"After the Castle," I explained to him. He dropped his head and nodded, his hope washing into the river beside us.
We toured the castle for the day, and I was glad to be indoors for the most part. The temperature had dropped further as we made our way back to the bus in the afternoon. As we approached the stone bridge, I saw him still standing there, his coat still huddled about him and the afternoon shadows growing long beside him. He looked tired and defeated but unwilling to leave. Selling postcards from the edge was, I imagined, his only source of income -given his age. As I walked toward him, I unzipped my money belt and reached in and grabbed $20.00. As promised, I stopped and enquired about his cards, the money still hidden in my hand. He smiled at me, drew his hands together in a gesture of prayer and then bowed his head. He raised his head and gave me a price. I asked for two cards and slipped him the note.
He opened his coat, I pointed and he dealt my chosen cards and then began fossicking in his money belt for my change. I grabbed his hands and closed them around the note and nodded my head in protest.
"No change," I said to him. His brow furrowed and he pushed back his cap, clearly confused by the transaction taking place. I repeated my gesture and slowly my intention dawned on him. Our eyes met in mutual respect. We bowed to each other and I felt good knowing that at least there'd be food on his table that night - it may not be milk and honey but it came courtesy of a land by the same name. I never missed the 20 bucks.