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Our Lady of La Salette

The novelist and the galley slaves.

A famous novelist, whose libertine pen had scandalized many readers, was visiting a prison and curiously examining its details in order to draw the material for some striking description. He was recognized in a room by two young convicts whom his books had corrupted. When they saw him, they stood up, greeted him and, taking him by the hand, showed him a place in the middle of them.

“Thank you, gentlemen, I have no time to sit down.
– Ah, so you are not coming to stay with us?
– What do you mean?
– Don’t you have to share our shackles?
– No, certainly not; what have I done to deserve to be your companion?
– You deserve it more than we do, for we are here only for having practiced your lessons, and for having made two or three people practice them; but you, have you not corrupted thousands of young people? and does not the contagion that you have spread, make new victims every day?
– I never intended to harm anyone, replied the writer, blushing.
– And yet you have caused more crimes to be committed than can be blamed on all those who are in this prison.
– Honest people do not think like you, young insolents, since they have put shackles on your feet, while they shower me with honors.
– Men are often unjust,” cried one of the unfortunate galley slaves in the highest tone of voice; “but in the court of God you will be treated more rigorously than we are, O illustrious corrupter! Then your torture will begin. We will be there to enjoy it. Goodbye.”

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