A man spoke a word of untrue gossip to a monk. To teach the man a lesson, the monk told the man to open a feather pillow and go about the village, placing one feather on every doorstep as an act of penance. When the man completed his penance, the monk told him to go and retrieve every feather.
“Why, that would be impossible,” the man exclaimed. “The wind will have carried them far and wide!”
“Let that be a lesson,” the monk replied. “Your words are like those feathers. Once spoken, they are impossible to get back.”