The Yoshida Goten had shorter shrift than its once occupant. The daimyo[u] were moving into yashiki under the compulsory residence edict. The kyakubun were still met at the outskirts of the city, but the many different palaces for their entertainment became superfluous. The main part of the Yoshida Goten was pulled down, and its magnificent timbers and decoration went to the equipment of the prior's hall of the Kugyo[u]ji of Iinuma. This great temple, situate one ri (2-1/2 miles) to the north of Midzukaido-machi, in the plain at the base of Tsukuba-san, is one of the eighteen holy places of the Kwanto[u], and under the charge of the Jo[u]do[u] sect of Buddhists. In former days the notice board was posted at the Chu[u]mon (middle gate), ordering all visitors to dismount from horse or kago. The bushi removed their swords on presenting themselves for worship. The temple itself is of moderately ancient foundation, being established in Oei 21st year (1414) by the two Hanyu lords, Tsunesada and Yoshisada, who built the castles of Yokosome and Hanyu, close by here in Shimosa. Grand is the hondo[u] (main hall); and grand the magnificent old pines and cedars which surround it and line its avenues. These are set off by the girdle of the flowering cherry, famed among the ancient seven villages of Iimura. Moreover it was the scene of the early labours in youth of the famous bishop—Yu[u]ten So[u]jo[u]; who solved so successfully the blending of the pale maple colour of its cherry blossoms that he gave the name myo[u]jo[u] no sakura, a new transcript of the "six characters." Here he grappled with and prevailed over the wicked spirit of the Embukasane. In later writers there is a confusion as to the tale of the Yoshida Goten. The palace material was used for the construction of the prior's hall. In the Genwa period (1615-23) the Senhimegimi, eldest daughter of Hidetada Ko[u] the second sho[u]gun, cut short her beautiful hair and assumed the name of the Tenju-in-Den (as nun). The hair was buried here under an imposing monument; and later one of the ladies-in-waiting of the princess—the Go-tsubone Iiguchi Hayao. (The name of the princess Tsuruhime in kana is probably a later and mistaken addition.) Thus were the many adventures of the Takata Dono transferred to her equally well known and beautiful elder sister. The Senhime, wife of Hideyori, suffered and did quite enough herself for which to make answer. Meanwhile the site of the Yoshida Goten in the Bancho[u] became more than suspected. Jack-o-lanterns, the ghosts of the victims of the himegimi, came forth from the old well to haunt and frighten passers-by. Nor were subsequent attempts to use it encouraging. Thus the ground lay idle and uncalled for, with no one to occupy it until the grant of a large tract in Dosanbashi as site for the yashiki of Matsudaira Higo no Kami compelled removal of several of the hatamoto. Among these were O[u]kubo Hikoroku and Aoyama Shu[u]zen.
THE SEN-HIMEGIMI (Princess Sen)
The Sen-himegimi, eldest daughter of Hidetada the second Sho[u]gun, figures little in our story; enough so, however, to necessitate the telling of one of the not least striking episodes in a life full of event. Married at the mature age of six years to the Udaijin Hideyori, son of the Taiko[u] Hideyoshi and lord of O[u]saka castle, those childish years were the happiest of that period. Clouds were rising between Toyotomi and Tokugawa as the princess approached nubile years. On her the Yodogimi, mother of the Udaijin, visited the more personal effects of her resentment. For the growing girl it was a period of tears and affliction. In truth she well knew the weight of her mother-in-law's hand. So wretched was her life that there was some fear of her killing herself. A powerful influence in screening her in these later years was that of the famous Kimura Nagato no Kami. Shigenari and his wife Aoyagi were the guides and friends of the himegimi during this trying period; her councillors to forestall cause of the Yodogimi's wrath. Moreover the pleasant relations between the young husband and wife were an incentive to bear a burden patiently, which time might remove. Nevertheless the Yodogimi was inexorable. The night screens were set up in different chambers. When the Sen-himegimi made her escape from O[u]saka castle she was sixteen years old, and in all likelihood a virgin.
As to the stories of her escape from the besieged castle, then in the very throes of the final vigorous and successful assault by the three hundred thousand men surrounding it, these vary. According to one account Iyeyasu Ko[u], brows knit with anxiety as he watched his men pressing to the attack, thumped his saddle bow as vigorously as waning years now permitted—"The Senhime to wife, to him who brings her safe from the castle!" Not a man in his train moved. They looked at the blazing mass before them, the flying missiles—and staid where they were. Then came forward a Tozama daimyo[u], Sakasaki Dewa no Kami Takachika. Prostrating himself he announced his purpose to make the attempt. Making his way into the blazing pile of the burning castle he found the Senhime amid her frightened maids. Wrapping her up carefully he took her in his arms, and with great regard for her person, and none for his own, he sought her rescue. The last chance was through the blazing mass of the great gate. Just as he was about to clear it, down came the tottering superincumbent structure almost on their heads. The red hot tiles, the sparks like a fiery deluge, the blazing fragments of wood carried and tossed by the air currents, surrounded them as in a furnace. Nearly all the train perished in the attempt. Dewa no Kami succeeded in presenting himself before the O[u]gosho[u] (Iyeyasu). Even the old captain could but turn with pity from the hideously disfigured man. The Senhime in all her beauty was saved. Bitter was her resentment against all—father, grandfather, their partisans—who had refused the gift of life to the young husband. Rescue or no rescue, she absolutely refused to carry out the agreement and become the wife of this—mask.
Other tales are less romantic. The most prosaic sends Dewa no Kami to Kyo[u]to, on orders of Hidetada Ko[u]. For the princess a second bed was to be found among the Sekke (the five great kuge Houses of the imperial court). The mission was not unsuccessful, but by the time the messenger returned Hidetada had changed his mind. Brusquely he offered her to Dewa no Kami. The Senhime got wind of these movements. Her resentment toward the Tokugawa House determined her hostile stand. She would not be an instrument to their advancement. Family relations were taken very seriously. It is to be remembered that her uncle Hideyasu, adopted into the Toyotomi, was so fiercely loyal to that House that his natural father, the O[u]gosho[u] Iyeyasu, poisoned him, by his own hand and a gift of cakes, it is said. Those likely to hitch and hamper the movement against O[u]saka, such as the famous Kato[u] Kiyomasa, found short shrift in the soup bowl. At all events the insult of refusal fell on Dewa no Kami. After all, by the most authentic tale, he seems to have deserved no particular credit. As to the actual escape from O[u]saka-Jo[u] either of the following versions can be accepted. As suicide was the inevitable issue for the defeated, the Yodogimi, with some reluctance, had announced her purpose; and her intent to involve the himegimi in the fate of herself and son. This was but the ethics of the time; and was neither cruel nor unusual. It was thoroughly constitutional. Fortunately the fears of the Lady Dowager made her add—"the time is not yet propitious." She left the keep, intending to ascertain in person how matters went on outside, before going on with the ceremony inside. The maids of the Senhime at once surrounded her and urged flight. Overpowering any resistance, moral and physical, these energetic samurai women bundled their mistress well into futon (quilts). Then with no particular gentleness they lowered her over the castle wall. Others followed her—to destruction or better luck, without futon. Some twenty of them risked the descent. Horiuchi Mondo[u], a gentleman of Kishu[u] Kumano, noticed the unusual group. They besought an aid for the princess he readily gave. Dewa no Kami happened to come on the scene, and promptly took the responsibility of the safety of the princess on his own shoulders.
Here the two versions join, for by the other Ono Shuri, captain of the defense and hence most seriously involved, sought the safety of his own daughter. The princess therefore was sent from the castle, under the care of his karo[u] Yonemura Gonemon, to plead for the lives of the Udaijin and his mother the Yodogimi. Ono was careful to include his daughter in the train, and the karo[u] followed his illustrious example. Dewa no Kami met the party outside the castle, and grasped the chance of being agreeable by escorting it to the camp of the O[u]gosho[u]. Honda Sado no Kami here was in charge. His mission to the grandfather was eminently successful. Iyeyasu, overjoyed at the escape of the beloved grandchild, consented; provided that of the actual Sho[u]gun be obtained. All rejoiced, with little thought of Hidetada's harsh feeling. Perhaps the message expressed this; perhaps it was spoken to cover refusal, for he had deep affection for his children. But as in greatest wrath he made answer—"The thing is not to be spoken of. Why did she not die together with Hideyori?" The Senhime was safe enough now in his camp; and he did not purpose the escape of his rival Hideyori, to be a permanent danger to his House. The princess, worn out by many days of suffering, went to sleep in the shed which furnished her with quarters, and never woke until high noon on the following day. By that time she could choose between the tales of her husband's escape to Satsuma; or his suicide and her widowhood, the only proof of which was the finding of the hereditary sword of the Toyotomi House. She clung to the former story, despite the ascertained suicide of the Yodogimi, who hardly would have allowed the escape of the son and her own destruction. Thus disgruntled, later the himegimi was removed to Kyo[u]to, fiercely hostile to all the Kwanto[u] influence.
A word in conclusion as to the fate of the attendants, thus skilfully foisted on her. The daughter of Ono Shuri had escaped, with all the sufferings and passions aroused by family disaster. When subsequently the princess was removed to Edo she went in her train. They were companions in misfortune. In the hostile atmosphere she was taken with a consumption, long to undergo its torments. Overcome by homesickness she would return to former scenes, and worship at her father's grave. Permission was now granted. Yonemura accompanied the dying girl to the capital. Here Ono Shuri had lost his head in the bed of the Kamogawa (the execution ground). Here at Kyo[u]to the daughter found her tortured end. Gloomy the old vassal prepared the funeral pyre of his mistress. As the flames shot high and wrapped the corpse, a woman's figure darted forward and sprang into the midst. Unable to distinguish the bones of his daughter from those of the honoured mistress, Gonemon placed the remains of both within the same casket, to rest at the last beneath the pines and cedars of the holy mountain of Ko[u]ya.
