In 1806, Betty Cotton, of Edgefield, South Carolina, was tried for murder. She was accused of killing her third husband with an ax. When authorities dredged the pond behind her home, they found her husband’s body bearing the wounds that a good sharp ax would make.
But that’s not all they found.
They also found her first two husbands. One dead from poisoning and the other with a long needle stuck in his chest.
An open and shut case, right?
Ms. Cotton was acquitted. Eyewitnesses reported that she was so utterly charming on the witness stand that both judge and jury fell under her spell. Shortly after she was declared not guilty, she married one of the jurors.*
Charm. It’s one of the most powerful forces on earth.
Not only can it determine the outcome of a trial, it can cause an otherwise intelligent man to forget he’s married. It can cause financially astute people to make terrible investments. It can draw lonely people into ill-fated relationships. It can even get a man with few qualifications elected President of the United States.
Call me a cynic, but people who exude charm set off alarms in my brain. Sure, I like to be complimented as much as the next guy, but when a person really pours on the schmooze, I figure he’s up to something…something that will be good for him, but probably not for me.
Has someone new recently swept into your life…someone who seems to go out of his or her way to cater to you and make you feel wonderful? If so, be very careful. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive.”
Oh, and by the way…the aforementioned Betty Cotton, who had almost certainly murdered three of her husbands, was eventually murdered herself. By her brother. I guess the guy who knew her best didn’t find her so charming.
*Varla Ventura, The Book of the Bizarre (San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2008), p. 115