The Wind in the Pine Tree
Then he turned his face inland. The sound of music was still in his ears. The voice was like the voice of a Heavenly Being, and strange and mystical were the words of the song:—
“The lover brought a love gift to his mistress, Jewels of jade upon a silken string; Well-carved jewels, Well-rounded jewels, Green as the grass, Upon a silken string. The jewels know not one another, The string they know, Oh, the strength of the silken string!”
The Youth went inland and came to the great Pine Tree and to the Maid that sat beneath, weaving diligently and singing. The crane came flying with her strong white wings, and perched upon the Tree’s topmost branches. The tortoise lay below on the brown carpet of needles. He watched and saw much with his little eyes, but he said nothing, being very silent by nature.
The Youth stood before the Maiden, waiting.
“Whence come you?” she said, lifting up her eyes.
“I have come across the sea path. I have come from afar.”
“And wherefore came you?”
“That you must know best, seeing it was your voice that sang in my heart.”
“Do you bring me the gift?” she said.
“Indeed, I bring you the complete gift, jewels of jade upon a silken string.”
“Come,” she said, and rose and took him by the hand. And they went to her father’s house.
So they drank the “Three Times Three,” and were made man and wife, and lived in sweet tranquillity many, many years.
All the time the crane dwelt in the Pine Tree’s topmost branches, and the tortoise on the brown carpet of needles below.
At last the Youth and Maiden, that once were, became white-haired, old, and withered, by the swift, relentless passage of years.
“Fair love,” said the old man, “how weary I grow! It is sad to be old.”
“Say not so, dear delight of my heart,” said the old woman; “say not so, the best of all is to come.”
“My dear,” said the old man, “I have a desire to see the great Pine Tree before I die, and to listen once more to the song of the wind in its branches.”
“Come, then,” she said, and rose and took him by the hand.