Dream Tales and Prose Poems/Poems in Prose/The Beggar

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

THE BEGGAR

I was walking along the street . . . I was stopped by a decrepit old beggar.

Bloodshot, tearful eyes, blue lips, coarse rags, festering wounds. . . . Oh, how hideously poverty had eaten into this miserable creature!

He held out to me a red, swollen, filthy hand. He groaned, he mumbled of help.

I began feeling in all my pockets. . . . No purse, no watch, not even a handkerchief. . . . I had taken nothing with me. And the beggar was still waiting . . . and his outstretched hand feebly shook and trembled.

Confused, abashed, I warmly clasped the filthy, shaking hand . . . 'Don't be angry, brother; I have nothing, brother.'

The beggar stared at me with his bloodshot eyes; his blue lips smiled; and he in his turn gripped my chilly fingers.

'What of it, brother?' he mumbled; 'thanks for this, too. That is a gift too, brother.'

I knew that I too had received a gift from my brother.

February 1878.