A deathbed conversion

"Now I will tell you an interesting thing. For a long time there was no appeal from the court of ‘Hanging Judge’ Parker at Fort Smith except to the President of the United States. . . . The judge was a big tall man with blue eyes and brown billy-goat beard, and he seemed to me to be old, though he was only around forty years of age at that time. His manner was grave. On his deathbed he asked for a priest and became a Catholic. That was his wife’s religion. It was his own business and none of mine. If you had sentenced one hundred and sixty men to death and seen around eighty of them swing, then maybe at the last minute you would feel the need of some stronger medicine than the Methodists could make. It is something to think about."

from True Grit, Mattie Ross’s account of how she and Marshall Rooster Cogburn and a Texas Ranger avenged her father’s blood in the Indian Territory.