In the period of the tenth moon, and without any reason imaginable, Kimiko disappeared,—vanished,—utterly ceased to exist.
Nobody knew when or how or whither she had gone. Even in the neighborhood of the home she had left, none had seen her pass. At first it seemed that she must soon return. Of all her beautiful and precious things-her robes, her ornaments, her presents: a fortune in themselves—she had taken nothing. But weeks passed without word or sign; and it was feared that something terrible had befallen her. Rivers were dragged, and wells were searched. Inquiries were made by telegraph and by letter. Trusted servants were sent to look for her. Rewards were offered for any news—especially a reward to Kimika, who was really attached to the girl, and would have been only too happy to find her without any reward at all. But the mystery remained a mystery. Application to the authorities would have been useless: the fugitive had done no wrong, broken no law; and the vast machinery of the imperial police-system was not to be set in motion by the passionate whim of a boy. Months grew into years; but neither Kimika, nor the little sister in Kyoto, nor any one of the thousands who had known and admired the beautiful dancer, ever saw Kimiko again.
But what she had foretold came true ;—for time dries all tears and quiets all longing; and even in Japan one does not really try to die twice for the same despair. The lover of Kimiko became wiser; and there was found for him a very sweet person for wife, who gave him a son. And other years passed; and there was happiness in the fairy-home where Kimiko had once been.
There came to that home one morning, as if seeking alms, a traveling nun; and the child, hearing her Buddhist cry of "Ha—i! ha—i!" ran to the gate. And presently a house-servant, bringing out the customary gift of rice, wondered to see the nun caressing the child, and whispering to him. Then the little one cried to the servant, "Let me give!"—and the nun pleaded from under the veiling shadow of her great straw hat: "Honorably allow the child to give me." So the boy put the rice into the mendicant's bowl. Then she thanked him, and asked:—"Now will you say again for me the little word which I prayed you to tell your honored father?" And the child lisped:—"Father, one whom you will never see again in this world, says that her heart is glad because she has seen your son."
The nun laughed softly, and caressed him again, and passed away swiftly; and the servant wondered more than ever, while the child ran to tell his father the words of the mendicant.
But the father's eyes dimmed as he heard the words, and he wept over his boy. For he, and only he, knew who had been at the gate, —and the sacrificial meaning of all that had been hidden.
Now he thinks much, but tells his thought to no one.
He knows that the space between sun and sun is less than the space between himself and the woman who loved him.
He knows it were vain to ask in what remote city, in what fantastic riddle of narrow nameless streets, in what obscure little temple known only to the poorest poor, she waits for the darkness before the Dawn of the Immeasurable Light,—when the Face of the Teacher will smile upon her,—when the Voice of the Teacher will say to her, in tones of sweetness deeper than ever came from human lover's lips:—"O my daughter in the Law, thou hast practiced the perfect way; thou hast believed and understood the highest truth;—therefore come I now to meet and to welcome thee!"
THREE POPULAR BALLADS
Read before the Asiatic Society of Japan, October 17, 1894.
During the spring of 1891, I visited the settlement in Matsue, Izumo, of an outcast people known as the yama-no-mono. Some results of the visit were subsequently communicated to the "Japan Mail," in a letter published June 13, 1891, and some extracts from that letter I think it may be worth while to cite here, by way of introduction to the subject of the present paper.
"The settlement is at the southern end of Matsue in a tiny valley, or rather hollow among the hills which form a half-circle behind the city. Few Japanese of the better classes have ever visited such a village; and even the poorest of the common people shun the place as they would shun a centre of contagion; for the idea of defilement, both moral and physical, is still attached to the very name of its inhabitants. Thus, although the settlement is within half an hour's walk from the heart of the city, probably not half a dozen of the thirty-six thousand residents of Matsue have visited it.
"There are four distinct outcast classes in Matsue and its environs: the hachiya, the koya-no-mono, the yama-no-mono, and the eta of Suguta.
"There are two settlements of hachiya. These were formerly the public executioners, and served under the police in various capacities. Although by ancient law the lowest class of pariahs, their intelligence was sufficiently cultivated by police service and by contact with superiors to elevate them in popular opinion above the other outcasts. They are now manufacturers of bamboo cages and baskets. They are said to be descendants of the family and retainers of Taira-no-Masakado-Heishino, the only man in Japan who ever seriously conspired to seize the imperial throes by armed force, and who was killed by the famous general Taira-no-Sadamori.
"The koya-no-mono are slaughterers and dealers in hides. They are never allowed to enter any house in Matsue except the shop of a dealer in geta and other footgear. Originally vagrants, they were permanently settled in Matsue by some famous daimyo, who built for them small houses—koya—on the bank of the canal. Hence their name. As for the eta proper, their condition and calling are too familiar to need comment in this connection.
"The yama-no-mono are so called because they live among the hills (yama) at the southern end of Matsue. They have a monopoly of the rag-and-waste-paper business, and are buyers of all sorts of refuse, from old bottles to broken-down machinery. Some of them are rich. Indeed, the whole class is, compared with other outcast classes, prosperous. Nevertheless, public prejudice against them is still almost as strong as in the years previous to the abrogation of the special laws concerning them. Under no conceivable circumstances could any of them obtain employment as servants. Their prettiest girls in old times often became joro; but at no time could they enter a joroya in any neighboring city, much less in their own, so they were sold to establishments in remote places. A yama-no-mono to-day could not even become a kurumaya. He could not obtain employment as a common laborer in any capacity, except by going to some distant city where he could hope to conceal his origin. But if detected under such conditions he would run serious risk of being killed by his fellow- laborers. Under any circumstance it would be difficult for a yama-no-mono to pass himself off for a heimin. Centuries of isolation and prejudice have fixed and moulded the manners of the class in recognizable ways; and even its language has become a special and curious dialect.
"I was anxious to see something of a class so singularly situated and specialized; and I had the good fortune to meet a Japanese gentleman who, although belonging to the highest class of Matsue, was kind enough to agree to accompany me to their village, where he had never been himself. On the way thither he told me many curious things about the yama-no-mono. In feudal times these people had been kindly treated by the samurai; and they were often allowed or invited to enter the courts of samurai dwellings to sing and dance, for which performances they were paid. The songs and the dances with which they were able to entertain even those aristocratic families were known to no other people, and were called Daikoku-mai. Singing the Daikoku-mai was, in fact, the special hereditary art of the yama-no-mono, and represented their highest comprehension of aesthetic and emotional matters. In former times they could not obtain admittance to a respectable theatre; and, like the hachiya, had theatres of their own. It would be interesting, my friend added, to learn the origin of their songs and their dances; for their songs are not in their own special dialect, but in pure Japanese. And that they should have been able to preserve this oral literature without deterioration is especially remarkable from the fact that the yama-no-mono were never taught to read or write. They could not even avail themselves of those new educational opportunities which the era of Meiji has given to the masses; prejudice is still far too strong to allow of their children being happy in a public school. A small special school might be possible, though there would perhaps be no small difficulty in obtaining willing teachers(1).
"The hollow in which the village stands is immediately behind the Buddhist cemetery of Tokoji. The settlement has its own Shinto temple. I was extremely surprised at the aspect of the place; for I had expected to see a good deal of ugliness and filth. On the contrary, I saw a multitude of neat dwellings, with pretty gardens about them, and pictures on the walls of the rooms. There were many trees; the village was green with shrubs and plants, and picturesque to an extreme degree; for, owing to the irregularity of the ground, the tiny streets climbed up and down hill at all sorts of angles,—the loftiest street being fifty or sixty feet above the lowermost. A large public bath-house and a public laundry bore evidence that the yama-no-mono liked clean linen as well as their heimin neighbors on the other side of the hill.
"A crowd soon gathered to look at the strangers who had come to their village,—a rare event for them. The faces I saw seemed much like the faces of the heimin, except that I fancied the ugly ones were uglier, making the pretty ones appear more pretty by contrast. There were one or two sinister faces, recalling faces of gypsies that I had seen; while some little girls, on the other hand, had remarkably pleasing features. There were no exchanges of civilities, as upon meeting heimin; a Japanese of the better class would as soon think of taking off his hat to a yama-no-mono as a West-Indian planter would think of bowing to a negro. The yama-no-mono themselves usually show by their attitude that they expect no forms. None of the men saluted us; but some of the women, on being kindly addressed, made obeisance. Other women, weaving coarse straw sandals (an inferior quality of zori), would answer only 'yes' or 'no' to questions, and seemed to be suspicious of us. My friend called my attention to the fact that the women were dressed differently from Japanese women of the ordinary classes. For example, even among the very poorest heimin there are certain accepted laws of costume; there are certain colors which may or may not be worn, according to age. But even elderly women among these people wear obi of bright red or variegated hues, and kimono of a showy tint.
