Carrying a newborn lamb, Abel appeared over the hill with the youngsters. He stopped to speak with their father, who took the lamb. The ewe had probably died giving birth. It was lambing season. As Abel stepped up to the spread of food, he looked beaten, as he always did when one of his ewes died leaving a newborn. Cain decided to kick him while he was down.
“Why don’t you go first, Abel? Since you’re better than all the rest of us.”
Cain stared hard at him and saw the blow had struck home—Abel winced and swallowed hard. Several of their younger brothers laughed at his remark, but the rest looked embarrassed. Cain lifted his eyes to Lilith’s and met her look of disapproval. What? Raising his eyebrows, he gave her his best expression of innocence. Her continued solemnity pricked his conscience; his remark had been uncalled for. He needed to soften the blow.
“I’ll go to the end of the line, since I’m the worst,” Cain said.
Now everyone laughed. After his unkind remark to Abel, they all agreed with his assessment. Abel was caring and compassionate toward everyone—they all went to him for comfort and advice. Sometimes his advice niggled, as it did today; but he was usually right. Cain shoved that thought away. He wanted to obtain Lilith in his own way.
As Cain walked to the back of the line, he passed his mother toward the end, preparing to help the smaller children. Mother looked at him with kind sympathy and patted his shoulder. From the end of the line, he watched everyone console Abel. Cain dropped his head. He felt guilty. He tended to be mean when he was angry, and it had happened again.
Nonchalantly, Lilith made her way toward Cain, talking with one or another sibling as she moved along the line. Occasionally she flicked her eyes in his direction. He looked uneasy. Surely something had happened out in the field to provoke his verbal smack at their kindest brother.
“What was that all about?” Lilith whispered when she reached him.
Facing the river, Cain turned his back toward the rest of the family. “Abel knows. We had a disagreement.”
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