Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin.

Tales of laughter : a third fairy book online

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The fishes, both great and small, came to pay their respects,
and to offer gifts to the newly wedded pair; and for some
days all was feasting and merriment.

But, alas! even dragons have their trials. Before a month
had passed, the young dragon queen fell ill. The doctors
dosed her with every medicine that was known to them, but
all to no purpose. At last they shook their heads, declaring
that there was nothing more to be done. The illness must
take its course, and she would probably die. But the sick
queen said to her husband :

" I know of something that will cure me. Only fetch me
a live monkey's liver to eat, and I shall get well at once."

" A live monkey's liver ! " exclaimed the king. " What are
you thinking of, my dear ? Why ! you forget that we dragons
live in the sea, while monkeys live far away from here, among
the forest trees on land. A monkey's liver! Why! darling,
you must be mad." Hereupon the young dragon queen burst
into tears. " I only ask you for one small thing," whimpered
she, " and you won't get it for me. I always thought you
didn't really love me. Oh ! I wish I had stayed at home with
my own m-m-m-mama and my own papa-a-a-a ! " Here her
voice choked with sobs, and she could say no more.

Well, of course the dragon king did not like to have it
thought that he was unkind to his beautiful young wife. So
he sent for his trusty servant, the Jelly-fish, and said : " It is

[432]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

rather a difficult job, but what I want you to try to do is to
swim across to the land, and persuade a live monkey to come
here with you. In order to make the monkey willing to come,
you can tell him how much nicer everything is here in dragon-
land than away where he lives. But what I really want him
for is to cut out his liver, and use it as medicine for your
young mistress, who, as you know, is dangerously ill."

So the Jelly-fish went off on his strange errand. In those
days he was just like any other fish, with eyes, and fins, and
a tail. He even had little feet, which made him able to walk
on the land as well as to swim in the water. It did not take
him many hours to swim across to the country where the
monkeys lived ; and, fortunately, there just happened to be
a fine monkey skipping about among the branches of the
trees near the place where he landed. So the Jelly-fish said:
" Mr. Monkey, I have come to tell you of a country far
more beautiful than this. It lies beyond the waves, and is
called dragon-land. There is pleasant weather there all the
year round ; there is always plenty of ripe fruit on the trees,
and there are none of those mischievous creatures called men.
If you will come with me, I will take you there. Just get on
my back."

The monkey thought it would be fun to see a new country.
So he leaped on to the Jelly-fish's back, and off they started
across the water. But when they had gone about half-way,
he began to fear that perhaps there might be some hidden
danger, for it seemed so odd to be fetched suddenly in that way
by a stranger. So he said to the Jelly-fish : " What made you
think of coming for me ? " The Jelly-fish answered : " My
master, the king of the dragons, wants you in order to cut
out your liver, and give it as medicine to his wife, the queen,
who is sick."

"Oh! that's your little game, is it?" thought the monkey.
But he kept his thoughts to himself, and only said : " Nothing
could please me better than to be of service to their Majesties,
but it so happens that I left my liver hanging to a branch of
that big chestnut-tree where you found me skipping about.

[433]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

A liver is a thing that weighs a good deal, so I generally take
it out, and play about without it during the daytime. We
must go back for it." The Jelly-fish agreed that there was
nothing else to be done under the circumstances; for, silly
creature that he was, he did not see that the monkey was tell-
ing a story in order to avoid getting killed, and having his
liver used as medicine for the fanciful young dragon queen.

When they reached the shore of monkey-land again, the
monkey bounded off the Jelly-fish's back, and up to the top-
most branch of the chestnut-tree in less than no time. Then
he said : " I do not see my liver here. Perhaps somebody has
taken it away. But I will look for it. You, meantime, had
better go back and tell your master what has happened. He
might be anxious about you if you did not get home before
dark."

So the Jelly-fish started off a second time, and when he got
home he told the dragon king everything just as it had hap-
pened. But the king flew into a passion with him for his stu-
pidity, and hallooed to his officers, saying : " Away with this
fellow ! Take him, and beat him to a jelly ! Don't let a single
bone remain unbroken in his body ! " So the officers seized
him and beat him, as the king had commanded. That is the
reason why, to this very day, jelly-fishes have no bones, but
are just nothing more than a mass of pulp.

