THE MAIDEN WITH WOODEN HELMET 273
his house, and told her that henceforward her only duty should be to tend his sick wife. From this time the girl felt as if all her troubles were ended, but the worst of them was yet to come.
Not very long after Hatschihime had become maid to the sick woman, the eldest son of the house returned home from Kioto, where he had been studying all sorts of things. He was tired of the splendours of the town and its pleasures, and was glad enough to be back in the green country, among the peach-blossoms and sweet flowers. Strolling about in the early morning, he caught sight of the girl with the odd wooden helmet on her head, and immediately he went to his mother to ask who she was, and where she came from, and why she wore that strange thing over her face. His mother answered that it was a whim, and nobody could persuade her to lay it aside; whereat the young man laughed, but kept his thoughts to himself.
One hot clay, however, he happened to be going
towards home when he caught sight of his mother's
waiting maid kneeling by a little stream that flowed
through the garden, splashing some water over her face.
The helmet was pushed on one side, and as the youth
stood watching from behind a tree he had a glimpse of
the girl's great beauty; and he determined that no one else
should be his wife. But when he told his family of his
resolve to marry her they were very angry, and made up
all sorts of wicked stories about her. However, they might
have spared themselves the trouble, as he knew it was
only idle talk. ' I have merely to remain firm,' thought
he, ' and they will have to give in.' It was such a good
match for the girl that it never occurred to anyone that
she would refuse the young man, but so it was. It would
not be right, she felt, to make a quarrel in the house, and
though in secret she wept bitterly, for a long while,
nothing would make her change her mind. At length
one night her mother appeared to her in a dream, and bade