they carried their burdens grudgingly,
splayed, flat feet sliding along the sand.
The riders clicked their tongues and slapped the reins
goading the beasts into a undulating gallop.
The houdah was set in front of the camelšs hump
and the lead rider shifted his weight,
seeking a more comfortable position.
He was of noble blood, a leader among his people,
as were both his companions.
Each was, in his own right, a king.
Statesmen and scientists, they had
independently discovered the star.
Meeting on the journey,
they had shared their knowledge.
After all their waiting and studying and searching,
each recognized that the time was at hand,
and smiles split their faces.
They had followed the star and it had led them here,
to this place, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, in Judea,
far, far from their homes.
Hardship, pain, and treachery had dogged them;
the leader, by right of age and experience, signaled his camel.
The great animal slowly knelt, groaning.
Balthazar slipped down.
"Here," he whispered, as his companions followed.
"He is here."
Caspar looked puzzled.
"A king, born in a cave?"
The third, Melchior was silent.
"This will be a king like no other," Balthazar pronounced.
"He will not have the trappings of wealth or station."
He turned, took a wrapped package off the camelšs back,
the others retrieving their own parcels.
"He will not live in palaces and gardens.
No, not He.
He will reside in menšs hearts,
and teach them love.
He will be the greatest King of all."
Carrying their gifts, the magi climbed the hill and passed into the cave.
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