A son's duty to his father, given to him by God, is to marry and produce children so that his father's blood is carried on into the next generation.
A son's duty to his sisters, given to him by God, is to protect their virtue and to protect them from harm.
A son's duty to his hearth, given to him by God, is to stand at the threshold and guard it from the thieves and the brigands who would despoil his home.
And first, above all, a son's duty to God is to always walk with God in his heart and to teach his children to do the same.
In a time and place where his wrongness would lead to him being stoned or burned unto his death, Ezekiel found a way to fulfil all of his duties as given to be him by God, and yet still be true to himself.
This is the story of Ezekiel's Victory.
This story is set within a Puritan-like community. I take no responsibility for historical inaccuracies. There are frequent references to God and praying. This story contains references to sexual activity (see tags) – my descriptions of sex is generally minimalist – sometimes to the point of being Biblical. This is quite a dark piece in places and some may find aspects distressing. All I can say is that if you find it so, please keep in mind the title.
Constance wept as she gazed down at the babe in her arms. Hope fed contentedly from her breast, oblivious of the river of tears baptizing her tiny head. Constance's father watched in silence from across the room. Samuel, who would have usually averted his eyes at the sight, found he could no more look away than he could stop himself from breathing. He could barely stop from weeping himself.
Noises in the distance made the two of them start and look nervously towards the door. The door opened and Isabelle, Constance's mother, slipped inside and closed the door firmly behind her.
"They will come soon," said Isabelle. "It is as we feared. The village has become a mob. They will come seeking blood. We are watched. We cannot flee."
"But she did not do this thing," protested Samuel. "She swears so before God and who are they to say otherwise."
"They will not listen to reason," replied Isabelle. "They will not even wait for a judge. They mean to hang her, this very night."
"I suspect this is all because of Abigail," said Constance. "She has developed a dislike for me and she was jealous when Symeon chose me for a wife instead of her. She has poisoned the village against me."
"Are you saying it was Abigail who struck down Symeon in such a cowardly way?" asked Samuel.
"That I cannot say," replied Constance. "But I am quite sure that it was she who began the story that Hope is not the daughter of Symeon. And it would not surprise me if she stirred the rumor that I am responsible for his death."
"Well Abigail must face God in her own time," said Samuel. "If she has begun this thing out of jealousy and spite then God will judge her. We should pray that she finds peace in her heart before she goes to face Him."
"Amen," said the others.
The door to the inner room opened and Constance's brother and sister emerged.
"It is done," announced Charity as she gestured to her brother.
Ezekiel shivered and shifted nervously as his family turned their gaze on him. Then he stood up straight and proud.
There was silence in the room for a moment.
Ezekiel walked over to his sister and stooped to kiss her cheek. The two of them ignored Hope who still suckled quietly at her mother's breast.
"You should uncover and unbind your hair," he said to his sister.
She nodded. "Will you help me?"
Ezekiel carefully untied and removed the bonnet that concealed Constance's hair and draped it over his arm. Constance reached up and removed the finely carved combs holding her hair in place. Then she shook her head and let her hair fall free around her. Ezekiel ran his hand gently through her hair and arranged it to draped down her back to her waist.
"You will have to cut off your beautiful hair," he said, with quiet determination. "And you will have to bind your breasts against your chest."
Constance looked down. "They will not bind so well when they are full of milk."
Ezekiel shrugged. "You must do as best as you can. My clothing is set out on my bed. The shirt should be loose enough to conceal what needs to be hidden. We are close to the same size and we look enough alike that nobody will see the difference, provided they do not look too carefully. I think that tomorrow our neighbors will stay away long enough for all of you to leave. Nobody will look too closely."
Constance nodded and then looked up and down at her brother. "That was always my favorite dress. I do not know why but it seems to suit you."
Ezekiel blushed and ducked his head and smiled. "Thank you."
Charity forced a thin smile. "If my sister is to walk to her death, then she should do so in her best dress."
Constance gestured at his chest and whispered "How …?"
Ezekiel leaned closer and whispered, "Stockings with grain in their ends. And Charity sewed for me a … foundation garment … that holds them in the right places against my chest. It is quite … novel … to have this extra weight on my chest. And the dress feels strange against my legs."
Constance giggled softly. "But it certainly gives you the seeming of a woman. Only your hair is wrong, but when you put on the bonnet, that will be hidden."
"My son," said Samuel, his voice breaking. "Are you certain that this is the right thing to do? It goes against God for you to wear those clothes."
"I am her brother," replied Ezekiel. "She is innocent and it is my duty to protect her. I will protect her even unto my dying breath. They are too many to fend off with weapons. This is the best way. If God objects, well, I shall face Him soon enough and then I shall discover God's will."
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