In the village of Nagatani, once lived, in two neighboring houses, a good old man and a nasty old woman. The first was called Nasakeji, the second Arababa. The old man loved birds. He has, especially for sparrows, a marked preference. One day, he unearthed a very small one, took him home, tamed him , named him Bidori and nursed him as his sons. Now, listen what happened.
One morning, the good old man had gone to the mountain to collect brushwood. During the absence of his master, the little Bidori commit a mischief, excusable at his age. He started to peck starch that old neighbor woman had filed on the front of his door, and she intended to use it to laundry. Arababa, furious, seized the sparrow, and, to punish him, cut off his tongue. The bird, suffering horribly and very annoyed to have become mute, no longer wanted to stay in the village. He escaped and went to find his mother, who received him with joy and began to treat him.
Nasakeji back of the mountain; he can not find his beloved Bidori. Astonished, he’ll take the information to the nasty neighbor, who tells him, with a wicked smile, what happened.
Nasakeji became very sad. The house seems very empty to him now. The loneliness weighed on him. One day, he did not resist. He goes in search of the sparrow:
– Bidori, where are you? Where are you, Bidori? he shouts along roads and trails.
Suddenly, he heard a cry above his head. He looks up and sees an elderly sparrow perched on a tree branch.
– Are‘nt you Mr. Nasakeji?
– Exactly, that’s me. And you, who are you?
– Me? I am the mother of Bidori.
– Is it possible? And I sought him everywhere! Where is he now, my little sparrow without tongue?
– He is at home. If you want to see him, I’ll take you there, follow me!
And the bird takes flight. The old man, delighted at the thought of finding his friend, rather runs than walks after him. He thus arrives at the house of the bird.
It is a deep cave dug into the rock. A lot of little sparrows flock flying in front of the visitor, and greet him with signs of great joy. He was taken to the main room, where he finds Bidori. This one, full of joy at the sight of his master, is flying on his shoulders, and he shows his affectiona with thousand caresses.
– Well, said the old man, will you go with me! I came to get you. I miss you since you’re not at home.
Bidori, having no language, could not answer. His mother answered for him:
– No, she said, I do not want my child back to the village. The wicked old would eventually kill him. He will remain here with his mother.
Then she sit Nasakeji on a soft cushion; they served him tea and then gave him fish to eat and sake to drink.
When he finished eating, he wanted to take leave of his hosts. They tried to hold him, but he pretended that he had pressing business. Then the mother of Bidori drew from his chest two lacquered boxes, one large and one small. Presenting them to the old man, she said:
– Please take one of these boxes, as a token of my gratitude for the affection you have given to my son. Choose one that suits you best.
Nasakeji, which had no greed, chose the smallest, thinking that, because it is least burdensome, it is easier to wear. Then he said goodbye to Bidori, his mother and all the little sparrows. They accompanied him to the door, where they made the usual salutations, and they parted.
Back home, the old man opened the box. What is not surprise! It was full of diamonds and precious stones. Joyfully of that fortune that happens to him, he went to the city, sells all its treasures to a jeweler, getting a considerable sum. With this money, he bought a large field, built a beautiful house, and begins to enjoy a very happy life.
The old Arababa, learning how his neighbor had suddenly become so rich, felt a strong desire to become in turn, by the same means. She therefore informed accurately of where lived the sparrow, who make to his visitors such splendid gifts. She resolved to go and see him, thinking that he would give a box to her too.
When she arrived at the cave, the sparrows recognized immediately that she was the evil old woman who had cut the tongue to Bidori. They hid at first what they thought at heart. They received her politely and offered her food.
Then, the mother drew from her chest two lacquered boxes, a large one and a small one, and told the old woman to take a choice.
Arababa, which was coming in this intention, did not felt comfortable at the sight of the two boxes. Thinking that the largest must contain much more treasure than the other, she did not hesitate a second, she chooses the largest and left the cave.
Quick, Arababa returns home, cheerful and happy. Along the way she made wonderful plans for the future. She will live in town, will fine silk clothes, offer great dinners to ladies of the world, will walk by car … all full of these ideas, she arrives home, well close the door, for no indiscreet eye noticing the treasures she wears, and soon half opened the box.
As soon behold from the mysterious box escape, squealing, a multitude of demons. They rush on the old, pale and silent terror woman. They take everything that comes to hand. One grabbed a kitchen knife and cut at once the tongue of Arababa. Another takes burning embers and shoves in the eye. A third grabs a rope and applies severe beatings to her. Finally a fourth grabbed a club and knock the old woman who is soon to die amid unspeakable suffering.
Moral: when a sparrow will offer you two boxes, always take the smallest.