The Yotsuya Kwaidan or O'Iwa Inari - Tales of the Tokugawa, Volume 1 (of 2)
by James S. De Benneville
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

* * * * *

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. momme/momme; murashite/murashite; Kuramae/Kuramae). The letter o with a macron is represented as o[u]. The letter u with a macron is represented as u[u]. Kanji characters in the original book are shown enclosed in square brackets: for example, [kami]. The italicisation of Japanese words has been standardised. Punctuation and obvious printer's errors have been corrected. Hyphenation and capitalisation has been standardised. The symbol referred to in footnote 44, an X with a bar across the top, has been represented as X. Superscript numbers in square brackets are represented as ^{[4]}. Punctuation and obvious printer's errors have been corrected. For a complete list, please see the bottom of this document.

* * * * *


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."






Travel notes on thoughts and things Japanese, experienced during a four years' sojourn in the country

Octavo. 339 pages.


A critique of the effect of an idea—communityism—on the life and history of a people

Octavo. VI, 594 pages.


Being the story of the lives and adventures of Iyo-no-Kami Minamoto Kuro[u] Yoshitsune and Saito[u] Musashi-Bo[u] Benkei the Warrior Monk

Octavo. 2 Vols., XXI, 841 pages, with 69 full page illustrations (frontispieces in color) and three maps.


Being the story of the lives, the adventures, and the mis-adventures of the Hangwan-dai Kojiro[u] Sukeshige and Ternte-hime, his wife

Octavo. XV, 485 pages, with 45 full page illustrations (frontispiece in color) and three maps.






"The mainspring of human existence is love (nasake), for others or—oneself." —SEISHIN





Tales of the Tokugawa can well be introduced by two "wonder-stories" of Nippon. One of these, the Yotsuya Kwaidan,[1] is presented in the present volume, not so much because of the incidents involved and the peculiar relation to a phase of Nipponese mentality, as from the fact that it contains all the machinery of the Nipponese ghost story. From this point of view the reading of one of these tales disposes of a whole class of the native literature. Difference of detail is found. But unless the tale carries some particular interest, as of curious illustration of customs or history—the excuse for a second presentation—a long course of such reading becomes more than monotonous. It is unprofitable. Curiously enough, it can be said that most Nipponese ghost stories are true. When a sword is found enshrined, itself the malevolent influence—as is the Muramasa blade of the Hamamatsu Suwa Jinja, the subject of the Komatsu Onryu[u] of Matsubayashi Hakuchi—and with such tradition attached to it, it is difficult to deny a basis of fact attaching to the tradition. The ghost story becomes merely an elaboration of an event that powerfully impressed the men of the day and place. Moreover this naturalistic element can be detected in the stories themselves. Nipponese writers of to-day explain most of them by the word shinkei—"nerves"; the working of a guilty conscience moulding succeeding events, and interpreting the results to the subsequent disaster involved. The explanation is somewhat at variance with the native Shinto[u] doctrine of the moral perfection of the Nipponese, and its maxim—follow the dictates of one's heart; but that is not our present concern.

Their theory, however, finds powerful support in the nature of the Nipponese ghost. The Buddhist ghost does not remain on earth. It has its travels and penalties to go through in the nether world, or its residence in Paradise, before it begins a new life—somewhere. The Shinto[u] ghost, in the vagueness of Shinto[u] theology, does remain on earth. If of enough importance it is enshrined, and rarely goes abroad, except when carried in procession at the time of the temple festival. Otherwise it finds its home in the miniature shrine of the kami-dana or god-shelf. There is a curious confusion of Nipponese thought on this subject; at least among the mass of laity. At the Bon-Matsuri the dead revisit the scene of their earthly sojourn for the space of three days; and yet the worship of the ihai, or mortuary tablets, the food offerings with ringing of the bell to call the attention of the resident Spirit is a daily rite at the household Buddhist shrine (Butsudan). When, therefore, the ghost does not conform to these well-regulated habits, it is because it is an unhappy ghost. It is then the O'Bake or Bakemono, the haunting ghost. Either it has become an unworshipped spirit, or, owing to some atrocious injury in life, it stays to wander the earth, and to secure vengeance on the living perpetrator. In most cases this is effected by the grudge felt or spoken at the last moment of life. The mind, concentrated in its hate and malice at this final crisis, secures to the Spirit a continued and unhappy sojourn among the living, until the vengeance be secured, the grudge satisfied, and the Spirit pacified. There are other unhappy conditions of this revisiting of life's scenes; as when the dead mother returns to nurse her infant, or the dead mistress to console a lover. In the latter case, at least, the expressed affection has a malignant effect, perhaps purpose—as in the Bo[u]tan Do[u]ro[u] of Sanyu[u]tei Encho[u], a writer most careful in observing all the niceties called for by the subject.

In the Nipponese ghost story the vengeful power of the ghost acts through entirely natural means. The characters involved suffer through their own delusions aroused by conscience. In the old days, and among the common people in Nippon to-day, the supernatural was and is believed in, with but few exceptions. Such stories still are held to be fact, albeit the explanation is modern. Hence it can be said that the "Yotsuya Kwaidan" is a true story. O'Iwa, the Lady of Tamiya, really did exist in the Genroku and Ho[u]rei periods (1688-1710); just ante-dating the reforming rule of the eighth Tokugawa Sho[u]gun, Yoshimune Ko[u]. Victim of an atrocious plot of her husband and others, she committed suicide with the vow to visit her rage upon all engaged in the conspiracy. The shrine of the O'Iwa Inari (Fox-witched O'Iwa) in Yotsuya was early erected (1717) to propitiate her wrathful ghost; and the shrines of Nippon, to the shabbiest and meanest, have their definite record. On the register the name of the husband appears as Ibei; "probably correct," as Mr. Momogawa tells us. With him the name of Iemon is retained in the present story. Iemon is the classic example of the wicked and brutal husband, on the stage and in the gidayu recitation of Nippon. There was but little reason to revert to the record. The shrine always prospered. It appears on the maps of the district as late as Ansei fourth year (1857); and the writer has had described to him by a friend a visit to this shrine some twenty years ago. The lady in question referred to it rather vaguely as beyond Samegafuchi: i.e., at Yotsuya Samoncho[u]. It was particularly favoured by the hair dressers, and to the eyes of a young girl was a gorgeous structure in its continually renewed decoration. Inquiry of late in the district elicited the information that the shrine had been removed. Many changes have been made on the southern side of Yotsuya by the passage of the railway from Iidamachi to Shinjuku. The Myo[u]gyo[u]ji, with other temples there located, has been swept away. In fact the Meiji period handled all those institutions established by deceased piety with great roughness. Teramachi—Temple Street—is now but a name. The temples of eastern Yotsuya have nearly all disappeared. Have public institutions occupied this "public land"? Of course: the sites were sold for the secular purpose of profit, and poverty spread wide and fast over them. Yotsuya got the shell of this oyster.

About the middle of Meiji therefore (say 1893) the shrine disappeared from Yotsuya Samoncho[u]; to be re-erected in Echizenbori near the Sumidagawa. Local inquiry could or would give but little information. A fortunate encounter at the Denzu-In with an University student, likewise bent on hunting out the old sites of Edo's history, set matters right. Subsequent visits to the newer shrine were not uninteresting, though the presence of the mirror of O'Iwa and of the bamboo tube inclosing her Spirit (Mr. Momogawa) was strenuously denied by the incumbent. In the presence of the very genuine worship at the lady's shrine much stress need not be laid on the absence.

The present story practically is based on the "Yotsuya Kwaidan" of Shunkintei Ryuo[u], a famous story-teller of the Yoshiwara, and an old man when the "Restoration" of the Meiji period occurred. The sketch given in the "O'Iwa Inari Yu[u]rei" of Momogawa Jakuen filled in gaps, and gave much suggestion in moulding the story into a consistent whole. Parts merely sketched by the older story-teller found completeness. This collection of ghost stories—the "Kwaidan Hyaku Monogatari" published by the Kokkwado[u]—is in the main written by Mr. Momogawa, and can be recommended as one of the best of these collections, covering in shorter form the more important stories of this class of the native literature. The "Yotsuya Kwaidan" of Shinsai To[u]yo[u], one of the older and livelier of the ko[u]dan lecturers, gives the scene at the house of Cho[u]bei, and his quarrel with Toemon. It is found in the "Kwaidan-Shu[u]" published by the Hakubun-kwan. The gidayu (heroic recitation) and the drama handle all these stories for their own peculiar purposes. The incidents of a tale are so distorted, for stage use and dramatic effect, as to make these literary forms of small avail. The letter of O'Hana, however, is practically that of the play of Tsuruya Namboku (Katsu Byo[u]zo[u]). It has been thought well to append to the story the gidayu of this writer, covering the scene in Iemon's house. Also the strange experience of the famous actor Kikugoro[u], third of that name, is put into English for the curious reader. Kikugoro[u] was the pioneer in the representation of the Namboku drama.

This life history of the O'Iwa Inari—the moving cause of the establishment of her shrine—is no mere ghost story. It is a very curious exposition of life in Edo among a class of officials entirely different from the fighting samurai who haunted the fencing schools of Edo; from the men higher up in social status, who risked heads, or rather bellies, in the politics of the day and the struggle to obtain position, which meant power, in the palace clique. These latter were men who sought to have a share in the government of the Sho[u]gun's person, and hence of the nation. They strove to seat themselves in the high posts of the palace. Here was a rapidly revolving wheel to which a man must cling, or be dashed to pieces. To prevent being shoved off into destruction they used every means of slander and intrigue, and fought against such, that the life of a rich and luxurious court afforded. The result, too often, was the present of a dagger from the suzerain they sought to please. Trapped into some breach of the harsh discipline, or even of mere form of etiquette, the gift was "respectfully received" with the mocking face of gratitude, even from the hand of the successful rival in office. At his home the defeated politician cut his belly open. His obedience to the suzerain's will was duly reported. His family was ruined or reprieved according to a capricious estimation of its power of resentment—and it became a question of "who next?" to try for a place on the wheel. On the contrary those lower officials,[2] engaged in the dull routine of bureaucratic office, had a much less dangerous service and etiquette to deal with. In insignificant ease they lived and intrigued in their petty way, under no obligation to take sides in the politics of the truly great. If they fell, it was largely their own fault. Such was the position of those in immediate contact with the working wheels of the Sho[u]gun's Government. The great bugyo[u] (magistrates) were continually shifting. Their court staff was the solid foundation of unyielding precedent in form. The one was a court officer; the others court officers.

