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Japanese fairy tales


Once an angel bore to earth the soul of a child. She bore it to a little bamboo house beside a bamboo tree, and there it received a loving welcome. Many friends gathered around to greet the little newcomer as soon as they saw the kite 1 fly up from before the house. Dear little kimonos were given the baby. One was of the finest silk and embroidered with the crane and the pine; for these mean long life in Japan.
The angel loved the little child she had brought, and she tarried long at the window of the little bamboo house among the trees and flowers. She felt glad that she had brought the little one to such a happy home.
She had left her robe in the trees; for it had caught there in her flight, and she had not waited to remove it. A fisherman passing by, saw the beautiful, floating silk and, loosening it, he said, "This is a very pretty thing. I have never seen anything like it before. I shall take it to my sweetheart."
The angel heard him as she floated through the air, 47
and she cried, "I pray you, sir, give me back my robe! I may not return to heaven without it!"
"Do not return, fair one," he replied, dazzled by her radiant beauty. "Stay here upon the earth and delight us all with your grace."
"Not so, not so," she cried in fear. "Know you not that an angel may not stay long on earth and live! Her beauty fades, her soul grows sick within her, and soon she is no more. Give me my robe and let me return, for I pine for the pearly gates and the golden streets."
"I will return it if you will dance for me," said the fisherman; and the angel consented.
"First give me my robe that my dance may be more perfect," she said.
"No, no, my beauty," he answered, "for then you will fly away and I shall never see you dance."
"Fie upon you, base mortal! Deceit was born of man; the heavens know it not!" she said in displeasure.
Then the fisherman was much ashamed and gave her the robe; and she danced for him a dance of wonderful grace and beauty, such as mortal had never dreamed of before. He wished to gaze forever at the lovely, floating being. The moonlight shone upon her, bathing her in silvery light, beneath the feathery bamboo,
with snow-capped Fuji above the clouds, calm and serene.
While she danced, visions of heaven came .to the fisherman, and when she was wafted from his sight by a snowy cloud, he sank upon the ground and, covering his face with his hands, he wept bitterly, as he cried, "Alas! alas! Nevermore will things of earth seem fair!"