The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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18 THE FINEST LIAR IN THE WORLD
The beardless man finished grinding his own corn, and when he had done he said to the boy, who was beginning to grind his, ' Suppose, sonny, we make a cake of what you have there.'
Now the boy had been rather uneasy when he re­collected his father's words, but he thought to himself, ' What is done cannot be undone,' and answered, ' Very well, so let it be.'
Then the beardless one got up, threw the flour into the tub, and made a hole in the middle, telling the boy to fetch some water from the river in his two hands, to mix the cake. When the cake was ready for baking they put it on the fire, and covered it with hot ashes, till it was cooked through. Then they leaned it up against the wall, for it was too big to go into a cupboard, and the beardless one said to the boy:
' Look here, sonny : if we share this cake we shall neither of us have enough. Let us see who can tell the biggest lie, and the one who lies the best shall have the whole cake.'
The boy, not knowing what else to do, answered, ' All right; you begin.'
So the beardless one began to lie with all his might, and when he was tired of inventing new lies the boy said to him, ' My good fellow, if that is all you can do it is not much! Listen to me, and I will tell you a true story. ' In my youth, when I was an old man, we had a quantity of beehives. Every morning when I got up I counted them over, and it was quite easy to number the bees, but I never could reckon the hives properly. One day, as I Tvas counting the bees, I discovered that my best bee was missing, and without losing a moment I saddled a cock and went out to look for him. I traced him as far as the shore, and knew that he had crossed the sea, and that I must follow. When I had reached the other side I found a man had harnessed my bee to a plough, and with his help was sowing millet seed.
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