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The Spiders Thread Akutagawa Ryunosuke

It so happens that one day the Lord Buddha is strolling alone on the shore of the lotus pond in Paradise. All the lotus blossoms blooming in the pond are globes of the whitest white and from the golden stamen in the center of each an indescribably pleasant fragrance issues forth abidingly over the adjacent area. Day is just dawning in Paradise. In due course, the Lord Buddha pauses at the edge of the pond and beholds an unexpected sight between the lotus petals veiling the water's surface. Since the depths of Hell lay directly below the lotus pond on Paradise, the scenery of Sanzu-no-kawa and Hari-no-yama can be clearly seen through the crystal-clear water just as if looking through a stereopticon. Then, the single figure of a man, Kandata by name, squirming there in the depths of Hell along with other sinners, comes into the Lord Buddha's gaze. This man Kandata is a murderer, an arsonist, and a master thief with numerous robberies to his credit. Yet, the Lord Buddha recalls that he had performed a single good deed. That is to say, once when Kandata was traveling through the middle of a dense forest he came upon a spider crawling along the roadside. Thereupon, he immediately raised his foot and was about to trample it to death. But, he suddenly reconsidered, saying, "Nay, nay, small though this spider be, there is no doubt that it too is a living being. Somehow or other it seems a shame to take its life for no reason." In the end he spared the spider rather than killing it. While observing the situation in Hell, the Lord Buddha remembers that this Kandata had spared the spider. And he decides that in return for having done just that one good deed he would, if he could, try to rescue this man from Hell. Luckily, he sees nearby a spider of Paradise spinning a beautiful silver web on a jade colored lotus petal. The Lord Buddha takes the spider's thread gently into his hand and lowers it between the pure white lotus blossoms straight into the distant depths of Hell. This is Chi-no-ike in the depths of Hell and along with other sinners Kandata is floating up to the surface and sinking back down over and over. No matter what direction one looks it is completely dark. And when one notices out there in that darkness the glow from the needles of the dreaded Hari-no-yama floating up vaguely into view, the feeling of helplessness is beyond description. Moreover, the surroundings are perfectly still, like the inside of a tomb. If a sound is to be heard, it is merely the faint sigh of some sinner. The sighs are faint

because anyone who has fallen to this level of Hell is already so exhausted by the tortures of the other Hells that he or she no longer has even enough strength to cry out. Therefore, as one might expect, the master thief Kandata himself is unable to do anything but writhe, exactly like a frog caught in the throes of death, as he chokes on the blood of Chi-no-ike. One day, however, something happens. Kandata happens to raise his head and spies in the sky above Chi-no-ike a silvery spider's thread, a thin line shimmering in the silent darkness, gently descending toward him from the distant, distant firmament as though it were afraid to be seen by the eyes of men. Upon seeing it Kandata involuntarily claps his hands for joy. If he were to cling to this thread and climb it to its end, he would surely be able to escape from Hell. No, if all went well, he would even be able to enter Paradise. And were this to come to pass, he would never ever be driven up Hari-no-yama again, nor would he ever have to sink again in Chi-no-ike. Having thought thusly, Kandata quickly takes firm hold of that spider's thread with both hands and using all his might begins climbing up and up hand-over-hand. From long ago Kandata has been completely used to doing this sort of thing since he is a former master thief. But because the distance between Hell and Paradise is some tens of thousands of ri, try though he might, he is not able to ascend to the top easily. After climbing for a while, even Kandata finally tires; he is unable to continue for even one more pull on the thread. Having no other choice, he intends first to take a short rest. While hanging onto the thread he looks down on the distance below. He sees that thanks to the efforts he spent climbing, Chi-noike, where he had just recently been, is now already hidden at the bottom of the darkness. He also sees that the faint glow of the terrifying Hari-no-yama is below him. If he were to continue at this pace, the escape from Hell just might not be as difficult as he had expected. Wrapping his hand around the spider's thread, Kandata laughs in a voice unused during his years in Hell, "I'm saved! I'm saved at last!" Then he suddenly notices that below him on the spider's thread, just like a line of ants, a countless number of sinners are following him, climbing up and up for all they are worth. When Kandata sees this, he momentarily freezes from shock and fear, his mouth agape and his eyes rolling in his head like an idiot. How could it be that this slender spider's thread, seemingly strained even under the weight of just him alone, is able to support the weight of that many? By some chance were the thread to break, he, the egotistical Kandata who at great pains had climbed this

far, and everyone else would plummet headlong back into Hell. For that to happen would be a disaster. But, even as he says this, sinners, not by the hundreds, nor even by the thousands, but in swarms, continue to crawl up from the bottom of the pitch dark Chi-no-ike and climb up the thin luminous spider's thread in single file. If he doesn't do something right away, the thread will break in two at the center and he will surely fall. At this point, Kandata yells in a loud voice, "Hey you sinners. This spider's thread is mine. Who the hell asked you to climb it? Get down! Get off it!" Just as he screams at the other sinners the spider's thread, which till then had had nothing wrong with it, suddenly breaks with a snap right where Kandata is hanging. So, Kandata, too, is doomed. Without even time to cry out he goes flying through the air spinning like a top and in the wink of an eye plunges headfirst into the dark depths of Hell. Afterwards, only the shortened spider's thread from Paradise dangles there, glittering dimly in a sky void of both moon and stars. The Lord Buddha stands on the shore of the lotus pond in Paradise having taken in everything from start to finish. When Kandata finally sinks like a rock to the bottom of Chi-no-ike he resumes strolling, his countenance seemingly creased with sadness. Seen through divine eyes, the Lord Buddha thought it wretched that Kandata's compassionless heart led him to attempt to escape by himself and for such a heart falling back into Hell was just punishment. The lotus blossoms in the lotus pond of Paradise, however, are not concerned in the least about what has happened. Those blossoms of the whitest white wave their cups around the divine feet of the Lord Buddha and from the golden stamen in the center of each an indescribably pleasant fragrance issues forth abidingly over the adjacent area. Noon draws near in Paradise.

The Golden Harvest (A Thai Folktale)

Long ago in Old Ayudhya, there lived a man named Nai Hah Tong who dreamed of turning copper into gold. His wife, Nang Song Sai, had little faith in magic. She believed in the wealth of nature and richness of the earth. When her husband boasted, Someday, we will be the richest people in Ayudhya, she listened patiently; however, when all their tical had been used for experiments, she decided something would have to be done about her husbands great expectation. She said to her husband, Nai Hah Tong, you have experimented with copper and a monkey spaw, copper and lizards tail. You have polished copper with the gold stripe of fur cut from the tigers skin, but the copper did not turn into gold. Why dont you give up this dream and go to work like other men? Her husband said, Mai chai, that is not right. With each experiment my magic has grown stronger. Mai pen rai , never mind, my husband, you must do what you must do, she answered. The next day, however, she went home to see her father and asked him what to do about NaiHah Tongs unreasonable search for gold. Her wise old father did not seem disturbed. He said, Pai, go now, and say nothing of this meeting. I have a plan to help your husband. The next day Nai Hah Tong received an invitation to dine with his father-in-law. At ginukow, or meal time, Nai Hah Tong was there on the mat-covered floor beside the elderly gentleman. The old man said, My son, since you desired power and a long life, you sit facing east. I see honor and dignity, so I shall sit facing west. Chai , yes, my father, I always follow the old relief. I never sit facing north when I eat, for I fear the bad luck such an action would cause, but sometimes, I eat facing south because I would like to have esteem and respect. The old man smiled and nodded in agreement. A servant interrupted and conversation by placing a large tray bearing bowls of white rice, hot chicken curry, roasted turtle eggs, vegetables and namprick , a spicy sauce made from beetles and fish paste. Another tray held bowls of fresh water for washing, cloths for drying, and lime scent for perfuming the hands. The men ate from the same bowls, using only the fingers of their right hand. They did not speak very much while eating because the delicious food demanded their complete attention. The curry was spicy, yet sweet with the added milk of the coconut. The rice was fluffy and fresh from the top of the pot.

The namprick bit the tongue, but it was good and made the mild milk drink more tasty by contrast. When the meal was over, Nai Hah Tong felt as content as a baby gibbon sitting upon his mothers lap. Ah, we are lucky for fish in the water and rice on the land, he said. Chai , my son, but there is more to life than good food. I have asked you to come to see me thisevening because I need your help. Like you, my son, I have been looking for a way of turning copper intogold. Now, I know how to do it. Nai Hah Tong drew in his breath and made a long, long whistling sound. Oh, its too good to be true! I cant believe it! he said. Listen carefully, Nai Hah Tong. I have all things I need for the miracle except one additional ingredient. Because I am an old man, I dont think I can work hard enough and long enough to get it. Mai pen rai , never mind, father, I will get whatever you nee, Nai Hah Tong replied. That is not an easy as you might think, my son. I must have two kilos of soft fuzz gathered from t he underside of the banana leaf, and the fuzz must be plucked carefully from our very own banana trees. Furthermore, I know the fuzz will not perform the miracle, unless it comes from a tree planted when the magical words were spoken. I can say the magic words, and I can raise the banana trees. I will collect the two kilos of banana fuzz for you, said Nai Hah Tong. The old man smiled and said, I know you can do this, my son, because I have faith in you. I will loan you the money to buy the land you will need to raise banana trees. The young man bowed low to the older. In the hearts of each of them, there was a feeling of faith and trust. Nai Hah Tong was determined to prepare his fields in a way which would be most pleasing to all the gods who might influence his crops. For this reason he went to his village wat and asked guidance from the priest who knew how to look at the gleaming stars and interpret the wisdom of the night sky. The priests saffron robe glowed in the moonlight. His bare feet made no sound as he walked from the wat to the open court. The glittering stars seemed to light the sky as the fireflies lit the darkness. The priest gazed at the stars as if they were the eyes of heaven. Nai Hah Tong waited patiently for the priest. The only sound he heard was the lonely call of the gecko lizard hiding in a crack of the stucco wall of the wat. He counted the lizards croaks nung, song,sam, see, ha, hok, jet. Ah, it is a rare sign of good fortune. The gecko calls seven times, bringing me good luck.

The priest returned to his small, bare cell and opened a worn folding book. He said, Since you were born in the year of the Ox, you must begin your plowing on Wednesday, the tenth day of the fourth lunar month. Now, do not forget to begin when the sun is midway between the horizon and the highpoint of noon. Chai, chai , yes, yes. I shall do as you say. The priest continued. Before this auspicious hour, you must build a shrine to the guardian spirit of the field, Phra Phum. Give him an offering of the best rice. Lay it flat on a shining green banana leaf and serve him graciously. At the north corner of your field, you must place three triangular white flags. As you mount them on bamboo poles, ask the blessing of the goddess who makes the banana tree fertile with the yellow fruit. Do not forget to praise the earth goddess and do remember to ask Phra Phums blessing. Ask these gods to keep hungry locusts and nibbling worms far away from fields. Is there anything else that I must do?asked Nai Hah Tong. Chai, you will ask your village chieftain to guide your plow three times around the field. When this is done, again honor Phra Phum with the scent of incense and the beauty of flowers plucked by your own hands. All shall be done exactly as you desire, said Nai Hah Tong. He followed the priests suggestions and added one more touch of magic. With the planting of each banana tree, he uttered the special secret words given to him by his father-in-law. The gecko had predicted good luck, so Nai Hah Tong was not surprised when his banana trees grew tall, sturdy, and heavy with blossoms. Not very long after he had thousands of firm yellow bananas and myriads of shiny leaves with a soft layer of fluffy fuzz on the underside. Each morning Nai Hah Tong gave Phra Phum an offering of rice from the top of the pot. Then he carefully collected the soft fuzz from the underside of the banana leaves and stored it in a pottery jar. Each morning his wife, Nang song Sai, gave Phra Phum flowers and incense. Then she collected the beautiful yellow bananas, took them to market, sold them and place her tical in a pottery jar. After three lunar years had passed, Nai Hah tong had a half kilo of banana fuzz. His wife had three pottery jars full of tical. Strangely, Nai Hah Tong was so intent upon collecting and storing the fuzz that he paid no attention to his wifes profitable labor. One day Nang song Sais father came to ask if he would have to wait much longer for the two kilos of banana fuzz. When he saw the pottery jar partially full, he appeared worried. I am an old man. If you dont get more land, more banana trees, and more banana fuzz, I shall not live to see copper turned into gold.

Mai pen rai, never mind, father. I will borrow more money to buy more land. Then there shall be more banana trees and I can collect even more banana fuzz, said Nai Hah Tong. Now Nai Hah Tong and his faithful wife worked for many years. The moons rose, waxed, and waned, days ran after days until finally the time arrived when each had accomplished a goal. Nang Song Sai had collected many jars full of tical. Nai Hah Tong had two jars full of banana fuzz. As you can imagine, it was an especially happy day. Nai Hah Tong shouted to his wife, Run and bring your father here. Today he can test his magic. If all goes well, we shall see red copper grow until it is as gold as the sun of Siam. When the old man arrived, Nai Hah Tong bowed very low before him and presented him with the treasured banana fuzz. The old man said: Arise, my son; today you will be a rich man. Nai Hah Tong trembled nervously. Litter rivers of perspiration ran down his face. His fingers shook like banana leaves in the wind. The old man, on the other hand, was not in a hurry. He turned to his daughter and calmly asked, Have you made any money from the sale of the bananas? Oh, yes, chai, chai, my father, she said. Nai Hah Tong thought his father-in-law must be out of his mind. When the copper was waiting to be turned into gold, why worry about the sale of a few bananas? Nang Song Sai brought a tray piled high with golden tical and placed it before her husband. Aha!said her father. Now, Nai Hah Tong, just look at all this money that has been made by following my directions. My son, I cannot turn copper into gold, but you and my daughter have harvested gold from the sale of your bananas. You cared for the young plants until they became trees producing delicious fruit. Is not that just as great a miracle as turning copper into gold? Nai Ha Tong did not answer because he felt like a fool, but he was a very rich fool. His clever wife knelt before him to show her love and respect. When she arouse she said, My husband, you are a master magician. With the help of the gods you cleared land. You cared for the banana trees with the same loving care we give our son. You made the gods happy, and they rewarded you with the golden fruit of the banana trees. Mai chai, that is not right, my clever wife. Do not put a story under your arm and walk away with it. It is your father who is the master magician. he has made his honorable daughter and worth lesson-in-law the richest people in Ayudhya. Nai Hah Tong looked at the meaningless pile of banana fuzz mounted high on the table under the smiling face of his fatherin-law. Right there and then it is said, Nai Hah Tong mixed the banana fuzz with a little water and carefully molded a statue of the old man.

What are you doing? asked his wife. I am making a statue of your father. I hope our sons and our sons sons will treasure it as an heirloom. Each time they look upon it, they will be reminded of my foolishness and your fathers wisdom.

The Two Bothers (An Egyptian FolkTale)

There were once two brothers, Anpu was the older, Bata was the younger. Anpu had a wife, and owned a farm. Bata came to live with Anpu and his wife. Bata worked hard for his brother, plowing the fields, and harvesting the grain, and doing many other tasks. He was very good at his work. The animals would even speak to him. One day Anpu announced that it was time to plow the fields and sow the seeds. And he instructed his brother to take sacks of seed out to the fields. They spent the next few days plowing and sowing seeds. Then Anpu sent Bata back for more seeds. At Anpu's house, Bata found Anpu's wife fixing her hair. Bata said, "Get up and get me some seed, Anpu is waiting." Anpu's wife replied, "Get the seed yourself. I'm busy with my hair." Bata found a large basket, and filled it with seed. And, he carried the basket through the house. Anpu's wife said, "What is the weight of that basket you carry." Bata replied, "There are three sacks of wheat and two of barley." She said, "How strong you are, and handsome. Stay with me and let us make love. And Anpu will never know." Bata replied in horror, "Anpu is like a father to me, and you are like a mother to me. I won't tell anyone of the evil words that you have said. And never let me hear them again." He picked up his basket, and rushed out into the fields. When Anpu got back home, he realized that something was wrong. No fire had been lit, no food had been cooked, and his wife was in bed moaning and weeping. Her clothes were torn, and she seemed to be bruised. Anpu demanded that she tell him what had happened. She replied, "When your brother came to fetch the seed, he saw me fixing my hair. He tried to make love to me. And I refused, saying, 'Is not Anpu like a father to you? And am I not like a mother to you?' And he became angry, and beat me. And he said that he would hurt me more if I told you what had happened. Oh Anpu, kill him for me, or I will surely die." Anpu was angry like a leopard. He took a spear, and hid behind the door of the cattle pen, waiting to kill his brother.

When the sun had gone down, Bata returned with the cattle. The first cow said to Bata, "Your brother hides with a spear, behind the door. And he plans to kill you. Run away while you can." Bata would not believe the cow. But the second cow gave him the same warning. Then he saw his brother's feet behind the door. And he was afraid and ran away. Anpu chased him in great anger. As he ran, Bata called out to Ra, "O my good lord, who judges between the bad and the good, save me." And Ra heard Bata's prayer, and caused a river to flow between them. The river was wide and full of crocodiles. The two brothers stood on opposite banks of the river. Bata shouted to Anpu, "Ra delivers the wicked to the just. But I must leave you. Why did you try to kill me, without giving me a chance to explain?" And Bata told his side of the story. Then Bata took out his knife and cut himself, and he fell to the ground. And Anpu believed him, and was sick at heart. And he longed to be on the other side of the river, with his brother. Bata spoke again, "I must go to the valley of cedars, to be healed. And I shall hide my heart in a cedar tree. And when the cedar tree is cut down, I will be in danger of dying. If your beer turns sour, you will know that I need your help. Come to the valley of cedars and search for my heart. Put my heart in a bowl of water. And I will come back to life again. Anpu promised to obey his brother, and went home. He killed his wife, and threw her body to the dogs. Bata traveled to the valley of cedars, and rested until his wound had healed. He hunted wild beasts and built a house for himself. And he hid his heart in the branches of a tree. One day, the nine gods were walking in the valley. And they saw that Bata was lonely. And Ra ordered Khnum to make a wife for Bata, on his potters wheel. And when the gods breathed life into her, they saw that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. The seven Hathors gathered to declare her fate, and said that she would die a sudden death. Bata loved her. And he knew that whoever saw her would desire her. Every day, as he left to hunt wild animals, he warned her, "Stay in the house, or the sea may try to carry you away. And there is little I could do to save you." One day, when Bata had gone out to hunt, his wife grew bored and went out for a walk. And, as she stood beneath the tree, the sea saw her, and surged up the valley to get her. She tried to flee. But the tree caught her by the hair. She escaped, leaving a lock of her hair in the tree. The sea took the lock of hair, and carried it to Egypt, where the Nile took it. And the hair floated to where the washermen of the King were washing the King's clothes. And the sweet-smelling

hair caused the King's clothes to smell like perfume. And the King complained of this. This happened every day. One day the overseer of the washermen saw the lock of hair caught in the reeds. He ordered that it be brought to him. And he smelled its sweet smell. And he took the lock of hair to the King. And the King's advisers said, "This is a lock of hair from a daughter of Ra." And the King wanted to make this woman his Queen. The King sent many messengers to all lands. All returned to say that they had failed to find the woman. But one returned from the valley of the cedars to say that his companions had been killed by Bata, and that Bata's wife was the woman that he sought. The King sent many soldiers to fetch Bata's wife. And with the soldiers, he sent a woman to give jewels to Bata's wife, and to tell her that the King wanted to make her a queen. Bata's wife told this woman that Bata's heart was hidden in the tree, and that if the tree were cut down, Bata would die. And the soldiers cut down the tree. As the tree fell, Bata fell down dead. And the soldiers chopped up the tree and dispersed the pieces. At the same moment that Bata died, Anpu's beer began to bubble and turn sour. And he immediately put on his sandals, and grabbed his spear and his staff, and hastened to the valley of cedars. There he found his brother dead, and he wept. But he remembered his brother's instruction and searched for his heart. He searched in vain for three years. And he longed to return to Egypt. At the beginning of the fourth year, he said to himself, "If I don't find my brother's heart tomorrow, I will go back home." The next day, he searched again. And near the end of the day, he found what he thought was a seed. But it was Bata's dried up heart. And he put it in a bowl of water, and sat down to wait. The heart grew as it absorbed water. Bata came back to life, but was very weak. Then Anpu held the bowl to Bata's lips, and he swallowed the remaining water, and then swallowed his own heart. And his strength returned to him. And the two brothers embraced. Bata said, "Tomorrow, I will change myself into a sacred bull. And you will ride me back to Egypt. Lead me before the King. And he will reward you. Then return to your house." The next day, Bata changed into a bull. And Anpu rode him to Egypt, and led him before the King. The King rewarded Anpu with gold, and silver, and land, and slaves. And there was rejoicing throughout the land. And Anpu returned to his house. Eventually, Bata encountered his wife, who was now the Queen. And he said, "Look upon me, for I am alive."

She asked, "And who are you?" He replied, "I am Bata. And it was you who caused the tree to be cut down, so that I would be destroyed. But I am alive." And she trembled in fear, and left the room. That evening, the King sat at a feast, with his Queen. And she said to him, "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. The Queen said, "I desire to eat the liver of the sacred bull, for he is nothing to you." The king was upset at her request. But the next day, he commanded that the bull be sacrificed. And the bull was sacrificed. And its blood splattered on each side the gate of the palace. That night, two persea trees sprang up next to the palace gate. The King was told of this miracle, and there was much rejoicing. One day the King and Queen were standing in the trees. And the tree spoke to the Queen, are the one who caused the cedar tree to be made the King slaughter the bull. But, I am alive." And the Queen was afraid. the shade of one of "False woman, you cut down, and you Bata, I am still

Later, when the King and Queen were feasting, the Queen said, "Will you swear by the gods that you will give me anything that I want?" The King promised that he would. The Queen said, "It is my desire that those two persea trees be chopped down, to make furniture for me." The King was troubled by her request. But the next day the King and Queen watched as the trees were cut down. As the Queen stood watching, a chip of wood flew from one of the trees, and flew into her mouth, and she swallowed it. And it made the Queen become pregnant. After many days, the Queen gave birth to a son. The King loved him, and made him heir to the throne. In time the King died, and rejoined the gods. And his son succeeded him as King. The new King (who was Bata) summoned his court, and told everyone the story of his life. And he judged that his wife, who had become his mother, should die for her crimes. And the court agreed. And she was led away to be killed. Bata ruled Egypt for thirty years. Then he died. And his brother Anpu then ruled Egypt.


Long, long ago there lived at the foot of the mountain a poor farmer and his aged, widowed mother. They owned a bit of land which supplied them with food, and their humble were peaceful and happy. Shining was governed by a despotic leader who though a warrior, had a great and cowardly shrinking from anything suggestive of failing health and strength. This caused him to send out a cruel proclamation. The entire province was given strict orders to immediately put to death all aged people. Those were barbarous days, and the custom of abandoning old people to die was not common. The poor farmer loved his aged mother with tender reverence, and the order filled his heart with sorrow. But no one ever thought a second time about obeying the mandate of the governor, so with many deep hopeless sighs, the youth prepared for what at that time was considered the kindest mode of death. Just at sundown, when his days work was ended, he took a quantity of unwhitened rice which is principal food for poor, cooked and dried it, and tying it in a square cloth, swung and bundle around his neck along with a gourd filled with cool, sweet water. Then he lifted his helpless old mother to his back and stated on his painful journey up the mountain. The road was long and steep; the narrowed road was crossed and recrossed by many paths made by the hunters and woodcutters. In some place, they mingled in a confused puzzled, but he gave no heed. One path or another, it mattered not. On he went, climbing blindly upward ever upward towards the high bare summit of what is known as Obatsuyama, the mountain of the abandoning of aged. The eyes of the old mother were not so dim but that they noted the reckless hastening from one path to another, and her loving heart grew anxious. Her son did not know the mountains many paths and his return might be one of danger, so she stretched forth her hand and snapping the twigs from brushes as they passed, she quietly dropped a handful every few steps of the way so that they climbed, the narrow path behind them was dotted at frequently intervals with tiny piles of twigs. At last the summit was reached. Weary and heart sick, the youth gently released his burden and silently prepared a place of comfort as his last duty to the loved one. Gathering fallen pine needle, he made a soft cushion and tenderly lifting his old mother therein, he wrapped her padded coat more closely about the stooping shoulders and with tearful eyes and an aching heart said farewell.

The trembling mothers voice was full of unselfish love as she gave her last injunction. Let not thine eyes be blinded, my son. A She said. The mountain road is full of dangers. LOOK carefully and follow the path which holds the piles of twigs. They will guide you to the familiar way farther down. The sons surprised eyes looked back over the path, then at the poor old, shriveled hands all scratched and soiled by their work of love. His heart smote him and bowing to the grounds, he cried aloud: oh, Honorable mother, thy kindness thrusts my heart! I will not leave thee. Together we will follow the path of twigs, and together we will die! Once more he shouldered his burden (how light it seemed no) and hastened down the path, through the shadows and the moonlight, to the little hut in the valley. Beneath the kitchen floor was a walled closet for food, which was covered and hidden from view. There the son his mother, supplying her with everything needful and continually watching and fearing. Time passed, and he was beginning to feel safe when again the governor sent forth heralds bearing an unreasonable order, seemingly as a boast of his power. His demand was that his subject should present him with a rope of ashes. The entire province trembled with dread. The order must be obeyed yet who in all Shining could make a rope of ashes? One night, in great distress, the son whispered the news to his hidden mother. Wait! she said. I will think. I will think On the second day she told him what to do. Make rope twisted straw, she said. Then stretch it upon a row of flat stones and burn it there on the windless night. He called the people together and did as she said and when the blaze and died, behold upon the stones with every twist and fiber showing perfectly. Lay a rope of whitehead ashes. The governor was pleased at the wit of the youth and praised greatly, but he demanded to know where he had obtained his wisdom. Alas! Alas! cried the farmer, the truth must be told! and with deep bows he related his story. The governor listened and then meditated in silence. Finally he lifted his head. Shining needs more than strength of youth, he said gravely. Ah, that I should have forgotten the well-known saying, with the crown of snow, there cometh a wisdom! That very hour the cruel law was abolished, and custom drifted into as far a past that only legends remain.