|Japanese fairy tales
THE COMING OF BENTEN SAMA
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.