Japanese Fairy World | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Sazayé and the Tai, The

SAZAYÉ is a shell-fish, which is very proud of its shell. This is high, full of points like towers, and thick like a castle wall. When feeding, enjoying itself or moving around, its long neck and body are stretched out before it, armed with its hard operculum, which is like an iron shield, or the end of a battering ram. The operculum fits the entrance to its shell like a trap door. As soon as any danger is near it pulls in its head, and slams itself shut with a loud noise.

              On account of the hardness and thickness of his shell, the sazayé is the envy of the soft-bodied fishes that covet his security. But on the other hand the sazayé, though a slow moving creature, is apt to be too proud of his defence and trust too much to his fancied security.

              One day a Tai (red fish) and a Herring were looking at the strong shell of the sazayé, and becoming quite envious, the Tai said:

              "What a mighty strong castle you do live in, Mr. Sazayé. When you once shut up your shell no one need even try to touch you. You are to be envied sir."

              The Sazayé was tickled at the flattery, but pretending to be very humble, shook his head and said:

              "It is very kind in you, my lords, to say so, but my little hut is nothing but a shell; yet I must say that when I lock my door I do not feel any anxiety, and I really pity you poor fellows who have no shell at all."

              He had hardly got the last word out of his grisly throat, when suddenly there was a great splash, and away darted the tai and herring, never resting their fins or tails a moment till safe out of danger.

              The Sazayé drew in his flap in the twinkling of an eye, and keeping as quiet as possible, wondered what the noise was. Was it a stone, or a net, or a fish-hook? He wondered if the tai and herring were caught.

              "Surely they must be," thought he. "However I'm safe, thanks to my castle shell," he muttered.

              So drawing his trap tighter he took a long nap. When he woke up, quite refreshed, he cautiously loosened his trap and peeped out.

              "How strange every thing looks, am I dreaming?" said he as he saw piles of fish, clams, prawns and lobsters lying on a board all around him.

              "Ugh, what is that?" clapping himself shut as a great black-nosed and long-whiskered dog poked his muzzle near him.

              Poor shell-fish! There he lay in a fishmonger's shop, with a slip of paper marked "ten cash," (1-10 of a cent,) on his back. A few hours later, purchased by a laborer's wife for his dinner, he was stewing along with several of his relative's in his own juice. The castle, of which he was so proud, serving first as a dinner-pot, then as a saucer, after which it was thrown away in a heap and burned into lime.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Sazayé and the Tai, The
Tale Author/Editor: Griffis, William Elliot
Book Title: Japanese Fairy World
Book Author/Editor: Griffis, William Elliot
Publisher: Trübner & Co
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1887
Country of Origin: Japan
Classification: unclassified

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