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TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES Accents and diacritical marks have generally been standardised. Where there is a single instance of a word with an accent, and one without, no change has been made to the original (e.g. Shigenari/Shigenari, Uesugi/Uesugi). The letter o with a macron is represented as o[u]. The letter u with a macron is represented as u[u]. The letter e with a macron is represented as e[e]. Kanji and hiragana characters in the original book are shown enclosed in square brackets: for example, [sara]. The italicisation of Japanese words has been standardised. Hyphenation and capitalisation has been standardised. Punctuation and obvious printer's errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the bottom of this document.
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The outline of the map is that found in Volume I. of the Edo Sunago, published Keio 2nd year (1866). The detail of district maps found in the book is worked in, together with that from the sectional map of Edo published Ansei 4th year (1857), and from the Go Edo Zusetsu Shu[u]ran published Kaei 6th year (1853). The map therefore shows in rough outline the state of the city just before the removal of the capital from Kyo[u]to; the distribution of the castes.
The Pre-Tokugawa villages (Eiroku: 1558-1569) indicated on the map found in the "Shu[u]ran" are:—
North and South Shinagawa: Meguro-Motomura: Gin-Mitamura: Mitamura: O[u]nemura: Upper and Lower Shibuya: Harajuku-mura: Kokubunji: Azabu: Kawaza Ichi: O[u]zawa-mura: Imai-mura: Sendagaya: Yamanaka-mura: Ichigaya: Ushigome: Kobiko-mura: Upper and Lower Hirakawa-mura: Ochiya: Sekihon: Ikebukuroya: Tomizaka-mura: Ishibukero-mura: Tanibaragaike: Neruma-mura: Okurikyo[u]: Nakarai-mura: Koishikawa: Zoshigayatsu: O[u]ji: Shimura: Takinogawa: Kinsoboku-mura: Harajuku-mura (II.): Komegome-mura: Taninaka-mura: Shimbori-mura: Mikawajima-mura: Ashigahara-mura: Haratsuka: Ishihama-mura: Senju[u]-mura: Suda-mura: Sumidagawa: Yanagijima: Jujo[u]-mura: Itabashi: Sugamo-mura: Arakawa (river): Kandagawa pool (ike): Kanda-mura: Shibasaki-mura: Shin-Horima-mura: Yushima-mura: Shitaya-mura: Torigoe-mura: Shirosawa-mura: Asakusa-mura: Harai-mura: Some-Ushigome: Ishiwara: Kinoshitagawa: Ubagaike (pool): Negishi-mura: Kinsoki-mura: Kameido-mura (near Ueno): Shinobazu-ike (pool).
From South to North circling by the West. Shinagawa: Mita-mura: Takanawa: Near Imai-mura is a Myo[u]jin shrine, close by the mouth of the present Akabane river.
Ikura: Hibiya: Tsukiji: Tsukuda: Tame-ike (pool): Tsukuda Myo[u]jin: Ota's castle: Sanke-in: Hirakawa-mura: Sakurada-mura: Honju[u]-mura: O[u]tamage-ike: Kametaka-mura. To the East.
77 villages, total.
Pronounce as in Italian, giving vowels full value: ch- as in "church."
TALES OF THE TOKUGAWA II
(THE HAUNTED HOUSE)
RETOLD FROM THE JAPANESE ORIGINALS
JAMES S. DE BENNEVILLE
"Woman's greatest need, The base of all governance, Is governance; Seldom found, And rarely applied."—Seishin
In 1590 A.D. the Ho[u]jo[u] were overthrown at Odawara by the Taiko[u] Hideyoshi, and the provinces once under their sway were intrusted to his second in command, Tokugawa Iyeyasu. This latter, on removing to the castle of Chiyoda near Edo, at first paid main attention to strengthening his position in the military sense. From his fief in To[u]to[u]mi and Suruga he had brought with him a band of noted captains, devoted to his service through years of hardest warfare. He placed them around his castle ward, from East to South in a great sweeping arc of detached fortresses, extending from Shimo[u]sa province to that of Sagami. Koga was the chief stronghold on the North, against what was left of the Uesugi power. The most devoted of his captains, Honda Tadakatsu, was established at Kawagoe. Odawara, under an O[u]kubo, as always, blocked the way from the Hakone and Ashigara passes. In the hands of Iyeyasu and his captains, the formidable garrison here established was not likely to offer opportunity of a second "Odawara conference," during which dalliance with compromise and surrender would bring sudden attack and disaster. At this period there is no sign that in his personal service Prince Iyeyasu made changes from the system common to the great military Houses of the time. The castle ward and attendance always were divided up among the immediate vassals of the lord. The basis was strictly military, not domestic. Even the beautiful kami-shimo (X), or butterfly hempen cloth garb of ceremonial attendance was an obvious reminder of the armour worn in the field.
Great statesman and warrior that he was, the Taiko[u] Hideyoshi must have realised the difficulties confronting his House. The formidable power he had created in the North was no small part of them. On several occasions he sought a quarrel with Iyeyasu; sought to humiliate him in small ways, to lower his prestige and provoke an outbreak. Such was the trifling incident of the lavish donation required of Iyeyasu to the Hachiman shrine at Kamakura. But Hideyoshi, as with Elizabeth of England, looked rather to the balance of cost against result, always with possibility of failure in view. When he died in 1598, and left Tokugawa Iyeyasu practically regent of the land, his expectation can be judged to be, either that the loyal members of the council of regency would at least balance the Tokugawa power for their own sakes, or that the majority of his son Hideyori, then a mere infant, would witness no question of supremacy. In the one event the glory and prestige of his House would stand. In the second case the safety of his posterity would be assured. With his experience, and belief in the over-riding power of Nobunaga and himself, the first was as likely to happen as the second; and the influence of the Toyotomi House was the means necessary to insure to Iyeyasu the position already secured, against the jealousy of the other lords. Time showed that he granted a perspicuity and energy to the members of his council which Iyeyasu alone possessed.
With Sekigahara (1600) the situation was definitely changed. In 1603 Iyeyasu was made Sho[u]gun, and the first steps were to organize the Eastern capital at Edo on an Imperial scale. The modest proportions of the Chiyoda castle of Ho[u]jo[u] times—the present inner keep—had already grown to the outer moat. Around these precincts were thrown the vassals of the Sho[u]gun. The distribution at first was without much method, beyond the establishment of greater lords in close proximity to the person of the Sho[u]gun. This feature was accentuated in the time of the third Sho[u]gun Iyemitsu. Immediately allied Houses and vassals occupied the castle ward between the inner and outer moats, from the Hitotsubashi gate on the North, sweeping East and South to the Hanzo[u] gate on the West. The Nishimaru, or western inclosure of the castle, faced this Hanzo[u] Gomon. From this gate to a line drawn diagonally north eastward from the Kanda-bashi Gomon to the Sujikae Gomon, the section of the circle was devoted to the yashiki (mansions) of the hatamoto or minor lords in immediate vassalage of the Sho[u]gun's service. Kanda, Bancho[u], Ko[u]jimachi (within the outer moat), the larger parts of Asakusa, Shitaya, Hongo[u], Koishikawa, Ushigome (Ichigaya), Yotsuya, Akasaka, Azabu, and Shiba, were occupied by yashiki of hatamoto and daimyo[u]—with an ample proportion of temple land. It would seem that there was little left for commercial Edo. Such was the case. The scattered towns of Kanda, Tayasu, Ko[u]jicho[u], several score of villages on the city outskirts, are found in this quarter. The townsmen's houses were crowded into the made ground between the outer moat of the castle and the yashiki which lined the Sumida River between Shiba and the Edogawa. In 1624 the reclaimed ground extended almost to the present line of the river. The deepening of the beds of the Kanda and Edo Rivers had drained the marshes. The use of the waters of the Kandagawa for the castle moat had made dry land of the large marsh just to the south of the present Ueno district. Thus Hongo[u], in its more particular sense, became a building site.
With elaboration of the outer defences went elaboration of the immediate service on the Sho[u]gun. There was no sudden change. The military forms of the camp stiffened into the etiquette of the palace. The Sho[u]inban or service of the audience chamber, the Ko[u]sho[u]gumi or immediate attendants, these were the most closely attached to the Sho[u]gun's person. To be added to these are the O[u]bangumi or palace guard, the Kojuningumi and the Kachigumi which preceded and surrounded the prince on his outside appearances. These "sections" formed the Go Banshu[u], the honoured bodyguard. In the time of Iyemitsu a sixth kumi or section was formed, to organize the service of the women attendants of the palace, of the oku or private apartments in distinction from the omote or public (men's) apartments, to which the Go Banshu[u] were attached. Given the name of Shinban (New) this kumi was annexed to the Banshu[u]. This aroused instant protest. The then lords of the Go Ban inherited their position through the merits of men who had fought on the bloody fields of war. Now "luck, not service," was to be the condition of deserving. The protest was made in form, and regarded. Iyemitsu gave order that the Shinbangumi retain its name, but without connection with the Banshu[u].
