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Title: Japanese Fairy Tales
Author: James, Grace
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 "Japanese Fairy Tales" ***

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[Illustration: THE MOON MAIDEN _Frontispiece._]




Illustrations by Warwick Goble



These tales and legends have been collected from many sources. Some of
them have been selected from the _Ko-ji-ki_, or _Record of Ancient
Matters_, which contains the mythology of Japan. Many are told from
memory, being relics of childish days, originally heard from the lips of
a school-fellow or a nurse. Certain of them, again, form favourite
subjects for representation upon the Japanese stage. A number of the
stories now gathered together have been translated into English long ere
this, and have appeared in this country in one form or another; others
are probably new to an English public.

Thanks are due to Marcus B. Huish, Esq., who has allowed his story, “The
Espousal of the Rat’s Daughter,” to be included in this collection; and
to Mrs. T. H. James for permission to use her version of “The Matsuyama



   1. GREEN WILLOW                                 1

   2. THE FLUTE                                   10

   3. THE TEA-KETTLE                              17

   4. THE PEONY LANTERN                           25


   6. THE GOOD THUNDER                            50

   7. THE BLACK BOWL                              56

   8. THE STAR LOVERS                             65

   9. HORAIZAN                                    71

  10. REFLECTIONS                                 78

  11. THE STORY OF SUSA, THE IMPETUOUS            89

  12. THE WIND IN THE PINE TREE                  101

  13. FLOWER OF THE PEONY                        108

  14. THE MALLET                                 116

  15. THE BELL OF DŌJŌJI                        127

  16. THE MAIDEN OF UNAI                         134

  17. THE ROBE OF FEATHERS                       142

  18. THE SINGING BIRD OF HEAVEN                 148

  19. THE COLD LADY                              153

  20. THE FIRE QUEST                             161

  21. A LEGEND OF KWANNON                        165


  23. THE LAND OF YOMI                           180



  26. THE JELLY-FISH TAKES A JOURNEY             204

  27. URASHIMA                                   209

  28. TAMAMO, THE FOX MAIDEN                     215

  29. MOMOTARO                                   223

  30. THE MATSUYAMA MIRROR                       228

  31. BROKEN IMAGES                              233

  32. THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW                     238

  33. THE NURSE                                  243

  34. THE BEAUTIFUL DANCER OF YEDO               250

  35. HANA-SAKA-JIJI                             258

  36. THE MOON MAIDEN                            264

  37. KARMA                                      270



  The Moon Maiden                      _Frontispiece_

                                           FACE PAGE

  The Flute                                       10

  The Peony Lantern                               25

  The Sea King and the Magic Jewels               45

  The Star Lovers                                 65

  Reflections                                     78

  The Story of Susa, the Impetuous                99

  The Bell of Dōjōji                             127

  The Singing Bird of Heaven                     148

  A Legend of Kwannon                            165

  The Espousal of the Rat’s Daughter             171

  The Strange Story of the Golden Comb           191

  The Matsuyama Mirror                           228

  The Nurse                                      243

  The Beautiful Dancer of Yedo                   250

  Karma                                          270



Tomodata, the young _samurai_, owed allegiance to the Lord of Noto. He
was a soldier, a courtier, and a poet. He had a sweet voice and a
beautiful face, a noble form and a very winning address. He was a
graceful dancer, and excelled in every manly sport. He was wealthy and
generous and kind. He was beloved by rich and by poor.

Now his _daimyo_, the Lord of Noto, wanted a man to undertake a mission
of trust. He chose Tomodata, and called him to his presence.

“Are you loyal?” said the _daimyo_.

“My lord, you know it,” answered Tomodata.

“Do you love me, then?” asked the _daimyo_.

“Ay, my good lord,” said Tomodata, kneeling before him.

“Then carry my message,” said the _daimyo_. “Ride and do not spare your
beast. Ride straight, and fear not the mountains nor the enemies’
country. Stay not for storm nor any other thing. Lose your life; but
betray not your trust. Above all, do not look any maid between the eyes.
Ride, and bring me word again quickly.”

Thus spoke the Lord of Noto.

So Tomodata got him to horse, and away he rode upon his quest. Obedient
to his lord’s commands, he spared not his good beast. He rode straight,
and was not afraid of the steep mountain passes nor of the enemies’
country. Ere he had been three days upon the road the autumn tempest
burst, for it was the ninth month. Down poured the rain in a torrent.
Tomodata bowed his head and rode on. The wind howled in the pine-tree
branches. It blew a typhoon. The good horse trembled and could scarcely
keep its feet, but Tomodata spoke to it and urged it on. His own cloak
he drew close about him and held it so that it might not blow away, and
in this wise he rode on.

The fierce storm swept away many a familiar landmark of the road, and
buffeted the _samurai_ so that he became weary almost to fainting.
Noontide was as dark as twilight, twilight was as dark as night, and
when night fell it was as black as the night of Yomi, where lost souls
wander and cry. By this time Tomodata had lost his way in a wild, lonely
place, where, as it seemed to him, no human soul inhabited. His horse
could carry him no longer, and he wandered on foot through bogs and
marshes, through rocky and thorny tracks, until he fell into deep

“Alack!” he cried, “must I die in this wilderness and the quest of the
Lord of Noto be unfulfilled?”

At this moment the great winds blew away the clouds of the sky, so that
the moon shone very brightly forth, and by the sudden light Tomodata saw
a little hill on his right hand. Upon the hill was a small thatched
cottage, and before the cottage grew three green weeping-willow trees.

“Now, indeed, the gods be thanked!” said Tomodata, and he climbed the
hill in no time. Light shone from the chinks of the cottage door, and
smoke curled out of a hole in the roof. The three willow trees swayed
and flung out their green streamers in the wind. Tomodata threw his
horse’s rein over a branch of one of them, and called for admittance to
the longed-for shelter.

At once the cottage door was opened by an old woman, very poorly but
neatly clad.

“Who rides abroad upon such a night?” she asked, “and what wills he

“I am a weary traveller, lost and benighted upon your lonely moor. My
name is Tomodata. I am a _samurai_ in the service of the Lord of Noto,
upon whose business I ride. Show me hospitality for the love of the
gods. I crave food and shelter for myself and my horse.”

As the young man stood speaking the water streamed from his garments. He
reeled a little, and put out a hand to hold on by the side-post of the

“Come in, come in, young sir!” cried the old woman, full of pity. “Come
in to the warm fire. You are very welcome. We have but coarse fare to
offer, but it shall be set before you with great good-will. As to your
horse, I see you have delivered him to my daughter; he is in good

At this Tomodata turned sharply round. Just behind him, in the dim
light, stood a very young girl with the horse’s rein thrown over her
arm. Her garments were blown about and her long loose hair streamed out
upon the wind. The _samurai_ wondered how she had come there. Then the
old woman drew him into the cottage and shut the door. Before the fire
sat the good man of the house, and the two old people did the very best
they could for Tomodata. They gave him dry garments, comforted him with
hot rice wine, and quickly prepared a good supper for him.

Presently the daughter of the house came in, and retired behind a screen
to comb her hair and to dress afresh. Then she came forth to wait upon
him. She wore a blue robe of homespun cotton. Her feet were bare. Her
hair was not tied nor confined in any way, but lay along her smooth
cheeks, and hung, straight and long and black, to her very knees. She
was slender and graceful. Tomodata judged her to be about fifteen years
old, and knew well that she was the fairest maiden he had ever seen.

At length she knelt at his side to pour wine into his cup. She held the
wine-bottle in two hands and bent her head. Tomodata turned to look at
her. When she had made an end of pouring the wine and had set down the
bottle, their glances met, and Tomodata looked at her full between the
eyes, for he forgot altogether the warning of his _daimyo_, the Lord of

“Maiden,” he said, “what is your name?”

She answered: “They call me the Green Willow.”

“The dearest name on earth,” he said, and again he looked her between
the eyes. And because he looked so long her face grew rosy red, from
chin to forehead, and though she smiled her eyes filled with tears.

Ah me, for the Lord of Noto’s quest!

Then Tomodata made this little song:

    “Long-haired maiden, do you know
     That with the red dawn I must go?
     Do you wish me far away?
     Cruel long-haired maiden, say--
     Long-haired maiden, if you know
     That with the red dawn I must go,
     Why, oh why, do you blush so?”

And the maiden, the Green Willow, answered:

    “The dawn comes if I will or no;
     Never leave me, never go.
     My sleeve shall hide the blush away.
     The dawn comes if I will or no;
     Never leave me, never go.
     Lord, I lift my long sleeve so....”

“Oh, Green Willow, Green Willow ...” sighed Tomodata.

That night he lay before the fire--still, but with wide eyes, for no
sleep came to him though he was weary. He was sick for love of the Green
Willow. Yet by the rules of his service he was bound in honour to think
of no such thing. Moreover, he had the quest of the Lord of Noto that
lay heavy on his heart, and he longed to keep truth and loyalty.

At the first peep of day he rose up. He looked upon the kind old man who
had been his host, and left a purse of gold at his side as he slept. The
maiden and her mother lay behind the screen.

Tomodata saddled and bridled his horse, and mounting, rode slowly away
through the mist of the early morning. The storm was quite over and it
was as still as Paradise. The green grass and the leaves shone with the
wet. The sky was clear, and the path very bright with autumn flowers;
but Tomodata was sad.

When the sunlight streamed across his saddlebow, “Ah, Green Willow,
Green Willow,” he sighed; and at noontide it was “Green Willow, Green
Willow”; and “Green Willow, Green Willow,” when the twilight fell. That
night he lay in a deserted shrine, and the place was so holy that in
spite of all he slept from midnight till the dawn. Then he rose, having
it in his mind to wash himself in a cold stream that flowed near by, so
as to go refreshed upon his journey; but he was stopped upon the
shrine’s threshold. There lay the Green Willow, prone upon the ground. A
slender thing she lay, face downwards, with her black hair flung about
her. She lifted a hand and held Tomodata by the sleeve. “My lord, my
lord,” she said, and fell to sobbing piteously.

He took her in his arms without a word, and soon he set her on his horse
before him, and together they rode the livelong day. It was little they
recked of the road they went, for all the while they looked into each
other’s eyes. The heat and the cold were nothing to them. They felt not
the sun nor the rain; of truth or falsehood they thought nothing at all;
nor of filial piety, nor of the Lord of Noto’s quest, nor of honour nor
plighted word. They knew but the one thing. Alas, for the ways of love!

At last they came to an unknown city, where they stayed. Tomodata
carried gold and jewels in his girdle, so they found a house built of
white wood, spread with sweet white mats. In every dim room there could
be heard the sound of the garden waterfall, whilst the swallow flitted
across and across the paper lattice. Here they dwelt, knowing but the
one thing. Here they dwelt three years of happy days, and for Tomodata
and the Green Willow the years were like garlands of sweet flowers.

In the autumn of the third year it chanced that the two of them went
forth into the garden at dusk, for they had a wish to see the round moon
rise; and as they watched, the Green Willow began to shake and shiver.

“My dear,” said Tomodata, “you shake and shiver; and it is no wonder,
the night wind is chill. Come in.” And he put his arm around her.

At this she gave a long and pitiful cry, very loud and full of agony,
and when she had uttered the cry she failed, and dropped her head upon
her love’s breast.

“Tomodata,” she whispered, “say a prayer for me; I die.”

“Oh, say not so, my sweet, my sweet! You are but weary; you are faint.”

He carried her to the stream’s side, where the iris grew like swords,
and the lotus-leaves like shields, and laved her forehead with water. He
said: “What is it, my dear? Look up and live.”

“The tree,” she moaned, “the tree ... they have cut down my tree.
Remember the Green Willow.”

With that she slipped, as it seemed, from his arms to his feet; and he,
casting himself upon the ground, found only silken garments, bright
coloured, warm and sweet, and straw sandals, scarlet-thonged.

In after years, when Tomodata was a holy man, he travelled from shrine
to shrine, painfully upon his feet, and acquired much merit.

Once, at nightfall, he found himself upon a lonely moor. On his right
hand he beheld a little hill, and on it the sad ruins of a poor thatched
cottage. The door swung to and fro with broken latch and creaking hinge.
Before it stood three old stumps of willow trees that had long since
been cut down. Tomodata stood for a long time still and silent. Then he
sang gently to himself:

    “Long-haired maiden, do you know
     That with the red dawn I must go?
     Do you wish me far away?
     Cruel long-haired maiden, say--
     Long-haired maiden, if you know
     That with the red dawn I must go,
     Why, oh why, do you blush so?”

“Ah, foolish song! The gods forgive me.... I should have recited the
Holy Sutra for the Dead,” said Tomodata.



Long since, there lived in Yedo a gentleman of good lineage and very
honest conversation. His wife was a gentle and loving lady. To his
secret grief, she bore him no sons. But a daughter she did give him,
whom they called O’Yoné, which, being interpreted, is “Rice in the ear.”
Each of them loved this child more than life, and guarded her as the
apple of their eye. And the child grew up red and white, and long-eyed,
straight and slender as the green bamboo.

When O’Yoné was twelve years old, her mother drooped with the fall of
the year, sickened, and pined, and ere the red had faded from the leaves
of the maples she was dead and shrouded and laid in the earth. The
husband was wild in his grief. He cried aloud, he beat his breast, he
lay upon the ground and refused comfort, and for days he neither broke
his fast nor slept. The child was quite silent.

[Illustration: The Flute.--_P. 10._]

Time passed by. The man perforce went about his business. The snows of
winter fell and covered his wife’s grave. The beaten pathway from his
house to the dwelling of the dead was snow also, undisturbed save for
the faint prints of a child’s sandalled feet. In the spring-time he
girded up his robe and went forth to see the cherry blossom, making
merry enough, and writing a poem upon gilded paper, which he hung to a
cherry-tree branch to flutter in the wind. The poem was in praise of the
spring and of _saké_. Later, he planted the orange lily of
forgetfulness, and thought of his wife no more. But the child

Before the year was out he brought a new bride home, a woman with a fair
face and a black heart. But the man, poor fool, was happy, and commended
his child to her, and believed that all was well.

Now because her father loved O’Yoné, her stepmother hated her with a
jealous and deadly hatred, and every day she dealt cruelly by the child,
whose gentle ways and patience only angered her the more. But because of
her father’s presence she did not dare to do O’Yoné any great ill;
therefore she waited, biding her time. The poor child passed her days
and her nights in torment and horrible fear. But of these things she
said not a word to her father. Such is the manner of children.

Now, after some time, it chanced that the man was called away by his
business to a distant city. Kioto was the name of the city, and from
Yedo it is many days’ journey on foot or on horseback. Howbeit, go the
man needs must, and stay there three moons or more. Therefore he made
ready, and equipped himself, and his servants that were to go with him,
with all things needful; and so came to the last night before his
departure, which was to be very early in the morning.

He called O’Yoné to him and said: “Come here, then, my dear little
daughter.” So O’Yoné went and knelt before him.

“What gift shall I bring you home from Kioto?” he said.

But she hung her head and did not answer.

“Answer, then, rude little one,” he bade her. “Shall it be a golden fan,
or a roll of silk, or a new _obi_ of red brocade, or a great battledore
with images upon it and many light-feathered shuttlecocks?”

Then she burst into bitter weeping, and he took her upon his knees to
soothe her. But she hid her face with her sleeves and cried as if her
heart would break. And, “O father, father, father,” she said, “do not go
away--do not go away!”

“But, my sweet, I needs must,” he answered, “and soon I shall be
back--so soon, scarcely it will seem that I am gone, when I shall be
here again with fair gifts in my hand.”

“Father, take me with you,” she said.

“Alas, what a great way for a little girl! Will you walk on your feet,
my little pilgrim, or mount a pack-horse? And how would you fare in the
inns of Kioto? Nay, my dear, stay; it is but for a little time, and your
kind mother will be with you.”

She shuddered in his arms.

“Father, if you go, you will never see me more.”

Then the father felt a sudden chill about his heart, that gave him
pause. But he would not heed it. What! Must he, a strong man grown, be
swayed by a child’s fancies? He put O’Yoné gently from him, and she
slipped away as silently as a shadow.

But in the morning she came to him before sunrise with a little flute in
her hand, fashioned of bamboo and smoothly polished. “I made it myself,”
she said, “from a bamboo in the grove that is behind our garden. I made
it for you. As you cannot take me with you, take the little flute,
honourable father. Play on it sometimes, if you will, and think of me.”
Then she wrapped it in a handkerchief of white silk, lined with scarlet,
and wound a scarlet cord about it, and gave it to her father, who put it
in his sleeve. After this he departed and went his way, taking the road
to Kioto. As he went he looked back thrice, and beheld his child,
standing at the gate, looking after him. Then the road turned and he saw
her no more.

The city of Kioto was passing great and beautiful, and so the father of
O’Yoné found it. And what with his business during the day, which sped
very well, and his pleasure in the evening, and his sound sleep at
night, the time passed merrily, and small thought he gave to Yedo, to
his home, or to his child. Two moons passed, and three, and he made no
plans for return.

One evening he was making ready to go forth to a great supper of his
friends, and as he searched in his chest for certain brave silken
_hakama_ which he intended to wear as an honour to the feast, he came
upon the little flute, which had lain hidden all this time in the sleeve
of his travelling dress. He drew it forth from its red and white
handkerchief, and as he did so, felt strangely cold with an icy chill
that crept about his heart. He hung over the live charcoal of the
_hibachi_ as one in a dream. He put the flute to his lips, when there
came from it a long-drawn wail.

He dropped it hastily upon the mats and clapped his hands for his
servant, and told him he would not go forth that night. He was not well,
he would be alone. After a long time he reached out his hand for the
flute. Again that long, melancholy cry. He shook from head to foot, but
he blew into the flute. “Come back to Yedo ... come back to Yedo....
Father! Father!” The quavering childish voice rose to a shriek and then

A horrible foreboding now took possession of the man, and he was as one
beside himself. He flung himself from the house and from the city, and
journeyed day and night, denying himself sleep and food. So pale was he
and wild that the people deemed him a madman and fled from him, or
pitied him as the afflicted of the gods. At last he came to his
journey’s end, travel-stained from head to heel, with bleeding feet and
half-dead of weariness.

His wife met him in the gate.

He said: “Where is the child?”

“The child...?” she answered.

“Ay, the child--my child ... where is she?” he cried in an agony.

The woman laughed: “Nay, my lord, how should I know? She is within at
her books, or she is in the garden, or she is asleep, or mayhap she has
gone forth with her playmates, or ...”

He said: “Enough; no more of this. Come, where is my child?”

Then she was afraid. And, “In the Bamboo Grove,” she said, looking at
him with wide eyes.

There the man ran, and sought O’Yoné among the green stems of the
bamboos. But he did not find her. He called, “Yoné! Yoné!” and again,
“Yoné! Yoné!” But he had no answer; only the wind sighed in the dry
bamboo leaves. Then he felt in his sleeve and brought forth the little
flute, and very tenderly put it to his lips. There was a faint sighing
sound. Then a voice spoke, thin and pitiful:

“Father, dear father, my wicked stepmother killed me. Three moons since
she killed me. She buried me in the clearing of the Bamboo Grove. You
may find my bones. As for me, you will never see me any more--you will
never see me more....”

       *       *       *       *       *

With his own two-handed sword the man did justice, and slew his wicked
wife, avenging the death of his innocent child. Then he dressed himself
in coarse white raiment, with a great rice-straw hat that shadowed his
face. And he took a staff and a straw rain-coat and bound sandals on
his feet, and thus he set forth upon a pilgrimage to the holy places of

And he carried the little flute with him, in a fold of his garment, upon
his breast.



Long ago, as I’ve heard tell, there dwelt at the temple of Morinji, in
the Province of Kotsuke, a holy priest.

Now there were three things about this reverend man. First, he was
wrapped up in meditations and observances and forms and doctrines. He
was a great one for the Sacred Sutras, and knew strange and mystical
things. Then he had a fine exquisite taste of his own, and nothing
pleased him so much as the ancient tea ceremony of the _Cha-no-yu_; and
for the third thing about him, he knew both sides of a copper coin well
enough and loved a bargain.

None so pleased as he when he happened upon an ancient tea-kettle, lying
rusty and dirty and half-forgotten in a corner of a poor shop in a back
street of his town.

“An ugly bit of old metal,” says the holy man to the shopkeeper; “but it
will do well enough to boil my humble drop of water of an evening. I’ll
give you three _rin_ for it.” This he did and took the kettle home,
rejoicing; for it was of bronze, fine work, the very thing for the

A novice cleaned and scoured the tea-kettle, and it came out as pretty
as you please. The priest turned it this way and that, and upside down,
looked into it, tapped it with his finger-nail. He smiled. “A bargain,”
he cried, “a bargain!” and rubbed his hands. He set the kettle upon a
box covered over with a purple cloth, and looked at it so long that
first he was fain to rub his eyes many times, and then to close them
altogether. His head dropped forward and he slept.

And then, believe me, the wonderful thing happened. The tea-kettle
moved, though no hand was near it. A hairy head, with two bright eyes,
looked out of the spout. The lid jumped up and down. Four brown and
hairy paws appeared, and a fine bushy tail. In a minute the kettle was
down from the box and going round and round looking at things.

“A very comfortable room, to be sure,” says the tea-kettle.

Pleased enough to find itself so well lodged, it soon began to dance and
to caper nimbly and to sing at the top of its voice. Three or four
novices were studying in the next room. “The old man is lively,” they
said; “only hark to him. What can he be at?” And they laughed in their

Heaven’s mercy, the noise that the tea-kettle made! Bang! bang! Thud!
thud! thud!

The novices soon stopped laughing. One of them slid aside the
_kara-kami_ and peeped through.

“Arah, the devil and all’s in it!” he cried. “Here’s the master’s old
tea-kettle turned into a sort of a badger. The gods protect us from
witchcraft, or for certain we shall be lost!”

“And I scoured it not an hour since,” said another novice, and he fell
to reciting the Holy Sutras on his knees.

A third laughed. “I’m for a nearer view of the hobgoblin,” he said.

So the lot of them left their books in a twinkling, and gave chase to
the tea-kettle to catch it. But could they come up with the tea-kettle?
Not a bit of it. It danced and it leapt and it flew up into the air. The
novices rushed here and there, slipping upon the mats. They grew hot.
They grew breathless.

“Ha, ha! Ha, ha!” laughed the tea-kettle; and “Catch me if you can!”
laughed the wonderful tea-kettle.

Presently the priest awoke, all rosy, the holy man.

“And what’s the meaning of this racket,” he says, “disturbing me at my
holy meditations and all?”

“Master, master,” cry the novices, panting and mopping their brows,
“your tea-kettle is bewitched. It was a badger, no less. And the dance
it has been giving us, you’d never believe!”

“Stuff and nonsense,” says the priest; “bewitched? Not a bit of it.
There it rests on its box, good quiet thing, just where I put it.”

Sure enough, so it did, looking as hard and cold and innocent as you
please. There was not a hair of a badger near it. It was the novices
that looked foolish.

“A likely story indeed,” says the priest. “I have heard of the pestle
that took wings to itself and flew away, parting company with the
mortar. That is easily to be understood by any man. But a kettle that
turned into a badger--no, no! To your books, my sons, and pray to be
preserved from the perils of illusion.”

That very night the holy man filled the kettle with water from the
spring and set it on the _hibachi_ to boil for his cup of tea. When the
water began to boil--

“Ai! Ai!” the kettle cried; “Ai! Ai! The heat of the Great Hell!” And it
lost no time at all, but hopped off the fire as quick as you please.

“Sorcery!” cried the priest. “Black magic! A devil! A devil! A devil!
Mercy on me! Help! Help! Help!” He was frightened out of his wits, the
dear good man. All the novices came running to see what was the matter.

“The tea-kettle is bewitched,” he gasped; “it was a badger, assuredly it
was a badger ... it both speaks and leaps about the room.”

“Nay, master,” said a novice, “see where it rests upon its box, good
quiet thing.”

And sure enough, so it did.

“Most reverend sir,” said the novice, “let us all pray to be preserved
from the perils of illusion.”

The priest sold the tea-kettle to a tinker and got for it twenty copper

“It’s a mighty fine bit of bronze,” says the priest. “Mind, I’m giving
it away to you, I’m sure I cannot tell what for.” Ah, he was the one for
a bargain! The tinker was a happy man and carried home the kettle. He
turned it this way and that, and upside down, and looked into it.

“A pretty piece,” says the tinker; “a very good bargain.” And when he
went to bed that night he put the kettle by him, to see it first thing
in the morning.

He awoke at midnight and fell to looking at the kettle by the bright
light of the moon.

Presently it moved, though there was no hand near it.

“Strange,” said the tinker; but he was a man who took things as they

A hairy head, with two bright eyes, looked out of the kettle’s spout.
The lid jumped up and down. Four brown and hairy paws appeared, and a
fine bushy tail. It came quite close to the tinker and laid a paw upon

“Well?” says the tinker.

“I am not wicked,” says the tea-kettle.

“No,” says the tinker.

“But I like to be well treated. I am a badger tea-kettle.”

“So it seems,” says the tinker.

“At the temple they called me names, and beat me and set me on the fire.
I couldn’t stand it, you know.”

“I like your spirit,” says the tinker.

“I think I shall settle down with you.”

“Shall I keep you in a lacquer box?” says the tinker.

“Not a bit of it, keep me with you; let us have a talk now and again. I
am very fond of a pipe. I like rice to eat, and beans and sweet things.”

“A cup of _saké_ sometimes?” says the tinker.

“Well, yes, now you mention it.”

“I’m willing,” says the tinker.

“Thank you kindly,” says the tea-kettle; “and, as a beginning, would you
object to my sharing your bed? The night has turned a little chilly.”

“Not the least in the world,” says the tinker.

The tinker and the tea-kettle became the best of friends. They ate and
talked together. The kettle knew a thing or two and was very good

One day: “Are you poor?” says the kettle.

“Yes,” says the tinker, “middling poor.”

“Well, I have a happy thought. For a tea-kettle, I am
out-of-the-way--really very accomplished.”

“I believe you,” says the tinker.

“My name is _Bumbuku-Chagama_; I am the very prince of Badger

“Your servant, my lord,” says the tinker.

“If you’ll take my advice,” says the tea-kettle, “you’ll carry me round
as a show; I really am out-of-the-way, and it’s my opinion you’d make a
mint of money.”

“That would be hard work for you, my dear _Bumbuku_,” says the tinker.

“Not at all; let us start forthwith,” says the tea-kettle.

So they did. The tinker bought hangings for a theatre, and he called the
show _Bumbuku-Chagama_. How the people flocked to see the fun! For the
wonderful and most accomplished tea-kettle danced and sang, and walked
the tight rope as to the manner born. It played such tricks and had such
droll ways that the people laughed till their sides ached. It was a
treat to see the tea-kettle bow as gracefully as a lord and thank the
people for their patience.

The _Bumbuku-Chagama_ was the talk of the country-side, and all the
gentry came to see it as well as the commonalty. As for the tinker, he
waved a fan and took the money. You may believe that he grew fat and
rich. He even went to Court, where the great ladies and the royal
princesses made much of the wonderful tea-kettle.

At last the tinker retired from business, and to him the tea-kettle came
with tears in its bright eyes.

“I’m much afraid it’s time to leave you,” it says.

“Now, don’t say that, _Bumbuku_, dear,” says the tinker. “We’ll be so
happy together now we are rich.”

“I’ve come to the end of my time,” says the tea-kettle. “You’ll not see
old _Bumbuku_ any more; henceforth I shall be an ordinary kettle,
nothing more or less.”

“Oh, my dear _Bumbuku_, what shall I do?” cried the poor tinker in

“I think I should like to be given to the temple of Morinji, as a very
sacred treasure,” says the tea-kettle.

It never spoke or moved again. So the tinker presented it as a very
sacred treasure to the temple, and the half of his wealth with it.

And the tea-kettle was held in wondrous fame for many a long year. Some
persons even worshipped it as a saint.



[Illustration: The Peony Lantern.--_P. 25._]

In Yedo there dwelt a _samurai_ called Hagiwara. He was a _samurai_ of
the _hatamoto_, which is of all the ranks of _samurai_ the most
honourable. He possessed a noble figure and a very beautiful face, and
was beloved of many a lady of Yedo, both openly and in secret. For
himself, being yet very young, his thoughts turned to pleasure rather
than to love, and morning, noon and night he was wont to disport himself
with the gay youth of the city. He was the prince and leader of joyous
revels within doors and without, and would often parade the streets for
long together with bands of his boon companions.

One bright and wintry day during the Festival of the New Year he found
himself with a company of laughing youths and maidens playing at
battledore and shuttlecock. He had wandered far away from his own
quarter of the city, and was now in a suburb quite the other side of
Yedo, where the streets were empty, more or less, and the quiet houses
stood in gardens. Hagiwara wielded his heavy battledore with great skill
and grace, catching the gilded shuttlecock and tossing it lightly into
the air; but at length with a careless or an ill-judged stroke, he sent
it flying over the heads of the players, and over the bamboo fence of a
garden near by. Immediately he started after it. Then his companions
cried, “Stay, Hagiwara; here we have more than a dozen shuttlecocks.”

“Nay,” he said, “but this was dove-coloured and gilded.”

“Foolish one!” answered his friends; “here we have six shuttlecocks all
dove-coloured and gilded.”

But he paid them no heed, for he had become full of a very strange
desire for the shuttlecock he had lost. He scaled the bamboo fence and
dropped into the garden which was upon the farther side. Now he had
marked the very spot where the shuttlecock should have fallen, but it
was not there; so he searched along the foot of the bamboo fence--but
no, he could not find it. Up and down he went, beating the bushes with
his battledore, his eyes on the ground, drawing breath heavily as if he
had lost his dearest treasure. His friends called him, but he did not
come, and they grew tired and went to their own homes. The light of day
began to fail. Hagiwara, the _samurai_, looked up and saw a girl
standing a few yards away from him. She beckoned him with her right
hand, and in her left she held a gilded shuttlecock with dove-coloured

The _samurai_ shouted joyfully and ran forward. Then the girl drew away
from him, still beckoning him with the right hand. The shuttlecock
lured him, and he followed. So they went, the two of them, till they
came to the house that was in the garden, and three stone steps that led
up to it. Beside the lowest step there grew a plum tree in blossom, and
upon the highest step there stood a fair and very young lady. She was
most splendidly attired in robes of high festival. Her _kimono_ was of
water-blue silk, with sleeves of ceremony so long that they touched the
ground; her under-dress was scarlet, and her great girdle of brocade was
stiff and heavy with gold. In her hair were pins of gold and
tortoiseshell and coral.

When Hagiwara saw the lady, he knelt down forthwith and made her due
obeisance, till his forehead touched the ground.

Then the lady spoke, smiling with pleasure like a child. “Come into my
house, Hagiwara Sama, _samurai_ of the _hatamoto_. I am O’Tsuyu, the
Lady of the Morning Dew. My dear handmaiden, O’Yoné, has brought you to
me. Come in, Hagiwara Sama, _samurai_ of the _hatamoto_; for indeed I am
glad to see you, and happy is this hour.”

So the _samurai_ went in, and they brought him to a room of ten mats,
where they entertained him; for the Lady of the Morning Dew danced
before him in the ancient manner, whilst O’Yoné, the handmaiden, beat
upon a small scarlet-tasselled drum.

Afterwards they set food before him, the red rice of the festival and
sweet warm wine, and he ate and drank of the food they gave him.

It was dark night when Hagiwara took his leave. “Come again, honourable
lord, come again,” said O’Yoné the handmaiden.

“Yea, lord, you needs must come,” whispered the Lady of the Morning Dew.

The _samurai_ laughed. “And if I do not come?” he said mockingly. “What
if I do not come?”

The lady stiffened, and her child’s face grew grey, but she laid her
hand upon Hagiwara’s shoulder.

“Then,” she said, “it will be death, lord. Death it will be for you and
for me. There is no other way.” O’Yoné shuddered and hid her eyes with
her sleeve.

The _samurai_ went out into the night, being very much afraid.

Long, long he sought for his home and could not find it, wandering in
the black darkness from end to end of the sleeping city. When at last he
reached his familiar door the late dawn was almost come, and wearily he
threw himself upon his bed. Then he laughed. “After all, I have left
behind me my shuttlecock,” said Hagiwara the _samurai_.

The next day Hagiwara sat alone in his house from morning till evening.
He had his hands before him; and he thought, but did nothing more. At
the end of the time he said, “It is a joke that a couple of _geisha_
have sought to play on me. Excellent, in faith, but they shall not have
me!” So he dressed himself in his best and went forth to join his
friends. For five or six days he was at joustings and junketings, the
gayest of the gay. His wit was ready, his spirits were wild.

Then he said, “By the gods, I am deathly sick of this,” and took to
walking the streets of Yedo alone. From end to end of the great city he
went. He wandered by day and he wandered by night, by street and alley
he went, by hill and moat and castle wall, but he found not what he
sought. He could not come upon the garden where his shuttlecock was
lost, nor yet upon the Lady of the Morning Dew. His spirit had no rest.
He fell sick and took to his bed, where he neither ate nor slept, but
grew spectre-thin. This was about the third month. In the sixth month,
at the time of _niubai_, the hot and rainy season, he rose up, and, in
spite of all his faithful servant could say or do to dissuade him, he
wrapped a loose summer robe about him and at once went forth.

“Alack! Alack!” cried the servant, “the youth has the fever, or he is
perchance mad.”

Hagiwara faltered not at all. He looked neither to the right nor to the
left. Straight forward he went, for he said to himself, “All roads lead
past my love’s house.” Soon he came to a quiet suburb, and to a certain
house whose garden had a split bamboo fence. Hagiwara laughed softly and
scaled the fence.

“The same, the very same shall be the manner of our meeting,” he said.
He found the garden wild and overgrown. Moss covered the three stone
steps. The plum tree that grew there fluttered its green leaves
disconsolate. The house was still, its shutters were all closed, it was
forlorn and deserted.

The _samurai_ grew cold as he stood and wondered. A soaking rain fell.

There came an old man into the garden. He said to Hagiwara:

“Sir, what do you do here?”

“The white flower has fallen from the plum tree,” said the _samurai_.
“Where is the Lady of the Morning Dew?”

“She is dead,” answered the old man; “dead these five or six moons, of a
strange and sudden sickness. She lies in the graveyard on the hill, and
O’Yoné, her handmaid, lies by her side. She could not suffer her
mistress to wander alone through the long night of Yomi. For their sweet
spirits’ sake I would still tend this garden, but I am old and it is
little that I can do. Oh, sir, they are dead indeed. The grass grows on
their graves.”

Hagiwara went to his own home. He took a slip of pure white wood and he
wrote upon it, in large fair characters, the dear name of his lady. This
he set up, and burned before it incense and sweet odours, and made every
offering that was meet, and did due observance, and all for the welfare
of her departed spirit.

Then drew near the Festival of _Bon_, the time of returning souls. The
good folk of Yedo took lanterns and visited their graves. Bringing food
and flowers, they cared for their beloved dead. On the thirteenth day
of the seventh month, which, in the _Bon_, is the day of days, Hagiwara
the _samurai_ walked in his garden by night for the sake of the
coolness. It was windless and dark. A cicala hidden in the heart of a
pomegranate flower sang shrilly now and again. Now and again a carp
leaped in the round pond. For the rest it was still, and never a leaf

About the hour of the Ox, Hagiwara heard the sound of footsteps in the
lane that lay beyond his garden hedge. Nearer and nearer they came.

“Women’s _geta_,” said the _samurai_. He knew them by the hollow echoing
noise. Looking over his rose hedge, he saw two slender women come out of
the dimness hand in hand. One of them carried a lantern with a bunch of
peony flowers tied to the handle. It was such a lantern as is used at
the time of the _Bon_ in the service of the dead. It swung as the two
women walked, casting an uncertain light. As they came abreast of the
_samurai_ upon the other side of the hedge, they turned their faces to
him. He knew them at once, and gave one great cry.

The girl with the peony lantern held it up so that the light fell upon

“Hagiwara Sama,” she cried, “by all that is most wonderful! Why, lord,
we were told that you were dead. We have daily recited the _Nembutsu_
for your soul these many moons!”

“Come in, come in, O’Yoné,” he said; “and is it indeed your mistress
that you hold by the hand? Can it be my lady?... Oh, my love!”

O’Yoné answered, “Who else should it be?” and the two came in at the
garden gate.

But the Lady of the Morning Dew held up her sleeve to hide her face.

“How was it I lost you?” said the _samurai_; “how was it I lost you,

“Lord,” she said, “we have moved to a little house, a very little house,
in the quarter of the city which is called the Green Hill. We were
suffered to take nothing with us there, and we are grown very poor. With
grief and want my mistress is become pale.”

Then Hagiwara took his lady’s sleeve to draw it gently from her face.

“Lord,” she sobbed, “you will not love me, I am not fair.”

But when he looked upon her his love flamed up within him like a
consuming fire, and shook him from head to foot. He said never a word.

She drooped. “Lord,” she murmured, “shall I go or stay?”

And he said, “Stay.”

A little before daybreak the _samurai_ fell into a deep sleep, and awoke
to find himself alone in the clear light of the morning. He lost not an
instant, but rose and went forth, and immediately made his way through
Yedo to the quarter of the city which is called the Green Hill. Here he
inquired for the house of the Lady of the Morning Dew, but no one could
direct him. High and low he searched fruitlessly. It seemed to him that
for the second time he had lost his dear lady, and he turned homewards
in bitter despair. His way led him through the grounds of a certain
temple, and as he went he marked two graves that were side by side. One
was little and obscure, but the other was marked by a fair monument,
like the tomb of some great one. Before the monument there hung a
lantern with a bunch of peony flowers tied to its handle. It was such a
lantern as is used at the time of _Bon_ in the service of the dead.

