By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A spring-time case : Otsuya koroshi
Author: Tanizaki, Jun'ichiro
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A spring-time case : Otsuya koroshi" ***

  Transcriber’s Notes

  Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed into the Public

  Misspelled words have been corrected. These are identified by
  ♦♠♥♣ symbols in the text and are shown immediately below the
  paragraph in which they appear.

  Details and other notes may be found at the end of this eBook.


                        The Japan Times’ Series


                          A Spring-Time Case

                           (OTSUYA KOROSHI)


                          JUN-ICHIRO TANIZAKI



                             ZENCHI IWADO

                            THE JAPAN TIMES


During the eras of Meiji and Taisho (1868–1926) the literary life of
Japan was enriched by a wealth of many notable productions, worthy of a
place in the atheneum of the world; but strange to say, no attempt has,
as yet, been made to embody them into any part of the works forming an
international library. It is true, that some Japanese novels have been
rendered into English, but such ventures have been few and far between,
and in any case, they have been of a fragmentary nature and cannot be
considered as a part of any systematic attempt.

Literature is the mirror of a living age in which is reflected the life
of a people. It is through literature, more than any other medium,
that students of the present and future eras may more readily gain an
insight into the characteristics and life of a people. The publishers
are convinced that the placing before the world, of representative
Japanese writings and fictions, will render an inestimable service
by bringing to it fuller and better understanding of Japan and the

“Masterpieces of the Contemporary Japanese Fiction” comprises a few of
the most representative works of the age, embodying as it does, the
favourite productions of those authors, and which have been rendered
into English as faithfully as it has been within the power of the
translators to do so.

In this present undertaking, the publishers are not actuated by any
other motive but to allow the world to understand, and to see Japan, as
she really is.

                                                     THE PUBLISHERS.

  Tokyo, June, 1927.

                           TRANSLATOR’S NOTE

Junichiro ♦Tanizaki, the author of “O-Tsuya Koroshi,” presented here
under the title of “A Springtime Case,” is a man just turning the age
of forty. His appearance on the literary stage of Japan some eighteen
years ago, made with a sensational, because so sudden, burst into
fame, and his steady climb since to the pinnacle of a literary career,
where he maintains himself to this day, with the unchallenged glory of
Phœbus’ own orb,—will preclude argument against singling him out as one
of the most popular, and even remarkable, authors of present-day Japan.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”

He is remarkable for a two-fold reason. First, because his popularity
and fame have shown such endurance as rarely seen in this country,
where the mind of the people is so fleeting and fickle as the very God
of Fortune they are wont to bewail of in their life and literature.
A new artist on the stage to fawn upon the smile of the public,—for
a moment,—only to slink off as swiftly never to return. Not the
fault, perhaps, so much of the artist himself as of the public
which is riding upon a tide too fast to catch its breath or pause
to scan whither it is bound. It has been swept on into an eddy that
occurs where the inexorable in-flow out of the West meets against the
thought-current of its own, still flowing on its course with a force
out of its many centuries. Under the sway of its own mind divided
betwixt a mad rush for the new and a guard over the old, it scarce
knows yet where to plant its feet and cast for bearings for the course
for its mind to pursue for the future. And the artist who wishes to
cull his fortune amidst such existing orders of life, is left all to
himself to cast about and make shift for himself the best he knows
how; and his judgment proves as often in error as his effort turns out
futile. The position ♦Tanizaki has held for a period of nearly two
decades with unwaning power, is in itself an eloquent tribute to his
own achievement, if the mass is any judge of literary quality.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”

He is remarkable also for the perspicuity and independence of his mind,
which has absorbed the manifold light of the new age only to flash back
a light, all its own, that takes in its clearness the colour of all
that upon which it falls, in its sweeping flight of imagination,
and exalts it with touches of exquisitely variable play and radiant
depth. His achievement is the work of a mind wherein the true artist of
his race rules with predominant force the domain of beauty over which
he has come to hold empire; it is a voice out of the past and a voice
to the new, raised in the praise of that romance which his people have
treasured since their time-old days. Influence of the Western art which
has been accepted by the younger writers of the country only to swamp
out their own creative effort, has in his case served to broaden his
outlook on life and quicken his appreciation of life, often in such
aspects as had had to remain screened from his forbears.

Himself a wide reader of Western literature, a student of Poe, George
Moore, Baudelaire, Gautier, Balzac, and other masters, he has always
shown a capacity for range and depth; a quality excelled only by his
faith in the tenets of the school of which he is the creator. Such
influence as he has gleaned out of the West, appears to have been
hitched to his vehicle, a servant of his work and purpose, scarcely
discernible save in a happy blending with the colourings of his own.

Earlier works of ♦Tanizaki came forth when the literature of his
country was passing through the most dismal period in its recent
history. Against a school of writers who were desperately holding
together against the inroad of new influence, there was a section of
younger minds which was daubing in imbecile imitation of the worst
that the canons of Continental literature had to offer. The public had
turned its back upon this tribe of writers, slow to think and clumsy of
hand. It was in those days of the country’s literature at its lowest
ebb that ♦Tanizaki stalked forth and proclaimed to set up what he
conceived to be new deities in art.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”

Many of the writers who find themselves to-day in the fore rank of
Japan’s literary activity owe their success, directly or indirectly,
to the stimulation, and even inspiration in not a few cases, given by
♦Tanizaki’s work; and some of these were amongst those who were the
first to rally under the standard hoisted by the new prophet of the
hour. Indeed, he is due for a large measure of credit for the new age
on which the literature of Japan has now entered with a fair spurt of
vigor and a supreme confidence, an age of not a few achievements of
intrinsic value, with promises of even greater things for the future.
This accrediting is but fair acknowledgment of the work of the
writer who has been a decidedly predominant force amongst those helpful
in ushering in this new age.

  ♦ “Tanizaki’s” replaced with “Tanizaki’s”

Beyond this, it would perhaps be difficult to go in estimating the
position of the writer who is now at the zenith of his career, and has
still “so many springs and autumns,” as the native phrase goes, to turn
out the work of his maturing mind, as even he continues to do.

Broad of sympathy and versatile of mind, ♦Tanizaki has turned his hand
to more than one form of literary work. Scarcely less successful in
drama than in novels or tales of smaller scope, it would probably be
best to turn to his dramatic work to seek for his expression on life.
However, it is in his briefer stories that his artistic self seems more
congenial with itself, and certainly more enticingly attractive. The
subject of the present ♠translation, chosen from such a point of view,
may not be precisely typical of his mind, but typical certainly is it
of his art.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”
  ♠ “translatin” replaced with “translation”

A work of a dozen years ago, “O-Tsuya Koroshi” has been followed by
products where the author has excelled himself at his own method,
where his artist hand created characters of more compelling force,
where his imagination has woven tapestries of finer colours,—works of
deeper feelings and more polished craftsmanship; yet, amongst such an
array of brilliant records, does the present story stand out, for the
artistry of its own no less than for the sustaining power of popularity
it has displayed. A happier selection of the subject may have been
possible for the introduction of the present author abroad; but scarce
none, I am almost convinced, wherein to show to better advantage the
artist ♦Tanizaki. The plot of the story develops under circumstances
that must be those of strange unfamiliarity to the Western reader, and
the characters are sometimes concerned with problems that must be of
no less peculiarity, if not lacking in a quaint appeal of their own.
These are, however, details slightly to be treated, certain not to be
an obstruction in following the thread of the narrative, making almost
negligible demand on the imagination of the reader.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”

For the translation itself, many apologies are due, no doubt; but less
explanation will be necessary, I trust. If it has not been done with
the deftness of one “to the manner born,” of which I am more than
convinced, it has at least been kept faithful, so much so as
to present the process of thought and the mode of expression in the
order it was originally conceived and expressed by the author. The
translation in itself is an acknowledged defeat in its purpose, for it
falls below the artistic heights attained in the original.

Departures from the original text, which are not so many, have
been made only where the translator deemed such to be necessary as
inevitable considerations for a right, if not an exact, presentation of
the tone conveyed in the Japanese, or where,—and these are few indeed,
—a literal translation would result in such ludicrous incongruities as
never meant by the author.

In the face of such obvious difficulties, the present undertaking has
been pursued, and perhaps, with more or less the proverbial courage of
one who treads where the angel dreads, in the conviction that modern
Japan, which has forced itself into a worldly recognition in the armed
profession, should be weighed for achievement of its mind along some
different path, where its passion of a more peaceful sort, though
no less strong, and where aspirations of its living mind, are
concerned; where its people feel its true honour to be weighing in the

And it is my prayer to the Eight Million Deities that are told to guard
over the shores of Japan, that the present work may speed on its way
overseas, and, though seen through a filmy screen brought on its face
of beauty in the process of recasting in a strange language, may meet
with such reception as it merits in those countries where the people
have shown themselves so ready with their sympathy in the cases of
_Hiroshige_ and _Hokusai_, of whom ♦Tanizaki, different as the mode
may be, chosen for the expression of his artistic soul, is certainly a
disciple of no mean distinction.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”

                                                      ♦ZENCHI IWADO.

  ♦ “ZENCH” replaced with “ZENCHI”

  _Kamakura, May, 1927._

                            AN INTRODUCTION

The scenes of the present story are laid in the town of Tokyo which in
those days was still known as “Yeddo”—a name to-day seldom mentioned
save in connection with that period of some two hundred years leading
close up to the dawn of the Modern Age of Japan, generally known as the
Restoration, when the fine arts and literature of the country, with
their centre at Yeddo, reached a state of splendid activity, with few
parallels in the history of the country. It were not going too far,
in fact, to say that the name of “Yeddo” to-day conjures up a period
of peace, with the whole nation glorying in a free and full enjoyment
of life, following the dictates of their own hearts and minds, in a
complete deliverance of spirit from the black reign of the War God. The
nation which had returned to peace some eighty years since, and claimed
the rightful heritage of life which had been denied them under war-like
conditions prevailing throughout a period of some three hundred
years, had by this time developed a civilization quite unique for its
romantic fervour. Not a civilization to be considered in terms of
“steam whistles and bicycles,” to be sure; but a state of artistic
emancipation where the soul of man was honoured and the aspirations
of mind exalted. Under the administration of the Shogun Government,
the country fared well, and even waxed rich in so far as the welfare
of the people was concerned. The piper piped; the people danced. The
blade hitherto kept whetted sharp was now allowed to rest rusting in
its sheath. The hand hardened in war-like training had now turned to
the plough or to the brush and the chisel. Art grew rich and literature
advanced. In the age of the Genroku, the new spirit of the country had
reached a state of ripened mellowness; its name carries to this day
visions of vivid colours and brilliant freedom.

It is back to those times of the “Yeddo” period, deep into the life
of that age, that ♦Tanizaki takes us in his present story. If he has
treated the subject with a modern touch in some aspects, his canvas
is nevertheless done true to the tradition which masters of the age
have left in their supreme understanding of colour and line. ♦Tanizaki
consistently displays himself an unerring judge of the tools at his
service, and is ever sure of the effect to be attained. His colours
are striking, if often bold; his lines always forceful, because simple.

  ♦ “Tanisaki” replaced with “Tanizaki”

The story concerns a great deal with one particular side of Japanese
life, as it existed in those days of old, and even continues to this
day with but slight changes in certain aspects. It is just the side
where the impassive mask of the Japanese stoic is thrust aside in a
true enjoyment of life; where the best and sweetest in the Japanese
woman is brought forth for the benefit of man. It is a world of the
“geisha” which is generally translated as “singing girls,” an epithet
so misleading, because whatever vocal talent they may be called upon
to display is given not on the stage or in the public, as it suggests,
but is given for the entertainment of men who have elected to confine
themselves in their private company. Not a community where licensed
vice is ♦trafficked; but an institution where the woman’s artistic
attainments and wits, no less than her personality, are thrown in
direct touch with men within encompassed society,—a system born out of
a moral notion that disfavoured open association between men and women.

  ♦ “trafficed” replaced with “trafficked”

Here one particular class of girls and women enjoying social
freedom in much the same sense as we understand it to-day. So different
from their sisters, more honoured but more unfortunate in many points,
the geisha are trained in full consciousness of social opportunities,
developing such qualities as make their personalties attractively
pleasing, and often make possible their own advancement in life
marrying into fortune or position. If the men of the country, warped
in their view of womanhood by the dictates of certain moral schools,
have failed to appreciate their women more fully than they have done
in the past, they have here, at least, developed a society of unique
arrangement to do more justice to their women, limited though they are
in number, and offer them such opportunity as is denied to the ordinary
woman. Nor would it be too sweeping a statement to say that much of
the best in Japanese womanhood has been brought out only in the girls
and women of the geisha class, who are, at the least, the real moving
spirit of social life of the country.

Those are ♦generalities; not an attempt to deny the existence of two
sides to anything. There are geisha who cheapen or even disgrace their
profession, beside those who grace it, make it dear not only to
the hearts of men, but even of women. If wine flows too freely where
geisha are present, it is not so much their fault as the men’s. If
there are paramour loves where they are concerned, those things are but
incidents, for which the geisha should no more be censured than the men.

  ♦ “generalties” replaced with “generalities”

Brief reference to what is generally known as “tea-house,” “ryori-ya”
or restaurant, and “geisha house,” will not be out of place here,
though not exactly essential to the intelligent following of events in
the story. The geisha are almost in all cases brought together to live
within some particular parts of town. This is more for the reason of
convenience than from any other consideration. It is necessary for them
to be within a circumscribed area so as to keep themselves within easy
reach of the “kem-ban,” or the call station which receives the calls
for geisha from “tea-houses”, or restaurants, and transfers them to the
geisha houses.

Girls of the profession, as a rule, live or register themselves at
the houses which are officially known and approved of as places for
the conducting of such business. It is often a case that a house of
this description advances money to a girl just entering on her
professional career, an event involving considerable outlay mostly
in lines of dresses and personal ornaments. The house which charges
a certain rate for the girl’s registration, and often for board,
too, takes for itself a certain percentage on her earnings, toward
liquidation of such advanced accounts as there are.

The geisha herself is paid by the hour while she is present at any
social party where her attendance is called, and such gatherings take
place at tea-houses or restaurants. Whatever she may receive from
guests, or her particular patron, as often the case, through her own
charm, is accounted to her house which also shares in the benefit.
When she has paid off her account to her house, she is financially
free either to establish herself in the trade on her own account, or
remain under the same registration to dispense with time and care to
be claimed as mistress of such place, or quit the profession if she be
so disposed. It is no rare occurrence that a geisha, smiled upon by
fortune, ingratiates herself into sufficient capitalistic support to
maintain her own house with several younger ones working under her. It
is this kind of house that _Tsuya_, the heroine of the story, begins to
manage, after she has gone a little way along her career in the geisha
business which she espouses under the sway of her impelling heart as
much as through certain circumstances thrust upon her life.

The party to which a geisha is called in takes place at such a
restaurant, when not at a “tea-house,” as has special working
arrangements with the “kem-ban,” or the call station. A “tea-house”
which in many respects partakes of the character of a restaurant, is
a name as vague as it is misleading; for it is a place for the sole
purpose of holding geisha parties, and what is taken there is of more
vigorous power than the green leaves beverage.

In addition to receiving and dispatching calls for geisha, the duties
of the “kem-ban” include that of keeping track of their movements, from
one place to another, and the work connected with keeping straight all
their accounts receivable from tea-houses and restaurants. It sends
out a man attendant to escort a geisha on her way to and back from
tea-houses and restaurants. It is the character of such a man escort
that ♦_Shinsuké_, the hero of the present story, assumes in going out
to the country villa of the military officer.

  ♦ “Shinsuke” replaced with “Shinsuké”

The liking that _Tsuya_ seems to display for the geisha profession,
even while living in comfort and apparent happiness under her father’s
roof, is but an instance of the sentiment shared by so many of her
sex. Always originators or forerunners in fashion, freely adored by
men, independent of thought and aloof from cumbersome considerations
of the conventions, it is no marvel that the geisha should appeal to
so many tender hearts of the country. _Tsuya’s_ partiality for the gay
profession is in no wise to be accounted as a weakness arising from
that particular side of her nature which is brought out in such glaring
colours later in her life. Hers was decidedly a romantic temperament.
Once placed in that life, which had ever held out to her alluring
promises, she was drunk with her own brilliant success. In the mad
whirl of joy and happiness, she allowed herself to be carried off until
she lost sight of her own soul at some moments. She was too young and
♦too inexperienced to fight against the temptations besetting her path.
She was even pathetic in her impetuosity to pursue what she fancied to
be the rightful guerdon of beauty and wit.

  ♦ “two” replaced with “too”

Her cup of joy was poisoned, and she knew it not. Blinded by her
own brilliance, flattered by the homage so willingly offered at the
alter of her beauty, she chose what she took to be a road of spring and
glory, but to be deceived. For the way led not to a queen’s garden, but
strayed off and trailed into a mist, such as oft seen across the face
of the sky at the time of the cherry blossoms. Her own life is a song
of the cherry,—beautiful, but for its beauty doth God grant it a spring
of but a few fleeting days of glory.

                                                     THE TRANSLATOR.

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS

          TRANSLATOR’S NOTE                           i
          AN INTRODUCTION                            ix
          PART I                                      3
          PART II                                    27
          PART III                                   67
          PART IV                                   117
          PART V                                    135
          Transcriber’s Notes

                                                              Part I

                                PART I

It was around the tolling of the fifth hour in the early evening that
a fish monger, of the next street, in a flush of drink and a rush of
self-imposed urgency, sped into the pawn-broking shop of Suruga-ya
on one of his visits, which were more regular than his financial
programme ever seemed to be. He jingled money in his breast pocket,
singled forth two silver pieces, quite bright and new, just given him,
as he explained, by an officer living in the Ginza way, and asked
back such of his dress things as he was evidently to need for the New
Year’s holidays,—livery coat, outer gown, and so forth, now neglected
for three months in pledge. After he left, the business part of the
Suruga-ya, usually so lively, was again to remain quiet without a
single more caller to break the stillness, a thing probably accountable
by the bad weather that evening. Shinsuké who had been buried in
reading, his face between his hands, just behind the counter railing,
literature served in a yellow paper cover of no more importance than
its author, now remembered the little brazier under his nose and,
trying to stir up the fire, well-nigh gone out, muttered to himself,
“What a cold evening!” Then, reaching out his hand to the apprentice
boy, sitting two or three feet off, dozing away in an undisturbed nap,
Shinsuké pulled his ear.

“Shota, wake up for a moment. Sorry to send you out in this sleeting
miserable weather, but I want you to run over like a good boy to the
macaroni house, on the Muramatsu-cho[1], and tell them to bring two
bowls of hot boiled macaroni with fried fish for me,—and take for
yourself whatever you like, too; it’s our bargain.”

“That’s fine! Now that I’m awake, I feel cold and a little hungry.
Before the Master comes back, I’ll let you treat me to something warm
and nice.”

The youngster bestirred himself, tucking up the lower part of his
clothes and, snatching down a broad-brimmed rain hat hung near the
entrance, sailed out into the sleet and cold.

In the meantime, Shinsuké straightened up the things on the counter,
put the padlock on the store-house, and closed the main entrance door
on the street. “We shall be late coming home to-night, may even have
to stay over till to-morrow morning;—see carefully that the doors are
all fastened, and everything is in order”: said his master in the
early evening, when he was leaving with his wife, on their visit to a
relative over in Yotsuya, just gone into mourning. Remembering this
parting order, Shinsuké, a lantern in hand, set out looking carefully
around, from the kitchen door to the back entrance gate, up the flight
of steps leading from the maids’ quarters, to the doors on the balcony
perched on the roof for clothes line, making sure of bars and bolts
everywhere. As he retraced his way down the steps, his lantern threw
its dim light bringing out of the darkness the faces of two servant
maids, slumbering away so comfortably under heavy bed-clothes.

“Are you already asleep, O-Tami don[2]?” His query, though voiced in
a tone raised above the ordinary, received no response. Softening
his footfalls even more carefully, through the hallway, whose wood
floor was so cold for his bare feet to hug, he came round to look over
a train of sliding panels that screened the verandah from a space of
inner garden.

