A tale never loses in the telling

The facts of a story are usually improved upon in the telling. Lies are condoned by Pooh-Bah in The Mikado as ‘merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to a bald and unconvincing narrative’.

In Henry IV, Part I by Shakespeare, Sir John Fastaff and three of his cronies are attacked by two other cronies, Prince Henry and Poins, disguised as thieves. Falstaff’s party take to their heels. Back in the Boar’s Head Tavern in Eascheap, where they all meet later, Falstaff gives the Prince and Poins a vivid account of the affair, in which they had fought with and beaten off their attackers, the number of whom rises to fifty-three before the tale is done. It has lost nothing in the telling!