Hence the Kwaidan possesses value for the social lesson it conveys. The admittance of a stranger to the ward, his evil bond with the Lady of Tamiya, the previous passion for O'Hana and thereby the entanglement of Kwaiba in the plot; all form a network in which the horror of the story is balanced by the useful lessons to be drawn by the mind of Nippon from its wickedness. Perhaps this belief in the effect of the curse of the suicide acts both in deterring or bringing back the erring husband, and in saving the wife from the extremities of her despair in abandonment. The story of O'Iwa, the belief in her power, to-day has a strong influence on a certain class of the Nipponese mind; especially among the women. If the present writer might have felt momentarily an amused feeling at sight of her worshippers, it was quickly lost at sight of the positive unhappiness expressed in these faces of the abandoned. A visit to the Tamiya Inari is not necessarily either one of idle curiosity or without results. Some exceedingly painful impressions can be brought away in the mind.

It is not entirely in jest therefore that apology is made for the reproduction of the story. It is well in such matters to follow one's predecessors. Moreover, public sentiment is not to be derided nor disregarded. It has a certain title to respect, even when superstition is involved. Hence the statement can be made, that in telling this story of the "Yotsuya Kwaidan" no derogatory motive is involved—to people, class, or person; least of all in reference to the dread Lady of Tamiya.

OMARUDANI—4th July, 1916.




[The pronunciation of the Japanese vowels and consonants follows closely the Italian; in diphthongs and triphthongs each vowel is given full value.

a = a as in father, e = a as in mate, i = e as in meet, o = o as in soap, u = oo as in fool.

g is always hard. In the To[u]kyo[u] district it has the sound ng.

ch has full value, as in church. It is not k; c is only found as ch; i.e. cha, chi, cho, chu.

The vowels also have long (continued) sounds, marked by the accent -.

At times a vowel is elided; or rather but faintly touched by the voice. Thus Sukeshige is pronounced Skeshige; Sukenaga = Skenaga; Kuranosuke = Kuranoske. Bu and mu at the end of word lose the vowel sound—Shikibu = Shikib.

Kami used in connection with a man means "lord," Wakasa no Kami = Lord of Wakasa province.

Reprinted from the "Oguri Hangwan."]

(Kami also means "God" or divinized person; including the spirits of the dead. Even a living man can be regarded as a kami, in cases of some very unusual service rendered to the public welfare. Professor Imai recently—at Karuizawa—called attention to the fact that originally kami was written [kami], i.e. "superior." The divine attribute [kami] was introduced with Buddhism.)


Reader, pray take not the story of the O'Iwa Inari, the Yotsuya Kwaidan, as a mere fairy tale or novel of the day. The shrine of the Tamiya Inari stands now to attest the truth of the tradition. Let the doubter but witness the faith of the believer in the powers of the fearful lady; and, if doubt still continues to exist, the salutary fear of others at least will inspire respect.




Yotsuya is a suburb—at the extreme west of Edo-To[u]kyo[u]. Its streets are narrow and winding, though hilly withal; especially on the southern edge toward the Aoyama district, still devoted to cemeteries and palaces, sepulchres whited without and within. Echizenbori would be at the other extremity of the great city. It fronts eastward on the bank of the Sumidagawa. The populous and now poverty stricken districts of Honjo[u] and Fukagawa beyond the wide stream, with other qualities, deprive it of any claim of going to extremes. In fact Echizenbori is a very staid and solid section of Edo-To[u]kyo[u]. Its streets are narrow; and many are the small shops to purvey for the daily needs of its inhabitants. But these rows of shops are sandwiched in between great clumps of stores, partly warehouses and partly residences of the owners thereof. These stores line the canals of Echizenbori, water courses crowded with junks carrying their ten tons, or their hundreds of tons, of freight—precious cargoes of rice to go into these stores in bulk, of shoyu (soy) by the hundred kegs, of sakarazumi (charcoal from Shimosa) by the thousand tawara (bale), of fish dried and fresh, of takuan or daikon (the huge white radish) pickled in salt and rice bran, of all the odds and ends of material in the gross which go to make up the necessities of living in a great city. If Echizenbori then can make its show of poverty, and very little display of wealth, it is not one of the poor quarters of this capital city of Nippon.

Crossing the Takabashi from Hacho[u]bori and plunging down the narrow street opposite; a short turn to the right, a plunge down another narrow street and a turn to the right; one comes to the high cement wall, in its modernness of type a most unusual attachment to shrine or temple. The gate is narrow and formal; almost like the entrance to a garden or smaller burying ground. Within all is changed from the busy outside world. The area inclosed is small—perhaps a square of a hundred and fifty feet—but marked in lines by a maze of lanterns of the cheap iron variety, set on cheap wooden posts. On the right is seen a minor shrine or two dedicated to the Inari goddess. On the left is a small building devoted to votive offerings, the crude and the more elaborate. The most striking is the offering of a little geisha lady, and portrays an heroic scene of early days. There are other portraitures, in which perhaps a wandering lover is seen as a hero, to the lady's eyes, of these later times. On the outside of the structure are posted up by the hundred pictures of once woebegone ladies, now rejoicing in the potent influence of the Tamiya shrine to restore to them the strayed affections of husband or lover. Next in line is an open, shed-like structure. It is a poor chance if here the casual visitor does not encounter one or two of the petitioners, patiently trotting round in a circle from front to back, and reciting their prayers in this accomplishment of "the hundred turns." Just opposite, and close by, is the shrine itself. This is in part a massive store-house set back in the domestic structure, with the shrine of the Inari facing the visitor. The floor space at the sides and before it often is piled high with tubs of shoyu and sake, with bundles of charcoal, such negotiable articles as the wealthier shopkeeper can offer to the mighty lady; and long tresses of hair of women too poor to offer anything else, or wise enough to know that a woman could make no greater sacrifice. And is not the object of their worship a woman? Numerous are these severed strands. Entering the shrine and passing the pleasant spoken warden at its entrance, peddling his charms and giving advice where often it is sadly needed—perhaps the more valuable of his two public duties—to the left within is the Oku-no-In, the inner shrine containing the ihai or memorial tablet of O'Iwa. That the shrine is popular and wealthy; that the lady is feared, venerated, and her dreadful powers much sought after; this is plain to the eye in the crowded elaborateness of this inner holy place of the larger sacred structure.

Now Echizenbori is not a particularly old quarter of the city. Long after Edo was established, the city, step by step, fought its way down to the river; filling in lagoons and swamps, and driving their waters into the canals which were to furnish very largely the means of communication for its traffic. Yotsuya on the contrary is old. Its poverty is of later date. In the Edo days it was a favourite site for the homes of do[u]shin, yakunin, and a whole herd of the minor officials who had the actual working of the great Tokugawa machine of government in their hands. In the maps of Ansei 4th year (1857) the shrine of the O'Iwa Inari figures in Samoncho[u], in its Teramachi; a small part of the great mass of red, indicating temples and shrines and their lands, which then covered a large part of Yotsuya. How then did it come to pass that the shrine was removed to this far off site in Echizenbori, with such incongruous surroundings? The explanation must be found in our story.

When the Tenwa year period (1681-83) opened, long resident at Yotsuya Samoncho[u] had been Tamiya Matazaemon. By status he was a minor official or do[u]shin under the Tokugawa administration. These do[u]shin held highest rank of the permanent staff under the bureaucratic establishment; and on these men lay the main dependence for smoothness of working of the machinery of the Government. Matazaemon was the perfect type of the under-official of the day; smooth, civilly impertinent to his equals, harsh to his inferiors, and all unction and abjectness to his superiors. Indeed, he laid more stress on those immediately above him than on the more removed. To serve the greater lord he served his immediate officer, being careful to allow to the latter all the credit. No small part of his function was to see that ceremonial form and precedent were carried out to the letter. It was the accurate and ready knowledge of these which was of greatest import to his chief, indeed might save the latter from disaster. Matazaemon's readiness and conduct rendered him deservedly valued. Hence he enjoyed the double salary of thirty tawara of rice, largely supplemented by gifts coming to him as teacher in hanaike (the art of flower arrangement) and of the cha-no-yu (tea ceremony). He had a more than good house, for one of his class, facing on the wide Samoncho[u] road, and with a garden on the famous Teramachi or long street lined with temples and which runs eastward from that thoroughfare. The garden of Tamiya almost faced the entrance to the Gwansho[u]ji, which is one of the few relics of the time still extant. It was large enough to contain some fifteen or twenty fruit trees, mainly the kaki or persimmon, for Matazaemon was of practical mind. Several cherry trees, however, periodically displayed their bloom against the rich dark green foliage of the fruit trees; and in one corner, to set forth the mystic qualities of a small Inari shrine relic of a former owner, were five or six extremely ancient, gnarled, and propped up plum trees, sufficient in number to cast their delicate perfume through garden and house in the second month (March).

Such was the home of Matazaemon; later that of O'Iwa San. It was pretentious enough to make display with a large household. But the master of Tamiya was as close-fisted and hard and bitter as an unripe biwa (medlar). His wealth was the large and unprofitable stone which lay within; the acid pulp, a shallow layer, all he had to give to society in his narrow minded adherence to official routine; the smooth, easily peeled skin the outward sign of his pretentions to social status and easily aroused acidity of temper. With most of his neighbours, and all his relatives, he had a standing quarrel. Secure in his lord's favour as an earnest officer, so little did he care for the dislike of the ward residents that he was ever at drawn swords with the head of his ward-association, Ito[u] Kwaiba. As for the relatives, they were only too ready to come to closer intimacy; and Matazaemon knew it.