On June 4th (1615) the castle had fallen. The date is important in connection with one of the current scandals. Later the Senhime was escorted down to Edo by Honda Mino no Kami Tadamasa, in whose train was his handsome son To[u]nosuke (Tadatoki). He is said to have been like enough in appearance to the Udaijin Hideyori to act as his substitute in the most intimate sense. The fierce little lady fell violently in love with him. By the time Edo was reached she ought to have married Honda, and in the passage of the months and days would have to. At all events this rather disproportionate marriage was early proposed to the council of the Bakufu, and after some discussion accepted. This decision was not reached until Genwa 2nd year 9th month (October 1616), or more than a full year after the fall of the castle. The failure to carry out the agreement with Dewa no Kami afforded ample reason for the extremity to which this latter's rage was carried. By all accounts he had lost a bride, the acknowledged beauty of the land, apart from the great influence of the connection. Perhaps his own hideous disfigurement was involved. He determined to lie in wait for the journey down to Himeji, Honda's fief; and kill or carry off the lady. The Sho[u]gun's Government got wind of the purpose. The lords were storming with wrath, and a public fracas was feared. All composition had been refused. Dewa refused to see his friend Yagyu[u] Munenori, sent to him as messenger of greatest influence. Secret orders then were sent that Dewa no Kami must be induced to cut belly, or—his vassals ought to send his head to Edo. The Sho[u]gun's word and bond must be saved. The vassals knew their lord, and had not loyalty enough to act otherwise than to sever his head, as he lay sleeping off a drunken fit in broad daylight. It was against rewarding this disloyal act that Honda Masazumi showed open opposition to the council's decision; and Hidetada Ko[u] himself disapproved enough not to inflict extinction (kaieki) on the family of the dead lord, the usual process. The continuance of the succession was permitted on the Sho[u]gun's order. All these matters were so public that little credit is to be given to the role assigned to Sakasaki Dewa no Kami in the event about to be described; the issue of which was so unfortunate in the carrying out, that Sakasaki, in command of the bridal cortege and keenly feeling the disgrace, cut open his belly in expiation; and that the Government, to hush up talk as to attack on the train of the princess, put forward as explanation the proposed treachery and resultant death of Dewa no Kami.
As to the event itself: with greatest reluctance, uncertain as to her former husband's fate, the Senhime had been forced into agreement with the Honda marriage. From the Nishimaru (western) palace the bridal cortege took its way to the yashiki of Honda near the Hitotsubashi Gomon. Time was at a discount in those days, and by no means was the shortest route to anything taken. The procession filed out of the Sakurada Gomon, to circle with its pompous glitter the outer moat. All went very well. The yashiki walls bordering Tayasumura were slipping by. Then the steadily accumulating clouds poured forth their contents. It was a downpour, blinding in effect. The rokushaku of the Kurokwagumi—stout and tall palanquin bearers, "six footers"—floundered and staggered in the mud. The heavy palanquin came to the ground. Great was the rage of the princess at this unseemly precedent for such an occasion. "Rude ruffians! By this very hand this scum shall die!" Te-uchi was to be the lot of the miserable fellows prostrate in obeisance and seeking pardon in the blinding storm from the lady's dagger, menacing them from the open door of the palanquin. The Lady of O[u]saka was quite capable of carrying out her threat. Abe Shiro[u]goro[u], later the famous Bungo no Kami, was equal to the occasion. With soft words he would soothe her. "Congratulations to the Himegimi! May her highness deign to accept the so happy augury of present ill luck bringing good fortune throughout a long and happy life. Deign to regard with future favour the words of Shiro[u]goro[u]." He got as near the mud as he dared in his respectful salutation. The lady's face softened. She was appeased.
Then she held up the hand, with the dagger still ready for action. Shiro[u]goro[u] sprang to his feet. Something else than storm was in progress. In the escort ahead there were other sounds than the rumbling and sharp crash of the thunder, the swishing of rain wind driven. The flashes of lightning showed that the cortege was the object of a most determined attack, which sought to make its way to the palanquin of the princess. Abe Shiro[u]goro[u] would have leaped forward, but the flashing eyes and presence of the himegimi held him to her nearer defence. The number of the assailants could not be ascertained in this darkness like to night. The tower of defence was Yagyu[u] Tajima no Kami, greatest master of the sword in Nippon. He had the support of the younger O[u]kubo, of Kondo[u] Noborinosuke, of Mizuno Juro[u]zaemon even then noted as expert with the spear. In general command was the beloved superintendent of the hatamoto, O[u]kubo Hikozaemon. In daylight the affair would have been easy. But in this darkness they had to stand to their defence. That it was an attack by O[u]saka ro[u]nin, enraged at the marriage of the princess, there was no doubt. But what their numbers? So far the defense was impregnable. There was nothing to fear. Three of the leaders of the ro[u]nin lay on the ground. Their chief, visible in the lightning flashes, could not hope for success. It was the old and still active Hikozaemon, the oyaji (old chap), the hardened warrior of Iyeyasu, who scented out the threatening move. He sprang off into the dark wood, almost as the crack of the musket was heard. They would seek the life of the himegimi with deadly missiles! How contemptible; for great as yet was the scorn of such use. Vigorous was the old man's pursuit of a foe, seeking to ascertain his success and reluctant to flee. "Ah! Ah! Rascal! Just wait! Wait for this Hikozaemon!" The fellow did wait, a little too long. Noting the lessening darkness, the discomfiture of his train, he turned to flee in real earnest. As he did so, Hikozaemon, despairing of success, hurled his dirk. Deep into the fellow's shoulder it went. "Atsu!" Savagely he turned on the old man. Hikozaemon was skilled in defence, but stiffening with age. His opponent showed himself an able warrior. "Ah! Ha! 'Tis Hikozaemon Dono. With him there is no quarrel. Deign to receive a wound." The old fellow's sword dropped helpless under a sharp rap over the wrist from the back of the blade. This was enough for the man's purpose. With laughing and respectful salutation, of short duration, he turned to a more successful flight.
The storm cleared away, the cortege was re-formed; to enter in state the yashiki of Honda Sama. It was said that he got but a cold bride—one on whom only "the bed quilt lay light." Time, the ascertained fact of Hideyori's death, worked a change in the insanity simulated by the princess. Then she was so taken with her lord that she proved fatal to him. He died at the age of thirty-one years, was buried in his castle town of Himeji, leaving but one daughter as issue by the princess. The lady returned to residence at the Takebashi Goten, to be a disgruntling influence in her brother's court. But Honda Ke had not done badly. This consort made him a minister in the Sho[u]gun's household (Nakatsukasa no Tayu), a more likely promotion than one at the age of sixteen years, at this date of the Sho[u]gunate. From 10,000 koku his fief was raised to 150,000 koku; and he secured a wife so beautiful that his exodus to the houris of Paradise was a bad exchange. Meanwhile what was the cause of objection, thus expressed by force of arms, to the conduct and nuptials of the Sen-himegimi?
The struggle between Toyotomi and Tokugawa was of that embittered character which follows from two diverse theories of political structure. The Taiko[u] Hideyoshi, by force of military genius and constructive statesmanship, had assumed the pre-eminent position in the land. In doing so he had drawn to himself a sturdy band of followers whose whole faith and devotion lay in the Toyotomi. Such were the "seven captains," so conspicuous in the defence of O[u]saka-Jo[u] in later years. Such were the doughty fighters Susukita Kaneyasu (Iwami Ju[u]taro[u]) and Ban Danemon. The latter unceremoniously shook off allegiance to his lord on the latter's treachery at Sekigahara, and turned ro[u]nin. Such were great recalcitrant nobles thumped into complete submission, granted unexpected and favourable terms in their capitulation, devoted henceforth to the Toyotomi House, and of whom the Cho[u]so[u]kabe of Tosa are representative. It is the fashion of modern historians to regard and speak of these brave men as irreconcileables and swashbucklers; thus tamely following after the Tokugawa writers of contemporary times, and imperialistic writers of to-day, to whom all opposition to the favoured "Ins" is high treason. As matter of fact, if men like the Ono were lukewarm and seeking their own advantage; if Obata Kambei Kagemori was a mere traitorous spy of the Tokugawa; Sanada Yukimura and Kimura Nagato no Kami, and in humbler sense Susukita Kaneyasu and Ban Danemon, if they had much to gain by the victory of their lord, yet were willing to endure hardship, face a defeat early seen, and accept the inevitable death which was meted out to him who refused the attempts at bribery and corruption of the victor. The "ro[u]nin," of whom the then Tokugawa chronicles and captains spoke so contemptuously, were in the bulk not only "the outs," as opposed to "the ins," but they were too devoted to their party tamely to accept service with the enemy. Large were the bribes actually offered to Sanada and Kimura; and any or all of the seven captains could have made terms of advantage—to themselves.
"The scent of the plum, with the flower of the cherry; Blooming on branch of willow 'tis seen."
Iyemitsu Ko[u] hung this poem on the flowering plum tree to which he gave the name of Kimura no Ume; a conscious tribute to the chivalry of Shigenari. And O[u]kubo Hikozaemon risked life and favour in the destruction of the plant, and rebuke of the bad taste shown to men who had lost fathers, brothers, gone down before the deadly spear of the young captain.
The fall of O[u]saka-Jo[u] decided the fate of the Toyotomi House. Not at once, for the rumour of the Udaijin's escape to Kyu[u]shu[u] kept alive hopeful resentment in the minds of the scattered samurai whose captains had perished in the battles around O[u]saka, had died or cut belly in the final assault, or had lost their heads by the executioner's sword in the bed of the Kamogawa. Among those who found refuge in the hills of Iga was a certain Ogita Kuro[u]ji; a retainer of Nagato no Kami. This man gathered a band of kindred spirits, among whom his favoured lieutenant was Mo[u]ri Muneoki, although he much leaned to the astonishing acumen of Kosaka Jinnai, a mere boy in years, but hiding in his short and sturdy form a toughness and agility, with expertness in all feats of arms, which discomfited would be antagonists. In the discussions as to future movements there was wide difference of opinion. Muneoki, the true partisan, proposed to rejoin Hideyori in Satsuma. "The prince is now harboured by Higo no Kami; Shimazu Dono of Satsuma, close at hand, will never permit the entrance of the Tokugawa into his borders. It is at Kagoshima-Jo[u] that the prince will reorganize his party; and thither duty calls." But Kosaka Jinnai was equally positive in the opposite sense. He turned Muneoki's own argument against the proposal. The prince could well be left to organize the West. It was for others to see how affairs went in the North. Therefore the first thing was to hasten to Edo, to ascertain the position of Date Masamune and the great northern lords at this final triumph of the Tokugawa, when at last their jealousy and fear might be aroused to opposition.
