Full and joyous was the meeting of the three; and when the sun went to rest they sought shelter among the people.
With the uplifted eyes of Faith, the clear, soul-speaking face of Hope, and the tender, forgiving words of Charity, their united force was great.
Some of the people at first refused to admit the last comer into their dwellings.
“Faith, with her lovely eyes, and Hope, with her bright ways, are good enough,” they said; “and why need they bring this pale, fragile one to earth?”
But when once she had spoken, either in council or rebuke, to her listeners, there was melody and richness in her tones: such an awakening of their souls’ finer powers that they ever after bade her welcome.
Her strength lay in her gentleness. She always went when called for, but never obtruded herself on others. Very often her sisters were invited to the feast of the people without her. It took time for her quality to be known: she was so still and silent. Her step, too, was noiseless, and her delicate feet left no prints where she trod.
Before she grew into favor with the people they used to watch for her footprints to see whose guest she had been; but they found no traces, and learned to entertain her after a long time for the lovely qualities which she possessed.
They walk the earth now, each loved and entertained by many, while some sit in the shadows, and know not that earth has the angels of Faith, Hope, and Charity to bless them.
A wise parent sent his children to a distant country to learn the lessons of life which experience alone can teach. Before their departure he called them to him, and, after providing them liberally with means, told them that at their return he would listen to their several experiences; at the same time telling them to use the means which he had given them well—neither to hoard, nor spend them unwisely; above all, not to bring them back in their original form, but a full equivalent therefore, either in spiritual or material things.
A year had scarcely passed, when, as the father sat looking at the western sky, the youngest son came running breathlessly up the path.
“So soon returned?” asked his father—which caused a look of disappointment to pass over the face of the youth; and his words were shaded with regret as he replied, “I thought you would be glad to see me, and would rejoice that I got through so quickly.”
“Not so, my son,” replied the father. “You cannot, in the brief time you have been absent, have performed many, if any, deeds of goodness compared with what you might have done by tarrying longer; and your gold—you surely cannot have used it all in so brief a period.”
“Why, I’ve brought all the money back you gave me, father. You see, I got through without its costing me a penny.”