"Those of the women seen in the city street, selling or buying, are the elders only. The younger stay at home. The elderly women always go into town with large baskets of a peculiar shape, by which the fact that they are yama-no-mono is at once known. Numbers of these baskets were visible, principally at the doors of the smaller dwellings. They are carried on the back, and are used to contain all that the yama-no-mono buy,—old paper, old wearing apparel, bottles, broken glass, and scrap-metal.
"A woman at last ventured to invite us to her house, to look at some old colored prints she wished to sell. Thither we went, and were as nicely received as in a heimin residence. The pictures —including a number of drawings by Hiroshige—proved to be worth buying; and my friend then asked if we could have the pleasure of hearing the Daikoku-mai. To my great satisfaction the proposal was well received; and on our agreeing to pay a trifle to each singer, a small band of neat-looking young girls, whom we had not seen before, made their appearance, and prepared to sing, while an old woman made ready to dance. Both the old woman and the girls provided themselves with curious instruments for the performance. Three girls had instruments shaped like mallets, made of paper and bamboo: these were intended to represent the hammer of Dai-koku(2); they were held in the left hand, a fan being waved in the right. Other girls were provided with a kind of castanets,—two flat pieces of hard dark wood, connected by a string. Six girls formed in a line before the house. The old woman took her place facing the girls, holding in her hands two little sticks, one stick being notched along a part of its length. By drawing it across the other stick, a curious rattling noise was made.
"My friend pointed out to me that the singers formed two distinct parties, of three each. Those bearing the hammer and fan were the Daikoku band: they were to sing the ballads Those with the castanets were the Ebisu party and formed the chorus.
"The old woman rubbed her little sticks together, and from the throats of the Daikoku band there rang out a clear, sweet burst of song, quite different from anything I had heard before in Japan, while the tapping of the castanets kept exact time to the syllabification of the words, which were very rapidly uttered. When the first three girls had sung a certain number of lines, the voices of the other three joined in, producing a very pleasant though untrained harmony; and all sang the burden together. Then the Daikoku party began another verse; and, after a certain interval, the chorus was again sung. In the meanwhile the old woman was dancing a very fantastic dance which provoked laughter from the crowd, occasionally chanting a few comic words.
"The song was not comic, however; it was a very pathetic ballad entitled 'Yaoya O-Shichi.' Yaoya O-Shichi was a beautiful girl, who set fire to her own house in order to obtain another meeting with her lover, an acolyte in a temple where she expected that her family would be obliged to take refuge after the fire. But being detected and convicted of arson, she was condemned by the severe law of that age to be burnt alive. The sentence was carried into effect; but the youth and beauty of the victim, and the motive of her offense, evoked a sympathy in the popular heart which found later expression in song and, drama.
"None of the performers, except the old woman, lifted the feet from the ground while singing—but all swayed their bodies in time to the melody. The singing lasted more than one hour, during which the voices never failed in their quality; and yet, so far from being weary of it, and although I could not understand a word uttered, I felt very sorry when it was all over. And with the pleasure received there came to the foreign listener also a strong sense of sympathy for the young singers, victims of a prejudice so ancient that its origin is no longer known."
(1) Since the time this letter to the Mail was written, a primary school has been established for the yama-no-mono, through the benevolence of Matsue citizens superior to prejudice. The undertaking did not escape severe local criticism, but it seems to have proved successful.
(2) Daikoku is the popular God of Wealth. Ebisu is the patron of labor. See, for the history of these deities, an article (translated) entitled "The Seven Gods of Happiness," by Carlo Puini, vol. iii. Transactions of the Asiatic Society. See, also, for an account of their place in Shinto worship, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, vol. 1.
The foregoing extracts from my letter to the "Mail" tell the history of my interest in the Daikoku-mai. At a later time I was able to procure, through the kindness of my friend Nishida Sentaro, of Matsue, written copies of three of the ballads as sung by the yama-no-mono; and translations of these were afterwards made for me. I now venture to offer my prose renderings of the ballads,—based on the translations referred to,—as examples of folk-song not devoid of interest. An absolutely literal rendering, executed with the utmost care, and amply supplied with explanatory notes, would be, of course, more worthy the attention of a learned society. Such a version would, however, require a knowledge of Japanese which I do not possess, as well as much time and patient labor. Were the texts in them-selves of value sufficient to justify a scholarly translation, I should not have attempted any translation at all; but I felt convinced that their interest was of a sort which could not be much diminished by a free and easy treatment. From any purely literary point of view, the texts are disappointing, exhibiting no great power of imagination, and nothing really worthy to be called poetical art. While reading such verses, we find ourselves very far away indeed from the veritable poetry of Japan,—from those compositions which, with a few chosen syllables only, can either create a perfect colored picture in the mind, or bestir the finest sensations of memory with marvelous penetrative delicacy. The Daikoku-mai are extremely crude; and their long popularity has been due, I fancy, rather to the very interesting manner of singing them than to any quality which could permit us to compare them with the old English ballads.
The legends upon which these chants were based still exist in many other forms, including dramatic compositions. I need scarcely refer to the vast number of artistic suggestions which they have given, but I may observe that their influence in this regard has not yet passed away. Only a few months ago, I saw a number of pretty cotton prints, fresh from the mill, picturing Oguri-Hangwan making the horse Onikage stand upon a chessboard. Whether the versions of the ballads I obtained in Izumo were composed there or elsewhere I am quite unable to say; but the stories of Shuntoku-maru, Oguri-Hangwan, and Yaoya O-Shichi are certainly well known in every part of Japan.
Together with these prose translations, I submit to the Society the original texts, to which are appended some notes of interest about the local customs connected with the singing of the Daikoku-mai, about the symbols used by the dancers, and about the comic phrases chanted at intervals during the performances,—phrases of which the coarse humor sometimes forbids any rendering.
All the ballads are written in the same measure, exemplified by the first four lines of "Yaoya O-Shichi."
Koe ni yoru ne no, aki no skika Tsuma yori miwoba kogasu nari Go-nin musume no sanno de Iro mo kawasanu Edo-zakura.
The chorus, or hayashi, does not seem to be sung at the end of a fixed number of lines, but rather at the termination of certain parts of the recitative. There is also no fixed limit to the number of singers in either band: these may be very many or very few. I think that the curious Izumo way of singing the burden—so that the vowel sounds in the word iya uttered by one band, and in the word sorei uttered by the other, are made to blend together —might be worth the attention of some one interested in Japanese folk-music. Indeed, I am convinced that a very delightful and wholly unexplored field of study offers itself in Japan to the student of folk-music and popular chants. The songs of the Honen-odori, or harvest dances, with their curious choruses; the chants of the Bon-odori, which differ in every district; the strange snatches of song, often sweet and weird, that one hears from the rice-fields or the mountain slopes in remote provinces, have qualities totally different from those we are accustomed to associate with the idea of Japanese music,—a charm indisputable even for Western ears, because not less in harmony with the nature inspiring it than the song of a bird or the shrilling of cicadae. To reproduce such melodies, with their extraordinary fractional tones, would be no easy task, but I cannot help believing that the result would fully repay the labor. Not only do they represent a very ancient, perhaps primitive musical sense: they represent also something essentially characteristic of the race; and there is surely much to be learned in regard to race-emotion from the comparative study of folk-music.
The fact, however, that few of those peculiarities which give so strange a charm to the old peasant-chants are noticeable in the Izumo manner of singing the Daikoku-mai would perhaps indicate that the latter are comparatively modern.
THE BALLAD OF SHUNTOKU-MARU
Ara!—Joyfully young Daikoko and Ebisu enter dancing
Shall we tell a tale, or shall we utter felicitations? A tale: then of what is it best that we should tell? Since we are bidden to your august house to relate a story, we shall relate the story of Shuntoku.
Surely there once lived, in the Province of Kawachi, a very rich man called Nobuyoshi. And his eldest son was called Shuntoku-maru.
When Shuntoku-maru, that eldest son, was only three years old, his mother died. And when he was five years old, there was given to him a stepmother.
When he was seven years old, his stepmother gave birth to a son who was called Otowaka-maru. And the two brothers grew up together.
When Shuntoku became sixteen years old, he went to Kyoto, to the temple of Tenjin-Sama, to make offerings to the god.
There he saw a thousand people going to the temple, and a thousand returning, and a thousand remaining: there was a gathering of three thousand persons(1).
Through that multitude the youngest daughter of a rich man called Hagiyama was being carried to the temple in a kago(2). Shuntoku also was traveling in a kago; and the two kago moved side by side along the way.
Gazing on the girl, Shuntoku fell in love with her. And the two exchanged looks and letters of love.
All this was told to the stepmother of Shuntoku by a servant that was a flatterer.