Long, long did the _samurai_ stand as one in a dream. Then he smiled a
little and said:

“‘_We have moved to a little house ... a very little house ... upon the
Green Hill ... we were suffered to take nothing with us there and we are
grown very poor ... with grief and want my mistress is become pale...._’
A little house, a dark house, yet you will make room for me, oh, my
beloved, pale one of my desires. We have loved for the space of ten
existences, leave me not now ... my dear.” Then he went home.

His faithful servant met him and cried:

“Now what ails you, master?”

He said, “Why, nothing at all.... I was never merrier.”

But the servant departed weeping, and saying, “The mark of death is on
his face ... and I, whither shall I go that bore him as a child in these

Every night, for seven nights, the maidens with the peony lantern came
to Hagiwara’s dwelling. Fair weather or foul was the same to them. They
came at the hour of the Ox. There was mystic wooing. By the strong bond
of illusion the living and the dead were bound together.

On the seventh night the servant of the _samurai_, wakeful with fear and
sorrow, made bold to peer into his lord’s room through a crack in the
wooden shutters. His hair stood on end and his blood ran cold to see
Hagiwara in the arms of a fearful thing, smiling up at the horror that
was its face, stroking its dank green robe with languid fingers. With
daylight the servant made his way to a holy man of his acquaintance.
When he had told his tale he asked, “Is there any hope for Hagiwara

“Alack,” said the holy man, “who can withstand the power of Karma?
Nevertheless, there is a little hope.” So he told the servant what he
must do. Before nightfall, this one had set a sacred text above every
door and window-place of his master’s house, and he had rolled in the
silk of his master’s girdle a golden emblem of the Tathagata. When these
things were done, Hagiwara being drawn two ways became himself as weak
as water. And his servant took him in his arms, laid him upon his bed
and covered him lightly, and saw him fall into a deep sleep.

At the hour of the Ox there was heard the sound of footsteps in the
lane, without the garden hedge. Nearer and nearer they came. They grew
slow and stopped.

“What means this, O’Yoné, O’Yoné?” said a piteous voice. “The house is
asleep, and I do not see my lord.”

“Come home, sweet lady, Hagiwara’s heart is changed.”

“That I will not, O’Yoné, O’Yoné ... you must find a way to bring me to
my lord.”

“Lady, we cannot enter here. See the Holy Writing over every door and
window-place ... we may not enter here.”

There was a sound of bitter weeping and a long wail.

“Lord, I have loved thee through the space of ten existences.” Then the
footsteps retreated and their echo died away.

The next night it was quite the same. Hagiwara slept in his weakness;
his servant watched; the wraiths came and departed in sobbing despair.

The third day, when Hagiwara went to the bath, a thief stole the emblem,
the golden emblem of the Tathagata, from his girdle. Hagiwara did not
mark it. But that night he lay awake. It was his servant that slept,
worn out with watching. Presently a great rain fell and Hagiwara,
waking, heard the sound of it upon the roof. The heavens were opened and
for hours the rain fell. And it tore the holy text from over the round
window in Hagiwara’s chamber.

At the hour of the Ox there was heard the sound of footsteps in the lane
without the garden hedge. Nearer and nearer they came. They grew slow
and stopped.

“This is the last time, O’Yoné, O’Yoné, therefore bring me to my lord.
Think of the love of ten existences. Great is the power of Karma. There
must be a way....”

“Come, my beloved,” called Hagiwara with a great voice.

“Open, lord ... open and I come.”

But Hagiwara could not move from his couch.

“Come, my beloved,” he called for the second time.

“I cannot come, though the separation wounds me like a sharp sword. Thus
we suffer for the sins of a former life.” So the lady spoke and moaned
like the lost soul that she was. But O’Yoné took her hand.

“See the round window,” she said.

Hand in hand the two rose lightly from the earth. Like vapour they
passed through the unguarded window. The _samurai_ called, “Come to me,
beloved,” for the third time.

He was answered, “Lord, I come.”

In the grey morning Hagiwara’s servant found his master cold and dead.
At his feet stood the peony lantern burning with a weird yellow flame.
The servant shivered, took up the lantern and blew out the light; for “I
cannot bear it,” he said.



This is a tale beloved by the children of Japan, and by the old folk--a
tale of magical jewels and a visit to the Sea King’s palace.

Prince Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty loved a beautiful and royal maiden, and
made her his bride. And the lady was called Princess Blossoming-
Brightly-as-the-Flowers-of-the-Trees, so sweetly fair was
she. But her father was augustly wrath at her betrothal, for his
Augustness, Prince Rice-Ear-Ruddy-Plenty, had put aside her elder
sister, the Princess of the Rocks (and, indeed, this lady was not fair),
for he loved only Princess Blossoming-Brightly. So the old King said,
“Because of this, the offspring of these heavenly deities shall be
frail, fading and falling like the flowers of the trees.” So it is. At
this day, the lives of their Augustnesses, the Heavenly Sovereigns, are
not long.

Howbeit, in the fullness of time, the lady,
Blossoming-Brightly-as-the-Flowers-of-the-Trees, bore two lovely men
children, and called the elder Fire Flash and the younger Fire Fade.

Prince Fire Flash was a fisherman, who got his luck upon the wide sea,
and ran upon the shore with his august garments girded. And again, he
tarried all the night in his boat, upon the high wave-crests. And he
caught things broad of fin and things narrow of fin, and he was a deity
of the water weeds and of the waters and of the fishes of the sea.

But Prince Fire Fade was a hunter, who got his luck upon the mountains
and in the forest, who bound sandals fast upon his feet, and bore a bow
and heavenly-feathered arrows. And he caught things rough of hair and
things soft of hair, and he knew the trail of the badger and the wild
cherry’s time of flowering. For he was a deity of the woods.

Now Prince Fire Fade spoke to his elder brother, Prince Fire Flash, and
said, “Brother, I am aweary of the green hills. Therefore let us now
exchange our luck. Give me thy rod and I will go to the cool waters.
Thou mayest take my great bow and all my heavenly-feathered arrows and
try the mountains, where, trust me, thou shalt see many strange and
beautiful things, unknown to thee before.”

But Prince Fire Flash answered, “Not so ... not so.”

And again, after not many days were past, Prince Fire Fade came and
sighed, “I am aweary of the green hills ... the fair waters call me.
Woe to be a younger brother!” And when Prince Fire Flash took no heed of
him, but angled with his rod, day and night, and caught things broad of
fin and things narrow of fin, Prince Fire Fade drooped with desire, and
let his long hair fall untended upon his shoulders. And he murmured,
“Oh, to try my luck upon the sea!” till at last Prince Fire Flash, his
elder brother, gave him the rod for very weariness, and betook himself
to the mountains. And all day he hunted, and let fly the
heavenly-feathered arrows; but rough of hair or soft of hair, never a
thing did he catch. And he cried, “Fool, fool, to barter the heavenly
luck of the gods!” So he returned.

And his Augustness, Prince Fire Fade, took the luck of the sea, and
angled in sunshine and in gloom; but broad of fin or narrow of fin,
never a fish did he catch. And, moreover, he lost his brother’s
fish-hook in the sea. So he hung his head, and returned.

And Prince Fire Flash said, “Each to his own, the hunter to the
mountain, and the fisherman to the sea ... for thou and I have brought
nothing home, and this night we sleep hungry. We may not barter the luck
of the gods. And now, where is my fish-hook?”

So Prince Fire Fade replied, saying softly, “Sweet brother, be not angry
... but, toiling all day with thy fish-hook, broad of fin or narrow of
fin, not a fish did I catch; and, at the last, I lost thy fish-hook in
the sea.”

At this his Highness, Prince Fire Flash, flew into a great rage, and
stamping his feet, required the fish-hook of his brother.

And Prince Fire Fade made answer, “Sweet brother, I have not thy
fish-hook, but the deep sea, whose bottom no man may search. Though I
should die for thee, yet could I not give thee back thy fish-hook.”

But his elder brother required it of him the more urgently.

Then Prince Fire Fade burst the wild wistaria tendrils which bound his
august ten-grasp sword to his side. And he said, “Farewell, good sword.”
And he broke it into many fragments, and made five hundred fish-hooks to
give to his brother, Prince Fire Flash. But Prince Fire Flash would have
none of them.

And again Prince Fire Fade toiled at a great furnace, and made one
thousand fish-hooks; and upon his knees he humbly offered them to his
brother, Prince Fire Flash. For he loved his brother. Nevertheless
Prince Fire Flash would not so much as look at them, but sat moody, his
head on his hand, saying, “Mine own lost fish-hook will I have, that and
no other.”

So Prince Fire Fade went grieving from the palace gates, and wandered
lamenting by the seashore; and his tears fell and mingled with the foam.
And, when night came, he had no heart to return homewards, but sat down,
weary, upon a rock amid the salt pools. And he cried, “Alas, my brother,
I am all to blame, and through my foolishness has this come upon me. But
oh, my brother, together were we nursed upon the sweet breast of our
mother, Princess Blossoming-Brightly-as-the-Flowers-of-the-Trees, for
almost hand in hand did we come into the world.”

And the moon rose so that the sea and the Central Land of Reed Plains
was light. But Prince Fire Fade ceased not to lament.

Then Shiko-Tsuchi-no-Kami, the Lord of Sea Salt, came with the rising
tide, and spoke, “Wherefore weeps the Heaven’s Sky Height?”

And Prince Fire Fade made answer: “I have taken my brother’s fish-hook,
and I have lost it in the sea. And though I have given him many other
fish-hooks for compensation, he will have none of them, but desires only
the original fish-hook. Truly, the gods know, I would give my life to
find it; but how should that serve?”

And Shiko-Tsuchi-no-Kami took him by the sleeve to where a boat moved
upon the water, and set him in the boat and pushed it from the shore,
saying, “My son, pursue the pleasant path that Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami, His
Augustness, the Moon Night Possessor, has made for thee upon the waters.
And, at the end, thou shalt come to a palace made of fishes’ scales,
which is the palace of the great King of the Sea. Before the gate there
is a clear well, and by the well-side there grows a cassia tree with
many spreading branches. Therefore climb thou into the branches of the
cassia tree, and there wait for the King’s daughter, who shall come to
give thee counsel.”

And Prince Fire Fade, standing up in the boat, made obeisance, and
thanked the Lord of Sea Salt. But this one girded his august garments
and pushed the boat before him, till he was thigh-deep in the water. And
he said, “Nay, nay, fair youth, no thanks, only do my bidding.”

So his Augustness, Prince Fire Fade, came to the Sea King’s palace. And
he forthwith climbed the cassia tree and waited among its green

At the day’s dawning came the handmaidens of the Sea King’s daughter,
with their jewelled vessels, to draw water from the well. And as they
stooped to dip their vessels, Prince Fire Fade leaned and watched them
from the branches of the cassia tree. And the glory of his august
countenance made a brightness upon the waters of the well. So all the
maidens looked up and beheld his comeliness, and were amazed. But he
spoke them fairly, and desired of them a little water from their
vessels. So the maidens drew him water in a jewelled cup (howbeit the
jewels were clouded, because of the coldness of the well water), and
they presented it to him with all reverence. Then, not drinking the
water, Prince Fire Fade took the royal jewel from his neck, and holding
it between his two lips he dropped it into the cup, and the cup he gave
again to the maidens.

Now they saw the great jewel shining in the cup, but they could not move
it, for it clung fast to the gold. So the maidens departed, skimming the
water like the white birds of the offing. And they came to the Sea
King’s daughter, bearing the cup and the jewel in it.

And the Princess, looking at the jewel, asked them, “Is there,
perchance, a stranger at the gate?”

And one of the maidens answered, “There is some one sitting in the
branches of the cassia tree which is by our well.”

And another said, “It is a very beautiful young man.”

And another said, “He is even more glorious than our king. And he asked
water of us, so we respectfully gave him water in this cup. And he drank
none of it, but dropped a jewel into it from his lips. So we have
brought them unto Thine Augustness, both the cup and the jewel.”

Then the Princess herself took a vessel and went to draw water at the
well. And her long sleeves, and certain of the folds of her august
garments, floated behind her, and her head was bound with a garland of
sea flowers. And coming to the well she looked up through the branches
of the cassia tree. And her eyes met the eyes of Prince Fire Fade.

And presently she fetched her father, the Sea King, saying, “Father,
there is a beautiful person at our gate.” So the Sea King came out and
welcomed Prince Fire Fade, and said, “This is the August Child of the
Heaven’s Sun Height.” And leading him into his palace he caused the
floor to be spread with eight layers of rugs of asses’ skins, and eight
layers of rugs of silk, and set the Prince upon them.

And that night he made a great banquet, and celebrated the betrothal of
Prince Fire Fade to his daughter, the fair Jewel Princess. And for very
many days there was held high revel and rejoicing in the Sea King’s

But one night, as they took their ease upon the silken floor, and all
the fishes of the sea brought rich dishes, and sweetmeats in vessels of
gold and coral and jade to set before them, the fair Jewel Princess
herself sat at Prince Fire Fade’s right hand to pour the wine into his
cup. And the silver scales upon the palace walls glittered in the
moonlight. But Prince Fire Fade looked out across the Sea Path and
thought of what had gone before, and so heaved a deep sigh.

Then the Sea King was troubled, and asked him, saying, “Wherefore dost
thou sigh?” But Prince Fire Fade answered nothing.

And the fair Jewel Princess, his betrothed wife, came closer, and
touched him on the breast, and said softly, “Oh, Thine Augustness, my
sweet spouse, art thou not happy in our water palace, where the shadows
fall green, that thou lookest so longingly across the Sea Path? Or do
our maidens not please thee, who move silently, like the birds of the
offing? Oh, my lord, despise me not, but tell me what is in thine

Then Prince Fire Fade answered, “My lovely lady, Thine Augustness, let
nothing be hidden from thee, because of our love.” And he told them all
the story of the fish-hook, and of his elder brother’s wrath.

[Illustration: The Sea King and the Magic Jewels.--_P. 45._]

“And now,” he said, “will the Jewel Princess give me counsel?”

Then the Jewel Princess smiled, and rose up lightly, and her hair was so
long that it hung to the edge and hem of her silken red robe. And she
passed to where the palace steps led down into the water. And standing
upon the last step she called to the fishes of the sea, and summoned
them, great and small, from far and near. So the fishes of the sea, both
great and small, swam about her feet, and the water was silver with
their scales. And the King’s daughter cried, “O fishes of the sea, find
and bring me the august fish-hook of Prince Fire Flash.”

And the fishes answered, “Lady, the _Tai_ is in misery, for something
sticks in his throat so that he cannot eat. Perchance this may be the
august fish-hook of his Augustness, Prince Fire Flash.”

Then the Princess stooped down and lifted the _Tai_ from the water, and
with her white hand she took the lost fish-hook from his throat. And
after she had washed and dabbled it for a little, she took it in to
Prince Fire Fade. And he rejoiced and said, “This is indeed my brother’s
fish-hook. I go to restore it instantly, and we shall be reconciled.”
For he loved his brother.

But the fair Jewel Princess stood silent and sorrowing, for she thought,
“Now will he depart and leave me lonely.”

And Prince Fire Fade hastened to the water’s edge, and there bestrode a
valiant crocodile, who should bring him to his journey’s end. And ere
he went, the Sea King spoke: “Fair youth, now listen to my counsel. If
thy brother sow rice upon the uplands, do thou sow thy rice low, in the
water meads. But if thy brother sow his rice in the water meads, then do
thou, Thine Augustness, sow thy rice upon the uplands. And I who rule
the rains and the floods will continually prosper the labours of Thine
Augustness. Moreover, here are two magic jewels. If thy brother should
be moved by envy to attack thee, then put forth the Tide Flowing Jewel
and the waters shall arise to drown him. But if thou shouldst have
compassion upon him, then put forth the Tide Ebbing Jewel, and all the
waters shall subside, and his life be spared.”

And his Augustness Prince Fire Fade gave thanks with obeisance. And he
hid the fish-hook in his long sleeve, and hung the two great jewels
about his neck. Then the fair Jewel Princess came near and bade him
farewell, with many tears. And the Sea King charged the crocodile,
saying, “While crossing the middle of the sea, do not alarm him.”

So Prince Fire Fade sat upon the crocodile’s head; and in one day he
came to his own place and sprang lightly to shore. And unsheathing his
dagger, he hung it upon the crocodile’s neck for a token.

Hereupon, Prince Fire Fade found his brother, and gave him back his own
fish-hook that had been lost. Nevertheless, because of the two great
jewels, which he wore in the folds of his raiment, he had everlasting
dominion over his brother, and flourished in all his doings.

And, after some time, there came to Prince Fire Fade the daughter of the
Sea King, the fair Jewel Princess. And she came across the Sea Path
bearing in her arms a young child. And she, weeping, laid down the child
at the feet of His Augustness and said, “My lord, I have brought thy

But Prince Fire Fade raised her up and made her welcome, and built for
her a palace on the seashore, at the limit of the waves. And the palace
was thatched with cormorant’s feathers. So they dwelt there with the
August Child.

And the fair Jewel Princess besought her lord, saying, “Sweet husband,
look not on me in the dark night, for then I must take my native shape;
with those of my land it is ever so. Howbeit, look not on me, lest I
should be ashamed and misfortune should follow.” So Prince Fire Fade
promised her, and spoke many fair words of assurance.

Nevertheless, there came a night when Prince Fire Fade lay awake, and
could get no rest. And, at length, when it was very dark, before the
dawn, he arose and struck a light to look upon his bride as she slept.
And he beheld a great scalèd dragon, with translucent eyes, which was
coiled up at the couch’s foot. And Prince Fire Fade cried out aloud for
terror, and dropped the light. Then morning broke very grey upon the
sea. And at the same instant the great dragon stirred, and from its
coils the Jewel Princess lifted up her lovely head. And the green scales
fell away from her like a garment. So she stood, in a white robe, with
her child upon her breast. And she hung her head and wept, saying, “O
Thine Augustness, my sweet spouse, I had thought to have made the Sea
Path a highway between thy land and mine, that we might go and come at
pleasure. But now, though I warned thee, thou hast looked upon me in the
night. Therefore, my lord, between me and thee it is farewell. I go
across the Sea Path, and of this going there is no return. Take thou the
August Child.”

She spoke, and departed immediately upon the Sea Path, weeping and
covering her face with her hair and looking back to the shore. And she
was never more seen upon the Central Land of Reed Plains. Moreover, she
shut the gates of the sea and closed the way to her father’s palace. But
the young maid, her sister, she sent to be a nurse to her babe, and
because, for all that had been, she could not restrain her loving heart,
she made a little song, and sent it to her lord by the maid, her sister.
And the song said:

    “Oh, fair are the red jewels,
     And fair is the string on which they are strung ...
     Even so, fair is my babe.
     But brighter far, and more renowned are the white jewels,
     The jewels that are like my lord.”

Then the husband answered, in a song which said:

    “As for thee, my lady, whom I took to be my bride,
     To the island where lights the wild duck--the bird of the offing,
     I shall not forget thee till the end of my life.”



Folks say that Rai-den, the Thunder, is an unloving spirit, fearful and
revengeful, cruel to man. These are folks who are mortally afraid of the
storm, and who hate lightning and tempest; they speak all the evil they
can of Rai-den and of Rai-Taro, his son. But they are wrong.

Rai-den Sama lived in a Castle of Cloud set high in the blue heaven. He
was a great and mighty god, a Lord of the Elements. Rai-Taro was his one
and only son, a brave boy, and his father loved him.

In the cool of the evening Rai-den and Rai-Taro walked upon the ramparts
of the Castle of Cloud, and from the ramparts they viewed the doings of
men upon the Land of Reed Plains. North and South and East and West they
looked. Often they laughed--oh, very often; sometimes they sighed.
Sometimes Rai-Taro leaned far over the castle walls to see the children
that went to and fro upon earth.

One night Rai-den Sama said to Rai-Taro, “Child, look well this night
upon the doings of men!”

Rai-Taro answered, “Father, I will look well.”

From the northern rampart they looked, and saw great lords and
men-at-arms going forth to battle. From the southern rampart they
looked, and saw priests and acolytes serving in a holy temple where the
air was dim with incense, and images of gold and bronze gleamed in the
twilight. From the eastern rampart they looked, and saw a lady’s bower,
where was a fair princess, and a troop of maidens, clad in rose colour,
that made music for her. There were children there, too, playing with a
little cart of flowers.

“Ah, the pretty children!” said Rai-Taro.

From the western rampart they looked, and saw a peasant toiling in a
rice-field. He was weary enough and his back ached. His wife toiled with
him by his side. If he was weary, it is easy to believe that she was
more weary still. They were very poor and their garments were ragged.

“Have they no children?” said Rai-Taro. Rai-den shook his head.

Presently, “Have you looked well, Rai-Taro?” he said. “Have you looked
well this night upon the doings of men?”

“Father,” said Rai-Taro, “indeed, I have looked well.”

“Then choose, my son, choose, for I send you to take up your habitation
upon the earth.”

“Must I go among men?” said Rai-Taro.

“My child, you must.”

“I will not go with the men-at-arms,” said Rai-Taro; “fighting likes me
very ill.”

“Oho, say you so, my son? Will you go, then, to the fair lady’s bower?”

“No,” said Rai-Taro, “I am a man. Neither will I have my head shaved to
go and live with priests.”

“What, then, do you choose the poor peasant? You will have a hard life
and scanty fare, Rai-Taro.”

Rai-Taro said, “They have no children. Perhaps they will love me.”

“Go, go in peace,” said Rai-den Sama; “for you have chosen wisely.”

“How shall I go, my father?” said Rai-Taro.

“Honourably,” said his father, “as it befits a Prince of High Heaven.”

Now the poor peasant man toiled in his rice-field, which was at the foot
of the mountain Hakusan, in the province of Ichizen. Day after day and
week after week the bright sun shone. The rice-field was dry, and young
rice was burnt up.

“Alack and alas!” cried the poor peasant man, “and what shall I do if my
rice-crop fails? May the dear gods have mercy on all poor people!”

With that he sat himself down on a stone at the rice-field’s edge and
fell asleep for very weariness and sorrow.

When he woke the sky was black with clouds. It was but noonday, but it
grew as dark as night. The leaves of the trees shuddered together and
the birds ceased their singing.

“A storm, a storm!” cried the peasant. “Rai-den Sama goes abroad upon
his black horse, beating the great drum of the Thunder. We shall have
rain in plenty, thanks be.”

Rain in plenty he had, sure enough, for it fell in torrents, with
blinding lightning and roaring thunder.

“Oh, Rai-den Sama,” said the peasant, “saving your greatness, this is
even more than sufficient.”

At this the bright lightning flashed anew and fell to the earth in a
ball of living fire, and the heavens cracked with a mighty peal of

“Ai! Ai!” cried the poor peasant man. “Kwannon have mercy on a sinful
soul, for now the Thunder Dragon has me indeed.” And he lay on the
ground and hid his face.

Howbeit the Thunder Dragon spared him. And soon he sat up and rubbed his
eyes. The ball of fire was gone, but a babe lay upon the wet earth; a
fine fresh boy with the rain upon his cheeks and his hair.

“Oh, Lady, Lady Kwannon,” said the poor peasant man, “this is thy sweet
mercy.” And he took the boy in his arms and carried him to his own home.

As he went the rain still fell, but the sun came out in the blue sky,
and every flower in the cooler air shone and lifted up its grateful

The peasant came to his cottage door.

“Wife, wife,” he called, “I have brought you something home.”

“What may it be?” said his wife.

The man answered, “Rai-Taro, the little eldest son of the Thunder.”

Rai-Taro grew up straight and strong, the tallest, gayest boy of all
that country-side. He was the delight of his foster-parents, and all the
neighbours loved him. When he was ten years old he worked in the
rice-fields like a man. He was the wonderful weather prophet.

“My father,” he said, “let us do this and that, for we shall have fair
weather”; or he said, “My father, let us the rather do this or that, for
to-night there will be a storm,” and whatever he had said, so, sure
enough, it came to pass. And he brought great good fortune to the poor
peasant man, and all his works prospered.

When Rai-Taro was eighteen years old all the neighbours were bidden to
his birthday feast. There was plenty of good _saké_, and the good folk
were merry enough; only Rai-Taro was silent and sad and sorry.

“What ails you, Rai-Taro?” said his foster-mother. “You who are wont to
be the gayest of the gay, why are you silent, sad and sorry?”

“It is because I must leave you,” Rai-Taro said.

“Nay,” said his foster-mother, “never leave us, Rai-Taro, my son. Why
would you leave us?”

“Mother, because I must,” said Rai-Taro in tears.

“You have been our great good fortune; you have given us all things.
What have I given you? What have I given you, Rai-Taro, my son?”

Rai-Taro answered, “Three things have you taught me--to labour, to
suffer, and to love. I am more learned than the Immortals.”

Then he went from them. And in the likeness of a white cloud he scaled
heaven’s blue height till he gained his father’s castle. And Rai-den
received him. The two of them stood upon the western rampart of the
Castle of Cloud and looked down to earth.

The foster-mother stood weeping bitterly, but her husband took her hand.

“My dear,” he said, “it will not be for long. We grow old apace.”



Long ago, in a part of the country not very remote from Kioto, the great
gay city, there dwelt an honest couple. In a lonely place was their
cottage, upon the outskirts of a deep wood of pine trees. Folks had it
that the wood was haunted. They said it was full of deceiving foxes;
they said that beneath the mossy ground the elves built their kitchens;
they said that long-nosed _Tengu_ had tea-parties in the forest thrice a
month, and that the fairies’ children played at hide-and-seek there
every morning before seven. Over and above all this they didn’t mind
saying that the honest couple were queer in their ways, that the woman
was a wise woman, and that the man was a warlock--which was as may be.
But sure it was that they did no harm to living soul, that they lived as
poor as poor, and that they had one fair daughter. She was as neat and
pretty as a princess, and her manners were very fine; but for all that
she worked as hard as a boy in the rice-fields, and within doors she was
the housewife indeed, for she washed and cooked and drew water. She
went barefoot in a grey homespun gown, and tied her back hair with a
tough wistaria tendril. Brown she was and thin, but the sweetest
beggar-maid that ever made shift with a bed of dry moss and no supper.

By-and-by the good man her father dies, and the wise woman her mother
sickens within the year, and soon she lies in a corner of the cottage
waiting for her end, with the maid near her crying bitter tears.

“Child,” says the mother, “do you know you are as pretty as a princess?”

“Am I that?” says the maid, and goes on with her crying.

“Do you know that your manners are fine?” says the mother.

“Are they, then?” says the maid, and goes on with her crying.

“My own baby,” says the mother, “could you stop your crying a minute and
listen to me?”

So the maid stopped crying and put her head close by her mother’s on the
poor pillow.

“Now listen,” says the mother, “and afterwards remember. It is a bad
thing for a poor girl to be pretty. If she is pretty and lonely and
innocent, none but the gods will help her. They will help you, my poor
child, and I have thought of a way besides. Fetch me the great black
rice-bowl from the shelf.”

The girl fetched it.

“See, now, I put it on your head and all your beauty is hidden away.”

“Alack, mother,” said the poor child, “it is heavy.”

“It will save you from what is heavier to bear,” said the mother. “If
you love me, promise me that you will not move it till the time comes.”

“I promise! I promise! But how shall I know when the time comes?”

“That you shall know.... And now help me outside, for the sweet morning
dawns and I’ve a fancy to see the fairies’ children once again, as they
run in the forest.”

So the child, having the black bowl upon her head, held her mother in
her arms in a grassy place near the great trees, and presently they saw
the fairies’ children threading their way between the dark trunks as
they played at hide-and-seek. Their bright garments fluttered, and they
laughed lightly as they went. The mother smiled to see them; before
seven she died very sweetly as she smiled.

When her little store of rice was done, the maid with the wooden bowl
knew well enough that she must starve or go and find more. So first she
tended her father’s and mother’s graves and poured water for the dead,
as is meet, and recited many a holy text. Then she bound on her sandals,
kilted her grey skirts to show her scarlet petticoat, tied her household
gods in a blue printed handkerchief, and set out all alone to seek her
fortunes, the brave girl!

For all her slenderness and pretty feet she was a rarely odd sight, and
soon she was to know it. The great black bowl covered her head and
shadowed her face. As she went through a village two women looked up
from washing in the stream, stared and laughed.

“It’s a boggart come alive,” says one.

“Out upon her,” cries the other, “for a shameless wench! Out upon her
false modesty to roam the country thus with her head in a black bowl, as
who should cry aloud to every passing man, ‘Come and see what is
hidden!’ It is enough to make a wholesome body sick.”

On went the poor maid, and sometimes the children pelted her with mud
and pebbles for sport. Sometimes she was handled roughly by village
louts, who scoffed and caught at her dress as she went; they even laid
hands upon the bowl itself and sought to drag it from her head by force.
But they only played at that game once, for the bowl stung them as
fiercely as if it had been a nettle, and the bullies ran away howling.

The beggar-maiden might seek her fortune, but it was very hard to find.
She might ask for work; but see, would she get it? None were wishful to
employ a girl with a black bowl on her head.

At last, on a fine day when she was tired out, she sat her upon a stone
and began to cry as if her heart would break. Down rolled her tears from
under the black bowl. They rolled down her cheeks and reached her white

A wandering ballad-singer passed that way, with his _biwa_ slung across
his back. He had a sharp eye and marked the tears upon the maid’s white
chin. It was all he could see of her face, and, “Oh, girl with the black
bowl on your head,” quoth he, “why do you sit weeping by the roadside?”

“I weep,” she answered, “because the world is hard. I am hungry and
tired.... No one will give me work or pay me money.”

“Now that’s unfortunate,” said the ballad-singer, for he had a kind
heart; “but I haven’t a _rin_ of my own, or it would be yours. Indeed I
am sorry for you. In the circumstances the best I can do for you is to
make you a little song.” With that he whips his _biwa_ round, thrums on
it with his fingers and starts as easy as you please. “To the tears on
your white chin,” he says, and sings:

    “The white cherry blooms by the roadside,
     How black is the canopy of cloud!
     The wild cherry droops by the roadside,
     Beware of the black canopy of cloud.
     Hark, hear the rain, hear the rainfall
     From the black canopy of cloud.
     Alas, the wild cherry, its sweet flowers are marred,
     Marred are the sweet flowers, forlorn on the spray!”

“Sir, I do not understand your song,” said the girl with the bowl on her

“Yet it is plain enough,” said the ballad-singer, and went his way. He
came to the house of a passing rich farmer. In he went, and they asked
him to sing before the master of the house.

“With all the will in the world,” says the ballad-singer. “I will sing
him a new song that I have just made.” So he sang of the wild cherry and
the great black cloud.

When he had made an end, “Tell us the interpretation of your song,” says
the master of the house.

“With all the will in the world,” quoth the ballad-singer. “The wild
cherry is the face of a maiden whom I saw sitting by the wayside. She
wore a great black wooden bowl upon her head, which is the great black
cloud in my song, and from under it her tears flowed like rain, for I
saw the drops upon her white chin. And she said that she wept for
hunger, and because no one would give her work nor pay her money.”

“Now I would I might help the poor girl with the bowl on her head,” said
the master of the house.

“That you may if you wish,” quoth the ballad-singer. “She sits but a
stone’s throw from your gate.”

The long and short of it was that the maid was put to labour in the rich
farmer’s harvest-fields. All the day long she worked in the waving rice,
with her grey skirts kilted and her sleeves bound back with cords. All
day long she plied the sickle, and the sun shone down upon the black
bowl; but she had food to eat and good rest at night, and was well

She found favour in her master’s eyes, and he kept her in the fields
till all the harvest was gathered in. Then he took her into his house,
where there was plenty for her to do, for his wife was but sickly. Now
the maiden lived well and happily as a bird, and went singing about her
labours. And every night she thanked the august gods for her good
fortune. Still she wore the black bowl upon her head.

At the New Year time, “Bustle, bustle,” says the farmer’s wife; “scrub
and cook and sew; put your best foot foremost, my dear, for we must have
the house look at its very neatest.”

“To be sure, and with all my heart,” says the girl, and she put her back
into the work; “but, mistress,” she says, “if I may be so bold as to
ask, are we having a party, or what?”

“Indeed we are, and many of them,” says the farmer’s wife. “My son that
is in Kioto, the great and gay, is coming home for a visit.”

Presently home he comes, the handsome young man. Then the neighbours
were called in, and great was the merry-making. They feasted and they
danced, they jested and they sang, many a bowl of good red rice they
ate, and many a cup of good _saké_ they drank. All this time the girl,
with bowl on her head, plied her work modestly in the kitchen, and well
out of the way she was--the farmer’s wife saw to that, good soul! All
the same, one fine day the company called for more wine, and the wine
was done, so the son of the house takes up the _saké_ bottle and goes
with it himself to the kitchen. What should he see there but the maiden
sitting upon a pile of faggots, and fanning the kitchen fire with a
split bamboo fan!

“My life, but I must see what is under that black bowl,” says the
handsome young man to himself. And sure enough he made it his daily
care, and peeped as much as he could, which was not very much; but
seemingly it was enough for him, for he thought no more of Kioto, the
great and gay, but stayed at home to do his courting.

His father laughed and his mother fretted, the neighbours held up their
hands, all to no purpose.

“Oh, dear, dear maiden with the wooden bowl, she shall be my bride and
no other. I must and will have her,” cried the impetuous young man, and
very soon he fixed the wedding-day himself.

When the time came, the young maidens of the village went to array the
bride. They dressed her in a fair and costly robe of white brocade, and
in trailing _hakama_ of scarlet silk, and on her shoulders they hung a
cloak of blue and purple and gold. They chattered, but as for the bride
she said never a word. She was sad because she brought her bridegroom
nothing, and because his parents were sore at his choice of a
beggar-maid. She said nothing, but the tears glistened on her white

“Now off with the ugly old bowl,” cried the maidens; “it is time to
dress the bride’s hair and to do it with golden combs.” So they laid
hands to the bowl and would have lifted it away, but they could not move

“Try again,” they said, and tugged at it with all their might. But it
would not stir.

“There’s witchcraft in it,” they said; “try a third time.” They tried a
third time, and still the bowl stuck fast, but it gave out fearsome
moans and cries.

“Ah! Let be, let be for pity’s sake,” said the poor bride, “for you make
my head ache.”

They were forced to lead her as she was to the bridegroom’s presence.

“My dear, I am not afraid of the wooden bowl,” said the young man.

So they poured the _saké_ from the silver flagon, and from the silver
cup the two of them drank the mystic “Three Times Three” that made them
man and wife.

Then the black bowl burst asunder with a loud noise, and fell to the
ground in a thousand pieces. With it fell a shower of silver and gold,
and pearls and rubies and emeralds, and every jewel of price. Great was
the astonishment of the company as they gazed upon a dowry that for a
princess would have been rich and rare.

But the bridegroom looked into the bride’s face. “My dear,” he said,
“there are no jewels that shine like your eyes.”



[Illustration: The Star Lovers.--_P. 65._]

All you that are true lovers, I beseech you pray the gods for fair
weather upon the seventh night of the seventh moon.

For patience’ sake and for dear love’s sake, pray, and be pitiful that
upon that night there may be neither rain, nor hail, nor cloud, nor
thunder, nor creeping mist.

Hear the sad tale of the Star Lovers and give them your prayers.

The Weaving Maiden was the daughter of a Deity of Light. Her dwelling
was upon the shore of the Milky Way, which is the Bright River of
Heaven. All the day long she sat at her loom and plied her shuttle,
weaving the gay garments of the gods. Warp and woof, hour by hour the
coloured web grew till it lay fold on fold piled at her feet. Still she
never ceased her labour, for she was afraid. She had heard a saying:

“Sorrow, age-long sorrow, shall come upon the Weaving Maiden when she
leaves her loom.”

So she laboured, and the gods had garments to spare. But she herself,
poor maiden, was ill-clad; she recked nothing of her attire or of the
jewels that her father gave her. She went barefoot, and let her hair
hang down unconfined. Ever and anon a long lock fell upon the loom, and
back she flung it over her shoulder. She did not play with the children
of Heaven, or take her pleasure with celestial youths and maidens. She
did not love or weep. She was neither glad nor sorry. She sat weaving,
weaving ... and wove her being into the many-coloured web.

Now her father, the Deity of Light, grew angry. He said, “Daughter, you
weave too much.”

“It is my duty,” she said.

“At your age to talk of duty!” said her father. “Out upon you!”

“Wherefore are you displeased with me, my father?” she said, and her
fingers plied the shuttle.

“Are you a stock or a stone, or a pale flower by the wayside?”

“Nay,” she said, “I am none of these.”

“Then leave your loom, my child, and live; take your pleasure, be as
others are.”

“And wherefore should I be as others are?” she said.

“Never dare to question me. Come, will you leave your loom?”

She said, “Sorrow, age-long sorrow, shall come upon the Weaving Maiden
when she leaves her loom.”

“A foolish saying,” cried her father, “not worthy of credence. What do
we know of age-long sorrow? Are we not gods?” With that he took her
shuttle from her hand gently, and covered the loom with a cloth. And he
caused her to be very richly attired, and they put jewels upon her and
garlanded her head with flowers of Paradise. And her father gave her for
spouse the Herd Boy of Heaven, who tended his flocks upon the banks of
the Bright River.

Now the Maiden was changed indeed. Her eyes were stars and her lips were
ruddy. She went dancing and singing all the day. Long hours she played
with the children of Heaven, and she took her pleasure with the
celestial youths and maidens. Lightly she went; her feet were shod with
silver. Her lover, the Herd Boy, held her by the hand. She laughed so
that the very gods laughed with her, and High Heaven re-echoed with
sounds of mirth. She was careless; little did she think of duty or of
the garments of the gods. As for her loom, she never went near it from
one moon’s end to another.

