“Wait a moment,” her grandma broke in with a wise smile. “Whatever it is you want to tell me, have you shaken it through the three sieves?”
“Three sieves?” Emily asked, puzzled.
“Yes, my love. Three sieves!” Let’s see whether your story will go through the three sieves. The first sieve is the truth. Have you thought about whether what you are going to tell me is true?”
“Well,” hesitated Emily. “I heard it from someone else, so I’m not absolutely sure…”
“Right,” said Gran. “That was an honest answer. So let’s try it through the second sieve. This is the sieve of goodness. Since what you are going to tell me is not necessarily true, then is it at least something good?”
Emily lowered her eyes. “Well, no,” she admitted. “Not really. In fact, quite the opposite.”
“Well,” the wise grandma continued, “Let’s use the third sieve and see whether what you are going to tell me, even if neither true nor good, is at least necessary.”
“Well, not exactly necessary…” Emily sank into a thoughtful silence.
“So,” Gran said, giving Emily an understanding hug, “since what you were going to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor necessary, I suggest that we bury it deep in the ground of forgetfulness, where it won’t cause any heartache to anyone ever again.”