As for the dragon queen, when she found she could not
have the monkey's liver, why, she made up her mind that the
/ only thing to do was to get well without it.



[434]



Chin-Chin Kobakama

X^VNCE there was a little girl who was very pretty, but
f M also very lazy. Her parents were rich, and had a great
^-^ many servants ; and these servants were very fond of
the little girl, and did everything for her which she ought to
have been able to do for herself. Perhaps this was what made
her so lazy. When she grew up into a beautiful woman she
still remained lazy; but as the servants always dressed and
undressed her, and arranged her hair, she looked very charm-
ing, and nobody thought about her faults.

At last she was married to a brave warrior, and went away
with him to live in another house where there were but few
servants. She was sorry not to have as many servants as she
had had at home, because she was obliged to do several things
for herself which other folks had always done for her, and it
was a great deal of trouble to her to dress herself, and take
care of her own clothes, and keep herself looking neat and
pretty to please her husband. But as he was a warrior, and
often had to be far away from home with the army, she could
sometimes be just as lazy as she wished, and her husband's
parents were very old and good-natured, and never scolded
her.

Well, one night while her husband was away with the army,
she was awakened by queer little noises in her room. By the
light of a big paper lantern she could see very well, and she
saw strange things.

Hundreds of little men, dressed just like Japanese warriors,
but only about one inch high, were dancing all around her
pillow. They wore the same kind of dress her husband wore
on holidays (Kamishimo, a long robe with square shoulders),
and their hair was tied up in knots, and each wore two tiny

[435]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

swords. They all looked at her as they danced, and laughed,
and they all sang the same song over and over again :

Chin-chin Kobakama,

Yomo fukd soro
Oshizumare, Hime-gimi!

Ya ton ton!

Which meant : " We are the Chin-chin Kobakama ; the hour
is late ; sleep, honorable, noble darling ! "

The words seemed very polite, but she soon saw that the
little men were only making cruel fun of her. They also
made ugly faces at her.

She tried to catch some of them, but they jumped about so
quickly that she could not. Then she tried to drive them
away, but they would not go, and they never stopped singing :

Chin-chin Kobakama . . .

and laughing at her. Then she knew they were little fairies,
and became so frightened that she could not even cry out.
They danced around her until morning ; then they all vanished
suddenly.

She was ashamed to tell anybody what had happened, be-
cause, as she was the wife of a warrior, she did not wish any-
body to know how frightened she had been.

Next night, again, the little men came and danced ; and
they came also the night after that, and every night, always
at the same hour, which the old Japanese used to call the
" hour of the ox " ; that is, about two o'clock in the morning
by our time. At last she became very sick, through want of
sleep and through fright. But the little men would not leave
her alone.

When her husband came back home he was very sorry to
find her sick in bed. At first she was afraid to tell him what
had made her ill, for fear that he would laugh at her. But
he was so kind, and coaxed her so gently, that after a while
she told him what happened every night.

[436]



. TALES OF LAUGHTER

He did not laugh at her at all, but looked very serious for
a time. Then he asked:

" At what time do they come ? "

She answered, " Always at the same hour the ' hour of
the ox/ '

" Very well," said her husband ; " to-night I shall hide, and
watch for them. Do not be frightened."

So that night the warrior hid himself in a closet in the
sleeping-room, and kept watch through a chink between the
sliding doors.

He waited and watched until the " hour of the ox." Then,
all at once, the little men came up through the mats, and be-
gan their dance and their song :

Chin-chin Kobakama,
Yomo fuk Soro. . . .

They looked so queer, and danced in such a funny way,
that the warrior could scarcely keep from laughing. But he
saw his young wife's frightened face; and then, remembering
that nearly all Japanese ghosts and goblins are afraid of a
sword, he drew his blade and rushed out of the closet, and
struck at the little dancers. Immediately they all turned into
what do you think?

Toothpicks!

There were no more little warriors only a lot of old tooth-
picks scattered over the mats.

The young wife had been too lazy to put her toothpicks
away properly ; and every day, after having used a new tooth-
pick, she would stick it down between the mats on the floor,
to get rid of it. So the little fairies who take care of the floor-
mats became angry with her, and tormented her.

Her husband scolded her, and she was so ashamed that she
did not know what to do. A servant was called, and the tooth-
picks were taken away and burned, and after that the little
men never came back again.

