|Japanese fairy tales
THE DREAM OF THE GOLDEN BOX
Hojo Tokimasa had two daughters. Musako, the elder, was as beautiful as
the eight beauties of Omi. Her hair was as black as polished ebony, her
eyes were deep and dark and full of fire, her skin was smooth as ivory.
She was clever, too, as well as beautiful. But her sister Ume was the
favorite of her father.
Ume was sweet and gentle and her father thought to marry her well, though she. had not her sister's beauty.
One night, Ume dreamed a good-luck dream, that a bird brought her a
golden box, and she told her sister, while she arranged the elder's
ebon locks in the early morning.
"That is a dream of good omen," said Musako. "Give it to me and I will
give you in return my golden mirror, into which I have so often gazed."
Now little Ume did not wish to part with her goodluck dream at all;
but, more than anything in the world, she desired to share her sister's
beauty. So she said, as she thrust a superb jade hairpin into place, "I
will give you the dream, fair sister, and may it bring you good
fortune; and so may I, gazing into your mirror, gain some of your
radiant beauty, for to you the gods have been kind."
Musako smiled at the flattery, and thought much all day upon the happy dream.
Late in the twilight, when the moon shone through the flowering plum
tree and the fragrance of the plum blossoms stole over the garden, and
the nightingale sang of love in the branches, there came a bold knock
at the castle gate.
When the gate was opened and the stranger bidden welcome in the name of
the god of hospitality, he spoke simply, "I am Yoritomo. The men of the
Taira pursue me, and Kiyomori, their chief, has slain my father and
many of my father's house. You are my father's friend. Of you I ask
"You are welcome," said Hojo. "Abide with us until safety awaits you without."
Then Yoritomo thanked him and did remain. Ere long he sent his retainer
into Hojo's presence to act as go-between, and ask him for the hand of
his daughter Ume. He had seen her. She was gentle and discreet. She was
the favorite of the old man, her father. Why should he not be adopted
into the family for her sake?
But his retainer desired ever the best for his beloved
master. He had seen the radiant beauty of Musako as she had walked in
the arbor of wistaria, herself a fairer flower, even, than the long
purple racimes swaying in the breeze. He decided in his own mind that
the elder sister was the one for his master.
"The falcon may not mate with the dove," he said to himself. "O Musako
San is far more beautiful than her sister and more clever. She will be
a better mate for my glorious master than the gentle dove her sister. I
shall request her hand of Hojo San."
So he demanded O Musako San from her father, and that good man was much distressed.
"Truly I should like to give my daughter to your master," he said. "But
she is promised to a lord of the Taira Clan and I dare not break my
word to him."
Then the retainer returned to Yoritomo very sad. He bore such glowing
accounts of the beauty and cleverness of O Musako San that Yoritomo's
curiosity was fired, and by night he stole beneath the window where she
sat peering into the garden and wondering when the good-luck bird would
fly to her.
How fair she was! And when she saw the handsome youth who gazed so
ardently upon her, how kindly her eyes looked upon him! Yoritomo
determined that she and no other should be his wife. He stole her upon
her very wedding day, not, perhaps, without her father's knowledge, and
through all the troubles of his career, she was his faithful wife.
But gazing into Musako's mirror, the little sister grew fairer every day, and she wedded a great lord and bore him many sons.