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Main > Japanese folktales > Fairy tale "The Two Daughters"

The Two Daughters

At Akita, in the province of Inaba, lived an independent gentleman, who had two daughters, by whom he was ministered to with all filial piety. He was fond of shooting with a gun, and thus very often committed the sin (according to the teaching of holy Buddha) of taking life. He would never hearken to the admonitions of his daughters. These, mindful of the future, and aghast at the prospect in store for him in the world to come, frequently endeavored to convert him. Many were the tears they shed. At last one day, after they had pleaded with him more earnestly still than before, the father, touched by their supplications, promised to shoot no more. But, after a a while, some of his neighbors came round to request him to shoot for them two storks. He was easily led to consent by the strength of his natural liking for the sport. Still he would not allow a word to be breathed to his daughters. He slipped out at night, gun in hand, after they were, as he imagined, fast asleep.

They, however, had heard everything, and the elder sister said to the younger: "Do what we may, our father will not condescend to follow our words of counsel, and nothing now remains but to bring him to a knowledge of the truth by the sacrifice of one of our own lives. To-night is fortunately moonless; and if I put on white garments and go to the neighborhood of the bay, he will take me for a stork and shoot me dead. Do you continue to live and tend our father with all the services of filial piety." Thus she spake, her eyes dimmed with the rolling tears. But the younger sister, with many sobs, exclaimed: "For you, my sister, for you is it to receive the inheritance of this house. So do you condescend to be the one to live, and to practise filial devotion to our father, while I will offer up my life."

Thus did each strive for death. The elder one, without more words, seizing a white garment rushed out of the house. The younger one, unwilling to cede to her the place of honor, putting on a white gown also, followed in her track to the shore of the bay.

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