Eve tucked the parcel under her arm and walked along the edge of the canal. Mr. Bishop had told her where to go but not how to get there. She came to a seat and, being a person to use things for the proper purpose, sat down. She was so wrapped up in her own thoughts she did not see the tramp sit on the bench beside her. He asked her where she came from. She told him she was from the land of Nearly Perfect people. “Ah-ah,” said the tramp. “I heard a rumour that a grand-child had made a gift too good for a King and too fine for an Archbishop.”
“Who told you that?” asked Eve.
“Oh, some little winged thing,” said the tramp, knowing that most people would assume it to be a bird. “But,” he asked, “is it true?”
“How can it be?” demanded Eve. “The garment is fine enough for King-Paul, but not good enough for Archie Bishop. He told me to give it to God.”
“You sound as if you are angry,” said the tramp. “I am,” said Eve. “We all know that God is perfect, yet even here in the Land of Nearly Perfect people there is no-one who can say that they have met God. So how am I supposed to give God a garment if I don’t know where to go?” “Well,” said the tramp, “I am a stranger here, but in the land where I come from we believe that God lives in the person sitting next to you.”
“That can’t be,” said Eve. “I am the person next to you and I know I am not God.”
“How do you know you are not God?” asked the tramp who had last seen God in a near-by pub called the Old Mariner. “God is a Perfect Being,” she replied. “I am far from perfect. I am not even a very good example of being a Nearly Perfect person..”
“Why is that?” asked the tramp. “You look a very Nearly Perfect Person to me.”
“I have insulted Mr. King with the gift not fine enough; I have offended Mr. Bishop with a gift unfitting for a man of the cloth. And, if that’s not enough, I talk about myself too much.”
“To talk about yourself is not an imperfection,” said the tramp. “It may be a bit boring to other people at times to persons whose imperfection is impatience. Being a bore has it’s own saving grace. At least people who are talking about themselves are not talking about other people. Gossip is a flaw, not an imperfection.”
“That you for that. I am being rude. I have not asked your name. Mine is Eve, how do you do,” said Eve, holding out her hand.
The tramp shook her small hand and replied “I’m alright. Jack’s my name. Jack Leeming.”
“I must say I am pleased to meet you, Jack.” lied Eve. He had not been any help in finding God, she thought. (In case anyone thinks that to tell a lie should count as an imperfection, lying is one of those things seen only by a blind eye.)