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Horace Elisha Scudder

Abraham and the Old Man

The patriarch Abraham sat at the door of his tent. It was evening, when he was wont to watch for any strangers who might pass by, for all such he bade enter his tent. He espied an old man coming toward him, leaning on his staff, weary with travel and bent with age, for he was a hundred years old.

Abraham rose and asked the old man to come into the tent. He washed his feet, gave him the best seat, and set meat before him. The old man ate his supper in silence, but he offered no prayer before he ate.

"Why dost thou not first worship the God of heaven?" asked Abraham.

"I worship fire only; I know no other God," said the old man.

At that Abraham was very angry and drove his guest out into the dark night. Then God called Abraham and said to him:—

"Where is that stranger who was in thy tent?"

"I thrust him out," said the patriarch, "because he did not worship Thee."

Then God answered Abraham out of heaven:—

"I have suffered him these hundred years, although he did not honor me, and couldst thou not endure him one night when he gave thee no trouble?"

Then was Abraham very sorry, and went and brought the old man back, and gave him rest and sent him on his way in the morning.