Worthy of Honor
By Laura Schiller
Based on: The Prince of Egypt
Copyright: Dreamworks Pictures
"Enjoying yourself?" asked Tzipporah, settling next to Moses by the fire.
He was so distracted by the way she glowed with the firelight and the heat of dancing, that he nearly forgot to answer.
"Hm? Oh, yes. Yes." He looked down ruefully at his hands, which still tingled from clapping along to the Midians' wild music. "I'm very grateful to Jethro for letting me stay here."
"Even though it's not exactly a palace?"
The wry tone of her voice made him turn back to face her again, half expecting a biting remark such as she had made at their first meeting. Instead she smiled playfully, tilting her head so that her beaded braids clicked together. He smiled back.
"Speaking of which … I believe I owe you an apology."
"Oh, that." She snorted. "Don't worry about it. I got my revenge, after all."
"I should explain … "
"What's to explain?"
He shifted a bit in the hollow his body had made in the sand, less for comfort and more out of nerves. He had already told her and Jethro the story of his parentage and the reasons for his flight from the palace, but this was the first time either of them had tried to mention their previous encounter.
"I suppose it's the way I was brought up. With my brother … with Rameses, every day, every conversation was a battle. We thrived on it. When one of us won and embarrassed the other, we'd just laugh it off. I should have realized … no matter how fierce and clever and – and challenging you were, I shouldn't have fought with you the way I used to fight with him. And for that, I'm sorry."
She raised an eyebrow at him in disbelief, reminding him of how she had looked when he'd let go of the rope binding her hands, propelling her into the pool.
"You're sorry for ignoring the fact that I wasn't your equal? Should I take that as an insult or a compliment?"
He blushed. It did sound rather idiotic when she put it that way.
"What I mean is … since that night, since I followed you and met my blood siblings, I've started seeing things differently. When you fell into that pool, it wasn't just one humiliation, was it? It was the latest in a line that was already much too long."
She nodded, with a grim twist to her mouth. He had the feeling that, if she ever ran into Hotep and Huy again, the high priests had better watch their backs.
"My - " He hesitated, but in spite of his new knowledge about his birth, there was really only one name he could call Queen Tuya. Thinking of the way she had turned away from him that night, her head bowed with disappointment, made his heart ache all over again.
"My mother taught me to respect all women, regardless of caste or color. I should have listened to her."
To his surprise (and pleasure), she reached out to touch his hand. The Midianites seemed to be a demonstrative people, if their dancing and Jethro's bear hugs were anything to go by, but Tzipporah's touch affected him as none of the others did. She had been beautiful in anger; now, meeting his eyes with calm understanding, she took his breath away.
"But you did," she said, "Remember? You saw me escape and didn't say a thing. You even followed me, didn't you? To make sure I left the city safely. Nice job distracting your guards, by the way," with the playful irony he was beginning to associate with her.
"I must have sounded like an idiot." They both laughed.
"Was your servant all right? We had quite the scuffle back there. Poor man, I don't blame him for following orders."
"He was all right. No harm done."
She sighed and leaned back on her hands, tipping her face up to the stars, as if freedom were a luxury she was still getting used to.
"By the way, er … what should we call you, now you're no longer a prince?"
"'Moses' will be fine."
"Thank you for helping me, Moses."
He was about to protest, once more, that he did not deserve thanks, but remembering Jethro's words on the subject stopped him. It seems you do not know what is worthy of honor. Apparently, the desert and its people were determined to challenge his way of thinking, so why not accept it? If this fascinating woman thought him worthy of her gratitude, who was he to deny her?