Genji Monogatari, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, tr. Suematsu Kencho, , at sacred-texts.com
It happened that when Genji was driving about in the Rokjiô quarter, he was informed that his old nurse Daini, was ill, and had become a nun. Her residence was in Gojiô. He wished to visit her, and drove to the house The main gate was closed, so that his carriage could not drive up; therefore, he sent in a servant to call out Koremitz, a son of the nurse.
Meantime, while awaiting him, he looked round on the deserted terrace. He noticed close by a small and rather dilapidated dwelling, with a wooden fence round a newly-made enclosure. The upper part, for eight or ten yards in length, was surrounded by a trellis-work, over which some white reed blinds—rude, but new—were thrown. Through these blind the indistinct outline of some fair heads were faintly delineated and the owners were evidently peeping down the roadway from their retreat. "Ah," thought Genji, "they can never be so tall as to look over the blind. They must be standing on something within. But whose residence is it? What sort of people are they?" His equipage was strictly private and unostentatious. There were, of course, no outriders; hence he had no fear of being recognized by them. And so he still watched the house. The gate was also constructed of some thing like trellis-work, and stood half open, revealing the loneliness of the interior. The line: "Where do we seek our home?" came first into his mind, and he then thought that "even this must be as comfortable as golden palaces to its inmates."
A long wooden rail, covered with luxuriant creepers, which fresh and green, climbed over it in full vigor, arrested his eye; their white blossoms, one after another disclosing their smiling lips in unconscious beauty. Genji began humming to himself:
[paragraph continues] "Ah! stranger crossing there." When his attendant informed him that these lovely white flowers were called "Yûgao" (evening-glory), adding, and at the same time pointing to the flowers, "See the flowers only, flourishing in that glorious state."
"What beautiful flowers they are," exclaimed Genji. "Go and beg a bunch."
The attendant thereupon entered the half-opened gate and asked for some of them, on which a young girl, dressed in a long tunic, came out, taking an old fan in her hand, and saying, "Let us put them on this, those with strong stems," plucked off a few stalks and laid them on the fan.
These were given to the attendant, who walked slowly back. Just as he came near to Genji, the gate of Koremitz's court-yard opened and Koremitz himself appeared, who took the flowers from him and handed them to Genji, at the same moment saying, "I am very sorry I could not find the gate key, and that I made you wait so long in the public road, though there is no one hereabouts to stare at, or recognize you, I sincerely beg your pardon."
The carriage was now driven in, and Genji alighted. The Ajari, 2elder brother of Koremitz; Mikawa-no-Kami, his brother-in-law; and the daughter of Daini, all assembled and greeted him. The nun also rose from her couch to welcome him.
"How pleased I am to see you," she said, "but you see I have quite altered, I have become a nun. I have given up the world. I had no reluctance in doing this. If I had any uneasiness, it was on your account alone. My health, however, is beginning to improve; evidently the divine blessing on this sacrifice."
"I was so sorry," replied Genji, "to hear you were ill, and now still more so to find you have given up the world. I hope that you may live to witness my success and prosperity. It grieves me to think you were compelled to make such a change; yet, I believe, this will secure your enjoyment of happiness hereafter. It is said that when one leaves this world without a single regret, one passes straight to Paradise." As he said these words his eyes became moistened.
Now, it is common for nurses to regard their foster children with blind affection, whatever may be their faults, thinking, so to speak, that what is crooked is straight. So in Genji's case, who, in Daini's eyes, was next door to perfection, this blindness was still more strongly apparent, and she always regarded her office as his nurse, as an honor, and while Genji was discoursing in the above manner, a tear began to trickle from her eyes.
"You know," he continued, "at what an early age I was deprived of my dearest ties; there were, indeed, several who looked after me, but you were the one to whom I was most attached. In due course, after I grew up, I ceased to see you regularly. I could not visit you as often as I thought of you, yet, when I did not see you for a long time, I often felt very lonely. Ah! if there were no such things as partings in the world!"
He then enjoined them earnestly to persevere in prayer for their mother's health, and said, "Good-by."
At the moment of quitting the house he remembered that something was written on the fan that held the flowers. It was already twilight, and he asked Koremitz to bring a taper, that he might see to read it. It seemed to him as if the fragrance of some fair hand that had used it still remained, and on it was written the following couplets
[paragraph continues] With apparent carelessness, without any indication to show who the writer was, it bore, however, the marks of a certain excellence. Genji thought, "this is singular, coming from whence it does," and turning to Koremitz, he asked, "Who lives in this house to your right?" "Ah," exclaimed Koremitz mentally, "as usual, I see," but replied with indifference, "Truly I have been here some days, but I have been so busy in attending my mother that I neither know nor have asked about the neighbors." "You may probably be surprised at my inquisitiveness," said Genji, "but I have reasons for asking this on account of this fan. I request you to call on them, and make inquiries what sort of people they are."
Koremitz thereupon proceeded to the house, and, calling out a servant, sought from him the information he wanted, when he was told that, "This is the house of Mr. Yômei-no-Ske. He is at present in the country; his lady is still young; her brothers are in the Court service, and often come here to see her. The whole history of the family I am not acquainted with." With this answer Koremitz returned, and repeated it to Genji, who thought, "Ah! the sending of this verse may be a trick of these conceited Court fellows!" but he could not entirely free his mind from the idea of its having been sent especially to himself. This was consistent with the characteristic vanity of his disposition. He, therefore, took out a paper, and disguising his handwriting (lest it should be identified), indited the following:—
[paragraph continues] And this he sent to the house by his servant, and set off on his way. He saw a faint light through the chinks of the blinds of the house, like the glimmer of the firefly. It gave him, as he passed, a silent sort of longing. The mansion in Rokjiô, to which he was proceeding this evening, was a handsome building, standing amidst fine woods of rare growth and beauty, and all was of comfortable appearance. Its mistress was altogether in good circumstances, and here Genji spent the hours in full ease and comfort.
