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Folk Tales Every Child Should Know
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FOLK TALES Every Child Should Know

EDITED BY Hamilton Wright Mabie



THE WHAT-EVERY-CHILD-SHOULD-KNOW-LIBRARY

Published by

DOUBLEDAY, DORAN & CO., INC., for THE PARENTS' INSTITUTE, INC. Publishers of "The Parents' Magazine" 9 EAST 40th STREET, NEW YORK



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The editor and publishers wish to express their appreciation to the following firms for permission to use the material indicated:

To Messrs. G.P. Putnam's Sons for "Why the Sea is Salt," "The Lad Who Went to the North Wind," "The Lad and the Deil," and "Ananzi and the Lion," by Sir George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L.; to the Macmillan Company, New York, for "The Grateful Foxes" and "The Badger's Money," by A.B. Mitford; to Messrs. Macmillan & Company, London, for "The Origin of Rubies," by Rev. Lal Behari Day; to Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons for "The Dun Horse," by George Bird Grinnell; to Messrs. Little, Brown & Company for "The Peasant Story of Napoleon," by Honore de Balzac; to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Company for "Why Brother Bear Has No Tail," by Joel Chandler Harris, and for the following selections from "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources," translated by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A.:—"Long, Broad, and Sharpsight," "Intelligence and Luck," "George and the Goat," "The Wonderful Hair," "The Dragon and the Prince," and "The Good Children."



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER

I. HANS IN LUCK From Grimm's Fairy Tales.

II. WHY THE SEA IS SALT From "Popular Tales from the Norse," by Sir George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L.

III. THE LAD WHO WENT TO THE NORTH WIND From "Popular Tales from the Norse," by Sir George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L.

IV. THE LAD AND THE DEIL From "Popular Tales from the Norse," by Sir George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L.

V. ANANZI AND THE LION From "Popular Tales from the Norse," by Sir George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L.

VI. THE GRATEFUL FOXES From "Tales of Old Japan," by A.B. Mitford.

VII. THE BADGER'S MONEY From "Tales of Old Japan," by A.B. Mitford.

VIII. WHY BROTHER BEAR HAS NO TAIL From "Nights with Uncle Remus," by Joel Chandler Harris.

IX. THE ORIGIN OF RUBIES From "Folk Tales of Bengal," by Rev. Lal Behari Day.

X. LONG, BROAD, AND SHARPSIGHT Translated from the Bohemian by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A., in "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources."

XI. INTELLIGENCE AND LUCK Translated from the Bohemian by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A., in "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources."

XII. GEORGE WITH THE GOAT Translated from the Bohemian by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A., in "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources."

XIII. THE WONDERFUL HAIR Translated from the Serbian by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A., in "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources."

XIV. THE DRAGON AND THE PRINCE Translated from the Serbian by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A., in "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources."

XV. THE GOOD CHILDREN A Little Russian story of Galicia. Translated by A.H. Wratislaw, M.A., in "Sixty Folk Tales, from Exclusively Slavonic Sources."

XVI. THE DUN HORSE From "Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk Tales," by George Bird Grinnell.

XVII. THE GREEDY YOUNGSTER From the Norwegian tale of Peter Christen Asbjoernsen.

XVIII. HANS, WHO MADE THE PRINCESS LAUGH From the Norwegian tale of Peter Christen Asbjoernsen.

XIX. THE STORY OF TOM TIT TOT An old Suffolk Tale, given in the dialect of East Anglia. From "Tom Tit Tot. An Essay on Savage Philosophy in Folk Tale," by Edward Clodd.

XX. THE PEASANT STORY OF NAPOLEON From "The Country Doctor," by Honore de Balzac. Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley.



INTRODUCTION

When the traveller looks at Rome for the first time he does not realize that there have been several cities on the same piece of ground, and that the churches and palaces and other great buildings he sees to-day rest on an earlier and invisible city buried in dust beneath the foundations of the Rome of the Twentieth Century. In like manner, and because all visible things on the surface of the earth have grown out of older things which have ceased to be, the world of habits, the ideas, customs, fancies, and arts, in which we live is a survival of a younger world which long ago disappeared. When we speak of Friday as an unlucky day, or touch wood after saying that we have had good luck for a long time, or take the trouble to look at the new moon over the right shoulder, or avoid crossing the street while a funeral is passing, we are recalling old superstitions or beliefs, a vanished world in which our remote forefathers lived.

We do not realize how much of this vanished world still survives in our language, our talk, our books, our sculpture and pictures. The plays of Shakespeare are full of reference to the fancies and beliefs of the English people in his time or in the times not long before him. If we could understand all these references as we read, we should find ourselves in a world as different from the England of to-day as England is from Austria, and among a people whose ideas and language we should find it hard to understand.

In those early days there were no magazines or newspapers, and for the people as contrasted with the scholars there were no books. The most learned men were ignorant of things which intelligent children know to-day; only a very few men and women could read or write; and all kinds of beliefs about animals, birds, witches, fairies, giants, and the magical qualities of herbs and stones flourished like weeds in a neglected garden. There came into existence an immense mass of misinformation about all manner of things; some of it very stupid, much of it very poetic and interesting. Below the region of exact knowledge accessible to men of education, lay a region of popular fancies, ideas, proverbs, and superstitions in which the great mass of men and women lived, and which was a kind of invisible playground for children. Much of the popular belief about animals and the world was touched with imagination and was full of suggestions, illustrations, and pictorial figures which the poets were quick to use. When the king says to Cranmer in "Henry VIII:" "Come, come, my lord, you'd spare your spoons," he was thinking of the old custom of giving children at christenings silver or gilt spoons with handles shaped to represent the figures of the Apostles. Rich people gave twelve of the "apostles' spoons;" people of more moderate means gave three or four, or only one with the figure of the saint after whom the child was named. On Lord Mayor's Day in London, which came in November and is still celebrated, though shorn of much of its ancient splendour, the Lord Mayor's fool, as part of the festivities, jumped into a great bowl of custard, and this is what Ben Jonson had in mind when he wrote:

"He may, perchance, in tail of a sheriff's dinner, Skip with a rime o' the table, from near nothing, And take his almain leap into a custard, Shall make my lady Maydress and her sisters, Laugh all their hoods over their shoulders."

It was once widely believed that a stone of magical, medicinal qualities was set in the toad's head, and so Shakespeare wrote:

"Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in its head."

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the most wonderful fairy story in the world, but Shakespeare did not create it out of hand; he found the fairy part of it in the traditions of the country people. One of his most intelligent students says: "He founded his elfin world on the prettiest of the people's traditions, and has clothed it in the ever-living flower of his own exuberant fancy."

This immense mass of belief, superstition, fancy, is called folk-lore and is to be found in all parts of the world. These fancies or faiths or superstitions were often distorted with stories, and side by side with folk-lore grew up the folk-tales, of which there are so many that a man might spend his whole life writing them down. They were not made as modern stories are often made, by men who think out carefully what they are to say, arrange the different parts so that they go together like the parts of a house or of a machine, and write them with careful selection of words so as to make the story vivid and interesting.

The folk-tales were not written out; many of them grew out of single incidents or little inventions of fancy, and became longer and larger as they passed from one story-teller to another and were retold generation after generation.

Men love stories, and for very good reasons, as has been pointed out in introductions to other volumes in this series; and the more quick and original the imagination of a race, the more interesting and varied will be its stories. From the earliest times, long before books were made, the people of many countries were eagerly listening to the men and women who could tell thrilling or humorous tales, as in these later days they read the novels of the writers who know how to tell a story so as to stir the imagination or hold the attention and make readers forget themselves and their worries and troubles. In India and Japan, in Russia and Roumania, among the Indians at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, these stories are still told, not only to children by their mothers and grandmothers, but to crowds of grown-up people by those who have the art of making tales entertaining; and there are still so many of these stories floating about the world from one person to another that if they were written down they would fill a great library. "Until the generation now lately passed away," says Mr. Gosse in his introduction to that very interesting book, "Folk and Fairy Tales" by Asbjoernsen, "almost the only mode in which the Norwegian peasant killed time in the leisure moments between his daily labour and his religious observances, was in listening to stories. It was the business of old men and women who had reached the extreme limit of their working hours, to retain and repeat these ancient legends in prose and verse, and to recite or sing them when called to do so." And Miss Hapgood has told us that in Russia these stories have not only been handed down wholly by word or mouth for a thousand years, but are flourishing to-day and extending into fresh fields.

The stories made by the people, and told before evening fires, or in public places and at the gates of inns in the Orient, belong to the ages when books were few and knowledge limited, or to people whose fancy was not hampered by familiarity with or care for facts; they are the creations, as they were the amusement, of men and women who were children in knowledge, but were thinking deeply and often wisely of what life meant to them, and were eager to know and hear more about themselves, their fellows, and the world. In the earlier folk-stories one finds a childlike simplicity and readiness to believe in the marvellous; and these qualities are found also in the French peasant's version of the career of Napoleon.

HAMILTON W. MABIE



FOLK TALES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW



I

HANS IN LUCK

Hans had served his Master seven years, and at the end of that time he said to him: "Master, since my time is up, I should like to go home to my mother; so give me my wages, if you please."

