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     Excerpt from Hadad, The Innkeeper's Journey
     Cradle to Cross Trilogy 
               “Take Heed, take Heed.
Hear this day all who abide in the world of
Caesar Augustus,
the most gracious and righteous Emperor of Rome.
Each one will be inscribed to the census of His Majesty by province of Herod, 
                  our  King of Judea.  Make way to the house of your lineage.
All persons in the sound of my voice, Jew or gentile, slave or free, compliance is     
    decreed this day forth in the lands and possessions of his royal and great Caesar.”

The centurion bellowed the dictate from his stallion from one end of Bethlehem to the other.

“You there, your beer cold?”

“Yes, yes of course.” Hadad had no real choice.

“Fill‘er up, if you know what’s good for you.”

“Yes, yes of course.” Hadad was glad to see the back end of the horse and the soldier.

 The Roman was as big as his horse and smelled like one too. Soldiers seldom stopped in Bethlehem. They didn’t much care for sheep or  shepherds and if it weren’t for sheep and shepherds there wouldn’t be a Bethlehem, and no need for a cozy little inn at the end of town.

 Hadad was born here, so he was not going anywhere to be counted. The same for Beatrice, his wife.

It began.

Just a few at first.

The tired two-tiered structure was not the first choice for a discriminating traveler who had the means to insist on finer things. Their prices reflected that. The rooms were modest, but quiet. The noise of the town was distant, and they had fields out back to accommodate many animals. The inn, shabby some said, but Beatrice’s cooking rivaled any anywhere. Her honey baked bread made grown men drool without shame.

“We should close this dilapidated inn and open my bakery.” She nagged Hadad often.

But not any more. She had new things to nag about.

“Dear, have you seen to the latrine.”

“Yes, just this morning.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

 Hadad knew what she meant. And he knew finally, he could be the one right, this time. The census would bring customers. Perhaps lots of customers.

It could be the best of times.