“I have my life to live,” she said; “I’ll weave it into a web no more.”

And the Herd Boy, her lover, clasped her in his arms. Her face was all
tears and smiles, and she hid it on his breast. So she lived her life.
But her father, the Deity of Light, was angry.

“It is too much,” he said. “Is the girl mad? She will become the
laughing-stock of Heaven. Besides, who is to weave the new spring
garments of the gods?”

Three times he warned his daughter.

Three times she laughed softly and shook her head.

“Your hand opened the door, my father,” she said, “but of a surety no
hand either of god or of mortal can shut it.”

He said, “You shall find it otherwise to your cost.” And he banished the
Herd Boy for ever and ever to the farther side of the Bright River. The
magpies flew together, from far and near, and they spread their wings
for a frail bridge across the river, and the Herd Boy went over by the
frail bridge. And immediately the magpies flew away to the ends of the
earth and the Weaving Maiden could not follow. She was the saddest thing
in Heaven. Long, long she stood upon the shore, and held out her arms to
the Herd Boy, who tended his oxen desolate and in tears. Long, long she
lay and wept upon the sand. Long, long she brooded, looking on the

She arose and went to her loom. She cast aside the cloth that covered
it. She took her shuttle in her hand.

“Age-long sorrow,” she said, “age-long sorrow!” Presently she dropped
the shuttle. “Ah,” she moaned, “the pain of it,” and she leaned her head
against the loom.

But in a little while she said, “Yet I would not be as once I was. I did
not love or weep, I was neither glad nor sorry. Now I love and I weep--I
am glad, and I am sorry.”

Her tears fell like rain, but she took up the shuttle and laboured
diligently, weaving the garments of the gods. Sometimes the web was grey
with grief, sometimes it was rosy with dreams. The gods were fain to go
strangely clad. The Maiden’s father, the Deity of Light, for once was
well pleased.

“That is my good, diligent child,” he said. “Now you are quiet and

“The quiet of dark despair,” she said. “Happy! I am the saddest thing in

“I am sorry,” said the Deity of Light; “what shall I do?”

“Give me back my lover.”

“Nay, child, that I cannot do. He is banished for ever and ever by the
decree of a Deity, that cannot be broken.”

“I knew it,” she said.

“Yet something I can do. Listen. On the seventh day of the seventh moon,
I will summon the magpies together from the ends of the earth, and they
shall be a bridge over the Bright River of Heaven, so that the Weaving
Maiden shall lightly cross to the waiting Herd Boy on the farther

So it was. On the seventh day of the seventh moon came the magpies from
far and near. And they spread their wings for a frail bridge. And the
Weaving Maiden went over by the frail bridge. Her eyes were like stars,
and her heart like a bird in her bosom. And the Herd Boy was there to
meet her upon the farther shore.

And so it is still, oh, true lovers--upon the seventh day of the
seventh moon these two keep their tryst. Only if the rain falls with
thunder and cloud and hail, and the Bright River of Heaven is swollen
and swift, the magpies cannot make a bridge for the Weaving Maiden.
Alack, the dreary time!

Therefore, true lovers, pray the gods for fair weather.



Jofuku was the Wise Man of China. Many books he read, and he never
forgot what was in them. All the characters he knew as he knew the lines
in the palm of his hand. He learned secrets from birds and beasts, and
herbs and flowers and trees, and rocks and metals. He knew magic and
poetry and philosophy. He grew full of years and wisdom. All the people
honoured him; but he was not happy, for he had a word written upon his

The word was _Mutability_. It was with him day and night, and sorely it
troubled him. Moreover, in the days of Jofuku a tyrant ruled over China,
and he made the Wise Man’s life a burden.

“Jofuku,” he said, “teach the nightingales of my wood to sing me the
songs of the Chinese poets.”

Jofuku could not do it for all his wisdom.

“Alas, liege,” he said, “ask me another thing and I will give it you,
though it cost me the blood of my heart.”

“Have a care,” said the Emperor, “look to your ways. Wise men are cheap
in China; am I one to be dishonoured?”

“Ask me another thing,” said the Wise Man.

“Well, then, scent me the peony with the scent of the jessamine. The
peony is brilliant, imperial; the jessamine is small, pale, foolish.
Nevertheless, its perfume is sweet. Scent me the peony with the scent of
the jessamine.”

But Jofuku stood silent and downcast.

“By the gods,” cried the Emperor, “this wise man is a fool! Here, some
of you, off with his head.”

“Liege,” said the Wise Man, “spare me my life and I will set sail for
Horaizan where grows the herb Immortality. I will pluck this herb and
bring it back to you again, that you may live and reign for ever.”

The Emperor considered.

“Well, go,” he said, “and linger not, or it will be the worse for you.”

Jofuku went and found brave companions to go with him on the great
adventure, and he manned a junk with the most famous mariners of China,
and he took stores on board, and gold; and when he had made all things
ready he set sail in the seventh month, about the time of the full moon.

The Emperor himself came down to the seashore.

“Speed, speed, Wise Man,” he said; “fetch me the herb Immortality, and
see that you do it presently. If you return without it, you and your
companions shall die the death.”

“Farewell, liege,” called Jofuku from the junk. So they went with a fair
wind for their white sails. The boards creaked, the ropes quivered, the
water splashed against the junk’s side, the sailors sang as they steered
a course eastward, the brave companions were merry. But the Wise Man of
China looked forward and looked back, and was sad because of the word
written upon his heart--_Mutability_.

The junk of Jofuku was for many days upon the wild sea, steering a
course eastwards. He and the sailors and the brave companions suffered
many things. The great heat burnt them, and the great cold froze them.
Hungry and thirsty they were, and some of them fell sick and died. More
were slain in a fight with pirates. Then came the dread typhoon, and
mountain waves that swept the junk. The masts and the sails were washed
away with the rich stores, and the gold was lost for ever. Drowned were
the famous mariners, and the brave companions every one. Jofuku was left

In the grey dawn he looked up. Far to the east he saw a mountain, very
faint, the colour of pearl, and on the mountain top there grew a tree,
tall, with spreading branches. The Wise Man murmured:

“The Island of Horaizan is east of the east, and there is Fusan, the
Wonder Mountain. On the heights of Fusan there grows a tree whose
branches hide the Mysteries of Life.”

Jofuku lay weak and weary and could not lift a finger. Nevertheless,
the junk glided nearer and nearer to the shore. Still and blue grew the
waters of the sea, and Jofuku saw the bright green grass and the
many-coloured flowers of the island. Soon there came troops of young men
and maidens bearing garlands and singing songs of welcome; and they
waded out into the water and drew the junk to land. Jofuku was aware of
the sweet and spicy odours that clung to their garments and their hair.
At their invitation he left the junk, which drifted away and was no more

He said, “I have come to Horaizan the Blest.” Looking up he saw that the
trees were full of birds with blue and golden feathers. The birds filled
the air with delightful melody. On all sides there hung the orange and
the citron, the persimmon and the pomegranate, the peach and the plum
and the loquat. The ground at his feet was as a rich brocade,
embroidered with every flower that is. The happy dwellers in Horaizan
took him by the hands and spoke lovingly to him.

“How strange it is,” said Jofuku, “I do not feel my old age any more.”

“What is old age?” they said.

“Neither do I feel any pain.”

“Now what is pain?” they said.

“The word is no longer written on my heart.”

“What word do you speak of, beloved?”

“_Mutability_ is the word.”

“And what may be its interpretation?”

“Tell me,” said the Wise Man, “is this death?”

“We have never heard of death,” said the inhabitants of Horaizan.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Wise Man of Japan was Wasobiobe. He was full as wise as the Wise Man
of China. He was not old but young. The people honoured him and loved
him. Often he was happy enough.

It was his pleasure to venture alone in a frail boat out to sea, there
to meditate in the wild and watery waste. Once as he did this it chanced
that he fell asleep in his boat, and he slept all night long, while his
boat drifted out to the eastward. So, when he awoke in the bright light
of morning, he found himself beneath the shadow of Fusan, the Wonder
Mountain. His boat lay in the waters of a river of Horaizan, and he
steered her amongst the flowering iris and the lotus, and sprang on

“The sweetest spot in the world!” he said. “I think I have come to
Horaizan the Blest.”

Soon came the youths and maidens of the island, and with them the Wise
Man of China, as young and as happy as they.

“Welcome, welcome, dear brother,” they cried, “welcome to the Island of
Eternal Youth.”

When they had given him to eat of the delicious fruit of the island,
they laid them down upon a bank of flowers to hear sweet music.
Afterwards they wandered in the woods and groves. They rode and hunted,
or bathed in the warm sea-water. They feasted and enjoyed every
delightful pleasure. So the long day lingered, and there was no night,
for there was no need of sleep, there was no weariness and no pain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Wise Man of Japan came to the Wise Man of China. He said:

“I cannot find my boat.”

“What matter, brother?” said Jofuku. “You want no boat here.”

“Indeed, my brother, I do. I want my boat to take me home. I am sick for
home. There’s the truth.”

“Are you not happy in Horaizan?”

“No, for I have a word written upon my heart. The word is _Humanity_.
Because of it I am troubled and have no peace.”

“Strange,” said the Wise Man of China. “Once I too had a word written on
my heart. The word was _Mutability_, but I have forgotten what it means.
Do you too forget.”

“Nay, I can never forget,” said the Wise Man of Japan.

He sought out the Crane, who is a great traveller, and besought her,
“Take me home to my own land.”

“Alas,” the Crane said, “if I did so you would die. This is the Island
of Eternal Youth; do you know you have been here for a hundred years? If
you go away you will feel old age and weariness and pain, then you will

“No matter,” said Wasobiobe, “take me home.”

Then the Crane took him on her strong back and flew with him. Day and
night she flew and never tarried and never tired. At last she said, “Do
you see the shore?”

And he said, “I see it. Praise be to the gods.”

She said, “Where shall I carry you?... You have but a little time to

“Good Crane, upon the dear sand of my country, under the spreading pine,
there sits a poor fisherman mending his net. Take me to him that I may
die in his arms.”

So the Crane laid Wasobiobe at the poor fisherman’s feet. And the
fisherman raised him in his arms. And Wasobiobe laid his head against
the fisherman’s humble breast.

“I might have lived for ever,” he said, “but for the word that is
written on my heart.”

“What word?” said the fisherman.

“_Humanity_ is the word,” the Wise Man murmured. “I am grown old--hold
me closer. Ah, the pain....” He gave a great cry.

Afterwards he smiled. Then his breath left him with a sigh, and he was

“It is the way of all flesh,” said the fisherman.



[Illustration: Reflections.--_P. 78._]

Long enough ago there dwelt within a day’s journey of the city of Kioto
a gentleman of simple mind and manners, but good estate. His wife, rest
her soul, had been dead these many years, and the good man lived in
great peace and quiet with his only son. They kept clear of women-kind,
and knew nothing at all either of their winning or their bothering ways.
They had good steady men-servants in their house, and never set eyes on
a pair of long sleeves or a scarlet _obi_ from morning till night.

The truth is that they were as happy as the day is long. Sometimes they
laboured in the rice-fields. Other days they went a-fishing. In the
spring, forth they went to admire the cherry flower or the plum, and
later they set out to view the iris or the peony or the lotus, as the
case might be. At these times they would drink a little _saké_, and
twist their blue and white _tenegui_ about their heads and be as jolly
as you please, for there was no one to say them nay. Often enough they
came home by lantern light. They wore their oldest clothes, and were
mighty irregular at their meals.

But the pleasures of life are fleeting--more’s the pity!--and presently
the father felt old age creeping upon him.

One night, as he sat smoking and warming his hands over the charcoal,
“Boy,” says he, “it’s high time you got married.”

“Now the gods forbid!” cries the young man. “Father, what makes you say
such terrible things? Or are you joking? You must be joking,” he says.

“I’m not joking at all,” says the father; “I never spoke a truer word,
and that you’ll know soon enough.”

“But, father, I am mortally afraid of women.”

“And am I not the same?” says the father. “I’m sorry for you, my boy.”

“Then what for must I marry?” says the son.

“In the way of nature I shall die before long, and you’ll need a wife to
take care of you.”

Now the tears stood in the young man’s eyes when he heard this, for he
was tender-hearted; but all he said was, “I can take care of myself very

“That’s the very thing you cannot,” says his father.

The long and short of it was that they found the young man a wife. She
was young, and as pretty as a picture. Her name was Tassel, just that,
or Fusa, as they say in her language.

After they had drunk down the “Three Times Three” together and so
became man and wife, they stood alone, the young man looking hard at the
girl. For the life of him he did not know what to say to her. He took a
bit of her sleeve and stroked it with his hand. Still he said nothing
and looked mighty foolish. The girl turned red, turned pale, turned red
again, and burst into tears.

“Honourable Tassel, don’t do that, for the dear gods’ sake,” says the
young man.

“I suppose you don’t like me,” sobs the girl. “I suppose you don’t think
I’m pretty.”

“My dear,” he says, “you’re prettier than the bean-flower in the field;
you’re prettier than the little bantam hen in the farm-yard; you’re
prettier than the rose carp in the pond. I hope you’ll be happy with my
father and me.”

At this she laughed a little and dried her eyes. “Get on another pair of
_hakama_,” she says, “and give me those you’ve got on you; there’s a
great hole in them--I was noticing it all the time of the wedding!”

Well, this was not a bad beginning, and taking one thing with another
they got on pretty well, though of course things were not as they had
been in that blessed time when the young man and his father did not set
eyes upon a pair of long sleeves or an _obi_ from morning till night.

By and by, in the way of nature, the old man died. It is said he made a
very good end, and left that in his strong-box which made his son the
richest man in the country-side. But this was no comfort at all to the
poor young man, who mourned his father with all his heart. Day and night
he paid reverence to the tomb. Little sleep or rest he got, and little
heed he gave to his wife, Mistress Tassel, and her whimsies, or even to
the delicate dishes she set before him. He grew thin and pale, and she,
poor maid, was at her wits’ end to know what to do with him. At last she
said, “My dear, and how would it be if you were to go to Kioto for a

“And what for should I do that?” he says.

It was on the tip of her tongue to answer, “To enjoy yourself,” but she
saw it would never do to say that.

“Oh,” she says, “as a kind of a duty. They say every man that loves his
country should see Kioto; and besides, you might give an eye to the
fashions, so as to tell me what like they are when you get home. My
things,” she says, “are sadly behind the times! I’d like well enough to
know what people are wearing!”

“I’ve no heart to go to Kioto,” says the young man, “and if I had, it’s
the planting-out time of the rice, and the thing’s not to be done, so
there’s an end of it.”

All the same, after two days he bids his wife get out his best _hakama_
and _haouri_, and to make up his _bento_ for a journey. “I’m thinking of
going to Kioto,” he tells her.

“Well, I am surprised,” says Mistress Tassel. “And what put such an idea
into your head, if I may ask?”

“I’ve been thinking it’s a kind of duty,” says the young man.

“Oh, indeed,” says Mistress Tassel to this, and nothing more, for she
had some grains of sense. And the next morning as ever was she packs her
husband off bright and early for Kioto, and betakes herself to some
little matter of house cleaning she has on hand.

The young man stepped out along the road, feeling a little better in his
spirits, and before long he reached Kioto. It is likely he saw many
things to wonder at. Amongst temples and palaces he went. He saw castles
and gardens, and marched up and down fine streets of shops, gazing about
him with his eyes wide open, and his mouth too, very like, for he was a
simple soul.

At length, one fine day he came upon a shop full of metal mirrors that
glittered in the sunshine.

“Oh, the pretty silver moons!” says the simple soul to himself. And he
dared to come near and take up a mirror in his hand.

The next minute he turned as white as rice and sat him down on the seat
in the shop door, still holding the mirror in his hand and looking into

“Why, father,” he said, “how did you come here? You are not dead, then?
Now the dear gods be praised for that! Yet I could have sworn---- But no
matter, since you are here alive and well. You are something pale still,
but how young you look. You move your lips, father, and seem to speak,
but I do not hear you. You’ll come home with me, dear, and live with us
just as you used to do? You smile, you smile, that is well.”

“Fine mirrors, my young gentleman,” said the shopman, “the best that can
be made, and that’s one of the best of the lot you have there. I see you
are a judge.”

The young man clutched his mirror tight and sat staring stupidly enough
no doubt. He trembled. “How much?” he whispered. “Is it for sale?” He
was in a taking lest his father should be snatched from him.

“For sale it is, indeed, most noble sir,” said the shopman, “and the
price is a trifle, only two _bu_. It’s almost giving it away I am, as
you’ll understand.”

“Two _bu_--only two _bu_! Now the gods be praised for this their mercy!”
cried the happy young man. He smiled from ear to ear, and he had the
purse out of his girdle, and the money out of his purse, in a twinkling.

Now it was the shopman who wished he had asked three _bu_ or even five.
All the same he put a good face upon it, and packed the mirror in a fine
white box and tied it up with green cords.

“Father,” said the young man, when he had got away with it, “before we
set out for home we must buy some gauds for the young woman there, my
wife, you know.”

Now, for the life of him, he could not have told why, but when he came
to his home the young man never said a word to Mistress Tassel about
buying his old father for two _bu_ in the Kioto shop. That was where he
made his mistake, as things turned out.

She was as pleased as you like with her coral hair-pins, and her fine
new _obi_ from Kioto. “And I’m glad to see him so well and so happy,”
she said to herself; “but I must say he’s been mighty quick to get over
his sorrow after all. But men are just like children.” As for her
husband, unbeknown to her he took a bit of green silk from her
treasure-box and spread it in the cupboard of the _toko no ma_. There he
placed the mirror in its box of white wood.

Every morning early and every evening late, he went to the cupboard of
the _toko no ma_ and spoke with his father. Many a jolly talk they had
and many a hearty laugh together, and the son was the happiest young man
of all that country-side, for he was a simple soul.

But Mistress Tassel had a quick eye and a sharp ear, and it was not long
before she marked her husband’s new ways.

“What for does he go so often to the _toko no ma_,” she asked herself,
“and what has he got there? I should be glad enough to know.” Not being
one to suffer much in silence, she very soon asked her husband these
same things.

He told her the truth, the good young man. “And now I have my dear old
father home again, I’m as happy as the day is long,” he says.

“H’m,” she says.

“And wasn’t two _bu_ cheap,” he says, “and wasn’t it a strange thing

“Cheap, indeed,” says she, “and passing strange; and why, if I may ask,”
she says, “did you say nought of all this at the first?”

The young man grew red.

“Indeed, then, I cannot tell you, my dear,” he says. “I’m sorry, but I
don’t know,” and with that he went out to his work.

Up jumped Mistress Tassel the minute his back was turned, and to the
_toko no ma_ she flew on the wings of the wind and flung open the doors
with a clang.

“My green silk for sleeve-linings!” she cried at once; “but I don’t see
any old father here, only a white wooden box. What can he keep in it?”

She opened the box quickly enough.

“What an odd flat shining thing!” she said, and, taking up the mirror,
looked into it.

For a moment she said nothing at all, but the great tears of anger and
jealousy stood in her pretty eyes, and her face flushed from forehead to

“A woman!” she cried, “a woman! So that is his secret! He keeps a woman
in this cupboard. A woman, very young and very pretty--no, not pretty at
all, but she thinks herself so. A dancing-girl from Kioto, I’ll be
bound; ill-tempered too--her face is scarlet; and oh, how she frowns,
nasty little spitfire. Ah, who could have thought it of him? Ah, it’s a
miserable girl I am--and I’ve cooked his _daikon_ and mended his
_hakama_ a hundred times. Oh! oh! oh!”

With that, she threw the mirror into its case, and slammed-to the
cupboard door upon it. Herself she flung upon the mats, and cried and
sobbed as if her heart would break.

In comes her husband.

“I’ve broken the thong of my sandal,” says he, “and I’ve come to---- But
what in the world?” and in an instant he was down on his knees beside
Mistress Tassel doing what he could to comfort her, and to get her face
up from the floor where she kept it.

“Why, what is it, my own darling?” says he.

“_Your_ own darling!” she answers very fierce through her sobs; and “I
want to go home,” she cries.

“But, my sweet, you are at home, and with your own husband.”

“Pretty husband!” she says, “and pretty goings-on, with a woman in the
cupboard! A hateful, ugly woman that thinks herself beautiful; and she
has _my_ green sleeve-linings there with her to boot.”

“Now, what’s all this about women and sleeve-linings? Sure you wouldn’t
grudge poor old father that little green rag for his bed? Come, my dear,
I’ll buy you twenty sleeve-linings.”

At that she jumped to her feet and fairly danced with rage.

“Old father! old father! old father!” she screamed; “am I a fool or a
child? I saw the woman with my own eyes.”

The poor young man didn’t know whether he was on his head or his heels.
“Is it possible that my father is gone?” he said, and he took the mirror
from the _toko no ma_.

“That’s well; still the same old father that I bought for two _bu_. You
seem worried, father; nay, then, smile as I do. There, that’s well.”

Mistress Tassel came like a little fury and snatched the mirror from his
hand. She gave but one look into it and hurled it to the other end of
the room. It made such a clang against the woodwork, that servants and
neighbours came rushing in to see what was the matter.

“It is my father,” said the young man. “I bought him in Kioto for two

“He keeps a woman in the cupboard who has stolen my green
sleeve-linings,” sobbed the wife.

After this there was a great to-do. Some of the neighbours took the
man’s part and some the woman’s, with such a clatter and chatter and
noise as never was; but settle the thing they could not, and none of
them would look into the mirror, because they said it was bewitched.

They might have gone on the way they were till doomsday, but that one of
them said, “Let us ask the Lady Abbess, for she is a wise woman.” And
off they all went to do what they might have done sooner.

The Lady Abbess was a pious woman, the head of a convent of holy nuns.
She was the great one at prayers and meditations and at mortifyings of
the flesh, and she was the clever one, none the less, at human affairs.
They took her the mirror, and she held it in her hands and looked into
it for a long time. At last she spoke:

“This poor woman,” she said, touching the mirror, “for it’s as plain as
daylight that it is a woman--this poor woman was so troubled in her mind
at the disturbance that she caused in a quiet house, that she has taken
vows, shaved her head, and become a holy nun. Thus she is in her right
place here. I will keep her, and instruct her in prayers and
meditations. Go you home, my children; forgive and forget, be friends.”

Then all the people said, “The Lady Abbess is the wise woman.”

And she kept the mirror in her treasure.

Mistress Tassel and her husband went home hand in hand.

“So I was right, you see, after all,” she said.

“Yes, yes, my dear,” said the simple young man, “of course. But I was
wondering how my old father would get on at the holy convent. He was
never much of a one for religion.”



When Izanagi, the Lord who Invites, turned his back upon the unclean
place, and bade farewell to Yomi, the World of the Dead, whither he had
journeyed upon a quest, he beheld once more the Land of Fresh Rice Ears,
and was glad. And he rested by the side of a clear river that he might
perform purification.

And Izanagi-no-Mikoto bathed in the upper reach. But he said, “The water
of the upper reach is too rapid.” Then he bathed in the lower reach; but
he said, “The water of the lower reach is too sluggish.” So he went down
for the third time and bathed in the middle reach of the river. And as
the water dropped from his beautiful countenance there were created
three sublime deities--Ama Terassu, the Glory of High Heaven;
Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami, the Moon-Night-Possessor; and Susa, the Impetuous,
the Lord of the Sea.

Then Izanagi-no-Mikoto rejoiced, saying, “Behold the three august
children that are mine, who shall also be illustrious for ever.” And,
taking the great string of jewels from his neck, he bestowed it upon
Ama Terassu, the Glorious, and said to her, “Do Thine Augustness rule
the Plain of High Heaven, shining in thy beauty by day.” So she took the
august jewels and hid them in the storehouse of the gods.

And the Lord of Invitation commanded Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami, saying, “Do
Thine Augustness rule the Dominion of the Night.” Now this was a youth
of a fair and pleasant countenance.

And to the youngest of the deities, his Augustness the Lord Izanagi gave
the Sea Plain.

So Ama Terassu ruled the day, and Tsuki-Yomi-no-Kami softly ruled the
night. But Susa, the Impetuous, flung himself upon the ground and
violently wept, for he said, “Ah, miserable, to dwell for ever upon the
confines of the cold sea!” So he ceased not in his weeping, and took the
moisture of the valley for his tears, so that the green places were
withered and the rivers and streams were dried up. And evil deities
increased and flourished, and as they swarmed upon the earth their noise
was as the noise of flies in the fifth moon; and far and wide there
arose portents of woe.

Then his father, the Lord of Invitation, came and stood terribly by him
and said, “What is this that I do see and hear? Why dost thou not rule
the dominions with which I charged thee, but lie here, like a child,
with tears and wailings? Answer.”

And Susa, the Impetuous, answered, “I wail because I am in misery and
love not this place, but would depart to my mother who rules the Nether
Distant Land, who is called the Queen of Yomi, the World of the Dead.”

Then Izanagi was wroth and expelled him with a divine expulsion, and
charged him that he should depart and show his face no more.

And Susa, the Impetuous, answered, “So be it. But first I will ascend to
High Heaven to take leave of Her Augustness, my sister, who is the Glory
of Heaven, and then I will depart.”

So he went up to Heaven with a noise and a great speed, and at his going
all the mountains shook and every land and country quaked. And Ama
Terassu, the Light of Heaven, she also trembled at his coming, and said,
“This coming of His Augustness, my brother, is of no good intent, but to
lay hold of mine inheritance, and to take it by force. For this alone
does he invade the fastness of High Heaven.”

And forthwith she divided the hair that hung upon her shoulders and
rolled it in two august bunches to the left and to the right, and
adorned it with jewels. So she made her head like the head of a young
warrior. And she slung upon her back a great bow and a quiver of arrows,
one thousand and five hundred arrows, and she took in her hand a bamboo
staff and brandished it and stamped upon the ground with her armed feet,
so that the earth flew like powdered snow. So she came to the bank of
the Tranquil River of Heaven and stood valiantly, like unto a mighty
man, and waited.

And Susa, the Impetuous, spoke from the farther bank: “My lovely
sister, Thine Augustness, why comest thou thus armed against me?”

And she answered, “Nay, but wherefore ascendest thou hither?”

And Susa replied, “There is nothing evil in my mind. Because I desired
to dwell in the Land of Yomi, therefore has my father deigned to expel
me with a divine expulsion, and I thought to take leave of thee, and so
I have ascended hither. I have no evil intention.”

And she, bending her great eyes on him, said “Swear.”

And he swore, by the ten-grasp sword that was girded on him, and after
that he swore by the jewels in her hair. Then she suffered him to cross
over the Tranquil River of Heaven, and also to cross over the Floating
Bridge. So Susa, the Impetuous, entered the dominions of his sister, the
Sun Goddess.

But his wild spirit never ceased to chafe. And he pillaged the fair
lands of Ama Terassu and broke down the divisions of the rice-fields
which she had planted, and filled in the ditches. Still the Light of
Heaven upbraided him not, but said, “His Augustness, my brother,
believes that the land should not be wasted by ditches and divisions,
and that rice should be sown everywhere, without distinction.” But
notwithstanding her soft words Susa, the Impetuous, continued in his
evil ways and became more and more violent.

Now, as the great Sun Goddess sat with her maidens in the awful Weaving
Hall of High Heaven, seeing to the weaving of the august garments of
the gods, her brother made a mighty chasm in the roof of the Weaving
Hall, and through the chasm he let down a heavenly piebald horse. And
the horse fled hither and thither in terror, and wrought great havoc
amongst the looms and amongst the weaving maidens. And Susa himself
followed like a rushing tempest and like a storm of waters flooding the
hall, and all was confusion and horror. And in the press the Sun Goddess
was wounded with her golden shuttle. So with a cry she fled from High
Heaven and hid herself in a cave; and she rolled a rock across the
cave’s mouth.

Then dark was the Plain of High Heaven, and black dark the Central Land
of Reed Plains, and eternal night prevailed. Hereupon the voices of the
deities as they wandered over the face of the earth were like unto the
flies in the fifth moon, and from far and near there arose portents of
woe. Therefore did the Eight Hundred Myriad Deities assemble with a
divine assembly in the dry bed of the Tranquil River of Heaven, there to
hold parley, and to make decision what should be done. And His
Augustness the Lord of Deep Thoughts commanded them. So they called
together the Singing Birds of Eternal Night. And they charged
Ama-tsu-mara, the Divine Smith, to make them a mirror of shining white
metal. And they charged Tama-noya-no-mikoto to string together many
hundreds of curved jewels. And, having performed divination by the
shoulder-blade of a stag of Mount Kagu, they uprooted a sacred tree, a
_sakaki_, of five hundred branches. And they hung the jewels upon the
branches of the tree, and they hung the mirror upon its branches. And
all the lower branches they covered with offerings, streamers of white
and streamers of blue, and they bore the tree before the rock cavern
where the Sun Goddess was. And immediately the assembled birds sang.
Then a divine maiden of fair renown, who for grace and skill in dancing
had no sister, either in the Land of Rice Ears or upon the Plain of High
Heaven, stood before the cavern door. And there was hung about her for a
garland the club moss from Mount Kagu, and her head was bound with the
leaves of the spindle-tree and with flowers of gold and flowers of
silver, and a sheaf of green bamboo-grass was in her hands. And she
danced before the cavern door as one possessed, for heaven and earth
have not seen the like of her dancing. It was more lovely than the
pine-tops waving in the wind or the floating of sea foam, and the cloud
race upon the Plain of High Heaven is not to be compared with it. And
the earth quaked and High Heaven shook, and all the Eight Hundred Myriad
Deities laughed together.

Now Ama Terassu, the Glory of Heaven, lay in the rock cavern, and the
bright light streamed from her fair body in rays, so that she was as a
great jewel of price. And pools of water gleamed in the floor of the
cavern, and the slime upon the walls gleamed with many colours, and the
small rock-plants flourished in the unwonted heat, so that the heavenly
lady lay in a bower and slept. And she awoke because of the song of the
Eternal Singing Birds, and she raised herself and flung the hair back
over her shoulder, and said, “Alack, the poor birds that sing in the
long night!” And there came to her the sound of dancing and of high
revel and of the merriment of the gods, so she was still and listened.
And presently she felt the Plain of High Heaven shake, and heard the
Eight Hundred Myriad Deities as they laughed together. And she arose and
came to the door of the cavern, and rolled back the great stone a little
way. And a beam of light fell upon the dancing maiden where she stood,
panting, in all her array; but the other deities were yet in darkness,
and they looked at each other and were still. Then spoke the Fair Glory
of Heaven: “Methought that because I was hidden the Plain of High Heaven
should be dark, and black dark the Central Land of Reed Plains. How,
then, doth the Dancing Maiden go thus, adorned with garlands and her
head tired? And why do the Eight Hundred Myriad Deities laugh together?”

Then the Dancing Maiden made answer: “O Thine Augustness, that art the
sweet delight of all the deities, behold the divine maidens are decked
with flowers, and the gods assemble with shouts. We rejoice and are glad
because there is a goddess more illustrious than Thine Augustness.”

And Ama Terassu heard and was wroth. And she covered her face with her
long sleeves, so that the deities should not see her tears; howbeit,
they fell like the falling stars. Then the youths of the Court of
Heaven stood by the _sakaki_ tree, where hung the mirror that was made
by Ama-tsu-Mara, the Divine Smith. And they cried, “Lady, look and
behold the new paragon of Heaven!”

And Ama Terassu said, “Indeed, I will not behold.” Nevertheless, she
presently let slip the sleeves that covered her countenance and looked
in the mirror. And as she looked, and beheld, and was dazzled by her own
beauty, that was without peer, she came forth slowly from the rocks of
the cavern. And the light of her flooded High Heaven, and below the rice
ears waved and shook themselves, and the wild cherry rushed into flower.
And all the deities joined their hands in a ring about Ama Terassu, the
Goddess of the Sun, and the door of the rock cavern was shut. Then the
Dancing Maiden cried, “O Lady, Thine Augustness, how should any Deity be
born to compare with thee, the Glory of Heaven?”

So with joy they bore the goddess to her place.

But Susa, the Swift, the Brave, the Impetuous, the Long-Haired, the
Thrice Unhappy, the Lord of the Sea, him the deities arraigned to stand
trial in the dry bed of the Tranquil River of Heaven. And they took
counsel, and fined him with a great fine. And, having shorn him of his
hair, which was his beauty and his pride (for it was blue-black as an
iris, and hung below his knee), they banished him for ever from the
heavenly precincts.

So Susa descended to earth by the Floating Bridge with bitterness in his
heart, and for many days he wandered in despair, he knew not whither. By
fair rice-fields he came, and by barren moors, heeding nothing; and at
last he stayed to rest by the side of the river called Hi, which is in
the land of Izumo.

And as he sat, moody, his head on his hand, and looked down at the
water, he beheld a chopstick floating on the surface of the stream. So
Susa, the Impetuous, arose immediately, saying, “There are people at the
river head.” And he pursued his way up the bank in quest of them. And
when he had gone not a great way, he found an old man weeping and
lamenting very grievously, among the reeds and willows by the
water-side. And there was with him a lady of great state and beauty,
like unto the daughter of a deity; but her fair eyes were marred with
many tears, and she moaned continually and wrung her hands. And these
twain had between them a young maid of very slender and delicate form;
but her face Susa could not see, for she covered it with a veil. And
ever and anon she moved and trembled with fear, or seemed to beseech the
old man earnestly, or plucked the lady by the sleeve; at which these
last but shook their heads sorrowfully, and returned to their

And Susa, full of wonder, drew near and asked the old man, “Who art

And the old man answered, “I am an earthly deity of the mountains. This
is my wife, who weeps with me by the water-side, and the child is my
youngest daughter.”

And Susa inquired of him again, “What is the cause of your weeping and

And he answered, “Know, sir, that I am an earthly deity of renown, and I
was the father of eight fair daughters. But a horror broods over the
land, for every year at this time it is ravaged by a monster, the
eight-forked serpent of Koshi, that delights in the flesh of young
virgins. In seven years have my seven sweet children been devoured. And
now the time of my youngest-born is at hand. Therefore do we weep, O
Thine Augustness.”

Then said Susa, the Impetuous, “What is the likeness of this monster?”

And the deities of the mountain made answer: “His eyes are fiery and red
as the _akakagachi_ (that is, the winter cherry). He has but one body,
with eight heads and eight scaly tails. Moreover, on his body grows
moss, together with the fir and the cryptomeria of the forest. In his
going he covers eight valleys and eight hills, and upon his under side
he is red and gory.”

Then the Lord Susa, the Impetuous, cried, “My lord, give me thy

And the earthly deity, seeing his strength and great beauty and the
brightness of his countenance, knew that he was a god, and answered,
“With all reverence do I offer her unto thee. Howbeit, I know not thine
august name.”

And Susa said, “I am Susa, the Sea God, the exile of High Heaven.”

[Illustration: The Story of Susa, the Impetuous.--_P. 99._]

And the mountain deity and also his fair wife spoke, saying, “So be it,
Thine Augustness, take the young maid.”

And immediately Susa flung away the veil and saw the face of his bride,
pale as the moon in winter. And he touched her on the forehead, and
said, “Fair and beloved, fair and beloved....”

And the maid flushed faintly to stand thus barefaced. Howbeit, she had
little need, for the tears that stood in my lord Susa’s eyes were veil
enough for her modesty. And he said again, “Dear and beautiful, our
pleasure shall be hereafter, now we may not tarry.”

So he took the young maid at once, and changed her into a crown for his
head. And Susa wore the crown gallantly. And he instructed the earthly
deity, and together they brewed _saké_, refined eight-fold; and with the
_saké_ they filled eight vats and set them in readiness; and when all
was prepared they waited. And presently there was a mighty noise, like
the sound of an earthquake, and the hills and valleys shook. And the
serpent crawled in sight, huge and horrible, so that the earthly deities
hid their faces for fear. But Susa, the Impetuous, gazed upon the
serpent with his sword drawn.

Now the serpent had eight heads, and immediately he dipped a head into
each vat of _saké_ and drank long. Thereupon he became drunken with the
distilled liquor, and all the heads lay down and slept.

Then the Lord Susa brandished his ten-grasp sword, and leapt upon the
monster and cut off the eight heads with eight valiant strokes. So the
serpent was slain with a great slaying, and the river Hi flowed on, a
river of blood. And Susa cut the tails of the serpent also, and as he
struck the fourth tail the edge of his august sword was turned back. So
he probed with its point, and found a great jewelled sword with a blade
sharp as no known smith could temper it. And he took the sword and sent
it for an offering to the Sun Goddess, his august sister. This is the
herb-quelling sword.

And Susa, the Impetuous, built him a palace at the place called Suga,
and dwelt there with his bride. And the clouds of heaven hung like a
curtain round about the palace. Then the Lord Susa sang this song:

    “Many clouds arise.
       The manifold fence of the forth-issuing clouds
     Makes a manifold fence,
       For the spouses to be within.
     Oh, the manifold fence....”



It was a Deity from High Heaven that planted the Pine Tree.

So long ago that the crane cannot remember it, and the tortoise knows it
only by hearsay from his great-grandmother, the heavenly deity
descended. Lightly, lightly he came by way of the Floating Bridge,
bearing the tree in his right hand. Lightly, lightly his feet touched
the earth.

He said, “I have come to the Land of the Reed Plains. I have come to the
Land of Fresh Rice Ears. It is a good land; I am satisfied.” And he
planted the Pine Tree within the sound of the sea at Takasaga, which is
in the Province of Harima. Then he went up again to High Heaven by way
of the Floating Bridge.

But the Pine Tree flourished. So great it grew, there was not a greater
in all the Land of the Reed Plains. Its trunk was rosy red, and beneath
it spread a brown carpet of fallen needles.

In the sweet nights of summer the Children of the Woods came hand in
hand to the Pine Tree by moonlight, slipping their slim dark feet upon
the moss, and tossing back their long green hair.