Then the stepmother began to think that should the youth remain in his father's home, the store-houses east and west, and the granaries north and south, and the house that stood in the midst, could never belong to Otowaka-maru.
Therefore she devised an evil thing, and spoke to her husband, saying, "Sir, my lord, may I have your honored permission to be free for seven days from the duties of the household?"
Her husband answered, "Yes, surely; but what is it that you wish to do for seven days?" She said to him: "Before being wedded to my lord, I made a vow to the August Deity of Kiyomidzu; and now I desire to go to the temple to fulfill that vow."
Said the master: "That is well. But which of the man servants or maid servants would you wish to go with you?" Then she made reply: "Neither man servant nor maid servant do I require. I wish to go all alone."
And without paying heed to any advice about her journey, she departed from the house, and made great haste to Kyoto.
Reaching the quarter Sanjo in the city of Kyoto, she asked the way to the street Kajiyamachi, which is the Street of the Smiths. And finding it, she saw three smithies side by side.
Going to the middle one, she greeted the smith, and asked him: "Sir smith, can you make some fine small work in iron?" And he answered: "Ay, lady, that I can."
Then she said: "Make me, I pray you, nine and forty nails without heads." But he answered: "I am of the seventh generation of a family of smiths; yet never did I hear till now of nails without heads, and such an order I cannot take. It were better that you should ask elsewhere."
"Nay," said she, "since I came first to you, I do not want to go elsewhere. Make them for me, I pray, sir smith." He answered: "Of a truth, if I make such nails, I must be paid a thousand ryo(3)."
She replied to him: "If you make them all for me, I care nothing whether you desire one thousand or two thousand ryo. Make them, I beseech you, sir smith." So the smith could not well refuse to make the nails.
He arranged all things rightly to honor the God of the Bellows(4). Then taking up his first hammer, he recited the Kongo-Sutra(5); taking up his second, he recited the Kwannon-Sutra; taking up his third, he recited the Amida-Sutra,—because he feared those nails might be used for a wicked purpose.
Thus in sorrow he finished the nails. Then was the woman much pleased. And receiving the nails in her left hand, she paid the money to the smith with her right, and bade him farewell, and went upon her way.
When she was gone, then the smith thought: "Surely I have in gold koban(6) the sum of a thousand ryo. But this life of ours is only like the resting-place of a traveler journeying, and I must show to others some pity and kindness. To those who are cold I will give clothing, and to those who are hungry I will give food."
And by announcing his intention in writings(7) set up at the boundaries of provinces and at the limits of villages, he was able to show his benevolence to many people.
On her way the woman stopped at the house of a painter, and asked the painter to paint for her a picture.
And the painter questioned her, sayings "Shall I paint you the picture of a very old plum-tree, or of an ancient pine?"
She said to him; "No: I want neither the picture of an old plum-tree nor of an ancient pine. I want the picture of a boy of sixteen years, having a stature of five feet, and two moles upon his face."
"That," said the painter, "will be an easy thing to paint." And he made the picture in a very little time. It was much like Shuntoku-maru; and the woman rejoiced as she departed.
With that picture of Shuntoku she hastened to Kiyomidzu; and she pasted the picture upon one of the pillars in the rear of the temple.
And with forty-seven out of the forty-nine nails she nailed the picture to the pillar; and with the two remaining nails she nailed the eyes.
Then feeling assured that she had put a curse upon Shuntoku, that wicked woman went home. And she said humbly, "I have returned;" and she pretended to be faithful and true.
(1) These numbers simply indicate a great multitude in the language of the people; they have no exact significance.
(2) Kago, a kind of palanquin.
(3) The ancient ryo or tael had a value approximating that of the dollar of 100 sen.
(4) Fuigo Sama, deity of smiths.
(5) "Diamond Sutra."
(6) Koban, a gold coin. There were koban of a great many curious shapes and designs. The most common form was a flat or oval disk, stamped with Chinese characters. Some koban were fully five inches in length by four in width.
(7) Public announcements are usually written upon small wooden tablets attached to a post; and in the country such announcements are still set up just as suggested in the ballad.
Now three or four months after the stepmother of Shuntoku had thus invoked evil upon him he became very sick. Then that stepmother secretly rejoiced.
And she spoke cunningly to Nobuyoshi, her husband, saying: "Sir, my lord, this sickness of Shuntoku seems to be a very bad sickness; and it is difficult to keep one having such sickness in the house of a rich man."
Then Nobuyoshi was much surprised, and sorrowed greatly; but, thinking to himself that indeed it could not be helped, he called Shuntoku to him, and said:—
"Son, this sickness which you have seems to be leprosy; and one having such a sickness cannot continue to dwell in this house.
"It were best for you, therefore, to make a pilgrimage through all the provinces, in the hope that you may be healed by divine influence.
"And my storehouses and my granaries I will not give to Otowaka-maru, but only to you, Shuntoku; so you must come back to us."
Poor Shuntoku, not knowing how wicked his stepmother was, besought her in his sad condition, saying: "Dear mother, I have been told that I must go forth and wander as a pilgrim.
"But now I am blind, and I cannot travel without difficulty. I should be content with one meal a day in place of three, and glad for permission to live in a corner of some storeroom or outhouse; but I should like to remain somewhere near my home.
"Will you not please permit me to stay, if only for a little time? Honored mother, I beseech you, let me stay."
But she answered: "As this trouble which you now have is only the beginning of the bad disease, it is not possible for me to suffer you to stay. You must go away from the house at once."
Then Shuntoku was forced out of the house by the servants, and into the yard, sorrowing greatly.
And the wicked stepmother, following, cried out: "As your father has commanded, you must go away at once, Shuntoku."
Shuntoku answered: "See, I have not even a traveling-dress. A pilgrim's gown and leggings I ought to have, and a pilgrim's wallet for begging."
At hearing these words, the wicked stepmother was glad; and she at once gave him all that he required.
Shuntoku received the things, and thanked her, and made ready to depart, even in his piteous state.
He put on the gown and hung a wooden mamori (charm) upon his breast(1), and he suspended the wallet about his neck. He put on his straw sandals and fastened them tightly, and took a bamboo staff in his hand, and placed a hat of woven rushes upon his head.
And saying, "Farewell, father; farewell, mother," poor Shuntoku started on his journey.
Sorrowfully Nobuyoshi accompanied his son a part of the way, saying: "It cannot be helped, Shuntoku. But if, through the divine favor Of those august deities to whom that charm is dedicated, your disease should become cured, then come back to us at once, my son."
Hearing from his father these kind words of farewell, Shuntoku felt much happier, and covering his face with the great rush hat, so as not to be known to the neighbors, he went on alone.
But in a little while, finding his limbs so weak that he was afraid he could not go far, and feeling his heart always drawn back toward his home, so that he could not help often stopping and turning his face thither, he became sad again.
(1) See Professor Chamberlain's "Notes on some Minor Japanese Religious Practices," for full details of pilgrimages and pilgrim costumes, in Journal of the Anthropological Institute (1898). The paper is excellently illustrated.
Since it would have been difficult for him to enter any dwelling, he had often to sleep under pine-trees or in the forests; but sometimes he was lucky enough to find shelter in some wayside shrine containing images of the Buddhas.
And once in the darkness of the morning, before the breaking of the day, in the hour when the crows first begin to fly abroad and cry, the dead mother of Shuntoku came to him in a dream.
And she said to him: "Son, your affliction has been caused by the witchcraft of your wicked stepmother. Go now to the divinity of Kiyomidzu, and beseech the goddess that you may be healed."
Shuntoku arose, wondering, and took his way toward the city of Kyoto, toward the temple of Kiyomidzu.
One day, as he traveled, he went to the gate of the house of a rich man named Hagiyama, crying out loudly: "Alms! alms!"
Then a maid servant of the house, hearing the cry, came out and gave him food, and laughed aloud, saying: "Who could help laughing at the idea of trying to give anything to so comical a pilgrim?"
Shuntoku asked: "Why do you laugh? I am the son of a rich and well-famed man, Nobuyoshi of Kawachi. But because of a malediction invoked upon me by my wicked stepmother, I have become as you see me."
Then Otohime, a daughter of that family, hearing the voices, came out, and asked the maid: "Why did you laugh?"
The servant answered: "Oh, my lady, there was a blind man from Kawachi, who seemed about twenty years old, clinging to the pillar of the gate, and loudly crying, 'Alms! alms.'
"So I tried to give him some clean rice upon a tray; but when I held out the tray toward his right hand, he advanced his left; and when I held out the tray toward his left hand, he advanced his right: that was the reason I could not help laughing."
Hearing the maid explaining thus to the young lady, the blind man became angry, and said: "You have no right to despise strangers. I am the son of a rich and well-famed man in Kawachi, and I am called Shuntoku-maru."
