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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Espousal of the Rat's Daughter"

The Espousal of the Rat's Daughter

“A thousand thanks,” said Mr. Rat. “No time is to be lost if I am to get my folk together at the time and place you mention.”

“Good fortune to you,” said the priest; “may I hail you the next time I see you as father-in-law to His Majesty the Sun.”

At the appointed hour parents and daughter were to be seen in the avenue, robed in their finest clothes; and as the sun came earthwards and his rays illumined the gloom under the great pines, Mr. Rat, noway abashed, addressed His Majesty and at once informed him of his desire.

His Majesty, evidently considering that one business personage addressing another should not waste time in beating about the bush, replied as follows: “I am extremely beholden to you for your kind intention of allowing me to wed your honourable and beautiful daughter, O Yuki San, but may I ask your reason for selecting me to be your honourable son-in-law?”

To this Mr. Rat replied, “We have determined to marry our daughter to whoever is the most powerful personage in the world, and that is why we desire to offer her to you in marriage.”

“Yes,” said His Majesty, “you are certainly not without reason in imagining me to be the most august and powerful person in the world; but, unfortunately, it has been my misfortune to discover that there is one other even more powerful than myself, against whose plottings I have no power. It is to him that you should very certainly marry your daughter.”

“And may we honourably ask you who that potentate may be?” said Mr. Rat.

“Certainly,” rejoined the Sun. “It is the Cloud. Oftentimes when I have set myself to illumine the world he comes across my path and covers my face so that my subjects may not see me, and so long as he does this I am altogether in his power. If, therefore, it is the most powerful personage in the world whom you seek for your daughter, the honourable O Yuki San, you must bestow her on no one else than the Cloud.”

It required little consideration for both father and mother to see the wisdom of the Sun’s advice, and upon his suggestion they determined to wait on the Cloud at the very earliest opportunity, and at an hour before he rose from his bed, which he usually made on the slopes of a mountain some leagues removed from their village.

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