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The Shepherd Who Didn’t Go
by [?]

You have all heard of the shepherds who went to Bethlehem, but I do not believe any of you have heard of the shepherd who didn’t go. The Bible does not say anything about him, but his story has come to me, and I am going to tell it to you.

The city of Bethlehem stood on a hill. Below the town, with its steep narrow streets and white walls, were gray olive orchards. Below the orchards were gardens bright with flowers. Below the gardens lay green meadows, and beyond these pasture-lands that stretched away to the wilderness plains where little patches of grass grew among the bushes and between the great rocks. There were caves among these rocks where wolves used to skulk and sometimes robbers hid. So the shepherds who guarded their flocks in these wild pastures dared not leave them alone.

One clear beautiful night, many centuries ago, four shepherds were watching their flocks on these pastures. Samuel, Ezra, Joel, and Dahvid were their names. Samuel, Ezra, and Joel were strong men, no longer young, with shaggy eyebrows and brown beards; Ezra’s was short, Joel’s long, and Samuel’s streaked with gray. They owned the flocks which they tended. Dahvid was a boy with ruddy cheeks, bright eyes, and strong lithe limbs. He cared for the flocks of old Abraham. Abraham was old and rich, and did not work any more, but hired Dahvid, whose family was very poor, to care for his sheep.

The flocks of the four shepherds were lying quiet on the plain far below the city, and near by Samuel, Ezra, Joel, and Dahvid lay wrapped in their shepherds’ cloaks.

“Samuel,” said Dahvid, rising upon his elbow.

“What is it, Dahvid?” asked the other in a deep voice.

“Are you not glad that you tend sheep in Bethlehem instead of some distant place?”

“Why, Dahvid?” asked Samuel sleepily.

“Because it is in Bethlehem that the King we have been looking for so long is to be born. I have been reading it in the prophets only today.”

“Have you only just heard of that?” asked Ezra sourly.

“No,” replied the boy hotly. “I have heard my mother tell of it ever since I can remember, and I have read it over and over again. Samuel!”

“Yes, Dahvid?”

“Do you think we shall ever see the promised King?”

“I do not know, my boy,” the older man answered sadly. “We have waited long, and there seems little hope for Israel now. But he will come some day, he will come some day. Why do you ask, Dahvid?”

“I cannot tell. It is often in my mind. Something makes me think of it tonight. Perhaps it is because I read of him today. Samuel, I would walk to the end of the earth to see the Christ-child.”

“Well, you need not start now,” grumbled Ezra, and Joel added roughly, “Go to sleep, boy, the hour is late.”

It was much later before Dahvid fell asleep, for his head was full of dreams, and the stories of wonderful days to come that his mother had told him. But at length he joined the rest in healthy slumber.

Suddenly it seemed to each of them that something had passed over him, and touched him lightly on the cheek. The older men raised themselves on their elbows, but Dahvid sprang to his feet. At first they saw only a great light, which nearly blinded them, then they discerned a shining form in the sky, and heard a voice saying: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And then all the sky was full of light, and the air was full of heavenly voices, singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”