It was the typical Christmas pageant.
Miss Lumbard was trying to assign all the children
to their appropriate roles.
Wallace Purling wanted to be a shepherd and have a flute,
but Miss Lumbard found a more important role for Wally.
He was about nine, and rather big for his age, but also
rather slow. Miss Lumbard thought his size would make the
lines of the Inn Keeper more forceful, and besides there
were not too many words for Wally to remember.
So it was as that fateful night began. The usual crowd of parents
and loved ones gathered for the towns annual program. None of
them more taken up by the story than Wallace Purling. Wally
stood in the wings fascinated and caught up in the story that
from time to time Miss Lumbard had to remind him not to
wander on stage.
Then the time came. Mary and Joseph appeared slowly moving
toward the inn. Joseph knocked on the door and Wally the
Innkeeper was there waiting. What do you want? He said
swinging the door open. "We seek Lodging."
"Seek it elsewhere," Wally said looking straight ahead and speaking
brusquely. "Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain and we have
traveled so far."
"There is no room in the inn for you." Wally looked properly stern.
"Please Mr. Innkeeper this is my wife she is heavy with child and
need a place to rest." Now for the first time Wally relaxed.
He looked at Mary. With that there was a long pause.
The audience was a bit tense and embarrassed.
And the prompter said from the side,
"Now be gone!" Wally repeated, "Now be gone.!"
Joseph placed his arm around Mary and walked sadly away.
The tired little mother of Jesus laid her head on his shoulder.
The innkeeper did not return to his inn. Wally stood there
watching the forlorn couple. His mouth stood open, his
brow was creased, his eyes began to fill with tears.
Suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from
all the others. "Don't go Joseph," Wally called out.
"Bring Mary back." Wally's face grew into a
beaming smile, "You can have my room."