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Japanese fairy tales


Long ago the river of Kashigoye flowed into the sea by the Marsh of the Terrible Dragons. The dragons were five, and yearly they came forth and devoured the maidens of the village and there was no way to hinder. But the people cried loudly to Benten Sama, the goddess of mothers, the bestower of love and beauty.
Now Benten Sama had many sons: Daikoku, who gives wealth, Ebisu, who is the god of fishermen, Hatei, who is full of mirth, and others equally renowned.
Of all these sons, Benten Sama loved Ebisu best, and for his sake all fishermen were dear to her. When, therefore, O Ume San, daughter of the headman of the village, besought the blessing of the gentle goddess upon her lover, a fisherman, Benten Sama listened.
"Goddess of Mercy," murmured the girl. "Send
thy blessing upon him, for my honorable father will not
consent to our union. He says, 'When the five Dragons
of the Marshlands are no more thou shalt marry this
fisher lad.' I pray you, gentle goddess, soften the heart
of my father, and may thy son Ebisu bestow his favor
upon Hakuga."
Benten Sama listened to the girl's prayer and smiled. She whispered to her son and he was kind. He filled Hakuga's nets with fish and these brought many yen. He then approached the father of O Ume San and besought of him his daughter, his Go-between' saying, "Honorably deign to listen to the prayer of Hakuga and give to him your daughter, for he has many yen!" But the father replied ever the same, "When the five Marsh Dragons are no more," and the Go-between returned sadly to Hakuga.
Then the maiden prayed again to Benten Sama and she said, "Kind Goddess, hear! Send some curse upon the five Marsh Dragons, that Hatei your son may bestow mirth upon us, for we are sad."
Then Benten Sama thought, and that which she thought was good. It was the time of the red maple leaf 2 and Tatsu Hima 3 ruled. Benten Sama asked her aid, as she flaunted her banners upon the hillside, and that night there came a fearful storm. The storm howled and shrieked, and all the people cowered in terror. All night it raged, and the thunder god gave five mighty roars, and at each roar a dragon lay dead.
And when the sun god lighted the world, all was still and smiling, the Marsh of the Dragons was gone, and in its stead rose an island, green and beautiful, and above it hovered Benten Sama, throned upon a rainbow.
Then were the people much pleased at their deliverance from the five Dragons of the Marsh, and they made a shrine to Benten Sama at that point where she had appeared.
And O Ume San married the fisherman and they lived happily ever after.