The verandah led to one of the best rooms of the house, where a
bed-room lantern shed an elfish light upon the paper doors. It was
generally used by the master and mistress for their living room, fitted
as it was, with the family mortuary shrine, a large sized brazier, a
tea cupboard, and other articles of household ♦paraphernalia. To-night,
Tsuya, the young mistress, had evidently taken it for herself and gone
to bed there.

  ♦ “paraphanalia” replaced with “paraphernalia”

“Ah, how warm and snug it must be in that room there!” As the thought
flashed through his mind, suddenly he seemed to find himself face to
face with the miseries of his own wretched self, of the life meted out
to a man in menial servitude; his eyes, aglow with envy, lingered on
the soft glow on the paper.

He had now for a full year nursed a deep love for Tsuya whose feeling
toward him was as tender and enduring. However madly they might love
one another, his master’s daughter was out of his reach. Had he been
born to a family of name and means, he would claim this beautiful Tsuya
as his own. It was his wont thus to lament his own misfortunes in life.

It must have been close upon midnight. The cold air relentlessly oozed
its way into the house. While at a pause in the verandah hall, Shinsuké
shivered as he had to feel the cold draughts coming in between the
sliding doors. Out of the warm depths of his bosom, he pulled out his
hand to take the lantern and relieve his right hand, which was now
chilled to the aching point, and on which he kept blowing his warm
breath. He could feel his thighs so bare and chilly in their touch
against each other, as if they were not his own. His shivers, however,
may not have been accountable by the cold only.

“Is that you. Shin don?” hailed Tsuya, just as he was going past
outside the sleeping room. She either awoke just then, or had been
awake throughout. Then, she apparently opened the shade over the
globe-shaped lantern to turn it toward the hall, for the glow on the
paper outside was thrown into a brighter light.

“Yes, it is myself. The master’s late, and I thought I should go around
to make sure about the doors.”

“You’re ready to turn in, now?”

“No, I shall just stay up all night until the Master comes home.”

As he spoke those words, he lowered himself on his knees outside the
room, placing his hands down, correctly putting himself in an attitude
of respect due to the daughter of the family. Almost at the same
instant, the screen doors were pushed back, opening about a foot wide.

“It is cold out there; come in and shut the doors behind.” Combing back
her stray hair, she sat up amidst the silk quilts, her long-lashed eyes
fixed, in open adoration, on the face of the man, which, even in a
subdued light, appeared so white and handsome.

“They have all gone to bed, I suppose?”

“No, young mistress, I expect Shota back from his errand every second.
As soon as he comes, he shall be sent to bed, and until then—”

“Oh, patience and more patience until I shall have no more!— When we
have got to-night such a chance as we can ever hope for! Now, listen,
Shin don, I hope you, after all this time, are ready to-night, with
your mind made up?”

Tsuya, covered only by her under-robe of bright red dappled crepe
which clung close to the lines of her form, sat unmindful of her white
feet peeking out, in their dainty arrangement, from under the quilts,
as she put her hands together, as in the manner of prayer offering.

“Whatever do you mean by being ready and so forth, my young mistress?”

Overcome by the force of the beauty before him, a force that seemed
to sweep away his soul, the man lifted his eyes in a stare almost too
frank and childlike for his twenty years, and waited for the very
answer he was afraid to give to himself.

“Run away with me to Fukagawa, to-night. That’s all I’m going to say.
See how I pray you!”

“Impossible,” he said; but he was really troubled to think how he might
steel himself against what seemed to tempt him with a stupendous force
of voluptuous bewitchery. Since he came into the service here, as a
young lad of fourteen, he had got on so well that his master had come
to repose in him so much confidence as he would do in few young men. A
year or two more of patience and good work, and his master would set
him up in business and, if he could not have the happiness of marrying
the lovely Tsuya, he would be on his way to whatever fortune and
name he might desire. What, then, would be the happiness of his old
parents who were living only in hopes of such time? The idea of taking
advantage of a girl still too young, the daughter of his own master,
was preposterous; he could not—he should not do it; repeatedly he told

“So, Shin don, you’ve forgotten what you promised me the other day,
have you? Yes, now I see it all through. It was only a plaything you
meant to make of me. And when it came to that, you would throw me away.
It is as plain as I would ever care to see it.”

“It is nothing of the sort that—”

He was about to extend his comforting hands to Tsuya who was heaving
her shoulders with half-stifled sobs, when there came a loud and
persistent knocking on the front door. Taken aback by the youngster’s
announcement of himself, Shinsuké suddenly sprang to his feet, lantern
in hand, a picture of consternation.

“Later, then, I shall be sure to come when Shota has been sent to bed,
and we shall talk it over, as you please. If you are of so strong a
mind as you say, I will think once again, and—”

It was after some moments of a tender struggle that he could
♦detach himself from Tsuya’s clinging hands. Returning to the front
part of the house, again fully composed, he hastened to open the small

  ♦ “detatch” replaced with “detach”

“Oh, I’m frozen!” cried the boy, as he darted in, almost head over

“It’s turned to snow. Shin don,” he reported, brushing off the snow on
the broad hat. “It looks sure like going to pile up thick to-night.”

                   *       *       *       *       *

It was about an hour later that the young apprentice, having done
justice to his share of the mid-night repast, crawled into bed and fell
asleep. The wind seemed to have blown itself out; but the snow was
evidently going on, for a dead stillness had settled outside on the
streets whence all life had been driven off to slumber. Shinsuké came
back with a few lumps of charcoal which he had taken out of the trap in
the kitchen floor. When they were fed to the fire in his brazier, he
crouched down because he knew no better, a helpless, lone figure in a
corner of the shop. Even as he remained at such a pause, his thoughts
went out to the back quarters of the house where the young mistress
must be awaiting him, with no thought of sleep. With those things
racing through his mind, he felt himself besieged by the force of his
own fate—a fate that seemed to come on and over him now to determine
the course of his life for all time. If only his master would come back
soon, this dreadful temptation would of itself pass away; his thoughts
would, in some moments, take on such complexion.

There was in back a faint noise of screens being slid, to be followed
by what seemed to be a stealthy tread in the verandah hall. Shinsuké
suddenly leapt to his feet and stole his way toward the room where he
had left her. It was done out of his fear lest the young mistress,
petulant as she was, should make a scene that was to be averted at all
costs. The two found each other where the hall had a turn.

“Are you all ready, Shin don? I have brought with me enough money to
carry us on for some time. I’ll let you take care of this purse and

Tsuya pulled her hands back into her sleeves, and, ♦bulging out the
black satin trimmings across her breast, took out of the depths of her
bosom a purse of yellow cloth which was almost thrust into his hands.
Its weight could not be of less than ten large gold pieces[3].

  ♦ “buldging” replaced with “bulging”

“To take not only you away, but even my master’s money;—God’s vengeance
would be heavy!” His protest, however, went no farther; for he was
easily to succumb to her wishes.

“But it seems to be snowing, unfortunately—I shouldn’t mind; but you
would be frozen to death, if you were to walk all the way out to
Fukagawa, in this terrible weather. So, I say, Tsu chan[4], why not
some other time as well?—and a chance there sure will be yet!”

In speaking of Fukagawa, they had in mind the home of a certain boatman
living in that part of Fukagawa which is called Takabashi. Seiji, the
boatman in case, had been patronized by the Suruga-ya family for ten
long years. What with clam-gathering picnics to the sand-bars around
the forts of Shinagawa and the customary parties at the river
festivity of Ryogoku, he had made himself familiar with Tsuya and
Shinsuké. In addition to the calls he was in custom to make at the
time of the “Bon”[5] holidays and just before the New Year, he would
occasionally pay his respects to the Suruga-ya. It was his wont as much
as his privilege to seat himself, on such occasions, in a corner of the
kitchen over a treat of drinks, and plunge into an open admiration of
the beautiful daughter of the house.

“Talk of a picture of prettiness, I’ve seen nothing to beat our young
lady here,” he would glibly start off. “I don’t care what people say, I
say there isn’t anybody in this big town to match with this beautiful
thing here. Asking for pardon for me saying this, if she were a geisha
girl, I would never stay behind, such as I am, yet not without a
stretch of time ahead of me to be as old as fifty.”

As he would harp away in his droll fashion, he would sometimes even
allow himself so much liberty as to lay his hold on Tsuya’s sleeve,
saying: “Be good, O-Tsu chan, and grant me the wish of my life,—bless
me with a cupful from your own hands. Not for a long time—just one
cupful, and never more than that—”

And the folk would laugh at what they looked on as a good natured
mimicry of one who might make bold to advance on her attention.[6]

A man trading on river traffic, running wherries to carry fares going
up to and coming from Yanagibashi, Fukagawa, Sanya, Yoshiwara, the gay
quarters clustered along and about the only watercourse of the town,
and living mostly within the pale of a world where wine flowed and
folks feared not to talk of sins, the boathouse master Seiji was a man
of enough understanding, and he may well have sensed, for some
time now, the love that had secretly been growing between the young
lady of the family and the young man. However, he breathed never a
word about it, in any way, if he did know, strangely enough of a man
who enjoyed so much to talk. The first time that he ever came out with
his knowledge of the affair was about a month ago when he paid one of
his casual visits, after what he said had been a trip to Yanagibashi,
and gave airing to what had lain in the back of his head. For that
day, the family had planned a theatre party, from which Tsuya excused
herself under a feigned pretext of illness; for a chance to be alone
in the company of Shinsuké was too precious. Not to disappoint the
whole family on her sole account, her parents took their two maids
instead, and went out to the theatre in the early morning.[7] The shop
had been left in charge of the little Shota alone, while Shinsuké had
been spending most of his time at the bedside of Tsuya, charged with
what was termed as nursing the ill young lady. It was just at one
of such times that the boatman Seiji tripped in, his face florid and
jolly, as usual, from drinking. He ahemed, smirked, and went straight
in to slap the young man on the shoulder.

“Shin don, I wish you all the luck and pleasure! You thought I knew
nothing about this, didn’t you? It’s a long time, believe me, since I
smelt a rat. People are blind, but mighty hard to pull the wool over my
eyes. Not that I mean to speak to our master about it. So, you might
as well own up to it, now. And, why couldn’t I be of some help to you,
some time? Only natural, I say, that it should come to this, when a
beautiful young lady is living in the same house as a boy as handsome
as those we see only on the stage. And me,—a funny thing,—for, if I
see a young pair like yourselves, madly in love with each other and
in trouble, I want to do something just to help them out,—somehow,—I
don’t care how much trouble it means,—so I may see them happy together,
always. It’s some queer thing in me that does it, I suppose.”

Taken quite off their guard, the young pair helplessly looked at one
another, as they felt cold shudders run down their backs. Seiji,
however, framed himself in an air of so knowing assurance and
worked himself up into voluble exuberance, for the reason he seemed to
know the best.

“A man who means to love must never be so weak-kneed. Might as well
come out with the whole thing, and why not? You shouldn’t keep such a
thing in your young hearts and suffer. It would be a far sight better—a
short cut, too, if I were to take the whole thing up with the master
and reason him into allowing you both to marry. No flattery, but Shin
don ought to be a good enough man, what of his handsomeness, clean
mind, and cleverness. I should be surprised if our master wouldn’t
agree to it.”

“If that were possible, we should ask him ourselves, without giving you
the trouble.”

The young Shinsuké was inveigled, in spite of himself, into giving a
full account of the situation they were in. Tsuya was the sole heiress
of the family, and he was the only child his old parents had; each
was bound to remain in his or her own family. However much they might
think, there was no way in which to make their marriage possible.[8]

“I would kill myself, if we couldn’t be together!”

Tsuya broke down on this, after she had followed the rueful account of
her beloved one; she sobbed as one no longer able to fight down her
rising emotion.

“Calm yourself, young lady, calm yourself,” consoled the boatman. “Now,
I know what I could do. Listen to me. You will run away from here and
come to my place. It will be just a way to get round the trouble, and
I know what I talk about. You can leave the rest to me. I will see the
old folks of both sides, and, depend on it, I shall reason it out with
them and get them to agree to it!”

In fact, the young lovers had talked of eloping earlier in the very
same evening. Seiji’s suggestion came to prompt Tsuya in her ready
decision, right then and there. Shinsuké, however, had not been able
to see his way quite so clear in his decision to this day, and even to
this moment.

“Do you mean to back out, now?”

As she spoke, she clasped the wrists of the man who still lingered
in a pensive attitude, his hands folded and his head drooped low.
With her form bent over, like a bamboo bough under a heavy weight,
she leaned herself against him. She fidgeted, fretted, and shook him,
threatening with “I’ll kill myself, if you don’t come.”

“I give way! I can’t be firm! And let things take care of themselves,
for I go with you, as you say.”

Shinsuké quickly went back to the shop, and pulled his own wicker box
out of the deep recess of the closet. He took out of it a heavy cotton
dress and changed it for the one he had on. It was a gift out of his
father’s old wardrobe and the only piece of clothing that had not been
given him during these years of service. He felt he could not go off
in any of these clothes without his thanks to his master. Then, going
to the case at the side entrance, he noiselessly picked out Tsuya’s
lacquered pair of rain-clogs which he hugged tightly under his arm, as
if he treasured them, in retracing his way to the verandah.

The sight of the girl at a pause there. He was almost aghast to think
that she meant to go out in this bitterly cold weather in such attire;
her hair bared to be seen in its freshly made coiffure, silk
checker dress of bright gold and black, heavy sash of brocaded satin
girt just below the breast,—and nothing to cover her feet.[9] She who
had always shown, with a woman’s instinct, a partiality for the piquant
manner of the geisha, would assert her taste even before such a venture.

“Come, here is our way,” said Shinsuké, as he dropped into the garden,
by pushing the doors open two or three feet at the end of the verandah.
The snow which had been going on without stir or noise, had already
lain to a depth of a few inches. Wattle-fence, shrub-beds, and the
♦wainscoted walls round the verandah corner were all covered with
an alabaster mantle. He felt for the feet of the girl who sat over
the edge of the verandah. In the faintest half-light of the snow, he
managed to place the soft, but icy, soles of her feet over the bottom
of clogs. And it was with tremulous hearts that they measured each step
that made a slish-slash as it sank into the snow. At last, they made
their way as far as the little gate in the back-side wall. Through this
and crossing a line of board-walk over a sewer passage, cautious of
any noise, they stole out into the open street.

  ♦ “wainscoated” replaced with “wainscoted”

The sky was overcast, but the snow, partly spent out, fluttered down in
large, occasional flakes. It was warmer than they had expected. Under
one umbrella spread over them, the girl held the handle and the young
man’s hand closed over hers. By way of the Tachibana-cho, they directed
their way to the Hama-cho.

The soft lines of Shinsuké’s appearance belied his strength, for he was
a youth of good height, muscular, with a stock of sinewy power above
the average. As he felt his nerves gripped by surging emotions, he
would oft tighten his clasping hand with such a convulsive force that
Tsuya felt as if her right hand, so small and frail and now chilled to
freezing point, were about to be crushed out. And she would as oft give
a little cry of pain. “Nothing the matter with you, I hope, Shin don?”
she would ask at such times, with concern in her voice, lifting her
searching eyes into his. And her long-slit eyes glistened even in the
dark with a glow, as of a strong mind.

When they had crossed the New Great Bridge, there came eight strokes of
midnight. The clanging note of the bell, floating out and far in
its resonant roar, seemed to summon to its wild shriek the soul of the
water, now swelled to its full on a flow of sea tide, with its bosom
bared to the falling snow, moved on with a chill and stillness of death.

Tsuya who had remained sparing of words till now broke the silence:
“That bell is so fascinating,—it’s so much like what we see on the

“Well, your nerves are stronger than mine,” Shinsuké retorted,
showing a grin that was mirthless, and even bitter. They returned to
silence after this, and remained so until they reached the boatman’s
house, perched on the side of the Onagigawa stream.

                                                             Part II

                               ♦PART II

To settle the thing right and proper, you shouldn’t be too hasty,
you know. Ten days or so of patience. In the meantime, you had better
stay away from people as much as possible. Our rooms upstairs shall be
at your disposal—just keep your happy selves in there, and I wish you
all pleasure!

  ♦ “PART II” added

So said Seiji, as he received the young pair. His wife and all the
menial hands were properly instructed and warned. Their friendliness
was excelled only by their hospitable eagerness to serve their wants.
However, ten days had gone by, and even a month had passed, without any
tangible good news from the boatman.

“Seiji san[10] is a busy man and, because things didn’t turn out just
as he had hoped, he might be staying back, though he wouldn’t like to
disappoint us as yet.”

It was a piece of suspicion that had begun to dawn upon Shinsuké’s
mind. Tsuya, however, would take the situation in a more philosophical

“Why worry yourself like that, dear?” she would say. “Now that we’ve
run away together, what difference if we were never taken back by our
folks? We might just as well take up a home for us two only. Why, we
might be better off that way, after all, and who knows? I’ve never felt
so happy in all my life, as I do now. Little care, let me tell you, if
I never went home to them!”

Since coming to this new abode, Tsuya had completely changed; she was
more buoyant, jolly and bold. Their window looked down, almost straight
below, upon a stone built bank which rose sharp over a narrow canal
running into the Sumida river. Hither would daily be brought a swarm of
roofed wherries to take on parties of men and geisha who had brought
with them the spirit of the gay quarters in Fukagawa and up the river.
Nor was it a rare happening that some of these parties should take
up rooms partitioned from the young pair’s room only by the doors of
paper screen, and plunge into a free and open jollity, as careless as
it was annoying. It was not long before Tsuya began to pick many
ways and manners from these people she saw or heard. Her hair which was
done in a maiden style when she left her home soon had to be changed.
On the fourth day after she came here, she had her hair washed and
combed back into an easy knot at the back of her head, with only a
single comb stuck in side-wise, a style of comfort at the expense of
decorum. Donning a dressing gown of garish pattern that the boatman’s
wife offered her against the cold and the frequent practice of smoking
crowned her attempt to imitate what was thought to be the “at home”
manners of a geisha. When she picked up some words from the vernacular
of the prostitute class and unwittingly used them a couple or so times,
Shinsuké thought he should step in and call a halt.

“What language for you to speak?” he said, with his brow knit with
displeasure. “Why should you have to take to the ways of those
wretches? I am even too proud to speak of them.” He fought for his and
their dignity of mind. It was not difficult to imagine that, but for
his Tsuya, he might have remained true to the accepted idea of the
regular life of a man.

It was small heed, however, that the young woman would give to his
ideas on such lines. She had been completely carried away by her own
happiness and her satisfaction with the new life, and made it a life of
frivolous laughter, from morn till night. And just to feel the fulness
of her heart, she would even rhapsodize her whims and fancies at meals,
ordering this dish and that to indulge in epicurean luxury. She would
grow generous every third day or so and declare a wholesale treat to
the entire family, remembering even the hired boatmen. Through the
thoughtfulness of Seiji there were always bottles of drink at dinner in
the evening. When she held out her cup to be filled, it was done with
a gesture of one still unused, but drink she would with an eagerness
to assimilate the ways of the hardy sex. Some nights when she was too
heavily affected by drinking, her face would glow with such a passion
as possible only of a frenzied rage. She would writhe and wallow, her
body a veritable flame, giving him no sleep through the night. They
were swept and dragged into a whirling eddy of pleasure which seemed to
threaten to choke out their very lives.

So time wore on. The busy year-end was fast pressing on. The market
day of the Hachiman shrine on the fifteenth of December was past. Still
there was no news they had so anxiously awaited.

“I’m just now talking to your folks, in the thick of my fight. Four or
five days’ more of patience!” Such was the refrain the boatman would
harp on, with a drawn look of sincere sorrow, whenever he saw the pair
and was asked to explain. And they would invariably feel that they
should not press him beyond that point.

“Seiji san, what’s been done has been done, though I must ask a
thousand pardons of my master, and if we are not to hope to go back
there, we must have it so. We have prepared our minds for the worst,
and, therefore, ready to set us up in a home of our own, if it has to
come to that. There will be no disappointment or sorrow to drive us
to anything extreme or rash, I assure you. So, tell us, I pray you,
how you have fared with them and how you stand now; for we must know.
We can’t let it go on much longer, just living off your goodness!”
Shinsuké’s earnest appeal, however, would always meet with a response
more benevolent than it was ever satisfactory.

