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A Broken Promise

(A Japanese Folk Tale)

A folk tale by Mami Takenaka

Long, long ago, some children were playing at a seaside when they found a turtle. They began to bully the turtle. After a while, a young man came and said to them, "Stop it!" They went away soon. "I really appreciate your kindness. I really would like to invite you to a wonderful palace now, " the turtle said.

As soon as he rode on the back of the turtle, he was taken to the secret palace in the sea. When he arrived at the palace, he was very surprised and said to the turtle, "What a nice place!" The palace was very beautiful and the king of the turtles gave him a feast. He had never seen such a good feast. He received a warm welcome there. He was very satisfied with everything. He thought that the nice place like this was nowhere to be found.

He said to the turtle, "Thank you, I am glad to have met you." The turtle said, "I am going to give you two boxes, but you can only open one of the boxes. You must not open both." "Don't forget it," the turtle warned him. "All right. I will open only one. I swear." he promised. A large crowd sent him off, and he went back to his land.

After he went back home, he opened the bigger of the two boxes. To his amazement, there was a great deal of gold in the box. "Heaven!" he said loudly. At once he became rich. He thought in his mind, "The other one must also be expensive!" He could not stand not opening the box any longer. He broke the promise and opened the other box. As soon as he opened the box, he became an old man. His hair turned to white and his face full of wrinkles. His figure looked like an old man over eighty years old. It all happened in a moment. After that he regretted what he did. "Just because I broke the promise..." he said, but it was too late.


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