Editorial: The strangers

A winter’s night it was. Star-bright and cold — cold to be out on the roads, walking. Walking so late. They’d come a long way, the couple. And she with her burden. You could tell. Some miracles a loose robe won’t hide. And the look on her. We’ve had six — I know that look. The boss didn’t see it, I guess. Or didn’t care. He made his usual fuss. The man promised he’d pay, either with work — was a carpenter, he said — or somehow. But the boss didn’t like the look of them. Like I said, you knew they’d come a ways. And didn’t look to have much. What would you call them, refugees? Now those other three, later — they looked like they could pay. Maybe the boss knew they were coming. Sometimes I think he can feel money coming down the road. Anyway, he wasn’t in the mood for bartering, not with some ragged stranger making promises. He told them no. No room. No room at the inn. I felt for them, for her — like I said, we’ve had six. It wasn’t going to be too long. I didn’t say anything. Just gave a nod, out toward the back, the stable. What harm? The sheep going to mind? He needed to get her off her feet, I knew that much.

Later, don’t know why, I went out there. Kinda to check on them. They’d come a long a way, you could tell. So, I brought a little something out for them — not a lot, just scraps not good for much but tomorrow’s soup. They were glad to have it, though. He thanked me in that voice, deep but soft and kind-sounding, sincere. I remember thinking: if the kid’s lucky he’ll get his father’s voice. People can’t help but believe someone with a voice like that. Of course, I’d helped them out. But, truth be told, it didn’t cost me much. So I looked in on them. Her miracle had happened. Like I said we’ve had six but, still, it always amazes me, how small they are. But a baby is beautiful — sleeping, anyway.

So I walked back. A beautiful night, it was. Clear. And that star, big and bright. A strange night. It gave you a feeling — like everything in the world could sing, together. And something like that, it gets you thinking: If beautiful babies can be born, maybe there is hope in this world. — M. Reid.