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TO THROW A STONE

“They dragged her to a tree and threw a rope over the limb, and began to make a noose in it, some holding her, meantime, and she crying and begging, and her young daughter looking on and weeping, but afraid to say or do anything.

They hanged the lady, and I threw a stone at her, although in my heart I was sorry for her; but all were throwing stones and each was watching his neighbor, and if I had not done as the others did it would have been noticed and spoken of. Satan burst out laughing.

So we walked away, and I was not at ease, but was saying to myself, ‘He told them he was laughing at them, but it was a lie — he was laughing at me.’

That made him laugh again, and he said, ‘Yes, I was laughing at you, because, in fear of what others might report about you, you stoned the woman when your heart revolted at the act — but I was laughing at the others, too.’

‘Why?’

‘Because their case was yours.’

‘How is that?’

‘Well, there were sixty-eight people there, and sixty-two of them had no more desire to throw a stone than you had.'”

Mark Twain – The Mysterious Stranger

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