The Inn That Missed Its Chance

The Inn That Missed Its Chance

By Amos Russel Wells

 

(The Landlord Speaks, A.D. 28)

 

What could be done? The inn was full of folks!

His honor, Marcus Lucius, and his scribes

Who made the census: honorable men

From farthest Galilee, come hitherward

To be enrolled; high ladies and their lords;

The rich, the rabbis, such a noble throng

As Bethlehem had never seen before

And may not see again. And there they were,

Close-herded with their servants, till the inn

Was like a hive at swarming-time, and I

Was fairly crazed among them.

 

Could I know

That they were so important? Just the two,

No servants, just a workman sort of man,

Leading a donkey, and his wife thereon

Drooping and pale,–I saw them not myself,

My servants must have driven them away;

But had I seen them,–how was I to know?

Were inns to welcome stragglers, up and down

In all our towns from Beersheba to Dan,

Till He should come? And how were men to know?

 

There was a sign, they say, a heavenly light

Resplendent: but I had no time for stars,

And there were songs of angels in the air

Out on the hills; but how was I to hear

Amid the thousand clamors of an inn?

Of course, if I had known them, who they were,

And who was He that should be born that night,–

For now I learn that they will make Him King,

A second David, who will ransom us

From these Philistine Romans,–who but He

That feeds an army with a loaf of bread,

And if a soldier falls, He touches him

And up he leaps, uninjured?—Had I known,

I would have turned the whole inn upside down,

His honor, Marcus Lucius, and the rest,

And sent them all to stables, had I known.

 

So you have seen Him, stranger, and perhaps

Again may see Him? Prithee say for me,

I did not know; and if He comes again

As He will surely come, with retinue,

And banners, and an army, tell my Lord

That all my inn is His to make amends.

 

Alas! Alas! to miss a chance like that!

This inn that might be chief among them all,

The birthplace of Messiah,–had I known!