TOM SAWYER ABROAD TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE
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On the Decay of the Art of Lying               361
toward the Jones mansion to save what was left of Willie and tell all she knew about the deadly nurse. All of which was unnecessary, as Willie wasn't sick; I had been lying myself. But that same day, all the same, she sent a line to the hospital which filled up the neglected blank, and stated the facts, too, in the squarest possible manner.
Now, you see, this lady's fault was not in lying, but only in lying injudiciously. She should have told the truth, there, and made it up to the nurse with a fraud­ulent compliment further along in the paper. She could have said, " In one respect the sick-nurse is per­fection— when she is on watch, she never snores." Almost any little pleasant lie would have taken the sting out of that troublesome but necessary expression of the truth.
Lying is universal — we all do it; we all must do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, chari­tably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clum­sily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling. Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises ex­ecrable weather. Then — But I am but a new and feeble student in this gracious art; I cannot instruct this Club.
Joking aside, I think there is much need of wise ex­amination into what sorts of lies are best and whole-somest to be indulged, seeing we must all lie and do all