The Wonderful Mallet, An Oriental
Once upon a time there were two brothers. The
elder was an honest and good man, but he was
very poor, while the younger, who was dishonest
and stingy, had managed to pile up a large fortune.
The name of the elder was Kané, and that
of the younger was Chô.
Now, one day Kané went to Chô’s house, and
begged for the loan of some seed-rice and some
silkworms’ eggs, for last season had been unfortunate,
and he was in want of both.
Chô had plenty of good rice and excellent silkworms’
eggs, but he was such a miser that he did
not want to lend them. At the same time, he felt
ashamed to refuse his brother’s request, so he
gave him some worm-eaten musty rice and some
dead eggs, which he felt sure would never hatch.
Kané, never suspecting that his brother would
play him such a shabby trick, put plenty of mulberry
leaves with the eggs, to be food for the silkworms
when they should appear. Appear they
did, and throve and grew wonderfully, much better
than those of the stingy brother, who was
angry and jealous when he heard of it.
Going to Kané’s house one day, and finding his
brother was out, Chô took a knife and killed all
the silkworms, cutting each poor little creature in
two; then he went home without having been
seen by anybody.
When Kané came home he was dismayed to
find his silkworms in this state, but he did not
suspect who had done him this bad trick, and
tried to feed them with mulberry leaves as before.
The silkworms came to life again, and
doubled the number, for now each half was a living
worm. They grew and throve, and the silk
they spun was twice as much as Kané had expected.
So now he began to prosper.
The envious Chô, seeing this, cut all his own
silkworms in half, but, alas! they did not come to
life again, so he lost a great deal of money, and
became more jealous than ever.
Kané also planted the rice-seed which he had
borrowed from his brother, and it sprang up, and
grew and flourished far better than Chô’s had
The rice ripened well, and he was just intending
to cut and harvest it when a flight of thousands
upon thousands of swallows came and began
to devour it. Kané was much astonished, and
shouted and made as much noise as he could in
order to drive them away. They flew away, indeed,
but came back immediately, so that he kept
driving them away, and they kept flying back
At last he pursued them into a distant field,
where he lost sight of them. He was by this
time so hot and tired that he sat down to rest.
By little and little his eyes closed, his head
dropped upon a mossy bank, and he fell fast
Then he dreamed that a merry band of children
came into the field, laughing and shouting.
They sat down upon the ground in a ring, and
one who seemed the eldest, a boy of fourteen or
fifteen, came close to the bank on which he lay
asleep, and, raising a big stone near his head,
drew from under it a small wooden Mallet.
Then in his dream Kané saw this big boy stand
in the middle of the ring with the Mallet in his
hand, and ask the children each in turn, “What
would you like the Mallet to bring you?” The
first child answered, “A kite.” The big boy shook
the Mallet, upon which appeared immediately a
fine kite with tail and string all complete. The
next cried, “A battledore.” Out sprang a splendid
battledore and a shower of shuttlecocks.
Then a little girl shyly whispered, “A doll.” The
Mallet was shaken, and there stood a beautifully
dressed doll. “I should like all the fairy-tale
books that have ever been written in the whole
world,” said a bright-eyed intelligent maiden, and
no sooner had she spoken than piles upon piles
of beautiful books appeared. And so at last the
wishes of all the children were granted, and they
stayed a long time in the field with the things the
Mallet had given them. At last they got tired,
and prepared to go home; the big boy first carefully
hiding the Mallet under the stone from
whence he had taken it. Then all the children
Presently Kané awoke, and gradually remembered
his dream. In preparing to rise he turned
round, and there, close to where his head had
lain, was the big stone he had seen in his dream.
“How strange!” he thought, expecting he hardly
knew what; he raised the stone, and there lay the
He took it home with him, and, following the
example of the children he had seen in his dream,
shook it, at the same time calling out, “Gold” or
“Rice,” “Silk” or “Saké.” Whatever he called
for flew immediately out of the Mallet, so that he
could have everything he wanted, and as much of
it as he liked.
Kané being now a rich and prosperous man,
Chô was of course jealous of him, and determined
to find a magic mallet which would do as
much for him. He came, therefore, to Kané and
borrowed seed-rice, which he planted and tended
with care, being impatient for it to grow and
It grew well and ripened soon, and now Chô
watched daily for the swallows to appear. And,
to be sure, one day a flight of swallows came and
began to eat up the rice.
Chô was delighted at this, and drove them
away, pursuing them to the distant field where
Kané had followed them before. There he lay
down, intending to go to sleep as his brother had
done, but the more he tried to go to sleep the
wider awake he seemed.
Presently the band of children came skipping
and jumping, so he shut his eyes and pretended to
be asleep, but all the time watched anxiously what
the children would do. They sat down in a ring,
as before, and the big boy came close to Chô’s
head and lifted the stone. He put down his hand
to lift the Mallet, but no mallet was there.
One of the children said, “Perhaps that lazy
old farmer has taken our Mallet.” So the big
boy laid hold of Chô’s nose, which was rather
long, and gave it a good pinch, and all the other
children ran up and pinched and pulled his nose,
and the nose itself got longer and longer; first it
hung down to his chin, then over his chest, next
down to his knees, and at last to his very feet.
It was in vain that Chô protested his innocence;
the children pinched and pummeled him to
their hearts’ content, then capered round him,
shouting and laughing, and making game of him,
and so at last went away.
Now Chô was left alone, a sad and angry man.
Holding his long nose painfully in both hands, he
slowly took his way toward his brother Kané’s
house. Here he related all that had happened to
him from the very day when he had behaved so
badly about the seed-rice and silkworms’ eggs.
He humbly begged his brother to pardon him,
and, if possible, do something to restore his unfortunate
nose to its proper size.
The kind-hearted Kané pitied him, and said:
“You have been dishonest and mean, and selfish
and envious, and that is why you have got this
punishment. If you promise to behave better for
the future, I will try what can be done.”
So saying, he took the Mallet and rubbed Chô’s
nose with it gently, and the nose gradually became
shorter and shorter until at last it came back
to its proper shape and size. But ever after, if
at any time Chô felt inclined to be selfish and dishonest,
as he did now and then, his nose began to
smart and burn, and he fancied he felt it beginning
to grow. So great was his terror of having
a long nose again that these symptoms
never failed to bring him back to his good behavior.