Probably every one has played that amusing and instructive game which has so aptly been called "gossip." A dozen or more people take part, the more the merrier and the better the chances of success. Number one whispers some remark to number two, who, without waiting to make sure of what was said, repeats the remark as nearly as he can to number three, and so on until the last person gets the message and announces it to the group. The characteristic result is a message so distorted that it may bear no resemblance whatever to the original either in thought or words, and when compared with what each person actually said to his neighbor will show unaccountable alterations from start to finish. This will occur even when every member of the group honestly tries to repeat exactly what was whispered, but when some members—just for fun, of course—distort the remark purposely, the effect is still more striking, although this is not, strictly speaking, a legitimate method of playing the game.

If we, the reader and I, happen to belong to that rare class of people who have become addicted to thinking, this game, or even its description, will teach us a lesson. We will see that if an innocent remark in a harmless game can so easily become distorted, the same result is more than likely to follow in every-day life, especially when a little tang of malice, or envy, or jealousy, or spite is added, consciously or unconsciously, as the remark is bandied from mouth to mouth. Then, turning our thoughts upon ourselves, we will see the wisdom of protecting ourselves by maintaining a golden silence rather than by risking the possible passage of counterfeit silver speech when a thought presents itself for utterance. Nay, further, we will wisely refuse to accept such thoughts when presented not only by people who may be more or less envious, spiteful, or malicious, but by those who imagine they are giving us a timely and kindly warning by promiscuously ladling out unkind stories. We will see that if we lay ourselves open to accept such things from and about others, we must expect to have similar things said about ourselves; therefore, we will take to ourselves that well known and but imperfectly heeded verse,—

January 23, 1909

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