Then the daughter of that house, Otohime, suddenly remembering him, also became quite angry, and said to the servant: "You must not laugh rudely. Laughing at others to-day, you might be laughed at yourself to-morrow."
But Otohime had been so startled that she could not help trembling a little, and, retiring to her room, she suddenly fainted away.
Then in the house all was confusion, and a doctor was summoned in great baste. But the girl, being quite unable to take any medicine, only became weaker and weaker.
Then many famous physicians were sent for; and they consulted together about Otohime; and they decided at last that her sickness had been caused only by some sudden sorrow.
So the mother said to her sick daughter "Tell me, without concealment, if you have any secret grief; and if there be anything you want, whatever it be, I will try to get it for you."
Otohime replied: "I am very much ashamed; but I shall tell you what I wish.
"The blind man who came here the other day was the son of a rich and well-famed citizen of Kawachi, called Nobuyoshi.
"At the time of the festival of Tenjin at Kitano in Kyoto, I met that young man there, on my way to the temple; and we then exchanged letters of love, pledging ourselves to each other.
"And therefore I very much wish that I may be allowed to travel in search of him, until I find him, wherever he may be."
The mother kindly made answer: "That, indeed, will be well. If you wish for a kago, you may have one; or if you would like to have a horse, you can have one.
"You can choose any servant you like to accompany you, and I can let you have as many koban as you desire."
Otohime answered: "Neither horse nor kago do I need, nor any servant; I need only the dress of a pilgrim,—leggings and gown,—and a mendicant's wallet."
For Otohime held it her duty to set out by herself all alone, just as Shuntoku had done.
So she left home, saying farewell to her parents, with eyes full of tears: scarcely could she find voice to utter the word "good-by."
Over mountains and mountains she passed, and again over mountains; hearing only the cries of wild deer and the sound of torrent-water.
Sometimes she would lose her way; sometimes she would pursue alone a steep and difficult path; always she journeyed sorrowing.
At last she saw before her—far, far away—the pine-tree called Kawama-matsu, and the two rocks called Ota(1); and when she saw those rocks, she thought of Shuntoku with love and hope.
Hastening on, she met five or six persona going to Kumano; and she asked them: "Have you not met on your way a blind youth, about sixteen years old?"
They made answer: "No, not yet; but should we meet him anywhere, we will tell him whatever you wish."
This reply greatly disappointed Otohime; and she began to think that all her efforts to find her lover might be in vain; and she became very sad.
At last she became so end that she resolved not to try to find him in this world anymore, but to drown herself at once in the pool of Sawara, that she might be able to meet him in a future state.
She hurried there as fast as she could. And when she reached the pond, she fixed her pilgrim's staff in the ground, and hung her outer robe on a pine-tree, and threw away her wallet, and, loosening her hair, arranged it in the style called Shimada(2).
Then, having filled her sleeves with stones, she was about to leap into the water, when there appeared suddenly before her a venerable man of seemingly not less than eighty years, robed all in white, and bearing a tablet in his hand.
And the aged man said to her: "Be not thus in haste to die, Otohime! Shuntoku whom you seek is at Kiyomidzu San: go thither and meet him."
These were, indeed, the happiest tidings she could have desired, and she became at once very happy. And she knew she had thus been saved by the august favor of her guardian deity, and that it was the god himself who had spoken to her those words.
So she cast away the stones she had put into her sleeves, and donned again the outer robe she had taken off, and rearranged her hair, and took her way in all haste to the temple of Kiyomidzu.
(l) One meaning of "Ota" in Japanese is "has met" or "have met."
(2) The simple style in which the hair of dead woman is arranged. See chapter "Of Women's Hair," in Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan, vol. ii.
At last she reached the temple. She ascended the three lower steps, and glancing beneath a porch she saw her lover, Shuntoku, lying there asleep, covered with a straw mat; and she called to him, "Moshi! Moshi!(1)"
Shuntoku, thus being suddenly awakened, seized his staff, which was lying by his side, and cried out, "Every day the children of this neighborhood come here and annoy me, because I am blind!"
Otohime hearing these words, and feeling great sorrow, approached and laid her hands on her poor lover, and said to him:—
"I am not one of those bad, mischievous children; I am the daughter of the wealthy Hagiyama. And because I promised myself to you at the, festival of Kitano Tenjin in Kyoto, I have come here to see you."
Astonished at hearing the voice of his sweet-heart, Shuntoku rose up quickly, and cried out: "Oh! are you really Otohime? It is a long time since we last met—but this is so strange! Is it not all a lie?"
And then, stroking each other, they could only cry, instead of speaking.
But presently Shuntoku, giving way to the excitement of his grief, cried out to Otohime: "A malediction has been laid upon me by my stepmother, and my appearance has been changed, as you see.
"Therefore never can I be united to you as your husband. Even as I now am, so must I remain until I fester to death.
"And so you must go beck home at once, and live in happiness and splendor."
But she answered in great sorrow: "Never! Are you really in earnest? Are you truly in your right senses?
"No, no! I have disguised myself thus only because I loved you enough even to give my life for you.
"And now I will never leave yea, no matter what may become of me in the future."
Shuntoku was comforted by these words; but he was also filled with pity for her, so that he wept, without being able to speak a word.
Then she said to him: "Since your wicked stepmother bewitched you only because you were rich, I am not afraid to revenge you by bewitching her also; for I, too, am the child of a rich man."
And then, with her whole heart, she spoke thus to the divinity within the temple:—"For the space of seven days and seven nights I shall remain fasting in this temple, to prove my vow; and if you have any truth and pity, I beseech you to save us.
"For so great a building as this a thatched roof is not the proper roof. I will re-roof it with feathers of little birds; and the ridge of the roof I will cover with thigh-feathers of falcons.
"This torii and these lanterns of stone are ugly: I will erect a torii of gold; and I will make a thousand lamps of gold and a thousand of silver, and every evening I will light them.
"In so large a garden as this there should be trees. I will plant a thousand hinoki, a thousand sugi, a thousand karamatsu.
"But if Shuntoku should not be healed by reason of this vow, then he and I will drown ourselves together in yonder lotos-pond.
"And after our death, taking the form of two great serpents, we will torment all who come to worship at this temple, and bar the way against pilgrims."
(1) An exclamation uttered to call the attention of another to the presence of the speaker,—from the respectful verb "to say." Our colloquial "say" does not give the proper meaning. Our "please" comes nearer to it.
Now, strange to say, on the night of the seventh day after she had vowed this vow, there came to her in a dream Kwannon-Sama who said to her:
"The prayer which you prayed I shall grant."
Forthwith Otohime awoke, and told her dream to Shuntoku, and they both wondered. They arose, and went down to the river together, and washed themselves, and worshiped the goddess.
Then, strange to say, the eyes of blind Shuntoku were fully opened, and his clear sight came back to him, and the disease passed away from him. And both wept because of the greatness of their joy.
Together they sought an inn, and there laid aside their pilgrim-dresses, and put on fresh robes, and hired kago and carriers to bear them home.
Reaching the house of his father, Shuntoku cried out: "Honored parents, I have returned to you! By virtue of the written charm upon the sacred tablet, I have been healed of my sickness, as you may see. Is all well with you, honored parents?"
And Shuntoku's father, hearing, ran out and cried: "Oh! how much troubled I have been for your sake!
"Never for one moment could I cease to think of you; but now—how glad I am to see you, and the bride you have brought with you!" And all rejoiced together.
But, on the other hand, it was very strange that the wicked stepmother at the same moment became suddenly blind, and that her fingers and her toes began to rot, so that she was in great torment.
Then the bride and the bridegroom said to that wicked stepmother: "Lo! the leprosy has come upon you!
"We cannot keep a leper in the house of a rich man. Please to go away at once!
"We shall give you a pilgrim's gown and leggings, a rush hat, and a staff; for we have all these things ready here."
Then the wicked stepmother knew that even to save her from death it could not be helped, because she herself had done so wicked a thing before. Shuntoku and his wife were very glad; how rejoiced they were!
The stepmother prayed them to allow her only one small meal a day,—just as Shuntoku had done; but Otohime said to the stricken woman: "We cannot keep you here,—not even in the corner of an outhouse. Go away at once!"
Also Nobuyoshi said to his wicked wife: "What do you mean by remaining here? How long do you require to go?"
And he drove her out, and she could not help herself, and she went away crying, and striving to hide her face from the sight of the neighbors.
Otowaka led his blind mother by the hand; and together they went to Kyoto and to the temple of Kiyomidzu.
When they got there they ascended three of the temple steps, and knelt down, and prayed the goddess, saying: "Give us power to cast another malediction!"