At this point the confusion of terms is to be explained. All through the rule of the first three Sho[u]gun a gradual sifting had been taking place. Into Edo were crowding the daimyo[u] who sought proximity to the great man of the land. Then came the order of compulsory residence, issued by Iyemitsu himself; seconded by the mighty lords of Sendai and Satsuma, who laid hands on sword hilts, and made formal statement that he who balked nourished a treacherous heart. The support of one of them was at least unexpected. The acquiescence of both cut off all opposition. Most of the ground now within the outer moat was devoted to the greater lords in immediate service on the Tokugawa House. The hatamoto were removed to the outer sites in Koishikawa, Ushigome, Yotsuya; to the Bancho[u], the only closer ward they retained; or across the river to Honjo[u] and Fukagawa. Those in immediate service were placed nearest to the palace. From the beginning the favoured residence site had been just outside the Hanzo[u] and Tayasu Gomon, across the inner moat from the palace. Hence the district got the name of Bancho[u]. Go Ban ([go ban]) in popular usage was confused with ([go ban])—"five" instead of "honoured." In course of time the constant removals to this district made it so crowded, its ways so intricate, that one who lived in the Bancho[u] (Ban ward) was not expected to know the locality; a wide departure from the original checker board design on which it had been laid out, and hence the characters [bancho[u]] (Bancho[u]) used at one time. This, however, was when Edo had expanded from its original 808 cho[u] (20200 acres) to 2350 cho[u] (58750 acres). The original Bancho[u] included all the ground of Iidamachi, and extended to the Ko[u]jimachi road. Ko[u]jimachi (the mura or village) was then in the Bancho[u], and known as samurai ko[u]jimachi [ko[u]jimachi] (by-way), not the present [ko[u]ji] (yeast). In the time of the third Sho[u]gun the Bancho[u] was as yet a lonely place—to the west of the city and on its outskirts. The filling in process, under the Government pressure for ground, was just under way. Daimyo[u]-ko[u]ji, between the inner and outer moats, through the heart of which runs the railway spur from Shimbashi to To[u]kyo[u] station, was being created by elimination of the minor lords. At the close of Kwanei (1624 A.D.) all the Daimyo[u]-koji was very solid ground; an achievement of no little note when the distance from the Sumidagawa is considered. At Iyeyasu's advent to Edo the shore line ran close to the inner moat of the castle. The monastery of Zo[u]jo[u]ji then situated close to the site of the present Watagaru gate, was converted by him into the great establishment at Shiba; and placed as close to the waters of the bay as the present Seikenji of Okitsu in Suruga—its fore-bear in the material and ecclesiastical sense.
The same rapid development of the town took place on the eastern side of the river. Honjo[u] and Fukagawa became covered by the yashiki sites, interspersed with the numerous and extensive temple grounds. Iyeyasu was as liberal to the material comforts of his ghostly advisers, as he was strict in their supervision. One fifth of Edo was ecclesiastical. One eighth of it, perhaps, was given over to the needed handicrafts and tradesmen of the Kyo[u]bashi and Nihonbashi wards along the river, with a moiety of central Honjo[u]—and to the fencing rooms. The balance of the city site was covered by the yashiki. Thus matters remained until the Meiji period swept away feudalism, and substituted for the military town the modern capital of a living nation. So much for the Edo with which we have to deal, apart from its strange legends and superstitions, its malevolent and haunting influences, working ill to the invaders, daring to encroach upon the palace itself and attack the beloved of the Sho[u]gun and his heir, only to be quelled by the divine majesty of his look—as expounded in such tangle of verities as the Honjo[u]-Nana-fushigi (seven marvels of Honjo[u]), the Azabu Nana-fushigi, the Fukagawa Nana-fushigi, the Bancho[u] Nana-fushigi, the Okumura Kiroku, the temple scrolls and traditions, and many kindred volumes.
In reference to the Bancho[u]: the stories outlined in the present volume date from the period of the puppet shows and strolling reciters, men who cast these tales into their present lines, thus reducing popular tradition to the form in which it could be used by the ko[u]danshi or lecturers on history, or by those diving into the old tales and scandals connected with the yashiki of Edo town. In the present volume main reliance for the detail has been placed on the following ko[u]dan:—
"The Bancho[u] Nana-fushigi" of Matsubayashi Hakuen.
"The Bancho[u] Sarayashiki" of Momogawa Jo[u]en.
"The Bancho[u] Sarayashiki" of Byo[u]haku Hakuchi, in the "Kwaidan-shu[u]" published by the Hakubunkwan.
"The Bancho[u] Sarayashiki" of Ho[u]gyu[u]sha To[u]ko.
"Yui Sho[u]setsu" of Ko[u]ganei Koshu[u].
These references could be extended. The story of the Sarayashiki figures in most of the collections of wonder tales. The Gidayu of the "Banshu[u] Sarayashiki" by Tamenaga Taro[u]bei and Asada Itcho[u] finds no application. It deals with Himeji in Harima. As for the stories from an esoteric point of view, as illustrations of the period they have a value—to be continued in those more historical, and which deal with the lives and deeds of men of greater note and influence in this early Tokugawa court. The present volume instances the second class of wonder tales referred to in the preface to the Yotsuya Kwaidan.
O[u]marudani, 14th November, 1916.
Map of Edo Facing xii
TALES OF THE EDO BANCHO[U]: WHO AOYAMA SHU[U]ZEN WAS 1
Chapter I. The Chu[u]gen Rokuzo 3
II. The Bakemono Yashiki 17
III. Nakakawachi Shu[u]zen 26
IV. The O'kage Sama 38
V. The Report to the Tono Sama 48
VI. The Shrine of the O'Inari Sama 55
VII. The Luck of Okumura Shu[u]zen 64
VIII. Aoyama Shu[u]zen 76
IX. Shu[u]zen meets Shu[u]zen 84
X. The Meeting of the Gaman Kwai 89
BANCHO[U] SARAYASHIKI: WHAT AOYAMA SHU[U]ZEN BECAME 97
Chapter XI. The Yoshida Goten 99
XII. The Ko[u]jimachi Well 111
XIII. The Sen Himegimi (Princess Sen) 122
XIV. Shu[u]zen Adolescens 130
XV. The God favours Shu[u]zen 142
XVI. The Affair of the Asakusa Kwannon 150
XVII. Emma Dai-O[u] gives Judgment 156
XVIII. Kosaka Jinnai 165
XIX. A Matter of Pedestrianism 171
XX. The Affair of Kishu[u] Ke 179
XXI. If old Acquaintance be forgot 192
XXII. The Shrine of the Jinnai-bashi 201
XXIII. A Winter Session 212
XXIV. The Tiger at the front Gate; the Wolf at the Postern 218
XXV. Chu[u]dayu wins his Suit 229
XXVI. Sampei Dono 236
XXVII. Aoyama wins his Suit 245
XXVIII. The Sarayashiki 251
TALES OF THE EDO BANCHO[U]
WHO AOYAMA SHU[U]ZEN WAS.
THE Chu[u]gen ROKUZO
Rokuzo the chu[u]gen sighed as he faced the long slope leading to the Kudanzaka. Pleasant had been his journey to this point. From his master's yashiki in Ichigaya to the shop of the sandal maker Sukebei in lower Kanda it had been one long and easy descent. Sukebei had gratified Rokuzo with the desired and well established commission or "squeeze." Orders for sandals in the yashiki of a nobleman were no small item. Rokuzo was easily satisfied. Though of a scant thirty years in age he had not the vice of women, the exactions of whom were the prime source of rascality in the sphere of chu[u]gen, as well as in the glittering train of the palace. At the turn of the road ahead Rokuzo could eye the massive walls of the moat, which hid the fortress and seraglio built up by the skilful hands of Kasuga no Tsubone in her earnest efforts to overcome the woman hating propensities of the San-dai-ke, the third prince of the Tokugawa line, Iyemitsu Ko[u]. Rokuzo was a chu[u]gen, servant in attendance on his master Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon, hatamoto or immediate vassal of the commander-in-chief, the Sho[u]gun or real ruler in the land of Nippon since the long past days of Taira Kiyomori.
Rokuzo had no great lady in charge of his domestic arrangements, one whose obsession it was to overcome his dislike of man's natural mate. Nor had he such mate to administer reproof for his decided liking for the sherry-like rice wine called sake. Sukebei had rigidly performed his part in the matter of the "squeeze"; but Rokuzo considered him decidedly stingy in administration of the wine bottle—or bottles. Willingly would he have sacrificed the commission for an amplitude of the wine. But even chu[u]gen had their formulae of courtesy, and such reflection on his host would have been too gross. With a sigh therefore he had set out from the shop of the sandal maker, eyeing the wine shops passed from time to time, but not fortunate enough to chance upon any acquaintance whose services he could call upon in facing him over a glass. Rokuzo had the virtue of not drinking alone.
Kanda village once passed, the yashiki walls hemmed in the highway which ran through a district now one of the busiest quarters of the city. This sloping ground was popularly known as Ichimenhara, to indicate its uniformity of surface. There was not a hint of the great university, the long street of book-stores close packed side by side for blocks. Their site was covered by the waters of the marsh, almost lake, of the Kanda River, then being slowly drained into the castle moats. The top of the hill reached, at what is now South Jimbocho[u], the shops and houses of the one village hereabouts, Tayasu-mura, offered a last chance for diversion. The steep slope of the Kudan hill was now before Rokuzo, and beyond he had to pass through the lonely wood which harboured a temple to the war god Hachiman, and which covered the site of the present Sho[u]konsha or shrine to the spirits of the soldiers killed in Nippon's wars. This road ran through the San-Bancho[u], then a lonely quarter in which stood isolated from each other yashiki of the hatamoto. The district was filling up, under press of the needs of the castle service for space immediately round about. But the process was a slow one, and the district one much suspected by the lower classes.