“No worrying on my account,” the boatman would answer. “Of course,
if I saw that things weren’t going on right, I’d have given it up and
be done with it. The fact is, I’ve been up there half a dozen times
now and have given them about as good talkings as I knew how, and the
old folks, both sides, seem to begin to see things in my way. ‘If the
young ones are so madly in love as to run away,’ I always tell them,
‘they should be made man and wife. If not, it means their parents are
not quite fair and refuse to see things as they ought to.’ ‘Very well,’
I tell them then, ‘if you don’t want to take them back, I will take
them in until you are ready to change your minds. And while they are
with me, you may depend on me for good care!’” “Now, you see,” he said,
in dismissing the subject with a touch of flippant humour, “there is
nothing for you to worry about!”

No matter how perplexing and difficult the question may have become,
old folks would certainly detest the idea of dragging it on into New
Year, the time of all times, and let it darken their life when they
were particularly anxious to call in happy auspices. Everything would,
therefore, be settled, they reasoned, before the year would be
over, at the latest. Shinsuké hugged such hopes and anxiously awaited
the dawn of the year which seemed to hold forth so many promises.

The indulgent way of life they pursued daily told on the fund of ten
gold pieces that Tsuya had brought from home, and there remained now
less than a half of the amount. “You can’t greet New Year with the
cheer that five paltry gold pieces can give,” she explained, as she
called in the aid of her hair dressing woman, who was secretly charged
to trade for money a pair of silver fringed prong-pins wherewith Tsuya
had once decked her maidenly hair. And her generosity was maintained;
for on the night of the seventeenth, the farm fair, one of the last
events of the year, she handed out a present of three small gold pieces
to be distributed among the hired hands, as her remembrance of the

It was three days after this, at an early hour of the evening, Shinsuké
and Tsuya were about to sit at table, when Santa, one of the hired
boatmen, came clattering up the stairs. “I have brought good news for
you,” he told to Shinsuké. “I have just got a word from our Boss. He is
now with your father at the restaurant Kawacho, up the Yanagibashi
way. It is going on nicely, he says, and thinks the thing is likely to
be settled. So he tells me to get you in a boat and come over there
straight away. But he thinks, if two of you came, it might be a bit
awkward to carry on the talk. Sorry for the young lady, he says, but he
will ask her to stay here.” “A bit of a rest up for your dear man, I
say,” he turned to Tsuya. “Evening off once in a blessed while won’t be
anybody’s heart-break.”

“But I fear something,—somehow,” Tsuya said, as a sudden change came
over her look, sinking in a depressed mood. It was good news, to be
true, yet who was to know but things might not take just such a turn
that her Shinsuké’s going should be for all time, that he might not
be taken away back to his father’s home. Fear seized her; and there
were fears that pressed on her mind. Nor was Shinsuké in any better
condition of mind. It was for this very moment that he had so longed
for, to be sure; yet, brought face to face with it, he felt himself
helpless against a series of fears that loomed to cast grim shadows
over his mind. What appeared to him the most misgiving part of it
all in prospect, was the idea of brazenly dragging himself before
his father to ask for his grace, without having obtained the
forgiveness of his master against whom he had perpetrated such wrongs
as he shuddered to think of. Insistently pressed on by Santa who kept
saying, “Hurry, as fast as we can make it!”, the young man but briefly
fitted himself up and went down the stairs concealing within him a
leaden heart.

Almost in the same moment, Tsuya was in his tracks and at his heels,
for what reason she knew best. Just as the two men were about to step
into the boat, she caught them by their sleeves.

“Santa san,” she spoke to the boatman, “no offence to you, I assure
you, but I can’t feel—somehow—things are just right. Take me along,
too, I pray you. You will never get into trouble on my account—I’ll see
you don’t!”

“Aha, ha! What should I hear but this stuff and nonsense, young lady?”
Santa, who had regardlessly sprung into the wherry, guffawed, even as
he began to untie the fastening rope. “You’re at the tricks of a spoilt
child,—but you sure don’t mean it! No trouble for me or anything, I
tell you; but what is all this fuss for? As if somebody were going to
gobble him up! Just leave it to my Boss, and everything will be all
right. You ought to see—I know, you do see—that your going there would
simply mean poking a stick in the wheel—when it’s going on famously,

“If it has to be that way, I could keep myself in some other room and
wait while the talking goes on. So, don’t go without me, for goodness’
sake! I don’t know why, but I do feel that I shouldn’t let him go
alone, to-night.”—She nimbly took a small gold piece out of her sash

“It’s not every day that I ask you to do such a thing for me, Santa
san,” Tsuya said, furtively offering the money up to the boatman’s
palm. “Once in a while, you might do me a good turn,—now!”

“It’s only the other day you gave me a good piece,—no, you’re too
free of giving, and my Boss wouldn’t like it.” After a moment of his
unwonted indecision in such matter, he handed the proffered money back
to her. To this young boatman, seemingly the most important one amongst
Seiji’s hired hands, Tsuya had been most generous; of him she had
been most considerate. What seemed to be his stony attitude just when
she stood so badly in need of his help, was, therefore, all the more

“I can appreciate the way you feel about me,” said Shinsuké, “but,
if your coming is just what Seiji san thought wasn’t the thing to do,
I’d hate to do so in face of the wish of the man who is giving himself
all this trouble on our account,—perhaps, a thing I should never
forgive myself for, afterward.” His apparent attempt to soothe her
perturbed mind and to console her into a new point of view, was however
scarcely more successful with her than it was with himself. For, as he
paused at the water’s edge in the half-light of the dusk fast closing
in, his face was washed with an uncanny pallor, and his shoulders
continued to tremble.

“Well, then, whatever trouble may come up after you have a talk there,
you will be sure,—won’t you?—to come back to me before you do anything.”

“You may depend on me—,” replied Shinsuké, giving an emphatic nod. “Not
that I fear anything like that, though.” Night of all nights, with the
wish of his long yearning heart about to be granted!—he might well
have been pleased and happy, what time he really wanted to cry from a
sinking heart. Why could he not take Tsuya right here and now and run
away again, he even asked himself; for, he felt, whereby his mind
might be relieved of its weight.

There had been on that day, as rarely in winter, a wind from the
south, since early in the day, bearing on its wings an air of stagnant
warmth. Tsuya, what of a headache of which she had complained since
the morning, putting cure plaster on her temples, and of her emotions
stifled the while tears welled to her eyes during her harangue with
the boatman Santa, found herself now sunk in a weary helplessness
and languor of a half-sickness. Her tear-swelled eyes, however, were
strained in a fixed gaze, as she leaned against the sash of her
upstairs window and followed the boat outward bent. It was still too
early for the moon of the last quarter. A grim monstrosity of cloud,
heaving beyond the fire tower at the “New Great Bridge,” outspreading
swift and low in its menacing advance, had soon over-run across half
the face of the ebony sky; the drapery of black night was lowered over
the world of man. Santa’s boat, light of movement, had sped on bearing
away its torch fire which was soon lost in the depths of river mists.

By the time the boat had cleared the mouth of the canal to glide out
into the mid-stream of the great river, Shinsuké had discovered
himself wrapt in the void expanse of blackness, his eyes fastened upon
a tiny speck of light that his long pipe gave, with a mind dispelled of

“What an unpleasant night,” he muttered half to himself. “It looks like
bad weather to-morrow.”

“I’d like to see the good weather keep up till New Year, at least,”
opined Santa; “it looks like a slim chance, though. When the wind falls
off, it’s going to rain—any time now.” He changed now from pole to oar.
And the oar began to grind out a light squeak on its iron pivot and its
rhythmic beat went on as if it teased one moment the water, lapping at
the boatside, only the next moment to float away on its coursing face.
Then, Santa added: “But I did feel pretty sorry for your young lady. I
shouldn’t be surprised if she was now taking to drink.”

The restaurant Kawacho, of Yanagibashi, was in those days one of the
resorts of fashion. Shinsuké had been there two or three times in his
master’s train, while he was in the service. That Santa was a familiar
character here was patent; when he was hailed by waiting maids while
making his way through the hallway, he hurled at them a teasing
remark, quite to Shinsuké’s embarrassment, saying, “I’ve brought for
you to-night, girls, a boy as handsome as any actor you love.” The two
men were shown to a room looking out on the river, a tea room fitted
up in the choice of woodwork and upholstered with the approval of the
most fastidious taste. Seiji was discovered there sitting with his back
♦against one of the alcove pillars, his face enlivened by a mellow
flush of drinks.

  ♦ “aganst” replaced with “against”

“Just out of luck,” he said, as soon as he saw the newcomers. “Your
father’s been waiting for you till a moment ago,—and has just gone!
Can’t tell you how sorry I am for you, Shin don! But, then, you were
so late in coming,” he added, showing a look of displeasure as was
not the wont of the man; and he heaved a sigh of disappointment. But
Santa went into explanation for the delay and, when he told how they
were detained by Tsuya on the point of their departure, Seiji burst
out in a hearty laugh, holding his sides, and his good humour was at
once restored. As for Shinsuké, he was even grateful to feel himself
relieved of the embarrassment of meeting his father and of the danger
of being dragged willy-nilly to his home.

“As long as you are here, you may as well take a little time for
drinks,” Seiji said, inviting the young man. Whereat he began to
recount his meeting with Shinsuké’s father.

The boatman had taken this evening a fare to a restaurant on the
Daionji-mae, Asakusa. Taking chance of this trip, he called on
Shinsuké’s parents at their home, not far from there, and got his
father to come out here, which had given him as good opportunity as he
could hope for. He went over the ground again with the old man, and had
the thing thrashed out, well and proper. It would be hard to forgive
the boy who had seduced his master’s daughter, said the father, but if
the pair should stay away in disgrace, it would mean even adding to
the wrongs done to the house of Suruga-ya, which he would not like to
see. Should the young ones kill themselves in despair, the master’s
family would lose its only heiress and go out of existence, even if the
father were not to take his own sorrow into reckoning. When he thought
of that side of the affair, he did not wish to hold out too strongly
against them, though he realized that it would not be befitting that he
should give his consent, or say one way or the other before the master
of the Suruga-ya should have his say about it, as it properly
should be. Therefore, the father would presume only so much as to say
this, that if the Suruga-ya folk meant to forgive and forget about the
thing, he was ready to let his son marry into their family, even though
his own family would thereby pass out; for, he felt he should place
the master’s interest before his own. In fact, if he had not had to
consider Seiji’s good offices and ideas about the affair, the father
said that he would surely, according to the boatman’s account, ferret
out his son, if he had to go to the farthest ends of the world, and
tear him to pieces. “Feel for my old heart,”—the father was quoted to
have said, before he had it out in a man’s cry, no longer able to check
his bitter heart. Whereupon, Seiji tried to appease him by making him
see things from some other angle than where he was dead set.

“Forgive whatever wrong your son has done,—for my sake,—just to save
my face,” Seiji’s appeal followed, according to himself. “If you have
brought yourself round so far in the matter, your forgiveness is the
only thing now in the way of settling, for I have practically got the
Suruga-ya people to the point of giving theirs.”

When the talk had at length come to be closed over a drink of
peace, Seiji said, he manoeuvred to make suggestion that the young man
be brought over here that the father and son might be happy to see each
other. It would give the old man a chance to give his boy a talk so he
should do no more misconduct. “Not right or in order that I should do
so now and here,” the father was said to have ♦insistently remarked,
in turning down the suggested idea, until he had finally to give way,
almost ♠in spite of himself, to the boatman’s wish. So, he had waited,
and waited pretty long; but, because Shinsuké was late and because the
father who was a busy man always, had so much on hand just now, with
the year-end close at hand, felt he could afford to sit here and while
away no more time. So, he had gone, it was said, only a minute before
Shinsuké came, despite repeated entreaty on the part of the boatman.

  ♦ “insistly” replaced with “insistently”
  ♠ “inspite” replaced with “in spite”

“See, such is the heart of a father!” Seiji commented. And those words
seemed to quicken the young man to a keener sense of the wrongs of
which he was guilty and of the old heart that was almost too good—a
revelation, as he was led to feel. He drooped his head, bent himself
low upon his hands placed down in front, in an attitude of humble
gratitude; tears trickled down on his bent knees.

“Now, come to think of it, we’ve quite forgotten our drinks while we
were at this thing,” remembered the boatman. “Let us hope for the best,
now; and, in the meantime, celebrate the success we are headed for.
We’ll drink hearty and proper! To be right, we should have geishas,
but, you being too handsome a boy, I shouldn’t put any more pitfalls in
your way!”

Seiji pressed drinks on him with an insistence that was matched only
by his generous spirit; and the young man drank much. He was not of
the sort that may be described to relish the taste of saké, but was
of that sort that could keep his wits or his head up, however much he
might drink, thanks perhaps to his hardy physique. In spite of his
reluctant mind, he accepted each and all of the cups offered him in
quick succession, and drank it with grace, out of his respect for the
spirit of the occasion.

Then, Santa’s prediction began to prove true. The sky had been
completely overcast, before they were aware. The falling off of the
winds was soon followed by big drops of rain that came pattering
upon the eaves. In no time, it grew into a torrent and began to pour
down, as if the sky and the river had been turned into one sheet of
water. Whilst their voices were oft deadened amidst the fury that went
on with such violence as to make them marvel that their little room was
not shaken up, the three men went on with their drinking, for some time
yet. There were no signs of slackening in rain.

“It must be getting on the fourth hour,[11]” Seiji was impatient. “I
have yet another piece of business to go as far as Koume. But what am
I going to do in this sort of weather?” He gave way to his vexed mind,
and, there was even a trace of viciousness in his gesture as he clapped
his hands to summon the attendant maid.

“Shin don, you will excuse me, as I have but little more time unless
I go in the palanquin. But no rushing for you,—may as well take more
drinks and stay with Santa as long as you wish.”

On this line of parting words, he took his leave.

The two men had stayed behind for another hour or so, waiting for a
visible change in the weather, when Shinsuké concluded that it would be
a long waiting that brought no reward. There was his unexpressed
concern for Tsuya, too. He declared himself as going, sure as he was
to be drenched. It was suggested that he should take the palanquin;
for, Santa could just as well take his boat over to a place for the
night and follow later on foot. Shinsuké would not hear of the offer,
insisting to share with him the lot of the rainy journey by foot.

“Well, it might not be so dreadfully bad, after all,” Santa said in
agreeing. “For a good walker, it’ll be just a nice little run over to
Takabashi. We can borrow umbrellas here. Suppose then we just tuck up
our clothes smart, and run down along the riverside way.”

Santa congratulated that there was no wind abroad, as he possessed
himself of a lantern proffered by the tea house and prepared himself to
lead the way. Shinsuké took up at the end of a rope a box that was to
be for Tsuya’s benefit, a part and parcel of the memory of the feast of
the evening. They had their clogs secured on themselves, each making
fast his own pair by passing the end of the sash across below the lace
supports on the footgear. Their limbs bared up to the knees, they
started out from Kawacho’s.

They spoke not to each other; for they gave all their mind to the
rain and darkness through which they battered their way. Only a little
way down the line ere they were drenched through. Up to the end of the
Ryogoku-bahi bridge; thence to the right, and now out in front of the
mansion of the Lord Hosokawa. Almost in the next instant, Santa gave a
little startled cry when his lantern had been blown out;—a wind should
have been expected on the water front. At this late hour of night,
there was neither traffic nor life to give them a light along this
riverside road which was never lively or cheerful, and which was now
desolated by the stormy rain. After the light was blown out, darkness
pressed on them with a grim force, as if it threatened to suck them
into its abysmal pitch. And was it a trick of their own minds that even
the rain now appeared to beat upon their ears with a greater intensity
of jarring note?

“I am sailing all right in the dark, but you should look out for
yourself, Shin don,” Santa was howling the warning. “You have drunk
rather heavy to-night, don’t you know?” And heavy had he drunk, it
was true; as much as three pints, as he could make out. His host and
Santa, out of their apparent concern for his condition, repeatedly
asked him, saying, “Are you all right yet?” However, he found himself
in no worse a condition than a first flush; his feet hugged the earth
firm and steady at each step. In fact, it was rather his companion, he
thought, that needed care.

“No danger here,—but you’re far worse off, do you know it?” He was
straining his voice to shout back his answer. And it was probably
deadened by the noise of the ruffled stream; for Santa gave no response.

There intervened a few moments of silence. They had covered about five
or six yards in silence when, all of a sudden, a crisp voice snapped,
right under his nose, in an unexpected taunt—

“No more words out of your foul mouth, you drunken fool!”

Shinsuké was scarcely given the time to reason out the challenge which
was not to be imagined as coming from Santa. For, almost as instantly,
the cold point of a blade slashed into his shoulder. A quick twist of
the body had saved him from anything serious, he felt. But a sudden
paralysis ran over the right half of his neck, and upward, a deadened
feeling, as ripped by sharp nails, and half of his face was so
deadened in the same side as if it had been snapped off.

“Who’s this? Speak!” shouted Shinsuké, as he strove to steady his
tottering feet for a quick run.

“Drunken slob that you can’t know my voice!” retorted the other. “For
our Boss, I must have your head, and I’ve brought you here to get it.”
The assailant leapt forth to pursue and pounce upon his victim, guided
by his voice.

Shinsuké pushed his back ♦against the plastered wall on a house
premise, and whirled round the handle of his umbrella in frantic
defence. Twice or so he trounced off the other who, however, quickly
managed to close in and drive a thrust into his flesh,—somewhere in the
lower part of his body. Having pinned him fast by grasping him by the
bosom, the man came on cutting him up, and his blows, though not well
aimed, were none the less furious. After that, neither one of them knew
how it fared. They groaned and roared like two beasts pitted against
each other, and filthy invectives were hurled back and forth, as
their deadly struggle went on in dirt and water. Shinsuké brought his
whole weight to bear upon his two hands as he wrenched the opponent’s
right hand to force the weapon out of his clutch. They again
clinched, and again parted only to close in yet once again in desperate
fury and in all that it detailed, the while Shinsuké began to feel
within him such a stock of prowess as he had never imagined himself
capable of. Santa who was in a worse condition from drinks began at
length to lose his ground before the stronger power of sinew, until his
sword was at last wrested out of his hand. Undaunted still, he hurled
himself against Shinsuké. As quickly almost, he threw Santa down, rode
astride his body, drove the blade through the scalp, sawed and grated
therewith against the bone, even as the rat gnawed at its bone. The man
was dead, quickly.

  ♦ “again” replaced with “against”

Then, Shinsuké could understand neither wherefore he had killed nor
whereby he had been driven to all this atrocity. He had been goaded
into a desperate decision that there was to be no escape save by
killing the man; and kill him he did, as in a half dream;—that was
about as far as he could make it out for himself. Apart from the
shock to his nerves, he still felt in himself, despite several wounds
suffered, the presence of so much animal force that he marveled, “How
easy a work it was to kill a man!”

What claimed his attention next, was the question whether he should
run away or surrender himself to the law. In any event, it would not
be too late, he concluded, if he went first to see his Tsuya, before
he made up his mind one way or the other. The sight of the body of the
man who had been capable of laughter, anger and fight till a moment
ago, now but a lump of flesh, lying there like a log, so suddenly
speechless as almost to appear ludicrous. He felt about the body with
his toes, and his sensation of dread was not unmingled with a sense of
amused mockery. Somehow, he seemed to see what was called as human in
the imagery of a mechanism contrived with extreme ingenuity,—and with
a sense of humour. To prevent the discovery of any clues for the time
being, he threw the corpse and the weapon into the river. In the rain
that kept up with unabated vigour, he started off, at a run, for the
boatman’s home at Takabashi.

