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attend him, and displayed some beautiful pieces of fine cloth, which he praised with great eloquence.
" These are real Flemish cloths,” he said. “I procure them from the first manufacturers. Feel this, sir! what a texture ! so fine and soft, and yet so firm. It is a splendid material. I have worn a coat of this myself, and I would recommend it to my best friend."
“And what would a coat of it amount to ?” asked the minister.
The draper calculated the number of yards required, and answered that the coat would come, at the lowest price, to two pounds ten.
The poor purchaser was thunder-struck. He had only three guineas altogether, and after paying for the making of his coat what would be left to buy linen? They showed him cheaper cloths, but they looked coarse and frightful after the finer material. He stood for a moment sad and undecided; then taking a furtive glance at his dress, he discovered that his old coat, if not too severely criticised, was not so bad after all, and that with care it would last for a while longer.
His decision was soon made. He resolved on beating a' retreat, and staromering some excuse to the draper, he hastily left the shop.
When he found himself safe in the street, he breathed more freely. He had escaped from the terrible alternative of making a ruinous purchase, or encountering the indignant looks of the disappointed draper. He slackened his speed. Many thoughts occupied his mind, and he pondered them in silence. “Since the coat can wait,” he said to himself, “the linen can wait too.” Then resuming his rapid pace, he pursued his way, looking from side to side as if in search of something. He passed the place where the little beggar had accosted him a few minutes before, but he was now no longer to be seen. At last, after wandering from street to street for nearly an hour, he thought he saw his little ragged acquaintance still asking alms. And so it proved.
"Well,” said the minister, "have you taken your money home ?”
“Not yet,” said the child. “And why not?”
“Because I was hoping to get a little more. They have nothing at all at home.”
"Show me the money I gave you."
The child took it out of his pocket. It was ihe same little coin the minister had given him, and he had nothing more.
"Take me to your parents," said the minister. Although astonished at such a request the child did not hesitate to comply. He led the way through several narrow streets, and at last stopped in a dark squalid court. He then opened the door of his home. It was now twilight, and in this place all was so dim, that our friend could scarcely distinguish the painful scene before him.
The father and mother were lving on the bare floor, supporting their heads against the wall. They looked the picture of misery and despair. When the door opened, two little half naked girls flew in terror to their parents for refuge. The air was close and noisome. Neither chairs, tables, nor bed were to be seen,—nothing but the four walls. The minister, overcome at the sight of such misery, stood motionless on the threshold. At last he drew nearer.
"I am come," he said, kindly, "to make inquiries^ into your state, which appears to be very sad."
A groan was the only reply.
"You are both ill. Tell me what you require. I will help you to the utmost of my power."
It took a little time before he could clearly understand the account which the husband and wife gave him in broken words. Both had been sufferers for a long time, and now health seemed quite gone. The husband, a ropemaker by trade, had been frequently obliged to leave off work through illness. Tortured by anxiety and care he had grown worse and worse, till he was at last quite laid aside. Then the rent fell due. The landlord gave them eight days' grace; but when no money was forthcoming, he seized everything they had, tables, beds, chairs,—all their furniture. Then indeed their misery reached its height.
"Have you no doctor?" asked the visitor.
"No, none." ,.
"How do you get food to eat?"
"Alas! only by our little boy's begging."
"And the other children."
"Oh," said the poor mother, "they are starving like ourselves."
At these words she burst into tears, or rather into soh and cries, in which the children joined. It was a heartrending scene. The room was now almost dark. It was full of sounds of grief, but nothing was now to be seen. The minister, greatly moved, waited in silence till all was quiet.
"Be comforted," he then said; "our God knows your troubles. He will help you. It is He who has sent me to you. I leave you now for a few minutes, but I will return. You may expect me."
He went out. "When he reached the street he stood still a moment to breathe the fresh air. Then he went and bought a small lamp and a can of oil, and returned to bring light into the miserable dwelling.
Directly he could see his way he opened the windows to change the air. He then took the boy out with him, and sent him home with a plentiful supply of bread.
He now returned to his own lodging, called his landlady, and asked how soon she could give him a large jug of good strong soup. Happily she had some made, only needing to be warmed up, a necessary preparation, as there was neither fire nor saucepan at the poor rope-maker's.
