If you were in Mr. or Mrs. Riphagen's shoes how would you react? Of course you would be happy finding the long-lost rings for which you would have given up all hopes, but how would you react to the person who had stolen it?
Just think of it, you could not find four of your gold rings on the morning following a party that you hosted the previous night. There were only invited guests, so the idea that someone might have stolen it would probably not even enter your mind. You would naturally think that you must have misplaced them, and since you probably had some sweet memories attached to the rings, you would have looked for them all over. And not finding them you would be pretty upset on yourself for being careless in placing them in some strange location.
Then you would rethink in your mind tracing the steps from the moment you last had possession of them. You would come up with some probable alternatives, your hopes of finding them would rise, you would rush to look for them, only to be disheartened again. Then you would repeat this umpteenth time, getting more and more discouraged with each failure, until you would sadly resign to the fact that you would never find them. The process would leave a vacuum in you.
Then one day, fifteen years later you find those rings with the letter of apology from the person who had stolen it—what would transpire in your mind? After the initial joy slowly fades over the next few days, what would you think? Would you start thinking, who could it be? Would you try to remember who were the people that had gathered at your home fifteen years ago, on that fateful night? Would you try to scrutinize each face, and think who could be the thief? Would you be shocked that the thief was one of your invited guests, a trusted friend? A relative?
Would that thought disturb you? Would you start suspecting someone? Would that force you to speculate? And, would you at one moment think that perhaps it would have been better not to get those rings back at all? For fifteen years you had a vacuum, but that vacuum had almost shrunk to a nearly nonexistent dimension. You had learnt to live without them. Now would their return perturb you so much, since you were afraid of accusing someone innocent in your mind, it would have been better, if the person would not have returned them to you? And most importantly, would you truly be able to forgive the person?
But for the thief, why this change of mind after 15 years? Why did it take the person such a long time for change-of-heart? Was it the sense of embarrassment that kept the person from returning the objects all these years? What did finally catapult the person to gather the courage to return the items? What was it that gave the person remorse, strong enough to act?
Previously published on Technorati.