The Good Thunder

Howbeit the Thunder Dragon spared him. And soon he sat up and rubbed his eyes. The ball of fire was gone, but a babe lay upon the wet earth; a fine fresh boy with the rain upon his cheeks and his hair.

“Oh, Lady, Lady Kwannon,” said the poor peasant man, “this is thy sweet mercy.” And he took the boy in his arms and carried him to his own home.

As he went the rain still fell, but the sun came out in the blue sky, and every flower in the cooler air shone and lifted up its grateful head.

The peasant came to his cottage door.

“Wife, wife,” he called, “I have brought you something home.”

“What may it be?” said his wife.

The man answered, “Rai-Taro, the little eldest son of the Thunder.”

Rai-Taro grew up straight and strong, the tallest, gayest boy of all that country-side. He was the delight of his foster-parents, and all the neighbours loved him. When he was ten years old he worked in the rice-fields like a man. He was the wonderful weather prophet.

“My father,” he said, “let us do this and that, for we shall have fair weather”; or he said, “My father, let us the rather do this or that, for to-night there will be a storm,” and whatever he had said, so, sure enough, it came to pass. And he brought great good fortune to the poor peasant man, and all his works prospered.

When Rai-Taro was eighteen years old all the neighbours were bidden to his birthday feast. There was plenty of good sake, and the good folk were merry enough; only Rai-Taro was silent and sad and sorry.

“What ails you, Rai-Taro?” said his foster-mother. “You who are wont to be the gayest of the gay, why are you silent, sad and sorry?”

“It is because I must leave you,” Rai-Taro said.

“Nay,” said his foster-mother, “never leave us, Rai-Taro, my son. Why would you leave us?”

“Mother, because I must,” said Rai-Taro in tears.

“You have been our great good fortune; you have given us all things. What have I given you? What have I given you, Rai-Taro, my son?”

Rai-Taro answered, “Three things have you taught me—to labour, to suffer, and to love. I am more learned than the Immortals.”

Then he went from them. And in the likeness of a white cloud he scaled heaven’s blue height till he gained his father’s castle. And Rai-den received him. The two of them stood upon the western rampart of the Castle of Cloud and looked down to earth.

The foster-mother stood weeping bitterly, but her husband took her hand.

“My dear,” he said, “it will not be for long. We grow old apace.”

From Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales by Grace James.
London: Macmillan and Co., 1910.

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Folk tales

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East AsiaJapan

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