The Sazaye And The Tai
Source: Japanese Fairy World
Sazaye 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 sazaye is the
envy of the soft-bodied fishes that covet his security. But on the other
hand the sazaye, 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 sazaye, and becoming quite envious, the Tai said:
"What a mighty strong castle you do live in, Mr. Sazaye. When you once
shut up your shell no one need even try to touch you. You are to be
The Sazaye 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
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 Sazaye 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.
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