I wrote some good night stories for my friend Janette once, and only recently found that I still had these stored. These were made up in real-time, over ICQ, with about one or two sentences per post (I have paragraphed what was originally a solid block of text into sections to reflect this, and the sections are reasonably close to how the posts would have been divided, except perhaps for the dialogues), so they’re not stellar quality, but may still be nice to read. Much has happened since then, but Jiji = Janette and Hoshi = me. I can’t remember if they were appreciated, but since there are three of them, I am assuming at least the first two were. The third one (not included here) is unfinished, and will be posted when it is finished (if I can ever be bothered to finish it…). I present the first two here with only minor edits, mainly in paragraphing, spelling and structure.
The Tale of Jiji and the Dragon
Once upon a time, there was a small girl, who happened to be named Jiji. She lived in a castle in a country far, far away, and she was
very bored, because all the funny knights were out harassing the locals, so she had no one to play with.
As she sat there in her room high up in a tower, a small leprechaun appeared. He told her that the back door was open, and that the
night was cool and the breeze was nice and sweet. In fact, he said, tonight is the perfect night for seeking adventure.
So Jiji sneaked out through the back door, and hurried over the hills, so that no one would see her.
Beyond the hills, there was a deep forest, where she saw fairies playing, but as soon as she tried to get near them they were frightened
and ran away. Soon, she gave up, and wandered for three days and three nights, until she came upon a clearing where a small cottage stood upon a large stub.
When she knocked on the cottage’s door, a voice from within creaked, “Who’s there?”, and Jiji, who was a little frightened by the voice,
told the cottage door her name, and the voice said that she could come in.
Inside, an old, but beautiful, witch sat in an old chair. On the floor, a large pepper-and-salt cat lay.
“What do you want?” asked the witch.
“I want to have something to do, now that the funny knights are away from the castle,” said Jiji.
“Oh,” said the witch. “Then maybe you’d like to meet a dragon?”
Jiji, who had heard the knights talk about dragons many times – how they had slain them, how large they were and so on – were so amazed that the witch wanted to show a her a real one, that she gladly accepted, and the two of them stepped out into the night.
In the cottage, the cat yawned, and then followed them.
Jiji followed the witch through the forest and towards the mountains. When they reached them, the witch said, “Now you just wait here and
I’ll go in and check if he’s at home”, and Jiji waited.
For many minutes she waited, teasing a small pixie while she waited.
After a while, the witch came out, followed by a large brown and black dragon. It stepped nimbly up to her, and the witch told her
that it was okay for her to pat its head. Jiji did so.
While she was patting it, the witch gradually drew back, until Jiji was left alone with the dragon. It didn’t look the way the
knights had described it – all fire and claws and heroic deeds. It looked, in fact, more like a large lizard.
And while she was patting it, it suddenly pushed her over, and lay its head in her lap. Slowly, it shrank, until Jiji recognised the
shape of the salt-and-pepper cat in her lap.
She picked it up, and turned around, stroking the cat while she turned. But the witch was nowhere to be seen.
Having a good memory, Jiji quickly made her way back to the clearing where the cottage had been, but it was nowhere to be found. There was no clearing, and there was no witch.
Well, thought Jiji, all the worse for her, then. I’m keeping the cat.
And she did so, and returned to the castle. And whenever the knights returned from their heroic deeds and told Jiji stories about the dragons they had seen or the witches they had driven away, she only smiled and petted her cat.
And the legend says, that she was never bored ever again.
And as all good stories do, this one ends here.
The Tale of Hoshi
Once upon a time, there was a boy called Hoshi. He lived in a small hut outside a large and menacing forest together with his grandmother, who was very old. They had a goat, an elderly cow and a few chickens.
One day, a squire passed. He saw the old grandmother was sitting outside her hut knitting a sweater for Hoshi. The squire, who was a rather mean squire, decided, that such things could not go on if he was any judge.
“Hello, old crone,” said the squire.
“Hello, young squire,” said the grandmother, who didn’t like to be called an old crone.
“What is it you are knitting?” the squire inquired.
“It is a sweater for my grandson Hoshi,” replied the grandmother.
“Ah, but do you not know, that this month, sweater-knitting has been named strictly forbidden by the king?”
The grandmother didn’t, as did no one in the kingdom, because the squire just made that up.
“No,” she said.
“I will now be forced to confiscate your chickens,” said the squire, and did so.
And the squire, with the chickens in a bag, proceeded to the castle.
In the hut, Hoshi returned from the woods with a badger he had found, and found his grandmother weeping.
“Why are you weeping?” he asked.
“There was a squire here, and he stole our chickens,” she replied, because by now, she had learned from a neighbour that the squire had been cheating her.
“Then I shall go and reclaim it at once!” said Hoshi valiantly, but the grandmother told him not to.
“The squire lives too far away, and his soldiers are too brave,” she said. “We can manage without chickens until we can afford to buy new ones.”
And so, Hoshi stayed at home.
A few days later, when Hoshi was once again away into the woods to gather food for the supper, the grandmother took out her knitting again and sat down in a rocking chair in front of the house.
It came to pass, that a Duke, who was a distant cousin to the squire, passed the hut that day, and when he saw the old woman knitting, he remembered what his cousin had told him, and approached the grandmother.
“What are you knitting, old hag?” asked the duke.
The grandmother, who didn’t like being called an old hag, replied in her sweetest voice, “A pair of socks for my grandchild.”
“Ah, but didn’t you know that the king proclaimed all sorts of knitting prohibited last week?” the Duke asked, because he wanted to play a trick on the old grandmother to impress his cousin.
“They were?” the grandmother, who wasn’t very bright, said.
