Mr. Kitchom loved to listen to stories, but at the end of the tale he would invariably exclaim, "That can't be true!"
One day he was standing at the gate of his house when he saw the village schoolmaster going by. He called out to him and begged him to tell him a story.
"On one condition," said the teacher. "When I finish, you should not say 'That can't be true.' If you say that, I'll be entitled to a sack of grain from your house."
"Agreed," said Mr. Kitchom.
"I'll tell you the story of a great lord who lived in China a long time ago," said the teacher. "One day this aristocrat got into his palanquin to go to the governor's palace. On the way he heard a bird crying. When he peered out the bird soiled his robe with its droppings.
"The lord sent his servant back for a new robe and when he had brought it he took off the soiled robe, threw it away and put on the new one. Then they resumed the journey. A little later the bird called out again and when the lord peered out it soiled his sword with its droppings. The nobleman sent his servant back for a new sword and when he had brought it, gave the soiled one to the servant and kept the new one.
"The lord made up his mind not to look out if the bird cried out again, but when it did he could not resist looking out and this time the bird dropped its load directly on his head.
"The lord sent his servant to bring him a new head and when he had brought it, cut off his own with his sword......"
"Oh, but that can't be true!" blurted Mr. Kitchom.
"No, it can't," agreed the teacher, triumphantly, "but you've uttered the prohibited phrase and you agreed to forfeit a sack of rice as penalty!"
"Did I?" said Mr. Kitchom, slyly.
"That can't be true."