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THE LITTLE JEW MERCHANT.
(Continued from page 55.)
Finding, however, at length, that the demands upon him, were too frequent and imperious, he resolved to be prudent towards himself and his family, and refused to extend his advances any farther. After this determination, he perceived he was no longer looked upon as formerly; and was considered, from some unknown cause, an enemy of his country. He was feared, misrepresented, proscribed, and finally found himself under the cognizance of the Inquisition. His life was endangered on all hands; and the few who adhered to him in this trying moment, advised him to flee, while he had yet a chance of saving his own life, and the lives of his family. Hastily, therefore, collecting his property, which was chiefly in gold and jewels, he left his house, with his wife and five children, in the night, and proceeded with all speed to Oporto. He there found a ship sailing for England; and placing his wife and children on board, returned to secure his valuable luggage. On his way, he was informed that officers, with full power to take him and his family back to Lisbon, had tracked him to Oporto, and were at that moment in pursuit of him. Anxious only to save his life, he contrived, in disguise, to elude their vigilance; and hurrying to the. quay, embarked, having no other property than the jewels his wife wore.
They lived for some years in London, in obscurity and sorrow, being doomed to see, one after another, of their innocent and helpless children fall victims to their altered circumstances. Left childless, and almost broken-hearted, the once rich and powerful Leucada was doomed to suffer a yet greater misfortune, in the death of his beloved wife, who bequeathed him a helpless infant, then only a few weeks old, now the little merchant, whose story was beginning to interest his auditors.
The infancy of our hero was one of privation and sorrow; an old Jewess was hired to be his nurse, and Leucada, doting on the only child of his exile, watched over him with the anxiety and tenderness of a mother, He had no com
panions in his childhood, save his nurse and father; and when he was old enough to dispense with a female attendant, she was dismissed, except as an occasional assistant in their humble domestic establishment.
About a year before the time when the young Jew made the discovery respecting Mrs. Graham's ring, his father, after having been for some time conscious of his declining health, felt that the season of their separation would soon arrive; and that his beloved and friendless child must be left still more forlorn than he had hitherto been. Benoni knew the family history; but he knew not, till then, how nearly exhausted were the slender finances, which had just kept them above want so long.
Leucada lay on his miserable bed, weak and melancholy. The fate of his child was heavy at his heart; and in the grief of his spirit, he prayed the God of his fathers to remove Benoni, at the same time that he was summoned from the world, that want and wicked men might not make him their prey. Night and day did the poor boy watch by his father. He administered his medicines, smoothed his pillow, and moistened his parched lips. All that love could do, was done by him, but in vain.
At length, the additional expenses attendant on a sick bed, reduced their small finances to the last guinea. Benoni determined to keep this from his father's knowledge, and to convert their remaining jewel, a ring, which his mother had received from Leucada on her wedding-day, into money, to relieve their urgent necessities. This ring, which was of great value, his father had decided to appropriate in establishing Benoni in some respectable way of obtaining his livelihood, when he was old enough to provide for himself. The wants of his father were, however nearest to his heart; so, seizing an opportunity while he slept, he took the ring, intending to offer it to a first-rate jeweller, whose character and standing in the world, would guarantee his honesty.
By ill-fortune, he met a Jew who had occasionally visited his father; one held in high esteem in the synagogue, and of winning address. Kindness always found its way to the heart of Benoni; and this man, in his manner, at least,
had often evinced it towards him. He accosted Benoni with his usual mildness, inquired after his father, and lamented his condition. The unsuspecting boy related to him their circumstances, showing him the ring, and telling him the errand he was then upon. The eyes of the Jew sparkled as he held the ring in his hand; he declared it was worth the price of a king's crown, and proffered as the jeweller was well known to him to transact the business, promising to call on Benoni in the evening. At the same time, he proposed to lend him ten pounds, to be repaid on the sale of the ring. Rejoicing at his good fortune, in having been spared longer absence from his father, and thinking his friend could negotiate the business so much better than himself, he returned feeling happier than he had done for many days.
