Miss Aki was a young seventeen year old girl. His parents had spoiled her. Like all young girls who are spoiled by their parents, she was vain, capricious and mean. She had a very bad thing. Aki was a thief. She stole everywhere, every time, and everything. And, curiously enough, it was not ever take. The hussy was a rare skill.
One morning, she took a basket, filled with fish, and leaves the house without saying anything. His parents giving her unfortunately freedom to follow his whims, and never informed of his whereabouts, let her out without even asking her where she goes with this basket.
Aki runs a moment the street, turns right, crosses a long square, puts on a wide avenue and arrives before a house with bourgeois appearance . This is where remains the very honorable and distinguished Minister Sanjo.
The girl enters through the gate, through the court, as a veteran of the house, turns left and heads for the kitchen. Ms. Osandon, the dignified and plump cook of Mr. Minister, is preparing the lunch of his master.
– Good morning, Madam Osandon, Aki said, saluting, I am the daughter of Mr. Takeyoshi the silk merchant who lives in the Hongo street. Last night your master gave my father an important service. And my father sent me to thank on his behalf until he presents himself. He asked me to give to the minister this basket of fish. Even though this is a small thing, please ask your teacher to accept it as a small token of our appreciation.
The good cook has no reason to doubt the sincerity of this young girl. It accepts the basket, and goes to find the minister who was his toilet, and repeated to him the words of Aki.
The Minister, after listening, thought for a moment, then replied:
– I do not know anyone named Takeyoshi; I do not know if there is a silk merchant of that name in Hongo street; I have no recollection of having made yesterday any service to anyone. The thing would have been difficult for me, since I have not been out all day yesterday. There was an error; this girl is wrong address; postpones him his basket.
While standing that bit of conversation in the Minister’s room, Ms. Aki, left alone in the kitchen, had cast a glance at the shelves; she saw a small cup of value, and very gently, had slipped into the depths of his sleeve. But, that being outside of the program, having arrived by chance only, we do not stop there and continue.
Ms. Osandon therefore descends to the kitchen and returns the basket to the girl, relating her the words of his master.
– It’s funny! Aki replied, taking the basket… And yet it is here! … Have I heard wrong? … I’m so stupid! … I’m going to go home and ask my father again. Would you be kind enough to allow me to deposit my basket here? I will return in all cases to take it.
– There is no problem, Miss.
Aki therefore move his basket in the corner of the kitchen; Then, bowing deeply Ms. Osandon, she took the path by which she came.
You may be wondering why the the cunning girl left his basket? Why? I’ll give you a thousand. No need to rack your brains. You will not guess. But you will understand just now, and you can not help thinking: what little hussy!
First, it does not return home, naturally. Here she goes Avenue, puts Sakanacho Street and stops in front of a watchmaker shop.
– Sorry! she said on entering. I come from Ms. Sanjo, the minister’s wife. Do you have beautiful gold watches?
– But well, Miss. Do you want a large or small one?
– Here You Go. My teacher would want to see some different dimensions to be able to choose. She is very tired today and can not leave the room. It should however watch him tonight. Do not you want to entrust some of your apprentice, and ask him to accompany me to my mistress?
– I do not have the habit of entrusting watches my apprentice. But if you do not mind, I can accompany you myself.
– It will be even better!
The watchmaker, either, has no reason to suspect the girl. He chose twelve beautiful watches, introduced in a box, cover the box with a beautiful silk scarf, puts his coat and he starts with Aki.
They arrive at Mr. Minister, enter through the gate and enter the courtyard. Once there, the little crafty said to his companion:
– As Madame is lying, she might be upset to have you home. Pass me the watches; I’ll take them to him. And wait for me here, it will not be long.
The watchmaker, unsuspecting, passes the box to Aki, and watches join the cup while ago in the depths of his sleeve …
The girl went to the kitchen, where she found Mrs. Osandon:
– Excuse me, she said on entering, I actually wrong. It is not in the minister Sanjo my father sent me, but at a certain Mr. Sonjo. Forgive me the trouble I’ve caused you earlier.
– There’s nothing, Miss, answer the cook; everyone can make mistakes.
Aki therefore takes the basket of fish that it had deposited to the kitchen. You begin to understand what purpose. She welcomes the cook and returns to the courtyard, where was waiting the watchmaker.
– Madame is looking at watches, she said; once she has made its choice, she must call you. Wait a few seconds, excuse me; I must go and bring the fish to a friend of Madame.
Thereupon she left and out of the court.
The watchmaker, who sees out a basket of fish in the arm when she came empty handed, not a moment’s thought to doubt whether she was one of Mrs. Sanjo servants. He does not suspect, the brave man, that in the sleeve of this girl who just came out, there are hidden the twelve gold watches which he brought from home!
He expects a quarter of an hour. But no one comes. It seems that no one even thinking of him. Impatient, he went in turn to the kitchen.
– Well! he said to the cook, is Madame ended his choice?
– What choice?
– But … the choice of watches.
– What watches?
– The watches that I have made and I have entrusted to the girl, to make them see Madame.
– What girl?
– The one that just came out with a basket.
– The one that just came out with a basket?
– But, my good man, this girl is not employed at home, as I’m not employed to the palace of the Emperor!
And the cook then tells the history to the petrified watchmaker, and why and how this girl came out of the house with a basket. The watchmaker in turn tells the history of watches, and why and how he is there.
– So, my poor man concludes the cook, you can say goodbye to your watches!
The unfortunate watchmaker, understanding a little later that he was cheated, tears his hair in despair, swear by all his ancestors that never again in his life he will entrust anyone watches.
He is going to make his statement to the police. The police began to search for the little thief.
Will she be found? We’ll never know!
(Translated from Fables et Légendes du Japon, by Claudius Ferrand)