The Bamboo Maiden

Once there was an old man who used to play on a bamboo flute every day. To his surprise the flute began to soften, and at last it became a lovely maiden. The old man said, “Beautiful spirit of the flute, will you remain here as my daughter?”

The maiden smiled and said, “It was your love of music that caused me to come to earth”. And she remained as his daughter, and he loved her very much.

Now, the maiden was so beautiful, so gentle, and so loving to her old father, that she became known all over the Empire. Many men sought her as their bride, but she told her father she did not want to marry.

One day five young men came to ask the old man for the maiden. When he told her, she said, “I will marry the one who can obtain three things for me: a silver pin four inches long; a branch from the cassia tree in the moon; and a key of gold from the Yellow Sea.

When the young men heard this, they set out to get the silver pin, the branch of the cassia tree, and the key of gold from the Yellow Sea.

The first youth had no patience. He soon gave up and returned to his home.

The second one had a silver pin and a golden key made. Then he broke off a branch of a cassia tree. But when the maiden saw these things, she said: “This cassia branch is of earth.” So the dishonest man went away and never returned.

The third youth searched and searched for the three precious things, but at last he became ill and died.

The fourth youth went into an official’s house and tried to steal the treasures. He was put in prison and never returned to the home of the bamboo maiden.

Now, as the fifth youth went toward the Yellow Sea, he came upon a wild goose who fluttered helplessly upon the ground. The youth was filled with pity and asked: “Wild goose, why do you flutter about upon the earth? Why don’t you fly up into the heavens?”

The wild goose replied, “Youth with the Heart of Kindness, I cannot move one of my wings. I am always in pain.”

The youth looked at the wing of the wild goose and found that someone had fastened the wing together with a silver pin. When he removed it, the wild goose said, “Youth with the Heart of Kindness, allow me to give you this silver pin.” Then the goose flew up into the heavens, and the youth went his way filled with happiness.

As he approached the Yellow Sea, he saw a poor old man sitting upon the ground. “Give me a little money! I have had no food for days and days,” cried the old man.

The youth was moved by the suffering face of the old man, and gave him his purse and all of his money.

The old man said. “Youth with the Heart of Kindness, I shall keep the money, but here is the purse.”

The youth took it, and lo, it suddenly changed into the branch of a cassia tree. Then he went his way with a heart full of happiness.

As he walked along the beach of the Yellow Sea he saw a fish that lay gasping upon the sand. Filled with pity, the youth picked up the fish and put it back into the water.

Immediately it darted down into the sea, then returned to him with a golden key in its mouth. With a low bow, the fish placed the key at the feet of the youth.

Here were the three precious things! With his heart nearly bursting with happiness, he hastened back to the home of the old man.

Then the Bamboo Maiden married the Youth with the Heart of Kindness. They lived happily, and had many sons and daughters.