Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales’

A LONG, long time ago, in a small country-village in Japan, there lived a poor farmer and his wife, who were very good people. They had a number of children, and found it very hard to feed them all. The elder son was strong enough when only fourteen years old to help his father; and the little girls learned to help their; mother almost as soon as they could walk.

But the youngest child, a little boy, did not seem to be fit for hard work. He was very clever,-cleverer than all his brothers and sisters; but he was quite weak and small, and people said he could never grow very big. So his parents thought it would be better for him to become a priest than to become a farmer. They took him with them to the village-temple one day, and asked the good old priest who lived there, if he would have their little boy for his acolyte, and teach him all that a priest ought to know.

The old man spoke kindly to the lad, and asked him some hard questions. So clever were the answers that the priest agreed to take the little fellow into the temple as an acolyte, and to educate him for the priest hood.

The boy learned quickly what the old priest taught him, and was very obedient in most things. But he had one fault. He liked to draw cats during study-hours, and to draw cats even where cats ought not to have been drawn at all.

Whenever he found himself alone, he drew cats. He drew them on the margins of the priest’s books, and on all the screens of the temple, and on the walls, and on the pillars. Several times the priest told him this was not right; but he did not stop drawing cats. He drew them because he could not really help it. He had what is called “the genius of an artist,” and just for that reason he was not quite fit to be an acolyte;-a good acolyte should study books.

One day after he had drawn some very clever pictures of cats upon a paper screen, the old priest said to him severely: “My boy, you must go away from this temple at once. You will never make a good priest, but per haps you will become a great artist. Now let me give you a last piece of advice, and be sure you never forget it. Avoid large places at night;-keep to small!”

The boy did not know what the priest meant by saying, “Avoid large places;-keep to small.” He thought and thought, while he was tying up his little bundle of clothes to go away; but he could not understand those words, and he was afraid to speak to the priest any more, except to say good-by.

He left the temple very sorrowfully, and began to wonder what he should do. If he went straight home he felt sure his father would punish him for having been disobedient to the priest: so he was afraid to go home. All at once he remembered that at the next village, twelve miles away, there was a very big temple. He had heard there were several priests at that temple; and he made up his mind to go to them and ask them to take him for their acolyte.
Now that big temple was closed up but the boy did not know this fact. The reason it had been closed up was that a goblin had frightened the priests away, and had taken possession of the place. Some brave warriors had afterward gone to the temple at night to kill the goblin; but they had never been seen alive again. Nobody had ever told these things to the boy;-so he walked all the way to the village hoping to be kindly treated by the priests!

When he got to the village it was already dark, and all the people were in bed, but he saw the big temple on a hill at the other end of the principal street, and he saw there was a light in the temple. People who tell the story say the goblin used to make that light, in order to tempt lonely travelers to ask for shelter. The boy went at once to the temple, and knocked. There was no sound inside. He knocked and knocked again; but still nobody came. At last he pushed gently at the door, and was quite glad to find that it had not been fastened. So he went in, and saw a lamp burning,-but no priest.

He thought some priest would be sure to come very soon, and he sat down and waited. Then he noticed that everything in the temple was gray with dust, and thickly spun over with cobwebs. So he thought to him self that the priests would certainly like to have an acolyte, to keep the place clean. He wondered why they had allowed everything to get so dusty. What most pleased him, however, were some big white screens, good to paint cats upon. Though he was tired, he looked at once for a writing-box, and found one, and ground some ink, and began to paint cats.

He painted a great many cats upon the screens; and then he began to feel very, very sleepy. He was just on the point of lying down to sleep beside one of the screens, when he suddenly remembered the words, “Avoid large places;-keep to small!”

The temple was very large; he was all alone; and as he thought of these words,-though he could not quite understand them-he began to feel for the first time a little afraid; and he resolved to look for a small place in which to sleep. He found a little cabinet, with a sliding door, and went into it, and shut himself up. Then he lay down and fell fast asleep.

Very late in the night he was awakened by a most terrible noise,-a noise of fighting and screaming. It was so dreadful that he was afraid even to look through a chink of the little cabinet: he lay very still, holding his breath for fright.

