Part 2 out of 4
very unhappy, for they both longed to see a child of their own who
would grow up to gladden their old age, carry on the family name,
and keep up the ancestral rites when they were dead. The Prince and
his lovely wife, after long consultation and much thought,
determined to make a pilgrimage to the temple of Hase-no-Kwannon
(Goddess of Mercy at Hase), for they believed, according to the
beautiful tradition of their religion, that the Mother of Mercy,
Kwannon, comes to answer the prayers of mortals in the form that
they need the most. Surely after all these years of prayer she would
come to them in the form of a beloved child in answer to their
special pilgrimage, for that was the greatest need of their two
lives. Everything else they had that this life could give them, but
it was all as nothing because the cry of their hearts was
So the Prince Toyonari and his wife went to the temple of Kwannon at
Hase and stayed there for a long time, both daily offering incense
and praying to Kwannon, the Heavenly Mother, to grant them the
desire of their whole lives. And their prayer was answered.
A daughter was born at last to the Princess Murasaki, and great was
the joy of her heart. On presenting the child to her husband, they
both decided to call her Hase-Hime, or the Princess of Hase, because
she was the gift of the Kwannon at that place. They both reared her
with great care and tenderness, and the child grew in strength and
When the little girl was five years old her mother fell dangerously
ill and all the doctors and their medicines could not save her. A
little before she breathed her last she called her daughter to her,
and gently stroking her head, said:
"Hase-Hime, do you know that your mother cannot live any longer?
Though I die, you must grow up a good girl. Do your best not to give
trouble to your nurse or any other of your family. Perhaps your
father will marry again and some one will fill my place as your
mother. If so do not grieve for me, but look upon your father's
second wife as your true mother, and be obedient and filial to both
her and your father. Remember when you are grown up to be submissive
to those who are your superiors, and to be kind to all those who are
under you. Don't forget this. I die with the hope that you will grow
up a model woman."
Hase-Hime listened in an attitude of respect while her mother spoke,
and promised to do all that she was told. There is a proverb which
says "As the soul is at three so it is at one hundred," and so Hase-
Hime grew up as her mother had wished, a good and obedient little
Princess, though she was now too young to understand how great was
the loss of her mother.
Not long after the death of his first wife, Prince Toyonari married
again, a lady of noble birth named Princess Terute. Very different
in character, alas! to the good and wise Princess Murasaki, this
woman had a cruel, bad heart. She did not love her step-daughter at
all, and was often very unkind to the little motherless girl, saving
"This is not my child! this is not my child!"
But Hase-Hime bore every unkindness with patience, and even waited
upon her step-mother kindly and obeyed her in every way and never
gave any trouble, just as she had been trained by her own good
mother, so that the Lady Terute had no cause for complaint against
The little Princess was very diligent, and her favorite studies were
music and poetry. She would spend several hours practicing every
day, and her father had the most proficient of masters he could find
to teach her the koto (Japanese harp), the art of writing letters
and verse. When she was twelve years of age she could play so
beautifully that she and her step-mother were summoned to the Palace
to perform before the Emperor.
It was the Festival of the Cherry Flowers, and there were great
festivities at the Court. The Emperor threw himself into the
enjoyment of the season, and commanded that Princess Hase should
perform before him on the koto, and that her mother Princess Terute
should accompany her on the flute.
The Emperor sat on a raised dais, before which was hung a curtain of
finely-sliced bamboo and purple tassels, so that His Majesty might
see all and not be seen, for no ordinary subject was allowed to
looked upon his sacred face.
Hase-Hime was a skilled musician though so young, and often
astonished her masters by her wonderful memory and talent. On this
momentous occasion she played well. But Princess Terute, her step-
mother, who was a lazy woman and never took the trouble to practice
daily, broke down in her accompaniment and had to request one of the
Court ladies to take her place. This was a great disgrace, and she
was furiously jealous to think that she had failed where her step-
daughter succeeded; and to make matters worse the Emperor sent many
beautiful gifts to the little Princess to reward her for playing so
well at the Palace.
There was also now another reason why Princess Terute hated her
step-daughter, for she had had the good fortune to have a son born
to her, and in her inmost heart she kept saying:
"If only Hase-Hime were not here, my son would have all the love of
And never having learned to control herself, she allowed this wicked
thought to grow into the awful desire of taking her step-daughter's
So one day she secretly ordered some poison and poisoned some sweet
wine. This poisoned wine she put into a bottle. Into another similar
bottle she poured some good wine. It was the occasion of the Boys'
Festival on the fifth of May, and Hase-Hime was playing with her
little brother. All his toys of warriors and heroes were spread out
and she was telling him wonderful stories about each of them. They
were both enjoying themselves and laughing merrily with their
attendants when his mother entered with the two bottles of wine and
some delicious cakes.
"You are both so good and happy." said the wicked Princess Terute
with a smile, "that I have brought you some sweet wine as a reward--
and here are some nice cakes for my good children."
And she filled two cups from the different bottles.
Hase-Hime, never dreaming of the dreadful part her step-mother was
acting, took one of the cups of wine and gave to her little step
brother the other that had been poured out for him.
The wicked woman had carefully marked the poisoned bottle, but on
coming into the room she had grown nervous, and pouring out the wine
hurriedly had unconsciously given the poisoned cup to her own child.
All this time she was anxiously watching the little Princess, but to
her amazement no change whatever took place in the young girl's
face. Suddenly the little boy screamed and threw himself on the
floor, doubled up with pain. His mother flew to him, taking the
precaution to upset the two tiny jars of wine which she had brought
into the room, and lifted him up. The attendants rushed for the
doctor, but nothing could save the child--he died within the hour in
his mother's arms. Doctors did not know much in those ancient times,
and it was thought that the wine had disagreed with the boy, causing
convulsions of which he died.
Thus was the wicked woman punished in losing her own child when she
had tried to do away with her step-daughter; but instead of blaming
herself she began to hate Hase-Hime more than ever in the bitterness
and wretchedness of her own heart, and she eagerly watched for an
opportunity to do her harm, which was, however, long in coming.
When Hase-Hime was thirteen years of age, she had already become
mentioned as a poetess of some merit. This was an accomplishment
very much cultivated by the women of old Japan and one held in high
It was the rainy season at Nara, and floods were reported every day
as doing damage in the neighborhood. The river Tatsuta, which flowed
through the Imperial Palace grounds, was swollen to the top of its
banks, and the roaring of the torrents of water rushing along a
narrow bed so disturbed the Emperor's rest day and night, that a
serious nervous disorder was the result. An Imperial Edict was sent
forth to all the Buddhist temples commanding the priests to offer up
continuous prayers to Heaven to stop the noise of the flood. But
this was of no avail.
Then it was whispered in Court circles that the Princess Hase, the
daughter of Prince Toyonari Fujiwara, second minister at Court, was
the most gifted poetess of the day, though still so young, and her
masters confirmed the report. Long ago, a beautiful and gifted
maiden-poetess had moved Heaven by praying in verse, had brought
down rain upon a land famished with drought--so said the ancient
biographers of the poetess Ono-no-Komachi. If the Princess Hase were
to write a poem and offer it in prayer, might it not stop the noise
of the rushing river and remove the cause of the Imperial illness?
What the Court said at last reached the ears of the Emperor himself,
and he sent an order to the minister Prince Toyonari to this effect.
Great indeed was Hase-Hime's fear and astonishment when her father
sent for her and told her what was required of her. Heavy, indeed,
was the duty that was laid on her young shoulders--that of saving
the Emperor's life by the merit of her verse.
At last the day came and her poem was finished. It was written on a
leaflet of paper heavily flecked with gold-dust. With her father and
attendants and some of the Court officials, she proceeded to the
bank of the roaring torrent and raising up her heart to Heaven, she
read the poem she had composed, aloud, lifting it heavenwards in her
Strange indeed it seemed to all those standing round. The waters
ceased their roaring, and the river was quiet in direct answer to
her prayer. After this the Emperor soon recovered his health.
His Majesty was highly pleased, and sent for her to the Palace and
rewarded her with the rank of Chinjo--that of Lieutenant-General--to
distinguish her. From that time she was called Chinjo-hime, or the
Lieutenant-General Princess, and respected and loved by all.
There was only one person who was not pleased at Hase-Hime's
success. That one was her stepmother. Forever brooding over the
death of her own child whom she had killed when trying to poison her
step-daughter, she had the mortification of seeing her rise to power
and honor, marked by Imperial favor and the admiration of the whole
Court. Her envy and jealousy burned in her heart like fire. Many
were the lies she carried to her husband about Hase-Hime, but all to
no purpose. He would listen to none of her tales, telling her
sharply that she was quite mistaken.
At last the step-mother, seizing the opportunity of her husband's
absence, ordered one of her old servants to take the innocent girl
to the Hibari Mountains, the wildest part of the country, and to
kill her there. She invented a dreadful story about the little
Princess, saying that this was the only way to prevent disgrace
falling upon the family--by killing her.
Katoda, her vassal, was bound to obey his mistress. Anyhow, he saw
that it would be the wisest plan to pretend obedience in the absence
of the girl's father, so he placed Hase-Hime in a palanquin and
accompanied her to the most solitary place he could find in the wild
district. The poor child knew there was no good in protesting to her
unkind step-mother at being sent away in this strange manner, so she
went as she was told.
But the old servant knew that the young Princess was quite innocent
of all the things her step-mother had invented to him as reasons for
her outrageous orders, and he determined to save her life. Unless he
killed her, however, he could not return to his cruel task-mistress,
so he decided to stay out in the wilderness. With the help of some
peasants he soon built a little cottage, and having sent secretly
for his wife to come, these two good old people did all in their
power to take care of the now unfortunate Princess. She all the time
trusted in her father, knowing that as soon as he returned home and
found her absent, he would search for her.
Prince Toyonari, after some weeks, came home, and was told by his
wife that his daughter Hime had done something wrong and had run
away for fear of being punished. He was nearly ill with anxiety.
