Monday, January 12, 2009

The Town Mouse and the Field Mouse

A mouse living in the town one day met a mouse which lived in the field. "Where do you come from?" asked the latter when she saw the town mouse.

"I come from yonder town," replied the first mouse.

"How is life going there with you?"

"Very well, indeed. I am living in the lap of luxury. Whatever I want of sweets or any other good things is to be found in abundance in my master's house. But how are you living?"

"I have nothing to complain of. You just come and see my stores. I have grain and nuts, and all the fruits of the tree and field in my storehouse."

The town mouse did not quite believe the story of her new friend, and, driven by curiosity, went with her to the latter's house. How great was her surprise when she found that the field mouse had spoken the truth; her garner was full of nuts and grain and other stores, and her mouth watered when she saw all the riches which were stored up there.

Then she turned to the field mouse and said, "Oh, yes, you have here a nice snug place and something to live upon, but you should come to my house and see what I have there. Your stock is as nothing compared with the riches which are mine."

The field mouse, who was rather simple by nature and trusted her new friend, went with her into the town to see what better things the other could have. She had never been into the town and did not know what her friend could mean when she boasted of her greater riches. So they went together, and the town mouse took her friend to her master's house. He was a grocer, and there were boxes and sacks full of every good thing the heart of a mouse could desire. When she saw all these riches, the field mouse said she could never have believed it, had she not seen it with her own eyes.

While they were talking together, who should come in but the cat. As soon as the town mouse saw the cat, she slipped quietly behind a box and hid herself. Her friend, who had never yet seen a cat, turned to her and asked her who that gentleman was who had come in so quietly.

"Do you not know who he is? Why, he is our priest, and he has come to see me. You must go and pay your respects to him and kiss his hand. See what a beautiful glossy coat he has on, and how his eyes sparkle, and how demurely he keeps his hands in the sleeves of his coat."

Not suspecting anything, the field mouse did as she was told and went up to the cat. He gave her at once his blessing, and the mouse had no need of another after that. The cat gave her extreme unction there and then. That was just what the town mouse had intended. When she saw how well stored the home of the field mouse was, she made up her mind to trap her and to kill her, so that she might take possession of all that the field mouse had gathered up. She had learned the ways of the townspeople and had acted accordingly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Fox and the Little Prince

Le Petite Prince, there was a very important story that the little prince told the aviator. The Little Prince was a child from another very small planet, and when he was bored, sad, or tired of his red rose bossing him around...he would hop on comets and visit other planets. Each planet had a differnt person on it that confused him: greedy, selfish, angry, skinflints or non-imaginative grown ups. The main thread that runs in the entire story and why the Little Prince continues to love and explore is taught to him by NOT a human or a plant, but a red fox. The Little Prince was in a French countryside, and wandered through a feild. He hadn't seen anyone for miles, and the last person he talked to was a grown up that told him to go away, since he was so busy. So the Little Prince is all alone in this meadow, in the middle of noplace, lonely, bored, and sad. All of a sudden, a small tuft of gold and red fur peaks up behind the grass mounds, and the Little Prince asks the air...."Who's there?"

A very reluctant fox peaks his head up better for the Prince to see him. Of course, the The Little Prince never saw a fox, and was curious. "What are you? You're Pretty to look at." The Fox is puzzled, and asks the boy: "You don't know what I am? You're not sent by the farmer to trick me?" The Little Prince looks confused now, and shakes his head. The fox continues: "I'm a Fox. Who are you?" The Fox maintains his distance....not going close to the Little Prince at all. The Prince tells the fox who he is, and where he is from; a small planet very very far away. The fox looks at him as if he just told him an ordinary fact. The Fox asks: "are there any farmers where you live?" the Prince says no. The Fox asks: "are there any guns?" The Prince says no,"Just me, my little plants, my small volcanoes, and my Red Rose under glass." The fox smiles, and says: "That sounds perfect. Are there any chickens?" The Prince says no. The fox says: "Well, no place is perfect then." The Little Prince get restless, and asks if he can pet the fox. The fox tells him no. "I can't be petted or played with, and you can never be more than an aquaintance."

