The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Hunter Brother of a Dreamer

Holding my lantern high, I ran out into the forest through the terrible storm. “My brother! My brother!” I called.

I found an old temple, climbed the steps, and burst through the golden doors. ‘Where are you, my brother?” I was soaked but I threw my long hair back and searched the dark room with my keen eyes.

He was there, coming towards me with his bright face.

“The dear gods be thanked that I have found you safe and sound!” I cried. “I have been looking for you for half the night, following the stream through the forest. It was my fault for leaving you, my little brother.” He seemed very far away. Was he cold? Did he have a fever? I put the lantern down and pressed my warm hands to his face.

“I have been with the gods all night,” he said, “and I think I see them still. The Lady Kwannon was here, and Benten, Goddess of the Sea and Goddess of Song. She came to me, standing on a dragon with opal eyes. The place is holy, my brother!”

I raised my lantern to examine the bronzed and gilded walls of the old temple. “I see no gods,” I said.

“What do you see, brother?”

“A row of stones, broken images, grey, with moss-grown feet.”

“They are grey because they are sad, they are sad because they are forgotten,” said my brother.

I took him by the hand and led him into the night.

“O brother, how sweet is the scent of the bean fields after the rain.”

“Now bind your sandals on,” I said, “and I’ll run you a race to our home.”

Hunter Brother of a Dreamer, Broken Images, Japanese Fairy Tales. Illustration by Warwick Goble.