Ionica The Liar

Thou shalt not lie! A lie might get you lunch, but not supper. And there's no honesty in a liar...There lived once a little boy, Ionica by his name, who was always loath to help his parents. He didn't like it and that's that.Whenever his father said to him:"Ionica, see to this or that thing!"He never said he wouldn't do it."In a heartbeat, father dear," he would answer.But he only pretended to help. And he didn't.And he got away with it once, twice, three times.Then his father began to sense that the boy was up to no good. And he cooked up a plan to teach him a lesson.One day the boy comes up to his father and says in a mellow voice:"Father dear! You said a while ago that you'd make me some new brogues if I work hard around the house. And I do, father. For, see, my old brogues are all down-at-heel."It's ill, my dear readers, for a lazy child to be a liar, too. But it's even worse to be conceited on top of it all.And that is just what Ionica was like...His father answered:"Well, my lad, for my part, I kept my end of the bargain. Now it's for you to show me how hardworking you really are.""I shall, father dear!" brags Ionica."Then look here," the father says, "run up into the attic right now. Winnow all the wheat you'll find there. And no sooner are you done that you'll get your reward.""Hurray!" Ionica shouts full of joy. "I'll get right down to it."And he feigns to be going up into the attic. He gets under the stairs and lies there in hiding for one hour. Then he comes back:"I finished winnowing all the wheat, father dear. Now you give me those new brogues you promised me, so I can go out into the lane and the make the boys green with envy!""Alas, my lad," says the father sadly. "I sent you up there to sort the chuff away from the wheat... you go up there again. Do the work properly this time and only then will you have the promised brogues!"The boy walks away, saying to himself:"I wonder how he can tell if I've sorted the wheat or not. It's not like he has a magic mirror!"So he climbs up into the attic once again. He kills time playing with the cats and then comes down again without laying his hands on one single grain of wheat."Have you winnowed the wheat, boy?" his father asks a second time."I have, father dear!" lies the boy. And in his heart he's already rejoicing his new brogues."No, you have not," says his father heavy-heartedly. "Come with me and I will show you it's like I say."They both climb up into the attic. The father winnows the wheat himself in front of the boy. And when he does so, lo and behold! Underneath the wheat he had hidden a brand new pair of brogues. Not just any kind of brogues, but ones made of yellow leather, shiny-clasped and black-laced.That is the sort of handsome brogues his father had hidden under the wheat!And the lad reached out to take his brogues.His father stopped him. He took them away, went down and hung them up on a nail right above Ionica's bed. So he can look at them and get into his head that lies are short-legged and truth always catches up with them... Tineretului, 1967

by Alexandru Mitru (b. 1914)