His Master replied, "You have served me truly and honestly, Hans, and such as your service was, such shall be your reward;" and with these words he gave him a lump of gold as big as his head. Hans thereupon took his handkerchief out of his pocket, and, wrapping the gold up in it, threw it over his shoulder and set out on the road toward his native village. As he went along, carefully setting one foot to the ground before the other, a horseman came in sight, trotting gaily and briskly along upon a capital animal. "Ah," said Hans, aloud, "what a fine thing that riding is! one is seated, as it were, upon a stool, kicks against no stones, spares one's shoes, and gets along without any trouble!"

The Rider, overhearing Hans making these reflections, stopped and said, "Why, then, do you travel on foot, my fine fellow?"

"Because I am forced," replied Hans, "for I have got a bit of a lump to carry home; it certainly is gold, but then I can't carry my head straight, and it hurts my shoulder."

"If you like we will exchange," said the Rider. "I will give you my horse, and you can give me your lump of gold."

"With all my heart," cried Hans; "but I tell you fairly you undertake a very heavy burden."

The man dismounted, took the gold, and helped Hans on to the horse, and, giving him the reins into his hands, said, "Now, when you want to go faster, you must chuckle with your tongue and cry, 'Gee up! gee up!'"

Hans was delighted indeed when he found himself on the top of a horse, and riding along so freely and gaily. After a while he thought he should like to go rather quicker, and so he cried, "Gee up! gee up!" as the man had told him. The horse soon set off at a hard trot, and, before Hans knew what he was about, he was thrown over head and heels into a ditch which divided the fields from the road. The horse, having accomplished this feat, would have bolted off if he had not been stopped by a Peasant who was coming that way, driving a cow before him. Hans soon picked himself up on his legs, but he was terribly put out, and said to the countryman, "That is bad sport, that riding, especially when one mounts such a beast as that, which stumbles and throws one off so as to nearly break one's neck. I will never ride on that animal again. Commend me to your cow: one may walk behind her without any discomfort, and besides one has, every day for certain, milk, butter, and cheese. Ah! what would I not give for such a cow!"

"Well," said the Peasant, "such an advantage you may soon enjoy; I will exchange my cow for your horse."

To this Hans consented with a thousand thanks, and the Peasant, swinging himself upon the horse, rode off in a hurry.

Hans now drove his cow off steadily before him, thinking of his lucky bargain in this wise: "I have a bit of bread, and I can, as often as I please, eat with it butter and cheese, and when I am thirsty I can milk my cow and have a draught: and what more can I desire?"

As soon, then, as he came to an inn he halted, and ate with great satisfaction all the bread he had brought with him for his noonday and evening meals, and washed it down with a glass of beer, to buy which he spent his two last farthings. This over, he drove his cow farther, but still in the direction of his mother's village. The heat meantime became more and more oppressive as noontime approached, and just then Hans came to a common which was an hour's journey across. Here he got into such a state of heat that his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, and he thought to himself: "This won't do; I will just milk my cow, and refresh myself." Hans, therefore tied her to a stump of a tree, and, having no pail, placed his leathern cap below, and set to work, but not a drop of milk could he squeeze out. He had placed himself, too, very awkwardly, and at last the impatient cow gave him such a kick on the head that he tumbled over on the ground, and for a long time knew not where he was. Fortunately, not many hours after, a Butcher passed by, trundling a young pig along upon a wheelbarrow. "What trick is this!" exclaimed he, helping up poor Hans; and Hans told him that all that had passed. The Butcher then handed him his flask and said, "There, take a drink; it will revive you. Your cow might well give no milk: she is an old beast, and worth nothing at the best but for the plough or the butcher!"

"Eh! eh!" said Hans, pulling his hair over his eyes, "who would have thought it? It is all very well when one can kill a beast like that at home, and make a profit of the flesh; but for my part I have no relish for cow's flesh; it is too tough for me! Ah! a young pig like yours is the thing that tastes something like, let alone the sausages!"

"Well now, for love of you," said the Butcher, "I will make an exchange, and let you have my pig for your cow."

"Heaven reward you for your kindness!" cried Hans; and, giving up the cow, he untied the pig from the barrow and took into his hands the string with which it was tied.

Hans walked on again, considering how everything had happened just as he wished, and how all his vexations had turned out for the best after all! Presently a boy overtook him carrying a fine white goose under his arm, and after they had said "Good-day" to each other, Hans began to talk about his luck, and what profitable exchanges he had made. The Boy on his part told him that he was carrying the goose to a christening-feast. "Just lift it," said he to Hans, holding it up by its wings, "just feel how heavy it is; why, it has been fattened up for the last eight weeks, and whoever bites it when it is cooked will have to wipe the grease from each side of his mouth!"

"Yes," said Hans, weighing it with one hand, "it is weighty, but my pig is no trifle either."

While he was speaking the Boy kept looking about on all sides, and shaking his head suspiciously, and at length he broke out, "I am afraid it is not all right about your pig. In the village through which I have just come, one has been stolen out of the sty of the mayor himself; and I am afraid, very much afraid, you have it now in your hand! They have sent out several people, and it would be a very bad job for you if they found you with the pig; the best thing you can do is to hide it in some dark corner!"

Honest Hans was thunderstruck, and exclaimed, "Ah, Heaven help me in this fresh trouble! you know the neighbourhood better than I do; do you take my pig and let me have your goose," said he to the boy.

"I shall have to hazard something at that game," replied the Boy, "but still I do not wish to be the cause of your meeting with misfortune;" and, so saying, he took the rope into his own hand, and drove the pig off quickly by a side-path, while Hans, lightened of his cares, walked on homeward with the goose under his arm. "If I judge rightly," thought he to himself, "I have gained even by this exchange: first there is a good roast; then the quantity of fat which will drip out will make goose broth for a quarter of a year; and then there are fine white feathers, which, when once I have put into my pillow I warrant I shall sleep without rocking. What pleasure my mother will have!"

As he came to the last village on his road there stood a Knife-grinder, with his barrow by the hedge, whirling his wheel round and singing:

"Scissors and razors and such-like I grind; And gaily my rags are flying behind."

Hans stopped and looked at him, and at last he said, "You appear to have a good business, if I may judge by your merry song?"

"Yes," answered the Grinder, "this business has a golden bottom! A true knife-grinder is a man who as often as he puts his hand into his pocket feels money in it! But what a fine goose you have got; where did you buy it?"

"I did not buy it at all," said Hans, "but took it in exchange for my pig." "And the pig?" "I exchanged for my cow." "And the cow?" "I exchanged a horse for her." "And the horse?" "For him I gave a lump of gold as big as my head." "And the gold?" "That was my wages for a seven years' servitude." "And I see you have known how to benefit yourself each time," said the Grinder; "but, could you now manage that you heard the money rattling in your pocket as you walked, your fortune would be made."

"Well! how shall I manage that?" asked Hans.

"You must become a grinder like me; to this trade nothing peculiar belongs but a grindstone; the other necessaries find themselves. Here is one which is a little worn, certainly, and so I will not ask anything more for it than your goose; are you agreeable?"

"How can you ask me?" said Hans; "why, I shall be the luckiest man in the world; having money as often as I dip my hand into my pocket, what have I to care about any longer?"

So saying, he handed over the goose, and received the grindstone in exchange.

"Now," said the Grinder, picking up an ordinary big flint stone which lay near, "now, there you have a capital stone upon which only beat them long enough and you may straighten all your old nails! Take it, and use it carefully!"

Hans took the stone and walked on with a satisfied heart, his eyes glistening with joy. "I must have been born," said he, "to a heap of luck; everything happens just as I wish, as if I were a Sunday-child."

Soon, however, having been on his legs since daybreak, he began to feel very tired, and was plagued too with hunger, since he had eaten all his provision at once in his joy about the cow bargain. At last he felt quite unable to go farther, and was forced, too, to halt every minute for the stones encumbered him very much. Just then the thought overcame him, what a good thing it were if he had no need to carry them any longer, and at the same moment he came up to a stream. Here he resolved to rest and refresh himself with drink, and so that the stones might not hurt him in kneeling he laid them carefully down by his side on the bank. This done, he stooped down to scoop up some water in his hand, and then it happened that he pushed one stone a little too far, so that both presently went plump into the water. Hans, as soon as he saw them sinking to the bottom, jumped up for joy, and then kneeled down and returned thanks, with tears in his eyes, that so mercifully, and without any act on his part, and in so nice a way, he had been delivered from the heavy stones, which alone hindered him from getting on.

"So lucky as I am," exclaimed Hans, "is no other man under the sun!"

Then with a light heart, and free from every burden, he leaped gaily along till he reached his mother's house.



II

WHY THE SEA IS SALT

Once on a time, but it was a long, long time ago, there were two brothers, one rich and one poor. Now, one Christmas eve, the poor one hadn't so much as a crumb in the house, either of meat or bread, so he went to his brother to ask him for something to keep Christmas with, in God's name. It was not the first time his brother had been forced to help him, and you may fancy he wasn't very glad to see his face, but he said:

"If you will do what I ask you to do, I'll give you a whole flitch of bacon."

So the poor brother said he would do anything and was full of thanks.

"Well, here is the flitch," said the rich brother, "and now go straight to Hell."