On his way home next morning he again passed the front of the house, where grew the Yûgao flowers, and the recollection of flowers which he had received the previous evening, made him anxious to ascertain who the people were who lived there.
After the lapse of some time Koremitz came to pay him a visit, excusing himself for not having come before, on account of his mother's health being more unsatisfactory. He said, "In obedience to your commands to make further inquiries," I called on some people who know about my neighbors, but could not get much information. I was told, however, that there is a lady who has been living there since last May, but
who she is even the people in the house do not know. Sometimes I looked over the hedges between our gardens, and saw the youthful figure of a lady, and a maiden attending her, in a style of dress which betrayed a good origin. Yesterday evening, after sunset, I saw the lady writing a letter, her face was very calm in expression, but full of thought, and her attendant was often sobbing secretly, as she waited on her. These things I saw distinctly."
Genji smiled. He seemed more anxious than before to know something about them, and Koremitz continued: "Hoping to get some fuller information, I took an opportunity which presented itself of sending a communication to the house. To this a speedy answer was returned, written by a skilful hand. I concluded from this and other circumstances that there was something worth seeing and knowing enclosed within those walls." Genji immediately exclaimed, "Do! do! try again; not to be able to find out is too provoking," and he thought to himself, "If in lowly life, which is often left unnoticed, we find something attractive and fair, as Sama-no-Kami said, how delightful it will be, and I think, perhaps, this may be such a one."
In the meantime his thoughts were occasionally reverting to Cicada. His nature was not, perhaps, so perverted as to think about persons of such condition and position in life as Cicada; but since he had heard the discussion about women, and their several classifications, he had somehow become speculative in his sentiments, and ambitious of testing all those different varieties by his own experience. While matters were in this state Iyo-no-Kami returned to the capital, and came in haste to pay his respects to Genji. He was a swarthy, repulsive looking man, bearing the traces of a long journey in his appearance, and of advanced age. Still there was nothing unpleasant in his natural character and manners. Genji was about to converse with him freely, but somehow or another an awkward feeling arose in his mind, and threw a restraint upon his cordiality. "Iyo is such an honest old man," he reflected, "it is too bad to take advantage of him. What Sama-no-Kami said is true, "that to strive to carry out wrong desires is man's evil failing!" Her hardheartedness to me is unpleasant, but from the other side this deserves praise!"
It was announced after this that Iyo-no-Kami would return
to his province, and take his wife with him, and that his daughter would be left behind to be soon married.
This intelligence was far from pleasing to Genji, and he longed once more, only once more to behold the lady of the scarf, and he concerted with Kokimi how to arrange a plan for obtaining an interview. The lady, however, was quite deaf to such proposals, and the only concession she vouchsafed was that she occasionally received a letter, and sometimes answered it.
Autumn had now come; Genji was still thoughtful. Lady Aoi saw him but seldom, and was constantly disquieted by his protracted absence from her. There was, as we have before hinted, at Rokjiô, another person whom he had won with great difficulty, and it would have been a little inconsistent if he became too easily tired of her. He indeed had not become cool towards her, but the violence of his passion had somewhat abated. The cause of this seems to have been that this lady was rather too zealous, or, we may say, jealous; besides, her age exceeded that of Genji by some years. The following incident will illustrate the state of matters between them:—
One morning early Genji was about to take his departure, with sleepy eyes, listless and weary, from her mansion at Rokjiô. A slight mist spread over the scene. A maiden attendant of the mistress opened the door for his departure, and led him forth. The shrubbery of flowering trees struck refreshingly on the sight, with interlacing branches in rich confusion, among which was some Asagao in full blossom. Genji was tempted to dally, and looked contemplatively over them. The maiden still accompanied him. She wore a thin silk tunic of light green colors, showing off her graceful waist and figure, which it covered. Her appearance was attractive. Genji looked at her tenderly, and led her to a seat in the garden, and sat down by her side. Her countenance was modest and quiet; her wavy hair was neatly and prettily arranged. Genji began humming in a low tone—
[paragraph continues] So saying, he gently took her hand; she, however, without appearing to understand his real meaning, answered thus:—
At this juncture a young attendant in Sasinuki 3 entered the garden, brushing away the dewy mist from the flowers, and began to gather some bunches of Asagao. The scene was one which we might desire to paint, so full of quiet beauty, and Genji rose from his seat, and slowly passed homeward. In those days Genji was becoming more and more an object of popular admiration in society, and we might even attribute the eccentricity of some of his adventures to the favor he enjoyed, combined with his great personal attractions. Where beautiful flowers expand their blossoms even the rugged mountaineer loves to rest under their shade, so wherever Genji showed himself people sought his notice.
