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Long ago, as I’ve heard tell, there dwelt at the temple of Morinji, in the Province of Kotsuke, a holy priest.

Now there were three things about this reverend man. First, he was wrapped up in meditations and observances and forms and doctrines. He was a great one for the Sacred Sutras, and knew strange and mystical things. Then he had a fine exquisite taste of his own, and nothing pleased him so much as the ancient tea ceremony of the Cha-no-yu; and for the third thing about him, he knew both sides of a copper coin well enough and loved a bargain.

None so pleased as he when he happened upon an ancient tea-kettle, lying rusty and dirty and half-forgotten in a corner of a poor shop in a back street of his town.

“An ugly bit of old metal,” says the holy man to the shopkeeper; “but it will do well enough to boil my humble drop of water of an evening. I’ll give you three rin for it.” This he did and took the kettle home, rejoicing; for it was of bronze, fine work, the very thing for the Cha-no-yu.

A novice cleaned and scoured the tea-kettle, and it came out as pretty as you please. The priest turned it this way and that, and upside down, looked into it, tapped it with his finger-nail. He smiled. “A bargain,” he cried, “a bargain!” and rubbed his hands. He set the kettle upon a box covered over with a purple cloth, and looked at it so long that first he was fain to rub his eyes many times, and then to close them altogether. His head dropped forward and he slept.

And then, believe me, the wonderful thing happened. The tea-kettle moved, though no hand was near it. A hairy head, with two bright eyes, looked out of the spout. The lid jumped up and down. Four brown and hairy paws appeared, and a fine bushy tail. In a minute the kettle was down from the box and going round and round looking at things.

“A very comfortable room, to be sure,” says the tea-kettle.

Pleased enough to find itself so well lodged, it soon began to dance and to caper nimbly and to sing at the top of its voice. Three or four novices were studying in the next room. “The old man is lively,” they said; “only hark to him. What can he be at?” And they laughed in their sleeves.

Heaven’s mercy, the noise that the tea-kettle made! Bang! bang! Thud! thud! thud!

The novices soon stopped laughing. One of them slid aside the kara-kami and peeped through.

“Arah, the devil and all’s in it!” he cried. “Here’s the master’s old tea-kettle turned into a sort of a badger. The gods protect us from witchcraft, or for certain we shall be lost!”

“And I scoured it not an hour since,” said another novice, and he fell to reciting the Holy Sutras on his knees.

A third laughed. “I’m for a nearer view of the hobgoblin,” he said.

So the lot of them left their books in a twinkling, and gave chase to the tea-kettle to catch it. But could they come up with the tea-kettle? Not a bit of it. It danced and it leapt and it flew up into the air. The novices rushed here and there, slipping upon the mats. They grew hot. They grew breathless.

“Ha, ha! Ha, ha!” laughed the tea-kettle; and “Catch me if you can!” laughed the wonderful tea-kettle.

Presently the priest awoke, all rosy, the holy man.

“And what’s the meaning of this racket,” he says, “disturbing me at my holy meditations and all?”

“Master, master,” cry the novices, panting and mopping their brows, “your tea-kettle is bewitched. It was a badger, no less. And the dance it has been giving us, you’d never believe!”

“Stuff and nonsense,” says the priest; “bewitched? Not a bit of it. There it rests on its box, good quiet thing, just where I put it.”

Sure enough, so it did, looking as hard and cold and innocent as you please. There was not a hair of a badger near it. It was the novices that looked foolish.

 

“A likely story indeed,” says the priest. “I have heard of the pestle that took wings to itself and flew away, parting company with the mortar. That is easily to be understood by any man. But a kettle that turned into a badger—no, no! To your books, my sons, and pray to be preserved from the perils of illusion.”

That very night the holy man filled the kettle with water from the spring and set it on the hibachi to boil for his cup of tea. When the water began to boil—

“Ai! Ai!” the kettle cried; “Ai! Ai! The heat of the Great Hell!” And it lost no time at all, but hopped off the fire as quick as you please.

“Sorcery!” cried the priest. “Black magic! A devil! A devil! A devil! Mercy on me! Help! Help! Help!” He was frightened out of his wits, the dear good man. All the novices came running to see what was the matter.

“The tea-kettle is bewitched,” he gasped; “it was a badger, assuredly it was a badger … it both speaks and leaps about the room.”

“Nay, master,” said a novice, “see where it rests upon its box, good quiet thing.”

And sure enough, so it did.

