By Mary Vee
He ran toward the tree, hoping it wasn't another mirage. "Water, there is water!" Moses heaved the bucket from the water. Drops fell back down into the hole. He pulled the bucket near and plunged his face into the water. Cool tingled his scalp.
He raised his head to get a breath. To his left a group of girls lead a flock toward the well. Moses gulped some water then sat under the tree. The girls looked at him and whispered. The youngest cowered back. "Maybe he has a disease."
Moses glanced at his clothing. I don't look that bad, do I? Maybe I smell a little pungent, but... He kept his distance to not frighten the girls. Once they leave, I'll drink some more.
The girls took turns filling the trough with water for their flock. As they led their animals to drink, a group of shepherds arrived. "Get out of the way. Our sheep are more important than your mangy flock."
The girl's gathered together and whispered. The lead shepherd stepped closer. "If you don't get your flock out of the way, you'll be sorry. Now move on."
The girls called to their sheep and took a few steps away from the trough. Moses stood. "Look here. These girls came first--"
The lead shepherd turned to Moses. He furrowed his brows. "What did you say? Are you defending these girls?"
Moses cocked his head. Who do these guys think they are? I've dealt with meaner men back in Egypt.
"Yes. I am defending them. Now if you'll step back and let them--"
"I'm warning you, Stranger, stay out of this."
Moses rolled his eyes. He stepped back toward the shepherds camels. The shepherds moved their flock forward toward the filled trough. While they were distracted, Moses untied their camels. "Hut, hut." With those words, the camels ran away.
"What did you do? Those were our camels!" The shepherds ran after their camels. As they ran away, their sheep roamed away from the well.
Moses laughed. He called out to the girls. "Hey, you can come back to the well. They'll chase those camels for the rest of the afternoon."
The girls turned and smiled. "You saved us. Thank you." They led their flock back to the trough. "Where do you come from?"
Moses heaved the bucket from the well and poured water into the trough. "A land far away to find a new home. I hope those shepherds didn't frighten you."
The oldest sister smiled. "Well, in a way they did. But everything is fine now."
Moses and the girls talked until all their flock finished drinking. They gathered their belongings and called the sheep to follow. The oldest turned to Moses. "Will we see you again?"
"Perhaps." He sat under the tree to rest and watched the girls leave.