The Children of the Water came by moonlight, all drenching wet their
sleeves, and the bright drops fell from their finger-tips. The Children
of the Air rested in the Pine Tree’s branches, and made murmuring music
all the live-long night. The Children of the Sea Foam crept up the
yellow sands; and from the confines of Yomi came the Mysteries, the
Sounds and the Scents of the Dark--with faces veiled and thin grey
forms, they came, and they hung upon the air about the place where the
Pine Tree was, so that the place was holy and haunted.

Lovers wandering upon the beach at Takasaga would hear the great company
of Spirits singing together.

“Joy of my heart,” they said to one another, “do you hear the wind in
the Pine Tree?”

Poor souls lying sick a-bed would listen, and fishermen far out at sea
would pause in their labour to whisper, “The wind, the wind in the Pine
Tree! How the sound carries over the water!”

As for the coming of the Maiden, the crane cannot remember it, but the
tortoise has it of his great-grandmother that she was born of poor
parents in Takasaga. The Maiden was brown and tall and slender; in face
and form most lovely. Her hair hung down to her knees. She rose at dawn
to help her mother; she found sticks for the fire, she drew water at the
well. She could spin and weave with the best; and for long, long hours
she sat and plied her wheel or her shuttle in the shade of the great
Pine Tree, whilst her ears heard the sound of the wind in its branches.
Sometimes her eyes looked out over the paths of the sea, as one who
waits and watches. She was calm, not restless, more grave than gay,
though she smiled not seldom. Her voice was the voice of a Heavenly

Now concerning the Youth from the far province, of him the crane knows
something, for the crane is a great traveller. She was flying over the
streams and the valleys of the far province, so she says, when she saw
the Youth at work in the green rice-fields. The crane lingered, circling
slowly in the bright air. The Youth stood up. He looked round upon the
valleys and streams; he looked into the sky.

“I hear the call,” he said. “I may tarry no longer. Voice in my heart, I
hear and I obey.”

With that he left the rice-field, and bade farewell to his mother and
his father and his sisters and his brothers and his friends. All
together, they came down to the seashore, weeping and clinging to each
other. The Youth took a boat and went away to sea, and the rest of them
stood upon the beach.

On sped the boat for many a day over the unknown paths of the sea. And
the white crane flew behind the boat. And when the wind failed, she
pushed the boat forward with the wind of her strong wings.

At last, one evening about the hour of sunset, the Youth heard the
sound of sweet singing. The sound came to him from the land, and it
travelled over the paths of the sea. He stood up in his boat, and the
crane beat her strong white wings and guided his boat to the shore till
its keel touched the yellow sand of the sea-beach of Takasaga.

When the Youth had come ashore he pushed the boat out again with the
waves, and watched it drift away. Then he turned his face inland. The
sound of music was still in his ears. The voice was like the voice of a
Heavenly Being, and strange and mystical were the words of the song:--

    “The lover brought a love gift to his mistress,
     Jewels of jade upon a silken string;
     Well-carved jewels,
     Well-rounded jewels,
     Green as the grass,
     Upon a silken string.
     The jewels know not one another,
     The string they know,
     Oh, the strength of the silken string!”

The Youth went inland and came to the great Pine Tree and to the Maid
that sat beneath, weaving diligently and singing. The crane came flying
with her strong white wings, and perched upon the Tree’s topmost
branches. The tortoise lay below on the brown carpet of needles. He
watched and saw much with his little eyes, but he said nothing, being
very silent by nature.

The Youth stood before the Maiden, waiting.

“Whence come you?” she said, lifting up her eyes.

“I have come across the sea path. I have come from afar.”

“And wherefore came you?”

“That you must know best, seeing it was your voice that sang in my

“Do you bring me the gift?” she said.

“Indeed, I bring you the complete gift, jewels of jade upon a silken

“Come,” she said, and rose and took him by the hand. And they went to
her father’s house.

So they drank the “Three Times Three,” and were made man and wife, and
lived in sweet tranquillity many, many years.

All the time the crane dwelt in the Pine Tree’s topmost branches, and
the tortoise on the brown carpet of needles below.

At last the Youth and Maiden, that once were, became white-haired, old,
and withered, by the swift, relentless passage of years.

“Fair love,” said the old man, “how weary I grow! It is sad to be old.”

“Say not so, dear delight of my heart,” said the old woman; “say not so,
the best of all is to come.”

“My dear,” said the old man, “I have a desire to see the great Pine Tree
before I die, and to listen once more to the song of the wind in its

“Come, then,” she said, and rose and took him by the hand.

Old and faint and worn, with feeble, tottering steps, and hand in hand
they came.

“How faint I grow,” said the old man. “Ah, I am afraid! How dark it is!
Hold you my hand....”

“I have it fast in mine. There, lie down, lie down, dear love; be still
and listen to the wind in the Pine Tree.”

He lay on the soft brown bed beneath the Pine Tree’s boughs; and the
wind sang.

She who was his love and his wife bent over him and sheltered him. And
he suffered the great change.

Then he opened his eyes and looked at her. She was tall and straight and
slender, in face and form most lovely, and each of them was young as the
gods are young. He put out his hand and touched her. “Your long black
hair ...” he said.

Once more she bade him, “Come.” Lightly they left the ground. To the
sound of the wind’s music they swayed, they floated, they rose into the
air. Higher they rose and higher. The branches of the Pine Tree received
them, and they were no more seen.

Still, in the sweet nights of summer, the Children of the Woods come
hand in hand to the Pine Tree by moonlight, slipping their slim dark
feet upon the moss, and tossing back their long green hair.

The Children of the Water come by moonlight, all drenching wet their
sleeves, and the bright drops fall from their finger-tips. The Children
of the Air rest in the Pine Tree’s branches, and make murmuring music
all the live-long night. The Children of the Sea Foam creep up the
yellow sands; and from the confines of Yomi come the Mysteries, the
Sounds and the Scents of the Dark--with faces veiled and thin grey
forms, they come, and they hang upon the air about the place where the
Pine Tree is, so that the place is holy and haunted.

Lovers wandering upon the beach at Takasaga hear the great company of
Spirits singing together.

“Joy of my heart,” they say to one another, “do you hear the wind in the
Pine Tree?”



Aya, sweet maid, was the only child of a _daimyo_ of the Province of
Omi. Mother had she none, and her father was a noble lord and a warrior.
He was at the Court of the Shogun, or he had weighty affairs at the
capital, or he went here and there with armies and overcame his enemies.
Aya saw little of him.

Long years she dwelt with her nurse and her maidens within the walls of
her father’s castle. High walls were they and well-guarded, and at their
foot was a deep moat which was rosy with lotus flowers all the seventh

When the Lady Aya was some sixteen years old her father the _daimyo_
came home victorious from a foray, and she went with her maidens to meet
him in the gate. She was dressed in her bravest, and as became her rank.

“My lord and father,” she said, “sweet is your honourable return.”

“Child, how you have grown!” her father said, astonished. “How old are
you, Aya?”

“Sixteen years old, lord,” she said.

“By all the gods, you are become a little great young lady, and I
thought you were a baby and brought you home a doll for a home-coming

He laughed, but presently afterwards grew grave, and in deep thought he
went into the castle.

Soon after this he began to look about him, to find a fitting husband
for his daughter.

“Best it should be done now,” he said, “for a wonder has come to pass,
and I am at peace with every _daimyo_ in the land--and it will not

The Lord of Ako, in Harima, had three tall sons, fine young men and
warriors all.

“The eldest is over old,” said the Lord of Omi. “The youngest is a
boy--but what of the middle brother? It seems to me that the middle
brother should do well. They say that second thoughts are best,” said
the Lord of Omi.

So after messengers had come and gone, the Lady Aya was betrothed to the
young Lord of Ako, and there was great rejoicing in all the
country-side, for all the man and the maiden had never set eyes on one

The Lady Aya was very glad when she saw the presents that came from her
bridegroom’s house. She sat with the seamstress of the castle and
fingered the soft stuffs of her fine new robes. For the rest, she played
with her maidens the live-long day, or took her broidery frame, plying
the needle and long silken thread. It was the month of May, and very
often they took the air in a garden gallery, where Aya and her maids
laughed together, and sometimes they spoke of the young Lord of Ako and
how brave and beautiful he was, how skilful in art and in war, and how
rich. When evening came they slipped down the gallery steps and into the
garden, where they went hither and thither, hand in hand, to enjoy the
cool air and the sweet scent of the flowers.

One night the Lady Aya walked in the garden according to her wont. The
moon rose, round and silver.

“Ah me,” sighed one of the maidens, “the moon is a love-lorn lady. Look
how pale and wan she goes, and even now she will hide her eyes with her
long sleeve of cloud.”

“You speak sooth,” returned Aya, “the moon is a love-lorn lady; but have
you seen her faint sister who is sadder and fairer than she?”

“Who, then, is the moon’s sister?” asked all the maidens at once.

Aya said, “Come and see--come.”

With that she drew them along the paths of the garden to the still pond,
where were the dancing fireflies and the frogs that sang musically.
Holding each other’s hands, the maidens looked down into the water, and
one and all they beheld the moon’s sister, and they laughed softly
together. While they played by the water’s brim, the Lady Aya’s foot
slipped upon a smooth stone, and most assuredly she would have fallen
into the pond. But all of a sudden a youth leapt forward out of the
sweet secrecy of the night, and caught her in his arms. For a moment all
the maidens beheld the glimmer of his garments. Then he was gone. Aya
stood alone, trembling. Down gazed the moon, wide-eyed and sorrowful;
and still more sorrowful and sweet, upwards gazed the moon’s pale
sister. They saw a band of silent maidens who stood in a wilderness of
blossoming peony flowers, that grew to the water’s edge. It was the Lady
Aya who loved them and had them planted so.

Now the lady turned without a word and moved along the paths of the
garden very slowly, hanging her head. When she came to the garden
gallery she left all her maidens save one, and went silently to her

There she was for a long space, saying nothing. She sat and traced the
pattern on her robe with the point of her finger. And Sada, her maiden,
was over against her.

At length, “He was a great lord,” said Aya.

“Truth, lady.”

“He was young.”

“He was passing well-favoured.”

“Alas! he saved my life, and I had not time to thank him.”

“The moon shone upon the jewelled mounting of his sword.”

“And his robe that was broidered with peony flowers--my peony flowers.”

“Lady, the hour grows very late.”

“Well, then, untie my girdle.”

“You look pale, lady.”

“Small marvel, I am weary.”

“Lady, what of the young Lord of Ako?”

“What of him? Why, I have not seen him. Enough, let be--no more of him.
Alas! I am drowsy, I know not what I say.”

After this night the Lady Aya, that had been so fresh and fair and
dancing gay as a wave of the sea, fell into a pale melancholy. By day
she sighed, and by night she wept. She smiled no more as she beheld her
rich wedding-garments, and she would not play any more with her maidens
upon the garden gallery. She wandered like a shadow, or lay speechless
in her bower. And all the wise men and all the wise women of that
country-side were not able to heal her of her sickness.

Then the maid Sada, weeping and hiding her face with her sleeve, went to
the Lord of the House and told him of the moonlight adventure and the
fair youth of the peony bed.

“Ah me,” she said, “my sweet mistress pines and dies for the love of
this beautiful young man.”

“Child,” said the _daimyo_, “how you talk! My daughter’s garden is well
guarded by walls and by men-at-arms. It is not possible that any
stranger should enter it. What, then, is this tale of the moon and a
_samurai_ in peony garments and all manner of other foolishness, and how
will such a tale sound in the ears of the Lord of Ako?”

But Sada wept and said, “My mistress will die.”

“To fight in the field, to flatter at Court and to speak in Council, all
these are easy,” said the _daimyo_, “but preserve me from the affairs of
my women, for they are too hard for me.”

With that he made a search of all the castle and the castle grounds, but
not a trace did he find of any stranger in hiding.

That night the Lady Aya called piteously for the cooler air, so they
bore her out on to her garden gallery, where she lay in O Sada’s arms. A
minstrel of the household took his _biwa_, and to soothe her he made
this song:

    “Music of my lute--
     Is it born, does it die,
     Is it truth or a lie?
     Whence, whence and where,
     Enchanted air?
     Music of my lute
          Is mute.

    “Sweet scents in the night--
     Do they float, do they seem,
     Are they essence of dream,
     Or thus are they said
     The thoughts of the Dead?
     Sweet scents in the night

Now, while the minstrel sang and touched his instrument, a fair youth
stood up from the rosy sea of peonies by the pond. All there saw him
clearly, his bright eyes, his sword, and his dress broidered with
flowers. The Lady Aya gave a wild cry and ran to the edge of the garden
gallery, holding out her white arms. And immediately the vision passed
away. But the minstrel took up his _biwa_ once more and sang:

    “Love more strange than death--
     Is it longer than life,
     Is it hotter than strife?
     Strong, strong and blind,
     Transcending kind--
     Love more strange than death
          Or breath.”

At this the mysterious knight of the flowers stood once again straight
and tall, and his shining eyes were fixed upon the Lady Aya.

Then a gentleman of the company of the _daimyo_, who was a mighty man of
war, drew his sword forthwith and leapt down amongst the peonies to do
battle with the bold stranger that so gazed upon his master’s daughter.
And at that a cloud drew across the moon’s face as if by faery, and of a
sudden a great hot wind blew from the south. The lights died upon the
garden gallery, the maidens held their garments together while their
long gossamer sleeves floated out. All the peony bed was tossed about
like a troubled sea, and the pink and white petals flew like foam. A
mist, damp and over-sweet, hung upon the wind, so that all who were
there grew faint and clung to one another, trembling.

When they were recovered, they found the night still and the moon
undimmed. The soldier of the _daimyo’s_ company stood panting and white
as death at the steps of the garden gallery. In his right hand he held
his unstained sword, in his left a perfect peony flower.

“I have him,” he shouted; “he could not escape me. I have him fast.”

Aya said, “Give me the flower”; and he gave it her without a word, as
one in a dream.

Then Aya went to her bower and slept with the peony upon her breast and
was satisfied.

For nine days she kept the flower. The sweet colour came to her face,
and the light to her eyes. She was perfectly healed of her sickness.

She set the peony in a bronze vase and it did not droop or fade, but
grew larger and more lovely all the nine days.

At the end of this time the young Lord of Ako came riding in great pomp
and state to claim his long-promised lady. So he and the Lady Aya were
wed in the midst of much feasting and rejoicing. Howbeit, they say she
made but a pale bride. And the same day the peony withered and was
thrown away.



There were once two farmer men who were brothers. Both of them worked
hard in seed-time and in harvest-time. They stood knee-deep in water to
plant out the young rice, bending their backs a thousand times an hour;
they wielded the sickle when the hot sun shone; when the rain poured
down in torrents, there they were still at their digging or such like,
huddled up in their rice-straw rain coats, for in the sweat of their
brows did they eat their bread.

The elder of the two brothers was called Cho. For all he laboured so
hard he was passing rich. From a boy he had had a saving way with him,
and had put by a mint of money. He had a big farm, too, and not a year
but that he did well, what with his rice, and his silk-worms, and his
granaries and storehouses. But there was nothing to show for all this,
if it will be believed. He was a mean, sour man with not so much as a
“good day” and a cup of tea for a wayfarer, or a cake of cold rice for a
beggar man. His children whimpered when he came near them, and his wife
was much to be pitied.

The younger of the two brothers was called Kanè. For all he laboured so
hard he was as poor as a church mouse. Bad was his luck, his silk-worms
died, and his rice would not flourish. In spite of this he was a merry
fellow, a bachelor who loved a song and an honest cup of _saké_. His
roof, his pipe, his meagre supper, all these he would share, very
gladly, with the first-comer. He had the nimblest tongue for a comical
joke, and the kindest heart in the world. But it is a true thing, though
it is a pity all the same, that a man cannot live on love and laughter,
and presently Kanè was in a bad way.

“There’s nothing for it,” he says, “but to pocket my pride” (for he had
some) “and go and see what my brother Cho will do for me, and I’m
greatly mistaken if it will be much.”

So he borrows some clothes from a friend for the visit, and sets off in
very neat _hakama_, looking quite the gentleman, and singing a song to
keep his heart up.

He sees his brother standing outside his house, and the first minute he
thinks he is seeing a boggart, Cho is in such ragged gear. But presently
he sings out, “You’re early, Cho.”

“You’re early, Kanè,” says Cho.

“May I come in and talk a bit?” asks Kanè.

“Yes,” says Cho, “you can; but you won’t find anything to eat at this
time of day, nor yet to drink, so let disappointments be avoided.”

“Very well,” says Kanè; “as it happens, it’s not food I’ve come for.”

When they were inside the house and sitting on the mats, Cho says,
“That’s a fine suit of clothes you’ve got on you, Kanè. You must be
doing well. It’s not me that can afford to go about the muddy roads
dressed up like a prince. Times are bad, very bad.”

In spite of this not being a good beginning, Kanè plucks up his courage
and laughs. And presently he says:

“Look here, brother. These are borrowed clothes, my own will hardly hold
together. My rice crop was ruined, and my silk-worms are dead. I have
not a _rin_ to buy rice seed or new worms. I am at my wits’ end, and I
have come to you begging, so now you have it. For the sake of the mother
that bore us both, give me a handful of seed and a few silk-worms’

At this Cho made as if he would faint with astonishment and dismay.

“Alack! Alack!” he says. “I am a poor man, a very poor man. Must I rob
my wife and my miserable children?” And thus he bewailed himself and
talked for half an hour.

But to make a long story short, Cho says that out of filial piety, and
because of the blessed mother of them both, he must make shift to give
Kanè the silk-worms’ eggs and the rice. So he gets a handful of dead
eggs and a handful of musty and mouldy rice. “These are no good to man
or beast,” says the old fox to himself, and he laughs. But to his own
blood-brother he says, “Here, Kanè. It’s the best silk-worms’ eggs I am
giving you, and the best rice of all my poor store, and I cannot afford
it at all; and may the gods forgive me for robbing my poor wife and my

Kanè thanks his brother with all his heart for his great generosity, and
bows his head to the mats three times. Then off he goes, with the
silk-worms’ eggs and the rice in his sleeve, skipping and jumping with
joy, for he thought that his luck had turned at last. But in the muddy
parts of the road he was careful to hold up his _hakama_, for they were

When he reached home he gathered great store of green mulberry leaves.
This was for the silk-worms that were going to be hatched out of the
dead eggs. And he sat down and waited for the silk-worms to come. And
come they did, too, and that was very strange, because the eggs were
dead eggs for sure. The silk-worms were a lively lot; they ate the
mulberry leaves in a twinkling, and lost no time at all, but began to
wind themselves into cocoons that minute. Then Kanè was the happy man.
He went out and told his good fortune to all the neighbours. This was
where he made his mistake. And he found a peddlar man who did his rounds
in those parts, and gave him a message to take to his brother Cho, with
his compliments and respectful thanks, that the silk-worms were doing
uncommonly well. This was where he made a bigger mistake. It was a pity
he could not let well alone.

When Cho heard of his brother’s luck he was not pleased. Pretty soon he
tied on his straw sandals and was off to Kanè’s farm. Kanè was out when
he got there, but Cho did not care for that. He went to have a look at
the silk-worms. And when he saw how they were beginning to spin
themselves into cocoons, as neat as you please, he took a sharp knife
and cut every one of them in two. Then he went away home, the bad man!
When Kanè came to look after his silk-worms he could not help thinking
they looked a bit queer. He scratches his head and he says, “It almost
appears as though each of them has been cut in half. They seem dead,” he
says. Then out he goes and gathers a great lot of mulberry leaves. And
all those half silk-worms set to and ate up the mulberry leaves, and
after that there were just twice as many silk-worms spinning away as
there were before. And that was very strange, because the silk-worms
were dead for sure.

When Cho heard of this he goes and chops his own silk-worms in two with
a sharp knife; but he gained nothing by that, for the silk-worms never
moved again, but stayed as dead as dead, and his wife had to throw them
away next morning.

After this Kanè sowed the rice seed that he had from his brother, and
when the young rice came up as green as you please he planted it out
with care, and it flourished wonderfully, and soon the rice was formed
in the ear.

One day an immense flight of swallows came and settled on Kanè’s

“Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted. He clapped his hands and beat about with a
bamboo stick. So the swallows flew away. In two minutes back they came.

“Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted, and he clapped his hands and beat about with
his bamboo stick. So the swallows flew away. In two minutes back they

“Arah! Arah!” Kanè shouted. He clapped his hands and beat about with his
bamboo stick. So the swallows flew away. In two minutes back they came.

When he had scared them away for the ninth time, Kanè takes his
_tenegui_ and wipes his face. “This grows into a habit,” he says. But in
two minutes back came the swallows for the tenth time. “Arah! Arah!”
Kanè shouted, and he chased them over hill and dale, hedge and ditch,
rice-field and mulberry-field, till at last they flew away from his
sight, and he found himself in a mossy dell shaded by spreading pine
trees. Being very tired with running he lies down his full length upon
the moss, and presently falls fast asleep and snoring.

The next thing was that he dreamed. He thought he saw a troop of
children come to the mossy glade, for in his dream he remembered very
well where he was. The children fluttered here and there among the
pine-trees’ trunks. They were as pretty as flowers or butterflies. One
and all of them had dancing bare feet; their hair hung down, long, loose
and black; their skins were white like the plum blossom.

“For good or for evil,” says Kanè to himself, “I have seen the fairies’

The children made an end of their dancing, and sat them upon the ground
in a ring. “Leader! Leader!” they cried. “Fetch us the mallet.” Then
there rose up a beautiful boy, about fourteen or fifteen years old, the
eldest and the tallest there. He lifted a mossy stone quite close to
Kanè’s head. Underneath was a plain little mallet of white wood. The boy
took it up and went and stood within the circle of children. He laughed
and cried, “Now what will you have?”

“A kite, a kite,” calls out one of the children.

The boy shakes the mallet, and lo and behold he shakes a kite out of
it!--a great kite with a tail to it, and a good ball of twine as well.

“Now what else?” asks the boy.

“Battledore and shuttlecock for me,” says a little girl.

And sure enough there they are, a battledore of the best, and twenty
shuttlecocks, meetly feathered and gilded.

“Now what else?” says the boy.

“A lot of sweets.”

“Greedy!” says the boy, but he shakes the mallet, and there are the

“A red crêpe frock and a brocade _obi_.”

“Miss Vanity!” says the boy, but he shakes all this gravely out of the

“Books, story books.”

“That’s better,” says the boy, and out come the books by the dozen and
score, all open to show the lovely pictures.

Now, when the children had their hearts’ desires, the leader put away
the mallet beneath its mossy stone, and after they had played for some
time they became tired; their bright attires melted away into the gloom
of the wood, and their pretty voices grew distant and then were heard no
more. It was very still.

Kanè awoke, good man, and found the sun set and darkness beginning to
fall. There was the mossy stone right under his hand. He lifted it, and
there was the mallet.

“Now,” said Kanè, taking it up, “begging the pardon of the fairies’
children, I’ll make bold to borrow that mallet.” So he took it home in
his sleeve and spent a pleasant evening shaking gold pieces out of it,
and _saké_, and new clothes, and farmers’ tools, and musical
instruments, and who knows what all!

It is not hard to believe that pretty soon he became the richest and
jolliest farmer in all that country-side. Sleek and fat he grew, and his
heart was bigger and kinder than ever.

But what like was Cho’s heart when he got wind of all this? Ay, there’s
the question. Cho turned green with envy, as green as grass. “I’ll have
a fairy mallet, too,” he says, “and be rich for nothing. Why should that
idiot spendthrift Kanè have all the good fortune?” So he goes and begs
rice from his brother, which his brother gives him very willingly, a
good sackful. And he waits for it to ripen, quite wild with impatience.
It ripens sure enough, and sure enough a flight of swallows comes and
settles upon the good grain in the ear.

“Arah! Arah!” shouted Cho, clapping his hands and laughing aloud for
joy. The swallows flew away, and Cho was after them. He chased them over
hill and dale, hedge and ditch, rice-field and mulberry-field, till at
last they flew away from his sight, and he found himself in a mossy dell
shaded by spreading pine-trees. Cho looks about him.

“This should be the place,” says he. So he lies down and waits with one
wily eye shut and one wily eye open.

Presently who should trip into the dell but the fairies’ children! Very
fresh they were as they moved among the pine-tree trunks.

“Leader! Leader! Fetch us the mallet,” they cried. Up stepped the leader
and lifted away the mossy stone. And behold there was no mallet there!

Now the fairies’ children became very angry. They stamped their little
feet, and cried and rushed wildly to and fro, and were beside themselves
altogether because the mallet was gone.

“See,” cried the leader at last, “see this ugly old farmer man; he must
have taken our mallet. Let us pull his nose for him.”

With a shrill scream the fairies’ children set upon Cho. They pinched
him, and pulled him, and buffeted him, and set their sharp teeth in his
flesh till he yelled in agony. Worst of all, they laid hold of his nose
and pulled it. Long it grew, and longer. It reached his waist. It
reached his feet.

Lord, how they laughed, the fairies’ children! Then they scampered away
like fallen leaves before the wind.

Cho sighed, and he groaned, and he cursed, and he swore, but for all
that his nose was not an inch shorter. So, sad and sorry, he gathered it
up in his two hands and went to Kanè’s house.

“Kanè, I am very sick,” says he.

“Indeed, so I see,” says Kanè, “a terrible sickness; and how did you
catch it?” he says. And so kind he was that he never laughed at Cho’s
nose, nor yet he never smiled, but there were tears in his eyes at his
brother’s misfortunes. Then Cho’s heart melted and he told his brother
all the tale, and he never kept back how mean he had been about the dead
silk-worms’ eggs, and about the other things that have been told of. And
he asked Kanè to forgive him and to help him.

“Wait you still a minute,” says Kanè.

He goes to his chest, and he brings out the mallet. And he rubs it very
gently up and down Cho’s long nose, and sure enough it shortened up very
quickly. In two minutes it was a natural size. Cho danced for joy.

Kanè looks at him and says, “If I were you, I’d just go home and try to
be different.”

When Cho had gone, Kanè sat still and thought for a long time. When the
moon rose that night he went out and took the mallet with him. He came
to the mossy dell that was shaded with spreading pine trees, and he laid
the mallet in its old place under the stone.

“I’m the last man in the world,” he said, “to be unfriendly to the
fairies’ children.”



[Illustration: The Bell of Dōjōji.--_P. 127._]

The monk Anchin was young in years but old in scholarship. Every day for
many hours he read the Great Books of the Good Law and never wearied,
and hard characters were not hard to him.

The monk Anchin was young in years but old in holiness; he kept his body
under by fastings and watchings and long prayers. He was acquainted with
the blessedness of sublime meditations. His countenance was white as
ivory and as smooth; his eyes were deep as a brown pool in autumn; his
smile was that of a Buddha; his voice was like an angel’s. He dwelt with
a score of holy men in a monastery of the mountains, where he learned
the mystic “Way of the Gods.” He was bound to his order by the strictest
vows, but was content, rejoicing in the shade of the great pine trees
and the sound of the running water of the streams.

Now it happened that on a day in spring-time, the old man, his Abbot,
sent the young monk Anchin upon an errand of mercy. And he said, “My
son, bind your sandals fast and tie spare sandals to your girdle, take
your hat and your staff and your rosary and begging bowl, for you have
far to go, over mountain and stream, and across the great plain.”

So the monk Anchin made him ready.

“My son,” the Abbot said, “if any wayfarer do you a kindness, forget not
to commend him to the gods for the space of nine existences.”

“I will remember,” said the monk, and so he set forth upon his way.

Over mountain and stream he passed, and as he went his spirit was
wrapped in contemplation, and he recited the Holy Sutras aloud in a
singing voice. And the Wise Birds called and twittered from branch to
branch of the tall trees, the birds that are beloved of Buddha. One bird
chanted the grand Scripture of the Nicheten, the Praise of the Sutra of
the Lotus, of the Good Law, and the other bird called upon his Master’s
name, for he cried:

“O thou Compassionate Mind! O thou Compassionate Mind!”

The monk smiled. “Sweet and happy bird,” he said.

And the bird answered, “O thou Compassionate Mind!... O thou
Compassionate Mind!”

When the monk Anchin came to the great plain, the sun was high in the
heavens, and all the blue and golden flowers of the plain languished in
the noon-tide heat. The monk likewise became very weary, and when he
beheld the Marshy Mere, where were bulrush and sedge that cooled their
feet in the water, he laid him down to rest under a sycamore tree that
grew by the Marshy Mere.

Over the mere and upon the farther side of it there hung a glittering

Long did the monk Anchin lie; and as he lay he looked through the
glittering haze, and as he looked the haze quivered and moved and grew
and gathered upon the farther side of the mere. At the last it drew into
a slender column of vapour, and out of the vapour there came forth a
very dazzling lady. She wore a robe of green and gold, interwoven, and
golden sandals on her slender feet. In her hands were jewels--in each
hand one bright jewel like a star. Her hair was tied with a braid of
scarlet, and she had a crown of scarlet flowers. She came, skirting the
Marshy Mere. She came, gliding in and out of the bulrush and the sedge.
In the silence there could be heard the rustle of her green skirt upon
the green grass.

The monk Anchin stumbled to his feet and, trembling, he leaned against
the sycamore tree.

Nearer and nearer came the lady, till she stood before Anchin and looked
into his eyes. With the jewel that was in her right hand she touched his
forehead and his lips. With the jewel that was in her left hand she
touched his rice-straw hat and his staff and his rosary and his begging
bowl. After this she had him safe in thrall. Then the wind blew a tress
of her hair across his face, and when he felt it he gave one sob.

For the rest of his journey the monk went as a man in a dream. Once a
rich traveller riding on horseback threw a silver coin into Anchin’s
begging bowl; once a woman gave him a piece of cake made of millet; and
once a little boy knelt down and tied the fastening of his sandal that
had become loose. But each time the monk passed on without a word, for
he forgot to commend the souls of these compassionate ones for the space
of nine existences. In the tree-tops the Wise Birds of Buddha sang for
him no more, only from the thicket was heard the cry of the
_Hototogisu_, the bird lovelorn and forsaken.

Nevertheless, well or ill, he performed his errand of mercy and returned
to the monastery by another way.

Howbeit, sweet peace left him from the hour in which he had seen the
lady of the Marshy Mere. The Great Books of the Good Law sufficed him no
longer; no more was he acquainted with the blessedness of divine
meditations. His heart was hot within him; his eyes burned and his soul
longed after the lady of the green and golden robe.

She had told him her name, and he murmured it in his sleep.
“Kiohimé--Kiohimé!” Waking, he repeated it instead of his prayers--to
the great scandal of the brethren, who whispered together and said, “Is
our brother mad?”

At length Anchin went to the good Abbot, and in his ear poured forth all
his tale in a passion of mingled love and grief, humbly asking what he
must do.

The Abbot said, “Alack, my son, now you suffer for sin committed in a
former life, for Karma must needs be worked out.”

Anchin asked him, “Then is it past help?”

“Not that,” said the Abbot, “but you are in a very great strait.”

“Are you angry with me?” said Anchin.

“Nay, Heaven forbid, my poor son.”

“Then what must I do?”

“Fast and pray, and for a penance stand in the ice-cold water of our
mountain torrent an hour at sunrise and an hour at sunset. Thus shall
you be purged from carnal affection and escape the perils of illusion.”

So Anchin fasted and prayed, he scourged his body, and hour after hour
he did penance in the ice-cold water of the torrent. Wan as a ghost he
grew, and his eyes were like flames. His trouble would not leave him. A
battle raged in his breast. He could not be faithful to his vows and
faithful to his love.

The brethren wondered, “What can ail the monk Anchin, who was so learned
and so holy--is he bewitched by a fox or a badger, or can he have a

But the Abbot said, “Let be.”

Now on a hot night of summer, the monk being sleepless in his cell, he
was visited by Kiohimé, the magic lady of the mere. The moonlight was on
her hands and her long sleeves. Her robe was green and gold, interwoven;
golden were her sandals. Her hair was braided with scarlet and adorned
with scarlet flowers.

“Long, long have I waited for thee on the plains,” she said. “The night
wind sighs in the sedge--the frogs sing by the Marshy Mere. Come,

But he cried, “My vows that I have vowed--alas! the love that I love. I
keep faith and loyalty, the bird in my bosom ... I may not come.”

She smiled, “_May_ not?” she said, and with that she lifted the monk
Anchin in her arms.

But he, gathering all his strength together, tore himself from her and
fled from the place. Barefooted and bareheaded he went, his white robe
flying, through the dark halls of the monastery, where the air was heavy
with incense and sweet with prayers, where the golden Amida rested upon
her lotus, ineffably smiling. He leaped the grey stone steps that led
down from her shrine and gained the pine trees and the mountain path.
Down, down he fled on the rough way, the nymph Kiohimé pursuing. As for
her, her feet never touched the ground, and she spread her green sleeves
like wings. Down, down they fled together, and so close was she behind
him that the monk felt her breath upon his neck.

“As a young goddess, she is fleet of foot ...” he moaned.

At last they came to the famed temple of Dōjōji, which was upon the
plains. By this Anchin sobbed and staggered as he ran; his knees failed
him and his head swam.

“I am lost,” he cried, “for a hundred existences.” But with that he saw
the great temple bell of Dōjōji that hung but a little way from the
ground. He cast himself down and crept beneath it, and so deemed himself
sheltered and secure.

Then came Kiohimé, the Merciless Lady, and the moonlight shone upon her
long sleeves. She did not sigh, nor cry, nor call upon her love. She
stood still for a little space and smiled. Then lightly she sprang to
the top of the great bronze bell of Dōjōji, and with her sharp teeth she
bit through the ropes that held it, so that the bell came to the ground
and the monk was a prisoner. And Kiohimé embraced the bell with her
arms. She crept about it, she crawled about it and her green robe flowed
over it. Her green robe glittered with a thousand golden scales; long
flames burst from her lips and from her eyes; a huge and fearsome
Dragon, she wound and coiled herself about the bell of Dōjōji. With her
Dragon’s tail she lashed the bell, and lashed it till its bronze was red

Still she lashed the bell, while the monk called piteously for mercy.
And when he was very quiet she did not stop. All the night long the
frogs sang by the Marshy Mere and the wind sighed in the sedges. But the
Dragon Lady was upon the bell of Dōjōji, and she lashed it furiously
with her tail till dawn.



The Maiden of Unai was fair as an earthly deity, but the eyes of man
might not behold her. She dwelt in a hidden place in her father’s house,
and of what cheer she made the live-long day not a soul could tell, but
her father who kept watch, and her mother who kept ward, and her ancient
nurse who tended her. The cause was this.

When the maid was about seven years old, with her black hair loose and
hanging to her shoulder, an ancient man, a traveller, came, footsore and
weary, to her father’s house. He was made welcome, served with rice and
with tea, whilst the master of the house sat by, and the mistress, to do
him honour. Meanwhile the little maid was here and there, catching at
her mother’s sleeve, pattering with bare feet over the mats, or bouncing
a great green and scarlet ball in a corner. And the stranger lifted his
eyes and marked the child.

After he had eaten, he called for a bowl of clear water, and taking from
his wallet a handful of fine silver sand he let it slip through his
fingers and it sank to the bottom of the bowl. In a little he spoke.

“My lord,” he said to the master of the house, “I was hungry and weary,
and you have fed me and refreshed me. I am a poor man and it is hard for
me to show my gratitude. Now I am a soothsayer by profession, very
far-famed for the skill of my divination. Therefore, in return for your
kindness I have looked into the future of your child. Will you hear her

The child knelt in a corner of the room bouncing her green and scarlet

The master of the house bade the soothsayer speak on.

This one looked down into the bowl of water where the sand was, and
said: “The Maiden of Unai shall grow up fairer than the children of men.
Her beauty shall shine as the beauty of an earthly deity. Every man who
looks upon her shall pine with love and longing, and when she is fifteen
years old there shall die for her sake a mighty hero from near, and a
valiant hero from afar. And there shall be sorrow and mourning because
of her, loud and grievous, so that the sound of it shall reach High
Heaven and offend the peace of the gods.”

The master of the house said, “Is this a true divination?”

“Indeed, my lord,” said the soothsayer, “it is too true.” And with that
he bound on his sandals, and taking his staff and his great hat of
rice-straw, he spoke no other word, but went his ways; neither was he
any more seen nor heard tell of upon that country-side.

And the child knelt in a corner of the room, bouncing her green and
scarlet ball.

The father and mother took counsel.

The mother wept, but she said, “Let be, for who can alter the pattern
set up upon the looms of the weaving women of Heaven?” But the father
cried, “I will fight. I will avert the portent; the thing shall not come
to pass. Who am I that I should give credence to a dog of a soothsayer
who lies in his teeth?” And though his wife shook her head and moaned,
he gave her counsel no heed, for he was a man.

So they hid the child in a secret chamber, where an old wise woman
tended her, fed her, bathed her, combed her hair, taught her to make
songs and to sing, to dance so that her feet moved like rosy butterflies
over the white mats, or to sit at a frame with a wonder of needlework
stretched upon it, drawing the needle and the silken thread hour after

For eight years the maid set eyes upon no human being save her father,
her mother, and her nurse, these three only. All the day she spent in
her distant chamber, far removed from the sights and the sounds of the
world. Only in the night she came forth into her father’s garden, when
the moon shone and the birds slept and the flowers had no colour. And
with every season that passed the maid grew more beautiful. Her hair
hung down to her knees and was black as a thundercloud. Her forehead
was the plum blossom, her cheek the wild cherry, and her mouth the
flower of the pomegranate. At fifteen years old she was the loveliest
thing that ever saw the light, and the sun was sick with jealousy
because only the moon might shine upon her.