“For our Boss I must have your head”:—these words of Santa were
recalled. It was easy to see now that Seiji was anything but what he
had believed him to be, and that his place must be nothing but a den
of blackguards working behind the mask of the boatman. It was as
easy to see that Seiji had the attempt made upon his life, because
he wished to work his own game with Tsuya. Seeing that the boatman
excused himself from the party on the pretext of going to Koume, it
was possible that something had befallen Tsuya, already. If the entire
household should be involved in the conspiracy, the absence of Seiji
from home would be no reason for him to sail into the place without due
precaution. In any case, Shinsuké thought, it would not be so simple
to see Tsuya. The longer his mind lingered on the subject, the more
bitterly vexed was he with himself for allowing himself so neatly to
be caught in their trap; and vexed and bitter he grew until a fierce
hatred for the boatman and a passion for vengeance burst upon him.

“Kill a man kill two—what’s the difference? If necessary, I’ll
strike to death that dog of the boatman. And right then and there
I’ll dispatch myself for justice!” In some moments of desperation,
he thought it out as far as his own end; yet, live he would at all
costs until he should see Tsuya of his devoted heart. And what if he
should see her never more? Before the sadness of such a thought, the
passion against the boatman seemed to fade out of his heart only
to be filled with a painful sense of misery and desolation that was
unbearable and overwhelming.

In order to make his visit as quiet as possible, he began to steal his
way from four or five yards before the house. Making his way into the
narrow passage flanking the house, he put his ear against the kitchen
door, almost expecting to hear Tsuya crying in distress; but not a
voice within; all appeared to have gone to bed. The weather could
never have been more favourable for such task, and he thought he could
afford some noise. He boldly thought of forcing the last of the sliding
doors out of the groove. Under his gathered strength, however, he was
instantly to be surprised by the yielding of the door, probably never
bolted, lightly sliding back a measure. There was only a sleep-room
lantern in the back room, shedding its faint glow, but no signs
suggestive of any untoward happening. Nevertheless, he did not forget
the precaution to pick up a carving knife, hung up by the sink in the
kitchen, and concealed it in his bosom, before he went in, picking his
stealthy way. And he had made his way just about as far as the foot of
the stairs, when—

“Who’s there? Is that you, Santa?” It was the boatman’s wife who
challenged him, her voice scarce above a whisper.

“Yes, it’s myself,” Shinsuké returned, in a tone as low and husky as
hers, when he arrested his step sharp and short.

“Well, how did it come off—all’s well?” she continued with her query,
in a note of concern. The woman, placed close by the brazier and over
the foot-warmer, had evidently been waiting for Santa’s return, without
a wink of sleep. And strangely enough, the hired men who usually slept
in the adjoining room were missed there, this night. Had Tsuya been
taken off somewhere, he asked in thought, and it almost left him aghast.

“No fear, I’ve done my part right and neatly,” he spoke, imitating
Santa’s voice, as he brusquely shoved back the screens and put in his
appearance before the woman. Continuing in the same low voice which
sounded all the more awesome because of its tone of forced softness, he

“Tell me where Tsu chan is.”

“Why, it’s Shin don!” she gasped; but spoke no more. On the verge of
fainting, she fought for self-possession by strained effort, the while
she blindly groped in mind for some wile to cover up the situation.
Shinsuké’s mien, however, was too forbidding and deadly to permit her
such a chance. Nor did he realize it until now he discovered himself in
the light of the lantern. Not only his clothes, ripped into shreds, but
his own body were blotched several spots with mud, rain, and blood,—a
ghastly sight unfit for any earthly being. Shinsuké gave a start to see
it, but forthwith he knew he should abandon any hope to conceal his
murderous deed.

“Whatever have you been up to, Shin don?” she asked, with a semblance
of confidence when she had sufficiently composed herself.

“What have I been up to, you ask? I’ve killed your Santa! But, if you
tell me where Tsu chan is, your life will be spared.” He held forth the
knife under her nose, with threat in his voice and manner. The woman
remained in command of herself, and her coolness was feigned to the
point of exasperation.

“She’s no doubt upstairs,” she said, and, having lighted her long pipe,
calmly puffed at it, her chin stuck out at an angle at once indifferent
and aggressive.

She had once served her term in a house in the Yoshiwara, whence Seiji
took her to himself upon the death of his first wife. Although
somewhat over-largely made, she was of white complexion, extremely
attractive of figure; a woman in the early afternoon of her life, about
thirty-two or three. Like a woman of strong will and nerves even to
match a man’s, that she had always vauntedly claimed herself to be,
she was capable of facing the situation without flinching, maintaining
complete mastery over herself. It was also presumable that the woman
who had always looked down on him as a lily bud of a man had accepted
the profession of his killing as little more than an attempt to scare
her out of her wits, and, for the very reason, made her best to present
an unflinching front. Search had to be made upstairs, in any case, he
considered; and he set about to bind her, hand and foot, to prevent her
escape in the meantime.

“What’s this impudence from you, green clown!” She bolted upright, and
rushed on to bring down the thing to which she had accredited so little
of manhood. But with a blow dealt on her spine with such magnificent
force that nearly knocked her senseless, she rolled off in a heap
to the mercy of the man. The killing of one man had turned him into
an adept at the trick of adroitly bending, twisting, squeezing,
knee-pressing the human body. It was with little ado that Shinsuké
bound the woman, hand and foot, and gagged her.

With the aid of a lantern, he made his way upstairs. Rooms, closets,
behind the screens, and no stone was left unturned; but Tsuya was not
to be found. He had expected as much; nevertheless, when brought face
to face with the situation which left him no longer in doubt as to her
kidnaping, he felt himself as helpless as a child forlorn and astray, a
pitiful prey to the dark thoughts that assailed his mind. With his face
framed in a pathetic half-cry, he was down the stairs in the manner of
a crazed man. Even hoping against hope, he went through all the rooms
downstairs, looked all over the place, under the verandahs, too; but
Tsuya was nowhere to be found.

“Come, own up where you’ve hidden her or your life is lost;” he said,
when she was relieved of the gag. And as he demanded, he tapped on her
cheek with the flat of the carving blade, to awaken her to a keener
sense of what was in store for her.

The woman had remained in unperturbed silence, with her eyes
closed. It was some moments ere she partly opened her eyes at him,
narrowing them into a gleam of hatred, and said: “I’m the sort too
good to be monkeyed with by a snivelling jackass like you that’s yet
wet behind the ears! You sang of killing,—well, nobody stops you.” Her
eyes were again closed. She stirred not, firm as stone. It occurred
to him suddenly that he had overlooked, in his search, the quarters
given for the servant maids, and that it would be more fruitful to
intimidate the maids than this hard-hearted wench. He flew over there.
And strangely enough, again, he found there not one of the three maids
who were wont to sleep there. There was little doubt that the hired
members had been sent out ostensibly on errands, to be kept out of the
way of conspiracy. Shinsuké then came back where the woman was and, for
his own reason, unbound her at once. Throwing himself down before her,
his head low to the floor, he put his hands together in the gesture of
supplication, even in the manner and humbleness of a road-side beggar.

“Forgive me, I pray!” he was fervent. “I repent what I have done to
you. I repent, I pray you—see how I pray you!—For mercy’s sake, don’t
be angry with me any more! Have pity—have a heart—just tell me
where my Tsuya is! That’s all I ask,—I pray you!”

“Well, you ought to know; you’ve been through the place. Why ask
me?—That’s none of my business.”

“Why this pretending now?—what’s the use? It doesn’t take much wits
to see that you are all in on this frame-up to take my girl away
somewhere. Now, don’t you see how honest and fair I have been trying
to be with you? Didn’t I tell you the first thing I came that I was
here after killing Santa? Not that I want to find Tsuya and work any
funny idea with her; nor that I want to catch your husband and square
my account with him for what he’s done against me. I’m asking you this
because I want to—I must—see my Tsuya—just once again while I live—to
say a good-bye to her; for, to-morrow I’m going to give myself up to
the magistrate. Now, just think of this, will you?—if I have something
against you people, you can’t certainly charge any wrong against me.
And when this man is asking you the last wish of his life, how can you
not do it? Do this for me, and I will give you a man’s word that I will
never tell anything to drag you or your husband into trouble no
matter what torture I may have to suffer in court.”

“Now, listen, Shin don! I’ve listened to you how you babbled this about
our frame-up, and that about dragging us into trouble, and all that
stuff you just seem to know all yourself. Well, show me proof of what
you talk about, I ask you! It’s perhaps that you drove yourself out
of your head when you killed the man. Whatever Santa may have done is
none of my man’s business. You may go on and give up yourself to the
officer, or square your account with the boss, or do anything you like
about it, for aught I care.”

“If you are so clean and innocent as you make yourself out to be, why
won’t you tell me where she is? And where is Seiji san gone, anyhow?”

The woman had visibly grown emboldened. It was in the attitude of
defiant insolence that she faced him, her hands thrust into her bosom.
Her voice was charged with icy mockery, as she said: “Where’s my
husband, you ask?—He goes out every night, nowadays; you can’t expect
me to keep track of him. As for Tsu chan, she said she was going as far
as Hirokoji to a show, when she went out in the early evening, taking
the maids along. But seeing that she’s so late, there has happened
something wrong, I presume.”

Even the while he listened to this piece of insolence from the woman,
Shinsuké’s mind again took a terrible turn. “Bitch! What shall I give
you for this?” he cursed her in thought. If there was to be no positive
chance to wring out of her the truth, the whereabouts of Tsuya, he
should not be hasty to surrender himself to justice, but stay back a
month or even half a year, until he should find her. And troubled he
was to think whether he could hope for his case to remain buried until
such time. One thing looked certain before all else that this woman
would be the one to turn in secret information against him—

Such a train of thoughts unrolled before his mind, the while Shinsuké
stood there at a pause, uncertain, his eyes fixed upon the half-turned
face of the woman who sat below him with one knee pulled sharply up,
carelessly puffing away at her pipe, like one brazening it out with a
supreme air of self-assurance.

“And is she not the wife of that man, Seiji? If she gives up her ghost
for that man, I’ll be safe to take vengeance for whatever wrongs may
have been done to Tsuya. That look of the woman—with her chin stuck
out, so insolent and proud, so cursedly sure of herself yet not sure at
all of her own life about to be ended;—humour! And only a twist round
her neck, one pressing on it—and there will be nothing of her but a
carcass! All that is extremely funny!”

Instantly, his mind had taken a turn that was even more positive and
fierce. In the same silence, he picked up a piece of hemp rope at
his feet, and as swiftly twisted it round the neck of the woman. He
followed out in practice precisely that which he had conjured up to his

Once the deed completed, he suddenly felt himself fagged out,
exhaustion no doubt coming in the wake of all the strain he had had to
bear throughout. “I am a criminal of heavy offence”; the thought was
driven him home, and he seemed suddenly to find the skin of his own
hands and feet stained over with a hue of ghostly sombreness. If he was
to take to immediate flight, these blood-soaked clothes would be out
of the question. He went out into the kitchen and, stripping himself
off, cleansed his self of all blood stains. There was fortunately found
on the closet shelf what seemed to be one of Seiji’s suits, which he
pulled out to put on himself. It proved to be a two piece suit of
heavy pongee, with cotton wadding, and a hard lined sash marked with
centre stripes on a dark brown ground; precisely the sort of clothing
to fit him up in attire of respectable quietness. Next, he gave his
attention to the chest of drawers, out of which he took, in both gold
and silver pieces, what was an approximation of three “ryo.” It was
done at once to fill the need he stood in at the time, and to work for
the ruse to lead the whole happening to burglary. The clothes he had
shed off were rolled into a bundle with a heavy stone used for pickling
purpose, and were consigned to the depths of the canal water. All these
thus disposed of, all this precaution taken, he was turning himself
upon the scene which offered no evidence to convict him of the murder
of Santa or the woman. Or, he tried to force his recalcitrant self into
such thoughts.

Without, the rain had ceased. In the sky clear and open, the midnight
moon shone frosty and serene. He covered his head in a deep cap that
he had not forgotten to bring. And, at the first corner of the wider
thoroughfare, he passed before the patrol box, unchallenged.

                                                            Part III

                               PART III

In the days Shinsuké lived with his own folk, he was often taken by
his father to the home of a certain gambler master by the name of
Kinzo, with whom his father maintained some sort of personal relations.
It was to this place that Shinsuké had to take himself on the night
of his murderous deeds. Whilst the earlier part of Kinzo’s life was
marked with irregularities, of which violence and bullying were no
inconspicuous features, yet with his fortune made and his discretion
matured, he had entered on a new sort of life these two or three years,
since reaching the age of fifty, and he was now known to be a man,
very rational and restrained, so different from the man of his quondam
profession, and with a ready hand and a big heart for others that
should need his help.

Having given an outline of the happenings of the night to the man he
had come to place his confidence in, Shinsuké asked to be hidden under
his roof for the time being, on the promise that he should surrender
himself to justice as soon as Tsuya had bean found. In telling his
story, however, Shinsuké accounted himself for the end of Santa, but
did not touch on what concerned the boatman’s wife.

“Shinsuké san, if you want my help, perhaps you can have it; but there
is one thing I don’t quite seem to get clear. Now, you’ve told me you
have come here straight upon killing Santa. I see you are cut up pretty
badly, but your clothes look none the worse for it. I don’t understand

Kinzo was prompt to observe. Stung with this point-blank thrust,
Shinsuké cringed with terror. Before leaving Seiji’s place, he thought
he had made sure to cleanse himself thoroughly. Once told of it, he
could see it all for himself; for he found blood not only curdled on
his finger nails and about his neck, but even above his left temple,
gluing the hair into a patchy tuft. He could not but make a clean
breast of it all.

“I had guessed as much.— Now that your story is straightened out, I
don’t see why I shouldn’t take the thing on my hands, be as just and
fair with you as you have been with me, and we can perhaps put our work
together to find the girl you call Tsuya. But before we do anything,
I must have you understand this, that my idea is that you should
give up yourself as soon as you have found your sweetheart. Now, take
it from a man who knows what he talks about, for there was a time when
I killed a man or two myself,—that once you get the feel of it, it’s
mighty hard to wash your hands of it for all time. You’ve never been
what I might call a bold boy, but now it’s all different. There is
nothing more for you to stop at, and that means your temptations will
be now many and often. You are now, Shinsuké san, placed where a step
one way or the other counts a lot. Unless you take yourself in hand and
do a lot of thinking, you are bound to roll down and down until you
will be the devil himself. If I told you that I would insist on your
stepping out to get your punishment, and would hear of nothing short of
it, you would think I was a pretty heartless sort of a man, and I know
it. But, you see, your life, even if saved now, would do, if anything,
harm but no good, to yourself or to the world you live in. It would
simply mean that there will be some more man killing, and nothing more.”

Shinsuké could not quite grasp what Kinzo was driving at by what he
meant to be his advice. Had he not owned up everything on his
conscience? And had he not shown penitence for the same? Why this
unless he were clear and firm in mind about what he should and was to
do? He could see no reason why there should be any fears about his
going wrong. In all the earnestness of a true heart, he pledged his
word, again and again, that he would never fail to surrender himself to
the fate that was justly to claim him.

It was as if a beast, once aroused, had been tamed down again; Shinsuké
was once more the being of gentle and peaceful habits that he was
before. The happenings of that night were recalled as in a dream that
had been dreamt in the hours of his mind preyed upon by the devil.
He might flee, it was suggested, and seek shelter, until the thing
should have blown over, with a gambler, living at Omiya, Bushu, with
whom Kinzo was under pledge of brothers. But this would be foreclosing
any chance of finding Tsuya. Besides, to give a happy turn to the
situation, the affair had apparently passed off without causing any
speakable stir in town. Early in the morning after Shinsuké came,
Kinzo went in a casual way over the ground along the plaster wall
enclosing the Lord Hosokawa’s mansion. He found neither blood
which had evidently been washed away by the rain of the night, nor the
umbrella which Shinsuké remembered of having left on the scene. The
only thing visible was remains of the souvenir box from the restaurant
Kawacho, trampled and mashed under feet. As for the boatman Seiji,
he seemed to have been led to the theory that Santa, with the crime
on his hand, stretched it a step and ran away with the money he took
by killing his wife. Therefore, in the possible event of his falling
in with Shinsuké, the boatman would certainly be dismayed, but never
likely to think of turning him over to the law. That was also what
Kinzo had gathered by secretly working through a certain boatman he was
intimate with. As a next step, Kinzo had the young man shed off the
clothes of unpleasant memory, and let him take a winter suit out of his
own wardrobe. The old man’s care went so far in fitting him up as to
have him paint mole marks on his face.

Disguised, by day, as a vendor of straw sandals and, by night, as a
wandering macaroni man, Shinsuké was left much to himself to go about
in the streets, chiefly of Fukagawa.

Soon, the year was at its end, and the new year opened, the eighth
year of the Bunsei era[12]. Shinsuké made a point of prowling in the
Takabashi way, every day, about the neighbourhood of the boatman’s
house. A space of twenty or so days had scarce passed ere a third
woman was taken into his home, and his business went on thriving, as
before. That Tsuya had been sold off into bondage was patent beyond
a doubt, Shinsuké considered. To leave nothing to chance, he went to
the Tachibana-cho and furtively peered into the shop where he had once
served. He found, or fancied to have found, the place filled with
so much deserted stillness as he had never seen, and there were, of
course, no signs of the young mistress being back. Instead, he stumbled
upon the rumour that the master, broken-hearted over his daughter’s
escapade, had been taken badly ill, kept his sick bed since the year
before. Shinsuké was so unbearably grieved to hear it that he told
himself he should never again turn his face that way.

The neighbourhood of the canal road was given up for the present. Each
of those places in town quartering licensed or geisha houses, was taken
up in order and looked into. He extended his range of search so far
as Koume, Hashiba, Iriya, on the outward line of the city, and scoured
even through such places as were known for the fashion and wealth of
the town to keep their villas and mistresses. When the second month of
the year drew to its close, he was little beyond where he had started.
A little more spell of time, and the cherry trees began to come out
in bloom along the riverside of Mukojima. A gauzy drape of mist was
hung across the sky of springtime and peace. There came days of benign
warmth which seemed to cast a spell of sleep even on him who was out
and about the streets calling out his wares. The pendulum of time had
swung to spring tide which had brought to his heart keen pangs of love
and sorrow. And he longed so much to see Tsuya, to see her if only in
the fleetest moments of dream.

“Shinsuké san, I am wondering if the girl you are looking for isn’t
the same one that calls herself Somékichi, a geisha of the Nakacho

Such was the glad tidings Kinzo brought home one evening in late
April. Kinzo had treated, he explained, himself and a couple or so of
his men at the tea house Obanaya, in Fukagawa, the same evening.
One of the geisha called into the party happened to fit closely the
description that had been given him by the young man. To begin with,
she had eyelids of rather heavy appearance, though a girl of rare
prettiness, and her eye brows full even to the point of masculine
sternness, more or less. When she smiled, her eye tooth on the right
side was slightly disclosed under the upper lip and, because of its
appearance out of line with the other teeth, made her smiling face all
the more attractive. Her habit of giving a slight twist to her lips and
pressing her teeth on the lower lip when engaged in conversation. Her
voice with a ring of exquisite richness that seemed to make a straight
appeal to a man’s heart. These characteristics so coincided with what
Kinzo had been told about Tsuya that he went so far as to make a sly
inquiry into her case. It was learnt that a gambler named Tokubey,
living at Sunamura, stood as her guarantor. He was also able to ferret
out the information that this man Tokubey was a thimble-rigger, a mean
character disliked even amongst his own professional people, and that
there was most likely a friendship between this man and the boatman
Seiji, though not in any open way. With so much raked in, there was
scarce room for doubt. Shinsuké was also ready to concur in the same

“So, there seems mighty little chance of making a mistake about this.
But there’s something I don’t quite understand. I’m afraid you will not
like me for telling you this, in case this girl turns out to be the
real one; nevertheless,—”

With this introduction, Kinzo went on to tell him about the girl in
question what he had heard as being passed around as talk of the gay
quarters. It was only about a month and a half ago that this girl
Somékichi began to appear at the Nakacho; but the fame of the girl,
what of her musical talent, her likeable personality and brightness,
her beauty to match anybody in the whole of that part of town, was
soon on everybody’s lips. She became the rage of the place. A young
son of a rich cloth trader of down town, a certain military officer
of the “Hatamoto”[13] class, and five or six other men about town had
lost their heads over her, had been cleaned out of almost incredible
amounts of money, whilst they were hotly making what had proved
nothing but a wild goose chase. It was generally conjectured amongst
people of the quarter that this man Tokubey, being infatuated with her
himself, always put himself between the girl and whomever he had cause
to be jealous of. The owner of the geisha house, under whose banner
she listed herself was no other than Tokubey’s mistress who carried
on the business with his capital. And not a day passed but there were
squabbles or fights amongst these triangular figures. As the upshot of
the thing, the mistress of the house had been packed off only about
ten days since, and Somékichi was now the most important figure in the
house, thus winning for herself a nitch amongst the leading, and most
honoured of the geisha. And so, gossips had it that Tokubey was too
heartless a man, of course, but Somékichi, yet so young, had a nerve as
wonderfully distinct as her looks were.