Every one in the house told the same story--that Hase-Hime had
suddenly disappeared, none of them knew why or whither. For fear of
scandal he kept the matter quite and searched everywhere he could
think of, but all to no purpose.
One day, trying to forget his terrible worry, he called all his men
together and told them to make ready for a several days' hunt in the
mountains. They were soon ready and mounted, waiting at the gate for
their lord. He rode hard and fast to the district of the Hibari
Mountains, a great company following him. He was soon far ahead of
every one, and at last found himself in a narrow picturesque valley.
Looking round and admiring the scenery, he noticed a tiny house on
one of the hills quite near, and then he distinctly heard a
beautiful clear voice reading aloud. Seized with curiosity as to who
could be studying so diligently in such a lonely spot, he
dismounted, and leaving his horse to his groom, he walked up the
hillside and approached the cottage. As he drew nearer his surprise
increased, for he could see that the reader was a beautiful girl.
The cottage was wide open and she was sitting facing the view.
Listening attentively, he heard her reading the Buddhist scriptures
with great devotion. More and more curious, he hurried on to the
tiny gate and entered the little garden, and looking up beheld his
lost daughter Hase-Hime. She was so intent on what she was saying
that she neither heard nor saw her father till he spoke.
"Hase-Hime!" he cried, "it is you. my Hase-Hime!"
Taken by surprise, she could hardly realize that it was her own dear
father who was calling her, and for a moment she was utterly bereft
of the power to speak or move.
"My father, my father! It is indeed you--oh, my father!" was all she
could say, and running to him she caught hold of his thick sleeve,
and burying her face burst into a passion of tears.
Her father stroked her dark hair, asking her gently to tell him all
that had happened, but she only wept on, and he wondered if he were
not really dreaming.
Then the faithful old servant Katoda came out, and bowing himself to
the ground before his master, poured out the long tale of wrong,
telling him all that had happened, and how it was that he found his
daughter in such a wild and desolate spot with only two old servants
to take care of her.
The Prince's astonishment and indignation knew no bounds. He gave up
the hunt at once and hurried home with his daughter. One of the
company galloped ahead to inform the household of the glad news, and
the step-mother hearing what had happened, and fearful of meeting
her husband now that her wickedness was discovered, fled from the
house and returned in disgrace to her father's roof, and nothing
more was heard of her.
The old servant Katoda was rewarded with the highest promotion in
his master's service, and lived happily to the end of his days,
devoted to the little Princess, who never forgot that she owed her
life to this faithful retainer. She was no longer troubled by an
unkind step-mother, and her days passed happily and quietly with her
As Prince Toyonari had no son, he adopted a younger son of one of
the Court nobles to be his heir, and to marry his daughter Hase-
Hime, and in a few years the marriage took place. Hase-Hime lived to
a good old age, and all said that she was the wisest, most devout,
and most beautiful mistress that had ever reigned in Prince
Toyonari's ancient house. She had the joy of presenting her son, the
future lord of the family, to her father just before he retired from
To this day there is preserved a piece of needle-work in one of the
Buddhist temples of Kioto. It is a beautiful piece of tapestry, with
the figure of Buddha embroidered in the silky threads drawn from the
stem of the lotus. This is said to have been the work of the hands
of the good Princess Hase.
THE STORY OF THE MAN WHO DID NOT WISH TO DIE.
Long, long ago there lived a man called Sentaro. His surname meant
"Millionaire," but although he was not so rich as all that, he was
still very far removed from being poor. He had inherited a small
fortune from his father and lived on this, spending his time
carelessly, without any serious thoughts of work, till he was about
thirty-two years of age.
One day, without any reason whatsoever, the thought of death and
sickness came to him. The idea of falling ill or dying made him very
"I should like to live," he said to himself, "till I am five or six
hundred years old at least, free from all sickness. The ordinary
span of a man's life is very short."
He wondered whether it were possible, by living simply and frugally
henceforth, to prolong his life as long as he wished.
He knew there were many stories in ancient history of emperors who
had lived a thousand years, and there was a Princess of Yamato, who,
it was said, lived to the age of five hundred This was the latest
story of a very long life record.
Sentaro had often heard the tale of the Chinese King named Shin-no-
Shiko. He was one of the most able and powerful rulers in Chinese
history. He built all the large palaces, and also the famous great
wall of China. He had everything in the world he could wish for, but
in spite of all his happiness and the luxury and the splendor of his
Court, the wisdom of his councilors and the glory of his reign, he
was miserable because he knew that one day he must die and leave it
When Shin-no-Shiko went to bed at night, when he rose in the
morning, as he went through his day, the thought of death was always
with him. He could not get away from it. Ah--if only he could find
the "Elixir of Life," he would be happy.
The Emperor at last called a meeting of his courtiers and asked them
all if they could not find for him the "Elixir of Life" of which he
had so often read and heard.
One old courtier, Jofuku by name, said that far away across the seas
there was a country called Horaizan, and that certain hermits lived
there who possessed the secret of the "Elixir of Life." Whoever
drank of this wonderful draught lived forever.
The Emperor ordered Jofuku to set out for the land of Horaizan, to
find the hermits, and to bring him back a phial of the magic elixir.
He gave Jofuku one of his best junks, fitted it out for him, and
loaded it with great quantities of treasures and precious stones for
Jofuku to take as presents to the hermits.
Jofuku sailed for the land of Horaizan, but he never returned to the
waiting Emperor; but ever since that time Mount Fuji has been said
to be the fabled Horaizan and the home of hermits who had the secret
of the elixir, and Jofuku has been worshiped as their patron god.
Now Sentaro determined to set out to find the hermits, and if he
could, to become one, so that he might obtain the water of perpetual
life. He remembered that as a child he had been told that not only
did these hermits live on Mount Fuji, but that they were said to
inhabit all the very high peaks.
So he left his old home to the care of his relatives, and started
out on his quest. He traveled through all the mountainous regions of
the land, climbing to the tops of the highest peaks, but never a
hermit did he find.
At last, after wandering in an unknown region for many days, he met
"Can you tell me," asked Sentaro, "where the hermits live who have
the Elixir of Life?"
"No." said the hunter; "I can't tell you where such hermits live,
but there is a notorious robber living in these parts. It is said
that he is chief of a band of two hundred followers."
This odd answer irritated Sentaro very much, and he thought how
foolish it was to waste more time in looking for the hermits in this
way, so he decided to go at once to the shrine of Jofuku, who is
worshiped as the patron god of the hermits in the south of Japan.
Sentaro reached the shrine and prayed for seven days, entreating
Jofuku to show him the way to a hermit who could give him what he
wanted so much to find.
At midnight of the seventh day, as Sentaro knelt in the temple, the
door of the innermost shrine flew open, and Jofuku appeared in a
luminous cloud, and calling to Sentaro to come nearer, spoke thus:
"Your desire is a very selfish one and cannot be easily granted. You
think that you would like to become a hermit so as to find the
Elixir of Life. Do you know how hard a hermit's life is? A hermit is
only allowed to eat fruit and berries and the bark of pine trees; a
hermit must cut himself off from the world so that his heart may
become as pure as gold and free from every earthly desire. Gradually
after following these strict rules, the hermit ceases to feel hunger
or cold or heat, and his body becomes so light that he can ride on a
crane or a carp, and can walk on water without getting his feet
"You, Sentaro, are fond of good living and of every comfort. You are
not even like an ordinary man, for you are exceptionally idle, and
more sensitive to heat and cold than most people. You would never be
able to go barefoot or to wear only one thin dress in the winter
time! Do you think that you would ever have the patience or the
endurance to live a hermit's life?"
"In answer to your prayer, however, I will help you in another way.
I will send you to the country of Perpetual Life, where death never
comes--where the people live forever!"
Saying this, Jofuku put into Sentaro's hand a little crane made of
paper, telling him to sit on its back and it would carry him there.
Sentaro obeyed wonderingly. The crane grew large enough for him to
ride on it with comfort. It then spread its wings, rose high in the
air, and flew away over the mountains right out to sea.
Sentaro was at first quite frightened; but by degrees he grew
accustomed to the swift flight through the air. On and on they went
for thousands of miles. The bird never stopped for rest or food, but
as it was a paper bird it doubtless did not require any nourishment,
and strange to say, neither did Sentaro.
After several days they reached an island. The crane flew some
distance inland and then alighted.
As soon as Sentaro got down from the bird's back, the crane folded
up of its own accord and flew into his pocket.
Now Sentaro began to look about him wonderingly, curious to see what
the country of Perpetual Life was like. He walked first round about
the country and then through the town. Everything was, of course,
quite strange, and different from his own land. But both the land
and the people seemed prosperous, so he decided that it would be
good for him to stay there and took up lodgings at one of the
The proprietor was a kind man, and when Sentaro told him that he was
a stranger and had come to live there, he promised to arrange
everything that was necessary with the governor of the city
concerning Sentaro's sojourn there. He even found a house for his
guest, and in this way Sentaro obtained his great wish and became a
resident in the country of Perpetual Life.
Within the memory of all the islanders no man had ever died there,
and sickness was a thing unknown. Priests had come over from India
and China and told them of a beautiful country called Paradise,
where happiness and bliss and contentment fill all men's hearts, but
its gates could only be reached by dying. This tradition was handed
down for ages from generation to generation--but none knew exactly
what death was except that it led to Paradise.
Quite unlike Sentaro and other ordinary people, instead of having a
great dread of death, they all, both rich and poor, longed for it as
something good and desirable. They were all tired of their long,
long lives, and longed to go to the happy land of contentment called
Paradise of which the priests had told them centuries ago.
All this Sentaro soon found out by talking to the islanders. He
found himself, according to his ideas, in the land of Topsyturvydom.
Everything was upside down. He had wished to escape from dying. He
had come to the land of Perpetual Life with great relief and joy,
only to find that the inhabitants themselves, doomed never to die,
would consider it bliss to find death.
