“But I am anxious to hear both sides of the story before I decide to assist her,” replied Mrs. Freeman.
“Nonsense!” exclaimed her friend. “Even you must see that there cannot be two sides to this story. There is no possible excuse for cruelty, and to an inoffensive, aged woman.”
While they were thus consulting together, their visiter regarded them with a troubled look, and a fierce gleaming eye, which did not, escape Mrs. Freeman’s observation; and just as Mrs. Morris finished speaking, the maniac sprang upon her, like a tiger on his prey, and, seizing her by the throat, demanded what new mischief was plotting against her.
The screams of the terrified women drew the attention of the son of the old lady, who had just discovered her absence, and was hastening in search of her. At once suspecting the truth, he rushed without ceremony into his neighbour’s house, and speedily rescued Mrs, Morris from her unpleasant and somewhat dangerous situation. After conveying his mother to her own room, and consigning her to strict custody, he returned, and respectfully apologized to Mrs. Freeman for what had taken place.
“His poor mother,” he said, “had for several years been subject to occasional fits of insanity. Generally she had appeared harmless, excepting as regarded herself. Unless prevented by force, she would sometimes beat her own flesh in a shocking manner, uttering at the same time loud cries and complaints of the abuse of those whom she supposed to be tormenting her.
“In her lucid intervals she had so earnestly besought them not to place her in the asylum for the insane, but to continue to bear with her under their own roof, that they had found it impossible to refuse their solemn promise to comply with her wishes.
“For themselves, their love for her rendered them willing to bear with her infirmities, but it should be their earnest care that their neighbours should not again be disturbed.”
Mrs. Freeman kindly expressed her sympathy and forgiveness for the alarm which she had experienced, and the gentleman took leave.
Poor Mrs. Morris had remained perfectly silent since her release; but as the door closed on their visiter, and her friend kindly turned to inquire how she found herself, she recovered her speech, and exclaimed, energetically,
“I will never, never say again that there are not two sides to a story. If I am ever tempted to believe one side without waiting to hear the other, I shall surely feel again the hands of that old witch upon my throat.”
“Old witch!” repeated Mrs. Freeman. “Surely she demands our sympathy as much as when we thought her suffering under ill-treatment. It is indeed a sad thing to be bereft of reason. But this will be a useful lesson to both of us: for I will readily acknowledge that in this instance I was sometimes tempted to forget that there are always ‘two sides to a story.’”