Rokuzo was not fat. He was short, thick necked, sturdy with a barrel-like roundness, and, owing to his drinking propensities, endowed with legs the thinness of which found the conveyance of the upper massiveness no mean task. Hence he stopped at the foot of the hill to wipe the sweat from his face. He eyed with envy a low caste being, a heimin and labourer. Clad in a breech-clout the fellow swung rapidly down the hill with his load of charcoal balanced at each end of the carrying pole. It was etiquette, not modesty, which confined Rokuzo to the livery of his master. He was compelled to a coat which, light and thin as it was, cut off all the breeze from his muscular shoulders. Well! Up the hill he must get. The rolling down was a matter of the past. The yashiki, the house officer (kyu[u]nin) to whom report was to be made, lay beyond. About to make the start a voice spoke in his ear. Though soft and gentle it would have had no particular attraction for the now thirsty Rokuzo. But apart from thirst Rokuzo was of the thoroughly good natured kind. He was surprised at the beauty of the face on which his eyes rested; still more so at the size of the bundle she was trying to carry, and which plainly was far beyond her strength. The rashness of benevolence overcame the not too energetic Rokuzo. Sigh as he did over the conveyance of his carcass up the steep hill, he sighed still more at thought of this fragile creature attempting to carry such a burden.
She followed his eyes to the bundle. "Alas! Honoured Sir, what is to be done? The furoshiki is far beyond one's poor strength. Though the distance is not great—only to Go Bancho[u]—yet it could as well be a pilgrimage to Ise. Surely the hills of Hakone and Iga are no steeper than this Kudanzaka." She sighed; and apart from a weariness of voice there was a suspicion of moisture in her eyes. The more Rokuzo looked at her, the greater waxed his pity and benevolence. Barely of eighteen years she was a beautiful girl; not a servant, yet not one of the secluded and guarded daughters of a noble House. Perhaps she was the young wife of some soldier, and he was surprised at her being unattended. She noted this, and readily explained the fact. There were purchases yet to make, close by in Tayasu. Here a servant was to be at hand, but wearied by waiting the woman had made off. "To offer a wage, good sir, seems impolite; yet the way being the same deign to grant the favour of your strength." In the petition her face was wreathed in admiring smiles at Rokuzo's fine figure of a man. A light in the eyes, captious and coquettish, the furtive glances at his broad shoulders and stout neck, betrayed him into the indiscretion of volunteering a service promptly accepted. This done, the lady, without losing sight of display of her charm of manner, was all business.
Rokuzo had much to learn, and he was not one to profit much by his lessons. If he was virtuous, he was by nature a very Simple Simon. A greater liking for women might by contact have sharpened wits rather dulled by drinking. As it was, anyone in the yashiki, who wished to shift some unpleasant obligation, found in Rokuzo the one to be impressed by the most specious excuse, and the one whose kindness of heart undertook and carried out the purpose of avoidance by assumption of the task. Instead of concocting some pretext to carry off Sukebei, or one, or all, of his apprentices to the neighbouring street and a grog shop, his inexperience and diffidence had carried him away still thirsty. Instead of bumping into some passing fellow chu[u]gen on the street, and wiping out the insult with wine, he had idled along, leaving to every man his share of the roadway, and to the thirsty with burdens more than their share. Hence this uncongenial company of thirst and a woman. She had halted at a grocer's shop, and his eyes were soon agog at sight of her investments—mushrooms, not of much weight, but in bulk forming almost a mound; the dried sliced gourd called kambyoku, of which she seemed very fond; marrow, to[u]gan (gourd-melon), the new and expensive potato (imo), for money was no object in her purchases. A second shop close by caught her eye. Here were added to the pile the long string beans, doubtless to roast in the pod for an afternoon's amusement and repast, kabocha or squashes, large stalks of daikon (radish) two feet in length, go[u]bo[u] or burdock, and a huge watermelon. The list is too long to quote except for the report of a produce exchange. Indeed it was rather a case of what she did not buy, on a scale to furnish forth a yashiki. Then she made her way to a confection and fruit shop just opposite the scene of her last purchases. Pears were coming into season—weighty in measure and on the stomach. But the lady was not frightened. She bought for yesterday, to-day, and to-morrows, in fruit and cakes of all kinds. Conveyed by the divers attendants her goods lay piled up at the last source of supply. Puzzled, she regarded the huge mass; then took eye measure of the shoulders of Rokuzo. They inspired confidence. She laid a gentle and admiring hand on his massiveness. She looked into his face with enticing smile. There was a silvery little laugh in her voice. Concealing their grins the shop attendants fled to their different haunts. Here they smothered cries and roars of coarse merriment; and one man nearly smothered himself by sticking his head in the brine cask. This chu[u]gen was no servant of the lady. He was a volunteer conveyancer caught by a pretty face. They knew her.
Rokuzo had more than sturdy shoulders. He stuck to his bargain. Plainly something must be done; and the lady did it. In a trice she haled him to a draper's shop. "A five-fold furoshiki—at once." The draper gaped not; he obeyed. The cloth was produced, and his several apprentices were engaged in sewing together one of those square package cloths, so convenient in the conveyance of scattered parcels. It was a portentous product, a very sheet. Obsequiously offered and accepted, the draper watched his customers depart with curious eyes. It was not the first of its kind bought by the lady. He hoped it would not be the last; for his own sake and that of his fellow traders. The money at least was always good. The girl must be popular and rich. A number of chu[u]gen were employed in her service. Never did she bring the same man. Then the purchases were piled into one bundle. At this both Rokuzo and the dispenser of sweets were skilled hands. The lady looked anxiously up and down the road. She tripped into this place and that. Finally she came back to the bundle, looking as if about to cry. Of the servant's return there was no sign. Stolidly the shop-keeper maintained his pose. His shop could not be left to itself; the lady could not wait. Outside was the blazing sun of the sixth month (July), then at its hottest period of the hour of the ape (after 3 P.M.). She looked at Rokuzo. He twisted uneasily.
His good nature yielded again to the caressing glance. "Come! As boy this Rokuzo has carried many a farmer's frame of grass from the mountain to Shibukawa village. Nay; many a sick man has he shouldered on the hills leading to the healing springs of Ikao and Kusatsu." He ran an eye over the bundle. "Ah! A terrific bundle; one to cause fright. There is nothing else to do." He would have liked to measure strength with this truant servant; doubtless a terrific female. The confectioner puffed and blew, with straining, swelling neck. The furoshiki at last was on the shoulders of the unhappy Rokuzo. Fortunately the shops of Nippon have no doors. A most mountainous and monstrous wrestler, a very Daniel Lambert, can be carried forth feet first from such a front. The shop keeper followed the pair with his eyes. He passed his hand over the money. Then he looked again. The lady went lightly up the hill. Puffing and blowing at last Rokuzo was compelled to zig-zag on its steepness. Then she followed after his movements, gently encouraging him with words, and a cheerful pleased giggle that was a very goad in his rear. The grocer crossed to consultation with the baker. "Bah! He has a ring in his nose." Said the man of confections—"He is Rokuzo, chu[u]gen of Endo[u] Sama. But the other day it was Isuke, chu[u]gen of Okumura Sama, who did her service. And so with others. Truly entertainment at Yoshiwara costs less effort and wage. These cats are all one colour in the dark." The philosophic and cynical shop-keepers, each departed to his own place, arguing more shrewdness in a chu[u]gen, and the greater freedom, if less honour, implied in the gains and amusements of the townsman. Again and again the baker inspected his coin. There were still houses for women in the Ko[u]jimachi road. This satisfied his doubts.
Encouraged by the lady Rokuzo reached the top of the Kudan hill. In all his experience of burden bearing never before had he shouldered the like. It seemed at times as if the lady herself had floated up on its broad surface, to deposit a weight far beyond her appearance. Perhaps she did; for Rokuzo, blinded by the pouring sweat, hardly knew what occurred. From time to time the sweet voice gave direction. Skirting the castle moat she led him up the short slope of the Gomizaka. A fitting name, thought Rokuzo. There were more than "five flavours" on his back, without counting the nasty taste in a very dry mouth. His journey was almost at an end. At least he had so determined, when suddenly the destination was reached. The lady knocked at the side door of a splendid gate set in a long stretch of wall. So much Rokuzo could see through the damp stream from his brow; and that the surroundings were very rural. A rattling of the bar and he turned eagerly to the gate. Its opening gave a vision of beauty. Clean swept was the ground beneath the splendid pine trees; graceful the curves of the roofs of the villa seen beyond; and still more beautiful, and little more mature than his companion, was the figure of the girl framed in the doorway.
Forgetful of his burden Rokuzo gaged. Forgetful of etiquette the girl stared. She scanned Rokuzo from head to foot. The squat and sturdy figure of the man, in combination with the huge burden, turned him into some new and useful kind of beast. Astonishment passed into a smile; the smile into a mad burst of laughter in which the other girl more discreetly joined. "Ne[e]san (elder sister) the hour is late, but to-day the opportunity of assistance was slow to appear. With such sturdy support it was thought well to make ample provision."—"Provision indeed! Merry will be the feast. Truly sister, great has been the good fortune. Honoured Sir, deign to furnish forth the entertainment." Again came the merry peal, this time from both the girls. Rokuzo hardly appreciated such reward of his efforts. He had a strong suspicion that this merriment was directed at him; that the courtesy and gentle voices were on the surface. There was a snappy nasal sneering ring in the laughter, most unpleasant and savouring of derision. However there was certain to be something at the end of the task. Why neglect to take the reward now close to hand? He passed through the large gate, opened by the elder maiden to admit the size of his burden. Under her guidance he struggled along past the corner of the house and into the more removed privacy. Of this he could note the carefully kept inner garden, the massive old well curb standing in its centre, and the scent and strange beauty of the flowering plants. Attention was attracted by the conduct of his three employers; for another and older girl now made her appearance at the ro[u]ka (verandah). She too gave the same short sharp exclamation of amusement at the sight of the porter and his portentous load. She leaped down quickly from the verandah and ran up to peer into his face. Then she went off into the same mad peal of laughter, in which she was joined without stint by her sisters.
