It is not the clothes that make the man, for here was a man who hadn’t anything in the way of clothes, but you could tell by looking at him that he was a gentleman. I just stood and looked at him as he helped the other fellow on with the coat. I thought it one of the grandest acts I ever saw. He was following Christ’s command about the man having two coats giving his brother one. I saw the man had on an overcoat, but, even so, it was a grand act, and I told him so.
I did not see him again for some time, when one night, about a week after the coat affair, I saw him sitting among the men at the Doyer Street Midnight Mission, of which I had charge. I went over where he was sitting and while shaking hands with him said, “Say, that was the grandest act you ever did when you gave that man your coat. What did you do it for? You don’t seem to have any too much of this world’s goods. How did it happen? Are you a Christian? Who are you?” He looked at me a moment and said, “Mr. Ranney, if I can go into your office I’ll tell you all about it.”
We went into the office, and he said, “How did you find me out?” Well, the question was a queer one to me. How did I find him out? I didn’t know what he meant, but I didn’t tell him so; I just smiled.
Well, he said he was a French Count (which was true), over here writing a book about the charitable institutions in the United States. He had been in Chicago, San Francisco, and in fact, all over the States, for points for his book. He told me what he had and hadn’t done. He had worked in wood-yards for charity organizations; had given himself up and gone to the Island; stood in bread-lines; in fact, he had done everything the tramp does when he is “down and out.”
I took quite a fancy to him. He took me up to his room in Eighteenth Street, showed me his credentials, and we became quite chummy. We used to do the slums act, and I would put on an old suit of clothes so I wouldn’t be known. We would stand in the bread-line just like the rest of them and get our roll and coffee. It reminded me of my old life, and sometimes I would imagine I was “down and out” again, but it’s different when you have a little change in your pocket. A dollar makes a big difference, and you can never appreciate the feelings of a poor “down and out” if you never were there yourself.
We had been going around together for about three or four weeks when one day he showed me a cable dispatch from Paris telling him he was wanted and to come at once. We had had a nice time together and I was sorry he was going.
He asked me for one of my pictures to put in his book, which I gave him. Then he wanted to know what he could do for me. I thought a moment, then said, “Give the poor fellows a feed Sunday night.” I was the Sunday night leader and I wanted him on the platform. He said, “All right. Be at the Mission Sunday afternoon.”