Lucy Fitch Perkins
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How They Went to the Temple

Part 1 of 2

[67]

T HE Twins were just stepping into their clogs when the front gate opened, and what do you think they saw! In came trotting three brown men, each one pulling a little carriage behind him! They came right up to the porch. Take was just standing on one foot, ready to slip her other one into the strap of her clog, when they came in. She was so surprised she fell right over backward! She picked herself up again quickly, and hopped along, with one shoe on and one shoe off:

"Are we going to ride?"  she gasped.

Her Father laughed. "Yes, little pop-eyes," he said; "we are going to ride to the Temple, and you and Taro shall ride in one rickshaw all by yourselves."

[68] The name of these little carriages drawn by men instead of horses is "jinrickshas," but he called them "rickshaws" for short.

The Twins were so happy they could hardly keep still. They looked at all three rickshaws and all three men, and then they said to their Father:

"May we ride in this one?"

It had red wheels.

"Yes, you may ride in that one," he said.

Then he got into the one with green wheels, and rode away.

Mother and Grannie and the Baby got into the next one, and their rickshaw man trotted away after Father.

"Keep close behind us," the Mother called back to the Twins.

They got into the rickshaw with the red wheels, and away they flew.

The Twins had never been in a rickshaw alone before in all their lives. They sat up very straight, and held on tight because it bounced a good deal, and the rickshaw man could run very fast.


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[69] "I feel as grand as a princess," Take whispered to Taro. "How do you feel?"

"I feel like a son of the Samurai," Taro whispered back. That was the proudest feeling he could think of.

There were so very many interesting things to see that the Twins didn't talk much for a while. You see, it's hard work to use your mouth and your eyes and your ears all at once. So the Twins just used their eyes.

It was still quite early in the morn- [70] ing when they reached the city streets. Here they saw men with baskets hung from poles going from house to house. Some were selling vegetables, some had fish, and others were selling flowers, or brooms.


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They saw little girls with baby brothers on their backs, skipping rope or bouncing balls. The baby's head wobbled dreadfully [71] when his little sister skipped, but he didn't cry about it. He just let it wobble!


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The Twins rode by fruit-shops, and clothing-shops with gay kimonos flapping in the breeze; by little shops where people were making paper lanterns, by tea-shops and silk-shops, by houses and gardens in strange places they had never seen before.

[72] They saw an old priest going from door to door, holding out his bowl for money.


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In one street carpenters were putting up a new house, and once they caught a glimpse of the very bridge that leads to the Emperor's palace.

By and by they reached the gate of the [73] Temple grounds. All the rickshaws stopped here, and everybody got out.

The Mother put Bot'Chan on her back, and they all started in a procession for the Temple. First walked the Father, looking very proud. Then came the Twins, looking quite proud, too. Then came Mother and Grannie and Bot'Chan and they looked proudest of all!

When they got inside the gate, the Twins thought they were in fairyland. You would have thought so, too, if you could have been there with them.

They saw so many wonderful things that day that if I were to tell you about every one of them it would fill up this whole book!

First of all, they came into a broad roadway with beautiful great cedar trees on each side. Under these trees were little booths. Great paper lanterns and banners of all colors hung in front of the booths; and when they waved gayly in the wind, the place looked like a giant flower-garden in full bloom.

[74] Near the Temple entrance was a great stone trough full of clear water. There was a long-handled wooden dipper floating on it.

"Come here," said the Father.

The Twins, Grandmother, and Mother, with Baby on her back, all came at once and stood in a row beside the trough. They put out their hands. The Father took the dipper and poured water on their hands.


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[75] When their hands were quite clean, they rinsed their mouths, too. Then they entered the Temple vestibule.

There were more little booths in the Temple vestibule, and there were so many people, big and little, crowding about that the Father took the Twins' hands so they wouldn't get lost.

First he led them to a place where they bought some cooked peas on a little plate, and some rice. He gave the peas to Taro and some of the rice to Take.

The Twins wondered what in the world their Father wanted with peas and rice. They soon found out. In the very next place was a little stall, and in the little stall was a tiny, tiny white horse—no bigger than a big dog! Even its eyes were white.

