The Black Bowl
“To be sure, and with all my heart,” says the girl, and she put her back into the work; “but, mistress,” she says, “if I may be so bold as to ask, are we having a party, or what?”
“Indeed we are, and many of them,” says the farmer’s wife. “My son that is in Kioto, the great and gay, is coming home for a visit.”
Presently home he comes, the handsome young man. Then the neighbours were called in, and great was the merry-making. They feasted and they danced, they jested and they sang, many a bowl of good red rice they ate, and many a cup of good saké they drank. All this time the girl, with bowl on her head, plied her work modestly in the kitchen, and well out of the way she was—the farmer’s wife saw to that, good soul! All the same, one fine day the company called for more wine, and the wine was done, so the son of the house takes up the saké bottle and goes with it himself to the kitchen. What should he see there but the maiden sitting upon a pile of faggots, and fanning the kitchen fire with a split bamboo fan!
“My life, but I must see what is under that black bowl,” says the handsome young man to himself. And sure enough he made it his daily care, and peeped as much as he could, which was not very much; but seemingly it was enough for him, for he thought no more of Kioto, the great and gay, but stayed at home to do his courting.
His father laughed and his mother fretted, the neighbours held up their hands, all to no purpose.
“Oh, dear, dear maiden with the wooden bowl, she shall be my bride and no other. I must and will have her,” cried the impetuous young man, and very soon he fixed the wedding-day himself.
When the time came, the young maidens of the village went to array the bride. They dressed her in a fair and costly robe of white brocade, and in trailing hakama of scarlet silk, and on her shoulders they hung a cloak of blue and purple and gold. They chattered, but as for the bride she said never a word. She was sad because she brought her bridegroom nothing, and because his parents were sore at his choice of a beggar-maid.