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Mirror of Matsuyama.
Start of Story
She was also confused at being found looking at the mirror, for
she had never told any one of her mother's last promise, but had kept
it as the sacred secret of her heart. So before turning to her father
she slipped the mirror into her long sleeve. Her father noting her
confusion, and her act of hiding something, said in a severe manner:
"Daughter, what are you doing here? And what is that that you have
hidden in your sleeve?"
The girl was frightened by her father's severity. Never had he spoken
to her in such a tone. Her confusion changed to apprehension, her color
from scarlet to white. She sat dumb and shamefaced, unable to reply.
Appearances were certainly against her; the young girl looked guilty,
and the father thinking that perhaps after all what his wife had told
him was true, spoke angrily:
"Then, is it really true that you are daily cursing your step-mother
and praying for her death? Have you forgotten what I told you, that
although she is your step-mother you must be obedient and loyal to her?
What evil spirit has taken possession of your heart that you should be
so wicked? You have certainly changed, my daughter! What has made you
so disobedient and unfaithful?"
And the father's eyes filled with sudden tears to think that he should
have to upbraid his daughter in this way.
She on her part did not know what he meant, for she had never heard of
the superstition that by praying over an image it is possible to cause
the death of a hated person. But she saw that she must speak and clear
herself somehow. She loved her father dearly, and could not bear the
idea of his anger. She put out her hand on his knee deprecatingly:
"Father! father! do not say such dreadful things to me. I am still your
obedient child. Indeed, I am. However stupid I may be, I should never
be able to curse any one who belonged to you, much less pray for the
death of one you love. Surely some one has been telling you lies, and
you are dazed, and you know not what you say--or some evil spirit has
taken possession of YOUR heart. As for me I do not know--no, not so
much as a dew-drop, of the evil thing of which you accuse me."
But the father remembered that she had hidden something away when he
first entered the room, and even this earnest protest did not satisfy
him. He wished to clear up his doubts once for all.
"Then why are you always alone in your room these days? And tell me
what is that that you have hidden in your sleeve--show it to me at
Then the daughter, though shy of confessing how she had cherished her
mother's memory, saw that she must tell her father all in order to
clear herself. So she slipped the mirror out from her long sleeve and
laid it before him.
"This," she said, "is what you saw me looking at just now."
"Why," he said in great surprise, "this is the mirror that I brought as
a gift to your mother when I went up to the capital many years ago! And
so you have kept it all this time? Now, why do you spend so much of
your time before this mirror?"
Then she told him of her mother's last words, and of how she had
promised to meet her child whenever she looked into the glass. But
still the father could not understand the simplicity of his daughter's
character in not knowing that what she saw reflected in the mirror was
in reality her own face, and not that of her mother.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I do not understand how you can meet the
soul of your lost mother by looking in this mirror?"
"It is indeed true," said the girl: "and if you don't believe what I
say, look for yourself," and she placed the mirror before her. There,
looking back from the smooth metal disk, was her own sweet face. She
pointed to the reflection seriously:
"Do you doubt me still?" she asked earnestly, looking up into his face.
With an exclamation of sudden understanding the father smote his two
"How stupid I am! At last I understand. Your face is as like your
mother's as the two sides of a melon--thus you have looked at the
reflection of your face ail this time, thinking that you were brought
face to face with your lost mother! You are truly a faithful child. It
seems at first a stupid thing to have done, but it is not really so, It
shows how deep has been your filial piety, and how innocent your heart.
Living in constant remembrance of your lost mother has helped you to
grow like her in character. How clever it was of her to tell you to do
this. I admire and respect you, my daughter, and I am ashamed to think
that for one instant I believed your suspicious step-mother's story and
suspected you of evil, and came with the intention of scolding you
severely, while all this time you have been so true and good. Before
you I have no countenance left, and I beg you to forgive me."
And here the father wept. He thought of how lonely the poor girl must
have been, and of all that she must have suffered under her
step-mother's treatment. His daughter steadfastly keeping her faith and
simplicity in the midst of such adverse circumstances--bearing all her
troubles with so much patience and amiability--made him compare her to
the lotus which rears its blossom of dazzling beauty out of the slime
and mud of the moats and ponds, fitting emblem of a heart which keeps
itself unsullied while passing through the world.
The step-mother, anxious to know what would happen, had all this while
been standing outside the room. She had grown interested, and had
gradually pushed the sliding screen back till she could see all that
went on. At this moment she suddenly entered the room, and dropping to
the mats, she bowed her head over her outspread hands before her
"I am ashamed! I am ashamed!" she exclaimed in broken tones. "I did not
know what a filial child you were. Through no fault of yours, but with
a step-mother's jealous heart, I have disliked you all the time. Hating
you so much myself, it was but natural that I should think you
reciprocated the feeling, and thus when I saw you retire so often to
your room I followed you, and when I saw you gaze daily into the mirror
for long intervals, I concluded that you had found out how I disliked
you, and that you were out of revenge trying to take my life by magic
art. As long as I live I shall never forget the wrong I have done you
in so misjudging you, and in causing your father to suspect you. From
this day I throw away my old and wicked heart, and in its place I put a
new one, clean and full of repentance. I shall think of you as a child
that I have borne myself. I shall love and cherish you with all my
heart, and thus try to make up for all the unhappiness I have caused
you. Therefore, please throw into the water all that has gone before,
and give me, I beg of you, some of the filial love that you have
hitherto given to your own lost mother."
Thus did the unkind step-mother humble herself and ask forgiveness of
the girl she had so wronged.
Such was the sweetness of the girl's disposition that she willingly
forgave her step-mother, and never bore a moment's resentment or malice
towards her afterwards. The father saw by his wife's face that she was
truly sorry for the past, and was greatly relieved to see the terrible
misunderstanding wiped out of remembrance by both the wrong-doer and
From this time on, the three lived together as happily as fish in
water. No such trouble ever darkened the home again, and the young girl
gradually forgot that year of unhappiness in the tender love and care
that her step-mother now bestowed on her. Her patience and goodness
were rewarded at last.