Now with regard to the fair one about whom Koremitz was making inquiries. After some still further investigations, he came to Genji and told him that "there is some one who often visits there. Who he was I could not at first find out, for he comes with the utmost privacy. I made up my mind to discover him; so one evening I concealed myself outside the house, and waited. Presently the sound of an approaching carriage was heard, and the inmates of the house began to peep out. The lady I mentioned before was also to be seen; I could not see her very plainly, but I can tell you so much: she looked charming. The carriage itself was now seen approaching, and it apparently belonged to some one of rank. A little girl who was peeping out exclaimed, "Ukon, look here, quick, Chiûjiô is coming." Then one older came forward rubbing her hands and saying to the child, "Don't be so foolish, don't be excited." How could they tell, I wondered, that the carriage was a Chiûjio's. I stole forth cautiously and reconnoitred. Near the house there is a small stream, over which a plank had been thrown by way of a bridge. The visitor was rapidly approaching
this bridge when an amusing incident occurred: The elder girl came out in haste to meet him, and was passing the bridge, when the skirt of her dress caught in something, and she well-nigh fell into the water. "Confound that bridge, what a bad Katzragi," 4 she cried, and suddenly turned pale. How amusing it was, you may imagine. The visitor was dressed in plain style, he was followed by his page, whom I recognized as belonging to Tô-no-Chiûjiô."
"I should like to see that same carriage," interrupted Genji eagerly, as he thought to himself, "that house may be the home of the very girl whom he (Tô-no-Chiûjiô) spoke about, perhaps he has discovered her hiding-place."
"I have also made an acquaintance," Koremitz continued, "with a certain person in this house, and it was through these means that I made closer observations. The girl who nearly fell over the bridge is, no doubt, the lady's attendant, but they pretend to be all on an equality. Even when the little child said anything to betray them by its remarks, they immediately turned it off." Koremitz laughed as he told this, adding, "this was an amusing trick indeed."
"Oh," exclaimed Genji, "I must have a look at them when I go to visit your mother; you must manage this," and with the words the picture of the "Evening-Glory" rose pleasantly before his eyes.
Now Koremitz not only was always prompt in attending to the wishes of Prince Genji, but also was by his own temperament fond of carrying on such intrigues. He tried every means to favor his designs, and to ingratiate himself with the lady, and at last succeeded in bringing her and Genji together. The details of the plans by which all this was brought about are too long to be given here. Genji visited her often, but it was with the greatest caution and privacy; he never asked her when they met any particulars about her past life, nor did he reveal his own to her. He would not drive to her in his own carriage, and Koremitz often lent him his own horse to ride. He took no attendant with him except the one who had asked for the "Evening-Glory." He would not even call on the nurse, lest it might lead to discoveries. The lady was puzzled at his reticence. She would sometimes send her servant to
ascertain, if possible, what road he took, and where he went. But somehow, by chance or design, he always became lost to her watchful eye. His dress, also, was of the most ordinary description, and his visits were always paid late in the evening. To her all this seemed like the mysteries of old legends. True, she conjectured from his demeanor and ways that he was a person of rank, but she never ascertained exactly who he was. She sometimes reproached Koremitz for bringing her into such strange circumstances. But he cunningly kept himself aloof from such taunts.
Be this as it may, Genji still frequently visited her, though at the same time he was not unmindful that this kind of adventure was scarcely consistent with his position. The girl was simple and modest in nature, not certainly manoeuvring, neither was she stately or dignified in mien, but everything about her had a peculiar charm and interest, impossible to describe, and in the full charm of youth not altogether void of experience.
"But by what charm in her," thought Genji, "am I so strongly affected; no matter, I am so," and thus his passion continued.
Her residence was only temporary, and this Genji soon became aware of. "If she leaves this place," thought he, "and I lose sight of her—for when this may happen is uncertain—what shall I do?" He at last decided to carry her off secretly to his own mansion in Nijiô. True, if this became known it would be an awkward business; but such are love affairs; always some dangers to be risked! He therefore fondly entreated her to accompany him to some place where they could be freer.
Her answer, however, was "That such a proposal on his part only alarmed her." Genji was amused at her girlish mode of expression, and earnestly said, "Which of us is a fox? 5 I don't know, but anyhow be persuaded by me." And after repeated conversations of the same nature, she at last half-consented. He had much doubt of the propriety of inducing her to take this step, nevertheless her final compliance flattered his vanity. He recollected very well the Tokonatz (Pinks) which Tô-no-Chiûjiô spoke of, but never betrayed that he had any knowledge of that circumstance.
It was on the evening of the 15th of August when they were together. The moonlight streamed through the crevices of the broken wall. To Genji such a scene was novel and peculiar. The dawn at length began to break, and from the surrounding houses the voices of the farmers might be heard talking.
One remarked, "How cool it is." Another, "There is not much hope for our crops this year." "My carrying business I do not expect to answer," responded the first speaker. "But are our neighbors listening! " Conversing in this way they proceeded to their work.
Had the lady been one to whom surrounding appearances were important, she might have felt disturbed, but she was far from being so, and seemed as if no outward circumstances could trouble her equanimity, which appeared to him an admirable trait. The noise of the threshing of the corn came indistinctly to their ears like distant thunder. The beating of the bleacher's hammer was also heard faintly from afar off.
They were in the front of the house. They opened the window and looked out on the dawn. In the small garden before their eyes was a pretty bamboo grove; their leaves, wet with dew, shone brilliantly, even as bright as in the gardens of the palace. The cricket sang cheerfully in the old walls as if it was at their very ears, and the flight of wild geese in the air rustled overhead. Everything spoke of rural scenes and business, different from what Genji was in the habit of seeing and hearing round him.
