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|Subject: The Three Travellers by Edward D. Hoch Page 6 of 6 Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:32 am
It was after Dibon spoke to Ramoth that the young herdsman confessed his crime and begged forgiveness. When the missing gold had been returned to Gaspar's hands, the others questioned him.
"How did you know it was Ramoth?" Melchior asked. "We barely spoke to the youth. "
"My horse told me, as I told you he would. The horse was hungry, so had not been fed. You see, the thief never touched our other supplies, never unfastened Balthazar's special knot. How could he have found the gold so easily, without searching for it? But the gold was hidden in a sack of grain, and after the fire destroyed the stable, Ramoth came in search of feed for our horses. He came while we were away, and looked in only one place--the grain bag. Feeling the weight of it, his fingers reached through the grain and came upon the gold. He stole it, but then could not take the grain lest we realize he was the thief. So the horses went hungry."
"You are a wise man, Gaspar," Balthazar conceded.
"As we all are. Come, let us mount."
"It will be dark soon," Melchior said.
Gaspar nodded. "We will get bearings from the star."
Dibon was by the well to wish them farewell. "Ramoth will be punished," he promised.
"Show mercy," Gaspar said.
"Do you ride west with your gold?"
"West with gifts for a King. Gold and frankincense and myrrh."
"Good journey," Dibon said.
He watched them for a long time, until the three vanished from sight over the desert wastes.