It Is Never Too Late to Mend by Charles Reade
This very afternoon Mr. Levi came to inquire for George Fielding. Unable to find him, he asked of several diggers where the young man was; he could get no information till Jem saw him, and came and told him.
Now when he heard they were gone, and not expected back for some days, Isaac gave quite a start, and showed a degree of regret and vexation that Jem was puzzled to account for.
On reflection he begged Jem to come to his tent; there he sat down and wrote a letter.
"Young man," said he, "I do entreat you to give this to George Fielding the moment he returns to the camp. Why did he go without coming to see me? my old heart is full of misgivings."
"You needn't have any, sir," said Jem, surprised at the depth of feeling in the old Jew's face and voice. "He shall have the letter, you may depend."
Levi thanked him.
He then said to Nathan: "Strike the tents, collect our party, and let us be gone."
"What! going to leave us, sir?"
"Yes! young man, this very hour."
"Well now, I am sorry for that, and so will the captain be, and his pal that you think so much of."
"We shall not be long parted," said the old man, in his sweet musical Eastern accent, "not very long, if you are faithful to your trust and give the good young man my letter. May good angels hover round him, may the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob guard him!"
"Amen!" said rough Jem; for the reverend face glowed with piety, and the voice was the voice of prayer.
Suddenly an unpleasant reflection occurred to Jem.
"Well, but if you go, who is to buy our gold-dust?"
"The Christian merchants," said Isaac, with an indifferent air.
"But they are such Jews," cried Jem, inadvertently. "I mean--I mean----" And rough as he was, he looked as if he could have bitten his tongue off.
"I know what you mean," said Isaac, sadly. He added: "Such as they are, they are all you have now. The old Jew was hunted and hooted and insulted in this place yesterday; here then he trades no more; those who set no value on him can of course supply his place."
"The blackguards," cried Jem, "the ruffians, I wish I had seen them. Come, Mr. Levi, that was not the mine; that was only the riffraff; you might forgive us that."
"I never forgive," was the calm reply.