The Matsuyama Mirror
A long, long time ago there lived in a quiet spot a young man and his wife. They had one child, a little daughter, whom they both loved with all their hearts. I cannot tell you their names, for they have long since been forgotten; but the name of the place where they lived was Matsuyama, in the Province of Echigo.
It happened once, while the little girl was still a baby, that the father was obliged to go to the great city, the capital of Japan, upon some business. It was too far for the mother and her little baby to go, so he set out alone, after bidding them goodbye and promising to bring them home some pretty present.
The mother had never been farther from home than the next village, and she could not help being a little frightened at the thought of her husband taking such a long journey; and yet she was a little proud too, for he was the first man in all that country-side who had been to the big town where the king and his great lords lived, and where there were so many beautiful and curious things to be seen.
At last the time came when she might expect her husband back, so she dressed the baby in its best clothes, and herself put on a pretty blue dress which she knew her husband liked.
You may fancy how glad this good wife was to see him come home safe and sound, and how the little girl clapped her hands, and laughed with delight when she saw the pretty toys her father had brought for her. He had much to tell of all the wonderful things he had seen upon the journey, and in the town itself.
“I have brought you a very pretty thing,” said he to his wife; “it is called a mirror. Look and tell me what you see inside.” He gave to her a plain white wooden box, in which, when she had opened it, she found a round piece of metal. One side was white, like frosted silver, and ornamented with raised figures of birds and flowers; the other was bright as the clearest crystal. Into it the young mother looked with delight and astonishment, for, from its depths was looking at her with parted lips and bright eyes, a smiling happy face.