Rokuzo was now angry beyond measure; yet as a man and good natured he found it difficult of expression with such beautiful women. All the terms of revilement came to his lips—rude rascals (burei na yatsu), scoundrels (berabo[u]me), vile beasts (chikusho[u]me). These were freely loaded on himself in time of displeasure of master or fellows. But somehow now they stayed in his throat. "Rude"—yes; "rascals"—yes. These words reached to a murmur. But the crowning insult of calling these beautiful women "beasts" stuck in his gorge and he nearly choked. Said the oldest girl—and she was not over twenty years—"Sister, you are wearied by the heat and your efforts. Deign to enter the bath. All is ready. Come! We will enter it together." Hand in hand the three were about to depart. Rokuzo found speech. He stuttered in his indignation—"Honoured ladies! Heigh there! This bundle—how now? Truly it is as if this Rokuzo had been carrying a child. His back is wet through. It is very unpleasant. Where is the package to be bestowed? Deign to indicate." At the sharpness of his tone the elder girl turned in surprise. His anger dropped before the attraction of smile and address. Truly these creatures had attention but for the passing moment. "Ah! In joy at the sister's return the burden and its bearer have been completely forgotten. This is to be very rude. Are! Honoured Sir, you are melting away with heat. Place the burden here. At the well yonder is water. Deign to wipe off the sweat which pours from your honoured person."
At once with more than relief he deposited the huge package on the ro[u]ka. Pending its disposition Rokuzo devoted himself to his ablutions with decent slowness, to allow the idea of remuneration to filter into the somewhat fat wits of these ladies. At first he was inclined thoroughly to sluice himself inwardly. The water was deliciously cool to the outer person on this hot day. But on approaching the bucket to his mouth there was an indefinable nauseating something about it that made him hesitate. Again he tried to drink. Decidedly it was bad, this water; offensive for drinking. With a sigh he diverted the stream from his gullet to his shoulders. So pleased was Rokuzo with the experience that he repeated it again and again from the inexhaustible coolness of the well. Then with his head towel he began to wipe the nudity of his person, taking in at leisure his surroundings as he did so. Oya! Oya! It was indeed an extraordinarily beautiful place, this which he had entered. The care lavished upon plants and ornamentation was carried to extravagance. The eyes of Rokuzo opened wider and wider. Here was a splendid cherry tree in the full magnificence of its bloom. The square of this inner garden was completed by half a dozen plum trees laden with the scented blossoms, although the fruit hung heavy from the branches. At the opposite corner the polished red of the ripe persimmons made the mouth water. Beyond these trees and the house was a large and splendid bed of iris, the curious and variegated bloom counterfeiting some patterned screen. From the ro[u]ka extended a wide trellis heavy with the blossoms of the wisteria. Lotus was in flower in the pond. Wherever he turned his eyes the affection of these ladies for colour and scent showed itself. Jinjo[u]ki, hibiscus, pyrus spectabilis, chrysanthemum, peonies, ayame or the early iris, all were in mad bloom to please the eye. With growing fright Rokuzo gazed from side to side. What could be the social condition of these women, thus treated so familiarly by a mere chu[u]gen? The gardener surely was an extraordinary genius, such as would serve none but the truly great. This was a suspicious place.
These thoughts were interrupted. Abruptly he approached the part of the house that seemed a sort of kitchen. The huge bundle had disappeared. The elder sister showed herself. The two younger girls held back diffidently in the rear. All showed amusement, but the freshness of the bath had wrought a change in manner, and made them still more lovely than before. Said the elder—"Thanks are due for the kindness shown. Though ashamed, deign to accept this trifling acknowledgment as porter's wage." She held out to Rokuzo a hana-furi-kin. This gold coin, worth a bu (the quarter of a ryo[u]) was an extravagant fee. Somewhat strange withal; struck off in the Taiko[u]'s day the savour of disloyalty was compensated by the "raining flowers" stamped in the gold. Rokuzo was still more frightened. Ladies of course were ignorant of values. Plainly these were ladies, of but little contact with the world. As an honest and somewhat simple fellow he would have refused the over-payment. But he was not eloquent in explanation, and the acceptance meant the speedier departure. Prostrate with extended hands he gave thanks. Then he thrust the coin into his bosom and rose in good earnest to depart. Here follows the fall of Rokuzo from the grace of good behaviour.
On her way to a room at the end of the garden passed the youngest of the sisters. She was bearing a tray, the burden of which was sake bottles. In the other hand was the heating apparatus, flask included. Rokuzo's nostrils opened wide at the delicious perfume. He stood stock still. As in some surprise the elder sister regarded him. Thereupon the wine bearer halted, in her pose holding the grateful steam directly under his nose. Said the first girl—"Is the wage insufficient? If so...." Rokuzo's nostrils twitched. The younger sister stopped a movement as of further bestowal. "Ah! This honoured Sir can carry more than burdens." She broke into a merry laugh. Said the sister—"Is that so? The sake is object of desire." Beauty was now enhanced a thousand times by the benevolence of their demeanor. With tongue at last eloquent—"Ah, ladies! This Rokuzo is dying of thirst. The well here offers no means to quench it. But for the honoured encounter at Kudanzaka long since would the company at the wine shop of Ichigaya have been sought. For reward deign wine rather than coin." He made a movement as if to restore the gold, but the elder girl stopped him. "So then, Rokuzo likes wine. He shall have both wine and coin, and entertainment in addition." With the request from him their manner had changed. It was now more sedate and purposeful. Rokuzo hardly understood the further course of his experiences. Emerged from the bath he found himself seated before a plentiful repast. The viand contents of the monumental burden together with what sea and hill could provide—these figured. Rokuzo drank first, and plentifully. Never had he tasted such delicious wine. He knew that the Tono Sama drank no better sake; nor did his master occupy a more splendid apartment than this one of the wine feast. The silken figured fusuma (screens), the fretwork crowning them, the many lamps—it was now dark—in bronze and precious metals, dazzled his small understanding.
The women acted as attendants. Rokuzo sat long, now thoroughly fuddled. He listened to an orchestral theme, interpreted by koto, fue, biwa, or the taiko (drum). Perhaps there were better voices. Even in their singing the three girls had that sharp, derisive, unpleasant, nasal twang. But Rokuzo was past criticism. To their questioning he told who and what he was; a chu[u]gen in the service of his lord, Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon, hatamoto in the land, and now in office at the fireward of the palace. Had he a wife? A chu[u]gen is not one to have a wife. At this all the women seemed very pleased. They exchanged glances.
The elder girl now came close to him. She nestled by his side and took his arm, looking coquettishly and smilingly into his face. "Rokuzo Dono has done much for three lonely women. Will he not do more? Why not remain as now, perform the tasks of this house? Does not the change of masters attract?" Rokuzo's latest remembrance of encounter with the honoured house officer (kyu[u]nin) of his master was the six days turn in the yashiki prison, on very scant fare. His face was long at the thought. He was very remiss on this present occasion. What would happen? In the haze of his wine the voice of the girl continued. Her face was very close as she pressed on him. "Rokuzo Dono, deign to serve this house, meet its difficulties." For a moment Rokuzo broke the spell. "Difficulties? Of luxurious living and a splendid home? Such 'difficulties' make one laugh."—"Yet there are real difficulties. Three women—they have their difficulties. Be the man of the house; the man in the house. Condescend the favour." Restraint was thrown off. She held him in her arms and drew him close. Rokuzo's brain was in a whirl. Women? Women? Ah! The wine! His lips eagerly sought the cup she held to them. When she rose he allowed her gentle persuasion. The two other girls busied themselves in the preparations for the night. They whispered to each other; and there seemed to be some ground of division, but the elder had her way. She and Rokuzo were left alone.
If Rokuzo sought solace in the arms of his mistress he certainly failed to find it. Never had such a nightmare descended on his slumbers. Through the night he was battling with most fearful visions, seeking to avoid tortures of hell. He had pursued his beauty into some huge cave. Now possession was secure. From this there was no escape. But it was no escape for Rokuzo. Now she turned into a huge obscene object, a very rokurokubi, one of those hideous monsters with lengthy neck, gleaming teeth, and distorted human-like face. Again there was change. He lay supine and helpless; and extended full length over him was a fox of portentous size. The sharp, yelping, nasal voice sounded in his ears. "Coin, wine, then lechery: Rokuzo would drink, then play the beast. The porter's wage is insufficient. Now let him pay the beast's wage." The sharp gleaming teeth were at his throat. The foul breath filled his lungs. Rokuzo struggled for air, shouted for an aid not at hand. "Drunkard; lecher." By a final effort he would free himself from the succubus—"Liar!... Namu Amida Butsu! Namu Amida Butsu! Holy the Lord Buddha!"
A heavy chill went through his body, shaking him from head to foot. He opened his eyes. In amazement he looked around him. The magnificent apartment, the women, the garden, the feast, nothing remained of his night's experience. It was the chill of early dawn, and he was lying on the bare ground, in the midst of a wild grass grown and deserted moor. A tree root was his pillow. He rose to find the waters of the Kanda marsh under his eyes. He was still on the Ichimenhara. The Kudanzaka was yet to be climbed. Ah! He had been foxed, bewitched by reynard or tanuki (badger). Then remembrance of the hana-furi-kin came to mind. Here would be proof. He thrust a hand into his bosom—to draw out the leaf of a tree. There was no doubt about it. And the banquet? At the very thought of the viands Rokuzo squirmed. He made a gesture of nausea and disgust. The sake—was excrement. The food—worse yet. He felt very ill.