To him all these sights and sounds, from their novelty and variety, combined with the affection he had for the girl beside him, had a delightful charm. She wore a light dress of clear purple, not very costly; her figure was slight and delicate; the tones of her voice soft and insinuating. "If she were only a little more cultivated," thought he, but, in any case, he was determined to carry her off.
"Now is the time," said he, "let us go together, the place is not very far off."
"Why so soon?" she replied, gently. As her implied consent to his proposal was thus given without much thought, he, on his part, became bolder. He summoned her maid, Ukon, and ordered the carriage to be got ready. Dawn now fairly broke; the cocks had ceased to crow, and the voice of an aged
man was heard repeating his orisons, probably during his fast. "His days will not be many," thought Genji, "what is he praying for?" And while so thinking, the aged mortal muttered, "Nam Tôrai no Dôshi " (Oh! the Divine guide of the future). "Do listen to that prayer," said Genji, turning to the girl, "it shows our life is not limited to this world," and he hummed:—
[paragraph continues] And added, "By Mirok, 7 let us bind ourselves in love forever."
The girl, doubtful of the future, thus replied in a melancholy tone:—
In the meantime a passing cloud had suddenly covered the sky, and made its face quite gray. Availing himself of this obscurity, Genji hurried her away and led her to the carriage, where Ukon also accompanied her.
They drove to an isolated mansion on the Rokjiô embankment, which was at no great distance, and called out the steward who looked after it. The grounds were in great solitude, and over them lay a thick mist. The curtains of the carriage were not drawn close, so that the sleeves of their dresses were almost moistened. "I have never experienced this sort of trouble before," said Genji; "how painful are the sufferings of love."
[paragraph continues] Have you ever?"
The lady shyly averted her face and answered:—
The steward presently came out and the carriage was driven inside the gates, and was brought close to the entrance, while the rooms were hurriedly prepared for their reception. They alighted just as the mist was clearing away.
This steward was in the habit of going to the mansion of Sadaijin, and was well acquainted with Genji.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, as they entered. "Without proper attendants!" And approaching near to Genji said, "Shall I call in some more servants?"
Genji replied at once and impressively, "I purposely chose a place where many people should not intrude. Don't trouble yourself, and be discreet."
Rice broth was served up for their breakfast, but no regular meal had been prepared.
The sun was now high in the heavens. Genji got up and opened the window. The gardens had been uncared for, and had run wild. The forest surrounding the mansion was dense and old, and the shrubberies were ravaged and torn by the autumn gales, and the bosom of the lake was hidden by rank weeds. The main part of the house had been for a long time uninhabited, except the servants' quarter, where there were only a few people living.
"How fearful the place looks; but let no demon molest us," thought Genji, and endeavored to direct the girl's attention by fond and caressing conversation. And now he began, little by little, to throw off the mask, and told her who he was, and then began humming:—
She looked at him askance, replying:—
Thus a faint allusion was made to the circumstances which were the cause of their acquaintance, and it became known that the verse and the fan had been sent by her attendant mistaking Genji for her mistress's former lover.
In the course of a few hours the girl became more at her ease, and later on in the afternoon Koremitz came and presented some fruits. The latter, however, stayed with them only a short time.
The mansion gradually became very quiet, and the evening rapidly approached. The inner room was somewhat dark and gloomy. Yûgao was nervous; she was too nervous to remain there alone, and Genji therefore drew back the curtains to let the twilight in, staying there with her. Here the lovers remained, enjoying each other's sight and company, yet the more the evening advanced, the more timid and restless she became, so he quickly closed the casement, and she drew by degrees closer and closer to his side. At these moments he also became distracted and thoughtful. How the Emperor would be asking after him, and know not where he might be! What would the lady, the jealous lady, in the neighboring mansion think or say if she discovered their secret? How painful it would be if her jealous rage should flash forth on him! Such were the reflections which made him melancholy; and as his eyes fell upon the girl affectionately sitting beside him, ignorant of all these matters, he could not but feel a kind of pity for her.
Night was now advancing, and they unconsciously dropped off to sleep, when suddenly over the pillow of Genji hovered the figure of a lady of threatening aspect. It said fiercely, "You faithless one, wandering astray with such a strange girl."
And then the apparition tried to pull away the sleeping girl near him. Genji awoke much agitated. The lamp had burnt itself out. He drew his sword, and placed it beside him, and called aloud for Ukon, and she came to him also quite alarmed.
"Do call up the servants and procure a light," said Genji.
"How can I go, ’tis too dark," she replied, shaking with fear.
"How childish!" he exclaimed, with a false laugh, and clapped his hands to call a servant. The sound echoed drearily through the empty rooms, but no servant came. At this moment he found the girl beside him was also strangely affected. Her brow was covered with great drops of cold perspiration, and she appeared rapidly sinking into a state of unconsciousness.
"Ah! she is often troubled with the nightmare," said Ukon, "and perhaps this disturbs her now; but let us try and rouse her."
"Yes, very likely," said Genji; "she was very much fatigued, and since noon her eyes have often been riveted upwards, like one suffering from some inward malady. I will go myself and call the servants"—he continued, "clapping one's hands is useless, besides it echoes fearfully. Do come here, Ukon, for a little while, and look after your mistress." So pulling Ukon near Yûgao, he advanced to the entrance of the saloon. He saw all was dark in the adjoining chambers. The wind was high, and blew gustily round the mansion. The few servants, consisting of a son of the steward, footman, and page, were all buried in profound slumber. Genji called to them loudly, and they awoke with a start. "Come," said he, "bring a light. Valet, twang your bow-string, and drive away the fiend. How can you sleep so soundly in such a place? But has Koremitz come?"