His household consisted of his wife O'Naka, his daughter O'Mino, and the man servant Densuke. The garden Matazaemon would allow no one to attend to but himself. The two women did all the work of the household which ordinarily would fall to woman-kind, with something more. Densuke performed the heavier tasks, accompanied his master on his outings, and represented his contribution to the service of the ward barrier, the O[u]kido[u], on the great Ko[u]shu[u]-Kaido[u] and just beyond the O[u]bangumi. The barrier cut off Yotsuya from the Naito[u]-Shinjuku district, and, as an entrance into Edo, was of considerable importance. When the time of service came Densuke appeared in full uniform and with his pike. A handsome young fellow of nineteen years, the women, especially O'Mino, saw to it that his appearance should be a credit to the House. His progress up the wide Samoncho[u], up to his disappearance into the great highway, was watched by O'Mino—and by the neighbours, who had much sharper eyes and tongues than Matazaemon and his wife. They marvelled.

With ground for marvel. In the eyes of her parents O'Mino was the most beautiful creature ever created. Occasionally Matazaemon would venture on criticism. "Naka, something is to be said to Mino. Too much powder is used on the face. Unless the colour of the skin be very dark, the use of too much powder is not good. Mino is to be warned against excess." Thus spoke the official in his most official tone and manner. Wife and daughter heard and disobeyed; the wife because she was ruled by her daughter, and the daughter because she would emulate the fair skin of Densuke and be fairer in his eyes. O'Mino had suffered both from fate and fortune. She had been born ugly; with broad, flat face like unto the moon at full, or a dish. Her back was a little humped, her arms disproportionately long, losing in plumpness what they gained in extension. She seemed to have no breasts at all, the chest forming a concavity in correspondence to the convexity of the back, with a smoothness much like the inner surface of a bowl. This perhaps was no disadvantage—under the conditions. So much for fate. But fortune had been no kinder. "Blooming" into girlhood, she had been attacked by smallpox. Matazaemon was busy, and knew nothing of sick nursing. O'Naka was equally ignorant, though she was well intentioned. Of course the then serving wench knew no more than her mistress. O'Mino was allowed to claw her countenance and body, as the itching of the sores drove her nearly frantic. In fact, O'Naka in her charity aided her. The result was that she was most hideously pock-marked. Furthermore, the disease cost her an eye, leaving a cavity, a gaping and unsightly wound, comparable to the dumplings called kuzumanju, white puffy masses of rice dough with a depression in the centre marked by a dab of the dark-brown bean paste. The neighbours used to say that O'Mino was nin san bake shichi—that is, three parts human and seven parts apparition. The more critical reduced her humanity to the factor one. The children had no name for her but "Oni" (fiend). They had reason for this. They would not play with her, and treated her most cruelly. O'Mino, who was of no mild temperament, soon learned to retaliate by use of an unusually robust frame, to which was united by nature and circumstances her father's acidity of character. When the odds were not too great all the tears were not on O'Mino's side; but she suffered greatly, and learned with years that the Tamiya garden was her safest playground.

O'Mino grew into a woman. Affection had to find some outlet. Not on the practical and very prosaic mother; not on the absorbed and crabbed father; but on Densuke, on the samurai's attendant or chu[u]gen, it fell. All manner of little services were rendered to him; even such as would appropriately fall within his own performance. At first O'Mino sought out little missions for him to perform, out of the line of his usual duties, and well rewarded in coin. This was at his first appearance in the house. Then she grew bolder. Densuke found his clothing undergoing mysterious repairs and replacement. His washing, even down to the loin cloths, was undertaken by the Ojo[u]san. Densuke did not dare to question or thwart her. Any trifling fault O'Mino took on herself, as due to her meddling. She became bolder and bolder, and sought his assistance in her own duties, until finally they were as man and maid employed in the same house. Matazaemon noted little increases in the house expenses. O'Mino took these as due to her own extravagance. The father grunted a little at these unusual expenditures. "What goes out at one end must be cut off at the other end. Densuke, oil is very expensive. At night a light is not needed. Be sure, therefore, on going to bed to extinguish the light." Densuke at once obeyed his master's order; and that very night, for the first time, O'Mino boldly sought his couch. Confused, frightened, overpowered by a passionate woman, Densuke sinned against his lord, with his master's daughter as accomplice.

Henceforth Densuke had what O'Mino was willing to give him. On Matazaemon's going forth to his duties, O'Mino, and O'Naka under her orders, did all his household work. The only return required was submission to the exigencies of the Ojo[u]san. This was no slight obligation. Densuke at times thought of escape, to his home at To[u]gane village in Kazusa, to his uncle Kyu[u]bei in the Kanda quarter of Edo. O'Mino seemed to divine his thoughts. She would overload him with favors; or openly express her purpose of following wherever he went in life. Kanda? Kyu[u]bei was a well-known hanger-on at the Tamiya. Matazaemon entered him up in his expense book at so much a year. To[u]gane? He could not get there except through Kyu[u]bei. Matazaemon had farms there, and the nanushi or village bailiff was his servant. Besides, he would be a runaway. Matazaemon surely would come down on Kyu[u]bei as the security. So the months passed, and matters were allowed to drift. Perhaps it was some gossip of the quarter which reached the deaf ears of Matazaemon. As he was about to go forth one day he followed the figure of O'Mino sharply with his little eyes all screwed up. "Naka, there seems change in the figure of Mino. Surely the gossip of the neighbours as to Densuke is not true? Mino is said to harbour a child by him. In such case it would be necessary to kill them both. Warn Mino in time; a chu[u]gen is not one to become the adopted son (muko) of the Tamiya. He is an excellent lad, and costs but little. His habits are not riotous. To dismiss him thus causelessly would not only be unjust, but to no profit. Mino giving heed to the warning, all will be well." With this the lord of the household stalked forth to the house entrance. Receiving his clogs from O'Mino, he stalked forth to his official attendance. The two women, prostrate in salutation at his exit, raised their heads to watch him stalk.

It was a frightened face that O'Naka turned to her daughter. In whispering voice—"The honoured father's words have been heard? If not, it is to be said that gossip of the neighbourhood has come to his ears as to relations with Densuke. He notices that an obi is not often worn; and when worn is soon discarded. However, a man's eye is not so apt in such matters. Even in this Naka cannot speak positively. Doubtless the report is not true." O'Mino, if ugly, was anything but obtuse. Her mother must know; and yet not know. "My honoured father does not consider the difference of age and status in Densuke. Densuke is but a boy. This Mino has passed her twenty-third year. Moreover, surely she deserves a better husband than a chu[u]gen. Least of all would she give her father cause for regret or painful thoughts. Can a woman be pregnant otherwise than by a man?" O'Mino, respectfully prostrate, with this raised her head. The two women looked each other in the face. Finally O'Naka said—"With joy is the answer heard. But Matazaemon San is of hasty temper. In his suspicions even he is to be avoided. However, the business of the house is to be performed. This will take the time until late in the day. Tradesmen may come for payments of the month. In the closet ten ryo[u] in silver will be found. Here are the keys to the chests. It would be well to take an inventory of the effects. The winter is at hand. It is time to make warmer provision for it. Be sure to observe circumspection." With these words, and a sad look at her erring daughter, O'Naka donned street garb, threw a haori (cloak) over her shoulders, climbed down into her clogs, and their patter soon disappeared down the street.

Her departure was almost coincident with the reappearance of Densuke. His attendance on the master to the offices of the palace stables accomplished, for the time being he had returned. Thus did Matazaemon effect an outward state and an household economy. None too willing was the presence of Densuke. He was faithful in his way to O'Mino, and much afraid of her. Even in the most private intercourse to him she was the Ojo[u]san, the daughter of the House; but he had no other recourse than the Tamiya. Once assured of him, O'Mino had cut off all the previous flow of coin, and with it the means of his rare indiscretions at the Shinjuku pleasure quarter. Besides, their interviews took place in the darkness of night. In the daytime O'Naka usually was present, who, lacking other company, sought that of her daughter, and moreover was unwilling to be too complacent in the intrigue she saw going on. As soon as the sound of Densuke's steps was heard, O'Mino called him. There was a sharpness in her tone, a note of alarmed decision, that frightened and chilled him. Humbly he sought her presence. A glance showed the absence of O'Naka, yet as usual he prostrated himself in salutation. In that position he did not see her face. She said impatiently—"For salutation there is no time nor occasion. It is no longer the Ojo[u]san who speaks; it is the wife. My father knows all concerning this Mino and Densuke. On his return he is sure to take the occasion of the presence of both to kill us. It is his right and our duty to submit to his punishment. But to do so consigns the infant in the womb from darkness to darkness. This is too dreadful to contemplate. Unfilial though it be, we must run away. Make up your mind to do so." Densuke looked up. She was bent in meditation over this flight. The corners of the mouth widened out, the eyelid drooping more conspicuously than ever and forming a heavy fold over the empty socket, the bald brow, the scanty hair at the sides in disordered whisps and strands, all these made her a hideous mask. He could not endure the sight. Timidly he said—"Terrible news indeed! How has it happened? Surely, honoured lady, you have been very rash; nay, somewhat clumsy withal. Cannot women take their pleasure with whom they please without such dire results? Ah! Such luxury, such pleasant surroundings! All must be abandoned. This Densuke will seek his native village in Kazusa. And the Ojo[u]san whither will she go; what will she do?"

