Selfless bravery is rewarded, selfish braggadocio is ridiculed--in characteristically, cunningly Japanese illustrations. Beginning with the cheery jacket painting of the old woman cutting lengths from the magic bolt of cloth for all the little girls, even for the village goat. She's given it by the Witch of the Mountains, rather a friendly spirit, as a reward for bringing the wanted rice cakes up the mountain--the old lady had offered to guide the two village blow-hards who were first delegated (i.e. relegated); when they had faltered, she had persisted. The witch is weak from giving birth to a Herculean baby and so the old lady stays with her for a time. His antics and, upon her return, the way the cloth stretches to cover everyone in the village, are drawn in a witty, fluent kind of shorthand that's a spur to the imagination; but then Mr. Segawa makes magic also of the witch, her son and the old lady supping on bear soup. It's really something to see.