THE INNKEEPER AND HIS WIFE

7 Nov

I suppose it’s obvious what I’m doing – looking at events described in the Gospels from the perspectives of minor characters. Although I have absolutely no religious belief myself, and think the story behind the nativity is pure hogwash, I have no intention of offending those who don’t share my attitude.

 THE INNKEEPER AND HIS WIFE

Bethlehem inn photo: Inn from biblical times (Bethlehem( inn.jpgThe Innkeeper looked at his wife and shook his head.
“There’s one of them tarts at the door,” he mumbled, “heavy with child, by the look of her, with a bloke who don’t look to me as if he’s her husband… at least I reckon, from his attitude, that he’s not got any particular interest in the kid she’s carrying. I reckon she’s picked him up and he’s too simple to know north from south, so to speak.”
“What do they want?” asked his wife, keen-eyed, clearly devoted to something other than her husband.
“They want a room to stay, for the census,” he explained, “and probably a bit longer by the look of her. She’s likely to drop it at any moment, poor little sod.”
“Who? The girl?” asked his wife, meanly.
“No, silly. The kid. The unborn kid.”
“The unborn bastard you mean,” snarled his good lady. “Well, I’ll take a look and if she’s what you say she is there’ll be no room for them in our inn!”
She stormed off to the entrance and cast her eyes over the young woman standing forlornly with an older man. She was a truly pathetic sight, clearly too young to be in the condition she was in, and the man looked as if he couldn’t take another step.
“You the kid’s father?” she asked of him.
He shook his head. “We are to be wed,” he muttered.
“I meant the poor little sod in her belly! But if you say you are to be wed then clearly it’ll be a bastard when it comes along, be you it’s father or not. Sorry, but there’s no room in this establishment for the likes of you! Who’s the proper father anyway.
“An angel,” whispered the girl, “he was an angel from Heaven…. But they stoned him… I heard on my way here … he’s dead.”
“And they let you get away? It takes two to make a wee one, not just the man. How come they never stoned you? You deserve it all right, from your own account!”
The girl started crying and the Innkeeper frowned at his wife. The child looked so pathetic, standing there with what can’t have been far short of a full-term weight dragging her down. And there were tears streaming down her face whilst her so-called husband-to-be stood there wringing his hands wretchedly.
“You can see that she’s all in,” he muttered at last. “It’s been a long journey. Sometimes we could only manage a mile or two a day, even with the donkey carrying our stuff.”
“There’s a cattle shed round the back,” suggested the Innkeeper’s wife, relenting somewhat when it was obvious that forcing the young couple on might be akin to murdering both mother-to-be and her unborn child.
“I’ll show you,” murmured the Innkeeper. “Just say there’s no room left in the Inn if it makes you feel better, and it’s mostly true what with the damned census. Come this way and I’ll show you.”
He led them round the back of the small inn and across a scrubby meadow until they came to a ramshackle cattle-shed.
“They’re on the high pasture while winter,” he told them, meaning his few cattle. “You’ll be okay here. When’s your kid expected?”
“Any time,” muttered the man, helping Mary off the donkey. “Apparently the angel visited my woman last Autumn, so it’s got to be some time this month, I reckon.”
“Angel?” asked the Inn-keeper.”
“Dressed like a Roman soldier,” sighed the girl. “I never thought any harm would come of it and he was so gorgeous. I thought it was just a bit of fun so I said he was my angel.”
“You ought to be flogged,” muttered the older man, sadly. “And I’ll bet you anything you like that if the law gets to hear of the mess you’re in that’s exactly what they’ll do to you. Flog you! A thousand lashes, I wouldn’t be surprised. Or stone you. It’s the law, and laws should be obeyed!”
“Don’t tell anyone … please…” begged the husband-to-be.
“I’ll keep quiet until the kid’s born,” muttered the Inn-keeper, “but then I can’t say what my old woman’s going to tell folks. She’s a right-thinking soul, is my old woman, and she don’t suffer fools gladly.”
“Thank you anyway,” almost wept the man, and he escorted his desperately heavy woman into the stable and propped her up against a bale of hay. “Come on, Mary,” he muttered, “we can rest here for a while…”
“And then, Joseph, what then?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he replied, “though I’ve a feeling that we’ll have to flee to another country where the folks are more enlightened if we want to save your skin.”
“You mean Egypt, don’t you?”
He nodded.
“I suppose if we have to…” she whispered, and then, more desperately, “Joseph, help me … I think it’s coming…”
© Peter Rogerson 07.11.14

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4 Responses to “THE INNKEEPER AND HIS WIFE”

  1. pambrittain November 7, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    I sure hope this is to be continued.

    • Peter Rogerson November 8, 2014 at 9:00 am #

      I expect it might. I thought it might be fascinating exploring a well-known fable from the perspective of its minor characters.

  2. barbod2014angusbelle November 8, 2014 at 2:40 am #

    Interesting take on the old story, Peter. Does sound quite feasible too. 🙂

    • Peter Rogerson November 8, 2014 at 9:01 am #

      It’s most probable that none of it ever happened, but if it did…

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