So many of the stories we tell our children are of this kind—Santa Claus is the obvious example—and we should ask ourselves, as parents and also as lovers: How many stories might my child, or my boyfriend, or my partner, or my mom be telling me, not in order to mislead me but rather to tell me something that, if said outright, might be misunderstood or cause me harm?
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A not unreasonable lie, given that earlier his honesty had led him to be cheated. The series of lies Pinocchio tells is instructive.
Collodi also, here agreeing with Rousseau, tells a lot of stories to illustrate how commonly adults mislead children into misbehaviors that the children otherwise might not have pursued. Moreover, the story is told by a writer of fiction, who is making veiled, often sarcastic observations about the politics of late-nineteenth-century Italy; perhaps Collodi is an advocate for truth in one way, but in another way, he is clearly someone who understands the subtleties of communication and the necessity for pretense, irony, and disguise.
There are lies that have short legs, and lies that have long noses. Your lie, as it happens, is one of those that have a long nose. This is an interesting distinction, one worth remembering. Lies that have short legs are those that carry you a little distance but cannot outrun the truth. The truthful consequences always catch up with someone who tells a lie with short legs.
I asked if she came every evening. No, she said, just the odd time. The bench was soaking wet, we paced up and down, not daring to sit. I took her arm, out of curiosity, to see if it would give me pleasure, it gave me none, I let it go. But why these particulars. To put off the evil hour. I saw her face a little clearer, it seemed normal to me, a face like millions of others.
It looked neither young nor old, the face, as though stranded between the vernal and the sere. Such ambiguity I found difficult to bear, at that period. I had seen  faces in photographs I might have found beautiful had I known even vaguely in what beauty was supposed to consist.
I admired in spite of the dark, in spite of my fluster, the way still or scarcely flowing water reaches up, as though athirst, to that falling from the sky. She asked if I would like her to sing something. I replied no, I would like her to say something. I thought she would say she had nothing to say, it would have been like her, and so was agreeably surprised when she said she had a room, most agreeably surprised, though I suspected as much.
Who has  not a room? Ah I hear the clamour. I have two rooms, she said. Just how many rooms do you have? She said she had two rooms and a kitchen. The premises were expanding steadily, given time she would remember a bathroom. Is it two rooms I heard you say? Yes, she said. At last conversation worthy of the name.
Separated by the kitchen, she said. I asked her why she had not told me before. I must have been beside myself, at this period. And I knew that away from her I would forfeit this freedom. There were in fact two rooms,  separated by a kitchen, she had not lied to me. She said I should have fetched my things. I explained I had no things. It was at the top of an old house, with a view of the mountains for those who cared. You have no current?
No, she said, but I have running water and gas. Ha, I said, you have gas. She began to undress. It was then I noticed the squint. Fortunately she was not the first naked woman to have crossed my path, so I could stay, I knew she would not explode. I asked to see the other room which I had not yet seen.
If I  had seen it already I would have asked to see it again. Will you not undress? Oh you know, I said, I seldom undress. It was the truth, I was never one to undress indiscriminately. I often took offmy boots when I went to bed, I mean when I composed myself composed! She was therefore obliged, out of common savoir faire, to throw on a wrap and light me the way. We went via the kitchen. I surveyed the room with horror. Such density of furniture defeats imagination. Not a doubt, I must have seen that room  somewhere.
I cried. The parlour, she said.
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The parlour! I began putting out the furniture through the door to the corridor. She watched, in sorrow I suppose, but not necessarily. She asked me what I was doing. The door could be opened and closed, since it opened inwards, but had become impassable. To put it wildly. At least take off your hat, she said. Finally the room was empty but for a sofa and some shelves  fixed to the wall.
The former I dragged to the back of the room, near the door, and next day took down the latter and put them out, in the corridor, with the rest. The things one recalls! And records! When all was in order at last I dropped on the sofa. She had not raised her little finger to help me. The window was frosted over. The effiect was not white, because of the night, but faintly luminous none the less.
This faint cold sheen, though I lay with my feet towards the door, was  more than I could bear.
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I suddenly rose and changed the position of the sofa, that is to say turned it round so that the back, hitherto against the wall, was now on the outside and consequently the front, or way in, on the inside. Then I climbed back, like a dog into its basket.
