Friday, 18 April 2008
12:06:58 AM (GMT)
Urashima stretched the best he could on his small boat; his shoulders ached from the
labor of pulling the crab baskets up all day. The catch today wasn't the worst he had
seen, but he wasn't going to be a rich man from the haul. He was confident it would
take care of his parents, though--and help the rest of the village.
"One last basket," he said out loud to get himself moving. On days like this, he
wished he had a wife to massage his shoulders when he returned home. He wasn't the
most handsome of men, nor was he the richest. His father was lame from a fishing
accident and his mother did the best she could. However, in a small village, he found
no one to be his.
Immediately, he knew something was wrong with the net. The weight was far too great,
unless this was greatest catch of crabs ever! He knew something was fouled in the
net--a rock, seaweed still attached to the bottom, something. Urashima was nothing if
not strong, and with a final great heave, he pulled the net and all its contents over
the side. The boat tilted slightly under the sudden weight and then righted as the
contents settled on the deck.
Urashima was amazed! He had caught a tortoise! A beautiful, large tortoise!
Urashima wasn't the most brilliant of men, but he was never called stupid or foolish.
He was in the middle of the sea. This was a tortoise. Something didn't quite fit.
The large creature's shell glistened as the lowering sun danced off seawater beading
along the shell's ridges and gullies. As Urashima looked closer, he saw that the
dance of light was also caused by the fantastic colors of the shell. The creature
carried a home that looked closer to mother-of-pearl than tortoise shell, yet the
design and shape was that of a regular tortoise.
The price this shell would fetch! A five color tortoise shell! His family would never
again be hungry or want for anything! His parents would never have worries again, nor
would he. Lords would pay a premium for items made from this beautiful artifact.
Urashima watched the tortoise struggling within the net. It truly was a magnificent
creature; not normal by any means. He opened the net and grabbed the creature by the
shell as a few crabs scuttled away on the deck.
With one clean jerk, he picked up the tortoise and swung it. He was rewarded with a
splash of seawater in his face as the creature plunged into the ocean. I have
accepted my fate and who I am, Urashima thought. If I hadn't found this creature I
wouldn't be rich, so there is no real loss in releasing it. His death for my gain
doesn't seem fair. I'm a crab fisherman, not a tortoise hunter.
Urashima decided not to tell anyone of what he saw. This was a secret for himself; a
good deed he could console himself with on cold nights.
Urashima set a course for home.