[437]



The Old Woman who Lost her
Dumplings

f ONG, long ago there was a funny old woman who

i liked to laugh and to make dumplings of rice-flour.

* ^ One day, while she was preparing some dumplings

for dinner, she let one fall, and it rolled into a hole in the

earthen floor of her little kitchen and disappeared. The old

woman tried to reach it by putting her hand down the hole,

and all at once the earth gave way, and the old woman fell in.

She fell quite a distance, but was not a bit hurt ; and when
she got up on her feet again, she saw that she was standing
on a road just like the road before her house. It was quite
light down there; and she could see plenty of rice-fields, but
no one in them. How all this happened I cannot tell you, but
it seems that the old woman had fallen into another country.

The road she had fallen upon sloped very much; so, after
having looked for her dumpling in vain, she thought that it
must have rolled farther away down the hill. She ran down
the road to look, crying : " My dumpling ! my dumpling !
Where is that dumpling of mine ? "

After a little while she saw a stone image standing by the
roadside, and she said, calling it by its name :

"O Jizo San, did you see my dumpling?"

Jizo answered:

" Yes, I saw your dumpling rolling by me down the road.
But you had better not go any farther, because there is a
wicked oni living down there who eats people."

But the old woman only laughed, and ran on farther down
the road, crying : " My dumpling ! my dumpling ! Where is that
dumpling of mine ? " And she came to another statue of Jizo,
and asked it:

[438]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" O kind Jizo, did you see my dumpling ?"

And Jizo said:

" Yes, I saw your dumpling go by a little while ago. But
you must not run any farther, because there is a wicked oni
down there who eats people."

But she only laughed and ran on, still crying out : " My
dumpling ! my dumpling ! Where is that dumpling of mine ? "
And she came to a third Jizo, and asked it :

" O dear Jizo, did you see my dumpling? "

But Jizo said:

" Don't talk about your dumpling now. Here is the oni
coming. Squat down here behind my sleeve, and don't make
any noise."

Presently the oni came very close, and stopped and bowed
to Jizo, and said :

" Good day, Jizo San ! "

Jizo said good day, too, very politely.

Then the oni suddenly snuffed the air two or three times
in a suspicious way, and cried out : " Jizo San, Jizo San ! I
smell a smell of mankind somewhere don't you ? "

" Oh ! " said Jizo, " perhaps you are mistaken."

" No, no ! " said the oni after snuffing the air again ; " I
smell a smell of mankind."

Then the old woman could not help laughing " Te-he-he \ "
and the oni immediately reached down his big hairy hand
behind Jizo's sleeve, and pulled her out still laughing, " Te-
he-he !"

"Ah! ha!" cried the oni.

Then Jizo said:

" What are you going to do with that good old woman ?
You must not hurt her."

" I won't," said the oni', " but I will take her home with me
to cook for us."

" Te-he-he \ " laughed the old woman.

" Very well," said Jizo, " but you must really be kind to her.
If you are not, I shall be very angry."

" I won't hurt her at all," promised the oni ; " and she will

[439]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

only have to do a little work for us every day. Good-by,
Jizo San."

Then the oni took the old woman far down the road till
they came to a wide deep river, where there was a boat. He
put her into the boat, and took her across the river to his
house. It was a very large house. He led her at once into
the kitchen, and told her to cook some dinner for himself and
the other oni who lived with him. And he gave her a small
wooden rice-paddle, and said:

" You must always put only one grain of rice into the pot,
and, when you stir that one grain of rice in the water with
this paddle, the grain will multiply until the pot is full."

So the old woman put just one rice-grain into the pot, as
the oni told her, and began to stir it with the paddle; and,
as she stirred, the one grain became two, then four, then
eight, then sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, and so on. Every
time she moved the paddle the rice increased in quantity, and
in a few minutes the great pot was full.

After that, the funny old woman stayed a long time in the
house of the oni, and every day cooked food for him and for
all his friends. The oni never hurt or frightened her, and her
work was made quite easy by the magic paddle, although she
had to cook a very, very great quantity of rice, because an oni
eats much more than any human being eats.

But she felt lonely, and always wished very much to go
back to her own little house, and make her dumplings; and
one day, when the oni were all out somewhere, she thought
she would try to run away.