But the goddess suddenly appeared before them, and said: "Were it a good thing that you pray for, I would grant your prayer; but with an evil matter I will have no more to do.
"If you must die, then die there! And after your death you shall be sent to hell, and there put into the bottom of an iron caldron to be boiled."
This is the end of the Story of Shuntoku. With a jubilant tap of the fan we finish so! Joyfully!-joyfully!-joyfully!
THE BALLAD OF OGURI-HANGWAN
To tell every word of the tale,—this is the story of Oguri-Hangwan.
I. THE BIRTH
The famed Takakura Dainagon, whose other name was Kane-ie, was so rich that he had treasure-houses in every direction.
He owned one precious stone that had power over fire, and another that had power over water.
He also had the claws of a tiger, extracted from the paws of the living animal; he had the horns of a colt; and he likewise owned even a musk-cat (jako-neko)(1).
Of all that a man might have in this world, he wanted nothing except an heir, and he had no other cause for sorrow.
A trusted servant in his house named Ikenoshoji said at last to him these words:—
"Seeing that the Buddhist deity Tamon-Ten, enshrined upon the holy mountain of Kurama, is famed for his divine favor far and near, I respectfully entreat you to go to that temple and make prayer to him; for then your wish will surely be fulfilled."
To this the master agreed, and at once began to make preparation for a journey to the temple.
As he traveled with great speed he reached the temple very soon; and there, having purified his body by pouring water over it, he prayed with all his heart for an heir.
And during three days and three nights he abstained from food of every sort. But all seemed in vain.
Wherefore the lord, despairing because of the silence of the god, resolved to perform harakiri in the temple, and so to defile the sacred building.
Moreover, he resolved that his spirit, after his death, should haunt the mountain of Kurama, to deter and terrify all pilgrims upon the nine-mile path of the mountain.
The delay of even one moment would have been fatal; but good Ikenoshoji came running to the place just in time, and prevented the seppuku(2).
"Oh, my lord!" the retainer cried, "you are surely too hasty in your resolve to die.
"Rather first suffer me to try my fortune, and see if I may not be able to offer up prayer for your sake with more success."
Then after having twenty-one times purified his body,—seven times washing with hot water, seven times with cold, and yet another seven times washing himself with a bundle of bamboo-grass,—he thus prayed to the god:—
"If to my lord an heir be given by the divine favor, then I vow that I will make offering of paving-blocks of bronze wherewith to pave this temple court.
"Also of lanterns of bronze to stand in rows without the temple, and of plating of pure gold and pure silver to cover all the pillars within!"
And upon the third of the three nights which he passed in prayer before the god, Tamon-Ten revealed himself to the pious Ikenoshoji and said to him:—
"Earnestly wishing to grant your petition, I sought far and near for a fitting heir,—even as far as Tenjiku (India) and Kara (China).
"But though human beings are numerous as the stars in the sky or the countless pebbles upon the shore, I was grieved that I could not find of the seed of man one heir that might well be given to your master.
"And at last, knowing not what else to do, I took away by stealth [the spirit?] of one of the eight children whose father was one of the Shi-Tenno(3), residing on the peak Ari-ari, far among the Dandoku mountains. And that child I will give to become the heir of your master."
Having thus spoken, the deity retired within the innermost shrine. Then Ikenoshoji, starting from his real dream, nine times prostrated himself before the god, and hastened to the dwelling of his master.
Erelong the wife of Takakura Dainagon found herself with child; and after the ten(4) happy months she bore a son with painless labor.
It was strange that the infant had upon his forehead, marked quite plainly and naturally, the Chinese character for "rice."
And it was yet more strange to find that in his eyes four Buddhas(5) were reflected.
Ikenoshoji and the parents rejoiced; and the name Ari-waka (Young Ari) was given the child—after the name of the mountain Ari-ari —on the third day after the birth.
(1)"Musk-rat" is the translation given by some dictionaries. "Musk-deer" was suggested by my translator. But as some mythological animal is evidently meant, I thought it better to translate the word literally.
(2) The Chinese term for harakiri. It is thought to be the more refined word.
(3) Shi-Tenno: the Four Deva Kings of Buddhism, who guard the Four Quarters of the World.
(4) That is, ten by the ancient native manner of reckoning time.
(5) Shitai-no-mi-Hotoke: literally, a four-bodied-august Buddha. The image in the eye is called the Buddha: the idea here expressed seems to be that the eyes of the child reflected four instead of two images. Children of supernatural beings were popularly said to have double pupils. But I am giving only a popular explanation of the term.
II. THE BANISHMENT
Very quickly the child grew; and when he became fifteen, the reigning Emperor gave him the name and title of Oguri-Hangwan Kane-uji.
When he reached manhood his father resolved to get him a bride.
So the Dainagon looked upon all the daughters of the ministers and high officials, but he found none that he thought worthy to become the wife of his son.
But the young Hangwan, learning that he himself had been a gift to his parents from Tamon-Ten, resolved to pray to that deity for a spouse; and he hastened to the temple of the divinity, accompanied by Ikenoshoji.
There they washed their hands and rinsed their mouths, and remained three nights without sleep, passing all the time in religious exercises.
But as they had no companions, the young prince at last felt very lonesome, and began to play on his flute, made of the root of the bamboo.
Seemingly charmed by these sweet sounds, the great serpent that lived in the temple pond came to the entrance of the temple,—transforming its fearful shape into the likeness of a lovely female attendant of the Imperial Court,—and fondly listened to the melody.
Then Kane-uji thought he saw before him the very lady he desired for a wife. And thinking also that she was the one chosen for him by the deity, he placed the beautiful being in a palanquin and returned to his home.
But no sooner had this happened than a fearful storm burst upon the capital, followed by a great flood; and the flood and the storm both lasted for seven days and seven nights.
The Emperor was troubled greatly by these omens; and he sent for the astrologers, that they might explain the causes thereof.
They said in answer to the questions asked of them that the terrible weather was caused only by the anger of the male serpent, seeking vengeance for the loss of its mate,—which was none other than the fair woman that Kane-uji had brought back with him.
Whereupon the Emperor commanded that Kane-uji should be banished to the province of Hitachi, and that the transformed female serpent should at once be taken back to the pond upon the mountain of Kurama.
And being thus compelled by imperial order to depart, Kane-uji went away to the province of Hitachi, followed only by his faithful retainer, Ikenoshoji.
III. THE EXCHANGE OF LETTERS
Only a little while after the banishment of Kane-uji, a traveling merchant, seeking to sell his wares, visited the house of the exiled prince at Hitachi.
And being asked by the Hangwan where he lived, the merchant made answer, saying:—"I live in Kyoto, in the street called Muromachi, and my name is Goto Sayemon.
"My stock consists of goods of one thousand and eight different kinds which I send to China, of one thousand and eight kinds which I send to India, and yet another thousand and eight kinds which I sell only in Japan.
"So that my whole stock consists of three thousand and twenty-four different kinds of goods.
"Concerning the countries to which I have already been, I may answer that I made three voyages to India and three to China and this is my seventh journey to this part of Japan."
Having heard these things, Oguri-Hangwan asked the merchant whether he knew of any young girl who would make a worthy wife, since he, the prince, being still unmarried, desired to find such a girl.
Then said Sayemon: "In the province of Sagami, to the west of us, there lives a rich man called Tokoyama Choja, who has eight sons.
"Long he lamented that he had no daughter, and he long prayed for a daughter to the August Sun.
"And a daughter was given him; and after her birth, her parents thought it behoved them to give her a higher rank than their own, because her birth had come to pass through the divine influence of the August Heaven-Shining Deity; so they built for her a separate dwelling.
"She is, in very truth, superior to all other Japanese women; nor can I think of any other person in every manner worthy of you."
This story much pleased Kane-uji; and he at once asked Sayemon to act the part of match-maker(1) for him; and Sayemon promised to do everything in his power to fulfill the wish of the Hangwan.
Then Kane-uji called for inkstone and writing-brush, and wrote a love-letter, and tied it up with such a knot as love-letters are tied with.
And he gave it to the merchant to be delivered to the lady; and he gave him also, in reward for his services, one hundred golden ryo.
Sayemon again and again prostrated himself in thanks; and he put the letter into the box which he always carried with him. And then he lifted the box upon his back, and bade the prince fare-well.
Now, although the journey from Hitachi to Sagami is commonly a journey of seven days, the merchant arrived there at noon upon the third day, having traveled in all haste, night and day together, without stopping.
And he went to the building called Inui-no-Goshyo, which had been built by the rich Yokoyama for the sake of his only daughter, Terute-Hime, in the district of Soba, in the province of Sagami; and he asked permission to enter therein.
