This is Part II of a two-part Christmas fable. Read Part I here.
"Baboushka was a determined woman, and as wise as the astrologers. Although she hadn't the learning to interpret the skies, the significance of the new star was clear to her. It was the portent of great change in the affairs of humanity. And this change would come, the astrologers had said, by the birth of a child.
"She decided to spend the night tidying her home and packing for the journey. Tomorrow she would rest. Once evening came, she would go to Ashaba, the village elder, and ask to borrow his best camel. She would offer all her savings, small as they were, for this privilege. Then she would follow the star, and make haste to join the astrologers on their journey.
"So Baboushka, working the hardest she had in her life, tidied and cleaned her home, and packed the belongings she needed for the journey. By sunrise, she was exhausted. She took her breakfast, double-checked she'd packed her special gift for the child, then collapsed into bed.
"She woke long before sunset, and spent the afternoon bargaining with Ashaba. He would never give his best camel for the price she was offering, he said, and certainly not to a woman. Baboushka pressured and persuaded with all her determination. Eventually, he reluctantly agreed to loan her a camel, though the one he gave her was the oldest and the slowest in his flock. She took the camel home, loaded her bags onto its back, and waited for sunset.
"Sunset eventually arrived, but no matter how hard Baboushka looked, she could not see the star. Had she dreamed the visit of the wise men last night? Had the magical story of the astrologers enchanted her into seeing things? Like all people with a great calling, Baboushka doubted herself, but she knew she could not miss seeing this child if what the astrologers had said was true.
"So she set off without the star to guide her, following the direction out of the village she'd seen the astrologers leave.
"Day and night she travelled, but Baboushka never reached the wise men. She pushed her camel harder and faster than it had ever ridden before, but every village she arrived in, the wise men had already passed through.
"With the help of kind strangers who had met the astrologers on their journey, Baboushka arrived in Bethlehem, the village where the Christ-child was born. But by the time she discovered the precise place of his birth, the cave was empty."
"Why?" Artiom asked.
"The Christ-child's parents had fled to another country. Herod, the ruler of Bethlehem, heard that the newborn child would become a king. Herod was afraid for his throne and wanted to kill the child."
"Did Herod kill him?" Artiom gripped Grandmama's hand.
"No, Artiom, the child escaped safely. But Baboushka never found him to share her special gift."
"What did she do with it, Grandmama?"
"Baboushka didn't know the Christ-child had fled to another country. She searched all of Bethlehem for a newborn child, and left her gift with the first baby she found in case he was the Messiah. Then with hands weary from her journey, she stitched together another special gift, and searched for another child to share it with in case he or she was the Messiah.
"Still, today, Baboushka continues her search for the child. Every Advent, she rides Ashaba's camel across the whole world to search for the Christ-child, in case the Messiah has come to earth again.
"With each child she finds during her search, Baboushka is never sure whether he or she is the Messiah. So she leaves a gift for all children."
"For me too?" asked Artiom.
Grandmama smiled. "For you too, child."
"Does she think I'm the Messiah, God's special one?"
"Maybe she does," Grandmama replied.
"And what do you think, Grandmama?"
"Me?" Grandmama laughs. "I agree with Baboushka."