She first took the magic paddle and slipped it under her
girdle, and then she went down to the river. No one saw
her, and the boat was there. She got into it and pushed off,
and, as she could row very well, she was soon far away from
the shore.

But the river was very wide, and she had not rowed more
than one-fourth of the way across when the oni, all of them,
came back to the house.

They found that their cook was gone, and the magic paddle,

[440]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

too. They ran down to the river at once, and saw the old
woman rowing away very fast.

Perhaps they could not swim ; at all events, they had no
boat, and they thought the only way they could catch the
funny old woman would be to drink up all the water of the
river before she got to the other bank. So they knelt down,
and began to drink so fast that, before the old woman had
got half-way over, the water had become quite low.

But the old woman kept on rowing until the water had got
so shallow that the oni stopped drinking, and began to wade
across. Then she dropped her oar, took the magic paddle
from her girdle, and shook it at the oni, and made such funny
faces that the oni all burst out laughing.

But, the moment they laughed, all the water came up that
they had drunk, and so the river became full again. The
oni could not cross, and the funny old woman got safely over
to the other side, and ran away up the road as fast as she
could. She never stopped running until she found herself at
home again.

After that she was very happy, for she could make dump-
lings whenever she pleased. Besides, she had the magic pad-
dle to make rice for her. She sold her dumplings to her
neighbors and passengers, and in quite a short time she be-
came rich.



[44i]



The Three Goats

NCE upon a time there were three goats that were sent
to some pasture-lands in order to be fattened, and all
three happened to be named Brausewind. On their
road to the pasture there was a bridge across a river which
they must pass, and under the bridge lived a gigantic and
horrible spirit, whose eyes were as large as two pewter plates,
and whose nose was as long as the handle of a hoe.

The youngest goat Brausewind first came along, and stepped
upon the bridge.

" Creak, creak ! " complained the bridge.

" Who is tripping over my bridge ? " cried the elf under-
neath.

" Oh ! it is only the smallest of the goats named Brause-
wind," said the goat in a very shrill voice.

" Then I shall come and fetch you," cried the elf.

" Nay, do not come for me, for I am still so little," said
the goat ; " wait a bit, till the second Brausewind comes, for
he is much larger than I am."

" Very well," quoth the elf.

After a while the other goat Brausewind came along, and
he began to go over the bridge.

" Creak, creak ! " cried the bridge again.

" Who is tramping over my bridge ? " cried the elf.

" Oh ! it is only the second goat Brausewind ; I am going
to the pasture-lands to get a little fatter," answered the goat,
but in a less soft voice than the first.

' Then I shall come and fetch you," said the elf.

" Nay, do not take me, but wait a bit till the large goat
Brausewind comes, for he is a great deal bigger than I am."

" Very well," replied the elf.

[442]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

It was not long before the big goat Brausewind reached the
same spot.

" CREAK, CREAK ! " went the bridge, as if it were going to
split.

" Who comes thundering over my bridge ? " cried the elf.

" The big goat Brausewind," said the goat in a gruff voice.

" Then I shall come and fetch you," cried the elf.

"Well, come if you like; I've two spears in my head,
With which I can easily strike you dead.
Yes, come if you like; and with thundering stones
I shiver to powder your brains and your bones,"

replied the goat ; and, butting at the elf, he easily broke every
bone in his body, after which he threw him into the river, and
followed the other goats to the pastures.

And here the goats grew so very, very, very fat that they
were not able to come home again; and, unless they have
grown thinner since, they are probably there still.



[443]



The Fox Turned Shepherd

rHERE was once a farmer's wife who rode out to
try and find a shepherd. She happened to meet a
bear on the way, and the bear inquired whither
she was going.

" Oh, I'm going to hire a shepherd," answered she.

" Will you take me for a shepherd ? " asked the bear.

" Yes," said the woman, " provided you can call the sheep
properly."

" Ho o y ! " growled the bear.

" No," said the woman on hearing this, " I can't hire you,"
and on she went.

Soon after she met a wolf. " Where are you going ? " asked
the wolf.

" Oh, I'm going to hire a shepherd," answered the woman.

" Will you take me for a shepherd ? " asked the wolf.

" Yes, if you can call the sheep properly," replied the
woman.

Uh uh ! " howled the wolf.

" No, I can't hire you," said the woman.