His aching limbs and heavy head accompanied him to his lord's yashiki in Ichigaya. Rokuzo took to his bed. At the porter's lodge the kyu[u]nin, Naito[u] Kyu[u]saburo[u], inspected the tickets of the chu[u]gen. At last Rokuzo had made his appearance; and had made no report. He was not long in reaching the chu[u]gen's bedside. With severe face he questioned him as to his absence and neglect. "Gluttonous fellow! Something eaten is the cause of the sickness. Rascal that you are, a good purge is the thing. Then a fast in the jail will restore the stomach. This the punishment, if great your good luck. Otherwise—it will be the garden front. Report is to be made." He turned to go. Rokuzo detained him. He spoke with timidity, but under spur of the greater retribution. He admitted his fault. "But...."—"But what?" impatiently interjected Naito[u]. "Is not the food furnished by his lordship ample supply for the belly? Does a chu[u]gen question his lord's generosity? What banquet tempted this rascal...?"—"Indeed it was a banquet." Rokuzo went into details. Kyu[u]saburo[u]'s rage increased. "You are lying. Or does illness follow food partaken in a dream? Perhaps the rascal Sukebei has not been paid. Is Rokuzo a thief?" Rokuzo groaned in pain and discomfiture. He would make a clean breast of it; confess to more than mere food. And he did. "Nor is Rokuzo the only victim. Isuke, chu[u]gen of Okumura Sama of the Bancho[u], nearly lost his life. Others have been trapped; and others knew enough to refuse service and run away. Truly this Rokuzo is a fool. Condescend the honoured intercession. Ah, that banquet!" He shuddered at the thoughts aroused. At sight of the receipt of Sukebei perforce Naito[u] Kyu[u]saburo[u] believed. He pitied Rokuzo, administered the stoutest purges in his pharmacy, and left him somewhat relieved in mind and body. The tale was soon known all over the yashiki—to the profit of all and the amusement of most. With gleeful malice Rokuzo would be asked to describe his meal, the superlative flavour of the wine, for past fact and present fancy became strangely mixed in his recital. Thus, through the report of the kyu[u]nin, Naito[u] Kyu[u]saburo[u], the experience of his chu[u]gen Rokuzo came to the ears of Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon, hatamoto of the land, of four hundred koku income, and officer in charge of the Hiban or fire-ward at the Ushigome gate.
THE Bakemono Yashiki
Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon heard the report of his officer. A slight frown puckered his brow, and he contemplated the big toe of his immaculately white tabi (sock). "A vexatious matter! Hatamoto of the land, official duty gives occupation enough. Yet for such things to take place, and so close to the person of the suzerain, this is not to be permitted. Beyond his love for wine Rokuzo has shown himself trustworthy. He is not lying?" Kyu[u]saburo[u] bowed low—"As your lordship says. Of his illness there is no question; and that not merely from a drunken debauch. Rokuzo is not one to be tempted by women; and to those beyond his station he dares not raise his eyes. It was the wine which tempted him beyond discretion. He has tried all patience, been most disloyal. The honoured dismissal or severe punishment at the least is his due. The Tono Sama summoning him to the garden front, and deigning the kindness of putting him to death (te-uchi) ... yet...." Hesitating he brought out the once hana-furi-kin, wage of the unfortunate Rokuzo, now in such danger of drastic remedy for his aching head. Respectfully pushing forward a knee the kyu[u]nin presented it to his lord. Saburo[u]zaemon examined it with much curiosity. "And this?"—"The wage for his porter's work," answered the officer, his face respectfully wrinkled with the trace of a smile. "Though one could say from his exhaustion that he received other favour than coin. The very thought of his filthy repast drives the rascal to most fearful retchings. He is in a parlous way, and if your lordship deign forbearance...."—"Heigh!" He was interrupted by the exclamation of Saburo[u]zaemon, now examining the leaf most intently. "I say now! An oak leaf, the broad reminder of the kiri (paulownia imperialis), such might come from last year's fall. This leaf never sprang from Nippon's soil."—"Just so," replied the kyu[u]nin. "Hence petition for delay in administering punishment."—"And of course the fellow is useless. Ill, and besides he knows not whither he went, and came to himself on the Ichimenhara."—"Yet, while still in his five senses, he recognized Go Bancho[u]; and it is fact that the chu[u]gen of Okumura Dono suffered likewise in the Bancho[u]."—"Of Kakunai and the strange horse this Saburo[u]zaemon has heard. And the other man?"—"One Isuke, a stout fellow, but in good fortune the twin brother of this rascal Rokuzo."
Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon rose to his feet with an elasticity and snap denoting decision. His wife standing close by laid hand upon his arm. He turned to meet her frightened questioning look. He spoke reassuringly. "Don't be afraid. Such things so near the suzerain's honoured dwelling are not to be permitted. This Saburo[u]zaemon goes to learn the facts as to this suspicious house. The samurai has no fear of apparitions; and less of thieves, as is likely to be the case. Let the rascals look to themselves if they would avoid the taste of Saburo[u]zaemon's sword. Kyu[u]saburo[u] is to see that the Yashiki is well guarded. To-night O[u]kubo Hikoroku Dono holds the fire ward. The occasion fits." At once he was busied with his preparations for out door service. His wife, granddaughter of old Nagasaki Chiyari Kuro[u]—he of the "bloody spear"—was the samurai woman, to aid her lord in his duty, not to hold him back with tears and plaints. The pair were admirable specimens of their caste. Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon's grand-father had been a retainer of that hard hitting Asai Nagamasa who had to bow the head before the sword of Hideyoshi. The son Kiemon perforce had served the Taiko[u], and well. It was with more than readiness that he had appeared in the army of the Tokugawa at Sekigahara, to be killed in all loyalty before O[u]saka in Genwa 1st year (1618). Saburo[u]zaemon was then but five years old. But the early Tokugawa did not forget loyal service. When of age he was summoned to Edo from his native province of O[u]mi, given duty in the palace service, to become with years a hatamato with income of four hundred koku and a yashiki in Ichigaya, just beyond the Gomon or great gate at the outer moat.
In the present matter night must be awaited. When the bell of the Gekkeiji, the huge temple of the district, struck the watch of the pig (9-11 P.M.) Endo[u] prepared to set forth. "In case of necessity ask the aid of Hikoroku Dono, of Juro[u]zaemon." This to his wife. "At least one attendant? Kyu[u]saburo[u] is old enough to know that these rascals never deal with more than one human." This to the old kyu[u]nin, who with anxiety watched him depart into the darkness. With a sigh the officer shut fast the outer gate. Then, sword over his knees, he squatted himself at the house entrance, to slumber and await his lord's return.
As officer of the fire ward Saburo[u]zaemon met with little difficulty in passing the Ichigaya gate, beyond which lay the suspected district of the Bancho[u]. To the sharp hail and protest at his appearance without a lantern he sought the service of those of the guard. Surprise and abject apology followed the bringing of face and equipment into their light. As on urgent mission to the palace he explained the one and disregarded the other. For form he borrowed a lantern at the guard house, to leave it in a hedge close by, to hand for his return if in the darkness. Straight ahead he walked for some distance. Now he was in the very centre of the Bancho[u]. It was a most lonely place. The district had been set apart for the yashiki of hatamoto and the houses of gokenin who showed no haste to apply for its ample space. Its highways and byways showed lines of bamboo fences, plaster walls, broken at intervals by gates. Between the far yashiki there was much waste land. Suspicious were its precincts in these days when the haunting spirits and apparitions, attendant on once owners and their wars, were being driven out by the advent and aggression of the new lords from the South. Still fresh in men's minds was the wondrous mami-ana of Azabu—the cave of the tanuki (badger)—with the implied curse on the Tokugawa. The cohorts of apparitions, driven northward to the land of savages, had suffered severely at the hands of Ii Naomasa on the banks of the Ueno Toshima ferry. Thus the curse came down the centuries on the Tokugawa House.
Once in the heart of the district Saburo[u]zaemon stood uncertain. All sense of locality was lost. The Bancho[u] by day and by night greatly differed. The wind sighed through the great pine trees and whispered in the long suzuki grass. He thought to reach the neighbourhood of the Gomizaka. The noise and bustle of the Ko[u]jimachi would give direction. Just then a lantern came in sight at the turning in the lane. As it drew near it was seen that to all appearance the bearer was a chu[u]gen. Endo[u] drew back into the shadow. He would take a good look at him. He allowed the man to pass. Then from behind—"Heigh! Wait!" Instead of waiting the fellow took to his heels. Endo[u] pursued and soon caught him. In terror the fellow sank on his knees before the two sworded man. "Deign, honoured sir, to spare the cutting test. This Isuke is yet young. He loves life. Condescend not to cut short his breath." Saburo[u]zaemon was struck by the name fresh to his ears. Coldly he looked the man over; played on his terror—"Yet you are fat; just of the girth to give fair test to a new blade."—"Nay! Your lordship can deign to observe it. Isuke is stuffed out with a recent meal. It would be but a case of tripes. His bones are young and soft, his muscles wasted by mere feeding. It would be as cutting to[u]fu (bean paste). Deign to spare him."
