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Joseph Friedlander, comp. The Standard Book of Jewish Verse. 1917.

By Richard Chenevix Trench

The Lent Jewels

A Jewish Apologue

IN schools of wisdom all the day was spent;

His steps at eve the Rabbi homeward bent,

With homeward thoughts, which dwelt upon the wife

And two fair children who consoled his life.

She, meeting at the threshold, led him in

And with these words preventing, did begin:

“I, greeting ever your desired return,

Yet greet it most today; for since this morn

I have been much perplexed and sorely tried

Upon one point, which you shall now decide.

Some years ago, a friend unto my care

Some jewels gave—rich, precious gems they were;

But having given them in my charge, this friend

Did afterward not come for them, nor send.

But in my keeping suffered them so long,

That now it almost seems to me a wrong

That he should suddenly arrive today,

To take those jewels, which he left, away.

What think you? Shall I freely yield them back,

And with no murmuring? so henceforth to lack

Those gems myself, which I had learned to see

Almost as mine for ever, mine in fee!”

“What question can be here? your own true heart

Must needs advise you of the only part;

That may be claimed again which was but lent,

And should be yielded with no discontent;

Nor surely can we find in this a wrong,

That it was left us to enjoy it long.”

“Good is the word,” she answered; “may we now

And evermore that it is good allow!”

And, rising, to an inner chamber led,

And there she showed him, stretched upon one bed,

Two children pale, and he the jewels knew,

Which God had lent him, and resumed anew.