Adventurous inclination, the desire to meet rather than run away from the enemy, turned the scale to Edo. Reluctantly Muneoki agreed. With Jinnai he proceeded, to learn the state of affairs as to the great northern House, so devoted to the new creed of Yaso (Jesus) as certain to be angry and alarmed at the savage persecution now entered on by the second Sho[u]gun. They returned to meet Ogita and the other captains at Odawara, and with unpleasant news. Masamune Ko[u], luckily for his would be interviewers, was absent at Sendai. However there was no difficulty in finding out that far from dreaming of further embassies to Rome from the Prince of O[u]shu[u], he had and was acting so vigorously that probably in no quarter of Nippon was the hostile and treacherous creed so thoroughly stamped out. The watch and ward of the north country was practically left to a loyalty of which the Tokugawa felt assured. Muneoki made this report with bitter joy, and Jinnai could not say him nay. Then the former carried out his first plan. He made his way to Kyu[u]shu[u], to learn the truth as to the Udaijin's fate. Assured of this he harboured with the malcontents of Higo and Hizen, to take his part and perish some years later in the Amakusa uprising.
Perhaps the tartness of Mori's criticism made his company unacceptable. Ogita preferred to follow the urging of Jinnai and his own inclination to observe how matters were going in Edo. Most of the company followed him, to establish themselves as best they could in the confusion of the growing town, rendered a thousand times worse by the settlement of the later troubles and the flocking of all classes to this eastern capital. Ogita set up as a doctor in Daikucho[u] (carpenters' street) of the Nihonbashi ward, under the name of Gita Kyu[u]an. His chief lieutenant, Jinnai, settled close to his leader in Kuremasacho[u], figuring as a physiognomist, of near enough relation to excite no comment in the companionship with the older man. His own years were disguised by an ample growth of hair and the past experience of an accomplished rascal. Jinnai could have passed himself off for a man of thirty odd years. The house of a physiognomist was overrun with visitors, whom Jinnai knew how to sift, and who had no particular wish to encounter each other. Hence the presence of the leaders, with his own particular followers, Watanabe Mondo, Ashizuke To[u]suke, Yokoyama Daizo[u], Hyu[u]chi To[u]goro[u], excited no comment among the neighbours. The question of the marriage of the Senhime, the honoured widow of the Udaijin Ko[u], soon was stirring up a ferment in higher circles than these in Edo town. Sakai Uta no Kami and Doi Oi no Kami of the ro[u]ju[u] (council of state) were keen to urge the match. She was young, and they plead the cruelty of forcing celibacy on her. She was the centre of the ill disposed and most willingly so. The stern old soldier Aoyama Hoki no Kami took the opposite ground. It was for her to cut short her hair and pray for the soul of the husband perished in the flames of O[u]saka-Jo[u]. Such was the precedent, and, he hinted with good ground, the disposition of the princess, then coquetting with Toshitsune lord of the great Maeda House of Kaga. Besides he knew that Kasuga no Tsubone, powerful influence in the private apartments of the palace, was urging on the match. The mere fact of her constant interference in the public affairs irritated Hoki no Kami beyond measure. He was acting through sentiment and conservatism. Kasuga and her allies were acting on political motives. They carried the day; to the great indignation of Hoki no Kami, and of an assistance he never dreamed of.
Among the band of ro[u]nin the matter was discussed with all the greater heat and bitterness of purpose, inasmuch as they had to do so mouth to ear. Ogita expressed their feeling when he summed up the matter as an outrageous breach of chastity on the part of a princess, who could not positively know whether the husband was yet living, or really had died at O[u]saka—"Hence she is doubly guilty, of treachery and pollution of her living lord; or of shameful lechery in this open neglect of his memory and seeking another bed. Moreover to put her to death will strike terror into the partisans of the Tokugawa, and give courage to all the adherents of the cause, of whom thousands are gathered here in Edo. A display of vigour will maintain those inclined to the new service true to the cause." All rapturously agreed. The occasion of the marriage and procession was settled upon for the attack, in which the leaders and some eighty men were engaged. The result, as told, was disastrous to them. Watanabe and Ashizuke were killed by Tajima no Kami's own hand. Kondo[u] Noborinosuke thrust his spear through the belly of Yokoyama Daizo[u]. Jinnai brought off in safety the bulk of the party. Ogita had tried to bring down the lady princess by a gun shot. In the straggle with Hiko[u]zaemon he purposely did the old man as little injury as possible. Respect for the grand old warrior, an amused interest in one whose influence lay in plain speaking, held his hand. If O[u]kubo Dono was entitled freely to express his opinion of the Sho[u]gun Ke, Kuro[u]ji took it as no insult to endure the same himself. He reached his home with a painful but not dangerous wound in the shoulder, to grunt over the infliction and this latest discomfiture.
His nurse was not at all to the taste of Kosaka Jinnai. O'Yoshi was a bare twenty-three years in age. She was a beauty and a flirt. Ogita indulged in the greatest expansion with her; as would the man of fifty years to the girl, a mistress young enough to be a daughter. The months and weeks passed following the attempt on the Senhime. The effort to hunt out the perpetrators had been given up in despair. The population of Edo as yet was too fluid and shifting to take very exact account of its movements. Doubtless they were ro[u]nin, and had promptly scattered on failure of the attack. Then the constant attempts at incendiarism, in many cases successful, began to attract attention. The two machibugyo[u], together with the particular office for detection of thieves and incendiaries, were at their wits end to trace out this gang of fire bugs. One day O'Yoshi was just leaving the bath house in Daikucho[u] called the Cho[u]senya, when she met with an adventure. A young samurai coming along the street attracted her admiring attention. He was barely twenty years of age, of good height and commanding presence. In black garb and wearing hakama, his two swords tucked in his girdle, and his cue trimmed high, attended by a do[u]shin and several yakunin, the procession greatly flattered a woman's feeling. She tripped along, towel in hand, and her eyes anywhere but on her footing. Suddenly the strap of her clog broke. She was pitched forward, just able to keep her balance. The samurai trod sharply on the discarded geta. A cry of pain followed, and O'Yoshi was all discomfiture at sight of the blood staining the white tabi of the young lord. At once she was humble apology for her awkwardness, very badly received by the do[u]shin who scolded her most severely—"Careless wench! Such rudeness is not to be pardoned." He would have laid rough hands on her, but Aoyama Shu[u]zen interfered. The woman was pretty, the injury painful, and he was young. "Don't scold her. It was by accident.... Don't be alarmed.... Ah! It hurts!..." He looked around, as seeking a place to rest.
O'Yoshi was very solicitous over the handsome young man. "Deign to pardon the careless action. Alas! The foot of the young master is sadly injured. My husband is a doctor, Gita Kyu[u]an, of wondrous skill in the Dutch practice. Condescend to enter the poor house close by here, and allow drugs to be applied to the wound." Shu[u]zen really was suffering inconvenience and pain from his wound. Besides, as attached to the office of the machibugyo[u], he sought all means of contact with the class whose offences were to be dealt with. He at once agreed. Ogita was absent when they entered. O'Yoshi tended the wound herself. The salve really had wonderful effect. Flow of blood and pain ceased. Cakes and tea, for refreshment, were placed before Shu[u]zen. O'Yoshi entertained him with amusing talk of the wardsmen of Nihonbashi, not the most stupid in Nippon. She retailed the bath house gossip, and Aoyama carefully took in costume, manners, and the conversation of the beauty, which did not at all accord with her station in life. If she was connected with a doctor now, at some time she had been intimate with men of affairs in his own caste. He thanked her graciously and would have forced lavish payment on her. O'Yoshi was all pained surprise and refusal. That her reluctance was genuine he could easily see. "I am Aoyama Shu[u]zen, and live in the yashiki at Surugadai. The kindness shown is not to be forgotten, and perhaps some day this Shu[u]zen can serve his hostess." With compliments he took his leave. O'Yoshi watched the handsome youth well out of sight. She could not hear the remark of Shu[u]zen to the do[u]shin—"A suspicious house; no frowsy doctor shows such favour to his dame. Dress, manners, language, betray contact with the samurai." The officer nodded admiring assent to his young lord's acumen.
Ogita Kuro[u]ji came limping home, to find O'Yoshi—Cho[u]senburo[u] Yoshi, as this adventure dubbed her—overflowing with her experience. At first he was rather pleased at such addition to his acquaintance. O'Yoshi was a bait to all but Jinnai, who would detach him from her. The others sought his favour to secure hers with greater ease. At mention of the do[u]shin, subordinate officials of the legal machinery, the official grade of the visitor, his brows knit. "Of official rank—that will never do! Deign Yoshi to be careful in relations with this man, if he should again appear. Engaged as is this Kuro[u]ji, the slightest hint, a suspicion, would be most disastrous."—"Then the affair of the Senhimegimi did not block matters? This Yoshi yet is to ride in palanquin, to be a daimyo[u]'s wife?" The tone was a little jeering, and the laugh as of one sceptical. With thoughts on this new love the reference to this futile scheming annoyed her. She would push this acquaintance to the full effect of her charms. Ogita took some offence. He spoke braggingly, but disastrously to the point—"Assuredly 'tis Yoshi who shall be the lady of a daimyo[u] of high place, not of a meagre fifteen or twenty thousand koku. Kaga Ke, Maeda Toshitsune, is grinding his sword. The great Houses in the west—Hosokawa, Bizen, Kato[u], Mo[u]ri, Satsuma, will follow him. Give them but the opportunity in the disorder of Edo, and the sword will be drawn. In a month, Edo, fired at a hundred points will lie in ashes. Then...." He stopped a little frightened. But she feigned the greatest indifference, teased him into opposition. Sitting down before the wine she got out of him the whole affair. Reverting to the accident—"But yourself, an accident has been deigned. Has another Yoshi encountered Kuro[u]ji Dono?" To the tender solicitude half laughing he made jesting answer. "A Yoshi with beard and wearing two swords. To-day the contract was signed by all with the blood seal. The wine feast followed. The talk was earnest, some of it rash. Interposing in the quarrel, the dagger intended for the belly of one, was sheathed in the thigh of this Kuro[u]ji. A trifling flesh wound; well in a day or two, at present rest is needed."—"A dangerous affair; if it gives rise so easily to dispute." Such her comment. "Not so," answered the infatuated veteran. "They are too far in to withdraw." Before her eyes he unrolled the scroll. Her eye quickly ran along the crowded columns of the names—by the score. Here was indeed a big affair. Out of the corner of one eye she watched him put it away.
