The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Fairy Leader

We often gather in the mossy dell shaded by spreading pine-trees. We’ve got a magic mallet that we keep under a stone, and it can produce anything we wish for, so there’s no end to our delight. We want for nothing!

Then one day when we came tripping into the dell, there was a man lying down on the moss by the stone.

The fairies ignored him and summoned me. “Leader! Leader!” they cried. “Fetch us the mallet!” I lifted the mossy stone, but there was no mallet underneath!

Oh-ho, we became angry. We stamped our feet in rage, and then we became scrambled and scared. We rushed wildly here and there, looking for the mallet. Had the wind taken it? A dog? Or was the thief lying right in front of us? Of course he was. He was a nasty-looking man, a cruel, miserly, greedy man who didn’t care for anyone but himself!

“See this ugly old farmer man!” I cried. “He must have taken our mallet. Let’s pull his nose.”

Screaming, we set upon the man. We pinched him and pulled him and buffeted him and set our sharp teeth in his flesh till he yelled in agony. Then we took hold of his nose and pulled it. Long it grew, and longer. It reached his waist. It reached his feet.

Haha! How we laughed. We scampered away, tumbling over one another like fallen leaves in the wind.

Fairy Leader, The Mallet, Japanese Fairy Tales. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.