What he had hitherto considered poison these people ate as good
food, and all the things to which he had been accustomed as food
they rejected. Whenever any merchants from other countries arrived,
the rich people rushed to them eager to buy poisons. These they
swallowed eagerly, hoping for death to come so that they might go to
But what were deadly poisons in other lands were without effect in
this strange place, and people who swallowed them with the hope of
dying, only found that in a short time they felt better in health
instead of worse.
Vainly they tried to imagine what death could be like. The wealthy
would have given all their money and all their goods if they could
but shorten their lives to two or three hundred years even. Without
any change to live on forever seemed to this people wearisome and
In the chemist shops there was a drug which was in constant demand,
because after using it for a hundred years, it was supposed to turn
the hair slightly gray and to bring about disorders of the stomach.
Sentaro was astonished to find that the poisonous globe-fish was
served up in restaurants as a delectable dish, and hawkers in the
streets went about selling sauces made of Spanish flies. He never
saw any one ill after eating these horrible things, nor did he ever
see any one with as much as a cold.
Sentaro was delighted. He said to himself that he would never grow
tired of living, and that he considered it profane to wish for
death. He was the only happy man on the island. For his part he
wished to live thousands of years and to enjoy life. He set himself
up in business, and for the present never even dreamed of going back
to his native land.
As years went by, however, things did not go as smoothly as at
first. He had heavy losses in business, and several times some
affairs went wrong with his neighbors. This caused him great
Time passed like the flight of an arrow for him, for he was busy
from morning till night. Three hundred years went by in this
monotonous way, and then at last he began to grow tired of life in
this country, and he longed to see his own land and his old home.
However long he lived here, life would always be the game, so was it
not foolish and wearisome to stay on here forever?
Sentaro, in his wish to escape from the country of Perpetual Life,
recollected Jofuku, who had helped him before when he was wishing to
escape from death--and he prayed to the saint to bring him back to
his own land again.
No sooner did he pray than the paper crane popped out of his pocket.
Sentaro was amazed to see that it had remained undamaged after all
these years. Once more the bird grew and grew till it was large
enough for him to mount it. As he did so, the bird spread its wings
and flew, swiftly out across the sea in the direction of Japan.
Such was the willfulness of the man's nature that he looked back and
regretted all he had left behind. He tried to stop the bird in vain.
The crane held on its way for thousands of miles across the ocean.
Then a storm came on, and the wonderful paper crane got damp,
crumpled up, and fell into the sea. Sentaro fell with it. Very much
frightened at the thought of being drowned, he cried out loudly to
Jofuku to save him. He looked round, but there was no ship in sight.
He swallowed a quantity of sea-water, which only increased his
miserable plight. While he was thus struggling to keep himself
afloat, he saw a monstrous shark swimming towards him. As it came
nearer it opened its huge mouth ready to devour him. Sentaro was all
but paralyzed with fear now that he felt his end so near, and
screamed out as loudly as ever he could to Jofuku to come and rescue
Lo, and behold, Sentaro was awakened by his own screams, to find
that during his long prayer he had fallen asleep before the shrine,
and that all his extraordinary and frightful adventures had been
only a wild dream. He was in a cold perspiration with fright, and
Suddenly a bright light came towards him, and in the light stood a
messenger. The messenger held a book in his hand, and spoke to
"I am sent to you by Jofuku, who in answer to your prayer, has
permitted you in a dream to see the land of Perpetual Life. But you
grew weary of living there, and begged to be allowed to return to
your native land so that you might die. Jofuku, so that he might try
you, allowed you to drop into the sea, and then sent a shark to
swallow you up. Your desire for death was not real, for even at that
moment you cried out loudly and shouted for help."
"It is also vain for you to wish to become a hermit, or to find the
Elixir of Life. These things are not for such as you--your life is
not austere enough. It is best for you to go back to your paternal
home, and to live a good and industrious life. Never neglect to keep
the anniversaries of your ancestors, and make it your duty to
provide for your children's future. Thus will you live to a good old
age and be happy, but give up the vain desire to escape death, for
no man can do that, and by this time you have surely found out that
even when selfish desires are granted they do not bring happiness."
"In this book I give you there are many precepts good for you to
know--if you study them, you will be guided in the way I have
pointed out to you."
The angel disappeared as soon as he had finished speaking, and
Sentaro took the lesson to heart. With the book in his hand he
returned to his old home, and giving up all his old vain wishes,
tried to live a good and useful life and to observe the lessons
taught him in the book, and he and his house prospered henceforth.
THE BAMBOO-CUTTER AND THE MOON-CHILD.
Long, long ago, there lived an old bamboo wood-cutter. He was very
poor and sad also, for no child had Heaven sent to cheer his old
age, and in his heart there was no hope of rest from work till he
died and was laid in the quiet grave. Every morning he went forth
into the woods and hills wherever the bamboo reared its lithe green
plumes against the sky. When he had made his choice, he would cut
down these feathers of the forest, and splitting them lengthwise, or
cutting them into joints, would carry the bamboo wood home and make
it into various articles for the household, and he and his old wife
gained a small livelihood by selling them.
One morning as usual he had gone out to his work, and having found a
nice clump of bamboos, had set to work to cut some of them down.
Suddenly the green grove of bamboos was flooded with a bright soft
light, as if the full moon had risen over the spot. Looking round in
astonishment, he saw that the brilliance was streaming from one
bamboo. The old man. full of wonder. dropped his ax and went towards
the light. On nearer approach he saw that this soft splendor came
from a hollow in the green bamboo stem, and still more wonderful to
behold, in the midst of the brilliance stood a tiny human being,
only three inches in height, and exquisitely beautiful in
"You must be sent to be my child, for I find you here among the
bamboos where lies my daily work," said the old man, and taking the
little creature in his hand he took it home to his wife to bring up.
The tiny girl was so exceedingly beautiful and so small, that the
old woman put her into a basket to safeguard her from the least
possibility of being hurt in any way.
The old couple were now very happy, for it had been a lifelong
regret that they had no children of their own, and with joy they now
expended all the love of their old age on the little child who had
come to them in so marvelous a manner.
From this time on, the old man often found gold in the notches of
the bamboos when he hewed them down and cut them up; not only gold,
but precious stones also, so that by degrees he became rich. He
built himself a fine house, and was no longer known as the poor
bamboo woodcutter, but as a wealthy man.
Three months passed quickly away, and in that time the bamboo child
had, wonderful to say, become a full-grown girl, so her foster-
parents did up her hair and dressed her in beautiful kimonos. She
was of such wondrous beauty that they placed her behind the screens
like a princess, and allowed no one to see her, waiting upon her
themselves. It seemed as if she were made of light, for the house
was filled with a soft shining, so that even in the dark of night it
was like daytime. Her presence seemed to have a benign influence on
those there. Whenever the old man felt sad, he had only to look upon
his foster-daughter and his sorrow vanished, and he became as happy
as when he was a youth.
At last the day came for the naming of their new-found child, so the
old couple called in a celebrated name-giver, and he gave her the
name of Princess Moonlight, because her body gave forth so much soft
bright light that she might have been a daughter of the Moon God.
For three days the festival was kept up with song and dance and
music. All the friends and relations of the old couple were present,
and great was their enjoyment of the festivities held to celebrate
the naming of Princess Moonlight. Everyone who saw her declared that
there never had been seen any one so lovely; all the beauties
throughout the length and breadth of the land would grow pale beside
her, so they said. The fame of the Princess's loveliness spread far
and wide, and many were the suitors who desired to win her hand, or
even so much as to see her.
Suitors from far and near posted themselves outside the house, and
made little holes in the fence, in the hope of catching a glimpse of
the Princess as she went from one room to the other along the
veranda. They stayed there day and night, sacrificing even their
sleep for a chance of seeing her, but all in vain. Then they
approached the house, and tried to speak to the old man and his wife
or some of the servants, but not even this was granted them.
Still, in spite of all this disappointment they stayed on day after
day, and night after night, and counted it as nothing, so great was
their desire to see the Princess.
At last, however, most of the men, seeing how hopeless their quest
was, lost heart and hope both, and returned to their homes. All
except five Knights, whose ardor and determination, instead of
waning, seemed to wax greater with obstacles. These five men even
went without their meals, and took snatches of whatever they could
get brought to them, so that they might always stand outside the
dwelling. They stood there in all weathers, in sunshine and in rain.
Sometimes they wrote letters to the Princess, but no answer was
vouchsafed to them. Then when letters failed to draw any reply, they
wrote poems to her telling her of the hopeless love which kept them
from sleep, from food, from rest, and even from their homes. Still
Princes Moonlight gave no sign of having received their verses.
In this hopeless state the winter passed. The snow and frost and the
cold winds gradually gave place to the gentle warmth of spring. Then
the summer came, and the sun burned white and scorching in the
heavens above and on the earth beneath, and still these faithful
Knights kept watch and waited. At the end of these long months they
called out to the old bamboo-cutter and entreated him to have some
mercy upon them and to show them the Princess, but he answered only
that as he was not her real father he could not insist on her
obeying him against her wishes.
The five Knights on receiving this stern answer returned to their
several homes, and pondered over the best means of touching the
proud Princess's heart, even so much as to grant them a hearing.
They took their rosaries in hand and knelt before their household
shrines, and burned precious incense, praying to Buddha to give them
their heart's desire. Thus several days passed, but even so they
could not rest in their homes.
So again they set out for the bamboo-cutter's house. This time the
old man came out to see them, and they asked him to let them know if
it was the Princess's resolution never to see any man whatsoever,
and they implored him to speak for them and to tell her the
greatness of their love, and how long they had waited through the
cold of winter and the heat of summer, sleepless and roofless
through all weathers, without food and without rest, in the ardent
hope of winning her, and they were willing to consider this long
vigil as pleasure if she would but give them one chance of pleading
their cause with her.
The old man lent a willing ear to their tale of love, for in his
inmost heart he felt sorry for these faithful suitors and would have
liked to see his lovely foster-daughter married to one of them. So
he went in to Princess Moonlight and said reverently:
"Although you have always seemed to me to be a heavenly being, yet I
have had the trouble of bringing you up as my own child and you have
been glad of the protection of my roof. Will you refuse to do as I
Then Princess Moonlight replied that there was nothing she would not
do for him, that she honored and loved him as her own father, and
that as for herself she could not remember the time before she came
The old man listened with great joy as she spoke these dutiful
words. Then he told her how anxious he was to see her safely and
happily married before he died.