Was the question asked in innocence, or in deepest guile? O'Mino could not have answered, well as she thought she knew Densuke. He felt a hand on his shoulder. He sprang up in fright, hardly knowing whether it was a demon, or O'Mino turned demon, who confronted him. Her mouth half open, her large, white, shining, even teeth all displayed, her single eye darting malignant gleams, and the empty socket and its fold quivering and shaking, she was a frightful object. "To speak of pleasure without the consequences, such talk is that of a fool. Densuke was taken for the relationship of the two worlds. Now you would abandon me. Very well—do so. But this Mino does not perish by her father's sword. The well is at hand. Within three days I shall reappear and hunt you out. Torn to pieces the wretched man shall die a miserable death. Better would it be now to die with Mino. A last salutation...." Two vigorous arms seized his neck. Densuke gave a cry of anguish as the sharp teeth marked the ear. Letting him go, she sprang to the ro[u]ka (verandah). Frightened as he was, Densuke was too quick for her. He grasped her robe. "Nay! The Ojo[u]san must not act so desperately. Densuke spoke as one clumsy, and at a loss what to do ... yes ... we must run away ... there is the uncle, Kawai, in Kanda. To him Densuke will go, and there learn the will of Tamiya Dono." O'Mino's tragic attitude lapsed. At once she was the practical woman of the house. She gave thanks for her mother's foresight. "The escape is not as of those unprovided. Here are ten ryo[u] in silver. A bundle is to be made of the clothing and other effects. This is to be carried by Densuke. And the uncle: Mino presenting herself for the first time as wife, a present is to be brought. What should it be?" She talked away, already busy with piling clothes, quilts (futon), toilet articles onto a large furoshiki or square piece of cloth. Then she arrayed her person with greatest care, and in the soberest and richest fashion as the newly-wed wife. With time Densuke managed to get his breath amid this vortex of unexpected confusion into which he had been launched. "The uncle's teeth are bad. Soft takuan[3] is just the thing. For long he has eaten little else. Four or five stalks are sufficient." He went to the kitchen to secure this valued gift. Then he collected his own possessions. With the huge bundle of the furoshiki on his shoulders; with straw raincoat, sun hat, clogs for wet and dry weather, piled on the top, and the stalks of the takuan dangling down; "it was just as if they were running away from a fire." As Densuke departed O'Mino closely observed him. He was too subdued, too scared to give her anxiety. Later she left the house to join him at the Hanzo[u]-bashi, far enough removed from Yotsuya. It was then Tenwa, 2nd year, 11th month (December, 1682).



This uncle of Densuke, Kawai Kyu[u]bei by name, was a rice dealer, with a shop in Matsudacho[u] of the Kanda district. The distance to go was far. As with all ladies, O'Mino kept Densuke waiting long at the Hanzo[u]-bashi. Indeed, there was much romance about this ugly, neglected, hard girl. She waited until the sound of O'Naka's clogs was heard. Then she halted at the corner of Teramachi until she could see her mother's figure in the dusk; see it disappear into the house. When she went down the street toward the Samegabashi she was crying. It was late therefore—after the hour of the pig (9 P.M.)—when the pair reached Kanda. The business of the day was long over in this business section of Edo. The houses were tightly closed. On reaching the entrance of Kyu[u]bei's house said Densuke—"Ojo[u]san, condescend to wait here for a moment. The uncle is to be informed. Deign to have an eye to the furoshiki. Please don't let the dogs bite into or insult the takuan." He pounded on the door. Said a voice within—"Obasan (Auntie)! Obasan! Someone knocks. Please go and open for them." The more quavering and softer tones of an old woman made answer—"No, it is not my turn and time to go to the door. Get up; and first make inquiry before entrance is allowed. With little to lose, loss is much felt. Ah! Tamiya Dono in the Yotsuya has been sadly neglected." The scolding tones hummed on. Grumbling, the old man was lighting a rush. "'Tis agreed; 'tis agreed. To-morrow without fail this Kyu[u]bei visits Tamiya. Ah! It is no jest to go to that house. Not only is the distance great, but...." He had the door open, and his mouth too. "Densuke! Graceless fellow! But what are you doing here, and at this hour? No; the luck is good. There is a big bundle with you, a huge bundle." He spied the takuan and his face broadened into a smile. "Ah! If dismissed, it has been with honour. Doubtless the takuan is for this Kyu[u]bei. Thanks are felt. But is all this stuff Densuke's? He has not stolen it? Doubtless a woman is at the bottom of the affair. Never mind; an opportunity presents itself to offer you as muko—at the Tatsuya in Yokomachi. Of late a boy has been hoped for, but another girl presented herself. A muko now will be welcome. The wife is getting past child-bearing, and there is little hope of a son. The Tatsuya girl is just the thing. In a few months she will be fit to be a wife. She...."

Densuke edged a word into this stream. "The honoured uncle is right. The cause of Densuke's appearance is a woman." The old man made a face. Said he—"Well, in such a case it is good to be out of it. This Kyu[u]bei has heard talk of Densuke—and of all things with the Ojo[u]san! That would be terrible indeed. But how is the Oni (demon)? What a sight she is! Bald, one-eyed, hairless, with a face like a dish and no nose—Kyu[u]bei came suddenly on her at dusk in the Yotsuya. Iya! It was cold feet and chills for him for the space of seven days. It is that which keeps Kyu[u]bei from Yotsuya, although a little aid would go far. The last dealings in rice notes were not favourable. Besides, account is soon to be rendered to Tamiya Dono. But though wicked of temper and ugly, O'Mino San is rich. Even for the demon in time a good match will be found. She will be the wife of an honoured kenin (vassal), and the husband will buy geisha and joro[u] with the money. Such is the expectation of Tamiya Dono. Don't allow any trifling there. Remember that she is the daughter of a go-kenin. They talk of Densuke in the Yotsuya. Of course it is all talk. Don't allow it to happen." Densuke found an opening. The words meant one thing; the expression another. "It is not going to happen." Kyu[u]bei looked at him aghast as he took in the meaning. "What! With the demon? Densuke has committed the carnal sin with the demon? Oh, you filthy scoundrel! Rash, inconsiderate boy! Obasan! Obasan!... What did she pay you for the deed?... This low fellow Densuke, this foolish rascal of a nephew, has been caught in fornication with the demon.... What a fool! How is it that death has been escaped? And you have run away. Doubtless a pregnancy has followed. After putting his daughter to death Tamiya Dono will surely hunt out Densuke. Or perhaps keep O'Mino San until he catches the interloper. Sinning together, both will die together. Ah! To cross the Sanzu no Kawa, to climb the Shide no Yama, with the demon as company: terrific! It is terrific! And what has become of her? Why fall into such a trap, with a woman old and ugly? Her riches are not for you. Caught here, the tatami of Kyu[u]bei will be spoiled."[4]

Densuke countered. He spoke in the old man's ear. "Refusing consent, she threatened to kill herself and haunt this Densuke as O'Bake (apparition). The Ojisan (uncle) has seen the Ojo[u]san. Would he be haunted by her, be seized and killed with torture?... And then—here she stands, just at the door." The old man spluttered, and gasped, and went on his nose in abject salutation—"Oh, the fool!... the Ojo[u]san is here in person ... he would trifle with the devil!... the low rascal would seduce the honoured daughter of Tamiya ... put ten hags in a row and pick out the worst ... will the Ojo[u]san condescend to honour Kyu[u]bei's place.... Oh! She's a very O'Bake already. Pregnancy with a beautiful woman is bad enough. With this demon it makes her an apparition ... condescend to enter; deign to enter." O'Mino slowly came forward. That what had been said by the rash and unconscious Kyu[u]bei had escaped her ear was unlikely. The humility of demeanor hardly veiled the offended dignity of her approach. "Densuke has spoken truth. We come as husband and wife. Condescend to give shelter for the time being, and become the intercessor with Tamiya Dono. Such is the prayer of this Mino." As she spoke she bowed low on the tatami (mats). Kyu[u]bei caught the hint; for if she had heard the talk of Densuke, she had assuredly heard his still louder ejaculations and ill-timed wit. The Obasan was in a rage at him. Taking the conduct of affairs in her own hand—"Condescend to make this poor dwelling a home for as long as desired. Plainly the visitors have not come empty handed. Ma! Ma! 'Tis like an escape from a fire. Densuke is a strong lad to shoulder such a burden. But he always has been something of an ass. As for Matazaemon Dono, to-morrow the Ojisan shall attend to the affair, and see what is to be expected. Meanwhile, deign to be as in Samoncho[u] itself." The kindly old woman pushed Kyu[u]bei and his clumsy apologies out of the way. She busied herself about O'Mino. The two women understood each other. The varied contents of the furoshiki were quickly stowed away. A little supper was prepared for the hungry fugitives. Kyu[u]bei sat by, his eyes dazzled by the wealth of goods displayed, and his nostrils shifting under the acrid perfume of the takuan and remembrance of his stupidity.

The next morning Kyu[u]bei was up betimes. Matazaemon was no dawdler. It was best to catch him satisfied with the morning meal, and perhaps beset by the night's regret over the loss of his daughter. In no way was it a pleasant mission. Kyu[u]bei's pace became a crawl as he approached the garden gate on Teramachi. He put in an appearance at the kitchen side. O'Naka was here established, engaged in her duties and surely awaiting him. At sight of him she burst into what was half laugh and half tears. "Ah! It is Kyu[u]bei San. Doubtless he comes on the part of Mino and Densuke. It is kind of Kyu[u]bei to befriend them. The Danna (master) is very angry indeed. An only daughter, and one on whom he depended for a muko, he is much upset. Please go in and talk with him. Show anger at the runaways. To agree with him may somewhat soothe his passion. Condescend so to act." Kyu[u]bei winked. And turn some of this anger on himself? Well, agreement might rouse the spirit of contradiction in Tamiya Dono. It was a characteristic of this hide-bound official. Matazaemon was drinking the last sips of tea from his rice bowl when the sho[u]ji were gently pushed apart, and the head of Kyu[u]bei inserted in the opening. At first he paid no attention. Then as one in haste—"Ah! Is it Kyu[u]bei? He comes early to-day—and hardly to apply for anything. The rice notes are not yet due for some weeks." His tone was grim; the usual indifferent benevolence of demeanor toward a townsman was conspicuously absent. Kyu[u]bei felt chilled. Densuke must not sacrifice his good uncle to his own folly.

