Select the desired text size
From Japanese Fairy Tales
Start of Story
by Yei Theodora Ozaki.
At last the step-mother, seizing the opportunity of her husband's
absence, ordered one of her old servants to take the innocent girl to
the Hibari Mountains, the wildest part of the country, and to kill her
there. She invented a dreadful story about the little Princess, saying
that this was the only way to prevent disgrace falling upon the
family--by killing her.
Katoda, her vassal, was bound to obey his mistress. Anyhow, he saw that
it would be the wisest plan to pretend obedience in the absence of the
girl's father, so he placed Hase-Hime in a palanquin and accompanied
her to the most solitary place he could find in the wild district. The
poor child knew there was no good in protesting to her unkind
step-mother at being sent away in this strange manner, so she went as
she was told.
But the old servant knew that the young Princess was quite innocent of
all the things her step-mother had invented to him as reasons for her
outrageous orders, and he determined to save her life. Unless he killed
her, however, he could not return to his cruel task-mistress, so he
decided to stay out in the wilderness. With the help of some peasants
he soon built a little cottage, and having sent secretly for his wife
to come, these two good old people did all in their power to take care
of the now unfortunate Princess. She all the time trusted in her
father, knowing that as soon as he returned home and found her absent,
he would search for her.
Prince Toyonari, after some weeks, came home, and was told by his wife
that his daughter Hime had done something wrong and had run away for
fear of being punished. He was nearly ill with anxiety. Every one in
the house told the same story--that Hase-Hime had suddenly disappeared,
none of them knew why or whither. For fear of scandal he kept the
matter quite and searched everywhere he could think of, but all to no
One day, trying to forget his terrible worry, he called all his men
together and told them to make ready for a several days' hunt in the
mountains. They were soon ready and mounted, waiting at the gate for
their lord. He rode hard and fast to the district of the Hibari
Mountains, a great company following him. He was soon far ahead of
every one, and at last found himself in a narrow picturesque valley.
Looking round and admiring the scenery, he noticed a tiny house on one
of the hills quite near, and then he distinctly heard a beautiful clear
voice reading aloud. Seized with curiosity as to who could be studying
so diligently in such a lonely spot, he dismounted, and leaving his
horse to his groom, he walked up the hillside and approached the
cottage. As he drew nearer his surprise increased, for he could see
that the reader was a beautiful girl. The cottage was wide open and she
was sitting facing the view. Listening attentively, he heard her
reading the Buddhist scriptures with great devotion. More and more
curious, he hurried on to the tiny gate and entered the little garden,
and looking up beheld his lost daughter Hase-Hime. She was so intent on
what she was saying that she neither heard nor saw her father till he
"Hase-Hime!" he cried, "it is you, my Hase-Hime!"
Taken by surprise, she could hardly realize that it was her own dear
father who was calling her, and for a moment she was utterly bereft of
the power to speak or move.
"My father, my father! It is indeed you--oh, my father!" was all she
could say, and running to him she caught hold of his thick sleeve, and
burying her face burst into a passion of tears.
Her father stroked her dark hair, asking her gently to tell him all
that had happened, but she only wept on, and he wondered if he were not
Then the faithful old servant Katoda came out, and bowing himself to
the ground before his master, poured out the long tale of wrong,
telling him all that had happened, and how it was that he found his
daughter in such a wild and desolate spot with only two old servants to
take care of her.
The Prince's astonishment and indignation knew no bounds. He gave up
the hunt at once and hurried home with his daughter. One of the company
galloped ahead to inform the household of the glad news, and the
step-mother hearing what had happened, and fearful of meeting her
husband now that her wickedness was discovered, fled from the house and
returned in disgrace to her father's roof, and nothing more was heard
The old servant Katoda was rewarded with the highest promotion in his
master's service, and lived happily to the end of his days, devoted to
the little Princess, who never forgot that she owed her life to this
faithful retainer. She was no longer troubled by an unkind step-mother,
and her days passed happily and quietly with her father.
As Prince Toyonari had no son, he adopted a younger son of one of the
Court nobles to be his heir, and to marry his daughter Hase-Hime, and
in a few years the marriage took place. Hase-Hime lived to a good old
age, and all said that she was the wisest, most devout, and most
beautiful mistress that had ever reigned in Prince Toyonari's ancient
house. She had the joy of presenting her son, the future lord of the
family, to her father just before he retired from active life.
To this day there is preserved a piece of needle-work in one of the
Buddhist temples of Kioto. It is a beautiful piece of tapestry, with
the figure of Buddha embroidered in the silky threads drawn from the
stem of the lotus. This is said to have been the work of the hands of
the good Princess Hase.