"What I have given my word to do, I must stick to," said the other; so he took the flitch and set off. He walked the whole day, and at dusk he came to a place where he saw a very bright light.

"Maybe this is the place," said the man to himself. So he turned aside, and the first thing he saw was an old, old man, with a long white beard, who stood in an outhouse, hewing wood for the Christmas fire.

"Good even," said the man with the flitch.

"The same to you; whither are you going so late?" said the man.

"Oh! I'm going to Hell, if I only knew the right way," answered the poor man.

"Well, you're not far wrong, for this is Hell," said the old man; "when you get inside they will be all for buying your flitch, for meat is scarce in Hell; but, mind you don't sell it unless you get the hand-quern which stands behind the door for it. When you come out, I'll teach you how to handle the quern, for it's good to grind almost anything."

So the man with the flitch thanked the other for his good advice, and gave a great knock at the Devil's door.

When he got in, everything was just as the old man had said. All the devils, great and small, came swarming up to him like ants round an anthill, and each tried to outbid the other for the flitch.

"Well!" said the man, "by rights, my old dame and I ought to have this flitch for our Christmas dinner; but since you have all set your hearts on it, I suppose I must give it up to you; but if I sell it at all, I'll have for it the quern behind the door yonder."

At first the Devil wouldn't hear of such a bargain, and chaffed and haggled with the man; but he stuck to what he said, and at last the Devil had to part with his quern. When the man got out into the yard, he asked the old woodcutter how he was to handle the quern; and after he had learned how to use it, he thanked the old man and went off home as fast as he could, but still the clock had struck twelve on Christmas eve before he reached his own door.

"Wherever in the world have you been?" said his old dame; "here have I sat hour after hour waiting and watching, without so much as two sticks to lay together under the Christmas brose."

"Oh!" said the man, "I couldn't get back before, for I had to go a long way first for one thing, and then for another; but now you shall see what you shall see."

So he put the quern on the table, and bade it first of all grind lights, then a table-cloth, then meat, then ale, and so on till they had got everything that was nice for Christmas fare. He had only to speak the word, and the quern ground out what he wanted. The old dame stood by blessing her stars, and kept on asking where he had got this wonderful quern, but he wouldn't tell her.

"It's all one where I got it from; you see the quern is a good one, and the mill-stream never freezes, that's enough."

So he ground meat and drink and dainties enough to last out till Twelfth Day, and on the third day he asked all his friends and kin to his house, and gave a great feast. Now, when his rich brother saw all that was on the table, and all that was behind in the larder, he grew quite spiteful and wild, for he couldn't bear that his brother should have anything.

"Twas only on Christmas eve," he said to the rest, "he was in such straits that he came and asked for a morsel of food in God's name, and now he gives a feast as if he were count or king;" and he turned to his brother and said:

"But whence, in Hell's name, have you got all this wealth?"

"From behind the door," answered the owner of the quern, for he didn't care to let the cat out of the bag. But later on in the evening, when he had got a drop too much, he could keep his secret no longer, and brought out the quern and said:

"There, you see what has gotten me all this wealth;" and so he made the quern grind all kind of things. When his brother saw it, he set his heart on having the quern, and, after a deal of coaxing, he got it; but he had to pay three hundred dollars for it, and his brother bargained to keep it till hay-harvest, for he thought, if I keep it till then, I can make it grind meat and drink that will last for years. So you may fancy the quern didn't grow rusty for want of work, and when hay-harvest came, the rich brother got it, but the other took care not to teach him how to handle it.

It was evening when the rich brother got the quern home, and the next morning he told his wife to go out into the hay-field and toss, while the mowers cut the grass, and he would stay at home and get the dinner ready. So, when dinner-time drew near, he put the quern on the kitchen table and said:

"Grind herrings and broth, and grind them good and fast."

So the quern began to grind herrings and broth; first of all, all the dishes full, then all the tubs full, and so on till the kitchen floor was quite covered. Then the man twisted and twirled at the quern to get it to stop, but for all his twisting and fingering the quern went on grinding, and in a little while the broth rose so high that the man was like to drown. So he threw open the kitchen door and ran into the parlour, but it wasn't long before the quern had ground the parlour full too, and it was only at the risk of his life that the man could get hold of the latch of the house door through the stream of broth. When he got the door open, he ran out and set off down the road, with the stream of herrings and broth at his heels, roaring like a waterfall over the whole farm.

Now, his old dame, who was in the field tossing hay, thought it a long time to dinner, and at last she said:

"Well! though the master doesn't call us home, we may as well go. Maybe he finds it hard work to boil the broth, and will be glad of my help."

The men were willing enough, so they sauntered homeward; but just as they had got a little way up the hill, what should they meet but herrings, and broth, and bread, all running and dashing, and splashing together in a stream, and the master himself running before them for his life, and as he passed them he bawled out: "Would to heaven each of you had a hundred throats! but take care you're not drowned in the broth."

Away he went, as though the Evil One were at his heels, to his brother's house, and begged him for God's sake to take back the quern that instant; for, said he:

"If it grinds only one hour more, the whole parish will be swallowed up by herrings and broth."

But his brother wouldn't hear of taking it back till the other paid him down three hundred dollars more.

So the poor brother got both the money and the quern, and it wasn't long before he set up a farmhouse far finer than the one in which his brother lived, and with the quern he ground so much gold that he covered it with plates of gold; and as the farm lay by the sea-side, the golden house gleamed and glistened far away over the sea. All who sailed by, put ashore to see the rich man in the golden house, and to see the wonderful quern, the fame of which spread far and wide, till there was nobody who hadn't heard tell of it.

So one day there came a skipper who wanted to see the quern; and the first thing he asked was if it could grind salt.

"Grind salt!" said the owner; "I should just think it could. It can grind anything."

When the skipper heard that, he said he must have the quern, cost what it would; for if he only had it, he thought he should be rid of his long voyages across stormy seas for a lading of salt. Well, at first the man wouldn't hear of parting with the quern; but the skipper begged and prayed so hard that at last he let him have it, but he had to pay many, many thousand dollars for it. Now, when the skipper had got the quern on his back, he soon made off with it, for he was afraid lest the man should change his mind; so he had no time to ask how to handle the quern, but got on board his ship as fast as he could, and set sail. When he had sailed a good way off, he brought the quern on deck and said:

"Grind salt, and grind both good and fast."

Well, the quern began to grind salt so that it poured out like water; and when the skipper had got the ship full, he wished to stop the quern, but whichever way he turned it, and however much he tried, it was no good; the quern kept grinding on, and the heap of salt grew higher and higher, and at last down sunk the ship.

There lies the quern at the bottom of the sea, and grinds away at this very day, and that's why the sea is salt.



III

THE LAD WHO WENT TO THE NORTH WIND

Once on a time there was an old widow who had one son and, as she was poorly and weak, her son had to go up into the safe to fetch meal for cooking; but when he got outside the safe, and was just going down the steps, there came the North Wind, puffing and blowing, caught up the meal, and so away with it through the air. Then the lad went back into the safe for more; but when he came out again on the steps, if the North Wind didn't come again and carry off the meal with a puff; and more than that, he did so the third time. At this the lad got very angry; and as he thought it hard that the North Wind should behave so, he thought he'd just look him up, and ask him to give up his meal.

So off he went, but the way was long, and he walked and walked; but at last he came to the North Wind's house.

"Good day!" said the lad, and "thank you for coming to see us yesterday."

"GOOD DAY!" answered the North Wind, for his voice was loud and gruff, "AND THANKS FOR COMING TO SEE ME. WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

"Oh!" answered the lad, "I only wished to ask you to be so good as to let me have back that meal you took from me on the safe steps, for we haven't much to live on; and if you're to go on snapping up the morsel we have there'll be nothing for it but to starve."

"I haven't got your meal," said the North Wind; "but if you are in such need, I'll give you a cloth which will get you everything you want, if you only say, 'Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes!'"

With this the lad was well content. But, as the way was so long he couldn't get home in one day, he turned into an inn on the way; and when they were going to sit down to supper, he laid the cloth on a table which stood in the corner and said:

"Cloth spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes."

He had scarce said so before the cloth did as it was bid; and all who stood by thought it a fine thing, but most of all the landlady. So, when all were fast asleep, at dead of night, she took the lad's cloth, and put another in its stead, just like the one he had got from the North Wind, but which couldn't so much as serve up a bit of dry bread.

So, when the lad woke, he took his cloth and went off with it, and that day he got home to his mother.

"Now," said he, "I've been to the North Wind's house, and a good fellow he is, for he gave me this cloth, and when I only say to it, 'Cloth, spread yourself, and serve up all kinds of good dishes,' I get any sort of food I please."

"All very true, I dare say," said his mother; "but seeing is believing, and I shan't believe it till I see it."

So the lad made haste, drew out a table, laid the cloth on it, and said:

"Cloth, spread yourself, and serve all up kinds of good dishes."

But never a bit of dry bread did the cloth serve up.

"Well," said the lad, "there's no help for it but to go to the North Wind again;" and away he went.

So he came to where the North Wind lived late in the afternoon.

"Good evening!" said the lad.

"Good evening," said the North Wind.

"I want my rights for that meal of ours which you took," said the lad; "for as for that cloth I got, it isn't worth a penny."

