The Young Hare's Good Deed
and His Arrogance

The"fire stone" puts its holder through an ordeal. The hare in the story "The Fire Stone," Homoi, is given a gift that puts him through an ordeal that almost makes the reader feel sorry for him.
The gift, of course, is that of the fire stone, a mysterious round gem about the size of a horse chestnut that had beautiful red flames flickering inside. It puts its holder to task, because the holder's behavior directly affects whether the flames inside blaze brilliantly or die away.

Homoi was given the "fire stone" by a mother lark as a reward for saving her son. Homoi was given the fire stone by a mother lark as a reward for saving her son from drowning. Seeing the stone, Homoi's father explained, "This is the famous jewel known as the Fire Stone. It's no ordinary jewel, mind you. They say that two birds and a fish were the only ones who ever managed to keep it all their lives. You'll have to take great care of it so that it doesn't lose its light."

Arrogant Homoi Little Homoi, however, assumed a stuffy, self-important attitude when he noticed how the other animals treated him with awe and respect because he was keeper of the fire stone. Many were the times when Homoi's father chastised him for this, saying, "You've gone too far. Go and look at the jewel, I'm sure it's gone all cloudy"; but each time, the stone blazed still redder and more beautifully, and Homoi grew more arrogant.

Homoi forsaked birds caught by the fox. One day, a fox showed Homoi a glass case with a jay, a nightingale, a linnet, and a siskin inside that the fox had caught in a net. The nightingale asked him for help, but the fox shouted, "Homoi! Watch out! Touch that case and I'll tear you to pieces!" Frightened, Homoi ran straight home.

Homoi lost his sight.
Beginning that day, the fire stone began to cloud from a white speck in the middle, as though it had been pricked with a pin, and by midnight its red flames had died away. Homoi's father, upon hearing what happened from his crying son, went to the fox's place and freed all the birds the fox had caught. "We've made the jewel your king gave us go cloudy," he apologized, and he and the birds went back to see it. But by then it was nothing more than a white pebble. Suddenly, it crumbled with a pop, and the powder got in Homoi's eyes, blinding him.

Homoi's father turned to him--he would be without his sight for several days--and said, "Don't cry. This kind of thing could happen to anybody. You're luckier than the rest. Because you know now. Your eyes will get better, I'm sure. I'll see that they do. So come on, don't cry."

Material in quotation marks is
from Once and FOREVER, the tales of kenji miyazawa,
translated by John Bester, published by Kodansha International.

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