A little farther on she met a Fox. " Where are you go-
ing ? " asked he.

" Oh, I'm only going to hire a shepherd," answered the
woman.

" Will you take me for a shepherd ? " asked the Fox.

"Yes, provided you can but call the sheep properly," re-
plied the woman.

" Dil dal holom ! " cried the Fox in a pretty, proper tone.

" Yes, I will hire you," said the woman ; and she took him
for a shepherd to watch over the cattle.

The first day, on driving the cattle to the meadows, the Fox

[444]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

ate up all the goats. On the second day he made a dainty
meal upon the sheep, and on the third day it was the turn
for the cows to be eaten.

On returning home in the evening, the woman asked him
where he had left the cattle. " Their heads are in the brook,
and their bones are in the bushes," replied the Fox. The
farmer's wife was just then at the butter-tub, busy making
butter; still, she wanted to go and see for herself how things
stood. While she went to look, the Fox put his head into the
butter-tub and drank up all the cream.

When the woman came back and saw what he had done,
she was so exasperated that she seized a clot of cream that
still remained in the tub and flung it at the Fox, so that it
made a spot upon his tail. And this is the reason why the
Fox's tail has a white tip.



[445]



The Seven Boys and the Monster

/T was Saturday afternoon, and Caspar, Michael, Fritz,
and little Bessy were playing before their house, when
presently little Hans came running toward .them, and
breathlessly cried:

" What have I seen ? what have I seen ? "

" What have you seen, then ? " exclaimed all the children
with one voice, collecting around him.

" A monster ! a frightful monster ! " answered Hans, wiping
the sweat from his brow.

" You are afraid of your own shadow, fearful Hans," said
Caspar mockingly ; " perhaps your neighbor's black cat has
turned her fiery eyes on you again."

" I am not afraid of my shadow," answered Hans angrily ;
" had you only been there, your ridicule would soon have van-
ished. A cat is not a bit like a grasshopper a fearful great
grasshopper, on which one could ride ! "

At this the children wondered very much ; and when Hans
related that he had seen the monster in the shepherd's hut in
the field that it had horns, and such a voice that the whole
hut trembled they almost believed him ; and little Fritz
thought : " Who knows if it is not one of the rhinoceroses of
which Herr Gulmann told us yesterday ? "

" Has the monster done you any harm ? " asked little
Bessy.

" No," answered Hans ; " when I screamed, it shrank back
into its house."

" But I must go and see it," said Caspar ; " and, if you will
all follow, I will go now."

The children determined to go, but little Hans said :

" I will not go unarmed ! "

[446]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

So Caspar mounted his horse-stick, put on his helmet, and
buckled his saber to his side ; Michael took his gun, Fritz the
drum, and little Hans his lance.

" You must remain at home, little Bessy," said Hans ; " I
won't bear the blame if the monster hurts you."

" But I want to go with you," answered little Bessy, almost
crying ; " and, if you will not take me, I will tell my mother."

" Let her go, then," said Fritz ; " but remember, Bessy, you
must always keep ten yards behind."

Thus, having armed themselves, they took courage, and
Caspar thought : " Oh, if we could only catch the monster,
dead or alive ! Ah ! here come Peter, and Frank, and George
they can also go with us, but they must take the great bean-
pole out of the garden, that we may be able to attack the
monster at a distance."

Now the little army set itself in motion. Caspar on " Roho "
(for so his horse was named) came first, as commander; then
came Hans with the spear, Fritz with the drum, Michael with
the gun, and lastly, Peter, Frank, and George, with the pole.
Little Bessy came ten yards behind them. All were full of
courage, and they sang:

The general on his horse comes first,

And next the spear and drum;
The soldier, with his gun; and three

Armed with a bean-pole come.
But Bessy marches after all,
That unto her no harm may fall.

When they came to the little wood through which one must
go in order to get to the great meadow where the shepherd's
cot stands, Hans cried out all at once, his flag nearly falling
from his hand:

" Did you not hear a noise? "

" Yes ! " cried all, trembling ; but Fritz had still courage
enough to say:

" Bessy must remain behind."

Then they whispered to one another, " The monster, per-

[447]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

haps, has hidden here " ; but they dared not run away, for
fear the monster should fall on them from behind, and they



Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginTales of laughter : a third fairy book → online text (page 29 of 31)