The salve Ogita Kuro[u]ji used for his wound had no such benefit as that offered Aoyama Shu[u]zen; and perhaps O'Yoshi could have told the reason of its failure. By the next day the wound was inflamed enough to make movement difficult. Feeling the necessity of repair, Kuro[u]ji left all matters to his mistress, and sought early recuperation in complete rest. On plea of needed articles O'Yoshi was out of the house and on her hurried way to the Aoyama yashiki at Suragadai. The distance was short; yet her plan was already laid. Her dislike for the ageing Ogita was sharpened into hate by her love for the handsome young samurai. Close to the yashiki on pretext she entered the shop of a tradesman. To her delight she learned that the Waka Dono, Aoyama Shu[u]zen, as yet had no wife. She had a hundred yards to go, and her purpose and ambition had expanded widely in that short distance. Her application for an interview with his lordship was quickly granted. She had often been subject of talk and comment between Shu[u]zen and his subordinate officer. The do[u]shin happened to be present, and the attendant announced her at once. Passed to the inner apartment she found Shu[u]zen as if he had been eagerly awaiting her coming for hours. Her reception was flattering. The ordinary salutations over they passed to most familiar talk, as of oldest friends between man and woman. When Shu[u]zen would go further, and in love making press still greater intimacy, her refusal was of that kind which sought compliance. Said she with a smile—"Make Yoshi the wife of the Waka Dono and she will make the fortune even of one so highly placed as Aoyama Dono." To his incredulity and astonishment she would say no more. Shu[u]zen now was determined not to let her go. He feigned consent, agreement to everything, with much regard for her, and small regard for the promotion at which he jested. Now they were in the very heigh-day of love. She resented his scepticism, and in the heat of her passion gave him everything—including the contract. His mistress by his side, seated in the confidence of an accomplished love affair he listened to her stream of revelation. This "doctor" and "husband" was neither doctor nor husband. His name was Ogita Kuro[u]ji, an O[u]saka ro[u]nin. With Kosaka Jinnai and others of the same kidney he had been the head and front of the attempted rape of the Senhime. Shu[u]zen knew enough to discount all the talk as to Maeda Ko[u], of the Hosokawa, and other great Houses. They were beyond his sphere. But here in his hands lay the web of a most important affair; so important that it frightened him a little. As his brows knit O'Yoshi too grew a little frightened; regretted that she had told so much all at once. She had babbled beyond measure in her transport. She had misgivings. Shu[u]zen reassured her. For her to return to Daikucho[u] would never do. A breath of suspicion, and Ogita's sword would deprive him of his mistress. Safe quarters were to be found in the yashiki. He called the do[u]shin, one Makishima Gombei, and put her in his charge. The two men exchanged glances as she was led away.
The office of the south machibugyo[u] was in a ferment when Aoyama made his report. All available yakunin were at once gathered. The list was carefully gone over with the minister for the month, Hoki no Kami. Despatched on their various missions the squads departed. To Shu[u]zen was assigned the capture of Ogita Kuro[u]ji, leader of the conspiracy. This latter was chafing at the prolonged absence of O'Yoshi. Some accident must have happened to her. Then he remembered. She had gone to Hacho[u]bori. Here lived a sister, whose delivery was daily expected. Doubtless this commonplace event, yet surpassing in interest to every woman, detained her. A confusion outside attracted his attention. There was a crowd, and some disturbance. Hatsu! The people were being kept back by yakunin. "The thoughts of Kuro[u]ji were those of the wicked." At once he attributed their presence to himself. A look out at the rear and he quickly shot to the wooden bar. Between the bamboo of the fence men could be seen passing to and fro in numbers; and they were yakunin. He had been betrayed. The counsel of Jinnai came to mind, and he ground his teeth as he stood with drawn sword before the empty drawer of the cabinet. The scarlet of the obi of his false mistress flashed before his eyes. He had to die unavenged. "On his lordship's business! On his lordship's business!" The harsh voices sounded at the front. Those who would enter uninvited found themselves face to face in the narrow space with the old Kuro[u]ji, the man who had fought from Sagami to Tosa, from Cho[u]sen to Kyu[u]shu[u]. The more incautious fell severed with a cut from shoulder to pap. A second man put his hand to his side, and rolled over to breathe his last in a pool of blood. Visions of "Go-ban" Tadanobu came to mind. Kuro[u]ji would die, but he would leave his mark on the foe. Shu[u]zen's men could make no progress, except to swell the death roll or their wounds. In rage their lord sprang to the encounter. Shu[u]zen was young, but it is doubtful if the issue would have been successful with this man turned demon by the double injury and treachery. But Ogita amid this horde of assailants had suffered in his turn. In a parry his sword broke off short near the hilt. With a yell he sprang to close quarters, dealing Shu[u]zen a blow with the hilt that sent him reeling senseless to the ground. Then, unable to accomplish more, and taking advantage of the respite caused by the rescue of his foe, he sprang to the ladder leading above. Once on the roof he saw that escape was hopeless. Already they were breaking into the rear. Men were approaching over the neighbouring houses. In the old style of ages past he waved them back with drawn dagger. There was no Shu[u]zen to give command—"Take him alive!" They were only too glad to halt and let him do his will. Stripping to his girdle, before the assembled crowd he thrust his dagger into his left side and drew it across his belly. Then he made the cross cut through the navel. "Splendid fellow! A true bushi!" Admiring voices rose in the crowd. The body of Kuro[u]ji fell forward and down into the street. Thus he died.
This affair had ended in a way to redound greatly to the credit of Aoyama Shu[u]zen. Others had not been so successful. Of nearly two hundred names only eighteen prisoners were secured. Shu[u]zen stamped with impatience on learning of the escape of Kosaka Jinnai. He had learned much about him from the hate of O'Yoshi. "That man is the real leader of the band, the inspiration of Ogita Kuro[u]ji. Ah! Why could not this Shu[u]zen be in two places at once!" Older officials bowed low, and smiled to themselves and each other at youth's self confidence. O'Yoshi now found short entertainment. Shu[u]zen had no further use for the woman, for the means of his promotion. One day a chu[u]gen led her to the postern gate of the yashiki, put a paper containing a silver ryo[u] in her hand, and unceremoniously shoved her into the roadway. The gate closed behind her. At first she hardly comprehended the meaning of this treatment. Then, as it filtered into her mind, her rage passed all measure. "Ah! The beast and liar! Yoshi was not fit to be the wife; nay, not even the female companion of this arrogant lord?" She had been juggled out of the secret of such value to him, then cast forth with the wages of a prostitute summoned to the yashiki. The woman was helpless. Broken in spirit she dragged herself off, to undergo a severe illness brought on by despite. Her foul role ascertained, friends and family would have nothing to do with her. Once recovered, she found herself deprived of all means of subsistence, even that of beauty, by her disease. Never more would she deal with the noble class, to be left with such a legacy. She would pray for the salvation of the man she had betrayed. On her way to the Asakusa Kwannon she passed the jail, then near the Torigoebashi. Stumbling along just here she raised her head, to confront the long line of rotting heads there set forth. Just facing her was that of her ex-lover Ogita Kuro[u]ji. It took on life. The eyes opened and glared fierce hate. The lips moved, and the teeth ground together. Then the other heads made measured movements. "Atsu!" With the cry she fell fainting to the ground, and it was difficult to restore her to consciousness. For several years the half crazed beggar woman sought alms near the jail, to act as guide and comment on the fresh heads exposed, until as nuisance she was driven off by the guard. Then the shameful swollen corruption of the body was drawn from the canal close by; thus to end on the refuse heap the treachery of Cho[u]senburo no O'Yoshi.
THE GOD FAVOURS SHU[U]ZEN
The influence of a House close to the person of the Sho[u]gun was no drawback to the close attention Aoyama Shu[u]zen gave to official duty throughout his career. The Aoyama stood high in the council of the governing power. Even an old blunderbuss like Hoki no Kami could not shake this influence. When Yukinari tore the mirror from the hands of the young Sho[u]gun Iyemitsu Ko[u], berated him roundly for effeminacy, and dashed the offending object to pieces on the stones of the garden, this wanton treatment of the prince could not be overlooked. "Invited" to cut belly by his intimates and opponents in the council (ro[u]ju[u]) he defied them, laid hand to sword, and swore they should join him in a "dog's death." The timely entrance of O[u]kubo Hikozaemon prevented the unseemly spectacle of three old soldiers and statesmen enjoying the fierce and deadly pastime of one of the duels of Keicho[u] (1596-1614). Hoki no Kami in his own way was right—and knew it; and he had the tacit approval of Hidetada Ko[u]. The result was not harakiri, but the offending noble was consigned to the care of his brother. He and his were "extinguished"; for the time being, and to the greater glory of his other relatives near the Sho[u]gun's person. Such was the rough discipline in Hidetada's camp of Edo. The second Sho[u]gun, now retired (O[u]gosho[u]—inkyo[u]), never lost the manners or the methods of the battle field.
The career of Aoyama Shu[u]zen therefore was a steady rise in the Government service; in younger years attached to the immediate train of the prince, in greater maturity to the enforcement of the edicts through the legal machinery of the Bakufu. At this time he ruffled it bravely with the other young blades. The younger hatamoto on their part opposed to the otokodate of the townsmen the far more splendid Jingumi or divine bands. Yamanaka Gonzaemon knocked out several front teeth and inserted in their places gold ones. Hence the rise of the Kingumi or Gold Band. Aoyama Shu[u]zen did likewise with substitution of silver. Hence the Gingumi. They were all of the Mikawa bushi; that is, drawn from the native province and closely affiliated to the Tokugawa House. Hence these hatamoto carried themselves high even against the greater daimyo[u], sure of support from their over-lord the Sho[u]gun. As for the town, they did as they pleased, seeking quarrels, distributing blows, and only restrained by wholesome reprisals of ro[u]nin or the otokodate of the townsmen, who in turn relied on such daimyo[u] as Date Ko[u] and Maeda Ko[u], valued allies of the Tokugawa House, yet showing no particular liking for the encroachments of the palace clique on their own privileges.
