As the door opened, the Peddler began to shake. "This is my last chance", he thought, "I will say anything, for I cannot go on."
To his relief the figure in the doorway soon presented itself. A small woman, perhaps half his size, looked up at him. The Peddler was taken aback. His possible benefactor was advanced in age and seemed to be on the edge of physical collapse.
The Peddler collected his wits, and with a sense of desperation began to speak. "Good woman," he began, "I have traveled far, but I am in need of the hospitality of a person like you who would not turn away one in need." The Peddler braced himself for the expected interrogation, but it did not come.
"You poor man," was the reply, "come in and warm yourself by my humble fire. I cannot offer much, but what I have is yours." With that the woman turned and gestured for the Peddler to follow.
The Peddler entered, following the small figure. The room he beheld was even more Spartan than he had imagined. Very few pieces of furniture were present, and he watched as his host sat herself upon a rocking chair located near a large brick fireplace. The fireplace seemed to dominate the room, for it provided the only illumination. The Peddler sat down upon a small ottoman and rubbed his hands together.
Confused by this sudden change of fortune, he stammered, "I have no wish to cause you harm, but your neighbors rejected me because I am not a Christian. Why do you offer me aid. Will they not turn against you?"
The old woman began to laugh, and with a sigh turned to the peddler and replied:"Stranger, you are new to this place. It was not always so, at one time all were welcome. Unfortunately, the leaders of our community became convinced of their importance, which included controlling the spiritual life of all its' citizens. This control would not tolerate dissension, so all those who opposed were either ostracized or banished. They use Christianity as a tool to justify their personal prejudices. In this manner, they subvert the true teaching of our lord."
(Look for PT.4)