“Yes. And as you are doing it against the king’s orders, I will have to confiscate your goat,” the duke said.
And the duke took the goat, and rode away to his castle, where he met his cousin and told him all about his encounter with the old grandmother.
That evening, Hoshi came back to the hut with a basket of mushrooms and a few quail eggs, and he found his grandmother weeping again.
“What is the matter, grandmother?” asked Hoshi. “Why are you weeping?”
“A duke passed by here today, and he stole our goat,” she said, because the clever neighbour had told her that she had been tricked again.
“Then I will go to his castle and reclaim it immediately,” Hoshi said bravely, but the grandmother stopped him.
“No, please. His castle is too far away, and his soldiers are even stronger than the squire’s,” she said. “Surely we can get by without a goat until we can afford to buy a new one.
And so he stayed this time also.
Almost a week later, when Hoshi had gone into the wood to get something to eat for breakfast, the grandmother stepped outside her hut and looked at the road.
Today, she thought, I will not knit, because then someone else will pass by and steal our cow.
So instead, she sat down in her rocking chair and looked at the little garden all day.
It happened that day, too, that the King was going to visit his distant cousins, the squire and the duke, and on his way, he passed the small hut.
When he saw the little grandmother in the rocking chair, he remembered what his cousins had told him, and decided that he would tease her a little.
“Hello, old bag,” he shouted to the grandmother. “Why are you not knitting?”
“Because,” said the grandmother, who didn’t recognise the king, “every time I do, someone passes by here and steals an animal.”
“But don’t you know, that I – the king – yesterday proclaimed that all old ladies who didn’t knit was breaking the law?”
The grandmother, who now recognised the king from the few coins she had, said, that she didn’t know that.
“Then I must confiscate your cow,” the king said, and he did so.
That evening, Hoshi came home with a few conies and acorns. He found his grandmother crying outside the hut, and he asked her what had happened.
“The king was here, and he took our cow,” she said.
“Then I must reclaim it immediately,” Hoshi said, and this time, the grandmother didn’t have time to stop him until he was out of sight.
Hoshi wandered towards the castle all through the night, and all through the day after. When he reached it, the guards didn’t let him inside, and he told them, that he had come to take back his grandmother’s cow, goat and chickens.
The guards laughed, and one of them cried for the squire, who appeared.
“This here child says you have stolen his grandmother’s chickens,” the guards said.
“I did no such thing,” the squire replied. “Don’t be absurd.”
And he went inside to his two cousins and laughed and ate and drank.
The next day, Hoshi returned to the castle, but the guards didn’t let him in either. They asked him why he wanted to enter, and he told them again, whereupon the guards called for the duke and asked him if he had ever stolen this boy’s goat.
“I most certainly have not,” said the duke, and looked affronted. “I am not common thief.”
And he returned to his cousins, and laughed and ate and drank.
The third day, Hoshi returned, and when the guards who refused him entrance called for the king, the king didn’t even bother to appear in person, but sent a minor earl to tell him, that the king didn’t even talk to lowly people like Hoshi, let alone stealing their livestock.
And then, the earl returned to the three cousins, and watched them laugh and eat and drink.
That evening, Hoshi was on the verge of just giving up and going home. He sat on a rock outside the caste, and thought about how his grandmother must be weeping back home.
As he did so, he started to cry himself, and the tears that flowed from his cheeks fell onto a small root, which grew and changed shape until a small grey cat stood in front of him.
“Why are you crying,” asked the cat.
“I am crying because the squire stole our chickens, and the duke stole our goat, and the king stole our cow, and now my grandmother is sitting at home weeping because I ran away to get them back.
“Is that so?” said the cat, and looked thoughtfully on Hoshi. “Tell you what, you return here tomorrow, and I’ll help you getting it back.”
And as if by magic, the grey cat was gone.
And Hoshi returned to the rock the next day, but he didn’t see the cat anywhere. He sat down on the rock and thought that he must have been dreaming it all, and began crying again.
And the tears dripped onto the root, and the grey cat appeared again.
“So there you are!” it said. “I have been waiting for you. I had to go away for a while to check if there really was a cow, a goat and a few chicken in the castle, and there was. So now I will help you get them back. Just follow me.”
And Hoshi followed the cat to the castle, where it stood before the guards and asked them why they didn’t want to let him in. The guards replied, that they couldn’t do it, since both the squire, the duke and the king had ordered them not to.
“We’ll see about that,” said the cat and placed itself between Hoshi’s legs. Then it began to grow, and grow and grow, until it was as large as the guards. And it grew more and more and more, until it was as large as the gate. And then it grew and grew and grew until it was half as big as the castle, and could look into the window of the squire’s hall, where he and his two cousins sat laughing, eating and drinking.
And the cat asked them why they had stolen Hoshi’s animals, and the squire said that it was the duke’s idea, and the duke said that it was the king’s idea, and the king was too frightened to say anything at all.
So the cat reached in, and picked up each and every one of them, and threw them so high up in the air that they haven’t returned yet.
And then he stepped into the courtyard and picked up the cow, the goat and the chickens, which he placed on his back together with Hoshi.
And all the squire’s soldiers and all the duke’s soldiers and all the king’s soldiers tried to stop him, but the cat just jumped away playfully, and ran towards the hut.
And when the cat reached the hut, he shrank and shrank and shrank, until he was his normal size, and the cow and the goat and the chickens cried of joy for being back home.
And the grandmother came running out of the hut, and praised the Lord that her only grandchild had returned with all the animals, and a nice grey cat, too.
And since that day, no one tries to take the cow, the goat, or the chickens away from them, because if anyone tries, the grey cat appears and stares at them until they remember the tale about how it grew and grew and grew.
And in that fashion, they lived happily ever after.