A guest said recently, upon leaving my home: "I like to come here. It's the one place I can say anything I want to, knowing it won't go further." The compliment really should have gone to my mother.
One day when I was about eight, I was playing beside an open window, while Mrs. Brown confided to my mother a serious problem concerning her son. When Mrs. Brown had gone, my mother, realizing I had heard everything, said:
"If Mrs. Brown had left her purse here today, would we give it to anyone else?"
"Of course not," I replied.
Mother continued: "Mrs. Brown left something more precious than her pocketbook today. She left a story that could make many people unhappy. That story is not ours to give to anyone. It is still hers, even though she left it here. So we shall not give it to anyone. Do you understand?"
I did. And I have understood ever since that a confidence or a bit of careless gossip which a friend has left at my house is his—not mine to give to anyone.