The Misjudged Man

Jonathan Rabone was a lonely, poor man, in a former farmhouse, at the outskirts of the village. It was cold that Saturday afternoon and the first snow of the season came whirling down from the dark winter sky. He had cut some more wood from a dead pine tree, behind the stable. In a corner of his living room, he had a fire with an iron pot hanging above it on a copper chain. That was how he made pea-soup with a leg of pork in it.

Anne had been to the local grocer for her mother, to buy some candied peel and raisins, because Mrs. Mitchel wanted to make a cake for Anne’s birthday which would be next week. Anne went on her bicycle though the road was somewhat slippery. On her way back more snow came down and there was more wind. This forced her to get off her bicycle and to go further pushing it at the handlebar. It was difficult to walk straight, and she did not notice that at a given moment she did not see any more where she was going in the snowstorm; the footpath snowed under and the buildings were blurred. She went round a wrong comer, and later again, so that she ended up in the opposite direction, out of the village. She stopped and prayed: “Lord, please, help me. I don’t know where I am.” Surrounded by thousands of snowflakes, she followed the track wheels had made and reasoned that somehow somewhere she would meet someone who could help her get home. About half an hour later she noticed there were no tracks anymore, and she saw a window with a light behind it. There was less snowing and she saw the house…. She recognized it. Children were afraid of this one, because the people in the village said that there lived a strange man, but nobody ever said why. Anne Mitchel made an effort to pass the road, to reach the light, but then it went all wrong. She slipped, the bike fell down, and the bag from the shop…. Dazedly she tried to get up, reaching out for the handlebars and the saddle, but she could not get hold of anything…. She turned over on her side and felt a pain in her left ankle. Suddenly there was a voice of a man who kindly asked “Do you mind if I lend you a helping hand?” She saw an old man with a white moustache like a walrus, who bent over to her. He managed to get on one foot. She held on to his shoulder and so together they went over the road to his house. He returned to pick up her bicycle and the bag of the grocer. They went inside and he put her on a chair. He grinned and said: “Now you are in the house of that silly old farmer, misjudged by the whole village. Please, tell me the phone number of your parents.” She told him and he went to an antique telephone on the wall and told her mother: “This is old Jim speaking. I think I have here a daughter of yours, who fell in the snow. Could you come and bring her home?”… Well, they all became good friends, including also Anne’s father and old Jim, as he continued to call himself. On the Lord’s Day father picked Jim up to go with them to Church, and often he stayed for a meal.…