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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Mallet"

The Mallet

After this Kanè sowed the rice seed that he had from his brother, and when the young rice came up as green as you please he planted it out with care, and it flourished wonderfully, and soon the rice was formed in the ear.

One day an immense flight of swallows came and settled on Kanè’s rice-field.

“Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted. He clapped his hands and beat about with a bamboo stick. So the swallows flew away. In two minutes back they came.

“Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted, and he clapped his hands and beat about with his bamboo stick. So the swallows flew away. In two minutes back they came.

“Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted. He clapped his hands and beat about with his bamboo stick. So the swallows flew away. In two minutes back they came.

When he had scared them away for the ninth time, Kanè takes his tenegui and wipes his face. “This grows into a habit,” he says. But in two minutes back came the swallows for the tenth time. “Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted, and he chased them over hill and dale, hedge and ditch, rice-field and mulberry-field, till at last they flew away from his sight, and he found himself in a mossy dell shaded by spreading pine trees. Being very tired with running he lies down his full length upon the moss, and presently falls fast asleep and snoring.

The next thing was that he dreamed. He thought he saw a troop of children come to the mossy glade, for in his dream he remembered very well where he was. The children fluttered here and there among the pine-trees’ trunks. They were as pretty as flowers or butterflies. One and all of them had dancing bare feet; their hair hung down, long, loose and black; their skins were white like the plum blossom.

“For good or for evil,” says Kanè to himself, “I have seen the fairies’ children.”

The children made an end of their dancing, and sat them upon the ground in a ring. “Leader! Leader!” they cried. “Fetch us the mallet.” Then there rose up a beautiful boy, about fourteen or fifteen years old, the eldest and the tallest there.

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