Faith, divine Providence, fate
You have been a good son, John," his dying father said, "and the Lord will help you along in the world." He looked at his son with earnest, gentle eyes, sighed deeply, and fell dead as if he were falling asleep.
Toward nightfall the weather turned dreadfully stormy. John hurried along as - fast as he could to find shelter, but it soon grew dark. At last he came to a little church which stood very lonely upon a hill. Fortunately the door was ajar, and he slipped inside to stay until the storm abated.
"I'll sit down here in the corner," he said, "for I am very tired and need a little rest." So he sat down, put his hands together, and said his evening prayer. Before he knew it he was fast asleep and dreaming, while it thundered and lightened outside.
When he woke up it was midnight. The storm had passed, and the moon shone upon him through the window. In the middle of the church stood an open coffin and in it lay a dead man, awaiting burial. John was not at all frightened. His conscience was clear, and he was sure that the dead do not harm anyone. It is the living who do harm, and two such harmful living men stood beside the dead one, who had been put here in the church until he could be buried. They had a vile scheme to keep him from resting quietly in his coffin. They intended to throw his body out of the church - the helpless dead man's body.
Why do you want to do such a thing?" John asked. "It is a sin and a shame. In Heaven's name, let the man rest."
"Stuff and nonsense!" the two evil men exclaimed. "He cheated us. He owed us money which he could not pay, and now that he has cheated us by dying we shall not get a penny of it. So we intend to revenge ourselves. Like a dog he shall lie outside the church door."
"I have only fifty dollars," John cried. "It is my whole inheritance, but I'll give it to you gladly if you will solemnly promise to let the poor dead man rest in peace. I can do without the money. I have my healthy, strong arms, and Heaven will always help me."
"Why certainly," the villainous fellows agreed. "If you are willing to pay his debt, we won't lay a hand on him, you can count on that."
They took the money he gave them and went away roaring with laughter at his simplicity. John laid the body straight again in its coffin, folded its hands, and took his leave. He went away through the great forest, very well pleased.
"I'm bound for the wide world," John told him. "I have neither father nor mother. I am a poor boy, but I am sure the Lord will look after me."
However, John was not at all afraid of his trial. Far from it! he was jubilant, and thought only of how lovely the Princess was. He felt sure that help would come to him, though he didn't know how it would come, and he preferred not to think about it.
"I may as well ask about that as anything else," John agreed. "Maybe your dream was true, for I have always thought that God would look after me. However, I'll be saying good-by, because if I guess wrong I shall never see you again."
The traveling companion beamed with delight when he heard how well things had gone. But John clasped his hands together and thanked God, who he was sure would help him through the two remaining trials.