"Sir, he came in the evening, but you had given no command, and so he went away, saying he would return in the morning," answered one.
The one who gave this reply was an old knight, and he twanged his bow-strings vigorously, "Hiyôjin! hiyôjin! " (Be careful of the fire! be careful of the fire!) as he walked round the rooms.
The mind of Genji instinctively reverted at this moment to the comfort of the palace. "At this hour of midnight," he thought, "the careful knights are patrolling round its walls. How different it is here!"
He returned to the room he had left; it was still dark. He found Yûgao lying half dead and unconscious as before, and Ukon rendered helpless by fright.
"What is the matter? What does it mean? What foolish fear is this?" exclaimed Genji, greatly alarmed. "Perhaps in lonely places like this the fox, for instance, might try to exercise his sorcery to alarm us, but I am here, there is no cause for fear," and he pulled Ukon's sleeve as he spoke, to arouse her.
"I was so alarmed," she replied; "but my lady must be more so; pray attend to her."
"Well," said Genji, and bending over his beloved, shook her gently, but she neither spoke nor moved. She had apparently fainted, and he became seriously alarmed.
At this juncture the lights were brought. Genji threw a
mantle over his mistress, and then called to the man to bring the light to him. The servant remained standing at a distance (according to etiquette), and would not approach.
"Come near," exclaimed Genji, testily. "Do act according to circumstances," and taking the lamp from him threw its light full on the face of the lady, and gazed upon it anxiously, when at this very moment he beheld the apparition of the same woman he had seen before in his terrible dream, float before his eyes and vanish. "Ah!" he cried, "this is like the phantoms in old tales. What is the matter with the girl?" His own fears were all forgotten in his anxiety on her account. He leaned over and called upon her, but in vain. She answered not, and her glance was fixed. What was to be done? There was no one whom he could consult. The exorcisms of a priest, he thought, might do some good, but there was no priest. He tried to compose himself with all the resolution he could summon, but his anguish was too strong for his nerves. He threw himself beside her, and embracing her passionately, cried, "Come back! come back to me, my darling! Do not let us suffer such dreadful events." But she was gone; her soul had passed gently away.
The story of the mysterious power of the demon, who had threatened a certain courtier possessed of considerable strength of mind, suddenly occurred to Genji, who thought self-possession was the only remedy in present circumstances, and recovering his composure a little, said to Ukon, "She cannot be dead! She shall not die yet!" He then called the servant, and told him. "Here is one who has been strangely frightened by a vision. Go to Koremitz and tell him to come at once; and if his brother, the priest, is there, ask him to come also. Tell them cautiously; don't alarm their mother."
The midnight passed, and the wind blew louder, rushing amongst the branches of the old pines, and making them moan more and more sadly. The cries of strange weird birds were heard, probably the shrieks of the ill-omened screech-owl, and the place seemed more and more remote from all human sympathy. Genji could only helplessly repeat, "How could I have chosen such a retreat." While Ukon, quite dismayed, cried pitifully at his side. To him it seemed even that this girl might become ill, might die! The light of the lamp flickered and burnt dim. Each side of the walls seemed to his alarmed
sight to present numberless openings one after another (where the demon might rush in), and the sound of mysterious footsteps seemed approaching along the deserted passages behind them. "Ah! were Koremitz but here," was the only thought of Genji; but it would seem that Koremitz was from home, and the time Genji had to wait for him seemed an age. At last the crowing cocks announced the coming day, and gave him new courage.
He said to himself, "I must now admit this to be a punishment for all my inconsiderateness. However secretly we strive to conceal our faults, eventually they are discovered. First of all, what might not my father think! and then the general public? And what a subject for scandal the story of my escapades will become."
Koremitz now arrived, and all at once the courage with which Genji had fought against calamity gave way, and he burst into tears, and then slowly spoke. "Here a sad and singular event has happened; I cannot explain to you why. For such sudden afflictions prayers, I believe, are the only resource. For this reason I wished your brother to accompany you here."
"He returned to his monastery only yesterday," replied Koremitz. "But tell me what has happened; any unusual event to the girl? "
"She is dead," returned Genji in a broken voice; "dead without any apparent cause."
Koremitz, like the Prince, was but young. If he had had greater experience he would have been more serviceable to Genji; indeed, they both were equally perplexed to decide what were the best steps to be taken under the trying circumstances of the case.
At last Koremitz said, "If the steward should learn this strange misfortune it might be awkward; as to the man himself he might be relied on, but his family, who probably would not be so discreet, might hear of the matter. It would, therefore, be better to quit this place at once."
"But where can we find a spot where there are fewer observers than here?" replied Genji.
"That is true. Suppose the old lodgings of the deceased. No, there are too many people there. I think a mountain convent would be better, because there they are accustomed to receive
the dead within their walls, so that matters can be more easily concealed."
And after a little reflection, he continued, "There is a nun whom I know living in a mountain convent in Higashi-Yama. Let us take the corpse there. She was my father's nurse; she is living there in strict seclusion. That is the best plan I can think of."
This proposal was decided on, and the carriage was summoned.