But the stern gate-keepers bade him go away, announcing that the dwelling was the dwelling of Terute-Hime, daughter of the famed Choja Yokoyama, and that no person of the male sex whosoever could be permitted to enter; and furthermore, that guards had been appointed to guard the palace—ten by night and ten by day—with extreme caution and severity.
But the merchant told the gate-keepers that he was Goto Sayemon, of the street called Muromachi, in the city of Kyoto; that he was a well-famed merchant there, and was by the people called Sendanya; that he had thrice been to India and thrice to China, and was now upon his seventh return journey to the great country of the Rising Sun.
And he said also to them: "Into all the palaces of Nihon, save this one only, I have been freely admitted; so I shall be deeply grateful to you if you permit me to enter."
Thus saying, he produced many rolls of silk, and presented them to the gate-keepers; and their cupidity made them blind; and the merchant, without more difficulty, entered, rejoicing.
Through the great outer gate he passed, and over a bridge, and then found himself in front of the chambers of the female attendants of the superior class.
And he called out with a very loud voice: "O my ladies, all things that you may require I have here with me!
"I have all jorogata-no-meshi-dogu; I have hair-combs and needles and tweezers; I have tategami, and combs of silver, and kamoji from Nagasaki, and even all kinds of Chinese mirrors!"
Whereupon the ladies, delighted with the idea of seeing these things, suffered the merchant to enter their apartment, which he presently made to look like a shop for the sale of female toilet articles.
(1) Nakodo. The profession of nakodo exists; but any person who arranges marriages for a consideration is for the time being called the nakodo.
But while making bargains and selling very quickly, Sayemon did not lose the good chance offered him; and taking from his box the love-letter which had been confided to him, he said to the ladies:—
"This letter, if I remember rightly, I picked up in some town in Hitachi, and I shall be very glad if you will accept it,—either to use it for a model if it be written beautifully, or to laugh at if it prove to have been written awkwardly."
Then the chief among the maids, receiving the letter, tried to read the writing upon the envelope: "Tsuki ni hoshi—ame ni arare ga—kori kana,"—
Which signified, "Moon and stars—rain and hail—make ice." But she could not read the riddle of the mysterious words.
The other ladies, who were also unable to guess the meaning of the words, could not but laugh; and they laughed so shrilly that the Princess Terute heard, and came among them, fully robed, and wearing a veil over her night-black hair.
And the bamboo-screen having been rolled up before her, Terute-Hime asked: "What is the cause of all this laughing? If there be anything amusing, I wish that you will let me share in the amusement."
The maids then answered, saying: "We were laughing only at our being unable to read a letter which this merchant from the capital says that he picked up in some street. And here is the letter: even the address upon it is a riddle to us."
And the letter, having been laid upon an open crimson fan, was properly presented to the princess, who received it, and admired the beauty of the writing, and said:—
"Never have I seen so beautiful a hand as this: it is like the writing of Kobodaishi himself, or of Monju Bosatsu.
"Perhaps the writer is one of those princes of the Ichijo, or Nijo, or Sanjo families, all famed for their skill in writing.
"Or, if this guess of mine be wrong, then I should say that these characters have certainly been written by Oguri-Hangwan Kane-uji, now so famed in the province of Hitachi.... I shall read the letter for you."
Then the envelope was removed; and the first phrase she read was Fuji no yama (the Mountain of Fuji), which she interpreted as signifying loftiness of rank. And then she met with such phrases as these:—
Kiyomidzu kosaka (the name of a place); arare ni ozasa (hail on the leaves of the bamboo-grass); itaya ni arare (hail following upon a wooden roof);
Tamato ni kori (ice in the sleeve); nonaka ni shimidzu (pure water running through a moor); koike ni makomo (rushes in a little pond);
Inoba ni tsuyu (dew on the leaves of the taro); shakunaga obi (a very long girdle); shika ni momiji (deer and maple-trees);
_Futamata-gawa (a forked river); _hoso tanigawa-ni marukibashi_ (a round log laid over a little stream for a bridge); _tsurunashi yumi ni hanuki dori_ (a stringless bow, and a wingless bird).
And then she understood that the characters signified:—
Maireba au—they would meet, for he would call upon her. Arare nai—then they would not be separated. Korobi au—they would repose together.
And the meaning of the rest was thus:—
"This letter should be opened within the sleeve, so that others may know nothing of it. Keep the secret in your own bosom.
"You must yield to me even as the rush bends to the wind. I am earnest to serve you in all things.
"We shall surely be united at last, whatever chance may separate us at the beginning. I wish for you even as the stag for its mate in the autumn.
"Even though long kept apart we shall meet, as meet the waters of a river divided in its upper course into two branches.
"Divine, I pray you, the meaning of this letter, and preserve it. I hope for a fortunate answer. Thinking of Terute-Hime, I feel as though I could fly."
And the Princess Terute found at the end of the letter the name of him who wrote it,—Oguri-Hangwan Kane-uji himself,—together with her own name, as being written to her.
Then she felt greatly troubled, because she had not at first supposed that the letter was addressed to her, and had, without thinking, read it aloud to the female attendants.
For she well knew that her father would quickly kill her in a most cruel manner, should the iron-hearted Choja(1) come to know the truth.
Wherefore, through fear of being mingled with the earth of the moor Uwanogahara,—fitting place for a father in wrath to slay his daughter,—she set the end of the letter between her teeth, and rent it to pieces, and withdrew to the inner apartment.
(1) Choja is not a proper name: it signifies really a wealthy man only, like the French terms "un richard," "un riche." But it is used almost like a proper name in the country still; the richest man in the place, usually a person of influence, being often referred to as "the Choja."
But the merchant, knowing that he could not go back to Hitachi without bearing some reply, resolved to obtain one by cunning.
Wherefore he hurried after the princess even into her innermost apartment, without so much as waiting to remove his sandals, and he cried out loudly:—"Oh, my princess! I have been taught that written characters were invented in India by Monju Bosatsu, and in Japan by Kobodaishi.
"And is it not like tearing the hands of Kobodaishi, thus to tear a letter written with characters?
"Know you not that a woman is less pure than a man? Wherefore, then, do you, born a woman, thus presume to tear a letter?
"Now, if you refuse to write a reply, I shall call upon all the gods; I shall announce to them this unwomanly act, and I shall invoke their malediction upon you!"
And with these words he took from the box which he always carried with him a Buddhist rosary; and he began to twist it about with an awful appearance of anger.
Then the Princess Terute, terrified and grieved, prayed him to cease his invocations, and promised that she would write an answer at once.
So her answer was quickly written, and given to the merchant, who was overjoyed by his success, and speedily departed for Hitachi, carrying his box upon his back.
IV. HOW KANE-UJI BECAME A BRIDEGROOM WITHOUT HIS FATHER-IN-LAW'S CONSENT
Traveling with great speed, the nakodo quickly arrived at the dwelling of the Hangwan, and gave the letter to the master, who removed the cover with hands that trembled for joy.
Very, very short the answer was,—only these words: Oki naka bune, "a boat floating in the offing."
But Kane-uji guessed the meaning to be: "As fortunes and misfortunes are common to all, be not afraid, and try to come unseen."
Therewith he summoned Ikenoshoji, and bade him make all needful preparation for a rapid journey. Goto Sayemon consented to serve as guide.
He accompanied them; and when they reached the district of Soba, and were approaching the house of the princess, the guide said to the prince:—
"That house before us, with the black gate, is the dwelling of the far-famed Yokoyama Choja; and that other house, to the northward of it, having a red gate, is the residence of the flower-fair Terute.
"Be prudent in all things, and you will succeed." And with these words, the guide disappeared.
Accompanied by his faithful retainer, the Hangwan approached the red gate.
Both attempted to enter, when the gate-keeper sought to prevent them; declaring they were much too bold to seek to enter the dwelling of Terute-Hime, only daughter of the renowned Yokoyama Choja,—the sacred child begotten through the favor of the deity of the Sun.
"You do but right to speak thus," the retainer made reply. "But you must learn that we are officers from the city in search of a fugitive.
"And it is just because all males are prohibited from entering this dwelling that a search therein must be made."
Then the guards, amazed, suffered them to pass, and saw the supposed officers of justice enter the court, and many of the ladies in waiting come forth to welcome them as guests.
And the Lady Terute, marvelously pleased by the coming of the writer of that love-letter, appeared before her wooer, robed in her robes of ceremony, with a veil abut her shoulders.
Kane-uji was also much delighted at being thus welcomed by the beautiful maiden. And the wedding ceremony was at once performed, to the great joy of both, and was followed by a great wine feast.
So great was the mirth, and so joyful were all, that the followers of the prince and the maids of the princess danced together, and together made music.
And Oguri-Hangwan himself produced his flute, made of the root of a bamboo, and began to play upon it sweetly.
