Timothy stopped just outside the gate of the city, doubled over, his breath coming in ragged gasps. He had been traveling as fast as he could for two days focused on getting to Philippi as soon as possible, and when the walls came in sight, had broken into a staggering run, only pulling up when he reached the gate.
It was mid-day, and the bustling metropolis was teeming with action. A steady stream of people from the region around the city were flowing in and out of the gate, intent on their own affairs. They took no notice of Timothy, but he watched them eagerly. This was a city he knew, and he was sure that he could find one of his friends.
The tinkling of a bell drew his attention, and his eyes followed two women trying to get a small herd of goats through the gate. One of them looked familiar. He was watching them, trying to decide if he recognized her, when he caught sight of a well-known figure, the one for which he had been searching, but had stopped expecting to find. A shock coursed through him, and he started forward with a cry. As he moved, fuzzy blackness constricted his line of sight, narrowing it to a point. He felt the ground spinning beneath him for a moment, before he dropped in a faint.
As he awoke, he became gradually aware of gentle, murmuring voices. A cool cloth wiped his brow. Opening his eyes, for a moment he could distinguish nothing in the dim light, except that he was lying inside, on a bed. His head felt heavy, and his empty stomach twisted. Where was he? Then he remembered.
“Alexander!” With the exclamation, he sat up with a jerk, but sank back again as a wave of darkness rolled across his vision. Blinking and breathing deeply, he managed to stay conscious, as someone hurried to his side. Had he really seen the coppersmith at the gate? Perhaps it was only a figment of his imagination, brought on by the heat and thirst. As the thoughts jumbled through his mind, he saw the form of a woman bending over him. She slipped her arm beneath his shoulders, propping him up at an angle, and held a cup to his lips.
“Now,” a firm voice said, “what are you doing, Timothy, and why are you not taking care of yourself?”
The words brought back his memory of the last few days in a rush. He had no time to worry about Alexander, Mark was his most urgent concern. It was his obsession with the coppersmith that had led to Mark re-injuring his arm in the first place.
He focused on the face above him. It was the woman he had thought he recognized at the city gate. “Euodice.” He sat up, slowly this time, with his eyes closed to keep from feeling dizzy. “I have to go back…I came for help.” he stammered.
“Go back where?” Euodice demanded. “Timothy, you are not making any sense.”
“Sorry, sorry.” He took a deep breath, and gathered his thoughts. “My companion, John Mark. He is sick, and I had to leave him a couple days ago on the road. We had some trouble in Troas.”
“You are sick yourself, Timothy. You cannot handle another two days of travel.”
“Please.” Timothy whispered. “I am afraid he will die if he does not get help soon.”
Euodice considered him, hands on her hips. “Very well, I will send a boy to find my husband and one of the brethren, and they will go back with you to bring him here. But mind!” she lifted a warning finger at him, “I take no responsibility for the consequences.”
“Thank you.” Timothy smiled weakly at her threatening attitude.
“Hmm. You just rest until they get here.”
Timothy was glad enough to obey without protest. He lay back and closed his eyes.