Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books

Fairies and Fairy Tales

Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books
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Japanese fairy tales

THE PRINCESS OF THE SEA

A Beautiful princess lived in the depths of the sea. She was fairer than any mortal maiden, and sweet as she was fair. Her voice was as gentle as the sea waves lapping the strand, her sigh was as soft as the sound of the wind through the reeds of the shore, and her laugh was musical as the tinkle of water through the coral branches.
Her mother was no more, but her father, the old Sea King, adored her and gave her all the treasures of the deep. Her necklace was of coral, her girdle was of pearls, her hairpins were of curiously carved tortoise shell, her kimono was embroidered with feathery seaweed, and her floating obi with delicate traceries of kelp, encircled her slender waist.
The princess lived in a magnificent palace built of
mother-of-pearl. All the creatures of the sea had given
to its adornment. Pearls gleamed from its walls, amber
pillars, like shafts of light, supported its roof, while
a million lights gleamed from branching corals. The
walls were tinted in exquisite colors and decorated with
sprays of seaweed floating in cool green waves in which the fish seemed really swimming, so natural did they appear.
The princess did not always stay in this home, beautiful as it was. She loved the fresh breath of the open sea. It brought the color into her cheeks and made her happy. When she went forth she rode upon a dolphin, who plunged through the sea foam and rode over the crested waves with careless grace.
One day the princess mounted his back for a long ride. The next day and the next she went again and always in the same direction. Then her father noticed that she seemed sad, and he said to her, "Where do you go each day, my daughter? Why is it that you do not stay at home?"
"It is lonely here, my father," she answered. "I like to ride upon the top of the waves, for there I can watch the strange beings who live upon the land. You talk to me of marrying. Find me a sea-prince like one of those mortals whom I have seen and I will marry him."
"Whom have you seen?" demanded her father, much astonished, for he did not know that she had ever seen a mortal.
"I know not his name," said the maiden. "But I have seen him upon the shore. He fishes there and I have heard many of the fishes say how kind he is and
how gentle. He is handsome, too. He fishes only for such sea food as he must eat and he puts back into the water all those fish which are not good for him to eat. Oh, my father! I love this youth! He is so great and strong! Bring him to me!" and the little princess clasped her hands together as she looked at her father.
But the Sea King was angry. "It is not fitting that you should think such thoughts," he said in high displeasure. "A sea princess should not marry a mere mortal. Tarry at home henceforth! No more shall you go to ride upon the dolphin!"
So the poor little princess stayed at home and pined. She missed the fresh air of the upper sea and the sight of the blue sky, but above all she missed the young fisherman. At last she grew weak and ill and her father could endure it no longer.
"Are you pining still for that young mortal?" he asked one day; and she replied,
"Oh, my father, unless I speak with him my heart will break!"
"Go to the shore where he fishes," said the Sea King. "Change yourself into a sea turtle and allow him to catch you in his net. You say he is of such a wonderful kindness—well, Mortals do not eat such turtles; and so if he throws you down upon the sands to die, 1 will rescue you, but if he places you again in the water, I give my consent to your bringing him here to my palace."
This the wily old king said, thinking the fisherman would surely throw the turtle aside; but the princess smiled happily, for she knew he would prove kind.
Now Urashima, for that was the fisherman's name, knew nothing at all of all this. When therefore next day he found in his net a huge turtle, he said to himself, "Well, my fine fellow, what a pity it is that you are not eatable! You would make a good meal for my honorable parents were you as good as you are big. But since you are not, run along home to your friends," and he dropped the turtle back into the waves.
What was his surprise to see rise from the sea and come toward him across the crested waves, a huge dolphin, carrying on its back a sea nymph fair as the dawn. She cast upon him a sun-bright glance and said,
"Come with me, oh Mortal! Come to the depths of my sea-girt home and see my palace of emerald and pearl. I was that turtle which you cast into the sea, for I took that form to see if you were of as great kindness of heart as the fishes said."
Urashima stood spellbound and stared at the vision of loveliness before him.
"Come with me," said the princess, again. "The coral caves await you,—will you not come?"
"Not for all the wealth of the ocean would I leave my beloved home, but to be with you, loveliest of sea nymphs," cried Urashima, bewitched by her beauty and loveliness.'
He went with her to the depths of the ocean and there memory fell from him, and he forgot his home. He thought only of the princess and basked in the sunshine of her smile.
So they were married and lived happily, and even the old Sea King grew to like Urashima and blessed him before he died.
Urashima had lived in the Dragon Palace of the Princess of the Sea what seemed to him but a short time when memory came to him again. He thought of his father and mother and of his little brothers and sisters, and he grew sad. The princess watched him and her heart sank.
"He will go from me and not return," she sighed. "Alas! alas! for mortal love!"
Urashima at last said to the princess, "Beloved princess, I have spent these months of our life together in happiness so great that I would that it could last forever. I remember, however, my old home and the dear ones I left there. Give me leave, therefore, to return to earth for but a day, that I may see them once more. They know not where I am. They know nothing of my happiness. Let me go, and quickly I will return."
"Alas, my beloved, you will never return," she said. "Never more will your deep sea home see you again,— that my poor heart tells me. But if the yearning for home has seized you, I may not keep you here. Go, but take this with you," and she handed him a casket made of a single pearl and set with a picture of the princess. "So long as you keep this unopened you may return; but open it, and you will never see me again. Farewell."
So Urashima returned to earth bearing with him the little casket.
His home seemed strange to him. The village street was not what it used to be; his father's house no longer stood beneath the tall bamboo; he saw no familiar faces. At last, puzzled and distressed, he asked a passer-by if he knew aught of the people of Urashima.
"Urashima!" he answered in amazement. "He was drowned in the sea, many, many years ago. His people all lie buried on the hill. Their very tombs are lichengrown with age."
"Am I dreaming," cried Urashima. "My Sea Princess, what have you done to me?"
Then seizing the casket he gazed upon the face of the nymph and as he did so a strange desire came over him to see what was within. He opened it just a crack and a thin, gray smoke rose toward heaven, and in the curling clouds he seemed to see the lovely form of the princess, and her eyes gazed sadly at him. Then he looked down at himself in wonder. From a stalwart youth he had become a white-haired old man; and, weeping bitterly, he stretched forth his hands to the sea.
"Ah, my princess, farewell forever. Without thee I faint and die. Thy love alone gave life," and he sank down upon the sands and was no more.
He had been gone from earth a thousand years.

Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books

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Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books