"Oh, Father," the Twins said, both together, "whose  little horse is it?"

"It's Kwannon's little horse," the Father said. "Taro, you may give him the peas."

Taro held out the plate. The little white pony put his nose in the plate and ate them [76] all up! He sniffed up Taro's sleeve as if he wanted more.

Take patted his back. "Who is Kwannon?" she asked.

"Kwannon is a beautiful goddess who loves little children," said the Father.

"Does she live here?" asked Taro.

"This is her Temple, where people come to worship," the Father answered. "We are going to pray to her to-day to take good care of Bot'Chan always."

"Did you ask her to take care of us, too?" asked Take.

"Yes; we brought you both here when you were a month old, just as we are bringing Bot'Chan now," the Father replied.

"Does she take care of all  little children?" Take said.

"She loves them all, and takes care of all who ask for her protection."

"My!" said Take. "She must have her hands full with such a large family!"

Her Father laughed, "But, you see, she [77] has a great many hands," he said. "If she had only two, like us, it would be hard for her to take care of so many."

"I never saw her take care of me," said Taro.

"We do not see the gods," their Father answered. "But we must worship and obey them just the same."

"I think Kwannon must love little children," said Take, "because she wants them to have such good times in her Temple."

They said good-bye to the little horse, and walked through an opening into a courtyard beyond. The moment they stepped into the courtyard a flock of white pigeons flew down and settled all about them.


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"Take may feed the pigeons," the Father said. "They are Kwannon's pigeons."

Take threw her rice on the ground. The pigeons picked it all up. So many people fed them that they were almost too fat to fly!

At another booth their Father bought [78] some little rings of perfumed incense. He put them in his sleeve. His sleeves could hold more things than all a boy's pockets put together!

When they reached the great door of the Temple itself, the Father said: "Now, we must take off our shoes." So they all slipped their toes out of their clogs, and went into the Temple just as the bell in the courtyard rang out with a great—boom— BOOM—BOOM! that made the air shiver and shake all about them.

[79] The Temple was one big, shadowy room, with tall red columns all about.

"It's just like a great forest full of trees, isn't it?" Taro whispered to Take, as they went in.

"It almost scares me," Take whispered back; "it's so big."

Directly in front of the entrance there was another bell. A long red streamer hung from its clapper, and under it was a great box with bars over the top. On the box there perched a great white rooster!

The Father pulled the red streamer and rang the bell. Then he threw a piece of money into the box. It fell with a great noise.

"Cock-a-doodle-doo," crowed the rooster! He seemed very much pleased about the money, though it was meant for the priests and not for him. "The rooster is saying thank you," cried Take. "Hush," said her Mother.

Then the Father drew from his sleeve a little rosary of beads. He placed it over his hands, and bowed his head in prayer [80] while Grannie and Mother and Baby and the Twins stood near him and kept very still. When he had finished, a priest came up.


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The Father bowed to the priest. "Will you show us the way to the shrine of Kwannon?" he asked.

Away off at the farther end of the Temple, the Twins could see a great altar. Banners and lanterns hung about it, and people were kneeling on the floor before it, pray- [81] ing. Before the altar was an open brazier with incense burning in it.

"Come this way," said the priest. He led them to the altar.

The Father took Bot'Chan from his Mother, and held him in his arms. The priest said a prayer to Kwannon, and blessed the Baby. Then the Father threw incense rings on the little fire that burned in the brazier before the altar. Wreaths of smoke began to curl about their heads. The air was filled with the sweet odor of it. Some of it went up Bot'Chan's nose. It smarted. Bot'Chan didn't like it. He had behaved beautifully up to that time, and I am sure if the incense hadn't gone up his nose he would have kept on behaving beautifully. But it did, and Bot'Chan sneezed just as the priest finished the prayer.

Then he gave a great scream. Then another, and another. Three of them!

The priest smiled. But the Father didn't smile. He gave Bot'Chan back to his mother just as quickly as he could.

[82] He said, "The honorable worshippers will be disturbed. We must go out at once."

They hurried back to the entrance and found their clogs, and the moment they were outdoors again, in the sweet, fresh air, Bot'Chan cuddled down on his Mother's back and went to sleep without another sound.