The light that had been in the temple went out; but the awful sounds continued, and became more awful, and all the temple shook. After a long time silence came; but the boy was still afraid to move. He did not move until the light of the morning sun shone into the cabinet through the chinks of the little door.

Then he got out of his hiding-place very cautiously, and looked about. The first thing he saw was that all the floor of the temple was covered with blood. And then he saw, lying dead in the middle of it, an enormous, monstrous rat,-a goblin-rat,-bigger than a cow!

But who or what could have killed it? There was no man or other creature to be seen. Suddenly the boy observed that the mouths of all the cats he had drawn the night before, were red and wet with blood. Then he knew that the goblin had been killed by the cats which he had drawn. And then also, for the first time, he understood why the wise old priest had said to him, “Avoid large places at night;-keep to small.”

Afterward that boy became a very famous artist. Some of the cats which he drew are still shown to travelers in Japan.

Translated by Lafcadio Hearne(1850-1904) Japanese Folk Tales(5 vol.)tokyo:T Hasegawa,1898/SurLaLune fairy Tales)

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A town mouse went to the country since he had not seen much of it. All that reminded him of it were the folks who were in a tearing hurry to escape it. All the church mouses he met were sure the churches back in the country were packed with backbiters. The door-mouses pouring into the town through the drains said they could not keep a doormat let alone their door for the hurricane took all. Daddy-O the dandy about town was sure he lived in a town that never had seen a tax-collector to give an opinion.
On arriving in a hick town he accosted the first mouse and after exchanging pleasantries said, ‘What do you for entertaining?’
We stalk whatever?’
‘Stalking,Freddo?” the town mouse was taken back,’ Back in town stalking is illegal. But a town mouse is above law.’ It was the turn of the country mouse to drop his jaw.’But stalks come flying and land on our doorstep. So a hurricane elsewhere is our feast day.’It was then Daddy-o realized the mouses spoke the same lingo but what it meant was neither here nor there.” The town mouse said,” You drop everything and come with me.”
The country mouse followed Daddy-O and it was like a descent into Dante’s inferno. Everywhere pigs had set up barriers and were trying pot luck at anything moving. At one place Daddy-O was being chased by a drove of pigs. Around an intersection he was caught by one pig who frisked him and asked,” Where have you stashed moon rocks?”
Daddy-o winked at the country mouse as if to give him a study into urban semantics,
” Psst, he means meth.”
‘What is your speed?
Daddy who had taken a liking to his ward said,” I am going to get his goat. Watch now”
Daddy-O lifted his foot and stepped hard on the trotter. The pig squealed and in response some 20 pigs sent peashooters flying at the two.
Freddo the country mouse screamed,” You brought me to hell, man!”
Daddy-O laughed hard and said, “This is my kind of town, Ferguson, Missouri!”


