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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "How an old man lost his wen"

How an old man lost his wen

The demon chief was just taking a big cup of SAKE and watching one of the demons dancing. In a little while he said with a bored air:

"Your dance is rather monotonous. I am tired of watching it. Isn't there any one amongst you all who can dance better than this fellow?"

Now the old man had been fond of dancing all his life, and was quite an expert in the art, and he knew that he could do much better than the demon.

"Shall I go and dance before these demons and let them see what a human being can do? It may be dangerous, for if I don't please them they may kill me!" said the old fellow to himself.

His fears, however, were soon overcome by his love of dancing. In a few minutes he could restrain himself no longer, and came out before the whole party of demons and began to dance at once. The old man, realizing that his life probably depended on whether he pleased these strange creatures or not, exerted his skill and wit to the utmost.

The demons were at first very surprised to see a man so fearlessly taking part in their entertainment, and then their surprise soon gave place to admiration.

"How strange!" exclaimed the horned chief. "I never saw such a skillful dancer before! He dances admirably!"

When the old man had finished his dance, the big demon said:

"Thank you very much for your amusing dance. Now give us the pleasure of drinking a cup of wine with us," and with these words he handed him his largest wine-cup.

The old man thanked him very humbly:

"I did not expect such kindness from your lordship. I fear I have only disturbed your pleasant party by my unskillful dancing."

"No, no," answered the big demon. "You must come often and dance for us. Your skill has given us much pleasure."

The old man thanked him again and promised to do so.

"Then will you come again to-morrow, old man?" asked the demon.

"Certainly, I will," answered the old man.

"Then you must leave some pledge of your word with us," said the demon.

"Whatever you like," said the old man.

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