A Priest Saves a Man From Hell 


A father of a family who grew rich only by doing wrongs had fallen dangerously ill. He knew that the final stages of death had already set in, and nevertheless he could not decide to make restitution. “If I make restitution,” he said, “what will become of my children?” His confessor, a man of sagacity, had recourse to a singular strategem to save this poor soul. He told him that if he wished to be cured, he was about to give him an extremely simple, but costly remedy. “Should it cost a thousand, two thousand, even ten thousand francs, what odds?” answered the old man briskly. “What is it?” “It consists in pouring the melted fat of a living person on the dying parts. It does not need much. If you find anyone willing, for ten thousand francs, to suffer one hand to be burned for less than a quarter of an hour, that will be enough.” “Alas!” said the poor man, sighing, “I am very much afraid I can find no such person.” “I will help you,” said the priest quietly. “Summon your eldest son; he loves you; he is to be your heir; say to him, ‘My dear son, you can save your old father’s life if you consent to allow one hand to be burned only for a small quarter of an hour.’ If he refuses, make the proposal to the second, pledging yourself to make him your heir at the expense of his elder brother. If he refuses in this turn, the third will no doubt accept.” The proposition was made successively to the three brothers, who, one after the other, rejected it with a shudder. Then the father said to them: “What! To save my life, an instant’s pain alarms you? And I, to procure your comfort, would go to Hell – to be burned eternally! Indeed, I should be quite mad.” And he hastened to restore all he owed without regard to what should become of his children.

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