"I've got no meal," said the North Wind; "but yonder you have a ram which coins nothing but golden ducats as soon as you say to it:

"'Ram, ram! make money!'"

So the lad thought this a fine thing but as it was too far to get home that day, he turned in for the night to the same inn where he had slept before.

Before he called for anything, he tried the truth of what the North Wind had said of the ram, and found it all right; but when the landlord saw that, he thought it was a famous ram, and, when the lad had fallen asleep, he took another which couldn't coin gold ducats, and changed the two.

Next morning off went the lad; and when he got home to his mother he said:

"After all, the North Wind is a jolly fellow; for now he has given me a ram which can coin golden ducats if I only say, 'Ram, ram! make money!'"

"All very true, I dare say," said his mother; "but I shan't believe any such stuff until I see the ducats made."

"Ram, ram! make money!" said the lad; but if the ram made anything it wasn't money.

So the lad went back again to the North Wind and blew him up, and said the ram was worth nothing, and he must have his rights for the meal.

"Well," said the North Wind; "I've nothing else to give you but that old stick in the corner yonder; but it's a stick of that kind that if you say:

"'Stick, stick! lay on!' it lays on till you say:

"'Stick, stick! now stop!'"

So, as the way was long, the lad turned in this night too to the landlord; but as he could pretty well guess how things stood as to the cloth and the ram, he lay down at once on the bench and began to snore, as if he were asleep.

Now the landlord, who easily saw that the stick must be worth something, hunted up one which was like it, and when he heard the lad snore, was going to change the two, but just as the landlord was about to take it the lad bawled out:

"Stick, stick! lay on!"

So the stick began to beat the landlord, till he jumped over chairs, and tables, and benches, and yelled and roared:

"Oh my! oh my! bid the stick be still, else it will beat me to death, and you shall have back both your cloth and your ram."

When the lad thought the landlord had got enough, he said:

"Stick, stick! now stop!"

Then he took the cloth and put it into his pocket, and went home with his stick in his hand, leading the ram by a cord round its horns; and so he got his rights for the meal he had lost.



IV

THE LAD AND THE DEIL

Once on a time there was a lad who was walking along a road cracking nuts, so he found one that was worm-eaten, and just at that very moment he met the Deil.

"Is it true, now," said the lad, "what they say, that the Deil can make himself as small as he chooses, and thrust himself on through a pinhole?"

"Yes, it is," said the Deil.

"Oh! it is, is it? then let me see you do it, and just creep into this nut," said the lad.

So the Deil did it.

Now, when he had crept well into it through the worm's hole, the lad stopped it up with a pin.

"Now, I've got you safe," he said, and put the nut into his pocket.

So when he had walked on a bit, he came to a smithy, and he turned in and asked the smith if he'd be good enough to crack that nut for him.

"Ay, that'll be an easy job," said the smith, and took his smallest hammer, laid the nut on the anvil, and gave it a blow, but it wouldn't break.

So he took another hammer a little bigger, but that wasn't heavy enough either.

Then he took one bigger still, but it was still the same story; and so the smith got wroth, and grasped his great sledge-hammer.

"Now, I'll crack you to bits," he said, and let drive at the nut with all his might and main. And so the nut flew to pieces with a bang that blew off half the roof of the smithy, and the whole house creaked and groaned as though it were ready to fall.

"Why! if I don't think the Deil must have been in that nut," said the smith.

"So he was; you're quite right," said the lad, as he went away laughing.



V

ANANZI AND THE LION

Once on a time Ananzi planned a scheme. He went to town and bought ever so many firkins of fat, and ever so many sacks, and ever so many balls of string, and a very big frying pan, then he went to the bay and blew a shell, and called the Head-fish in the sea, "Green Eel," to him. Then he said to the fish, "The King sends me to tell you that you must bring all the fish on shore, for he wants to give them new life."

So "Green Eel" said he would, and went to call them. Meanwhile Ananzi lighted a fire, and took out some of the fat, and got his frying pan ready, and as fast as the fish came out of the water he caught them and put them into the frying pan, and so he did with all of them until he got to the Head-fish, who was so slippery that he couldn't hold him, and he got back again into the water.

When Ananzi had fried all the fish, he put them into the sacks, and took the sacks on his back, and set off to the mountains. He had not gone very far when he met Lion, and Lion said to him:

"Well, brother Ananzi, where have you been? I have not seen you a long time."

Ananzi said, "I have been travelling about."

"Oh! But what have you got there?" said the Lion.

"Oh! I have got my mother's bones—she has been dead these forty-eleven years, and they say I must not keep her here, so I am taking her up into the middle of the mountains to bury her."

Then they parted. After he had gone a little way, the Lion said: "I know that Ananzi is a great rogue; I dare say he has got something there that he doesn't want me to see, and I will just follow him;" but he took care not to let Ananzi see him.

Now, when Ananzi got into the wood, he set his sacks down, and took one fish out and began to eat; then a fly came, and Ananzi said, "I cannot eat any more, for there is some one near;" so he tied the sack up, and went on farther into the mountains, where he set his sacks down, and took out two fish which he ate; and no fly came. He said, "There is no one near;" so he took out more fish. But when he had eaten about half a dozen the Lion came up and said:

"Well, brother Ananzi, a pretty tale you have told me."

"Oh! brother Lion, I am so glad you have come; never mind what tale I have told you, but come and sit down—it was only my fun."

So Lion sat down and began to eat; but before Ananzi had eaten two fish, Lion had emptied one of the sacks. Then said Ananzi to himself:

"Greedy fellow, eating up all my fish."

"What do you say, sir?"

"I only said you do not eat half fast enough," for he was afraid the Lion would eat him up.

Then they went on eating, but Ananzi wanted to revenge himself, and he said to the Lion, "Which of us do you think is the stronger?"

The Lion said, "Why, I am, of course."

Then Ananzi said, "We will tie one another to the tree, and we shall see which is the stronger."

Now they agreed that the Lion should tie Ananzi first, and he tied him with some very fine string, and did not tie him tight. Ananzi twisted himself about two or three times, and the string broke.

Then it was Ananzi's turn to tie the Lion, and he took some very strong cord. The Lion said, "You must not tie me tight, for I did not tie you tight." And Ananzi said, "Oh! no, to be sure, I will not." But he tied him as tight as ever he could, and then told him to try and get loose.

The Lion tried and tried in vain—he could not get loose. Then Ananzi thought, now is my chance; so he got a big stick and beat him, and then went away and left him, for he was afraid to loose him lest he should kill him.

Now there was a woman called Miss Nancy, who was going out one morning to get some "callalou" (spinach) in the wood, and as she was going she heard some one say, "Good morning, Miss Nancy!" She could not tell who spoke to her, but she looked where the voice came from, and saw the Lion tied to the tree.

"Good morning, Mr. Lion, what are you doing there?"

He said, "It is all that fellow Ananzi who has tied me to the tree, but will you loose me?"

But she said, "No, for I am afraid, if I do, you will kill me." But he gave her his word he would not; still she could not trust him; but he begged her again and again, and said:

"Well, if I do try to eat you, I hope all the trees will cry out shame upon me."

So at last she consented; but she had no sooner loosed him, than he came up to her to eat her, for he had been so many days without food that he was quite ravenous, but the trees immediately cried out, "Shame," and so he could not eat her. Then she went away as fast as she could, and the Lion found his way home.

When Lion got home he told his wife and children all that happened to him, and how Miss Nancy had saved his life, so they said they would have a great dinner, and ask Miss Nancy. Now when Ananzi heard of it, he wanted to go to the dinner, so he went to Miss Nancy, and said she must take him with her as her child, but she said, "No." Then he said, "I can turn myself into quite a little child and then you can take me," and at last she said, "Yes;" and he told her, when she was asked what pap her baby ate, she must be sure to tell them it did not eat pap, but the same food as every one else; and so they went, and had a very good dinner, and set off home again—but somehow one of the Lion's sons fancied that all was not right, and he told his father he was sure it was Ananzi, and the Lion set out after him.

Now as they were going along, before the Lion got up to them, Ananzi begged Miss Nancy to put him down, that he might run, which he did, and he got away and ran along the wood, and the Lion ran after him. When he found the Lion was overtaking him, he turned himself into an old man with a bundle of wood on his head—and when the Lion got up to him, he said, "Good morning, Mr. Lion," and the Lion said, "Good morning, old gentleman."

Then the old man said, "What are you after now?" and the Lion asked if he had seen Ananzi pass that way, but the old man said, "No, that fellow Ananzi is always meddling with some one; what mischief has he been up to now?"

Then the Lion told him, but the old man said it was no use to follow him any more, for he would never catch him, and so the Lion wished him good-day, and turned and went home again.



VI

THE GRATEFUL FOXES

One fine spring day two friends went out to a moor to gather fern, attended by a boy with a bottle of wine and a box of provisions. As they were straying about, they saw at the foot of a hill two foxes that had brought out their cub to play; and whilst they looked on, struck by the strangeness of the sight, three children came up from a neighbouring village with baskets in their hands, on the same errand as themselves. As soon as the children saw the foxes, they picked up a bamboo stick and took the creatures stealthily in the rear; and when the old foxes took to flight, they surrounded them and beat them with the stick, so that they ran away as fast as their legs could carry them; but two of the boys held down the cub, and, seizing it by the scruff of the neck, went off in high glee.

