The Musical Curing of Mice

The cellist became a good player, learning from music-loving animals. Gorsch was the man who played the cello at the moving picture theater in town, but out of all his fellow musicians he was the worst player. He belonged to the Venus Orchestra, which was preparing for a performance at the town's concert hall, and the conductor always bullied Gorsch during rehearsal because of his bad playing.

Every day after coming home to the mill house where he lived, Gorsch would practice the music they had been rehearsing until late at night. One night, starting with a cat, different kinds of animals bagan to visit him in turn during his practice, to ask him to play the cello or to accompany them in their own musical practice. Gorsch was so frustrated at being belittled by the conductor that at first, he vented his irritation on the animals. But without realizing it, he gradually learned from the animals, who responded with enthusiasm to his music. In time, he became able to give a fine, expressive performance.

Whirling cat The first night, a tortoiseshell cat came to Gorsch and asked him to play Schumann's "Traumerei." But Gorsch was irritated, so instead he ferociously played a piece called "Tiger Hunt in India." This so startled the cat that it leapt up and down in astonishment.

Voice training for cuckoo The next night, a cuckoo came to him to receive voice training with cello accompaniment.The bird said it wanted to learn how to sing scales, but in actuality, Gorsch ended up being forced to play "cuckoo, cuckoo" repeatedly. Finally he got angry and shouted, "That's enough! If you don't get out I'll pluck your feathers and eat you for breakfast, you stupid bird!" The cuckoo was frightened into flying up against the window, hitting against it with its beak so that it bled.

Concert with a badger cub The third night, a little badger visited Gorsch. The badger's father had told him to "go to Mr. Gorsch" in order to learn how to play the side drum in time with the cello. Gorsch obligingly played the cello for this little animal.

The field mouse asked for the musical curing. The fourth night, a field mouse knocked at his door. She asked Gorsch to cure the sick baby mouse she had brought along with her. As Gorsch couldn't understand why the mother mouse was asking him to do such a thing, the mother mouse explained that all the animals--the rabbit's grandmother, the badger's father, and even the nasty old owl--got over their illnesses by resting under the floor of Gorsch's mill house. Listening to Gorsch's music seemed to improve their circulation, she explained. "They feel so much better. Some of them are cured on the spot, others after they get back home again." Gorsch then picked up the baby mouse, popped him through the hole in the cello, and began to play. Before long, the baby mouse got well and the mother mouse happily took him home.

Success of the concert On the night of the concert at the town hall, the members of the Venus Orchestra received a storm of applause for their performance. Upon being asked for an encore, the conductor told Gorsch to go play something for the audience. Gorsch thought he was being made a fool of, so he played "Tiger Hunt in India," as he had done to scare the cat. After finishing, he hurriedly took refuge in the musicians' room. But there he found the conductor, who said, "Gorsch, that was wonderful! That music may not be anything much, but you really kept us listening."
Material in quotation marks is
from Once and FOREVER, the tales of kenji miyazawa,
translated by John Bester, published by Kodansha International.

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