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Many years ago in Yedo, in the district of Fukagawa, there lived a rich timber merchant. He and his wife dwelt together in perfect accord, but though their business prospered and their wealth increased as the years went by, they were a disappointed couple, for by the time they had reached middle age they were still unblessed with children. This was a great grief to them, for the one desire of their lives was to have a child. The merchant at last determined to make a pilgrimage to several temples in company with his wife, and to supplicate the gods for the long yearned-for joy of offspring. When the arduous tour was over they both went to a resort in the hills noted for its mineral springs, the woman hoping earnestly that the medicinal waters would improve her health and bring about the desired result. A year passed and the merchant's wife at last gave birth to a daughter. Both parents rejoiced that the Gods had answered their prayers. They reared the child with great care, likening her to a precious gem held tenderly in both hands, and they named her Tama, the Jewel. As an infant Tama gave promise of great beauty, and when she grew into girlhood she more than fulfilled that promise. Their friends all declared that they had never seen such loveliness, and people compared her to a morning-glory, besprinkled with dew and glowing with the freshness of a summer dawn. She had a tiny mole on the side of her snowy neck. This was her sole and distinguishing blemish. Tama, the Jewel, proved a gifted child. She acquired reading and the writing of hieroglyphics with remarkable facility, and in all her studies was in advance of girls of her own age. She danced with grace, and sang and played the koto enchantingly, and she was also accomplished in the arts of flower-arrangement and the tea-ceremony. When she reached the age of sixteen her parents thought it was time to seek a suitable bridegroom for her. Very early marriages were the custom of the day, and besides that her parents wished to see her happily established in life before they grew older. As she was the only child, her husband would become the adopted son, and thus the succession to the family would be secured. However, it proved exceedingly difficult to find anyone who would meet all their requirements. Now it happened that near-by in a small house there lived a man by the name of Hayashi. He was a provincial samurai, but for some reason or other had left his Daimio's domain and settled in Yedo. His wife was long since dead, but he had an only son whom he educated in the refinements of the military class. The family was a poor one, for all samurai were trained to hold poverty in high esteem; and to despise trade and money-making. Both father and son led simple lives and eked out their small patrimony by giving lessons in the reading of the classics and in calligraphy, and by telling fortunes according to the Confucian system of divination. Both were respected by all who knew them for their learning and upright lives. Hace muchos años en Yedo, en el distrito de Fukagawa, vivía un rico comerciante de madera. Él y su esposa vivían juntos en perfecto acuerdo, pero aunque su negocio prosperó y su riqueza aumentó con el paso de los años, fueron una pareja desilusionada, ya que cuando alcanzaron la madurez todavía no tenían hijos. Esto fue un gran dolor para ellos, ya que el único deseo de sus vidas era tener un hijo. El mercader finalmente decidió hacer una peregrinación a varios templos en compañía de su esposa, y suplicar a los dioses por la largamente anhelada alegría de descendencia. Cuando terminó la ardua visita, ambos fueron a un centro turístico en las colinas, famoso por sus manantiales de aguas minerales, y la mujer esperaba fervientemente que las aguas medicinales mejoraran su salud y dieran el resultado deseado. Pasó un año y la esposa del comerciante dio a luz a una hija. Ambos padres se regocijaron de que los dioses habían respondido sus oraciones. Criaron al niño con gran cuidado, comparándola con una gema preciosa sostenida tiernamente con ambas manos, y la llamaron Tama, la Joya. Cuando era niña, Tama le prometió una gran belleza, y cuando creció hasta la adolescencia, ella cumplió esa promesa con creces. Todos sus amigos declararon que nunca habían visto tal belleza, y la gente la comparó con una gloria de la mañana, salpicada de rocío y brillando con la frescura de un amanecer de verano. Ella tenía un pequeño lunar en el lado de su cuello cubierto de nieve. Esta era su única y distintiva imperfección. Tama, la Joya, demostró ser una niña dotada. Ella adquirió la lectura y la escritura de jeroglíficos con notable facilidad, y en todos sus estudios fue por delante de las niñas de su edad. Ella bailó con gracia, y cantó y tocó el koto con encanto, y también se llevó a cabo en las artes del arreglo floral y la ceremonia del té.