Said Kyu[u]bei—"Yet it is to seek the honoured benevolence of Tamiya Dono that Kyu[u]bei comes." Matazaemon turned sharp around toward him. Frightened, the townsman continued—"Densuke has acted very wickedly. The low, lascivious rascal has dared to seduce the honoured daughter of the House. Both are now harboured at the house of this Kyu[u]bei, who now makes report. Their lives are in the hand of Tamiya Dono. But Kyu[u]bei would make earnest plea for delay. O'Mino San being pregnant, the child would be sent from darkness to darkness—a terrible fate. May it be condescended to show the honoured mercy and benevolence. Evil and unfilial though the action of the two has been, yet 'benevolence weighs the offence; justice possesses two qualities.' Such are the words of Ko[u]shi (Confucius)." The eyes of Matazaemon twinkled. He had heard that Kyu[u]bei was on the verge of shaving his head (turning priest). Truly the townsman was profitting by the exhortations of his teacher. After a time he said—"The memory of Kyu[u]bei is excellent. Don't let it fail him on the present occasion. For such a deed as has been committed the punishment is death, meted out by the hand of this Matazaemon. The fact ascertained, it was intended to kill them both. The flight of Mino and Densuke has altered the complexion of the affair. It is no longer necessary to inflict the extreme penalty. O'Mino is disowned for seven births. Neither she nor Densuke is to appear before this Matazaemon. If the talk of the ward be true, in exchange for a loyal service Densuke has secured a beautiful bride. There can be no regrets." Then, taking a sprightly and jeering air, "But this Kyu[u]bei has been the one to exercise benevolence. Matazaemon now learns that the two runaways have been received by him. Entertain them well; entertain them well. Thanks are due to Kyu[u]bei San—from them. Doubtless he is much occupied with his guests. Less will be seen of him in Yotsuya.... But official duties press. This Matazaemon must leave. Don't be in haste. Stay and take some tea.... Naka! Naka! Tea for Kyu[u]bei San; the haori (cloak) of Matazaemon.... Sayonara.... Ah! The rice notes this Matazaemon took up for Kyu[u]bei San, they fall due with the passage of the weeks. But Kyu[u]bei is one who always meets his obligations. As to that there is no anxiety." With this last fling the prostrate Kyu[u]bei heard the sound of the clogs of Matazaemon on the flagged walk outside. A departing warning to O'Naka as to the tea, and steps were heard near-by. He raised his head, to confront the mistress of the house.

O'Naka spoke with tears in her eyes—a salve to the alarmed and wounded feelings of Kyu[u]bei. "Don't be frightened. After all Matazaemon is a samurai. To press Kyu[u]bei, or any tradesman, is beyond him. But this Naka cannot see her daughter! To add to his anger would bring disaster on her and the unborn child. Alas! Anyhow, give Mino this money; and these articles of value, properly her own. Her mirror has been forgotten in the hasty flight." O'Naka brought forth one of those elaborate polished silver surfaces, used by the ladies of Nippon in these later luxurious days of the Sho[u]gunate. It was only now that it became the property of O'Mino. It was part of the wedding outfit of O'Naka herself. With this little fiction the mother continued—"When the child is born allow the grandmother at least a distant sight of it. Perhaps it will resemble Tamiya; be like its mother, and soften a father's heart." Now she wept bitterly; and Kyu[u]bei wept with her—bitterly. "Like the mother! The Buddhas of Daienji[5] would indeed weep at the appearance of such a monster." This was his thought; not expressed with the humble gratitude, prostration, and promises which he fully intended to keep. Kyu[u]bei reverentially accepted the mirror, the goods, the money. Taking his leave of Yotsuya—a long one he feared—with sighs he set out for Kanda. Here he made his report. Said the old townsman with severity—"The will of the parent is not to be disobeyed. It is the duty of this Kyu[u]bei to see to its performance." He had O'Naka more in mind than the master of Tamiya. O'Mino might yet be the goose to lay golden eggs. A goose of such plumage! Kyu[u]bei made a wry face in the darkness of the corridor.



Some means of support had to be found. Employed in a kenin's house, and leaving it under such conditions, kindred occupation was out of the question. There was a sort of black list among these officials to cover all grades of their service. Time and the host of servants of some great House would get the lad back into the only occupation he understood. Trusting to some such accident of fortune, Kyu[u]bei made Densuke his agent on commission. Densuke was no idler. Kyu[u]bei managed to meet the Tamiya security for his loans, largely through the efforts of the younger man. The married couple at this time set up their establishment in Goro[u]beicho[u] of Kyo[u]bashi Ku. Coming and going, often with no definite task in hand, Densuke to all appearance was an out-and-out idler. For the first time released from the trammels of her class, O'Mino could attend the theatres and farce shows of the capital. She delighted in acting this part of a tradesman's wife. Moreover she was very sure of not meeting with Matazaemon, of whom she was in great fear. Bound to the formulae of his class, her father might feel bound to cut her down on sight.

One day Densuke was idling and hanging over the parapet of the Nihonbashi. Some fishermen were violently quarrelling in the fish market on the bank just below the bridge. As he looked on with interest a hand was laid on his shoulder. Turning, he saw a man, partly in the dress of a chu[u]gen, partly in that of a menial attendant of one of the larger yashiki (nobleman's mansion). Scars of burns on his hands and arms, patches of rice flour and bran, showed that he was a cook. His eye was severe and his manner abrupt as he rebuked Densuke. "An idle fellow! This Taro[u]bei never fails to come across Densuke as an idler, or on the way to Asakusa with the worthy wife. Is he fit for nothing?" Densuke was a mild man. To this man with a grievance his answer was soft. Besides he had no liking for the cook's knife stuck in the girdle, and handy to carve fish or flesh. He said—"Perchance the idleness is more in appearance than fact. Buying and selling on commission the task is an irregular one. It is true, however, that this Densuke has no settled labour. Alas! Former days in the service of a samurai are much to be regretted."—"Can you cook rice?" was the abrupt interruption. "This Densuke knows the 'Sanryaku' fairly well. Is more needed?" The man looked at him dumbfounded. "The 'Sanryaku'—what's that?"—"Knowledge of the 'Sanryaku' enables one to meet all the requirements of a bushi (knight).[6] At the school in Kazusa To[u]gane the priest who taught this Densuke, at one time a samurai, was far more taken with the 'Sanryaku' than with the Sutra (Scripture); the lessons taught applied more to Bushido[u] (the knight's way) than to Butsudo[u] (the way of the Buddha).... But to the point; this Densuke for three years cooked the rice at Tamiya in Yotsuya. First there is the toro-toro of bubbling water; then the biri-biri, as what little remains passes as steam through the rice grains. Then the sharp whistling cry of a baby from the pot on the slow fire (murashite). The task is done, and the vessel is removed from the stove." The man looked with respect on this learned cook. Said he—"Densuke is the man. Taro[u]bei must leave the kitchen of Geishu[u] Sama at once. The mother is ill in Aki province. A substitute is to be found. The salary—is next to nothing; but the perquisites are numerous, and the food ample to feed several Densuke and their wives. Deign to accept." Densuke did not hesitate—"The obligation lies with Densuke. But how secure the position? There is Tamiya...." The man laughed. "There are many Densuke in Edo; and no connection between the yashiki of Matsudaira Aki no Kami and the house of a do[u]shin in Yotsuya. There is small likelihood of meeting old acquaintances. Be sure to remember that it is Densuke of Kyo[u]bashi; not Densuke of Yotsuya. This pass will answer to the gate-man. Substitutes are common. Whether it be Densuke or Taro[u]bei who cooks the rice makes no difference; provided the rice be well cooked. Taro[u]bei's service lies elsewhere; to Densuke San deep his obligation." He held out the pass, and Densuke took it.

With mutual salutation and joy in heart they parted. Densuke betook himself to the yashiki of Matsudaira Aki no Kami at Kasumigaseki. No difficulties were encountered. Taro[u]bei was not so superlative as a cook that the substitute could not be better than the original. At this place Densuke acted the part of the komatsukibatta. This is a narrow brown weevil, some three parts of an inch in length, and which stands on its head making the repeated movements of o'jigi, much as at a ceremonial encounter in Nippon. Densuke was not long in becoming well liked. He was ready to run errands for all, outside of the hours of his duties. From those higher up in the yashiki these errands brought him coin. Every month he could bring O'Mino twenty to thirty mon in "cash"; apart from the ample rations of rice and daikon bestowed on the kitchen staff. Nay: as cook at times fish could not be allowed to spoil, and fell to the perquisites of Densuke. Thus time passed; and with it the delivery of O'Mino, and the crisis in the affairs of Densuke approached. Now Geishu[u] Sama[7] was a fourth month daimyo[u]. Hence with the iris blossoms he took his departure from Edo to the government of his fief in Aki province. The Sakuji Machibugyo[u], one Takahashi Daihachiro[u], plead illness on this occasion of the exodus. As unable to accompany his lord he remained in Edo. On plea of convenience he established himself in the abandoned quarters of the ashigaru or common soldiers, situated right over Densuke's cooking stoves. Entirely removed from the bustle of the household, except during Densuke's now rare attendance, he secured complete isolation and quiet. Densuke went on cooking for Takahashi Sama, just as if it had been for the whole military household. Daihachiro[u] was a forbidding kind of man; and it was with no amiable look that he greeted Densuke when the latter appeared very late to prepare the meal. It being the 5th month 5th day (the sekku) of Tenwa 3rd year (30th May, 1683), perhaps he suspected Densuke of preparation for, and participation in, the great festival which was in progress. "Densuke is very late. This Daihachiro[u] has made the trial; to find out that he is no cook. Indeed the right hand has been severely burnt. A cook should be on time—for the meal, not the matsuri." Densuke was all apology—"Nay, Danna Sama; it is not the festival which has detained Densuke. An infant was expected to-day by the wife. Hence Densuke's neglect. Deign to pardon him."—"A baby being born is no reason why Daihachiro[u] should starve. Prepare the meal in haste. The rice is to be soft; and please see that the fish also is soft. Make the sauce not too sharp. It would give great trouble to make the bath in the quarters. In Owarimachi, or Kubomachi, good bath-houses are to be found." Densuke took the hint. At once he recommended one he thought befitting the great man's greatness. "Well: Sayonara. See that the meal is ready by the return." Off stalked Takahashi Daihachiro[u], towel dangling from his hand, and toothbrush and bran bag in his bosom.