Then the father of Terute, hearing all this joyous din in the house of his daughter, wondered greatly what the cause might be.
But when he had been told how the Hangwan had become the bridegroom of his daughter without his consent, the Choja grew wondrous angry, and in secret devised a scheme of revenge.
V. THE POISONING
The next day Yokoyama sent to Prince Kane-uji a message, inviting him to come to his house, there to perform the wine-drinking ceremony of greeting each other as father-in-law and son-in-law.
Then the Princess Terute sought to dissuade the Hangwan from going there, because she had dreamed in the night a dream of ill omen.
But the Hangwan, making light of her fears, went boldly to the dwelling of the Choja, followed by his young retainers. Then Yokoyama Choja, rejoicing, caused many dishes to be prepared, containing all delicacies furnished by the mountains and the sea(1), and well entertained the Hangwan.
At last, when the wine-drinking began to flag, Yokoyama uttered the wish that his guest, the lord Kane-uji, would also furnish some entertainment(2).
"And what shall it be?" the Hangwan asked.
"Truly," replied the Choja, "I am desirous to see you show your great skill in riding."
"Then I shall ride," the prince made answer. And presently the horse called Onikage(3) was led out.
That horse was so fierce that he did not seem to be a real horse, but rather a demon or a dragon, so that few dared even to approach him.
But the Prince Hangwan Kane-uji at once loosened the chain by which the horse was fastened, and rode upon him with wondrous ease.
In spite of his fierceness, Onikage found himself obliged to do everything which his rider wished. All present, Yokoyama and the others, could not speak for astonishment.
But soon the Choja, taking and setting up a six-folding screen, asked to see the prince ride his steed upon the upper edge of the screen.
The lord Oguri, consenting, rode upon the top of the screen; and then he rode along the top of an upright shoji frame.
Then a chessboard being set out, he rode upon it, making the horse rightly set his hoof upon the squares of the chessboard as he rode.
And, lastly, he made the steed balance himself upon the frame of an andon(4).
Then Yokoyama was at a loss what to do, and he could only say, bowing low to the prince:
"Truly I am grateful for your entertainment; I am very much delighted."
And the lord Oguri, having attached Onikage to a cherry-tree in the garden, reentered the apartment.
But Saburo, the third son of the house, having persuaded his father to kill the Hangwan with poisoned wine, urged the prince to drink sake with which there had been mingled the venom of a blue centipede and of a blue lizard, and foul water that had long stood in the hollow joint of a bamboo.
And the Hangwan and his followers, not suspecting the wine had been poisoned, drank the whole.
Sad to say, the poison entered into their viscera and their intestines; and all their bones burst asunder by reason of the violence of that poison.
(1) Or, "with all strange flavors of mountain and sea."
(2) The word is really sakana, "fish." It has always been the rule to serve fish with sake; and gradually the word "fish" became used for any entertainment given during the wine-party by guests, such as songs, dances, etc.
(3) Literally, "Demon-deer-hair." The term "deer-hair" refers to color. A less exact translation of the original characters would be "the demon chestnut". Kage, "deer-color" also means "chestnut." A chestnut horse is Kage-no-uma.
(4) A large portable lantern, having a wooden frame and paper sides. There are andon of many forms, some remarkably beautiful.
Their lives passed from them quickly as dew in the morning from the grass.
And Saburo and his father buried their corpses in the moor Uwanogahara.
VI. CAST ADRIFT
The cruel Yokoyama thought that it would not do to suffer his daughter to live, after he had thus killed her husband. Therefore he felt obliged to order his faithful servants, Onio and Oniji, (1) who were brothers, to take her far out into the sea of Sagami, and to drown her there.
And the two brothers, knowing their master was too stony-hearted to be persuaded otherwise, could do nothing but obey. So they went to the unhappy lady, and told her the purpose for which they had been sent.
Terute-Hime was so astonished by her father's cruel decision that at first she thought all this was a dream, from which she earnestly prayed to be awakened.
After a while she said: "Never in my whole life have I knowingly committed any crime.... But whatever happen to my own body, I am more anxious than I can say to learn what became of my husband after he visited my father's house."
"Our master," answered the two brothers, "becoming very angry at learning that you two had been wedded without his lawful permission, poisoned the young prince, according to a plan devised by your brother Saburo."
Then Terute, more and more astonished, invoked, with just cause, a malediction upon her father for his cruelty.
But she was not even allowed time to lament her fate; for Onio and his brother at once removed her garments, and put her naked body into a roll of rush matting.
When this piteous package was carried out of the house at night, the princess and her waiting-maids bade each other their last farewells, with sobs and cries of grief.
(1) Onio, "the king of devils," Oniji, "the next greatest devil."
The brothers Onio and Oniji then rowed far out to sea with their pitiful burden. But when they found themselves alone, then Oniji said to Onio that it were better they should try to save their young mistress.
To this the elder brother at once agreed without difficulty; and both began to think of some plan to save her.
Just at the same time an empty canoe came near them, drifting with the sea-current.
At once the lady was placed in it; and the brothers, exclaiming, "That indeed was a fortunate happening," bade their mistress farewell, and rowed back to their master.
VII. THE LADY YORIHIME
The canoe bearing poor Terute was tossed about by the waves for seven days and seven nights, during which time there was much wind and rain. And at last it was discovered by some fishermen who were fishing near Nawoye.
But they thought that the beautiful woman was certainly the spirit that had caused the long storm of many days; and Terute might have been killed by their oars, had not one of the men of Nawoye taken her under his protection.
Now this man, whose name was Murakimi Dayu, resolved to adopt the princess as his daughter as he had no child of his own to be his heir.
So he took her to his home, and named her Yorihime, and treated her so kindly that his wife grew jealous of the adopted daughter, and therefore was often cruel to her when the husband was absent.
But being still more angered to find that Yorihime would not go away of her own accord, the evil-hearted woman began to devise some means of getting rid of her forever.
Just at that time the ship of a kidnapper happened to cast anchor in the harbor. Needless to say that Yorihime was secretly sold to this dealer in human flesh.
VIII. BECOMING A SERVANT
After this misfortune, the unhappy princess passed from one master to another as many as seventy-five times. Her last purchaser was one Yorodzuya Chobei, well known as the keeper of a large joroya(1) in the province of Mino.
When Terute-Hime was first brought before this new master, she spoke meekly to him, and begged him to excuse her ignorance of all refinements and of deportment. And Chobei then asked her to tell him all about herself, her native place, and her family. But Terute-Hime thought it would not be wise to mention even the name of her native province, lest she might possibly be forced to speak of the poisoning of her husband by her own father.
So she resolved to answer only that she was born in Hitachi; feeling a sad pleasure in saying that she belonged to the same province in which the lord Hangwan, her lover, used to live.
"I was born," she said, "in the province of Hitachi; but I am of too low birth to have a family name. Therefore may I beseech you to bestow some suitable name upon me?"
Then Terute-Hime was named Kohagi of Hitachi, and she was told that she would have to serve her master very faithfully in his business.
But this order she refused to obey, and said that she would perform with pleasure any work given her to do, however mean or hard, but that she would never follow the business of a joro.
"Then," cried Chobei in anger, "your daily tasks shall be these:—
"To feed all the horses, one hundred in number, that are kept in the stables, and to wait upon all other persons in the house when they take their meals.
"To dress the hair of the thirty-six joro belonging to this house, dressing the hair of each in the style that best becomes her; and also to fill seven boxes with threads of twisted hemp.
"Also to make the fire daily in seven furnaces, and to draw water from a spring in the mountains, half a mile from here."
Terute knew that neither she nor any other being alive could possibly fulfill all the tasks thus laid upon her by this cruel master; and she wept over her misfortune.
But she soon felt that to weep could avail her nothing. So wiping away her tears, she bravely resolved to try what she could do, and then putting on an apron, and tying back her sleeves, she set to work feeding the horses.
The great mercy of the gods cannot be understood; but it is certain that as she fed the first horse, all the others, through divine influence, were fully fed at the same time.
And the same wonderful thing happened when she waited upon the people of the house at mealtime, and when she dressed the hair of the girls, and when she twisted the threads of hemp, and when she went to kindle the fire in the furnaces.
But saddest of all it was to see Terute-Hime bearing the water-buckets upon her shoulders, taking her way to the distant spring to draw water.
And when she saw the reflection of her much-changed face in the water with which she filled her buckets, then indeed she wept very bitterly.
But the sudden remembrance of the cruel Chobei filled her with exceeding fear, and urged her back in haste to her terrible abode.
But soon the master of the joroya began to see that his new servant was no common woman, and to treat her with a great show of kindness.
(1)A house of prostitution.
IX. DRAWING THE CART
And now we shall tell what became of Kane-uji.
