Fairy Tales / Italian Popular Tales

Italian Popular Tales

Truthful Joseph

Once upon a time there was a mother who had a son named Joseph; and because he never told a lie she called him Truthful Joseph.

One day when she was calling him, the king happened to pass by, and hearing her call him thus, asked her: "Why do you call him Truthful Joseph?" "Because he never tells a lie." Then the king said that he would like to have him in his service, and set him to keeping his cows.

Every morning Joseph presented himself to the king, and said: "Your Majesty's servant." The king answered: "Good morning, Truthful Joseph. How are the cows?" "Well and fat." "How are the calves?" "Well and handsome." "How is the bull?" "The same."

So he did every morning. The king praised him so highly in the presence of all his courtiers that they became angry at him; and one day, to make Joseph a liar, they sent to him a lady, who was to induce him by her words to kill the bull. Joseph was urged so strongly that he consented; but afterwards he was in great perplexity as to what he should tell the king.
So he put his cloak on a chair and pretended that it was the king, and said: "Your Majesty's servant. Good morning, Truthful Joseph. How are the cows? Well and fat. How are the calves? Well and handsome. How is the bull? The same. But no; that will not do! I am telling a lie! When the king asks me how the bull is, I will tell him that it is dead."

He presented himself to the king and said: "Your Majesty's servant." "Good morning, Truthful Joseph. How are the cows?" "Well and fat." "How are the calves?" "Well and handsome." "How is the bull?" "Your Majesty, a lady came and with her manners made me kill the bull. Pardon me."
The king answered: "Bravo, Truthful Joseph!" He summoned his courtiers and showed them that Joseph had not yet told any lie. And so Joseph remained always with the king, and the courtiers were duped, because they gained nothing that they had expected.

Source: Italian Popular Tales by Thomas Frederick Crane, A. M.

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