The Fourth King - A Christmas Story
The great king travelled alone, for speed was of the essence.
A Day After the First Christmas. The Fourth Astrologer King would pay homage to the King of Kings.
Welcome to The Fourth King - a Christmas Story; a yarn I heard as a small boy many, many years ago. I recall it here in my own words.
It is Christmas- the First Christmas and there is a bright star in the Night Sky over Bethlehem. The shepherds with their flocks have been to see the baby Jesus; been and gone. The three astrologer kings, bringing gold, frankinsense, and myrr, they, too, have come to Bethlehem and gone.
But there was a fourth king. A mighty warrior king who lived a day’s riding further to the east. He, too, had seen the bright star shining over Judea and wanted to pay homage to this new-born King of Kings. For the stars had bespoke of a King of Kings, a saviour, being born.
The king chose his three most precious jewels.
The fourth king decided to bring the most precious presents of his kingdom, so he chose three mighty gems. The first was an enormous black pearl, taken from the depths of the ocean. It was worth a king’s ransom. The second gem was a deep green sapphire which shone like fire. And the third, was a huge blue-white diamond brought from the furthest reaches of Africa. Below the land of the Nubians. The king was very proud of his presents. He knew they would be well-received.
So, carefully placing the jewels about his person, and swinging a huge scimitar across his back, he mounted his camel for the long journey.
There was a commotion ahead.
As he came into the land of the Israelites he noticed a commotion ahead. There, by the side of the road stood a little hamlet. Outside, pleading with three burly tax-gatherers were a frail old man, woman. “Please, beseeched the man of the tax-gathers, “please don’t take our only milking cow, our pig, or chickens. They are all we have in the world.
Please don't take our livestock...please...
“But you haven’t paid Rome your tax. We cannot take your land. We must take something.”
“Sir,” we have nothing to give.”
“You do have your live-stock.”
“If you take them we will surely die.”
The Fourth King looked down upon them all. Then he dismounted, his heart filled with pity for the old couple. But he had little money with him. Only the precious jewels.
The Fourth King decided on precious jewels. A black pearl from the depths of the ocean.
Do not interfere stranger, the tax must be paid.
The tax-gatherers had gathered up the chickens and the pig. Now they made to lead away the cow.
“Hold, Tax-gatherers of Rome.”
“Do not interfere stranger. The tax must be paid.”
“Perhaps I can help pay it.” And from beneath his cloak he produced the great black pearl. “This should more than pay for what is owed to Caesar. And you’ll have money to spare beyond that. Take this pearl by way of payment, and leave these old people in peave.
The tax-gatherers snatched the pearl. “Yes, it was more than enough. Yes, they would not bother the old folks ever again.”
The King bid the old farming couple goodbye and proceeded on his way.
A deep green saphire that shone like fire.
Already the roosters were beginning to herald the dawn.
And now it was very, late. Already the roosters were beginning to herald the dawn. But what was this? God! No! A group of soldiers, King Herod’s men, had gathered outside a house. A woman was screaming hysterically. On the ground lay a tiny child. It had been killed by one savage blow to the head. In the arms of the screaming woman was a second child. A new-born baby.
Straight away the Fourth King rode up on his great camel the huge scimitar a gleaming arc in his hand. “Hold, soldier- Hold thy hand or I’ll cut you down.”
“No, stranger. You hold. We are five to your one. Besides, this is not your fight.”
“It is my fight when I’m about to see murder done on a small baby.”
A huge blue diamond from the land below that of the Nubians.
Do you think we like what we do?
“Do you think we like what we do? We are Herod’s men. His orders are that all new-born children be slain. His soothsayers have told him that a King of Kings has been recent born. He must slay that king -or have us do it.”
“Men,...men of Herod. I beg of you. Don’t do this thing.”
“We must. Our own heads could role if we fail. Besides, this village and
Bethlehem are the only two we intended to reach. But our duty we must do.”
“Perhaps I can give you something that would make you change your mind.
You are five, but this will keep all of you wealthy for a long, long time.”
And from his cloak he produced a diamond so magnificent that the soldiers gasped.
“Take it. Take it and sell it. It will make you all very rich. But leave this woman and her child, and those new-born as yet unvisited by you. Promise me this, and the stone is yours.
“You are indeed mighty generous, stranger. So be it. You have our sacred vow. No more children shall be put to the sword.”
The Fourth King gave away his last jewel.
And so the Fourth King gave away his last jewel. Now, empty handed, he was undecided what to do. He could not visit a King of Kings without even one present. But Bethlehem was so close. A few more leagues. He would arrive early; slip in just after dawn and pay his respects.
The Fourth King found the stable where Mary lay with her new-born. They were both sleeping. Onto his knees the Fourth King fell, a tear in his eye that he could give nothing to this pair. “ I am sorry,” he whispered. I am so ashamed that I came with nothing; nothing to give you.”
A guardian angel whose light shone so bright even the proud king had to lower his eyes.
For you have given the greatest gift of all...
Above the sleeping mother and child a bright light appeared. It was so dazzlingly the King had to drop his eyes.
“Oh, King,” said the voice of the guardian angle speaking from the centre of the light. “Be not ashamed. We know what you have given. You have given your all. The jewels were indeed the most precious. But there is something even more precious and that you gave. For you, oh, king, have given the greatest of all gifts.
You gave unconditional love. And love, love is the greatest gift of all.”
I hoped you enjoyed reading The Fourth King - A Christmas Story as much as I enjoy writing and teling it.
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