This short story was taken from a book entitled The Mystic Tie by Allen E. Roberts published by Macoy Publishing – Richmond Virginia 1991.


Shortly before the war (American Civil War), between the states a young man said to his wife after supper; “Mary, you have a shawl you never use, may I have it?”

She looked at him strangely, but got the shawl. He thanked her and left the house. She was not only puzzled, she was suspicious. Several evenings during the last couple of months, he had left after dinner without any explanation. He hadn’t stayed away long, and when he returned he had a strange air about him. He seemed to have an inner peace. He said nothing; neither did she.

About a week after this latest incident Mary was shopping in the village when she saw her shawl again. She was shocked. It was on the shoulders of a beautiful young lady. Angrily Mary followed the girl to a shabby shack. After the girl had entered, Mary knocked on the door. The girl opened it and smiled when she saw her visitor. She held the door open and Mary stomped in.

As she looked around she saw an elderly lady propped up on a cot. The lady smiled and said “How nice of you to visit us.”

Mary was stunned. She didn’t really know what to say, so she just looked from the elderly lady to the girl. The girl asked if she could fix her a cup of tea. Mary nodded and the girl turned to put a kettle on the stove.

While the water was heating Mary sat in a chair beside the elderly lady. I don’t know exactly what to say, so I will tell you the truth,” she said. “I saw my shawl on your daughter and I was furious. Last week my husband asked me for it, but didn’t tell me why. I’m sure now that he did not have an ulterior motive, but I still don’t understand how you have it.”

The girl and her mother looked at each other. Then the mother said: “We have no idea who left it. We have no idea who has been doing some nice things for us for the past several months. Perhaps now we can solve the mystery. It started soon after my husband died. We had no money and I am unable to work. And Nancy couldn’t find a job. We were desperate. We had no food and no fuel. Then one morning when Nancy opened the door she found several packages of food, clothing and coal on the door- stoop. You have no idea what that meant to us.

“A short time later, along with more packages, Nancy found a note telling her to see Mr. Tompkins, the lawyer, if she would like a job. She did and Mr. Tompkins hired her. He sent a doctor to see me. He has been coming regularly to see me ever since, and he won’t take any money. And we still find packages, but have no idea where they come from.”

They drank their tea and chatted pleasantly for some time. The mysterious packages were mentioned from time to time. Suddenly Mary asked: “Was your husband a Mason?”

“Yes he was,” said the lady. “He loved his Lodge. I don’t think he ever missed a meeting.” A short time later Mary left, promising to visit often.

After dinner that evening, Mary worked on the quilt she was making while her husband read. She looked up from her work and said: “I think I learned the great secret of Masonry today.”

Her husband looked at her in alarm and asked: “Oh! And what is it?”

Mary answered: “To do good and not say anything about it!”

Mary’s husband and the members of the little Lodge in their village, plucked off their shoes to help those in need. Should we do anything less?