The far-famed Yugyo Shonin, of the temple of Fujisawa in Kagami, who traveled constantly in Japan to preach the law of Buddha in all the provinces, chanced to be passing over the moor Uwanogahara.
There he saw many crows and kites flitting about a grave. Drawing nearer, he wondered much to see a nameless thing, seemingly without arms or legs, moving between the pieces of a broken tombstone.
Then he remembered the old tradition, that those who are put to death before having completed the number of years allotted to them in this world reappear or revive in the form called gaki-ami.
And he thought that the shape before him must be one of those unhappy spirits; and the desire arose in his kindly heart to have the monster taken to the hot springs belonging to the temple of Kumano, and thereby enable it to return to its former human state.
So he had a cart made for the gaki-ami, and he placed the nameless shape in it, and fastened to its breast a wooden tablet, inscribed with large characters.
And the words of the inscription were these: "Take pity upon this unfortunate being, and help it upon its journey to the hot springs of the temple of Kumano.
"Those who draw the cart even a little way, by pulling the rope attached to it, will be rewarded with very great good fortune.
"To draw the cart even one step shall be equal in merit to feeding one thousand priests, and to draw it two steps shall be equal in merit to feeding ten thousand priests;
"And to draw it three steps shall be equal in merit to causing any dead relation—father, mother, or husband—to enter upon the way of Buddhahood."
Thus very soon travelers who traveled that way took pity on the formless one: some drew the cart several miles, and, others were kind enough to draw it for many days together.
And so, after much time, the gaki-ami in its cart appeared before the joroya of Yorodzuya Chobei; and Kohagi of Hitachi, seeing it, was greatly moved by the inscription.
Then becoming suddenly desirous to draw the cart if even for one day only, and so to obtain for her dead husband the merit resulting from such work of mercy, she prayed her master to allow her three days' liberty that she might draw the cart.
And she asked this for the sake of her parents; for she dared not speak of her husband, fearing the master might become very angry were he to learn the truth.
Chobei at first refused, declaring in a harsh voice that since she had not obeyed his former commands, she should never be allowed to leave the house, even for a single hour.
But Kohagi said to him: "Lo, master! the hens go to their nests when the weather becomes cold, end the little birds hie to the deep forest. Even so do men in time of misfortune flee to the shelter of benevolence.
"Surely it is because you are known as a kindly man that the gaki-ami rested a while outside the fence of this house.
"Now I shall promise to give up even a life for my master and mistress in case of need, providing you will only grant me three days' freedom now."
So at last the miserly Chobei was persuaded to grant the prayer; and his wife was glad to add even two days more to the time permitted. And Kohagi, thus freed for five days, was so rejoiced that she at once without delay commenced her horrible task.
After having, with much hardship, passed through such places as Fuhanoseki, Musa, Bamba, Samegaye, Ono, and Suenaga-toge, she reached the famed town of Otsu, in the space of three days.
There she knew that she would have to leave the cart, since it would take her two days to return thence to the province of Mino.
On her long way to Otsu, the only pleasing sights and sounds were the beautiful lilies growing wild by the roadside, the voices of the hibari and shijugara(1) and all the birds of spring that sang in the trees, and the songs of the peasant girls who were planting the rice.
But such sights and sounds could please her only a moment; for most of them caused her to dream of other days, and gave her pain by making her recollect the hopeless condition into which she had now fallen.
(1) Hibari, a species of field lark; shijugara, a kind of titmouse.
Though greatly wearied by the hard labor she had undertaken for three whole days, she would not go to an inn. She passed the last night beside the nameless shape, which she would have to leave next day.
"Often have I heard," she thought to herself, "that a gaki-ami is a being belonging to the world of the dead. This one, then, should know something about my dead husband.
"Oh that this gaki-ami had the sense either of hearing or of sight! Then I could question it about Kane-uji, either by word of mouth or in writing."
When day dawned above the neighboring misty mountains, Kohagi went away to get an inkstone and a brush; and she soon returned with these to the place where the cart was.
Then, with the brush, she wrote, below the inscription upon the wooden tablet attached to the breast of the gaki-ami, these words:—
"When you shall have recovered and are able to return to your province, pray call upon Kohagi of Hitachi, a servant of Yorodzuya Chobei of the town of Obaka in the province of Mino.
"For it will give me much joy to see the person for whose sake I obtained with difficulty five days' freedom, three of which I gave to drawing your cart as far as this place."
Then she bade the gaki-ami farewell, and turned back upon her homeward way, although she found it very difficult thus to leave the cart alone.
X. THE REVIVAL
At last the gaki-ami was brought to the hot springs of the famed temple of Kumano Gongen, and, by the aid of those compassionate persons who pitied its state, was daily enabled to experience the healing effects of the bath.
After a single week the effects of the bath caused the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth to reappear; after fourteen days all the limbs had been fully re-formed;
And after one-and-twenty days the nameless shape was completely transformed into the real Oguri-Hangwan Kane-uji, perfect and handsome as he had been in other years.
When this marvelous change had been effected, Kane-uji looked all about him, and wondered much when and how he had been brought to that strange place.
But through the august influence of the god of Kumano things were so ordained that the revived prince could return safely to his home at Nijo in Kyoto, where his parents, the lord Kane-ie and his spouse, welcomed him with great joy.
Then the august Emperor, hearing all that had happened, thought it a wonderful thing that an of his subjects, after having been dead three years, should have thus revived.
And not only did he gladly pardon the fault for which the Hangwan had been banished, but further appointed him to be lord ruler of the three provinces, Hitachi, Sagami, and Mino.
XI. THE INTERVIEW
One day Oguri-Hangwan left his residence to make a journey of inspection through the provinces of which he had been appointed ruler. And reaching Mino, he resolved to visit Kohagi of Hitachi, and to utter his thanks to her for her exceeding goodness.
Therefore he lodged at the house of Yorodzuya, where he was conducted to the finest of all the guest-chambers, which was made beautiful with screens of gold, with Chinese carpets, with Indian hangings, and with other precious things of great cost.
When the lord ordered Kohagi of Hitachi to be summoned to his presence, he was answered that she was only one of the lowest menials, and too dirty to appear before him. But he paid no heed to these words, only commanding that she should come at once, no matter how dirty she might be.
Therefore, much against her will, Kohagi was obliged to appear before the lord, whom she at first beheld through a screen, and saw that he so much like the Hangwan that she was greatly startled.
Oguri then asked her to tell him her real name; but Kohagi refused, saying: "If I may not serve my lord with wine, except on condition of telling my real name, then I can only leave the presence of my lord."
But as she was about to go, the Hangwan called to her: "Nay, stop a little while. I have a good reason to ask your name, because I am in truth that very gaki-ami whom you so kindly drew last year to Otsu in a cart."
And with these words he produced the wooden tablet upon which Kohagi had written.
Then she was greatly moved, and said: "I am very happy to see you thus recovered. And now I shall gladly tell you all my history; hoping only that you, my lord, will tell me something of that ghostly world from which you have come back, and in which my husband, alas, now dwells.
"I was born (it hurts my heart to speak of former times!) the only daughter of Yokoyama Choja, who dwelt in the district of Soba, in the province of Sagami, and my name was Terute-Hime.
"I remember too well, alas! having been wedded, three years ago, to a famous person of rank, whose name was Oguri-Hangwan Kane-uji, who used to live in the province of Hitachi. But my husband was poisoned by my father at the instigation of his own third son, Saburo.
"I myself was condemned by him to be drowned in the sea of Sagami. And I owe my present existence to the faithful servants of my father, Onio and Oniji."
Then the lord Hangwan said, "You see here before you, Terute, your husband, Kane-uji. Although killed together with my followers, I had been destined to live in this world many years longer.
"By the learned priest of Fujisawa temple I was saved, and, being provided with a cart, I was drawn by many kind persons to the hot springs of Kumano, where I was restored to my former health and shape. And now I have been appointed lord ruler of the three provinces, and can have all things that I desire."
Hearing this tale, Terute could scarcely believe it was not all a dream, and she wept for joy. Then she said: "Ah! since last I saw you, what hardships have I not passed through!
"For seven days and seven nights I was tossed about upon the sea in a canoe; then I was in a great danger in the bay of Nawoye, and was saved by a kind man called Murakami Deyu.
"And after that I was sold and bought seventy-five times; and the last time I was brought here, where I have been made to suffer all kinds of hardship only because I refused to become a joro. That is why you now see me in so wretched a condition."
Very angry was Kane-uji to hear of the cruel conduct of the inhuman Chobei, and desired to kill him at once.
But Terute besought her husband to spare the man's life, and so fulfilled the promise she had long before made to Chobei,—that she would give even her own life, if necessary, for her master and mistress, on condition of being allowed five days' freedom to draw the cart of the gaki-ami.