The necessity of moving quarters was equally an embarrassment to Aoyama Shu[u]zen and to his intimate and neighbour O[u]kubo Hikoroku. O[u]kubo suggested Honjo[u]—"The water lies close by. Hence in winter the place is warm, in summer cool."—"And of mosquitoes swarms," interjected the practical Aoyama. "If the hillside be cold, it surely is no drawback to Hikoroku Uji." The one named made something of a wry face, and Aoyama smiled apart. He knew that Hikoroku was not so affectioned to the meetings of the Gaman Kwai as himself. However, smoothly—"This matter of the Yoshida Goten coming up offers fair opportunity. The failure of Endo[u] Uji need not discourage O[u]kubo Dono and this Aoyama." Both smiled a little. They could put palace influences better to work. "It is two thousand tsubo," said Shu[u]zen. "Just the thing: moreover, it is close to palace duty. On this point Honjo[u] is not in the running. Besides, the site has its own attraction. Of course Shu[u]zen takes the well, in the division." O[u]kubo interposed a lively objection, the shallowness of which Shu[u]zen could detect. He humoured his friend's obstinacy. "Leave it to the lots." In haste the slips were prepared—"Hachiman, god of the bow and feathered shaft, grant your divine aid and bestow the old well ghost haunted on this Aoyama." Okubo laughed at his earnestness. "Aoyama Uji leaves this O[u]kubo no resort but in the Buddha. Good fortune to O[u]kubo, and may the will of the Lord Buddha be done.... Naruhodo! 'Tis yours after all. The shaft of the war god is stronger than the Buddha's staff." He took his disappointment so well as to be the more urgent in securing the transfer. This was granted, with expenses of removal.
Aoyama Shu[u]zen superintended in person the preparation of his new residence. This was soon in readiness as little was to be done. O[u]kubo took cash and construction. The former villa, fallen to Shu[u]zen's part, needed mainly air and light, and repairs to its rotten woodwork. When it was time to think of the water supply Aoyama ordered the cleaning out of the old well. The workmen began to talk—"'Tis the old well of the inner garden, the Yanagi-ido of the Yoshida Goten. Danna Sama, deign to order exorcism made, and that the well be filled up and covered from men's sight." The Danna laughed at them, and was obstinate in his purpose. He took upon himself all the wrath of the disturbed and angered spirits. He hoped that they would not furnish material for more. To hearten them, he and his men descended to the level of the water. With headshakes and misgivings the chief ordered his men to the task—"Pfu! It stinks of ghosts, or something. Surely there will be dead men's bones for harvest; and perhaps those of the living. The old well has not seen its last ill deed." As for the dead men's bones, the well refuse was laid aside, and on Aoyama's order buried with no particular reverence in the bowels of the tsukiyama close by. "Let all the spirits of the place find company together," he jeered. The yashiki of Komiyasan in Honjo[u] had its processions of marvels—dead men, frogs, tanuki, and fox—to shake its amado at night and divert the monotony of those who lived therein. The portentous foot perhaps he could not match, but he would share in this contest with ghostly visions. Chance had offered him the opportunity. All was prepared. Shu[u]zen had established himself. Nightly with his camp stool he took his seat by the old well, to smoke his pipe and drink his wine—"Now! Out with you, ghosts! Here present is Aoyama Shu[u]zen, hatamoto of the land. He would join in your revels. Deign to hasten.... What! The ghosts would rest this night?" Thus night after night passed with his jeering and no sign of the supernatural objects, not thus to be conjured. Time made the pastime stale—as stale as the waters of the Yanagi-ido which never furnished supply for the house or its tasks. Aoyama had the excuse of drinking wine. As for the household, the women would not even use the water for washing. They said it stunk too badly. In so far Shu[u]zen failed.
It was about the time of his entrance on this new possession that more good fortune came to Shu[u]zen. He was made the magistrate whose office covered the detection and punishment of thieves and incendiaries. It showed the estimation in which he was held, and satisfied both the vanity and the hard cold temper of Aoyama Shu[u]zen. Looking to results, more than method, the selection was most satisfactory; if return of the number of criminals was the index assumed. Until a method attracted unfavourable attention by some scandal, only results were regarded by the Bakufu. But his household could not regard with any easiness a devotion of his lordship to the wine cup, which turned his court into a wine feast. Up to this time Aoyama Shu[u]zen in all official duty had shown himself hard, unbending, callous, conscientious. Now the element of cruelty appeared, to develop rapidly with exercise until it was the predominant tone. Some illustrations are to be given from events occurring in these first three years of Sho[u]ho[u] (1644-6).
Aoyama would show himself the strict disciplinarian. His chamberlain (yo[u]nin) Aikawa Chu[u]dayu close beside him, his do[u]shin seated at either hand, he gave his orders and rebuke to the assembled constables. He scowled at them. Then with voice harsh from the contents of the big wine cup beside him he commanded—"Diligence is to be expected of all. He who fails to make many arrests shows sloth or ill will to his lord. Anyone against whom there is the slightest suspicion, even if he or she be abroad late at night, is to be brought to the jail. No explanation is to be allowed. There must be many arrests. Examination in the court is to follow; and many crimes, discovered under the torture, will be brought to punishment.... Heigh! Call up that old fellow there.... Who? That Ryu[u]suke." At Shu[u]zen's order Ryu[u]suke forthwith came close to the ro[u]ka. "You, fellow ... what manner of man to act as constable are you? Days pass without a single prisoner being brought in. This jade, found in the street at the hour of the rat (11 P.M.) pleads excuse of illness and the doctor. This lurking scoundrel, seeking to set half the town on fire, pleads drunkenness as keeping him abroad. Thus many of these villainous characters, whores and fire bugs, find field for their offenses. No more of such leniency. Failure to arrest means dismissal from the service and punishment as an ill-wisher. Oldest and most experienced, the greatest number of prisoners is to be expected at your hands. Shu[u]zen shows mercy. Your age remits the punishment, but dismissal shall afford example to the rest as to the wisdom of showing energy." Thus he cast forth without pity an ageing officer whose only offense was an experience which sought the mission of the night straggler, and allowed the harmless to go free. Ryu[u]suke went forth from the office of the bugyo[u] stripped of the means of living and of reputation, and assured of the unforgiving character of his lord. That night he cut belly, recommending his family to mercy. This was soon found—in debt and the debtor's slavery allowed by the harsh code. Thus was the jail kept full, with the innocent and a sprinkling of the guilty. No one dared to be lax; for life hung on salary, and on zeal the continuance of the salary. Moreover all revelled in the reward of the wine cup liberally bestowed for zealous service—and the more liberally as Shu[u]zen took his turn with his big cup, every time he sent down the sake to his underling.
In Bakuracho[u] lived one Zeisuke, a poor but honest fellow who made his living by peddling the smaller kinds of fish and the salted varieties, for his trifling resources allowed no larger outlay for his trays. In this way with greatest difficulty he managed to support an old mother, a wife, a young child. Locally he was known as "Honest Zeisuke" for the not often found quality of representing the antiquity and character of his wares much as they were. When bad weather forbade the opening of the fish market, Zeisuke readily found some task at day labour by which a few mon could be secured, and for which his character for honest service recommended him. One night, when on his way homeward, he was passing the Asakusa Gomon just as the cry of fire was raised. Knowing the alarm of his aged mother Zeisuke at once bolted towards home. When all were running toward the fire this at once attracted attention. By the law it was the strict duty of the citizen to betake himself to his ward, and to be ready for service in preventing spread of the often disastrous conflagration. His action was noted by the ever present myrmidons of Shu[u]zen. In a moment they were after him. Surrounded he was quickly caught. His explanation was not heard. "Say your say at the white sand, under the strokes of the madake," was the rough answer. Thus he was dragged off to the jail.
The next day Aoyama's first motion was to reward the captors with the wine cup. Harsh was the vinous scowl he cast on Zeisuke now cringing at the white sand. "Ha! Ah! A notable criminal; a firebug caught in the act, and attempting to escape. Make full confession. Thus much suffering is escaped, and the execution ground soon reached." Zeisuke had no confession to make, and to his explanation Aoyama turned a deaf ear. "Obstinacy is to be over-ruled." He made a sign. At once Zeisuke was seized. His head drawn downward two stout fellows now began to apply in rhythm the madake—strips of bamboo to the thickness of an inch tightly wound together with hempen cord, and making an exceedingly flexible and painful scourge. The blood quickly was spurting from his shoulders. Aoyama and his chamberlain sat enjoying the scene immensely. At the seventieth blow the peddler fainted. "A wicked knave! Off with him until restored." Then he settled himself for the day's pastime; for the torture had come to have the zest of an exhilarating sport. The cries of pain, the distortions of agony under the stones, or the lobster, or suspension, the noting of the curious changes of flesh colour and expression under these punishments, the ready assent to absurdly illogical questions, all this not only amused, but interested Shu[u]zen. The naivete and obstinacy of the fisherman was just of the kind to furnish the best material. The fellow was sturdy of frame, and under skilled hands readily submitted to this dalliance for days without bending from his truth.
Meanwhile things went on very badly at the house in Bakuracho[u]. The disaster of the arrest fell like a thunderbolt on the wretched little household. Day after day, hoping for the acquittal and release, one article after another went to the pawn shop. Reduced to absolute misery the house owner and the neighbours came to the rescue with a small sum raised among them. The long continued official suspicion affected even these toward the "Honest Zeisuke," and their support grew cold. Then came the news that Zeisuke had died in the jail under the torture. Tearless, aghast, deprived of all support, the wife and mother long looked in each other's faces. Said the old woman—"Alas! Alas! Neither gods nor the Buddha exist. Faithful and devoted was Zeisuke to this old mother. Unfortunate in his life, he has been equally unlucky in death. What now is to be done!" She put her sleeves over the old and wrinkled face, and bending low concealed tears and a long farewell to the beloved in the person of her grandchild.