"I am an old man, over seventy years of age, and my end may come any
time now. It is necessary and right that you should see these five
suitors and choose one of them."
"Oh, why," said the Princess in distress, "must I do this? I have no
wish to marry now."
"I found you," answered the old man, "many years ago, when you were
a little creature three inches high, in the midst of a great white
light. The light streamed from the bamboo in which you were hid and
led me to you. So I have always thought that you were more than
mortal woman. While I am alive it is right for you to remain as you
are if you wish to do so, but some day I shall cease to be and who
will take care of you then? Therefore I pray you to meet these five
brave men one at a time and make up your mind to marry one of them!"
Then the Princess answered that she felt sure that she was not as
beautiful as perhaps report made her out to be, and that even if she
consented to marry any one of them, not really knowing her before,
his heart might change afterwards. So as she did not feel sure of
them, even though her father told her they were worthy Knights, she
did not feel it wise to see them.
"All you say is very reasonable," said the old man, "but what kind
of men will you consent to see? I do not call these five men who
have waited on you for months, light-hearted. They have stood
outside this house through the winter and the summer, often denying
themselves food and sleep so that they may win you. What more can
Then Princess Moonlight said she must make further trial of their
love before she would grant their request to interview her. The five
warriors were to prove their love by each bringing her from distant
countries something that she desired to possess.
That same evening the suitors arrived and began to play their flutes
in turn, and to sing their self-composed songs telling of their
great and tireless love. The bamboo-cutter went out to them and
offered them his sympathy for all they had endured and all the
patience they had shown in their desire to win his foster-daughter.
Then he gave them her message, that she would consent to marry
whosoever was successful in bringing her what she wanted. This was
to test them.
The five all accepted the trial, and thought it an excellent plan,
for it would prevent jealousy between them.
Princess Moonlight then sent word to the First Knight that she
requested him to bring her the stone bowl which had belonged to
Buddha in India.
The Second Knight was asked to go to the Mountain of Horai, said to
be situated in the Eastern Sea, and to bring her a branch of the
wonderful tree that grew on its summit. The roots of this tree were
of silver, the trunk of gold, and the branches bore as fruit white
The Third Knight was told to go to China and search for the fire-rat
and to bring her its skin.
The Fourth Knight was told to search for the dragon that carried on
its head the stone radiating five colors and to bring the stone to
The Fifth Knight was to find the swallow which carried a shell in
its stomach and to bring the shell to her.
The old man thought these very hard tasks and hesitated to carry the
messages, but the Princess would make no other conditions. So her
commands were issued word for word to the five men who, when they
heard what was required of them, were all disheartened and disgusted
at what seemed to them the impossibility of the tasks given them and
returned to their own homes in despair.
But after a time, when they thought of the Princess, the love in
their hearts revived for her, and they resolved to make an attempt
to get what she desired of them.
The First Knight sent word to the Princess that he was starting out
that day on the quest of Buddha's bowl, and he hoped soon to bring
it to her. But he had not the courage to go all the way to India,
for in those days traveling was very difficult and full of danger,
so he went to one of the temples in Kyoto and took a stone bowl from
the altar there, paying the priest a large sum of money for it. He
then wrapped it in a cloth of gold and, waiting quietly for three
years, returned and carried it to the old man.
Princess Moonlight wondered that the Knight should have returned so
soon. She took the bowl from its gold wrapping, expecting it to make
the room full of light, but it did not shine at all, so she knew
that it was a sham thing and not the true bowl of Buddha. She
returned it at once and refused to see him. The Knight threw the
bowl away and returned to his home in despair. He gave up now all
hopes of ever winning the Princess.
The Second Knight told his parents that he needed change of air for
his health, for he was ashamed to tell them that love for the
Princess Moonlight was the real cause of his leaving them. He then
left his home, at the same time sending word to the Princess that he
was setting out for Mount Horai in the hope of getting her a branch
of the gold and silver tree which she so much wished to have. He
only allowed his servants to accompany him half-way, and then sent
them back. He reached the seashore and embarked on a small ship, and
after sailing away for three days he landed and employed several
carpenters to build him a house contrived in such a way that no one
could get access to it. He then shut himself up with six skilled
jewelers, and endeavored to make such a gold and silver branch as he
thought would satisfy the Princess as having come from the wonderful
tree growing on Mount Horai. Every one whom he had asked declared
that Mount Horai belonged to the land of fable and not to fact.
When the branch was finished, he took his journey home and tried to
make himself look as if he were wearied and worn out with travel. He
put the jeweled branch into a lacquer box and carried it to the
bamboo-cutter, begging him to present it to the Princess.
The old man was quite deceived by the travel-stained appearance of
the Knight, and thought that he had only just returned from his long
journey with the branch. So he tried to persuade the Princess to
consent to see the man. But she remained silent and looked very sad.
The old man began to take out the branch and praised it as a
wonderful treasure to be found nowhere in the whole land. Then he
spoke of the Knight, how handsome and how brave he was to have
undertaken a journey to so remote a place as the Mount of Horai.
Princess Moonlight took the branch in her hand and looked at it
carefully. She then told her foster-parent that she knew it was
impossible for the man to have obtained a branch from the gold and
silver tree growing on Mount Horai so quickly or so easily, and she
was sorry to say she believed it artificial.
The old man then went out to the expectant Knight, who had now
approached the house, and asked where he had found the branch. Then
the man did not scruple to make up a long story.
"Two years ago I took a ship and started in search of Mount Horai.
After going before the wind for some time I reached the far Eastern
Sea. Then a great storm arose and I was tossed about for many days,
losing all count of the points of the compass, and finally we were
blown ashore on an unknown island. Here I found the place inhabited
by demons who at one time threatened to kill and eat me. However, I
managed to make friends with these horrible creatures, and they
helped me and my sailors to repair the boat, and I set sail again.
Our food gave out, and we suffered much from sickness on board. At
last, on the five-hundredth day from the day of starting, I saw far
off on the horizon what looked like the peak of a mountain. On
nearer approach, this proved to be an island, in the center of which
rose a high mountain. I landed, and after wandering about for two or
three days, I saw a shining being coming towards me on the beach,
holding in his hands a golden bowl. I went up to him and asked him
if I had, by good chance, found the island of Mount Horai, and he
"'Yes, this is Mount Horai!'"
"With much difficulty I climbed to the summit, here stood the golden
tree growing with silver roots in the ground. The wonders of that
strange land are many, and if I began to tell you about them I could
never stop. In spite of my wish to stay there long, on breaking off
the branch I hurried back. With utmost speed it has taken me four
hundred days to get back, and, as you see, my clothes are still damp
from exposure on the long sea voyage. I have not even waited to
change my raiment, so anxious was I to bring the branch to the
Just at this moment the six jewelers, who had been employed on the
making of the branch, but not yet paid by the Knight, arrived at the
house and sent in a petition to the Princess to be paid for their
labor. They said that they had worked for over a thousand days
making the branch of gold, with its silver twigs and its jeweled
fruit, that was now presented to her by the Knight, but as yet they
had received nothing in payment. So this Knight's deception was thus
found out, and the Princess, glad of an escape from one more
importunate suitor, was only too pleased to send back the branch.
She called in the workmen and had them paid liberally, and they went
away happy. But on the way home they were overtaken by the
disappointed man. who beat them till they were nearly dead, for
letting out the secret, and they barely escaped with their lives.
The Knight then returned home, raging in his heart; and in despair
of ever winning the Princess gave up society and retired to a
solitary life among the mountains.
Now the Third Knight had a friend in China, so he wrote to him to
get the skin of the fire-rat. The virtue of any part of this animal
was that no fire could harm it. He promised his friend any amount of
money he liked to ask if only he could get him the desired article.
As soon as the news came that the ship on which his friend had
sailed home had come into port, he rode seven days on horseback to
meet him. He handed his friend a large sum of money, and received
the fire-rat's skin. When he reached home he put it carefully in a
box and sent it in to the Princess while he waited outside for her
The bamboo-cutter took the box from the Knight and, as usual,
carried it in to her and tried to coax her to see the Knight at
once, but Princess Moonlight refused, saying that she must first put
the skin to test by putting it into the fire. If it were the real
thing it would not burn. So she took off the crape wrapper and
opened the box, and then threw the skin into the fire. The skin
crackled and burnt up at once, and the Princess knew that this man
also had not fulfilled his word. So the Third Knight failed also.
Now the Fourth Knight was no more enterprising than the rest.
Instead of starting out on the quest of the dragon bearing on its
head the five-color-radiating jewel, he called all his servants
together and gave them the order to seek for it far and wide in
Japan and in China, and he strictly forbade any of them to return
till they had found it.
His numerous retainers and servants started out in different
directions, with no intention, however, of obeying what they
considered an impossible order. They simply took a holiday, went to
pleasant country places together, and grumbled at their master's
The Knight meanwhile, thinking that his retainers could not fail to
find the jewel, repaired to his house, and fitted it up beautifully
for the reception of the Princess, he felt so sure of winning her.
One year passed away in weary waiting, and still his men did not
return with the dragon-jewel. The Knight became desperate. He could
wait no longer, so taking with him only two men he hired a ship and
commanded the captain to go in search of the dragon; the captain and
the sailors refused to undertake what they said was an absurd
search, but the Knight compelled them at last to put out to sea.
When they had been but a few days out they encountered a great storm
which lasted so long that, by the time its fury abated, the Knight
had determined to give up the hunt of the dragon. They were at last
blown on shore, for navigation was primitive in those days. Worn out
with his travels and anxiety, the fourth suitor gave himself up to
rest. He had caught a very heavy cold, and had to go to bed with a
The governor of the place, hearing of his plight, sent messengers
with a letter inviting him to his house. While he was there thinking
over all his troubles, his love for the Princess turned to anger,
and he blamed her for all the hardships he had undergone. He thought
that it was quite probable she had wished to kill him so that she
might be rid of him, and in order to carry out her wish had sent him
upon his impossible quest.
