This is a welcome reprieve after the past two chapters of intense drama – but hardly pointless.

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Exams are finished, so they have a short vacation on which to do stuff and hopefully have some fun before the next term begins.  Tohru is pulled aside by the teacher, and Yuki asks her what it was about.

Tohru: Ah…um…I’m going to work hard at my job! Go, work, go!

Well that’s not at all suspicious, Tohru.

Anyhow, Momiji goes home with her (she works at a building owned by his father, if you recall).

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Kyo is as grumpy as usual toward Momiji.

Kyo: Y’know, your 24/7 cheerfulness always gets on my nerves…

Momiji: Waah! Kyo is bullying me!

Tohru: Momiji-kun, are you hungry?

Momiji: You bet I am!

I’m pretty sure that’s just Momiji’s way of giving Kyo a hard time (because giving Kyo a hard time is practically a sport in the Sohma family).

Anyhow, Momiji presents a gift to Tohru in the form of a trip to a hot spring.  The occasion is White Day, something of a Japanese commercial holiday a month after Valentine’s (March 14) where the boys who got chocolate for Valentine’s are expected to give a return gift (traditionally white chocolate).  Another fun fact: Two months after Valentine’s Day (April 14) is Black Day, when single people go out dressed in black and order Pepsi.

Tohru is understandably blindsided by such an expensive gift (they are a wealthy family, so she’ll have to get used to extravagant presents), but it doesn’t take too much wheedling from Momiji for her to accept.  Then Momiji tries to rope Yuki and Kyo into the trip, but Kyo isn’t having it.

Shigure: Sorry to change the subject, but I just remembered – Tohru-kun, I heard you haven’t paid last month’s deposit for the class trip yet? Your grandfather called me after getting a call from your teacher. He offered to pay it for you.

Tohru: No, I can’t let him do that…um, there was a lot going on last month. But it’s okay. I can take care of it with this month’s paycheck.

And then the boys realize that’s because of all the money she spent on Valentine’s chocolate.

Yuki: Why didn’t we realize?

Kyo: Cause she’s always smiling! How could we notice? I don’t know if she felt obliged to give us chocolate, but it only ended up making things harder on her! […] That dope! One of these days, she’s gonna be in hot water! Hell, she’ll have money problems her whole life!

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Then Momiji tells them a story he heard in the class: “The Most Foolish Traveler in the World”.

A foolish traveler is on a journey. “Foolish” because he’s easily tricked by the people he meets in each town. On this trip he’s tricked out of his money, his clothes, even his shoes. The traveler is so foolish that whenever the townspeople lie, saying “this will help”, tears roll down his cheeks and he says, “I’m so happy for you!” Finally, he has no clothing left. The traveler is so embarrassed that he continues his journey only through forests. He meets monsters who live in the woods. Monsters who use clever words on the traveler so they can eat him. Of course, the traveler is so dumb that he willingly gives an arm and a leg. In the end, the traveler is just a head. He gives his eyes to one final monster. As the monster munches on his eyeballs, he says, “Thank you. To show my gratitude, I’ll leave you with a present.” But that’s a lie too. The present is just a slip of paper with the word “idiot” on it. Still, the traveler sobs tearfully through his sockets. “Thank you, thank you! No one’s ever given me a present before! This makes me so happy. Thank you, thank you!” The tears keep pouring out of his empty eye sockets. And suddenly, he dies.

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Momiji: Everyone laughed. I just closed my eyes and thought about the traveler. I thought about the traveler who was tricked into giving everything away until he was just a head that cried tears of gratitude. And then I thought, “Oh, what a wonderful man he was.” Loss, hardships, dwelling on them is pointless. The traveler certainly didn’t fret about them. He must have thought, “What’s foolish to some people isn’t foolish to me. They may think they’re tricking me, but they’re not. I just really want to make other people happy.” Yuki? Kyo? Do you still think he was stupid?

Evidently Momiji was motivated by the story to give Tohru a gift, determined to show his appreciation for her (not to mention offer her a little much-needed rest and relaxation).  Kyo gets the point, too.

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Kyo: The hot spring. I’ll go too. It’s cause I don’t have a return gift or nothing prepared for you. So instead, I’ll go with and put up with yucky Yuki. You may not give a damn whether I tag along or not, but…

Tohru: No, of course I care! It’s great that you’re going too! It’ll be a lot more fun this way! Thank you. I’m so happy. Thank you.

Kyo: You really are something else.

Until next time…

One thought on “Chapter 17: The Foolish Traveler

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