The two friends were looking on all the while, and one of them, raising his voice, shouted out, "Hallo! you boys! what are you doing with that fox?"

The eldest of the boys replied, "We're going to take him home and sell him to a young man in our village. He'll buy him, and then he'll boil him in a pot and eat him."

"Well," replied the other, after considering the matter attentively, "I suppose it's all the same to you whom you sell him to. You'd better let me have him."

"Oh, but the young man from our village promised us a good sum if we could find a fox, and got us to come out to the hills and catch one; and so we can't sell him to you at any price."

"Well, I suppose it cannot be helped, then; but how much would the young man give you for the cub?"

"Oh, he'll give us three hundred cash at least."

"Then I'll give you half a bu;[1] and so you'll gain five hundred cash by the transaction."

"Oh, we'll sell him for that, sir. How shall we hand him over to you?"

"Just tie him up here," said the other; and so he made fast the cub round the neck with the string of the napkin in which the luncheon-box was wrapped, and gave half a bu to the three boys, who ran away delighted.

The man's friend, upon this, said to him: "Well, certainly you have got queer tastes. What on earth are you going to keep the fox for?"

"How very unkind of you to speak of my tastes like that. If we had not interfered just now, the fox's cub would have lost its life. If we had not seen the affair, there would have been no help for it. How could I stand by and see life taken? It was but a little I spent—only half a bu—to save the cub, but had it cost a fortune I should not have grudged it. I thought you were intimate enough with me to know my heart; but to-day you have accused me of being eccentric, and I see how mistaken I have been in you. However, our friendship shall cease from this day forth."

And when he had said this with a great deal of firmness, the other, retiring backward and bowing with his hands on his knees, replied:

"Indeed, indeed, I am filled with admiration at the goodness of your heart. When I hear you speak thus, I feel more than ever how great is the love I bear you. I thought that you might wish to use the cub as a sort of decoy to lead the old ones to you, that you might pray them to bring prosperity and virtue to your house. When I called you eccentric just now, I was but trying your heart, because I had some suspicions of you; and now I am truly ashamed of myself."

And as he spoke, still bowing, the other replied: "Really! was that indeed your thought? Then I pray you to forgive me for my violent language."

When the two friends had thus become reconciled, they examined the cub, and saw that it had a slight wound in its foot, and could not walk; and while they were thinking what they should do, they spied out the herb called "Doctor's Nakase," which was just sprouting; so they rolled up a little of it in their fingers and applied it to the part. Then they pulled out some boiled rice from their luncheon-box and offered it to the cub, but it showed no sign of wanting to eat; so they stroked it gently on the back and petted it; and as the pain of the wound seemed to have subsided, they were admiring the properties of the herb, when, opposite to them, they saw the old foxes sitting watching them by the side of some stacks of rice straw.

"Look there! the old foxes have come back, out of fear for their cub's safety. Come, we will set it free!" And with these words they untied the string round the cub's neck, and turned its head toward the spot where the old foxes sat; and as the wounded foot was no longer painful, with one bound it dashed to its parents' side and licked them all over for joy, while they seemed to bow their thanks, looking toward the two friends. So, with peace in their hearts, the latter went off to another place, and, choosing a pretty spot, produced the wine bottle and ate their noonday meal; and after a pleasant day, they returned to their homes, and became firmer friends than ever.

Now the man who had rescued the fox's cub was a tradesman in good circumstances: he had three or four agents and two maid-servants, besides men-servants; and altogether he lived in a liberal manner. He was married, and this union had brought him one son, who had reached his tenth year, but had been attacked by a strange disease which defied all the physicians' skill and drugs. At last a famous physician prescribed the liver taken from a live fox, which, as he said, would certainly effect a cure. If that were not forthcoming, the most expensive medicine in the world would not restore the boy to health. When the parents heard this, they were at their wits' end. However, they told the state of the case to a man who lived on the mountains. "Even though our child should die for it," they said, "we will not ourselves deprive other creatures of their lives; but you, who live among the hills, are sure to hear when your neighbours go out fox-hunting. We don't care what price we might have to pay for a fox's liver; pray, buy one for us at any expense." So they pressed him to exert himself on their behalf; and he, having promised faithfully to execute the commission, went his way.

In the night of the following day there came a messenger, who announced himself as coming from the person who had undertaken to procure the fox's liver; so the master of the house went out to see him.

"I have come from Mr. So-and-so. Last night the fox's liver that you required fell into his hands; so he sent me to bring it to you." With these words the messenger produced a small jar, adding, "In a few days he will let you know the price."

When he had delivered his message, the master of the house was greatly pleased and said, "Indeed, I am deeply grateful for this kindness, which will save my son's life."

Then the good wife came out, and received the jar with every mark of politeness.

"We must make a present to the messenger."

"Indeed, sir, I've already been paid for my trouble."

"Well, at any rate, you must stop the night here."

"Thank you, sir: I've a relation in the next village whom I have not seen for a long while, and I will pass the night with him;" and so he took his leave, and went away.

The parents lost no time in sending to let the physician know that they had procured the fox's liver. The next day the doctor came and compounded a medicine for the patient, which at once produced a good effect, and there was no little joy in the household. As luck would have it, three days after this the man whom they had commissioned to buy the fox's liver came to the house: so the goodwife hurried out to meet him and welcome him.

"How quickly you fulfilled our wishes, and how kind of you to send at once! The doctor prepared the medicine, and now our boy can get up and walk about the room; and it's all owing to your goodness."

"Wait a bit!" cried the guest, who did not know what to make of the joy of the two parents. "The commission with which you entrusted me about the fox's liver turned out to be a matter of impossibility, so I came to-day to make my excuses; and now I really can't understand what you are so grateful to me for."

"We are thanking you, sir," replied the master of the house, bowing with his hands on the ground, "for the fox's liver which we asked you to procure for us."

"I really am perfectly unaware of having sent you a fox's liver: there must be some mistake here. Pray inquire carefully into the matter."

"Well, this is very strange. Four nights ago, a man of some five or six and thirty years of age came with a verbal message from you, to the effect that you had sent him with a fox's liver, which you had just procured, and said that he would come and tell us the price another day. When we asked him to spend the night here, he answered that he would lodge with a relation in the next village, and went away."

The visitor was more and more lost in amazement, and, leaning his head on one side in deep thought, confessed that he could make nothing of it. As for the husband and wife, they felt quite out of countenance at having thanked a man so warmly for favours of which he denied all knowledge; and so the visitor took his leave and went home.

That night there appeared at the pillow of the master of the house a woman of about one or two and thirty years of age, who said: "I am the fox that lives at such-and-such a mountain. Last spring, when I was taking out my cub to play, it was carried off by some boys, and only saved by your goodness. The desire to requite this kindness pierced me to the quick. At last, when calamity attacked your house, I thought I might be of use to you. Your son's illness could not be cured without a liver taken from a live fox, so to repay your kindness I killed my cub and took out its liver; then its sire, disguising himself as a messenger, brought it to your house."

And as she spoke, the fox shed tears; and the master of the house, wishing to thank her, moved in bed, upon which his wife awoke and asked him what was the matter; but he too, to her great astonishment, was biting the pillow and weeping bitterly.

"Why are you weeping thus?" asked she.

At last he sat up in bed and said: "Last spring, when I was out on a pleasure excursion, I was the means of saving the life of a fox's cub, as I told you at the time. The other day I told Mr. So-and-so that, although my son were to die before my eyes, I would not be the means of killing a fox on purpose, but asked him, in case he heard of any hunter killing a fox, to buy it for me. How the foxes came to hear of this I don't know; but the foxes to whom I had shown kindness killed their own cub and took out the liver; and the old dog-fox, disguising himself as a messenger from the person to whom we had confided the commission, came here with it. His mate has just been at my pillow-side and told me all about it. Hence it was that, in spite of myself, I was moved to tears."

When she heard this, the goodwife likewise was blinded by her tears, and for a while they lay lost in thought; but at last, coming to themselves, they lighted the lamp on the shelf on which the family idol stood, and spent the night in reciting prayers and praises, and the next day they published the matter to the household and to their relations and friends. Now, although there are instances of men killing their own children to requite a favour, there is no other example of foxes having done such a thing; so the story became the talk of the whole country.

Now, the boy who had recovered through the efficacy of this medicine selected the prettiest spot on the premises to erect a shrine to Inari Sama,[2] the Fox God, and offered sacrifice to the two old foxes, for whom he purchased the highest rank at the court of the Mikado.

* * * * *

The passage in the tale which speaks of rank being purchased for the foxes at the court of the Mikado is, of course, a piece of nonsense. "The saints who are worshipped in Japan," writes a native authority, "are men who, in the remote ages, when the country was developing itself, were sages, and by their great and virtuous deeds having earned the gratitude of future generations, received divine honours after their death. How can the Son of Heaven, who is the father and mother of his people, turn dealer in ranks and honours? If rank were a matter of barter, it would cease to be a reward to the virtuous."