The wife was in little better case, but had to soothe this grief. A few coins remained. She would buy the necessaries for the evening meal. "But a moment, honoured mother. The return is quick. 'Tis but for the needed meal." Taking the child on her back she started off into the darkness. For a moment she turned to look at the mother. The old woman was following her with eyes tear dimmed in the sunken hollows. Thus they parted. For a moment the wife halted on the bridge over the Edogawa. The dark slimy waters were a solution, but she put it aside in the face of a higher duty. Soon she was on her way back. To her surprise the house was in darkness. Surely a little oil was left in the bottom of the jar. She called, without getting an answer. In alarm she groped her way in the darkness, to stumble over the body of the old woman, lying limp and helpless. Something wet her hand. Now she was in all haste for a light. "Ah! Ah! The honoured mother! What has occurred? Has not ill fortune enough fallen upon the home of Zeisuke?" Alas! the hand was stained with blood. The old woman had intended the parting salute to be the last. Left alone she had bit off her tongue, and thus had died. Rigid, as one stupified, the wife sat; without tears, but thinking. Now she was left alone. But what as to the child? A girl too? Ah! There were enough of her sex in this hard world. She reached out a hand to the long triangular sharp blade close by. She touched edge and point of the debabo[u]cho[u] (kitchen knife) with the finger.
Here was the solution. Rapidly she loosed the child and lowered it to the ground. It took but a moment to open the little dress and expose the breast. Then knife in hand she leaned over it. As she did so the child opened its eyes, smiled, then laughing began to finger her bosom seeking sustenance. The feelings of the mother came over the woman. She put aside the knife to give the babe the breast. Alas! Starvation afforded but scant milk. Failing its supply the child cried peevishly. This last stroke of poverty was too much. The original purpose came back in full sway. With quick motion she put the child beside her and held it firmly down. The sharp pointed knife was thrust clean through the little body. A whimpering cry, the spurting of the blood, and the face began to take on the waxen tint. With the same short energetic movements the mother now sought her own end. Guiding its course with the fingers the knife was now thrust deep into her own throat. Both hands on the heavy handle she tore it downward; then fell forward on the mats. The wardsmen made report.
THE AFFAIR OF THE ASAKUSA KWANNON
Aoyama Shu[u]zen stalked forward to his cushion near the ro[u]ka. Carefully adjusting his robes he scowled—most heavily; mainly at the almost boy crouched before him at the white sand. Expectant the yakunin stood by. Their leader stated the case against this outrageous criminal captured in the dead of night on the very steps of the Jizo[u]do[u], in the very shadow of the great temple of the Asakusa Kwannon. The sacred structure, object of his nefarious design guarded his slumbers; the healing Yakushi Nyo[u]rai, Jizo[u] the god of youth and childhood, casting stony glances of benevolence through the closed lattices. "A most hardened wretch, an evident firebug, and probable thief; at once make full confession of the offence. Thus the torture is to be avoided, the punishment in so far mitigated." The voice was harsh and unrelenting, admitting of no explanation. The look accompanying it was without trace of pity, but full of the official scorn and dislike which would anticipate the turns and doubles of its quarry. The hare in this case but thought how best to meet this unforeseen and disastrous turn to events. He had heard much of the Yakujin—the god of disease and pestilence—under which pet name Aoyama Shu[u]zen was known by a certain element of Edo town. He would tell the truth, with the certainty that in the effort enough lie would slip in to make out a good case.
The story at root was a simple one. Great of reputation for beauty and attraction in the Yoshiwara was "Little Chrysanthemum"—Kogiku. In company with friends this Masajiro[u], second son of the wealthy Iwakuniya of Kanda Konyacho[u], (dyers street), had met and loved the oiran. He had been favoured in turn by the great lady of the pleasure quarter. Hence the displeasure of his father, who learned the fact by the unanticipated and unpleasant presentation of bills he thought had been settled long before by the diligence of Masajiro[u]. Hence the preceding night, on the boy's return from dalliance with his mistress, he had been summarily turned out.... "Ha! Ah!" roared Shu[u]zen. "A self confessed vagrant; a thief! Gentle the face and wicked the heart it conceals. Plainly a case for the jail and torture. The truth is to be learned. The scourges will bring it out. Make full confession...." A sign, and the attendants with their madake stood forward. In his terror Masajiro[u] crawled toward the ro[u]ka. "Confession! Confession!" he bawled out. With grim smile Shu[u]zen signed a halt. The do[u]shin prepared the scroll.
Yes: he had been turned out, but not as vagrant. The mother, so severe in the presence of the father, had fondled and wept over him. The Banto[u] Sho[u]bei had grave and kindly words of admonition. All would be well, and forgiveness follow in time. He was to go at once to his nurse at Koshigeyatsu. Such effects as were needed would follow him. Money he was better without; beyond the little needed for the short journey. The father's anger was not to be aggravated. Soon he would enter for his night's draught, so haste was to be made. Thus he was bundled forth, to make his way in the darkness to the distant country village. The Baya's kind aid in the little conspiracy was assured at sight of her once ward. Overwhelmed with advice and woe he departed into the night, his step growing slower and slower with separation from his home. No money! That meant no Kogiku. The idea of never again seeing her face made his stomach turn. It did turn the direction of his footsteps, which now was toward the Yoshiwara.
Kogiku was overjoyed at sight of him. He had but just left her, and now returned to her side. What greater proof of love could she have? The favouritism of the Go-Tayu found favour for her lover's presence. Seated together she soon noticed his gloom, which all her efforts failed to lighten. Somewhat nettled she showed displeasure, charged him with the fickleness of satiation. Then he took her hands, and told her that this was the final interview. His dissipated life, the discovery of their relations, had so angered his father that under sentence of banishment from Edo he had come for a last look at her face. "What's to be done! What's to be done!" The lady wrung her hands in genuine grief over the handsome youth thus torn away. She had welcomed his presence as means of escape from her own difficulties. But a few hours before the master of the Uedaya had announced her sale and transfer to a wealthy farmer of Chiba. Ransomed by this country magnate she was to leave the gay life and glitter of the Yoshiwara, for a country life and the veiled hardships of a farm. In exchange for the twenty years of Masajiro[u]—she obtained this settlement and a master passing fifty odd. She was in despair. The brilliant beauty, thus to sink in a few year's course into a farm wench, felt the sacrifice too great. Finding no aid in the boy lover, long she lay weeping, her head on his knees, hands pressed against her temples.
Masajiro[u] was at no happier pass. "Up to the arrow point in love" his idea at bottom had been of a temporary separation. To find another Kogiku, a petted oiran, whose fame and beauty flattered any lover, was a stroke of good fortune not likely to occur. His own expression showed how little real idea of separation was in his mind. She noted it. Looking steadily in his face—"Constant the vows of this Kogiku, met by the love of Masa San. No matter how remote the prospect, the bond is that of husband and wife. With this old suburban drake Kogiku pollutes not her charms. Condescend to agree to a mutual suicide. Thus the obligation is avoided. Together the lovers pass to Meido (Hades) to wander its shades until the next and happier existence unites them in the flesh." In amazement and discomfiture Masajiro[u] hung down his head. He would conceal the shock to his boyish timidity this proposal gave. His mind was full of such stories. He knew the earnestness of Kogiku. Then and there would she not draw her dagger to accomplish the deed? He was dreadfully frightened. Never would he have sought her presence, if such result had been anticipated. Now he must accompany her in death, or endure her grudge if successful in escaping her insistence. He temporized. Pointing to his plain disordered garb—"As to that—heartily agreed. But there is a seemliness about such procedure. A more befitting, a holiday costume, is to be sought. Then together, as on a joyful occasion, Masajiro[u] and the Oiran will consummate the vows of husband and wife in a joint death." She looked him over, and was easily pacified by the evident truth and good sense. Again herself, in prospect of this avoidance of the unpleasant future she sought to entertain her lover with all the skill and charm she was so noted for. At midnight he left her, to secure an interview with Sho[u]bei on plea of forgotten needs; then he would return in more fitting garb.
His course lay through the now silent precincts of the great temple. More than the sun's circuit passed in these excesses, physical and mental, weighed upon him. He would rest a moment and consider his course amid the holy surroundings. Yakushi? The god was the physical healer in his theology and his services the strong and healthy youth did not need. Jizo[u] Sama, or the six Jizo[u] Sama, but a little way off? Probably the gentle divinity no longer regarded him as under tutelage. But the Lady Merciful—Kwannon Sama—why not make his petition to her? It was an inspiration, and earnest was the prayer which followed it—"Lady of Mercy, deign to regard with pity the unfortunate lovers. Grant that some exit be found for their woes, less harsh than the severance of the vital knot, offence to the Lord Buddha. Kwannon Sama! Kwannon Sama!... may the Buddha's will be done!" As he spoke a heavy object fell from above, to graze his shoulder and land at his feet. He stooped and picked it up. With astonished delight he noted the glittering coin within the bag. Ah! Ah! Away with all ideas of self destruction. Here was the means to escape the guilty consequence. Here was the ransom of Kogiku. He had shuddered at thought of return to the side of that woman, in death to wander the paths of Shideyama (in Hell) with the unhappy ghost—bald headed! Here now was the solution, in wine and the flesh and blood of the living long-tressed Kogiku, a very different person. His thought now turned to Yoshiwara. But—Naruhodo! Here was a second petitioner at this extraordinary hour. With amazement he saw a girl come flying across the tree and lantern dotted space before the great temple. There was something in gait and manner that he recognized, despite the deep ko[u]so[u]-zukin concealing her features. From the shadow of the steps he sprang forward to confront her. It was so! The face beneath the zukin was that of O'Some the beloved of his brother Minosuke. The great dye house of the Iwakuniya sent much work to the minor establishment of Aizawaya in Honjo[u]. His brother had such matters in his charge. At sight of Masajiro[u] the face of the sixteen year old O'Some was dyed like unto the maple. "O'Some San! Here; and at this hour! Is it some visit to the shrine that in such haste...." In place of answer she wrung her hands and plead to be released. She must die. The river was not far off; there to end her woes. The scandal caused in the affair between herself and Minosuke had brought her to shame. Solemn had been the vows passed between them, tender the acknowledgments. By some retribution from a past existence thus she had found pollution with a beast. The heart yet was pure, and there was nothing to do but die. Deign forthwith to release her.
