鶴の恩返し (A Crane's Gratitude )

Once upon a time , there was a young man who lived alone, deep in the snowy mountains.


He was poor and he made his living by cutting firewood and selling it in a nearby village.


One winter's day, as the young man was returning home through the forest carring his firewood, he heard an odd sound.

その時です、今まで聞いたこともない何とも妙な音が聞こえてきました。 (2012.4.19.)


"What's that ?"he thought to himselfe.


" It sound like something's hurt".


He crept thought the bushes toward the sound until he came to the edge of a small snow-coverd clearing .


There, in middle of the clearing, he saw a crane.


Its leg was caught in a hunter's trap, and every few minutes it would raise its head to the sky and cry in pain.


The young man felt pity. He enterd the clesring slowly, trying not to frighten the crane.


The bird looked up in alarm and struggled harder to get itself out of the trap. Blood stained the snow a deep red.



Don't be scared," said the young man softly. I'm here to help you," He reached down and freed the crane frome the trap .


" Off you go then, you 're free". he said and the bird spread its wings in joy and relief, and flew off into the air.



That night, as the snow was falling thick and fast, the yung man heard a knocking at his door.




He opend the door cautiously, being unused to visitors even during the day.


On the doorstep stood a beautifil woman, dressed in white,with snowflakes in her long, black hair.


その黒髪には粉雪が降りかかり、キラキラと輝いていました。 (2012.5.10)

The young man's eyes widened. "Er...." he mumbled. and then fell silent. He wasn't very good with women, especially beautiful, unfamiliar women who suddenly turn up on his doorstep.


"I'm lost," the woman said . "Could I stay here for a night?"


The young man went red in face , and without saying a word, showed her into his house .


"You can sleep in there ," he said gruffly, pointing to the other room


The following morning, the young man woke to find the woman already awake. She smiled at him and said " I'v made you something in thanks. I'm afraid I had to use your loom, I hope you don't mind.

Odd, though, that a man living on his own should have a loom." She laughed. "



It was my mother's " he muttered, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

「あれはおっかぁのだよ」と若者は眠い目をゴシゴシこすりながらムキになって言いました。( 2012.5.17.)

" Well, I hope you like it ", the woman said, and she showed him the most beautiful lengs of cloth he had ever seen in his life . His nervousness vanished .


" You made that ? " he asked in disbelief . " how in heaven's name ...?


" I have my ways, "she laughed again , " They are secret, though. Anyway, you should try selling it " .

「私だけの織り方があるのよ、でも秘密なの フフフ、、」そんなことより、その織物を売りに行ってみてはくれませんか、と娘は笑顔で言いました。

The young man scrambled out of bed and down to the village.



" How much is this worth ?" he said, bursting into the house of one of the merchants .

" Never seen anything like this before ", said the merchant in suprise.
" I'll give you this much for it " , and he named a price that made the young man go weak at the knees .



I'm rich " . he yelled, laghing and skipping down the road after leaving the home , and so overwhelmed with joy was he that he immediatery asked her to marry him . With a laugh , she said yes .



He found the woman at home, and so overwhelmed with joy was he that he immediately asked her to marry him.
With a laugh, she said yes.



A month latter after living a life of happiness and extravagance that he had never dreamed of, the young man said to his wife,



"You know, we seem to have used up all the money that we got for that fine cloth you wove. Weave us another, would you, my dear?


"If you want," she said. "Beut promise me one thing, you will never watch me weave. You have to promise me that,"


"Yes, yes, I promise", said the young man impatiently, "but when will it be ready?"



That night , his wife shut herself in her room to weave, while the young man went to bed, He fell asleep to the sound of the loom in the next room. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, cickety-clack," went the loom, but all the young man could hear was the click, click, click of gold.

そして、カッタン、コットン、カッタン、コットン、と織り続けました。若者は寝床の中でその音を聞いている内に眠くなってきました。若者には機を織る音がチャリン、チャリンと小判をならす音にも聞こえました。満ち足りた気分で聞いている内にぐっすり寝込んでしまいました。 (2012.6.14.)

The following morning. his wife gave him the cloth. "Get some rest, my dear, you look awful", called the young man over his shoulder as he walked cheerfully down to the village.




A few days later, he approached his wifre again. "I think we should sell as much of this stuff as we can now. Weave us another one, would you? Another one for you and me.


 ( 2012.6.21.)

Over the next month, the woman wove many length of this magnificent cloth, and the young man would sell it for enormous prices .


The demand fpr the cloth was extraordinary, nothing so beautiful had ever been in the land before, and rumor had it that the emperor himselfe was hoping to buy some.


But his wife sufferd as the young man grew rich, and the young man did not notice this becouse he was so so engrossed in his money.


After each night spent weaving, she would be exhsusted,. After a month. she looked haggard, pale and sad, like a


" I don't think I can weave any more," she said to her husband one night.


" Nonsense." said her husband running his hands through a pot of gold coins.
" Of course you can."



"No, I don't think I can," she said.


"Well, how about one more, and then you can take a break for a while," he said and waved her into her room.



Then the young man thought to himselfe, " Pahapse if I had a little look at what she's doing in there, I could set some other people to weave the cloth while she's taking a break. Yes, I'll have a look".



So the young man crept to the door , opended it slitgtly , and ther he saw a crane sutting at the loom, plucking feathers frome its body and weaving them into the beautifull cioth.

「ウッヒャ〜、、小さく声をたてて目を丸くしたまま、身動き一つ出来ません。驚いたことに、機の前には鶴が一羽座っていて、自分の羽をむしり取っては布の中に織り込んでいたのです。 (2012.6.05.)
And he saw, too , that the crane had few feather left and there was blood on its bare skin. At the same moment, he realized how greedy he had become and how badly he had treated his wife.



He fell into the room with a groan, his face pressed against the floor, becouse he could not bear to look at her.



Instantly, the crane transformed herself back into the shape of the woman.


"You promised ..." she said sadly.
"I am the crane that you saved. I came here to thank you for what you did.


But now you have seen me in my real form, I must leave you. "


And she left the young man lying on the floor and disappeared into the snow, never to be seen again.   

そして再び姿を見せることはありませんでした。  完 (2012.7.19.)
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