All matters connected with the shrines of the Shinto, or indigenous religion, are confided to the superintendence of the families of Yoshida and Fushimi, Kuges or nobles of the Mikado's court at Kiyoto. The affairs of the Buddhist or imported religion are under the care of the family of Kanjuji. As it is necessary that those who as priests perform the honourable office of serving the gods should be persons of some standing, a certain small rank is procured for them through the intervention of the representatives of the above noble families, who, on the issuing of the required patent, receive as their perquisite a fee, which, although insignificant in itself, is yet of importance to the poor Kuges, whose penniless condition forms a great contrast to the wealth of their inferiors in rank, the Daimios. I believe that this is the only case in which rank can be bought or sold in Japan. In China, on the contrary, in spite of what has been written by Meadows and other admirers of the examination system, a man can be what he pleases by paying for it; and the coveted button, which is nominally the reward of learning and ability, is more often the prize of wealthy ignorance.

The saints who are alluded to above are the saints of the whole country, as distinct from those who for special deeds are locally worshipped.

Touching the remedy of the fox's liver, prescribed in the tale, I may add that there would be nothing strange in this to a person acquainted with the Chinese pharmacopoeia, which the Japanese long exclusively followed, although they are now successfully studying the art of healing as practised in the West. When I was at Peking, I saw a Chinese physician prescribe a decoction of three scorpions for a child struck down with fever; and on another occasion a groom of mine, suffering from dysentery, was treated with acupuncture of the tongue. The art of medicine would appear to be at the present time in China much in the state in which it existed in Europe in the sixteenth century, when the excretions and secretions of all manner of animals, saurians, and venomous snakes and insects, and even live bugs, were administered to patients. "Some physicians," says Matthiolus, "use the ashes of scorpions, burnt alive, for retention caused by either renal or vesical calculi. But I have myself thoroughly experienced the utility of an oil I make myself, whereof scorpions form a very large portion of the ingredients. If only the region of the heart and all the pulses of the body be anointed with it, it will free the patients from the effects of all kinds of poisons taken by the mouth, corrosive ones excepted." Decoctions of Egyptian mummies were much commended, and often prescribed with due academical solemnity; and the bones of the human skull, pulverized and administered with oil, were used as a specific in cases of renal calculus. (See Petri Andreae Matthioli "Opera," 1574.)

These remarks were made to me by a medical gentleman to whom I mentioned the Chinese doctor's prescription of scorpion tea, and they seem to me so curious that I insert them for comparison's sake.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: Bu. This coin is generally called by foreigners "ichibu," which means "one bu." To talk of "a hundred ichibus" is as though a Japanese were to say "a hundred one shillings." Four bus make a riyo, or ounce; and any sum above three bus is spoken of as so many riyos and bus—as 101 riyos and three bus equal 407 bus. The bu is worth about 1s. 4d.]

[Footnote 2: Inari Sama is the title under which was deified a certain mythical personage, called Uga, to whom tradition attributes the honour of having first discovered and cultivated the rice-plant. He is represented carrying a few ears of rice, and is symbolized by a snake guarding a bale of rice grain. The foxes wait upon him, and do his bidding. Inasmuch as rice is the most important and necessary product of Japan, the honours which Inari Sama receives are extraordinary. Almost every house in the country contains somewhere about the grounds a pretty little shrine in his honour; and on a certain day of the second month of the year his feast is celebrated with much beating of drums and other noises, in which the children take a special delight. "On this day," says the O-Satsuyo, a Japanese cyclopaedia, "at Yeddo, where there are myriads upon myriads of shrines to Inari Sama, there are all sorts of ceremonies. Long banners with inscriptions are erected, lamps and lanterns are hung up, and the houses are decked with various dolls and figures; the sound of flutes and drums is heard, and people dance and make holiday according to their fancy. In short, it is the most bustling festival of the Yeddo year."]



VII

THE BADGER'S MONEY

It is a common saying among men that to forget favours received is the part of a bird or a beast: an ungrateful man will be ill spoken of by all the world. And yet even birds and beasts will show gratitude; so that a man who does not requite a favour is worse even than dumb brutes. Is not this a disgrace?

Once upon a time, in a hut at a place called Namekata, in Hitachi, there lived an old priest famous neither for learning nor wisdom, but bent only on passing his days in prayer and meditation. He had not even a child to wait upon him, but prepared his food with his own hands. Night and morning he recited the prayer "Namu Amida Butsu,"[3] intent upon that alone. Although the fame of his virtue did not reach far, yet his neighbours respected and revered him, and often brought him food and raiment; and when his roof or his walls fell out of repair, they would mend them for him; so for the things of this world he took no thought.

One very cold night, when he little thought any one was outside, he heard a voice calling, "Your reverence! your reverence!" So he rose and went out to see who it was, and there he beheld an old badger standing. Any ordinary man would have been greatly alarmed at the apparition; but the priest, being such as he has been described above, showed no sign of fear, but asked the creature its business. Upon this the badger respectfully bent its knees and said:

"Hitherto, sir, my lair has been in the mountains, and of snow or frost I have taken no heed; but now I am growing old, and this severe cold is more than I can bear. I pray you to let me enter and warm myself at the fire of your cottage, that I may live through this bitter night."

When the priest heard what a helpless state the beast was reduced to, he was filled with pity and said:

"That's a very slight matter: make haste and come in and warm yourself."

The badger, delighted with so good a reception, went into the hut, and squatting down by the fire began to warm itself; and the priest, with renewed fervour, recited his prayers and struck his bell before the image of Buddha, looking straight before him.

After two hours the badger took its leave, with profuse expressions of thanks, and went out; and from that time forth it came every night to the hut. As the badger would collect and bring with it dried branches and dead leaves from the hills for firewood, the priest at last became very friendly with it, and got used to its company; so that if ever, as the night wore on, the badger did not arrive, he used to miss it, and wonder why it did not come. When the winter was over, and the springtime came at the end of the second month, the badger gave up its visits, and was no more seen; but, on the return of the winter, the beast resumed its old habit of coming to the hut. When this practice had gone on for ten years, one day the badger said to the priest, "Through your reverence's kindness for all these years, I have been able to pass the winter nights in comfort. Your favours are such that during all my life, and even after my death, I must remember them. What can I do to requite them? If there is anything that you wish for, pray tell me."

The priest, smiling at this speech, answered: "Being such as I am, I have no desire and no wishes. Glad as I am to hear your kind intentions, there is nothing that I can ask you to do for me. You need feel no anxiety on my account. As long as I live, when the winter comes, you shall be welcome here." The badger, on hearing this, could not conceal its admiration of the depth of the old man's benevolence; but having so much to be grateful for, it felt hurt at not being able to requite it. As this subject was often renewed between them, the priest at last, touched by the goodness of the badger's heart, said: "Since I have shaven my head, renounced the world, and forsaken the pleasures of this life, I have no desire to gratify, yet I own I should like to possess three riyos in gold. Food and raiment I receive by the favour of the villagers, so I take no heed for those things. Were I to die to-morrow, and attain my wish of being born again into the next world, the same kind folk have promised to meet and bury my body. Thus, although I have no other reason to wish for money, still if I had three riyos I would offer them up at some holy shrine, that masses and prayers might be said for me, whereby I might enter into salvation. Yet I would not get this money by violent or unlawful means; I only think of what might be if I had it. So you see, since you have expressed such kind feelings toward me, I have told you what is on my mind." When the priest had done speaking, the badger leant its head on one side with a puzzled and anxious look, so much so that the old man was sorry he had expressed a wish which seemed to give the beast trouble, and tried to retract what he had said. "Posthumous honours, after all, are the wish of ordinary men. I, who am a priest, ought not to entertain such thoughts, or to want money; so pray pay no attention to what I have said;" and the badger, feigning assent to what the priest had impressed upon it, returned to the hills as usual.

From that time forth the badger came no more to the hut. The priest thought this very strange, but imagined either that the badger stayed away because it did not like to come without the money, or that it had been killed in an attempt to steal it; and he blamed himself for having added to his sins for no purpose, repenting when it was too late: persuaded, however, that the badger must have been killed, he passed his time in putting up prayers upon prayers for it.

After three years had gone by, one night the old man heard a voice near his door calling out, "Your reverence! your reverence!"

As the voice was like that of the badger, he jumped up as soon as he heard it, and ran to open the door; and there, sure enough, was the badger. The priest, in great delight, cried out: "And so you are safe and sound, after all! Why have you been so long without coming here? I have been expecting you anxiously this long while."

So the badger came into the hut and said: "If the money which you required had been for unlawful purposes, I could easily have procured as much as ever you might have wanted; but when I heard that it was to be offered to a temple for masses for your soul, I thought that, if I were to steal the hidden treasure of some other man, you could not apply to a sacred purpose money which had been obtained at the expense of his sorrow. So I went to the island of Sado,[4] and gathering the sand and earth which had been cast away as worthless by the miners, fused it afresh in the fire; and at this work I spent months and days." As the badger finished speaking, the priest looked at the money which it had produced, and sure enough he saw that it was bright and new and clean; so he took the money, and received it respectfully, raising it to his head.

"And so you have had all this toil and labour on account of a foolish speech of mine? I have obtained my heart's desire, and am truly thankful."

As he was thanking the badger with great politeness and ceremony, the beast said: "In doing this I have but fulfilled my own wish; still I hope that you will tell this thing to no man."