Sad, but not discouraged, the Little Prince asks the fox why, because he's lonely, and hasn't had anyone to talk with or play with him in ages.

The Fox shakes his head, and says: "I'm not tame. I can't trust anyone, and all I care about right now is hunting chickens, so I don't have time to be tamed."

The Little Prince asks what "tame" means. The Fox smiles, and explains:" It takes a very long time. It can't be done in minutes. You'd have to invest a lot of your free time, and sacrifice your own wishes to succed. You need to show you're trustworthy and special. "

The Little Prince doesn't understand. He asks, " What do you mean special? What do you mean time, and trustworthy?"

The Fox continues: "It means, you have to make a promise. And keep it everyday. It's a sacrifice, but I suppose hunting chickens will bore me soon, and you have free time to spare, so...I'll let you tame me. You must come here, to this meadow everyday at the same time. Sit at the edge of that feild at that same time, in the same spot. I will stay here, in my spot everyday, at the same time. Soon, I will come closer. But you will stay in your spot, and will not move. One day, I'll be right in front of you. Then, perhaps the next day after that, I will talk with you. And everyday after that we will talk. Then, I will let you pet me. day...I will play with you."

The Little Prince shakes his head. "Why would it take so long? I'm lonely now."

The Fox answers, "You won't understand now. But if you keep your promise, and show up here everyday, and sit there at the same time everday, I will one day have something to look foward to, as will you."

The Little Prince reluctantly agrees, having nothing else to do, and being curious just the same. The next day, he comes to the feild and sits in a spot. The Fox shows up a little later, sitting far at the other end of the meadow, by he trees hidden from the The Little Prince's gaze.

This continues for a week, then 2, finally after about a month or so, the Little Prince and the Fox are playing, and good freinds. They talk about everything and nothing...they run around and play tag and other games...The Little Prince tells the Fox about his Red Rose on his tiny planet; he reveals how she is cruel to him, snobby, and selfish. She only opens her petals for him, and depsite how rude she is sometimes, he still has to take care of her, and he still is overjoyed when he is by her.He then tells of his anger when he realzied she lied to him. She told him she was the only rose of her kind, that no other flower was as beautiful as her. But he saw a whole garden filled with red roses JUSt like her! He was hurt, and knows how sad she'll be to know she's not special at all. The Fox listens to all of this, and everyday, when their visit is over, he leaves to his den. weeks pass...

The next time they meet, The Fox tells the Little Prince he can no longer come to the field and see him anymore.
The Little Prince is frantic, afraid he said something to hurt the fox's feelings.

The Fox shakes his head. "There is no use to cry...or beg me to stay. You've tamed me, and now I have to return to the wild again. I won't ever be the same again, because out of all the humans, you have treated me the kindest. I promised you I would tell you why we had to take so long to tame me...Men have forgotten that 'what is essential to life, cannot be observed by the eye. ' Only what we feel in our hearts is what lasts, what's real. By taming me, you made this time special to me, on what would ordinarliy be just another day, or you--just another human. You are now special to me, the way your Rose is special to you. No one can understand this, because over all the humans in the world, you are the only one I befreinded, the only one I will remember. Now, everyday at the same time I will think of you. And everyday at the same time, you will think about me. Never let anyone tell you your rose is ordinary, for only she has tamed you, and only you are special to her, thus, she is unique to your heart."

The Little Prince cried and cried, not wanting to part with his new freind. He asked, "What is the meaning of making friends that you tame if you lose them?"

The Fox replied one last time, "It will always matter to me. Remember, 'what is essential in life cannot by observed by the eye.' " And then, the fox smiled, then ran off into the forest again, this time, not to return....
And the Little Prince left the feild sadly...and for a few days, he returned, looking to see if teh Fox would be there again by chance. Finally, he moves on to the next place...and comes to the same garden of roses he found that day...

