Miriam’s Tears (Part 2 of 5)

Jacob laughed as his great-uncle kissed his cheeks. “Uncle Joshua, your beard tickles!”

“Not as much as my fingers will! Better run!” The broad-shouldered man chuckled as he pushed back his chair in the inn, and pretended to get up to chase the boy.

Jacob knew better, and stepped back out of reach. Uncle Joshua wouldn’t even try. Jacob knew the floorplan of his birthplace quite well, and could speedily escape from any threat on two legs, in spite of being blind. But he also knew that more than tickling, his Uncle Joshua loved to tell stories. And for that, he would save his breath, not waste it chasing a five year-old.

A stranger stomped in from the snow outside. “Brrrr! It’s freezing out there! But you should see the stars! It’s been snowing for so long, I’d forgotten what they looked like. Hey Marcus! I’m thirsty!”

Joshua turned to his niece’s son. “Jacob, have I ever told you about the winter your mother was born?”

“No….” Jacob smiled.

Miriam walked up. “Jacob, it’s time for you to get to bed. There’s milking to be done in the morning.”

“But please, Mama, it’s a story about you. Just one story? Please?”

“Sit down, young lady. I think it’s time you heard this story.” Joshua patted the chair next to him for his niece to sit down. “Thirty years ago this winter, there was a tremendous star in the western sky. You could see it night and day. Your aunt and I were outside looking at it one afternoon, when three foreigners — very well off, with furs and fine saddles — came by. They said they had just come from Bethlehem, to pay homage to a newborn king.”

“A king? I’ve never heard of a king in Bethlehem.” Jacob interrupted, frowning.

But Miriam’s eyes met her uncle’s. There was the old story, of a king coming from the City of David. “Shush, Jacob. Listen.”

“Well this was a baby boy, young man, and as you might imagine, King Herod, the real king in those days, was not too happy to have a rival. The three strangers were very worried that harm would come to the boy.

“Your aunt Esther and I, we didn’t think much of it, but not long after, we heard there was a terrible massacre of young baby boys all through that region…” Jacob paled. “… but don’t you worry. Your mother Miriam was quite safe, being a girl. Word has it that the baby’s Daddy had a visit from an angel, and they escaped.”

“Massacres! Angels! What are you putting into this boy’s head! He’ll never get to sleep…” Miriam kissed her uncle’s cheek and tapped Jacob on the shoulder. “Come on, up to bed. That’s enough for tonight.”

The mother and son headed to the back of the inn and began climbing to the family’s loft. Jacob asked, “Mama, if the baby was really a king, he would be the same age as you. Do you think we could meet him? I’ve never met a king before.”

(to be continued)

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