When Cho heard of this he goes and chops his own silk-worms in two with a sharp knife; but he gained nothing by that, for the silk-worms never moved again, but stayed as dead as dead, and his wife had to throw them away next morning.
After this Kane 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 Kane's rice-field.
"Arah! Arah!" Kane 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!" Kane 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!" Kane 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, Kane 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!" Kane 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 Kane 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. He lifted a mossy stone quite close to Kane'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 crepe 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.
Kane 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 Kane, 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 sake, 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? Ay, there's the question. Cho turned green with envy, as green as grass. "I'll have a fairy mallet, too," he says, "and be rich for nothing. Why should that idiot spendthrift Kane have all the good fortune?" So he goes and begs rice from his brother, which his brother gives him very willingly, a good sackful. And he waits for it to ripen, quite wild with impatience. It ripens sure enough, and sure enough a flight of swallows comes and settles upon the good grain in the ear.
"Arah! Arah!" shouted Cho, clapping his hands and laughing aloud for joy. The swallows flew away, and Cho was after them. 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. Cho looks about him.
"This should be the place," says he. So he lies down and waits with one wily eye shut and one wily eye open.
Presently who should trip into the dell but the fairies' children! Very fresh they were as they moved among the pine-tree trunks.
"Leader! Leader! Fetch us the mallet," they cried. Up stepped the leader and lifted away the mossy stone. And behold there was no mallet there!
Now the fairies' children became very angry. They stamped their little feet, and cried and rushed wildly to and fro, and were beside themselves altogether because the mallet was gone.
"See," cried the leader at last, "see this ugly old farmer man; he must have taken our mallet. Let us pull his nose for him."
With a shrill scream the fairies' children set upon Cho. They pinched him, and pulled him, and buffeted him, and set their sharp teeth in his flesh till he yelled in agony. Worst of all, they laid hold of his nose and pulled it. Long it grew, and longer. It reached his waist. It reached his feet.
Lord, how they laughed, the fairies' children ! Then they scampered away like fallen leaves before the wind.
Cho sighed, and he groaned, and he cursed, and he swore, but for all that his nose was not an inch shorter. So, sad and sorry, he gathered it up in his two hands and went to Kane's house.
"Kane, I am very sick," says he.
"Indeed, so I see," says Kane, "a terrible sickness; and how did you catch it?" he says. And so kind he was that he never laughed at Cho's nose, nor yet he never smiled, but there were tears in his eyes at his brother's misfortunes. Then Cho's heart melted and he told his brother all the tale, and he never kept back how mean he had been about the dead silk-worms' eggs, and about the other things that have been told of. And he asked Kane to forgive him and to help him.
"Wait you still a minute," says Kane.
He goes to his chest, and he brings out the mallet. And he rubs it very gently up and down Cho's long nose, and sure enough it shortened up very quickly. In two minutes it was a natural size. Cho danced for joy.
Kane looks at him and says, "If I were you, I'd just go home and try to be different."
When Cho had gone, Kane sat still and thought for a long time. When the moon rose that night he went out and took the mallet with him. He came to the mossy dell that was shaded with spreading pine trees, and he laid the mallet in its old place under the stone.
"I'm the last man in the world," he said, "to be unfriendly to the fairies' children."