The Fourth Wise Man
“I think we are lost, Balthasar,” said Gaspar as he struggled to keep his exhausted camel under control. “Should we not set up camp for the night?”
Balthasar shook his head. “No, the star must be here, but it is too cloudy to see.”
Gaspar scowled at his travelling companion. “Ah, yes, the star that is supposed to be in the East; except that we went West, didn’t we? The prophecy clearly said ‘wise men will see a star in the East’, but no, wise Balthasar always knows better.”
“As I have told you a thousand times, Gaspar,” said Balthasar, his voice beginning to strain, “we were in the East when we saw the star for the first…”
Melchior interrupted, “Oh, will you two just be quiet — you are like old women. Why can’t you be like Shazbah over here: not a word of complaint these long months.”
Shazbah said nothing, and the others noticed he was staring intently at a narrow beam of bright moonlight that had suddenly appeared through a gap in the clouds, lighting up a little village in the valley below.
“See: a sign! I knew it!” said Balthasar triumphantly, and dug his heels into his camel. The reluctant beast bellowed in protest and trotted down the hill. The other three men followed silently.
“So, Shazbah, my friend,” said Melchior later as they arrived at the village. “It is good to be here at long last. Do you think it will be worth it?”
“Yes, I do Melchior, but my bones are weary and I long to be back on the green shores of the Euphrates with my wife and children.”
Melchior laughed. “Ah, Shazbah, ever the family man. Yes, well, at least my faithful camel will be happier on the way back without the gold I have bought for the young king. What gift did you bring, Shazbah?”
“A fruit cake.”
“My wife made it. She said the family would appreciate some home baking.”
Melchior shook his head in disbelief. “A fruit cake. What will the historians make of that, I wonder?”