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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Mallet"

The Mallet

He lifted a mossy stone quite close to Kanè’s head. Underneath was a plain little mallet of white wood. The boy took it up and went and stood within the circle of children. He laughed and cried, “Now what will you have?”

“A kite, a kite,” calls out one of the children.

The boy shakes the mallet, and lo and behold he shakes a kite out of it!—a great kite with a tail to it, and a good ball of twine as well.

“Now what else?” asks the boy.

“Battledore and shuttlecock for me,” says a little girl.

And sure enough there they are, a battledore of the best, and twenty shuttlecocks, meetly feathered and gilded.

“Now what else?” says the boy.

“A lot of sweets.”

“Greedy!” says the boy, but he shakes the mallet, and there are the sweets.

“A red crêpe frock and a brocade obi.”

“Miss Vanity!” says the boy, but he shakes all this gravely out of the mallet.

“Books, story books.”

“That’s better,” says the boy, and out come the books by the dozen and score, all open to show the lovely pictures.

Now, when the children had their hearts’ desires, the leader put away the mallet beneath its mossy stone, and after they had played for some time they became tired; their bright attires melted away into the gloom of the wood, and their pretty voices grew distant and then were heard no more. It was very still.

Kanè awoke, good man, and found the sun set and darkness beginning to fall. There was the mossy stone right under his hand. He lifted it, and there was the mallet.

“Now,” said Kanè, taking it up, “begging the pardon of the fairies’ children, I’ll make bold to borrow that mallet.” So he took it home in his sleeve and spent a pleasant evening shaking gold pieces out of it, and saké, and new clothes, and farmers’ tools, and musical instruments, and who knows what all!

It is not hard to believe that pretty soon he became the richest and jolliest farmer in all that country-side. Sleek and fat he grew, and his heart was bigger and kinder than ever.

But what like was Cho’s heart when he got wind of all this?

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