“You have done kindly by me in calling”—the vagabond had finished his story and was standing, a very abject figure, among the books—“and in giving me the message from your friend. I am truly thankful that he is now labouring—in iron, did you say?—and I hope he may be a cunning artificer.
“You will not set it down to carelessness that I cannot quite recall the face of your friend, for, indeed, it is my privilege to see many travellers, and there are times when I may have been a minister to them on their journeys, as I would be to you also if there be anything in which I can serve you. It grieves me to say that I have no clothing that I might offer you; it happens that a very worthy man passed here a few days ago most insufficiently clad and . . . but I should not have alluded to that; my other garments, save what I wear, are . . . kept in a place of . . . safety by my excellent housekeeper, and she makes their custody a point of conscience; you might put the matter before her. . . . Assuredly it would be difficult, and I crave your pardon for putting you in an . . . embarrassing position; it is my misfortune to have to-day neither silver nor gold,”—catching sight of Carmichael in the passage, “This is a Providence. May I borrow from you, John, some suitable sum for our brother here who is passing through adversity?”
[Illustration: “Some suitable sum for our brother here who is passing through adversity”]
“Do not be angry with me, John”—after the tramp had departed, with five shillings in hand and much triumph over Carmichael on his face—“nor speak bitterly of our fellow-men. Verily theirs is a hard lot who have no place to lay their head, and who journey in weariness from city to city. John, I was once a stranger and a wayfarer, wandering over the length and breadth of the land. Nor had I a friend on earth till my feet were led to the Mains, where my heart was greatly refreshed, and now God has surrounded me with young men of whose kindness I am not worthy; wherefore it becometh me to show mercy unto others”; and the Rabbi looked at Carmichael with such sweetness that the lad’s sullenness began to yield, although he made no sign.
“Moreover,” and the Rabbi’s voice took a lower tone, “as often as I look on one of those men of the highways, there cometh to me a vision of Him who was an outcast of the people, and albeit some may be as Judas, peradventure one might beg alms of me, a poor sinful man, some day, and lo it might be . . . the Lord himself in a saint”; and the Rabbi bowed his head and stood awhile much moved.
“Rabbi,” after a pause, during which Carmichael’s face had changed, “you are incorrigible. For years we have been trying to make you a really good and wise man, both by example and precept, and you are distinctly worse than when we began—more lazy, miserly, and uncharitable. It is very disheartening.