In spite of all, the fame of her beauty became known, and because she
was kept so guarded men thought of her the more, and because she might
not be seen men longed to behold her. And because of the mystery and the
maiden, gallants and warriors and men of note came from far and near and
flocked to the house of Unai; and they made a hedge about it with
themselves and their bright swords; and they swore that they would not
leave the place till they had sight of the maid, and this they would
have either by favour or by force.

Then the master of the house did even as he must, and he sent her mother
to bring the maid down. So the mother went, taking with her a robe of
grey silk and a great girdle of brocade, green and gold; and she found
the maid, her daughter, sitting in her secret chamber singing.

The maid sang thus:

    “Nothing has changed since the time of the gods,
     Neither the running of water nor the way of love.”

And the mother was astonished and said, “What manner of song is this,
and where heard you of such a thing as love?”

And she answered, “I have read of it in a book.”

Then they took her, her mother and the wise woman, and they tied her
hair and pinned it high upon her head with gold and coral pins, and held
it with a great lacquer comb. She said, “How heavy it is!”

While they dressed her in the robe of grey silk, and tied the girdle of
brocade, first she shuddered and said, “I am cold.” Then they would have
thrown over her a mantle broidered with plum blossom and pine, but she
would have none of it, saying, “No, no, I burn.”

They painted her lips with _beni_, and when she saw it she murmured,
“Alack, there is blood upon my lips!” But they led her down and out on
to a balcony, where the men who were assembled might see her. She was
fairer than the children of men, and her beauty shone like the beauty of
an earthly deity. And all the warriors who were there looked upon her
and were silent, for already they were faint with love and longing. And
the maid stood with eyes cast down, and slowly the hot blush rose to her
cheek and she was lovelier than before.

Three or four score men of name sought her hand, being distraught for
love of her, and amongst them were two braver and nobler than the rest.
The one came from afar and was the champion of Chinu, and the other came
from near, the champion of Unai. They were young, strong, and
black-haired. They were equal in years, in strength, and in valour.
Both were girded with great swords, and full-charged quivers were upon
their backs, and six-foot bows of white wood were in their hands.
Together they stood beneath the balcony of the maiden of Unai, like twin
brothers in beauty and attainments. Together they cried aloud with
passionate voices, telling of their eternal love, and bidding the maiden
choose between them.

She lifted up her eyes and looked fixedly upon them, but spoke no word.

Then they drew their swords and made as if to fight the matter out there
and then; but the maid’s father spoke: “Put up your swords, fair sirs; I
have devised a better way for the decision of this thing. If it please
you, enter my house.”

Now part of the house of Unai was built out upon a platform over the
river that flowed past. It was the fifth month and the wistaria was in
blossom upon the trellis, and hung downwards nearly into the water. The
river was swift and deep. Here the master of the house brought the
champions, and the maiden was there also. But the mother and the wise
woman stood a little way apart, and hid their faces in their long
sleeves. Presently a white water-bird dropped from the blue sky, and
rocked to and fro upon the water of the river.

“Now, champions,” cried the father of the maiden, “draw me your bows and
let fly each of you an arrow at yonder white bird that floats upon the
river. He that shall strike the bird and prove himself to be the better
marksman, he shall wed my daughter, the peerless Maiden of Unai.”

Then immediately the two champions drew their bows of white wood and let
fly each of them an arrow. Each arrow sped swift; each arrow struck
true. The champion of Chinu struck the water-bird in the head, but the
champion of Unai struck her in the tail so that the white feathers were
scattered. Then the champions cried, “Enough of this trifling. There is
but one way.” And again their bright swords leapt from their scabbards.

But the maid stood trembling, holding the gnarled stem of the wistaria
in her hands. She trembled and shook the branches so that the frail
flowers fell about her. “My lords, my lords,” she cried, “oh, brave and
beautiful heroes of fame, it is not meet that one of you should die for
such as I am. I honour you; I love you both--therefore farewell.” With
that, still holding to the wistaria, she swung herself clear of the
balcony and dropped into the deep and swift-flowing river. “Weep not,”
she cried, “for no woman dies to-day. It is but a child that is lost.”
And so she sank.

Down sprang the champion of Chinu into the flood, and in the same
instant down sprang the champion of Unai. Alack, they were heavy with
the arms that they bore, and they sank and were entangled in the long
water weeds. And so the three of them were drowned.

But at night when the moon shone, the pale dead rose, floating to the
surface of the water. The champion of Unai held the maiden’s right hand
in his own, but the champion of Chinu lay with his head against the
maiden’s heart, bound close to her by a tress of her long hair; and as
he lay he smiled.

The three corpses they lifted from the water, and laid them together
upon a bier of fair white wood, and over them they strewed herbs and
sweet flowers, and laid a veil over their faces of fine white silk. And
they lighted fires and burned incense. Gallants and warriors and men of
note who loved the maiden, alive or dead, stood about her bier and made
a hedge with themselves and their bright swords. And there was sorrow
and mourning, loud and grievous, so that the sound of it reached High
Heaven and offended the peace of the gods.

A grave was dug wide and deep, and the three were buried therein. The
maid they laid in the middle, and the two champions upon either side.
Idzumo was the native place of the champion of Chinu, so they brought
earth from thence in a junk, and with this earth they covered him.

So the maid slept there in the grave, the champions faithfully guarding
her, for they had buried with them their bows of white wood and their
good armour and their spears and their bright swords. Nothing was
forgotten that is needful for adventure in the Land of Yomi.



Mio Strand is in the Province of Suruga. Its sand is yellow and fine,
strewn with rose shells at the ebb tide. Its pine trees are ancient and
they lean all one way, which is the way that the wild wind wills. Before
Mio rolls the deep sea, and behind Mio rises Fugi, the most sacred, the
mountain of mountains. Small marvel that the Strange People should come
to Mio.

Of the Strange People not much is known, even at Mio, though it is sure
they come there. It seems they are shy indeed, more’s the pity. They
come through the blue air, or across the mysterious paths of the sea.
Their footprints are never, never seen upon the wet beach, for they
tread too lightly. But sometimes in their dancing they sweep their robes
upon the sand and leave it ribbed and ruffled; so, often enough, it may
be seen at Mio.

This is not all. Once a fisherman of Mio set eyes upon a maiden of the
Strange People, and talked with her and made her do his bidding. This is
a true thing, and thus it came about.

The fisherman was out in his boat all night. He cast his net here and he
cast his net there, but he caught nothing at all for his pains. It may
be believed that he grew weary enough before the morning. In the cold of
the dawn he brought his boat to shore and set foot on Mio Strand,

Then, so he says, a warm wind met him and blew through his garments and
his hair, so that he flushed and glowed. The very sand was full of
comfort to his chilly feet. Upon the warm wind a fragrance was borne,
cedar and vervain, and the scent of a hundred flowers.

Flowers dropped softly through the air like bright rain. The fisherman
stretched out his hands and caught them, lotus and jessamine and
pomegranate. And all the while sweet music sounded.

“This is never Mio Strand,” cried the fisherman, bewildered, “where I
have pulled my boat ashore a thousand times or flown kites upon a
holiday. Alack, I fear me I have sailed to the Fortunate Isles unawares,
or come unwilling to the Sea King’s garden; or very like I am dead and
never knew it, and this is Yomi. O Yomi, Land of Yomi, how like thou art
to Mio Strand, my dear home!”

After he had said this, the fisherman looked up the beach and down the
beach, and he turned and saw Fuji, the mountain of mountains, and then
he turned and saw the deep rolling sea and knew he was at Mio and no
other place, and gave a long sigh.

“Thanks be,” he said, and lifting his eyes he saw a robe of feathers
hanging upon the branch of a pine tree. In the robe were feathers of
all the birds that fly, every one; the kingfisher and the golden
pheasant, the love bird, the swan, the crow, the cormorant, the dove,
the bullfinch, the falcon, the plover, and the heron.

“Ah, the pretty fluttering thing!” said the fisherman, and he took it
from the pine tree where it hung.

“Ah, the warm, sweet, fairy thing!” said the fisherman; “I’ll take it
home for a treasure, sure no money could buy it, and I’ll show it to all
the folk of the village.” And off he set for home with the fairy
feathers over his arm.

Now the maiden of the Strange People had been playing all this time with
the White Children of the Foam that live in the salt sea. She looked up
through the cold clear water and marked that her robe hung no longer on
the pine-tree branch.

“Alas, alas!” she cried, “my robe, my feather robe!” Swifter than any
arrow she sprang from the water, and sped, fleet of foot, along the wet
sand. The White Children of the Foam followed at her flashing heels.
Clad in the cloak of her long hair, she came up with the fisherman.

“Give me my feather robe,” she said, and held out her hand for it.

“Why?” said the fisherman.

“’Tis mine. I want it. I must have it.”

“Oho,” said the fisherman, “finding’s keeping,” and he didn’t give her
the feather robe.

“I am a Fairy,” she said.

“Farewell, Fairy,” said the fisherman.

“A Moon Fairy,” she said.

“Farewell, Moon Fairy,” said the fisherman, and he made to take his way
along Mio Strand. At that she snatched at the feather robe, but the
fisherman held fast. The feathers fluttered out and dropped upon the

“I wouldn’t do that,” said the fisherman. “You’ll have it all to

“I am a Moon Fairy, and at dawn I came to play upon fair Mio Strand;
without my feathers I cannot go back to my place, my home in High
Heaven. Therefore give me my feathers.”

“No,” said the fisherman.

“Oh, fisherman, fisherman, give me my robe.”

“I couldn’t think of it,” said the fisherman.

At this the maiden fell upon her knees and drooped like a lily in the
heat of the day. With her arms she held the fisherman about the knees,
and as she clung to him beseeching him, he felt her tears upon his bare

She wept and said:

    “I am a bird, a frail bird,
     A wounded bird with broken wings,
     I must die far from home,
     For the Five Woes are come upon me.
     The red flowers in my hair are faded;
     My robe is made unclean;
     Faintness comes upon me;
     I cannot see--farewell, dear sight of my eyes;
     I have lost joy.
     Oh, blessed flying clouds, and happy birds,
     And golden dust in the wind,
     And flying thoughts and flying prayers!
     I have lost all joy.”

“Oh, stop,” said the fisherman, “you may have your robe.”

“Give,” she cried.

“Softly, softly,” said the fisherman. “Not so fast. I will give you your
robe if you will dance for me here on Mio Strand.”

“What must I dance?” she asked.

“You must dance the mystic dance that makes the Palace of the Moon turn

She said, “Give me my feathers and I will dance it. I cannot dance
without my feathers.”

“What if you cheat me, what if you break your promise and fly
immediately to the moon and no dancing at all?”

“Ah, fisherman,” she said, “the faith of a Fairy!”

Then he gave her the robe.

Now, when she had arrayed herself and flung back her hair, the Fairy
began to dance upon the yellow sand. In and out of the feather robe
crept her fairy feet. Slowly, softly, she went with folded wings and

    “Oh, the gold and silver mountains of the Moon,
     And the sweet Singing Birds of Heaven!
     They sing in the branches of the cinnamon tree,
     To entertain the thirty kings that are there.
     Fifteen kings in white garments,
     To reign for fifteen days.
     Fifteen kings in black garments,
     To reign for fifteen days.
     I hear the music of Heaven;
     Away, away, I fly to Fairy Places.”

At this the Fairy spread her rainbow-coloured wings, and the wind that
they made fluttered the red flowers in her hair. Out streamed the robe
of feathers bright and gay.

The Fairy laughed. Her feet touched the waves of the sea; her feet
touched the grass and the flowers inshore. They touched the high
branches of the pines and then the white clouds.

“Farewell, fisherman!” the Fairy cried, and he saw her no more.

Long, long he stood gazing up into the sky. At length he stooped and
picked up a little feather from the shore, a grey dove’s feather. He
smoothed it out with his finger and hid it in his girdle.

Then he went to his home.



[Illustration: The Singing Bird of Heaven.--_P. 148._]

Ama Terassu, the Glorious, the Light of High Heaven, commanded, saying,
“His Augustness, my August Child, who is called the Conqueror, shall
descend to the land. For it is a Land of Luxuriant Reed Plains, a Land
of Fresh Rice Ears, a Land of a Thousand Autumns. So of this land he
shall be king.”

Now his Augustness, the August Child, the Conqueror, stood upon the
Floating Bridge of Heaven and looked down, and he saw that there was a
great unquietness upon the Land of the Reed Plains. For earthly deities
made strife, and blood ran, and fearful sounds of war arose, even to
High Heaven. So the August Child, the heavenly born, turned back across
the Floating Bridge, and swore he would not descend to rule the land
until it should be cleansed.

And Ama Terassu, the Light of High Heaven, who had the sun set fast
between her eyes, bound her head with jewels, and gathered the deities
together in a divine assembly, to hold council in the Tranquil River
Bed. And she spoke and said, “Who shall subdue the land that I have
given to the August Child?”

And all the deities cried, “O Thine Augustness, send down the Lord of
Spears.” Therefore the Lord of Spears went lightly down by the Floating
Bridge; and there were bound upon his back eight hundred spears.
Howbeit, he made a truce with the Lord of the Reed Plains and tarried
there; and for three years there was no report.

Therefore, once more the Queen of Heaven called him whom the gods name
Wonderful, and she called the Lord of Deep Thoughts, and likewise she
called every deity of Heaven, and they came to council in the Tranquil
River Bed, so that upon the sand there was left the print of their
august feet. And Ama Terassu said, “Behold now the Lord of Spears is
faithless. Whom shall we send to rule the land?” And the Young Prince
answered, “O Mother of Heaven, Thine Augustness, send me.” And all the
deities assented with one accord and cried, “Send him, send him,” till
there was a sound like thunder in the River Bed.

So the Young Prince bound on his sandals, and they brought to him the
great bow that stands in the Hall of High Heaven, and bestowed it upon
him, and they gave him many heavenly-feathered arrows. So they made him
ready, and they brought him to the Floating Bridge. And the Young Prince
descended lightly, while his garments shone with the glory of Heaven.
But when he touched the tops of the high hills, his heart beat fast and
his blood ran warm. Therefore he cut the fastening of his sandals and
cast them behind him, and he ran upon his bare feet, like an earthly
deity, and came to the palace upon the Reed Plains.

Now, at the door of the palace the Princess Undershining stood, like a
growing flower. So the Young Prince beheld her and loved her, and he
built him a dwelling upon the Reed Plains, and took the Princess for his
bride. And, because he loved her and her earthly children, he brought no
report to High Heaven, and he forgot the waiting deities. For Heaven was
vague to him as a dream.

But the gods were weary.

And Ama Terassu said, “Long, long tarries our messenger, and brings no
word again. My Lord, the August Child, waxes impatient; whom now shall
we send?” Thereupon, all the deities, and the Lord of Deep Thoughts,
replied, “Send down the Singing Bird, the beloved of High Heaven.”

So Ama Terassu took the golden Singing Bird, and said, “Sweet music of
the divine gods, spread thou thy bright wings, and fly to the Land of
Reed Plains, and there search out the Young Prince, the messenger of
Heaven, and, when thou hast found him, sing in his ear this song: ‘Ama
Terassu, the Goddess of the Sun, has sent me saying, How fares the quest
of High Heaven, and how fares the message? Where is the report of the

So the bird departed, singing. And she came to the Land of the Reed
Plains, and perched upon the branch of a fair cassia tree which grew
hard by the Young Prince’s dwelling. Day and night, she sang, and the
gods in Heaven thought long for their sweet Singing Bird. Howbeit she
returned not again, but sat upon the branch of the cassia tree.

But the Young Prince gave no heed.

And She that Speaketh Evil heard the words that the bird sang. And she
whispered in the Young Prince’s ear, “See now, my lord, this is an evil
bird, and evil is its cry; therefore take thou thine arrows and go forth
and slay it.” So she urged continually, and, by glamour, she prevailed
upon him. Then the Young Prince arose, and took his bow and his
heavenly-feathered arrows, and he let fly an arrow into the branches of
the cassia tree. And suddenly the sweet sound of singing ceased, and the
golden bird fell dead, for the aim was true.

But the heavenly-feathered arrow took wing and pierced the floor of
Heaven, and reached the high place, where sat the Sun Goddess, together
with her August Counsellors, in the Tranquil River Bed of Heaven. And
the god called Wonderful took up the arrow, and beheld the blood upon
its feathers. And the Lord of Deep Thoughts said, “This is the arrow
that was given to the Young Prince,” and he showed it to all the
deities. And he said, “If the Young Prince has shot this arrow at the
evil deities, according to our command, let it do him no hurt. But, if
his heart be not pure, then let the Young Prince perish by this arrow.”
And he hurled the arrow back to earth.

Now the Young Prince lay upon a couch, sleeping. And the arrow fell,
and pierced his heart that he died.

Yet the sweet Singing Bird of Heaven returned no more; and the gods were

Howbeit, the Young Prince lay dead upon his bed; and the wailing of his
spouse, the Princess Undershining, re-echoed in the wind, and was heard
in Heaven. So the Young Prince’s father descended with cries and
lamentations, and there was built a mourning house upon the Land of Reed
Plains, and the Young Prince was laid there.

And there came to mourn for him the wild goose of the river, and the
pheasant, and the kingfisher. And they mourned for him eight days and
eight nights.



Once an old man and a young man left their village in company, in order
to make a journey into a distant province. Now, whether they went for
pleasure or for profit, for matters of money, of love or war, or because
of some small or great vow that they had laid upon their souls, it is no
longer known. All these things were very long since forgotten. It is
enough to say that it is likely they accomplished their desires, for
they turned their faces homewards about the setting-in of the winter
season, which is an evil time for wayfarers, Heaven knows.

Now as they journeyed, it happened that they missed their way, and,
being in a lonely part of the country, they wandered all the day long
and came upon no good soul to guide them. Near nightfall they found
themselves upon the brink of a broad and swift-flowing river. There was
no bridge, no ford, no ferry. Down came the night, with pitch-black
clouds and a little shrewd wind that blew the dry and scanty reeds.
Presently the snow came. The flakes fell upon the dark water of the

“How white, how white they are!” cried the young man.

But the old man shivered. In truth it was bitter cold, and they were in
a bad case. Tired out, the old man sat him down upon the ground; he drew
his cloak round him and clasped his hands about his knees. The young man
blew upon his fingers to warm them. He went up the bank a little, and at
last he found a small poor hut, deserted by a charcoal-burner or

“Bad it is at the best,” said the young man, “yet the gods be praised
for any shelter on such a night.” So he carried his companion to the
hut. They had no food and no fire, but there was a bundle of dried
leaves in the corner. Here they lay down and covered themselves with
their straw rain-coats; and in spite of the cold, they soon fell asleep.

About midnight the young man was awakened by an icy air upon his cheek.
The door of the hut stood wide open, and he could see the whirling
snow-storm without. It was not very dark. “A pest upon the wind!” said
the young man. “It has blown open the door, and the snow has drifted in
and covered my feet,” and he raised himself upon his elbow. Then he saw
that there was a woman in the hut.

She knelt by the side of the old man, his companion, and bent low over
him till their faces almost met. White was her face and beautiful; white
were her trailing garments; her hair was white with the snow that had
fallen upon it. Her hands were stretched forth over the man that slept,
and bright icicles hung from her finger-tips. Her breath was quite
plainly to be seen as it came from her parted lips. It was like a fair
white smoke. Presently she made an end of leaning over the old man, and
rose up very tall and slender. Snow fell from her in a shower as she

“That was easy,” she murmured, and came to the young man, and sinking
down beside him took his hand in hers. If the young man was cold before,
he was colder now. He grew numb from head to heel. It seemed to him as
if his very blood froze, and his heart was a lump of ice that stood
still in his bosom. A deathly sleep stole over him.

“This is my death,” he thought. “Can this be all? Thank the gods there
is no pain.” But the Cold Lady spoke.

“It is only a boy,” she said. “A pretty boy,” she said, stroking his
hair; “I cannot kill him.”

“Listen,” she said. The young man moaned.

“You must never speak of me, nor of this night,” she said. “Not to
father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother, nor to betrothed maid, nor
to wedded wife, nor to boy child, nor to girl child, nor to sun, nor
moon, nor water, fire, wind, rain, snow. Now swear it.”

He swore it. “Fire--wind--rain--snow ...” he murmured, and fell into a
deep swoon.

When he came to himself it was high noon, the warm sun shone. A kind
countryman held him in his arms and made him drink from a steaming cup.

“Now, boy,” said the countryman, “you should do. By the mercy of the
gods I came in time, though what brought me to this hut, a good three
_ri_ out of my way, the August Gods alone know. So you may thank them
and your wondrous youth. As for the good old man, your companion, it is
a different matter. He is past help. Already his feet have come to the
Parting of the Three Ways.”

“Alack!” cried the young man. “Alack, for the snow and the storm, and
the bitter, bitter night! My friend is dead.”

But he said no more then, nor did he when a day’s journey brought him
home to his own village. For he remembered his oath. And the Cold Lady’s
words were in his ear.

“You must never speak of me, nor of this night, not to father, nor
mother, nor sister, nor brother, nor to betrothed maid, nor to wedded
wife, nor to boy child, nor to girl child, nor to sun, nor moon, nor
water, fire, wind, rain, snow....”

Some years after this, in the leafy summer time, it chanced that the
young man took his walks abroad alone, and as he was returning
homewards, about sundown, he was aware of a girl walking in the path a
little way before him. It seemed as though she had come some distance,
for her robe was kilted up, she wore sandals tied to her feet, and she
carried a bundle. Moreover, she drooped and went wearily. It was not
strange that the young man should presently come up with her, nor that
he should pass the time of day. He saw at once that the girl was very
young, fair, and slender.

“Young maiden,” he said, “whither are you bound?”

She answered, “Sir, I am bound for Yedo, where I intend to take service.
I have a sister there who will find me a place.”

“What is your name?” he asked.

“My name is O’Yuki.”

“O’Yuki,” said the young man, “you look very pale.”

“Alas! sir,” she murmured, “I faint with the heat of this summer day.”
And as she stood in the path her slender body swayed, and she slid to
his feet in a swoon.

The young man lifted her gently, and carried her in his arms to his
mother’s house. Her head lay upon his breast, and as he looked upon her
face, he shivered slightly.

“All the same,” he said to himself, “these summer days turn chilly about
sundown, or so it seems to me.”

When O’Yuki was recovered of her swoon, she thanked the young man and
his mother sweetly for their kindness, and as she had little strength to
continue her journey, she passed the night in their house. In truth she
passed many nights there, and the streets of Yedo never knew her, for
the young man grew to love her, and made her his wife ere many moons
were out. Daily she became more beautiful--fair she was, and white. Her
little hands, for all she used them for work in the house and work in
the fields, were as white as jasmine flowers; the hot sun could not burn
her neck, or her pale and delicate cheek. In the fulness of time she
bore seven children, all as fair as she, and they grew up tall and
strong with straight noble limbs; their equal could not be found upon
that country-side. Their mother loved them, reared them, laboured for
them. In spite of passing years, in spite of the joys and pains of
motherhood, she looked like a slender maiden; there came no line upon
her forehead, no dimness to her eyes, and no grey hairs.

All the women of the place marvelled at these things, and talked of them
till they were tired. But O’Yuki’s husband was the happiest man for
miles round, what with his fair wife and his fair children. Morning and
evening he prayed and said, “Let not the gods visit it upon me if I have
too much joy.”

On a certain evening in winter, O’Yuki, having put her children to bed
and warmly covered them, was with her husband in the next room. The
charcoal glowed in the _hibachi_; all the doors of the house were
closely shut, for it was bitter cold, and outside the first big flakes
of a snow-storm had begun to fall. O’Yuki stitched diligently at little
bright-coloured garments. An _andon_ stood on the floor beside her, and
its light fell full upon her face.

Her husband looked at her, musing....

“Dear,” he said, “when I look at you to-night I am reminded of an
adventure that came to me many years since.”

O’Yuki spoke not at all, but stitched diligently.

“It was an adventure or a dream,” said the man her husband, “and which
it was I cannot tell. Strange it was as a dream, yet I think I did not

O’Yuki went on sewing.

“Then, only then, I saw a woman, who was as beautiful as you are and as
white ... indeed, she was very like you.”

“Tell me about her,” said O’Yuki, not lifting her eyes from her work.

“Why,” said the man, “I have never spoken of her to anybody.” Yet he
spoke then to his undoing. He told of his journey, and how he and his
companion, being benighted in a snow-storm, took shelter in a hut. He
spoke of the white Cold Lady, and of how his friend had died in her
chill embrace.

“Then she came to my side and leaned over me, but she said, ‘It is only
a boy ... a pretty boy ... I cannot kill him.’ Gods! How cold she was
... how cold.... Afterwards she made me swear, before she left me she
made me swear....”

“You must never speak of me, nor of this night,” O’Yuki said, “not to
father, nor mother, nor brother, nor sister, nor to betrothed maid, nor
to wedded wife, nor to boy child, nor to girl child, nor to sun, nor
moon, nor water, fire, wind, rain, snow. All this you swore to me, my
husband, even to me. And after all these years you have broken your
oath. Unkind, unfaithful, and untrue!” She folded her work together and
laid it aside. Then she went to where the children were, and bent her
face over each in turn.

The eldest murmured “Cold ... Cold ...” so she drew the quilt up over
his shoulder.

The youngest cried, “Mother” ... and threw out his little arms.

She said, “I have grown too cold to weep any more.”

With that she came back to her husband. “Farewell,” she said. “Even now
I cannot kill you for my little children’s sakes. Guard them well.”

The man lifted up his eyes and saw her. White was her face and
beautiful; white were her trailing garments; her hair was white as it
were with snow that had fallen upon it. Her breath was quite plainly to
be seen as it came from her parted lips. It was like a fair white smoke.

“Farewell! Farewell!” she cried, and her voice grew thin and chill like
a piercing winter wind. Her form grew vague as a snow wreath or a white
vaporous cloud. For an instant it hung upon the air. Then it rose slowly
through the smoke-hole in the ceiling and was no more seen.



The Wise Poet sat reading by the light of his taper. It was a night of
the seventh month. The cicala sang in the flower of the pomegranate, the
frog sang by the pond. The moon was out and all the stars, the air was
heavy and sweet-scented. But the Poet was not happy, for moths came by
the score to the light of his taper; not moths only, but cockchafers and
dragon-flies with their wings rainbow-tinted. One and all they came upon
the Fire Quest; one and all they burned their bright wings in the flame
and so died. And the Poet was grieved.

“Little harmless children of the night,” he said, “why will you still
fly upon the Fire Quest? Never, never can you attain, yet you strive and
die. Foolish ones, have you never heard the story of the Firefly Queen?”

The moths and the cockchafers and the dragon-flies fluttered about the
taper and paid him no heed.

“They have never heard it,” said the Poet; “yet it is old enough.

“The Firefly Queen was the brightest and most beautiful of small things
that fly. She dwelt in the heart of a rosy lotus. The lotus grew on a
still lake, and it swayed to and fro upon the lake’s bosom while the
Firefly Queen slept within. It was like the reflection of a star in the

“You must know, oh, little children of the night, that the Firefly Queen
had many suitors. Moths and cockchafers and dragon-flies innumerable
flew to the lotus on the lake. And their hearts were filled with
passionate love. ‘Have pity, have pity,’ they cried, ‘Queen of the
Fireflies, Bright Light of the Lake.’ But the Firefly Queen sat and
smiled and shone. It seemed that she was not sensible of the incense of
love that arose about her.

“At last she said, ‘Oh, you lovers, one and all, what make you here
idly, cumbering my lotus house? Prove your love, if you love me indeed.
Go, you lovers, and bring me fire, and then I will answer.’

“Then, oh, little children of the night, there was a swift whirr of
wings, for the moths and the cockchafers and the dragon-flies
innumerable swiftly departed upon the Fire Quest. But the Firefly Queen
laughed. Afterwards I will tell you the reason of her laughter.

“So the lovers flew here and there in the still night, taking with them
their desire. They found lighted lattices ajar and entered forthwith. In
one chamber there was a girl who took a love-letter from her pillow and
read it in tears, by the light of a taper. In another a woman sat
holding the light close to a mirror, where she looked and painted her
face. A great white moth put out the trembling candle-flame with his

“‘Alack! I am afraid,’ shrieked the woman; ‘the horrible dark!’

“In another place there lay a man dying. He said, ‘For pity’s sake light
me the lamp, for the black night falls.’

“‘We have lighted it,’ they said, ‘long since. It is close beside you,
and a legion of moths and dragon-flies flutter about it.’

“‘I cannot see anything at all,’ murmured the man.

“But those that flew on the Fire Quest burnt their frail wings in the
fire. In the morning they lay dead by the hundred and were swept away
and forgotten.

“The Firefly Queen was safe in her lotus bower with her beloved, who was
as bright as she, for he was a great lord of the Fireflies. No need had
he to go upon the Fire Quest. He carried the living flame beneath his

“Thus the Firefly Queen deceived her lovers, and therefore she laughed
when she sent them from her on a vain adventure.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“Be not deceived,” cried the Wise Poet, “oh, little children of the
night. The Firefly Queen is always the same. Give over the Fire Quest.”

But the moths and the cockchafers and the dragon-flies paid no heed to
the words of the Wise Poet. Still they fluttered about his taper, and
they burnt their bright wings in the flame and so died.

Presently the Poet blew out the light. “I must needs sit in the dark,”
he said; “it is the only way.”



[Illustration: A Legend of Kwannon.--_P. 165._]

In the days of the gods, Ama-no-Hashidate was the Floating Bridge of
Heaven. By way of this bridge came the deities from heaven to earth,
bearing their jewelled spears, their great bows and heavenly-feathered
arrows, their wonder robes and their magic mirrors. Afterwards, when the
direct way was closed that had been between earth and heaven, and the
deities walked no more upon the Land of Fresh Rice Ears, the people
still called a place Ama-no-Hashidate, for the sake of happy memory.
This place is one of the Three Fair Views of Yamato. It is where a strip
of land runs out into the blue sea, like a floating bridge covered with
dark pine trees.

There was a holy man of Kioto called Saion Zenji. He had followed the
Way of the Gods from his youth up. He was also a disciple of the great
Buddha; well versed was he in doctrines and philosophies; he knew the
perils of illusion and the ineffable joys of Nirvana. Long hours would
he pass in mystic meditation, and many of the Scriptures he had by
heart. When he was on a pilgrimage he came to Ama-no-Hashidate, and he
offered up thanks because the place was so lovely in his eyes.

He said, “The blind and ignorant have it that trees and rocks and the
green sea-water are not sentient things, but the wise know that they
also sing aloud and praise the Tathagata. Here will I take up my rest,
and join my voice with theirs, and will not see my home again.”

So Saion Zenji, the holy man, climbed Nariai-San, the mountain over
against Ama-no-Hashidate. And when he had come to the place of the Lone
Pine, he built him a shrine to Kwannon the Merciful, and a hut to cover
his own head.

All day he chanted the Holy Sutras. From dawn to eventide he sang, till
his very being was exalted and seemed to float in an ecstasy of praise.
Then his voice grew so loud and clear that it was a marvel. The blue
campanula of the mountain in reverence bowed its head; the great white
lily distilled incense from its deep heart; the cicala shrilled aloud;
the Forsaken Bird gave a long note from the thicket. About the hermit’s
hut there fluttered dragon-flies and butterflies innumerable, which are
the souls of the happy dead. In the far valleys the peasant people were
comforted in their toil, whether they planted out the green young rice,
or gathered in the ears. The sun and the wind were tempered, and the
rain fell softly upon their faces. Ever and again they climbed the steep
hillside to kneel at the shrine of Kwannon the Merciful, and to speak
with the holy man, whose wooden bowl they would fill with rice or
millet, or barley-meal or beans. Sometimes he came down and went through
the villages, where he soothed the sick and touched the little children.
Folks said that his very garments shone.

Now in that country there came a winter season the like of which there
had not been within the memory of man. First came the wind blowing
wildly from the north, and then came the snow in great flakes which
never ceased to fall for the period of nine days. All the folk of the
valleys kept within doors as warm as might be, and those that had their
winter stores fared none so ill. But, ah me, for the bitter cold upon
the heights of Nariai-San! At the Lone Pine, and about the hermit’s hut,
the snow was piled and drifted. The shrine of Kwannon the Merciful could
no more be seen. Saion Zenji, the holy man, lived for some time upon the
food that was in his wooden bowl. Then he drew about him the warm
garment of thought, and passed many days in meditation, which was meat
and drink and sleep to him. Howbeit, even his clear spirit could not
utterly dispel the clouds of illusion. At length it came to earth and
all the man trembled with bodily weakness.

“Forgive me, O Kwannon the Merciful,” said Saion Zenji; “but verily it
seems to me that if I have no food I die.”

Slowly he rose, and painfully he pushed open the door of his hut. The
snow had ceased; it was clear and cold. White were the branches of the
Lone Pine, and all white the Floating Bridge.

“Forgive me, O Kwannon the Merciful,” said Saion Zenji; “I know not the
reason, but I am loath to depart and be with the Shades of Yomi. Save me
this life, O Kwannon the Merciful.”

Turning, he beheld a dappled hind lying on the snow, newly dead of the
cold. He bowed his head. “Poor gentle creature,” he said, “never more
shalt thou run in the hills, and nibble the grass and the sweet
flowers.” And he stroked the hind’s soft flank, sorrowing.

“Poor deer, I would not eat thy flesh. Is it not forbidden by the Law of
the Blessed One? Is it not forbidden by the word of Kwannon the
Merciful?” Thus he mused. But even as he mused he seemed to hear a voice
that spoke to him, and the voice said:

“Alas, Saion Zenji, if thou die of hunger and cold, what shall become of
my people, the poor folk of the valleys? Shall they not be comforted any
more by the Sutras of the Tathagata? Break the law to keep the law,
beloved, thou that countest the world well lost for a divine song.”

Then presently Saion Zenji took a knife, and cut him a piece of flesh
from the side of the dappled hind. And he gathered fir cones and made a
little fire and cooked the deer’s flesh in an iron pot. When it was
ready he ate half of it. And his strength came to him again, and he
opened his lips and sang praises to the Tathagata, and the very embers
of the dying fire leapt up in flame to hear him.

“Howbeit I must bury the poor deer,” said Saion Zenji. So he went to the
door of his hut. But look where he might no deer nor dappled hind did he
see, nor yet the mark of one in the deep snow.

“It is passing strange,” he said, and wondered.

As soon as might be, up came the poor folk from the valley to see how
their hermit had fared through the snow and the stormy weather. “The
gods send he be not dead of cold or hunger,” they said one to another.
But they found him chanting in his hut, and he told them how he had
eaten of the flesh of a dappled hind and was satisfied.

“I cut but a hand’s breadth of the meat,” he said, “and half of it is
yet in the iron pot.”

But when they came to look in the pot, they found there no flesh of
deer, but a piece of cedar wood gilded upon the one side. Marvelling
greatly, they carried it to the shrine of Kwannon the Merciful, and when
they had cleared away the deep snow, all of them went in to worship.
There smiled the image of the sweet heavenly lady, golden among her
golden flowers. In her right side there was a gash where the gilded wood
was cut away. Then the poor folk from the valley reverently brought that
which they had found in the hermit’s pot, and set it in the gash. And
immediately the wound was healed and the smooth gold shone over the
place. All the people fell on their faces, but the hermit stood singing
the high praise of Kwannon the Merciful.

The sun set in glory. The valley folk crept softly from the shrine and
went down to their own homes. The cold moon and the stars shone upon the
Lone Pine and the Floating Bridge and the sea. Through a rent in the
shrine’s roof they illumined the face of Kwannon the Merciful, and made
visible her manifold arms of love. Yet Saion Zenji, her servant, stood
before her singing in an ecstasy, with tears upon his face:

    “O wonder-woman, strong and beautiful,
     Tender-hearted, pitiful, and thousand-armed!
     Thou hast fed me with thine own flesh--
     Mystery of mysteries!
     Poor dead dappled hind thou cam’st to me;
     In the deep of mine own heart thou spoke to me
     To keep, yet break, and breaking, keep thy law--
     Mystery of mysteries!
     Kwannon, the Merciful Lady, stay with me,
     Save me from the perils of illusion;
     Let me not be afraid of the snow or the Lone Pine.
     Mystery of mysteries--
     Thou hast refused Nirvana,
     Help me that I may lose the world, content,
     And sing the Divine Song.”



[Illustration: The Espousal of the Rat’s Daughter.--_P. 171._]

Mr. Nedzumi, the Rat, was an important personage in the hamlet where he
lived--at least he was so in his own and his wife’s estimation. This was
in part, of course, due to the long line of ancestors from whom he was
descended, and to their intimate association with the gods of Good
Fortune. For, be it remembered, his ancestry went back into a remote
past, in fact as far as time itself; for had not one of his race been
selected as the first animal in the cycle of the hours, precedence being
even given him over the dragon, the tiger, and the horse? As to his
intimacy with the gods, had not one of his forebears been the chosen
companion of the great Daikoku, the most revered and the most beneficent
of the gods of Good Fortune?

Mr. Rat was well-to-do in life. His home had for generations been
established in a snug, warm and cosy bank, hard by one of the most
fertile rice-fields on the country-side, where crops never failed, and
where in spring he could nibble his fill of the young green shoots, and
in autumn gather into his storerooms supplies of the ripened grain
sufficient for all his wants during the coming winter.

For his needs were not great. Entertainment cost him but little, and,
unlike his fellows, he had the smallest of families, in fact a family of
one only.

But, as regards that one, quality more than compensated for quantity,
for it consisted of a daughter, of a beauty unsurpassed in the whole
province. He himself had been the object of envy in his married life,
for he had had the good fortune to marry into a family of a very select
piebald breed, which seldom condescended to mix its blood with the
ordinary self-coloured tribe, and now his daughter had been born a
peerless white, and had received the name of Yuki, owing to her
resemblance to pure snow.

