Eve stared at the bright candle resting on the mantel. “Tis the light of Christmas, Richard.”
“Say ye so. We’ll place two more near the door. I think the snow and wind has subsided and the skies are beginning to clear.”
“Oh, Richard, that will be perfect for welcoming the King.”
“Bess, three ancients found their way with only the stars, I think our two candles will be a good addition to God’s own lights."
“Indeed. I shall made a pudding also.”
Richard rocked back in his chair and puffed on his long pipe. “Aye, but will the pudding be for the Holy traveler, or for our own sweet tongues?”
“Be ye silly, love; the pudding ye'll take to widow MacVey, so we’ll have none of yer nonsense over a sticky pudding.” Bess flipped her apron at her husband.
The evening crept along, Richard returned from widow MacVey. The couple sat near the fire, discussing life in the village, and otherwise attempting to warm their toes.
“How long will the candles burn outside Richard?”
“As long as the wind does not come up again, they should burn toward morning. The candles are protected by the snow, which makes a beautiful glass. I would that ye could see them.”
Bess leaned toward the fire. “I’ll not venture into the cold tonight, the Christ child needs not my cold feet to find His way.”
“Well said sweet Bess. My tour into the village in daylight was cold enough, I am grateful that the Lord of Hosts need not the complaints of we gathered here.” He chuckled and lowered his head for prayer. “Precious Jesus, forgive our complaining mouths. Our door is unlocked for Ye tonight and the lights of our fires burn just for Ye. Be Y."e in our lives dear Jesus that we may serve Ye as we serve our fellow man."
Bess whispered, “amen.”
A loud knock on their door wakened them from their stupor.
“We be not expecting visitors?” Richard shook his head. “I spake wrongly, and I am sorry.”
“Quit yer muttering and answer the door.”
Richard rose from his chair and wrapped his heavy coat around his shoulders, then approached the door.
“We saw yer lights.” The voice behind the door seemed pained to Bess.
“Knock yer snow from the boots and come on in.” Richard’s deep voice echoed in the one room cabin.
A man and woman with a small child tied behind entered the cabin. Richard quickly shut the door.
The man spoke directly to Richard and nodded toward Bess. “We were traveling to Portsmouth, when the storm came through and we lost our cow. I fear on this Christmas eve we have lost our way too and are seeking shelter. We have nothing else to offer.
Bess stood next to her chair. “Come ye to the fire and warm yerselves. I have some hard bread and some watery soup, but it’ll heat on the fire and warm ye bellies.”
The woman pulled her son and rushed to the fireplace. “Thank ye, gracious sister.”
Richard took the man to the table and helped him unload his pack. “You’ll be with us tonight.”
“Thank you sir.” The man pulled a package from his pack and unwrapped it. “Ye have blessed us on this very cold evening.” He picked up a black leather book. “If ye like I will read to ye from the Bible.”
Richard put his hand on the man’s should. “Indeed, we would like that.” He chuckled, “Our Bible is only in our memory these days. Twas washed overboard during the passage.”
Bess felt strangely warm. The candle on the mantle flickered and Bess smiled. “I know, Jesus,” she whispered.
The woman sat in Richard’s chair. “We saw the candles from the road.”
“I’m glad ye did.” Bess handed the woman a woven blanket, and the woman gathered her child around her and covered them both.
The stranger read the stories of Jesus birth and prayed with Richard, Bess, and his family.
In the morning Richard woke Bess. “The strangers be gone?”
Bess lifted her head, “Indeed, but look on the table.”
The Bible was sitting atop the wrappings but, the mantle candle was gone.
Richard opened the door and fetched the two candles he had left the night before, they were unburned and in full wax shape.
Bess looked at the candles. “Surely, our lights of Christmas lit the way for Christ, and He took the one on the mantle to light His way to the world.”
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