Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books

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Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books
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Japanese fairy tales    Oni     Tengu     Kitsune     Tanuki     Kami

Crane Feathers

Long ago there lived an old man and old woman in a poor mountain village who were sad for they had no children. One snowy winter day the old man went into the forest to gather some firewood. He piled the wood onto his back and began to descend the mountain back to the village when suddenly he heard a plaintive cry of pain. Following the cries he found a crane which had gotten caught in a snare and was beating its wings and moaning in pain. 
“Oh you poor thing, be patient and I’ll help you,” he told the bird.
He then freed the bird who flew happily away.
That evening when he sat with his wife to eat dinner someone knocked softly on the door. 
“Who could that be at this hour,” they wondered.
The old man opened the door and saw a girl standing their covered in snow.
“I got lost in the mountains,” she told him. “Its snowing so hard that the roads aren’t visible.”
“Come in and share dinner with us,” the old woman invited.
The old man then took the girl by the hand and led her to the center of the room where he set her down to eat supper with them. The girl was beautiful and kind and helped the old woman around the house.
“If you want, grandmother, I will massage your shoulders and rub your back,” the girl told the old woman.
“Thank you darling, my back does really hurt,” the old woman replied. “What is your name?”
“O-Tsuru,” the girl told her.
“O-Tsuru, it’s a good name,” the old man praised her.
The next morning when the girl was getting ready to travel again the old man told her that they did not have any children, and so he asked her to stay with them.
“I would be pleased to stay, for I have no one on earth,” the girl thanked him for his kindness. And all she asked for was a room where she could weave in privet. But she told the old man and old woman not to watch her as she worked for she didn’t like for people to see her work. So they gave the girl a room to weave in.
Three days later she gave them a beautiful tapestry with the image a red field and flying golden cranes.
“What beautiful weaving,” the old woman admired. 
“I can’t take my eyes off it, the old man agreed as he felt the fabric which was softer then down.” The old man then looked at the girl with concern. “It seems like your getting thin, and you look so tired. I don’t think you should work so hard.”
Suddenly they heard a hoarse voice calling in to them from a merchant who went from village to village buying art from peasants. 
“Do you have some art for sale, some weaving that you’ve done during the winter perhaps?” he asked.
“Look at the work our daughter did,” the woman said proudly as she showed him the scarlet cloth with the golden cranes.
“Oh, such a beautiful pattern!” the man exclaimed. “No one in the capital will have seen something so magnificent,” the man gushed. Your daughter is amazing.”
The man then pulled out a handful of gold coins, and said that he could sell the wonderful fabric to the prince’s palace. 
The old people couldn’t believe their eyes at the site of the real gold coins, for this was the first time they’d seen real gold.
“Thank you, daughter, thank you,” they thanked the girl. “Now we’ll be able to live a better life and will be able to get you a new dress so everyone can see what beauty you have.”
Spring came, along with the warm sun. And the village children came to the house and called for the girl to play with them. Or they would gather around her and she would tell them tales of the various strange birds. Then after some time the merchant came again and asked the old man if it would be possible to buy the same cloth as before.
“Don’t ask me that,” the old man told him. “My daughter can’t weave any longer. Doing so is to taxing on her health.”
But the merchant shoved a purse full of gold coins into the old mans hand.
“I’ll pay even more then I did last time,” the merchant offered. “And if you refuse it’ll go bad with you for the prince has sent me to get more cloth so if you don’t have it in three days it’ll be your heads,” the merchant threatened.
So the old man and the old woman began to lament their fate but their daughter assured them that she could have the cloth ready in time. So Tsuru went to her room to weave and shut the door tightly behind her. As before all they heard was the beat, beat of the loom as the girl worked quickly. The old man and the old woman were worried about her and how much work she was doing. 
“Well are you finished?” the gruff voice of the merchant called into the house after three days time.
“We cannot show you,” they told the merchant. “For our daughter strictly forbade that we enter the room while she was working.”
“That’s nonsense,” the merchant told them as he pushed the elderly people aside and opened the door.
Inside the girls room at her loom was a large crane. It opened its wide wings and plucked the most delicate and soft feathers from itself to weave the beautiful fabric. The old man and woman shut the door quickly as the merchant ran away with fear. 
The next morning the children all came running and calling for the girl to come out and play with them or tell them a story. But she was still in her room. The old man and old woman were afraid to look in on her, but at last they did so to find a tapestry lying on the floor with crane feathers lying all around. They searched for their daughter. 
That evening the children called to them, “grandma, grandpa come quick.”
So they hurried out to where the children were and saw a crane circling about the houses, though it was struggling to fly. That’s when the old man understood that this was the same crane he’d rescued. 
“Come back, come back to us,” they called to the crane. But it was in vain, for soon the crane disappeared into the sunset. The old man and old woman waited a long time for their daughter to return but she never did. And it is said that on remote islands on the large lakes you can see the crane walking on the beach glancing back to where the old woman and old man remain.

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Fairies, Fairy Tales, Fairy Books