GRACE AND TRUTH


Author: W.P. Mackay

Let us suppose that a convict, who has just finished his term of penal servitude, wishes to lead an honest life. He comes to a man who has a large jewelry establishment, and who requires a night-watchman. He is engaged to watch this house through the quiet hours of the night, when he has everything under him, and every opportunity to rob his employer. On the first evening of his watching he meets one of his old companions, who accosts him. “What are you doing here?”

‘I’m night-watchman.’

‘Over this jewelry shop’

‘Yes.’

‘Does he know what you are?’

‘No, no, be silent; if he knew, I should be dismissed.’

‘Suppose I let it out that you are a returned convict!’

‘Oh I pray don’t, it would be my last day here, and I wish to be honest.’

‘Well, you’ll require to give me some money to keep quiet.’

‘Very well, but don’t let any one know.’ Thus the poor man would be in sad feat and trembling, lest it should come to the ears of his employer what his previous character had been. He would be in terror lest he should meet any of his old friends, and lest his resources should be exhausted in keeping them quiet.

Let us suppose, however, that instead of the employer engaging the man in ignorance of his character, he went to the convict’s cell and said, ‘Now I know you, what you are, and what you’ve done, every robbery you’ve committed, and that you are worse than you believe yourself to be.  I am about to give you a chance of becoming honest, I’ll trust you as my night-watchman over my valuable goods.’ The man is faithful at his post. He meets old companion after old companion, who threaten to inform upon him. He asks, ‘What will you tell about me?’

‘That you were the ringleader of house-breakers.’

‘Yes, but my master knows all that better than you do, he knows me better than I know myself.’

Of course this silences them for ever.

 

This latter is — GRACE AND TRUTH

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