Yei Theodora Ozaki.

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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

The Mirror of Matsuyama. 127

saw their fondest hopes realised 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 for ever. 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

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 laboured
and she spoke with difficulty:

My daughter, I am sure that nothing can save me now.


Japanese l ; airy Book.

\Vhen 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

The Mother roused herself and took her Daughter's Hand.

to make haste and get well that will bring the greatest
happiness to father and myself."

" 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

The Mirror of Matsuyama. 129

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 sympathise
with you, whatever may happen to you in the future." With these
words the dying woman handed the mirror to her daughter.

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 feit
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 pos-
session 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
F.B. K


Japanese Fairy Book.

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

In the round Mirror before her she saw her Mother's Face.

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.

The Mirror of Matsuyama. 131

" 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 remem-
bered 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 be ! '

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.

K 2

132 Japanese Fairy Book.

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 behaviour, 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 Mirror of Matsuyama. 133

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 to-day."

The man was completely taken by surprise at the sudden-
ness of her request, and wondered whatever was the matter.

11 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, dis-
tressed to see her so unhappy, and thinking that he could not
have heard aright, said :

" 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 sometime 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

134 Japanese Fairy Book.

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 everyone, 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

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 room.

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,

The Mirror of Matsuyama. 135

as she thought, at her mother's face. It was the only comfort
that she had in these wretched days.

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 anyone 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 seventy. Never
had he spoken to her in such a tone. Her confusion changed
to apprehension, her colour from scarlet to white. She sat
dumb and shamefaced, unable to reply.

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 be 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 ? "

136 Japanese Fairy Book.

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 deprecatingly :

" 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 anyone who
belonged to you, much less pray for the death of one you love.
Surely someone has been telling you lies, and you are dazed, and
you know not what you say or some evil spirit has taken pos-
session 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 me."

But her 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.

11 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 once."

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

The Mirror of Matsuyama 137

1 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 disc, was her
own sweet face. She pointed to the reflection seriously :

" Do you doubt me still ? " she asked earnestly, looking up
into his face.

With an exclamation of sudden understanding the father
smote his two hands together.

" 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 all 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 filial piety, and how innocent your heart. Living in
constant remembrance of your lost mother has helped you to

138 Japanese Fairy Book.

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 ali 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 a 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

The Mirror of Matsuyama. 139

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 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 wrongdoer 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.


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 travellers 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
travellers were warned of the dreaded place.

One day as the sun was setting, a priest came to the plain.
He was a belated traveller, 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.

The Goblin of Adachigahara.


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 :

He pressed the Old Woman to let him Stay, but she seemed very Reluctant.

" 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

142 Japanese Fairy Book.

he saw that it was in a tumble-down condition, the bamboo
fence was broken and weeds and grass pushed their way
tli rough 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 :

" Baa San (old woman), good evening! I am a traveller!
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 is cold."

The Goblin of Adachigahara. 143

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 himself.

" 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 fireplace, and they talked together for along 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 night ! '

The old woman shook her head and said :

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Online LibraryYei Theodora OzakiThe Japanese fairy book → online text (page 8 of 17)