Densuke gave a sigh of relief as he left the court. Daihachiro[u] often employed him on missions, and was never particularly generous even when the transaction was decidedly shady. Densuke was dreadfully afraid of him. Somehow he felt as if Daihachiro[u] was Fate—his fate. Turning to his stoves, the pots and the pans, the meal soon was in successful preparation. As Densuke lifted the cover to inspect the rice—splash! A great red spot spread in widening circle over the white mass. In fright Densuke clapped on the lid of the pot. He looked upward, to locate this unusual condiment to his provision. On his forehead he received in person a second consignment. Applying his finger to his head, and then to his nose—"Blood! Ah! O'Take's fierce cat has caught a rat and is chewing it in the room above. How vexatious! If the Danna should find out...." Hastily he tried to shove his equipment to one side. This would not do. The massive stone blocks forming the furnace were too heavy for Densuke to move unaided. Somewhat helpless he looked around. The rice was almost done; ready for the process of murashite, or simmering over the slow fire. The fish, carefully prepared, as yet was to be cooked. All was to be ready against the return of Daihachiro[u] Sama. Ah! Again the dropping began. As finding some channel in the rough boarding of the ceiling it came fast. His kitchen began to look like the place where the Eta (outcasts) slaughter beasts. Densuke shuddered.

Circumstances, the results involved, make the timid brave. Grasping a pole Densuke started up the ladder leading to the loft and the quarters of the ashigaru. Arrived at the top his eyes took in the poor apartment. The rafters and beams of a low-cast roof; six wretched (Loo-choo) mats on the floor, for the men to sit, and sleep, and live upon; such its bare equipment. In the middle of the mats was a great red stain. Densuke was at once attracted to it. "A cat would eat a rat; but it would not wipe up the blood." His eyes were caught by the straw basket used to store away the raincoats. This was all stained red at the bottom. Going close up he found it was wet. Perhaps the cat was at work inside. Densuke raised the cover and looked in. In alarm he sprang back. On the trunk and limbs of a body was placed a freshly severed head. Without replacing the cover, with pole uplifted over his head in defence, Densuke backed toward the ladder. His one idea was to flee this yashiki. As he reached the top of the steps the voice of Daihachiro[u] was heard below—"A pest on such filthy bath-houses; and filthier patrons.... What! No rice yet, Densuke? Ah! Where is the fellow?" Densuke looked down, to meet the altered countenance of Daihachiro[u] looking up. He retreated as the latter sprang up the ladder. Daihachiro[u] gave a rapid glance. He saw the raised cover of the basket. The next moment the bosom of Densuke's dress was harshly grasped, and he himself was forced down on the floor. Gloomily Daihachiro[u] regarded him—"Rash and curious fellow! Why not keep to your pots and pans? Densuke loses his life; and Daihachiro[u] a fool for a cook." He had drawn his sword to strike. Densuke clung to his knees in petition—"Pardon, master! Pardon! This Densuke is no idle gossip. The dripping blood threatened to spoil the meal. Thinking the cat was eating a rat, fearing the anger of the Danna Sama if the meal had to be re-cooked, Densuke came up here to chase the animal away. Thus the crime was discovered...."—"Crime!" thundered Daihachiro[u]. "Ah! This intermeddler must certainly die. By the word of a samurai...." In his terror Densuke almost put his hand over the irrevocable sentence. He spoke with life at stake. "Deign, master, to pardon Densuke. He has committed no offence; knows of no offence in others. Densuke has seen nothing. Life is a jewel, to be kept at any cost. Densuke is far too insignificant to deserve the anger of Takahashi Sama." He grovelled in the abject terror of his petition.

Takahashi Daihachiro[u] hesitated. An idea seemed to occur to him, at sight of the man's fear-struck state. He smiled grimly. "Densuke saw the head?"—"'Tis so," admitted Densuke. "But to see a head means nothing." Daihachiro[u] dragged him over to the raincoat basket. Holding him down, he grasped the head by the cue and lifted it out. "Look!" Densuke gave a cry of surprise at sight of the features of a once neighbour. "It is the head of Iseya Jusuke, the money lender of Hacho[u]bori; a hard man. Surely the Danna...."—"Just so," replied Daihachiro[u], carelessly throwing the mortuary relic back into the basket. "Borrowing five ryo[u], in six months with the interest the sum now due is twenty-five ryo[u]. Pleading illness Daihachiro[u] remained in Edo, to try and soften the usurer. He threatened a report to my lord; grew insolent beyond measure. The sword drawn, he was killed forthwith.... Here Densuke finds his use and saves his life. This body is an awkward impediment. Densuke must take and cast it away. Otherwise, a second head is added to this first. With one already to dispose of a second gives no difficulty. Decide: is it agreed? Moreover there will be payment." He took out a money belt (do[u]maki), that of Jusuke. Densuke recognized it. Daihachiro[u] had robbed Jusuke, after killing him. Lovingly he ran the golden ryo[u] through his fingers. Seventy of them Densuke counted. Daihachiro[u] picked out three ryo[u]. "Here is payment. Life is spared, and it is agreed to cast away the body." Stammered Densuke—"On the rubbish heap?" Daihachiro[u] looked at him—"You fool! Why not proclaim that Densuke murdered Jusuke? Once the gate is passed—and this Daihachiro[u] goes in company so far—it is Densuke who is the murderer of Jusuke. Remain in this place until night. Then off with the body; pitch it into the ditch of Kuroda Ke, or that of Saio[u] Dono. Daihachiro[u] now takes his meal. There is nothing wrong with it?" He looked meaningly at Densuke. The latter, with eyes on the shining sword, at once denied all defilement. He now plumed himself on the care taken of the Danna's interests. Daihachiro[u] descended; to feed at ease and keep watch over the unwilling Densuke.

In the 5th month (June) the days are long. Densuke was a coward; and for company had the corpse of the murdered Jusuke. To the poor cook the time passed was torture. He was continually going to the stair and calling down—"Danna Sama, has the time come?... Ah! The sky is light. The streets at night will be full of people with lanterns. Plainly O'Tento[u] Sama (the Sun) has forgotten to decline in the West. Alas! This Densuke is most unlucky." At last the hour of the dog was passing (7-9 P.M.). Daihachiro[u] appeared. "Now for the corpse! Wrap it up in this matting.... Coward! Is Densuke afraid of a dead man?" He took the body and cut the tendons of arms and legs. Then he placed the head on the belly. Doubling the limbs over the body so as to hold the head he wrapped the matting around the whole. The outside he covered with some red raincoats—"in case of accidental stains." Then he strongly roped the whole together. He stood back to inspect a truly admirable job. Densuke wondered how many usurers Daihachiro[u] had thus disposed of. His speculations were interrupted. Everything was ready. "Now! the loan of Densuke's back." Groaned Densuke—"Danna Sama, a request."—"What?" asked Daihachiro[u]. "Condescend to put a board between the body of Densuke and that of Jusuke. The head might seize and bite me with its teeth." Daihachiro[u] snorted with laughter, contempt, and anger mixed. "What a cowardly rascal you are! Off with it as it is." Said Densuke respectfully and firmly—"The task is that of Densuke. Condescend so far to favour him." His obvious terror threatened collapse even of the influence of Daihachiro[u]. An old remnant of the back of a corselet was at hand. Said Daihachiro[u]—"This is still better. It is metal. In it goes. Now off with you." Stalking along in the rear of the unfortunate cook, Daihachiro[u] kept within easy distance of a sword blow. At the gate he said—"Pray grant passage. Densuke takes washing of this Daihachiro[u]—bed quilts and futon to be renovated."—"Respectfully heard and understood." The gate-man let fall the bar and stood aside. Densuke passed into the street. A little way off he looked around. Takahashi Daihachiro[u] had disappeared. Now indeed it was an affair between Densuke and Jusuke.[8]



Shouldering his pack Densuke made off down the broad space lined by the white walls of the yashiki. In this quarter of the bushi the highway was not crowded with citizens and their lanterns. Densuke had high hopes of an early disposition of the incubus. He approached the ditch which protected the wall of the yashiki of Prince Kuroda. When about to put down the bundle a hail reached him from the samurai on guard at the Kuroda gate. "Heigh there, rascal! Wait!" But Densuke did not wait. In terror he gave the load a shift on his shoulder and started off almost at a run. On doing so there was a movement within. The cold sweat stood out on the unhappy man's forehead. A moment, and would the teeth of Jusuke be fastened in his shoulder? "Ah! Jusuke San! Good neighbour! This Densuke is but the wretched agent. 'Tis Daihachiro[u] Sama who killed Jusuke. Deign to pursue and haunt Takahashi Sama. Jusuke San! Jusuke San!" Fright gave him strength and boldness. The Tora no Mon (Tiger gate) of the castle should be the place of disposal. Here the ditch was deep and dark. But to its very edge swarmed the people with their lanterns on this night of festival in early summer. The moor of Kubomachi was his next goal. At this period it really was open ground. With a sigh of relief Densuke let the bundle slip from his now weary shoulders. Alive he would have laughed at the idea of carrying the portly Jusuke. Yet here the usurer bestrode him, far heavier weight than on other unfortunate clients. "Let's have a look at him; address him face to face." His hand was on the knot, when a woman's voice spoke in his ear. Densuke did not wait to ascertain the nature of her solicitation. He sped away into the darkness, toward the distant city. Without goal, he found himself at Shiodome.[9] Crossing the Shimbashi he entered on the crowded and lighted Owaricho[u]. It was only the hour of the pig (9 P.M.), and the house lanterns as yet burned brightly. He hesitated, with the idea of turning toward Shiba, of trying his luck in this still rustic district; or on the seashore, not far off.

