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My Lord Bag of Rice
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Start of Story
His red hair streamed over his shoulders and was surmounted by a crown in the shape
of a dragon's head, and his sea-green dress was patterned with shells.
Hidesato knew at once that this was no ordinary mortal and he wondered
much at the strange occurrence. Where had the dragon gone in such a
short space of time? Or had it transformed itself into this man, and
what did the whole thing mean? While these thoughts passed through his
mind he had come up to the man on the bridge and now addressed him:
"Was it you that called me just now?"
"Yes, it was I," answered the man: "I have an earnest request to make
to you. Do you think you can grant it to me?"
"If it is in my power to do so I will," answered Hidesato, "but first
tell me who you are?"
"I am the Dragon King of the Lake, and my home is in these waters just
under this bridge."
"And what is it you have to ask of me!" said Hidesato.
"I want you to kill my mortal enemy the centipede, who lives on the
mountain beyond," and the Dragon King pointed to a high peak on the
opposite shore of the lake.
"I have lived now for many years in this lake and I have a large family
of children and grandchildren. For some time past we have lived in
terror, for a monster centipede has discovered our home, and night
after night it comes and carries off one of my family. I am powerless
to save them. If it goes on much longer like this, not only shall I
lose all my children, but I myself must fall a victim to the monster. I
am, therefore, very unhappy,
therefore, in my extremity I determined to ask
the help of a human being."