At this point all the servants he had sent out to find the jewel
came to see him, and were surprised to find praise instead of
displeasure awaiting them. Their master told them that he was
heartily sick of adventure, and said that he never intended to go
near the Princess's house again in the future.
Like all the rest, the Fifth Knight failed in his quest--he could
not find the swallow's shell.
By this time the fame of Princess Moonlight's beauty had reached the
ears of the Emperor, and he sent one of the Court ladies to see if
she were really as lovely as report said; if so he would summon her
to the Palace and make her one of the ladies-in-waiting.
When the Court lady arrived, in spite of her father's entreaties,
Princess Moonlight refused to see her. The Imperial messenger
insisted, saying it was the Emperor's order. Then Princess Moonlight
told the old man that if she was forced to go to the Palace in
obedience to the Emperor's order, she would vanish from the earth.
When the Emperor was told of her persistence in refusing to obey his
summons, and that if pressed to obey she would disappear altogether
from sight, he determined to go and see her. So he planned to go on
a hunting excursion in the neighborhood of the bamboo-cutter's
house, and see the Princess himself. He sent word to the old man of
his intention, and he received consent to the scheme. The next day
the Emperor set out with his retinue, which he soon managed to
outride. He found the bamboo-cutter's house and dismounted. He then
entered the house and went straight to where the Princess was
sitting with her attendant maidens.
Never had he seen any one so wonderfully beautiful, and he could not
but look at her, for she was more lovely than any human being as she
shone in her own soft radiance. When Princess Moonlight became aware
that a stranger was looking at her she tried to escape from the
room, but the Emperor caught her and begged her to listen to what he
had to say. Her only answer was to hide her face in her sleeves.
The Emperor fell deeply in love with her, and begged her to come to
the Court, where he would give her a position of honor and
everything she could wish for. He was about to send for one of the
Imperial palanquins to take her back with him at once, saying that
her grace and beauty should adorn a Court, and not be hidden in a
But the Princess stopped him. She said that if she were forced to go
to the Palace she would turn at once into a shadow, and even as she
spoke she began to lose her form. Her figure faded from his sight
while he looked.
The Emperor then promised to leave her free if only she would resume
her former shape, which she did.
It was now time for him to return, for his retinue would be
wondering what had happened to their Royal master when they missed
him for so long. So be bade her good-by, and left the house with a
sad heart. Princess Moonlight was for him the most beautiful woman
in the world; all others were dark beside her, and he thought of her
night and day. His Majesty now spent much of his time in writing
poems, telling her of his love and devotion, and sent them to her,
and though she refused to see him again she answered with many
verses of her own composing, which told him gently and kindly that
she could never marry any one on this earth. These little songs
always gave him pleasure.
At this time her foster-parents noticed that night after night the
Princess would sit on her balcony and gaze for hours at the moon, in
a spirit of the deepest dejection, ending always in a burst of
tears. One night the old man found her thus weeping as if her heart
were broken, and he besought her to tell him the reason of her
With many tears she told him that he had guessed rightly when he
supposed her not to belong to this world--that she had in truth come
from the moon, and that her time on earth would soon be over. On the
fifteenth day of that very month of August her friends from the moon
would come to fetch her, and she would have to return. Her parents
were both there, but having spent a lifetime on the earth she had
forgotten them, and also the moon-world to which she belonged. It
made her weep, she said, to think of leaving her kind foster-
parents, and the home where she had been happy for so long.
When her attendants heard this they were very sad, and could not eat
or drink for sadness at the thought that the Princess was so soon to
The Emperor, as soon as the news was carried to him, sent messengers
to the house to find out if the report were true or not.
The old bamboo-cutter went out to meet the Imperial messengers. The
last few days of sorrow had told upon the old man; he had aged
greatly, and looked much more than his seventy years. Weeping
bitterly, he told them that the report was only too true, but he
intended, however, to make prisoners of the envoys from the moon,
and to do all he could to prevent the Princess from being carried
The men returned and told His Majesty all that had passed. On the
fifteenth day of that month the Emperor sent a guard of two thousand
warriors to watch the house. One thousand stationed themselves on
the roof, another thousand kept watch round all the entrances of the
house. All were well trained archers, with bows and arrows. The
bamboo-cutter and his wife hid Princess Moonlight in an inner room.
The old man gave orders that no one was to sleep that night, all in
the house were to keep a strict watch, and be ready to protect the
Princess. With these precautions, and the help of the Emperor's men-
at-arms, he hoped to withstand the moon-messengers, but the Princess
told him that all these measures to keep her would be useless, and
that when her people came for her nothing whatever could prevent
them from carrying out their purpose. Even the Emperors men would be
powerless. Then she added with tears that she was very, very sorry
to leave him and his wife, whom she had learned to love as her
parents, that if she could do as she liked she would stay with them
in their old age, and try to make some return for all the love and
kindness they had showered upon her during all her earthly life.
The night wore on! The yellow harvest moon rose high in the heavens,
flooding the world asleep with her golden light. Silence reigned
over the pine and the bamboo forests, and on the roof where the
thousand men-at-arms waited.
Then the night grew gray towards the dawn and all hoped that the
danger was over--that Princess Moonlight would not have to leave
them after all. Then suddenly the watchers saw a cloud form round
the moon--and while they looked this cloud began to roll earthwards.
Nearer and nearer it came, and every one saw with dismay that its
course lay towards the house.
In a short time the sky was entirely obscured, till at last the
cloud lay over the dwelling only ten feet off the ground. In the
midst of the cloud there stood a flying chariot, and in the chariot
a band of luminous beings. One amongst them who looked like a king
and appeared to be the chief stepped out of the chariot, and, poised
in air, called to the old man to come out.
"The time has come," he said, "for Princess Moonlight to return to
the moon from whence she came. She committed a grave fault, and as a
punishment was sent to live down here for a time. We know what good
care you have taken of the Princess, and we have rewarded you for
this and have sent you wealth and prosperity. We put the gold in the
bamboos for you to find."
"I have brought up this Princess for twenty years and never once has
she done a wrong thing, therefore the lady you are seeking cannot be
this one," said the old man. "I pray you to look elsewhere."
Then the messenger called aloud, saying:
"Princess Moonlight, come out from this lowly dwelling. Rest not
here another moment,"
At these words the screens of the Princess's room slid open of their
own accord, revealing the Princess shining in her own radiance,
bright and wonderful and full of beauty.
The messenger led her forth and placed her in the chariot. She
looked back, and saw with pity the deep sorrow of the old man. She
spoke to him many comforting words, and told him that it was not her
will to leave him and that he must always think of her when looking
at the moon.
The bamboo-cutter implored to be allowed to accompany her, but this
was not allowed. The Princess took off her embroidered outer garment
and gave it to him as a keepsake.
One of the moon beings in the chariot held a wonderful coat of
wings, another had a phial full of the Elixir of Life which was
given the Princess to drink. She swallowed a little and was about to
give the rest to the old man, but she was prevented from doing so.
The robe of wings was about to be put upon her shoulders, but she
"Wait a little. I must not forget my good friend the Emperor. I must
write him once more to say good-by while still in this human form."
In spite of the impatience of the messengers and charioteers she
kept them waiting while she wrote. She placed the phial of the
Elixir of Life with the letter, and, giving them to the old man, she
asked him to deliver them to the Emperor.
Then the chariot began to roll heavenwards towards the moon, and as
they all gazed with tearful eyes at the receding Princess, the dawn
broke, and in the rosy light of day the moon-chariot and all in it
were lost amongst the fleecy clouds that were now wafted across the
sky on the wings of the morning wind.
Princess Moonlight's letter was carried to the Palace. His Majesty
was afraid to touch the Elixir of Life, so he sent it with the
letter to the top of the most sacred mountain in the land. Mount
Fuji, and there the Royal emissaries burnt it on the summit at
sunrise. So to this day people say there is smoke to be seen rising
from the top of Mount Fuji to the clouds.
THE MIRROR OF MATSUYAMA
A STORY OF OLD JAPAN.
Long years ago in old Japan there lived in the Province of Echigo, a
very remote part of Japan even in these days, a man and his wife.
When this story begins they had been married for some years and were
blessed with one little daughter. She was the joy and pride of both
their lives, and in her they stored an endless source of happiness
for their old age.
What golden letter days in their memory were these that had marked
her growing up from babyhood; the visit to the temple when she was
just thirty days old, her proud mother carrying her, robed in
ceremonial kimono, to be put under the patronage of the family's
household god; then her first dolls festival, when her parents gave
her a set of dolls' and their miniature belongings, to be added to
as year succeeded year; and perhaps the most important occasion of
all, on her third birthday, when her first OBI (broad brocade sash)
of scarlet and gold was tied round her small waist, a sign that she
had crossed the threshold of girlhood and left infancy behind. Now
that she was seven years of age, and had learned to talk and to wait
upon her parents in those several little ways so dear to the hearts
of fond parents, their cup of happiness seemed full. There could not
be found in the whole of the Island Empire a happier little family.
One day there was much excitement in the home, for the father had
been suddenly summoned to the capital on business. In these days of
railways and jinrickshas and other rapid modes of traveling, it is
difficult to realize what such a journey as that from Matsuyama to
Kyoto meant. The roads were rough and bad, and ordinary people had
to walk every step of the way, whether the distance were one hundred
or several hundred miles. Indeed, in those days it was as great an
undertaking to go up to the capital as it is for a Japanese to make
a voyage to Europe now.
So the wife was very anxious while she helped her husband get ready
for the long journey, knowing what an arduous task lay before him.
Vainly she wished that she could accompany him, but the distance was
too great for the mother and child to go, and besides that, it was
the wife's duty to take care of the home.
All was ready at last, and the husband stood in the porch with his
little family round him.
