Hukumusume fairy tale collection > Foreign language (English) > Japanese classical stories
The Sparrow's Tongue
(Japanese classical stories)
Translation Laurence Hunter
Japanese ←→ Japanese ＆ English ←→ English
Once upon a time, there lived an old man and woman.
The old man who was kind and gentle kept a sparrow as a pet.
One day, the sparrow pecked up and ate all the seaweed that the old lady had been drying in the sun.
"What an evil sparrow !"
The old lady was so furious that she caught the bird, and cut off the sparrow's tongue in one go.
Cheep, cheep! Went the sparrow
While crying, the sparrow escaped into the thicket.
Presently, the old man returned from his work and was surprised to see that the sparrow was nowhere to be seen.
"Old lady, where did my sparrow get to?"
"Humph! That mischievous sparrow. Because that bird ate all my seaweed I cut off his tongue with my scissors."
"What?! Poor thing!..."
The gentle old man became very concerned about the sparrow and tried to imagine how it would be feeling.
"I wonder if the bird is ok?" Is the bird eating properly I wonder?? Then, I must search for the bird"
The old man, then set off in search of the bird in the direction of the thicket where it had flown away.
"Hey, hey. .Sparrow, sparrow. Sparrow with it's tongue cut out, where are you?"
Just then, from out of the bush came the sound of the sparrow.
"Old man, I’m here. My house is over here."
And whatsmore from among the bush came a flock of sparrows.
Upon looking, the old man could see the sparrow he loved so much.
"Oh, I’m so sorry. How is your tongue? ...I'm so relieved to see you are alive.
If that’s the case, then everything must be ok."
After seeing the sparrows tongue ,he was somewhat relieved.
"Thank you ,old man, for worrying. Now, now, come and take a rest in our house."
So, all of the sparrows brought the old man to their house.
The sparrows then proceeded to dance together and produced delicious treats for the old man to eat,
The old man was overjoyed with happiness.
"It is getting dark now, so I think I must be taking my leave.
Sparrows, thank you"
But when the old man tried to thank them and leave, a big sparrow and a small sparrow appeared with gifts
"Old man, which of these gifts would you like to take home with you?"
Said the sparrows in unison.
"Thank you , but as the path home is so tough for an old man like me, then I couldn’t possibly carry a big basket.
So, I think I will just take the small basket."
The old man then received the small basket of gifts and loaded them onto his back and set off home.
When he got home he opened the basket, and what do you think he saw!
An amazing array of big coins and small coins, mixed with jewels and corals of all sorts.
The sparrows had shown their gratitude to the old man for his kindness by giving him wonderful gifts .
"Well, well .You received some wonderful things! I would also like some too.” Said the old lady.
Upon seeing such presents the old lady became incredibly jealous.
"Well, I think I will go out and get some for myself "
The old lady, then proceeded to leave the house and walked off to where the sparrow's house was.
When she arrived, she forced her way in.
"Neither entertainment nor dance is necessary. Since I will go home straight, just bring me the gifts."
"Well, why, yes of course. Will it be the big sparrow or the small one? "
"It goes without saying,? the LARGE one!"
As soon as the old lady had accepted the large sparrow's gift, she hurried off home .
"But, how heavy this basket is. This surely must be proof that it contains riches."
Although the old lady was presently very close to home she couldn’t constrain herself from peeping into the basket.
"What is inside, well, let's have a look shall we."
The old lady, then took the basket down from her back and opened it up and looked inside.
"Surely, it will be filled with big and small coins jingling together . ... What? ... Aaaaaaaghhh! "
But to her horror, the basket was filled with centipedes, bees and snakes, what’s more, terrifying ghosts faces were also in there, peering out at her.
"H h h help meee- "
At full speed, the old lady fled back to the house.
When she told the old man about the whole thing, this is what he said.
"Since you cut out the tongue of that poor cute sparrow and in your greediness ,took the biggest basket you have received punishment from above.
From now on be kind to all living things And try hard not to be greedy.
Said the old man to the old lady.
Timesaver Greediness only leads to unhappiness.
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