"Indeed," replied the priest, "I cannot choose but tell this story. For if I keep this money in my poor hut, it will be stolen by thieves: I must either give it to some one to keep for me, or else at once offer it up at the temple. And when I do this, when people see a poor old priest with a sum of money quite unsuited to his station, they will think it very suspicious, and I shall have to tell the tale as it occurred; but I shall say that the badger that gave me the money has ceased coming to my hut, you need not fear being waylaid, but can come, as of old, and shelter yourself from the cold." To this the badger nodded assent; and as long as the old priest lived, it came and spent the winter nights with him.

From this story, it is plain that even beasts have a sense of gratitude: in this quality dogs excel all other beasts. Is not the story of the dog of Totoribe Yorodzu written in the Annals of Japan? I[5] have heard that many anecdotes of this nature have been collected and printed in a book, which I have not yet seen; but as the facts which I have recorded relate to a badger, they appear to me to be passing strange.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: A Buddhist prayer, in which something approaching to the sounds of the original Sanscrit has been preserved. The meaning of the prayer is explained as, "Save us, eternal Buddha'" Many even of the priests who repeat it know it only as a formula, without understanding it.]

[Footnote 4: An island on the west coast of Japan, famous for its gold mines.]

[Footnote 5: The author of the tale.]



VIII

WHY BROTHER BEAR HAS NO TAIL

"I 'clar' ter gracious, honey," Uncle Remus exclaimed one night, as the little boy ran in, "you sholy ain't chaw'd yo' vittles. Hit ain't bin no time, skacely, sence de supper-bell rung, en ef you go on dis a-way, you'll des nat'ally pe'sh yo'se'f out."

"Oh, I wasn't hungry," said the little boy. "I had something before supper, and I wasn't hungry anyway."

The old man looked keenly at the child, and presently he said:

"De ins en de outs er dat kinder talk all come ter de same p'int in my min'. Youer bin a-cuttin' up at de table, en Mars John, he tuck'n sont you 'way fum dar, en w'iles he think youer off some'er a-snifflin' en a-feelin' bad, yer you is a-high-primin' 'roun' des lak you done had mo' supper dan de King er Philanders."

Before the little boy could inquire about the King of Philanders he heard his father calling him. He started to go out, but Uncle Remus motioned him back.

"Des set right whar you is, honey—des set right still."

Then Uncle Remus went to the door and answered for the child; and a very queer answer it was—one that could be heard half over the plantation:

"Mars John, I wish you en Miss Sally be so good ez ter let dat chile 'lone. He down yer cryin' he eyes out, en he ain't boddern' 'long er nobody in de roun' worl'."

Uncle Remus stood in the door a moment to see what the reply would be, but he heard none. Thereupon he continued, in the same loud tone:

"I ain't bin use ter no sich gwines on in Ole Miss time, en I ain't gwine git use ter it now. Dat I ain't."

Presently 'Tildy, the house-girl, brought the little boy his supper, and the girl was no sooner out of hearing than the child swapped it with Uncle Remus for a roasted yam, and the enjoyment of both seemed to be complete.

"Uncle Remus," said the little boy, after a while, "you know I wasn't crying just now."

"Dat's so, honey," the old man replied, "but 't wouldn't er bin long 'fo' you would er bin, kaze Mars John bawl out lak a man wa't got a strop in he han', so wa't de diff'unce?"

When they had finished eating, Uncle Remus busied himself in cutting and trimming some sole-leather for future use. His knife was so keen, and the leather fell away from it so smoothly and easily, that the little boy wanted to trim some himself. But to this Uncle Remus would not listen.

"'Tain't on'y chilluns w'at got de consate er doin' eve'ything dey see yuther folks do. Hit's grown folks w'at oughter know better," said the old man. "Dat's des de way Brer B'ar git his tail broke off smick-smack-smoove, en down ter dis day he be funnies'-lookin' creetur w'at wobble on top er dry groun'."

Instantly the little boy forgot all about Uncle Remus's sharp knife.

"Hit seem lak dat in dem days Brer Rabbit en Brer Tarrypin done gone in cohoots fer ter outdo de t'er creeturs. One time Brer Rabbit tuck'n make a call on Brer Tarrypin, but w'en he git ter Brer Tarrypin house, he year talk fum Miss Tarrypin dat her ole man done gone fer ter spen' de day wid Mr. Mud-Turkle, w'ich dey wuz blood kin. Brer Rabbit he put out atter Brer Tarrypin, en w'en he got ter Mr. Mud-Turkle house, dey all sot up, dey did, en tole tales, en den w'en twelf er' clock come dey had crawfish fer dinner, en dey 'joy deyse'f right erlong. Atter dinner dey went down ter Mr. Mud-Turkle mill-pon,' en w'en dey git dar Mr. Mud-Turkle en Brer Tarrypin dey 'muse deyse'f, dey did, wid slidin' fum de top uv a big slantin' rock down inter de water.

"I'speck you moughter seen rocks in de water 'fo' now, whar dey git green en slipp'y," said Uncle Remus.

The little boy had not only seen them, but had found them to be very dangerous to walk upon, and the old man continued:

"Well, den, dish yer rock wuz mighty slick en mighty slantin'. Mr. Mud-Turkle, he'd crawl ter de top, en tu'n loose, en go a-sailin' down inter de water—kersplash! Ole Brer Tarrypin, he'd foller atter, en slide down inter de water—kersplash! Ole Brer Rabbit, he sot off, he did, en praise um up.

"W'iles dey wuz a-gwine on dis a-way, a-havin' der fun, en 'joyin' deyse'f, yer come ole Brer B'ar. He year um laffin' en holl'in', en he hail um.

"'Heyo, folks! W'at all dis? Ef my eye ain't 'ceive me, dish yer's Brer Rabbit, en Brer Tarrypin, en ole Unk' Tommy Mud-Turkle,' sez Brer B'ar, sezee.

"'De same,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'en yer we is 'joyin' de day dat passes des lak dey wa'n't no hard times.'

"'Well, well, well!' sez ole Brer B'ar, sezee, 'a-slippin' en a-slidin' en makin' free! En w'at de matter wid Brer Rabbit dat he ain't j'inin' in?' sezee.

"Ole Brer Rabbit he wink at Brer Tarrypin, en Brer Tarrypin he hunch Mr. Mud-Turkle, en den Brer Rabbit he up'n 'low, he did:

"'My goodness, Brer B'ar! you can't 'speck a man fer ter slip en slide de whole blessid day, kin you? I done had my fun, en now I'm a-settin' out yer lettin' my cloze dry. Hit's tu'n en tu'n about wid me en deze gents w'en dey's any fun gwine on,' sezee.

"'Maybe Brer B'ar might jine in wid us,' sez Brer Tarrypin, sezee.

"Brer Rabbit he des holler en laff.

"'Shoo!' sezee, 'Brer B'ar foot too big en he tail too long fer ter slide down dat rock,' sezee.

"Dis kinder put Brer B'ar on he mettle, en he up'n 'spon', he did:

"'Maybe dey is, en maybe dey ain't, yit I ain't a-feared ter try.'

"Wid dat de yuthers tuck'n made way fer 'im, en ole Brer B'ar he git up on de rock he did, en squot down on he hunkers, en quile he tail und' 'im, en start down. Fus' he go sorter slow, en he grin lak he feel good; den he go sorter peart, en he grin lak he feel bad; den he go mo' pearter, en he grin lak he skeerd; den he strack de slick part, en, gentermens! he swaller de grin en fetch a howl dat moughter bin yeard a mile, en he hit de water lak a chimbly a-fallin'.

"You kin gimme denial," Uncle Remus continued after a little pause, "but des ez sho' ez you er settin' dar, w'en Brer B'ar slick'd up en flew down dat rock, he break off he tail right smick-smack-smoove, en mo'n dat, w'en he make his disappear'nce up de big road, Brer Rabbit holler out:

"'Brer B'ar!—O Brer B'ar! I year tell dat flaxseed poultices is mighty good fer so' places!'

"Yit Brer B'ar ain't look back."



IX

THE ORIGIN OF RUBIES

There was a certain king who died leaving four sons behind him with his queen. The queen was passionately fond of the youngest of the princes. She gave him the best robes, the best horses, the best food, and the best furniture. The other three princes became exceedingly jealous of their youngest brother, and, conspiring against him and their mother, made them live in a separate house, and took possession of the estate. Owing to overindulgence, the youngest prince had become very wilful. He never listened to any one, not even to his mother, but had his own way in everything. One day he went with his mother to bathe in the river. A large boat was riding there at anchor. None of the boatmen were in it. The prince went into the boat, and told his mother to come into it. His mother besought him to get down from the boat, as it did not belong to him. But the prince said, "No, mother I am not coming down; I mean to go on a voyage, and if you wish to come with me, then delay not but come up at once, or I shall be off in a trice." The queen besought the prince to do no such thing, but to come down instantly. But the prince gave no heed to what she said, and began to take up the anchor. The queen went up into the boat in great haste; and the moment she was on board the boat started, and falling into the current passed on swiftly like an arrow. The boat went on and on till it reached the sea. After it had gone many furlongs into the open sea, the boat came near a whirlpool where the prince saw a great many rubies of monstrous size floating on the waters. Such large rubies no one had ever seen, each being in value equal to the wealth of seven kings. The prince caught hold of half-a-dozen of those rubies, and put them on board. His mother said, "Darling, don't take up those red balls; they must belong to somebody who has been shipwrecked, and we may be taken up as thieves." At the repeated entreaties of his mother, the prince threw them into the sea, keeping only one tied up in his clothes. The boat then drifted toward the coast, and the queen and the prince arrived at a certain port where they landed.

