DEAR MISS MANNERS: I attended a house party held in the home of an antiques dealer whose home was filled with magnificent furniture. In the distant past, a friend of mine and I talked often about how one must be taught to sit properly in any chair.
Well, as you would imagine, an oversized guest at this party sat indelicately on a small, expensive antique chair and broke one of the legs. The hostess was in another room. I heard and saw the crack because I was nearby. The chair was definitely seriously damaged.
Moments later, I left with another guest who gave me a ride home. I never told the hostess. Was I wrong? And, if I was supposed to tell the hostess, just how could I do that without embarrassing the awkward guest?
GENTLE READER: The hostess was going to find out whether you told her or not -- and was probably going to make her own assumptions about the culprit.
Miss Manners fears that the only reason to have told her would be to recuse yourself from blame. The guest who broke it should have confessed and offered to repair the damage. Perhaps he or she did; you left shortly after the crack. But not much good could come from your turning that person in.