The Wind in the Pine Tree
It was a Deity from High Heaven that planted the Pine Tree.
So long ago that the crane cannot remember it, and the tortoise knows it only by hearsay from his great-grandmother, the heavenly deity descended. Lightly, lightly he came by way of the Floating Bridge, bearing the tree in his right hand. Lightly, lightly his feet touched the earth.
He said, “I have come to the Land of the Reed Plains. I have come to the Land of Fresh Rice Ears. It is a good land; I am satisfied.” And he planted the Pine Tree within the sound of the sea at Takasaga, which is in the Province of Harima. Then he went up again to High Heaven by way of the Floating Bridge.
But the Pine Tree flourished. So great it grew, there was not a greater in all the Land of the Reed Plains. Its trunk was rosy red, and beneath it spread a brown carpet of fallen needles.
In the sweet nights of summer the Children of the Woods came hand in hand to the Pine Tree by moonlight, slipping their slim dark feet upon the moss, and tossing back their long green hair.
The Children of the Water came by moonlight, all drenching wet their sleeves, and the bright drops fell from their finger-tips. The Children of the Air rested in the Pine Tree’s branches, and made murmuring music all the live-long night. The Children of the Sea Foam crept up the yellow sands; and from the confines of Yomi came the Mysteries, the Sounds and the Scents of the Dark—with faces veiled and thin grey forms, they came, and they hung upon the air about the place where the Pine Tree was, so that the place was holy and haunted.
Lovers wandering upon the beach at Takasaga would hear the great company of Spirits singing together.
“Joy of my heart,” they said to one another, “do you hear the wind in the Pine Tree?”
Poor souls lying sick a-bed would listen, and fishermen far out at sea would pause in their labour to whisper, “The wind, the wind in the Pine Tree! How the sound carries over the water!”
As for the coming of the Maiden, the crane cannot remember it, but the tortoise has it of his great-grandmother that she was born of poor parents in Takasaga.