonathan," he said imperiously, "Samson has brought bedding and clothing for ... er Lotán."

"Master Lotán," corrected Yannai. "Bring them in Samson, there's a good chap. Dump the pallet down next to mine and leave the clothes on a dining stool. Thank you so much. You're a good fellow."

Samson placed the pallet on the floor in the sleeping alcove next to the one that was already there. Then he dropped some clothes on a stool in the dining alcove. Lastly, with much bowing and scraping, he ungraciously backed out of the apartment.

Asdri'el turned to go, but Yannai called after him. "Asdri'el!"

"Yes, Master Jonathan."

"I think I'll bathe before dinner. Will you send someone up with hot water in an hour or so, please?"

"Certainly, Master Jonathan," Asdri'el replied, as he left the suite.

As soon as Asdri'el left Yannai ran over to his sleeping cubicle. At the back, against the wall, was a small chest. He opened the lid and rummaged inside for a moment, then he pulled out a ball, held it high in feigned triumph and shouted "Found it! Come on!" With that he ran onto the veranda, vaulted over the low balustrade into the garden and turned round to check that Lotán was following him. Lotán had rushed onto the veranda to see what had happened. Yannai stood below in the garden, grinning from ear to ear, and throwing the ball into the air and catching it several times. Lotán got the message. Not to be outdone, he hitched up his gulta almost to his knees and leaped over the balustrade. The two boys spent the next hour running around the garden, playing tag and throwing the ball to each other. Aroused by the excited noises coming from the garden, Caleb joined the boys with a leap. They took it in turns to throw the ball for Caleb to fetch, which he did tirelessly time after time, his tail wagging for dear life and his tongue hanging out for air.

The boys did not notice that from a large window further along the mansion Yannai's mother was watching the two boys at their play. She smiled to herself: that Edomite boy - what was his name again? - had come at a good time. Yannai needed a friend and a complete stranger who did not understand the language could be trusted. When they looked up and saw her, she waved back at them, delighted at seeing two young boys being just that: boys and a dog enjoying themselves.

As the sun began to set and darkness to set in, Yannai led the way back into his suite. He sat down next to his pallet and Caleb joined him there, as if out of habit. Yannai indicated that Lotán should join them. Caleb turned over on his back so that Yannai could stroke his tummy. After a while Yannai stopped. "That's enough, Caleb. I can't massage your tummy all the time." Caleb stood up, and then padded over to where Lotán was sitting, lay down on his back and waited for Lotán to stroke his tummy.

"That's amazing!" cried Yannai. "He would only do that if he knew that you were a person who could be loved." Lotán, of course, did not understand the words, but he understood the meaning, and he nodded happily as he stroked the dog's tummy.

Soon two house servants appeared carrying a large tub full of steaming water. They set it down next to the cold water pool in its alcove and left.

"Bath," said Yannai, pointing to it. "Bath," repeated Lotán carefully. Yet another word learned! Yannai removed the bands from his wrists and unclasped the collar from his neck. Then, with a nonchalant air, cast off his kilt and jumped into the hot water and started his ablutions.

Lotán was startled - and curious. This boy Yannai was a demi-god. He was absolutely breathtaking. Lotán was glad that his gulta was hiding the acute excitement of his 'dagger'. He just stood there transfixed, taking in the extreme beauty of the boy in the bath. Suddenly, Yannai stood up and hurled himself into the cold water pool, laughing as he shivered. Sitting down in the pool, he gestured to the hot water bath: "Your turn now." Lotán understood the gesture, but was hesitant. Yannai, good-naturedly looked the other way as Lotán pulled his gulta over his head and climbed into the bath as quickly as he could. He had seen how Yannai had washed himself and he did the same. This was so different from the village pool! Finally, after Lotán had washed himself again and again, Yannai beckoned to him and gestured that he should join him in the cold-water pool.

Lotán stood up in the bath, his 'dagger' drawn, and stepped into the pool opposite Yannai. But this pool was nothing like the natural pool in the village: horror or horrors, there was no muddy end!

Suddenly Yannai stood up and gestured to Lotán to do the same. He pointed to Lotán's erect penis and then pointed to his own, no less erect. Both boys laughed.

Yannai climbed out of the pool, gestured for Lotán to follow, threw a towel around his own neck, another around Lotán's and showed him how to dry himself. When Lotán was about to retrieve his gulta, Yannai motioned "No!" He drew his new friend towards the stool on which Samson had left a clean set of clothes and helped Lotán dress himself in a fresh kilt.

Very soon after this, Samson re-appeared in the doorway. "Asdri'el begs to inform the young master that dinner is ready to be served," he said, touching his forelock.

"Thank you very much, Samson. I think we would prefer to take our dinner up here. Could you please arrange that for us?"

"Yes, young master. Immediately, young master."

A few minutes later, some servants arrived carrying trays of food which they arranged on the dining table and left with bows and scrapes.

Yannai gestured towards the table and indicated that Lotán was invited to sit on one of the stools and join him for the evening meal. Yannai, always thoughtful and considerate, had realized that Lotán would not have what were considered to be the best of table manners in Jerusalem's high society, so he took the opportunity of the private meal to show Lotán how to eat his food. Watching carefully, and with a very patient teacher, Lotán learned quickly.

After dinner, Yannai showed Lotán the other precious things that he had in his chest: toys from childhood that he couldn't bring himself to discard, a bow and arrows, his collection of coloured stones - and much more that was crammed into the chest.

Then it was time for bed. With an exaggerated yawn, Yannai gave Lotán to understand that the time had come to sleep. He gestured towards the two pallets on the floor of the sleeping alcove. He pulled off his clothes and lay down on his pallet. Lotán did the same, threw himself onto the other pallet and faced away from Yannai. Yannai put his arm around Lotán's shoulder and whispered "Good night, Lotán." Lotán did not understand the words, but he understood the sentiment. This was the first time since childhood that anyone had wished him good night. Also, it was the first time since he had left his village that there was no 'practicing'. It was, indeed, a good night.

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