And suppose you need something in the night, she said. She was going to start quibbling again, I could feel it. Do you know where the convenience is? She was right, I was forgetting. To relieve oneself in bed is enjoyable at the time, but soon a source of discomfort.
Give me a chamber-pot, I said. But she did not possess one. I have a close-stool of sorts, she said. She came back with a kind of saucepan, not a true saucepan for it had no handle, it was oval in shape with two lugs and a lid. My stewpan, she said. If I had said I needed the lid she would have said, You need the lid? I drew this utensil down under the blanket, I like something in my hand when sleeping, it reassures me, and my hat was still wringing.
I turned to the wall. All family possessions, she said. I in her shoes would have tiptoed away, but not she, not a stir. Already my love was waning, that was all that mattered. And I had only just moved in! Try and put me out now, I said. But I heard each word no sooner spoken. Never had my voice taken so long to reach me as on this occasion.
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I turned over on my back to see what was going on. She was smiling. A little later she went away, taking the lamp with her. I heard her steps in the kitchen and then the door of her room close behind her. Why behind her? I was alone at last, in the dark at last. Enough about that. I thought I was all set for a good night, in spite of the strange surroundings, but no, my night was most agitated. I woke next morning quite worn out, my clothes in disorder, the blanket likewise, and  Anna beside me, naked naturally. One shudders to think of her exertions.
I still had the stewpan in my grasp. It had not served. I looked at my member. If only it could have spoken! It was my night of love. Gradually I settled down, in this house. She brought my meals at the appointed hours, looked in now and then to see if all was well and make sure I needed nothing, emptied the stewpan once a day and did out the room once a month.
She could not always resist the temptation to speak to me, but on the whole gave me no cause to complain.
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Sometimes I heard her singing in her room, the song traversed her door, then the kitchen, then my door, and in this way won to me, faint but indisputable. Unless it travelled by the corridor. One day I asked her to bring me a hyacinth, live, in a pot. She brought it and put it on the mantelpiece, now the only place in my room to put things, unless you put them on the floor.
Not a day passed without my looking at it. At first all went well, it even put forth a bloom or two, then it gave up and was soon no more than a limp stem hung with limp leaves. The bulb, half clear of the clay as though in search of oxygen, smelt foul. She wanted to remove it, but I told her to leave it. I used to climb, I remember, on to the high wall, settle myself on it and sit there, a youth afflicted by such misery, solitude and grief that I would be overcome with self-pity.
How I reveled in these melancholy feelings - how I adored them. What rich promise did the future seem to hold out to me, when with scarcely a sigh - only a bleak sense of utter desolation - I took my leave from the brief phantom, risen for a fleeting instant, of my first love? What has come of it all - of all that I had hoped for? And now when the shades of evening are beginning to close in upon my life, what have I left that is fresher, dearer to me, than the memories of that brief storm that came and went so swiftly one morning in spring?
There, near the trees, is a fountain; it is white in the darkness and tall, tall as a ghost. The queen hears, through the talk and the music, the soft splashing of its waters. She looks and thinks. You, Sirs, you are all noble, clever, rich, you throng round me, every one of my words is precious to you, you are all ready to die at my feet, you are my slaves.. But there, by the fountain, by the plashing water, he whose slave I am awaits me. He wears neither gorgeous raiment nor precious stones, no one knows him, but he await me, sure that I come — and I shall come —and there is no power in the world that can stop me when I want to go to him, to be with him, to lose myself with him there in the darkness of the garden, with the rustling of the trees and the murmur of the fountain …' Zinaida was silent.
Believe me, Zinaida Alexandrovna, that whatever you did, however much you make me suffer, I shall love you and adore you to the end of my days.
Near me, over the dusty nettles, white butterflies fluttered lazily. A pert little sparrow would fly down on to a half-broken red brick nearby, and would irritate me with its chirping, ceaselessly turning its whole body with its outspread tail; the crows, still wary, occasionally cawed, sitting high, high on the bare top of a birch -- while the sun and wind played gently in its spreading branches; the bells of the Donskoy monastery would sometimes float across -- tranquil and sad -- and I would sit and gaze and listen, and would be filled with a nameless sensation which had everything in it; sorrow and joy, a premonition of the future, and desire, and fear of life.