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The Shepherd Maidens Gift.by Eleanor L. Skinner.
Start of Story
In the quiet midnight, peace brooded over the fields where the
shepherds were watching their flocks. The tinkling of sheepbells, the
bleating of lambs, and the barking of watchdogs had gradually ceased.
Around a large campfire several shepherds lay resting, for they had
had a long, hard day. Each had beside him a strong shepherd's crook
and a stout club ready for use in case any lurking danger threatened
the beloved flocks.
Not far away from the campfire a shepherd maiden lay sleeping in the
rude shelter of a rocky cave. All day long she had helped her father
guard the sheep, and when darkness fell over the fields and hills, she
was glad to lie down in her snug bed made of the fleecy skins of kids
Suddenly a light filled the cave and wakened the maiden. Thinking it
was daybreak, she sprang up, stepped to the rude doorway, and pushed
aside the curtain of goatskin.
"What has happened?" she whispered.
The fields and hills were flooded with light. The group of shepherds
were standing close together, gazing intently at the luminous eastern
sky. A moment later she saw them fall on their knees in worship. There
in the entrance of her rude shelter, she, too, knelt and prayed.
Clearly she saw the shining angel appear and in the peaceful stillness
of the night she heard these words:
"Be not afraid; for, behold, I bring good tidings of great joy which
shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day, in the
city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be
the sign unto you: ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel many, many others. Together they
lifted up their voices in praise and sang,
"Glory to God in the highest,
Peace on earth
Good will toward men."
When the sweet music died away, the maiden rose to her feet and joined
"I saw the angel, Father, and heard the singing," she whispered.
"Christ, the Lord, is born," answered her father.
"Let us hasten to Bethlehem and see the Heavenly Child who fulfills
the promise of God," said one of the shepherds.
"Shall we leave our flocks?" asked another. But the question was not
"Come, let us see what gifts we have to carry to the Christ-child,"
said the shepherd who first saw the light in the sky.
In a few moments these simple-hearted men were ready to start across
the fields and over the low hills to Bethlehem. Very humble gifts they
had to offer, but their hearts were filled with joy and wonder.
Standing near the entrance to the cave the shepherd maiden could see
the outline of the group of men making their way to the city of David.
"They are going to see the Christ-child," she said to herself, "a babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
How she would love to see the Heavenly Child! A deep longing to behold
the little new-born King seized her. She would follow the shepherds to
Bethlehem. One glimpse at the Christ-child would fill her heart with
Away over the star-lit fields and hills she started. Not once did she
falter, although the way was long and some of the hillsides were hard
Finally, she saw the shepherds pass in the gate of the city of
"I came to see the Christ-child," she said to a group of people who
stood whispering together. They looked at her in astonishment.
"I am following the shepherds," she added.
"They have gone to the inn," was the answer.
When she reached the inn she was directed to a cave near, which served
as a stable.
There through the entrance she saw the shepherds lay their humble
presents at Mary's feet and then kneel in solemn adoration.
"I have brought nothing to offer," whispered the maiden, looking
wistfully into the rude shelter. "I cannot go in without a gift--a
little gift for the Christ-child."
Tears of disappointment filled her eyes. Slowly she turned to leave
the place. But after she had taken a few steps she stopped and burst
into sobs. How could she go away without a glimpse of the Heavenly
Child? Then, as she stood weeping, a marvelous thing happened. An
angel appeared beside her and said:
"Lo, here at thy feet is a gift for the Christ-child."
Then she saw growing near her, slender stems covered with delicate
green leaves and bearing lovely flowers.
The maiden did not stop to wonder. Here was a gift fit to offer the
little Saviour. With trembling joy she gathered the Christmas roses
and stepped lightly into the humble house where the little babe lay
smiling in his mother's arms. In Mary's lap the maiden laid her gift
of flowers, and, with radiant face, she knelt and filled her heart
with the glorious vision.