"George Washington, did you chop down the cherry tree?"

"No, Father."

"I think you are lying!"

"No, no, no! I swear I did not chop down the cherry tree."

"Son, I saw you out here with your axe. Your punishment will be much worse for you if you lie. Now, tell me the truth!"

"Dad, I answered your question truthfully. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions. While my answer was legally accurate, I did not volunteer information.

"Indeed, Father, I did cause the cherry tree to be lying on the ground. To do this was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgement and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.

"I know my answer to you gave a false impression. I misled you, my own father. I deeply regret that.

"I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct.

"I was also very concerned about protecting Mom from this shock. "What I did, Dad, was use a saw to cause the cherry tree to fall. Only after the tree was already down did I go get my axe to chop off individual branches. So, I chopped off branches, but sawed down the tree. Look at the saw cut on the stump and the axe cuts on the branches. Therefore, legally, I told the truth.

"I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of this fallen tree and to return our attention to a solid family relationship.


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