Japanese Tales : The Tongue-cut Sparrow
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The Tongue-cut Sparrow

Once upon a time there was an old man and woman. Everyday the old man went to the mountains to cut firewood. There, he hung the lunch his wife had cooked for him on the branch of a tree. One day when he opened his lunch box he was surprised. After he unfolded the cloth that wrapped the lunch-box, he found a sparrow sleeping in it. The lunch had disappeared as the sparrow had eaten it up. Since the sparrow was so cute, the old man took it with him when he went home.

Soon the old man and the sparrow became best friends. At work and even during meals the sparrow would fly around him or sit on his shoulder. The old man was fond of his sparrow and named it "Birdie". They were always playing together. One day, the old man went to work leaving Birdie at home. His wife had prepared some starch and then had gone to the river to wash clothes. Birdie was fond of starch and licked some of it. The bird knew that the old woman would get angry. But the starch was so good that the sparrow could not resist licking it all up and left the plate empty.

When the old woman came back from the river and saw that all the precious starch she had prepared had disappeared, she got mad and cried, "Who has eaten all the starch?" Then she looked at the sparrow. As it's beak was sticky with starch, the old woman understood that it was Birdie who did it. She shouted, "Oh, you wicked sparrow!" Then she caught the bird and cut it's tongue with a pair of scissors. Next she threw it out of the house and the poor sparrow flew away.
In the afternoon the old man came back from work. He called and whistled for Birdie, but the bird did not come to him. Then he asked his wife, "Where is my bird? Have you seen Birdie?"
"It ate up all the precious starch I had prepared, so I cut it's tongue and threw the bird away." she answered.
The old man was very sad and said, "You're cruel." Then he went to look for his beloved sparrow.

¥Õ¥é¥ó¥¹¸ì,French,Francais ÆüËܸì, Japanese, Japonais

The old man walked until he reached a river where a cowherd was washing his cow. "Cowherd, have you seen a tongue-cut sparrow?" asked the old man.
"Oh, I saw your sparrow. But if you don't drink seven buckets of the water with which I washed my cow, I won't tell you where it went," answered the cowherd. The old man forced himself to drink the seven buckets and then the cowherd told him, "Go straight on this way, and ask the stable boy you will meet". The old man continued walking and met the stable boy who was washing his horse.
"Stable boy, have you seen the tongue-cut sparrow?" he asked.
"Oh, I saw your sparrow. But if you don't drink seven buckets of the water with which I washed my horse, I won't tell you where it went," answered the stable boy. The old man forced himself to drink the seven buckets and then the stable boy told him, "Go up this mountain and you'll find the bamboo thicket were your sparrow is living." So he walked up to the bamboo thicket and found the house of his beloved sparrow.

"Birdie, my wife has been cruel to you. I came to apologize", said the old man.
The sparrow was delighted to meet her friend again. She invited him to stay a while and offered him a good meal. The two of them were happy and talked a lot. The old man wanted the sparrow to go back home with him, but the bird said, "I won't go with you, I don't want to meet your wife again.
The old man was sad about it but he understood Birdie's feelings. When the time came for him to go back home, the sparrow brought two trunks: a big one and a small one. Birdie said, "This is a present for you. Please choose the trunk you like."
"As I am an old man, the small one is better" said the old man, and putting the trunk on his back he went back home.
There, he and his wife opened the trunk and were astonished. It was full of gold and jewels! What treasure! The old man told his wife about his journey and she got angry at him, "Why didn't you choose the big one? I'm going to get it!"

¥Õ¥é¥ó¥¹¸ì,French,Francais ÆüËܸì, Japanese, Japonais

The old woman walked the way her husband had told her and reached the spot where the cowherd was washing his cow. "Cowherd, have you seen the tongue-cut sparrow?" she asked.
"Oh, I saw your sparrow. But if you don't drink seven buckets of the water with which I washed my cow, I won't tell you where it went." answered the cowherd.
Then the old woman got angry and said, "Oh, I won't drink this dirty water of yours. I know which way to go. I can manage without you!" and walked until she met the stable boy. She said the same to the stable boy and the old woman continued to the sparrow's place without drinking any buckets of water.

There, the sparrow asked her, "Why did you come?"
The old woman answered, "I've always been looking after you, and I wanted to meet you one more time." The sparrow offered the old woman a meal, but she said, "Oh, I haven't got very much time, give me my present and I'll go back home."
So the bird brought out two trunks, a big one and a small one, and said "Choose the one you like."
"I'm not so old and am still in good shape, give me the big one", said the old woman and went away with the heavy trunk on her back. She walked for a time and got tired. While having a rest she thought about the treasure that would be in the trunk and wanted to see it. The sparrow told her not to open it before being home, but she could not wait and opened it. Snakes, scorpions and lots of scary animals and monsters came out of the trunk and the old woman died from fear.

Translated and adapted by Myriam Dartois


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