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The universal soldier came back in the middle of winter. If you thought he was quite done with war you are mistaken. The fort he came to was as true to a castle complete with moat, donjon and turrets. From far it caught his eye and marched he as though he would even skewer the devil for his right of entry. He just stopped to see if his entry was contested or not. No he was no mouse nor carried milk in his veins to balk even before the gates of hell.
Battle scarred he was and the sword clanked with every step to warn the folks to make themselves scarce.
The castle was ajar. He could see a blazing fire burning in the hall as he turned to cross drawbridge. He did not have to wait. The doormat carried a superscription across the unspotted width, “Take Rest”
So went he in as lord of the manor from hunt. He plopped into the large divan and without bothering to remove his boots he slept. How long did he sleep he would not recall but he just heard his name spoken and he instantly obeyed. It was familiar voice. His major had demanded him to check out the mirror on the south wall for further orders.
He found the wall and there was a mirror. The Army was definite in its facts. Did it ever fail him? No he went closer to read the instructions.
He saw the wall and as instructed he addressed in code for instructions.  The mirror was specific where his company was to join battle. Instantly he marched to the place. He came back all the more bloody. He saw winter had given over to spring and he came back to the fort every time for further instructions.
Once he was somewhat taken aback by the bed of snow drops around the moat was as red as blood. He shrugged his shoulders and said that all the blood spilled must show up some place. “It cannot be helped.” He did not give it another thought. 
Just as before he straightaway went to the divan neither looking to the right or to left. He fell asleep. The major once again called him up to say that there were seven knights who were to be taken out by single combat. He was to check the mirror for details.  
“Terror, terror on the wall, / who is the bravest of all?”
For all the blood the soldier could not  see the mirror. He took it that there was some snafu and he went back to sleep.
When he opened his eyes he saw seven dwarves around his divan. One said in an accusative tone,” You didn’t wipe your feet of blood. ” another one said, “You left blood all over the parquet floor. The third dwarf said, “You ruined the western wall! So did three other dwarves carp at the drowsy soldier.” The seventh dwarf came forward and said “where is my mirror? I cannot see my face for all the blood you shed.” 
“It cannot be helped.” said the universal soldier.
The seven dwarves deliberated and the leader stepped towards him and said, ” We are not flesh and blood and this is an enchanted castle.” One dwarf anticipating violence said, “No blood letting, please.” The third one explained they were immune to his rage, Another dwarf offered him bread and water till his service ended.
“Service? You demand of me amends?” the soldier cried. “Yes”, replied the fifth gnome, “the mirror must be set to its pristine condition”
“Is this a dungeon then?” the soldier screamed, “You said it.”
answered the sixth little creature.
“Don’t try to follow us” cried the last dwarf with a wink, “doors, gates,windows,transom, clerestory windows, fan-light are all doing their job. ”
In that womb of silence the seven dwarves melting into thin air was imperceptible.
The soldier sat on the divan. Looking about he saw a thin beam of light falling on the south wall. But for that the outside world had shut itself on him.

(Adapted from Brothers Grimm) 

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Long, long ago there was a tailor in the city of Bergen who knew his scissors well before he cut his teeth. As he grew up he learned everything to be known of cutting and stitching clothes. His thimble was so worn out which made his assistants joke his head was too big for his hat so his thimble took a severe beating.  When he made a dress for the milkmaid he said it made her look more like duchess. In short he had them all in stitches with his big talk.

Once he was busy clearing off backlog of orders that were due for the coming festivities. He had no time for breakfast so he left it aside. When he thought he would take a bite he saw several flies making a feast of his bread. He hated his strawberry jam trifled with. So he brought his hand down felling them.  While licking his sticky fingers he counted and his eyes popped to see seven dead flies. He said, “This is remarkable!” He immediately stitched across the belt “Seven with one blow!”  He called his assistants and told them to take over the works left unfinished. “I shall be back by the sundown.”

He stepped out.
On the way he rummaged his pockets and found he had a chunk of brie left to mold for some months. “I shall come to that.” said he. His attention was diverted by a wood pigeon caught in the tangled branches of firewood. He took it and shoved it into his coat pocket. He walked quite a while. He found a giant who sat on the stone bench, trying to hit a bean with some pebbles. “Oh one who has nothing to amuse himself with.” So he went and sat down with the giant who didn’t mind a man so small as he. The tailor found it unbearable. He stood up and pointed to his belt and said,”Read what is written here.”

The giant said he was physically challenged. “I shall read it for you then, “said the tailor,” Seven with one blow.”

The giant was impressed. He said he will get a boulder lying nearby. ” See this boulder,” he said, “I will squeeze it dry.” The tailor laughed and said, “It is no boulder, Giant, it is a pumpkin.”

“OK “said the giant, just the same try throwing this as high as you can.” Tailor took it and laid it aside quickly. In its place he took the wood pigeon and sent it flying. It flapped its wings and flew off and never came down.  

“Oh that was something. ” admitted the giant. He removed one wooden clog and said, “I shall send it flying.”

