The Wonderful Mallet

: Boys And Girls Bookshelf

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 Kane, and that of the younger was Cho.

Now, one day Kane went to Cho's house, and begged for the loan of some

seed-rice and some silkworms' eggs, for last season had been

unfortunate, and he
as in want of both.

Cho 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


Kane, 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 Kane's house one day, and finding his brother was out, Cho 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 Kane 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 Kane had

expected. So now he began to prosper.

The envious Cho, 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.

Kane also planted the rice-seed which he had borrowed from his brother,

and it sprang up, and grew and flourished far better than Cho'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. Kane 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 again.

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 asleep.

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 Kane 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 went away.

Presently Kane 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 "Sake." 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.

Kane being now a rich and prosperous man, Cho was of course jealous of

him, and determined to find a magic mallet which would do as much for

him. He came, therefore, to Kane and borrowed seed-rice, which he

planted and tended with care, being impatient for it to grow and ripen


It grew well and ripened soon, and now Cho 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.

Cho was delighted at this, and drove them away, pursuing them to the

distant field where Kane 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 Cho'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 Cho'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 Cho 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 Cho was left alone, a sad and angry man. Holding his long nose

painfully in both hands, he slowly took his way toward his brother

Kane'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 Kane 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 Cho'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 Cho 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.