It was a January evening in 1994, Marie Robards was about to graduate from Mansfield High School in Texas and was working on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with her classmate Stacey High. They had reached their favorite passage, the monologue of Claudius, who had murdered his brother in order to take the royal throne himself. With the utmost pathos in her voice – only slightly tinged with her broad Texas accent – Stacey recited Claudius’ desperate speech in which he ponders whether he will ever be able to repent:

My crime is doneBut oh, what turn of prayersuits me? “Forgive me for my vile murder?” This cannot be so; I still have everything left that drove me to murder…

“What a cool spot!” exclaimed Stacey. But then she saw that Marie had turned pale. Her hands were shaking.

“Stacey,” Marie asked, “do you think people can go through life without a conscience?”

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