By James Baldwin - 1912
In Richmond, Virginia, an old man went into the market to buy something. He was dressed plainly, his coat was worn, and his hat was dingy. On his arm he carried a small basket.
“I wish to get a fowl for tomorrow’s dinner,” he said.
The market man showed him a fat turkey, plump and white and ready for roasting.
“Ah! That is just what I want. My wife will be delighted with it.”
He asked the price and paid for it. The market man wrapped a paper round it and put it in the basket.
Just then a young man stepped up. “I will take one of those turkeys,” he said. He was dressed in fine style and carried a small cane.
“Shall I wrap it up for you?” asked the market man.
“Yes. Here is your money, and send it to my house at once.”
“I cannot do that,” said the market man. “My errand boy is sick today, and there is no one else to send. Besides, it is not our custom to deliver goods.”
“Then how am I to get it home?” asked the young gentleman.
“I suppose you will have to carry it yourself,” said the market man. “It is not heavy.”
“Carry it myself! Who do you think I am? Fancy me carrying a turkey along the street!”
and he began to grow very angry. The old man who had bought the first turkey was standing quite near. He had heard all that was said.
“Excuse me, sir,” he said; “but may I ask where you live?”
“I live at Number 39, Blank Street,” answered the young gentleman. “And my name is Johnson.”
“Well, that is lucky,” said the old man, smiling. “I happen to be going that way, and I will carry your turkey, if you will allow me.”
“Oh, certainly!” said Mr. Johnson. “Here it is. You may follow me.”
When they reached Mr. Johnson’s house, the old man handed him the turkey and turned to go.
“Here, my friend, what shall I pay you?” said the young gentleman.
“Oh, nothing, sir, nothing,” answered the old man. “It was no trouble to me, and you are welcome.”
He bowed and went on. Young Mr. Johnson looked after him and wondered. Then he turned and walked briskly back to the market.
“Who is that polite old gentleman who carried my turkey for me?” he asked of the market man.
“That is John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States. He is one of the greatest men in our country”.
The young gentleman was surprised and ashamed. “Why did he offer to carry my turkey?” he asked.
“He wished to teach you a lesson,” answered the market man.
“What sort of lesson?”
“He wished to teach you that no man should feel himself too fine to carry his own packages.”
“Oh, no!” said another man who had seen and heard it all. “Judge Marshall carried the turkey simply because he wished to be kind and obliging. That is his way.”
May we always remember to be kind not just at Thanksgiving, but every day. — 2022-2023 National Chaplain Karen Peel