Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mistaken Identity

She wondered if he noticed she was trembling, but then, if he did, he would have no idea why. There were so many reasons that a bride might tremble on her wedding day: shyness, eagerness, the stress of the occasion; in fact it was probably almost normal. The fact that she was afraid of being found out would not even enter the bridegroom’s mind. Why should it? That, after all, was the whole point of the deception.

She couldn’t remember when the idea had first been raised – it certainly felt like it had been looming over her forever! She, and her sister, had certainly been aware of it for a year or two; how much longer her father had been plotting and turning the idea over in his mind was something she could only guess. But then her father was always a schemer and his daughters, even his beloved Rachel, were only pawns in his game, his perpetual game of self-enlargement. And this time he really felt he was pulling off a master-stroke – the fact that he could well be ruining both his daughters’ lives meant nothing compared to that!

She also knew that her sister would never forgive her for getting Jacob first, for having that wedding night of blissful consummation before he learned the horrible truth. And who knew how he would react then, or if, in his fury at being tricked he would then spurn Rachel and leave them forever? Anything was possible. Rachel needed someone to be angry with, and it was much easier to be angry with the plain sister nobody cared for than to express her anger at her father and arouse his wrath. She couldn’t see, as Leah saw so clearly, that it was their Father who was betraying them both.  In her eyes Leah was the traitor who was stealing her Jacob, who had fixed his heart on Rachel at first meeting, seven years ago, and never wavered since. Who knew what years of misery would come from this one night’s deed?

And yet, even while Leah felt helplessly trapped between two strong men, she blamed herself as well, because she had a secret which her father had never thought of, but which her sister suspected with all the heightened suspicion of her jealous heart. For she too loved Jacob – fine, strong, clever, handsome, God-fearing Jacob – the man who never looked her way and barely knew she existed. With all the fervour of an unwanted, unloved woman, she yearned for him. And she knew, with the harsh self-knowledge of the rejected, that no one would ever want her for her own sake. To her father she was a useless bargaining chip (at least until he came up with this scheme in which she could be used to double her sister’s value), to her sister she was either to be despised or suspected. Motherhood was her only chance to gain any value in the world. A woman who bore strong sons was worth something. And her only hope of motherhood lay in going through this ceremony of deception and pray that, in his eagerness, Jacob would continue to mistake her for her sister for just a few more hours. Was it any wonder she trembled?

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