The Lady Beaming Bright
Dedicated to Charlotte Chew who supports Storynory on Patreon
Hello, this is Jana, and I’m here with a fairy tale from Japan. It’s about a poor couple who adopt a magical being. But who is their beautiful and charming new daughter? Listen on to find out.
There was once an old woodcutter called Také Tori. He was an honest old man, very poor and hard-working, and he lived with his good old wife in a cottage on the hills.
Také Tori rose early one summer morning and went out to cut bamboo. He climbed a steep hill, and when he reached the bamboo grove he was quite worn out. He took out his towel called a tenegui and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“I fear,” he said with a sigh, “That I’m not as young as I once was.” And then he set to work, cutting sticks.
Soon he saw a bright light shining among the green stems of the bamboo.
“What is this?” asked Také Tori. For the most part it was dim and shady inside the bamboo grove. “Is it the sun? No, that cannot be, for it comes from the ground.”
Very soon he pushed his way through the bamboo stems to see where the bright light came from. Sure enough, it came from the root of a great big green bamboo. Také Tori took his axe and cut it down, and there he found a fine shining green jewel, the size of his two fists.
“Wonder of wonders!” cried Také Tori. “For five-and-thirty years I’ve cut bamboo. This is the first time I’ve found a great big green jewel at the root of one of them.”
With that he took up the jewel in his hands. While he was holding it, the jewel burst in two with a loud crack, and out of it stepped a young person who stood on Také Tori’s hand.
The young person was small but very beautiful. She was dressed all in green silk.
“Greetings to you, Také Tori,” she says, as easy as you please.
“Mercy me!” says Také Tori. “Thank you kindly. I suppose, now, you’re going to tell me that you’re a fairy.”
“You’re right,” she says, “A fairy I am, and I’ve come to live with you and your good wife for a while.”
“Well, now,” says Také Tori, “begging your pardon, Miss, we’re very poor. Our cottage is good enough, but I’m afraid there will be no comforts for a lady like you.”
“Where’s the big green jewel?” says the fairy.
Take Tori picks up the two halves. “Why, it’s full of gold pieces,” he says.
“That will do to be getting on with,” says the fairy; “and now, Také Tori, let’s head for home.”
Home they went. “Wife! wife!” cried Také Tori, “Here’s a fairy who’s come to live with us, and she has brought us a shining jewel as big as a persimmon, full of gold pieces.”
A persimmon, in case you haven’t seen one, is an orange coloured fruit with smooth skin.
His wife came running to the door. She could hardly believe her eyes.
“What is this?” she asked, “Persimmons are easy to find at this time of year, but gold pieces are hard to come by.”
“You’ll see for yourself soon enough,” said Také Tori. And he brought the fairy into the house.
In a matter of a few days, the fairy had grown into a fine tall maiden, as fresh and as fair as the morning, as bright as the noonday, as sweet and still as the evening, and as deep as the night. Také Tori called her the Lady Beaming Bright, because she had come out of the shining jewel.
Take Tori spent his gold pieces every day, but there were always plenty to spare. He built a fine house with servants to wait on him and his wife. The Lady Beaming Bright lived like a princess. Her beauty was famed both near and far, and scores of suitors came to seek her hand in marriage.
But she would have none of them. “Také Tori and his dear good wife are the two people I truly love” she said; “I will live with them and be their daughter.”
So three happy years went by; and in the third year the emperor, known as the Mikado, came to woo the Lady Beaming Bright.
“Lady,” he said, “I bow before you, my soul salutes you. Sweet lady, be my Queen.”
Then the Lady Beaming Bright sighed and great tears wetted her eyes, and she hid her face.
“Lord, I cannot,” she said.
“Cannot?” said the Mikado; “and why not, O dear Lady Beaming Bright?”
“Wait and see, lord,” she said.
In the summertime she grew very sorrowful. She spent long hours by herself in the garden of Také Tori’s house. There she sat in the daytime and brooded. There she sat at night and gazed upon the moon and the stars. And there she was one fine night when the moon was at its full.
She was not alone. Her three dearest friends on earth were with her.
“How bright the moon shines!” said Také Tori.
“Truly,” said the good wife, “it is like a brass saucepan well scoured.”
“See how pale and wan it is,” said the Mikado; “it is like a sad despairing lover.”
“How long and bright a beam!” sighed Také Tori. “It is like a highway from the moon stretched to this garden.”
“O dear foster-father,” cried the Lady Beaming Bright. “You speak the truth, it is a highway indeed. And along the highway come countless heavenly beings swiftly, swiftly, to carry me home. My father is the King of the Moon. I disobeyed his order. He punished me by sending me to live on earth for three years. The three years have passed and I must return to my own country. Ah, I am sad to leave you!”
“The mist descends,” said Také Tori.
“No,” said the Mikado, “it is the soldiers and servants of the King of the Moon.”
Down they came in their hundreds and their thousands, carrying torches. Silently they came, and stood all around the garden shedding their gentle lights. The chief brought a heavenly feather robe. The Lady Beaming Bright rose to her feet, and the chief servant placed the robe on her shoulders.
“Farewell, Také Tori,” she said, “farewell, dear foster-mother, I leave you my jewel as a souvenir. As for you, my lord, I wish you could come with me—but there is no feather robe for you. I leave you a phial of the pure elixir of life. Drink, my lord, and live forever as the Immortals.”
Then she spread her bright wings and the servants of Heaven gathered around her. Together they passed up the highway to the moon, and were seen no more.
The Mikado took the elixir of life in his hand, and he went to the top of the highest mountain. There he made a great fire to consume the elixir of life, for he said, “What joy shall it bring me to live forever, if I cannot pass all time with the Lady Beaming Bright?”
So the elixir of life was burned in the fire, and its blue vapour floated up to Heaven. And the Mikado said, “Let my message float up with the vapour and reach the ears of my Lady Beaming Bright.”
And that was ‘The Lady Beaming Bright’, a fairy tale from Japan, collected by Grace James and published in the year 1912. We’ve lightly adapted it for Storynory.
And just to remind you, there are loads of free audio stories, at storynory.com, from me Jana,