He stands defiantley at them all: "All of you are useless, ugly, and ordinary! My rose is the most beautiful and unique flower in the universe, and she is specail to me, and I to her...!"

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Fox In The Brothel

In a time of our honorable forefathers, there dwelt in a mean mountain village of Settsu Province a poor faggot-cutter who followed the way of Lord Buddha, taking no animal life fore the solace of his belly and praying as a devout man should for the eternal welfare of his spirit.

One day in a ravine he came upon a vixen, caught by the paw in a trapper's snare, which with many a moan and with tears running down her muzzle para-para seemed to beseech him for succor, so that in pity he would have released her. But being minded to rob no honest man, he trudged a long ri down the mountain to his hut, and taking from a hiding place in the thatch a piece of silver, the fruit of weeks of toil, he returned to the ravine and set the vixen free, and wrapped the silver piece in a bit of cotton cloth, he tied it to the snare and went his way. The vixen, when he released her, fled not, but as thought understanding his heart, fawned upon his feet and licked his hands and followed him limping tobo-tobo to the mouth of the ravine, where she gave three sharp barks and sprang into the thicket.

Now on the third evening thereafter, as the man squatted in the mouth of his hut resting from the sweaty labor of the day, on a sudden there appeared before him a damsel, clad in a brown-silk robe, who called to him, and he, seeing her rare beauty and thinking her some great lady strayed from her cavalcade, prostrated himself before her and begged her pleasure. Said she: "Abase not thyself. I am the fox which thy humanity set free the other night from the snare, and whose life thou didst purchase with thy silver piece. I have take this form in order to requite thy favor as I may, and I will serve thee with fealty so long as thou dost live." At which he cried: "Esteemed mistress of magic! Not for my unparalleled worthlessness is thy high condescension! I am eight times rewarded by this thy visit. I am but a beggarly forester and thou a repository of all beauty. I pray thee, make not sport of my low condition." The said she: "Thou art a poor man. Suffer me at least to set thee on the way to wealth." Asked he: "How may that be done?" She replied: "Tomorrow morning don thy best rob and thy stoutest sandals and come to the mouth of the ravine where thou didst rescue me. There thou shalt see me in my true form. Follow whither I lead and good fortune shall be thine. This I promise on the word of a fox." At that he prostrated himself before the damsel in gratitude, and when he lifted himself she had vanished.

Next morning, when he came to the ravine, he found awaiting him the vixen, who barked thrice and turning, trotted before him, leading him by paths he knew not across the mountain. So they proceeded, she disappearing in the thicket whenever a chance traveler came in view, and he satisfying his hunger with fruits and berries and slaking his thirst from the rivulets, and at night sleeping under the starts. Thus the reaches of the sun wound up the days till on fourth noontide they descended into a vale where lay a city. At sundown they came to a grove hard by the city's outer barrier where was a shrine to the fox deity, Inari. Before this the vixen barked thrice, and bounded through its door. And presently the woodsman beheld the damsel issuing therefrom, robed now in rich garments and beauteous as a lover's dream leaping from the golden heart of a plum blossom.

Said she: "Take me now - who am they daughter - to the richest brothel in yonder city, and sell me to it's master for a goodly price." He answered: "Barter thee, to the red-hell hands of a conscienceless virgin-buyer? Never!" Then, with a laugh like the silver potari of a fountain, she said: "Nay, but they soul shall be blameless. So soon as thou hast closed the bargain and departed, I shall take on my fox shape in the garden and get me gone, and thus the reward shall be thine and evil intent shall receive its just deserts."