“Most reverend sir,” said the novice, “let us all pray to be preserved from the perils of illusion.”

The priest sold the tea-kettle to a tinker and got for it twenty copper coins.

“It’s a mighty fine bit of bronze,” says the priest. “Mind, I’m giving it away to you, I’m sure I cannot tell what for.” Ah, he was the one for a bargain! The tinker was a happy man and carried home the kettle. He turned it this way and that, and upside down, and looked into it.

“A pretty piece,” says the tinker; “a very good bargain.” And when he went to bed that night he put the kettle by him, to see it first thing in the morning.

 

He awoke at midnight and fell to looking at the kettle by the bright light of the moon.

Presently it moved, though there was no hand near it.

“Strange,” said the tinker; but he was a man who took things as they came.

A hairy head, with two bright eyes, looked out of the kettle’s spout. The lid jumped up and down. Four brown and hairy paws appeared, and a fine bushy tail. It came quite close to the tinker and laid a paw upon him.

“Well?” says the tinker.

“I am not wicked,” says the tea-kettle.

“No,” says the tinker.

“But I like to be well treated. I am a badger tea-kettle.”

“So it seems,” says the tinker.

“At the temple they called me names, and beat me and set me on the fire. I couldn’t stand it, you know.”

“I like your spirit,” says the tinker.

“I think I shall settle down with you.”

“Shall I keep you in a lacquer box?” says the tinker.

“Not a bit of it, keep me with you; let us have a talk now and again. I am very fond of a pipe. I like rice to eat, and beans and sweet things.”

“A cup of saké sometimes?” says the tinker.

“Well, yes, now you mention it.”

“I’m willing,” says the tinker.

“Thank you kindly,” says the tea-kettle; “and, as a beginning, would you object to my sharing your bed? The night has turned a little chilly.”

“Not the least in the world,” says the tinker.

The tinker and the tea-kettle became the best of friends. They ate and talked together. The kettle knew a thing or two and was very good company.

One day: “Are you poor?” says the kettle.

“Yes,” says the tinker, “middling poor.”

“Well, I have a happy thought. For a tea-kettle, I am out-of-the-way—really very accomplished.”

“I believe you,” says the tinker.

“My name is Bumbuku-Chagama; I am the very prince of Badger Tea-Kettles.”

“Your servant, my lord,” says the tinker.

“If you’ll take my advice,” says the tea-kettle, “you’ll carry me round as a show; I really am out-of-the-way, and it’s my opinion you’d make a mint of money.”

“That would be hard work for you, my dear Bumbuku,” says the tinker.

“Not at all; let us start forthwith,” says the tea-kettle.

So they did. The tinker bought hangings for a theatre, and he called the show Bumbuku-Chagama. How the people flocked to see the fun! For the wonderful and most accomplished tea-kettle danced and sang, and walked the tight rope as to the manner born. It played such tricks and had such droll ways that the people laughed till their sides ached. It was a treat to see the tea-kettle bow as gracefully as a lord and thank the people for their patience.

The Bumbuku-Chagama was the talk of the country-side, and all the gentry came to see it as well as the commonalty. As for the tinker, he waved a fan and took the money. You may believe that he grew fat and rich. He even went to Court, where the great ladies and the royal princesses made much of the wonderful tea-kettle.

At last the tinker retired from business, and to him the tea-kettle came with tears in its bright eyes.

“I’m much afraid it’s time to leave you,” it says.

“Now, don’t say that, Bumbuku, dear,” says the tinker. “We’ll be so happy together now we are rich.”

“I’ve come to the end of my time,” says the tea-kettle. “You’ll not see old Bumbuku any more; henceforth I shall be an ordinary kettle, nothing more or less.”

“Oh, my dear Bumbuku, what shall I do?” cried the poor tinker in tears.

“I think I should like to be given to the temple of Morinji, as a very sacred treasure,” says the tea-kettle.

It never spoke or moved again. So the tinker presented it as a very sacred treasure to the temple, and the half of his wealth with it.

And the tea-kettle was held in wondrous fame for many a long year. Some persons even worshipped it as a saint.

(selected from-

Japanese Fairy Tales_

Author: Grace James
Published: 1912
Publisher: Macmillan And Co., Limited, London

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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!”

benny

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Sorry, this story continues in the Wow-Wow Tales, pub.CreateSpace

 

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Sorry, this story continues in the Wow-Wow Tales, pub.CreateSpace

 

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Sorry, this story continues in the Wow-Wow Tales, pub.CreateSpace

 

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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)

benny

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