He threw it into the air. The tailor meanwhile took the piece of cheese and said he would squeeze the stone and get milk. The giant would have taken him on. He even had his hands held out to collect the milk  but the clog came down smashing the head of the valiant tailor. (Brothers Grimm) 



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A king on his deathbed called John, his faithful servant and gave a few instructions for his son. One of which was that he should not disturb a building on the palace grounds. ‘Great trouble shall arise out of it.’ he said. He died a moments later.

As soon as his son ascended the throne Faithful John narrated the last talk he had with his father. The young king wondered. He was stumped and he asked his council of ministers, ‘What is the mystery behind the house?’ One said he had been in charge of the building in question.He was certain it was built with asbestos. ‘ Break it up; it is a health hazard.’

The second minister suggested he knew as the late king’s interior minister that some dreaded terrorists were locked up for interrogation there at one time. ‘It may be a secret passage to terrible place where torture is the way of life” one hazarded.

The third minister said he had taken part in some negotiations with a neighboring kingdom and the building held a magic portrait.

Magic portrait! How ?’ the young king wondered. The third minister explained that the portrait of the woman was beautiful and any eyes for which it was not meant looked at it would become stone. The king thought of the witch and he was all the more determined to leave the building intact.

Then they discussed other things. King Burnt Oaks wanted to organize a marauding party to the North. The king and his warriors burned several colonies of Vikings who had settled in that remote part of the kingdom. Faithful John pillaged the fort where the chief lived. He abducted a princess and brought her to the king. Her name was Rowena. He said she was from a noble race, excellent fighters.’ He urged him to marry the princess. The king agreed. He won the girl’s heart and he said he would take her to his kingdom. The king and his bride to be set sailed in a ship with all the dowry of the princess. The king had asked Faithful John to follow him in another ship. Faithful John felt something was not right. He hesitated saying he should not leave him alone, ‘I gave word to your father. If anything happened to you or broke my oath to him I shall be eternally damned and never know a moment’s peace’.

While Faithful John took to sea three ravens were flying over head. One raven said, ‘the prince is blessed because he has Faithful John to serve him.’Another raven said,’Just the same Faithful John is going to be a wanderer in eternal damnation. The third raven said the only way he could save was to break into the building in the palace grounds.

Faithful John thought over this conversation and wondered,’If I break into the building I would be breaking the holy oath to the king. Faithful John thought of avoiding the awful doom by leaving the king in the lurch. He banged his forehead with his fist in disgust,’If I leave him I am leaving my king to uncertain future. Faithful John commanded the captain of the ship to increase the speed so he could catch the royal ship in sight. By the time he caught up with the king the ship was almost going down after hitting a rock. Faithful John was on hand to rescue the king and his bride to be.

As they reached their kingdom the three ravens were once again hovering about them. One raven said,’The king shall certainly come to sorrow if Faithful John does not take decision concerning himself.’

As soon as the king’s party reached his palace he arranged the date for a feast to follow with the royal wedding.

Faithful John was a lot troubled by the words of the raven. In the end he decided to take matters into his hand. At night he sneaked towards the building resolved to solve the mystery. He was sure the oath that he gave the late king was only with regards to the prince. He would break into the building. He broke it open. He struck a match and lit a candle to investigate. He found some statues and they were all in stone. Faithful John shuddered. The curse regarding the portrait was true after all. Faithful John had gone far into his deed. ‘It is too late,’ he said and went in and stood in front of the portrait.

His blood curdled. The portrait was Rowena alright. He waited to be punished for breaking the curfew. Nothing happened.

He went to the king and told him what he saw. The king went pale. Faithful John said he would be responsible for the consequences. He took his master to the building and showed the portrait. At that exact moment the king screamed,’Rowena’ he saw the curtains part and a hideous woman rush towards them. Faithful John stepped forward to cover the king. He drew his knife and struck her. She died in a pool of blood. In death she took the form of beautiful but treacherous Rowena.

No more the three ravens were seen.(From Brothers Grimm)



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Some years ago in a village on the outskirts of a forest lived a poor family. He and his wife were childless. But their anxiety before it could turn into despair was soon over. One morning the folks saw the cut out of a stork on the garden patch festooned with pink ribbons. “It’s a girl!’ they said and folks soon dropped in to wish the proud parents for their good fortune.