It is little wonder, then, that as she grew up beautiful in form and
feature, her father’s ambitions were fired, and that he aspired to marry
her to the highest in the land.

As it happened, the hamlet where he lived was not very far removed from
a celebrated temple, and Mr. Rat, having been brought up in the odour of
sanctity, had all his life long been accustomed to make pilgrimages to
the great shrine. There he had formed the acquaintance of an old priest,
who was good enough to provide for him out of the temple offerings in
return for gossip as to the doings of his village, which happened to be
that in which the priest had been born and bred. To him the rat had
often unburdened his mind, and the old priest had come to see his
friend’s self-importance and his little weaknesses, and had in vain
impressed upon him the virtues of humility.

Now Mr. Rat could find no one amongst his village companions to inform
him where to attain what had now become an insatiable desire, namely, a
fine marriage for his daughter. So he turned to the temple custodian for
advice, and one summer morn found him hammering on the gong which
summoned his friend the priest.

“Welcome, Mr. Rat; to what am I indebted for your visit?” said the old
priest, for experience had shown him that his friend seldom came so far
afield unless he had some request to make.

Thereupon Mr. Rat unburdened himself of all that was in his mind, of his
aspiration, and of the difficulty he had in ascertaining in what manner
he could obtain it.

Nor did the priest immediately satisfy him, for he said the matter was a
difficult one, and would require much consideration. However, on the
third day the oracle gave answer as follows: “There is no doubt that
apart from the gods there is no one so powerful, or who exercises so
beneficent a rule over us, as His Majesty the Sun. Had I a daughter, and
did I aspire to such heights for her as you do, I should make my suit to
him, and I should take the opportunity of so doing when he comes down to
our earth at sundown, for then it is that he decks himself in his most
gorgeous apparel; moreover, he is more readily approached when his day’s
work is done, and he is about to take his well-earned rest. Were I you
I would lose no time, but present myself in company with your honourable
wife and daughter to him this very evening at the end of the great
Cryptomeria Avenue at the hour when he especially honours it by flooding
it with his beams.”

“A thousand thanks,” said Mr. Rat. “No time is to be lost if I am to get
my folk together at the time and place you mention.”

“Good fortune to you,” said the priest; “may I hail you the next time I
see you as father-in-law to His Majesty the Sun.”

At the appointed hour parents and daughter were to be seen in the
avenue, robed in their finest clothes; and as the sun came earthwards
and his rays illumined the gloom under the great pines, Mr. Rat, noway
abashed, addressed His Majesty and at once informed him of his desire.

His Majesty, evidently considering that one business personage
addressing another should not waste time in beating about the bush,
replied as follows: “I am extremely beholden to you for your kind
intention of allowing me to wed your honourable and beautiful daughter,
O Yuki San, but may I ask your reason for selecting me to be your
honourable son-in-law?”

To this Mr. Rat replied, “We have determined to marry our daughter to
whoever is the most powerful personage in the world, and that is why we
desire to offer her to you in marriage.”

“Yes,” said His Majesty, “you are certainly not without reason in
imagining me to be the most august and powerful person in the world;
but, unfortunately, it has been my misfortune to discover that there is
one other even more powerful than myself, against whose plottings I have
no power. It is to him that you should very certainly marry your

“And may we honourably ask you who that potentate may be?” said Mr. Rat.

“Certainly,” rejoined the Sun. “It is the Cloud. Oftentimes when I have
set myself to illumine the world he comes across my path and covers my
face so that my subjects may not see me, and so long as he does this I
am altogether in his power. If, therefore, it is the most powerful
personage in the world whom you seek for your daughter, the honourable O
Yuki San, you must bestow her on no one else than the Cloud.”

It required little consideration for both father and mother to see the
wisdom of the Sun’s advice, and upon his suggestion they determined to
wait on the Cloud at the very earliest opportunity, and at an hour
before he rose from his bed, which he usually made on the slopes of a
mountain some leagues removed from their village. So they set out, and a
long journey they had, so long that Mr. Rat decided that if he was to
present his daughter when she was looking her best, the journey must not
be hurried. Consequently, instead of arriving at early dawn, it was full
afternoon when they neared the summit where the Cloud was apparently
wrapped in slumber. But he roused himself as he saw the family
approaching, and bade them welcome in so urbane a manner that the Rat
at once proceeded to lay his request before him.

To this the Cloud answered, “I am indeed honoured by your condescension
in proposing that I should marry your beauteous daughter, O Yuki San. It
is quite true, as His August Majesty the Sun says, that when I so desire
I have the strength to stay him from exercising his power upon his
subjects, and I should much esteem the privilege of wedding your
daughter. But as you would single out for that honour the most powerful
person in the world, you must seek out His Majesty the Wind, against
whom I have no strength, for as soon as he competes with me for
supremacy I must fain fly away to the ends of the earth.”

“You surprise me,” said the Rat, “but I take your word for it. I would,
therefore, ask you whether His Majesty the Wind will be this way
shortly, and where I may best meet him.”

“I am afraid I cannot tell you at the moment when he is likely to be
this way. He usually announces his coming by harrying some of my
subjects who act as my outposts, but, as you see, they are now all
resting quietly. His Majesty is at this moment, I believe, holding a
court far out in the Eastern Seas. Were I you I would go down to the
seashore and await his coming. He is often somewhat inclined to be
short-tempered by the time he gets up into these mountainous parts,
owing to the obstructions he has met with on his journey, and he will
have had few of these vexatious annoyances during his ride over the

Now, although from the slopes of the mountain the sea looked not very
far distant, it was in reality a long way for a delicately-nurtured
young lady such as Yuki, and every mile of the journey that she had to
traverse increased her querulousness. Her father had often boasted of
the journeys that he had taken down to the coast, free of cost,
concealed in a truck-load of rice, and she would take no excuses that
there was no railway to the point at which they were to await His
Highness the Wind, although had there been it would never have done for
a party engaged on such an embassy to ride in a railway truck. Nor was
her humour improved by the time they had to wait in the very second-rate
accommodation afforded by a fishing hamlet, as none of them were
accustomed to a fish fare. But after many days there were signs that the
great personage was arriving, and they watched with some trepidation his
passage over the sea, although when, in due time, he neared the shore
they could hardly credit the Cloud’s assurance as to his strength, for
he seemed the personification of all that was gentle; and Madame Rat at
once interposed the remark that you should never judge a person’s
character by what you hear, and that the Cloud evidently owed the Wind a

So the Rat at once unburdened himself to the Wind as it came over the
water towards him, making its face ripple with smiles. And the Wind
itself was in the fairest good humour and addressed the Rat as follows:
“Mr. Cloud is a flatterer, and knows full well that I have no power
against him when he really comes up against me in one of his thunderous
moods. To call me the most powerful person in the world is nonsense.
Where do you come from? Why, in that very village there is one stronger
than me, namely, the high wall that fences in the house of your good
neighbour. If your daughter must fain marry the strongest thing in the
world, wed her to the wall. You will find him a very stalwart spouse. I
wish you good day. I am sorry I cannot offer you a seat in my chariot,
but I am not going in the direction of that wall to-day, else I should
have had much pleasure in introducing your honourable self to my
powerful antagonist.”

By this time the party was getting much disheartened, and the stress of
the journey and the chagrin of so many disappointments were beginning to
tell on O Yuki San’s beauty. But Mr. Rat said there was nothing for it
but to return home; he knew the wall in question very well, but had no
idea it stood so high in the world’s estimation--he had always thought
of it as somewhat of a dullard.

So they trudged homewards, and it was weary work, for the Cloud had
hidden the Sun, and the Wind had fretted the Cloud, who showed his
ill-humour by discharging a surplusage of moisture he had in his pocket,
and they approached their home wet through, bedraggled and worn out. As
luck would have it, just as they gained the wall which the wind had
singled out for its power, a heavier downpour than ever came on and they
were glad to take shelter under the lee of the wall. Now Mr. Wall had
always been known for his inquisitive nature, which, it is said, arose
from one side of his face never being able to see what was going on on
the other; and so hearing his leeward side addressing Mr. Rat, and
ascertaining that he had come from the sea, the windward side at once
asked whether he had any tidings of that scoundrel the Wind, who was
always coming and chafing his complexion.

“Why,” said Mr. Rat, “we met him but recently, and he desired to be
remembered to you, who, he said, was the strongest person in the world.”

“I the strongest! It shows his ignorance. Why, only yesterday your
nephew, the big brown rat, because he would not be at the trouble of
going round, must needs gnaw a hole through me. The strongest thing in
the world! Why, next time the wind comes this way he’ll rush through the
hole and be telling your nephew that he’s the strongest person in the

At this moment the rain stopped, the clouds rolled by, and the sun shone
out, and Mr. and Mrs. Rat went home congratulating themselves that they
had not had to demean themselves by proposing their daughter in marriage
to a neighbour with such a false character.

And a month afterwards O Yuki San expressed her determination to marry
her cousin, and her parents were fain to give their consent, for had he
not proved himself to be the most powerful person in the world?



From the glorious clouds of High Heaven, from the divine ether, the
vital essence, and the great concourse of eternal deities, there issued
forth the heavenly pair--Izanagi, His Augustness, the Lord of
Invitation, and with him, Izanami, Her Augustness, the Lady of

Together they stood upon the Floating Bridge of High Heaven, and they
looked down to where the mists swirled in confusion beneath their feet.
For to them had been given power and commandment to make, consolidate
and give birth to the drifting lands. And to this end the august powers
had granted them a heavenly jewelled spear. And the two deities,
standing upon the Floating Bridge of Heaven, lowered the jewelled spear
head-first into chaos, so that the mists were divided. And, as they
waited, the brine dripped from the jewels upon the spear-head, and there
was formed an island. This is the island of Onogoro.

And His Augustness, the Lord of Invitation, took by the hand Her
Augustness, the Lady of Invitation, his lovely Younger Sister, and
together they descended to the island that was created. And they made
the islands of Japan; the land of Iyo, which is called Lovely Princess;
the land of Toyo, which is called Luxuriant Sun Youth; the land of
Sanuki, which is called Good Prince Boiled Rice; and Great Yamato, the
Luxuriant Island of the Dragon Fly; and many more, of which to tell were

Furthermore, they gave birth to many myriads of deities to rule over the
earth, and the air, and the deep sea; and for every season there were
deities, and every place was sacred, for the deities were like the
needles of the pine trees in number.

Now, when the time came for the Fire God, Kagu-Tsuchi, to be born, his
mother, the Lady Izanami, was burned, and suffered a change; and she
laid herself upon the ground. Then Izanagi, the Prince who Invites,
asked, “What is it that has come to thee, my lovely Younger Sister?”

And she answered, weeping, “The time of my departure draws near ... I go
to the land of Yomi.”

And His Augustness Izanagi wept aloud, dropping his tears upon her feet
and upon her pillow. And all his tears fell down and became deities.
Nevertheless, the Lady Izanami departed.

Then His Augustness, the Prince who Invites, was wroth, and lifted his
face to High Heaven, and cried, “O Thine Augustness, my lovely Younger
Sister, that I should have given thee in exchange for this single

And, drawing the ten-grasp sword that was girded upon him, he slew the
Fire God, his child; and binding up his long hair, he followed the Lady
Izanami to the entrance of Yomi, the world of the dead. And she, the
Princess who Invites, appearing as lovely as she was when alive, came
forth to greet him. And she lifted up the curtain of the Palace of Hades
that they might speak together.

And the Lord Izanagi said, “I weary for thee, my lovely Younger Sister,
and the lands that thou and I created together are not finished making.
Therefore come back.”

Then the Lady made answer, saying, “My sweet lord, and my spouse, it is
very lamentable that thou camest not sooner unto me, for I have eaten of
the baked meats of Yomi. Nevertheless, as thou hast dearly honoured me
in thy coming here, Thine Augustness, my lovely Elder Brother, if it may
be, I will return with thee. I go to lay my desire before the Gods of
Yomi. Wait thou here until I come again, and, if thou love me, seek not
to look upon me till the time.” And so she spoke and left him.

Izanagi sat upon a stone at the entrance of the Palace of Hades until
the sun set, and he was weary of that valley of gloom. And because she
tarried long, he arose and plucked a comb from the left tress of his
hair, and broke off a tooth from one end of the comb, and lighting it to
be a torch, he drew back the curtain of the Palace of Yomi. But he saw
his beloved lying in corruption, and round about her were the eight
deities of Thunder. They are the Fire Thunder, and the Black Thunder,
and the Cleaving Thunder, and the Earth Thunder, and the Roaring
Thunder, and the Couchant Thunder, and the Young Thunder. And by her
terrible head was the Great Thunder.

And Izanagi, being overawed, turned to flee away, but Izanami arose and
cried, “Thou hast put me to shame, for thou hast seen my defilement. Now
I will see thine also.”

And she called to her the Hideous Females of Yomi, and bade them take
and slay His Augustness, the Lord who Invites. But he ran for his life,
in the gloom stumbling upon the rocks of the valley of Yomi. And tearing
the vine wreath from his long hair he flung it behind him, and it fell
to the ground and became many bunches of grapes, which the Hideous
Females stayed to devour. And he fled on. But the Females of Yomi still
pursued him; so then he took a multitudinous and close-toothed comb from
the right tresses of his long hair, and cast it behind him. When it
touched the ground it became a groove of bamboo shoots, and again the
females stayed to devour; and Izanagi fled on, panting.

But, in her wrath and despair, his Younger Sister sent after him the
Eight Thunders, together with a thousand and five hundred warriors of
Hades; yet he, the Prince of Invitation, drew the ten-grasp sword that
was augustly girded upon him, and brandishing it behind him gained at
last the base of the Even Pass of Hades, the black mouth of Yomi. And he
plucked there three peaches that grew upon a tree, and smote his
enemies that they all fled back; and the peaches were called Their
Augustnesses, Great Divine Fruit.

Then, last of all, his Younger Sister, the Princess who Invites, herself
came out to pursue. So Izanagi took a rock which could not have been
lifted by a thousand men, and placed it between them in the Even Pass of
Hades. And standing behind the rock, he pronounced a leave-taking and
words of separation. But, from the farther side of the rock, Izanami
called to him, “My lovely Elder Brother, Thine Augustness, of small
avail shall be thy making of lands, and thy creating of deities, for I,
with my powers, shall strangle every day a thousand of thy people.”

So she cried, taunting him.

But he answered her, “My lovely Younger Sister, Thine Augustness, if
thou dost so, I shall cause, in one day, fifteen hundred to be born.

So Her Augustness, the Lady who Invites, is called the Queen of the

But the great lord, His Highness, the Prince who Invites, departed,
crying, “Horror! Horror! Horror! I have come to a hideous and polluted
land.” And he lay still by the river-side, until such time as he should
recover strength to perform purification.



This is a story of the youth of Yamato, when the gods still walked upon
the Land of the Reed Plains and took pleasure in the fresh and waving
rice-ears of the country-side.

There was a lady having in her something of earth and something of
heaven. She was a king’s daughter. She was augustly radiant and
renowned. She was called the Dear Delight of the World, the Greatly
Desired, the Fairest of the Fair. She was slender and strong, at once
mysterious and gay, fickle yet faithful, gentle yet hard to please. The
gods loved her, but men worshipped her.

The coming of the Dear Delight was on this wise. Prince Ama Boko had a
red jewel of one of his enemies. The jewel was a peace-offering. Prince
Ama Boko set it in a casket upon a stand. He said, “This is a jewel of
price.” Then the jewel was transformed into an exceeding fair lady. Her
name was the Lady of the Red Jewel, and Prince Ama Boko took her to
wife. There was born to them one only daughter, who was the Greatly
Desired, the Fairest of the Fair.

It is true that eighty men of name came to seek her hand. Princes they
were, and warriors, and deities. They came from near and they came from
far. Across the Sea Path they came in great ships, white sails or
creaking oars, with brave and lusty sailors. Through the forests dark
and dangerous they made their way to the Princess, the Greatly Desired;
or lightly, lightly they descended by way of the Floating Bridge in
garments of glamour and silver-shod. They brought their gifts with
them--gold, fair jewels upon a string, light garments of feathers,
singing birds, sweet things to eat, silk cocoons, oranges in a basket.
They brought minstrels and singers and dancers and tellers of tales to
entertain the Princess, the Greatly Desired.

As for the Princess, she sat still in her white bower with her maidens
about her. Passing rich was her robe, and ever and anon her maidens
spread it afresh over the mats, set out her deep sleeves, or combed her
long hair with a golden comb.

Round about the bower was a gallery of white wood, and here the suitors
came and knelt in the presence of their liege lady.

Many and many a time the carp leapt in the garden fish-pond. Many and
many a time a scarlet pomegranate flower fluttered and dropped from the
tree. Many and many a time the lady shook her head and a lover went his
way, sad and sorry.

Now it happened that the God of Autumn went to try his fortune with the
Princess. He was a brave young man indeed. Ardent were his eyes; the
colour flamed in his dark cheek. He was girded with a sword that ten men
could not lift. The chrysanthemums of autumn burned upon his coat in
cunning broidery. He came and bent his proud head to the very ground
before the Princess, then raised it and looked her full in the eyes. She
opened her sweet red lips--waited--said nothing--but shook her head.

So the God of Autumn went forth from her presence, blinded with his
bitter tears.

He found his younger brother, the God of Spring.

“How fares it with you, my brother?” said the God of Spring.

“Ill, ill indeed, for she will not have me. She is the proud lady. Mine
is the broken heart.”

“Ah, my brother!” said the God of Spring.

“You’d best come home with me, for all is over with us,” said the God of

But the God of Spring said, “I stay here.”

“What,” cried his brother, “is it likely, then, that she will take you
if she’ll have none of me? Will she love the smooth cheeks of a child
and flout the man full grown? Will you go to her, brother? She’ll laugh
at you for your pains.”

“Still I will go,” said the God of Spring.

“A wager! A wager!” the God of Autumn cried. “I’ll give you a cask of
_saké_ if you win her--_saké_ for the merry feast of your wedding. If
you lose her, the _saké_ will be for me. I’ll drown my grief in it.”

“Well, brother,” said the God of Spring, “I take the wager. You’ll have
your _saké_ like enough indeed.”

“And so I think,” said the God of Autumn, and went his ways.

Then the young God of Spring went to his mother, who loved him.

“Do you love me, my mother?” he said.

She answered, “More than a hundred existences.”

“Mother,” he said, “get me for my wife the Princess, the Fairest of the
Fair. She is called the Greatly Desired; greatly, oh, greatly, do I
desire her.”

“You love her, my son?” said his mother.

“More than a hundred existences,” he said.

“Then lie down, my son, my best beloved, lie down and sleep, and I will
work for you.”

So she spread a couch for him, and when he was asleep she looked on him.

“Your face,” she said, “is the sweetest thing in the world.”

There was no sleep for her the live-long night, but she went swiftly to
a place she knew of, where the wistaria drooped over a still pool. She
plucked her sprays and tendrils and brought home as much as she could
carry. The wistaria was white and purple, and you must know it was not
yet in flower, but hidden in the unopened bud. From it she wove
magically a robe. She fashioned sandals also, and a bow and arrows.

In the morning she waked the God of Spring.

“Come, my son,” she said, “let me put this robe on you.”

The God of Spring rubbed his eyes. “A sober suit for courting,” he said.
But he did as his mother bade him. And he bound the sandals on his feet,
and slung the bow and the arrows in their quiver on his back.

“Will all be well, my mother?” he said.

“All will be well, beloved,” she answered him.

So the God of Spring came before the Fairest of the Fair. And one of her
maidens laughed and said:

“See, mistress, there comes to woo you to-day only a little plain boy,
all in sober grey.”

But the Fairest of the Fair lifted up her eyes and looked upon the God
of Spring. And in the same moment the wistaria with which he was clothed
burst into flower. He was sweet-scented, white and purple from head to

The Princess rose from the white mats.

“Lord,” she said, “I am yours if you will have me.”

Hand in hand they went together to the mother of the God of Spring.

“Ah, my mother,” he said, “what shall I do now? My brother the God of
Autumn is angry with me. He will not give me the _saké_ I have won from
him in a wager. Great is his rage. He will seek to take our lives.”

“Be still, beloved,” said his mother, “and fear not.”

She took a cane of hollow bamboo, and in the hollow she put salt and
stones; and when she had wrapped the cane round with leaves, she hung it
in the smoke of the fire. She said:

“The green leaves fade and die. So you must do, my eldest born, the God
of Autumn. The stone sinks in the sea, so must you sink. You must sink,
you must fail, like the ebb tide.”

Now the tale is told, and all the world knows why Spring is fresh and
merry and young, and Autumn the saddest thing that is.



[Illustration: The Strange Story of the Golden Comb.--_P. 191._]

In ancient days two _samurai_ dwelt in Sendai of the North. They were
friends and brothers in arms.

Hasunuma one was named, and the other Saito. Now it happened that a
daughter was born to the house of Hasunuma, and upon the selfsame day,
and in the selfsame hour, there was born to the house of Saito a son.
The boy child they called Konojo, and the girl they called Aiko, which
means the Child of Love.

Or ever a year had passed over their innocent heads the children were
betrothed to one another. And as a token the wife of Saito gave a golden
comb to the wife of Hasunuma, saying: “For the child’s hair when she
shall be old enough.” Aiko’s mother wrapped the comb in a handkerchief,
and laid it away in her chest. It was of gold lacquer, very fine work,
adorned with golden dragon-flies.

This was very well; but before long misfortune came upon Saito and his
house, for, by sad mischance, he aroused the ire of his feudal lord, and
he was fain to fly from Sendai by night, and his wife was with him, and
the child. No man knew where they went, or had any news of them, nor of
how they fared, and for long, long years Hasunuma heard not one word of

The child Aiko grew to be the loveliest lady in Sendai. She had longer
hair than any maiden in the city, and she was the most graceful dancer
ever seen. She moved as a wave of the sea, or a cloud of the sky, or the
wild bamboo grass in the wind. She had a sister eleven moons younger
than she, who was called Aiyamé, or the Water Iris; and she was the
second loveliest lady in Sendai. Aiko was white, but Aiyamé was brown,
quick, and light, and laughing. When they went abroad in the streets of
Sendai, folk said, “There go the moon and the south wind.”

Upon an idle summer day when all the air was languid, and the cicala
sang ceaselessly as he swung on the pomegranate bough, the maidens
rested on the cool white mats of their lady mother’s bower. Their dark
locks were loose, and their slender feet were bare. They had between
them an ancient chest of red lacquer, a Bride Box of their lady
mother’s, and in the chest they searched and rummaged for treasure.

“See, sister,” said Aiyamé, “here are scarlet thongs, the very thing for
my sandals ... and what is this? A crystal rosary, I declare! How

Aiko said, “My mother, I pray you give me this length of violet silk, it
will make me very fine undersleeves to my new grey gown; and, mother,
let me have the crimson for a petticoat; and surely, mother, you do not
need this little bit of brocade?”

“And what an _obi_,” cried Aiyamé, as she dragged it from the chest,
“grass green and silver!” Springing lightly up, she wound the length
about her slender body. “Now behold me for the finest lady in all
Sendai. Very envious shall be the daughter of the rich Hachiman, when
she sees this wonder _obi_; but I shall be calm and careless, and say,
looking down thus humbly, ‘Your pardon, noble lady, that I wear this
foolish trifling _obi_, unmeet for your great presence!’ Mother, mother,
give me the _obi_.”

“Arah! Arah! Little pirates!” said the mother, and smiled.

Aiko thrust her hand to the bottom of the chest. “Here is something
hard,” she murmured, “a little casket wrapped in a silken handkerchief.
How it smells of orris and ancient spices!--now what may it be?” So
saying, she unwound the kerchief and opened the casket. “A golden comb!”
she said, and laid it on her knee.

“Give it here, child,” cried the mother quickly; “it is not for your

But the maiden sat quite still, her eyes upon the golden comb. It was of
gold lacquer, very fine work, adorned with golden dragon-flies.

For a time the maiden said not a word, nor did her mother, though she
was troubled; and even the light Lady of the South Wind seemed stricken
into silence, and drew the scarlet sandal thongs through and through
her fingers.

“Mother, what of this golden comb?” said Aiko at last.

“My sweet, it is the love-token between you and Konojo, the son of
Saito, for you two were betrothed in your cradles. But now it is full
fifteen years since Saito went from Sendai in the night, he and all his
house, and left no trace behind.”

“Is my love dead?” said Aiko.

“Nay, that I know not--but he will never come; so, I beseech you, think
no more of him, my pretty bird. There, get you your fan, and dance for
me and for your sister.”

Aiko first set the golden comb in her hair. Then she flung open her fan
to dance. She moved like a wave of the sea, or a cloud of the sky, or
the wild bamboo grass in the wind. She had not danced long before she
dropped the fan, with a long cry, and she herself fell her length upon
the ground. From that hour she was in a piteous way, and lay in her bed
sighing, like a maid lovelorn and forsaken. She could not eat nor sleep;
she had no pleasure in life. The sunrise and the sound of rain at night
were nothing to her any more. Not her father, nor her mother, nor her
sister, the Lady of the South Wind, were able to give her any ease.

Presently she turned her face to the wall. “It is more than I can
understand,” she said, and so died.

When they had prepared the poor young maid for her grave, her mother
came, crying, to look at her for the last time. And she set the golden
comb in the maid’s hair, saying:

“My own dear little child, I pray that in other lives you may know
happiness. Therefore take your golden token with you; you will have need
of it when you meet the wraith of your lover.” For she believed that
Konojo was dead.

But, alas, for Karma that is so pitiless, one short moon had the maid
been in her grave when the brave young man, her betrothed, came to claim
her at her father’s house.

“Alas and alack, Konojo, the son of Saito, alas, my brave young man, too
late you have come! Your joy is turned to mourning, for your bride lies
under the green grass, and her sister goes weeping in the moonlight to
pour the water of the dead.” Thus spoke Hasunuma the _samurai_.

“Lord,” said the brave young man, “there are three ways left, the sword,
the strong girdle, and the river. These are the short roads to Yomi.

But Hasunuma held the young man by the arm. “Nay, then, thou son of
Saito,” he said, “but hear the fourth way, which is far better. The road
to Yomi is short, but it is very dark; moreover, from the confines of
that country few return. Therefore stay with me, Konojo, and comfort me
in my old age, for I have no sons.”

So Konojo entered the household of Hasunuma the _samurai_, and dwelt in
the garden house by the gate.

Now in the third month Hasunuma and his wife and the daughter that was
left them arose early and dressed them in garments of ceremony, and
presently were borne away in _kago_, for to the temple they were bound,
and to their ancestral tombs, where they offered prayers and incense the
live-long day.

It was bright starlight when they returned, and cold the night was,
still and frosty. Konojo stood and waited at the garden gate. He waited
for their home-coming, as was meet. He drew his cloak about him and gave
ear to the noises of the evening. He heard the sound of the blind man’s
whistle, and the blind man’s staff upon the stones. Far off he heard a
child laugh twice; then he heard men singing in chorus, as men who sing
to cheer themselves in their labour, and in the pauses of song he heard
the creak, creak of swinging _kago_ that the men bore upon their
shoulders, and he said, “They come.”

    “I go to the house of the Beloved,
     Her plum tree stands by the eaves;
     It is full of blossom.
     The dew lies in the heart of the flowers,
     So they are the drinking-cups of the sparrows.
     How do you go to your love’s house?
     Even upon the wings of the night wind.
     Which road leads to your love’s house?
     All the roads in the world.”

This was the song of the _kago_ men. First the _kago_ of Hasunuma the
_samurai_ turned in at the garden gate, then followed his lady; last
came Aiyamé of the South Wind. Upon the roof of her _kago_ there lay a
blossoming bough.

“Rest well, lady,” said Konojo, as she passed, and had no answer back.
Howbeit it seemed that some light thing dropped from the _kago_, and
fell with a little noise to the ground. He stooped and picked up a
woman’s comb. It was of gold lacquer, very fine work, adorned with
golden dragon-flies. Smooth and warm it lay in the hand of Konojo. And
he went his way to the garden house. At the hour of the rat the young
_samurai_ threw down his book of verse, laid himself upon his bed, and
blew out his light. And the selfsame moment he heard a wandering step

“And who may it be that visits the garden house by night?” said Konojo,
and he wondered. About and about went the wandering feet till at length
they stayed, and the door was touched with an uncertain hand.

“Konojo! Konojo!”

“What is it?” said the _samurai_.

“Open, open; I am afraid.”

“Who are you, and why are you afraid?”

“I am afraid of the night. I am the daughter of Hasunuma the
_samurai_.... Open to me for the love of the gods.”

Konojo undid the latch and slid back the door of the garden house to
find a slender and drooping lady upon the threshold. He could not see
her face, for she held her long sleeve so as to hide it from him; but
she swayed and trembled, and her frail shoulders shook with sobbing.

“Let me in,” she moaned, and forthwith entered the garden house.

Half smiling and much perplexed, Konojo asked her:

“Are you Aiyamé, whom they call the Lady of the South Wind?”

“I am she.”

“Lady, you do me much honour.”

“The comb!” she said, “the golden comb!”

As she said this, she threw the veil from her face, and taking the robe
of Konojo in both her little hands, she looked into his eyes as though
she would draw forth his very soul. The lady was brown and quick and
light. Her eyes and her lips were made for laughing, and passing strange
she looked in the guise that she wore then.

“The comb!” she said, “the golden comb!”

“I have it here,” said Konojo; “only let go my robe, and I will fetch it

At this the lady cast herself down upon the white mats in a passion of
bitter tears, and Konojo, poor unfortunate, pressed his hands together,
quite beside himself.

“What to do?” he said; “what to do?”

At last he raised the lady in his arms, and stroked her little hand to
comfort her.

“Lord,” she said, as simply as a child, “lord, do you love me?”

And he answered her in a moment, “I love you more than many lives, O
Lady of the South Wind.”

“Lord,” she said, “will you come with me then?”

He answered her, “Even to the land of Yomi,” and took her hand.

Forth they went into the night, and they took the road together. By
river-side they went, and over plains of flowers; they went by rocky
ways, or through the whispering pines, and when they had wandered far
enough, of the green bamboos they built them a little house to dwell in.
And they were there for a year of happy days and nights.

Now upon a morning of the third month Konojo beheld men with _kago_ come
swinging through the bamboo grove. And he said:

“What have they to do with us, these men and their _kago_?”

“Lord,” said Aiyamé, “they come to bear us to my father’s house.”

He cried, “What is this foolishness? We will not go.”

“Indeed, and we must go,” said the lady.

“Go you, then,” said Konojo; “as for me, I stay here where I am happy.”

“Ah, lord,” she said, “ah, my dear, do you then love me less, who vowed
to go with me, even to the Land of Yomi?”

Then he did all that she would. And he broke a blossoming bough from a
tree that grew near by and laid it upon the roof of her _kago_.

Swiftly, swiftly they were borne, and the _kago_ men sang as they went,
a song to make labour light.

    “I go to the house of the Beloved,
     Her plum tree stands by the eaves;
     It is full of blossom.
     The dew lies in the heart of the flowers,
     So they are the drinking-cups of the sparrows.
     How do you go to your love’s house?
     Even upon the wings of the night wind.
     Which road leads to your love’s house?
     All the roads in the world.”

This was the song of the _kago_ men.

About nightfall they came to the house of Hasunuma the _samurai_.

“Go you in, my dear lord,” said the Lady of the South Wind. “I will wait
without; if my father is very wroth with you, only show him the golden
comb.” And with that she took it from her hair and gave it him. Smooth
and warm it lay in his hand. Then Konojo went into the house.

“Welcome, welcome home, Konojo, son of Saito!” cried Hasunuma. “How has
it fared with your knightly adventure?”

“Knightly adventure!” said Konojo, and blushed.

“It is a year since your sudden departure, and we supposed that you had
gone upon a quest, or in the expiation of some vow laid upon your soul.”

“Alas, my good lord,” said Konojo, “I have sinned against you and
against your house.” And he told Hasunuma what he had done.

When he had made an end of his tale:

“Boy,” said the _samurai_, “you jest, but your merry jest is ill-timed.
Know that my child lies even as one dead. For a year she has neither
risen nor spoken nor smiled. She is visited by a heavy sickness and none
can heal her.”

“Sir,” said Konojo, “your child, the Lady of the South Wind, waits in a
_kago_ without your garden wall. I will fetch her in presently.”

Forth they went together, the young man and the _samurai_, but they
found no _kago_ without the garden wall, no _kago_-bearers and no lady.
Only a broken bough of withered blossom lay upon the ground.

“Indeed, indeed, she was here but now!” cried Konojo. “She gave me her
comb--her golden comb. See, my lord, here it is.”

“What comb is this, Konojo? Where got you this comb that was set in a
dead maid’s hair, and buried with her beneath the green grass? Where got
you the comb of Aiko, the Lady of the Moon, that died for love? Speak,
Konojo, son of Saito. This is a strange thing.”

Now whilst Konojo stood amazed, and leaned silent and bewildered against
the garden wall, a lady came lightly through the trees. She moved as a
wave of the sea, or a cloud of the sky, or the wild bamboo grass in the

“Aiyamé,” cried the _samurai_, “how are you able to leave your bed?”

The young man said nothing, but fell on his knees beside the garden
wall. There the lady came to him and bent so that her hair and her
garments overshadowed him, and her eyes held his.

“Lord,” she said, “I am the spirit of Aiko your love. I went with a
broken heart to dwell with the shades of Yomi. The very dead took pity
on my tears. I was permitted to return, and for one short year to
inhabit the sweet body of my sister. And now my time is come. I go my
ways to the grey country. I shall be the happiest soul in Yomi--I have
known you, beloved. Now take me in your arms, for I grow very faint.”

With that she sank to the ground, and Konojo put his arms about her and
laid her head against his heart. His tears fell upon her forehead.

“Promise me,” she said, “that you will take to wife Aiyamé, my sister,
the Lady of the South Wind.”

“Ah,” he cried, “my lady and my love!”

“Promise, promise,” she said.

Then he promised.

After a little she stirred in his arms.

“What is it?” he said.

So soft her voice that it did not break the silence but floated upon it.

“The comb,” she murmured, “the golden comb.”

And Konojo set it in her hair.

       *       *       *       *       *

A burden, pale but breathing, Konojo carried into the house of Hasunuma
and laid upon the white mats and silken cushions. And after three hours
a young maid sat up and rubbed her sleepy eyes. She was brown and quick
and light and laughing. Her hair was tumbled about her rosy cheeks,
unconfined by any braid or comb. She stared first at her father, and
then at the young man that was in her bower. She smiled, then flushed,
and put her little hands before her face.

“Greeting, O Lady of the South Wind,” said Konojo.



Once upon a time the jelly-fish was a very handsome fellow. His form was
beautiful, and round as the full moon. He had glittering scales and fins
and a tail as other fishes have, but he had more than these. He had
little feet as well, so that he could walk upon the land as well as swim
in the sea. He was merry and he was gay, he was beloved and trusted of
the Dragon King. In spite of all this, his grandmother always said he
would come to a bad end, because he would not mind his books at school.
She was right. It all came about in this wise.

The Dragon King was but lately wed when the young Lady Dragon his wife
fell very sick. She took to her bed and stayed there, and wise folk in
Dragonland shook their heads and said her last day was at hand. Doctors
came from far and near, and they dosed her and they bled her, but no
good at all could they do her, the poor young thing, nor recover her of
her sickness.

The Dragon King was beside himself.

“Heart’s Desire,” he said to his pale bride, “I would give my life for

“Little good would it do me,” she answered. “Howbeit, if you will fetch
me a monkey’s liver I will eat it and live.”

“A monkey’s liver!” cried the Dragon King. “A monkey’s liver! You talk
wildly, O light of mine eyes. How shall I find a monkey’s liver? Know
you not, sweet one, that monkeys dwell in the trees of the forest,
whilst we are in the deep sea?”

Tears ran down the Dragon Queen’s lovely countenance.

“If I do not have the monkey’s liver, I shall die,” she said.

Then the Dragon went forth and called to him the jelly-fish.

“The Queen must have a monkey’s liver,” he said, “to cure her of her

“What will she do with the monkey’s liver?” asked the jelly-fish.

“Why, she will eat it,” said the Dragon King.

“Oh!” said the jelly-fish.

“Now,” said the King, “you must go and fetch me a live monkey. I have
heard that they dwell in the tall trees of the forest. Therefore swim
quickly, O jelly-fish, and bring a monkey with you back again.”

“How will I get the monkey to come back with me?” said the jelly-fish.

“Tell him of all the beauties and pleasures of Dragonland. Tell him he
will be happy here and that he may play with mermaids all the day

“Well,” said the jelly-fish, “I’ll tell him that.”

Off set the jelly-fish; and he swam and he swam, till at last he reached
the shore where grew the tall trees of the forest. And, sure enough,
there was a monkey sitting in the branches of a persimmon tree, eating

“The very thing,” said the jelly-fish to himself; “I’m in luck.”

“Noble monkey,” he said, “will you come to Dragonland with me?”

“How should I get there?” said the monkey.

“Only sit on my back,” said the jelly-fish, “and I’ll take you there;
you’ll have no trouble at all.”

“Why should I go there, after all?” said the monkey. “I am very well off
as I am.”

“Ah,” said the jelly-fish, “it’s plain that you know little of all the
beauties and pleasures of Dragonland. There you will be happy as the day
is long. You will win great riches and honour. Besides, you may play
with the mermaids from morn till eve.”

“I’ll come,” said the monkey.

And he slipped down from the persimmon tree and jumped on the
jelly-fish’s back.

When the two of them were about half-way over to Dragonland, the
jelly-fish laughed.

“Now, jelly-fish, why do you laugh?”

