Short Stories » The Plum Stone

The Plum Stone

By Leo Tolstoy

One day Vanya's mother bought some plums from the market. She washed them and left them on a big plate in the centre of the dining table. Mother wanted to give the plums to the children after dinner. It was not every day that plums were bought.

Vanya had not tasted plums all his life and was very curious about it. First he sniffed the fruit, wrinkled his nose at the pleasing smell, and decided that he liked the fruit. Dinner time was still a long way off and he did not have the patience to wait. He just could not resist his temptation. “No one will notice if I take one,” he said to himself.

As soon as he was alone in the room, he seized a big plum and ate it quickly. Vanya exclaimed, "Hmmm.. plums are very delicious indeed!"

When it was time for dinner, his mother counted the plums and found that one was missing. She informed her husband about it.

The whole family sat around the table to eat and in the course of the meal, father enquired, "Well children, have any of you eaten a plum without your mother's knowledge?" Each child answered in turn, "No." Vanya’s heart began to beat very fast and he blushed. He lied that he did not eat the plum.

Suddenly, somebody from the deck called out, "Shark! Shark!"

Then father said, "It is wrong to steal a plum, but that's not all. You see, plums have small stones and if you swallow a stone, you will die the next day. That's what really bothers me."

Vanya became very upset and blurted out, "I did not eat the stone. I threw it out of the window."

The entire family burst into peals of laughter, Vanya felt guilty and ashamed. He wept bitterly.

His parents hugged him. His mother consoled him and said, "Your father presented the matter in such a way that you would come up with the truth." She added, “God loves children who are honest."

Vanya apologized to the whole family and promised that thereafter he would speak only the truth.

After all, honesty is the best policy!

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