The Lantern and the Fan
IN a Japanese village there once lived a man who had two sons. When the sons were grown up, each brought home a wife from another village a long distance away. The father was greatly pleased with his two daughters-in-law, and for many months they all lived very happily together.
At last the two young wives asked to go home to visit their friends.
Among the Japanese the sons and the sons' wives must always obey the
father, so the two wives said,
The two young wives were so glad to visit their old friends that for
almost a month they forgot all about the gifts that they were to carry
"I do not let people cry in my woods," said a voice. "My trees do not grow well in salt water."
The poor wives were so sorrowful that they forgot to be afraid, and the
older one said, "Can we help crying? Unless I can carry to my
"It is easy enough to wrap fire in paper," answered the voice. "Here is a piece of paper. Now watch." They watched, and the strangest thing in all the world happened right before their eyes. There was no one to be seen, but a piece of paper appeared on the ground and folded itself into a Japanese lantern. "Now put a candle inside," said the voice, "and you have paper holding fire. What more could you ask?"
Then the older woman was happy, but the younger was still sad. She saw now that fire could be carried in paper, but surely no one could carry wind. "O dear voice," she cried, "can any one carry wind in paper?"
"That is much easier than to carry fire," replied the voice, "for wind does not burn holes. Watch."
They watched eagerly. Another piece of paper came all by itself and lay on the ground between them. There was a picture on it of a tree covered with white blossoms. Two women stood under the tree, gathering the blossoms.
"The two women are yourselves," said
the voice, "and the blossoms are
the gifts that the
"But I cannot go home," the younger wailed, "for I cannot carry wind wrapped in paper."
"Here is the paper, and there is always plenty of wind. Why not take them?"
"Indeed, I do not know how," the younger woman answered sorrowfully.
"This way, of course," said the voice. Some long, light twigs flew to the paper. It folded itself, over, under, together. It opened and closed, and it waved itself before the tearful face of the younger woman. "Does not the wind come to your face?" asked the voice, "and is it not the fan that has brought it? The lantern carries fire wrapped in paper, and the fan carries wind wrapped in paper."
Then, indeed, the two young women were happy, and when they came to the
home of their