THE FOUR LIARS
In a certain village, there lived four young men who were good friends. They did not know how to trade or plant crops. They were lazy and spent their time sitting about. Thewe was only one thing they could do well. They cpould spin fanciful and impossible stories, because of this talent, the four young men were always invited to parties in their village. They amused the guests with their wonderful tales.
One day, the four friends went to a wedding party. Among the guests was a stranger. He was not handsome, but he was splendidly dressed in a fine silk longyi and a velvet jacket. A dagger, with a golden shaft, was held around his waist in a broad leather belt.
The four friends admired his rich clothes. They too would have lked to be as well dressed as the stranger.
“Why don’t we try to make him give us his clothes,” said one of the liars, who was called Maung Nga.
“How can we make him do that? We must think of a plan,” said another.
“I have an idea. We will make use of our talents to get him to give us his clothes. We will challenge him to a story telling contest. Each of us will thell his own most remarkable story. The person who doubts the truth of the story will lose the bet and become the slave of the winner. The stranger will lose, of course. Once he is our slave, his clothes will be ours. We will take these, but let him go. Everybody will think we are generous,” suggested Maung Nga.
“That’s a good plan indeed!” the other three agreed.
The four young men surrounded the stranger and they talked for a while. then, one of the young liars asked the stranger if he had many adventures.
“Oh yes,” the stranger answered, “I have seen and heard many strange things in my life.”
“well, I bet you have not had as many strange adventures as I have had,” said one of the young men.
“Neither of you have seen the wonderfull things I have seen,” said a third.
“well, why don’t we have a little game. Let us each tell the story of his most unusual adventure. The person who doubts the truth of the story will be the loser and become the slave of the winner,” Maung Nga suggested.
“that’s a good game,” said the stranger. “our host will be the judge.”
The four young liars smiled at each other. They were pleased that their trick was working as they planned. The host, who was the village headman, agreed to be the judge. The contest began.
“Go ahead with your stories,” said the stranger, “I’ll take the last turn.”
One of the four young men began.
“When I was born, my mother felt a need to drink the juice of a fresh coconut. My father, howver, did not dare to climb the high tree. So he asked his brothers to pict the cocnut for him. But nobody dared to do it because the tree was very high and the trunk very slippery. I saw that my mother was disappointed and decided to climb the tree myself. When everybody had left the room, I crept quietly out of the cradle and climbed the coconut tree. I reaced the top, picked a few coconut, and quickly came down the trunk, I put the fruit on the kitchen table and then crawled back into my cradle. Nobody in the house ever learned how the coconuts had come into the kitchen.”
The stranger nodded his head, but said nothing, now it was the turn of the second friend. This is what he said : “When I was only one month old, I went for a walk. Passed an orchard, and as I was hungry, I climbed up one of the fruit trees and at some fruit. It was cool and dark among the green leaves and I felt so comfortable that I soon fell asleep. When I woke up, I saw that someone had taken away the ladder which I had used to climb the tree. I did not know how to get down. Finally, I decided to go to the village and borrow a ladder. I did this, got the ladder, and put it against the trunk of the tree. In this way I was able to come down safely without an accident.”
Not the third young liar started his tale.
“when I was a child of seven, I went to the forest. Suddenly, a rabbit crossed my path. I ran after it and tried to catch it. But it disappeared among some bushes. I put my hand into my surprise when I discovered that I had a fierce tiger by the immediately I took his upper jaw with my left hand and his lower jaw with my right hand and tore the cruel beast into two halves.”
Still the stranger remained cal. “what a remarkable experience,” he said pleasantly. Then he looked at Maung Nga whose turn it was to tell a story.
Maung Nga had all the time been thinking of the most impossible events. This stranger was not easy to trick, but he felt he would succed where his friends had failed.
“Last year.” He said, “I went fishing. Usually, I catcfh a lot of fish but that day I was unlucky. Not a single fish came into my net. I returned to the shore and I met some fisherman. They told me there had not been any fish in the sea for a new weeks. I deicede to find out why. I sailed out again, and in the middle of the sea, I dived into the water. I went down and down until I reached the bottom of the sea. There I saw a huge shark which was swallowing all the fish. I got so angry that I took my ace and chopped the shark to pieces. I had not had my lunch and the fight with the fish had made me hungry. So I made a fire at the bottom of the sea and cooked some pieces of the big fish. They were delicious. When I was satisfied, I took the rest of the fish up and gave it to the fisherman who were waiting for me. Since then the fishermen have always come home with their boats loaded with fish.”
But even this impossible adventure did not excite the stranger. He stayed as calm as ever. “Well told,” je said, clapping his hands, “ but now, listen to my story.”
“In the village where I lived, I own a large filed. One day a bird dropped a seed on the ground. Out of the seed grew a big tree. Soon fruit began to appear on the tree. After a few days, four of the big, round fruit fell from its branches. I cut them opend and to my surprise four young boys came out. As the field was mine, the tree and its fruit were also mine, and so those four boys were my slaves. I took them under my care and they grew up into young men. Unfortunately, they were very lazy and they did not like to work. The only thing they ejoyed was chatting to each other.
“One week ago, these four young men ran away from my house. So I set out to find them. Well. I am glad to tell you that I have found them again. Come on. Young men, you know very well that you are the ones I am talking about. You are my slaves, you ran away but now I have found you again. Come home with me and don’t cause my any more trouble.”
The four liars realized that they had fallen into their own trap. If they said the sotry was true they were the slaves of the stranger. If they said the story was not true they had lost the bet and were his slaves. So they kep silent. The village head-man and all the other guests agreed that the stranger had won the bet.
“Now that you are my slaves,” the stranger said, “your clothes belong to me. Give them to me and I will let you free.”
The four young men gave him their clothes. Everyone laughed at them. They left the party at once and never tried to cheat again.