“I laugh for joy,” said the jelly-fish. “When you come to Dragonland,
my master, the Dragon King, will get your liver, and give it to my
mistress the Dragon Queen to eat, and then she will recover from her

“My liver?” said the monkey.

“Why, of course,” said the jelly-fish.

“Alas and alack,” cried the monkey, “I’m grieved indeed, but if it’s my
liver you’re wanting I haven’t it with me. To tell you the truth, it
weighs pretty heavy, so I just took it out and hung it upon a branch of
that persimmon tree where you found me. Quick, quick, let’s go back for

Back they went, and the monkey was up in the persimmon tree in a

“Mercy me, I don’t see it at all,” he said. “Where can I have mislaid
it? I should not be surprised if some rascal has stolen it,” he said.

Now if the jelly-fish had minded his books at school, would he have been
hoodwinked by the monkey? You may believe not. But his grandmother
always said he would come to a bad end.

“I shall be some time finding it,” said the monkey. “You’d best be
getting home to Dragonland. The King would be loath for you to be out
after dark. You can call for me another day. _Sayonara._”

The monkey and the jelly-fish parted on the best of terms.

The minute the Dragon King set eyes on the jelly-fish, “Where’s the
monkey?” he said.

“I’m to call for him another day,” said the jelly-fish. And he told all
the tale.

The Dragon King flew into a towering rage. He called his executioners
and bid them beat the jelly-fish.

“Break every bone in his body,” he cried; “beat him to a jelly.”

Alas for the sad fate of the jelly-fish! Jelly he remains to this very

As for the young Dragon Queen, she was fain to laugh when she heard the

“If I can’t have a monkey’s liver I must needs do without it,” she said.
“Give me my best brocade gown and I will get up, for I feel a good deal



Urashima was a fisherman of the Inland Sea.

Every night he plied his trade. He caught fishes both great and small,
being upon the sea through the long hours of darkness. Thus he made his

Upon a certain night the moon shone brightly, making plain the paths of
the sea. And Urashima kneeled in his boat and dabbled his right hand in
the green water. Low he leaned, till his hair lay spread upon the waves,
and he paid no heed to his boat that listed or to his trailing
fishing-net. He drifted in his boat till he came to a haunted place. And
he was neither waking nor sleeping, for the moon made him mad.

Then the Daughter of the Deep Sea arose, and she took the fisherman in
her arms, and sank with him, down, down, to her cold sea cave. She laid
him upon a sandy bed, and long did she look upon him. She cast her sea
spell upon him, and sang her sea songs to him and held his eyes with

He said, “Who are you, lady?”

She told him, “The Daughter of the Deep Sea.”

“Let me go home,” he said; “my little children wait and are tired.”

“Nay, rather stay with me,” she said:

     Thou Fisherman of the Inland Sea,
     Thou art beautiful;
     Thy long hair is twisted round my heart;
     Go not from me,
     Only forget thy home.”

“Ah, now,” said the fisherman, “let be, for the dear gods’ sake.... I
would go to mine own.”

But she said again:

     Thou Fisherman of the Inland Sea,
     I’ll set thy couch with pearl;
     I’ll spread thy couch with seaweed and sea flowers;
     Thou shalt be King of the Deep Sea,
     And we will reign together.”

“Let me go home,” said Urashima; “my little children wait and are

But she said:

     Thou Fisherman of the Inland Sea,
     Never be afraid of the Deep Sea tempest;
     We will roll rocks about our cavern doors;
     Neither be afraid of the drowned dead;
     Thou shalt not die.”

“Ah, now,” said the fisherman, “let be, for the dear gods’ sake.... I
would go to mine own.”

“Stay with me this one night.”

“Nay, not one.”

Then the Daughter of the Deep Sea wept, and Urashima saw her tears.

“I will stay with you this one night,” he said.

So after the night was passed, she brought him up to the sand and the

“Are we near your home?” she said.

He told her, “Within a stone’s throw.”

“Take this,” she said, “in memory of me.” She gave him a casket of
mother-of-pearl; it was rainbow-tinted and its clasps were of coral and
of jade.

“Do not open it,” she said; “O fisherman, do not open it.” And with that
she sank and was no more seen, the Daughter of the Deep Sea.

As for Urashima, he ran beneath the pine trees to come to his dear home.
And as he went he laughed for joy. And he tossed up the casket to catch
the sun.

“Ah, me,” he said, “the sweet scent of the pines!” So he went calling to
his children with a call that he had taught them, like a sea-bird’s
note. Soon he said, “Are they yet asleep? It is strange they do not
answer me.”

Now when he came to his house he found four lonely walls, moss-grown.
Nightshade flourished on the threshold, death lilies by the hearth,
dianthus and lady fern. No living soul was there.

“Now what is this?” cried Urashima. “Have I lost my wits? Have I left
my eyes in the deep sea?”

He sat down upon the grassy floor and thought long. “The dear gods help
me!” he said. “Where is my wife, and where are my little children?”

He went to the village, where he knew the stones in the way, and every
tiled and tilted eave was to him most familiar; and here he found folk
walking to and fro, going upon their business. But they were all strange
to him.

“Good morrow,” they said, “good morrow, wayfarer. Do you tarry in our

He saw children at their play, and often he put his hand beneath their
chins to turn their faces up. Alas! he did it all in vain.

“Where are my little children,” he said, “O Lady Kwannon the Merciful?
Peradventure the gods know the meaning of all this; it is too much for

When sunset came, his heart was heavy as stone, and he went and stood at
the parting of the ways outside the town. As men passed by he pulled
them by the sleeve:

“Friend,” he said, “I ask your pardon, did you know a fisherman of this
place called Urashima?”

And the men that passed by answered him, “We never heard of such an

There passed by the peasant people from the mountains. Some went a-foot,
some rode on patient pack-horses. They went singing their country songs,
and they carried baskets of wild strawberries or sheaves of lilies
bound upon their backs. And the lilies nodded as they went. Pilgrims
passed by, all clad in white, with staves and rice-straw hats, sandals
fast bound and gourds of water. Swiftly they went, softly they went,
thinking of holy things. And lords and ladies passed by, in brave attire
and great array, borne in their gilded _kago_. The night fell.

“I lose sweet hope,” said Urashima.

But there passed by an old, old man.

“Oh, old, old man,” cried the fisherman, “you have seen many days; know
you ought of Urashima? In this place was he born and bred.”

Then the old man said, “There was one of that name, but, sir, that one
was drowned long years ago. My grandfather could scarce remember him in
the time that I was a little boy. Good stranger, it was many, many years

Urashima said, “He is dead?”

“No man more dead than he. His sons are dead and their sons are dead.
Good even to you, stranger.”

Then Urashima was afraid. But he said, “I must go to the green valley
where the dead sleep.” And to the valley he took his way.

He said, “How chill the night wind blows through the grass! The trees
shiver and the leaves turn their pale backs to me.”

He said, “Hail, sad moon, that showest me all the quiet graves. Thou art
nothing different from the moon of old.”

He said, “Here are my sons’ graves and their sons’ graves. Poor
Urashima, there is no man more dead than he. Yet am I lonely among the

“Who will comfort me?” said Urashima.

The night wind sighed and nothing more.

Then he went back to the seashore. “Who will comfort me?” cried
Urashima. But the sky was unmoved, and the mountain waves of the sea
rolled on.

Urashima said, “There is the casket.” And he took it from his sleeve and
opened it. There rose from it a faint white smoke that floated away and
out to the far horizon.

“I grow very weary,” said Urashima. In a moment his hair turned as white
as snow. He trembled, his body shrank, his eyes grew dim. He that had
been so young and lusty swayed and tottered where he stood.

“I am old,” said Urashima.

He made to shut the casket lid, but dropped it, saying, “Nay, the vapour
of smoke is gone for ever. What matters it?”

He laid down his length upon the sand and died.



A pedlar journeyed with his pack upon the great high-road which leads to
the city of Kioto. He found a child sitting all alone by the wayside.

“Well, my little girl,” he said, “and what make you all alone by the

“What do you,” said the child, “with a staff and a pack, and sandals

“I am bound for Kioto, and the Mikado’s Palace, to sell my gauds to the
ladies of the Court.”

“Ah,” said the child, “take me too.”

“What is your name, my little girl?”

“I have no name.”

“Whence come you?”

“I come from nowhere.”

“You seem to be about seven years old.”

“I have no age.”

“Why are you here?”

“I have been waiting for you.”

“How long have you waited?”

“For more than a hundred years.”

The Pedlar laughed.

“Take me to Kioto,” said the child.

“You may come if you will,” said the Pedlar. So they went their ways
together, and in time they came to Kioto and to the Mikado’s Palace.
Here the child danced in the august presence of the Son of Heaven. She
was as light as the sea-bird upon a wave’s crest. When she had made an
end of dancing, the Mikado called her to him.

“Little maid,” he said, “what guerdon shall I give you? Ask!”

“O Divinely Descended,” said the child, “Son of the Gods ... I cannot
ask.... I am afraid.”

“Ask without fear,” said the Mikado.

The child murmured, “Let me stay in the bright presence of your

“So be it,” said the Mikado, and he received the child into his
household. And he called her Tamamo.

Very speedily she became mistress of every lovely art. She could sing,
and she could play upon any instrument of music. She had more skill in
painting than any painter in the land; she was a wonder with the needle
and a wonder at the loom. The poetry that she made moved men to tears
and to laughter. The many thousand characters were child’s play to her,
and all the hard philosophies she had at her fingers’ ends. She knew
Confucius well enough, the Scriptures of Buddha, and the lore of Cathay.
She was called the Exquisite Perfection, the Gold Unalloyed, the Jewel
without Flaw.

And the Mikado loved her.

Soon he clean forgot honour and duty and kingly state. Day and night he
kept Tamamo by his side. He grew rough and fierce and passionate, so
that his servants feared to approach him. He grew sick, listless, and
languid, he pined, and his physicians could do nothing for him.

“Alas and alack,” they cried, “what ails the Divinely Descended? Of a
surety he is bewitched. Woe! woe! for he will die upon our hands.”

“Out upon them, every one,” cried the Mikado, “for a pack of tedious
fools. As for me, I will do my own will and pleasure.”

He was mad for love of Tamamo.

He took her to his Summer Palace, where he prepared a great feast in her
honour. To the feast were bidden all the highest of the land, princes
and lords and ladies of high estate; and, willy-nilly, to the Summer
Palace they all repaired, where was the Mikado, wan and wild, and mad
with love, and Tamamo by his side, attired in scarlet and cloth of gold.
Radiantly fair she was, and she poured the Mikado’s _saké_ out of a
golden flagon.

He looked into her eyes.

“Other women are feeble toys beside you,” he said. “There’s not a woman
here that’s fit to touch the end of your sleeve. O Tamamo, how I love

He spoke loudly so that all could hear him, and laughed bitterly when he
had spoken.

“My lord ... my lord ...” said Tamamo.

Now as the high company sat and feasted, the sky became overcast with
black clouds, and the moon and the stars were hid. Suddenly a fearful
wind tore through the Summer Palace and put out every torch in the great
Hall of Feasting. And the rain came down in torrents. In the pitchy
darkness fear and horror fell upon the assembly. The courtiers ran to
and fro in a panic, the air was full of cries, the tables were
overturned. The dishes and drinking-vessels crashed together, the _saké_
spilled and soaked into the white mats. Then a radiance was made
visible. It came from the place where Tamamo was, and it streamed in
long flames of fire from her body.

The Mikado cried aloud in a terrible voice, “Tamamo! Tamamo! Tamamo!”
three times. And when he had done this he fell in a deathly swoon upon
the ground.

And for many days he was thus, and he seemed either asleep or dead, and
no one could recover him from his swoon.

Then the Wise and Holy Men of the land met together, and when they had
prayed to the gods, they called to them Abé Yasu, the Diviner. They

“O Abé Yasu, learned in dark things, find out for us the cause, and if
it may be, the cure, of our Lord’s strange sickness. Perform divination
for us, O Abé Yasu.”

Then Abé Yasu performed divination, and he came before the Wise Men and

    “The wine is sweet, but the aftertaste is bitter.
     Set not your teeth in the golden persimmon,
     It is rotten at the core.
     Fair is the scarlet flower of the Death Lily,
     Pluck it not.
     What is beauty?
     What is wisdom?
     What is love?
     Be not deceived. They are threads in the fabric of illusion!”

Then the Wise Men said, “Speak out, Abé Yasu, for your saying is dark,
and we cannot understand it.”

“I will do more than speak,” said Abé Yasu. And he spent three days in
fasting and in prayer. Then he took the sacred _Gohei_ from its place in
the Temple, and calling the Wise Men to him he waved the sacred _Gohei_
and with it touched each one of them. And together they went to Tamamo’s
bower, and Abé Yasu took the sacred _Gohei_ in his right hand.

Tamamo was in her bower adorning herself, and her maidens were with her.

“My lords,” she said, “you come all unbidden. What would you have with

“My lady Tamamo,” said Abé Yasu the Diviner, “I have made a song after
the fashion of the Chinese. You who are learned in poetry, I pray you
hear and judge my song.”

“I am in no mood for songs,” she said, “with my dear lord lying sick to

“Nevertheless, my lady Tamamo, this song of mine you needs must hear.”

“Why, then, if I must ...” she said.

Then spoke Abé Yasu:

    “The wine is sweet, the aftertaste is bitter.
     Set not your teeth in the golden persimmon,
     It is rotten at the core.
     Fair is the scarlet flower of the Death Lily,
     Pluck it not.
     What is beauty?
     What is wisdom?
     What is love?
     Be not deceived. They are threads in the fabric of illusion!”

When Abé Yasu the Diviner had spoken, he came to Tamamo and he touched
her with the sacred _Gohei_.

She gave a loud and terrible cry, and on the instant her form was
changed into that of a great fox having nine long tails and hair like
golden wire. The fox fled from Tamamo’s bower, away and away, until it
reached the far plain of Nasu, and it hid itself beneath a great black
stone that was upon that plain.

But the Mikado was immediately recovered from his sickness.

Soon, strange and terrible things were told concerning the great stone
of Nasu. A stream of poisonous water flowed from under it and withered
the bright flowers of the plain. All who drank of the stream died, both
man and beast. Moreover, nothing could go near the stone and live. The
traveller who rested in its shadow arose no more, and the birds that
perched upon it fell dead in a moment. People named it the Death Stone,
and thus it was called for more than a hundred years.

Then it chanced that Genyo, the High Priest, who was a holy man indeed,
took his staff and his begging bowl and went upon a pilgrimage.

When he came to Nasu, the dwellers upon the plain put rice into his

“O thou Holy Man,” they said, “beware the Death Stone of Nasu. Rest not
in its shade.”

But Genyo, the High Priest, having remained a while in thought, made
answer thus:

“Know, my children, what is written in the Book of the Good Law: ‘Herbs,
trees and rocks shall all enter into Nirvana.’”

With that he took his way to the Death Stone. He burnt incense, he
struck the stone with his staff, and he cried, “Come forth, Spirit of
the Death Stone; come forth, I conjure thee.”

Then there was a great flame of fire and a rending noise, and the Stone
burst and split in sunder. From the stone and from the fire there came a

She stood before the Holy Man. She said:

    “I am Tamamo, once called the Proud Perfection;
     I am the golden-haired Fox;
     I know the Sorceries of the East;
     I was worshipped by the Princes of Ind;
     I was great Cathay’s undoing;
     I was wise and beautiful,
     Evil incarnate.
     The power of the Buddha has changed me;
     I have dwelt in grief for a hundred years;
     Tears have washed away my beauty and my sin.
     Shrive me, Genyo, shrive me, Holy Man;
     Let me have peace.”

“Poor Spirit,” said Genyo. “Take my staff and my priestly robe and my
begging bowl and set forth upon the long journey of repentance.”

Tamamo took the priestly robe and put it upon her; in one hand she took
the staff, in the other the bowl. And when she had done this, she
vanished for ever from the sight of earthly men.

“O thou, Tathagatha,” said Genyo, “and thou, Kwannon, Merciful Lady,
make it possible that one day even she may attain Nirvana.”



If you’ll believe me there was a time when the fairies were none so shy
as they are now. That was the time when beasts talked to men, when there
were spells and enchantments and magic every day, when there was great
store of hidden treasure to be dug up, and adventures for the asking.

At that time, you must know, an old man and an old woman lived alone by
themselves. They were good and they were poor and they had no children
at all.

One fine day, “What are you doing this morning, good man?” says the old

“Oh,” says the old man, “I’m off to the mountains with my billhook to
gather a faggot of sticks for our fire. And what are you doing, good

“Oh,” says the old woman, “I’m off to the stream to wash clothes. It’s
my washing day,” she adds.

So the old man went to the mountains and the old woman went to the

Now, while she was washing the clothes, what should she see but a fine
ripe peach that came floating down the stream? The peach was big enough,
and rosy red on both sides.

“I’m in luck this morning,” said the dame, and she pulled the peach to
shore with a split bamboo stick.

By-and-by, when her good man came home from the hills, she set the peach
before him. “Eat, good man,” she said; “this is a lucky peach I found in
the stream and brought home for you.”

But the old man never got a taste of the peach. And why did he not?

All of a sudden the peach burst in two and there was no stone to it, but
a fine boy baby where the stone should have been.

“Mercy me!” says the old woman.

“Mercy me!” says the old man.

The boy baby first ate up one half of the peach and then he ate up the
other half. When he had done this he was finer and stronger than ever.

“Momotaro! Momotaro!” cries the old man; “the eldest son of the peach.”

“Truth it is indeed,” says the old woman; “he was born in a peach.”

Both of them took such good care of Momotaro that soon he was the
stoutest and bravest boy of all that country-side. He was a credit to
them, you may believe. The neighbours nodded their heads and they said,
“Momotaro is the fine young man!”

“Mother,” says Momotaro one day to the old woman, “make me a good store
of _kimi-dango_” (which is the way that they call millet dumplings in
those parts).

“What for do you want _kimi-dango_?” says his mother.

“Why,” says Momotaro, “I’m going on a journey, or as you may say, an
adventure, and I shall be needing the _kimi-dango_ on the way.”

“Where are you going, Momotaro?” says his mother.

“I’m off to the Ogres’ Island,” says Momotaro, “to get their treasure,
and I should be obliged if you’d let me have the _kimi-dango_ as soon as
may be,” he says.

So they made him the _kimi-dango_, and he put them in a wallet, and he
tied the wallet to his girdle and off he set.

“_Sayonara_, and good luck to you, Momotaro!” cried the old man and the
old woman.

“_Sayonara! Sayonara!_” cried Momotaro.

He hadn’t gone far when he fell in with a monkey.

“Kia! Kia!” says the monkey. “Where are you off to, Momotaro?”

Says Momotaro, “I’m off to the Ogres’ Island for an adventure.”

“What have you got in the wallet hanging at your girdle?”

“Now you’re asking me something,” says Momotaro; “sure, I’ve some of the
best millet dumplings in all Japan.”

“Give me one,” says the monkey, “and I will go with you.”

So Momotaro gave a millet dumpling to the monkey, and the two of them
jogged on together. They hadn’t gone far when they fell in with a

“Ken! Ken!” said the pheasant. “Where are you off to, Momotaro?”

Says Momotaro, “I’m off to the Ogres’ Island for an adventure.”

“What have you got in your wallet, Momotaro?”

“I’ve got some of the best millet dumplings in all Japan.”

“Give me one,” says the pheasant, “and I will go with you.”

So Momotaro gave a millet dumpling to the pheasant, and the three of
them jogged on together.

They hadn’t gone far when they fell in with a dog.

“Bow! Wow! Wow!” says the dog. “Where are you off to, Momotaro?”

Says Momotaro, “I’m off to the Ogres’ Island.”

“What have you got in your wallet, Momotaro?”

“I’ve got some of the best millet dumplings in all Japan.”

“Give me one,” says the dog, “and I will go with you.”

So Momotaro gave a millet dumpling to the dog, and the four of them
jogged on together. By-and-by they came to the Ogres’ Island.

“Now, brothers,” says Momotaro, “listen to my plan. The pheasant must
fly over the castle gate and peck the Ogres. The monkey must climb over
the castle wall and pinch the Ogres. The dog and I will break the bolts
and bars. He will bite the Ogres, and I will fight the Ogres.”

Then there was the great battle.

The pheasant flew over the castle gate: “Ken! Ken! Ken!”

Momotaro broke the bolts and bars, and the dog leapt into the castle
courtyard. “Bow! Wow! Wow!”

The brave companions fought till sundown and overcame the Ogres. Those
that were left alive they took prisoners and bound with cords--a wicked
lot they were.

“Now, brothers,” says Momotaro, “bring out the Ogres’ treasure.”

So they did.

The treasure was worth having, indeed. There were magic jewels there,
and caps and coats to make you invisible. There was gold and silver, and
jade and coral, and amber and tortoise-shell and mother-of-pearl.

“Here’s riches for all,” says Momotaro. “Choose, brothers, and take your

“Kia! Kia!” says the monkey. “Thanks, my Lord Momotaro.”

“Ken! Ken!” says the pheasant. “Thanks, my Lord Momotaro.”

“Bow! Wow! Wow!” says the dog. “Thanks, my dear Lord Momotaro.”



[Illustration: The Matsuyama Mirror.--_P. 228._]

A long, long time ago there lived in a quiet spot a young man and his
wife. They had one child, a little daughter, whom they both loved with
all their hearts. I cannot tell you their names, for they have long
since been forgotten; but the name of the place where they lived was
Matsuyama, in the Province of Echigo.

It happened once, while the little girl was still a baby, that the
father was obliged to go to the great city, the capital of Japan, upon
some business. It was too far for the mother and her little baby to go,
so he set out alone, after bidding them goodbye and promising to bring
them home some pretty present.

The mother had never been farther from home than the next village, and
she could not help being a little frightened at the thought of her
husband taking such a long journey; and yet she was a little proud too,
for he was the first man in all that country-side who had been to the
big town where the king and his great lords lived, and where there
were so many beautiful and curious things to be seen.

At last the time came when she might expect her husband back, so she
dressed the baby in its best clothes, and herself put on a pretty blue
dress which she knew her husband liked.

You may fancy how glad this good wife was to see him come home safe and
sound, and how the little girl clapped her hands, and laughed with
delight when she saw the pretty toys her father had brought for her. He
had much to tell of all the wonderful things he had seen upon the
journey, and in the town itself.

“I have brought you a very pretty thing,” said he to his wife; “it is
called a mirror. Look and tell me what you see inside.” He gave to her a
plain white wooden box, in which, when she had opened it, she found a
round piece of metal. One side was white, like frosted silver, and
ornamented with raised figures of birds and flowers; the other was
bright as the clearest crystal. Into it the young mother looked with
delight and astonishment, for, from its depths was looking at her with
parted lips and bright eyes, a smiling happy face.

“What do you see?” again asked the husband, pleased at her astonishment
and glad to show that he had learned something while he had been away.

“I see a pretty woman looking at me, and she moves her lips as if she
was speaking, and--dear me, how odd, she has on a blue dress just like

“Why, you silly woman, it is your own face that you see!” said the
husband, proud of knowing something that his wife didn’t know. “That
round piece of metal is called a mirror. In the town everybody has one,
although we have not seen them in this country-place before.”

The wife was charmed with her present, and for a few days could not look
into the mirror often enough; for you must remember that as this was the
first time she had seen a mirror, so, of course, it was the first time
she had ever seen the reflection of her own pretty face. But she
considered such a wonderful thing far too precious for everyday use, and
soon shut it up in its box again and put it away carefully among her
most valued treasures.

Years passed on, and the husband and wife still lived happily. The joy
of their life was their little daughter, who grew up the very image of
her mother, and who was so dutiful and affectionate that everybody loved
her. Mindful of her own little passing vanity on finding herself so
lovely, the mother kept the mirror carefully hidden away, fearing that
the use of it might breed a spirit of pride in her little girl.

She never spoke of it, and as for the father he had forgotten all about
it. So it happened that the daughter grew up as simple as the mother had
been, and knew nothing of her own good looks, or of the mirror which
would have reflected them.

But by-and-by a terrible misfortune happened to this happy little
family. The good, kind mother fell sick; and, although her daughter
waited upon her, day and night, with loving care, she got worse and
worse, until at last there was no doubt but that she must die.

When she found that she must so soon leave her husband and child, the
poor woman felt very sorrowful, grieving for those she was going to
leave behind, and most of all for her little daughter.

She called the girl to her and said, “My darling child, you know that I
am very sick; soon I must die and leave your dear father and you alone.
When I am gone, promise me that you will look into this mirror every
night and every morning; there you will see me, and know that I am still
watching over you.” With these words she took the mirror from its
hiding-place and gave it to her daughter. The child promised, with many
tears, and so the mother, seeming now calm and resigned, died a short
time after.

Now this obedient and dutiful daughter never forgot her mother’s last
request, but each morning and evening took the mirror from its
hiding-place, and looked in it long and earnestly. There she saw the
bright and smiling vision of her lost mother. Not pale and sickly as in
her last days, but the beautiful young mother of long ago. To her at
night she told the story of the trials and difficulties of the day; to
her in the morning she looked for sympathy and encouragement in whatever
might be in store for her.

So day by day she lived as in her mother’s sight, striving still to
please her as she had done in her lifetime, and careful always to avoid
whatever might pain or grieve her.

Her greatest joy was to be able to look in the mirror and say, “Mother,
I have been to-day what you would have me to be.”

Seeing her look into the mirror every night and morning without fail,
and seem to hold converse with it, her father at length asked her the
reason of her strange behaviour. “Father,” she said, “I look in the
mirror every day to see my dear mother and to talk with her.” Then she
told him of her mother’s dying wish, and how she had never failed to
fulfil it. Touched by so much simplicity, and such faithful, loving
obedience, the father shed tears of pity and affection. Nor could he
find it in his heart to tell the child that the image she saw in the
mirror was but the reflection of her own sweet face, becoming by
constant sympathy and association more and more like her dead mother’s
day by day.



Once there lived two brothers who were princes in the land.

The elder brother was a hunter. He loved the deep woods and the chase.
He went from dawn to dark with his bow and his arrows. Swiftly he could
run; he was strong and bright-eyed. The younger brother was a dreamer;
his eyes were gentle. From dawn to dark he would sit with his book or
with his thoughts. Sweetly could he sing of love, or of war, or of the
green fields, and tell stories of the fairies and of the time of the

Upon a fair day of summer the hunter betook himself very early to the
woods, as was his wont. But the dreamer took his book in his hand, and,
musing, he wandered by the stream’s side, where grew the yellow mimulus.

“It is the fairies’ money,” he said; “it will buy all the joys of
fairyland!” So he went on his way, smiling.

And when he had continued for some time, he came to a holy shrine. And
there led to the shrine a hundred steps, moss-grown and grey. Beside
the steps were guardian lions, carved in stone. Behind the shrine was
Fugi, the Mystic Mountain, white and beautiful, and all the lesser hills
rose softly up like prayers.

“O peerless Fugi,” said the dreamer, “O passionless wonder mountain! To
see thee is to hear sweet music without sound, the blessed harmony of

Then he climbed the steps, moss-grown and grey. And the lions that were
carved in stone rose up and followed him, and they came with him to the
inner gates of the shrine and stayed there.

In the shrine there was a hush of noonday. The smoke of incense curled
and hung upon the air. Dimly shone the gold and the bronze, the lights
and the mystic mirrors.

There was a sound of singing in the shrine, and turning, the dreamer saw
a man who stood at his right hand. The man was taller than any child of
earth. Moreover, his face shone with the glory of a youth that cannot
pass away. He held a year-old child upon his arm and hushed it to sleep,
singing a strange melody. When the babe fell asleep he was well pleased,
and smiled.

“What babe is that?” said the dreamer.

“O dreamer, it is no babe, but a spirit.”

“Then, my lord, what are you?” said the dreamer.

“I am Jizo, who guards the souls of little children. It is most pitiful
to hear their crying when they come to the sandy river-bed, the
_Sai-no-kawara_. O dreamer, they come alone, as needs they must, wailing
and wandering, stretching out their pretty hands. They have a task,
which is to pile stones for a tower of prayer. But in the night come the
_Oni_ to throw down the towers and to scatter all the stones. So the
children are made afraid, and their labour is lost.”

“What then, my lord Jizo?” said the dreamer.

“Why, then I come, for the Great One gives me leave. And I call ‘Come
hither, wandering souls.’ And they fly to me that I may hide them in my
long sleeves. I carry them in my arms and on my breast, where they lie
light and cold,--as light and cold as the morning mist upon the

When he had spoken, the year-old child stirred and murmured: so he
rocked it, and wandered to and fro in the quiet temple court and hushed
it as he went.

So the swift moments flew and the noontide passed away.

Presently there came to the shrine a lady most gentle and beautiful.
Grey was her robe, and she had silver sandals on her feet. She said, “I
am called The Merciful. For mankind’s dear sake, I have refused eternal
peace. The Great One has given to me a thousand loving arms, arms of
mercy. And my hands are full of gifts. O dreamer, when you dream your
dreams you shall see me in my lotus boat when I sail upon the mystic

“Lady, Lady Kwannon ...” said the dreamer.

Then came one clothed in blue, speaking with a sweet, deep, well-known

“I am Benten, the Goddess of the Sea and the Goddess of Song. My dragons
are about me and beneath my feet. See their green scales and their opal
eyes. Greeting, O dreamer!”

After her there came a band of blooming boys, laughing and holding out
their rosy arms. “We are the Sons of the Sea Goddess,” they said. “Come,
dreamer, come to our cool caves.”

The God of Roads came, and his three messengers with him. Three apes
were the three messengers. The first ape covered his eyes with his
hands, for he could see no evil thing. The second ape covered his ears
with his hands, for he could hear no evil thing. The third ape covered
his mouth with his hands, for he could speak no evil thing. Then came
She, the fearful woman who takes the clothes of the dead who are not
able to pay their toll, so that they must stand shivering at the
entrance of the mysterious Three Ways. They are unfortunate indeed.

And many and many a vision the dreamer saw in that enchanted shrine.

And dark night fell, with storm and tempest and the sound of rain upon
the roof. Yet the dreamer never stirred. Suddenly there was a sound of
hurrying feet without. A voice called loud, “My brother, my brother, my
brother!...” In sprang the hunter through the golden temple doors.

“Where are you?” he cried, “my brother, my brother!” He had his swinging
lantern in his hand and held it high, as he flung his long blown hair
back over his shoulder. His face was bright with the rain upon it, his
eyes were as keen as an eagle’s.

“O brother ...” said the dreamer, and ran to meet him.

“Now the dear gods be thanked that I have you safe and sound,” said the
hunter. “Half the night I have sought you, wandering in the forest and
by the stream’s side. I was all to blame for leaving you ... my little
brother.” With that, he took his brother’s face between his two warm

But the dreamer sighed, “I have been with the gods all night,” he said,
“and I think I see them still. The place is holy.”

Then the hunter flashed his light upon the temple walls, upon the
gilding and the bronze.

“I see no gods,” he said.

“What see you, brother?”

“I see a row of stones, broken images, grey, with moss-grown feet.”

“They are grey because they are sad, they are sad because they are
forgotten,” said the dreamer.

But the hunter took him by the hand and led him into the night.

The dreamer said, “O brother, how sweet is the scent of the bean fields
after the rain.”

“Now bind your sandals on,” said the hunter, “and I’ll run you a race to
our home.”



Once upon a time there was an old man who lived all alone. And there was
an old woman who lived all alone. The old man was merry and kind and
gentle, with a good word and a smile for all the world. The old woman
was sour and sad, as cross a patch as could be found in all the
country-side. She grumbled and growled for ever, and would not so much
as pass the time of day with respectable folk.

The old man had a pet sparrow that he kept as the apple of his eye. The
sparrow could talk and sing and dance and do all manner of tricks, and
was very good company. So the old man found when he came home from his
work at night. There would be the sparrow twittering on the doorstep,
and “Welcome home, master,” he would say, his head on one side, as pert
and pretty as you please.

One day the old man went off to cut wood in the mountains. The old
woman, she stayed at home for it was her washing day. She made some
good starch in a bowl and she put it outside her door to cool.

“It will be all ready when I want it,” she said to herself. But that’s
just where she made a mistake. The little sparrow flew over the bamboo
fence and lighted on the edge of the starch bowl. And he pecked at the
starch with his little beak. He pecked and he pecked till all the starch
was gone, and a good meal he made, to be sure.

Then out came the old woman for the starch to starch her clothes.

You may believe she was angry. She caught the little sparrow roughly in
her hand, and, alas and alack! she took a sharp, sharp scissors and cut
his little tongue. Then she let him go.

Away and away flew the little sparrow, over hill and over dale.

“And a good riddance, too!” said the cruel old woman.

When the old man came home from the mountains he found his pet sparrow
gone. And before long he knew all the tale. He lost no time, the good
old man; he set out at once on foot, calling “Sparrow, sparrow, where
are you, my tongue-cut sparrow?”

Over hill and over dale he went, calling “Sparrow, sparrow, where are
you, my tongue-cut sparrow?”

At last and at length he came to the sparrow’s house, and the sparrow
flew out to greet his master. Then there was a twittering, to be sure.
The sparrow called his brothers and sisters and his children and his
wife and his mother-in-law and his mother and his grandmother. And they
all flew out to do the old man honour. They brought him into the house
and they set him down upon mats of silk. Then they spread a great feast;
red rice and _daikon_ and fish, and who knows what all besides, and the
very best _saké_ to drink. The sparrow waited upon the good old man, and
his brothers and sisters and his children and his wife and his
mother-in-law and his mother and his grandmother with him.

After supper the sparrow danced, whilst his grandmother played the
_samisen_ and the good old man beat time.

It was a merry evening.

At last, “All good things come to an end,” says the old man; “I fear
’tis late and high time I was getting home.”

“Not without a little present,” says the sparrow.

“Ah, sparrow dear,” says the old man, “I’d sooner have yourself than any

But the sparrow shook his head.

Presently they brought in two wicker baskets.

“One of them is heavy,” says the sparrow, “and the other is light. Say,
master, will you take the heavy basket or the light?”

“I’m not so young as I once was,” says the good old man. “Thanking you
kindly, I’d sooner have the light basket; it will suit me better to
carry--that is, if it’s the same to you,” he says.

So he went home with the light basket. When he opened it, wonderful to
tell, it was full of gold and silver and tortoise-shell and coral and
jade and fine rolls of silk. So the good old man was rich for life.

Now, when the bad old woman heard tell of all this, she tied on her
sandals and kilted her skirts and took a stout stick in her hand. Over
hill and over dale she went, and took the straight road to the sparrow’s
house. There was the sparrow, and there were his brothers and sisters
and children and his wife and his mother and his mother-in-law and his
grandmother. They were not too pleased to see the bad old woman, but
they couldn’t do less than ask her in as she’d come so far. They gave
her red rice and white rice and _daikon_ and fish, and who knows what
besides, and she gobbled it up in a twinkling, and drank a good cup of
_saké_. Then up she got. “I can’t waste any more time here,” she says,
“so you’d best bring out your presents.”

They brought in two wicker baskets.

“One of them is heavy,” says the sparrow, “and the other is light. Say,
mistress, will you take the heavy basket or the light?”

“I’ll take the heavy one,” says the old woman, quick as a thought. So
she heaved it up on her back and off she set. Sure enough it was as
heavy as lead.

When she was gone, Lord! how the sparrows did laugh!

No sooner did she reach home than she undid the cords of the basket.

“Now for the gold and silver,” she said, and smiled--though she hadn’t
smiled for a twelve-month. And she lifted up the lid.

“_Ai! Ai! Kowai! Obaké da! Obaké!_” she screeched.

The basket was full of ugly imps and elves and pixies and demons and
devils. Out they came to tease the old woman, to pull her and to poke
her, to push her and to pinch her. She had the fine fright of her life,
I warrant you.



[Illustration: The Nurse.--_P. 243._]

Idé the _samurai_ was wedded to a fair wife and had an only child, a boy
called Fugiwaka. Idé was a mighty man of war, and as often as not he was
away from home upon the business of his liege lord. So the child
Fugiwaka was reared by his mother and by the faithful woman, his nurse.
Matsu was her name, which is, in the speech of the country, the Pine
Tree. And even as the pine tree, strong and evergreen, was she,
unchanging and enduring.

In the house of Idé there was a very precious sword. Aforetime a hero of
Idé’s clan slew eight-and-forty of his enemies with this sword in one
battle. The sword was Idé’s most sacred treasure. He kept it laid away
in a safe place with his household gods.

Morning and evening the child Fugiwaka came to make salutations before
the household gods, and to reverence the glorious memory of his
ancestors. And Matsu, the nurse, knelt by his side.

Morning and evening, “Show me the sword, O Matsu, my nurse,” said

And O Matsu made answer, “Of a surety, my lord, I will show it to you.”

Then she brought the sword from its place, wrapped in a covering of red
and gold brocade. And she drew off the covering and she took the sword
from its golden sheath and displayed the bright steel to Fugiwaka. And
the child made obeisance till his forehead touched the mats.

At bedtime O Matsu sang songs and lullabies. She sang this song:

    “Sleep, my little child, sweetly sleep--
         Would you know the secret,
     The secret of the hare o Nennin Yama?
     Sleep, my little child, sweetly sleep--
         You shall know the secret.
     Oh, the august hare of Nennin Yama,
     How augustly long are his ears!
     Why should this be, oh, best beloved?
         You shall know the secret.
     His mother ate the bamboo seed.
         Hush! Hush!
     His mother ate the loquat seed.
         Hush! Hush!
     Sleep, my little child, sweetly sleep--
         Now you know the secret.”

Then O Matsu said, “Will you sleep now, my lord Fugiwaka?”

And the child answered, “I will sleep now, O Matsu.”

