From their palaces they gathered right gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Great sacks of precious stuffs were loaded on the backs of the camels which were to bear them on their journey. Everything was in readiness, but one of the wise men seemed perplexed and would not come at once to join his two companions, who were eager and impatient to be on their way in the direction indicated by the star.
They were old, these two kings, and the other wise man was young. When they asked him he could not tell why he waited. He knew that his treasures had been ransacked for rich gifts for the King of Kings. It seemed that there was nothing more which he could give, and yet he was not content.
He made no answer to the old men who shouted to him that the time had come. The camels were impatient and swayed and snarled. The shadows across the desert grew longer. And still the young king sat and thought deeply.
At length he smiled, and he ordered his servants to open the great treasure sack upon the back of the first of his camels. Then he went into the high chamber to which he had not been since he was a child. He rummaged about and presently came out and approached the caravan. In his hand he carried something which glinted in the sun.
The kings thought that he carried some new gift more rare and precious than any which they had been able to find in all their treasure rooms. They bent down to see, and even the camel drivers peered from the backs of the great beasts to find out what it was which gleamed in the sun. They were curious about this last gift for which all the caravan had waited.
And the young king took a toy from his hand and placed it upon the sand. It was a dog of tin, painted white, and speckled with black spots. Great patches of paint had worn away and left the metal clear, and that was why the toy shone in the sun as if it had been silver.
The youngest of the wise men turned a key in the side of the little black and white dog and then he stepped aside so that the kings and the camel drivers could see. The dog leaped high in the air and turned a somersault. He turned another and another and then fell over on his side and lay there with a set and painted grin on his face.
A child, the son of a camel driver, laughed and clapped his hands, but the kings were stern. They rebuked the youngest of the wise men and he paid no attention but called to his chief servant to make the first of all the camel kneel. Then he picked up the toy of tin and, opening the treasure sack, placed his last gift with his own hands in the mouth of the sack so that it rested safely upon the soft bags of incense.
"What folly has seized you?" cried the eldest of the wise men. "Is this a gift to bear to the King of Kings in a far country?"
And the young man answered and said: "For the King of Kings there are gifts of great richness, gold and frankincense and myrrh."
"But this," he said, "is for the child in Bethlehem."
- From The Glory and Pageantry of Christmas
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