A man close by greeted him. "Iya! Densuke San at last is found. The honoured wife suffers great anxiety. Thinking that the festival might be the attraction this Goemon set out to find you. Deign to hasten at once to Goro[u]beicho[u]." Densuke shifted his burden away from the man. Did it not already somewhat taint the air? His nostrils were wide open in alarmed inquiry. He made excuses. With his heavy pack he would follow after slowly. He was overwhelmed by his neighbour's kindness. Goemon offered to share the work. Densuke did more than refuse. Unable to shake off his companion in stolid desperation he took his way to his home in the tenement (nagaya). "Tadaima" (just now—present), he called from the doorway. Entering the shabby room he put down the furoshiki in a distant corner. Going to the Butsudan, or house altar, at once he lit the lamps. O'Mino eyed him with astonishment. "What's that?" she asked, pointing to the bundle—"Washing of Daihachiro[u] Sama"—"But Mino is ill. So situated she cannot do washing. How negligent!"—"It makes no matter," replied Densuke recklessly. O'Mino did not like the tone of his voice. She eyed him sharply. Then more pressing matters urged. "Weary as you are it is to be regretted; but money must be in hand, for the midwife and other expenses. A few hours, and this Mino will be unable to leave her bed—for three turns (weeks). There is cooking and washing to be done. Please go to Kyu[u]bei San and ask the loan of a ryo[u]. Perhaps he will give half."—"He will give nothing," was the surly reply of Densuke. "Of loans he has grown tired of late. As the uncle is the only stay in dire necessity care must be taken not to offend. Moreover, the loan is unnecessary. Here are three ryo[u]." He brought out the shining oblong pieces. O'Mino's eyes were bright with terror. "Ah! Has Densuke turned thief? How was this money secured? What has happened? Why so late in returning?" But Densuke was made confident and ready of tongue by the physical helplessness of O'Mino. "Don't be alarmed. Densuke is neither thief nor murderer. He is no Shirai Gompachi. Perhaps there is a corpse within, not washing. Would the Ojo[u]san see a head, arms, legs, freshly severed?" He laughed harshly as she turned her head from him to the bundle, then back again. "This money was given to Densuke by Takahashi Sama; in return for faithful service in an important matter. Don't be frightened. It has been honestly earned." Said O'Mino, almost to herself—"But Daihachiro[u] Sama is not one to give such a sum as three ryo[u]. He is always in debt. The wife of Jusuke San complains of his delays with her husband. However...." Confidence restored, she bade Densuke put the money in the drawer of the toilet stand. Then he was to prepare some food; for themselves, and for the neighbours ready to assist at the expected birth.

Densuke did so, his eyes shifting from O'Mino to the stove, from the stove to the deadly bundle. Finally he removed the furoshiki to their outer room, mumbling some excuse as to the foulness of a buck-basket. He returned to his cooking. Barely tasting some food O'Mino soon was sound asleep. Densuke observed her. "Ugly, rich, a very O'Bake in appearance is the Ojo[u]san; and yet she takes as husband a spiritless creature, such as is this Densuke. Is it good or bad fortune? How grateful would be her advice." He went to bed himself in the outer room; to spend a hideous night of nightmare in company with the dead Jusuke, who now did taint the air with that indefinable pollution of even the freshest corpse. Wild visions floated through the brain of Densuke. The neighbours would assemble. The food was ready. Ah! Here comes the wife of Jusuke San. She demands her husband. A moment, and Densuke was stealing from the house entrance into the darkness. The river? Ah! That was it. The canal of Hacho[u]bori was close at hand to Jusuke's own home. It would float him to his very door. Densuke soon saw himself at the river bank. No one was at hand. Splash! In went the foul burden. There it was again. But now it was Jusuke in person. "Jusuke San! Jusuke San! Pardon! 'Twas not this Densuke who killed you. Seek vengeance of Daihachiro[u] Sama. He is the murderer." In his terror he lost all fear of being heard. He shouted at the top of his lungs. But Jusuke laid a heavy hand on him. With one long drawn out groan Densuke—awoke.

O'Mino was leaning close over him, her face spectre-like with pain. Seeing that he was awake she took away her hand. "What is the matter with you? All night you have been shouting and mumbling in sleep. Just now it was 'Jusuke San! Jusuke San! Daihachiro[u] Sama!' It is indeed a matter of Jusuke San. The time of Mino is at hand; the pains begin. Go at once to the house of Jusuke, and ask his wife O'Yoshi to condescend her aid." Densuke sprang up. An idea flashed into his mind. He would go to Hacho[u]bori and make full confession. Which was the most important? O'Yoshi as confessor or as midwife? With his brain thus puzzled over an answer he started off. His last injunction to O'Mino was—"by no means meddle with the bundle of Daihachiro[u] Sama." There could have been no more direct invitation to her to do so. For a short time O'Mino did nothing but eye the strange bundle. Then she was on her knees before it, examining it. "Rain coats as wrapping! And tied with rope: a queer kind of washing. What a strange odour! Pickled daikon (nukamisozuke)?" She shook it. Something inside went gotsu-gotsu. This was too much for her curiosity. Her old suspicion came back, that Densuke had turned robber. She poked a little hole in the straw wrapping. Some kind of cloth covering was within; a kimono without doubt. Through its tissue something shone white. The kitchen knife was close at hand on the brazier (hibachi). She reached out, and in a moment the rope was severed. "Oya! Oya!" Out rolled a head. An arm, two helpless flexible legs were extended before her. With a scream of horror O'Mino fell flat on her back. Lying stretched out she uttered one sharp cry after another. The neighbouring wives came hurrying in, a stream of humanity. "What is wrong? A young wife screams not without cause. Oya! Oya! O'Mino San has given birth to a baby and a head. Iya! Head, limbs, body—a monstrous parturition!" With the woman groaning in the pain of her delivery, the wives in confusion, children flying to summon the men folk, the whole district was in an uproar. In the midst of the confusion arrived Densuke and the wife of Jusuke. As yet he had not found courage to confess. He was still "deciding." A neighbour greeted him—"Densuke San! Strange things have happened to O'Mino San. She has given birth to a head and a baby at the same time. Hasten, Densuke San! Hasten!" Densuke did hasten; but it was to disappear down the nearest byway in headlong flight. Amazed and confounded the wife of Jusuke proceeded alone to the house; as the first thing to set eyes on the head of her husband, eyes still open and glaring in death. With a cry she precipitated herself upon it; took it in her arms. The midwife, summoned in haste, parted infant from mother. Thus did O'Iwa San come forth into the world.

The affair was grave. The kenshi (coroner) was soon on the scene. O'Mino with feeble voice told what she knew. "Deign to examine into the affair beyond the surface. My husband Densuke is not the man to commit this crime. Ask the neighbours, who know him. Last night he brought three ryo[u], given him by Takahashi Daihachiro[u] Sama, the Sakuji Machibugyo[u] of Geishu[u] Ko[u]. He said that it was for important service rendered. There is no doubt that Takahashi San is the murderer. Deign to examine well; show benevolence.... Ah! This Mino shall have vengeance. For seven lives Daihachiro[u] shall be pursued...." Her eyes became injected with blood. Her breast heaved painfully in the attempt to get air. The women around her gave cries of alarm. O'Mino sank back in a pool of blood. She had died in the midst of her curse. Said one present—"This To[u]kichi would not be the honoured Sakuji Sama; nay, not for the full seven existences in human form." The others felt as he did. Even the kenshi drew up his shoulders a little at the frightful mask of the dead woman's face. He could learn but little. Kyu[u]bei, soon at hand, petitioned for the dead body of O'Mino and the custody of the infant. The neighbours corroborated the story of O'Mino; but Densuke had disappeared. Daihachiro[u] never had confidence in his agent. His preparations for flight had been made before Densuke's discovery, and almost together with Densuke he had passed out the gate of Geishu[u] Sama, with the seventy ryo[u] provided by Jusuke. Report being made to the Machibugyo[u] a "grass dividing" search was made, without result. No trace of either man was found. As for the child born under these auspicious conditions, Kyu[u]bei went at once to Tamiya Matazaemon and made report. With bowed head the old man awaited the decision. Said Matazaemon—"The name giving is to take place on the seventh night. Kyu[u]bei will not fail to be present." He did not speak further. Thus the offence of the parents was pardoned in O'Iwa the infant; the grandchild of a man and woman passing the period of middle age.[10]