And now, in the darkness of the evening, our friend again set out. He walked slowly and cautiously, laden with his jug of hot soup, half a dozen bowls, and as many spoons.
What was the astonishment of the starving family! The poor mother, especially, seemed almost beside herself with gratitude and joy.
The minister presided at the simple feast. The floor served as a table. The lamp was placed in the centre. The family drew round, all sitting on the ground,—the minister as well as the others; but he did not take his place until with clasped hands and a voice of deep feeling, he had said,—
"Come, Lord Jesus, be thou our host, and graciously bless this food, which thy goodness has given us."
The meal was peaceful and joyous. The poor mother shed tears of happiness at seeing her children at length able to satisfy their hunger. "When supper was ended, the Christian friend took a book from his pocket and read aloud, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want:" and the whole of that lovely psalm, which was indeed a balm—a precious balm to the afflicted family.
"Good night," he then said, "good night to you all," and he shook hands with every one from the eldest to the youngest. "Good night! you shall see me to-morrow. May God give you peaceful sleep."
In comforting this poor family the young minister had followed the impulse of his heart; but now, before doing more, he was anxious to ascertain whether they were worthy of his continued interest. Accordingly the very same night he made inquiries of some respectable neighbours, and of the clergyman, and was the more disposed to pursue his benevolent work when he found that the misery of these poor people was entirely the result of sickness and adverse circumstances beyond their power Jo control. When he returned to his own little room he remained for a long time absorbed in thought. At times he prayed with fervour, and then again relapsed into silent reflection. The night was far advanced when at last his light was extinguished, and his eyes closed in sleep.
Next morning our friend went to a doctor, and requested him to visit his proteges, begging him to order all that was necessary for them. His second visit was to the landlord, a man well known to be a miser. The minister paid him fifteen shillings, and managed the call so well that the landlord agreed to wait for the rest, and at once to restore the furniture he had seized.
The excellent young man did not end there. He engaged a neighbour to be useful to the poor sick people, to attend to the children and keep the room clean, until the mother should be strong enough to exert herself. His landlady agreed to supply strengthening soups, and provide whatever nourishment was ordered by the doctor. Frequently did the young minister now bend his steps to the ropemaker's dwelling, and he never did so without feeling something of that solemnity and love which the Christian experiences when he enters the house of God. He now felt the meaning and force of the Saviour's words, "I was hungry, and ye gave me meat. I was sick, and ye visited me."
At length, thanks to the constant care bestowed on them, the invalids were quite restored, and at the same time, through the teaching and the prayers of their pious friend, a new life began for them—a life of faith and love, to which hitherto they had been utter strangers.
But what was become of our friend's savings? Truly they were considerably diminished: scarcely thirty shillings now remained in the treasury. The young benefactor, following the example of the good Samaritan, sought to complete the work he had begun. He gave the entire sum to the poor rope-maker, which enabled him to resume his trade, although at first on a very small scale.
At length the time came when our young minister was fo be removed from the family whose deliverer he had been. On returning home one evening he found a letter announcing his appointment to a pastoral charge. His] prayers were answered. His hopes realised. He had a flock committed to his care, and was relieved from all pressure of worldly anxiety.
It was not without regret that he took leave of those whom he had so generously aided in their day of distress. He loved them like members of his own family, and the sacrifices he had made for them had enriched himself.
As he packed his wardrobe on the eve of his departure.' he thought with emotion of the day when he had denied himself the black coat and the new linen, and with a heart overflowing with gratitude he exclaimed, "Oh, how the Lord has enriched me with those three guineas! To Him be glory and praise for ever."
FRUIT AFTEK MANY DAYS.
A TBDE .NARRATIVE.
Some years ago it devolved on me to form a tract district in the neglected and unfrequented outskirts of a large city. The streets and lanes wore a most repulsive aspect of squalid poverty, and presented objects revolting to every sense. The region was so barbarous that I afterwards discovered a policeman had followed me at a convenient distance to watch my proceedings, deeming that I must have mistaken my way. My first salutation was a stone from the hand of a dirty urchin. Perceiving that it was flung more in the spirit of mischief than of malice, and strong in my faith of Divine protection, I pursued my course without betraying any perception of the missile. This appeared to disarm my youthful assailants, and I heard their whisperings behind me, expressive first of amazement, then of curiosity. Suddenly 1 thought I could possibly enlist them as allies, and turning with a handful of little