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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The happy hunter and the skillful fisher"

The happy hunter and the skillful fisher

Slowly and gracefully in their trailing garments they approached the well, standing in the shade of the katsura trees, and were about to draw water, all unknowing of the stranger who was watching them, for the Happy Hunter was quite hidden among the branches of the tree where he had posted himself.

As the two ladies leaned over the side of the well to let down their golden buckets, which they did every day in the year, they saw reflected in the deep still water the face of a handsome youth gazing at them from amidst the branches of the tree in whose shade they stood. Never before had they seen the face of mortal man; they were frightened, and drew back quickly with their golden buckets in their hands. Their curiosity, however, soon gave them courage, and they glanced timidly upwards to see the cause of the unusual reflection, and then they beheld the Happy Hunter sitting in the tree looking down at them with surprise and admiration. They gazed at him face to face, but their tongues were still with wonder and could not find a word to say to him.

When the Mikoto saw that he was discovered, he sprang down lightly from the tree and said:

"I am a traveler, and as I was very thirsty I came to the well in the hopes of quenching my thirst, but I could find no bucket with which to draw the water. So I climbed into the tree, much vexed, and waited for some one to come. Just at that moment, while I was thirstily and impatiently waiting, you noble ladies appeared, as if in answer to my great need. Therefore I pray you of your mercy give me some water to drink, for I am a thirsty traveler in a strange land."

His dignity and graciousness overruled their timidity, and bowing in silence they both once more approached the well, and letting down their golden buckets drew up some water and poured it into a jeweled cup and offered it to the stranger.

He received it from them with both hands, raising it to the height of his forehead in token of high respect and pleasure, and then drank the water quickly, for his thirst was great.

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