“Listen, my lord,” she said, “and, sleeping or waking, remember. The
sword is your treasure. The sword is your trust. The sword is your
fortune. Cherish it, guard it, keep it.”

“Sleeping or waking, I will remember,” said Fugiwaka.

Now in an evil day the mother of Fugiwaka fell sick and died. And there
was mourning in the house of Idé. Howbeit, when years were past, the
_samurai_ took another bride, and he had a son by her and called him
Goro. And after this Idé himself was slain in an ambush, and his
retainers brought his body home and laid him with his fathers.

Fugiwaka was chief of the House of Idé. But the Lady Sadako, his
stepmother, was ill-pleased. Black mischief stirred in her heart; she
bent her brows and she brooded as she went her ways, bearing her babe in
her arms. At night she tossed upon her bed.

“My child is a beggar,” she said. “Fugiwaka is chief of the House of
Idé. Evil fortune betide him! It is too much,” said the proud lady. “I
will not brook it; my child a beggar! I would rather strangle him with
my hands....” Thus she spoke and tossed upon her bed, thinking of a

When Fugiwaka was fifteen years old she turned him out of the house with
a poor garment upon his back, barefooted, with never a bite nor a sup
nor a gold piece to see him on his way.

“Ah, lady mother,” he said, “you use me ill. Why do you take my

“I know nought of birthrights,” she said. “Go, make your own fortune if
you can. Your brother Goro is chief of the House of Idé.”

With that she bade them shut the door in his face.

Fugiwaka departed sorrowfully, and at the cross-roads O Matsu, his
nurse, met him. She had made herself ready for a journey: her robe was
kilted, she had a staff in her hand and sandals on her feet.

“My lord,” she said, “I am come to follow you to the world’s end.”

Then Fugiwaka wept and laid his head upon the woman’s breast.

“Ah,” he said, “my nurse, my nurse! And,” he said, “what of my father’s
sword? I have lost the precious sword of Idé. The sword is my treasure,
the sword is my trust, the sword is my fortune. I am bound to cherish
it, to guard it, to keep it. But now I have lost it. Woe is me! I am
undone, and so is all the House of Idé!”

“Oh, say not so, my lord,” said O Matsu. “Here is gold; go you your way
and I will return and guard the sword of Idé.”

So Fugiwaka went his way with the gold that his nurse gave him.

As for O Matsu, she went straightway and took the sword from its place
where it lay with the household gods, and she buried it deep in the
ground until such time as she might bear it in safety to her young

But soon the Lady Sadako became aware that the sacred sword was gone.

“It is the nurse!” she cried. “The nurse has stolen it.... Some of you
bring her to me.”

Then the Lady Sadako’s people laid their hands roughly upon O Matsu and
brought her before their mistress. But for all they could do O Matsu’s
lips were sealed. She spoke never a word, neither could the Lady Sadako
find out where the sword was. She pressed her thin lips together.

“The woman is obstinate,” she said. “No matter; for such a fault I know
the sovereign cure.”

So she locked O Matsu in a dark dungeon and gave her neither food nor
drink. Every day the Lady Sadako went to the door of the dark dungeon.

“Well,” she said, “where is the sword of Idé? Will you say?”

But O Matsu answered not a word.

Howbeit she wept and sighed to herself in the darkness--“Alas! Alas!
never alive may I come to my young lord. Yet he must have the sword of
Idé, and I shall find a way.”

Now after seven days the Lady Sadako sat in the garden-house to cool
herself, for it was summer. The time was evening. Presently she saw a
woman that came towards her through the garden flowers and trees. Frail
and slender was the woman; as she came her body swayed and her slow
steps faltered.

“Why, this is strange!” said the Lady Sadako. “Here is O Matsu, that was
locked in the dark dungeon.” And she sat still, watching.

But O Matsu went to the place where she had buried the sword and
scratched at the ground with her fingers. There she was, weeping and
moaning and dragging at the earth. The stones cut her hands and they
bled. Still she tore away the earth and found the sword at last. It was
in its wrapping of gold and scarlet, and she clasped it to her bosom
with a loud cry.

“Woman, I have you now,” shrieked the Lady Sadako, “and the sword of Idé
as well!” And she leaped from the garden-house and ran at full speed.
She stretched forth her hand to catch O Matsu by the sleeve, but did not
have her or the sword either, for both of them were gone in a flash, and
the lady beat the empty air. Swiftly she sped to the dark dungeon, and
as she went she called her people to bring torches. There lay the body
of poor O Matsu, cold and dead upon the dungeon floor.

“Send me the Wise Woman,” said the Lady Sadako.

So they sent for the Wise Woman. And the Lady Sadako asked, “How long
has she been dead?”

The Wise Woman said, “She was starved to death; she has been dead two
days. It were well you gave her fit burial; she was a good soul.”

As for the sword of Idé, it was not found.

Fugiwaka tossed to and fro upon his lowly bed in a wayside tavern. And
it seemed to him that his nurse came to him and knelt by his side. Then
he was soothed.

O Matsu said, “Will you sleep now, my lord Fugiwaka?”

And he answered, “I will sleep now, O Matsu.”

“Listen, my lord,” she said, “and, sleeping or waking, remember. The
sword is your treasure. The sword is your trust. The sword is your
fortune. Cherish it, guard it, keep it.”

The sword was in its wrapping of gold and scarlet, and she laid it by
Fugiwaka’s side. The boy turned over to sleep, and his hand clasped the
sword of Idé.

“Waking or sleeping,” he said, “I will remember.”



[Illustration: The Beautiful Dancer of Yedo.--_P. 250._]

This is the tale of Sakura-ko, Flower of the Cherry, who was the
beautiful dancer of Yedo. She was a _geisha_, born a _samurai’s_
daughter, that sold herself into bondage after her father died, so that
her mother might have food to eat. Ah, the pity of it! The money that
bought her was called _Namida no Kané_, that is “the money of tears.”

She dwelt in the narrow street of the _geisha_, where the red and white
lanterns swing and the plum trees flourish by the low eves. The street
of the _geisha_ is full of music, for they play the _samisen_ there all
day long.

Sakura-ko played it too; indeed she was skilful in every lovely art. She
played the _samisen_, the _kotto_, the _biwa_, and the small hand-drum.
She could make songs and sing them. Her eyes were long, her hair was
black, her hands were white. Her beauty was wonderful, and wonderful her
power to please. From dawn to dusk, and from dusk to dawn she could go
smiling and hide her heart. In the cool of the day she would stand
upon the gallery of her mistress’s house, and muse as she stood and
looked down into the street of the _geisha_. And the folk that passed
that way said to one another, “See, yonder stands Sakura-ko, Flower of
the Cherry, the beautiful dancer of Yedo, the _geisha_ without peer.”

But Sakura-ko looked down and mused and said, “Little narrow street of
the _geisha_, paved with bitterness and broken hearts, your houses are
full of vain hopes and vain regrets; youth and love and grief dwell
here. The flowers in your gardens are watered with tears.”

The gentlemen of Yedo must needs have their pleasure, so Sakura-ko
served at feasts every night. They whitened her cheeks and her forehead,
and gilded her lips with _beni_. She wore silk attires, gold and purple
and grey and green and black, _obi_ of brocade magnificently tied. Her
hair was pinned with coral and jade, fastened with combs of gold lacquer
and tortoise-shell. She poured _saké_, she made merry with the good
company. More than this, she danced.

Three poets sang of her dancing. One said, “She is lighter than the
rainbow-tinted dragonfly.”

And another said, “She moves like the mist of the morning when the
bright sun shines.”

And the third said, “She is like the shadow in the river of the waving

But it is time to tell of her three lovers.

The first lover was neither old nor young. He was passing rich, and a
great man in Yedo. He sent his servant to the street of the _geisha_
with money in his girdle. Sakura-ko shut the door in his face.

“You are wrong, fellow,” she said, “you have lost your way. You should
have gone to the street of the toy-shops and bought your master a doll;
let him know there are no dolls here.”

After this the master came himself. “Come to me, O Flower of the
Cherry,” he said, “for I must have you.”

“_Must?_” she said, and looked down with her long eyes.

“Aye,” he said, “must is the word, O Flower of the Cherry.”

“What will you give me?” she said.

“Fine attires, silk and brocade, a house, white mats and cool galleries;
servants to wait on you, gold hairpins--what you will.”

“What do I give you?” she said.

“Yourself, just that, O Flower of the Cherry.”

“Body and soul?” she said.

And he answered her, “Body and soul.”

“Now, fare you well,” she said, “I have a fancy to remain a _geisha_. It
is a merry life,” she said, and she laughed.

So that was the end of the first lover.

The second lover was old. To be old and wise is very well, but he was
old and foolish. “Sakura-ko,” he cried, “ah, cruel one, I am mad for
love of you!”

“My lord,” she said, “I can easily believe it.”

He said, “I am not so very old.”

“By the divine compassion of the gods,” she told him, “you may yet have
time to prepare for your end. Go home and read the good law.” But the
old lover would hear nothing of her counsel. Instead, he bade her to his
house by night to a great feast which he had prepared for her. And when
they had made an end of the feast she danced before him wearing scarlet
_hakama_ and a robe of gold brocade. After the dancing he made her sit
beside him and he called for wine, that they might drink together. And
the _geisha_ who poured the _saké_ was called Silver Wave.

When they had drunk together, Sakura-ko and her old lover, he drew her
to him and cried:

“Come, my love, my bride, you are mine for the time of many existences;
there was poison in the cup. Be not afraid, for we shall die together.
Come with me to the Meido.”

But Sakura-ko said, “My sister, the Silver Wave, and I are not children,
neither are we old and foolish to be deceived. I drank no _saké_ and no
poison. My sister, the Silver Wave, poured fresh tea in my cup. Howbeit
I am sorry for you, and so I will stay with you till you die.”

He died in her arms and was fain to take his way alone to the Meido.

“Alas! alas!” cried the Flower of the Cherry. But her sister, Silver
Wave, gave her counsel thus: “Keep your tears, you will yet have cause
for weeping. Waste not grief for such as he.”

And that was the end of the second lover.

The third lover was young and brave and gay. Impetuous he was, and
beautiful. He first set eyes on the Flower of the Cherry at a festival
in his father’s house. Afterwards he went to seek her out in the street
of the _geisha_. He found her as she leaned against the gallery railing
of her mistress’s house.

She looked down into the street of the _geisha_ and sang this song:

    “My mother bade me spin fine thread
     Out of the yellow sea sand--
     A hard task, a hard task.
     May the dear gods speed me!
     My father gave me a basket of reeds;
     He said, ‘Draw water from the spring
     And carry it a mile’--
     A hard task, a hard task.
     May the dear gods speed me!
     My heart would remember,
     My heart must forget;
     Forget, my heart, forget--
     A hard task, a hard task.
     May the dear gods speed me!”

When she had made an end of singing, the lover saw that her eyes were
full of tears.

“Do you remember me,” he said, “O Flower of the Cherry? I saw you last
night at my father’s house.”

“Aye, my young lord,” she answered him, “I remember you very well.”

He said, “I am not so very young. And I love you, O Flower of the
Cherry. Be gentle, hear me, be free, be my dear wife.”

At this she flushed neck and chin, cheeks and forehead.

“My dear,” said the young man, “now you are Flower of the Cherry

“Child,” she said, “go home and think of me no more. I am too old for
such as you.”

“Old!” he said; “why, there lies not a year between us!”

“No, not a year--no year, but an eternity,” said Flower of the Cherry.
“Think no more of me,” she said; but the lover thought of nothing else.
His young blood was on fire. He could not eat, nor drink, nor sleep. He
pined and grew pale, he wandered day and night, his heart heavy with
longing. He lived in torment; weak he grew, and weaker. One night he
fell fainting at the entrance of the street of the _geisha_. Sakura-ko
came home at dawn from a festival in a great house. There she found him.
She said no word, but she bore him to his house outside Yedo, and stayed
with him there full three moons. And after that time he was nursed back
to ruddy health. Swiftly, swiftly, the glad days sped by for both of

“This is the happy time of all my life. I thank the dear gods,” said
Flower of the Cherry one evening.

“My dear,” the young man bade her, “fetch hither your _samisen_ and let
me hear you sing.”

So she did. She said, “I shall sing you a song you have heard already.”

    “My mother bade me spin fine thread
     Out of the yellow sea sand--
     A hard task, a hard task.
     May the dear gods speed me!
     My father gave me a basket of reeds;
     He said, ‘Draw water from the spring
     And carry it a mile’--
     A hard task, a hard task.
     May the dear gods speed me!
     My heart would remember,
     My heart must forget;
     Forget, my heart, forget--
     A hard task, a hard task.
     May the dear gods speed me!”

“Sweet,” he said, “what does this song mean, and why do you sing it?”

She answered, “My lord, it means that I must leave you, and therefore do
I sing it. I must forget you; you must forget me. That is my desire.”

He said, “I will never forget you, not in a thousand existences.”

She smiled, “Pray the gods you may wed a sweet wife and have children.”

He cried, “No wife but you, and no children but yours, O Flower of the

“The gods forbid, my dear, my dear. All the world lies between us.”

The next day she was gone. High and low the lover wandered, weeping and
lamenting and seeking her both near and far. It was all in vain, for he
found her not. The city of Yedo knew her no more--Sakura-ko, the
beautiful dancer.

And her lover mourned many many days. Howbeit at last he was comforted,
and they found for him a very sweet fair lady whom he took to wife
willingly enough, and soon she bore him a son. And he was glad, for time
dries all tears.

Now when the boy was five years old he sat in the gate of his father’s
house. And it chanced that a wandering nun came that way begging for
alms. The servants of the house brought rice and would have put it into
her begging bowl, but the child said, “Let me give.”

So he did as he would.

As he filled the begging bowl and patted down the rice with a wooden
spoon and laughed, the nun caught him by the sleeve and held him and
looked into his eyes.

“Holy nun, why do you look at me so?” cried the child.

She said, “Because I once had a little boy like you, and I went away and
left him.”

“Poor little boy!” said the child.

“It was better for him, my dear, my dear--far, far better.”

And when she had said this, she went her way.



In the early days there lived a good old couple. All their lives long
they had been honest and hard-working, but they had always been poor.
Now in their old age it was all they could do to make both ends meet,
the poor old creatures.

But they did not complain, not a bit of it. They were merry as the day
is long. If they ever went to bed cold or hungry they said nothing about
it, and if they had bite or sup in the house you may be sure they shared
it with their dog, for they were very fond of him. He was faithful,
good, and clever. One evening the old man and the old woman went out to
do a bit of digging in their garden, and the dog went with them.

While they were working the dog was sniffing the ground, and presently
he began to scratch up the earth with his paws.

“What can the dog be about now?” says the old woman.

“Oh, just nothing at all,” says the old man; “he’s playing.”

“It’s more than playing,” says the old woman. “It’s my belief he’s found
something worth having.”

So off she went to see what the dog would be at, and the old man
followed her and leaned on his spade. Sure enough the dog had dug a
pretty big hole by this time, and he went on scratching with his paws
for dear life and barking short and sharp. The old man helped with his
spade, and before long they came on a big box of hidden treasure, silver
and gold and jewels and rich stuffs.

It is easy to believe that the good old couple were glad. They patted
their clever dog, and he jumped up and licked their faces. After this
they carried the treasure into the house. The dog ran to and fro and

Now, next door to the good old couple lived another old couple, not so
good as they, but envious and discontented. When the dog found the
hidden treasure they looked through a hole in the bamboo hedge and saw
the whole affair. Do you think they were pleased? Why, not a bit of it.
They were so angry and envious that they could get no pleasure by day
nor rest at night.

At last the bad old man came to the good old man.

“I’ve come to ask for the loan of your dog,” he says.

“With all my heart,” says the good old man; “take him and welcome.”

So the bad old man took the dog and brought him to their best room. And
the bad old man and his wife put a supper, of all manner of fine things
to eat, before the dog, and bade him fall to.

“Honourable Dog,” they said, “you are good and wise, eat and afterwards
find us treasure.”

But the dog would not eat.

“All the more left for us,” said the greedy old couple, and they ate up
the dog’s supper in a twinkling. Then they tied a string round his neck
and dragged him into the garden to find treasure. But never a morsel of
treasure did he find, nor a glint of gold, nor a shred of rich stuff.

“The devil’s in the beast,” cries the bad old man, and he beat the dog
with a big stick. Then the dog began to scratch up the earth with his

“Oho! Oho!” says the bad old man to his wife, “now for the treasure.”

But was it treasure that the dog dug up? Not a bit of it. It was a heap
of loathly rubbish, too bad to tell of. But they say it smelt most
vilely and the bad old couple were fain to run away, hiding their noses
with their sleeves.

“Arah, arah!” they cried, “the dog has deceived us.” And that very night
they killed the poor dog and buried him at the foot of a tall pine tree.

Alack for the good old man and the good old woman when they heard the
dog was gone! It was they that wept the bitter tears. They pulled
flowers and strewed them on the poor dog’s grave. They burned incense
and they spread out good things to eat, and the vapour that rose from
them comforted the poor dog’s spirit.

Then the good old man cut down the pine tree, and made a mortar of its
wood. He put rice in the mortar and pounded the rice with a pestle.

“Wonder of wonders,” cried the old woman, who was looking on, “wonder of
wonders, good man, our rice is all turned into broad gold pieces!”

So it was sure enough.

Presently, in comes the bad old man to ask for the loan of the mortar.

“For I’m needing a mortar something very special,” says he.

“Take it,” says the good old man; “I’m sure you’re welcome.”

So the bad old man took away the mortar under his arm, and when he had
got it home he filled it with rice in a twinkling. And he pounded away
at it for dear life’s sake.

“Do you see any gold coming?” he says to his wife, who was looking on.

“Never a bit,” she says, “but the rice looks queer.”

Queer enough it was, mildewed and rotten, no use to man or beast.

“Arah, arah!” they cried, “the mortar has deceived us.” And they didn’t
let the grass grow under their feet, but lit a fire and burnt the

Now the good old couple had lost their fairy mortar. But they never said
a word, the patient old folk. The good old man took some of the ashes of
the mortar and went his way.

Now it was mid-winter time, and all the trees were bare. There was not a
flower to be seen, nor yet a little green leaf.

What does the good old man do but climb into a cherry tree and scatter a
handful of his ashes over the branches? In a moment the tree was covered
with blossoms.

“It will do,” says the good old man, and down he gets from the tree and
off he sets for the Prince’s palace, where he knocks at the gate as bold
as brass.

“Who are you?” they ask him.

“I am _Hana-saka-jiji_,” says the old man, “the man who makes dead trees
to blossom; my business is with the Prince.”

Mighty pleased the Prince was when he saw his cherry trees and his peach
trees and his plum trees rush into blossom.

“Why,” he said, “it is mid-winter, and we have the joys of spring.” And
he called forth his lady wife and her maidens and all his own retainers
to see the work of _Hana-saka-jiji_. At last he sent the old man home
with a passing rich reward.

Now what of the bad old couple? Were they content to let well alone? Oh

They gathered together all the ashes that were left, and when they had
put them in a basket they went about the town crying:

“We are the _Hana-saka-jiji_. We can make dead trees blossom.”

Presently out comes the Prince and all his company to see the show. And
the bad old man climbs up into a tree forthwith and scatters his ashes.

But the tree never blossomed, never a bit. The ashes flew into the
Prince’s eyes, and the Prince flew into a rage. There was a pretty
to-do. The bad old couple were caught and well beaten. Sad and sorry
they crept home at night. It is to be hoped that they mended their ways.
Howbeit the good people, their neighbours, grew rich and lived happy all
their days.



There was an old bamboo cutter called Také Tori. He was an honest old
man, very poor and hard-working, and he lived with his good old wife in
a cottage on the hills. Children they had none, and little comfort in
their old age, poor souls.

Také Tori rose early upon a summer morning, and went forth to cut
bamboos as was his wont, for he sold them for a fair price in the town,
and thus he gained his humble living.

Up the steep hillside he went, and came to the bamboo grove quite
wearied out. He took his blue _tenegui_ and wiped his forehead, “Alack
for my old bones!” he said. “I am not so young as I once was, nor the
good wife either, and there’s no chick nor child to help us in our old
age, more’s the pity.” He sighed as he got to work, poor Také Tori.

Soon he saw a bright light shining among the green stems of the bamboos.

“What is this?” said Také Tori, for as a rule it was dim and shady
enough in the bamboo grove. “Is it the sun?” said Také Tori. “No, that
cannot well be, for it comes from the ground.” Very soon he pushed his
way through the bamboo stems to see what the bright light came from.
Sure enough it came from the root of a great big green bamboo. Také Tori
took his axe and cut down the great big green bamboo, and there was a
fine shining green jewel, the size of his two fists.

“Wonder of wonders!” cried Také Tori. “Wonder of wonders! For
five-and-thirty years I’ve cut bamboo. This is the very first time I’ve
found a great big green jewel at the root of one of them.” With that he
takes up the jewel in his hands, and as soon as he does that, it bursts
in two with a loud noise, if you’ll believe it, and out of it came a
young person and stood on Také Tori’s hand.

You must understand the young person was small but very beautiful. She
was dressed all in green silk.

“Greetings to you, Také Tori,” she says, as easy as you please.

“Mercy me!” says Také Tori. “Thank you kindly. I suppose, now, you’ll be
a fairy,” he says, “if I’m not making too bold in asking?”

“You’re right,” she says, “it’s a fairy I am, and I’m come to live with
you and your good wife for a little.”

“Well, now,” says Také Tori, “begging your pardon, we’re very poor. Our
cottage is good enough, but I’m afraid there’d be no comforts for a lady
like you.”

“Where’s the big green jewel?” says the fairy.

Take Tori picks up the two halves. “Why, it’s full of gold pieces,” he

“That will do to go on with,” says the fairy; “and now, Také Tori, let
us make for home.”

Home they went. “Wife! wife!” cried Také Tori, “here’s a fairy come to
live with us, and she has brought us a shining jewel as big as a
persimmon, full of gold pieces.”

The good wife came running to the door. She could hardly believe her

“What is this,” she said, “about a persimmon and gold pieces? Persimmons
I have seen often enough--moreover, it is the season--but gold pieces
are hard to come by.”

“Let be, woman,” said Také Tori, “you are dull.” And he brought the
fairy into the house.

Wondrous fast the fairy grew. Before many days were gone she was a fine
tall maiden, as fresh and as fair as the morning, as bright as the
noonday, as sweet and still as the evening, and as deep as the night.
Také Tori called her the Lady Beaming Bright, because she had come out
of the shining jewel.

Take Tori had the gold pieces out of the jewel every day. He grew rich,
and spent his money like a man, but there was always plenty and to
spare. He built him a fine house, he had servants to wait on him. The
Lady Beaming Bright was lodged like an empress. Her beauty was famed
both near and far, and scores of lovers came to seek her hand.

But she would have none of them. “Také Tori and the dear good wife are
my true lovers,” she said; “I will live with them and be their

So three happy years went by; and in the third year the Mikado himself
came to woo the Lady Beaming Bright. He was the brave lover, indeed.

“Lady,” he said, “I bow before you, my soul salutes you. Sweet lady, be
my Queen.”

Then the Lady Beaming Bright sighed and great tears stood in her eyes,
and she hid her face with her sleeve.

“Lord, I cannot,” she said.

“Cannot?” said the Mikado; “and why not, O dear Lady Beaming Bright?”

“Wait and see, lord,” she said.

Now about the seventh month she grew very sorrowful, and would go abroad
no more, but was for long upon the garden gallery of Také Tori’s house.
There she sat in the daytime and brooded. There she sat at night and
gazed upon the moon and the stars. There she was one fine night when the
moon was at its full. Her maidens were with her, and Také Tori and the
good wife, and the Mikado, her brave lover.

“How bright the moon shines!” said Také Tori.

“Truly,” said the good wife, “it is like a brass saucepan well scoured.”

“See how pale and wan it is,” said the Mikado; “it is like a sad
despairing lover.”

“How long and bright a beam!” quoth Také Tori. “It is like a highway
from the moon reaching to this garden gallery.”

“O dear foster-father,” cried the Lady Beaming Bright. “You speak truth,
it is a highway indeed. And along the highway come countless heavenly
beings swiftly, swiftly, to bear me home. My father is the King of the
Moon. I disobeyed his behest. He sent me to earth three years to dwell
in exile. The three years are past and I go to mine own country. Ah, I
am sad at parting.”

“The mist descends,” said Také Tori.

“Nay,” said the Mikado, “it is the cohorts of the King of the Moon.”

Down they came in their hundreds and their thousands, bearing torches.
Silently they came, and lighted round about the garden gallery. The
chief among them brought a heavenly feather robe. Up rose the Lady
Beaming Bright and put the robe upon her.

“Farewell, Také Tori,” she said, “farewell, dear foster-mother, I leave
you my jewel for a remembrance.... As for you, my lord, I would you
might come with me--but there is no feather robe for you. I leave you a
phial of the pure elixir of life. Drink, my lord, and be even as the

Then she spread her bright wings and the cohorts of Heaven closed about
her. Together they passed up the highway to the moon, and were no more

The Mikado took the elixir of life in his hand, and he went to the top
of the highest mountain in that country. And he made a great fire to
consume the elixir of life, for he said, “Of what profit shall it be to
me to live for ever, being parted from the Lady Beaming Bright?”

So the elixir of life was consumed, and its blue vapour floated up to
Heaven. And the Mikado said, “Let my message float up with the vapour
and reach the ears of my Lady Beaming Bright.”



[Illustration: Karma.--_P. 270._]

The young man, Ito Tatewaki, was returning homeward after a journey
which he had taken to the city of Kioto. He made his way alone and on
foot, and he went with his eyes bent upon the ground, for cares weighed
him down and his mind was full of the business which had taken him to
Kioto. Night found him upon a lonely road leading across a wild moor.
Upon the moor were rocks and stones, with an abundance of flowers, for
it was summer time, and here and there grew a dark pine tree, with
gnarled trunk and crooked boughs.

Tatewaki looked up and beheld the figure of a woman before him in the
way. It was a slender girl dressed in a simple gown of blue cotton.
Lightly she went along the lonely road in the deepening twilight.

“I should say she was the serving-maid of some gentle lady,” Tatewaki
said to himself. “The way is solitary and the time is dreary for such a
child as she.”

So the young man quickened his pace and came up with the maiden.
“Child,” he said very gently, “since we tread the same lonely road let
us be fellow-travellers, for now the twilight passes and it will soon be

The pretty maiden turned to him with bright eyes and smiling lips.

“Sir,” she said, “my mistress will be glad indeed.”

“Your mistress?” said Tatewaki.

“Why, sir, of a surety she will be glad because you are come.”

“Because I am come?”

“Indeed, and indeed the time has been long,” said the serving-maid; “but
now she will think no more of that.”

“Will she not?” said Tatewaki. And on he went by the maiden’s side,
walking as one in a dream.

Presently the two of them came to a little house, not far from the
roadside. Before the house was a small fair garden, with a stream
running through it and a stone bridge. About the house and the garden
there was a bamboo fence, and in the fence a wicket-gate.

“Here dwells my mistress,” said the serving-maid. And they went into the
garden through the wicket-gate.

Now Tatewaki came to the threshold of the house. He saw a lady standing
upon the threshold waiting.

She said, “You have come at last, my lord, to give me comfort.”

And he answered, “I have come.”

When he had said this he knew that he loved the lady, and had loved her
since love was.

“O love, love,” he murmured, “time is not for such as we.”

Then she took him by the hand, and they went into the house together and
into a room with white mats and a round latticed window.

Before the window there stood a lily in a vessel of water.

Here the two held converse together.

And after some time there was an old ancient woman that came with _saké_
in a silver flagon; and she brought silver drinking-cups and all things
needful. And Tatewaki and the lady drank the “Three Times Three”
together. When they had done this the lady said, “Love, let us go out
into the shine of the moon. See, the night is as green as an

So they went and left the house and the small fair garden behind them.
Or ever they had closed the wicket-gate the house and the garden and the
wicket-gate itself all faded away, dissolving in a faint mist, and not a
sign of them was left.

“Alas! what is this?” cried Tatewaki.

“Let be, dear love,” said the lady, and smiled; “they pass, for we have
no more need of them.”

Then Tatewaki saw that he was alone with the lady upon the wild moor.
And the tall lilies grew about them in a ring. So they stood the
live-long night, not touching one another but looking into each other’s
eyes most steadfastly. When dawn came, the lady stirred and gave one
deep sigh.

Tatewaki said, “Lady, why do you sigh?”

And when he asked her this, she unclasped her girdle, which was
fashioned after the form of a golden scaled dragon with translucent
eyes. And she took the girdle and wound it nine times about her love’s
arm, and she said, “O love, we part: these are the years until we meet
again.” So she touched the golden circles on his arm.

Then Tatewaki cried aloud, “O love, who are you? Tell me your name....”

She said, “O love, what have we to do with names, you and I?... I go to
my people upon the plains. Do not seek for me there.... Wait for me.”

And when the lady had spoken she faded slowly and grew ethereal, like a
mist. And Tatewaki cast himself upon the ground and put out his hand to
hold her sleeve. But he could not stay her. And his hand grew cold and
he lay still as one dead, all in the grey dawn.

When the sun was up he arose.

“The plains,” he said, “the low plains ... there will I find her.” So,
with the golden token wound about his arm, fleetly he sped down, down to
the plains. He came to the broad river, where he saw folk standing on
the green banks. And on the river there floated boats of fresh flowers,
the red dianthus and the campanula, golden rod and meadow-sweet. And the
people upon the river banks called to Tatewaki:

“Stay with us. Last night was the Night of Souls. They came to earth and
wandered where they would, the kind wind carried them. To-day they
return to Yomi. They go in their boats of flowers, the river bears them.
Stay with us and bid the departing Souls good speed.”

And Tatewaki cried, “May the Souls have sweet passage.... I cannot

So he came to the plains at last, but did not find his lady. Nothing at
all did he find, but a wilderness of ancient graves, with nettles
overgrown and the waving green grass.

So Tatewaki went to his own place, and for nine long years he lived a
lonely man. The happiness of home and little children he never knew.

“Ah, love,” he said, “not patiently, not patiently, I wait for you....
Love, delay not your coming.”

And when the nine years were past he was in his garden upon the Night of
Souls. And looking up he saw a woman that came towards him, threading
her way through the paths of the garden. Lightly she came; she was a
slender girl, dressed in a simple gown of blue cotton. Tatewaki stood up
and spoke:

“Child,” he said very gently, “since we tread the same lonely road let
us be fellow-travellers, for now the twilight passes and it will soon be

The maid turned to him with bright eyes and smiling lips:

“Sir,” she said, “my mistress will be glad indeed.”

“Will she be glad?” said Tatewaki.

“The time has been long.”

“Long and very weary,” said Tatewaki.

“But now you will think no more of that....”

“Take me to your mistress,” said Tatewaki. “Guide me, for I cannot see
any more. Hold me, for my limbs fail. Do not leave go my hand, for I am
afraid. Take me to your mistress,” said Tatewaki.

In the morning his servants found him cold and dead, quietly lying in
the shade of the garden trees.



There was a wandering ballad-singer who came to a great house in Yedo
where they wished to be entertained.

“Will you have a dance or a song?” said the ballad-singer; “or shall I
tell you a story?” The people of the house bade him tell a story.

“Shall it be a tale of love or a tale of war?” said the ballad-singer.

“Oh, a tale of love,” they said.

“Will you have a sad tale or a merry?” asked the ballad-singer.

They were all agreed that they would hear a sad tale.

“Well, then,” said the ballad-singer, “listen, and I will tell you the
sad story of the Yaoya’s daughter.”

So he told this tale.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Yaoya was a poor hard-working man, but his daughter was the sweetest
thing in Yedo. You must know she was one of the five beauties of the
city, that grew like five cherry-trees in the time of the spring

In autumn the hunters lure the wild deer with the sound of the flute.
The deer are deceived, for they believe that they hear the voices of
their mates. So are they trapped and slain. For like calls to like.
Youth calls to youth, beauty to beauty, love to love. This is law, and
this law was the undoing of the Yaoya’s daughter.

When there was a great fire in Yedo, so great that more than the half of
the city was burned, the Yaoya’s house was ruined also. And the Yaoya
and his wife and his daughter had no roof over them, nor anywhere to lay
their heads. So they went to a Buddhist temple for shelter and stayed
there many days, till their house should be rebuilt. Ah me, for the
Yaoya’s daughter! Every morning at sunrise she bathed in the spring of
clean water that was near the temple. Her eyes were bright and her
cheeks ruddy. Then she would put on her blue gown and sit by the
water-side to comb her long hair. She was a sweet and slender thing,
scarce fifteen years old. Her name was O Schichi.

“Sweep the temple and the temple courts,” her father bade her. “’Tis
well we should do so much for the good priests who give us shelter.” So
O Schichi took the broom and swept. And as she laboured she sang
merrily, and the grey precincts of the temple grew bright.

Now there was a young acolyte who served in the holy place. Gentle he
was and beautiful. Not a day passed but he heard the singing of O
Schichi; not a day passed but he set eyes upon her, going her ways, so
light and slender, in the ancient courts of the temple.

It was not long before he loved her. Youth calls to youth, beauty to
beauty, love to love. It was not long before she loved him.

Secretly they met together in the temple grove. Hand in hand they went,
her head against his arm.

“Ah,” she cried, “that such a thing should be! I am happy and unhappy.
Why do I love you, my own?”

“Because of the power of Karma,” said the acolyte. “Nevertheless, we
sin, O heart’s desire, grievously we sin, and I know not what may come
of it.”

“Alas,” she said, “will the gods be angry with us, and we so young?”

“I cannot tell,” he said; “but I am afraid.”

Then the two of them clung together, trembling and weeping. But they
pledged themselves to each other for the space of many existences.

The Yaoya had his dwelling in the quarter of the city called Honjo, and
presently his house was rebuilt which had been destroyed by the fire. He
and his wife were glad, for they said, “Now we shall go home.”

O Schichi hid her face with her sleeve and wept bitter tears.

“Child, what ails you?” said her mother.

O Schichi wept. “Oh! oh! oh!” she cried, and swayed herself to and fro.

“Why, maid, what is it?” said her father.

Still O Schichi wept. “Oh! oh! oh!” she cried, and swayed herself to and

That night she went to the grove. There was the acolyte, very pale and
sorrowful, beneath the trees.

“They will part us,” she cried, “O my dear heart’s desire. The dear gods
are angry with us, and we so young.”

“Ah,” he said, “I was afraid.... Farewell, dear maid, O little maid,
sweet and slender. Remember we are pledged to one another for the space
of many existences.”

Then the two of them clung together, trembling and weeping, and they
bade farewell a thousand times.

The next day they bore O Schichi home to Honjo. She grew languid and
listless. White she grew, white as the buckwheat flower. She drooped and
she failed. No longer was she numbered with the five beauties of Yedo,
nor likened to a cherry-tree in the time of the spring blossoming. All
the day long she brooded silently. At night she lay awake in her low

“Oh! oh!” she moaned, “the weary, weary night! Shall I never see him?
Must I die of longing? Oh! oh! the weary, weary night....”

Her eyes grew large and burning bright.

“Alas! poor maid,” said her father.

“I am afraid ...” said her mother. “She will lose her wits.... She does
not weep any more.”

At last O Schichi arose and took straw and made it into a bundle; and
she put charcoal in the bundle and laid it beneath the gallery of her
father’s house. Then she set fire to the straw and the charcoal, and the
whole burnt merrily. Furthermore the wood of her father’s house took
light and the house was burnt to the ground.

“I shall see him; I shall see him!” shrieked O Schichi, and fell in a

Howbeit all the city knew that she had set fire to her father’s house.
So she was taken before the judge to be tried for her wrong-doing.

“Child,” said the judge, “what made you do this thing?”

“I was mad,” she said, “I did it for love’s sake. I said, ‘I will burn
the house, we shall have nowhere to lay our heads, then we shall take
shelter at the temple; I will see my lover.’ Lord, I have not seen him
nor heard of him these many, many moons.”

“Who is your lover?” said the judge.

Then she told him.

Now as for the law of the city, it was hard and could not be altered.
Death was the penalty for the crime of the Yaoya’s daughter. Only a
child might escape.

“My little maid,” the judge said, “are you perhaps twelve years old?”

“Nay, lord,” she answered.

“Thirteen, then, or fourteen? The gods send you may be fourteen. You are
little and slender.”

“Lord,” she said, “I am fifteen.”

“Alas, my poor maid,” said the judge, “you are all too old.”

So they made her stand upon the bridge of Nihonbashi. And they told her
story aloud; they called it from the house-tops so that all might hear.
There she was for all the world to look upon.

Every day for seven days she stood upon the bridge of Nihonbashi, and
drooped in the glare of the sun and of men’s glances. Her face was white
as the flower of the buckwheat. Her eyes were wide and burning bright.
She was the most piteous thing under the sky. The tender-hearted wept to
see her. They said, “Is this the Yaoya’s daughter that was one of the
five beauties of Yedo?”

After the seven days were passed they bound O Schichi to a stake, and
they piled faggots of wood about her and set the faggots alight. Soon
the thick smoke rose.

“It was all for love,” she cried with a loud voice. And when she had
said this, she died.

       *       *       *       *       *

“The tale is told,” said the ballad-singer. “Youth calls to youth,
beauty to beauty, love to love. This is law, and this law was the
undoing of the Yaoya’s daughter.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s note:

Inconsistent hyphenation (e.g. hair-pins vs. hairpins) and variant
spellings (e.g. fulness vs. fullness) have not been changed.

Verse, and the words “Fairy Tales” on the title page, were italicized in
the original book. This has not been represented in the plain-text

Missing or misprinted punctuation has been corrected without note.

The following correction was also made:

p. 10: their to there (there lived in Yedo)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Japanese Fairy Tales" ***

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