It was a day or two before people were rushing everywhere making preparations. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry. It was almost dark and some streets were already lighted.
"Daily Star, Sir", called a thin lad with a bundle of papers under his arm. He was ragged and tired and hungry and he knew that very soon he must go home. Passing a well-dressed officer, he called again holding a paper up with his right hand, "Daily Star, Sir. Only eight taka, Sir...Sir...Sir" But the officer went on without saying a word. Little Rafiq had been up the street and down the street crying, "Daily Star" until his voice was almost gone and his heart was sad. There were still twenty papers under his arm. "An unlucky day it is!" sighed Rafiq. The shops would soon close, and all the people would go home. He would have to go home too, carrying the papers instead of money. It was hard. It was really hard for him. He had hoped to sell more papers tonight than usual. He had longed to have more money tonight to buy a cake for his mother and some bird-seed for his favourite pet Bulbul which his father had given him shortly before he died. He knew his mother had worked hard all day cooking, washing and cleaning for Mrs. Zaman. He broke down as he thought of his failure to sell his papers. He had spent all the money that both he and his mother had to buy them. It was much more than he could bear, and it seemed as though his little heart had broken.
"Hello, Rafiq. Haven't you sold your papers yet? I sold mine two hours ago."
Rafiq looked up. It was Sardul, another newsboy.
"How many do you have left, Rafiq?"
"Why? That’s more than hundred sixty!"
"Yes”, said Rafiq, "And I can't sell them. Nobody wants papers tonight". Tears began to flow from his deep black eyes.
"Rafiq,” said Sardul as he drew nearer to him so that no one would hear what he was going to say.
"I’ll tell you how I did it."
"How? Do tell me."
There was a wicked look in Sardul's eyes as he said, "You must run quickly up the street and shout, "Hot news, hot news. Bomb bursting in Rangpur. Many died. Scandal in high places."
Rafiq was startled. He plunged his hand into his pocket and felt the few notes that were there. Then, looking at Sardul in the face, Rafiq said, "But Sardul, that it’s not in the paper at all!"
"No, you softy, but nobody will catch you. Just run away quickly before they have time to see, and you will sell out and get your money."
Rafiq looked down; it was a new idea to him. He thought of his little Bulbul with no seed; of the money his mother had given him to help to pay for his papers; chitai that he wanted to buy for his mother. Rafiq was just a poor ragged newsboy, but he had been taught some good things. It was just a severe struggle to feed his mother, his bird and something nice to eat in one side; and on the other side a lie. He looked up and hissed out:
"Tell a lie for this? Never!" Brave little Rafiq! With tired legs, but true heart, he had to carry his papers home. His mother was waiting for him, weary herself after a hard day's work. Like the good patient mother that she was, she said not a single word about the money she so much needed. Rafiq told her all about Sardul's tricks, and to encourage him to do right always, she told him how his father had always tried, even when it was hard to do the right.
"Mother," said Rafiq. "When Sardul first told me, I almost thought I'd do it. I thought Allah wouldn't mind if I lied just once when He knew how I love you and my Bulbul. But all at once I began to go all hot and cold and to feel queer right here," and he put his hand over his heart, "And then I couldn't do it".
The boy went to bed, but no angel came to give him any money for having done the right, as stories sometimes read. In the morning he woke up with his outward rags to cover his inward righteousness. But he was happy in the knowledge that he had resisted the temptation.
That afternoon as usual Rafiq went to the office for his papers. The boys were crowding round Sardul, who was boasting that he sold six dozen the day before. Sardul added that Rafiq lost money because he would not tell a lie. The boys were shouting and pointing at Rafiq, who didn't know what to say or what to do. But while they were pushing Rafiq and laughing at him, a gentleman of 45 or 50heard it, and that was enough for him. He took Rafiq away from the crowd and into the street, and said to him, "You wouldn't tell a lie yesterday, my boy?" The man patted on Rafiq's tender shoulder. "Brave lad!" he repeated as Rafiq innocently told him about it. They walked on together, Rafiq and Mr. Iskandar, a keen, kind-hearted businessman who valued truthfulness and honesty, for on those he could always depend.
"Yes," he said to Rafiq, as though he had just finished working out his plan that he couldn't finish for long. "Yes, you're just the boy I am looking for. When I saw you, I was just going into the office to ask the peon to find me a boy like you."
This was the Rifles Square, and a week after Rafiq started his new job, of course, in a new mood in new clothes. He lost the sale of twenty papers because he would not tell a lie, but he got a well-paid job because he told the truth.
True boys make true men.