So, as she bad him, he entered the city with her and inquiring the way to the quarter of houses of public women, came to it's most splendid rendezvous, which was patronized only by brazen spendthrifts and purse-proud princes, where all night the painted drums went don-a-don and the samisen were never silent, and whose satiny corridors lisped with the shu-shu of the velvet foot-palms of scarlet-lipped courtesans. So great was the damsel's beauty that a crowd trooped after them, and the master of the house, when he saw her, felt his back teeth itch with pleasure. The faggot-cutter told him his tale, as he had been prompted, averring that he was a man whose life had fallen on gloomy ways so that he who had been a man of substance was now constrained to sell his only daughter to bondage. At which the proprietor, his mouth watering at her loveliness and bethinking him of his wealthy clientele, thrust ink-brush into his fist and planked before him a bill-of-agreement providing for her three years' service for a sum of thirty gold ryo paid that hour into his hand.

The woodsman would joyfully have signed, but the damsel put forth her hand and stopped him saying: "Nay, my august father! I joyfully obey thy will in this as in all else, yet I pray thee bring not reproach upon our unsullied house by esteeming me of so little value." And, to the master of the place she said: "Methinks thou saidst sixty ryo." He answered: "Were I to give a rin more than forty, I were robbing my children." Said she: "The perfume I used in our brighter days cost me ten each month. Sixty!" Cried he: "A thousand curses upon my beggarly poverty, which constraineth me. Have mercy and take fifty!" At this she rose, saying: "Honorable parent, there is a house in a nearby street frequented, I hear, by a certain prince who may deem me not unattractive. Let us go thither, for this place seemeth of lesser standing and reputation than we had heard." But the master ran and barred the door and, although groaning like an ox before the knacker, flung down the sixty gold ryo, and the woodsman set his name to the bill-of-agreement and farewelled her and went home rejoicing with the money.

Then the master, glad at the capture of such a peerless pearl of maidenhood, gave her into the care of his tire-woman to be robed in brocades and jewels, and set her on a balcony, where her beauty shone so dazzling that the halted palanquins made the street impassable, and the proprietor of the establishment across the way all but slit his throat in sheer envy. Moreover, the son of the daimyo of the province, hearing of the newcome marvel, sent to the place a gift of gold, requesting her presence at a feast he was to give there that same evening.

Now this feast was held in an upper room overhanging the river, and among the damsels who attended the noble guests, the fox-woman was as the moon to a horde of broken paper lanterns, so that the princely host could not unhook his eyes from her and each and every of his guests gave black looks to whoever touched her sleeve. As the sake cup took its round, she turned her softest smile now to this one and now to that, beckoning to each to folly till his blood bubbled butsu-butsu with passion and all were balanced on the thin knife-edge of a quarrel.

Suddenly, then, the lights in the apartment flickered out and there was confusion, in the midst of which the damsel cried out in a loud voice: "O my Prince! One of thy guests hath fumbled me! Make a light quickly and thou shalt know this false friend, for he is the one whose hat-tassel I have torn off." But cried the Prince (for he was true-hearted and of generous mind): "Nay, do each one of you, my comrades, tear off his hat-tassel and put it on his sleeve. For we have all drunk overmuch, and ignorance is sometimes better than knowledge." Then after a moment he clapped his hands, and lights were brought, lo, there was no hat left with a tassel upon it. At this, one of the young blades, laughing at the success of the artifice, began to sing the ancient song which saith:

The hat thou lovedst,
Reed-wove, tricked out with damask,
Ah me, hath blown away,
Into the Kamo River-
Blown amidst the current.
While I wandered seeking it,
While I wandered searching it,
Day-dawn cam, day-dawn came!
Ah, the sawa-sawa
Of that rustling night of autumn,
There by the water,
The spread-out, rustling water!

But the damsel, crying that with the affront unavenged she would not choose longer to live, ran into the next chamber and, stripping of her clothes, cast them from the window into the swift current, while she herself, taking on her fox form, leaped down and hid in a burrow under the riverbank. So the party of the Prince rushed in and, finding the window wide and her vanished and seeing the splendid robe borne away by the rushing water, deeming that she had indeed drowned herself, made outcry, and the master of the house plucked out his eyebrows, and his folk and the gallants put forth in many a boat, searching for her fair body all that night, but naught did they discover save only her loincloth.

