"Who are all these people?" asked Joseph, turning to the crowd. "And why are they here at this time?"
"That which doubtless brought you, Rabbi--the decree of the Caesar"--the keeper threw an interrogative glance at the Nazarene, then continued--"brought most of those who have lodging in the house. And yesterday the caravan passing from Damascus to Arabia and Lower Egypt arrived. These you see here belong to it-- men and camels."
"Yes, but it is heaped with cargoes--with bales of silk, and pockets of spices, and goods of every kind."
Then for a moment the face of the applicant lost its stolidity; the lustreless, staring eyes dropped. With some warmth he next said, "I do not care for myself, but I have with me my wife, and the night is cold--colder on these heights than in Nazareth. She cannot live in the open air. Is there not room in the town?"
"These people"--the keeper waved his hand to the throng before the door--"have all besought the town, and they report its accommodations all engaged."
Again Joseph studied the ground, saying, half to himself, "She is so young! if I make her bed on the hill, the frosts will kill her."
Then he spoke to the keeper again.
"It may be you knew her parents, Joachim and Anna, once of Bethlehem, and, like myself, of the line of David."