In his amazement he nearly did so. Alas! All these young girls, at least the desirable ones, wanted only to die. To become a divinity by death—Shingami—seemed to the feminine brain in youth the height of fashion. Very well: but he would seek to dissuade her. His pockets full of gold the present beauty of O'Some dimmed the past charms of Kogiku. She yielded to force and his urgency in so far as to accompany him to a refreshment stand just opening with the dawn. The mistress greeted them with kindness and affection. She showed them to an inner room. Here he urged his suit; flight and a home with the devoted nurse at Koshigayatsu. But O'Some was unwilling. She had been "foxed"—herself was but a mere moor-fox. Deign to leave her to her own sad fate. It was the brother that she loved. Since she was deprived of him, she would seek the embraces only of the waters of the river. She urged and plead so prettily that her sadness and gloom entered into his own heart. She should be his companion. Kogiku in despite would join them. Thus the three together would find comfort in the shadow land of Meido. He gave up all attempt to persuade the girl. Briefly and almost harshly—"Be it so. Then we will die together. This Masajiro[u] is under contract to die; and too tired to walk so far to find a partner. Condescend to await the night. Then we will take the shortest course to the river."
To this O'Some joyfully agreed. The day was passed in such harmless dalliance and favour as a young girl can show, who has had her own way; with a young man willing to dispense with thought during the intervening space of time before a not overly agreeable ending; and under the auspices of an honoured hostess fee'd by the glitter of coin into a consenting obtuseness. With the night they set forth in the rain. The river bank was not far off, but such vulgar plunge from the edge of the coarse promiscuity of Hanagawado[u] was not to the taste of either. Then, as now, a ferry not far from the Adzuma bridge crossed to the pretty sounding "Eight hundred Pines." Yashiki then surrounded, a palace to-day covers the site. They watched the ferryman pushing off into the river's darkness. Then hand in hand they strolled up the bank of the stream, under the gloomy trees, seeking the favoured spot of their undoing. Suddenly O'Some stopped; sank at the feet of Masajiro[u]. His hand sought the handle of the dagger. The weapon raised he was about to plunge it into the tender neck. Then a shout startled his ear. "Rash youths—Wait! Wait!" A powerful grasp was on his arm. With a shiver he came to consciousness. O'Some, the river, the bag of gold in his bosom, all had disappeared. He was lying on the steps of the Jizo[u]do[u], surrounded by the yakunin. All had been a dream!
With open mouths the yakunin in the court looked at each other. Lo! They had nabbed a mere dreamer. How would his lordship take it? One more quick witted and thirstier than the rest answered for all—"Ha! Ah! A wretched fellow! Not only thief and firebug, but murderer also!" To the astonished and stammering protest of Masajiro[u] there was the answering scowl of a very Emma Dai-O[u] on the bench. "Miserable wretch! What is in the heart at best comes to the lips. This matter is to be sifted to the dregs, the witnesses examined. For offence so far disclosed he can take the lash. Then off with him to the jail." Masajiro[u], his back torn to ribbons and bloody with the fifty blows, was supported out of the court. Then the wine cup was condescended to the energy and acuteness of his captors. Enlivened by the morning's entertainment and his own big cup Aoyama Shu[u]zen rose and departed.
EMMA DAI-O[U] GIVES JUDGMENT
Great was the excitement and lamentable the experience of the Aizawaya. The matter of O'Some had been under discussion with the Iwakuniya. Beyond good words and cold courtesy little satisfaction could be obtained; nor could it be expected. The offence had been the work of a fox, and the jewel of a girl's reputation had been trodden in the mire. Returned to the saddened home, the nurse of O'Some was found awaiting them. At the news she had hastened from the country to console her old mistress and to take her one time charge in her arms. "Alas! Alas! Is the matter so beyond remedy? Surely with a good dower the Iwakuniya...."—"'Tis no such affair," answered the mistress, wiping away her tears. "As fact the girl is a wretched wench, disregardless of the parents. The little fool fell madly in love with the figure of the eldest son of the dye-shop. It seems that daily she made pilgrimage and prayer to the Ushi no Gozen, to the Gentoku Inari. What more malign influence could be invoked! One day Minosuke came on a mission to the shop. She followed him to the street, and for hours her whereabouts was unknown, until this return in disgrace. Accompanying him to Asakusa, there she exchanged vows and pillows with him at a convenient assignation house. Alas! On the return he was taken with a fit in the street. The prior of the Kido-ku-In, the great priest of the Shu[u]genja (Yamabushi), was passing. His aid invoked, at once he recognized the rascal's disguise. Under the charms recited by the priest the true appearance was assumed, and a huge fox with a long tail darted away from the gathered crowd. No reputation has the girl gained by consorting with such a mate."
The nurse listened with amazed horror, turning first to the mother, then intently regarding the damasked face of O'Some, dyed red at the story of her shame. "Oya! Oya! Possessed by a fox! Alas! Truly it is almost irreparable. If it were mere defloration by the young master of Iwakuniya, that could be endured. But a fox mixed up in the matter.... Truly it would be well to take her off somewhere, to some hot spring in Idzu. There the influence can be removed, and O'Some San at least restored in mind." With this advice and gossip, with whispered consolation and laughing cheer—"'Tis no great matter after all; in the country—will be found girls a'plenty, quite as lucky or otherwise"—the kind and jovial dame took her leave.
The advice as to the hot spring seemed so good that preparations were under way in all haste. The straw baskets with their convenient deep covers to fit the larger or smaller needs of travel (ko[u]ri), the furoshiki or large square wrapping cloths, lay in the middle of the room, amid the pile of wraps and clothing for daily and more formal use. Skilled hands of maids and youths (wakashu[u]-kozo[u]) employed in the house were fast packing these latter into convenient parcels. Then to the hustle and bustle within the house was added the more unusual murmur of voices and tread of many feet without. The house owner (ienushi), accompanied by the head of the house block (gumigashira), entered in haste. Close at their heels followed the land owner (jinushi), the two bails (jiuki and tanauki). All looked with surprise and suspicion at these hurried preparations for departure. "Oya! Oya! This will never do. Honoured Sir of Aizawaya, the yakunin are now at hand from the office of Aoyama Sama. Your daughter in summoned to the white sand. Remove at once these signs of what looks like a flight." Eyes agog the frightened parents watched their neighbours and the servants hustle goods and parcels into the closets. They had hardly done so when the do[u]shin, followed by several constables, burst into the room. "The girl Some, where is she? Don't attempt to lie, or conceal her whereabouts." Eyes ferreting everywhere, the parents too frightened to move, the yakunin soon entered, dragging along the weeping O'Some. "Heigh! Heigh! The rope! At once she is to be bound and dragged before the honoured presence." Amid the bawling and the tumult at last the father found opportunity to make himself heard. He prostrated himself at the feet of the do[u]shin, so close to O'Some that the process of binding and roping necessarily included his own ample person. "Deign, honoured official, to forbear the rope. There is no resistance. The girl is very young, and ill. We accompany her to the presence of his lordship." Weeping he preferred the request. Iyenushi, Jinushi, Gumi-gashira, in pity added their own petition to the officer. This latter surveyed the slight figure of this fearful criminal. Besides, notoriously she had been foxed. He grumbled and conceded. "The rope can be forborne; not so as to the hands, which must be securely tied to prevent escape. The affair is most important. Delay there cannot be. His lordship is not to be kept waiting." Then he swept them all into his net. Do[u]shin, Yakunin, Jinushi, Iyenushi, Gumi-gashira, Ban-gashira, Jiuki, Tanauki, debtors, creditors, all and every in the slightest degree connected with the Aizawaya fell into the procession. But Edo town was growing used to these. 'Twas merely another haul of the active officers of the honoured Yakujin. "Kimyo[u] Cho[u]rai"—may the Buddha's will be done, but spare this Taro[u]bei, Jizaemon, Tasuke, or whoever the petitioner chanced to be.
Aoyama Shu[u]zen stalked slowly forward to the ro[u]ka. Scowling he ran his eye over the crowd, taking in each and every. Then his eyes fell—first on Kogiku, the harlot of the Uedaya; then on the shrinking beauty of O'Some of the Aizawaya. Shu[u]zen was improving in these days. The Ue-Sama (Sho[u]gun) spoke harshly of those retainers who made no provision for issue to support loyally the fortune of his House. Let him who would seek his lord's favour furnish forth such noble and lusty issue as in the Kamakura days, when Ho[u]jo[u] Tokimasa, Wada Yoshimori Hatakeyama Shigetada, the Kajiwara, Miura, Doi, attended the hunting field of their suzerain followed by a dozen lusty heirs of the line—direct and indirect. Hence of late Shu[u]zen had renewed his matrimonial venture, and taken to his bed a second partner. For side issue and attendance on his household affairs, his office was a fruitful field. The families of those condemned suffered with them, and the more favoured served in Aoyama's household, in all offices, from that of ladies in waiting to menial service—down to the yatsuho[u]ko[u]nin. These latter, slaves for life, were more fortunate than their sisters yatsu yu[u]jo[u], who were condemned to be sold for life service as harlots in the Yoshiwara. It was a hard law; but it was the law of the Tokugawa, of before the days of the ruling House. Shu[u]zen profited greatly by it in the domestic sense. The harlot and the girl budding into womanhood would be acceptable addition to the companionship of his then bachelor existence.
