the GUESTS

A young man and his wife were on a trip to visit his mother. Usually they arrived in time for supper. But they had gotten a late start, and now it was getting dark. So they decided to look for a place to stay overnight and go on in the morning.

Just off the road, they saw a small house in the woods. “Maybe they went rooms,” the wife said. So they stopped to ask.

An elderly man and woman came to the door. They didn’t rent rooms, they said. But they would be glad to have them stay overnight as their guests. They had plenty of room, and they would enjoy the company.

The old woman made coffee and brought out some cake, and the four of them talked for a while. Then the young couple were taken to their room. They again explained that they wanted to pay for this, but the old man said he would not accept any money.

The young couple got up early the next morning before their hosts had awakened. On a table near the front door, they left an envelope with some money in it for the room. Then they went on to the next town.

They stopped in a restaurant and had breakfast. When they told the owner where they had stayed, he was shocked.

“That can’t be,” he said. “That house burned to the ground and the man and the woman who lived there died in the fire.”

The young couple could not believe it. So they went back the house Only now there was no house. All they found was a burned-out shell. They stood staring at the ruins trying to understand what had happened. Then the woman screamed. In the rubble was a badly burned table, like the one they had seen by the front door. On the table was the envelope they had left that morning.

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