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A Story for children age 4 to 6.

The boy who drew cats

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A long long time ago in a small country village in Japan Lived a poor farmer and his wife who were very good people. They had a number of children and found it hard to feed them all. The eldest son was strong enough when only 14 years old to help his father and the little girls helped their mother almost as soon as they could walk. But the youngest child, a little boy, did not seem to be fit for work. He was very clever, cleverer than all his brothers and sisters, but he was quite weak and small and people said that he could never grow very big. So his parents thought that it would be better for him to become a priest than to become a farmer. They took him with them to the village temple one day and asked the priest who lived there if he would have the little boy for his pupil and teach him all that a priest should know.

The old man spoke kindly to the lad and asked him some questions. So clever were the answers that the priest agreed to take the little fellow into the temple as an accolite and to educate him for the priesthood. The boy learned quickly what the old priest taught him and was very obedient in most things. But he had one fault, he liked to draw cats during study hours, and to draw cats when cats ought not to have been drawn at all. Whenever he found himself alone, he drew cats. He drew them on the margins of the priests book and on all the screens of the temple, on the walls and on the pillars. Several times the priest told him that this was not right, but he did not stop drawing cats. He drew them because he could not really help it. He had what is called the genius of an artist and just for that reason he was not quite fit to be an accolite. A good accolite should study books.

One day when he had drawn some very clever pictures of cats upon a paper screen, the old priest said severely: My boy you must go away from this temple at once. You will never make a good prest but perhaps you will become a good artist. Now let me give you a last piece of advice, and make sure you never forget it. Avoid large places at night. Keep to small. The boy did not know what the priest meant by saying, avoid large places, keep to small. He thought and thought while he was tiyin up his little bundle of clothes to go away, but he could not understand those words and he was afraid to speak to the priest anymore, except to say goodbye. He left the temple very sorrowfully and began to wonder what he should do. If he went straight home, he felt that his father would punish him for having been disobedient to the priest, so he was afraid to go home.


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