THERE once lived in Japan a rat and his wife, folk of
noble race, who had one beautiful daughter. They were exceedingly proud of her charms, and
dreamed, as parents will, of the grand marriage she was sure to make in time. Proud of his
pure rodent blood, the father saw no son-in-law more to be desired than a young rat of
ancient lineage, whose attentions to his daughter were very marked. This , match, however,
brilliant as it was, seemed not to the mother's taste. Like many people who think
themselves made out of special clay, she had a very poor opinion of her own kind, and was
ambitious for an alliance with the highest circles. To the stars! was her motto, she
always said, and really, when one has a daughter of incomparable beauty, one may well hope
for an equally incomparable son-in-law.
"Address yourself to the sun at once, then,"
cried the impatient father one day; "there is nothing above him, surely."
"Quite so; I had already thought of it," she
answered, "and since you, too, are in sympathy with the idea, we will make our call
So, on the following morning the proud father and the
haughty mother-rat went together to present their lovely daughter to the orb of day.
"Lord Sun," said the mother, "let me
present our only daughter, who is so beautiful that there is nothing like her in the whole
world. Naturally we desire a son-in-law as wonderful as she, and, as you see, we have come
to you first of all."
"Really," said the sun, "I am extremely
flattered by your proposal, but you do me too much honor; there is some one greater than
I; it is the cloud. Look, if you do not believe." . . . And at that moment the cloud
arrived, and with one waft of his folds extinguished the sun with all his golden rays.
"Very well; let us speak to the cloud, then,"
said the mother-rat, not in the least disconcerted.
"Immensely honored, I am sure," replied the
cloud in his turn, "but you are again mistaken; there is some one greater than I; it
is the wind. You shall see."
At the same moment along came the wind, and with one blow
swept the cloud out of sight, after which, overturning father, mother, and daughter, he
tumbled with them, pell-mell, at the foot of an old wall.
"Quick, quick," cried the mother-rat,
struggling to her feet, "and let us repeat our compliments to the wind."
"You'd better address yourself to the wall,"
growled the wind roughly. You see very well he is greater than I, for he stops me and
makes me draw back."
No sooner had she heard these words than mother-rat faced
about and presented her daughter to the wall. Ah, but now the fair rat-maiden imitated the
wind; she drew back also. He whom she really adored in her heart of hearts was the
fascinating young rat who had paid his court to her so well. However, to please
Fortunately the wall excused himself, like all the rest.
"Certainly," he said, "I can stop the wind, who can sweep away the cloud,
who can cover up the Sun, but there is some one greater than I: it is the rat, who can
pass through my body, and can even, if he chooses, reduce me to powder with his teeth.
"Do you hear that, wife, do you hear it ?"
cried father-rat in triumph. "Didn't I always say so ?"
"Quite true! you always did," returned the
mother-rat in wonder, and suddenly glowed with pride in her ancient name and lineage.
So they all three went home, very happy and contented, and on the morrow the lovely rat-maiden married her faithful rat-lover.
FROM THE BOOK:
<THE YOUNG FOLKS TREASURY>
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY INC.