Angel walked into the abandoned, run-down, two-room shack that she called home. Although the thin walls did little to keep her warm, they did keep out the snow.
A small, but cheerful voice called from the inner room. “Angel! You’re back!”
Angel forced a smile. “Hello, Kayla. Yes, I’m back. How are you feeling today?” She entered the smaller room where two ancient cots sat. A small, fragile girl with mouse-brown hair sat on one of them.
Kayla, for that was the girl’s name, looked up and smiled a real, genuine smile at Angel. “I think I’m better. I haven’t been as tired, and I’m coughing better.” A sudden spasm of harsh coughs suddenly attacked Kayla, as if to belie her words.
Angel struggled to keep her fake smile in place. “Well, I’m glad you’re feeling better.” She pulled out the bag that Lady Leslie had given her. “Let’s see what’s in here. The lady who gave this to me was the only one who didn’t just toss me a few pennies, if they gave me that much.”
Kayla’s grey eyes sparkled, making her look like an angel or a fairy in Angel’s eyes. “Open it!”
Angel slowly opened the bag and gasped. “A feast, Kayla! She gave us a feast!” One after another, Angel pulled out small loaves of sweet bread, hunks of cheese, and cookies. She handed one loaf to Kayla. “Here. Let me know when you’re ready for some cheese.”
Kayla accepted the loaf. “Don’t forget, we need to thank the Great King before we eat. He gave us this.”
Angel shifted uncomfortably and barely kept from scowling. “You do it, alright?” Not that there’s much reason to.
Kayla nodded, then looked up to the rafters and said “Great King, we thank You for this feast you’ve given us. Please bless the people You used to supply this, and bless Angel, for she takes such good care of me. Thank You for our lives and thank You for our home. Amen.” Kayla tore into her loaf. “Yum!”
Angel nibbled on her own bit of bread. It was fresh and soft, with raisins in it, a real treat. “It is good. Kayla, why do you bother with that?”
Kayla looked inquiringly at Angel. “Bother with what?”
Angel waved her free hand. “You know. Thanking the Great King.”
Kayla smiled. “The Great King gives us all we have, including our lives. We may not have much, but the least we can do is thank Him for it. Don’t you agree?”
Angel made no reply.
Later, after their small dinner had been eaten, the rest of their food was carefully put away, and Kayla was sound asleep in her cot with a thin, worn blanket pulled over her, Angel finally allowed her forced smile to drop. Her face settled into a scowl, and she threw herself onto her cot, ignoring the groans of protest that emerged from it. How can Kayla believe in that old legend? If the Great King is real, then why are we poor? And why is Kayla sick? This illness makes it so bad that she’s always coughing and she’s always tired! Why believe in a Great King when he doesn’t exist? Why even celebrate Yuletide? It was with these thoughts in mind that Angel drifted into an uneasy sleep.
At that same moment, Dustin stood at the large window in his room, staring into the night. “Why, me King?” he asked, seemingly to no one. “Why must wee lasses like Angel b’ left on the streets t’ beg for their bread? The lass cannot possibly b’ more than thirteen, but I saw hurt in her eyes, Great King. Why, I b’ askin’ Yu! Why?”