Said Saburo[u]zaemon. "'Tis no cutting test. Thus passing carelessly at the side that fat paunch was an easy mark. Be more careful henceforth.... You live hereabouts?"—"Honoured Sir, 'tis so. Isuke is chu[u]gen at the yashiki of Okumura Sama."—"Ah! Then you know the haunted house (bakemono yashiki) of the Bancho[u]."—"Just beyond? Isuke knows it too well."—"Life spared, act as guide thither." The man's knees bent under him. He plead for forbearance. Plainly he must die. Only to this dreadful sentence and sight of Endo[u]'s sword did he yield. Reluctantly he went ahead of the samurai, as far as a gate the massiveness of which attracted attention. Saburo[u]zaemon looked it over, then carefully considered his guide. He held out a coin. The fellow respectfully drew back. Said Endo[u] with impatience—"As lord of this mansion the money of guidance is offered. Accept it without question. Here lies my purpose." This was but addition to obvious terror. With wabbling knees the fellow persisted in refusal. "Honoured lord, deign forbearance. Already has this Isuke accepted entertainment here, with fearful results; nearly quaffing the waters of the Yellow Fountain in Meido." Said Saburo[u]zaemon sourly—"What has the purpose to do with a low fellow's entertainment? Take the coin, and be off with you. Darkness acts as screen." The man did but whimper, "With purpose in hand: truly darkness the screen, upside down; the balsam an incense, the sticks to hand in the clay dishes. This? 'Twill turn out but the leaf of a tree, to bring sorrow on Isuke. Your lordship has said it."—"It is good coin," replied Endo[u] briefly. Then with some curiosity—"But what has a tree leaf to do with purpose?"—"Pine leaves denote purpose, and are so named."—"A clever fellow after all! No wonder he escaped.... But be off with you. The coin shall ring true with daylight. So much is promised on the word of a samurai. Fear the living man, not the inanimate object; and say nothing of meeting the donor. Otherwise Isuke ends badly. Now—off with you!" The voice was very human, the peremptory gesture surely that of a two sworded man. The chu[u]gen took confidence in the fact that he could not help himself. Whatever doubts he possessed, these he kept with the coin in his bosom. With scant thanks cut short by fear he obeyed the order to depart into the shades. Gathering impetus with distance he fairly took to his heels.
Saburo[u]zaemon waited for the lantern to disappear. Then he turned to inspect the gate. There was no entrance through its solidity. It was a yashiki mon, almost house, with two posterns. He must get a look within. A long high plaster wall ran on both sides into the distance. The moonlight, flooding the scene, showed him a breach opened by long neglect. Once within he felt convinced that he was on the scene of Rokuzo's experience. But the pine grove was anything but swept clean. Branches torn off by storm and wind, fallen trees, lay scattered everywhere. It was a very winding course which took him to the eaves of the building some distance off. Plainly the once occupant had been a person of position, perhaps a minor daimyo[u]. At the corner of the structure he found himself in the garden more particularly attached to the house. An exclamation of regret at sight of such desolation came to the lips of Saburo[u]zaemon. A master hand had laid out this beautiful piece of work; but trees and plants, no longer trained and trimmed by man's hand, had run wild. In the centre was a wide well curb rising some three feet from the ground. A single stone step allowed easier access for those drawing water. The well-sweep had rotted off and lay upon the ground. There was no bucket. Saburo[u]zaemon leaned over. From the still surface of the water came an indefinable putrescent odour, perhaps from the decaying plants, or refuse blown into the depths. He drew away, disgusted and convinced. Carefully he made the round of this pleasaunce. At the bottom of the garden near the confines of the well, was an artificial mound—a tsukiyama or moon viewing hill. Before this was a little lake, for fish and lotus, of perhaps a couple of hundred feet in length by narrow width. In places he could jump across it; and elsewhere stepping stones offered passage. An Inari shrine in a plum grove offered no particular interest, beyond recent inclosure showing a neighbour's hand. There was swampy ground for the shobu or iris and beds of peony plants. In front of the line of towering pines was a row of Yoshino cherry trees, all broken and neglected. The one time owner had loved flowers. Endo[u] turned to the house.
The moon was pouring full on the closed amado (rain doors), its cold silver globe lighting up the scene. "Solitary is the moon of winter glorious that of autumn." This was the tranquil moon of summer, pacifying yet saddening men's hearts, as does all moonlight. It was plain there was no entrance on this side of the house, unless unseemly force was used. This was unnecessary. Endo[u] noticed the lattice work of the bath-room. A few strokes of his dagger, and the frame was lifted out. Then it was easy to draw back the heavy wooden panels and allow the moonlight to flood these exposed chambers. Carefully he scanned his immediate surroundings. The paper of the sho[u]ji was torn and eaten by the rats. In places the frayed tatami (mats) bent under his feet, evidence of decay of the supporting floor. There was the mouldy damp smell common to places long closed to the freedom of the outer air. It sent a chill to the bone; which Endo[u] noted with surprise as he turned to the dark inner rooms. He must have some kind of light. Almost the first step into the semi-obscurity offered the means to hand. Stumbling over an object at his feet he picked up a staff. On examination it proved to be one of those kongo canes, the support to feet and belly of the devout in their long pilgrimages, sign manual of the pious intent of the bearer. He had taken a candle from his pocket, and, with small respect to the "six worlds" of its rings, used the spiked end to improvise a torch. Then an unexpected voice caught his ear; a sad, wailing cry which chilled the heart. Then followed low, rapid, disorderly speech, the meaning of which rendered indistinct by distance could not be made out. Then came the unearthly startling shriek which rang through the whole mansion.
Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon now had his torch fastened and blazing. Loosing his sword in the scabbard promptly he set forth into the darkness beyond. The candle cast a feeble light, making the darkness still more apparent. However, he could see the splendour of these once inhabited rooms. Screens worked in silk were dirty and frayed, but they were by master hands, and still showed the outlines of beautiful designing. The rama-sho[u]ji—the fret work between the rooms—was broken in places, yet it displayed the erratic course of Nature's handiwork, the most bizarre and effective of all. And always just before him went the shuffling drag of sandals—as of some one on the ro[u]ka, further on, at the room beyond. He sprang forward in haste, to fling back the closed screens, but still the object eluded him; always there, yet never seen. Thus it led him from room to room—reception rooms, sitting rooms, the women's apartments; all gorgeous, all unfurnished, not a single object of the value to tempt stray visitor or intentional thief. Even the kitchen was stripped bare of equipment. Not even the stones to support the furnace had been left. Thieves, or others, had long since accounted for all movables.
Dumbfounded Saburo[u]zaemon stood at the foot of the stairway. Patter, patter the footsteps had led him to this point. The width was coated thickly with dust, swept by breezes from without, and from the disintegrating plaster (kabe) walls. The webs of spiders were woven across it; across the aperture. Yet—again came the wild sounds of riot above. This time the voices were distinct and close at hand. A woman was struggling, pleading under torture. "Alas! Alas! Deign to show pity. What has been the offence, thus to inflict punishment. Condescend the honoured pity. Ah! Pardon there is none. The child is consigned from the darkness of the womb to the darkness of death. Alas! Most harsh and unkind! How avoid the eternal grudge? Unending the hate of...." The voice, like to the sharp rending of silk, ended in the fearful shriek, chilling, heart rending, paralysing even the stout heart of Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon. "Ki-i-i!" There followed the ineffectual gurgling wailing cries of one struggling for breath. Drawn sword in hand Saburo[u]zaemon sprang up the stairway. Nothing! The amado thrown back in haste light enough was given to show the emptiness of the room. Still the voice was heard. He passed beyond. As before—nothing; except the voice, now plain, as at his very side.
