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CHAPTER V


HOW BROTHER GILES LIVED BY THE LABOUR OF HIS HANDS


When Brother Giles was once living in a convent of the Friars Minor at Rome, he desired, as he had done ever since his entrance into the Order, to employ himself in manual labour, and thus did he spend his day. Early in the morning he heard Mass with great devotion: then he went into a forest about eight miles out of Rome, and bringing home a great bundle of wood on his back, he sold it for bread and other provisions. One day as he was bringing home his load of wood, a lady met him and offered to buy it; so, having agreed with her as to the price, he carried it to her house. The lady, notwithstanding the agreement, seeing that he was a religious, gave him much more than she had promised. Then said Brother Giles: “Good lady, I would not have the vice of avarice to gain the mastery of me, therefore I will not take from thee more than we agreed upon.” And, instead of taking more than the stipulated sum, he took but half of it, and went his way, leaving the lady in great admiration. Brother Giles always showed the life scrupulous integrity in all his dealings. He helped the labourers to gather the olives and pluck the grapes. Being one day in the market-place, he heard a man asking another to help him to beat walnuts, offering him reward for so doing; but the other excused himself because the place was far off and difficult to access. Then Brother Giles said to him: “My friend, if thou wilt give me a part of the walnuts, I will come with thee to beat them.” So the agreement being made, he went with the man; and first making the sign of the cross, he climbed the high walnut tree, and in great fear began to beat. When he had finished beating, he gathered up more for his share than he knew how to carry; so taking off his habit, and tying the sleeves and the hood, he made a sack of it, and filling it with walnuts, he took it upon his back and carried it to Rome, and with great joy gave the walnuts to the poor for the love of God. When the corn was reaped, Brother Giles went with other poor persons to gather the ears of corn; and if any one offered him a handful of grain, he would say: “Brother, I have no granary wherein to store it, and for the most part, what I gather I give to the poor for the love of God.” Brother Giles had little leisure to help others at such times, for he had to fulfill his appointed task, and also to say the canonical hours, and make his mental prayer. When once he went to the fountain of San Sisto to fetch water for the monks of that place, a man asked him some water to drink. Brother Giles answered: “How can I take the vessel half filled to the monks?” On this the man, being angry, spoke many hard and reproachful words to Brother Giles, who returned very sorrowful to the monks. Then borrowing a large vessel, he came back forthwith to the fountain, and finding the man there, he said: “Take, my friend, and drink as much as thy soul desireth, and be not angry that it seemed to me unjust to take a scant measure of water to those holy monks.” Then he, being constrained and conscience-stricken by the charity and humility of Brother Giles, acknowledged his fault, and from that day forth held him in great reverence.


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