Her name is Hadassah bat Abraham v'Sarah.
As a child, she lived in Mesopotamia's house. He called her Esther, and sometimes Essie when he was in an especially good mood.
Everyone else called her Israel…
Israel looked up from the clay tops that she and Euphrates had been playing with, her long hair sliding down over her eyes. She swept the dark strands away, blinking up at the tall, tan-skinned man standing in the doorway of the tent.
"Good afternoon, Father Mesopotamia," she said politely.
Mesopotamia smiled at his daughter and held out a hand.
"Come," he said. "Ancient Egypt is here to see you."
Israel smiled and stood up, brushing off her plain white dress.
"We'll play later, okay?" she said to Euphrates, who frowned.
"But I'm winning!" the young river whined.
Mesopotamia turned to the other side of the tent, where Euphrates's sister was sitting, reading a book.
"Tigris," he said. "Why don't you play with Euphrates for now."
"Yes, Father Mesopotamia," said Tigris, closing the book.
Israel walked up to Mesopotamia and took his hand, and they exited the tent together. Outside, the midday sun shone brightly on the mostly sandy ground, but their eyes were well used to the glare. There were worse places with far worse weather than the Fertile Crescent this time of year, after all.
Mesopotamia's house was a complex of small tents around one larger one. As they passed the other tents, another little girl, with browner skin and wearing a light blue dress, stepped out.
"Father," she called.
Mesopotamia's smile widened.
"I will be with you in a moment, Sumeria," he said.
Mesopotamia led Israel into another tent, but he did not go in. Israel smiled at him and then ducked through the door flap.
Inside sat a beautiful woman, wearing a long, flowing silver dress and many golden decorations upon her head, arms, and neck. Her black hair was tied back into many skinny braids.
Israel smiled. "Good afternoon, Ancient Egypt."
Ancient Egypt smiled. "Always so polite," she teased. "Come, child, sit."
Israel sat at the woman's feet, next to the bowl of water that had been provided for the guest to wash her feet in, as was customary in this part of the world.
"What brings you to Father Mesopotamia's house, Ancient Egypt?" Israel asked.
The kingdom paused for a while before answering, her dark eyes studying Israel's wide and equally dark ones.
"Tell me, Israel," she finally said. "Are you happy here, with Mesopotamia?"
"Am I happy?" Israel repeated, her eyes wide. "What do you mean? I have always lived with Father Mesopotamia."
"I know that, child, but think about it. Do you really like living here?"
Israel thought. It wasn't something that she had ever considered before.
"It's nice enough," she said. "Father Mesopotamia is very kind to me, and he makes good food. And I have Tigris, Euphrates, and Sumaria to play with. But…"
She hesitated, looking down at her hands, and Ancient Egypt waited patiently for her to continue.
"May I show you something, Ancient Egypt?" Israel asked, looking back up at the kingdom again. "It's something new since the last time you came to visit."
"Of course, child." Ancient Egypt rose from her seat, and they went back out of the tent. Israel led her past the other tents, to a place where the land dropped into a gentle slope. The little girl pointed down into the valley.
"Sumeria asked Father Mesopotamia to build that," she said.
Down in the valley was a half-finished building, which looked to Ancient Egypt as though it would become a very ornate temple when it was completed.
"It is a temple," Israel confirmed. "When it is finished, we will live in there instead of in the tents. Sumeria wants that to happen, and Father Mesopotamia does whatever she wants, because she's his favorite."
Israel gasped and clapped her hands over her mouth.
"I did not mean to say that…" she mumbled through her fingers.
"But did you mean it?" Ancient Egypt asked.
Israel hesitated, but then nodded, slowly lowering her hands.
"I do not want to live in a Sumerian temple," she whispered. "I do not want to worship Sumeria's gods."
Ancient Egypt nodded slowly.
"I have an offer for you, Israel," she said. "Come with me. Live in my palace. I have a son, a little boy that you can play with. You will eat good food, and you will never, never have to worship Sumeria's gods. You may do as you please while you are in my palace."
Israel looked up at Ancient Egypt with her wide, dark eyes.
"You would let me live in your palace?" she said.
"You would be treated as a true Egyptian princess," Ancient Egypt promised. "I like you, Israel. You are a good little girl. You deserve better than this."
Israel thought. Leave Mesopotamia? She was happy here…but could she be happier?
Yes, I could.
"I will go with you, Ancient Egypt," Israel said.
Ancient Egypt smiled and held out a hand, which Israel eagerly took in her own.
Israel went to live in Ancient Egypt's palace, which was as wonderful as it had been described to her. She lived happily there for a long time, until one day when Ancient Egypt was summoned by her boss…
"You wanted to see me, my lord?" Ancient Egypt said, bowing slightly before the throne.
"Yes," said her boss, tapping his scepter against his leg. "We must discuss the way that you are running your kingdom, Ancient Egypt. We have the potential to grow into a mighty empire, if not for a few minor details."
"What details, my lord?" the woman asked, a bit wary.
"First of all, there's that little nationling that you have running around your palace. The one from Mesopotamia."
"Israel, my lord?" said Ancient Egypt. "What about her?"
"She is not Egyptian," said her boss. "She is little now, but given time she could become very powerful. She may turn against us. You must take action against that immediately."
"But, my lord," Ancient Egypt protested. "With all due respect, I do not believe that we have anything to fear from Israel. She is kind and smart, and very cute, I might add."
"So is the jackal pup, before it grows."
Ancient Egypt hesitated, then bowed again.
"It shall be as you say, my lord," she said.
"Good," said her boss. "You have my leave to go."
Ancient Egypt rose and left the throne room, approaching the guards who stood by the door.
"Bring Israel to my rooms," she said. "And do not bother being gentle with her. She is, as of today, no longer a princess."
The kingdom went ahead to her living quarters, where she stood in front of the window, looking out at her city.
"We could grow into a mighty empire," she whispered. "We could grow…"
There was the sound of a scuffle near the door, and Israel cried out as the guards shoved her to the floor inside Ancient Egypt's bedroom.
"Ancient Egypt!" Israel cried. "Ancient Egypt, what is going on?"
"Silence, slave," Ancient Egypt snapped, turning around to face the little girl. Israel gasped at the fire in the kingdom's eyes. She searched desperately for a hint of the kind, motherly woman that she had known Ancient Egypt to be, but she found none.
"You shall work from now on," the kingdom coldly said. "There shall be no more lazing about. You will start by fetching water for my bath, right now."
Israel nodded, tears springing to her eyes.
"Y-Yes, Ancient Egy—"
"You shall not speak in my presence unless granted permission to do so," Ancient Egypt ordered. "Now go fetch water. Do not make me wait."
Israel got to her feet, her tears falling freely down her cheeks as she ran out of the room.
To be continued…