However, it was quite open to question whether she had surrendered
herself to Tokubey, as gossips seemed to make it out, added Kinzo
his own opinion, as if he wished to inspire the young man with more
cheerful hopes. It was quite probable, in his opinion, that Tokubey,
too, should be faring exactly as badly as the other men, just
exciting himself on a chase that was to take him nowhere. A woman who
was a cynosure of jealous eyes was naturally exposed to shafts of
slander, one half of which may generally be regarded as fiction. What
had struck Kinzo as remarkable, however, from what he saw of her at his
party, was that she displayed herself so sophisticated that he would
scarce imagine that she had been brought up in a rich pawnbroker’s
family till a few months ago. From the way she had carried herself off,
there was seen nothing about her of distress that might be expected of
one grieving over the loss of the man to whom she had given her body
and soul. She laughed and was gay throughout, drinking so heartily as
few women would. If she was taking it, and probably she was, to drown
her sorrows, of course, it was not so difficult to understand.

“In any case, you will go there and see her for yourself,” concluded
Kinzo. “I’ve left a word at Obanaya’s so they will take care of you, if
you go alone.”

Apart from what had been remarked concerning Tokubey, that was
certainly not palatable, all else seemed to point to one and the
same theory, as Shinsuké went over and put them together. Hearty
drinking, sophistication, unwarrantable gaiety, and all this plausibly
fitted to her case as he conceived it in her downward slide. Let her
appear as dissolute as she would for aught he cared, thought Shinsuké,
if only she had remained faithful to himself.

On the morrow Shinsuké shaved himself, and his mole marks were washed
off in the bath. He had again given ♦himself the neat and spruce air
of former days. Even though the blot once left on his mind by his
dire crimes was never to be washed out, his eyes had the same look of
frank appeal and trustfulness, and his fresh-coloured, rounded cheeks
betrayed no trace of pallid anguish. And now there was the remotest
chance, so remote as to be almost negligible, that Shinsuké might be
seen on the way by the boatman Seiji, who, in such event, might be
goaded into any sort of covert, cowardly assault upon him by the fear
of his past being divulged through him;—this the thoughtfulness of
Kinzo. Arrangements had been made, therefore, for the young man to
leave in the palanquin about the closing in of evening, when little
exposure on his part would be necessary. And was not the meeting
about to be with Somékichi this night,—was it not going to be his leave
taking of her, and of this world?

  ♦ “himslef” replaced with “himself”

“Well, then, I must bid you a good-bye,” said Shinsuké in his deeply
moved voice, putting his hands low, as the time of his departure drew

“Now, come to think of it, but this may be the last time we see one
another. If this girl, Somékichi, turns out to be your girl, Tsuya
chan, you need not trouble yourself to come back here, and you will
take yourself straight to the officer, to-morrow. It will be mighty
hard for you—I know—, but if you let her keep you a couple or so days,
you will lose your grip on yourself. If you account for yourself like
a true man, you can leave the rest to me. And let your mind be at ease
about your old man, too; for I’ll take good care of him!”

What Kinzo had seen of the young man, of the creditable way he had
carried himself since coming under his shelter, led him to the trusting
belief he would not efface himself were he given a free hand now. There
was a fear none the less that Shinsuké, under the sway of Tsuya’s mind,
might take his life into his own hand even as she might hers.
Wherefore, he put Shinsuké under probation as he asked—

“How would you intend to do by Tsuya chan, if you saw her?”

“I’ll persuade her out of what she is doing,” his answer was prompt and
clearly enunciated, as coming from a firmly set mind. “I will see that
she goes back to her father’s home.”

“That’s the word!” Kinzo was pleased. “Now, you are talking like the
good honourable soul that I used to know before.” Then, he took out
a bundle of money and placed it before Shinsuké for his farewell
present. Shinsuké declined it as not needed for his purpose, since he
had had savings from his business during these four months. With ready
acquiescence, Kinzo took back his offering. He felt that the young
man would not benefit himself by having on him more money than really

There was on that evening a faint breath of wind that came bearing a
balmy warmth out of the south, and in the moonbeams coming through the
wreaths of gauzy mist, the face of each soul passing in the street
appeared so softly white as the magnolia flower as even to suggest its
fragrance,—one of those eves that spring, only in the fullness
of her heart, can bear forth. Shinsuké’s palanquin went straight
on through the Takabasbi line, and to the Kuroecho; a turn to the
left before the first “torii” or gateway to the Hachiman temple, the
carriage came to a halt in front of the entrance porch of the Obana-ya.
Tea-houses were not unknown to him; yet never had he been to one
placed, as this was, in the heart of a gay quarter.

His announcement of himself was received and echoed among the waiting
hands as “the guest that the master of Narihira-cho had sent,” serving
as a sort of pass-word commanding suave attention. He was shown into
a good sized room way in back, an isolated suite which looked on a
garden with clusters of green foliage amongst which a lantern was
seen in a flickering glow behind its paper shade of trellis frame. He
could scarce believe that amidst the place of gaiety and pleasures
so boisterously pursued, there should be a place of such sequestered
peace, and of such refined taste.

“Let me see a girl called Somékichi, and I want no other geisha”: his
request, voiced as it was in a tone of such uncompromising insistence,
gave a suggestion of mockery. He might well have been taken for
a man about town who, so assured of his own matchless comeliness,
had come with his mind bent upon this rage for masculine passion,
♦purposely attired in a simplicity that was almost ungainly, to make
his conquest all the more romantic and savoury.

  ♦ “purposedly” replaced with “purposely”

It was after time had drawn out to be burdensome for Shinsuké, who
sat waiting with his back leaned against the alcove post, that the
door directly behind him was opened. Showing a slight and dainty tilt
in the head which supported elaborately made coiffeur, Somékichi had
entered; she was no other than the girl of his quest. She was dressed
that night in a lined dress of striped blue crepe over an under-gown of
silk finely dappled on a bluish brown ground, girt with a sash of black
satin heavily embroidered chrysanthemum flowers with gold threads,
showing below, at each step, the fringe of chequered silk petticoat,
and in a toilet of light powder. A change into a piquant brilliancy,
quite befitting a girl reputed to be the sensation of the place.

A quick glance at the back of the man, and Tsuya broke into a flurry,
pattering her soft bare feet as if they clung at each step to the fresh
covered mat on the floor, and coming round in front, face to face
with him, she gave a little cry of keen happiness. In an instant, her
face lost its colour for the suddenness of happy shock, but, in the
next, she sank herself close before him, almost upon his laps.

“Oh, what happiness to find you again and safe!” she said, pressing her
hands strongly upon his knees, as she spurted out her joy. “How I
♦wanted to see you! Oh, how I longed!”

  ♦ “waned” replaced with “wanted”

“To-morrow I am ♦to give up myself,—and such a girl as this.”—forthwith,
the thought flashed through his mind. He was conscious of a mad desire
to live rising in his mind.

  ♦ “do” replaced with “to”

It was a long story since they parted from each other, at the closing
of that unforgettable day, the twentieth of December;—and she was the
first to give her account. On the same evening, soon after Shinsuké
was called away, the boatman’s wife announced that there was little
doing that evening and all were due for an evening off, and all of
the servant maids and hired men were sent out somewhere under such
pretext. The wife and Tsuya, left alone in the house, were having
a chat when that downpour of rain came on. Amidst those torrents,
Seiji came home heavily drunk, followed by two or three strangers.
Without a word or warning, he had her bound, hand and foot, and
thrust into a palanquin in which she was carried off to the home of
Tokubey, at Sunamura. Everything having been undoubtedly prearranged,
there were waiting for her there a merry batch of men, half a dozen or
so of ruffians, including Tokubey himself, apparently intent on having
a jolly time of it. She was dragged out in the midst of those men who
sat in a circle for their feasting, to be mocked and jeered at. About
her own life, however, she was never in much fear; for, those men were
all gloating over her with unexpressed desire, she felt. The worst they
would do, therefore, would be selling her off to a brothel after they
had made unsuccessful attempts to win her mind; they would not harm
what they prized dear. Upon such reasoning thought, she felt herself
physically protected and accepted the situation boldly. They would oft
threaten her with death, but never would she wince or yield. She was
only in deep concern for Shinsuké, for whom her heart would yearn that
she could sleep neither by day nor by night.

What she had expected was to come out before long. The boatman Seiji
had her placed—as bad as locked her up—in a room for the obvious
reason which was to bring him there every day.

“I have been in love with you ever so long,” he owned. “The fact is,
that it was all a part of my plan to inspire Shinsuké with the idea
to run away with you. Whatever wickedness I am guilty of, was from my
desire to get you. So, feel for me, and be my mistress, as I ask you.
Consent, and all you wish for shall be yours!”

To her question about Shinsuké’s whereabouts, however, he would
never give clear cut answer. “Oh, that one?—Well, you may as well
forget about him,” he would say sometimes. “I’ve sent him back to
his old man’s home, the other day.” There was of course no question
but this was a lie. It was as certain that the while he kept up his
pretense, the boatman had never taken their case either to her folks
or Shinsuké’s, since he took the couple under his roof. Tsuya had
concluded that Shinsuké had ten to one been murdered, and yet she was
not so easy to give him up for lost for all time.

This confinement went on for rather a long period of time, from the
twentieth of December to around February. Patient and determined as the
boatman was, he was met by as dogged a mind on her part who would
yield herself neither to threat nor cajolery. She was not freed from
this state of confinement until Tokubey who had followed the affair
was at last moved to make intercession for her, and perhaps convinced
Seiji that he would be better rewarded otherwise than by torment. Now
placed under strict watch, she was sometimes running on little errands,
and at some other times was served with servile flattery that was but
disgusting. It was to a new line of tactics, of thawing her heart with
kindness, that Seiji’s mind had swung to, now.

Tokubey was a man of about the same age as Seiji, but of a mind,
presumably, capable of deeper craft and design; under a consistently
suave appearance he never permitted himself to show a ruffled or real
man. It was a fact that under casual observation he could be taken for
a man of good sense and heart. He interposed his mind between Seiji and
Tsuya, with a different tune for each one, as he meant to make him or
her dance thereto. Tokubey was particularly attentive to make use of
sly moments to impress her mind with his kindness, which was as cheap
as its motive was thin. “So, this man, too, has his eyes on me!” Tsuya
was quick to perceive it, and began to give herself an air of one
leaning on his growing kindness, to put him off his guard as much as
possible, to make him the more open to attack, later on. The first
chance she should get, she would flee from Sunamura and set out on her
quest for Shinsuké.

One evening when she was waiting upon him—and upon his whims—with
drinks, she said between soliloquy and question: “I have given up
Shinsuké for good and true; but I’m wondering what’s become of the
man.” Whereupon, quite to her surprise, Tokubey’s lips dropped a story
that gave her a dreadful inkling of what had hitherto been completely
screened from her. That Seiji caused, on that night, his faithful Santa
to kill Shinsuké on the riverside road; that the same Santa, for some
reason or other, got a new notion into his head, after his deed, and
killed the boatman’s wife by strangling, to run away with their money;
that Seiji had since taken to himself a third wife;—all these things
told by Tokubey, though not as information at first hand, appeared to
fit in line with circumstances of the case. Tsuya felt that she had
been now brought where she should abandon all hopes for Shinsuké. From
that hour she had set her heart, she said, upon taking vengeance,
somehow—some when,—upon Seiji for the sake of the man lost to her

It was shortly after this that Tokubey made his proposition to the
boatman which was somewhat in the following strain:—“You will have to
wait for ever to win the girl over, for your purpose. But she is too
precious a jewel to be sunk into the mud of a brothel. Suppose you let
me have her for a good price, and I’ll see if she wouldn’t appear as
a geisha through our house at the Naka-cho.” Seiji found it difficult
to give her up, and it was his reluctant consent that he gave at last,
when he broke himself of his desire and washed his hands of her.

“Were you yet a maiden it would make all the difference. And what I ask
you to be is a geisha. Will you not do this, just to meet me half-way,
if for nothing else?” Tokubey’s demand, because it was garbed as a
humble entreaty, could not very well be turned down. If she were to be
sold off to a house, she would fare far worse; there was no getting
away from that. Tokubey had saved her from this infamy, and, besides,
what he proposed to her and begged her to do was on the ground where
her chastity of body, at least, was to be protected. It had taken
on such a complexion that Shinsuké, she thought, would not feel himself
wronged, even if he were to know of it in the world beyond. Since she
would rather stay away from her parents’ home for good, there had to be
something to keep her independent, and what was now being pondered upon
appeared to her to be of all things the one for which she was by nature
best equipped. Once she had made up her mind upon the subject, it was a
proposition such as she could scarce have better,—if she were to make
it upon her own terms. Her agreement, therefore, was given without much
farther ado.

Since her appearance as a geisha, she had quickly won her way to the
line of first-raters. She had worked the debt off herself, and was
now in a free position to work on her own account. To be true, she
was under more or less obligation to Tokubey, yet she was mistress of
herself and of a house. When she had found herself again free to act
on her mind, she secretly engaged men to work on the case of Shinsuké,
whom she could never forget. Her effort, however, was rewarded with
no success beyond what came to bear out Tokubey’s story, in regard to
Santa’s deed and the boatman’s new wife. All this collaborating
to point to Shinsuké’s death, she had now little else save to accept
it finally. And so, everything was flung to the winds, in the face of
fate. She had nowadays come to live a care-free life, if he forgave her
for saying this, and lived much the way after her own mind, enjoying
what gaiety her independent ways and buoyant nature could glean out
of her new life. And there was no business so delightful as that of
the geisha, in her opinion; nothing so sweet as to wheedle money out
of dolts of men who knew no better. Now, to crown her happiness, she
had refound this night her long-lost sweetheart, and what happiness to
think that it was now in her power to make it possible for him to live
and be as happy as she was.

Even as she went on with her account, she had taken a good quantity of
drinks. Her eyes which now looked into his were as flushed as if blood
threatened to exude out of their corners. “Fill my cup, sweetheart!”
she asked, with her cup held out, as she drew nearer to him. “It’s ever
so long since you gave me a cupful!”

“Tsu chan, it is myself that must ask your forgiveness! I’m no longer
a man fit to live with you!” Whereon, Shinsuké suddenly adjusted
himself into a solemn attitude, taking her hands off himself, as she
pressed still nearer to him. The account of his dreadful crimes he
gave, and he gave it in full and so straight as if he might have meant
to fling it into the face of the young woman raptured over her own cup
of joy.

“—So, you see that I should go and take my punishment, even to-morrow.
I owe no less to that man of Narihira-cho. To die—to die, if once I can
see you—my mind has been made up, now a long time! Forgive me all!” He
broke into tears, as he flung himself on the floor.

“If you must die, I will not live, either. But how you worry yourself,
like the man you’ve always been!” Without much display of any
particular emotion, Tsuya gave utterance to her mind, her body left
loosely heaped just as it had broken down, like a drunken man in
his final loss of legs, even to the point of a ♦belch that tersely
punctuated her words.

  ♦ “beltch” replaced with “belch”

“Of course, I am to blame for the whole thing—if it comes to that,”
she went on. “But the more I hear of your story about killing them,
the better and more solid reason I think you had for doing it. About
Seiji’s woman, too, it was a case of squaring yourself with him,—I
don’t see anything particularly wrong about it. In fact, I’m even glad
you did it. I am, indeed!—Now, look here, Shin don, if you didn’t give
yourself away, the old man, of Narihira-cho, wouldn’t hand in the case
to the officer, would he? There’s nobody else wise to the game. They
don’t call too much honesty a virtue, nowadays!”

“How you talk!” he was astounded, and fixed on her a stern lode of
rebuke. But as he began with his persuasive effort, his was a tone of
beseeching tenderness.

“There is something in what you say, but I would never forgive myself
if I were to stay away from the hand of the law. Step out, own up
everything, and take the punishment I deserve,—that’s what I owe to
my master, my old father, and Kinzo, and no less. The fact is, I have
something to ask you,—it’s the last wish of my life. I want you to quit
this sort of life—the earlier even by a day, the better,—and go back to
your folks. The master took it so badly about you that he’s kept to his
sick bed ever since last year; and if this you do not know, I do. Let
him see you again, and I know he will be happy; he will never be the
one to nurse grievances against you for so long a time, or to keep
harping on what’s done and past. About the account you owe to Tokubey,
you can tell your father and he will be just ready to settle it off for
you, I am sure!”

“Enough of that! I wouldn’t think of it for a moment!” she turned her
face away, in an instant huff. “I know I belong where I am now, as I
told you a while ago. All that of being a lady means nothing to me, not
to my taste. If you love me, let me be!”

“There you are again, with your old perversity! What a heart that
should—that you could be deaf to this from the lips of a man about to
die! For this I should have suffered! No soul so rotten I have seen or
heard of but thinks of what should be done for the love of his parents.
Or, can it mean that you yourself, knowing of the worst in the trade of
the geisha, have become rotten even to your heart?”

“Rotten,—yes, rotten I am! Have no more goodness to think of my papa
or mama,—not even in my dreams!” She pulled herself up with wilful
petulance. As suddenly almost, she turned and collapsed, burying her
face on his shoulder; she began to appeal and beseech, in a voice
broken by violent sobs. “Why have we found each other again after
such a long time, if only to quarrel and make us feel miserable?
Because you are not right, Shin don! You shall have your wish,—your
last wish, as you say,—ask me anything and I will do it. But never
shall you give yourself away! If you want to die, I will not let
you! If you talked of it as a thing for some time after, it might be
different. That you would go to-morrow when we’ve met only
to-night,—oh, you are too heartless!”

Swept over by the violent passion of the woman who would listen neither
to reason nor rhyme, Shinsuké was overwhelmed into a helpless silence,
though his mind gave no promise of change. She was at last brought
round to another mind. “Perhaps, I shouldn’t press my own way, too
much. Let us be friends again, at least. And stay a couple of days or
so with me, upstairs in our place.” She was insistent, begged, appealed
to his heart.

“Knowing of harsh words between us and they not made up, I couldn’t
go to my death in peace;” Shinsuké aired what was aimed at once to be
an apology to his conscience and an attempt at glossing over his own
weakness before her: he had given way to her entreaty.

“We can’t be quite at home or free to do all our talking in here.
Before you should change your mind, let us leave this place. We’ll
drink over at our place, upstairs.”

At last, Tsuya was now a happy woman, happy beyond measure. Lifting
herself to her feet, uncertain to respond to her mind, she took him by
the hand and urged him to go, persistently.

They took the precaution not to leave the Obana-ya in company. They
fell in together at a corner a little way off. Along the path bathed in
the pale shimmer of a mist veiled moon, the shadows of two love-doves
were printed, as the pair plodded on with their hearts filled with
almost nameless emotions, as on that night of their flight. Facing the
garden of the Buddhist temple, Eitai-ji, which occupied a space within
the premises of the Hachiman Temple, on the one side story along the
bank of a canal, there was seen a house with a lantern hung outside
the front entrance illumining forth the name of “Tsuta-ya” which was
Tsuya’s present home. The house itself was not large, but two or
three geisha serving under her, a servant maid in attendance, choice
wood-work and upholstery in display in the upstairs room, bespoke of
a home and living of fair comfort. A little girl of fifteen or
sixteen years, came out as far as the lattice door at the entrance to
greet her mistress who, having whispered something in her ear, went in,
unshod herself hurriedly, and led the way for him up the stairs.

