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The White Lie That Brought Misery
by Verna Mull 
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My brother Gaylord, and I both played a cornet when we were young. Since he was 5 years my elder, and we didn’t have much money, my parents borrowed a cornet from one of our neighbors, when he began to take lessons, and then, when I started, we shared it.

During the summer, there were lessons one day per week, and I walked the 3 miles to town to take my lesson, that is only the background of my story.

The real problem began when school was in session, and it was time for my cornet lesson, in place of a study hall. I rushed out, grabbed the cornet out of the cubby hole where it was stored during school hours; and headed down a long flight of stairs towards the gym, where my lesson was held.

Less than half way down the stairs, the case flew open and the cornet bounced down the stairs. When I reached the bottom, I picked it up. I was shaking for fear of damage to the cornet, but I looked it over with a quick glance. I saw no signs of damage. I breathed a sigh of relief, and rushed on for my lesson.

When we arrived home from school that evening, my brother said to me, “What did you do to the cornet? You know it isn’t really ours and now Mama and Daddy will have to pay for it.” I replied, “I didn’t do anything to it.” He said, “You must have, because when I went to take my lesson one tube was bent almost halfway in.”

Immediately, I thought about the bouncing fall down the steps, but I hadn’t seen anything wrong at the time. My second thought was, he must have done something to it and is trying to blame me, and I told him so. He just stated it wasn’t true, and for some reason, nothing more was said.

After supper, Mama said she wanted to talk to me, and I stayed in the kitchen. She asked me if I had dropped the cornet. Well, I’d already told Gaylord that I hadn’t done anything to it, so I was not about to admit to her that I had dropped it; but that pointed question made me begin to realize that perhaps it had happened at the time I had dropped it, and I had not seen it.

I told her “No.” After all, when you begin to weave a tangled web, it is easier to lie again than to try to untangle it. Mama just looked at me and said, “Well, one of you is not telling the truth.” I had been taught not to lie, and my whole being felt suddenly ill, but I had gone too far to retract now.

Through the following weeks, I lost my appetite, and even had great difficulty sleeping at night.

We both had some lectures which didn’t help me at all. The web grew deeper, and food was even less desirable.

When I tried to say my prayers at night, I would just hear God asking me the same questions as my parents. Oh how I wished this would all just go away.

I began to realize that Gaylord was 5 years older than I, and much more mechanical. He had probably noticed something that I didn’t see when I picked up the cornet.

Then, there was the talk of the expense of fixing the cornet, where to take it, etc. The more that was said, the less appeal food had to me, and I began to lose weight quite rapidly.

Early one Saturday morning, as I sat in the kitchen cutting up some of Mama’s lie soap for her to wash the clothes in. Mama said to me, “Vernabelle, you are going to have to start eating, or I am going to have to take you to the Doctor. You are beginning to be skin and bones. We are going to have to find out what is wrong.”

I burst into tears and sobbed and sobbed. Mama took me in her arms, and pleaded, “Please tell me what is wrong.” Her tender love gave me the courage that I needed to tell her, “Mama, I lied to you. I really didn’t think I had hurt the cornet, but when you asked me if I had dropped it, I told you ‘”no,” and I did know that I had.” My tongue had been loosened, and I told her the whole story.

Of course, she used the opportunity to reinforce the reasons that it was so bad to lie; but we knelt by the chair there on that old linoleum floor, and we both poured out our prayers to God. I prayed for His forgiveness, and Mama prayed that God would help me never to tell another lie.

That morning, I ate enough breakfast for two people, and determined that sin was even worse than I had thought. His was before I had given my heart to the Lord, but I did often feel the desire to really know Him, and His love that He had given Mama.

What about Gaylord? Bless his heart; I do not recall that he ever mentioned the situation to me again. Perhaps Mama had suggested that he did not?

(This took place many long years ago, and I pray that I have my facts straight! God forgive me if I do not.)

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Member Comments
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Marijo Phelps 23 Mar 2011
Amazing what a festering mess one little lie can turn into, isn't it? You found the right place (on your knees) what a valuable lesson for one so young to learn - thanks for writing this piece to share with the rest of us!


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