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Title: The Fisher-Boy Urashima
Author: Chamberlain, Basil Hall, 1850-1935 [Translator], Eitaku, 1843-1890 [Illustrator]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Fisher-Boy Urashima" ***

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Transcriber's Note: Text is heavily illustrated, so the illustration
tags within have been removed to avoid congestion.

       *       *       *       *       *







Long, long ago there lived on the coast of the sea of Japan a young
fisherman named Urashima, a kindly lad and clever with his rod and

Well, one day he went out in his boat to fish. But instead of catching
any fish, what do you think he caught? Why! a great big tortoise, with
a hard shell and such a funny wrinkled old face and a tiny tail. Now I
must tell you something which very likely you don't know; and that is
that tortoises always live a thousand years,--at least Japanese
tortoises do. So Urashima thought to himself: "A fish would do for my
dinner just as well as this tortoise,--in fact better. Why should I go
and kill the poor thing, and prevent it from enjoying itself for another
nine hundred and ninety-nine years? No, no! I won't be so cruel. I am
sure mother wouldn't like me to." And with these words, he threw the
tortoise back into the sea.

The next thing that happened was that Urashima went to sleep in his
boat; for it was one of those hot summer days when almost everybody
enjoys a nap of an afternoon. And as he slept, there came up from
beneath the waves a beautiful girl, who got into the boat and said: "I
am the daughter of the Sea-God, and I live with my father in the Dragon
Palace beyond the waves. It was not a tortoise that you caught just
now, and so kindly threw back into the water instead of killing it. It
was myself. My father the Sea-God had sent me to see whether you were
good or bad.

"We now know that you are a good, kind boy who doesn't like
to do cruel things; and so I have come to fetch you. You shall marry me,
if you like; and we will live happily together for a thousand years in
the Dragon Palace beyond the deep blue sea."

So Urashima took one oar, and the Sea-God's daughter took the other; and
they rowed, and they rowed, and they rowed till at last they came to the
Dragon Palace where the Sea-God lived and ruled as King over all the
dragons and the tortoises and the fishes.

Oh dear! what a lovely place it was! The walls of the Palace were of
coral, the trees had emeralds for leaves and rubies for berries, the
fishes' scales were of silver, and the dragons' tails of solid gold.
Just think of the very most beautiful, glittering things that you have
ever seen, and put them all together, and then you will know what this
Palace looked like. And it all belonged to Urashima; for was he not
the son-in-law of the Sea-God, the husband of the lovely Dragon

Well, they lived on happily for three years, wandering about every day
among the beautiful trees with emerald leaves and ruby berries. But one
morning Urashima said to his wife: "I am very happy here. Still I want
to go home and see my father and mother and brothers and sisters. Just
let me go for a short time, and I'll soon be back again." "I don't like
you to go," said she; "I am very much afraid that something dreadful
will happen. However, if you will go, there is no help for it. Only you
must take this box, and be very careful not to open it. If you open it,
you will never be able to come back here."

So Urashima promised to take great care of the box, and not to open it
on any account; and then, getting into his boat, he rowed off, and at
last landed on the shore of his own country.

But what had happened while he had been away? Where had his father's
cottage gone to? What had become of the village where he used to live?
The mountains indeed were there as before; but the trees on them had
been cut down. The little brook that ran close by his father's cottage
was still running; but there were no women washing clothes in it any
more. It seemed very strange that everything should have changed so
much in three short years. So as two men chanced to pass along the
beach, Urashima went up to them and said: "Can you tell me please
where Urashima's cottage, that used to stand here, has been moved
to?"--"Urashima?" said they; "why! it was four hundred years ago that
he was drowned out fishing. His parents, and his brothers, and their
grandchildren are all dead long ago. It is an old, old story. How can
you be so foolish as to ask after his cottage? It fell to pieces
hundreds of years ago."

Then it suddenly flashed across Urashima's mind that the Sea-God's
Palace beyond the waves, with its coral walls and its ruby fruits and
its dragons with tails of solid gold, must be part of fairy-land, and
that one day there was probably as long as a year in this world, so
that his three years in the Sea-God's Palace had really been hundreds
of years. Of course there was no use in staying at home, now that all
his friends were dead and buried, and even the village had passed away.
So Urashima was in a great hurry to get back to his wife, the Dragon
Princess beyond the sea. But which was the way? He couldn't find it
with no one to show it to him. "Perhaps," thought he, "if I open the box
which she gave me, I shall be able to find the way." So he disobeyed her
orders not to open the box,--or perhaps he forgot them, foolish boy that
he was. Anyhow he opened the box; and what do you think came out of it?
Nothing but a white cloud which floated away over the sea. Urashima
shouted to the cloud to stop, rushed about and screamed with sorrow; for
he remembered now what his wife had told him, and how, after opening the
box, he should never be able to go to the Sea-God's Palace again. But
soon he could neither run nor shout any more.

Suddenly his hair grew as white as snow, his face got wrinkled, and his
back bent like that of a very old man. Then his breath stopped short,
and he fell down dead on the beach.

Poor Urashima! He died because he had been foolish and disobedient. If
only he had done as he was told, he might have lived another thousand
years. Wouldn't you like to go and see the Dragon Palace beyond the
waves, where the Sea-God lives and rules as King over the Dragons and
the tortoises and the fishes, where the trees have emeralds for leaves
and rubies for berries, where the fishes' tails are of silver and the
dragons' tails all of solid gold?

_Printed by the Kobunsha in Tokyo, Japan._

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