Nuke-suzume, or slip-out-sparrows

By Kokontei Shinsho, Katsura Shijaku, Katsura Beicho, et.el.

By Beicho                           By Shinsho

 "Hey, mister, stay with us tonight!"

 "We have nice food, hot bath, and beautiful girl will serve you"

"Stay with us!"

 A stage in the evening is always crowded with shouting people who try to attract travelers into their inns. Big inns have beautiful girls just for this calling-in. They drag travelers one by one grasping their sleeves. Some are cheerfully dragged and some rejected saying they have regular inn.

Before dark, the crowd scattered to each direction except a small man who seemed to be an innkeeper and a samurai in shabby kimono. The innkeeper has been rejected by every traveler, while the samurai, to whom nobody called.

"You need a guest, don't you?"

 The samurai asked the innkeeper arrogantly. The innkeeper glanced at him and replied reluctantly.

 "Well..., uh, yes, sir. Do you want to stay with us?"

 "If you want, I can stay with you."

 "Uh,...well..., thank you."

 There was no enthusiasm in his voice, but the samurai did not seem to care.

 "And I drink sake, one bottle for morning, one bottle for afternoon, and one bottle for evening. Understood?"

 The innkeeper did not want to understand. He looked the samurai closely. His kimono is quite poor state, but his attitude showed some authority. The innkeeper had no choice anyway. If he would return home without any guest, his wife must scold him. He could not stand her grumbling.


 "Hey, dear,"

 The wife of the innkeeper whispered him.


 "You know, the mister upstairs has been stayed for almost 10 days. Drinking from the morning to evening. Do you think it's OK?"

 "Well, so we have guest at least one. "

 "But he drinks too much. It is time we should make him pay. You should talk him."


 "Of course. You are the master of this lodge."

 Urged by his wife, the innkeeper reluctantly went to upstairs.


 "Excuse me. sir,"

 "Hm? The bottle is still half full."

 A languid voice heard from inside. The innkeeper opened the sliding door.

 "No, sir, not about the bottle."

 Scratching his head the innkeeper said timidly. It was the moment he most hated this job.

 "Well, thank you very much for staying, is almost 10 days, so could you pay the fee? We have to pay the liquor shop or else."

 "Oh? 10 days already? I didn't recognize. I should leave earlier. Thank to one bottle in the morning, one bottle in the afternoon, and one bottle in the evening, I forgot days. That was so nice..."

 He yawned comfortably.

 "We are very glad if you satisfied our service. Well, your fee up to date is....."

 "No need to hear."


 "Because I have no money."

The samurai said in easy tone.

 "What? Then you are penniless?"

 "Means so."

 "Hey! No! This is not joke! You have to pay us. Do you know how many bottles you have consumed? My wife would be furious! Please pay us!"

 The good-natured and wishy-washy innkeeper pleaded.

 "But I can't."

 "If you have no money pay by something you have. You are samurai. You must have sword. Leave it and we can sell it."

 "Sorry, I have no sword either."

 He never seemed sorry.

 "What is it in your breast?"

 The innkeeper desperately looked for anything valuable but it was evident his search was fruitless.

 "This? This is a brush. I am painter."

 The innkeeper dropped his head.

 "What a misfortune we have! You have no money, no goods to sell, just a painter! What will my wife say?"

 "Don't worry. I will pay."


 "But not now. Later."

 The innkeeper sighed. The samurai soothed him.

 "I'm on the way to Edo. When I reached Edo I will get some money. I'll drop here again and pay you. By the way, what is it?"

 The samurai pointed the corner where something was folded. The innkeeper glance at it.

 "That is a screen. Another penniless, who was a workman, left it. We are fated to attract penniless."

 "OK. Then I'll sketch something on it. Bring a cup of water to make sumi (ink)."

 "You paint it? Oh, no! Please don't! We can sell without any drawing but with your drawing...."

 "Just bring water."

 The samurai said flatly again.

 When the innkeeper brought the water the samurai ordered him to make sumi ink by rubbing the ink stick.

 "Oh! This ink stick smells nice!"

 In spite of himself the innkeeper was impressed by the aroma that was generated from the ink stick as it was rubbed.

 "Just work."

 The samurai said without looking at the innkeeper. He gazed the screen in front of him and drew a picture quickly and easily.

 "OK. I'll leave it to you."

 "What is this?"

 Behind the samurai the innkeeper took a glance.

 The samurai snorted.

 "What are the two holes in your face?"

 "Well.... eyes, sir."

 "What for?"

 "Well... to see things."

 "If you can't see what this is, they are useless. Throw them away and put a paper on them! These are sparrows!"

 "Oh, yes. I can see now."

 "I leave it as a pledge. 5 sparrows. One for 1 gold. So 5 gold."