Presuming that Genji would not like to carry the dead body in his arms, Koremitz covered it with a mantle, and lifted it into the carriage. Over the features of the dead maiden a charming calmness was still spread, unlike what usually happens, there being nothing repulsive. Her wavy hair fell outside the mantle, and her small mouth, still parted, wore a faint smile. The sight distressed both the eyes and heart of Genji. He fain would have followed the body; but this Koremitz would not permit.
"Do take my horse and ride back to Nijiô at once," he said, and ordered the horse for him. Then taking Ukon away in the same carriage with the dead, he, girding up his dress, followed it on foot. It was by no means a pleasant task for Koremitz, but he put up with it cheerfully.
Genji, sunk in apathy, now rode back to Nijiô; he was greatly fatigued, and looked pale. The people of the mansion noticed his sad and haggard appearance.
Genji said nothing, but hurried straight away to his own private apartment.
"Why did I not go with her?" he still vainly exclaimed. "What would she think of me were she to return to life?" And these thoughts affected him so deeply that he became ill, his head ached, his pulse beat high, and his body burned with fever. The sun rose high, but he did not leave his couch. His domestics were all perplexed. Rice gruel was served up to him, but he would not touch it. The news of his indisposition soon found its way out of the mansion, and in no time a messenger arrived from the Imperial Palace to make inquiries. His brother-in-law also came, but Genji only allowed Tô-no-Chiûjiô to enter his room, saying to him, "My aged nurse has been ill since last May, and has been tonsured, and received consecration; it was, perhaps, from this sacrifice that at one
time she became better, but lately she has had a relapse, and is again very bad. I was advised to visit her, moreover, she was always most kind to me, and if she had died without seeing me it would have pained her, so I went to see her. At this time a servant of her house, who had been ill, died suddenly. Being rendered "unclean" by this event, I am passing the time privately. Besides, since the morning, I have become ill, evidently the effects of cold. By the bye, you must excuse me receiving you in this way."
"Well, sir," replied Tô-no-Chiûjiô, "I will represent these circumstances to his Majesty. Your absence last night has given much inquietude to the Emperor. He caused inquiries to be made for you everywhere, and his humor was not very good." And thereupon Tô-no-Chiûjiô took his leave, thinking as he went, "What sort of "uncleanness" can this really be. I cannot put perfect faith in what he tells me."
Little did Tô-no-Chiûjiô imagine that the dead one was no other than his own long-lost Tokonatz (Pinks).
In the evening came Koremitz from the mountain, and was secretly introduced, though all general visitors were kept excluded on the pretext of the "uncleanness."
"What has become of her?" cried Genji, passionately, when he saw him. "Is she really gone?"
"Her end has come," replied Koremitz, in a tone of sadness; "and we must not keep the dead too long. To-morrow we will place her in the grave: to-morrow "is a good day." I know a faithful old priest. I have consulted with him how to arrange all."
"And what has become of Ukon?" asked Genji. "How does she bear it?"
"That is, indeed, a question. She was really deeply affected, and she foolishly said, "I will die with my mistress." She was actually going to throw herself headlong from the cliff; but I warned, I advised, I consoled her, and she became more pacified."
"The state of her feelings may be easily conceived. I am myself not less deeply wounded than she. I do not even know what might become of myself."
"Why do you grieve so uselessly? Every uncertainty is the result of a certainty. There is nothing in this world really to be
lamented. If you do not wish the public to know anything of this matter, I, Koremitz, will manage it."
"I, also, am aware that everything is fated. Still, I am deeply sorry to have brought this misfortune on this poor girl by my own inconsiderate rashness. The only thing I have now to ask you, is to keep these events in the dark. Do not mention them to any one—nay, not even to your mother."
"Even from the priests to whom it must necessarily be known, I will conceal the reality," replied Koremitz.
"Do manage all this most skilfully!"
"Why, of course I shall manage it as secretly as possible," cried Koremitz; and he was about to take his departure, but Genji stopped him.
"I must see her once more," said Genji, sorrowfully. "I will go with you to behold her, before she is lost to my sight forever." And he insisted on accompanying him.
Koremitz, however, did not at all approve of this project; but his resistance gave way to the earnest desire of Genji, and he said, "If you think so much about it, I cannot help it."
"Let us hasten, then, and return before the night be far advanced."
"You shall have my horse to ride."
Genji rose, and dressed himself in the ordinary plain style he usually adopted for his private expeditions, and started away with one confidential servant, besides Koremitz.
They crossed the river Kamo, the torches carried before them burning dimly. They passed the gloomy cemetery of Toribeno, and at last reached the convent.
It was a rude wooden building, and adjoining was a small Buddha Hall, through whose walls votive tapers mysteriously twinkled. Within, nothing but the faint sound of a female's voice repeating prayers was to be heard. Outside, and around, the evening services in the surrounding temples were all finished, and all Nature was in silent repose. In the direction of Kiyomidz alone some scattered lights studding the dark scene betrayed human habitations.
They entered. Genji's heart was beating fast with emotion. He saw Ukon reclining beside a screen, with her back to the lamp. He did not speak to her, but proceeded straight to the body, and gently drew aside the mantle which covered its face. It still wore a look of tranquil calmness; no change had yet attacked
the features. He took the cold hand in his own, crying out as he did so:—
"Do let me hear thy voice once more! Why have you left me thus bereaved?" But the silence of death was unbroken!
He then, half sobbing, began to talk with Ukon, and invited her to come to his mansion, and help to console him. But Koremitz now admonished him to consider that time was passing quickly.
