On inquiring who he was and what brought him there, he started, as if from sleep, and, after looking around him, began with slow and measured steps to stride the hall, repeating in a low but audible voice, "Once one is two; once one is two."
Now and then he would stop, and remain with his arms folded on his breast as if in contemplation, for some minutes; then again resuming his walk, he continued to repeat, "Once one is two; once one is two." His story, as our traveler understood it, is as follows:
Conrad Lange, collector of the revenues of the city of Berlin, had long been known as a man whom nothing could divert from the paths of honesty. Scrupulously exact in all his dealings, and assiduous in the discharge of all his duties, he had acquired the good will and esteem of all who knew him, and the confidence of the minister of finance, whose duty it is to inspect the accounts of all officers connected with the revenue.
On casting up his accounts at the close of a particular year, he found a deficit of ten thousand ducats. Alarmed at this discovery, he went to the minister, presented his accounts, and informed him that he did not know how it had arisen, and that he had been robbed by some person bent on his ruin.
The minister received his accounts, but thinking it a duty to secure a person who might probably be a defaulter, he caused him to be arrested, and put his accounts into the hands of one of his secretaries for inspection, who returned them the day after with information that the deficiency arose from a miscalculation; that in multiplying, Mr. Lange had said, once one is two, instead of once one is one.
The poor man was immediately released from confinement, his accounts returned, and the mistake pointed out. During his imprisonment, which lasted two days, he had neither eaten, drunk, nor taken any repose; and when he appeared, his countenance was as pale as death. On receiving his accounts, he was a long time silent; then suddenly awaking, as if from a trance, he repeated, "Once one is two."
He appeared to be entirely insensible of his situation; would neither eat nor drink, unless solicited; and took notice of nothing that passed around him. While repeating his accustomed phrase, if anyone corrected him by saying, "Once one is one," his attention was arrested for a moment, and he said, "Ah, right, once one is one;" and then resuming his walk, he continued to repeat, "Once one is two." He died shortly after the traveler left Berlin.
This affecting story, whether true or untrue, obviously abounds with lessons of instruction. Alas! how easily is the human mind thrown off its balance; especially when it is stayed on this world only, and has no experimental knowledge of the meaning of the injunction of Scripture, to cast all our cares upon Him who careth for us, and who heareth even the young ravens when they cry.
-McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22