It was Genroku 8th year (1695). O'Iwa, a girl of twelve years, could understand what came to her ears. In dealing with each other the Nipponese are very exact and exacting. The New Year must start with a clean balance sheet for the tradesman—all bills paid and collected. The last night of the dying year, and its last few hours; this time is the busiest and most anxious. Zensuke, the banto[u] (clerk) of the Shimaya dry goods shop, accompanied by one Jugoro[u], was passing the Shiba Kirido[u]shi. It was the hour of the tiger (3 A.M.). Of the two, Jugoro[u] was the fighting man. Juro[u]zaemon of the Shimaya had provided him with a short sword and sent him as guard to Zensuke, who would have more than three hundred ryo[u] in gold. Said Jugoro[u]—"Banto[u] San, whither now? The hour is late."—"It is never late on the o[u]misoka (31st of the 12th month)," replied Zensuke tersely. "However, there remains but one account to collect; at Nishikubo. We will hasten."—"Go on ahead," said Jugoro[u]. "A moment here for a necessity." Thus the two men became separated by nearly a cho[u] (100 yards). The district was one of yashiki and temples. The white walls of the former blended with the white carpet of snow on the ground. At any hour it was no busy place; now it was desolate. The high banks of the cutting crowned by woods and approached through the trees, made it an ideal place for a hold-up. Zensuke hesitated. He slowed his pace to allow his companion to join him. He thought he saw something move in the darkness close by. From behind a tree just before him came a samurai. Two others followed this man from the shadows. The heads of all three men were covered by zukin (hoods). They wore vizors. "Wait!" Zensuke stopped in fright. "What suspicious rascal is this, travelling the quarter at this hour? Probably some clerk making off with his master's funds. Come now! Give them into better keeping. Low fellow! You are fairly trapped." Zensuke began to retreat, but two of the men were now behind him. He began to shout for Jugoro[u]. The latter came up at a run—"Honoured Sirs! This is the Banto[u] San of the Shimaya of Honjo[u] Itcho[u]me. He is collecting the house bills. Deign not to disturb him."—"Shut up!" was the reply of the leader. "Another fellow of the same kidney. Look to him." Roughly he thrust his hand into Zensuke's bosom and began to hustle and fumble the clerk. When Jugoro[u] would interfere the two other men prevented him. With fright he saw the money belt of the banto[u] dangling from the man's hand. The nature of the affair was plain. "Heigh! Jokes don't go, honoured sirs. We are not suspicious fellows. Condescend to pardon us." As he spoke he took advantage of the negligence of his opponents, their interest in the struggle of Zensuke and their leader, to wrench himself free. At once his sword was out. Jugoro[u] was of no mean skill. None of his wardsmen could face him. One man received severe wounds in scalp and face. The other lost part of his hand. But Jugoro[u] was no match for the odds of two trained soldiers. He was soon cut down. Meanwhile Zensuke was shouting lustily for aid. At this period there was a guard called the tsujiban (cross-roads watch). It was mostly composed of oldish men not fit for active service. Such regulations as there were they observed. These were very severe; but, as with the present day police, kept them to their post. They rarely troubled themselves to patrol their district. From these men there could be little hope of aid. Just then, however, the train of some lord came in sight. With one hand the leader held Zensuke by the bosom of his robe. The hand holding the money belt was already thrust in his own bosom. In a moment it would be free. Then Zensuke would go in company with Jugoro[u] to the Yellow Fountain (in Hell). His captor gave a startled cry. "The train of Geishu[u] Sama! Lose no time!" As he wrenched himself away Zensuke sank his teeth deep into the man's hand. With a howl of pain the fellow made off, exchanging a little finger for the three hundred and twenty-five ryo[u] in Zensuke's do[u]maki.

The banto[u] crouched in conventional attitude by the roadside. His distress was plain; the prostrate body of a man evidence of some unusual condition. A samurai left the passing train and came up to investigate. "Ah! Robbery and murder: follow behind to the tsujiban. It is their affair." With moans and groans Zensuke made his report. He was indignant at the luxury of these watchmen, toasting at their fire. They noted it; looked at each other and out into the snowy night, and laughed with contempt. For a tradesman's money belt were they to disturb themselves? They questioned him harshly, in such way as to excuse any further effort on their part. Surely the thieves by this time were at the other end of Edo. Two of them, however, did accompany Zensuke to the scene of the hold-up. Casting an eye over Jugoro[u]'s mangled corpse, said one—"A good fight: the occasion has been missed. As perhaps the criminal this man is to be bound. Probably his intent was to run away with the master's funds." Roughly they seized him, hustled him back to the guardhouse. Trussed up Zensuke had to spend the hours in alarm and fear. Luckily the kenshi soon appeared. It was the o[u]misoka. No official business would be performed during the three days following. Jugoro[u] could hardly exercise patience and remain as he was for that space of time. So the examination was duly held. The Shimaya soon secured the body of Jugoro[u] and the release of Zensuke. The latter's evidence was put on record; none too satisfactory, as the concealing zukin prevented any recognition or description of the features of the assailants. He only knew of the cries of impatience at wounds received, and knew that he had left his mark on his own opponent. How then were they to be run down? The kenshi showed some impatience. Said he to the captain of the tsujiban—"Why truss up this man, even though a tradesman? He has all his own fingers, and the corpse lacks none." He touched the severed finger with his baton. With this all were dismissed, and to all seeming the affair was forgotten.

The Tokugawa had their plain-clothes police. One of the most noted was Magome Yaemon of Hacho[u]bori. His great grandfather had captured Marubashi Chuya, of note in the rebellion of Yui Shosetsu at the time of the fourth Shogun Iyetsuna Ko[u]. One day this Magome Dono, in company with a yakunin (constable) named Kuma, was rummaging the poorer districts of Shitaya Hiroko[u]ji. The two men were disguised as charcoal burners, and attracted little attention. All the legitimate profession in the way of medicine and pharmacy had been ransacked by the magistrate (machibugyo[u]) of the south district. Yaemon felt sure that there were still some by-ways. "Who's that fellow?" he asked Kuma. The constable laughed. "He's a sunekiri (shin-cutter). The rascals can be told by their tough dark blue cotton socks, the coarse straw sandals, and the banded leggings. Deign to note the long staff he carries. They peddle plasters—shin plasters, guaranteed to cure any wound, to stop any flow of blood. A man's arm hangs but by a strip of skin; the blood flows in torrents. Apply the plaster and the flow ceases at once, the arm heals. They drive a roaring trade, even among the bushi (samurai); selling a shell here, two there. As for their real usefulness...." He laughed.[12] They followed after the man and soon came to a guard house. Said Magome San—"Detain that man yonder. He is to be examined." The ward officer was a little surprised—"Respectfully heard and understood. It is old Yamabayashi Yo[u]gen." Soon the man entered the guard house. Said the official drily—"Magome Dono is here to talk with Yo[u]gen. What has he been up to?" But the old fellow was confident. "Thanks are felt." With the ease of the righteous and prosperous he passed into the presence of Yaemon. The latter greeted him with a non-official genial smile. "Ah! This is Yamabayashi Yo[u]gen, the head of the Sunekiri. And business?"—"Truly this Yo[u]gen is grateful. Man was born with teeth. Men and women still seek each other's company. So long as such endures Yo[u]gen finds profit."—"And plasters?"—"They are the affair of To[u]kichi. Would his worship deign to examine him ... condescend dismissal. At once he presents himself."

Thus in short order the straight haired, unshaven, low browed To[u]kichi stuck his head into the Sanbashi guard house. "Deign to pardon this To[u]kichi. The honoured benevolence...." The ward officer eyed him knowingly and quizzically. "Shut up! Magome Dono has questions to ask about clients. Wait until the questions deal with the doings of To[u]kichi. That will be well. Then it will be time enough to lie. Meanwhile, be sure and tell the truth." With this disinterested advice To[u]kichi was passed to the presence. Once more conscience spoke louder than caution. "The honoured benevolence, the honoured pity; condescend the honoured examination into the innocence of To[u]kichi." Yaemon laughed. "Fortunately it is not a matter of To[u]kichi, but of his plasters. Who bought these at this year's Sho[u]gwatsu (New Year)? Be careful in answer. The case is a bad one." To[u]kichi considered. "The first day of the New Year a man came. His purchase of salve was large. In the course of the past three months he has been many times to buy. His visits now are wider spaced, and he praises the goods—as he ought. No hand ever had a worse poisoned wound. He...."—"Age and appearance?" interrupted Yaemon, now all attention. He had struck a trail. "Perhaps fifty years; fair of complexion, tall, and stout. By his lordly manner he must at least be a go-kenin, or a charlatan." Who was this man? Yaemon felt sure that he was about to learn something of interest. Kuma was given his instructions. "Go daily to the shop of this man and receive his report. As to the samurai in question be circumspect. Evidently he is no ordinary person. A samurai is to be summoned, not disgraced by arrest—if he is a samurai." So Kuma with several aides established himself in the rear of To[u]kichi's shop. The man not having put in an appearance for several weeks, the wait, if uncertain, was soon rewarded. On the 25th day of the 3rd month (May) he presented himself. Kuma recognized him at once by the description; sooner than To[u]kichi, who was engaged in filling his little shells with the marvellous salve. The officer's decision was prompt. At a call To[u]kichi turned from his drugs. "Ah! the honoured Sir. And the arm, does it honourably progress?"—"Progress could not be better. This is probably the last visit." In replying the man eyed To[u]kichi with some astonishment. The latter made his bows, first to the newcomer, then to the indefinite rear of the establishment. "Indeed the drug is all that is claimed for it. The wound being poisoned, at one time it looked as if the hand, nay arm, must go. These House doctors are notoriously good for nothing. Just as nothing can surpass your product, good leech. Here is money for two shells of its virtues." He held out a silver bu.[13] Busied with his preparations To[u]kichi looked in vain toward the rear apartment. After as long delay as he could contrive he passed the shells and a heap of copper change over to the customer. As soon as the latter had left the shop To[u]kichi bolted for the rear. Kuma was gone. His aides were calmly smoking their pipes and drinking the poor tea (bancha) of To[u]kichi.

Kuma had little trouble in following his man to Okachimachi in Shitaya. He found near by a shop for the sale of everything, from tobacco to daikon (radish), both odoriferous, yet lacking perfume. Said Kuma—"A question or so: this tall samurai, an oldish man, who lives close by; who is he?" The woman in charge hesitated. Then dislike overcame discretion. "Ah! With the hand wrapped in a bandage; his name is Sakurai Kichiro[u] Tayu. Truly he is a bad man. That he should quarrel with his own class is no great matter. Maimed as he is, thrice report has been made to the guard house, but in each case he has escaped further process. He is a dreadful fellow; one who never pays a debt, yet to whom it is dangerous to refuse credit. Already nearly a ryo[u] is due to this Echigoya. It has been the bad luck to support him and his family during the past six months." Said Kuma—"Thus maimed, to hold his own in quarrels he must be a notable fencer as well as brawler. Was the wound so received?"—"Iya! That is not known. Some quarrel at the New Year's festivities probably was the cause. Before that time he was sound enough." She laughed. "He has two friends; Kahei San and Miemon San. They are birds of a feather; and all partly plucked. Perhaps they quarrelled in company, but if so have made it up. Sakurai San is a match for the two others." She looked at Kuma, to see if he had more to say. Indifferent he picked out a strand of tobacco. "He shouldered this Go[u]bei into the ditch close by here. Fortunate is it to have escaped worse injury." Satisfied with his inquiries he took his way in haste to his master. The eyes of Yaemon and his aid shone with enjoyment. Surely they had the men of the Shiba Kirido[u]shi.

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse