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The Way of All Flesh

Chapter 23
The man-servant William came and set the chairs for the maids, and presently they filed
in. First Christina's maid, then the cook, then the housemaid, then William, and then the
coachman. I sat opposite them, and watched their faces as Theobald read a chapter from
the Bible. They were nice people, but more absolute vacancy I never saw upon the
countenances of human beings.
Theobald began by reading a few verses from the Old Testament, according to some
system of his own. On this occasion the passage came from the fifteenth chapter of
Numbers: it had no particular bearing that I could see upon anything which was going on
just then, but the spirit which breathed throughout the whole seemed to me to be so like
that of Theobald himself, that I could understand better after hearing it, how he came to
think as he thought, and act as he acted.
The verses are as follows -
"But the soul that doeth aught presumptuously, whether he be born in the land or a
stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his
people.
"Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken His commandments,
that soul shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.
"And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man that gathered
sticks upon the Sabbath day.
"And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto
all the congregation.
"And they put him in ward because it was not declared what should be done to him.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, the man shall be surely put to death; all the congregation
shall stone him with stones without the camp.
"And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones,
and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the
borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe
of the borders a ribband of blue.
 
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