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Five of my mother's six boys had by this time been placed in different schools, and it may be imagined that the task of providing for them almost out-stripped her power. Thus it came to pass one year that the demands for the various payments had been several times repeated. The burden of care was of itself enough for our mother, but it became intolerable when accompanied by the incessant reproaches of her husband, who would say, "There, you see! I always told you that you were attempting impossible things. You would take your own way, sending out one lad after another, and now your self-will is going to bring disgrace upon us."
In the face of this accusation, our mother boldly stood by her assertion that God would never leave her in trouble, and she expected Him, to help very soon. These discussions always ended by our father giving way with the words, "Well, we shall see, tempus doucebit!"3.2
Things were in this uncomfortable state, when, as he was one day sitting alone in his study, lost in thought, a knock at the door announced the entrance of the postman, bringing three letters from the different towns where the boys were boarding. Each of them contained the same message, which was, that unless the dues could be settled at once, the lads would be dismissed. Our father read the letters with growing excitement, and spread them out upon the table to show his wife, who had hardly crossed the threshold when he cried, "There, look at them and pay our debts with your faith! I have no money nor can I tell where to go for any."
Seizing the papers, she rapidly glanced through them with a very grave face, but then answered firmly, "It is all right: the business shall be settled. For He who says, 'The gold and silver is mine'3.3 will find it an easy thing to provide these sums." Saying which, she hastily left the room.
Our father readily supposed she intended making her way to a certain rich friend who had helped us before. He was mis-taken, for this time her steps turned in a different direction. We had in the parsonage an upper loft, shut off by a trap-door from the lower one, and over this door it was that she now knelt down and began to deal with Him in whose strength she had undertaken the work of her children's education. She spread before Him those letters from the study table, and told Him of her husband's half scoffing taunt. She also reminded Him how her life had been redeemed from the very gates of death, for the children's sake, and then declared that she could not believe that He meant to forsake her at this juncture; she was willing to be the second whom He might forsake, but she was determined not to be the first.
In the meanwhile, her husband waited downstairs, and night came on; but she did not appear. Supper was ready, and yet she stayed in the loft. Then the eldest girl, her namesake Beate, ran up to call her; but the answer was: "Take your supper without me, it is not time for me to eat." Late in the evening, the little messenger was again despatched, but returned with the reply, "Go to bed; the time has not come for me to rest." A third time, at breakfast next morning, the girl called her mother. "Leave me alone," she said; "I do not need breakfast, when I am ready I shall come." Thus the hours sped on, and downstairs her husband and the children began to feel frightened, not daring however to disturb her any more. At last the door opened, and she entered, her face beaming with a wonderful light. The little daughter thought that something extra-ordinary must have happened ; and running to her mother with open arms, asked eagerly, "What is it? Did an angel from heaven bring the money?" "No, my child," was the smiling answer, "but now I am sure that it will come." She had hardly spoken, when a maid in peasant costume entered, saying: "The master of the Linden Inn sends to ask whether the Frau Pastorin can spare the time to see him?" "Ah, I know what he wants," answered our mother. "My best regards, and I will come at once." Whereupon she started, and mine host, looking out of his window, saw her from afar, and came forward to welcome her with the words, "O Madame, how glad I am you have come!" Then leading her into his back parlor he said: "I cannot tell how it is, but the whole of this last night I could not sleep for thinking of you. For some time I have had several hundred gulden3.4 lying in that chest, and all night long I was haunted by the thought that you needed this money, and that I ought to give it to you. If that be the case, there it is— take it. And do not trouble about repaying me. Should you be able to make it up again, well and good— if not, never mind." On this my mother said: "Yes, I do most certainly need it, my kind friend; for all last night I too was awake, crying to God for help. Yesterday there came three letters, telling us that all our boys would be dismissed unless the money for their board is cleared at once." "Is it really so?" exclaimed the innkeeper, who was a noble-hearted and spiritual Christian man. "How strange and wonderful! Now I am doubly glad I asked you to come!" Then opening the chest, he produced three weighty packets, and handed them to her with a prayer that God's blessing might rest upon the gift. She accepted it with the simple words, "May God make good to you this service of Christian sympathy. For you have acted as the steward of One who has promised not even to leave the giving of a cup of cold water unrewarded."3.5
Husband and children were eagerly awaiting her at home, and those three dismal letters still lay open on the table, when the mother, who had quitted that study in such deep emotion the day before, stepped up to her husband radiant with joy. On each letter, she laid a roll of money and then cried, "Look, there it is! And now believe that faith in God is no empty madness!"
3.2 Time will show!
3.3 Haggai ii.8.
3.4 A silver coin of a little less than 12 grams, about 0.4 ounce. A United States fifty-cent piece before 1965 contained 0.36 ounce of silver.
3.5 Matthew x.42.
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