Saburo[u]zaemon was now assured of some witchery. "This is Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon Takekiyo, hatamoto of the land. Whoever, or whatever, be present, assume the proper shape. Fox or tanuki (badger), strip off all disguise; stand to the test of Saburo[u]zaemon's blade." But the sad wailing voice made answer—"Unkind the words of Endo[u] Sama. This is no trick of fox or badger. Meeting an untimely end, the Spirit now wanders as an unworshipped demon; as one deprived of all honour in the grave. Brave has been the deed of Endo[u] Dono. Others have come; to depart in fright. He alone stays to challenge. For so much, thanks. Deign worship to my spirit, the security of rest from its wanderings." Saburo[u]zaemon in amazement looked around. The voice was clearly heard, and close to him; yet naught was to be seen. "Whoever you be, if wronged the sword of Saburo[u]zaemon is here to avenge the wrong. If in life, the perpetrator shall pay the penalty of the misdeed; yourself shall secure worship. Such is the office of a bushi—to aid the helpless. But cannot the shape be seen? Why this concealment from the eyes of Saburo[u]zaemon?" And the voice made answer—"Has Endo[u] Sama no eyes? Concentrate the thoughts. Here! Here!" Carefully and long Saburo[u]zaemon scrutinized every spot. Following the voice he sought to get nearer and nearer. Thus he was brought right before the tokonoma (alcove). For a moment he shielded his eyes with his hands, then boldly removed the screen and faced the spectre in the plaster. At first faint, then more strongly outlined was the vision of a young girl. At one time the face perhaps had had great beauty. Now there was a weird expression of life amid the wasting and decay of death. The living eyes gleamed a deadly hate and distress which showed the torment of the spirit. Framed in the wild disordered masses of long black hair the face of the apparition sought to plunge its own unhappiness into the soul of its visitor. It was a strange vision; one to rouse the desire for the beautiful woman in man's heart, the wish to shield; together with repulsion toward the most evil passions of a malice which inspires fear. Long and steadily the man gazed; the woman answered the challenge. Then again Endo[u] was the samurai. "On with the tale. To the wronged Endo[u] Saburo[u]zaemon gives right and worship. A samurai, he has passed his word, not to be broken." He would have taken seat before the alcove. Said the voice—"Honoured Sir, the tale is long. On the ro[u]ka without is a stool. The tatami are dangerous with the wet. Later deign the honoured hearing." With surprise Endo[u] followed these household directions. At the room close by he found the object indicated. Here met his eye a sign unmistakeable. In the very centre of the tatami was a huge red-brownish stain; by the verandah a second stain; at the further entrance a third of kindred character. Plainly the tale he would hear was of no peaceful exit from life. To the tragedy of death had been added violence. Thus fortified he returned, to take his seat before the vision in the alcove; steadily, with the harsh official manner of his caste, to meet the evil, strangely seductive, malice of its look and suggestion. Then it spoke:
Honoured sir, long past the source of this offence. It was the fourteenth year of Kwanei (1637). As now, the summer heat was stifling. To seek relief this Shimo had left the house, to stroll the neighbourhood close by. Thus idly engaged, listening to the song of the suzumushi, watching the fireflies flitting over the tops of the suzuki grass, and bending to cull a few lilies to arrange in the hanaike, the presence of a stranger was felt. Ah! He was indeed a handsome man. Not too young to seem a callow youth to the eyes of Shimo's sixteen years; not too old to look on her merely as one of different sex. Indeed he was not yet thirty years, a soldier, carrying his two swords and his person most nobly. At very sight of him Shimo was carried into the gust of the love passion. Her cheeks were "dashed with the maple leaf, her heart swelled as the noon-tide." Her confusion did not escape the notice of one already surprised at sight of a girl so young strolling alone on the byways of the Bancho[u]. At once he spoke, with the confidence of one who has the right to question—"And who may this little beauty be, unaccompanied, with night so close at hand? The Bancho[u] is said to be no safe place with coming of darkness. If on some mission and belated, this Shu[u]zen will protect from harm. Or perhaps, though young in years, this is some new wife. Or is it a lover who is in question?" He spoke with kindness and authority, coming very close to get his answer, his eyes fastened on my person, to the greater increase of embarrassment. Vain was the attempt to throw some indignation into the reply. Lover there was none. Of but sixteen years, Shimo was in the hands of father and mother. To admit a lover would be unfilial.... The father? Kawasaki Cho[u]bei, attached to the palace stables. Humble was his rank in the minor office he held; but a one time ashigaru (common soldier) his service had entitled him to the position and the suzerain's stipend of twenty koku. Hence he was of some consequence among his neighbours. At this information, given with some heat, the samurai smiled and praised my father's service.
He did more than praise; on this night, and other nights. Frequent were the meetings. Yet never did this Shimo pass the bounds of propriety. Carried away by the gust of passion, incited by the lover's presence and solicitation, yet Shimo's filial duty kept her person pure. A night came when he failed at the rendezvous. So with the next, and following nights. He had laughed at parting, and said that where was the will, there a means would be found. Plainly the will was lacking, and he was too proud and too highly placed even to endure the presence of Shimo at his side. With these thoughts, and overcome by love and vexation, I sickened. Great was the anxiety of the parents. Doctors were called in; the priest's charms were sought. They were of no avail. It was the advice of the wise old Saito[u] Sensei to leave me to myself and time. "It is her years," said he. "Time will effect the cure; unless she herself sooner indicates the means." Laughing he departed, as one convinced that the cure was a simple one. Long had the determination been held to tell all to the mother; always put off at sight of the kindly anxious face. With such a lover she would have felt alarmed and helpless.
Time brought the cure. The summer heats were nearly past; the eighth month (September) close at hand. One day came a chu[u]gen to the house, bearing a message. At once all was in confusion. Nakakawachi Dono was a fudai daimyo[u] of twelve thousand koku income. He was a new-comer in the district, and known to be held in high favour at the palace. A goodly portion of the site of the former Yoshida Goten in Bancho[u] Ko[u]jimachi had recently been assigned to him. With the removal of the Takata no Kata to quarters closer to the castle the greater portion of the palace had been removed to build the prior's hall of the Iinuma Kugyo[u]ji. The villa part (besso[u]) of the structure had been left intact, and with much of the park and garden had been secured by favour to Nakakawachi Sama. For such a great lord in his passage to condescend to rest at the humble house of a mere go-kenin caused much disturbance. The limited household staff was put energetically to work at cleaning and making all preparations for the honoured visit. Treading with cat's paw my parents went from room to room, to see that all was befitting. The articles of greatest value were set forth for his lordship's view. An instinct set dancing my barely restored nerves. Why did this great lord, so near home in his progress—his fief was in Ko[u]shu[u]—deign thus to rest? What command would he urge? His name was Nakakawachi Shu[u]zen. The samurai lover of the Bancho[u] spoke of himself as Shu[u]zen. Thus was the watching and waiting, in a flutter of trepidation and newly aroused passion.
Then he came. My parents prostrated themselves on the ground in his presence. "With your permission—" Haughty he swept on, to be ushered to the inner rooms. Even the officer in charge remained at a distance. Prostrate at the sill my father gave thanks for the honour of this unexpected presence, for his lordship's deigning to halt the palanquin. On command Shimo served the tea, not daring to raise face from the tatami under the satisfied scrutiny of this honoured guest, exercising all her self control, which yet did not prevent a trembling of the fingers in presenting the salver with the cup. In due course, on withdrawal of the service, he noted the one who served, and indicated his wishes. He was a new-comer in the district. He would have his service therefrom, at the hands of those close by. No girl was better spoken of than the daughter of Cho[u]bei San. He would ask that Shimo be sent to the yashiki to attend as koshimoto (maid in waiting) to her ladyship. His short stay in this house he regarded as most fortunate. He spoke through his chamberlain, now present; but followed the officer's words with close attention. My father was overwhelmed by the honour. Profuse and earnest were his astonished thanks. Shimo was the only child of people now entering into the coldness of age. This was of small moment. But there had been no opportunity to give her the training required for such service. Beyond an awkward touch on samisen, mainly due to her own practice, she was a moor girl, a very rustic. She could keep house—yes; like a wardsman's daughter. Polite accomplishments she lacked. Deign in this instance his lordship's honoured forbearance. The girl was too young and awkward for such service.
Polite was the withdrawal; without knowledge of his lordship's disposition and previous acquaintance. Shu[u]zen Dono was not so easily balked. All the objections were brushed aside. Youth was everything in my favour. His eyes twinkled with inward amusement as he spoke. All the easier came the practice which everyone must go through. If Shimo was incurably awkward she would not be dismembered, but dismissed. Great would be the forbearance. That she had everything to learn pleased him all the more. She would be the more readily moulded to his service. At the yashiki youth was an object, and not the experience of long time service which had left the adept far too experienced. Such women had their lord's service little at heart. Shimo had youth and beauty. These were a girl's treasures and accomplishments. He had never seen one better fitted for entrance on such service. All this the chamberlain conveyed with an authority which put aside opposition. The lord's will was spoken. First the mother gave thanks for the honour condescended to one so insignificant. She claimed the promised forbearance of his lordship to any faults. My father followed her example, and gave his thanks. Such entertainment as the humble house afforded was now produced. After partaking his lordship departed in state. The neighbours had been agape at the great lord's train stationed at the gate. For them and for the curious and discreet questioning, the congratulations at such promotion in the world, this Shimo cared little. His lordship's will had prevailed. Henceforth Shimo would live close to his side.
I had fled to the little working room, as one taking refuge amid the constant household sewing. But needle could not be seen through the veil of tears. "What joy! What joy!" Thoughtless the words were spoken out loud. The mother's hand was laid on my shoulder. The look was kind, yet with some reproach at this unfilial rejoicing. Apology was made. To her doubts eager was the answer. "How else succeed in life? Service at the yashiki, its life always under eye, its etiquette, even its dangers—this experience alone can teach how to meet its requirements; and so close at hand, near to home and parents. Others had succeeded in such promotion. Why not Shimo, thus offered the chance to rise from the status of a wardsman's daughter, or not much more, to become an attendant in a lord's yashiki?" Sadly my mother smiled. Grave would be her anxieties concerning one so inexperienced. "The child thinks but of self and pleasure. The mother thinks but of the child, and sees the dangers." This in lower tones—"If Shimo becomes the favourite of her lord, how is such inexperience to meet the evil passions roused in those around her? Always place her ladyship first. Resist the solicitation of Shu[u]zen Dono; unless the okusama chooses to favour what would be but a transient passion. Keep this well in mind.... And now—to the preparation of what is needed." She had detected the motive of his lordship's summons, thought him captivated by a pretty face and figure come across by accident. Thus she understood the inner feeling of this Shimo. With the words of advice she turned to the subject of my needs. Willingly this was left to her skilled hands; and the advice received as little attention. To speak of resistance to his lordship, to one who hungered for his presence, was but to set the brain devising all the means to secure his favour. Thus outwardly busied with needle and garments, the self was existing as in a dream. The preparations in any event could not be elaborate. Shu[u]zen Dono was urgent. A lucky day was chosen, and with my modest equipment I entered on the service of the yashiki of Nakakawachi Sama.
