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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "Karma"


. I go to my people upon the plains. Do not seek for me there.... Wait for me.”

And when the lady had spoken she faded slowly and grew ethereal, like a mist. And Tatewaki cast himself upon the ground and put out his hand to hold her sleeve. But he could not stay her. And his hand grew cold and he lay still as one dead, all in the grey dawn.

When the sun was up he arose.

“The plains,” he said, “the low plains ... there will I find her.” So, with the golden token wound about his arm, fleetly he sped down, down to the plains. He came to the broad river, where he saw folk standing on the green banks. And on the river there floated boats of fresh flowers, the red dianthus and the campanula, golden rod and meadow-sweet. And the people upon the river banks called to Tatewaki:

“Stay with us. Last night was the Night of Souls. They came to earth and wandered where they would, the kind wind carried them. To-day they return to Yomi. They go in their boats of flowers, the river bears them. Stay with us and bid the departing Souls good speed.”

And Tatewaki cried, “May the Souls have sweet passage.... I cannot stay.”

So he came to the plains at last, but did not find his lady. Nothing at all did he find, but a wilderness of ancient graves, with nettles overgrown and the waving green grass.

So Tatewaki went to his own place, and for nine long years he lived a lonely man. The happiness of home and little children he never knew.

“Ah, love,” he said, “not patiently, not patiently, I wait for you.... Love, delay not your coming.”

And when the nine years were past he was in his garden upon the Night of Souls. And looking up he saw a woman that came towards him, threading her way through the paths of the garden. Lightly she came; she was a slender girl, dressed in a simple gown of blue cotton. Tatewaki stood up and spoke:

“Child,” he said very gently, “since we tread the same lonely road let us be fellow-travellers, for now the twilight passes and it will soon be dark.”

The maid turned to him with bright eyes and smiling lips:

“Sir,” she said, “my mistress will be glad indeed.

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