Of those days at the home of the Suruga-ya where their love was
possible only in snatches, all the sweeter because clandestine; and of
those days at the boatman’s home on the front of the Onagikawa canal,
a period of twenty days or so, brief as a dream, passed in the joys of
a madcap love, no longer trammeled by fear or care, but occasionally
exposed to boatmen’s teasing chaffs which seemed but to add zest
to their enjoyment:—of these Tsuya so fondly remembered, and these
memories out of the past made her bemoan their love that was to be so
fleeting and vain.

“I remember you scolded me one time when I called myself after the
manner of a geisha; but you won’t mind it, if I do now, will you?” And
she was at once speaking in the bold vernacular of her trade. When she
caught him calling her by the less familiar name of “Tsu chan,” as he
had been wont to do, she rebuked him for the manner she considered as
cold. Even if for this night only, she asked him to feel himself
her true wedded man and call her “O-Tsuya.” “And for that I shall no
longer call you ‘Shih don’,” she said, “but you will be ‘Shin san’,[14]
as my husband should be.”

Drinks he had taken in plenty and wished for no more. But she would
not hear of it, and pressed them upon him, almost pouring down through
parted lips. Of Shinsuké who had once boasted of such a capacity for
drinks, it was strange that he should become so easily susceptible to
the effect of saké,[15] unless, perhaps, a real taste for the drink,
of which he was now capable, had put a finer edge on the fibre of his
nerves as well. For, as time scored its hours, he could feel the drink
imbuing deeper and deeper into his system, melting even to the marrow
of his bones.

Three short days to stay, and that was to end their love for all
time; on this their hearts were set, and their minds attuned thereto.
Sitting before a display of dishes ordered from a near-by restaurant,
they drank one bottle of saké after another, from morn till night.
Neither to sleep nor to awake, the passion-crazed pair lived to measure
out their numbered days, until by the close of the third day, they were
so fagged out that their own minds seemed distant and dazed, even in
their waking hours. And after all that, once their minds brought to
that angle, they could not put their fingers on a single thing that
was particularly sweet to be recalled. The happiest memory, after all,
appeared to be that of the first evening; of those moments of their
hurried retreat from the tea house Obana-ya. And one thing that came
back to Shinsuké’s mind as a vague memory was what he gave to Tsuya
of his troubled mind, about daybreak of this day, under the maddening
spurs of drink.

“You’ve got to be very ready with your tongue,” he remarked, “but I
should doubt if you, down in your true heart, love me half so much as
you used to. That man Tokubey, I understand, is a man of means, sense
and everything else;—such a world of difference between him and myself!
The sooner I give myself away to the officer, the better for your sake,
I know!”

“Oh, stuff! If you mean to play the jealous husband for my
entertainment, nix for mine! I don’t relish that sort of thing. I
don’t know what you’re thinking of me, but I do know this: except to
you, I have never given myself away—”

“More strange that Tokubey should put up so much cash for you!”

“Give me all the more credit for that! I haven’t exactly killed a man,
but when it comes to wicked business like that, I know a thing or two
to teach you!”

Wherewith the man was satisfied at once. He repented of his mistrusting
mind, whining for joy, “Forgive me! Forgive me!”

“To me who know so little about the ways of the people you are with,
things seemed so strange that I became suspicious. But now that I have
so much from your own lips, as much as I wanted,—I can go and die

“You are generally so quiet and nice, never wanting to have too much
your own way, so, a word of jealousy like that from your lips, once in
a while, sounds to me all the sweeter—makes me want to love you the
more for it!”

Never had he thought her so lovable as at this moment. He wanted,
wished to love her strongly; in the tumult of his heart he became so
bold of mind that he would as lief cry, “Let everything else be

“Now, Shin san, things have gone this far; what difference to them
if you staid back a little longer or shorter time? Stay with me half
a year or so, I pray you!” Tsuya was alert to perceive her chance;
she poured out her very soul into her words as she strove to sway his
mind. What response was given her, scarcely remembered he now,—beyond
some expression, vague indeed, but indicative, if anything, of a mind
drifting whither she willed. And no doubt but he was of such a mind in
those hours.

  ♦ “scare” replaced with “scarcely”

Then, there followed a doze out of which they were not to awake before
the second hour past noon. Again, they betook themselves to drinking;
but, for some reason or other, they felt their hearts devoid of any
such emotion of joy as they might expect to feel as memories of those
hours of the morn. The last of their evenings was here, and the evening
was still so young, and they sat there, a pair of helpless minds moping
in gloom. There seemed to be naught for them save to seek in drinks
the aid to buoy their spirits. But what more of drinks they took only
brought on an aching stupor to their heads, depressing their minds
still farther. It was impotent remorse that had stalked forth in the
wake of orgies to assail their minds.

“Shin san, I hope you haven’t forgotten what you told me early this

Tsuya spoke as if struck by some passing thought, after a spell of
silence that had endured some while, and her sober, grave tone was so
foreign to her usual self that it might have been adopted for a studied
♦affect. If not half a year, two or three days more, at least, she
persistently urged him to stay; for it was her idea that they should
live such a brief time as he should allow himself in a happier spirit
yet to be coaxed out of the cups of saké. Shinsuké, for his part, was
resolute about his move on the morrow and as insistent in his effort to
persuade her to return to her parents’ home. Neither of them was ready
to give in; their paths of thought diverged, and remained apart, as
they sank deeper into gloomy silence.

  ♦ “effect” replaced with “affect”

“Oh, what’s the use! What’s the use of it all!” she muttered
disconsolately, as she rose to her feet. She returned with her
_samisen_.[16] With a display of greater vim than was called for,
she shoved open the sliding screens at the low, wide window. Placing
herself over the sill, she began to play upon the _samisen_ some
measures of the _Katobushi_.[17] Her voice of plaintive richness, of
which well she may have been proud, floated out to fill the room with
its melodious tremors, even arresting the steps of some wayfarers below
on the street. “Can you not hear these words of song? Oh! can you not
feel the soul of this music that you would still go away from me?”—of
such words of appeal her eyes were eloquent, as they gave a quick
glance, now and again, out of their corners. Far beyond the railing
along the window, above the tree-tops rising over the temple, there had
swung into view the sky of night bejewelled with stars that glittered
as they peered down upon the figure of Tsuya.

It was about this time that some steps were slowly measured up the
stairway, and the door to which they had their backs turned was
carefully opened.

“To Shinsuké san, I believe I tender this greeting of first
meeting. Know me please as Tokubey, of Sunamura.”

The man checked himself at the threshold and bowed low, a tobacco pouch
of fancy leather dangling from his right hand. Clad in a heavy, easy
silk gown of finely meshed pattern and a short outer-coat of bluish
dapple of minute design, a man of prosperous dimensions, smooth of
manner and apparently of mind, befitting the description given before.

“Will you two there be just quiet? I’m in the thick of my concert,
don’t you see?” Her expostulation was flung at them brusquely, just
as the two men were about to enter into the ceremony of mutual
introduction. But, without so much as giving them a glance, she played

“Sorry to disturb you, but you are wanted at once. Let me have a word
with you downstairs—I shan’t keep you long.”

At this moment, his eyes sought hers with a peculiar gleam, evidently
intent on conveying to her a covert message.

“I know what I am wanted for, but you couldn’t budge me with a
sledge-hammer, to-night! Just think! Going with my dearest body left
here alone?—No, and you feel for me, and say no more!”

“You are wrong. It is true there is that thing you remember about; but
what I am now here for, concerns this very young man here, Shinsuké

“How long have you kept yourself in here, anyhow?—that you should know
Shin san by his name, when you’ve never seen him before?” She levelled
her question, now laying her _samisen_ aside.

“Just a moment ago,” he explained. “But hearing you downstairs call
out ‘Shin san’ every now and then, it wasn’t such a hard guessing.
To find you hale and strong like this after all hopes were lost,” he
turned to the young man, “why, what could be better—mean more happiness
for O-Tsuya?”

“So, not much of poking in your nose. Well, if you must have it your
way, let me hear it here.”

“Aha! Why’s that? You’ve got all the time on your hand, now that your
best man’s been caught. Why not a minute off—downstairs—and I’m not
going to keep you longer than that.”

A prey to vague, nameless fears, Shinsuké anxiously followed their
bandied words. At first, he could not but feel misgivings whither
their talk might lead; but Tokubey’s unchanging meekness and
composure were soon to set him at ease in mind. He was even to feel
sorry for him for showing admirable patience with her wayward manner of
conducting the parley. Like a man of generally meek disposition that he
was, Shinsuké was astounded to see how she twisted the man about her
fingers, as if the name of “The Gambler Boss of Sunamura” meant to her
nothing of awe or respect. From the Tsuya of before to the Somékichi of
present—the change was no more brilliantly sweeping than the process
had been one of conspicuous hardening of her character; and he secretly
marveled thereat.

“Look, now, Tsuya,” Shinsuké interposed, in a low voice tempered with
modesty. “Perhaps, it isn’t quite right of you to speak that way, when
the boss has been so nice about it, as I followed you here. There’s
nothing more, in particular, to keep you with me. Suppose, you go as he
asks you, and be a good girl.”

“If you say so, I’ll go.” Her face broke into a sardonic grin, as she
gave her acquiescence with such readiness as it was generally not her
wont to show. Having adjusted her stray hair and her outer robe to
correctness before a glass stand, she turned to say—

“Shin san, while I’m gone, you behave and be a good mama’s baby, won’t
you? I shan’t be gone long. I would never think of going for anything,
except for what he said it was something about yourself. Feel as if I
couldn’t let it go without knowing it—for what it is worth.”

“It’s nothing to be worried over, anyhow. So, just put yourself at ease
about it, and I wish you a very good evening.” On these parting words
from Tokubey, they went down the stairs.

Could it be that somebody had come to claim him back to Kinzo’s place?
Or, that the boatman Seiji had tracked him out, and come to protest
with Tokubey? Despite the assuring words at his going, Shinsuké could
not overcome his apprehensions, more or less. If the latter of his
surmises should be the case, he would have little to fear, since he had
but one more day to keep himself at large. If the former was the case,
how should he account himself to the old man? For, had not Shinsuké
gone and straightway broken faith with that man who advised him not
to fail to surrender himself the very next day?—those words spoken at
their last parting, in those moments which were almost sacred?

“What a woman of power she is! Why am I always turned into such a
spineless weakling when I am with her? Come what will, I will not fail
to go to-morrow and offer myself into the hand of justice!”

Shinsuké spurred his own mind to strength and determination.

The parley downstairs seemed to drag rather long. Save for occasional
tappings of the smoking pipe for clearing its fire bowl, there was to
be heard nothing of a noise, or, strangely, of Tsuya’s high-pitched
voice. It was not before about one hour’s time had elapsed when she
was heard to break the stillness for the first time. “Then, you will
wait awhile. I’ll go and see what my man will say to that,” she spoke,
and hurried up the stairs. There was an air of concern in her look, as
she squatted before him, bringing her face close to his as if she were
about to whisper confidences of grave import.

“Well, what’s up, anyhow?” he demanded, no longer able to remain silent
before her manner that seemed to forbode no good.

“Shin San, I suppose you wouldn’t—.” She suddenly checked herself,
seemingly on some sudden thought. She rose again and went to
survey outside the door, down the stairway to its foot, assuring
herself there was no eavesdropping. She returned to her previous
posture to resume in a voice subdued into a faint huskiness. “I suppose
you wouldn’t care so much—would you?—if I tipped it off to that man
Tokubey about you and what you intend to do about yourself—even
to-morrow, for that matter—to take punishment for what you’ve done—.
Really, it’s too late if you did, anyhow. I’ve just done it on my own

Shinsuké’s face blenched. And, for good reason; because,
notwithstanding his mind prepared for his end, it was his fond hope to
have seen himself accepted in terms of immaculate decency, even so long
as he was to measure out his brief span of time.

“In the end it would have amounted to the same thing, one way or the
other. But it isn’t anything I’d know to be out among people, and feel
proud of. I really wish you hadn’t done that,—if possible.”

“But telling it was necessary, Shin san, unless I was to put your life
itself in danger, to-night—” Whereat she again turned, casting an
inquiring glance toward the door, before she went on—

“And now coming to what Tokubey wanted to see me about. ‘Shin san is
the man you love,’ he says to me, ‘so you can do what you want with
him; no worrying on my account. Keep him upstairs as long as you care,
and no objection. But for that,’ he goes on to say, ‘I want you to
make yourself useful for my benefit, for this one night.’ It seems
he has a little game up his sleeve that means easy money,—some stunt
to pull off with myself working at the other end of it. And he wants
me now to come with him over to Mukojima, to the country villa of a
‘hatamoto’ officer called Ashizawa. But, because I should not like
to leave you here alone, I’ve been having it out with him—I wouldn’t
agree so easily. Of course, it’s a fact that there is some arrangement
for my going out to Mukojima,—but not when you are with me; besides,
I do feel there’s something not quite right about this thing. It is
true that he has always talked and behaved decently, on the face of it
all; but the truth is that he means to get me eventually after he has
worked me into a place where I couldn’t free myself from him for my
obligations to him. Sensing that much about him, I am afraid he might
get you out and kill you, if I were not home. And, again, it might
be this; Seiji, having seen you somehow, has asked him to make an end
to you. But if they knew you were a man just about ready to end his own
life, I thought they wouldn’t think it necessary to do it themselves.
All things considered, I reasoned myself into telling him the whole
business. And there you are. But what else could I have done?”

“And what did he have to say?”

“‘That lamb of a boy to do that?’ he said in surprise,—and surprised he
was, let me tell you!—But, anyway, he seemed satisfied with what I had
told him; there’s little danger that he should get any foolish idea
into his head.—So much for that, and now, listen, Shin san, from what
I’ve been told—the way things stand—I don’t see how I could possibly
help myself about this thing to-night. That is, after all, I should
have to go over to Mukojima from now—”

Tsuya followed up with her insistent entreaty that he should stay
another night, because she could not get back before next morning.
She would never think of accepting the call from any other place or
party, she explained, but to fail this summons from Ashizawa’s villa
in Mukojima this night, would mean a heap of trouble,—in fact, a
difference of a hundred “ryo,” to put it in terms of money. Not only
that, but there was so much frame-up and blackmail about this scheme,
which she had been hatching with Tokubey to put over by means little
short of downright swindling,—that everything had to be done just
so and so and at such and such a time, or the whole thing would go
crashing down to pieces.—She arrayed impressive facts, true and perhaps
otherwise, in making out her case; and it was, presumably, her idea, in
her eagerness to keep him another day, to provide a good solid peg to
hang the persuasive effort.

The more he heard from her, the more depressed was he by his own
helpless rage against the change seen in the young woman, dragged
down so low. From the young lady of the well-honoured family of the
Suruga-ya to a creature gone low so far as to assist in swindling an
officer,—the change was but staggering. Bereft of any ardour to attempt
to bring her back to her senses, he was only conscious of a consuming
eagerness to get himself gone, with the least possible delay, from this
place pregnant with danger as great to his body as to his mind.

“Why shouldn’t you accept the call, if it is such an important
occasion as you say? Whatever we had to talk about we have done. It
would be just having the same thing over again, if I stayed here a
little longer. Perhaps, this business of yours is not an ill wind
that blows us no good, if it can bring both of us to it now and say
a good-bye to each other. For a man stepping into a ♦noose round his
neck, it wouldn’t make much difference if he were to do so a little
sooner or later.”

  ♦ “nooze” replaced with “noose”

Tsuya was now buried in thought, gloomily, her hand moving the short
fire-picks aimlessly over the face of the ash bed in the brazier, over
which she sat with her head drooped in apparent dejection. Following a
pause of some moments, with the air of one just arrived at a decision
of mind, she lifted her head and spoke in a dear and final note—

“If you are determined so strongly, there’s nothing else to be done. To
tell you the truth, I hoped to go on keeping you here from day to day,
until I should get you round, somehow, to my own ideas, for all time;
but I’ve given it up. And, now, about this business to Mukojima, it’s
all wrong what I said about coming back to-morrow morning—just an
excuse to keep you longer. Now, I ask you to wait for me only till the
second hour after midnight, because I’ll be sure to come back by that

Shinsuké professed his agreement, yet it was with such reluctance
that she could not feel sure of the ground she was to tread. Then,
she suggested that he should rather come over there to fetch her,
around midnight, dressing himself up like an attendant man. Shinsuké’s
outright refusal sent her into a rage. She saw no reason why she should
not deserve that much consideration, when it was to be her last and
only wish to burden him with. If he was not coming, she said, neither
was she going to budge,—and Tokubey and everything else could go to
perdition. As an outcome of their disagreement, Tokubey himself had
to drag himself between them and offer arbitration. However, neither
his effort to appease or coax her, nor his begging, fervid and almost
humble, availed upon her mind. Only at long length did he succeed; it
was a hard-earned acquiescence,—wrested from the young man.

                                                             Part IV

                                PART IV

Three hours or so after Tsuya and Tokubey left, the midnight hour
tolled, and on its stroke Shinsuké started out, disguised as a geisha’s
attendant man. The Mukojima house in view was said to be found after
six or seven minutes’ walk beyond the temple of the Akiba Jinjya, and
almost close upon the rice field, making a part of the farm village of
Terashima-mura; and he went by foot, directing his way as he had been
informed. He had been advised to come in a palanquin over a good part
of the journey which was a calculated matter of two long miles from
their Nakacho house. However, it was his fond desire to absorb, as he
went, such scenes as the town of Yeddo would offer under the spell of
deep night, to permit himself this last indulgence, that he should feel
deeply imprinted on his mind the imagery of this world whence he was
soon to depart—never to return.

A step out of the Naka-cho, the place of garish lights and gaiety, the
streets were shrouded in soulless gloom and silence; not a single house
that kept such a late hour. After his stay at the Tsuta-ya of
these three days and two nights, pent up in the upstairs room, festered
in the cloying pleasures of unbridled orgies, Shinsuké felt himself
refreshed and even revived in the sobering coolness of the breezes with
which the late, deserted night breathed. As he was passing by the end
of the Azuma-bashi bridge, he was brought into a feeling that he was
so near the homes of his old father and the man who had kept him under
his protecting roof. He paused, brought his hands together in the very
humbleness of spirit, as he faced far in the direction of each of their
houses in turn, and asked their forgiveness, following the words of his
silent prayer,—“My father, and Master Kinzo, forgive me, for to-morrow
I go forth to meet justice!” When, after crossing the Makura-bashi
bridge, he had come out along the riverside avenue stretched under
the canopy foliage of the cherry grove, a waning moon of copper hue,
hollowed out into an arching crescent, hung high overhead, mirrored on
the face of the wide stream as if foreboding an evil it alone knew.
He came to a halt to pause awhile before the sight of the black water
moving on its hushed and sluggish course, and now to gaze at the
stars arrayed over the open sky. At rare intervals, roofed dingeys
carrying belated fares to the Yoshiwara came straggling, now by one and
again by twos, and glided their furtive way up the deserted watercourse
in the direction of the Sanya canal.

And, now, what could be the plot that Tsuya had on hand in concert
with Tokubey, he mused wondering. So young yet her nerve!—such words
that Kinzo brought back from his visit to the Naka-cho, the estimate
in which the profession of the place summarily held Somékichi, seemed
to dawn upon him in the light of truth. It had been his rueful thought
that he could have lived on with Tsuya as man and wife, but for his
murderous crimes. Yet, should the gossip in case be true, he could
not have wedded her all the same, though he should have kept himself
stainless. As he tried to reason out these things with himself, it
seemed to make it easier for him to abide by his decision.—Turning over
such a train of thoughts in mind as coming from his aggrieved mind, he
followed the path down the bank of Mukojima.

The officer’s country villa at Terashima-mura was easily found. He was
not exactly unprepared, when he heard the place styled as the
country villa of an officer of the Shogun’s guards. Nevertheless, he
viewed with surprise what was possible to be seen of the estate which
appeared imposing in the darkness of night, the premises enclosed round
by a wall of closely wattled bamboo laths, with a hedge grown closely
behind it, altogether bespeaking the prosperous circumstances of the
owner. Through a space at the door of the postern gate, he peered and
saw that the door admitting to the ground plot in a corner of the
kitchen was left open, two or three feet, even at such a late hour, to
throw but a faint glow of light—but not a sound of voices.

