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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Sad Story of the Yaoya's Daughter"

The Sad Story of the Yaoya's Daughter

The next day they bore O Schichi home to Honjo. She grew languid and listless. White she grew, white as the buckwheat flower. She drooped and she failed. No longer was she numbered with the five beauties of Yedo, nor likened to a cherry-tree in the time of the spring blossoming. All the day long she brooded silently. At night she lay awake in her low bed.

“Oh! oh!” she moaned, “the weary, weary night! Shall I never see him? Must I die of longing? Oh! oh! the weary, weary night....”

Her eyes grew large and burning bright.

“Alas! poor maid,” said her father.

“I am afraid ...” said her mother. “She will lose her wits.... She does not weep any more.”

At last O Schichi arose and took straw and made it into a bundle; and she put charcoal in the bundle and laid it beneath the gallery of her father’s house. Then she set fire to the straw and the charcoal, and the whole burnt merrily. Furthermore the wood of her father’s house took light and the house was burnt to the ground.

“I shall see him; I shall see him!” shrieked O Schichi, and fell in a swoon.

Howbeit all the city knew that she had set fire to her father’s house. So she was taken before the judge to be tried for her wrong-doing.

“Child,” said the judge, “what made you do this thing?”

“I was mad,” she said, “I did it for love’s sake. I said, ‘I will burn the house, we shall have nowhere to lay our heads, then we shall take shelter at the temple; I will see my lover.’ Lord, I have not seen him nor heard of him these many, many moons.”

“Who is your lover?” said the judge.

Then she told him.

Now as for the law of the city, it was hard and could not be altered. Death was the penalty for the crime of the Yaoya’s daughter. Only a child might escape.

“My little maid,” the judge said, “are you perhaps twelve years old?”

“Nay, lord,” she answered.

“Thirteen, then, or fourteen? The gods send you may be fourteen. You are little and slender.”

“Lord,” she said, “I am fifteen.”

“Alas, my poor maid,” said the judge, “you are all too old.

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