(The characters and events in this tale are fictional, and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Maybe.)
Once upon a time a good man lost a button from the front of his shirt. It was a nice shirt, especially suitable for spring and summer wear. When winter had ended, he took the shirt to his wife-of-many-years and said, "Dear Wife, would you please sew a new button onto my shirt? It is almost springtime, and I would like to wear it."
"Of course," replied the wife, "although I can't do it at this very moment."
"That's fine," said the good man. "Whenever you have time." And he handed the shirt to his wife, for safekeeping and to be mended at her convenience.
Days passed. Weeks passed. And, one morning, the good man said to himself, "I wonder if my wife has sewn a new button onto my shirt. Surely she has, by now." So he asked her, "Dear wife, have you sewn the button onto my shirt?"
"I don't remember you asking me to sew a button onto a shirt," said the wife. "What shirt would that be?"
The man replied, "My green and white, light-weight shirt."
"I'm sorry, dear Husband. I had forgotten, though now that you mention it I believe I do recall that you asked me to mend that shirt. If you will give it to me, I'll fix it today."
"But, I did give it to you, weeks ago," said the good man.
Certain that he had not done so, she shook her head. "No, I don't have it. You should look in your closet. I'm sure you will find it there, and then I will fix it for you." The wife said this, with clear conscience, believing it to be the truth.
The good man, knowing that he had entrusted it to her when he first asked her to repair it, none-the-less looked through the clothes hanging in his closet . . . to no avail. The shirt was not there. "Well," he said, "I guess it is gone. Perhaps I should buy a new shirt to replace it."
A few more weeks passed, and, one morning, the wife was busily sorting through her clothes and choosing some to be bundled and given to the needy. That was when she spied, in her own closet and to her surprise and embarrassment, her good husband's summer-weight shirt, with the button still missing. Until that moment it had been hidden from view by one of her very own jackets.
With great haste, the wife found a shirt button, sewed it onto the shirt, and lovingly and humbly hung the shirt upon a hanger in her husband's closet.
The moral to this tale:
"Good is best when sooneth wrought;
Lingering labors come to naught."
-Robert Southwell (1561-1595)
Take a look in your closet after you read this tale.
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