Once there was a man who could not tell a lie. It’s not that he wanted to lie, but no matter what he did he would always tell the truth. He was terrible at keeping secrets, and no one ever told him about surprises they were planning. But as people the people in his town knew him longer, they came to accept and even appreciate his unwavering honesty.
After a few years living in the village, he married a young woman who loved the fact that he always told the truth. She knew she could trust him no matter what happened, and she loved the honest way he lived his life; he couldn’t lie with his actions any more than he could lie with his words and, because of that, never tried to cheat anyone of what they were due.
The two lived happily for a time, the husband maintaining his honest ways and the wife preventing anyone who was less honest than her husband from taking advantage of him (sometimes the man forgot that not everyone was as honest and good natured as he was). Eventually the wife became pregnant and the two were overjoyed that their family was going to grow.
However, not everyone was as happy as the two of them. There was one woman who committed a crime in the village and the man who could not tell a lie reported her wicked ways. She was locked up because of it, and harbored a deep hatred for the man and his family. The evil woman knew that the man losing his wife and children would hurt him far more than anything she could do to him, so she escaped her imprisonment and tried to kill the pregnant wife. She did not succeed, but vowed to keep trying until the wife and children were dead.
The man who could not tell a lie and his wife were very frightened about this and they agreed that the wife should go into hiding until the evil woman could be caught. They also agreed that the husband could not know where his wife was hiding, because if anyone were to ask him, he would have to tell them.
As they had agreed, the wife went into hiding. As she was leaving the village she was chased by the evil woman. The wife ran as fast as she could and got away, but she never looked back. Unfortunately, the reason she successfully got away was that the evil woman tripped and fell on her neck, killing her instantly, which meant the wife no longer needed to hide. But she didn’t know that, and hid herself as well as she could.
Not long after this happened, the man who could not tell a lie found the body of the evil woman and knew that his family was safe. He set out to find his wife and tell her, but didn’t know where to start looking. After years of searching, he finally found his wife and, to his surprise, their twin sons. The family returned to their village and lived a happy life for a while.
Eventually, as the boys grew, they began to explore the world around them and cause trouble, as children do. Their father would tell the boys places they should not go for their safety, and that is exactly where they would go, as soon as their father turned his back on them. They sometimes got scrapes and bruises – once a broken arm – but they hadn’t gotten seriously injured. Yet. Their parents worried constantly about the boys.
One day the man found a dangerous ravine close to their village and asked his wife to tell the boys to stay away from it. The wife agreed, but then forgot to pass on the message and the boys spent the day playing in the streets of the village. When the man returned home that night, he asked his wife what she had told the boys to convince them to stay away. She confessed that she had forgotten to tell them about it, and together they realized that they couldn’t go to these dangerous places if they didn’t know about them.
The man who could not tell a lie was worried – of course he had to tell the boys, he couldn’t lie to them. But his wife had a plan. Every time he found somewhere dangerous he told his wife. She made the decision on whether to tell the boys or not. After that the family lived happily together for many years.
Author’s Note: This story is loosely based on the Native American Hero Tale “Lodge-Boy and Throw-Away,” in which there is a man and wife who are expecting twins when the wife is murdered, and the boys are thrown away. Eventually the father is reunited with his sons and they “wake up” their mother. The boys then go to various dangerous locations that their father tells them not to go. Every time they do this, however, they fix whatever the problem is. When I read the story, I thought the obvious solution was to just stop telling the boys about things. I also changed the wife’s fate, because I thought it was weird that she died and then didn’t. Finally, I made the man unable to tell a lie, so that he had a reason to keep telling his sons about the places he found.
Bibliography: “Lodge Boy and Throw-Away” by Stith Thompson. Web Source.
Image: Twins by Free-Photos. Source: Pixabay