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Japanese fairy tales


A Samurai dwelt in the Oni province and his name was Satsuma Shichizaemon. He had a garden, the most beautiful of any in the village. It was filled with flowering plants, and the shrubs had a delicious fragrance which filled the air. Golden-hearted lilies floated upon the tiny lake, dwarf pines waved their branches over the water's edge, and above all, dark and silent, towered a huge enoki, or goblin tree.
This tree had stood there for centuries, and no one had dared to cut a branch or even to pull one of its leaves.
Shichizaemon, however, was of a bad heart, and had no reverence for the things of his fathers. He wished the view from his window not to be hidden, and the enoki stood between him and the valley. So he gave orders to have the tree cut down.
That night his mother dreamed a dream. She saw before her a terrible dragon-like monster whose forked tongue spit fire, and who said to her, "Mother of Satsuma Shichizaemon, beware! Your son shall die and all his house if he harm the enoki, for the spirits of the trees will not suffer insult to the goblin tree."
Next day she told her son of her dream, but he only laughed at her, and said, "If all the spirits of the earth and air and water were to come to you in dreams, still I should make way with this tree." Then he sent a woodman to cut down the tree.
As the tall tree fell with a crash so loud as to frighten all the household, Satsuma also fell to the ground.
"I am ill!" he cried. "The tree! The tree!" and he knew no more; for he was dead. Soon too his wife fell ill, and then his mother. Within a month there remained not one of all his people. Even the servants disappeared from earth, all crying as their spirits departed, "A-a-e-c-e-i! The tree! The tree!"
Long the dwelling was left deserted. Stagnant waterweeds fouled the lake, and even the songs of the birds seemed mournful and sad. At last it was remembered that there remained of the family of Satsuma but one person, a nun named Tikem, who dwelt in the temple at Yamashira. They sent to her saying, "O Tikem San, will you not come to the garden of your kinsman, and remove the terrible curse which rests upon it?"
"I will come," she answered.
She came to the dwelling of Satsuma Shichizaemon, her kinsman, and all the people in the village watched in fear, lest the sickness of the goblin tree should come upon her. But O Tikem San feared not.
She abode in the house calmly attending to her duties, and she was well. Every day she went to the place where had stood the goblin tree, and there she offered up prayers for the kinsman who had perished. And there was no more curse, for the holiness of O Tikem San rested upon the place like a gentle breath from heaven. And all the children of the village played happily in the sunlit garden where once had been the goblin tree.