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Agaliha
October 26th, 2008, 04:21 AM
The Husband of the Rat's Daughter



Once upon a time there lived in Japan a rat and his wife who came
of an old and noble race, and had one daughter, the loveliest
girl in all the rat world. Her parents were very proud of her,
and spared no pains to teach her all she ought to know. There
was not another young lady in the whole town who was as clever as
she was in gnawing through the hardest wood, or who could drop
from such a height on to a bed, or run away so fast if anyone was
heard coming. Great attention, too, was paid to her personal
appearance, and her skin shone like satin, while her teeth were
as white as pearls, and beautifully pointed.

Of course, with all these advantages, her parents expected her to
make a brilliant marriage, and, as she grew up, they began to
look round for a suitable husband.

But here a difficulty arose. The father was a rat from the tip
of his nose to the end of his tail, outside as well as in, and
desired that his daughter should wed among her own people. She
had no lack of lovers, but her father's secret hopes rested on a
fine young rat, with moustaches which almost swept the ground,
whose family was still nobler and more ancient than his own.
Unluckily, the mother had other views for her precious child.
She was one of those people who always despise their own family
and surroundings, and take pleasure in thinking that they
themselves are made of finer material than the rest of the world.
'HER daughter should never marry a mere rat,' she declared,
holding her head high. 'With her beauty and talents she had a
right to look for someone a little better than THAT.'

So she talked, as mothers will, to anyone that would listen to
her. What the girl thought about the matter nobody knew or
cared--it was not the fashion in the rat world.

Many were the quarrels which the old rat and his wife had upon
the subject, and sometimes they bore on their faces certain marks
which looked as if they had not kept to words only.

'Reach up to the stars is MY motto,' cried the lady one day, when
she was in a greater passion than usual. 'My daughter's beauty
places her higher than anything upon earth,' she cried; 'and I am
certainly not going to accept a son-in-law who is beneath her.'

'Better offer her in marriage to the sun,' answered her husband
impatiently. 'As far as I know there is nothing greater than
he.'

'Well, I WAS thinking of it,' replied the wife, 'and as you are
of the same mind, we will pay him a visit to-morrow.'

So the next morning, the two rats, having spent hours in making
themselves smart, set out to see the sun, leading their daughter
between them.

The journey took some time, but at length they came to the golden
palace where the sun lived.

'Noble king,' began the mother, 'behold our daughter! She is so
beautiful that she is above everything in the whole world.
Naturally, we wish for a son-in-law who, on his side, is greater
than all. Therefore we have come to you.'

'I feel very much flattered,' replied the sun, who was so busy
that he had not the least wish to marry anybody. 'You do me
great honour by your proposal. Only, in one point you are
mistaken, and it would be wrong of me to take advantage of your
ignorance. There is something greater than I am, and that is the
cloud. Look!' And as he spoke a cloud spread itself over the
sun's face, blotting out his rays.

'Oh, well, we will speak to the cloud,' said the mother. And
turning to the cloud she repeated her proposal.

'Indeed I am unworthy of anything so charming,' answered the
cloud; 'but you make a mistake again in what you say. There is
one thing that is even more powerful than I, and that is the
wind. Ah, here he comes, you can see for yourself.'

And she DID see, for catching up the cloud as he passed, he threw
it on the other side of the sky. Then, tumbling father, mother
and daughter down to the earth again, he paused for a moment
beside them, his foot on an old wall.

When she had recovered her breath, the mother began her little
speech once more.

'The wall is the proper husband for your daughter,' answered the
wind, whose home consisted of a cave, which he only visited when
he was not rushing about elsewhere; 'you can see for yourself
that he is greater than I, for he has power to stop me in my
flight.' And the mother, who did not trouble to conceal her
wishes, turned at once to the wall.

Then something happened which was quite unexpected by everyone.

'I won't marry that ugly old wall, which is as old as my
grandfather,' sobbed the girl, who had not uttered one word all
this time. 'I would have married the sun, or the cloud, or the
wind, because it was my duty, although I love the handsome young
rat, and him only. But that horrid old wall--I would sooner
die!'

And the wall, rather hurt in his feelings, declared that he had
no claim to be the husband of so beautiful a girl.

'It is quite true,' he said, 'that I can stop the wind who can
part the clouds who can cover the sun; but there is someone who
can do more than all these, and that is the rat. It is the rat
who passes through me, and can reduce me to powder, simply with
his teeth. If, therefore, you want a son-in-law who is greater
than the whole world, seek him among the rats.'

'Ah, what did I tell you?' cried the father. And his wife,
though for the moment angry at being beaten, soon thought that a
rat son-in-law was what she had always desired.

So all three returned happily home, and the wedding was
celebrated three days after.

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