The Brother's Prayer.
A physician, who for many years practiced his profession in the State of
California, was called once to see the child of Mr. Doak, of Calveras
County, living on the road between San Andreas and Stockton, and not far
from the mining town of Campo Seco, or Dry Camp. He says: The patient
was a little girl about ten years of age, bright and intelligent and one
of twins, the other being a boy, equally bright and well-disposed. The
primary symptoms had indicated inflammation of the stomach, which the
attending physician had hopelessly combated, and finally, when by
metastasis it attacked the brain, with other unfavorable symptoms, he
was inclined to abandon the case in despair.
It was at this juncture I was called in. The symptoms were exceedingly
unfavorable, and my own opinion coincided with my professional
brother's. However, we determined to go to work. A day and night of
incessant watching, and the state of the patient caused us both to feel
the case hopeless, and we only continued our attendance at the earnest
solicitation of the child's mother. The anxious, care-worn and restless
sorrow of the little brother, his deep grief as he saw his sister given
over to the power of the King of Terrors, had attracted our attention.
He would creep up to the bedside of his sister silently, with pale and
tearful face, controlling his emotion with great effort, and then steal
away again and weep bitterly. With a vague, indefinite idea of
comforting the little fellow, I took him to my knee, and was about to
utter some platitude, when the little fellow, looking me in the face,
his own the very picture of grief, burst out with--
"Oh, Doctor, must sister die?"
"Yes," I replied, "but,"--
Before I could go farther he again interrupted me: "Oh, Doctor, is there
nothing, nothing that will save her? Can nobody, nobody save my sister?"
For an instant the teachings of a tender and pious mother flashed over
my mind. They had been long neglected, were almost forgotten.
California, in those days, was not well calculated to fasten more deeply
on the mind home teachings. There were very few whose religious training
survived the ordeal, and for a long time I had hardly thought of prayer.
But the question brought out with the vividness of a flash of lightning,
and as suddenly, all that had been obscured by my course of life, and,
hardly knowing what I did, I spoke to him of the power that might reside
in prayer. I said, God had promised to answer prayer. I dared not allow
the skeptical doubt, that came to my own mind, meet the ear of that
innocent boy, and told him, more as my mother had often told me than
with any thought of impressing a serious subject on his mind, "_That the
prayers of little boys, even, God would hear_." I left that night with
some simple directions, that were given more to satisfy the mother than
from having the slightest hope of eventual recovery, promising to return
In the morning, as I rode to the door, the little boy was playing round
with a bright and cheerful countenance, and looked so happy that
involuntarily I asked:
"Is your sister better?"
"Oh, no, Doctor," he replied, "but she is going to get well."
"How do you know," I asked.
"_Because I prayed to God_" said he, "and _he told me she would."_
"How did he tell you?"
The little fellow looked at me for an instant, and reverently placing
his hand on the region of his heart, said:
"_He told me in my heart_."
Going to the room where my patient was lying, I found no change
whatever, but in spite of my own convictions there had sprung up a hope
within me. The medical gentleman with whom I was in consultation came to
the room, and as he did, _a thought of a very simple remedy_ I had seen
used by an old negro woman, in a very dissimilar case, _occurred to my
mind._ It became so _persistently present_ that I mentioned it to my
brother practitioner. He looked surprised, but merely remarked. "It can
do no harm." I applied it. In two hours we both felt the case was out of
The second day after that, as we rode from the house, my friend asked me
how I came to think, of so simple a remedy.
"_I think it was that boy's prayer_," I replied.
"Why, Doctor! you are not so superstitious as to connect that boy's
prayers with his sister's recovery," said he.
"Yes, I do," I replied; "for the life of me I cannot help thinking his
prayers were more powerful than our remedies."