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The Matsuyama Mirror   By:

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Japanese Fairy Tale Series, No 10.

The Matsuyama Mirror.



Published by T. HASEGAWA, 17 Kami Negishi, TOKYO.






A long long time ago, there lived in a quiet spot, a young man and his wife. They had one child, a little daughter, whom they both loved with all their hearts. I cannot tell you their names, for they have been long since forgotten, but the name of the place where they lived was Matsuyama, in the province of Echigo.

It happened once, while the little girl was still a baby, that the father was obliged to go to the great city, the capital of Japan, upon some business. It was too far for the mother and her little baby to go, so he set out alone, after bidding them good bye, and promising to bring them home some pretty present.


The mother had never been further from home than the next village, and she could not help being a little frightened at the thought of her husband taking such a long journey, and yet she was a little proud too, for he was the first man in all that country side who had been to the big town where the King and his great lords lived, and where there were so many beautiful and curious things to be seen.

At last the time came when she might expect her husband back, so she dressed the baby in its best clothes, and herself put on a pretty blue dress which she knew her husband liked.


You may fancy how glad this good wife was to see him come home safe and sound, and how the little girl clapped her hands, and laughed with delight, when she saw the pretty toys her father had brought for her. He had much to tell of all the wonderful things he had seen upon the journey, and in the town itself.


"I have brought you a very pretty thing," said he to his wife: "it is called a mirror. Look and tell me what you see inside." He gave to her a plain, white wooden box, in which, when she had opened it, she found a round piece of metal. One side was white like frosted silver, and ornamented with raised figures of birds and flowers, the other was bright as the clearest crystal. Into it the young mother looked with delight and astonishment, for, from its depths was looking at her with parted lips and bright eyes, a smiling happy face.


"What do you see?" again asked the husband, pleased at her astonishment, and glad to show that he had learned something while he had been away. "I see a pretty woman looking at me, and she moves her lips as if she was speaking, and dear me, how odd, she has on a blue dress just like mine!" "Why, you silly woman, it is your own face that you see," said the husband, proud of knowing something that his wife didn't know. That round piece of metal is called a mirror, in the town every body has one, although we have not seen them in this country place before.


The wife was charmed with her present, and, for a few days could not look into the mirror often enough, for you must remember, that, as this was the first time she had seen a mirror, so, of course, it was the first time she had ever seen the reflection of her own pretty face. But she considered such a wonderful thing far too precious for every day use, and soon shut it up in its box again, and put it away carefully among her most valued treasures.

Years past on, and the husband and wife still lived happily. The joy of their life was their little daughter, who grew up the very image of her mother, and who was so dutiful and affectionate that every body loved her. Mindful of her own little passing vanity on finding herself so lovely, the mother kept the mirror carefully hidden away, fearing that the use of it might breed a spirit of pride in her little girl.

She never spoke of it, and as for the father, he had forgotten all about it. So it happened that the daughter grew up as simple as the mother had been, and knew nothing of her own good looks, or of the mirror which would have reflected them... Continue reading book >>

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