“No,” said the lawyer, “I shan’t press your claim against that man; you can get some one else to take your case, or you can withdraw it, just as you please.”
"Think there isn’t any money in it?"
“There would probably he some money in it, but it would, as you know, come from the sale of the little house the man occupies and calls home; but I don’t want to meddle with the matter, anyhow.”
“Got frightened out of it, eh?”
“No, I wasn’t frightened out of it.”
“I suppose likely the old fellow begged hard to be let off?”
“Well, yes, he did."
"And you caved, likely?"
“No, I didn’t speak a word to him.”
“Oh, he did all the talking, did he?“
“And you never said a word?"
"Not a word.”
“What in creation did you do?”
“I believe I shed a few tears.”
“And the old fellow begged you hard, you say?”
“No, I didn’t say so; he didn’t speak a word to me"
“Well, may I respectfully enquire whom he did address in your hearing?”
“Ah, he took to praying, did he?”
“Not for my benefit, in the least. You see" and the lawyer crossed his right foot over his left knee, and began stroking his lower leg up and down, as if to state his case concisely; “you see, I found the little house easily enough, and knocked at the outer door, which stood ajar; but nobody heard me, so I slipped into the hall, and saw, through the crack of another door, just as cozy a sitting-room as there ever was. There on a bed, with her silver head way up high on the pillows, was an old lady, who looked for all the world just as my mother did the last time I ever saw her on earth.
Well, I was right on the point of knocking, when she said as clearly as could be: "Come, father, begin; I’m ready." And down on his knees by her side went an old, white-haired man, still older than his wife, I should judge; and I could not have knocked then for the life of me.
Well, he began; first he reminded God they were still His submissive children, mother and he; and no matter what He saw fit to bring upon them they shouldn’t rebel at His will! Of course, ‘twas going to be terrible hard for them to go out homeless in their old age, especially with poor mother so sick and helpless; but still they’d seen sadder things than ever that would be.
He reminded God, in the next place, how different all might have been if only one of their boys might have been spared them; then his voice kind of broke, and a thin, white hand stole from under the coverlet, and moved softly over his snowy hair; then he went on to repeat, that nothing could be so sharp as the parting with those three sons unless mother and he should be separated.
But at last he fell to comforting himself with the fact that the dear Lord knew it was through no fault of his own, that mother and he were threatened with the loss of their dear little home, which meant beggary and the alms-house; a place they prayed to be delivered from entering, if it could be consistent with God’s will.
And then he fell to quoting a multitude of promises concerning the safety of those who put their trust in the Lord; yes, I should say he begged hard; in fact it was the most thrilling plea to which I ever listened. And at last he prayed for God’s blessing on those who were about to demand justice”
The lawyer stroked his lower limb in silence for a moment or two, then continued more slowly than before: “And, I believe, I’d rather go to the poor-house myself, tonight, than to stain my heart and hands with the blood of such a prosecution as that.”
“Little afraid to defeat the old man’s prayer, eh?” queried the client.
“Bless your soul, man, you could not defeat it!” roared the lawyer. “It doesn’t admit of defeat! I tell you, he left it all subject to the will of God; but he left no doubt as to his wishes in the matter; claimed that we were told to make known our desires unto God; but of all the pleading I ever heard that beat all. You see, I was taught that kind of thing myself in my childhood; and why I was sent to hear that prayer I’m sure I don’t know, but I hand the case over.”
“I wish,” said the client, twisting uneasily, “you hadn’t told me about the old fellow’s prayer.”
“Well, I greatly want the money the place would bring, but was taught the Bible all straight when I was a youngster; and I’d hate to run counter to such a harangue as that you tell about. I wish you hadn’t heard a word of it; and another time I wouldn’t listen to petitions not intended for your ears.”
The lawyer smiled. “My dear fellow,” he said, “you’re wrong again; it was intended for my ears, and yours, too, and God Almighty intended it. My old mother used to sing about God’s moving in a mysterious way, I remember.”
“Well, my mother used to sing it, too,” said the claimant, as he twisted his claim-papers in his fingers. “You can call in, in the morning, if you like, and tell mother and him the claim has been met.”
“In a mysterious way," added the lawyer, smiling.
- Selected by Mrs. E. C. Best.
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893