Introduction to the immediate presence of her ladyship, O'Hagi was anything but pleasing. Seated with her were two maids, O'Tsugi and O'Han. The first named was a buxom masculine woman of nearly thirty years. The girl O'Han was a recent promotion from the scullery; and, as was learned later, she owed the favour to the goodwill of the chamberlain (yo[u]nin) Nishioka Shintaro[u], a cold, smooth spoken, evil eyed man, mainly notable for the uncompromising readiness with which he carried out the wishes of her ladyship. Over them all, of greatest influence with O'Hagi Dono, was an old woman, O'Saku. She had accompanied her ladyship from the original House, was utterly unscrupulous in her service, and her sharp voice, like that of a file scratching glass, sent shivers down the spine as I prostrated myself before the group. Cold was the reception. "A likely wench! Plainly his lordship's choice, without reference to your ladyship. But time will show.... Meanwhile no service as yet is assigned. With this girl his lordship's orders are first to be heard. O'Han, show the new comer to the quarters of the koshimoto, that she stand in no necessity or likelihood of forgetting where they are. For to-day there is remission of service." Thus spoke the harsh voice of O'Saku, passing over my head. The cold, knife like glances of all were like steel plunged into my body. With obeisance I withdrew, to follow O'Han, who gave no greater welcome and was no kinder than the rest. Almost at once she left me, and several days were passed in solitude awaiting a summons. This came one evening. With evil dubious smile O'Han presented herself. "His lordship summons O'Shimo Dono to his service this night. You are to attend. Deign not to forget the good services of this Han." She laughed, with a bitter suggestiveness. What would anyone have done, thus treated at start as evil doer, as intruder? With joy his lordship's command was heard. The whole person of Shimo showed a well restrained love and joy. He was pleased at the effect wrought on me by his presence. Small the experience, beyond what love's attention could afford. The night's banquet was plainly not the dullest of its kind. At its close O'Shimo had command to accompany him. With morning I was a woman.
In the period which followed every night came the summons to attend my lord. Foolish and inexperienced, in this whirlwind of passion Shimo was but a leaf driven by the storm. The assignment to duty in the yashiki never came. There was the daily report for duty at her ladyship's rising, the cold and curt reception, the quick dismissal. O'Hagi Dono was past her thirtieth year. Of the great Doi House, she brought to her husband a dower of influence and prestige. Older than her husband the love passion had never taken root. An ugly woman, there was small chance for other good qualities to secure a fictitious esteem with a man so easily captivated by beauty as Shu[u]zen Sama. Furthermore her ladyship did not possess such amiable traits. She was a proud, hard, jealous woman; with the natural graft of a bad temper. Soon abandoned to a lonely bed she was no longer treated as a wife. Though the marriage had endured some five years there was no child, and little prospect of one. On occasions of ceremony the okugata presided at his lordship's wine feasts, attended by her band of furies. With the exception of O'Han, who possessed the freshness of youth, none of them had any pretence to good looks. Outwardly all due respect was paid to his lordship, but the private apartments (oku) were in league against him. For weeks the contact was through the yo[u]nin, Nishioka Shintaro[u], who acted as messenger of his lord's commands, and conveyed to his lordship any intimation of the wishes of her ladyship. Hence Shu[u]zen Sama knew and cared little as to what passed in the inner apartments of his wife. She knew everything which passed in those of his lordship. This tacit divorce appeared welcome to both.
The object of his lordship's passion, in a household in which one side or the other of the existing feud must be taken, the position of this Shimo was quickly determined. Not by her, for short experience of her ladyship inspired a terror which would even have counselled cooler treatment from his lordship in one more experienced. The other girls were all honey, to disguise the bitterness of gall. There was not one of them who would not gladly have obeyed her lord's call to Shimo's place. Hence to partisanship was added jealousy. At the daily tasks there was but one topic of conversation—O'Shimo's favour with her lord. The charms she used were evident enough, for Nature had been lavish with the kind to meet his lordship's wishes. How was it their own parents had spawned such incapacity? "Deign, O'Shimo Dono, to teach the art so sadly lacking. How bring to prominence such meagre gifts of proportion as one does possess? In turn shall be taught the art of the hanaike—the arrangement of flowers, of the koto and the biwa in accompaniment of old songs of heroes and their ladies, the ceremonial grace so necessary in attendance, the conduct of a lady. From a wardsman's daughter little is expected, beyond good looks. Alas! O'Shimo Dono is the yamabuki, the yellow rose, beautiful in its out of season bloom (April), but only too likely to be nipped by the frost. Deign to enlighten, O'Shimo Dono. Beauty soon wanes, and pregnancy kills good looks as completely as the chill wind does the flowers." Then they all broke into mad laughter; and whispered to each other.
Their suspicions were correct. The constant companionship of his lordship had the natural effect. When told great was his pleasure. If a boy, the child should be acknowledged as heir of the House. If a girl, it should be the solace of his years. So great was his joy and pride that he spoke to the retainers as if it was the okugata herself who was at issue. Thus the news must have reached her ladyship's ears with the first telling, for Nishioka usually was present at his lord's repast. He was the black cloud hanging over all. A tall, gaunt, suave, determined man of nearly forty years, the smile he cast upon this Shimo chilled her. Always courteous in his lordship's presence, elsewhere his courtesy conveyed a threat and insult which made me as the bird before the snake. I feared the man; and feared him all the more when one day, with small disguise of malice, he told me that his lordship had departed in all haste for the fief in Ko[u]shu[u], not to return for some weeks. Considering the state of affairs, this should inconvenience me but little. This open reference to the pregnancy was a first alarm. It showed how well known it was to the whole household. Indeed concealment now was impossible. The fifth month had been entered upon; the supporting band had become a necessity. But the climax was at hand.
That very day—toward noon—the summons came through the girl O'Han. With sinking heart I took my way to her ladyship's sitting room. What was going to take place. Passing the chu[u]gen Jisuke on the ro[u]ka he called to someone in the garden—"His lordship's absence gives the chance to clean out the house." Covertly glancing below—there was no one. Was it in malice, or as warning? Probably the latter. Jisuke always had been active in little services; often the chosen messenger of my lord. His look in passing conveyed no insolence; rather kind intention. It took away the exhibition of surprise at my reception. Her ladyship was seated at the upper end of the room. The maids O'Tsugi and O'Han stood close by. Nishioka Shintaro[u] was just behind her ladyship. The old hag O'Saku was seated at the front. She motioned me to make salutation. The okugata spoke harshly, with contempt and dislike of the one thus brought before her at the white sand of judicial process. "The affair at issue is a simple one. Shimo is to answer the questions—without tergiversation or lying. To Saku is left the matter of the examination."
The old woman bowed with respect and smiling gratitude at the pleasing task. The smile conveyed to her ladyship promise of satisfaction, even amusement, in the torture of a forced confession from this child who would play the woman. Turning to me her face, with cheeks fallen in, long sharp nose, hard bright glittering eyes of a bird of prey, the snowy hair piled high around the temples, it was that of one keenly searching out the tenderest spot into which to drive the knife. Her first words were all flattery. "Much has been heard, and little seen, of O'Shimo Dono since her entrance into the yashiki. What has been heard is all to her advantage. Her devotion to the service of his lordship has been carried to the utmost—even, some say, to extremes. Of that there can be no criticism. His lordship's wishes are paramount. The action of O'Shimo Dono contains nothing but merit. It is for the malice of others to say that O'Shimo has sought and stolen the fruit belonging to her ladyship; that her cat's eyes have been quick to fasten upon the place of the mistress of the house; that it is she who would furnish forth an heir to his lordship. Such is not to be believed. But the truth is to be told. An heir to his lordship is a matter for her ladyship. No child has fallen to her lot. If O'Shimo Dono be the first to give birth to a child in the yashiki, it must be between the knees of her ladyship. Deign then to make full confession.... Ah! There is no need to beg for mercy and reprieve from the examination. Saku is old. Her ladyship is a married woman. Both possess experience. On refusal personal examination is to be made. O'Tsugi, O'Han, are to aid." The two women had come forward and passed behind me. Seized and thrown down the clenched fist of O'Tsugi was roughly pressed into my abdomen. In fright and pain, in dread for the unborn child, I cried out. Then the violent old woman dragged out the confession of all that had passed with his lordship. Minute and shameful the details to be told in the presence of a man. But Shimo was an animal with powers of speech, and must tell all. With the confession the old woman's smoothness departed. "Vile slut! A townsman's brat, sprung from the stable dung, you would play the adulteress, take her ladyship's place, and supplant her with an heir got by some stranger's seed.... She is gone to the sixth month? High time for interference. She shall be kept here, until the separation of persons takes place. No wonder his lordship abandoned the shameless hussy—for some fresh country wench in Ko[u]shu[u]. For such loose jades to please the taste of the Tono Sama causes surprise. But off with her, to the room for confinement. There she is to lie, until her affair is settled." At a sign O'Tsugi and O'Han seized hold of me. Clothes torn and in disorder, the person vilely exposed, roughly I was dragged over to this barred and retired apartment. Always I made effort to preserve my body and its fruit from their harsh violence. O'Tsugi roared with laughter at the feeble resistance. The woman was strong as a horse. To O'Han—"Look at her big belly. Ah! Her ladyship is none too wise. Let the matter but be left to Tsugi, and the midwife soon would be needed." She raised a massive leg with suggestive gesture. In some fright O'Han stopped her, on plea of no such orders. The girl was young, of full figure and not without attraction. Perhaps she harboured hopes, and would not in a rival's person set precedent for her own. O'Tsugi spun me around, as a child would a top with the cord. Then suddenly she released me. With a crash my body fell against the wall. Sick and faint I tried to rise, and failed. They watched me for a time as I grovelled and retched in sickness. Then the bar fell on the outer passage and my imprisonment.