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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "Flower of the Peony"

Flower of the Peony

It was the Lady Aya who loved them and had them planted so.

Now the lady turned without a word and moved along the paths of the garden very slowly, hanging her head. When she came to the garden gallery she left all her maidens save one, and went silently to her bower.

There she was for a long space, saying nothing. She sat and traced the pattern on her robe with the point of her finger. And Sada, her maiden, was over against her.

At length, “He was a great lord,” said Aya.

“Truth, lady.”

“He was young.”

“He was passing well-favoured.”

“Alas! he saved my life, and I had not time to thank him.”

“The moon shone upon the jewelled mounting of his sword.”

“And his robe that was broidered with peony flowers—my peony flowers.”

“Lady, the hour grows very late.”

“Well, then, untie my girdle.”

“You look pale, lady.”

“Small marvel, I am weary.”

“Lady, what of the young Lord of Ako?”

“What of him? Why, I have not seen him. Enough, let be—no more of him. Alas! I am drowsy, I know not what I say.”

After this night the Lady Aya, that had been so fresh and fair and dancing gay as a wave of the sea, fell into a pale melancholy. By day she sighed, and by night she wept. She smiled no more as she beheld her rich wedding-garments, and she would not play any more with her maidens upon the garden gallery. She wandered like a shadow, or lay speechless in her bower. And all the wise men and all the wise women of that country-side were not able to heal her of her sickness.

Then the maid Sada, weeping and hiding her face with her sleeve, went to the Lord of the House and told him of the moonlight adventure and the fair youth of the peony bed.

“Ah me,” she said, “my sweet mistress pines and dies for the love of this beautiful young man.”

“Child,” said the daimyo, “how you talk! My daughter’s garden is well guarded by walls and by men-at-arms. It is not possible that any stranger should enter it. What, then, is this tale of the moon and a samurai in peony garments and all manner of other foolishness, and how will such a tale sound in the ears of the Lord of Ako?

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