Daniel Whittle records that the New York Observer related a remarkable instance of the return of stolen property, which in its extraordinary way can be accounted for only by the control of a Supreme Will, and all in answer to prayer.
“On February 16, 1877, United States and railroad bonds and mortgages to the amount of $160,000, belonging to Edgar H. Richards, were stolen from the banking house of James G. King’s Sons, of this city. No clue whatever to the robbers could be obtained. Several parties were arrested on suspicion, but nothing could be proved, and the mystery remained unsolved.
“Mr. Richards, being a member of one of our most prominent churches, made it a subject of constant prayer, that the Lord would wholly prevent the thieves from any use of the property and cause it to be returned to him. When asked if he was ever incredulous, he said, ‘No, I have never lost my faith in recovering this property. I believe in prayer, and I have made it from the first a subject of prayer, and it will be answered.’
“Meanwhile some curious influences must have been at work among the thieves, for they acted in an extraordinary manner as follows:
“One day last week a stranger, well dressed, modest looking, gentlemanly, walked into the office of Elliott F. Shepard, Esq., one of Messrs. King’s counsel, and tendered his services for the recovery of the property, asserting he knew nothing about the robbery, nor the thieves, but that he could get the treasure. He was told that a reward would be paid for the capture of the thieves, but he earnestly protested that it was entirely out of his power to obtain any clue to the person or whereabouts of the thief; and no inquiries ever disclosed that this was not a perfectly true statement. Indeed, it proved that he had been selected as an agent to do this work, and that there were at least five or six connecting intermediaries between him and the robbers, each exercising that virtue which is called honor among thieves, and which on this occasion proved a wall of adamant to every attempt to pierce it or break it down.
“True to his word the stranger caused the delivery at Mr. Shepard’s office, at the appointed hour to a second, of an ordinary pasteboard bandbox, wrapped in newspaper, by the hands of a little boy. He had come in a pelting rain-storm, and part of the newspaper had become torn, and disclosed the blue, unsuspected hat box. The boy knew nothing about it, except that a gentleman had given him a dime in the street to bring the box.
“Mr. Richards being present, opened the bandbox, examined and checked off the contents with one of Messrs. King’s head clerks, and found every single item of his missing securities, stocks, bonds, mortgages, accounts, bank books, wills, everything. A most remarkable thing! The parties could hardly believe their eyes.”