The Violet Fairy Book
The Finest Liar In The World
At the edge of a wood there lived an old man who had only one son, and one day he
called the boy to him and said he wanted some corn ground, but the youth must be sure
never to enter any mill where the miller was beardless.
The boy took the corn and set out, and before he had gone very far he saw a large mill in
front of him, with a beardless man standing in the doorway.
'Good greeting, beardless one!' cried he.
'Good greeting, sonny,' replied the man.
'Could I grind something here?'
'Yes, certainly! I will finish what I am doing and then you can grind as long as you like.'
But suddenly the boy remembered what his father had told him, and bade farewell to the
man, and went further down the river, till he came to another mill, not knowing that as
soon as his back was turned the beardless man had picked up a bag of corn and run
hastily to the same mill before him. When the boy reached the second mill, and saw a
second beardless man sitting there, he did not stop, and walked on till he came to a third
mill. But this time also the beardless man had been too clever for him, and had arrived
first by another road. When it happened a fourth time the boy grew cross, and said to
himself, 'It is no good going on; there seems to be a beardless man in every mill'; and he
took his sack from his back, and made up his mind to grind his corn where he was.
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
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
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.