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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Flute"

The Flute

The poor child passed her days and her nights in torment and horrible fear. But of these things she said not a word to her father. Such is the manner of children.

Now, after some time, it chanced that the man was called away by his business to a distant city. Kioto was the name of the city, and from Yedo it is many days’ journey on foot or on horseback. Howbeit, go the man needs must, and stay there three moons or more. Therefore he made ready, and equipped himself, and his servants that were to go with him, with all things needful; and so came to the last night before his departure, which was to be very early in the morning.

He called O’Yoné to him and said: “Come here, then, my dear little daughter.” So O’Yoné went and knelt before him.

“What gift shall I bring you home from Kioto?” he said.

But she hung her head and did not answer.

“Answer, then, rude little one,” he bade her. “Shall it be a golden fan, or a roll of silk, or a new obi of red brocade, or a great battledore with images upon it and many light-feathered shuttlecocks?”

Then she burst into bitter weeping, and he took her upon his knees to soothe her. But she hid her face with her sleeves and cried as if her heart would break. And, “O father, father, father,” she said, “do not go away—do not go away!”

“But, my sweet, I needs must,” he answered, “and soon I shall be back—so soon, scarcely it will seem that I am gone, when I shall be here again with fair gifts in my hand.”

“Father, take me with you,” she said.

“Alas, what a great way for a little girl! Will you walk on your feet, my little pilgrim, or mount a pack-horse? And how would you fare in the inns of Kioto? Nay, my dear, stay; it is but for a little time, and your kind mother will be with you.”

She shuddered in his arms.

“Father, if you go, you will never see me more.”

Then the father felt a sudden chill about his heart, that gave him pause. But he would not heed it. What! Must he, a strong man grown, be swayed by a child’s fancies? He put O’Yoné gently from him, and she slipped away as silently as a shadow.

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