QUEEN ESTHER'S LOVE FOR HER PEOPLE 171
the inner court without being called, except for the one to whom the king may hold out the golden sceptre, which means that he may live. But now for thirty days I have not been called to go in to the king."
When Mordecai was told what Esther had said, he sent back this answer to Esther, "Do not think that you alone of all the Jews will escape because you belong to the king's household. If you keep silent at this time, help will come to the Jews from somewhere else, but you and your family will perish. Who knows but that you have been raised to the throne for a time like this?"
Then Esther sent this message to Mordecai: "Go, gather all the Jews in Susa and fast for me; do not eat nor drink anything for three days and nights. I and my maids will fast also, and so I will go in to the king, although it is against the law. And if I perish I perish." So Mordecai went away and did as Esther directed.
On the third day, Esther put on her royal garments and stood in the inner court of the royal palace opposite the king's house. The king was sitting on his throne in the palace, opposite the entrance. When he saw Esther, the queen, standing in the court, she won his favor, and he held out to her the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther went up and touched the top of the sceptre. Then the king said to her, " WTiatever you wish, Queen Esther, and whatever you ask, it shall be granted, even if it is the half of the kingdom." Esther said, "If it seems best to the king, let the king and Haman come to-day to the feast that I have prepared for him." Then the king said, "Bring Haman quickly, that Esther's wish may be granted."
So the king and Haman went to the feast that Esther had prepared. While they were drinking wine, the king said to Esther, "Whatever you ask shall be granted, even if it takes the half of my kingdom." Esther answered, "If I have won the king's favor and if it seems best to the king to grant what I ask, let the king and Haman come to the feast which I shall prepare for them; and to-morrow I will do as the king wishes."
So Haman went out that day joyful and happy, but when he saw Mordecai in the king's gate and noticed that he neither stood up nor moved for him, he was furiously angry with Mordecai. But Haman controlled his temper and went home. Then he called together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, and told them the greatness of his wealth, how many children he had, and all the ways in which