THREE LEGENDS
OF THE CHRIST CHILD

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II

THE LORDS OF WISDOM

I RECALL from childhood a memory, though I cannot say now how much is old thought drowned in dreams, or how much is due to the ceaseless teller of tales who croons behind the heart and whispers the old enchantment in the twilights of the mind:

One day when the young Christ was nine years old he saw Mary walking by a thicket. He ran and hid in the thicket, and sent three wishes of love to her, and gave to each the beat of two wings and the pulse of song. The first rose on the wings of blue and sank into the sky, carrying a prayer of Mary. The second rose on white wings and fled seawards by the hills of the west, carrying a hope of Mary. The third rose on wings of green, and sank in the grasses, carrying a dream of Mary.

Then a voice came from the thicket: a voice so sweet as to send the birds to the branches; . . . chuireadh e na h'eoin 'an crannaibh:

"The Yellow Star, O Mary, to the bird of the blue wing! . . .
The Rainbow, O Mary, to the white bird! . . .
The wild bee, O Mary, to the green bird! . . ."

At that Mary worshipped. "O God in the thicket," she said, "sweet the songs and great the beauty. But lo! the birds are gone."

Then Christ came out of the thicket and took her hand.

"Mother," said the child, "no trouble to your heart, dear, because of the Yellow Star. Your prayer was that my Father should not forget His secret promise. The sun is steadfast, and so I say that the Yellow Star is set upon your prayer. And no trouble to your heart, Mother, because of the Rainbow to the white bird: for your hope was for the gates of the west and the hidden gardens of Peace: and even now the gates are open, and spices and balms are on the green wave that flows the long way east of the sun and west of the moon. But as to the wild bee, Mother, of that I cannot speak."

At that Mary was sad, for she knew that when a Druid of the East had told her to give her son the friendships of the wind, of the blown dust, of the grass, of the leaf, of the wild bee, she had done all these things but the last. So she stood and wept.

Then the young Christ, her son, called to a bee that was among the foam-white pastures.

"What was your dream, Mother?" he said.

"My dream," said Mary, "was that I should know death at last, for in the flesh I am a woman, and that of me that is mortal desireth death."

So Christ asked the wild bee. But the bee said: "Can you see the nine hundred and ninety-nine secret roads of the air?"

"No," said the child.

"It is on one of these roads," said the wild bee, "that Mary's dream went."

So when Mary, sad at heart, but in this thing only, went back to the house where she dwelt and made ready the supper for that day's end, Christ gave friendship to the wild bee, and became a bee, and floated above the pastures. And when he came home at twilight he knew all the secrets of the little people of the air.

That night, after the meal was done, he stood looking at Mary and Joseph.

"I have known many wisdoms," he said, "but no wisdom like the wisdom of the wild bee. I have whispered to them a secret thing, and through the years and ages they will not forget. And some of the children of men shall hear the wild bees, and many shall call upon them; and to that little clan of the unwise and foolish, as they shall ever be accounted, I will send the wild bees of wisdom and of truth."

And Joseph said, "Are the bees then so wise?"

But Mary whispered, "I do not think it is of the wild bees of the pasture that the Christ my son speaks, but of the wild bees of the spirit."

Christ slept, and put his hand in Mary's, and she had no fear: and that of her which was of heaven deepened in joy, and that of her which was mortal had peace. But Joseph lay awake, and wondered why to a little clan of those held foolish and unwise should come as secret wings in the dark, the sound and breath of an ancient wisdom.

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