"Do not be anxious, I will come back soon," said the man. "While I
am away take care of everything, and especially of our little
"Yes. we shall be all right--but you--you must take care of yourself
and delay not a day in coming back to us," said the wife, while the
tears fell like rain from her eyes.
The little girl was the only one to smile, for she was ignorant of
the sorrow of parting, and did not know that going to the capital
was at all different from walking to the next village, which her
father did very often. She ran to his side, and caught hold of his
long sleeve to keep him a moment.
"Father, I will be very good while I am waiting for you to come
back, so please bring me a present."
As the father turned to take a last look at his weeping wife and
smiling, eager child, he felt as if some one were pulling him back
by the hair, so hard was it for him to leave them behind, for they
had never been separated before. But he knew that he must go, for
the call was imperative. With a great effort he ceased to think, and
resolutely turning away he went quickly down the little garden and
out through the gate. His wife, catching up the child in her arms,
ran as far as the gate, and watched him as he went down the road
between the pines till he was lost in the haze of the distance and
all she could see was his quaint peaked hat, and at last that
"Now father has gone, you and I must take care of everything till he
comes back," said the mother, as she made her way back to the house.
"Yes, I will be very good," said the child, nodding her head, "and
when father comes home please tell him how good I have been, and
then perhaps he will give me a present."
"Father is sure to bring you something that you want very much. I
know, for I asked him to bring you a doll. You must think of father
every day, and pray for a safe journey till he comes back."
"O, yes, when he comes home again how happy I shall be," said the
child, clapping her hands, and her face growing bright with joy at
the glad thought. It seemed to the mother as she looked at the
child's face that her love for her grew deeper and deeper.
Then she set to work to make the winter clothes for the three of
them. She set up her simple wooden spinning-wheel and spun the
thread before she began to weave the stuffs. In the intervals of her
work she directed the little girl's games and taught her to read the
old stories of her country. Thus did the wife find consolation in
work during the lonely days of her husband's absence. While the time
was thus slipping quickly by in the quiet home, the husband finished
his business and returned.
It would have been difficult for any one who did not know the man
well to recognize him. He had traveled day after day, exposed to all
weathers, for about a month altogether, and was sunburnt to bronze,
but his fond wife and child knew him at a glance, and flew to meet
him from either side, each catching hold of one of his sleeves in
their eager greeting. Both the man and his wife rejoiced to find
each other well. It seemed a very long time to all till--the mother
and child helping--his straw sandals were untied, his large umbrella
hat taken off, and he was again in their midst in the old familiar
sitting-room that had been so empty while he was away.
As soon as they had sat down on the white mats, the father opened a
bamboo basket that he had brought in with him, and took out a
beautiful doll and a lacquer box full of cakes.
"Here," he said to the little girl, "is a present for you. It is a
prize for taking care of mother and the house so well while I was
"Thank you," said the child, as she bowed her head to the ground,
and then put out her hand just like a little maple leaf with its
eager wide-spread fingers to take the doll and the box, both of
which, coming from the capital, were prettier than anything she had
ever seen. No words can tell how delighted the little girl was--her
face seemed as if it would melt with joy, and she had no eyes and no
thought for anything else.
Again the husband dived into the basket, and brought out this time a
square wooden box, carefully tied up with red and white string, and
handing it to his wife, said:
"And this is for you."
The wife took the box, and opening it carefully took out a metal
disk with a handle attached. One side was bright and shining like a
crystal, and the other was covered with raised figures of pine-trees
and storks, which had been carved out of its smooth surface in
lifelike reality. Never had she seen such a thing in her life, for
she had been born and bred in the rural province of Echigo. She
gazed into the shining disk, and looking up with surprise and wonder
pictured on her face, she said:
"I see somebody looking at me in this round thing! What is it that
you have given me "
The husband laughed and said:
"Why, it is your own face that you see. What I have brought you is
called a mirror, and whoever looks into its clear surface can see
their own form reflected there. Although there are none to be found
in this out of the way place, yet they have been in use in the
capital from the most ancient times. There the mirror is considered
a very necessary requisite for a woman to possess. There is an old
proverb that 'As the sword is the soul of a samurai, so is the
mirror the soul of a woman,' and according to popular tradition, a
woman's mirror is an index to her own heart--if she keeps it bright
and clear, so is her heart pure and good. It is also one of the
treasures that form the insignia of the Emperor. So you must lay
great store by your mirror, and use it carefully."
The wife listened to all her husband told her, and was pleased at
learning so much that was new to her. She was still more pleased at
the precious gift--his token of remembrance while he had been away.
"If the mirror represents my soul, I shall certainly treasure it as
a valuable possession, and never will I use it carelessly." Saying
so, she lifted it as high as her forehead, in grateful
acknowledgment of the gift, and then shut it up in its box and put
The wife saw that her husband was very tired, and set about serving
the evening meal and making everything as comfortable as she could
for him. It seemed to the little family as if they had not known
what true happiness was before, so glad were they to be together
again, and this evening the father had much to tell of his journey
and of all he had seen at the great capital.
Time passed away in the peaceful home, and the parents saw their
fondest hopes realized as their daughter grew from childhood into a
beautiful girl of sixteen. As a gem of priceless value is held in
its proud owner's hand, so had they reared her with unceasing love
and care: and now their pains were more than doubly rewarded. What a
comfort she was to her mother as she went about the house taking her
part in the housekeeping, and how proud her father was of her, for
she daily reminded him of her mother when he had first married her.
But, alas! in this world nothing lasts forever. Even the moon is not
always perfect in shape, but loses its roundness with time, and
flowers bloom and then fade. So at last the happiness of this family
was broken up by a great sorrow. The good and gentle wife and mother
was one day taken ill.
In the first days of her illness the father and daughter thought
that it was only a cold, and were not particularly anxious. But the
days went by and still the mother did not get better; she only grew
worse, and the doctor was puzzled, for in spite of all he did the
poor woman grew weaker day by day. The father and daughter were
stricken with grief, and day or night the girl never left her
mother's side. But in spite of all their efforts the woman's life
was not to be saved.
One day as the girl sat near her mother's bed, trying to hide with a
cheery smile the gnawing trouble at her heart, the mother roused
herself and taking her daughter's hand, gazed earnestly and lovingly
into her eyes. Her breath was labored and she spoke with difficulty:
"My daughter. I am sure that nothing can save me now. When I am
dead, promise me to take care of your dear father and to try to be a
good and dutiful woman."
"Oh, mother," said the girl as the tears rushed to her eyes, "you
must not say such things. All you have to do is to make haste and
get well--that will bring the greatest happiness to father and
"Yes, I know, and it is a comfort to me in my last days to know how
greatly you long for me to get better, but it is not to be. Do not
look so sorrowful, for it was so ordained in my previous state of
existence that I should die in this life just at this time; knowing
this, I am quite resigned to my fate. And now I have something to
give you whereby to remember me when I am gone."
Putting her hand out, she took from the side of the pillow a square
wooden box tied up with a silken cord and tassels. Undoing this very
carefully, she took out of the box the mirror that her husband had
given her years ago.
"When you were still a little child your father went up to the
capital and brought me back as a present this treasure; it is called
a mirror. This I give you before I die. If, after I have ceased to
be in this life, you are lonely and long to see me sometimes, then
take out this mirror and in the clear and shining surface you will
always see me--so will you be able to meet with me often and tell me
all your heart; and though I shall not be able to speak, I shall
understand and sympathize with you, whatever may happen to you in
the future." With these words the dying woman handed the mirror to
The mind of the good mother seemed to be now at rest, and sinking
back without another word her spirit passed quietly away that day.
The bereaved father and daughter were wild with grief, and they
abandoned themselves to their bitter sorrow. They felt it to be
impossible to take leave of the loved woman who till now had filled
their whole lives and to commit her body to the earth. But this
frantic burst of grief passed, and then they took possession of
their own hearts again, crushed though they were in resignation. In
spite of this the daughter's life seemed to her desolate. Her love
for her dead mother did not grow less with time, and so keen was her
remembrance, that everything in daily life, even the falling of the
rain and the blowing of the wind, reminded her of her mother's death
and of all that they had loved and shared together. One day when her
father was out, and she was fulfilling her household duties alone,
her loneliness and sorrow seemed more than she could bear. She threw
herself down in her mother's room and wept as if her heart would
break. Poor child, she longed just for one glimpse of the loved
face, one sound of the voice calling her pet name, or for one
moment's forgetfulness of the aching void in her heart. Suddenly she
sat up. Her mother's last words had rung through her memory hitherto
dulled by grief.
"Oh! my mother told me when she gave me the mirror as a parting
gift, that whenever I looked into it I should be able to meet her--
to see her. I had nearly forgotten her last words--how stupid I am;
I will get the mirror now and see if it can possibly be true!"
She dried her eyes quickly, and going to the cupboard took out the
box that contained the mirror, her heart beating with expectation as
she lifted the mirror out and gazed into its smooth face. Behold,
her mother's words were true! In the round mirror before her she saw
her mother's face; but, oh, the joyful surprise! It was not her
mother thin and wasted by illness, but the young and beautiful woman
as she remembered her far back in the days of her own earliest
childhood. It seemed to the girl that the face in the mirror must
soon speak, almost that she heard the voice of her mother telling
her again to grow up a good woman and a dutiful daughter, so
earnestly did the eyes in the mirror look back into her own.
"It is certainly my mother's soul that I see. She knows how
miserable I am without her and she has come to comfort me. Whenever
I long to see her she will meet me here; how grateful I ought to
And from this time the weight of sorrow was greatly lightened for
her young heart. Every morning, to gather strength for the day's
duties before her, and every evening, for consolation before she lay
down to rest, did the young girl take out the mirror and gaze at the
reflection which in the simplicity of her innocent heart she
believed to be her mother's soul. Daily she grew in the likeness of
her dead mother's character, and was gentle and kind to all, and a
dutiful daughter to her father.
