I am an old man with a hard-hearted wife, and she’s only gotten meaner over the years. I try to ignore her. I light my pipe and go sit out on the porch. I listen to birdsong and tune my ears to something else other than her scolding tongue.
Now she’s done something I can’t forgive. She has slit the tongue of my dearest friend the sparrow and she has driven my bird away. I won’t rest until I find that sweet wanderer. I’ll go into the bamboo forest every day, and I will call to her. I will call to her until she comes back.
Old Friend of Sparrow in The Sparrow with the Slit Tongue, Pink Fairy Book. Illustration by Frederick Richardson.