THE ROBE OF
was springtime, and along Mio's pine-clad shore there came a
sound of birds. The blue sea danced and sparkled in the
sunshine, and Hairukoo, a fisherman, sat down to enjoy the
scene. As he did so he chanced to see, hanging on a pine tree, a
beautiful robe of pure white feathers.
As Hairukoo was about to take down the
robe he saw coming toward him from the sea an extremely lovely
maiden, who requested that the fisherman would
restore the robe to her.
Hairukoo gazed upon the lady with
considerable admiration. Said he, "I found this robe, and I mean
to keep it, for it is a marvel to be placed among the treasures
of Japan. No, I cannot possibly give it to you."
"Oh," cried the maiden pitifully, "I
cannot go soaring into the sky without my robe of feathers, for
if you persist in keeping it I can never more return to my
celestial home. Oh, good fisherman, I beg of you to restore my
The fisherman, who must have been a
hard-hearted fellow, refused to relent.
"The more you plead," said he, "the more
determined I am to keep what I have found."
Thus the maiden made answer:
Speak not, dear fisherman! Speak not that
Ah! know'st thou not that, like the hapless bird
Whose wings are broke, I seek, but seek in vain,
Reft of my wings, to soar to heav'n's blue plain?
After further argument on the subject the
fisherman's heart softened a little.
"I will restore your robe of feathers,"
said he, "if you will at once dance before me."
Then the maiden replied, "I will dance it
here -- the dance that makes the Palace of the Moon turn round,
so that even poor transitory man may learn its mysteries. But I
cannot dance without my feathers."
"No," said the fisherman suspiciously. "If
I give you this robe, you will fly away without dancing before
This remark made the maiden extremely
"The pledge of mortals may be broken,"
said she, "but there is no falsehood among the heavenly beings."
These words put the fisherman to shame,
and, without more ado, he gave the maiden her robe of feathers.
When the maiden had put on her pure white
garment she struck a musical instrument and began to dance, and
while she danced and played she sang of many strange and
beautiful things concerning her faraway home in the moon. She
sang of the might Palace of the Moon, where thirty monarchs
ruled, fifteen in robes of white when that shining orb was full,
and fifteen robed in black when the moon was waning. As she sang
and played and danced she blessed Japan, "that earth may still
her proper increase yield!"
The fisherman did not long enjoy this
kindly exhibition of the Moon Lady's skill, for very soon her
dainty feet ceased to tap upon the sand. She rose into the air,
the white feathers of her robe gleaming against the pine trees
or against the blue sky itself. Up, up she went, still playing
and singing, past the summits of the mountains, higher and
higher, until her song was hushed, until she reached the
glorious Palace of the Moon.