“I come with the greeting of evening, from the geisha station of the

He announced himself as he stepped in through the gate, the closing
panel of which he found unbolted.

“What brings you here from the geisha station at this hour?” demanded a
man with the appearance of a servant, who stuck his head and a lantern
out of the opened space of the kitchen door, trying to scrutinize him
suspiciously, in the light thrown upon the late caller.

“Well,”—and Shinsuké gave an awkward laugh for an apology—, “I was
sent to fetch Somékichi san—”

“What? To fetch Somékichi? I’ll slit your dirty mouth for saying that!”
The man cut in with his invective speech. “—So, you’re one of the gang,
too; but you come just too late! Your game is up, already. You thought
you were going to make an ass of our Master and get away with a nice
pot of money, didn’t you? Well, you have another tune to sing this

Taken by storm, Shinsuké paused speechless and aghast, lost a while in
a vague confusion of mind, when, suddenly, angry voices were heard way
back within the house.

“Oi! You call me a swindler? Is your head as empty as your purse, now?
You wanted the girl and gave her money—and now, bah! you call it a
swindle! Blast the tongue that babbles it!” It was clearly Tokubey that
was giving vent to his outraged mind.

“Now our game is spilt out, I am not going to squeal or mince my words.
We did have—yes, you were right—a little thing between me and Tokubey
here, and we were going to fleece you. And now, listen, Ashizawa
san, if you were fool enough to be taken in, you just own yourself
beaten and take it gamely, if you are a man,—and say no more about
it. But if you are so sore that you can’t act in that style or haven’t
sense enough to do it, why don’t you suit yourself—with your trinket
knife, or pike, or anything else? But let me tell you, that you’re not
going to get back your money,—I don’t care how much it is. What I have
is mine, and will stay so. That’s said!”

There came now a spell of stillness within the house, a hush that might
be likened to the calm before a storm,—broken only by the clear-ringing
voice of Tsuya who went on with her taunting in all the steadiness she
seemed to be possessed of.

A few more fleeting moments,—and Tokubey’s howling rage: “You pulled
out the sword! You miserable penny soldier! Don’t swing your trinket
so you chop your own noddle!”—Tsuya’s voice was raised in a shrieking
yell. In the same moment, came noises of a violent scuffle, as of three
or four people hurling themselves into struggling confusion.

Smashing against the screen; heavy thudding upon the floor; the sharp
clash of blade against blade; a moment yet of suspense, suddenly
followed by a shrill cry of pain. As suddenly almost, Tokubey came
running out to the kitchen, his rotund face covered with blood. Close
upon his heels, darted Tsuya, with her hair loose, only to be stopped
short by an officer who had grabbed her by the collar from behind. She
was jerked into a crushing heap under the sword swung up overhead,
ready for an instant blow.

Without a word or a cry, Shinsuké sprang upon the floor from his place
on the kitchen ground; he wound his arms round the officer’s right hand.

“All your anger is just; but she is not to blame! Spare her life, I

“Who are you?” the officer asked, as he turned to look, lowering the
weapon. He discovered there a man with features of clear-cut, handsome
lines, clean shaved, about thirty four or five years of age, dressed in
a habutai silk suit of dark russet colour, and a sash of black velvet,
altogether an appearance of neat respectability.

“I am a page sent out from the Naka-cho to fetch back Somékichi san. Be
what it will, that has brought things to this pass, you are a man of
too honoured a name and position. Please be lenient and save her—and
your good self from unnecessary scandal! I pray you to put that
sword back in its sheath!”

“You shall be spared this night.” Thrusting her off, Ashizawa said:
“And the money—whatever it is—you shall keep, for I shall call it a
separation fee. And never let me see you again about here!”

“Bosh! See you again?— Not likely if you begged me, you clown!” Tsuya
hurled her abuse back at him, with bitter hatred.

The footman was missed, and was looked for in vain. There was only
Tokubey squatting on the threshold, his wounded head between his hands,
groaning in his agony. In addition to his head, he had suffered deep
cuts in his upper arms and another across his thigh. Not like a man of
strong nerves and grit that he usually was, he twitched and writhed
like a moribund heap of flesh.

“Tsuya! Tsuya!” he called, gasping in a faint voice. “My wounds are
serious and I’m losing so much blood that I’ll never pull through. That
dog Ashizawa! Get Shinsuké san to help you, and hack that miserable dog
down for me! Take that vengeance for me!”

“Don’t be silly! What a song you sing with only those scratches,—you
will disgrace yourself! That rascal of a servant seems to have gone off
somewhere. No time to lose, get hold of me and we shall get away before
the officers show up!”

Tsuya took Tokubey by the hand and, in a manner none too soft or
sparing, lift him stoutly to his feet, putting his arm across her

The mention of officers was an instant alarm to Shinsuké. Should he be
caught on the spot, all his explanations would not clear him, after
the preceding cases, of the misdeed he was no party to. Yet he could
not think of leaving the two in the lurch. He rallied to aid Tsuya.
Between them, the pair dragged Tokubey to his feet, hauling him by the
shoulders; they half-carried and half-led him, as they started off,
soon breaking into a run.

Taking a deserted path along between the postern walls of the mansions
and the rice fields, the three had run on for five or six minutes, when
they crawled into the shadow of some shrubbery growth, to snatch a
while to recover their wind. Fortunately, there were no signs of their
being tracked. Shinsuké took a hand towel out of his bosom and, ripping
it into strips, bound the wounds which were still profusely

“For all this you’re doing for me, Shinsuké san, I am grateful to you!”
said Tokubey who sat crumpled, leaning on the lap of Tsuya who sat over
the edge of the road,—and his voice carried a depth of feeling.

“—Just get me back home, and I’ll be saved. And I shall owe my life to

“Look, master, are you sure you are steady? Do you think you can manage
to walk?” inquired Tsuya, after some time of rest, and her voice was
full of kindness, and heart-felt concern. “If you can’t walk, we two
will carry you on our shoulders. Just get up and try how you can go.”

“Oh, I am well enough, now,” he answered, labouring to his feet, only
to totter on his knees. He barely caught himself against her arms,

“Listen, man, I can see you’re in no shape to go. But why should we let
you suffer so long, when I could give you what you need and speed you
on—to hell!”

A sudden sweep of her arm, Tsuya took the reeling man by a cluster of
his hair and hurled her whole weight upon him, who went down crushed,
heavily thudding on the ground. She flashed out of her sash folds a
razor, carried there concealed, and swung it over the upturned
face. Barely in time he met her hand; straining what mortal strength
still left in him, he turned his body and threw her off. As soon, he
was up on his feet,—

“If I must die I’ll take you along, too!” he snarled, and rushed for a
counter-attack, swinging his carving knife. What with the suddenness
of it and the blinding darkness, Shinsuké was quite helpless to think
of aught but to mope in his dismayed confusion about the two bodies in
a deadly grip. While in this aimless agitation, his groping hands felt
out Tokubey’s neck cramped somewhere between her feet. Instantly, he
wedged in his weight and pulled them apart.

“You are with her to get me, I suppose! Come, you dog! Get me if you
can!” said the wounded man, and now, in fiendish desperation, came upon
Shinsuké who, however, quickly wrested the weapon out of his hand.

In the meanwhile, Tsuya pulled herself to her feet, and brought him
down by sweeping his feet off the ground. Again, there ensued a fierce,
closed struggle. Wounded as he was, he was more than her match. She
was at last pinned down, flat on her back, hands closing around her
neck to choke out her life. A particle more of strength left in
the wounded man, and she would have been dead, straightway. Tokubey’s
strength had carried him thus far, but no farther; suddenly he felt
himself sapped of force.

“Come, what are you doing, Shin san?” Tsuya called out for help,
straining her half-choked voice.

“—He’s killing me!—Don’t you see here is our chance, to-night?—Finish
this Tokubey—this dog’s dying, anyway,—and it means we’ll be free—no
more bother—you as well as me. Never a better chance to crack his
head!—For heaven’s sake, come!—come and get him—”

Even while she went on trying to shriek out her appeal, her life seemed
fast sinking, her voice grew fainter and ever fainter, until every
second threatened to crop it short, once for all.

“Fiend you! Oh, I’m choking! Help me, Shin san!” Her voice was good yet
for that another shriek.

Scarce had she spent out her breath, before Shinsuké drove the knife,
the spoil of a moment ago, into the back of the man placed astride her
fallen body. Little worse for the blow, the other shot himself into his
arms, kicking, battering, biting, ripping with nails, in frenzied
rage. Shinsuké did not experience such ♦resistant force when he killed
Santa or the boatman’s woman. Nor were they always on their feet.
Rolling and tumbling, dragged in dirt and pulled by hair, the two men
fought on what appeared a fight of neither men nor beasts. It was after
some moments that Shinsuké, almost by chance, buried his knife into the
flabby side of his foe.

  ♦ “resistent” replaced with “resistant”

“He—he—here, Tsuya! I die, but my curse be on your head!” With this
outburst on his lips, Tokubey gave a convulsive shudder. In the same
instant, a second blow was sent through his heart. One sharp whine of
pain, hanging yet on the other’s arms, he stiffened.

“What of the curse of a gutter rat! Serves you right, too!” said Tsuya.

“It’s the third one I’ve killed! I am damned!—For heaven’s sake, die
with me, now!” Shinsuké said, when he had shoved the corpse off,
having freed himself from the dead man’s clutch; his jaw sagged, in an
♦uncontrollable tremble.

  ♦ “uncontrolable” replaced with “uncontrollable”

“What talk, man! If that’s what you do, what’s the sense of killing
this man? You have gone down deep enough, why not stay there and take
all good things coming your way? Who will know this thing, if we
keep our mouths shut? Why this chicken-hearted idea? Come, you buck up.
I don’t want to die,—no, never!”

Shinsuké was no longer in possession of his own mind. That he had
played straight into her hand, he saw; and yet, in the face of all
that, he now allowed himself to lapse from the resolution which he had
so assiduously hugged for three days past.

“So, then, you’ll do that for me? Oh, how happy!” cried Tsuya, and, in
her wild exultation, she danced about; lastly flinging herself against
his chest blotched over with bloody clods.

Shinsuké who had gathered himself into a stony lump, like a dead body,
in an attitude of deep thought, was now left alone and aside, as Tsuya
set about to dispose of the corpse, without his aid. As a first thing,
she slipped her hand into the bosom and pulled out a purse holding a
hundred “ryo” which, in her words, the dead man would not need for his
trip to Hades. All pieces of clothing, carefully peeled off, were done
into a tight roll, bound up with a piece of string. It was her idea to
take away from the spot any and all things that might serve as evidence
of the crime. As a last thing, she took the razor and cut the face
of the man all over, who was finally buried in the mire of the paddy
field. The remains were now beyond any possible recognition, should it
chance to be discovered.

More unfrequented ways were carefully picked, as they turned back for
the Naka-cho. Late that night, the two fugitive figures crawled into
their home.

                                                              Part V

                                PART V

Search for the whereabouts of Tokubey, made at large and at length by
his henchmen, had proved quite fruitless. Ashizawa admitted to the
inquiry that he had wounded the man, who, however, took to his heels
with his two companions. Tsuya’s account was that the three of them,
while fleeing in fright of officers’ possible pursuit, lost one another
on the way; he had not been seen since then. Even if he had made his
way out of trouble, she opined, there would be very little chance of
his surviving the wounds he had suffered.

Abiding in their luck, which was little short of the devil’s own, the
couple had neatly pulled the wool over the eyes of the world. Nothing
more to check them, they plunged into a life of gaiety and laughter.
Her methods were oft subject to whispered comments, and yet the name of
Somékichi continued to rise in fame. To the girl at the zenith of her
career, life seemed to be a cup never to be drained.

One morning, about half a month or so after the night of the last
murderous deed, the front lattice door of the Tsuta-ya was opened and
admitted, on a voice of morning greeting, a caller who was of all
callers the least expected, Kinzo of the Narihira-cho. Shinsuké who was
just then seated over a brazier and a bottle of drink for his morning
repast in the adjoining room, sped upstairs the instant he caught the
sound of his voice.

A parley ensued downstairs between Tsuya and Kinzo. “I know no man of
that sort,” she retorted, insisting on her ignorance in a manner that
was more brusque than it was tart.

“If you will say he is not here, I am not going to waste my time
or yours, about that. When the man himself is disposed that way,
it would do him little good, even if I got him by forcing a search
through your house. So, I’m going to say to you a good morning; but
here is something, Somékichi san, that I’d wish you to tell to this
man Shinsuké, should you fall upon him by any chance. Tell him this
straight and right, please, that my word is always good, I would never
break what was sealed with a true man’s words,—even if he broke his
part of the promise. He can put himself at ease, because nothing will
ever leak through my lips. But tell him that, if he wants so much
to live, I want him to live straight and right, not to disappoint the
man who trusted him, not to do anything that means cropping his own
life,—in a word, to change himself into a new man. I think he’s been
doing little good, since going away from my place. I wish he would take
himself in hand from this on, at least, and turn his back upon the way
he has been following. It’s my honest wish and you will tell him, as
straight from my heart, just to oblige this old man.—My regret for
taking up so much of your time, and my wish for a good day to you.” And
Kinzo took his leave.

“Shin san, it went off fine!” Tsuya came upstairs, proud of the way she
had dispatched the matter. But when she found him glum and cheerless,
she suggested: “If you are so worried, what of doing away with that old
man, too?”

“Thought of it myself; but to kill him, that man of all men,—I think
God’s vengeance would be too heavy!” he shook his head, heaving a sigh.

It was a fact that his mind had become, these days, a prey to haunting
ideas wherein the killing of a man and the taking of his money
invariably loomed prominent. The man and woman whose lives were
welded in much blood and crime seemed to feel themselves alive only to
a filmed sense of life, without new stimulation of bloody intensity. He
could not cast his eyes on a man’s face but he conjectured a vision of
the same being laid low in a hideous corpse. He could not overcome the
ominous presentiment that there were yet to be one or two more lives to
be dispatched at his hands, somehow.

Just about this time, the business of the boatman Seiji began to
bring him into the professional life of Tsuya. What with his thriving
business, and with unaccountable earnings of illicit description,
he prosperously carried him on all the year round. A new house had
replaced the old. He had won his way into recognition as one of the
opulent folk of the Takabashi way. Having attained such circumstances
of fortune where he commanded homage and servility amongst his own
numbers, with little fear of Tokubey who was dead to all appearances,
only too ready to feel anew the old fire that he had neither lived
out nor forsaken, and not without other obvious reasons, he took it
upon himself to wait upon the pleasure of the woman who had knowledge
of his dark secret. Perhaps, no more dragged by his guilty conscience
than spurred on by his freshened gusto, he sought patiently to
please and win her over, though he found her whims and fancies quite

Nursing a design in her heart from the start, Tsuya’s reception of
the man was calculated never to be discouraging or cold. He was to be
led on and be made to dance to her music, until she should be ready
to cast aside his fleeced remains, after he had been drained to her

“If all that sweetness you tell is true, I can’t deny that it warms up
my heart toward you. But, while you are with your Ichi san, I wouldn’t
quite relish the idea.” It was the refrain with which she would always
parry his advance beyond a certain point. Ichi was the boatman’s third
wife; she herself had been a geisha in the Yoshi-cho quarter until
two or three years ago, when Seiji bought her out to be kept as his
mistress. On the death of his last wife, he took her into his own
family. Not a woman of so much attractiveness, she had nevertheless an
accountably strong hold upon the man. Moral slips on his part or any
little things suggestive of such an eventuality, if smelt out, were
sure to expose him to a connubial tirade, often accompanied by a
muscular display of much vehemence. However strongly he might covet
Tsuya, the idea of driving out this woman seemed to be the one thing he
was never likely to buckle himself to.

“Little difference if the old woman was with me,” he would say
expediently. “Why, there are a lot of ways so she would never be the
wiser.” To such she would retort, “If it suits you, it won’t suit me.
If you love me truly, there is to be no other woman,—and no wife but
myself.” If her thrust thus driven home to him was meant as an idea to
thwart him, it was as effective as it was intended to be.

“Listen, Seiji san, you say you are in love with me, but you don’t know
what you talk about, do you? If you love me so much, why shouldn’t you
make a quick work of your woman who is wise to your doings?” At last,
she saw her chance on one occasion, and pushed her argument thus far.

“A man like yourself who ♦would kill Shin san in cold blood who had no
fault except he loved me, wouldn’t stop at a little thing like that,
would he?—”

  ♦ “woud” replaced with “would”

“It’s Santa’s work, and I had no hand in it.—By the way, you’ve become
a woman of wonderful mettle, nowadays, and no mistake, either!”

On this expression of startled admiration, he dismissed the subject;
but he appeared to have allowed his mind to be considerably swayed by
her pregnant words.

“A little more time—and Seiji and his woman shall be caught in the same
♦noose! We will settle our old score with him!”—such were the words oft
whispered between the loving pair, as they found themselves alone, in
each other’s company, in that room upstairs in the Tsuta-ya, to sweetly
enjoy those hours of bedtime. They would yet await their chance; and
they treasured their hopes of vengeance. At each of his workaday
passages to and from the house, by day or at night, Shinsuké’s mind was
scrupulously employed not to expose himself to sight a whit more than

  ♦ “nooze” replaced with “noose”

Their chance came, at length, in July of the same year, when the summer
was at its height. Through the arrest of one of his gang, a series
of convicting cases had begun to be brought to light against Seiji,
driving him to the decision that he should shut up his house, and sneak
off into the country where to lie low in hiding for some while. This
should be his chance to do away with Ichi, and this would be done
to clear the way for them; for he wished Tsuya to accompany him on this
flight into his life to open anew. He would, of course, bear away all
the money on hand. It was suggested that they should steal away by boat
under cover of night.—When this was whispered into her ear, Tsuya gave
a ready assent, forcing down her heaving bosom.

The fourth hour of a night, a few days after the Buddhist festivity on
the fifteenth of July, was set for the time of dispatching his woman
Ichi and their departure from town. The day before the appointed night
found Seiji all but completed in his preparations; his hired hands,
many in number, had been discharged, furniture and household sundries
all sold off,—not a soul or a thing remained save his wife, Ichi, whom
he assured he would take as his sole companion on his flight. To Tsuya
was sent the message that she should walk in by the kitchen entrance on
the stroke of the fourth hour of the night, as Ichi would be removed by
that time.

Having reassured herself of Shinsukés part of the concert, alone and
covering her face partly in a ♦wimple, Tsuya walked in through the
kitchen door of the boatman’s house, sharp at the appointed hour.

  ♦ “whimple” replaced with “wimple”

“Here! Here I am!” hailed Seiji, who was discovered in the back room,
standing in the light of a sleep-room lantern, a figure gaunt and drawn
to its height. Lying at his feet with two hands outstretched and stark,
was all that remained of his woman.

“I’m just through with it,—a heap of trouble she gave!”

He was still fighting hard for his breath.

“What does she look like? Let me take a peep.”

Mistress of the situation, she calmly fed up the wick in the oil, and
looked down into the woman’s face. Presumably because of blood having
been sent up to the head upon strangling, her complexion looked fresh
and pretty as in life. An expression of agony that lingered over her
features appeared as if it trailed into the whisper of a mirthful grin.
Her eyes fixed in a soulless glare on the ceiling were the only objects
of grim terror.

“There is the boat all ready, out there. We’ll take this carcass along
and sink it down, somewhere in the offing.—Now, about money, here is
what I’ve raked up—.” Seiji almost dropped before her a weighty
looking bag of straw matting, in which there was five hundred “ryo”
in gold pieces, he explained. In this moment, the door at the kitchen
entrance was noiselessly opened for a second time; Shinsuké stole in.

“Seiji san, my greetings to you after such a long time. I’m obliged to
you for all that you’ve been doing for my Tsuya.”

“What? You Shinsuké san?”

