Good morning! And welcome once again to Sunday Griot! Come on in, have a seat and I’ll tell you a story. Today’s story is true — well all stories are true, but this one actually happened (although as usual it’s been embellished a bit), and though it happened almost 100 years ago, it has a message for today. We begin the story in the middle of a discussion about whether . . . an innocent man has nothing to fear.

“I quite disagree,” said Horace.

“But why should he?” said Horace’s friend. “If a man has done nothing, why should he worry? The facts of it will come out.”

The year was 1909. Horace was a student at Cambridge, and keenly interested in politics. He happened to be in London that day, and had met up with a friend of his, a member of Parliament from Leeds. The topic of discussion had turned to crime and punishment, and whether an innocent man had anything to fear from the authorities.

The debate had been going on for some time when suddenly Horace sighed. “Perhaps you’re right,” he said in apparent acquiescence. He looked up absently, as if listening to some inner voice, then tapped his friend on the shoulder. “Race you to the corner?”

“You’re on,” said the MP.

“All right,” said Horace. “Ready – steady – GO!”

The MP took off like a shot, but instead of racing, Horace began to scream bloody murder. “Thief! Thief!” he yelled. “Stop that man! He’s got my watch!” Only then did Horace take off running after the MP.

A policeman at the corner the MP had been rushing toward grabbed the MP as he rushed past. “What’s all this then?” the copper asked.

Horace rushed up to the policeman, out of breath. “Thank you, officer,” he panted.

“Stop this!” the MP said to Horace, then turned to the officer. “Do you know who I am?”

“Can’t say that I do, sir,” the policeman replied. The MP identified himself.

“And my name, officer,” Horace offered, “is Horace de Vere Cole.”

Horace made a great show of reaching into the MP’s jacket pocket and he pulled out a watch, which he had slipped into the pocket when his friend wasn’t looking. Inside the cover of the watch was the inscription: “H. d.V. Cole.”

The officer led the MP away, still protesting. “Don’t worry,” Horace called after him. “After all, an innocent man has nothing to fear.”

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