Hukumusume fairy tale collection > Japanese classical stories >March
middle of the eight
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English translator REN HANADA(花田れん)
Once upon a time, there was a very clever child called Hikoichi.
One day, Hikoichi received the following news from the castle.
“I'm going to celebrate the birth of the prince, so come to the castle in eight people; you, the village headman and six other men from the village. You have to come exactly in eight people.”
The village headman was overjoyed to hear of this.
“It's a pleasure to be summoned from the castle.”
But Hikoichi thought as he looked at the letter.
“It's doubtful that he's reminded me to come exactly in eight people. With that lord, he must be up to something again.”
Now it's time to go to the castle.
Hikoichi and the village headman, along with six of the villagers, headed for the castle with the eight of them as they were told.
Other than the village headman and Hikoichi, the six of them are nervous about entering the castle for the first time in their lives.
“What kind of feast do they serve at the castle?”
“Hey, I don't know how to eat a feast.”
“Me too. What if I'm rude?”
“It's okay. All you have to do is imitate the village headman.”
“Well, that is true.”
While saying that, the eight were let through to the great hall of the castle.
In the great hall, the celebration of the prince's birthday has already begun.
From a high place in the front, there is a line of His Highness, his wife, the prince, and a large number of servants and attendants.
The village headman stepped forward and bowed his head in greeting.
“Congratulations on the prince's birthday.”
"Oh, you're here. Hmm, you come exactly in eight people. Wahahahaha.”
From the sound of his laughter, he seemed to be up to something.
"Come on, it doesn't matter. Feel free to come over here. The prince would be delighted if you do that.”
With that being said, Hikoichi and the others stepped forward, and His Highness grinned and said,
“Oh, and I'll command Hikoichi.
Hikoichi has to sit in the middle of the eight people in line.
If you can't do that, you must leave immediately.”
After all, it was the ploy of His Highness to call those eight people.
The servants and attendants all stopped drinking and eating and stared at Hikochi to see what he would do.
If there are five, seven, or nine people, he can sit right in the middle.
But with eight people, it is impossible.
“The kid. He has a reputation for being a wise boy, but what is he going to do about it?”
“But His Highness is malicious. No matter how I think about it, he can't sit in the middle of the eight people in line.”
When the village headman heard this, he pulled on Hikoichi's sleeve and said,
"I don't know what to do, Hikoichi. No matter how I think about it, it's impossible to sit in the middle. Let's just apologize and get out of here.”
But Hikoichi grinned and said to His Highness,
“Your Highness, if I sit in the middle, is every way of sitting allowed?”
“Oh, that’s fine. But you can't be stacked on top of them.”
Hikoichi turned around and said to the village headman and the villagers,
“I hope you will all sit around me in a circle.”
Everyone sat in a circle with Hikoichi in the center, just as they were told.
With this, he can sit in the middle of the seven or eight people in line properly.
Seeing this, His Highness clapped his hands and said,
“Hmmm, well done! Hikoichi, this game is a win for you!”
The villagers, servants and the village headman were delighted by the words of the lord.
In this way, thanks to Hikoichi's wit, the village headman and villagers were able to have a delicious meal.
One point advice : Reversal in thinking
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