His feelings of pleasure, however, were of short duration. He found that a sad change had taken place during his absence; aud that his father, though still sensible, was fast declining. The faint smile which for a moment lit up his countenance on the approach of Benoni, soon faded; and motioning for him to lay his head beside him on the pillow, he said in a voice hardly audible, "My dear boy, thy father will soon be taken from thee, leaving thee in a land of strangers. Our God, however, who parted the sea for our fathers, will not forsake thee. Thou art not in penury, my son; for the ring, whose value is immense, will supply thy need; farewell, and may God watch over thee and bless thee!" These were his last words, and before evening, poor Benoni wept over the dead body of his father.
His grief so much absorbed his attention, that it was not till the morrow he remembered the promise of his friend. A moment's alarm passed over his mind, and still more did he feel the reason there was for apprehension, when three, four, and even five days elapsed, without his appearance. The next day, being the one fixed for his father's burial, Benoni felt that he could not leave the body, which he had watched continually: sometimes sitting with most melancholy forebodings beside it; and at others laying his head on his father's pillow, he indulged his tears, till sleep, for a short time, made him forget his sorrows.
After the interment of his father he set out for the house which he knew the Jew occupied. To his horror and grief he found it closed; and was informed by a poor woman from a cellar beneath, that the gentleman had suddenly given up house-keeping a week before, and was gone to Ireland, having had a large fortune left him there. Benoni made no reply; his heart seemed cold within him; so walking on without aim, or even thought, save of his utter misery, and what then seemed folly, he found himself before he was aware, in the silent fields beyond even the suburbs of London, and sitting down on the grass, he wept bitterly.
He, however, found it necessary to do something for his living; and, accordingly, laid out his remaining pittance in furnishing the box which then lay before him, and which had hitherto, he said, sufficiently supplied his wants. "I have," he said, "no one to come forward to vouch for my honesty. The God of our people, who, though he frown on us, has not forsaken us, he only, and the false friend who betrayed me, can tell how true are the words I have spoken."
Benoni's language seemed indeed that of truth. His auditors, whatever might be their suspicious and unfriendly feeling towards him when he commenced, were now convinced of his sincerity.
Colonel Graham hastened to the jeweller from whom he had purchased the ring. From him he obtained a confirmation of Benoni's statement, in the assurance that it was offered to him by a Jew who declared it to be the property of a Portuguese nobleman, then in distress. Benoni was introduced to him, and left to plead his own cause. He related his story with such simplicity and pathos, that the jeweller was warmly interested: and with honourable candour confessed that the sum which he had given to the Jew for the ring, was infinitely below the price he had obtained from the Colonel; and with a generosity as rare, we fear, as it is praiseworthy, he sacrificed the sum he had given, and restored to Benoni its full value.
From want and obscurity the poor boy was thus mi
raculously rescued. Mrs. Graham, with her characteristic kindness and enthusiasm, wore the ring in all companies; and relating its history over and over again, soon made her little protege the distinguished favourite of her numerous friends; and as they all concurred in thinking the lot of a pedlar to be one fraught with many dangers and temptations, they induced the kind jeweller to receive Benoni into his employ.
◄ At the end of five years, the little Jew's property, which had been advantageously invested by his master, enabled him to commence business on his own account, and in conclusion we must remark, that the little Jew merchant, in his after prosperity, never forgot the humility taught him by distress, and never proved unworthy of his kind benefactors.
JUVENILE MISSIONARY MEETING, BRADFORD.
ON Sunday afternoon, January 11th, 1852, a Juvenile Missionary Meeting was held in the Wesleyan Association Chapel, Bradford, Yorkshire; when several interesting addresses were delivered. The Chairman, Mr. James Croxall, sen., opened the Meeting in a very appropriate speech. He was followed by our esteemed minister, the Rev. D Rutherford, Messrs. Wright, Pease, Milbourn, Marchbank, Tate, Saul, and Matthews. Much interest has been created in the mind of the scholars in favour of Christian Missions. The meeting was well attended, and will we doubt not be remembered with pleasure by those who were present.
Four times the usual number of children took out cards to obtain Christmas offerings, and the funds have been proportionately increased. It is the duty of Sunday-school scholars to assist Christian Missions, that they may be instrumental in rescuing the thousands of children from being sacrificed to heathen Idolatry and Superstition. It is the Missionary spirit that prompts the teacher in Sunday-schools to labour to rescue from ignorance and depravity the children in our own lands, many of whom would be otherwise left in almost heathen darkness. We