The Young Man Who Wanted to Get Rich
(translated from the original Japanese by the author)
Long, long ago, in a poor village, there lived a young man who wanted to get rich. Every day he worked in his father's vegetable garden, and every week he took the vegetables to the village market to sell them. But he hated farming, and he really hated vegetables!
One day, as the young man was selling his father's vegetables, he saw a beautiful woman whom he had never seen before give a glittering something to the village beggar. Dropping the vegetables, the young man who wanted to get rich rushed over to the beggar, but, when he got there, the beautiful woman was nowhere to be seen.
"Huh? Where did she go? Show me what she gave you!" he demanded of the beggar. And, grabbing the beggar's hand, the young man forced it open.
And what do you think was in the beggar's hand? Three tiny, strangely shaped gold coins without anything written on them. "At last!" the young man exclaimed. Just then, as he was about to snatch the coins from the beggar, he heard a scratching sound, looked up, and saw the beautiful woman.
Hmm... If I follow the beautiful woman, perhaps I will find her treasure, he thought—so he did.
The beautiful woman walked out of the village and into the forest. Then, near a cave, the beautiful woman looked around and again disappeared.
Huh? Again!? Hmm... That cave over there...
Just then, from a far away place, the young man heard the voice of a woman.
Heh? Is that her? But how...?
The young man ran quickly towards the voice, but by the time he arrived there was no one to be seen. Then, as he started back towards the cave, he again heard the voice.
Aha! It's a trick! The treasure is probably in that cave.
But, over there! He saw her! Again he ran towards her voice, but again when he got there there was no one to be seen. But this time he glimpsed a red tail disappearing into the underbrush.
"Ha-ha! A kitsune*! The treasure must certainly be in that cave!" And, so saying, he ran like the wind to the cave.
The young man quickly searched the cave, and then carefully looked all around it, but found nothing in the cave: neither fox, nor treasure, nor anything else. In front of the cave was a small, flowering plant with no flowers and only one bud, but, search as he might, he could find nothing else.
"Fool!" the young man said to himself at long last. "Why would a fox need gold coins? "Kitsune have no need of money!" And he left and returned to his house.
That evening, the flowering plant in front of the cave blossomed. Because it was very beautiful the fox came to admire it in the moonlight. Each petal was made of pure gold.
*Fox. I've left this word in Japanese, because the Japanese word for "fox" includes the idea that foxes can change shape—ours doesn't. Kitsune usually take the form of human beings so they can trick people, and most often become beautiful young women.