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Why in 19th century London did they use the word pray in sentences. Ex- Tell you what, pray?

I'm reading a story, and I see the main character referring to the female protagonist as 'pray'?  Ex- Tell you what, pray?

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Max M. | Improve your skills and scores with a Harvard grad.Improve your skills and scores with a Ha...
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Yes, "pray" as in "ask," not necessarily to a god.
Mark M. | Mathematics Teacher - NCLB Highly QualifiedMathematics Teacher - NCLB Highly Qualif...
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"Pray" is a contraction of the phrase "I pray thee," meaning "I politely request."