 "One sparrow for one gold? Too much! We can buy any big hen for less than one gold."

 "Stupid! You have no eye, after all. Anyway, this is a pledge, so you cannot sell this, understood?"


 After the samurai left, the wife was furious as expected.

 "Was he penniless? And he drew on the screen? That screen could be sold without picture! What did you do? You should select a guest more carefully. What are the two holes in your face for? Your useless eyes! Throw them away and put paper on!"

 Next morning when the innkeeper went upstairs he heard birds chirping in the room.

 "Who the hell locked birds inside? Pity, pity. I'll let you free."

 As soon as he opened window the birds flew away.

 When he turned back and caught sight of the screen he was frightened.

 No sparrow there!


 The five sparrows flew away in the morning and hours later returned into the screen. In the screen they seemed normal sparrows drawn.

 The slip-out sparrows became very famous in the country and numbers of curious seeker rushed to the inn.

 "Hey! Is this the inn of slip-out sparrows?"

 "Yes, sir."

 The innkeeper replied proudly.

 "I want to stay tonight."

 "I'm so sorry. But we are full."

 "I don't complain any place. Just want to glance the sparrows slipping out."

 "But we are surely full to the end."

 "I told you any place OK. I can take even closet."

 "Me and my wife sleep in closet, I'm afraid."

 "I don't mind to sleep with you two in the closet."

 "We do mind, sir. Every closet or alcove is full now. Well, I wouldn't recommend this, but if you really don't mind any narrow space...."

 "I told you! Any place OK!"

 "Well, then, the third step of the stairs is not occupied yet."

 "Got it!"


 The rumor of slip-out sparrows was spread through the country and reached to the ears of the lord, Kagano-kami.  The lord asked for the screen for 500 gold. The innkeeper and his wife were so happy to hear it but they couldn't sell. He told the envoy.

 "I am regretfully sorry to say this, but the sparrows are not ours but the samurai's who drew it. We can't sell it without his permission, sir."

 "I understand. Then, we will wait till the samurai returns."

 The envoy of the lord left with the message. The innkeeper and his wife awaited the samurai every day as the curious-seekers expanded ever.


 One day an old samurai dropped in their inn.

 "Is this the inn of that slip-out sparrows?"

 "Yes, sir. But I'm terribly sorry we have full of guests tonight."

 "No, I'm not going to stay. Just want to see the picture."

 "The sparrows are at rest in the screen now. They are very ordinary drawings in the screen. Nothing special, sir."

 "That's OK. Can I see it?"

 "Yes sir. This way please."


 The old samurai gazed the picture for a moment.

 "These sparrows," He said gravely.

 "will die soon."

 "What? Really?"

 "Yes, certainly." The old samurai repeated in confidence.  The innkeeper felt at a loss.

 "What should we do?"

 "You don't want to the sparrows die?"

 "Of course not, sir!"

 "OK. I'll draw something helpful for you. Bring a cup of water to make sumi water."

Q uickly the old samurai drew something besides the sparrows.

 "What is it sir?"

 "What are the two holes in your face for? If..."

 "I know, sir! You want to say throw them away and put paper on!  Wait, well, it seems like birdcage."

 "Correct. The birds need resting place. Without it they will exhaust their energy and eventually die."

 With that remark the old samurai left away.

 A few days later, the young samurai who drew the screen appeared in front of the inn.

 "Ohoo!! Mister, mister, mister. How nice to meet you again! We have been waiting of you!"

 The innkeeper rushed out from the inn, grabbed the samurai's sleeve and shouted to his wife.

 "Hey, what are you doing? The master arrived finally! Prepare the bath immediately, pouring sake in the bath tab instead of water!"

 "What's going on? You became very generous."

 The samurai said sarcastically.

 "Your drawing, your sparrows in the screen, sir"

 "What's the matter with them"

 "They are slipping out in the morning and back to the screen in the evening. We became famous of it and lot of people visited us."


 The samurai was not moved.

 "And, and you know, the lord Kagano-kami asked the screen for 500 gold! 500 gold! Can you believe it?!"

 "So you sold it."

 "No, of course not, sir."


 The innkeeper rounded his eyes.

 "You told me not to!"

 The samurai grinned.

 "You are really honest man. OK, I'll give it to you."

 "Really? Oh, thank you, thank you very much, sir." The innkeeper leaped for joy, then added.

 "By the way, a few days ago, an old samurai visited us to see the picture. He said the sparrows would die without resting place and drew a cage (carrier)."

 The samurai frowned.

 "Did he? Let me see."

 He saw the drawing an d bowed it crying,

 "No doubt! He was my  ather."

 "Your father?"

 "Oh, how unfilial son I am!"

 "How come sir?"

 "I made my own father carrier drawer."


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