A year spent in mourning had thus passed away in the little
household, when, by the advice of his relations, the man married
again, and the daughter now found herself under the authority of a
step-mother. It was a trying position; but her days spent in the
recollection of her own beloved mother, and of trying to be what
that mother would wish her to be, had made the young girl docile and
patient, and she now determined to be filial and dutiful to her
father's wife, in all respects. Everything went on apparently
smoothly in the family for some time under the new regime; there
were no winds or waves of discord to ruffle the surface of every-day
life, and the father was content.
But it is a woman's danger to be petty and mean, and step-mothers
are proverbial all the world over, and this one's heart was not as
her first smiles were. As the days and weeks grew into months, the
step-mother began to treat the motherless girl unkindly and to try
and come between the father and child.
Sometimes she went to her husband and complained of her step-
daughter's behavior, but the father knowing that this was to be
expected, took no notice of her ill-natured complaints. Instead of
lessening his affection for his daughter, as the woman desired, her
grumblings only made him think of her the more. The woman soon saw
that he began to show more concern for his lonely child than before.
This did not please her at all, and she began to turn over in her
mind how she could, by some means or other, drive her step-child out
of the house. So crooked did the woman's heart become.
She watched the girl carefully, and one day peeping into her room in
the early morning, she thought she discovered a grave enough sin of
which to accuse the child to her father. The woman herself was a
little frightened too at what she had seen.
So she went at once to her husband, and wiping away some false tears
she said in a sad voice:
"Please give me permission to leave you today."
The man was completely taken by surprise at the suddenness of her
request, and wondered whatever was the matter.
"Do you find it so disagreeable," he asked, "in my house, that you
can stay no longer?"
"No! no! it has nothing to do with you--even in my dreams I have
never thought that I wished to leave your side; but if I go on
living here I am in danger of losing my life, so I think it best for
all concerned that you should allow me to go home!"
And the woman began to weep afresh. Her husband, distressed to see
her so unhappy, and thinking that he could not have heard aright,
"Tell me what you mean! How is your life in danger here?"
"I will tell you since you ask me. Your daughter dislikes me as her
step-mother. For some time past she has shut herself up in her room
morning and evening, and looking in as I pass by, I am convinced
that she has made an image of me and is trying to kill me by magic
art, cursing me daily. It is not safe for me to stay here, such
being the case; indeed, indeed, I must go away, we cannot live under
the same roof any more."
The husband listened to the dreadful tale, but he could not believe
his gentle daughter guilty of such an evil act. He knew that by
popular superstition people believed that one person could cause the
gradual death of another by making an image of the hated one and
cursing it daily; but where had his young daughter learned such
knowledge?--the thing was impossible. Yet he remembered having
noticed that his daughter stayed much in her room of late and kept
herself away from every one, even when visitors came to the house.
Putting this fact together with his wife's alarm, he thought that
there might be something to account for the strange story.
His heart was torn between doubting his wife and trusting his child,
and he knew not what to do. He decided to go at once to his daughter
and try to find out the truth. Comforting his wife and assuring her
that her fears were groundless, he glided quietly to his daughter's
The girl had for a long time past been very unhappy. She had tried
by amiability and obedience to show her goodwill and to mollify the
new wife, and to break down that wall of prejudice and
misunderstanding that she knew generally stood between step-parents
and their step-children. But she soon found that her efforts were in
vain. The step-mother never trusted her, and seemed to misinterpret
all her actions, and the poor child knew very well that she often
carried unkind and untrue tales to her father. She could not help
comparing her present unhappy condition with the time when her own
mother was alive only a little more than a year ago--so great a
change in this short time! Morning and evening she wept over the
remembrance. Whenever she could she went to her room, and sliding
the screens to, took out the mirror and gazed, as she thought, at
her mother's face. It was the only comfort that she had in these
Her father found her occupied in this way. Pushing aside the fusama,
he saw her bending over something or other very intently. Looking
over her shoulder, to see who was entering her room, the girl was
surprised to see her father, for he generally sent for her when he
wished to speak to her. She was also confused at being found looking
at the mirror, for she had never told any one of her mother's last
promise, but had kept it as the sacred secret of her heart. So
before turning to her father she slipped the mirror into her long
sleeve. Her father noting her confusion, and her act of hiding
something, said in a severe manner:
"Daughter, what are you doing here? And what is that that you have
hidden in your sleeve?"
The girl was frightened by her father's severity. Never had he
spoken to her in such a tone. Her confusion changed to apprehension,
her color from scarlet to white. She sat dumb and shamefaced, unable
Appearances were certainly against her; the young girl looked
guilty, and the father thinking that perhaps after all what his wife
had told him was true, spoke angrily:
"Then, is it really true that you are daily cursing your step-mother
and praying for her death? Have you forgotten what I told you, that
although she is your step-mother you must he obedient and loyal to
her? What evil spirit has taken possession of your heart that you
should be so wicked? You have certainly changed, my daughter! What
has made you so disobedient and unfaithful?"
And the father's eyes filled with sudden tears to think that he
should have to upbraid his daughter in this way.
She on her part did not know what he meant, for she had never heard
of the superstition that by praying over an image it is possible to
cause the death of a hated person. But she saw that she must speak
and clear herself somehow. She loved her father dearly, and could
not bear the idea of his anger. She put out her hand on his knee
"Father! father! do not say such dreadful things to me. I am still
your obedient child. Indeed, I am. However stupid I may be, I should
never be able to curse any one who belonged to you, much less pray
for the death of one you love. Surely some one has been telling you
lies, and you are dazed, and you know not what you say--or some evil
spirit has taken possession of YOUR heart. As for me I do not know--
no, not so much as a dew-drop, of the evil thing of which you accuse
But the father remembered that she had hidden something away when he
first entered the room, and even this earnest protest did not
satisfy him. He wished to clear up his doubts once for all.
"Then why are you always alone in your room these days? And tell me
what is that that you have hidden in your sleeve--show it to me at
Then the daughter, though shy of confessing how she had cherished
her mother's memory, saw that she must tell her father all in order
to clear herself. So she slipped the mirror out from her long sleeve
and laid it before him.
"This," she said, "is what you saw me looking at just now."
"Why," he said in great surprise." this is the mirror that I brought
as a gift to your mother when I went up to the capital many years
ago! And so you have kept it all this time? Now, why do you spend so
much of your time before this mirror?"
Then she told him of her mother's last words, and of how she had
promised to meet her child whenever she looked into the glass. But
still the father could not understand the simplicity of his
daughter's character in not knowing that what she saw reflected in
the mirror was in reality her own face, and not that of her mother.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I do not understand how you can meet
the soul of your lost mother by looking in this mirror?"
"It is indeed true," said the girl: "and if you don't believe what I
say, look for yourself," and she placed the mirror before her.
There, looking back from the smooth metal disk, was her own sweet
face. She pointed to the reflection seriously:
"Do you doubt me still?" she asked earnestly, looking up into his
With an exclamation of sudden understanding the father smote his two
"How stupid I am! At last I understand. Your face is as like your
mother's as the two sides of a melon--thus you have looked at the
reflection of your face ail this time, thinking that you were
brought face to face with your lost mother! You are truly a faithful
child. It seems at first a stupid thing to have done, but it is not
really so, It shows how deep has been your filialpiety, and how
innocent your heart. Living in constant remembrance of your lost
mother has helped you to grow like her in character. How clever it
was of her to tell you to do this. I admire and respect you, my
daughter, and I am ashamed to think that for one instant I believed
your suspicious step-mother's story and suspected you of evil, and
came with the intention of scolding you severely, while all this
time you have been so true and good. Before you I have no
countenance left, and I beg you to forgive me."
And here the father wept. He thought of how lonely the poor girl
must have been, and of all that she must have suffered under her
step-mother's treatment. His daughter steadfastly keeping her faith
and simplicity in the midst of such adverse circumstances--bearing
all her troubles with so much patience and amiability--made him
compare her to the lotus which rears its blossom of dazzling beauty
out of the slime and mud of the moats and ponds, fitting emblem of a
heart which keeps itself unsullied while passing through the world.
The step-mother, anxious to know what would happen, had all this
while been standing outside the room. She had grown interested, and
had gradually pushed the sliding screen back till she could see all
that went on. At this moment she suddenly entered the room, and
dropping to the mats, she bowed her head over her outspread hands
before her step-daughter.
"I am ashamed! I am ashamed!" she exclaimed in broken tones. "I did
not know what n filial child you were. Through no fault of yours,
but with a step-mother's jealous heart, I have disliked you all the
time. Hating you so much myself, it was but natural that I should
think you reciprocated the feeling, and thus when I saw you retire
so often to your room I followed you, and when I saw you gaze daily
into the mirror for long intervals, I concluded that you had found
out how I disliked you, and that you were out of revenge trying to
take my life by magic art. As long as I live I shall never forget
the wrong I have done you in so misjudging you, and in causing your
father to suspect you. From this day I throw away my old and wicked
heart, and in its place I put a new one, clean and full of
repentance. I shall think of you as a child that I have borne
myself. I shall love and cherish you with all my heart, and thus try
to make up for all the unhappiness I have caused you. Therefore,
please throw into the water all that has gone before, and give me, I
beg of you, some of the filial love that you have hitherto given to
your own lost mother."
Thus did the unkind step-mother humble herself and ask forgiveness
of the girl she had so wronged.
Such was the sweetness of the girl's disposition that she willingly
forgave her step-mother, and never bore a moment's resentment or
malice towards her afterwards. The father saw by his wife's face
that she was truly sorry for the past, and was greatly relieved to
see the terrible misunderstanding wiped out of remembrance by both
the wrong-doer and the wronged.
From this time on, the three lived together as happily as fish in
water. No such trouble ever darkened the home again, and the young
girl gradually forgot that year of unhappiness in the tender love
and care that her step-mother now bestowed on her. Her patience and
goodness were rewarded at last.
THE GOBLIN OF ADACHIGAHARA.