The port where they landed was not a small place; it was a large city, the capital of a great king. Not far from the palace, the queen and her son hired a hut where they lived. As the prince was yet a boy, he was fond of playing at marbles. When the children of the king came out to play on a lawn before the palace, our young prince joined them. He had no marbles, but he played with the ruby which he had in his possession. The ruby was so hard that it broke every taw against which it struck. The daughter of the king, who used to watch the games from a balcony of the palace, was astonished to see a brilliant red ball in the hand of the strange lad, and wanted to take possession of it. She told her father that a boy of the street had an uncommonly bright stone in his possession which she must have or else she would starve herself to death. The king ordered his servants to bring to him the lad with that precious stone. When the boy was brought, the king wondered at the largeness and brilliancy of the ruby. He had never seen anything like it. He doubted whether any king of any country in the world possessed so great a treasure. He asked the lad where he had got it. The lad replied that he got it from the sea. The king offered a thousand rupees for the ruby, and the lad, not knowing its value, readily parted with it for that sum. He went with the money to his mother, who was not a little frightened, thinking that her son had stolen the money from some rich man's house. She became quiet, however, on being assured that the money was given to him by the king in exchange for the red ball which he had picked up in the sea.

The king's daughter, on getting the ruby put it in her hair, and, standing before her pet parrot, said to the bird, "Oh, my darling parrot, don't I look very beautiful with this ruby in my hair?" The parrot replied, "Beautiful! you look quite hideous with it! What princess ever puts only one ruby in her hair? It would be somewhat feasible if you had two at least." Stung with shame at the reproach cast in her teeth by the parrot, the princess went into the grief-chamber of the palace, and would neither eat nor drink. The king was not a little concerned when he heard that his daughter had gone into the grief-chamber. He went to her, and asked her the cause of her grief. The princess told the king what her pet parrot had said, and added, "Father, if you do not procure for me another ruby like this, I'll put an end to my life by mine own hands." The king was overwhelmed with grief. Where was he to get another ruby like it? He doubted whether another like it could be found in the whole world. He ordered the lad who had sold the ruby, to be brought into his presence. "Have you, young man," asked the king, "another ruby like the one you sold me?" The lad replied: "No, I have not got one. Why, do you want another? I can give you lots, if you wish to have them. They are to be found in a whirlpool in the sea, far, far away. I can go and fetch some for you." Amazed at the lad's reply, the king offered rich rewards for procuring only another ruby of the same sort.

The lad went home and said to his mother that he must go to sea again to fetch some rubies for the king. The woman was quite frightened at the idea, and begged him not to go. But the lad was resolved on going, and nothing could prevent him from carrying out his purpose. He accordingly went alone on board that same vessel which had brought him and his mother, and set sail. He reached the whirlpool, from near which he had formerly picked up the rubies. This time, however, he determined to go to the exact spot whence the rubies were coming out. He went to the centre of the whirlpool, where he saw a gap reaching to the bottom of the ocean. He dived into it, leaving his boat to wheel round the whirlpool. When he reached the bottom of the ocean he saw there a beautiful palace. He went inside. In the central room of the palace there was the god Siva, with his eyes closed, and absorbed apparently in intense meditation. A few feet above Siva's head was a platform, on which lay a young lady of exquisite beauty. The prince went to the platform and saw that the head of the lady was separated from her body. Horrified at the sight, he did not know what to make of it. He saw a stream of blood trickling from the severed head, falling upon the matted head of Siva, and running into the ocean in the form of rubies. After a little two small rods, one of silver and one of gold, which were lying near the head of the lady, attracted his eyes. As he took up the rods in his hands, the golden rod accidentally fell upon the head, on which the head immediately joined itself to the body, and the lady got up. Astonished at the sight of a human being, the lady asked the prince who he was and how he had got there. After hearing the story of the prince's adventures, the lady said, "Unhappy young man, depart instantly from this place; for when Siva finishes his meditations he will turn you to ashes by a single glance of his eyes." The young man, however, would not go except in her company, as he was over head and ears in love with the beautiful lady. At last they both contrived to run away from the palace, and coming up to the surface of the ocean they climbed into the boat near the centre of the whirlpool, and sailed away toward land, having previously laden the vessel with a cargo of rubies. The wonder of the prince's mother at seeing the beautiful damsel may be well imagined. Early next morning the prince sent a basin full of big rubies, through a servant. The king was astonished beyond measure. His daughter, on getting the rubies, resolved on marrying the wonderful lad who had made a present of them to her. Though the prince had a wife, whom he had brought up from the depths of the ocean, he consented to have a second wife. They were accordingly married, and lived happily for years, begetting sons and daughters.

Here my story endeth, The Natiya-thorn withereth, etc.



X

LONG, BROAD, AND SHARPSIGHT

There was a king, who was already old, and had but one son. Once upon a time he called this son to him and said to him: "My dear son! you know that old fruit falls to make room for other fruit. My head is already ripening, and maybe the sun will soon no longer shine upon it; but before you bury me, I should like to see your wife, my future daughter. My son, marry!" The prince said: "I would gladly, father, do as you wish; but I have no bride, and don't know any." The old king put his hand into his pocket, took out a golden key and showed it to his son, with the words, "go up into the tower, to the top story, look round there, and then tell me which you fancy." The prince went without delay. Nobody within the memory of man had been up there or had ever heard what was up there.

When he got up to the last story, he saw in the ceiling a little iron door like a trap-door. It was closed. He opened it with the golden key, lifted it, and went up above it. There was a large circular room. The ceiling was blue like the sky on a clear night, and silver stars glittered on it, the floor was a carpet of green silk, and around in the wall were twelve high windows in golden frames, and in each window on crystal glass was a damsel painted with the colours of the rainbow, with a royal crown on her head, in each window a different one in a different dress, each handsomer than the other, and it was a wonder that the prince did not let his eyes dwell upon them. When he had gazed at them with astonishment, the damsels began to move as if they were alive, looked down upon him, smiled, and did everything but speak.

Now the prince observed that one of the twelve windows was covered with a white curtain; he drew the curtain to see what was behind it. There there was a damsel in a white dress, girt with a silver girdle, with a crown of pearls on her head; she was the most beautiful of all, but was sad and pale, as if she had risen from the grave. The prince stood long before the picture, as if he had made a discovery, and as he thus gazed, his heart pained him, and he cried, "This one will I have, and no other." As he said the words the damsel bowed her head, blushed like a rose, and that instant all the pictures disappeared.

When he went down and related to his father what he had seen and which damsel he had selected, the old king became sad, bethought himself, and said: "You have done ill, my son, in uncovering what was curtained over, and have placed yourself in great danger on account of those words. That damsel is in the power of a wicked wizard, and kept captive in an iron castle; of all who have attempted to set her free, not one has hitherto returned. But what's done cannot be undone; the plighted word is a law. Go! try your luck, and return home safe and sound!"

The prince took leave of his father, mounted his horse, and rode away in search of his bride. It came to pass that he rode through a vast forest, and through the forest he rode on and on till he lost the road. And as he was wandering with his horse in thickets and amongst rocks and morasses, not knowing which way to turn, he heard somebody shout behind him, "Hi! stop!" The prince looked round, and saw a tall man hastening after him. "Stop and take me with you, and take me into your service, and you won't regret it!" "Who are you," said the prince, "and what can you do?" "My name is Long, and I can extend myself. Do you see a bird's nest in that pine yonder? I will bring you the nest down without having to climb up."

Long then began to extend himself; his body grew rapidly till it was as tall as the pine; he then reached the nest, and in a moment contracted himself again and gave it to the prince. "You know your business well, but what's the use of birds' nests to me, if you can't conduct me out of this forest?"

"Ahem! that's an easy matter," said Long, and began to extend himself till he was thrice as high as the highest fir in the forest, looked round, and said: "Here on this side we have the nearest way out of the forest." He then contracted himself, took the horse by the bridle, and before the prince had any idea of it, they were beyond the forest. Before them was a long and wide plain, and beyond the plain tall gray rocks like the walls of a large town, and mountains overgrown with forest trees.

"Yonder, sir, goes my comrade!" said Long, and pointed suddenly to the plain; "you should take him also into your service; I believe he would serve you well." "Shout to him, and call him hither, that I may see what he is good for." "It is a little too far, sir," said Long; "he would hardly hear me, and it would take a long time before he came, because he has a great deal to carry. I'll jump after him instead." Then Long again extended himself to such a height that his head plunged into the clouds, made two or three steps, took his comrade by the arm, and placed him before the prince. He was a short, thick-set fellow, with a paunch like a sixty-four-gallon cask. "Who are you?" demanded the prince, "and what can you do?" "My name, sir, is Broad; I can widen myself." "Give me a specimen." "Ride quick, sir, quick, back into the forest!" cried Broad, as he began to blow himself out.

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