Seiji’s face instantly paled. Before his eyes loomed forth a man, now
uncovered of the hand towel in which he had come concealing his face,
dressed in a light thing of blue and white, a sash of blue stripes, his
glossy hair combed fresh and neat. Though now presented in the attire
of loud colours and garish patterns, much after the taste of a sporting
man, it was no other than Shinsuké himself.

“You said it right. I’m the same Shinsuké, at your service;—though,
perhaps, a thing or two wiser than when you used to know me. And be it
my pleasure to report to you that both your wife and Santa were killed
at my hands.”

A brief altercation led straightway to a scuffle. Without a weapon at
hand, Sejii was soon at bay. Tsuya’s arm swiftly shot out from behind
his back, and clapped fast over his mouth about to cry for help.
Shinsuké was given sufficient time to complete his work.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The bag of five hundred “ryo” that they brought back from this sally
was lavished in their orgies of reckless abandon, and cleaned out
toward the close of the same year. Their hideous love had now spanned
over a full year’s time.

“I really wish something nice were drifting our way soon, or we’ll be
wishing each other a pretty sorry sort of New Year!” They would oft
whisper between them in such complaint of fortune, as it kept sinking
lower and lower. However, there was nothing forthcoming to bring them a
smile or a windfall. There was but one course to be reckoned with, and
Tsuya followed it with a vengeance. She brought into play the best that
was in her against the men answering to her siren call, and her terms
of capitulation were of relentless rigor.

The love of Shinsuké for her grew more intense, as he sped farther
downward. Her explanation that she had been “at the old game again” was
good enough as far as it went; but, some nights when her return home
was late, he would strike out into expression of his mind tinged
with veiled mistrust, and chafing with jealous fears.

“What am I to do with my baby boy? Can’t you see how deeply in love
I am with you? It doesn’t seem possible that I should ever think of
another man, does it? If I were to suit you like that, I might as well
kiss a good-bye to my business.” She would invariably dismiss it as if
his case merited little more than a flippant laugh.

However, the case of the woman who was oft late to come home had to
go still farther. For, now she would fail sometimes to return before
the morning, keeping him awake all night long. In face of anything he
might say from his mistrustful mind in such events, she would remain
in supreme composure, ♦unembarrassed. “There are so many turns and
twists to the geisha’s business, and she must be wise to them if she
expects to do well. Especially, when she has irons in the fire, it is
more than likely that she should have to act,—and act in many foolish
ways; sometimes, pretending she’s too drunk to hear the man or to wait
on his pleasure, and sometimes, she has to keep this make-believe up
until the next morning. It’s all part of her game, and a girl
who isn’t capable of that gets the worst of it, to say nothing of
fleecing a billy lamb.” This she would hold forth in her effort to
confirm her faith with him and the chastity of her conduct. A man of
an unsuspecting, frank turn of mind, though with gruesome records
against him now, Shinsuké had scarcely initiated himself into the
inner knowledge of that peculiar world of the geisha which, for all
appearances to the contrary, was really bound fast to an accepted code
of honour. What he knew of the geisha or the world she lived in was
through Tsuya only. For all his occasional fits of jealousy, therefore,
he would always end by his complacent acceptance of her reassurance.

  ♦ “unembarassed” replaced with “unembarrassed”

It began to seem that Tsuya stayed out over night more frequently. What
was more strange, she never came back from such absences but that she
was ready with a full account for the night, going, as she had never
done before, into such length and detail in offering her explanation,
all the while her bearing betrayed a restive, uneasy mind. One who was
of a suspicious bent might have laid to her charge that hers was the
manner of one trying to keep to the self a happiness that was almost
too ♦uncontrollable.

  ♦ “uncontrolable” replaced with “uncontrollable”

One night she came back in a very bad condition, leaning against
the shoulder of a guest who escorted her to the house door.

“Shin san, this is the gentleman who’s been very good to me, the best
master I have in business now. He is not quite a stranger to you,
either. Now, come out and make up with the gentleman for what’s gone
before,—and thank him much for me!”

There lurked in her tone a trace of a note that was spiteful. The man
who was announced as her master was the same Ashizawa, the officer,
who was remembered for his deadly fight with the late Tokubey. The
impression Shinsuké had carried away from what little was seen of
him on that night, was but confirmed now that he was brought face to
face with the officer, a man in proper attire of the honoured class,
handsome features in lines of refined delicacy, an air of dignity about
him that graced his profession and compelled respect of others. “So,
this might be the man in the case—” Shinsuké thought instinctively.

“Shinsuké, my greetings and my wish to you that we should consign
our memory of that night to the stream of oblivion, and we should be
agreeable with one another. You shall be a welcome guest at my
country villa of Terashima-mura, and you should accept my invitation
when you are so disposed.” And Ashizawa’s thin lips, associable with
sharp wits, curled in a slight smile of benevolence. He was seen in a
condition scarce better than his escort.

Whilst the flames of jealous anger were consuming him, Shinsuké thought
he should hold himself in check and silence, until he should fall upon
conclusive proof. Imprudent charge would but give her a chance to make
him ridiculous. He was now bent upon catching her red-handed. After
continuing his work for one month,—secretly tracing her moves every
night, gathering gossip from tea-houses through bribing young ones
serving in Tsuya’s employment, Shinsuké was able to confirm himself
that he had not erred greatly in his first surmise. However, all that
he had procured so far was naught but indirect information that had
taken him little way beyond where he was at the start; he had worked
in vain to grasp such a chance as he needed. Tsuya, so sure of her
own self and of his docile mind, would never fail, on her return from
calls, to carry it off, on each occasion, with superb confidence,
glib of tongue and full of the memories of people and places
that were conspicuous for their absence. She would freely talk of
this master and that guest, comment now on one tea-house and again on
another; but her time was really spent only in the company of Ashizawa.
As Shinsuké began to see it through the veil she meant to draw over
his eyes, exasperating because done with self-confidence that was
well-nigh a taunt, Shinsuké found himself yielding to the passions of
his outraged heart, until he could bear the situation no longer. In the
evening of the third day of the New Year, though acting on such weak
evidence as he had as a result of his investigation, he brought her to
confront the shafts of his examination.

“Now that you speak of it, I might as well tell you. I see you are
improving, though perhaps you don’t know it;—you haven’t lived all this
time with me for nothing—”

Where he had anticipated a downright denial, she flung her retort
straight to his face. Her eyes were vivid with stinging scorn, as she
went on—

“—It is a fact I have sold myself to Ashizawa, if you would have it
that way. But, Shin san, if you expect to have a geisha for a
sweetheart, you ought to be wise to the game, and don’t fool yourself
about it. I may be as good—at those things—as many others; but you
can’t expect me—or anybody else, for that matter,—to manage to put it
over for hard cash by only palming off sugar pills to them. If I didn’t
tell you everything straight and open, you ought to have seen what’s
what, all the same. And if you knew that I was doing all this not
for the love of the thing,—but for you,—your comfort and pleasure in
life,—you ought to be saying to me something nicer than that. It’s for
you to keep your eyes and mouth shut.—Now that we are at it, I may as
well open your eyes now as later. There were times when I gave myself
not only to Tokubey, but to Seiji, too. If you didn’t know it, that
means no credit to you!”

Her taunting abuse thrown to his face, Shinsuké flew into a rage. Had
it been but a matter of broken faith, the chastity of her body, he
might have ♦forborne and reconciled himself to the truth of it. In none
of the words she uttered was seen a trace of truthfulness. Her real
intention was, to all appearances, that she should drive him into a
passion and, once a wedge was driven in between them through this
idea, should turn her back upon him and go her own way.

  ♦ “forborn” replaced with “forborne”

“It’s no credit to me, and you are right! I never thought for a moment
that there should be so much rottenness in your heart. And now take
this for deceiving me all this time!”

Swiftly, he took her by her hair at the back of her head, brought her
down under his knees. His hand flew to a clothes hanger lying near by;
his blows were many and none too sparing.

Even the while he dealt out punishment, he became conscious of a sharp
feeling of desolation, as of a child forsaken by its parents, rising
to fill his heart. That his examination of this night should come to
this—to this dismal abomination, had been quite beyond his ken. Where
he had hoped to take her unawares, he found himself confronted by the
other even more prepared in mind than he himself was. What was he to do
should she leave him now?—but his mind refused to be harrowed thus far.

“Beat!—beat me as much as you want! I do really love that man Ashizawa,
as you supposed! For a long time I’ve had enough of a dolt like you!”

It was not a taunt that he was not exactly prepared for; none the
less, flaunted to his face with such open boldness, it stunned him; he
was so stunned as to relax, in spite of himself, his hold on the rod.
Gone too far beyond his help;—the thought darted through his mind, and
he was assailed by an unbearable and abject misery.

“I am sorry for what I said, and I say no more! Never will I worry
you again with my foolish thoughts; so forgive me, and smile again!
Think of me—of us, I beg you, and love me as you used to do!” Shinsuké
repeated himself to such effect time and again, as he went on the knees
before her, his head bowed low. To which insistent entreaty, Tsuya’s
answer continued to be one and unchanged:—“I have to take care of
myself, too; give me a couple of days or so to think it over, before I
know what to tell you.”

                   *       *       *       *       *

The case of what was known as “The Killing of O-Tsuya” took place
two or three days after this. Generally, a woman of stout heart and
dauntless courage, Tsuya seemed to have lost her grip on herself, and
stood in strong dread of the worst the man might dare at the last. She
had therefore carried on her preparations in the dark; on the third
day, at a late hour in the night, she betook herself from a party
at a tea-house, and thence effaced herself. Shinsuké who had been
on the alert did not neglect to keep himself informed. When he was
informed at the call station of her departure from the house, he set
off at once for Mukojima.

On the river bank Of Mukojima, near the gateway to the Mimeguri shrine,
she was overtaken and dragged out of the palanquin. Tsuya held back his
arm; and, with, a gesture of prayer, said—.

“For mercy’s sake, Shin san, let me see Ashizawa san one second, before
you kill me!”

She fled about to elude and dodge the slashing blows, the while she
kept calling out for help. And it was the name of Ashizawa who had
lastly claimed her heart that she went on crying,—even unto her last.

                          A BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Junichiro Tanizaki was born in Tokyo in 1886. Upon his graduation from
the Secondary School in 1905, he entered the First Higher Preparatory
School where he took a course in law. “Swayed by the desire,
unforsakable and strong, to take up literary pursuit,” to quote his own
words, he changed for the course in English Literature two years later,
giving up what little ambition he may have had in legal line. Next
year, he advanced to the literary course in the Imperial University,
Tokyo. In 1909, he was one of those youthful aspirants to venture upon
the publication of a monthly magazine, “Shin Shichyo” (New Thought
Current.) His interest and activity in the literary work had grown so
intensive, by this time, that he was willing to give up his collegiate
career. His trips to China, first in 1918 and second in 1926, were
productive of travel sketches marked by keen power of observation and
broad sympathy.

When the Taisho Eiga Kaisha (Taisho Moving Picture Company) was
founded in 1920, Tanizaki engaged himself as advisor to the Scenario
Department, which duty, however, he held only for a year. Brief as his
connection was with the motion picture industry, he was responsible for
some productions worked by a distinct literary quality.

Since then he has been devoting himself to his literary work, steadily
contributing to monthly publications serials, short stories, plays and

Junichiro Tanizaki Is the author of _The Tattoo Artist and Kirin_,
1909; _The Youth_, 1910; _Atumono_, 1912; _O-Tsuya Koroshi_ 1915;
_O-Sai To Minokichi_, 1915; _Sorrows of a Pagan_, 1916; _Sickbed
Images_, 1916; _Fears of a Certain Boy_, 1919: _A Shark Man_, 1920; _A
Story of A and B_, 1921; _Honmoku Nights_, 1922; _Between God and Man_,
1923; _The Heart of a Dolt_, 1924; _All For The Love_, 1921; _Light,
Shade and Love_, 1924; _Shanghai Sketches_, 1926; and others.



  定價 金貳圓五拾錢
  英譯 お艶殺し

  譯者 岩堂全智

  發行者 不破瑳磨太

  印刷者 北村東一

  印刷所 ジャパン・タイムス社印刷部

  * * * * *

  發行所 ジャパン・タイムス社出版部

   振替口座 東京 大四八四八番
  販賣所 全國各書店


                        THE JAPAN TIMES SERIES
                           JAPANESE FICTION

                               * * * * *

  During the eras of Meiji and Taisho (1868–1926) the literary life of
  Japan was enriched by a wealth of atheneum of the world.

  As literature is the mirror of a living age in which is reflected the
  life of the people and through which, more than any other medium,
  the students of the present and future eras may more readily gain
  an insight into the characteristics and the life of the people,
  the publishers are convinced that the placing before the world, of
  representative Japanese literature, will render an inestimable service
  by bringing to it fuller and better understanding of Japan and the

                               * * * * *

                          お艶殺し 谷崎潤一郎作
                          A SPRING TIME CASE
                           (OTSUYA KOROSHI)
            By Jun-ichiro Tanizaki rendered by ♦Zenchi Iwado.

              ♦ “Zench” replaced with “Zenchi”

                               * * * * *

                        戲曲 井伊大老の死 中村吉藏作
                         THE DEATH OF II TAIRO
                           (Ii Tairo No Shi)
              By Kichizo Nakamura rendered by Mock Joya.

                               * * * * *

                            草枕 夏目漱石作
                             UNHUMAN TOUR
           By Soseki Natsume rendered by Kazutomo Takahashi.

                               * * * * *

                     Published by THE JAPAN TIMES
                       HIBIYA PARK, TOKYO, JAPAN
                          Price Yen 2.50 Each
               Postage Domestic 18 sen. Foreign 30 sen.
          _Sent to Any Address on Receipt of the above Cost._


[1] “Cho”, generally translated as “street,” is used in designating a
particular locality of town, including a street line and, often, its

[2] “O-Tami don” is one of familiar ways of addressing people. “O”, one
of the honorific terms, carries often an endearing tone. “Don,” placed
after one’s name, is used generally among people of working or servant
classes in greeting one of their own number.

[3] The value of gold pieces is hard to ascertain, as there were in
circulation coins minted in different ages, and their qualities were of
as different grades. However, one “ryo”, as the larger gold money was
termed, is about equivalent to a hundred yen according to the present
scale of currency and its purchasing power, or it is, at least, an
approximation as near as needed for our present purpose.

[4] “Chan” is used in accosting a person in an endearing way. “Tsu”, an
abbreviation for “Tsuya” as “Shin” is for “Shinsuké”, is an instance of
shortening a name in familiar speech.

[5] The “Bon” holidays which fall on the middle of the seventh month
are observed in honor of the return of the dead souls to their former
earthly abode. It is still kept to this day not so much for general
religious fervor as a convenient time to mark off the first half
portion of the year. It is at this time and also just before or during
the New Year’s holidays, twice in a year, that people exchange presents
as greetings of the season. One who receives a call at such time by a
man below oneself generally acknowledges the same with small or large

[6] Incorrectness in the manners or conduct of a man in a lower level
of culture or intellect, if not ill meant and not pushed too far, is
generally taken as a matter of course more or less, and treated as
such. Benevolence and understanding have always been regarded by the
Japanese as so much of virtue as well as the prerogative of a man in
a more favoured position of life. Thus it is seen why the boatman’s
manners, above described, coming so openly and frankly from a man who
knew no better, were accepted as a well-meant effort to amuse the
company at the expense of nobody but himself.

[7] In old times the theatre generally opened at about 10 o’clock
in the morning, continuing until about 9 o’clock in the evening.
What of the distance to cover on foot and of this early performance,
theatre-goers had to leave their homes early and made a complete day
and evening of it.

[8] When the succession of a family line was considered paramount, no
parents would agree to their heir or heiress marrying out of their
family. The eldest son succeeded to the family name and estate. In case
of a daughter being the only one to succeed, a man was chosen to marry
her and take her family name, so that it would not pass out for the
absence of a male child.

[9] In old time the geisha was not permitted to wear foot-cover in
company of her guests, an idea to keep herself low out of her respect
for their lordly patronage. However, the custom was often looked on as
a privilege for a woman of dainty feet to indulge in.

[10] “San”, used after one’s name, is an honorific term used in more
formal language and the one most used in accosting people.

[11] Ten o’clock.

[12] The 8th year of Bunsei was 1825 A.D.

[13] “Hatamoto”, the Shogun’s bodyguards; therefore, the most honoured
amongst the “samurai” under the Shogunate regime.

[14] It is customary that the husband calls his wife’s name without any
honorific term, whilst the wife addresses to him in a more honoured way.

[15] “Saké”, drink made from rice and the most common drink among the

[16] “Samisen” or, often pronounced “shamisen”, is a musical instrument
of three strings. It plays invariably a chief part in the music
entertainment given by the geisha.

[17] “Katobushi”, a distinct musical product of “Yeddo civilization,”
is one of those tunes which are played secondary to the chanted words
often telling a dramatic episode or a tale complete in itself.

                        Transcriber’s Notes

 1. Misspelled words have been corrected. Obsolete and alternative
    spellings have been left unchanged (e.g. atheneum, dingey, fulness,
    kidnaping, nitch, staid). Spelling and hyphenation have otherwise
    not been standardised.  Grammar has not been corrected.

 2. Punctuation has been silently corrected.

 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

 4. Illustrations are indicated by: [Illustration: caption or
    descriptive text].

 5. Horizontal rule lines are indicated by “* * * * *”.

 6. Thought breaks (extra blank vertical white space) are indicated
    by “*       *       *       *       *”.

 7. The Japanese copyright information was originally written in
    vertical text.

 8. “Edit Distance” in Corrections table below refers to the
    Levenshtein Distance.

 Japanese data (from end of book):

  Title:               お艶殺し
                       Otsuya Koroshi (lit: “O-Tsuya Murder”)

  Author:              谷崎潤一郎
                       Tanizaki, Junichiro

  Translator:          岩堂全智
                       Iwado, Zenchi

  Publisher (person):  不破瑳磨太
                       Fuwa, Samata

  Printer (person):    北村東一
                       Kitamura, Tōichi (surname and given name)

  Print date:          昭和二年七月五日
                       Shōwa (era) year 2 July 5 (i.e. 5 July 1927)

  Printing site:       ジャパン・タイムス社印刷部
                       Japan Times Company Printing Department
                       Tokyo City
                       Kōji-machi Uchisaiwai-chō 1-chōme 5-banchi

  Publication date:    昭和二年七月十五日
                       Shōwa (era) year 2 July 15 (i.e. 15 July 1927)

  Publication site:    ジャパン・タイムス社出版部
                       Japan Times Company Publication Department
                       Tokyo City
                       Kōji-machi Uchisaiwai-chō 1-chōme 5-banchi

  Sales site:          全國各書店
                       Nationwide various book stores

  Fixed Price:         金貳圓五拾錢
                       2 yen 50 sen


  pg(s)              Source                 Correction         Edit
  i, ii, iii, iv,
  v, vi, viii, x     TANISAKI               TANIZAKI              1
             iii     translatin             translation           1
        viii, ad     ZENCH                  ZENCHI                1
              xi     trafficed              trafficked            1
             xii     generalties            generalities          1
              xv     Shinsuke               Shinsuké              1
             xvi     two                    too                   1
               6     paraphenalias          paraphernalia         2
              11     detatch                detach                1
              12     buldging               bulging               1
              21     wainscoated            wainscoted            1
              23     (new paragraph)                              0
              27     (missing text)         PART II               1
              40     aganst                 against               1
              43     (new paragraph)                              0
              43     insistly               insistently           3
              43     inspite                in spite              1
              49     again                  against               2
              78     himslef                himself               2
              82     purposedly             purposely             1
              83     waned                  wanted                1
              83     do                     to                    1
              91     beltch                 belch                 1
             100     scare                  scarcely              3
             101     effect                 affect                1
        112, 141     nooze                  noose                 1
             129     resistent              resistant             1
        129, 147     uncontrolable          uncontrollable        1
             140     woud                   would                 1
             142     whimple                wimple                1
             146     unembarassed           unembarrassed         1
             151     forborn                forborne              1

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A spring-time case : Otsuya koroshi" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.