The baby was as fine as any child born of sturdy parents with all the good features that sit well in an angel.

The girl had flaming red hair and she made all heads turn. When she became ten, her grandmother who lived in a mansion sent her a cape among so many other gifts that were costly. But the cape was special because she had stitched it herself and spoilt her eyes in the bargain. But it was worth it, she said when she next came visiting in her red cape.

The cape fit her so well she was called Red Riding Hood.

Some three years later she went visiting. Her grandmother lived far enough but Red Riding Hood adored the old woman who made so much fuss about her. Everytime. Besides the grandma lived in circumstances so different that it was a special treat. She could swim in specially heated pool and enjoy the comforts of a well stocked larder and above all love of her grandmother made it all forget the world outside.

Once she went with a custard she made for her and knocked at the door of her mansion. There was none but the grandma. Strangely enough she was invisible but for her overcoat. “ Red Riding Hood how well you look!”came the voice.

“ Thank you,” The girl was surprised to see her covered up. “What happened Grandma! You look a mess!”

“There was a break in.”

“Oh I am here. Let nothing worry you.” she said concerned.

“What have you got in your hand?”

“ Custard.” said Red Riding Hood handing her.

“Oh Grandma!” Your hand is hairy as of a man!”

“There was a break in.”

“But I don’t understand,” exclaimed the girl, “What has it got to do with your hand?”

“Where is the key to family safe?”

“Grandma you know it too well to ask.”

“ Oh Grandma you have a gun in your hands.”

“ Oh it is to shoot you with” said the voice, “and put the blame for the murder on you.”

( from French fairy tales by Charles Perrault)


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The Golden Goose ©

Simpleton was not expected to amount much so in the family he was least cared for. His father a woodcutter wanted his children to follow his footsteps. Dow the eldest was as sturdy as his father and Bo was of middling abilities but his brawn was as good as his elder brother. So they got special consideration from all.
Simpleton of course was a 95-pound weakling.
After a severe winter the woodcutter felt ill and took to bed. Since he could not go into the woods and meet his commitments he sent his eldest son instead. Next morning Dow went to the woods with his lunch. On his way he saw a fellow who said he had a hangover after drinking moonshine. ‘Gimme that bottle of milk so I may soothe my innards.’
‘No way,’ said Dow. He knew he would be hungry by mid-day he went to the woods, irritated. In a temper he directly got swinging his axe. Wildly wood chips burst about him. Because he didn’t check the axe that was idle for long he didn’t notice the blade was loose. In the middle of a swing it went flying. Going in search of it he fell into a trap set for bears. Poor Dow! He lay in agony till he was rescued next day by a team of villagers.
Next it was the turn of Bo who was superstitious. He took his axe and went by another route than his brother had taken. On the way he saw a black cat chasing a goose and he knew his day’s work was doomed. He had a hunch and was put out. Along came a man with heavy built frame to retrieve the cat.’Morning, mister’ he said. In response he glared at him.
The brute stood there with his mouth agape. He caught the eye of Bo and wheedled, ‘Gimme the ham from your sandwich for a poor cat.’ Bo wondered ‘How did he know that I had ham sandwiches in my knapsack?’ Looking how the black cat was staring at him he knew that it was devil’s work.
‘Be gone, you foul magician!’ Bo crossed himself and ran off.
Rest of the day he was shaking with dire forebodings and it was expected that he would get into scrape. Naturally his hunch was right. He injured himself. He limped that evening home.
Next morning the sick woodcutter called Simpleton and said, ‘I or your brothers cannot go into the woods.’ Much as he hated sending him to the woods he knew the job had to be done. So he said, ‘ If you can’t swing the axe find someone who will.’
Simpleton asked if he could hire someone. His mother stepped in to say, ‘Where is the money for it, son?’ His parents were sure that if he were to be led at every turn it was prudent to please those who could. ‘ Put your neck out for a leash if you want to be of use, son’ thus his father admonished him.
Simpleton left for the woods.

