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The Traveling Companion

"Perhaps," he thought, "someone will do the same for my fathers grave, now that I cannot take care of it."

Outside the churchyard gate stood an old beggar, leaning on his crutch and John gave him the few pieces of silver that he had. Happy and high-spirited, John went farther on - out into the wide world. 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.

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