The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Washing Woman

Themes: Trust

I was at the river washing my sweet potatoes in a hollow bamboo when all of a sudden, something got stuck in the pipe. I blew on one end, and a little bird came flying out of the bamboo like a pea out of a peashooter!

I knew him. It was Pivi, a cheerful little fellow who chirps at sunset. He had broken his leg playing a slinging game with his friend Kabo. I know Kabo, too. He’s an ugly fowl who croaks in the dark.

I felt sorry for little Pivi, and I asked him if he would come with me and do what I told him. He said he would, and I laid him out on a bed of mats in my fruit shed. I attended to his broken leg without cutting the flesh around the bone. I told him to be very quiet at night when the Black Ant came. He must act as if he’s dead while the Ant walks over his body, from his feet to his head. Later, the Red Ant would come, and, with his feet like a grasshoppers’, he too would walk from Pivi’s feet to his head. Then Pivi must shake him off. Trusting little Pivi understood, and he did exactly what I told him to do.

In the morning, when he ran to the river and looked into the water, what did he see? A man! He had become a man!

The Washing Woman in Pivi and Kabo, Brown Fairy Book