360 On the Decay of the Art of Lying
punished for derelictions. You told me you were perfectly delighted with that nurse — that she had a thousand perfections and only one fault: you found you never could depend on her wrapping Johnny up half sufficiently while he waited in a chilly chair for her to rearrange the warm bed. You filled up the duplicate of this paper, and sent it back to the hospital by the hand of the nurse. How did you answer this question — 4 Was the nurse at any time guilty of a negligence which was likely to result in the patient's taking cold?' Come —■ everything is decided by a bet here in California: ten dollars to ten cents you lied when you answered that question." She said, " I didn't; I left it blank ! " " Just so — you have told a silent lie; you have left it to be inferred that you had no fault to find in that matter." She said, " Oh, was that a lie? And how could I mention her one single fault, and she so good ? — it would have been cruel." I said, "One ought always to lie, when one can do good by it; your impulse was right, but your judgment was crude; this comes of unintelligent practice. Now observe the result of this inexpert deflection of yours. You know Mr. Jones's Willie is lying very low with scarlet fever; well, your recommendation was so enthusiastic that that girl is there nursing him, and the worn-out family have all been trustingly sound asleep for the last fourteen hours, leaving their darling with full confidence in those fatal hands, because you, like young George Washington, have a reputa— However, if you are not going to have anything to do, I will come around to-morrow and we'll attend the funeral together, for, of course, you'll naturally feel a peculiar interest in Willie's case — as personal a one, in fact, as the undertaker."
But that was all lost. Before I was half-way through she was in a carriage and making thirty miles an hour