THE WOLF’S TALE
A STORY FOR TELLING AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
One evening quite late in the year, Wolf was getting ready to go on his nightly prowl in search of food. A light powdering of fresh snow lay on the ground and Wolf sniffed the clear air. The sky was all lit up with stars but, over there, was a star that was so much brighter than all the others. Wolf went to explore.
Wolf scampered quickly down the fields to the big gate in the wall of the city – it was, of course, the city of Bethlehem. But men don’t like wolves so he had to walk in the shadow of the walls in the hope of not being seen. His nose told him that he was going in the right direction, as tantalizing odours of stew and roast meat came wafting out of the courtyard of an inn.
He slipped in and sat down to wait. People were sitting on mats in the courtyard, grouped around small fires. Children were running around playing; camels and donkeys were tethered nearby and had already been given their evening meal of hay and oats. Wolf was in luck: somebody discarded a bone which still had some meat on it. He crept forward and, in a flash, had the bone in his mouth and vanished from sight.
In actual point of fact, he had gone behind the camels and donkeys to enjoy his meal in peace.
Having satisfied his hunger, Wolf thought he’d have a look around and what better place to start than one of the outbuildings?
“You mustn’t go in there”, warned one of the camels.
“Why not?” asked the wolf.
“Did you notice that very bright star in the sky tonight?” asked one of the donkeys.
“Indeed I did, and it is hovering right over that there stable”, replied Wolf.
“A wonderful thing has happened tonight”, began another camel, “a baby has been born in that very stable, and everybody is talking about it!”
“And why is that?” asked Wolf.
“There is an ancient prophecy which says that a baby shall be born in Bethlehem; a baby who will grow up to become the Saviour of the World!”
Donkey added: “Yes, and people have been coming and going all evening. Some of them have brought gifts for the baby and his mother.”
“But how do they know that this baby is the one foretold in the prophecy?” asked Wolf.
“The star! A star like this has not been seen for hundreds of years! It must mean that something very important has happened!”
“In that case, you are quite right and I won’t go and disturb their rest”, said Wolf. “Do you mind if I rest here with you for a few hours?” (Usually a lone animal, he had begun to enjoy a bit of company.)
The camels and donkeys considered this for a few minutes.
“Well, as you have already eaten, and if you promise not to bite, we’ll let you stay here with us”, they decided.
And thus it came to pass that the wolf did indeed,
on that night,
near that stable,
in that inn in Bethlehem,
dwell peacefully with other animals
because a little child had been born, just as Isaiah prophesised all those years ago.