On the way he saw an old man who was sitting on a bole and said he was an out of work actor. Because of his age the company of actors left him there to starve, he said.
‘How cruel!’ muttered Simpleton.
‘Did they not leave at least something for you to live on?’ he asked.
‘Oh why should they?’ the old man said, ‘if one cannot lead the world then one has to expect to be led.’
Simpleton recalled his father’s words that morning. He felt pity and sat by the old man. ‘It is only fair then that we who are no good for leading the world care for each other.’ He held out half share of his lunch and the old man hungrily took and ate. ‘It really came no sooner.’ Said the old man as he sat up picking up the crumbs carefully. They exchanged news and the old man knew Simpleton was not appreciated, as he deserved. At that moment a black cat came out of nowhere and positioned itself facing Simpleton. The cat cried hungrily and Simpleton poured milk in a saucer and pushed it forward. The cat slurped it greedily while its owner came to the scene.
The man took off his battered hat and said he was so pleased with his kindness. He saw the axe that Simpleton had. ‘Isn’t that too heavy for you to carry about?’ Simpleton nodded. The heavyset man queried ‘What can I do for you?’ Simpleton told him that wood has to be cut and he was as he noticed too weak to wield an axe. ‘Oho, it is a very simple task and I shall help you.’ The cat’s owner saw a goose and pointed it to him. At that moment the cat got into some sort of fit and began running in circles as though it was possessed. The man in his battered hat cried in passion, ‘I am so confused by that silly bird. It has been following me for a week. Why I can’t tell. Only that it drives my cat completely crazy!’ Simpleton went out and picked the goose and the cat instantly became very quiet.’ There, there, it is strange’ the cat’s owner said. Asking him to keep an eye on his cat he went into the woods. By sundown he brought a heap of wood. Simpleton wondered how he was going to carry them home. The old actor who was asleep for good part of the day assured the boy that he would see to that. The old man said, ‘ Leave that axe and the wood’ He promised to see that they reached his father safely. Simpleton was grateful. ‘The old man said, ’It is time you took a chance with your fortunes.’
‘What with one goose that has no place to go?’
The old man cackled and said, ‘Yes if it cannot lead, all that remains is you gotta take the lead.’
The old man was gone on his errand and the man with the black cat said he had to get going. Thus simpleton was left alone with a goose.
‘Follow me to fame and fortune, as the old actor said,’ Simpleton
repeated mechanically.
Thus Simpleton walked a good length with the goose by his side. He entered an inn for the night. The innkeeper had three daughters who could not help laughing seeing how serious he was. ‘How can I not be serious, with a golden goose?’ said he snapping out of his reverie. ‘A golden goose?’ they laughed all the more.
Simpleton fled them and shut the door in their faces. Next morning when he stepped out he carried the goose in the crook of his arm. Unknown to him the eldest came behind him and slapping his back she said Boo!’ She was stuck and she could not free herself. She gasped in fright and her two sisters quickly came to her rescue. But they were also held fast.
The innkeeper heard the commotion and came out to investigate. He chided Simpleton for his prank.
‘What prank, sir?’
‘’You think you can lead my daughters astray?’
Simpleton said, ‘I just want to be on my way and your daughters do not want me to.’
The inn-keeper tried to reason with his daughters but they cried, ‘We want to be led by none other than him.’ The innkeeper got furious and pulled the last daughter by her hair and he was also stuck.

Simpleton thought it was going too far. He pushed the goose away and said, ‘Can’t you see we are on our way to fame and fortune?’ Just as he let go the goose the file became loose and the innkeeper took charge. He herded his daughters back to the inn.
‘You lazy creatures, back to work!’ he cried.
But the youngest turned back and said, ‘No I shall not work among your pots and pans.’ She stood her ground and the innkeeper in the end had to let her go. She ran and caught up with Simpleton and said, ‘I am with you all the way.’
‘Agreed.’ Said Simpleton. They were so happy with one another and they laughed so much that the goose could not help but lay an egg. A golden egg!
It didn’t however stop their joy.

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