Lucy Fitch Perkins

How They Went to the Temple

Part 2 of 2

Near the Temple they found an orchard of cherry trees in full bloom. People were sitting under the cherry trees, looking at the blossoms. Some of them were writing little verses, which they hung on the branches of the trees. They did this because they loved the blossoms so much. Children were playing all about. Near by was a pretty little tea-house.

Grannie saw it first. "I am thirsty," she said.

"So am I," said Take.

"So am I," said Taro.

"We're all  thirsty," the Father said.

Outside the tea-house, under the trees there were wooden benches. They sat down on these, and soon little maids from the [83] tea-house brought them trays with tea and sweet rice-cakes.


[Illustration]

They sat on the benches and sipped their tea, and watched the people moving about, and looked up at the cherry blossoms against the blue sky, and were very happy, indeed.

The Mother had carried Bot'Chan all the way on her back, so maybe she was [84] a little tired. Anyway, she said to the Father:—

"If you and the Twins want to go farther, let Grannie and me stay here and rest. You can come back for us."

"Would you like to see the animals?" the Father asked the Twins.

Taro and Take jumped right up, and took their Father's hands, one on each side, and then they all walked away together under the blossoming trees to another part of the park.

In this part of the park there were cages, and in the cages were lions, and tigers, and monkeys, and zebras, and elephants, and all kinds of animals! There were birds, too, with red and blue plumage and beautiful golden tails. There were parrots and cockatoos and pheasants. Wild ducks were swimming in the ponds; and two swans sailed, like lovely white ships, to the place where the Twins stood, and opened their bills to be fed.


[Illustration]

In the Father's sleeve was something for each one. Taro and Take took turns. Take fed the swans, and Taro fed the great [85] fish that swam up beside them and looked at them with round eyes. When they saw the food the fish leaped in the water and fought each other to get it, and when they ate it they made curious noises like pigs.

"I don't think they have very good manners," said Take.

By and by they came to a queer little [86] street. This little street must have been made on purpose for little boys and girls to have fun in, for there were all sorts of astonishing things there. There were jugglers doing strange tricks with tops and swords. There were acrobats, and candy-sellers and toy-sellers going about with baskets hung from long poles over their shoulders. It was almost like a circus.

The street was full of people, and every one was gay. The Twins and their Father had gone only a little way up the street when an old woman met them. She had a pole on her shoulder, and from it swung a little fire of coals in a brazier. She had a little pot of batter and a little jar of sweet sauce, a ladle, a griddle, and a cake-turner!

"Would you like to make some cakes?" she said to Take.

Take clasped her hands. "Oh, Father, may I?" she said.

The Father gave the old woman some money out of his sleeve. She set the brazier on the ground.

[87] Then Tale tucked her sleeves back, put the griddle on the coals, poured out some batter, and cooked a little cake on one side until it was brown. Then she turned it over with the cake-turner, and browned it on the other side. Then she put it on a plate and put the sauce on it.


[Illustration]

My, my! but it was fun!

The first cake she made she gave to her Father.

He ate it all up. Then he said, "Honor- [88] able daughter, the cake is the very best I ever had of the kind. I am sure your honorable brother would like one too."

The Japanese are so very polite that they often call each other "honorable" in that way. They even call things that they use "honorable," too!

So Take said very politely, "Honorable Brother, would you like one of my poor cakes?"

It would be impolite in Japan to call anything good that you had made yourself. It would seem like praising your own work. That was why Take called them "my poor cakes."

"I should like a cake very much," Taro said.

Take poured out the batter. She watched it carefully, to be sure it did not burn. When it was just brown enough she gave it to Taro.


[Illustration]

Taro ate it all up. Then he said to Take, "Honorable Sister, I should like to eat six."

The Father laughed. "If you stay here [89] to eat six cakes, we shall not see the dolls' garden," he said. "Take must have one cake for herself, and then we will go on."

Take baked a cake for herself and ate it. She called it a "poor" cake aloud, but inside she thought it was the very best cake that any one ever made!

When she had finished, she and Taro and the Father bowed politely to the old woman.

"Sayonara," they said. That means "good-bye."

[90] The old woman bowed. "Sayonara," she called to them.

The Twins and their Father walked on. They soon found the dolls' garden. In it were many tiny pine trees like theirs at home. There were little plum trees, and bamboos, and a tiny tea-house in it. There was a pond with a little bridge, too.


[Illustration]

"Oh!" cried Take, "if it only had little bells on the plum trees, this would be the [91] very garden I sang about to Bot'Chan; wouldn't it?"

She stooped down and peeped under the little trees.

"Let's play we are giants!" she said to Taro.

"Giants roar," said Taro.

"You  roar," said Take. "It wouldn't be polite for a lady giant to roar!"

"Giants are different. They don't have to be polite," Taro explained.

"Well, you can roar," said Take, "but I shall play I'm a polite lady giant taking a walk in my garden! My head is in the clouds, and every step I take is a mile long!"

She picked up her kimono. She turned her little nose up to the sky, and took a very long step.

Taro came roaring after her.

But just that minute Take's clog turned on her foot, and the first thing she knew she was flat on her stomach on the bridge! She forgot that lady giants didn't roar.

[92] Taro was roaring already.

Their Father was ahead of them. He jumped right up in the air when he heard the noise. He wasn't used to such sounds from the Twins. He turned back.