Long, long ago there was a large plain called Adachigahara, in the
province of Mutsu in Japan. This place was said to be haunted by a
cannibal goblin who took the form of an old woman. From time to time
many travelers disappeared and were never heard of more, and the old
women round the charcoal braziers in the evenings, and the girls
washing the household rice at the wells in the mornings, whispered
dreadful stories of how the missing folk had been lured to the
goblin's cottage and devoured, for the goblin lived only on human
flesh. No one dared to venture near the haunted spot after sunset,
and all those who could, avoided it in the daytime, and travelers
were warned of the dreaded place.
One day as the sun was setting, a priest came to the plain. He was a
belated traveler, and his robe showed that he was a Buddhist pilgrim
walking from shrine to shrine to pray for some blessing or to crave
for forgiveness of sins. He had apparently lost his way, and as it
was late he met no one who could show him the road or warn him of
the haunted spot.
He had walked the whole day and was now tired and hungry, and the
evenings were chilly, for it was late autumn, and he began to be
very anxious to find some house where he could obtain a night's
lodging. He found himself lost in the midst of the large plain, and
looked about in vain for some sign of human habitation.
At last, after wandering about for some hours, he saw a clump of
trees in the distance, and through the trees he caught sight of the
glimmer of a single ray of light. He exclaimed with joy:
"Oh. surely that is some cottage where I can get a night's lodging!"
Keeping the light before his eyes he dragged his weary, aching feet
as quickly as he could towards the spot, and soon came to a
miserable-looking little cottage. As he drew near he saw that it was
in a tumble-down condition, the bamboo fence was broken and weeds
and grass pushed their way through the gaps. The paper screens which
serve as windows and doors in Japan were full of holes, and the
posts of the house were bent with age and seemed scarcely able to
support the old thatched roof. The hut was open, and by the light of
an old lantern an old woman sat industriously spinning.
The pilgrim called to her across the bamboo fence and said:
"O Baa San (old woman), good evening! I am a traveler! Please excuse
me, but I have lost my way and do not know what to do, for I have
nowhere to rest to-night. I beg you to be good enough to let me
spend the night under your roof."
The old woman as soon as she heard herself spoken to stopped
spinning, rose from her seat and approached the intruder.
"I am very sorry for you. You must indeed be distressed to have lost
your way in such a lonely spot so late at night. Unfortunately I
cannot put you up, for I have no bed to offer you, and no
accommodation whatsoever for a guest in this poor place!"
"Oh, that does not matter," said the priest; "all I want is a
shelter under some roof for the night, and if you will be good
enough just to let me lie on the kitchen floor I shall be grateful.
I am too tired to walk further to-night, so I hope you will not
refuse me, otherwise I shall have to sleep out on the cold plain."
And in this way he pressed the old woman to let him stay.
She seemed very reluctant, but at last she said:
"Very well, I will let you stay here. I can offer you a very poor
welcome only, but come in now and I will make a fire, for the night
The pilgrim was only too glad to do as he was told. He took off his
sandals and entered the hut. The old woman then brought some sticks
of wood and lit the fire, and bade her guest draw near and warm
"You must be hungry after your long tramp," said the old woman. "I
will go and cook some supper for you." She then went to the kitchen
to cook some rice.
After the priest had finished his supper the old woman sat down by
the fire-place, and they talked together for a long time. The
pilgrim thought to himself that he had been very lucky to come
across such a kind, hospitable old woman. At last the wood gave out,
and as the fire died slowly down he began to shiver with cold just
as he had done when he arrived.
"I see you are cold," said the old woman; "I will go out and gather
some wood, for we have used it all. You must stay and take care of
the house while I am gone."
"No, no," said the pilgrim, "let me go instead, for you are old, and
I cannot think of letting you go out to get wood for me this cold
The old woman shook her head and said:
"You must stay quietly here, for you are my guest." Then she left
him and went out.
In a minute she came back and said:
"You must sit where you are and not move, and whatever happens don't
go near or look into the inner room. Now mind what I tell you!"
"If you tell me not to go near the back room, of course I won't,"
said the priest, rather bewildered.
The old woman then went out again, and the priest was left alone.
The fire had died out, and the only light in the hut was that of a
dim lantern. For the first time that night he began to feel that he
was in a weird place, and the old woman's words, "Whatever you do
don't peep into the back room," aroused his curiosity and his fear.
What hidden thing could be in that room that she did not wish him to
see? For some time the remembrance of his promise to the old woman
kept him still, but at last he could no longer resist his curiosity
to peep into the forbidden place.
He got up and began to move slowly towards the back room. Then the
thought that the old woman would be very angry with him if he
disobeyed her made him come back to his place by the fireside.
As the minutes went slowly by and the old woman did not return, he
began to feel more and more frightened, and to wonder what dreadful
secret was in the room behind him. He must find out.
"She will not know that I have looked unless I tell her. I will just
have a peep before she comes back," said the man to himself.
With these words he got up on his feet (for he had been sitting all
this time in Japanese fashion with his feet under him) and
stealthily crept towards the forbidden spot. With trembling hands he
pushed back the sliding door and looked in. What he saw froze the
blood in his veins. The room was full of dead men's bones and the
walls were splashed and the floor was covered with human blood. In
one corner skull upon skull rose to the ceiling, in another was a
heap of arm bones, in another a heap of leg bones. The sickening
smell made him faint. He fell backwards with horror, and for some
time lay in a heap with fright on the floor, a pitiful sight. He
trembled all over and his teeth chattered, and he could hardly crawl
away from the dreadful spot.
"How horrible!" he cried out. "What awful den have I come to in my
travels? May Buddha help me or I am lost. Is it possible that that
kind old woman is really the cannibal goblin? When she comes back
she will show herself in her true character and eat me up at one
With these words his strength came back to him and, snatching up his
hat and staff, he rushed out of the house as fast as his legs could
carry him. Out into the night he ran, his one thought to get as far
as he could from the goblin's haunt. He had not gone far when he
heard steps behind him and a voice crying: "Stop! stop!"
He ran on, redoubling his speed, pretending not to hear. As he ran
he heard the steps behind him come nearer and nearer, and at last he
recognized the old woman's voice which grew louder and louder as she
"Stop! stop, you wicked man, why did you look into the forbidden
The priest quite forgot how tired he was and his feet flew over the
ground faster than ever. Fear gave him strength, for he knew that if
the goblin caught him he would soon be one of her victims. With all
his heart he repeated the prayer to Buddha:
"Namu Amida Butsu, Namu Amida Butsu."
And after him rushed the dreadful old hag, her hair flying in the
wind, and her face changing with rage into the demon that she was.
In her hand she carried a large blood-stained knife, and she still
shrieked after him, "Stop! stop!"
At last, when the priest felt he could run no more, the dawn broke,
and with the darkness of night the goblin vanished and he was safe.
The priest now knew that he had met the Goblin of Adachigahara, the
story of whom he had often heard but never believed to be true. He
felt that he owed his wonderful escape to the protection of Buddha
to whom he had prayed for help, so he took out his rosary and bowing
his head as the sun rose he said his prayers and made his
thanksgiving earnestly. He then set forward for another part of the
country, only too glad to leave the haunted plain behind him.
THE SAGACIOUS MONKEY AND THE BOAR.
Long, long ago, there lived in the province of Shinshin in Japan, a
traveling monkey-man, who earned his living by taking round a monkey
and showing off the animal's tricks.
One evening the man came home in a very bad temper and told his wife
to send for the butcher the next morning.
The wife was very bewildered and asked her husband:
"Why do you wish me to send for the butcher?"
"It's no use taking that monkey round any longer, he's too old and
forgets his tricks. I beat him with my stick all I know how, but he
won't dance properly. I must now sell him to the butcher and make
what money out of him I can. There is nothing else to be done."
The woman felt very sorry for the poor little animal, and pleaded
for her husband to spare the monkey, but her pleading was all in
vain, the man was determined to sell him to the butcher.
Now the monkey was in the next room and overheard ever word of the
conversation. He soon understood that he was to be killed, and he
said to himself:
"Barbarous, indeed, is my master! Here I have served him faithfully
for years, and instead of allowing me to end my days comfortably and
in peace, he is going to let me be cut up by the butcher, and my
poor body is to be roasted and stewed and eaten? Woe is me! What am
I to do. Ah! a bright thought has struck me! There is, I know, a
wild bear living in the forest near by. I have often heard tell of
his wisdom. Perhaps if I go to him and tell him the strait I am in
he will give me his counsel. I will go and try."
There was no time to lose. The monkey slipped out of the house and
ran as quickly as he could to the forest to find the boar. The boar
was at home, and the monkey began his tale of woe at once.
"Good Mr. Boar, I have heard of your excellent wisdom. I am in great
trouble, you alone can help me. I have grown old in the service of
my master, and because I cannot dance properly now he intends to
sell me to the butcher. What do you advise me to do? I know how
clever you are!"
The boar was pleased at the flattery and determined to help the
monkey. He thought for a little while and then said:
"Hasn't your master a baby?"
"Oh, yes," said the monkey, "he has one infant son."
"Doesn't it lie by the door in the morning when your mistress begins
the work of the day? Well, I will come round early and when I see my
opportunity I will seize the child and run off with it."
"What then?" said the monkey.
"Why the mother will be in a tremendous scare, and before your
master and mistress know what to do, you must run after me and
rescue the child and take it home safely to its parents, and you
will see that when the butcher comes they won't have the heart to
The monkey thanked the boar many times and then went home. He did
not sleep much that night, as you may imagine, for thinking of the
morrow. His life depended on whether the boar's plan succeeded or
not. He was the first up, waiting anxiously for what was to happen.
It seemed to him a very long time before his master's wife began to
move about and open the shutters to let in the light of day. Then
all happened as the boar had planned. The mother placed her child
near the porch as usual while she tidied up the house and got her
The child was crooning happily in the morning sunlight, dabbing on
the mats at the play of light and shadow. Suddenly there was a noise
in the porch and a loud cry from the child. The mother ran out from
the kitchen to the spot, only just in time to see the boar
disappearing through the gate with her child in its clutch. She
flung out her hands with a loud cry of despair and rushed into the
inner room where her husband was still sleeping soundly.