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Dinah feels terribly lonely with Re-mose away at school.
She makes a home for herself in the garden shed and toils among
the flowers and fruit to earn her keep. Re-mose does well at school
and is kept away from home with trips to visit his friends’ families.
Time passes, and Dinah and Meryt become close friends. They spend
hours together talking and laughing, discussing their experiences
as midwives. Meryt’s husband has long been dead, and she has two adopted
sons who lived on the west bank of the river. Though Dinah refuses
to attend any births with her, she teaches Meryt all she knows of
herbs and tricks for bringing healthy babies into the world.
Four years after Re-mose leaves, Dinah is summoned to
attend a difficult birth with Meryt. Though the mother dies, Dinah
saves one of the two babies. From then on various houses in Thebes
call upon Dinah to attend births. She and Meryt work together and
accumulate gifts of jewelry and linens. One day, they go to the
market to buy a box to hold Dinah’s new belongings. There they meet
a carpenter named Benia, who has an open face and cannot take his
eyes off of Dinah. He offers her a beautiful box. Meryt tells him
to bring the box to Nakht-re’s home the next day, since he is moving
shortly to the Valley of Kings. Dinah feels something in his gaze
but says nothing. They arrive home to an uproar, for Re-mose has
Dinah has not seen Re-mose in five years, and in that
time he has grown into a young man. Their meeting feels forced,
since he is a prince of Egypt and she merely his nurse. Re-mose
has been asked to learn the duties of a vizier. A great banquet
is held that night in his honor, and a veiled singer appears with
the band. She sings a song of lost love that sounds familiar to
Dinah. After the festivities die down, she makes her way over to
the band and addresses the singer by her name. The singer turns
out to be Werenro, the messenger of her grandmother with the red
hair who was thought to have been murdered years before.
Werenro lifts her veil and shows Dinah how her face is
torn and scarred, with her nose broken and her eyes gouged out.
Werenro relates her story to Dinah. While leaving Tyre to return
to Mamre, she was attacked by the side of the road by three Canaanite
men. They raped her, beat her, and left her for dead. A boy found
her and called for his mother, who took her in and healed her. Rather
than return to Mamre as a slave, Werenro decided to let everyone
think she was murdered and placed sheep’s bones along the road with locks
of her hair before joining a caravan of singers. Dinah tells her story,
relieved to at last recount what has happened to her. She begins
to remember the woman she was as she tells her story. Werenro declares
that she might as well be dead, but Dinah still has life in her
Dinah confronts her memories when she reclaims her role
as a midwife and encounters Werenro at Re-mose’s feast. Forced back
into the practice and life of a midwife, she reconnects with her
memories of Rachel, Inna, and the powerful world of women in which
she was raised. When Dinah helps to deliver the twins and succeeds
where Meryt could not, she remembers her own skill and usefulness.
The feeling of being useful again brings tremendous relief after
years of solitude and lethargy in the garden. She knows from her
upbringing that such a gift is not to be taken lightly. Her presence
of mind during her own birthing experience stands as proof that
Dinah’s abilities as a midwife are impressive. Though she has no
mothers or daughters to serve, there are other women who need her.
By resuming the life of a midwife, Dinah reclaims a sense of self
that she thought that she had lost.
Dinah reclaims her own history when she reunites with
Werenro and hears her terrible story. Werenro offers Dinah the third
prophecy of her life, and the only one of the three that has any
effect on Dinah’s actions. Zilpah’s prophecy of finding happiness
near a river rings false, and while Rebecca’s prophecy of unspeakable
grief came true, Dinah never acknowledges the prediction again.
In contrast, Werenro’s words shoot directly to Dinah’s heart. Dinah
can finally relate her sorrow after hearing the torment that Werenro
endured and understanding how Werenro equates her current existence
with a living death. Relief floods her body as she unburdens her
secrets to Werenro and cries on her shoulder. Werenro tells her
that her grief shines from her heart but that the flame of love
still burns strong, explaining that Dinah’s story is not yet finished.
Dinah feels greatly affected by unloading her tragic story, while
Werenro’s declaration that she must live out her destiny without
her family moves her greatly. At long last, she weeps for the memories
of her mothers and feels some relief.
The brief reappearance of Re-mose, now nearly an adult,
further strengthens Dinah’s resolve to take action in her life.
She sees in his mature face how many years she has spent hiding
in her garden and realizes that she must face her life. Re-mose
has grown up and learned the ways of a vizier, which draws attention
to Dinah’s own intertia. Her relationship with Re-nefer, which has
always been cordial, has become nearly nonexistent. Dinah comes
and goes from her home in the garden shed and feels no attachment
to anyone other than Meryt. Since she has no family in Thebes, there
is no reason to call it home. She realizes that others like Werenro
have lived through suffering—and found the strength to go on with
their lives. Dinah is no longer bound to her son’s life, for he
will not be coming home to see his mother again, so she must find
her own way.