"What is the matter?" he said.

He picked Take up and set her on her feet.


[Illustration]

"We're giants," sobbed Take.

"Her head was in the clouds," said Taro.

"It is well even for giants to keep an eye on the earth when they are out walking," the Father said. "Are you hurt?"

"Yes, I'm hurt," Take said; "but I don't think I'm broken anywhere."

"Giants don't break easily at all," her Father answered. "I think you'll be all right if we go to your castle!"

"My castle!"  cried Take. "Where is it?"

"Right over there through the trees." He pointed to it.

The Twins looked. They saw a high tower.

[93] "Would you like to climb to the top with me?" their Father said.

"Oh, yes," Taro cried. "We aren't tired."

"Or broken," Take added.

So they went into the tower and climbed, and climbed, and climbed. It seemed as if the dark stairs would never end.

[94] "I believe the tower reaches clear to the sky!" said Take.

"I don't believe it has any top at all!" said Taro.

But just that minute they came out on an open platform, and what a sight they saw! The whole city was spread out before them. They could see gray roofs, and green trees, and roadways with people on them. The people looked about as big as ants crawling along. They could see rivers, and blue ponds, and canals. It seemed to the Twins that they could see the whole world.

In a minute the Father said, "Look! Look over there against the sky!"

The Twins looked. Far away they saw a great lonely mountain-peak. It was very high, and very pale against the pale blue sky. The top of it was rosy, as if the sun shone on it. The shadows were blue. Below the top there were clouds and mists. The mountain seemed to rise out of them and float in the air.


[Illustration]

[95] The Twins clasped their hands.

"It is Fuji!" they cried, both together.

"Yes," said the Father. "It is Fuji, the most beautiful mountain in the world."

By and by Take said, "I don't feel a bit like a giant any more."

And Taro said, "Neither do I."

For a long time they stood looking at it. Then they turned and crept quietly down the dark stairs, holding tight to their Father's hands.

They went back to Mother and Grandmother and Bot'Chan under the cherry trees.

"We must take the Baby home," said the Mother as soon as she saw them. "It's growing late."

[96] "Oh, mayn't we stay just a little longer?" Take begged.

"Please,"  said Taro.

"If we go now, we can go home by boat," said the Father.

"I didn't believe a single other nice thing could happen this day," sighed Take. "But going home by boat will be nicer than staying. Won't it, Taro?"

But Taro was already on his way to the landing.


[Illustration]

There was a pleasure-boat tied to the wharf. The whole family got on board; the boatman pushed off and away they went over the blue waters and into the [97] river, and down the river a long way, through the city and beyond. They passed rice-fields, where men and women in great round hats worked away, standing ankle deep in water. There were fields where tea-plants were growing. There were little brown thatched roofs peeping out from under green trees. There were glimpses of little streets in tiny villages, and of people riding in a queer sort of basket hung from a pole and carried on the shoulders of two men.


[Illustration]

At last they came to a landing-place [98] near their home. They were glad to see the familiar roofs again.


[Illustration]

Taro and Take raced ahead of the others to their own little house in the garden.

At the door they found ever so many clogs. There were sounds of talking inside the house.

"What do you suppose is going to happen now?" Take asked Taro.

[99] "I don't know—but something nice," Taro answered, as he slipped off his clogs and sprang up on the porch.

They slid open the door.

"Ohayo!" came a chorus of voices.

The room was full of their aunts and cousins!

Taro and Take were very much surprised, but they remembered their manners. They dropped on their knees and bowed their heads to the floor.


[Illustration]

"Where are your Father and Mother, and Grannie and Bot'Chan?" said all the aunts and cousins. "They are late."

"We came back by the boat, and it [100] stopped at ever so many places," said Taro. "That's why we are late."

Soon their Father and Mother and Grandmother came in. Then there was great laughing and talking, and many polite bows.

Bot'Chan was passed from one to another. Everybody said he was the finest baby ever seen, and that he looked like his Father! And his Mother! And his Grandmother! Some even said he looked like the Twins!


[Illustration]

Everybody brought presents to the baby. There were toys, and rice, and candied peas and beans, and little cakes, and silk for dresses for him, and more silk for more dresses, and best of all a beautiful puppy cat. Here is his picture! The Twins thought [101] Bot'Chan could never use all the things that were given him but they thought they could help eat up the candied things.


[Illustration]

Bot'Chan seemed to like his party. He sucked his thumb and looked solemnly at the aunts and cousins. He even tried to put the puppy cat in his mouth. Natsu took him away at last and put him to bed. Then everybody had tea and good things to eat until it was time to go home.

It took the Twins a long time to get to sleep that night.

Just as she was cuddling down under her warm, soft mats, Take popped her head out once more and looked across the room to Taro's bed.

"Taro!" she whispered.

Taro stuck his head out, too. She could see him by the soft light of the candle in the tall paper lamp beside his bed.

"Don't you think it's about a week since morning?" she said. "So many nice things have happened to-day!"

[103] "There never could be a nicer day than this," said Taro.

"What was the nicest of all?" Take asked. "I'll tell you what I liked the best if you'll tell me."

Then Taro told which part of the day he liked the best, and Take told which she liked the best. But I'm not going to tell whether they said the little horse, or the tiny garden, or the cherry trees, or the animals, or the boat-ride—or the party. You can just guess for yourself!


[Illustration]