The Prince's Visit
T was a holiday in the city, for the
Prince was to arrive. As soon as the
cannon should sound, the people might
know that the Prince had landed from
the steamer; and when they should
hear the bells ring, that was much the same as being
told that the Mayor and Aldermen and City Councillors
had welcomed the Prince by making speeches,
and shaking hands, and bowing, and drinking wine;
and that now the Prince, dressed in splendid clothes,
and wearing a feather in his cap, was actually on his
way up the main street of the city, seated in a
drawn by four
It was holiday in the stores and in the
Since he had heard of the Prince's coming, Job had
thought and dreamed of nothing else; and when he found
that they were to have a holiday on his arrival, he was
almost beside himself. He bought a picture of the
Prince, and pinned it up on the wall over his bed; and
when he came home at night, tired and hungry, he would
sit down by his mother, who mended rents in the clothes
brought to the laundry, and talk
about the Prince until he could not keep his eyes open
longer; then his mother would kiss him and send him to
bed, where he knelt down and prayed the Lord to keep
the Prince, and then slept and dreamed of him, dressing
him in all the gorgeous colors that his poor
imagination could devise, while his mother worked late
in her solitary room, thinking of her only boy; and
when she knelt down at night, she prayed the Lord to
keep him, and then slept, dreaming also, but with
various fancies; for sometimes she seemed to see Job
like his dead father,—strong and handsome and brave
To-day he hurried so fast that he was panting for want of breath when he reached the shed-like house where they lived. His mother was watching for him, and he came in nodding his head and rubbing his warm face.
"The cannon has gone off, mother!" said he, in great excitement. "The Prince has come!"
"Everything is ready, Job," said his mother. "You will find all your things in a row on the bed"; and Job tumbled into his room to dress himself for the holiday. Everything was there as his mother had said; all the old things renewed, and all the new things pieced together that she had worked on so long, and every stitch of which Job had overlooked and almost directed. If there had but been time to spare, how Job would have liked to turn round and round before his scrap of looking-glass; but there was no time to spare, and so in a very few minutes he was out again, and showing himself to his mother.
"Isn't it splendid?" said he, surveying himself from top to toe, and looking with special admiration on a white satin scarf that shone round his throat in dazzling contrast to the dingy coat, and which had in it an old brooch which Job treasured as the apple of his eye. Job's mother, too, looked at them both; and though she smiled and did not speak, it was only—brave woman!—because she was choking, as she thought how the satin was the last remnant of her wedding-dress, and the brooch the last trinket left of all given to her years back.
"If you would only have let me wear the feather, mother!" said Job, sorrowfully, in regretful remembrance of one he had long hoarded, and which he had begged hard to wear in his hat.
"You look splendidly, Job, and don't need it," said she, cheerfully; "and, besides, the Prince wears one, and what would he think if he saw you with one, too?"
"Sure enough!" said Job, who had not thought of that before; and then he kissed her and started off; while she stood at the door looking anxiously after him. "I don't believe," said he, aloud, as he went up the court, "that the Prince would mind my wearing a feather; but mother didn't want me to. Hark there are the bells! Yes, he has started!" and Job, forgetting all else, pushed eagerly on. It was a long way from the laundry to his home, and it was a long way, too, from his home to the main street; and so Job had no time to spare if he would get to the crowd in season to see the grand procession, for he wanted to see it all,—from the policemen who cleared the way to the noisy omnibuses and carts that led business once more up the holiday street.
On he shambled, knocking against the flag-stones and
nearly precipitating himself down areas and unguarded
"He is sick!" said Job, and looked uneasily about. There was no one near. "Hilloa!" cried Job, in distress; but no one heard except the black, who raised his eyes again to him, and essayed to move. Job started toward him.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" sounded in the distant street. The roar of the cheering beat against the houses, and at intervals came gusts of music. Poor Job trembled.
"The Prince is coming!" said he; and he turned as if to run. But the poor black would not away from his eyes. "He might die while I was gone," said he, and he turned again to lift him up. "He is sick!" he said, again. "I will take him home to mother."
"Hurrah! hurrah! there he is! the Prince the Prince!"
And the dull roar of the cheering, which had been
growing louder and louder, now broke into sharp ringing
huzzas as the grand possession passed the head of the
cross street. In the carriage, drawn by four
Weak Job, wiping the tears from his eyes, heard the sound from afar, but he saw no sight save the poor black whom he lifted from the ground. No sight? Yes, at that moment he did. In that quiet street, standing by the black boy, poor Job—weak Job, whom people pitied—saw a grander sight than all the crowd in the brilliant main street.
Well mightst thou stand in dumb awe, holding by the
hand the helpless black, poor Job! for in that instant
thou didst see with undimmed eyes a pageant such as
poor mortals may but whisper of,—even the Prince of
Life with his attendant angels moving before thee:
yes, and on thee did the Prince look with love, and in
thy ears did the heavenly choir and the multitudinous
voices of gathered saints sing, for of old were the
words written, and now thou didst hear them spoken to
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
"For whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me."
Weak Job, too, had seen the Prince pass.