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The Good Thunder

“Father,” said Rai-Taro, “indeed, I have looked well.”

“Then choose, my son, choose, for I send you to take up your habitation upon the earth.”

“Must I go among men?” said Rai-Taro.

“My child, you must.”

“I will not go with the men-at-arms,” said Rai-Taro; “fighting likes me very ill.”

“Oho, say you so, my son? Will you go, then, to the fair lady’s bower?”

“No,” said Rai-Taro, “I am a man. Neither will I have my head shaved to go and live with priests.”

“What, then, do you choose the poor peasant? You will have a hard life and scanty fare, Rai-Taro.”

Rai-Taro said, “They have no children. Perhaps they will love me.”

“Go, go in peace,” said Rai-den Sama; “for you have chosen wisely.”

“How shall I go, my father?” said Rai-Taro.

“Honourably,” said his father, “as it befits a Prince of High Heaven.”

Now the poor peasant man toiled in his rice-field, which was at the foot of the mountain Hakusan, in the province of Ichizen. Day after day and week after week the bright sun shone. The rice-field was dry, and young rice was burnt up.

“Alack and alas!” cried the poor peasant man, “and what shall I do if my rice-crop fails? May the dear gods have mercy on all poor people!”

With that he sat himself down on a stone at the rice-field’s edge and fell asleep for very weariness and sorrow.

When he woke the sky was black with clouds. It was but noonday, but it grew as dark as night. The leaves of the trees shuddered together and the birds ceased their singing.

“A storm, a storm!” cried the peasant. “Rai-den Sama goes abroad upon his black horse, beating the great drum of the Thunder. We shall have rain in plenty, thanks be.”

Rain in plenty he had, sure enough, for it fell in torrents, with blinding lightning and roaring thunder.

“Oh, Rai-den Sama,” said the peasant, “saving your greatness, this is even more than sufficient.”

At this the bright lightning flashed anew and fell to the earth in a ball of living fire, and the heavens cracked with a mighty peal of thunder.

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