Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

by [?]

Once upon a time in a country far away from here, there lived a little girl named Ruth. Ruth’s home was not at all like our houses, for she lived in a little tower on top of the great stone wall that surrounded the town of Bethlehem. Ruth’s father was the hotel-keeper–the Bible says the “inn keeper.” This inn was not at all like our hotels, either. There was a great open yard, which was called the courtyard. All about this yard were little rooms and each traveler who came to the hotel rented one. The inn stood near the great stone wall of the city, so that as Ruth stood, one night, looking out of the tower window, she looked directly into the courtyard. It was truly a strange sight that met her eyes. So many people were coming to the inn, for the King had made a law that every man should come back to the city where his father used to live to be counted and to pay his taxes. Some of the people came on the backs of camels, with great rolls of bedding and their dishes for cooking upon the back of the beast. Some of them came on little donkeys, and on their backs too were the bedding and the dishes. Some of the people came walking–slowly; they were so tired. Many miles some of them had come. As Ruth looked down into the courtyard, she saw the camels being led to their places by their masters, she heard the snap of the whips, she saw the sparks shoot up from the fires that were kindled in the courtyard, where each person was preparing his own supper; she heard the cries of the tired, hungry little children.

Presently her mother, who was cooking supper, came over to the window and said, “Ruthie, thou shalt hide in the house until all those people are gone. Dost thou understand?”

“Yes, my mother,” said the child, and she left the window to follow her mother back to the stove, limping painfully, for little Ruth was a cripple. Her mother stooped suddenly and caught the child in her arms.

“My poor little lamb. It was a mule’s kick, just six years ago, that hurt your poor back and made you lame.”

“Never mind, my mother. My back does not ache today, and lately when the light of the strange new star has shone down upon my bed my back has felt so much stronger and I have felt so happy, as though I could climb upon the rays of the star and up, up into the sky and above the stars!”

Her mother shook her head sadly. “Thou art not likely to climb much, now or ever, but come, the supper is ready; let us go to find your father. I wonder what keeps him.”

They found the father standing at the gate of the courtyard, talking to a man and woman who had just arrived. The man was tall, with a long beard, and he led by a rope a snow white mule, on which sat the drooping figure of the woman. As Ruth and her mother came near, they heard the father say, “But I tell thee that there is no more room in the inn. Hast thou no friends where thou canst go to spend the night?” The man shook his head. “No, none,” he answered. “I care not for myself, but my poor wife.” Little Ruth pulled at her mother’s dress. “Mother, the oxen sleep out under the stars these warm nights and the straw in the caves is clean and warm; I have made a bed there for my little lamb.”

Ruth’s mother bowed before the tall man. “Thou didst hear the child. It is as she says–the straw is clean and warm.” The tall man bowed his head. “We shall be very glad to stay,” and he helped the sweet-faced woman down from the donkey’s back and led her away to the cave stable, while the little Ruth and her mother hurried up the stairs that they might send a bowl of porridge to the sweet-faced woman, and a sup of new milk, as well.