This fairy tale was all about a princess who was so beautiful she was called Dear Delight Of The World. Everyone from Princes, warriors and Gods went to gaze at the princess and offer her gifts. Each one of them wanted her to be their ride. The princess listened to her admirers, but none of them captured her heart. She would merely shake her head and then they’d go away.
The God of Autumn was determined to win her heart. He was handsome, brave and strong, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. When she turned him down, he was gutted and couldn’t understand why. His brother, The God of Spring, who was with him said that he’d propose to her the next day. The God of Autumn roared with laughter. The God of Spring was so infatuated that he didn’t care.
The brothers had a bet that if she accepted Spring’s proposal then Autumn would give them a cask of rice wine. If not, Spring would have to give Autumn the cask. Spring accepted.
He went to his mother and asked for her help with preparing for his proposal to the Princess. His mother saw love in his eyes and got to work finding a new robe, sandals and a bow and arrow. She used magically made him his items ready for the big day. When his mother handed him the items, he thought they looked dull but didn’t want to be ungrateful. He thanked his mum and set off.
When arriving at the palace, the God of Spring looked dull, especially to the Princess’s maids. When the Princess looked at Spring, she saw all the magic and beauty that his mother had put into the items and immediately accepted his proposal.
Autumn was incredibly jealous and refused to fulfil the bet. He wished them a lifetime of misery. When their mother found out about Autumn’s anger, she cut a hollow cane of bamboo and filled it with salt and stones. Then she wrapped the bamboo with leaves and hung it up above the fire. She spoke the words that when green leaves fade and die, so shall he, her Autumn son.
That’s why, the story says, Spring is fresh and merry and Autumn is the saddest time.
An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)