Long long ago, there was a lord who liked to listen to interesting stories.
Quite a few people in his territory had been invited to his castle to tell him stories.
Those people enjoyed telling stories.
However the Lord always interrupted them in the middle of their stories.
His favorite phrase was ‘It’s unbelievable.’
When he said this, the storytellers couldn’t finish their stories.
People became frustrated and reluctant to see the Lord.
No people wanted to visit the castle any more.
The Lord who liked listening to interesting stories felt lonely.
He had a sign put up in front of the castle.
“Anyone who tells an interesting story and can make the Lord say, ‘It’s unbelievable’ will get a gold coin as a reward.”
People who read the sign were excited.
Even those who had never told a story before were thinking up wild and fantastic stories.
One of them said to another,
“I hate to brag, but my story is really incredible. The Lord is sure to say ‘It’s unbelievable’.”
Another man said, “I’m sure I’ll be the winner. The story I’m going to tell is the funniest one I’ve ever made.”
They visited the castle to see the Lord with their stories.
All the storytellers, however, could finish telling their stories this time too, because the Lord never said his favorite phrase.
Actually he was about to say, ‘It’s unbelievable,’ many times but he could barely stop himself.
Having finished their stories, the storytellers were not satisfied.
Indeed they were disappointed not to get a reward, a gold coin.
They left there empty handed, and began to stay away from the castle.
The Lord who really wanted to listen to interesting stories was also disappointed.
He had another sign put up in front of the castle.
“Anyone who tells an interesting story and can make the Lord say’It’s unbelievable’ will get two gold coins as a reward.”
One day, an old man read the sign, and came to the castle to tell a story to the Lord.
He was shown to the Lord’s room.
“It’s an interesting story, but you may think it’s unbelievable, so you must be very careful,”
he warned the Lord.
After breathing deeply, the old man started to tell his story from this line.
This is a story about a lord who likes hunting very much.”
This Lord himself liked hunting, so he became interested from the beginning of the story.
The old man continued,
“One day he went hunting with his men.
On his way, a kite(*1) hovered, and circled over the lord’s party.
Then it dropped its droppings on the lord’s hakamas(*2).”
The Lord, who listened to the old man’s story attentively, covered his mouth with his hands to avoid saying his favorite phrase.
The old man glanced at him and continued,
“One of his men serving by his side said to the lord,
‘It’s unpardonable. I’ll shoot it with an arrow, if you allow me.’
The lord said to him with an embarrassed smile,
‘You don’t need to shoot it. It’s only a small matter. But I want to change my hakamas.’
After changing his hakamas, the lord’s party kept going their way as if nothing had happened.
Soon the lord noticed that the kite came flying again, hovered and circled over them.
He had a premonition of something happening.
Then once again it dropped its droppings on the lord’s kimono.”
‘It’s unbelievable,’ the Lord thought, but said nothing.
Instead he tightly covered his mouth with his hands, so that he could avoid saying his phrase unintentionally.
The old man glanced at him, and continued,
“‘It’s unpardonable. I’ll shoot it with an arrow, if you allow me,’ the man serving by his side said to the lord.
The lord said to him again with a forced smile,
‘You don’t need to shoot it. It’s only a small matter. But I want to change my kimonos.’
After changing his kimonos, the lord’s party kept going their way as if nothing had happened.
Soon the lord again noticed the kite as it flew, hovered, and circled over them.
He had a premonition of something bad happening.
Then it dropped its droppings right on the lord’s head.”
The Lord’s face began to change color and he covered his mouth more tightly with his hands.
This time the storyteller noticed the Lord groan.
He waited a while, but he couldn’t hear ‘It’s unbelievable’.
So he continued,
‘It’s very unpardonable. I’ll shoot it with an arrow at once, if you allow me,’ said the man serving by his side a bit loudly.
The lord looked unpleasant but said calmly,
‘You don’t need to kill it. But I do mind a dirty droppings on my head so I want to change heads.’
The second he finished the words, he drew his sword and cut his head off by himself.
He replaced it with the new head that the man serving by his side handed to him.”
“What a story! It’s unbelievable!”
The Lord stood up in anger and wanted to grab the old man by his kimono.
He might feel as if the hero in the story was he himself.
The old man gave him a smile of great satisfaction, and said,
“Thank you very much. I just needed that phrase! I’ll finally have two gold coins!”