When George Washington was about six years old, he was made the wealthy master
of a hatchet of which, like most little
boys, he was extremely fond. He went about chopping everything that came his
One day, as he wandered about the garden amusing himself by hacking his
mother's peasticks, he found a beautiful, young English cherry tree, of which
his father was most proud. He tried the edge of his hatchet on the trunk of the
tree and barked it so that it died.
Some time after this, his father discovered what had happened to his favorite
tree. He came into the house in great anger, and demanded to know who the
mischievous person was who had cut away the
bark. Nobody could tell him anything about it.
Just then George, with his little hatchet, came into the room. "George," said
his father, "do you know who has killed my beautiful little cherry tree yonder
in the garden ? I would not have taken five guineas for it !"
This was a hard question to answer, and for a moment George was staggered by
it, but quickly recovering himself he cried: "I cannot tell a lie, father, you
know I cannot tell a lie ! I did cut it with my little hatchet."
The anger died out of his father's face,
and taking the boy tenderly in his arms, he said: "My son, that you should not
be afraid to tell the truth is more to me than a thousand trees ! Yes, though
they were blossomed with silver and had leaves of the purest gold !"