Children’s Story – The Clock That Struck Thirteen

It was midnight in the town of Plymouth, England. Two men stood by the town’s great clock. As it finished striking the hour, both men, strangers, remarked that it had struck thirteen times instead of twelve. One of these men was a gentleman by the name of Captain Jarvis.

It was not long after this that Captain Jarvis awoke early one morning, got up, dressed, and went down to the front door of his home. As he opened it, he saw, to his surprise, that his groom was standing there with his horse saddles and bridled, ready for him to mount.

The groom explained, “I had a feeling that you would be wanting your horse, sir.” He said the feeling had been so strong that he couldn’t stay in bed, but had to get up and get the horse ready.

This was strange. It had never happened before. But, since the horse was ready, he mounted and rode off. Not having to go anywhere in particular, he let the horse choose where he would take him. Soon they were down by the river, close to the spot where a ferry took passengers across. Imagine his surprise, at this early hour, to see the ferryman there with his boat, waiting to take him across. What was going on?

“How are you here so early, my man?” he inquired.

“I couldn’t rest in my bed, sir, for I had a feeling I was wanted to ferry someone across.”

The Captain and the horse got on the boat, and soon they were on the other side. Now what? Again he let the horse direct the course he would take. After some time they came to a large country town. And seeing a passerby, the captain inquired if anything of interest was going on in the town.

“No, sir. Nothing but the trial of a man for murder.”

So, with no other destination in mind for this strange trip, he thought he would see what was going on. He rode to the place of the trial, dismounted, and entered the building.

As he walked in, he heard the judge saying to the prisoner, “Have you anything to say for yourself—anything at all?”

And the prisoner said, “I have nothing to say, sir, except that I am an innocent man. There is only one man in all the world who could prove my innocence, but I do not know his name nor where he lives. Some weeks ago we stood together in the town of Plymouth when it was midnight. We both heard the great town clock strike thirteen instead of twelve, and we remarked about it to each other—how strange it was that the clock should strike thirteen at the midnight hour.”

“I am here! I am here!” the captain shouted from the rear of the room. “I was the man who stood at midnight beside the great Plymouth clock and heard it strike thirteen instead of twelve. What the prisoner says is absolutely true. I identify him as the man. On the night of the murder, at the very time it was committed, that man was with me at Plymouth, and we remarked to each other how strange it was that the clock should strike thirteen at the midnight hour!”

The condemned man, proved innocent by the captain’s testimony, was immediately set free!

Think of it! Only one man in the world could prove that prisoner’s innocence. And angels, by awakening a groom and a ferryman and impressing them with an urgency they could not understand—and by leading the horse—had brought that one man into the courtroom at the precise moment he was needed!

How the angels must have loved it!

Taken from “It Must Have Been an Angel” by Marjorie Lewis Lloyd