His manner softened as he took his seat. His robes were more carefully adjusted. His cue bristled more erect. He was strikingly good looking. Dismissing all minor offenders he took up at once the great case of the day. The wretched Masajiro[u], his back bloodily marked by the scourge, was crouching in shame at the white sand before him. Shu[u]zen gave him one savage glare, which added terror to his confusion before those once friends and relations. Then Shu[u]zen began carefully and insistently to scan the faces of the girls. They were well worth attention. O'Some, sixteen and a beauty, had these aids to her other charms—a kimono of the fine striped silk of Izu, made in the neighbouring island of Hachijo[u] by girls well fitted themselves to give grace to the beautiful tissue, an obi (sash) of fawn and scarlet into which was woven the shadowy figure, here and there, of a landscape—sketchy but suggestive. The belt which girded it within was of egg coloured crape, and the orange tissue broadened and hung down to add its touch of carefully contrasted colour. The hair was built high in the taka-shimada style, tied on top with a five coloured knot of thick crape. The combs and other hair ornaments were beautiful, and befitting the cherished daughter of the well-to-do townsman. Then Shu[u]zen's look wandered to the harlot. Kogiku, Little Chrysanthemum, was noted in Edo town. Her beauty was more experienced, but hardly more mature than that of the town girl. Sedately she met the look, and without movement eyes plead smilingly for gentle treatment. She was dressed in a robe of gauzy water coloured silk. The sleeves were widely patterned—as with her class—but worked with rare harmony into the light grey colour of the robe. The long outer robe thrown over the inner garment (uchikaku) in these brilliant colours, in its tamer shades yet harmonized. Taken with the broad sash of the obi it made her rival the peacock in his grandest display. Her hair dressed high, was a bewildering harmony of the costly tortoise shell combs and pins (kanzashi) arrayed in crab-like eccentricity. The gold ornamentation glistened and sparkled amid the dark tresses. Truly Shu[u]zen was puzzled in this claim for priority between the unrivalled beauty and the fresher and naiver charms of inexperience. Ah! Both should be the cup-bearers. But the sequel! Benten Sama alone could guide the lot.
It was ordered that the confession be read. Once more the judge, Shu[u]zen carefully watched the faces before him of those most concerned. It was not difficult to detect amid the confusion of O'Some, the growing wrath of Kogiku, an unfeigned astonishment. With some satisfaction he noted this evident discrepancy in the plea. Suave, yet still somewhat harsh, he addressed O'Some. "The confession of this wicked fellow has been heard. What has Some to say in answer thereto." For a moment the girl raised her head to that of this Emma Dai-O[u]. Then in confusion she half turned as seeking support—"Mother! Mother!" It was all she could say in her fright, and more than the mother could stand. She was the townswoman; self-assured in her way. She boldly advanced a knee. "With fear and respect: the girl is but of sixteen years, and the white sand has paralysed her thought and utterance. Deign, honoured lord, to pardon the mother's speech." Then she went into details as to the late unfortunate occurrence. With indignant looks at the crushed and unfortunate Masajiro[u], she gave her own testimony which rang with truth. "Well he knows all this matter. For the past six days the girl has not left home or parents caring for her afflicted body. 'Tis only this fellow Masajiro[u] who claims to be the lover, to take the place of his brother Minosuke; a poor exchange in either case, with fellows who do but run after the harlots of Yoshiwara, to the bewitching of innocent girls." Tenderly she took the now weeping O'Some in her mother arms, and added her own tears to the soothing.
Shu[u]zen slowly leaked a smile. He left the pair to themselves and turned to Kogiku. "And you?" Kogiku was not so easily confused. Readily she confessed to the contract between herself and Masajiro[u]. "This affair of the rich purchaser from Kazusa came up suddenly. There seemed no outlet but suicide—if the dreary life away from Edo was to be avoided." Shu[u]zen took her up harshly—"Bound to the Uedaya for a term of years then you would cheat your master out of the money he expended on you. This is theft, and most reprehensible. For such it is hard to find excuse." His roughness puzzled and frightened even the experience of Kogiku. She became confused. Shu[u]zen was satisfied with the impression. He was unwilling further to delay his own prospects. Sending the matter over to the next sitting for final settlement he remanded all the accused—Masajiro[u] to the jail and repeated scourgings for the lies contained in his confession; the girls to his own care. His experiences for the time being would largely condition the final judgment.
Shu[u]zen was regular in his irregularities. Promptly, the case again convened, he gave judgment. There was none of the customary roughness in his manner. Even the official harshness was smoothed down. He dilated on the importance of the case, the necessity of making an example of this evident depravity of manners and morals affecting Edo town—"As for the girl Some, it is matter of question with whom she is involved, Masajiro[u] or Minosuke; both well could be her lovers. Thus she has fallen under strange influences and been foxed. Such a girl is not to be allowed to wander at random. As act of benevolence henceforth charge is continued as in the present conditions. Kogiku is still more reprehensible. The attempt to cheat her master being so brazenly confessed is hard to overlook. Owing to her previous life perhaps the feelings have become blunted. The same benevolence and punishment is awarded to her—with hope of future amendment." The master of the Uedaya, crouching close to his head clerk made a wry face. The two men exchanged glances, and the clerk opened a very big round eye for his master to observe. The latter sighed. Continued Shu[u]zen severely—"As for this Masajiro[u], he is not only liar, but would-be firebug and thief. What is harboured in the mind he would put into deed. It is but chance which has saved the life and purse of the passing citizen, and the sacred structures from the flames. To him the severest punishment is meet. However benevolence shall still hold its sway. Instead of the sword, banishment to the islands for the term of life, to serve as slave therein to the Eta—such his sentence. To this judgment there is no appeal." Abruptly he rose. The weeping father and mother were baffled by the nonchalance of the daughter, who had no chance to give them comfort, but was at once removed in company with the willing lady of pleasure and experience. The huddled form of Masajiro[u] was hustled roughly out with the kicks and blows to which he was becoming accustomed. Two or three years, under the rough charge of his new masters, were pretty sure to witness his body cast out on the moorland to the kites—or into the sea for fishes to knaw.
It was the banto[u] (clerk), faint with the hunger of long waiting, who led the parents into the first cook shop encountered on the way. Here over greens and cold water the father sighed, the mother wept apart, the clerk eyed biliously the meagre fare. Then in poured the company of Kogiku—a noisy, merry crowd. There were expressions of amused discomfiture, caught by the sharp ears of the clerk; suggestive references. He watched them; heard the lavish orders for food and wine—"Plenty of wine, and piping hot"—"Respectfully heard and understood." The waiting girls were at their wit's end. The feast in progress the banto[u] came boldly forward. "Honoured sirs, deign to note these parents here, deprived of their daughter. Your honoured selves have lost a girl of much value to your master. How is it then that you thus deign to rejoice? Plainly the grief of these must be out of place." The man addressed more directly looked him over coldly; then cast an eye on the distressed father and mother, at their meagre fare. His manner changed. He became more cordial. "Good sir, the affair is not to be taken thus! Sentence has been given, but...." He laughed—"it can be revoked. Already in the inner room the master is in consultation with the agent of Takai Yokubei San (Mr. Highly Covetous), Aikawa Dono,—the honoured yo[u]nin of Aoyama Sama. A round bribe, and the girl will be released...." The words were not out of his mouth when the father was on his feet. Led by the banto[u] he made the rounds of all—pimps, bawds, and bouncers—soliciting their influence—"Honoured gentlemen of the Yoshiwara, deign to interfere in the matter, to plead with the master of the Uedaya. House, lands, goods, all these are nothing if the cherished daughter be restored." He wept; and they took pity on his inexperience. The first speaker at once sprang up and went to the inner room. The master of the Uedaya cordially desired their presence. Added funds were no drawback to his own petition in the dealings with Yokubei San. The parents introduced he told them—"It is but a matter of cash. Kogiku, within the next three days, must be delivered to the go[u]shi of Kazusa, or else a large forfeit paid. She can kill herself on the day following. 'Tis no affair of the Uedaya. Add your gift of a hundred ryo[u] to the bribe of the Uedaya, and Saisuke San, here present, can assure success. Aikawa Dono surely has not left the court. He awaits report, with as great anxiety as your honoured selves. As for the Tono Sama, he has had the presence of the girls for the six days, and will be all the more easily worked on. But from all accounts the honoured daughter had little to lose in the experience. She would make a splendid Go-Tayu." Seeing no sign of acquiescence he shrugged his shoulders, and continued to the honoured Saisuke San—"A most annoying affair: a hundred ryo[u] to this shark, and only the premium and the debts of the oiran will be paid. But he will take no less?... Be sure she shall learn the use of the semeba (punishment cell) before she finds her new master." Saisuke San with slow smile made answer—"Be sure that by night she will be in your hands, ready for the experience."
Rejoicing the parents gave thanks, and betook themselves to their home. Half ruined, again O'Some would gladden their hearts. But the mother had an eye to the expense, and promised a reception hardly better than that awaiting Little Chrysanthemum. Why show favouritism? There was small difference between the two. But this the father energetically denied. Meanwhile Aoyama Shu[u]zen was preparing for his wine feast, one of a pleasant succession extended over this interval. With misgiving and no pleasure he saw the entrance of Aikawa Chu[u]dayu. The chamberlain brought with him the account books. Shu[u]zen's experience, however, noted past profit as salve to annoyance. He was a bitter hard man in domestic administration; cutting down food, and by fines the wages, of those more regularly employed in the household. This made the threatened loss of women serving by compulsion the more severe. Chu[u]dayu knew how to deal with his master. Affairs in the household were not going well, under the free indulgence of Shu[u]zen toward himself and his pleasures. Besides he was about to deprive him of his new favourites. At a sign Kogiku and O'Some, already present by the lord's favour, withdrew. The younger girl had aged ten years in experience with this companionship of the week. Chu[u]dayu watched them depart. Then sighed heavily. "Ah! Ha! So it's that." Shu[u]zen moved testily, as sharply he regarded his satellite. "Acting under the instructions of your lordship, the box of cakes has duly been received from Saisuke. The affairs of the household require a large sum. Her ladyship's confinement is to be considered, the entertainments required by custom for the expected heir. To return the gift means to your lordship—the sacrifice of two hundred ryo[u]. May the Tono Sama deign to consider a moment. Such double good fortune is rare—and the messenger waits upon this trifling sacrifice of a pleasure for which substitutes easily can be found." He drew the furoshiki from the box. Shu[u]zen sighed; but did not hesitate. "Hasten Saisuke off at once; with the exchange." He placed the box in a closet close by. "As for the wine feast, Chu[u]dayu shall be the cup-bearer. Shu[u]zen is in an ill humour." He had an ugly look. Chu[u]dayu, however, did not draw back. Leaning forward with a smile—"This Chu[u]dayu would make report, to the pleasure of the Tono Sama."—"Of what?" asked Aoyama, in some surprise at his chamberlain's earnest manner. "Of the whereabouts and close proximity of Kosaka Jinnai."—"Ah!" The tone of voice had the depth of years of expectant hate.