On this Genji threw a long sad farewell glance at the face of the dead, and rose to depart. He was so feeble and powerless that he could not mount his horse without the help of Koremitz. The countenance of the dead girl floated ever before his sight, with the look she wore when living, and it seemed as if he were being led on by some mysterious influence.
The banks of the river Kamo were reached, when Genji found himself too weak to support himself on horseback, and so dismounted.
"I am afraid," he exclaimed, "I shall not be able to reach home."
Koremitz was a little alarmed. "If I had only been firm," he thought, "and had prevented this journey, I should not have exposed him to such a trial." He descended to the river, and bathing his hands, 8 offered up a prayer to Kwannon of Kiyomidz, and again assisted Genji to mount, who struggled to recover his energy, and managed somehow to return to Nijiô, praying in silence as he rode along.
The people of the mansion entertained grave apprehensions about him; and not unnaturally, seeing he had been unusually restless for some days, and had become suddenly ill since the day before, and they could never understand what urgency had called him out on that evening.
Genji now lay down on his couch, fatigued and exhausted, and continued in the same state for some days, when he became quite weak.
The Emperor was greatly concerned, as was also Sadaijin. Numerous prayers were offered, and exorcisms performed everywhere in his behalf, all with the most careful zeal. The public was afraid he was too beautiful to live long.
The only solace he had at this time was Ukon; he had sent for her, and made her stay in his mansion.
And whenever he felt better he had her near him, and conversed with her about her dead mistress.
In the meantime, it might have been the result of his own energetic efforts to realize the ardent hopes of the Emperor and his father-in-law, that his condition became better, after a heavy trial of some three weeks; and towards the end of September he became convalescent. He now felt as though he had been restored to the world to which he had formerly belonged. He was, however, still thin and weak, and, for consolation, still resorted to talk with Ukon.
"How strange," he said to her, as they were conversing together one fine autumn evening. "Why did she not reveal to me all her past life? If she had but known how deeply I loved her, she might have been a little more frank with me."
"Ah! no," replied Ukon; "she would not intentionally have concealed anything from you; but it was, I imagine, more because she had no choice. You at first conducted yourself in such a mysterious manner; and she, on her part, regarded her acquaintance with you as something like a dream. That was the cause of her reticence."
"What a useless reticence it was," exclaimed Genji. "I was not so frank as, perhaps, I ought to have been; but you may be sure that made no difference in my affection towards her. Only, you must remember, there is my father, the Emperor, besides many others, whose vigilant admonitions I am bound to respect. That was the reason why I had to be careful. Nevertheless, my love to your mistress was singularly deep; too deep, perhaps, to last long. Do tell me now all you know about her; I do not see any reason why you should conceal it. I have carefully ordered the weekly requiem for the dead; but tell me in whose behalf it is, and what was her origin?"
"I have no intention of concealing anything from you. Why should I? I only thought it would be blamable if one should reveal after death what another had thought best to reserve," replied Ukon. "Her parents died when she was a mere girl. Her father was called Sammi-Chiûjiô, and loved her very dearly. He was always aspiring to better his position, and wore out his life in the struggle. After his death, she was left helpless and poor. She was however, by chance, introduced to Tô-no-Chiûjiô, when he was still Shiôshiô, and not Chiûjiô. During three years they kept on very good terms, and he was
very kind to her. But some wind or other attacks every fair flower; and, in the autumn of last year, she received a fearful menace from the house of Udaijin, to whose daughter, as you know, Tô-no-Chiûjiô is married. Poor girl, she was terrified at this. She knew not what to do, and hid herself, with her nurse, in an obscure part of the capital. It was not a very agreeable place, and she was about removing to a certain mountain hamlet, but, as its "celestial direction" was closed this year, she was still hesitating, and while matters were in this state, you appeared on the scene. To do her justice, she had no thought of wandering from one to another; but circumstances often make things appear as if we did so. She was, by nature, extremely reserved, so that she did not like to speak out her feelings to others, but rather suffered in silence by herself. This, perhaps, you also have noticed."
"Then it was so, after all. She was the Tokonatz of Tô-no-Chiûjiô," thought Genji; and now it also transpired that all that Koremitz had stated about Tô-no-Chiûjiô's visiting her at the Yûgao house was a pure invention, suggested by a slight acquaintance with the girl's previous history.
"The Chiûjiô told me once," said Genji, "that she had a little one. Was there any such?"
"Yes, she had one in the spring of the year before last—a girl, a nice child," replied Ukon.
"Where is she now? " asked Genji, "perhaps you will bring her to me some day. I should like to have her with me as a memento of her mother. I should not mind mentioning it to her father, but if I did so, I must reveal the whole sad story of her mother's fate, and this would not be advisable at present; however, I do not see any harm if I were to bring her up as my daughter. You might manage it somehow without my name being mentioned to any one concerned."
"That would be a great happiness for the child," exclaimed Ukon, delighted, "I do not much appreciate her being brought up where she is."
"Well, I will do so, only let us wait for some better chance. For the present be discreet."
"Yes, of course. I cannot yet take any steps towards that object; we must not unfurl our sails before the storm is completely over."
The foliage of the ground, touched with autumnal tints, was
beginning to fade, and the sounds of insects (mushi) were growing faint, and both Genji and Ukon were absorbed by the sad charm of the scene. As they meditated, they heard doves cooing among the bamboo woods.
