"For many years I have kept these things and pondered them in my heart. Now, now the hour is here when thou must know them."
She bent so close that a strand of loosened hair swept his forehead.
"In the time before thou wert born came as in a dream a wondrous visitor to me straight from the Father. And that pure, ecstatic messenger announced that the power of the Highest would overshadow me, and that my child was to be the son of the Highest, who should save His people from their sins—the Prince of Peace—the Messiah!"
From the wilderness came a long, melancholy cry, but the rapt boy heard not.
The mother continued in the soft, tender voice that began to tremble with her in her ecstasy.
"This day is thy birthday. Twelve years ago this eventide, when thou camest into the world of men, men came to worship and praise God for thee,—the lowliest and the highest,—as a token that thou wert to be not only Son of God but Son of Man as well. Poor, ignorant shepherds crowded about us in that little stable where we lay, and left the sweet savor of their prayers, and tears, and rejoicings. And great, wise kings from another part of the earth came also."
From beneath the folds of her robe she drew forth by a fine-spun chain an intricately chased casket of soft, yellow gold.
The boy took it dreamily into his hands, and