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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Star Lovers"

The Star Lovers

“A foolish saying,” cried her father, “not worthy of credence. What do we know of age-long sorrow? Are we not gods?” With that he took her shuttle from her hand gently, and covered the loom with a cloth. And he caused her to be very richly attired, and they put jewels upon her and garlanded her head with flowers of Paradise. And her father gave her for spouse the Herd Boy of Heaven, who tended his flocks upon the banks of the Bright River.

Now the Maiden was changed indeed. Her eyes were stars and her lips were ruddy. She went dancing and singing all the day. Long hours she played with the children of Heaven, and she took her pleasure with the celestial youths and maidens. Lightly she went; her feet were shod with silver. Her lover, the Herd Boy, held her by the hand. She laughed so that the very gods laughed with her, and High Heaven re-echoed with sounds of mirth. She was careless; little did she think of duty or of the garments of the gods. As for her loom, she never went near it from one moon’s end to another.

“I have my life to live,” she said; “I’ll weave it into a web no more.”

And the Herd Boy, her lover, clasped her in his arms. Her face was all tears and smiles, and she hid it on his breast. So she lived her life. But her father, the Deity of Light, was angry.

“It is too much,” he said. “Is the girl mad? She will become the laughing-stock of Heaven. Besides, who is to weave the new spring garments of the gods?”

Three times he warned his daughter.

Three times she laughed softly and shook her head.

“Your hand opened the door, my father,” she said, “but of a surety no hand either of god or of mortal can shut it.”

He said, “You shall find it otherwise to your cost.” And he banished the Herd Boy for ever and ever to the farther side of the Bright River. The magpies flew together, from far and near, and they spread their wings for a frail bridge across the river, and the Herd Boy went over by the frail bridge. And immediately the magpies flew away to the ends of the earth and the Weaving Maiden could not follow.

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