No Room in the Inn

T


he story, now a legend, is told how Wallace Purling added a new touch to the Christmas play in a small town in the Midwest. Wallace was a little slow in the learning department. He was nine at the time and should have been in the fourth grade but was still in the second. In spite of his mental slowness, he was liked by the other kids in his class even though he was quite a bit taller and bigger than they.

According to the legend, Wallace fancied being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but the director, Miss Lumbard, thought he might better fit the role of the innkeeper. After all, he wouldn't have too many lines to remember and, because of his size, he would be able to present a more forceful refusal to the much smaller Joseph.

So the big night came. Behind stage, Wallace was so totally engrossed in the play that Miss Lombard had to make sure he didn't wander onstage before his cue.

Then came Wallace's part.

Looking exhausted from the long journey, Joseph and Mary slowly approached the entrance to the inn. Joseph knocked. The door opened immediately, and with Wallace putting on his gruffest voice declared, "What do you want?"

'Seek elsewhere,' Wallace
barked. 'This in is filled.'

"We seek lodging," Joseph replied.

"Seek it elsewhere," Wallace barked. "This inn is filled."

"Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary."

"There's no room in this inn for you," Wallace stated strongly.

"Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired," Joseph pleaded.

For the first time, the innkeeper began to let down his guard and relax a little. There was a long pause ... and silence. Now the audience was beginning to feel tense.

"No! Begone!" whispered the prompter from the wings.

"No!" Wallace repeated automatically. "Begone!"

Joseph looked at Mary, put his arm around her, and with heads bowed in sadness, they slowly walked away.

But the innkeeper didn't close the door and go inside. He stood there with mouth open watching the forlorn couple leaving his inn. He was genuinely upset. His eyes unmistakably filled with tears.

Then totally unexpected, Wallace departed from his memorized script ...

Continued on Page Two


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