Schuermans in central Asia
Chapter V. King William.
By the time our father had held the Living of Thalheim nearly ten years, and we were in the midst of our school career, a letter from the Royal Consistory was one day brought to our house, and plunged both our parents into deep anxiety. At the time of his presentation to the Living, it had been considered too valuable for a man of his age, and the Consistory therefore requested him to contribute annually a certain portion of the stipend towards a fund for the amelioration of poorer livings. On the plea of his large family he petitioned against this order, and receiving no reply or further official application, he concluded that the matter had been decided in his favor. And now, after all these years, the whole arrears were suddenly claimed, with a sharp reprimand for past neglect of payment. On the ground of recent losses through hail, our father excused himself from immediate compliance, and obtained a remission of half the debt. But a year's respite soon passed by, and a crisis of care and distress approached. Day by day our mother grew, more oppressed as the term of payment drew on apace. Just then we received a visit from a clergyman, an intimate friend, who, struck by our mother's evident and unusual sadness, ventured to ask its cause. She told him her tale of care, and he at once saw well that any further petition on our father's part would be quite out of place. At the same time he advised her to apply, not to the council, but direct to the King himself, who was known and beloved as a true father of his country, with an open ear for all that were oppressed. Between them, our friend and herself, they at once composed a letter fully stating the facts of the case, together with all circumstances calculated to work upon the sympathies of a feeling heart. This petition was despatched to a cousin of our mother's, then in attendance upon the young Crown Prince, with a request that it might be presented, if possible, with a word of recommendation. At the time the letter reached the palace the little prince lay ill, and his disease was taking a dangerous type, so that the good cousin hardly knew how to proceed, and for some time carried the papers about, waiting for a favorable moment. One day, as she was watching by the bed of the royal child, the King and Queen came in to visit him. The little fellow, lying weak and ill in his cot, stretched out his hands with joy at the sight of his father, who gently clasped the boy and drew him to his heart. In the mean time our cousin handed the papers to the Queen, who, glancing them over and becoming interested and touched, handed them to her husband. He scanned the writing, and then read the whole attentively, after which, taking out a pencil, he wrote underneath: "I undertake to defray the whole debt out of my private purse." At the same time he ordered this message to be sent by express-post to the pastor's wife at Thalheim.
Night had come on by the time the royal courier reached Tuttlingen, our nearest town; but according to the strict order a postilion mounted immediately to carry the dispatch to its destination. Day had not broken, when he came galloping up our village street, blowing from his post-horn a blast so shrill and clear, that all the good neighbors awoke, stretched their heads out of their respective windows, and asked what could be the matter. At length, the clattering horse hoofs drew up beneath the parsonage walls. Our mother was up and ready to hear the errand of the postilion, who handed over his message; and hastening back into the house, she read the cheering answer to her prayer. With folded hands and tears of joy she cried, "Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thyself. One day, an innkeeper is Thy paymaster, and another a king, by the grace of God! Oh! repay our Sovereign for this his goodness to us, and bless him in soul and body, in time and eternity, Thou King of kings! Amen."