As the tale goes, a wrinkled old peasant was sitting in front of his wayside cottage one summer afternoon when a traveller stopped at his gate. Dusty, weary, and very thirsty, the wayfarer asked the peasant for a drink and the kind peasant allowed the traveller to sit in the shade awhile and quench his thirst from the well.
After this bit of refreshing the traveller rose and gazed down the long road ahead. Before he left he turned to the peasant and asked, “How far is it to the nearest inn?”
The peasant assured him, “It’s only a mile down the road. You’ll make it for sure.”
The traveller thanked him and set off, feeling much encouraged. But he walked on for over a mile and still didn’t come to either a town or a wayside inn. He trudged on another mile, then another. Finally he glimpsed a village in the distance. Cheered up by the sight, he pressed on and reached he inn by dusk.
The next day the traveller happened to catch sight of the peasant at the village market. He marched up to the old man and said crossly, “Hey! You told me yesterday that the inn was only a mile farther — but I had to walk almost five miles to reach it.”
The peasant smiled and gave him a wink. “Full well I knew it, sir. But if I’d told you how far it really was, you’d never have made it.”
The traveller thought this over, then grinned and shook the peasant’s hand. “Thanks, old friend.”
First posted July 2016 at Christine’s Reflections