Once, in the 1820’s, a little boy named Sam was playing in the yard behind his house. In the course of his activities, he knocked over the outhouse. Sam was upset and worried that he would get into a heap of trouble so he ran into the woods, not coming out until after dark. His dad was waiting for him when he got home.
“Son, did you knock over the outhouse this afternoon?”
“No, pa,” Sam lied.
“Well, let me tell you a story,” said the father. “Once, many years ago, George Washington received a shiny new axe from his father. Excited, he tried it out on a tree, cutting it down. With dismay, George realized it was his mother’s favorite cherry tree, and like you, Sam, he ran into the woods. When the young man returned, the father asked if he had cut down the cherry tree, to which the son responded, ‘Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did indeed chop down the tree.’ Since Washington was honest with his father, the son was spared punishment.
“So, Sam, did you knock down the outhouse?”
“Pa, I cannot tell a lie, I did indeed knock down the outhouse.”
With that, Sam’s father put him over his knee and applied the paddle to his rump.
“Pa, I told you the truth, why did you spank me?”
“Because George Washington’s father wasn’t in the tree when he chopped it down.”