A stout healthy woman, named Mary Norris
was continually taken up as a vagrant, or committed for petty larceny.
As soon as she was discharged from the penalty of one misdemeanor, she was committed for another.
One day, Friend Hopper
, who was then inspector, said to her, ‘Well, Mary, thy time is cut next week.
Dost thou think thou shalt come back again?’
‘Yes,’ she replied sullenly.
‘Dost thou like
to come back?’
‘No, to be sure I don't,’ rejoined the prisoner.
‘But I've no doubt I shall
come back before the month is out.’
‘Why dost thou not make a resolution to behave better?’
said the kindly inspector.
‘What use would it be?’
‘You would n't take me into your family.
The doctor would n't take me into his family.
No respectable person would have anything to do with me. My associates must
be such acquaintances as I make here.
If they steal, I am taken up for it; no matter whether I am guilty or not. I am an old convict, and nobody believes what I say. O, yes, I shall come back again.
To be sure I shall come back,’ she repeated bitterly.
Her voice and manner excited Friend Hopper
compassion, and he thus addressed her: ‘If I will get a place for thee in some respectable family where they will be kind to thee, wilt thou give me thy word that thou wilt be honest and steady, and try to do thy duty.’
Her countenance brightened, and she eagerly answered, ‘Yes I will
! And thank God and you too, the longest day I have to live.’
He exerted his influence in her behalf, and procured a situation for her as head-nurse at the almshouse.
She was well contented there, and behaved with great propriety.
Seventeen years afterward, when Friend Hopper
had not seen her for a long time, he called to inquire about her, and was informed that during all those years, she had been an honest, sober, and useful woman.
She was rejoiced to see him again, and expressed lively gratitude, for the quiet and comfortable life she enjoyed through his agency.