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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.

Necklace of truth.

By JEAN MACÉ
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

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Once there was a little girl named Coralie. She had but one fault. She told falsehoods. Her parents tried to cure her in many ways, but in vain. Finally they decided to take her to the enchanter Merlin. The enchanter Merlin lived in a glass palace. He loved truth. He knew liars by their odour a league off. When Coralie came toward the castle, Merlin was forced to burn vinegar to keep himself from being ill. Coralie's mother began to explain the reason for their coming. But Merlin stopped her. "I know all about your daughter, my good lady," he said. "She is one of the greatest liars in the world. She often makes me ill." Merlin's face looked so stern that Coralie hid her face under her mother's cloak. Her father stood before her to keep her from harm. "Do not fear," said Merlin. "I am not going to hurt your little girl. I only wish to make her a present." He opened a drawer and took from it a magnificent amethyst necklace. It was fastened with a shining clasp of diamonds. Merlin put the necklace on Coralie's neck and said, "Go in peace, my friends. Your little daughter carries with her a sure guardian of the truth." Then he looked sternly at Coralie and said, "In a year I shall come for my necklace. Do not dare to take it off for a single moment. If you do, harm will come to you!" "Oh, I shall always love to wear it! It is so beautiful!" cried Coralie. And this is the way she came by the wonderful Necklace of Truth. The day after Coralie returned home she was sent to school. As she had long been absent, the little girls crowded round her. There was a cry of admiration at sight of the necklace.



"Where did it come from? Where did you get it?" they asked. "I was ill for a long time," replied Coralie. "When I got well, mamma and papa gave me the necklace." A loud cry rose from all. The diamonds of the clasp had grown dim. They now looked like coarse glass. "Yes, indeed, I have been ill! What are you making such a fuss about?" At this second falsehood the amethysts, in turn, changed to ugly yellow stones. A new cry arose. Coralie was frightened at the strange behaviour of the necklace. "I have been to the enchanter Merlin," she said very humbly. Immediately the necklace looked as beautiful as ever. But the children teased her. "You need not laugh," said Coralie, "for Merlin was very glad to see us. He sent his carriage to the next town to meet us. Such a splendid carriage, with six white horses, pink satin cushions, and a negro coachman with powdered hair. Merlin's palace is all of jasper and gold. He met us at the door and led us to the dining-room. There stood a long table covered with delicious things to eat. First of all we ate----" Coralie stopped, for the children were laughing till the tears rolled down their cheeks. She glanced at the necklace and shuddered. With each new falsehood, the necklace had become longer and longer, till it already dragged on the ground. "Coralie, you are stretching the truth," cried the girls. "Well, I confess it. We walked, and we stayed there only five minutes." The necklace shrank at once to its proper size. "The necklace--the necklace--where did it come from?" "He gave it to me without saying a word. I think----"



She had not time to finish. The fatal necklace grew shorter and shorter till it choked her. She gasped for breath. "You are keeping back part of the truth," cried her schoolmates. "He said--that I was--one of the greatest--liars in the world." The necklace loosened about her neck, but Coralie still cried with pain. "That was why Merlin gave me the necklace. He said that it would make me truthful. What a silly I have been to be proud of it!" Her playmates were sorry for her. "If I were in your place," said one of them, "I should send back the necklace. Why do you not take it off?" Poor Coralie did not wish to speak. The stones, however, began to dance up and down and to make a terrible clatter. "There is something you have not told us," laughed the little girls. "I like to wear it." Oh, how the diamonds and amethysts danced! It was worse than ever. "Tell us the true reason." "Well, I see I can hide nothing. Merlin forbade me to take it off. He said great harm would come if I disobeyed." Thanks to the enchanted necklace, Coralie became a truthful child. Long before the year had passed, Merlin came for his necklace. He needed it for another child who told falsehoods. No one can tell to-day what has become of the wonderful Necklace of Truth. But if I were a little child in the habit of telling falsehoods, I should not feel quite sure that it might not be found again some fine day.

       



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