The hours went by, the passers-by also. The little stove continued to rumble and Martin, in his chair, still watched the street.
The Master did not appear.
He had seen a young priest pass by with blond hair and blue eyes, just like Christ is depicted in the portraits in the church. However, while passing by his shop, the priest had murmured: mea culpa. Obviously Christ would not have accused Himself. That couldn’t be Him.
Young men, old men, sailors, workers, housewives, great ladies, they all passed in front of him. Many beggars approached the old man; his kindly look seemed to promise something. They were not disappointed.
Nevertheless, the Master did not appear.
His eyes were tired, his heart grew faint. The days pass quickly in December. Already the shadows were growing long in the square, already the lamplighter could be seen in the distance, already the windows across the street began to glow joyously and the aroma of roasted turkey, the traditional food of the Marseillais, arose from all the kitchens.
And the Master did not appear.
Finally the night came, and with it a fog. It was useless to stay any longer by the window; the rare passers-by were unrecognizable in the fog. The old man went sadly to his stove and began to prepare his supper.
“It was just a dream,” he murmured. “Yet I had so much hoped.”
His meal finished, he opened his book and tried to read. But his sadness prevented him.
All of a sudden his room was lit with a supernatural light, and without the door being opened the little shop was filled with people. The street sweeper was there, the young woman with her child was there, and each said to the old man:
“Didn’t you see me?”
Behind them came the beggars to whom he had given alms, the neighbours to whom he had spoken a kind word, the children he had smiled at, and each one asked him in turn:
“Didn’t you see me?”
“But who are you then?” cried the shoemaker to all these phantoms.
Then the little child in the arms of the young woman leaned over the book of the old man and with his little pink finger pointed to this passage right where the book was open:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in . . . Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. “
— the end —