To Genji it brought back the cries of that strange bird, which. cry he had heard on that fearful night in Rokjiô, and the subject recurred to his mind once more, and he said to Ukon, "How old was she?"
"And how came you to know her?"
"I was the daughter of her first nurse, and a great favorite of her father's, who brought me up with her, and from that time I never left her. When I come to think of those days I wonder how I can exist without her. The poet says truly, "The deeper the love, the more bitter the parting." Ah! how gentle and retiring she was. How much I loved her!"
"That retiring and gentle temperament," said Genji, "gives far greater beauty to women than all beside, for to have no natural pliability makes women utterly worthless."
The sky by this time became covered, and the wind blew chilly. Genji gazed intently on it and hummed:—
The distant sound of the bleacher's hammer reached their ears, and reminded him of the sound he had heard in the Yûgao's house. He bade "Good-night" to Ukon, and retired to rest, humming as he went:—
[paragraph continues] On the forty-ninth day (after the death of the Yûgao) he went to the Hokke Hall in the Hiye mountain, and there had a service for the dead performed, with full ceremony and rich offerings. The monk-brother of Koremitz took every pains in its performance.
The composition of requiem prayers was made by Genji himself, and revised by a professor of literature, one of his intimate friends. He expressed in it the melancholy sentiment about the death of one whom he had dearly loved, and whom
he had yielded to Buddha. But who she was was not stated. Among the offerings there was a dress. He took it up in his hands and sorrowfully murmured,
And the thought that the soul of the deceased might be still wandering and unsettled to that very day, but that now the time had come when her final destiny would be decided, 9 made him pray for her more fervently.
So closed the sad event of Yûgao.
Now Genji was always thinking that he should wish to see his beloved in a dream.
The evening after his visit to the Hokke Hall, he beheld her in his slumbers, as he wished, but at the same moment the terrible face of the woman that he had seen on that fearful evening in Rokjiô again appeared before him; hence he concluded that the same mysterious being who tenanted that dreary mansion had taken advantage of his fears and had destroyed his beloved Yûgao.
A few words more about the house in which she had lived. After her flight no communication had been sent to them even by Ukon, and they had no idea of where she had gone to. The mistress of the house was a daughter of the nurse of Yûgao. She with her two sisters lived there. Ukon was a stranger to them, and they imagined that her being so was the reason of her sending no intelligence to them. True they had entertained some suspicions about the gay Prince, and pressed Koremitz to confide the truth to them, but the latter, as he had done before, kept himself skilfully aloof.
They then thought she might have been seduced and carried off by some gallant son of a local Governor, who feared his intrigue might be discovered by Tô-no-Chiûjiô.
During these days Kokimi, of Ki-no-Kami's house, still used to come occasionally to Genji. But for some time past the latter had not sent any letter to Cicada. When she heard of
his illness she not unnaturally felt for him, and also she had experienced a sort of disappointment in not seeing his writing for some time, especially as the time of her departure for the country was approaching. She therefore sent him a letter of inquiry with the following:—
[paragraph continues] To this letter Genji returned a kind answer and also the following:—
This was written with a trembling hand, but still bearing nice traits, and when it reached Cicada, and she saw that he had not yet forgotten past events, and the scarf he had carried away, she was partly amused and partly pleased.
It was about this time that the daughter of Iyo-no-Kami was engaged to a certain Kurando Shiôshiô, and he was her frequent visitor. Genji heard of this, and without any intention of rivalry, sent her the following by Kokimi:—
She was a little flattered by it, and gave Kokimi a reply, as follows:—
Now the departure of Iyo-no-Kami was fixed for the beginning of October.
Genji sent several parting presents to his wife, and in addition to these some others, consisting of beautiful combs, fans,
nusa, 10 and the scarf he had carried away, along with the following, privately through Kokimi:—
There were many other minute details, which I shall pass over as uninteresting to the reader.
Genji's official messenger returned, but her reply about the scarf was sent through Kokimi:—
The day of the departure happened to be the commencement of the winter season. An October shower fell lightly, and the sky looked gloomy.
Genji stood gazing upon it and hummed:—
All these intrigues were safely kept in strict privacy, and to have boldly written all particulars concerning them is to me a matter of pain. So at first I intended to omit them, but had I done so my history would have become like a fiction, and the censure I should expect would be that I had done so intentionally, because my hero was the son of an Emperor; but, on the other hand, if I am accused of too much loquacity, I cannot help it.
69:2 Name of an ecclesiastical office.
74:3 Sasinuki is a sort of loose trousers, and properly worn by men only, hence some commentators conclude, the attendant here mentioned to mean a boy, others contend, this garment was worn by females also when they rode.
75:4 A mythological repulsive deity who took part in the building of a bridge at the command of a powerful magician.
76:5 A popular superstition in China and Japan believes foxes to have mysterious powers over men.
78:6 Upasaka, a sect of the followers of Buddhism who are laymen though they observe the rules of clerical life.
78:7 Meitreya, a Buddhisatna destined to reappear as a Buddha after the lapse of an incalculable series of years.
87:8 It is the Oriental custom that when one offers up a prayer, he first washes his hands, to free them from all impurity.
91:9 According to the Buddhist's doctrine of the Hossô sect, all the souls of the dead pass, during seven weeks after death, into an intermediate state, and then their fate is decided. According to the Tendai sect, the best and the worst go immediately where they deserve, but those of a medium nature go through this process.
93:10 An offering made of paper, to the God of roads, which travellers were accustomed to make, before setting out on a journey.