”That was what I wondered. What could I do? Warn people that they might flee? They probably wouldn’t believe me. But, it was worth a try. I’d do it. For the first time in my life, I would be going against my father. Although he was really my stepfather, he’d been like a real father to me, and I had thought of him as such. I had respected him. Up to this time, I had regarded as mere idle rumors the tales of the terrible cruelty and bloodshed which he had perpetrated not only among his subjects but in his own family as well.”
Herod took another big gulp. ”You must be referring to those stories of him killing his own brothers and mother-in-law.”
”And God only knows how many more.”
”I’ve always regarded those things as empty fables.”
”I had regarded them so up to that time. But now I was seeing an even worse situation unfold before my very eyes. All boy babies of two or younger! How extremely heathen!”
Herod reached for his glass again. ”Indeed, how utterly fiendish!”
”So why should I obey him now, or give consent to what he did? Why not dare to stand alone and act on my own convictions? So much freedom seemed to be awaiting me. Why not reach out and boldly embark upon it? And so I did.” He paused to sip his wine.
Herod took another gulp and leaned forward on his chair, impatiently. ”You warned the people, I suppose. But, how did you get to Bethlehem? It’s too far for a small boy to walk.”
”I stole one of our father’s horses from the royal stable and rode out before the army could get organized enough to begin their long march.”
”That must have been quite a rough ride for a boy of your age. The roads were even worse back then than they are now.”
”It was a rough ride. I remember that I held on as tight as I could. I made it, but when I arrived and dismounted and was attempting to tie the horse to a tree, he broke loose and ran away.” He brought his glass to his lips and took another sip.
”Herod took another gulp and reached for the pitcher to fill both goblets. “Well, how did you get back?”
”I’ll tell you that in due time, brother. Of course, at the moment I was wondering how I would. But then my purpose came floating before my mind. I began to run. I ran as fast as I could to the first house I found and knocked on the door, hoping that someone would be awake and would hear my knock.” He paused and took another sip.
Herod sipped his wine too now, probably because it was getting low and he didn’t want to have to interrupt the story by sending for another pitcher. ”And was anyone awake?”
”As a matter of fact, the whole family was awake. But it was the lady of the house who opened the door to me and stood looking down at me inquiringly. ‘Yes?’ I knew what she must have been thinking. What could a small boy like me be wanting at this time of night? I was almost too scared to speak. But I knew I must.
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