Japanese Text Initiative
1st Editionpp. 60-68
Prepared for the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center.
I am a priest from the Capital. I have never seen the East country, and now I am minded to go there on pilgrimage.[ He describes the journey, walking slowly round the stage. ]
Hey, you priest, I have something to say to you!
What is it you would say to me?
To-day is some one's birthday. I beg of you to pray for the salvation of his soul.
I have left the World, and it is my business now to say such prayers; but of whom am I to think when I pray?
There is no need to know his name. He is buried in that tomb over there, among the rushes to this side of the pine tree. It is because he cannot get free 1 that he needs your prayers.
No, no; it will not do. I cannot pray for him unless I know his name.
Pray, none the less. For it is written, "All the creatures of the world shall be profited.
There shall be no distinction."
From dying and being born.
Deliver him, oh deliver him!
Then come back to my cottage with me and pass the night there.
I will come.[ They go into the cottage, which is represented by a wicker framework at the front. ]
Listen! I thought you were taking me to where there would be a chapel, so that I could begin my prayers. But here I can see no painted picture nor carven image that I could put up. There is nothing on the wall but a great pike, -- no handstaff, but only an iron crowbar; and other weapons of war are nailed up. What is the reason of this?
You must know that when I first took the vows of priesthood I went round from village to village here, to Tarui, Auhaka and Akasaka -- there is no end to them, but I know all the roads, -- through the tall grass at Aono and the thick woods of Koyasu, night or day, rain or fine. For I was a hill-bandit in those days, a thief of the night, tilting baggage from mules' backs; even stripping servant-girls of their clothes, as they went from farm to farm, and leaving them sobbing.
Then it was that I used to take with me that pike there and waving it in their faces, "Stand and deliver!" I would cry.
But at last a time came when it was not so. 2 And after that time I was glad enough to find shelter even in such a place as this. I yielded my will and was content. For at last I had indeed resolved to leave the hateful World.
Oh petty prowess of those days!
"But I must have done, or dawn will find me talking still. Go to your rest, Sir; and I too will doze awhile." So he spoke, and seemed to go into the bedroom. But suddenly the cottage vanished: nothing was left but the tall grass. It was under the shadow of a pine-tree that he 7 had rested![ There is usually an interlude to occupy the time while Kumasaka is changing his costume. An inhabitant of Akasaka tells stories of Kumasaka's exploits. ]
I have seen strange things. I cannot sleep, no, not even for a while as little as the space between the antlers of a young stag. Under this autumn-winded pine-tree lying, all night long I will perform a service of chanted prayer. 8
The wind is rising in the south-east. The clouds of the north-west are shifting; it is a dark night. A wild wind is sweeping the woods under the hill.
See how the branches are heaving.
The moon does not rise till dawn to-night; and even when she rises she will be covered.
Send along the order for an assault![ Recollecting himself. ]
The whole heart divided between bow-hand and rein-hand, -- oh the sin of it! For ever seizing another's treasure! Look, look on my misery, how my heart clings to the World!
If you are Kumasaka himself, tell me the story of those days.
There was a merchant, a trafficker in gold, called Kichiji of the Third Ward. Each year he brought together a great store, and loading it in bales carried it up-country. And thinking to waylay him I summoned divers trusty men. . . .
Tell me the names of those that were chosen by you and the countries they came from.
There was Kakujo of Kawachi, and the brothers Surihari that had no rivals in fencing.
Well, and from within the City itself among many there were --
There was Emon of the Third Ward and Kozaru of Mibu.
Skilful torch-throwers, in broken-attack
Their like will never be seen.
And from the North country, from Echizen
There was Matsuwaka of Asau and Kuro of Mikuni.
And from the country of Kaga, from Kumasaka
There was this Chohan, the first of them, a great hand at deeds of villainy; and with him seventy men of the band.
On all the roads where Kichiji might be passing, up hill and down dale on every halting-place they spied, till at last
Here at the Inn of Akasaka we found him, -- a fine place, with many roads leading from it. We set watch upon the place. The merchants had sent for women. From nightfall they feasted. They roystered the hours away --
He was wounded many times, till the fierce strength of his spirit weakened and weakened. Like dew upon the moss that grows.