In ancient days there lived in a remote part of Japan a man and his wife,
and they were blessed with a little girl, who was the pet and idol of her
parents. On one occasion the man was called away on business in distant
Kyoto. Before he went he told his daughter that if she were good and
dutiful to her mother he would bring her back a present she would prize
very highly. Then the good man took his departure, mother and daughter
watching him go.
At last he returned to his home, and after his wife and child had taken
off his large hat and sandals he sat down upon the white mats and opened
a bamboo basket, watching the eager gaze of his little child. He took
out a wonderful doll and a lacquer box of cakes and put them into her
outstretched hands. Once more he dived into his basket, and presented
his wife with a metal mirror. Its convex surface shone brightly, while
upon its back there was a design of pine trees and storks.
The good man's wife had never seen a mirror before, and on gazing into it
she was under the impression that another woman looked out upon her as
she gazed with growing wonder. Her husband explained the mystery and
bade her take great care of the mirror.
Not long after this happy homecoming and distribution of presents the
woman became very ill. Just before she died she called to her little
daughter, and said: "Dear child, when I am dead take every care of your
father. You will miss me when I have left you. But take this mirror,
and when you feel most lonely look into it and you will always see me."
Having said these words she passed away.
In due time the man married again, and his wife was not at all kind to
her stepdaughter. But the little one, remembering her mother's words,
would retire to a corner and eagerly look into the mirror, where it
seemed to her that she saw her dear mother's face, not drawn in pain as
she had seen it on her deathbed, but young and beautiful.
One day this child's stepmother chanced to see her crouching in a corner
over an object she could not quite see, murmuring to herself. This
ignorant woman, who detested the child and believed that her stepdaughter
detested her in return, fancied that this little one was performing some
strange magical art--perhaps making an image and sticking pins into it.
Full of these notions, the stepmother went to her husband and told him
that his wicked child was doing her best to kill her by witchcraft.
When the master of the house had listened to this extraordinary recital
he went straight to his daughter's room. He took her by surprise, and
immediately the girl saw him she slipped the mirror into her sleeve. For
the first time her doting father grew angry, and he feared that there
was, after all, truth in what his wife had told him, and he repeated her
When his daughter had heard this unjust accusation she was amazed at her
father's words, and she told him that she loved him far too well ever to
attempt or wish to kill his wife, who she knew was dear to him.
"What have you hidden in your sleeve?" said her father, only half
convinced and still much puzzled.
"The mirror you gave my mother, and which she on her deathbed gave to
me. Every time I look into its shining surface I see the face of my dear
mother, young and beautiful. When my heart aches--and oh! it has ached
so much lately--I take out the mirror, and mother's face, with sweet,
kind smile, brings me peace, and helps me to bear hard words and cross
Then the man understood and loved his child the more for her filial
piety. Even the girl's stepmother, when she knew what had really taken
place, was ashamed and asked forgiveness. And this child, who believed
she had seen her mother's face in the mirror, forgave, and trouble
forever departed from the home.