Human Nature

A beggar-man crept to my side
 One bitter, wintry time;
“I want to buy a drink,” he cried;
 ”Please give me, sir, a dime.”
If he had craved this boon forlorn
 To buy his family meat,
I had passed on in silent scorn,
 And left him in the street.

I tossed the money in his hand,
 And quoth: “As o'er your wine
Within the tippling-room you stand
 Drink thou to me and mine.”
He let an earnest “Thank ye” drop---
 Then up the street he sped,
And rushed into a baker's shop,
 And bought a loaf of bread!

I know not why it was, and yet,
 So sudden was the blow,
I felt emotions of regret
 That he had duped me so.
Yet, had the hungry beggar said
 That he was sore in need
Of that necessity called "bread,"
 What man would pay him heed?

Eugene Field, October 10, 1883.