“The Tower of David,” the missionary said to my mother.
“No!” I cried with great positiveness.
“You mean that isn’t its name?” the missionary asked.
“Then what is its name, my boy?”
“It’s name is . . .” I began, then concluded lamely, “I, forget.”
“It don’t look the same now,” I went on after a pause. “They’ve ben fixin’ it up awful.”
Here the missionary handed to my mother another photograph he had sought out.
“I was there myself six months ago, Mrs. Standing.” He pointed with his finger. “That is the Jaffa Gate where I walked in and right up to the Tower of David in the back of the picture where my finger is now. The authorities are pretty well agreed on such matters. El Kul’ah, as it was known by—”
But here I broke in again, pointing to rubbish piles of ruined masonry on the left edge of the photograph.
“Over there somewhere,” I said. “That name you just spoke was what the Jews called it. But we called it something else. We called it . . . I forget.”
“Listen to the youngster,” my father chuckled. “You’d think he’d ben there.”
I nodded my head, for in that moment I knew I had been there, though all seemed strangely different. My father laughed the harder, but the missionary thought I was making game of him. He handed me another photograph. It was just a bleak waste of a landscape, barren of trees and vegetation, a shallow canyon with easy-sloping walls of rubble. In the middle distance was a cluster of wretched, flat-roofed hovels.
“Now, my boy, where is that?” the missionary quizzed.
And the name came to me!
“Samaria,” I said instantly.
My father clapped his hands with glee, my mother was perplexed at my antic conduct, while the missionary evinced irritation.
“The boy is right,” he said. “It is a village in Samaria. I passed through it. That is why I bought it. And it goes to show that the boy has seen similar photographs before.”
This my father and mother denied.
“But it’s different in the picture,” I volunteered, while all the time my memory was busy reconstructing the photograph. The general trend of the landscape and the line of the distant hills were the same. The differences I noted aloud and pointed out with my finger.
“The houses was about right here, and there was more trees, lots of trees, and lots of grass, and lots of goats. I can see ’em now, an’ two boys drivin’ ’em. An’ right here is a lot of men walkin’ behind one man. An’ over there”—I pointed to where I had placed my village—“is a lot of tramps. They ain’t got nothin’ on exceptin’ rags. An’ they’re sick. Their faces, an’ hands, an’ legs is all sores.”
“He’s heard the story in church or somewhere—you remember, the healing of the lepers in Luke,” the missionary said with a smile of satisfaction. “How many sick tramps are there, my boy?”