Charity

St. Drostan’s Day, the eighth year in the reign of King Richard

beggarToday I handed over my last farthing to a beggar dressed in filthy rags. Is this not the season for thinking of the poor? Though now, come to think of it, I am just as poor as that beggar!

Well, that is not entirely so. For I do have a roof over my head and food on the hearth and friends to warm my humor. It will not be too long till I can earn the coin again. And I do recall that it was not so long ago that I was in similar straights as that dire fellow, begging for scraps and looking toward the future with a bleak eye.

There is snow in London and I always feel keenly the cold at such a time. I used to stand in those drifts as well. And so with my last farthing I could at least bring small joy to another of God’s creatures. Though now, as I look up the icy stair to my lodgings, I know that a young apprentice will scold me for my lack of funds. Was I not to bring home meat to the table? Ah well.

With a weary heart, I trudged up the steps, mindful of their slipperiness, and opened the door. I felt the warmth instantly. Our shutters were closed tight and the room was dark, but a candle burned merrily on the table, a fire crackled in the hearth, and a coney roasted over the flames, its sweet aroma filling my nostrils. Where on God’s earth had Jack gotten a rabbit?

He was kneeling by the hearth and looked up at me, mischief twinkling in his eye. And it was by that that I knew better than to ask. Instead, I shook the snow off my cloak, hung it by the door, and settled in my chair, where Jack handed me a bowl of warmed wine.

Even without a farthing to my name, I can sometimes find riches.