Rumors in small towns spread like fire in a hayfield on a hot July day. Alfred James, the treasurer of the Simplex Pond Little League, allegedly pocketed money from not only the admission fees but also the concession stand. How was he caught?

Gilmore Hilton, the owner of a small store, was suspicious. He knew that James once had his business run a raffle in which there was no winner, offered a senior citizen discount in which a 2-year-old qualified and lowered the grade of a product after the sale. Confronted, Alfred managed to lie his way out of these crimes.

Hilton had a plan. He wrote down the serial number of a dollar bill, purchased with that currency a hot dog at the Little League, waited until the money from that day should have been deposited, and greeted Alfred when he came into his store two days later. Mr. James purchased his daily coffee with — you guessed it — the same dollar bill with which Gilmore had bought his hot dog. Wisely, he had the local police chief (not by chance but by design) nonchalantly reading the newspaper in the store. Alfred James was caught.

Gilmore, as expected, was praised in the local paper, and the natives who often gathered at his business spoke of little else for a week. The story even made its way to the Boston papers. He declined an interview with a reporter from the New York Times. “It’s too close to Yankee Stadium, and I hate that baseball team.”

In truth, the store owner feared a false rumor about himself. As is his custom, he took his ever-present copy of Vergil’s ‘The Aeneid” and translated a personification: “Rumor, swiftest of all the evils in the world, thrives on speed. Becoming stronger with every stride and a bit fearful at first, soon she soars into the air and treads the ground while hiding her head in the clouds.”

He then gave us a round of Moxie and toasted, “Here’s to honesty.”


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