Archive of Issues
Archive of Narrations
Syndic Literary Journal


Written by Paul M. Levitt


Narrated by Syndic Literary Journal Poets

Published by LeRoy Chatfield


Introduction by the Publisher

Paul. M. Levitt, Professor Emeritus of English,  University of Colorado at Boulder, has written 14 Moral Fables that I have agreed to publish ~ and narrate ~  in serial-fashion in Syndic Literary Journal.

The titles of these Moral Fables are: Bad Words; Crybaby; Making Believe and Day Dreaming; Drawing the Line; Eating; Pocket Money; Nay Saying; Practice; Respect; Shouting; Tidiness; Telling the Truth; Whining; and No Bullying

The narration for each Moral Fable is  provided by a Poet  from Syndic Literary Journal.

I hope you will enjoy these moral fables as much as I do.

~ LeRoy Chatfield, Publisher


Moral Fable No.10  ~ 

Telling the Truth

Narrated by Poet Charles Rammelkamp


     “You must never tell a lie,” Mr. Hill instructed his son, Ben, who had knocked over the living room lamp with a kick of his football, and then told his parents that a ghost had done it.  Mrs. Hill wasn’t happy about the broken lamp, but she thought that Ben’s explanation was charming.  She therefore proposed that rather than punish Ben, they ought to encourage his imagination.

     “Imagination, shmagination,” growled Mr. Hill.  “Ben must learn the difference between telling the truth and telling lies.”

     “Is the difference so clear-cut?” asked Mrs. Hill.

     “As clear as the nose on your face,” answered Mr. Hill.

     But Ben, who took after his mother, had trouble telling what was true and what was not.  When, for example, his father asked him whether he had eaten his spinach, he answered yes, because he had, in fact, taken several mouthfuls.  But he had not eaten all his spinach.  Was he telling the truth then?  On another occasion, when his father asked him what time he had returned from school, he answered “3:30.”  Then he wondered if it wasn’t really 3:25 or 3:35.  And what if his watch had been wrong?  Maybe it was actually 4:00 or 4:30.  How was one to know what was true and what was not?  When he was asked if he liked his friend Megan’s birthday party, he said yes—but only to be polite.  In fact, he had had a terrible time.  Was he guilty, then, of lying, because he said he liked the party?  He wondered:  How does one ever know for sure what the difference is between a white lie and a real lie, a fib and a falsehood?  When in doubt, he thought, it’s best just to make up a story.

     “Did you finish your homework?” Mr. Hill asked Ben.

     “Yes, Dad.”

     “Show it to me,” said Mr. Hill.

     Ben brought the homework assignment to his father, who looked it over and replied:

     “I thought you said that you finished your homework?”

     “I did finish it,” answered Ben.

     “Then how come problem number three is only half done and problem nine isn’t done at all?” asked Mr. Hill.

     “Because,” explained Ben, “I couldn’t finish number three and I couldn’t figure out number nine.”

     “In other words,” snapped Mr. Hill, “you lied to me.”

     Ben, thinking that he’d told the truth, didn’t know what to say, so he made up a story.

     “The truth is, Dad, I was under a spell.  The witch of the north blew smoke in my eyes, blue smoke.  And as it swirled, I could just barely make out, in the light of my desk lamp, two numbers dancing on my homework assignment.  The numbers were three and nine, both of them magical numbers.  Watching their spinning magic, I grew dizzy—and thought that I had finished my homework.”

     “Get upstairs!” thundered Mr. Hill.  “You’re grounded for a month without an allowance and without any television.  I’m not going to have a liar for a son!”

     Ben did as his father ordered; but Ben was very upset.  He did not want to be grounded for a month, or to forfeit his allowance, or to lose his right to watch television.  He wondered how he could get back in his father’s good graces.  He thought and thought.  At last, he had an idea.  He would tell the truth about absolutely everything.  In other words, he would never lie or make up stories.  He thought his father would be so pleased that he’d forgive him and let him, once again, play outside, watch television, and have an allowance.  But as things worked out, Ben wasn’t entirely right.

     For the very next day, an incident occurred that enabled Ben to tell the truth when he could have made up a story instead.  A neighbor, Mr. Brown, knocked at the front door.

     “There’s that big mouth neighbor of ours,” Mr. Hill said to Ben.  “Tell him I’m not at home.”

     When Ben opened the door and Mr. Brown asked him if his father was at home, Ben, not wishing to tell a lie, said yes.

     “Then would you please call him?” asked Mr. Brown.

     “I can’t,” answered Ben.

     “Why not?” asked Mr. Brown.

     “Because,” explained Ben, “my father doesn’t want to see you.  He says you’re a big mouth.”

     Mr. Hill was so embarrassed that in order to patch things up with Mr. Brown, he took him to dinner at the very best restaurant in town.

     A few days later, Megan’s mother came to the house to borrow a mixing bowl from Mrs. Hill.  When she saw Ben, she smiled and said:

     “I’m so glad you liked Megan’s party.  I certainly hope all the children had a good time.”

     “I really didn’t like the party and I don’t think the other children did either.”

     Mrs. Hill was so flustered that she told Megan’s mother to keep the mixing bowl, saying that she didn’t want it back.

     The last straw for Mr. Hill was the family reunion, at which Ben’s grandmother asked him if he liked the sweater she knitted for him; and he, trying to be perfectly truthful, said he did not.

     “What?” responded his grandmother.  “Your father told me that you loved it.”

     “He was lying,” said Ben.

     “Why would he do that?” asked his grandmother.

     “Because,” answered Ben, “he didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

     “Well, Ben,” advised his grandmother, “you’d be wise to follow your father’s example.”


What would you advise?

  1. that Ben not tell the truth;
  2. that Ben always tell the truth;
  3. that Ben tell the truth sometimes but not other times;
  4. that Mr. Hill encourage his son’s imagination, just as his wife suggested;
  5. that Mr. Hill spank Ben for getting Mr. Hill in trouble;
  6. that Mr. Hill figure out for himself what truth is?



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
Write Letter / Contact Publisher
© all photos/text

Archive of Issues

Archive of Narrations