Xjince upon a time there lived an oldcouple who had seen better days. Formerlythey had been well to do, but misfortunecame upon them, through no fault of theirown, and in their old age they had becomeso poor that they were only just able toearn their daily bread. One joy however remained to them, This
was their only child, a good and gentlemaiden, of such wonderful beauty, that, inall that land bhe had no equal. At length the father fell sick and died,and the mother and her daughter had towork harder than ever. Soon the motherfelt her strength failing her, and great washer sorrow at the thought of leaving herchild aluno in the world. The beauty of the maidenwas so Jhdl^^l^^ dazzling that it be- came the causeof muchthongbt and anxiety to the dying mother,
She knew that in one so pow and friend-less as her child, it would be likely to of a blessing,prove a .misfortune instead Feeling her end to be very near, themother called the maiden to her bedside,and, with many words of love and warning,entreated her to continue pure, and good,and true, as she had ever been, She toldher that her beauty was a perilous giftwhich might become her ruin, and com-manded her to hide it, as much as possible,from the sight of all men, That she might do this the better, ff^fc the mother placed on her daughters heada lacquered wooden bowl, which she earned
her on no account to take off. The bow]overshadowed the maidens face, so that itwas impossible to tell how much beauty washidden beneath it, | ^r.-r. . .^...r: : (
After her mothers death, the poor childwas indeed forlorn; but she had a brave heart, and at once
set about her livingearningby bard work in the fields. As she was nevei seen without * W. }to> *
the wooden bowl, which indeed appeared avery funny head-dress, sbe soon begaa tobe talked about, and was known in allthe country round as the Maid with theBowl on her Head. Proud and bad j>eople scorned and lathedat her, and theidle young
naen of the village made fun of her, trying to peep under the bowl, and even to pull it o# her head. But it seemed firmly fixed, and none of them succeeded in taking it off, or in getting more than a glimpse of the beautiful face beneath. The poor girl bore all this rude usage patiently, was always diligent at her work, and when evening came, crept quietly to her lonely home. Now. one day, when she was at work in the harvest field of a rich fanner, who owned most of the land in that part, the master himself drew near. He was struck by the gentle and modest behaviour *f the young girl, and by her quickness and diligence at her work. Ha. vim- watched her all that day, hft was so much pleased with her, thai he kept herL
in work until the end ofharvest. After that, winterhaving now come on, hetook her into his own houseto wait upon his wife, who had long been sick, and seldom left her bed.
Now the poor orphan ,fyJL^ - fl had a happy home once more, for both the farmer and his wife were very kind to her. As they had no daughter of their own, she became more like the child of the house than a hired servantAnd indeed, no child could have made a or more tender nurse to a sickgentlermother, than did this little inaid to hermistress. After some time the masters eldest soncame home on a visit to his father andmother. He had been living in Kioto, therich and gay city of the Mikado, where hehad studied and learned much. Weariedwith feasting and pleasure, he was gladto come back for a little while to the
hi-me of his childhood. But weekquie(after week passed, and, to the surprise ofhis Mends, he showed no desire to returnto the more stirring life of the town. The truth is, that no sooner had he Beteyes on the Maid with the Bowl on her Head,than he was filled with curiosity to knowall ahout her. He linked who and what shewas. and why *he was always seen withsuch a curious and unbecoming- head-dress.
Fe was touched by her sad story, butcould not help laughing at her old fancy ofwearing the bowl on her head. But, as hesaw day by day, her goodness and gentlemanners, he laughed no more. And, oneday, having managedto take a sly peep =t% A-under thebowl, he sawenough uf her beauty to make him deeply in tove with fall her.
From that moment he vowed that nonei other than the Maid with the Bowl should be his wife. His relations, -4. v r would not however, hear of _! match. a "No doubt - girl was all very well in her way,"
they said, =7$ "but after all, she was only a servant, and no fit mate for the son ofthe honse.They had always said she was being madetoo much of, and would one day or anotherturn against her benefactors. Now theirwords were coming true, and besides, whydid she persist in wearing that rediculousthing on her head? Doubtless to get a re-putation for beauty, which most likely shedid not possess. Indeed, they were almostcertain that she was quite plain looking." The two old maiden aunts of tbe youngman were especially bitter, and never lostan opportunity of repeating the hard and
unkind thinjr* which were *aid about thepoor orphan. Her mistress even, who hdbeen so good to her, now seemed to turnagainst her, and she had no friend leftexcept her master, who would really have"been pleased to welcome her as his daughter,but did not dare to say as muck Iheyoung man however, remained firm to hispurpose. As for all the stories which theybrought him, he gave his aunts to under-stand that he considered them little betterthan a pack of illnatnred inventions. At last seeing him so steadfast in bisdetermination, and that their opposition onlymade him the more obstinate, they werefain to give in, though with a bad grace. A difficulty now arose where it was leastto have been expected. The poor little
Maiil with the Bowl on her Head upset alltheir calculations, by gratefully but firmlyrefusing the hand of her masters son, andno persuasion on his part could induce herto change her mind. Great was the astonishment and anger ofthe relations. That they should be madefools of in this way was beyond all bearing.TTImt did the ungrateful ynnrg minx expect,that her Masters son wasnt good enough forher? Little did they know her true andloyal heart. She loved him clearly, but shewould not bring discord and strife into thehome which had sheltered her in her poverty ;for she had marked the cold looks of hermistress, and very well understood what theymeant. Rather than bring trouble into that at once, andhappy home she would leave it
for ever. She told no one, and shed manybitter tears in secre^ yet she remained trueto her purpose. Then, that night when &he had criedherself to sleep, her mother appeared to herin a dream, and told her that she might,without scruple, yield to the prayers of herlover, and to the wishes of her own heart.She woke up full of joy, and, when the youngman once more entreated her, she answered "yes, with all her heart, We told you so,"said the mother and the aunts, bat the youngman was too happy to mind them. So thewedding day was fixed, and thegrandest preparationswere made for the feast Some
unpleasant remarks were doubtless to beheard about the beggar maid and her woodenbowl, but the young man took no notice ofthem, and only congratulated himself uponMs good fortune Now, when the weddingday had at last come, and all the companywere assembled, and ready to assist at theceremony, it seemed high time that the bowlshould be removed from the head of thebride. She tried to take it off, but found, toher dismay, that it stuck fast, nor could herutmost efforts even succeed in it: movingand, when some of the relations persisted in off the bowl, it uttered loudtrying to pullcries and groans as of pain. The bridegroom comforted and consoledthe maiden, and insisted that they shouldgo on with the ceremony without more ado.
And now came the moment when the wiaecups were brought in, and the bride and "bridegroom must drink together the threetimes three", in token that they were nowbecome man and wife. Hardly had the biideput her lips to the Sake, cup, when thewooden bowl burstMith a loud ^^^noise,and
fell in a thousand pieces upon the floor.And, with the bowl, fell a shower of preciousstones, pearls, and diamonds, rubies andemeralds, which had been hidden beneathit, besides gold and silver in abundance,which now became the marriage portionof the maiden.Bat what astonished the wedding guestsmore even than this vast treasure, was thewonderful beauty of the bride, made fullyknown for the first time to her husbandand to all the world, Never was there each a merry wedding,such a proud and happy bridegroom, orguch a lovely bride.