从前，在一座大城里有个老妈妈，夜深了她仍独自坐在自己的房间里。 她想着自己先是如何失去了丈夫，继而又失去了两个儿子，渐渐地又失去了所有的亲戚，最后连她最后的朋友也离开了人世。 现在只留下她孤零零的一个人，她心里非常难过，然而最使她痛心的还是那两个儿子的去世。 她在痛苦之际向上帝倾诉，就这样静静地坐在那儿沉思，突然听到了早祷的钟声，她觉得非常奇怪，原来自己竟在悲哀中熬过了一整夜。 于是她点亮了灯去了教堂。 她到达时，教堂里已是一片明亮，但不是平常的蜡烛，而是弥满着黎明的光辉。 里面已挤满了人，所有的位子都给占了。 老妈妈走向她平常坐的位子，可那儿也被人占着，整个凳子都被坐满了。 她看了看这些人，尽是她死去的亲戚。 他们都穿着老式的旧衣服坐在那儿，一个个脸色苍白。 他们既不说话也不唱歌，可教堂里却响着轻柔的嗡嗡呢喃声。 这时她一个死去的姨妈站了起来，走上前，对这可怜的老妈妈说："向祭坛那边瞧，你就会见到你的儿子们。"老妈妈朝祭坛望去，果然见到了她的两个儿子，一个吊在绞架上，一个绑在车轮上。 只听见那位姨妈说："你看，如果他们还活着，上帝不会把他们当作清白无邪的孩子给招回去的，那他们的下场就会是这样子了。"老人战战兢兢地回到家中，跪在地上感谢上帝，感谢他待自己好得超出了自己的理解。 两天后，她躺在床上死了。
In a large town there was an old woman who sat in the evening alone in her room thinking how she had lost first her husband, then both her children, then one by one all her relations, and at length, that very day, her last friend, and now she was quite alone and desolate. She was very sad at heart, and heaviest of all her losses to her was that of her sons; and in her pain she blamed God for it. She was still sitting lost in thought, when all at once she heard the bells ringing for early prayer. She was surprised that she had thus in her sorrow watched through the whole night, and lighted her lantern and went to church. It was already lighted up when she arrived, but not as it usually was with wax candles, but with a dim light. It was also crowded already with people, and all the seats were filled; and when the old woman got to her usual place it also was not empty, but the whole bench was entirely full. And when she looked at the people, they were none other than her dead relations who were sitting there in their old-fashioned garments, but with pale faces. They neither spoke nor sang; but a soft humming and whispering was heard all over the church. Then an aunt of hers stood up, stepped forward, and said to the poor old woman, "Look there beside the altar, and thou wilt see thy sons." The old woman looked there, and saw her two children, one hanging on the gallows, the other bound to the wheel. Then said the aunt, "Behold, so would it have been with them if they had lived, and if the good God had not taken them to himself when they were innocent children." The old woman went trembling home, and on her knees thanked God for having dealt with her more kindly than she had been able to understand, and on the third day she lay down and died.