The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales |
This collection of "classics" certainly is a departure from the Disney versions. The tales are mostly very dark and pessimistic, as originally recorded by the Brothers. For the more "colourful" children's stories it is better to buy the specific tales from the bookstore instead of a collective book.
This story is available in the following languages
THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW
In a little house in a little old village in Japan lived a little old man and his little old
wife. One morning when the old woman slid open the screens which form the sides of
the Japanese houses, she saw on the doorstep a poor little sparrow. She took him up
gently and fed him. Then she held him in the bright morning sunshine until the cold dew
was dried from his wings. Afterward, she let him go, so that he might fly home to his
nest, but he stayed with her to thank her with his songs.
Each morning, when the pink on the mountaintops told that the sun was near, the
sparrow perched on the roof of the house and sang out his joy. The old man and woman
thanked the sparrow for this, for they liked to be up early and at work. But near them
lived a cross old woman who did not like to be awakened so early. At last she became so
angry that she caught the sparrow and cut his tongue. Then the poor little sparrow flew
away to his home. But he never could sing again.
When the kind woman knew what had happened to her pet she was very sad. She said
to her husband, "Let us go and find our poor little sparrow." So they started together, and
asked of each bird by the wayside: "Do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow lives?
Do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow went?"
In this way the followed until they came to a bridge. They did not know which way to
turn, and at first could see no one to ask. At last they saw a bat, hanging head downward,
taking his daytime nap. "O friend Bat, do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow
"Yes. Over the bridge and up the mountain," said the bat. Then he blinked his sleepy
eyes and was fast asleep again.
They went over the bridge and up the mountain, but again they found two roads and did
not know which one to take. A little field mouse peeped through the leaves and grass, so
they asked him, "Do you know where the tongue-cut sparrow went?"
"Yes. Down the mountain and through the woods," said the field mouse.
Down the mountain and through the woods they went, and at last came to the home of
their little friend. When he saw them coming, the poor little sparrow was very happy
indeed. He and his wife and children all came and bowed their heads down to the ground
to show their respect. Then the sparrow rose and led the old man and the old woman into
the house while his wife and children hastened to bring them boiled rice, fish, and cress.
After they had feasted, the sparrow wished to please them still more, so he danced for
them what is called the "sparrow dance."
When the sun began to sink, the old man and woman started home. The sparrow
brought out two baskets. "I would like to give you one of these," he said. "Which will
you take?" One basket was large and looked very full, while the other one seemed very
small and light. The old people thought they would not take the large basket, for that
might have all the sparrow's treasure in it, so they said, "The journey home is long, so please let us
take the smaller one."
They took it and walked home over the mountain and across the bridge, happy and
contented. When they reached their own home, they decided to open the basket to see
what the sparrow had given them. Within the basket they found many rolls of silk and
piles of gold, enough to make them rich, so they were more grateful than ever to the
The cross old woman who had cut the sparrow's tongue was spying through the screen
when they opened their basket. She saw the rolls of silk and piles of gold, and planned
how she might get some for herself.
The next morning she went to the kind woman and said, "I am so sorry that I cut the
tongue of your sparrow. Please tell me the way to his home so that I may go to him and
tell him I am sorry."
The kind woman told her the way and she set out. She went across the bridge, over the
mountains, and through the woods. At last she came to the home of the little sparrow.
He was not so glad to see this old woman, yet he was very kind to her and did everything
to make her feel very welcome. They made a feast for her, and when she started home
the sparrow brought out two baskets as before. Of course the cross old woman chose the
large basket, for she thought that would have even more wealth than the other one.
The basket was very heavy and caught on the trees as she was going through the wood.
She could hardly pull it up the mountain with her, and she was all out of breath when she
reached the top. She did not get to the bridge until it was dark. They she was so afraid of
dropping the basket into the river that she scarcely dared to step.
When at last she reached home she was tired out, but she pulled the screens tightly
closed so that no one could look in, and opened her treasure.
Treasure indeed! A whole swarm of horrible creatures burst from the basket the
moment she opened it. They stung her and bit her, they pushed her and pulled her, and
scratched her. At last she crawled to the edge of the room and slid aside the screen to get
away from the pests. The moment the door was opened they swooped down upon her,
picked her up, and flew away with her. Since then nothing has been heard of the old woman.