Gutsy, that one is,” remarked a fellow outside the Lone Star Inn on the outskirts of Bethlehem, tipping his head in the direction of a man in the entrance of the livestock cave, sound asleep.  The other men gathering in the morning light muttered ambiguous comments that the speaker could take as he liked.  More sure were the grumblings when all eyes returned to the hillsides after the glance at the sleeper.  “There’s another one!”  “That makes five.”  “Herod’s hounds,” one spat out, literally.  “What are they up to?” 

Light expanded with the day, and so did the crowd.  Military apparitions punctured the near horizon and also the peace.  “How can he sleep like a baby with all this going on?”  “It’s because of a baby,” someone laughed.  “It’s true.  His wife had a baby.  Give him a break.  He’s exhausted.”  “That was a month ago!”  “Yeah, but it’s hard on a new dad,” inserted a man with twins recently added to his household.  They all laughed.  Momentarily.  “Look!  Another!” 

You’ve got to admit it takes guts to stretch out in such an open place, unarmed.  He isn’t trying to block the entrance, is he?”  “Maybe his snoring will scare them away!”  “Does he know about the soldiers?”  “I think so.  I saw the first before dawn and he was up, too.”  “Well, it takes guts to dream with all this going on.”  “Yeah, you wake up in prison.”  “Or not wake up at all!”  “I wouldn’t chance it.  Nathan, have you got any weapons at home?” 

What about those strange rich guys?  They were in that cave, I think.”  “Just to get the camels.”  “Do you think they had anything to do with soldiers showing up?”  “Or our sleeper?” 

The sun began to sag to the west.  The breeze died.  Leaves wilted in the heat.  All was siesta, the seventh hour, midday Sabbath rest.  The streets were empty.  Herod’s hounds were asleep.  Joseph seized the chance, emerged from the cave with wife and child, and quietly fled.  He had had a dream.

 

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