Not once the praise, but many times.
Then the herald raised his eyes as seeking approval of one far off; his wings stirred, and spread slowly and majestically, on their upper side white as snow, in the shadow vari-tinted, like mother-of-pearl; when they were expanded many cubits beyond his stature, he rose lightly, and, without effort, floated out of view, taking the light up with him. Long after he was gone, down from the sky fell the refrain in measure mellowed by distance, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.”
When the shepherds came fully to their senses, they stared at each other stupidly, until one of them said, “It was Gabriel, the Lord’s messenger unto men.”
“Christ the Lord is born; said he not so?”
Then another recovered his voice, and replied, “That is what he said.”
“And did he not also say, in the city of David, which is our Bethlehem yonder. And that we should find Him a babe in swaddling clothes?”
“And lying in a manger.”
The first speaker gazed into the fire thoughtfully, but at length said, like one possessed of a sudden resolve, “There is but one place in Bethlehem where there are mangers; but one, and that is in the cave near the old khan. Brethren, let us go see this thing which has come to pass. The priests and doctors have been a long time looking for the Christ. Now He is born, and the Lord has given us a sign by which to know Him. Let us go and worship Him.”
“But the flocks!”
“The Lord will take care of them. Let us make haste.”
Then they all arose and left the marah.
* * * * *
Around the mountain and through the town they passed, and came to the gate of the khan, where there was a man on watch.
“What would you have?” he asked.
“We have seen and heard great things to-night,” they replied.
“Well, we, too, have seen great things, but heard nothing. What did you hear?”
“Let us go down to the cave in the enclosure, that we may be sure; then we will tell you all. Come with us, and see for yourself.”
“It is a fool’s errand.”
“No, the Christ is born.”
“The Christ! How do you know?”
“Let us go and see first.”
The man laughed scornfully.
“The Christ indeed! How are you to know Him?”
“He was born this night, and is now lying in a manger, so we were told; and there is but one place in Bethlehem with mangers.”
“Yes. Come with us.”
They went through the court-yard without notice, although there were some up even then talking about the wonderful light. The door of the cavern was open. A lantern was burning within, and they entered unceremoniously.