Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 405 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.

From this story, it is plain that even beasts have a sense of gratitude:  in this quality dogs excel all other beasts.  Is not the story of the dog of Totoribe Yorodzu written in the Annals of Japan?  I[82] have heard that many anecdotes of this nature have been collected and printed in a book, which I have not yet seen; but as the facts which I have recorded relate to a badger, they appear to me to be passing strange.

[Footnote 82:  The author of the tale.]

THE PRINCE AND THE BADGER

In days of yore there lived a forefather of the Prince of Tosa who went by the name of Yamanouchi Kadzutoyo.  At the age of fourteen this prince was amazingly fond of fishing, and would often go down to the river for sport.  And it came to pass one day that he had gone thither with but one retainer, and had made a great haul, that a violent shower suddenly came on.  Now, the prince had no rain-coat with him, and was in so sorry a plight that he took shelter under a willow-tree and waited for the weather to clear; but the storm showed no sign of abating, and there was no help for it, so he turned to the retainer and said—­

“This rain is not likely to stop for some time, so we had better hurry home.”

As they trudged homeward, night fell, and it grew very dark; and their road lay over a long bank, by the side of which they found a girl, about sixteen years old, weeping bitterly.  Struck with wonder, they looked steadfastly at her, and perceived that she was exceedingly comely.  While Kadzutoyo stood doubting what so strange a sight could portend, his retainer, smitten with the girl’s charms, stepped up to her and said—­

“Little sister, tell us whose daughter you are, and how it comes that you are out by yourself at night in such a storm of rain.  Surely it is passing strange.”

“Sir,” replied she, looking up through her tears, “I am the daughter of a poor man in the castle town.  My mother died when I was seven years old, and my father has now wedded a shrew, who loathes and ill-uses me; and in the midst of my grief he is gone far away on his business, so I was left alone with my stepmother; and this very night she spited and beat me till I could bear it no longer, and was on my way to my aunt’s, who dwells in yonder village, when the shower came on; but as I lay waiting for the rain to stop, I was seized with a spasm, to which I am subject, and was in great pain, when I had the good luck to fall in with your worships.”

As she spoke, the retainer fell deeply in love with her matchless beauty, whilst his lord Kadzutoyo, who from the outset had not uttered a word, but stood brooding over the matter, straightway drew his sword and cut off her head.  But the retainer stood aghast, and cried out—­

“Oh! my young lord, what wicked deed is this that you’ve done?  The murder of a man’s daughter will bring trouble upon us, for you may rely on the business not ending here.”

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Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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