Now on the fourth evening after that, as the faggot-cutter sat in his doorway, the damsel appeared before him, robed in a kimono of pine-and-bamboo pattern, with an obi of jeweled dragonflies tangled in a purple mist. Asked she: "Have I kept my fox-word?" He answered. "Aye, eight times over. This morning I purchased a plot of rich rice land, and tomorrow the builders, with what remaineth, begin to erect my mansion." Said she then: "Thou art no faggot-cutter henceforth, but a man of substance. Look upon me. Wouldst thou not have me to wife?" But he, seeing how her carriage was as graceful as the swaying of a willow branch, her flawless skin the texture of a magnolia petal, her eyebrows like sable rainbows, and her hair glossy as a sun-tinted crow's wing, and knowing himself for an untutored hind, knelt in abasement before her and said: "Nay, wise one! Doth the smutty raven mate with the snow-white heron?" Then she said, smiling: "Do my bidding once again. Tomorrow return to the city and to the brothel where thou didst leave me, and offer, as the bargain provided, to buy me back. Since the master of the house cannot produce me, he must need pay over to thee damage money, and see that thou accept not less than two hundred gold ryo." So saying, she became a fox and vanished in the bushes.

So next morning he took his purse and crammed it with copper pieces and betook himself across the mountain, and on the third day he arrived at the city. There he hastened to the brothel and demanded its master, to whom he said, jingling the purse beneath his nose: "Good fortune is mine. For, returning to my village three days since to pay my obligations with thy sixty ryo, I found that my elder brother had died suddenly in the next province, leaving to me (since he was without issue) all his wide estates. So I am come to redeem my beloved daughter and to return thee thy gold plus the legal interest."

At that the master of the house felt his liver shrink and sought to put him off with all kinds of excuses, but the woodsman insisted the more, so that the other at length had no choice but to tell him that the girl had drowned herself. When he heard this the woodsman's lamentations filled all the place, and he beat his head upon the mats hata-to, crying out that naught but ill treatment had driven her to such a course, and swearing to denounce the proprietor to the magistrates for a bloody murderer, till from dread to see his establishment sunk in evil repute, the man ran to his strongbox and sought to offer the breaved one golden solace. Thus, with two hundred more ryo in gold (for mindful of the maiden's rede, he would take no less) the woodsman returned to his village, with an armed guard of ten men for an escort, where he rented a stout godown for the money's safekeeping.

The night of his return, as he sat on his doorstep, thanking all the deities for his good luck, the fox-maiden again appeared before him, this time clad only in the soft moon-whiteness of her adorable body, so that he turned away his face from the sight of it. Asked she: "Have I kept my fox-word?" And he answered, stammering: "Eight hundred times! Today I am the richest man in these parts." Said she: "Look upon me. Wouldst thou not posses me as thy concubine?" Then, peeping despite himself betwixt his fingers, he beheld the clear and lovely luster of her satiny skin, her breasts like twin snow-hillocks, her bending waist, and the sweet hidden curves of her thighs, and all his senses clamored like bells, so that he covered his eyes with his sleeve. And said he: "O generous bestower! Forgive the unspeakable meanness of this degraded nonentity. My descendants to the tenth generation shall burn richest incense before the golden shrine which I shall presently erect to thee. But I am a man and thou art a fox, with whom I may not knowingly consort without deadly sin!"

Then suddenly he saw a radiance of the five colors shine rainbow-like around her, and she cried out in a voice of exceeding great joy, saying: "Blessing and benison upon thee, O incorruptible one! As a fox I have dwelt upon the earth for five hundred years, and never before have I found among humankind one whose merit had the power to set me free. Know that by the virtue of thy purity I may now quit this animal road for that of humankind." Then she vanished, and he built a shrine to her in the mouth of the mountain ravine, and it is told that his children's grandchildren worship before it to this day.