He determined to have his portrait painted by the best painter he could find. He would not consider the cost. Why should he? He was worth—at the thought the seven gleaming figures flashed out clear between his eyes and the portrait in his hand.
Livingstone turned suddenly and faced himself in the full length mirror at his side. The light caught him exactly and he stood and looked himself full in the face. What he saw horrified him. He felt his heart sink and saw the pallor settle deeper over his face. His hair was almost white. He was wrinkled. His eyes were small and sharp and cold. His mouth was drawn and hard. His cheeks were seamed and set like flint. He was a hard, wan, ugly old man; and as he gazed, unexpectedly in the mirror before his eyes, flashed those cursed figures.
With almost a cry Livingstone turned and looked at the portraits on the wall. He half feared the sharp figures would appear branded across those faces. But no, thank God! the figures had disappeared. The two faces beamed down on him sweet and serene and comforting as heaven.
Under an impulse of relief Livingstone flung himself face downward on the bed and slipped to his knees. The position and the association it brought fetched to his lips words which he used to utter in that presence long years ago.
It had been long since Livingstone had prayed. He attended church, but if he had any heart it had not been there. Now this prayer came instinctively. It was simple and childish enough: the words that he had been taught at his mother’s knee. He hardly knew he had said them; yet they soothed him and gave him comfort; and from some far-off time came the saying, “Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter—” and he went on repeating the words.
Another verse drifted into his mind: “And he took a child and set him in the midst of them, and said, * * * Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
The events of the evening rose up before Livingstone—the little girl in her red jacket, with her tear-stained face, darting a look of hate at him; the rosy-cheeked boys shouting with glee on the hillside, stopped in the midst of their fun, and changing suddenly to yell their cries of hate at him; the shivering beggar asking for work,—for but five cents, which he had withheld from him.
Livingstone shuddered. Had he done these things? Could it be possible? Into his memory came from somewhere afar off: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
There flashed through his mind the thought, might he not retrieve himself? Was it too late? Could he not do something for some one?—perhaps, for some little ones?